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Islamic World News ( 6 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Protesting against the Saudi Monarchy, Shia Personal Law Board asks to build Jannat-ul-Baqi Replicas in Every Shia Populated Area

New Age Islam News Bureau

06 March 2023

 

Jannatul Baqi/ Photo: Zamzam.com

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• Saudi TV Series about Mu'awiya bin Abi Sufyan Triggers Iraq’s Sectarian Divide

• Even Prophets Gave Political Sermons in Mosque, Hadi Says After Terengganu Becomes Latest State to Impose Ban

• ‘Saudi-US Relationship Is A Catholic Marriage,’ Says Former White House Official

• Crisis over Suspected Iran Schoolgirl Poisonings Escalates

 

India

• India’s Defence Ties with Middle East Deepen as Security Engagements on Rise

• ‘Muslims Support Uddhav Thackeray as They Perceive Him as a Liberal Leader’: Maulana Azad Vichar Manch

• Muslims to keep prayerful vigil at Shab e Baraat on Tuesday in Mumbai

• UNHRC: India regrets Turkiye's J&K remarks, slams Pakistan 'propaganda'

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Arab World

• Opposition Group Says Bahrain Turns into Graveyard of Human Rights, Incarcerations

• Saudi Arabia Executes Two Nationals for Sexual Assault, Murder Offenses

• King approves distribution abroad of 1m copies of Holy Qur’an during Ramadan

• Egypt to strengthen Jordan power link to up to three gigawatts: Prime Minister

• Kuwait re-appoints Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah as PM: KUNA

• Qatari ruler urges int'l community to help Türkiye overcome quake devastation

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Southeast Asia

• Local Group Linked To Islamic State Already Under Watch, Malaysian Police Say

• More Help for Malay/Muslims in Public Rental Flats, New Digital Repository For Asatizah: MCCY

• Anwar, PH’s hands tied over recognising UEC, say analysts

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North America

• US defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Jordan at start of Middle East tour

• Top US general visit American occupation forces in Syria after Israel meetings

• Syria condemns ‘illegal’ visit of US General Mark Milley

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Mideast

• Iran: US in No Position to Lecture Others on Human Rights, Democracy

• Iran Supreme Leader says poisoning of schoolgirls is an unforgivable crime: IRNA

• New cases of poisoning in different Iran regions: Media

• Netanyahu Raps IAEA Chief, Claims Israel Free to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Sites ‘In Self-Defence’

• Iran Rejects IAEA's Claims over Access to Individuals, Reinstalling Cameras at N. Sites

• Al Qaeda confirms killing of top commander in Yemen

• Israeli ministers approve bill on $270,000 gift to Netanyahu

• Israel’s Netanyahu rebuffs IAEA chief’s remarks against possible attack on Iran

• Netanyahu tries to calm outcry over minister’s ‘inappropriate’ Palestine remarks

• Palestinians cautiously watching anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel

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Pakistan

• Terrorism a Major Problem: Pakistan Facing Blowback from a Resurgent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan

• ARY News Licence Suspended for Violating Ban on Airing Imran’s Speeches

• Saudi Prince Launches Saudi-Pakistan Tech House in Islamabad Tomorrow

• Pakistan: PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz mocks Imran Khan for avoiding arrest

• Pakistan: 32 per cent more militant attacks recorded in February compared to January

• 9 policemen martyred, 13 wounded in blast near Balochistan Constabulary van in Bolan: police

• Qatar to help Pakistan tackle economic challenges

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South Asia

• Big Fire Erupts At Rohingya Camp in Bangladesh, 12,000 People Homeless

• US Accuses Islamic Emirate of Violation of Doha Deal

• Over 1600 Afghan Nationals Return to Country from Iran: Afghanistan

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Africa

• Jordan’s Royal Court Reveals Wedding Date of King Abdullah’s Daughter Princess Iman

• Senegal police release activists and MP arrested at Tunisia embassy

• Tunisian labour union holds biggest protest yet against president

• Uganda sends 13 tons of aid supplies for Türkiye quake survivors

• Jordan sends relief plane to quake-affected people in Türkiye

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Europe

• Greece’s foreign minister corrects himself after using wrong name for Istanbul

• Bosnia and Herzegovina sends more aid to quake-hit Türkiye

• Belgian court upholds prisoner swap treaty with Iran

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/saudi-monarchy-shia-jannat-baqi/d/129258

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Protesting against the Saudi Monarchy, Shia Personal Law Board asks to build Jannat-ul-Baqi Replicas in Every Shia Populated Area

 

Jannatul Baqi/ Photo: Zamzam.com

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Mar 6, 2023

LUCKNOW: All India Shia Personal Law Board has appealed to the Shia community to build replicas of Jannat-ul-Baqi in every Shia populated area. The call was made in Lucknow, while holding a protest meeting against the Saudi monarchy for demolishing the Islamic cemetery Jannat ul Baqi 100 years ago in Madina.

The board members also asked Shia Muslims to continue to protest in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of demolition of the holy site. Around 1,000 men gathered at Asifi Imambara on Sunday and staged protests against the Saudi Arabian monarchy.

Maulana Yasoob Abbas, general secretary of the board, said, "The sacrilege of holy shrines is against the preaching of the Quran as well as against the tradition of the prophet. Saudi Arabia provides funds to terror outfits in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the genocide of Shias."

Protesters were carrying placards in their hands depicting anti-Saudi slogans. They also showed their anger against the Saudi regime by chanting slogans.

Maulana Saim Mehdi, the president of the board, sent a letter to PM Narendra Modi and demanded that he mount diplomatic pressure on the Saudi Arabian government to reconstruct the Baqi cemetery.

Maulana Ejaz Athar, vice president of the board, said that the United Nations Organization should ask Pakistan and Afghanistan to take measures to curb and stop the Shia genocide.

Source: Times Of India
Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/lucknow-build-jannat-ul-baqi-replicas-in-every-shia-populated-area/articleshow/98438396.cms

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Saudi TV Series about Mu'awiya bin Abi Sufyan Triggers Iraq’s Sectarian Divide

 

Shiite Muslim pilgrims gather to pray at the shrine of the 8th-century Imam Musa al-Kadhim in the Kadhimiya district, north of Baghdad, on February 17, 2023. - AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images

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Ali Mamouri

March 5, 2023

MBC Media Group has announced a drama series about Mu'awiya bin Abi Sufyan, the first Umayyad caliph, during the upcoming Islamic month of Ramadan, set to begin in about 20 days. The Saudi media conglomerate's decision has faced massive criticism in Iraq and other countries with large Shiite communities, due to the Shiite belief that Mu'awiya was an enemy to Islam.

Iraq’s government media watchdog, the Communication and Media Commission, warned MBC Iraq, which is a part of MBC group, that the show went against the country’s regulations. Consequently, MBC Iraq announced that it will not broadcast the series. However, other MBC channels will broadcast it due to commitments with the producer. MBC is currently referring to it as "Mu'awiya," but the official name will be released before it airs. The series, directed by Tarek Alarian, cost nearly $100 million and took over two years to produce. It features several well-known Arab actors, including Lujain Ismail (playing Mu'awiya), Iyad Nassar (Imam Ali), Suhair bin Amara (Hind, Mu'awiya's mother) and Wael Sharaf (Amr Aas).

The controversial Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded that MBC halt the series. “Broadcasting such series is contrary to the new, moderate policies pursued by the brotherly country of Saudi Arabia,” Sadr tweeted Feb. 14.

Why this matters for Shiites

Mu'awiya was the first caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, which ruled a large part of what is today the Middle East from 661-750 CE. He established Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus after a war with Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shiite imam who was the caliph in Kufa, in southern Iraq. Imam Ali was assassinated in 661 AD and buried in nearby Najaf, which has become the heart of the Shiite religious institution, similar to the Vatican. Imam Ali occupies a similar authority and role for Shiites as St. Peter the Apostle does for Catholics. The enmity between subsequent Umayyad caliphs and Imam Ali’s children and grandchildren continued for about 100 years.  

Given this history, many Shiites hold a lasting grudge against the Umayyads in general and Mu'awiya in particular. However, for the Sunnis, the Umayyad period is considered a part of glorious Islamic history. 

Iraqi Shiites were outraged at the plans for the series, sparking concerns that it could ignite a new wave of sectarianism in the region. 

The Iraqi Shiite TV channel Al-Shaaer announced that it would not air the Mu'awiya series and that it had started producing a rival series about Abu Lu'lu'a Firuz, a Persian slave who assassinated the second Islamic caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, in 644 AD. While Sunnis respect Umar as a religious and political leader, Shiites claim he was an illegitimate caliph. 

Iraq’s government media watchdog, however, also sent a directive to Al-Shaaer against the series, stating that “licensed media organizations are prohibited from belittling, distorting, or denigrating the religious beliefs of other sects.” In response, Al-Shaaer confirmed that they will commit to the directive as long as MBC does not air the Mu’awiya series.

Iraqi militia Telegram channels also slammed Saudi Arabia and the MBC group, calling for a demonstration in front of MBC’s headquarters if they go ahead with plans to air it.

The headquarters building in Baghdad was attacked and burned in 2020 by pro-militia groups after the channel broadcast a documentary about a terrorist attack targeting the Iraqi embassy in Lebanon in 1980s, accusing the former head of the Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, of leading the attack.

History as a weapon 

During the last two decades, producing historical movies and series to be used against rival powers in the region has become common. 

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in particular have produced dozens of dramas and TV series, in addition to documentaries, about Islamic history in order to glorify their nations and attack the rival powers in the region, not to mention the West. 

Movies and TV series about Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, Marwan ibn al-Hakam and Umar ibn al-Khattab, who are rejected by the Shiite, had raised their anger. And movies and TV series about Shiites like Imam Ali and Imam Hassan that narrate their life (and insult against their enemies, who are mostly respected by Sunnis), raised Sunnis’ discontent.  

The Mu'awiya series has already woken up the sectarian conflict in the region that had been quiet in the last few years, particularly after the defeat of the Islamic State. Sufian Samarrai, the chairman of BaghdadPostPlus, slammed Shiite figures who oppose the series.

Faisal Al-Farhoud, a famous Saudi blogger, also expressed support for the series in a tweet. He praised Mu’awiya and asked, "Who are you, Muqtada al-Sadr, the bucket?”

Source: Al Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/03/saudi-tv-series-about-islamic-history-triggers-iraqs-sectarian-divide

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Even Prophets Gave Political Sermons in Mosque, Hadi Says After Terengganu Becomes Latest State to Impose Ban

 

The MP for Marang said even prophets were known to give political sermons in mosques and that Muslim leaders are obliged to “speak up” including through political sermons, as he responded to the news of the ban. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

05 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Awang insists that political sermons should be allowed in mosques and suraus, in defiance of the Terengganu Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council’s (Maidam) decision to bar politicians from speaking in the Muslim houses of worship.

The MP for Marang said even prophets were known to give political sermons in mosques and that Muslim leaders are obliged to “speak up” including through political sermons, as he responded to the news of the ban.

“We must realise in Islam, politics and religion are inseparable. Even prophets gave political sermons,” he told reporters in Marang, Terengganu, last night.

“When we talk about Islam and politics, then that’s Islam’s politics. It’s not wrong and we are obliged to speak up.

“What is wrong we must speak up about it. Be it about economics, politics or whatever, Muslims are obliged to speak up if they see something wrong,” he added.

A video of the news conference was aired on his Facebook account.

He said the necessity to voice out against “wrongness” is part of the Islamic teaching called “amar makruf nahi mungkar”, Arabic for “enjoining good and forbidding wrong”.

Some Muslim scholars interpret it as the duty of a Muslim to prevent and disapprove of transgression or indecency.

Politicians have been barred from delivering religious lectures or ceramahs in mosques and suraus in Terengganu, Maidam announced last Tuesday.

In a statement announcing the ban, Terengganu Ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin said he “was upset” that some politicians delivered religious lectures or classes and led Friday prayers without the council’s approval.

In Malaysia, the sultan is the supreme religious leader of his respective state. A state’s Islamic affairs body has complete autonomy over religious affairs, often dictated by a mufti.

Most states ban political leaders and activists from giving religious ceramahs or lectures without its permission.

Earlier this month, Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj decreed that mosques and suraus in the state be free of political influence and elements to prevent fights among Muslims.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah issued a similar call in September last year, saying mosques should be used to promote goodness and not used as a political arena or a place to insult fellow Muslims.

Back in October 2019, Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah told Islamic preachers to step down if they wished to use mosques in the state for political purposes.

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/05/even-prophets-gave-political-sermons-in-mosque-hadi-says-after-terengganu-becomes-latest-state-to-impose-ban/58059

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‘Saudi-US Relationship Is A Catholic Marriage,’ Says Former White House Official

 

Joe Biden with Salman, now the Saudi king, in 2011. ‘The Saudi-US relationship is in the throes of a crisis,’ one critic wrote. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

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March 05, 2023

DUBAI: The American financier and entrepreneur Anthony Scaramucci has reiterated that he considers the US-Saudi relationship a “Catholic marriage” in the latest episode of “Frankly Speaking,” the weekly current-affairs talk show of Arab News that engages with leading policymakers and business leaders.

Reminded that he had described Saudi-US ties as “crucial” in a 2021 interview with Arab News, and asked what advice he would give to President Joe Biden in order to improve the relationship today, he said: “I called it a Catholic marriage. We can fight with each other, but we are staying permanently married. Whatever the interregnum rubs are between the sovereigns, they are temporary. We need each other.”

In the interview from Abu Dhabi, where he was attending the second Investopia conference, Scaramucci touched on a wide range of topics, lauded the economic opportunities in the Gulf region, and confirmed plans to take the SALT thought-leadership forum to Riyadh.

ALSO READ: 2023 will be the ‘year of recovery’ for cryptocurrency industry, says SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci

Elaborating on the Saudi-US relationship, he said: “We’ve figured out a way over the last 80 to 90 years to be interwoven. Our economies, our governments, our intelligence communities, our defense departments are very much entwined. So, I would just ask people in the White House, and also in the UAE and in Riyadh, to just think about these things in long periods of time.”

Scaramucci, who briefly served as the White House director of communications in July 2017 when Donald Trump was the US president, added: “We’ve had a tendency in the world lately to … devolve back into tribalism and to devolve back into a little bit of a rub with each other. It’s sort of ‘my way or no way.’ We’ve got to get back to thinking about more of the spirit of the cooperation and recognizing how much better we are together and how much more prosperous we can be. That would be my general recommendation (to the Biden White House).”

As a regular visitor to Saudi Arabia, Scaramucci applauded the Kingdom’s leadership for its policy innovations and reforms.

“As they start to create these reforms and they build more infrastructure, and they move to a zero-carbon emissions standard, and they build these beautiful cities like NEOM, the Kingdom is opening to the rest of the world. It’s a beautiful, hospitable culture in the Kingdom,” he said.

He said Saudi Arabia’s prioritization of its tourism industry has allowed for greater cultural exchange and understanding with the global community.

“I applaud the Kingdom for the reforms (it is) making. And I think the best years for the Kingdom are ahead of itself,” he told Katie Jensen, the host of “Frankly Speaking.”

The way Scaramucci sees it, besides simply diversifying the economy toward sectors such as tourism and away from oil and carbon fuels, the Kingdom’s economic strategy aims to create a positive environment for foreign direct investment.

Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030 in 2016, Saudi Arabia has taken multiple steps toward encouraging foreign investment, including allowing foreign companies to list on the Saudi Stock Exchange and granting hundreds of international companies license to operate in the Kingdom in 2020.

Asked where Saudi Arabia stood as a destination for foreign direct investment and what his advice would be for it to reach its full potential, Scaramucci said: “If you study the best governments, they have a low taxation strategy, they have an enabling strategy with private enterprise, and then they stick to the rule of law.

“Ultimately, business leaders want to believe if they cut contracts or they buy property, or they make a capital investment in an area of the world, that it’s safe from a property perspective and it’s safe from a legal perspective.

“(Saudi Arabia is) doing that. And that is why capital is going to flow into the country.”

Scaramucci acknowledged that the Federal Reserve rate increases in the US as well as the Ukraine-Russia conflict have been a dampener of the global investment spirit. “There’s a certain sluggishness that’s going on but it’s more macroeconomic-related than industry or region-specific,” he said.

“Once the Fed addresses this inflation problem in the US and lets go of the brakes, if you will, on the economy and we start to see an interest rate pivot … the money will flood into this area because I do believe (the Gulf region) is well-positioned geographically,” Scaramucci said.

“It’s well-positioned in terms of the way the governments are working with the private sector to help enhance innovation. Capital will flow (again), but we have to get through this macroeconomic period right now.”

Only two months in and 2023 is proving to be the year of the conference for the Gulf region. February saw tech giants gather for the LEAP conference in Riyadh; the Investopia x SALT investment event just concluded in the UAE capital; and an international conference is drawing legal luminaries to the Saudi capital to discuss how justice can harness the power of digital change.

Speaking about his experience at the Investopia conference, which brought together big names such as former US Secretary of State John Kerry, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and UAE Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touq, Scaramucci said: “We have a great partnership with the government. Our groups work very well together, and it’s a very interesting hybrid between a … sort of a public entity, a governmental entity, and a private enterprise. The synergies there are quite good. And so, I am hopeful that it will be a long-lasting relationship.”

As the founder and chairman of SALT, a global networking forum for finance, technology and public policy, Scaramucci is optimistic that conferences of the kind he is associated with could be held in the Gulf region.

While he declined to confirm if Investopia x SALT Abu Dhabi was going to be an annual event from now on (“the synergies there are quite good, so I am hopeful that it will be a long-lasting relationship”), he said that were he to take his conference to Riyadh, “they won’t compete with each other.”

Scaramucci said: “They would be separate events, well-spaced in terms of the calendar, and will be (making sure) the flavor of that event (is) more like what the Saudis would like, sort of a Riyadh focus the same way that we do in the UAE.

“It’s very important for us as partners to infuse local elements into the conference. I don’t want to be that Westerner that comes over and sort of arrogantly puts a program together without having a lot of input from the local authorities and from the local idea generation.”

With the Gulf countries playing host to many of the most influential events in the world, several economic figures believe that the road to the future of commerce and investment could pass through the Kingdom. Does Scaramucci too think the future of investment is shifting east toward countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

“I think it is, but it has been over the last three decades. It’s starting to now grow more exponentially as there’s a greater outreach to the international community,” he said.

“I first got to the UAE in 2005. There was a tremendous amount of growth and development, but there’s been exponential growth since then. And so, the next 10 or 15 years here in the region, including Saudi Arabia for that matter, are going to be quite good.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2262906/world

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Crisis over Suspected Iran Schoolgirl Poisonings Escalates

 

Hasan Sarbakhshian / AP/ Iran schoolgirl poisonings escalates

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Mar 5, 2023

DUBAI: A crisis over suspected poisonings targeting Iranian schoolgirls escalated Sunday as authorities acknowledged over 50 schools were struck in a wave of possible cases. The poisonings have spread further fear among parents as Tehran has faced months of unrest.

It remains unclear who or what is responsible since the alleged poisonings began in November in the Shiite holy city of Qom.

Reports now suggest schools across 21 of Iran's 30 provinces have seen suspected cases, with girls' schools the site of nearly all the incidents.

The attacks have raised fears that other girls could be poisoned apparently just for going to school. Education for girls has never been challenged in the over 40 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran has been calling on the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan to have girls and women return to school.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Saturday said without elaborating that investigators had recovered “suspicious samples” in the course of their investigations into the incidents, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

He called for calm among the public, while also accusing the “enemy's media terrorism” of inciting more panic over the alleged poisonings.

However, it wasn't until the poisonings received international media attention that hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi announced an investigation into the incidents on Wednesday.

Vahidi said at least 52 schools had been affected by suspected poisonings. Iranian media reports have put the number of schools at over 60. At least one boy's school reportedly has been affected.

Videos of upset parents and schoolgirls in emergency rooms with IVs in their arms have flooded social media.

Making sense of the crisis remains challenging, given that nearly 100 journalists have been detained by Iran since the start of protests in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She had been detained by the country's morality police and later died.

The security force crackdown on those protests has seen at least 530 people killed and 19,700 others detained, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran.

Attacks on women have happened in the past in Iran, most recently with a wave of acid attacks in 2014 around Isfahan, at the time believed to have been carried out by hard-liners targeting women for how they dressed.

Speculation in Iran's tightly controlled state media has focused on the possibility of exile groups or foreign powers being behind the poisonings.

That was also repeatedly alleged during the recent protests without evidence.

In recent days, Germany's foreign minister, a White House official and others have called on Iran to do more to protect schoolgirls — a concern Iran's Foreign Ministry has dismissed as “crocodile tears.”

However, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom noted that Iran has “continued to tolerate attacks against women and girls for months” amid the recent protests.

"These poisonings are occurring in an environment where Iranian officials have impunity for the harassment, assault, rape, torture and execution of women peacefully asserting their freedom of religion or belief,” Sharon Kleinbaum of the commission said in a statement.

Suspicion in Iran has fallen on possible hard-liners for carrying out the suspected poisonings.

Iranian journalists, including Jamileh Kadivar, a prominent former reformist lawmaker at Tehran's Ettelaat newspaper, have cited a supposed communique from a group calling itself Fidayeen Velayat that purportedly said that girls' education "is considered forbidden" and threatened to “spread the poisoning of girls throughout Iran” if girls' schools remain open.

Iranian officials have not acknowledged any group called Fidayeen Velayat, which roughly translates to English as “Devotees of the Guardianship.”

However, Kadivar's mention of the threat in print comes as she remains influential within Iranian politics and has ties to its theocratic ruling class. The head of the Ettelaat newspaper also is appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Kadivar wrote Saturday that another possibility is “mass hysteria." There have been previous cases of this over the last decades, most recently in Afghanistan from 2009 through 2012.

Then, the World Health Organization wrote about so-called “mass psychogenic illnesses” affecting hundreds of girls in schools across the country.

"Reports of stench smells preceding the appearance of symptoms have given credit to the theory of mass poisoning," the WHO wrote at the time.

"However, investigations into the causes of these outbreaks have yielded no such evidence so far."

Iran has not acknowledged asking the world health body for assistance in its investigation. The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

However, Kadivar also noted that hard-liners in Iranian governments in the past carried out so-called “chain murders" of activists and others in the 1990s.

She also referenced the killings by Islamic vigilantes in 2002 in the city of Kerman that saw one victim stoned to death and others tied up and thrown into a swimming pool, where they drowned.

She described those vigilantes as being members of the Basij, an all-volunteer force in Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.

“The common denominator of all of them is their extreme thinking, intellectual stagnation and rigid religious view that allowed them to have committed such violent actions,” Kadivar wrote.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/crisis-over-suspected-iran-schoolgirl-poisonings-escalates/articleshow/98427927.cms

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India

 

India’s Defence Ties with Middle East Deepen as Security Engagements on Rise

SANJAY KUMAR

March 05, 2023

NEW DELHI: India is deepening its defense ties with the Middle East, experts said on Sunday, following a number of recent security engagements with Gulf countries.

In the past few weeks alone, Indian forces have engaged with their counterparts in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

On Feb. 20, INS Sumedha, a patrol vessel of the Indian Navy, arrived in Abu Dhabi to participate in the Naval Defense Exhibition and International Defense Exhibition.

A week later, eight fighters, tankers and transport planes of the Indian Air Force were extended hospitality by the Royal Saudi Air Force for refueling and interaction with Saudi airmen.

On Feb. 28, an Indian submarine made a call for an operational turnaround in the Salalah port of Oman.

Indian defense engagements with the Middle East have been on the rise for the past few years but have deepened lately as the US is downsizing its presence in the region.

“The US is minimizing its security role in the region and there is a vacuum,” said Zakir Hussain, a Middle East expert and former fellow of the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi.

One of the reasons India is trying to fill this “vacuum” is also to balance the influence of its rival China.

“The China factor is playing a key role in attracting India to engage in defense and security affairs,” Hussain told Arab News. “China is a growing influence in the region. It has (prompted) India also to increase its presence.”

But the three Gulf countries are important to India also due to geostrategic reasons, with access to their ports.

“The 21st century is known as the maritime century, and if India is not increasing defense cooperation with these countries, then merely economic cooperation is not going to succeed,” Hussain added. “It is not surprising, and it is the demand of the time.”

For defense expert and senior journalist Ranjit Kumar, the relationship between India and Gulf countries was like one of “distant neighbors,” while now is the time to “play a bigger role.”

Kumar said: “Till now, Arab countries have aligned with either the American or Russian camp. Now, both of them have already started withdrawing from the area. The Arab world finds India a natural partner.”

Security engagements are also vital for India’s huge diaspora residing in the region.

Nearly 9 million Indians live and work in the Middle East, with some 3.4 million in the UAE and 2.5 million in Saudi Arabia, and send back home about $80 billion in remittances every year.

“The Arab world is a major source of remittance revenue for the Indian economy. That reason is also important in this context,” Kumar said.

“India needs peace and stability in that region for the welfare of the overseas Indians and its economy.”

The increased security cooperation is also reflecting diplomatic efforts and the strengthening of bilateral ties, especially with Saudi Arabia.

“Military diplomacy is extremely important between India and Saudi Arabia…All the three services in India now are engaging with Saudi Arabia in defense, which is an extremely important moment for bilateral ties between the two countries,” said Kabir Taneja, strategic studies fellow and Middle East expert at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

“Defense ties are always a good barometer to see how bilateral ties are going between two states. Defense is something that is important for India and it’s also very critically important for West Asia.”

He sees the increasing defense engagements as aligned with changing economic relations. India, he said, wishes to change the perception that it is a country that solely provides labor for development projects in the Middle East.

“India wants to be seen as an investor, as an economic power where the big sovereign funds of the region like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE are attracted to India as an economy,” Taneja said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2262886/world

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‘Muslims support Uddhav Thackeray as they perceive him as a liberal leader’: Maulana Azad Vichar Manch president Husain Dalwai

by Shubhangi Khapre

March 6, 2023

The president of Maulana Azad Vichar Manch, Husain Dalwai, has always been at the forefront of any campaign championing the cause of minorities. In an interview with Shubhangi Khapre, the two-time Congress MP warns against the danger of polarisation in Maharashtra. Excerpts from the interview:

What explains the public show of support by Muslims to the Shiv Sena (UBT) rally at Khed in the Konkan region?

Dalwai: Yes, it is a fact that Muslim organisations have extended support to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT). Muslims are not against anybody’s religion or political ideology. In Uddhav Thackeray, Muslims see a liberal leader who is not using Hindutva to attack Muslims, Dalits, and Christians. They do not see Thackeray threatening communal harmony.

Will Muslim support for Shiv Sena (UBT) impact Congress-NCP vote bank?

Dalwai: I do not think so, as the Congress, the NCP, and the Shiv Sena (UBT) have declared that they will contest all elections together as Maha Vikas Aghadi. It is a pragmatic step in current times to consolidate secular forces. The minorities have strong reservations against RSS/BJP ideology. They disapprove of their communal agenda that fragments society and people.

How would you describe the Sakal Hindu Samaj-led ongoing ‘anti-love jihad’ campaign in Maharashtra?

Dalwai: Under the Sakal Hindu Samaj banner, right-wing organisations including the RSS and the BJP have set in process a dangerous agenda of communal divide. The entire campaign is being run with an eye on the elections. It is a plot to instil hatred against Muslims and exploit large-scale polarisation to one’s advantage. It is a very well-planned agenda pushed by right-wing parties to serve their stated political objective. But what is unfortunate is its ramifications on the social structure as it will leave people divided. This is detrimental for a civilised, progressive state like Maharashtra.

What is the way to counter such campaigns?

Dalwai: All like-minded secular parties and organisations should come together and fight against any campaign that threatens communal harmony. Unfortunately, I must admit that political parties including the Congress are not doing enough. As a result, it emboldens the other side to get away with its nefarious agenda. When the love jihad rally was held in Mumbai, various social organisations led by Maulana Azad Vichar Manch approached the Mumbai police commissioner. We expressed our concerns and urged the police to disallow such rallies. But till now, nothing has happened. The Sakal Hindu Samaj is going ahead with its campaign uninhibited.

You mean the police are allowing such rallies?

Dalwai: It is obvious. After the Mumbai rally in January, another rally was held in Navi Mumbai. Just two days ago, there was a rally on ‘land jihad’ at Nariman Point. So, my point is these rallies are taking place across Mumbai and Maharashtra. The law-enforcement agencies are silent. It is obvious there is political patronage from the ruling BJP. BJP MLAs, MPs, and leaders spew venom against minorities in such rallies. The question is would the police and government allow such rallies if they had been organised by Muslims and Dalits. They would be subjected to stern action. I firmly feel there should be no tolerance for any kind of hatred from any organisation against anyone.

What explains the support Sakal Hindu Samaj has elicited from the masses in Maharashtra?

Dalwai: When you weave false narratives to push an agenda, it may mislead people. I do not think the majority of Hindus support such campaigns. Those who are rational and secular do not participate in such protests. Look, reactions from Muslim organisations alone will not help. On the contrary, protests by Muslims will prove detrimental. Instead, there should be a collective approach cutting across party lines, communities, castes, and religions to defeat such campaigns.

But there is pressure on the government to bring in an anti-conversion law.

Dalwai: The Constitution written by Dr BR Ambedkar has clearly laid down laws to effectively address social challenges. It has laid down marriage acts. There is a provision for registered marriages. So, on what basis can these acts enshrined by the Constitution be challenged or overruled? Ambedkar himself believed in inter-caste and inter-religious marriages. Reformer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule also advocated marriages between members of different castes and religions. Maharashtra reformers were of the opinion that inter-caste and inter-faith marriages bring two different families together and unshackle the barriers of caste and community.

What about the ‘land jihad’ issue? Right-wing outfits have alleged that Muslim organisations have encroached on historic places and forts.

Source: Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/muslims-support-uddhav-thackeray-liberal-leader-maulana-azad-vichar-husain-dalwai-8480647/

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Muslims to keep prayerful vigil at Shab e Baraat on Tuesday in Mumbai

Mar 5, 2023

MUMBAI: The ceremonial Islamic festival of Shab E' Baraat falls on the night of Tuesday March 7. Devout Muslims pray and keep wakeful vigil, for this is when Allah Almighty opens the door to forgiveness and showers blessings, calling out to true seekers.

Laylat ul' Baraat or Badi Raat, as it is also called, is when the Book of Deeds for the following year is written, including birth, marriage, death and significant life events. Thousands of Muslims will also visit graveyards to pray for the well being of their dear departed. Shab E' Baraat is colloquially called "murdon ki Eid" so Muslims make charity of food and clothing in their honour.

Bada Qabrastan opposite Marine Lines station is the largest in the city with 8,000 graves on its seven acre plot. Chairman of the trust Shuaib Khatib shared a video of the site being spruced up ahead of Shab E' Baraat. Nariyalwadi Sunni cemetery opposite Reay Road with 3,500-4,000 graves will also receive thousands of visitors, said trustee Shaikh Fareeduddin. Bright lights and new coats of paint are in evidence here too.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/muslims-to-keep-prayerful-vigil-at-shab-e-baraat-on-tuesday-in-mumbai/articleshow/98433630.cms?from=mdr

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UNHRC: India regrets Turkiye's J&K remarks, slams Pakistan 'propaganda'

Mar 6, 2023

NEW DELHI: Pakistan has the "unique distinction" of hosting the most number of UNSC-designated terrorists and terror organisations, and its policies are directly responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in the world, India has said as it slammed Islamabad for its "malicious propaganda" against it. The government also slammed Turkiye for making unsolicited remarks on J&K.

Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Friday, India said when it is not entirely focused on suppressing its own population, Pakistan actively lends its energies to aid, host and abet international terrorists.

In the statement, India also expressed regret over a statement made by Turkiye at the UN session.

"We regret the comments made by Turkiye on a matter that is an internal affair of India and advise it to refrain from making unsolicited comments on our internal matters," Seema Pujani, first secretary at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN said.

Pakistan has the unique distinction of hosting the most number of UNSC designated terrorists and terror organisations, said the government. Osama bin Laden lived next to Pakistan's premier military academy. Its security agencies have nurtured and sheltered Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar for decades," Pujani said.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/unhrc-india-regrets-turkiyes-k-remarks-slams-pak-propaganda/articleshow/98437668.cms

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Arab World

 

Opposition Group Says Bahrain Turns into Graveyard of Human Rights, Incarcerations

2023-March-5

Al-Wefaq, in an open letter, addressed to participants in the 146th IPU Assembly which will be held from March 11 to 15 in the Bahraini capital city of Manama, stated that Bahrain has turned into a graveyard of human rights as thousands of people are now being kept behind bars in various prisons and detention centers across the country, presstv reported.

“Representatives of Bahraini people are now imprisoned, and a quarter of the country's citizens are now barred from running in the parliamentary elections. Bahrain, as the host country of the upcoming IPU Assembly, does not have a genuine legislature that represents the will of the nation as real representatives are either in prison or exile,” the letter read.

It went on to point to the cases of prominent Bahraini Shia clerics and opposition leaders Sheikh Ali Salman and Sheikh Hassan Issa, noting that they have been incarcerated over their demands for legal and political reforms in Bahrain.

“The current National Assembly is not a representative of the will of the Bahraini nation. The latest parliamentary elections [held on November 12 last year] lacked popular legitimacy, and the current legislature is thus a complete sham at the service of the Al Khalifah regime to conceal its repression, violations of human rights and criminal acts,” the letter added.

“Bahrain lacks peaceful coexistence due to government policies rooted in repression, absence of political pluralism, lack of social solidarity and erosion of civil and political principles as a result of an authoritarian regime. All these contradict with the overall theme of the 146th IPU Assembly, which is promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies, and fighting intolerance,” Wefaq underscored.

The opposition group also urged participants in the next week’s event to call a face-to-face meeting with jailed Bahraini lawmakers, and to demand Bahraini officials to undertake legislative reforms.

“Bahrain is suffering from acute economic, political, security, constitutional and legislative crises. Bahrain’s abuses and crimes should not be overlooked in light of the Al Khalifa regime's attempts to polish its image by means of hosting the 146th IPU Assembly,” Wefaq highlighted.

Anti-monarchy demonstrations began on February 14, 2011, and have been held on a regular basis ever since the popular uprising started.

Demonstrators demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power, and a democratic, just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

The ruthless Manama regime, however, has responded to demands for social equality with an iron fist, clamping down on voices of dissent.

In March 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of opposition civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to the imposition of an undeclared martial law.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011214000514/Oppsiin-Grp-Says-Bahrain-Trns-in-Graveyard-f-Hman-Righs-Incarcerains

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Saudi Arabia executes two nationals for sexual assault, murder offenses

04 March ,2023

Saudi Arabia has executed two nationals for sexual assault and murder offenses, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

Omar bin Abdullah bin Obeidallah al-Barakati was convicted of luring and kidnapping minor boys and of sexually assaulting them and harming them, according to the ministry.

The Criminal Court sentenced him to death, and the verdict was approved by the Appeal Court and Supreme Court, the ministry said, adding that a royal order was issued to implement the verdict accordingly.

Al-Barakati was executed on Saturday in Jeddah.

The Kingdom also executed another national in Jeddah after he was convicted of several crimes including murder.

Mohammed bin Abdelrazaq bin Saad Faydi was convicted of the premediated murder of a security officer while he was on duty and of opening fire on security patrols, according to the interior ministry.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/saudi-arabia/2023/03/04/Saudi-Arabia-executes-man-convicted-of-sexually-assaulting-minor-boys

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King approves distribution abroad of 1m copies of Holy Qur’an during Ramadan

March 05, 2023

RIYADH — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has approved the distribution of one million copies of the Holy Qur’an from the publications of the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in various sizes.

Copies of the Holy Qur’an and its interpretations into 76 languages will also be distributed to religious attachés, Islamic centers, and guidance offices abroad, supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance in 22 countries during Ramadan, 1444AH.

On this occasion, the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, and General Supervisor of the Complex, Dr. Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh commended the support received by Islamic attachés, centers and guidance offices abroad from the wise leadership to help them carry out their duty and achieve their noble mission.

He added that this gesture is an extension of the Kingdom's efforts to serve the Holy Qur’an and contribute to delivering it to millions of Muslims worldwide.

Source: Saudi Gazette

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/630388/SAUDI-ARABIA/King-approves-distribution-abroad-of-1m-copies-of-Holy-Quran-during-Ramadan

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Egypt to strengthen Jordan power link to up to three gigawatts: Prime Minister

05 March ,2023

Egypt is working on strengthening its electricity interconnector with Jordan to handle up to three gigawatts, with plans to extend a connection to Iraq, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Sunday.

The current capacity of the interconnector between Egypt and Jordan stands at 550 megawatts.

A second interconnector between Jordan and Iraq would allow some of Egypt’s electricity to reach Iraq, with the first phase of the second power link expected to be completed in June, said Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who was visiting Cairo.

Iraq, which also has electricity supply agreements with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, suffers from an electricity shortage that worsens during the hot summer months.
Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/Egypt-to-strengthen-Jordan-power-link-to-up-to-three-gigawatts-Prime-Minister

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Kuwait re-appoints Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah as PM: KUNA

05 March ,2023

Kuwait’s crown prince re-appointed Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah as prime minister and asked him to nominate a cabinet, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday, more than a month after the government resigned due to renewed friction with parliament.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah moved last year to end feuding by naming Sheikh Ahmad as premier, dissolving parliament and calling early polls, in which opposition members made gains.

Tensions resurfaced when lawmakers pressed the government sworn in last October for a debt relief bill, under which the state would buy Kuwaiti citizens’ personal loans, and sought to question two ministers, prompting the government to resign in January.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/03/05/Kuwait-re-appoints-Sheikh-Ahmad-Nawaf-al-Sabah-as-PM-KUNA-

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Qatari ruler urges int'l community to help Türkiye overcome quake devastation

Burak Dag 

05.03.2023

DOHA, Qatar

The Qatari ruler on Sunday called on the international community to help Türkiye and Syria overcome the devastation left by the Feb. 6 earthquakes.

Speaking at the opening plenary session of the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said: "I call on you all to support Turkey’s efforts to overcome the effects of this catastrophe."

Reaffirming solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria, Al Thani said: "Our meeting is being held as our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria continue to suffer from the effects of the huge earthquake that hit them."

He went on to say: "I would also like to confirm the need to lend assistance with no hesitation to our brotherly Syrian people."

"I am puzzled by the delay in aid given to these people and I confirm that it is wrong to abuse a humanitarian tragedy for political purposes," he noted.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/qatari-ruler-urges-intl-community-to-help-turkiye-overcome-quake-devastation/2837569

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Southeast Asia

 

Local group linked to Islamic State already under watch, Malaysian police say

By Justin Ong

05 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — Malaysian authorities were already monitoring a local group allegedly involved with the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation, Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said today.

Commenting on news reports citing Finland’s Nordic Counter-Terrorism Network, the inspector-general said the Royal Malaysia Police has been vigilant in observing the possible spread of IS’s influence in the country and taking action to contain this.

Malaysian police also collaborated with other security agencies in the region to exchange information and intelligence about possible terrorist activity in the region, Acryl said in a statement today.

“The public are advised not to be upset by reports about the spread of propaganda by the group supporting the IS.

“Based on the current situation, the PDRM guarantees that national security is under control,” the IGP said.

Malaysian police were also fully committed towards curbing any activity that may threaten public order, the IGP said.

Earlier today, reports citing the Nordic Counter-Terrorism Network alleged that the IS has launched a media presence in Malaysia via a group that was also active in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/05/local-group-linked-to-islamic-state-already-under-watch-malaysian-police-say/58136

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More help for Malay/Muslims in public rental flats, new digital repository for asatizah: MCCY

Syarafana Shafeeq

SINGAPORE – The expansion of a project that helps needy families in public rental housing, a new digital repository for religious teachers, and more employment opportunities are among the moves relating to Malay/Muslims which were announced during the debate on the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s budget on Monday.

1. Nurturing future leaders in the religious and community sector

A digital repository will be launched later in 2023 to provide greater support for research fellows under the Research Programme in the Study of Muslim Communities of Success and asatizah, so that they can provide religious guidance with confidence.

The repository will contain resources on Islamic and social sciences covering emerging issues related to governance, society, science and technology.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said the research fellows will also be given training opportunities in research methodologies and data visualisation, along with mentorship with local and international academics.

2. Improving coordination across public agencies, community organisations

Project Dian@M3, an initiative to support Malay/Muslim families living in public rental flats, will be expanded to six more blocks in three towns – Chua Chu Kang, Jurong and Tampines.

The expansion will support 500 more households, up from around 250 households today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Maliki Osman said: “Often times these families face complex issues that require support from many different government and non-government agencies. We will improve coordination across public agencies and community organisations, to provide more integrated wrap-around support for the vulnerable.”

Project Dian was launched in December 2021 and focuses on three groups of households – elderly who live alone, middle-aged parents with adult children, or multi-generational families, and young families with young children.

Dr Maliki said young families, who have an average of three children or more with the mean age of the oldest and youngest at 11 and four years old respectively, are a key priority.

“During our house visits, we further observed that some children demonstrate developmental delays, or did not attend preschool regularly.”

The Dian Ambassador programme was launched last October to provide home-based support to families with children between three- and six-years-old, over a six-month period. Since its pilot, 30 volunteers have been trained.

The ambassadors will visit the families fortnightly to read with the children and engage them in activities to develop their cognitive and social skills.

3. Developing a strong volunteer corps

The number of volunteers across the 11 M3@Towns has increased from 700 to 800 last year, reaching close to 7,000 Malay/Muslim households.

A framework has also been put in place to equip these volunteers with the right skill sets to engage target families, and more than 150 volunteers have gone through the training programmes since September 2021.

The training has helped these volunteers become more confident in building rapport with the residents, said Dr Maliki.

4. Building a strong network of community partners

Dr Maliki said the network of Malay/Muslim organisations and Indian/Muslim organisations play an important role in corralling resources and implementing programmes to meet the diverse needs of the community.

He said that the organisations can play a greater role in community building through partnerships.

In December, the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS) collaborated with Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday Memorial Scholarship Fund Board (LBKM) to launch a new post-graduate scholarship to support women in achieving their aspirations.

Financial advisors were invited to conduct financial literacy talks at M3@Towns, alongside volunteer lawyers who conducted sharing sessions to guide residents in applying for a lasting power of attorney.

“Such collaborative partnerships between Government and various community nodes often have a multiplier effect on the community,” said Dr Maliki.

5. Providing a strong educational foundation for the young, youth mentoring

A programme to prepare Malay/Muslim children for mathematics has supported close to 4,000 children since 2018.

About eight in 10 graduates of the programme did not need to get learning support for the subject when they entered Primary 1.

The KelasMateMatika programme, for children aged four to six, prepares them for Primary 1 mathematics.

Besides early exposure to maths, students go through specially curated online coding camps and learning journeys.

The programme targets to enrol 2,500 students into the programme this year.

Dedicated runs of the programme will be organised at targeted preschool centres, including mosque-based kindergartens.

The Mendaki Tuition Scheme (MTS) has supported more than 7,600 students across Singapore. The programme fees were also reduced to $10 per year, from $210, last year.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad said: “Besides academic achievements, it is important for our youth to have a good social support system. Besides their families, mentors can guide and help our youth expand their world view.”

Mentoring programme #amPowered has been set up at all three Institute of Technical Education colleges and across three M3 Towns in Jurong, Chua Chu Kang and Marsiling-Yew Tee.

The mentoring sessions will be held fully physically this year, shifting out of its online format during the pandemic.

Mendaki will also organise one youth mentoring programme in each of the 11 M3 Towns by the end of this year, bringing support closer to Malay/Muslim youth.

6. Helping Malay/Muslim professionals through wider networks

Mendaki will expand its Professional Networks programme to connect young workers to a wider range of career pathways.

In 2022, the programme, which connects Malay/Muslim professionals to others in their field and helps younger workers enter the industry, connected with more than 400 Malay/Muslim professionals in the care, green and digital sectors.

This year, the network will expand to include other in-demand industries such as finance, sustainability and engineering.

Urging early- and mid-career professionals in these sectors to join the effort, Mr Zaqy said: “This will create more opportunities to connect our youths with professionals who can inspire and guide them to pursue a wide range of career pathways.”

Source: Straits Times

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/more-help-for-malaymuslims-in-public-rental-flats-new-digital-repository-for-asatizah-mccy

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Anwar, PH’s hands tied over recognising UEC, say analysts

Danial Azhar

05 Mar 2023

PETALING JAYA: The government’s decision not to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) should not come as a surprise given that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his coalition, Pakatan Harapan, have their hands tied by the current political situation, analysts said.

Wong Chin Huat of Sunway University pointed out that the government was made up of various coalitions, while James Chin of University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said Anwar lacked the political capital to pursue policies that would not sit well among the Malay community.

On March 1, education minister Fadhlina Sidek said the ministry had no plans to recognise the UEC. In a parliamentary reply, she said this stand was based on the National Education Policy, and the Education Act 1996.

Recognising the UEC was among the key pledges in PH’s manifesto for the 15th general election (GE15).

The coalition promised to make public higher education institutions recognise the UEC, on the condition that applicants had at least a credit for the Bahasa Melayu paper in their SPM examination.

Wong said it was understandable for Putrajaya not to pursue plans to recognise the UEC as it would not only be futile but could even harm the government’s survival.

“The government is vulnerable to Perikatan Nasional’s nationalist attack, it’s politically wise not to pursue it (recognising UEC),” he told FMT.

He said there was “no way” the government could recognise the UEC given that Anwar’s government did not win a majority of the Malay vote in GE15.

If the certificate was recognised, PN would use it to attack the government and claim that Malay-Muslim rights were being marginalised.

Chin said PH component DAP was the biggest loser as it had been vocal about recognising the UEC, adding that it now had a lot of explaining to do.

However, he said, not recognising the certificate was unlikely to discourage PH’s non-Malay supporters from casting their votes in the six state elections to be held in the next four months.

When PH was previously in government, it formed a task force to gather views on recognising the UEC, which was one of its pledges in its manifesto for the 14th general election (GE14) in 2018.

The task force was led by sociologist Eddin Khoo, and included then Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) president Raimi Abdul Rahim and then Dong Zong deputy president Tan Yew Sing.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2023/03/05/anwar-phs-hands-tied-over-recognising-uec-say-analysts/

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North America

 

US defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Jordan at start of Middle East tour

05 March ,2023

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will also take him to Israel and Egypt in a show of support for its main regional allies against the growing threat posed by Iran, US officials said.

Austin wrote on Twitter before his departure that he would meet key leaders and “reaffirm the US commitment to regional stability and advancing the shared interests of our allies and partners.”

The US Defense Department said ahead of the visit that discussions would focus on the growing threat Iran poses to regional stability, and on advancing multilateral security cooperation with integrated air and missile defenses.

Central to discussion will be the “full constellation of Iran-associated threats..,” a senior defense official was quoted as saying on the Pentagon’s official site ahead of the visit.

“Those threats include Iran’s arming, training and funding of violent proxy groups, aggression at sea, cyber threats, its ballistic missile program and drone attacks,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/US-defense-secretary-Lloyd-Austin-in-Jordan-at-start-of-Middle-East-tour

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Top US general visit American occupation forces in Syria after Israel meetings

05 March 2023

Top US military officer General Mark Milley has visited American occupation forces in northern Syria a day after he met with the Israeli regime’s officials in the occupied territories.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff made a stop at an undisclosed occupied base in northern Syria on Saturday to talk with American troops and commanders about recommendations for the future of the Pentagon’s operations in the war-wracked Arab country.

The US military has more than 900 troops at various locations in northeastern Syria without the consent of the Syrian government for what it claims to be "counter-terrorism operations and fight against the remnants of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group". It also trains and advises the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of militants that oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Asked by reporters accompanying him about the deployment of American troops to Syria, Milley tied the mission to the security of the United States and its allies, saying, "If you think that that's important, then the answer is 'Yes.'"

"I think that an enduring defeat of ISIS (Daesh) and continuing to support our friends and allies in the region ... I think those are important tasks that can be done," Joe Biden's top military adviser added.

The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The Takfiri terrorist group had emerged as Washington was running out of excuses to extend its regional meddling or enlarge it in scale.

The US-led coalition sustains its illegal presence on the Arab country's soil, although, Damascus and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2017.

Damascus has repeatedly urged the United Nations Security Council to end the US-led military presence in the country, saying that illegal US deployment is tantamount to occupation and aimed at plundering Syria’s natural resources.

Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil wealth.

Milley’s visit to Syria came a day after he met with the Israeli regime’s officials in the occupied territories, during which they discussed Iran and what they claimed to be ways to stem Iran’s reach to “nuclear weapons.”

In his trip, the top US general also tried to prepare the ground for the visit of Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin to the occupied territories. Austin is set to enter the occupied territories next Wednesday.

Milley’s visit came as tensions are running high in the occupied Palestinian territories amid Tel Aviv's efforts to legitimize the illegal settlements and statement of Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s far-right minister of finance, on “wiping out” the Palestinian village of Hawara.

Israel minister walks back call for Hawara to be 'wiped out'

On Saturday, Smotrich was forced to retract his comments about the destruction of the Palestinian village of Huwara, days after illegal settlers went on a rampage in the village near Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

Smotrich was quoted as saying by the Israeli media that his comments earlier this week to “wipe out” Huwara was a “slip of the tongue”.

The Times of Israel newspaper reported that Smotrich had told local media that his “word choice was wrong, but the intention was very clear. It was a slip of the tongue in a storm of emotions.”

Hundreds of armed Israeli settlers attacked Huwara and nearby villages on Sunday night and torched dozens of houses and cars. They had been angered at the killing of two Israeli brothers by a Palestinian gunman in Huwara.

One Palestinian was killed during the settler rampage and at least 390 others were injured, with Palestinian media reporting stabbings and attacks with metal rods and rocks.

The Israeli regime's forces and settlers have escalated their deadly acts of aggression against the Palestinians since late December 2022, when Benjamin Netanyahu staged a comeback as the regime's prime minister at the head of a cabinet of hard-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/05/699322/Pentagon-surprise-visit-Mark-Milley-Syria-

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Syria condemns ‘illegal’ visit of US General Mark Milley

05 March 2023

Damascus has condemned a recent visit by top US military officer General Mark Milley to northeast Syria, saying the move is “illegal” and a "flagrant violation" of the country's sovereignty.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry made the remarks in a statement on Sunday, a day after the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff made a surprise visit at an undisclosed base in the occupied Syrian territory to talk with American troops and commanders about recommendations for the future of the Pentagon’s operations in the Arab country.

“Syria strongly condemns this flagrant violation by the US military official of the sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the ministry said, calling on Washington to immediately stop its systematic and continuous violations of international law as well as its support for militant groups in Syria.

The ministry said such practices will not make Damascus stop its fight against terrorism and it will remain steadfast in protecting its sovereignty, security and stability.

The US and its allies put boots in Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The Takfiri terrorist group had emerged as Washington was running out of excuses to extend its regional interference. The US-led coalition keeps its illegal presence on the Arab country's soil, although Damascus and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2017.

Damascus has repeatedly urged the United Nations Security Council to end the US-led military presence, saying the illegal US deployment is tantamount to occupation and aimed at plundering Syria’s natural resources.

Former US President Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil wealth.

Damascus also complains that Washington's theft of Syrian oil, natural gas and other resources has led to energy shortages.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/05/699341/Syria-US-Mark-Milley

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Mideast

 

Iran: US in No Position to Lecture Others on Human Rights, Democracy

2023-March-5

“There was a time the US was backing the apartheid regime in South Africa, the CIA helped it arrest Mandela,” Kana'ani wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday.

New details being published Monday by TIME appear to strengthen claims that the CIA helped South Africa's racist regime capture anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela in 1962. The report adds to evidence that President John F. Kennedy's administration played a role in Mandela's arrest at a time when US officials were coming to grips with an increasingly intense civil rights movement in America.

Mandela wound up spending 27 years in prison for leading the African National Congress (ANC), which opposed apartheid policies that kept South Africa's Black residents segregated, often in inhumane conditions. He finally was released in 1990 as apartheid crumbled, and was elected South Africa's first Black president in 1994, serving for five years. He died in 2013 at age 95.

“Today, it is a strategic ally and supporter of the apartheid Zionist regime. The US does not deserve to defend human rights and democracy," the spokesperson added.

"It does not believe in them at all,” he stressed.

Iran describes Israel as the root cause of the region’s instability and insecurity, but also stresses Israel's US-supported barbarity will not change the inevitable fate of the Tel Aviv regime.

Tehran says the history of the apartheid regime is full of assassinations, massacre, torture and killing of Palestinian kids, and described Tel Aviv regime's atrocities and massacre of Palestinian women and children as indicative of the destitute of Zionists.

The increased attacks of Israeli soldiers and settlers against the occupied territories have made 2022 the deadliest year for the Palestinians since 2005, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The raids have claimed the lives of at least 220 Palestinians, including at least 50 children.

Kana'ani's remarks came after Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich stated that the Palestinian village of Huwara "needs to be wiped out", adding that he thought "Israel should do it".

It comes after hundreds of armed Israeli settlers attacked Huwara and nearby villages and torched dozens of houses and cars. One Palestinian was killed during the settler rampage and at least 400 others were injured, with Palestinian media reporting stabbings and attacks with metal rods and rocks.

The Israeli regime's forces and settlers have escalated their deadly acts of aggression against the Palestinians since late December 2022, when Benjamin Netanyahu staged a comeback as the regime's prime minister at the head of a cabinet of hard-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011214000356/Iran-US-in-N-Psiin-Lecre-Ohers-n-Hman-Righs-Demcracy

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Iran Supreme Leader says poisoning of schoolgirls is an unforgivable crime: IRNA

06 March ,2023

Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says that poisoning of schoolgirls is an unforgivable crime, calling for maximum punishment of those responsible, Reuters reports citing state-run IRNA news agency.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/06/Iran-Supreme-Leader-says-poisoning-of-schoolgirls-is-an-unforgivable-crime-IRNA

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New cases of poisoning in different Iran regions: Media

05 March ,2023

More cases of mysterious poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls were reported Sunday in several provinces, local media reported, sparking calls for the authorities to act amid growing concern among parents.

Since late November, hundreds of cases have been reported, mainly in the holy city of Qom south of the capital Tehran, with at least 52 schools targeted, according to an official tally published on Saturday.

Some of the students have required hospitalization.

The latest spate of poisonings affected several students in two high schools in the western city of Abhar and in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, ISNA news agency said, quoting local health officials.

Schoolgirls at a primary school in the city of Zanjan in the west were also targeted, ISNA added.

More cases were reported in the holy city of Mashhad in the northeast, Isfahan in the center and Shiraz in the south, according to Mehr and Ilna news agencies.

Dozens of schoolgirls were taken to local hospitals for treatment, the reports said.

On Friday, President Ebrahim Raisi said he had asked the ministers of intelligence and interior to follow up on the poisoning cases, dubbing them “the enemy’s conspiracy to create fear and despair” among the people.

Interviewed by the Fars news agency, Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi said the “plotters of the poisoning of girls” were seeking “to close the schools.”

He added, however, that those behind this action were also trying to spark more protests in the Islamic republic.

Mirahmadi was referring to the protest movement triggered in Iran by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young ethnic Kurd arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.

Mirahmadi said that most of the affected students suffered complications due to “anxiety and stress.”

Last week, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Younes Panahi said the poisonings were aimed at shutting down education for girls.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/New-cases-of-poisoning-in-different-Iran-regions-Media

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Netanyahu Raps IAEA Chief, Claims Israel Free to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Sites ‘In Self-Defence’

05 March 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced as “unworthy” the recent comments by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi, who said any military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be illegal.

The chief of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Saturday that any military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be “illegal” and “outlawed,” as he was responding to US and Israeli threats to target them.

“I think any attack, any military attack on a nuclear facility is outlaw [sic], is out of the normative structures that we all abide by,” Grossi said at a joint news conference with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami, in Tehran.

The remarks came amid reports that the Biden administration has drawn closer to Israel in recent weeks, conducting large-scale joint military exercises with the regime as talks on the Islamic Republic’s peaceful nuclear program have hit a deadlock.

“Rafael Grossi is a worthy person who made an unworthy remark,” Netanyahu said in a meeting with his extremist cabinet on Sunday.

“Outside what law? Is it permissible for Iran, which openly calls for our destruction, to organize the tools of slaughter for our destruction? Are we forbidden from defending ourselves? We are obviously permitted to do this,” he added.

Last month, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said “all options are on the table” against Iran and that “Israel can and should do whatever they need to deal with, and we’ve got their back.”

Israel, which possesses nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has made various covert attempts in recent years to sabotage Iran’s peaceful nuclear program by assassinating Iranian scientists and carrying out cowardly attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Israel has also overtly threatened on numerous occasions to carry out attacks against Iranian facilities and infrastructure and claimed that Iran was close to building nuclear weapons.

This is while Iran showed to the world the peaceful nature of its nuclear program by signing the JCPOA in 2015 with six world powers — the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China. Iran fully observed its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA until 2019, a year after the US, under Israel’s influence, withdrew from the accord and targeted Iran with a “maximum pressure” campaign.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/05/699345/Netanyahu-raps-IAEA-chief-says-Israel-free-attack-Iran-nuclear-sites-in-self-defense

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Iran Rejects IAEA's Claims over Access to Individuals, Reinstalling Cameras at N. Sites

2023-March-5

Director General of the IAEA Rafael Grossi held talks with AEOI Head Mohammad Eslami, President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian during a two-day visit on Tehran.

On his return to Vienna on Saturday, Grossi claimed that Tehran has pledged to restore cameras and other monitoring equipment at its nuclear sites and increase the pace of inspections. He also added that Iran is supposed to provide access to information, locations and people.

Iran announced in early June that it has removed the IAEA surveillance cameras that functioned beyond the safeguards agreement in response to a decision by the US and its three European allies, Germany, France and the UK, to ratify a resolution at the IAEA Board of Governors against Tehran. The IAEA's BG adopted the resolution in early June, accusing Tehran of not cooperating with the agency.

Dissmissing Grossi's claims, Kamalvandi said on Sunday that the latest agreements reached between Tehran and the IAEA during the nuclear agency's head trip comply with the strategic law passed by the Iranian parliament.

The law, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions was adopted by Iranian lawmakers to counter sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States and its Western allies, and promote the country’s peaceful nuclear program.

The spokesperson rejected allegations that Tehran has agreed to give the nuclear agency access to certain individuals, saying, “During the two days that Mr. Grossi and his accompanying delegation were in Iran, no discussion was made of access to people and no text has been drawn up on this issue.”

“Of course, even if such a request had been made, it would have been definitely turned down [by Iran],” he emphasized.

The official also explained about a 50-percent increase in the IAEA's inspections of Iran's nuclear sites, noting, “Since [uranium] enrichment to 60-percent purity level had been started for the first time at Fordow [nuclear] facility, the number of inspections had to increase in line with the Safeguards [Agreement between Iran and the agency].”

“Basically, when the enrichment level increases or more sensitive materials are introduced into a facility, the number of inspections increases based on a mutual agreement between the two sides,” he continued.

Therefore, the spokesperson added, the number of Fordow inspections, which previously stood at 8, was increased to 11 in view of the increased level of enrichment there.

The AEOI spokesman also rejected allegations about an agreement with the nuclear agency on access to “three alleged locations” as many times as the IAEA demanded, saying, “No discussion was made about the frequency of [the IAEA's] access to three alleged locations.”

“In view of the previous access to these locations, more extensive access [to them] does not seem to be necessary, and the agency has made no request [in this regard] so far,” he added.

It was Grossi’s fourth visit to Tehran since assuming office in December 2019 and comes ahead of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on Monday. The trip came after the IAEA claimed in a confidential quarterly report that it had detected particles of uranium enriched to 84 percent during an inspection of the Fordow nuclear facility in January.

Tehran has dismissed the report about 84% uranium enrichment, and rejected any deviation in Iran's civilian nuclear program.

Iran has numerously slammed the IAEA for publishing misleading reports on the country's peaceful nuclear program, and described the UN nuclear watchdog's approach in disclosing confidential and unverified information as unprofessional and unacceptable.

Iran has always had full cooperation with the IAEA and allowed it to visit the country’s nuclear sites, but calls the nuclear agency's approach unconstructive and destructive. Tehran has asked the watchdog to avoid politicizing the issue and focus on technical aspects in line with the organization’s mandate.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011214000283/Iran-Rejecs-IAEA's-Claims-ver-Access-Individals-Reinsalling-Cameras

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Al Qaeda confirms killing of top commander in Yemen

March 6, 2023

DUBAI: Al Qaeda on Sunday confirmed the death of a senior figure in the network’s Yemen branch in a suspected US air strike last month, SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Security and local government sources said on Wednesday Hamad bin Hamoud al Tamimi had been killed, identifying him as a top leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington regards as among the group’s most dangerous branches.

Tamimi, a Saudi also known as Abdel Aziz al Adnani, died in a drone strike on February 26 that targeted his residence in war-torn Yemen’s northern Marib province, according to the statement reported by SITE, which monitors jihadist websites.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1740643/al-qaeda-confirms-killing-of-top-commander-in-yemen

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Israeli ministers approve bill on $270,000 gift to Netanyahu

05 March ,2023

Israeli Cabinet ministers on Sunday advanced a bill that would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep a $270,000 donation he received from a relative to pay for his legal bills as he fights corruption charges.

The bill is part of a proposed overhaul of Israel's legal system by Netanyahu's new government. The plan has drawn fierce protests for over two months in Israel, the largest seen in years.

Netanyahu has been on trial for charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes for almost three years. He denies wrongdoing and says the accusations are part of a “witch hunt” orchestrated by a biased media, law enforcement and justice system.

Last year, Israel’s high court ordered Netanyahu to pay back the funds given by a late cousin to cover the legal expenses for him and his wife, Sara. Sara Netanyahu became a target of the protests last week when demonstrators gathered outside a Tel Aviv salon where she was having her hair done. Scores of police officers were called in to escort her out of the salon and away from the jeering crowd.

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that would let public officials accept donations for legal or medical bills, despite vocal objection by the country’s attorney general that it would promote corruption.

A committee in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, also advanced bills to curtail the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review and give parliament the ability to override high court decisions.

Netanyahu's allies say these changes are needed to reduce the power of unelected judges. But critics say they will eliminate checks and balances, concentrate power with the ruling majority and defang the Supreme Court. They also say that Netanyahu, as a criminal defendant, has a conflict of interest.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/Israeli-ministers-approve-bill-on-270-000-gift-to-Netanyahu

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Israel’s Netanyahu rebuffs IAEA chief’s remarks against possible attack on Iran

05 March ,2023

Israel rebuffed as “unworthy” on Sunday comments by the UN nuclear watchdog chief that any Israeli or US attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be illegal.

Having visited Tehran in a bid to loosen deadlocked talks on renewing its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, International Atomic Energy Agency chairman Raphael Grossi on Saturday said “any military attack on nuclear facilities is outlawed.”

He was responding to a reporter’s question about threats by Israel and the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if they deem diplomacy meant to deny it the bomb to be at a dead end. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

“Rafael Grossi is a worthy person who made an unworthy remark,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised remarks on Sunday.

“Outside what law? Is it permissible for Iran, which openly calls for our destruction, to organize the tools of slaughter for our destruction? Are we forbidden from defending ourselves? We are obviously permitted to do this.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/Israel-s-Netanyahu-rebuffs-IAEA-chief-s-remarks-against-possible-attack-on-Iran

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Netanyahu tries to calm outcry over minister’s ‘inappropriate’ Palestine remarks

05 March ,2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Sunday to soften international outcry over a call by a far-right member of his cabinet for a flashpoint Palestinian village to be “erased,” saying those remarks had been “inappropriate.”

But Netanyahu also pushed back against censure of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, accusing foreign powers of playing down Palestinian violence like the February 26 killing of two Israeli brothers in Huwara village that sparked a settler rampage there.

Smotrich said last week that while he opposed vigilantism, he believed “that Huwara needs to be erased” by Israel.

The US State Department called the comments “irresponsible,” “repugnant” and “disgusting” and said Netanyahu should reject and disavow them.

The UN human rights chief said Smotrich had made “an unfathomable statement of incitement to violence.”

With Israeli media speculating that Smotrich, who is due to visit Washington next week, would be snubbed by the US administration and complicate its ties to the Netanyahu government, he offered a retraction on Saturday but no apology.

“Being upset, I misspoke,” Smotrich told Channel 12 TV.

The Palestinians have urged the US administration not to receive Smotrich. Netanyahu has said that he - and not coalition partners like Smotrich - calls the shots on Israeli diplomacy.

“It is important for all of us to work to tone down the rhetoric, lower the temperature," Netanyahu tweeted on Sunday, thanking Smotrich “for making clear that his choice of words ... was inappropriate.”

“I am still waiting to hear a condemnation from the Palestinian Authority for the murder of the Yaniv brothers," Netanyahu added. “And Israel is waiting for the international community to insist that the PA condemn that attack. Not only has it not done so, it continues to turn a blind eye to the PA’s rampant incitement.”

On Thursday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price tweeted: “Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn Finance Minister Smotrich’s provocative remarks that also amount to incitement of violence. It is imperative that Palestinians and Israelis work together to restore calm.”

At least 62 Palestinians, including gunmen and civilians, have been killed since the start of 2023, the Palestinian health ministry said. Thirteen Israelis and a Ukrainian tourist died in Palestinian attacks in the same period, according to Israel.

The brothers killed in Huwara were from a nearby Jewish settlement, a community the Palestinians consider interlopers on occupied West Bank land that they want for a future state. Most world powers deem the settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.

Hours after the brothers were shot in their car by a gunman who fled the scene, settlers rioted in Huwara. A Palestinian man was shot dead, dozens of others were wounded and houses and cars were set ablaze. Israel has arrested 10 suspects in the rampage.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/Netanyahu-tries-to-calm-outcry-over-minister-s-inappropriate-Palestine-remarks

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Palestinians cautiously watching anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel

MOHAMMED NAJIB

March 05, 2023

RAMALLAH: Palestinians in the occupied territories and inside Israel are cautiously watching the escalation of angry mass protests by Israelis.

Tens of thousands of Israelis are demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious plan to overhaul the country’s legal system, as the government presses on with the proposed changes.

The protesters oppose legislation that Netanyahu and his right-wing and religious allies hope to pass that would limit the Supreme Court’s powers to rule against the legislature and executive, while giving lawmakers decisive powers in appointing judges.

Supporters of the move say the Supreme Court needs to be reined in from overreaching into the political sphere. But its critics say the plan will weaken the courts, endanger civil liberties and harm the economy, along with Israel’s ties to its Western allies.

Some Palestinians are wary as the policies of the extreme right-wing Israeli government are related to judicial reforms and might affect their political and existential future, while others are optimistic about the protests and support them.

Others consider the demonstrations an internal problem for Israel in which they should not show interest.

However, Palestinians in general agree that everything that happens in Israeli politics directly affects them, be it security, life, economics or even politics, as they live under Israeli occupation.

Esmat Mansour, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, told Arab News: “A large part of the reforms that are intended to be implemented will weaken the Israeli judiciary, which is a destination for Palestinians to file grievances and appeals against the Israeli occupation’s measures against them.”

Some of the laws enacted by the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and the military decisions taken by the Israeli army against Palestinians in the occupied territories could be annulled by the Israeli Supreme Court, he added.

Most Palestinians do not trust the Israeli judiciary and tend not to go to Israel’s courts to challenge the occupation’s moves against them.

Mansour said Israel’s Supreme Court canceled the deportation of dozens of Palestinians to Marj Al-Zuhur in Lebanon in 1993.

It also supported changing the route of the separation wall that Israel built between it and the West Bank over Palestinian lands and evacuating the random outpost of Amona near the settlement of Ofra, east of Ramallah, four years ago, he added.

Similarly, it evacuated the outpost of Avitar near Jabal Abu Sbeih, south of Nablus, in the fall of last year, Mansour said.

“Therefore, when this extreme right-wing government passes legislation that weakens the Israeli judiciary, this enables the Israeli government, army and settlers to persist in their attacks against the Palestinians.”

Israeli public opinion was the most important audience for the Palestinians because it elected and overturned governments, Mansour said.

Another Palestinian expert agreed, saying that the Israeli protests “leave the Palestinians with some hope that there are those in Israel who oppose the annexation of the West Bank and the elimination of the two-state solution.”

Another observer said that the Supreme Court had in the past responded to a Palestinian petition regarding the deportation of Palestinians abroad and the return of Palestinian bodies Israel was holding.

A senior Fatah leader, who asked not to be named, told Arab News: “We do not want to interfere with their internal disputes, especially since they do not revolve around our situation and our future. The Israeli Supreme Court was established to provide legal cover for the occupation’s crimes against our people.”

Palestinian sources told Arab News that the Israeli organizers of the demonstrations had asked Palestinians in Israel not to join the anti-Netanyahu rallies so as not to intimidate members of the Israeli right-wing who were taking part in them.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2262866/middle-east

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Pakistan

 

Terrorism a Major Problem: Pakistan Facing Blowback from a Resurgent Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan

Seema Guha

05 MAR 2023

Terrorism is becoming a major problem in Pakistan, adding to the general feeling of pessimism within the country. Attacks by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were stepped up across Pakistan, especially in the tribal belt adjoining Afghanistan, after the group called off a ceasefire with government forces last November.

The ceasefire, signed in June 2022, was shaky from the start. Islamic terror groups across the region were reinvigorated after the Afghan Taliban’s victory over the US. The fact that the Taliban could win against the world’s most powerful army was a morale booster. The TTP now felt that it was only a matter of time before the Pakistan forces could also be overrun. The added advantage was that the TTP could now operate from Afghanistan where a friendly government was in charge.

Yet the Pakistan Army had, more or less, broken the back of the Taliban in 2014, when it launched operation Zarb-e-Azb after an audacious attack by the TTP and assorted militant groups on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. The successful army operation was launched on June 15, 2014, and involved 30,000 troops. It was confined to North Waziristan along the tribal-dominated lands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here, the TTP and various militant groups had for years done much as they pleased and terrorized the people into obedience. The government and army turned a blind eye until the attack on the Karachi international airport. The military operation flushed out terrorists and strikes across the country came down dramatically.

However, the Taliban victory in 2021 has strengthened the TTP. Many of the fighters jailed by the previous Afghan government were released. The TTP is hand and glove with the Taliban and gets the support of powerful sections within the Afghan government. TTP fighters can easily slip across the border to safety after a strike inside Pakistan. This has emboldened the TTP and led to an increase in attacks on the police and security establishment.

A report by the Pakistan Institute of Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) said that January 2023 was one of the deadliest months, with 44 militant attacks across the country. In January alone, 134 people were killed and 254 injured. In February, 80 policemen were killed in a strike on a mosque in Peshawar’s police lines. On February 18, there was a daring suicide attack on the Karachi police chief’s office, showing the reach of the TTP beyond the tribal areas to the commercial hub of Pakistan.

The TTP ceasefire was brokered by the all-powerful former ISI chief and Imran Khan loyalist Faiz Hameed and the details of the pact are not known to many in the current government. Despite the euphoria in Pakistan, when the Taliban took power in Kabul in August 2021, that a pro-Islamabad government was installed, the expectations of the establishment were soon belied.

The problem for Pakistan is two-fold. Despite repeated assurances from the Taliban leadership, that terror outfits will not be allowed to operate against Pakistan from Afghan soil, nothing has been done to rein in the TTP. That group is closely affiliated with the Taliban and many within the current ruling party support the TTP’s desire to topple the government and make Pakistan a truly Islamic state like Afghanistan. The situation is further complicated by the Taliban’s refusal to accept the Durand line as the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Incidents of firing on Pakistani forces by the Taliban have increased in recent months.

Last month, a high-level delegation comprising Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif, ISI chief Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, foreign secretary Asad Khan, as well as Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan, visited Kabul to talk to the Taliban leadership. They met deputy prime minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (who had spent years in a Pakistani prison and was released ahead of the US-Taliban talks), defence minister Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar (the founder and spiritual leader of the Taliban), interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is known to be close to the ISI, and foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

At the end of the discussions was the growing threat of terrorism in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISPK), the South Asian version of the ISIS, is spreading its wings across Afghanistan and challenging the authority of the government in Kabul. Taliban has not succeeded in turfing the group out of the country. The Pakistan team stressed on the TPP, which gets support and refuge from the Taliban government. The ISPK established itself in Afghanistan around 2015 when the US and NATO forces were still operating in the country. The Islamic force is opposed to the nationalist view of the Taliban and is much more focused on creating a global caliphate.

This is not the first time that the Taliban rulers had promised Islamabad action against the TTP. But till now, assurances have shown little action on the ground. The fact is, there are many within the Taliban who are close to the TTP. There is also infighting between the various factions.

In a recent report, the US Institute of Peace has said that while Interior Minister Siraj Haqqani, known to be close to the ISI, had restrained the TTP on Pakistan’s requests, others do not see eye to eye with him. “Yet the balance of opinion within the Taliban is strongly in favour of the TTP and its campaign. In particular, Taliban Amir Hibatullah Akhundzada agrees with the TTP that the Pakistani system is un-Islamic,” the report said.

Radicalism of the religious variety has been the bane of Pakistan for decades. Political parties played the religious card whenever it suited them. Military dictator Zia Ul Haq promoted a hardline Islamic ideology and cracked down on liberal politics in an effort to consolidate his power base. Pakistan’s liberals point to him as the man who gave rise to Islamic fundamentalism in the country. The Pakistan military used jihadi groups against India in Kashmir. Islamic terror outfits, supported by the establishment, were sent into India to inflict a thousand wounds.

The US, too, played a major role in turning Pakistan into a haven of Islamic extremism. Washington used Pakistan and its military as a conduit to supply weapons and training to the Afghan mujahideen when they were fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. Pakistan helped the US to fight its proxy war in Afghanistan and the radical Islamic groups of Afghanistan crossed over for sanctuary to Pakistan. Funds, weapons and Islamic fighters filled Pakistan’s border areas. By the time the Soviet troops were forced out of Afghanistan, radical Islam was well entrenched in Pakistan’s border areas. The Taliban was the creation of Pakistan.

While Zia was a willing partner to the Americans during the soviet invasion, General Pervez Musharraf sided with the US in the war against terror in 2001. The Pakistan Army profited by helping the US and NATO forces. Funds poured in from the US and NATO forces but by now, radicals in Pakistan turned against their government for helping the US. Anti-Americanism was rampant in the country, especially among the common people. The border areas neighbouring Afghanistan saw local extremist groups take control.

Source: Outlook India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.outlookindia.com/international/pakistan-facing-blow-back-from-a-resurgent-ttp-news-267472

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ARY News licence suspended for violating ban on airing Imran’s speeches

Syed Irfan Raza

March 6, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Sunday slapped a ban on the broadcast of speeches and press talks of PTI chairman Imran Khan after he lashed out at former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for what he called “protecting incumbent rulers in their alleged corruption cases” and hours later suspended the licence of ARY News for airing the clips of his speech at Zaman Park in bulletin.

It is the third ban on broadcasting and rebroadcasting of Mr Khan’s speeches and press talks on all satellite TV channels, though the first such restriction was set aside by the Islamabad High Court on Sept 6, 2022 and the other was withdrawn hours after being imposed by the government.

In its latest ‘Prohibition Order’, Pemra directed all the licencees to refrain from airing/broadcasting/rebroadcasting of speech(s)/press talks (recorded or live) of Imran Khan on their respective TV channels with immediate effect.

“In case of non-compliance, the licence will be suspended under Section 30 of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002 without any show cause notice in public interest,” the order said.

The authority noted that Imran Khan was “levelling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquillity.”

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry termed the Pemra move “an attempt to silence Imran’s voice” and decided to challenge it in a court of law, asking the media fraternity to do the same.

ARY News licence suspended for ‘wilful defiance’ of prohibition order

In a late-night development, Pemra issued a suspension order to ARY News for “wilful defiance” of the prohibition order. The suspension order stated: “It is also evident that Mr Ammad Yousaf, senior executive vice president, had shared Pemra’s Order on his twitter account at 8:26pm.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1740629

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Saudi Prince Launches Saudi-Pakistan Tech House in Islamabad Tomorrow

March 5, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Prince Fahad bin Mansour Al-Saud is all set to launch the Saudi-Pakistan Tech House in Islamabad at a ceremony scheduled to be held here on Monday (today), according to the Saudi tech firm.

The Saudi Prince is the co-founder of tech giant ILSA Interactive, which was first founded in 2009 by a Pakistani entrepreneur and has offices in Lahore and Riyadh.

The company aims at enhancing cooperation between the two countries in diverse technical fields. ILSA Interactive stands as a great hallmark of Pakistan-Saudi digital collaboration excellence.

“HRH Prince Fahad bin Mansour Al-Saud is visiting Pakistan to launch Saudi-Pakistan Tech House to enhance cooperation between the two countries in diverse technical fields,” the firm said in a statement.

The company said it reflects the determination of both Pakistani and Saudi leaders to further deepen the existing strategic relationship in all fields.

Federal Minister for Investment Mr Chaudhry Salik Hussain will the chief guest at the ceremony, while Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Ms Shaza Fatima will be the guest of honour.

The Saudi Prince has strategic plans to forge partnerships with IT companies, universities and big enterprises in Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/03/05/saudi-prince-launches-saudi-pakistan-tech-house-tomorrow/

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Pakistan: PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz mocks Imran Khan for avoiding arrest

Mar 6, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML) leader Maryam Nawaz has said that there is no comparison between Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N supremo was a brave person, The News International reported. She even mocked Imran Khan on social media for avoiding arrest by the Islamabad Police on Sunday.

Maryan Nawaz said Imran Khan's "Jail Bharo Tehreek" was the most unsuccessful movement in history. She said that Nawaz Sharif was a brave person as he faced jail in a bad condition while Imran Khan had never been to jail, as per the news report.

She even mocked Imran Khan on social media for avoiding arrest by the police on Sunday. Taking to her official Twitter handle, she asked her father and party supremo Nawaz Sharif to lend some courage to Imran Khan.

Tagging Nawaz Sharif in a tweet, Maryam Nawaz stated, "Listen @NawazSharifMNS, please lend a little courage to Imran Khan." She said that even if the lion is innocent, he holds his daughter's hand and comes to Pakistan from London to get himself arrested.

In another tweet, Maryam Nawaz said, "Even if the lion is innocent, he holds his daughter's hand and comes to Pakistan from London and arrests him. Get out you coward! The nation knows the difference between a leader and a gatherer."

In a another tweet, Maryam Nawaz said, "If a jackal is a thief, he hides behind other's daughters and uses them as a shield for fear of his arrest," according to The News International report. She added that the nation had now come to know the difference between a lion and a jackal.

A high drama continued at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's residence for hours on Sunday after the Islamabad Police arrived there for his arrest in the Toshakhana case. However, Imran Khan avoided the arrest, as per the news report.

Later, Imran criticized state institutions while addressing the party workers and supporters. Addressing PTI loyalists, Khan said he had never "bowed before any man or institution, and will never let you do so as well", Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper reported.

The PTI chief was addressing his party workers and supporters at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore despite being "unavailable" to the police present outside to arrest him.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-pml-n-leader-maryam-nawaz-mocks-imran-khan-for-avoiding-arrest/articleshow/98438793.cms

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Pakistan: 32 per cent more militant attacks recorded in February compared to January

5 March, 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], March 5 (ANI): In Pakistan, 32 per cent more militant attacks were recorded in the month of February as compared to January 2023, Pakistan-based newspaper, The Nation reported.

However, despite an increase in militant attacks last month, the resultant deaths declined compared to January.

Militants carried out 58 terrorist attacks during the past month in which 62 people were killed including 27 civilians, 18 security forces personnel and 17 militants. In addition to that, as many as 134 people were injured in these attacks including 54 civilians and 80 security forces personnel, according to the statistics released by Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), an Islamabad- based think tank, Dawn reported.

According to PICSS’s militancy data, this is for the first time after June 2015, that Pakistan faced 58 attacks in a single month. In February, 32 per cent more militant attacks were recorded but the number of deaths declined by 56 per cent compared to the preceding month.

The country’s security forces in February, further stepped up their actions against the militant groups and killed at least 55 suspected militants. As many as 75 suspected militants were also arrested from across the country. The majority of the suspects were arrested from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KB).

The highest number of militant attacks were reported from Balochistan where at least 22 attacks were recorded in which 25 people were killed and 61 injured, according to PICSS statistics.

Afghan Diaspora Network recently reported that the resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan is proving fatal for Pakistan, as the militant affiliate of Afghan Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is gaining leverage not only in the tribal zones of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan but also in other places.

The TTP, along with its foot soldiers, is finding safe havens in Afghanistan without any constraints, according to the Afghan Diaspora Network.

Source: The Print

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/world/pakistan-32-per-cent-more-militant-attacks-recorded-in-february-compared-to-january/1420943/

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9 policemen martyred, 13 wounded in blast near Balochistan Constabulary van in Bolan: police

Ismail Sasoli | Ghalib Nihad

March 6, 2023

At least nine personnel of the Balochistan Constabulary (BC) were martyred and 13 were wounded in a bomb attack in Bolan on Monday, police said.

Kachhi Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mahmood Notezai confirmed the casualties to Dawn.com.

“The constabulary van was on its way back to Quetta from Sibi when an explosion occurred near the vehicle on the Kambri bridge in the area bordering the Sibi and Kachhi borders,” he said.

According to the official, preliminary evidence suggested that the blast was a suicide attack. However, he said the exact nature of the attack will be ascertained after investigation.

SSP Notezai said the injured persons are being moved to the Sibi Civil Hospital, while bomb disposal squads and security personnel have arrived at the site.

The area has been cordoned off and a search operation is underway, he added.

A government helicopter has been sent to Bolan to move the injured persons to Quetta, a statement issued by the Balochistan Information Department said.

An emergency has also been imposed at hospitals across Quetta.

The Balochistan Constabulary (BC) is a department of the provincial police force that provides security at important events and in sensitive areas, including jails.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast comes on the heels of attacks in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Since the talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) broke down in November last year, the militant group has intensified its attacks while insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with it.

Condemnation

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo has condemned the attack and expressed grief at the number of casualties.

He said terrorist elements wanted to accomplish their wicked aims through cowardly actions, adding that they were conspiring to keep Balochistan under-developed by creating unrest and instability in the province.

“All such conspiracies will be made unsuccessful with the public’s support,” the chief minister vowed in a statement.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1740715/9-policemen-martyred-13-wounded-in-blast-near-balochistan-constabulary-van-in-bolan-police

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Qatar to help Pakistan tackle economic challenges

Syed Irfan Raza

March 6, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Qatar will help Pakistan during the current economic crisis and contribute to the country’s progress and development, its emir said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the sidelines of the 5th UN Least Developed Countries (LDC) Conference.

The premier is on a two-day official visit to Qatar to attend the conference.

According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the emir reiterated his resolve to continue Qatar’s complete cooperation and support in the “development and progress agenda of Pakistan”.

He welcomed the prime minister and reiterated his keen interest in strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries.

During the meeting, the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, investment, trade and employment opportunities for skilled manpower.

According to the PMO, the two leaders deliberated upon an array of mutually beneficial issues and exchanged views to diversify cooperation in economic and investment sectors.

The prime minister appreciated Qatar’s support for development projects in Pakistan and highlighted the vast opportunities for cooperation bet­ween the two countries.

The emir lauded the con­tributions of the Pakis­tani diaspora in Qatar’s development and hailed the contribution of Pakistani security authorities during the FIFA Football World Cup, 2022 hosted by Qatar, the press release added.

The emir also accepted the prime minister’s invitation to visit Pakistan.

Earlier on Sunday, the prime minister arrived in Doha where he was greeted by Qatari officials.

“Just reached Doha on the invitation of my brother HH Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the [e]mir of Qatar to attend the 5th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs),” the PM said in a series of tweets.

“I will share Pakistan’s perspective on the socio-economic challenges facing LDCs in Asia & Africa,” he added.

“Least Developed Countries have been badly affected by climate change, post-pandemic & geo-strategic disruption in food & energy supply chains. These global events have left them vulnerable. LDCs will be better served by putting welfare of people at the centre of public policy.”

The conference will be held from March 5-9 to consider steps for accelerating sustainable development in the LDCs and put them on the road to prosperity.

PM meets investment chief

After his meeting with the Qatar emir, Mr Sharif met Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud.

They exchanged views on progress made on various investment proposals in multiple sectors of Pakistan’s economy, a statement from the PMO said.

During the meeting, Mr Al-Mahmoud and PM Sharif highlighted investment opportunities in energy and infrastructure sectors of Pakistan.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1740665/qatar-to-help-pakistan-tackle-economic-challenges

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South Asia

 

Big fire erupts at Rohingya camp in Bangladesh, 12,000 people homeless

Mar 6, 2023

KUTUPALONG: A fire destroyed 2,000 shelters at a Rohingya refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving around 12,000 people homeless, an official said. The fire broke out around 2.45pm (local time) at camp number 11 in Kutupalong, one of the world's largest refugee settlements, and rapidly engulfed the bamboo-and-tarpaulin shelters, Mijanur Rahman, Bangladesh's refugee commissioner, said. At least 35 mosques and 21 learning centres for the refugees were also destroyed, though there were no reports of any injuries or deaths, he added.

"My shelter was gutted. (My shop) was also burnt," said Mamun Johar, a 30-year-old Rohingya man. "The fire took everything from me, everything."

The blaze was brought under control in less than three hours. It was not clear how the fire started. The authorities have ordered an investigation. Fires are common in the camps where nearly one million Rohingya refugees live in squalid conditions. Most of them fled a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017 and took refuge in Bangladesh.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/big-fire-erupts-at-rohingya-camp-in-bdesh-12000-people-homeless/articleshow/98437505.cms

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US Accuses Islamic Emirate of Violation of Doha Deal

By Fatema Adeeb

The US special envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, accused the “Taliban” of violations of the Doha agreement, saying that “even though the Taliban committed” not to harboring “terrorists,” it is still happening.

West made the remarks in an interview with TOLOnews.

“Even though the Taliban committed not to host terrorists that wish other countries harm, and not to allow training, or recruiting or fundraising in their territory, all of that is happening and let’s recall that three countries, three neighbors, have experienced the attacks from terrorists inside Afghanistan; Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and now increasingly Pakistan as well,” he said.

But the Islamic Emirate said that there is no evidence to show that the Afghan soil is being used against other countries.

“The Islamic Emirate wants good relations with all countries particularly with the neighboring countries. There is no evidence regarding threats from Afghan soil to the neighboring countries,” Karimi said.

Regarding the flying of US drones in Afghan air space, West said that the US wants to make sure that Afghanistan is not becoming a haven for the terrorists.

“There are issues that I can’t say publicly given they are classified. So, the Afghan people have to take me at my word, I am not a person who is misleading. Ayman Al-Zawahiri was living in downtown Kabul under the shelter of the Taliban leadership and we took him out,” West said.

Source: Tolo News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://tolonews.com/index.php/afghanistan-182351

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Over 1600 Afghan Nationals Return to Country From Iran: Afghanistan

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 5, 2023

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation on Saturday announced that 1,682 Afghan refugees returned to the country from Iran.

The returnees entered Afghanistan through the ‘Islamqala’ crossing point in western Herat province, and the needy families have been introduced to the United Nations Agency for Refugees for help.

The Afghan refugee authorities have reported that thousands of Afghan citizens have returned from Iran in the recent past. However, it is still not clear whether the returnees were forced to leave Iran, or willingly came back to Afghanistan.

After the Islamic Emirate seized power in August 2021, thousands of Afghans migrated to the neighboring countries including Iran and Pakistan, mostly through Chaman and Torkham crossing points. A large majority of these migrants did not have legal stay documents including visas or stay permits, now facing serious challenges in the host countries.

Furthermore, the Iranian government forcefully extradites those Afghan refugees who fail to provide legal stay documents (visa or refugee card) from UNHCR.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Consulate General in Karachi on Saturday said that 137 Afghan nationals were released and will be extradited to Afghanistan in the coming days.

Since the return of the Taliban to power, more than 250,000 Afghan migrants have entered Pakistan, some legally, others without valid passports and visas, according to The Guardian reports.

Since last summer, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry has taken serious steps to arrest undocumented Afghan nationals and forcefully deport them to Afghanistan. It is believed that more than 600 Afghan refugees have been extradited in three days in January alone, and detentions have increased throughout Pakistan.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/over-1600-afghan-nationals-return-to-country-from-iran-afghanistan/

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Africa

 

Jordan’s royal court reveals wedding date of King Abdullah’s daughter Princess Iman

05 March ,2023

Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court announced on Sunday the date of the royal wedding of Princess Iman bint Abdullah II.

The wedding will be held in a week’s time according to a statement by the court.

The RHC said: “The Royal Hashemite Court is pleased to announce that the wedding of Her Royal Highness Princess Iman bint Abdullah II and Mr. Jameel Alexander Thermiotis will take place on 12 March 2023.”

“The Royal Hashemite Court extends its sincere congratulations to Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah on this occasion and wishes Her Royal Highness Princess Iman and Mr. Thermiotis a lifetime of happiness,” the statement added.

The engagement of Princess Iman, the eldest daughter of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, to Jameel Alexander Thermiotis was announced in July 2022.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/05/Jordan-s-royal-court-reveals-wedding-date-of-King-Abdullah-s-daughter-Princess-Iman

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Senegal police release activists and MP arrested at Tunisia embassy

05 March ,2023

More than a dozen activists and a member of parliament arrested Saturday outside the Tunisian embassy in Senegal’s capital were released Sunday, a local official and a defense lawyer said.

Lawyer Moussa Sarr said 14 people including MP Guy Marius Sagna were arrested Saturday and held at the central police station after turning up to deliver letters of protest over recent violence against sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia.

“Guy and the 13 others were released by the police at 5:00 am,” he told AFP on Sunday.

On Saturday, he said they were “arrested for participating in a banned demonstration”.

The prefect of Dakar, Mor Talla Tine, confirmed the arrests and their release Sunday.

Sarr said two journalists had also been arrested but were immediately released.

The incident followed international outcry over a wave of attacks against sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia triggered by a February 21 tirade by Tunisian President Kais Saied.

In the speech, Saied ordered officials to take “urgent measures” to tackle irregular migration, claiming without offering evidence that “a criminal plot” was under way “to change Tunisia’s demographic makeup”.

The Senegal activists belong to several organizations that had called on their members to bring letters of protest to the embassy after Senegalese authorities banned a rally planned for Saturday.

“We... are writing this letter to protest against the hunt for black Africans in Tunisia following the racist and hateful remarks made by the Tunisian president”, said one of the letters an activist shared with AFP.

Since Saied’s speech, rights groups in Tunisia have reported a spike in vigilante violence, including the stabbings of sub-Saharan Africans.

Many lost their jobs and homes overnight.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2023/03/05/Senegal-police-release-activists-and-MP-arrested-at-Tunisia-embassy

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Tunisian labor union holds biggest protest yet against president

04 March ,2023

Tunisia’s powerful UGTT labor union rallied in the capital on Saturday in what appeared to be the biggest protest yet against President Kais Saied, staging a show of strength after his recent crackdown on opponents.

Many thousands of protesters filled Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the main street in central Tunis, holding banners that read “No to one-man rule” and chanting “Freedom! End the police state.”

They were marching after weeks of arrests targeting prominent opponents of Saied, who has staged his first major crackdown since he seized wide-ranging powers in 2021, shutting down parliament and moving to rule by decree.

“We will continue to defend freedoms and rights, whatever the cost. We do not fear prisons or arrests,” UGTT leader Noureddine Taboubi told the crowd.

“I salute the jurists and politicians in Mornaguia prison,” he added, referring to recent detainees.

Hamma Hammami, head of the Workers Party, said protests were the answer to what he called Saied’s “creeping dictatorship.”

“He wants to spread fear but we are not afraid,” he said.

The crackdown is the biggest since Saied’s seizure of powers and his opponents say it is increasingly clear that he has dismantled the democracy won in the 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab Spring and will end the freedoms it brought.

Saied has denied his actions were a coup, saying they were legal and necessary to save Tunisia from chaos.

Crackdown

The UGTT was initially slow to criticize Saied while political parties accused him of staging a coup, but as the president consolidated his grip while ignoring the union and other players, it began to openly challenge him.

A senior union official was detained last month for organizing a strike by highway tollbooth operators, prompting the UGTT’s newspaper to accuse Saied of declaring war on the organization and its million members.

This week authorities barred foreign labor union leaders from entering Tunisia to take part in the rally in solidarity with the UGTT, and Saied said he would not accept foreigners joining protests.

The size of Saturday’s rally underscored that the union remains a powerful adversary that Saied may struggle to bat aside as he moves to sideline other opponents in the wake of a parliamentary election that had very low support.

With Tunisia’s economy in crisis, state finances on the brink of bankruptcy and shortages of key goods, the potential for public anger may grow.

Over recent weeks police have detained more than a dozen prominent opposition figures, mostly tied to the coalition of parties and protesters that is planning to rally on Sunday, accusing them of conspiring against state security.

Those arrested include politicians from the Ennahda, which was the biggest party in the shuttered parliament, leaders of a protest group, the head of Tunisia’s main independent media outlet and a prominent businessman.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2023/03/04/Tunisian-labor-union-holds-biggest-protest-yet-against-president

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Uganda sends 13 tons of aid supplies for Türkiye quake survivors

Hamza Kyeyune  

05.03.2023

KAMPALA, Uganda

Uganda on Sunday sent 13 tons of aid supplies to Türkiye, which was struck by twin earthquakes last month.

“This morning we sent via Turkish Airlines, 13 tons of in-kind aid, including 750 mattresses and 550 blankets donated by our Ugandan friends for the victims of the earthquake. On behalf of the Turkish people, we thank our Ugandan sisters and brothers,” the Turkish Embassy in Kampala said in a statement.

Mehmet Fatih Ak, the Turkish ambassador in Uganda, told Anadolu that Indian community in the East African country played a vital role in the mobilization of relief supplies.

He thanked Turkish Airlines for facilitating the aid delivery, and the Ugandan people who share the pain of the Turkish nation and for their valuable contributions to those who survived one of the deadliest disasters in Türkiye.

Ali Ozdemir, the Turkish Airlines manager in Uganda, said through partnership with the Turkish embassy the national flag carrier contributed air freight capacity to deliver critical supplies to Türkiye.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/uganda-sends-13-tons-of-aid-supplies-for-turkiye-quake-survivors/2837800

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Jordan sends relief plane to quake-affected people in Türkiye

Laith Al-Jnaidi 

06.03.2023

AMMAN, Jordan

Jordan on Monday sent a cargo plane loaded with relief materials to help the victims of twin earthquakes that killed thousands in Türkiye.

The plane was carrying 11 tons of food and health supplies which will be delivered to Hatay province in southern Türkiye, Jordan Hashemite Charitable Organization said in a statement.

"More aid is being worked on during the coming period, which covers the basic needs of the afflicted," Secretary-General Hussein Al-Shibli said in a statement.

Since the second day of the earthquake disaster, Jordan has sent to Türkiye and Syria 13 aid cargo planes, 110 relief trucks, 10 ambulances, and 10,000 tents.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/jordan-sends-relief-plane-to-quake-affected-people-in-turkiye/2838104

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Europe

 

Greece’s foreign minister corrects himself after using wrong name for Istanbul

Tugba Altun 

06.03.2023

Greece’s foreign minister corrected himself after using the wrong name for the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Nikos Dendias said over the weekend on Twitter that he would travel to “Constantinople” to attend a Orthodoxy Patriarchal and Archieratic Divine Liturgy and meet with Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew.

Expectedly, his post received criticism due to his wording, particularly from Turkish people.

However, he used “Istanbul” in his Twitter posts on Sunday.

Dendias on Sunday paid a visit to the Turkish metropolis.

He attended the Feast of Orthodoxy (the Sunday of Orthodoxy) -- the first Sunday of Great Lent -- at the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/greece-s-foreign-minister-corrects-himself-after-using-wrong-name-for-istanbul/2837930

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Bosnia and Herzegovina sends more aid to quake-hit Türkiye

Talha Ozturk  

05.03.2023

Bosnia and Herzegovina continued Sunday to send aid to quake-hit Türkiye.

A donation drive was launched in Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for those affected in the Feb. 6 disaster.

In the city of Banja Luka, the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina collected a truckload of aid materials with the support of volunteers and the United Women's Association.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/bosnia-and-herzegovina-sends-more-aid-to-quake-hit-turkiye/2837787

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Belgian court upholds prisoner swap treaty with Iran

Ömer Tuğrul Çam  

04.03.2023

BRUSSELS

Belgium's Constitutional Court ruled Friday that a prisoner transfer treaty with Iran is legal.

The court rejected an appeal to suspend the treaty with Iran, paving the way for the release of Belgian national Olivier Vandecasteele in exchange for Iranian diplomat Assadolah Assadi, who was convicted in Belgium for a planned bomb attack on the Iranian opposition in France.

But the court ruled that any possible swap involving Vandecasteele and Assadi would be subject to a legal analysis.

Tehran sentenced Vandecasteele in January to 40 years in prison plus 74 lashes and a fine for spying for the US, money laundering and currency smuggling.

The deal between Belgium and Iran was suspended by the Court last year after opponents of the Iranian regime living abroad appealed its legality.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo hailed the decision and said, "we are happy."

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/belgian-court-upholds-prisoner-swap-treaty-with-iran/2836778

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