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Islamic World News ( 24 Jan 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Radicalisation of Muslim Youth: Important To Take Moderate Muslim Leaders and Clerics into Confidence to Counter Radical Organisations

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 January 2023


 Photo: (ANI) /Times of India


• Ulema and Religious Scholars Condemn Use of Force against State in Name of ‘Nifaz-e-Shariah

• Turkey's Erdogan to Sweden: No Support for NATO Membership after Qur'an Desecration

• 'Muslims Love Jesus' Billboards Pop Up Around Texas, Other US Cities

• 6 Members of Muslim League, Sentenced To Death for War Crimes in 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War



• Muslim Clerics Defend 'Ramcharitmanas', Demand Apology from SP Leader for 'Insult' Remark

• BJP’s Outreach to Muslims Aimed at Countering Community’s Push against Party

• In Gyanvapi Mosque Case, Hearing into Key Request Postponed To March 21

• How Bollywood has been a bridge between Egypt, India

• Pakistan to skip SCO film fest in Mumbai, I&B says only country to not send entry



• Armed Struggle against State Of Pakistan Is Tantamount To ‘Rebellion’: Mufti Taqi Usmani Issued A Fatwa

• Govt wary of IMF-mandated ‘tough decisions’ in an election year

• Widespread outages persist despite govt’s claim of ‘fully restoring’ power



• Swedish Authorities Should Take Steps Regarding Quran Burning: EU Commission

• Muslim states and Islamic bodies slam 'disgraceful' Sweden Quran burning

• UK’s Muslim Community Becoming Genuinely British

• UN body condemns burning of Quran in Sweden: '...hatred towards Muslims'

• Muslims, Christians worldwide decry Swedish Quran burning

• EU ministers agree on new package of sanctions against Iran

• France repatriates 15 women, 32 children from Syrian extremist camps: Ministry


North America

• 'Repugnant' Quran burning could be sabotage against NATO unity: US

• US to increase pressure on China to stop importing Iranian oil, Iran envoy says

• US-Iranian citizen imprisoned in Iran ends hunger strike

• US support for Daesh in Afghanistan


South Asia

• Taliban Discuss Restoration of Historical Sites with UNESCO

• Chinese Nationals Arrested Over Smuggling Precious Stones: Taliban

• Sri Lanka seeks investment, employment opportunities from Saudi Arabia

• Reviewing engagement with Taliban, says US on rights violations in Afghan

• Surging crime, bleak future push Rohingya in Bangladesh to risk lives at sea

• Afghan Deaf Community Wants Islamic Emirate to Address their Problems

• Afghanistan Criticizes Uzbekistan for Cutting Power Supply


Southeast Asia

• PAS President: Islamophobia Used To Stop 'The True Islam' From Taking Back Power to Govern Country

• Indonesian Ulema Council Condemns Quran Burning in Sweden

• Malaysian lion dancers bring new spirit to ancient tradition

• JB school's SPM workshop for Muslim students causes stir on social media

• Islamic college’s convocation reflects its diverse student body


Arab World

• Muslim Council of Elders, Under the Chairmanship Of al-Azhar Grand Imam Condemns Burning Of Holy Quran by Extremists In Sweden

• Shura Council Denounces Swedish Authorities over Burning Of Holy Qur'an Copy

• Hezbollah will stand up to any bid meant to undermine Lebanon’s security: Top official

• Saudi National Orchestra and Choir to Appear At Finale of 2nd Qemam Folk Festival

• Iraqis injured in anti-Sweden protest after Quran burning

• Kuwait PM submits resignation of cabinet in tussle with parliament

• Saudi singer Talal Alshehail optimistic about KSA’s growing music industry



• Israel Angered By Visit of Western Envoys to Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Iran Rules Out Face-to-Face Negotiations with US

• VP: Several Billion Dollars of Iran's Frozen Assets Released

• Situation on edge of large-scale confrontation with Israel, Islamic Jihad warns

• Iran condemns sanctions imposed by EU, Britain, threatens retaliation

• Iran second worst country for internet censorship in 2022 following protests: Report

• Israeli army admits Palestinian man killed ‘for no reason’

• Palestinians vow to foil Israeli plan to demolish strategic Al-Khan Al-Ahmar village

• Yemenis rally to condemn desecration of Holy Qur’an in Sweden



• Nigerian Muslim Leaders Advocate Religion Balancing In Appointment into Public Offices

• Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns Sweden's decision to allow burning of a copy of the Holy Qur'an

• Somalia strongly condemns Quran burning in Sweden

• Jordanian advocate awarded Franco-German Prize for Human Rights

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Radicalisation of Muslim Youth: Important To Take Moderate Muslim Leaders and Clerics into Confidence to Counter Radical Organisations


Photo: (ANI) /Times of India


Jan 23, 2023

NEW DELHI: Radicalisation, particularly of the Muslim youth, is one of the key challenges for national security and it is important to take moderate Muslim leaders and clerics into confidence to counter radical organisations, according to papers submitted at a security meet attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The papers, written by some Indian Police Service officers and submitted at the just-concluded conference of DGPs and IGPs, noted that the rise in religious fundamentalism in India is primarily due to high level of indoctrination, easy availability of modern means of communication, including encrypted form, cross-border terrorism and Pakistan concentrating on encouraging these radical groups.

Apart from the prime minister, the three-day annual conference was attended by Union home minister Amit Shah, national security Adviser Ajit Doval and about 350 top police officers of the country.

"Radicalisation, particularly of the Muslim youth, is one of the important challenges for national security of our country. Several radical Muslim organisations are active in India, which indulge in organised radicalisation of the Muslim youth. They have inherent tendency to corrupt minds of Muslim community, push them on the violent path and work against composite culture," the papers noted.

In view of this, tackling radical organisations become imperative and priority in the interests of social harmony and national security.

These organisations are engaged in radical interpretation of Islamic scriptures and concepts.

They also create a sense of victimhood in Muslim psyche. In pursuit of puritanical Islam, their preaching go against modern values such as democracy and secularism.

In India, the papers revealed, the recently banned Popular Front of India (PFI), another banned group SIMI, Wahdat-e-Islami, Islamic Youth Federation, Hizb-ut Tahreer and Al-Ummah are some Muslim organisations, which fit in this category.

"Among these Muslim organisations, the PFI was the most potent radical organisation. It evolved as a national-level organisation since formation in 2006 by merging of three South India-based outfits," the papers noted.

Rise in religious fundamentalism is due to history and attending continuous religious programmes such as Dars-eQuran, Ahle-Hadith etc., high level of indoctrination, modern means of communication viz. internet, mail in coded and encrypted form, the papers said.

The cross-border terrorism and its post effects, Pakistan concentrating on encouraging these radical organisations, Muslim boys going to the Gulf countries and coming back with money and radical ideologies are some other reasons for the rise of radicalisation, according to the papers said.

The writers noted that terrorist radicalisation is a dynamic process whereby an individual comes to accept terrorist violence as a possible, perhaps even legitimate, course of action and each case of terrorist radicalisation results from the unique intersection of an enabling environment and the personal trajectory and psychology of a given individual.

Suggesting remedies, the papers noted that to tackle radical Organisations, multi-pronged approach is required, including monitoring of covert activities, creation of detailed databases on leaders and other entities of interests.

"Security agencies and state police need to be sensitised about threat to national security from radical organisations and in order to counter radical organisations, it is equally important to take moderate Muslim leaders and clerics into confidence.

"Emphasis should be given to identify and monitoring the hotspots of radicalisation and prior analysis must be done about the potentiality of a radical organisation in spreading extremism and involvement of its cadres in violent action and accordingly the plan of action should be initiated," the papers noted.

Source: Times Of India

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Ulema and Religious Scholars Condemn Use of Force against State in Name of ‘Nifaz-e-Shariah




January 24, 2023

Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiative Ahsan Iqbal has called for establishing a social media cell to spread Islam’s message of tolerance and brotherhood at a wider level and in different languages.

While addressing the closing session of the Paigham-e-Pakistan national conference titled “Countering Violent Extremism, Radicalism and Hate Speech” as chief guest here on Monday, Ahsan Iqbal said intellectuals, Ulema and religious scholars could play an important role in spreading this massage at the grass-root level by using the digital platform.

The national conference was jointly presided over by Prof Dr Nabi Bux Jumani, Acting President of the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) and Dr Muhammad Ziaul Haq, DG Islamic Research Institute, IIUI.

Ahsan Iqbal said we are living in an age of digital media and ulema and scholars should make maximum use of this important forum and have their own FM Radio channel to raise their voice most effectively against militancy and extremism.

Earlier the ulema and mashaikh who were attending the forum and had come from all over the country to participate in the conference, unanimously condemned the use of force against the state in the name of ‘Nifaz-e-Shariah.’ Taking up arms against the state in the name of Islam or Shariah is against the basic spirit of Islam and the teachings of Islam, they said.

Such elements are in fact playing in the hands of the enemies of Islam and Pakistan.

“This forum of religious scholars reiterates that all such elements that are waging a war against the state by indulging in linguistic, territorial, religious or ethnic confrontations are in fact violating the principles of Islam and Shariah and the state should deal with such elements with an iron hand,” said a communiqué issued at the end of the closing session.

The joint statement held that Paigham-e-Pakistan that was issued on January 16, 2018 from the Aiwan-e-Sadr truly reflected the collective wisdom of the nation with regard to Quran, Sunnah and should be implemented in the country as policy and both the house of the Parliament should also pass this.

The Ulema urged the security institutions of the country to continue operations against the enemies of the state and Islam and take all steps necessary to eradicate terrorism from Pakistan.

About the recent incident of desecration of Quran in Sweden, the participants condemned the incident in strong words and said it had hurt over 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world. The participants also expressed concerns over the illegitimate use of social media and called for an end to its use to preach hatred in the name of nationalism, religion or any other excuse.

The communiqué issued at the end of the Paigham-e-Pakistan National Conference was signed by eminent scholars of Islam including Chairman Islamic Ideological Council (IIC) Dr Qibla Ayaz, President Wafaq-ul-Madaris Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, President Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, Prof Sajid Mir, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhri, Maulana Azizul Hassan, Maulana Hamid Haqqani, Allama Hamid Saeed Kazmi, Fazlur Rehman Khalil and others.

Source: Pak Observer

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Turkey's Erdogan to Sweden: No Support for NATO Membership after Qur'an Desecration


Protesters demonstrate outside the Consulate General of Sweden after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, who has Swedish citizenship, burned a copy of the Koran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 22, 2023. (Reuters)


24 January 2023

Turkey has threatened Sweden with refusing to back its membership bid in the US-led military alliance of NATO in reaction to Stockholm's recent condoning of desecration of the Holy Qur'an in front of the Turkish embassy on the Swedish soil.

"Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

The remarks came after Rasmus Paludan, a notorious extremist Danish politician, who also holds Sweden's citizenship, received permission from his country's government to burn the Muslim holy book in front of the Turkish diplomatic mission in Stockholm on Saturday.

Paludan was being protected by the Swedish police while committing the sacrilege, which has opened the floodgates of protest on the part of the world's Muslim countries.

Adding to his remarks, Erdogan blasted Sweden for "loving enemies of Islam," and "members of terrorist organizations," a reference to the anti-Ankara groups, who have been provided with asylum by Sweden.

"If you love members of terrorist organizations and enemies of Islam so much and protect them, then we advise you to seek their support for your country's security," the Turkish head of state said.

Sweden reacted with extreme caution to Erdogan's remarks.

"I cannot comment on the statement tonight. First, I want to understand exactly what was said," Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told Sweden's TT news agency.

Erdogan has conditioned Turkey's support for Sweden's accession to NATO on the latter's extradition of those elements, whom Ankara accuses of involvement in either acts of terror against Turkey or a failed coup that targeted the Turkish state in 2016.

In order to appease Turkey, Sweden has been sending its officials on a flurry of visits to Ankara.

The trips have, however, failed to soften Turkey's anger at the act of desecration near its diplomatic mission, with Ankara summoning the Swedish ambassador over the blasphemy and even cancelling a planned visit by the Swedish defense minister to the Turkish capital.

Swedish leaders have condemned Paludan's actions, but defended their country's broad definition of free speech.

"I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today," Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tweeted on Saturday.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary-general has, himself, defended the blasphemy as "freedom of expression."

Sweden applied to join the military alliance last year alongside its neighbor Finland. In order for the accession to be finalized, however, all of the alliance's 30 members have to lend their blessing.

Source: Press TV

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'Muslims Love Jesus' Billboards Pop Up Around Texas, Other US Cities


Videograb of Twitter video



Billboards depicting the messages about the similarities between Islam and Christianity have popped up in the US state of Texas and across America.

One such billboard was seen prominently placed on a busy highway in Houston as well, attracting the attention of thousands of drivers with the message "Muslims love Jesus" accompanied by "his message of one God and his prophethood".

Illinois-based Islamic education centre GainPeace has been placing similar signs across the US, in Chicago, Dallas and central New Jersey to highlight the religions' shared roots and to work through the misconceptions.

One billboard also depicts Mary wearing a hijab with the slogan, "Blessed Mary wore the hijab". Will you respect it?" Another shows a picture of the Kaaba, a building in Saudi Arabia that Muslims consider the holiest site in Islam, with the message, "Built by Abraham, dedicated to worship one God, annual pilgrimage by millions of Muslims.

GainPeace is a non-profit organisation, whose main goal is to educate the general public about Islam and to clarify any doubts or misconceptions they may hold. It chose to put billboards in cities where the organisation has a strong presence and a significant Muslim population.

A GainPeace volunteer in Houston said they have been getting scores of calls from inquisitive people, asking about the similarities between the two religions.

"When we explain that in order to be a Muslim, we have to believe in Jesus and the Virgin Mary, they're just blown away," he said.

The Houston billboard is scheduled to be up till late January and may be extended if need be.

“Islam is often a misunderstood religion, leading some to hold bias view of Islam with discrimination and suspicion of Muslims," said Dr Sabeel Ahmed, Director of GainPeace.

"This ad campaign provides an opportunity for the general public to take a fresh and positive look at Islam through simple messages displayed on these billboards.”

According to Pew Research, the Muslim population in the US has grown in the two decades since September 11, 2001, but it is still the case that many Americans know little about Islam or Muslims, and views toward Muslims have become increasingly polarised along political lines.

Source: telegraphindia

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6 Members of Muslim League, Sentenced To Death for War Crimes in 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War


SM Najmus Sakib  


DHAKA, Bangladesh

A local court in Bangladesh on Monday sentenced six men to death for war crimes committed during the country's liberation war in 1971.

A three-member bench of the country's International Crimes Tribunal in the capital Dhaka announced the verdict in absentia against the convicted people.

Before the verdict was announced, security was beefed up around the courthouse. Only those with official authorization were permitted to enter the premises.

The tribunal found the six people, aged 56 to 70, guilty of murders, looting, kidnapping, and arson committed during the independence war in Trishal town, north-central Mymensingh district.

The convicted were members of the Bangladesh Muslim League, the state lawyer and prosecutor of the tribunal Tapas Kanti Baul said, referring to the political party founded in the subcontinent in 1906 as the All-India Muslim League.

Following Bangladesh's independence in 1971, the party was banned, along with other Islamic parties.

They were also activists and members of the Peace Committee and Razakar (volunteers) during the liberation war, he added.

They are all fugitives, Baul said, without saying where the convicted are now.

The tribunal, set up in 2009, has been criticized by global rights groups for not following fair trial standards.

According to the government prosecutor, there were nine accused in this case, and three of them died during court proceedings, including two in jail who were arrested.

And the remaining six are on the run, he added.

Complaints were filed against them in July 2018, and the trial process began in December of that year. In total, 19 people testified in court against the convicted people.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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 Muslim clerics defend 'Ramcharitmanas', demand apology from SP leader for 'insult' remark

Jan 23, 2023

A section of Muslim clerics on Monday condemned Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya's remarks on Ramcharitramanas and demanded an apology from him.

SP leader Maurya had on Sunday alleged that certain portions of the Ramcharitmanas "insult" a large section of society on the basis of caste and these should be "banned."

The party distanced itself from Maurya's remark, saying it was his personal comments.

All the same, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh demanded that he apologises and takes back his statement.

Maurya, who is considered a prominent OBC leader in the state, said, "Religion is meant for the welfare of humanity and for the strengthening of it."

However, not many were impressed with his take on the Hindu epic.

"Being Muslim and true followers of Islam and the last Prophet, we have regard and respect for Hindu dharma and its scriptures. I on behalf of Muslim community strongly oppose the comments made by Swami Prasad Maurya and demand an immediate apology," Maulana Wasif Hasan, Mutawalli of famous Tiley Waali Masjid in Lucknow tol PTI.

Another local cleric said the epic was rich in moral teachings on how to form an ideal society.

"Ramcharitmanas was written in Awadhi language in the 16th century by Saint Tulsi Das. It is largely believed that this epic was written in Ayodhya during Mughal reign, the verses of Ramcharitmanas even today gives message of a moral society, an ideal family system," said Maulana Seraj Ahmad Khan, Imam of Bakshi Shaheed Mosque in Ayodhya said.

"In our childhood, we too read the Ramcharitmanas and used to learn the verses. The Muslim community cannot accept any disrespect towards this book, I demand that Maurya must take his words back," he said.

Maulana Liyaqat Ali, another cleric from Ayodhya, said: "Ramcharitmanas clearly reflects a secular and socialist society of that time where there is no difference of caste and, we respect this book and oppose any disrespectful comments against it."

"I demand that Akhilesh Yadav, the President of Samajwadi Party, issues a clarification," Liyaqat Ali added.

Athar Husain, President of Centre for Objective Research and Development, said "It is our humble request that those who are in public life in any form must restrain themselves from commenting on any religious book or personality."

"Muslims at large have deep respect for the Ramcharitmanas as sacred literature, and we strongly condemn any such comment that disregard this religious book," he said.

Maurya had on Sunday said, "If there is any insult to a section of society due to certain lines in the Ramcharitmanas on the basis of 'jaati', 'varna' and 'varg', then it is certainly not 'dharma', it is 'adharma'."

He said, "there are certain lines in which names of castes such as 'teli' and 'kumhaar' are mentioned" which hurt the feelings of lakhs of people who belong to these castes.

Source: India Today

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BJP’s outreach to Muslims aimed at countering community’s push against party

Jan 24, 2023

By Smriti Kak Ramachandran

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) outreach to minorities, particularly Muslims, has been designed to reinforce the Union government’s commitment to ensure equal representation in all social welfare programmes, which in turn can help counter the consolidation of the minority community as an anti-BJP force, people aware of the details said.

The central leadership of the BJP has instructed its cadre to highlight the share of Muslims in social welfare schemes to indicate how there has been no disparity on the grounds of religion, and dispel the perception about the party’s alleged intolerance for the faith.

“The fact that Muslims have been beneficiaries of social welfare schemes punches holes in the oppositions’ claims of the BJP being an anti-Muslim party. For long, the opposition has fed fear about the BJP and its ideology, which has resulted in the minority community voting as a bloc against the BJP,” a party functionary said.

The BJP now wants to ensure that even if the community does not express support for them through the ballot, they should not be used as a vote bank against it. “They can vote for the party they choose, but the preference should not be dictated by aversion or hatred for the BJP,” the functionary said.

To change the narrative about the party’s alleged anti-minority stance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had instructed party leaders to reach out to the economically and socially backward Muslims, also known as ‘Pasmanda’, at the party’s national executive committee meeting in Hyderabad last year.

This year, he followed it up by pointing out that the outreach should not be carried out with an eye on electoral politics, but to forge ties with those in the community who are opposed to the radicalism and orthodoxy.

The PM was reported to have cited the example of Bohra Muslims who have not been opposed to the BJP, even if they are not counted as voters.

Starting February 10, the BJP’s ‘minority morcha’ will begin an outreach programme that will include identifying 5,000 people from 60 Lok Sabha constituencies who the party leaders will engage with.

“We have selected 60 constituencies where the population of Muslims is 30% and above. We will reach out to them with facts and figures about the how Muslims have been beneficiaries of central schemes, from Awas Yojana to Har Ghar Nal to scholarships and Ayushman Bharat. We will highlight how the PM has changed politics and shifted the narrative from the politics of appeasement and vote bank,” said Jamal Siddiqui, president of the minority morcha.

The outreach will also attempt to break barriers of electoral preferences by encouraging the community to shed their reluctance to vote for the BJP. For this, the party plans to carry out confidence-building engagements in states such as Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, in the first phase; it will subsequently be expanded to other areas.

However, Ali Anwar Ansari, the founder president of the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz and a former Rajya Sabha MP, dubbed the BJP’s outreach as nothing but optics.

“I wrote to the PM (after the Hyderabad NEC) that on one hand he talks about reaching out to Pasmanda Muslims, while on the other there are instances of mob lynching, accusations of ‘love jihad’ and talks of ‘ghar wapsi’. This shatters our hope. There is a need to walk the talk on inclusion. The government that speaks about Pasmanda, should have remembered that Bilkis Bano (whose rapists were set free by a court in Gujarat) is also Pasmanda,” Ansari claimed.

Source: Hindustan Times

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In Gyanvapi Mosque Case, Hearing Into Key Request Postponed To March 21

January 23, 2023

Varanasi: A Varanasi court on Monday fixed March 21 for the next hearing on a petition seeking to open and survey two basements in the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex, a government lawyer said.

District government counsel Mahendra Pandey said Varanasi District Judge A K Vishvesh posted the matter after almost two months as the Allahabad High Court last week postponed hearing in a related matter by eight weeks.

The High Court case relates to the demand of carbon dating of an object, said to be a 'shivling', found during a court-mandated survey of the complex. The plea for carbon dating was earlier filed by the Hindu side in the district court which had rejected the demand. The petitioners then filed a revision plea in the Allahabad High Court.

The High Court on January 19 granted eight more weeks to the Archaeological Survey of India for filing its response to clarify whether the carbon dating of the claimed 'shivling' could damage it or if safe evaluation of its age was possible.

Justice J J Munir fixed March 20 as the next date of hearing after the counsel for ASI sought more time to file its response.

Mr Pandey said that in view of this, the district judge on Monday fixed March 21 as the next date of hearing in the basements case.

Source: ND TV

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How Bollywood has been a bridge between Egypt, India


Jan 24, 2023

Over the next few days, India-Egypt bonhomie will be further burnished by a series of bilateral agreements and the diplomatic affability will also reflect in President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s presence as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

But the cultural ties run deeper. Over a swathe of decades in the land of Mo Salah, many Egyptians have built a personal bond with Hindi films. They have thronged to watch Dilip Kumar’s Aan, gorged on Big B’s Mard on grainy VHS tapes and queued up for Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name is Khan in Cairo.

It isn’t just the people, even presidents have loved Hindi cinema. Not many know that Egypt’s (then) President Gamal Abdel Nasser attended the 7th Filmfare Awards in Bombay in 1960.

The attraction is mutual. Bollywood too has been fascinated by Egypt’s landscape and monuments, especially the pyramids. From Bachchan in The Great Gambler (1976) to Akshay Kumar in Singh is Kinng (2008) – Hindi cinema’s biggest and brawniest have bashed up baddies and shimmied to songs there.

Ancient as the two civilizations are, shared anti-colonial objectives have crafted modern associations between Egypt and India. The Union ministry of external affairs said in 2014 that Mahatma Gandhi and Egyptian statesman Saad Zaghloul had common goals on independence of their countries. The ties were elevated by the close friendship between Nasser and Jawaharlal Nehru, leading to a Friendship Treaty between the two nations in 1955. Nasser and Nehru, along with Yugoslavia’s Josif Broz Tito, were regarded as the three pillars of the global Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

But beyond the world of politics and diplomacy, an invisible people-to-people connection was forged beginning in the 1930s through the world of moving pictures in darkened theatres. In an insightful paper titled, The Ubiquitous Nonpresence of India, Oxford professor Walter Armbrust referred to the fan magazine Al Kawakib (The Star) to show how Hindi cinema had come to be discussed in Egypt, though not always positively, in the 1930s.

But the cultural kinship side of the cinematic association wasn’t ignored either as a 1957 article in the same magazine showed. “The secret to the success of Indian films in Egypt is that they portray a common life of both the Indian and the Egyptian, with only trivial differences attributable to environmental factors. The music in these films moves us and lifts our spirits because it springs from the same source: the magic of the East and its spirituality. ” Egypt boasts a film industry of its own and the 1940s to 1960s period is regarded as “the Golden Age of Egyptian cinema”.

Trade Guide, a Hindi film business magazine, acknowledged in 1963 that Egypt produces technically high-standard films while also importing movies from the US and UK. “The audience is sophisticated and only first-class films with powerful story and colour element will be a commercial success,” said an article headlined, World Market for Indian Films.

The 1980s marked the arrival of video cassettes, which turned cinema-viewing into home entertainment for the first time. Pirated VHS tapes further expanded the global reach of Bollywood films and stars. From the1980s onwards, Bachchan became a megastar in Egypt.

“Bachchan skyrocketed into Egypt’s cinema star constellation with films like Geraftaar and Mard (1985) that viewers saw in theatres or watched on video cassette. . . Back in India, Bachchan’s films from the late 1980s did not attract audiences like they had at the peak of his stardom, when he was known as the ‘Angry Young Man’. But the later films still had enthusiastic fans in Egypt,” wrote Texas-based academic Claire Cooley in film journal Jump Cut.

Armbrust recalled two fascinating anecdotes that illustrate the extent of Big B’s popularity in Egypt. He wrote, “One urban legend circulating in the early 1990s was that a plane carrying Amitabh Bachchan touched down briefly in the Cairo airport for refuelling. Word got out about the Hindi star’s presence, and tens of thousands of people came to the airport hoping to catch a glimpse of him. I saw a more concrete example of Bachchan’s presence in the displays of vendors in a popular market near downtown. Some of these vendors sold tee shirts emblazoned with the face of Bachchan.”

It’s a point that Ahmad Mohd Ahmad Abdel Rahman, head, department of Urdu, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, reaffirmed in 2011. “If any Indian is spotted on the streets, the first welcoming words people utter are ‘Hello, Amitabh Bachchan,” he had told TOI then. It’s a matter of academic exploration how an individual becomes synonymous with a nation.

Egypt’s love affair with Hindi cinema has continued in recent years. In 2015, journalist Ati Metwaly wrote on Ahram Online how the Egyptians flocked to a Bollywood dance workshop at the Indiaby the Nile festival. “Young Egyptians hum Indian songs even if they don’t understand the lyrics,” Metwaly said.

Shah Rukh Khan is wildly popular in Egypt. King Khan’s immense draw is exemplified by a 2021 incident that Ashwini Deshpande, who teaches at Ashoka University, divulged on social media. She tweeted, “Needed to transfer money to a travel agent in Egypt. Was having problems with the transfer. He said: you are from the country of @iamsrk. I trust you. I will make the booking, you pay me later. For anywhere else, I wouldn’t do this. But anything for @iamsrk…” Later Shah Rukh heartwarmingly sent his autographed photos and a handwritten note to the travel agent.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan to skip SCO film fest in Mumbai, I&B says only country to not send entry

Jan 24, 2023

NEW DELHI: Pakistan will not participate in the upcoming five-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Film Festival in Mumbai from January 27-31, I&B ministry said on Monday.

India formally contacted all SCO member countries - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan - through their missions and sought their cinematic nominations across various sections of the film festival, the ministry said. However, all countries other than Pakistan sent their nominations.

"There is only one SCO member country - Pakistan - from which entries have not been received and there has been no response from them. No delegation from the country is participating either," Neerja Shekhar, additional secretary, I&B ministry, told TOI in response to a question on whether Pakistan cited any reason for staying away.

India took over the presidency of the SCO following the nine-member bloc's summit at Samarkand in Uzbekistan in September last year and will host the SCO Summit before the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September 2023.

Source: Times Of India

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Armed Struggle against State Of Pakistan Is Tantamount To ‘Rebellion’: Mufti Taqi Usmani Issued A Fatwa

January 24, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Renowned scholar Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani on Monday issued a Fatwa (decree) that any armed activity against the state of Pakistan was a “rebellion”, which was “haram” and proscribed according to the Islamic law.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who were fighting against the Pakistan Army and were involved in anti-state activities, were “rebels”, he said while virtually addressing the Paigham-e-Pakistan National Conference on ‘Countering Violent Extremism, Radicalism and Hate Speech, organized by the International Islamic University, Islamabad here at its Faisal Masjid Campus.

The decree was also unanimously adopted by the Ulema and Mashaykh of all schools of thought present in the conference.

Mufti Taqi Usmani said during his meetings in Kabul while heading a delegation, the Afghan Taliban also expressed their resentment against the TTP elements who were carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan.

“Fighting against national security agencies and carrying out anti-state activities come under mutiny and it has nothing to do with Jihad,” he added.

Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz said the sad incident of Army Public School had united the entire nation on one platform to cope with the menace of terrorism.

With the help of Ulema, Mashaykh and religious scholars, he said, the government evolved a unified policy in the shape of “Paigham-e-Pakistan” to bridge the communication gap and remove the religious differences for peace and tranquility in the country.

He proposed that the ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ should be given a constitutional cover by the parliament so that it should be implemented at the grassroots level.

Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said political instability was one of the main factors causing economic meltdown in the country.

He urged the media to play a responsible role and avoid publishing or broadcasting fake news because it severely affected the business activities.

He said there were certain elements who wanted to create chaos but the Ulema and Mashaykh had renewed their pledge to foil the nefarious designs of enemy against the peace and security.

Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Maulana Syed Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad said the “Paigham-e-Pakistan” had united the nation and it was playing a constructive role in the country’s development and prosperity. The Ulema and Mashaykh stood with the Pakistan Army and other security agencies, and they were countering the enemy’s agenda, he added.

Former religious affairs minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi said they had to make collective efforts to net the “masterminds”, who were polluting the minds of youth.

Allama Iftikhar Naqvi said the “Paigham-e-Pakistan” was yielding positive results and there was need for concerted efforts to make the people at every nook and cranny of the country aware of it.

Criticizing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief, he said Imran Khan was promoting polarization in society in a bid to grab power.

Ziaullah Shah Bukhari said there were certain elements fueling sectarianism on the social media and they could be countered through dialogue or otherwise taking legal action.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil said,”We should make concerted efforts to bridge the gap between the Ulema of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Allama Hussain Akbar said the “Paigham-e-Pakistan” should be part of national curriculum to educate the young generation.

He said a copy of the “Paigham-e-Pakistan” should be provided to the local government institutions across the country to further implement it at the lower level.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Govt wary of IMF-mandated ‘tough decisions’ in an election year

Anwar Iqbal

January 24, 2023

WASHINGTON: The government’s fear of losing popularity before the elections seems to be keeping Pakistan from finalising a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that could stabilise the economy.

Official and diplomatic sources told Dawn on Monday that both sides were still discussing the seven demands that the IMF wants Pakistan to accept before it resumes economic assistance to the country.

The demands include withdrawing electric subsidies, linking gas prices to the international market, free-floating dollars, and not blocking LCs.

The government “fears that implementing some of these demands will hike the price of essential items across the board,” a source said.

“It will make the government even more unpopular than it already is, so close to the elections.”

Pakistan’s power regulator has already allowed Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to hike rates up to 75 percent, subject to cabinet approval.

Islamabad is waiting for the 9th review of a loan-arrangement that the previous government signed with the IMF. The review would lead to the release of the next tranche of funds to Pakistan that has been pending since September.

In August 2022, the IMF approved the seventh and eighth reviews of Pakistan’s bailout program, agreed in 2019, allowing the release of more than $1.1 billion.

IMF officials have indicated that they are willing to continue working with Pakistan, but the country should first meet some basic requirements.

“They are asking for basics, so that they can send their team to Islamabad, but the finance minister is reluctant to do so,” said an official aware of the talks.

The official said that the IMF was asking for “some movement on energy prices and the demonstration of Islamabad’s intent to reform but Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is not giving an inch.”

Officials in Islamabad urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to intervene before it’s too late. “This could have been finalised four months ago,” another official said.

The official said that he “does not personally expect much before a caretaker setup takes over the center.” Asked why, the official said: “Dar Saheb will not allow the exchange rate to go to market levels.”

And if “we do not have an IMF program, the situation will not normalize,” he added.

Source: Dawn

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Widespread outages persist despite govt’s claim of ‘fully restoring’ power

Ghalib Nihad | Qazi Hassan

January 24, 2023

A day after a massive breakdown hit Pakistan, Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir said on Tuesday that electricity has been fully restored at grid stations across the country. However, major cities, including Karachi, Quetta and Lahore, remained deprived of power.

“Power at all 1,112 stations of the national grid has been restored,” Dastgir tweeted.

In a televised address at 10am, the minister explained said that there was a “delay in synchronisation” between Tarbela and Mangla power plants.

“But with the support of the Power Division, Wapda and other departments, we fixed the technical problem after which power at systems across the country was restored.

“Today, at 5:15am, the system was completely restored across the country,” Dastgir said.

However, the minister pointed out that there will be a shortage of electricity for the next two days.

He elaborated that approximately 6,600 megawatts of coal and 3,500MW of nuclear plants would take an estimated 48 to 72 hours to restart. “Until these plants start running, there will be limited load management, excluding industrial users.”

Dastgir further said that there was no fuel shortage in the country. “We are considerate of the electricity bills people have to pay and try not to unnecessarily use power plants that require a lot of energy.”

Talking about the investigation into the breakdown, the minister said that the government suspected “foreign intervention such as hacking of systems”.

“But its chances are very less. There have been incidents previously and we have to rule out this thing,” he added.

Dastgir also blamed the PTI government for the electricity breakdown, saying that it had not worked on upgrading the systems.

However, contrary to the government’s claims, a number of areas across the country were still deprived of power as of Tuesday morning.


In Karachi, outages were reported in Defence, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, North Karachi, Federal B Areas, Gulshan, Jacob Lines, Qurangi, Landhi and Qayyumabad.

Meanwhile, K-Electric spokesperson Imran Rana tweeted earlier today that the restoration of connectivity between the national grid and Karachi has helped improve the electricity supply to the metropolis.

“Electricity has been restored at important installations including airports, hospitals and water pumping stations,” he said, adding that all grids of K-Electric were fully functional.

“However, to keep the system stable, limited temporary load management can be done in the city,” Rana said.

Electricity to be fully restored in Balochistan by tonight: Qesco

On the other hand, the spokesperson of the Quetta Electric Supply Company told that electricity was partially restored across Balochistan from the 220kV Uch-Sibbi transmission line.

In Quetta, he said, power was being supplied from the 132kV Sibbi- Quetta circuit transmission line.

“We have also restored electricity at grid stations in Dera Murad Jamali, Rojhan Jamali and Gandakha, Bhag, Jhal Magsi, Usta Muhammad, Sohbatpur, Sui, Sibbi, Dhadar and Machh.”

Further improvement in the power situation will come after the Dera Ghazi Khan-Loralai transmission line is repaired, the Qesco spokesperson added. “God willing, electricity will be fully restored in Quetta and other areas by tonight.”

Another frequency issue in Lahore

Separately, the Lahore Electric Supply Company said that another “frequency issue” was reported in Lahore.

“After yesterday’s major power breakdown, power was restored in all areas of Lesco late at night. However, load management is being done in some areas due to a frequency issue,” it tweeted.

“Electricity will be restored without interruption as soon as the situation improves,” it added.

Meanwhile, during a US State Department briefing, spokesperson Ned Price was asked about the outage and whether the United States was sending anyone to Pakistan to look into it for a long-term solution to the collapsing grids.

“Of course I’ve seen what has transpired in Pakistan. Our thoughts are with all those who’ve been affected by the outages,” Price said in his weekly briefing. “The United States of course, as you mentioned, has assisted our Pakistani partners across any number of challenges. We are prepared to do so in this case if there is something that we’re able to provide. But I’m not aware of any particular requests.”

US sympathises with Pakistanis affected by power outages

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, at a weekly press briefing on Monday, was asked to comment on whether the US had any plans to assist Pakistan to overcome energy shortage in the wake of massive power breakdown in the country.

“Of course, I’ve seen what has transpired in Pakistan. Our thoughts are with all those who’ve been affected by the outages,” Price responded.

Source: Dawn

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Swedish authorities should take steps regarding Quran burning: EU Commission

Omer Tugrul Cam  



Swedish authorities should take steps regarding the burning of a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in Sweden, a spokesperson for the EU Commission said Monday.

Johannes Bahrke said in a press conference that such actions are not in line with the values on which the EU is founded.

Bahrke said racism, xenophobia, racial and religious hatred "have no place in the EU."

Condemnations continued to pour in from across the Arab and Islamic worlds over the burning of a copy of the Quran, by a Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Muslim states and Islamic bodies slam 'disgraceful' Sweden Quran burning

23 January, 2023

Muslim-majority states and international Islamic organisations resoundingly condemned the burning of a Quran by a Swedish-Danish far-right extremist in Sweden's capital on Saturday.

Swedish authorities had granted Hard Line Party leader Rasmus Paludan permission to torch the holy book, which was done outside Turkey's embassy in Stockholm under police escort after riots erupted following an earlier attempt in 2021.

The move was condemned by many Muslim and non-Muslim citizens in the Nordic country.


Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry responded by issuing a statement underlining its commitment to "spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence, and rejecting hatred and extremism".

Egypt's foreign ministry issued a harsher statement, slamming the burning as a "disgraceful act [that] provokes the feelings of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world".

In a similar statement, Qatar's foreign ministry said: "This heinous incident is an act of incitement and a serious provocation to the feelings of more than two billion Muslims in the world."

Statements were also issued by the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan against the act.

Egypt's Al-Azhar, which is considered Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, described the burning as "shameful" and called for the establishment of international laws to ensure Muslims are free to practice their religion.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) urged Sweden to prosecute the perpetrator, while the Qatar-based International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) encouraged Muslim states to demand apologies from Sweden's ambassadors.

Sweden-Turkey tensions

Responding to the outrage on Saturday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tweeted that freedom of expression was crucial to democracy, but added that "what is legal is not necessarily appropriate".

"Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today," Kristersson said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not comment on the issue in speeches over the weekend.

Ankara said it had warned Sweden against allowing the Quran burning to take place, cancelling an upcoming visit by Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson in response to the act.

The Quran burning has inflamed tensions between Stockholm and Ankara, who have already been at loggerheads over Sweden's bid to join NATO. Turkey has not yet ratified Sweden and Finland's memberships in the military alliance, saying Stockholm needs to address Ankara's security concerns first.

Earlier in January, Erdogan demanded that the Nordic states deport or extradite up to 130 "terrorists" to Turkey before its parliament approved their NATO bids, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Source: The New Arab

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UK’s Muslim Community Becoming Genuinely British

January 24, 2023

Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Muslims in the UK and other Western countries have been under the microscope. Their positions have been analyzed for any signs of disloyalty or extremism. For more than two decades, most British Muslims have focused on saying what they are not, while having others tell them who they are. Is this changing?

The signs are that the British Muslim community is growing in confidence. Head back to 2005 and the London bombings, the atmosphere was one of heads in the sand. Much of the British Muslim community did not digest the implications of four of their number committing these atrocities. All too often, they denied there was an extremism issue in their ranks. Even if such extremists were small in number, they were dangerous.

Since then, British Muslim organizations have made substantial strides forward and are far more on the front foot, with the reactions to the Manchester bombing of 2017 committed by a Libyan a key example. British Muslim organizations immediately reacted, with many helping those affected.

British Muslims are now the second-largest religious grouping in the UK. The 2021 census shows that the Muslim population is now about 4 million in England and Wales, some 6.5 percent of the entire population and an increase of 1.2 million since the 2011 census. This is a huge change to the makeup of Britain. Back in 1961, the British Muslim population hovered only around 50,000. It is also a very young population today. We do not know the breakdown as yet from the 2021 census, but the 2011 census indicated that about half the Muslim population was under the age of 25.

According to the first report of its kind published last week on British Muslim civil society, British Muslim organizations have mushroomed across the country. These groups help Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They are far more knitted into the broader community. These civil society groups cover everything from mosques to Islamic centers, student groups, media bodies and education outfits. There are now more than 2,000 mosques and Islamic centers in the country.

All of this civil society effort was on display throughout the pandemic and the ensuing cost-of-living crisis. Whereas once British Muslim humanitarian organizations tended to focus their efforts overseas, their contribution to addressing deprivation domestically has escalated.

British Muslims have become far more confident political actors. At the last general election in 2019, a record 18 British Muslim MPs were elected. It is almost certain that, at the next election, this number will increase even more, inching closer to the 6.5 percent of MPs that would indicate fair representation for their share of the population. An impressive 10 of these 18 MPs are women. Sadiq Khan is the first British Muslim mayor of London, having been elected for a second term in 2021, and is perhaps the leading Muslim politician in Europe. Role models and examples of success are key ingredients to greater confidence in these often marginalized communities.

There are also signs that British Muslim women are becoming more prominent. Zara Mohammed now leads arguably the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body, the Muslim Council of Britain. She is the first woman, the first Scot and the first person under 30 to be elected to this role. This matters as, more often than not, British Muslim women suffer from a triple penalty: Their race, their gender and their faith.

An overlapping issue is the role of British Arab communities, which are predominantly Muslim. Their number is far smaller than the overall Muslim population, the majority of which emanates from South Asia. Typically, British Arabs lack the confidence to engage in public life. This will no doubt happen, not least with younger generations getting involved, but they lag behind non-Arab British Muslims at present in terms of participation. Hopefully they will take heart from the increasing success of the broader Muslim community.

Challenges remain. British Muslim communities were hit disproportionately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. They still suffer from relatively high levels of deprivation. According to the recent census, 30 percent of British Muslims live in the poorest 10 percent of local authority districts. This is why it matters that British Muslim civil society has focused more and more on its own communities, not just internationally, as important as the latter undeniably is.

Islamophobia remains a massive challenge, not least on the right of British politics. The image of Muslims remains dreadful, with few positives. For example, it is safe to say that most of the British non-Muslim population have little clue as to the extent of British Muslim charitable giving and communal participation. British Muslims are all too often portrayed as one large block, ignoring the huge diversity among them. The diet of news about Muslims is largely a tidal wave of the negative, with Muslims seen as a threat and a danger. It still appears hard, sometimes impossible, to separate the guilt of a few extremists from a broader population of 4 million. The gross calumny that Islam is a warlike religion is widely held. Other Western states suffer from a similar malaise.

The more influential and confident British Muslim groups get, the more some others will feel threatened. This is what is happening. Nearly a third of those who voted for Brexit believe in the conspiracy theory of a massive plot to encourage Muslim immigration to take over the UK. But investing in effective organizational architecture will help to address hatred and bigotry.

Last week’s report highlights areas for improvement, not least the media. More progress needs to be made regarding the inclusion of women and youth, but it is happening. Further research remains vital, not least for the more marginalized, such as British Arabs, as there remains huge gaps in our knowledge.

Source: Eurasia Review

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UN body condemns burning of Quran in Sweden: '...hatred towards Muslims'

Jan 23, 2023

By Shobhit Gupta

Rasmus Paludan, leader of the far-right political party Hard Line, set ablaze the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on January 21 with the protection of the Swedish police.

“While the High Representative stresses the importance of upholding the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right, he also emphasizes that the act of Quran-burning, amounts to an expression of hatred towards Muslims," high representative for the UNAOC Miguel Angel Moratinos' spokesperson said in a statement.

“It is disrespectful and insulting to the adherents of Islam and should not be conflated with freedom of expression”, the statement added.

The UNAOC representative also expressed his serious concern over the increasing cases of discrimination and intolerance against any religious or other communities around the globe.

Moratinos stressed mutual respect among the nations and promoting "inclusive and peaceful societies rooted in human rights and dignity for all".

Islamic nations, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan and Somalia, have also condemned the atrocious act and targeted Sweden for “state-supported Islamophobia”.

Turkey cancelled a planned tour by Swedish defence minister Pal Jonson to Ankara amid diplomatic tensions.

Denouncing the act, Swedish Prime minister Ulf Kristersson said, “Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act.”

“I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm," he added.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Muslims, Christians worldwide decry Swedish Quran burning

JAN 23, 2023

Condemnations kept coming in from Muslims, Christians and Jews in Türkiye and across the globe in a religious show of solidarity over the weekend over the burning of a copy of the Quran by a Swedish-Danish far-right politician in Stockholm.

The leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party Rasmus Paludan, under police protection, was permitted to set fire to a copy of Islam’s holy book in front of the Turkish Embassy in the Swedish capital while delivering an anti-Islam speech on Saturday.

Paludan’s act aroused a harsh backlash worldwide, with Türkiye, the target of the hate crime, pulling the lead in denouncing the incident and Swedish authorities for enabling him.

Some 250 people were gathered outside the Swedish Consulate in Istanbul late Sunday to decry what has been broadly dubbed as an “Islamophobic hate crime."

The protestors set on fire a photo of Paludan and carried green flags featuring an Islamic proclamation of faith and a banner that said, “We condemn Sweden’s state-supported Islamophobia.”

The broader Muslim world, countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and many others “strongly condemned and rejected” the extremist act, as well, with Kuwait’s Foreign Minister calling on the international community “to shoulder responsibility by stopping such unacceptable acts and denouncing all forms of hatred and extremism and bringing the perpetrators to accountability.”

Russian Muslims and Christians, Türkiye's Armenian Patriarchate, and the Jewish community were among those slamming the incident, too.

The Armenian Patriarchate said the "heinous act" not only offended the religious feelings of those who belong to the religion of Islam but that there were also movements “aimed at inciting feelings of enmity among people of different faiths.”

"It is certain that this act, incompatible with democracy, freedom and human rights, will not be accepted by those who share these feelings," it added.

The statement underlined that the Armenian Turkish patriarch, Sahak Mashalian, especially "regretfully condemned this outdated act," along with the Spiritual Assembly of the Church, the clergy, foundation boards and the Armenian Turkish community.

Stressing the "need for love and peace" as the world struggles with a multitude of problems, the patriarchate said, "We remind that it would be better for people to refrain from acts that would add problems to the (existing) problems of our world, regardless of religion, language and race, and to serve with all their might to provide the desired environment of peace."

The Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Russia described the burning session as “barbarity” and expressed that all Russian Muslims “strongly condemn” it.

“The perpetrators of this act are trying to politically incite a group of certain people by stoking the fire of hatred between religions,” the administration warned and called on European authorities to “show the courage to accept that faith in the hearts of most people is a guiding force.”

Vladimir Legoyda, chairperson of the Synodal Department for the Russian Church’s Relations with Society and Mass Media, took to Twitter to denounce the incident as “an unacceptable act of vandalism.”

“Humanitarian limits cannot be crossed, and religious sanctity cannot be hurt in political struggles,” Legoyda said.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the Quran burning as a provocative action that "targets Muslims, insults their sacred values, and serves as a further example of the alarming level reached by Islamophobia" and asked Sweden to punish those behind the "hate crime."

Azerbaijan and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) were also in the chorus of condemnations.

"We call on the Swedish government to bring the perpetrators of this hate crime to justice as soon as possible," the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. At the same time, TRNC President Ersin Tatar stated, "Such outdated approaches are a threat to all humanity and they threaten world peace."

Turkish minority organizations in Western Thrace also slammed the attack on the Quran. "It is unacceptable for the Swedish authorities to consider the attack on the Quran as freedom of thought," the mufti (Muslim cleric) of the Turkish minority in the city of Xanthi (Iskeçe) said in a statement.

Paludan’s Quran burning is not the only incident straining bilateral ties between Türkiye and Sweden.

The leeway Swedish authorities grant anti-Türkiye provocateurs, like the supporters of terrorist organizations including the PKK, its Syrian offshoot YPG, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), has been a major source of conflict, too, especially over the past year amid the Nordic country’s bid to join NATO, which is likely to hit a dead-end following this turbulent weekend.

Stockholm has been courting Ankara to secure a green light for its application since last year when it, alongside Finland, threw away its military nonalignment in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war. Ankara, however, has been firm in its demands that its security concerns about the terrorists Sweden is harboring and tolerating be addressed.

As per a tripartite memorandum the sides inked in June last year, Stockholm has vowed to meet the said demands, including extraditing and increasing its crackdown on terrorist groups. For the previous month, however, public support in Sweden for the terrorist groups from their sympathizers has been raising the tensions between the two countries, which Ankara has repeatedly warned would jeopardize Stockholm’s NATO membership process.

Source: Daily Sabah

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EU ministers agree on new package of sanctions against Iran

23 January ,2023

EU ministers on Monday agreed on a new package of sanctions against Iran, the Swedish EU presidency said.

“Ministers adopted a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the repression. The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters,” the presidency said in a tweet, without giving further detail.

Source: Al Arabiya

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France repatriates 15 women, 32 children from Syrian extremist camps: Ministry

24 January ,2023

France repatriated 15 women and 32 children held in extremist prison camps in northeastern Syria, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday.

“The minors were handed over to the services in charge of child assistance and will be subject to medical and social monitoring,” the ministry announced in a statement, adding that “the adults have been handed over to the competent judicial authorities.”

Over the past decade, thousands of extremists in Europe traveled to Syria to become fighters with ISIS, often taking their families to live in the self-declared “caliphate” it set up in territory seized in Iraq and Syria.

Since the “caliphate” fell in 2019, the return of family members of fighters who were captured or killed has been a thorny issue for European countries.

The return announced Tuesday – which was committed due to pressure from humanitarian organizations – is France’s third large-scale repatriation.

The previous one was in October last year, when Paris repatriated 15 women and 40 children, and in July, when 16 mothers and 35 minors were returned.

The women and children repatriated Tuesday were in the Roj camp in northeast Syria under Kurdish administration, located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Iraqi and Turkish borders.

The French authorities thanked “the local administration in northeastern Syria for its cooperation, which made this operation possible.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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North America


'Repugnant' Quran burning could be sabotage against NATO unity: US

JAN 23, 2023

The U.S. State Department spokesperson claimed that the "repugnant" Qur'an burning by Swedish-Danish activist in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm could have been done to undermine NATO unity, as Türkiye was outraged against Sweden for permitting such provocation.

Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday torched the Islamic holy book in front of Ankara's embassy in Stockholm just as Türkiye holds up Sweden's application to be part of the transatlantic alliance for failing to keep up to its promises made in a trilateral memorandum signed with Finland.

"Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. "It's repugnant," he said, also calling the incident "disgusting" and "vile."

Price said the burning was the work of "a provocateur" who "may have deliberately sought to put distance between two close partners of ours – Turkey and Sweden." He "may have deliberately sought to have an impact on the ongoing discussion regarding the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO," Price added.

Price defended the stance of Sweden, saying that it upholds "freedom of association" and that an act "can be lawful and awful at the same time." He explained, "I think in this case, what we've seen in the context of Sweden falls into that category."

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded to the provocation by saying that Sweden should not expect Türkiye's support for its NATO bid after allowing such an act filled with hatred, as well as anti-Türkiye protests by terrorist PKK/YPG supporters.

Since officially applying for membership in May 2022, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland have been striving and struggling to secure Türkiye’s approval for joining the bloc. The Turkish government is objecting to their accession on grounds of security concerns, namely “harboring and tolerating” terrorist groups such as the PKK, and FETÖ.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) the sides inked at a NATO summit in Madrid stipulates that the two countries take concrete steps to address the said concerns, increase their crackdown on terrorist organizations and deport people suspected of terrorism-related crimes.

For the last month, however, public support in Sweden for terrorist groups by sympathizers has been raising tensions between the two countries, actions which Ankara has repeatedly warned would jeopardize Stockholm’s NATO membership process.

A scandalous mid-January protest in Stockholm wherein an effigy of President Erdoğan was hanged by its feet in front of the city hall has particularly impaired negotiations, with Saturday’s Qur'an burning session as the boiling point.

Türkiye summoned the Swedish ambassador and canceled a visit by Swedish Parliament Speaker Andreas Norlen, as well as Defense Minister Pal Jonson to Ankara. Amid an outpouring of international denouncements, dozens of Turkish officials, including defense and foreign ministers as well as opposition party leaders, slammed Sweden for enabling Paludan.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tweeted late on Saturday that freedom of expression was crucial to democracy but added that “what is legal is not necessarily appropriate."

"Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act. I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today,” said Kristersson.

Source: Daily Sabah

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US to increase pressure on China to stop importing Iranian oil, Iran envoy says

24 January ,2023

The Biden administration’s top Iran envoy said it will increase pressure on China to cease imports of Iranian oil as the US tries to enforce nuclear sanctions.

“China is the main destination of illicit exports by Iran,” and talks to dissuade Beijing from the purchases are “going to be intensified,” US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said in a Bloomberg Television interview Monday.

The US reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic and its petroleum exports in 2018 after pulling out of an agreement aimed at containing its nuclear program. In response, Tehran has ramped up uranium enrichment activities and restricted international monitoring.

Meanwhile, Iranian crude shipments have surged in recent months in defiance of Washington’s censure. Much of that flood of oil appears to be heading to China, the world’s biggest importer.

The US will “take steps that we need to take in order to stop the export of Iranian oil and deter countries from buying it,” Malley said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US-Iranian citizen imprisoned in Iran ends hunger strike

23 January ,2023

A US-Iranian dual national imprisoned in Tehran ended a seven-day hunger strike on Monday, saying he had lost 10 pounds but felt strengthened in his resolve to fight for the release of US prisoners.

Siamak Namazi, who has been detained since October 2015, said his strike marked the seventh anniversary of Washington’s decision to exclude him from a prisoner release that saw five other Americans freed after the inking of a historic denuclearization deal with Iran.

Namazi had called on US President Joe Biden to consider the plight of American prisoners in Iran for a minute each day – one “for each of the seven years of freedom he... lost” since the prisoner swap, according to a statement released by his lawyer on Monday.

“I went on hunger strike because I’ve learned the hard way that US presidents tend to rely more on their political thermometer than their moral compass when deciding whether or not to enter a prisoner deal with Iran,” he said.

“I denied myself food for an entire week so that maybe President Biden will recognize just how desperate the situation of the US hostages here has become.”

According to his lawyer, Namazi lost about 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) and his blood pressure spiked above normal levels during the hunger strike. He also struggled to stay warm, the statement said.

Namazi was blocked from leaving the country after a 2015 visit and sentenced to 10 years for collaborating with a foreign government, charges that he denies and that US officials have called groundless.

After Donald Trump nixed the nuclear deal with Iran, the Biden administration had sought to restore it, while also insisting the pact could not go forward without the release of imprisoned Americans.

But, after painstaking negotiations, Biden has acknowledged that the deal is effectively dead.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US support for Daesh in Afghanistan

23 January 2023

The US has been reaching out to groups opposing the Taliban, such as Daesh, and secretly giving money to them.

Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan, expounds the reasoning for this covert support thus:

Because they really want to avenge their shameful military political defeat in Afghanistan, and in retaliation, they do everything so that peace isn't established in this troubled land.

Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan

Kabulov also asserted that this also affects Russian security.

With the armed opposition in Afghanistan, the Anglo Saxons are covertly sponsoring Daesh, who are aimed at undermining not only the stability of our Central Asian partners, but also the security of Russia.

Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan

Allegations of the US supporting Daesh, in particular, have been around for a decade at this point. Sometimes they even come from US officials.

President Obama; he's the founder of ISIS … I would say the cofounder is Hillary Clinton.

Former US President, Donald Trump

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is among the top officials that accused the United States of backing Daesh. Erdogan made the accusations in response to US accusations against his government for supporting terrorist groups.

Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD, it is very clear, we have confirmed evidence with pictures, photos and videos.

Turkish President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In a three year field study of the Daesh supply chain, it was found that the military hardware and external funding that anti Assad rebel groups received from the US found their way into the hands of Daesh.

With all the accusations of direct US involvement in the founding of Daesh, the indirect involvement, which most of the world agrees resulted in the creation of the terror group, is the "power vacuum" that the US left in the region by fighting the many wars it fought, especially the invasion of Iraq and the support of Syrian rebel groups.

The US effectively fought a war in Afghanistan for twenty years, with a budget of over 2.1 trillion dollars, just to replace the Taliban with the Taliban.

The Taliban have been accused of many things since their swift power grab in August 2021 but what they have managed to do is to stabilize the country ridding it of power struggles, which means groups like Daesh, who still have a presence in the region, were unable to establish bases in Afghanistan.

Despite carrying out terrorist attacks, even after the Taliban took over, the number of such attacks has dropped significantly over the past year.

Now with approximately 97% of the Afghan population living below the poverty line, with over half of the country's assets frozen by the US, the last thing the country can afford is US shenanigans trying to prop up Takfiri terrorist groups there.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently added insult to injury by justifying the way the US left Afghanistan, claiming that if the “coalition forces” had remained there "it would have, I think, made much more complicated the support that we've been able to give, and others have been able to give, Ukraine."

As if Afghanistan were a pawn in the grand scheme of US political agendas, an attitude that isn't too uncommon in US politics, applicable to friend and foe, without exception.

Source: Press TV

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South Asia


Taliban Discuss Restoration of Historical Sites with UNESCO

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 24, 2023

Mawlavi Atiqullah Azizi, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information of Afghanistan met with Brendan Cassar, UNESCO Culture Program Officer on Monday to discuss the restoration of historical sites. 

During the meeting, Mr. Azizi shared his concerns with Brendan about restoring historical sites and ancient reservoirs in some provinces of the country, which are on the verge of collapse.

The deputy minister said that Ghor Jam Minar, Mirwais Nika, and Ahmad Shah Baba shrines in Kandahar, the walls of Bost Fort in Helmand, and some historical buildings and academic centers in Ghazni and Bamyan provinces are being protected. He added that UNESCO’s urgent assistance in constructing and restoring certain historical places is required now more than ever before as the country is faced with a massive economic crisis amidst other significant challenges. 

For his part, Brendan deemed it necessary to carry out these works and said that UNESCO is ready to assist in restoring the historical sites in Afghanistan.

This comes as the Taliban blew up the giant statue of Bamyan, also known as the “Buddhas of Bamyan” during their previous spell in 2001. The act drew widespread condemnation from the international community, describing it as a complete cultural tragedy and disrespectful against global Buddhism.

Following the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, they are accused of disrespecting cultural values in the war-torn country. The de facto authorities have renamed universities and educational institutions, venues, airports, hospitals, and cities throughout the country– arousing the anger of the general public.

Meanwhile, the caretaker regime is also accused of implementing an anti-Farsi/Dari policy in the country as they have already erased Farsi from the billboards of certain government institutions.  

Source: Khaama Press

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Chinese Nationals Arrested Over Smuggling Precious Stones: Taliban

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 24, 2023

Taliban authorities have arrested five men including two Chinese nationals over the alleged smuggling of lithium-bearing stones out of the country, according to local sources.

In collaboration with their Afghan allies, two Chinese nationals were trying to smuggle precious stones from Afghanistan to China through Pakistan. 

According to sources, the rocks contained 30 percent lithium, extracted from Nuristan and Kunar, the two provinces sharing a border with Pakistan. The smugglers were arrested in Jalalabad, an eastern border city in Afghanistan.

Taliban intelligence personnel said Chinese nationals in collaboration with their Afghan partners wanted to transport the precious stones to China via Pakistan while arrested.

China is one of the few countries in the region that has maintained close ties with Afghanistan’s de facto authorities. With the U.S. and its Western allies gone, China found the best opportunity to achieve its economic and strategic objectives in the war-torn country by commencing its Road and Belt initiative.

However, security remains a major concern for foreign nationals currently working in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban’s return to power, terror attacks took place at the Russian Embassy, Pakistan Diplomatic Mission and a Chinese-Run hotel in the heart of Kabul, resulting in the death and injury of scores of people including foreign nationals. 

Following the terror attack targeting a Chinese-run hotel in Kabul, Beijing advised the Chinese to leave Afghanistan immediately. Despite the security threats, China has an intense interest in investing in Afghanistan, as the Taliban authorities have already contracted the extraction of the Amu oil field with the Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) last month.

Source: Khaama Press

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Sri Lanka seeks investment, employment opportunities from Saudi Arabia


January 23, 2023

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is seeking to boost relations with Saudi Arabia through connectivity, investment, and employment opportunities, its foreign minister said on Monday as he began a visit to the Kingdom.

Ali Sabry, who will be visiting until Jan. 27, was scheduled to meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during the official trip, as well as senior officials from the Islamic Development Bank, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Sabry told Arab News in an exclusive interview that Sri Lanka was looking for ways to further relations with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking in Madinah, he said: “Generally, the visit is to further strengthen ongoing discussions to have more connectivity and employment opportunities and investment.

“Traditionally, we have had a good relationship with Saudi Arabia … so we are very hopeful that we can strengthen it.”

Improving bilateral relations was important for Sri Lanka, the minister added, as the Kingdom was “a very influential member of the international community,” especially in the Islamic world and due to its membership in the Group of 20 biggest economies.

The Sri Lankan delegation includes the Minister of Rural Economy Kader Masthan, Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Riyadh, Pakeer Mohideen Amza, and the consul-general in Jeddah, Faiah Moulana.

Sabry’s visit follows a series of high-level engagements by Sri Lankan officials with the Kingdom in the past year. These have included Environment Minister Naseer Ahamed’s visit in August as a special envoy of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, where his meetings had focused on improving energy cooperation.

In November, Labor and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkara met Saudi officials to discuss ways to boost labor relations and find employment opportunities for skilled Sri Lankan workers on infrastructure projects being implemented under Saudi Vision 2030.

With all the “huge developments taking place in Saudi Arabia,” Sri Lanka was eager to “also get their due share in terms of employment and other benefits in different areas,” Sabry said, adding that a discussion to improve trade was also on the agenda.

“When we strengthen the relationship between both countries, it can be a catalyst to a wider, better relationship with the Islamic world,” he said. “So, we are very keen on developing this.”

The island nation of 22 million people has been struggling in the past year with challenges ranging from a shortage of dollars to runaway inflation and a steep recession as it faces its worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Source: Arab News

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Reviewing engagement with Taliban, says US on rights violations in Afghan

January 24, 2023

The US on Monday said that it is reviewing its approach and engagement with the Taliban in the context of many human rights violations that are taking place in Afghanistan under the atrocious regime and it is actively evaluating with the allies and partners to take the next appropriate steps towards it.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, in a press briefing, underlined that the US continues to be the world's leading humanitarian provider to the people of Afghanistan, and is not providing the Taliban with any support.

"It is certainly not the case that we are providing the Taliban with any support. In fact, the US continues to be the world's leading humanitarian provider to the people of Afghanistan. We have provided about USD 1.1 billion worth of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, not to any Taliban people or any entity purporting to represent or serve the government," he said.

Price said that the US is reviewing its approach in terms of the grave humanitarian violations that are taking place in the country as well as the actions the world has seen from the Taliban in recent weeks and recent months.

Responding to the media query on the Taliban's atrocities on the Afghan people, the US State Department spokesperson said, "We are actively evaluating with allies, partners are the appropriate next steps. We have been clear that there will be a cost for the Taliban for these actions as absolutely everything remains on the table."

Recently, a United Nations (UN) delegation has warned the Taliban that Afghanistan would be further isolated if it isolates its women.

According to Khaama Press, a high-level UN delegation travelled to Afghanistan this week and met with high-ranking Taliban officials to ensure the protection of women and girls' rights amid the growing concern over their alienation.

The Taliban was told by UN legal experts to prioritize protecting the rights of women and girls under any circumstance. The international community was also urged to support Afghan women during these critical times.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, the Executive Director of UN Women Sima Bahous, and the Assistant Secretary-General for UN political, peacebuilding, and peace operations Khaled Khiari, were part of the UN delegation visiting Kabul.

The aim of the four-day visit was to observe the situation, engage with de facto authorities and highlight the UN solidarity with the Afghan people, the delegation said in a statement last week.

Meanwhile, amid the ongoing violation of the rights of Afghan women under the Taliban regime, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid recently said in a statement that overturning restrictions against women is not a priority for the group, reported Khaama Press.

The Taliban said that it would not permit any acts that violate Islamic law, and the concerns regarding restrictions on women's rights will be dealt with according to the established rule of the group in the country.

Source: Business Standard

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Surging crime, bleak future push Rohingya in Bangladesh to risk lives at sea

24 January, 2023 

By Ruma Paul, Sudipto Ganguly and Krishna N. Das

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Reuters) – Mohammed Ismail says four of his relatives were killed by gunmen at the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh between April and October last year. He recalls the September night when, he says, he almost met the same fate: masked men kidnapped him, cut off parts of his left arm and leg and dumped him in a canal.

“They repeatedly asked me why I gave their personal details to the police,” Ismail, seated on a plastic mat with his left limbs covered in white bandage and cloth, told Reuters at the Kutupalong refugee camp. “I kept telling them I didn’t know anything about them and had not provided any information.”

About 730,000 Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority present in Myanmar for centuries but denied citizenship in the Buddhist-majority nation since 1982, fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military crackdown. Including others who migrated in prior waves, nearly 1 million live near the border in tens of thousands of huts made of bamboo and thin plastic sheets.

An increasing number of Rohingya are now leaving Bangladesh for countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia via perilous boat journeys, as rising crime in the camps adds to longstanding troubles like a lack of educational and work opportunities and bleak prospects of returning to military-ruled Myanmar.

Crimes recorded in the camps – including murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery, human trafficking and narcotics trade – have soared in recent years, according to data that Bangladesh police shared exclusively with Reuters. Murders rose to 31 in 2022, the highest in at least five years.

“A series of murders of Rohingya men, including some leaders, at the camps have sparked fear and concern about militant groups gaining power, and local authorities failing to curb increasing violence,” said Dil Mohammed, a Rohingya community leader in the camps.

“That’s one of the main reasons behind the surge in Rohingya undertaking dangerous sea voyages.”

Police declined to comment on questions about Ismail or the issues at the camps beyond the data they shared.

Data from UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, show that about 348 Rohingya are thought to have died at sea in 2022, including in the possible sinking late last year of a boat carrying 180 people, making it one of the deadliest years since 2014. Some 3,545 Rohingya made or attempted the crossing of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to Southeast Asian countries last year, up from about 700 in 2021, the UNHCR said.


Ismail, 23, said he believes insurgents targeted him and his relatives, who were aged between 26 and 40, after his cousins rejected repeated approaches over the preceding three or four years to join a militant outfit, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). The group has fought against Myanmar’s security forces and some Rohingya say it has been recruiting fighters, often through coercion, in the Bangladesh camps.

In letters to the UNHCR in November and this month seen by Reuters, Ismail said he witnessed the killings of two of his cousins on Oct. 27.

Reuters could not independently verify the deaths of Ismail’s relatives, but his account was corroborated by his brother, Mohammed Arif Ullah, 18. The UNHCR declined to comment on Ismail’s case, citing safety and privacy risks.

About a dozen Rohingya men in the camps, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said that ARSA militants, whose stated goal is to fight for and restore the rights and freedom of the Rohingya in their ancestral homeland, were involved in criminal activities in the camps, including human and drug trafficking.

An ARSA spokesperson did not respond to questions Reuters sent by email and Twitter about the fates of Ismail and his family, and its alleged involvement in trafficking and attempts to recruit fighters in the camps. The group said on Twitter in December that its activities were confined to Myanmar.

“Any crimes and incidents happening in the camps… in all such happenings, most of the time innocent Rohingya refugees from the camps are labelled as ARSA members and extra-judicially arrested by the authorities,” it said.

The UNHCR acknowledged concerns about crime in the camps, saying it had increased its presence so that refugees could access protection and support.

“Among the serious protection incidents reported to UNHCR are abductions, disappearances, threats or physical attacks by armed groups and criminal gangs involved in illegal activities,” said Regina de la Portilla, the agency’s communications officer in Bangladesh.

Reuters could not independently obtain evidence of drug trafficking by ARSA, though previous Reuters reporting described how refugees had been drawn into the trade out of desperation.

Accounts of violent crime in the overcrowded refugee settlements are adding to pressure on densely populated Bangladesh, which has struggled to support the Rohingya and has called for Myanmar to take them back.

Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner based in Cox’s Bazar, said the government was trying to control crime, including through a separate police battalion posted to the camps, but that “criminals just flee across borders when we run an operation”.

“For me, ARSA are thugs, hoodlums, hopeless people who now depend on drug peddling and extortion,” he said. “They don’t have a country, society, and nobody recognises them. That is why they are involved in crimes and life is meaningless to them.”

Human Rights Watch said this month, in a report based on interviews with more than 40 refugees, that Bangladesh police’s Armed Police Battalion, which took over security in the camps in 2020, was committing extortion, arbitrary arrests, and harassment of Rohingya refugees. The battalion did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Rahman said returning the Rohingya to Myanmar was the “only solution” to their problems. But Myanmar’s military junta, which took power in a coup two years ago, has shown little inclination to take them back. A Myanmar government spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Ismail, who lives with his parents, wife and brother, says he fears for his life and understands why some Rohingya are fleeing Bangladesh.

“It’s better to die at sea than being killed by terrorists or dying every day living in fear,” he said.


The police data show that crimes in the camps and the number of Rohingya arrested in Bangladesh last year were 16 times the levels of 2017 – a significant jump even after accounting for the influx of refugees. Police arrested 2,531 Rohingya and registered 1,220 cases last year, up from 1,628 arrests and 666 cases in 2021.

About 90% of cases last year, and a similar proportion of arrests, involved murder, illegal use of weapons, trade in narcotics, robbery, rape, kidnapping, attacks on police and human trafficking. Reuters could not determine how many of these resulted in convictions.

The murders of 31 Rohingya marked an increase from a previous high of 27 in 2021. Related arrests reached 290, from 97 a year earlier. Drug-related cases and arrests also soared.

Khair Ullah, a senior Burmese language instructor at the Development Research and Action Group, an NGO, said that besides concern about crime, the refugees were frustrated because about 90% of them had no education or employment.

“They are worried about their future. They can’t support their old parents,” said Ullah, 25, who is Rohingya and lives in the camps. “What will happen when they have kids? The other big issue is that there’s no hope of repatriation from here, so they’re trying to leave the camps illegally.”


Reuters spoke with several refugees who returned to the Bangladesh camps after abandoning journeys to Malaysia, via Myanmar, out of trepidation.

Enayet Ullah, 20, who is not related to Khair Ullah, arrived in Bangladesh in 2017 with his family. In December, he said, he saw the bodies of two Rohingya men who had been killed in the area of the camps where he lives.

“When I saw their bodies, I was traumatised,” he said. “I thought I could have died this way. Then I decided to leave the camp for Malaysia.”

Taking a boat from Teknaf in Bangladesh with nine others on the night of Dec. 13, Ullah said he reached the Myanmar town of Sittwe the next day. He had arranged for traffickers to take him to Malaysia for 450,000 taka (about $4,300).

“More Rohingya were supposed to join us and then a bigger boat would sail for Malaysia,” Ullah said. “They were waiting for a green signal to start the voyage. But my gut feeling was that the journey wouldn’t be safe.”

He got cold feet and asked the traffickers to send him back to Bangladesh for 100,000 taka.

Ullah laments that after more than five years in the camps, his homeland seems as far away as ever.

“No education, no jobs. The situation will only deteriorate as time passes by,” he said.

Those who reach Malaysia – where there are about 100,000 Rohingya – often find their situation similarly dire. Deemed illegal immigrants, many are jobless and complain of harassment by police. And the deteriorating political situation in Myanmar since the coup has dashed any hopes of repatriation in the near term.

Mohammed Aziz, 21, said he pulled out of a sea trip to Southeast Asia after he saw pictures of boats that traffickers were using, and felt they were too small. He said he had to pay 80,000 taka for the trip to the Myanmar coast from Bangladesh and back.

Source: The Print

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Afghan Deaf Community Wants Islamic Emirate to Address their Problems


KABUL (BNA) The country’s deaf community, in a meeting with Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi, called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to address their problems.

They are complaining, even though they are deserved it, the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled has not registered them for receiving help.

Batur, who spoke in sign language, in this meeting, talked on behalf of others regarding the problems and challenges of the country’s deaf community to Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi, the Deputy Prime Minister.

He mentioned that unemployment and poverty are the main problems of the deaf, and said that the deaf is still not registered in the framework of the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled.

He asked the officials of the Islamic Emirate to pay special attention to the problems of the deaf community.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Hanafi said: “The deaf community, like other citizens, has their rights, and the Islamic Emirate pays attention to addressing the problems of the Afghan people, especially those who are in unusual circumstances, as one of its priorities.”

Source: Bakhtar News

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Afghanistan Criticizes Uzbekistan for Cutting Power Supply

By Fidel Rahmati

January 23, 2023

Afghanistan urges Uzbekistan to restore the power supply following the previous agreement between Kabul and Tashkent.

Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi on Sunday called on Uzbekistan to provide the amount of electricity mentioned in an agreement signed between Kabul and Tashkent, Tolo News Reported.

Muttaqi slammed Uzbekistan for turning off Afghanistan’s electricity supply amid the bitter winter in the country.

“Uzbekistan cut off electricity supplies; now people are facing problems. Neighbours and friends should help each other in difficult moments,” he added.

Afghanistan’s interim foreign minister stated that the Uzbek government must keep its word and supply power to Afghanistan by the agreement between Kabul and Tashkent.

Last week, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat announced the suspension of the power supply from Uzbekistan due to a technical issue. The technical problem still has not been fixed, and the people of Afghanistan are facing problems amid the freezing winter.

Source: Khaama Press

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Southeast Asia


PAS President: Islamophobia Used To Stop 'The True Islam' From Taking Back Power to Govern Country

By Keertan Ayamany

24 Jan 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang has said that Islamophobia is a “new weapon” that is currently being asserted by “orientalists” who study Islam to find faults and weaknesses in the religion.

Taking to Facebook last night, Hadi also said that Islamophobia is being used as a mental weapon against Islam by a “government made by colonisers”, political parties, secular groups, and the enemies of Islam especially on internet media.

“Islamophobia is being argued with hate speech and animosity towards Islam, especially by orientalists that study Islam not based on the true Islamic knowledge from the al-Quran, hadith and eminent Islamic scholars,” he said.

He also said that Islamophobia is being used to stop “the true Islam” from taking back power and governing the country.

He added that Islam does not use coercion and is meant to protect the oppressed.

“Therefore, there is not even a little reason for phobia against Islam if its teachings are studied in an honest manner from original sources, not copies or lies,” he said.

This comes after Hadi had made a Facebook posting on Sunday saying that Chinese are not strangers to him, as his grandfather had adopted many Chinese children during the Second World War and he had a Chinese in-law.

Source: Malay Mail

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Indonesian Ulema Council Condemns Quran Burning in Sweden


JANUARY 23, 2023

Jakarta. The Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, denounces the burning of a copy of the Quran by a Danish-Swedish far-right politician during a recent protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the Danish far-right political party Stram Kurs, set fire to a copy of the Quran when protesting outside the Turkish Embassy over the weekend. The Islamophobic act has sparked worldwide outrage. Condemnation also poured in from Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, particularly among its Islamic scholars.

“What Rasmus Paludan and his group did has sparked a conflict in Sweden. This act is not only shameful but also uncivilized,” Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim, the head of foreign affairs at the MUI, said on Monday.

The MUI accuses Paludan and his group of spreading xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia. The MUI urged the Swedish government to take immediate action against the perpetrators.

“If the Swedish government fails to take action, extremism and Islamophobia will only continue to spread and threaten humanity. This is baffling, because they [the perpetrators] have committed the act several times, but we have not seen a firm action taken against Paludan,” Sudarnoto said.

“This is the same as the [Swedish] government letting Islamophobia spread even though it goes against the United Nations’ resolution on combating Islamophobia,” he said. The MUI demanded an explanation from the Swedish Ambassador in Indonesia.

According to Sudarnoto, the Swedish ambassador should promise to take action to stop all sorts of extremism. He also called for the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry to make a diplomatic appeal to the Swedish envoy in Jakarta.

“Don’t let the Sweden-Indonesia ties be disrupted because we let this case go unchecked,” Sudarnoto said.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Sunday announced on Twitter that Indonesia strongly condemned the Quran burning.

“This act of blasphemy has hurt and tarnished religious tolerance. Freedom of expression must be exercised in a responsible manner,” the ministry tweeted.

Source: Jakarta Globe

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Malaysian lion dancers bring new spirit to ancient tradition

By Florence Looi

24 Jan 2023

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – When her maternity leave ended, Mariam Abdul Nazar returned to work and her passion, lion dancing.

A Malaysian Muslim, she started learning lion dancing when she was 13, after accompanying her then 14-year-old brother to his training sessions.

“I was drawn to the energy from the music, especially the drums. And I thought the lions were cute, with their big, big eyes,” Mariam, a 27-year-old content reviewer, told Al Jazeera.

In multiracial Malaysia, lion dancing has become so popular that it is not just the country’s ethnic Chinese taking up the art.

The Muhibah Lion Dance Troupe, established in 1984, is the first multiracial lion dance group in the country. Its name, Muhibah, is from the Malay word “muhibbah”, which means a feeling of friendship or camaraderie.

At the Khuan Loke Dragon and Lion Dance Association, where Mariam trains, her teammates are made up of Malays, the ethnic majority in Malaysia, Indians, an ethnic minority, and a handful of foreigners.

Now a working adult and a new mum, Mariam finds it difficult to commit to the three-times-a-week training schedule, but she returns to help out during the Lunar New Year, one of the busiest times for lion dance troupes in Malaysia.

Festive mood

The lion is a traditional symbol of good luck in Chinese culture and lion dancing is believed to usher in good luck and prosperity while driving away evil and bad luck.

Chinese families and Chinese-owned businesses hire lion dancers to perform in their homes and offices, believing it will bring good fortune for the rest of the year.

Shopping malls also hire lion dance troupes to put on shows throughout the 15-day celebration as well as in the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year.

There are Facebook pages dedicated to tracking where and when performances are held.

Sarah Thiang and her family try to catch at least one show every year.

“It’s part of Chinese culture. It’s fun and really puts me in a festive mood,” she said, watching an acrobatic performance in a shopping mall.

“It’s a bit nerve-racking watching them [the lion dancers] on high poles, but I wasn’t worried for them. I have confidence in their ability,” she added.

The acrobatic lion dance is performed on high poles ranging from one to three metres in height.

Performers have to be agile and strong, and every move has to be perfectly coordinated.

A misstep or a mistimed move could result in serious injury.

The lion dance tradition may have originated in China some 1,000 years ago, but it is Malaysia that is setting the pace and Kuala Lumpur that is considered the lion dance capital of the world.

Performing on high poles is a relatively new development, invented in the 1990s by Malaysian Siow Ho Phiew, who later created a high pole sequence that became the new standard in acrobatic lion dance worldwide.

Siow, or Master Siow as he is often called in a nod to his expertise, is also a master craftsman of lion heads and a world-renowned coach.

One of his students is Harlen Lee, owner and head instructor at Gee Yung International Martial Arts, Dragon and Lion Dance Sports Association in Hawaii in the United States.

Lee remembers a time when lion dancing was mostly performed by and for people in the Chinese community.

“Now, almost every country has a lion dance team. That’s pretty awesome, that our culture, our background has touched other cultures. I’m proud of that,” said Lee, who is based in Honolulu.

He makes it a point to return to Malaysia every year to train with a local team, and if he is unable to do so, he sends one of his students instead.

“Just being in that atmosphere, going into the heart of learning lion dance mastery, helps us improve,” Lee said.

Music is the ‘heartbeat’

“One of the reasons Malaysian lion dance teams keep winning competitions is because our lions are life-like, they have spirit,” said Eric Fong, secretary general and coach of Khuan Loke.

Fong, who also judges lion dance competitions, says the art of lion dancing is not only about performing stunts but also about the ability to convey emotions.

A flap of the ears, a flutter of the eyelids — these gestures can be used to express playfulness, excitement or ferocity.

At Khuan Loke, all lion dance performers start by learning to play the instruments — the drums, the cymbals and the gong.

“The music is the heartbeat of a lion dance,” Fong explained. “There is no shortcut.”

The training and the performance schedule are gruelling.

It often means Fong and his team have to skip almost all Lunar New Year celebrations, save the traditional family reunion dinner held on the eve of the festival.

Fong says his family have gotten used to seeing little of him during a time when family gatherings are cherished.

Source: Al Jazeera

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JB school's SPM workshop for Muslim students causes stir on social media


24 Jan 2023

JOHOR BARU: A Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) workshop for a convent school here was allegedly held only for Muslim students and has gathered strong reactions from parents and the public.

It is learnt that the two-day, one-night workshop that was held in a hotel here, covered critical subjects including Additional Mathematics and Chemistry.

"The school held a two-day, one-night SPM workshop for only Muslim students, saying that it would only involve religious-related subjects.

"However, it turned out to be a comprehensive workshop covering subjects such as Chemistry, Additional Mathematics and others.

"Apparently, it was paid for by a donor. Non-Muslim students were left out and not even informed about the workshop," said a parent in a thread on Twitter.

Her tweets have since made the rounds on social media, gathering over 400 retweets and more than 700 likes in less than 24 hours.

She added that when disgruntled parents sought an explanation from the school's Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chat group, the school principal shut down the conversation.

"The PTA has since forwarded the pertinent queries regarding the workshop to the school principal and is waiting for her response," she added.

Source: The Star

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Islamic college’s convocation reflects its diverse student body

24 Jan 2023

ONE thousand graduates of International Islamic College (IIC) received their degrees, diplomas and certificates at its 14th convocation ceremony.

It was officiated by IIUC’s royal patron, Tunku Besar Tampin Tunku Syed Razman Tunku Syed Idrus Al-Qadri and held at the IIUM Cultural Activity Centre in Gombak, Kuala Lumpur.

A total of 24 outstanding graduates also received excellence awards at the ceremony.

It also saw the graduation of the pioneer batch of 32 from the Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (TVET) programme.

Among the notable graduates was Muhammad Haziq Samrat, 28, who is disabled.

Also known as Haziq Skateboard, he graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship), offered in collaboration with Federation University of Australia.

Although he was born without limbs from the waist down, that did not deter Haziq from engaging in extreme sports such as wall climbing, skateboarding and swimming.

He was also a recipient of the Inspiration Award at the 11th convocation ceremony.

Mohd Sharizal Zainal Abidin, 40, who received a Diploma in Creative Animation, also proved that age is no barrier.

“Challenging myself to pursue studies while working was not easy but I persevered.”

He noted that the diploma was a second chance for him as he could not continue his studies after Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

Following several years working as a clerk at IIC, Mohd Sharizal decided to pursue his studies through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode.

The father of three collaborated with many production companies during his time as student and is now head of department at a broadcasting and media production firm.

Several non-Muslim graduates also received their scrolls, including Haris Anbarasan, 21, who graduated with a Diploma in Law.

“I value the experiences gained during my studies at IIC,” he said.

Vickneshkumar Suberamaniam, 27, an Information Technology graduate, said there were several times when he felt dispirited.

“But I never gave up as I wanted to finish what I started,” said Vickneshkumar, who chose IIC for its cultural diversity, Islamic ambience and because its programmes are recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Source: The Star

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Arab World


Muslim Council of Elders, Under the Chairmanship Of al-Azhar Grand Imam Condemns Burning Of Holy Quran By Extremists In Sweden


ABU DHABI, 23rd January, 2023 (WAM) -- The Muslim Council of Elders, under the Chairmanship of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, has expressed its utmost condemnation of the burning of the Holy Quran by an extremist in Sweden.

The Council strongly denounced such vile actions that provoke and insult nearly two billion Muslims around the world, calling for an end to hate speech, the instigation of discord and to respect the beliefs of others by not desecrating religious sanctities.

Source: WAM

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Shura Council Denounces Swedish Authorities over Burning Of Holy Qur'an Copy

JANUARY 23, 2023

The Shura Council has denounced, in the strongest terms, the Swedish authorities for allowing one of the far-right members to burn a copy of the Holy Qur'an in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, asserting that allowing such a blatant act provokes emotions of 2bn Muslims, and ignites hate speech and violence.

This came during the ordinary weekly session of the Shura Council that was held Tuesday at Tamim bin Hamad Hall at the headquarters of the Council, under the presidency of HE the Speaker Hassan bin Abdullah al-Ghanim.

The Council confirmed that such an outrageous step contravenes the laws and charters of respect for the religious sanctities of nations, including human rights principles that underscore freedom of religion, and protect sanctities and rituals. The Council expressed its deepest astonishment over the silence of some Western and European countries towards the persistent offence against the Islamic religion, under the pretext of freedom of expression, pointing out that such a double-dealing with the concept of freedom of expression, has allowed the recurrence of infringements upon Islam, causing the growth of Islamophobia phenomenon. It also deepened the gap between the east and the west.

The Council warned against the menace of the growing far-right racial speech, anti-Muslim hate, involving religious sanctities in such acts, and offending them to achieve political gains, confirming that such acts would lead to more hatred, discrimination and violence, in addition to feeding terrorism and extremism. The Shura Council called on the people of Qatar, the Union of Councils of Member States of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), all parliaments of Islamic world and the parliamentary, Islamic and Arab federations to take essential and serious steps to further adopt a unified Islamic stance to ensure non-infringement of sanctities and never compromise them, and prevent the recurrence of such infringements.

During the session, the Council discussed the request of holding general discussion that was submitted by a number of members on the infractions made by some individuals and companies, and their impact on the terrestrial environment. In this regard, the members of the Council pointed to the great importance Qatar places on environment, as enshrined in the country's Constitution to conserve the environment, specially the terrestrial environment, which is demonstrated in Qatar's national vision 2030, as an environmental development pillar.

They asserted that tampering with some wilderness areas by some individuals and companies significantly causes erosion of areas, in addition to degradation of their capacities to continue and sustain, specially that Qatari environment is characterised by dry desert environment with little rain and vegetation. They noted the danger of encroachment on environment, meadows and wildlife through dumping construction waste, overgrazing and other detrimental practices that damage the environment, albeit the existence of laws and legislations that overtly criminalise such acts.

The Council members stressed the importance of enforcing the laws and intensifying surveillance and accountability to reduce the phenomenon of encroachment on environment, and never hesitate to impose fines and penalties on violators, emphasising the importance of sensing the spirit of responsibility towards environment and its conservation. After discussing the request and securing everyone's confirmation on the criticality of conserving the environment, and taking all necessary actions to prevent any infraction or encroachment, the council decided to submit the request to the Public Services and Utilities Committee for further perusal, and file a report to the council accordingly.

Source: Gulf Times

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Hezbollah will stand up to any bid meant to undermine Lebanon’s security: Top official

23 January 2023

A high-ranking official from the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says his group will decisively counter any bid meant to undermine the Arab country’s internal security, and supports efforts aimed at easing tensions among political factions.

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stated on Monday that the movement will stand up to any attempt to threaten peace and stability and undermine national unity.

Sheikh Qassem underscored that Hezbollah wants a president who will not surrender to internal or foreign pressures, and who will not aggravate the situation in Lebanon and escalate tensions.

He went on to note that Hezbollah's position regarding the political structure of Lebanon is crystal clear, as it strictly abides by the 1989 Taif Agreement, which put an end to the civil war in Lebanon.

The senior Hezbollah official pointed to the political tug-of-war over electing a successor to former president Michel Aoun, whose term of office ended on October 31 last year, emphasizing that Hezbollah calls for dialog and negotiations to bring differing viewpoints closer together.

Sheikh Qassem warned that those seeking to sow the seeds of discord and division in Lebanon are actually sinking the country further into crisis amid acute economic woes.

On Thursday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called for the election of “a brave [Lebanese] president who is willing to sacrifice.”

“We want the election of a president, the formation of a government and the salvation of the country,” the Hezbollah leader said.

“We want a brave president who is willing to sacrifice and does not care about the threats of the Americans. There are such examples and we must look for a government of this type and ministers of this type,” the Hezbollah chief underlined.

Source: Press TV

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Saudi national orchestra and choir to appear at finale of 2nd Qemam folk festival

January 23, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi National Orchestra and National Choir will appear at the closing ceremony of the Qemam International Festival for Mountain Performing Arts on Friday, Jan. 27.

The Music Commission announced on Monday that 70 musicians and singers will perform a variety of popular folk songs during a show at King Khalid University Theater in Abha, reflecting the Kingdom’s musical culture and heritage, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The week-long Qemam Festival, which is in its second year, is a showcase for the traditional arts that have been preserved in the mountainous region in the southwest of the country, which is home to the Kingdom’s highest peaks. Sixteen Saudi folk groups and 14 international ensembles are taking part this year.

Source: Arab News

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Iraqis injured in anti-Sweden protest after Quran burning

23 January ,2023

An Iraqi policeman and seven protesters were injured Monday during a rally outside the Swedish embassy in Baghdad against the burning of a Quran in Stockholm, a security source said.

Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on Saturday set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital.

Iraqi police on Monday confronted more than 400 protesters outside the embassy when they came too close to the building, an Iraqi interior ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

During the rally, which was organized by pro-Iran groups, protesters chanted, “No to Sweden, yes to the Quran”. As police pushed the demonstrators back, violence erupted.

“Protesters threw stones and the police used their truncheons,” the interior ministry official said, adding that seven protesters and a policeman were injured.

The protesters then scattered, an AFP photographer said.

Many Muslim countries have said they were outraged by the burning of the Quran, which Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson condemned as “deeply disrespectful”.

Paludan’s actions in Stockholm have raised tensions with Turkey as Sweden courts Ankara over its bid to join NATO.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Kuwait PM submits resignation of cabinet in tussle with parliament

23 January ,2023

Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah on Monday submitted the resignation of his cabinet to the country’s crown prince, state news agency KUNA reported, in the latest standoff between government and the elected parliament.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who has taken over most of the emir’s duties, last year named Sheikh Ahmad as premier and called early legislative polls after dissolving the previous parliament to end feuding that impeded fiscal reforms.

Tensions recently resurfaced between parliament and the government, sworn in last October, as lawmakers pressed for a debt relief bill, under which the state would buy Kuwaiti citizen’s personal loans, and sought to question two ministers.

The prime minister submitted the government’s resignation to the crown prince “as a result of what has become of the relationship between the executive and legislative authorities”, KUNA cited a cabinet statement as saying.

Parliament had been scheduled to convene on Tuesday.

MP Shuaib Al Muwaizri, head of parliament’s financial and economic affairs committee, had said in a Twitter post on Sunday that personal debt relief would remain on the table until the government “officially presents just alternatives” to increase wages, pensions and social assistance for Kuwaitis.

The wealthy Gulf oil-producing nation has been trying to strengthen its state finances as part of structural reforms, including a debt law that would allow the state to tap international markets but which has faced legislative gridlock.

Political bickering has for years hampered investment and reforms in Kuwait, which is heavily dependent on oil revenues, has an expansive welfare system and a public sector that employs roughly 80 percent of its citizens. Kuwaitis account for less than a third of the population of 4.6 million people.

Opposition figures made big gains in September parliamentary polls in the country, which bans political parties but has given its legislature more influence than similar bodies in other Gulf monarchies.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi singer Talal Alshehail optimistic about KSA’s growing music industry


January 23, 2023

RIYADH: Talal Alshehail becomes quite emotional when he speaks about his debut show that opened up in Riyadh last week because it has been such a challenge to get his work out for the past 13 years.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the creative director of the Riyadh-based company, Capital Entertainment, said that the Kingdom is now providing opportunities, which was once a distant dream for artists. He admitted, though, that it is a nascent industry and more needs to be done for creatives to develop business and technical skills.

He said he experienced a rush of emotions, including a great deal of gratitude, when his band Trip Loon performed in Jax District last week. “This was 13 years in the making. I started this project 13 years ago. The band changed its name four times with different lineups. It was so hard to get it up and running and to do a show,” he said.

“Now that we know Saudi Arabia has changed we don’t have these problems of music, now it’s allowed. Ever since we started working on getting a band together, we have worked hard. Now there are resources in the country. There is infrastructure for that. So I thought, it’s time to get the debut up and running,” Alshehail said.

Alshehail graduated from three programs at the New York Film Academy — two Master of Fine Arts qualifications in filmmaking and producing respectively, and a diploma in cinematography.

His career highlights include directing a critically acclaimed music video in the US that was featured in both Yahoo Music and Rolling Stone’s Top 20 List of Most Awesome Music Videos in 2014 and the Saudi Arabian Pioneers Marketing Award for Best Video Commercial in 2018.

Alshehail said that his music journey started when he was in college in the UAE with his best friend Mohammed Alshaibi, who is currently a member of Trip Loon. Alshaibi had quit their initial band because he thought a music career was not possible, and decided to get married.

Alshehail, in contrast, persisted and wanted to live and work in the US but could not get an artist visa. “I couldn’t get a run over there. Then I came back and everything was allowed, but there was no infrastructure. Now everything is allowed and there is the infrastructure. So now everything seems possible,” he said.

Debut is roaring success

“We came up with a team that performed at the debut show, they were all Saudis. If the band members stay committed to me for at least one album cycle of development, production, promotion and touring, and they seem like they are committed, then we are going to change the band name, from my name to a band name,” said Alshehail, who was joined during the interview by Capital Entertainment’s founder Turki Alshagroud and co-founder AlWaleed AlShehail.

The debut show was a roaring success. “The reason for such a good response from the people is because so many of the biggest names in Rock ’n Roll in Saudi Arabia participated in this project, and also from (other) music genres … they all encouraged us. “Few musicians in America and Amro Hawari, a legend in the rock scene in Saudi Arabia participated in this and supported us,” said the artist.

He said the plan is to tour the Kingdom with Trip Loon, which includes producing more music and performing at wrestling shows. “Our next plan is (also) to have a single out. We just want to have one single, and then we are gonna focus on finishing the first album.

“We have nine of the 10 songs written for the first album, and then we will finish it. It’s a matter of just getting the budget for tracking it, and then we can have it released,” he said.

Alshehail believes that there is a lot to look forward to. “This should not be an opportunity that we should take lightly, we should focus on making really good material with a lot of merit, and not just prematurely develop things just because there are opportunities just to have a release out.

“I think all the artists have to really take this opportunity seriously and make songs that are really thought out and that have a really powerful effect on its listeners,” he said.

Capital Entertainment’s slogan is “Merit before Hype,” which encapsulates the aim to “train and to co-create content with upcoming Saudi artists in order to attract popular and critical acclaim, both locally and globally.

Source: Arab News

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Israel angered by visit of Western envoys to Al-Aqsa Mosque

January 23, 2023

Israeli is angry that EU and other Western envoys visited Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem last Wednesday without prior coordination with the occupation authorities, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday. According to the newspaper, the delegation included around 30 diplomats from EU countries, Canada, Australia and Argentina.

Instead, it was reported, they coordinated with the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem, which is the religious administrative body covering the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.

"We joined like-minded diplomats at Al-Aqsa Mosque to demonstrate support for Jordanian custodianship of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem," tweeted the British Consulate in the holy city. "We continue to promote historic status quo arrangements which permit all three Abrahamic faiths to worship in the Old City."

Source: Middle East Monitor

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Iran Rules Out Face-to-Face Negotiations with US


Reacting to reports of talks between Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN Amir Saeed Iravani and Joe Biden administration's Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley, Kana'ani noted that Tehran is holding no direct bilateral talks with Washington.

The Iranian diplomat told reporters, however, that messages on the talks for removal of the anti-Iran sanctions are being exchanged with the US through different channels.

Tehran has announced that no direct negotiations have been held between Iran and the United States over various issues, including the nuclear negotiations as well as prisoner swap.

"The nuclear issue is a topic in which Iran as well as the US government and European members of the Iran nuclear deal, JCPOA, have interests, therefore all sides are determined in the negotiations," the spokespersoan added, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"They [Americans] have repeatedly stated that the nuclear negotiations is not their priority, noting that their priority is iran's internal developments. What they say is inconsistent with what they do," he stated.

"US support for instability and insecurity in Iran is a blatant illegal interference in Iran's domestic affairs and is seen as betting on the wrong horse," the senior official continued.

"Pursuing political agenda with the aim of gaining concessions in the negotiations will certainly not work, and Iran will not cross its red lines," Kana'ani emphasized.

Regarding the issue of exchange of prisoners between Iran and the US, Kana'ani said the two sides reached agreements in this regard, but Washington has tied the issue to the revival talks of the JCPOA.

“Iran is seriously keen that necessary measures be taken so Iranian prisoners held in US jails who have been arrested on baseless accusations and pretexts, including bypassing the US’ unjust sanctions imposed on the Iranian nation, can be freed as soon as possible,” he added.

Iran stresses it has not quit the negotiating table with the world powers, but will not put all its eggs in the negotiation basket and will not wait for the United States to return to its commitments under the 2015 agreement. Iranian officials stress Tehran has maintained its constructive attitude towards a good, strong and lasting agreement on the revival of the accord and arriving at a deal requires the US pragmatic attitude.

Tehran says it will not be able to trust Washington as long as President Joe Biden continues the wrong policy of maximum pressure and sanctions practiced by Donald Trump against Iran. Iranian officials say the Biden administration has yet done nothing but hollow promises to lift sanctions against Tehran. They blast the US addiction to sanctions, and slammed the POTUS for continuing his predecessor's policy on Iran.

Tehran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal have held several rounds of negotiations since April 2021 to restore the agreement, which was unilaterally abandoned by Trump in May 2018.

The talks remain stalled since August 2022, as Washington continues to insist on its hard-nosed position of not removing all sanctions that were slapped on Tehran by the previous US administration.

In quitting the agreement, Trump restored sanctions on Iran as part of what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Those sanctions are being enforced to this day by the Biden administration, even though it has repeatedly acknowledged that the policy has been a mistake and a failure.

Iranian officials say the ball is in the US' court, and the Biden administration should assure Tehran that it will not repeat Trump's past mistakes.

Diplomats have also criticized Washington for raising excessive demands from Tehran during the nuclear talks, and blocking efforts to reach an agreement on the JCPOA. They emphasized that the US should lift unilateral sanctions, and assure Iran that it will not repeat its past mistakes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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VP: Several Billion Dollars of Iran's Frozen Assets Released


"Several billion dollars of Iran's frozen exchange assets have been released in recent days," Mokhber said while stating that the country is full of economic capacities and opportunities.

Referring to Iran's vast capacities in the field of mines, Iran's first vice president said, "With the production of one million copper cathodes, we will have 10 billion dollars of profit and income for the country. But so far, only seven percent of the copper mines in the country have been discovered, and Iran ranks sixth in terms of reserves and eighteenth in terms of production."

Mokhber reiterated that in the petrochemical sector 21 projects with a value of $13 billion, in the oil field sector 16 projects with a value of $56 billion, in the industrial sector 6 projects with a value of $7 billion and in the agricultural sector, (different) plans with a value of $5 billion have been developed, some of which have entered the stage of implementation and operation," he added.

In a relevant development earlier this month, Deputy Head of Investment at the National Development Fund of Iran (NDFI) Mohammad Javad Danesh said that Iran is planning to carry out 20 oil and gas projects worth around $80 billion in a 10-year period.

He pointed out that like all national wealth funds in the world, NDFI intends to invest in economic projects as an investor.

“We will adjust the financing models to reach $80 billion with existing resources and with the forecast of future resources,” he added.

One of the 20 mega-projects on the agenda is the development of 12 gas fields in the South Zagros region, for which NDFI has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and exploration and development companies as a financier.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Situation on edge of large-scale confrontation with Israel, Islamic Jihad warns

24 January 2023

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement has censured the recurrent desecration of the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque compound and other holy places across the Israeli-occupied territories, warning of a serious face-off with the occupying regime.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Salmi denounced Monday morning’s incursion of hundreds of extremist Jewish settlers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East al-Quds, calling it a “brazen attack on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.”

“The assault on the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and performance of provocative rituals in the courtyard of the sacred site reveals the stubborn determination of the far-right administration of the occupying Israeli regime to implement its evil plans. Such moves are viewed as a declaration of war on al-Quds and the entire Palestinian nation,” Salmi said.

“We are teetering on the edge of a full-fledged confrontation and the situation would go off at any time in case all relevant parties do not fulfill their responsibilities to stop the crimes of the Israeli regime. We would then recognize no reservations to defend al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque,” he added.

Salmi asserted that Palestinians are fairly capable of defending their land and sanctities, as they proved during the 11-day Operation Sword of al-Quds in May 2021.

Gaza-based resistance forces launched Operation Sword of al-Quds in defense of Palestinians in al-Quds against Israel’s atrocities and desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque.

During that operation, Palestinian resistance groups overwhelmed the Israeli regime by firing over 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories. Israel, shocked by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21 that year, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.

Meanwhile, according to local sources, at least 323 Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque in groups through its Bab al-Maghariba gate and toured its courtyard under tight police guard.

Footage circulating on the internet showed two settlers waving Israeli flags while police officers escorted them.

Other settlers performed full prostration with their bodies pressed flat on the ground after entering the mosque compound, amid restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers to the holy site.

Hardline Israeli officials and settlers regularly storm the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city, a provocative move that infuriates Palestinians. Such mass settler break-ins almost always take place at the behest of Tel Aviv-backed temple groups and under the auspices of the Israeli police in al-Quds.

The al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Jewish visitation of al-Aqsa is permitted, but as part of a decades-old agreement between Jordan – the custodian of Islamic and Christian sites in al-Quds – and Israel in the wake of Israel’s occupation of East al-Quds in 1967, non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited.

Back in May last year, an Israeli court upheld a ban on Jewish prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after an earlier lower court’s decision stirred outrage among various Palestinians and across the Muslim world.

Source: Press TV

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Iran condemns sanctions imposed by EU, Britain, threatens retaliation

24 January ,2023

Iran on Tuesday strongly condemned new sanctions imposed by the European Union and Britain and said it would retaliate, after the West stepped up pressure on Iran over its crackdown on protests.

“The Islamic Republic will soon announce the list of new sanctions against the human rights violators of EU and England,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement.

The European Union imposed sanctions on more than 30 Iranian officials and organizations, including units of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, blaming them for a “brutal” crackdown on unrest and other human rights abuses.

The United States and Britain also issued new sanctions against Iran, reflecting a deterioration in the West’s already dire relations with Tehran.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran second worst country for internet censorship in 2022 following protests: Report

24 January ,2023

Iran was the second place in the world for internet censorship in 2022 after repeatedly shutting off the internet in parts of country and blocking access to social media platforms to curb protests sparking from of Mahsa Amini’s death, a new poll has showed.

As anti-regime demonstrations spilled onto the internet and social media, with videos of women burning their hijabs going viral, Iran responded by repeated internet blackouts and the shutdown of mobile networks across the capital of Tehran and other parts of the county.

This led to Iran being placed second on the list of the world’s worst countries for internet censorship last year, according to research by internet watchdog Surfshark published on Monday.

Its internet censorship yearly recap shows around half the world’s population – about 4.2 billion - suffered a politically motivated internet blackout in 2022.

Nineteen countries imposed fresh restrictions on citizens’ use of the web last year, bringing the total of nations engaged in such repressive measures to 32.

As far as regions go, Asia led the poll comprising of the most countries that introduced repressive internet measures last year.

The Jammu & Kashmir region in India, imposed the largest number of interest restrictions the poll said.

In Iran, its censorship actions arose after the death in police custody of Amini, who was arrested for being ‘inappropriately dressed’ under the nation’s repressive Islamic law, which sparked public outrage.

Surfshark said authoritarian governments have turned to internet and social media disruptions to maintain their rule and curb civil unrest, opposing political parties, free speech, and looming socio-economic concerns.

“More than half of the world’s population was affected by internet censorship last year,’ says Surfshark spokeswoman Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske. “Many of these cases involved full internet disruptions on a local or national level.”

“These can be devastating and extremely dangerous, especially during wartime, protests, or violent government repressions. Internet restrictions can make it difficult or even impossible to mobilize people for the defense of democracy, contact loved ones, access news sites, and spread information to the outside world on what’s happening,”

In total, 11 Asian countries imposed new internet disruptions in 2022, bringing a total of 58 cases. The Jammu and Kashmir region had the highest disruption count in the world (24), followed by Iran (11) and the rest of India (10).

Africa follows Asia as the second most disruption-intensive region, with 5 countries imposing 13 restrictions. Sudan takes the lead in Africa by disruption count (4), followed by Burkina Faso (3) and Zimbabwe (3).

Alp Toker, director of NetBlocks, said: "Through the past year we’ve seen how governments have used internet shutdowns and telecommunications blackouts as a tool of repression and control, silencing journalists, civil society, and the general public. Internet connectivity today underpins all human rights, which is why it’s more critical than ever to document mass-censorship incidents and find ways to get people reconnected."

The report found that Burkina Faso, Russia, and Azerbaijan had the longest internet disruptions last year

Burkina Faso restricted Facebook access for residents in January. The restriction continued into 2023.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram disruptions following the invasion of Ukraine are still ongoing. The country has also blocked access to major international news sites.

Azerbaijan restricted TikTok in September. The platform remains restricted to this day.

Of all social media platforms, Facebook is the most-hated by autocratic governments and remains highly censored in 2022. In fact, since 2015, a staggering 46 percent of the global population has, in some way or another, been affected by government-imposed Facebook restrictions.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli army admits Palestinian man killed ‘for no reason’


January 24, 2023

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli soldiers last week posed no threat or danger and should not have lost his life, the Israeli army admitted on Monday.

Ahmed Kahla, 46, from Ramon, near Silwad in the occupied West Bank, was shot in the neck from close range at a military checkpoint on Jan. 15.

The Israeli army initially claimed that Kahla had been shot because he got out of his car with a knife in his hand and ran toward soldiers with the intention of stabbing them.

Kahla’s son Qusai, 20, who was with his father at the time, said their car was stopped at the checkpoint and a soldier fired a stun grenade that hit the roof of the vehicle. When Kahla asked why they were being attacked, an officer used pepper spray on him and pulled him from the vehicle before the soldier shot him dead.

An army investigation found that Kahla had no intention of carrying out a stabbing attack and “the incident should not have ended in death.”

The victim’s brother Zayed, 45, told Arab News: “They killed him for no reason. We will take all measures to prosecute them.” The family intends to seek financial compensation from the army in the Israeli courts, and will also go to the International Criminal Court.

Source: Arab News

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Palestinians vow to foil Israeli plan to demolish strategic Al-Khan Al-Ahmar village


January 23, 2023

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the US and the EU to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the demolition of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, and the forced displacement of its residents.

Al-Khan Al-Ahmar has provoked an international crisis as the small village is strategically significant, connecting the north of the West Bank with the south.

It is one of the only remaining Palestinian areas in the E1 area — a name for a settlement project that aims to link Jerusalem with several other Israeli settlements.

The ministry’s appeal came as dozens of Palestinians launched protests on Monday to defend the strategic village.

Israeli National Security Minster Itamar Ben-Gvir presented a document during a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 22, listing a series of buildings put up by Arabs in the West Bank in the past months.

The minister called for their demolition in six areas in the north and the center of the West Bank, as well as the nature reserve areas east of Bethlehem and Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu said during the Cabinet session: “We are applying the law in a balanced way. Today, we destroyed only three Arab homes in Bethlehem and Nablus.”

The Israeli Supreme Court issued a final decision in September 2018 to evacuate and demolish Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, rejecting the petition of the village’s residents against their eviction and displacement and the destruction of the community, which is mainly made up of tents and tin dwellings.

Knesset members from the Likud party, meanwhile, organized a tour on the outskirts of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar on Monday in a move aimed at pressuring the Netanyahu government to demolish the community and displace its residents, especially after Ben-Gvir’s demands for its demolition.

Ben-Gvir presented a document containing photographs of Palestinian buildings east of Bethlehem, Nablus, Qalqilya and Ramallah and pledged to work on demolishing these buildings during his tenure.

Netanyahu and other extremist Israeli ministers have effectively waged war against Palestinian construction in the C areas, which comprise 60 percent of the West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the campaign of incitement by the ministers, members of Knesset, and extremist settlers to demolish the village of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, denouncing their calls to storm it and attack its residents and those in solidarity with them.

The ministry said that Israel aims to implement massive settlement projects in the area and strongly rejected the attempt of some political and media parties in Israel to compare the random settlement outpost in Jurish, south of Nablus, with the village of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar.

It affirmed that Al-Khan Al-Ahmar is part of Palestine, while settlement in all its forms, including random outposts, is illegal under international law.

Majed Al-Hillew, a Fatah Revolutionary Council member, said that a meeting would be held on Tuesday for the council to discuss ways to activate popular resistance in Palestine in general, and in Al-Khan Al-Ahmar in particular, to confront the measures of the new Israeli government.

Mustafa Al-Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, told Arab News that Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, Masafer Yatta and Sheikh Jarrah are the first lines of defense for the Palestinian presence in the face of the annexation of the West Bank, which the Netanyahu government is trying to implement.

Separately, the Israeli army admitted after an investigation that the 46-year-old Palestinian who was killed on Jan. 15 did not pose a threat to the soldiers, as was previously claimed.

Ahmed Kahla from Ramon, east of Ramallah, near the town of Silwad, was shot in the neck from close range.

The army investigation found that “the incident should not have ended in death.”

The Israeli army had earlier claimed that Kahla had a knife in his hand when he got out of his car and was headed toward the soldiers before they shot him.

The army’s investigation concluded that Kahla did not intend to carry out a stabbing attack.

The victim’s 20-year-old son Qusai, who was with him on the day he was killed, confirmed that he and his father were on their way to work in the morning.

Their car was stopped at an Israeli checkpoint and a soldier fired a stun grenade that hit the roof of the vehicle.

When the father opened the window and asked the soldier why he fired the stun grenade at his car, an officer ran toward him, used pepper spray on him, and took him out of the vehicle before the soldier shot him dead.

The army’s investigation showed that the pepper spray the officer used on Kahla had been brought from his home and had not been administered by the Israeli military.

Zayed Kahla, 45, the victim’s younger brother, commented to Arab News on the Israeli military investigation into the death.

“We were certain that they killed him for no reason. So we will take all measures to prosecute them and force them to pay financial compensation,” he said, adding that the family has decided to go to the Israeli courts to sue the army and will also go to the International Criminal Court.

“We realize that their trial will not bring our brother Ahmed back to life, but we want them to pay the price for their crime.

“We want to deter them from killing more Palestinians in cold blood and without reason so that they know that Palestinian blood is precious and sacred,” he told Arab News.

A videotape from another person stopped at the checkpoint showed that a verbal altercation occurred between Kahla and the soldiers before one of them shot Kahla, who posed no danger to them, at short range.

The incident is not the first of its kind, Palestinians say.

Israeli army investigations concluded that, over the last two months, soldiers have killed several Palestinians who posed no threat to their lives.

An Israeli officer killed Ammar Muflih on the main Hiwara Street, south of Nablus, on Dec. 2, at point-blank range.

An Israeli soldier also killed Palestinian girl Jana Zakarneh on Dec. 12 during an army incursion into Jenin.

In a separate incident, over 300 extremists stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday, chanting racist slogans and performing public prayers.

Source: Arab News

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Yemenis rally to condemn desecration of Holy Qur’an in Sweden

23 January 2023

Tens of thousands of people have poured onto the streets in Yemen to strongly condemn the burning of a copy of the Holy Qur’an, Islam’s most revered book, by a Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm.

Demonstrators took part in a mass rally in the northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada on Monday to express their outrage over the sacrilegious act and censure the silence and inaction of some Arab and Muslim countries in the face of the move.

They also chanted slogans such as “Qur’an has its own supporters,” “Oppressors will be disgraced,” “Burning Qur’an is an act of aggression,” “God’s enemies burned the Qur’an”, and “O Muslims, unite and do not be afraid of enemies’ deception.”

Sa’ada Provincial Governor, Mohammed Jaber Awad, decried the burning of the Qur’an in Sweden as he addressed the protesters. He said it came amid rising Islamophobia in Europe, amplified by politicians using anti-Muslim rhetoric.

He held Sweden fully responsible for the consequences of the sacrilegious and criminal act and urged Muslims and freedom-loving people of the world to take to the streets in total rejection of the desecration.

Awad also slammed the move as a brazen attack that falls within the framework of anti-Islamic actions in the West, demanding a thorough investigation into the incident.

Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the Stram Kurs (Hard Line) Party, under the protection of police and with permission from the government, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on Saturday.

The Turkish foreign ministry responded immediately in a statement.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book… Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable,” the ministry said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vented fury at Swedish authorities’ failure to ban the protest. “It’s a racist action, it’s not about freedom of expression,” he said.

Source: Press TV

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Nigerian Muslim Leaders Advocate Religion Balancing In Appointment into Public Offices

By Popoola Yaqoub

Jan 23, 2023

Muslim leaders in the South-West have advocated the institutionalization of equity and justice in the appointment of people into positions.

They equally enjoined government at all levels to observe due diligence in determining the true identities and religion persuasions of those being so appointed.

This was part of the resolutions at the just concluded Ekiti State Muslim Summit organized by the Ekiti State Chapter of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations (NACOMYO).

The Summit with the theme- “Ekiti Muslim Agenda beyond a Short Term Basis” attracted Muslim scholars within and from across the country.

The Guest Lecturer, Professor Abdul-Afeez Oladodun from the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, at the University of Ibadan who read out the demands urged Muslims to shun complacency.

The Muslim scholar said the demand was part of the Charter of Demands presented by the Muslims in Yorubaland.

Among the demands was the institutionalization of equity and justice in the appointment of people into positions by ensuring balancing in the two major religions in Nigeria.

The summit encouraged Muslims to take an active part in politics and showcase their God’s given talents and potential rather than engaging in seasonal lamentations.

Stakeholders at the Summit also charged Muslims to collect their Permanent Voter  Cards (PVC) and vote wisely in the forthcoming general election.

The Islamic faithful were also tasked to seize the opportunity of the public holiday declared on the 24th of January 2023 by the All progressives Congress APC controlled states in the South West to collect the permanent voter’s card PVC “for diligent observance of their civic responsibilities”.

It underscored the importance of Education, urging Muslims to give more priority to both Islamic and secular education so as  to be relevant in the scheme of things

Muslims are also urged to take advantage of interest-free Islamic Banking and collaborate with the government at all levels in the area of youth empowerment.

The Chairman of the occasion and former non-executive Director of First Bank PLC, Alhaji Lateef Bakare said Muslims have been facing persecution from time immemorial.

Bakare disclosed that it took the grace of God for him not to be forcefully converted to Christianity in his quest for western education.

He urged Muslims to always be ready to be good ambassadors of Islam by promoting excellence honesty and integrity.

In his address, NACOMYO Coordinator, Mudasiru Yusuf said Muslims are not endangered species in the scheme of things in the state.

The Muslim Youth Leader also decried the long years of marginalisation of the adherents of the Islamic faith, calling on progressive elements to rise for the cause of Islam in the state.

The State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, represented by his Special Adviser on investment, trade and industry, Mrs Adeola Omotayo appreciated Muslims’ support for his administration with the assurance and promise to work and deliver electioneering campaigns.

The  keynote speaker and erstwhile National  Amir of the Muslims Students Society of Nigeria (MSS), Barrister Nurudeen Asunogie said “for too long, Muslims  have felt and acted like a foundling at the doorway of an orphanage, desperately foraging for attention and care.”

” Today, indeed, is a most unique day as the Ekiti Muslims a condensed metaphor for the Muslims everywhere, art historic juncture. One that gives an intimation of the consigning of a lugubrious and lachrymose past into desuetude that speaks so eloquently of a readiness to exit the ocean of discomforting discombobulation, lamentations to the wharf of studious progressive engagement with reality There can be no better time than now for this introspection.

It is my belief that this submission, tagged Ekiti Muslims Agenda Beyond A Short Term Bass is an eloquent expression of the determination of the Exits Muslims to change the narrative and bring about a reversal of the elements that had precipitated but an untoward state of affairs.

” The narrative has been that we have been mortified, traduced, visited, pauperized, maligned and decimated over the ages in Ekiti state, for instance, the Muslims have been treated no better than cyphers Save for the period of Chief Segun On, when we had a Muslim as his Deputy, the Muslims have never occupied any position of high visibility in the state. With the judgement of the Court which voided the process that brought Mr On to power, the office of the Deputy Governor, which a Muslim occupied, was rendered invalid.

“It is certainly loony to think that we can lament and cry our way to social-political relevance. You can never absquatulate from your responsibilities, yet hope to get what comes from the discharge of the undone duties.

“When shall we begin to blaze? Is it not time that every one of us who is not a cripple, is not kidnapped by the edacious spirit. stands on its feet in defence of our right to dignity and dignified treatment from all and for all? am swamped with ululations of despondency, helplessness and powerlessness.

“In your winter of political irrelevance, we must not get warmth from the blanket of insouciance. We must feel choked by the toxic air of our complacency and doltish resignation, our spirits should be dynamized and impregnated with the irresistible determination to torpedo our unedifying patrimony of the culture of endorsement of subjugation.

“As Muslims, we are challenged to galvanize all progressive elements for the building of a sane society. We cannot afford to be supercilious and yet expect to be treated with dignity.

“As Muslims, we must see the cosmic relevance of participation in governance. We need to be involved in the definition of true leadership. For we know as of truth that leadership cannot be atomistic. It must be marked by an aptitude to synthesize, rather than disintegrate.

Source: Independent Nigeria

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns Sweden's decision to allow burning of a copy of the Holy Qur'an


Tripoli, 23 January, 2023 (Lana) - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Government of National Unity has condemned the government of Sweden for allowing the burning of a copy of the Holy Qur’an in front of Turkish embassy in the capital, Stockholm.

The ministry considered in a statement that this matter represents a blatant violation of religious sanctities and a provocation to the feelings of Muslims all over the world.

The Ministry also denounced these extremist acts and practices that fuel hatred and violence, threatening peaceful coexistence and undermine calls to spread the values of tolerance and coexistence.

Source: LANA

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Somalia strongly condemns Quran burning in Sweden

Mohammed Dhaysane  



Somalia’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the Swedish authorities for allowing an extremist to burn a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, in front of Türkiye's Embassy in Stockholm.

“Allowing this hateful act that insults Islamic sanctities and values is completely unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement issued early Monday.

Mogadishu said the burning of the Quran represents a blatant violation of religious sanctities and a provocation to the feelings of Muslims all over the world.

“It is nothing but a demagogic practice that promotes hatred and racism and serves the agendas of extremism and terrorism,” read the statement.

Somalia called on Sweden to take strong measures against the rising tide of hatred against Muslims and urges all actors in the international community to shoulder their responsibilities in curbing Islamophobia.

“Somalia affirms the position of the Federal Republic of Somalia calling for the importance of spreading the values of dialogue, tolerance and coexistence and rejecting hate speech and violence, and renews the importance of respecting religious symbols, and refraining from provoking hatred and fueling strife through abuse and distortion of religions, sanctities and Islamic rituals,” the statement said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jordanian advocate awarded Franco-German Prize for Human Rights

January 23, 2023

AMMAN: Jordanian advocate Hadeel Abdel Aziz was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law on Sunday, the Jordan News Agency reported.

The prize honors human rights defenders around the world who work every day, often under dangerous conditions, to protect and strengthen human rights.

The ministers of foreign affairs of Germany and France have awarded one of the prizes this year to Abdel Aziz, who, as executive director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid,  provides access to justice to Jordan’s most vulnerable citizens.

“We were particularly impressed by Ms. Abdel Aziz’ lifelong dedication to the rule of law and in particular her work to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls. With the work of the JCLA, she has, from within the Jordanian legal system, not only advocated for an institutionalized state-funded legal aid system, but has also been instrumental in growing the JCLA from a small organization to a sustainable national model of justice organization,” German Ambassador to Jordan Bernhard Kampmann said.

Source: Arab News

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