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Public Humiliation Of Muslim Women: Over 700 Pen Open Letter On Karnataka HC’s Hijab Order Violating The Fundamental Rights Of Muslim Women And Girls

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 February 2022


Signatories to the open letter state the Karnataka High Court order on the hijab row has led to violation of the fundamental rights of Muslim women and girls. (PTI photo)


• Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Threatens To Stop Aurat March On International Women’s Day, With ‘Baton’

• Anti-Muslim Sentiment Spreading In Asia At Alarming Pace With India And Myanmar Being The Two Glaring Examples — Seminar In Istanbul

• Taliban’s Intelligence Services Said Islamic State ‘No Threat’ In Afghanistan

• UAE’s Anti-Terror Stance To Help India Corner Pakistan



• First In Karnataka: Mysuru College Cancels Uniform Rule To Allow Hijabs

• Hijab Not Essential Practice Of Islam: Karnataka Govt To HC

• Muslim leaders criticise the way court’s interim order being implemented

• Hijab Till Qayamat, Says PFI Neta As Outfit Holds Rally In Bengal

• Won’t fight on streets over hijab row, to take legal route: AIMPLB

• Pro-hijab protest: Muslims hold march to Azam Campus in Pune

• Officer who probed Hurriyat terror fund case held by NIA



• Latest Mob Lynching Spurs Action By Pakistani Authorities, But Blasphemy Laws Stand Strong

• Letting Nawaz Sharif leave Pakistan was a mistake, says Imran Khan

• Only politics can keep Pakistan on FATF grey list: Foreign Office

• Pakistan demands justice for victims of Samjhauta Express blasts

• Pakistan to enhance mutual cooperation with EU states based on common interests: COAS



• UK Citizenship-Stripping Powers 'Discriminate Against Muslims' Say UN Experts

• Labelling Political Identity To Islam Fuels Islamophobia: Austrian Scholar

• 'Justice for Hoda': Thousands sign petition for assaulted Muslim teenager in New Zealand

• Macron rejects Mali’s request for immediate withdrawal of Barkhane, Takuba forces

• Afghan refugees deprived of papers fear for future in UK: Lawyers


South Asia

• Ex-Afghan Security Officer Calls On Taliban To Honour Amnesty

• World Bank proposal would shift $600 mln from Afghan trust: Source

• Afghanistan’s Taliban detain Brits, American; reason unclear


Arab World

• Hezbollah says ‘untouched’ drone flew over Israel for 40 minutes: Statement

• Arab Coalition destroys explosives-laden boat launched by Houthis in Red Sea

• US soldiers, YPG/PKK terrorists conduct joint armed exercise in Syria

• Failure to stop Assad’s aid abuses threatens entire region, analysts warn

• Coalition in Yemen launches 18 strikes on Houthis in Marib, Hajjah


Southeast Asia

• Muslim Scholar Against 'Wayang', Indonesia’s Traditional Theatre

• Türkiye, Pakistan, Malaysia Hailed For Fight Against Islamophobia

• Let courts decide on children’s unilateral conversion, says law minister



• Iranian Minister Says, Looking Forward To The Production Of Cinematic Works In Line With The Tenets Of The Islamic System

• Iran Categorically Dismisses Fake News Report on Deal in Vienna Talks

• Minister: Brazil Eyeing to Broaden Trade Cooperation with Iran

• Iran nuclear deal could be agreed very soon, EU official says

• Palestinians offer Jerusalem Friday prayers in solidarity with eviction families

• Hamas warns Israel against crossing red lines in Sheikh Jarrah

• Israeli forces injure scores of Palestinians as clashes break out in West Bank

• Israeli troops unleash military dog on surrendering Palestinian teenager

• Palestine scholars denounce 'kidnapping' of Muslim children by Sweden



• Islamic State-Linked Jihadists Kill At Least 40 Civilians In Mali Amid Turf War

• Mali tells France to pull out troops 'without delay', cites ‘flagrant violations’ of bilateral accords

• Nigerian Muslims denounce Saudi war on Yemen

• Tunisia extends state of emergency until end of 2022

• Niger to host European special forces leaving Mali, confirms president


North America

• US Halts Nearly $160 Mln Aid To Burkina Faso After Finding Military Coup Occurred

• Russian envoy: US occupation must leave Syria, their presence threatens stability in region

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Public Humiliation Of Muslim Women: Over 700 Pen Open Letter On Karnataka HC’s Hijab Order Violating The Fundamental Rights Of Muslim Women And Girls


Signatories to the open letter state the Karnataka High Court order on the hijab row has led to violation of the fundamental rights of Muslim women and girls. (PTI photo)


Nabila Jamal

February 18, 2022

More than 700 people, including lawyers and activists, have written an open letter to the Chief Justice of Karnataka on the misinterpretation of the high court order in the hijab controversy, leading to violation of the fundamental rights of Muslim women and girls.

A delegation of advocates, students, women's rights activists from Bahutva Karnataka, PUCL-K, Dalit Minority Sene, All India Students Association, IISC students and others met the director of the PU board, stating that several PUC colleges are turning away Muslim girl students, in violation of the court’s interim order.

“We explained how the interim order applies only to colleges where CDC has prescribed a dress code and not to colleges which don't have one or where hijab was being previously worn,” a signatory told India Today.

However, Muslim students and staff are facing public humiliation in the wake of the court order, they claimed. Videos have surfaced on social media showing students being asked to remove their hijab and burqa in educational institutions in Karnataka.

"This disrobing of Muslim girls and women in public view is inhuman, derogatory and an affront to the Constitution and amounts to the public humiliation," the letter states.

It goes on to add that the effect of the decision is the pushing of Muslim women out of education, and an exacerbation of the crisis of education in our country.

"The denial of education to women on grounds only of wearing the hijab is not a reasonable or proportionate restriction of their rights. The imposition of an absolute uniformity contrary to the autonomy, privacy and dignity of Muslim women is unconstitutional," it said.

Explaining that exams are ongoing, the signatories demanded that students be allowed to take the exams or the exams be postponed till the court’s final verdict. They also demanded a clarification be sent to all PUC colleges regarding the court’s order on dress code.

The PU board director assured the signatories that he would look into the matter.

Source: India Today

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Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Threatens To Stop Aurat March On International Women’s Day, With ‘Baton’


Image: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters


February 18, 2022

The president of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Islamabad has warned to stop Aurat March, which is scheduled to be held across the country every year on International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8. He has threatened to stop the march with the use “baton”

“If any attempts are made for obscenity on March 8 in Islamabad, we will condemn it,” warned Abdul Majeed Hazarvi, the chief of JUI-F’s Islamabad wing, while addressing a demonstration held in the capital’s D-Chowk in connection with India’s hijab row.

He warned the government that if the march was allowed, “we will [use] baton to stop it”.

Hazarvi said that during Aurat March, “obscenity is spread in the name of women’s rights”.

The latest tirade against the event from the JUI-F comes just a day after Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that anti-Islamic slogans should not be raised on International Women’s Day.

The minister had also suggested celebrating International Hijab Day instead on March 8, in an effort to express solidarity with Muslim women across the globe.

After the letter drew criticism on social media, notably from PPP Senator Sherry Rehman and Pakistan’s former ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, Qadri issued a clarification saying that some political leaders were trying to spread negative propaganda without reading his letter.

At the JUI-F’s demonstration, MNA Shahida Akhtar Ali, who heads the party’s women wing, also spoke about the escalating hijab row in India.

The issue grabbed headlines last month after a government-run school in India’s Karanartaka barred students wearing hijabs from entering classrooms, triggering protests outside the school gate. More schools in the state followed with similar bans, forcing the state’s top court to intervene.

The issue further escalated when a video of a hijab-clad student, Muskan Khan, being heckled and jeered at by a mob of Hindutva supporters in Karnataka surfaced on social media.

“We pay tribute to Muskan Khan,” said Ali at today’s demonstration, condemning the “hatred being directed towards Muslims in India”.

She lamented that hijab was being targeted in India, adding that “we have all gathered here today … to raise voice for hijab.”

“Hijab is our pride, our honour,” she said. “As Muslims, it is obligatory upon us to respect hijab.”

Ali demanded that since the matter held significance for the entire Muslim ummah, it should be raised in the Orga­nisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

She said the opposition to hijab in India was actually “propaganda against Islam, and we will continue to defend the sanctity and honour of hijab”.

JUI-F general secretary Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said, “India has been exposed as its constitution is being violated and rights of minorities trampled.”

He criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and “extremist groups” in India, regretting the “silence of human rights organisations” on the matter.

Haideri also demanded that the “OIC should play its role and raise voice against the atrocities in India”.

It is pertinent to note that Aurat March, which was first held in Karachi in 2018, is now organised in numerous other cities across the country on March 8 every year to celebrate International Women’s Day and highlight the issues women face in Pakistan.

The march has been subjected to criticism earlier as well, in particular for the slogans and placards raised during it. In 2019, the march’s participants in the capital came under attack when male students from Jamia Hafsa took down their tent and hurled stones at them.

Last year, petitions where filed in the Islamabad and Lahore high courts, asking for a ban on the march. But these petitions were dismissed, with courts saying the right to assemble peacefully was guaranteed in the Constitution.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Anti-Muslim Sentiment Spreading In Asia At Alarming Pace With India And Myanmar Being The Two Glaring Examples — Seminar In Istanbul


(Photo: TRT World)


February 19, 2022

Experts at a two-day seminar in Istanbul expressed concerns about the worsening conditions of Muslims in Asia, with India and Myanmar being the two glaring examples of violence against Muslims being normalised.

Political leaders in Asia are exacerbating the problem of anti-Muslim sentiment by giving incendiary speeches for electoral gains, said Hassan Abdein, head of Muslim and Minorities department at OIC, at a two-day international seminar on Muslims and human rights in Istanbul.

Abdein said Asia is capitalism’s new home, and despite it being far more diverse than elsewhere, hosting hundreds of ethnic peoples, it is suffering from dark electoral populism, one of the exploitative effects of globalisation.

Under the garb of national security, he added, Muslims are being targeted and criminalised across the continent.

“Both in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, we see one particular group mobilising hate speech,” said Abdein, referring to Buddhist monks who have openly given calls of genocide against Muslims. 

The academic said that since Buddhists have become a minority in the Hindu dominated subcontinent, they have engineered the narratives of victimhood to mobilise Buddhist populations in Buddhist-majority countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Abdein urged the audience to find ways to stand against this religious warfare, as ignoring anti-Muslims sentiment will only provide aggressors with more space and opportunity.

We need to celebrate the leadership that took concrete steps after the Christchurch Attack, Abdein said. He also applauded the Emergency Meeting held in Istanbul in 2019 to discuss the terrorist attack on the two mosques in New Zealand.

Ambassador Zamir Akram, Former Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the UN, said that despite more than 200 million Muslims living in India, a version of fascism is taking place at the hands of Hindutva.

Millions of Muslims are suffering from religious and racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even genocide.

An esteemed panel of experts, diplomats, community leaders, and activists addressed “The Situation of Muslims in Asia” at the two-day seminar on human rights violations faced by Muslims in Istanbul, February 16-17 2022.

Explaining that the Modi government has been “seducing India on the basis of hate and envy when it comes to Muslims”, Ambassador Zamir said Muslims are facing problems on the pretext of “the slaughter of cows and eating beef, marrying Hindus", while "attacks on mosques, forced conversion to Hinduism, removal of Muslim names from streets, sale of Muslim women on mobile apps and open call for genocide against Muslims” have been normalised in the country's national discourse.

Zamir said that the Modi government is using the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a weapon to disenfranchise the Indian Muslims and force them out of the country.

Although the largest Muslim population is living in Asia, Muslims suffer from social and economic discrimination, and in some Asian countries like Myanmar and India, there is an escalating trend of systemic targeting of Muslim communities, said El Habib Bourane, Director of Muslim Communities and Minorities of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Habib said the OIC has been engaging in constructive dialogue with China for the past three years about the Uighur and Kazakh and Uzbek Muslim minorities.

Explaining that the Uighur's are not left alone in their plight, Habib also urged the OIC member states to build consensus on specific issues.

“The OIC delegations have visited the region twice to understand what is really going on. Until now, the UN has not been allowed to visit the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China,” said Habib, highlighting the importance of building on this dialogue.

Habib also highlighted the OIC’s efforts in Myanmar during the past 20 years, and the steps they have taken, together with the UN and European Union, to advocate for the Rohingya Muslims’ cause.

“Myanmar must fully comply with the provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice,” Habib said, referring to the case of genocide brought against Myanmar by The Gambia at the UN court.

The people of Rohingya have been suffering for almost half a century now, said Reza Uddin, the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee and Council Member of the Arakan Rohingya Union.

“Restriction on religion, marriage, land ownership, deprivation from education and health, gang rape and human trafficking… all these violations are a blueprint of genocide,” he added.

Reza pointed out that Myanmar has been killing hundreds of their own people since the military overthrew the democratically elected government on February 1 2021. This is partly because of the government’s tendency to comply with the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the Rohingya case.

Why do we need to talk about Kashmir?

“Kashmir was known as the paradise in the world, renowned for its extraordinary beauty, but has become a hell for its people,” said Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum. He described Kashmir as “the most beautiful prison on earth.”

“Today Gregory H Stanton, the founder and president of Genocide Watch, warns that Kashmir is on the brink of a genocide,” Fai said.

Fai said Modi's rhetoric on foreign tours is entirely out of step with the reality in India. Giving an example from Modi's 2019 visit to Texas, Fai said Modi lied to the American people by calling India the world's "largest democracy", whilst the headlines from places like Kashmir tell a different story.

Fai gave an example of an article titled “As Kashmir Is Erased, Indian Democracy Dies In Silence”, published by The Huffington Post when Kashmir was under a strict military curfew.

Fai said the human rights situation has deteriorated to dangerous levels in the disputed region,  referring to restrictions on freedom of speech under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a draconian law used by the Indian state against civilians, especially journalists and human rights activists.

The UAPA  legislation allows the Indian government to jail an individual for six months without a trial or bail, stonewalling any judicial intervention. The state often justifies the UAPA by saying the law is used to “prevent terror-related activities, unlawful associations, and activities that may endanger the sovereignty and integrity of India.”

The UN has said that the UAPA utilises “imprecise criteria, contains a vague and overly broad definition of  ‘terrorist act’, allows people to be held in lengthy pre-trial detention and makes securing bail very difficult,” and that the UAPA does not meet international human rights standards.

Khurram Parvez, a well-known human rights activist from Kashmir, was arrested on November 22 2021, under the draconian UAPA. Mary Lawlor, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, called Parvez's arrest "disturbing."

Fai said the news media in Kashmir has been brought to extinction in order to silence dissent, urging the OIC members to initiate a solution. He also demanded the immediate release of political prisoners and the protection of the Kashmiri people before a full-scale genocide takes place.

Source: Trt World

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Taliban’s Intelligence Services Said Islamic State ‘No Threat’ In Afghanistan


Dr Bashir speaks to Nikkei Asia at intelligence headquarters in Jalalabad City, Nangarhar Province. (Photo by Kanika Gupta)


February 19, 2022

JALALABAD: The head of the Taliban’s intelligence services said Islamic State no longer operates in Afghanistan, disputing a United Nations report that states the terrorist group roams freely in the country.

“There is no IS, not just in Nangarhar Province but all of Afghanistan,” said Dr Bashirmal, also known as Dr Bashir, during an interview with Nikkei Asia in the eastern province. He added that the group known as Daesh in the country is not a threat to national security.

The 29th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the UN Security Council – a document compiled by UN experts on IS between June and December – expressed concern about “the potential creation of a safe haven for the terror groups in Afghanistan for terrorist activity”.

IS of Khorasan Province (IS-KP) – the movement’s Afghan chapter – has emerged as a growing threat in the region since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August last year.

Since its inception in 2015, the IS-KP has been an opponent of the US-backed government of deposed president Ashraf Ghani, as well as the Taliban.

Even though the group controls only a small portion of the country, mainly in eastern Afghanistan, it has launched sophisticated attacks, making Afghanistan’s security situation even more fragile.

“Afghanistan is a traditional country and there are different tribes living here,” Bashir said.

“The country is 95% safe under our government’s rule. The remaining 5% are thugs and thieves that were released from prisons when the government was falling, and a lot of weapons ended up in their hands.”

Bashir added that criminal activity is related to “either stealing due to poverty or (people) engaged in personal enmity. They are killing each other and using the name of Daesh. So all these cases are mostly personal enmity rather than an issue of national security.”

But heavily guarded checkpoints manned by the Taliban’s elite forces in Jalalabad City, capital of Nangarhar Province, tell a different story.

“I have been working at this checkpoint for the last two months,” one person said.

“We check for thieves or weapons in these vehicles. Just recently, we arrested some people after we found weapons. We took them for questioning and they later turned out to be members of Daesh.”

The UN estimates that the number of IS-KP members has surged from 2,000 to 4,000 following the release of prisoners, most of them foreign fighters.

Asfandyar Mir, a senior expert at the US Institute of Peace, said the Taliban’s denial of the existence of IS in Afghanistan does not make the “terror group disappear or any less threatening”.

“The IS-KP remains a major threat to both the Taliban and vulnerable religious and ethnic groups in the country,” Mir said.

“The Taliban’s counterinsurgency is indiscriminate and wayward, which is fuelling the threat. The IS is also able to entice those disgruntled with the Taliban, as well as other major terror groups in the country who worry that the Taliban might turn on them, to satisfy the international community.”

There have been several reports of aggrieved Taliban fighters defecting to the IS-KP in recent months. The economic collapse has pushed millions of Afghans into poverty and left former Taliban fighters with no source of income.

Last week US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to free up US$7 billion out of US$9.5 billion of frozen Afghan capital, splitting it between humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and funds for 9/11 victims.

But Mir thinks this is misguided.

“I see the splitting of the funds to keep half for 9/11 victim litigants as morally dubious,” he said.

“To the extent there was a hope that an asset unfreeze will boost the flagging Afghan economy, that is clearly out of question for now. So as the economy and humanitarian crisis gradually deteriorate, (Biden’s order) may have an adverse effect on the country’s security.”

The Taliban have repeatedly committed themselves to the prevention of international threats originating from Afghanistan.

But the panel of experts highlights in the report that “there are no recent signs that the Taliban have taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist fighters in the country. On the contrary, terrorist groups enjoy greater freedom there than at any time in recent history.”

Bashir insists, however, that their leader has directed them to forge diplomatic relations with all countries in the world.

“We want to have good relations with everyone,” he said. “We want to use these good relations to improve our country for its people. We don’t want any party to use Afghanistan to hurt anyone, be it our neighbours or any other country in the world.”

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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UAE’s Anti-Terror Stance To Help India Corner Pakistan


PM Narendra Modi said India will stand shoulder to shoulder with UAE in the fight against terrorism (AFP)


Feb 19, 2022

NEW DELHI: Among the highlights of the India-UAE joint vision statement was the fact that India and UAE reaffirmed their joint commitment to fight against extremism and terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, in all forms, at both regional and international levels. This is important for India as it helps the government corner Pakistan on the issue of cross-border terrorism.

PM Narendra Modi said India will stand shoulder to shoulder with UAE in the fight against terrorism while complimenting the UAE for showing interest in investing in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Following the successful visit of the Lieutenant Governor of J&K to the UAE last month, several Emirati companies have shown interest in investing in J&K,” he said.

“We welcome investment by UAE in all sectors, including logistics, healthcare, hospitality, in Jammu and Kashmir,” Modi added.

The two countries also agreed to enhance maritime cooperation, and to contribute to maintenance of peace and security in the region.

Source: Times Of India

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First in Karnataka: Mysuru college cancels uniform rule to allow hijabs

Feb 19, 2022

BENGALURU/MYSURU: In the first punitive action against students seeking entry into colleges despite the interim order of the Karnataka high court banning hijabs, saffron shawls or any religious clothing inside classrooms in institutes that prescribe a uniform, police on Friday lodged an FIR against about 20 students of a Tumakuru college on charges of violating prohibitory orders.

A historical private college in Mysuru city cancelled its uniform rule on Friday to allow Muslim students to attend classes with the hijab. It is the first college in the state to take such a decision. “Four students refused to attend classes without the hijab and were protesting,” said DK Srinivasa Murthy, DDPU, Mysuru. “Some organisations extended support to them. I visited the college today and held discussions with all. Meanwhile, the college announced that it is cancelling its uniform rule to allow the students to attend classes. ”

The first FIR follows a warning by Karnataka home minister Araga Jnanendra, who has said there would be “no soft approach” anymore and directed cops to take action against those who flout the interim order. The principal of Empress College in Tumakuru, about 70 km from Bengaluru, lodged a complaint with Tumakuru City police against the students for violating prohibitory orders in the past two days.

Source: Times Of India

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Hijab not essential practice of Islam: Karnataka govt to HC

Feb 19, 2022

New Delhi: Defending its orders banning headscarves in classrooms, the Karnataka government on Friday argued before the three-judge bench of the Karnataka high court that wearing hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and preventing it does not violate the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

Advocate general Prabhuling Navadgi, while arguing on behalf of the state, said that the practice of wearing hijab must pass the test of Constitutional morality and individual dignity outlined in Sabrimala verdict by the Supreme Court. He said that the state government has taken the stand that the hijab does not come under the essential religious practices in Islam and preventing its use did not violate Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom.

The AG further said that the state government has ordered that the students should wear uniforms prescribed by colleges and that the government does not want to intervene in religious matters.

While the arguments are set to continue on Monday, advocate Mohammed Tahir made a mention on the Interim Order saying it is causing difficulty for the Muslim community. “An Interim Order was passed considering the law and order situation. It was limited to where CDC has prescribed uniform. But even teachers are not spared. Muslim community members are facing difficulty. Every department is interpreting the order differently. Yesterday, Minority Department passed an order. Even in Urdu colleges it is enforced. Policemen are deployed at gates and are threatening Muslim girls. The order said "classroom". But at gates students are stopped,” Md Tahir said.

Responding to him, Karnataka Chief Justice said the order was very clear. AG added while the petitioner can file an application on this, he said they can give him the details and assured that he will instruct that nobody will be permitted to act beyond the order of the court.

A teacher at Jain PU College in Tumkuru resigned after she was asked not to wear hijab in the class. She said she has been teaching for three years with hijab and now she is not okay being denied her Constitutional right. 

Source: Deccan Chronicle

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Muslim leaders criticise the way court’s interim order being implemented

FEBRUARY 18, 2022

The joint action committee of Muslim organisations in Shivamogga, on Friday, took serious exception to comments made by some people suggesting that those who wish to wear the hijab should be sent to Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference, members of the committee said they were born and brought up in India and would remain Indians forever. “We are Indians and Pakistan is always an opponent for us. But, it seems people like Pramod Mutalik, who often ask us to go to Pakistan, have a special affinity towards that country”, said Moulana Shahul Hameed Musliyar of the committee.

In the last few days, he said, the Muslim girls had not been able to attend classes. The controversy over the hijab had denied them education. The children, who were expected to be in classrooms, had been forced to stand outside. “The hijab is not a new invention. People have been wearing it for ages. We respect the law of the land and court. However, the State Government and education institutes had been denying education to the girl, misinterpreting the interim order of the High Court”, he said.

Source: The Hindu

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Hijab till qayamat, says PFI neta as outfit holds rally in Bengal

Feb 19, 2022

BEHRAMPORE: Students wearing hijabs assembled at a rally in Bengal’s Dhulian, 17 km from Bahutali high school in Suti, five days after the headmaster there had asked students to wear the uniform with white head scarves. Thursday’s rally was organised by PFI, whose national secretary Mohammad Shakif swore by the hijab. “The hijab will be there till qayamat,” he said. TMC MLA Monirul Islam shared the dais with PFI leaders.

Source: Times Of India

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Won’t fight on streets over hijab row, to take legal route: AIMPLB

Feb 19, 2022

LUCKNOW: After disseminating information on the importance of hijab and purdah in Islam, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday decided to take the legal route in the Karnataka hijab row instead of fighting it out on the streets. In a letter to members, AIMPLB general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said the Board’s legal cell held a meet to explore legal remedies.

Source: Times Of India

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Pro-hijab protest: Muslims hold march to Azam Campus in Pune

Feb 18, 2022

By Nadeem Inamdar

Pune: A protest march by Muslim community led by women and young girls under the banner of Kul Jamaat Tanzeem was held at Azam Campus to express solidarity with the college girls in Karnataka who face hijab ban.

The protestors gathered in large numbers and police bandobast was in place at various chowks in Camp, including Kamala chowk and Jyoti Hotel chowk.

Protestors alleged that the police prevented many in Kondhwa, NIBM and other parts of the city from reaching the congregation venue at Azam Campus.

Social activist Sushma Andhare said, “The right wing forces are resorting to creating division between Hindus and Muslims for political means. Wearing hijab is the right of Muslim women guaranteed by the Constitution of the country. The Muslim community is being victimised as part of the long-term planning of right wing aimed at their marginalisation. The protest demanding for their right to wear hijab is the right step in the direction of enforcing the constitutional safeguard guaranteed to the citizens of India.”

Kul Jamaat Tanzeem co-ordinator Zahid Shaikh said, “The protest was organised to send a strong message to the central government about the importance of wearing hijab as per the cultural traditions. We did not get the necessary cooperation from the police who asked us to hold two protests-one in Kondhwa and other at Azam Campus. We request the state government that whatever is happening in Karnataka must not happen in Maharashtra. Wearing of hijab is the constitutional right and the right wing is encroaching on the secular constitution of the country.”

Source: Hindustan Times

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Officer who probed Hurriyat terror fund case held by NIA

Feb 19, 2022

NEW DELHI: An IPS officer, who probed the Hurriyat terror funding case during his stint in NIA and was awarded a police medal for meritorious service in 2017, was arrested by NIA on Friday on the charge of having leaked secret official documents of the agency to an alleged overground worker of the Lashkar-e-Toiba in Jammu and Kashmir.

Arvind Digvijay Negi, who was on deputation to NIA and posted at its headquarters here, was repatriated last year to Himachal Pradesh, his home cadre state where he was posted as Superintendent of Police, Shimla.. This is the first arrest of an IPS officer by NIA.

NIA had in November 2021 raided Negi’s residential premises after investigations pointed to his role in leaking NIA’s official papers to Kashmiri ‘rights activist’ Khurram Parvez, arrested around the same time on charges of providing support to LeT in planning and execution of terrorist activities in India. Negi, incidentally, was part of the NIA team that had raided Parvez’s house in November 2020, though he was not arrested then.

Apart from Parvez, five other accused persons have been arrested in the LeT OGW network case registered by NIA in November last year.

Sources told TOI that Negi had shared with Parvez some leads relating to NIA. The overground worker of LeT, in turn, passed on the information he procured from Negi to suspected LeT handlers. This is believed to have been corroborated by forensic examination of Negi’s phone and mails, based on which Negi was also questioned by NIA.

An NIA spokesperson, however, declined to share details of the exact charges against Negi.

Source: Times Of India

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UK citizenship-stripping powers 'discriminate against Muslims' say UN experts

By Simon Hooper

18 February 2022

United Nations (UN) human rights experts have told the UK government that its use of citizenship-stripping powers is likely discriminatory and unlawful because of its disproportionate impact on Muslim and migrant communities.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss made public on Wednesday, five UN special rapporteurs also expressed concern about government efforts to extend the powers in the controversial Nationality and Borders Bill.

The proposed legislation, contained in clause nine of the bill, would allow the government to remove someone’s citizenship without any requirement to notify them.

The existing powers have been used extensively in recent years, mostly against British nationals who travelled to Syria during the country’s civil war.

Those targeted include people accused of travelling to join the Islamic State (IS) group.

But Middle East Eye exclusively reported in 2017 that British aid workers had also been deprived of their citizenship.

In their letter, the special rapporteurs said that the government’s existing use of the powers was likely discriminatory because of their disproportionate impact on “people from non-white racial and ethnic backgrounds, and especially people from Muslim and migrant communities”.

The letter is signed five rapporteurs: E. Tendayi Achiume Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Siobhan Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; and Melissa Upreti, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls

They cited figures suggesting that two in five people from non-white backgrounds could be at risk of losing their citizenship, compared with one in 20 among white people.

“Such disproportionate impacts will likely constitute prohibited discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, as well as other grounds such as religion,” the special rapporteurs wrote.

It is illegal under international law to deprive someone of citizenship if they do not hold another citizenship or an alternative entitlement to citizenship.

The special rapporteurs said they were concerned that citizenship-stripping powers “may be used disproportionately against people from Muslim communities”, and reiterated concerns about the UK government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy.

'Anti-Muslim panic'

They cited a 2016 UN Human Rights Committee report which warned that Prevent had “created an atmosphere of suspicion towards members of Muslim communities” and criticised counter-terrorism measures which led to profiling based on ethnicity and religion.

They also cited a 2019 report on the UK by Special Rapporteur Achiume that said that counter-extremism policies had played a part in “amplifying and legitimating anti-Muslim panic, and even Islamophobia”.

Those concerns were rejected at the time by the British government which denies that Prevent disproportionately targets Muslims and says the strategy “addresses all forms of terrorism”.

But the special rapporteurs wrote that “this persistent pattern of difference in treatment could indicate that the deprivation of citizenship from British Muslims is motivated by political and/or discriminatory factors".

The letter is published in the same week that Ni Aolain lent her support to a new report on Prevent which found that the strategy was discriminatory against Muslims and had led to abuses of children's rights.

They also warned against the use of citizenship-stripping powers against women and girls, noting that they faced specific risks based on their sex and gender.

The UK government has removed the citizenship of several women currently being held in camps in Syria for the families of suspected IS fighters.

Those affected include Shamima Begum, who travelled to Syria aged 15. Last year the Supreme Court ruled Begum could not return to the UK to appeal against the decision because of national security considerations.

“States must be mindful of the potential for coercion, co-option, trafficking, enslavement, sexual exploitation, and harm on joining or being associated with nonstate armed groups, online grooming and recruitment for marriage, sexual or household services or labour for the organisation,” the special rapporteurs wrote.


The Nationality and Borders Bill is currently being scrutinised in the House of Lords, the upper house of the UK parliament, where the government’s use of citizenship-stripping powers has been likened to “the ancient practice of banishment”.

Proposed amendments to the bill have included the withdrawal of clause nine and measures to curtail existing powers allowing citizenship to be revoked based on the Home Secretary’s assessment that a person’s presence in the country is “not conducive to the public good”.

‘The Government must remove clause nine from the Nationality and Borders Bill and stop stripping people of citizenship without due process,’ said Emily Ramsden, senior officer in migration and citizenship at Rights and Security International, a human rights advocacy group.

“No one should be stripped of their right to have human rights under vague laws that could allow decisions based on racism, Islamophobia, or other discriminatory stereotypes – and potential victims of trafficking should be helped, not punished.”

Source: Middle East Eye

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Labelling political identity to Islam fuels Islamophobia: Austrian scholar

February 18, 2022

European countries are creating politically loaded terminologies to target civilian Muslims and justify ban on hijab and halal, says the renowned scholar who once faced an anti-terror raid.

A celebrated Austrian political scientist who was targeted in a controversial anti-terrorism raid on Muslims by his own government two years ago said on Thursday that the growing Islamophobia worldwide is being fuelled by European nations that label Islam as a political identity to justify their ban on mosques, hijab, halal or circumcision.

Farid Hafez, a widely respected scholar who has written extensively on Islamophobia, was speaking through video conference at a conclave on human rights violations faced by Muslims worldwide, especially in Europe. Hafez, 41, teaches political science at the University of Salzburg, and is also associated with Georgetown University's The Bridge Initiative, a research project on Islamophobia.

Hazez  argued that one of the major problems that Muslims face today is “the weaponisation of political Islam” through which countries create terminalogies to target Muslims—Austria’s political Islam, France’s Islamist seperatism and Germany’s legalist Islamism.

“They are against Islam and nothing else,” the academic said.

Islamophobia is not only about having a bad image of Islam, said Fared, explaining that these European governments use anti-terrorism laws to clamp down on Muslims, jeopardising not only their freedom of speech but also freedom of association.

The Muslim Austrian academic, whose house was raided on November 9, 2020 as part of the Austrian goverment’s anti-terrrorism “Operation Luxor”, said that nowadays even talking about islamophobia is criminalised and considered as instigating terrorism.

“What is really at stake here? It is a question of power,” Hazez said, adding that the European governments do not know how to govern their own Muslim populations today.

Explaining that these governments have been used to handling poor working-class immigrants — people who could be subordinated for the past 40 years—Farid said now these European countries are faced with a new generation of Muslims who have full capacity to participate in the European political landscape as active citizens.

There is a growing Muslim population in Europe and the far-right’s “superficial solution” to this problem is to drive out the people so as to avoid committing outright genocide, Hafez added.

Source: Trt World

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'Justice for Hoda': Thousands sign petition for assaulted Muslim teenager in New Zealand

By Rayhan Uddin

18 February 2022

Thousands have signed a petition seeking justice for a Muslim student in New Zealand who had her hijab ripped off in an alleged hate crime.

Hoda al-Jamaa, 17, suffered a concussion last Wednesday when her hijab was removed by three girls at the Otago Girls' High School in Dunedin.

"Two of the girls held me and one hit me and after I fell on the ground, she ... was still hitting my face and my body. I was waiting for the teacher to help me," Jamaa told local publisher RNZ.

She said the girls took off her hijab and filmed her, and that the video had now been shared with boys and girls in the school. She added that the perpetrators attempted to do the same to two of her friends.

"My hijab... is my culture and my religion. My hijab is everything for me and I love my hijab and those other girls love their hijabs."

Local police said they had identified the girls involved in the incident and had launched an investigation.

"This altercation has caused significant disquiet and distress for the girls, their families, and the wider Muslim community," police were quoted as saying. 

"Violence or threatening behaviour including any involving hate, hostility, or prejudice regarding race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age is not acceptable."

The school released a lengthy statement saying it had "no tolerance for unkind comments, racism, bullying or any other form of discrimination".

'Justice for Hoda'

The incident sparked local and international media attention, with a petition calling for justice receiving nearly 60,000 signatures in two days.

Several social media users shared the hashtag #JusticeforHoda to highlight the incident and condemn Islamophobia in the country.

On 15 March 2019, 51 people were killed in Christchurch when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre.

Palestinian-Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid shared the campaign on her Instagram feed on Thursday.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Macron rejects Mali’s request for immediate withdrawal of Barkhane, Takuba forces

Aurore Bonny


French President Emmanuel Macron rejected on Friday Malian authorities' demand to withdraw French anti-terrorist forces Barkhane and Takuba “without delay" from Malian territory. 

"We have announced the re-articulation of the device and it will be applied in good order to ensure the security of the UN mission and all forces deployed in Mali. I will not compromise for a second on their security," Macron said at a news conference at the end of the 6th EU-African Union summit in Brussels.

Macron believes that "all this should be done with respect because for nine years France has been helping Mali, equipping, training and accompanying the Malian armies as well as the armies of the region."

He indicated that the French device will be rearranged a few kilometers from the border in Niger and "that in the future" France will "always have a vocation to find cooperation to fight terrorism."

The French response followed an announcement by Mali's transitional authorities after France and its European partners’ decision to gradually withdraw from the West African country.

Mali’s government demanded a withdrawal of the Barkhane and Takuba anti-terror forces "under the supervision of the Malian authorities.”

It considers the disengagement of France and its partners as "flagrant violations" of legal agreements between the two countries.

The results achieved and officially announced by France have been unsatisfactory, including Operation Serval launched in 2013, according to Col. Abdoulaye Maiga, the junta’s spokesman.

Despite the French and international military presence from 2013 to 2021, "Mali has risked partition," he said in a statement Friday, noting that "the terrorist threat initially localized in the north has spread throughout the territory."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Afghan refugees deprived of papers fear for future in UK: Lawyers

February 18, 2022

LONDON: Afghan refugees evacuated from Kabul fear they will soon be treated like illegal immigrants because they have not received updated papers, their lawyers have said, adding that it is unclear how many are missing documents required to work legally and rent homes.

Temporary visas are due to expire within days, leaving the refugees potentially vulnerable, but the Home Office has said the lawyers’ warnings are “needless scaremongering,” the BBC reported on Friday.

British and other NATO armed forces evacuated around 15,000 Afghans from Kabul last year as the country fell to the Taliban.

Those evacuees were granted temporary visas lasting six months, with a view to being given the right to settle later — a commitment that still stands.

But the Law Society, which represents solicitors, said firms across Britain are now receiving calls for help from people whose temporary legal status expires in the coming week — meaning they have no means of proving they are lawfully in the country.

The Afghans, who either worked alongside NATO forces or are the families of people who did, say they have not received any updated papers and have not been able to get answers from officials.

It is not known how many are affected, and ministers have declined to reveal in Parliament how many Afghans have so far been issued permanent status.

Without such papers they will be unable to work, rent homes, open a bank account or use the National Health Service.

“The Home Office must urgently provide every one of these people with evidence of their continued right to work, study and rent accommodation,” said I. Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society.

“The UK’s ‘warm welcome’ is meaningless if the government does not provide concrete assurances which could allay the fears of thousands of people and give them the legal certainty they need.”

The Home Office said Afghans had received verbal reassurances that their paperwork would eventually come.

Source: Arab News

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South Asia


Ex-Afghan security officer calls on Taliban to honour amnesty

18 February, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], February 18 (ANI): An ex-security forces employee of the former Afghan government on Thursday urged the Taliban to respect the general amnesty announced by them after they took over the war-torn nation in August last year.

Javad Jafari pleaded with the Taliban to honour amnesty after he was released by the Taliban. He was detained by the Taliban for 5-days without committing any crime, reported Tolo News.

“I was detained by the Islamic Emirate for five days. The misunderstanding they had was resolved,” Jafari said.

Jafari, 35, is the only breadwinner for his family of six members. He, like thousands of other former security forces, became jobless after Kabul fell to the Taliban, reported Tolo News.

“I am very happy that my father is released. We call on the Islamic Emirate to provide job opportunities for my father,” said Ali Sajad, Jafari’s son.

“The detention of these officers after the announcement of the general amnesty is an act against Islamic values and will form a gap between the government and the people,” said Mohammad Matin Mohammad Khail, a military veteran.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Taliban denied the detention of Jafari but said they will pursue the issue.

“We will investigate. Who is he and where he was arrested–and this is a wrong allegation that he was arrested because he was a former member of the (security forces),” said Taliban’s Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

Source: The Print

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World Bank proposal would shift $600 mln from Afghan trust: Source

18 February ,2022

The World Bank’s management has signed off on a proposal that would repurpose $600 million of the just over $1 billion left in a frozen trust fund to benefit Afghan education, families and communities, a source familiar with the plan said.

The board of the World Bank is due to discuss the proposal on March 1, with a final decision on disbursement of the funds left up to the donors of Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which is administered by the bank, the source said.

The funds would be disbursed by various United Nations agencies, including UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization, amid escalating concerns about the collapsing Afghan economy, the source said.

Donors to the trust fund in December approved the transfer of $280 million from the trust to the World Food Program and UNICEF to support nutrition and health in Afghanistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the UN Security Council last month to free up the remaining $1.2 billion in the fund to help Afghanistan’s people survive the winter.

The fresh funds will help support food security, health and education programs in Afghanistan as it sinks into a severe economic and humanitarian crisis. The crisis accelerated in August when the Taliban overran the country as the Western-backed government collapsed and the last US and allied troops withdrew.

The United States and other donors cut off the financial aid that had kept Afghanistan running during 20 years of war after the Taliban takeover.

The United Nations is warning that nearly 23 million people – about 55 percent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold in the impoverished country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Afghanistan’s Taliban detain Brits, American; reason unclear

18 February ,2022

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have detained several British citizens and an American, including a former freelance television journalist who has been coming to Afghanistan for more than 40 years, both governments and a family member say.

A statement from the British government this week said there are a number of British nationals currently in Taliban custody. While the government refused to release their identities, Hassina Syed, the wife of Peter Jouvenal, a former freelance cameraman turned businessman, told The Associated Press, her husband was taken on Dec. 13.

And US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Washington was “actively working” to get the American released from Taliban custody. He refused to say more, citing the “sensitivity of it.”

The American detainee and at least four other British nationals in custody remain publicly unidentified. It was not clear how many were detained together.

Speaking to The AP by phone from her home in London, Syed, an Afghan, said her husband was in Afghanistan investigating business opportunities, including investment in lithium mining. Afghanistan is rich in lithium, a key component of energy-storage batteries. He was traveling alone and not associated with the other detainees, she said.

Jouvenal had worked as a freelance cameraman during the 1980s Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and followed the country through its many wars.

He married Syed and they have three daughters.

Jouvenal, who speaks both Pashto and Dari, Afghanistan’s two official languages, had held several meetings with the Taliban’s mining ministry before being detained in December, Syed said, including with the minister. No charges have been filed and until his detention, Syed said, Jouvenal had been careful to stay in regular contact with the Taliban authorities to ensure that they were aware of his activities and movements.

In the mid 2000s, Jouvenal owed and operated the Gandamak Restaurant and guest house in the Afghan capital, which had become well known among the many journalists who traveled to Afghanistan during the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban government in 2001.

The Taliban did not respond to requests for comment on the foreign nationals and on Jouvenal in particular.

In a statement, the British foreign office said the detention of British nationals is being discussed with the Taliban.

“UK officials have raised their detention with the Taliban at every opportunity, including when a delegation travelled to Kabul last week,” the British foreign office said in a statement earlier this week.

There’s been no explanation for the detentions.

Syed said her husband was alone and was not travelling with the other men who have been detained.

According to people with direct knowledge of the men currently being held in Taliban custody, at least two of the detainees were apparently in Afghanistan to secretly evacuate Afghan nationals. The people with direct knowledge spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

The Taliban have made it clear that Afghans without proper documents would not be allowed to leave the country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab World


Hezbollah says ‘untouched’ drone flew over Israel for 40 minutes: Statement

18 February ,2022

The Israeli army said Friday that it activated the Iron Dome and scrambled fighter jets but failed to intercept a drone from Lebanon, which was later claimed by Iran-backed Hezbollah.

This was the second incident in as many days and comes after Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah said the group was making its own drones in Lebanon.

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Air raid sirens were sounded, sending residents into bomb shelters after “a radio-controlled aircraft crossed into Israeli airspace from Lebanon,” the Israeli army said in a statement.

“As a result... aerial defense systems were activated” and “after a few minutes, radar contact was lost with the aircraft,” it added, indicating that the drone was not intercepted.

Hezbollah later released a statement saying the drone named “Hassan” entered Israeli airspace on a reconnaissance mission for around 40 minutes before returning “untouched.”

But Israeli fighter jets were heard over Beirut late Friday, according to local residents.

The Israeli army had announced on Thursday it had shot down a drone that it said was launched into Israeli airspace by Hezbollah.

That came a day after Nasrallah had boasted about his organization’s new drone and missile capabilities.

In a speech, Nasrallah said “it is no secret to the Israelis... that we have the capacity to transform our missiles into precision missiles.”

“In Lebanon, for a long time, we have started to manufacture drones. Whoever wants to buy them can place an order,” he declared.

Lebanon and Israel are in a state of war and drones have become a regular feature of their heavily guarded border.

In January, Israeli security sources claimed that drones captured after being flown across the frontier from Lebanon had provided insights into Hezbollah’s growing aerial surveillance capabilities.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab Coalition destroys explosives-laden boat launched by Houthis in Red Sea

18 February ,2022

The Arab Coalition destroyed an explosives-laden boat launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis in the south of the red sea, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The coalition added that the boat came from Yemen’s main Red Sea port of Hodeidah.

“The Houthi’s use of Hodeidah port threatens freedom of navigation and global trade,” the Arab Coalition said in a statement carried by SPA.

The Houthis have launched several attacks directed at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, the UAE called for “ending the appeasement of the Iran-backed Houthi militia” during a UN Security Council briefing on Yemen.

Commenting on the Houthis militia’s alleged use of Hodeidah port to store weapons, the UAE permanent representative to the UN, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh called on the body to have presence in the port to prevent using it to serve military purposes and to launch attacks that threaten the security of navigation and countries in the region.

In January, the UAE-flagged ship Rwabee was seized by the Houthis off Hodeidah.

At the time, the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) expressed “great concern” over claims that the Houthis were militarizing the port, stating that the port was vital for the impoverished country and demanding an inspection.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US soldiers, YPG/PKK terrorists conduct joint armed exercise in Syria

Mohamad Misto and Ethem Emre Ozcan



The US soldiers and YPG/PKK terrorists are carrying out a joint armed exercise in eastern Syria, local sources said Friday.

US troops launched the armed training with YPG/PKK terrorists in the morning in and around the industrial zone located in the Abu Khashab desert, northwest of Deir ez-Zor province, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity over security concerns.

Combat aircraft and helicopters, as well as several tanks and armored vehicles are joining the exercise.

The YPG/PKK terrorists will get training on using mortars, artillery fire, and guided anti-tank missiles during the exercise, which some troops from the Global Coalition Against Daesh/ISIS are participating in.

In December 2021, US troops conducted joint armed exercises with the YPG/PKK terrorists in the desert.

Previous trainings given to terrorists

The US and France, which are part of the coalition against the terror group Daesh/ISIS, have previously supported YPG/PKK terrorists in Al-Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor, east of the Euphrates River, with various armed trainings and exercises.

In Al-Hasakah, the Mount Abdulaziz and Sports Complex areas besides some US bases, and the Omar Oil Field area in Deir ez-Zor have become training areas.

In the previous trainings, weapon employment, methods of capturing positions determined by uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the ground, mortar attacks, artillery fire, airborne landings, and preventing attacks on bases were explained to terrorists in practice.

In the sports complex in Al-Hasakah, which serves as a runway for US helicopters, YPG/PKK terrorists are also given practical airborne training.

The French soldiers, who were already acting under the auspices of the US in Syria, had given artillery fire training to YPG/PKK terrorists.

Hence, the US and the coalition forces it leads have provided armed training to thousands of YPG/PKK terrorists since 2015.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Failure to stop Assad’s aid abuses threatens entire region, analysts warn

February 19, 2022

NEW YORK: Syrian authorities have grown more skilled at manipulating international aid during 11 years of conflict, according to a newly published report by the Center for Strategic and International Study, an independent think tank in Washington.

It said that the regime of Syrian President Basher Assad has turned billions of dollars in foreign assistance, intended to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, into a lasting “profit center” used to reward loyalists and punish the opposition.

The 70-page report, titled Rescuing Aid in Syria, states that those who are benefiting from international aid to the country are the same people who created the humanitarian crisis in the first place. It is based on interviews with 130 UN officials, aid workers, analysts, diplomats, field monitors and mediators involved in the Syrian conflict.

They said the Assad regime has tightened its grip on aid agencies in a number of ways, including through visa approvals, and is diverting assistance for its own gain in the areas it controls and restricting international access to areas it does not.

It also threatens, tortures and arbitrarily detains Syrian aid staff and withholds basic goods and services, including food and clean water, from millions of Syrians in rebels-held areas as a tactic of war, the report added.

Failure to reverse this damage could push the entire region to the brink of despair, it warned, as it called on Western donor governments to break the cycle of abuse — and do it soon as time is running out.

Syria is at a turning point, according to the report, with the number of vulnerable people in need rising amid a tacit acknowledgment that Assad will remain in power and a push, mostly by regime ally Russia, to move to a reconstruction phase, without any reforms to humanitarian assistance and without addressing any of the myriad issues affecting the country, including displacement.

Aid advocates fear that more international money will be used as a weapon of war by the regime.

“For a long time, diplomacy has stalled and aid has been used essentially as a containment strategy by Western governments, or even just kind of a pat on the back, to think they’re doing something for one of the world’s worst humanitarian and displacement crises since the Second World War,” report author Natasha Hall told Arab News.

“With rising needs and with no end in sight, really, to the core causes of the conflict, if the international community decides that aid and diplomacy is the way forward for Syria then we need to essentially start treating it like it’s the main course.”

Since the start of the war, western donor governments — the EU, the US and Canada — have sent more than $40 billion in aid to Syria. Billions more continues to make its way to the country. Yet despite 11 years of generous payments, every part of Syria continues to suffer and for millions of people life feels ever more hopeless.

More than 12 million Syrians now struggle to find a meal, with the number increasing by 50 percent between 2020 and 2021. Water shortages and a prolonged drought have led to depleted wheat harvests, and had a devastating effect on the livelihoods of millions and exacerbated food insecurity across the country.

In the government-held northeast, people are moving to camps for displaced persons not to flee fighting but to escape poverty and hunger. Children increasingly are suffering from stunted development. A coordinator with one nongovernmental organization said its workers are reporting alarming malnutrition figures.

“If the borders were opened tomorrow, millions more would spill across, fleeing relentless insecurity, hunger and a devastating drought,” the report warns.

The Assad regime has a long history of facing accusations that it is manipulating foreign aid. It is accustomed to working with international NGOs and UN agencies, dating back to when it oversaw the Palestinian and Iraqi refugee crises.

When pro-democracy protests began in 2011, therefore, the regime “pretty much off the bat knew how to establish their own red lines, so they ensured the Syrian Arab red crescent would be the primary implementer and deliverer of all aid,” said Hall.

“They also threatened and co-opted and surveilled international aid workers that were talking out or talking too much about manipulation, diversion, the hampering of aid delivery. Those were PNG’d (declared persona non grata) and thrown out of the country. In this way, they were able to essentially control the aid apparatus. But today it is a bit more insidious.”

Hall said the regime is deliberately starving opposition-held areas while food and other life-saving essentials are left sitting in warehouses, and refusing to allow opposition-linked NGOs to distribute aid.

She called on Western donor governments to break the cycle of abuse through a coordinated, comprehensive and informed approach that includes independent monitoring. Only these governments have the power to do this “because they are the donors,” Hall said, given that the Syrian regime “impedes monitoring when it wants and needs to,” and the threat of coercion and murder that hangs over aid workers has prevented UN agencies from monitoring aid.

“I think it’s time to assess if aid is helping the people that are actually in dire need and if it’s not, then who is it helping?” she said of the challenge facing Western donors as talk continues about opening Syria up.

Neglecting to address this question, Hall added, will affect not only Syria but spill over to the wider region. The sight of desperate Syrians fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh or Libya, or Daesh cells forming and striking, can already be seen.

Source: Arab News

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Coalition in Yemen launches 18 strikes on Houthis in Marib, Hajjah

February 19, 2022

RIYADH: The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said it had launched 18 operations targeting the Iran-backed Houthi militia in the Yemeni provinces of Marib and Hajjah in the past 24 hours.

The coalition said casualties were inflicted on several Houthi militants and 13 military vehicles had been destroyed, Saudi state TV reported on Friday.

Meanwhile, the coalition said it destroyed an explosive-laden boat belonging to the Houthi militia in the southern Red Sea from the port of Hodeidah.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


Muslim scholar against 'wayang', Indonesia’s traditional theatre


by Mathias Hariyadi

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – According to a Muslim cleric, Indonesia’s traditional puppet theatre should be outlawed.

"Wayang should be destroyed,” said Khalid Basalamah, when someone asked him what Islamic teaching said about this local tradition.

Wayang is not just a form of entertainment. Young and old alike love to watch performances, which usually take place from midnight to dawn, also because of the folk wisdom and philosophical teachings they impart.

There are two types of performances: wayang orang, with living actors who must excel in Javanese language and dance, and wayang kulit, played by puppets handled by the dalang, the puppet master, who also leads the musical band that accompanies the show.

This traditional form of theatre originated in India and was imported to Indonesia in the 4th century AD as Hinduism spread to the archipelago. Today the local Catholic Church makes extensive use of it.

Fr Agustinus Handi Setyanto, a priest in the Diocese of Purwokerto and rector of the seminary in Tegal, a city in central Java, is a dalang of wayang wahyu, a new form of theatre that incorporates Bible stories. He is concerned about comments that devalue this form of art.

“As far as I'm concerned, the wayang wahyu is important because I can spread Catholic teachings through the nation’s most popular and entertaining puppet show,” he told AsiaNews.

“The (Second) Vatican Council told us that every form of knowledge and culture should be respected and preserved,” he added. “As stated in Gaudium et Spes n. 58, the Catholic Church should cement her union with all local cultures so that both parties can enrich each other.”

The wayang wahyu began to spread in the 1960s thanks to Brother Timotius Wignyosoebroto, but gained great popularity thanks to Fr Wiyono, a priest from the Archdiocese of Semarang in Yogyakarta.

Source: Asia News

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Türkiye, Pakistan, Malaysia hailed for fight against Islamophobia

February 17, 2022

Speakers at an international conference in Istanbul have commended Türkiye, Pakistan and Malaysia for their relentless efforts against the scourge of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crimes, with Ankara offering to share its "knowledge and experience" with other members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

"As an organisation (OIC), we need to work together, increase collaboration and use our platform more effectively," Türkiye's deputy justice minister Yakup Mogul told a conference on Wednesday.

Muslim nations need to support people who are facing discrimination around the world, he told delegates gathered to discuss human rights violations faced by Muslims, adding Türkiye was ready to "share our knowledge and experience" with other OIC countries.

"If we don’t take steps, it would get worse," Mogul said, referring to the occupation of Palestine's lands and Myanmar’s brutal uprooting of ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

The two-day event is jointly hosted by Türkiye's justice and foreign ministries and the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of OIC.

Responding to Islamophobic incidents in Europe, he said: "We should not allow Europe to become a place that is not peaceful for Muslims" while calling for "effective" UN and OIC systems.

Legal safeguards

Haci Ali Acikgul, the chairperson of the OIC's IPHRC, said the Muslim bloc and its human rights body have remained vocal in "condemning hate-motivated acts against Muslims around the world, from Palestine to Kashmir, Nagorno Karabakh, India, Sri Lanka, France, New Zealand, Central African Republic, and Myanmar."

Islamophobia, he said, has "transformed into a systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric of right-wing extremists propagated to achieve well-defined political gains."

Acikgul said the IPHRC has proposed a comprehensive anti-Islamophobia strategy for the OIC, but given the scale of the challenge "efforts of the OIC and IPHRC alone are not enough."

"It requires concerted collaborative efforts by states, civil society, intelligentsia and media," he noted while praising the leadership of Türkiye, Pakistan and Malaysia for their "laudable efforts that provided a sense of direction and required political impetus to the ongoing efforts at the global scale."

"We support their call for instituting legal safeguards aimed at protecting the sensitivities of all religious groups and galvanising OIC's collective efforts to project the true image of Islam and its message of peace and tolerance," he said.

Acikgul said Islamophobia has "transformed into a systematic anti-Muslim rhetoric of right-wing extremists propagated to achieve well-defined political gains."

Studies show that far-right and anti-Muslim movements have gained ground around the world, especially in Europe as the refugee crisis has triggered nationalism across the continent.

Palestinian official highlights discord within OIC

"There is inconsistency in our positions and actions as the members of the OIC are not acting in unison," said Ammar Hijazi, Palestine's assistant minister for multilateral affairs, while decrying the decision of some nations to normalise ties with Israel.

However, he stressed that "we seek solutions based on respect, dialogue and harmony," calling for solidary and support for the Palestinian people.

People of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) "are victims of double standards and discrimination at a larger scale," said Huseyin Isiksal, special adviser to the TRNC president on international relations and diplomacy.

However, he asserted that Turkish Cypriots "will never give up our rights (as) we are not a minority but equal to Greek Cypriots."

Source: Trt World

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Let courts decide on children’s unilateral conversion, says law minister

Jason Thomas

February 18, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The court system is the best avenue for single mother Loh Siew Hong to find a solution to her three children’s unilateral conversion to Islam, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today.

Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin yesterday confirmed that the state’s religious department had registered Loh’s three children as Muslims upon the request of their father three years ago, a move which has been decried by civil liberty groups and religious bodies.

“As far as I am concerned, the final arbitrator is the court,” Wan Junaidi told FMT.

“People can just go to court and ask for a court order. The court will listen to the argument of the Perlis mufti or the other side.

“That is the only way out. Because in Malaysia’s democratic process, arbitration is by the court (system).”

Wan Junaidi was asked what steps the federal government would take to ensure state laws are consistent with a 2018 Federal Court landmark ruling that consent from both parents was mandatory when it came to the conversion of minors.

Wan Junaidi was speaking to FMT on the sidelines of a forum on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the federal government and Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Stressing that religion is under the purview of states, Wan Junaidi said that “the only federal matter here” is the court system.

“So if they can go to court, the court will decide,” he said.

Asri yesterday said the conversion of Loh’s children is legal under Perlis law as under a 2016 Perlis Islamic enactment by the state assembly, either the father, mother, or a guardian can convert their minors to Islam.

“Other states might be different, but only one parent is enough in Perlis. And in this case, the children’s father wanted his kids to be converted to Islam,” the mufti said in an online ceramah last night.

Loh, who obtained sole custody and guardianship of the children from the Kuala Lumpur High Court last year, had not met her children for the past three years as she was recovering at a domestic abuse shelter.

After lodging a missing person’s report to ascertain her children’s whereabouts, police told her that the children were under the care of the religious authorities in Perlis.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Iranian Minister Says, Looking Forward To The Production Of Cinematic Works In Line With The Tenets Of The Islamic System

February 18, 2022

He made the remarks in a meeting with the Board of Trustees of Iran’s Farabi Cinema Foundation (FCF) on Wednesday, Mehr reported on Friday.    

“In the coming years, we are looking forward to the production of cinematic works in line with the tenets of the Islamic system, with productions of the same quality as the Islamic Revolution,” the minister added.

A national cinema institution such as the Farabi Cinema Foundation plays a significant role in strengthening the Iranian-Islamic film industry, he noted.

The Iranian cinema should be helped by the cooperation and mutual assistance of the economy and culture, and the board of trustees of the foundation should exploit its maximum operational and executive capabilities, he explained.

Taking steps to promote Iranian cinema can be made possible with the cooperation of the related organization, he mentioned.

Speaking at the meeting, FCF Managing Director Seyyed Mehdi Javadi highlighted the most recent trends in world cinema and cultural and economic characteristics.

He also pointed to the position of Iranian cinema in terms of production and economy in the region and explained what the foundation’s future plans will be.

Source: Tehran Times

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Iran Categorically Dismisses Fake News Report on Deal in Vienna Talks


"It is only meant to boost the position of the western parties to the talks and has nothing to do with what is happening on the ground in the Austrian capital," Khatibzadeh said while rejecting a report by Reuters news agency about a deal having been drafted in the Vienna talks on the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On Thursday, the Reuters claimed that it had gained access to a 20-page draft agreement allegedly clinched by the participants in the Vienna talks, which stipulates a sequence of steps to be implemented once it has been approved by the remaining parties to the deal.

The news agency further claimed that the agreement starts with a phase, including Iran suspending enrichment above 5% purity and other measures such as unfreezing of about $7 billion in Iranian funds stuck in South Korean banks under US sanctions.

Reuters also claimed that the draft also includes the release of a number of Iranian nationals, who also hold American and European citizenships and have been sentenced to jail terms on grounds of taking measures against the country’s national security.

The Reuters report also alleged that the draft has also noted that the removal of some particularly sensitive sanctions could also require Iranian and US officials to meet directly, which has so far been categorically rejected by Iranian officials.

Later on Thursday, Iran’s Nour News website, which is close to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), carried out a report refuting the Reuters claim and stressing that it only aims to depict a false image of what is going on in Vienna in order to boost the Western parties’ standing in the negotiations and prove that they have gained major concessions from the Iranian side.

“Iran has stated from the beginning that as long as the United States does not take the necessary steps to remove sanctions, the Islamic Republic will not do anything to reduce its nuclear activities, which are in line with its obligations under the JCPOA,” the report said, referring to the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Nour News website further rejected Reuters' claim that the release of American and European prisoners held in Iran is part of the Vienna draft agreement, stressing that the issue of a possible prisoner swap has nothing to do with the ongoing talks in the Austrian capital.

“The United States was the party that withdrew from an agreement on the exchange of prisoners, and Iran is ready to act in this regard within the framework of previous agreements,” the report noted.

Nour News website added that contrary to Reuters' claim that direct negotiations between the United States and Iran are a prerequisite for reaching a final agreement in Vienna, the Iranian delegation has no plan for direct talks with the American side.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Minister: Brazil Eyeing to Broaden Trade Cooperation with Iran


"The purpose of my trip to Iran is to broaden bilateral relations between the two countries," Cristina said in a meeting with the members of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture in Fars Province.

She said that in addition to exporting to Iran, Brazil is eager to increase the volume of imports from Iran too.

"My country is willing to attract Iranian investors because of the country's capacity for technology and the potential of agriculture," Cristina added.

She reiterated that Brazil, as a country that has made progress in the fields of agriculture and livestock, can help other countries in the field of food security.

"Brazilian companies and banks want to facilitate the trade process with Iran and solve some of the existing problems," Cristina pointed out.

She also expressed hope that her visit to Iran will be fruitful for the two countries.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran nuclear deal could be agreed very soon, EU official says

18 February ,2022

A senior European Union official said on Friday that a US-Iranian deal to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement was close but success depended on the political will of those involved.

“I expect an agreement in the coming week, the coming two weeks or so,” the EU official said. “I think we have now on the table text that are very, very close to what is going to be the final agreement,” the official said.

Reuters reported on Feb. 17 details of a possible deal negotiated by envoys from Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany, the European Union and United States.

“Most of the issues are already agreed. But as a principle in this kind of negotiations, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So we still have...some questions, some of them rather political and difficult to agree,” the official said.

The official said a deal was necessary as Iran’s sensitive uranium enrichment program was moving ahead quickly. Iran has always denied it is seeking nuclear weapons.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinians offer Jerusalem Friday prayers in solidarity with eviction families


February 18, 2022

RAMALLAH: Dozens of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem in a display of solidarity with families facing eviction by Israeli authorities in the area.

The groups were provoked by opposition protests, who raised Israeli flags and insulted them.

The calls for evictions have been led by the extremist member of the Knesset, Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party who moved his office to the neighborhood six days ago.

Ekrima Said Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Council, said in the Friday sermon: “The steadfastness of the people of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is a protection for the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Denouncing the attempts to expel the residents from their homes, he added that the Jerusalemites are facing injustice and racial discrimination.

Israeli police officers were deployed to the streets of the sensitive neighborhood, cordoning entrances and the prayer area.

Police checkpoints were established throughout the neighborhood, while the Israeli Defense Force has reinforced its deployed forces across the West Bank in preparation for a Friday of anger called for by the Palestinians.

Palestinian citizens traveled from within the Green Line, Jerusalem and the West Bank to support the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in response to calls by activists and religious and national bodies.

Sareen Jabarin, a political activist from Umm Al-Fahm, who was on a bus with a group of fellow activists, told Arab News: “We are going to support our people in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and what they are subjected to — ethnic cleansing and eviction of their homes — because of the apartheid policy pursued by the Israeli government.”

Jabarin, who participated in similar demonstrations last year, added that she would continue to protest against attempts to displace Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

Tensions are increasing ahead of the approaching implementation date of the order to evict the Palestinian families from their residences in the neighborhood and replace them with Jewish settlers. The violent action is expected in March.

The move has raised anger and concern not only among Palestinian groups but also among Arab and Islamic countries, international organizations and the EU.

In a tweet on Feb. 18, an EU delegation expressed its concern over ongoing developments in Sheikh Jarrah. It said that “incidents of settler violence, irresponsible provocations” and other acts in the neighborhood “only fuel "further tensions and must cease.”

The issue has united Jerusalemites of different religious and political affiliations to defend those threatened with eviction.

Palestinian activists from the neighborhood told Arab News that some social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook had blocked their accounts for highlight the controversial events that are taking place.

Fatah leader in East Jerusalem, Hatem Abdel Qader, said the people’s “presence today is to respond to the provocation from Knesset member Ben Gvir and the Israeli police that are trying to provoke Jerusalemites and are trying to create an environment that expels Jerusalemites from their homes.”

Meanwhile, a UN statement said: “The announcement of the scheduled eviction has recently raised tension in the Jerusalem neighborhood, with clashes involving Palestinian residents, Israeli settlers, and Israeli security forces resulting in property damage, multiple injuries and arrests, including the arrest of eight children since Feb. 11.”

Families have been subjected to attacks with pepper spray and stones resulting in injury and property damage, the UN added.

There are 218 Palestinian families, comprising 970 individuals, including 424 children, living in East Jerusalem, mainly in the neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, that are currently facing the threat of forced eviction by the Israeli authorities.

“The United Nations has repeatedly called for a halt to forced evictions and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem: Under international humanitarian law, forcible transfers of protected persons by the occupying power are forbidden regardless of their motive,” the statement said.

Source: Arab News

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Hamas warns Israel against crossing red lines in Sheikh Jarrah

18 February 2022

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has warned Israel against crossing “red lines” in the flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah or any other area in the occupied al-Quds.

The Palestinian Information Center on Thursday cited senior Hamas official Basem Na’im as saying that the crossing of Hamas’ red lines in Sheikh Jarrah, the al-Aqsa Mosque, or any other area in the occupied al-Quds would have “serious repercussions.”

He said al-Quds was “the essence” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stressing that what happened there did not concern only its residents but all Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.

The official also stressed that “the leadership of the resistance and the Palestinian people will not stand idly by” in the face of what is happening to the people and their sanctuaries in the occupied al-Quds.

Tensions heightened across the Palestinian territories on Sunday, when Israeli forces and illegal settlers renewed their attacks against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. The neighborhood has been the scene of frequent crackdowns by Israeli regime forces on the Palestinians protesting against the threatened expulsion of dozens of families from their homes in favor of Israeli settler groups.

The initial tensions that erupted in Sheikh Jarrah last year in part sparked a May 2021 war between the Israeli regime and resistance groups in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces attack solidarity protests in Sheikh Jarrah

Palestinians staged a mass protest in Sheikh Jarrah on Friday afternoon to express their solidarity with the residents of the neighborhood against the attacks carried out by the Israeli forces and settlers.

The protest was met by force, with Israeli forces hitting the demonstrators with batons.

Local sources said the participants in the protest, who came from different areas in the Israeli-occupied territories such as the city of Umm al-Fahm, insisted on taking part in the rally despite the Israeli crackdown to stress that they were the owners of the same land and would not surrender to the occupier.

Hamas warns won’t allow Palestinian prisoners to suffer in Israeli jails

Zaher Jabarin, a senior Hamas official, said on Thursday that the resistance would not allow the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails to continue, and would spare no effort to repel the Israeli repression of the detainees.

“We will stand behind our prisoners with all political and legal capabilities at our disposal,” Jabarin said.

Israel’s prison authorities have increased repressive measures since six Palestinians broke out of Israel’s high-security Gilboa prison on September 4 using tools as basic as a spoon. The jailbreak was hailed as a victory by Palestinians.

Israeli jail authorities keep Palestinian prisoners under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. Palestinian inmates have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment, and repression.

Source: Press TV

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Israeli forces injure scores of Palestinians as clashes break out in West Bank

18 February 2022

Dozens of Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces in the flashpoint town of Beita, near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus as clashes erupted after Israeli settlers stormed the area.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent, nearly 90 Palestinians, including four journalists, were injured during clashes with Israeli forces in the vicinity of Sobeih Mountain in Beita, south of Nablus, on Friday.

The injured included at least 57 people who suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli troops, and five others who were hit with rubber bullets used by the forces.

Ja’far Shtayyeh was identified as one of the journalists who were injured while covering the clashes.

Media outlets reported that the clashes erupted on Friday at dawn as Israeli forces attacked the Palestinians who were protesting a visit by a group of Israeli settlers to the area.

Israeli forces had earlier razed roads that led to Sobeih Mountain in a bid to block the Palestinians from reaching the area.

Footage circulated on social media on Friday, showing Palestinians hurling stones at Israeli bulldozers during the clashes, which also saw arrests.

Since May, Beita has seen intensified clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting against a settlement outpost that has been established on Sobeih Mountain by settlers under the protection of Israeli forces.

To the east of Nablus, clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the village of Beit Dajan, leaving 16 Palestinians injured.

Also on Friday, Israeli forces suppressed a weekly anti-settlement rally in the village of Kafr Qaddum in Qalqilya Province on Friday.

Murad Shteiwi, a media spokesman in the Qalqilya region, said the Israeli forces opened fire on the protesters, injuring a 12-year-old boy.

Palestinian media reports said scores of Palestinians also suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli forces.

Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — territories the Palestinians want for a future state — during the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War in 1967. It later had to withdraw from Gaza.

Source: Press TV

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Israeli troops unleash military dog on surrendering Palestinian teenager

18 February 2022

Israeli regime forces unleashed a military dog to attack a Palestinian man during a brutal overnight arrest, despite the man holding his hands up, a newly-released footage reveals.

The footage, made public on Wednesday, relates to an incident that reportedly took place on Monday near the city of Ramallah, condemned widely as a “barbaric act.”

It shows 19-year-old Malik Maala holding his hands behind his head while awaiting arrest by the Israeli troops at his workplace in the occupied West Bank city of al-Bireh.

Quite shockingly, as the teenager prepares to be handcuffed, a military dog released by Israeli soldiers standing nearby pounces on him, the UK-based Middle East Eye reported Thursday.

The footage shows Israeli military forces approaching the university student moments after he is attacked by the dog, detaining him and taking him to an undisclosed location.

The Palestinian Authority's prisoners’ commission, reacting to the incident, termed it "distressful and cruel" and a "barbaric act."

"It is another proof that clarifies the ongoing methods of the occupation aiming at breaking the will of our people to build a successful and stable future," the agency said in a Thursday statement.

It blasted the silence of international human rights watchdogs for their failure in “defending the minimum rights of our people in building their future and obtaining freedom."

🇵🇸#Palestine || A security camera record shows Israeli soldiers released a dog on the Palestinian prisoner Malik Mu'alla while detaining him in Al Berih city last Monday.

— Eye on Palestine (@EyeonPalestine) February 16, 2022

The commission also noted that Maala was arrested while working as a guard at an industrial facility in al-Bireh to raise money for his university tuition fees.

Israeli regime news outlets tried to justify the vicious cruelty by insisting that the measure was intended to “frighten” the Palestinian youth and that the dog was held back to prevent harm on the teenager.

The report and the Palestinian agency did not cite reasons for Maala’s brutal arrest.

The development coincided with media reports that the Israeli regime has refused to cooperate with a United Nations team probing the crimes it committed during a full-scale war on the besieged Palestinian enclave, Gaza Strip, last year.

The regime's ambassador to the UN and international organizations in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar, announced the refusal in a letter she personally delivered to Navi Pillay, the head of the Commission of Inquiry that has been established by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

"There is simply no reason to believe that Israel will receive reasonable, equitable, and non-discriminatory treatment from the Council, or from this Commission of Inquiry [COI]," Shahar claimed.

Source: Press TV

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Palestine scholars denounce 'kidnapping' of Muslim children by Sweden

February 18, 2022

The Palestine Scholars Association yesterday condemned the forced removal of Muslim children from their families by Swedish social services saying it violates human rights, Anadolu reported.

"We strongly condemn and denounce what the Swedish authorities are doing in kidnapping Muslim children from their families," the association said in a statement, adding: "We consider this a blatant attack on the Muslim refugees who came to those countries to escape fierce wars."

The association expressed "absolute solidarity" with the children's families.

The Association called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, and all human rights groups in the world to assume their responsibilities in preventing the oppression and persecution of Muslim immigrants in Sweden.

This week, Syrian refugee parents Diab Talal and his wife Amal called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to help return their five children after Swedish social services took them into care.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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Islamic State-linked jihadists kill at least 40 civilians in Mali amid turf war

19 Feb 2022

An Islamic State-linked group has killed around 40 civilians caught up in a rivalry between warring jihadist groups in Mali’s conflict-plagued north.

There were “at least 40 civilian deaths in three different sites” during a week of bloodshed in the Tessit area near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger, a civilian official in the area told AFP.

The official said the death toll was provisional because information was patchy and coming in slowly from the remote and dangerous area.

While the focus is on Ukraine, Russia’s presence in the Sahel is steadily growing

“These civilians had been accused by one [jihadist] group of complicity with the other group,” the official said.

Two Tessit residents, based in the regional capital Gao and the national capital Bamako, confirmed the scale of the violence after speaking with witnesses who had fled the carnage.

A spokesman for a group of armed northern militias reported a similar death toll.

The latest bloodshed comes in a week when France and its European partners announced they would start withdrawing their forces after more than nine years fighting a jihadist insurgency.

Tessit is in the “three borders” area, a hotspot of jihadist violence.

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and the Sahel’s largest jihadist alliance, the al-Qaida-aligned GSIM group, are particularly active in the area.

As well as attacking local and foreign troops, they have been fighting each other for territory since 2020.

Three local sources, including the northern militia spokesman, said GSIM fighters went to several villages near Tessit, including Keygourouten, Bakal and Tadjalalt, between 8-10 February.

Accusing the local shopkeepers of supplying EIGS, the GSIM fighters ransacked a health centre, a pharmacy, a water tower and a shop, as well as stealing an ambulance.

The GSIM fighters also ordered the residents to leave. Between 150 and 200 households fled to Niger and surrounding towns.

Then on Monday and Tuesday, EIGS fighters arrived in the same villages.

“They accused the men of being accomplices of GSIM. They killed the old men and the young men,” the official in the Tessit area said.

Thirty were executed in Tadjalalt, the official said.

It is a common scenario, the official added, saying that “when a [jihadist] group passes through a village, the one that comes later accuses the residents of being accomplices”.

Source: The Guardian

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Mali tells France to pull out troops 'without delay', cites ‘flagrant violations’ of bilateral accords

18 February 2022

The government of Mali has asked France to pull out its forces from the country "without delay," casting doubt on Paris' plans to withdraw troops over several months.

The announcement came after Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, the spokesman for the country’s military-installed government, said in a statement on the public television that the results of France's nine-year military engagement in conflict-torn Mali were "not satisfactory."

Maiga described France’s plan for a prolonged withdrawal from the African country as a "flagrant violation" of accords between the two countries.

"In view of these repeated breaches of defense agreements, the government invites the French authorities to withdraw, without delay," he said.

Mali has also asked the smaller European Takuba group of special forces, which was created in 2020, to depart quickly.

Macron responded with a statement saying that he would not compromise the safety of French soldiers and the withdrawal will take place take place "in orderly fashion."

On Thursday, France announced that it will withdraw thousands of troops from Mali due to a breakdown in relations with the country, a decade after launching a war without the initial approval of the United Nations or even the French parliament.

A statement signed by France and its African and European allies said "multiple obstructions" meant the conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali.

The decision applies to both the 2,400 French troops in Mali, where France first deployed in 2013, and the European Takuba group of special forces.

Relations between Paris and Bamako have deteriorated since the ruling military took power in August 2020.

Macron confirmed at a news conference that France's bases in Gossi, Menaka and Gao in Mali would be closed within the next four to six months, "completely" rejecting the idea that France had failed its mission in the country.

Mali's armed forces spokesperson Souleymane Dembele shrugged off France's announcement, saying European troops had failed to curb militancy.

Mali's prime minister earlier this month blasted France for attempting to divide his country during a foreign military mission against terrorist groups.

Choguel Kokalla Maiga, head of the government that came to power in June 2021, said the French intervention "later turned into a de facto partition of the country."

Paris pushed economic and other sanctions against the African country after the expulsion, with the European Union following suit by by imposing sanctions on several Malian officials, including the prime minister.

Source: Press TV

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Nigerian Muslims denounce Saudi war on Yemen

February 19, 2022

Dozens of Nigerian Muslims, mostly supporters of prominent cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, have demonstrated in Abuja to condemn Saudi Arabia for the war on Yemen and its continued blockade of the impoverished country.

They said the bombing of civilian targets by the Saudi-led coalition and its siege on Yemen has caused a serious humanitarian situation there.

The Saudi war has escalated recently as Riyadh has intensified its aerial and ground attacks, worsening the humanitarian situation in Yemen. The protesters said the ultimate goal of Saudi Arabia is to reinstate the former Yemeni president.

Source: ABNA24

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Tunisia extends state of emergency until end of 2022

Mehmet Akif Turan  


TUNIS, Tunisia

Tunisia on Friday extended the state of emergency, which was declared in 2015 as a result of a terrorist attack, until the end of this year.

The state of emergency, which would end on Feb. 20, was extended until Dec. 31, according to a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette.

On Jan. 18, President Kais Saied extended the state of emergency for another month.

The North African country first announced the state of emergency in 2015 following a terrorist attack. Since then, it has been extended by authorities.

Under the measures, the Interior Ministry is granted emergency powers to stop meetings and gatherings, impose curfews, and clamp down on media organizations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Niger to host European special forces leaving Mali, confirms president

James Tasamba 


KIGALI, Rwanda

Niger on Friday confirmed that it has agreed to allow French and European special forces withdrawing from Mali to be deployed on its territory.

The announcement came from President Mohamed Bazoum a day after European leaders said forces stationed in Mali for counterterrorism missions will be pulled out due to “multiple obstructions by the Malian transitional authorities.”

About 2,400 French troops were part of the forces deployed in Mali, along with roughly 900 special forces in the French-led Takuba task force that was helping Mali and neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger tackle an insurgency linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups.

At a news conference in Paris on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the “heart of this military operation will no longer be in Mali but in Niger.”

The withdrawal from Mali would take four to six months, during which there would be fewer operations against insurgents in the Sahel region, he added.

Bazoum said the redeployed forces would be able to respond to threats posed by terror groups in the western border area with Mali and Burkina Faso.

“The discussion we had on Wednesday evening led unanimously to the need for a reorganization of the system that was in place in Mali. This will lead in particular to a form of presence of these forces in Niger and on the territory of other African countries, a little further south, who would request it,” Bazoum said on Twitter.

“Our goal is for our border with Mali to be secure,” he added.

Bazoum said Niger will welcome the special forces because they have the capability to respond to the threat posed by terror groups.

“We expect that after the departure of Barkhane and Takuba, this area will be even more infested and the terrorist groups will strengthen,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


US halts nearly $160 mln aid to Burkina Faso after finding military coup occurred

19 February ,2022

The United States has halted nearly $160 million in US aid to Burkina Faso after determining the January ouster of President Roch Kabore constituted a military coup, triggering aid restrictions under US law, three sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The State Department made the determination, which has not been previously reported, in line with a US law under which US foreign aid - except funds to promote democracy - must be stopped to a country whose elected head of government is deposed by military coup or in a coup in which the military plays a decisive role.

“The State Department assesses that a military coup took place in Burkina Faso,” said a department notice sent to Congress seen by Reuters.

“Therefore, approximately $158.6 million in foreign assistance that benefits the Government of Burkina Faso is restricted.”

The State Department told Congress it was exploring the possibility of overcoming the aid restrictions when in the US national interest, notably to provide lifesaving assistance in the health sector.

The State Department said on Jan. 31 that it had paused most assistance to Burkina Faso after the country’s military leader Paul-Henri Damiba led a junta that on Jan. 24 overthrew Kabore.

But Washington had not formally determined that the events in the West African country amounted to a coup and had not made a final decision on the fate of the aid.

On Friday, the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the halting of aid.

Separately, Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government foreign assistance agency, said on its website that on Jan. 31 it had paused activity related to a compact agreement signed in August 2020 for $450 million in funding to Burkina Faso. Such an agreement typically covers a five-year period.

The MCC did not immediately respond to an email on Friday asking if that assistance was now halted.

Damiba was sworn in as president this week. He had cited Kabore’s inability to curb an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands of people and forced more than one million people to flee their homes in the West African country.

The military coup in Burkina Faso followed takeovers in Mali, Guinea and Chad since 2020, raising fears of coup contagion among regional leaders.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Russian envoy: US occupation must leave Syria, their presence threatens stability in region

18 February 2022

Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa has urges the United States to end its illegitimate occupation of parts of Syria, saying the American forces' presence in the Arab country poses a threat to regional stability.

Mikhail Bogdanov, who is also Russia's deputy foreign minister, made the remarks in an interview on Saturday, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

The US presence in Syria “is a matter of big concern as it threatens stability in the region,” the Russian official said.

It is only through such withdrawal that Syria would be able to properly address the problems it faces in terms of stability, return of the displaced people, and reconstruction, Bogdanov emphasized.

The US occupation impedes the efforts that are aimed at resolving Syria’s woes, he added, calling on Washington to show respect for the Arab country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

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

The US military interference, however, was surprisingly slow in confronting the terrorists, despite the sheer size of the coalition that had enlisted scores of Washington-allied countries.

Numerous reports and regional officials would, meanwhile, point to the US’ role in transferring Daesh elements throughout the region and even airlifting supplies to the terror outfit.

In 2017 and at the height of the coalition's military campaign in Syria, Russia drew a parallel between the destruction that was being caused by the US-led forces and the wholesale bombing campaign against the German city of Dresden during the World War II.

Last month, the Syrian Military Prosecution announced that it has launched an investigation into violations committed by the United States military forces in the country, particularly the occupation troops’ training of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists and collaboration with them to carry out various acts of terror.

“The Military Prosecution has come up with sufficient and incontrovertible evidence that American forces assert fairly direct control over Daesh members as well as their terrorist activities across Syria, using its illegal base in al-Tanf [region in southern Syria],” Ahmad Touzan, a spokesman for the prosecution, said at a press conference in the capital Damascus.

He noted, “We have convincing proof that many Daesh terrorists are currently being trained at that base. The armed terrorists visit the base aboard their vehicles without any restraint.”

Touzan went on to stress that the Syrian Military Prosecution will explore all available judicial means in order to prosecute American occupation forces for the plunder of natural resources in Syria’s oil-rich northeastern province of Hasakah as well as the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

“The probe will provide Syrian authorities with the opportunity to take appropriate legal actions against the US administration and American occupation forces in the near future,” Touzan pointed out.

The US military trains anti-Damascus militants at al-Tanf base, which is situated near Syria's borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Washington has unilaterally declared a 55-kilometer “de-confliction zone” around the facility, and frequently threatened to target Syrian forces within the area.

Back in May 2020, a number of captured Daesh terrorists confessed to close cooperation with US military forces stationed at al-Tanf base on carrying out various acts of terror and sabotage.

Last December, Syria’s foreign minister said occupation of northeastern and southern parts of his country by US forces is dangerous and must come to an end.

Faisal Mekdad, who was speaking in a meeting with Iran’s parliament speaker, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, in Tehran, elaborated on the efforts made by Damascus to put an end to occupation of certain regions in the northwestern part of the country, adding, “US occupationism in northeastern and southern parts of Syria is also dangerous and must end.”

Source: Press TV

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