New Age Islam
Wed Dec 02 2020, 11:30 PM

Islamic World News ( 26 March 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Pope Tempers Easter Sunday Message With Denunciation of Terror


















Pope Francis gave the traditional papal Easter address in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, on Sunday. PHOTO: L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO/ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

England: Buckinghamshire County Museum to Host Display of Islamic Art

ISIL Terrorists, Families Fleeing Palmyra

53 Militants Including ISIS Loyalists Join Peace Process In East Of Afghanistan

 

Europe

Belgium Attack Victim Had Warned Against Demonizing Muslims

UK tabloid censured over story of Muslims' IS support

Belgian riot police called after peace march cancelled

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North America

Edmonton Mosque in Canada Holds Special Prayers for Belgium Bombing Victims

Canadian Muslim: Imam Reza Holy Shrine Is Manifestation of Islamic History, Culture

US Islamic Centre in Arizona Hosts 'Meet a Muslim' Event

Ted Cruz has already won: His absurd plan to police Muslims is already happening

Obama condemns attempts to "stigmatize" Muslims in wake of Brussels attacks

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Arab World

ISIL Terrorists, Families Fleeing Palmyra

FSA Drives out Rival Terrorists from Key Region in Dara'a Province

Syrian Army Pushes Back ISIL Further, Comes Very Close to Palmyra Airport

Clamoring for War: Belgium Airstrikes Cannot Remove ISIL

Syrian Army Wins Back Strategic Regions in Homs, Cuts ISIL's Raqqa-Palmyra Supply Route

Kurdish Forces Win Back Key Village in Raqqa Province

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South Asia

53 Militants Including ISIS Loyalists Join Peace Process In East Of Afghanistan

ISIS Militants among 46 Killed In Latest Clearance Operations: MoD

11 ISIS Loyalists Including a Foreigner Killed In Nangarhar Airstrike

Taliban commander among several killed or wounded in Nuristan airstrike

Afghan forces retake full control of Khanshin district in Helmand

Infiltrated soldier returns to battalion after killing two Taliban in Faryab

Taliban kills provincial judge in Afghanistan

NDS seize 118 weapons with over 20,000 ammunition rounds in Parwan

Gen. Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor supporters end tensions in Faryab

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Pakistan

ATC Declares Altaf, Other MQM Leaders Proclaimed Offenders

Saudi Arabia Executes Pakistani Convicted Of Murder

At Least Three Dead after Explosion in Lahore's Gulshan-I-Iqbal Park

Singer-turned-evangelist, Junaid Jamshed assaulted by charged crowd at Islamabad airport

Rouhani denies discussing 'RAW's involvement in Balochistan' with Pakistani leadership

Accord with Iran to boost trade, energy ties

Arrested 'RAW agent' trained separatists to target Pakistani ports: security official

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Africa

Lawyers of Islamic Movement in Nigeria declare terms of JCI hypocritical as they pull out

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Mideast

Gov’t to Speed up Process for New Constitution with Presidential System: PM

Turkey Hits ISIL Positions in Northern Iraq after Turkish Soldier Killed

Turkey, Jordan boost ties amid Syrian crisis

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India

Team of Investigators Probing Pathankot Attack Arrives In New Delhi

PM Modi likely to meet Nawaz Sharif in Washington DC on March 31

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pope-tempers-easter-sunday-message-with-denunciation-of-terror/d/106772

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Pope Tempers Easter Sunday Message With Denunciation of Terror

By DEBORAH BALL

March 27, 2016

In his Easter Sunday address to the world, Pope Francis launched a message of hope for strife-torn nations in the Middle East and Africa, while denouncing “blind and brutal” violence wrought by terrorists and decrying counties who refuse “welcome and assistance” for migrants and refugees.

In his twice yearly “Urbi et Orbi” address, Pope Francis capped a Holy Week that has unfolded in the shadow of the terrorist attacks in Belgium, a deadly assault in an Iraqi stadium and deep discord over the fate of tens of thousands of migrants stranded in the Balkans and Greece.

“Our world is full of persons suffering in body and spirit, even as the daily news is full of stories of brutal crimes which often take place within homes, and large-scale armed conflicts which cause indescribable suffering to entire peoples,” said the pope.

Throughout this year’s Holy Week ceremonies, Pope Francis has used powerful words and gestures to denounce terrorism and war, while at the same time expressing faith in the power of interreligious dialogue to stop violence and heal divisions. The 79-year-old pontiff has been unwavering in his faith in the power of dialogue with Islam, once saying he would be willing to speak with Islamic State terrorists in the name of peace.

On Holy Thursday, the pope traveled to a migrant reception center outside of Rome to perform the traditional Holy Thursday feet-washing ceremony. The pope washed the feet of eight men and four women, including Eritrean Coptic Christians, Nigerian Catholics, a Hindu man from India and three Muslims from Pakistan, Mali and Syria. “We are children of the same God, who want to live in peace,” he said.

During Good Friday services in Rome—which took place under heavy security—the pope used strong language to decry terrorism, alluding to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in recalling “our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence.”

He blasted “terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions that profane the name of God and that use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence.”

In his “Urbi et Orbi” address on Sunday, Pope Francis recalled not only the assault this week in Brussels that killed 28 people, but also attacks in Turkey, Nigeria and other African countries. He prayed for the success of ongoing talks to broker a solution to the Syrian war and for peace in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

Even while he offered a grim inventory of violence and suffering, much of the pope’s address on Sunday morning was imbued with hope. “Weapons of love” can bring salvation “before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind,” he said.

The pope dedicated a lengthy passage to the plight of migrants, a deeply divisive issue in Europe, where a number of countries have closed their borders to keep the new arrivals out and where migrant aid groups and some politicians have blasted a new agreement to detain migrants, including Syrian refugees, arriving in Greece and return them to Turkey. Pope Francis has frequently called for national leaders to open their doors to the migrants, a stance that has earned him some criticism from anti-immigration politicians.

During Good Friday prayers, Pope Francis said “the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas…have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anesthetized conscience.” On Sunday, he recalled “ever more numerous throngs of migrants and refugees—including many children—fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice.

“All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance,” said the Argentina-born pontiff.

During his appearances in the past week, the pope also reiterated his concern for the destruction of the environment, criticized corrupt public officials and denounced arms dealers—all frequent themes of his papacy.

The ceremonies this week have unfolded amid tight security, which has been stepped up after terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels and in the wake of public threats by Islamic State members to attack the Vatican. But the pope delighted the crowd assembled under sunny skies Sunday morning when he toured St. Peter’s Square in his open-topped popemobile.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pope-francis-celebrates-easter-sunday-mass-amid-tight-security-1459073447

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Edmonton Mosque in Canada Holds Special Prayers for Belgium Bombing Victims

March 26, 2016

Slowly, the worshippers in the packed building joined their voices with their imam.

Together, as their voices swelled, they prayed for those in Brussels.

One of the voices belonged to Nudrat Mansoor.

Humanity comes before religion. Humanity comes before all else," said Mansoor. "You're not a good person following a faith if you're not loyal to other humans."

"So we prayed, we had tears in our eyes, we cared for those people who lost family members."

Mansoor — president of the mosque's women's association — says the vigil was organized to honour those lost in the bombing in Belgium and to condemn the attack.

"Peace was the main concern and today, we wanted our youth to know that whatever happens you can't be sitting quietly and not doing anything about it," she said.

The back-to-back bombings left 31 people dead and hundreds injured.

Mansoor said events like this provoke fear and distrust against Muslims. She feels it is important for those in the mosque, especially young members, to engage with the community about their religion when events like this happen.

Mohyuddin Mirza said as a Muslim community in Edmonton, they are always concerned about what goes on globally in the name of Islam.

"That is not the Islam that we preach and that we practice," said Mirza, an outreach director with the mosque.

"We strongly want to condemn this action and let Edmontonians and people around the world know that what they're doing is not Islamic. Such an act should be condemned at every level."

Mirza said there has been a backlash every time an attack happens. People have called the mosque leaving negative messages on their machines. Those at the mosque confront the callers with friendliness and attempt to talk to them about Islam, he said.

He is left depressed when people use the faith he holds so dear to justify violence, but he knows he has to take a stand.

"After some time, rationality comes in and [overtakes] the depression and I have to fight back with my knowledge."

Meanwhile, Mansoor feels the only way to overcome terrorists and attacks like the one in Brussels is by banding together, regardless of race, religion or any other factor.

"When we are strong – when we are together, then nobody can make that hole between us."

http://en.abna24.com/service/america/archive/2016/03/26/743265/story.html

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ISIL Terrorists, Families Fleeing Palmyra

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA) - Military sources reported on Saturday that a large number of terrorists and their families are fleeing the ISIL stronghold city of Palmyra (Tadmur) as the Syrian army troops alongside popular forces are only inches away from a major conquest and winning the ancient city.

Battlefield sources said the ISIL Takfiri terrorists are in such a rush that they have "left behind their dead and wounded friends and fled their positions in Palmyra".

The ISIL's mass escape comes as the Syrian army continues its advances towards Palmyra city center from the Western side of the ancient city where they could penetrate the ISIL's defense lines on Wednesday and made a headway in bloody clashes with the terrorists.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Syrian army and popular forces seized control over the terrorists' vital line of supply to the West and Southwest of Palmyra.

The army units took full control of ISIL's Quaryatayn-Palmyra supply route in a bid to prevent flow of supplies to the ISIL terrorists in the Western and Southwestern parts of Palmyra.

The ISIL's logistic and supply routes from the West and Southwestern parts of Palmyra are disconnected now.

The Syrian army also managed to disconnect Quaryatayn and Palmyra from each other by taking full control over the Quaryatayn-Palmyra highway.

The Syrian army's special troops known as Tiger Forces are engaged in heavy fighting with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the streets of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Eastern part of Homs province.

The ISIL terrorists are trying hard to prevent the Syrian army from making further advances in Palmyra city as the street battle between the two sides is intensifying.

The ISIL militants have sustained heavy casualties and losses in fierce clashes with the Syrian army in recent days.

The Syrian army has made considerable advances in the areas near Palmyra city and taken full control of a strategic ancient castle near the Palmyra city.

On Friday, the Syrian government forces and Desert Falcons fighters gained control over a strategically important height near Palmyra.

The Syrian Army and Desert Falcons on Friday won another battle in Eastern Homs after hours of fierce clashes with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers and their allies have pushed back the Takfiri terrorists in the region near the ancient city of Palmyra, and captured the Qalaat Fakhr ad-Din al-Maani Castle, known as the "Palmyra Castle".

The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have kept on marching on militant-held regions in Eastern Homs province in recent days to capture the strategic city of Palmyra which has been under the control of the ISIL since May 2015.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000502

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53 Militants Including ISIS Loyalists Join Peace Process In East Of Afghanistan

By GHANIZADA - Sun Mar 27 2016

Scores of anti-government armed militants have joined peace process in the restive eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, local officials said Sunday.

Provincial governor Salim Khan Kunduzi said 53 militants including four commanders leading the militants surrendered to the Afghan government by renouncing violence.

He said 43 of the militants were fighting in Taliban group’s ranks and 10 others were affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

Welcoming the militants decision to join peace process, Kunduzi called on other militant groups to renounce violence and join peace process.

One of the militants who joined peace process said he was previously working for the Taliban group and later joined the ISIS ranks but he said he never knew who was leading the ISIS loyalists in Afghanistan.

He said the majority of ISIS loyalists are comprised of foreigners mainly Pakistani nationals who are busy with training of the militants in Afghanistan.

This comes as the loyalists of the ISIS terror group received major setbacks in eastern Nangarhar province during the recent months as a result of the mounting airstrikes by US forces and ground operations by the Afghan forces.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the loyalists of the terror group are looking to shift the area of their operations from Nangahar to eastern Kunar province in a bid to escape the ongoing operations.

http://www.khaama.com/53-militants-including-isis-loyalists-join-peace-process-in-east-of-afghanistan-0450

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Europe

 

Belgium Attack Victim Had Warned Against Demonizing Muslims

Mar 26, 2016

A woman killed in Tuesday's bombing in Brussels had warned four months earlier that demonizing Muslims would help drive recruitment of extremists.

Sascha Pinczowski posted on Facebook after the November Paris attacks that "Ignorant spreading of anti-Muslim sentiment and propaganda does nothing but benefit ISIS."

The 26-year-old Pinczowski was a Dutch national living in New York. She and her brother, Alexander, were among those killed in Brussels.

Pinczowski's Nov. 16 Facebook post was reposted by her mother, Marjan Pinczowski Fasbender.

The mother wrote that she wanted to share "this message of tolerance from our Dear Daughter Sascha."

The private Facebook post was provided to The Associated Press by James Cain, whose daughter, Cameron, was engaged to Alexander Pinczowski.

He is serving as a spokesman for the family.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/belgium-attack-victim-warned-demonizing-muslims-37951115

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UK tabloid censured over story of Muslims' IS support

March 27, 2016

London (AFP) - Britain's press regulator on Saturday censured Rupert Murdoch's The Sun tabloid for a "significantly misleading" story claiming one in five British Muslims sympathise with jihadist fighters.

The ruling on the front-page story from November comes amid heightened community tensions following the Brussels attacks this week claimed by the Islamic State group, which left 31 people dead.

The mass-selling daily claimed an exclusive poll revealed "1 in 5 Brit Muslims' sympathy for jihadis", and published a picture of Mohammed Emwazi, the British IS executioner known as Jihadi John, alongside the shock headline.

The story generated more than 3,000 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), most of them challenging the coverage on the grounds of accuracy.

A graph inside the paper clarified that five percent of those surveyed had a lot of sympathy, 14 percent had some sympathy and 71 percent had no sympathy with "young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria".

Complainants argued that the question did not specifically mention the Islamic State group, and could include those fighting against IS jihadists.

The Sun had denied that the wording of its poll was ambiguous, saying that previous questions in the telephone survey had made explicit reference to the IS group.

IPSO noted that the paper had provided various interpretations of the poll result inside but concluded that "the coverage was significantly misleading".

The Sun published the adjudication on page 2 of the newspaper's Saturday edition as required by the regulator.

http://news.yahoo.com/uk-tabloid-censured-over-story-muslims-support-192058813.html

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Muslim Man Arrested For Murder of 'Pakistani Ahmadi' Shopkeeper in Glasgow

AFP |

LONDON: A day after a man believed to be an Ahmadi shopkeeper was killed in Glasgow, police arrested a Muslim man in connection with the murder.

Asad Shah, 40, was killed on Thursday night after he had posted messages on Facebook calling for religious harmony: "Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation."

Police arrested a 32-year-old Muslim man on Friday, and a spokeswoman said: "A full investigation is underway to establish the full circumstances surrounding the death which is being treated as religiously prejudiced."

Vigils were held on Friday night in memory of Shah who, media reports claim, was originally from Pakistan.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ahmadiyya community in the UK condemned the "completely brutal, horrific and unjustified attack".

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined a vigil for Shah outside his shop on Friday night, while locals gathered again on Saturday to pay tribute to a man they said was a pillar of the community.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248251/muslim-man-arrested-for-murder-of-pakistani-ahmadi-shopkeeper-in-glasgow

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Belgian riot police called after peace march canceled

Mar 27, 2016 10:57 AM EDT

BRUSSELS - In a sign of the tensions in the Belgian capital and the way security services are stretched across the country, a planned "March Against Fear" in the city planned for Sunday was canceled at the interior minister's urging.

"We understand fully the emotions," Interior Minister Jan Jambon told reporters. "We understand that everyone wants to express these feelings."

But, he said, "we invite the citizens not to have this demonstration." Instead of a peace march, far right-wing demonstrators took to the streets of Brussels.

The BBC reports the self-described "fascists" tried to storm a central square in Brussels, where police beat them back with a water cannon. Photos quickly circulated after their arrival in the square of black-clad men trampling the makeshift memorial to victims of the terrorist attacks. The British news agency reports "the group confronted Muslim women in the crowds, made Nazi salutes and chanted."

White-helmeted riot police were involved in the attempt to control the right-wing protesters, which public broadcaster RTBF said numbered between 500 and 1,000.

Reuters reports Prime Minister Charles Michel condemned the demonstrations.

"It is highly inappropriate that protesters have disrupted the peaceful reflection at the Bourse (stock exchange)," he said according to Belga news agency.

The mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, claimed the crowd was from other towns, in particular Antwerp, who came to the capital to provoke peaceful mourners, according to Reuters.

Much like in France after the Paris attacks, public interest in fiery far-right nationalistic populism has exploded in popularity. Vocativ reports Facebook likes for Vlaams Belang, the right-wing populist party from Flanders, has surged more than 3,000 percent.

Meanwhile, Belgium's government sought to contain criticism of its handling of the Brussels attacks on Sunday but acknowledged that neglect over decades had caused deficiencies that have hampered an effective response to violent extremism.

Jambon said the government has invested 600 million euros ($670 million) into police and security services over the past two years but said its antiquated justice system and security services were still lagging behind.

Jambon, whose offer to resign on Thursday was declined by the prime minister, said errors were made prior to the March 22 suicide bombing attacks in Brussels that killed at least 31 people and wounded 270 others.

But, speaking on the VRT network, Jambon said hiring anti-terror specialists and specialized equipment does not happen in weeks or months and insisted that new investments need time before they become visible to the public.

As international pressure on Belgium mounted for serving as an unwitting rear-base for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist fighters who launched the Nov. 13 massacres that left 130 dead in Paris, the government has been forced to defend its choices and the actions of investigators. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are demanding an inquiry.

Belgian police and the army have been deployed, sometimes around the clock, at major buildings and sites in the capital in increasing numbers since November, when Brussels went into lockdown over fears that top Paris suspect Salah Abdeslam had returned and was hiding there.

As it turned out, Abdeslam did return, but police did not find and arrest him until March 18, four days before suspects from his network exploded suicide bombs in Brussels.

Belgian investigators have been slammed for not questioning Abdeslam long enough or hard enough after he was shot in the leg during his arrest. Police have also been criticized for taking too long to get to Zaventem airport on Tuesday morning after two suicide bombers blew themselves up there - and left an even bigger third suitcase full of explosives.

"There have been errors," Jambon said Sunday, when questioned by VRT television about his offer to resign.

Jambon and Justice Minister Keen Goens were grilled by lawmakers Friday over how authorities failed to arrest suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui before he blew himself in the packed departure hall at Brussels Airport.

Turkey has said that Bakraoui - whose brother Khalid was the suicide bomber at the Maelbeek subway station on Tuesday - was caught near Turkey's border with Syria in 2015 and Ankara had warned Brussels and the Netherlands that he was "a foreign terrorist fighter." Belgian authorities said they did not know he was suspected of terror-related activities until after he was deported to the Netherlands.

Jambon also said the Brussels subway network had been told to shut off services 20 minutes before the attack in the city's Maelbeek subway station - close to European Union headquarters and the U.S. embassy. He did not fully explain why it was not closed in time, raising more questions about the efficiency of Belgium's security services.

"It serves no purpose looking for polemics, considering the circumstances," Jambon said.

On Sunday, Italian police in the southern city of Salerno said they had arrested an Algerian wanted in Belgium for an alleged false ID crime ring facilitating illegal migration linked to the attacks in Paris.

In the center of Brussels, a "march against fear" planned for Sunday was cancelled after Jambon asked people to stay away since police were too stretched to provide security and were needed for the ongoing investigations into the Brussels attacks.

Instead on early Sunday, numerous members of the Vlaams Belang party, whose primary position is seeking independence for Flanders, the Flemish speaking portion of Belgium, took to the streets outside the old stock exchance in Brussels.

After the Paris attacks, Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration National Front made large electoral gains in France after having spent years staking out a position that plays on fears of terrorism and immigration.

At the Maelbeek subway station, messages of sadness, solidarity and grief left for victims of the bomb attack there were being collected for storage in the Belgian capital's archives.

The messages were being laid out Sunday on absorbent paper to dry after overnight rain and carefully stacked for transport. Those that can't be taken for safekeeping were being photographed.

"We are trying to collect as many documents we can find and they will be preserved," promised head archivist Frederic Boquet.

Marina Queralt, who often walks with her dog by the Maelbeek station, said the public response to the attacks has been spontaneous and focused on peace.

"Every morning, every afternoon, (the site) was packed with people who wanted just one thing: that people stop killing each other," she said.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/belgian-peace-march-canceled-but-right-wing-hits-streets/

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North America

 

England: Buckinghamshire County Museum to Host Display of Islamic Art

March 27, 2016

Organizers claimed it is the largest display of Islamic art ever seen in public in the county or anywhere in the South East outside the great museums.

Treasures on display include carpets, paintings, furniture, metalwork, jewellery and calligraphy from across Asia as well as one of the largest collections of the Qur'ans in the country.

Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust is organizing the Art of Islam Festival, which runs from today until September 24.

It will be centred at the Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury, but more than 100 associated events are planned across the county in collaboration with mosques, libraries and arts venues.

Events are proposed in Chesham, Aylesbury and High Wycombe and Milton Keynes, and include opportunities for visitors to experience Islamic literature, poetry, ceramics, painting, music, calligraphy and textiles.

The exhibition has been boosted by a grant of £49.950 from the Arts Council which will help fund events around the county.

The exhibits will be borrowed from the British Museum, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, the Horniman Museum in London and from a major private collection owned by renowned UK collector and philanthropist Razwan Baig.

Richard de Peyer, Director of the Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust, said: "At a time like this when there's such stress internationally between Islam and the Western World, such awful issues around terrorism and extremism, we felt we have a social duty as well as a museum duty.

"In the museum's collection we have virtually nothing to represent the Muslim world and yet if you look around Buckinghamshire maybe 8 to 10 percent of the whole population is Muslim.

"We are hugely excited by this exhibition. It's one of the biggest and most ambitious we have organized and the exhibits are simply stunning.

Details of the other festival events have not yet been fully announced but include schools activities in drama and graphic art, arts award workshops for geometric design, talks, garden events and entertainments with an Islamic theme.

http://en.abna24.com/service/europe/archive/2016/03/27/743491/story.html

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Canadian Muslim: Imam Reza Holy Shrine is manifestation of Islamic history, culture

March 27, 2016

“Razavi Holy Shrine is the manifestation of Islamic history and culture and Shiites must be grateful to this magnanimous Imam” a Canadian Muslim said.

“Razavi Holy Shrine is the manifestation of Islamic history and culture and Shiites must be grateful to this magnanimous Imam” a Canadian Muslim said.

"Shabnam Senasra", among a gathering of 22 non-Iranian Muslim pilgrims from Canada in the vicinity of the Razavi Holy Shrine said, “I am a Muslim teacher from Canada, I teach in elementary school and the chance for Samen al-Hujaj (A.S.) pilgrimage has been given to me for the first time”.

“In the few days that we have been in Mashhad, acknowledging the presence of this magnanimous Imam and recourse and resort to his sacred realm has given all members of our group strength and spiritual power” he stated, satisfied with services provided to the pilgrims in the illuminated Razavi Shrine.

“Imam Reza (A.S.) Shrine in terms of religious status has a special position and I have traveled to Mashhad as a lover of the household of the Apostle of God (S.A.W.) to visit this magnanimous Imam” the Canadian lady continued.

“Islamic art and architecture used in porticoes and courtyards of the of Imam Reza (A.S.) Shrine are noteworthy and impressive” the Canadian pilgrim said.

“Mashhad is a fine city for tourism and traveling, and historical sites and mosques of this city are very remarkable” he said, expressing satisfaction with the visit to Mashhad and pilgrimage of Imam Reza (A.S.) and also acknowledging the hospitality and affableness of Mashhad people.

“Four years ago, I had the chance to visit the Shrine of Imam Hussein (A.S.) and Hazrat-e Abbas (A.S.) and now I’m visiting Imam Reza (A.S.)” he stated.

“When returning to my country, I would tell about interesting places, history, architecture art and mirror work, porticoes and courtyards of the Shrine, as well as people cordial behavior to my relatives and acquaintances” he stated.

http://en.abna24.com/service/iran/archive/2016/03/27/743488/story.html

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US Islamic Centre in Arizona Hosts 'Meet a Muslim' Event

March 27, 2016

It was an opportunity for non-Muslims to learn more about Islam and what it means to be Muslim.

Shahir Safi of Why Islam said, "Our efforts here are more educational. To say, 'hey, look, American Muslims are 5 to 7 million strong. There are over 50,000 here in the metro Phoenix area. They're your doctors; they're your engineers; they're your acccountants; your fellow neighbors; your teachers; and what have you. And we are parts of society and the fabric of what make America great.'"

Fredrik Bouw, who attended the event, said, "To me was the respect, the reverence given to the Jewish and the Christian prophets like Adam, Moses, Abraham and Jesus as the foundation for Islam. In addition to Mohammad [PBUH] being the last messenger. I think that was much more of an understanding I got by being here."

The event was put on by a group called "Why Islam."

Members of the group aim to provide accurate information about their religion.

http://en.abna24.com/service/america/archive/2016/03/27/743473/story.html

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Ted Cruz has already won: His absurd plan to police Muslims is already happening

Cruz and Donald Trump came under fire for awful plans to over-police Muslim communities. There's just one problem

March 27, 2016

Only hours after the Belgium attacks, Ted Cruz stated, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

The Republican presidential hopeful, trailing only Donald Trump, recommended specialized police forces be assigned to areas densely populated with Muslims. In essence, he suggested that the terror realized in Brussels — which claimed the lives of 34 innocents and injured scores more — mandates greater vigilance to prevent similar horror in the United States, in the form of special “Muslim Police” units.

Cruz’s “Muslim Police” proposal spurred immediate alarm within the media and criticism from law enforcement leaders. For many, the very notion that specialized law enforcement manpower and resources could be exclusively dedicated to patrolling Muslim neighbourhoods seemed absurd in modern America, and more specifically, a patent infringement of core civil liberties protections.

Not far behind Trump in both delegates and rhetorical bluster, Cruz’s “Muslim Police” proposal was expectedly derided by elements on both sides of the political divide. However, closer inspection of prevailing national security strategy — and specifically, the Department of Homeland Security’s expansion of counter-radicalization policing, also dubbed “countering violent extremism,” reveals that Cruz’s “Muslim Police” idea is hardly the brainchild of a polemicist on the far right, but a program already piloted by the Obama administration.

The “Muslim Police” are not only coming, but firmly patrolling and monitoring Muslim neighbourhoods in several cities across America. Cruz’s post-Belgium attack idea is hardly unprecedented — it is already installed policy.

In “Policing Radicalization,” a critical study outlining the structure and strategy of American counter-radicalization policing, Ohio State law professor Amna Akbar writes, “Radicalization and counter-radicalization are primarily if not almost exclusively concerned with Muslim communities.” Radicalization theory contends that the more steeped in religion a Muslim becomes, the more he or she is likely to adopt an extremist ideology.

Therefore, Islamic piety is the signal of radicalization. Nothing else, whether it be racist ideology or the militant nativism and xenophobia we see sweeping throughout the country, is linked to radicalization. Mirroring Cruz, DHS believes radicalization is a purely Muslim phenomenon, unfolding in Muslim neighborhoods.

Counter-radicalization policing, piloted in Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis in 2014, seeks to prevent this process, particularly in Muslim-concentrated neighborhoods, mosques, community centers and virtual spaces. In conjunction with DHS, which provides resources and direction to city police departments, counter-radicalization seeks to build relationships with informants within Muslim American communities. In turn, this has empowered interlocutors within Muslim neighborhoods to patrol and police members of their mosques, community organizations and city blocks. It has extended the role of Muslim Police beyond just official city policemen and -women, but also private citizens residing within Muslim neighborhoods.

But what specifically are “Muslim neighborhoods”? What what do they look like?

A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, titled “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation of Support for Extremism,” found that 45 percent of the Muslim American population has a household income less than $30,000 per year. This figure was 9 percent higher than the figure for the general public, which stood at 36 percent, and counters the prevailing stereotype that Muslim Americans are a generally upwardly mobile, comfortably middle class community. While segments of the population fall within that status, roughly half are dangerously close to the poverty line or firmly working class.

The vast majority of “Muslim neighbourhoods,” as posited by Cruz, are predominantly indigent and working class. This is true of East Dearborn and Hamtramck, two densely populated Muslim communities on the outskirts of Detroit. Muslim enclaves in New York City, most notably Astoria and several neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, are overwhelmingly indigent to working class, and since the early 2000s, subjected to NYPD surveillance before the formal piloting of counter-radicalization policing. NYPD surveillance also spilled over into nearby New Jersey.

Therefore, NYPD outrage over Cruz’s proposal was rather surprising, considering that the Department was not only a pioneer of counter-radicalization policing in the United States, but one of its principal architects.

Additional Muslim American enclaves in Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and the West Coast, particularly Los Angeles – a counter-radicalization policing pilot city – are home to indigent and working class African American and immigrant Muslim communities, who are subject to disproportionate scrutiny and surveillance. Being Muslim, poor and a resident of a concentrated Muslim neighbourhood markedly enhances the prospect of counter-radicalization policing, and the civil liberties perils associated with it.

In cities where counter-radicalization policing is currently being practiced by law enforcement, and in metropolitan areas where the the program is on the horizon, poor and working class Muslim neighbourhoods are primary targets of surveillance. In the process, it has endangered the free exercise of religion and privacy rights of the most vulnerable segments of the Muslim American population.

While much of the country was alarmed by Cruz’s proposal, the reaction within Muslim American neighbourhoods was radically different. “He’s not saying or proposing anything new,” observed Asha Mohamood Noor, 25, a Somali American racial justice advocate in Detroit. “Starting with U.S. Patriot Act after 9/11, and now with CVE policing, federal and now local police are prominent within many of our communities.”

Following in the campaign footsteps of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, Cruz’s brazen rhetoric against Islam captures headlines and mobilizes voters. However, his latest bit of rhetoric is already reality, suggesting that concerned Americans should redirect their alarm to existing counter-radicalization policing programs, which have already deployed “Muslim police” units in a Muslim neighborhood near you.

http://www.salon.com/2016/03/26/ted_cruz_has_already_won_his_absurd_plan_to_police_muslims_is_already_happening/

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Obama condemns attempts to "stigmatize" Muslims in wake of Brussels attacks

March 27, 2016

With at least one Republican candidate for the White House endorsing patrols of U.S. Muslim neighbourhoods in the wake of this week's deadly bombings in Brussels, President Obama is cautioning against such approaches, saying any such proposals would "stigmatize" Muslim-Americans.

"As we move forward in this fight, we have to wield another weapon alongside our airstrikes, our military, our counterterrorism work and our diplomacy," the president said in a video released Saturday. "That's the power of our example."

Mr. Obama called on the U.S. to "reject any attempt to stigmatize Muslim-Americans, and their enormous contributions to our country and our way of life."

"Such attempts are contrary to our character, to our values and to our history as a nation built around the idea of religious freedom," he said.

While he did not name Texas Sen. Ted Cruz specifically, he alluded to the GOP presidential contender's plan to police pockets of Muslims in the U.S., which Cruz has defended despite widespread criticism from members of his own party.

The president noted that such actions are a "counterproductive" approach to defeating extremists abroad because it "plays right into the hands of terrorists who want to turn us against one another, who need a reason to recruit more people to their hateful cause."

Just a day after the Pentagon announced the death of a key leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the president touted the administration's achievements.

"We've been taking out ISIL leadership," Mr. Obama said, using a different acronym for the group. "A relentless air campaign -- and support for forces in Iraq and Syria who are fighting ISIL on the ground -- has allowed us to take approximately 40 percent of the populated territory that ISIL once held in Iraq."

He also outlined U.S. efforts in Brussels, where a team of FBI agents is supporting Belgium's investigation into the bombings.

"ISIL poses a threat to the entire civilized world," the president said. "That's why we've been leading a truly global coalition that will be vital to our success."

In a separate Republican video, a state representative from Oklahoma's legislature spoke about the need for national leaders to hear from those who are not "a familiar face in Washington."

Shortly after House Speaker Paul Ryan called for civility in American politics earlier this week, Lisa Johnson-Billy, the Republican floor leader of Oklahoma's statehouse, seemed to do the same, touting her own biography as a study in bipartisanship.

"From a young age, I took an interest in public service," Johnson-Billy said in the video released Saturday. "I served two terms in the Chickasaw Nation Legislature -- alongside my dad -- before I was elected to the statehouse. And today, I work with legislators of both parties to make sure we're passing on a confident America to our children."

Solid results, Johnson-Billy added, would continue to inspire Americans' "confidence" in their elected officials.

"When government fulfills its responsibilities, that's what allows the people to create opportunity - the opportunity to learn more, to find a job, to start a business," she said. "What opportunity ignites is hope. That's what pushes people through difficult times.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-condemns-attempts-to-stigmatize-muslims-in-wake-of-brussels-attacks/

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Arab World

 

FSA Drives out Rival Terrorists from Key Region in Dara'a Province

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants took control of an important region from a terrorist group affiliated to the ISIL in the Western part of Dara'a province.

The FSA drove out Al-Mosana Movement terrorists from Tal al-Saman (al-Saman Hill) in Western Dara'a.

Scores of militants from both sides were killed and wounded in the battle over control of Tal al-Saman.

In a relevant development on Thursday, field sources in the Western parts of Syria's Dara'a province revealed intense infighting between a-Nusra Front terrorists and the ISIL-affiliated Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade group in the area.

During the clashes that have been underway all throughout the last week in the town Ain al-Zekr, both groups sustained significant casualties.

Also in another development in Dara'a, heavy clashes were reported between the two groups of the Free Syrian Army and Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade in Zizun and Tal Shahab.

In another development in Dara'a province, Jeish al-Islam terrorist group claimed on its pages in the social media that it has killed 40 ISIL militants during the clashes in al-Midrib West of Dara'a province.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000324

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Syrian Army Pushes Back ISIL Further, Comes Very Close to Palmyra Airport

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and popular forces won a series of tough battles with the ISIL terrorist group near the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province and are now only 1 kilometre to Palmyra airport, field sources announced on Saturday.

"The Syrian army forces have already fortified their military positions near Palmyra airport after they won full control over Syriatel heights to monitor the ISIL terrorists' movements on their supply route between Palmyra city and Lattakia province," the sources said.

According to the sources, the Syrian army has launched attacks on ISIL's military positions after winning back Palmyra Castle on Friday. "The Syrian government troops are just one kilometer away from the city airport."

The ISIL militants have sustained heavy casualties and losses in fierce clashes with the Syrian army in recent days.

The Syrian army has made considerable advances in the areas near Palmyra city and taken full control of a strategic ancient castle near the Palmyra city.

In a relevant development on Friday, the Syrian government forces and Desert Falcons fighters gained control over a strategically important height near Palmyra.

The Syrian Army and Desert Falcons on Friday won another battle in Eastern Homs after hours of fierce clashes with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers and their allies have pushed back the Takfiri terrorists in the region near the ancient city of Palmyra, and captured the Qalaat Fakhr ad-Din al-Maani Castle, known as the "Palmyra Castle".

The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have kept on marching on militant-held regions in Eastern Homs province in recent days to capture the strategic city of Palmyra which has been under the control of the ISIL since May 2015.

Earlier on Saturday, the Syrian army and popular forces managed to take full control over the important supply line to the West and Southwest of Palmyra city.

The army units took full control of ISIL's Quaryatayn-Palmyra supply route in a bid to prevent flow of supplies to the ISIL terrorists in the Western and Southwestern parts of Palmyra.

The ISIL's logistic and supply routes from the West and Southwestern parts of Palmyra are disconnected now.

The Syrian army also managed to disconnect Quaryatayn and Palmyra from each other by taking full control over the Quaryatayn-Palmyra highway.

The Syrian army's special troops known as Tiger Forces are engaged in heavy fighting with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the streets of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Eastern part of Homs province.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000439

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Clamouring for War: Belgium Airstrikes Cannot Remove ISIL

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Finding a "renewed purpose and a unifying threat,” Belgium has confirmed plans to carry out airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria as part of the US-led coalition after the Brussels deadly attacks earlier this week, which claimed the lives of at least 31 people and injured over 300.

In the words of Prime Minister Charles Michel: "In the framework of the agreement with the Netherlands, we will resume the mission of our F-16s, we will hold a debate in the parliament and the government to decide whether it is possible to expand the mandate of F-16s."

This is while the terrorist group of ISIL in its current shape and form is here to stay. Despite all the vehement talk in Brussels, it is never too late to eliminate the terrorist group of ISIL, its mean PR imagery, and its vast sleeper cells in the heart of the European continent. However, that has to be done the right way:

The only meaningful resolution to the global geo-political turmoil the War Party in Washington and its coalition of regime changers are causing is changing the course, reconciliation with Syria, and dissociation with terrorist outfits and sectarian demons. Likewise, the West must cease seeking to destroy governments, convulse cultures, and manipulate Muslim nations through military means and ethnic-sectarian warfare.

Into the argument, the rise of ISIL, which has nothing to do with Islam, should no longer be explained in the West as a natural outcome of “Islamic Fundamentalism” when it could be better described as an intended collusion and predictable consequence of disastrous US foreign policy in the Middle East under the (botched) Joe Biden Plan that sought to divide the region on ethnic-sectarian lines and protect Israel. If not, Belgian Prime Minister Michel can rest assured that surgical airstrikes cannot remove ISIL and its medieval ideology – “admittedly” flush with Saudi cash, American weaponry, and eager European recruits.

The powerful reason why Europe in general and Belgium is particular are in such persistent disarray is that the War Party and its club of regime changers refuse to stop funding and arming proxy armies under the false-flag name of “moderates” in Syria. Moreover, the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial Complex want eternal Global War on Terror, which is beyond European dispute and control. Tragic enough, it’s a bitter fact that Prime Minister Michel cannot bring himself to face, which is why he is clamoring for war.

Regardless, the failed war on Syria is destined to endure, because the “Empire of Chaos” and its coalition of regime changer refuse to learn from their past mistakes. Quite the opposite, and as maintained by Prime Minister Michel, they plan to redeem themselves by bringing their military power fully to bear on ISIL in Syria and beyond.

Under the circumstances, if European governments can clear their heads of American influence, they might realize that in dealing with ISIL and its eager European recruits they only need to accentuate the positive (International Law) and eliminate the negative (Double Game): End the doomed war on Syria and join the counter-terror Alliance of Iran, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah in the real war on all manners of terrorism and extremism in Syria. After all, “Fragmented Europe” has nothing left to lose.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000657

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SIL Terrorists, Families Fleeing Palmyra

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Military sources reported on Saturday that a large number of terrorists and their families are fleeing the ISIL stronghold city of Palmyra (Tadmur) as the Syrian army troops alongside popular forces are only inches away from a major conquest and winning the ancient city.

Battlefield sources said the ISIL Takfiri terrorists are in such a rush that they have "left behind their dead and wounded friends and fled their positions in Palmyra".

The ISIL's mass escape comes as the Syrian army continues its advances towards Palmyra city center from the Western side of the ancient city where they could penetrate the ISIL's defense lines on Wednesday and made a headway in bloody clashes with the terrorists.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Syrian army and popular forces seized control over the terrorists' vital line of supply to the West and Southwest of Palmyra.

The army units took full control of ISIL's Quaryatayn-Palmyra supply route in a bid to prevent flow of supplies to the ISIL terrorists in the Western and Southwestern parts of Palmyra.

The ISIL's logistic and supply routes from the West and Southwestern parts of Palmyra are disconnected now.

The Syrian army also managed to disconnect Quaryatayn and Palmyra from each other by taking full control over the Quaryatayn-Palmyra highway.

The Syrian army's special troops known as Tiger Forces are engaged in heavy fighting with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the streets of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Eastern part of Homs province.

The ISIL terrorists are trying hard to prevent the Syrian army from making further advances in Palmyra city as the street battle between the two sides is intensifying.

The ISIL militants have sustained heavy casualties and losses in fierce clashes with the Syrian army in recent days.

The Syrian army has made considerable advances in the areas near Palmyra city and taken full control of a strategic ancient castle near the Palmyra city.

On Friday, the Syrian government forces and Desert Falcons fighters gained control over a strategically important height near Palmyra.

The Syrian Army and Desert Falcons on Friday won another battle in Eastern Homs after hours of fierce clashes with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers and their allies have pushed back the Takfiri terrorists in the region near the ancient city of Palmyra, and captured the Qalaat Fakhr ad-Din al-Maani Castle, known as the "Palmyra Castle".

The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have kept on marching on militant-held regions in Eastern Homs province in recent days to capture the strategic city of Palmyra which has been under the control of the ISIL since May 2015

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000502

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Syrian Army Wins Back Strategic Regions in Homs, Cuts ISIL's Raqqa-Palmyra Supply Route

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army continued its advances in the Eastern parts of Homs province and won back a key hill and a village and disconnected ISIL's vital supply route from Raqqa province to the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur).

The Syrian army and popular forces took full control of Sukra village and hill in Homs province on Saturday.

The army units also cut off the terrorists' logistical supply route between Raqqa and Palmyra city.

"The ISIL tried to dispatch military hardware and equipment to Palmyra from Raqqa and Deir Ezzur provinces, but the Russian and Syrian warplanes stopped the terrorist group's movement on the road with massive airstrikes," an informed source said.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Syrian army and popular forces managed to take full control of a major supply line to the West and Southwest of Palmyra city.

The army units took full control of ISIL's Quaryatayn-Palmyra supply route in a bid to prevent flow of supplies to the ISIL terrorists in the Western and Southwestern parts of Palmyra.

The ISIL's logistic and supply routes from the West and Southwestern parts of Palmyra are disconnected now.

The Syrian army also managed to disconnect Quaryatayn and Palmyra from each other by taking full control over the Quaryatayn-Palmyra highway.

The Syrian army's special troops known as Tiger Forces are engaged in heavy fighting with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the streets of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the Eastern part of Homs province.

The ISIL terrorists are trying hard to prevent the Syrian army from making further advances in Palmyra city as the street battle between the two sides is intensifying.

The ISIL militants have sustained heavy casualties and losses in fierce clashes with the Syrian army in recent days.

The Syrian army has made considerable advances in the areas near Palmyra city and taken full control of a strategic ancient castle near the Palmyra city.

On Friday, the Syrian government forces and Desert Falcons fighters gained control over a strategically important height near Palmyra.

The Syrian Army and Desert Falcons on Friday won another battle in Eastern Homs after hours of fierce clashes with the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian soldiers and their allies have pushed back the Takfiri terrorists in the region near the ancient city of Palmyra, and captured the Qalaat Fakhr ad-Din al-Maani Castle, known as the "Palmyra Castle".

The Syrian army soldiers and their allies have kept on marching on militant-held regions in Eastern Homs province in recent days to capture the strategic city of Palmyra which has been under the control of the ISIL since May 2015.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000479

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Kurdish Forces Win Back Key Village in Raqqa Province

Mar 26, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA) - The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) managed to seize back a strategic village in the Northern parts of Raqqa province on Saturday.

The Kurdish forces in heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists regained full control of Sab'avy village in Northern Raqqa today.

Scores of ISIL militants were killed and wounded in tough battle with the SDF and YPG forces.

In recent days, the SDF and the YPG forces have been engaged in heavy clashes with ISIL in Northern Raqqa province.

The clashes began as the ISIL launched a wave of suicide attacks on the YPG and SDF centers in the Southern parts of Salouk town, Northern Raqqa.

In another development in Raqqa, the ISIL terrorists' offensive against the YPG forces in Jantrari village in the Eastern parts of Ain Issa town, was responded by the Kurdish resistance forces.

During the clashes between the YPG and the ISIL terrorists in the region, three militants and two Kurds were killed.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950107000409

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South Asia

 

ISIS militants among 46 killed in latest clearance operations: MoD

By GHANIZADA

Sun Mar 27 2016

Afghan army raids on Taliban hideoutsAt least 46 militants including loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in the latest clearance operations conducted by the Afghan national security forces.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the operations were conducted in the past 24 hours in Helmand, Nuristan, Badakhshan, Nangarhar and Paktika provinces.

According to an operational update by MoD, at least 18 militants were killed and a vehicle along with three bikes was destroyed while 17 landmines were dismantled during the operations in Sangin disrict of Helmand.

MoD further added that 7 militants were killed including a commander of the group and 10 others were wounded in Nuristan operations conducted in Du’ab district.

At least 15 militants were killed and 5 others were wounded in separate operations conducted in Jurm district of Badakhshan and center of Kunduz province, MoD said, adding that 6 militants including 2 ISIS loyalists were killed during the raids in Achindistrict of Nangarhar and Domanda area of Paktika.

According to MoD, at least three soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces also lost their lives during the same operations.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the reports so far

http://www.khaama.com/isis-militants-among-46-killed-in-latest-clearance-operations-mod-0452

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11 ISIS loyalists including a foreigner killed in Nangarhar airstrike

By GHANIZADA

Sun Mar 27 2016,

ISIS loyalists AfghanistanAt least eleven militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the militants were killed in Mamand Dara district of Nangarhar on Saturday.

Provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashriqwal confirmed the airstrike was carried out in Mamand Dara on Saturday but did not elaboate further on who carried out the raid.

However, the US forces in Afghanistan have recently stepped up air campaign against the loyalists of the Islamic State besides the militants are targeted by the Afghan forces.

The US Air Force has reportedly dropped 251 bombs and missiles targeting mainly the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in Afghanistan during the months of January and February.

According to the data compiled by the Air Force, the airstrikes in the first two months of the year was more than three times the strikes in the same period last year.

The increase in airstrikes followed by President Barack Obama’s grant of authority to launch attacks on Islamic State militants who had gained control over territory in several provinces, including areas in the Tora Bora region, where Osama bin Laden once took refuge.

The authority by Obama to target the ISIS loyalists followed amid concerns that the terror group was gaining foothold in the country amid efforts to consolidate operations with the militants in Syria and Iraq.

The coalition officials had earlier estimated around 1,000 to 3,000 Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan are trying to establish a base of operations in the rugged mountains of Nangahar Province.

http://www.khaama.com/11-isis-loyalists-including-a-foreigner-killed-in-nangarhar-airstrike-0457

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Taliban commander among several killed or wounded in Nuristan airstrike

By GHANIZADA

Sun Mar 27 2016

A Taliban was killed in an airstrike conducted by the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces in the restive Nuristan province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the Taliban commander has been identified as Taza Gul who was killed along with a number of his militants in the airstrike conducted in Du’ab district.

An Afghan army official serving with the 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army confirmed that a Taliban commander was among 18 killed or wounded in the air raid.

This was the second airstrike conducted by the Afghan army in Nuristan province within the past one week.

At least 8 militants were killed and 13 others were wounded in airstrikes carried out by the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in Du’ab district last week.

The airstrikes are being conducted as as local officials are saying heavy clashes continue since in Du’ab district after the Taliban militants launched coordinated attacks on security posts of the Afghan forces.

The officials further added that the security forces are receiving close-air support from the Afghan Air Force (AAF) as they fight back the militants.

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

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-commander-among-several-killed-or-wounded-in-nuristan-airstrike-0451

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Afghan forces retake full control of Khanshin district in Helmand

By GHANIZADA

Sun Mar 27 2016

Afghan army operationsThe Afghan national security forces have retaken full control of Khanshin district in southern Helmand province of AFghanistan, security officials said.

Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the district has been fully cleared of militants during operations conducted jointly by Afghan army and police forces.

The control of the district fell as a result of coordinated attacks launched by the Taliban militants nearly two weeks ago.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far which comes as the security situation has sharply deteriorated in Helmand province during the recent months.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in its various districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

This comes as there have been growing concerns that the Taliban insurgents are attempting to establish the group’s council in Helmand province as they are trying to bring the province under their control by intensifying attacks.

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-retake-full-control-of-khanshin-district-in-helmand-0458

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Infiltrated soldier returns to battalion after killing two Taliban in Faryab

By ZABIHULLAH MOOSAKHAIL

Sun Mar 27 2016,

police (2)An infiltrated soldier has reportedly killed two Taliban militants in northern Faryab province before returning to his battalion.

“#GreenOnBlack? Infiltrated government soldier killed 2 Taliban members and joined back his battalion in #Faryab,” states a post on the official twitter account of Sultan Faizi, head of the media and communications office of the Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostam.

Faizi has also said that the infiltrated soldier spent four days with Taliban in Qaisar district before carrying out the attack.

Taliban have not yet commented on the report. However, if confirmed by the group, this would be the first time such an incident takes place in Faryab.

Taliban have been killing dozens of soldiers through their people working among the security force

http://www.khaama.com/infiltrated-soldier-returns-to-battalion-after-killing-two-taliban-in-faryab-4765

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Taliban kills provincial judge in Afghanistan

March 27, 2016

Jawed Salangi, spokesman for the governor of the eastern Ghazni province, said on Sunday that Mohammad Anwar was ambushed and shot while in neighboring Wardak province on Saturday.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing in an email sent to reporters.

Insurgent attacks on Afghan security forces and officials have intensified across the country in the past year.

Judicial officials have long been Taliban targets. Anwar’s killing comes days after the nomination of a new attorney general, Farid Hamidi.

Hamidi is a former human rights commissioner whose appointment has to be approved by parliament.

President Ashraf Ghani has struggled to fill key security posts, with ministers of defense and interior acting in their positions.

http://en.abna24.com/service/centeral-asia-subcontinent/archive/2016/03/27/743464/story.html

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NDS seize 118 weapons with over 20,000 ammunition rounds in Parwan

By GHANIZADA

Sun Mar 27 2016

NDS seize weapons and ammunition in ParwanA large cache of weapons and ammunition was confiscated by the Afghan security forces from northern Parwan province of Afghanistan.

The Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the cache included 118 various types of weapons and 20,200 rounds of ammunition.

A statement by NDS said the cache included 93 pistols, 10 Ak-47 rifles, 9 Ak-74 rifles, 4 Ak-74U, 2 M4 rifles

The statement further added that the cache included 11,200 rounds of pistol ammunition and 9,000 rounds of Ak-47 ammunition.

It was not clear if any suspect was detained in connection to the storage of the weapons and ammunition.

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

Parwan is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in a number of its remote districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Various criminal gangs involved in arms smuggle and other criminal activities including murder and kidnappings are also operating in this province which largely contribute to the growing instability of Parwan.

http://www.khaama.com/nds-seize-118-weapons-with-over-20000-ammunition-rounds-in-parwan-0459

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Gen. Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor supporters end tensions in Faryab

By GHANIZADA

Sun Mar 27 2016

Dostum and Noor supporters reconcileFollowing days of growing rift among the supporters of two prominent political figures in northern Afghanistan, the tensions have been resolved in the northern Faryab province.

The supporters of Junbish-e-Milli party led by vice president General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Jamiat-e-Islami party led Ata Mohammad Noor reconciled in northern Faryab province shortly after the growing rift led to a bloody encounter last week.

The supporters of the two prominent political parties reinstalled the removed pictures belonging to Gen. Dostum, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhnuddin Rabbani in this province.

Faryab governor Syed Anwar Sadat said the reconciliation was achieved following a meeting attended by the representatives of the two prominent political parties in the provincial government office.

The officials of the two political parties said they hope to continue standing side by side with each other and support the Afghan security forces in a sensitive moment the country is going.

They also insisted on resolving any issue they may come across the in the future through negotiations and understandings.

The supporters of General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor engaged in a clash last Thursday in northern Faryab province of Afghanistan, leaving one dead and five others wounded.

This comes as the former Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief Rahmatullah Nabil has warned regarding ongoing attempts to create ethnic divisions among the Afghan people.

Nabil issued an online statement amid intensifying tensions among the supporters of top political figures, General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor.

The supporters of Gen. Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor staged mass protests following a rift created over the removal of Gen. Dostum’s pictures from Mazar-e-Sharif city on the occasion of Nowruz celebrations.

Amid fears that the protests would trigger chaos and riots in the north, Noor issued a statement on Monday immediately after the removal of Gen. Dostum’s pictures spark furor among is supporters.

Noor warned regarding any provocative acts in reaction to the removal of the picture and urged the people to refrain from chaos and moves that lead to disorders in the city.

http://www.khaama.com/gen-dostum-and-ata-mohammad-noor-supporters-end-tensions-in-faryab-0453

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Mideast

 

Turkish Gov’t to speed up process for new constitution with presidential system: PM

ANKARA

Sun Mar 27 2016

The process for writing a new constitution, which will include a shift to a presidential political system from the current parliamentary one, will be accelerated “to meet the expectations of the Turkish people,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has vowed.

Stating that a roadmap has already been drawn up, Davutoğlu said a “constitution committee” has been established within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).       

“Today we carried out a long and detailed work with the members of this committee in the Dolmabahçe office,” the prime minister said on March 26 during the World Turkish Entrepreneurs Assembly of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) in Istanbul.       

“From next week our committee will start writing it [the new constitution]. We are planning to complete writing it next month. During this process, we are open to any proposal from the business world,” he added.     

Davutoğlu again said the new constitution will include a presidential system.

“We are determined to take every step for a democratic and liberal constitution that adopts the presidential political system,” he said. 

A “Constitution Conciliation Committee” of 12 deputies -- three from each of Turkey’s four parliamentary parties -- had first met on Feb. 3 in a bid to redraw the current constitution, which dates back in parts to Turkey’s military regime of the 1980s.       

However, the parliamentary committee tasked with planning the new constitution broke up on Feb. 17 over the AKP’s demand that the new charter be based on a presidential system, which no opposition party backs.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/govt-to-speed-up-process-for-new-constitution-with-presidential-system-pm.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96950&NewsCatID=338

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Turkey hits ISIL positions in northern Iraq after Turkish soldier killed

ANKARA

Sun Mar 27 2016

Turkish artillery and warplanes struck Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) position in northern Iraq after a Turkish soldier was killed on March 26 during a gun battle between ISIL militants and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

The Turkish General Staff said in a statement that a Katyusha projectile fired from an ISIL location landed in the Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq at around 3 p.m.

“Due to projectiles that fell on the base, our hero comrade has been martyred and one hero comrade was slightly injured,” said the statement.

First Lt. İsmail Cazgır was killed while another soldier was wounded in the attack. The wounded soldier was taken by helicopter to Şırnak State Hospital for treatment.

The Turkish army shelled ISIL positions after the attack, which was followed by an air campaign in cooperation with the anti-ISIL coalition forces.

The General Staff said in a separate statement that the anti-ISIL international coalition led by the U.S. had targeted the jihadist group’s positions in the northern part of Iraq after the incident.

“Four terrorist Daesh [ISIL] positions in the north of Iraq have been hit by warplanes of the [international] coalition,” said the army, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

“Right after, four additional targets were intensively shelled by Turkish Armed Forces planes; the targets were destroyed,” the statement read.     

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu confirmed the Turkish warplanes targeted ISIL positions in Iraq in line with engagement rules in the aftermath of the incident.    

“At the end of the assessment we made with the General Staff chief, all positions that caused the martyrdom of our lieutenant were destroyed with the intervention of our air forces,” Davutoğlu told journalists at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul ahead of his departure for a two-day visit to Jordan.     

Davutoğlu said another air campaign was carried out with the participation of coalition warplanes, adding that Turkey had revealed its strong will and power in the wake of any attack that targeted its military presence abroad.  

In his remarks, the prime minister defended Turkey’s presence in Iraq, which he called “support for Iraqi brothers,” and said this presence aimed at meeting the security needs of the Iraqi government.

Bashiqa became a source of tension between Ankara and Baghdad last year when Turkish troops were deployed to the region to train an Iraqi militia to fight ISIL. 

Following strong reactions both from the United States and Iraq, Turkey was forced to pull out a significant number of its troops and tanks from the camp, which was targeted by ISIL four times.

In the first attack, four soldiers were wounded while 18 ISIL militants were killed in return shelling. The last attack targeting the camp was on March 22.

Last week, backed by Peshmerga forces and the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces launched an offensive against ISIL in the Makhmour area southeast of Mosul, which was touted as the start of a broader campaign to clear areas around the city.

Mosul is by far the largest population center controlled by ISIL militants and has already been cut off on three sides by the Peshmerga, who are less than 15 kilometers from its northern outskirts at some points along the front line.

Iraqi officials say they will retake Mosul this year. However, many have privately questioned whether the army, which partially collapsed when ISIL overran a third of Iraq in June 2014, will be ready in time.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-hits-isil-positions-in-northern-iraq-after-turkish-soldier-killed.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96949&NewsCatID=352

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Turkey, Jordan boost ties amid Syrian crisis

Serkan Demirtaş – AMMAN

Sun Mar 27 2016

Turkey and Jordan, the two regional countries suffering the most from the growing Syrian refugee crisis, have vowed to boost ties in various fields, with expectations that the five-year long Syrian tragedy will soon come to a peaceful end.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, accompanied by Turkey’s foreign, industry, transportation and water ministers, paid a two-day trip to Amman to sign a score of agreements to boost bilateral ties with Jordan, as well exchange views on the ongoing Syrian problem.

Following a meeting between the two countries’ delegations under the leadership of Davutoğlu and his host, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the two countries signed 10 different agreements on March 27.

The agreements envisaged deepening cooperation in the fields of labor, employment, trade policies, protection and promotion of mutual investments, meteorology, forestry and air transportation. Jordan’s Petra and Turkey’s Anadolu Agency news agencies also signed a protocol over news exchange and cooperation.

After the meeting at the prime minister’s office, Davutoğlu met with King Abdullah before addressing the Turkey-Jordan Business Forum and a conference held by a Jordan-based think tank.

During the visit Davutoğlu also inaugurated the opening of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) office in Amman.

Turkey and Jordan have always been in close dialogue and cooperation with their Western allies as part of their efforts to establish peace and stability in the Middle East. Facing similar challenges in the refugee crisis and the existence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on their borders, the two leaderships held in-depth assessments on the future of the region.

During the talks Jordan, which hosts around 1.2 million Syrians on its soil, expressed a willingness to cooperate with Turkey.

Turkish and Jordanian leaders also discussed recent developments in Palestine and international efforts to revive the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Davutoğlu meets Ban Ki-moon

After his talks with Jordanian officials, Davutoğlu also had a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was in Amman as part of a regional tour. The two men reviewed the U.N.-led ongoing talks aimed at accomplishing a political transition process in Syria, as well as other important regional developments.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-jordan-boost-ties-amid-syrian-crisis.aspx?pageID=238&nID=96968&NewsCatID=510

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Pakistan

 

ATC declares Altaf, other MQM leaders proclaimed offenders

ISHAQ TANOLI —27 03 2016

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Saturday declared around 20 Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders, including its chief, as proclaimed offenders in around 15 cases related to an alleged hate speech against the military establishment.

Judge of the ATC-I Bashir Ahmed Khoso declared MQM chief Altaf Hussain, Farooq Sattar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Rehan Hashmi and others proclaimed offenders after the investigating officers submitted the reports of the proceedings against them under Sections 87 (proclamation for persons absconding) and 88 (attachment of property of person absconding) of the criminal procedure code.

Earlier, almost the entire MQM leadership had been charge-sheeted under Section 512 (record of evidence in absence of accused) of the criminal procedure code and shown as absconders in police investigation reports.

While the court issued time and again non-bailable warrants against them, the police failed to execute the warrants and at a previous hearing the court asked the IOs to initiate proceedings of proclamation and attachment of property.

MQM mayoral candidate Waseem Akhtar and other party leaders Rauf Siddiqui, Khwaja Izharul Hassan and Qamar Mansoor are on pre-arret bail in these cases while MQM senator Tahir Mashhadi has already been discharged from the cases for lack of evidence.

The court adjourned the case till April 17 to hear arguments on pre-arrest bail applications.

The cases were registered on identical complaints in July last year after the MQM chief in his July 12 speech had allegedly accused Rangers chief and his subordinates for violating army code of conduct during the Karachi operation while the other party leaders were booked for allegedly listening to their party chief’s speech.

The cases were registered under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121(waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan), 122 (collection arms, etc. with intention of waging war against Pakistan), 123-A (condemnation of the creation of state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) and 109 (common intention) of Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 and Section 25-D of Telegraph Act at different police stations of the city.

Over 100 cases were registered across the country against Mr Hussain and other party leaders for his July 12 remarks.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248097/atc-declares-altaf-other-mqm-leaders-proclaimed-offenders

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Saudi Arabia executes Pakistani convicted of murder

AFP — 27 03 2016

RIYADH: Saudi authorities executed a Pakistani convicted of killing a Bangladeshi woman on Sunday, raising to 79 the number of death sentences they have carried out this year.

Elias Ismail was found guilty of fatally stabbing Hajar Hussein during a robbery and was executed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, an interior ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency said.

Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword. The executions so far this year include 47 for "terrorism" carried out in a single day on January 2.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people, most of them for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP count.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.

The kingdom is one of the world's top executioners, although its tally in 2015 was far behind those of China and Iran.

Saudi Arabia has a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248252/saudi-arabia-executes-pakistani-convicted-of-murder

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At least three dead after explosion in Lahore's Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park

DAWN.COM | IMRAN GABOL — 27 03 2016

LAHORE: A loud explosion was heard in the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park area of Iqbal Town here, DawnNews reported. The nature of the explosion has not been confirmed as of now.

Eye witnesses said there were pools of blood and scattered body parts in the park, where a large number of families, especially women and children, were present on a Sunday evening.

Rescue officials and police rushed to the explosion site, where at least 20 people are reportedly injured.

Rescue 1122 spokesman confirmed that an emergency call was received at around 6:44pm and that eight ambulances had been dispatched to the park.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248259/at-least-three-dead-after-explosion-in-lahores-gulshan-i-iqbal-park

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Singer-turned-evangelist, Junaid Jamshed assaulted by charged crowd at Islamabad airport

DAWN.COM — 27 03 2016

ISLAMABAD: A charged crowd at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport assaulted singer-turned-evangelist Junaid Jamshed, it emerged late Saturday night. A disturbing video of the attack made the rounds on social media.

A handful of people chanted slogans against the preacher, claiming he had committed blasphemy, and lunged at him. They struck several blows and then momentarily released Jamshed, only to attack him again.

"We have been looking for you," one male voice is heard saying in the footage.

"Hit him, him him," they shouted.

Visibly shaken, Jamshed maintained silence for the most part and offered the crowd to "talk" as the men confronted him. Jamshed then retreated into the airport's arrival lounge.

Many took to social media to condemn the attack on Jamshed.

Read: Junaid Jamshed booked for blasphemy

The episode comes over a year after a controversy that pushed Jamshed into hiding, as he became the target of the wrath of right-wing groups over blasphemy allegations. He later offered a public apology in which he said he was "accepting his mistake" and asked for forgiveness.

The blasphemy case against him was registered in December 2014 on the directives of a district and sessions court. Jamshed was booked over one of his televised sermons that was thought to contain blasphemous remarks about a wife of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

The case had been registered on a complaint of Mobin Qadri, a leader of the Sunni Tehreek, at the Risala police station under Sections 295-C (use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet) and 298-A (use of derogatory remarks etc in respect of Holy Personage) of the Pakistan Penal Code, police said at the time.

Qadri had moved an application in the court seeking registration of a blasphemy case against Jamshed for allegedly making blasphemous remarks about the Holy Prophet and his wife Hazrat Ayesha (RA).

Jamshed later released a video message in which he apologised for his remarks and asked for forgiveness.

Over the years, Jamshed has gathered a massive following as a preacher, also earning a spot in popular prime time shows during the month of Ramazan.

He has also launched a line of clothing by the name 'J.', a brand that takes pride in selling what it calls modest women's clothing and without using models for advertisement.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248238/junaid-jamshed-assaulted-by-charged-crowd-at-islamabad-airport

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Rouhani denies discussing 'RAW's involvement in Balochistan' with Pakistani leadership

APP | DAWN.COM — 27 03 2016

ISLAMABAD: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected the claims that the issue of Indian spy agency’s involvement in Pakistan was discussed during his meeting with the country’s leadership, DawnNews reported.

President Rouhani said this while addressing a press conference in the federal capital before his return on Saturday.

He was replying to a question regarding the claims made earlier by the Pakistani government about discussing the issue of Research and Analysis Wing's (RAW) involvement in Pakistan's internal affairs with the Iranian president.

Rouhani denied having such a discussion and said, “Whenever Iran comes closer to Pakistan such rumours are spread.”

During the meetings, he said, the two sides held wide ranging discussions for cooperation in the areas of trade, economy and energy as well as the regional and international issues of mutual interest.

RAW uses Iran’s soil against Pakistan, Gen Raheel to Rouhani

The director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, shared the text of General Raheel Sharif’s meeting with the Iranian president.

"There is one concern that RAW is involved in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan, and sometimes it also uses the soil of our brother country Iran," read the text of meeting shared by Bajwa.

During the meeting with the Iranian president, Gen Raheel reportedly asked Rouhani to tell them [RAW] that “they should stop these activities and allow Pakistan to achieve stability”, Bajwa tweeted.

Earlier, the military's media wing had claimed that General Raheel Sharif discussed the issue of RAW's involvement in Pakistan's internal affairs with the Iranian president.

The army chief while highlighting the challenges being faced by Pakistan, discussed the alleged involvement of RAW in Pakistani affairs, especially in Balochistan, the ISPR statement had claimed.

Bridging the gap

About Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, President Rouhani said Iran had almost completed the work on its side of border on the pipeline and would be in a position to provide gas to Pakistan in a few months. “It was now up to Pakistan to initiate work on its side,” he added.

He said Iran could meet all the energy needs of Pakistan. The country was already selling 1,000MW electricity to Pakistan, which could be increased up to 3,000 MW.

Rouhani said Iran was also interested to have connectivity between Gawadar and Chahbahar seaports through roads and shipping lines for a win-win situation to both the countries.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248078/rouhani-denies-discussing-raws-involvement-in-balochistan-with-pakistani-leadership

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Accord with Iran to boost trade, energy ties

THE NEWSPAPER'S STAFF REPORTER — March 26th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran pledged on Friday to boost their trade ties and energy cooperation in an attempt to turn a new page in their relations after lifting of sanctions against Iran.

The agreement was reached as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is leading a large political and economic delegation, including 60 businessmen, opened a two-day visit to Pakistan with a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Rouhani’s visit is aimed at giving a fresh impetus to bilateral relations following the end of nuclear-related curbs on Iran. Energy cooperation and increased trade are envisaged to be the cornerstone of the new phase in ties when the two sides try to make up for lost opportunities.

Sharif, Rouhani discuss new border crossings, Gwadar-Chabahar cooperation

Besides trade and economic issues, Mr Rouhani intends to address regional issues which are of common concern to the two countries. In a Twitter posting before leaving Tehran for Islamabad, he said: “On way to Pakistan to discuss important regional and global issues and explore opportunities for constructive engagement.”

The two leaders, following their one-to-one meeting and delegation-level talks, appeared before television cameras to deliver short statements.

“Our trade and economic ties have suffered due to sanctions. We have agreed to strengthen our bilateral ties in diverse areas of trade, economy and energy,” Mr Sharif said.

The Iranian president said the discussions centred on diversification of trade and economic relations and exploring new opportunities of cooperation in the energy sector.

The two sides decided during the meeting about opening new border crossings, besides the possibilities of cooperation between Gwadar and Chabahar ports, which are seen as rivals, export of electricity from Iran to Pakistan, and signing of trade agreements.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a five-year strategic trade cooperation plan was among the six agreements signed by the two sides. The other accords pertained to insurance, culture, health and research.

The current volume of bilateral trade is mere $250 million. The two countries have set an ambitious target of taking this to $5bn in five years.

There was, however, no word on the struggling Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, which had been held up because of the sanctions, but which both sides see as important for their cooperation.

Mr Rouhani also mentioned counter-terrorism cooperation, saying both countries considered each other’s security as important. He said there was a shared resolve to defeat extremism and terrorism.

Intelligence, security, and border cooperation are also on Mr Rouhani’s agenda.

He called for political solution to regional problems and conflicts.

Although the two countries do not have political disputes in their relationship, most of the time they find themselves in opposite camps in regional politics, which makes bilateral cooperation much more difficult.

The Iranian president will meet President Mamnoon Hussain and co-chair a business session with the prime minister on Saturday.

According to APP, the prime minister, during the joint press stakeout with President Rouhani at the PM House, said the two sides had decided to open two additional border crossing points to encourage trade and economic interaction as well as to facilitate people-to-people contacts.

The Iranian president said they had also deliberated on ways to boost bilateral business by means of preferential trade and move forward for a free-trade agreement.

The possibility of sea trade through Gwadar and Chabahar ports was discussed.

“There is a will and resolve to combat extremist and terrorist groups and not to allow such elements to shatter peace in the region,” Hassan Rouhani said.

The Iranian president said the two sides needed to enhance their cultural relations as well as regional cooperation.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248047/accord-with-iran-to-boost-trade-energy-ties

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Arrested 'RAW agent' trained separatists to target Pakistani ports: security official

SYED ALI SHAH

Mar 27,2016

QUETTA: Interrogation of the arrested Indian intelligence operative Kulbhushan Yadav revealed he had been imparting Naval fighting training to Baloch separatists in an attempt to target Pakistani ports, a security official who declined to be named said on Sunday.

Yadav, who was arrested in Balochistan, is believed to be a member of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The Indian Foreign Ministry earlier confirmed the arrested man was a former Indian Navy officer, but the Pakistani government claimed to have recovered travel documents and multiple fake identities of Yadav, establishing him as an Indian spy who entered into Balochistan through Iran — holding a valid Iranian visa.

After his arrest, Yadav was shifted to Islamabad for interrogation, during which it was revealed that he had purchased boats at the Iranian port in Chabahar in order to target Karachi and Gwadar ports in a terrorist plot, the official said, adding that the 'RAW agent' is believed to be expert at Naval fighting techniques.

Explore: India accepts ‘spy’ as former navy officer, denies having links

Yadav was also transporting 'anti-state elements' from Pakistan to New Delhi for training by RAW, he said.

Following recent revelations by the 'Indian spy', security has been tightened across Balochistan, especially at the shared borders with Iran and Afghanistan, and more arrests are expected, he said.

After his arrest, Pakistan summoned Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale to lodge a strong protest over 'India's spying activities' in Balochistan and Karachi.

The arrest of the 'RAW agent' comes just days before a possible meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

Indian media reports claim the foreign secretaries of both countries, whose meeting to restart the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) in January was derailed by the Pathankot attack, are also due to meet in Washington.

At the beginning of March, Aziz had said that foreign-secretary levels talks would resume after the probe team's visit. The Pathankot Joint Investigation Team left for New Delhi on Sunday (today) and is expected to investigate the attack over the next week.

Pakistan and India had agreed to resume peace talks under the newly-coined phrase of CBD during Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference last year.

The dialogue was to take on matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248254/arrested-raw-agent-trained-separatists-to-target-pakistani-ports-security-official

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Africa

 

Lawyers of Islamic Movement in Nigeria declare terms of JCI hypocritical as they pull out

March 26, 2016

Government has been cautioned by the team of lawyers representing the Islamic Movement in Nigeria IMN at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry JCI investigating the said Army/Shi’ites clash against what is seen as a hypocritical plan to ban the Islamic Movement using terms that do not relate to the Zaria pogrom.

AhlulBayt News Agency - Government has been cautioned by the team of lawyers representing the Islamic Movement in Nigeria IMN at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry JCI investigating the said Army/Shi’ites clash against what is seen as a hypocritical plan to ban the Islamic Movement using terms that do not relate to the Zaria pogrom.

This was stated by the head of the IMN legal team Barrister Festus Okoye while briefing newsmen today in Kaduna on the recent stance of the team.

He said, “The determination of the evolution of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, its legal status, organization, structure, membership, growth, assets, resources, culture and practices have nothing to do with the events that took place in Zaria between the 12th and 14th of December 2016”

He added that if the government had to determine the evolution and growth of the IMN, it also has to do the same for the Army “The Kaduna State Government should also go ahead to determine the legal status and evolution of the Nigerian military.”

He reminded the government of the constitutional rights of the IMN to commune and congregate “Those that set up the Commission are aware that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) guarantees freedom of association and no government is permitted to abridge the said rights.”

The team of lawyers also expressed concern over government’s plan to ban the Islamic movement using the commission as a means, “We believe that the said clause was inserted in a desperate move to find justification for the banning of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria” he said.

He added, “The Legal Team of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria will not be used and will not allow itself to be used to legitimize a pre-determined position and agenda against the Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.”

The team of lawyers representing the Movement has therefore withdrawn its participation and representation before the commission.

Barrister Okoye explained that the team took the stance after tireless but unsuccessful efforts to meet and confer with the leader of the Movement Sheikh Ibrheem Zakzaky who they are representing at the Commission that has been in detention since the incident.

He explained how the efforts of the team to meet the leader of the movement have not yielded any positive results “From the inception of the Commission, we made it clear that we appeared out of respect to the Commission. We also made it clear that Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as well as its spokesperson and custodian of its properties. We therefore consider it out of place for the Commission to turn around and claim that it is satisfied that the team of lawyers has been properly briefed by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. What the Commission has done and seeks to do is to graft the team of lawyers to a brief in which they are yet to have any form of briefing from the leader of the Islamic Movement and his wife that have been in the custody of the security agencies since the 14thn day of December 2105 “ he said.

Barrister Okoye further declared as unethical for the team of lawyers to continue representing a client it has never gotten any briefs from or to present a written memo on his behalf without his consent. “We believe it is unethical and professionally wrong to pretend to be representing a client and the wife that have been held by the government and have not been seen in public” he said.

He added, “We cannot in good conscience continue to pretend to represent a client that we are not sure of his state of health considering the fact that he was shot severally by the Nigerian Military before he was taken away. We cannot in good conscience continue to represent a client that we are not aware whether he is alive or dead”.

Also in attendance at the briefing was Suhaila Ibraheem Zakzaky the daughter of the leader of the movement who briefly explained how her father was abducted and how the Army shot at them and killed those present at the house including three of her brothers.

She also said that her father was shot at severally as well as her mother adding that several people were burnt alive as the house was set ablaze by the A

http://en.abna24.com/service/africa/archive/2016/03/26/743185/story.html

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India

 

Team of Investigators Probing Pathankot Attack Arrives In New Delhi

DAWN.COM

Mar 27, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Pathankot air base attack arrived in New Delhi on Sunday, Radio Pakistan reported.

The team earlier departed from the Wagah Border, official sources confirmed, and will be joined by another official in New Delhi.

After holding a meeting with the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi, they will depart for Pathankot, the sources said.

A five-member JIT was constituted by the Punjab government in February, a week after a First-Information Report (FIR) was filed by the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department against the Pathankot attackers at a Gujranwala police station.

The JIT comprises Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammad Tahir Rai (convener), Lahore Deputy Director General (DDG) Intelligence Bureau Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Col Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence Lt-Col Irfan Mirza and Gujranwala CTD Investigating Officer Shahid Tanveer (members).

Indian media reports claim Lt-Col Tanvir Ahmed will become the first ISI officer to visit an Indian military facility with official permission.

HindustanTimes reported that the team will receive limited access to the Pathankot airbase, and will be allowed to examine three witnesses.

The Pathankot air base attack occurred just days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a 'surprise' visit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and the occasion of his granddaughter's wedding a move that appeared to promise better relations between the neighbouring countries in the coming year.

After Modi's visit, the Pakistani and Indian foreign secretaries were scheduled to meet to discuss modalities regarding the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue agreed upon during Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference in December.

The dialogue was to take on matters related to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage, Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges and religious tourism.

However, the meeting between the foreign secretaries is yet to take place.

Earlier this month, Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, after a meeting with Sushma Swaraj, had said an investigation team from Pakistan would visit India to probe the Pathankot air base attack on March 27.

The visit of the Pathankot JIT comes just days before a possible meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

India media reports claim the foreign secretaries of both countries, whose meeting to restart the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) in January was derailed by the Pathankot attack, are due to meet in Washington.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1248250/team-of-investigators-probing-pathankot-attack-arrives-in-new-delhi

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PM Modi likely to meet Nawaz Sharif in Washington DC on March 31

Mar 26,2016

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be in the United States next week to attend the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit, is likely to meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Washington DC on March 31.

Prime Minister Modi is set to begin his three nation visit to Belgium, the United States and Saudi Arabia on March 30.

The Prime Minister is beginning his trip from Belgium, from where he would depart for Washington DC to attend the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit on March 31 and April 1.

The Nuclear Security Summit process has been instrumental in focusing leaders' level attention on the global threat posed by nuclear terrorism and urgent measures required to prevent terrorists and other non-state actors from gaining access to sensitive nuclear materials and technologies.

From the United States, Prime Minister Modi will proceed for an official visit to Saudi Arabia on April 2 and 3.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/PM-Modi-likely-to-meet-Nawaz-Sharif-in-Washington-DC-on-March-31/articleshow/51565436.cms

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pope-tempers-easter-sunday-message-with-denunciation-of-terror/d/106772


 

 

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