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Islamic World News ( 26 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Ram Navami Violence: 113-Year-Old Islamic Library, Containing Rare Manuscripts, Torched In Bihar Allegedly By Bajrang Dal

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 April 2023

 

The 113-year-old madrasa library that was torched.

Sourced by the Telegraph

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India

BSP Nominating 11 Muslims for Mayoral Polls in UP Seen as Move to Split SP Vote Bank

Acting Is The Only Profession Where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians Work Hand-In-Hand: Actor

Guddu Muslim 'With Beard' Frequently Changing Location. Now Around Bengal's Murshidabad

Karnataka Polls: Yogi Slams Congress Over 'Anti-Constitutional' Religion-Based Reservation

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Europe

British Muslims Are ‘Disenfranchised At Every Level’; Race And Class Divisions Run Deep In Britain

Germany: Syrian man arrested in suspected Islamist terror plot

Islamic finance presents $6tn opportunity

UK’s Forced Marriage Unit Underfunded And Too Muslim-Focused, Report To Say

Zakharova, Director, Information and Press Department Russian FM Says Americans ‘Deliberately’ Left Weapons in Afghanistan

Moscow Will not Recognize the Taliban Govt Unless It Ensures Human Rights: Lavrov

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North America

Taliban Kill Islamic State 'Mastermind' Of Kabul Airport Attack: White House

'A Chilling Effect': Muslim Charities Fall Prey To Canada’s Double Standards

Second Minneapolis mosque set afire in two days, public's help sought finding suspect

Islamic State Operative Behind Deadly Kabul Airport Attack Is Dead

Netherlands: Muslims file UN complaint against parliament, citing discrimination

Why an iconoclastic Jewish scholar thought Islam held a key to improving Judaism

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Southeast Asia

Registering Marriage Important For Indonesians Abroad: Legislator

Temples, puppets, opera a legacy of Fujian's past at tourist Mecca

Malaysians have left Port Sudan for Jeddah, says Wisma Putra

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Mideast

Iran, Saudi Arabia Resume TradeFollowing A China-Brokered Deal: Iranian Trade Minister

Amir sends condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

Israeli Arabs torn over judicial reforms protest movement

Israel complains about growing Chinese role in Middle East at Washington's expense

India, Iran and Armenia forms new trilateral to deepen regional relations

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Arab World

Muslim World League Slams Swedish Parliamentary Panel Chief’s Remarks Offensive To Islam And Prophet

World Bank Group President Thanks Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Helping Evacuate its Staff from Khartoum to Saudi Arabia

Shoura Council delegation starts official visit to Sweden

Costa Rica supports Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030

King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah receives the largest evacuation yet from Sudan

Why Saudi patents still matter for growth and innovation

Saudi railways carry more than 818,000 passengers during Ramadan

Saudi Arabia: Mecca buses transported 7.5 million in Ramadan

Sharjah Ramadan Festival 2023 sales exceed $81.6mln

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 12.7m amphetamine pills

UAE launches Domestic Dirhams Islamic Treasury Sukuk with size of AED1.1 billion

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South Asia

Taliban Consulted Gen Bajwa Before Asking India to Send Diplomats Back to Kabul: New BookTitled ‘The Return of the Taliban’

Afghan Refugees Told By UK Home Office They Will Have To Find Their Own Accommodation

Bangladesh unveils Indo-Pacific Strategy; expert says it is still trying to placate China

A decade after Rana Plaza, Bangladesh garment workers fight on

India-Bangladesh Border Forces Unite Siblings for Heartfelt Farewell

US Envoy Says “No Normalization of Relations with the Taliban”

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Pakistan

Massive Protest In Pakistan’s Gwadar On Eid Demanding Release Of Missing Persons

Emaan Islamic Banking and TPL Insurance join hands to launch Emaan All-in-One Account

COAS Asim Munir, Chinese army commander discuss security, military cooperation

Ship carrying 37 Pakistanis from Sudan port reaches Jeddah: FO

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Africa

You’re Free To Live, Do Your Business Anywhere, Peter Obi Assures Muslims

‘No governor has taken us to Mecca since Obi left office’ – Miyetti Allah chair

Why I close my nightclub during Ramadan— Shina Peller

Rite Foods urges refreshing moments for Muslims with its quality brands for Eid el-Fitri celebration

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/ram-navami-violence-islamic-library-manuscripts-bajrang/d/129645

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 Ram Navami violence: 113-year-old Islamic library, containing rare manuscripts, torched in Bihar allegedly by Bajrang Dal

 

The 113-year-old madrasa library that was torched.

Sourced by the Telegraph

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26.04.23

Employees were away, too, since it was a Friday. A few who were present hid themselves to escape the mob.

The BBC report said that according to local people, the rioters “were armed with sticks, stones and petrol bombs and allegedly shouted provocative slogans near the madrasa before attacking it”.

“Suddenly I could smell smoke,” the report quoted Abdul Gaffar, a cook at the madrasa, as saying. “When I opened the door, I saw there was a lot of chaos near the office. They (the mob) had moved towards the hostel as well. I got scared and hid under the bed.”

The police have accused Bajrang Dal members of the violence that brought the town, around 70km southeast of Patna, to a standstill for around nine days. Some 150 people, including the Bajrang Dal’s Nalanda district convener, Kundan Kumar, have been arrested.

In the 1930s, the German Student Union had carried out a campaign of burning books it considered subversive or ideologically opposed to Nazism. The books targeted included those written by Jewish authors — among them, Albert Einstein — as well as communists, socialists, anarchists, liberals, pacifists and others.

“When I first saw the (library) blaze, I felt like I had lost everything. We used to discuss how much knowledge the books contained, particularly the rare ones,” Shakir said.

Several madrasa employees, including Shakir, spent Ramazan and Id-ul-Fitr trying to clean the beautifully latticed building, its pillars and walls now covered in soot, and its electricity and water supply disrupted at a time the mercury has been soaring to 44 degrees Celsius.

“All the electrical wires, fittings and furniture too are burnt. The submersible motor that pumps up water is still there, but we can’t operate it without power. We are somehow managing to work (cleaning the building) in the scorching heat without electricity,” Shakir said.

But cleaning the building isn’t the same as restoring it.

“Our estimates suggest that restoration will cost around Rs 3 crore, not to speak of the invaluable books we have lost,” Shakir said.

He said he had petitioned Nalanda district magistrate ShashankShubankar, the sub-divisional officer, the circle officer and social welfare department officials seeking help to restore the building.

“I attached a copy of the FIR that we have registered and photographs of the fire with the petition. But nobody has offered or promised anything so far,” Shakir said on Monday.

“We are now thinking of submitting a memorandum to the chief minister and education minister for help.”

The Nalanda district magistrate did not respond to a call to his mobile.

Bihar State Madrasa Education Board chairman Abdus Salam Ansari told this newspaper on Tuesday that he and his officials were trying to help the madrasa and library get back on their feet again.

“We went to see the place. It has been destroyed. The principal there has sought some books from us. We will provide them with textbooks from Classes I to XII,” Ansari said.

“We shall take the matter up at our next board meeting and discuss possible ways to help the madrasa and library further. We are also in touch with the education and minority welfare departments because renovating the burnt building will require a lot of money, time and expertise.”

The Bihar State Minorities Commission’s public relations officer, Farooquzzaman, said the National Commission for Minorities had sought a report on the burning of the library.

“Their letter came to us last week. We have written to the Nalanda district magistrate and sought a report from him. We may visit the place, if necessary,” Farooquzzaman said.

Nalanda superintendent of police Ashok Mishra said: “We are recording the statements of victims and eyewitnesses, and taking further action. Arrests are still going on. We have arrested around 148 people (for the overall Biharsharif violence) while several have surrendered in court.”

A woman named Bibi Soghara had built Madrasa Azizia in memory of her late husband, Abdul Aziz, in 1896. The library came up a few years later.

The madrasa was first started in Patna but was later shifted to Biharsharif, which was the Pala dynasty’s seat of power over a millennium ago and became famous for its Sufi saints in subsequent centuries.

Source: telegraphindia.com

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

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/ram-navami-violence-113-year-old-library-torched-in-bihar/cid/1932443

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 Muslim Influencers Are Ditching Islamic Values To Go Viral On Social Media

 

Photo:  5 Pillars.com

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25th April 2023

Unfortunately, by kowtowing to predatory algorithms, much of the Da’wah on creative mediums has blurred the boundaries between inspirational and narcissistic content, bearing little resemblance with the Da’wah of our pious predecessors who recommended extreme vigilance against manipulative influences which could compromise their sincerity.

Suffice to say, they never craved the limelight when commanding good and forbidding evil and preferred obscurity to stardom.

Without doubt, conveying Islam and inviting mankind to the worship of Allah ranks among the noblest of deeds. All the Messengers were entrusted with this responsibility, which became a defining hallmark of Prophethood and example for those aspiring in their footsteps.

While the styles and means of Da’wah can vary depending on capability and resources, there is no dispute among the Ulema that anyone undertaking this mission must possess some distinguishing characteristics – notably wisdom, sincerity and humility.

In the digital age where Da’wah is nigh impossible without some level of tech engagement, harnessing the ubiquitous power of social media has become the primary means of Islamic outreach for many scholars, students of knowledge and influencers.

But despite the communicative power of platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok, it is important to recognise that the overwhelming presence of content sharing networks presents a unique set of challenges to contemporary Da’wah efforts, mainly in the form of algorithms and what can broadly be described as the “attention economy.”

Algorithms are mathematical rules which determine the behaviour of data.

In social media platforms, algorithms assist with ranking search results and advertisements and direct content and pages to display in a particular order.

Given its billions of users worldwide and with so much content being uploaded by the minute, navigating the social media space is fraught with complexity. Therefore, social networks use algorithms to sort content in a user’s feed.

Generally speaking, algorithms involve filtering out irrelevant content and prioritising material which users will likely engage with based on a number of factors, such as recency, popularity, quality and level of interaction. Furthermore, they are generally designed to nudge towards a corporation’s profits through personalised and targeted advertising all vying for our attention.

To stand out from all the noise, content creators are incentivised to use algorithms to their advantage in order to drive up subscriptions and increase the number of followers, likes and any other stimuli specific to the platform of choice.

Attention Economy

Regrettably, much of the Da’wah on social media today is bound by these algorithmic constraints and is victim to the attention economy, according to which attention is a scarce commodity which users must compete for.

It’s almost impossible to ignore a growing trend among Muslim social media influencers to use any means necessary to capture user attention, whether that be for traction, ad revenue or a plethora of other reasons.

From tasteless clickbait thumbnails to sensationalist buzzwords in upload descriptions, I’m not the only one to have noticed these unbecoming practices to increase search engine optimisation, monetise from content and expand one’s organic reach in the competitive social media environment.

Herein lies a key dilemma confronting many Muslim social media influencers and in particular, those involved in Da’wah.

While their intentions may be sincere, their Da’wah is hinged entirely on platforms which reward self-promotional tendencies and whose business model views consumers as data commodities, capitalising on what grabs our attention, often in the form of bite-sized meaningless content.

Therefore, it is tempting to convert our platforms into brand-building exercises and develop scripted online personas which are conducive to high user engagement. Sadly, in the quest to keep afloat in an attention economy, it is not uncommon to find Da’wah carriers resorting to sound bytes, intemperate language, provocative hashtags and grandstanding when engaging with interlocutors and co-religionists to generate interest and excitement.

Instead of adopting a more soft-hearted tone which is more conducive to winning the hearts and minds of audiences, material is carefully curated to increase views and keep users coming back based on algorithms that track subconscious behaviour and prioritise dopamine-saturated content where fiction outperforms reality, controversy is king and content creators exude the marketable combination of pazazz, notoriety and bluster to climb their way up the algorithm.

As a result of these attention-driven metrics, much of the da’wah in the social media space has devolved into a tabloidesque spectacle, where ad hominem attacks, point-scoring and controversies flood our feeds and group chats. This is primarily because algorithms do not incentivise the patience that is essential for nurturing long-term relationships, which can only be attained through reasoned discussions and civil exchanges where we take our egos out of the equation and genuinely seek the betterment of those whom we passionately disagree with.

The short-term credibility which one may acquire through likes, views and enhanced social capital does not always translate into a heartfelt connection with others which is really what we ought to be aspiring for through our social media presence.

This is in stark contrast to the Quranic injunction to debate with decorum and the exhortations of the salaf to practise anonymous virtue, modesty and humility, which are essential psycho-spiritual ingredients for any da’ee.

Beating the algorithm

There is no dearth of psychological studies citing the correlation between compulsory social media usage and peer pressure, shortened attention spans, narcissism as well as a slew of mental health problems ranging from depression to social isolation.

Algorithms undoubtedly contribute towards this phenomenon, often promoting harmful and explicit content and material which screams of self-promotion, fuelling the feel-good chemical in the brain for both content creators and their audiences.

As empowering as these platforms may be for pursuits like da’wah, their evident harms should encourage the prominent du’aat using these networks to think outside of the social media ecosystem by redefining their relationship with the medium and refusing to be held hostage to the algorithm.

This does not imply abstaining from social media platforms. Rather, it entails a more judicious approach to usage which not only mitigates risk but optimises spiritual well-being as opposed to immediate gratification.

If we are sucked into an endless vortex of feedback loops and preoccupied by an unhealthy obsession with the self, we risk being lulled into a false sense of activism which stimulates the brain’s reward system without delivering any desired change that resonates with Islam’s naysayers. What can be more deceiving than thinking one is on the right side of history without making a real-world impact?

In a world where dangerously skewed recommendation algorithms are targeting children, exposing them to harmful subcultures and threatening to rewire users on a neurochemical level, Muslim social media influencers have a greater moral responsibility to buck the trend by fostering compassion and humility through their outreach, even at the expense of algorithmic approval.

If the ultimate end is to tactically leverage social media to earn the pleasure of Allah, then the means that are employed to achieve this must also be keeping with the Quranic and Prophetic guidelines. Simply, the ends do not justify the means, however virtuous one’s mission may be.

Regardless of the algorithmic bias, da’wah carriers must be cautious not to rely on shock value, hot takes and the artifice of display to propagate their message. Instead, they must build walls around anything that can lead to performative virtue-signalling and must pledge to collectively fight the economics of social media.

Too often, our da’wah on social media immunises us to the inhibitions which we experience in everyday interactions, a phenomena known as the online disinhibition effect. However, we must build our character to a point where the etiquette and protocols which another’s physical presence would naturally impose on us is also present in our online interactions.

To add value to the lives of others, one must beat the algorithm.

Source: 5pillarsuk.com

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

https://5pillarsuk.com/2023/04/25/muslim-influencers-are-ditching-islamic-values-to-go-viral-on-social-media/

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 The Big History Of Albania’s Tiny Quran, Two Centimetres (0.7 Inches) Wide And One Centimetre Thick

 

Photo: Kuwait Times

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April 25, 2023

The ritual is always the same. Mario Prushi carefully washes his hands and face before kissing and pressing one of the world’s smallest Qurans to his forehead.

For generations, the postage stamp-sized book has been passed down in his family — surviving wars and one of the world’s most fanatical “godless regimes”.

Scholars say it is one of the smallest Qurans on record, with the minuscule holy book held inside a silver case blackened with age.

“We have kept it from generation to generation with absolute dedication,” Prushi, 45, told AFP at his home in Tirana.

Just two centimetres (0.7 inches) wide and one centimetre thick, the book almost disappears in the palm of Prushi’s hand, and it can only be read with a small magnifying glass embedded in its case.

The Quran is difficult to date in the absence of scientific analysis, but according to Elton Karaj — a researcher in Quranic studies at Beder University in Tirana — the 900-page copy has been around since at least the 19th century.

“This Quran was printed in a very small format, one of the smallest in the world. From its appearance, its publication dates back to the end of the 19th century. It is an extraordinary work, very valuable. It is fortunate that this copy is in Albania,” said Karaj.

– Miraculously preserved –

But its size is not the only remarkable thing about the Quran. It is also responsible for converting the Prushi family from Catholicism to Islam.

“My great-great-grandparents were digging the ground for a new house in the Djakovica region of Kosovo when they found the perfectly preserved body of a man buried there,” said Prushi.

“The Quran was found intact laying over his heart.”

The family took the discovery as a divine sign and embraced Islam.

His grandfather, an officer in the army of Albania’s King Zog in the 1930s, knew Arabic and would invite friends to his home every night to read verses from it.

Years later, under the communist dictatorship of EnverHoxha — who completely banned all forms of religion and sent all practicing believers to prison — the book survived in part because it could be so easily hidden.  

“Someone had notified the secret police that we had a Quran in our house, but it was so small that my father managed to hide it. The agents moved heaven and earth without finding it,” said Prushi.

– ‘Blessings’ –

Following the incident, Prushi’s father Skender decided to entrust it to friends in neighbouring Kosovo after smuggling it across the border hidden in a lorry full of coal.

He only recovered it only after the war in Kosovo in 1999, where it was buried during to save it from the fighting.

Prushi then inherited the Quran shortly before his father’s death in 2012.

“This little book carries so many stories, blessings and miracles. It is very dear to me,” said Prushi.

“Every time I touch it, I am moved,” his wife Blerina told AFP. 

“When something goes wrong or when our daughter is sick, we feel reassured, we know that the Quran will protect us, it is a real talisman,” she added.

The family has received numerous offers to buy it, including from museums.

“I never think of selling it,” said Prushi. “This Quran belongs to our family and it will always stay with us.”

Source: digitaljournal.com

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

https://www.digitaljournal.com/world/the-big-history-of-albanias-tiny-Quran/article

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Islamophobes In Daegu, South Korea, Bring In Mini Pigs To Protest Nearly Completed Mosque

 

An industrial refrigerator with three pig heads in it and a mask of a pig head sit outside the construction site for a mosque in Daegu’s Daehyeon neighborhood on April 25. (Kim Gyu-hyeon/The Hankyoreh)

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Apr.26,2023

Two live miniature pigs have popped up in front of a construction site where a mosque is being built near the western entrance to Kyungpook National University, in Daegu.

“People living near the mosque have decided to raise two pigs. We’re raising pigs the way other people keep dogs or cats at home,” said a committee of residents of the Daehyeonneighbourhood of Daegu on Tuesday. The committee was formed to oppose the construction of the mosque.

In Islam, pigs are considered unclean.

The residents’ committee bought two miniature pigs for 300,000 won each. Just a few months old, the piglets have been named “Daehan” and “Minguk” — together, the names mean “Republic of Korea.”

A 53-year-old resident of the Daehyeonneighbourhood surnamed Kim has agreed to look after the pigs.

“We named them that because we’re trying to protect our country,” Kim told the Hankyoreh Monday.

“Mini pigs have to be taken for a walk every day, just like a puppy. I’ll be walking them through the alley in front of the mosque every day and will also take them to our rallies.”

That includes a rally scheduled to be held in front of the Buk District Office this Friday.

Residents who oppose the mosque’s construction have been ramping up their protests as the completion date nears.

“The mosque’s construction appears to be a foregone conclusion now,” residents’ committee co-chair Seo Jae-won told the Hankyoreh in an interview.

“Once the mosque is completed, we’ll have no choice but to increase the level of our opposition. We will do whatever residents have the power to do within the scope of the law,” he added.

Around noon on Monday, GwonYo-han, who chairs the steering committee for the Ethical Human Rights Forum, held a one-person protest in front of the construction site with a sign reading, “The construction of an Islamic mosque in the Daehyeon residential area is not simply a matter of religion but a violation of sovereignty.”

During his protest, he stopped Muslim students and motioned for them to look at his sign as they were leaving after praying at a temporary prayer area in front of the construction site.

Ahead of the placement of concrete for the mosque, opposed residents brought an industrial refrigerator with three pig heads inside onto the site on April 17. They have also shown off masks in the shape of pig heads.

With the weather growing warmer and the pig heads’ decomposition causing severe odor issues, the residents have now resorted to other means.

Two residents who placed pig heads in front of the construction site were indicted on charges of obstruction of operations and received a summary order to pay 50,000 won (US$37) in fines.

The mosque’s construction has currently entered its final stages, with a completion date reportedly to come as early as the first half of this year.

By Kim Gyu-hyun, staff reporter

Source: english.hani.co.kr

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

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/1089508.html

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 Israel Silences Call To Evening Prayer From Al-Aqsa Mosque for Jews Celebrations at Buraq Square

 

Muslims mark the Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem) as they gather to perform the 4th Friday Prayer of holy Islamic month of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on April 14, 2023 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

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April 25, 2023

Israeli authorities yesterday prevented the call to the evening prayer from being raised at Al-Aqsa Mosque by cutting off the cables of the mosque's loudspeakers under the pretext that Jews were celebrating in the neighbouring Buraq Square (Western Wall).

This came as a number of Jerusalemite figures and entities had called on Palestinians to perform the Maghrib and Ishaa prayers at Al-Aqsa's Bab Al-Rahma Prayer Hall in an effort to protect it from attacks and violations by occupation forces and settlers.

For the second time in two days, Israeli occupation police stormed the Bab Al-Rahma Prayer Hall yesterday morning and ripped out its new electrical wirings. It also prevented Muslim worshippers from entering it.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230425-israel-silences-call-to-prayer-from-al-aqsa-mosque/

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India

BSP Nominating 11 Muslims for Mayoral Polls in UP Seen as Move to Split SP Vote Bank

Kavya Mishra

APRIL 25, 2023

The Bahujan Samaj Party giving 11 out of 17 nominations to Muslim candidates for the election to mayoral posts in Uttar Pradesh is seen as a move to split the Samajwadi Party’s traditional Muslim-Yadav vote bank and also gives a glimpse into the Mayawati-led outfit’s plans for next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

While the Congress and the Samajwadi Party have termed it a “vote-cutting" strategy, a BSP leader said his party has tried to project itself as the true well-wisher of Muslims.

Polling for the urban bodies is slated in two phases — on May 4 and May 11.

The BSP has fielded Muslim candidates for mayoral posts in the municipal corporations of Lucknow, Mathura, Firozabad, Saharanpur, Prayagraj, Moradabad, Meerut, Shahjahanpur, Ghaziabad, Aligarh and Bareilly.

On the other hand, the SP and Congress have fielded only four Muslim candidates each. The BJP did not field any Muslim candidate for the mayor’s seat.

“Every voter knows why the BSP gave so many tickets to Muslims. She (Mayawati) cannot win herself, so she has done this at the behest of someone else," the Samajwadi Party’s chief spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhary told PTI.

“The BSP is the BJP’s B-team and this is their strategy to cut votes. But now everyone is aware of all their tricks," he claimed.

On the SP giving nominations to fewer Muslim candidates than BSP, Chowdhary said his party that takes everyone along and works accordingly.

Congress leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui, who was a minister in the Mayawati government, said, “No one knows Behenji (Mayawati) and BSP more than me. Whenever this kind of game was played, the party was wiped out." “Uttar Pradesh has a 20 per cent Muslim population and we (Congress) have fielded four Muslim candidates out of 17, which is more than 23 per cent," said Siddiqui who was once considered a confidant of Mayawati.

In 2017, out of 16 mayoral seats, the BJP won 14 and the BSP two.

“This time, the BSP has fielded 11 Muslims, trying to wean away the minorities by sending out a message of being the true well-wisher of the Muslims," a senior BSP leader said.

The BSP won only one seat in the 403-member strong Uttar Pradesh assembly and got only 12 per cent of votes in the 2022 state polls. Therefore, the BSP chief has started a campaign to influence Muslims, a Samajwadi Party leader said.

While staying mum on other important issues in the last few months, Mayawati has been most vocal in criticising the Samajwadi Party and raising matters concerning Muslims, he said.

Mayawati had targeted the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over the law-and-order situation after gangster-politician Atiq Ahmad and his brother Ashraf were shot dead at point-blank range by three men posing as journalists in the middle of a media interaction on Saturday night while police personnel were escorting them to a medical college in Prayagraj for a checkup on April 15.

Atiq Ahmed’s wife Shaista Parveen is still in the BSP even though she is wanted by the police, the Samajwadi party leader said.

The BSP’s lone MLA Uma Shankar Singh had on Sunday said that Shaista Parveen is still in the party. “If she is convicted, she will be expelled from the party," Singh had said.

Source: news18.com

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

https://www.news18.com/india/bsp-nominating-11-muslims-for-mayoral-polls-in-up-seen-as-move-to-split-sp-vote-bank-7636405.html

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Acting Is The Only Profession Where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians Work Hand-In-Hand: Actor

Garima Das

25 APR 2023

Vikramaditya Motwane’s web-series, ‘Jubilee’ is hands down a 'masterpiece'. With it, Motwane teleported us to the film industry of the 1940s and ’50s. From technical aspects, costumes to music and dialogues, everything is just brilliant. But the icing on the cake is the 'stellar star cast'. Who would have imagined AparshaktiKhurana playing an intense and grey character? But he pulled it off with grace and subtleness. From Binod Das to the superstar Madan Kumar, we must acknowledge that not only in reel life but also in real life 'a star is born'. 

Post the release of 'Jubilee', Garima Das of Outlook spoke to Aparshakti where he said that acting is the only profession where he has seen Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians working together hand-in-hand. He feels that it is the victory of the film fraternity.

Aparshakti has largely done comedies and then with 'Dhokha: Round The Corner', he explored uncharted territory and now 'Jubilee'. When we asked him if he chose serious roles to break the stereotype of being an actor doing only comedy, he said, "It doesn't run emotionally in my mind that I should do this or that to prove people or change my image. It's nothing like that. It's just about picking the right scripts, meeting the right people, working with the right people and delivering what they want.

All the dialogues from 'Jubilee' have become popular. One such is When BinodDas’ character says, "Khan Log Actor Nahin BanteIsiliyeUnheKumar Banna Pada".  Apar was asked if there was any improvisation in dialogues, and he said they were delivered as they were written. In reference to the dialogue, he added there have been changes today in the industry and it is a great victory. The 'Dangal' actor further said, "The biggest superstars of our country are three Khans-Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. Earlier, when it was like Khan cannot become the hero in our country after that cut to the phase where the three biggest superstars of our country are Khans. So, I think as a country it is our victory."

Adding more to it, Khurana said that before becoming an actor, he was trying to be a sportsperson, then he studied law and worked at Delhi High Court. He changed 5-6 professions before entering into acting. But from his journey and experience, he can say that the victory of the film fraternity is that it is the only profession where he has seen Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian work hand-in-hand. "I haven't seen this kind of synergy in other professions and I am proud of the fact that I work in such industry where there is this kind of stance of people," added Aparshakti.

Source: outlookindia.com

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https://www.outlookindia.com/art-entertainment/aparshakti-khurana-acting-is-the-only-profession-where-hindus-muslims-sikhs-christians-work-hand-in-hand-news-281181

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Guddu Muslim 'With Beard' Frequently Changing Location. Now Around Bengal's Murshidabad

SumedhaKirti

APRIL 25, 2023

Guddu Muslim, slain gangster Atiq Ahmed’s close aide and Umesh Pal murder case accused, is either hiding in West Bengal’s Murshidabad or some nearby place, sources told News18 citing “solid information" received by investigating agencies.

Based on the information, the investigation agencies have been conducting raids in several places in West Bengal in the last three days. Earlier, Guddu Muslim aka ‘Bambaaz’ Guddu’s location was traced to Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

In Odisha, his last location was traced to Bargarh where police had quizzed a man. According to a report in India Today, the man was identified as Raja Khan, an aide of Guddu Muslim. The report, quoting Raja, stated that Guddu has grown a beard to avoid detection and being apprehended by the police.

His location was also traced to places like Meerut and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan’s Ajmer, Nashik and Pune in Maharashtra, and had even travelled to Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.

Guddu Muslim is among the 10 people named in the murder of Umesh Pal. While Atiq Ahmed, his son Asad and four other accused have been killed, Guddu Muslim is on the run.

Atiq Ahmed and the gangsters of Uttar Pradesh have become a hot topic in the upcoming municipal elections. More than developmental works, the ongoing campaigning by various political parties have been focused on mafias and the methods of the Yogi Adityanath government to wipe them out.

As the Samajwadi Party (SP) blamed the state government for unleashing a reign of terror and lawlessness, the BJP came out with a campaign song that said, “Gundepukartehai Akhilesh aaiye’/dangonmeinphirse UP kowapasjalaiye".

The song with a parody track makes references to gangster-turned politicians Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed, who was recently shot dead by three men in Prayagraj.

Montages of SP president Akhilesh Yadav play out during the course of the video and shows him meeting Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmad. The lyrics further point out, “Apradhiyonkonetabanayatumhi ne tha/Atiq aur Mukhtar kauddhartumhi se tha".

The BJP also accused the SP of looting Uttar Pradesh and shattering the dream of socialist leader JaiprakashNarain. A montage of visuals also show Akhilesh Yadav holding taps (a reference to allegations of theft of water taps), Muzaffarnagar riots, women being harassed on the streets, violence and SP chief meeting Atiq Ahmed, Mukhtar Ansari and Gayatri Prajapati.

Source: news18.com

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https://www.news18.com/india/guddu-muslim-with-beard-frequently-changing-location-now-around-bengal-murshidabad-7634059.html

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Karnataka polls: Yogi slams Congress over 'anti-constitutional' religion-based reservation

26.04.23

In his first election rally in poll-bound Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday attacked the Congress over religion-based reservation saying that it was against the Constitution.

He also claimed that no riots took place in Uttar Pradesh in the past six years due to the strong ''double engine government".

"Congress appeases the Popular Front of India (PFI) and gives religion-based reservation, which is against the Indian Constitution," Adityanath said during an election rally here in the Vokkaliga heartland, the stronghold of JD(S) headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.

He was referring to the four per cent reservation for Muslims under 2B category of the Other Backward Classes, which the BJP government in Karnataka scrapped at the fag end of its tenure saying that religion-based quota has no constitutional backing.

After making 2B redundant, the Karnataka government split the four per cent reservation into two equal parts and increased the two per cent quota each for the two dominant communities of the state, Vokkaligas in 2C and Lingayats in 2D category.

"India was divided on religious lines in 1947. The country cannot endorse religion-based reservation and we are not ready for another partition," Adityanath said.

The party leader added that the BJP governments at the Centre and Karnataka banned the PFI and had broken the back of the Islamist organisation.

Hailing the development and progress of Uttar Pradesh, he said the 'double engine' government – one at the Centre and another in his home state – has shown its might in the strongest possible manner.

"In Uttar Pradesh, security and prosperity is guaranteed. 'No curfew, no danga, wahan par hai sab changa' (There is no curfew and no riots. All is well there). In the past six years, no riots took place in Uttar Pradesh," he said.

The concept of 'Ek Bharat, Sreshtha Bharat' (One India, Great India) that the BJP believes in, can alone take India forward, he said, adding: "We don't believe in appeasement; but in empowerment".

Karnataka goes to the polls on May 10 and results will be declared on May 13.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Source: telegraphindia.com

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https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/karnataka-polls-yogi-adityanath-slams-congress-over-anti-constitutional-religion-based-reservation/cid/1932525

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Europe

 

British Muslims Are ‘Disenfranchised At Every Level’; Race And Class Divisions Run Deep In Britain

26 Apr 2023

 Life in today’s Britain feels like a work of crass dystopian fiction: from everyday items like butter and cheese becoming luxuries to baby formula and washing detergent under lock and key on supermarket shelves.

With levels of homelessness surging, unemployment figures edging higher and food prices soaring at crippling rates, things only look set to get worse. But as with so much else in our divided nation, not everyone is equal in the cost of living crisis.

Half of all British Muslims live in poverty compared to only 18 per cent of the general population. Research by the Muslim Census suggests 65 per cent of Muslims in Britain have taken on debt in order to cover household bills in the last year. But why are things so disproportionately crippling for Muslim communities up and down the country?

Race and class divisions run deep in Britain. If you are a person of colour or if you live in an urban area then you are likely to experience the cost of living crisis more acutely than wealthier (and whiter) counterparts. And you are less likely to be sheltered by high wages, home ownership or significant savings than other groups.

People also have to grapple with issues like poor health, insecure employment, precarious housing, or an uncertain immigration status. This only exacerbates the already brutal impact of poverty for communities.

Source: bigissue.com

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https://www.bigissue.com/opinion/british-muslims-are-disenfranchised-at-everylevel/

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Germany: Syrian man arrested in suspected Islamist terror plot

Apr 26, 2023

German authorities have arrested a Syrian man on suspicion of planning to carry out an explosives attack motivated by Islamic extremism, officials said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Federal police said officers arrested the 28-year-old man early Tuesday in the northern city of Hamburg based on a court-issued warrant for suspected terrorism financing offenses.

Investigators say the man is suspected of trying to obtain substances online that would have allowed him to manufacturer an explosive belt “in order to carry out an attack against civilian targets.”

Police said the man was encouraged and supported in his action by his 24-year-old brother, who lives in the southern town of Kempten. German news agency dpa reported that the younger man was also detained.

The brothers, whose names were not immediately released, were described by federal police as being motivated by “radical Islamist and jihadist” views.

Police searched properties in Hamburg and Kempten, seizing large amounts of evidence including chemical substances, officials said, according to AP. Some 250 officers were involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, authorities in western Germany said Tuesday that they are investigating a possible extremist motive in an attack at a gym in Duisburg last week.

A 26-year-old Syrian was arrested days after the attack, in which four men were seriously wounded and one of them remains in life-threatening condition.

Germany has been hit by several terrorist attacks in recent years. The worst such attack took place in December of 2016, when Tunisian terrorist AnisAmri killed 12 people and injured dozens more when he drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin.

In 2019, a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. When he failed to enter the synagogue, he murdered two passersby.

In an attack in 2021, a knife-wielding attacker killed one tourist and seriously injured another in the city of Dresden.

In January, a knife-wielding man described as a “stateless Palestinian” fatally stabbed two people and injured seven others on a train traveling from Kiel to Hamburg before he was arrested.

Source: israelnationalnews.com

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https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/370529

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Islamic finance presents $6tn opportunity

13 JANUARY 2023

BY SARAH RIZVI

The global Islamic finance industry is expected to grow to $5.9tn by 2026 up from $4tn in 2021, according to an Islamic Finance Development (IFDI) 2021 report. By IFDI projections, this growth will be driven by the sector’s biggest segments – Islamic banks and sukuks.

This sector has continued its growth momentum despite the challenges of a recovering economy, which has been affected in large part by energy prices, disruption in supply chain and rising inflation.

In fact, Islamic financing has expanded at a much faster rate in the past few years compared with conventional loan growth. Moody’s Investors Service states that the two segments grew at an average compound rate of 10.5 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively during the 2020-21 period.

The outlook for the Islamic financial system is optimistic as experts now regard it as one of the fastest growing segments of the global financial system, with a predicted average growth rate of 8 per cent until 2025.

New developments

Although the market is still at a maturingstage, considerable growth opportunities are emerging, particularly with the increased focus on aligning Islamic financial products with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and the recent strides in digitalisation.

“Green and sustainability sukuk are providing the additional impetus to the overall demand for the Islamic papers by the global investors as they are aligned with sustainability themes. The implementation of energy transition strategies and investments in clean energy are also boosting the opportunities for sustainable sukuk.

The Islamic banking sector holds the lion’s share of the market, constituting 70 per cent of Islamic finance assets, as per Refinitiv Islamic finance data. Sukuk is the second-largest contributor to Islamic finance assets with over $74.5bn of issuances in the first half of 2022 according to S&P Global Ratings.

“Islamic finance has played a vital role in the UAE’s national development with Islamic banking and finance assets estimated to be about 25 per cent of the total domestic banking assets, which stood at AED1.6tn in August 2022,” said Sohail Zubairi, AAOIFI certified sharia advisor and auditor and IICRA accredited Islamic finance arbitration expert, speaking during the MEED-Mashreq Islamic Business Leaders Forum on 7 December 2022.

“We need a Sukuk insurer entity in the UAE on the lines of Danajamin in Malaysia that can help wean the private entities away from the banking sector and into the domestic capital market. This move will help reduce the burden on the UAE banks that can then spare greater funding at lower costs for the projects of national development,” said Zubairi.

To capitalise on the rising demand and to keep pace with the developments in this segment, the industry must produce an emerging pool of talent that can integrate the knowledge of sharia and Islamic products with the technological advances in the industry.

However, existing training and qualifications may not provide the required levels of specialisation and sophistication.

“In many countries, especially ones with low awareness, Islamic finance practitioners are often inadequately equipped,” said Bashar al-Natoor, global head of Islamic finance at Fitch Ratings. “There is a gap in understanding sharia products and the industry is looking to employ specialists.

“Stakeholders, including customers, regulators and employees of Islamic financial institutions often view Islamic products to be similar to conventional interest-based products. This perception stems from the way Islamic products are marketed and priced.”

A major contributor to this sector’s continued growth will be making sharia-compliant products easily accessible and standardising compliance processes.

Furthermore, as digital banks and new payment methods such as ‘buy now, pay later’ emerge in the Islamic finance system, it is important that Islamic banks not only simplify and centralise their operating models but also work with the innovators and developers to deliver banking solutions without compromising sharia principles.

Citing collaboration as another key driver for the growth of Islamic finance, senior corporate and structured finance and banking leader and Islamic finance specialist Jawaad Chawla said, “From a very humble beginning, not more than 2 decades ago, Islamic finance has grown into a multi-trillion-dollar industry. And we got here through the collaborative efforts of bankers, lawyers, scholars, regulators and industry experts, who have all come together to bring innovation into Islamic finance and offer it to a wider audience.”

Globalisation trend

Islamic finance is no longer exclusive to Islamic or Muslim-majority countries. Recent global developments such as the UK government’s second issuance of sukuk in 2021 and the launch of Australia’s first full-fledged Islamic bank in July 2022 are a testament to its increasing appeal.

Zubairi explained that more and more countries are now keen to adopt Islamic finance options as governments move to diversify funding options and interest in sustainable and responsible investing peaks.

“We are seeing countries such as Hong Kong and South Africa adopting Islamic finance and a rise in investments from countries that do not necessarily have a Muslim dominated population,”he said. He further opined that the growth in Islamic finance assets is reaching saturation point in the Islamic world and that next generation push can only come from non-OIC countries provided “we are able to develop a global Islamic finance law which provides legal protection to the parties entering into an Islamic finance contract and also serves as a global benchmark for dispute resolution”.

This globalisation trend is expected to continue with the application of ESG principles and digitalisation and a higher degree of standardisation within the Islamic finance sector.

Source: meed.com

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https://www.meed.com/islamic-finance-presents-6tn-opportunity

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UK’s forced marriage unit underfunded and too Muslim-focused, report to say

Wed 26 Apr 2023

UK ministers’ efforts to stop forced marriages are failing because the unit set up to tackle them is undervalued, under-resourced and overly focused on Muslim families, according to a report from Michael Gove’s levelling up department.

The 165-page report by Colin Bloom, the government’s faith adviser, will highlight a range of areas in which ministers are ineffective because they are too wary of tackling problems that arise within religious communities. It is expected to be the most sweeping review of the government’s relationship with religion in more than a generation

Bloom said these included forced marriage – including instances where gay people are forced to marry as a type of conversion practice – substandard religious schools and religious nationalism.

Bloom said: “We need root-and-branch reform of how forced and coercive marriage is tackled by the government, because that mainly happens within the context of faith-based communities. At the moment this remains in the ‘too difficult to do’ box.”

He added: “The forced marriage unit is not working well. It is under-resourced and poorly led, which is the fault of politicians rather than the civil servants who work for it. Also, the unit has an Islamic bent to it, but this is not just a Muslim problem – this happens in Orthodox Jewish and other religious communities too.”

The report was commissioned by Boris Johnson in 2019 and has been delayed several times, first by Covid-19 and then by the multiple changes at the top of government last year.

In the four years since it was commissioned, Bloom has received 21,000 responses, making it one of the biggest government evidence-gathering efforts ever undertaken.

Bloom’s 65,000-word report will deal with almost every aspect of government policy where it affects religious groups, praise the work faith groups do and urge ministers to engage with them more.

But it will also risk angering some faith groups with its insistence that ministers should be bolder in tackling abusive and dangerous behaviour by some within them.

Forced and coercive marriage is one of the clearest examples of that, the report will say. Bloom will single out the forced marriage unit for criticism, saying it needs more money, needs to be responsible to just one department rather than two (the Home Office and the Foreign Office), and should broaden its focus from concentrating mainly on Muslim families.

Bloom also warns that Christian iconography is being used to bolster far-right white extremists. In one passage of the report, which has been seen by the Guardian, he said: “Christian religious imagery and language can sometimes be attributed to an imagined past, which is de facto white, where the UK was successful and thriving.

“A belief that the UK is a ‘Christian country, and we need to keep it like that’ can be used to entrench an ethno-nationalist agenda and gain public legitimacy for aggression towards others, regarded as a threat to preserving what is perceived to be the national identity.”

He will also highlight how some gay people are being forced into marriage as a type of conversion practice, as happened in a case in 2013 when a British Sikh gay man murdered his wife six months after they were married.

He will highlight the long-running issue of unregistered and in some cases substandard faith schools, which are allowed to teach children without being inspected by Ofsted thanks to loopholes in the law governing what constitutes a school.

Ministers’ attempts to clamp down on these schools have previously been thwarted by Church of England leaders who have warned that any new rules could prevent children from attending Sunday schools. But Bloom said: “It is not that hard to make clear that a new law would not target Sunday schools. If something looks like a school, quacks like a school, waddles like a school, it is a school.”

Other parts of the report will touch on religious fundamentalist or nationalist groups, such as Sikh groups that campaign for an independent Sikh state within India. But it will not repeat some of the language of other recent reports on Islamic extremism, which has long been one of Gove’s major policy focuses.

Bloom has a specific warning about Sikh nationalist groups operating in the UK, which have links to previous groups that have been banned by the British government.

While he said it is difficult to prove the overlapping links between the banned groups and the new ones, he urges members of the all party parliamentary group for British Sikhs, chaired by the Labour frontbencher Preet Gill, to “consider the findings of this report”.

While Gove has regularly warned against the risk posed by Islamist extremists, Bloom will advise ministers to be clear that only a tiny minority of Muslims constitute any kind of threat to Britain.

“The government needs to make the distinction between Islamist extremism and Islam,” he said. “The vast majority of victims of Islamist extremism are Muslims themselves.”

Source: theguardian.com

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https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/apr/26/uk-forced-marriage-unit-under-funded-and-too-muslim-focused-bloom-report

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Zakharova, Director, Information and Press Department Russian FM Says Americans ‘Deliberately’ Left Weapons in Afghanistan

By BanafshaBinesh

26-04-23

Speaking at the press conference, Zakharova said that “we will not be surprised if these weapons soon surface in disputed areas of the region and other places.”

“We keep saying that the failed 20-year-long military campaign by the US and NATO in Afghanistan is still adversely affecting both Afghanistan and the entire region around it. It seems like the Americans deliberately left these weapons there, and now they are destabilising the situation because terrorists may get hold of them. We will not be surprised if these weapons soon surface in disputed areas of the region and other places,” she said.

However, the Islamic Emirate's spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, disputes the sale or smuggling of military equipment in Afghanistan and said that the current government will take care of this equipment responsibly.

"The concerns expressed are untrue. We reassure them that every weapon the Americans left behind has been stored safely at a depot and won't fall into the hands of anyone. All of them under control,” Mujahid noted.

"The remarks made by Russian officials are media propaganda and not entirely reliable. Before the pull-out, America made all its major weapons, such as aircraft and heavy weapons, unusable,” said Tariq Farhadi, a political analyst.

In the meantime, former US president Donald Trump, in an interview with Fox News, said that 700,000 advanced pieces of military equipment has been left in Afghanistan.

“They are the second largest arm dealers in the world right now. We give it to them--brand new trucks, brand new planes, brand new guns, rifles. 700,000 rifles and guns, think of that: 700,000. They only need 40,000, probably not even that, so they are selling the rest, making a fortune, we left it there,” Trump said.

The Ministry of Defence of the Islamic Emirate also said it prevented the smuggling of thousands of weapons.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183105

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Moscow Will not Recognize the Taliban Govt Unless It Ensures Human Rights: Lavrov

April 26, 2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday  at a news conference in the US within the framework of Russia’s presidency in the UN security council that Moscow “will not recognize the Taliban government de-jure unless it fulfils its internationally recognized obligations,” namely “, inclusivity of governing bodies, not just in the ethnic sense, but also in the political one.”

Meanwhile, he said, “We assume that the Taliban is a reality. Talks with them on the ground are necessary.”

He said, “Basic human rights are also mentioned among other criteria for international recognition, including the rights of girls and women.”

Meanwhile, he criticized the West by saying, “We certainly believe that the West should not dodge discussions because it stayed in Afghanistan for 20 years and did nothing to boost its economy in any way,” the minister continued.

Lavrov’s remarks came ahead of the UN meeting for Afghanistan affairs in Doha on May 1 and 2, put forward by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Source: khaama.com

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North America

 

Taliban Kill Islamic State'Mastermind' Of Kabul Airport Attack: White House

Apr 26, 2023

The Taliban government has killed the alleged mastermind of a devastating suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport during the chaotic withdrawal of US forces in 2021, the White House said Tuesday.

The bomber detonated among packed crowds at the airport's perimeter as they tried to flee Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. The blast killed some 170 Afghans and 13 US troops who were securing the airport for the traumatic exit.

It was one of the deadliest bombings in Afghanistan in recent years, and prompted a wave of criticism of President Joe Biden for his decision to pull American forces out of the country nearly 20 years after the US invasion.

The leader of the Islamic State cell that planned the attack was killed by Taliban authorities, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

"He was a key ISIS-K official directly involved in plotting operations like Abbey Gate, and now is no longer able to plot or conduct attacks," Kirby said, referring to the spot outside the airport where the attacks took place.

ISIS-K refers to Islamic State Khorasan, the branch of the group operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"He was killed in a Taliban operation," Kirby added without giving any details of it.

The pullout, ending on August 30, 2021, saw Taliban fighters sweep aside Western-trained Afghan forces in just weeks, forcing the last US troops to mount the desperate evacuation from Kabul's airport.

An unprecedented military airlift operation managed to get more than 120,000 people out of the country in a matter of days.

Biden has long defended his decision to leave Afghanistan, which critics have said helped cause the catastrophic collapse of Afghan forces and paved the way for the Taliban to return to power two decades after their first government was toppled.

Nothing "would have changed the trajectory" of the exit and "ultimately, President Biden refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended for the United States long ago," the White House National Security Council said in a report to Congress earlier this month.

A recent Washington Post report citing leaked Pentagon documents said the United States believes that since the withdrawal, Afghanistan is becoming a "staging ground" for the Islamic State group.

In his statement, Kirby said Tuesday, "We have made clear to the Taliban that it is their responsibility to ensure that they give no safe haven to terrorists, whether Al-Qaeda or ISIS-K."

He added: "We have made good on the President's pledge to establish an over-the-horizon capacity to monitor potential terrorist threats, not only from Afghanistan but elsewhere around the world where that threat has metastasized, as we have done in Somalia and Syria."

The Taliban and IS have long engaged in a turf war in Afghanistan, and experts have pointed to the jihadist group as the biggest security challenge for the new Afghan government going forward.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/taliban-kill-is-mastermind-of-kabul-airport-attack-white-house/articleshow/99774392.cms

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'A chilling effect': Muslim charities fall prey to Canada’s double standards

By Umar A Farooq

25 April 2023

In March 2017, ISNA Islamic Services of Canada, a Muslim charity that operated in Ontario, was sent a notice that its charitable status was being revoked and that in 30 days it would be shut down without any other recourse.

The Notice of Intention to Revoke (NITR) was the result of a years-long audit, in which the CRA said the organisation failed to meet the necessary requirements to be constituted for charitable purposes, including failing to devote resources to charitable activities and maintain adequate books and records. The CRA also accused the organisation of possibly funding a Pakistani militant group.

By May of that year, it ceased to be a charity operating in Canada. But while the news coverage at the time largely focused on alleged terror links, experts in the charity sector say charities like this one have been a part of a decades-long clampdown on Muslim charitable organisations, in which they were unfairly targeted due to Islamophobic bias and then given an unequal appeals process.

Middle East Eye looked through the audits of dozens of charities over the last decade, and while most were given ample time and space to object to being shut down, none of the Muslim charities seen by MEE were given the same opportunities to object to and delay the revocation of their charitable status.

The Canadian government’s conduct highlights the discrepancy between how some charities are treated during and after being audited and how the Canadian government treats Muslim charities, researchers, and practitioners in the charity sector have told Middle East Eye.

 "This isn't fair because it's not the same way other faith groups or other sectors operate," said Mahmuda Khan, executive director of the charity, Human Concern International, a Muslim charity that was not shut down but was suspended.

"The fear that we have, the extra cautiousness that we have, the levels of due diligence and compliance that we're thinking of doing. [In] having forums and dialogues with others in the sector, I don't see that fear in others."

'Where's the fairness?'

Middle East Eye looked at 63 Notices of Intention to Revoke (NITRs) that were sent to Canadian charities between 2015 and 2019. Of those charities, 38 were allowed the opportunity to object and delay their revocation by submitting a response, while 25 were not given the same chance and would have had to obtain an order from the federal appeals court.

However, MEE also viewed NITRs that were sent during that same period to five Muslim charities, all of which were told that regardless of whether they filed an objection, their charitable status would be revoked unless they received an order from the appeals court.

"It seems unfair. If you're giving this notice of intent, and then basically saying, well we're going to revoke whatever you do anyway, where's the fairness? I mean, there should be some process," said Faisal Kutty, a lawyer and associate professor at Southwestern Law School who has advised dozens of Muslim charities and groups trying to apply for charitable status in Canada.

In 2014, two charities operating under the umbrella of the Jewish organisation, B'nai Brith - B'nai B'rith Foundation District No 22 (BBFD) and The League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith (LHR), received a NITR letter from the CRA stating their intention to revoke the groups' charitable status.

And several years later in 2021, the original two charities were finally shut down.

The CRA told Middle East Eye it could not provide further details on the timeline of the revocation of B'nai B'rith Foundation District No 22 and The League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith, but said the agency followed "normal administrative procedures".

The CRA also confirmed that charities are allowed to continue operating until their status is officially revoked.

MEE also reached out to B'nai Brith with several questions regarding this, but the organisation did not respond.

In a similar scenario, another charity, the Ark Angel fund, was sent a NITR in 2015 and was told it would be shut down in 90 days unless it received an objection from the charity. It was not fully revoked of its charitable status until February 2021.

Kutty told MEE that even though Muslim charities are given some type of option to oppose being shut down, the actual reality of fighting back is incredibly difficult.

"The theory is you can oppose these things, you can fight these things. But the practical reality is that once this is out, people are not going to even give you money to do a legal challenge to fight it," Kutty told MEE.

"The challenge is not like you just stand up and challenge. You're going to end up mounting a legal challenge, a PR challenge. So where do you get money for that now? We've had cases where the funds are frozen."

Feeling 'targeted'

The CRA told MEE that as a "general rule", charities can file an objection to the agency's appeal branch within 90 days of receiving a letter saying they intended to revoke their status.

But charities like the Ottawa Islamic Centre and Assalam Mosque, ISNA Islamic Services of Canada, The Canada Islamic Trust Foundation, the Islamic Shia Assembly, and the Anatolia Cultural Foundation all received letters saying that their statuses would be revoked after 30 days, regardless of whether they objected to it or not.

"The Muslim charities who were faced with audits and revocations were never granted the opportunity to delay the revocation of their status," Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), told MEE.

"It was kind of a final notice that they received."

Middle East Eye asked the CRA why during the years between 2015 and 2019 there appeared to be an inconsistency in how Muslim charities were treated versus other organisations.

The CRA told MEE it can't discuss specific cases, but added that it has two types of revocations, a 90-day revocation and a 30-day one.

"Consideration is always given to proceeding with a 90-day Notice of intention to revoke, unless an organization has demonstrated egregious non-compliance," the CRA said.

But in the cases where a 30-day notice is given, the CRA will "not hold the revocation in abeyance given the seriousness of the non-compliance", unless it receives an order staying publication of the notice of revocation from the Federal Court of Appeal within 30 days.

Yet in four of the NITRs seen by MEE that were sent to Muslim charities, the option to obtain a court order to prevent revocation was not outlined in the letters.

Even prior to the 2015-2019 period that MEE reviewed, Muslim organisations in Canada have been calling on the government to look into what they say is an unfair targeting of Muslim charities by the government.

The ICLMG reported that from 2008 to 2015, 75 percent of organisations whose charitable status was revoked following audits were Muslim charities.

The CRA said that it does not discriminate against any charities based on their religious affiliation.

"Under no circumstances are registered charities selected for audit by the CRA based on a particular faith or denomination, nor would such factors impact the outcome of an audit," the agency told MEE.

"The CRA assess all concerns about registered charities against a clear regulatory and risk-based framework designed to prevent bias in its decision-making process."

Terrorism allegations

Many audits against Muslim charities were also conducted by a special agency within the CRA called the Review and Analysis Division (RAD), a secretive arm of the CRA that works with national security agencies and is tasked with investigating allegations of terrorist financing in the charity sector.

In the years following the 9/11 attacks, RAD was tasked by the government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to root out any type of terror financing among Canadian charities, and experts say it tended to have an acute focus on Muslim charities.

"Essentially what we've seen and what we've documented in pursuit of countering terrorism financing in the charity sector, is that they've exclusively looked at mostly Muslim charities, but exclusively charities within racialised communities," McSorley said.

"That has been guided by internal government policy that there's an inherent risk to terrorist financing in the charitable sector, and they identify that risk as being linked to mostly so-called Islamic terrorist organisations."

The report from ICLMG said the CRA worked with national security agencies to carry out audits that unfairly target Muslim charities, with little accountability.

And despite the revocations, some of which took place during the successive liberal governments led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the report said that none of the Muslim charitable organisations or associated individuals were ever charged with a terrorist-financing crime, according to ICLMG.

For charities like Human Concern International (HCI) - a Muslim-Canadian relief organisation - which did not get their status revoked but received a suspension that it has tried to appeal, the experience of being audited was "intense and intimidating".

"There's one thing where there's open dialogue, friendly dialogue, but it felt very intimidating to the members who were being interviewed," said Khan of HCI, who was not present at the time of the audit but shared the experiences of her colleagues.

"The reason we felt it was not like any other audit and it felt sort of targeted was because we were audited by the Review and Analysis Division."

And when organisations lose their charitable status, donors can no longer claim the funds as a tax deduction, causing a drop in contributions.

"The CRA targeting Muslim charities definitely has a chilling effect on the Canadian Muslim community," Khan said.

"It was very hard to explain from our point of view that this audit in no way means the charity is doing anything wrong."

And on top of that, a recent study conducted by law professors Faisal Kutty and Faisal Bhaba found that the sources of many of the CRA's claims against these charities came from known Islamophobic and far-right experts that perpetuate anti-Muslim sentiment.

In a recent court hearing, in which the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) is challenging the CRA's targeting of Muslim charities, Kutty noted that the lawyer for MAC laid out the issue well.

"I liked the lawyer for MAC when he concluded, he basically said, the CRA's position is they have 300 some odd sources they rely on, and only 30 of them or 32 of them are discredited or unreliable or problematic," Kutty said.

"Then the lawyer concludes: 'Your Honour, that's like saying that when you're trying to target a Black charity and you say only 10 percent of our materials come from the KKK'."

Who gets audited?

In the past few years, the Trudeau government has made attempts to look into complaints of Islamophobia in the CRA, and in March, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), an independent government watchdog, announced its intention to probe the CRA's review and analysis division.

This came after Canada’s Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson was tasked with looking into the issue, but ultimately came up with what he said was an inconclusive report, noting that CRA would not hand over key documents.

The double standards applied to different charities, however, are demonstrative of a larger problem within Canada, according to AnverEmon, director of the University of Toronto's Institute of Islamic Studies and co-author of a report on tax audits on Muslim charities.

"We'd like to think in the Canadian context that we're a very sophisticated government with a very transparent rule of law orientation, but at a certain point, there's still sort of an old boys club element to some of the ways in which it seems to me that we're governed, that's my impression," Emon said.

The CRA has around 40,000 employees and is responsible for overseeing the 80,000 registered charities in Canada worth more than $300bn. However, for the past several years, it has audited less than 300 charities a year.

And while the CRA says it remains independent, Emon says there are questions surrounding how it picks and chooses which charities get audited.

"What happens politically if they're auditing a politically connected charity? We don't know what that's gonna look like," Emon said.

"You may be independent politically, but what happens when the Ministry of National Revenue starts getting calls from big donors around why are you auditing this charity?"

Source: middleeasteye.net

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Second Minneapolis mosque set afire in two days, public's help sought finding suspect

APRIL 25, 2023

One day after someone started a fire in a bathroom of a south Minneapolis mosque, another fire was set on the third floor of a different mosque less than a mile away.

Dozens of Muslim community leaders and imams condemned the alleged attacks at a Tuesday news conference at the Masjid Al Rahma mosque, the site of the second mosque fire. Several raised concerns that the alleged anti-Muslim attack Monday could have been more tragic, given that about 50 day care children and 50 worshipers were inside.

"When these attacks happen, it's to our children, and that's what makes it even more disturbing and personal for me," said Nimco Ahmed, president of the Somali American Coalition Action Fund, as she held her 3-year-old daughter. "It's very sad because this state that we call home is so precious to us."

About 6:30 p.m. Monday, security guard BahikoroKouyate said he noticed smoke and fire coming from a third floor hallway at the Mercy Islamic Center, which contains the mosque in the 2600 block of Bloomington Avenue. The building was evacuated, including the day care in the basement. He said it was fortunate a fire station was directly across the street.

"Thank God the fire (department) was here," Kouyate said.

The flames were fully extinguished by 7:30 p.m., the Minneapolis Fire Department said. Early estimates indicate the damages could be $50,000, community leaders said.

Minneapolis police responded Sunday about 7 p.m. to the fire at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center, in the 24 Somali Mall in the Ventura Village neighborhood. The suspect, described as a white man, entered the building with a red gas canister filled with flammable liquid before lighting a fire in the bathroom, according to a news release from the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Worshippers used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, CAIR said.

Police released security photos of the suspect, who appeared to be wearing a black skullcap, glasses, a blue facemask and a gray hoodie.

Police suspect the man in both mosque fires, along with previous property damage incidents, including one in January, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said at the news conference.

O'Hara said police are investigating whether it was an anti-Muslim bias crime, and said he meets with with victims anytime there's a possible hate crime incident.

In response, the department is increasing the presence of officers at Muslim community centers and is taking other protective measures that O'Hara did not detail. Crime prevention specialists were sent to mosques to advise staff on how to increase security at the sites, he said.

"We're very confident that we will be able to bring this person to justice, but in the meantime we cannot afford to have anything else happen, and we want to be able to ensure that all people can be safe," O'Hara said.

Police ask that anyone with information about the suspect to email policetips@minneapolismn.gov or call 612-673-5845. CAIR Minnesota announced a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest.

More than a dozen news conference speakers voiced support for the Muslim community and lamented that it is too often the target of Islamophobic attacks.

"We've got to do something," said Minneapolis Council Member Jamal Osman. "Hate cannot win in our state."

A solidarity event is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Masjid Al Rahma mosque.

Source: startribune.com

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Islamic State Operative Behind Deadly Kabul Airport Attack Is Dead

April 25, 2023

WASHINGTON —

The leader of the Islamic State terror group cell that carried out the August 2021 bombing that killed 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghan civilians is dead, slain during recent clashes with Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.

U.S. officials, who initially confirmed the death to VOA on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the intelligence, declined to name the cell leader or say when or where he was killed.

It was also unclear whether the individual was targeted by the Taliban or was killed as a result of ongoing fighting between the two groups. In a statement the U.S. Defense Department said, “The United States was not involved in this operation.”

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby confirmed the cell leader's death in an email to VOA, calling it "another in a series of high-profile leadership losses" that the group has suffered so far this year.

Kirby said the cell leader was a key official "directly involved in plotting operations like Abbey Gate," adding that the IS affiliate's ability to launch additional attacks against U.S. interests has been diminished due to a series of setbacks inflicted by the U.S. and its partners, and even the Taliban.

Confirmation of the IS cell leader's death came as multiple U.S. media outlets reported U.S. officials were contacting family members of the 13 U.S. troops killed in the attack on Kabul Airport's Abbey Gate to inform them of the development.

The attack on Abbey Gate in the waning days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan left a lasting mark on the United States.

Following the attack, U.S. President Joe Biden promised justice for those killed.

"To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive," Biden said in a nationally broadcast address. "We will hunt you down and make you pay."

But since the withdrawal, the U.S. has carried out just one counterterrorism strike in Afghanistan: Last July, a drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of IS rival al-Qaida, as he hid in the capital of Kabul.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in South Asia, has acknowledged two other operations but said the details remain classified.

In the meantime, the Islamic State's Afghan affiliate, known as IS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, has spread across the country, with cells in the Afghan capital and a growing number of provinces.

Intelligence shared in a United Nations counterterrorism report earlier this year estimated IS-Khorasan has between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters but cautioned that the affiliate was looking to expand its reach, pumping out propaganda in multiple languages, including Persian, Tajik, Uzbek and Russian.

Top U.S. military and intelligence officials have also grown increasingly wary of the IS Afghan affiliate.

Last month, CENTCOM Commander General Michael Kurilla told U.S. lawmakers that IS-Khorasan has set its sights on striking the West.

"They can do external operations against U.S. or Western interests abroad in under six months with little to no warning," Kurilla said, adding the likely targets would be in Asia or Europe.

U.S. intelligence agencies have likewise sounded alarms about IS-Khorasan's ambitions.

Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lieutenant General Scott Berrier said early last month that it was only "a matter of time before they may have the ability and intent to attack the West."

This past January, National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid called IS-Khorasan the "threat actor I am most concerned about."

U.S. officials have also expressed little faith in the ability of the Taliban to make good on their pledge to contain IS-Khorasan.

"The Taliban doesn't have the precision to go after individuals," CENTCOM's Kurilla told U.S. lawmakers.

"They [Taliban] will do large, sweeping clearance operations," he said, noting such operations are only "disruptive to a point."

The White House's Kirby, late Tuesday, defended U.S. efforts to target IS-Khorasan, despite the lack of strikes.

"We have made good on the president's pledge to establish an over-the-horizon capacity to monitor potential terrorist threats, not only from in Afghanistan but elsewhere around the world," he said.

As an example, Kirby pointed to the U.S. counterterrorism operation this past January in Somalia that killed IS operative Bilal al-Sudani, who played a key role in funding IS-Khorasan.

IS-Khorasan was quick to claim the August 26, 2021, attack on Kabul Airport's Abbey Gate, using it to build momentum as the U.S. left.

But despite initial claims by U.S. military officials that the bombing was part of a coordinated attack on the airport, a subsequent Pentagon investigation determined that was not the case.

"This was not a complex attack," Army Brigadier General Lance Curtis told reporters in February 2022, detailing the investigation's findings. "It was a single blast, and it did not have a follow-on attack."

According to the report, all of the death and damage was caused by the single bomb, which investigators said was powerful enough to send shockwaves through the tightly packed crowds at Abbey Gate, spreading 50 meters from the detonation site.

The Abbey Gate bombing put the U.S. military in Afghanistan on heightened alert until the very end of the withdrawal, and possibly contributed to a botched airstrike three days later that killed as many as 10 civilians, including an aid worker and seven children.

"The degradation of ISIS in the region continues to be a top priority for this administration," State Department Principal Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters during a briefing earlier Tuesday. "It's something that we continue to work collectively on with our allies and partners and others in the region."

Source: voanews.com

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Netherlands: Muslims file UN complaint against parliament, citing discrimination

By AreebUllah

25 April 2023

A coalition of Muslim groups in the Netherlands has filed a complaint with the United Nations against a Dutch parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the influence of foreign funding on mosques and Islamic associations.

The Ummah Project, a group based in the Netherlands that is spearheading the effort, filed an 82-page complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee on Monday, accusing the Dutch parliamentary committee on unwanted foreign influence (Pocob) of waging a "witch-hunt" against the Muslim community.

The Muslim leaders who are part of the complaint include Hamid Tahiri, Jacob Van Der Blom, and Nasr El Dalmanhoury, who held leadership positions in various mosques and Muslim associations across the country.

The men were called before Pocob in 2020 after the Dutch parliament began investigating the influence of money from a list of "unfree countries" - including Kuwait; Morocco; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Turkey; and the United Arab Emirates.

Pocob focused only on Muslim organisations in Holland and refused to broaden its scope to include the possibility of influence from other foreign countries.

The three men, summoned by the committee as witnesses, risked possible imprisonment if they failed to testify.

Clips from the committee hearing showed Muslim witnesses enduring an intense line of questioning from parliamentarians.

At one point, a witness who challenged the inquiry's line of questioning had their microphone switched off.

Samira Sabir, a Dutch barrister who filed the case on behalf of the Ummah Project, said the three men had been forced to defend themselves as suspects against highly incriminating allegations despite committing no crime.

Sabir added that the witness testimonies were carried on a live stream that was picked up by several TV channels. Since then, the men and their places of worship have faced negative backlash, the Ummah Project said.

"Not only does the question arise as to why such a heavy-handed instrument was used to investigate foreign influence, but the disproportionate instrument used, in which the witnesses were publicly interrogated as suspects and under oath, was completely unnecessary," Sabir told Middle East Eye.

"They were not heard as witnesses but as suspects and had to defend themselves unprepared without being given a chance to be truly heard.

"This summons had the character of a criminal investigation rather than a democratic parliamentary inquiry."

Jacob Van De Bloom, the chairman of the Blauwe Mosque in Amsterdam, said the line of questioning against him and the other witnesses was illegal and went against the Netherlands' constitution.

"In the constitution here in the Netherlands, we agreed to not treat each other differently based on religion or colour [but] this is clearly happening here," Van De Bloom said in a statement.

"[Even before we appeared on the committee] they had already decided upon the outcome and all the questions, the speakers and the order of the meetings. All they had to do was their part to reach this outcome. Now they have a report where they can claim that there is 'unwanted influence' by foreign financing."

MEE reached out to Pocob for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Widespread Islamophobia

In 2021, local media revealed that at least ten towns and cities in the Netherlands used private companies to secretly investigate mosques and Islamic institutions.

Mosque officials, members active in the Muslim community and the local daily, NRC Handelsblad, were investigated by Nuance Door Training and Advice (NTA) on behalf of municipalities, using unlawful undercover methods.

NTA staff reportedly entered mosques and visited community leaders without revealing their true identities in municipalities including Rotterdam; Delft; Almere; Huizen; Leidschendam-Voorburg; Zoetermeer; Veenendaal; and Ede.

The UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, Ahmed Shaheed, also noted in 2019 that Islamophobia was "widespread" across the whole of the Netherlands after a visit to the country.

"Members of the Muslim community reported that they are being perceived or stigmatised as terrorists and targeted as such," Shaheed noted in his assessment.

"Such a climate highlights the need for Government to ensure that negative attitudes towards Muslims in society, sometimes encouraged by political parties, do not foster Islamophobic incidents and a sense of alienation in the Muslim community."

Source: middleeasteye.net

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Why an iconoclastic Jewish scholar thought Islam held a key to improving Judaism

By Benjamin Ivry

April 25, 2023

Ignaz Goldziher died just over a century ago, but his achievements as a Hungarian Jewish pioneer in modern Arabic and Islamic studies are still cherished. Such dauntingly masterful studies as On the History of Grammar among the Arabs and Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law are still revered by mavens. A new book, Ignaz Goldziher as a Jewish Orientalist, by TamásTurán, explores how Goldziher fit into a generation of Jewish specialists in all things Islamic.

Susannah Heschel has noted that 19th century Jewish thinkers found affinities with Islam, especially for better opposing Christianity. To these researchers, Islam and Judaism were rationally obsessed with law, rather than merely testing belief, which in Christianity led to such atrocities as the Inquisition.

To these reactions, Goldziher added a vehement preference for Sephardic Judaism, harkening back to centuries ago, when leading Jewish intellectuals wrote in Arabic for readers in Muslim Spain. For Goldziher, Sephardic culture was no mere nostalgic excursion. He felt that Judaism might benefit from refinement according to the best elements of Islam.

Favoring progressive aspects of both religions, Goldziher rejected what he saw as hidebound traditional Jewish observance, with rabbis “snorting away” at Bible stories or “soul-killing” prayer books.

After an Orthodox upbringing, he became relatively lax about matters such as kashrut, especially when traveling, but continued to study a daily page of Talmud to hone his intellect for the challenges of Islamic research.

In 1914, Goldziher wrote to the linguist Abraham Shalom Yahuda, born in Jerusalem to an Iraqi Jewish family:

“Whatever Jews possess in terms of religious culture is of Sephardic origin. Everything is connected to [Yehuda] Halevi and Maimonides. [Moses] Mendelssohn is unthinkable without this connection. Remain a Sephardi and a champion of a Sephardic Renaissance.”

Goldziher himself remained a lifelong champion of the Bible and Talmud. His Mythology Among the Hebrews refuted contemporary accusations that Jews had purloined myths from other cultures, a notion advanced by the Frenchman Ernest Renan, who decried a supposed lack of Semitic epics, science or philosophy.

Born in Székesfehérvár, central Hungary, Goldziher began to study Talmud at age five. His first book, on the origin, of prayer, was published when he was 12. His mentor, the Talmudist Moses Wolf Freudenberg, accorded him a Latin nickname: Ignatius autorculus (Ignaz the author).

At his bar mitzvah, Goldziher preached a sermon lasting one hour, followed by Talmudic discourse later in the day; by that evening, he had brought himself to tears with his own eloquence.

By age 16, he was enrolled at Budapest University, having mastered Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish and Persian. Still in his teens, he wrote a doctoral dissertation on Tanhum ben Joseph of Jerusalem, a 13th century Hebrew lexicographer so erudite that he was known as the “Abraham ibn Ezra of the Levant.”

Yet a promising career would be stymied by lack of a university appointment, in part because unlike some contemporaries, Goldziher refused to convert to Christianity at a time when abandoning Judaism facilitated career progress across Europe.

His wide-ranging interest in culture and tradition, not limited to narrow linguistic questions, might also have counted against him in some parts of academia. A paragon of high seriousness, Goldziher’s respect for Islamic custom was always punctilious.

In a memorial tribute, the Semitic scholar Richard Gottheil recalled how in Geneva at an Orientalist conference, Goldziher used fluent Arabic to scold some Egyptians who were “hilariously drinking wine,” suggesting that “if only out of respect for the religion they represented, they ought at least to show outward respect for its tenets.”

TamásTurán addresses suggestions that such moralizing to others may have impeded Goldziher’s professional progress. Goldziher’s diary, written in German and published only in 1978, shocked readers with the amount of paprika it threw into the Sólet, a traditional Hungarian Jewish stew, metaphorically speaking.

Largely a plea for rachmonis (pity), Goldziher’s narrative targeted several of his colleagues, including some with staunch reputations.

One such was ÁrminVámbéry (born Hermann Wamberger), a Hungarian specialist in the languages, history and cultures of Turkic peoples. Vámbéry converted to Christianity to advance his academic career, unlike Goldziher.

Termed by Goldziher a “limping liar” and “vicious ignoramus,” Vámbéry was, Turán asserts, indeed a more problematic figure than is commonly understood. In 1900, Vámbéry informed Goldziher that his teaching job at the University of Budapest was just an excuse for lucrative quasi-espionage on behalf of the governments of the UK and Turkey: “Any man who does not acquire any money — much money — is a despicable character.” After bragging about the sums he earned, Vámbéry added that these were not obtained by dint of scholarship: “Research is a pile of Dreck.”

Goldziher could not have disagreed more with this attitude, and refused offers for foreign academic chairs, opting instead to wait it out for decades in Hungary. At age 55, he was finally accorded a salaried post worthy of his publications. Until then, he worked as secretary of the Neolog Jewish Congregation of Pest, a liberal, modernist Hungarian Jewish communal organization, in addition to lecturing at the Jewish Theological Seminary of Budapest.

In these roles he often encountered Ashkenazi Jews of whom he disapproved in his journal, using such terms as “Moravian” and “Polack” as insults. The Swiss Jewish scholar Edward Ullendorff compared Goldziher’s critique of fellow Jews to “The Self-Tormentor,” the protagonist of a stage comedy by the Roman playwright Terence.

Decidedly unmerry, Goldziher was typically an intense diarist; during one voyage, he ran out of ink but continued scribbling away, dipping his pen into shoe polish to capture his thoughts. He bemoaned his status as the “despised and ill-used lackey of my purse-proud and ignorant coreligionists.”

His fellow Hungarian Jew, the ethnographer Raphael Patai, implied that Goldziher was a manic depressive in need of psychological counseling. More empathetically, the German Jewish historian ShelomoDovGoitein called Goldziher’s journal a “human document of tragic dimensions.”

By contrast, Turán explains Goldziher’s mood swings by citing the German Jewish philologist HeymannSteinthal’s characterization of Semites, especially Israelites, as a mix of “excitability” and “earnestness.”

Add a dollop of what IsmarSchorsch, Chancellor emeritus of The Jewish Theological Seminary, characterized as “The Myth of Sephardic Supremacy in Nineteenth-Century Germany,” and Goldziher’s vehemence may appear a bit more explicable.

Even-handed in his obloquy, Goldziher also castigated offending Muslims, not just the bibulous Egyptians confronted in Geneva. In Istanbul, he called a performing dervish, a whirling Sufi Muslim worshiper, a “miserable God swindle,” and considered that observance of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by fasting, prayer, and reflection, was likewise part of a “swindle” perpetrated against believers.

Invective aside, posterity will surely look upon Ignaz Goldziher’s publications with gratitude for their enduring probity and coherence. When Goldziher’s private library was purchased in the 1920s by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one young intellectual, Gershom Scholem, thrilled that the “famous library of the even more famous Islamist” should be accessible to Jewish researchers. The excitement persists in the scholarly community about Goldziher’s work, regardless of his opinions of others, justified or not.

Source: forward.com

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Southeast Asia

 

Registering marriage important for Indonesians abroad: legislator

26-04-23

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Member of Commission I of the House of Representatives (DPR) Christina Aryani has stressed the importance of Indonesians living abroad registering their marriage to protect the rights of mothers and children.

She conveyed this in response to the case of an eight-year-old boy named Muhammad Yusri in Malaysia who was left without citizenship after both his parents died. The boy's birth had not been reported, and his parents' marriage had not been registered.

"The lesson that can be taken from this case is the importance of reporting marriage to the Indonesian Embassy (KBRI)/Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia (KJRI) representatives abroad to protect the rights of mothers and children," she said in a statement received on Tuesday.

Children born outside marriage have civil relations with their mothers and their mothers' families as per Article 43 Paragraph (1) of Law Number 1 of 1974 concerning Marriage, she added.

"Thus, as long as it can be proven that Muhammad Yusri was born to an Indonesian woman, Indonesian citizenship can be given to him," she said.

The offer of help from the Malaysian government could also be an option to consider in the case, she added.

"We also received information that the Malaysian government is willing to help in Yusri's citizenship process," she said.

According to her, in responding to such cases, the interests of children must be prioritized.

"What needs to be paid attention to here is when he returns to Indonesia, then with whom will he stay and who will take care of him? These all need to be considered carefully, including the future of the child," she added.

Apart from Malaysia, there have been frequent cases in Hong Kong of children born outside wedlock to Indonesian-foreigner couples and at risk of having no citizenship, the legislator said.

Source: en.antaranews.com

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Temples, puppets, opera a legacy of Fujian's past at tourist Mecca

26-Apr-2023

Ancestral shrines, temples and other cultural relics and historical buildings dot the Wudianshi Traditional Blocks. These red brick buildings with their delicately designed roofs are typical of the architectural style of southern Fujian. They have been well preserved thanks to concerted efforts by the local government despite the blazing pace of urbanization.

The ancient block was renovated for three years before it reopened to the public in 2015 with a brand-new look and complete facilities for tourism while retaining its quaint traditional neighborhoods. As a city landmark, the block was rated as a 4A-level national scenic area in 2015. Two years later, it was named "a provincial-level historical and cultural block."

Its reputation attracts many visitors to appreciate local intangible cultural heritage, such as Gaojia Opera, puppetry shows, folk music and more. Exhibitions, fashion shows, and other cultural events are also often held there. As they wander around sipping coffee and tasting local delicacies, visitors can enjoy a feast for the senses while soaking up centuries of culture.

Any tour here is a de facto history lesson with so many cultural relics and historical architecture to be appreciated. People can also kick back a gear and enjoy the slower pace of life of bygone times.

The block evokes feelings of nostalgia among older generations of local people and is a popular place for all demographics of city residents.

Source: news.cgtn.com

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https://news.cgtn.com/news/2023-04-26/Temples-puppets-opera-a-legacy-of-Fujian-s-past-at-tourist-Mecca-1jjGrWdp9dK/index.html

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Malaysians have left Port Sudan for Jeddah, says Wisma Putra

Wednesday, 26 Apr 2023

PUTRAJAYA: All 30 Malaysians, who were stranded in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, have safely left Port Sudan for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Foreign Ministry said all the Malaysians left the port on board a Saudi naval vessel, after an arduous 30-hour journey by land beginning from Khartoum.

"The journey across the Red Sea is expected to take at least 12 hours,” it said in a tweet today (April 26).

Wisma Putra also extended its sincere appreciation to the governments of Saudi Arabia and UAE for making the evacuation a success.

It said that in the spirit of compassion, Malaysia also assisted nationalities from Cambodia, Palestine, Philippines, Singapore, Sudan, Thailand, and the United States to safely leave Sudan under the close supervision and efforts of the Malaysian evacuation operation.

So far, more than 400 people have been reported killed and more than 3,500 injured since the armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out on April 15. – Bernama

Source: thestar.com

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https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/04/26/malaysians-have-left-port-sudan-for-jeddah-says-wisma-putra

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Mideast

 

Iran, Saudi Arabia Resume TradeFollowing A China-Brokered Deal: Iranian Trade Minister

2023-04-26

Tehran, April 26 (IANS) An Iranian official announced that trade between Tehran and Saudi Arabia has resumed as the two Arab countries stepped up efforts to normalise ties following a China-brokered deal in March.

Trade Minister Reza Fatemi-Amin made the remarks to mediapersons on Tuesday when asked to comment on the agreement reached between Tehran and Riyadh to normalise bilateral relations in March, Xinhua news agency reported.

On Sunday, Iran's Roads and Urban Development Minister MehrdadBazrpash announced that the country has received a proposal from Saudi Arabia to launch three regular flights between the two countries per week, in addition to the Haj flights.

Iran and Saudi Arabia reached a deal in March to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies and missions in the two countries within two months.

In a meeting held in Beijing on April 6, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud signed a joint statement, announcing the resumption of diplomatic relations with immediate effect.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016 in response to the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran after the kingdom executed a Shia cleric.

Source: investing.com

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https://in.investing.com/news/iran-saudi-arabia-resume-trade-minister-3615006

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Amir sends condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

25 Apr 2023

Doha: The Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani sent on Tuesday a cable of condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the death of HH Prince Abdulrahman bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud.

Source: thepeninsulaqatar.com

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Israeli Arabs torn over judicial reforms protest movement

By Rhodri Davies

26-04-23

At a recent march for Land Day, Jameel Saed denounced the nationwide protests against controversial judicial reform plans that have convulsed Israel since the start of the year.

"I didn't participate in any and I'm not going to. I don't think that many Palestinians did," said the student from the Arab city of Nazareth, in northern Israel.

"The Israeli protests are calling to get the status quo back - to 'claim back democracy'. But we don't think that it was anything but tyranny and apartheid.

"This is not something that we want."

Jameel is one of Israel's approximately two million Israeli Arabs. Israeli Arabs are Palestinians and their descendants who remained in the land which became Israel in 1948. They comprise about 20% of Israel's population. While they are officially citizens of Israel, many - estimates and polls vary - self-identify as Palestinians.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have been on Israel's streets weekly. They have been demonstrating against the right-wing government's proposed reforms that would radically increase its control of Supreme Court appointments and decisions.

In the face of the uproar in Israel's towns and cities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition has now put the reforms on hold at least until the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, returns from recess on 30 April.

Israel crisis a battle for country's identity

What is the crisis in Israel about?

Jameel believes that the march at Land Day - the annual commemoration of the Israeli army killings in 1976 of six Palestinians demonstrating over Israeli expropriation of their land - is more important for Palestinian rights than participation in the current mass protests.

On the march in the Israeli Arab town of Sakhnin, where some of the killings took place, he questioned the apparent disparity in treatment by Israeli security forces of Israeli and Palestinian protests.

"If we did one quarter of what the Israelis are doing we would've been killed by now," he said.

Sense of exclusion

Of the demonstrations that have taken place, involvement by Israel's Arab citizens has been low and primarily in Israeli Arab areas in the north.

Some are happy to see the judicial crisis play out, or think it is the logical outcome of a state and system which many feel has always excluded their community from full democratic treatment.

A protester holds a placard that says in Hebrew "We are not donkeys we are the Messiah Democracy" during an anti-reform demonstration.

Many argue that past Supreme Court decisions which have discriminated against Palestinians, both in Israel and in the Occupied Territories, provide no impetus to defend it. For instance, upholding the 2018 nation state law that stated that in Israel the right to self-determination is unique to Jewish people.

More recently, the court approved the eviction of 1,000 Palestinians from an area in the occupied West Bank so that Israel's army can use it as a training zone. UN human rights experts warned that the move - without military necessity in an occupied territory - could constitute a war crime.

After a string of inconclusive elections in Israel, and the fall of a short-lived broad spectrum coalition government, November's polls saw Mr Netanyahu propelled back into power at the head of the most right-wing government in Israel's history.

With a coalition of nationalist and religious parties in charge, many Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories feel at risk of its legislative, cultural and political might.

Two of the most prominent ministers in the coalition - Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir - are themselves settlers in the West Bank.

Last month, Mr Smotrich provoked a storm of angry reaction when he said that there was "no such thing" as a Palestinian people.

Analysts in Israeli media have speculated that the coalition will try to remove legal constraints to annex some or all of the West Bank. If such a move were to happen, it would likely see the absorption or expulsion of Palestinians.

'We're not alone'

Calls from Jewish Israelis for Palestinian rights, the occupation and peace to be part of the protest dialogue have been met by the demonstrations' mainstream with indifference or the argument that they need to remain focused on their own issues to achieve success.

But, despite the current context, some Israeli Arabs are pushing for greater engagement in the Israeli protests.

At the Land Day march, Aida Touma-Suleiman, an Arab member of the Knesset, said: "Some are joining, but not as much as expected from those who are going to be hurt the most from these reforms.

"Those who are politicised like us, we are trying to push to get our voices heard, either by meeting with those who are leading the demonstrations or taking part in the demonstrations under the anti-occupation bloc."

This bloc is increasingly seen at the larger protests, such as those in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in Hebrew and Arabic. Though it remains tiny in comparison to the total number of protesters.

Some Israeli Arabs see the protests as an opportunity to advance their demands for equality.

"We are saying that real democracy cannot exist with the ongoing occupation of another people - the Palestinian people - and that real democracy cannot be discriminatory against the Palestinian citizens of Israel," said Yousef Jabareen, an Arab former member of the Knesset and law lecturer.

"There's a need to advocate for other initiatives to promote real democracy."

This includes working with Jewish Israelis.

At the first Saturday protest in Tel Aviv during the Knesset's recess, Alon-Lee Green was among a group of purple-shirted protesters huddling together in the Mediterranean sunshine.

Mr Green is the national co-director of Standing Together, a grassroots movement that aims to bring Jews and Palestinians in Israel together to achieve peace and equality.

He said that carving out space for their voice has been difficult, but is increasingly possible.

"There is a big argument within the protest [over including calls for Palestinian rights]," he said.

He said a large part of the public did not want to bring in the topics of occupation or social justice at the protests. But while the Israeli flag was seen everywhere, people were now able to wave Palestinian flags freely, Mr Green added.

Previously there were "a lot of attacks, even violent attacks on people that were holding the Palestinian flag inside those protests," he said.

Ibrahim Abu Ahmad, who works for a non-governmental organisation, is one of the handful of Israeli Arabs who has spoken at the Israeli rallies.

On the sidelines of the Saturday protest, the 30-year-old said that the desire for immediate, full Palestinian rights and a Palestinian state was unrealistic - rather that small steps were needed.

brahim Abu Ahmad

Image caption,

Ibrahim Abu Ahmad: "We should be kicking the door"

He favoured first building networks in Israel and strengthening Palestinians' social and political role.

"We have an ally in this Israeli society, we're not alone, there are people who believe in this change," Mr Abu Ahmad said. "We should take it as an opportunity to put them on our side. And not to alienate ourselves from everything."

"Then after the crisis is resolved we can say: 'We stood by you. Now it's time to discuss our issues.'"

Mr Abu Ahmad added Palestinians "shouldn't be waiting for permission" to put their views forward.

"We should be kicking the door," he said.

Source: bbc.com

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Israel complains about growing Chinese role in Middle East at Washington's expense

April 25, 2023

After China's success in restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, political and diplomatic circles in Israel are anticipating a Chinese attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, citing the rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh brokered by Beijing. However, Israel remains committed to the US, and calls for its increased involvement in the Middle East.

"After the resumption of diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran, mediated by Beijing, years after their separation, Israeli political circles predict that the Chinese are also trying to resolve another conflict in the Middle East, which has lasted for decades, the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis," wrote political correspondent ItamarEichner in YediothAhronoth. "Hence, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen had a call with his Chinese counterpart Chen Gang, without Israel announcing that the conversation included any discussion about negotiations with the Palestinians, but rather confirming that they discussed the threat of the Iranian nuclear programme."

He added in a report translated by Arabi 21 that, "The Chinese announcement stated that the foreign minister spoke with his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, Cohen and Riyad Al-Maliki, and focused with them on a completely different topic, which is the fear of escalating tensions between the two sides, and his support for the resumption of negotiations between them. He assured Cohen that the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a good example of overcoming differences through dialogue, asking him to show political courage and move towards resuming dialogue with the Palestinians."

These developments, noted Eichner, revealed to Israel the increased Chinese "interference" in the Middle East.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked in an interview with CNBC about it, and he said, 'We respect China, we deal with China a great deal but we also know that we have an indispensable alliance with our great friend the United States.' Military and security affairs commentator Ron Ben-Yishai pointed out that Washington considers Beijing a competitor and a major enemy in all economic and military fields, so it is concerning to Israel for China to strengthen its grip on the Middle East at the expense of the US, given that the US is Israel's sponsor in the region."

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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India, Iran and Armenia forms new trilateral to deepen regional relations

April 25th, 2023

The first trilateral consultations between the Foreign Affairs Ministry of India, Armenia, and Iran took place in Yerevan. MnatsakanSafaryan, the deputy foreign minister of Armenia, SeyedRasoul Mousavi, the assistant of the foreign minister of Iran, and JP Singh, the joint secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of India, led their respective delegations at the meeting.

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During the trilateral meeting between India, Armenia, and Iran, the participants also discussed the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). This is a freight corridor that connects India, Iran, and Russia, with the goal of reducing the time and cost of transporting cargo from Mumbai to Moscow. The INSTC agreement was originally signed in 2002 by Russia, Iran, and India and has since been expanded.

Armenia and India marked the 30th anniversary of their bilateral diplomatic relations in 2022. The two countries have maintained active political ties and effective cooperation within international organizations. The diplomatic relations between Armenia and India were established in 1992. In March 2022, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan visited India, while Defence Minister Suren Papikyan made a visit to the country in April of the same year. India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, visited Armenia in October 2021. India and Iran have a long-standing relationship that dates back many centuries, with both countries sharing a common cultural heritage. The Chabahar port in Iran has been instrumental in enhancing connectivity between the two nations.

Source: currentaffairs.adda247.com

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Arab World

 

Muslim World League Slams Swedish Parliamentary Panel Chief’s Remarks Offensive To Islam And Prophet

April 25, 2023

MAKKAH — The General Secretariat of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) condemned the statements made by the Chairman of the Justice Committee in the Swedish Parliament against the religion of Islam, the Holy Qur’an, and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa, secretary general of MWL and chairman of the Organization of Muslim Scholars, said in a statement that the recent attack on the religion of Islam was from someone, who is a prominent person, holding the chair of the Justice Committee in the Swedish parliament. This is a clear indication of the rise of extremism and Islamophobia in an official entity headed by this person.

Sheikh Al-Issa noted that Sweden enjoys excellent relations with the Islamic world, and the Swedish people are appreciated and respected by Muslims and are described as civilized and friendly people. In such a scenario, this abusive and immoral words only represent the person who expressed them and the entity headed by him.

The MWL statement emphasized that the insults made by the parliament member reflect his ignorance about the truthfulness of Islam, and these were based on concepts promoted by extremists, which are not related to the truthfulness of Islam and its tolerance in any way.

Al-Issa called on the benevolent people of Sweden to stand united in confronting the growing tendency that seeks to create a rift between Muslims and other members of Swedish society on the one hand, and between Sweden and the Islamic world on the other hand, saying that these trends are based on the concepts of extremism that tend to incite clashes and conflict between civilizations.

The MWL chief expressed hope that the Swedish consciousness, with its national and human values, believes in fraternity, love and mutual respect among the Swedish people and maintaining friendship between nations and peoples. He also highlighted the importance of strengthening the alliance between civilizations within the framework of their multiple commonalities.

Dr. Al-Issa considered that the insistence on practices that provoke hatred and insult religious feelings is unjustified under any pretext, whether it is against Islam or other religions, cultures and races. He rejected such practices even in the name of freedom as these are contrary to values of humanity. He also noted that the Muslims of Sweden love their country and are proud of it and prepared to offer sacrifices for it.

Dr. Al-Issa stressed that the parliament panel chief’s statements only serve the agendas of extremism to silence the voice of reason as it deals a blow to the efforts of rapprochement and building bridges between nations and peoples.

The MWL chief warned Muslims in Europe in general and in Sweden particular against being fallen in the trap of extremists who want to spread an atmosphere of mutual hatred among various segments of society, stressing that such anti-Islamic statements in turn must encourage Muslims to hold fast to their values that emphasize the necessity of building rather than destruction, rapprochement rather than disunity, and keenness in upholding the cohesion of societies. He also stressed the importance of rallying around the state in accordance with the constitution and laws of each country, whatever its identity.

Sheikh Al-Essa stated that Islam is against exchanging abuse for abuse and against any negative behavior in terms of words or deeds, including behavior that violates the laws, especially those that provoke hatred and escalation. “Such issues shall be dealt with wisdom in line with the fundamental principles advocated by the Holy Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”

The MWL chief also emphasized that Islam is a religion of truth that is not harmed by any sorts of provocation, and that followers of Islam who constitute around two billion believe in it as a religion of mercy and peace for the entire humanity.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/631906/SAUDI-ARABIA/MWL-slams-Swedish-parliamentary-panel-chiefs-remarks-offensive-to-Islam-and-Prophet

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World Bank Group President Thanks Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Helping Evacuate its Staff from Khartoum to Saudi Arabia

25 Apr, 2023

World Bank Group President David Malpass has expressed thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for the Kingdom’s contribution and support in evacuating the World Bank staff from Sudan to Saudi Arabia.

In a letter sent to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the World Bank Group president said: “We express our gratitude and appreciation for the generous support provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to our staff in Sudan. Saudi Arabia’s swift action and unwavering support have been truly remarkable.”

He also expressed appreciation for the Kingdom’s embassy and its staff in Khartoum for caring for the World Bank staff and their dependents, which, he said, is greatly appreciated in this time of great need.

Source: alriyadhdaily.com

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Shoura Council delegation starts official visit to Sweden

April 25, 2023

RIYADH: A delegation from the Shoura Council, headed by assistant to the Speaker of the Council, Hanan bint Abdulrahim Al-Ahmadi, started an official visit to the Kingdom of Sweden on Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Ahmadi said in a statement that, during the visit, the delegation will discuss parliamentary relations between the Shoura Council and the Swedish Parliament, ways of boosting and supporting their ties, while emphasizing Saudi Arabia's position towards various regional and international issues and the Kingdom’s pioneering role in supporting international peace and stability.

The meeting will tackle humanitarian aid efforts internationally by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) and its influential role in alleviating human suffering worldwide, the statement added.

Source: arabnews.com

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Costa Rica supports Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030

April 26, 2023

DUBAI: Costa Rica was the latest country to support Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the Expo 2030 in Riyadh.

“President of the Republic, Rodrigo Chaves announced Costa Rica’s official support for Saudi Arabia for Expo 2030. The announcement was made in a meeting with the investor mission of that country,” the Central American country’s foreign ministry said in a post on social media.

The Kingdom has been receiving huge support for its effort to bring one of the oldest and largest international events to the Saudi capital considering its advantage against rival bidders Odessa, Rome and Busan.

A team from the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – which holds the Expo events – recently visited Saudi Arabia for an enquiry mission where they looked into detailed presentations, toured the proposed Expo site and held dialogues with various stakeholders of the project proposal.

Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the BIE, said that the Kingdom has ‘everything needed’ to host a successful Expo 2030 at the culmination of their five-day visit, where they also met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We have seen a project strong from the very top, from His Royal Highness, all the way down to government, from every minister and every member of Saudi Arabia that we have met and have spoken to, all have an incredible support for this project.”

Source: arabnews.com

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King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah receives the largest evacuation yet from Sudan

April 26, 2023

RIYADH: A ship carrying another batch of evacuees from Sudan arrived in Jeddah early on Wednesday as the Saudi Arabian government continues efforts to move its citizens, as well as foreign nationals, into safety.

The ship transported 1,687 people from 58 nationalities from Port Sudan on east coast of Sudan on the Red Sea.

There were 46 Americans, 40 Britons, 11 Germans, 4 French, 13 Saudis, 560 Indonesians, 239 Yemenis, 198 Sudanese and 26 Turkish citizens on board the ship. The Saudi-flagged ship “Amana” docked at King Faisal Naval Base just before 5 a.m.

As passengers disembarked, they were welcomed by base officials and diplomatic authorities from various nationalities.

Saudi Arabia has received several rounds of evacuees by air and sea, starting with boats that arrived in Jeddah on Saturday carrying 150 people including foreign diplomats and officials.

On Monday, a C-130 Hercules military plane flew dozens of South Korean civilians to Jeddah’s King Abdullah Air Base, and a boat ferried nearly 200 people from 14 countries across the Red Sea from Port Sudan.

Dr. Abdulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations, earlier stressed on the importance of preserving the current truce in Sudan.

At the UN Security Council in New York, he said the Kingdom is working with all its partners to stabilize the truce in Sudan, praising the cooperation of the Sudanese parties to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.

Source: arabnews.com

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Why Saudi patents still matter for growth and innovation

RAWAN RADWAN

April 25, 2023

JEDDAH: Throughout modern history, revolutionary inventions have shaped societies, transformed economies and improved quality of life. Nowadays, protecting the intellectual property rights to such creations is considered a crucial driver of innovation. And it all starts with a patent.

In some industries, patents are essential, although they do not strictly protect the technology from being infringed upon by competitors. The merely provide legal recourse if someone does so.

For inventors and entrepreneurs, intellectual property in the form of patents, trademarks and copyrights can be especially valuable, as patent registration protects the invention from being marketed, promoted and sold by a second party.

It is difficult to say exactly how many patents have been filed throughout history. The first is thought to date back to 1421, when an architect in Florence named Filippo Brunelleschi developed a crane for transporting marble from the nearby Carrara mountains.

Others believe the first patent was awarded to an inventor named John of Utynam, a Flemish glassmaker, in 1449.

The Apple keyboard used to write this article is patented by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The laptop was granted a design patent and the programs and systems to deliver the electronic document are patented as well.

In 2021, annual global intellectual property filings for patents, trademarks and designs reached an all-time high, with 3.4 million patent applications filed, 67.6 percent of which came from Asia.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia established the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property, whose work was previously entrusted to the Saudi Ministry of Commerce. The move came as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reforms plan, which placed IP among its top priorities.

In 2022, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the National Intellectual Property Strategy, aimed at building an IP ecosystem that supports innovation and a creative economy by developing an IP value chain that stimulates innovation and competitiveness, while promoting economic growth to ensure Saudi Arabia becomes a leader in IP. Some $267 million was allocated to support the strategy, to be distributed over five years until 2028.

IP protection and patent filing are not new concepts in the Kingdom, however. Saudi Arabia joined the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1982. Although there were relatively few Saudi patents in the early 1980s, the sector has boomed.

In 2022, the number of Saudi patents filed shot up compared with 2021. Some 5,837 patent applications were filed at SAIP, representing a 46.7 percent increase on the previous year, when the number was 3,979.

Institutions filed 81.8 percent of all patent applications, while individuals filed 18.1 percent. About 43 percent of the applications filed were in chemistry, metallurgy, and human needs affiliated with the oil, gas and health sectors.

Saudi Aramco held the highest number of patents globally as of 2021, with more than 40,000 filed and 16,882 granted. According to SAIP, Aramco topped the list of the top five institutions in terms of the number of patent documents issued, with 31 percent.

Khalid Alashgar, patent manager and examiner at SAIP, told Arab News that one of the reasons for the growing number of patents filed and registered could be the Kingdom’s move toward industrial expansion.

He also attributed the increase to “Saudi Arabia’s support and encouragement of research institutions for innovation and bearing the financial costs and burdens of patent registration.”

Alashgar added: “The reason the number of filed applications is high and grants low is also because all patents are subject to review and examination. Some might be granted, others rejected based on technical reports and the grant condition must be met, including ‘innovation.’ Applicants must ensure that their patent has never been used before and can be manufacturable.”

He also said that some patents are dropped due to late annual payment or examination or publication fees, and “not all patent applications are granted.”

Every few years the number of patents increases depending on particular circumstances, said Alashgar. For instance, the number of patents and IP applications surged during the COVID-19 pandemic and were primarily vaccine-related.

Nowadays, many companies are exploring patents in new nanotechnologies. In 2022, the highest number of patent applications filed were in computer technology, followed by digital communications — two fields that have grown thanks to the rise of tech-savvy entrepreneurs.

Many inventions and innovations are created to serve humanity. For Dr. FirasAlqarawi, a dentist based in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, the thought of registering a patent was not even on his mind when he developed a method for better-fitting, ceramic, fixed partial dentures.

“It wasn’t until my supervisor pointed it out to me in grad school that I should patent this method,” Alqarawi told Arab News.

“I was finishing up my PhD at the time in the US and we were experimenting in the laboratory. Through trial and error, I found that the material used really held well and could be considered as a treatment method with long-term positive results that also saves time instead of starting a treatment plan from scratch.”

Doctors, inventors and entrepreneurs can use specific medical patents to protect a wide range of inventions, including drugs, devices, procedures and software. By giving such inventors a competitive edge, medical patents serve the essential purpose of promoting medical innovation.

Like many other technological fields, the medical industry enables its inventors to use patents and trade secrets to protect their innovations, providing them with the competitive advantage needed to build value and identity for their products or businesses.

“As with any treatment plan, all options are considered and that’s not to say that my patent is perfect,” said Alqarawi. “It is still in the initial phases and could be considered as an option for certain patients.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, nor is it a quick fix. The time and effort it takes to create something is worthy of a patent and as a doctor, I swore to do no harm and care for a patient’s well-being as a priority.”

Filed in 2015 at the US Patent and Trademark Office, it was only after several reviews that his patent was eventually granted in 2019. As with many patents, advancing to the manufacturing stage could take some time.

“With this patent granted, another is in the works as well, and as I’m back living and working in the Kingdom, I will be applying through SAIP,” said Alqarawi.

“I believe that many are aware of the importance of protecting their inventions.”

Source: arabnews.com

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Saudi railways carry more than 818,000 passengers during Ramadan

April 25, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High Speed Railway carried more than 818,000 passengers over 2,540 journeys during Ramadan, a 265 percent increase on the same period last year.

The figures, revealed by Saudi Arabia Railways, showed the number of daily trips operated during the holy month exceeded 115, with a commitment rate of more than 97 percent.

As part of its operational plan for Ramadan, the company increased the frequency of Haramain train services, providing more than 1 million seats through the line’s five stations.

SAR’s director general of marketing and corporate communications, Mohammed bin MuathHamidaddin, said the integrated action plan had been implemented in coordination with the Saudi-Spanish Train Project Co., the operator of the Haramain High Speed Railway, and relevant government agencies.

Source: arabnews.com

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Saudi Arabia: Mecca buses transported 7.5 million in Ramadan

April 25, 2023

Cairo: Public buses plying in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca transported over 7.5 million passengers during this Ramadan, an operator has said.

Millions of Muslims from inside and outside Saudi Arabia usually flock to Mecca home to Islam’s holiest site, to perform prayers and Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in Ramadan.

The buses, operating along 12 routes, made 4,100 journeys on average per day during Ramadan, transporting around 258,500 users daily, the Mecca Public Buses Transportation Project said in an overview.

The buses operated over 120,000 journeys during the lunar month, which ended on Thursday.

Ramadan usually marks the peak of Umrah season at the Grand Mosque, particularly in the last 10 days of the month.

Saudi authorities described this season as exceptional, citing record numbers of the faithful thronging the Grand Mosque in Ramadan.

The number of worshippers at the site reached more than 22 million in the first 20 days of Ramadan, according to official Saudi figures.

In recent months, the kingdom has unveiled a host of facilities for Muslims wishing to come to the country to perform Umrah.

In October 2020, Saudi Arabia gradually resumed Umrah after about seven months of suspension due to COVID-19. In August 2021, overseas Muslims wishing to perform Umrah were allowed back into Saudi Arabia under certain health conditions to curb COVID-19 spread.

In March last year, Saudi Arabia lifted most anti-coronavirus restrictions. This included scrapping physical distancing among worshippers at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mohammed Mosque.

Source: gulfnews.com

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Sharjah Ramadan Festival 2023 sales exceed $81.6mln

April 25, 2023

The 33rd Sharjah Ramadan Festival wrapped up another successful edition on Monday, after revitalising the retail sector and markets in the emirate of Sharjah.

Throughout the holy month of Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr celebrations, the festival offered residents and visitors exceptional shopping and entertainment experiences in malls and popular destinations. With a plethora of promotions, significant discounts, valuable prizes, and an entertaining atmosphere, the festival achieved tremendous success and left a lasting impact on those who attended.

This year's Festival, organised by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), exceeded sales expectations, generating approximately AED300 million and achieving a growth rate of 20 percent. This success has further cemented Sharjah's leading position as a global destination for shopping and entertainment.

Attracting a diverse range of consumers and shoppers from various backgrounds and nationalities, the festival featured enticing offers and discounts tailored to meet their needs.

Additionally, numerous entertaining events were held, enriching the overall experience and contributing to the festival's popularity. The event has also boosted the retail sector's momentum in Sharjah, showcasing the Emirate's ability to provide a vibrant and engaging atmosphere for visitors and residents alike.

"The remarkable success of the 33rd Sharjah Ramadan Festival, in terms of both sales volume and attracting thousands of shoppers, reaffirms the event's status as one of the region's most significant festivals." "Its crucial role in bolstering the retail sector and providing strong support to Sharjah's economy further solidifies the emirate's standing among the world's premier shopping destinations," Mohammad Ahmed Amin Al Awadi, Director-General of SCCI, said.

Source: zawya.com

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Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 12.7m amphetamine pills

April 25, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi authorities in the Jeddah region have thwarted an attempt to smuggle more than 12.7 million amphetamine pills, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

Col. Marwan Al-Hazmi, official spokesman for the General Directorate of Border Guard, said: “The security monitoring of drug smuggling and promotion networks resulted in the seizure of 12,729,000 amphetamine tablets concealed in a pomegranate shipment at Jeddah Islamic Port.”

The drug bust, which was coordinated with the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, resulted in the arrest of four expats, two Egyptians, one Syrian, and one Yemeni.

Source: arabnews.com

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UAE launches Domestic Dirhams Islamic Treasury Sukuk with size of AED1.1 billion

ABU DHABI, 26th April, 2023 (WAM) -- The UAE, represented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) as the issuer and in collaboration with the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) as the issuing and paying agent, has announced launching a dirham- denominated Islamic Treasury Sukuk (T-Sukuk), with a benchmark auction size of AED1.1 billion.

Mohamed bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, reaffirmed the UAE's keenness to strengthen the Islamic economy and build a pioneering investment infrastructure to boost the Islamic economy as one of the key pillars of the national economy.

Al Hussaini said, “The Ministry of Finance cooperates with all its partners, foremostly the Central Bank of the UAE, to attract investments and deploy them in Islamic economy channels. The T-Sukuk are Sharia-compliant financial certificates, and they will be traded to reflect the local return on investment, support economic diversification and financial inclusion, and contribute to achieving comprehensive and sustainable economic and social development goals.”

Additionally, he emphasised that issuing the T-Sukuk in local currency will contribute to building a local currency bond market, diversifying financing resources, boosting the local financial and banking sector, and providing safe investment alternatives for local and foreign investors.

He also noted that this issuance will help build the UAE Dirham-denominated yield curve, thereby strengthening the local financial market and developing the investment environment.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of CBUAE, emphasised the importance of issuing Islamic treasury sukuk in developing local sukuk markets, diversifying financing resources, and strengthening the infrastructure to support investment options and alternatives that are compatible with the provisions of Islamic Sharia, to develop the Islamic financial sector, improve the investment environment, and solidify the UAE's position as a leading global hub in the Islamic finance sector.

He added, “The issuance of Islamic treasury sukuk comes within the UAE's commitment to developing capital market activities and consolidating its position as a global financial hub. This issuance reaffirms the strength and stability of the financial system and the confidence of local and international investors in the UAE's ability to develop the financial sector following monetary policies and strategic plans.”

Balama noted, “With the development of an effective infrastructure for the financial markets, we are confident that this issuance will contribute to supporting the market for bonds denominated in the local currency and issued by the public sector in the country. It will also enhance the competitiveness of the local financial markets and enable market participants in the UAE to maintain a single, transparent, diversified and sustainable liquidity pool in Dirhams.

Furthermore, it will contribute to the implementation of the new Dirham Monetary Framework (DMF) and support the ongoing work to establish the Dirham risk-free pricing benchmark (yield curve), which would stimulate more domestic market activities to support the sustainability of the country's economic growth."

The T-Sukuk will be issued initially in 2/3/5-year tenures; followed by a 10-year sukuk later, and will be denominated in UAE dirhams to develop the local bonds debt market and help develop the mid-term yield curve.

The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of the UAE work with relevant government entities and international financial bodies to ensure best practices are followed when structuring the T-Sukuk. This allows for further development of Islamic finance in the country and cements its position as an international Islamic economy hub.

The structuring of Islamic Sukuk has been approved by the Higher Shari'ah Authority at the CBUAE, which cooperates with the relevant authorities to standardise and unify the practices of Islamic financial institutions to be compatible with internationally recognised Shariah standards and best practices.

The Ministry of Finance has published a robust Primary Dealers code and onboarded eight banks, namely Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), HSBC, Mashreq and Standard Chartered as Primary Dealers to participate in the T-Sukuk primary market auction and to actively develop the secondary market.

Source: wam.ae

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https://www.wam.ae/en/details/1395303150938

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South Asia

 

Taliban Consulted Gen Bajwa Before Asking India to Send Diplomats Back to Kabul: New BookTitled ‘The Return of the Taliban’

April 26, 2023

The book, titled ‘The Return of the Taliban’, is authored by Hassan Abbas, who teaches international relations at the National Defence University (NDU), Washington and will be released in the US later this week. Dawn reported.

“India’s return to Kabul could not have happened without Pakistan, and Pakistan acted this way because it just might open up prospects of some aid for the Taliban in Afghanistan,” Abbas writes, arguing that Islamabad is as desperate about getting financial support to run Afghanistan as the Taliban themselves.

India has strategic interests in Afghanistan, the book argues. However, it points out that once the Taliban took over in August 2021, India cut off diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, unlike Russia and China.

Meanwhile, India is now reassessing its position and moving towards a balancing act to engage with the Taliban, while the Taliban’s desire is “international legitimacy and recognition.”

Kabul’s new rulers also need “huge external investments… to reconstruct and revive the country”, and India has the resources to do so, it says.

Since the Taliban came to power, relations with India have been improving again.

India has sent a team from its embassy to Kabul, and meanwhile, India is again providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

However, India has reiterated the security concern and the growing of militants, such as Daesh and others. At the same time, the de facto authorities deny the allegations and say they will not allow any group or individual to use Afghanistan soil against neighbouring countries.

Source: khaama.com

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Afghan Refugees Told By UK Home Office They Will Have To Find Their Own Accommodation

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Afghan evacuees who were brought to the UK after the fall of Kabul have been told not everyone will be found somewhere to live by the government.

A Home Office letter - seen by Sky News - has been sent out telling them the majority of the 8,000 people still in hotels will have to find their own accommodation.

The Government has become frustrated that some evacuees have turned down offers of housing - those who have said they do not want to move to an area they do not know or that the housing on offer is not big enough for their families.

It's unclear how many offers have actually been made.

ShararehSarwari, 19, who was a journalist in Afghanistan and came to the UK in October last year on a resettlement scheme, told us she feels abandoned.

She said: "I feel like a homeless woman because I'm young and I came alone. It's so hard for me, and I can't find a job. They don't have any plan for Afghan refugees."

The letter applies to those still living in hotels who were airlifted out of Kabul in August 2021 or have since been relocated to the UK.

Unlike asylum seekers, Afghan evacuees can work and the government says it is time for them to move on and fully integrate into British society.

The letter reads: "If you do receive an allocated property, we recommend that you accept it. If you refuse, no further allocations of settled accommodation will be made and you will need to find your own accommodation.

"It is likely that most people will not receive an allocation through the new process, and we encourage you to find your own accommodation wherever possible."

The letter goes on to advise people to look at property websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla and states that help will be on offer from the Home Office to guide them.

We spoke to several evacuees relocated to Hertfordshire who claimed they had not received any offers of accommodation so far and that they were struggling to arrange renting a property due to a lack of credit history.

Waheed Manan was airlifted out of Afghanistan with his wife and three children in the summer of 2021.

The 44-year-old was an electrical engineer in Afghanistan, an adviser to an Afghan minister and now works part-time in a shop. He said his children are finally settled in school after the trauma of the Taliban takeover.

Waheed said he wants to move on because living in a hotel without a permanent address makes it difficult to secure another job. But he claims he has viewed 25 properties and has not been accepted for any of them.

He said: "We cannot find a property that's suitable to rent. We're living in this area and we know the area. The children have been going to school and they've made some friends."

Mohammed Jomegol, 45, has worked in the UK as a taxi driver since 2015.

He said he was living between the UK and Afghanistan when the Taliban re-took control and was evacuated back to Britain. He has held a British passport since 2007.

Mohammed brought his wife and four children with him but insists he needs to stay living in a hotel.

He said: "If the British government doesn't support us how am I going to support myself?

"I'm looking every day but it's hard. My income is not enough."

After leaving "bridging" accommodation in the UK, Afghan evacuees have the same access to benefits and social housing as British citizens.

The Home Office says "hotels are not, and were never designed to be, suitable long-term accommodation for Afghans resettled in the UK" and that more than 9,000 Afghans have now been supported into homes.

But of the 8,000 Afghan evacuees still in hotels, around half are children and around half have been living in a hotel for more than a year.

The Home Office says that dedicated staff are on hand to offer guidance to Afghan evacuees on how to rent.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We have announced a plan, backed by £285m of new funding, to speed up the resettlement of Afghans into long-term homes."

"Where available, the Government will continue to make offers of suitable housing, which we strongly encourage Afghan families to accept. Where an offer cannot be made or is rejected, increased Government support is available to help Afghans find their own homes and begin rebuilding their lives here."

Source: news.sky.com

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Bangladesh unveils Indo-Pacific Strategy; expert says it is still trying to placate China

April 25, 2023

Ahead of her tri-nation visit Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has unveiled a 15 point outlook policy document on Indo Pacific. “This is a clear signal to all QUAD member nations (India, Japan, Australia and the US) that Dhaka is now willing to work with them to support a rule based international regime,” says a Bangladesh commentator.

The policy which envisions a free, secure, open, peaceful inclusive Indo-Pacific comes on the eve of Bangladesh PM’s visit to Japan, the US and the United Kingdom.

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Gautam Lahiri, a senior journalist and Bangladesh commentator, says, “Over the years Dhaka pursued a non aligned foreign policy. But it appears to be moving closer to a full embrace of the Indo-Pacific Strategy pursued by the United States and its partners in the region, which revolves around countering China.”

According to him, “Dhaka’s move for shifting its foreign should be seen through the prism of Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s grand plan for free and open Indo Pacific announced last month in Delhi. It emphasises building an economic zone encompassing Bengal North East in cooperation with Bangladesh .This zone will create an industrial value chain which attracted Dhaka to fulfill their aim to make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041.”

This month, UK Indo-Pacific Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan also visited Bangladesh.

Chinese Influence

“China has stepped up its own influence in Bangladesh through infrastructure loans, which the US officials have privately described as bad deals for Dhaka,” opines Lahiri. In his view, “China’s rivals also worry about its expanded naval presence in the western part of the Indian Ocean region, including its military base off Djibouti. All of this lies in Bangladesh’s maritime neighborhood. China is also a major supplier of arms to Bangladesh. So getting Dhaka’s buy-in to the US Indo-Pacific vision would be a strategic victory.”

Even as Bangladesh embraces the Indo-Pacific Strategy, it is still trying to placate China, he says. “Dhaka’s own draft Indo-Pacific Outlook stipulates that it seeks to avoid rivalries and has no security goals. Observers note that calling it an “outlook” rather than a “policy” or “strategy” has a softer connotation,” he points out.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations—which includes many states that have cordial relations with China—opted for the same term in its own Indo-Pacific statement. Dhaka has also not indicated that it would join the Quad.

QUAD Leaders Summit next month

The Maritime focused Indo-Pacific Strategy of Bangladesh comes ahead of the QUAD Leaders Summit scheduled to take place in Australia next month in Australia.  The meeting will take place soon after the G7 Summit in Tokyo.

Some highlights of Bangladesh Strategy

It states that it will work with all the stakeholders  for counter-terrorism, peace-building and peacekeeping initiatives in the Indo-Pacific Region.

The policy supports “Rules-based International Order” and also “Free and Uninterrupted Movement and Trade”.

In 2017 the US had announced its Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) and this centered around the Pacific and Indian Ocean. Japan, India and Australia joined this strategic initiative. The US has called Bangladesh to join in its Indo-Pacific Strategy back in 2018.

It has already been reported that countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia, and ASEAN countries have clarified their position on the Indo-Pacific region. And the UK, France, Germany, Canada (recently and the European Union too have clarified their position on the Indo-Pacific.

Source: financialexpress.com

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https://www.financialexpress.com/business/defence-bangladesh-unveils-indo-pacific-strategy-expert-says-it-is-still-trying-to-placate-china-3062557/

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A decade after Rana Plaza, Bangladesh garment workers fight on

April 26, 2023

DHAKA: Their factories are safer, but many Bangladeshis stitching clothes for big Western brands say they still face dire pay and working conditions 10 years since more than 1,100 garment workers died in the Rana Plaza collapse.

A few blocks from the site of the disaster, one of the worst ever industrial accidents, Ripon Das earns 15,000 taka ($141) per month for working a seven-day week as a machine operator. As his family’s sole breadwinner, it is nowhere near enough.

“I choose to work overtime without holidays to supplement my scant wages,” said Ripon, 27, whose sister had to resign from her job at the same factory after falling ill because she was not entitled to paid sick leave.

While labor advocates say safety has improved significantly in the world’s second-largest clothing exporter since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, they say progress on better pay and conditions — from sick pay to insurance benefits — has been far slower.

As annual inflation running close to 10 percent hikes living costs, union leaders representing the sector’s 4 million workers are demanding a raise in the sector’s minimum wage to 23,000 taka from the 8,000 taka fixed in 2018 and revised every five years.

“Earlier I could buy food items for two to three days with just 100 taka, but now I can’t afford the same items with even 500,” said Jolly Akter, 27, a union leader who works as a garment quality inspector.

A spokesperson for the government-led minimum wage board — which also includes factory owners and labor representatives — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Global fashion brands that source goods from Bangladesh should support the workers’ pay demands, said Christie Miedema from the Clean Clothes Campaign, a global alliance of trade unions and non-government organizations.

She also urged them to back another key demand — insurance cover for workers who are injured while doing their jobs — following the government’s launch of a pilot last year.

Miedema said brands should factor in the costs related to the injury insurance scheme in the sales price of their garments, and that the pilot should turn into a permanent system enshrined in the country’s labor laws.

The site where the eight-story Rana Plaza building once stood is now an open field, overgrown with lush greenery. A small cement sculpture depicting a clenched fist holding a hammer and sickle commemorates the victims of the disaster.

Rajib Das, 27, whose brother was killed in the collapse of the building on April 24, 2013, often visits the site.

“Sanjit – just two years older than me and my closest sibling – supported me as I was the only one from the family to pursue higher education,” he said.

The family received a one-off compensation payment under a deal between the government and brands that sourced from the collapsed factories, but Rajib said there was no long-term program to help survivors and victims’ families to recover.

More than $30 million was paid out as compensation to the victims, but the payments concluded in 2015.

The lack of adequate social protection schemes in Bangladesh meant many injured Rana Plaza survivors were left to fend for themselves, said Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers Federation, a trade union.

“Many of the survivors are struggling to find a decent livelihood,” he said.

About 2,500 people were injured in the garment industry’s deadliest recorded incident, many of them seriously.

The disaster put pressure on global brands to improve factory conditions, and substantial safety improvements have been made, labor advocates and industry leaders say.

“The Rana Plaza collapse was the never again moment for Bangladesh’s garment sector,” said Amin from the garment workers federation.

About 200 fashion brands, including top names like H&M and Zara, formed an agreement on fire and building safety called Accord that involved government officials, factory owners and labor leaders.

The legally binding Accord held thousands of inspections and banned unsafe factories from supplying its signatory buyers, helping make some 1,600 factories safer for 2 million workers, according to labor activists.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2292916/world

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India-Bangladesh Border Forces Unite Siblings for Heartfelt Farewell

APRIL 25, 2023

In a heart-touching tale of compassion, a sister was granted a final meeting with her deceased brother across the border. The Indian and Bangladeshi border forces came together to let a sister pay her last respects to her late brother.

On April 23, 2023, AminuddinDafadar from the border village of Hariharpur approached the commander of Border Out Post Madhupur, 68 Battalion, with a request to allow Sabar Khan’s sister living in Bangladesh to pay her last respects to her late brother.

The Indian border official contacted his Bangladeshi counterpart to facilitate the meeting, after which, both sides agreed to make arrangements to let the sister see her brother one last time. The Border Guard Force and the BSF were hailed for honouring the family’s final wishes.

A BSF Spokesperson said, “We protect the border day and night without any reluctance. In addition to the security of the country, we also uphold the religious and social values of the border dwellers. The BSF is always ready to extend help in situations that require compassion and empathy."

The Border Security Force, known for guarding against nefarious motives, has demonstrated its commitment to humanity and values.

Source: news18.com

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https://www.news18.com/india/india-bangladesh-border-forces-unite-siblings-for-heartfelt-farewell-7637059.html

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US Envoy Says “No Normalization of Relations with the Taliban”

April 25, 2023

Amiri tweeted, “I have received messages expressing concern regarding recognition of the Taliban. We remain clear. There will be no normalization of relations with the Taliban without respect for the rights of all Afghan, especially women.”

The remarks by the US envoy came after the UN Deputy Chief said that the organization would conduct a conference to discuss the possibility of the Taliban government’s recognition by the international community.

Earlier, the US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said that the UN meeting’s agenda was never to discuss the recognition of

The Taliban government.

Patel said, “The intent and the purpose of this meeting was never to discuss recognition of the Taliban, and any discussion at this meeting about recognition would be unacceptable to us.”

Meanwhile, the UN will conduct an international conference on May 1, 2 to discuss the situation of Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com

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Pakistan

 

Massive protest in Pakistan’s Gwadar on Eid demanding release of missing persons

26 April, 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], April 26 (ANI): A massive protest rally was taken out on the occasion of Eid, in Pakistan’s Gwadar, demanding the release of missing persons including many political activists, Pakistan vernacular media reported.

According to Intekhab Daily, a large number of people took part in the protest rally demanding the release of Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman Baloch and Mahil Baloch.

Hussain Wadela, President of ‘Give Rights Movement’ (Haq Do Tehreek), Deputy Organiser YakubJuski, Gwadar organiser Akram Fida, sister of missing Azeem Baloch said that Maulana Hidayat ur Rahman Baloch has been behind bars for past three months for demanding rights, as per Intekhab Daily.

The protesters demanded the release of Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman Baloch and Mahil Baloch and the recovery of all the missing persons, according to Pak vernacular media outlet Intekhab Daily.

Haq Do Tehreek (Give Rights Movement) had earlier said Balochistan has been made hell for political activists, according to Pakistan vernacular media Qudrat.

On April 19, Haq Do Tehreek had announced that protest rallies for the release of Maulana Hidayatur Rahman and Mahil Baloch and the recovery of missing persons would be taken out across Balochistan.

The movement’s spokesperson Hafiz Kayani said that the situation in Balochistan is worse than in Palestine, according to Qudrat.

Geo News recently reported that the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has sounded alarm over growing public frustration pertaining to enforced disappearances, economic exclusion, curbs on press freedom, misgovernance and allegations of political manipulation by the establishment in Balochistan.

A fact-finding mission led by HRCP in October 2022 said that a palpable sense of anger was seen among ordinary citizens, many of whom even called Balochistan as a ‘colony’ of the state during meetings with the organisation, as per the news report.

The mission raised concern about the state’s widespread use of enforced disappearances to stop dissent, a grievance echoed in numerous conversations, as per the Geo News report. The discontent has been exacerbated by the extensive presence of paramilitary check-posts, which people have said has caused a climate of fear, particularly in Makran.

Balochistan continues to be deprived of its fair share of revenues from large development projects initiated by China through CPEC amid the serious economic downtown, Geo News reported, adding that the mission also observed that the absence of a healthy legal trading ecosystem between Balochistan and Pakistan’s neighbouring nations has enhanced poverty levels in the province. (ANI)

Source: theprint.in

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Emaan Islamic Banking and TPL Insurance join hands to launch Emaan All-in-One Account

April 26, 2023

LAHORE-Emaan Islamic Banking, a division of Silk Bank Limited, and TPL Insurance Limited - Window Takaful Operation, have announced the launch of their latest offering, the Emaan All-in-One Account. The account is tailored to cater to the needs of new-to-bank customers and existing Emaan account holders.

The Emaan All-in-One Account is the ultimate power bundle for clients because of its abundance of features, advantages, and free safeguards. Due to the numerous value-added services it provides to its customers, this account distinguishes apart from most retail-based banks. Customers of Emaan Islamic Banking who maintain an average balance of at least Rs. 100,000 can benefit from complimentary value-added services from TPL Insurance - WTO, including health, life, and travel takaful. TPL Insurance - Window Takaful Operation is pleased to be collaborating with Emaan Islamic Banking, as a Takaful solution provider for their All-in-One Account. Through this partnership, TPL Insurance - WTO aims to provide Emaan Islamic Banking customers with the experience of real-time and hassle-free coverages and claim-to-service.

Speaking on the occasion, Aurangzeb J. Siddiqui – Head of FIG, TPL Insurance said, “Through our collaboration with Emaan Islamic Banking – (A division of Silk Bank Limited), our focus is to reach large audiences to build awareness and usage of our innovative takaful solutions. Moreover, through its Insurtech platforms, TPL Insurance – Window Takaful Operation intends to provide Emaan Islamic Banking customers with the experience of real-time and hassle-free coverages and claim servicing.’’

This collaboration between Emaan Islamic Banking and TPL Insurance - WTO will enable customers to opt for complimentary takaful coverages while enjoying several free-of-charge transactional benefits. The account is digitized, making it the first of its kind in Pakistan to offer the fastest claim processing.

“We are excited to start this new journey with TPL Insurance - WTO by adding innovative and rewarding solutions for our customers. This collaboration will enable our customers to opt for complimentary takaful coverage while enjoying several free-of-charge transactional benefits. Silkbank Limited is committed to continuously strengthening its retail product suit with a laser-sharp focus on service delivery and innovative products,” said Naveed Mushtaq, Head of Consumer Banking, Marketing & Phone Banking at Emaan Islamic Banking.

Adding to the conversation, Syed Fahim Hassan, Head of Emaan Islamic Banking, said, “Emaan All-in-One Account is tailored to be an ultimate power-packed account that provides various complimentary protections and transactional benefits for their customers. Unlike most retail-based banks which are not offering many value-added features to their customers, this alliance will allow individuals to maintain an average balance of Rs. 100,000 and above with Emaan Islamic Banking (A division of Silk Bank Limited) to avail FOC value-added features such as health, life, and travel takaful via TPL Insurance - WTO. Being digitized, it would be the first of its kind on accounts with the fastest claim processing.”

Source: nation.com.pk

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https://www.nation.com.pk/26-Apr-2023/emaan-islamic-banking-and-tpl-insurance-join-hands-to-launch-emaan-all-in-one-account

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COAS Asim Munir, Chinese army commander discuss security, military cooperation

April 26, 2023

The army chief, who is in China on a four-day official visit, arrived in the neighbouring country on Tuesday.

In a press release issued today, the military’s media wing said that upon his arrival at the PLA headquarters, the COAS was warmly welcomed and presented with a guard of honour.

“The COAS reviewed the smartly turned out contingent which was later followed by a detailed meeting with the Commander of the PLA Army,” it said.

During the meeting, the two military commanders reaffirmed the need to maintain peace and stability in the region while promoting military-to-military cooperation, the ISPR stated.

The army chief also observed a demonstration of the PLA troops’ operational capabilities and commended the high standards of training and professionalism demonstrated by the soldiers.

COAS Munir’s four-day visit to China includes a series of meetings with military leaders aimed at strengthening the longstanding relations between the two armed forces, the military’s media affairs wing said.

These inaugural meetings are expected to be followed by further discussions on enhancing military cooperation and promoting greater collaboration in the areas of defence and security, it added.

This is COAS Munir’s fourth overseas visit ever since he took charge as the army chief. Earlier this year, he undertook a week-long official visit to UAE and Saudi Arabia and held meetings with the top leadership of the Gulf states.

During the visit, the officials reviewed Pakistan’s bilateral ties with the two countries and discussed ways to strengthen the relations.

Later in February, the COAS visited the United Kingdom for meetings on defence-related issues. He also attended a conference at Wilton Park, an executive agency created by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office to foster open dialogue between governments.

Source: dawn.com

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Ship carrying 37 Pakistanis from Sudan port reaches Jeddah: FO

April 26, 2023

“Evacuation plan for Pakistani nationals in Sudan continues. The ship carrying 37 Pakistani nationals from Port Sudan arrives in Jeddah,” it said in a tweet.

“They were received by CG in Jeddah, Khalid Majid on arrival at Jeddah Port. We are grateful to the Government of KSA for its support & hospitality,” the FO added.

According to the Saudi Arabia Foreign Ministry, the boat with 1,687 civilians from more than 50 countries arrived in the kingdom today, which is the largest rescue effort by the Gulf state to date.

The group was “transported by one of the Kingdom’s ships, and the Kingdom was keen to provide all the basic needs of foreign nationals in preparation for their departure,” it said in a statement.

Fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15 between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed HamdanDaglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

At least 459 people had been killed and more than 4,000 as of Tuesday across Africa’s third-biggest country, according to UN agencies.

A three-day US-brokered ceasefire between the warring generals brought some calm to the capital on Tuesday, but witnesses reported fresh air strikes and paramilitaries claimed to have seized a major oil refinery and power plant.

Saudi Arabia has received several rounds of evacuees by air and sea, starting with boats that arrived in Jeddah on Saturday carrying 150 people including foreign diplomats and officials.

On Monday, a C-130 Hercules military plane flew dozens of South Korean civilians to Jeddah’s King Abdullah Air Base, and a boat ferried nearly 200 people from 14 countries across the Red Sea from Port Sudan.

Thirteen of the civilians who arrived on Wednesday were Saudi, while the rest came from countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and North and Central America, the foreign ministry statement said.

All told, 2,148 people have been evacuated to the kingdom from Sudan so far, including more than 2,000 foreigners, the statement added.

A day earlier, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said that more than 200 Pakistanis were evacuated to safety in chaos-torn Sudan, bringing the total number of rescued nationals to 700.

“In keeping with the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to lead in the relief and rescue of Pakistanis in Sudan. Today, another convoy carrying 211 Pakistanis dispatched from Khartoum has arrived in Port Sudan,” the minister said in a statement.

Shaky ceasefire

The ceasefire between Sudan’s warring generals entered its second day today but remained fragile after witnesses reported fresh air strikes and paramilitaries claimed to have seized a major oil refinery and power plant.

“The pause was not fully upheld, with attacks on headquarters, attempts to gain ground, air strikes, and explosions in different areas of the capital,” UN Special Representative Volker Perthes told the Security Council a day earlier.

Perthes said he maintained contact with both generals: army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy-turned-rival, Mohamed HamdanDaglo, who commands the heavily armed paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

“There is yet no unequivocal sign that either is ready to seriously negotiate,” Perthes said.

Security fears were compounded when the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of a “huge biological risk” after fighters occupied a Khartoum laboratory holding samples of cholera, measles, polio and other infectious diseases.

Source: dawn.com

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Africa

 

You’re free to live, do your business anywhere, Peter Obi assures Muslims

By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka

26-04-23

THE presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the February 25 election and former governor of Anambra State,Mr. Peter Obi has assured Moslems that they are free to live and carry out their business in any part of the country because Nigeria belongs to everyone, irrespective of religion or tribe.

Obi, who addressed Moslem faithful at the Central Mosque, Onitsha during his Salah visit to them on Sunday, also assured them that nobody would give them any problem in Onitsha.

He recalled that when he became governor of Anambra State in 2006, the Onitsha Central Mosque was demolished and he rebuilt it, adding that he would also retouch it to modernize it to ensure that people worship in a conducive atmosphere.He said: “As Nigerians, you’re free to live anywhere. I’m living with you here in Onitsha and if anyone disturbs you, inform me, but I’m sure nobody will disturb you.

“Nigerians are free to live anywhere in their country without discrimination and here in Onitsha, you are free to carry out your businesses without molestation.

“I am a Nigerian who truly believes in Nigeria. I have never discriminated against anybody on the basis of religion or tribe and I will never do that.

“Recall that when you had problem when I was governor, I visited you at the Army Barracks where you were staying for safety and attended to your needs.

“As your neighbour in Onitsha, I will continue to support the Moslem community in the area of education, health and ensure freedom of worship.

“Do not mind all the negative campaigns that Peter Obi does not like the North or South or East because it is not true. When I was governor, I never treated any Moslem as if I do not like him. My ADC as governor was a Moslem and a Moslem is running my business. I also have a lot of friends in the north.”

The secretary of Arewa Community in Anambra State, Mahmud Imam said they would never forget how Peter Obi assisted them during their difficult times, noting that it was for that reason that the Moslem community in Anambra State supported and voted overwhelmingly for him during the last presidential election.

He said: “You became a governor at a time we were in a very difficult situation in Anambra State in 2006 and you showed love to us.

“Apart from rebuilding our Mosque, you were sponsoring many Moslem to pilgrimage to Mecca. You also brought the Sultan of Sokoto to Anambra State and throughout your tenure as governor, you were celebrating Salah with us at the Governor’s Lodge.”

He informed Obi that the Moslem community will continue to support the Obidient Movement which he said, “has come to stay throughout Nigeria”.

Source: vanguardngr.com

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https://www.vanguardngr.com/2023/04/youre-free-to-live-do-your-business-anywhere-peter-obi-assures-moslems/

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‘No governor has taken us to Mecca since Obi left office’ – Miyetti Allah chair

April 25, 2023

The Zonal Chairman of Miyetti Allah in the state, AlhajiGidadoSiddik disclosed this when Obi paid Sallah homage to them at the Awka Central Mosque on Monday.

AlhajiSiddik explaining why the former Governor was invited to their Mosque, noted that it was ‘to fraternize with him as they always did in the past, and to encourage him on his journey to New Nigeria, not minding the falsehoods peddled against him.

According to AlhajiSiddik, they had wanted to visit Mr. Peter Obi at his house in Onitsha, but on receiving their invitation, Obi offered to visit them at the mosque and celebrate Eid el Fitr with them.

Speaking at the Central Mosque in Awka during Obi’s visit, the Zonal Chairman of Miyetti Allah, AlhajiGidado recalled that Obi never failed to celebrate their sallah with them when he was the Governor of the State, a ritual he continued after. He praised Obi for his visible contributions to the development of their Community over the years.

Gidado stated that under Obi’s administration as Governor, many of their children received scholarships and many of their members were sponsored for pilgrimage to Mecca by Obi, and since Obi left office, that tradition ended. “No Governor has sponsored any of us to Mecca since Obi left office,” Gidado said.

He continued, “Some of our members applied for agricultural loans under Peter Obi’s administration, and they were approved, without knowing us in person. Such a thing has never happened. Obi treated us like indigenes and made us feel at home in Anambra. He did not segregate between Muslims and Christians nor between Northerners and Easterners.”

The Leader of the Awka Muslim Community, Alhaji Garba Sarki, in his remarks, noted that the many lies told by traducers to tarnish Obi’s image in the North are sad. He said he was willing to tell the whole world who Obi is, and how he has helped their community to grow in the State. He said that the Muslim Community in Awka supported Obi’s bid for the presidency because they know and understand the kind of person he is and how prepared he is to change the trajectory of the nation.

The LP Presidential standard bearer Obi appreciated the Community for their love and support and urged the people to resist any attempt to divide the nation along religious and tribal lines.

He maintained that a prosperous economy will be beneficial both to Christians and Muslims, and as such, all should join hands to make the nation better. He called on Nigerians to continue to love and support one another for a better nation.

Obi who was accompanied by Chief Celestine Okoye (Retd DIG), the House of Representatives- elect, Prof. ObyOrogbu, and his former Commissioners, namely: Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna; Barr. Peter Afuba, SAN; Mr. NdubisiMenakaya; Dr. Patrick Obi; Lady Henrietta Agbata; Mr. Fidel Okafor as well as House of Assembly member-elect, Hon. Henry Mbachu presented his material and cash gifts to the Community and wished them well.

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Source: hallmarknews.com

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https://hallmarknews.com/no-governor-has-taken-us-to-mecca-since-obi-left-office-miyetti-allah-chair/

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Why I close my nightclub during Ramadan— Shina Peller

25th April 2023

By TofaratiIge

A member of the House of Representatives, and founder of the popular Quilox nightclub on Victoria Island, Lagos State, Shina Peller, has said that the period of Ramadan is one of rebirth, and that is why the establishment, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary later in the week, is always closed for one month at that time of the year.

In a statement sent to The PUNCH, Peller, who represents the Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Iwajowa/Kajola (Oyo State) Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber, said, “Chaos, they say, precedes order. On April 28, 2023, Club Quilox is coming back from its annual break.

The break of over one month is usually a time to revamp the space, unlearn old ways and learn new ones, creating an environment with better service and experience for guests.

“It is a thing of joy to start something and keep at it. Consistency is what transforms average into excellence. 10 seasons is a big milestone, and this year, we will also be celebrating our 10th anniversary.

“For me this is a dream come true, and I can’t wait to watch my ‘baby’ cross this milestone.”

Performers expected at the club’s one-decade anniversary include Patoranking, DJ Hazan, DJ FunkyBee, DJ Zeal, DJ Haykay; and comedian, Ushbebe.

Source: punchng.com

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https://punchng.com/why-i-close-my-nightclub-during-ramadan-shina-peller/

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Rite Foods urges refreshing moments for Muslims with its quality brands for Eid el-Fitri celebration

APRIL 25, 2023

From CyriacusNnaji, Lagos

Rite Foods Limited, the market leader in the food and beverage sector of the Nigerian economy, with arrays of quality brands, admonishes Islamic believers to have rejuvenating moments with its award-winning brands as they celebrate this year’s Eid el-Fitri festival, to mark the successful completion of the one-month fasting during Ramadan.

Ramadan fasting, which is the period of penitence and self-denial, is in fulfilment of the fourth pillar of Islam, observed annually by Muslim Faithful, globally, as enshrined in Islam.

Commending Muslims for their uprightness and excellent conduct during Ramadan which has led to the Eid el-Fitri celebration, Rite Foods’ Managing Director, Mr. SeleemAdegunwa, avowed that the company’s unique products comprising the 13 variants of the Bigi Carbonated soft drink, the premium Bigi Table Water, the Sosa fruit drink with its five variants, the Fearless energy drinks, Bigi and Rite sausages, are available for consumers’ delight and satisfaction in the memorable celebration.

Adegunwa affirmed that the company’s consumers which comprise Islamic believers should get refreshed after fasting with its array of brands that are produced in a world-class factory with modern technology and artificial intelligence, under good hygienic conditions in line with global best practices.

He stated that the leading company in the food and beverage industry of Africa’s largest economy will continue in its stride to deliver unparalleled products stemming from adequate research and development, to cater to the needs of consumers across the country as a Proudly-Nigerian brand, and outside its shores, as a Proudly-African organisation.

The Rite Foods boss also called on Muslims to use the Eid el-Fitri period to pray to Allah for a peaceful and great nation, and for the actualisation of set developmental goals.

In the same vein, the Company’s Assistant Brand Manager, BoluwatifeAdedugbe, pointed out that Rite Foods, with brands that are the hallmark of distinctiveness in its market segment, is poised towards putting its consumers at the topmost of its priority, hence it felicitated with Muslims during the Ramadan period which now culminates into the Eid-el-Ftri celebration.

She stated that the company’s unrivalled and innovative products with their unmatched flavours are available across the country for consumers’ satisfaction, irrespective of their religious and cultural beliefs, on memorable occasions.

Certainly, Rite Foods’ brands are the preferred consumers’ choice as reflected in its numerous laurels, as the Bigi Cola CSD won the “Fastest Growing Bigi Cola Brand of the Year” in 2022, at an award ceremony organised by Marketing Edge Magazine, while its Bigi and Rite sausages clinched the “Fastest Growing Sausage Brand of the Year,” at the same event.

The sausage brands also earned ECOWAS Sausage Roll Snack Manufacturing Company of the Year at the ECOWAS Manufacturing Excellence Award in 2021, which was powered by BusinessDay Newspapers (Ghana], and Daily Independent Newspapers in Nigeria.

Bigi’s contribution to worthy initiatives was applauded with the “Most Outstanding CSD Brand of the Year” at the Brandcom 2021 Awards, for its market leadership position in the beverage industry, while the company’s Fearless energy drink brand was bestowed with the “Most Outstanding Energy Drink Brand of the Year,” which are among other awards credited to the company’s products.

Source: authorityngr.com

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https://authorityngr.com/2023/04/25/rite-foods-urges-refreshing-moments-for-muslims-with-its-quality-brands-for-eid-el-fitri-celebration/

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