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‘Propagate Teachings of Sufism to Defeat Communal Forces’ Designs’

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 Nov 2017

The 'Free Baluchistan' campaign has found its way to London, with more than a 100 buses flaunting posters about it



 ‘Propagate Teachings of Sufism to Defeat Communal Forces’ Designs’

 Muslim Cleric Welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Approval of Yoga as Sports Activity

 'Free Balochistan' Campaign on London Buses Has Pakistan Crying Foul

 IHC Reverses Changes to Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Oath, Religious Parties React 

 Madrasa Textbooks Purged In Bangladesh to Curb Extremism

 King, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Discuss the Role of Religions in Promoting Tolerance



 ‘Propagate Teachings of Sufism to Defeat Communal Forces’ Designs’

 Muslim Cleric Welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Approval of Yoga as Sports Activity

 Islamic State Warns Of Las Vegas-Like Attack on Kumbh Mela, Thrissur Pooram in New Audio

 Hizb terrorist killed in encounter in Kashmir’s Kulgam; soldier martyred

 J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Poonch, Indian Army ‘retaliating effectively and strongly’

 26/11 Mumbai terror attack: Producing Zabiuddin Ansari necessary, court tells govt

 Uttar Pradesh submits affidavit in Supreme Court: Committed to protect environment in Taj Trapezium Zone

 Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board releases cover page of ‘amicable’ solution



 'Free Balochistan' Campaign on London Buses Has Pakistan Crying Foul

 Boy Allegedly Planned Terrorist Attack on Day of Bieber Concert In Cardiff

 Turkish Cypriots split over Islam’s rise in northern Cyprus

 A Far-Right Politician in Italy May Have Joined the Islamic State

 Russian Security Agency Detains 69 Members of Islamic Group

 Russia Says U.S. Providing Cover for Islamic State in Syria



 IHC Reverses Changes to Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Oath, Religious Parties React 

 Pakistan Minister Demands Non-Muslim Guards for His Protection

 ‘Peace committee’ slaps Taliban-style curbs on Wana

 U.N. member states criticize Pakistan’s Human Rights record

 Pakistan Police Arrest Dozens from Islamist Party Blocking Entrance to Capital

 Fazl rejects establishment’s role in MMA’s revival


South Asia

 Madrasa Textbooks Purged In Bangladesh to Curb Extremism

 Dozens of Afghan Security Forces Killed In Taliban Raids

 Suu Kyi meets Tillerson, UN chief on Rohingya crisis

 Rohingyas send what little they can to fleeing relatives

 Afghan army and Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Farah clashes

 Deadly shrine bombing plot foiled in Kabul city


Arab World

 King, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Discuss the Role of Religions in Promoting Tolerance

 More Than 60 Killed In Air Strike on Syrian Market Town

 Arab Media: Baghdad Not Ready to Host Saudi Crown Prince

 Hundreds Of Foreign Daesh Fighters Allowed To Leave Raqqa: BBC

 80 Percent of Syria-Iraq Borderline Purged of ISIL

 Filipino inmate converts to Islam after good treatment in prison

 Jund Al-Islam: New Contender to ISIS Sinai Militants?

 Deir Ezzur: ISIL Hands over Syria's Second Largest Oilfield to SDF

 Lebanese Paper Reveals Saudi FM's Secret Letter to Crown Prince on Ties with Israel



 ‘Muslim Unity’ Congress Condemns Sectarianism

 Suicide Car Bomber Targets Security Forces in Yemen’s Aden

 Saudi jets target Yemeni capital’s airport

 Presence of Iranian military advisors in Syria legitimate: Lavrov

 Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who killed 3 Israelis



 Uganda: Terrorism against Islam and Muslims Must Stop

 EU Helping Libya Detain Refugees Inhuman: UN

 Zimbabwe military denies coup rumours following blast reports

 Rights lawyers seek ICC probe into Libyan military leader


North America

 Tillerson on Mission to Myanmar, Will Press General to Restore Peace

 Saudi Arabia and Israel Want To Drag US into War against Iran: Former CIA Officer

 Speaker visits UT, addresses Islamophobia


Southeast Asia

 Will Opposition Remove Islam as Sabah’s Official Religion? Pandikar Asks

 Suspected Indonesian Radicals Armed With Bows and Arrows Burn down Police Complex

 Charges against Zakir Naik politically motivated, says lawyer

 Duterte Berates Canada's Trudeau at End of Philippines Summit

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




‘Propagate Teachings of Sufism to Defeat Communal Forces’ Designs’

Priyangi Agarwal

Nov 14, 2017

Bareilly: On the second day of Urs-e-Razvi, clerics appealed to their followers to propogate the teachings of Sufism “to defeat communal forces who want to destroy national peace and amity”. The clerics also asked followers to maintain harmony in the society.

Addressing a gathering of thousands of visitors, Dargah Aala Hazrat spokesperson Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori read out the message of Maulana Subhan Raza Khan, alias, Subhani Miyan, the chairperson of the seminary.

Noori noted, “Communal forces are active and trying to create differences among communities. They are targeting all religions and inciting one community against the other. However, as a believer of Sufism, we should propagate its teachings to defeat their design. We should propagate the teachings of Sufism; interact with people of other communities with love and respect; and should maintain good relations with people of all communities. We should make efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity in the country.”

The clerics also used the occasion to propagate patriotism. “In 1915, the Badaun court had summoned Aala Hazrat, who stood against the British rule in India. But, he didn’t go to the court, saying he does not believe in the British rule and won’t bow down before them. Later, a warrant was also issued against Aala Hazrat, but he refused to visit the court. In March 1917, however, the court passed an order in favour of Aala Hazrat. Taking a lesson from his story, we should take a vow that we will never bow down to the enemies of our country, in any circumstances. We will never compromise with India’s enemies,” he said.

The 99th Urs-e-Razvi, the death anniversary of Mujadid Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Qadri, who propagated Barelvi school of Islam, started on Monday and would continue till Wednesday.



Muslim Cleric Welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Approval of Yoga as Sports Activity

November 15, 2017

New Delhi [India] November 15 (ANI): Maulana Sajid Rashidi on Wednesday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision of listing Yoga under sports activities, saying that health should not be related to any particular religion.

Speaking to ANI, the Muslim cleric said, “Yoga was never prohibited in Islam. Yoga is meant for a healthy body and Islam does not defy this fact. People make an issue when we talk about ‘Surya Namaskar’, a type of yoga posture, and associate yoga with Hindu religion. I think health should not be associated with a particular religion. Therefore, Saudi Arab has approved Yoga. I support this move”.

He added that first the government needs to take initiatives to encourage a healthy environment, then only people will follow.

“We welcome this move by the Saudi Ministry,” Rashidi said.

The Saudi Ministry of Trade and Industry approved Yoga under “sports activities” and allowed Saudi citizen to practice it on issuance of licence from the government.

Nouf Marwaai, a Riyadh-based Yoga expert, who dedicated herself to promote Yoga in the Gulf region, confirmed that the Saudi Ministry has listed Yoga under its sports category.

“Yoga is a legal sport activity in Saudi Arabia now. It’s in the official website of the ministry of trade and industry listed under sports activities. Licenses are available for yoga centers and studios. Saudi yoga teachers have even started preparing their own yoga studios,” she said.

In an exclusive interaction with ANI, Marwaai revealed that she had to face a lot of accusations and threats for even writing about Yoga or Yoga day.

She said, “I struggled a lot. I had to face a lot of accusations and threats. Any article that was released about yoga or yoga day, I would receive many messages and texts. I could not teach yoga officially. I also couldn’t get a license in 2012 for naturopathy center, even after spending USD 1 million, just because it wasn’t classified yet.” (ANI)



'Free Balochistan' campaign on London buses has Pakistan crying foul

Nov 14, 2017

NEW DELHI: The 'Free Balochistan' campaign has now found its way to London, with more than a 100 buses carrying advertisements that say "Free Balochistan", "Save The Baloch People" and "Stop Enforced Disappearances", reported ANI.

Pakistan is, of course, not happy.

The campaign started early this month+ with posters exposing atrocities committed by Pakistan in the Baloch region being splashed across taxis. It was launched by the World Baloch Organization (WBO) and is gaining strength despite Pakistan's desperate attempts to nip it in the bud.

Already, the Pakistan government has complained to the UK envoy in Islamabad. Following pressure from it on the UK foreign office, Transport for London ordered the removal of the advertisement from the city's famous black cabs.

Still, on November 13, which is celebrated as Baloch Martyrs Day, the WBO upped the ante and moved its campaign to London's buses.

Pakistani officials have labeled the campaign as "malicious" and "anti-Pakistan." This is not the first time a peaceful advertising campaign such as this one has irked Pakistan.

Baloch leaders and WBO members had protested the removal of their slogans from London's black cabs. They claimed it was an attack on their freedom of expression and that Pakistan was acting like a bully by stifling and censoring the voices of Baloch people.

"Pakistan's reaction is testimony to its suppressive nature, aggressively trying to curb our rights in UK, imagine the situation in Balochistan," tweeted WBO spokesperson Bhawal Mengal on November 4.



IHC reverses changes to Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath, religious parties react 


Nov 15, 2017

The Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order for the reversal of changes to Clause 241 of the Elections Act, 2017, marked a major victory for religious parties, including the Tehrik Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, Mili Muslim League (MML) and Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) on Tuesday.

IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui made the decision while hearing the petition lodged by Tehreek Khatm-e-Nabuwwat supporter Allah Wasaya challenging a controversial amendment to the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath in the constitution which had been termed a ‘clerical error’ by the federal government and subsequently rectified.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) also challenged the Election Act, 2017, which paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to become the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had also challenged the election bill.

The vast majority of religious parties, however, were majorly disinterested in Mian Nawaz’s reinstatement as party head and have been up in arms over the minor attempted amendment in the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat clause. The government’s hasty correction of the ‘clerical error’ and repeated explanations that the change was made inadvertently seem to have fallen on deaf ears, however, as the religious diaspora’s increasing uproar took the country by storm.

A group of some 2000 protesters belonging to the TYLR have disrupted daily life in Islamabad for the past one week, as the livid mob calls for the resignation of the federal law minister over, virtually holding the Capital city hostage to their demands. The rally participants also protested against the lack of punishment for those involved in making changes to the oath for electoral candidates.

The MML also jumped into the fray as their President and Hafiz Saeed’s son-in-law Saifullah Khalid spoke at length about the supposed conspiracy behind the change in the wordings of the oath. He went on to demand that Law Minister Zahid Hamid hand over his resignation and the guilty parties be punished.

The statements also mark the first time the MML, which has tried to maintain a clean record, said things overtly against a religious group when Saifullah Khalid declared that “Ahmadis are the enemies of Islam and of Pakistan, and not just religious parties, but the entire nation needs to come together to prevent attempts to declare them Muslims.”

MML representatives also said to Pakistan Today that they would continue to protect the ideological boundaries of the nation. To the question of declaring Ahmadis enemies of the state and Islam, they said the MML would not shirk away from speaking the truth.

Earlier, the deputy attorney general had warned about such a confrontational situation arising because of the IHC’s decision saying that with elections just around the corner, more changes to the act would lead to further chaos.

Subsequently, Justice Siddiqui argued that the sensitivity of the matter warranted his order to reverse the changes to the oath and summoned the report prepared by PML-N committee probing the issue.

The judge also asked the federal government to submit a reply with regards to the request for the database within two weeks.



Madrasa textbooks purged in Bangladesh to curb extremism

14 November 2017

The theory and practice of Jihad, or Islamic holy war, will no longer be taught in school or college classrooms in Bangladesh, which houses the fourth-largest Muslim population in the world and is grappling with rising religious extremism.

Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina’s Awami League government has ordered madrasas, or traditional Islamic educational institutions, to drop certain chapters from textbooks, which will be distributed in 2018 to prevent impressionable youth from falling prey to fanaticism.

In July 2016, home-grown radicals stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave and gunned down 22 Italian, Japanese, American, Bangladeshi and an Indian hostage heralding the arrival Islamic State-backed terrorism in the South Asian country hemmed in by India and Myanmar.

Congratulating the government for revising the syllabus, Professor Anisuzzaman, President of Bangla Academy and one of the country’s most respected writers with a string of awards and laurels, said “it’s inconceivable how that concept crept stealthily into the curriculum in a democratic nation whose Constitution is based on the rule of law”.

The 70-year-old intellectual who reportedly figures on fundamentalists’ hit-list said that madrasa textbooks should have been “cleansed” long ago but “it’s better late than never”.

Curbing radicalization

According to leading Bangladeshi newspapers like Dhaka Tribune and Daily Star, the administration was spurred into action by the high-powered National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention (NCMRP) tasked with curbing radicalization of young Bangladeshi men and women.

Madrasa textbooks define the concept as “fight against the enemies of Islam", which according to NCMRP fanned “slow radicalization” and “encouraged them to join violent groups in the country and abroad to fight the "enemies of Islam.”

Abdullah Yousuf, principal of Alia Madrasa in Noakhali, told Dhaka Tribune: “To be fair to Islam, what's prescribed by our religion and militant activity are entirely different and the government must send a clear message to the students to distinguish between the two”.

Amid hectic preparations to welcome Pope Francis in Dhaka from November 30 to December 2, Theophil Norkek, secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission, backed the government.

“The Hasina regime has taken a good decision and I guess it is intended to eradicate radicalism and to help students become moderate Muslims. The concept has been widely misinterpreted to brainwash Muslims into regarding people of other faiths as enemies of Islam”.

Since the gruesome Bakery massacre, Bangladeshi security forces have killed roughly 100 militants, often in cold blood, and jailed hundreds to curb terrorism in the essentially secular and liberal country.

A big source of worry is the induction of educated youth from affluent backgrounds into extremist outfits like the Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

Dhaka clearly hopes that purging textbooks will curb the growth of fanaticism sullying the image of a centuries-old religion as glorious and peace-loving as Islam.



King, Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch discuss the role of religions in promoting tolerance

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman received at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai. During the meeting, they reviewed fraternal relations between the Kingdom and Lebanon and confirmed the importance of the role of different religions and cultures in promoting tolerance and renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism. — SPA





Islamic State Warns Of Las Vegas-Like Attack on Kumbh Mela, Thrissur Pooram in New Audio

Nov 15, 2017

New Delhi: World's most dreaded terror outfit the Islamic State (IS) has warned to carry out lone-wolf terror attack across India in the days to come.

According to media reports, the 10-minute long audio clip released in Malayalam calls for Las Vegas-type terror attacks on crowds thronging popular festivals like Kumbh Mela and Thirssur Pooram in India.      

The male voice in the audio clip also quoted verses from the Quran as it warned of a terror attack in India. It is believed to be the 50th such clip from Daulat ul Islam - a regional IS outfit.

The male voice in the clip also made clear references to the Las Vegas shooting where several innocent people were killed at a music concert.

“You use your intellect. Poison them in food. Use trucks. Drive over them at Thirssur Pooram or at Maha Kumbh Mela. IS Mujahideen are doing it in several parts of the world. In Las Vegas, one of our supporters killed many people at a music concert. At least you should try to derail a train. Or use a knife,” the male voice in the clip said.

In Las Vegas, a “lone wolf” gunman carried out America’s deadliest mass shooting in a meticulously planned attack at a festival crowd of 22,000 recently.

Kerala Police sources, however, said the audio clip has been transmitted over Telegram Messenger from a location in Afghanistan.

The male voice in the audio clip is believed to be of Rashid Abdullah - the alleged leader of the Islamic State module in Kasaragod who had left the country to join the outfit in Afghanistan.

Rashid Abdullah has been chargesheeted by the NIA under IPC sections 120B r/w 125 and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) Sections 38,39 and 40.

An Interpol Red Notice has also been issued against him.

The case against him came to light after his father filed a police complaint last year, saying Rashid Abdullah, his wife and son were missing from Mumbai.

The clip has surfaced at a time when Kerala Police have received inputs about at least 100 people from the state suspected to have joined the Islamic State.

The Kerala Police, which has now started its investigation into the matter, has collected over 300 voice clips and messages from WhatsApp, Telegram messaging applications and other social media platforms.

The clip in question says that Muslims should go for 'Hijrah' (migrate) from 'Dar ul Kufr' (house of non-believers) to Dar ul Islam (house of believers).

“If you are not able to do that despite your prayers and efforts, then you should financially support Daulatul Islam and Islamic State,” the male voice says.

Responding to the audio clip, former special director of Cabinet Secretariat, V Balachandran said, "This is very serious. They are going to take the battle to India from Europe and the Middle East."

Kerala DGP Loknath Behera was also quoted as saying that the matter is being thoroughly investigated.



Hizb terrorist killed in encounter in Kashmir’s Kulgam; soldier martyred

Nov 14, 2017

SRINAGAR: An Indian Army soldier and a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist were killed in an encounter in Qazigund area of south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Tuesday.

Acting on a tip-off, a joint team of the Army and Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police cordoned off Nowbug Kund in Qazigund, and launched a search operation in the area, when militants opened fire, said a police officer.

In the ensuing firefight, a soldier and one Hizb militant — identified as Muzamil Ahmad of Kulgam's Badroo Yaripora — were killed. One soldier and an SOG cop were also injured in the encounter, the officer added.

A B.Tech passout, Ahmad was active in the region for the last three-and-a-half years, said sources. Intermittent firing continued till the filing of this report.

In a second encounter on Tuesday, security forces launched a search operation in the forests of Laam-Tral area in south Kashmir's Pulwama district, after detecting suspicious militant movement in the region. As the troops laid cordon, they came under heavy fire from the militants, triggering off an encounter. No casualties or injuries have been reported so far.

Full report at:



J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Poonch, Indian Army ‘retaliating effectively and strongly’

November 15, 2017

In yet another incident of ceasefire violation, Pakistani troops on Wednesday resorted to unprovoked mortar shelling along the Line of Control in Shahpur sector of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to local police, the shelling from across the border started around 7.40 am and it was continuing. They were firing mortars, automatics and small arms, police said, adding no casualties were reported. The Indian troops were retaliating effectively and strongly.

Significantly, the latest ceasefire violation has come in Poonch district over a week after resumption of cross LoC travel and trade through Chakkan Da Bagh on Poonch-Rawalakote road. Following mortar shelling by Pakistani troops at Chakkan Da Bagh on July 8-9, both travel and trade were remained suspended there for nearly four months.

There have been nearly 300 incidents of ceasefire violations along the border between India and Pakistan during this year so far, resulting in the death of nearly a dozen people, including soldiers and injuries to many others. On October 31, a 12-year-old girl Gulnaz Akhtar was injured in Pakistani firing at Karmara village.

Full report at:



26/11 Mumbai terror attack: Producing Zabiuddin Ansari necessary, court tells govt

by Sadaf Modak

November 15, 2017

The Special court conducting the trial in the November 26, 2008, terror attack case has said producing accused Zabiuddin Ansari before court is “necessary”. Ansari, who was arrested in 2012, is lodged in solitary confinement at Arthur Road jail and is produced for the trial through  video-conference.

On Tuesday, Special Judge Govind A Sanap said the identity of the accused was one of the important issues in the trial. “I personally feel that whenever a witness comes to court to give evidence on identity of the accused, the personal production of the accused is necessary,” the judge said. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court that the government had taken a decision not to produce Ansari in court as he had a threat to his life.

“The possibility of serious repercussions and consequences on account of failure of production of the accused in court to prove his identity could be very serious and may arise in the future. In my view, the prosecution and the government cannot afford to be very light on the issue. They have to reconsider their decision to the above extent,” the court said.

Alleged to have coordinated the 26/11 terror attack instructing the 10 attackers in Mumbai from a control room in Karachi, Ansari was arrested in 2012 from Delhi. Due to security concerns cited by the Maharashtra government, Ansari is not physically produced before court. Nikam submitted that Ansari had filed a plea before the Bombay High Court, seeking to be produced before the court, which was rejected. The court, however, said that was at a stage when the trial had not begun against Ansari.

On Tuesday, the court resumed the trial against Ansari with the deposition of a translator who had helped the Mumbai Police translate documents, including a passport and an identity card belonging to Ansari. Advocate Wahab Khan, who represents Ansari, sought further time to cross-examine the witness, stating that he required to take instructions from him by meeting him in jail.

The court said since the translation was provided to the defence on Tuesday, time sought by him could not be rejected, and made further observations on the need to produce him before the court.

Full report at:



Uttar Pradesh submits affidavit in Supreme court: Committed to protect environment in Taj Trapezium Zone

November 15, 2017

THE UTTAR Pradesh government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it is “fully committed” to protecting the environment and ensure sustainable development in and around Taj Mahal and the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).

It also said it is actively considering a separate micro-level plan specifically for protection and preservation of the mausoleum. The provisions for protection and preservation of Taj Mahal have been included in the 2021 master-plan of Agra.

“…The state is fully committed to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development, specifically in and around the Taj Trapezium Zone,” the government said in the affidavit filed in response to an order by a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta. On October 27, the bench had directed the state to submit a comprehensive policy, if any, for preservation of the 17th-century monument and TTZ.

TTZ is spread across 10,400 sq km in Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah districts, and Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district.

The affidavit stated that UP “further undertakes to follow environmental law and all orders of this court diligently and faithfully to ensure balance of ecosystem of the Taj Trapezium Zone”.

The affidavit, filed by the Deputy Director of UP Tourism Department, said the state has approached the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to draw up a policy document to ensure a comprehensive and sustained environmental strategy for future activity in TTZ. NEERI, it said, has given a preliminary report saying the development of dust-free parking facilities for the Taj should be the immediate priority.

Full report at:



Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board releases cover page of ‘amicable’ solution

November 14, 2017

The Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) released on Tuesday the front page cover of what it claimed was a draft proposal that would amicably settle the Ayodhya dispute. “We have issued the front page of the draft proposal to amicably settle the long pending Ayodhya dispute,” UPSCWB Chairman Wasim Rizvi said at Lucknow. The front page had the title “Ek rasta Ekta ki oor” (A way towards unity) written on it with pictures of the proposed Ram temple as well as the Babri mosque, with a Hindu man with ’tilak’ on his forehead hugging a Muslim.

Rizvi, however, did not elaborate on the contents of the draft saying they would be finalised soon.

The UPSCWB had on Monday hammered out an agreement with the Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad on the Ram temple-Babri Masjid issue which will be submitted to the Supreme Court soon, the leaders of both the organisations had said.

The Supreme Court had on August 11 said it would commence the final hearing in the dispute from December 5.

“It has been amicably decided that no new mosque will be built in Ayodhya or Faizabad. The Shia Waqf board will identify a piece of land in a Muslim-dominated area and inform the government,” Rizvi had said.

The Parishad had objected to the construction of a mosque in Ayodhya or Faizabad. This issue was resolved by UP Shia Waqf Board chief Rizvi during discussions, Parishad chief Narendra Giri had told mediapersons yesterday after a meeting.

Ram Janmabhumi Trust president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was also present in the meeting.

Full report at:





Boy allegedly planned terrorist attack on day of Bieber concert in Cardiff

14 November 2017

A 17-year-old boy planned an Islamic State-inspired terrorist attack on the day of a Justin Bieber concert and searched the internet for details of the event’s security, a court has heard.

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, was detained at his home in south Wales by police who found a claw hammer, a kitchen knife and a “martyrdom letter” in his school rucksack.

Prosecutors allege that in the run-up to the pop concert on 30 June, he conducted online research, obtained weapons and prepared a suicide note.

Opening the case against him, the prosecutor, Matthew Brook, said a copy of a poster relating to the concert was found on the defendant’s computer.

Taking the jury through web searches conducted by the boy on 28 June, Brook told Birmingham crown court: “At 10.10pm, there is this defendant searching ‘Justin Bieber Cardiff 2017’.

“Justin Bieber was having a large concert in Cardiff on June 30, two days after this search.”

On 29 June, the court heard, a media file was created on the teenager’s computer showing a poster for the concert at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Jurors were told the boy also searched for “Justin Bieber Cardiff security” on the same day. Brook said: “This defendant is interested in what the security will be for a large public event.”

The defendant denies preparing to commit acts of terrorism and four other terrorism charges.

Jurors were told he had also penned a note with bullet points including “run down the non-believers with a car” and “strike the infidels who oppose Allah in the neck”.

A note found in his bedroom read: “I am a soldier of the Islamic State. I have attacked Cardiff today because your government keep on bombing targets in Syria and Iraq. There will be more attacks in the future.”

The boy, who is from a white British background, was detained by police on 30 June.

Brook told the jury: “In this case, the evidence will prove that he became radicalised over the internet. He had terrorist material stored on his computer, he published posts on Instagram which encouraged terrorism, and he was planning a ‘lone wolf’ style attack in the name of Islam.

“In June of this year, the defendant had been posting material on Instagram. He posted images of terrorists, pictures of the Isis flag and images encouraging a terrorist attack on Cardiff.”

After police went to the boy’s home, the court heard, he told them the password for his Instagram account was “TruckAttack” and they seized his mobile phone.

A laptop was found at the property, on which were two copies of a propaganda magazine containing instructions for carrying out knife and vehicle attacks.

After the teenager was detained, police were concerned about whether an attack in Cardiff was planned, and a “safety interview” was carried out at a police station.

“He told the police that he had been talking to someone on Instagram for about a week,” Brook told the jury. “That person had told him he would go to hell because he did not believe in Islam. That person had told him he needed to do an act of terrorism if he wanted to go to paradise.

“The defendant accepted in this interview that he had posted material on Instagram about an attack on Cardiff, but claimed he did not mean any harm.

“He stated that he had put the hammer and knife in his bag, but he claimed to the police that he had not intended to use them to attack anybody.”

The trial continues.



Turkish Cypriots split over Islam’s rise in northern Cyprus

November 14, 2017

NICOSIA, Cyprus — At over 60 meters (200 feet) high, the four black-coned minarets of the nearly completed Hala Sultan mosque tower over the plain of Mesaoria in the northern, Turkish Cypriot part of ethnically divided Cyprus.

The imposing, Turkish-funded structure that’s believed to be the largest mosque on the east Mediterranean island will hold as many as 3,000 worshippers beneath its massive domes. It’s named after Umm Haram, who legend says was a relative of the Prophet Muhammad and who died in Cyprus after falling off her mule during a 7th-century Muslim military campaign.

But the construction of the huge mosque has become emblematic of fears held by some Turkish Cypriots that a resurgence of the Islamic faith is a direct assault on their long-held secular way of life, and a means by which Turkey can further expand and entrench its control over all facets of their 270,000-strong community.

Religious leaders and education authorities in the north counter such talk as baseless fear-mongering among a radically secular few. They insist what’s happening is the restoration of Islam at the core of Turkish Cypriots’ collective identity, as it was for centuries.

Leftist Turkish Cypriots have long bemoaned Turkey’s high-handed ways with Turkish Cypriots, especially after the island was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece. But the issue has again come to the fore after a promising round of talks with the majority Greek Cypriots to reach a reunification deal failed in the summer.

Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence. It keeps more than 35,000 troops in the north.

Apart from projecting the image as the protector of Turkish-speaking peoples, Turkey feels that it’s earned the right to play an outsized role in Turkish Cypriot affairs because it bankrolls the north to the tune of over €250 million euros ($290 million) annually.

“Turkey follows the policy of ‘I finance, you obey,’” says Cemal Ozyigit, the leader of the small, left-wing Communal Democracy Party.

Ozyigit and Sener Elcil, the head of the 1,600-strong primary school teachers’ union KTOS, have been among the most vocal critics of Turkey’s pervasive and expanding influence in the north.

Both men say that in the past, hard nationalism and militarism were the traditional mechanisms of control. Now, they’ve been augmented with religion.

“With the religious, Islamic government in Turkey, the Islamic identity of Turkish Cypriots has been questioned for the last decade or more,” says Ozyigit. “’Are they Muslim enough? They don’t practice, they don’t fast.’ And now they’re trying to push this change on us.”

Elcil says that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using Islam to consolidate his political control over the north, as he has done in his own country over 14 years of rule. He says as many as 400 Imams have been dispatched “acting like missionaries” to service mosques and give lessons on the teachings of the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

“We’re in danger now as a community because we’re under bombardment of (the) Sunni faith,” Elcil says, adding that Imams are directing their messages to young people and especially children of mainland Turks who settled in the north.

“Later on, they’re going to use these people as political supporters of their actions,” says Elcil. “If we’re going like that, in 10 years ... religion will be a conflict point in Cyprus also.”

Ozyigit says the children of mainland Turks are being targeted for religious education “to speed up the change” toward a stricter adherence to Islamic precepts and code of conduct, unlike many Turkish Cypriots whom he described as “softer Muslims” who consume alcohol — a practice Islam forbids.

“We have managed to resist this change toward an Islamic character but the question is how much longer can Turkish Cypriot society resist these changes being forced upon it?”

Elcil and Ozyigit say the Turkish Cypriot education system has long safeguarded the community’s secular identity. But recent moves by Turkish Cypriot authorities have given more weight to religious instruction inside and outside of schools, including the founding of the north’s first theology school four years ago.

Turkish Cypriot Education Minister Ozdemir Berova says his ministry is acting to meet a demand from parents for religious education for their children. He downplays criticism as an exaggeration grounded in a leftist ideology that teachers trade union leaders can’t see beyond.

“As a government, we believe that if a family wants their children to have a religious education, the best way is the education that we give them which is under supervision,” Berova says. “We can inspect and we can control religious studies they’re receiving now.”

It’s that desire for religious education among many Turkish Cypriots that the leader of the north’s religious affairs, Grand Mufti Talip Atalay, says signals the community’s realignment with its true Islamic character that was sidetracked by Turkey’s internal politics some 60 years ago.

Atalay says the historical record offers proof of Turkish Cypriots’ strong embrace of the Islamic faith. He says in 1949, there were 300 mosques operating all over Cyprus — 100 more than now, to service five times as many faithful.

“What is happing here in our country is not Islamization at all,” says Atalay. “It is normalization. For many decades, these rights have been neglected or prevented from the people who are demanding it, and nowadays we’re trying to bring it back to normal.”

Atalay denies that the views of expressed by Elcil and Ozyigit represent those of the majority of Turkish Cypriots. He says “anti-religious” ideologies that emerged from Turkey’s politics of the 1960s have engendered an unwarranted fear of Islam.

He says these leaders have repeatedly spurned his calls to jointly develop a religious education curriculum that is in line with the Turkish Cypriot way of life.

“Unfortunately, they have such a fear of religion that they’re not prepared to listen or to do anything progressive. They’re completely against it.”

Atalay insists Turkish Cypriots have their own government and institutions that cannot be controlled by Turkey.

He also bristles at the suggestion that bolstering the Islamic faith in the north will foment more discord and conflict with Orthodox Christian Greek Cypriots, insisting the historical record doesn’t bear this out.

The Mufti says he’s deeply invested in peace efforts on the island and has joined the island’s Christian leaders in a common front for peace.

“I have taken so many risks to build bridges and to be a good example for peace building, how come my religion is against peace?” he says.

Full report at:



A far-right politician in Italy may have joined the Islamic State

By Anna Momigliano

November 14, 2017

MILAN — A few days before Christmas last year, Fabrizio Pozzobon, a plumber from the Venice area, left Italy. Telling his family and friends that he was going on a short vacation, he boarded a plane to Istanbul and vanished.

Italian authorities now fear that Pozzobon, 51, could be in Syria fighting with the Islamic State or another jihadist group. It might be yet another story of a disaffected European man being recruited to fight for Islamist extremists were it not for one fact: Pozzobon used to be an activist and elected official for a xenophobic far-right party that often attacks Muslims.

In 2010, Pozzobon ran for the City Council in his hometown, Castelfranco Veneto, as a candidate of the Northern League, a far-right party that campaigns against the presence of Muslim immigrants in Italy and opposes the construction of mosques on Italian soil. In Lombardy, a northern Italian province where the League is in power, the local government has passed a law banning face-covering veils in public spaces. Pozzobon eventually made it onto the council in 2014 and served a one-year term.

Pozzobon's story remained a secret until last week, when a small local newspaper, Treviso Today, broke the news that he was missing. The paper also reported that the case was being handled by the Special Operations Group, or ROS, of the Carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary national police force.

ROS is tasked with counterterrorism and is rarely involved in routine police work, and its involvement raised suspicions that Pozzobon might have joined a jihadist group. A few days after Treviso Today's story, another newspaper, Corriere del Veneto, reported that ROS was investigating that possibility. An ROS representative confirmed to The Washington Post on Monday that the organization is investigating Pozzobon's disappearance but could neither confirm nor deny that they are looking into potential links with any terror group.

The strongest evidence that Pozzobon could be involved with jihadists is a selfie that, according to Corriere del Veneto, he sent to an acquaintance in Castelfranco Veneto shortly before he cut off all contact. The photo shows him in a unnamed ruined city that could be in the Middle East.

Other hints are found a Facebook account under Pozzobon's name, which "liked" Facebook pages for Raqqa, the city that was until recently the de facto Islamic State capital, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the jihadist militia once known as the Nusra Front, and numerous other Syria-related pages.

Full report at:



Russian security agency detains 69 members of Islamic group

November 14, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top domestic security agency says it has detained 69 suspected members of an outlawed Islamic group during a raid near Moscow.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said the suspects belonged to Tablighi Jamaat, a global Sunni Islamic missionary movement that has been banned in Russia as an extremist group.

The FSB said it detained the suspected group members during Tuesday's raid and confiscated the group's literature. It said natives of formerly Soviet Central Asian nations led the Moscow cell of the group.

The raid follows a series of arrests of suspects accused of involvement in radical and extremist Islamic groups in Russia.

Poland insists far-right marchers calling for 'Islamic holocaust' just sideshow to 'great celebration of Poles'

A 60,000-strong nationalist march in Warsaw which saw demonstrators tout white supremacist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic messages was largely an expression of patriotic feeling, Poland's Foreign Ministry has said.

Marchers hung a banner which said, "pray for Islamic holocaust" and carried signs with slogans like "white Europe of brotherly nations". Others chanted "pure Poland, white Poland" and "refugees get out!"

Although the country's government condemned racist and xenophobic ideas, it called the event "a great celebration of Poles, differing in their views, but united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland".

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, said there were "unfortunate incidents" during the march, but he called them a "marginal problem."

Mr Kaczynski added that he believed there could have been a "provocation".

Without specifying who might have tried to bait the marchers, he said: "Those who want to harm Poland know how to do it."

Poland has previously accused Russia of trying to create instability in the country.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the march was "a dangerous march of extreme and racist elements".

"We hope that Polish authorities will act against the organisers," Mr Nahshon said in a statement. "History teaches us that expressions of racist hate must be dealt with swiftly and decisively."

Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of Warsaw office of the American Jewish Committee, a global advocacy group, said the march "was seriously marred by hateful, far-right throngs that threaten the core values of Poland and its standing abroad".

A small group of rights activists subsequently protested what they said was the authorities' failure to respond properly to the behaviour of the nationalists.

They protested in front of Warsaw city hall and a police station, chanting: "Warsaw free from fascism". One man held a banner saying, "Poland, wake up. Fascism is coming."

However, the Polish President issued the conservative government's strongest condemnation yet of the far-right views expressed at the march earlier this week.

He said "there is no place in Poland" for xenophobia, pathological nationalism and anti-Semitism and that the country must remain a land of open to all who want to come together and work for the good of the nation.

Full report at:



Russia Says U.S. Providing Cover for Islamic State in Syria

Nov. 14, 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States is providing de-facto cover for Islamic State units in Syria and only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East, the Russian Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said the U.S. air force had tried to hinder Russian strikes on Islamic State militants around the Syrian town of Albu Kamal.

"These facts are conclusive evidence that the United States, while imitating an uncompromising fight against international terrorism for the global community, in fact provides cover for Islamic State units," the defense ministry said.





Pakistan Minister Demands Non-Muslim Guards for His Protection

Nov 14, 2017

NEW DELHI: A minister in Pakistan has reportedly asked for non-Muslim security personnel after receiving threats from Islamists. According to local media reports, Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has rejigged his security cover - removing Muslims and asking for Christians, Hindu and Ahmadi guards instead.

Sanaullah made headlines last month when he said during a TV interview that there were only 'minor differences' between Muslims and Ahmadis. It sparked a massive outrage in the country - especially among staunch Islamists who called for his resignation. Islamist group Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah had organised protests against the minister for his comment.

A section, according to the minister, has also threatened to kill him.

As a result, Sanaullah has asked the police department to screen his security detail. He has also said that he will then personally check and appoint security officials. Till then, Sanaullah has employed Christian guards from a private security agency.

Sanaullah's reaction to the outrage against him is hardly far-fetched. In 2011, Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer was killed by his police guard for his views on blasphemy laws. In a country known for its largely conservative Muslim population, Sanaullah's initial comments had re-ignited the debate on social status of Ahmadi community - one that is officially declared as non-Muslim by Pakistan.



‘Peace Committee’ Slaps Taliban-Style Curbs on Wana

November 15, 2017

WANA: A faction of the Taliban has apparently made a comeback to Wana, South Waziristan Agency, under the guise of a peace committee and placed a ban on cultural and social activities and put restrictions on movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.

The so-called peace committee has issued tough guidelines through pamphlets in Wana town and warned local people to abide by these rules otherwise violators would face repercussions, according to sources.

The committee has banned music, athan, a traditional dance which is performed in wedding ceremonies or other festive occasions, and use of narcotics.

According to the committee’s guidelines, those activities which promote immorality or violate Islamic teachings would not be permitted on these occasions.

Movement of women outside their homes has been restricted. The pamphlets said that women would not be allowed to visit market and clinic or faith healers without adult male members of their family, including husbands and brothers.

Salahuddin alias Ayubi, a successor of Mullah Muhammad Nazir — an influential Taliban leader — heads the committee.

Mullah Nazir was killed along with his 10 associates in a US drone strike in the Birmil area of South Wazi­ristan Agency in January 2013.

South Waziristan Agency became a hotbed of Talibanisation in 2003 that spilled over to other tribal agencies of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Local leaders of various Taliban factions had established parallel administration in the area.

Nek Muhammad emerged as the leader of these factions. Security forces carried out multiple operations in the area to crush Taliban and establish the writ of the state. Finally Nek Muhammad signed a peace deal with the government in Shakai. He was killed in a missile attack in 2004.

According to the pamphlets, residents are not allowed to stay outside their homes at public places after 10pm. This step would prevent disturbance and noise in the area, it said.

A leaflet issued by the peace committee claimed that elders and Ulema of Karikot, Ghwa Khwa, Sha­heen Warsak, Doog, Dabb Koat, Zari Noor and Sherna had agreed to these steps.

A committee comprising elders and Ulema has been set up to ensure implementation of the ‘code of conduct’ and to identify violators of the guidelines. A local cleric, identified as Ameer Ainullah, has been appointed head of the committee.

The secretary of Fata’s law and order, Hassan Mehmood Yousafzai, when approached in Peshawar, expressed ignorance about the activities of the peace committee in Wana. “I do not have such reports. The political agent is in a better position to talk about the matter,” he said.

Political Agent Zafar Islam and other officials of the administration were not available to comment on the matter.

Fresh displacement

Meanwhile, the Fata Disaster Management Authority has confirmed fresh displacement of civilians from Shaktoi area of South Waziristan Agency.

The displacement took place when the authorities are planning to send all internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their homes in Fata. Around 17,000 displaced families mostly belonging to North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Khyber agencies are waiting for their return.

An official of the authority told Dawn in Peshawar that 208 families had been displaced from Shaktoi area that belonged to Mehsud tribe. He said that these families were evacuated when security forces launched operation in the area adjacent to North Waziristan Agency.

The official said that displaced families had been settled at Bakakhel Camp in Frontier Region Bannu where all basic facilities, including cooked food were being provided. The army has been managing the camp which was established for IDPs of North Waziristan Agency after the launching of Zarb-i-Azb military operation in June, 2014.

Full report at:



U.N. member states criticize Pakistan’s Human Rights record

November 14, 2017

On Monday over two dozen countries criticized Pakistan’s human rights record at the universal periodic review (UPR) of UN Human Rights Council. The criticism came not only from developed countries like the U.S. and U.K but also from developing countries like Ethiopia and Namibia.

Majority of the countries made recommendations on the status of women, minority rights, and religious freedom.

The United States in its recommendations urged Pakistan to abolish blasphemy laws and protect freedom of opinion and expression. The U.S. recommended that Pakistan:

Repeal Blasphemy laws and restrictions and end their use against Ahmadi Muslims and others and grant the visit request of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Pass an anti-trafficking law that prohibits and penalizes all forms of human trafficking.

Undertake, track and report the investigation and prosecution of security forces who commit human rights violations and abuses.

The U.S. also expressed concern over treatment of Ahmadis:

We note with concern the enforcement of blasphemy laws, and restrictions against Ahmadi Muslims, and the use of blasphemy and other laws to intimidate political opponents and settle personal disputes.

The United Kingdom also made similar recommendations and voiced their concerns about Pakistan’s treatment of Christians and Ahmadis:

We remain deeply concerned about Pakistan’s overall human rights record. This includes limits on freedoms of expression and religion or belief, particularly for the Christian and Ahmadiyya Muslim communities, as well as the increased misuse of terror legislation to portray religious publications of minority communities as hate material.

India urged Pakistan to double its efforts against terrorism and provide full rights to religious minorities. India recommended that Pakistan:

stop sectarian violence, systematic persecution and attacks on Muslim minorities , such as Shias, Ahmadiyyas, Ismailis, and Hazaras

The South American country of Argentina also critiqued Pakistan’s Human Rights record and urged Pakistan to:

Investigate reports of discrimination and those who commit crimes against ethnic and religious minorities such as Hazaras, Dalits, Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis be brought to justice.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif who became the center of a controversy after he was pictured with a member of the minority Ahmadi community. Asif later apologized in a TV interview and claimed he did not know of the person’s faith and claimed that since the incident, he always asks people whether they are Qadiani [Ahmadi] before taking pictures with them. The Ahmadis have been declared non-Muslim under Pakistani law and are considered apostates by the majority of mainstream Muslims.

Full report at:



Pakistan Police Arrest Dozens From Islamist Party Blocking Entrance to Capital

November 14, 2017

Islamabad/Lahore: Pakistani police have arrested dozens of members of a hard-line Islamist party that has blocked a main entrance to the capital since last week, a provincial spokesman said, in the latest confrontation between religious activists and authorities.

Hundreds of supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party have blocked a main road to Islamabad since Friday, threatening violence if their demand that the minister of law be sacked is not met.

The group blames the minister, Zahid Hamid, for changes to an electoral oath that it says amounts to blasphemy. The government puts the issue down to a clerical error.

Pakistan's blasphemy law has become a lightning rod for Islamists, especially since 2011 when the liberal governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was murdered by a bodyguard for questioning the law that mandates the death penalty for insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad.

A spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, told Reuters the protests were a "serious inconvenience for people and disturbing public life" in the province that surrounds Islamabad.

"The Punjab government has detained dozens of Tehreek-e-Labaik's activists from various districts," he said.

Labaik spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi said in a statement police arrested hundreds of its workers in a countrywide swoop, mainly in the party's base in Punjab.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal late on Monday urged the protesters to call off the sit-in, saying he hoped the government "wouldn't be forced to take extreme steps".

One security source said the protesters detained several policemen, seized their weapons and mistreated them.

"The abduction of the police is a heinous crime," Iqbal said in a statement.

Police have accused the protesters, who are occupying the main artery between the capital and the nearby city of Rawalpindi, of throwing stones at them.

Fearing violence, the government has blocked several roads with shipping containers to corral the protesters, but that has caused hours-long traffic jams.

Minister of state for interior affairs Talal Chaudhry said the government had refused to accept the demand to sack the minister, and instead had ordered police to block any more Labaik supporters or leaders from joining the protest.

In 2007, a confrontation between authorities and supporters of radical preachers at an Islamabad mosque led to the death of more than 100 people when commandos stormed the complex.

Full report at:



Fazl rejects establishment’s role in MMA’s revival

Kalbe Ali

November 15, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday rejected the perception that the establishment is playing a role in efforts for the revival of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious parties formed before the 2002 general elections.

Speaking at the ‘meet the press’ programme of the National Press Club here, he said the parties which formed the MMA were of the opinion that its revival was the need of the hour.

The JUI-F chief said he had heard news circulating in the media that a ‘third force’ was making efforts for bringing various religious parties together on a single platform, like the alleged political engineering witnessed recently in some other parts of the country. But, he added, his party was making efforts for the MMA’s revival on the basis of ideology that it would help discourage sectarianism and religious extremism in the country.

Answering a question, Maulana Fazl defended the decision to include in the MMA the people who were once members of banned organisations or those whose names were included in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997. He said those who were facing cases would have to get their names cleared from courts to become part of the MMA. But those who were not involved in any case must be given a chance to become part of mainstream politics, he added.

The JUI-F chief termed terrorism in Pakistan a part of international conspiracy to weaken the country.

He said the MMA had played an important role in discouraging sectarianism and religious extremism in the country in the past. He expressed the hope that after its revival the alliance of religious parties would again work for resolving issues between different religious groups of the country.

He said the MMA’s revival would give a positive image of Muslims and Islamist parties around the world.

Maulana Fazl said that soon after the formal revival of the MMA his JUI-F would quit the federal government and the Jamaat-i-Islami the coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said a committee had been formed to finalise recommendations for the MMA’s revival.

Answering a question, the JUI-F chief said the decision regarding the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should not be taken in haste. It was an important decision and should be given due consideration, he added.

Full report at:



South Asia


Dozens of Afghan security forces killed in Taliban raids

November 15, 2017

KABUL -  Dozens of Afghan police and soldiers have been killed in a wave of Taliban attacks on checkpoints in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, as insurgents step up assaults on the beleaguered security forces .

The raids in the southern province of Kandahar and the western province of Farah on Monday night came hours after a suicide attacker rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a US military convoy, wounding four soldiers.

The Taliban issued statements on their social media accounts claiming the attacks.  "I can confirm that last night the Taliban launched a wave of attacks on police checkpoints in Maiwand and Zhari districts and we lost 22 brave policemen," Kandahar governor spokesman Qudrat Khushbakht told AFP.

He added that 45 militants were killed during the fighting that lasted around six hours.  In one of the attacks militants used an explosives-packed police pickup to ambush a checkpoint, Kandahar police spokesman Matiullah Helal told AFP. At least 15 policemen were wounded in the coordinated assaults.

The attack on the US military convoy in Kandahar added to the casualty toll. "There were a total of four US service members injured and all are in stable condition in US medical treatment facilities," a spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said, adding there were no fatalities.

Farah governor spokesman Naser Mehri told AFP nine Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in the province bordering Iran that also claimed the lives of at least three civilians.

"There are signs the Taliban may have used night vision technology to approach and surprise our forces, though they were spotted before reaching the posts and suffered casualties," Mehri said.

The Taliban have intensified attacks on security installations across the country in recent weeks in a show of strength as the United States deploys more troops to train and assist Afghan forces.

Analysts said the Taliban 's almost daily attacks are intended to show their ability to strike even heavily defended targets with the aim of further demoralising Afghan forces already beset by huge casualties and desertions.

The Taliban often use bomb-laden armoured Humvees and police vehicles stolen from Afghan security forces to blast their way into security compounds.

The tactic was used multiple times last month with devastating effect: hundreds were killed and wounded over a bloody few days that left military bases and police headquarters destroyed or severely damaged.

Afghan security forces have faced soaring casualties in their attempts to hold back the insurgents since NATO combat forces pulled out of the country at the end of 2014.

Casualties leapt by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed , according to US watchdog SIGAR.

The insurgents have carried out more complex attacks against security forces in 2017, with SIGAR describing troop casualties in the early part of the year as "shockingly high".

In August, Trump announced that American forces would stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, increasing attacks on militants and deploying more troops.



Suu Kyi meets Tillerson, UN chief on Rohingya crisis

November 15, 2017

MANILA - Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi faced rising global pressure Tuesday to solve the crisis for her nation’s displaced Rohingya Muslim minority, meeting the UN chief and America’s top diplomat in the Philippines.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the Nobel laureate that hundreds of thousands of displaced Muslims who had fled to Bangladesh should be allowed to return to their homes in Myanmar.

“The Secretary-General highlighted that strengthened efforts to ensure humanitarian access, safe, dignified, voluntary and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities, would be essential,” a UN statement said, summarising comments to Suu Kyi .

Guterres’ comments came hours before Suu Kyi sat down with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila. Washington has been cautious in its statements on the situation in Rakhine, and has avoided outright criticism of Suu Kyi .

Supporters say she must navigate a path between outrage abroad and popular feeling in a majority Buddhist country where most people believe the Rohingya are interlopers.

At a photo opportunity at the top of her meeting with Tillerson , Suu Kyi ignored a journalist who asked if the Rohingya were citizens of Myanmar.

At a later appearance after the meeting, Tillerson - who is headed to Myanmar on Wednesday - was asked by reporters if he “had a message for Burmese leaders”. He apparently ignored the question, replying only: “Thank you”, according to a pool report of the encounter.

A senior US State Department official later said the top diplomat would press Myanmar’s powerful army chief on Wednesday to halt the violence in Rakhine and make it safe for Rohingya to return.

The official did not comment on whether Tillerson would raise the threat of military sanctions, which US lawmakers have pushed for.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau said he had spoken to Myanmar’s de facto leader.

“I had an extended conversation with... Aung San Suu Kyi , about the plight of the Muslim refugees in Rakhine state,” he told a press conference.

“This is of tremendous concern to Canada and many, many other countries around the world.

“We are always looking at... how we can help, how we can move forward in a way that reduces violence, that emphasises the rule of law and that ensures protection for all citizens,” he said.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since late August, and now live in the squalor of the world’s biggest refugee camp.

The crisis erupted after Rohingya rebels attacked police posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, triggering a military crackdown that saw hundreds of villages reduced to ashes and sparked a massive exodus.

The UN says the Myanmar military is engaged in a “coordinated and systematic” attempt to purge the region of Rohingya in what amounts to a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

The stream of desperate refugees who escape across the riverine border bring with them stories of rape, murder and the torching of villages by soldiers and Buddhist mobs.

The Burmese government insists military action in Rakhine is a proportionate response to violence by militants.

Following its first official investigation into the crisis , the army published a report this week in which it cleared itself of any abuses.

However, it heavily restricts access to the region by independent journalists and aid groups, and verification of events on the ground is virtually impossible.

Suu Kyi , a former democracy activist, has been lambasted by rights groups for failing to speak up for the Rohingya or condemn festering anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

Musician and campaigner Bob Geldof on Monday slammed Suu Kyi as a “murderer” and a “handmaiden to genocide”, becoming the latest in a growing line of global figures to disavow the one-time darling of the human rights community.

Supporters say she does not have the power to stop the powerful military, which ruled the country for decades until her party came to power following 2015 elections.

In a summit on Monday night with leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, Guterres also voiced concern about the Rohingya .

He said the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya was a “worrying escalation in a protracted tragedy,” according to the UN statement.

Full report at:



Rohingyas send what little they can to fleeing relatives

November 15, 2017

In a dimly lit shop in Kuala Lumpur, where dried fish, herbs and pickled tea leaves imported from Myanmar are on display, two men sit behind a counter inspecting bank notes.

“We send money to Balukhali and Kutupalong everyday,” one of the men, wearing a long white robe and an Islamic skullcap, said to a Rohingya man approaching the counter.

“Send today, money arrives on the same day,” he said.

The shop is among many in the Malaysian capital that Rohingya use to send money to the two vast refugee camps in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in August prompted over 600,000 members of the ethnic group to flee Myanmar.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority denied citizenship in Myanmar, have been escaping persecution in their mostly Buddhist homeland for decades but the latest exodus was the worst in years.

With Rohingya families still heading to the camps, refugees who left in earlier waves who have managed to establish some sort of modest livelihood are pooling together their limited resources to send money to the newly displaced.

Much is flowing from Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country that is home to more than 50,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers, where many of them work as daily labourers, hawkers and construction workers.

Money transfer companies have reported a spike in remittances since the crisis erupted in August.

But the community is also tapping popular mobile money services and a centuries-old transfer system with roots in the Middle East to send financial aid to the camps for families to buy food, medicine and other necessities.

‘They have nothing now’

Rohingya refugee Kamal, who has been in Malaysia since 2012, said his parents and six siblings fled to Bangladesh's Balukhali camp in October and are counting on him for financial support.

Among them is his 65-year-old diabetic father who needs a regular supply of medicine.

“They have nothing now, they have to buy every single thing,” Kamal told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a rented low-cost flat on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur that he and his wife share with another couple.

“To boil water, they have to buy firewood and a bunch of wood is 40 taka (50 cents), which is enough to get a meal,” said the 30-year-old refugee, who uses a pseudonym to protect his identity.

Kamal uses bKash, a popular Bangladeshi mobile money service, to send money to his family from wages he earns working odd jobs - sometimes 1,000 taka ($12)and sometimes up to 5,000 taka ($60) - as often as he can.

His family pick up the money in Bangladesh from certified agents using a code.

An employee at a licensed money transfer firm in Pudu, an area in central Kuala Lumpur frequented by refugees, said she had received an average of 30 money transfer requests daily to Bangladesh since the latest violence erupted.

In the past, Myanmar refugees would typically send money to their homeland, rather than Bangladesh, said the staff member, who declined to give her name.

Remitting money through an official transfer store requires the Rohingya to show their UN refugee cards.

That's not something all Rohingya in Malaysia possess – it can be a slow process for a newly arrived asylum-seeker to apply for refugee status, and applications are not always successful.

Those without official documents have turned to a network of informal transfer outlets modelled on the ancient “hawala” system which is based on trust, and typically leaves no paper trail.

The system involves agents accepting funds in one country and promising to pay a beneficiary in another country in exchange for a fee that is smaller than at a bank.

Hawala is popular among migrants in the Middle East and has been used to remit money to remote areas, where banking is out of reach or too costly.

Trust, personal ties

Mohammed Siddiq, 34, hands over cash to one of these agents every month to send money to his family in a camp for displaced people in Sittwe, the capital of Myanmar's western Rakhine state.

The agent notifies his counterparts in Sittwe, and the money is delivered to his family inside the camp.

“We trust our people, the agents have been loyal to us,” said Siddiq, who has been in Malaysia for 13 years and supports himself by delivering chickens to shops.

“I have to trust these people because my family members in the camp have no other resources. I was afraid and worried but there is no other way.”

Most of these services are run from grocery stores or restaurants popular with the Rohingya community in downtown Kuala Lumpur, often from an unmarked backroom.

Siddiq said he uses the services because sometimes, when he was short of cash to send to his family, the agents would loan him money and note down the debt which he could repay later.

A Rohingya man, who used to be an agent, said refugees rely on the system because of trust and personal ties, and their family is able to collect the money usually within a few hours.

“Most of the time when the Myanmar people here have to send money it involves an emergency, so this is quick and efficient,” said the refugee, who declined to give his name.

But he stopped acting as a middleman after a few months, partly because too many Rohingya were turning to him to borrow money.

Full report at:



Afghan army and Taliban suffer heavy casualties in Farah clashes

Nov 14 2017

The Afghan army and Taliban insurgents suffered heavy casualties during separate clashes in Farah province late on Monday night.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri confirmed the incident and said the clashes broke out in the provincial capital and Bala Bolok district.

He said at least twenty Taliban insurgents were killed during the clashes and at least 21 others were wounded.

He said the Afghan armed forces also lost eight soldiers during the clashes and at least three of them sustained injuries.

According to Gen. Waziri, an investigation has been launched in connection to the incident and further information will be released later.

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

Farah is among the relatively volatile provinces in western Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to the other insurgent groups are actively operating in a number of its districts.

Full report at:



Deadly shrine bombing plot foiled in Kabul city

Nov 14 2017

The Afghan security forces have foiled a deadly bombing plot to target the worshippers in a shrine in Kabul city, the security officials said late on Monday.

The Criminal Investigation Department officials confirmed that the security forces discovered an improvised explosive device from a shrine in the first police district of the city in Shudai Saleehin.

The officials further added that the militants had placed the explosives and were looking to detonate the bomb with a remote control among the worshippers.

According to the officials, the explosives were discovered during an operation conducted based on a tip-off in Sufi Ashqari shrine.

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

This comes as the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today released a special report documenting a sharp increase in attacks against places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers, including attacks against Shi’a Muslim places of worship and congregations.

Full report at:



Arab World


More than 60 killed in air strike on Syrian market town

15 November 2017

The death toll from air strikes on a Syrian town in a “de-escalation zone” has risen to 61, a war monitor said on Tuesday, a demonstration of the fragile state of areas set up in attempt to ease the violence.

Extremist rebels blamed Russian warplanes of carrying out Monday’s attack and said they would fight back against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and his Russian and Iranian backers in the six-year-old conflict.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three air strikes hit the market in Atareb, west of Aleppo, and killed at least 61 people.

Atareb is inside what is known as a de-escalation zone under an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran to reduce the bloodshed. But despite the diplomatic efforts, fighting continues in many areas, including Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Hama.

“(The zones) did de-escalate fighting,” UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told Reuters. But lately, “there has been increased fighting also.”

The zones were set up under the Astana process, a series of talks in the capital of Kazakhstan between Russia and Iran, and the rebels’ supporter Turkey.

They agreed in September to deploy observers on the edge of a de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib province, which is largely under the control of militant insurgents.

Following the air strikes, the Tahrir al-Sham extremist alliance denounced the ceasefire talks and pledged to keep fighting government forces and their Russian and Iranian allies.

“This aggression and crimes confirms for us that there is no solution with the colonizers without fighting and struggling,” it said.

Tahrir al-Sham includes the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, which changed its name last year when it broke formal ties to al Qaeda.



Arab Media: Baghdad Not Ready to Host Saudi Crown Prince

Nov 14, 2017

The source was quoted by Arabi 21 news website as saying that given the regional conditions, Baghdad cannot host the Saudi crown prince.

This is while during his recent trip to Riyadh, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had invited bin Salman to visit Baghdad in November.

Jassem Jafar, a senior Iraqi parliamentarian, said that the recent events in Saudi Arabia, the region and Lebanon, specially resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, have complicated the situation.

"Iraq wants to remain independent and not to support any side and the time is naturally not ripe for the Saudi crown prince's visit unless the results of the current events will be clear," he added.

Reports said in October that bin Salman will visit Baghdad soon after the recent rapprochement between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:



Hundreds of foreign Daesh fighters allowed to leave Raqqa: BBC

15 November 2017

JEDDAH: On Oct. 17, a US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters took full control of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of Daesh’s self-styled caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, following a four-month assault.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured Raqqa with the help of the US-led coalition airstrikes, and — with US Defense Secretary James Mattis describing the fight against Daesh as a war of “annihilation,” the assumption was Daesh soldiers would not be allowed to leave Raqqa alive.

“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so,” Mattis said on US television back in May.

However, a BBC report, “Raqqa’s Dirty Secret,” reveals that hundreds of battle-hardened foreign militants and their families were allowed to leave Raqqa under an evacuation deal.

“We took around 4,000 people including women and children — our vehicles and their vehicles combined,” the report quotes a lorry driver as saying. “When we entered Raqqa, we thought there were 200 people to collect. In my vehicle alone, I took 112 people.”

According to the BBC report, the convoy included 10 truckloads of weapons and ammunition.

“We didn’t want anyone to leave,” Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the Western coalition against Daesh, told the BBC. “But this goes to the heart of our strategy, ‘by, with and through’ local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians — they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations.”

Along the route, many people told the BBC’s reporters they heard coalition aircraft, sometimes drones, following the convoy.

According to the report, due to the collapse of the so-called Daesh caliphate, smugglers are having a field day.

“In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had lots of families leaving Raqqa and wanting to leave for Turkey,” a smuggler operating on the Syria-Turkey border, told the BBC. “This week alone, I personally oversaw the smuggling of 20 families. Most were foreign but there were Syrians as well.”

He said he now charges $600 (£460) per person and a minimum of $1,500 for a family.

As Turkey has increased border security, the work has become more difficult, another smuggler explained: “In some areas we’re using ladders, in others, we cross through a river, in other areas we’re using a steep mountainous trail. It’s a miserable situation.”

An alternative route for those fleeing Raqqa is to go west to Idlib, which the report describes as “a haven” for “countless” Daesh fighters and their families. Foreigners including Britons, other Europeans and Central Asians have made it out, the report claims. The costs range from $4,000 (£3,000) per fighter to $20,000 for a large family.

Full report at:



80 Percent of Syria-Iraq Borderline Purged of ISIL

Nov 14, 2017

The source said that the Iraqi forces managed to advance against ISIL along the borderline with Syria and captured the village of Aklah Sawab and al-Kamounat base.

In the meantime, the Syrian army units drove ISIL out of Wadi al-Sawab and Feiz al-Ba'aj farms along the borderline with Iraq, the source added.

The source further added that the entire borderline from Qa'em-Albu Kamal border-crossing up to al-Walid-al-Tanf border-crossing has been freed from ISIL following the recent advances of the Iraqi and Syrian government forces.

The Iraqi and Syrian pro-government forces have now purged 160 km of the 215km-long borderline between the two countries, from Qa'em-Albu Kamal to al-Walid-al-Tanf border crossing.

A paramilitary official said on Monday that the ISIL militants fled locations in its bastion in Western Anbar, as security troops declared invasion intentions.

“ISIL members evacuated all its locations in Rawa, West of Anbar, and headed toward al-Maleha and al-Sakhriyat regions, South of Salahuddin,” Qutri al-Obeidi, a senior leader with al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) told Ikhnews website.

“All the foreign ISIL members fled Rawa, while only few number of local ones remained in the town awaiting their unknown destiny,” he added.

Full report at:



Filipino inmate converts to Islam after good treatment in prison

November 14, 2017

The man to embrace Islam because the police and other Muslims treated him so well during their jail term.

A prison inmate in Abu Dhabi has converted to Islam thanks to the good treatment he received from prison staff.

The 30-year-old Filipino man, who is on trial for having an illegal affair with a Filipina woman, declared his conversion to the Islamic religion when he appeared at the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance.

The man, formerly a Christian, told the judge that he decided to embrace Islam because the police and the Muslim prison guards treated him and other prisoners so well during their jail term.

The man said he has also got a chance to read a few books on the faith, learning about its values of tolerance that also encourages respect for humanity and good morals.

"I have willingly decided to embrace Islam with full conviction because of the good manners I have seen among Muslims," he noted.

"I have spent a few weeks in jail, but the prison guards have really treated me and my colleagues well and with kindness, something that made me happy. I have also learned about the teachings of Islam," he said.

Prosecutors charged the man with having an illegal affair after investigations revealed that he had sex with his girlfriend. In court, when asked if was pleading guilty to the charge or not, the man admitted to it, stressing that he wasn't aware that it was an offence as he was new to the country then.

Full report at:



Jund al-Islam: New contender to ISIS Sinai militants?

Nov 15, 2017

The map of militant groups in Sinai and the unity of Jihadist movements might change after the little-known Al-Qaeda militant group named Jund al-Islam announced it attacked the ISIS affiliated Sinai Province. After four years of fighting with the Egyptian state, Sinai Province has made another enemy, which joins lines of different enemies to the group, such as narcotics dealers, traffickers, tribe militiamen, and police and army forces.  The re-emergence of Jund al-Islam may mean a potential comeback of a new contender to Sinai Province, and hence a strong contender to ISIS in the region.

During the voice statement that was published on Jihadist forums, the group described Sinai Province as “Kharijites”, or apostates, who kill civilians and excommunicate them. Security sources told Daily News Egypt that Jund al-Islam targeted a truck that was carrying members of Sinai Province. The source added that the group relies of the literature and teachings of Al-Qaeda group, which prefers to stay in alliance with the local community it performs in.

He added that the group’s weaponry includes some heavy and advanced arms, most of which were stolen from police and security facilities in 2011. They also, as other Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, are professionals in using car bombs.

Media reports and statements on Jihadist-affiliated media outlets, says that the group became active or started its activities before 2011. They are known for considering the Egyptian security apparatus as “traitors, as they are cooperating with the Jews.”

In September 11, 2013, the group executed an attack using suicide car bombs to kill six people and wound dozens other, when they attacked a building of the army’s intelligence department in Rafah. The attack took part after the dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi sit-in in the Rabaa square on 16 August, a day after the dispersal.

The statement justified the attack saying that ISIS are “Kharijites of Abu Bakr Aa-Baghdadi”, who is the leader of ISIS, which Sinai Province pledged allegiance to in 2014. Kharijites is a term used by Islamic scholars to describe groups who go against religious leaders or traditional religious institutions. The term originated in the 8th century in Arabia, when it was used to refer to Muslims who rejected Ali Ibn Abi Taleb to be the caliph. Militant groups often accuse each other with the term to undermine and criticise one another.

Since the rise of ISIS in 2013, it has been in competition with Al-Qaeda, but after several disputes in Sinai, the most prominent group in Sinai, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, has chosen ISIS, which marked a victory for Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, whose troops have made several victories in Syria and Iraq in 2014. The result of the Sinai division lead to the rise of the militant group Ansar Al-Islam, which early this month claimed  responsibility for the Wahat shootout on 20 October. The group is led by Hesham Al-Ashmawy, a former military officer in the Egyptian army who joined Jihadist circles.

Al-Ashmawy was part of the Islamic State group but later joined Al-Qaeda. The jihadist cell is reportedly small, but with their knowledge of the Arab world’s largest military, they are considered to pose a serious security threat. Al-Ashmawy is suspected to have been behind several high-profile attacks on the Egyptian state, including a massacre of military personnel in Sinai, known as the Al-Farafra attack in 2014.

Some speculations also argue that Al-Ashmawy masterminded the assassination of Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat in a Cairo explosion late last month, the first of its kind of a top state official since 1990. However, more than a dozen defendants were tried and were sentenced to death for this incident, with Al-Ashmawy not mentioned in the case. Al-Ashmawy has been accused of executing the Al-Farafra attack and is currently being tried in absentia.

Sinai has become the scene of frequent clashes between militants and state security forces, and intensified counter-insurgency operations were launched to curb militancy inside Sinai. These operations have imposed a state of emergency in the northern regions of the peninsula.

Full report at:



Deir Ezzur: ISIL Hands over Syria's Second Largest Oilfield to SDF

Nov 14, 2017

The websites reported that the ISIL delivered control of al-Tanak oilfield, Syria's second largest oilfield, to the SDF without any clashes in line with an agreement tat envisages surrendering their positions to the US-back forces.

The oilfield is located 35km East of Deir Ezzur city.

The Arabic-language Lebanon-based al-Akhbar paper wrote on Friday that ISIL withdrew from the town of Merkadah in Southern Hasaka and surrendered control to the SDF within the framework of an agreement that envisages delivering control of its regions to the SDF without any battle.

Merkadah is located along the al-Khabour River and was the last stronghold of ISIL in Hasaka. The town is on the administrative borderline between the provinces of Hasaka and Deir Ezzur.

After withdrawal from Merkadah, ISIL is only in control of desert-like regions in Hasaka and Deir Ezzur provinces along the border with Iraq.

The SDF did not comment on ISIL's withdrawal, but the Deir Ezzur Military Council announced that they were ready to face the Syrian Army troops and popular forces in the province.

Full report at:



Lebanese Paper Reveals Saudi FM's Secret Letter to Crown Prince on Ties with Israel

Nov 14, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Akhbar daily revealed the document for the first time on Tuesday.

The document discloses all events that have happened since US President Donald Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Washington's attempts to mediate endorsement of a peace agreement between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

It also includes information about the Saudi and Israeli officials' visits to Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

"Saudi Arabia's closeness to Israel entails a risk for the kingdom. We will not do so unless we feel an honest American trend in opposition to Iran, which is destabilizing the region," a part of the long letter said.

In addition, the principles of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan concocted by the Saudis were laid out. As part of the plan, the Saudi kingdom demanded military equilibrium with Israel, Israel's help in stopping Iranian overtures on the Middle East and turning Jerusalem into a city governed by international rule, according to al-Akhbar.

In relevant remarks in June, Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, revealed that bin Salman is attempting to pave the ground for overt relations with Israel.

"In line with preparing the public opinion to establish open ties with Israel, bin Salman has launched a media and twitter campaign and gifts any twitter activist or reporter who helps him in this regard," Mujtahid wrote on his twitter page.

Also in the same month, a leading Arab daily disclosed secret meetings between bin Salman and Israeli officials in the past two years.

Al-Qods al-Arabi newspaper reported that the Israeli media have all voiced pleasure in Mohammed bin Salman's appointment as the crown prince, adding that this development has long been wished by the Israelis.

The Arab daily quoted the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot as reporting that the intelligence sources have confirmed that bin Salman has held meetings with the Israeli officials under a secret name, Walad, in the past two years.

Full report at:





‘Muslim unity’ congress condemns sectarianism

By Ayse Humeyra Atilgan

Nov 15, 2017


Representatives of Muslim communities from across the world warned Tuesday against sectarianism, which they said harmed the Islamic unity.

Istanbul hosts a two-day international congress for the union of Muslim communities under the theme "Global Crisis, Islamic World and the West."

The congress organized by Ankara-based Economic and Social Research Center (ESAM) will discuss the problems and opportunities in Islamic world as well as the perception of Muslims in the western world.

Speaking at the congress, Recai Kutan, General President of ESAM, said: "There are torture, blood, and tears today in most of the Muslim countries."

Stating that the Western civilizations have dominated the world for the last two centuries, Kutan said the western countries first occupied and later controlled territories through imperialism.

"That is the real face of the West," he said.

"Today, they are using terrorist organizations PKK, PYD, YPG, and Daesh as subcontractors," he claimed and said their main goal was to redesign the Middle East.

He warned against international efforts "to describe Islam as a religion which threatens peace" and "to accept Muslims as potential criminals."

Kutan also pointed to the "brother fight" within Islamic countries and said it was becoming more widespread each day.

'Justice-based system'

"Those fights serve Zionism," he said and warned of sectarianism.

During the conference, he said, all those external and internal reasons behind Muslim world's problems should be handled together.

He called to "act together" and to "revive the Islamic civilization" for a needed "justice-based system."

Addressing the attendees, Saadet Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu accused the West for practicing double standards against the Islamic world.

He said three historical incidents are behind today's problems in the Muslim world.

"One of them is the first Zionist Congress in 1897 which was called by Theodor Herzl [political move for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine]."

"Another is the Balfour Declaration in 1917 [statement of British support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine]."

The third event, he said, was the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948.

"Unless we understand these turning points, it is impossible to understand what happens in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, or Yemen."

Muslim unity

He also slammed sectarianism and called for Muslim unity.

Prof. Abdul Ghaffar Aziz, Director of Foreign Affairs of Jamaat-e Islami, represented Pakistan in the congress.

Aziz said Muslims in Palestine, Myanmar and Bangladesh “stand strong” despite years of siege in their countries.

In order to be united, he said, Muslims should first "refuse injustice from any side."

Zubeir Ahmed Elhasan Mohamed, the Secretary General of the Islamic Movement of Sudan, said: "We cannot achieve anything as long as we do not bring an end to the divisions."

He argued that international powers were trying to harm Muslim unity through sects. "Let's be aware of this fact and protect our young people from this poison," he added.

Also among the speakers were Arif Ali Thottancheri, Vice President of India's Jamaat-e Islami Hind, and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Philippines.

Both leaders focused on the need to unite Muslim communities around the world.

"We know that the unity of the Muslims is the most feared by the enemies of Islam," Ebrahim said.

Recalling Daesh attacks in Philippines' Marawi city earlier this year, he said: "This group is not actually defending Islam; they have become an instrument in order to destroy Islam and Muslims."



Suicide car bomber targets security forces in Yemen’s Aden

14 November 2017

A suicide car bomb targeted a camp used by security forces in the al-Mansoura district in Yemen's port city of Aden on Tuesday.

A bombing hit a security post in Yemen’s government bastion of Aden on Tuesday, killing and wounding several people, witnesses and police sources said.

Al Arabiya. net reported that ISIS claimed the attack and that a Yemeni suicide bomber driving a car bomb carried it out.

Witnesses in the southern Aden province told AFP they heard a loud explosion followed by gunfire at the main office of UAE-trained security forces in charge of guarding state-owned facilities.

They said 10 people had been killed in the attack and more wounded. The number of casualties could not be confirmed by government sources.

It was not immediately clear how the bombing was carried out. One police source said it appeared that explosives in a vehicle had been remotely detonated during the attack. Another said there had been a suicide bomber inside the car.

The Zayed bin Sultan mosque, which is located near the security office and funded by the UAE, was also damaged in the attack.

The United Arab Emirates, which has trained government forces in southern Yemen, is a key member of a Saudi-led military coalition fighting alongside the government.

Yemen’s war pits the Saudi-backed government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his Houthi militia allies.

A major attack on Aden on November 5 killed 35 people, sparking a hostage crisis in a city that had seen a period of relative calm in the war-torn country. The Islamic State group claimed the attack.

Full report at:



Saudi jets target Yemeni capital’s airport

Nov 15, 2017

Saudi Arabian fighter jets have targeted the airport in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, worsening the already terrible humanitarian situation in the war-torn country.

According to Yemeni officials on Tuesday, the airport’s ground navigation tower and parts of its runway are damaged in the airstrike.

The UN has confirmed the attack, noting the damage resulting from the strike will not stop the arrival of aid shipments if the Saudis honor their promise of loosening the blockade.

Early this month, Saudi Arabia announced that it was shutting down Yemen’s air, sea, and land borders, after Yemeni fighters targeted an international airport near the Saudi capital with a cruise missile.

"This will have no impact on our operations once they resume," said the UN’s Jamie McGoldrick.

Earlier in the day, McGoldrick noted that there has so far been "no indication" that the Saudis would lift the blockade as they recently announced. 

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric also told reporters that without Sana’a airport and Hudaydah and Salif seaports fully functioning and able to receive cargo "the dire humanitarian situation will deteriorate further."

He added that "seven million people are already on the brink of famine, and the blockade will only bring them closer to it."

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush Ansarullah and reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

Full report at:



Presence of Iranian military advisors in Syria legitimate: Lavrov

Nov 14, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed that the presence of  Iranian military advisors in Syria is “legitimate.”

On Tuesday,  Lavrov denied any talks between Moscow and Washington over the withdrawal of Iranian advisors, stressing that no such promise had been made.

Iran, along with Russia, has a military advisory mission in Syria aimed at strengthening its army on the battlefield against terrorism. Moscow has also been providing air cover to Syria’s ground offensives. Syrian forces are also receiving assistance from fighters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin affirmed joint efforts to stabilize the war-torn Arab country as the foreign-backed militancy dies down. Parts of the efforts are said to be the expansion of the July truce in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan.

Lavrov further accused Washington of suppurating foreign terrorists and armed opposition groups, saying US even tried to spare the terrorists in the town of Bukamal, on the border between Syria and Iraq.

“The US air force tried to prevent a Russian air strike against Daesh in the Bukamal, region in Syria near the Iraqi border,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry has accused the US of only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East, saying it has “conclusive evidence” that Washington provides air cover for Daesh in Syria. 

Full report at:



Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who killed 3 Israelis

15 November 2017

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says it has demolished the West Bank home of a Palestinian who shot and killed three Israeli security men in September.

The military says Israeli forces knocked down the family home of Nimr Jamal on Wednesday.

Jamal killed the three Israelis and critically wounded a fourth outside the West Bank settlement of Har Adar before he was shot dead. He came from the nearby village of Beit Surik and had worked for years in the settlement, where he was known as a conscientious worker who earned the trust of local residents.

Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers as a deterrent measure, but Palestinians consider the policy collective punishment. Israel has also canceled the entry permits of several of Jamal’s relatives in response to the attack.





Uganda: Terrorism against Islam and Muslims Must Stop

November 15, 2017

By Ismail Lukwago Ntegana

Muslims in Uganda, like elsewhere in the world, are treated like aliens even by their own government and state institutions that are mandated to serve everyone with dignity irrespective of their faith and race.

The torture and rearrest of murder suspects is not new as far as state treatment of Muslims in Uganda is concerned. It’s not surprising that all murder suspects in the case of slain Andrew Felix Kaweesi are Muslims despite the current contradiction from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence arrests of some police officers also linked to the same murder.

These suspects were tortured and many have physically become handicapped as a result. Although court awarded compensation, the people responsible for these claims will probably never be brought to book just because the victims were Muslims.

Those who tortured the Kamwenge mayor are in court but not those who tortured Muslim suspects.

I have witnessed some of the arrests and I wonder whether those being arrested have any rights at all. Imagine the case of children and their mothers being kept in custody just because their parents were suspects yet Joseph Kony’s mother was happily being accommodated by the state that Kony was fighting.

Jamil Mukulu was arrested but any lawyer would have to think twice to represent him in court or else they would be linked to Allied Democratic Forces, more so if the lawyer is a Muslim, yet other rebel leaders are legally represented in courts of law.

Many murder suspects have gotten bail. What is so special with the Muslim murder suspects that, for them, bail is not right?

This is not the first and probably not the last time Muslims are being unfairly and unjustly treated in this country. We are told of the slaughter of Muslims in Nyamitanga, Mbarara, after the fall of Idi Amin’s regime.

The victims have never gotten justice and recently, for purely political reasons, financial compensation, and not justice, was promised.

Surely, are Muslims not citizens in their own country so as to deserve justice and accountability? Does financial compensation answer all the questions raised after the murder  of Muslims and looting of their property?

In my home area of Lwengo, many families lost loved ones in the 1990s after being linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Many of these youths that were arrested have never been seen again by their families and it’s hard to know if they are dead or alive.

Like in other cases, the government and state institutions don’t mind since the victims were Muslims. Who will account for these youths?

The wrangles and disagreements among Muslims are state-fuelled; otherwise, what can explain the failure by two commissions instituted by government.

The government only sets up these commissions to deceive the Muslim community that they care only to turn around to support one faction against the other.

I don’t think rivalry and misunderstandings are only unique to Muslims and Islam. Why is it so hard for people who have the same beliefs to live in peace yet their faith stands for peace and coexistence? The answer is simple: the state fears and is uncomfortable dealing with a united community.

The murder of Muslim clerics remains a mystery. Nobody has ever been convicted for these crimes but state institutions are using them to further divide and segment the Muslim community.

Each sect is told that the killers belong to the rival group and each Muslim is a murder suspect only because they are Muslims or if they have an overgrown beard.

No rebel group has killed, raped and brought mass suffering to Ugandans like Kony’s  Lord’s Resistance Army but I have not heard Catholics in Uganda being labeled rebels or terrorists because Kony is Catholic.

Why then call or label random Muslims as ADF rebels or terrorists? At this rate, every Muslim or Muslim activity, even a school project, is viewed as potential activity of terror.

Muslims are underrepresented in any government body; and this is not an accident but a design by the state apparatus to keep Muslims backward.



EU helping Libya detain refugees inhuman: UN

Nov 15, 2017

The United Nations (UN)’s human rights chief says the European Union (EU)’s policy of helping Libyan officials intercept Europe-bound refugees and often detain them is “inhuman.”

“The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity,” said the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein in a Tuesday statement.

“The European Union’s policy of assisting the Libyan coastguard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean [is] inhuman,” he added.

The volatile North African nation, effectively run by competing militia groups, has remained a key transit hub for asylum-seekers from war-ravaged countries trying to reach Europe. Many have fallen victim to severe abuse in Libya at the hands of human traffickers as well as others benefiting from the chaos in the country.

Hussein said, “The detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond repair,” adding, “The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention.”

Reacting to Hussein’s charges, an EU spokesperson agreed that the conditions at the refugee detention centers were “unacceptable” but said Brussels was funding UN agencies on the ground in Libya to protect people.

“We believe that the detention centers in Libya must be closed. The situation in these camps is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the EU wanted the rescued people to be brought to “reception centers that meet international humanitarian standards” while also improving the Libyan coastguard’s capacity to prevent deaths at sea.

In his statement, however, Hussein criticized European governments for ignoring warnings that the cooperation with Libya could condemn more people to detention, exposing them to torture, rape, forced labor and extortion.

“We cannot be a silent witness to modern-day slavery, rape and other sexual violence, and unlawful killings, in the name of managing migration and preventing desperate and traumatized people from reaching Europe’s shores,” he said.

In early November, Libya’s Department of Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) has said that it was holding 19,900 people in facilities under its control, up from nearly 7,000 in mid-September.

The sharp rise in detentions came after authorities took into custody thousands of people previously held by smugglers in Libya’s trafficking hub, Sabratha, west of Tripoli.

Hussein said UN staff members had visited four DCIM facilities earlier this month and were shocked by what they saw.

“[There were] thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled on top of each other, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities, and stripped of their human dignity,” he said.

People, including children, described horrific beatings by guards at detention centers, while many women said they faced rape and other sexual violence at the hands of smugglers and guards, according to the UN staff.

One woman told UN staff she was gang-raped by three men, including a DCIM guard, while another woman said four armed men had gang-raped her during her journey, when she was pregnant.

Full report at:



Zimbabwe military denies coup rumors following blast reports

Nov 14, 2017

Zimbabwean military officers have denied rumors of a coup after reports of explosions in the capital Harare.

The military made the announcement during a live broadcast early on Wednesday, stressing that President Robert Mugabe was safe.

The announcement comes shortly after three explosions were reported in Harare.

The US embassy also released a statement in which it said it will be closed on Wednesday amid what it called ongoing uncertainty. Britain has also advised its citizens residing in the country to avoid leaving their homes.

Zimbabwe was on edge Tuesday as armored personnel carriers were seen outside the capital a day after the army commander threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over the president's firing of his deputy. The Associated Press saw three armored personnel carriers with several soldiers in a convoy on a road heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare.

While it is routine for armored personnel carriers to move along that route, the timing heightened unease in this southern African country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe. The military has been a key pillar of Mugabe's power since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Mugabe last week fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power, including through witchcraft. Mnangagwa, who enjoyed the backing of the military and was once seen as a potential successor to Mugabe, fled the country and said he and his family had been threatened.

Over 100 senior officials allegedly supporting him have been listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe.

The first lady, whose political profile has risen in the past few years, now appears positioned to replace Mnangagwa at a special conference of the ruling party in December, leading many in Zimbabwe to suspect that she could succeed her husband as president.

On Monday, army commander Constantino Chiwenga issued an unprecedented statement saying purges against senior ruling ZANU-PF party officials linked to the 1970s liberation war should end "forthwith."

"We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in," the army commander said.

Mugabe did not respond to the military statement, and government spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said only the president could respond. The state-run broadcaster did not report on the statement.

The ruling party's youth league, aligned to the first lady, on Tuesday criticized the army commander's statement, saying youth were "ready to die for Mugabe."

The army spokesman was not immediately available for comment Tuesday. State broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was operating as usual and the capital remained calm.

Full report at:



Rights lawyers seek ICC probe into Libyan military leader

15 November 2017

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Human rights lawyers have presented evidence to International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors alleging that forces loyal to a key player in Libya’s ongoing power struggle are responsible for crimes including murder, torture and persecution.

Tuesday’s filing is the latest account of atrocities committed in the fighting that has plagued Libya since Muammar Qaddafi was ousted in 2011.

Toby Cadman of the Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers has presented to the court a dossier, including witness statements, seeking an investigation into the role of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his forces in the alleged abuses.

Full report at:

A spokesman for Haftar could not immediately be reached for comment.



North America


Tillerson on mission to Myanmar, will press general to restore peace

November 15, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was bound for Myanmar on Wednesday for talks with the army chief whose forces have been accused of atrocities against ethnic Muslim Rohingya during an operation that drove more than 600,000 to flee to Bangladesh.

A senior U.N. official leveled the accusations of mass rape, killings and torture against the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, after a tour of refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar region of neighboring Bangladesh.

Human rights group have branded as a “whitewash” the military’s internal investigation into those allegations, after its findings were posted this week on the Facebook page of the army chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Tillerson was due to see Min Aung Hlaing before meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of a civilian administration that is less than two years old, has to share power with the military and has no control over the generals.

Tillerson and Suu Kyi met on Tuesday during an Asian summit in the Philippines, where the Nobel peace prize winner sought to explain her government’s efforts to resolve the crisis and its plans for the eventual voluntary repatriation of Rohingya.

A senior U.S. State Department official traveling with Tillerson told journalists on Tuesday the secretary would tell the army chief that peace and stability needed to be restored to northern Rakhine so that Rohingya refugees could return home.

“We are focusing on trying to stabilize areas in northern Rakhine so that people can return there, stopping the violence, making sure that the military would protect all populations in that area equally and that they conduct a credible investigation that leads to accountability for people who have perpetrated abuses,” said the official, who was with Tillerson in Manila and declined to be identified.

U.S. senators in Washington are pressing for economic sanctions and travel restrictions targeting the Myanmar military and its business interests.

Myanmar’s security forces and armed civilians carried out an “unprecedented, widespread and systematic attack on Rohingya citizens throughout northern Rakhine State with brutal efficiency”, rights group Fortify Rights and the Simon-Skjodt Center for Prevention of Genocide said in a report.

The report, released on Wednesday, said thousands of Rohingya continued to cross into Bangladesh, “contributing to the fastest growing outflow of refugees from a country since the Rwandan genocide”.

The Myanmar military says it launched a counter-insurgency clearance operation after Rohingya militants attacked an army base and 30 police posts on Aug. 25, killing around a dozen security forces.

The report said it had found no instances in which its soldiers had shot and killed Rohingya villagers, raped women or tortured prisoners. It denied that security forces had torched Rohingya villages or used “excessive force”.

Suu Kyi’s failure to speak out strongly over the Rohingya’s plight has damaged her international reputation as a stateswoman.

Many diplomats, however, believe Myanmar’s fragile transition to democracy after 49 years of military rule would be jeopardized if she publicly criticized the armed forces.

The U.S. official said Tillerson would reiterate support for Myanmar’s transition to democracy and spoke positively of Suu Kyi’s intentions, based on her talks with world leaders in Manila.

The government in mostly Buddhist Myanmar regards the Muslim Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. But Suu Kyi has said refugees who can prove they were Myanmar residents will be allowed to return.



Saudi Arabia and Israel want to drag US into war against Iran: Former CIA officer

Nov 14, 2017

A former American counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA says Israel and Saudi Arabia are not in a position to defeat Iran and hence are trying to drag the United States into a war against the Islamic Republic.

Philip Giraldi made the remarks in an article headlined Saudi Arabia and Israel Know They Cannot Defeat Iran, Want to Drag the US into an Uncontainable War published on Monday.

“Both Saudi Arabia and Israel know they cannot defeat Iran,” Giraldi wrote, “without the active participation of the United States.”

“That would require shaping the “threat” narrative to start with a series of relatively minor military actions that appear defensive or non-controversial to draw the United States in without really appearing to do so,” he added.

“American involvement would be against Washington’s own interests in the region but it would serve Saudi and Israeli objectives, particularly if the situation is inherently unstable and is allowed to escalate,” he warned.

“Both the Saudis and, more particularly, the Israelis have powerful lobbies in Washington that will push a friendly Congress for increased US involvement and the Iranophobic mainstream media is likely to be similarly positive in helping to shape the arguments for American engagement,” the expert observed.

Giraldi predicted that “the escalation will be starting in Lebanon, where the resignation of Prime Minister al-Hariri has created a plausible instability that can be exploited by Israel supported by heavy pressure from the Saudis to harden the Lebanese government line against Hezbollah.”

During a visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, Hariri announced his resignation. The announcement is widely seen to have been made under Saudi influence. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has refused to formally consider Hariri’s resignation, saying he has to return first.

Lebanese government officials also said they believed Hariri was “being held” in Saudi Arabia against his will, and signaled that his resignation had not been voluntary.

Full report at:



Speaker visits UT, addresses Islamaphobia

November 15, 2017

Amer F. Ahmed, faculty member at the Institute for Democratic Education, spoke at the Baker Center on Tuesday as part of UT’s International Education Week.

Hosted by the Honors and Scholars Programs and I-House, Ahmed’s lecture was titled, “Addressing Islamaphobia: Dispelling Myths to Break Down Barriers.”

In the lecture, Ahmed introduced the basics of Islamic religion, such as the Five Pillars of Islam, and the religion’s emphasis on equality.

“There are lots of different understandings of Islam among its nearly 1.7 billion practitioners around the world, but what essentially every (Muslim) agrees upon is these five basic pillars,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said that equality was an important aspect of the religion as well.

“The idea of egalitarianism is incredibly important in the Islamic religion,” Ahmed said. “The principal (of equality) is important because no matter how rich or poor you are in society, we are all equal in the eyes of our creator.”

Ahmed then explained several myths surrounding the Islamic faith, such as women’s rights.

Many people believe women’s rights are nonexistent in Islam, Ahmed said. However, they have been present in the Islamic tradition for more than 1,000 years.

“There are rights in the Islamic tradition that were guaranteed to women over 1,400 hundred years ago that only came into western civilization about a hundred years ago,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said that countries such as Saudi Arabia and their restrictions on women have shed a negative light on the entire faith when it comes to women’s rights.

“Now many extremists have undermined women’s rights and others’ rights in various places around the world,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed also said that Muslims are often associated with violence, and he explained the meaning of the term “jihad.”

“The term ‘jihad’ is often thought to mean ‘holy war’ and is associated with terrorists, when, in reality, it means ‘struggle’ and has a personal meaning,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed spoke about how the term has changed due to the influence of extremists.

“We see extremists manipulating this term to make rationalizations and justifications for their own agenda,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed also said that these myths often arise from different interpretations of Islam around the world.

“The line between religion and culture can be blurry for some people and that’s true for Muslims all over the world as well,” Ahmed said.

These different interpretations have impacted the way people view Muslims in America today, Ahmed said.

“The history of Islam in America is longer than people realize … and today have a very diverse Muslim community,” Ahmed said. “We’re doctors; we’re engineers; we have two Congressmen.”

Another misconception Ahmed discussed was the assumption that Muslims are all of Arabic ancestry.

“Part of the implications of Islamaphobia don’t only impact those who identify with the religion,” Ahmed said. “Only 18 to 20 percent of Muslims are of Arabic descent. The others are white, black, etcetera.”

Ahmed then compared the Islamic faith’s egalitarian values with America’s democratic values.

“If you take Islam’s views on egalitarianism and how everyone is equal in our creator’s eyes, and you take America’s democratic values and how everyone is equal in the eyes of the land, you can see that the two ideas go hand in hand,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed discussed how this assumed separation between Islamic and American values have affected Muslim Americans.

“However, many people think Islam is at odds with American values,” Ahmed said. “This speaks to American Muslims as to how we experience this sense of us not being or feeling like true Americans.”

Samantha Maness, freshman in materials science and engineering, said her biggest takeaway from Ahmed’s lecture was how similar religions can be.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Will Opposition remove Islam as Sabah’s official religion? Pandikar asks

November 14, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia today challenges those quarters who are purportedly championing the rights of Sabah to prove the sincerity of their struggle to the people in the state, or concede it is just their political agenda.

This included a challenge to Parti Warisan whether it would amend Article 5A in the Sabah State Constitution, namely, Islam would no longer be the official religion of Sabah if the party ruled the state.

Pandikar, in a media statement, said the same challenges and issues were aimed at STAR Party president, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who also claimed he (Pandikar) was twisting the facts regarding the Malaysia Agreement 1963 or MA63.

The challenges, he said was because the quarters concerned had misinterpreted the history of the independence and the creation of Malaysia and its related laws to suit their respective tastes and political agenda.

“Since lately, the issues of the rights of Sabah and Sarawak are very much touted by those who had their own political agenda. I am compelled to make this statement in my capacity as a Sabahan and not as a Speaker of Dewan Rakyat because this issue is very serious.

“The quarters who are riding on this issue, made a statement purportedly it is at the behest of the people of Sabah, as if their opinions are supported by all the people of Sabah.

“Because these quarters are so vehement in upholding the rights of Sabah as purportedly agreed to under Malaysia Agreement 1963, I dare them to prove the sincerity of their struggle to the people of Sabah,” he said. He stressed, the challenge was based on what was generally understood that before 1976, Sabah did not have an official religion in line with what was agreed to in the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

However, Pandikar said, in 1976, the USNO government had changed the situation by amending the Sabah State Constitution by including a new article — Article 5A — which provided that Islam was the official religion of the state.

“Before I answer the statement of the (Yang Berhormat) Darell Leiking, who is also deputy president of Parti Warisan, which was published by the The Borneo Post today (14 Nov 2017) , I want (Yang Berhormat) Darell Leiking to state clearly, namely :

“Will Parti Warisan amend Article 5A in the Sabah State Constitution, namely, Islam will no longer be the official religion of Sabah if it (Parti Warisan) rules the state?” he said, aiming the same question to Jeffrey Kitingan. — Bernama



Suspected Indonesian radicals armed with bows and arrows burn down police complex

Nov. 13, 2017

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police shot dead two men suspected of burning down a police station complex in a jihadist-inspired attack after they fired at them with bows and arrows, officials said on Monday.

All the main buildings at the police headquarters in Dharmasraya regency in West Sumatra were burned to the ground in Sunday's attack. There were no casualties.

"We are investigating links between the fire and the two terrorists who were killed," said national police spokesman Rikwanto, adding that a jihadist message was found scrawled on a piece of paper on one of the suspects.

He added that firefighters had found two suspects near the complex and reported them to police. The suspects tried to shoot at police with bows and arrows and were shot dead.

Police and police buildings have been the primary targets for militants in Indonesia for many years, because of a sustained crackdown by the anti-terrorism force on home-grown radicals.

Detachment 88 - known locally as 'Densus 88' - has managed to stamp out or weaken many radical Islamist networks. But the world's largest Muslim-majority nation has seen a recent resurgence in radicalism, inspired largely by Islamic State.

Full report at:



Charges against Zakir Naik politically motivated, says lawyer

15 NOVEMBER, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — Controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, who is currently on the run from the Indian authorities, is ready to fight an extradition request from India, his lawyer said on Wednesday (Nov 15), adding that the charges against the cleric are politically motivated.

Mr Shaharudin Ali — Dr Zakir’s lawyer in Malaysia — told The Malaysian Insight that it was only fair that the Mumbai-born televangelist was given every opportunity to exhaust his legal rights in Malaysia before being sent back to India.

“It is possible that he would be exposed to a potential political allegation back home,” he said without further elaboration on the allegation.

“There is the possibility that the allegations (against Dr Zakir) in India are tainted with emotions and other factors. We don’t want him to be a victim of that.”

India last month filed radicalisation charges against preacher. The move comes after India revoked his passport in July.

Dr Zakir was charged in absentia under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for heading an “unlawful association”.

The founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was also charged with inciting youth to take up terror acts and join global terror groups such as the Islamic State (IS).

The Times of India reported late last month that the Indian government will make an official request to Malaysia to extradite Dr Zakir.

The preacher allegedly fled to Saudi Arabia after the Indian authorities started investigating him and the IRF for alleged terror propaganda.

He has previously voiced support for Al Qaeda jihadists and Osama bin Laden and, in a 2006 lecture, he called for “every Muslim to be a terrorist”.

The British and Canadian governments have banned the him from entering their country because of his inflammatory speeches.

Singapore leaders meanwhile, have cautioned against divisive preaching by the likes of Dr Zakir — who had urged followers not to vote for someone of another religion.

The cleric, however, has denied allegations that he is a terrorist and said he is ready to go to court, provided it is at an international or Malaysian court, to prove his innocence.

He has been welcomed by some senior clerics in Malaysia and leaders from the opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). Putrajaya gave him permanent residency (PR) status five years ago and last year, he met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

But in an apparent U-turn over its treatment of Dr Zakir, Putrajaya said last week it will extradite the preacher back to India if there is a request from the Indian government.

Mr Shaharudin said on Wednesday that so far, there had been no development on the extradition request from India.

He also said Dr Zakir is in Malaysia, saying that he is in constant contact with the preacher.

“We will fight against any request to extradite him to India. But, we can only do this the moment we receive the warrant of arrest or a special request from the government of India,” he said.

Full report at:



Duterte Berates Canada's Trudeau at End of Philippines Summit

Nov 15, 2017

Manila. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attacked Canada's Justin Trudeau at the end of a summit of Asian and Western nations for raising questions about his war on drugs, a topic skirted by other leaders, including US President Donald Trump.

At the traditional news conference by the host nation at the end of the summit on Tuesday (14/11), Duterte was asked how he had responded to the Canadian prime minister raising the issue of human rights and extra-judicial killings in his anti-drugs drive. "I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult," the Philippines president said in the course of a rambling answer, although he did not refer to Trudeau by name.

"I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off."

Earlier in the day, Trudeau told a news conference that during his meeting with Duterte "the president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange".

Human rights activists had been hoping that leaders at the summit, including Trump, would raise the issue of the thousands of users and small-time pushers killed in the campaign that was launched by Duterte after he took office in mid-2016.

His government says the police act in self-defense during drug-busts, but critics say executions are taking place with no accountability.

There was no pressure from Trump on the drugs war when he met Duterte on Monday and the U.S. president later said the two had a "great relationship".

A joint statement after the meeting only said the two sides "underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs."

Duterte cursed Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, last year for raising concerns about the war on drugs and he subsequently declared that he was breaking ties with the United States, a close ally of the Philippines since World War Two. The relationship appears to have got back on track after the bonhomie between him and Trump.

Trudeau also said that he raised the issue of the exodus of Rohingya during a meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, another sensitive topic bypassed by most other leaders, although he did not mention the Muslim minority by name.

Full report at:




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