New Age Islam
Fri Aug 14 2020, 07:59 PM

Islamic World News ( 23 Dec 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Radical Islamic Terrorism: Putin, Trump Disagree on Religion’s Role in Terror?
















Wishing Christian neighbors a 'Merry Christmas' is ‘harus,’ or permissible, for practitioners of Islam

 

Radical Islamic Terrorism: Putin, Trump Disagree on Religion’s Role in Terror?

Bangladesh Provides ‘Expansive Degree’ Of Religious Freedom: US

Takfiri Terrorism Does Not Belong To Islam: Hezbollah Chief

Obama to Dismantle ‘Muslim Registry’ Before Trump Can Revive It

Somalia: Top Sheikhs under Fire Following Fatwa Banning Women's Basketball Tourney

 

Europe

Radical Islamic Terrorism: Putin, Trump Disagree on Religion’s Role in Terror?

Russian Envoy's Killer Remembered As Lonely Boy, Not Angry Jihadist

Muslim Congregation Makes a Christmas for Three Needy Families

North Texas Pastor and Imam Try to Lead by Example

The far right is helping IS as it tries to destroy Western tolerance and liberalism

Pope Francis: Capitalism Is “Terrorism against All of Humanity”

Putin warms to Trump, flexes muscles on Syria

Is Kosovo a breeding ground for Islamists?

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South Asia

Bangladesh Provides ‘Expansive Degree’ Of Religious Freedom: US

Afghan Forces Kill 22 Taliban Militants

5 militants killed, 2 wounded in Uruzgan airstrike in South of Afghanistan

1 killed in attack on ex-Taliban leader Mullah Salam Zaeef’s home in Kabul

Drone strike target ISIS loyalists in East of Afghanistan, 2 killed

Muslim man found dead after speaking to media in Myanmar

Bangladesh Border Shutdown of Rohingya Could Fuel Militancy: Observers

Counterterrorism unit raids suspected militant hideout in Dhaka

Afghan forces arrest suicide bomber trained in South Waziristan

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Mideast

Takfiri Terrorism Does Not Belong To Islam: Hezbollah Chief

Israel Rejects UN Settler Vote, Lashes Out At Obama

Arabs succeed as UN to end Israel settlements

30 Houthis killed near Saudi-Yemen border

Yemeni retaliatory attacks leave 16 Saudi troops, mercs dead

Human Rights Watch censures use of cluster bombs against Yemen

Turks angry over IS video of soldiers burned alive

Iran shoots down a filming drone in Tehran

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North America

Obama to Dismantle ‘Muslim Registry’ Before Trump Can Revive It

Trump Team Seeks Names of Officials Working To Counter Violent Extremism

Regina Muslim group gives thanks for mosque with food bank donation

UN Demands End to Israeli Settlements after US Abstention

FBI warns of possible IS-inspired attacks in U.S.

Local Muslims condemn alleged ISIS call to attack U.S. churches

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Africa

Somalia: Top Sheikhs under Fire Following Fatwa Banning Women's Basketball Tourney

Nigeria: Muslim Ummah Urged to Emulate Prophet Muhammad

Libyan plane hijacking ends peacefully in Malta

Deal reached in DR Congo to allow president to stay in office for another year

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Pakistan

Over 23pc Seminaries in Sindh Found To Be Illegal

UNGA Adopts Pak-Sponsored Resolution Stressing Inter-Religious Dialogue

Sixth grader in Pakistan sues President House officials over plagiarism

Pakistan Will Never Be a Failed State: Zardari

Myth of MQM, Mohajirs being inseparable is no more, Kamal tells big PSP public meeting

‘PML-N ministers, advisers did nothing except raking in money’

Pledge reiterated to purge country of terrorism

Rangers arrested two suspects of MQM militant wing in Karachi

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Arab World

88 Dead in Turkish Raids on IS-Held Syria Town

Syria Army, Civilians Reclaim Ruined Aleppo Streets

Syria: Terrorists Fail again to Break through Gov't Positions East of Homs

Syrian Army Recapture Lost Land to ISIL in Homs

Russian Air Force Launches Heavy Airstrikes on ISIL Centers in Deir Ezzur

Aleppo sees shelling, air strikes again as Assad urges peace talks

US sanctions on six Syrian ministers and Russian bankers

Terrorists contaminate Damascus water with diesel: Authorities

Large Volume of Narcotics Heading to Terrorist-Held Regions Seized by Syrian Forces

Tens of ISIL Terrorists Killed in Clash with Syrian Army East of Aleppo Province

Several Civilians Killed, Wounded in New Terrorist Strikes on Western Part of Aleppo City

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India

Protest Poetry: Assam's Bengali Muslims Take a Stand

Telugu Writer Brings Out Calendar of Indian Muslim Freedom Fighters

Aligarh Muslim university students demand Muslim quota promised by Samajwadi party

Eye on Pakistan, India starts process to tap Indus waters

Jammu and Kashmir: Protests against domicile certificates to Pak refugees

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Southeast Asia

Act against Muslim Author Who Blasphemed Sikhism, Home Ministry Told

'Merry Christmas' Greetings from Muslims Are Permissible, Says Malaysian Mufti

Malaysians must continue to protest oppression of Rohingya Muslims, says OIC

Muhammadiyah Saysit Aims To Promote Moderate, Tolerant Islam

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/radical-islamic-terrorism--putin,-trump-disagree-on-religion’s-role-in-terror?/d/109484

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Radical Islamic Terrorism: Putin, Trump Disagree On Religion’s Role In Terror?

BY GREG PRICE

Dec 24, 2016

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump often directly associated terrorism with Muslims around the world by saying “radical Islamic terrorism,” a phrase he criticized President Barack Obama for failing to use and denying any link between the religion and terrorist attacks.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s thinking appears to fall well in line with Obama’s and not Trump, who he’s been accused of helping win the 2016 presidential election by directing his government to hack the Republican and Democratic National Committees.

Speaking at his annual year-end press conference Friday, Putin said he would prefer not to link Islam with terrorism, Russian state-run site Sputnik International reported.

"I would prefer Islam not to be mentioned in vain alongside terrorism. You are right here," Putin said when asked if the phrase "Daesh, terrorist organization in Russia" should be banned from use by the media.

Following the assassination of a Russian ambassador in Turkey, allegedly in the name of Syria, the comments may be confusing to some.

But Putin’s comments only strengthen is previous statements on Islam and terror. In May, at an event devoted to discussing Islam and Russia, Putin said Russia will always be a “reliable ally” to the “Islamic World,” Newsweek reported.

“I would like to confirm that in Russia, the Islamic world will always find a reliable ally, prepared to cooperate in resolving pressing problems,” Putin said. “We support the position of Muslim countries to strengthen values such as justice and the rule of law in international relations.”

Putin’s vow and consistent rhetoric fall well in line with his foreign policies and Russia’s attempts to further strengthen its military presence around the world. While helping Syria defeat revels in its five-year long civil war with airstrikes and troops on the ground, Russia has opened a permanent military base in Syria and is toying with the idea of further expansion in Vietnam and Venezuela.

Polls show it's politically beneficial for Putin to keep the current trajectory of his foreign policies. In June 2015, a Pew Research Center study found 90 percent of Russians approved of Putin’s handling of China and 85 percent were in favor of his work with the U.S.

http://www.ibtimes.com/radical-islamic-terrorism-putin-trump-disagree-religions-role-terror-2464838

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Bangladesh provides ‘expansive degree’ of religious freedom: US

2016-12-22

The visiting US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, David N Saperstein, has hailed Bangladesh’s religious tradition and said the country provides an “expansive degree” of religious freedom.

The ambassador was responding to different questions at a live Facebook chat on Thursday, after his meeting with foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali.

He said the primary challenges to religious freedom were manifested “in the occasional violent acts against religious individuals, communities, and institutions that we have seen in recent years”.

“On core issues of religious freedom is that can religious communities organize in accordance with their beliefs, build houses of worship and pray freely, celebrate their festivals - privately and publicly?, and Bangladesh provides an expansive degree of those religious freedom,” he said.

“This is in accordance with its constitution, its values, and its history.”

He hoped that his maiden visit would contribute to “affirming the close relationship between our two countries and to enhancing the cause of religious freedom for all”.

In a statement from the foreign ministry said that he also commended the religious tradition in Bangladesh, and told Ali that he found the tradition “quite remarkable”.

Saperstein also apprised the foreign minister about his visit to Dhaka and termed Bangladesh as an ‘extraordinarily free country’ in terms of freedom of worship and peaceful coexistence of various faith-based communities.

Describing his visit to Bangladesh as a ‘gratifying experience’, he said he appreciated the ability of the people to celebrate festivals irrespective of religious identity.

He also “commended” the action taken by government in the aftermath of recent incidents involving the minority population, and said he appreciated the steps taken to protect their rights, the foreign ministry statement added.

US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat was also present during the meeting at the state guest house Padma.

The foreign minister welcomed his visit to Bangladesh, and said the present government has reinstated secularism in the constitution and has been taking necessary steps to ensure rights of people of all faiths.

Quoting the Prime Minister’s comment “religion belongs to the individual but festivals belong to everyone”, the foreign minister said that people respect each and everyone’s faith and enjoy festivals without hindrance during the rule of Awami League.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2016/12/22/bangladesh-provides-expansive-degree-of-religious-freedom-us

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Takfiri Terrorism Does Not Belong To Islam: Hezbollah Chief

Dec 23, 2016

The secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says Takfiri militants perpetrating heinous crimes across the Middle East and North Africa have no connection to Islam and the religion's most revered figure Prophet Muhmamd (PBUH).

Addressing his supporters via a video link from the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah stated that efforts to tarnish the image of Islam have entered a new phase, stressing that all Muslims bear the responsibility of denouncing the atrocities and make it known to the international community that the crimes are not linked to Islam.

He stated that the ideology behind extremism stems from Wahhabism, and that Wahhabis have turned a blind eye to the critical issues of Muslims, particularly the Palestinian cause.

Nasrallah went on to say that Muslims worldwide must denounce the barbarism of Wahhabi extremists, and that no religion or ideology agrees to the ferociousness of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

The Hezbollah chief further condemned attempts to link Daesh or any other terrorist group to Islam, terming such bids as part of a scenario against the divine religion.

“Our religion and our prophet Muhamamd (PBUH) have been greatly abused within the last years. Takfiris are those who have been abusing our religion and our prophet, because they are committing their crime in the name of this religion and this prophet. Takfiris’ atrocities are real massacres on the humanitarian and cultural level,” Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah also strongly condemned the recent Daesh video purporting to show two captured Turkish soldiers being burned alive in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo, stating that Turkey is paying the price for its support for Daesh terrorists.

He criticized the Turkish government for its double standards vis-à-vis the fight against terrorism, calling on Turkish officials to adopt a clear stance regarding Daesh.

Turning to the liberation of Aleppo and return of the strategic Syrian city to full government control, Nasrallah termed the development as one of the greatest achievements in the battle against Takfiri terrorists.

Syrians celebrate on December 22, 2016 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, after the army said it has retaken full control of the country's second city.

“The support offered by Arab states to militants in Syria over the past six years goes beyond the level of assistance provided to Palestinians in sixty years,” the Hezbollah secretary venereal said.

He said the militants’ defeat in Syria is the result of sacrifices by the Syrian nation, army as well as resistance fighters.

Nasrallah also criticized Western and some Arab media outlets over broadcasting fabricated stories on ongoing development in Aleppo, saying the networks are misleading the world public opinion by showing fake images the aftermath of Syrian army operations in Aleppo.

“Media outlets are showing images of Yemeni children, and then claiming they are pictures of Syrian kids,” he said.

Nasrallah said Syrian government forces allowed the evacuation of foreign-backed Takfiri militants from eastern Aleppo at while the so-called “moderate” opposition fighters do not agree to civilians’ exit from areas under their control.

“Terrorist groups have not accepted a single deal to allow aid to reach Syrian civilians,” the Hezbollah chief said.

He described the Aleppo liberation as a big victory and a major development on political and military levels, saying that the United States is blocking a political solution in Syria.

“Syria’s future must be decided by Syrians themselves,” Nasrallah pointed out.

Nasrallah also welcomed the formation of a new government in Lebanon, stating that the new administration must address all issues in the Arab country and not merely suffice to the duties listed in the electoral law.

He vehemently dismissed allegations that Hezbollah seeks to take control of all institutions in Lebanon, emphasizing that the resistance movement only wants to ensure that the new Lebanese government represents people from all walks of life.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/23/503131/Hezbollah-chief-Seyyed-Hassan-Nasrallah-extremism-image-Islam

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Obama to dismantle ‘Muslim registry’ before Trump can revive it

December 23, 2016

Washington: US President Barack Obama has taken steps to prevent President-elect Donald Trump from establishing a registry of American Muslims and banning people from Muslim nations entering the US, the media reported.

The Obama administration is dismantling the dormant National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (Nseers) that logs and monitors people/visitors from countries with active terrorist groups — a programme that Trump was considering to resurrect.

The registry was created after the September 11, 2001, attacks and has not been used ever since, reported the New York Times on Thursday.

The move by the White House to formally end the registry is largely symbolic and appeared to be aimed at distancing the departing administration from any effort by the new President to revive the programme.

Asked on Wednesday, in the aftermath of the Berlin attack, whether he still intended to set up a registry for Muslims and impose a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, Trump said in Florida, “You know my plans.”

However, hours later, his spokesman said Trump was not reaffirming his earlier calls for a ban on immigration from Muslim countries but was referring to his more recent clarification that he would bar people from countries with a history of Islamist extremism.

Democrats, including 51 members of the Congress, had called on Obama to scrap the Nseers Register to avoid it being utilised by Trump. Mayors from cities with large immigrant populations have also said they will not cooperate with Trump’s immigration policies.

The Obama administration has now set the ball rolling on abolishing the registry by initiating a change to federal rules that will come into effect this week.

Neema Hakim, a spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, not only called the registry programme “obsolete” and “outdated” but also said that it diverts personnel and resources from other areas that are seen as more effective.

Officials in the agency have long believed that the programme has outlived its usefulness.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who is an advisor to Trump, helped to devise the registry programme while at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.

Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple are among several technology companies that have publicly stated that they would not assist the new administration in developing any programme that would collect information that could be used by the government to track immigrants from Muslim countries.

Hakim said that the new tools are “far better equipped to face the evolving landscape of international terrorism”. Those programmes include an automated system for collecting and storing biometric data such as fingerprints from nearly all people entering the country.

http://www.siasat.com/news/obama-dismantle-muslim-registry-trump-can-revive-1093102/

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Somalia: Top Sheikhs Under Fire Following Fatwa Banning Women's Basketball Tourney

23 DECEMBER 2016

An Islamic Fatwa banning a women's national basketball tournament that kicked off in Garowe on Thursday has raised protests on social media. Somalis on Twitter criticised the Council of Islamic Clerics for issuing a fatwa with no base in Islamic Shariah.

Most argued that the tournament will improve integration between the five participating regions names Galmudug, Jubaland, South West, Puntland and Hirshabelle

The fatwa was announced on Wednesday by the head of the Council of Islamic Clerics Sheikh Bashir Salad citing that it went against Islamic morales for women to display themselves in public.

Social media activists accused the Muslim clerics of failing to use their influence to put an end an insurgency by militant group Alshabaab, to initiate reconciliation and peace.

"They have failed to condemn the killing of innocent civilians by Alshabaab" a blogger said

"instead they are busy dealing with minor issues like the basketball tournament" he blogged

"It is such fatwas that lead the youth to become extremists" Ali Nuh a politician told Radio Dalsan .

" We are emerging from years of been fed by Alshabaab propaganda and now the new challenge are these controversial fatwas" Nuh said. Somalia's clerics have also been accused of failing to condemn corruption and intimidation. The Council of Islamic Clerics is the highest body that issues legal matters in accordance to the Islamic Shariah

http://allafrica.com/stories/201612230584.html

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Europe

 

Russian envoy's killer remembered as lonely boy, not angry jihadist

December 23, 2016

SOKE: Those in the small Turkish town of Soke who knew Mevlut Altintas, the smartly dressed, clean-shaven young man who shot dead Russia's ambassador this week, recall a lonely taciturn boy twice rejected by university before leaving home and joining the police.

Altintas was 22 when he shot Andrei Karlov in the back at an Ankara art gallery before being himself gunned down by police. Few in Soke would have recognized the figure in black suit and tie who stood over the diplomat's body screaming jihadi slogans.

For his family, as for Karlov's, it was a tragedy.

"I have always admired their son," said a next-door neighbor, who spoke to Reuters from behind her closed door and from time to time broke down in tears. "He was respectful and calm, a very nice young man.

"When the police arrived at the door, we assumed he had been killed on duty and they were here to tell the family of his martyrdom. The mother was devastated when she heard," the neighbor said.

The killing, for many, illustrated the turmoil in a country that has been transformed under Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has to contend with conflicts across the border in Syria and Iraq, and Kurdish insurrection and attacks by Islamic State at home.

The police force Altintas served, as a member of the riot squad, is also in some tumult, its command and rank-and-file purged of what Erdogan calls traitors and terrorists after a failed coup against him in July. The Turkish police has long had secret networks and allegiances in its ranks, both Islamist and nationalist.

Although constitutionally secular, the Turkish state has long relied on the "twin pillars" of Sunni Islam and nationalism, said Halil Karaveli, managing editor of The Turkey Analyst, a policy journal.

"The religious element was always very important in the recruitment and the formation of the cadres of the Turkish state, especially in the security services - not in the army - but in the police."

EXILED CLERIC

Erdogan said the assassin was a follower of exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally, who had built a wide network in the police. Gulen denies this.

Soke is in one of the most secular regions of Turkey, in the south-west. But Celtikci, the Soke neighborhood where the Altintas family live, is filled with run-down buildings, where the paint is peeling and the walls are scarred by graffiti, often nationalist or religious.

"Islam is the only way," reads one, "God should be bestowed upon Turks," says another.

Altintas' family lives on the fourth floor and laundry could still be seen hanging out on the balcony, two days after police detained them for questioning. Media said they were later released.

His father, Israfil Altintas, said he had spoken to his son by phone on the day of the attack. The young man's behavior started changing after he became friends at police academy with a man identified as Sercan B.

"As far as I know, he was not a member of any terrorist organization, religious network or group," Israfil Altintas told police, according to Turkish broadcaster Haberturk.

"However, he started becoming focused on his prayers, more introverted and silent after he became a policeman."

Israfil said his son had ignored his suggestion that he should remain in Izmir and had gone with Sercan to Ankara, where they lived in the same house.

His mother, Hamidiye Altintas, said she had also called her son on the day of the attack.

"He asked, 'What are you doing, Mom?', and I told him I was on a visit and would call him when I was available. He then hung up, saying 'Alright Mom, be in God's care, give me your blessing'.

"My son was an introverted and silent boy," she said.

Former acquaintances of Altintas recall a distant figure who spent much of his time with his step-sister and grandmother. No-one seemed to know of any open allegiance to Gulen in young adulthood.

"He was always in need of help," said Bahri Gokciyel, who was from the same neighborhood and now works at a teahouse in Soke, a lower middle-class town of 117,000 overshadowed by the upscale resorts that dot the Aegean coast.

"He was a silent kid who had no friends all through school," he said, adding that Altintas twice failed to get a place at university.

Whatever his academic shortcomings, Altintas planned the killing meticulously, scouting out the gallery in advance, calling in sick on the day of the attack and using his police ID to bypass security checks and get into the venue with a gun.

While the slogans Altintas shouted suggest he was sympathetic to radical Islamist ideology, Gulen preaches interfaith dialogue. Whatever the motive, the killing capped a violent year for Turkey that includes a string of deadly bombings blamed on both Kurdish militants and Islamic State.

Since the attempted coup, authorities have dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 people suspected of links to the cleric, and fired 40,000.

NEIGHBOURS

Although Altintas lived in Ankara, he came home from time to time and was seen by neighbours.

"Mert stayed with his grandmother a lot, and we used to see him on the street when we played games," said 22-year-old Tolga Tosun, who grew up with Altintas, and now is involved in local politics for the main secular opposition party, the CHP, the dominant party in Soke.

"He never joined, and he never spoke to anyone. He was always alone and silent," Tosun added.

National feeling also runs strong in Soke, with the nationalist opposition also boasting a solid presence.

Tosun said Altintas' family were affiliated with the nationalist party and relatively pious. However, other neighbors could not confirm that and the local head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said the family were not members.

SPILLOVER

Altintas' actions have also raised questions about the potential spillover from the Syrian crisis to Turkey.

Some pious Turks, who for years have listened to Erdogan talk about the need to save Syria from President Bashar al-Assad, are now puzzled by his closer ties with Russia, Assad's main backer.

"Since 2011, the high-pitched government rhetoric on Syria has shaped a Turkish constituency that is very sensitive to the tragedies unfolding in Syria," said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and analyst at Carnegie Europe.

"That constituency is becoming very uncertain and almost disillusioned."

But in Soke, some of the locals see the dark hand of Gulen, which the government refers to as the "Gulenist Terror Organisation".

Gokciyel, the former neighbor, said he believed that Altintas used Gulenist connections to enter the police academy. The government has long said Gulen's followers have used their affiliated schools to infiltrate the civil service and police.

Whatever happens next, the people of Soke, like many Turks, feel things have been irreparably changed by the assassination.

"Killing an ambassador is shameful. Not just for the killer, but also for our country," said Yurdakos Elgun, an official at the local office of the CHP, the secular opposition.

"Our ancestors have always said that no cruelty can be done to guests."

http://nation.com.pk/international/23-Dec-2016/russian-envoy-s-killer-remembered-as-lonely-boy-not-angry-jihadist

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Muslim congregation makes a Christmas for three needy families

December 22, 2016

Eman Al-Atar isn’t the only woman braving the crowds this week for last-minute Christmas shopping, but she’s certainly one of the few Muslims in the crowd.

The New Westminster mom of three came up with the idea of organizing a drive among members of the Al-Mustafa Academy Society, a Muslim education and youth organization, to benefit needy families at Christmas. So she was heading to Metrotown Thursday afternoon to buy clothing and gifts for three Surrey families.

“The rest of the evening I might be shopping here and there,” Al-Atar said.

She got the idea from a Muslim friend in Birmingham, England, who organized something similar this year for families there. Al-Atar approached Imam Murtaza Bachoo of the Al Zahraa Islamic Centre, who got the names of three needy single-parent families from a colleague, Presbyterian minister Victor Kim.

Al-Atar said the Christian season of giving fits with the Muslim calendar as well.

“It’s actually the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, last week,” said Al-Atar. “He used to share occasions and celebrations with other religions as well. We thought we would carry on and do the same. We figured it would be a really great initiative for the youth.”

Full report at:

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/muslim-congregation-makes-a-christmas-for-three-needy-families

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North Texas Pastor and Imam Try to Lead By Example

By Homa Bash

A Dallas pastor and Irving imam are hoping their close friendship and common ground will spur some positivity this season.

Dr. Andy Stoker is the Senior Minister at First United Methodist Church in Dallas. Omar Suleiman is the Imam at Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving.

The pair have been friends for years, but say they have gotten closer since the election.

They speak at each other’s houses of worship, hoping to lead by example, they said.

FW Man Accused in Double-Slaying Won't Fight Extradition

“We have an opportunity to find deep and lasting relationships with anyone,” Stoker said. “Reaching out and finding ways to be connected with other people really makes us better people.”

“We accept each other in the fullness of our traditions and fullness of our identities,” Suleiman added.

Mayor, Chief and Elected Officials Address Viral Video

They released a video Thursday afternoon, showing their friendship and faiths, which quickly racked up thousands of views.

 A recent photo of the two in front of First United Methodist Church – both dressed in traditional clothing -- holding a banner that reads, “Stronger Together,” was shared thousands of times.

Full report at:

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/North-Texas-Pastor-and-Imam-Try-to-Lead-By-Example-407968485.html

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The far right is helping IS as it tries to destroy Western tolerance and liberalism

ROBERT FISK

Dec 24, 2016

THERE is something infinitely naive in our pursuit of the identity of those behind the massacres which the IS is committing in Europe. Yes, we need to know the names. Sure, we need to know what their wives or parents thought. Did they know? How did the perpetrator of Monday’s Berlin truck killings communicate with the IS? Or did he merely imbibe their political instruction manual? After the Bataclan mass murders and the lorry slaughter in Nice, we asked the same questions.

But we didn’t bother to ask what the IS was trying to do. Was it a tactic of “terror” — “terror” being the pejorative word that enables us to avoid all rational thought in the aftermath of any bloodbath — or a strategy, a thought-through political attempt to produce a profound crisis in the societies of western Europe.

And the simple answer is that it was a strategy. The “grey zone”, a phrase invented by the IS almost two years ago, first made its appearance in the group’s French-language publications, obviously intended for those Muslims who make up perhaps 10 per cent of the population of France — the nation with the largest number of Muslims in Europe. The IS wanted to eliminate “the grey zone” which it identified as those western — “Crusader”, “Christian”, etc — countries with a large Muslim immigrant community. Muslims should revolt against their European nations (or their host nations, if not actually citizens) and create conflict within the countries.

The intention was to provoke European states to “persecute” the Muslims within their frontiers in acts of reprisal for the mass killing of western Europeans — presumably non-Muslim — civilians. In fact, it didn’t matter to the IS if their victims were Muslims — since the latter were mere “apostates” who had accommodated to non-Muslim societies and adapted to their secular rules for economic or political advantage. In a mass flight from the vengeful “Crusaders”, according to a French edition of Dabiq in early 2015, the Muslims of Europe would migrate to the caliphate of the Islamic State “and thereby escape persecution from the Crusader governments and citizens”.

In other words, they wished to provoke the non-Muslim people of Europe to reject their millions of Muslim fellow-citizens. An uprising among IS followers — however few — would produce mass murder by the “Christians” of Europe. That was — and obviously still is — the strategy. And it has had some success. The rise of far-right parties in both western and eastern Europe has a strong anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant detonation, and the hunt for political power by those who wish to discriminate against Muslims (or “persecute” them) has been fuelled by mass killings carried out in the name of the IS. Thus Angela Merkel, the angel of the one million refugees who sought sanctuary in Europe last year, is herself now dressing in the dark robes of Mephistopheles (by objecting, ironically, to the dark robes worn by Muslim women). Faustus, of course, was a character of German folklore long before Christopher Marlowe wrote about him.

But the IS strategy has far more recent precedents than a man (or woman) who sells his soul to the devil. First a health warning: there is no connection between the IS and the man widely regarded as the Greatest Briton in history. But when Britain remained the only country still under arms against Nazi Germany in 1940, Winston Churchill believed that the occupied people of Europe should rise up against their Nazi occupiers. He believed — not without reason — that western Europeans under German domination were settling far too peacefully into the role of quiescent occupied peoples, making accommodation for — and creating collaboration with — Hitler’s army and Gestapo.

Churchill was right. Crushed by economic as well as military disaster, the people of France, Denmark, Holland and Belgium were far too busy trying to protect their families and feed their children to start an insurrection. Furthermore, they knew — as Churchill knew — that any armed resistance to German occupation would immediately lead to the murder of hostages, the destruction of villages, executions, deportations and mass murder — the sort of “persecution” which the IS obviously hopes, however vainly, would be visited upon the Muslims of Europe if they continue their attacks on the European continent and, indeed, in Britain.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1304110/the-far-right-is-helping-is-as-it-tries-to-destroy-western-tolerance-and-liberalism

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Pope Francis: Capitalism Is “Terrorism Against All Of Humanity”

ALANNA KETLER

DECEMBER 23, 2016

Once again, Pope Francis has made global headlines, shocking reporters late Sunday after blaming the “god of money” for the extremist violence that is taking place in Europe and the Middle East. A ruthless global economy, he argues, leads disenfranchised people to violence.

Responding to a question from a journalist about whether or not there is a link between Islam and terrorism, more specifically addressing the fatal attack on a priest by a Muslim extremist in France last week, Pope Francis said, “Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person.” “This is fundamental terrorism, against all humanity,” he continued.

“I ask myself how many young people that we Europeans have left devoid of ideals, who do not have work. Then they turn to drugs and alcohol or enlist in [the Islamic State, or ISIS],” he said.

He believes no religion has a monopoly on violence, and his own experience in inter-religious dialogue has shown him that Muslims seek “peace and encounter.” “It is not right and it is not just to say that Islam is terroristic.”

“If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent,” Pope Francis said, dismissing Islamic State as a “small fundamentalist group” not representative of Islam as a whole.

“In almost all religions there is always a small group of fundamentalists,” even in the Catholic Church, the Pope said. They are not necessarily physically violent, however. “One can kill with the tongue as well as the knife,” he explains.

Last Wednesday, Pope Francis made similar remarks, arguing that the current conflicts in the Middle East are wars over economic and political interests, not religion, or what is generally known as “Islamic Terrorism.”

“There is war for money,” he said on Wednesday. “There is war for natural resources. There is war for the domination of peoples. Some might think I am speaking of religious war. No. All religions want peace; it is other people who want war.”

A Bold Statement

This may seem self-evident to some of you, but for many people, these are radical claims. He shows a remarkable level of honesty and progressive thinking by recognizing the real reason for this decades-long conflict, and makes a great point by stating that all people involved in this war also want peace as well.

Full report at:

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/12/23/pope-francis-capitalism-is-terrorism-against-all-of-humanity/

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Putin warms to Trump, flexes muscles on Syria

December 24, 2016

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday appeared to cosy up to US President-elect Donald Trump while asserting his authority as the key powerbroker in Syria.

At his annual end-of-year press conference, the confident Kremlin strongman praised Trump for tapping into the public mood in the US to claim his surprise win in November. "He went to the end, though nobody believed that he would win except us," Putin said.

Ties between Moscow and Washington hit their lowest point since the Cold War under President Barack Obama due to the Ukraine crisis and Russia's military intervention in Syria.

But the election of Trump, who praised Putin as a strong leader, has provided a surprise fillip for the Kremlin, with the Russian economy still struggling due to Western sanctions and lower oil prices.

"Trump during the campaign was saying that he thinks it's right to normalise Russian-American ties and said it for sure won't get worse as it can't get any worse," Putin said.

"I agree and together we'll think about how to make them better," he said, adding he would head to the US for talks if Trump invited him.

Officials in the US have accused Russia of cyber attacks aimed at interfering with the US vote, with some alleging Moscow sought to tip the balance in favour of Trump. Putin, however, backed Trump's rejection of the allegations, insisting "as the president-elect said entirely correctly, who knows who these hackers were?"

The Russian leader also sought to play down a potential nuclear stand-off with the future US president, a day after they both pledged to bolster their nuclear capabilities. Putin insisted there was "nothing unusual" about Trump's call in a tweet Thursday to bolster America's nuclear capability, hours after the Russian leader ordered his top brass to strengthen Moscow's "nuclear potential".

"We will never look to be dragged into an armed race and to spend resources that we can't afford," Putin said, after insisting he understood the US was the stronger military power but "we just say that we are stronger than any aggressor".

While Putin was offering warm words for the incoming US leader, he was also flexing Russia's muscles as the key powerbroker on the conflict in Syria.

The Syrian army said late Thursday that it had retaken full control of Aleppo, scoring its biggest victory against opposition forces since the civil war erupted in 2011. "The liberation of Aleppo from radical elements is a very important part of the normalisation in Syria, and I hope, for the region overall," Putin told defence minister Sergei Shoigu in a meeting aired just as the press conference was starting.

Putin said later during his marathon press conference that he hoped that fresh peace talks could get all sides in the conflict to agree to a nationwide ceasefire.

"The next step must be the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement on all of Syria's territory," he said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/putin-warms-to-trump-flexes-muscles-on-syria

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Is Kosovo a breeding ground for Islamists?

23.12.2016

Almost 2 million people live in Kosovo. Since 2012, 316 people - including women and children - have left the country to join the so-called "Islamic State" terrorist militia. Of those 316 people, 58 have been killed and 117 have returned to Kosovo, said Baki Kelani, spokesman for Kosovo's ministry of the interior. According to Kelani, 237 people are being investigated for planning and taking part in terrorist attacks outside Kosovo and also for recruiting, supporting and funding terrorists. Since 2013, 127 of the suspects have been arrested, including an alleged ringleader.

Identity shift

There is no doubt that radical Islam is a growing problem in the predominately-Muslim Balkan country, especially because Kosovar authorities have little control of the situation despite international support. Behind the numbers lie major social problems: widespread poverty, 40 percent unemployment and a lack of prospects. The ensuing frustration, combined with a growing tendency towards a strict interpretation of Islam, has never been seen before in Kosovo.

 Kosovo Festnahmen IS Kämpfer 12.08.2014 (Reuters)

A suspected 'IS' fighter was arrested upon returning to Kosovo in 2014

According to figures from security experts, 50,000 Kosovars are now members of conservative Islamic groups. The vast majority of the population is Muslim: Albanians, Roma, Turks and Bosniaks. Now, one sees more and more women and girls wearing headscarves in the capital Pristina and not just rural areas. Even fully covered women are no longer a rare sight. It is already obvious that the traditional, liberal Islam of the Ottoman period, strongly influenced by Sufi mysticism, is being suppressed. It is being increasingly replaced by strict forms of the Saudi Wahhabism that has made its way to the Balkans.

In the summer of 2016, the Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) published a study about the influence of religion on Kosovar identity. According to Lulzim Peci, author of the study, 57 percent of Muslim Albanians feel Albanian and 32 percent defined themselves as Muslims first and then as Albanians. "We see a great shift in identity from ethnicity, the so-called language nation, to a religious-ethnic society," said Peci in an interview with DW. If this process continues, the political scientist believes it may lead to the demise of "Albanianism," i.e. Albanian nationalism, and a secular, pro-Western Kosovo.

The influence of Islamic countries

The Islamization of Albanians gradually began after the end of the Kosovo War. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Islamic nations invested massively in the reconstruction of the country and the building of mosques. They sent preachers to Kosovo and helped the needy.

Today, there are 742 mosques in Kosovo, along with other Muslim buildings, such as Quran schools. But with the money and the preachers came a different kind of Islam, previously unknown in the country. Political scientist Agon Demjaha, who was involved in the study on the formation of Kosovar identity, said that politicians and parties were for a long time too indifferent and indecisive about this development. The sociologist Smajl Hasan also blames Kosovo's poor education system. He claims it has not placed any value on developing a Kosovar identity based on religious tolerance and a multi-religious identity.

Representatives of the Islamic community refuse to be blamed for any wrongdoing. Theologian Besa Ismaili said that none of the Kosovars who joined terrorist networks came from her community and added that fighting in the name of religion is wrong. She also said that this ideology has never been widespread among Albanians. She stressed that terrorism has nothing to do with faith. "There is no extremism among the true believers; there is no violence in faith, but instead, only love," said Ismaili.

Full report at:

http://www.dw.com/en/is-kosovo-a-breeding-ground-for-islamists/a-36898392

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South Asia

 

Afghan forces kill 22 Taliban militants

December 23, 2016

KABUL: At least 22 armed Taliban were killed and another was wounded in clearing operations carried out by security troops in three provinces of the war torn country, Afghan officials say here on Friday.

The operations took place in outskirts of Kandahar, Kunduz, Samangan provinces, in which 22 armed Taliban lost their lives and another was injured.

Numerous weapons and explosive were also seized by security troops in the operations, Afghan media added.

http://nation.com.pk/international/23-Dec-2016/afghan-forces-kill-22-taliban-militants

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5 militants killed, 2 wounded in Uruzgan airstrike in South of Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Dec 24 2016

At least five militants were killed and two others were wounded in an airstrike in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the airstrike was carried out in Chora district of Uruzgan by the Afghan Air Force.

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

Uruzgan is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to other insurgent groups are actively operating in a number of its remote district.

The Afghan security forces launched an operation in this province earlier this month amid ongoing efforts by the militants to stage attacks in some key parts of the province.

The security officials said the operations were launched with the support of the Afghan air force and other security institutions and at least 18 militants were killed during the first days of the operations.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/5-militants-killed-2-wounded-in-uruzgan-airstrike-in-south-of-afghanistan-02538

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1 killed in attack on ex-Taliban leader Mullah Salam Zaeef’s home in Kabul

Dec 24 2016

At least one person was killed after a group of gunmen attacked the house of ex-Taliban leader Mawlavi Abdul Salam Zaeef in Kabul.

According to the security officials, the incident took place on Friday evening in Kamari area of Bagrami district.

Head of the Criminal Investigation Department Fraidoon Obaidi confirmed the incident and said an investigation is underway along with a search operation to detain the militants.

The officials are saying that a security guard of Mawlavi Zaeef was killed in the attack and the gunmen who were riding motorcycles managed to flee the area.

No group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Mawlavi Zaeef is the former Taliban leader who was working as the group’s ambassador to Islamabad during the Taliban regime.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/1-killed-in-attack-on-ex-taliban-leader-mullah-salam-zaeefs-home-in-kabul-02534

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Drone strike target ISIS loyalists in East of Afghanistan, 2 killed

Dec 24 2016

At least two loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed in an airstrike conducted by the US forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Local security officials said the airstrike was carried out on Friday in Haska Mina district, leaving two loyalists of the terror group.

The officials further added that the militants were targeted in Darwazagi area of Haska Mina district.

The loyalists of the terror group have not commented regarding the report so far.

Earlier, at least eight loyalist of the terror group were killed in a drone strike conducted by the US forces in Haska Mina district.

Both the Afghan and US forces conducted regular strikes against the loyalists of the terror group in this province.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/drone-strike-target-isis-loyalists-in-east-of-afghanistan-2-killed-02535

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Muslim man found dead after speaking to media in Myanmar

Dec 24, 2016

YANGON: The headless body of a Muslim villager has been found days after he spoke to reporters on a rare government-guided media tour of restive northern Rakhine State, Myanmar police said on Friday.

Troops have taken control of the dangerous and remote region bordering Bangladesh since Oct 9 when armed men raided police posts, killing nine officers. At least 34,000 Rohingya Muslims have since fled to Bangladesh, taking with them allegations of mass-killings, rape and torture at the hands of Myanmar security forces.

The Myanmar government has vigorously denied the accusations, setting off the latest war of words over a stateless minority whose status is one of the country’s most incendiary issues.

Police did not give a motive for the killing of the 41-year-old man, whose body was found floating in a river, but said he spoke to Burmese journalists on Wednesday in Ngakhura village. “On Thursday his family said he had disappeared after giving interviews to journalists,” said Police Colonel Thet Naing in Maungdaw town. “This afternoon [Friday] I got the report his headless body was found ... we have confirmed from villagers that it is him,” he said, adding police went to the scene of the grisly find.

Troops have killed more than 80 people in Rakhine since the start of crackdown, according to official figures. Conflict analysts the International Crisis Group (ICG) say militants behind the border post attacks have also killed several Rohingya ‘informers’ perceived to be working with the Myanmar authorities.

In a statement on Friday, the President’s Office confirmed that a man — whom they identified as Shu Nar Myar — had been killed, adding that he had denied stories of military abuse when speaking to the reporters. “Shu Nar Myar is the one who revealed that there was no case of arson by the military and police forces, no rape and no unjust arrests,” the statement said.

Two Burmese reporters, who did not want to be named, told AFP that they interviewed the man on Wednesday at his village and had been contacted by police to say he was missing. The rare media tour of the area — open only to Burmese journalists — was organised by the government amid mounting pressure on de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to allow access to the conflict zone.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1304146/muslim-man-found-dead-after-speaking-to-media-in-myanmar

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Bangladesh Border Shutdown of Rohingya Could Fuel Militancy: Observers

2016-12-23

Bangladesh’s decision to seal its southeastern border to refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar could create a domestic backlash fueling militancy and sympathy for a new group of Rohingya Muslim insurgents, observers told BenarNews.

More than 30,000 Rohingya have crossed into Cox’s Bazar district from western Myanmar’s Rakhine state since early October, according to international relief agencies, but Dhaka’s policy of pushing back refugees at the border has led to at least one conservative Bangladeshi Muslim group exploiting the situation and potentially fomenting radicalism in a country already threatened by militancy, according to one expert.

His comments came in light of a research paper published last week by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG), which reported about a new anti-Myanmar rebel group made up of Rohingya emigres with links to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan as well as Bangladesh.

An attack in Maungdaw township that killed nine Burmese border policemen on Oct. 9 and sparked a crackdown by Myanmar’s army that has left scores of people dead, amid reports of widespread rape of Rohingya women and the burning of Rohingya homes, has marked the emergence of the new rebel group that itself Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY), according to the ICG report.

Titled “Myanmar: A New Muslim Insurgency in Rakhine State,” the 30-page report warned that the attack on the border post and subsequent violence could threaten prospects for stability and development in Rakhine.

“Since Oct. 9, several hundred young Rohingya men from Bangladesh have joined the fight. However, the main fighting force is made up of Muslim villagers in northern Rakhine State who have been given basic training and organized into village-level cells to limit risks of compromise,” the report said.

HaY is overseen by a committee of 20 senior leaders headquartered in Mecca and who are all Rohingya émigrés or have Rohingya heritage. They have connections in Bangladesh, Pakistan and possibly India, and some or all of the leaders have visited Bangladesh and northern Rakhine state in the last two years, ICG said.

“Institutional ties do not appear to exist, though there are some efforts to recruit around 200 Rohingya in Bangladesh trained since 2012 by an ex-RSO military commander, but never deployed due to lack of an organizational structure that HaY may potentially now offer,” the report said, referring to the Rohingya Solidarity Organization, a now defunct armed group founded in 1982.

Bangladesh policy questioned

Asif Munier, a Bangladeshi analyst on migration, said the conservative Muslim group Hefazat-e-Islam has taken advantage of the situation in Rohingya refugee camps near the border with Myanmar.

“The government’s ‘no access for Rohingyas’ policy cannot stop their entry. The hardline Islamic groups such as Hefazat-e-Islam have been exploiting the situation by providing relief to the despondent Rohingyas who make their way to Bangladesh by whatever means,” Munier told BenarNews.

“The hardline Islamic groups can radicalize easily, calling for revenge on the Myanmar army and the Buddhists. What is more alarming is these youths have been spreading across the country. They can fuel militancy in Bangladesh, too,” he said.

Despite the government’s policy to bar entry, about 34,000 Rohingya have crossed over from Myanmar since early October, according to figures from U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Police Assistant Inspector Gen. M. Maniruzzaman told BenarNews that authorities were monitoring the movements of Rohingya inside Bangladesh, where more than 300,000 are concentrated in and around Cox’s Bazar.

“We are keeping a watch on the Rohingyas so that they cannot be the tool of militancy,” he said. “In this age, this is very easy for militants of a country to join hands with similar outfits across the border and beyond.”

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews that intelligence agencies have been active in in the southeastern district to keep militants from recruiting the refugees.

Group provides aid to refugees

Meanwhile, Mohiuddin Ruhi, joint secretary-general of the Hefazat-e-Islam, an association of conservative Muslim teachers and students, told BenarNews that his group had been providing aid to Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar.

“Our Muslims brothers in Myanmar, Rohingyas, are being killed, raped and driven out for their faith. But the government is not giving them access and support. Hefazat-e-Islam is the first to come to help the Rohingyas,” Ruhi said, denying allegations that the group supports militants.

Full report at:

http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/bengali/rohingya-militants-12232016152928.html

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Counterterrorism unit raids suspected militant hideout in Dhaka

2016-12-24

A team from the counterterrorism unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has cordoned off a three-storey building at Ashkona, saying several suspected members of the Neo JMB are believed to be holed up there.

"According to our information, there are at least six Neo JMB operatives in the ground floor of the building," the unit's chief Monirul Islam told the media near the spot.

Law enforcers said they have started negotiating with the suspected militants to get them to surrender.

"We have established contact with those who are inside and asked them to surrender," Additional Deputy Commissioner Sanowar Hossain told bdnews24.com.

He said that residents of apartments on the two others floors have been evacuated.

bdnews24.com's Gulam Mujtaba Dhruba reported from the spot that fire-fighting units have been kept on a stand-by.

Full report at:

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2016/12/24/counterterrorism-unit-raids-suspected-militant-hideout-in-dhaka

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Afghan forces arrest suicide bomber trained in South Waziristan

Dec 24 2016

The Afghan security forces arrested a suicide bomber before he manage to carry out an attack on a government compound in Sharan district, located in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan.

The Afghan intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said Abdul Bari son of Akhtar Gul was arrested with the support of the police forces before he attack the district administrative compound or the security commandment.

NDS in a statement said Bari was appointed by Taliban group leader Malangiar for the attack.

The statement further added that Bari has confessed he was received two months of training in Wana of South Waziristan.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-arrest-suicide-bomber-trained-in-south-waziristan-02537

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Mideast

 

Israel rejects UN settler vote, lashes out at Obama

24 December 2016

Israel lashed out at US President Barack Obama over a UN Security Council resolution passed Friday demanding it halt settlements in Palestinian territory, while vowing it would not abide by it.

“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes,” it said.

“Israel looks forward to working with President-elect (Donald) Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”

In a rare and momentous step, the United States abstained from Friday’s vote, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

The text was passed with support from all remaining members of the 15-member council.

The landmark move by the Security Council came despite intense lobbying efforts by Israel and Trump to block the resolution.

But the Obama administration has grown increasingly frustrated with settlement building in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied for nearly 50 years.

There have been growing warnings that settlement building is fast eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They are constructed on land the Palestinians view as part of their future state and have long been seen as illegal under international law.

The United States has traditionally served as Israel’s diplomatic shield, protecting it from resolutions it opposes.

But there had been mounting speculation that Obama would allow such a resolution to pass before he leaves office on January 20.

Obama and Netanyahu have had testy relations, but Israel’s statement after the vote was particularly harsh toward the US administration, as were comments earlier in the day from an anonymous Israeli official.

The United States is Israel’s most important ally and provides it with more than $3 billion per year in defense aid.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/12/24/Israel-rejects-UN-settler-vote-lashes-out-at-Obama.html

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Arabs succeed as UN to end Israel settlements

23 December 2016

After the United States abstained from voting, the UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution demanding Israel stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, a reversal of US practice to protect Israel from United Nations action.

The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump. Israel and Trump had called on the United States to veto the measure.

It was adopted with 14 votes in favor, to a round of applause. It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

Abbas: UN vote on settlements ‘a blow’ to Israel

A UN Security Council vote to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements is a blow to Israeli policy, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday.

“The Security Council resolution is a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution,” spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Israel rejects ‘shameful anti-Israel’ resolution

Israel will not abide by the terms of the resolution adopted, a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/12/23/UN-Security-Council-to-vote-on-end-to-Israeli-settlements.html

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30 Houthis killed near Saudi-Yemen border

23 December 2016

Saudi forces carried out a night-time military operation on the regions of Jizan and Najran, after spotting Houthi and Saleh’s militias near the Saudi border, which led to 30 Houthis getting killed.

Al Arabiya correspondent said that the Saudi forces used artillery and Apache helicopters to target Houthi trenches and military vehicles.

The operation was carried out alongside other military operations that took place off the mountain in the Najran area where Saudi artillery was used in coordination with the coalition air forces.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2016/12/23/US-28-al-Qaeda-militants-in-strikes-in-Yemen.html

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Yemeni retaliatory attacks leave 16 Saudi troops, mercs dead

Dec 23, 2016

Yemeni army soldiers, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, have shot dead three Saudi troops in the kingdom’s southwestern province of Jizan and killed over a dozen mercenaries inside Yemen amid Riyadh’s relentless aerial aggression against its beleaguered southern neighbor.

According to a report by Yemen's al-Masirah television, Yemeni snipers managed to gun down a Saudi soldier in al-Mazraq area and two others in Tabat al-Hamrah hill in Jizan on Friday.

The Yemeni forces also foiled infiltration attempts by Saudi mercenaries in three fronts near the city of Ta'izz, the capital of a southwestern province with the same name, killing at least 10 mercenaries and inflicting injuries on several others.

Elsewhere, in the northern province of Jawf, Yemeni forces killed three more Saudi mercenaries after launching an artillery attack against their gatherings in al-Ghayl district.

The Yemeni forces have been staging recurrent retaliatory attacks against Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a war on the country since March 2015. The Saudi aggression, which has killed more than 11,400 in Yemen, was launched in an unsuccessful attempt to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a Saudi ally who has resigned as Yemen’s president but seeks to forcefully return to power.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/23/503185/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-airstrike-Jizan-Taizz-Jawf

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Human Rights Watch censures use of cluster bombs against Yemen

Dec 23, 2016

Human Rights Watch has censured Saudi-led forces for using banned cluster bombs in Riyadh's "unlawful" campaign against Yemen.

The rights group said on Friday that Brazilian-made rockets containing banned cluster munitions were fired on December 6. The rockets struck near two schools in Sa'ada, killing two people and wounding at least six others, including a child.

"Brazil should be on notice that its rockets are being used in unlawful attacks in the Yemeni war," said Steve Goose, the arms director at the HRW and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the international coalition of groups working to eradicate cluster munitions.

"Cluster munitions are prohibited weapons that should never be used under any circumstances due to the harm inflicted on civilians," he said.

The HRW said it had documented seven types of cluster munitions in Yemen.

People check the destruction following a Saudi airstrike on Yemen's capital, Sana'a, September 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The use of cluster munitions in the war on Yemen has faced global outcry.

Dozens of countries as well as the European Parliament have condemned the use of cluster bombs by the regime in Riyadh.

In September 2015, more than 60 countries at the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions expressed deep concern at the use of cluster munitions against Yemen.

Cluster munitions are prohibited by a 2008 treaty signed by 119 countries. Brazil and Saudi Arabia are not signatories.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/23/503147/Human-Rights-Watch-cluster-bombs-Yemen

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Turks angry over IS video of soldiers burned alive

Dec 24, 2016

BEIRUT: Turks reacted angrily on Friday on social media to a video released by the militant Islamic State group purportedly showing two captured Turkish soldiers being burned alive, while awaiting an official reaction from the government.

The 19-minute video, showing two uniformed men being hauled from a cage before being bound and torched, was posted on jihadist websites and supposedly shot in the IS-declared “Aleppo Prov­ince” in northern Syria.

The video, which sparked outrage in Turkey, came as the Turkish military was suffering its worst losses in its fight against jihadists in northern Syria, where nearly 90 civilians have been killed since Thursday in Turkish raids, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Speaking in Turkish, the killer of the two men criticises Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calls for “destruction to be sowed” in Turkey.

Despite reported difficulty in accessing some sites, especially Twitter and Facebook, internet users were widely discussing the brutal video, with one saying “it’s a nightmare”.

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were difficult to access in Turkey on Friday, according to Turkey Blocks, a website specialising in tracking internet censorship.

The traumatic images added to the pain suffered by Turks, who have had to deal with several attacks — including several claimed by IS jihadists — a bloody but failed coup and, this week, the assassination of Russia’s ambassador in Ankara.

According to pro-government news agency Anadolu, Turkish police arrested 31 people suspected of links with the IS on Friday and were hunting for 10 more. It was not clear if the arrests were linked to the video.

The shocking images recall the killing of Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian fighter pilot, who was captured by the jihadists when his plane went down in Syria in December 2014, and was later burned alive in a cage.

Before being burned, the two victims gave their names in Turkish as Fethi Sahin, born in Konya in central Turkey and Sefter Tas, a 21-year-old serving in Kilis in the south-east.

According to Turkish media, a soldier by the name of Sefter Tas was kidnapped by the IS on Sept 1, 2015, but Ankara never confirmed the capture.

The Turkish army however did confirm last month it had lost contact with two of its troops in Syria and the IS-linked propaganda agency Amaq had claimed their capture by the jihadists. Again, Turkish authorities did not confirm the alleged kidnapping.

The video came shortly after 16 Turkish soldiers were killed by IS fighters in Ankara’s biggest loss so far in its unprecedented incursion into Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1304149/turks-angry-over-is-video-of-soldiers-burned-alive

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Iran shoots down a filming drone in Tehran

December 24, 2016

BEIRUT - Iran's anti-aircraft forces shot down a drone in central Tehran on Friday as it approached the offices of the president and the supreme leader, but the unmanned aircraft later appeared to have been operated by a film crew shooting aerial footage for a documentary.

Residents in central Tehran heared loud gunfire and an explosion, they said on social media.

ILNA news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that the drone was shot down as "it approached the no-fly zone" near the office of the supreme leader.

The source later explained that the drone belonged to a documentary-making team that had permission to film but "unintentionally started moving it towards the no-fly zone."

Tehran's deputy governor general for security affairs, Mohsen Hamedani, was quoted by ISNA as saying that the state television crew were filming Friday prayers and "did not know about the prohibited airspace."

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/iran-shoots-down-a-filming-drone-in-tehran

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North America

 

Trump team seeks names of officials working to counter violent extremism

December 24, 2016

US President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has asked two Cabinet departments for the names of government officials working on programs to counter violent extremism, according to a document seen by Reuters and US officials. The requests to the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security involve a set of programs that seek to prevent violence by extremists of any stripe, including recruitment by militant Islamist groups within the United States and abroad.

Reuters could not determine why the Trump team asked for these names. The Trump team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump has frequently criticized President Barack Obama for not doing enough to battle Islamic militants and for his refusal to use the term “radical Islam” to describe Islamic State and other militant groups. Some career officials said they feared the incoming administration may be looking to undo the work that the Obama administration has done on countering violent extremism.

“They’re picking a few issues to ask for people’s names,” said one government official who spoke on condition of anonymity, reflecting wider fears that those who worked on such issues could be marginalized by the new administration.

Earlier this month, Trump representatives had asked the US Energy Department for the names of staffers who worked on climate change policy. The White House expressed concern that it may have been an attempt to target civil servants, including scientists and lawyers. The Energy Department balked at providing names and a Trump spokesman disavowed the request. The State Department declined to comment on specific requests from the Trump transition team. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

In a December 9 email, Trump representatives at the State Department sought a list of positions in the counterterrorism bureau’s office of countering violent extremism. “Please indicate names of people serving in those roles and status (political or career),” the email said, referring to political appointees and career civil servants.

Three US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a similar request had been made to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In that case, the Trump transition team asked for the names of members of an interagency task force on countering violent extremism that the Obama administration established in January, the officials said.

According to a January 8 DHS statement, the task force falls under the leadership of DHS and the Department of Justice, and includes officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counterterrorism Center and other government agencies. Several of Trump’s top national security advisers have cast the fight against Islamic militants as an existential conflict between civilizations, according to a review of their writings and public remarks.

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick for White House national security adviser, said in a post on Twitter earlier this year, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” Some counterterrorism experts say that such rhetoric can be used by militant groups to recruit, and will alienate Muslim communities whose help is needed to prevent violence.

A US official said their guess was that the Trump team will likely rebrand Obama’s generic fight against violent extremism into a specific battle against Islamic radicalization

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday that the department would be cautious about providing names of employees associated with specific issues, but left open the possibility of providing names on an organizational basis. It was unclear whether the State Department shared the names of the officials in the office on countering violent extremism or whether Homeland Security officials provided names.

“Without getting into the specifics of information either requested by the transition team or provided by the Department, I can tell you that … I know of no requests that have been denied,” a senior State Department official said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/trump-team-seeks-names-of-officials-working-to-counter-violent-extremism-4442684/

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Regina Muslim group gives thanks for mosque with food bank donation

Dec 23, 2016

Regina Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at members are donating hundreds of kilograms of food to the Regina Food Bank today as a thank-you for their new place of worship.

While the group has donated to the food bank in previous years, this year's offering is a special expression of gratitude for support the community received in building Saskatchewan's first purpose-built mosque.

1st Regina mosque built from the ground up opens

"After the construction of our brand new mosque, we established a promise to ourselves that we are here for the long run now. Every step of the way, especially in Regina, we will be supporting the community in any way possible," said Imam Zeeshan Ahmed.

Mahmood Mosque

The Mahmood mosque opened last month. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community says the donation is to show gratitude for local support for the first purpose-built mosque in Saskatchewan. (Shahida Riffat/Twitter)

The donation comes at an important time, said Regina Food Bank CEO Steve Compton.

"We've seen, on average, 500 more people than the same time last year, each month for the last many months," he said.

Full report at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/ahmadiyya-muslim-community-food-bank-donation-1.3910555

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UN demands end to Israeli settlements after US abstention

MASOOD HAIDER

Dec 24, 2016

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands, with the United States abstaining.

Diplomats at the world body were in awe as the Obama administration allowed the Security Council to adopt the resolution by abstaining. The vote was 14-0.

The resolution was adopted to a round of applause.

It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

The vote was 14-0.

The decision not to veto broke an American tradition of serving as Israel’s diplomatic shield, and defied pressure by President-elect Donald J. Trump and Israel, the New York Times wrote.

The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote on Friday by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Mr Trump. Israel and Mr Trump had called on the US to veto the measure.

The US abstention was seen as a parting shot by President Barack Obama who has had an acrimonious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and who has made the settlements a major target of peace efforts that have proven ultimately futile.

The resolution demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” and said the establishment of settlements by Israel had “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1304150/un-demands-end-to-israeli-settlements-after-us-abstention

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FBI warns of possible IS-inspired attacks in U.S.

December 24, 2016

U.S. federal authorities cautioned local law enforcement on Friday to be aware that supporters of Islamic State have been calling for their sympathizers to attack holiday gatherings in the United States, including churches, a law enforcement official said.

The warning, issued in a bulletin to local law enforcement, said there were no known specific, credible threats.

The notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security was issued out of an abundance of caution after a publicly available list of U.S. churches was published on pro-Islamic State websites.

"The FBI is aware of the recent link published online that urges attacks against U.S. churches. As with similar threats, the FBI is tracking this matter while we investigate its credibility," the FBI said in a statement.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/fbi-warns-of-possible-islamic-state-inspired-attacks-in-u-s

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Local Muslims condemn alleged ISIS call to attack U.S. churches

December 23, 2016

The Windsor Islamic Council expressed its “utter dismay” and condemnation Friday of a reported call by ISIS for its followers to attack churches in the U.S. during the holiday season.

“Clearly such a barbaric call is meant to (stoke) fear in our communities and to turn us against one another,” the council stated in a news release responding to the alleged threat. “It is especially disturbing that it comes at a time when our fellow Christians are celebrating their holidays.”

The council is an umbrella organization with membership that includes the Windsor Islamic Association, Al Hijra Mosque, and the Windsor chapters of the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim Association of Canada.

Earlier this week, news organizations reported that the ISIS terrorist group had published a list of churches in the U.S. to attack during the holiday season.

Full report at:

http://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/local-muslims-condemn-alleged-isis-call-to-attack-u-s-churches

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Africa

 

Nigeria: Muslim Ummah Urged to Emulate Prophet Muhammad

23 DECEMBER 2016

Muslim Ummah (Community) in Nigeria has been urged to emulate the exemplary characters of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that made him unique among mankind.

Founder and Chief Missioner (worldwide) of the Zawiyatul-Sofwatur-Rahmatil-Islamiyyat (ZASRAM), Ota, Ogun State, Sheik Abdur-Razaq Onaolapo Kasolayo, who made the call last Sunday at his mosque's Maoludi Nabiyi said "it was our Prophet's character of honesty, trust worthiness, justice and fairness to all without discrimination that made his community an orderly one during his life time."

According to the cleric, if all the community leaders of nowadays imbibe the holy Prophet's character in their day-to-day affairs, "our society would have been better for it," reminding that, "the almighty Allah is so pleased with his golden messenger's character so much that he described him in the glorious Qur'an that, 'surely, you are a man of great character',".

The Ifon, Osun State born cleric, who regretted the disorderliness in the society today blamed the decay on the leadership of various communities, lamenting that "the leadership lack quality because of their chaotic way of life."

The concerned Islamic Scholar therefore implored both leaders and followers in any community today to turn a new leaf enthusing that, "if we all agree to change our attitudinal behavior, the society would be better for all of us."

He emphasized the power good behavior wield in the society just as he reminded his congregation that, "Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) converted a lot of pagans to Islam through his behavioral pattern," asserting that, "even the non believers of his time agreed that he is of great character."

Any leader that worth his salt, Kasolayo stated, "should work his talk by saying, 'do as I do and not as I say'."

http://allafrica.com/stories/201612230626.html

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Libyan plane hijacking ends peacefully in Malta

December 24, 2016

VALLETTA - Two men armed with a grenade and at least one gun hijacked a Libyan plane with 117 people on board Friday and diverted it to Malta before releasing everyone and surrendering, officials said.

The Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 was en route from Sabha in southern Libya to the capital Tripoli when it was taken over and forced to fly to Malta, sparking a four-hour runway standoff.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the pair, probably of Libyan nationality, had given up a grenade and a pistol when they were arrested and a second pistol was found on the plane.

Libyan Foreign Minister Taher Siala from Libya's fledgling national unity government said the two were supporters of slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi, whose death in 2011 has plunged Libya into chaos.

Siala said they wanted to set up a pro-Kadhafi political party and would ask for political asylum in Malta, although Muscat said they had not done so.

The plane landed at Malta International Airport at 11:34 am (1034 GMT), with 109 passengers, six crew and the two hijackers on board.

All flights in and out of the island were initially shut down while the Maltese military conducted negotiations.

It stood immobile for around an hour on a secondary runway surrounded by military vehicles, before a door opened and a first group of women and children were seen descending from a mobile staircase.

Dozens more passengers followed minutes later.

Muscat said the hijackers were told there would be no negotiations unless all passengers were released.

After the release of all passengers and two of the crew members, the hijackers were holding only the four remaining staff "for a period of time," he said.

Following further negotiations "the hijackers agreed to free the remaining members of the crew and to surrender," he continued, adding that "the hijackers did not make any requests".

Armed Maltese military personnel were later seen storming the plane.

All passengers and crew members would be interrogated before a charter flight takes them back to Libya, Muscat said.

Hijackings have become relatively rare since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States led to increased security on flights.

Other recent hijackings have been carried out by individuals for reasons ranging from personal to political, and almost all ended swiftly and safely.

In the most recent incident in March, a man hijacked an Egyptair flight from Alexandria to Cairo and forced it to land in Cyprus so he could see his ex-wife.

Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa was described as "psychologically unstable" and claimed to have explosives strapped to his waist, but gave himself up after releasing fellow travellers.

In February 2014, an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Rome with 202 people on board was diverted by its unarmed copilot to Geneva where he asked for asylum.

During the crisis, Muscat spoke to Libya's prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the north African country's unity government.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/libyan-plane-hijacking-ends-peacefully-in-malta

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Deal reached in DR Congo to allow president to stay in office for another year

Dec 23, 2016

The opposition and the government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have agreed on a deal to allow President Joseph Kabila remain in office for an additional year in return for not seeking a third term, the opposition has announced.

“Kabila stays for one year,” opposition leader Martin Fayulu said on Friday, adding, “He will not try to stand for a new term.”

The unexpected deal between the opposing sides came after dozens of people were killed in anti-government protests this week. The United Nations (UN) said on Friday that some 40 people were killed.

A government spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the deal, which requires final approval by all the delegates at negotiations mediated by the country’s Catholic Church.

Jean Marc Kabund, the secretary general of the DR Congo’s largest opposition party, the UDPS, warned that the deal was not yet closed.

“Today is the last day (of talks),” he said, adding, “It’s make it or break it.”

President Kabila’s second term in office expired on Tuesday. According to the constitution, a new president must be elected now. However, Kabila has remained in office as a presidential election scheduled for last month was postponed because of what the government said were delays in registering voters.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/23/503120/Africa-Congo-DRC-Kabila

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Pakistan

 

Over 23pc seminaries in Sindh found to be illegal

HASAN MANSOOR

Dec 24, 2016

KARACHI: Out of more than 10,000 madressahs functioning across the province, the Sindh government has sealed 2,309 seminaries which were unregistered or being run ‘illegally’, while all the remaining 7,724 seminaries have been geo-tagged, it emerged on Friday.

Close to a million students, including 818 foreigners, are enrolled with the seminaries in Sindh, according to officials.

A Sindh home ministry report shows that Special Branch had completed the much-awaited geo-tagging of some 7,724 madressahs. “We have completed the task given to us by the National Counter Terrorism Authority, now the location of every seminary in Sindh is known to us,” said a senior official in the home ministry.

Geo-tagging is the process of digitally identifying and locating places through latitude and longitude coordinates, which enables the authorities to make the required data for any place it desires readily available.

All the remaining 7,724 madressahs across the province geo-tagged

The report said the government sealed 2,309 madressahs across the province for various reasons, as some of them were built on illegally occupied land, others were unregistered, and some others were being run without government permission.

In Karachi, 623 out of total 3,733 madressahs were sealed, while in Hyderabad division, 910 out of total 2,201 madressahs were closed.

Among other parts of the province, 420 out of total 1,536 seminaries in Sukkur, 281 of the 750 madressahs in Mirpurkhas and 75 out of 1,037 seminaries in Larkana division were closed as they were unregistered or being run illegally.

Madressah bill

However, the provincial government has so far remained unable to approve a report that was presented to the senior authorities about the Deeni Madaris Bill, 2016.

While it has been approved by the provincial cabinet for legislation, the Sindh government has failed to approve it so far apparently due to its criticism by various religious groups including some of the banned organisations.

Sharing salient features of the bill, the report said the law would require a no-objection certificate issued by the deputy commissioner concerned along with verification of the ownership of the land where the madressah was established or was proposed to be established.

It added that the law would bind the owners and managers of seminaries to also require a no-objection certificate issued by the superintendent of police and an approved building plan issued by the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA). Besides, the report said, they would be required under the proposed law to obtain a certificate issued by the religious affairs ministry that the faculty of the madressah had fulfilled the required criteria to impart religious education.

It needed more than a year to complete the task by the provincial authorities though Islamabad had wanted the relevant authorities to finish the exercise last year.

“Earlier, we thought that the whole exercise would be completed within a month, but that too was ambitious. We have consumed several months,” he added.

Officials in Islamabad said geo-tagging of madressahs was among the key points envisaged under the National Action Plan to focus on and curb all possible routes of terrorism.

Leaning to militancy

Months earlier Sindh had identified and planned a crackdown on some 93 madressahs having ‘leanings to militancy’ in the city. However, the report is silent on the issue as it did not mention if action had been taken against any of them.

Officials said Punjab had completed geo-tagging of madressahs last year after screening over 13,000 seminaries in the province.

Similarly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa termed 150 madressahs ‘sensitive’ after mapping more than 3,000 seminaries in province, while Balochistan too has completed geo-tagging of its madressahs long ago.

About the same exercise in Sindh, the officials said the province had been faced with completely different challenges than the rest of the country that caused a delay in accomplishing the task.

Published in Dawn December 24th, 2016

http://www.dawn.com/news/1304103/over-23pc-seminaries-in-sindh-found-to-be-illegal

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UNGA adopts Pak-sponsored resolution stressing inter-religious dialogue

December 24, 2016

UNITED NATIONS - The UN General Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution, by consensus, on promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue to advance a culture of peace and non-violence based on education, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation in the world.

Sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines, the 43-power text reaffirmed the solemn commitment of all States to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

First introduced in 2004 as a response to the fatal theory of the 'Clash of Civilisation' that followed the 9/11 attacks, the resolution condemned  any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination ; and underlines the importance of interrelgious and intercultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, and peace and development in the world.

In its preambular section, the resolution -- for the first time -- acknowledged the role of China's "Belt and Road" initiative, which includes CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) ,  in strengthening people-to-people bond and promoting mutual understanding and cooperation.

Presenting the text to the 193-member Assembly, Pakistan' s acting Ambassador to the UN, Nabeel Munir, said that it was an outcome of strong cooperation among member States.

He also recognised UNESCO’s crucial role in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue. 

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/24-Dec-2016/unga-adopts-pak-sponsored-resolution-stressing-inter-religious-dialogue

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Sixth grader in Pakistan sues President House officials over plagiarism

December 24, 2016

A sixth grader in Pakistan, through his father, has sued officials at the President House at the Islamabad High Court, accusing them for plagiarising and using his speech without his consent. Eleven-year-old Mohammad Sabeel Haider, a student of Islamabad Model College for Boys, said on Friday that he was chosen to deliver a speech at the President House in Islamabad on December 22, reports the Dawn.

The ceremony was recorded and is supposed to be aired on Pakistan Television on December 25, marking the 141st birth anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. However, when Sabeel arrived at the President’s House, he was informed he will no longer be delivering the speech.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/sixth-grader-in-pakistan-sues-president-house-officials-over-plagiarism-4442733/

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Pakistan Will Never Be A Failed State: Zardari

24 December 2016

KARACHI: Former president and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari Friday said that Pakistan would never be a failed state and his party would continue to support and strengthen democracy.

Addressing workers and supporters upon his return to the country here at Old Jinnah Terminal after a self-imposed exile of 18 months in Dubai, he said the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) would not let the democracy be derailed as it "believes in democratic struggle."

Zardari said the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz's mandate was accepted and the PPP handed over the reins of government to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz through a transitional democratic process.

Speaking about Kashmir, Zardari said despite issues on borders, Pakistan was safe and Kashmir would definitely become part of Pakistan. Hoisting of Pakistan's flag in Kashmir was the symbol of hope, he remarked.

He said it was time for Pakistan, China and the region to prosper. "We started working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for the betterment of future generations," he said adding that CPEC was the project for progress of the country.

The PPP Co-chairman stated that he had brought the message of hope for the people, democratic set-up and the country.

PPP senior leaders, including former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Rehman Malik, Qamar Zaman Kaira, and others were also present on the bulletproof truck.

Full report at:

http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/world/332990-pakistan-will-never-be-a-failed-state-zardari.html

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Myth of MQM, Mohajirs being inseparable is no more, Kamal tells big PSP public meeting

Dec 24, 2016

HYDERABAD: Pak Sar­za­meen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal has said that today’s public meeting of his party in the Pucca Qila ground has buried the myth that Mohajirs and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement of Altaf Hussain are inseparable. “This narrative was used to scare the establishment ... as if the MQM is done away with, Mohajirs will opt for a revolt”, he said.

He was addressing the first ever PSP public meeting in Pucca Qila ground on Friday evening. PSP senior vice-chairman Anis Ahmed Advocate, vice-chairman Ashfaq Mangi, Dr Saghir Ahmed, Atta Kurd, Iftikhar Randhawa and others also spoke.

“You have rejected this narrative that has been sold over the last 30 years to the establishment, governments and intellectuals. These stakeholders were made to believe that Urdu-speaking people cannot be separated from the MQM or Altaf Hussain regardless of the fact how corrupt their leadership is or even if it is working for [the Indian intelligence agency] RAW”, said Mr Kamal.

Then came Aug 22, when followers of Altaf Hussain staged a drama to sell this narrative again, he said, and noted that the establishment, analysts and government bought it in spite of the fact that he [Mr Kamal] had been telling them that Mohajirs were an educated nation whose forefathers gave sacrifices of two million people.

He said he had trust in this community and this trust was manifested in [the strength of] this gathering.

“I feel proud today. You have made it clear to them that you are educated, you believe in harmony and civilised attitude; and you have buried that narrative,” he said.

The PSP chief said Mohajirs had proved that they were with the Pakistani flag and those who considered them ‘insects’ should mend their ways. Another lie associated with the Urdu-speaking people was that they wanted to separate urban areas from Sindh. “The Urdu-speaking people have buried this lie as well by hosting different communities here in this ground,” he said.

He repeated his earlier observations that today 350,000 newborns would die from malnutrition and there was stunted growth among children but nobody cared about it. He said he did not want to become a leader of Kashmir but to be leader of those dying newborns. “Ten million children face stunting and we have become accustomed to observing anniversaries. No one knows that the National Accountability Bureau really curbs corruption. Political leadership is afraid of holding a census in the country and in the absence of realistic statistics of population, one could not expect proper planning for development. He said that it was the apex court that got the local government elections held.

According to him, Karachi is among the 10 cities where people do not want to live. “Your watchmen [leaders] have themselves become dacoits,” he remarked. He said that 2017 would mark the year of people getting their rights because he would not wait until 2018. He said he did not believe in intrigues but he would not let people die silently either. Cities and their streets would give judgements in favour of people because the PSP would stage protests on people’s issues, he added.

Mr Kamal urged people to surround their elected representatives as well as chairmen of union committees because nobody was going to stop them from holding such protests.

“Now you [Mohajirs] do not have to send eight per cent of commission to London as the fee of ‘Bhai’s’ lawyers or for his lobbying,” he said.

When people would start protesting under the aegis of the PSP, the very parliamentarians whose resignations were being demanded [by Altaf Hussain] would certainly do that. He announced that a similar ‘Awami adalat’ in Karachi on Jan 29 would be held, which would prove to be the last nail in the coffin of ‘mafaad parast’ elements (vested interests).

The PSP chief urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to redress grievances of Sindh instead of “mortgaging” it. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari should serve people if he wanted to become premier, he said, and regretted a statement made by the Sindh chief minister in the provincial assembly that 19,000 jobs were to be given to PPP activists alone.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1304130/myth-of-mqm-mohajirs-being-inseparable-is-no-more-kamal-tells-big-psp-public-meeting

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‘PML-N ministers, advisers did nothing except raking in money’

24-Dec-16

LAHORE: Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Senator Sirajul Haq said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has not fulfilled any of its election promises during the last three years, and the only performance of its ministers/advisers was to augment their bank balances and properties.

Talking to the media at Mansoora after the opening session of the JI's central shoora, Siraj said that the rulers had made the country an open market for India, due to which the balance of trade between the two countries had been disturbed.

He said that the country's industry and agriculture were on the brink of ruin.

He said that the federal finance minister was a 'loan specialist' and had burdened the country under the Himalayas of loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The JI chief said that if the judiciary disappointed the nation on the issue of corruption, the masses would hold courts on roads and crossings where the hands of the oppressed masses would be on the throat of the plunderers.

He said it seemed that the courts wanted someone else to bear the burden of cleansing corruption. He said the outgoing chief justice of the Supreme Court had passed the Panama leaks case onto the incoming chief justice, adding that it would have been a matter of pride for him to have decided it himself.

He said the JI had approached the judiciary because it believed that the courts could play the most effective role to wipe out corruption.

Condemning the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) provision of plea bargain, Sirajul Haq said the institution was giving full opportunity to the plunderers to amass wealth and then to turn to it (NAB) for redemption.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/punjab/24-Dec-16/pml-n-ministers-advisers-did-nothing-except-raking-in-money

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Pledge reiterated to purge country of terrorism

December 24, 2016

MULTAN-Speakers at a peace seminar paid glowing tribute to the martyrs of Army Public School and resolved to purge the country of terrorists and their hideouts.

The seminar was organised by Working Group for the Promotion of Peace and Harmony set up by Punjab Higher Education Commission here at BZ University on Friday. The proceedings were chaired by Maj-Gen Muhammad Arif Malik, GOC Armoured Division First.

Speaking on the occasion, Maj-Gen M Arif Malik said that the Peshawar school tragedy united the nation on one point agenda that the epicentres for the terrorism must be destroyed. "That's why the security agencies of the country have a unanimous support from the nation in ongoing operation against the terrorists," he added. He pointed out that the biggest challenge being faced by the country is anti-Pakistan forces and the entire nation including students, teachers, lawyers and engineers have to unite at one platform to defeat them. He said that the students are the future of the nation and their good performance would bring Pakistan among the developed nations.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/24-Dec-2016/pledge-reiterated-to-purge-country-of-terrorism

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Rangers arrested two suspects of MQM militant wing in Karachi

December 23, 2016

The rangers on Friday arrested two members belonging to Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) militant wing in Karachi.

According to details, the operation was conducted on a tip off received about the presence of criminal elements in Garden area.

The security personnel apprehended two suspects Asghar Khan and Mohammad Abbas and also confiscated huge cache of weapons including eight SMGs, seven repeating rifles, two seven MM rifles, three pistols, 9882 different kinds of rounds and three bore pistols.

Rangers spokesman said that the arms were brought to sabotage law and order situation in the metropolis.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/23-Dec-2016/rangers-arrested-two-suspects-of-mqm-militant-wing-in-karachi

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Arab World

 

88 dead in Turkish raids on IS-held Syria town

December 24, 2016

BEIRUT - At least 88 civilians have been killed in 24 hours of Turkish air strikes on an Islamic State group bastion in northern Syria, a monitoring group said Friday.

A barrage of raids hit Al-Bab on Thursday, killing 72 civilians including 21 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Bombardment continued on Friday, leaving another 16 civilians dead, including three children. "Eighty-eight civilians have been killed in 24 hours," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

He said it was the bloodiest attack by Turkish forces that his monitoring group had recorded since Ankara began its intervention in Syria in late August. The Observatory says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved. Meanwhile, Turks reacted angrily Friday on social media to a video released by the Islamic State group purportedly showing two captured Turkish soldiers being burned alive, while awaiting an official reaction from the government.

The 19-minute video, showing two uniformed men being hauled from a cage before being bound and torched, was posted on militant websites and supposedly shot in the IS-declared "Aleppo Province" in northern Syria.

The video, which sparked outrage in Turkey, came as the Turkish military was suffering its worst losses in its fight against militants in northern Syria, where nearly 90 civilians have been killed since Thursday in Turkish raids, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Speaking in Turkish, the killer of the two men criticises Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calls for "destruction to be sowed" in Turkey.

By mid-Friday, the Turkish authorities had not yet reacted but Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim were due to speak later in the day in Izmir in western Turkey. Despite reported difficulty in accessing some sites, especially Twitter and Facebook, internet users were widely discussing the brutal video, with one saying "it's a nightmare".

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were difficult to access in Turkey on Friday, according to Turkey Blocks, a website specialising in tracking internet censorship.

The traumatic images added to the pain suffered by Turks, who have had to deal with several attacks - including several claimed by IS militants - a bloody but failed coup and, this week, the assassination of Russia's ambassador in Ankara.

According to pro-government news agency Anadolu, Turkish police arrested 31 people suspected of links with IS on Friday and were hunting for 10 more. It was not clear if the arrests were linked to the video.

The shocking images recall the killing of Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian fighter pilot, who was captured by the militants when his plane went down in Syria in December 2014, and was later burned alive in a cage.

Before being burned, the two victims gave their names in Turkish as Fethi Sahin, born in Konya in central Turkey and Sefter Tas, a 21-year-old serving in Kilis in the southeast.

According to Turkish media, a soldier by the name of Sefter Tas was kidnapped by IS on September 1, 2015, but Ankara never confirmed the capture.

The Turkish army however did confirm last month it had lost contact with two of its troops in Syria and the IS-linked propaganda agency Amaq had claimed their capture by the militants. Again, Turkish authorities did not confirm the alleged kidnapping.

The video came shortly after 16 Turkish soldiers were killed by IS fighters in Ankara's biggest loss so far in its unprecedented incursion into Syria.

They were killed in a succession of attacks around the Syrian town of Al-Bab on Wednesday that included three suicide car bombings.

The video was also published just hours after Erdogan vowed no let-up in the ongoing campaign.

"Yes, maybe we will have to lay martyrs to rest," he said in a speech in Ankara.

"But we are determined to preserve their memory and protect what they left us and continue this struggle."

With Turkish involvement in the battle intensifying, the Syrian Observatory said at least 88 civilians had been killed in 24 hours of Turkish air strikes on an Islamic State group bastion in northern Syria.

At least 35 Turkish soldiers have been killed since the August 24 start of Turkey's campaign in Syria codenamed Operation Euphrates Shield.

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/88-dead-in-turkish-raids-on-is-held-syria-town

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Syria Army, Civilians Reclaim Ruined Aleppo Streets

December 24, 2016

ALEPPO - Syrian troops cemented their hold on Aleppo on Friday after retaking full control of the city, as residents anxious to return to their homes moved through its ruined streets.

The army announced on Thursday it had recaptured the former rebel stronghold of east Aleppo following a landmark evacuation deal that saw thousands of opposition fighters and residents bussed out. It was the biggest victory for President Bashar al-Assad's forces in nearly six years of civil war and a major win for his foreign backers, with key ally Russia hailing the recapture as "very important" step.

Braving the cold, war-weary residents crossed districts that had become infamous front lines, eager to return to neighbourhoods they had not seen in years.

An AFP correspondent saw civilians wrapped in coats trekking through the cold, some rolling their belongings on wheelbarrows.

"I came to check on my house, which I haven't seen in five years," resident Khaled al-Masri said. "I really hope my home wasn't badly damaged."

The evacuation operation ended more than four years of ferocious fighting inside Aleppo, which had been divided between government forces in the west and rebels in the east.

Opposition forces remain in control of areas west of Aleppo and on Friday at least two civilians were killed in the first wave of rebel rocket fire on the city since it fell under government control, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Seven civilians were also wounded in the fire on the Al-Hamdaniyeh district, the Britain-based monitor said, while state news agency SANA reported three killed.The evacuation agreement was brokered by rebel backer Turkey and regime supporter Russia, which said it would strive to end fighting across Syria.

"The liberation of Aleppo from radical elements is a very important part of the normalisation in Syria, and I hope, for the region overall," President Vladimir Putin said. "Everything needs to be done for fighting to stop on all Syrian territory," Putin said. "In any case, we will strive toward this."

The Kremlin also announced that Putin had signed an order to expand Russia's naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus, and that it had dispatched military police to newly acquired territory in Aleppo.

"We sent in a battalion of military police yesterday evening to maintain order in the liberated territories," Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin.

On Friday morning, government fighters moved into Ansari, Al-Mashhad, and other neighbourhoods they had not entered since mid-2012.

They searched for improvised explosive devices and mines, clearing buildings in anticipation of civilians returning, the Observatory said.

As they finished sweeping through the main streets, soldiers moved into the smaller alleyways to check for bombs, an AFP correspondent in one district said.

In Bustan al-Qasr, a heavily damaged neighbourhood near Aleppo's famed old city, small bulldozers removed rubble from the streets.

As the army moved through Al-Myassar district, Umm Abdo, 42, said she had found her former home but it had been destroyed. "There's nothing left... but houses can be rebuilt," she said.

Syria's war transformed Aleppo from the country's industrial hub to a worldwide symbol of bloodshed and devastation.

The army's statement on Thursday announced "the return of security to Aleppo after its release from terrorism and terrorists, and the departure of those who stayed there".

It came after state television said the last convoy of four buses carrying rebels and civilians had left east Aleppo and arrived in the government-controlled Ramussa district south of the city.

The evacuation deal, overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent, put an end to a month-long offensive waged on Aleppo's east by pro-government forces.

The assault was backed by pro-government militia, including powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

In a televised speech on Friday, Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah said the army's win in Aleppo put an end to any hopes Assad's regime would collapse. "After Aleppo, one can comfortably say that the goal of regime downfall has failed," Nasrallah said.

He described the fight for Aleppo as "one of the toughest battles that the region has seen in years."

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/syria-army-civilians-reclaim-ruined-aleppo-streets

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Syria: Terrorists Fail again to Break Through Gov't Positions East of Homs

Dec 24, 2016

The terrorists carried out a fresh round of attacks to capture the villages of Tal Jadid and Faraytan, but the army men warded off their assaults, killing or wounding a number of them.

Two army soldiers were killed and four more were wounded in the failed attacks.

Also, Syrian Army troops and popular forces repelled a major ISIL offensive in Northeastern Homs on Friday, killing 20 militants, including a notorious fighter.

The Army soldiers and popular defense forces warded off another ISIL attack targeting the military posts in Jubb al-Jarrah region, killing 20 terrorists, including Abu Bakr Helfaya, a notorious militant.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951004000294

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Syrian Army Recapture Lost Land to ISIL in Homs

Dec 23, 2016

The army men inflicted heavy casualties on ISIL and drove them out of the village of Khatab in Eastern Homs only a few hours after the militants captured it.

ISIL suffered a heavy death toll in the battlefield.

In the meantime, the Russian Air Force carried out dozens of airstrikes across Syria's Eastern part amid a massive assault on ISIL in Homs province.

Russian jets reportedly delivered airstrikes above the main ISIL's supply line between Raqqa and Homs, resulting in the destruction of several terrorist oil tankers.

The Russian warplanes carried out a number of sorties near the T-4 Military Airport South of the same road to assist the Syrian Army in their battle against the encroaching terrorists.

Reports said earlier today that Syrian Army troops engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists in Northeastern Homs, inflicting several casualties on them and repelling their attacks.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951003000574

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Russian Air Force Launches Heavy Airstrikes on ISIL Centers in Deir Ezzur

Dec 23, 2016

The warplanes carried out a number of airstrikes over the Thardah mountain, al-Rashidiyah, al-Arfa, and al-Huweiqa districts of Deir Ezzur city, killing a number of militants and wounding many more.

The Russian Air Force is still conducting airstrikes over the region, hitting targets all over the vast Syrian Desert which stretches as far East as the Iraqi border.

Earlier reports said that Syrian Army troops fended off ISIL's attacks on their positions in the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur.

ISIL launched massive offensives in Deir Ezzur, targeting the army's positions in al-Mozafeen district and al-Maqabr area.

ISIL began the assault by storming a height inside the al-Maqabr area; this resulted in a fierce clash with the army soldiers.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951003000594

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Aleppo sees shelling, air strikes again as Assad urges peace talks

December 24, 2016

Syrian rebels shelled Aleppo and air strikes resumed around the city on Friday as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies said the insurgents' withdrawal from the city could pave the way toward a political solution for the country.

A day after the last rebels left their remaining pocket of territory in the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights - a war monitor based in Britain - said about 10 shells fell in its southwestern al-Hamdaniya district.

The Observatory said six people, including two children, were killed. State television said at least three people died.

Insurgents seeking to oust Assad have shelled government controlled areas of Aleppo throughout the conflict, which began in 2011. The destruction in those parts of the city has been far less than in eastern districts rebels held until this month.

Air strikes resumed in rebel-held areas of the countryside near Aleppo on Friday for the first time since the end of the evacuation operation.

Strikes hit to the west, south-west and south of the city, areas which had not been hit for at least a week. The Britain-based Observatory had no information on casualties yet.

After months of bombardment and a final few weeks of intense air strikes and Syrian army advances on the besieged, rebel-held part of Aleppo, a local ceasefire was reached on Dec. 15 which allowed thousand of civilians and then fighters to leave.

The last left the city late on Thursday for countryside immediately to the west. The International Committee of the Red Cross said about 35,000 people, mostly civilians, had departed.

Many of those who left are living as refugees in the areas to the west and south of Aleppo, including in Idlib province where bulldozers were used to clear heavy snowfall on Friday morning, the opposition Orient television showed.

On Friday, the army and its allies, including Lebanese group Hezbollah, searched districts abandoned by the rebels, to clear them of mines and other dangers, the Observatory reported.

State television showed empty streets lined with apartment blocks smashed by air strikes in the al-Ansari district.

DAMASCUS WATER CUT

In the capital Damascus, the water authority has been forced to cut supplies coming into the Syrian capital for a few days and use reserves instead after rebels polluted the water with diesel, it said on Friday.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-Dec-2016/aleppo-sees-shelling-air-strikes-again-as-assad-urges-peace-talks

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US sanctions on six Syrian ministers and Russian bankers

23 December 2016

The US government imposed sanctions on Syrian and Russian figures “in response to the violence perpetrated by the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad.”

The statement issued by the US Treasury Department to 9 Russian figures from bank, thus prohibiting any person, company or American institution to deal with them commercially or financially, and will seize their assets in American institutions and on American territory.

A statement from the US Treasury explained that the bank “offered facilities and material support to the Syrian Government, including the Central Bank of Syria, and the “Syrian Oil Marketing” company.

Against Russia

It is noted that three of the nine people were vice-chairman of the Russian bank management, while five others were members of the supervisory body of the bank. It is likely that the Russian state owns a high percentage of its shares.

This punitive action can be understood as a political reaction. The US administration has always considered that Moscow is only supporting the Syrian regime in its war against the opposition, and not fighting ISIS. This comes just hours after the Syrian regime announced total control over Aleppo, and the comments of the Russian president stating that his country had a major role in achieving this. This comes just days after the Moscow meeting attended by the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Iran, Russia and the absence of the United States.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/12/23/US-sanctions-on-six-Syrian-ministers-and-Russian-bankers.html

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Terrorists contaminate Damascus water with diesel: Authorities

Dec 23, 2016

Authorities in the Syrian capital Damascus say they have been forced to cut water supplies to the city for a couple of days after terrorists contaminated the drinking water with diesel. 

The Damascus City Water Supply and Sewerage Authority made the announcement in a brief statement posted on its official website on Friday, adding that the water cut would include both the capital and its suburbs.

The statement further said that the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Local Administration had ordered authorities in the provinces of Rif Dimashq and Damascus to start using water reserves until the problem was resolved “in the next few days.”

The al-Fija spring, which supplies the capital with water, is located in the militant-held Souq Wadi Barada village, northwest of Damascus, in a mountainous terrain near the Lebanese border. Much of the surrounding areas are controlled by Syrian government troops.

The terrorists’ desperate attack on water resources came a few days after Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, was fully liberated from the grips of Takfiri terrorist groups. The city was the last major urban area controlled by terrorists.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/12/23/503183/Syria-Damascus-water-diesel-contamination

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Large Volume of Narcotics Heading to Terrorist-Held Regions Seized by Syrian Forces

Dec 23, 2016

The cargo was seized on Homs-Tartous highway, the state news agency said.

The narcotics, which included almost 1000,000 pills, were hidden inside a truck moving on the highway between the central Homs province and the coastal Tartous province.

The truck driver, who was arrested by the authorities, admitted that the narcotics were to be delivered to the terrorist organizations operating in Lattakia province.

Kurdish sources disclosed in July that Turkish-made drugs and narcotics were discovered from the ISIL terrorists in Aleppo province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951003000631

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Tens of ISIL Terrorists Killed in Clash with Syrian Army East of Aleppo Province

Dec 23, 2016

The army men warded off ISIL's offensives on its strongholds near the town of Deir Hafer, killing 120 terrorists and destroying their military hardware.

Meantime, clashes are underway between the Turkey-backed militants and ISIL in the nearby town of Al-Bab.

On Thursday, the last batch of terrorists and their families left the neighborhoods of Al-Zobaydiyeh, al-Ansari and Salahuddin East of Aleppo city.

The Syrian Army and its allies from the resistance front made history and took back the country's second most important city from thousands of terrorists in a landmark victory that will change the future of the war in Syria.

The last pocket of terrorists left Eastern Aleppo on Thursday evening, meaning that the Syrian army and its allies purged all city districts of Jeish Al-Fatah terrorists and completed control over the entire city.

Syria has been grappling with deadly unrests since early 2011, and only after two years, Damascus found itself under the siege of a variety of terrorist groups overtly and covertly supported by the western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

Since mid-2012, the government forces have been fighting with the foreign-backed militants to take control of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and the country’s former commercial hub.

The terrorist groups, mostly from Al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria the Al-Nusra Front, occupied the Eastern, Northeastern and Southeastern districts of Aleppo and the Western, Northwestern and Southwestern parts of the city remained under the control of the army and popular forces.

There were no remarkable changes in arrangement of forces in Aleppo city till September 2015 when the Damascus government requested Iran to send a large number of military advisors, war strategists and commanders to Syria and also asked for Russia's direct military involvement in the war on terrorism.

And that's when the scene changed.

Russia began counterterrorism operations in Syria on September 30, 2015, after Moscow received an official request from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Initially, the military operation started, conducted by a task force of more than 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.

The Syrian government issued permission to the Russian air force to use two airports in Homs province - in addition to Humeimim airbase in Lattakia - to attack terrorists across the country.

In November 10, 2015, the Syrian army, popular forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, backed up by Syrian and Russian warplanes, removed two-year-long siege on Kuweires military airbase some 60km East of Aleppo city after killing hundreds of ISIL terrorists, as unconfirmed reports said the groundbreaking victory was gained under the leadership of Iran's renowned Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Then, the army kicked off plans to take back Aleppo city.

In July, the Syrian government forces carried out large-scale joint operations to entrap the militants in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city.

On July 12, the army completed its siege of the Takfiri terrorists in the city of Aleppo. The terrorists came under siege in Aleppo city, while the army initiated an assault on Bani Zeid district. Bani Zeid was the most important stronghold of the terrorists in Aleppo city as it was used as a platform for terrorists' daily mortar and missiles attacks on other regions.

The army, Hezbollah, NDF and Iraq's al-Nujaba popular forces then beat militants back from their strongholds in al-Lairamoun neighborhood and took control of Castillo road.

Late in October, the Syrian Army troops and popular forces repelled over a dozen massive offensives of over 16,000 militants on their positions in Western and Southwestern Aleppo city.

Jeish al-Fatah launched several rounds of attacks, codenamed the Great Epic Operation, with over 16,000 militants through the three directions of Ramouseh, Assad Military-Engineering Academy and Artillery Academy Building to break the army's siege of their comrades in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city, but failed.

The Great Epic Operation comprised of four phases of attacks to access and capture the Assad Military-Engineering Academy in Southwestern Aleppo in the first and second phases of operation, and then in the third phase they intended to carry out fresh offensives to capture the Aleppo highway, while the last phase of the operation would focus on the removal of the siege on the militants in Aleppo city.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951003000358

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Several Civilians Killed, Wounded in New Terrorist Strikes on Western Part of Aleppo City

Dec 23, 2016

The terrorist groups shelled residential areas in al-Hamdaniyeh district from regions to the West of Aleppo city, leaving three civilians dead and another 10 wounded.

Reports said earlier today that people in Aleppo took to the streets after the Syrian Army General Command declared restoration of security and stability to Aleppo city and its liberation from terrorists.

The citizens marched through the streets, expressing joy over the victory of the Syrian army and its allies over the terrorists and expelling them from Aleppo.

Aleppo residents carried flags of the homeland and raised pictures of President Bashar al-Assad, while mosques called to prayers and the churches tolled their bells.

On Thursday, the last batch of terrorists and their families left the neighborhoods of Al-Zobaydiyeh, al-Ansari and Salahuddin East of Aleppo.

The Syrian Army and its allies from the resistance front made history and took back the country's second most important city from thousands of terrorists in a landmark victory that will change the future of the war in Syria.

The last pocket of terrorists left Eastern Aleppo on Thursday evening, meaning that the Syrian army and its allies purged all city districts of Jeish Al-Fatah terrorists and completed control over the entire city.

Syria has been grappling with deadly unrests since early 2011, and only after two years, Damascus found itself under the siege of a variety of terrorist groups overtly and covertly supported by the western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

Since mid-2012, the government forces have been fighting with the foreign-backed militants to take control of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and the country’s former commercial hub.

The terrorist groups, mostly from Al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria the Al-Nusra Front, occupied the Eastern, Northeastern and Southeastern districts of Aleppo and the Western, Northwestern and Southwestern parts of the city remained under the control of the army and popular forces.

There were no remarkable changes in arrangement of forces in Aleppo city till September 2015 when the Damascus government requested Iran to send a large number of military advisors, war strategists and commanders to Syria and also asked for Russia's direct military involvement in the war on terrorism.

And that's when the scene changed.

Russia began counterterrorism operations in Syria on September 30, 2015, after Moscow received an official request from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Initially, the military operation started, conducted by a task force of more than 50 aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M bombers, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-30SM fighters and Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters.

The Syrian government issued permission to the Russian air force to use two airports in Homs province - in addition to Humeimim airbase in Lattakia - to attack terrorists across the country.

In November 10, 2015, the Syrian army, popular forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, backed up by Syrian and Russian warplanes, removed two-year-long siege on Kuweires military airbase some 60km East of Aleppo city after killing hundreds of ISIL terrorists, as unconfirmed reports said the groundbreaking victory was gained under the leadership of Iran's renowned Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Then, the army kicked off plans to take back Aleppo city.

In July, the Syrian government forces carried out large-scale joint operations to entrap the militants in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city.

On July 12, the army completed its siege of the Takfiri terrorists in the city of Aleppo. The terrorists came under siege in Aleppo city, while the army initiated an assault on Bani Zeid district. Bani Zeid was the most important stronghold of the terrorists in Aleppo city as it was used as a platform for terrorists' daily mortar and missiles attacks on other regions.

The army, Hezbollah, NDF and Iraq's al-Nujaba popular forces then beat militants back from their strongholds in al-Lairamoun neighborhood and took control of Castillo road.

Late in October, the Syrian Army troops and popular forces repelled over a dozen massive offensives of over 16,000 militants on their positions in Western and Southwestern Aleppo city.

Jeish al-Fatah launched several rounds of attacks, codenamed the Great Epic Operation, with over 16,000 militants through the three directions of Ramouseh, Assad Military-Engineering Academy and Artillery Academy Building to break the army's siege of their comrades in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city, but failed.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951003000482

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India

 

Protest poetry: Assam's Bengali Muslims take a stand

byAletta Andre

byAbhimanyu Kumar

Dec 24, 2016

Delhi, India - Since childhood, 29-year-old Shalim Hussain, a research scholar at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, has contended with being called a "Miya". Although the word literally means gentleman in Urdu, Hussain learned at a young age that in his home state of Assam, Miya is a slur meaning "Bangladeshi" or "illegal immigrant".

In Assam, a northeastern border state in India, "Miya" is exclusively directed at Muslims of Bengali origin.

Migration to the state from what is now Bangladesh pre-dates the present international borders. A fear of illegal migrants, perceived to grab land and corrupt the local culture, has been played up in local politics for just as long.

"Even in 1946, when state elections were held, migration of Bengali-origin Muslims into Assam was a big issue," says Sanjoy Hazarika, an Assamese scholar and director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Delhi.

The prejudice against Muslims of Bengali origin, a community which remains largely impoverished, has led not only to abusive language but recurring communal violence as well.

Growing up on one of Assam’s more than 2,000 chars, or river islands, where 85 percent of the population consists of Muslims of Bengali origin, Hussain felt safe. But at the prestigious Cotton College in the state capital of Guwahati, where his relatively well-to-do parents had sent him for higher education, he quickly learned how many in Assam see his community.

"In 2005, the annual floods displaced many people from the chars and they started settling in temporary shelters on the pavements of Guwahati," he recalls, sitting cross-legged on a thin mattress in his sparsely furnished two-room flat in Delhi's Muslim-majority residential area of Zakir Nagar, close to Jamia Millia Islamia University, where he is pursuing a PhD in English literature.

"The Assamese students at Cotton College participated very actively in forcefully evicting them. These kind of informal evictions happen often, but it was the first time I saw one," he says.

What he saw scared him.

"I realised there was a divide between us and other Assamese."

More than a decade since, Hussain and others from his community have found a way to take the derogatory term Miya and subvert it.

Despite the low levels of literacy prevalent in the community - the most recent government survey in 2003 found that the average literacy rate on the chars was 19 percent, compared with the state average of 54 percent - a growing number of younger people from Hussain's community are pursing higher education in English and working in academia, NGOs, medicine and law. Some are using their skills for social activism in collectives such as the Muslim Youth Forum Against Communalism, Terrorism, and Sedition (MY-FACTS) and Jhai Foundation, which works for the rights and socially uplifting of Muslims in the state.

Now, Hussain and others are using poetry as a tool of resistance, confrontation and empowerment. This emerging form of expression is known as Miya poetry.

READ MORE: In 2015, more than 200,000 displaced by floods

Miya poetry

The roots of this new genre lie in a 1939 poem titled A Charuwa's Proposition by Maulana Bande Ali. Although Ali did not use the word Miya, his poem is considered the first example of someone within the community asserting their identity.

In 1985, Khabir Ahmed wrote I Beg To State That, which included lines such as "I am a settler, a hated Miya". It was written in the aftermath of the so-called Nellie Massacre of 1983, in which more than 2,000 Bengali-origin Muslims were killed in just six hours. His poem is considered the first true assertion of Miyaness and sparked a trend of protest poetry within his community.

But this new wave of Miya poetry has had a wider reach, with social media spreading the work beyond a small literary elite.

It began earlier this year, shortly after the April 4 and 11 state assembly elections, in which illegal immigration was a prominent campaign issue. When the results were announced on May 19, an unprecedented victory was claimed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The movement began with Hafiz Ahmed, an academic, social activist and poet in his 50s, who published Write Down I Am A Miya on Facebook in late April. His poem received hundreds of likes, comments and shares, and triggered a series of spontaneous poetic responses.

Hussain, who says earlier he mainly wrote about love and death, responded next with his poem called Nana I Have Written, asserting his identity as a "Miya" for the first time.

To date, about 20 mostly young poets have written poems, sharing them on Facebook. These include established poets as well as occasional writers, academics and activists as well as grassroots leaders, writing in English, Assamese or local dialects of Bengali.

Miya poetry has been noticed outside the community as well.

These poems have been published in online literary journals and featured at poetry readings in both Assam and Delhi.

At a recent festival celebrating the culture of India's northeastern states in the capital Delhi, the Assamese poet and Delhi-based academic Nitoo Das singled out Miya Poetry as an important new voice in the region. Hussain recently won a prestigious grant to research the genre.

Ahmed, speaking to Al Jazeera by phone, says it wasn't just the assembly elections result which inspired him to write, but an overall anger "which can no longer be ignored".

Ahmed believes decades of "discrimination and torture" are to blame. Although the 1983 massacre was the most deadly incident of communal violence, it did not stop there. In 2012, clashes over land led to violence between members of the indigenous Bodo tribe and Bengali-origin Muslims in Assam's eastern districts, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from both sides. In 2014, the violence occurred in a more one-sided way; militant Bodos burned the homes of Muslim families, killing dozens of people.

Proving one is Indian

Both Ahmed and Hussain refer to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in their work.

The NRC was completed in 1951 and, after that, never updated. Responding to several public petitions seeking information on and action against illegal immigrants in Assam, the Supreme Court in 2014 ordered the state government to update the NRC. Now, all residents must show documents to prove they settled in Assam before March 25, 1971, the date Bangladesh was created.

The opening stanzas of Ahmed's poem, Write Down I Am A Miya, ask if Miya is associated with hate and points out one way in which the NRC is used - as a means for Muslims of Bengali origin to prove that they are Indian citizens:

I have two children

Another is coming

Next summer.

Will you hate him

As you hate me?

At the same time, the poem reflects the community's fears about how the register could be misused - to disenfranchise Bengali-origin Muslims by deeming them illegal migrants if they do not possess the right documentation. Citizens who live on the chars, for instance, often travel in search of work as seasonal labourers, and don't always maintain proper documentation.

In their state election campaign, the BJP had promised to strip Muslim immigrants of voting rights and deport those who were deemed illegal migrants if it came to power.

Recently, while travelling close to the Bangladesh border, Hussain met an 83-year-old woman whose citizenship was called into question - she was declared a Doubtful Voter owing to a revision of the electoral roll. Cases such as hers are referred to courts called the Foreigners' Tribunals. Sometimes, people are sent to detention camps to wait until the special courts hear their cases. There are almost 500 people in these centres, according to the news weekly India Today.

"She is now mortally scared of being sent to a detention camp," Hussain says. "When you see things like that, something breaks inside."

The last stanzas of Ahmed's poem anticipate a worrying spectre, wherein the angry Miya is not prepared to acquiesce any longer.

"When you push people against the wall for too long, they might react in a violent way. If my community picks up guns, Assam will turn to ashes," Ahmed says, echoing the last lines of his poem:

Beware!

I have nothing but anger in stock.

Keep away!

Or

Turn to Ashes.

In Assam, nationalistic rhetoric hasn't subsided. In October, Himanta Biswa Sarma, a powerful minister in the state government, stated at a gathering in Guwahati for the release of his new book that while Hindus from Bangladesh, where they are a minority, are welcome to take refuge in the state, Muslims are not.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed a similar sentiment when he campaigned in the state during the national elections of 2014. His central government is working on a new bill, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016), which will help illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists to become Indian citizens with greater ease. Muslims, however, have been kept out of this list, causing a stir in both Assam and Delhi.

"There is a widening and sharper rift in some areas," says Hazarika, the director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Delhi, citing the region where the recent Bodo-Muslim violence occurred as an example.

He calls this trend "extremely worrisome".

According to Hazarika, a former journalist who wrote for international publications, the local media is obsessed with so-called "Bangladeshis" and its coverage amounts to scaremongering.

"Hardly a day goes by without the word 'Bangladeshi' being on the front pages of all local newspapers," he says.

In this political climate, Hazarika considers the poetry movement a sign of courage and welcomes it.

"It should be heard in every nook and corner of Assam," he says.

More shameless, more angry

Since writing his poem in English, Hussain has translated it into Assamese and local dialects of Bengali, and translated other poems written in those languages into English.

He shares the work on a Facebook page called Itamugur, a term which refers to a tool used by farmers on the chars, where the majority of the Miya poets grew up.

While illiterate char residents may not be able to read the poems, in the opinion of Abdul Kamal Azad, a social worker operating on several chars, the words do "really translate the anger of the community".

Abdul Kalam Azad on a boat on the river Beki in Assam [Rafik Ahmed/Al Jazeera]

Azad is himself from a poor family, and his parents are farmers on a char. Verbal and physical abuse was part of his youth, he alleges.

"When people call us Miya or Bangladeshi, there are limited options to fight back, because the state does not protect us," he says, referring to an incident from this year where a Muslim member of the state assembly was reportedly called a Bangladeshi in a derogatory way during a session.

"There is a risk of Muslim youth in Assam becoming radicalised as a result," Azad says.

This is why, in 2012, he actively supported the founding of the MY-FACTS, which started working in the camps of displaced victims of the Bodo-Muslim violence.

Now, Azad works to improve the social conditions on the chars with his NGO Jhai Foundation.

Poetry can be used towards this goal, believes Azad, who co-runs Itamugur with Hussain.

"I'm not a poet, but I am using my network to spread these new poems," he says.

The low social status and existential insecurity of the community are topics addressed in many of these poems. But it is also often done with a mild, ironic humour, and pride, as Hussain's poem demonstrates:

Now see me rise

From flood waters

Float over landslides

March through sand and marsh and snakes

Break the earth

's will draw trenches with spades

Crawl through fields of rice and diarrhoea and sugarcane

And a 10 percent literacy rate

See me shrug my shoulders curl my hair

Read two lines of poetry one formula of math

Read confusion when the bullies call me Bangladeshi

And tell my revolutionary heart

But I am a Miya

"We are more shameless now, and more angry," says Hussain with a grin, adding that poems from the past were more conciliatory in tone.

"They were still hopeful that the Assamese will listen to them," he says. "But we do not have any such expectations. We want to draw the attention of people outside the state and even the country."

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/12/protest-poetry-assam-bengali-muslims-stand-161219094434005.html

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Telugu writer brings out calendar of Indian Muslim freedom fighters

Dec 23, 2016

Telugu writer Syed Naseer Ahamed, with the help of Mohammed Farookh Shubli, Founder President of Youth Welfare, Vijayawada, has brought out a calendar for 2017 bearing photos of India's Muslim freedom fighters.

Syed Naseer Ahamed has been consistently writing about Muslim freedom fighters including his pictorial album The Immortals. The calendar consists of 6 pages. Each page of two months has four photos of Muslim freedom fighters who are less known to general public. A total of 24 freedom fighters have been accommodated in six pages. Role of Muslim freedom fighters in India's Independence has been printed often in the print edition of The Milli Gazette.

Full report at:

http://www.milligazette.com/news/15188-telugu-writer-brings-out-calendar-of-Indian-Muslim-freedom-fighters

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Aligarh muslim university students demand Muslim quota promised by Samajwadi party

Anuja Jaiswal

Dec 24, 2016

AGRA: Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students took out a protest march on Friday to demand implementation of 18% reservation for Muslims as promised by Samajwadi Party in its 2012 poll manifesto.

In its election manifesto in 2012, SP had promised that Muslims would be considered most backward and given reservation like Dalits in proportion to their population.

Raising slogans against the government and carrying placards saying. "Now is the time to remind the promise and move beyond vote bank politics", the students also objected to the UP government's cabinet's decision to recommend inclusion of 17 OBC castes into the Scheduled Caste category. They also threatened to intensify their agitation and launch a mass movement if the promises made in the manifesto are not fulfilled within two weeks.

The students submitted a memorandum to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav through the district magistrate of Aligarh. The memorandum demanded implementation of the Sachhar Committee recommendations on granting special privileges and jobs to Muslims.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/amu-students-demand-muslim-quota-promised-by-sp/articleshow/56145693.cms

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Eye on Pakistan, India starts process to tap Indus waters

Vishwa Mohan

Dec 24, 2016

NEW DELHI: With India looking at full exploitation of its rights under the Indus Waters Treaty+ (IWT) with Pakistan, a high-level inter-ministerial task force held its first meeting on Friday, focussing on bringing Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir on board for speeding up work on the ground through better co-ordination.

Discussions at the meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister's principal secretary Nripendra Mishra, revolved around fast-tracking proposed hydro-power projects in Jammu and Kashmir+ and building necessary infrastructure, including storage capacity, to tap water from three western rivers of the Indus system — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab.

Since Punjab's participation in the entire process is also important due to India's right over the eastern river system+ (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej), chief secretary of the state also attended the meeting.

"Idea of the first meeting was to indicate India's intention to fully utilise the country's share of waters within the Treaty and bring the two states (Punjab and J&K) on board for speeding up the entire process," said an official. He said, "Both the states have been asked to get back as early as possible with their respective ground reports. Next meeting of the task force will be held in January."

Under the IWT, signed between the two countries in 1960, the waters of eastern rivers are allocated to India. Though India is under obligation to let the waters of the western rivers flow, it is permitted to construct storage of water on western rivers up to 3.6 million acre feet (MAF) for various purposes, including domestic use. India has, however, not developed any storage facility so far. India has also not tapped its full quota of water for irrigation under the Treaty.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/eye-on-pakistan-india-starts-process-to-tap-indus-waters/articleshow/56149457.cms

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Jammu and Kashmir: Protests against domicile certificates to Pak refugees

December 24, 2016

AS PROTESTS and strike were observed by large sections of the people in the Kashmir valley against the decision to grant domicile certificates to refugees from West Pakistan, both separatists and mainstream opposition parties took on the state government on Friday. Clashes were reported from Sopore town in north Kashmir after Friday prayers, and the police used tearsmoke shells and cane-charge to disperse protesters.

IAF Holds Air Show Marking Birth Centenary Celebrations Of Former Odisha CM Biju Patnaik

In Srinagar, Independent legislator Engineer Rashid began a 48-hour sit-in outside the Gupkar residence of CM Mehbooba Mufti, while opposition National Conference (NC) said granting the refugees “state subject rights is tantamount to diluting the law and leaving it meaningless”.

“The dilution of J&K’s State Subject Law is a long-cherished desire of the BJP, and it is clear that the PDP has agreed to help the BJP in this,” NC state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-protests-against-domicile-certificates-to-pak-refugees/

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Southeast Asia

 

Act against Muslim author who blasphemed Sikhism, Home Ministry told

December 23, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 ― The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) accused a local Muslim author today of blaspheming against their religion with his book titled Yahudi, Kristian, Hindu dan Buddha berasal daripada Islam? [Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism originated from Islam?].

The umbrella body representing Sikhs in the country further alleged that Ahmad Iqram Mohammad had published many wrong facts on the history and development of their religion in chapter 10 of his book in claiming that Sikhism too originated from Islam, such as its founder Guru Nanak was a Muslim.

“The writer has stated many wrong facts on every page and given negative interpretations which have touched the sensitivities of the Sikhs regarding their religion,” MGC president Jagir Singh said in a statement.

He demanded the Home Ministry immediately withdraw the book from circulation and investigate the author and its publisher for blasphemy under the Penal Code as well as the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

He also demanded the author and publisher apologise for their errors as above and give an undertaking not to repeat them.

Jagir also urged the Home Ministry to be “more vigilant and disallow such books from being published”.

“Where the writer is giving views on other religions, those other religions must be consulted,” he added.

The 416-page book was published on October 14 by PTS Media Group, which has an office in Batu Caves, Selangor.

Little is known about the author Ahmad Iqram, although he is also listed as having written another book titled in Malay Kau Sembah Apa? Berdialog Dengan Non-Muslim [What Do You Worship? Dialogues with Non-Muslims].

The book appears to have caused consternation within the Sikh community, prompting one of them to file a police report in Ipoh, Perak last Sunday.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/act-against-muslim-author-who-blasphemed-sikhism-home-ministry-told

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'Merry Christmas' Greetings from Muslims Are Permissible, Says Malaysian Mufti

23 December, 2016

In a recent statement, Datuk Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said greeting Christians a "Merry Christmas" is permissible for practicing Muslims. He said the greeting is merely an expression of happiness and joy upon seeing the people celebrating the holidays, Sputnik News relays.

The Malaysian Mufti's statement comes two years after a conservative Muslim activist said greeting people a "Merry Christmas" is "haram," or forbidden. However, the Mufti refuted this teaching, saying this interpretation of Islam is wrong.

"It's no more than a mere greeting to express happiness and enjoyment upon seeing the happiness of those celebrating," said Al-Bakri.

In addition, the Mufti cited a 2007 Muzakarah National Fatwa Committee Council in Islamic Affairs meeting which concluded that "Merry Christmas" greetings were permissible as long as the Muslims do not glorify other religions or use non-Islam religious symbols, the Straits Times reports.

The issue over Christmas greetings in Malaysia comes at a time when the rising Islamic conservatism has shaken the ties between the different communities in the multicultural nation.

In 2006, an official from the Islamic law department of insurance firm Takaful Malaysia instructed his Muslim employees that the Deepavali holiday honored Hindu gods. Therefore, he said Deepavali greetings were tantamount to practicing polytheism, a practice which runs against Islamic teachings.

Full report at:

http://christiandaily.com/article/merry-christmas-greetings-from-muslims-are-permissible-says-malaysian-mufti/59679.htm

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Malaysians must continue to protest oppression of Rohingya Muslims, says OIC

24 DECEMBER 2016

SHAH ALAM: Malaysians must continue to play a proactive role in protesting against the oppression of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, said a senior official of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). OIC Special Envoy to Myanmar, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said this was necessary in order to urge the Myanmar government to give citizenship to the Rohingya and to act against those who spread hatred and incite violence against the Rohingya. “We want Myanmar to recognise the Rohingya as the ethnic group has the right and were recognised as part of the country’s population by the first president of Myanmar. “Malaysia upholds human rights and does not want to see discrimination against any ethnic and need to continue the fight against the cruelty agianst the Rohingya,” he said at ‘Pray 4 Caring Ummah-Rohingya’ rally at Dataran Kemerdekaan Shah Alam, last night. Also present was vice-president of International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. Syed Hamid said Malaysians should continue to fight for the rights of the Rohingya so that the humanitarian conflict that occur in Myanmar could be resolved quickly.

Full report at:

http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/12/199063/malaysians-must-continue-protest-oppression-rohingya-muslims-says-oic

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Muhammadiyah Saysit Aims To Promote Moderate, Tolerant Islam

December 23, 2016

Through its newly introduced menara62.com online media outlet, Indonesia's second-largest Muslim organization Muhammadiyah says it aims to promote tolerance amid escalating polarizing issues currently plaguing the country.

Its chief editor, Imam Prihadiyoko, said the website would abide by the journalistic code of ethics and by the organization's principle of promoting Islam as a tolerant religion.

The former Kompas daily journalist said he expected the news published on the website to counter widely circulating fake news reports and radical teachings that had a tendency to disrupt harmony in the country's pluralistic society.

"Surely we will try to educate the public about an Islam that is tolerant and modern in thought," Imam told The Jakarta Post on Friday on the sidelines of the website launch at Muhammadiyah headquarters in Jakarta.

(Read also:Muhammadiyah launches paid online news portal)

The National Police recently foiled bomb plots and arrested suspected terrorists in a number of areas, including Bekasi, West Java, and South Tangerang, where three suspects were shot dead.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/12/23/muhammadiyah-saysit-aims-to-promote-moderate-tolerant-islam-1482501041.html

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