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Islamic World News ( 24 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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PM Modi Wishes People On Beginning Of Ramadan: "May This Holy Month Bring Greater Unity And Harmony In Our Society"

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 March 2023 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File | Photo Credit: ANI


• 'Ram is Everyone’s God, Allah Sent Him': Farooq Abdullah Quotes Pak Writer, Slams 'Polarisation' Bid

• Google, YouTube To Help Muslims At Ramadan

• US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Introduces Resolution Condemning Islamophobia

• Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Attends Nowruz Celebration At Iran Embassy In Tajikistan



• BJP To Distribute PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ In Urdu Among UP Madrasas

• CMs Of Telugu States Greet Muslims On Beginning Of Ramzan

• Will decide on ‘love jihad’ law soon: Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis

• ISI ‘planted’ Amritpal Singh to fan separatist sentiments, push drugs into Punjab

• Pak infiltrators orchestrated Dhangri attacks: J&K DGP Dilbag Singh

• Shorter routes: Israel’s EL AL to resume India flights by overflying Saudi & Oman from October



• Muslim Players In English Premier League Granted Break For Fasting During Ramzan

• Mosque fire assault suspect charged with attempted murder in UK

• UK begins inquiry into British troops' alleged extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

• Iran urges France to heed protesters’ demands rather than stoke unrest in other countries


North America

• US: Biden Expresses Solidarity With Uyghur, Rohingya Muslims In Ramadan Message

• US Stand With Women In Afghanistan, Iran: President Biden

• US Texas Representative Votes Against Recognition Of Ramadan

• US looking to strengthen Iran sanctions after less than expected impact: Yellen

• American forces suffered 78 Iranian attacks since 2021: US general

• US helping 44 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan: Blinken


Arab World

• Commercial establishments can obtain discount permits online for Ramadan sale

• Iran and Oman begin Ramadan fasting with Saudi Arabia for first time in many years

• Ramadan Is A Special Time To Pray For Turkey And Syria Quake Victims, Says Bishop

• Eight pro-Iran fighters killed by US strikes in Syria: Monitor

• Saudi Arabia in talks with Syria to resume consular services: State TV

• Syria’s Aleppo airport to reopen on Friday

• Lebanon in ‘very dangerous situation’ with reforms stalled: IMF

• Saudi Arabia sets out its water strategy during landmark, high-level UN conference

• Saudi foreign minister discusses ties with Algerian, Cypriot counterparts

• Kuwait’s Al-Najat Charity distributes iftar meals to Syrian refugees in Lebanon



• Israel Police To Secure Thousands Of Muslim Worshippers On First Friday Of Ramadan

• Far-Right Israeli Minister, Orit Strook, Threatens To 'Re-Occupy' And 'Re-Colonize' Gaza

• Iran's Lead Negotiator Holds Talks with E3 Parties in Norway, Calls for Diplomacy

• Spokesman: US Not Qualified to Lecture Iran on Human Rights

• Iran Lashes Out at West for Keeping Mum on French Police Crackdown on Protesters

• Iranian FM Praises IRGC's Vital Role in War on Terrorism

• Iranian President, FM Felicitate Muslim Nations on Ramadan

• Turkish parliamentary commission approves Finland’s NATO bid: TRT Haber


South Asia

• Islamic State-Khorasan Has Stronger Presence in Afghanistan: Senior US General

• Afghan Taliban FM seeks global cooperation, offers nothing in return

• Earthquake in Afghanistan destroyed around 665 houses in several provinces: UN

• Fists fly in Taliban meet, education board chairman breaks arm

• ACCI Charity Fund That Helped Poor During Ramadan Has Closed



• Jordan Urges International Community To Take A Stand Against Hate Speech Fuelling Violence In Occupied Palestine

• At Ramadan, Atiku, Bello urge hope, sacrifice, supplication

• Ramadan: Muslim Faithful In Abuja Express Excitement, Seek National Rebirth

• Ramadan: Gov Buni tells Muslims to seek Allah’s forgiveness

• Bathily: All Libyan parties should be inspired by the values of tolerance from the blessed month of Ramadan.

• Jordanian, Bosnian ministries exchange tourism development ideas



• Pakistan’s New Turmoil Around Imran Exposes Old Fault Lines

• UN: Pakistan Mission flooded with calls for protection of Christians

• Pakistan’s new fuel subsidy scheme needs to be agreed before deal: IMF

• Islamabad court reserves its verdict on Imran’s plea to extend arrest warrant suspension in judge threat case

• Task force proposed to ‘check’ anti-army campaign

• Imran says ‘enough is enough’ as PTI activist AzharMashwani nabbed

• Khawaja Asif speaks to foreign media in Islamabad


Southeast Asia

• Muslim Lawyers Urge Govt To Fill Three-Month Long Vacancies For Top Two Posts In Malaysia’s Shariah Courts

• MAINPP Prohibits Preachers Without Credentials To Teach In Mosques, Surau

• Muslim World League chief, Malaysian PM meet in Makkah

• Islamic Development Bank Group president meets Malaysian PM in Jeddah

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



PM Modi Wishes People On Beginning Of Ramadan: "May This Holy Month Bring Greater Unity And Harmony In Our Society"

March 24, 2023

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File | Photo Credit: ANI


Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished people on the beginning of the auspicious Islamic month of Ramadan on March 24. "May this holy month bring greater unity and harmony in our society. May it also reaffirm the importance of serving the poor," he tweeted.

Muslims across the world observe the month with fasting and praying. The month ends with the festival of Eid.


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'Ram is Everyone’s God, Allah Sent Him': Farooq Abdullah Quotes Pak Writer, Slams 'Polarisation' Bid

MARCH 24, 2023

Farooq Abdullah made the statement while addressing a gathering on the Foundation day of Panther’s Party (Photo: Twitter/@JKNC_)


Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and NC chief Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday hit out at the BJP and said the party invokes Lord Ram’s name only to stay in power. He also said that Lord Ram is everyone’s god and that he was sent by Allah to show people the right path.

“Lord Ram is not just a Hindu god. Everyone should get this notion out of their minds. Bhagwan Ram is the god of everyone - be it a Muslim or Christian or American or Russian, who has faith in him," he told a rally organised by the Panthers party in Udhampur.

In a video, Farooq Abdullah allegedly quoted the words of a writer from Pakistan, who passed away recently and said, “Ram was also sent by Allah to show the right path to the people.”

Slamming the BJP party and its use of Lord Ram’s name, Abdullah said, “Those who come to you saying we are the only disciples of Ram - they are fools. They want to sell in the name of Ram. They have no actual love for Ram, but do it for love for power.”

Speaking about the upcoming elections in the state, the former CM said, “I think when elections are announced in J&K they will inaugurate a Ram temple to divert the attention of the common man.”

He also warned people against religious polarisation ahead of polls in the Union Territory and said, “They will use the phrase - Hindus are in danger a lot during the elections, but I request you to not fall prey to it."

On unity among non-BJP parties, he said, “There will be no hurdles in our unity. Whether it is Congress, NC, or Panthers. We will fight and die for people. But we all will remain united."

Furthermore, he urged people to be cautious when using electronic voting machines.


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Google, YouTube to help Muslims at Ramadan

By Adeyemi Adepetun

24 March 2023

AS Muslim faithful across the globe observe the holy month of Ramadan, which started yesterday, Google and YouTube have listed ways they can be of great assistance during the period.

With the help of Google and YouTube, celebrating Ramadan has become even easier and more enjoyable. From Lagos to Nairobi, Accra to Johannesburg, Africans can access a wealth of information and resources to make the most of this special time.

Google listed six ways the platforms can be helpful during this period. First, it said Muslim faithful could celebrate Ramadan’s joy with colours and greetings.

It explained that users could simply search ‘Ramadan 2023’ in their languages on Google, and will have access to all the information related to this month, including prayer times, recipes and more.

Google said users could also find articles on Ramadan etiquette, recipes and greetings to help navigate the holiday with ease. Additionally, users can access greeting cards online to share with loved ones, among others.

Second, there is opportunity to set reminders for prayer times with Google Assistant, making it easier to stay on track during Ramadan.

There is also the Google Lens. Google said by using the camera phone, one could search for a delicious type of dessert or find next favourite decoration item to buy during Ramadan.

There is also opportunity to watch Ramadan-related videos on YouTube, with which the user can find videos on how to prepare traditional foods, tips for fasting and spiritual exercises related to Ramadan.

Google Maps could be used to find local mosques and halal restaurants.

“You can also search for halal restaurants near you to break your fast with delicious and authentic cuisine. Additionally, Google Maps can help you navigate through unfamiliar areas when you are travelling to different cities or countries during Ramadan.

“With Google Maps, you can plan your Ramadan activities and explore new places with ease. Plus, you can read reviews and ratings from other users to help you make informed decisions about where to go,” it stated.

To help prepare for the fasting period, Google has created a Ramadan Shopping Guide that collects trending products helpful during the holiday.

“When we analysed search and shopping trends, we found common themes related to home decoration, like Ramadan lanterns, which grew 20 per cent year-over-year. You can browse through the guide for inspiration and find new ideas for decorating your home, preparing for Iftar, or gifting your loved ones during the holiday,” it stated.

Source:Guardian Nigeria

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US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduces resolution condemning Islamophobia




Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced a resolution Thursday that condemns Islamophobia as Muslims marked the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The resolution also commemorates the anniversary of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand that left at least 50 worshippers dead and recent anti-Muslim attacks while condemning White supremacist ideology, conspiracy theories and violence.

"As we begin the holy month of Ramadan, we must reaffirm that all people of faith should have the right to worship without fear," said Omar, who represents Minnesota, in a statement.

Noting that church bombings, synagogue attacks and racial hate crimes are also on the rise, she said "we must come to understand that all our destinies are linked."

"That’s why I’m proud to lead my colleagues in condemning the rise in Islamophobia and affirming the rights of religious minorities in the United States and around the world," she added.

The resolution is co-sponsored by 20 Democratic representatives including Jamaal Bowman, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rashida Tlaib.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Arabia’s ambassador attends Nowruz celebration at Iran embassy in Tajikistan

23 March ,2023

During the event, Waleed Alreshiadan, the Saudi envoy to Dushanbe, met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad-Taqi Saberi. (FarsNews_Agency/Twitter)


Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Tajikistan has attended a celebration at Iran’s embassy in the Tajik capital to mark Nowruz – the Persian New Year – just weeks after the countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.

During the event, Waleed Alreshiadan, the Saudi envoy to Dushanbe, met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad-TaqiSaberi. Pictures posted on IRNA’s Telegram channel showed the two envoys shaking hands and embracing each other.

“The relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as two influential and important countries of the Islamic world in the West Asian region, can be the basis for creating a new trend and an increasing role in serving the interests of the countries and nations of the region,” IRNA quoted Saberi as saying.

The agency did not specify the date of the meeting. However, Iran’s embassy in Dushanbe said on Tuesday that it had held a celebration at the mission to mark Nowruz, attended by foreign diplomats among others.

This meeting follows an announcement earlier this month by Saudi Arabia and Iran that they had reached an agreement, brokered by China, to reestablish diplomatic relations.

Under the deal, Saudi Arabia and Iran are expected to reopen their embassies and missions within two months, as well as implement security and economic cooperation agreements that were signed over 20 years ago.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with the Islamic Republic in 2016 following an attack by supporters of the Iranian regime on its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad.

Earlier on Thursday, the Saudi foreign ministry said that Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan had a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, during which they exchanged congratulations for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Thursday in both countries.

The two ministers agreed to hold a bilateral meeting “soon” to facilitate the reopening of embassies and consulates between the two countries, the ministry said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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BJP to distribute PM’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ in Urdu among UP madrasas

23rd March 2023

Lucknow: With an eye on the 2024 general election, the BJP will distribute a compilation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio address ‘Mann ki Baat’ translated into Urdu among madrasas and Islamic scholars in Uttar Pradesh in a bid to woo Muslims.

Uttar Pradesh BJP Minority Morcha President Kunwar Basit Ali has compiled 12 episodes of the prime minister’s radio programme for the year 2022.

“Twelve episodes of Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme have been translated into Urdu and will be published as a book. Episodes from January to December 2022 have been included in this. It has been compiled by me and translated by Tabish Farid of Meerut,” Ali told PTI.

“It is expected that the book will be ready and printed during Ramzan. The target is to take this book to one lakh people,” he added.

The book is also set to include congratulatory messages from heads of Islamic educational institutions such as Darul Uloom Deoband and Nadwatul Ulema.

“The book will not be available for sale. It will be distributed as a gift in Muslim-dominated areas of Uttar Pradesh. Workers of the BJP’s state minority cell take this book as a gift to prominent madrasas, Islamic scholars, Urdu teachers and ulemas,” he said.

Ali said the purpose of the exercise is to spread the prime minister’s messages among the Muslim community.

“At many times it happens that the people of the Muslim community are unable to listen to the prime minister’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ which always has a deep message hidden for the betterment of the society,” he said.

In the radio programme, the prime minister often mentions various schemes and initiatives of the government as well as people who have made outstanding contributions in the social sector, Ali said.

“The purpose of publishing this book is that the Muslim community should also be benefitted and be inspired by the messages of the prime minister.”

Source: Siasat Daily

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CMs of Telugu states greet Muslims on beginning of Ramzan

24th March 2023

Hyderabad: Telangana and Andhra Pradesh chief ministers have greeted Muslims on the beginning of holy month of Ramzan.

On the auspicious occasion of the beginning of the fasting month with sighting of new crescent, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao extended greetings to the Muslim community in Telangana state and across the country.

KCR said that the auspicious month of Ramzan inculcates discipline, charity, charitable thinking and inspires towards an ideal life. He said that the holy month of Ramzan inculcates spirituality through the recitation of the Quran, prayers, fasting, charity programs like Zakat and Fitra.

The chief minister said in a statement that recitation of the Quran helps to understand the ultimate meaning of life. He wished that the holy month of Ramzan would bring light in the lives of the people and that all the people would prosper with happiness.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy also greeted Muslims in both the Telugu states on the beginning of Ramzan. He said that in Ramzan, during which the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad, Muslims observe fast for the entire month with discipline to seek the mercy of Almighty Allah.

He observed that discipline, philanthropy and spirituality are the key messages of Ramzan.

Reddy also noted that while observing the fast and spending the month with divine thought, Muslims spend a part of their wealth towards charity for the poor.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Will decide on ‘love jihad’ law soon: Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis

Mar 24, 2023

MUMBAI: Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday told the legislative council that prima facie it seems there is a design behind love jihad-type incidents taking place in the state.

Fadnavis said the state government has taken cognisance of the 50 Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha rallies across the state demanding a law against love jihad, and will soon take an appropriate decision on bringing a law against love jihad after studying similar laws brought in by other states. Fadnavis clarified the interfaith marriage-family coordination committee set up by the women and child welfare department doesn't supersede any existing law and its scope is only limited to connecting families of girls such as Shraddha Walkar whose parents couldn't contact her.

Fadnavis said this while replying to a calling attention motion on increasing cases of alleged love jihad in the legislative council raised by MLC Gopichand Padalkar.

The deputy CM said the new law against love jihad which was under active consideration will be within the constitutional framework. Fadnavis also announced that the director general of police will be told to sensitise the police and soon a standard operating procedure (SOP) will be issued for taking timely action in cases where parents complain their daughters have been cheated in alleged love jihad cases and can't be contacted.

"It is a fact that between 30,000 and 50,000 people have taken part in these morchas in various districts. We don't think that there should be no interfaith marriages. They can do it, but this must not be done with the intention to cheat. This is very serious. So we have taken cognisance of the sentiments of the people. We are studying love jihad-type laws that have been passed by other states and an appropriate decision on bringing such a law in Maharashtra will be taken soon. This law will be within the constitutional framework," Fadnavis said.

Source: Times Of India

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ISI ‘planted’ Amritpal Singh to fan separatist sentiments, push drugs into Punjab

Mar 24, 2023

NEW DELHI: Amritpal Singh may be projecting himself as a pro-Khalistan leader fighting for Sikh pride, but inputs gathered by intelligence agencies point to his having been “planted” by Pakistan’s ISI, in nexus with outlawed Khalistani outfits like Babbar Khalsa International and Sikhs For Justice, with the twin objectives of whipping up separatist sentiments in Punjab to open a new front alongside terror-hit Kashmir and also to facilitate trafficking of drugs and arms from Pakistan into India.

Amritpal, said an officer, is aligned with several known terrorists and drug dealers smuggling narcotics and arms into India. One of them is Jaswant Singh Rode, whose brother Lakhbir Singh Rode is allegedly involved in trafficking drugs from Pakistan into India. This has added to the suspicion that the Waris Punjab De (WPD) leader, who has projected himself as an anti-drugs crusader, may actually be involved in narco-tarde.

That there has been an increase in drones carrying drugs from across the border since Amritpal arrived in Punjab is not being seen as a coincidence. As many as 256 drone sightings were reported by BSF in Punjab — mostly in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur — in 2022, up from 67 in 2021. Incidentally, Amritpal’s native village is located near Amritsar.

Amritpal’s London-based handler Avtar Singh Khanda has links with terrorist and BKI chief Paramjeet Singh Pamma, who is accused of sending drugs to India. The WPD chief is also known to share cross-border linkages with drug dealers based in Pakistan like Billa, Bilal, Rana etc. Another terrorist behind Amritpal’s rise is Harvinder Singh Rinda whose network is said to extend from Punjab to Maharashtra.

Ravel Singh, who had given his Mercedes car to Amritpal for his use, is also under the scanner for alleged links with drug trade.

Sources in the Central security establishment said the National Security Act was invoked against Amritpal due to his alleged designs to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of Punjab through crimes like abduction and assault of another Sikh Varinder Singh; openly defying the authorities during Ajnala incident and injuring policemen; and indulging in ‘beadbi’ (sacrilege) by resorting to vandalism in gurdwaras in Kapurthala and Jalandhar. He also allegedly made provocative speeches against Jesus Christ and Hindu Gods/Goddesses and used youth for violence and promoting gun culture by naming his private militia as Anandpur Khalsa Fauj/AKF. Not only this, Amritpal and his aides sought to defy the order of Punjab government not to display weapons in the open, and beat youth lodged in “drug de-addiction centers” run by his outfit Waris Punjab De (WPD) who refused to subscribe to their radical and violent ideology.

Amritpal is suspected to have a role in murder of Hindu activist Sudhir Suri in November 2022 in Amritsar. The self-radicalised killer was allegedly an associate of Amritpal and even had an AKF sticker on his car. A source said Amritpal met the killer four days before the murder.

Some arrested WPD associates of Amritpal were sent to prisons outside the state as there was apprehension that they if lodged in jails in Punjab, they could indulge in a jailbreak, radicalise other jailed criminals and associate them with AKF, create a law and order situation by mobilising support; and run their criminal activities behind the bars.

“Had action not been taken under NSA, goons of WPD would have continued their unlawful activities. An officer claimed that Amritpal and WPD are not saviours of the Sikh panth but only a team of criminally-inclined individuals who have joined hands with the common and selfish aim of making money and attaining power in a short time. On this team are Amritpal, a truck driver who had shorn hair till a few months back and lived a modern life in Dubai; actor Daljit Kalsi involved in financial fraud and who made 18 trips to Thailand, a ‘pleasure’ destination, between 2007 and 2020; Papalpreet, a small time reporter; and Gurmeet Bukkanwala who owns a furniture shop.

Source: Times Of India

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Pak infiltrators orchestrated Dhangri attacks: J&K DGP Dilbag Singh

Mar 24, 2023

JAMMU: Jammu & Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh on Thursday said the twin attacks on civilians in Dhangri of Rajouri district in the Union Territory early this year were orchestrated by infiltrators from Pakistan.

He said this while interacting with media persons on the sidelines of a valedictory function of the 11th edition of Police Martyrs Memorial Cricket Tournament at Kathua sports stadium here today.

Referring to the infiltration from across the LoC, the DGP said, "During the last year, most foreign terrorists sneaked in with the support of Pakistan and one such group orchestrated the Dhangri attacks and killed innocent people." "Some infiltrators sneaked through Kupwara and Baramulla before snowfall and were neutralized by security forces."

"Around 56 foreign terrorists from Pakistan who were launched by different Pak agencies have been eliminated in previous year,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Shorter routes: Israel’s EL AL to resume India flights by overflying Saudi & Oman from october

Mar 23, 2023

NEW DELHI: Israeli airline EL AL will resume India flights this October after a three year pandemic gap and the journey will get shorter thanks to it overflying Saudi Arabia and Oman now. What used to be about eight-hour journey earlier with the Israeli airline taking much longer routes — Tel Aviv-Red Sea-Gulf of Aden-Arabian Ocean to Delhi and Mumbai and ditto on the way back — will now be a 5.5-hour flight to Mumbai and an hour more for Delhi.

Air India has always been taking the shorter route to Tel Aviv, thanks to being allowed to do so. AI is scheduled to increase their frequencies “from existing three daily flights per week to five from March 26, 2023. In addition, they will be starting to operate direct flights on the sectors from Mumbai and Bengaluru by June and October, respectively, with competitive prices,” said Israel’s tourism ministry said in a statement.

EL AL will operate four non-stop weekly flights from Mumbai to Israel on Boeing 737 with economy and business classes and two non-stop weekly flights to Delhi on Boeing 787 or 777. Flight ticket sales starting in April 2023, starting at $399 for lite tickets.

Shlomi Zafrani, EL AL’s VP (commerce and international affairs), said: “We are excited to launch these new flight routes from India to Israel, which were made possible thanks to the overfly agreement with Oman. We anticipate there will be high demand for these flights due to vast business activity between the two countries, as well as constant growth in Indian tourism to Israel. Israel is a beloved vacation destination to the Indian people, whether it is a family-oriented trip or an organised group vacation.”

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim players in English Premier League granted break for fasting during Ramzan

Sakina Fatima

23rd March 2023

The referees in the Premier League and English Football Association (EFL) have reportedly been asked to pause evening matches in the United Kingdom during the holy month of Ramzan to allow Muslim players to break their fast.

According to the British “Sky Sports” network, the Referees Committee of the English Football Association (EFL) instructed the referees to allow the players to break their fast during the matches that will be held in the evening in Ramzan.

It is worth noting that some of the most known footballers in the country, including Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, and Chelsea’s N’golo Kante, are expected to take part in the dawn-to-dusk fast that this month begins, in compliance with their faith.

As per media reports, the referees will give the players the opportunity to drink water or soft drinks when it is time to break the fast.

Before kick-off, officials will be encouraged to identify any players who may need to break their fast during the match.

It is noteworthy that the English Premier League competitions will witness three full rounds, in addition to six postponed matches throughout the month of Ramzan, with a total of 36 matches within three weeks.

The English Premier League previously witnessed a similar situation on April 26, 2021, when referee Graham Scott stopped the match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace in order to allow space for the players— Wesley Fofana and Cheikhou Kouyate o break the fast, but this was not on official instructions.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Mosque fire assault suspect charged with attempted murder in UK

Burak Bir 



A suspect has been charged with attempted murder following two separate attacks on two men who were set alight outside mosques in Birmingham and London.

"A man has been charged with two counts of attempted murder following incidents in Birmingham and London in the last month. Mohammed Abbkr, aged 28, was remanded to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court this morning," the West Midlands Police said in a statement.

Abbkr is alleged to have sprayed a substance on two men and set them alight in separate incidents in Ealing and Birmingham on Feb. 27 and March 20, said police, adding that the investigation was carried out jointly between the West Midlands Police, Counter Terrorism Policing, and the Metropolitan Police.

Mohammed Rayaz, 70, was set on fire and heavily injured while walking from the local mosque to his home in Edgbaston, Birmingham on Monday.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UK begins inquiry into British troops' alleged extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan

Burak Bir 



A judge in the UK on Wednesday launched an independent probe into allegations of dozens summary killings by British troops in Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters in London, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, the chair of the inquiry, issued a call for anyone with evidence to come forward.

It is "critical" that those who have violated the law be referred to authorities "for the reputation of the armed forces and the country," he said, referring to "extremely serious" allegations of more than 50 summary killings by the British Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers in Afghanistan.

"Either the allegations are untrue, or if some of them are true then the military and the country can hold its head high and say we have looked into these properly and thoroughly. It's about, ultimately, reputation," Haddon-Cave said.

Last December, Britain's Defense Ministry ordered an independent inquiry after a BBC TV documentary reported that soldiers from SAS had killed dozens of people during raids carried out by one SAS squadron in Helmand in 2010-11.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran urges France to heed protesters’ demands rather than stoke unrest in other countries

24 March 2023

The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry has called upon French authorities to respond to the demands of hundreds of thousands of mainly peaceful protesters who have marched across the country against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform, rather than to stoke unrest in other countries.

Nasser Kan’ani, in a series of posts published on his Twitter page on Friday, reacted to protests over the French government’s plan to lift the retirement age from 62 to 64 without a parliamentary vote.

“It is reported that protesters have set fire to the town hall in Bordeaux, and that firefighters have joined nationwide protests” in the latest of a series of violent protests that are rocking France, Kan’ani noted.

“They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind,” the senior Iranian diplomat continued, noting that while Tehran does not support destruction and chaos; it declares that French officials should rather yield to their people’s demands and avoid violence against them than to provoke chaos in other countries.

Kan’ani wrote in another tweet that “The French government should talk to its people and listen to their voices. This kind of violence has nothing to do with leaning on the chair of moral lessons and preaching to others.”

“French protesters are also waiting to see the collective video clip of European, Australian and Canadian female ministers in support of French protesting women,” the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry pointed out.

On Thursday, protesters gathered across France to demonstrate their opposition to the legislation to raise the retirement age by two years to 64.

Unions claimed 3.5 million people turned out across the country, while the authorities suggested the figure was much lower, at just under 1.1 million.

In the capital Paris, union leaders claimed that a record 800,000 people took part in a mostly peaceful march through the city – the police gave the figure as 119,000 – to demand that the government drop the fiercely contested change.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 123 police officers had been injured and 80 people arrested across the country.

Earlier, workers blocked access to a terminal at the Charles de Gaulle airport, forcing some travelers to get there on foot.

Train services were also disrupted and some schools shut while garbage piled up on the streets, and electricity output was cut, as unions pressured the government to withdraw the law that delays retirement by two years.

Plumes of smoke were seen rising from burning piles of debris blocking traffic on a highway near Toulouse, in southwestern France, and wildcat strikes briefly blocked roads in other cities as well.

Source: Press TV

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North America


US: Biden expresses solidarity with Uyghur, Rohingya Muslims in Ramadan message

23 March 2023

President Joe Biden expressed his "solidarity" with Uyghur Muslims in China and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in a Ramadan message to American Muslims.

"Together with our partners, the United States stands in solidarity with Muslims who continue to face oppression- including Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China, Rohingya in Burma, and other Muslim communities facing persecution around the world," the statement said.

The statement was released on 22 March, which marked the first night of Ramadan for many in the US and across the globe.

"During this sacred time of reflection, the United States also reaffirms our support to Muslim communities suffering hardships and devastation," the statement said.

"We will continue to stand with the people of Turkiye and Syria-who have lost many loved ones during the recent devastating earthquakes-and with the people of Pakistan, who are rebuilding their lives following last summer’s floods."

"Today especially, we remember the universal human right to practice, pray, and preach our faiths peacefully and openly."

China’s persecution of the Uyghurs has been documented by human rights organisations and by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and has been widely condemned by western governments.

'Lie fabricated by the US'

Earlier this month, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said the US had formally recognised that Muslims are increasingly subject to “discrimination and violence” and cited the treatment of the Uyghurs in China and the Rohingya in Myanmar.

She said: “We have also determined that the Chinese government has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.

“The international community must continue to condemn these atrocities. We must continue to demand accountability. And we must continue to call for all those unjustly detained in [China] to be released and reunited with their families.”

A spokesperson for China’s delegation then denied the accusations and said it was a "lie fabricated by the US".

“China resolutely rejects the baseless accusations made by the United States just now in abusing today’s high-level event of commemoration,” the spokesperson said.

He accused the US of committing genocide against Native Americans, as well as war crimes including “the indiscriminate killing of civilians including women and children” in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We call upon America to stop making lies for their political interests. The whole world has long been clear-eyed about the US political agenda of using Xinjiang to condemn China."

In 2021, the US State Department also declared that China is committing "ongoing" genocide against its Uyghur Muslim minority.

Source: MiddleEastEye

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US Stand with Women in Afghanistan, Iran: President Biden

By Fidel Rahmati

March 24, 2023

US President Joe Biden said that Washington stands with women in Iran and Afghanistan “who are facing violence.”

Biden made the remarks in a White House Women’s History Month speech.

“We stand with women in Iran and Afghanistan facing down violence … The budget I laid out two weeks ago includes more than 3 billion dollars, a record amount, to advance general quality globally, not just at home,” he said.

The remarks were made amid the beginning of the new school year and academic education in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, UNAMA raised concerns that with the beginning of the new school year in the country, more than one million girls would be banned from attending classes.

“As the new Afghan school year starts this week, more than a million Afghan girls will be barred from attending classes,” said a statement.

Furthermore, on Wednesday, Markus Potzel, the UNAMA deputy special envoy for Afghanistan, met with the acting Deputy Prime Minster of the Taliban-led government, Abdul Kabir, and discussed girls’ education.

Potzel said, “The United Nations and the international community urges Taliban authorities to reopen school and university doors for Afghan women and girls.”

Since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, this is the second consecutive year that the girls were banned from attending school beyond sixth grade. In addition, the de facto government has forbidden young women from attending universities and working in international organizations since last December.

Source: Khaama Press

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US Texas representative votes against recognition of Ramadan

23 March 2023

A Texas state representative has voted against a resolution recognising the holy month of Ramadan.

On Wednesday, Republican Representative Tony Tinderholt put out a statement saying, “As a combat veteran, I served beside many local translators who were Muslims and good people. I can also attest that Ramadan was routinely the most violent period during every deployment.”

“Texas and America were founded on Christian principles and my faith as a Christian prevents me from celebrating Ramadan.”

Muslims are a fast-growing community in the state. There are at least 420,000 Muslims in Texas, the Texas Standard reported in 2021. On the eve of 22 March, Muslims all over the world began the month of Ramadan.

The bill states that the "House of Representatives of the 88th Texas Legislature hereby recognize the holy month of Ramadan 2023 and extend to Muslims across the Lone Star State sincere best wishes for a meaningful and joyous observance."

It was sponsored by Salman Bhojani, who was sworn in as one of the first Muslims and South Asians in the Texas legislature earlier this year.

The bill is still in the committee and has been moved to the Resolutions Calendar.

Bill Essayli, the first Muslim elected to the California state legislature, was one of the first to respond.

“This is wrong. As the first Muslim elected to the [California Legislature], I have no issue commemorating Christmas or Passover. Our nation was founded on freedom of religion and we should celebrate all faiths, while ensuring people are always free to practice any faith.”

Fred Wellman, a combat army veteran and host of the On Democracy podcast, responded to Tinderholt and said, “Absolutely disgusting. You are the worst representative of the veteran community. We honour those we serve.”

“You’re just a Christian Nationalist. Do your multiple marriages honour Christianity, too, or did you skip that part of the book too?”

Source: MiddleEastEye

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US looking to strengthen Iran sanctions after less than expected impact: Yellen

24 March ,2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday the United States was looking at ways to strengthen its sanctions against Iran, but acknowledged the sanctions had not resulted in the behavioral or policy changes Washington desires from Tehran.

“Our sanctions on Iran have created real economic crisis in the country, and Iran is greatly suffering economically because of the sanctions ... Has that forced a change in behavior? The answer is much less than we would ideally like,” Yellen told lawmakers in a hearing on Thursday.

Yellen did not specify what behavioral change Washington was expecting from Tehran. However, Washington has previously raised concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, human rights record and relations with Russia amid its war with Ukraine.

The United States has imposed multiple sanctions on Iran over the years, most recently targeting Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry over supply of drones to Russia that Washington says are used to target civilian infrastructure in the conflict in Ukraine.

Ties between Iran and the United States have become increasingly strained as efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled. The US also imposed sanctions recently on Iran over the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman MahsaAmini in police custody on September 16 last year.

Source: Al Arabiya

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American forces suffered 78 Iranian attacks since 2021: US general

23 March ,2023

The top US military general for the Middle East revealed Thursday that his forces had come under Iranian attack an eye-watering 78 times since January 2021.

Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Erik Kurilla said the US Central Command’s [CENTCOM] priorities were to deter Iran, counter violent extremist groups and compete strategically with China and Russia.

He added that Iran remained the primary destabilizing element in the region and warned that the Iran of 2023 “is not the Iran of 1983.”

CENTCOM was formed 40 years ago to counter the influence of the Iranian regime after it seized power in Tehran and to compete strategically with what was then the Soviet Union.

Gen. Kurilla also cautioned lawmakers that Iran had become “exponentially” more militarily capable than it was five years ago. He pointed to Iran as having the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles.

According to the US general, Tehran also has the region’s largest and most capable drone force.

As Iran cultivates its ties and forms proxy groups across the Middle East, US interests continue to be threatened. Iran and Iran-backed groups have launched numerous attacks against American forces and interest in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

For the first time, the military publicly disclosed the frequency of these attacks. Gen. Kurilla told lawmakers that the number of attacks since January 1, 2021, was “about 78 times.”

“What Iran does to hide its hand is they use Iranian proxies - that’s either UAVs or rockets to be able to attack our forces in Iraq or Syria,” he said. Asked if these were considered acts of war, Gen. Kurilla responded: “They are being done by the Iranian proxies.”

But the US has only responded three times, something which has not been reported before. “We have responded kinetically to three of those strikes. We also maintain non-kinetic options,” CENTCOM Spokesman Col. Joe Buccino told Al Arabiya English in an e-mailed statement.

Lawmakers and analysts have interpreted the US response in different ways.

Bilal Saab, Director of the Defense and Security Program at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said CENTCOM “is extra sensitive to the policy set up by the administration, which constrains its freedom of action.”

However, he added, there are ways the US has responded and continues to do so via cyber, covert and other methods. “Those things are happening, but are they contributing to deterrence? I’m not so sure,” Saab said.

This comes as the administration has made clear its intention to shift focus from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific while grappling with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Earlier Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon plans to send older attack jets to the Middle East to free up space for more advanced fighter jets to go to Asia and Europe.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US helping 44 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan: Blinken

Rabia İclalTuran



The US is working to assist 44 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan as well as several others detained by the Taliban, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

“There are several Americans who are being detained by the Taliban. We are working to secure their freedom,” Blinken told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

“The families have asked that we protect their identities and don't speak publicly to their cases,” he added.

“Those who have been detained -- how many other Americans are there?" said Republican Representative Joe Wilson.

“As we speak, American citizens who identified themselves to us who are in Afghanistan — some of whom have been there since the withdrawal, some of whom went back to Afghanistan — there are about, that we're in contact with, about 175. Forty-four of them are ready to leave, and we are working to effectuate their departure," Blinken responded.

Republican lawmakers have been accusing President Joe Biden of the “failed” withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the chaos at Kabul airport in August 2021.

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee requested documents related to the controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan from the State Department as part of an investigation.

During the hearing Thursday at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican chairman Michael McCaul gave Blinken until the end of Monday to release an internal dissent cable written by at least 23 diplomats serving at the US Embassy in Kabul in July 2021.

"I have the subpoena. it's right here. And I'm prepared to serve this," McCaul told Blinken.

The classified cable reportedly warned of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

Blinken said in response to the committee's request that the “tradition of having a dissent channel is one that is cherished in the department, and goes back decades.”

“It's a unique way for anyone in the department to speak truth to power as they see it,” he said.

“These cables may only be shared with senior officials in the department, and again that's to protect the integrity of the process to make sure we don't have a chilling effect on those who might want to come forward,” he continued.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Commercial establishments can obtain discount permits online for Ramadan sale

March 23, 2023

RIYADH — The Ministry of Commerce has announced that retail establishments can issue online discount permits for Ramadan sale.

The ministry launched the facility enabling commercial establishments to issue the discounts permits electronically for the Ramadan discounts season, which starts on March 23 lasts until April 21.

The ministry clarified that issuing the discount permits for Ramadan will not cause the establishments to lose days of the annual sales balance.

The service of issuing permits for seasonal discounts online will contribute to facilitating the process for merchants in a way that enables them to save their own balance of e-discounts.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Iran and Oman begin Ramadan fasting with Saudi Arabia for first time in many years

March 24, 2023

RIYADH — In a phenomenon that was absent in the Arab and Islamic world for several years, Muslims in most countries started observing the Ramadan fast on Thursday.

After a break of several years, Iran and Oman joined Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab and Muslim countries in starting the Ramadan fasting on the same day.

Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen are among the Arab countries where Ramadan fasting began on Thursday after completing 30 days of Sha’ban on Wednesday in view of not sighting the crescent moon on Tuesday, Sha’ban 29.

In Iran, Hojjat al-Islam Ali Reza, member of the Moon-sighting Committee at the office of the Iranian leader, stated that Thursday will be the first day of the month of Ramadan. He saud the Ramadan crescent was sighted with the naked eye after sunset on Wednesday.

Likewise, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs in the Sultanate of Oman announced that the sighting of the Ramadan crescent has been confirmed, so that Thursday will be the first day of the month of fasting.

The Saudi Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it had received no reliable testimony from anyone with regard to sighting of the crescent moon on Tuesday, Sha’ban 29, and hence Wednesday will be the 30th day of Sha’ban in accordance with the Umm Al-Qura calendar and Thursday will be the first day of the month of Ramadan.

For its part, Qatar News Agency reported on its Twitter account that the committee for sighting the crescent at the Ministry of Endowment announced Wednesday the completion of the month of Sha’ban and Thursday as the first day of the month of Ramadan.

In Kuwait, the Moonsighting Committee announced that it was impossible to see the crescent of Ramadan on Tuesday evening and so Thursday would be the first day of the holy month. The UAE’s WAM news agency also reported that Wednesday is the completion of the month of Sha’ban and Thursday is the first day of Ramadan in the country.

Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories Muhammad Hussein announced that Thursday is the first day of the month of Ramadan due to the inability to sight the crescent on Tuesday, Sha’ban 29.

In Iraq, both the office of the Supreme Shiite Authority Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani and the Sunni Endowment Office announced that Thursday is the first day of Ramadan.

The Egyptian Dar Al-Ifta announced that Wednesday is the completion of the month of Sha’ban, and Thursday is the first day of Ramadan. The Syrian News Agency (SANA) quoted the Fiqh Academic Council at the Ministry of Endowment as saying that Thursday is the first day of the month in view of not sighting the crescent on Tuesday. The concerned moonsighting authorities in Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Yemen also made similar announcements about the beginning of Ramadan fasting on Thursday.

The beginning and end of the month of Ramadan have always been an issue of of difference in the Islamic world, as the methods that each country followed in determining the sighting of the crescent varied from the other. Sometimes it is subject to the interpretation of the legal text, while some countries resort to relying on other countries as a religious reference for them in determining the beginning or ending of Ramadan fasting.

According to the Ramadan calendar in most Arab countries, the number of Ramadan days for the current year is 29 days. This is mainly attributed to the fact that Ramadan comes after completion of 30 days of Sha’ban, and hence, those countries where fasting began on Thursday are expected to celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Fitr on Friday, April 21.

The length of fasting was about 14 hours on the first day of the month in most Arab and Islamic countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, as well as in Turkey and Iran.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Ramadan is a special time to pray for Turkey and Syria quake victims, says Bishop

Ramola Talwar Badam

Mar 24, 2023

The head of the Catholic church in the UAE has asked the community to pray during Ramadan for the families who lost loved ones in the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

In a Ramadan message shared with The National, Bishop Paulo Martinelli sent good wishes to the Muslim community.

He urged the faithful to also remember those who had suffered untold hardships due to poverty and war.

“In a particular way, we remember the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the suffering humanity affected by war, sickness and hunger,” said Bishop Martinelli.

“Let us in a special way remember our brothers and sisters all over the world who have been adversely affected by immense difficulties and hardship.”

The Bishop is the Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia, the highest-ranking Catholic official in a jurisdiction covering the UAE, Oman and Yemen.

He said this year Ramadan and the Christian period of Lent coincided and gave people from both communities the opportunity to assist those in need.

Thursday marked the first day of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year in Islam.

Lent began last month and marks a period that Christians fast and pray in preparation for Easter.

Extending greetings to the Muslim community for Ramadan, the Bishop said: “This year Ramadan coincides with the Christian holy season of Lent which started three weeks ago.

“This year both Christians and Muslims have the opportunity to fast, pray and open themselves to the works of charity at the same time.

“It is a special time to recognise and celebrate that we belong to one human fraternity.”

He prayed for blessings for the UAE and hoped the time of reflection would unite people around the world.

“May this holy month help us to be closer to God and to our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Martinelli said.

“May it help us bring peace and friendship between people and nations to build a more human and fraternal world.

Source: TheNationalNews

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Eight pro-Iran fighters killed by US strikes in Syria: Monitor

24 March ,2023

US airstrikes killed eight pro-Iran fighters in eastern Syria following a drone attack that killed one American contractor and injured five US service personnel, a war monitor said Friday.

“US strikes targeted a weapons depot inside Deir Ezzor city, killing six pro-Iran fighters, and two other fighters were killed by strikes targeting the desert of Mayadine and near al-Boukamal,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor with a wide network of sources on the ground in the war-torn country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia in talks with Syria to resume consular services: State TV

23 March ,2023

Saudi Arabia and Syria are in talks to resume consular services between the two countries, Saudi state TV al-Ekhbariya reported on Thursday, citing a source in the Saudi foreign ministry.

The Saudi state TV cited the foreign ministry source as saying: “Within the framework of the Kingdom’s keenness to facilitate the provision of necessary consular services between the two nations, discussions are underway with officials in Syria to resume consular services.”

It added that the statement of the foreign ministry’s source was in comment on international media reports. Reuters had reported earlier, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, that Saudi Arabia and Syria have agreed to reopen their embassies after cutting diplomatic ties more than a decade ago.

The Reuters report said communication between Riyadh and Damascus had gathered momentum following the March 10 signing of the landmark agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China, to re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies after seven years of heightened tensions. Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A thaw in relations between Saudi Arabia and Syria would be the most significant development in movements by Arab countries to normalize ties with Assad, who was shunned after the eruption of Syria’s bloody civil war in 2011 which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

Assad’s regime has been politically isolated in the region since its suspension from the Arab League over the government’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protestors. In addition, many Arab countries severed ties with Damascus and recalled their envoys.

However, recently, in the wake of the devastating February earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey, Assad received phone calls from the Arab world’s leaders with messages of support, visits from their top diplomats to express solidarity and received aid packages to alleviate the suffering of the population.

Most notably, Syrian ties with the UAE saw major developments as Assad was received in Abu Dhabi by Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on March 19 – his second visit to the UAE in as many years, and the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed had visited Syria last month.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on February 19 the consensus growing among Arab countries was that the isolation of Syria was “not workable”, and that dialogue with Damascus was needed “at some point” at least with regards to the “humanitarian angle.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Syria’s Aleppo airport to reopen on Friday

23 March ,2023

Air traffic in Aleppo airport will be resumed on Friday morning, the Syrian transport ministry said, after being damaged by an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday.

Syrian officials said the airstrike caused “material damage,” while regional intelligence sources said the attack hit an Iranian arms depot.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon in ‘very dangerous situation’ with reforms stalled: IMF

23 March ,2023

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned that Lebanon was in a very dangerous situation one year after it committed to reforms it has failed to implement and urged the Lebanese government to halt borrowing from the central bank.

IMF mission chief Ernesto Rigo told a news conference in Beirut that the authorities should accelerate the implementation of conditions set for a $3 billion bailout.

“One would have expected more in terms of implementation and approval of legislation,” related to reforms, he said, noting “very slow” progress.

“Lebanon is in a very dangerous situation,” he said.

Lebanon signed a staff-level agreement with the IMF nearly one year ago but has not met the conditions to secure a full program that is widely seen as crucial for its recovery from one of the world’s worst financial crises.

The economy has meanwhile been crippled by the collapse of the currency, which has lost some 98 percent of its value against the US dollar since 2019, triggering triple-digit inflation, soaring poverty and a wave of emigration.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia sets out its water strategy during landmark, high-level UN conference


March 24, 2023

NEW YORK CITY: As concerns about water scarcity continue to grow worldwide, and in the Arab region in particular, Saudi officials on Thursday offered details of the steps they have been taking to address the problems.

They said the Kingdom is working to provide safe and affordable drinking water for all by developing ways to recycle and manage water resources in an integrated manner that reduces the environmental impact, and expressed confidence that it is on the right path to achieve the global goal of safe water for all.

Abdulaziz Al-Shaibani, the deputy minister for water affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said his country leads the world in the unconventional supply of water through desalination, and is working hard to reduce the environmental impact of the processes that are used.

He was speaking at the first UN water conference in a generation, which was co-hosted this week in New York by the governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands.

“I don’t know why (the conference) hadn’t happened up until now,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Arab News. “But we’re certainly glad that it is happening now.

“It takes time for member states to recognize the seriousness of some of the problems we face, and at least they’re doing this and it’s a positive development.”

Organizers hope the conference will prove to be a watershed moment in efforts to mobilize the UN system, member states and other stakeholders to take action, amid increasingly urgent warnings that international progress on water-related goals remains “alarmingly” off target, jeopardizing the entire sustainable development agenda.

The UN General Assembly set out its Sustainable Development Goals — 17 global targets designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” — in 2015, with the aim of achieving them by 2030.

Al-Shaibani told the conference on Thursday that the water sector is a cornerstone of comprehensive economic prosperity and a strong nexus of the strategies for other economic sectors.

He said Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious development agenda, was launched as part of the country’s efforts to build a more sustainable economy in line with the UN’s sustainability goals, and to pave the way for a better future “by diversifying the economy, reducing the state’s dependence on oil and developing the public sector to be more dynamic, flexible and sustainable.”

The Kingdom’s limited natural freshwater resources and the ever-increasing demand for water, and the challenges these factors pose to sustainable economic development, prompted Riyadh in 2018 to adopt what is now known as the “National Water Strategy 2030.”

Al-Shaibani said it was devised around the principle of Integrated Water Resources Management, which aims to restructure the water sector to make it more sustainable and efficient.

He added that it seeks to achieve this through a number of ambitious initiatives and programs, the most important of which are: “Restructuring and developing Integrated Water Resources Management capabilities; developing and implementing the water law; integrated water planning; development of renewable and non-renewable groundwater resources and surface water; development of sustainable desalination capabilities; promotion of the contribution of the private sector and third sector; and adherence to environmental regulations and requirements as well as improvements of irrigation efficiency.”

Al-Shaibani said his country is striving to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels by 56 percent by 2024, which represents 26 percent of the Kingdom’s total commitment to the Paris Agreement, with the remaining reduction set to be achieved by 2030.

He added that advances in desalination have significantly increased the quality of drinking water while protecting nonrenewable groundwater resources.

The Kingdom is also, Al-Shaibani said, “establishing sustainable agricultural cities that promote local economies and rural communities; (and) supporting women through the development opportunities offered by non-traditional water sources such as the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Program.”

In its efforts to achieve “universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all,” Saudi Arabia has allocated more than $80 billion for “hundreds of projects” related to water infrastructure, to be implemented in the coming years, he told the gathering.

The Kingdom has also rationalized water use through laws and regulations and awareness campaigns, Al-Shaibani added.

He pointed out that in 2020, during its presidency of the G20, the Kingdom sought to include the issue of resilient and sustainable water management on the group’s action map for the first time. Riyadh also spearheaded the G20’s “Dialogue on Water,” which this year, under India’s presidency, will take place for the fourth time.

“The Kingdom seeks to ensure the continuity of the water topic discussion within the G20 in the coming years through cooperation and coordination with the partners in the group,” Al-Shaibani said.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Fund for Development has provided billions of dollars for the development of many water-infrastructure projects in developing countries, he added, including “building dams, well drilling, water-supply networks and other water-related projects.”

Source: Arab News

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Saudi foreign minister discusses ties with Algerian, Cypriot counterparts

March 24, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan made a phone call to his Algerian counterpart Ahmed Attaf, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

At the beginning of the call, the two sides exchanged greetings on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and Prince Faisal congratulated the Algerian minister on assuming his new position, wishing him all the success.

They reviewed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them to achieve the interests of the two countries, and discussed regional and international developments of common interest.

Prince Faisal then received a phone call from his Cypriot counterpart ConstantinosKombos, where he also congratulated him on assuming his new position, and wished him all the success.

Source: Arab News

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Kuwait’s Al-Najat Charity distributes iftar meals to Syrian refugees in Lebanon

March 23, 2023

BEIRUT: Kuwait’s Al-Najat Charity has celebrated the advent of Ramadan by distributing iftar meals among Syrian refugees in camps near the border in northeastern Lebanon, Kuwait News Agency reported.

The charity’s public relations officer, Tarek Al-Essa, said a delegation joined refugees in Arsal to welcome Ramadan and hold Taraweeh prayers.

A mobile kitchen prepared breakfast as part of the “One Million Fasting Meals” campaign, which includes Lebanon and other countries.

Food baskets were also distributed to camps in the region.

Source: Arab News

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Israel Police to secure thousands of Muslim worshippers on first Friday of Ramadan


MARCH 23, 2023

Police are preparing to secure tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers who are set to arrive in Jerusalem for the first Friday prayers of the month of Ramadan.

The police announced on Thursday that a reinforcement of over 2,300 police officers and Border Police officers will be deployed in Jerusalem on Friday to maintain the peace, alongside the hundreds of police officers who operate routinely in the city.

Increased security forces will operate at the crossings around Jerusalem, in east Jerusalem and in the Old City.

"Israel Police will continue to act in order to allow the many worshipers to visit the holy sites safely. We call on the public to respect the holiday and others, to celebrate, pray and observe the holiday according to the law and obey the police officers' instructions," said police.

Old City of Jerusalem roads to be closed

From about 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the following roads around the Old City of Jerusalem will be closed to vehicles: Sultan Suleiman, Wadi Joz, Jericho Road, Shmuel Ben Adia, HaOfel Road, Nablus Road, Salah a-Din, Ma'alotIr David, Van Paassen, Naomi Kis.

From Friday morning until the afternoon, the following roads will be closed as needed: Bar Lev Boulevard from the MatehArtzi junction southward, DerechHevron from Miriam Hahashmonait St. northward, HaTsanhanim St., Kheil ha-Handasa St. and the IDF Tunnel.

Last year, the first Friday prayers of Ramadan passed peacefully, although on the second Friday of Ramadan, violent clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces on the Temple Mount. 150 Palestinians and eight Israel Police officers were injured in the clashes. Additional violence broke out repeatedly throughout the remainder of Ramadan.

'We will break the fast in Jerusalem'

In recent days, Palestinian media launched a campaign titled "We will break the fast in Jerusalem," encouraging Palestinians to break the daily Ramadan fast at al-Aqsa mosque and to increase the Muslim presence at the site.

NajehBakirat, the deputy director-general of the Wakf in Jerusalem, has called in recent days for large numbers of Palestinians to conduct Itikaf, a practice in which Muslims stay within a mosque for multiple days, at al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

"I'tikaaf is the only and best way to confront the occupation and its plans," said Bakirat, according to Palestinian media. "The occupation can only be deterred by continuing and steadfast in the lands and courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque."

Bakirat warned that the situation is "more dangerous than ever before," stating  that "things will be hot this year as a result of the daily attacks that escalated in al-Aqsa Mosque."

Palestinian officials have also expressed outrage at the installation of security cameras around the Temple Mount by police in recent weeks.

Source: JPost

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Far-Right Israeli Minister, Orit Strook, Threatens To 'Re-Occupy' And 'Re-Colonize' Gaza

24 March 2023

A far-right Israeli minister has threatened to “re-occupy” the besieged Gaza Strip and “re-colonize” the settlements that were evacuated in the area before 2005, in another sign of emerging Israeli radical right.

The Israeli minister of national missions Orit Strook told Israeli Channel 7 that Israel has to return its settlements once again.

“I believe that we have provided many sacrifices to restore Gaza,” Strook said, adding “Unfortunately, we cannot return to Gaza without involving many casualties, as well as the departure from it came with many casualties.”

However, the response of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to such claims was that "Israel is too weak to occupy the area once again."

Strook is only one minister in the new Israeli far-right regime led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already begun working on pushing through its far-right policies especially in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, after coming into office on December 29.

In one of the many agreements signed before the regime took office, Netanyahu promised the Religious Zionism party, one of his main coalition partners, to annex the occupied West Bank.

The agreement said the Jewish people “have a natural right over the Land of Israel”.

On December 28, the then-incoming Israeli regime announced that its top priority was to “advance and develop settlement in all parts of the land of Israel” including the Galilee, the Naqab Desert (Negev), the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the occupied West Bank, which reveals that the Israeli regime has no intention of allowing the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israeli authorities have already begun imposing stricter restrictions on Palestinian construction and have pushed ahead with home demolitions in Area C, the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military and civil control.

This far-right extremism was also seen in the attitude and words of Israeli minister Itmar Ben Gvir, also head of the Jewish Power Party, who has called for the expulsion of “disloyal” Palestinians, the annexation of the West Bank, and taking revenge against anyone who stands in the face of the Israeli regime.

 Also, Ben Gvir has been pushing to escalate Palestinian home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and has been imposing harsh measures on Palestinian detainees already suffering dire conditions in Israeli prisons.

According to media reports, the Israeli Knesset on Tuesday passed a bill to allow Israeli settlers to return to four evacuated settlements in the northern occupied West Bank.

In 2005, former prime minister Ariel Sharon evacuated several Israeli settlements in Gaza along with four settlements in the northern occupied West Bank as part of his "unilateral" plan for disengagement from the territory.

Source: Press TV

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Iran's Lead Negotiator Holds Talks with E3 Parties in Norway, Calls for Diplomacy


In a post on his Twitter account, Baqeri Kani said he had a meeting in the Norwegian capital of Oslo with the political directors of the E3, referring to the three European parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Iranian official added that the sides held extensive discussions about a range of issues of mutual interest and concern.

"We spare no opportunity to clarify our views & warn against certain miscalculations. We’re determined in advancing our national interests, including through diplomacy," he added.

Iran stresses it has not quit the negotiating table with the world powers, but will not put all its eggs in the negotiation basket and will not wait for the United States to return to its commitments under the 2015 agreement. Iranian officials stress Tehran has maintained its constructive aproach towards a good, strong and lasting agreement on the revival of the accord and arriving at a deal requires the US pragmatic attitude.

Tehran says it will not be able to trust Washington as long as President Joe Biden continues the wrong policy of maximum pressure and sanctions practiced by Donald Trump against Iran. Iranian officials say the Biden administration has yet done nothing but hollow promises to lift sanctions against Tehran. They blast the US addiction to sanctions, and slammed the POTUS for continuing his predecessor's policy on Iran.

In quitting the agreement, Trump restored sanctions on Iran as part of what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Those sanctions are being enforced to this day by the Biden administration, even though it has repeatedly acknowledged that the policy has been a mistake and a failure.

Iranian officials say the ball is in the US' court, and the Biden administration should assure Tehran that it will not repeat Trump's past mistakes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Spokesman: US Not Qualified to Lecture Iran on Human Rights


Kana'ani described the content of an annual report by the US Department of State on the situation of human rights in Iran as "baseless, invalid and politically-motivated", saying it stems from "the American regime’s rejected approach of intervention in the domestic affairs of independent states".

“This report has no relevance in terms of judgment and evaluation of the sublime issue of human rights in international relations,” the senior diplomat stated.

He emphasized the lofty position, the importance and originality of the issue of human rights in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country’s other laws and regulations as well as Iran’s respect for its relevant international commitments.

“The domineering regime in America is not at all expected to say the facts and realities of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the spokesperson added.

Referring to the widespread cases of human rights violations by the US inside and outside America, Kana'ani said, “The American government is in no position to speak about the high values of human rights in other countries.”

“America hypocritically claims to defend the human rights of the Iranian people, while it is systematically violating the human rights of the Iranian people with a variety of cruel, illegal and unilateral sanctions against the Iranian nation,” the top diplomat continued.

In addition, he added, the US, through providing organized support to terror groups, is standing by those groups and against the Iranian people.

The official also enumerated cases of blatant violations of human rights in America.

The spokesman stressed that the US police’s violent treatment of people and illegal use of force, structural and targeted discrimination against black people by the police and the judicial system of this country, violation of the rights of minorities and people of color, suppression of protesters, violent treatment of asylum seekers their imprisonment, and inhumane behavior toward them and their children, human rights abuses and racial discrimination in prisons, especially the prisons of the Southern states of this country, and treatment of prisoners like slaves, are only among the many cases of continuous human rights violations in the United States, which have been a serious source of concern for international organizations and human rights institutions.

Iran blasts the blatant violations of human rights in the US and Europe, stressing for the US, human rights is merely a tool for exerting political pressure on independent states to advance their foreign policy objectives. Officials in Tehran call on the international community to hold the US accountable for its crimes. They mocked the US claim over supporting Iranian women and girls amid harsh sanctions which have disrupted the ordinary lives of the people.

Tehran has also denounces the disturbing human rights situation in the European countries, and note the West does not have the authority to be the flag-bearer in this field.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Lashes Out at West for Keeping Mum on French Police Crackdown on Protesters


"The continuation of demonstrations in France and police violence against protesters, which is not seen by human rights claimants in Washington and European capitals!!!" Kana'ani wrote on Twitter.

"Because They always look towards other countries!!!" the senior diplomat added.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has confirmed that more than 850 protesters have been detained in France during demonstrations against the pension reform.

The police were pictured repeatedly charging the crowds and beating individual protesters. The unrest is expected to continue across France into the coming days.

The French government has also survived two parliamentary no-confidence votes over President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to push through a controversial pension reform bill without lawmakers’ approval.

Iran blasts the blatant violations of human rights in the US and Europe, stressing for the US, human rights is merely a tool for exerting political pressure on independent states to advance their foreign policy objectives. Officials in Tehran call on the international community to hold the US accountable for its crimes. They mocked the US claim over supporting Iranian women and girls amid harsh sanctions which have disrupted the ordinary lives of the people.

Tehran has also denounces the disturbing human rights situation in the European countries, and note the West does not have the authority to be the flag-bearer in this field.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian FM Praises IRGC's Vital Role in War on Terrorism


Amir Abdollahian made the remarks during a phone conversation with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong on Wednesday.

Thanking the Australian diplomat for her congratulations on the occasion of Nowruz, Amir Abdollahian underscored the importance of the path of diplomacy and dialog.

Iran's minister said Tehran considers ties with Canberra as important, adding that there are diverse areas in which the two sides can cooperate at the bilateral, regional and international levels.

Elsewhere, the Iranian official stated that the IRGC is the "most powerful force" in the fight against the Daesh and other terrorist groups in the region and has played a "key role in resorting regional stability and security".

He also pointed to the presence of one of the leaders of the Al-Ahwaziyeh terrorist group in Australia, adding that the terror group is accused of assassinating Iranian civilians.

Iranian officials have repeatedly lashed out at the US and certain Eauropean countries for sheltering and supporting terrorist groups.

Wong, for her part, called for the continuation of dialogue and diplomacy between Australia and Iran.

The foreign minister stated that Canberra believes the door for diplomacy must remain open in order to resolve misunderstandings

She also welcomed the continuation of dialogues between Iran and the West, as well as the cooperation between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), describing it as constructive.

It comes months after the European Parliament adopted an amendment, calling on the European Union and its member states to include the IRGC on their terror list. It also passed another resolution later, calling for more sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities and putting the IRGC on the EU terrorist list over alleged human rights violations during the recent riots.

The EU has not acted on the decision, arguing that the bloc lacks the necessary legal basis for such designation. However, it has imposed sanctions against a number of Iranian officials and entities for what it claims to be a crackdown on the recent foreign-backed unrest, which were triggered after the death of MahsaAmini in Tehran in September.

The move has been strongly condemned by Iranian officials, commanders and the Armed Forces.

Tehran has repeatedly announced that the IRGC is an official state body which has had and will continue to have an important and key role in ensuring the security of Iran and the region.

Iranian officials have warned the EU that its plan to blacklist the IRGC as a “terrorist organization” may have unbearable consequences, urging Europe to avoid repeating the past mistakes.

They cautioned the European governments against falling into the trap of a plot hatched by the US and Israel, calling on the EU to maintain its independence from the US.

Tehran stresses the European states enjoy safety because of the elite forces' efforts in the fight against terror groups in the region.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian President, FM Felicitate Muslim Nations on Ramadan


President Rayeesi has extended his congratulations to leaders of Muslim countries on the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

In separate messages, Rayeesi congratulated the blessed month to the heads of Islamic countries such as Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

On the first night of the blessed month of Ramadan, Amir Abdollahian in separate messages sent to his counterparts in Islamic countries felicitated the occasion to them.

The senior official has in his messages also wished for Islamic unity all over the world to materialize the exalted objectives of Islam.

The office of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has declared Thursday as the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Iran.

The beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan is determined by both lunar calculations and physical sightings of a new moon.

During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, converge in mosques for prayers, and traditionally break their fast in gatherings in mosques or with family and friends in the evening.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Turkish parliamentary commission approves Finland’s NATO bid: TRT Haber

23 March ,2023

The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission approved a bill ratifying Finland’s bid to join NATO, state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Thursday.

The bill still needs to be approved by the parliament’s general assembly.

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Islamic State-Khorasan Has Stronger Presence in Afghanistan: Senior US General

By Fidel Rahmati

March 24, 2023

After the withdrawal of the US forces in August 2021, Islamic State (Daesh) has a greater presence in Afghanistan than the previous year, according to the senior US general for the Middle East on Thursday.

“ISIS is stronger today in Afghanistan,” said Gen. Michael Kurilla, commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), while speaking to the House Armed Services Committee.

Earlier, Kurilla also warned that the Islamic State-Khorasan would be able to strike Western interests in Europe and Asia within six months.

Amid the US troop’s withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 2021, suicide bombers attacked Kabul airport, killing at least 60 Afghans and 12 US soldiers, according to media reports.

Recently, the group has intensified their attack on diplomatic missions, including the Pakistani embassy, Russian and Chinese visitors in Kabul and the Afghan foreign ministry building.

Earlier this month, the Islamic State-Khorasan claimed responsibility for Balkh’s attacks. The governor of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was killed in a blast at his office a day after Tebyan Cultural killed a dozen Afghan journalists.

In the meantime, the British Foreign Office recently issued a statement warning its people from travelling to Afghanistan at any cost.

According to the statement, there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks throughout Afghanistan, notably near the Kabul airport, at religious places, and during religious festivals, particularly during Ramadan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Afghan Taliban FM seeks global cooperation, offers nothing in return

March 24, 2023

KARACHI: The interim foreign minister of Afghanistan, Amir Khan Muttaqi, has once again asked the world to lift sanctions imposed on the country and expressed the willingness to work together with all nations, including the US.

In an op-ed published in Al Jazeera, Mr Muttaqi, however, didn’t address the friction points — respecting the rights of Afghans, lifting curbs on women’s access to education and work and taking action against terror outfits operating out of Afghanistan — that have made Kabul a near pariah in global politics.

Since coming into power in August 2021, the Afghan Taliban have repeatedly urged the world to recognise their government and lift economic restrictions to help millions of Afghans who are living in deplorable conditions often described by the UN as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

In his article, the Taliban minister acknowledged the crisis in the country and blamed sanctions imposed by the US and other countries for it.

“The primary cause of the ongoing economic crisis is the imposition of sanctions and banking restrictions by the United States. This impedes and delays our efforts to address the humanitarian crisis,” wrote Mr Muttaqi.

“What moral and political justifications can the US have for imposing crippling sanctions on a war-torn nation?”

The give

He added that over the past two decades, the Afghan economy “was made wholly dependent on foreign aid” and now with zero aid inflows, there was a need to “address the basic and fundamental needs of the Afghan people”.

He also “reminded” the US and other countries that sanctions and pressures do not resolve differences. “There is a need for the international community to establish political and economic relations with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan while respecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mr Muttaqi added that if sanctions result in another failed government in Afghanistan, it would result in grave consequences not only for the country but the whole world.

“[S]uch a scenario will be accompanied by a great human tragedy that will not be limited to Afghanistan, but rather usher in new and unforeseen … challenges for our neighbours, the region and the world.”

The take

While the Afghan minister pleaded with the world to make concessions and work together, his article carried no indication of what his government would do to address the concerns of global powers.

His nearly 1350-word long piece makes not even a single mention of women’s access to education or allowing them to work.

The closest he came to mentioning — not addressing — these issues was when he said that the country’s “internal affairs” have often been “misconceived or misconstrued”.

“The religious and cultural sensibilities of our society require a cautious approach. Any government that has not maintained the proper equilibrium, pertaining to such sensibilities, has ultimately faced serious difficulties. This is a lesson that our recent history has emphasised over and over again,” the minister wrote.

Listing his government’s achievements, the minister claimed that action has been taken to ensure that the territory was not used against other countries while the cultivation of drugs has been banned.

“We celebrate, and take pride, in our diversity and rich history. We don’t believe in imposing the majority’s will on a minority. In our view, every citizen of the country is an inseparable part of the collective whole.”

Source: Dawn

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Earthquake in Afghanistan destroyed around 665 houses in several provinces: UN

24 March, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], March 24 (ANI): United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated that the recent earthquake in Afghanistan damaged and destroyed around 665 houses across Badakhshan, Bamyan, Panjshir, Parwan, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Samangan, and Takhar Provinces, Afghanistan based Khaama Press reported.

The organization added that the earthquake in Badakhshan killed five people. In contrast, it injured 58 others and “partners have deployed assessment and response teams to provide immediate relief to affected families,” OCHA said in a tweet on Wednesday.

As per the Taliban-led Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan, more than four people were killed and about 80 others injured in the country’s Badakhshan, Takhar and Laghman provinces.

The State Ministry for Natural Disaster Management under the caretaker Taliban regime reported that 63 houses had been destroyed and some cattle damaged were lost due to the powerful earthquake.

According to the official report, the damaged and destroyed houses were located in the Jurm district of Badakhshan province and were lost due to the collapse of the roofs of the houses, Khaama Press reported.

A powerful earthquake of 6.8 magnitudes on Tuesday shook Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries. The earthquake’s epicentre was 40 Km to the south-Southeast of Jurm district in Afghanistan’s Hindukush Mountain in Badakhshan province, bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan, said US Geological Survey.

Source: ThePrint

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Fists fly in Taliban meet, education board chairman breaks arm

Chandan Prakash

March 23, 2023

New Delhi: The Taliban’s Minister of Higher Education Sheikh Neda left with a broken arm after he entered into an intense scuffle with the Chairman of the ‘Independent Examination Board’ Sheikh Baqi Haqqani over the board’s marking of examination papers.

In a tweet shared by local journalist Bilal Sarwary, he said that fist fight has become a daily affair in Taliban cabinet meetings.

“Taliban’s MoHE Sheikh Neda & Chairman of Independent Examination Board Sheikh Baqi Haqqani got into brawl over the Board’s marking of examination papers. Sheikh Baqi complained to Haqqanis that resulted in a subsequent altercation in which Sheikh Neda’s arm broke,” he tweeted.


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ACCI Charity Fund That Helped Poor During Ramadan Has Closed

By HadiaZiaei

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said that its charity fund has been eliminated and that the traders are individually providing aid to people in need.

The ACCI didn’t provide details about the scale of the aid provided by businesspeople.

“First, the number of traders and investors has dropped, and on the other hand, they are donating individually,” said KhanjanAlokozai, a member of the ACCI.

Ramadan comes as the UN estimated that 28.3 million people need various types of humanitarian assistance at different levels.

TOLOnews reach out to several vulnerable residents of Kabul, who are struggling with economic difficulties.

Karimullah, 45, is working on a Kabul street. He carries various items to sell in a wheelbarrow.

Karimullah said that he is not able to provide food for his family at the time of Iftar.

“There is no good food. I had tea with bread for the (early breakfast),” Karimullah told TOLOnews.

Meanwhile, residents of Kabul called on the Islamic Emirate to consider the situation of vulnerable people.

“Today was the first day of Ramadan. I eat bread with tea… I call on the traders to provide aid in the holy month of Ramadan,” said Ali Madad, a resident of Kabul.

“This is a holy month of Ramadan. However, we don’t have food for Iftar and Sahr (breakfast),” Abdullah, a resident of Kabul.


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Jordan Urges International Community To Take A Stand Against Hate Speech Fuelling Violence In Occupied Palestine

March 23, 2023

AMMAN: Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister has called on the international community to take a clear stand against hate speech fueling violence and conflict in occupied Palestine.

Ayman Safadi, who is also Jordan’s minister of foreign affairs and expatriates, pointed to the danger of extremist racist ideology, manifested in a “reckless and disgusting manner” in the statement of Israel’s Minister of Finance Betzalel Smotrich.

Jordan’s News Agency reported on Wednesday that the Israeli minister had denied the existence of the Palestinian people and their historical rights, and presented a map of Israel that included the occupied state of Palestine and Jordan.

In a phone call with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Safadi stressed that Israel’s government should bear the responsibility for “hate speech, racist incitement, and the disgusting behavior of the Israeli minister.”

The government must declare its rejection openly and clearly, he said.

“Staying silent in the face of such statements and racist positions under the pretext of protecting government coalition is unacceptable and dangerous, and will only fan the flames of tension and further spread this extremist ideology.”

Borrell also denounced the Israeli minister’s statements, describing them as “dangerous and unacceptable,” and urged the Israeli government to take a stand.

The EU rejects all unilateral Israeli measures, underscoring its firm position that supports the two-state solution as a way to achieve peace, he added.

The two parties discussed the dangerous deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories, underlining the need to halt all measures that fuel violence and undermine the chances of a comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution.

Safadi and Borrell also discussed the outcomes of the recent Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh meetings on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Jordan’s efforts to help relaunch negotiations to end the violence.

Source: Arab News

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At Ramadan, Atiku, Bello urge hope, sacrifice, supplication

By Ibrahim Obansa, Lokoja

24 March 2023

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25, 2023 poll, Atiku Abubakar, has charged Nigerians on hope, sacrifice and holiness in this period of Ramadan.

In a statement, the former Vice President said: “As Muslims, we understand that the basic tenets of this holy month is about sacrifice and devotion in worship to God.

“For us as Nigerians, this year’s Ramadan has come at a time when our dear country is at crossroads. For us as individuals and as a people, we are at a point of despondency and confusion.

“But the month of Ramadan has come to us as a blessing from the Almighty with an opportunity for us to wash away our worries, doubts and hopelessness.

“It is quite clear that the essential principles of this holy month are what is needed to heal our wounds, both as individuals and as a country. First is the importance of sacrifice not just to our families and the people around us, but to the cause of peace.

And second, is the requirement of piety from us all in the worship of God.”

ALSO, Governor Yahaya Bello has sought prayers for Kogi State and the entire nation.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Onogwu Muhammed, the governor charged faithful to identify with peace, kindness, love and respect for others, which the religion promotes.

He noted that the period also seeks supplication for progress.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Ramadan: Muslim faithful in Abuja express excitement, seek national rebirth

By Ajuluchukwu Brown, Abuja

24 March 2023

Muslim faithful in Abuja, yesterday, expressed excitement that the month of Ramadan will bring blessing and peace in the country.

They stressed the need for national rebirth during the month of Ramadan.

Reflecting on Ramadan, a Muslim faithful, Isah Anas, said the month compels adherents to get into the spirit, tenets and essence of the season.

He said:  “Allahamdullillah, we thank God for the month of Ramadan. We sighted the moon Wednesday night. We thank God that this year we sighted it in Abuja. It is very rare to have it in Abuja. I’m very excited to see the moon. We hope the month comes with goodies for the whole nation, not only for the Muslim community. All the political crises happening within the country, we pray that God will take them away by the virtue of this holy month. And then for the economy, we pray that God will improve it this year.”

Another Muslim, Ahmed Abubakar Gumi said: “Muslim faithful all over the world, particularly in Nigeria, are excited because we have been waiting for the holy month to come. This is the month the Quran was built, it is very important to us all. The cash crunch will not affect Sadaka, because it is a long-term plan. Anybody that intends to feed people must have long prepared for it.

The only point where the cash crunch could affect Ramadan is in buying little things like tomatoes, meat, seasoning, and other items that don’t have a long shelf life.  My message for Muslims is that they should share the little they have and pray for Nigeria and the incoming leaders”.

An Abuja resident, also urged Muslims to always uphold the essence of the season even after it ends.

She said: “The season is all about praying, five times and sharing love. It’s a time when Muslims emulate the exemplary life of the great prophet. I urge my fellow Muslims to keep the essence of this holy month even after fasting. Let love reign among Muslims and non-Muslims.”

A food vendor, Joy Idara said: “The excitement might not be like that of last year, given that the country is not at its best, but there is still excitement. I fry Bean cakes (akara) every morning. Muslims are my major customers, as fasting has commenced I will have to start frying in the evenings to cater for them.”

I wish all Muslims a blessed fasting season. We hope for a country not divided by religion. I hope the fasting comes with the blessings that follow.”

The chief  Imam of  Nepa Road Mosque, Kubwa, Aminu Ismail Shira, who gave insight into the season said it’s obligatory for all Muslims who attain the age of puberty to fast throughout the month (moon) of Ramadan. He also urged Muslims to pray for the country.

On the effect the cash crunch will have on the season, the Imam said: “Sure the cash crunch is telling on us. People don’t have enough cash to buy commodities and when transfers or withdrawals via Point of Sale (PoS) are done, these monies are always hanging due to network issues.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Ramadan: Gov Buni tells Muslims to seek Allah’s forgiveness

March 23, 2023

By Shehu Usman

The Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni has admonished Muslim faithful in the state to seek Allah’s forgiveness and internalise the teachings of the holy month of Ramadan for a secure and prosperous country.

Buni in a statement issued on Thursday through his media aide, Mamman Mohammed, also congratulated the faithful for the opportunity to witness the holy month of the Islamic calendar and the bountiful benefits contained in.

“I congratulate us all for this rare opportunity which by the grace of Allah (SWT) our lives are spared and granted good health to reap the rich benefits in this holy month,” he said.

The governor charged the faithful to have a sober reflection, seek Allah’s forgiveness, internalise the teachings of the Holy Ramadan, build new relationships and pray for security and prosperity of the state and country in general.

Buni also reminded the faithful of the need to engage in acts of worship and prayers against wasting time on trivial issues and arguments.

He assured that his government would continue to promote peace and peaceful coexistence across the state as well as concentrate on people-oriented projects and policies that would improve the lives of people.

Source: DailyPostNigeria

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Bathily: All Libyan parties should be inspired by the values of tolerance from the blessed month of Ramadan.


Tripoli, 23 March 2023 (Lana) The Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Abdulaye Bathily, expressed his wishes that all Libyan parties would be inspired by the blessed month of Ramadan the values of tolerance, self-detachment, making concessions and meeting on one word for the sake of Libya and its people. This came in a message addressed by the UN envoy to the Libyans on the occasion of the blessed month of Ramadan, wishing that this holy month will return to everyone in Libya with goodness, Yemen and blessings.

He said in a message published by the mission on its Facebook page, "The month of Ramadan falls this year, amid the expectation of Libyan women and men with fear in light of the continuing political crisis, but expressed hope that political leaders will agree on a national solution that avoids further division and instability, and moves it towards safety."

Source: LANA

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Jordanian, Bosnian ministries exchange tourism development ideas

March 23, 2023

AMMAN: Imad Hijazin, secretary-general of Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, has received a delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism, agencies, and representatives from the country’s Developing Sustainable Tourism project.

The purpose of the visit is to exchange ideas in tourism development, including marketing and archeological site preservation, Jordan News Agency reported.

Jordan holds benefits for all types of traveler, Hijazin said, adding that the National Tourism Strategy 2021-2025 had five main aims: product development, human resource development, marketing, heritage maintenance and management, and reforms.

The tourism industry is Jordan’s largest contributor to the economy and job creation, bringing in revenue of $5.7 billion in 2022 while welcoming around 5 million tourists.

Source: Arab News

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Pakistan’s new turmoil around Imran exposes old fault lines

Mar 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s mayhem has been exposing flaws in the functioning of its political system, in place for most part of its history.

While attempts to demolish status quo were made in the past too and failed, it seems more serious this time as former PM Imran Khan has challenged the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government and the military establishment -- the two key stakeholders of the system.

It appears a do-or-die situation for both sides. The military -- or status quo forces that nurtured Imran and his predecessors -- has been strategising behind the scenes as the ex-PM’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the government lock horns.

Amid this tussle, courts may have a key role to play. Pakistani courts have, in addition to their legal responsibilities, carved a political role for themselves following a lawyers’ movement in 2007.

Imran, for one, stands for early polls. The government wants his disqualification, arrest and postponement of elections. The military defends the status quo.

The Supreme Court has ordered elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) – two provinces where Imran’s PTI had dissolved its governments. Even as the poll date in KP is yet to be announced, the election commission on Thursday postponed the April 30 elections in Punjab, citing security reasons.

Over the past few weeks, PTI workers and supporters have fought pitched battles with the law-enforcement agencies in Lahore and Islamabad, successfully resisting all attempts to arrest Imran.

Imran has, however, warned that the government and its handlers (army) want to eliminate him. He described a December 2022 assassination attempt and registration of 143 cases as a “death trap” laid for him.

The cricketer-turned-politician told supporters on Wednesday night that the Shehbaz-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government planned to bump him off like Murtaza Bhutto -- who was killed by police in Karachi in September 1996 when his sister Benazir Bhutto led the government.

According to Imran, the government has devised a plan to conduct an operation inside his home in Lahore in a day or two.

“They have formed two squads that will mix with the PTI workers and fire at policemen,” Imran told party workers and supporters via video link, alleging that Punjab and Islamabad police chiefs and their handlers (army, ISI) had devised the plan.

“I want to tell Punjab police that five police personnel will be killed by them (the government and its handlers),” he claimed, adding that after the possible carnage, the cops would enter his residence and kill him.

The government, nonetheless, has vowed stern action against PTI, describing it a faction of militants trained by banned outfits. Following a police raid on Imran’s house last week, interior (home) minister Rana Sanaullah had alleged that terrorists were hiding in and around the PTI chief’s residence in Lahore.

Source: Times Of India

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UN: Pakistan Mission flooded with calls for protection of Christians

23 March, 2023

New York [US], March 23 (ANI): With the increasing number of attacks on Christians in Pakistan, various Christian organizations in the United States as well as human rights organisations, have been pressuring the Pakistan Mission in the United Nations to take concrete steps to protect the community, Just Earth News (JEN) reported.

The Mission has received hundreds of such letters over the past year, sources informed.

Incidentally, the increase in the attacks against Christians has coincided with the worsening law and order situation in Pakistan, due to the crumbling economy and deteriorating political situation, JEN reported.

These letters of protest by the organizations point to the systematic persecution of Christians, resulting in unjust punishments citing blasphemy, forced marriages of young Christian girls to older Muslim men, forced conversions in various parts of Pakistan and usurping of land and belongings of Christians. Recently, two Christian farmers were killed in two separate attacks In Pakistan.

Earlier in February 2023, Muhammad Waseem, a Muslim landowner in Punjab’s Khanewal district assaulted and killed Emmanuel Masih, a Christian farm labourer after falsely accusing him of stealing oranges from his property.

Similarly, a Christian guava farmer Allah Ditta was gunned down for resisting the stealing of his precious fruits by three Muslim youths. In both cases, the accused are still roaming free. Christian organizations have also highlighted the forceful marriage of a 15-year-old Christian girl, Sitara Arif, to a 60-year-old Muslim man, named Rana Tayyab.

Sitara was kidnapped last December and a case was registered only after two months despite repeated attempts by her family members.

Last year, a Christian priest, William Siraj, was gunned down in Pakistan’s northwest, in a targeted attack against the priests of the Church of Pakistan. Similarly, Christian schools in Pakistan which are run for poor Christian families are also targeted in the name of providing security, JEN reported.

In one such incident, a group of Islamists ransacked a school and looted the money meant for food and education of poor students in Sheikhpura city in Punjab province.

Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country, has a long history of Christian persecution. The country’s blasphemy laws have been used to target Christians and other religious minorities, leading to unjust imprisonment, torture and even death.

Every year, scores of such cases are registered which usually go unresolved. Many desist from complaining to the local law enforcement agencies as it will result in further isolation and targeted attacks, JEN reported.

The overall result of such targeted discrimination is the dwindling number of Christians in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, introduced in the 1980s, are notoriously vague and open to interpretation. The laws criminalize insults or acts deemed offensive to Islam and can carry severe punishments including the death penalty, JEN reported.

Source: ThePrint

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Pakistan’s new fuel subsidy scheme needs to be agreed before deal: IMF

March 24, 2023

A long-awaited loan agreement between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be signed once a few remaining points, including a proposed fuel pricing scheme, are settled, an IMF official confirmed on Friday.

The coalition government and IMF have been negotiating since early February on an agreement that would release $1.1 billion to the cash-strapped country of 220 million people.

The latest issue is a plan, announced by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif last week, to charge affluent consumers more for fuel, with the money raised used to subsidise prices for the poor, who have been hit hard by inflation, which in February was at its highest in 50 years.

Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik told Reuters on Thursday that his ministry had been given six weeks to work out the pricing plan.

But the IMF’s resident representative in Pakistan, Esther Perez Ruiz, said the government did not consult the fund about the fuel pricing scheme.

Ruiz, in a message to Reuters, confirmed a media report that a staff-level agreement would be signed once a few remaining points, including the fuel scheme, were settled.

She added that the fund would ask the government for more details about the fuel proposal, including how it would be implemented and what protection would be put in place to prevent abuse.

The petroleum and finance ministries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With enough foreign reserves to only cover about four weeks of necessary imports, Pakistan is desperate for the IMF agreement to disperse a $1.1 billion tranche from a $6.5 billion bailout agreed upon in 2019.

The government has already implemented several fiscal measures, including devaluing the rupee, lifting subsidies and raising energy prices as preconditions for the agreement, which Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said this month was “very close”.

Fuel subsidy

Earlier this week, the government shared its strategy for the recently-announced fuel relief programme, which is to be implemented in three phases and will “provide a relief of up to Rs50 per litre to the poor”.

The scheme’s announcement had come days after the government increased the prices of all petroleum products — except the insignificant light diesel oil — by up to Rs13 per litre for the next fortnight.

In a report that detailed the pricing strategy behind the Prime Minister’s Petroleum Relief Programme, the government said it has developed a two-tier pricing programme that would provide relief to two-wheelers (motorcycles), three-wheelers (rickshaws) and small vehicles by dividing the consumers into the categories of “poor” and “rich”.

The programme aims to target roughly 20 million motorcycles and rickshaws (with a capping of 21 litres of fuel) & 1.36m small vehicles (with a capping of 30 litres of fuel) currently active across Pakistan, the report stated.

Using differential pricing wherein the base price of fuel is assumed to be Rs300 per litre, the “poor” will be provided relief of up to Rs50 by charging the “rich” an additional Rs102 per litre.

The resulting assumed prices would be Rs250 for the “poor” and Rs352 for the “rich”.

The report further said that the programme will use two models for its implementation — an e-discount through OTP and a “fuel card”.

The implementation will be done in three phases with the first being an increment in the base fuel price (Rs300) of Rs75 — setting the new price without relief at Rs375 — and the collection of money in an escrow account.

In the second phase, the government will “use two different registration mechanisms to enrol the beneficiaries”.

One mechanism would involve data being uploaded by the Vehicle Registration Authority to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) while the other would have the consumer register their vehicle via SMS.

In the final phase, the discount will be dispersed to the beneficiary after they have registered on the relevant registration portal and a transaction has been processed at the fuel station.

Source: Dawn

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Islamabad court reserves its verdict on Imran’s plea to extend arrest warrant suspension in judge threat case

Umer Burney

March 24, 2023

An Islamabad district and sessions court reserved its verdict on Friday on PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s petition to extend the suspension of an arrest warrant that was issued in a case pertaining to alleged threats to a judge.

On March 13, Senior Civil Judge Rana Mujahid Rahim had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran while hearing a case registered against the ex-premier for using threatening language against ADSJ Zeba Chaudhry and the Islamabad police officials.

After the PTI challenged the warrants in the district court, ADSJ Faizan Haider Gilani on March 14 asked Imran’s counsel to submit security documents in court and had suspended the arrest warrants till March 16.

Today, prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi appeared in ADSJ Gilani’s court along with Imran’s counsel Gohar Ali.

The hearing

Imran’s counsel Advocate Gohar Ali requested the judge to the PTI chief to court on March 30, as he was going to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case at the Islamabad Katcheri, where this hearing was being conducted.

“You may maintain the suspension of the arrest warrant; I can go to the civil court and request for the warrant’s arrest date to be changed from March 29 to March 30,” Ali added.

To this, ADSJ Gilani responded: “What you are saying is odd. You are requesting March 30 while the order for arrest in the warrant is for March 29.”

At this, prosecutor Abbasi remarked: “This would then mean that the court may not even dare to issue an arrest warrant.

“Arguments should be made on merit while requesting for suspension of warrants. The suspect may be a blue-eyed boy for courts but even he is not favoured that much.”

Imran’s lawyer requested that the warrant be extended to March 30, to which ADSJ Gilani replied: “The court can issue any verdict on March 29.”

Advocate Ali said in his client’s defence that the warrants issued in the Toshakhana case were also suspended till March 30.

The judge then asked: “Did Imran Khan ever appear [in the court] in the woman judge [threatening] case?”

At this, the prosecutor said: “Imran Khan has never appeared in this case.

“Advocate Gohar Ali does not even have the power of attorney in the woman judge case,” he argued.

At the conclusion of the arguments from both sides, the court reserved its verdict on Imran’s plea.

The case

The PTI chairman had on August 20, 2022 condemned the police as well as the judiciary over the alleged custodial torture of Shahbaz Gill and announced that his party would file cases against then-Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, the DIG and Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry.

Initially, Imran was booked under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Besides, Islamabad High Court (IHC) also initiated contempt of court proceedings against him.

A month later, the IHC removed the terrorism charges against Imran and also pardoned him after he tendered an apology in the contempt case.
Source: Dawn

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Task force proposed to ‘check’ anti-army campaign

Iftikhar A. Khan

March 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The government is mulling forming a special task force to check social media campaigns against the army, an official source told Dawn on Thursday.

He explained that a summary to set up the task force has been moved but was still awaiting approval. “For now it is just a proposal.”

The proposed task force will comprise officers from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Pak­istan Tele­communication Authority (PTA) and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). The proposed task force will be assisted by the police and other law enforcement agencies and frame recommendations to check the misuse of social media.

The move came at a time when the government has accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its chairman, Imran Khan, of running a vilification campaign against the military.

As widening political polarisation in the country was also reflected in the digital world, several social media trends vilifying the army and its officers have been promoted in the recent past. In Aug 2022, the military expressed strong disapproval of “false propaganda and insensitive comments on social media” after six army officers were martyred in a helicopter crash in Balochistan. Later, the FIA constituted a team to trace and arrest those behind the campaigns.

An official of the interior ministry said eight TikTok accounts, 44 Twitter accounts and more than 50 Facebook accounts have been identified who were allegedly involved in running ‘anti army’ campaigns on social media.

Second attempt

This is the government’s second attempt to quell the army’s criticism on social media in as many months.

In Feb, differences emerged within cabinet members after a bill proposing a crackdown on social media was presented for the apex body’s approval.

During one cabinet meeting, some members observed that the law should also apply to those defaming the parliamentarians while for some, harsh punishment would be tantamount to curbing freedom of expression. The interior ministry had presented the proposal titled Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Source: Dawn

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Imran says ‘enough is enough’ as PTI activist AzharMashwani nabbed

Mansoor Malik

March 24, 2023

LAHORE: PTI social media activist AzharMashwani was picked up on Thursday, apparently on charges of criticising the Punjab police and the caretaker government for allegedly using high-handed tactics against party workers.

The arrest of Mr Mashwani, a former focal person for digital media in Punjab, prompted PTI chief Imran Khan to say, “enough is enough”, as he accused the authorities of abducting the party activist.

“Enough is enough. Police in Punjab and Islamabad are breaking all laws with impunity as they target PTI. Today AzharMashwani was abducted in the afternoon from Lahore and his whereabouts are unknown,” the former prime minister tweeted on Thursday and demanded Mr Mashwani’s immediate release.

On March 18, Senator Shibli Faraz and Omar Sultan were “badly beaten” by Islamabad police, Mr Khan said, insisting that they both had permission to be inside the Judicial Complex, where the PTI chief went to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case day.

Mr Khan said his nephew, Hassaan Niazi, was abducted immediately after getting bail and later charged with “sham FIRs” to keep him locked up.

Former PM says sending pictures of Punjab, Islamabad IGs to international human rights organisations for ’criminal behaviour

“I am sending pictures of IGs [inspectors generals] of Punjab and ICT [Islamabad Capital Territory] and of all officers indulging in this criminal behaviour” to international human rights organisations, he said, “so they can identify those working for the state and indulging in abductions, illegal break-ins into homes, custodial torture and violence against political leaders and unarmed workers of PTI.”

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that Mr Mashwani had been “abducted” after the Punjab’s inspector general of police allegedly used threatening language against the party activist.

In a Twitter post, he said Mr Mashwani should be immediately presented before a court and his offence be explained. “If the IG police thinks he will not even be criticised after torturing and killing party worker Zille Shah, he is living in a fool’s paradise,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Earlier in the day, the PTI also alleged that party worker Malik Qaiser, a union council president in Lahore’s Data Ganj Bakhsh town, was also abducted by the police because he was actively working for the preparations of a PTI rally planned for March 25 at Minar-i-Pakistan.

Source: Dawn

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Khawaja Asif speaks to foreign media in Islamabad

March 24, 2023

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif is addressing a foreign media conference in Islamabad today (Friday) alongside Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

The interaction comes as Pakistan grapples with multiple crises on the political and economical front.

Asif began the press conference by pointing out the “hypocrisy” of the incumbent setup’s arch-rival and former prime minister Imran Khan. “His political journey started with a cipher — in which he had accused the US of conspiring against the PTI government.

“And today, Shireen Mazari has written a letter to the US for him […] the country he once accused of conspiracy … he is now seeking help from them,” he stated.

Asif claimed that the series of events that have taken place after the vote of no-confidence “shows the total sum of Imran’s journey — his dismissal from the government and now his SOS to the US for help”.

Referring to the events of the last few weeks, particularly the ex-premier’s appearance at the Federal Judicial Complex on March 18, Asif stated that nowhere in the world were such scenes witnessed that an accused had refused to appear before the court.

“And when he appears before the court, his attendance is marked while he is sitting in his car, his supporters mob the courts and intimidate them […] they (the courts) come under pressure and face threats.”

On the other hand, he continued, when the police were sent to Imran’s residence for arrests, officials were attacked with slings, petrol bombs, stones and sticks.

“This has never happened in Pakistan before. Even during Imran’s regime, and in the past too, opposition leaders were arrested and they surrendered in a dignified manner.

Source: Dawn

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Southeast Asia


Muslim Lawyers Urge Govt To Fill Three-Month Long Vacancies For Top Two Posts In Malaysia’s Shariah Courts

By Ben Tan

24 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — The positions of Malaysia’s Chief Shariah Court Judge and Shariah Judiciary Department (JKSM) director-general has been vacant for the past three months and needs to be filled immediately, Utusan Malaysia reported today.

The newspaper cited Muslim Lawyers Association president Datuk ZainulRijal Abu Bakar who urged the Public Service Department (PSD) to immediately look into filling the vacancies for both positions as they are important in carrying out Shariah judicial functions.

He said the Chief Shariah Court Judge and JKSM director-general are a key roles in ensuring the empowerment of the Shariah Court.

“Those helming the two posts not only handle court cases, but also coordinate efforts to standardise the management and administration of Shariah Courts nationwide.

“In my view, the vacancies should be filled immediately with a focus on appointing an officer with authority who has the experience and integrity,” ZainulRijal told the Malay daily.

ZainulRijal, who is also a certified mediator and Shariah law commentator, said the two positions have been left vacant for too long and have not been filled since last December.

Both positions were previously held by Datuk Mohd Na'im Mokhtar before he was appointed as Islamic affairs minister last December 3.

ZainulRijal said it was up to the PSD to appoint the person based on the candidate’s seniority and qualification.

Shariah Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Mohd Amran Mat Zain was reported to be temporarily helming the Chief Shariah Court Judge and JKSM director-general posts.

There are currently six judges in the Shariah Court of Appeal who qualify with a Jusa B grade (senior government officer rank), which is the most senior position after the Chief Shariah Judge.

Source: MalayMail

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MAINPP prohibits preachers without credentials to teach in mosques, surau

23-03- 2023

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang State Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) prohibits any party that does not have credentials or does not have permission from the religious authorities to teach, deliver speeches or explain about Islam, including lectures and sermons in mosques and surau in the state.

MAINPP secretary Datuk Samsudin Bakar said the order to determine the procedure for the use of mosques and surau in Penang was effective immediately, as per the circular issued today.

“The rules are in line with the Islamic Religious Administration Enactment (State of Penang) 2004 and the Kariah Committee and Mosque Officers Regulations 1997. MAINPP stresses that the ‘kariah’ (parish) or surau committee can organise any activity in the form of religious talks, lectures, or knowledge sharing which meets the conditions outlined.

“Five-time obligatory prayers and other congregational prayers such as tarawih are only allowed to be led by appointed imams or those authorised by the state authorities,“ he said in a statement today.

He said MAINPP also stipulated that every preacher on duty must read the entire text of the sermon prepared by the Penang Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JHEAIPP) without additions or amendments.

Samsudin said guest preachers were also prohibited from delivering sermons unless they had permission from the state’s religious authorities.

He said that the lectures or sermons delivered must not touch upon issues of party politics and racial or religious sensitivities and must maintain politeness in terms of the language used.

“It is also not allowed to distribute, sell, hang, paste or display any form of publication that contains beliefs, ideologies or doctrines that may touch on the sensitivities of any party in the mosque or surau building and its grounds,“ he said.

He said non-Muslims may enter the mosque and prayer room with the permission of the mosque management on the condition that they maintain good conduct and behavior, respecting the sanctity of the place of worship.

According to him, the rules also stipulate that individuals who hold political positions - including those who have been election candidates within a five-year period - are prohibited from leading prayers, delivering sermons or lectures, or inaugurating any programme organised by mosques and surau, except for MAINPP members.


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Muslim World League chief, Malaysian PM meet in Makkah

March 24, 2023

MAKKAH: Muslim World League Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Makkah on Thursday.

They  discussed the organization’s initiatives of building bridges between communities based on shared values, and joint cooperation to tackle extremism.

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia enjoy strong brotherly ties.

Source: Arab News

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Islamic Development Bank Group president meets Malaysian PM in Jeddah

March 23, 2023

RIYADH: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, president of the Islamic Development Bank Group, has met Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his accompanying delegation in Jeddah, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Al-Jasser said that the meeting reflected Malaysia’s strong relations with the IsDB, referencing the historic agreement signed by Ibrahim — who was deputy prime minister at the time — and the bank in 1994.

He added that the IsDB’s regional office in Kuala Lumpur had become a center of excellence in offering comprehensive solutions in the fields of Islamic finance, halal initiatives, science, technology, and innovation.

Al-Jasser reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to exploring opportunities for further cooperation with Malaysia — in line with its strategic partnership to develop and innovate Islamic financing products — as well as playing its part in strategic capital- intensive projects relating to energy, vaccine production, digital transformation, halal industry promotion, and microbusiness support.

Source: Arab News

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