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Right-Wing and Populist Politicians in Europe Welcome Ukrainian Refugees - But Not Muslim Ones

New Age Islam News Bureau

08 March 2022


A young refugee coming from Ukraine sits on a woman's lap after arriving in Bucharest on 4 March 2022 (AFP)


• PM Imran Urges Swift Prosecution to Prevent Attacks like Peshawar

• Taliban Threatening Provincial Media in Afghanistan, Says Rights Group

• Syria: Latest Israeli Aggression Directly Coordinated With Daesh Terrorist Attack

• PAS Practices Islam, Does Not Exploit It for Politics, Nur Jazlan Told



• Ukraine crisis jeopardizes Middle East's Black Sea wheat supply

• Turkish, Moldovan presidents discuss Russia's attack on Ukraine

• Taliban school attack survivor becomes Oxford Union president

• Former UK PM Tony Blair admits he 'may have been wrong' over Iraq invasion



• Ulema to Play Key Role in Discouraging Fake News, Promoting Islamic Moral Values of Tolerance: President Alvi

• Persecution of Muslims in India Proven Two-Nation Theory True: President Alvi

• Imran Khan's Warning To Opposition on ‘No Trust’: Ready for What I Will Do?


South Asia

• Taliban critic released after being detained for two days

• Afghans believe nations falling victim to US policies

• EU Welcomes Schools, Universities Resumption for Afghan Girls

• China asks for urgent release of Afghanistan’s reserves

• IOM: close to 20 million people above 18 are unemployed in Afghanistan

• Nearly 400 Civilians Killed In Afghanistan under Taliban Rule: UN


Arab World

• Mixed reactions over Al-Azhar Imam's call to end war in Ukraine

• Arab-Israeli party rallies to get students out of Ukraine

• Russia recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine: Report

• Hezbollah Supporters Attack Protester Chanting: ‘Free Beirut, Iran Out’

• World Defense Show: Saudi Arabia, Lockheed to localize missile parts manufacturing

• UAE and Austria Sign MoU on Hydrogen Production Technology: WAM

• UAE sends 30 tonnes of emergency medical and relief aid to war-hit Ukraine


Southeast Asia

• Perlis council seeks court order to safeguard children’s Islamic faith

• Wife of senior Abu Sayyaf Group leader arrested in Philippines: Official

• Indonesian Police Probe Suspected Smugglers’ Role in Rohingya Arrival

• Indonesia recovers bodies of eight murdered technicians



• Iran Says Won’t Let ‘Foreign Factors’ Hurt Its Interests in Nuclear Talks

• Israel says it downed 2 Iranian drones in other countries

• Iran seeks ‘details’ of Russian demands on nuclear deal

• Iran asks for clarification from Russia on US ‘guarantee’

• Yemeni Minister: US behind Siege of Yemen; No Humanity Seen From West

• Israel exploits world’s double standards for its own benefit: Palestinian Foreign Ministry


North America

• US Intelligence Uncovers Plot by Iran’s Quds Force to Assassinate John Bolton: Report

• Muslim groups ask feds to intervene on behalf of Egyptian refugees in Vancouver

• Biden administration to announce sanctions waivers for Syrian Kurds, Sunni opposition-held areas

• Blinken, Israel's Lapid discuss Ukraine-Russia diplomacy, Iran nuclear talks



• BJP MLA's Remarks against Muslims Lead to Opposition Walkout In Bihar Assembly

• Two Muslim Men, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Azam Beaten Up, Religious Slurs Hurled At Them in Gurugram

• Student Accuses Hijab-Clad Girls of Issuing Threat in Mangaluru

• Few more terror modules active in Assam: CM

• Committed to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, says India at UN



• Nigeria: Islamic Finance - Sanusi Preaches Religious Tolerance, Hails Non-Muslims Promoting Non-Interest Banking

• 2 UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

• UN adviser calls for ending blockade over Libya oil fields

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Right-Wing and Populist Politicians in Europe Welcome Ukrainian Refugees - But Not Muslim Ones


A young refugee coming from Ukraine sits on a woman's lap after arriving in Bucharest on 4 March 2022 (AFP)


By Rayhan Uddin

7 March 2022

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presses on and devastates innumerable lives in the process, over 1.7 million refugees have now fled to neighbouring countries.

While most Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 have stayed behind to defend the country, women and children have headed to congested border crossings to seek asylum abroad.

The UN’s high commissioner for refugees called the situation the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

Several European countries have welcomed those fleeing, including over one million in Poland, 180, 00 in Hungary, 128,000 in Slovakia, 83,000 in Moldova, and 79,000 in Romania.

Right-wing and populist politicians in Europe have used this opportunity to draw a distinction between Ukrainian refugees and those from elsewhere - namely the Middle East and Muslim countries.

'These people are Europeans'

Spanish congressman and leader of the right-wing Vox party Santiago Abascal said that his country should welcome Ukrainian refugees, but not Muslims.

“Anyone can tell the difference between them [Ukranian refugees] and the invasion of young military-aged men of Muslim origin who have launched themselves against European borders in an attempt to destabilise and colonise it,” he told parliament last week.

Some 6,000 refugees are due to arrive in Spain, the country's minister of inclusion, social security and migration confirmed.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria, President Rumen Radev fed into racist stereotypes about refugees from outside of Europe being linked to terrorism and criminality.

“These are not the refugees we are used to… these people are Europeans,” he told journalists, referring to Ukrainians.

“These people are intelligent, they are educated people... This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists."

“In other words,” he added, "there is not a single European country now that is afraid of the current wave of refugees.”

Syrian journalist Okba Mohammad said the statement "mixes racism and Islamophobia,” as quoted in the Associated Press.

'Not a remote part of Africa'

In Greece, ruling party MP Dimitris Kairidis said during a live TV broadcast that “to sit and be slaughtered in the heart of Europe… and if you want to say it cynically, here we are not talking about a massacre in a remote part of Africa with non-religious people, but - to put it quite cynically, I know it sounds politically unorthodox, but unfortunately that also counts - Christians, whites, Europeans, who are from us, come from us".

Elsewhere, Danish Conservative politician Marcus Knuth tweeted a picture of a document showing the number of third-country nationals (TCNs) stranded in Ukraine, with the figures for Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan circled.

“We will, of course, help all Ukrainians. But we say no to inviting 2,300 Afghans and Syrians, etc. with asylum in Ukraine as well as potentially up to +10,000 more from the Middle East,” he said.

Denmark has caused a stir after Ukrainian refugees were excluded from its controversial jewellery law that was used against Syrian refugees, among others, and through which valuables were seized from those fleeing conflict.

The tone and rhetoric around the war in Ukraine have been widely criticised, with accusations of discrimination and double standards. Several media outlets were blasted for airing racist tropes, often using comparisons between 'civilised' Ukrainians and those fleeing wars in the Middle East.

On Saturday, Palestinian supermodel Bella Hadid shared an Instagram post demanding the same level of backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when it comes to Muslims suffering around the world - including in Palestine and China.

Last week, a Turkish footballer refused to wear an anti-war t-shirt condemning Russia's invasion, citing a lack of solidarity with victims of war in the Middle East.

Source: Middle East Eye

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PM Imran Urges Swift Prosecution To Prevent Attacks Like Peshawar


Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Apex Committee on National Action Plan in Islamabad on Monday. — PID


Iftikhar A. Khan

March 8, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The government has zero tolerance for terrorism, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared on Monday, calling for swift prosecution of terrorists “to set an example”.

Chairing a meeting of the apex committee on the National Action Plan (NAP) in the federal capital, the prime minister emphasised that a multi-pronged approach and vigorous implementation of NAP were required to thwart the threat of terrorism.

The meeting was attended by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, chief ministers of all the provinces, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf, federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Asad Umar, chief secretaries, inspectors general of the police, and senior civil and military officers.

The committee strongly condemned last week’s Peshawar attack and offered condolences for the martyrs. In the devastating gun and bomb attack, 57 Shia men lost their lives and 194 others sustained injuries inside the Koocha Risaldar mosque shortly before Friday prayers in Peshawar’s old city neighbourhood. The death toll later rose to 62 with the demise of five of the 10 critically injured victims.

During the NAP meeting, the prime minister stressed the need for proactive measures to tackle such incidents in future. He noted that the elements trying to destabilise the country would never succeed, as the entire nation was united to defeat the menace of terrorism.

The public, he said, had realised that these elements were trying to create disharmony based on sectarianism and hate speech, and made it clear that the state would never allow them to succeed.

The NAP’s apex committee stressed the need for strengthening the National Counter Terrorism Authority’s (Nacta) role to coordinate measures required to combat terrorism and capacity building of counterterrorism departments.

The meeting noted that provinces needed to allocate more resources for conducting effective investigations by adopting scientific techniques and setting up modern forensic labs. The need to accord a conclusive end to terrorism cases in courts of law was emphasised.

Secretary Interior Division Yusuf Naseem Khokhar presented a detailed briefing on the implementation status of NAP, including measures taken to choke terror financing, countering violent extremism, investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases, intolerance towards militancy, capacity building of law enforcement agencies, regulation and registration of seminaries, the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Area, reforms in the criminal justice system, eliminating sectarian terrorism, curbing smuggling, narco-traffic and human trafficking, the reconciliation process in Balochistan and issues related to refugees.

The meeting was briefed that most action points had been satisfactorily implemented; however, support from provincial governments is required for inter-provincial issues.

Terrorist group identified

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday disclosed that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had identified a “big terrorist group” and were set to get hold of it.

The disclosure came two days after the minister announced that all three suspects involved in the explosion at a Shia mosque in the Peshawar’s Koocha Risaldar area had been identified.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Mr Ahmed said certain foreign forces were hatching conspiracies to destabilise Pakistan.

The minister also announced three local holidays starting from March 22 to 24 in light of the upcoming meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers scheduled to be held in the federal capital.

He said foreign ministers from important Islamic countries would attend the event. A “historic” military parade would take place on March 23 in which a squadron of 25 multirole J-10C combat planes would take part in the fly-past, he said.

Mr Ahmed said Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the country an independent foreign policy. “He has put across a message to imperialist forces that out territory will not be used for terrorist attacks,” he remarked.

Pakistan was moving towards a “more neutral foreign policy” under Mr Khan’s leadership, he said, adding that the country should aim to organise itself further on matters of foreign relations.

Source: Dawn

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Taliban Threatening Provincial Media In Afghanistan, Says Rights Group


Representative Image


8 March, 2022

New York [US], March 8 (ANI): The Taliban authorities have carried out far-reaching censorship and violence against Afghan media in district and provincial centres, drastically limiting critical reporting in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.

The New York-based group said the situation facing journalists outside Kabul appears much worse than inside the capital, particularly for women.

According to HRW, journalists in the provinces have described Taliban members threatening, detaining, and beating them and their colleagues who were trying to report the news. Many journalists have felt compelled to self-censor and report only Taliban statements and official events. Women journalists have faced the most intense repression.

“Taliban harassment and attacks on journalists outside major urban areas have largely gone unreported, causing media outlets in outlying provinces to self-censor or close altogether,” said Fereshta Abbasi, Afghanistan researcher at HRW. “In many provinces, the Taliban have virtually eliminated reporting on a wide range of issues and have driven women journalists out of the profession.”

On February 2, 2022, the Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, told a meeting of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, a media advocacy group, that journalists should consider “national interests, Islamic values, and national unity” before publishing.

Mujahid said that a new media commission would be established to address any problems, and that the authorities would enforce the former government’s media law. He also said without elaborating that “women can work freely in the media by observing Islamic and national principles.”

But journalists throughout Afghanistan have said that the Taliban severely restrict their work in violation of the Afghan media law and international human rights standards on freedom of expression and the media. An estimated 80 per cent of women journalists across Afghanistan have lost their jobs or left the profession since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, and hundreds of media outlets have closed.

Many of the journalists said that Taliban intelligence officials regularly meet with media organizations to tell them what to publish and to warn them not to contradict Taliban policies or to report on acts of violence by Taliban officials, according to HRW.

“We all fear for our safety,” a reporter in Baghlan said. “If something happens to a journalist, there is no institution or system to support them, or to seek justice. There is no support for the media workers in Afghanistan right now.”

Many journalists said they or their colleagues had been beaten for trying to report on anti-Taliban protests, arbitrary detention, rising food prices, and other subjects that cast Taliban officials in a bad light. In some provinces, Taliban officials told all women journalists to stop working.

“Getting the news from Afghanistan’s rural areas has never been easy, but the Taliban’s repression of the media in the provinces is dangerous both for the journalists and the people whose lives are harmed by unreported abuses,” Abbasi said. “Governments should press the Taliban to end to all attacks on the media, whether in Kabul or the countryside.” (ANI)

Source: The Print

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Syria: Latest Israeli Aggression Directly Coordinated With Daesh Terrorist Attack




08 March 2022

The Syrian Foreign Ministry says the latest Israeli airstrikes on several sites near the capital Damascus and a Daesh terrorist attack on an army bus in the Palmyra desert in central Syria illustrate clear and direct coordination between the two acts of aggression.

“It was not a coincidence that the Israeli enemy’s latest aggression on residential neighborhoods in the suburbs of Damascus in the early hours of March 7 took place only hours after the Daesh terrorist group committed a crime which claimed the lives of a number of brave Syrian Arab Army soldiers,” the ministry said in a statement.

It argued that the co-occurrence of the two criminal acts demonstrated close and direct coordination between them.

The Syrian foreign ministry went on to say that the Damascus government has warned about the repercussions of Israel’s repeated attacks on the Syrian soil, which have killed dozens of people, inflicted heavy losses on the country’s infrastructure, and instilled fear in the civilian population, particularly women and children.

The statement also called on the United Nations and the UN Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities and avoid double standards in responding to such “seriously risky actions.”

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing an unnamed military official, reported that Israeli jets struck several sites near Damascus at around 5 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on Monday, killing two civilians and causing material damage.

The official said most of the incoming missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

The incident took place only a day after at least 13 Syrian army personnel were killed and several others injured in an attack by the Daesh Takfiri terrorists on their bus as they were traveling in the central province of Homs.

The incident took place in the desert region of the city of Palmyra in the countryside of Homs.

“At nearly 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, a military bus was targeted by a terrorist attack with various types of weapons in Palmyra countryside of al-Badiyah, east of the Third Station,” SANA reported, citing military sources.

Israel frequently targets military positions inside Syria, especially those of the resistance movement Hezbollah which has played a key role in helping the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists.

The Tel Aviv regime mostly keeps quiet about its attacks on Syrian territories which many regard as a knee-jerk reaction to the Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism.

Israel has been a key supporter of terrorist groups that have opposed the government of President Bashar al-Assad since the foreign-backed militancy erupted in Syria in March 2011.

Source: Press TV

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PAS Practices Islam, Does Not Exploit It for Politics, Nur Jazlan Told


Ahmad Nawfal Mahfodz (left) has refuted the claim by Nur Jazlan Mohamed that PAS relies on religious rhetoric to win over voters.


Faiz Zainudin

March 8, 2022

SRI GADING: A PAS leader has hit back at Umno’s Nur Jazlan Mohamed for saying the party’s religious rhetoric will not work in Johor, telling him that Islam was meant to be practised, and not exploited for politics.

Johor PAS Youth chief Ahmad Nawfal Mahfodz denied that his party relied on religious rhetoric to win over voters, citing how no one from PAS had talked about hudud law throughout the campaign for the state elections.

“It’s still something we fight for, but it’s not something we use to win votes,” he told FMT. “My concern is that some might create that perception. But we’re not riding on (Islam), instead we practise it.”

Nawfal also dismissed Nur Jazlan’s claim that PAS was not capable of talking about economics and education, saying the party comprised many professionals in various fields.

“PAS has various experts, it’s just that they (opposition parties) don’t know. So it’s not true that PAS doesn’t have any ideas when it comes to education or the economy,” he said.

Previously, Nur Jazlan, the Johor Umno deputy chief, said PAS was bereft of ideas and only talked about polygamy and promoting “ridiculous practices” like saying husbands can beat their wives “lightly”, among others.

He said the more PAS talked about religion, the better it would be for Barisan Nasional in the Johor elections.

Nawfal is in a four-cornered fight for the Parit Yaani seat, which Amanah’s Aminolhuda Hassan won in 2018 with a majority of 4,834 votes.

With the Chinese community making up 41% of the voters in Parit Yaani in 2018, Aminolhuda will be seeking to defend the seat from Nawfal, BN’s Najib Samuri and Pejuang’s Ridhauddin Mohd Tahir.

Nawfal had also contested for the Pagoh parliamentary seat in 2018 where he lost to Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.

He claimed that following BN’s defeat in GE14, it was PAS that helped Umno rebuild its “fallen fortress” in Johor through its Muafakat Nasional alliance.

However, he said, PAS now knew where Umno was weak in Johor and where it stood a better chance of snatching seats from the BN lynchpin.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Ukraine crisis jeopardizes Middle East's Black Sea wheat supply

07 March ,2022

Wheat importers face a threat to delivering politically sensitive bread supplies across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) after Russia's invasion of Ukraine closed off access to the lower priced Black Sea grain they depend on.

The ensuing conflict has halted shipping from Ukraine's ports, while financial sanctions have put payments for purchases of Russian wheat in doubt, traders and bankers say, adding another to the risk for governments in the MENA region already struggling with import costs, economic crises or conflict.

“Everyone is looking for other markets as it's becoming increasingly impossible to buy stocks from Ukraine or Russia,” a Middle Eastern commodities banker said, citing disruption to shipping, escalating sanctions and rising insurance premiums.

“The market is not expecting Ukrainian and Russian exports to resume until the fighting ends,” one trader said.

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Soaring global prices and possible export restrictions make switching to alternative origins costly, while options for expanding local production in the MENA region are limited by water scarcity and rising input costs.

While Gulf countries are protected by fiscal surpluses, other MENA countries, including Egypt and Lebanon, “remain some of the most vulnerable globally, given the dependence on wheat imports and high household spending on food”, Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said.

Egypt, often the world's largest importer, bought 80 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine last year, traders said.

But since Russia's invasion of Ukraine its state grains buyer has cancelled two tenders due to a lack of offers and high prices, while two cargoes are stuck at Ukrainian ports.

Egyptian officials say wheat reserves and the upcoming local harvest are enough to provide subsidised bread for around nine months. But they are already expecting to pay up to an additional $950 million in the current budget due to higher prices and could see an erosion of strategic reserves.

Egypt's commercial bread market could be at greater risk due to lower stocks, traders said. Prices of local wheat and flour have risen 23 percent and 44 percent respectively since the Russian invasion began, Ezzat Aziz of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce said.

Algeria, another major buyer, says it has enough grain reserves to last until the end of the year but is readmitting French wheat imports, suspended after a row over France's colonial role in the North African country.


Russia and Ukraine account for about 29 percent of global wheat exports. But with their supplies in doubt, Chicago wheat futures rose to a 14-year high on Monday.

“Importers will have to pay on average 40 percent more for wheat than before the invasion,” a second trader said.

And while Algeria, Libya and oil producers in the Gulf may find higher wheat import costs offset by rising hydrocarbon revenues, other governments have no such cushion.

In Lebanon, which is suffering one of the worst economic crises in modern history, wheat reserves stood at just one month as Russia invaded Ukraine.

In Tunisia, reduced bread stocks, rationing of flour in shops and problems docking wheat imports have raised doubts about official claims that there is enough supply to last until the summer.

Meanwhile, Morocco is set to hike grain imports after its worst drought in decades.

In Syria, whose economy has suffered from years of conflict, a source familiar with the matter said the government could lean on reserves but acknowledged that costs would increase.

Poverty and humanitarian needs are deepening.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkish, Moldovan presidents discuss Russia's attack on Ukraine

Mumin Altas 


In a Monday phone call, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu discussed the latest developments in Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The two leaders also evaluated humanitarian aid and evacuation issues in Ukraine, the Turkish Communications Directorate said in a statement.

Out of the 1.7 million people who have fled the war in Ukraine, some 83,000 went to neighboring Moldova, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Erdogan also stressed that the meeting of Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers, set to be held on Thursday on the eve of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, with the participation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, will help to cross an important threshold on the road to peace.

The Antalya Diplomacy Forum will be held on March 11-13 in Turkiye's southern resort city of Antalya.

Since Russia began its war against Ukraine on Feb. 24, it has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Taliban school attack survivor becomes Oxford Union president

March 07, 2022

LONDON: A Pakistani student who fled to Britain after surviving a Taliban school shooting has become president of the Oxford Union, the famed university debating club that helped launch the careers of countless world leaders.

Ahmad Nawaz, 21, arrived in Britain aged 14 after his brother was killed in the attack. Since taking the reins of the union, he has said he wants to make it appeal more to marginalized groups such as ethnic minorities and disabled students.

He told The Times that he cried with joy at the news of his election, adding: “It’s been the most emotional ride I’ve had in a long, long time.”

Nawaz was hit in the arm by bullets when the Taliban stormed his school in the city of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. Almost 150 children and teachers were killed.

The Taliban shot injured survivors and set the school ablaze. Pretending to be among the dead, Nawaz survived the attack only to spend weeks recovering in a hospital in Peshawar.

His arm needed urgent surgery to be saved, so he was sent to Britain’s second-biggest city Birmingham for emergency treatment.

He earned a place at Oxford University in 2020, having arrived in Britain in 2014. He has spoken at major events alongside Nobel prize-winners and world leaders, and has delivered talks in the UK on extremism and its risks.

But Nawaz is not the first Pakistani president of the Oxford Union. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007, led the debating group in 1977, becoming the first Asian woman to hold the title.

Nawaz reads philosophy and theology at Lady Margaret Hall, the same college that was attended by Malala Yousafzai, who also suffered at the hands of the Taliban in her famous story from a school bus attack to an Oxford education.

Nawaz’s rise is just as remarkable, with the student achieving an A grade at English GCSE, a secondary school qualification in Britain, despite arriving with limited English less than three years before he sat for the exams.

“I was determined and when I came to Oxford I was quite ambitious but I never thought I would get involved with the union,” he said. “This shows there are no limits, whatever your background.”

Nawaz said the union is “one of the biggest free speech platforms in the world,” adding: “When I was a child I had heard of the Oxford Union. I just wanted to step into this institution, rubbing shoulders with those from Eton, Harrow and Westminster.”

He said: “We’re going to work to make institutional change, to make more people from disadvantaged backgrounds feel comfortable and get involved, rather than just feel like it belongs to public school kids.

Source: Arab News

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Former UK PM Tony Blair admits he 'may have been wrong' over Iraq invasion

07 March 2022

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has admitted that he “may have been wrong” about the decision to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking in BBC Radio 4's The Archbishop Interviews series on Sunday, Blair defended his decision to intervene in the Middle East alongside former US president George Bush.

“People often say over Iraq or Afghanistan that I took the wrong decision but you've got to do what you think is right,” the former premier said, defending a decision that many consider indefensible.

“Whether you are right or not is another matter. In those really big decisions you don't know what all the different component elements are, and you've got to follow, in the end, your own instinct,” he added.

The 68-year-old former Labour Party leader who has been blasted for his role in horrendous war crimes committed in war-torn countries – Iraq and Afghanistan – by the British military forces, said although the decision “may have been wrong,” he had to do “what I thought was the right thing.”

Despite his controversial decision in ordering British troop deployments in foreign wars, Blair was appointed a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter -- the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry – by the country’s Queen Elizabeth II.

An online petition to strip him of his knighthood gathered more than one million signatures.

Source: Press TV

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Ulema to Play Key Role in Discouraging Fake News, Promoting Islamic Moral Values of Tolerance: President Alvi

March 8, 2022

Zubair Qureshi

President Dr Arif Alvi has called upon Ulema to play their role to discourage the phenomenon of fake news and promote Islamic moral values including tolerance among the people to create peace and harmony in the society. The president, addressing the Paigham-e-Pakistan Ulema and Mashaikh Conference held by Pakistan Ulema Council, said the fake news harmed the Muslim societies and cited the destruction of Iraq in name of the weapons of mass destruction. President urges Ulema’s role to discourage fake news, promote tolerance

said the incidents like Peshawar and Sialkot were part of a conspiracy to fan sectarianism in the country.

He said there was no room for mob justice in Islam and that the tendency had been promoted by the social media as the youth interpreted the words of their leaders keeping in view their own biases.

President Alvi advised the Ulema to highlight the importance of human rights instead of indulging in petty differences.

In his address, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Nurul Haq Qadri said the anti-state elements were poised to destabilize the country by taking advantage of any negligence on our part.

He said the incidents like Peshawar and Sialkot were part of a conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan like Iraq; however, he resolved that the Ulema would stand united to safeguard Pakistan.

He said after the Constitution of Pakistan, the Paigham-e-Pakistan was an important document signed by around 7,000 Ulema from all schools of thought.

Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said it was need of the hour for the Ulema to stand with the state against extremism and terrorism.

He said the Ulema from all schools of thought unanimously condemned the attack on a mosque in Peshawar and urged them to create an environment of unity.

Source: Pak Observer

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Persecution Of Muslims In India Proven Two-Nation Theory True: President Alvi

On Mar 8, 2022

ISLAMABAD   –   President Arif Alvi has said that given the current hate campaign , unleashed in India against Muslims, the Two-Nation Theory of founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah has proved to be true.

The president was speaking after he launched a logo in connection with the diamond jubilee celebrations of Pakistan here on Monday.

He stressed for apprising the young generation about the very contours of the Two-Nation Theory. He said Pakistan was carved out through a democratic struggle, but regretted that certain areas that had to be part of Pakistan were deliberately given to India.

President Arif Alvi expressed satisfaction that Pakistan is heading in the right direction and gaining economic stability.

Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain said a comprehensive plan has been prepared to celebrate the 75th anniversary of creation of Pakistan in a befitting manner.

Source: Nation Pakistan

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Imran Khan's warning to opposition on ‘no trust’: Ready for what I will do?

Mar 07, 2022

Amid a major upheaval amid Pakistan opposition parties trying to pull off a no-confidence motion against Pakistan PM Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have asked their lawmakers to cancel their foreign visits, if any, Dawn reported.

According to reports, PML-N and PPP are ready to file a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan in the assembly, but the numbers are not adding up as even after all combinations, Imran Khan's coalition has a lead of 17 votes in the assembly.

Here's where the number stands

According to Daily Jasrat, the ruling coalition has a total of 179 members, while the opposition claims to have the support of 24 members of the ruling party, which reduces PTI's strength to 155. But they have the clear support of seven members of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), five members of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), five members of Balochistan Awami Party, three members of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), two independent members, one member each by Jamhoori Watan Party and All Pakistan Muslim League.

No foreign visit

PPP’s information secretary Shazia Marri in a statement on Sunday said chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had asked the party lawmakers to “ensure their presence in Islamabad”, cancel their foreign visits, if any, and “refrain” from undertaking even any official foreign tour. Bilawal is of the opinion that there is no need to wait for 100% guarantee of no-trust move's success, Dawn said.

In a separate statement, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that the party leadership had issued directives to its members of the assembly to stay in Islamabad.

Ready for what I will do? Imran Khan's warning

Confident that the no-trust motion against him will not be successful, Imran Khan has issued a warning to PPP and PML-N asking whether they are ready for the consequence that they will have to face once their no-confidence motion fails.

Source: Hindustan Times

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South Asia


Taliban critic released after being detained for two days

8 March, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], March 8 (ANI): Sayed Baqir Mohseni, a political analyst and critic of the Taliban, who was detained by the group two days ago has been released, local media citing the sources reported.

According to local media, Mohseni’s relatives claimed that he has been released from the Taliban intelligence agency’s custody. Mohseni disappeared on Friday. However, Taliban security has not yet commented on the incident.

As soon as the news of Sayed’s disappearance went out, a number of social media users have called for the release of Mohseni, a university professor and critic of the Taliban. They called him the voice of Afghanistan.

Source: The Print

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Afghans believe nations falling victim to US policies

07 March 2022

When it comes to NATO’s support and American leadership, we have better ask Afghans. They have the experience of twenty years of western forces’ presence in their country. Afghans had counted on western powers at the beginning but what the US and its allies really bought for Afghanistan?

Sayed Baqer kazimi was an advisor to the former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. He believes Ghani’s government easily collapsed because he trusted the US and relied on NATO forces.

Some Afghan experts also blame crises in Ukraine on the US, saying nations are falling victim to the US policies of creating war and terror.

After twenty years of invasion, the US and its allies hastily abandoned Afghanistan in mid-August last year. Today the country is dealing with the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: Press TV

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EU Welcomes Schools, Universities Resumption for Afghan Girls

07 Mar 2022

European Union’s special representative for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson has expressed hope about the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and called it positive.

Tomas Niklasson has said that reopening schools and universities for Afghan girls are good news and a positive step for the future of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the special representative urges the de facto authorities in Kabul to make efforts for gaining internal legitimization.

“De facto authorities in Kabul have allowed girls and boys in Afghanistan to get educated and have reopened schools and universities for them. There are hopes about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan to get better.” Niklasson said.

This comes as universities for both boys and girls have been reopened and high schools for girls are also expected to reopen in March-end across Afghanistan. Co-education in universities has ended and girls and boys are segregated over time.

Source: Khaama Press

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China asks for urgent release of Afghanistan’s reserves

08 Mar 2022

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the United States has left Afghanistan irresponsibly and asked that country to unfreeze the country’s $7 billion urgently.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, March 7, 2022, Wang Yi attacked the US for withdrawing irresponsibly from Afghanistan, abandoning the Afghan people in a humanitarian crisis, and causing immense security challenges to the region.

The foreign minister acknowledged that they are working in cooperation with regional countries to expedite the process of humanitarian assistance delivery to the vulnerable Afghan people.

Meanwhile, Yi added that China is preparing for the third conference of foreign ministers of the region that will address Afghanistan’s situation.

China is holding a conference in Afghanistan wherein foreign ministers of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan are invited. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will also be taking part and will hold a trilateral meeting with China and Pakistan at the sideline of the conference that takes place in March end.

Source: Khaama Press

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IOM: close to 20 million people above 18 are unemployed in Afghanistan

07 Mar 2022

International Organization of Migration has published its Baseline Mobility Assessment Round 14 conducted in November-December 2021.

The assessment views that lack of education and economic opportunities have resulted in many IDP children having to do hard work.

Conducted in 401 districts of 34 provinces of Afghanistan, the assessment indicates that nearly 20 million people above 18 are unemployed whereas, over 10 million Afghan people do not visit health facilities.

“$471 average debt has been accumulated by families, 57% of the Afghan population are in need of drinking water, 7,993 Afghan settlements did not receive any humanitarian assistance during six months, 3% of Afghan population have at least one vulnerability or disability, and over 2 million Afghan children do not go to school.” Elucidates the assessment paper.

Meanwhile, the assessment shows that nearly 6 million people are still internally displaced in Afghanistan while over 4.5 million people have fled out of Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Nearly 400 civilians killed in Afghanistan under Taliban rule: UN

7 Mar 2022

A new United Nations report has said nearly 400 civilians have been killed in attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, more than 80 percent by a group affiliated with ISIL (ISIS).

It is the first major human rights report since the Taliban seized power from the former US-backed government in August, triggering concerns in the West about a broader rollback of rights for women, journalists and others.

It covers the period from August 2021 to the end of February and said that 397 civilians were killed mostly in a series of attacks by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) group.

More than 50 people with suspected ties to the armed group had been killed in the same period, it said, with some tortured and beheaded and left by the roadside.

“The human rights situation for many Afghans is of profound concern,” said Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a speech introducing the report to the top rights body in Geneva on Monday.

“Several suicide and non-suicide attacks were perpetrated by ISKP against Shia Muslims, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group,” she added.

ISKP, which first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in late 2014, is thought to have spread in the wake of the Taliban takeover and has been blamed for several attacks in recent months, including one at Kabul airport last August.

Women’s rights

In the same speech, Bachelet said that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers had curtailed women’s rights and freedoms. She called for women to be allowed to “fully participate” in public life.

Bachelet also referred to “a number of disturbing cases of enforced disappearances” of activists and protesters and expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of expression.

“I remain concerned by the progressive erosion of civic space,” she said.

Under their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban barred women and girls from education. They have said they have since changed that policy.

The Geneva-based Rights Council is set to appoint a special rapporteur on Afghanistan to probe alleged violations by the Taliban and others at the end of its current month-long session.

‘Devastating’ crisis

Moreover, Bachelet said the country was facing “a devastating humanitarian and economic crisis” that hampering the Afghan people’s economic, social and cultural rights.

“More than half the population now suffer extreme levels of hunger. An increase in child labour, child marriage and the sale of children has been observed,” Bachelet noted.

According to the UN, nearly nine million Afghans are at risk of famine.

The foreign aid that once propped up the country has been slow to return in the wake of US sanctions.

Source: Al Jazeera

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Arab World


Mixed reactions over Al-Azhar Imam's call to end war in Ukraine

March 7, 2022

A call by the Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, one of the highest seats of Sunni Islamic learning, Dr. Ahmed El-Tayyeb, to end the war in Ukraine has received mixed reactions from social media users.

"We are witnessing Ukrainian civilians leave their homes in quest of safety and security, which is a true test of our humanity," El-Tayyeb said in a statement on Facebook and Twitter.

"I call on the international community to increase humanitarian aid to Ukraine and exert further efforts to end the war," he added.

While some social media users welcomed the posts, others criticised him for not condemning the persecution of vulnerable Muslims around the world.

"What about the Uyghurs, the Rohingya and the Muslims of India? Or did they come to us from the moon, and we are not related to them by brotherhood of religion? Isn't it better that we stand up to the Hindus who terrified Muslim women before we look into the matter of the Christian Ukrainian women?" one social media user said.

Source: Middle East Monitor

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Arab-Israeli party rallies to get students out of Ukraine

Afif Abu Much

March 7, 2022

Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops to attack Ukraine’s cities on Feb. 24, Ra’am and the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement opened a joint emergency situation room to oversee the extraction of Israeli Arab students. According to estimates, there are between 2,000 and 2,500 Israeli Arab students in Ukraine, most of them studying medicine. They decided to study overseas due to the difficulty in getting accepted to Israeli universities because of a limited number of places, particularly in the faculties of medicine.

As part of the operation, which was led by Ra’am, a number of pick-up points were created along the borders of countries neighboring Ukraine, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. Arab students were told to get to these points, where there would be party representatives and volunteers to provide them with transportation, lodging, food and drink. They would also be provided with an internet connection so that they could call worried family members back home and allay their fears. Finally, they would also arrange flights back to Israel for anyone who wanted that.

Ra’am’s rescue efforts were led by Knesset member Iman Khatib-Yassin and the party’s Director-General Ibrahim Hijazi. The party’s leader, Mansour Abbas, maintained constant contact with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Ukraine to coordinate with everyone working on the issue. The goal was to be totally synchronized at any given moment so that the operation would be as successful as possible.

The results were quick in coming. Within just two days, on Feb. 26 Ra’am announced that they were able to ensure the exit of hundreds of students from Ukraine, with an emphasis on Odessa, Dnipro and Kharkiv. Party representatives waited for them at the Moldova border crossing to provide them with lodgings in hotels and basic needs. Similar operations took place on Ukraine’s borders with Romania and Poland to help students arriving there. The students were then taken to the Romanian city of Iasi, from where they would be flown to Israel. Knesset member Khatib-Yassin managed contacts with the Foreign Ministry to ensure that there were flights from Romania to Israel. Then, on March 1, she waited at Ben Gurion Airport to greet the arriving students. Ra’am also provided these services to Arab students from other countries, such as Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan, and who came to the party’s meeting points across the Ukrainian border.

This complex logistical operation required numerous volunteers and party activists to get it off the ground. One of these was Dr. Julliette Shomali of Shfaram, who studied in Moldova. She did not hesitate to fly to Poland so that she could meet the students arriving there, help them with whatever they needed and volunteer her experience as someone who studied overseas.

She told Al-Monitor, “I was in touch with Knesset member Khatib-Yassin’s office and decided to travel there to volunteer. I spent four days on the Polish border. When I saw that there was a shortage of hotel rooms, I contacted representatives of the Franciscan church, which immediately rose to the challenge. They offered the students rides in their cars and provided them with lodging in the church’s monastery. On Sunday, The first day, I coordinated the arrival of 25 students; the second day, for another 30 students; and later, an additional six students. Some of the students were from East Jerusalem, and the Palestinian consulate in Poland joined in to help them. The Palestinian consulate in Poland helped with students from East Jerusalem.”

Also volunteering in Ra’am’s initiative was paramedic Fuad Issa from Kafr Qassem, a member of the European Emergency Committee, which acts during natural disasters. With experience in emergency situations, he worked in Ra’am’s situation room in Israel to help extract the students. He told Al-Monitor, “I decided to volunteer even though I am not a member of Ra’am or the Islamic Movement, because it is a humanitarian emergency. We were in charge of synchronizing transportation for the students to the various border crossings, which meant administering a complicated logistical operation long distance. We were in touch with the students, their families in Israel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, hotels and the Franciscan church to coordinate all the different components of the operation. I will say that I heard some horrific stories. One student spent three nights in a metro station before we were able to locate him, bring him to the border and fly him to Israel. Students who arrived at the border in organized rides came from a variety of countries, but we focused first and foremost on helping Arab students from Israel.”

As if all of this is not enough, on March 5, Ra’am released a letter that it received from the Romanian Ministry of Education, with a preliminary agreement to enable students who fled Ukraine to continue their studies in various Romanian universities recognized by Israel.

There is no doubt that Ra’am wanted the upper hand in its competition with the Arab Joint List party over the Arab vote when it comes to the issue of Israeli Arab students in Ukraine. It wanted to show the Arab sector that being part of the coalition has diplomatic advantages as well. So, while Knesset members from the Joint list like Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi left posts on Facebook for Arab students about how to contact the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ra’am created a network that provided students with help on the ground.

Source: Al Monitor

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Russia recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine: Report

07 March ,2022

Russia is recruiting Syrians skilled in urban combat to fight in Ukraine as Moscow’s invasion expands deeper into Ukrainian cities, US officials told the Wall Street Journal.

“Russia, which has been operating inside Syria since 2015, has in recent days been recruiting fighters from there, hoping their expertise in urban combat can help take Kyiv and deal a devastating blow to the Ukraine government,” the WSJ cited four US officials as saying.

One official said that Syrian fighters are already in Russia preparing to enter Ukraine.

A Syrian outlet based in Deir Ezzor says Russia has offered volunteers between $200 and $300 “to go to Ukraine and operate as guards” for six months at a time.

The WSJ report comes three days after Russian President Vladimir Putin alleged that Ukrainian forces were using human shields, and that “foreign mercenaries” from the Middle East were fighting Russian troops on the ground.

“The fact that we are fighting specifically against neo-Nazis is shown by the very course of hostilities. Nationalist and neo-Nazi formations, and among them there are foreign mercenaries, including those from the Middle East, are hiding behind civilians as a human shield,” Putin said.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters the 12th day, international government official and intelligence reports say that Moscow’s military operations are behind schedule having faced unexpected resistance from Kyiv’s forces.

Ukraine’s authorities have early on opened its doors for any international volunteers who are willing to fight in the country.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN on Sunday that there are some 20,000 foreign fighters joining Ukraine’s efforts to repel the Russian invasion, mostly from Europe.

So far, the conflict has led to dozens of civilian casualties. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Monday that it recorded 406 killed and 801 injured, estimating that the real figures are “considerably higher.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hezbollah Supporters Attack Protester Chanting: ‘Free Beirut, Iran Out’

07 March, 2022

Hezbollah supporters beat a Lebanese man on Monday after he was seen chanting “Free Beirut, Iran out” and smashed a poster of slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.

The Beirut International and Arab Book Fair is currently being held in the Lebanese capital, once hailed as a beacon of freedom of expression.

A large poster of Soleimani was seen at the Iran stand at the book fair alongside books and other pictures of him and Iranian leaders.

Heading to the poster of Soleimani, the man protesting began trying to take it down before another man confronted him.

The protester kept chanting “Free Beirut, Iran out,” as he was attacked by a group of men saying, “we will show you what freedom is like.”

The book fair is run by former Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora’s sister, Salwa Sanioura Baasiri.

Hezbollah has been one of the main factors Lebanon has become isolated from the Arab world. Its control over state institutions and other facets of the country has also become an issue.

Source: Al Arabiya

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World Defense Show: Saudi Arabia, Lockheed to localize missile parts manufacturing

07 March ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) on Monday signed an agreement at the Riyadh World Defense Show to localize manufacturing of missile interceptor launchers and missile interceptor canisters.

The deal comes as part of the Kingdom’s strategy of localizing more than 50 percent of defense manufacturing by 2030.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems, or THAAD, is produced by Lockheed Martin to protect against short and medium range missiles.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia “expressed its intent to procure more than US $28 billion” in defense technology, for which Lockheed says is working in partnership to “align with Vision 2030” in a statement.

A Lockheed spokesperson, in a statement to Al Arabiya English, said that the latest move comes in recognition of Saudi Arabia’s industrial base and the growth opportunity it provides.

The US-based aerospace company said they “look forward to helping SMEs become part of the supply chain for key defense systems that the Kingdom is procuring.”

They also said that the new agreement seeks to create jobs for “highly skilled Saudi engineers.”

A GAMI spokesperson was not immediately available for comment, but Gasem al-Maimani, GAMI Deputy Governor, said in a media statement that “these two localization projects, are in further service of this promising sector’s national priorities.”

“Air domain defense readiness is expected to be greatly enhanced,” he added in the statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE and Austria sign MoU on hydrogen production technology: WAM

07 March ,2022

The United Arab Emirates and Austria signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on advancing hydrogen production capacity in the UAE, Emirati state news agency WAM said on Monday.

“The MoU aims ... to contribute to enhancing UAE’s position as a global pioneer producer in the energy sector,” Emirati Industry and Advanced Technology Minister Sultan al-Jaber said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE sends 30 tonnes of emergency medical and relief aid to war-hit Ukraine

07 March ,2022

The United Arab Emirates sent on Monday an aircraft carrying 30 tonnes of emergency health aid and medical supplies, as part of its emergency relief efforts to assist the needy civilians in Ukraine, according to Emirates News Agency (WAM).

This came in response to the international humanitarian appeal to support displaced Ukrainians and refugees in neighboring countries. There are more than 1.2 million refugees so far.

The aircraft landed in Lublin, Poland, and the medical and relief aid were handed over to the Ukrainian authorities in Poland to be transported to Ukraine.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Southeast Asia


Perlis council seeks court order to safeguard children’s Islamic faith

March 8, 2022

PETALING JAYA: A Perlis religious agency has sought to intervene in Loh Siew Hong’s divorce petition to maintain her children’s Islamic faith.

The Perlis Islamic religious and Malay customs council (MAIPs) has applied to the Kuala Lumpur High Court to allow it to provide Islamic education to Loh’s 14-year-old twin daughters and 10-year-old son.

The High Court recently granted the single mother full custody of her children.

In a statement, MAIPs’ lawyer, Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, said the council had locus standi in the application because the father converted them to Islam in Perlis.

“We stress that this application is in no way denying Loh’s rights over her children. We hope that no parties will try to stoke religious hate or racist sentiments over this,” he said.

In addition to Islamic education, he said, MAIPs intended to provide financial support for the children through zakat (tithes) and other forms of aid to be given directly to Loh.

He said the council also planned to guide Loh on how to bring up her children in a conducive environment according to Islamic law (syarak).

Zainul said the children appeared to be interested in carrying on as Muslims in their daily lives, including praying, and noted that one of them was reported to be keen on becoming a syarie lawyer.

“MAIPs is not meddling or interfering with any party in the divorce of Loh Siew Hong and Muhammad Nagahswaran Muniandy. The council just wants to care for their (the children’s) well-being,” he said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Wife of senior Abu Sayyaf Group leader arrested in Philippines: Official

March 07, 2022

MANILA: The wife of one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group described as a “would-be bomber” has been arrested in the Philippines, authorities announced on Monday, in the latest string of operations to weaken the militant organization in Sulu province.

Nursitta Mahalli Malud, also known as Kirsita Ismael, is the second wife of Mudzrimar “Mundi” Sawadjaan, authorities said. Sawadjaan, a notorious ASG leader and bomb maker, helped plan the bloody 2019 Sulu cathedral attack, which left dozens dead, and other suicide bombings in the island province.

Malud was arrested on Saturday, in possession of bomb-making components, in the provincial capital Jolo during a joint operation by the military and police.

“The said suspect was confirmed as the second wife of well-known Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and bomb maker Mundi Sawadjaan,” the Joint Task Force Sulu said in a statement.

Officials added that Malud was Sawadjaan’s finance officer and responsible for procuring items to make improvised explosive devices.

“As the group of Mundi Sawadjaan dwindled, they have become desperate and at the same time reckless,” JTF Sulu commander, Brig. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio, said.

“Now that all his companions have been arrested one after another, his capability to conduct a possible attack has weakened,” he added.

The latest arrest came after authorities foiled a bombing attempt in Patikul town, located about 27 kilometers from Jolo, after receiving a tip-off from local residents.

Philippine authorities arrested Mundi’s other wife, Fatima Nasser Anilhusra-Sawadjaan, in February last year.

Sawadjaan’s youngest brother Al-Al, was killed in June, while his other brothers were killed in military operations conducted in previous years.

Source: Arab News

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Indonesian Police Probe Suspected Smugglers’ Role in Rohingya Arrival


Indonesian authorities are investigating the possible role of a people smuggling ring in the weekend arrival of 114 Rohingya in the Aceh region after 25 days at sea, a police spokesman said Monday.

Villagers in coastal Bireuen regency saw the group of 58 men, 21 women and 35 children disembark from a rickety wooden boat and helped them find shelter in the early hours of Sunday, police and officials said.

The Rohingya were later moved to a neighborhood mosque, where they were given food and underwent medical checkups and tests.

“We are investigating [possible people smuggling] and are still collecting information from witnesses and evidence,” said Senior Commissioner Winardy, a spokesman for Aceh police.

The group was the second to arrive in this area since Dec. 27 when local fishermen rescued 120 Rohingya, including 51 children, off North Aceh after their boat’s engine failed.

The Bireuen administration has provided food for this latest group of Rohingya, while locals set up a kitchen at the mosque where the Rohingya were staying, said a local community leader, Muslim A. Majid. He said the Rohingya were spotted by locals who were looking for crabs near the beach.

“When we found them, they had got off the boat and were sitting in the quiet part of the beach,” he told BenarNews.

Winardy, the police spokesman, said the Rohingya spent more than three weeks at sea with little food.

“We found that 74 of them had UNHCR cards, and 30 people had [COVID-19] vaccine cards,” he said, referring to the United Nations refugee agency.

A spokeswoman for UNHCR, Mitra Suryono, said it was not immediately clear where the Rohingya were traveling from or where they were headed.

“Right now, our focus is their health. They have undergone COVID tests and will have a period of quarantine,” she said.

As with previous arrivals, “there were some who already had cards issued by the UNHCR in Bangladesh, because they had previously fled there and were registered as refugees there,” she said.

Since Burmese security forces launched a brutal crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state against the Rohingya in 2017, refugees have paid traffickers to transport them to Thailand and Malaysia. The Rohingya hope to find work away from Myanmar or crowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

Since the 2017 crackdown, about 740,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar settled in camps in and around Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, now home to about 1 million of the refugees. Over the years, groups of Rohingya have packed into boats and sailed off in search of asylum in other countries, but have often been refused entry.

A young refugee in the batch of new arrivals said he had left his mother behind at a refugee camp in Bangladesh and followed his uncle to start a new life, preferably in a majority-Muslim country such as Indonesia or Malaysia.

“We left Bangladesh because the Rohingya situation at the camp is not good, it’s getting very bad at the moment,” 11-year-old Omar Faruk told an AFP journalist on Sunday in English, adding that his group had been at sea for 25 days.

“We left Bangladesh to this country to make a beautiful future ... I have no father, only one uncle and my mum is still in Bangladesh,” he said. “I came here because I want to improve my education.”

Muzakkar A. Gani, the chief of Bireuen regency, said he hoped that the Rohingya would be transferred to the city of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh regency under the supervision of the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR.

“The temporary shelter in Bireuen is not secure enough and there are concerns that the refugees will flee,” Muzakar told reporters.

At least 36 of the 120 Rohingya who arrived in December have fled their Lhokseumawe camp, prompting concerns that a human trafficking ring had smuggled them out of Indonesia, Muzakar said.

Source: Benar News

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Indonesia recovers bodies of eight murdered technicians

March 08, 2022

By Katharina R. Lestari

Authorities in Indonesia have recovered the bodies of eight technicians killed by armed separatists in a remote and mountainous district in restive Papua province after having to wait five days due to bad weather.

All eight were working for an agency making improvements to a transceiver station in Beoga in Puncak district when they were attacked and shot on March 2.

The West Papua National Liberation Army and the Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) admitted responsibility for the shootings. According to the group’s spokesman, the workers paid the price for entering an area which the rebels had previously declared a no-go zone for civilians.

Papua police spokesman Senior Commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said the bodies were recovered on March 7 by police and military personnel in four helicopters.

He said the bodies were later flown to their hometowns in the district and elsewhere in Indonesia to be handed over to their families.

“We also held a memorial service to honor the eight workers who heroically lost their lives trying to better develop Papua,” he said.

Senior Commissioner Muhammad Firman, who headed the recovery team, said the recovery of the bodies had to be delayed several times due to bad weather. He said the victims could only be reached by air.

Meanwhile, Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, deputy head of politics, law, security and human rights at the Presidential Staff Office, called on law enforcement officers “to take strict, thorough and proportional legal action against the perpetrators.”

She said there were at least seven attacks by armed separatists in the province in January and February that left 13 dead and five injured.

Amnesty International Indonesia denounced the recent shootings and other attacks against civilians in the province.

“Killings committed by anyone can never be justified and are clearly an insult against the fundamental principles of human rights,” said Usman Hamid, the rights group’s executive director.

Source: UCA News

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Iran says won’t let ‘foreign factors’ hurt its interests in nuclear talks

07 March ,2022

Iran will not allow any “foreign factor” to harm its interests in ongoing nuclear negotiations between Tehran and world powers in Vienna, Iran’s top diplomat said on Monday, after new Russian demands cast doubt on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“While standing up for our red lines, we will not allow any foreign factor to affect Iran’s national interests in the Vienna talks,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying.

The Vienna talks appeared even more complicated over the weakened after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow wanted written guarantees from the US that Russia’s economic and military cooperation with Iran would not be harmed by Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine after the 2015 deal is revived.

Russia is a participant in ongoing negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring the deal, along with Iran, China, Britain, France and Germany. The US is participating indirectly in the talks due to Tehran’s refusal to negotiate directly with Washington.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday Tehran was waiting to hear more about Russia’s demands through diplomatic channels, indicating Lavrov’s comments were made without prior coordination with Iran.

Iran sees Russia as a strategic ally. Tehran has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and instead blamed the West – especially the US – for the conflict. Iranian state media’s coverage of the conflict has also been heavily pro-Russian.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine “have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal and the prospects of getting back into that agreement.”

“These things are totally different and are just not in any way linked together, so I think that’s irrelevant,” Blinken said on CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s top security chief, said on Monday it “remains unclear” whether a deal will be reached in Vienna, blaming the US.

“Prospect of a deal in #ViennaTalks remains unclear due to Washington’s delay in making political decisions,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Vienna talks, which began in April 2021, aim to bring Iran back into compliance with the deal and facilitate a US return to the agreement. The deal offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, reimposing sweeping economic sanctions on Tehran. Iran responded by breaching many of the deal’s restrictions, including a 3.67 percent cap on the purity to which it could enrich uranium.

Tehran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, has since started enriching uranium up to as high as 60 percent purity – a big step closer to the 90 percent required for weapons-grade material.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel says it downed 2 Iranian drones in other countries

07 March ,2022

The Israeli military said Monday that it used sophisticated F-35 stealth fighters to shoot down two Iranian drones in third countries a year ago, providing details about the incidents, which had been under military censorship.

A military official who briefed reporters on the March 2021 events declined to say where the drones were intercepted or whether those countries gave permission for the use of their airspace.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations, said the drones were launched from Iran and were bound for Israel.

“The UAVs were intercepted in regional airspace in coordination with neighboring countries before they could enter Israeli skies,” the military said in a statement, using an acronym for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Israel says Iran and its allies in the region are actively developing and testing long-range drones that can transfer ammunition, collect intelligence and carry out attacks. It says the drones shot down last March were carrying handguns and explosives bound for the West Bank and Gaza.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran seeks ‘details’ of Russian demands on nuclear deal

07 March ,2022

Iran said Monday it was awaiting “details” on Russia’s demands for US guarantees that could potentially delay reaching an agreement in talks aiming to restore Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow wants written guarantees from Washington that Western sanctions imposed on it over the Ukraine conflict will not affect its economic and military cooperation with Tehran, ahead of any conclusion of a revived Iran nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dismissed these demands as “irrelevant”. Sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine “have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal”, he said on CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Monday “we have also seen and heard Mr Lavrov’s remarks in the media.”

“We are waiting to hear the details of that through diplomatic channels,” he added, during his weekly news conference.

“Iran’s peaceful nuclear cooperation should not be affected or restricted by any sanctions, including Iran’s peaceful nuclear cooperation with Russia, China and other countries,” he said.

Russia, which was slapped with wide-ranging economic sanctions by the US and the EU following its invasion of Ukraine, is party to ongoing talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, along with Britain, China, France and Germany. The United States is participating indirectly.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, but the US unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump who reimposed heavy economic sanctions on Tehran.

That prompted Iran to begin rolling back on its own commitments.

The Vienna talks aim to return the US to the nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran, while Tehran would in turn return to full compliance with its commitments.

As with the original agreement, Moscow is expected to play a key role in the implementation of any fresh deal with Tehran, for example by receiving shipments of enriched uranium from Iran.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran asks for clarification from Russia on US ‘guarantee’



Iran said Monday it has asked for clarification from Moscow over Russian demands for a “written guarantee” from the US regarding its cooperation with Tehran.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said he has heard Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's comments about guarantees from Washington that its cooperation with Tehran will not be hindered by sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Russian war in Ukraine.

He said Russia's approach in the Vienna nuclear talks has been “constructive”, and its concerns in the wake of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis are “understandable”.

Moscow has sought a “written guarantee” from the US that the sanctions imposed on it by the US-led NATO military coalition would not hamper its cooperation with Iran.

In remarks on Friday that have stirred up a hornet’s nest and fueled speculation that Moscow could withdraw from the marathon talks, Lavrov said Russia wants a written guarantee that its trade and military cooperation with Iran would not be forestalled by recent sanctions.

“We want an answer - a very clear answer - we need a guarantee that these sanctions will not in any way touch the regime of trade, economic and investment relations which is laid down in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Lavrov said.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, he noted, Russia and China – Tehran’s two all-weather-allies – would be permitted to help Iran develop its civilian nuclear program in line with non-proliferation guidelines.

Khatibzadeh said they have asked for the clarification and are looking to hear the details from Moscow through diplomatic channels.

"It is clear that the Vienna talks are moving in the right direction,” the spokesman said. “Iran's peaceful nuclear cooperation should not be limited or affected by any sanctions, including Iran's cooperation with China, Russia and other countries."

On Sunday, Sayed Mohammad Marandi, a media adviser to Iran’s negotiating team in Vienna, also said that Iran was “waiting for clarification from Moscow about their demands from the US”.

It comes as the talks, which have been underway since April last year, are close to an agreement between Tehran and Washington, which would roll back Iran’s nuclear activities in return for relief from harsh sanctions.

Russia’s substitute

Experts believe that once sanctions are eased, Iran will be in a position to sell its vast reserves of oil and gas to Europe, replacing Russia as the main supplier. That will reduce Europe’s overwhelming dependence on Russian energy.

Although Western countries have not yet imposed direct sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas sector, there is a speculation that if Iran steps in as Russia’s substitute, the sanctions would move ahead swiftly.

That, many believe, is causing jitters in Moscow.

Last month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran is ready to supply natural gas to the world, including Europe.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Yemeni minister: US behind siege of Yemen; no humanity seen from West

08 March 2022

Yemen’s information minister says the United States is responsible for the crippling blockade on Yemen and slammed Western powers’ response to the suffering of Muslim nations for lacking humanity.

Speaking to al-Masirah TV channel, Dhaifallah al-Shami stressed that the policy of starving the Yemenis and besieging them will fail as they will not sit idly by.

“The siege of the Yemeni nation is an entirely American decision. Today, the Yemeni nation warns all the arrogant powers that it is moving towards its great options,” he said.

“Our nation does not accept to die of starvation and siege. It has many options to defeat the siege.”

Shami further emphasized that the Yemenis are “steadfast and patient,” and that it is not possible to kill them by confiscating ships carrying oil derivatives to the Arab country.

“The humanity that the Western societies talk about only exists in their own societies. Muslim nations do not see their humanity and do not hear its voice,” he added.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched the war on Yemen in March 2015. In addition, Riyadh has also imposed an inhumane siege on the country, cutting off the Yemeni population’s access to the outside world via land, air, and sea.

The blockade includes the closure of the port of Hudaydah, which is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

The invading forces have also seized ships carrying critically needed petroleum products and prevented them from entering the port, causing a fuel shortage that has knocked out generators and water pumps in hospitals and disrupted aid supplies across Yemen.

On Monday, several Yemeni cities and provinces, including the capital Sana’a, witnessed mass protests in condemnation of the siege. The rallies were codenamed “blockade of fuel is an American decision, Yemen Storm operation is our choice.”

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Supreme Political Council reiterated its commitment to the will of the Yemeni nation in the face of the enemy.

“The current stage requires us to unite and firmly stand against the options that the enemy wants to impose on us using the dirty tools of hunger and intimidation,” it said in a statement.

“The enemy’s pressure will not deter us from taking action to end this injustice. We must also pay more attention to the elements of power that our people have at their disposal,” the statement added.

Backed by the US and major European powers, the Saudis waged the war with the objective of reinstalling the former Riyadh-friendly regime in Yemen and crushing the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government in Yemen.

The war has stopped well shy of all of its goals, despite killing tens of thousands of Yemenis and turning entire Yemen into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: Press TV

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Israel exploits world’s double standards for its own benefit: Palestinian Foreign Ministry

07 March 2022

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry says the “double standards” adopted by the international community in dealing with global issues have emboldened the Israeli regime to keep committing crimes against the Palestinians.

In a statement on Monday, the ministry said Israel persists in “stealing the Palestinian land” and violates the “signed agreements, the international law, the UN resolutions.”

The ministry also denounced the killing of Yamen Nafez Jafal, 16, at the hands of Israeli forces. Palestinian sources said Jafal was injured by Israeli forces when they stormed the village of Abu Dis in East al-Quds on Sunday. Israeli troops barred an ambulance from reaching the injured as he was bleeding. The sources said Jafal was pronounced dead after he was taken to hospital.

The Tel Aviv regime has been criticized for its extensive use of lethal force against and extrajudicial killing of the Palestinians who do not pose an immediate threat to the occupation forces or to the Israeli settlers.

Earlier in the day, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas condemned the killing of Jafal as a “full-fledged war crime.”

The foreign ministry also stated that Israel is exploiting the current global circumstances “in the most horrific way” in order to expand its settlements and force the displacement of Palestinians “in a bid to abolish the Palestinian presence in al-Quds and all areas classified as ‘Area C’ in the West Bank.”

Area C, which is under full Israeli control, makes up more than 60 percent of the entire occupied West Bank, and would form a significant part of a future Palestine state.

Source: Press TV

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North America


US intelligence uncovers plot by Iran’s Quds Force to assassinate John Bolton: Report

07 March ,2022

The US has uncovered a plot by Iran to kill one of the national security advisors to former President Donald Trump, a US official was cited as saying in an article published Monday.

According to the plot, which the Washington Examiner reported, at least two Iranian nationals from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ - Quds Force (IRGC-QF) were looking to recruit an assassin on US soil to kill former national security advisor John Bolton.

The Quds Force is the branch that controls Iranian militias and proxies outside of its borders.

Bolton celebrated the drone strike ordered by Trump in 2020, which wiped out then-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. The former was no longer Trump’s national security advisor at the time of the strike.

“The source tells the Washington Examiner that the department possesses indictable evidence against the Iranians but that Biden administration officials are resisting publicly indicting the men for fear that it could derail their drive for a nuclear deal with Iran, currently nearing completion in negotiations in Vienna, Austria,” the report cited a Justice Department official as saying.

Asked about the plot, a Justice Department spokesperson told Al Arabiya English: “As a matter of Department policy, we do not confirm or deny non-public law enforcement activity. In every case, the Department’s decision whether to charge would be made based on the facts and law and in accordance with the principles of federal prosecution.”

Since taking office, one of US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy priorities has been to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from.

The report also cited the Justice Department source as saying that members of the US intelligence community, the FBI and prosecutors are “frustrated and angry” with the Biden administration for not issuing any indictments “and suspect political foot-dragging.”

Bolton was reportedly asked to sign an agreement that prevented him from disclosing intelligence on the threats against him.

The Washington Examiner reported that US officials became aware of the plot to kill Bolton “earlier this year or late in 2021.”

As a result, Bolton was given a full-time Secret Service detail alongside other FBI “assets.”

Current National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned Iran against targeting any former or present US officials during remarks made in January.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Muslim groups ask feds to intervene on behalf of Egyptian refugees in Vancouver



Dozens of Muslim Canadian organizations are urging the prime minister, public safety minister and president of the Canada Border Services Agency to intervene on behalf of Egyptian refugee claimants in Vancouver.

The Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council says Abdelrahman Elmady’s refugee claim was denied in Vancouver after the CBSA characterized him as a “security threat,” because of ties to the Freedom and Justice Party in his home country.

The council says he was deemed a security risk because of the party’s connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, though neither group are listed as terrorist entities in Canada.

Elmady was among millions of Egyptians who took to the streets in the 2011 uprising known as the Arab Spring to protest against the country’s then-president, Hosni Mubarak, and demand democracy.

The Freedom and Justice Party came to power following the 2012 elections, a year after Mubarak’s resignation.

In 2013, Egypt’s army chief seized power in a military coup against the elected Freedom and Justice Party’s government.

Since then, the government has arrested thousands of the party’s members and Muslim Brotherhood supporters after labelling them as “terrorists” in a campaign that Amnesty International called a “ruthless bid to crush dissent.”

Elmady said the campaign against his party forced him to flee Egypt for Saudi Arabia before he eventually landed in Canada in 2017.

“I am now facing deportation by the CBSA to Egypt where I will be persecuted,” Elmady said in a written statement Monday, adding that he is not the only one at risk.

The council, which serves as a lobby group in partnership with other Canadian Muslim associations, says at least four other families are facing a similar fate in Vancouver because of ties to the party.

Between 2015 and 2021, Canada received more than 3,900 refugee claims from Egypt and accepted about 3,100 of them, according to data from the Immigration and Refugee Board.

The council issued an open letter to government officials alleging the recommendations of the Vancouver CBSA officers are based in individual bias and Islamophobia, and are not consistent with the agency’s decisions elsewhere in the country.

The letter is signed by 12 national and 28 regional organizations. They call for immediate relief for those whose claims have been denied and for officials to issue pre-emptive instructions to CBSA officials in Vancouver to allow similar claims for protection to proceed.

“I think we can’t unlink this to years, decades really, of biases against Muslims and Muslim organizations as well as Muslim governments,” Sarah Mushtaq, the council’s spokeswoman, said Monday.

Source: The Globe And Mail

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Biden administration to announce sanctions waivers for Syrian Kurds, Sunni opposition-held areas

Amberin Zaman

March 7, 2022

The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that Kurdish and opposition-controlled areas in Syria are to be exempt from sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to several sources familiar with the decision speaking not for attribution to Al-Monitor.

The exemptions from the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act will be formally relayed by Ethan Goodrich, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs who covers the Syria dossier, the sources said. The Office of Foreign Assets Control waiver on all sanctions for the areas outside the Syrian regime’s control will not cover oil and gas, the sources added.

Idlib, the northwest region controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Sunni militant group that is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, is not included in the waiver. Nor is Afrin, the Kurdish majority enclave that was invaded and occupied by Turkish forces in January 2018.

Goldrich was in Ankara today briefing his Turkish counterpart, Selcuk Unal, before traveling to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. He is then expected to proceed to northeast Syria where he is due to meet with Mazlum Kobane, the commander in chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and Ilham Ahmed, the executive president of the Syrian Democratic Council, a top political body.

The waiver has reportedly been in the works since last summer but held up by Treasury department bureaucracy.

The State Department did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.

Kobane has been pushing for the exemption ever since the Caesar Act was introduced in 2019 against Assad and a slew of other individuals and entities implicated in war crimes against the Syrian people.

Kobane stressed in a November 2021 interview with Al-Monitor that widespread poverty and a lack of job opportunities compounded by the country’s worst drought in seven decades is creating a fertile breeding ground for IS recruitment.

His fears were vindicated when the jihadis staged a daring prison break in January in the region’s largest facility for IS detainees. The battle in and around al-Sinaa prison in the city of Hasakah raged for six days and left more than 200 people dead.

Turkey’s continued attacks from the air and on the ground are adding to instability.

The immediate purpose of the waiver is economic relief. “Everything else is secondary,” said one of the sources familiar with the decision.

For the fiscal year 2022, the State Department has requested $125 million in economic and stabilization aid for Syria. It remains unclear whether this amount will be increased.

Sanctions experts note that there is a precedent for the carving out of a region from a broader sanctions program as witnessed in Sudan. With the 2006 Darfur Peace and Accountability Act and the accompanying executive order, the United States imposed restrictions on Sudan but carved out Southern Sudan from the sanctions, allowing energy transactions with Southern Sudan "provided that the activities or transactions do not involve any property or interests in property of the government of Sudan," recalls Edoardo Saravalle, a sanctions law expert at Columbia University Law School in New York.

“The more common scenario is the opposite, where a separatist region is sanctioned while the country is not, as is occurring now in Ukraine with the [breakaway republics in Donbas],” Saravalle told Al-Monitor.

Oil and natural gas were likely excluded from the current waiver because of the legal headaches that would ensue. A foretaste of this came when, caving to pressure from Congress, Trump reversed his decision to withdraw an estimated 900 US Special Operation Forces from northeast Syria in the wake of Turkey’s October 2019 invasion. Trump said they were staying to "secure the oil."

In April 2020, Trump issued a waiver for an obscure private US oil company, Delta Crescent, to operate in northeast Syria. The Syrian government accused the United States of “stealing” its oil. Most of Syria’s oil wealth is located in Kurdish-controlled areas.

The Biden administration did not extend Delta Crescent’s waiver when it came up for renewal on April 30 last year. Administration officials say they are not in Syria “for the oil” but to combat remnants of the Islamic State (IS).

Saravalle predicts that the private sector “will continue to be very cautious when dealing with anything Syria-related, even with an exemption for one region, and will avoid doing anything that could implicate it in violating the overall sanctions program.”

More likely, Saravalle added, “Such an exemption could help improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance and diminish the economic toll in areas outside the Syrian government's control.”

The Treasury Department did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.

Nadine Maenza, chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) who has traveled to northeast Syria numerous times, is among the earliest advocates of the exemption. “US sanctions were always meant to punish Assad, not the [Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria] (AANES). USCIRF often recommends sanctions to punish governments for religious freedom violations; we recommended this to reward them for positive conditions,” she told Al-Monitor.

Maenza added, “This would also further pressure the Assad regime’s economy by drawing businesses to the northeast. The AANES is now at the point where it will either become an aid economy that needs constant support or a commerce economy that can become self-sustaining. With 80% of the oil in Syria, fertile ground and businesses ready to invest, there is great potential for economic growth if the United States changes its policy to give the AANES this boost.”

But political calculations are also in play. The decision to include some of the Turkish-occupied areas were thrown in mainly as a sweetener to Turkey. Turkish officials are unhappy that Afrin and Idlib are not covered by the waiver, as these are the areas that would stand to benefit the most. They continue to harbor suspicions that the main purpose is to further cement Syrian Kurdish independence from Damascus, the sources briefing Al-Monitor said.

The distrust dates back to 2014 when the United States decided to partner with the Syrian Kurds in the fight against IS. Turkey insists that the SDF and its components are mere extensions of the PKK and uses this as justification for its repeated offensives against the northeast. The claim has some merit since many of the SDF’s top leaders, Kobane included, held senior positions within the PKK before moving to Syria at the start of the uprising in 2011.

Turkey’s other claim — that the SDF poses an existential threat — does not. Kobane has repeatedly stressed that he wants peaceful, neighborly relations with Ankara, and his forces have rarely if ever initiated aggressive action against Turkish forces. Kurdish attacks against the Turkish-occupied areas are carried out by armed groups thought to be directly under the PKK’s control.

The hope is that the waiver may eventually lure Turkish companies to invest in the northeast This, in turn, may help reignite talks between Ankara and the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan. It’s a long shot.

The talks were supposed to result in an end to the PKK’s armed insurgency and greater rights for Turkey’s long-repressed Kurds, with a positive knock on effects for their Syrian brethren. The talks were abruptly shelved in 2015.

The Kurds’ refusal to team up with the Syrian opposition in the fight against Assad is cited as a reason for Ankara’s volte face. Erdogan’s own political ambitions is another. But the overriding factor was the Turkish military’s growing alarm at the emergence of a second Kurdish statelet across its borders.

Source: Al Monitor

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Blinken, Israel's Lapid discuss Ukraine-Russia diplomacy, Iran nuclear talks

07 March ,2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in the Latvian capital of Riga on Monday to discuss Israel's diplomatic initiative to end Russia's war with Ukraine.

The pair would also discuss the talks in Vienna on a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Lapid said in remarks at the start of the meeting with reporters present.

The meeting comes after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held surprise talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week at Ukraine's request.

“Israel is a partner in the global effort to make sure and clarify that this war must be stopped,” Lapid said. “The way to stop the war is to negotiate.”

Blinken said the US appreciated any efforts of its allies “to see if there’s any opening to end the war,” and insisted that any solution must ensure the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Russia calls its campaign a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and remove leaders it describes as neo-Nazis. Ukraine and its Western allies have said Russia's actions were a transparent pretext for an invasion to conquer a nation of 44 million people.

Lapid said his meeting with Blinken comes at a time “when the world order is changing,” referring to both the war in Ukraine and the nuclear talks.

Russia said on Saturday that Western sanctions imposed over Ukraine had become a stumbling block for an Iran deal.

Source: Al Arabiya

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BJP MLA's Remarks Against Muslims Lead To Opposition Walkout In Bihar Assembly

07th March 2022

PATNA: The Bihar Assembly on Monday witnessed repeated clashes between MLAs of the BJP, which is part of the ruling NDA in the state, and the opposition over issues relating to the Muslim community.

The question hour saw BJP MLAs on their feet demanding fencing of ‘Shamshan Ghats' (cremation grounds) on government expenses, provoked by an RJD legislator raising the issue of ‘Qabristan' (burial grounds).

RJD MLA Shamim Ahmad had said delay in fencing of burial grounds often left these vulnerable to mischief from anti-social elements, and requested that legislators be allowed to facilitate the work from their local area development funds.

Minister Bijendra Kumar Yadav rose to reply on behalf of the government and submitted that district-level committees headed by respective collectors were in place to identify “sensitive” burial grounds.

He, however, said so far the government has not considered the option of allowing legislators to get the job done through their respective funds.

The House plunged into turmoil as some BJP MLAs rose in their seats, demanding that the government also similarly undertake fencing of the ‘Shamshan Ghats' and temples.

"This is the type of communalism for which the BJP is known. Raking up ‘shamshan', Pakistan at the drop of the hat," rued RJD MLA Nehaluddin outside the House later.

Haribhushan Thakur Bachaul, the BJP MLA who was recently in news for suggesting that Muslims should be stripped of voting rights if they refused to sing ‘Vande Mataram', told reporters "we raised the issue of ‘Shamshan' and Mandir because these to need to be secure. We will continue doing so."

Post-lunch, the House got down to debate on the second supplementary budget, but chaos followed again after BJP MLA Kumar Shailendra used an “unparliamentary” word for Muslims.

Opposition MLAs trooped into the well raising slogans in protest.

Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is with the ruling NDA, said it was indeed objectionable to use disparaging words about a community.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary concurred and urged Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha that the remark be expunged from the proceedings of the House.

The Speaker said suitable action will be taken in the matter, though the opposition remained dissatisfied and staged a walkout.

Source: New Indian Express

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Two Muslim Men, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Azam Beaten Up, Religious Slurs Hurled At Them in Gurugram

Mar 7, 2022

GURUGRAM: Two Muslim men were allegedly thrashed and religious slurs were hurled at them by two men who fled after snatching their mobile phones, police said here on Monday.

Police identified the victims as Bihar native Abdur Rehman and his friend Mohammad Azam and said that the assailants talked of feeding them pigs and forced one of them to eat some white powder.

The alleged incident took place near Ramada Hotel in sector 45 here where they had briefly stopped while going to Chakkarpur on their motorcycle after collecting some donations for a madrasa.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Sadar) Aman Yadav said after the incident a case was registered at the Sector 40 police station and the police were also able to identify one of the accused as Amit.

ACP Yadav said the police are conducting raids to nab the accused.

He said the victims alleged that as they stopped near the hotel, a man came in his car and asked them as to what were they doing there.

As they told him that they had just stopped on the way back to their home, he called some other man and the two began abusing and thrashing them, making religious slurs, Yadav said.

One of the assailants took out some white powder from his car and put it in Azam's mouth, the ACP said, adding they fled the scene after snatching their mobile phones and the motorcycle.

Source: Times Of India

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Student accuses hijab-clad girls of issuing threat in Mangaluru

Mar 08, 2022

By Sharan Poovanna

A third-year student of Dayananda Pai P Satisha Pai Government College in Karnataka’s Mangaluru has filed a complaint against seven hijab-wearing students accusing them of threatening her during an altercation between those students and the college authorities.

The complaint, filed on March 4 by Kavana Kumari Shetty, a third-year B.Com student, comes a day after a Muslim student filed a complaint against at least 15 ABVP workers (also students) who had allegedly verbally abused the complainant and even called her “terrorist” as well as used derogatory language against her religion.

On March 3, college authorities denied permission to the hijab-clad girls to sit for the internal exams based on the Karnataka high court’s interim order and asked them to leave the college premises. The same students returned the following day, around noon, and crowded near the college gates, Shetty said in her complaint.

“They started abusing the complainant, who was walking out of the college,” according to the First Information Report (FIR).

“Yesterday you told the authorities and did not allow us to write the exams, when you are on the road, we will take care of you, is this college your father’s and do we not pay fees and threaten the complainant,” according to the FIR.

The police has refused to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, colleges in several parts of Karnataka are holding special classes to make up for the lost time due to the hijab controversy.

“The college is holding special classes so that we can complete the syllabus before the preparatory exams,” said one second-year pre-university student at MGM College, requesting not to be named. Preparatory exams begin after March 20.

He said that the college had completed around 80% of the syllabus and special classes had begun on Monday to finish the remainder of the syllabus for the academic year.

Several colleges in Karnataka have extended holidays or declared study leave to steer clear of any protests by hijab-wearing students, who are not allowed into classes with their headscarves.

“Except for the six girls who went to court, the others are coming to college. There were online classes earlier for Covid and after that due to the controversy. Most of the syllabus is complete since exams are approaching,” Rudre Gowda, the principal of Government Girls Pre-University College in Udupi told HT on Monday.

He added that a few more students from other places were still not back to classes for various reasons.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Few more terror modules active in Assam: CM

Mar 7, 2022

GUWAHATI: A day after five members of a Bangladesh-based radical Islamic group were arrested in lower Assam’s Barpeta district, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said “a few more such modules are active in the state and police are working against such activities”.

Sarma told the media, “Assam police have been able to unearth a big module working in the state. It was a big success for the Assam police. As per our information, a few more modules are active in the state. We had formed a special wing of Assam police to work on the information about the presence of jihadi activists and fundamentalists. We have developed sources at different levels. The information that came to light during the interrogation of the arrested accused has indicated a bad sign for the future of the state.”

The arrested members of the group Ansar al Islam, which is known to be the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), have been identified as Saiful Islam alias Harun Rashid alias Mohammed Suman of Narayanganj district in Bangladesh, Khairul Islam, Badshah Suleiman Khan and Noushad Ali of Kalgachia in Barpeta district and Taimur Rahman Khan of Howly.

Barpeta superintendent of police Amitabh Sinha told TOI that all the accused have been remanded in police custody for eight days.

DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said, “Saiful, after entering India, has been indoctrinating youths, belonging to a particular community in different parts of Assam, with jihadi and religious fundamentalism and has already spread its roots in the state,” he added.

Source: Times Of India

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Committed to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, says India at UN

March 8, 2022

India said on Monday that it will continue to coordinate with "stakeholders" towards enabling expeditious provision of much needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, days after New Delhi sent shipments of wheat to Afghanistan.

"India’s approach to Afghanistan has always been guided by its historical friendship with its peopleWe remain steadfast in our commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan," India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Geneva Ambassador Indramani Pandey said.

Pandey was speaking at the interactive dialogue with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on her report on strengthening promotion and protection of human rights in Afghanistan during the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council.

He said that in this endeavour, India has already supplied 4000MT of wheat, half a million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, 13 tonnes of essential lifesaving medicines and winter clothing for the Afghan people. These consignments were handed over to the UN specialised agencies the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme.

"As Afghanistan’s largest regional development partner, India would continue to coordinate with other stakeholders to work towards enabling expeditious provision of much needed humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people,” he said.

Last week, India had sent the second shipment of 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan via Pakistani land route as part of its humanitarian aid to Afghan people who have been reeling under food shortage.

India despatched the first consignment of 2,500 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through the Pakistani land route on February 22 and it reached the Afghan city of Jalalabad on February 26. Fifty trucks carried the consignment.

India had sent a proposal to Pakistan on October 7 seeking the transit facility to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the people of Afghanistan via Pakistan and it received a positive response from Islamabad on November 24. Following the Pakistani response, both sides were in touch to finalise the modalities for the transportation of the shipments.

Pandey said that as a contiguous neighbour and a long-standing partner of Afghanistan, recent developments in the war-torn country, particularly the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation continues to be a matter of concern.

"India also shares concerns of the international community on issues related to providing immediate humanitarian assistance; ensuring formation of a truly inclusive and representative government; combating terrorism and drug trafficking and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities," Pandey said.

Bachelet said that the Afghan people face a “devastating humanitarian and economic crisis” that severely impacts their enjoyment of the full range of economic, social and cultural rights. More than half the population now suffer extreme levels of hunger. An increase in child labour, child marriage and the sale of children has been observed.

"Following the Taliban's takeover, international sanctions that previously applied to the Taliban effectively became sanctions on the country's de facto governing authorities. The resulting liquidity crisis contributed to a full-scale economic crash.

"In addition, non-humanitarian aid to the country on which almost every essential state function had been dependent prior to the Taliban take-over was suspended. The Security Council's adoption in December of Resolution 2615, to exempt humanitarian transactions is a welcome first step to enable work that could save millions of lives,” she said.

She also noted that while the decline in hostilities has seen a sharp decrease in civilian casualties, the human rights situation for many Afghans is of profound concern. From August 15, 2021 to February 15, 2022, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and her office documented at least 1,153 civilian casualties, including 397 deaths.

Several suicide and non-suicide attacks were perpetrated by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) against Shia Muslims, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group.

"I also note a clear pattern of more than 50 extra-judicial killings of individuals suspected to be linked to the ISKP extremist group, including cases of beheadings in Nangarhar province with bodies left in public places,” she said.

She said she will be urging the de facto authorities to recognise and respect Afghanistan’s State obligations to protect human rights as they implement their own approaches to measures of governance in the country.

Source: India Today

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Nigeria: Islamic Finance - Sanusi Preaches Religious Tolerance, Hails Non-Muslims Promoting Non-Interest Banking

7 MARCH 2022

By Medinat Kanabe

Mr Alaro said the United Kingdom is the leading promoter of Islamic banking globally and that the head of Islamic finance at the World Bank is a Nigerian Christian, Abayomi Alawode.

The 14th Emir of Kano and former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, has preached religious tolerance among Nigerians, even as he canvassed support for Islamic finance, otherwise known as non-interest finance.

Mr Sanusi, who spoke on Sunday in Lagos as the special guest of honour at the 5th national discourse organised by The Companion, an association of Muslim businessmen and professionals.

The discourse, which was themed; "Islamic Finance Experiment in Nigeria: Gains, Challenges and Prospects," had as keynote speaker, a professor of Islamic Law at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), AbdulRazzaq Alaro.

Mr Sanusi, who traced the history of Islamic finance services in Nigeria and the opposition to it by some individuals and religious leaders, commended some non-Muslims for their support, encouragement and what he described as their workable suggestions on how the CBN, under his watch, navigated through the challenging moment.

He advised Muslims to always keep their non-Muslim friends, saying reacting to criticisms based on religious perception and that taking individuals' opinions to represent the opinion of a people or their religion, cannot be justified.

Islamic finance birth in Nigeria

Narrating the journey of Islamic Finance in the country, Mr Sanusi said when he attended the meeting of the Islamic financial services board in Geneva as the CBN governor, many had accused him of attempting to Islamise the country.

"... But those criticising us then never knew that it was actually my predecessor, Charles Soludo, who applied to the board that Nigeria should be a member. However, it was at the end of his tenure that we were admitted. So shortly after he left we were invited to the meeting and that coincided with my assumption of office," Mr Sanusi said.

He said many Nigerians saw the merit of the non-interest finance system but were blinded by religious sentiments.

Mr Sanusi, however, commended those he described as patriots, saying despite their religious faith, they contributed significantly to how certain relevant issues were resolved at the policymaking level.

He said; "For instance, people were complaining about sharia in some clauses and I said we could remove sharia. I said in the entire Qur'an sharia is mentioned only once. So everywhere sharia is mentioned in the policy documents, we changed it to Islamic legal jurisdiction. And a Christian also helped to coin the Financial Regulators Advisory Council of Experts (FRACE) to avoid the use of sharia."

He said it was the former acting governor of CBN, Sarah Alade, who helped to coin FRACE, to escape the religious sentiments.

"Meanwhile, when we were at the National Assembly, one of the critics was a female representative from Anambra State. She stood up and pointed fingers at me. But when she finished speaking, I told her that the Islamic Development Bank had given the finance ministry a loan for agriculture and three states including Anambra would benefit. So I told them it is not about Muslims or Christians but about individuals," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Sanusi said as of the time he was being quizzed at the National Assembly, 40 per cent of the shareholders that had bought JAIZ Bank's shares were not Muslims.

JAIZ Bank is Nigeria's first non-interest bank in the country.

"So if you choose to respond to an attack coming from someone who claims to be speaking for Christianity and then you speak from an Islamic position, you will divide the country," Mr Sanusi said.

Meanwhile, in his lecture, Mr Alaro said the United Kingdom is the leading promoter of Islamic banking globally and the head of Islamic finance at the World Bank is a Nigerian Christian, Abayomi Alawode.

He described Islamic finance as a form of charity, saying; "Islamic finance is interest-free but not profit-free."

Islamic finance's gains

Mr Alaro said Islamic finance has deepened the financial system in Nigeria by providing alternative investment and financing outlets to many households in the banking, insurance and capital market segments.

"This is evidenced by the growing demand for, and ever-increasing customer base of Islamic financial services in the country. From just one and only non-interest financial institution in 2012, the industry has grown in only one decade to four licensed full-fledged non-interest banks; a window of a conventional bank; and three microfinance banks, among others," he said.

Mr Alaro, who is also a member of CBN's FRACE said corporate entities, as well as the Nigerian government, have also benefited from Islamic banking.


Mr Alaro, however, said the market share of the Islamic finance industry is still very low, when compared to the conventional market.

He spoke about other challenges including lack of adequate liquidity management instruments in the Nigerian Market, dearth of innovative but yet shariah-compliant products, poor skilled human capital resources; poor Islamic finance literacy, and what he termed jurisdictional gaps in Islamic finance-related disputes.


On what he would recommend to Nigeria, Mr Alaro said since Islamic finance institutions are by law barred from accessing funds meant for haram products and activities, such as alcohol, gambling or betting, pornography, among others, appropriate measures should be taken to attract more investment into the sector, including government patronage, where necessary.

"The need for increased capital for the Islamic finance industry in Nigeria cannot be overemphasised. It is only natural that funds meant for religious activities such as the annual hajj must be deposited exclusively with the non-interest financial institutions," he said.

Still, on recommendations, the don said regulators and operators of Islamic finance institutions, through their CSR projects, should support universities and academic centres to facilitate capacity building for the industry through the endowment of professorial chairs, the establishment of specialised academic departments and introduction of short and long term professional programmes in Islamic finance.

He also advised that non-interest financial institutions in Nigeria should invest heavily in financial technologies, otherwise called Fintech, noting that it is where the future of banking services lies.

He recommended that CBN should collaborate with the National Judicial Institute on the imperative of training the country's judges on the intricacies of Islamic finance.

"In Feb 2022, the Nigerian Copyright Commission reached an agreement with the National Judicial Institute on the training of judges on intellectual property law," he said.

The guest lecturer also commended Bayero University, Kano (BUK) for introducing courses in Islamic finance, urging other universities in Nigeria to follow suit.

Source: All Africa

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2 UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

James Tasamba 


KIGALI, Rwanda

Two UN peacekeepers died and four others were injured Monday in Mali when their logistics convoy hit an improvised explosive device, a UN official said.

The incident occurred north of the Mopti region, according to Olivier Salgado, spokesperson for the peacekeeping mission known as MINUSMA.

“This morning, a logistics convoy of UN MINUSMA hit an improvised explosive device north of Mopti. According to preliminary assessment, the explosion caused the death of two peacekeepers, four others were injured,” he said in a tweet.

MINUSMA maintains more than 13,000 troops in the north and center of Mali to contain growing violence.

Since 2012, Mali has been battling violence orchestrated by militants in northern and central Mali targeting both soldiers and civilians.

Last week, 27 Malian soldiers were killed and 33 wounded following an attack by insurgents on a security post in the Mopti region.

Last month, European leaders announced the withdrawal of their forces deployed in Mali as part of a counter-terrorism mission, citing obstructions by Mali transitional authorities.

Senior al-Qaeda leader killed

Meanwhile, the French army announced on Monday that it had killed a senior member of al-Qaeda in Mali.

In a statement, the French forces said Algerian Yahia Djouadi, who goes by the alias Abu Ammar al-Jazairi, was killed in an overnight operation conducted on Feb. 25 by the Barkhane force, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the city of Timbuktu.

Noting that Djouadi had been instrumental in al-Qaeda's expansion and terrorism in West Africa, it said his death would weaken and isolate the group, which calls itself al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN adviser calls for ending blockade over Libya oil fields

Walid Abdullah 



UN Special Adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, on Monday called for lifting the closure of oil fields and resumption of all civilian flights in the Arab country.

“I am following with concern reports of closure of oil fields and suspension of some civilian flights,” Williams said on Twitter.

“Freedom of movement around the country is a basic right and all civilian flights should be resumed,” she stressed.

On Sunday, the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared a state of force majeure in two oil fields, including El Sharara, the country’s largest, after militants closed the crude pumping valves at the export ports.

Libya is witnessing a deep political rift as the Tobruk-based parliament on Thursday gave confidence to a new government headed by former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha while Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh insists on continuing with his post and duties as Prime Minister.

The Dbeibeh government warned that it would consider any attempt to storm its headquarters as an "attack against the government.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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