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Islamic World News ( 1 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Remove Videos Demonising Muslims: News Broadcasting Authority to News18 India

New Age Islam News Bureau

01 March 2023


Live Law/ Twitter


• Shias Live In Terror As Sectarian Violence Increases In Pakistan: Baltimore Post-Examiner Report

• Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria Warns Politicians against Harassing INEC at National Collation Centre

• Nikki Haley Bashes Pakistan; Reiterates US Won't Be World's 'ATM' If She Voted To Power

• Islamist Video Clip Featuring Men Dressed In Military Uniforms Carrying Replica Swords, Spears and Shields Fuels Concern in Moderate Malaysia


• Scholars Discuss History and Relevance of Islamic Architecture in a Conference on the “Legacy of Islamic Architecture”

• Muslims in Achan Village of Kashmir Stand With Pandits in Good As Well As Bad Times

• Kashmiri Pandit assassin among 2 terrorists, one soldier killed in Pulwama shootout

• MP man detained after NIA 'terror' alert, freed

• No child marriage in last one month in Assam: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma



• ‘Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’ Wants To Push Government Out Of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Establish Sharia’

• ‘Love Doesn’t Exist’: Children Of Pakistan Immigrants Defy Forced Marriage Abroad

• Pakistan court grants ex-PM Imran interim bail in Toshakhana case

• Lax security gives PTI activists a free hand in Islamabad

• PNS NASR with 1000-tonne relief goods leaves for Syria, Turkiye



• Nigeria's Bola Tinubu Declared Winner of Presidential Vote

• Benghazi is Islamic Culture Capital for 2023

• Al-Sunni urges Security Council to give Libya access to its frozen assets

• Sudanese protester killed as marches enter 17th month, despite talks


North America

• Murals to be source of inspiration for Whitehorse Muslim community

• US remains committed to regional partners in battle against Daesh, officials say

• US House passes resolution mourning deaths in Türkiye, Syria earthquakes, slamming Assad


Southeast Asia

• Guan Eng: Hadi is lying, there are more Muslim MPs in Unity govt than PN

• Malaysian Official Says Halal Market Value to Contribute to 11% of Country’s GDP by 2030

• Cops probing discarded copies of Quran incident in Klang Valley



• German Foreign Minister Concerned About Judicial Independence in Israel

• EU follows developments in Tunisia with ‘great concern’

• UN confident Iraqis will overcome difficulties, challenges: Secretary-general

• EU condemns ‘deadly cycle of violence’ in occupied Palestinian territory

• Munich conference losing importance in absence of Tehran, Moscow: Russian envoy


South Asia

• Taliban Kill ISIS Terrorist Who Planned Attacks on Diplomats In Kabul

• Islamic Emirate Diplomats Restart Official Activities in Istanbul

• Afghanistan No Longer Celebrates Armed Forces Day

• Afghan Interim Government Cabinet Members Pass Fiscal Year (1402) Budget

• 80 Afghan citizens dead in Italian shipwreck, says Taliban foreign ministry

• Swiss-based trust holds second meeting to discuss plans for Afghan funds


Arab World

• Saudi Arabia Affirms Human Rights Commitment and Equality among Peoples

• Lebanon plans to hike import tariffs for second time in three months

• Lebanon top prosecutor tells judge investigating banks to pause probe

• Saudi Hajj minister meets Malaysian PM

• Activists call on Trinidad to repatriate citizens in Syria



• Iran Has Enriched Uranium to Nearly Bomb Grade: IAEA

• Spokesman: Iran Views Recent Development in Syria-Arab States Ties As Positive

• Settler attacks continue amid ‘timid’ Israeli government response

• Israel minister says Palestinian planned to kill him

• Israeli forces demolish two Palestinian-owned houses in al-Quds, orders owners to pay heavy fines

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Remove Videos Demonising Muslims: News Broadcasting Authority to News18 India


Live Law/ Twitter


1st March 2023

The News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) ordered news broadcaster News18 India to take down videos that mislead news and give it a communal narrative. It fined the channel Rs 25,000 and warned them against repeating this action in the future.

The five orders issued by NBDSA relate to primetime shows anchored by Aman Chopra. In all five cases, News18 India was found to have violated the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards.

The first order mentions the show aired on October 4 last year when Chopra called out public flogging in Kheda village of Gujarat as “Gujarat Police ne unke saath dandiya khela (Gujarat police played dandiya– a popular Gujarat dance form performed during Dussehra– with them).”

Chopra, in his primetime show gleefully shows a group of Gujarat police officials publicly assaulting a few Muslim men who are allegedly accused of pelting stones at a Garba event last week during Navratri festivities.

Chopra used statements such as “Gujarat police ne unka ilaaj kia,” (Gujarat police cured them) “Garbe mei itna interest kyun hai Muslim yuvakon ko? (Why are Muslim young men interested in Gujarat) Koi aur tylohar mein itna interest nahin hain. Lekin pehchan chupakar kyun jaate hai,”(They are not interested in other festivals but here they hide their faces and join) and“Aisa kya mil raha hai garbe mei ki Islam ki rigidness khatam ho jati hai. (What is so uniquely found at Garba programs that the rigidity of Islam ends?)”, Asked Chopra suggestively.

Two complaints were filed against Chopra- one by an Indrajeet Ghorpade and the other by the Citizens for Justice and Peace.

The NBDSA stated, “News18 India failed to condemn the police violence e. Furthermore tickers used in the show gave an impression “that all Muslim men had attended garba celebrations only with ulterior motives”.

The second order was based on the show aired on September 29. The complaint filed by Ghorpade stated that the programme was aired to portray all Muslim men are criminals, trying to harm/deceive Hindu women. “The entire Muslim community and in particular the men were demonized in the impugned broadcast,” the complaint stated.

The NBDSA ordered News18 India to remove the video from the public domain and cautioned the channel to use tickers that could generate communal disharmony.

The third order was based on a program anchored by Chopra on August 5. The complaint was filed by M Huzaifa who said the said programme titled “Desh Nahi Jhukne Denge Ghazwa e Hind” (Country will not let you bow down Ghazwa-e-Hind) was reporting on demographic changes near the borders regions of Uttar Pradesh, Assam with Bangladesh.

Taglines such as “Border par Ghazwa-e-Hind Pura”(Ghazwa-e-Hind is finally over at the Indian border), “Border ka Islamikaran Pura” (Islamization is finally over at the Indian border) “Border par Badhe-Bhaijaan, Khatarnaak hai Plan” (Increase of Muslim population is a dangerous plan) were aired and terms such as ‘Muslim Corridor’, ‘Muslim Borders’, ‘Jansankhya Jihad’ etc. were used by Chopra.

The complainant said that Chopra mentions India as a Hindu Rashtra implying that he did not believe in secularism and the democratic fabric of the country.

Anti-Muslim tickers such as “#BorderParPanIslam”, “Border par Islamikaran pura?”, “Border par badhe ‘bhaijan’, Khatarnak he Plan?” and “Border par Ghazwa-e-Barood bichh gya he” was used.

“The impugned show clearly violated the Code of Ethics & Broadcasting Standards, particularly the principles of Self-Regulation and Specific Guidelines Covering Reportage,” said the complaint.

The NBDSA said there would have been “no problem” if News18 India had “raised only national security concerns in respect of demographic changes around the border areas of the country due to infiltration” and had sought the government’s response on this. Instead, the channel “attempted to communalise the issue” without seeking “accountability” from the government.

The NBDSA fined News18 India Rs 20,000/- and ordered it to take down the videos from the public domain immediately.

The fourth order was based on a show aired on January 18, 2022, during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections where now chief minister Yogi Adityanath made a statement, “it’s 80% vs 20%”. Complaints were filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace and one Anuj Dubey.

The NBDSA, in its order stated that the tone used by the channel’s anchor Aman Chopra had “religious undertones” and was “communal in nature and not appropriate”.

NBDSA pointed out that Chopra had made statements like “Ye 80 k khilaf hai mahagathbandhan” (This Grand Alliance is against 80% of the population– meaning Hindus) and “Wo keh ray lwi kay unhey Hinduo sey problem hai aur wo 80 kay khilaaf hai” (They do not like Hindus and are against the majoritarian population). “A news anchor should be objective, impartial and neutral,” the NBDSA commented.

News18 India was fined Rs 50,000 and told to remove videos of the broadcast. It was also instructed to publicise the NBDSA’s orders on its ticker once every hour for 24 hours from 8 am on March 6 to 8 am on March 7.

The fifth order was based on a show that was aired on July 28 last year. It was about the murder of Karnataka BJP Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Nettaru in Dakshina Kannada.

The complaint was filed by Utkarsh Mishra and Vidya Mittal. They stated in the complaint that the channel failed to report on two Muslim deaths that happened before and after Nettaru’s murder – 19-year-old Masood who was killed by members of the Bajrang Dal on July 20 and 32-year-old Fazil, who was murdered BY Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on July 28.

“The broadcaster also failed to inform the viewers about the statement made by Praveen’s father wherein he claimed that Praveen was a part of the Hindu right-wing outfit and he was destined for this and that there was little possibility of justice as he was part of such outfits,” the complaint stated.

Chopra further did not allow one of the panelist to speak and kept interrupting throughout the show.

News18 India was instructed to take down videos of the show and “not repeat” the violations in the future.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Shias Live In Terror As Sectarian Violence Increases In Pakistan: Baltimore Post-Examiner Report


Photo: The Times of India


Mar 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: In Pakistan, unarmed and helpless Shias are marching on a one-way street to annihilation, as the mercenaries who treat Shias like sitting ducks on the receiving end still remain at large and protected by the military, reported Baltimore Post-Examiner (BPE).

After Iran and India, Pakistan has the world's third-largest Shia community, accounting for ten per cent of the total population, however, more than half of Pakistani Muslims are wary of identifying with Shias as fellow believers, the report said.

Shias feel more vulnerable to prejudice and persecution as perception shifts, and as a result, Shia killers feel more confident attacking them. Shia assassinations were not uncommon prior to the establishment of Pakistan, but they became more frequent and severe during and after the Afghan War, the report stated further, adding that the Pakistani army trained and recruited many anti-Shia individuals for the Soviet-Afghan war.

Pak army provided them ammunition, weapons, vehicles, and judicial immunity, which simultaneously increased their effectiveness against Shias, reported BPE.

Moreover, numerous anti-Shia organizations have become immortal over time by forming alliances with ISIS, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban. Shias consistently question the state's neutrality in the face of free-roaming Shia killers, it added.

Human Rights Watch's 2013 report acknowledges anti-Shia terrorists' ties to the Pakistani military, the report said, adding that under military pressure, the police and judiciary disregard sectarian crimes, which stimulate terrorists to kill Shias wherever and whenever they please.

Canada's International Forum for Rights and Security reported that over 4,000 Shias were reportedly murdered for their religious beliefs between 2013 and 2021. The Washington-based United States Institute for Peace said 3,800 Shias were murdered between 2007 and 2013, with 325 of those killings occurring in 2012.

Pakistan's Human Rights Commission reported more than 200 terrorist attacks resulted in nearly 700 Shia deaths and over 1,000 Shia injuries in 2013. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom also reported that over 600 Shias were killed for their faith between 1999 and 2003.

The assassins also target and destroy Shia religious centres in order to discourage festivals and rituals and stifle cultural identity, the BPE said, adding that between 2002 and 2018, state-sponsored terrorists attacked and destroyed 104 Shia centres.

The military kidnaps Shias for allegedly opposing the Taliban or cooperating with Iran's mullah regime. Shias are being held captive by military intelligence and Rangers with no opportunity for evidence gathering, a hearing, or an appeal, it said.

According to Shia organisations, 300 Shias were presumed missing as of the end of 2018. That figure rose to 700 by 2021, but the government only acknowledges a small percentage of such cases.

In places like Karachi, the military conducts illegal home raids and confines Shia suspects in secret torture cells for indefinite periods of time. Despite their reservations about the judicial system's fairness, Shias would prefer formal indictment and court trial to illegal abduction and torture, the report said.

However, the Pakistan Army is not willing to oblige because the policymakers consider illegal detentions and extra-judicial torture and murder as effective tools in combating existential threats to the country, reported BPE.

The Federal Commission on Enforced Disappearances appears powerless to track down or prevent these kidnappings. In this regard, the International Commission of Jurists has chastised the Pakistani government for allowing and maintaining impunity for forced disappearances and failing to compensate victims.

Terrorist organisations such as TTP, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Islami, and Ansar-ul-Islam, which have access to military weapons, add fuel to the fire during attacks on Shias, stated the report, adding that Mast Gul, a member of the Harkatul Mujahideen and the Al-Qaida-linked International Islamic Front, was among the terrorists involved in the Shia attacks in Kurram.

Chitral was once a stronghold of Ismailia Shias. They now make up less than 35 per cent of the district's population. Chitral is strategically important for the Pakistani military and Taliban because it provides an easy road link to Tajikistan via the Wakhan Corridor, the report said.

Forced conversion of locals and the arrival of Sunni Afghans pushed Shia Ismailia to the brink of socio-economic collapse, reported BPE.

The situation in the neighboring Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan, where Shia-Ismailia forms a small majority, is similar to that in Chitral. Decades of conversion forced marriages of girls to Sunnis, and the settlement of Sunnis from Pakistan have reduced the Ismailia ratio from more than 80 per cent of the population to less than 60 per cent.

Pakistani Shias, like Ahmadis, are sitting on a ticking time bomb, and the fear of ex-communication is forcing Shias to abandon their core beliefs in order to be considered Muslims.

Like Ahmadis, thousands of Pakistani Shias are currently facing blasphemy cases for merely proclaiming their beliefs and observing religious festivals. (ANI)

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria Warns Politicians against Harassing INEC at National Collation Centre


Photo: The Daily Post


February 28, 2023

By Fadehan Oyeyemi

The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, MMWG has called on politicians that contested in the just concluded presidential election and their supporters not to turn the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC National Collation Centre into a battlefield where the commission is harassed or intimidated since it’s not a contestant but an umpire.

Rather, it enjoined them to abide by the agreement signed under the Peace Accord spearheaded by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and his team.

Reacting to the interruption of the INEC election results declaration by some interested parties at the National Collation Centre in Abuja, MMWG, in a statement signed by its national coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, described the action as destructive and condemnable, adding that INEC was following the official process of election declaration as contained in the electoral law.

It, therefore, called on anyone or group with genuine complaints to raise them there peacefully or in a court of law.

The group called the attention of security agencies to the destructive interference of the result declaration process of last Sunday and advised them to be alert by taking absolute control of the proceedings at the National Collation Centre to ensure that such a disruptive attempt is henceforth nipped in the bud.

It commended INEC for doing a good job, stating that this year’s election has been seamless, good and transparent.

MMWG affirmed that with the nation moving to 72 hours after the conclusion of the election, all political parties and their flag-bearers now have the whole results as conveyed to them by their party agents and they are only waiting for the INEC official declaration which must not be delayed any longer.

“Let no loser shift the battlefield from polling units to Collation Centre, please. As the Orubebe drama failed in 2015, so will the Melaye gimmick fail this 2023, Insha Allah.

“Reports that an opposition party and their collaborators are working on using a court order to stop the declaration process shows how desperate some contestants are. This means that they are not for a better Nigeria but are only interested in their selfish ambitions. No responsible court will grant such an order,” the group stressed.

It finally called on INEC to declare the balance of the entire results today, as the group warned on the consequences of its further delay stating that no individual or group interest is greater than that of the entire citizens of this country.

“Nigerians are anxious to know their president-elect without further delay,” the group stated.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria
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Nikki Haley Bashes Pakistan; Reiterates US Won't Be World's 'ATM' If She Voted To Power


Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. File | Photo Credit: AP


Feb 28, 2023

WASHINGTON: Indian-American Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Tuesday reiterated that if voted to power, the US will not pay the "bad guys" like Pakistan hundreds of millions of dollars.

"A weak America pays the bad guys: Hundreds of millions to Pakistan, Iraq, and Zimbabwe last year alone. A strong America won't be the world's ATM," the former Ambassador to the United Nations tweeted.

In another tweet, Haley said: "America can't be the world's ATM. As president, we'll make sure to shake up the foreign policy establishment. More on our plans to stop sending money to our enemies ..."

"I will cut every cent in foreign aid for countries that hate us. A strong America doesn't pay off the bad guys. A proud America doesn't waste our people's hard-earned money. And the only leaders who deserve our trust are those who stand up to our enemies and stand beside our friends," the 51-year-old two-term Governor of South Carolina, who earlier this month formally launched her 2024 presidential bid, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Post.

In the op-ed, Haley wrote that America spent USD 46 billion on foreign aid last year, which is given to countries like China, Pakistan, and Iraq. American taxpayers deserve to know where that money is going and what it's doing, she added.

According to Haley, the Biden administration resumed military aid to Pakistan, though it's home to at least a dozen terrorist organisations and its government is deeply in hock to China.

She said that as the US ambassador to the UN, she strongly supported then president Donald Trump's decision to cut nearly USD 2 billion of military aid to Pakistan because that country supported terrorists who kill American troops.

"It was a major victory for our troops, our taxpayers, and our vital interests, but it didn't go nearly far enough. We've still given them way too much in other aid. As president, I will block every penny,” she added.

Less than a fortnight after entering the race for the White House, Haley is leading against President Joe Biden in a hypothetical match, according to the latest opinion poll on Friday.

But she trails badly against leading GOP candidate former president Trump, Rasmussen Report said based on a survey it conducted between February 16 and 19.

Among the Republicans, she comes in the third position after Trump (52 per cent) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (24 per cent).

Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa to immigrant Punjabi Sikh parents, Haley is the third Indian-American to run for the US presidency in three consecutive election cycles. Bobby Jindal ran in 2016 and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2020.

Days after Haley announced her White House bid, Indian-American tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, another Republican, also launched his 2024 presidential bid.

Before entering the presidential ballot, Haley has to win the Republican Party's presidential primary which will start in January next year. The next US presidential election is scheduled to be held on November 5, 2024.

Source: Times Of India

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Islamist Video Clip Featuring Men Dressed In Military Uniforms Carrying Replica Swords, Spears and Shields Fuels Concern in Moderate Malaysia


A motorbike passenger waves a Malaysian Islamic Party flag on the eve of a general election in Penang, Malaysia, on Nov. 18, 2022.   © Reuters


March 1, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR -- Video of a gathering of young Malaysian Islamists began circulating on social media in the middle of February, featuring men dressed in military uniforms carrying replica swords, spears and shields.

Some around the country were concerned about possible extremism and felt unsettled. The parade, part of a two-day gathering organized by the youth wing of the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) in Terengganu State, was criticized by Malaysian Religious Affairs Minister Na'im Mokhtar on Feb. 19.

"Parading in such a way is unnecessary," the minister said, noting it could send wrong messages about Islam and the country.

Mohd Harun Esa, the head of Terengganu's PAS youth wing, which organized the event, was unapologetic, and defended the parade as being akin to cosplay.

"The event is similar to the 'cosplay' parades and competitions that are held all over the country showing favorite superheroes and their weapons," he wrote on Facebook.

The opposition Islamist PAS party made huge gains in the general election last November as the majority Muslim population became more conservative.

A survey last year by pollster Merdeka Center of 1,200 Muslims aged 15 to 25 showed that 82% agreed that the Quran should replace the country's constitution, up from 72% in 2010. These developments only stoked concerns about the viral video footage.

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail condemned the controversial public display, and urged all parties to refrain from acts that could disturb people and the country.

Saifuddin said the parade "had caused concerns among the public -- not to mention raising political temperatures in several states that will face elections soon."

He also questioned the intention of the march, which was uploaded to social media with Arabic martial music in the background.

This invited the question of whether this parade was meant to incite the spirit of war, said Saifuddin.

Analysts and politicians said the parade smacked of inciting extremism amid rising political tensions as the country prepares to hold six state elections. Dates have not been set, but local press reports suggest state legislatures will be dissolved in the last fortnight of June.

Analysts said the "armed parade" was a further display of extremism by PAS, which exploited racial and religious issues during November's general elections to its advantage, winning 49 seats in the 222-seat parliament -- the largest number by a single party. PAS openly aims to turn Malaysia's democracy into an Islamic state.

PAS seems intent on fomenting strong ideas among its people, according to Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, a professor of politics and international relations at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

"Extreme sentiments are dangerous in Malaysia's multireligious society," he said. "Moderation should be promoted."

Mohd Faizal Musa, a visiting fellow at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute said the parade was a symbolic expression of militancy.

"It is not a common cultural practice or a ritualistic one," he said. "We cannot explain a march with replicas like this as cosplay."

Faizal is also a research fellow at the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization. "Cosplay is based on animes, and we can understand the craziness -- but this is based on what? What is the context as it's not based on any credible Islamic rituals."

Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah, a member of parliament from Terengganu, reported the event to the police. He told Nikkei Asia that the parade "was provocative -- designed to intimidate the public as a show of force."

PAS employs intimidation and fear in its politics, according to Raja Kamaru. He is a member of the Amanah Party, which is part of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's coalition government.

In January, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in Terengganu filed a court petition to annul the Marang parliamentary election won by PAS President Hadi Awang.

Local media reported that the Terengganu chief of UMNO, the political party in the ruling coalition, alleged that PAS bribed voters by distributing financial aid from the state government days before the elections. The case is still in court. Some experts, including Raja Kamarul, think the parade was a thinly veiled threat suggesting what might happen if PAS loses the case.

Professor Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) said the parade was about maintaining visibility from November in the run-up to the state elections.

"PAS is concerned that the momentum is shifting to the Unity Government led by Anwar Ibrahim at the federal level," said Azizuddin. "Therefore, PAS has to come out with rhetoric that makes people support the PAS agenda."

Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research in Selangor, said that since race and religion were played up during the general election, the parade has caused further concern to the public.

"The general population is concerned because the parade with swords looks like people going to war," said Azmi.

He noted that PAS has become more extreme in recent years. "They have been very successful," he said. "In the last general election, many Malay voters who voted for UMNO before now choose PAS. I think PAS realizes that being very conservative -- being very extreme -- is basically good for them," said Azmi.

He said PAS has tried to portray the ruling Pakatan Harapan government as being unable to safeguard Islam and the Malay identity despite having two Malay-Muslim parties in the coalition, namely Anwar Ibrahim's People's Justice Party and Amanah.

Azmi expects the parade to backfire on PAS in states like Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan as it reinforces the view that the party is extreme, but not in Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan, where "they are very strong."

Professor Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi of UCSI University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's top private campus, said a conservative outlook among Malay Muslims has become more mainstream. The country's development has lifted living standards and Malay Muslims now seek greater spiritual fulfillment, he said.

"Most Muslims are very conservative now, and there is not much critical thinking," said Rajuddin. "They think of protecting Islam, and this simple narrative is played up to win votes."

Source: Asia Nikkei

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Scholars Discuss History and Relevance of Islamic Architecture In A Conference On The “Legacy Of Islamic Architecture”

Mar 01, 2023

The department of architecture, Zakir Husain College of Engineering and Technology (ZHCET), Aligarh Muslim University organised a national conference on the “Legacy of Islamic Architecture” with an objective to engage academicians and researchers in deliberations on the history and relevance of Islamic architecture.

In his presidential remarks at the inaugural session, AMU VC Prof Tariq Mansoor discussed the special features of Islamic architecture in different regions of the world like the Middle East, Turkey, Europe, Qatar and Spain. With the special mention of the Pari Mahal garden palace in Srinagar, he highlighted the contribution of Dara Shikoh in developing an Indian version of Islamic architecture.

The guests of honour, Prof SM Akhtar, former dean, faculty of architecture and ekistics, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and Prof Jagbir Singh, director, Amity School of Architecture congratulated the department for organising the conference on an interesting theme.

The dean, faculty of engineering and technology, Prof Mohammad Altamush Siddiqui also shared his views regarding achievements of the faculty.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Muslims in Achan Village of Kashmir Stand With Pandits in Good As Well As Bad Times

01st March 2023

By Fayaz Wani

SRINAGAR:  After helping in restoring an old temple in 2019, the Muslim community of Achan, a sleepy hamlet in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, once again displayed the bond they share with the Kashmiri Pandit community by not only sharing the grief of Sanjay Sharma’s family but also making arrangements for his last rites.

Sanjay, a security guard in a J&K Bank ATM, was shot dead by militants while he was on his way to the local market in the village on  Sunday. Sanjay’s family had decided not to migrate from Kashmir after the eruption of militancy in the 1990s.

“He was like our brother. The entire village shares the grief of the family and condemns the killing. This killing has brought a bad name to our village. Our village has been an example of communal harmony,” said one of the family’s Muslim neighbours.

Source: New Indian Express

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Kashmiri Pandit assassin among 2 terrorists, one soldier killed in Pulwama shootout

Mar 1, 2023

SRINAGAR: The killer of a Kashmiri Pandit man was among two terrorists shot dead around 1am Tuesday in an operation lasting several hours at a village mosque in Awantipora of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district that also left a soldier of 55 Rashtriya Rifles killed and one of his colleagues wounded, J&K police said.

According to a military statement, Sepoy Pawan Kumar died of multiple bullet wounds following a “hand-to-hand combat” with one of the terrorists whom he overpowered and killed.

He is survived by his mother Bhajun Dassi. His last rites will be done at his native Pithyt village in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh with full military honours.

Additional DGP Vijay Kumar said the slain terrorists were Aqib Mushtaq of Pulwama, who was responsible for bank guard Sharma’s murder this Sunday, and his associate Ajaz Ahmad Bhat of Tral in south Kashmir. “Killer of late Sanjay Sharma neutralised,” J&K police claimed in a tweet.

Naik Hemraj was wounded in the gunfight at Padgampora village of Awantipora, 20km north of Achan in the same district where Sharma was killed when he was out buying groceries. He was quickly shifted to 92 Base Hospital, Srinagar, for treatment.

The gunfight broke out after a combined team of Army, CRPF and J&K police surrounded the mosque late Monday following information that terrorists were holed up there.

“Security forces exercised extreme caution and limited firepower was used to ensure there was no damage to the mosque. Civilians were evacuated beforehand to prevent collateral damage,” Kumar said. Photos from the site later showed no substantial harm caused to the shrine, other than bullet-riddled window panes.

The officer said the other terrorist had escaped to an adjacent building and hid in a bathroom. “Fourteen civilians were safely removed from the place before he was shot dead,” he said.

Two AK-series rifles, a pistol, two grenades, seven magazines, and two Aadhaar cards were found on the two terrorists.

Source: Times Of India

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MP man detained after NIA 'terror' alert, freed

Mar 1, 2023

INDORE: A 40-year-old Indore man, who was in China and Hong Kong for several years, was detained for 24 hours and released by Indore police late Tuesday night.

He had been summoned for questioning by Indore police on Monday night on the basis of an alert from the Mumbai police after the NIA flagged a potential "threat" following an anonymous email.

Indore police officers told TOI on Tuesday night that they hadn't found anything suspicious and he would be freed. He walked out of Chandan Nagar police station just after 11 pm.

Indore police commissioner Harinarayanchari Mishra said, "Sarfaraz Memon, a resident of Green Park colony in Chandan Nagar of Indore, was detained in the presence of Mumbai police and NIA officials. He was interrogated about his suspected terror links but was released late at night after nothing substantial was found." Officers from NIA, IB and other agencies who had arrived in Indore to question Memon also left on Tuesday night.

According to sources, NIA had received an anonymous mail with allegations against Memon on February 26. The agency sent details of his Aadhaar card, driving licence and passport to the Mumbai cops, who traced him to Indore where he runs a medical shop in the Khajrana area.

Memon's parents were detained on Monday afternoon and police called him on his phone.

Memon went to Chandan Nagar police station late at night and was taken for questioning by national security agencies.

DCP (intelligence) Rajat Saklecha said: "During questioning, the detained person gave us his version in which he said that during his time in Hong Kong, he married a Chinese national. They separated recently and decided to get a divorce. But four days ago he got into a dispute with the woman's lawyer in China over a phone call. The detainee says the lawyer had threatened to malign his image in the country and suspects he sent the anonymous email. This is being verified."

Source: Times Of India

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No child marriage in last one month in Assam: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Feb 28, 2023

GUWAHATI: Justifying the crackdown on child marriages in Assam, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said not a single such incident has taken place in the state in the last one month.

The Assam government on February 3 started an intense drive against child marriages across the state, registering over 4,000 cases. Till Tuesday, 3,145 people have been apprehended.

"In the last one month, not a single child marriage has taken place in Assam. This is a big achievement. Everyone has welcomed our steps against this social menace," Sarma said at a press conference here.

He said that of the total number of persons arrested, around 900 have received bail from the courts.

"I thought that they would be released from the jails within seven-eight days. But most of them got bail after 14-15 days. The judiciary also appreciated our move," Sarma claimed.

Observing that making a large number of arrests in the crackdown on child marriage created "havoc in the private lives of people", the Gauhati high court on February 14 said there was no need for custodial interrogation of the accused in such cases.

Source: Times Of India

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‘Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’ Wants To Push Government Out Of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Establish Sharia’

Anwar Iqbal

March 1, 2023

WASHINGTON: The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) aims to push the government of Pakistan out of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and establish Sharia by waging a terrorist campaign against the military and state, a US State Department report warns.

According to the 2021 Country Reports on Terrorism, the TTP uses the tribal belt along the Afghan­istan-Pakistan border to train and deploy its operatives.

TTP draws ideological guidance from Al Qaeda, while elements of AQ rely in part on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

“This arrangement has given TTP access to both AQ’s global terrorist network and its members’ operational expertise.”

State Department report notes action taken against India-focused militant groups, regrets failure to dismantle such outfits

The report also names major terrorist groups that focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan, including TTP, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and the militant Islamic State-Khorasan group (IS-K).

The report on terrorism notes that Pakistan “experienced significant terrorist activity” during the year in review, i.e. 2021.

Underlining the link between terrorism and lack of economic activities, the report points out that “the United States provides assistance to support trade and economic growth” in Pakistan.

The US assistance to Pakistan includes partnering with US businesses, civil society, and the regions bordering Afghanistan.

“This assistance is intended to improve the lives of the Pakistani people and support US objectives,” the report explains.

“The United States continues to support people-to-people exch­anges to alleviate misunderstandings and complications in the bilateral relationship.”

In 2021, separatist militant groups conducted terrorist attacks against varied targets in Balochistan and Sindh provinces. Terrorists used a range of tactics

to attack varied targets, including Improvised Explosive Devices, Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, suicide bombings, and targeted assassinations.

The report acknowledges that Pakistan took steps in 2021 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups. Pakistan reviewed and revised its 2015 National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism, reducing the NAP from a 20-point plan to 14 key points.

But the report complains that Pakistan made meagre progress on the most difficult aspects — specifically its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organisations without delay or discrimination.

The report identifies IS-K as another group which poses a significant threat to Pakistan and is composed primarily of former TTP members, the Afghan Taliban, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. It is estimated to have between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters and has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians and government officials in Pakistan.

IS-K, elements of Al Qaeda, and terrorist groups targeting Pakistan, like TTP, have continued to use the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region as a safe haven.

The report notes that Pakistan-focused terrorist groups continue to conduct attacks against Pak­istani military and civilian targets.

The report also mentions Pakistan’s pledge to “ensure that no armed militias are allowed to function in the country,” but complains that attackers continued to operate from Pakistani soil in 2021. The report identifies the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as the groups that carry out such attacks.

The report claims that although “Pakistan took some steps in 2021 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups, authorities did not take sufficient action to dismantle them”.

The report commends Pakistan’s commitment to combat the trafficking of items that could contribute to the development of WMDs and their delivery systems. “Pakistan was a constructive and active participant in IAEA-hosted meetings and in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism,” it adds.

Source: Dawn

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‘Love doesn’t exist’: children of Pakistan immigrants defy forced marriage abroad

February 28, 2023

GUASTALLA: From the day of her birth in Pakistan, Iram Aslam was betrothed to a cousin 17 days older. But to the young woman, who emigrated as a teenager to this Italian farm town on the Po River plain, the cousin felt like a brother. So on a visit to her homeland, she played for time, telling her aunts she wasn’t ready for marriage.

“They did everything possible to make me marry him,″ said Aslam, now 29. She said she told them: ”‘I don’t want to marry him and please don’t ask me anymore.’”

Her family, in both Italy and Pakistan, kept scheming to have her wed a man of their choice — and their caste. Aslam dismissed around 30 potential husbands.

“In the end, I made everyone angry, and no one talks to me anymore,” she said of her relatives in Pakistan.

In two murder trials this month, Italian prosecutors are seeking justice for Pakistani immigrant women allegedly killed because they refused marriages imposed by their parents. The cases highlight differences, often misconstrued as religion-based, between centuries-old immigrants’ cultural traditions and Western values prizing individualism.

“I liked another person, wanted another one,″ Aslam said of her own situation. “But they didn’t want it, because, among us, love doesn’t exist.”

Love is viewed “as a sin,” she added, her thick, wavy brown hair covered by a multicoloured headscarf. She asked that her face not be fully shown for fear of further antagonising Pakistani neighbours in Guastalla, a town of 15,000 where they are the dominant immigrant community.

To escape marriage-obsessed relatives, Aslam went for a time to live in Germany.

But there was no escape for 18-year-old Saman Abbas.

Like Aslam, she emigrated as a teenager from Pakistan to an Italian farm town, Novellara, 11 kilometres (seven miles) from Guastalla.

In what appears to be an identity card photo taken shortly after her arrival, Abbas’ face is framed by a black hijab, or headscarf. But the young woman quickly embraced Western ways, appearing in social media posts with her hair tumbling out from under a bright red headband. In one, she and her Pakistani boyfriend were shown kissing on a street in the regional capital, Bologna.

According to Italian investigators, that kiss enraged Abbas’ parents, who wanted their daughter to marry a cousin in Pakistan.

In November, her body was dug up in the ruins of a Novellara farmhouse. She had last been seen alive a few hundred yards away on April 30, 2021, in surveillance camera video as she walked with her parents on the watermelon farm where her father worked. A few days later, her parents caught a flight from Milan to Pakistan.

Abbas had reportedly told her boyfriend she feared for her life, because she refused to be married to an older man in her homeland.

An autopsy revealed a broken neck bone, possibly caused by strangulation.

An uncle and a cousin were extradited from France, and another cousin from Spain. They are now on trial in Reggio Emilia, the provincial capital with jurisdiction over Novellara, accused of Abbas’ murder.

Also indicted is her father, Shabbir Abbas, arrested in his village in Punjab. The whereabouts of her mother, who is also charged, are unknown.

A lawyer for her father, Akhtar Mahmood, told Italian state television that the young woman’s family is innocent. He disputed prosecutors’ allegations, contending that she had wanted to return with her family to Pakistan to flee Western ways.

Asked about Italy’s request for Shabbir Abbas’ extradition, Pakistan’s ambassador to Italy, Ali Javed, told The Associated Press that Islamabad would “not hesitate” to do so. However, Italy has no extradition treaty with Pakistan.

Javed blamed “individual ignorance″ for forced marriage, which is illegal in Pakistan.

In 2019, Italy made coercing an Italian citizen or resident into marriage, even abroad, a crime covered under domestic violence laws.

Late this month, police in Spain detained the father of two sisters who were allegedly murdered while visiting family in Pakistan. The women had reportedly refused to have their husbands come to Spain after being forced to marry their cousins.

In the United Kingdom, home to Europe’s largest Pakistani community, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit cautioned that the problem of forced marriage isn’t “specific to one country, religion or culture” and said statistics don’t reflect “the full scale of the abuse” since forced marriage is a “hidden crime.”

Under the Italian justice system, civil plaintiffs can attach lawsuits for damages to criminal trials, and two organisations representing Islamic communities in Italy are among those suing in the Abbas trial.

Other plaintiffs include women’s advocacy organisations.

Tiziana Dal Pra, whose group, Trama delle Terre, promotes intercultural relations, said that while violence surrounding forced marriage “gets interpreted as religious,” what’s really at play is “patriarchal control” of women’s bodies.

In December, a court in the northern city of Brescia convicted and gave five-year prison sentences to three Pakistani immigrants — the parents and older brother of four girls — for beating them and keeping them out of school.

According to court documents, the parents threatened their daughters that if they refused arranged marriages, they would end up like that “girl in Pakistan.”

The court said that threat referred to 25-year-old Sana Cheema, who was slain when she returned from Italy to Pakistan in 2018, allegedly at her parents’ insistence.

By her friends’ accounts, Cheema, who had taken Italian citizenship, loved her life in Brescia, where she worked out at a gym, went out for coffee with girlfriends and danced with them at a disco. She was proud of her job teaching at a driving school in the northern city.

Brescia prosecutors are now trying Cheema’s father and brother in absentia on a novel charge: murder in violation of the political right to marry one’s own choice.

In 2019, a court in Pakistan acquitted the two on murder charges, citing insufficient evidence. But Italy’s justice ministry ruled the Brescia trial could go forward since Pakistan and Italy have no agreement governing cases involving so-called judicial double jeopardy.

Cheema’s family initially told Pakistani authorities that she died of a heart attack the day before she was supposed to fly back to Italy. Two friends testified in Brescia this month that Cheema told them her parents wanted her to marry a cousin in Pakistan.

They also quoted from Facebook messages in which Cheema said her parents had confiscated her passport and phone in Pakistan.

With the Italian Embassy closely following the case, Cheema’s body was exhumed. An autopsy indicated she was likely strangled.

Prosecuting the case in Italy sends the message that “exercising the right of who you want to live with, above all, who you want to marry, is a political right” to be guaranteed “with the utmost firmness,” Brescia Prosecutor General Guido Rispoli told the AP.

At the edge of a field near the farmhouse where Saman Abbas’ body was found, mourners have left a stuffed toy squirrel and bunches of flowers at an improvised shrine.

“It will continue to happen, I tell you, that’s how it is,″ Aslam said of violence linked to forced marriage.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan court grants ex-PM Imran interim bail in Toshakhana case

Mar 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Islamabad high court granted interim bail to former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday, hours after a sessions court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him for skipping hearings in the Toshakhana case pertaining to purchase of gifts from the state depository.

Imran was required to appear in person in four cases, including one for attempted murder, that were scheduled to be heard in different courts in Islamabad during the course of the day.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Moshin Nawaz Ranjha had filed the attempted murder case against Imran last October after being attacked outside the Election Commission's office in Islamabad, where PTI workers and supporters were protesting against the disqualification of their party chief from parliament over the Toshakhana case.

A terrorism case was also filed against him over a violent protest by PTI supporters outside the electoral body's office against its decision to disqualify him.

The civilian Federal Investigation Agency had booked Imran and other PTI leaders weeks earlier in connection with their party allegedly receiving prohibited funding. The case was filed by the state through the agency's corporate banking circle in Islamabad.

Imran travelled from Lahore, where he has been recuperating from a gunshot injury, to reach Islamabad’s judicial complex, which houses the banking court as well as the anti-terrorism court.

Source: Times Of India

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Lax security gives PTI activists a free hand in Islamabad

Ikram Junaidi | Munawer Azeem

March 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: As former prime minister Imran Khan arrived at the judicial complex to secure bail in multiple cases, fragile security measures put in place by the police provided Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters and some “unidentified individuals” who were armed with automatic weapons to storm the complex without facing resistance from police.

The visit of the police chief and the DIG Operations failed to boost security measures as they remained inadequate giving supporters who had accompanied Mr Khan a free hand to enter the complex.

However, the police were quick to beat up a number of journalists who had converged at the Islamabad High Court for the coverage of the PTI chief’s visit.

Police officials told Dawn that the capital police imposed “fragile security measures” in and around the judicial complex as mere 64 police were deployed at the main entrance of the complex.

A party of 18 policemen was posted at the back gate whereas a similar number of police officials were deployed in front of the complex, they added. The anti-riot unit deployed by the police had 18 members only and they were deployed without their gear.

Though, as a pre-emptive measure, barbed wire was laid in front of the complex and 39 armed personnel – 29 FC and 10 policemen – were deployed on the premises of the complex, including the porch, main gate, judges’ entry gate, other entry points and the rooftop, they added.

On other hand, at least 240 personnel, including 50 Counter-Terrorism Department officials and 54 ARU members equipped with teargas were deployed at the district and sessions courts in Islamabad, they said, adding that later the contingent was moved to the Islamabad High Court.

The officials claimed that the police were laid back to provide “easy access to the PTI supporters and the activists to the complex so more cases could be registered against the leaders and activists of the former ruling party.

The officials said at least two dozen persons, some of them armed with Kalashnikov and pistols, were picked up from near the vehicle of Imran Khan and the complex premises.

As per the security plan, the police deployed in and around the complex were directed to intercept journalists on the spot for the coverage. As a result, a contingent of police thrashed and injured a few mediapersons in the presence of DIG Operations Shehzad Nadeem Bukhari, who also participated in the manhandling, as Imran Khan arrived on the premises.

25 people detained

In a statement on Twitter, the police said people who barged inside are being identified through CCTV cameras.

“Action would also be taken against those who opened the complex’s gate from the inside,” the spokesperson added.

A case was registered against suspects on different charges, including 7-ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act) and Section 353 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The police statement said that leaders of a political party incited the mob to create a law and order situation.

It further said the police have arrested 25 people and Kalashnikovs and pistols were recovered from some of them.

“They are yet to be identified, besides their affiliation is also being ascertained,” the police PRO added.

A press release issued by the National Press Club strongly condemned the manhandling of senior journalists as it demanded legal action against those involved in the incident and the officer who ordered it.

Visit after four months

Earlier, a large number of workers and supporters arrived at the Motorway toll plaza, Kashmir Highway and other places to welcome former prime minister Imran Khan who returned to the federal capital after a gap of over four months.

While some of the supporters came along with Mr Khan from Lahore, a large number of workers hailed from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Murree, Attock, and other nearby areas.

Former MNA Ali Nawaz Awan, while taking to Dawn, said the federal government wanted to arrest Mr Khan on Tuesday but the PTI supporters foiled the bid by turning up in such large numbers.

“The show was unprecedented and it proved that the PTI is the most popular political party in Pakistan. It is the same city in which Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz appeared in hearings but managed to gather just a few dozen persons,” he said.

Source: Dawn

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PNS NASR with 1000-tonne relief goods leaves for Syria, Turkiye

February 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management (NDMA) on Tuesday dispatched the first shipment through Naval Ship NASR from KTP West Wharf Karachi as part of continuous relief assistance being extended on Prime Minister’s instruction to the quake-affected people of Tukiye and Syria.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Faisal Subzwari, Turkish Consul General Jamal Sangu and Commander Pakistan Fleet Rear Admiral Faisal Abbasi saw off the ship.

This consignment contains large family-sized winterized tents & blankets as per the current need of quake affectees in Türkiye whereas generators, dry rations, medicines and clothing for the victims in Syria. The ship carrying 1,000 tonnes of relief goods for the people two brotherly countries, would reach the destination within 14 days.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Nigeria's Bola Tinubu declared winner of presidential vote

Mar 1, 2023

ABUJA, NIGERIA: Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu was declared winner of Nigeria's presidential election early Wednesday and soon after thanked his supporters and appealed to his rivals who are already demanding a revote in Africa's most populous nation.

The announcement by election officials overnight was likely to lead to a court challenge by the second- and third-highest finishers in the weekend vote, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. Abubakar also finished second in the last vote in 2019, then appealed those results before his lawsuit ultimately was dismissed.

Tinubu's ruling All Progressives Congress party urged the opposition to accept defeat Tuesday and not cause trouble after they had demanded a revote saying that delays in uploading election results had made room for irregularities.

Tinubu received 37% of the vote, or nearly 8.8 million, while main opposition candidate Abubakar won 29% with almost 7 million. Third-place finisher Obi took 25% with about 6.1 million, according to the results announced on live television by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The president-elect thanked his supporters in the capital, Abuja, after his victory was announced and struck a reconciliatory tone in a message directed at his political adversaries.

“I take this opportunity to appeal to my fellow contestants to let us team up together," Tinubu said. “It is the only nation we have. It is one country and we must build together.”

The announcement of his victory came after 4 a.m., but celebrations already had started late Tuesday at the ruling party’s national secretariat where Tinubu’s supporters had gathered in anticipation of his victory.

“None of the others matches his record!” said Babafemi Akin as he chatted excitedly about the prospects of a Tinubu administration. “I am sure he will do well.”

Tinubu, 70, is the former governor of Lagos state, home to Nigeria's megacity of the same name. However, he lost the state in Saturday's election to Obi, who drew a strong following among younger voters eager for change.

The parties now have three weeks to appeal results, but an election can be invalidated only if it's proven the national electoral body largely didn’t follow the law and acted in ways that could have changed the result.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has never overturned a presidential election, though court challenges are common, including by outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, who doggedly fought his past election losses for months in vain.

Nigeria’s presidential election has been closely watched as the country is not only the continent’s largest economy but it is also one of the continent’s top oil producers.

Source: Times Of India

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Benghazi is Islamic Culture Capital for 2023

February 28, 2023

The city of Benghazi in eastern Libya is preparing to be named: "The Capital of Islamic Culture for the year 2023”, which will include cultural, Islamic, literary, artistic and other events with the Libyan identity, after about 16 years of choosing Tripoli as the capital of Islamic Culture for the year 2007.

The Minister of Education of the Government of National Unity, Musa Al-Magreg, issued a decision to form a committee for the technical and financial preparation of the program to celebrate the city of Benghazi, whose mayor, Al-Saqr Bojwari, reaffirmed the city's readiness to celebrate “Benghazi, the Capital of Islamic Culture for the year 2023".

During the second meeting held by the newly-formed committee in Benghazi, Bojwari explained that the municipality will seek to initiate urgent maintenance of the infrastructure of the cultural centers and headquarters that will be used in the celebration.

Source: Libya Observer

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Al-Sunni urges Security Council to give Libya access to its frozen assets

February 28, 2023

Libya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Taher Al-Sunni, has urged the Security Council to review the international sanctions imposed on Libya.

Such a step will allow the Libyan authorities to manage its frozen assets and prevent their erosion and loss, Al-Sunni told the Security Council during a session on Libya on Monday.

He urged support for "the national will" and to respond to the call of millions of Libyans seeking to reach a state of stability and safety.

Regarding the UN Envoy Bathily's new initiative, Al-Sunni insisted that any new mechanism must focus on controversial points and set a timetable for the constitutional path to complete parliamentary and presidential elections this year.

He called on the UN mission in Libya to build on the previous experiences led by the United Nations, as the current situation does not bear more transitional stages, as he put it.

While welcoming the UN envoy's efforts to advance the political process, Al-Sunni noted that the country continues to suffer from the consequences of adverse interventions.

Source: Libya Observer

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Sudanese protester killed as marches enter 17th month, despite talks

28 February ,2023

A Sudanese protester was killed on Tuesday after being shot in the chest during a demonstration against military rule, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said in a statement.

Sudanese police said in a statement the shooting was an individual action that went against orders and that legal procedures had been immediately taken against the policeman involved.

The protester, who was killed in the Sharg al-Nil area near Sudan’s capital, became the 125th protesters killed in weekly protests set off by a coup in October 2021.

Protesters seen marching towards the presidential palace in Khartoum and neighboring Omdurman were met with tear gas from police, a Reuters witness said.

Khartoum State police said in a previous statement they were investigating the death, and said that protesters had been “aggressive” towards police, using tear gas, rocks, and molotov cocktails, and injured several policemen.

The protests come as military leaders who took over in the coup are negotiating a deal with the civilian political parties previously in power to restore a civilian government.

Most recently, tensions have emerged within the military, with army leaders demanding a clear timeline for the integration of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces as well as a wider group of participants in the negotiation.

Leaders of the Rapid Support Forces have denied the desire for any tension with the military, and said they are committed to forming one army.

Source: Al Arabiya

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North America


Murals to be source of inspiration for Whitehorse Muslim community

Feb 28, 2023

Israr Ahmed calls the creation of the Yukon's first mosque in 2018 a "beautiful metamorphosis" from a storage facility.

Ahmed, who moved to Whitehorse from India two and a half years ago, did not witness the metamorphosis himself, but as the current president of the Yukon Muslim Association he is doing his part to assist in the continuous evolution of both the space and the community.

This past week, the association brought an artist from Windsor, Ont., to turn the mosque's plain, gray walls into a source of inspiration for the community.

Artist Salwa Najb arrived in Whitehorse on Feb. 21 with her assistant, Ahsia Aghbari, and the two women spent a week painting multiple, elaborate pieces of Arabic scripture on the walls.

Najb says she has spent the better part of 20 years painting Islamic architecture, and calligraphy is an important part of that. However, focusing solely on calligraphy is relatively new to her, as is working on vertical walls.

"It's very challenging," she said. "But I like it more than I expected. It is very spiritually fulfilling, and it's even better if I can travel and meet people in remote communities like here in the Yukon."

Najm says she proposed painting various pieces of Arabic scripture from the Qur'an, and Ahmed made some additional suggestions for names of people to be included in the works.

"This type of art connects people with their spirituality," Najm said. "When you see calligraphy on the walls, it is usually a religious message. You'll see verses from the Qur'an, and names of people respected in the religion. Each time people come in and see the walls, they will be reminded of those people and those verses."

Ahmed says his motivation to make this work happen comes from an Islamic value of pursuing excellence.

"If you look around the Muslim world, you will find architectural marvels, and these are all, in essence, acts of worship because we are commanded to pursue excellence in whatever we do," he said.

"Calligraphy was also an art form that developed from that thought — that whatever you write, let it be so beautiful that it inspires people, and when you look at it you have that spiritual connection."

Ahmed says he hopes that when people walk into the mosque, they will see the murals and be spiritually nourished.

Source: CBC

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US remains committed to regional partners in battle against Daesh, officials say

February 28, 2023

WASHINGTON: The US government remains committed to defeating Daesh and its ideology in Iraq, Syria, the wider Middle East and all around the world, even though the extremist group no longer holds any territory, according to military and defense chiefs.

Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve, which supports efforts by allied forces to defeat Daesh, and Dana Stroul, the deputy assistant secretary of defense, on Tuesday gave details of the US military and political strategies for confronting the threat from the extremist group, alongside allies in the Middle East, Europe and around the world.

They said the US government is still committed to supporting its regional partners in the battle against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

McFarlane said the group persists as an ideology and in the aspirations of extremists who continue to represent a terrorist threat to the region.

However, the US military’s role in Iraq is non-combat in nature, he added, with forces providing training and support so that the Iraqi military can effectively confront the Daesh elements in its territory.

“We are not here to fight on behalf of Iraq,” he said.

The US military supports the Peshmerga, the military force that is part of the autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq, McFarlane added, and also continues to back and train the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mix of Arab and Kurdish anti-government militias in northeastern Syria that are partners of the US in the fight against Daesh.

Although Daesh largely has been defeated and lost the territories it occupied in Iraq and Syria in 2014, elements remain at large in the region around the border between the countries.

The US launched its war against Daesh in 2014 after the group’s forces occupied much of northern Iraq and the strategically important city of Mosul.

In 2017, Iraqi authorities declared victory over Daesh after the recapture of Mosul following bloody battles. In addition, the Syrian city of Al-Raqqa, which was also under Daesh control, was recaptured by US and SDF forces.

Operation Inherent Resolve cost the US government more than $14 billion between between 2014 and 2017, according to a US Department of Defense report.

A US military report on anti-Daesh operations last year in Iraq and Syria revealed that nearly 700 extremists were killed and 374 detained. No Americans died.

Stroul said the war against Daesh continues, with the help of US allies.

“There still much work to be done in the enduring defeat of ISIS,” she said, using an alternative name for Daesh.

As long as Daesh’s ideology is present in the region and elsewhere in the world, it could “reconstitute” itself, she added, so the US government will continue to work with Iraqi authorities, the SDF, and “84 coalition members and (the) NATO mission,” to eliminate the threat.

The officials said about 900 US military personal remain in Syria to target Daesh and provide support to the SDF.

Stroul also said Washington remains aware of the Iranian regime’s political and military activities in the Middle East, which constitute a threat to the interests of the US and its partners.

Source: Arab News

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US House passes resolution mourning deaths in Türkiye, Syria earthquakes, slamming Assad

Servet Günerigök  



The US House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday mourning the loss of the life in the earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria and condemning Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime for blocking UN aid through its border.

The resolution, which cleared the House floor in a 412-2 vote, also expressed its deep condolences to the families of the many earthquake victims and applauded the work of humanitarian aid and rescue workers on the ground.

Those who voted against the resolution were Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie.

Introduced by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, it "condemns the efforts by the Assad regime of Syria to exploit the disaster to evade international pressure and accountability."

"American families offer sincere sympathies to the families who are mourning loved ones and nursing others back to health," said Wilson ahead of the voting.

"The Republic of Türkiye for over 70 years has been a valued NATO ally, and as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on US-Türkiye relations and Turkish Americans, I'm particularly supportive of their efforts to meet the needs of the impacted earthquake victims," he added.

Wilson also called for the UN not to politicize humanitarian assistance bound for Syria and to circumvent the obstructions of Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It is significant that this resolution calls on President (Joe) Biden to use all diplomatic means to push the UN to get aid to those in need," he added.

Rep. Bill Keating, a Democrat, noted that the resolution sends a strong message of solidarity to the peoples of Türkiye and Syria from the US and pledged support for quake-affected victims.

The devastating Feb. 6 twin earthquakes have claimed more than 44,300 lives in Türkiye’s southern region.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, have impacted some 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa.

Over 10,200 aftershocks have been reported, including a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that jolted Malatya on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring 110 others.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Southeast Asia


Guan Eng: Hadi is lying, there are more Muslim MPs in Unity govt than PN

By R. Loheswar

01 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — DAP’s Lim Guan Eng has chastised PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for saying there are fewer Muslims in the unity government than previous governments.

The MP for Bagan said Hadi was lying when he said that 98 per cent of the turnout during the 15th general elections were non-Muslims while only 68 per cent of voters were Muslims.

“This is false and must be exposed as a lie,” said Lim in a statement.

“The actual overall turnout for the election was 74 per cent. Researcher Bridget Welsh had contradicted Hadi by stating that Malays had the best voter turnout amongst all races at 79 per cent.

“Hadi again lied by stating that the unity government is a non-Muslim government. Out of the 148 MPs supporting the unity government, more than half or 77 are Muslim MPs, dispelling the false narrative that the unity government is dominated by non-Muslim MPs.”

Two weeks ago, Hadi decried that the unity government consisted of more non-Muslims than Muslims. In a Facebook post, he said there are 50 non-Muslims and 31 Muslims MPs.

He said calling it a unity government was misleading. He said it does not have an opposition or the opposition is too small like a mosquito.

Lim, however, rebuked this statement by stating that the 77 Muslim MPs in the unity government contrast with the 72 out of 74 Perikatan Nasional (PN) MPs who are Muslims.

“In other words, there are more Muslim MPs in the unity government than the opposition PN. And yet, Hadi continues with falsehoods to project the extremist sentiments to corral the Muslim votes without any regard whatsoever for non-Muslims in Malaysia.

“Malaysia belongs to all citizens, including non-Muslims. For Hadi to continue to exclude non-Muslims is not only wrong but also opposed to the royal command of the King to respect diversity and tolerance in our multi-racial society,” he added.

Source: Malay Mail

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Malaysian Official Says Halal Market Value to Contribute to 11% of Country’s GDP by 2030

February 28, 2023

This is according to Deputy Prime Minister Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who added that the value would contribute to 11% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“The global halal industry is projected to reach RM22.34 trillion by 2030 with the total Muslim population estimated to reach 1.6 billion people.

“Meanwhile, the value of Malaysia's domestic halal market is projected to increase to RM400bil, thus contributing 11% to the GDP by 2030,” said Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Rural and Regional Development Minister, during a working visit to the Mara Food Industry Complex (Kimar) in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (Feb 28).

Ahmad Zahid also said 12,500 entrepreneurs had benefitted from Mara’s halal industry development through grants, funding and premises rentals last year.

“These entrepreneurs have successfully generated RM12bil in annual sales and created over 15,000 job opportunities,” he added.

The minister also said that to enhance the productivity of the factories in Kimar, he approved Mara’s request to increase the electricity voltage.

“I’ve received requests on the voltage capacity, and I would like to announce that the ministry will approve it.

“I hope with this, Kimar would be able to be a step ahead in the halal industry,” Ahmad Zahid added.

Source: IQNA

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Cops probing discarded copies of Quran incident in Klang Valley

28 Feb 2023

PETALING JAYA: Police have confirmed they are investigating the discovery of discarded copies of the Quran in several parts of the Klang Valley.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said the authorities had recorded statements from eight individuals.

“The case is being investigated under Section 295 of the Penal Code for damaging the Quran, and Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing racial disharmony,” he said in a statement today.

The investigation centres around whether there was an intention to insult Islam by disposing of copies of the holy book.

Acryl Sani advised people to remain calm and refrain from speculating.

“If anyone wants to dispose of the holy book, they should seek advice from the local religious councils,” he said.

In a video that went viral earlier this month, a man was seen picking up several copies of the Quran from a drain near Taman Sri Murni in Gombak.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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German foreign minister concerned about judicial independence in Israel

28 February ,2023

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday expressed concern about judicial independence in Israel as well as plans by the Israeli government to allow the death penalty.

“I will not deny that we abroad are concerned about some of the legislative plans in Israel,” Baerbock said at a news conference with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Berlin.

“Among the values that unite us is the protection of constitutional principles such as the independence of the judiciary,” she said. “That was always Israel’s hallmark.”

The new nationalist-religious government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ploughed ahead this month with its proposed changes as parliament took first steps in legislating limits to the Supreme Court’s power to strike down laws.

Another change pushed by the ruling coalition would give it more sway in picking judges. Some of the bills have won initial votes in parliament but have yet to be written into law.

Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, said earlier this week that Germany was closely watching the dispute over the plans for judicial change.

“At the end of the day, our judicial reform will strengthen democracy,” said Cohen, underscoring Israel’s openness to free speech and welcoming recent protests.

Source: Al Arabiya

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EU follows developments in Tunisia with ‘great concern’

Agnes Szucs



The EU is following the developments in Tunisia “with great concern” as the North African country is experiencing “difficult times,” the European Commission’s spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“The European Union has been following the developments very closely and with great concern in Tunisia,” Nabila Massrali, the spokesperson of foreign affairs, replied at the European Commission’s daily news briefing to a question about the recent wave of arrests targeting the critics of President Kais Saied.

She said the country “is going through difficult times” and expressed hope that the “Tunisian authorities will find the right answers for the numerous challenges” with the involvement of “all social and political stakeholders.”

“The European Union is ready and willing to support unity and efforts when it comes to structural changes,” Massrali further said.

EU foreign ministers will discuss the situation in Tunisia at their meeting on March 20.

A wave of arrests, targeting the critics of the Tunisian president, started on Feb. 11.

According to Saied, the detainees – politicians, journalists, activists, judges, and business people – are responsible for “conspiring against state security” and thus raising the price of basic commodities.

Tunisia has been in a deep political crisis since July 2021, when Saied ousted the government and dissolved the parliament.

Since then, Saied held a referendum to draft a new Constitution last July and parliamentary elections last December.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN confident Iraqis will overcome difficulties, challenges: Secretary-general

Yakoota Al Ahmad  



The UN is confident that Iraq and its people will overcome all challenges, its chief Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday.

The UN secretary-general arrived in Iraq on Tuesday, his first visit to the country in six years.

At a joint news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, Guterres said the UN remains confident that “Iraqis will be able to overcome the difficulties and challenges they still face,” the Iraqi News Agency reported.

The UN chief said he would visit internally displaced people in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region if the opportunity arises, the report said.

Guterres said he earlier met the Iraqi community in Syria to review efforts for their return home, and welcomed the Iraqi government’s steps on the issue.

Hussein, for his part, hailed Iraq’s “strong” ties with the UN.

“Relations between Iraq and the UNAMI (UN Assistance Mission for Iraq) are strong, and as a result, so are relations between Iraq and the UN,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU condemns ‘deadly cycle of violence’ in occupied Palestinian territory

Agnes Szucs  



The EU on Tuesday condemned the “deadly cycle of violence” in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“The European Union is highly concerned by the continuously spiraling violence in the occupied Palestinian territory,” Peter Stano, the lead spokesperson for the EU’s diplomatic service, said in a statement.

The EU condemns the “terror attacks” in the West Bank on Sunday and Monday, in which three Israeli people lost their lives, as well as “the outbreak of settlers violence, which resulted in the killing of one Palestinian, injuring of several hundreds of Palestinians and (…) causing the unacceptable destruction of Palestinian property,” the statement said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell talked to Israeli and Palestinian authorities, urging them “to end this deadly cycle of violence, prevent further loss of life, ensure accountability and bring the perpetrators to justice,” it said.

The statement also welcomed the role of Egypt, Jordan and the US in “facilitating the talks and calls on both parties to implement the commitments made."

Violence has escalated across the occupied territories in recent weeks amid repeated Israeli military raids into Palestinian towns.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Munich conference losing importance in absence of Tehran, Moscow: Russian envoy

28 February 2023

A senior Russian diplomat says the exclusion of Moscow and Tehran from the 2023 Munich Security Conference shows that the annual event is losing its significance in evaluating the current international situation and offering solutions to security challenges.  

Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov made the remarks to Iran’s Mizan Online news agency on Tuesday, days after the conference took place without Russian and Iranian representatives.

“This year, the Russian representatives and officials did not intend to participate in the forum. However, the mere fact that the organizers of the Munich Security Conference decided not to send invitations to Russia and Iran only confirms the diminishing value and importance of this conference,” he said.

“Moscow fully agrees with the assessments of its Iranian partners that the organizers of the event are trying to impose unilateralism on the international world order.”

The Russian envoy also noted that the participants at the Munich conference, except those representing China and some other countries, allocated most of their time and speeches to praising each other and unilateralism.

“There was no competition between views or approaches at the Munich conference. It is obvious that the event is losing its importance, influence and added value in terms of examining the current international situation and exploring creative solutions for existing security challenges.”

Source: Press TV

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South Asia


Taliban Kill ISIS Terrorist Who Planned Attacks On Diplomats In Kabul

February 28, 2023

Kabul: Taliban forces killed a top ISIS terrorist who allegedly planned attacks against diplomatic missions in Afghanistan's capital, a government official said. Violence in Afghanistan dramatically dipped after the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

But in the past year, security has worsened, with a spate of mass casualty attacks claimed by ISIS's regional chapter.

Taliban forces killed Qari Fateh, the regional IS "intelligence and operations chief", during an operation on Sunday night, the Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Monday.

Fateh "directly masterminded recent operations in Kabul, including against diplomatic missions, mosques and other targets", Mujahid said.

Another ISIS terrorist was killed in the operation against the cell, which was based in Kabul's Khair Khana area, according to Taliban.

Residents in that neighbourhood had reported loud gunfire on Sunday night.

Taliban officials posted footage on Twitter of two bodies lying in debris.

A United Nations Security Council report in July 2022 described Fateh as a key ISIS leader, charged with military operations in an area spanning India, Iran and Central Asia.

ISIS has emerged as the biggest security challenge to Taliban rule, staging attacks on foreigners, religious minorities and government institutions.

Both groups share an austere Sunni Islamist ideology, but ISIS is fighting to establish a global "caliphate" whilst the Taliban have a more inward-looking goal of ruling an independent Afghanistan.

ISIS claimed responsibility for a December gun raid on a Kabul hotel that wounded five Chinese nationals.

Also in December, the group attacked the Pakistani embassy in Kabul. Islamabad described it as an "assassination attempt" on its ambassador.

And in January, the group claimed a suicide bombing near the foreign ministry in Kabul that killed at least 10 people.

Two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside their mission in September last year, another attack claimed by ISIS.

Source: ND TV

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Islamic Emirate Diplomats Restart Official Activities in Istanbul

By Fatema Adeeb

Diplomats of the Islamic Emirate restarted official activities in Afghanistan's consulate in Istanbul on Monday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The deputy spokesman of the Foreign Ministry said that efforts are underway to provide consular services as well as diplomatic services.

“The Foreign Ministry clarifies that on Monday, the diplomats of the foreign ministry in Istanbul of Turkey resumed their work officially,” said Zia Ahmad Takal, deputy spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

“They want to bring changes just to strengthen the government of the Islamic Emirate,” said Wali Frozan, a political analyst.

The former diplomats believe that transferring embassies to the caretaker government of Afghanistan will be effective in improving the world’s relations with Afghanistan.

“Transferring the embassies or consulates of Iran and Turkey ... means the strengthening of relations and it also means the unannounced recognition of the Islamic Emirate,” said Aziz Maarij, a former diplomat.

“Another reason that these missions have been handed over (to the Islamic Emirate) is the secret relations of the diplomats with the Islamic Emirate during the time of the former government,” said Fahim Kohdamani, a former diplomat.

Source: Tolo News

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Afghanistan No Longer Celebrates Armed Forces Day

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 28, 2023

February 28 marks Armed Forces Day, which is not being celebrated for the past two consecutive years in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.

Afghanistan’s former president Ashraf Ghani issued a decree in 2017, and named February 28, as Armed Forces Day, aimed at supporting the country’s national security forces – which was approved by the then cabinet members.

In 2003, the National Army of Afghanistan for the first time after years of turmoil and political conflict was established with the support of the United States and NATO member states.

The formation of the Afghan army in a relatively shorter time span in terms of the number of soldiers, employees, weapons and military equipment was well developed. The number of Afghan soldiers reached 352,000 in 2013, which was equal to that of the Pakistani army then.

The countries which had close cooperation with the Afghan army in terms of training and logistic services included the United States, France, Turkiye, Switzerland, Tajikistan, England, China, Italy, India, Russia, Nepal, Spain, Pakistan, and Poland. Nearly 1000 army personnel used to gain military training in different countries annually.

As per the existing reports, over the past two decades (2001-2021), more than 66,000 soldiers were killed in the fight against terrorist groups and militants throughout Afghanistan.

Eventually, in 2021, Afghanistan’s 350,000 armed forces equipped with sophisticated weapons and military equipment disintegrated, and the Islamic Emirate entered Kabul after 20 years of fighting with Afghan forces.

Over the past years, February 28, knowns as Armed Forces Day was celebrated with enthusiasm, in which the people of Afghanistan and government organizations would appreciate the achievements of the Afghan armed forces.

Source: Khaama Press

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Afghan Interim Government Cabinet Members Pass Fiscal Year (1402) Budget

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 28, 2023

The Administrative Office of Afghanistan’s interim government has announced that the cabinet members passed the budget for the fiscal year 1402 and forwarded it to the Ministry of Finance.  

The Administrative Office of the Taliban regime on Tuesday announced in a statement that the cabinet members attended the grand meeting on Monday headed by the Prime Minister.

It is stated in that the budget for the year 1402 was passed, and assigned to the ministry of finance for further proceedings. 

However, the interim government’s Administrative Office has not highlighted the amount of the budget for the coming fiscal year as of now.

The officials of the ministry of finance have confirmed the development and have said that further details about the amount of the budget will be shared with the media once it is approved by the leadership of this ministry.

Ahmad Wali Haqmal, the spokesperson of the Islamic Emirate’s Finance Ministry told to Khaama Press that after the approval of the budget by the leadership of the ministry, it will be shared with the media.

This comes as the ministry of finance approved 231 billion Afghanis for the year 1401, out of which 203 billion was allocated for ordinary expenses, and 27.9 billion for developmental projects.

Currently, Afghanistan is faced with an economic and humanitarian crisis, heavily relying on foreign aid and donations. According to the World Bank findings, some 28 million populations in Afghanistan are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance to survive day-to-day life.

Source: Khaama Press

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80 Afghan citizens dead in Italian shipwreck, says Taliban foreign ministry

Feb 28, 2023

Afghanistan's Taliban-led foreign ministry said on Tuesday that 80 Afghan citizens, including children, had died in Sunday's shipwreck off the southern coast of Italy.

Rescuers have so far confirmed at least 64 people were killed after a sailboat sank in heavy seas near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria. Eighty people had been rescued and more people were believed to be missing.

"With great sadness, we learned ... that 80 Afghan refugees, including women and children, who were travelling from Türkiye to Italy in a wooden boat, drowned and died in the southern sea of Italy," the Afghan foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan prays for forgiveness for the martyrs and patience for the families and relatives of the victims, urging all citizens once again to avoid going to foreign countries through irregular migration," the statement added, referring to the Taliban's name for its government.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Swiss-based trust holds second meeting to discuss plans for Afghan funds

01 March ,2023

The board of the Swiss-based trust fund managing some $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets met for a second time last month, one of its trustees said, and discussed options for disbursing funds in line with achieving monetary stability.

The frozen central bank reserves were transferred from Washington into the “Fund for the Afghan People” last year where US officials say it will be shielded from the Taliban. The latter has condemned the transfer, calling it a violation of international norms.

Trustee Shah Mehrabi, a US academic who also remains on the Afghan central bank’s Supreme Council, said a meeting of the four trustees was held virtually on Feb. 16.

“The issue of disbursements of funds and the options for that was discussed,” Mehrabi told Reuters.

“The idea clearly here is the necessary steps to disburse funds and potential options for achieving monetary stability.”

Mehrabi said he believed the funds should only be used for achieving monetary stability and reducing volatility in Afghanistan’s exchange rate. He said he was against the funds being used to make payments for electricity, paying off Afghanistan’s loans at multilateral institutions and other payments the state should be responsible for.

He said one way to achieve price stability, if needed in future, was to engage in foreign exchange auctions to sell dollars and take some of the Afghani currency out of circulation, which would help keep inflation in check.

Economists, including Mehrabi, have noted that Afghanistan’s currency has remained relatively stable in recent months - after an initial depreciation when the Taliban took over in 2021 - partly due to large inflows of US dollars shipped to Afghanistan last year by the United Nations to carry out humanitarian operations.

Mehrabi said the board had also agreed at the meeting to seek external funding to cover the fund’s operational and administrative expenses so that the costs of running it would not eat into the assets.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab World


Saudi Arabia Affirms Human Rights Commitment and Equality among Peoples

February 28, 2023

RIYADH: President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission Hala Al-Tuwaijri affirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to enhancing and protecting human rights, as well as respecting cultural diversity and equality among peoples, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

Addressing high-level meetings of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Al-Tuwaijri, who headed the delegation representing the Kingdom, said: “Today marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which serves as the foundation for all human rights. As we recall this historic event, let us affirm that the promotion and protection of human rights require relentless and continuous efforts and the realization of transformations on the ground.

“We, in Saudi Arabia, are witnessing historical changes due to numerous reforms and advancements in a range of human rights areas that have significantly influenced growth and quality of life.”

She highlighted the significant and unprecedented reforms the Kingdom is undergoing as part of its development Vision 2030.

Al-Tuwaijri also said that the Kingdom has worked to develop its legislative system by issuing and amending numerous laws, including the law of evidence and the personal status system, and that work is taking place concerning two initiatives on civil transactions law and the penal code for discretionary sanctions.

According to Al-Tuwaijri, between 2016 and 2022, the Kingdom had a considerable drop in the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 5.8 percent. In order to eradicate any discrimination in this field, a national policy was also released to promote equal opportunity and equal treatment in the labor market.

The Kingdom has made significant strides recently in the field of women’s empowerment, as a strategic goal of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 was adopted to increase their participation in the labor market in addition to establishing a gender balance center in 2021, she said.

“Women’s participation in the labor force increased from 17 percent to 37 percent between 2017 and 2022, and their rate of economic participation increased from 28.6 percent to 39 percent between 2017 and 2021. Women’s representation in high and middle administrative positions also increased during this time, from 21.2 percent to 34.7 percent,” she said.

Al-Tuwaijri highlighted the Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts to help earthquake victims in Turkiye and Syria, with total aid so far exceeding $160 million.

She said that the Kingdom is sparing no effort in supporting humanitarian issues, including its keenness to mediate in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis in addition to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s mediation in the release of a number of prisoners.

She expressed the Kingdom’s condemnation and denunciation of the burning and destruction of copies of the Holy Qur’an by a number of extremists in a number of EU states, asserting the Kingdom’s affirmation of the need to abide by the principles and regulations outlined in international human rights standards, which forbid any promotion of national, racial, or religious hatred that would constitute an incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Al-Tuwaijri emphasized the Kingdom’s keenness of the need to give all human rights the same amount of attention so that no focus is placed on rights at the expense of others.

Source: Arab News

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Lebanon plans to hike import tariffs for second time in three months

28 February ,2023

Lebanon will triple the tariffs it charges on imports in local currency, according to copies of government decisions seen by Reuters on Tuesday, as the state seeks to boost its revenues amid a worsening economic crisis.

Caretaker finance minister Youssef Khalil requested to change the rate at which customs fees are calculated from 15,000 pounds per US dollar to 45,000 pounds, according to correspondence seen by Reuters.

Cabinet responded with a letter saying it had no objections given the move would “secure additional revenues to help revive the public sector.”

Lebanon’s local currency has lost more than 98 percent of its value since its economic collapse began in 2019, trading at an all-time high of 87,000 per US dollar on Tuesday on the parallel market.

State coffers have been drained and public services have suffered as a result, with school teachers on strike for weeks.

Lebanon’s government had already effectively increased tariffs on imported goods about 10-fold at the end of last year by changing the rate at which they were calculated to 15,000 per US dollar from the then-official rate of 1,507.5.

In February, it amended the exchange rate to match, so that the official government rate was 15,000 to the US dollar.

Unifying Lebanon’s various exchange rates is among pre-conditions set by the International Monetary Fund nearly a year ago for Lebanon to get a $3 billion bailout, but the lender of last resort says reforms have been too slow.

The country has been moving towards a cash-based and dollarized economy given spiraling inflation and restrictions by banks on transactions.

Also on Tuesday, Lebanon’s caretaker economy minister Amin Salam said supermarkets would be mandated to display the pound-to-dollar rate at which goods were priced.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon top prosecutor tells judge investigating banks to pause probe

28 February ,2023

Lebanon’s top prosecutor on Tuesday told a judge investigating the financial transactions of commercial banks to temporarily halt her work, a week after the country’s caretaker prime minister also moved to block her investigations.

Lebanese judge Ghada Aoun has been investigating the banking sector since it collapsed in 2019 following decades of corrupt government, profligate spending and financial mismanagement.

On Tuesday, top prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat sent her a letter, seen by Reuters, requesting she “stop her investigative and probing procedures temporarily, until decisions are taken on the issues raised.”

Aoun did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

She faces several complaints over her work. Last week, caretaker premier Najib Mikati told the interior minister to order security forces not to carry out Aoun’s judicial decisions, which Mikati said were “overstepping” authority.

Mawlawi issued a directive, seen by Reuters, telling Lebanon’s General Security directorate and the Internal Security Forces not to act on Aoun’s orders.

Aoun responded on Twitter that the moves represented “a total breakdown of justice in this poor country.” She called it “an unprecedented interference in the work of the judiciary.”

Politicians retain significant influence over judges’ appointments and prerogatives in Lebanon, where commercial banks also have sway.

The banks have been on strike since February 7 following a meeting to discuss the snowballing legal measures they have been facing since Lebanon’s economy began to unravel in 2019.

Those measures include steps Aoun has taken. This month, she has filed charges of money laundering against two banks.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Hajj minister meets Malaysian PM

February 28, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah and his accompanying delegation met Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya on Tuesday.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and issues related to the quota for Hajj and Umrah. They also discussed initiatives that can be implemented to improve cooperation in tourism, education, investment and trade.

The Malaysian prime minister also praised the services provided by the Kingdom to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

Recently, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah launched a program to train the leaders of foreign Hajj pilgrim groups before their arrival in the Kingdom.

The first session was held in Tabung Haji, Kuala Lumpur, and was attended by more than 30 group leaders.

The aim of the program is to improve the quality of services for pilgrims, facilitate their trips and enrich their religious and cultural experiences, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

The training session was held on the sidelines of Al-Rabiah’s official visit to Malaysia, accompanied by a delegation from government agencies and the Saudi private sector.

Further sessions will be organized in other countries before the start of this year’s Hajj season.

Source: Arab News

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Activists call on Trinidad to repatriate citizens in Syria

February 28, 2023

SAN JUAN: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Trinidad & Tobago to repatriate more than 90 of its citizens who have been detained as Daesh suspects and family members in war-torn Syria, noting that at least 56 of them are children.

Some of them were whisked to Syria as children by relatives, while others said they erroneously thought they were going to visit a Muslim utopia.

“These children never chose to live under Daesh, yet they are suffering because of their parents’ decisions,” said Jo Becker, the Human Rights Watch child advocacy director.

Most of the Trinidadians were detained in late 2018 and early 2019 by US-backed Syrian forces fighting the Daesh group in northeast Syria and are currently held in makeshift camps that activists say are dangerous and lack food, water, medical care and education.

Of the more than 90 Trinidadians detained in Syria, some 21 are women, and 44 of the at least 56 children detained are 12 years old or younger, according to the human rights organization, which said it interviewed six Trinidadians held in camps.

Among them is a 17-year-old boy whose father took him to Syria in 2014. “My father lied to me. He told me that we were going to Disneyland,” the organization quoted the boy as saying. “It’s not my fault. It’s my father’s fault … I just want to come back home.”

A 19-year-old Trinidadian man said: “My dad told me I was going to go to a hotel in Egypt and swim in a pool. I was 11 years old,” according to the organization. Trinidad & Tobago has repatriated only a handful of its citizens in recent years despite at least 130 of them traveling to Daesh-held territories from 2013 to 2016, the most people per capita of any country in the Western Hemisphere, according to Human Rights Watch.

Source: Arab News

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Iran has enriched uranium to nearly bomb grade: IAEA

March 1, 2023

VIENNA: The UN nuclear watchdog confirmed on Tuesday it had detected particles of uranium enriched to 83.7 per cent in Iran, just under the 90pc needed to produce an atomic bomb.

Asked about the particles found in Iran, the government in Tehran said “unintended fluctuations” during the enrichment process “may have occurred”.

In 2015, Iran reached a deal with world powers to limit the enrichment of uranium and allow IAEA ins­pectors to visit its nuclear sites, in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. But the deal stalled in 2018.

The IAEA report said that during an inspection “on 22 January 2023, the agency took environmental samples… at the Fordow (sic) plant, the analytical results of which showed the presence of high enriched uranium particles containing up to 83.7pc U-235”.

Source: Dawn

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Spokesman: Iran Views Recent Development in Syria-Arab States Ties As Positive


"The recent developments in the Arab countries' relations with Syria, including the trip of the delegation of the Arab parliaments to Damascus to declare solidarity with Syria after the recent devastating earthquake, in addition to being realistic, is a positive step in the path of Islamic solidarity," Kana'ani tweeted.

He pointed out that by using dialogue and regional mechanisms, the countries of the region will be able to solve their problems with realism, a national approach, and ignoring foreign domination seekers' wishes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Settler attacks continue amid ‘timid’ Israeli government response


February 28, 2023

RAMALLAH: Settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank continued for the third day running, with Palestinian sources and human rights activists condemning the “complete silence” of Israel’s security forces and “timid” government response to the violence.

Israeli settlers went on a rampage on Monday, torching dozens of cars and homes in a Palestinian town. One Palestinian was also killed in the violence following the killing of two Israelis by a suspected Palestinian gunman in the northern West Bank.

On Tuesday, another motorist was shot to death in the same manner in the occupied West Bank. The victim held both US and Israeli citizenship.

So far this year, 62 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops and civilians. In the same period, 14 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks. Since the beginning of 2023, confrontations have escalated in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem.

On Monday, Hussein Al-Sheikh, chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, met with Hady Amr, US special envoy for Palestinian affairs, to discuss ways to protect Palestinians against settler and military attacks.

Al-Sheikh and Amr spoke about the brutal settler violence in Nablus, Hawara and other West Bank cities.

Amr visited Hawara on Tuesday in the aftermath of the attacks, hearing testimonies from residents. He was briefed on the damage and losses suffered by residents.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem said in a statement that Amr visited “the victims of the Hawara attack and expressed his deepest condolences, and condemned the indiscriminate, widespread and unacceptable acts of violence by settlers.”

According to the statement, Amr said that he is “very concerned about the escalation of violence in the West Bank. We want to see full accountability and prosecution through the law of those responsible for these heinous attacks, and compensation for those whose property has been lost or otherwise damaged.”

Al-Sheikh said on Twitter: “We discussed many regional and international issues, especially the brutal attacks against the Palestinian people, including killing and burning homes by the occupation and settlers, the latest of which was in Nablus, Hawara and the cities of the West Bank.”

He added that the meeting “is a continuation of a series of meetings between the Palestinian leadership and the US administration.”

Israeli authorities have yet to announce any arrest or prosecution related to the Hawara violence.

An anonymous high-ranking Palestinian official told Arab News: “What happened in Hawara is very terrible, and the ugliness of that event forced the US to use firmer and tougher language against Israel in an attempt to protect it from its madness that will bring destruction to the region.

“While the Israel army and settlers were taking turns to abuse the Palestinians, their roles became integrated during the burning of Hawara residents’ homes and vehicles.”

Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Khatib told Arab News that the Biden administration is approaching the Israeli government “with great caution.”

The shift in policy, he said, is “limited to speech and condemnations of Israel’s actions. Israel does not take verbal criticism seriously, so its effect is almost limited.”

Khatib added that the US should take punitive measures against Israel to end its destructive policies toward Palestinians.

Political analyst Majdi Halabi told Arab News: “Netanyahu’s condemnation of the Hawara arson incident came late and was timid.”

Palestinians in Israel are organizing a protest in solidarity with the victims of settler attacks.

Israeli forces, meanwhile, tightened their lockdown of Jericho city, with all primary and secondary entrances closed, and citizen movement restricted. Jericho residents said that on Monday evening, the Israeli army raided several homes in Aqabat Jabr camp, south of the city.

On Tuesday, the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality demolished a Palestinian home in Jabal Mukaber village on the outskirts of the city.

In another development, an ultra-nationalist ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tendered his resignation as a deputy minister in the new government.

Source: Arab News

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Israel minister says Palestinian planned to kill him

March 01, 2023

JERUSALEM: Israel’s controversial far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Tuesday police had arrested a Palestinian who planned to assassinate him.

A statement from his office said the man, who was not identified, was arrested several weeks ago.

“The Arab suspect, a Jerusalem resident, who was planning to assassinate National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, was arrested a few weeks ago by police in cooperation with Shin Bet, the internal security service,” the statement said.

Ben-Gvir, who heads the Jewish Power party, has a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

The statement came after an upsurge of deadly violence in the occupied West Bank, where he lives.

Dozens of settlers went on the rampage in the northern West Bank overnight Sunday-Monday after two Israeli brothers were shot dead as they drove through the town of Huwara.

Ben-Gvir was appointed to his key security post in the new government sworn in on December 29 and led by Israel’s veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ben-Gvir advocates the annexation by Israel of the West Bank and the transfer to neighboring countries of some of the Israeli Arabs, descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land after Israel’s creation in 1948.

Ben-Gvir has also been pushing a controversial bill on the death penalty for those convicted of “terrorist” attacks that cost the lives of Israelis.

The statement said the suspect allegedly gathered information on the minister’s movements and received funds from “terrorist elements from a neighboring state,” which was not named.

Ben-Gvir was once deemed a pariah in Israel’s political arena.

In his youth, he was charged more than 50 times for incitement to violence or hate speech.

Source: Arab News

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Israeli forces demolish two Palestinian-owned houses in al-Quds, orders owners to pay heavy fines

28 February 2023

Israeli forces have demolished two Palestinian-owned homes in the occupied al-Quds, amid ongoing land grab policies by the Tel Aviv regime.

The Palestinian Information Center reported on Tuesday that Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by troops, raided the neighborhoods of Issawiya and Jabal al-Mukaber of East al-Quds, razing down two houses belonging to Palestinian residents.

Apart from demolishing the houses, the occupying regime has also ordered the owners to pay heavy fines.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have handed a demolition notice to a Palestinian homeowner in the village of Marda, north of Salfit in the occupied West Bank.

Nisfat Khuffash, head of Marda village council, told Palestine’s official Wafa news agency on Tuesday that the Palestinian-owned house is one of the 32 homes that are going to be demolished in the area under the pretext of construction without a permit.

He went on to say that an Israeli military soldier broke into the village and handed a local resident the demolition order against his 150-square-meter, one-story house where his family of three people lives.

Khuffash further noted that the other homeowners in the village who received demolition orders last year have appealed the orders at Israeli courts in the hope of stopping them.

The demolition of Palestinian homes across the occupied territories has increased since an extreme far-right administration led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office.

Palestinians regard ministers of the new cabinet, especially Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, as racist and fascist for publicly advocating the expulsion of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes, supporting Israeli extremist groups repeatedly attacking Palestinians, and stirring incitement to racism against Arabs and non-Jews.

Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds. The regime argues that the homes were built without a permit. However, the Israeli regime rarely, if ever, approves such permits for Palestinians. The Israeli forces also sometimes order Palestinian owners to demolish their own houses or pay the costs of the demolition.

Israel has already occupied thousands of dunums of Palestinian agricultural land to construct and expand new illegal settler units in various areas in the West Bank.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Source: Press TV

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