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President Kovind, PM Modi Wish People on Eid-e-Milad-Un-Nabi

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 Nov 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted people on the occasion of Eid-Milad-un-Nabi(PTI)


Ayodhya Case: Muslim Body Cancels Eid-e-Milad Processions in Gujarat Cities

In Assam, Muslim Outfit to Donate Rs 5 Lakh for Building Temple in Ayodhya

Ayodhya Verdict: Sunni, Shia Waqf Boards Won’t File Review Plea

Islam Introduced Concept of First Welfare State in Human History: PM Imran

India, Pakistan Have ‘Zero’ Contact Despite Border Cooperation: Islamabad

Uyghurs Are Facing 'Cultural Genocide' In China But In Australia They're Fighting For Their History

Kurds Tell EU: Get Tough with Turkey or Face ISIS Fighters

Upshot of Trump’s Bigotry: More Muslims Are Getting Elected!

Desecration of Muslim Graves Might Be Linked To Christian Cult, Says Expert



President Kovind, PM Modi Wish People on Milad-Un-Nabi

Ayodhya Case: Muslim Body Cancels Eid-e-Milad Processions in Gujarat Cities

In Assam, Muslim Outfit to Donate Rs 5 Lakh for Building Temple in Ayodhya

Ayodhya Verdict: Sunni, Shia Waqf Boards Won’t File Review Plea

Ayodhya case verdict: Secularism not easy to crush, says academic

Sunni Waqf Board slams Owaisi

'No More Politics on the Issue': Common Refrain among Muslim Residents in Ayodhya Post SC Verdict

Evidence of Ram Worship, Muslim Parties Unable to Prove Ownership: Why SC Ruled in Favour of Temple

Muslim point valid: Janmasthan not deity

Ayodhya judgment is out, now fix the economy, say Muslims in Delhi

Ayodhya Verdict: Hindu, Muslim religious leaders distribute sweets in Himachal's Hamirpur after SC judgment

Ayodhya: Five-acre plot for mosque may be across river Saryu

Ayodhya: Regional parties sing in unison, welcome SC verdict as ‘historic’

Ayodhya verdict to strengthen unity & integrity of India: Amit Shah

Ayodhya verdict: Lawyers slogged without a break, a junior put off her engagement

Muslim point valid: Janmasthan not deity

Damage, desecration & demolition of Babri Masjid illegal acts, says SC

As Modi thanks Imran on Kartarpur, Pakistan rakes up Kashmir, Ayodhya

Pakistan-linked company in fray for Indian e-passport chips: Vyapam whistle-blower to PMO

Don't interfere in Kashmir, stop 'eyeing' Punjab: Amarinder Singh to Pakistan

Pakistan opens visa-free border crossing for India Sikhs



Islam Introduced Concept of First Welfare State in Human History: PM Imran

India, Pakistan Have ‘Zero’ Contact Despite Border Cooperation: Islamabad

Sikhs Praise PM Imran for Making Kartarpur Dream Come True

Lift all restrictions in Kashmir: Pak PM Imran tells India at Kartarpur inauguration ceremony

Pakistan's ailing ex-premier Nawaz Sharif to leave for London on Sunday

Has the MQM founder breached his bail conditions?

NA sees heated debate amid snap polls prediction

' This is the beginning': PM Imran inaugurates Kartarpur Corridor on historic day

Prophet's birth 'purified civilisation', says PM Imran in message on Eid-i-Miladun Nabi

Babri Mosque, Lahore Gurdwara: Legal parallels, different outcome

President, PM urge nation to follow Iqbal’s message of self-esteem

Azadi Marchers holding ‘Seerat-un-Nabi’ Conference for 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal


Southeast Asia

Uyghurs Are Facing 'Cultural Genocide' In China But In Australia They're Fighting For Their History

Rahmatan lil 'Alamin starts with Assalamualaikum

Malay bibles not a threat to Muslims, backbencher tells Penang legislative assembly

ISIS preys on domestic workers in Hong Kong, Singapore



Kurds Tell EU: Get Tough with Turkey or Face ISIS Fighters

For Iran, Neighbors Always Come First, Zarif Says At 24th ECO Summit

Iran Slams US Human Rights Claims As 'Shameless Hypocrisy'

Yemen: Thousands mark Prophet Mohammad's birthday in Sana'a

Turkey-Affiliated Forces, Terrorists Clash with Syrian Army in Hasaka

Spokesman Raps Netanyahu for Lies about Iran's Intention to Develop N. Weapon

Iran Unveils Home-Made Tank Transporter

Iran able to enrich uranium up to 60 percent: Official

Government soldiers take back northern Syrian village from Turkish forces, allies

Saudi-led aggressors have to bear tragic consequences if Yemen war persists: Houthi

Yemeni president directs state agencies to implement Riyadh agreement


North America

Upshot of Trump’s Bigotry: More Muslims Are Getting Elected!

Pompeo Slams Iran 'Intimidation' Of IAEA Inspector As 'Outrageous'

Over 77,000 inmates lodged in 114 jails with capacity of 57,742, SC told

US-born ISIS bride appeals again to come home from Syria



Desecration of Muslim Graves Might Be Linked To Christian Cult, Says Expert

Judge slams council after three Muslim children were ‘fed bacon sandwiches while in foster care’

First Presidency Welcomes Leader of Muslim World League

Bosnian Jews and Muslims tell the story of ‘Sarajevo’s Purim’

UK admits assisting Saudi royal family guard enforce 'public order'

Muslims' call to prayer blocked in Holland

Some Syrian refugees say they would rather remain in Turkey

Turkey says it will participate in Syria summit with Britain, France and Germany


South Asia

Airstrike Kills Taliban Commander Who Had Killed 3 Judges In Logar Provinces

Taliban’s shadow judge, Red Unit commander and 2 Uzbek militants killed in Faryab

Airstrikes kill 13 ISIS militants in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan

Ghostriders help Afghan forces both on battlefield and psychologically: U.S. military officials


Arab World

Amid Heightened Violence during Protests, Iraqi PM Promises New Electoral Reform

UN Finds: Morsi's Death ‘State-Sanctioned Arbitrary Killing’

Muslim World League chief meets Trump adviser, US researchers

UAE calls on Iran to seek new deal with world powers, region

Heavy fighting between Syrian and Turkish troops

Four Syrian soldiers killed in clashes with Turkish-led forces

Iraqi forces push protesters back to main square, kill five

Two security forces killed in blast in Egypt’s Sinai, say officials

Iran says it is now enriching uranium to five percent

Lebanon’s grand mufti calls for protesters’ demands to be met



Congolese Forces Kill 25 Militants In Eastern Offensive: Army

'So many dead' in attack on mine workers in Burkina Faso: Survivors

UN experts say Libya airstrike likely tied to Haftar allies

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




President Kovind, PM Modi Wish People on Milad-Un-Nabi

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday wished people on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi - the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

Extending the wishes, the President wrote on Twitter: "On the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), good wishes to all fellow citizens, especially to our Muslim brothers and sisters in India and abroad. His message of universal brotherhood and compassion inspires us to work for the well being of all."

Prime Minister Modi tweeted: "Greetings on Milad-Un-Nabi. Inspired by the thoughts of Prophet Muhammad, may this day further the spirit of harmony and compassion in society. May there be peace all around."



Ayodhya Case: Muslim Body Cancels Eid-e-Milad Processions in Gujarat Cities

November 9, 2019

The Muslim community in several cities in Gujarat has decided to call off processions to mark Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, to be held on Sunday, Ahmedabad Congress MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh said.

These processions will not be held in Ahmedabad, Surat, Godhra and Bharuch, all cities with sizable Muslim populations, he added.

In a statement, Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi Central Committee of Ahmedabad said the decision to cancel the procession was taken on Saturday evening after consulting community leaders, MLAs and scholars.

"In view of the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya today, we have decided not to take out Eid-e-Milad procession on Sunday. Though police has given us permission, we feel a stray incident during the procession can vitiate the peaceful atmosphere. We want communal harmony to remain intact," said Habib Mev, the committee's general secretary.

He claimed it is the first time in three-decades that the procession has been cancelled in Ahmedabad.

"Before taking this decision, we consulted leaders, including Shaikh. All of them advised us not to take out the procession in the interest of peace and harmony. We have learnt that committees in other cities have also decided likewise," said Mev.

The procession in Ahmedabad, normally comprising 100 trucks, moves for about three kilometers in Muslim dominated areas of the Old City and over 4 lakh people take part in it, he said.

"Looking at the current situation, a small mischief can create a law and order situation. As per my knowledge, 99 per cent processions to be taken out tomorrow across the state have been called off for the sake of peace and communal harmony," said Dariyapur MLA Shaikh.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.



In Assam, Muslim Outfit to Donate Rs 5 Lakh for Building Temple in Ayodhya

Nov 09, 2019

A Muslim students’ body from Assam has announced that it will donate Rs 1 lakh for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

The All Assam Goriya Moriya Yuva Chatra Parishad, a youth and student council of indigenous Muslims in Assam, made the announcement after the Supreme Court verdict on the matter on Saturday.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s historic verdict. We urge everyone to accept the verdict and maintain peace and harmony. Our organization will provide Rs 1 lakh for the construction of the Ram Temple,” a statement issued by the organization’s general secretary Mainul Haque said.



Ayodhya Verdict: Sunni, Shia Waqf Boards Won’t File Review Plea

Nov 10, 2019

LUCKNOW: The UP Sunni Waqf Board, a key litigant in the Ayodhya case, welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict and said it will not file a review or curative petition.

The Shia Central Waqf Board, another party in the case, also hailed the judgment, but said the five acres allocated to the Sunni board should have been given to it. However, the Shia board clarified it would not go in for an appeal.

The Sunni board’s chairman Zufar Faruqi said, “Any statement in this regard by an individual, lawyer or organisation which mentions that UP Sunni Central Waqf Board will go for a review is not our line.” Faruqi was referring to the reaction of Sunni board counsel Zafaryab Jilani earlier in the day, saying the verdict has contradictions. “We will seek a review,” Jilani had said.

But he later clarified that he had reacted as AIMPLB secretary and not as the Sunni board counsel. Faruqi said Muslim outfits, in general, had agreed earlier that they would welcome whatever verdict SC pronounced. However, Shia board chief Wasim Rizvi questioned the granting of land to Sunni board, saying Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi, a Shia.



Islam Introduced Concept of First Welfare State in Human History: PM Imran

Nov 09 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that State of Madina established by Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was a guiding principle for the people of all ages as it had not merely focused the betterment of Muslims but the whole humanity.

In his message on the occasion of Eid Milad-un-Nabi being celebrated on Sunday to mark the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), the prime minister said Islam had introduced the concept of first welfare state in the human history which was executed by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and his companions.

He said the high principles being followed by today’s modern welfare states had already been practiced by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) by establishing State of Medina in the age of darkness and the deteriorating society.

Moreover, the companions of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) further enriched this concept through ensuring justice and equality in their respective tenures which was the golden chapter of the world history.

Congratulating the people and the Muslim Ummah on Eid Milad-un-Nabi, the prime minister said the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was the embodiment of high morals who had started preaching Islam after getting recognition as truthful and honest.

He said the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had never told lie nor breached the trust. He had not only accepted the norms of other religions but also committed to adhere to those at the time when one could not imagine so.

The prime minister said the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), through his good governance, had established such a welfare state that had guaranteed equal rights to everyone besides giving religious freedom to all the citizens.

These were the golden principles of the State of Madina which did not exist in any state of that era, he added.



India, Pakistan Have ‘Zero’ Contact Despite Border Cooperation: Islamabad

Nov 9, 2019

Islamabad says there are “zero” contacts between Pakistan and India, despite the opening of a border crossing between the two nuclear-armed neighbors for Indian pilgrims to visit a Sikh temple, which was a landmark act of cooperation between the two rivals.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi described the gloomy picture of Islamabad-New Delhi relations during an interview with Reuters on Friday, the news organization reported on Saturday.

He added that the bilateral ties had not been as strained as they are now since the two sides fought on their border for months in the northern area of Kargil back in 1999.

“There is no back channel. We’ve had wars, things have been worse than this, but things are bad,” Qureshi said.

Under a border crossing pact signed by the two sides, Sikh pilgrims are allowed to have a visa-free access from India to the Pakistani town of Kartarpur, home to a temple marking the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, died.

“The founder of Sikhism was born here. This is our real home,” said a 32-year-old pilgrim from New Delhi on his first visit to Pakistan, adding that Pakistani and Indian Sikhs, though wearing different lanyards, have mingled inside the temple complex.

In a statement, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan described the pact as a “testimony of our commitment towards peace of the region.”

Both Islamabad and New Delhi hope that when fully operational, around 5,000 pilgrims will be able to cross into Pakistan on a daily basis via the new checkpoint, a huge increase on current numbers.

The two countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. They came close to a fourth in February this year after a terrorist bomb attack by a purported Pakistan-based militant group claimed the lives of scores of Indian paramilitary troopers in the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region, which both countries claim.

The bilateral relations have been particularly tense since August, when New Delhi stripped autonomy and statehood from its portion of Kashmir and imposed a further wave of crackdown on dissent there. Islamabad reacted by severing trade and transport ties and expelling India’s ambassador.



Uyghurs Are Facing 'Cultural Genocide' In China But In Australia They're Fighting For Their History

On a rainy evening in Melbourne, the Collingwood Town Hall comes alive with a whirl of colour.

Key points:

Australia's Uyghurs are celebrating traditional song and dance to defy Beijing

Experts say China is enacting 'cultural genocide' by attacking language and religion

Restaurants serving Uyghur food are building a sense of community

At a vibrant celebration of traditional Uyghur music, the crowd rises to their feet and dances, blurring the line between the audience and the performers.

The Uyghur people — and their culture — are under threat in China's far north-western region of Xinjiang.

More than a million Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, have been rounded up and detained in mass internment camps.

China rejects comparisons to "concentration camps" — Beijing has repeatedly said the facilities are vocational centres or "boarding schools" that are necessary to prevent "extremism" and "terrorism".

But China's campaign against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities extends far beyond restrictions to freedom and thought — it also attempts to sever them from their roots, history and lineage.

This, experts say, amounts to "cultural genocide".

But in Australia, defiant Uyghurs like Ms Ashmajy — whose sister is detained in Xinjiang — are determined to celebrate and share their rich culture.

"We want to be a voice for voiceless people who are suffering in concentration camps."

Firstly — who exactly are the Uyghurs?

The Uyghurs are of central Asian ethnicity and began converting to Islam in the 10th century.

The vast majority of the world's Uyghurs live in Xinjiang — which is geographically closer to Tehran than Beijing — but there are also large communities outside China's western borders, such as in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

The Uyghurs declared a short-lived independent state of East Turkestan in the mid-19th century, but it was subsumed as an "autonomous" region — similar to Tibet — by the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Some Uyghurs still refer to their homeland as East Turkestan today.

Uyghurs speak their own language — also called Uyghur — which is written in modified Arabic.

It is similar to Uzbek, Kazak and Turkish, and Uyghurs can often understand and communicate in those languages.

For Nadira Yusuf, who runs a language school for Uyghur children in Melbourne, keeping Australian-born children connected to their heritage is key.

"Our language is completely banned in China," she said.

"I still hope one day when we go back, the kids will be able to communicate with their grandparents."

'Without Muqam, there is no Uyghur'

Shohrat Tursun is a master of Uyghur Muqam — a UNESCO-protected Islamic melodic tradition unique to his people.

Draped in a gold-lined tunic, he strums a long-necked lute and sings. His voice swells to a point where it sounds very far away, until it is joined by other voices and re-tethered to the room.

Mr Tursun, who worked as a truck driver and at a chicken factory when he first moved to Australia, said the artform is inextricably entwined with his people.

"Without Muqam there is no Uyghur. To speak of Uyghur people is to speak of Muqam, and to speak of Muqam is to speak of the Uyghurs," he said.

"The customs, way of life, joys and sorrows, all kinds of experiences of the Uyghur people are all embodied in Muqam.

Performed for more than a thousand years, the music is imbued with history and religious significance, incorporating strings, drums and the piano accordion.

If all 12 cycles of this music were to be performed in one sitting, it would take 24 hours.

Ethnomusicologist and Uyghur culture expert Elise Anderson told the ABC the artform tackles what it means to be human and to grapple with the divine — it is also infused with a nationalist yearning for a homeland.

According to Dr Anderson, Uyghur music has managed to evade Chinese censors for decades — for example, by referring to God (or Allah) in vague terms as a "lover" — but in recent years Beijing's cultural crackdown has escalated to unprecedented levels.

'Cultural genocide' ripping at the threads of identity

Beyond the mass detentions, China has waged a campaign to stamp out many facets of Uyghur culture.

In the re-education centres, Uyghurs are taught to write and speak in Mandarin, instructed in Chinese Communist Party thought and discouraged from practicing Islam.

Mosques have been destroyed or are required to fly the Chinese flag.

Poets and professors have been detained, while majors in the subject of Muqam are no longer offered at universities.

Even the use of Islamic names, the growing of "abnormal beards" and the wearing of veils have been prohibited by Beijing.

Further, a policy document unearthed by Adrian Zenz orders officials to "break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins".

"Cultural genocide is an appropriate term," Dr Anderson said, for what is unfolding in Xinjiang.

"We are seeing this systematic attempt to wipe things out, this systematic attempt to eliminate," she said.

China "is interested in moulding Uyghurs into these perfect Chinese citizens that it has imagined," she added, and Uyghur people were being prevented from speaking their own language, reading their own books and listening to their own music.

"It's a very personal kind of invasion of your life. But it's also something that rips away the threads that connect you to the other people around you and to a sense of tradition that for Uyghurs in particular, is very, very important — very potent."

"It's really traumatic, and it's the kind of trauma that I think can be inherited … I think that the effects of this are going to ripple for generations and generations to come."

Forced to eat forbidden food, Uyghurs dance to defy Beijing

The control also extends to cuisine.

Roshan Sawut and her husband, Sidik Dawut, opened the Karlaylisi restaurant in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray not long after returning from a visit to their family in Xinjiang.

Beaming in the kitchen, Mr Dawut deftly spins and lengthens the noodles; his wife says his skill derives from his 16 years as a surgeon before he moved to Australia.

The cuisine is a melting pot of Asian and Turkish food, encompassing hand-pulled noodles, crispy dumplings, homemade breads and skewered meats.

But since they are Muslims who subscribe to a halal diet, you will not find alcohol or pork on the menu.

"We can feel the high pressure on our people. We heard really sad stories from our neighbours. To be honest, you can hardly believe it."

Ms Sawut said she has not been able to contact her mother for more than two and a half years, but that bringing the tastes of her homeland to Australia has helped build a sense of community.

"After we opened this business, we got lots of really beautiful customers from all different backgrounds," she said.

"They heard the sad story happening in Xinjiang, so some of our customers bring flowers. We can't survive without our community."

For Uyghurs, this yearning for home and passion for their culture is poetically inscribed in the Muqam.

"With that ink, I will write a letter that I will send to my lover Allah. And through that letter, I will come to see the divine."

For Ms Ashmajy, the singer, there's a poignant irony in being free to celebrate her traditions here, but not in her traditional home.

"We want to tell the world we never give up," she said.



Kurds tell EU: Get tough with Turkey or face ISIS fighters

 9 November 2019

The European Union could face a wave of returning battle-hardened ISIS fighters from Syria unless it gets much tougher with Turkey, including breaking off any accession or trade talks, a senior Kurdish leader told Reuters.

President Donald Trump’s announcement in early October that he was pulling US forces from northeast Syria paved the way for a Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia who had been at the forefront of fighting against ISIS.

Trump’s move surprised both Britain and France and was cast as a betrayal by the Kurds, who lost thousands of fighters in the battle against ISIS extremists in the deadly crucible of Syria’s 8-1/2 year war.

Ilham Ahmed, a Kurdish political leader and co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) executive, said in an interview that the EU should get tough with Turkey or it would soon face a wave of ISIS militants arriving in Europe.

“The threat is very big due to the arbitrary way in which the United States has withdrawn. This has allowed many (ISIS) members to escape and they will make their way back to their countries to continue their terrorist activities.”

“This poses a big threat to Britain and to Europe in general,” Ahmed added.

ISIS once boasted a “caliphate” across swathes of Syria and Iraq and claimed deadly attacks across the world, though it is now in disarray, landless and leaderless after the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a US special forces raid in northwestern Syria last month.

But in the tumult created by the US withdrawal and the Turkish offensive, Ahmed said, Islamic State fighters could escape and travel over porous borders to Europe.

She called on Europe to send 2,000 troops to secure the Syrian-Turkish border and prevent fighters crossing, and to cease all arms sales to Turkey. “Our people are being killed by European weapons,” she said.

Turkey says it will ensure that any ISIS detainees in territory it has captured will remain in detention.

Chemical weapons accusation

Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist organization because of its links to Kurdish militants in southeastern Turkey. The SDC is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG is the main component.

The Kurds are mainly Sunni Muslims who speak a language related to Farsi and live in a mountainous region straddling the borders of Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. They have never obtained a permanent nation state.

Ahmed also said the West should investigate Turkey’s alleged use of chemical weapons against the Kurds. She called on Europe to ensure Ankara was held responsible for what she said were Turkish war crimes during its offensive.

“EU-candidate Turkey is not the same Turkey you think you know - it is now a radical ISIS and you, Europe, should understand that,” Ahmed said, adding that the EU should cut off accession talks with Turkey and scrap any trade deals.

“Turkey needs to be afraid and it is not right now,” Ahmed said, adding that top level ISIS militants had found refuge in Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria.

A senior US State Department official said last week that about 99 percent of some 10,000 suspected ISIS militants captured and jailed in YPG-controlled areas of northern Syria since the demise of their caliphate remain incarcerated, “and we’re quite confident that that’s going to remain that way”.

Turkey has said it would never use chemical weapons and that it has done its utmost to minimize civilian casualties or damage to any religious or historic buildings during the offensive.

When asked about Trump’s comment - in response to accusations of betrayal - that the Kurds had not fought alongside Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 against Nazi Germany, Ahmed said Turkey had not been on the side of the Americans in World War Two.

“At the time of Normandy there was no Kurdish state or Kurdish entity to fight on behalf of the Americans - and Kurds were the victims in that war while the Turks were not with the Americans at the time. So I don’t know why Trump would say what he said,” she said.



Upshot of Trump’s Bigotry: More Muslims Are Getting Elected!

Dean Obeidallah


If Donald Trump thought his despicable attacks on Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were going to intimidate Muslim women from running for office, he doesn’t know Muslim women. In fact, Trump’s comments did just the opposite—they inspired even more Muslim women to not just run for office, but to win.

On Tuesday, four Muslim women from Virginia to Maine to Minnesota won elections and made history as the first to ever hold those positions.  In Virginia, there were two wins. Ghazala Hashmi became the first Muslim woman ever elected to the Virginia State Senate, defeating an incumbent Republican in a red district. While Abrar Omeish, 24, was elected to the Fairfax County School Board, making her not just the first Muslim but, as she told me, the first person of Libyan heritage she believes ever elected to office in the United States.

In Maine, Safiya Khalid, 23, was elected as the first Somali immigrant to serve on the city council in Lewiston. While in Minnesota, another young Muslim immigrant was making history, as 23-year old Nadia Mohamed became the first Somali Muslim ever elected to the St. Louis Park City Council.



Desecration of Muslim graves might be linked to Christian cult, says expert


Cape Town - The desecration of 80 Muslim graves could have been a religious act by a Christian cult, according to analysis by a religious expert from UCT.

On Wednesday last week, Cape Town’s Muslim community was stunned to its core to find dozens of graves in the Mowbray Cemetery had been desecrated. The tombstones were removed and placed in the shape of a giant cross, spanning the top section of the burial ground.

In addition, strange symbols had been etched into some of the empty graves which had been prepared for funerals later that day. Shaykh Riad Fataar, second deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and chair of its cemetery management committee, said the act was far more sinister than mere vandalism.

“This was an act of religious intolerance that can only be described as Islamophobic. This was a co-ordinated attack on a sacred place and must be condemned in the strongest terms,” he said.

The MJC sought out the analysis of UCT’s experts in interpreting the signs that had been left in the area, in the hope that it might lead to the identification of the perpetrator or perpetrators.

Professor Asonzeh Ukah, head of the Department of Religious Studies at UCT, examined the symbology left on the graves, and could find no clear references to existing religions, aside from the giant cross.

“I have taken some time to examine these photos and, beyond a clearly discernible cross, it’s difficult to make out any symbols, religious or ‘cultish’ or social or political,” he said.

Ukah said the fact that tombstones were removed from Muslim graves and arranged in the shape of a cross gave the impression that the perpetrators had a religious motive for their act.

“The largeness of the ‘cross’ could be interpreted as claiming the physical space for Christians and Christianity,” he said.

“However, caution needs to be exercised in following this sort of interpretation because it could be that the perpetrators constructed their cross sign just to throw off their scent and emplace a Christian motive to disguise their identity and ideology.

“Likely, and because of the ‘cross’, it is more likely a Christian cult playout.”

The attack occurred the day before Halloween, but Ukah could find no clear link to groups who may celebrate Halloween.

“As far as Halloween goes, local Wiccans and other pagan groups, along with all others in the southern hemisphere, do not celebrate this event. They celebrate Samhain/Halloween on April 30th,” he wrote.

While the investigation is ongoing to find the perpetrators of the grave attack, Fataar and the MJC have called on the City of Cape Town to improve security at the cemetery.

“We call for more lighting and a sturdier perimeter fence to be erected, to make it difficult for vandals to access the cemetery.”





In Assam, Muslim outfit to donate Rs 1 lakh for building temple in Ayodhya

Nov 09, 2019

A Muslim students’ body from Assam has announced that it will donate Rs 1 lakh for the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

The All Assam Goriya Moriya Yuva Chatra Parishad, a youth and student council of indigenous Muslims in Assam, made the announcement after the Supreme Court verdict on the matter on Saturday.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s historic verdict. We urge everyone to accept the verdict and maintain peace and harmony. Our organization will provide Rs 1 lakh for the construction of the Ram Temple,” a statement issued by the organization’s general secretary Mainul Haque said.



Ayodhya Verdict: Sunni, Shia Waqf Boards Won’t File Review Plea

Nov 10, 2019

LUCKNOW: The UP Sunni Waqf Board, a key litigant in the Ayodhya case, welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict and said it will not file a review or curative petition.

The Shia Central Waqf Board, another party in the case, also hailed the judgment, but said the five acres allocated to the Sunni board should have been given to it. However, the Shia board clarified it would not go in for an appeal.

The Sunni board’s chairman Zufar Faruqi said, “Any statement in this regard by an individual, lawyer or organisation which mentions that UP Sunni Central Waqf Board will go for a review is not our line.” Faruqi was referring to the reaction of Sunni board counsel Zafaryab Jilani earlier in the day, saying the verdict has contradictions. “We will seek a review,” Jilani had said.

But he later clarified that he had reacted as AIMPLB secretary and not as the Sunni board counsel. Faruqi said Muslim outfits, in general, had agreed earlier that they would welcome whatever verdict SC pronounced. However, Shia board chief Wasim Rizvi questioned the granting of land to Sunni board, saying Babri Masjid was built by Mir Baqi, a Shia.



Ayodhya case verdict: Secularism not easy to crush, says academic

By G.S. Mudur


Neeti Nair, associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, the US, had waited long past midnight for India’s Supreme Court to deliver the Ayodhya verdict. Nair, who graduated in history from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and obtained a PhD from Tufts University in the US, has been studying the challenges to secularism in India and is working on the legal and political history of “hurt sentiments” and blasphemy in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars spoke to G.S. Mudur about the verdict and the future of secularism in India.

 Your first thoughts on the judgment?

A judgment in favour of the construction of a temple at the disputed site was to be expected given the political context in India today, the progress of the case, and recent trends in jurisprudence.

Yet I was disappointed at how, once more, the law has been used to convert an act — the destruction of the mosque — that the justices themselves deemed unlawful into a trust for the sole use of the Hindu community. The statements preceding the verdict — about Hindus worshipping outside at the railing and Muslims worshipping inside — had led me to think there would be some joint arrangement.

What impact do you think the judgment would have on either community? Will the ruling be viewed in terms of defeat and victory?

Yes, the ruling will be considered a victory for the Hindus. However, I don’t think most Muslims have very high expectations of India at this juncture.I doubt many will be surprised at the verdict. The judgment does grant the Sunni wakf board five acres in a prominent part of Ayodhya to build a mosque. I suppose this means that Muslims are not entirely persona non grata, in this instance at least.

It will be interesting to see the ruling in its entirety. Apart from a line in favour of secularism as a basic feature of the Constitution, do the justices have more to say on the matter? Have they anything to say against similar demands for mosque destruction and temple building in the decades to come? Or, will each case proceed like this one has -– with large-scale mobilisation, court-acknowledged unlawful destruction of religious property, and the final verdict in favour of the majority community?

You are due to deliver a talk in Delhi next month whose abstract starts by saying ‘Secularism in India did not collapse overnight’. Could you explain this and share your thoughts on how the court judgment might affect this process?

It depends on what you mean by secularism. In my talk, I will elaborate on the shifting meanings of secularism through the course of the twentieth century. Reports suggest that Hindus and Muslims in Ayodhya continue to live in peace and seem to take the increasing security presence around them in their stride. The extra police and security is apparently to guard against outsiders disturbing the peace in Ayodhya, as had happened in December 1992.

The Ayodhya issue has become, over the decades, so sensitive that it is hard to imagine what kind of troop deployment would have been required if the verdict had gone the other way. Having said this, I also believe that the Supreme Court has never been the sole arbiter of India’s destiny. Its judgment will determine, only in some measure, the fate of Indian secularism.

I conceive of secularism as a many-armed deity, if you will, not so easy to vanquish even after all these decades of striving. This is not to underestimate in any way the rhetorical power of the court’s declaration that secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution. For that iteration, one remains grateful.

You said secularism is not easy to vanquish. Does that reflect optimism about the future of secularism in India?

Let me put it this way. What is it that we, who still have faith in secularism, prize about secularism today? Distilled to its essence, Indian secularism is about living together, adjusting, allowing a little more room for each other, allowing each other to simply, and still, belong, on terms of equal respect and dignity. It remains the only conceivable ethic, along with federalism, that can bind us all --- Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, Dalits of every religion --- to the territory that is India.

I find strength in the increasing numbers of voices speaking up about the atrocities still being committed in Kashmir. The postcards that students at St Stephen’s and other colleges sent to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, for instance, may not amount to much, but if youth in India still find the Prime Minister’s office approachable, and are moved by their fellow Kashmiri classmates’ pain, there’s hope in that.

I find the work of human rights activists such as Harsh Mander, and the labours of lawyers and law students who have founded Parichay, a collaboration between law schools that hopes to use legal aid to assist individuals in Assam who are on the verge of losing their Indian citizenship, very inspiring. I also see the election results in Maharashtra and Haryana as indicative of a turn in the way the BJP is being perceived, especially in Maharashtra where there seems to be little appetite for sustained bullying.

How would you view the two events --- the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid and the judgment that will pave the way for a temple?

The 1992 destruction was a pre-planned, carefully thought-through, concerted attack led by televised mobs on what had become a powerful symbol of Indian Muslim identity as well as Hindu ressentiment. Almost half of India’s citizens today were not born at the time. What do they know of it and wish to know of it? Perhaps all they want, in 2019, is for this dispute to be resolved, to the satisfaction of all the major parties involved.

Today is also the date for the official inauguration of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. It is worth recalling that in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the Babri Masjid, temples were subject to retaliatory attacks across Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a measure of the distance travelled in Pakistan that it is now restoring temples, publishing books on its multi-religious archaeological heritage, and taking the initiative for the Kartarpur Corridor.

Where Pakistan, once dismissed as “theocratic”, can seek to forge ties out of respect for a minority (Sikh) community’s faith, it hardly behoves India, still claiming to be secular, to renege from its constitutional commitment to allow its minority communities the right to worship at their various religious shrines without fear of further demolitions. There is such a thing as moving forward, and beyond the recriminations of another age.



Sunni Waqf Board slams Owaisi

November 9, 2019

Political and religious leaders across the board are calling for peace and harmony as the Supreme Court has cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

In one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India's history, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.Follow Ayodhya verdict LIVE updates here

The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a "prominent site" and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born. The site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

As the SC order has come in, leaders across the nation have impored people to not to spread inflamatory messages or burst crackers. Religious bodies, including Ajmr Sharif Dargah have asked people to respect the Supreme Court and accept he verdict. For full coverage of Ayodhya case, click here

4.17pm: Sunni Waqf Board accepts SC decision and refutes reports of a review petition. The board chairman has also slammed Owaisi.

4.17pm: Uddhav Thackeray hails SC decision, says will Ayodhya on November 24.

"This is red-letter day in country's history. I will again go to Shivneri and also likely to go to Ayodhya. I also remember Ashok Singhal's contribution. And also appreciate LK Advani for his contribution and will meet him soon."

3.47pm: Salman Nizami slams Owaisi's statement: Why to reject the 5-acre land? Owaisi is not the 'thekedar' of 200+ million Muslims. We must build the 'Mosque', also an institute where both Hindus & Muslims can study together. No one should feel disgusted. Hatred & evil designs can be dealt with only with positive energies and thoughts!

3.50pm: Jama Masjid's Shahi Imam accepts SC verdict. "The SC verdict is correct because we all had said that we will accept the verdict delivered by the SC. Now, Muslims must not challenge it and should accept the decision as is."

3.28pm: Shia Cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad: We humbly accept SC verdict, I am thankful to god that Muslims, by and large, have accepted this verdict and the dispute has ended now. Though it's their (Muslim Personal law board) right to file review petition I think the matter should just end now

3.20pm: "While respecting the historic, unanimous decision given by the Supreme Court in relation to the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute today as per the secular Constitution of Param Pujya Baba Saheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, all future action should only be taken in an amicable atmosphere. This is an appeal and suggestion," the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.

3.10pm: BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain: Every organisation of the nation has said that the Supreme Court’s decision will be supreme and we will respect that. Everyone should accept this historical decision. This is not the victory or defeat of anyone. This is not the day of celebration or sadness. We need to move forward with this decision. Peace and brotherhood should be maintained. There will be people who will divert you on TV. Many organisations have accepted it. Asaduddin Owaisi's work is more to break the nation than to bind it. Earlier, he said he will accept the Supreme Court’s decision and should not give any statement which can create unrest in society.

3.10pm: "India is the winner" from the Supreme Court judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said, asserting that people's desire and ability to live together has triumphed. "Further to today's unanimous verdict by 5-Judge bench of Supreme Court on Ayodhya issue, let's leave the past behind and move towards building an India of peace, harmony & prosperity. India is the winner from this judgement. Our desire and ability to live together has triumphed," the Vice President's Secretariat tweeted quoting Naidu.

3.00pm: Sriram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik has welcomed the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute and termed it "historic". "It is a historic judgement. We welcome it," Muthalik told PTI.

"It is a victory of Hindus after their 500 years of struggle and sacrifices", he said. Noting that the verdict has satisfied the "general sentiments", Muthalik appealed to the Centre to immediately take measures to constitute a trust to oversee the construction and management of the proposed temple.

2.46pm: Abhishek Singhvi: A welcome verdict by the Supreme Court & shall lead to finality of the issue. The very fact that its a unanimous jdgmnt is being under appreciated. Its in itself a strong message. No judgment can satisfy everybody. The verdict will close doors of politicising the issue.

2.43pm: The Supreme Court has delivered its verdict on the Ayodhya case. While respecting the court's verdict we all should maintain harmony among us. This is a time of brotherhood, trust and love for all Indians: Rahul Gandhi

2.38pm: Today is a day of happiness for Hindus worldover, says VHP working president Alok Kumar.

2.38pm: Welcoming the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said the trust that will be responsible for the construction of a Ram temple would have to be considerate about keeping people united.

"I welcome the verdict. But the trust that will look after the construction of the Ram temple will have to be considerate about keeping intact unity among people," he told reporters here.

2.47pm: Devendra Fadnavis: We welcome the decision. This verdict strengthens the values of democracy. It's not a victory or defeat of anyone. No need to look at it through any different view. We are witnessing a good atmosphere in Mumbai and maharashtra after the verdict. I thank people of maharashtra for this.

2.23pm: Certain premises of SC judgment questionable: CPI(M) says, "The party has always maintained that the issue should be resolved by a judicial verdict if a negotiated settlement was not possible. While this judgment has provided a judicial resolution to this fractious issue there are certain premises of the judgment which are questionable. The Court judgment has itself stated that the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 was a violation of law. This was a criminal act and an assault on the secular principle. The cases pertaining to the demolition should be expedited and the guilty punished."

The party added, "The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) urges that there should be no provocative acts using the judgment, which will disrupt communal harmony."

2.04pm: Owaisi: Faith has won over fact and I have an apprehension that Sangh will now raise Kashi Mathura.

2.03pm: It's day of happiness, karsevaks have given their life for this. SC while delivering the judgement have taken in to consideration feelings of majority and reality, so, I congratulate them too. Now Ram Mandir construction should start at the earliest. Balasaheb should have been alive today, he would have really happy: Raj Thackeray

2.00pm: Asaduddin Owaisi: Not satisfied with the verdict. Supreme Court is indeed supreme but not infallible. We have full faith in the constitution, we were fighting for our right, we don't need 5 acre land as donation. We should reject this 5 acre land offer, don't patronize us.

1.55pm: Rajinikanth: I respect the Supreme Court judgement. People of all religions should strive hard for wellness and growth of the country. Jai hind. Thank you

1.34pm: Uma Bharti: Today's impartial verdict is welcomed by everyone. This is real tolerance and it has been proved today.



#WATCH Uma Bharti,BJP on #AyodhyaVerdict: Court ne ek nishpaksh kintu divya nirnaya diya hai. Main Advani ji ke ghar mein unko maatha tekne aayi hoon, Advani ji hi veh vyakti the jinhone pseudo-secularism ko challenge kiya tha...unhi ki badaulat aaj hum yahan tak pahunche hain.

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1:48 PM - Nov 9, 2019

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1.25pm: Hindus should help build the mosque to stregthen unity, says Ramdev, requests Hindus not to lose patience and let the government follow the SC orders in construction of Ram temple. "This is a historic verdict. A grand Ram temple will be built. Decision to allot alternate land to Muslim side is welcome, I believe Hindu brothers should help in the construction of the Masjid as well. "

1.11pm: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra welcomes SC verdict and requests people to maintain peace as per Indian tradition.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra


अयोध्या मुद्दे पर भारत की सर्वोच्च अदालत ने फैसला दिया है। सभी पक्षों, समुदायों और नागरिकों को इस फ़ैसले का सम्मान करते हुए हमारी सदियों से चली रही मेलजोल की संस्कृति को बनाए रखना चाहिए। हम सबको एक होकर आपसी सौहार्द और भाईचारे को मजबूत करना होगा।


1:08 PM - Nov 9, 2019

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01.01pm: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat welcomes court order and request people to maintain law and order. Addressing media after the verdict, he congratulated the country over the verdict and hailed the contributions and scarifices of those who fought for Ram temple on the past. "This is final result after decades of legal battle. All parties their argument was heard. We thank all stakeholders. All those who helped and those sacrificed their lives we thanks them. We welcome and thank government for maintaining peace. We should not see it as victory or defeat this judgement. We should forget the past and corporate to ensure a magnificent temple built."

12.55pm: KK Muhammad, former ASI chief: This is the most perfect judgement I can ever think of. I never thought it would be this perfect. For Hindus this place is as important as Mecca and Madina is for Muslims. For Muslims, this is not associated with Prophet Mohammed. It is not associated with any of the saints of Islam. The court has given this verdict based on the evidences supplied by ASI. Now, my stand has been vindicated, this is exactly verdict that we wanted.

12.54pm: This is a historic verdict of Ayodhya and I can say this is the land mark judgement of history. Everyone should accept it. The verdict will strengthen relationship between religion and will also establish a social stronger structure. I appeal to public try to maintain peace and harmony and everyone should accept this verdict with generosity: Rajnath Singh

12.50pm: PM Modi hails Supreme Court for just, balanced judgment. The prime minister, whorecently concludedhi speech at KartarpurCorridor inaguration ceremony at Dera Baba nanak in Punjab, said that it is time for Bharat bhakti for all.

12.42pm: Vinay Katiyar to India Today: We welcome SC's judgment. Ideally Muslims should have got 60by40 square feet. But today they got 5 acres. That's a big win for them too. The day Ram Mandir will be built in Ayodhya, our brothers who got "martyred" in this fight will get justice. This is not BJP's win alone. This is a win for the country.

12.40pm: Kamaal Faruqi, All India Muslim Personal Law Board: Iske badle hume 100 acre zameen bhi de to koi fayda nahi hai.Hamari 67 acre zameen already acquire ki huyi hai to humko daan mein kya de rahe hain vo? Humari 67 acre zameen lene ke baad 5 acre de rahe hain. Ye kahan ka insaaf hai? (Even if yougive us 100 acres of land it won't make a difference. If you take away 67 acres of our land and give us 5 acres somehwere how is it justice?)

12.35pm: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav welcomes SC verdict on Ayodhya

12.33pm: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I wholeheartedly welcome the historic judgment of the Hon. Supreme Court. This has brought joy and relief to people of both communities from a long-standing dispute.

12.29pm: Former VHP president Praveen Togadia: Togadia welcomed the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, saying the apex court's order giving Ram Lala's birth land for Ram Temple is a salute to the sacrifice of lakhs of workers. "Ram Temple at the same place of Ram Birth has been Hindu demand for more than 450 years. Lakhs of Hindus sacrificed their lives, careers, families for this. Today, Supreme Court giving the same land for Shriram Temple is a salute to this sacrifice," Togadia said in a statement.

The former Vishwa Hindu Parishad president urged the Centre to recognize this sacrifice as well.

Echoing similar sentiments, VHP leader Sharad Sharma said they have confidence that the government would build a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya soon.

12.29pm: Amit Shah welcomes unanimous decision by the SC bench.

12.27pm: Let us all wholeheartedly welcome the apex court verdict. This is neither a victory for anyone, nor a defeat for anyone. Don’t react emotionally. Let the harmony and peace prevail: Karnataka CM

12.27pm: Congress in favour of temple constrcution: Supreme Court's verdict has come, we are in favour of the construction of Ram Temple. This judgement not only opened the doors for the temple's construction but also closed the doors for BJP and others to politicise the issue: Randeep Surjewala

On being asked by media if the temple should be constructed on Ayodhya site, Randeep Surjewala said: Supreme Court ka nirnay aa chuka hai, svabhavik taur pe aapke sawal ka jawab haan mein hai, Bhartiye Rashtriye Congress Bhagwan Shri Ram ke Mandir ke nirman ki pakshdhar hai.

12.25pm: Jagdeep Dhankar, WB Governor: I am happy that honourable Supreme Court has decided an issue that was engaged in an attention all over the country. I had appealed yesterday and I am saying so today. The judgement should not be looked as victory or defeat for any one. We all stand for the great unity and the strength of the Nation. The judgement of Supreme Court is not for the judgement of one party or other party. Thats a judgement to be whole heartedly accepted and worked on. I am not here to go through the judgement. I would still appeal every one as Governor of the state of West Bengal a judgement must not seen a victory or defeat. I judgement is a final determination by the highest court of thd land. We all are oblused under constitution to shole heartedly take it with decorum and decency.

12.23pm: The Indian National Congress respects the verdict of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya case. We appeal to all the parties concerned and to all communities to abide by the secular values and spirit of fraternity enshrined in our Constitution and to maintain peace and harmony: Congress

It is the responsibility of each one of us to reaffirm our tradition of mutual respect and unity among all that has defined our society through the ages.\

12.19pm: Shazia Ilami: The long-pending dispte has been resolved today. The SC has delivereda balanced judgment. Now every Indian must work for the country's progress. What is good for the country is good for every religion.

12.05pm: Zafaryab Jilani, All India Muslim Personal Law Board: Respect the verdict but the judgement is not satisfactory. There should be no demonstration of any kind anywhere on it. We will file a review petition if our committee agrees on it. It is our right and it is in Supreme Court's rules as well.

11.48am: Kartik Chopra, spokesperson, Nirmohi Akhara: Nirmohi Akhara is grateful that SC has recognised our fight of last 150 years and has given the Nirmohi Akhara adequate representation in the trust to be set up by the Central Government to build & manage the Shri Ram Janmasthan Temple

11.42am: Iqbal Ansari, one of the litigants in Ayodhya case: I am happy that Supreme Court has finally delivered a verdict, I respect the judgement of the court.

11.51am: Govindacharya credits Singhal, Advani for success of temple movement: Former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya, a key figure in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, on Saturday credited late VHP stalwart Ashok Singhal and veteran BJP leader L K Advani for the success of the cause.

Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict, Govindacharya, one of the major strategists behind the Advani's rath yatra in 1990 in support of building a temple, expressed his "extreme happiness" at the verdict.

"I am extremely happy. Now, in three months a plan will be made for constructing the temple," he said, asserting that social harmony must be maintained so that the country can move from "Ram temple to 'Ram rajya'."

Asked who he will give credit for the success of the movement to build the Ram temple at what is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, he said, "Lakhs of workers made sacrifices. For the leadership of the movement, I will give highest credit to Ashok Singhal and L K Advani."

11.50am: Ayodhya verdict very balanced, victory of people: CS Vaidyanathan, lawyer for deity Ram Lalla

11.50am: We welcome the SC judgement on Ayodhya which ended decades old dispute. I appeal for peace and harmony: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

11.47am: No regret over SC saying Nirmohi Akhara not 'shebait' of deity Ram Lalla: Outfit's member Mahant Dharmdas

11.45am: Ayodhya verdict holds no value for us, says Zafaryab Jilani

11.42am: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar: Supreme Court's judgement should be welcomed by everyone, it will be beneficial for the social harmony. There should be no further dispute on this issue, that is my appeal to the people.

11.38am: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari: Everyone must accept the Supreme Court judgement and maintain peace.

11.41am: Ayodhya verdict has lot of contradictions, will seek a review: Zafaryab Jilani of UP Sunni Central Waqf Board

11.36am: MP CM Kamal Nath appeals for peace and calm. The CM has asked people to respect the SC verdict and refrain from busting any crackers, sloganeering and festivites/protests.

Office Of Kamal Nath


अयोध्या मामले पर फ़ैसला चुका है।

एक बार फिर आपसे अपील करता हुँ कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के इस फ़ैसले का हम सभी मिलजुलकर सम्मान आदर करे।

किसी प्रकार के उत्साह ,जश्न विरोध का हिस्सा ना बने।

अफ़वाहों से सावधान सजग रहे।किसी भी प्रकार के बहकावे में ना आवे।



11:32 AM - Nov 9, 2019

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11.34am: We respect, accept verdict, says Ajmer Dargah: The spiritual head of Ajmer dargah on Saturday welcomed the decision of Supreme Court on Ayodhya case and appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony.

"The judiciary is supreme and everyone should respect the decision. It is the time to present a united face before the world because entire world is looking at India today," Dargah Deewan Zainul Abedin Ali Khan said.

"We respect and accept the verdict. I appeal to the people of the country to maintain harmony and peace. This is the victory of the judiciary and the message should be loud and clear that how much the judiciary is important for us and people of the country are peace loving, he told PTI.

He said that respecting and honouring the laws of the land is the basic Islamic teaching.

"We now need to concentrate on the development of self and the nation, he said.

11.22am: Varun Kumar Sinha, Lawyer of Hindu Mahasabha: It is a historic judgement. With this judgement, the Supreme Court has given the message of unity in diversity.



'No More Politics On the Issue': Common Refrain Among Muslim Residents in Ayodhya Post SC Verdict

November 9, 2019

Ayodhya: "All I want is that an atmosphere of peace should prevail, and nothing else," said 65-year-old Azeez, a resident of Niyava Bakra Mandi area of Ayodhya, when he was asked about the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute on Saturday.

Similar sentiments were voiced by a number of residents of this Muslim dominated locality here where more than half the shops were open and people were carrying out their daily chores despite the high security in view of the apex court verdict in the communally sensitive case.

Imran Khan, who is a medical representative and lives in Niyava area, said, "I welcome the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in the case. Life is absolutely normal for me, as yesterday I was on duty along with my office colleagues.

"As far as question of tension prevailing here... I did not find any truth in that. All is certainly well."

Azhar Saeed, who run a business of agro-farming, said the Supreme Court judgement will "promote peace and brotherhood in the city, and gradually the hatred will disappear".

When asked whether there was any apprehension or tension prevailing among Muslims, Azhar dubbed it as a "rumour" spread by "vested interest to make illiterate people feel afraid".

Pointing to shops in the vicinity doing business, he said, "Life is absolutely normal, you can see for yourself."

There are around 100 Muslim families living in Niyava area of the district.

Haji Mohammad Sajid, who runs a tailoring shop in the vicinity of Ramjanmabhoomi police station, however, did not appear satisfied with the verdict.

"I feel that the decision is incomplete," he said, but refused to elaborate.

Shoaib Shameem Siddiqui, who runs a business of mechanical engineering, said, "I welcome the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya dispute case."

When contacted, Imam of Markazi Jama Masjid, Faizabad Mufti Ziauddin Qasmi refused to comment on the issue.

Heavy police deployment had been made in and around Ramjanmabhoomi police station area, and vehicles were not allowed to go there from different parts of the city. In Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, which was also under a heavy security blanket, most of the shops opened in the afternoon.

"There is no report of any disturbance from anywhere in the city. Security is in place and we are keeping an eye," Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash told PTI.

As of the 2011 census, Muslims comprise 26.36 per cent of the nearly 36 lakh population of Lucknow.

In the old city area of the Uttar Pradesh capital, where Muslim population is more, business was as usual as a majority of shops were open and there was heavy traffic on roads.

A large number of security personnel were deployed at the Chowk crossing, but they appeared relaxed.

Mohammand Rehman, in his 40s, selling famous 'makkhan malai' in Chowk said, "My business is normal. There is no impact of the verdict on daily life here. At least it will end politics on this issue."

People were seen discussing the verdict in Muslim-dominated Qaiserbagh, Aminabad, Golaganj, Wazir Ganj, Chaupatia, Maulviganj, Nakkhas and Chowk localities but the mood was the same.

"The decision has come, we accept it. This issue has been long pending due to political reasons. We (Hindu-Muslim) live together here and there are no differences between us," Shakeel Ahmad, who runs an iron shop in Maulviganj, said.

In Chowk, around King George's Medical University, small vendors were doing brisk business

With tight security arrangements in place and all educational institutes and shops closed, the roads wore a deserted look in the state capital in the morning before the Supreme Court announced its judgement on the vexed Ayodhya issue.

All schools, colleges, educational institutions and training centres have been closed till Monday as a precautionary measure. Tuesday being Guru Nanak Jayanti, the schools will also be closed.

Since morning, police and para military forces were seen active at different spots.

There was no crowd at the famous shopping hub in Hazratganj in the morning, but eventually people started coming out to spend their weekend and make purchases.

"We want amity. Hope there will be no problem anywhere after the verdict," said Ramu, who runs a tea shop in Hazratganj area.

Similar was the view of Akram, who sells vegetables on his cycle.

"There is no tension anywhere. Whatever decision has come, it is welcome," he said.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has made an appeal to the people of the state to maintain peace and order and not pay any heed to rumours

He personally monitored the situation in the state from 'Dial UP-112' headquarters and then from his residence.

The chief minister has warned that strict action will be taken against those spreading rumours and harming social amity.

"The situation is normal in the entire state. There is no report of any untoward incident from anywhere so far," said a senior official at DGP office.

Special vigil is being maintained on the social media, an official spokesman said.



Evidence of Ram Worship, Muslim Parties Unable to Prove Ownership: Why SC Ruled in Favour of Temple

Suhas Munshi

November 10, 2019

New Delhi: In its 1,045-page judgment on the Ayodhya title dispute on Saturday, the Supreme Court, broadly speaking, relied on four facts to give a go-ahead to the construction of Ram Mandir on the 2.77-acre disputed site.

To summarise, these points are:

1. The Muslim parties could not produce a record of ownership for the 300 years after the construction of the mosque in 1528, during which period it also could not furnish any evidence that Muslims offered ‘namaz’ in that mosque.

2. Travelogues, mainly written by Father Joseph Tieffenthaler and Montgomery Martin, gave detailed accounts of “faith and belief of the Hindus” based on the “sanctity which they ascribed to the place of birth of Lord Ram and of the actual worship by the Hindus at the Janmasthan”.

3. The survey report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) indicated a “pre-existing underlying structure dating back to the 12th century” and in its findings it indicated that “the underlying structure” was of Hindu origin.

4. The Hindu parties had provided enough evidence, in the form of various oral testimonies and travellers’ remarks, to show that even during the existence of the mosque Hindus had laid strong claim to both the inner and outer courtyard of the disputed site.

“The existence of an Islamic structure at a place considered sacrosanct by the Hindus did not stop them from continuing their worship at the disputed site and within the precincts of the structure prior to the incidents of 1856-57,” observed the court.

This is why the five-judge bench said, “The Hindus have established a clear case of a possessory title to the outside courtyard by virtue of long, continued and unimpeded worship at the Ram ‘chabutra’ and other objects of religious significance,” and ruled in their favour.

However, while making these observations, the court also noted that the placing of the idols in the mosque in 1949 was a “serious violation of law”, calling it a “desecration”. It noted that there was “no evidence to establish that the Muslims abandoned the mosque or ceased to perform ‘namaz’ in spite of the contestation over their possession of the inner courtyard after 1858”.

And, finally, that “during the pendency of the suits, the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship. The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago”, the bench observed.

‘No record of ownership’

On the first point, of the Sunni Waqf Board being unable to provide enough evidence of continuous use, the Supreme Court elaborates: “Though, the case of the plaintiffs…is that the mosque was constructed in 1528 by or at the behest of Babur, there is no account by them of possession, use or offer of namaz in the mosque between the date of construction and 1856-7. For a period of over 325 years, which elapsed since the date of the construction of the mosque until the setting up of a grill-brick wall by the British, the Muslims have not adduced evidence to establish the exercise of possessory control over the disputed site. Nor is there any account in the evidence of the offering of namaz in the mosque, over this period.”

‘Detailed accounts of Ram’s worship’

The Constitution bench then speaks about the evidence in favour of the Hindu side being provided by travellers.

“William Finch (1608-1611) and Tieffenthaler, who visited India between 1743 and 1785, provided an account of Ayodhya. Conspicuous in both the accounts are references to worship by the Hindus to Lord Ram. The positive account of Hindu worship to Lord Ram is of probative value.”

“Tieffenthaler specifically refers to Hindu places of worship including Sita Rasoi, Swargdwar and the Bedi or cradle symbolising the birth of Lord Ram. The account refers to religious festivals where during the course of which Hindu devotees would throng for worship. Tieffenthaler‘s account in the 18th century is prior to the construction of the grill-brick wall in front of the mosque. Tieffenthaler refers to -- a square box raised five inches above the ground with borders made of lime with the length of more than five ells and the maximum width of four ells, which the Hindus called the Bedi or cradle. This, as he notes, was the site of the house where Lord Vishnu was born in the form of the Lord Ram. This, as he notes, is where it was believed that either Aurangzeb or (according to others) Babur got the place razed.”

(An ell is the length of a forearm and extended hand, also known as cubit.)

ASI report on structure

The bench takes into account key findings of the ASI team, some of which are:

(i) The pre-existing structure dates back to the 12th century; and

(ii) The underlying structure, which provided the foundations of the mosque together with its architectural features and recoveries, are suggestive of a Hindu religious origin comparable to temple excavations in the region and pertaining to the era.

Oral testimonies of Hindu parties

The Supreme Court notes: “The evidence indicates that despite the existence of a mosque at the site, Hindu worship at the place believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram was not restricted. The existence of an Islamic structure at a place considered sacrosanct by the Hindus did not stop them from continuing their worship at the disputed site and within the precincts of the structure prior to the incidents of 1856-57. The physical structure of an Islamic mosque did not shake the faith and belief of Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site. Hindu worship at Ramchabutra, Sita Rasoi and at other religious places including the setting up of a Bhandar clearly indicated their open, exclusive and unimpeded possession of the outer courtyard. The Muslims have not been in possession of the outer courtyard.”

It goes on to state: “Testimonies of both Hindu and Muslim witnesses indicate that on religious occasions and festivals such as Ram Navami, Sawan Jhoola, Kartik Poornima, Parikrama Mela and Ram Vivah, large congregations of Hindu devotees visited the disputed premises for darshan. The oral testimony of the Hindu devotees establishes the pattern of worship and prayer at Sita Rasoi, Ramchabutra and towards the Garb Grih‘, while standing at the railing of the structure of the brick wall.”



Muslim point valid: Janmasthan not deity

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: Hindus did suffer a major setback with the SC rejecting their argument that Ram Janmasthan itself was a juristic person as it was worshipped as a deity. Muslim parties led by Rajeev Dhavan had contested the Hindu parties’ proposition that Ram Janmasthan (birthplace) itself constituted a juristic person as from time immemorial, devotees thronging Ayodhya not only worshipped Ram Lalla but also the birthplace as sacred.

Dhavan had argued that for a place or thing to be worshipped as self-incarnate (Swayambhu), it must have some divine manifestation.

In the absence of any such manifestation, the birthplace could not qualify as a deity or juristic person. Recognising the unwieldy situation that would arise in accepting Janmasthan as a deity or juristic person, the bench said: “The purpose for which juristic personality is conferred cannot be ‘evolved’ into a Trojan horse that permits, on the basis of religious faith and belief, the extinguishing of all competing proprietary claims over property as well stripping the property itself of the essential characteristic of immoveable property.”

The apex court also kept in mind Dhavan’s argument that Hindus have 33 crore deities and if every deity’s janmasthan becomes a deity or juristic person, there would hardly be any place left for other religious denominations.

The bench said: “In a country like ours where contesting claims over property by religious communities are inevitable, our courts cannot reduce questions of title, which fall firmly within the secular domain and outside the rubric of religion, to a question of which community’s faith is stronger.”



Ayodhya judgment is out, now fix the economy, say Muslims in Delhi

Vijayta Lalwani

“In my heart, the matter is over” said 40-year-old Kamin, who owns a hardware store in Old Delhi’s Muslim-majority Jama Masjid area. On November 9, as the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the Ayodhya land title dispute, his first response was relief. “It is great that this has ended. The upcoming generations will not have to face it. We have been stuck on the same issue for years.”

The court had reserved the disputed land, where the Babri Masjid had stood before it was demolished by a Hindutva mob in 1992, for a trust to be set up by the Centre. The trust will supervise, among other things, the construction of a Ram temple at the site. It also ordered the government to acquire an alternative plot of land for a mosque.

On the morning of November 9, it seemed to be business as usual in Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazar and Jama Masjid, both dominated by Muslims. Shops were open and streets were bustling. But one thing was noticable: Central Reserve Police Force personnel were stationed every few hundred metres, though most were lolling at tea stalls or scrolling through their mobile phones.

Police vans were parked outside the Jama Masjid and police personnel guarded the gates of the mosque. In narrow, dusty streets packed with hardware parts, shopkeepers kept their phones pressed to their ears as they listened to the verdict.

‘It was expected’

For some Muslim residents of Old Delhi, the verdict did not come as a surprise. Fifty-two year old Ishrat Kafeel, who runs a clinic at Chawri Bazar’s Hauz Qazi area, said he was “prepared for the verdict delivered”.

“It was expected,” he said.

For Kafeel, the judgment was more revealing of the attitudes of the judiciary: “It shows that the court cannot go against majority faith.”

Across the street, Kafeel’s neighbour was delighted at the verdict. “It is the right time now,” said 23-year-old Ashwini Kumar Pandey, whose father is the priest of a Durga temple in Hauz Qazi that had been vandalised in July after an alleged parking scuffle between Hindu and Muslim neighbours. The scuffle had briefly sparked communal tensions in the area.

Pandey, whose family hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district, is a member of the Bajrang Dal. He said he had graduated from college a year ago and was looking for work. After the verdict on Saturday morning, his mobile phone buzzed incessantly. “My friends are asking me to throw a party,” said Pandey.

For now, the celebrations have to wait. “The station house officer had told us all to maintain calm but we will do something in a few days,” he said.

Now for the economy

Many of Old Delhi’s Muslim residents were preoccupied with other concerns, mostly economic. “I suffered a lot because of demonetisation and there is no business now,” Kamin said. Now that the verdict was delivered, he felt, the government should shift focus to solving other problems.

Forty-seven-year-old Mohammad Imran, who also owns a hardware store in Jama Masjid, said that the government should provide more employment for the country’s youth. “Service is the biggest ibadat [worship] for people,” said Imran. “There are no jobs for the youth.”

Even those who were surprised by the judgment took a pragmatic approach. “I did not expect them to give all the land to the Hindus,” said Abdul Daim, a 29-year old shopkeeper in Hauz Qazi. “When a piece of land does not belong to a group then why have they given it for the temple?” But the judgment had to be accepted, Daim felt, so that life could go on: “Hopefully, things will be normal Monday onwards.”


On the provision of alternative land for a mosque, residents of Old Delhi had mixed feelings. Kafeel explained that, according to the rules of the Quran, it was not possible for a mosque to be built on land given by others or grabbed. “It is a rule that everyone follows and it has been there since the beginning, even during Babur’s time,” he said. “The logic behind this is that the place of worship has to be a place that is ours and not anyone else’s. We cannot offer namaz in a mosque that was built without following the rules.”

Land for a mosque, he felt, was the court’s attempt at compromise. Others felt it was the Muslim community which had to compromise. “No matter how big a fight, there is always a compromise,” said 24-year-old Mohammad Kamran, who also runs a hardware store in Jama Masjid. “Someone has to bend.”

But the judgment had him worried about Eid Milad processions to commemorate the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday this weekend. “I am scared about the processions,” said Imran. “We do not usually have them but I hope it goes smoothly for those who do.”

A student at Jamia Millia Islamia was more emphatic about her disappointment with the verdict: it was “pro-majority”, she said. “I had expected the Supreme Court to come up with a solution,” said the 22-year-old student, who did not want to be named. “This could have inculcated a sense of justice in both the parties but this decision is an appeasement of the majority and is very disheartening.”



Ayodhya Verdict: Hindu, Muslim religious leaders distribute sweets in Himachal's Hamirpur after SC judgment

November 10, 2019

A new example of unity came to light from district Hamirpur where Hindu and Muslim religious leaders distributed sweets after Supreme Court's verdict on the Ayodhya dispute.

The news is from Himachal Pradesh's Hamirpur district, where the Priest Shyam Lal Pujari and Cleric Maulana Khan celebrated the landmark decision by hugging each other and distributing sweets. Slogans of 'hindustan zindabad' (long live India) were also shouted.

"We would have accepted the verdict regardless of whose favor it came in. We were together earlier and still are," they said.

The Supreme Court on Saturday unanimously ruled that the disputed 2.77 acre land in Ayodhya will go to Hindus while Muslims will be given a five-acre plot at an alternate location in the city for construction of the mosque.

The apex court, however, handed over the land to the government to take measures for maintaining peace and harmony and law and order. The government will create a Board of Trust and formulate a scheme within three months.

The bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi had finished the hearing in the long-standing dispute on October 16. Other judges of the bench are Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan, and SW Abdul Nazeer.

Considering the amount of sensitivity in the case, security has been beefed up with Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed in some places.



Ayodhya: Five-acre plot for mosque may be across river Saryu

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI/AYODHYA: The five-acre plot which the Supreme Court has asked to be made available for construction of a mosque may not be provided to the Sunni Waqf Board in the close vicinity of the Ram janmabhoomi-Babri masjid complex.

Official sources in the holy city indicated that such a huge parcel of vacant land might be difficult to find in the densely populated town. “The land may not be allotted within the erstwhile municipal area or on the same side of Saryu.”

The town is densely populated and it might be difficult to find the proposed piece of land within the erstwhile municipal area of the city,” the sources said. The SC, while awarding the disputed site to Hindus, for construction of Ram Mandir, said the Muslims should be given 5 acres of appropriate land in Ayodhya in order to remedy the wrong committed to them by dispossessing them of their mosque.

Ayodhya town now serves as the headquarters of the newly-created district named after it. The mandir camp has consistently maintained that the substitute for the demolished Babri masjid can be located outside the “shastriya paridhi” (holy circle) or the 15-km circle round spread around the janmabhoomi site with a radius of 2 km along which thousands of Hindus devotees perambulate at this time of the year.

“The court has said mentioned a prominent place in Ayodhya be given but has not specified the exact place. The possibility is that the land will be allotted on Ayodhya-Faizabad Road beyond the panchkoshi (15-km) periphery of the panchkoshi circle,” the source said.

There have been suggestions that the mosque be built at Shahjanwa village, where the mausoleum of Mir Baqi, Babur’s commander who allegedly razed the temple and constructed the mosque, is located. But the village is within the 15-km circle.

Although the court has asked that the alternative land be identified in coordination with the Sunni Waqf Board, a section of the local Muslims community says they do not want any land for building a mosque in place of the demolished Babri masjid.

Haji Asad Ahmad, corporator of Ayodhya Municipal Corporation, told TOI, “We don’t want any land in lieu of Babri masjid. If the court or the government wants to give land, for mosque, they must give us in the acquired area of 67 acres, else we don’t want any donation.”

A local cleric Maulana Jalal Ashraf said Muslims will purchase land for a mosque and they weren’t dependent on the government. “If the government wants to pacify our sentiments, the five acre land must be given to us in the acquired area,” he added.



Ayodhya: Regional parties sing in unison, welcome SC verdict as ‘historic’

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: Treading with caution in light of public sentiment around the Ayodhya verdict, political parties were unanimous in welcoming the SC ruling for building a Ram temple, calling it ‘historic’.

Shiva Sena, which struck a discordant note with BJP over government formation in Maharashtra, hailed the verdict, with party chief Uddhav Thackeray saying he bows to the judiciary. Thackeray said he will visit Ayodhya on November 24 to pay obeisance to Lord Ram. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav took to poetry while reacting to the verdict, calling it a “an important step in the right direction”.

“Jo faisley faslon ko ghatatey hain, woh insaan ko behtar insaan banate hain (The decisions which bridge the gaps, make for better human being,” the former UP CM tweeted. BSP chief Mayawati appealed for calm and suggested that all future action should only be taken in an amicable atmosphere.

CPM welcomed the verdict but said certain premises of the judgment “are questionable” and demanded that those guilty of demolishing the Babri Masjid in 1991 should be brought to book.

It said adherence to the Places of Religious Worship Act of 1991 should also ensure that no Ayodhya-like dispute is “raised again”. CPI welcomed the judgment but said while the court upheld all faiths as equal, the ruling delivered was reconciliatory. Tamil Nadu parties, including main opposition DMK, called for respecting the verdict. Indian Union Muslim League national general secretary and MP P K Kunhalikutty said they respected verdict, while Tamil Maanila Congress chief G K Vaasan hailed it as historic.



Ayodhya verdict to strengthen unity & integrity of India: Amit Shah

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: Welcoming the Supreme Court judgment on the Ayodhya case, home minister and BJP president Amit Shah said the order will prove to be a milestone in strengthening India’s unity and integrity.

In a series of tweets, Shah appealed to all communities to accept the decision of the apex court and remain committed to ‘Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat’ (one India, great India). “I welcome the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on Shri Ram Janmabhoomi. I appeal to people of all communities and religions to accept this decision with ease and remain committed to our resolve of ‘Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat’, full of peace and harmony,” he said.

I am confident that this landmark judgment given by the Supreme Court will prove to be a milestone in itself. This decision will further strengthen India’s unity, integrity and great culture,” he said.

Shah said the legal dispute over the site at Ayodhya has been going on for decades and the apex court has put an end to it. “I congratulate the justice system of India and all the judges,” he said.

“I express my gratitude to all the organisations, Sant Samaj of the entire country and countless unknown people who have tried it for so many years,” he said. In a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court on Saturday paved the way for construction of Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot an alternative 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a new mosque at a “prominent” place in the holy town.



Ayodhya verdict: Lawyers slogged without a break, a junior put off her engagement

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: Behind the superlative performance of some very famous advocates — K Parasaran, Rajeev Dhavan, C S Vaidyanathan, Ranjit Kumar, Zafrayab Jilani, P S Narasimha, P N Mishra and Ezaj Maqbool — in the Ayodhya land dispute case is the untiring work of a few unsung junior lawyers who put the demands of their profession far above their personal exigencies.

order in nos

For the Hindu parties, there was 50-year-old advocate P V Yogeswaran, who comes from a small village, Uppukottai, in Theni district that is famous for its scenic beauty and cardamom. He completed law in 1994 and started practising in the Supreme Court as a junior to senior advocate S Balakrishnan, and then Lala Ram Gupta.

terms of dispute

He had been working on the Ayodhya case for nine years, ever since appeals were filed in the SC challenging the Allahabad HC’s September 30, 2010 verdict. Yogeswaran, along with advocate Bhakti Vardhan Singh, devoted five hours each day studying the voluminous title suit records. They would then hold briefing sessions that lasted one to two hours with senior advocates Parasaran, Vaidyanathan and Ranjit Kumar.

“I had to virtually abandon all other work in court to focus on the case. Being in this case, I learned what an ordinary advocate like me would have taken a whole life to learn,” he told TOI.

Advocate Akriti Chaubey, advocate Ezaj Maqbool’s junior, sacrificed much on her personal front to delve deep into the case. Chaubey was to get engaged to her boyfriend, a lawyer with Indigo airlines, but arguments before the court, which lasted from August 6 till October 16, were on. Getting engaged would have meant she remained absent from court hearings.

Chaubey decided that her engagement could wait as the case couldn’t. Now she is scheduled to marry in February next year, skipping the ‘roka’ ceremony. She, too, comes from a humble background like Yogeswaran. Chaubey lost her father when she was in class five.

“My mother works with the Delhi government and has been my strongest support,” she said. “For the last two years, I had been working on it without a break, briefing Dhavan sir almost daily since the commencement of arguments,” she added.

It was a common sight in the courtroom: Dhavan and Jilani, arguing for Muslim parties, taking Chaubey’s assistance to locate a relevant extract buried in numerous, fat court records. Another female lawyer, Qurratulain, also played a significant role in helping senior advocates to lucidly present facts and evidence supporting their stand before the court. Many junior advocates like Yogeshwaran and Chaubey worked hard on the case.

Law clerks of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and four other judges hearing the case worked overtime to make it possible for the five-judge bench to deliver the judgment in just 23 days after the court reserved its verdict.



Muslim point valid: Janmasthan not deity

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: Hindus did suffer a major setback with the SC rejecting their argument that Ram Janmasthan itself was a juristic person as it was worshipped as a deity. Muslim parties led by Rajeev Dhavan had contested the Hindu parties’ proposition that Ram Janmasthan (birthplace) itself constituted a juristic person as from time immemorial, devotees thronging Ayodhya not only worshipped Ram Lalla but also the birthplace as sacred.

Dhavan had argued that for a place or thing to be worshipped as self-incarnate (Swayambhu), it must have some divine manifestation.

In the absence of any such manifestation, the birthplace could not qualify as a deity or juristic person. Recognising the unwieldy situation that would arise in accepting Janmasthan as a deity or juristic person, the bench said: “The purpose for which juristic personality is conferred cannot be ‘evolved’ into a Trojan horse that permits, on the basis of religious faith and belief, the extinguishing of all competing proprietary claims over property as well stripping the property itself of the essential characteristic of immoveable property.”

The apex court also kept in mind Dhavan’s argument that Hindus have 33 crore deities and if every deity’s janmasthan becomes a deity or juristic person, there would hardly be any place left for other religious denominations.

The bench said: “In a country like ours where contesting claims over property by religious communities are inevitable, our courts cannot reduce questions of title, which fall firmly within the secular domain and outside the rubric of religion, to a question of which community’s faith is stronger.”



Damage, desecration & demolition of Babri Masjid illegal acts, says SC

Nov 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday emphatically said that the communal riot that caused damage to the domes of Babri Masjid in 1934, its desecration on the night of December 22, 1949, by placing of idols and the demolition on December 6, 1992, were illegal acts, a conclusion which persuaded it to balance awarding the disputed site for Ram temple with five acres of land for a mosque in Ayodhya.

“Damage to the mosque in 1934, its desecration in 1949 leading to ouster of the Muslims and its eventual destruction on December 6, 1992, constituted a serious violation of the rule of law; and consistent with the principles of justice, equity and good conscience, both Suits 4 (Sunni Waqf Board) and 5 (by deity through next friend) will have to be decreed and relief moulded in a manner which preserves the constitutional values of justice, fraternity, human dignity and the equality of religious belief,” the bench said.

The SC noted that the fight between Hindus and Muslims for possession of the inner courtyard of Babri Masjid led to the communal conflict of 1934 during which the domes and structure of the mosque sustained damage.

“The repair and renovation of the mosque following the riots of 1934 at the expense of the British administration through the agency of a Muslim contractor is indicative of the fact the despite the disputes between the communities, the structure of the mosque continued to exist as did the assertion of the Muslims of their right to pray,” it said.

“The events preceding December 22-23, 1949, indicate the build-up of a large presence of Bairagis in the outer courtyard and the expression of his apprehension by the superintendent of police that the Hindus would seek forcible entry into the precincts of the mosque to install idols. In spite of written intimations to him, the deputy commissioner and district magistrate (K K Nayyar) paid no heed and rejected the apprehension of the superintendent of police to the safety of the mosque as baseless,” the apex court noted.

“The apprehension was borne out by the incident on the night between December 22-23, 1949, when a group of 50 to 60 persons installed idols on the pulpit of the mosque below the central dome. This led to the desecration of the mosque and the ouster of the Muslims... The inner courtyard was thereafter attached in proceedings under Section 145 CrPC, 1898, on December 29, 1949 and the receiver took possession,” it recorded.

“On December 6, 1992, the structure of the mosque was brought down. The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law,” the SC said.



As Modi thanks Imran on Kartarpur, Pakistan rakes up Kashmir, Ayodhya

Nov 10, 2019

KARTARPUR / LAHORE: On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Pakistan PM Imran Khan for “understanding and respecting the sentiments of Indians” by allowing the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, the latter again raised the Kashmir issue while speaking at the corridor’s inauguration ceremony. Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also brought up Kashmir and even the Ayodhya judgment, prompting a sharp response from New Delhi.

Qureshi suggested before Indian journalists that the judgment was advanced on purpose by the Indian government to coincide with the Kartarpur opening. His ministry followed it up with a statement that the Ayodhya judgment had failed to uphold the demands of justice. It also called upon India to ensure protection of lives and rights of Muslims.

Pakistan President Arif Alvi took to Twitter to describe the SC judgment as “an unfortunate verdict”. He further posted, “Indian Supreme Court decides that a temple is to (be) built at Ayodhya/Babri Masjid site showing clearly it has consistently sided with the extreme policies of the BJP and reflects a Hindutva ethos to the detriment of secular India.”

The Indian government swiftly rejected the “unwarranted and gratuitous” comments on a civil matter it said was completely internal to India. “It pertains to the rule of law and equal respect for all faiths, concepts that are not part of their ethos. So, while Pakistan’s lack of comprehension is not surprising, their pathological compulsion to comment on our internal affairs with the obvious intent of spreading hatred is condemnable,” said the government.

Speaking at Kartarpur, Imran Khan appealed to Modi to free bilateral ties of the Kashmir issue by resolving it.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan on Saturday took a dig at his Indian counterpart, saying that leaders bring people together, not spread hate to win votes.

“After what has happened there, Kashmir is no longer a territorial issue. It is now an issue of insanity,” said Khan, adding that the plight of the people in Kashmir was comparable with that of animals.

Khan said there could be no peace in the current circumstances when, according to him, 80 lakh people had been subjugated by a 9-lakh-strong force. "This one issue has brought everything in bilateral ties to a halt. It is important that the Kashmir issue is resolved to help us live like normal people," said Khan, calling upon Modi to ensure insaaf (justice) for the Kashmiri people.

Recalling his meeting with Manmohan Singh, when the latter was PM, Khan said Singh had told him everything would fall in place if the Kashmir issue was resolved. "I said the same thing to Modi when I met him and, if he's listening, I want to tell him that our relations should be freed of this issue. It can lead to peace and open borders resulting in trade from which both countries will benefit," said Khan.

The Pakistan PM was addressing a gathering of thousands of pilgrims at the sprawling Kartarpur Sahib complex, much of which has been built in a record time of 12 months. Indian government sources said earlier this week that the unusual alacrity and "military zeal" with which the corridor had been built suggested that the project had full backing of the Pakistan army. While Indian officials have welcomed Kartarpur as a possible corridor of peace, they also maintain that it serves a strategic purpose for Pakistan.

Meanwhile, PM Modi, who wore an orange turban for the occasion, flagged off the first jatha of over 500 pilgrims — including former PM Manmohan Singh and his wife, chief minister Amarinder Singh and his MP wife, Union ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Som Parkash, former Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Akali Dal leaders Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir and daughter-in-law Harsimrat, an Union minister.

“I feel blessed that I am dedicating the Kartarpur corridor to the country. At the moment, I am getting the same feeling which you get at the time of doing kar seva (religious service),” said Modi, who was conferred the Qaumi Seva award by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

Modi, who started the day by paying obeisance at Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi, in his speech at the rally in Shikar Macchian village thanked Imran, saying: “He understood India’s feelings on the Kartarpur corridor issue, gave them respect and worked accordingly.”

Modi, who saw the Beri tree and the Bhaura (underground closet), where according to legend Guru Nanak used to meditate in Sultanpur Lodhi, said, "Besides being a guru, Guru Nanak Dev is a thought, the basis of life. Our values, culture, our thoughts, our thinking, our upbringing, our reasoning, our speech, all of these have been honed by pious souls like Guru Nanak.”

Modi also talked about abrogation of Article 370 and how it had benefited Sikhs. “Removal of Article 370 would now help the Sikh community in J&K and Ladakh as they would get the same rights as other citizens of the country.”

After opening the state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, designed in the shape of ‘Khanda’ — the symbol of Sikhism, Modi had langar with Punjab governor V P Singh Badnore, Amarinder, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar and other dignitaries.



Pakistan-linked company in fray for Indian e-passport chips: Vyapam whistle-blower to PMO

Nov 9, 2019

BHOPAL: Vyapam whistle-blower Ashish Chaturvedi has alerted ministry of external affairs (MEA) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office besides vigilance and intelligence agencies with a complaint alleging that a France- based company that has responded to tenders for next-generation passports has close ties with Pakistan.

MEA had invited RPF for “electronic contactless inlays along with its operating system required for manufacture of Indian e-passports."

“Government has clearly mentioned in their condition that participant companies should not have any association with Pakistan or China. I have evidences that one of the top runners in this project is from France and it has submitted hiding its linkage with Pakistan government,” alleges Ashish Chaturvedi, who is one of the key whistle-blowers in the Vyapam scam. He had been raising various issues other than the recruitment scam over last few years.

“I have enclosed cuttings of Pakistani newspapers and their links which clearly mentions name of that particular French company which supplied equipment to Pakistan. Security breach cannot be ruled out as it’s a matter related to one of the most important document of India,” he said.

Asked how he came across these inputs, Chaturvedi says, “National security is everyone’s responsibility. Don’t you think it was my responsibility to alert government before anything happens?, I am not saying that the company is on ISI’s payroll but reasons why it did not mention its business interests with Pakistan is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. I have named the company in my complaint. Competent authorities can search it on internet with some key words they will get what I claim”.

MEA’s passport division has initiated this process to roll-out e-Passports making this document more secure. This will reduce the time required at immigration counter, say officials. Electronic chip, containing identification data, will be embedded in its back cover. Nasik-based India Security Press (ISP) has been authorised to float a global tender for procurement of the contactless inlays along with its operating system.

The ePassport would contain all the data currently given on the second page of the paper-only passports, including photograph, personal and biological data (finger-prints), besides the country’s digital signature used to validate the genuineness of the document. The chip can be sealed only once with the signature of the Passport Issuing Authority (PIA), thus making these ePassports virtually tamper-proof.

While ePassports are a norm in several countries already, India has so far tested their success on only a few diplomatic and official passports since 2008.

It will help people save time spent waiting in queues at immigration counters in India and abroad. Traveller will only have to swipe the passport at the designated machine and all data stored in the chip will be instantly visible to the officer concerned. It will also help in case of emergencies that require evacuation of Indian nationals from a foreign country.



Don't interfere in Kashmir, stop 'eyeing' Punjab: Amarinder Singh to Pakistan

Nov 9, 2019

DERA BABA NANAK (GURDASPUR): Before he left for Kartarpur on Saturday, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh warned Pakistan against interfering in Kashmir and to stop "eyeing" Punjab, and said it won't succeed in its "nefarious designs".

Singh also said he hoped Pakistan would understand that India wants friendly relations with it.

The Punjab chief minister was part of the first batch of over 550 Indian pilgrims that entered Pakistan through the Kartarpur corridor, which was thrown open days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev on November 12.

The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur.

Singh said he had repeatedly asked Pakistan to desist from its "nefarious" activities.

"In Kashmir, they are taking up cudgels against our forces and now they have an eye on Punjab. I have told them many times to desist from such things, Punjabis will not tolerate such things. You will not succeed in your nefarious designs either in Kashmir or in Punjab.

"Punjabis are brave, we are not wearing bangles that you can do whatever and try to foment trouble," the Punjab chief minister said.

He was addressing a gathering at Shikhaar Masiahan near here in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor on the Indian side.

Singh said Pakistan should concentrate on development, building schools, improving roads and providing clean drinking water to its people.

He wondered aloud what Pakistan will gain by harbouring enmity.

"I hope that they (Pakistan) understand that our country wants friendship with them. I have spoken to the prime minister (Narendra Modi) many times and he too wishes that peace should prevail and the two nations should come close," he said.

The chief minister called upon the people to follow the path shown by Guru Nanak Dev.

On the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, Singh said he was blessed and privileged to witness the historic day.

"'Khulle darshan deedar' (unhindered access) of Kartarpur Sahib has been a cherished dream of every Sikh and it has become a reality today. I am truly fortunate to have this chance to be a part of the jatha and bow my head in the land of my beloved guru," he said.

"For the last 70 years, every Sikh used to pray for 'khulle darshan'. In 1947, when India was partitioned, Punjab was divided into two parts and some of our religious shrines remained there (in Pakistan).

"I have had the opportunity to go to Gurdwara Nankana Sahib twice, but for the first time I will be visiting the gurdwara at Kartarpur Sahib. I really wished that I could go there and today the prime minister has fulfilled my wish. I am thankful to the PM for this. Entire Punjab and the Sikh community are happy," he said.

Later, in a tweet, Singh dubbed the Kartarpur corridor as a "historic" people-to-people initiative which offered a "glimmer of hope for the two countries".

The Punjab chief minister also touched upon the stubble burning issue and called on people to protect the environment.

"Our water is getting scarce and experts say if we don't conserve it, Punjab will turn into a desert in another 25 years. We have to ponder over this. If we think about this today, only then can we save our future and our coming generations," he said.

Earlier, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Gobind Singh Longowal said the opening of the Kartarpur corridor was a long-pending demand of the Sikh community and the Centre had given it a gift.

Speaking on the occasion, former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said opening of the corridor was a matter of great happiness.

He said the area should be developed as the biggest centre of religious tourism.

Badal credited Modi with fulfilling the Sikh community's demand.

"He (PM Modi) has a special bond with Punjab. Be it any issue of Punjab, religious, economic or political, he tries to find a solution," he said.



Pakistan opens visa-free border crossing for India Sikhs

9 November 2019

The prime ministers of India and Pakistan inaugurated on Saturday a visa-free border crossing for Sikh pilgrims from India, allowing thousands of pilgrims to easily visit a Sikh shrine just inside Pakistan each day.

Imran Khan and Narendra Modi held separate opening ceremonies on their respective sides of the new border crossing. It’s a rare sign of cooperation between the two nuclear-armed nations amid heightened tensions over the disputed Kashmir region, which both countries partially control but claim in its entirety.

“This is the biggest and happiest day for the Sikh community ... it will help with improving relations” between India and Pakistan, said Manmohan Singh, a former Indian prime minister. He was among the first group of 500 pilgrims to cross using the corridor.

At the opening ceremony, Khan said: “This corridor is the beginning and things will move further toward the improvement in relations between Pakistan and India ... Once the Kashmir issue is resolved it will bring peace to this subcontinent.”

The shrine to Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, is known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. It’s the second-holiest place in the Sikh faith and is located on the Ravi River just 4.5 kilometers from Pakistan’s border with India.

The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border, and Sikhs would often gather on bluffs to view the site from the Indian side.

The new arrangement allows pilgrims to apply online for special permits to visit the shrine. Visas to travel between Pakistan and India are normally difficult to obtain.

Over the past year, Pakistan constructed a huge complex around the shrine with facilities to accommodate 5,000 pilgrims daily, including a vast dining hall, a library and rooms for performing rituals.

Pakistani authorities have called it the biggest Sikh shrine in the world. The religious group makes up only a tiny minority in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Many Sikh holy sites were left in Pakistan after the British partitioned the subcontinent into separate nations in 1947 following two centuries of colonial rule.





Sikhs praise PM Imran for making Kartarpur dream come true

November 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Sikh pilgrims arrived at Pakistan on Saturday from different countries welcomed the historical opening of Kartarpur Corridor and said Prime Minister Imran Khan has won the hearts of Sikh community across the world by opening this corridor and his name will remain imprinted in their hearts forever.

“Imran Khan has fulfilled the promise of opening Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh community of India which he made a year ago and won their hearts. It was our long-cherished desire to visit this holy place which the prime minister turned into reality”, Sikh Pilgrims said while talking media.

A jubilant Sikh Pilgrim, Sardar Amir Singh said this is a moment of happiness for the nations of Pakistan and India. The Sikh community in India will now be able to visit their holy place in Kartarpur without a passport and visa.

“The Indian nation can also get the maximum benefit out of this project”, Sardar Amir Singh said during his visit to Kartapur Corridor.

Another Sikh Pilgrim, Baba Ge Gopal Singh said “I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan who has given such a big gift to the Sikh community not only of Pakistan and India but the whole world through opening Kartarpur Corridor on the biggest occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak”.

The whole world is appreciating this peace gesture of Pakistani government which would allow Sikh pilgrims from India to undertake a visa-free visit to the sacred shrine of Baba Guru Nanak and perform their religious rituals.

Sardar Kalwant Singh said opening of Kartarpur Corridor is a good decision taken by the Pakistani government which has made it easier for our Sikh brothers and sisters to visit their holy places in Pakistan. Now, the Indian government should also facilitate the Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan for visiting their holy places in India by taking some similar steps.

Head of Pakistan Sikh Council, Dr. Ramesh Singh said “Today is the happiest day for the whole Sikh community as well as devoted followers of Baba Guru Nanak across the world. Opening of Kartarpur Corridor conveyed a message to the world that Pakistan is a peace-loving country.”

He appreciated the way different institutions of Pakistan including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony, Evacuee Trust Property Board and others worked hard for the timely completion of this project.

He thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa for making excellent security and other arrangements for the Sikh Pilgrims at the opening ceremony of the corridor and said this initiative has won the hearts of Sikh community of the whole world.

“This was the Pakistan of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah where the rights and freedom of minorities are ensured”, he said.

He said despite false propaganda by Indian media, the banners of Imran Khan and Navjot Singh have been placed in Indian Punjab. The opening of this corridor is a big achievement and nothing else could be a bigger gift for around 120 million members of the Sikh community across the world and followers of Baba Guru Nanak.

Another pilgrim, Balbeer Singh Khushdil said “We are very much thankful to the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan and his government who has given an opportunity to the Sikh community to visit their holy place on the sacred occasion of Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary. We reached the place without any difficulty”.

Pakistan will emerge as a peace-loving country as a result of this initiative and it will also help reduce the mistrust between Pakistan and India, he said.

Former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh expressed hope that Pak-India relations will improve enormously as a result of this beginning. It’s a big moment for Sikh community”.

Harvinder Singh Phoolka, a senior advocate of Delhi High Court and politician said “This place is like Makkah for us. We cannot express our happiness and excitement in words. We got permission to visit our holy place without any requirement which is an excellent initiative by Pakistani government for the Sikh community.”

The members of Sikh families from the United Kingdom and Canada said: “We are very much happy over the opening of this corridor and it is a very good peace gesture and we salute to the Prime Minister Imran Khan for this initiative”.



Lift all restrictions in Kashmir: Pak PM Imran tells India at Kartarpur inauguration ceremony

Nov 9, 2019

KARTARPUR: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday raked up the Kashmir issue at the inauguration of the historic Kartarpur corridor and urged India to end all restrictions in the Valley imposed after New Delhi scrapped Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Prime Minister Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor for the followers of Guru Nanak Dev, allowing them to visit the revered founder of Sikhism's final resting place in Pakistan's Punjab province.

The corridor provides visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims, allowing them to travel to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.

Raising the issue of Kashmir, Khan said he had suggested to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during their first meeting that it should be resolved.

"What we are witnessing in Kashmir today, it is not a territorial issue anymore. It has escalated to a humanitarian crisis. Unfortunately things have gotten even worse for the people of Kashmir who are treated like animals, deprived of their basic human rights and besieged by a presence of 9 lakh soldiers," Khan said.

On August 5, India revoked the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two union territories- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, drawing a sharp reaction from Pakistan.

Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and expelled the Indian High Commissioner after New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370.

Islamabad has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its "internal matter".

India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.

Prime minister Khan said the sub-continent will only progress when the issue of Kashmir is resolved.

"Resolution of Kashmir issue will lead to greater prosperity and mutual development of India and Pakistan. Kashmir issue has resulted 70 years of hatred between the two countries. India must ensure justice to people of Kashmir. Hope one day our relationship will improve," he said.

Prime minister Khan also said a leader will always bring people together and will not divide them.

"A leader does not spread hatred and seek votes on the basis religion," he said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Modi flagged off the first batch of over 500 pilgrims, saying it will be easy to pay obeisance at the Darbar Sahib gurdwara after the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.

He also thanked Khan and said the opening of the historic corridor had brought immense happiness.

"I also thank Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan for understanding India's wishes and turning Kartarpur into reality," Modi said.

Foreign minister Qureshi in his speech noted that while Modi thanked Khan for opening the corridor, will the Indian prime minister also give his Pakistani counterpart the chance to thank him.

"You can do so by lifting the curfew in Kashmir, ending the use of pellet guns, ending the violations of human rights [and] by ending the communication blackout," he said.

Qureshi said just as the doors of Kartarpur have opened, the doors of Srinagar's Jamia Masjid should also be opened so that the Kashmiris can offer Friday prayers.

The inauguration of the corridor comes in the midst of frayed ties between India and Pakistan following the New Delhi's August 5 decision.

Notwithstanding a chill in bilateral ties over Kashmir, India and Pakistan after tough negotiations signed an agreement last month, paving the way for the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor on November 9.

The agreement will allow 5,000 Indian pilgrims daily to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.



Pakistan's ailing ex-premier Nawaz Sharif to leave for London on Sunday

09 Nov 2019

Lahore: Pakistan's ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will leave for London on Sunday for treatment as his condition remains critical, a senior PML-N leader said on Saturday.

The 69-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo agreed on Friday to go to the UK for the treatment, heeding doctors' advice and accepting his family's request.

"Nawaz Sharif is leaving for London on a Pakistan International Airlines flight on Sunday morning along with his brother Shahbaz Sharif for his treatment," a senior party leader told PTI.

Although his name is in the no fly-list, the Imran Khan government has assured to remove it by Friday evening, he said.

Sharif is leaving for London after doctors categorically told him that they had exhausted all the options available in Pakistan and seeking treatment abroad was the only one left, the leader said.

The three-time premier has already secured bail in Al-Azizia Mills corruption case for eight weeks on medical grounds and in the money laundering case. In Al-Azizia case, Sharif was serving a seven-year imprisonment in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.

His daughter Maryam Nawaz will not accompany him as she had to surrender her passport to the Lahore High Court as a surety against the bail granted to her in the money laundering case. She may explore the option of going to London later, the PML-N lader said.

According to him, Sharif's sons -- Hasan and Hussain -- and another daughter Asma, who live in London, will look after him.

On Saturday, Sharif's platelet count was over 20,000.

"As his platelet count should be 50,000 and beyond for travel abroad, the doctors may give him high dose to increase his platelets, enabling him to undertake the travel," he added.

The Pakistan government decided to let Sharif go abroad for treatment due to his critical medical conditions.

Arrangements have been made for Sharif's treatment at Harley Street Clinic.

Sharif's family have contacted two doctors in London. An appointment has been made at the Harley Street Clinic for Monday. The Sharif family are also talking to a doctor in New York, Geo News reported.

Shehbaz has already spoken to consultants at one of the Harley Street clinics where patients suffering form drop in platelets are treated privately, the report said.

Earlier Speaking to the media on Friday, Sharif's daughter Maryam, 46, said the family could not risk Sharif's health and has decided to send him abroad.

"Shehbaz Sharif is looking after all the boarding and lodging of the former premier. After losing my mother last year, my father is my everything now," a distraught Maryam told the ARY News.

Sharif's wife Kulsoom died of throat cancer in London last year.

In Islamabad, Prime Minister's Special Assistant Naeemul Haq said on Friday the "government has no issue if he (Sharif) flies abroad for treatment".

Khan said that allowing Sharif to go out for treatment was not a concession as he would have to face the charges after recovering.

Sharif's medical reports were sent to doctors in London earlier and they have advised him to come to London for treatment as soon as possible.

However, Minster for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar alleged that Sharif's medical reports were manipulated to show him critically ill so that he could be allowed to leave the country.

"He (Sharif) has once again made a deal with the government like he did in 2000 (with the Pervez Musharraf government) to go out of the country," Sarwar alleged.

Sharif was arrested by Musharraf after toppling his government in 1999 but allowed him to go on exile to Saudi Arabia.

PML-N spokeswoman Marryium Aurangzeb called Sarwar's statement as "callous" and by someone who had no heart for an ailing person.

Sharif was lodged in the Kot Lakhpat jail but last month he was sent to the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which is probing the Sharif family in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills corruption case.

On December 24, 2018, an accountability court had sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and acquitted him in the Flagship case.

On October 25, the Lahore High Court granted bail to Sharif in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. He was undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with an acute immune disorder.

On October 29, the Islamabad High Court suspended Sharif's sentence in the Al-Azizia corruption case for eight weeks on medical grounds.

The Sharif family has denied all corruption charges and termed them as politically motivated.



NA sees heated debate amid snap polls prediction

November 09, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties in the National Assembly on Friday hinted at the possibility of early elections in the country and resolved to move the Supreme Court against what they called “hasty and unconstitutional manner” in which the government got 11 ordinances passed in just half an hour the previous day.

During the proceedings, members from the treasury and opposition benches exchanged barbs in the lower house of parliament, accusing each other of ruining the country’s economy.

Members of the opposition parties criticised National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar for becoming “a part of the government” as he had agreed to become a member of the government’s committee that is holding talks with the joint opposition’s Rehbar committee over the Islamabad sit-in organised by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F).

In an interesting development, the son of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maulana Asad Mehmood, accepted the challenge thrown by the federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ali Amin Gandapur, for a fresh election in the constituency of Dera Ismail Khan, the city to which the two legislators belong.

In a fiery speech on the floor of the house, senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former defence minister Khawaja Asif predicted that fresh elections would be held soon in the country. “Fresh elections will take place soon, on our demand,” he said.

He warned the government that something “big will happen soon in the country” that the government did not know about. “We know what you [the government] do not know,” he claimed.

Mr Asif said the opposition would soon move the Supreme Court for an interpretation of the Constitution to decide if the government’s move to get the bills approved without holding a debate was in accordance with the law or not.

The current session started on Thursday after Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary committee, where he instructed legislators to get all the bills passed, especially the one aimed at replacing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) with the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). The prime minister remained in his chamber in the Parliament House until the session was adjourned till Friday.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri got the 11 ordinances passed in such haste that no time was given to the legislators to hold a proper debate on them. He turned a deaf ear to the opposition lawmakers, who tore up copies of the bills, threw them towards the deputy speaker and converged on the speaker’s dais.

The opposition later vowed to bring a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker.

On Friday, Mr Asif urged Speaker Qaisar to become an advocate for democracy and supremacy of the house, instead of becoming a part of the government.

He also demanded of the PTI to account for the funds it had allegedly received from other countries. “The thieves who had taken money from Indians have been caught today,” he said, amid shouting by treasury benchers.

Earlier, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said in his speech the opposition parties talked about democracy, but were not even ready to listen to PTI lawmakers.

Talking about the anti-government sit-in being held by the JUI-F, the minister said no headway had so far been made in easing the crisis. He urged the opposition parties to convince Maulana Fazl to come to the negotiating table.

Communications Minister Murad Saeed accused the opposition leaders of looting the country’s wealth in his hard-hitting speech.

Election challenge

After an exchange of harsh words, Asad Mehmood of the JUI-F said he was ready to resign from the assembly and contest an election against Mr Gandapur if the minister too was ready to tender his resignation.

“I want to show to the whole of Pakistan your true face,” he said while gesturing towards the minister for Kashmir affairs.

In response, Mr Gandapur said he was ready to vacate his seat and contest a by-election against JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl. He added that the JUI-F could monitor the elections with surveillance cameras.

After the adjournment of the session till Monday evening, the opposition leaders submitted a resolution for a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Suri.

They were of the view that the deputy speaker had lost the confidence of the majority of the house by getting the 11 ordinances approved in undue haste.



'This is the beginning': PM Imran inaugurates Kartarpur Corridor on historic day

November 09, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor at a colourful ceremony on Saturday, paving the way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion's holiest sites in Pakistan without needing a visa.

"First of all, I congratulate the Sikh community on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak and welcome you all," the premier said at the start of his address, paying tribute to the government team for completing the Kartarpur project in a matter of months.

"I salute you all. I had no idea you were so efficient. That means we can do so much more," he told the government officials.

"I am always so happy to see the Sikh community who have come here. God lives in the hearts of all of us. All the messengers who have come and gone only ever brought two messages, that of peace and justice.

"These two things distinguish us from the animal kingdom," he said.

Prime Minister Imran noted that the lessons that can be drawn from Guru Nanak's teachings are about bringing people together and not to spread hate.

"I am happy we could do this for you," he told the hundreds of Sikh pilgrims. "Believe me, I had no idea of the importance this place holds; I found out a year ago.

He said the inability of Sikhs in the past to visit the Kartarpur shrine was akin to Muslims being able to see Madina from a distance but not be able to go near it.

"That is why I am happy to see you so happy and the way your hearts have nothing but prayers for us."

Citing the examples of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Nelson Mandela and Sufi saints, the prime minister said a true leader is one who always brings people together and does not spread hate in order to gain votes.

He continued: "The first thing I did after becoming the prime minister was to tell [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi that poverty is our mutual problem, and the way to deal with it is to open our borders to people and trade.

"I met Manmohan Singh during a conference and I remember when he was the PM he had said that 'the entire South Asia can rise if we solve Kashmir'. And that's what I told Modi.

"But I am sad to say that Kashmir has gone beyond a territorial issue. This is an issue of humanity, not a territorial dispute.

"The way they [Kashmiris] are being kept like animals. Their rights have been snatched away which the UNSC gave them.

"If Modi is listening, [he should know that] justice brings peace and injustice spreads confusion.

"Let's rid ourselves of this problem," he told Modi, referring to the Kashmir dispute. "So we can live like humans.

"Imagine the happiness that will spread and how we will be able to pull people out of poverty.

"I have hope that this is the beginning. One day our relations with India will be such that would have been had the issue of Kashmir been resolved in the beginning (at Partition).

"I also foresee a day when the hatred that has spread in the sub-continent over the past 70 years due to this dispute [will be no more].

"When this problem is solved and Kashmiris get their rights, the sub-continent will see prosperity and our entire region will rise in the world, and I pray that day is not far," he concluded.

'You've won hearts'

Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu earlier addressed the ceremony, thanking Prime Minister Imran for taking the bold step to build the Kartarpur Corridor "without looking at gains or losses".

"You have won hearts," he said while addressing the premier.

Further heaping praise on Prime Minister Imran, he said: "There are people who are swept away by the tides of time, even the mountains bow to the tides of time, man is left spinning as it whirls by, but then there are those like Imran Khan who stand the test of time and create history.

"No benefit or loss was weighed. No deals were considered. My faithful friend (PM Imran) did this for the love of God.

"What will you gain from killing in a war? If you want to win someone over, do so by generosity. The enemy can neither die from loss that way nor be able to hold his head high after being struck by such generosity.

"This Sikh community is going to take you further than you can fathom," he said, addressing the prime minister. "We will become your mouthpiece.

"Four generations of Sikhs were deprived; for the first time a government has [opened access to Kartarpur] for 140 million Sikhs. Alexander won the world through fear and terror. Imran Khan you are the Alexander who has won the world's hearts and you rule them all."

Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri in his speech said today's ceremony and the opening of the Kartapur Corridor is "the biggest message of peace and love" since Partition.

"Imran Khan, the promise you had made to the millions of Sikhs has been fulfilled. And I congratulate Sardar Navjot Singh as it was you who brought this idea to the prime minister.

"Baba Guru Nanak spent the last days of his life here. He spent his life bringing people together and spreading the message of love.

"In your last days here you continued to spread the message of oneness, truth, peace. His teachings carry the lessons of humanity and its well-being.

"This was the prime minister's personal interest and his commitment," he said, adding that he prayed Prime Minister Imran will be rewarded by God for winning people's hearts.

'Doors of Kartarpur sahib have been opened'

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his address gave the credit for the "historic" project coming to fruition to Prime Minister Imran and the government team.

"The doors of Kartarpur sahib have been opened for you," the foreign minister said while addressing members of the Sikh community across the world.

He said the message of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev was one of peace and love, but that it needed to be reflected upon who is today "sowing the seeds of hate" in the subcontinent.

"If the Berlin Wall can be demolished, if the Kartarpur Corridor can be opened, then the temporary boundary of the Line of Control can also be ended," Qureshi said, adding that the promise of granting the right of self-determination to the people of occupied Kashmir can also be fulfilled.

He asked Indian Prime Minister Modi, who had earlier in the day thanked Prime Minister Imran, whether he will also give his Pakistani counterpart the chance to thank him.

"You can do so," he told Modi, "by lifting the curfew in occupied Kashmir, ending the use of pellet guns, ending the violations of human rights [and] by ending the communication blackout".

He expressed the wish that Modi will open the Srinagar Jamia Mosque for Kashmiri Muslims the way the Kartarpur gurdwara was opened for the Sikh community by Pakistan.

The minister announced that the prime minister has identified 400 temples in the country which will be renovated.

Manmohan leads Sikhs delegation

Sikhs from across the border started arriving in Pakistan today to make a historic pilgrimage to the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, which is located in Kartarpur, as Islamabad and New Delhi made history by opening the Kartarpur Corridor.

Prime Minister Imran arrived at the corridor inauguration ceremony using the shuttle service used by pilgrims, according to state broadcaster PTV.

The premier was accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri and other officials.

Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh led the first delegation of Sikh pilgrims as they crossed into Pakistan through the Kartarpur Corridor. Indian Punjab's Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was also part of the jatha (caravan).

"I hope India and Pakistan relations improve enormously as a result of this beginning," Manmohan told PTV as he walked towards the Pakistan side, terming the occasion a "big moment".

The Indian Punjab chief minister said they were all happy because it had been a desire of Sikhs to visit their religious sites in Pakistan for 70 years.

"This is a beginning, I hope it's going to continue and many more gurdwaras are going to be allowed," he remarked.

Besides Sidhu, Bollywood actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol also attended the opening ceremony.

Foreign diplomats, accompanied by Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, were also in attendance.

Before seeing off the first group of pilgrims, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed members of the Sikh community and hailed the opening of the corridor.

"I also thank Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan for understanding India's wishes and turning Kartarpur into reality," Modi said in his speech. He also thanked the labour in both countries for completing the construction in such a short time.

The Indian premier said that Baba Guru Nanak was not just a revered figure for Sikhs but for the entire humanity.

About 8,000-10,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive from around the world to mark Guru Nanak's 550th birthday on November 12.

The premier had performed the groundbreaking of the visa-free corridor last year. Since then, the government has employed hundreds of labourers to spruce up the shrine, including building a border immigration checkpoint and a bridge, as well as expanding the site's grounds. After tough negotiations between Islamabad and New Delhi, Pakistan and India had finally signed an agreement regarding the project last month.

Ahead of the opening, the prime minister also announced special waivers in order to facilitate Indian pilgrims. Pilgrims who arrive from India will no longer need a passport to cross over into Pakistan as long as they have a valid identity.

The premier had also announced that he had directed that the condition for pilgrims to register 10 days before their arrival at the Kartarpur shrine be waived.

Furthermore, the pilgrims who arrive on the day of the Kartarpur Corridor's opening and on Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary will not be charged any fee to visit.

Up to 5,000 Indian Sikhs have been allowed access daily, with plans to eventually double the capacity.

Sikhs from around the world — including some from India who entered from the main border crossing at Wagah after obtaining visas — have been arriving in Pakistan ahead of the celebrations for several days already.

Opening border and hearts

In a statement issued hours before the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, Prime Minister Imran congratulated the Sikh community residing in Pakistan as well as in India on the occasion.

The premier said that the "unprecedented gesture of goodwill [...] is a reflection of our deep respect for Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji and religious sentiments of Sikh community".

"Today we are not only opening border but also our hearts for the Sikh community," the statement read.

The prime minister in his statement further said: "The inauguration today is also a testimony of our commitment towards peace of the region. We believe that the road to prosperity of region and bright future of our coming generation lies in peace. We believe that interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence will provide us an opportunity to work for larger interests of people of the sub-continent.

"While congratulating the Sikh community once again, I also wish to thank all those who contributed towards transforming this vision in reality in record time of 10 months only."

Tantalisingly close

For up to 30 million Sikhs around the world, it is one of their holiest places. When Pakistan was carved out of colonial India at independence from Britain in 1947, Kartarpur ended up on the western side of the border — though most of the region's Sikhs remained on the other side.

For them, it is tantalisingly close — just four kilometres inside Pakistan, so near that Indian Sikhs have been known to stand on the other side and simply gaze across the divide at the site.

But decades of enmity between India and Pakistan has left extreme restrictions on their ability to visit.

“This land is sacred for them,” Habib Khan, the 63-year-old imam of a small mosque just outside the gurdwara, told AFP on Friday.

Vans of pilgrims could be seen travelling through Kartarpur on Friday.

The Indian flag could be seen flying across the border, just beyond fields dotted with eucalyptus and guava trees — though it was half obscured by the heavy smog that has blanketed large swathes of South Asia in recent days.

Contingents of Rangers dotted the rice-growing region which, being so close to the border, is heavily secured, with multiple checkpoints.



Prophet's birth 'purified civilisation', says PM Imran in message on Eid-i-Miladun Nabi

November 10, 2019

As the country celebrated Eid-i-Miladun Nabi on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) marked the end of a history of inhumanity, oppression, tyranny, ignorance, injustice and deviation from the right path, Radio Pakistan reported.

In his message on the occasion, the premier added that Prophet Muhammad's birth "purified civilisation by inculcating characteristics like human dignity and forgiveness".

He added that the idea of a welfare state was first introduced by Islam.

In his message, President Dr Arif Alvi said the government is trying to develop Pakistan as a welfare state based on the principles of the state of Madina, Radio Pakistan reported.

The president urged citizens, particularly religious scholars, to play their role in making Pakistan a welfare state, adding that the government is making economic and social reforms in various sectors which could bring positive results "very soon".

Eid-i-Miladun Nabi is being celebrated today with religious enthusiasm across the country. The day began with a 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in all the provincial capitals.

Following Fajr prayers, special prayers for the unity of the Muslim ummah as well as for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan were offered in various mosques, Radio Pakistan reported.

Special conferences, events and Mehfil-i-Milad are also being held to mark the occasion. The 'International Rehmatul-lil-Alameen (SAW) Conference' is underway in Islamabad, the report added.

In his message, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said it is a day of salvation from restlessness and illiteracy for humanity.



Babri Mosque, Lahore Gurdwara: Legal parallels, different outcome

November 10, 2019

ANKARA: As Indian Supreme Court on Saturday handed over the site of 16th century Babri Mosque to Hindus for the construction of a temple, Sikh community in Pakistan feels that the verdict should have taken a queue from Lahore’s Shahid Ganj Gurdwawa (Sikh place of worship) case.

The two cases bear striking resemblance in terms of claims and litigation.

They also termed the timing of the verdict “surprising”, as it coincided with the opening of Kartarpur border between India and Pakistan to facilitate Sikh pilgrims to visit their places of worship.

“The two sites (Babri Mosque and Shahid Ganj Gurdwara) share a close resemblance in terms of litigation, but not in terms of the outcome,” Sardar Ramesh Singh, the chairman of Pakistan Sikh Council, told Anadolu Agency.

Ramesh gave credit to the Muslim community for conserving Shahid Gunj Gurdwara and not converting it into a mosque after the creation of Pakistan.

“The land of Babri Mosque has been taken away from Muslim minority in India, whereas the Gurdwara of minority Sikh community still stands at the same site in Muslim-majority Pakistan,” he said.

The history of the building known as Shahid Ganj Gurdwara — also called Bhai Taru Singh (a Sikh religious scholar) Gurdwara — has striking resemblance with the dispute of Babri Mosque, demolished by a frenzied Hindu mob on December 6, 1992 and now its site has been handed over to Hindus for the construction of a temple.

Constructed by Kotwal (Chief Police Officer) of Lahore Abdullah Khan, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653, Shahid Ganj was a mosque till 1799, till Sikh Army under Maharaja Ranjit Singh captured the city defeating Afghans. They converted it into a gurdwara and barred entry of Muslims.

In 1849, when British took control of Lahore by defeating Sikh Empire, Muslims pleaded for the return of the mosque and knocked the court. But the court using law of limitations, rejected the plea and questioned the delay of 51 years for claiming the mosque. The London-based Privy Council, the highest court of appeal during British era also rejected Muslim claim on May 2, 1940.

“Only a few Sikhs were left in the surroundings of Gurdwara, following a huge Sikh exodus in 1947. If the local community had insisted its conversion into mosque, nobody would have stopped them”, said Ramesh.

Sardar Charanjeet Singh, a Sikh community leader in Peshawar said India should learn from Pakistan in terms of protecting places of worship for minorities.

“Another Gurdwara was also re-opened in Peshawar five years ago, with the assistance of local Muslims”, Charanjeet, who also runs a facebook page “Peshawari Singh”, told Anadolu Agency.

He was referring to Gurdwara Baba Biba Singh — named after a 17th century Sikh religious scholar.

The Gurdawra had been closed following migration of Sikhs from Peshawar to India in 1947.

Currently, Peshawar hosts the largest population of Sikhs in Pakistan, who started settling down here from adjoining tribal areas and other parts of the country in 1960s for businesses and jobs.

The number of Sikhs in Pakistan is estimated between 30,000-40,000 out of some 200 million population of this South Asian Muslim country.

Apart from Peshawar, he said, two other Gurdwaras had recently been re-opened in Mandi Bahauddin and Gujrat districts of Punjab with the help of local Muslims.

Both Ramesh and Charanjeet termed timing of the verdict as “surprising” and “unfortunate”, when Sikhs were celebrating 550th anniversary of their founder Baba Guru Nanak and the opening of pilgrim corridor, along Kartarpur border between India and Pakistan.

“The judgment had been pending for over a long time. The Supreme Court could have waited a bit more. But it chose to announce the verdict on this occasion, which could have been taken as a point for inter-communal harmony in both countries,” he said.



President, PM urge nation to follow Iqbal’s message of self-esteem

November 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan have said that it is high time to revert to the message of Allama Muhammad Iqbal to find solution to the ills corroding the society and hindering the progress and prosperity.

In their separate messages on 142nd birth anniversary of great philosopher and thinker, Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, they said it is an occasion to recall and pledge for the nation to follow his message of self-awareness and self-esteem.

They said that Muslims of the Sub-continent would always remain indebted to the great visionary leader for his invaluable services.

They said Allama Iqbal infused a new spirit among the Muslims of the sub-continent, changed their thought process and provided them with a solid ideological foundation to strive for regaining their lost identity.

The great leader had also envisioned the idea of a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent and made remarkable contributions towards understanding the true message of Islam.

The President and Prime Minister urged the nation to pledge on this day to make even greater efforts for the fulfillment of the dream of our forefathers and move forward according to the teachings of Allama Iqbal for the greater good of our society and our beloved homeland.



Azadi Marchers holding ‘Seerat-un-Nabi’ Conference for 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal

November 10, 2019

Participants of the Azadi March participants are attending  ‘Seerat-un-Nabi’ Conference in sector H-9 of the federal, it was reported on Saturday.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazl and other ulema are present at the occasion.

The event is being commemorated in the honour of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), whose birthday is celebrated every year on 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal.

Thousands of protesters have converged on Pakistan’s federal capital, under the banner of ‘Azadi’ March, seeking to de-seat Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The ongoing sit-in is headed by opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is the chief of his own faction of the JUI-F.

The caravan, which set off from Sindh on October 27, reached Islamabad on October 31.

During the week long sit-in, opposition leaders delivered fiery speeches against the ruling PTI government, giving the prime minister a 48-hour ultimatum to resign. The deadline was later extended.

Till now, despite several meetings, negotiations between the protesters and the government have failed to reach any result.



Southeast Asia


Rahmatan lil 'Alamin starts with Assalamualaikum

By Ahmad A Talib

November 10, 2019

IN recent weeks, many video clips depicting Islam as a religion of mercy made their rounds.

One clip showed an African American mother forgiving a man who murdered her son.

She hugged the killer in an open court and wished that the killer would repent and change his ways.

Another showed a Muslim father who also forgave the killer of his son, saying that revenge was not on his mind at all.

But forgiving the killer had always been uppermost, regardless of the legal proceedings against the murderer.

Such a depiction of Islam would go a long way to project it as a religion of peace, tolerance and compassion.

And that is exactly the Islam that Malaysia wants to project to the rest of the world.

In fact, the world of Islam should make a concerted effort to promote this to counter the negative portrayal of Islam by anti-Islamic forces and those who are ignorant of Islam as a way of life.

And the task of taking this to the world stage falls on the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

The catchphrase for this is ‘Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin’.

Translated, Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin is ‘compassionate Islam’.

The two examples mentioned above more than explain what this whole idea is all about.

Mujahid’s task is to articulate this in a manner that everyone can comprehend.

He has started work on this actually. He is being assisted by a former ambassador and diplomat, Datuk Seri Syed Hussien Alhabshee.

Syed Hussein is the chairman of the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (Mawip).

By the way, this is the first time that Mawip is not headed by a politician, a fact that has not been mentioned often enough.

Syed Hussien, 70, joined government service as a PTD officer in 1977. He was posted to the Foreign Ministry.

His tour of duty included Egypt, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

He also had a spell as deputy permanent secretary to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah.

Today, the career diplomat is assisting Mujahid to take Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin to the global stage.

Next week, Mujahid will elaborate on this philosophy at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Malaysia’s efforts to make the world understand Islam and see it as a religion promoting universal values are an ongoing initiative.

One might say that Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin encompasses a more universal appeal, one that has sufficient examples anywhere in the world.

Mujahid’s strategy in promoting this is quite straightforward - make the concept known to foreign ambassadors and high commissioners who are posted in Kuala Lumpur.

I attended one of his sessions last month. He hosted a dinner for 18 ambassadors and high commissioners from the European Union in Putrajaya.

Mujahid looked confident and comfortable as he articulated the philosophy, answering questions and sharing perspectives with ease.

Earlier in September, Mawip and the International Islamic University Malaysia held an international seminar on Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin, where prominent Islamic scholars shared their views and experiences.

That seminar concluded by passing several resolutions to use the philosophy to nurture a society based on tolerance, peace and mercy.

This is a philosophy that does not contradict other faiths anywhere in the world.

In this regard, a look at the Singapore experience may be useful.

The republic may not have Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin as its official policy but it does support efforts to promote Islam Cemerlang (Brilliant Islam) in the island state.

Two points worth mentioning from the Singapore experience are: the belief that a good Muslim is also a good citizen and good Muslims aspire to be an example and inspiration to others.

In fact, the adherence to these basic principles falls very much in place with universal values, which add value to a plural and diversified community as found in Singapore.

Mujahid will also be articulating the concept when he speaks at another religious conference in Azerbaijan this month.

It is also noted that there aren’t enough credible narrators of Islam on the world stage, especially those who can eloquently argue that Islam is not a religion of terror as depicted by quite a number of ignorant and irresponsible world leaders.

Mujahid and his team must also talk extensively in this country, explaining that the concept is taken from the Quran and not a creation by scholars and intellectuals.

The concept depicts universal values which are not specific to Muslims.

Islamophobia has caused so much damage to Islam as a religion of peace.

The terror promoted by so-called Islamic groups is not helping either.

Therefore, Mujahid and other like-minded Muslim leaders all over the world share this responsibility of correcting this misperception.

In fact, ordinary Muslims can be the most powerful ambassadors of Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin by leading a life of peace and tolerance, mercy and compassion.

The daily greeting among Muslims is enough to show that peace is at the centre of everyday Islam.

Assalamualaikum - peace be unto you! That daily greeting is used over and over throughout every Muslim life.

Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin starts with that greeting. Live it, and we shall have enduring peace and understanding.



Malay bibles not a threat to Muslims, backbencher tells Penang legislative assembly

04 Nov 2019


GEORGE TOWN, Nov 4 — Malay bibles should not be considered a threat to Muslims’ faith but instead regarded as a way for them to understand other religions, a backbencher said at the Penang legislative assembly today.

Norlela Ariffin (PKR — Penanti) said she has conducted sessions for Muslims with the religious department where they were shown the Malay version of the bible and the al-Quran side by side for comparison.

“We don’t want Muslims to have this fear that just by touching a bible, they immediately become a murtad, this is not true,” she said when interjecting state opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor’s (BN -Sungai Dua) debate at the State Legislative Assembly today.

“They can compare and look through both the bible and al-Quran and they will realise the differences between both religious materials,” she said.

Norlela said it is better for Muslims to understand other religions and for them to be aware of other religious scriptures including the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.

“We live in a multicultural society, it is important for us to understand each other, to know more about each others’ religions so that there is no unnecessary fear of another religion,” she said.

She said she had organised similar sessions for non-Muslims, even in temples, for them to better understand Islam since 2017.

“We don’t want Malays and Muslims to be seen as fearful of other religions especially when we are in a multicultural society, where our neighbours are made up of other races of other religions,” she said.

Norlela expressed her worry over the possible merging of Umno and PAS that will give rise to more racial incitement by the parties.

“They will continue inciting racial issues, they will frighten the people and create racial divide, please don’t do this,” she said.

Earlier, Yusoff had proposed than a law be enacted to punish those who distributed bibles to Muslims and include Muslims in Christian prayers.

He claimed that Malay language bibles were once distributed to schools in Penang and warned that it can become a big problem.

“There is an enactment against this in all the states but Penang, Perlis and Wilayah Persekutuan so we should consider introducing this bill here,” he said.

Later, outside the House, Norlela said there was so much fear created over the bible issue that she had to organise “secret” sessions for Muslims and non-Muslims to help both groups understand each other.

“There is nothing wrong for a Muslim to touch a bible, it won’t convert them, even if a Christian missionary goes around spreading word about their religion, it will not affect our faith, I want Muslims to be confident in this,” she said.

She said her sessions that she has been organising regularly was meant to reassure Muslims that as a majority, nobody could pose a threat to them.

“We are the majority, it is not right for them to fear other religions, it will only create unnecessary friction,” she said.

She said when Muslims are shown the bibles and made to understand other religions, it will dispel their fear.



ISIS preys on domestic workers in Hong Kong, Singapore

Nov 09, 2019

(CNN) - For six days a week, the three women worked as domestic workers in homes across Singapore. But in their spare time, they promoted ISIS online, donated money to militants overseas, and became so radicalized that at least one was ready to die as a suicide bomber in Syria, according to Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs.

The women -- all Indonesian nationals -- were arrested in September under Singapore's Internal Security Act on suspicion of taking part in terror financing activities and face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000 Singapore dollars ($362,000).

A spokeswoman for the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore confirmed the arrests and said it was providing consular assistance to the women, who do not have legal representation because they are still under investigation.

The women are yet to be formally charged. Terrorism experts say they are not the only domestic workers who are believed to have been radicalized online while working in big Asian cities like Singapore and Hong Kong.

As ISIS shifts its gaze towards Asia following the fall of its caliphate in the Middle East, these women are increasingly being targeted, albeit in a less organized way, experts warn.

"They are preyed upon and exploited by militant cells who essentially view them as cash cows," said Nava Nuraniyah, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), an Indonesian think tank. "They have a stable income, speak English and usually have a broad international network, making them ideal (targets)."

A radical fringe

Such women represent a tiny subset of the approximately 250,000 domestic migrant workers who live in Singapore and of the 385,000 who reside in Hong Kong.

"The vast majority of foreign workers are law-abiding and make a positive contribution to our society," said a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs. "However, there are still individuals who continue to be radicalized by ISIS' violent ideology."

Most of the cases identified so far involve Indonesian nationals, according to terrorism experts.

CNN attempted to contact the three Indonesian women being held in Singapore but was unable to secure a comment.

Between 2015 and 2017, IPAC conducted its own investigation into the radicalization of domestic workers and found there was a "radical fringe" of at least 50 Indonesian women working overseas as nannies, maids or caretakers for the elderly. Among these, 43 were based in Hong Kong, four in Singapore and three in Taiwan. Due to the difficulty of obtaining first-hand data and testimonies, these are the most recent figures available.

According to a source in Indonesia with knowledge of the profiles of radicalized militants who were returned to their home country, at least 20 radicalized domestic workers were deported back to Indonesia, a country which has the largest population of Muslims in the world, including three who are currently undergoing a deradicalization program run in cooperation with the government.

For the handful of women who become radicalized, the process usually begins with a traumatic event, according to IPAC researcher Nuraniyah. And the radicalization can be extremely rapid. IPAC's report details the case of one Indonesian domestic worker from Hong Kong who went from a secular fashion enthusiast to ISIS devotee in less than a year.

"They either go through a divorce, get into debt or suffer from the culture shock of moving to a place very different from home, which are all common issues encountered by migrant workers," Nuraniyah said.

Living far from home in an unfamiliar environment, sometimes exposed to ill-treatment by unscrupulous employers, they are especially vulnerable to indoctrination online.

"They are lonely so they feel a need to engage with the Indonesian community, either online or in real life," said Diovio Alfath, a program officer at The Coalition of Civil Society Against Violent Extremism or C-Save, an Indonesian organization which helps rehabilitate victims of radicalization. "But lacking the social networks they would normally turn to for advice, they aren't equipped to deal with the radical messages that are being fed to them."

Online boyfriends

They might already have a pro-ISIS contact in their Facebook friends and turn to him or her or seek out the pages of prominent militants, says Nuraniyah. Some are recruited by another domestic worker at a prayer group or at a social gathering on their day off, according to IPAC. Often, it is a two-way street: the domestic workers might take the first step by reaching out to militants. In return, many are then rapidly brought into radical groups and groomed to become militants.

"I started listening to Salafi podcasts while cleaning the house," one Indonesian maid from Semarang working in Singapore told IPAC -- according to a transcript of the interview seen by CNN -- in reference to a strict, orthodox branch of Islam. "On Facebook, I followed people whose profiles seemed very Islamic because I needed friends who could guide me."

She said she was especially moved by an Instagram account which featured graphic pictures of the Muslim victims in Syria.

Then she met a 29-year-old Indonesian butcher living in Batam online. She said he encouraged her to travel to Syria to join ISIS there. But the Singaporean government found out about her plans and deported her back to Indonesia in 2017, according to Nuraniyah.

The tipping point usually comes after the women forge personal relationships with militants online who become their "boyfriends," she says. They are then invited to join dedicated chatrooms on encrypted apps.

"This is where the real stuff happens, where bomb designs are shared and active coordination takes place," said Zachary Abuza, an expert on ISIS' operations in Southeast Asia at the National War College in Washington. For example, he says, there are several hundred groups on Telegram -- an encrypted app often used by ISIS -- for sympathizers of the islamic movement, many of which have content catering specifically to women, such as advice on feminine issues and child rearing. CNN reached out to Telegram but the company did not respond to our request.

Once the process of radicalization has been completed, a small number of domestic workers marry their jihadi boyfriends. One Indonesian woman working in Hong Kong returned to Banten, in western Java, in 2015 to become the second wife of Adi Jihadi, a militant who was arrested in 2017 for purchasing arms and training in Mindanao with Isnilon Hapilon, who had been declared ISIS's emir for Southeast Asia.

Jihadi later admitted to having funded the weapons used in a 2016 attack in Jakarta where eight people died and was convicted for this.

Other radicalized domestic workers take on a more active role, becoming financiers, recruiters and coordinators.

"Some of the domestic workers who came through our program were involved in providing financial or logistical support -- such as housing militants on their way to Syria -- for radical networks," said Alfath.

One alleged prominent figure in Hong Kong's pro-ISIS scene, a 36-year-old woman from Central Java, collected funds from radicalized maids and sent them to jihadist organizations in Indonesia, according to her social media posts and interviews carried out by IPAC. She also organized plane tickets for Indonesian militants traveling to Syria, often via Hong Kong, according to the same sources.

On her day off, she sometimes attended classes by Serving Islam Team, an organization founded by Wael Ibrahim, an Egyptian pop star turned Salafi scholar. "She usually came with a friend and was very quiet during the lesson," he told CNN. "But afterwards, she would forcefully question why we weren't supporting ISIS."

He ended up excluding her from his classes. In July 2017, she was deported back to Indonesia, where she remains, according to Nuraniyah.

Some radicalized domestic workers even travel to war zones. Of the 50 radicalized domestic workers identified by IPAC, at least 12 had attempted to reach Syria via Hong Kong, as of June 2017. Four made it and the rest were intercepted and deported back to Indonesia, according to IPAC's report. C-Save has also seen domestic workers who had attempted to reach Syria go through its program.

Two of the Indonesian women arrested in Singapore harbored the intention of traveling to Syria, one of the them even claiming she wanted to become a suicide bomber for ISIS in Syria, the authorities claim.

New destination

The two women had also been encouraged by their online contacts to migrate to the southern Philippines, according to Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs. Experts say ISIS has strengthened its foothold in Southeast Asia, and ISIS sympathizers -- including radicalized domestic workers -- have recently started setting their sights on the Philippines as a destination.

"After 2017, once ISIS started losing territory in the Middle East, its message shifted," Abuza said. "It started encouraging militants to travel to Mindanao, in the Philippines, and establish a caliphate there."

Several Islamist organizations in the Philippines and Indonesia -- including Abu Sayyaf, The Maute Group and Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) -- have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Several individuals were arrested recently in Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, for assisting ISIS sympathizers on their way to the Philippines, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, a Malaysian counter-terrorism official, told the Malay Mail in September.

The Philippines is the best opportunity for ISIS to seize territory, Abuza said, as parts of the southern island of Mindanao are a "black hole in terms of law enforcement, with largely corrupt security forces and large ungoverned spaces." CNN requested a comment from the Philippines government, but it did not respond.

In 2017, ISIS fighters seized the town of Marawi in Mindanao, leading to a five-month siege, which was only broken in October 2017 following the deaths of militant leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed emir of ISIS in Asia.

The downfall of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has also led to increased online recruitment efforts targeting Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore, according to Abuza. "Since the fall of the caliphate, recruitment drives have continued," confirms Alfath. "But they have become less organized. Instead of the orders coming from above, they now emanate from local groups in Indonesia or even from individual militants."

The recruitment extends to training domestic workers to commit suicide attacks, according to IPAC. A former domestic worker in Taiwan and Singapore, 27-year-old Dian Yuli Novi planned to blow herself up outside the presidential palace in Jakarta. In August 2017, she was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, according to Reuters.

In December 2016, another alleged would-be female suicide bomber was arrested in Central Java. Allegedly radicalized in Hong Kong during her time there as a domestic worker, 34-year-old Ika Puspitasari had returned to Indonesia to marry a man she met online in 2015, according to IPAC. Authorities say she then volunteered to carry out a bomb attack in Bali on New Year's Eve. She was sentenced to four years and six months in prison and a fine in 2017.

Keeping a close watch

The recruitment of domestic workers in Hong Kong and Singapore has not gone unnoticed.

"Governments in their host countries actively monitor social media posts and discussion groups to search for terrorism-related content," said Alfath from C-Save. "If they find radical messages published by a migrant worker, they move to deport him or her."

Singapore has deported 16 allegedly radicalized domestic workers to Indonesia since 2015 after completing investigations into their cases, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman.

Hong Kong declined to provide figures on the number of domestic helpers it has deported, but a police spokesman said it "keeps a close watch on international terrorist trends and continuously assesses the terrorist threat to Hong Kong," by exchanging intelligence with other law enforcement agencies and conducting multi-agency exercises. In 2018, a dedicated inter-departmental counter-terrorism unit was created.

Singapore has been working closely with local religious organizations and a rehabilitation group to engage with the foreign domestic worker community through outreach events at mosques and foreign embassies, according to the government spokesman.

These events serve to teach them about Singapore's multi-religious social values and to warn them about extremist groups, he added. The Ministry of Manpower also organizes briefings to employment agencies and has incorporated a counter-terrorism module in its settling-in program for foreign domestic workers.

The three Indonesian women arrested are still in detention. Under Singapore's security laws, they could be held for up to two years before they are tried. The government spokesman said that "they are assessed to pose a security threat in view of their support for ISIS and investigations into their terrorism financing activities are ongoing."





For Iran, neighbors always come first, Zarif says at 24th ECO summit

Nov 9, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is in Turkey to attend the 24th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), says for Tehran “neighbors always come first.”

“Pleased to be in Turkey, attending 24th ministerial meeting of the ECO,” Zarif wrote in a tweet on Saturday, hours after taking part in the meeting with his Pakistani and Turkish counterparts.

“In keeping with Iran’s foreign policy that posits our neighbors should always come first, regional cooperation remains a priority,” he said. “We hope this cooperation can be welcomed by neighbors to our south, too.”

Javad Zarif


Pleased to be in Turkey, attending 24th ministerial meeting of the ECO.

In keeping with Iran’s foreign policy that posits our neighbors should always come first, regional cooperation remains a priority. 

We hope this cooperation can be welcomed by neighbors to our south, too.


6:26 PM - Nov 9, 2019

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Speaking at the summit, the Iranian top diplomat called on the two neighbors to use the ECO to its full potential in order to grow closer ties between the members and use their funds as well.

“With a population of around half a billion people, incredible geographic situation, vast energy and mineral resources, advanced human resources, huge commercial market as well as cultural and historical similarities the ECO has all of the required parameters to succeed in multilateral cooperation between nations,” he said.

Zarif argued that a lack of appropriate design for economic cooperation was the primary challenge facing the ECO.

He said the ECOTA or the Economic Cooperation Organization Trade Agreement and other internal arrangements of the ECO needed to become operational so that all traders could get involved in the advancement of the Middle East region and its nations.

Using national currencies for bilateral trade, reducing the costs and speeding up the customs clearance were some of the measures that Zarif said could be taken to boost cooperation.

Zarif hails Erdogan’s comments on Iraq unrest

Earlier, Zarif met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, during which he praised the remarks recently made by Turkey’s president, where they discussed bilateral ties, latest developments in the region and bilateral cooperation within the ECO.

Zarif also hailed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks about the ongoing unrest in Iraq.

Earlier on Saturday, Erdogan said he knows who is behind the recent anti-government protests in Iraq.

"We can guess who is behind the unrest in Iraq,” he said on Saturday, concluding that the unnamed conspirators behind the deadly protests in Iraq were after "dividing the Islamic World."

“What makes us worry about the problems of people who are thousands or tens of thousands of kilometers away from our country is Islam as a common denominator and the consciousness of being an Ummah,” he said.

“Universal Muslim fellowship has no limits. No one can sow discord among us,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Anadolu news agency.

Erdоgаn also speculated that those behind Iraq’s unrest probably planned to spread the protests into Iran.

Late last month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned that the US and Western spy services, with the financial help of the reactionary Arab regimes, are seeking to instigate "dangerous hostilities" in Iraq and Lebanon despite their people's "legitimate demands."

Ayatollah Khamenei described insecurity as “the biggest damage” a country could suffer, warning against plots being pursued by the enemies to rob regional countries of security.

The elements instigating such “dangerous hostilities” are known, said the Leader, adding that “the US and the Western intelligence services, financed by certain reactionary countries of the region, are behind such incidents.”

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in reference to the latest bout of violent protests that have gripped Iraq and Lebanon for several weeks.



Yemen: Thousands mark Prophet Mohammad's birthday in Sana'a

Nov 9, 2019

Thousands of Muslims flooded Al Sabeen Square, close to the Al Sha'ab Mosque in Sana'a on Saturday, to mark the birth anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him).



Turkey-Affiliated Forces, Terrorists Clash with Syrian Army in Hasaka

Nov 09, 2019

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the attacks targeted the village of Tal Sho'air between Tal Tamar and Abu Ra'asin in Hasaka, adding that the Turkish army also supported the offensive with heavy artillery fire, wounding several people.

It also reported that the Turkish drones bombed several regions between Tal Tamar and Ra's al-Ein in Hasaka on Friday.

Meantime, the SOHR reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian army regained control of the village of Um Sha'eifeh from the Turkey-backed militants on Friday night.

Also, the Arabic-language service of SANA news agency reported that the Syrian army has engaged in clashes with the Turkish forces at around midday today, adding that the two sides exchanged fire with heavy and semi-heavy weapons.

Meantime, the Arabic-language Qasiyoun news website reported that the Turkey-backed militants started attacks on the villages of al-Davoudiyeh, al-Qasemiyeh and al-Arisheh in Hasaka, adding that they engaged in clashes with the SDF forces in al-Arisheh and several other points in Abu Rasin region.

Late last week, the Syrian Army continued to reinforce its military positions in the Northern and Northeastern countryside of Hasaka, including Tal Tamr, in order to confront any possible aggression by Turkish occupying forces and also to protect locals from the attacks by Ankara troops.

In Tal Tamr, the army units are working to fortify their military positions to confront Turkish Army attacks as other army units boosted their positions in an area extending 60 kilometers from al-Aghibish village (West of Tal Tamr) to al-Wasitah village South of Aliyah silos.

The Syrian Army units strengthened their positions in Um al-Kaif village Northwest of Tal Tamr and Khashm Zarkan village North of the town and Mjeibert Zarkan village in the Northeastern part on the Tal Tamr-Qamishli Road, field sources in the Northern and Northeastern part of Tal Tamr were quoted as saying by the Arab-language media outlets.

Last Tuesday, the Syrian army took back control of a key oil field in Hasaka province in the Northeastern parts of the country.

The Arabic-language Radio Sham FM reported that the army had continued to advance in Northeastern Syria and entered al-Ramilan region in Hasaka to take control of its oil field.

According to the report, the army soldiers have already gained back control of Molla Abbas oil field which is a part of the giant al-Ramilan oil field.

The report added that the Syrian army troops were deployed in Northern Qamishli near the borders with Turkey on Tuesday.



Spokesman Raps Netanyahu for Lies about Iran's Intention to Develop N. Weapon

Nov 09, 2019

"Netanyahu's biggest lie is that Iran is after nuclear weapons. Iran does not need nuclear weapons given the power balance in the region. Also, ideologically, we have Supreme Leader's fatwa (that has banned producing, stockpiling and using atomic weapons) and legally, no other country is under supervision and inspection of the Agency (the International Atomic Energy Agency) so much as Iran," Kamalvandi told reporters on Saturday.

"Of course, Iran enjoys nuclear capability and technology and there is no doubt about that. But these allegations by the Zionist regime are aimed at concealing its own ugly face," he added.

Asked about US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's claims that Iran has prevented an IAEA inspector from visiting a nuclear site to intimidate the UN nuclear watchdog agency and extort Europeans, Kamalvandi said it is Washington which is extorting, bullying and even pressuring its own allies.

He underlined that Iran's measures are only aimed at restoring its rights.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had early in October reiterated his firm and serious opposition to Iran's acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons, describing it as haram (forbidden religiously).

"Nuclear science is beneficial but since it’s not been coupled with love for humanity, it led to nuclear disasters. Despite having the ability to develop nukes, we firmly and bravely avoided it, for building and keeping nukes, like using them, is haram," Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a group of academic elites and top scientific talents in Tehran.

Ayatollah Khamenei has on many occasions said the Islamic Republic considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons "a grave sin" from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.

On April 17, 2010 Ayatollah Khamenei issued a fatwa declaring that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are all haram (religiously banned).

"Iran is not after a nuclear bomb. Why would Iran want a nuclear bomb? Moreover, when an atomic bomb is detonated, it does not just kill enemies. Rather, it kills innocent people as well, and this goes against Islamic beliefs and the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran. An atomic bomb does not discriminate between good and bad people, and it is not something that the Islamic Republic would use. The Islamic Republic is relying on something that is not affected by bombs, foreign invasions and other such things. Such things only strengthen what the Islamic republic is relying on. The Islamic republic is relying on the people," a part of the fatwa said.



Iran Unveils Home-Made Tank Transporter

Nov 09, 2019

The tank transporter has been manufactured by the Army's Ground Force experts and enjoys 700/hp engine power and 200 tons of tensile strength.

It is also able to carry two 60-ton tanks on the ultra-heavy home-made 'Soleiman 3' towing vehicle.

Kian 700 weighs 17,799kg and runs in 12 gears.

Iran had in 2016 unveiled another ultra-heavy tank transporter named 'Pouria' and 'Fallagh' optimized tank.

The two new army achievements were unveiled during Beit ul-Muqaddas 28 wargames in the Central province of Isfahan.

"Pouria ultra-heavy tank carrier and Fallagh tanks were unveiled during Beit ul-Moqaddas drills," General Massoud Reza Zawarei, the head of the Iranian Ground Force's Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad, told reporters at the time.

He said that Fallagh is equipped with automatic and stabilized Dushka weapon which is controlled by the crew inside.



Iran able to enrich uranium up to 60 percent: Official

9 November 2019

Iran has the capacity to enrich uranium up to 60 percent, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Saturday, far more than is required for most civilian uses but short of the 90 percent needed to make nuclear bomb fuel.

“The organization has the possibility to produce 5 percent, 20 percent and 60 percent, and has this capacity,” AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said during a news conference at the underground Fordow nuclear plant, the official IRIB news agency reported. “At the moment, the need is for 5 percent,” he added.

Iran’s highest political authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said last month that the Islamic Republic had never pursued the building or use of nuclear weapons, which its religion forbids.

Iran said on Thursday it had resumed uranium enrichment at Fordow, stepping further away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after the United States pulled out of it.

The pact bans production of nuclear material at Fordow, a highly sensitive site that Iran hid from UN non-proliferation inspectors until its exposure in 2009.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit Fordow on Sunday, Kamalvandi said.

Since May, Iran has begun to exceed limits on its nuclear capacity set by the pact in retaliation for US pressure on Tehran to negotiate restrictions on its ballistic missile program and support for proxy forces around the Middle East.

Iran says its measures are reversible if European signatories to the accord manage to restore its access to foreign trade promised under the nuclear deal but blocked by the re-imposition of US sanctions.



Government soldiers take back northern Syrian village from Turkish forces, allies

Nov 9, 2019

Syrian government troops have retaken a village in the country’s northeastern province of Hasakah from Turkish military forces and their allied militants following intense clashes.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that heavy skirmishes broke out on Saturday afternoon when the Turkish forces and their mercenaries launched an offensive against the village of Um Shuaifeh near the border with Turkey.

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The report added that the battles involved heavy and medium weapons, noting that Syrian army soldiers finally managed to liberate the village and establish full control over it.

They forced Turkish forces and their allies to retreat towards the village of Mahmudiya, SANA said, without providing any information about possible casualties.

Meanwhile, a correspondent and two cameramen for the state-run al-Ikhbariyah Syria television news network, identified as Fadel Hammad, Walid Ibrahim and Mohammed al-Khaled respectively, were injured by tank shell shrapnel during the coverage of the clashes.

The development came a day after residents of the village of Dayr al-Ghosn in Hasakah province pelted the armored military vehicles of Turkish troops with stones and shoes.

Turkish forces, in return, fired tear gas to quell the protest and disperse the crowd.

Separately, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a young man had lost his life after a Turkish military vehicle ran him over in the village of Sarmsakh near the border with Turkey.

The Britain-based war monitor said villagers had gathered in an area to express their rejection of Turkish troops’ presence. The protesters threw stones, shoes and vegetables at the Turkish forces.

Medical sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Observatory that the young man arrived at al-Malikiyah Hospital in critical condition, and died there as a result of excessive internal bleeding. He also had his pelvis and most of his bones broken.

On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push militants of the People's Protection Units (YPG) from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. The YPG constitutes the backbone of the Kurdish-dominated so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants must withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow will run joint patrols around the area.

The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.



Saudi-led aggressors have to bear tragic consequences if Yemen war persists: Houthi

Nov 9, 2019

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has warned the Saudi-led coalition against the continuation of its atrocious military campaign against the impoverished and conflict-plagued Arab country, saying members of the alliance will have to accept grave consequences if the aggression persists.

“I call on the Saudi regime to stop the aggression and siege, otherwise the risks of continuing the aggression are great and the results will be severe for them,” Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said in a televised speech broadcast live from the capital Sana’a on Saturday evening.

He added that Yemeni forces will continue to develop their military hardware and will launch much harsher retaliatory attacks in case the Saudi-led assaults continue.

“Those who are seeking war and blockade and hoping to bring us to our knees are doing a useless job, and nothing but damage and harm awaits them,” Houthi pointed out.

“Aggressive Saudis must end blockade of Yemen. We understand the level of suffering that Yemeni people are enduring as a result of the blockade,” the Ansarullah chief highlighted, calling on the Yemeni nation to stay resilient in the face of oppressive Saudis.

Houthi then pointed to the ongoing mass protest movements in Lebanon and Iraq, advising nations in the Middle East region to resolve their issues vigilantly.

He asked the nations to exercise vigilance in the face of enemy ploys to gain a political and cultural foothold in their respective countries.

‘Yemenis won’t hesitate to respond to Israel folly’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Houthi stressed that the Yemeni people will not hesitate to deal a stinging blow to Israel in case the Tel Aviv regime commits the folly of attacking Yemen.

“Our people will not hesitate to declare jihad (holy war) against the Israeli enemy, and to launch the most severe strikes against sensitive targets in the occupied territories if the enemy engages in any folly against our people,” the Ansarullah leader said.

“We reaffirm our anti-Israel position and that the regime is an occupying one. This is a principled humanitarian, moral and religious commitment,” he said.

Houthi finally pointed to the theft of Yemen’s national resources by the Saudi-led coalition of aggression, saying more than 120 million barrels of crude oil have been looted in southern Yemeni areas occupied by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.



Yemeni president directs state agencies to implement Riyadh agreement

November 10, 2019

DUBAI: Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi instructed all state bodies and institutions to immediately implement the Riyadh agreement and its provisions, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.

“We wish this agreement would tear a page of suffering and open a new page that deserves to be experienced by the entire Yemeni people to meet their hopes and aspirations,” Hadi said.

In response to Hadi’s demands, Yemen’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs resumed its operations in the current temporary capital of Aden starting Sunday.

Meanwhile, Houthi militants were killed and others wounded in firing carried out by the Yemeni army in Al-Jawf province.

The Iran-backed Houthi militia forces were trying to infiltrate to the army’s positions in the province but the army troops forced them to flee and destroyed some of their vehicles.



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Pompeo slams Iran 'intimidation' of IAEA inspector as 'outrageous'

Nov 9, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday slammed Tehran's treatment of an inspector with the UN's nuclear watchdog agency last week as "an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation."

The top US diplomat said Iran "detained" the inspector, who the International Atomic Energy Agency has said had been briefly prevented from leaving Iran.

Iran said Thursday it had cancelled the inspector's accreditation after she triggered an alarm last week at the entrance to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

The alarm during a check at the entrance to the plant in central Iran had raised concerns that she could be carrying a "suspect product" on her, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said in a statement posted online.

As a result, she was denied entry, it added, without specifying whether or not anything had been found in her possession.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharib Abadi told reporters after a special agency meeting in Vienna that after setting off the alarms on October 28, the woman "sneaked out" to the bathroom while waiting for a more thorough inspection with a detector that can find a range of explosive materials.

After her return, the alarms did not go off again, but authorities found contamination in the bathroom and later on her empty handbag during a house search.

Iran said IAEA officials were present for all the searches.

The IAEA said Thursday that her treatment was "not acceptable."

"The United States fully supports the IAEA's monitoring and verification activities in Iran, and we are alarmed at Iran's lack of adequate cooperation," Pompeo said in a statement.

"IAEA inspectors must be allowed to conduct their critical work unimpeded. We call on Iran to immediately resolve all open issues with the IAEA and to afford Agency inspectors the privileges and immunities to which they are entitled."

Iran has been progressively scaling back its commitments under a landmark 2015 deal aimed at reining in Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The US left the agreement last year and re-imposed sanctions, leaving remaining world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- trying to save the agreement and mitigate the sanctions.



Over 77,000 inmates lodged in 114 jails with capacity of 57,742, SC told

Nasir Iqbal

November 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In a report, the Federal Ombudsman has conceded before the Supreme Court that a total of 77,275 inmates are currently housed in 114 prisons in the four provinces against a sanctioned capacity of only 57,742.

Of the 77,275 inmates, 47,077 have been lodged in 42 jails in Punjab, where the sanctioned strength is 32,477. In Sindh’s 24 prisons 17,239 inmates have been incarcerated; the total sanctioned strength of Sindh’s prisons is 13,038.

A total of 10,871 prisoners have been placed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 37 prisons which should have only 9,642, and 2,088 inmates in the 11 jails of Balochistan that can house 2,585.

The report submitted to the apex court on behalf of the office of Federal Ombudsman (Wafaqi Mohtasib) through counsel Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar said the prisons had 1,248 juvenile inmates as well as 25,456 convicted and 48,008 under-trial prisoners.

The Supreme Court is seized with a suo motu case about the poor conditions in which the prisoners live. The hearing was initiated to consider the plight and miseries of female prisoners lodged in the country’s prisons and subsequently the ombudsman was tasked to formulate recommendations to redress the grievances of prisoners.

In the report, the ombudsman’s office stated that 1,204 women prisoners were living in the prisons across the country whereas a total of 73,600 male prisoners were spending their jail terms in them.

The report said that 720 kanals of land had been acquired in the federal capital’s H-16 sector where the Islamabad Model Prison was proposed to be built. The feasibility report about the prison’s construction work had already been approved and the project would cost Rs3.9 billion.

So far an amount of Rs1.1bn had been released and utilised, the report said, adding that work on the prison’s administration block, boundary wall and male barracks was underway. The project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2020.

The report said the ombudsman’s secretariat had highlighted the measures needed and the areas where improvements could be brought about. It recommended that the interior ministry as well as the provincial home departments should appoint senior officers to act as focal persons who would undertake surprise visits to the jails.

The ombudsman’s secretariat recommended that the provincial governments should build jails in every district headquarters and that every jail should have separate and independent portion for women and juvenile prisoners, having sleeping space for every prisoner and adequate toilets.

The report also suggested that a biometric system should be set up in jails for maintaining the records of prisoners and attendance rosters and other jail records should be automated.

The prisoners suffering from mental problems and the drug users among them should be kept outside the jail premises in drug clinics and homes for the retarded prisoners and provided adequate treatment. The prisoners with HIV or hepatitis should be segregated and kept apart from other prisoners, the report said.

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, the university falling in the territorial area of a jail, the Allama Iqbal Open University and other institutions of good reputation should assist that prison in improving educational and skill training facilities there, the report said.

The federal and provincial ministries concerned should allocate necessary funds and resources for the improvement of jails. The setting up of the prisoners’ voluntary donation fund at the provincial level should be ensured.

The report also urged the Pakistan Bar Council and the provincial bar councils to provide free legal aid to the prisoners, especially to the under-trial inmates.



US-born ISIS bride appeals again to come home from Syria

10 November 2019

A US-born woman who says she regrets having joined the ISIS group has appealed again to come home from the refugee camp where she lives with her small son in Syria.

The government is refusing to let Hoda Muthana return to the US, arguing that she is not an American citizen.

In an interview with NBC News published on Saturday, Muthana said she “regrets every single thing” done by ISIS, which she joined in 2014 after embracing extremist ideology while living with her family in Alabama.

“Anyone that believes in God believes that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how harmful their sins were,” Muthana said.

The interview was conducted in northeast Syria at the Al-Roj refugee camp, controlled by Kurdish forces, where Muthana lives with her two-year-old son Adam.

Muthana said she fears for her life because she could be targeted by people at the camp who have not renounced ISIS.

“I did not support the beheadings from (ISIS) from day 1, until now I do not support any of their crimes and suicide attacks,” Muthana said.

The US government has repatriated several American women linked to the group, along with their children, but not Muthana.

Washington argues she is not a US citizen even though she was born in the US because she is the daughter of a diplomat serving for the Yemeni government at the time.

The children of US-based foreign diplomats do not enjoy citizenship by birthright.

Muthana has filed suit to try to return to the US. She had traveled to Syria on a US passport.

“I am a citizen and I have papers to prove it. I am as American as a blond-haired blue-eyed girl and I would like to stay in my country and do American things,” Muthana told NBC.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called her a terrorist.

Muthana married three ISIS fighters, all of whom died in combat.

She took part actively in ISIS propaganda, according to the Counter Extremism Project.

She had urged extremists in America to “go on drive-bys, and spill all of their blood.”

Muthana also hailed an attack in 2015 in France against the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 people dead.

In the interview with NBC she said “it was an ideology that really was just a phase.” She refused to discuss those earlier comments.

She said she is willing to face the US justice system if she is allowed to return.





Judge slams council after three Muslim children were ‘fed bacon sandwiches while in foster care’

November 10, 2019

MUSLIM children were fed bacon sandwiches when they were taken into foster care, a court has heard.

The three siblings — all under 16 — were removed from their parents over concerns about domestic violence in the family home.

They were placed with non-Muslim foster carers who gave them bacon sandwiches and bacon and eggs for breakfast.

One of the children also ate a hot dog at a fair.

Their carers allegedly told them: “If we make bacon, you eat it.”

The father accused the council in Yorkshire of “playing God” with his children by ignoring their Islamic faith. And Judge Angela Finnerty said she “shared the abhorrence of the parents”.

The children’s care has been at the centre of a four-year battle after the father was accused of being violent and abusive towards their mother.

He told the judge: “One matter that sits terribly with me is that they have been feeding my children bacon. You yourself told them not to feed my children pork products.”

The mother added: “I have never used my culture throughout all these proceedings but there is a limit to my patience.”

She also told a social worker the council “don’t like Muslims, they don’t want Muslim kids to be raised as Muslims by Muslim parents”.

The foster parents said the children were Westernised and had turned their backs on religion.

But Judge Finnerty told a court in York it might be because of “their cultural and religious needs not having been sufficiently nurtured in foster care”.

She ruled that one child could be returned to the mother but the others must remain in foster care.

Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: “There should be a public apology not just to the family but to the community as well.”



First Presidency Welcomes Leader of Muslim World League

November 10, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY - The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met Tuesday morning with His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL) and president of the International Organization for Muslim Scholars, based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Dr. Al-Issa was joined by Abdulwahab Al-Shehri, MWL’s director of media affairs, and Raad Fanary, an interpreter.

The First Presidency gave Dr. Al-Issa a medallion and a copy of “The Niche of Lights,” an ancient text by 11th century Islamic thinker Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali. The book is part of the Islamic Translation Series published by Brigham Young University Press.

After his conversation with the First Presidency, Dr. Al-Issa visited with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and toured Welfare Square.

“What I’ve seen here is a great example of the true meaning of mercy and love to humanity,” Dr. Al-Issa said after visiting Welfare Square. “We all around the world need to follow this humanitarian [approach] exactly. Also, the whole world needs to get exposed to and learn from these efforts and projects. We can convey the message to the Islamic world and tell them there are people in some parts of the world where they [dedicate] their lives especially to serve their brothers and sisters and humanity. I do want to congratulate you. I am really surprised to see that level of work you are offering here. You are inspiring to others.”

His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, tastes chocolate milk made on Welfare Square during a visit there on November 5,

Dr. Al-Issa is known for advancing a moderate interpretation of Islam and promoting peace, tolerance and love. The MWL itself seeks to “clarify the true message of Islam.” In an op-ed published Sunday in the Deseret News, he said interreligious dialogue is crucial to combating extremism in faith and in life. “We can chart a course toward peaceful coexistence,” he wrote, also tying extremism to the tragic attacks on Muslims, Christians, and Jews that descended on Christchurch, Sri Lanka, and Pittsburgh, respectively, over the past year.

Dr. Al-Issa’s op-ed admiringly notes Joseph Smith's tolerance of other faiths, quoting Joseph Smith’s comment the year before his death that he was “ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination.” He also noted Joseph Smith’s encouragement to early Latter-day Saints to embrace others in their communities — especially when Latter-day Saints make up most of the population. In a similar vein, Dr. Al-Issa wrote, “Islam compels Muslims to love our fellow brothers and sisters of all faiths, races, ethnicities and creeds.”

His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, tours Welfare Square in Salt Lake City on November 5, 2019

The Muslim leader identified several other significant areas of common ground shared by Church members and followers of Islam. “[We] each place great importance on daily prayer, on the spiritual power of fasting, and on the belief that faith alone does not secure salvation,” he wrote. “We must translate our beliefs into good deeds for the betterment of our world as well.

“For each of us, family is the foundation of religious and cultural life. No priority supersedes the education of our future generations. And charity, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is equally emphasized by both our faiths. Just as the MWL provides millions of dollars in lifesaving relief to Christians in need from Ghana to Burundi, we deeply respect the Church of Jesus Christ’s generous support for predominantly Muslim communities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (second from right) and Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy (far right) greet His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa, secretary-general of the This week’s meetings with Dr. Al-Issa are an important development in the Church’s ongoing relationship with followers of Islam. In May of this year, President Russell M. Nelson met with Muslim leaders in New Zealand and presented $100,000 of financial aid from the Church to help rebuild the mosques attacked in Christchurch.

“We’re brothers,” President Nelson said during the visit. Reading from a letter presented to the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, President Nelson said, “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the world over were heartbroken when we heard of the deadly attacks on innocent worshippers in the Al Noor and Linwood mosques of Christchurch on March 15. . . . Looking ahead, should you require volunteers to assist in the repair and renovation work that will be funded by these donations, we would be honored to lend a helping hand.” President Nelson also said he would pray personally, by name, for Linwood Mosque victim Ahmed Jahangir, whose right arm was in a sling.

Last month, Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, and Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, were invited to the Al Noor Mosque.

“It really was an incredible experience . . . as we walked into the mosque and were greeted so warmly by the people that we consider our sisters, and we shed some tears together and we shared some experiences together,” Sister Craven said. “Regardless of our differences, we have so much in common.”



Bosnian Jews and Muslims tell the story of ‘Sarajevo’s Purim’

9 November 2019

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Bosnian Jews and Muslims gathered this week to mark a holiday unique to their city: the 200-year-old “Purim of Sarajevo,” a day they say has bound their two communities together in a model of coexistence.

Two centuries ago in 1819, Sarajevo Muslims rose up against an Ottoman governor who had threatened to kill off the imprisoned elite of the city’s Jewish community.

Jewish and Muslim groups in Bosnia commemorated the bicentenary of this “miraculous deliverance” and hailed their inter-religious bonds at a conference Thursday.

“Bosnian Muslims and Jews are a body, our bonds have been forged both in times of trial and in times of prosperity,” Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Husein Kavazovic said in a message read by his representative at the event.

The Jewish holiday of Purim is traditionally celebrated in early spring to mark the rescue of Jews from persecution under an ancient Persian Empire.

But in Sarajevo, the city’s now tiny Jewish community marks its own Purim every autumn to celebrate the release of the 11 Jews, including a rabbi, who had been locked up in prison.

The Ottoman governor of Bosnia at the time, Ruzdi-pacha, had demanded a huge ransom for their release.

“Muslims in Sarajevo rose up, went outside the prison and threatened to destroy everything and set it on fire if (rabbi) Rav Mose Danon and the others were not released,” Jakob Finci, president of the Jewish community in Bosnia, said at the conference.

According to lore, some 3,000 men joined the uprising.

Finci hailed the history, and the largely peaceful coexistence of the two religious groups ever since, as a “model for a normal and common life between Jews and Muslims.”

Sephardic Jews first arrived in Bosnia after they were expelled from Spain in 1492.

They numbered around 12,500 — or up to 20 percent of the city’s population — before the Second World War.

Like other Jewish communities in the Balkans, they were almost completely decimated during WWII by Nazi forces and their allies, who sent them to camps from which they never returned.

Today, a population of around 800 Jews makes up a tiny sliver of a city whose 340,000-strong population is mostly Muslim.



UK admits assisting Saudi royal family guard enforce 'public order'

Nov 9, 2019

Britain has admitted that it provides training to the Saudi Arabian National Guard, assigned to protect the Saudi royal family, in matters related to enforcing "public order", raising concerns regarding London's role in Riyadh's rights abuses.

“The British Military Mission provides a variety of training to the Saudi Arabian National Guard, including occasional internal security training which includes a public order element,” said British Defense Minster Mark Lancaster earlier this week.

"The British Military Mission provides training in appropriate and proportionate use of force, the rules of engagement, human rights compliance and de-escalation procedures,” he added.

The remarks were made in response to a question asked by British lawmaker Lloyd Russell-Moyle about security training to the National Guard.

The National Guard was established in Saudi Arabia to serve as a parallel army with its own ministry and structure independent of the country’s Defense Ministry.

The force, which is forged from elements within the country’s most powerful tribes close to the Saudi royal family, serves as a bulwark against possible military coup or internal strife threatening the family’s grip on power.

An ‘unethical relationship’

Speaking to the Middle East Eye, Andrew Smith of the UK-based Campaign against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said that the recent revelation was "shocking" but "not surprising".

"It is symptomatic of an extremely cozy and unethical relationship that has been damaging for the UK and dangerous for people in Saudi Arabia," he said.

"The Saudi regime is one of the most authoritarian in the world, and its police and military have been widely accused of torture and other abuses. The fact that UK soldiers are over there training the regime in how to maintain 'public order' is very concerning," he added.

Revelations regarding British cooperation and arms sales empowering Saudi Arabia’s security and military apparatus are not new, however.

In 2011, London acknowledged that it was regularly running courses in "weapons, field craft and general military skills training, as well as incident handling, bomb disposal, search, public order and sniper training" for the National Guard troops.

The announcement came shortly after Riyadh sent troops to crush widespread pro-democracy protests in neighboring Bahrain.

Since 2015, London has also approved about $1.7 million worth of licenses providing Saudi Arabia’s security forces with equipment such as anti-riot shields, body armor and military helmets, according to CAAT.

Separately, the UK government has reportedly provided Riyadh with up to $3.8 million worth of tear gas and $1.3 million worth of CS gas grenades for riot control since 2012.

Britain, along with the US, has also been a major arms supplier for the Saudi Kingdom in its four-year-long war on Yemen.

In June, the UK's Court of Appeal ruled that the government had failed to assess whether equipment sold to Saudi Arabia were used in violation of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

The ruling temporarily banned the issuance of any new arms sales licenses to Riyadh pending the UK's Department of International Trade (DIT) appeal to the supreme court.

The Saudi kingdom is known for its rampant human rights violations against a wide host of different groups inside the country, including pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim preachers and intellectuals in the country.

The assassination of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives loyal to the crown prince last year drew international attention to Riyadh’s rights abuses.

In a development marking one of the latest cases revealing the extent of Riyadh's despotic rule over the country, US authorities charged two individuals working for twitter for spying on dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the Saudi government earlier this week.

Despite international spotlight cast upon Riyadh’s rights abuses following the death of Khashoggi, its heavy-handed crackdown on the Shia population in the Eastern Province and continued war on Yemen have been largely ignored by the international community.

Addressing Riyadh's rampant human rights violations, Smith called on London to re-evaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia following general elections next month.

"There cannot be another term of the same failed policies of supporting despots and maximizing arms sales," he said.



Muslims' call to prayer blocked in Holland

Abdullah Asiran 



The cable of the audio system of a mosque in Amsterdam was cut by unidentified individuals Friday, obstructing the Islamic call to prayer in Amsterdam, according to a facility spokesman.

The Blue Mosque, generally attended by Moroccans, was going to call Muslims for Friday prayer by broadcasting the adhan over loudspeakers. But mosque officials realized the system was blocked.

Mosque spokesman, Nourdeen Wildeman, said the cable of the audio system was cut.

Wildeman said the adhan could not be recited Friday because of the incident but it would will be called over the mosque’s loudspeakers next Friday.




Some Syrian refugees say they would rather remain in Turkey

Murat Yildiz

Nov 9, 2019

Some of the refugees who are being sent back to Syria from Turkey say they are going because it has become impossible for them to remain in the country, contradicting official claims that they are leaving “at their own request”.

In the Istanbul district of Esenyurt last week, a group of 143 Syrians were loading their belongings on to five buses before being taken back to their country.

Among them was Ali, a 20-year-old from Damascus who said his residence permit expired five months ago and the government did not renew it.

He said he had spent four years in Turkey during which his father died of natural causes in Syria. He will be leaving behind his mother and two sisters, as well as other relatives.

“I had a job here. I was working in construction. Yes, I was underpaid, but I could take care of my family,” said Ali, who asked that his real name not be used.

“My employer would like to keep me working for him but he would get fined as I don’t have a permit anymore. Tell me what I could I do? I have to leave. What other option do I have? I would get into trouble if I stayed," he said.

“My biggest fear is that once I arrive in Syria they will take me into the army.”

About 3.6 million Syrians are estimated to have fled across the border to Turkey since civil war broke out in their country in 2011. The size of the Syrian refugee population has caused some friction in Turkish communities.

Turkey says about 350,000 Syrians have returned home since 2016, after it launched the first of three military incursions into Syria to clear border areas of ISIS militants and a Kurdish militia. The authorities insist that the returns are voluntary, and that those going home are doing so by choice. However, rights groups say many were coerced to leave and to sign documents saying that they were doing so voluntarily, charges the government denies.

Esenyurt, which has a population of more than half a million people, is home to about 60,000 registered Syrian refugees and it is thought there is an equal number who are are unregistered.

Kemal Deniz Bozkurt, the newly elected mayor of Esenyurt from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the municipality hosts nearly 200,000 refugees in total, with Afghans and other nationalities adding to the new Syrian population.

“There are many Syrian nationals and other immigrants and from time to time their existence has a negative effect on the lives of our local citizens. There are limits to being a guest. When these limits have passed people start to complain. By doing this [sending Syrians home] we are eliminating disturbances among our local population,” Mr Bozkut said.

Almost 7,000 Syrians have been sent back from Esenyurt alone since the repatriations began in March 2017 with a group of 35 people. The numbers began rising after the military operation to drive Kurdish forces out of the Syrian city of Afrin a year later. “This service will continue and requests from Syrian refugees to leave will be fulfilled,” said Mr Bozkurt, noting that the cost of the repatriations was being covered by the municipality and that financial support has been provided to those who could not support themselves.

“Our Syrian citizens want to return to their motherland. We help them," he said.

Families say they are given amounts ranging from 200 Turkish lira (Dh127) to 250 lira.

Jamal, in his early 30s, who was boarding one of the buses in Esenyurt with his family, said they did not want to leave but were left with no choice after his permit was not renewed.

“This is my daughter, she is one year old. She was born here – why do we have to leave?” he said.

"We are 50 per cent Turkish now."



Turkey says it will participate in Syria summit with Britain, France and Germany

Nov 9, 2019

A Syria summit will be held in London in early December between the leaders of Turkey, France, Germany and Britain, the Turkish presidency said on Friday.

"It was decided to organise this four-way summit on the sidelines of the Nato summit scheduled in London on December 3 and 4," Anadolu state news agency quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's advisor Ibrahim Kalin as saying.

Mr Erdogan is expected to sit down with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson at a time of high tensions in the Nato alliance over Turkey's offensive against Kurdish forces, which began last month.

The Kurds had been a key ally to Europe in the fight against ISIS.

Mr Erdogan has accused Western governments of "siding with terrorists" over their Nato ally.

Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish militants as an off-shoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, as well as the European Union and United States.

The Turkish offensive was halted by two ceasefires organised with Moscow and Washington.

But Ankara has threatened to resume hostilities if Kurdish forces do not fully withdraw from an agreed 30-kilometre-deep zone along the Turkish border.



South Asia


Airstrike kills Taliban commander who had killed 3 judges in Logar provinces

10 Nov 2019

An airstrike killed a commander of the Taliban group had recently killed three judges in central Logar province.

According to a statement released by Ministry of Defense, an airstrike in Mohammad Agha district of Logar killed 4 Taliban militants including Waisuddin, one of the key commanders of the group.

The statement further added that the security forces conducted the airstrike at around 6:00 pm local time on Saturday.

Waisuddin was one of the key commanders of Taliban who had killed three judges of the Appellate Court of Paktiya in Logar province three days ago, the defense ministry added.

The three judges were on their way from Paktiya to Kabul when the Taliban militants stopped them in Logar and murdered them.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the killing of Waisuddin and three others militants in Logar airstrike so far.



Taliban’s shadow judge, Red Unit commander and 2 Uzbek militants killed in Faryab

10 Nov 2019

The security forces killed the shadow district judge of Taliban and the Red Unit commander of the group during a clash in northern Faryab province.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, the security forces Mawlavi Mohammad Rahim, the shadow judge of Taliban for Andkhoi and Fida Mohammad alias Farzand-e Ata, the Red Unit commander of Taliban for Qarghan district.

The statement further added that the security forces clashed with the militants in Andkhoi district on Saturday.

The security forces also killed 7 other militants during the clash including two militants hailing from Uzbekistan, the statement added.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the clash so far.



Airstrikes kill 13 ISIS militants in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan

09 Nov 2019

A series of airstrikes killed 13 militants of ISIS Khurasan group in eastern Nangarhar and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan, the military officials said.

The officials further added airstrikes in Achin district of Nangarhar province killed six militants of the terror group.

Another airstrike in Deh Bala district of Nangarhar killed two militants of the group, the officials added.

The military officials also added that the security forces conducted another airstrike in Tsowkey district of Kunar province which killed 5 militants of ISIS Khurasan group.

The ISIS sympathizers have not commented regarding the airstrikes so far.



Ghostriders help Afghan forces both on battlefield and psychologically: U.S. military officials

08 Nov 2019

The AC-130J Ghostriders, the U.S. military’s newest gunships help the Afghan forces both on the battlefield and psychologically, according to U.S. military officials.

The new plane reportedly begun operations in Afghanistan in the month of June and since then has flown hundreds of sorties.

Col. Terence Taylor, commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component–Afghanistan told the Stars and Stripes “Every night, the AC-130J is flying. The people they are supporting, are requesting them every single night.”

This amounts to 218 sorties and 1,380 hours in the skies over Afghanistan, Col. Taylor added.

Chief Master Sgt. Edward Fry, enlisted leader alongside Taylor at the air component command told the Stars and Stripes “The Ghostriders have saved lives.”

The Ghostrider’s ability to unleash hell, including from its 105 mm howitzer and 30 mm autocannon, have helped Afghan forces both on the battlefield and psychologically, Fry said, adding that “Them hearing the sound of the gunship overhead, that in many ways serves to embolden them.”

This comes as the Afghan and U.S. forces have stepped up ground operations and airstrikes against the militant groups during the recent months, specifically after the U.S. President Donald Trump called off peace talks with Taliban in September.



Arab World


Amid heightened violence during protests, Iraqi PM promises new electoral reform

9 November 2019

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday that the government and judiciary will continue to investigate deaths and that all detainees will be released, promising a new electoral reform "in the coming few days."

This comes after ten people were killed in Iraq’s southern city of Basra during overnight protests where security forces used live gunfire to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who tried to force their way into the local government headquarters, medical sources told Al Arabiya on Saturday.

The sources added that about 180 people suffered injuries as protesters continue to gather around the government building.

Abdul Mahdi stated that all those who kidnap, arrest or assault outside of the legal framework will face trial.

“The protests have helped and will help pressure political groups, the government ... to reform and accept change. However continuing protests must allow for a return to normal life, which will lead to legitimate demands being met,” he said.

In a nod to protesters demands, he acknowledged that political parties had made “many mistakes” in the past 16 years.

According to Iraqi state TV, masked gunmen had attacked protesters in Basra on Thursday night, killing five people and injuring another 120.

In Baghdad, Al Arabiya sources said that clashes erupted between hundreds of demonstrators and riot police in al-Rashid Street, where security forces fired tear gas and sound bombs.

The sources added that protesters tried to reach Shuhada Bridge again, but security forces continued to block them for the third day in a row.

More than 250 people have been killed since the unrest erupted Oct. 1.

Demonstrators complain of widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, including regular power cuts despite Iraq's vast oil reserves.



UN finds: Morsi's death ‘state-sanctioned arbitrary killing’

Nov 9, 2019

A panel of UN experts have found that the detention conditions of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi may have directly led to his death in June.

Morsi was Egypt's first democratically elected president. He was ousted in a military coup by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2013. He'd been jailed for six years until his death in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges, which rights groups dismissed as trumped-up and politicized.

A statement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday said the experts concluded that conditions Morsi endured "could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing."

They said he was in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, denied medical care, lost vision in one eye and suffered recurrent diabetic comas.

“Dr. Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex,” the experts wrote.

“Dr. Morsi’s death after enduring those conditions could amount to a state-sanctioned arbitrary killing."

The experts also warned that thousands more prisoners are "at severe risk" from "gross violations" in Egyptian prisons.

Senior members of Morsi's former government welcomed the investigation and called on the UN to extend its probe to include the "suspicious circumstances" surrounding the death of Morsi's son Abdullah in September.

Before he died, the 25-year-old Abdullah Morsi had been in touch with the UN to formally complain about his father’s death. He reportedly died of a heart attack on September 4, and was buried next to his father in Cairo.

“Abdullah died shortly after he privately gave crucial evidence about his father’s death to the United Nations," Yehia Hamed, a former minister under Morsi, said in the joint statement.

"I was in close contact with Abdullah Morsi and I am convinced that it was his very brave work with the United Nations that led to his death."

The UN experts also warned that thousands more prisoners in Egypt were enduring similar conditions, and their 'health and lives' may also be at severe risk.

The 67-year-old former president fainted during a court session on June 17 and died afterwards.

Last year, a report by a panel of UK legislators and attorneys had warned that the lack of medical treatment could result in Morsi's "premature death.”



Muslim World League chief meets Trump adviser, US researchers

November 10, 2019

WASHINGTON: Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), held talks with presidential adviser Jason Greenblatt at the White House, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday. Al-Issa and Greenblatt discussed a number of issues related to extremism and terrorism as well as initiatives to promote human and national fraternity among people of different faiths, ethnicities and cultures.

As part of the MWL’s programs in the US, Al-Issa held meetings in New York and Washington with the heads and members of global research centers, including the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Atlantic Council, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

He also held open dialogues with US research institutions to address a number of ideas and initiatives, discuss topics of mutual interest, stress the importance of cooperation and partnership with MWL, and shed light on MWL’s international initiatives to promote peace.

A number of these research institutions highlighted the importance of the US Department of State’s recent report, which praised the role of the MWL Secretariat along with initiatives and programs activated globally by Al-Issa.

Research institutions also appreciated the contents of the Makkah Document, recently issued by the MWL Conference and approved by more than 1,200 muftis and scholars.

Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi granted the MWL chief the first-class Order of Science and Arts for his efforts.

Al-Issa thanked El-Sisi, saying that the order “is a source of honor and pride from both the president and Egypt.”



UAE calls on Iran to seek new deal with world powers, region

November 10, 2019

ABU DHABI: Iran should come to the negotiating table with world powers and Gulf countries to seek a new deal that would deescalate regional tensions and revive its economy, a senior UAE official said on Sunday.

Tensions in the Gulf have risen since attacks on oil tankers in a vital global shipping lane this summer, including off the UAE coast, and a major assault on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Washington has blamed Iran, which has denied being behind the attacks on global energy infrastructure.

On Thursday, Iran said it had resumed uranium enrichment at its Fordow nuclear site, stepping further away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after the United States pulled out of it.

“Further escalation at this point serves no one and we strongly believe that there is room for collective diplomacy to succeed,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a speech in Abu Dhabi.

He warned against a “false choice” between war and the “flawed” atomic deal.

The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on Iran since pulling out of the pact as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran.

Gargash said new talks with Iran should not just deal with the nuclear issue but also address concerns over its ballistic missile program and regional interventions through proxy groups.

These topics mean regional countries would need to be involved in the discussions, he said at an annual strategic debate in the UAE capital.

The UAE, which says Iran is a destabilizing force in the region, backed US President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Tehran but called for de-escalation after the attacks.

“I believe there could be a path to a deal with Iran that all parties might soon be ready to embark on. It will be long, and patience and courage will be required,” Gargash said.

It was important that the international community be on the same page, especially the United States and European Union countries, as well as regional states, he added.

Washington says it hopes the sanctions, which are aimed at halting all Iranian oil exports, will force Iran into negotiations to reach a wider deal.

But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned Iranian officials from holding such talks unless the United States returns to the nuclear deal and lifts all sanctions.



Heavy fighting between Syrian and Turkish troops

Nov 9, 2019

DAMASCUS: Intense clashes broke out Saturday between Syrian government troops and Turkish-led forces in northeast Syria, the country's state media and an opposition war monitor reported.

Several people were injured, including a cameraman for state-run Syrian TV, according to both SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory and Kurdish news agency Hawar said a Syrian major general and a colonel were also wounded.

Turkey invaded northeast Syria last month to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters near the border. The Kurdish groups called in Syrian government forces to halt Turkey's advance. Syrian government forces have since clashed with Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters, despite a shaky truce brokered by Russia.

SANA said the clashes Saturday involved heavy machine gun fire and occurred in the village of Um Shaifa near the town of Ras al-Ayn, which was captured by Turkish-led forces troops last month.

The Observatory said government forces withdrew from several areas including Um Shaifa, leaving Kurdish fighters alone to face the attacks, which also involved Turkish drones.

Syrian state TV said one of its cameramen was wounded in the fighting, while the Observatory said several were wounded including a paramedic.

Turkey's Defense Ministry said Saturday it had recorded eight violations or attacks carried out by Syrian Kurdish fighters in the last 24 hours, despite separate ceasefire agreements that Turkey has reached with Russia and the United States. The ministry said on its Twitter account that the Syrian Kurdish fighters attacked with mortars, rockets and sniper fire, without saying where the attacks had occurred.

The ministry gave no mention of fighting with Syrian government troops.

Last week, Turkish forces captured 18 Syrian government soldiers in the area and set them free hours later following mediation by Russia.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized a US decision to send US troops to protect oil fields in eastern Syria, saying no one but Syria has rights over the country's reserves.

The US has said the move is aimed at preventing the oil fields from falling into the hands of Islamic State militants. Turkey is concerned that US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters will benefit from the oil revenues. Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to Kurdish militants fighting inside.

"To come from tens of thousands of miles away and to say we will put the country's wealth, oil reserves to use is against international law. And we oppose it. "Cavusoglu said at the end of a regional economic cooperation meeting. "These (reserves) belong to the Syrian people and should be used in a way that benefits the people of Syria.''



Four Syrian soldiers killed in clashes with Turkish-led forces

9 November 2019

Intense clashes broke out on Saturday between Syrian government troops and Turkish-led forces in northeast Syria, killing at least four Syrian soldiers, the country’s state media and an opposition war monitor reported.

Turkey invaded northeast Syria last month to push out Syrian Kurdish fighters near the border. The Kurdish groups called in Syrian government forces to halt Turkey’s advance. Syrian government forces have since clashed with Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters, despite a shaky truce brokered by Russia.

A cameraman for state-run Syrian TV was among those wounded in Saturday’s clashes, according to both SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory reported the deaths of four Syrian soldiers, and said a general and a paramedic were wounded. The Kurdish news agency Hawar said five government troops were killed and 26 wounded.

SANA said the clashes involved heavy machine gun fire and occurred in the village of Um Shaifa near the town of Ras al-Ayn, which was captured by Turkish-led forces last month. It later reported that government forces took the village from Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

The Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian group active in northeast Syria, said four Syrian army soldiers were killed and seven were wounded, including a general. It said they were killed and wounded north of the town of Tal Tamr, adding that the rangers and the Kurdish Red Crescent had evacuated some of the Syrian troops.

The Observatory said the attacks involved Turkish drones.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry made no mention of fighting with Syrian government troops in a statement on Saturday. The ministry did say it recorded eight cease-fire violations or attacks carried out by Syrian Kurdish fighters in the last 24 hours, despite separate truce agreements that Turkey has reached with Russia and the United States. The ministry said on its Twitter account that the Syrian Kurdish fighters attacked with mortars, rockets and sniper fire, without saying where the attacks had occurred.

Last week, Turkish forces captured 18 Syrian government soldiers in the area and set them free hours later following mediation by Russia.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized a US decision to send American troops to protect oil fields in eastern Syria, saying only Syria has rights over the country’s reserves.

The US has said the move is aimed at preventing the oil fields from falling into the hands of ISIS militants.

Turkey is concerned that US-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters will benefit from the oil revenues. Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to Kurdish militants fighting inside.

“To come from tens of thousands of miles away and to say we will put the country’s wealth, oil reserves to use is against international law. And we oppose it.“ Cavusoglu said at the end of a regional economic cooperation meeting. “These (reserves) belong to the Syrian people and should be used in a way that benefits the people of Syria.”



Iraqi forces push protesters back to main square, kill five

9 November 2019

Iraqi security forces killed at least five people on Saturday as they pushed protesters back towards their main camp in central Baghdad using live ammunition, tear gas and sound bombs, police and medics said.

The clashes wounded scores more people and put security forces back in control of all except one major bridge linking the Iraqi capital’s eastern residential and business districts to government headquarters across the Tigris river.

Despite government pledges of reform, security forces have used lethal force since the start and killed more than 280 people across the country.

On Saturday, forces drove protesters back from some of the bridges they had tried to occupy during the week and towards Tahrir Square, the main gathering point for demonstrators.

The protesters still hold a portion of the adjacent Jumhuriya Bridge where they have erected barricades in a stand-off with police.

But demonstrators fear the next target will be Tahrir Square and Jumhuriya Bridge.

“Police have re-taken almost the entire area up ahead of us. They're advancing and my guess is tonight they'll try to take Tahrir,” said one protester, who gave his name only as Abdullah.

Reform promised, clashes flare

On Saturday, some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails towards security forces at another bridge, and young men brought unlit homemade petrol bombs up a tower block nearby, preparing for further clashes.

At a nearby makeshift clinic, volunteer medic Manar Hamad said she had helped treat dozens of wounded on Saturday alone.

“Many get hit by shrapnel from sound bombs and others choke on tear gas or are hit directly by gas canisters. People have died that way,” she said as live gunfire rang out and ambulance sirens wailed.

Police and medics said five people were shot to death and more than 140 wounded in Baghdad on Saturday. A Reuters cameraman saw one man carried away by medical volunteers after a tear gas canister struck him directly in the head.

As the violence flared, Abdul Mahdi issued a statement which appeared to take a more conciliatory tone and urged a return to normal life after weeks of unrest that have cost the country tens of millions of dollars, although crucial oil exports have not been affected.

Earlier on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said that the government and judiciary will continue to investigate deaths and that all detainees will be released, promising a new electoral reform “in the coming few days.”

“Political forces and parties are important institutions in any democratic system, and have made great sacrifices, but they’ve also made many mistakes,” he said.

He said protests were a legitimate engine of political change but urged demonstrators not to interrupt “normal life”.

Abdul Mahdi promised electoral reform and said authorities would ban possession of weapons by non-state armed groups who have been accused of killing protesters, and that there would be investigations in demonstrator deaths.

On Friday, Iraq’s powerful senior Shi’ite Muslim cleric said that it was up to the security forces to make sure protests do not descend into further violence, and urged the government to respond to demonstrators’ demands as soon as possible.

“The biggest responsibility is on the security forces,” a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a sermon after Friday prayer in the Shia Muslim holy city of Kerbala.

Al-Sistani urged politicians to seek a peaceful way out of the crisis and held security forces accountable for avoiding further violence.

In another development, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported that internet access across Iraq has been cut.

In southern Iraq, operations resumed at Umm Qasr commodities port, a port official said, after it was closed for nearly 10 days while protesters blocked its entrances.

Umm Qasr receives imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar shipments that feed a country largely dependent on imported food.

Ten people were killed in Iraq’s southern city of Basra during overnight protests where security forces used live gunfire to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who tried to force their way into the local government headquarters, medical sources told Al Arabiya on Saturday.



Two security forces killed in blast in Egypt’s Sinai, say officials

9 November 2019

Egyptian officials said a roadside bomb has killed two members of the security forces on Saturday in the restive northern Sinai province.

The explosion hit their armored vehicle in Rafah, a town on the border with the Gaza Strip. Two other security force members were wounded.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to reporters.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egypt has for years been battling an insurgency in northern Sinai that’s now led by an ISIS affiliate.

The fighting intensified in 2013 after the military overthrew the country’s elected but divisive Islamist president.

Last week, Egypt’s military said at least 83 militants have been killed in the past five weeks in northern and central Sinai.

Authorities heavily restrict access to the northern Sinai, making it difficult to verify claims related to the fighting.

ISIS has carried out a number of large-scale attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and Egypt’s Christian minority.



Iran says it is now enriching uranium to five percent

9 November 2019

Iran said Saturday it is now enriching uranium to five percent, after a series of steps back from its commitments under a troubled 2015 accord with major powers.

The deal set a 3.67 percent limit for uranium enrichment but Iran announced it would no longer respect it after Washington unilaterally abandoned the agreement last year and re-imposed crippling sanctions.

“Based on our needs and what we have been ordered, we are currently producing five percent,” said Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.



Lebanon’s grand mufti calls for protesters’ demands to be met

9 November 2019

Lebanon’s grand mufti, the top cleric for Sunni Muslims, called on Saturday for those in power to meet protesters’ demands of ending corruption and sectarianism.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian also said the time had come for the prompt formation of a national emergency government of experts, in a televised address on the occasion of Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.

The country is in political turmoil after a wave of protests that prompted the resignation of Saad Hariri as prime minister last week.





Congolese forces kill 25 militants in eastern offensive: Army

Nov 9, 2019

Congolese forces have said on Saturday they have killed 25 Takfiri militants since launching an offensive against them late last month in an eastern region also struggling with an Ebola outbreak.

Seven soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo had also died since the campaign to root out the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia began on October 30, the general in charge of the operation, Jacques Nduru, told Reuters.

He said the army had seized four of the group’s positions around the eastern city of Beni in North Kivu province. Regular militia attacks have hampered efforts to contain Ebola across the area.

The ADF, originally a Ugandan rebel group, has been operating along the Congo/Uganda border for more than two decades. It is one of a number of armed factions active in east Congo long after the official end of a 1998-2003 war.

Several of ADF’s attacks have been claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, but the extent of their relationship remains unclear.



'So many dead' in attack on mine workers in Burkina Faso: Survivors

Nov 9, 2019

Survivors of a deadly ambush on a convoy of mine workers in eastern Burkina Faso, say “so many” people are dead, while regional authorities initially put the death toll at 40.

A convoy of buses came under attack on Wednesday as they were transporting workers of a Canadian mining firm on a road leading to the Boungou mine, in the country's eastern state of Borno.

Regional officials initially put the death toll at about 40, but a man, identified as Abel Kabore, who survived the attack told Reuters that “there were so many dead. It was over 100.”

A security source who works in the sector said that the convoy was likely carrying around 250 people.

Officials identified the bodies of 29 victims on Friday, said public prosecutor Harouna Yoda, but several are still missing.

“The three buses which were shot…We were on the ground. We saw everything,” Kabore was quoted by Reuters as saying while being treated at a hospital in the capital Ouagadougou.

He said the gunmen, speaking a foreign language, started shooting at three buses after a security vehicle escorting the convoy hit a landmine.

“The first two buses were able to escape,” he said, adding that of the people on his bus, "only 3 of us survived."

Another survivor said the gunmen fired at the bus for an hour, and then came aboard to execute survivors.

"I pretended I was dead — that was all I could do," he added.

Another wounded survivor described the scene of the attack, saying, “People were trying to go back into the buses. I tried to run away into the bush, and saw that they (the attackers) went back onto the buses, opened the doors and tried to kill everyone.” Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has been plagued with violence for three year, since an insurgency began spreading into the nation from neighboring Mali in 2015.

Ever since, more than 500 people have died in attacks that have become increasingly violent, especially in the north and the east, AFP reported.

Outfits affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups have used central and northern Mali as a launch pad for growing numbers of attacks across the Sahel region, especially on neighbors Niger and Burkina Faso.



UN experts say Libya airstrike likely tied to Haftar allies

November 09, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: UN experts say it is “highly probable” that a deadly airstrike on a migrant detention center in Libya was carried out by a fighter jet operated by a government supporting Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April seeking to capture the capital, Tripoli.

The panel of experts said in a report to the UN Security Council that it “reserves identification of this member state until further physical evidence or imagery emerges to increase attribution confidence levels.”

The July 3 night attack on the detention center in Tajoura near Tripoli killed more than 50 people and injured over 130 others. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said the attack could amount to a war crime.

The panel, which monitors sanctions against Libya, said it “continues to investigate the circumstances of the airstrikes.”

The report’s summary and findings on the Tajoura attack were seen late Friday by The Associated Press.

Migrants and asylum seekers “remain vulnerable not only to the effects of the conflict, but to abuse” in government detention centers, including “degrading living conditions, repeated extortion, sexual and other exploitation, and torture,” the report said.

Libya became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe after the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, when the North African nation was thrown into chaos, armed militias proliferated and central authority collapsed.

The country was divided, with a weak UN-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Haftar, a former Libyan army general. Each side is backed by an array of militias and armed groups fighting over resources and territory.

Haftar launched the surprise military offensive on April 4 aimed at Tripoli, with support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Russia. But he has faced stiff resistance from fighters aligned with the UN-recognized government, which is aided by Turkey and Qatar.

The attack on Tajoura was one of the deadliest since the conflict began.

The panel said it has “independent evidence from a reliable confidential source that an unknown number of Mirage 2000-9” fighter jets were using the Al-Khadim air base in eastern Libya and the Jufra base in the north-central part of the country at the time of the Tajoura attack.

Haftar’s forces don’t possess such sophisticated aircraft, the panel said.

It said the Mirage 2000-9 can operate at night and deliver precision-guided munitions and missiles.

“Therefore, the panel finds it highly probable that the airstrike was conducted using PGM (precision-guided munitions) at night by a modern FGA (fighter ground attack) aircraft owned and operated by a member state, acting in support of the HAF (Haftar armed forces),” the report said.

While no country has been named, the UAE has a fleet of Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets, which are produced by France’s Dassault Aviation. In November 2017, the UAE armed forces announced plans to upgrade the fleet.

As for Haftar’s offensive, the UN experts said it has stalled reforms and sparked a new phase of instability in Libya.

The experts also said both sides in the conflict have received weapons and military equipment, technical support and “non-Libyan fighters” in violation of a UN arms embargo.

“Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons, with little effort to disguise the source,” the report said. “The panel also identified the presence of Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated” to both sides.

But, the panel added, “in reality the impact of the foreign armed groups to outcomes in the conflict was limited.”

“Neither side has the military capability to effectively decide the outcome to their advantage,” the report said. “Consequently, fatalities among armed groups and civilians remain low.”

The Security Council’s 15-member committee monitoring sanctions against Libya is expected to discuss the report at the end of the month, and diplomats said in may be publicly released in December.




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