New Age Islam
Tue Nov 28 2023, 02:44 PM

Islamic World News ( 22 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Peshawar: Plea Filed Against Pak Army Chief for Being Ahmadi Muslim

New Age Islam News Bureau

22 Nov 2019

Peshawar: Plea Filed Against Pak Army Chief for Being Ahmadi Muslim

Judicial Commission of Pakistan Approves Woman among Three Judges for IHC

Ayodhya Ruling Darkest Spot in History but Won’t Go For Review: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind

Anita Anand Becomes Canada’s First Hindu Minister; Trudeau Retains Harjit Sajjan,

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Indicted on Corruption Charges

Taliban Strongly Reacts To Killing of Political Analyst Waheed Muzhda In Kabul City

With Seven States Refusing Child Marriage Ban, Onus on Putrajaya To Convince Islamic Authorities

Rights Group: Islamist Leader’s Daughter Tortured In Prison

How Leicester Mosque Is Tackling Bullying After Pupils Were Coerced Into Buying £300 Pokemon Cards

Pregnant Muslim Woman Attacked In Australia

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Several offers, including Balochistan govt, made, says Fazlur Rehman

Fazl claims he was offered Senate chairman post

Trump thanks PM Imran for facilitating Western hostages' release in Afghanistan

PPP found to be the ‘most weaponised party’ in legislature

PTI foreign funding case: ECP to hold hearings on daily basis




 ‘Christians and Some Muslims behind Forced Conversions in UP’: Draft Report by Former Allahabad High Court Judge

Ayodhya case: Members can discuss review petition in November 26 meeting, says Sunni board chief

Rift in Sunni Waqf Board over Review Plea On Ayodhya Verdict: Report

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Backs Appointment Of Muslim Sanskrit Professor At BHU

BHU appointment row: Dy CM’s Muslim Sanskrit teacher pained at all the fuss

BHU row: Locals vouch for sanskar of Muslim professor Firoz Khan

BHU founder's grandson backs Muslim professor's appointment in Sanskrit dept

Students call off stir after 15 days, BHU’s faculty of Sanskrit reopens

Indian Muslim Sanskrit professor in hiding after rightwing protests

Two lynched in West Bengal over suspicion of cow theft

Oppossiton seeks clarity on P Mohanan’s statement on Islamist-Maoist ties



North America

'US and Israel are common enemies of the Muslim world,' says Iranian commander

UN and other international bodies should take up the Dalai Lama succession issue: US

US backs sustained Indian role in Afghanistan

US warns Pakistan of risks from China infrastructure push

Islamophobe Laura Loomer fails in bid to sue U.S. Muslim organisation




Pro-Gov't Rallies Held in Several Iranian Cities

Official: 29 Ringleaders of Recent Unrests Arrested in South Khorassan Province

Iranian Envoy: Armed Rioters' Plots to Attack Infrastructures Failed due to People's Vigilance

Iran Asks Pompeo to Set Aside 18th-Century Thoughts

FM: US Sanctions Destroying Benefits of N. Deal for Iran



South Asia

12 Taliban Militants Killed, Wounded In Wardak and Paktiya Clashes: Thunder Corps

Chinese Repression of Muslims in Xinjiang Echoes Across Central Asia

Ghani accepts President Trump’s invitation to visit U.S.: ARG Palace

Afghanistan, Central Asia and Azerbaijan to reduce barriers to trade and transport

Afghanistan National Institute of Music receives Award at 2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony

Islamic State Staggers in Afghanistan, but Survives

Sri Lanka's Muslims have reason to fear the new Rajapaksa era



Southeast Asia

Malaysia Releases Scientist Who Tried To Build Biological Weapons For Bin Laden

Sharia committee wants to quadruple Islamic bank assets by 2024, will partner with Malaysia



Arab World

Islamic preacher found dead in Iraqi Kurdistan capital: police

Egypt's army exterminated Islamic State remnants in North Sinai: MPs

Minister of Culture: Riyadh to Host First Biennale of Islamic Art in Cooperation with ISESCO

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Saudi government agency announces new petrochemical investment deals worth over $2bn




UK’s Labour Party pledges Jallianwala Bagh apology in election manifesto

British Sikhs award Imran Khan to mark Guru Nanak anniversary

Indian couple goes on trial for spying on Sikhs, Kashmiris

Conservative Party slammed for ‘quietly reinstating’ councillor who made anti-Muslim comments

UK To Repatriate Orphans Left In Syria, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Confirms

Islamic group defends bid to convert pub into community centre

Brexit Party stands by candidate who shared warnings of Muslim 'takeover'

General Election 2019: Brent North Conservative candidate Anjana Patel under fire for sending anti-Muslim tweet



Australia And New Zealand

Prince Charles And Camilla To Meet Today With Christchurch Students Affected By Mosques



Lagos Passionate About Child Protection Rights, SSG Tells Muslims

Mapoly Muslim Alumni Hold Convention In Ibadan

Kogi Guber: Miyetti Allah congratulates Bello on election victory



Peshawar: Plea Filed Against Pak Army Chief for Being Ahmadi Muslim

November 22, 2019

A petition has been filed against Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, for serving at the top post despite being an Ahmadi Muslim.

The petition, filed by former Major Khalid Shah in Peshawar High Court, alleged that Bajwa belongs to Qadiani community. Qadianis also known as Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan and have been declared as non-Muslims by the heads of all sects.

Notably, according to Pakistan's Constitution, a non-Muslim officer cannot be appointed as the army chief.

The plea also named the former DG ISI Rizwan Akhtar for failing to fulfil his duty as a Muslim by not informing the government that Bajwa does not belong to the religion.

The petitioner was coursemate of Akhtar. The plea also termed the army chief's extension as "illegal and invalid''.

In August, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government extended the term of Bajwa for another three years.

Bajwa was appointed to the current post by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in November 2016.

Fifty-eight-year-old Bajwa had previously served as Commander of Rawalpindi Corps and was employed as Inspector General, Training and Evaluation, at GHQ, a position held by his predecessor Raheel Sharif.

As a brigadier, he served as the Chief of Staff at X Corps and commanded formation division in Northern Areas as the Formation Commander (FCNA).

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



Judicial Commission of Pakistan approves woman among three judges for IHC

Malik Asad

November 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) may get its first female judge since its establishment in 2011.

The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) on Thursday approved appointment of three lawyers, including Lubna Saleem Pervez, on vacant posts of judges in the court.

Advocate Lubna may become the first woman to serve as an IHC judge provided the Parliamentary Committee on Judges Appointment confirms the nominations by the JCP, which is headed by the chief justice of Pakistan, in a fortnight.

Besides Ms Pervez, who was working as the deputy attorney general in the Sindh High Court (SHC), the other two lawyers are Fiaz Anjum Jandran and Ghulam Azam Qambrani.

Mr Jandran is an Islamabad-based lawyer and member of the Islamabad Bar Council (IBC). He also held the post of IBC vice chairman a couple of years ago.

Mr Qambrani is an eminent lawyer of Balochistan and was a member of the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

According to the Islamabad High Court Act 2010, “The court shall consist of a chief justice and six other judges to be appointed from provinces and other territories of Pakistan.”

At present, there are four judges running the IHC against seven sanctioned posts whereas the number of pending cases in the court has increased to 18,000.

As per Article 175-A of the Constitution, the JCP nominates the names for the vacant posts of judges in the Supreme Court, high courts and Federal Shariat Court.

The parliamentary committee consists of eight members - four each from Senate and National Assembly. Out of the eight members, four shall be from the treasury benches - two from each house - and four from the opposition benches of the two houses.

The committee is supposed to make a decision on the nomination in a fortnight.

On Nov 11, the law ministry had informed the JCP about the recommendation of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah to fill the three vacant posts of judges.



Ayodhya Ruling Darkest Spot In History But Won’t Go For Review: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind

Written by Abantika Ghosh

November 22, 2019

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) faction led by Maulana Mahmood Madani has decided not to file a review petition on the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. The JUH working committee that met on Thursday adopted a resolution describing the judgment as “the darkest spot in the history of free India” but said it wouldn’t file a review petition as there was “possibility of further damage”.

Earlier this week, the Jamiat faction led by senior Deoband teacher Maulana Arshad Madani and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had said they were in favour of filing a review petition within the 30-day period.

The Mahmood Madani faction of the Jamiat said it was not against others filing a review, adding that it only hopes such a move does not have any “negative effect”. It also demanded that the government “open and allow Muslims to offer prayers in mosques controlled by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) which are undisputed”.

The Jamiat resolution adopted on Thursday reads: “The working committee of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) holds the recent Supreme Court verdict on Babri mosque unjust and overwhelmingly one-sided. It has confirmed that the mosque was not built after demolishing any temple but there existed a mosque for several hundred years which was demolished and now the court has paved the way for construction of a temple over its site. As such the judgment is the darkest spot in the history of free India. In such a situation we cannot expect any better award from the concerned judges. Rather, there is possibility of further damage. Therefore, the working committee considers that filing a review petition will not be fruitful.”

Owaisi on Ayodhya verdict: Don’t need ‘khairat’, our fight was for Babri Masjid

The Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the decades old dispute on November 9, when it handed over the disputed 2.77 acres to the temple side, even while holding that the act of placing idols at the site in 1949 was “desecration”, admitting that there was no evidence of a temple being razed to build the Babri Masjid, and ruling the 1992 demolition of the mosque against the rule of law.

The mosque side was awarded a five-acre plot within Ayodhya for construction of a masjid.

The JUH working committee meeting, presided over by Maulana Qari Mohammad Usman Mansoorpuri, however, agreed with the AIMPLB and the Arshad Madani-led faction on not accepting the alternative five-acre plot.

In a separate resolution, the working committee said that caretakers of Wakf properties are forced to take decisions harmful to the Muslim community because of “undue interference of Central and state governments”. It reads: “The working committee… vehemently demands from the government to open and allow Muslims to offer prayers in mosques controlled by the ASI which are undisputed. They should be opened forthwith for prayers so that the mosques remain thronged by the worshippers of Allah Almighty.”

The resolution went on to criticise the UP Sunni Wakf Board, saying it had “played the role of Mir Jafar (the commander of the Nawab of Bengal, who betrayed him in the Battle of Plassey, 1757) for the Muslims of India”. The Wakf Board, which was a party in the case, is divided on the matter of filing a review, with chairman Zufar Faruqui opposed to it.



Anita Anand becomes Canada’s first Hindu minister; Trudeau retains Harjit Sajjan, Navdeep Bains

November 21, 2019

In a first, a Hindu woman lawmaker has been inducted into Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet of 37 ministers.

Anita Anand, a former law professor at the University of Toronto, joins three Sikh MPs Navdepp Bains, Bardish Chagger and Harjit Sajjan in the Cabinet.

Anand has been handed over the Public Services and Procurement portfolio which oversees public spending including the purchase of military hardware, according to the Toronto Star.

Anand is a legal academic, lawyer, researcher, and mother of four children. She was born and raised in rural Nova Scotia before moving to Ontario in 1985, according to her profile on the PM of Canada website.

In the last two decades, she held the J R Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance at the University of Toronto, served as associate dead and was a member of the Governing Board of Massey College and the Director of Policy and Research at the Capital Markets Research Institute, Rotman School of Management. She has also taught law at Yale Law School, Queen’s University, and Western University.

Anand holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Studies from Queen’s University, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University, and a Master of Laws from the University of Toronto.

While Navdeep Bains, an MP from Mississauga, retained his Innovation, Science and Industry portfolio. He was previously the Parliamentary Secretary to former prime minister Paul Martin. Before entering politics, Bains taught at Ryerson University and had worked in accounting at the Ford Motor Company in Canada.

Harjit Sajjan also retained his National Defence portfolio. He was first elected as MP for Vancouver South in 2015. He had previously worked as a detective in Vancouver Police department and served as Lieutenant Colonel with the British Columbia Regiment.

Last year, Trudeau’s visit to India was overshadowed by the prescence of Bains and Sajjan, who accompanied him on the visit. The two minsiter are accused of sympathising with the Khalistan movement. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had previously refused to meet the ministers and called them “Khalistanis”

Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger was also elected to Parliament in 2015. She previously worked at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre and as an executive assistant to former MP Adrew Telegdi. She graduated from the University of Waterllo with a Bachelor of science.

Amarjeet Sohi, who was part of the 2015 Cabinet, is not returning this time after his defeat in the election.

“The new strong and skilled team. There’s lots of work ahead, and we’re ready to keep moving Canada forward,” Trudeau tweeted.

“I’m very excited today to be able to get down to work the way Canadians asked us to in this last election. To pull together the country, focus on issues of economic growth for the middle class, to fight climate change, and to keep Canadians and their communities safe. That is our focus, and this is the team to do that,” Trudeau was quoted as saying by the CTV news.

In the Canadian general election held in October, the Liberal Party bagged 157 seats, the opposition Conservative 121, Bloc Quebecois 32, Indian-origin Canadian Jagmeet Singh-led New Democratic Party (NDP) 24, Green Party 3 and one Independent.

To reach the majority of 170 in the 338-seat House of Commons, the Liberals are short of 13 members.

This means that meaning in order to pass votes and advance their agenda, the Liberals must gain the support of the opposition MPs, the CTV reported.



Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on corruption charges

November 22, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted Thursday in a series of corruption cases, throwing Israel’s paralyzed political system into further disarray and threatening his 10-year grip on power. He rejected calls to resign, angrily accusing prosecutors of staging “an attempted coup.”

The first-ever charges against a sitting Israeli prime minister capped a three-year investigation, with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit indicting Netanyahu for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

“A day in which the attorney general decides to serve an indictment against a seated prime minister for serious crimes of corrupt governance is a heavy and sad day, for the Israeli public and for me personally,” Mandelblit, who was appointed by Netanyahu, told reporters.

The indictment does not require the 70-year-old Netanyahu to resign, but it significantly weakens him at a time when Israel’s political parties appear to be limping toward a third election in under a year.

An ashen-faced Netanyahu appeared on national TV late Thursday, claiming he was the victim of a grand conspiracy by police and prosecutors who had intimidated key witnesses into testifying against him.

He defiantly claimed the indictment stemmed from “false accusations” and a systematically “tainted investigation,” saying the country was witnessing an “attempted coup” against him.

“Police and investigators are not above the law,” he said. “The time has come to investigate the investigators.”

Netanyahu is desperate to remain in office to fight the charges. Under Israeli law, public officials are required to resign if charged with a crime. But that law does not apply to the prime minister, who can use his office as a bully pulpit against prosecutors and try to push parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution.

As the investigation gained steam in recent months, Netanyahu has repeatedly lashed out at what he sees as a hostile media, police and justice system. Observers have compared his tactics to those of his good friend, U.S. President Donald Trump, who has used similar language to rally his base during an accelerating impeachment hearing.

Several dozen supporters and opponents of Netanyahu staged rival demonstrations outside the prime minister’s official residence Thursday night. Police kept the groups apart and there were no reports of violence.

Mandelblit rejected accusations that his decision was politically motivated and said he had acted solely out of professional considerations. He criticized the often-heated pressure campaigns by Netanyahu’s supporters and foes to sway his decision, which came after months of deliberations. Both sides had staged demonstrations outside or near his home.

“This is not a matter of politics,” he said. “This is an obligation placed on us, the people of law enforcement, and upon me personally as the one at its head.”

According to the indictment, Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.

Netanyahu becomes Israel’s first sitting prime minister to be charged with a crime. His predecessor, Ehud Olmert, was forced to resign a decade ago ahead of a corruption indictment that later sent him to prison for 16 months.

The decision comes at a tumultuous time for the country. After an inconclusive election in September, both Netanyahu and former military chief Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, have failed to form a majority coalition in parliament. It`s the first time in the nation’s history that that has happened.

After Gantz’s deadline expired at midnight, the country on Thursday entered an unprecedented 21-day period in which any member of parliament can try to rally a 61-member majority to become prime minister.

If that fails, new elections would be triggered, setting the stage for a three-month campaign followed by weeks or months of post-election negotiations and horse trading.

The only apparent way out of the crisis would be a unity government between the two parties, which together control a parliamentary majority. But after Thursday’s indictment, that possibility appeared even more remote.

Blue and White leaders said it was impossible for Netanyahu to rule under indictment and warned that there was a risk his personal considerations could influence his decisions.

“A prime minister up to his neck in corruption allegations has no public or moral mandate to make fateful decisions for the state of Israel,” the party said in a statement.

The most serious charges against Netanyahu were connected to so-called “Case 4000,” in which he is accused of passing regulations that gave his friend, telecom magnate Shaul Elovitch, benefits worth over $250 million to his company, Bezeq. In return, Bezeq’s news site, Walla, published favorable articles about Netanyahu and his family.

The relationship, it said, was “based on a mutual understanding that each of them had significant interests that the other side had the ability to advance.” It also accused Netanyahu of concealing the relationship by providing “partial and misleading information” about his connections with Elovitch.

Two close aides to Netanyahu testified against him in the case.

The indictment also described billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer as a “supply channel” of champagne and cigars for Netanyahu. It estimated the value of the gifts at roughly $200,000.

It said Netanyahu assisted the Israeli Milchan, a Hollywood mogul, in extending his U.S. visa. It was not immediately clear what, if anything, Packer, who is Australian, received in return.

The final case accuses Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yediot Ahronot daily, of offering positive coverage of Netanyahu in exchange for pushing legislation that would have harmed a free newspaper that has cut into Yediot’s profits.

In recent months, Likud leaders have remained firmly behind Netanyahu. But after the indictment, they were largely mum.

In the first sign of rebellion, Netanyahu’s top Likud rival earlier in the day called for a leadership primary should the country, as expected, go to new elections.

“I think I will be able to form a government, and I think I will be able to unite the country and the nation,” Gideon Saar said at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem. He spoke before the indictment was announced and did not address the looming criminal charges.

If elections are held, opinion polls are already predicting a very similar deadlock, with Likud and Blue and White both unable to secure a parliamentary majority. That could now change. A poll carried out last month by the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, found that 65% of Israelis thought Netanyahu should resign as head of Likud if indicted, with 24% opposed. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The emergence of Saar as an heir could reshuffle the deck, but challenging Netanyahu in Likud is a risky maneuver in a party that fiercely values loyalty and has had only four leaders in its 70-plus-year history.



Taliban strongly reacts to killing of political analyst Waheed Muzhda in Kabul city

Thursday, 21 Nov 2019

The Taliban group reacted to assassination of political analyst Waheed Muzhda by unknown gunmen in Kabul city, blaming the ‘intelligence circles of the enemy’ for his killing.

The Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement said the group condemns the assassination of Mr. Muzhda in strongest terms.

Without elaborating further about his claims and the circles involved in the assassination, Mujahid went on to claim that the assassination of Mr. Muzhda unmasks the true faces, reality and resolve of those who recently assassinated various political analysts, researchers and cadres under the guise of supporting the freedom of speech.

Unknown gunmen riding a motorcycle assassinated Mr. Muzhda at around 5 pm local time on Wednesday in West of Kabul city.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mr. Muzhda.



With seven states refusing child marriage ban, onus on Putrajaya to convince Islamic authorities

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Putrajaya must do its best to persuade each state’s Islamic authority to eradicate child marriage as it has no jurisdiction over Shariah laws, urged several experts on the matter.

Following revelation that seven states have refused to amend its laws on the issue, Children’s Commissioner Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said that Putrajaya can legislate so states raise the marriage floor age to 18 years, but it would only apply to non-Muslims.

“This is since Islamic laws fall under state jurisdiction, with state religious councils headed by their respective Rulers,” the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner told Malay Mail.

“However do note that although Muslims under 18 can marry, they can only do so by applying to the Shariah court for permission beforehand.”

Noting that Selangor has the most stringent requirements when it comes to under-18 marriages for Muslims, Noor Aziah said in most cases the Shariah judge may request a medical report on the applicants’ capabilities in contracting the marriage.

“So although the other states have not yet raised the minimum marriageable age to 18 years for Muslims, they are currently using the standard operating procedures drafted by the Department of Shariah Judiciary.

“In the event that a marriage has been properly solemnised, it can be annulled by the Shariah Court if the under-aged wife applies on grounds of a lack of consent, or if the husband pronounces ‘talaq’,” she said.

Talaq ― or talak as it is spelled locally ― is a type of divorce in Islam which provides the man an avenue to initiate a divorce through simply pronouncing the word.

Noor Aziah’s views were echoed by Malaysian Bar president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, who asserted that the federal government has to engage all parties who object to raising the minimum marriageable age.

“The government should take all necessary steps to engage with the states and understand their rationale for their objections, and convince the states to agree to banning of child marriage in the best interest and welfare of the child,” said Abdul Fareed, who is also the co-chairman for the Bar’s Child Rights Committee.

Earlier this week, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail informed the Dewan Rakyat that Kedah, Kelantan, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Sarawak, and Terengganu have declined to amend their state legislations to prohibit child marriages for both Muslims and natives.

Presently only Selangor has amended its state enactment to this effect, while the Federal Territories is currently in the process of amending it. Johor, Melaka, Penang, Perak, and Sabah have consented to do so.

Following her remark, women’s rights groups such as Sisters in Islam (SIS) and All Women’s Action Society had urged Putrajaya to step in, as it is a critical national issue.

SIS also had asked if the Children’s Commissioner was included in drafting the National Strategic Plan to tackle the issue, to which Noor Aziah divulged to Malay Mail that her recommendations will be featured when the document is released next month.

Meanwhile, renowned rights lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan also expressed her concern at the resistance of the seven states, adding that it requires multi-pronged approach since legislation alone cannot change mindsets.

“To properly address child marriage, the government must also address the root causes which includes education and poverty, and also societal norms regarding girls’ sexuality and virginity,” she said in a statement to Malay Mail yesterday.

The commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists said any holistic plan to address child marriage ought to include programmes to engage with communities on these issues, which she said can commence immediately.

“Some child marriages occur in Malaysia due to teenagers becoming pregnant and the young couple marrying to avoid the baby being declared illegitimate, which has legal consequences in relation to inheritance rights.

“The laws regarding illegitimacy must therefore also be reviewed to ensure that families do not feel pressured to compel their children to marry before they are ready,” said the former Bar president.

Ambiga said there are immediate legislative steps within the federal government’s power that can be possibly taken, such as the removal of the marriage exception to statutory rape in Section 375 of the Penal Code, which had earlier been suggested by Institutional Reforms Committee legal support team member Andrew Yong.

“Its removal, with an amendment to provide for ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type cases where both individuals are teenagers, will at the very least provide protection to girls under 16.

“The Penal Code falls within the purview of the Federal Government (Federal list) and therefore there is no impediment to the government proceeding immediately to amend the law,” she said.

Minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa said this week that Putrajaya will bring the matter up with the Conference of Rulers, since each state will have to adhere to the Rulers’ decision should they decree for the ban.

He said the government can also try to convince the states to ban child marriages through the National Islamic Affairs Council which meet thrice a year.



Rights group: Islamist leader´s daughter tortured in prison

21 November 2019

CAIRO (AP) - Amnesty International alleges the daughter of a senior leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group has been tortured and denied medical treatment in an Egyptian prison.

The London-based rights group released a statement Thursday deploring "inhumane" and "abusive" conditions under which Aisha el-Shater has been detained since her arrest in November 2018. The statement adds the 39-year-old suffers from a rare blood disease that requires immediate hospitalization.

Aisha is daughter of Khairat el-Shater, long seen as the Brotherhood´s most powerful leader. He has been jailed since 2013 after the military overthrow of Egypt´s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The group says that Aisha has been subjected to severe beating and electric shocks while in detention. Amnesty International´s Najia Bounaim has also urged authorities to end Aisha´s solitary confinement.



How Leicester mosque is tackling bullying after pupils were coerced into buying £300 Pokemon cards

ByAsha Patel

21 NOV 2019

A mosque in St Matthews in Leicester is working to change perceptions and eradicate bullying in the UK.

In an attempt to highlight issues that young children might be facing within or outside of the mosque, Dawat e Islami on the Leicester estate, which is also a registered charity, has implemented guidelines, policies and an anti-bullying week.Dr Zeerak Nasim who was previously a psychiatrist, is the safeguarding, health and safety lead for Dawat e Islami covering 30 evening madrasahs in the UK, which are educational institutions usually affiliated with mosques.

He told LeicestershireLive: "Historically mosques have been in the press for a number of different safeguarding failures leading to long-term mental health problems with the victims."

According to Dr Nasim's personal research that is not directly linked to the St Matthews mosque, he found that there was a "reluctancy to engage in safeguarding education" especially from parents who he thought would be "more receptive to receiving the message from a mosque perhaps due to respect given to the religious scholars".

Dr Nasim also said that in the past he had received phone calls and messages from concerned teachers from mosques in other cities about bullying.

On one occasion, a pupil from a Dawat e Islami centre outside of Leicester was being blackmailed to meet a male acquaintance.

Due to the stigma surrounding the nature of the issue, help from suitable authorities was rejected by the parent of the pupil.

"This was a case that clearly demonstrates the need for further education of the parents," Dr Nasim said.

Another incident involving two pupils led to one of them stealing money after being coerced into buying Pokemon cards for up to £300 by another. This continued for a while until it was noticed by a pupil's father who then contacted the mosque.

In this instance, teachers at the mosque were able to step in and resolve the matter.

Because of the important role madrasahs can play in the Muslim community Dr Nasim wanted to engage with people through a series of talks, workshops and training that involved teachers, pupils and parents.

Children were encouraged to create artwork that related to an anti-bullying message and taught who to approach if they were being bullied.

Parents were also invited to engage with activities that took place in the week as well as learn how to spot the signs of bullying.

'Bully boxes' and 'Buddy boxes' have been put in place in the mosque for pupils to share their problems or nominate themselves to help others being bullied, privately.

Going forward, Dawat e Islami hope to make permanent, positive change within their community.

LeicestershireLive spoke to the Federation of Muslim Organisations  (FMO) Leicestershire regarding safeguarding across religious, educational institutions in the city.

The organisation works with local authorities to ensure any groups or mosques registered with them are engaging in correct practices.

Project manager of safeguarding in the FMO Leicestershire, Mohammed Patel said: "Maybe in the past there may have been issues but we have worked tirelessly over the last 14 years and continue to do so with Leicestershire Police, Leicester City Council and mosques to improve safeguarding tactics.

"All of our training includes anti-bullying and behavior management and we're always working diligently to improve all the time."



Pregnant Muslim woman attacked in Australia



A pregnant 31-year-old Muslim woman wearing a headscarf was injured in an Islamophobic attack in Sydney, Australia.

Rana Elasmar, was punched and kicked by 43-year-old resident Stipe Lozina, while she was sitting in a cafe with her friends, who were also wearing headscarves, New South Wales Police department said on Thursday.

Security camera footage spread on social media sending shockwaves.

Lozina used racist slurs at the victim and was remanded into custody.

"After making a comment about Muslims, you approached and punched her in the head 14 times. I will consider this as a very strong case against you," Chief Judge Tim Keady said.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) and Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), the two main Islamic organizations in the country, condemned the attack.

"It is terrible to attack a pregnant woman sitting quietly with her friends. This was clearly a racist and Islamophobic attack and we expect it to be treated as such," Rateb Jneid, the head of AFIC, told Anadolu Agency.

Elasmar was discharged from the hospital after treatment.





Several offers, including Balochistan govt, made, says Fazlur Rehman

November 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday claimed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government had made various attempts to bribe him with lucrative offers during his recent Azadi March including the post of Senate chairman and formation of government in Balochistan.

"You don't know what offers they made me," he said, referring to the government. "I was told to leave my seat (at the dharna) and I could get re-elected to the Assembly from Dera Ismail Khan," he claimed.

According to Geo News, Fazlur Rehman said that he was offered to become the governor of Balochistan or form his government in the province. "I was also offered the post of Senate chairman," he claimed. "I thought all the offers being made to me were belittling."

He called on the chief election commissioner to decide the PTI foreign funding case before his retirement and called for extension of tenure of the CEC till the case is decided.

The Maulana said theroots of the government have been cut and now the stem will also be cut down. He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz got temporary relief from the Azadi March led by the JUI-F. He said he prays for all the jail leaders to be set free.



Fazl claims he was offered Senate chairman post

November 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said on Thursday he was bribed by various offers including the post of Senate chairman.

Fazl claimed that he was told 'to leave his seat' and he could return to the parliament as an elected member from Dera Ismail Khan.

"You don't know what offers they made me," he said, referring to the government. "I was told to leave my seat [at the dharna] and I could get re-elected to the assembly from Dera Ismail Khan," he claimed.

Fazl said that he was offered to become the governor of Balochistan or form his government in the province.

"I was also offered the post of Senate chairman," he claimed. "I thought all the offers being made to me were belittling."

He called on the election commissioner to decide the PTI's foreign funding case before his retirement and called on the terms of all chief election commissioners to be increased.

The opposition's Rahbar Committee on Tuesday announced an end to blocking highways which was part of the JUI-F's Plan B.

The announcement was made by Akram Durrani after a meeting of the opposition committee.

"The committee has decided to open highways across the country," said Durrani, who is Rahbar Committee's convener.

Durrani said that the opposition committee had also decided to call an All Parties Conference (APC).

"Maulana Fazlur Rehman will hold talks with leaders of other opposition parties to decide the date of the conference," he said.



Trump thanks PM Imran for facilitating Western hostages' release in Afghanistan

Sanaullah Khan

November 21, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump on Thursday during which bilateral and regional issues were discussed, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.

During the phone call, Prime Minister Imran termed the release of two Western hostages by the Taliban in Afghanistan as a "positive development", saying Pakistan was happy that the duo was safe and free.

"President Trump thanked the prime minister for Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating this positive outcome," the statement said.

Prime Minister Imran reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the advancement of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process aimed at achieving a stable Afghanistan. Both leaders agreed to continue to work together for the promotion of this shared objective, according to the press release.

The Taliban insurgents had released two hostages — Kevin King from the United States and Timothy Weeks from Australia — on Tuesday in a prisoner exchange deal with the Afghan government.

The American and Australian were exchanged with three Taliban leaders, including key militant figure Anas Haqqani.

The prime minister during the conversation also apprised President Trump of the prevailing situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where he said more than eight million people remain under siege over 100 days after New Delhi revoked the region's special autonomy.

The premier appreciated President Trump’s continued engagement as well as his offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute. "Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed that the President must continue his efforts for [the] facilitation of a peaceful solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute," the statement said.

Recalling their meetings in Washington and New York earlier this year, Trump and Imran agreed to "deepen bilateral collaboration, including in relevant multilateral fora".

The two leaders also agreed to remain in close touch, the press release added.



PPP found to be the ‘most weaponised party’ in legislature

Iftikhar A. KhanUpdated

November 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is the ‘most weaponised political party’ in the legislature as out of 100 lawmakers to have declared owning firearms, as many as 50 are from the party.

An analysis of the statements of assets and liabilities of lawmakers for the year 2018 shows that the PPP is the only party with members possessing weapons in both the houses of parliament and the three provincial assemblies except Balochistan, where it has no representation.

Besides PPP, 20 such lawmakers are from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), five each from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and four from the Balochistan Awami Party.

As many as 19 members of the National Assembly have declared weapons in their statements of assets which include six each from PPP and PTI, two each from PML-N and MQM, and one each from GDA and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, besides one independently elected member.

Out of 100 firearms-owning lawmakers, 50 belong to Peoples Party

Prominent among the National Assembly members to have declared weapons include former president Asif Ali Zardari who has the largest personal arsenal, with a declared value of unspecified type and the number of weapons he possesses at Rs16.60 million.

The list also includes two federal ministers — Dr Fehmida Mirza and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.

Upper house of parliament

In the Senate, a total of ten members declared weapons in their statements. They included two each from PPP, PTI, PkMAP and NP, one from PML-N and one independent.

They include Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwala and Gianchand of PPP, Federal Minister Azam Swati and Dr Shahzad Wasim of PTI, Mohammad Akram and Kabir Ahmad Shahi of NP, Usman Kakar and Sardar Azam Moosakhel (expired), Agha Shahzaib Durrani of PML-N and Sardar Shafiq Tarin (Independent).

Sindh Assembly

In Sindh Assembly, 47 members declared owning weapons out of which 40 are from PPP, four from GDA, two from PTI and one from Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.

PPP’s Nawab Sardar Khan Chandio tops the list with possession of arms worth six million rupees, followed by Sharjeel Inam Memon, former Sindh information minister, who possesses weapons worth 2.5 million rupees.

The other PPP members of Sindh Assembly who have weapons worth over one million rupees include Mir Nadir Ali Magsi, Ali Hasan, Faryal Talpur, Agha Siraj Durrani and Mukesh Kumar Chawla.

PPP’s Malik Asad Sikandar has 24 weapons including 19 rifles, three shotguns and two pistols, valued at one million rupees. Noor Ahmad Bhurgari of PPP has 13 weapons including rifles, shotguns and pistols.

Provincial Minister for Mines and Mineral Development Mir Shabbir Ali Bijarani owns 12 weapons while Rana Hamir Singh of the same party has ten weapons. Khan Muhammad Dahri, Faqir Sher Muhammad Bilalani and Jam Khan Shoro of the same party possess seven, five and four weapons respectively.

Punjab Assembly

In Punjab Assembly, seven out of a total of ten members to have declared weapons are from PTI, two from PML-N and one from the PPP. Interestingly, four of the ten members are from Rahim Yar Khan district.

Punjab Government’s spokesman Samsam Bukhari possesses an unspecified number of shotguns and rifles — all either inherited or gifted. Former federal minister Sardar Awais Khan Leghari also possesses an unspecified number of inherited firearms.

The other PTI members on the list include Raza Hussain Bukhari, Mian Shafi Muhammad, Muhammad Ijaz Hussain and Muhammad Ahsan Jehangir.

Muhammad Arshad Javed of PML-N has five unspecified weapons while Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan of the same party has an unspecified number of arms valued at Rs 0.700 million. PPP’s Ghazanfar Ali Khan has two rifles one each of 7.62 mm and 9mm.

Balochistan Assembly

Balochistan Assembly’s eight members have declared weapons in their assets’ statements. They include four from BAP and one each from BNP, BNP-A and Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), besides one independent, Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, who possesses as many as 13 Kalashnikov rifles.

Mir Sikandar Ali of BAP is the only of them to have weapons worth one million rupees. Saleem Ahmad Khosa (BAP) holds arms worth Rs 0.700 million. Mir Ziaullah (BAP) has six weapons. Mir Muhammad Khan Lehri of the same party has arms worth Rs 0.470 million.

Others on the list include Akhtar Hussain Langove (BNP), Syed Ehsan Shah (BNP-A) and Abdul Khaliq (HDP).

KP Assembly

The six members of the assembly include three from PTI and one each from PPP and Awami National Party (ANP) besides one independent.

Provincial Minister Akbar Ayub Khan has three weapons including a repeater rifle and two pistols, one of which is Glock 9mm. His brother Arshad Ayub Khan elected from the adjacent constituency has nine weapons including three rifles, two shotguns and four pistols and revolvers including one Russian made 9mmMakarov pistol.

Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Mahmood Jan owns weapons worth Rs 0.400 million.

ANP’s Muhammad Laiq Khan owns weapons worth Rs four million.

Others on the list include Taj Muhammad of PPP and Amjad Khan (Independent) who has shown the value of his unspecified type and a number of arms and ammunition as Rs 0.550 million.



PTI foreign funding case: ECP to hold hearings on daily basis

November 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Apparently, without giving a timeline to the scrutiny committee, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has accepted the opposition Rahber Committee’s request to hear the foreign funding case on a daily basis.

The nine-party opposition ‘alliance’ appears in a hurry to wrap up the case against the ruling PTI way back in November 2014, as the Chief Election Commissioner Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza will be retiring in the first week of next month.

Former central vice-president and information secretary and a close confidant of PTI Chairman Imran Khan Akbar S Babar had moved the commission five years back, alleging glaring irregularities with regard to the foreign funding of the party. The ruling party, however, has been denying any irregularity, insisting its accounts were always properly audited.

Contrary to it, Babar believes he has enough documentary evidence in support of his claim and says the account details shared with the ECP by the State Bank ofPakistan were also an eye-opener.

Keeping in view this factor, the Rahber Committee submitted a memorandum to the ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, urging that the case hearings be held on a daily basis and the judgment announced before the CEC retires.

The scrutiny committee consists of three members, headed by a director general of the Election Commission and its other two members are from the armed forces. The committee has been holding meetings for the last several months to furnish its report on the PTI accounts but owing to various reasons, is yet to give the final shape to the report.





‘Christians And Some Muslims Behind Forced Conversions In UP’: Draft Report By  Former Allahabad High Court Judge

Nov 22, 2019

Former Allahabad High Court judge and UP Law Commission chief Justice Aditya Nath Mittal on Thursday submitted a draft report to CM Yogi Adityanath that seeks to bring a law on forced conversions. He analysed religious conversion cases in Amethi, Rae Bareli, Allahabad and Lucknow and studied debates in Uttar Pradesh assembly since 1952 that led to preparing the draft bill. He spoke to Rohan Dua. Excerpts

You submitted a draft report to CM Yogi Adityanath that seeks a bill on forced conversions. What promoted this move?

Religious conversions are taking place in Uttar Pradesh and these are not voluntary, but through coercion, misrepresentation or allurement. Allurement means providing jobs, including medical facilities.

So, have you mentioned any particular religion or practitioner in the draft report?

• Mostly Christians and to some extent Muslims. In neighbouring countries, people of majority faith are converting minorities. In India, it’s the opposite.

Can the Centre bring a law or states alone can introduce it?

Ten states have already implemented a law. Now, it’s our turn. Centre does not have jurisdiction over this. An attempt was made in 1954 through a private member’s bill against conversion. This failed. In 1960, another attempt was made. Again in 1967, the move failed. They were all private member bills. The then Union government did not want to legislate on the issue. The Indian Penal Code does only has provisions for punishment to those hurting religious sentiments. IPC was enacted in 1860. Rajasthan was one of the first states to enact a law.

Were there specific instances that you considered?

We studied reports of debates in UP assembly from 1952. Questions were raised on religious conversion in assembly. We considered media reports. Conversions in Tiloi in Amethi, Gola Gokranath in Prayagraj, Rae Bareli and even Lucknow. There were no FIRs in this case as there is now a law. There was a case in UP of Hindu girl who married a Muslim and was given triple talaq after she refused forced sex.

How did CM Yogi Adityanath react to the draft report?

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath always fought against love jihad and welcomed ghar wapsi.

So, what now?

The draft report will go to the Cabinet for approval before being tabled in Assembly.



Ayodhya case: Members can discuss review petition in November 26 meeting, says Sunni board chief

November 22, 2019

Amid reports of differences in the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board over the filing of a review petition in the Ayodhya case, Muslim body chairman Zufar Farooqi said members can discuss the issue in their November 26 meeting.

"I have been authorised to take a decision on behalf of the board but if any member has objection to it, he can raise it in the meeting scheduled for November 26 here," Farooqui said.

The Sunni Central Waqf Board will take a decision on whether to accept land for building a mosque in Ayodhya at its meeting on November 26.

Earlier, Farooqui had said that they would abide by the apex court decision and would not file a review petition.

Responding to media reports about some members of the board favouring the review petition, Farooqi, who has opposed the suggestion, said he had been authorised through a resolution to take a decisions on behalf of the board.

"But most decisions are taken on the basis of the majority view and if there is any member who has any objection, it can be raised in the meeting," Farooqi said.

Meanwhile, the All-India Shia Personal Law Board has supported the AIMPLB stand of filing a review petition and declining the offer of five acres for the construction of a mosque.

Their spokesman Maulana Yasoob Abbas said the Shia board was with the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board in every manner.

"If there is any doubt or complaint on the verdict, we have the legal right to file a review petition and we should not abstain from it," Abbas said.



Rift In Sunni Waqf Board Over Review Plea On Ayodhya Verdict: Report

November 21, 2019

LUCKNOW: Sharp differences have emerged among members of the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board over the filing of a review petition in the Supreme Court against the verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case.

Members are questioning Board chairman Zufar Faruqi's decision of not going in for a review of the Supreme Court verdict.

Senior Board member Abdul Razzaq Khan said: "How can the chairman take a decision without holding a meeting? It may be his personal view, but the Board decision will be taken only after the meeting, which is scheduled to be held on November 26."

Another member, Imran Mabood Khan, also an advocate, said they favoured going for a review. "If All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is going for a review in SC, then the Sunni Waqf Board should also take into account the sentiments of the Muslim community, even if there may not be much hope," he said.

The Board will meet in Lucknow on November 26 to decide its strategy after the SC verdict. Board chairman Zufar Faruqi has consistently said since the day of the verdict that a review petition will not be filed.

Three other members -- Abrar Ahmad, Mohammad Junaid Siddiqui and Adnan Farrukh Shah -- are backing Mr Faruqi on the issue.

The two dissenting members of the Board, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Mabood Khan, have also said that the offer of the five-acre land for a mosque should not be accepted. Abrar Ahmad also agreed with the two on the five-acre land offer.

"A number of Muslims have approached us on whether to accept the alternative land. Another issue is, if it is accepted, what use would it be put to -- to build a mosque or for a charitable purpose? We will discuss all these suggestions on November 26," said Adnan Farukkh Shah.

Imran Mabood Khan said: "Supreme Court accepted that the mosque was built in 1528. So, its existence is proven. That it was desecrated in 1949 was also accepted and so was its demolition in 1992.

Abdul Razzaq Khan said: "Alternative land should not be accepted for 'Allah ka Ghar' (house of God). A review of the order should also be done."

Board chief Zufar Faruqi, on his part, said that the fate of the five-acre alternative land will be decided in the November 26 meeting.

The Board, which has received a number of suggestions on the use of the alternative land, will deliberate on these, including ideas like establishing a hospital or an educational institution.



Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Backs Appointment Of Muslim Sanskrit Professor At BHU

November 21, 2019

VARANASI: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Thursday came out in support of the Muslim professor whose appointment at the Banaras Hindu University's Sanskrit department has triggered a row.

Taking to Twitter, the Congress leader defended the appointment.

"Our languages and culture are our speciality, our strength," the Congress leader tweeted.

"Sanskrit language has vastness. The constitution of our country has vastness. Any teacher can teach Sanskrit in a university," the Congress leader added.

BSP president Mayawati too on Thursday blamed the government for the controversy, saying education and politics of religion or caste cannot be linked. A group of students has been opposing the appointment of Feroze Khan as an assistant professor while some backed the teacher.



BHU appointment row: Dy CM’s Muslim Sanskrit teacher pained at all the fuss

Nov 21, 2019

Rajeev Mullick

LUCKNOW: Waliullah Khan (69), who learnt Sanskrit much before Urdu and taught it for close to 40 years (deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma also having been his student), is pained at the controversy over the appointment of Dr Firoz Khan in Banaras Hindu University (BHU). At the same time, he is also happy that the BHU did not succumb to students’ pressure for Dr Khan’s removal.

Waliullah Khan, who retired from Government Jubilee Inter College in 2010, said he developed a taste for Sanskrit at an early age and never had a formal education of Urdu. He picked up Urdu books much later after he accomplished mastery over Sanskrit.

“Sanskrit is the most scientific and pure language, often regarded as mother of all languages. I learnt Sanskrit much ahead of Urdu. There was no opposition in the family. The present development in the BHU is unfortunate. My heart goes out to Sanskrit teacher Firoz Khan who has been dragged into a controversy. The selection committee appointed Firoz who must have met the criteria. The protest by a handful of students is not justified,” he said.

“I taught at Government Jubilee Inter College for nearly 38 years before retiring in June 2010. There was no issue at all over my being a Muslim and teaching Sanskrit. I never faced any opposition. Students and teachers accorded me a warm welcome. I am glad that the university has backed the teacher and has not buckled under pressure from protesters,” he said.

Recalling how he fell in love with Sanskrit, he said, “In my school in Deoria, there was a Sanskrit teacher Brahma Dwivedi who taught the language in an interesting way. Charmed with his style, I developed interest in the subject. I told my parents who happily gave their consent. There was no pressure on me to learn Urdu ahead of Sanskrit. I studied Sanskrit till graduation.”

“My student and present deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, whom I taught Sanskrit from Class 6 to 8, was absolutely correct when he said languages, subjects and teachers are above religion. This should put an end to the ongoing protest,” he said.

To recall, commenting on the controversy over appointment of a Muslim teacher in the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan (SVDV) of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma had said on Wednesday that subjects and teachers did not have any religion.

Sharma had further said that Waliullah Khan taught him Sanskrit when he studied at Government Jubilee Inter College in Lucknow and there had never been any issues. “Recently, I felicitated Waliullah Khan sa’ab at a function held in my school. It was such an emotional moment for me to honour my own teacher who shaped my life,” Sharma had said.



BHU row: Locals vouch for sanskar of Muslim professor Firoz Khan

22nd November 2019

JAIPUR: The small hamlet of Bagru, about 30 km from Jaipur, had erupted in joy when locals heard that their ‘own Firoz Khan’ had been selected to the prestigious faculty of Sanskrit at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Uttar Pradesh.

The protests, which followed his appointment, however, ‘killed’ the spirit, as it were.

There is an air of anger and anguish in town.

“How could they,” is what people of the small town do not understand.

Firoz’s grandfather Ghafoor used to sing bhajans of Radha-Krishna and Sita-Ram at Bagru’s Jugal Durbar temple for years.

His father, Ramzan, for the last two decades is a fixture at the local Gaushala, singing bhajans and carrying forward the legacy of his forefathers. “I have trained my sons to sing and learn Sanskrit,” says Ramzan.

“If the protesting students at Banaras Hindu University were fully aware of my family’s background, I doubt if they would oppose Firoz.

Not only has our family been singing bhajans of Ram and Krishna for over a century but I’ve trained all my four sons in Sanskrit and the ancient culture of our country.”

Ramzan and his family are deeply respected by the entire Hindu community in Bagru. As Banwari Lal, the caretaker of Ramdev Gaushala says: “Most Hindus would not be able to serve cows as well as Ramzan has done for the past 18 years. He may have been born into a Muslim family but their sanskar is better than any Hindu.

He has even christened his daughter as Lakshmi. You have to see how people flock to him at the temple. It’s terrible to see what is happening to Firoz.”

“We never felt they are Muslims or we are Hindus as we all jointly celebrate Diwali or Eid. We have lived together for generations and Firoz and his brothers are like our own children. I feel as if my own son is being harassed,” said Santosh Gujar, a neighbour.

Firoz’s former school principal Yogendra Kumar said, “Firoz’s success has inspired our students to dream really big. Over 20 per cent of those learning Sanskrit are from Muslim families. Those who oppose him do not have any idea of the real India. We hope they develop good sense.”



BHU founder's grandson backs Muslim professor's appointment in Sanskrit dept

November 22, 2019

BHU Chancellor Giridhar Malviya, who is the university founder Madan Mohan Malviya's grandson, on Thursday backed the Muslim professor whose appointment at the Sanskrit department triggered a row, saying had the leader been alive he too would approved.

A day earlier, a section of the students took out a march opposing another group that has been demonstrating against Feroze Khan's appointment.

On Thursday, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and BSP Chief Mayawati extended their support to the professor Khan.

Although the BHU has backed Khan, he has been unable to take classes. The protesters say only a Hindu can teach Sanskrit at the university in Varanasi.

BHU Chancellor Justice Girdhar Malviya, retired judge of Allahabad High Court, on Thursday said the agitation against Khan's appointment is wrong.

BHU founder Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya had a broad vision. Had he been alive, he would have certainly backed the appointment of Professor Khan in the university's Sanskrit department, said Justice Malviya.

Taking to Twitter, the Congress leader too defended the appointment.

"Our languages and culture are our speciality, our strength," the Congress leader tweeted.

"Sanskrit language has vastness. The constitution of our country has vastness. Any teacher can teach Sanskrit in a university," the Congress leader added.

Rajasthan chief minister said his Uttar Pradesh counterpart should intervene in the matter.

"I am in touch with the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The issue that has been created about Dr Feroze Khan teaching Sanskrit in the BHU should be resolved soon. The Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh should intervene in this matter," Gehlot tweeted.

BSP president Mayawati also blamed the government for the controversy, saying education and politics of religion or caste cannot be linked.

On Wednesday, a section of students took out a march on the campus in support of Professor Khan, raising slogans in his favour.

"Any one can teach Sanskrit whether he is Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist or Christian," they said.

Meanwhile, ABVP's dharna against Khan's appointment entered the 14th day.

Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, mahant of Vidya Mutt, on Thursday reached the BHU campus and lent his support to the protesting students.



Students call off stir after 15 days, BHU’s faculty of Sanskrit reopens

Nov 22, 2019

VARANASI: The students of BHU’s faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) have decided to call off their fortnight-long stir against appointment of Dr Firoz Khan as assistant professor in the ‘Sahitya’ department of the faculty, after talks with the varsity administration. Now, all eyes are on Prof Khan whether he resumes teaching.

According to a press statement released on Thursday night by BHU spokesperson Rajesh Singh, the university administration had held several rounds of talks with the agitating students on Wednesday, after which the faculty reopened on Thursday. It is expected that the classes will resume on Friday.

Vice-chancellor Prof Rakesh Bhatnagar, dean Prof Vindhyeswari Prasad Mishra, heads of departments, senior teachers and university officials were also present during the meeting.

A varsity official said the students handed over a memorandum containing a slew of questions to the university administration. After chief proctor OP Rai and the head of the department assured to respond to the questions within 10 days, the students decided to end their sit-in.

The students in their memorandum have sought information about the process of shortlisting of candidates and whether the process in the Sahitya department was similar to that of other departments of SVDV faculty, whether the shortlisting was done in view of the traditional (Sanatan Dharm) rules, which rule of UGC was adopted in shortlisting process and whether the appointment was done in accordance with the BHU Act or not.

Prof Mishra said, “The students’ memorandum has been received. We will take a sympathetic view of it to resolve the issue.”

Earlier, the VC had appealed to the students to call off their stir. “The faculty of SVDV reopened on Thursday. Prof Bhatnagar has appealed to the students to call off their dharna as prolonged closure of the faculty has made students suffer,” BHU spokesperson told TOI.

After locking the faculty, the SVDV students had been staging a dharna near the vice-chancellor’s residence since November 7 in protest against Dr Khan’s appointment in the faculty on November 6.



Indian Muslim Sanskrit professor in hiding after rightwing protests

Thu 21 Nov 2019

Amrit Dhillon

A Muslim scholar of Sanskrit has gone into hiding after protests from some rightwing Hindu students claiming that, as a Muslim, he cannot teach Sanskrit, the ancient classical language of Hinduism.

Feroz Khan, 29, was the unanimous choice of a selection committee at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi for the post of assistant professor of Sanskrit literature. The committee members were impressed with his erudition, which stems from a childhood passion for the language that continued into further education.

But on 7 November, two days after Khan took up the post, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a rightwing student organisation with a Hindu nationalist ideology, staged a campus protest demanding that Khan be moved to a different faculty.

One placard read: “A Muslim cannot teach us our religion.” They vowed to keep protesting until Khan was transferred to another post.

Khan has been stunned at the protests. His Muslim family, who live in a village not far from Jaipur in Rajasthan, is unusual in that his father, Ramzan Khan, also studied Sanskrit and is famous in the area for singing Hindu devotional songs and working as a volunteer in a cow shelter. Hindu priests in the area have come out and supported his son’s appointment.

Before vanishing, Khan made only a few remarks to the media. “Since my childhood, till the completion of my studies … I never faced any discrimination because of my religion. This is so disheartening. A group of students don’t want me to teach them Sanskrit because I am not a Hindu,” he told the Times of India.

Sanskrit is 3,500 years old and has the same status in Hinduism as Latin did in Christianity – only it is not quite as “dead” as Latin. It is still used in some academic and literary circles, as well as during Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals and ceremonies.

So far, the university has stood firm. It issued a statement saying Khan’s appointment was final and that it was committed to providing “equal opportunities to everyone irrespective of religion, caste, community or gender”.

But Khan has left the university for the moment. University officials confirmed that he had left on Tuesday to go home for a while and would return when things had calmed down. But when journalists visited his home, Khan was not there and his father said he did not know his whereabouts. They did not respond to calls from the Guardian.

No minister from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) has come out in Khan’s support. The Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal, a former BJP MP who is still affiliated with the party, tweeted: “Stunned by the protest against professor Feroz Khan. What has language to do with Religion!?!?!? Irony is professor Feroz has done his masters and PhD in Sanskrit. For Heavens sake stop this god damn idiocy!”

Meanwhile, other students on the campus have come out in support of Khan and his right to teach Sanskrit, along with some members of Hindu nationalist groups.



Two lynched in West Bengal over suspicion of cow theft

Written by Sweety Kumari

November 22, 2019

Two men were lynched in West Bengal’s Coochbehar district Thursday for allegedly ferrying two stolen cows in a vehicle with no number plate, police said, adding that 13 people have been arrested so far. According to an officer probing the case, rumours of cows being stolen had been rife in the area of late.

According to police, Mathabhanga residents Prakash Das (32) and Babul Mitra (37) were stopped by around 20 locals at 5.30 am after they noticed the animals in their pick-up van. “They pulled them out and beat them with sticks and stones before torching the vehicle. The mob dispersed when police reached the spot,” said an officer from Kotwali police station. The men were rushed to Coochbehar Government Medical College and Hospital, where they succumbed to injuries. Police said they are yet to ascertain whether the cows were actually stolen.

“Thirteen people have been arrested and an investigation is underway,” SP (Coochbehar) Santosh Nimbalkar said. Police deployment has been increased in the area and raids are underway to identify others who were part of the mob, an officer said.

The accused have been arrested on charges of murder, and more charges are likely to be added, the officer said.



Oppossiton seeks clarity on P Mohanan’s statement on Islamist-Maoist ties

22nd November 2019

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and deputy leader M K Muneer sought government’s clarification on CPM Kozhikode district secretary P Mohanan’s statement of Islamic terrorists providing support to Maoists. The leaders asked if the home department had received any such information and called upon the chief minister to respond on the matter.

UDF leaders while maintaining that terror had to be opposed at any cost were against creating the myth of Islamophobia, which they stated was Sangh Parivar politics. The leaders said that the CPM district secretary’s statement was supportive of Sangh Parivar’s political stand and Kummanam Rajashekharan welcoming the statement was a clear indication of CPM’s policy shift.

The opposition leaders said that the Maoists encounter at Palakkad was part of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s policy and the same policy was being used to brand Alan and Thwaha as urban naxals. They added that the Sangh Parivar mouthpiece ‘Janmabhumi’ had also appreciated Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on this action.The leaders said that there have been instances in several parts of the country where a particular community had been picked out, but Kerala has always been different. P Mohanan’s statement provides necessary fodder to the Sangh Parivar forces, the leaders said.

Ramesh Chennithala and M K Muneer requested the CPM to immediately resort to correction of these policies and retain the secular credentials of the state. Meanwhile, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran has alleged that the CPM and state government are implementing RSS agenda across the state.



North America


'US and Israel are common enemies of the Muslim world,' says Iranian commander


"America and Israel are common enemies of the Muslim world," the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, said Thursday during a meeting with the chief of staff of Pakistan's military, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Amid ongoing civil unrest across Iran, Salami also called for Muslim solidarity to thwart "enemy conspiracies" and said he appreciated Pakistan for its valuable efforts for de-escalation in the region.

Bajwa also met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian army chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.

During his meeting with Rouhani, Bajwa stated that Pakistan was prepared to strengthen bilateral relations between the countries.

Iran, meanwhile, began restoring internet access in the capital Tehran and a number of provinces on Thursday, local news agencies and residents said, after a five-day-long nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle the protests against fuel price hikes.

The IRGC said calm had returned across Iran, Iran's state TV reported. Amnesty International said over 100 demonstrators had been killed by security forces, a figure rejected as "speculative" by the government.

"The internet is being gradually restored in the country," the semi-official news agency Fars said, quoting unidentified informed sources.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo early Friday called on Iranians to send the US videos “documenting the regime’s crackdown on protestors.”

He wrote in a tweet: “The US will expose and sanction the abuses.”

Fars quoted the sources as saying the National Security Council that had ordered the shutdown approved reactivating the internet in "some areas and, according to reports so far, fixed-line internet has been restored in Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Arak, Mashhad, Qom, Tabriz, Hamadan and Bushehr provinces, and parts of Tehran."

"We again have internet as of an hour ago," a retired engineer, who declined to be named, said by telephone from Tehran.

The internet blockage made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said the restoration of connectivity in Iran covered only about 10% of Iran.

News agencies and residents said only fixed-line internet, not mobile internet, was partially restored.

Protests began on Nov. 15 in several provincial towns after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50%. They spread to 100 cities and towns and quickly turned political with protesters demanding top officials step down.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Iran for blocking the internet.

"Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country," Trump tweeted.

"They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!" he added.

The International Monetary Fund said it regretted the violence and loss of life during the protests and had not discussed the gasoline price hike with Iran.

IMF spokeswoman Camilla Andersen added: "In general, the IMF continues to advise oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region to reduce fuel subsidies ... while compensating the poor with targeted cash transfers, which we understand is the approach Iran has taken."

On Thursday, state TV showed thousands marching in pro-government rallies in a dozen cities, carrying national flags and signs with slogans including "Rioting is not protesting."

Amnesty International said it had documented at least 106 protesters killed by security forces, which would make it the worst street unrest in Iran in at least a decade and possibly since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran’s UN mission on Wednesday dismissed the casualty report as "speculative, not reliable."

Iranian authorities said several people, including members of the security forces and policemen, were killed in street violence, which Tehran blamed on "foreign foes."



UN and other international bodies should take up the Dalai Lama succession issue: US

November 22, 2019

Rejecting Chinese claim on deciding the Dalai Lama’s successor, the United States on Thursday said that this was an issue that should be taken up in international bodies, including the United Nations.

“There are many people who follow the Dalai Lama and don’t live in China. He is a well-known spiritual leader throughout the world and deserves respect and deserves the succession process picked by his faith community…,” US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback told reporters at a news conference here.

Rejecting the Chinese claim, he reiterated that it was an issue that should be taken up in international bodies.

The United States is going to keep pushing on that, said Brownback who was recently in Dharamshala and addressed the Tibetan community.

“He used to travel so much, was such a great spokesperson. I met him several times when he travelled to the United States – just was energetic and lively and clear. But he’s not able to travel as much now, so he can’t really kind of carry the cause the way he used to carry the cause almost singlehandedly in the past,” he said.

Now more of the international community needs to step up and start carrying the cause with him and for him, he said.

Responding to a question, Brownback said the United Nations needs to take this topic of succession of the Dalai Lama.

“I think it should be taken up by the United Nations. It should be taken up by other international bodies too, but the UN should take it up, the European – a number of governments…around the world should take this up,” he said.

“Particularly, European governments should take this up that care about religious freedom and human rights…. This is something that needs to be addressed at this point in time,” Brownback said.

“We know what the Chinese are capable and willing to do because of what they’ve done to the Panchen Lama. So this – we are not going to be surprised what actions they’re going to be willing to take. It’s just we need to get there ahead of time and address it,” he said.

Brownback said it’s the Tibetan Buddhists who have the right to determine the succession for the Dalai Lama, not the Chinese Communist Party or any government.

“To me, this is like the Chinese Communist Party, the government, saying they have a right to determine who the next pope is. This is not their right. This is the right of the Tibetan Buddhists to determine this,” he asserted.

“The Chinese government has said repeatedly they have this right. You will recall they kidnapped the Panchen Lama…. We don’t know if he’s dead or alive. And they claim that the succession has to go through them, the Chinese government,” he alleged.



US backs sustained Indian role in Afghanistan

Nov 22, 2019

WASHINGTON: The United States said Thursday that it supported continued Indian involvement in Afghanistan, even as President Donald Trump looks to withdraw troops.

India is one of the most enthusiastic backers of Afghanistan's government, contributing more than $3 billion since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the Taliban, who harbored virulently anti-Indian militants.

"The United States welcomes India's substantial investment in and assistance to Afghanistan," said Nancy Izzo Jackson, a State Department official in charge of Afghanistan.

"And we will continue to support efforts to achieve an honorable and enduring outcome in Afghanistan that preserves our investment in Afghanistan's future," she told a conference on India's role in Afghanistan at the Hudson Institute.

India constructed Afghanistan's new parliament building and has also wooed Afghans with its soft power, including Bollywood films.

But India's involvement in Afghanistan has been a cause of consternation for rival Pakistan, which has maintained ties to the Taliban in part citing fears of encirclement.

The United States earlier this year reached a deal with the Taliban to pull troops from Afghanistan and wind down America's longest war.

But Trump said in September that he was withdrawing an invitation to the insurgents to meet near Washington due to the killing of a US soldier.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the Indian ambassador in Washington, said that any settlement in Afghanistan needed to ensure that "there is no room for any terrorist elements to create a foothold."

"It is also important to deliver the message to terrorists that democracies do not surrender to terrorism and in the ideological battle of the 'emirate' versus the 'republic,' the latter prevails," he said.



US warns Pakistan of risks from China infrastructure push

November 22, 2019

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday warned Pakistan that it faced long-term economic damage with little return if China keeps pursuing its giant infrastructure push.

The top US diplomat for South Asia said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor -- heralded as a game-changer by both Asian countries -- would profit only Beijing and said that the United States offered a better model.

"It´s clear, or it needs to be clear, that CPEC is not about aid," said Alice Wells, the acting assistant secretary of state for South Asia.

She noted that the multibillion-dollar initiative was driven by non-concessionary loans, with Chinese companies sending their own labor and material.

"CPEC relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies, even amid rising unemployment in Pakistan," Wells said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The corridor "is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come due in the next four to six years," she said.

"Even if loan payments are deferred, they are going to continue to hang over Pakistan´s economic development potential, Prime Minister (Imran) Khan´s reform agenda," she said.

The United States has gone on the offensive against China´s Belt and Road Initiative, a signature project of President Xi Jinping which aims to build ports, highways and railways around the world.

But Wells´ speech was unusually specific in warning of risks to Pakistan, a historic ally of the United States which has had a turbulent relationship with Washington in recent years.

While acknowledging that the United States could not come to Pakistan with offers from state-run companies, Wells said private US investment, coupled with US grants, would improve the troubled economy´s fundamentals.

"There is a different model," she said. "Worldwide we see that US companies bring more than just capital; they bring values, processes and expertise that build the capacities of local economies."

She pointed to interest in Pakistan by US companies including Uber, Exxon Mobil, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, with the soft-drink makers together investing $1.3 billion in the country.

China´s main promises in Pakistan include the development of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea into a world-class port.

Beijing hopes to link Gwadar to the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, giving the world´s second largest economy more access to the oil-rich Middle East and reducing reliance on the dispute-ridden South China Sea.



Islamophobe Laura Loomer fails in bid to sue U.S. Muslim organisation

A U.S. court has dismissed a lawsuit against the nation’s most prominent Muslim organisation by the anti-Islam activist Laura Loomer.

Loomer was trying to sue The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, for allegedly conspiring with Twitter to ban her account.

But the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that the defects in her lawsuit appeared irreparable and did not give her an opportunity to amend it.

Judge Rodolfo Ruiz wrote: “Plaintiffs’ suggestion that the mere reporting of a Twitter user — however insistent such reporting may be — is sufficient to constitute tortious interference in a business relationship between Twitter and the targeted user is, to put it mildly, nonsensical.”

CAIR had reported Loomer to Twitter over her Islamophobic posts before her ban, and she complained that this had destroyed her business relationship with potential donors as well as Twitter itself.

But the court ruled that Loomer had failed to establish an actual business relationship with identifiable customers or Twitter.

CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer, who argued the motion to dismiss in court, said: “Today’s victory is not just for CAIR against a conspiracy theorist, but is also a victory for all internet users who flag objectionable, hate-filled content for moderation.”

CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri said: “We are pleased the court recognised that Loomer’s complaint against CAIR was baseless. Her own pattern of anti-Muslim rhetoric is what caused Twitter and at least eight other internet platforms to ban her, not any actions by CAIR.”

And CAIR Trial Attorney Justin Sadowsky added: “Loomer sued CAIR because Twitter banned her for being an Islamophobe, but two pranksters convinced her that the ban was some sort of Muslim conspiracy between CAIR and Twitter. In any event, CAIR is not legally liable for Twitter’s decision to ban her.”

Loomer, 26, is banned from Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, Uber and several other internet platforms.

The far-right activist often labelled Muslims as terrorists or anti-semites and Islam as bigoted.

In 2017, following a terrorist attack in New York City, Loomer tweeted that she was late to a conference because she could not find a “non Muslim cab or @Uber @lyft driver.” She called for the creation of a new ride-sharing company which did not employ Muslims after it became known that the suspect in the attack was a former driver for Uber.

Her day-long “tweetstorm” blamed all Muslims for the activities of “radical Islamists” such as ISIS. Following this, both Uber and Lyft announced that she had violated their guidelines and was banned from using their services.

In August 2018, Loomer disrupted a congressional campaign event for Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar which was attended by House candidate Rashida Tlaib. Loomer shouted questions which implied that Tlaib was anti-Semitic.

Later that year, Loomer was banned from Twitter for a tweet about the newly elected Congresswoman in which Loomer called Omar “anti-Jewish,” and described her as a member of a religion in which “homosexuals are oppressed” and women are “abused” and “forced to wear the hijab.”

A week following the ban, she handcuffed herself to the front door of the Twitter headquarters in New York City in protest while wearing a yellow “Jude” patch.

“I’ve been silenced in America,” Loomer said in a video posted to YouTube in response to the Twitter ban. She had more than 260,000 followers on the social-media platform before her suspension.





Pro-Gov't Rallies Held in Several Iranian Cities

Thu Nov 21, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian demonstrators turned out in several towns and cities on Thursday, which had been rocked by riots in the past few days, to show allegiance to the establishment and deplore rioters who misused the peaceful protest rallies to damage public properties.

People in Shiraz, Isfahan, Qom, Yasouj, Shahroud, Karaj, Kerman, Zahedan and Bandar Abbas poured to the streets on Thursday to stress support for the Islamic Republic and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and voice opposition to the rioters and enemies.

Demonstrators chanted slogans against the rioters and enemies who masterminded the unrests in Iran, and called on the government to tighten control on the prices of other goods after increasing the gasoline price.

Ali, a university student, who had taken part in the demonstrations in Shiraz told FNA that he wants to show to the enemies that the country's security and integrity is people's redline.

"Meantime, we seriously demand the government and officials to spend the revenues of increasing gasoline prices for people's welfare," he added.

In a similar move on Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of government supporters rallied across Iran, swearing allegiance to the Islamic Republic and the Leader and voicing opposition and condemnation of the recent riots.

People from different walks of life took part in the demonstrations, chanting slogans against the rioters who "misused the recent peaceful rallies to protest at the government decision to ration gasoline".

People in Golestan, Ardabil, Hamedan, Markazi, Gilan, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Kerman and Ilam provinces poured to the streets on Wednesday to stress support for the establishment and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and voice opposition to the rioters and enemies.

The demonstrators shouted slogans, including 'death to the US', 'death to Israel' and 'death to the hypocrites' - a term used by Iranians to refer to the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO also known as MEK, NCR, NCRI and PMOI) terrorist organization.

They also carried placards, demanding the government to increase efforts to control prices of other goods after the decision to ration and increase the price of gasoline.

In a relevant development on Tuesday and Monday, Iranian people in the two Northwestern cities of Tabriz and Zanjan had also held rallies to stress support for the Leader and the Islamic Republic and condemn riots and saboteurs who have destroyed the public and private properties in the past few days.

A large number of people in Tabriz poured to the streets on Tuesday morning to support the Islamic Republic's security and might.

They chanted slogans, including 'Protest is the right of every man, riot is the enemy's job' and 'the only way towards freedom is obedience to the Leader'.

Also, people in Zanjan city staged rallies on Monday afternoon to support the Leader and show opposition to the rioters.

The ralliers, meantime, called on the government to take effective steps to control prices of different goods.

Nearly 80 chain stores in Iran were ransacked and destroyed from 50% to 100% by the rioters.

Reports from different parts of the country said that the rioters first plundered the goods in the chain stores and then set fire on the stores. Yet, in some cases, the stores and all the goods and products have been set on fire.

Most of the damaged chain stores are located in the towns near Tehran, including Marlik, Parand, Shahriar, Robat Karim, Fardis, Malard, Qods, Varamin and Hassan Abad.

Also, a chain store in the Eastern part of Tehran city and several other stores in Isfahan, Alborz, Sanandaj and Kermanshah were destroyed and looted.

Initial estimates indicate that the chain stores that have come under attack have sustained a sum of nearly 170bln tomans (approximately $17mln) of damage.

A senior Iranian security official said on Tuesday that thugs arrested during the recent riots confessed that they received $60 for each place set on fire.

"One such instance pertains to a number of thugs arrested in one of the provinces who were given an advance payment of 300,000 tomans (nearly $30) to stage an arson attack and another 300,000 tomans once they did the mission," Commander of Hamedan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Bakhsh Ali Kamrani Saleh said.

He underlined the necessity for increasing vigilance so that people's righteous demands will not be misused by the rioters.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli announced on Tuesday that calm had been restored to the country after the recent riots that started following the government's gas price hike plan.

"Thanks to the Leader's remarks, efforts by the security and Law Enforcement Police forces and people's vigilance who separated their way from the ill-wishers and violence-seekers, calm has been restored in the country," Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran.

"A large number of saboteurs and rioters and those who set fire at public properties and played a role in the destructions have been identified," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.



Official: 29 Ringleaders of Recent Unrests Arrested in South Khorassan Province

Thu Nov 21, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian judiciary official said leaders of the recent unrests in the Eastern province of South Khorassan have been identified and detained by the security forces, adding that all of them have been freed on bail.

Head of South Khorassan province's Judiciary office Ebrahim Hamidi told reporters on Thursday that 29 leaders of the recent protest rallies have been arrested in the capital city of the province.

"After investigations, these people were freed on bail and at present no one is under detention at provincial jails for participation in the protest rallies," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.



Iranian Envoy: Armed Rioters' Plots to Attack Infrastructures Failed due to People's Vigilance

Thu Nov 21, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Ba'edinejad stressed that armed thugs who damaged different public properties also plotted to destroy the country's major infrastructures, but failed due to people's lack of support.

"Organized armed rioters attacked hundreds of banks, gas stations (and) even emergency centers and ambulances under the false cover of supporting social and economic demands of people," Ba'edinejad wrote on his twitter page on Thursday.

He noted that they had larger plans to attack infrastructure, adding, "But they failed because received no support from people."

Head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali had said on Monday that anti-revolutionary forces organized groups in recent riots across Iran who threatened people with firearms to force them close their businesses and join the riots.

"The presence of organized anti-revolutionary groups in recent gatherings could be seen very clearly. Which protestor would go to a protest rally while fully equipped with tools to unscrew light poles and guardrails and to manace citizens with cold weapons and firearms to force them to join the riots," General Jalali said.

He added that destruction of public properties and plundering the stores and banks is not called civil protest, stressing that security of the people is the Islamic Republic's redline.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.



Iran Asks Pompeo to Set Aside 18th-Century Thoughts

Thu Nov 21, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian foreign ministry on Thursday deplored US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's supportive position on the Israeli settlements, calling on him to come out of his 18th-century imaginations.

Pompeo had on Monday renounced the US previous position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which was that the settlements were “occupied territories,” and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territories it occupies.” The US State Department adopted this position in 1978. Along with the US, most other members of the United Nations similarly considered the settlements to be illegal.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday that the new US decision shows the country’s partnership in Israeli regime’s occupation and crimes in Palestine, describing the decision as violation of the sovereignty of Palestine’s neighboring countries.

“Remarks and measures of Americans regarding Palestine is a clear violation of international law,” Mousavi said, calling on the international community to counter and condemn these actions.

“Palestine belongs to Palestinian people … and the only solution out of the crisis is to hold a referendum among original inhabitants of the Palestinian land.”

He also recommended Pompeo to abandon his 18th-century line of thought that believed those in power were beyond regulations and international law.

“In the 21st century, neither America is the only power, nor anybody accepts the violation of international law by powerful countries,” Mousavi said.

The EU had also earlier this month called on Israel to end all illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power," an EU Spokesperson said in a statement.

The Spokesperson added that Israeli authorities approved the advancement of well over 2,000 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank in October.

"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334," the Spokesperson stated.

The EU will continue to support a negotiated two-state solution, according to the statement.



FM: US Sanctions Destroying Benefits of N. Deal for Iran

Thu Nov 21, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the harsh sanctions imposed by the US prevented his country from using the benefits of the nuclear deal, forcing Tehran to modify its undertakings.

Zarif made the remark in a telephone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi on Wednesday.

He also explained his country's stance, saying that the economic benefits promised in the nuclear deal have not been secured because of sanctions by the United States.

Motegi, for his part, urged Zarif to halt measures that would “undermine” the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He also called on Iran to continue to fulfill its responsibility as a Persian Gulf littoral state to provide safety of shipping in the extremely important region.

He also said that Japan will continue diplomatic efforts to ease tensions in the Middle East.

Zarif underlined that he was keen to closely communicate with Japan.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi, in a meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok, reiterated that Tehran would keep reducing its nuclear commitments according to the terms of the 2015 deal unless the Islamic Republic benefits from the dividends enshrined in the agreement.

Araqchi, who was in the Netherlands to attend the 3rd round of political talks between the two sides, held talks with Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok on the international issues, particularly the latest developments regarding the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the ways to expand relations between the two countries.

Pointing to Iran's reduction of its JCPOA-commitments, he said that the move comes within the framework of Iran's rights under the nuclear agreement and will continue until Iran's interests are met.

Dutch foreign minister, for his part, reaffirmed the need to preserve the JCPOA, saying that the Netherlands supports the French initiative to find a way out of the current crisis.



South Asia


12 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Wardak and Paktiya clashes: Thunder Corps

Thursday, 21 Nov 2019

The Afghan forces clashed with Taliban militants in Wardak and Paktiya provinces in the past 24 hours killing or wounding at least 12 militants.

The 203rd Thunder Corps said in a statement the security forces clashed with Taliban militants in Ibrahim Khel and Kashmiryan areas of Wardak province.

The statement further added the security forces killed 4 Taliban militants during the clashes and wounded at least 6 others.

Furthermore, the security forces repulsed a Taliban attack in Rohani Baba area of Zurmat district in Paktiya, the 203rd Thunder Corps said, adding that the security forces wounded 2 Taliban militants during the clash.

The 201st Silab Corps also added that the security forces discovered and defused 4 improvised explosive devices during the operations in Ghazni province.



Chinese Repression of Muslims in Xinjiang Echoes Across Central Asia

By: Paul Goble

November 21, 2019

Beijing’s efforts to expand its power in Central Asia by investment and cooperation with the governments in the region (see China Brief, November 19, 2019; see EDM, April 4, 2019, January 30, 2018, August 2, 2016) are currently being undercut by the reactions of Central Asian populations to China’s repression of their co-ethnics and fellow Muslims in Xinjiang. Central Asians know far more about Chinese actions there than many might expect for three reasons: 1) the flight of such people from China to Central Asia, 2) the use of the Internet by Uyghurs and other activists to tell the world and particularly Central Asia about their plight, and 3) the exploitation of this information by opposition politicians in Central Asian countries.

Many members of the Central Asian nationalities currently living in Xinjiang have ancestors who escaped there after the Soviets crushed the Basmachi movement (Turkestan Liberation Organization) in the 1920s and 1930s. But over the past several months, they have been fleeing western China in increasing numbers and, upon arrival to their ancestral homelands, telling their co-ethnics about the concentration camps that the Chinese authorities have confined them to in the hopes of “re-educating” them away from Islam and national traditions and toward Beijing’s preferred values. The massive scale of this flight was highlighted in a recent report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It states that during the first nine months of 2019, 4,500 ethnic Kazakhs from China resettled in Kazakhstan with the right of permanent residence as “oralmans,” the name Nur-Sultan has used for co-ethnic returnees (, November 17;, September 19).

Their personal accounts of mistreatment at the hands of the Chinese have inflamed Kazakhstani opinion, which had already been growing more hostile to Beijing because of Uyghur use of the Internet to document Chinese repression. In a recent issue of the Central Asian Survey, Rachel Harris of London’s SOAS and independent scholar Aziz Isa report on the way this works in an article entitled “Islam by Smartphone: Reading the Islamic Revival on WeChat.” Because this channel has proven so influential in Central Asia, and especially in Kazakhstan, it has attracted enormous attention there by independent media there and, thus, had a dramatic effect on the populations (, March 6).

This development appears to have contributed in a significant way to the spread of anti-Chinese protests in Kazakhstan this fall. Those demonstrations, some of the largest in that country’s history, have taken place in almost all major cities and have put strains on relations between Kazakhstan and China. To be sure, the reports from Xinjiang and first-person accounts by those who fled that Chinese region are not the only cause. Many Central Asians have long resented the fact that the Chinese have often behaved extremely arrogantly in their dealings with the governments in the region, seemingly exploiting them in an openly neo-colonial way, and not providing these countries with the kind of support (relative to the Russian Federation and other outside powers) they had hoped China’s involvement would create (see EDM, September 10).

Anti-Chinese attitudes, linked to the Xinjiang case and otherwise, are not confined to Kazakhstan but exist, and appear to be intensifying, in all the countries of the region, with Chinese involvement in their economies and politics and Chinese mistreatment of their co-ethnics in Xinjiang being the leading causes. According to Bishkek-based journalist Pavel Dyatlentko, anti-Chinese attitudes have been on the rise throughout Central Asia; and whenever they have led to protests, Beijing reacted quickly and punitively, shutting consulates and suspending investment projects—actions that are only making the situation worse (, September 11).

In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, he says, some Kyrgyz and Tajiks have expressed alarm at the massive debts to China that Bishkek and Dushanbe have run up, a development that many fear Beijing will exploit to gain political dominance. Elsewhere, the fact that Chinese investments have sparked Chinese immigration rather than created jobs for Central Asians is the bigger problem. Central Asians resent the appearance of “China towns” in their countries just as much as some in Russia’s Far East do (Vzglyad, August 15, 2018). And protests against the Chinese presence and Chinese repression have become part of the domestic political struggle in many of these countries.

According to Dyatlenko, as China has expanded its presence with the full cooperation of the regimes in power, opposition politicians have begun to play on this theme, recognizing that the Central Asian populations are not on the same page as their governments, as far as China is concerned. Given that China is likely to continue to expand its presence, further irritating local publics, the temptation of opposition groups to exploit such anger will only grow. If that happens—and the Bishkek commentator argues it will unless alternative sources of foreign investment appear—the anti-Chinese demonstrations that have taken place to date will be only the prelude to a situation that could easily spiral out of control, ethnicizing politics in these countries still further.

Should that occur, the consequences of the impact of China’s actions in Xinjiang and its moves to expand its position in Central Asia could transform the regional republics still further, sparking more Russian flight and even becoming another source of discord between Moscow and Beijing. The timing of such a cooling of relations would be particularly inauspicious for the Kremlin considering President Vladimir Putin’s current efforts to both promote a Russian-Chinese alliance against the United States as well as to recover Russia’s influence in Central Asia.



Ghani accepts President Trump’s invitation to visit U.S.: ARG Palace

Friday, 22 Nov 2019

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani accepted President Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the United States, the ARG Presidential Palace said.

Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said President Ghani and President Trump spoke on the phone on Thursday evening in which the two leaders had detailed discussion about peace process and the important progress the Afghan forces have made on the battlefield.

“President Trump thanked President Ghani for his efforts and support in ensuring the release of the two American University professors from the Taliban’s captivity”, Sediqqi said, adding that the two leaders also praised the efforts of Afghan security forces in defeating the Daesh in Nangarhar province.

According to Sediqqi, the two leaders also discussed the Afghan government’s 7-point peace plan. “In response, President Trump insisted on a ceasefire as precondition before negotiations.”

President Trump also stated that for any process to succeed, the Afghan government’s inclusion in the talks and their ownership and leadership of the process from the outset is imperative, which must begin immediately, Sediqqi added.

He also added “Finally, the U.S. president extended an invitation to President Ghani to visit the White House, which the president accepted.”



Afghanistan, Central Asia and Azerbaijan to reduce barriers to trade and transport

Friday, 22 Nov 2019

Afghanistan, the Central Asians of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, together with Azerbaijan together with Azerbaijan will reduce barriers to trade and transport using UN legal instruments, standards and recommendations.

Calling the step as ‘decisive’, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said in a statement the step will significantly increase interconnectivity in the region.

The statement further added “This will boost the regional market and cross-border supply chains, helping the countries to integrate with the economies of Europe and Asia.”

“It aims in turn to attract investments, technologies and innovation to the region that has been a cradle of civilization, trade and transport routes since ancient times,” the statement added.

This comes as Ministers from the region gather under the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), seizing this opportunity to catalyze their progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to UNECE.

Mr Batyr Bazarov, Minister of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan, stated at the annual SPECA Forum on 20-21 November 2019 in Ashgabat “our goal is to make the region a modern centre of transport services and trade”.

SPECA Working Groups Finalize key Documents:

The SPECA working groups on trade and transport and the annual Economic Forum on Connectivity: Sustainable Transport and Trade Facilitation in the SPECA subregion finalized several documents during the SPECA Days in Ashgabat from 18 to 21 November 2019.

The SPECA Governing Council later adopted the documents on 21 November 2019 which included the Ashgabat Initiative on the reduction of barriers to trade and transport in the regionm a SPECA Strategy on Innovation for Sustainable Development, a SPECA Trade Facilitation Strategy; principles for sustainable trade in the region, a proposal for a SPECA study on non-tariff barriers to trade and recommendations on the implementation of UN legal instruments on transport.

A very important element in the Initiative and the other concluding documents was the link between connectivity, trade and transport facilitation, and sustainable development, UNECE said in statement, adding that trade facilitation is about cutting waste of material and human resources. “A key challenge for the region is to make economic and trade growth sustainable.”

The countries, represented at ministerial level, decided to establish a Fund to support the implementation of these strategic documents, UNECE added in its statement.

About SPECA:

SPECA is a country-owned and country-driven programme for the land-locked economies of Central Asia, supported by two United Nations Regional Commissions: the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

In this sense, SPECA plays a unique role as a bridge between Europe and East Asia. The adoption of the above decisions created a stable basis for the third stage of development of SPECA, at the nexus between trade, transport and sustainable development, launching the Programme into its third decade, according to UNECE.



Afghanistan National Institute of Music receives Award at 2019 Global Pluralism Award Ceremony

Friday, 22 Nov 2019

His Highness the Aga Khan, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Global Centre for Pluralism presented the Awards to three winners and seven honourable mention recipients including the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.

High Highness the Aga Khan presented the Awards at a ceremony in Ottawa of Canada on 20th of November.

Speaking at the ceremony, His Highness the Aga Khan said, “The award should serve as a reminder that we can all take steps, in both our personal and professional lives, to foster a more positive and productive response to the changing diversity in our world. The award offers examples to inspire and inform how we take on that challenge.”

The three winners of 2019 Global Pluralism Award were CEnter for Social Integrity of Myanmar, Deborah Ahenkorah of Ghana and Learning History that is not yet History team of Bosnaa and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Adyan Foundation fo Lebanon, Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Artemissazio Foundation of Hungary, onBoard Canada, Rupantar of Bangladesh, SINGA of France and Soliya of USA were among the seven honourable mention recipients of the Award.

An independent international jury, chaired by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada, chose the Award recipients from over 500 applications from 74 coutries, following a rigorous review and selection process.

The three winners will each be granted $CAN50,000 and in-kind support to advance their work to promote more peaceful, inclusive and successful societies, according to a statement released by the Centre.



Islamic State Staggers in Afghanistan, but Survives

By Jeff Seldin

November 21, 2019

One of the Islamic State's most feared affiliates has suffered a significant setback, though U.S. officials caution reports that the terror group was "obliterated" are overblown.

U.S. officials confirmed Thursday that Islamic State-Khorasan, as the terror group's Afghan affiliate is called, collapsed in the country's eastern Nangarhar province following months of fighting.

"Afghan government and coalition operations against the group, along with the Taliban's campaign … led to ISIS-Khorasan's collapse in Nangarhar and the surrender of hundreds of fighters to Afghan forces," a senior counterterrorism official told VOA, using an acronym for the group.

"Surrendered [Islamic State] fighters said they were told to leave Nangarhar for Kunar [province], where we assess the group still maintains a presence, as well as the northern provinces of Afghanistan," the official added.

Afghans more optimistic

The U.S. assessment contrasted with some more optimistic pronouncements from Afghan officials, who touted the victory in Nangarhar as conclusive.

"No one believed one year ago that we would stand up and remain in Nangarhar, and thank God that today we have obliterated Daesh," President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday during a speech in Jalalabad, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"It's not possible that they once again equip themselves in other areas of Afghanistan and threaten other parts of the country," Nangarhar Governor Shah Mahmoud Miakhel added.

Just two days earlier, Taliban officials touted their own success against the Islamic State's Afghan affiliate, calling the group's defeat in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces the result of a "decisive and large-scale" campaign that began in September.

'Systematically uprooted'

"Over the course of the last five years, they were systematically uprooted," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement Sunday, adding the Taliban had "rescued the oppressed people of Nangarhar from this scourge."

Both the Taliban and Afghan government officials said almost 600 IS fighters had surrendered, along with women and children.

Still, U.S. officials said the threat from IS-Khorasan, which is thought to have between 4,000 and 5,000 fighters across Afghanistan, was far from over.

The movement of the surrendered fighters to Kunar province and northern provinces of Afghanistan "suggests ISIS-Khorasan is still active in the country despite losing territory in Nangarhar," the senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.

The U.S. Defense Department declined to discuss the statements by Afghan officials regarding the status of IS-Khorasan but said the effort to defeat the terror group would go on.

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan "will continue our work with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to ensure that ISIS in Afghanistan is destroyed," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Campbell told VOA.

'Enduring defeat' is goal

"The United States remains fully committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS, including ISIS in Afghanistan, which is critical to our national security," he added.

Over the years, IS-Khorasan has seen its fortunes waver, at one point seeing its ranks whittled to as few as several hundred fighters.

But the IS affiliate has consistently found ways to bounce back, leading defense intelligence officials to label it as an "enduring threat" to both Afghanistan and the West.

"ISIS-K has been a force that's had staying power," said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism analyst and CEO of Valens Global.

"A lot of that staying power relates to the fact that you have a growing militant landscape in Afghanistan," he said. "People who for whatever reason are disaffected with the Taliban have an alternative in ISIS-K."

There is also some thought that because of IS-Khorasan's ambition and resiliency, the estimated thousands of remaining fighters could get a boost from the terror group's core leadership in Iraq and Syria.

"With the caliphate's collapse, the core seems to be shifting some of its resources and attention to the affiliate group," said Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at The Soufan Center, a global security analysis group. "ISIS-K in Afghanistan is very high on my list of places where the group would look to make a resurgence.

"They know the United States won't be there forever," he added. "They're laying the groundwork."



Sri Lanka's Muslims have reason to fear the new Rajapaksa era

by Sultan Barakat

On Saturday, Sri Lankans elected Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former secretary of defence and brother of two-time former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as their new president in an election that has seen rising religious tensions take centre stage.

Gotabaya's election marked a return to majoritarian politics in the predominantly Buddhist South Asian island nation and left Sri Lanka's myriad minorities, especially the Muslims who constitute roughly 10 percent of the population, in a precarious position.

He secured victory with an impressive 52.25 percent of the vote but achieved this result with hardly any support from Sri Lanka's minorities. This marked a significant shift in Sri Lankan politics since Muslims have long been perceived as "kingmakers" in the country and played a key role in determining the winners of presidential and parliamentary elections. In the 2015 presidential elections, for example, they formed a united front with Tamil and Sinhalese opposition groups to defeat then-President Mahinda. But this time around they failed to influence the result of the election and likely lost the opportunity to have a representative in the new cabinet that will be sworn-in in January 2020.

But not having any representation in the cabinet is only the tip of an iceberg of problems awaiting Sri Lanka's Muslims following Gotabaya's election.

The newly-elected president, who served as defence secretary under his authoritarian older brother between 2005-2015 and helped him bring an end to Sri Lanka's 26-year war with Tamil rebels, based his campaign for Saturday's election on providing strong leadership on national security issues in general and the perceived threat of "Muslim extremism" in particular. This raised concerns among Sri Lanka's human rights activists, who fear Gotabaya could repeat the human rights violations allegedly committed against minorities during his brother's tenure.

Easter Sunday bombings behind Rajapaksa's rise

Gotabaya's election victory came on the back of a series of coordinated bombings on Easter Sunday that killed at least 257 people and wounded hundreds of others. The attacks, which were claimed by a little known local Muslim armed group, caused the country's Sinhalese Buddhist majority to openly turn on the Muslim community. In the months that followed, as the International Crisis Group (ICG) documented in a recent report, Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists waged a campaign of "violence and hate" against Sri Lanka's Muslims, while "a weak and divided political leadership has either stood idly by or, worse, egged on the abuse".

Large-scale violence was seen in Kurunegala, Kuliyapitiya and Minuwangoda among other places. As part of the Buddhist hardliners' campaign against Muslims, it is estimated that more than 30 mosques and Quranic schools, as well as 50 Muslim-owned shops and more than 100 houses, were attacked. Leading Buddhist monks, such as Venerable Rathna Himi and Galaboda Ghanasara, also openly criticised Muslims and encouraged violence against them.

All this boosted the political fortunes of Gotabaya who seized the opportunity to position himself as the nation's protector against the "Muslim threat" and to run for president on a security ticket.

The dramatic shift in Sri Lankan society's perception of Muslims and its decision to elect a strictly majoritarian leader like Gotabaya, however, cannot be tied solely to the Easter Sunday bombings.

Tensions had long been simmering under the surface

The growing anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka that at least partially led to the election of Gotabaya as president is the cumulative result of a set of insecurities specific to the Sinhalese majority.

First, the Sinhalese believe that Muslims in Sri Lanka, who first arrived on the island as traders and continued to be involved in trade over the centuries, are economically better-off than the rest of the Sri Lankan population. This perception fosters a sense of unfair distribution of wealth and is one of the underlying causes behind the long-simmering tensions between the Sinhalese and Muslim communities, which led to bursts of communal violence even before the Easter Sunday attacks.

Second, while the Sinhalese are clearly the majority in Sri Lanka, they carry significant demographic insecurities stemming from the fact that they are a minority in their wider neighbourhood, which is home to some 70 million Indian Tamils. As a result, even a decade after their victory against Tamil rebels, they still have deep-rooted fears about being "outnumbered" in their own homeland. Today, certain politicians and military leaders are using this deep-rooted fear to fuel not only anti-Tamil but also anti-Muslim sentiments in Sri Lanka in order to retain power and advantageous access to resources.

Following the definitive defeat of Tamil separatists in 2009, the post-war economic and social challenges, particularly the lack of progress in terms of reconciliation and resettlement of displaced people, caused the Sri Lankan population to slowly cease its support for Mahinda's government. Sri Lankans raised questions about the need to maintain the very high levels of military expenditure, given that the threat posed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been eliminated completely.

The only way for the government to hold on to power at the time was to turn a blind eye to or even actively encourage the creation of "extremist" Buddhist groups, such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Ravana Balaya; groups which sought to represent the country's Muslim minority as the new enemy of the state and, in so doing, helped the government to justify its high military spending. Moreover, the creation of this new "threat" allowed Mahinda to ask the public to support the incumbent government that defeated the LTTE in the face of a new security crisis.

While all these efforts did not prove enough to keep Mahinda in power - he lost the presidency in 2015 when the minorities he tried to turn into public enemies joined forces against him - it slowly paved the way for his brother's election some four years later. Even after Mahinda's removal from office, radical Buddhist groups continued to steer anti-Muslim feelings in the Sinhalese population. They even tried to use the desperate attempts by a very small number of Muslim-majority Rohingya to reach the shores of the island to convince the Sinhalese majority that Muslims present a threat to them.

The BBS was very vocal of its criticism of the arrival of Rohingya refugees on the island and heavily lobbied the government to "send them back". The group argued that allowing the arrival of a small number of Rohingya refugees could pave the way for a major Muslim refugee influx which, they claimed, would cause a "religious imbalance" and a higher number of terror incidents on the island. These very same groups also led the attacks and boycotts on Muslim businesses following the Easter Sunday bombings.

Third, Sri Lankan Muslims are treated with a growing sense of suspicion by the Sinhalese partly due to a rising conservative trend linked to religious influence from the Middle East. In early 1980, Following the entry of Saudi-funded mosques and satellite television channels proselytising Wahhabi ideals into the country, Muslims in Sri Lanka started to take on increasing signs of religious identity, beginning with the introduction of Hijab as part of school uniforms for girls in the 1980s. This caused alarm among the Sinhalese, who viewed the growing conservatism of the Sri Lankan Muslim community as a worrying sign of its descent into extremism.

These insecurities, exacerbated by the fears triggered by the 9/11 attacks and the consequent mainstreaming of Islamophobia across the world, led the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka to grow increasingly suspicious of Muslims. With some politicians and nationalist groups using these fears and insecurities to gain favour in the eyes of the public, and fringe Muslim extremist groups targeting innocent civilians, these suspicions transformed into outright hostility and caused a return to majoritarian politics in the country.

Following the election of Gotabaya as president, Muslims in Sri Lanka are facing the risk of being marginalised further. As he was elected on the premise of restoring security, Gotabaya is likely to bring forth a government that will play on Sinhalese fears about Muslims and prioritise security on the national agenda. In short, Muslims in Sri Lanka are likely to face a harsher crackdown under Gotabaya's leadership than ever before.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.



Southeast Asia


Malaysia releases scientist who tried to build biological weapons for Bin Laden

21 November, 2019

A Malaysian scientist who tried to develop anthrax weapons for Osama bin Laden was released by authorities on Wednesday after serving his latest prison term.

Yazid Sufaat, who was put back in jail in 2017 for recruiting for Al-Qaeda, was released following a decision by Malaysia's Prevention of Terrorism Board.

"Yazid Sufaat was released this morning from the Simpang Renggam prison in Johor and sent back to his home in Kuala Lumpur," the head of the Malaysian police's Special Branch counter-terrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said on Wednesday.

Ayob added that he will have to wear an electronic tracking device at all times.

"He is only allowed to be in the vicinity of his home in Ampang [district] and must be inside his home from 8pm to 6am every day," Ayob said.

Yazid, 55, has served a string of prison sentences for his involvement with Al-Qaeda and more recently the Islamic State group.

The former army captain was first jailed in 2002 for attempting to develop chemical weapons for al-Qaeda's slain leader in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

He also hosted senior Al-Qaeda operatives at his home in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. At one meeting, plans for the September 11 attack on New York's Twin Towers were discussed, making Yazid the only Malaysian citizen with links to the 9/11 attacks.

Yazid, who has spent almost two decades in detention, has been described by Ayob as "the most challenging militant" that Malaysia has attempted to deradicalise so far.

According to an intelligence source cited by Singapore's Straits Times, however, Yazid now appears to have "repented" for his terror activities.



Sharia committee wants to quadruple Islamic bank assets by 2024, will partner with Malaysia

Fri, November 22, 2019

Indonesia's sharia financial committee hopes to quadruple the nation's sharia bank assets over the next five years. It will also establish programs to enhance sharia financial services, including a partnership with Malaysia. 

National Committee for Sharia Finance (KNKS) executive director Ventje Rahardjo said that the goal was to reach Rp. 2 quadrillion (US$142.2 billion) in sharia bank assets by 2024.

According to Financial Service Authority (OJK) data, sharia banks had total assets worth Rp 477 trillion ($33.9 billion) last year. The number is significantly lower than conventional banks’ Rp 8.1 quadrillion ($575.9 billion) in assets.

"Sharia banks still need help, such as through temporary tax incentives, to reach the goal," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He added that the incentives could boost sharia bank performance to ensure a level playing field with conventional banks. Ventje said allowing sharia banks to finance government projects could also boost the banks' portfolios.

The committee, led by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and guided by several ministries and government institutions, planned to widen its coverage of Islamic finance to the Islamic economy in general.

Therefore, the name of the committee, established from a 2016 Presidential Regulation on KNKS, will be changed to the National Committee for Sharia Economy (KNES) to better reflect its responsibility to oversee the development of the halal value chain, including halal certifications.

Ventje said Indonesia and Malaysia would work together to create a regional halal standard, a move many business players await. Indonesia's new regulation requires halal certification for all applicable products and services.

We should be able to collaborate since we have about 90 percent similarity with Malaysia [halal standards], but often people see only the differences," he said.

He added that if the collaboration was successful, the two countries would strengthen their brands as the largest Muslim markets in Southeast Asia. 

The committee also planned to digitize sharia financial services, including a digital zakat (alms) platform and a sharia-compliant e-wallet.

"We want to make Islamic finance market-friendly, simpler and more inclusive. We understand it is a basic need for Muslims, but many non-Muslims are also interested," Ventje said.

Based on the 2019 Islamic Finance Country Index (IFCI), Indonesia ranked first, up from sixth last year, overtaking Malaysia, which had dominated the index since 2011.

The report cited President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s promotion of Islamic finance in the country, as well as the fact that Indonesia is the largest economy in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) block, in terms of both population and gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, data from the Global Islamic Economy (GIE) report estimated that Islamic finance could be worth up to $3.8 billion in 2023.



Arab World


Islamic preacher found dead in Iraqi Kurdistan capital: police

November 22, 2019

Islamic preacher Yousif Ahmed Sheikh Bzeni found dead in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan on November 2019. Photo: SM

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— A Kurdish Islamic preacher was found dead in iraqi Kurdistan region’s capital, Erbil, on Thursday, police said.

Erbil Police Spokesman Hogir Aziz told NRT that the body of preacher Yousif Ahmed Sheikh Bzeni was found in an uncompleted building at the Zanyari apartments in Erbil city.

Police have launched investigations into the incident, he said. “The cause of his death is still unclear,” he added.

The preacher, who was also a university teacher in Kirkuk, visited Erbil on Wednesday for government works.

The preacher’s brother said the forensic department in Erbil had informed them that the preacher had fallen from the building.

“We don’t know if he was killed or fallen,” his mother told NRT reporter in Kirkuk.

The preacher was a resident of Kirkuk city. He was a preacher and Mullah at the Haji Asi mosque in the city of Kirkuk.

This is not the first time an Islamic preacher was attacked by an armed group in Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

In November 22, 2016 Gunmen shot and killed Islamic preacher Dr. Hoshiar Ismail at his home in Erbil. Ismail, linked to the moderate Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), was a preacher at a mosque in Erbil, he also had a TV program on the KIU’s satellite channel Sped TV.

Islamic preacher Nadir Kurdayee, a preacher at the Mullah Qader Mosque in Erbil, was attacked by a group which he stated were security forces in March as he left the mosque following prayers.

In 2017 an Islamic preacher Hazim Sideeq was shot dead in Qaladze as he was leaving the Friday prayer service in the city, north of Sulaimani in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In June 2017 an explosion hits Sulaimani’s Bahasht mosque in Iraqi Kurdistan where Dr. Abdul Latif, a controversial Islamic Salafi preacher was preaching, at least five people have been injured.



Egypt's army exterminated Islamic State remnants in North Sinai: MPs

Thursday 21 Nov 2019

A 30-member parliamentary delegation visited Egypt's governorate of North Sinai on Wednesday and Thursday to review the security situation there.

The delegation, including members of parliament's Defence and National Security Committee and its head Kamal Amer, met with leading officers of the Egyptian Third Field army in Sinai and we're updated on security conditions in North Sinai and the fight against the Islamic State (IS)-affiliated terrorist group, known as Ansar Beit El-Maqdis (ABM).

Amer, a former chief of military intelligence, told reporters Thursday that plans for this parliamentary visit were prepared a long time ago.

"We wanted to make a field visit in the governorate and take note of the progress of army operations against ABM," said Amer, adding that "it was important for parliament's defence and national security committee to assess the security situation in North Sinai, particularly after the launch of the counter-terrorism Comprehensive Operation Sinai in early 2018."

He stated the visit was not limited to listening to reports from army generals about the security situation in North Sinai and the borders with the Gaza Strip.

"MPs were also keen to visit almost all check points leading to North Sinai and inside the governorate itself, and tour Arish, the capital of North Sinai which had been a main target of terrorist attacks since 2011, killing hundreds of army and police personnel and destoyig natural gas pipelines there," said Amer.

"The committee visited Ahmed Hamdi tunnel leading to North Sinai, most of the check points in North Sinai, parts of middle Sinai, and the Oyoun Moussa tourist destination."

According to Amer, Egypt's Third Field army did a great job uprooting the terrorist group of ABM. "The remnants of this group are currently cornered in less than one per cent of North Sinai's total space. They are taking refuge in mountain hideouts and trying from time to time to launch attacks, but thanks to the great men of the Third field army and their fighting efficiency, this terrorist group lost most of its power and fighting initiatives," said Amer.

He said the visit also reviewed the role of the army in developing Sinai in terms of implementing a number of mega-development projects. "We wanted to make sure that citizens of North Sinai have access to services and supply commodities," said Amer.

Mostafa Kamaleddin Hussein, a member of the committee, told the media that the delegation met with Chief of Staff Major General Khaled Hussein, leader of the Egyptian Third Field army. "We listened to the explanation about the progress of Comprehensive Operation Sinai," said Hussein, adding that "the meeting included most of the senior officers of the Third Field army who were keen to answer the delegation's questions and give many details on the security situation in North Sinai."

Hussein noted that "the defeat of IS in Syria and Iraq and the success of the Libyan army in fighting IS militants in Libya helped in stripping their affiliate in North Sinai of any provisions.

"The arrest of a number of Egyptian IS leaders in Libya, such as Hesham Ashmawi (in May 2019), has also degraded its affiliate ABM in Sinai," said Hussein.

Many believe that Ashmawi in Libya gave much assistance to the ISaffiliate in North Sinai, and that both were mainly involved in the attacks on churches and Christians in Egypt in 2017, for example.

According to Hussein, the parliamentary delegation also got information on the situation of Egypt's borders with Gaza, security in main North Sinai cities, particularly Arish, and how the army and police forces safeguard most vital locations, including schools, hospitals, police stations, and public places.

Ashraf Kamal, deputy head of parliament's defence and national security committee, said the security situation in North Sinai has dramatically improved since February 2018. "The strategy of Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 was based on launching preventive measures against terrorists there, cornering them, and stripping them of any foreign assistance coming by land or sea," said Kamal, adding that "and the result was that they lost a lot in terms of personnel, land and support."

Kamal said the delegation's visit included a meeting with North Sinai's tribes and the ongoing cooperation between them and the army in obliterating terrorists from North Sinai. "At the end of the visit we warmly thanked army personnel who protect Egypt's national security and help in achieving development plans," said Kamal.



Minister of Culture: Riyadh to Host First Biennale of Islamic Art in Cooperation with ISESCO


Riyadh, Nov 21, 2019, SPA -- Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Culture and Chairman of the National Commission for Education, Science and Culture, has congratulated the Islamic countries on UNESCO's adoption of a resolution to proclaim 18th November as International Day of Islamic Art.

Prince Badr announced that Riyadh will host the first Biennale of Islamic Art at the Islamic Museum.

The Biennale will be held by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).




Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

22 November 2019

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout

Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and

its people.

Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state.

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family.

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century.

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud.

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.



Saudi government agency announces new petrochemical investment deals worth over $2bn

22 November 2019

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) on Thursday announced a raft of new petrochemical investments worth more than $2 billion (SR7.5 billion).

At least 80 representatives of more than 13 government and private-sector entities from the Kingdom and throughout the world met at the Invest Saudi gathering in Riyadh to sign the agreements.

Among memorandums of understanding (MoUs) inked at the meeting, organized by SAGIA, was an accord between the authority and German chemical company, BASF, aimed at evaluating and assessing opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

SAGIA and global leader in the manufacturing of polyacrylamides, SNF, agreed to look into the establishment of a polyacrylamide plant with a capacity of 50,000 tons per annum, in the Eastern Province city of Jubail, offering the prospect of creating 80 new jobs.

An MoU was also penned between the Saudi government agency and Japanese firm Mitsui & Co., aimed at setting up an ammonia commercial production project in Jubail with an estimated capacity of 1 million tons per annum, using a highly efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing process.

In addition, SAGIA and Mitsui & Co. agreed to work together to develop a specialty chemicals downstream opportunity.

A fourth MoU was signed between SAGIA and global energy and petrochemicals group, Shell, to evaluate the building of a state-of-the-art residue upgrading catalyst manufacturing facility in Jubail Industrial City, subject to regulatory approvals.

AMG and Shell struck an agreement to assess the feasibility of building a facility to reclaim valuable metals by recycling spent residue upgrading catalysts generated by refineries in Saudi Arabia and the surrounding region. The proposed facility would help maximize the benefits from the Kingdom’s natural resources while addressing the need to provide environmentally responsible management of spent residue upgrading catalysts.

Speaking at the meeting, SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar, said: “Our country is undergoing a significant economic transformation. The petrochemicals sector provides exciting opportunities for international investors as we look to draw on the expertise and experience of the private sector in transforming the industry.

“This meeting and the MoUs that have been exchanged, reflect our increasing focus on promoting opportunities and facilitating international partnerships to drive the growth of this strategic sector.

“We are very pleased to welcome these industry giants to Saudi Arabia as we build the future of the petrochemicals sector in the Kingdom,” he added.

Pascal Remy, CEO of SNF, said: “As part of its global strategy, SNF is investigating the prospects of implantation in the Jubail industrial complex. On a medium-term, this strategic location will host the production of some critical raw material in the synthesis of polyacrylamide, such as acrylonitrile, according to the recent announcement of Ineos (multinational chemicals company), and will also bring SNF closer to the growing market of shale gas in Saudi Arabia.”

Tatsuo Yasunaga, president and CEO of Mitsui & Co., said: “Mitsui aims to realize an ammonia production project in Jubail, using a highly efficient and environment-friendly manufacturing technology and concept, which may include carbon capture and storage.”

President of Shell Catalysts and Technologies, Andy Gosse, said: “This agreement with SAGIA and AMG reflects Shell’s interest in growing its presence in Saudi Arabia and serving its clients locally and regionally through a world-class end-to-end business solution utilizing our extensive expertise in catalyst technologies.”

He noted that new global fuel regulations, combined with the growing trend of crude oil to chemicals production, are leading refiners to develop sustainable waste-management plans for their spent catalyst.

“We look to have meaningful opportunities to build strong relationships with local and international participants,” added Gosse.

Heinz Schimmelbusch, chairman and CEO of AMG, said: “AMG is excited to provide cutting-edge recycling technologies for treating refinery waste in the Kingdom. The recycling process allows the extraction of metals such as vanadium from spent catalysts providing ferrovanadium alloys for the domestic production of high-strength steel.”

The latest agreements build on the positive momentum that Saudi Arabia has seen this year in terms of inward investment.

According to Invest Saudi’s Fall 2019 Investment Highlights report, more than 250 overseas businesses had been granted investor licenses by the third quarter of this year, marking a 30 percent increase on the same period for 2018, said SAGIA.

A total of 809 new foreign companies had established operations in the Kingdom, 67 percent of which were for fully foreign ownership investments. This represented the highest number of foreign investor licenses issued by SAGIA since 2010.

Alongside a broad series of economic reforms, the investments are enabling rapid growth in foreign investment in Saudi Arabia.

According to the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia had moved up three positions to 36th as a result of efforts to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

Earlier this month, the country climbed 30 places to 62nd in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, becoming the most improved economy globally.





UK’s Labour Party pledges Jallianwala Bagh apology in election manifesto

November 21, 2019

Britain’s Opposition Labour Party on Thursday launched its manifesto for the December 12 General Election with a pledge to institute an audit into the country’s colonial past, which would include an apology to India for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar 100 years ago.

Former British Prime Minister Theresa May had stopped short of a formal apology earlier this year when she expressed “deep regret” for the colonial era attack on Vaisakhi to coincide with its 100th anniversary this year.

In the 107-page manifesto titled ‘It’s Time for Real Change’ launched by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the party has pledged to go further on the issue and apologise. The document also commits Labour to constitute a judge-led inquiry into Britain’s “injustices of the past”, including a public review of the country’s role in Operation Blue Star – referred to as the “Amritsar massacre”.

“We will issue a formal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and hold a public review into Britain’s role in the Amritsar massacre,” notes the manifesto under the sub-head “Effective Diplomacy”.

In 2014, declassified UK government documents had revealed that British military advice was given to Indian forces prior to Indian Army intervention at the Golden Temple. There have been calls for a public inquiry into the exact nature of that advice from some British Sikh groups over the years.

Further down the same section, the Labour Party goes on to elaborate its plans to prioritise conflict prevention and build peace and makes a specific reference to the Kashmir conflict in the sub-continent.

“The Conservatives have failed to play a constructive role in resolving the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises, including in Kashmir, Yemen and Myanmar, and the escalation of tensions with Iran,” the manifesto notes.

Labour has come under pressure from Indian diaspora groups for an emergency motion passed at its party conference in September, which implied a call for international intervention in the region. The manifesto seems to have kept the wording on the subject limited to a mention among other humanitarian crises such as in Iran, Yemen and Myanmar.

As part of wider plans for a “New Internationalism”, the party says that within its first year of being elected to the UK Parliament, it would “conduct an audit of the impact of Britain’s colonial legacy to understand our contribution to the dynamics of violence and insecurity across regions previously under British colonial rule”.

The manifesto launch has been hailed by Corbyn as his party’s radical offering for the electorate in next month’s election, which would transform the UK and renationalise rail, mail, water and energy. Speaking at its launch event at Birmingham City University, the Labour leader claimed the policies were fully costed and popular as a “manifesto of hope” and promised a “legally binding” referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU).

“Over the next three weeks, the most powerful people in Britain and their supporters are going to tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible. That it’s too much for you. Because they don’t want real change. Why would they? The system is working just fine for them. It’s rigged in their favour,” said Corbyn, who hopes to win a majority in the polls to end the run of the Conservative Party in Parliament since the 2010 General Election.

“A Corbyn-led government would mean higher taxes, the chaos of two more referendums, and frightening levels of debt,” a Conservative Party statement said in response to the manifesto.



British Sikhs award Imran Khan to mark Guru Nanak anniversary

November 21, 2019

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been conferred with a Lifetime Achievement Award at an awards ceremony in the UK to coincide with the 550th birth anniversary celebrations for Guru Nanak.

The awards, hosted at the Mayor of London’s headquarters by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs and London Assembly Member Onkar Sahota alongside British Sikh groups, honoured achievements across different fields.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration and Mobility Debbie Weekes-Bernard and APPG for British Sikhs Chair, Labour Party politician Preet Kaur Gill, were among some of the speakers at the event, co-hosted by the Sikh Network and Sikh Federation UK – British Sikh groups known for pro-Khalistani affiliations.

“I invite Sikhs from all around the world to come to Pakistan,” said Sahibzada Jahangir, Imran Khan’s spokesperson for trade and investment in UK and Europe, as he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Pakistani Prime Minister.

He spoke about Pakistan’s “pride” at the completion of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which reinforced the idea of Sikhs as a bridge between cultures and countries.

India and Pakistan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 to provide for Indian pilgrims to visit one of Sikhism’s holiest shrines in Pakistani town of Narowal without a visa.

The corridor links Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur in India to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak.

The ‘550th Gurpurb Guru Nanak Ji’ at City Hall in London on Tuesday also included honours for British Sikh powerlifter Kirenjit Kaur Bains, for her contribution to sports as the first Sikh woman to compete for Britain in the World Classic Powerlifting Championships earlier this year; Paul Bassi for his contribution to business; and Khalsa Aid for Contribution to charity and selfless seva.

“We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate inspirational aspects of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life and recognise individuals from the British Sikh community who have demonstrated the teachings of Guru Nanak, in this very special 550th anniversary year,” noted the organisers of the event.

The event included kirtans and sought donations for the Kartarpur Sahib Yatra Committee, which is undertaking a building project to provide UK pilgrims with accommodation facilities at Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara.



Indian couple goes on trial for spying on Sikhs, Kashmiris

November 22, 2019

BERLIN: An Indian couple accused of spying on Sikh and Kashmiri communities in Germany went on trial on Thursday on charges that carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The suspects were charged in March and have been named only as Manmohan S., 50, and his wife Kanwal Jit K., 51, in keeping with German privacy rules for defendants. Their trial was being held in a court in Frankfurt.

“Manmohan S. agreed [...] to provide information about Germany’s Sikh community and Kashmir movement and their relatives to an employee of the Indian foreign intelligence service Research & Analysis Wing [RAW],” prosecutors said in a statement earlier this year.

His wife joined him in monthly meetings with the Indian intelligence officer between July and December 2017, and in total the couple were paid 7,200 euros ($8,100).

Sikhs in Germany number between 10,000 and 20,000 — their third biggest community in Europe after Britain and Italy, according to the religious rights group REMID.



Conservative Party slammed for ‘quietly reinstating’ councillor who made anti-Muslim comments

Basit Mahmood

Thursday 21 Nov 2019

The Conservative Party has been criticised for ‘quietly reinstating’ a councillor who made a series of Islamophobic posts, including the claim that British Muslims are ‘breeding for Islam’. Councillor David Abbott was suspended in April for his anti-Muslim statements in Facebook groups, in which he referred to British Muslims as ‘Mohammedans’. In another Facebook post written by Mr Abbott, he wrote: ‘Moslems are commanded to do everything in their power, including killing, to rid the world of every person who does not follow Islam.’ The comments at the time were uncovered by ‘MatesJacob’, a Twitter account dedicated to calling out Islamophobia and racism in the Conservative Party. In a Jacob Rees-Mogg Supporters Group page, which is not officially affiliated with Mr Rees-Mogg, Mr Abbott posted: ‘The philosophy seems to be “breed for Islam”, thus the percentage of the population who follow the “religion of peace” will significantly increase’. The Conservative Party had suspended Mr Abbott, who was an independent councillor initially, but announced he was a Conservative candidate for the May local elections. Since the suspension in April, Mr Abbott appears to have been reinstated as a Conservative Councillor.

On the Houghton Regis Town Council website, he is listed as a ‘Conservative’. A spokesperson for The Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘David Abbott’s comments were offensive and divisive under any circumstance. ‘We have seen little evidence of contrition. By readmitting him into the fold, the Conservatives are effectively condoning his views. ‘The secrecy behind this move is a testament to how wrong the Tories are on this matter’. They spokesperson added: ‘The Conservative’s longstanding affiliation with Islamophobia is severely problematic for British Muslims, particularly at election time. ‘The Conservative Party must not reinstate David Abbott’s membership, and must launch a standalone, independent inquiry into Islamophobia which it is so deeply plagued with.’

It comes after it was revealed that the Conservative Party was accused of allowing another candidate to stand in the upcoming general election, despite knowing she was embroiled in an Islamophobia scandal. Anjana Patel, who is the Conservative Party’s parliamentary candidate in Brent North, had previously sent an unprompted tweet to Malala Yousafzai demanding to know ‘how are you going to help?’ after two Hindu girls were allegedly kidnapped, ‘molested and forcibly converted’ to ‘your religion, Islam’, Buzzfeed news reported. Patel appeared to suggest that the Nobel Prize winner was somehow responsible for the actions of other Muslims. The Conservative Party and Mr Abbott have been approached for comment.



UK To Repatriate Orphans Left In Syria, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab Confirms


By Graeme Demianyk

British orphans left in Syria are being returned to the UK, the foreign secretary has confirmed.

The announcement by Dominic Raab follows several MPs and charities calling for children to be repatriated after the BBC discovered three siblings whose parents were suspected members of Islamic State, and believed to be from London, stranded in a camp in northern Syria.

Raab last month told MPs that as long as there was “no security threat”, children rescued from the fighting in northern Syria could be allowed to return home.

On Thursday evening, he confirmed that the first children were now in the process of being returned to the UK.

Raab did not say how many children were returning. The charity Save The Children said in October that more than 60 British children were trapped in north-eastern Syria.

Last month the Guardian reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel blocked an operation to repatriate orphans trapped in formerly IS-held territory.

In a statement, Raab said: “These innocent, orphaned children should never have been subjected to the horrors of war.

“We have facilitated their return home because it was the right thing to do.

“Now they must be allowed the privacy and given the support to return to a normal life.”

In a previous Commons debate in October, former Brexit Secretary David Davis said vulnerable British children risked “turning into terrorists” if they were not brought home from Syria.

Davis told MPs that three of the estimated 60 British children thought to be in the region were orphans, adding that those who had not been orphaned “still deserve the United Kingdom’s protection”.

In a tweet, Dr Abdulkarim Omar, the de facto foreign minister of the self-styled Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, said: “Today, 21 November 2019, three British orphans from ISIS parents were handed over to a delegation representing the British Foreign Ministry, headed by Mr. Martin Longden, according to an official repatriation document signed by the Selfe Administration and the British Government.”



Islamic group defends bid to convert pub into community centre

By Tom Dalby

AN Islamic group founded due to the growing Muslim population in Colchester has defended its bid to convert a pub into a community centre.

Colchester Islamic Community Centre was established in 2017 and began looking for a property to offer a community space for Muslims.

The charity set its sights on the Beehive, in Bromley Road, Colchester, after spotting the pub had been placed on the market in March.

Sohail Choksy, chairman of the centre, said: “We have been looking for two years.

“We put in bids for four or five properties which never reached fruition before we saw this property on Right Move around March.

“We got excited about it, visited the property and straight away thought it was a good fit.

“There is a mosque in town and this would be a modest prayer facility, a place women can come as well as men.

“There are no real places in Colchester where the Muslim community can go.

“We carried out a pre-application process with the council and heard positive things as this is for a community use.”

The centre hopes to change the use of the pub, which closed in August, to provide a space for coffee mornings, classes, clubs and prayers.

Starting out with £150,000 of funding, the charity managed to raise the remaining £325,000 to meet the asking price.

However, residents founded the Save our Beehive group, hoping to retain the building as a pub and have it run by the community

Mr Choksy, who works as a surgeon at Oaks Hospital, added: “We completely understand the feelings about losing the pub but also disappointed as we put the money in and bought it when it was on the open market. There was nothing secretive about it.

“The sellers preferred we didn’t advertise we were buying it as they were worried about the response and we, of course, granted their request.

“The immediate neighbours had no issues as they were glad it was going to be a community use.

"The alternative was it would lie empty or a developer could have bought it and built houses on the field at the back.

“There will be busy periods but a busy pub would be far noisier than what we are proposing.

“I am not criticising people who are passionate about it, but that process could have been followed before the pub was sold.”

Mr Choksy hopes the community centre will also enable the charity to build bridges between Colchester’s 4,000-strong Muslim community and non-Muslims.

Colchester Council will have the final say on the plans.



Brexit Party stands by candidate who shared warnings of Muslim 'takeover'

21 November 2019

The Brexit Party is standing by a candidate whose social media feed has reportedly warned about a Muslim 'takeover' of Britain and complained of anti-white "racism".

Dionne Cocozza, the party's candidate in Glasgow North, has now deleted her account, but anti-far right watchdog Hope Not Hate say they had sight of it prior to its disappearance.

"Much of Cocozza's Twitter is dedicated to painting a negative picture of Muslims and immigration into the UK and Europe," said the watchdog.

A Brexit Party spokesperson said the main problem was she "expresses herself inelegantly" and that it will continue to back her.

Cocozza has regularly shared materials from far-right sites such as Voice of Europe, YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson, and the now-defunct, said Hope Not Hate.

In one screenshot purportedly from Cocozza's account, she retweeted a Twitter user who said: "Sorry but I heard a Muslim say, we get elected then slowly we takeover. Happened in Belgium, Sweden and Germany."

The watchdog also says Cocozza shared a Voice of Europe tweet in October 2018 stating: "Germany will become African and Islamic if mass migration isn't stopped."

Another theme prevalent on Cocozza's account, says Hope Not Hate, is white oppression or the belief that white people are victims of racism.

She called Labour's David Lammy "anti-white" after he posted a tweet criticising Desmond Swayne after pictures emerged of the Conservative MP in blackface.

Lammy was "enticing hate on the whites of today that were not born when this happened. You keep the racism fuelled with [sic] your gobby big mouth & anti-white tweets", she reportedly posted.

In another row, she reportedly said: "You can't say anything if your white 2019".

The Brexit Party spokesperson said: "We do not endorse any views that appear to be anti Islamic or anti any religion.

"However Ms Cocozza informs me that she was trying to highlight injustices in the world, she is not racist, her daughter's partner is Muslim and she employes Polish workers.

"I fear her crime is that she expresses herself inelegantly and accordingly has said she will take down her Twitter account."

The spokesperson added that he had informed Cocozza of "the error of her ways".



General Election 2019: Brent North Conservative candidate Anjana Patel under fire for sending anti-Muslim tweet

21 November 2019

Anjana Patel sent a tweet to Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai demanding "how are you going to help?" when Hindu girls were abducted by extremists and allegedly "molested and forcibly converted" to Islam.

Her tweet on March 26 appeared to suggest that Yousafzai, the 22-year-old Pakistani activist was somehow responsible for the actions of other Muslims.

The tweet, since deleted, added: "The world should know about this barbaric act by Islamists. Don't block me,"

The Conservative Party is reported to have known one of its candidates at the upcoming election had been embroiled in its ongoing Islamophobia scandal, but decided to let her stand anyway after she deleted her Twitter account.

On November 14, the Conservative Party confirmed Anjana Patel as the candidate to take on the Labour Party incumbent Barry Gardiner.

A new Twitter account, @Anjana4Brent, was set up and a photo of Mrs Patel with prime minister Boris Johnson was chosen as the profile picture.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning Chancellor Sajid Javid said all Tory candidates must uphold the party's values.

Mr Javid said: "We've always got to make sure that everyone that is standing as a Conservative upholds our values where we respect everyone regardless of their race or religion, whether they have a faith or none, we respect them all."

On whether Ms Patel should remain a candidate, Mr Javid said: "I'm sorry but I don't know the details, but I think that is why we have the chairman's office and others to look into these, and I would expect every candidate that we have to uphold these values, and if they don't, we would take action."

A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "The Conservative Party, with its long-held issues of failing to address and tackle Islamophobia within its ranks, now appears to have resorted to outright hiding the racist views of one of its prospective parliamentary candidate.

"Anjana Patel's tweets to Malala Yousufzai were hideously Islamophobic, offensive and not acceptable under any circumstances. The fact that the Conservative Party still endorsed her, despite apparently being fully aware of her racism, is disappointing but not surprising. From a party riddled with Islamophobia, such fundamental institutional failures have now become commonplace.

"Many British Muslims looking to cast their vote on 12th December, will have to carefully consider whether this condoning of racism and dismissal of hate targeting Muslims, is a factor that will affect their choice."

Both Anjana Patel and the Conservative Party have been contacted



Australia And New Zealand


Prince Charles and Camilla to meet today with Christchurch students affected by mosques attack

After a day off yesterday for Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla on their tour of New Zealand, Cantabrians will have their chance to meet the royal couple today.

The royals are in Christchurch for their second public walkabout of the tour.

If anyone would like to catch a glimpse of the royal couple, they will be in Cathedral Square at 1.30 this afternoon.

The pair will also be visiting Cashmere High School, where they'll meet privately with students affected by the mosque attacks in March.

Their Christchurch stop is one of many of the tour. Both Prince Charles and Camilla visited Waitangi on Tuesday.

It marked 25 years since a royal, Prince Charles himself, had visited Waitangi.





Lagos passionate about child protection rights, SSG tells Muslims

Secretary to Lagos State Government, Alhaja Sherifat Folashade Jaji has any act of child abuse will not be condoned as the state has zero-tolerance of child abuse.

Jaji stated this during a walk organised by The Young Muslims Association (TYM) to mark the 2019 World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse recently.

Represented by Alhaja Maryam Oyesiji, Alhaja Jaji said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is passionate about child protection rights, which was enacted in 2003.

“As part of our efforts towards protecting the rights of the children, the Lagos State Government has created several offices. In the ministry of Justice, for instance, we have the department of child abuse.

“Also in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, we have another section for treating the issue of child abuse. In fact, a lot of offices abound in order to checkmate the issue of child abuse and trafficking.

Alhaja Jaji said to stop the rising cases of child abuse, there is a need for a lot of  propagation, adding “The Lagos State Government has done a lot in this area. We have a lot of jingles on the radio, on television addressing child trafficking and other vices related to and affecting children.

She warned against child molestation, trafficking, loitering, street trading, and hawking, saying that offenders will be prosecuted.

“We need to pay attention to our children. Often times, we leave them loitering about and at the mercy of neighbours, uncles, and aunties who in most cases don’t have time for them. In fact, a lot of these abuses are perpetrated by these so-called uncles and aunties.

“It is not only the female children that are prone to abuse. Even the male children are susceptible. The so-called uncle would come and tell the girl-child, ‘I am your husband ‘. The same goes for the auntie who would tell the boy, ‘I am your wife’. Parents need to educate their children about it.  They are your uncles and aunties and your parents are your parents. A lot of things have to be done.

TYMa National Coordinator, Mr Musiliu Owolewa, said the event was to commemorate the United Nations Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse slated for  every November 19, “but because the day was a weekday (Tuesday), we decided to create awareness and advocate for enlightenment on the importance of the Day with a ‘’Walk and Press conference.’’

The right of every child, Owolewa said, was paramount in every society.

“They are the future of nations; the hope for the coming generation. When these fragile creatures are mismanaged or abused, then the future is blinking.”

“Every child is important, that is why they must be nurtured with care and love. They must be celebrated and loved by all,” he said.

He said it is disheartening that in today’s world, there are rising cases of child maltreatment, many of which call for urgent attention.

According to him, “Records have shown that 95 per cent of prostitutes were sexually abused as children. 78 per cent of the prison population were abused as children, 50 per cent of suicidal attempts reported have been sexually abused at some time. Six out of every 10 children experience some form of violence and only a fraction receive help or justice.”

He also quoted UNICEF figures of 2019 which revealed that 1 of 4 girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.

Some of the effects of child abuse on victims, Owolewa said, could be physical injury, emotional imbalance, behavioural maladjustment, poor academic performance, low self- esteem, depression, prone to further abuse, suicide attempt and sometimes, death of the victim.

Former National Coordinator of the association, Alhaji Abdul Azeez Ajala called on the government to regulate and sanitise the activities of correctional centres in the country, saying that some of them molest and violate the Child Rights Act.

“We’ve read in the news how innocent Nigerians – both adults and children are being molested at correctional homes. These places are supposed to be rehabilitation centres where people find a solution to their problems. But today, evidence has emerged that many of these centres abuse their inmates.

“These correctional centres need to be regulated. We must see that there is a distinction between what we call the Madaaris (Arabic schools) and the so-called correctional centres. It is high time the government takes the lead by regulating and sanitizing these centres.”

Ajala said it is one of the responsibilities of government to protect all citizens including children from being molested and victimised.



Mapoly Muslim Alumni Hold Convention In Ibadan

By Saheed Salawu And Wale Akinselure

Nov 22, 2019

IBADAN, the Oyo State capital, will this weekend play host to the largest gathering of Muslim graduates of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (Mapoly) Abeokuta as the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta Muslim Alumni (MAPAMA) holds its national convention.

The two-day event is scheduled for tomorrow and Sunday at the Bodija Estate Islamic Centre, Bodija. The theme of the convention is ‘Economic Security as a Solution to National Insecurity’.

The event, which is expected to attract dignitaries from all walks of life, has the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite as chairman and the immediate past governor of Ogun State and the current senator for Ogun Central district, Ibikunle Amosun, a member of MAPAMA, as the special guest of honour.

The chairman of the Board of Trustees of MAPAMA, Alhaji Waheed Kadiri, will be the chief host at the event expected to by graced by the rector of Mapoly, Dr Samson Odedina; president, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta Alumni Association (MAPALUM), Alhaji H. O. Ayoade and the chairman of Mapoly Muslim Community, Alhaji Olalekan Oseni.

Brigadier-General Muhammed Ibn Umar Adeka (retd) and Dr Abideen Olaiya of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) will X-ray the theme as the association seeks to arrive at a fine blend of solutions for personal and national security.

Other dignitaries, distinguished members and stakeholders, including Head, Media and Public Relations, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun; rector, The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Professor Kazeem Adebiyi and the chairman of the Muslim Community of Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, are also expected at the event.



Kogi Guber: Miyetti Allah congratulates Bello on election victory

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MCBAN) has congratulated Gov. Yahaya Bello for emerging victorious in the Nov. 16 governorship election in Kogi State.

The state Secretary of the organisation, Mr Mohammed Suleiman, who gave the commendation in a statement issued in Lokoja on Thursday, described the victory as well-deserved.

He called on the governor to use his second term to provide meaningful development for the state, urging him to embark on programmes and projects that would impact positively on the lives of the people.

Suleiman also lauded the Fulani in the state for trooping out in a large number on the election day and for heeding the directive to vote for Bello, saying that their action contributed immensely to the governor’s victory at the polls.

He also called on all Fulani to remain peaceful and resist any attempt to be used by aggrieved politicians to disrupt the peace of the state.

Suleiman urged the governor to carry along all the sections in the state in the distribution of amenities and political appointments in the interest of equity and justice.

He appealed to the people of the state to continue to cooperate and support Bello in his efforts at taking the state to the next level.

According to him, whoever is not satisfied with the outcome of the election should seek legal redress instead of resorting to violence.




New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism