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Islamic World News ( 15 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat to Launch Urdu Translation of the Samaveda at Red Fort on Friday

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 March 2023


Michelle Yeoh, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress on Sunday, delivered a rallying cry for Hollywood's older actresses during her acceptance speech.

Evan Agostini/AP


• Being Proud of Michelle Yeoh’s Historic Oscar Win for Best Actress Goes against Religion: Celebrity Muslim Preacher PU Syed

• French Rights NGO Says Israel “Arabophobic, Homophobic, Ultra-Colonialist and Ultra-Religious” Minister ‘Not Welcome’

• No Regrets from Iraqi Journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi Who Threw His Shoes at Bush, For US-Led Invasion In 2003

• Israeli Knesset Member Interrogated For Inciting Terrorism over Attack on Palestinian Town



• Gujarat HC Seeks State Govt Reply on Plea against Use of Loudspeakers by Mosques

• Video of BJP MLA Kotian ‘Slamming’ Party over Stand on Muslims Goes Viral

• Suspended Telangana Legislative Assembly BJP MLA Booked For Hate Speech against Muslims

• No Muslim Outreach, But Ready to Meet If Initiative Came From Other Side: RSS

• Karnataka: 15 Detained After Stones Pelted at Mosque in Haveri District

• NIA files charge sheet in PFI crackdown case, names two men from Rajasthan

• Khansland to provide Islamic teachings to Hyderabadi kids in fun zone


Southeast Asia

• Report: Mobilising Non-Muslim Votes On PAS Agenda as It Eyes Dominant Party Status

• Heed PAS Leader’s Stand on Visiting Houses of Worship, Says Youth and Sports Minister

• After Bid to Challenge Selangor Fatwa Failed, Sisters In Islam Expresses Concern Over Appellate Court Not Following Judicial Precedent

• Guan Eng sends legal letter to Muhyiddin, says will sue for defamation if no apology given this week



• Islamophobia Pushing French Muslim Professionals To Look For Work Abroad: Experts

• Syrian president arrives in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart

• Iran breaching international treaty with prisoner detentions: France

• 319 German soldiers suspected of right-wing extremism: Ombudsman


Arab World

• Saudi Cabinet Expresses Hope That Constructive Dialogue With Iran Continues

• Senate confirms Ratney as next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

• $20 million Saudi hospital ships heal sick in rural Bangladesh

• NCM: Temperatures to rise high while rain will hit most Saudi regions during Ramadan

• Egypt extending operating hours for commercial venues until 2am during Ramadan

• Saudi Arabia sends new aid plane to quake victims in Türkiye



• Saudi Arabia Obstructs Israeli Foreign Minister's Planned Visit for UN Meeting: Report

• Palestinian Islamic Jihad Calls for Ramping Up War with Israel

• Iran’s top security official to visit UAE on Thursday: State media

• Hamas warns Israel against ‘violations’ during Ramadan

• China, Iran, Russia to conduct maritime drills in Gulf of Oman

• Amnesty denounces police misuse of rubber bullets worldwide

• Key dates in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year rule of Turkey

• Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics urge Germany, Britain to cancel his visit

• Hamas condemns Israeli bill allowing settlers’ return to evacuated illegal settlements

• Yemen: Fragile truce ‘may end at any moment’ as Saudi aggression, siege rage


North America

• Former FBI Agent Reveals What It Was like Interrogating Saddam Hussein about Osama bin Laden

• As Russia Looms, US Seeks Influence In West Africa’s Fight against Islamists

• US policy of 'war on terror' exports Islamophobia globally: Academic Khaled Ali Beydoun

• Muslim Holidays Find Welcome from Mainstream Retailers with New Ramadan Goods

• Canada Intelligence Body to Launch Islamophobia Investigation Into Tax Agency

• Türkiye, US need to have 'a strategic conversation’: Turkish presidential spokesperson

• UN seizes on Saudi-Iran detente to push for end to Yemen war



• Two TTP-Gandapur Group Terrorists Killed In Dera Operation

• TTP attackers kill policemen guarding census team

• Counter-terrorism squad kills two Pakistan Taliban masterminds behind Karachi Police Office attack

• Pakistan's Imran Khan ready to give surety bond to appear in court after clashes

• Lahore's Zaman Park under siege after clashes between police and Imran Khan's supporters

• Delayed IMF deal with Pakistan blamed on political instability

• Army chief wants synergy among institutions


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Introduces Abdul Rahman Feda New Consul to UAE

• Afghanistan most impacted by terrorism: Global Terrorism Index report

• UNHCR Launches New Appeal to Support Afghan Refugees

• Uzbek Forces to Use Drones While Patrolling Afghanistan Border Areas

• IEA Delegation Discusses Afghan Refugees’ Problems with Iranian Officials



• Kaduna Group Faults Campaign against Muslim-Muslim Ticket

• Tunisia Court Sentences Two To Death Over Deadly Blast Near US Embassy

• Suicide Car Bomb Kills 2 In Somalia: Police

• NGO Supportifly, Plans to Sponsor Iftar for Fasting Muslims

• Islamic group tackles SERAP over NBC’s warning to media organisations on election

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat to Launch Urdu Translation Of The Samaveda At Red Fort On Friday


RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat


By Deeptiman Tiwary

March 15, 2023

RSS CHIEF Mohan Bhagwat will launch the first Urdu translation of the Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, at an event to be organised at Red Fort on Friday. The translation from Vedic Sanskrit to Urdu has been done by Bollywood script writer and filmmaker Iqbal Durrani.

The Sangh hopes this will help a large section of the Muslim population access the ancient Indian text and imbibe its message which, it says, is meant for the good of all humanity.

Under Bhagwat, the RSS has made concerted efforts to reach out to the Muslim community. While the Sangh’s Rashtriya Muslim Manch constantly engages with the community, of late, top leaders of the RSS such as Krishna Gopal have been holding dialogue with Muslim intellectuals to create a better understanding of the Sangh among the minority community.

In 2021, Bhagwat’s book Bhavishya ka Bharat (India of the Future), was translated into Urdu and released by then education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal. The book flowed from a three-day lecture series delivered by Bhagwat that year on the Sangh’s idea of India.

The event where the Samaveda’s Urdu translation would be launched is being organised by Jeevakant Jha, who has been associated with RSS veteran K N Govindacharya and calls him his mentor.

In 2021, Bhagwat’s book Bhavishya ka Bharat (India of the Future), was translated into Urdu and released by then education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal. The book flowed from a three-day lecture series delivered by Bhagwat that year on the Sangh’s idea of India.

The event where the Samaveda’s Urdu translation would be launched is being organised by Jeevakant Jha, who has been associated with RSS veteran K N Govindacharya and calls him his mentor.

Calling the Shastras (scriptures) “a science which does not belong to any particular religion but is meant for all of humanity”, Jha said that a study of the Samaveda – the Veda of melodies and chants – could foster love and affection between Hindus and Muslims. He said the idea is to tell Muslims that the Samaveda was for them as well, as it is “a cultural text” and “not a religious text”.

“We call ourselves Sanatani, but we have not been doing research. The idea is to have a discussion on the essence of the Samaveda, and to ensure that love sprouts in the hearts of men rather than hatred. That is why this book is being launched at the Lal Qila,” Jha said.

Jha said the choice of Bhagwat to launch the book was natural as the RSS is “the largest social organisation” in the country and was also “running the government”. “All big holy men, ministers and bureaucrats have been invited for the event. We will gift the book to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President later,” Jha said.

He added that Durrani, whose last film came out in 2015, had visited an ashram that year where he was gifted copies of the four Vedas. Since Durrani’s grandfather was a Sanskrit teacher, he had a working knowledge of the language and was greatly interested in the scriptures after reading them.

“He was called Panditji ka pota (Panditji’s grandson), despite being a Muslim. So he had it in his DNA,” Jha said.

Durrani studied the Samaveda, which impressed him the most, for a year and then began researching the right Urdu and Persian words that could express the correct meaning and essence of the scripture. After six years of hard work, the translation was finally completed.

According to Jha, care has been taken to ensure that the over 900-page book, containing the Samaveda’s 1,875 verses, is easily accessible to readers. “There are Sanskrit mantras on the top, followed by Hindi translation on the left and Urdu translation on the right. The book also has illustrations with the mantras,” he said.

Source: Indian Express

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 Being Proud of Michelle Yeoh’s Historic Oscar Win for Best Actress Goes against Religion: Celebrity Muslim Preacher PU Syed


Michelle Yeoh, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress on Sunday, delivered a rallying cry for Hollywood's older actresses during her acceptance speech.

Evan Agostini/AP


By Sofianni Subki

15 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 15 — Celebrity Muslim preacher PU Syed Mohd Bakri Syed Ishak is adamant that it is wrong to be proud of Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh’s recent historic Oscar win for Best Actress.

“How is winning an Oscar something to be proud of?” he asked on Instagram.

“How does it make Malaysia proud? What’s to be proud of?

“We cannot be proud of something that doesn’t benefit the faith,” he continued.

“Leave it to the faithless.”

His comments provoked response from many incensed at his remarks over the feat that saw Yeoh become not just the first Malaysian, but also the first Asian to be awarded the honour.

“Syed, can you just shut up for a bit,” said Nana Azhar.

“Your endless preaching is making those from other religions hate you, you know that?”

Another Instagram user Loo Chin006, said, “What’s your problem? You jealous she got an Oscar?”

Taufik Hamzah, said: “I think you’re well-suited to a life in Afghanistan — living there will calm you down.”

His controversial stance is the latest of several including slamming popular K-Pop girl group Blackpink for having a concert here last month, praying for floods to ruin it.

In 2019, he sparked a backlash of criticism after calling K-Pop boy band BTS demonic and said their music would only lead Malaysians astray.

Source: Malay Mail

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French Rights NGO Says Israel “Arabophobic, Homophobic, Ultra-Colonialist and Ultra-Religious” Minister ‘Not Welcome’


Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli far-right lawmaker, speaks during a rally in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. (File/AFP)


March 14, 2023

PARIS: A human rights organization said Tuesday that Israel’s controversial finance minister Bezalel Smotrich was “not welcome” on a planned visit to France this week.

The Human Rights League (LDH) described Smotrich as “arabophobic, homophobic, ultra-colonialist and ultra-religious,” adding that it felt “outrage” at the visit planned for Sunday and “condemns everything this character represents.”

Smotrich last year became a member in the cabinet of Israel’s veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu, which analysts have called the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

Smotrich and his Religious Zionism formation have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

As part of his portfolio, Smotrich is in charge of Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank, where he himself is one of 475,000 Jewish settlers established in defiance of international law.

He called for a Palestinian town to be “wiped out” after two Israeli settlers were killed there in February.

Although he later said “it is possible that the word was wrong” and he “did not mean harm to innocents,” Smotrich’s comments drew international condemnation.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk denounced them as “an unfathomable statement of incitement to violence and hostility.”

The United States, an ally of Israel, also condemned the comments, with a State Department spokesman saying they were “irresponsible, they were repugnant, they were disgusting.”

The French foreign ministry told AFP no official contact with the Israeli minister was planned.

Source: Arab News

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No Regrets from Iraqi Journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi Who Threw His Shoes at Bush, For US-Led Invasion In 2003


Muntazer Al-Zaidi, Iraqi Journalist


March 15, 2023

BAGHDAD: Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi gained fame for hurling his shoes at President George W. Bush in a news conference to show his anger at the corruption and chaos that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is still furious.

“The same people who entered 20 years ago with the occupier are still ruling despite failures and corruption. The United States knows very well that it brought in pseudo politicians,” he said, recounting his actions back in 2008 during the Baghdad media briefing.

Bush, who was standing next to then Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, ducked to avoid the footwear that spun at him from across the room. Throwing shoes at someone is a deep insult in the Arab world.

“This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!” Zaidi shouted before security officials bundled him outside.

Bush had been criticised across the Middle East for his decision to oust Saddam Hussein, an action launched based on faulty US intelligence that the Iraqi leader had amassed weapons of mass destruction.

The US president brushed off the shoe-throwing incident at the time, saying: “It’s like going to a political rally and have people yell at you. It’s a way for people to draw attention.”

Zaidi, who served six months in prison for assaulting a visiting head of state, left for Lebanon after his release but returned to run for an Iraqi parliament seat in 2018 seeking to fight corruption, although his election bid failed.

“You feel bitterness as you see people’s pain 24 hours a day,” he said.

He added that he continued to campaign against graft and he has never regretted hurling his shoes.

“This scene stands as proof that one day a simple person was capable of saying no to that arrogant person with all his power, tyranny, arms, media, money and authority, and to say that you (Bush) were wrong”.

Source: Dawn

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Israeli Knesset Member Interrogated For Inciting Terrorism Over Attack On Palestinian Town


Israeli Knesset


Abdel Raouf Arnaout 



Israeli police opened an investigation Tuesday into far-right Knesset member Zvika Fogel on suspicion of inciting terrorism.

A police statement said Fogel was summoned for interrogation at the National Fraud Investigation Unit.

Fogel is a member of the far-right Jewish Power Party, led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Last month, Fogel showed support for an attack by Israeli settlers on the Palestinian town of Huwara in the occupied West Bank. A Palestinian was killed and several homes and cars were vandalized in the attack.

"Huwara is burnt and besieged. This is exactly what I want to see,” Fogel said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio following the attack.

The settler attack has triggered a storm of condemnations from around the world.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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 Gujarat HC Seeks State Govt Reply On Plea Against Use Of Loudspeakers By Mosques

14 MAR 2023

The Gujarat High Court has sought the state government’s reply on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a ban on the use of loudspeakers for reciting ‘azaan’ (call to prayer) in mosques.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A J Desai and Justice Biren Vaishnav on Monday allowed Shaktisinh Zala, a Bajrang Dal leader, to join the PIL after the original petitioner Dharmendra Prajapati sought to withdraw it citing threats.

Zala's lawyer urged the court to allow him to join the litigation in the absence of the original petitioner. The court listed the matter on April 12 while directing the government to file a reply.

Source: Outlook India

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Video of BJP MLA Kotian ‘Slamming’ Party Over Stand On Muslims Goes Viral

15th March 2023

MANGALURU: In a viral video, BJP MLA Umanatha Kotian has taken exception to the party’s alleged stand on Muslims. Speaking at a gathering of Minorities in Kinnigoli village near Mangaluru a few days ago, Kotian, a first-time MLA from Moodbidri, said, “Our BJP leaders say that Muslims and Christians will not vote for the party and hence they should not work for them. Nobody else will talk about this except me as I am straightforward. Our party people are arrogant. But I am working against this notion,” Kotian said.

He further said that he has helped a lot of mosques, madrasas and churches get funds for development. “Even recently, I requested the CM to grant Rs 5 crore for mosques and churches and the CM assured Rs 2.5 crore. But you should support a person who delivers irrespective of religion,” he said.

Further, he claimed that in the last five years, his constituency did not witness any communal violence or incidents of hate speech. “Did you hear anything like a Muslim or a Christian should not get a job? I make no discrimination. If you want anything, come to me. I don’t ask you to vote. But my only request is to vote for those who deliver.

Source: New Indian Express

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Suspended Telangana Legislative Assembly BJP MLA Booked For Hate Speech against Muslims

March 15 2023

Suspended Bharatiya Janata Party MLA T Raja Singh has been booked for allegedly making inflammatory remarks against Muslims during an event in Maharashtra, PTI reported on Tuesday.

According to the police, a first information report was filed against him in Shrirampur city in Ahmednagar district on the basis of a complaint filed by some locals.

At the event, held on March 10, Singh had made derogatory references towards Muslims and also claimed that India will be declared a Hindu nation by 2026. A video of his speech was widely shared on social media.

“Whoever speaks against Hindus, we will not spare them,” Singh can be heard saying in the video. “In our Hindu Rashtra you won’t even get a loudspeaker to do what you do five times a day [a reference to Muslim prayers].”

He claimed that Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray in a media interview had referred to Muslims as “insects” and “cockroaches” and had spoken of “eliminating them with a spray”, according to PTI.

The MLA from Goshamahal in Hyderabad, who has a history of making incendiary communal speeches, also urged the public to join the Bajrang Dal if they want to beat up Muslims.

“Let those who talk against Hindus or slaughter cows know that we are ready,” he said.

Singh was suspended by the BJP last year after he had allegedly made derogatory remarks against derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad in Hyderabad.

At the time, the Hyderabad Police had said that the MLA was involved in 101 criminal cases, 18 of which were related to alleged communal offences.

Source: Scroll

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No Muslim outreach, but ready to meet if initiative came from other side: RSS

15th March 2023


CHANDIGARH:  The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Tuesday said it had no outreach programme for Muslim intellectuals but was ready to meet if the initiative came from the other side.

Talking to the media after the three-day meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Partinidhi Sabha, the apex decision-making body of the RSS at Samalkha near Panipat, its general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said, "RSS leaders are meeting Muslim intellectuals and their spiritual leaders on their invitation. The initiative is from that side; there is no outreach from the Sangh."

Last year, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had met former Rajya Sabha MP Shahid Siddiqui, former election commissioner S Y Quraishi, Lt Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin and former Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. In January this year, RSS leader Krishna Gopal had met a few Muslim leaders.

In September last year, Bhagwat had also visited a mosque and a madrassa in Delhi and held discussions with the All India Muslim Imam Organisation (AIIO) leaders - which was seen as part of Sangh's outreach to the minority community.

Asked to comment on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the RSS, Hosabale said, "As a prominent leader of the opposition, he should speak more responsibly and see the reality... He may have his own political agenda."

Responding to questions on Gandhi's remarks in the UK, the RSS leader claimed, "Those who converted India into a jail have no right to comment on democracy in the country."

"Thousands of people including me were put behind the bars during Emergency. They (Congress) are yet to apologise for this. The country will ask them if they have a moral right to talk about democracy," he said.

Speaking in the UK recently, Gandhi had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under "brutal attack" and BJP and RSS have captured almost all institutions. He has often accused the Sangh of fanning hate and creating divisions in society.

On the question of same-sex marriage, Hosabale said the Sangh is on the same page as the Centre, adding marriage can take place only between two persons from opposite genders.

"Marriages can take place between two opposite genders. In Hindu life marriage is 'Sanskar', it isn't for enjoyment, neither it is a contract. Living together is different, but what is called marriage is a 'sanskar' in Hindu life for thousands of years, which means that two individuals get married and live together not only for themselves but for the family and for the social good. Marriage is neither for sexual enjoyment nor a contract," he said.

The Centre has recently opposed in the Supreme Court a batch of pleas seeking legal validation of same-sex marriage, saying it would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws and accepted societal values.

Source: New Indian Express

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Karnataka: 15 Detained After Stones Pelted at Mosque in Haveri District

New Delhi: Fifteen people were detained on Tuesday, March 14, in Karnataka’s Haveri district after participants in a procession by Hindu outfits pelted stones at a mosque and homes of members of the Muslim community, according to reports.

Hindu outfits took out a bike rally with a statue of Sangolli Rayanna – a 19th-century military leader who fought against the East India Company – on Tuesday, according to India Today. “When the procession crossed a Muslim neighbourhood, a few miscreants pelted stones at houses and a mosque,” the report added.

Haveri superintendent of police (SP) Shivakumar said in a video statement that around 100 people took a detour from the rally and pelted stones at the mosque and Muslim homes.

Stone pelted a mosque, few homes & vehicles in Haveri’s Rattihalli. Cops have confirmed that a group of about 100 people took a detour from the rally they were part of & indulged in the stone pelting, about 15 arrested and investigation is on.

Dr Shivakumar, SP Haveri 👇🏼

— Deepak Bopanna (@dpkBopanna) March 14, 2023

“There was police deployment during the procession and immediately the situation was brought under control,” Shivakumar said, according to India Today. He said that on March 9, a similar rally was “disrupted by a few members of the Muslim community”, which may “have triggered the people”.

Source: The Wire

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NIA files charge sheet in PFI crackdown case, names two men from Rajasthan

Mar 15, 2023

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday filed charges against Popular Front of India members for “recruitment and radicalization of impressionable Muslim youth ... for committing violent acts” -- its first charge sheet in its ongoing investigation of the group which was banned after a nationwide crackdown on its office bearers in September and October last year.

NIA said it has charged Rajasthan’s Mohammad Ashif alias Asif of Kota and Sadiq Sarraf of Baran.

“They were involved in recruitment and radicalization of impressionable Muslim youth for the PFI for committing violent acts. They were also found involved in organizing training camps in handling of weapons and explosives, instigating PFI cadres to pick-up arms and raising funds for carrying out violent activities,” a NIA spokesperson said. “They were also found actively promoting enmity between different religious groups in India and motivating the youth to resort to violent means to establish Islamic rule in the country.”

The case in question was registered by the NIA in September 2022.

“They were collecting funds in the name of zakat for procurement of weapons and organizing weapon and explosives training camps for PFI cadres,” the spokesperson said. Zakat is a financial contribution devout Muslims make for charitable or religious purposes.

PFI and its eight affiliate organizations were banned under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on September 28 after a nationwide crackdown by NIA and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) led to arrests and recovery of purported incriminating documents from offices and residences of the outfit’s office bearers.

NIA is probing at least 19 cases linked to the organization. Over 100 PFI activists, including its chairman OMA Salam, were arrested by federal agencies in 15 states in September last year.

PFI was involved in several criminal and terror cases and showed sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country, the Union home ministry said in a notification on September 28 that outlawed the outfit for five years. With funds and ideological support from outside the country, it has become a major threat to the internal security of India, the ministry added then.

Noting that PFI has international linkages with global terrorist groups, the home ministry said some of its members joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and participated in terror activities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Khansland to provide Islamic teachings to Hyderabadi kids in fun zone

Mumtaz Hussain Bhat

15th March 2023

Hyderabad: Muslims across the globe have started preparations to welcome the much revered and blessed month of Ramadan. The ninth month of Islamic calendar ,Ramadan is expected to start from March 23 and run through April ending this year in India.

Prior to Ramadan, Muslims began to take various initiatives which help everyone to get closer to the Omnipotent Allah. Some have started reaching out to poor people of the community while others are creating awareness and highlighting the importance of Ramadan. Talking about Hyderabad, shopkeepers have started launching special offers for this holy month while NGOs and other social welfare organisations are trying to expedite their missions.

City’s popular Islamic gift shop, ‘Khansland‘ has come up with a unique idea this year to serve the community. ‘Khansland’ in collaboration with ‘Khansland Kids Klub’ announced ‘Ramadan Project’ where members of the club will teach Muslim children the basics of Islam.

In a communique issued here, the club said that it is going to organise a one day interactive fun workshop for kids where they will also be taught the basics of Islam. The kids can enjoy various indoor games, other activities alongside learning the basics of Islam. The innovative concept of the club aims to teach kids Islam so that they will remember the lessons taught in the club forever.

The invitation poster of the club also reads, ” In a world full of duniya,let your child experience their deen.” The club wants to give the Hyderabadi kids an overview of the teachings and basic principles of Islam.

One of the club members while talking to said, ” It is time to teach the Muslim kids the basics of Islam, so that they can help make the world a peaceful place to live in. In contemporary times, where everyone wants to earn money,we should seek blessings.”

‘Our motive is to provide Islamic education to the Muslim kids in a fun zone. This is the biggest charity. Everyone is helping people in Ramadan but no one thinks about kids. We want to make kids ready to live life in an Islamic way with knowledge of both ‘Deen’ and ‘Duniya’, ” the member concluded.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Southeast Asia


Report: Mobilising non-Muslim votes on PAS agenda as it eyes dominant party status

By Ida Lim

15 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Islamist party PAS plans to reach out to non-Muslim voters as it recognises the need to represent different ethnic communities to be dominant in Malaysia, its deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has said.

In an interview with news portal The Malaysian Insight (TMI), Tuan Ibrahim said political parties that wish to be dominant must represent various ethnicities.

“We really need to work harder in approaching other races because any party that wants to become dominant in Malaysia cannot be of just one race,” he was quoted as saying.

Tuan Ibrahim suggested that PAS’ lack of engagement with the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities could be a reason for the lower level of support by non-Muslims towards the party.

“We admit that because the policies brought by PAS are Islamic. Non-Muslim sentiments towards PAS are not as strong as the parties representing their people, like MIC or MCA,” he said.

He said he had discussed with the PAS Supporters’ Congress (DHPP), which is PAS’s non-Muslim wing, on policy framework and how to engage with non-Muslims.

But for the states which PAS had won in elections, he said non-Muslim support for the party has not been an issue, citing the party’s wins in seats which are mixed constituencies — which would generally require candidates to gather votes from more than one ethnic community in order to secure majority.

“We won quite convincingly in Alor Setar and Kuantan (in the last general election), which are mixed constituencies. Non-Muslims’ support for PAS seems to be improving,” he was quoted as saying by TMI.

PAS has the highest number of seats won as a party with 43 seats garnered in the 15th general election, where it won all the seats contested in Kelantan and Terengganu, and holding two of three seats in Perlis and nine out of 15 seats in Kedah.

According to Tuan Ibrahim, he said non-Muslim communities “are not marginalised at all” in PAS-ruled states, noting for example that allocations are given to non-Muslims in Kelantan to deal with religion, culture and life.

“We appoint Chinese, Indians and even Siamese officials to be in the state government, although they were not (election) candidates nor assemblymen.

“It means we care about the issues that concern the non-Muslims,” he was quoted as saying.

As for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition which PAS is part of, Tuan Ibrahim said PN’s component party Gerakan did not manage to get much support from non-Muslim voters in GE15, due to rival and ruling party DAP’s dominance.

“In the last election, we put great hopes on Gerakan, but they still failed because DAP was too strong. I think even MCA, MIC also failed (to get much support),” he said.

PN currently comprises Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and PAS which are more oriented towards the Malay and Muslim communities, as well as Gerakan. Both Gerakan and DAP are multi-racial parties, while MCA and MIC — which belong to Barisan Nasional coalition in the ruling government — represent the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

Source: Malay Mail

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Heed PAS Leader’s Stand on Visiting Houses of Worship, Says Youth and Sports Minister

Predeep Nambiar

14 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Youth and sports minister Hannah Yeoh said opposition politicians who were against Muslims visiting the houses of worship of other faiths should take note of a PAS leader’s stance on the matter.

Yeoh pointed out that the Islamic party’s deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man had said in 2018 that PAS had no issue with Muslims visiting temples and churches as long as they did not take part in the rituals.

“Harakah Daily reported Tuan Ibrahim as saying that it was not ‘haram’ (prohibited) for Muslims to enter the houses of worship of non-Muslims,” she told the Dewan Rakyat, referring to the party’s official mouthpiece.

“If Perikatan Nasional wants to attack me, they should check what their partners had said before. Don’t say (Muslim) youths should not be allowed in churches, when PAS had said there was nothing wrong. People will get confused.”

In replying to points raised about her ministry during the debate on the Supply Bill 2023, she also noted that blogger Badrul Hisham Shaharin, better known as Chegubard, had linked a sports ministry’s organisation to Christian evangelism in a Facebook post yesterday.

Badrul, a member of Bersatu, had shared a poster by Impact Malaysia, a non-profit organisation under the ministry, about a planned visit to a church in Klang.

According to the promotional poster, the visit was for non-Christians who wanted to know more about the faith.

Asking if evangelists had begun their groundwork, Badrul said: “While religious preachers are being barred, an agency under a ministry headed by a DAP minister is looking to bring Muslim youths to church.”

Yeoh said Impact Malaysia would prohibit Muslims from visiting any church under this programme called “Jom Ziarah”, adding that similar programmes had only seen the participation of Chinese and Indian youths.

She also said those who made such “wild accusations” against her were out to make her a “punching bag” to divert attention from the court charges faced by their leaders.

Impact Malaysia also responded to Badrul, saying the programme was part of an integrated campaign to foster better understanding among the country’s multiracial and multi-religious communities. It had also organised visits to mosques and Hindu temples.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Badrul asked why the promotional poster inviting non-Christians to the church had been deleted if there was nothing wrong with the programme.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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After bid to challenge Selangor fatwa failed, Sisters in Islam expresses concern over appellate court not following judicial precedent

By Kenneth Tee

14 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Women's rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) has expressed concern over the Court of Appeal's decision today in dismissing their bid to challenge a 2014 state fatwa labelling the organisation deviated from Islamic teaching.

In a statement, SIS said the court's majority decision appeared to have not followed the precedent previously made at the country's apex court in 2022.

"SIS is gravely disappointed with the majority decision from the Court of Appeal which affirmed the August 2019 High Court ruling against the company.

"The basis and arguments raised by SIS in this fatwa case have always been on the grounds of the Federal Constitution and the extent to which relevant authorities had the mandate to make state laws and grant powers to state-level authorities that are in clear contravention of the Federal Constitution," it said.

In the February 2022 decision, the Federal Court unanimously declared Section 66(A) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 which granted the state’s Shariah High Court powers of judicial review as void and invalid.

Earlier, the Court of Appeal’s majority decision was also of the view that SIS Forum had failed to show that the 2014 fatwa issued by the Selangor fatwa committee was ultra vires or had gone beyond its powers under the 2003 Selangor law.

In a dissenting judgement, Datuk M. Gunalan, the other judge on the Court of Appeal panel, gave his minority or dissenting judgment — which, among other things, viewed that the Selangor Islamic bodies could not apply the fatwa to SIS Forum (Malaysia) Bhd as it is a company not capable of professing the religion of Islam.

The Selangor fatwa issued and gazetted in July 2014 had also said any publications with elements of liberalism and religious pluralism should be "diharamkan” (banned or made forbidden) and can be seized, stating that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should block any social websites which goes against the teachings of Islam and its codes, and also declared that any individuals holding on to liberalism and religious pluralism beliefs should repent and return to the path of Islam.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court decision which said the 2014 fatwa had not gone against the Printing Presses and Publications Act’s (PPPA) Section 7 and the Communications and Multimedia Act’s (CMA) Section 3(3).

The Court of Appeal said the High Court was not wrong to say that the 2014 Selangor fatwa only makes publications with liberalism and religious pluralism forbidden and does not give the Selangor fatwa committee to seize such publications, as the power to prohibit publications is still in the hands of the home minister.

The Court of Appeal went on to highlight that the Selangor 2014 fatwa only states a prohibition on liberalism and religious pluralism beliefs and only requires individuals to repent and return to Islam, and does not involve matters such as physical punishments.

The majority decision also ruled that the 2014 fatwa did not go against Article 5 and Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

Source: Malay Mail

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Guan Eng sends legal letter to Muhyiddin, says will sue for defamation if no apology given this week

By Ida Lim

15 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng today demanded an apology and compensation from former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin whom he accused of making "false and malicious" attacks against him.

Lim issued a reminder that he will sue the Bersatu president for defamation if no satisfactory response is given within a week.

Lim referred to Muhyiddin's alleged defamatory statements against him on March 10 and March 11 on his Facebook account as well as his remarks on March 12 to the media.

Muhyiddin’s remarks had alleged that Lim had as the finance minister in the past purportedly been involved in the previous government’s alleged cancellation of the tax exemption status for charitable organisation Yayasan Albukhary which was said to carry out work helping Muslims. Lim disputes Muhyiddin’s allegations as untrue.

In the legal letter to Muhyiddin, Lim demanded for a “full and unequivocal public retraction and apology” over those remarks, as well as an undertaking or promise to not repeat those allegations, and demanded Muhyiddin to propose a sum of money as compensation.

“This letter is written in accordance with the pre-action protocol for defamation. We look forward to hearing from you without delay. If we do not receive a satisfactory reply within seven days from the date of this letter, our instructions are to file a Writ of Summons against you to seek appropriate remedies against you without further notice to you,” law firm Guok Partnership, which is acting for Lim, said in the letter of demand dated today that was posted on Lim’s Facebook account.

The letter of demand was addressed to Muhyiddin at a Bukit Damansara address and at his party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s office.

When contacted, Lim’s lawyer Guok Ngek Seong told Malay Mail that the letter of demand has been sent out and that there is acknowledgement of receipts of the letter at both addresses.

In the letter, Lim denied Muhyiddin’s allegedly defamatory allegations, which he described as “politically-motivated” and aimed at tarnishing his image as being anti-Malay or anti-Islam, among other things.

Lim’s lawyers instead asserted his work for all races: “Over decades as an active politician, our client has demonstrated through his actions and conducts that he has defended the rights of every race regardless of any religion in Malaysia.”

The legal letter said Muhyiddin had failed to show proof that Lim had purportedly authorised or instructed the Inland Revenue Board to impose tax on Yayasan Albukhary, adding that this showed that Muhyiddin’s remarks were baseless.

The legal letter also suggested that Muhyiddin’s alleged political mudslinging against Lim was aimed at deflecting public attention from the multiple criminal charges faced by Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin was on March 10 and March 13 slapped with seven charges in court, including four counts of abuse of power under an anti-corruption law over RM232.5 million in alleged bribes from three companies and one individual (Bukhary Equity Sdn Bhd, Nepturis Sdn Bhd, Mamfor Sdn Bhd, Azman Yusoff) for Bersatu.

Source: Malay Mail

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Islamophobia pushing French Muslim professionals to look for work abroad: Experts

Leila Nezirevic



France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, however discrimination in the country is pushing many highly skilled Muslim professionals to seek better job opportunities in more tolerant societies accepting of their religious beliefs, experts said.

A new study by the University of Lille led by Professor Olivier Esteves revealed that highly educated Muslims are leaving France in large numbers for the UK, US, Canada and Dubai.

After surveying 1,074 Muslims who left the country, Esteves argues that more than two-thirds reported that they moved to practice their religion more freely, while 70% said they left to avoid incidents of racism and discrimination.

Esteves suggested that Muslim professionals with in-demand skills are fed up with the way they are treated in the country.

“What’s ironic is that France pays for these people’s education, yet the country loses that highly skilled talent because of rampant institutional Islamophobia,” Esteves pointed out.

Natasa Jevtovic, 38-year-old finance project manager, moved to the UK from France in 2020 in the hope to be able to practice her religion more easily and being offered better job opportunities that match her skills.

Jevtovic’s decision to move paid off as since she moved to London, she has been promoted several times and is now earning double.

She has experienced racist remarks at a leading French bank where she was threatened by her manager to be fired for confronting and accusing her colleagues of discrimination.

“People would use racist terms and then I would ask them to stop and from that moment onwards, nobody wanted to have lunches with me. Nobody wanted to talk to me for the next six months, I was just under boycotts, Jevtovic told Anadolu.

She is one of the many highly skilled Muslim professionals who do not feel welcome in France and for that reason are taking their skills where they feel are more appreciated.

‘Lame duck’

Yasser Louati, a French political analyst and human rights advocate who is currently the head of the Committee for Justice & Liberties (CJL), told Anadolu that the lack of religious freedom has become a reason why Muslim professionals are leaving France.

Louati argues that France loses highly skilled talent because of widespread “institutional Islamophobia,” and that the “sole loser here is France.”

Those who leave France are essentially trained and educated in France through public funding which means that there is no return on investments and instead the rival economies are profiting from those with a “rich background, both in terms of their education, and culturally,” he said

“So, one has to ask, how smart are our policymakers to let these people leave the country and work for economies in a globalized world where France is becoming a lame duck,” Louati added.

When you discriminate, you push people toward exile but “I don't think leaving is the answer, it is also about confronting these policies,” he said.

According to him, Muslims living in France are discriminated against in the terms of education, getting a job, purchasing a house, or even sometimes getting access to health care.

The national policymakers would rather miss out on opportunities that allow people “to be their equals. It's too bad for France. And honestly, I salute those countries and those companies that give a fair chance to these young men and women,” he said.

Since 2015 the French government has adopted various laws that Muslims say restrict their religious freedoms including a law that was passed in 2016 that prohibits the wearing of hijabs at work.

While In 2017, French President Emanuel Macron and his centrist government passed legislation that puts imams under harsh government scrutiny.

The government has also shut down mosques, Muslim-led groups, charities, and non-profits, “without due process,” said Louati.

Islamophobia ‘more prevalent’ in France

He further pointed out that such policies have created a culture of hostility that in turn are responsible for “the rise of Islamophobia in the country.”

The negative Muslim portrayal in French media was intensified during the 2022 presidential campaign by far-right candidates Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, who dedicated much of their election campaign to the “threats of Islam,” added Louati.

A 2016 study revealed that a fifth of all instances of Islamophobia in France happens in the work environment.

According to a 2021 government report, job applicants with Muslim Arab-sounding names have a 32% less chance of being called in for an interview.

Islamophobia in France is “more prevalent because it is more visible,” however this does not mean that “other Western governments are better,” said Louati.

“If we take a look at what the UK is doing to their Muslims, or what Italy is doing or what, for example, the US is doing, there is no big difference,” however even if their policies tend to be somehow radical, there are still more opportunities for Muslims there than in France, he pointed out.

Muslims are fully aware that they cannot completely escape prejudice in the West, however, the discrimination at the workplace or in general is “more visible and less sophisticated in France,” he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Syrian president arrives in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart

15 March 2023

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in Moscow at the head of a ranking delegation for high-level talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Assad arrived at Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport on Tuesday, heading a "large ministerial delegation," the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

He was welcomed by Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin would be holding talks with the Syrian chief executive on Wednesday.

"Topical issues of further development of Russian-Syrian cooperation in the political, trade, economic, and humanitarian spheres, as well as prospects for a comprehensive settlement of the situation in and around Syria will be discussed," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Russia played an important role in helping Damascus out after the Arab country found itself in the grip of rampant foreign-backed violence in 2011.

In September 2015, Moscow launched a campaign of backup aerial flights that helped the Syrian army and its allies take back huge swathes of the Syrian territory from foreign-backed militants and terrorists.

Together with Iran and Turkey, Russia has also served as one of the guarantors of negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition. The negotiations have mostly been held in the Kazakh capital of Astana since 2017 towards restoring the Arab country's situation back to normal.

Source: Press TV

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Iran breaching international treaty with prisoner detentions: France

14 March ,2023

France accused Iran on Tuesday of breaking an international treaty defining consular relations between states and said Tehran had demonstrated publicly that it was holding foreign nationals arbitrarily.

Relations between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months with Tehran detaining seven French nationals in what Paris has said is state hostage taking.

One of those, Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah, was released, but it is still unclear how much longer she will have to stay in Iran before returning to France.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said the French government had interfered and taken “destructive” positions regarding events in Iran.

“Obviously, these positions and the measures taken by France will not help in the negotiations for the prisoners,” Nasser Kanani told reporters.

French foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said Kanani’s remarks were extremely worrying and openly highlighted the “arbitrary character” of the detention of French citizens.

“This is an acknowledgement from the Iranian authorities that they are in breach of the Vienna convention on consular relations which constitutes the foundation of diplomatic relations between states,” she said, calling for the French citizens to be released immediately.

In recent years, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on charges related to espionage and security.

Source: Al Arabiya

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319 German soldiers suspected of right-wing extremism: Ombudsman

Ayhan Simsek



German authorities identified at least 319 suspected cases of right-wing extremism in the armed forces, parliamentary armed forces ombudsman Eva Hogl said Tuesday.

Hogl said right-wing extremism in the military remains a concern despite a decrease in cases in 2022, compared to the previous year.

“Right-wing extremism is also a problem in the German armed forces. In total, 319 cases were reported last year. While the decrease is a positive development, this is an issue which should be closely monitored,” she said at a news conference in Berlin.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Saudi Cabinet expresses hope that constructive dialogue with Iran continues

March 14, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet expressed hope on Tuesday that constructive dialogue with Iran continues in accordance with pillars and foundations included in a recent agreement between the two countries to renew diplomatic relations.

Saudi Arabia and Iran on Friday agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies within two months following years of tensions.

During a meeting chaired by King Salman, the Cabinet said it hopes the dialogue would continue in a way that benefited the two countries and the region in general, thereby enhancing regional and international peace and security.

The Cabinet also reaffirmed the Kingdom’s position in support of all international endeavors to find a political solution to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and to facilitate dialogue between the two parties.

It also expressed support for anything that would alleviate the tension and suffering caused by the crisis.

The Cabinet also commended the Kingdom’s affirmation, at the fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries that took place recently in Doha, that it would work with the international community to support the world’s least developed countries, help them overcome challenges, and push them towards progress and development.

Source: Arab News

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Senate confirms Ratney as next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

15 March ,2023

The Senate confirmed Michael Ratney as the next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia this week, filling one of the multiple vacant diplomatic posts in the region.

President Joe Biden nominated Ratney last year in April. He served as the acting deputy director of the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and, before that, was the chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Ratney has also previously served as the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Qatar as well as the acting deputy assistant secretary for the Levant and Israel and Palestinian Affairs. The veteran diplomat was US special envoy for Syria and served in Mexico City, Baghdad, Beirut, Casablanca and Bridgetown.

He speaks Arabic and French.

The US did not have an ambassador in Saudi Arabia for two years after former President Donald Trump took office. He then picked John Abizaid to be the envoy. The post has been vacant since he left in January 2021.

US-Saudi relations have dipped since Biden took office, froze arms sales to Riyadh, and lifted the terror designation of the Iran-backed Houthis.

But efforts have been made to bolster ties between the two countries. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and Boeing signed what the White House praised as “landmark deals” worth $37 billion.

Source: Al Arabiya

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$20 million Saudi hospital ships heal sick in rural Bangladesh


March 15, 2023

DHAKA: Five floating hospitals will ply the waterways of Bangladesh from June in a $20 million Saudi-funded project to provide healthcare to impoverished communities.

A third of the country is under water most of the time and many regions are accessible only by river. Few of these rural areas have medical facilities and the five hospital ships, all named after King Abdullah, will save lives.

“Our people are ready and we have already trained our staff. Everything is ready. I hope the first two ships will float by June or even before,” said Runa Khan, executive director of Friendship, the NGO that will operate the vessels.

“All the ships will be named after King Abdullah. They will run as King Abdullah Friendship Hospital 1-5.”

The largest of the five vessels, King Abdullah Hospital 1, is 31 meters long, and has an operating theater for general surgical operations and a separate theater for eye surgery. The other four ships will be 25 meters long, and will provide primary healthcare and minor procedures.

The hospital ships will run on the Padma River, the Meghna River in the northeastern district of Sunamganj, and in the southeastern regions of Hatiya. Each ship, supported by mobile clinics on land, will treat up to 350,000 people every month.

The ships will visit areas lacking medical facilities and where many cannot afford proper healthcare. “We do this almost free of cost. The charge is less than 10 US cents,” Khan said.

Source: Arab News

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NCM: Temperatures to rise high while rain will hit most Saudi regions during Ramadan

March 14, 2023

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia will witness an increase in temperatures more than the average level while rain will experience more than its normal rate in most regions of Saudi Arabia during the holy month of Ramadan.

This is the forecast of the National Center of Meteorology (NCM) in its report on the climatic conditions during the holy month of Ramadan from March 23 to April 20. The report warned of the possibility of the so-called extreme climatic conditions such as heavy rain during the period. The center noted that this year’s fasting month falls in the spring season.

The report indicated that the average temperature in Ramadan is expected to rise in most regions of the Kingdom. There would be an increase in the average surface temperature by up to one and a half degrees Celsius during March, especially in the regions of Tabuk, parts of the Northern Borders region, and Al-Jouf. Heat waves are also expected to occur especially in the northeastern regions of the Kingdom.

As far as the remaining period of Ramadan is concerned, the report projected a higher-than-average rise in surface temperatures in most regions of the Kingdom and around the average temperature in parts of the regions of Madinah, Makkah, Asir, and Jazan.

Regarding the rainfall rates during Ramadan, the report indicated that precipitation is higher than its normal rate in most regions of the Kingdom. The possibility of rain forecasts increases with a rise higher than the average, especially in the regions of Riyadh, Hail, Qassim, Al-Jouf, the Northern Borders region, parts of the regions of Makkah, Asir, and Jazan during the first week of Ramadan.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Egypt extending operating hours for commercial venues until 2am during Ramadan

14 Mar 2023

Typically, commercial shops and centres are allowed to operate nationwide from 7am to 11pm during the summer and from 7am to 10pm in winter. However, restaurants are permitted to open from 5am to 1am in the summer and from 5am to 12am in winter.

This extension will come into effect on 22 March, the first day of Ramadan, and will remain in place until the end of Eid Al-Fitr's three-day holiday on 23 April, marking the end of the holy month.

According to the decision, venues can run 24-hours a day for home delivery and takeaway services.

Under the new decision, handicraft shops located in residential blocks must close by 10pm, with the exception of workshops located on highways and fuel stations that provide urgent services for citizens.

Usually, handicraft shops are allowed to operate between 8am and 7pm, with an extension of one hour on Thursdays and Fridays, official holidays, and festive occasions.

Supermarkets, groceries, bakeries and pharmacies, which are allowed to operate around the clock, are excluded from the decision.

Source: Ahram

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Saudi Arabia sends new aid plane to quake victims in Türkiye

Omar Alothmani


Saudi Arabia on Tuesday sent a new plane loaded with humanitarian aid for the victims of last month’s deadly earthquakes that killed thousands in Türkiye.

The plane carrying 86 tons of shelter materials, including 1,700 tents, 10,800 winter bags, 2,520 mattresses and 1,800 blankets, flew from King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh to Gaziantep Airport in Turkiye, the state news agency SPA reported.

The plane was the 16th to have been dispatched by the oil-rich kingdom for the quake victims in Turkiye.

Following the earthquake disaster, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launched a donation drive on Feb. 8 for the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

At least 48,448 people were killed in the powerful earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to official figures.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Arabia obstructs Israeli foreign minister's planned visit for UN meeting: Report

14 March 2023

Saudi Arabia has reportedly ignored requests to “seriously discuss” security details for Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen’s planned visit to the kingdom, effectively blocking the trip.

The US-based news website Axios, citing three Israeli officials, reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia had initially approved a request for Cohen to enter the country to participate in a UN-sponsored tourism event in the kingdom.

However, when it was time to arrange his security detail, it "became clear that the Saudis weren't going to have a serious discussion," and Cohen was forced to cancel his trip, the report said. 

Cohen was scheduled to attend the event of "Best Tourism Villages" by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) this week, after the UN body included the name of the the Circassian village of Kfar Kama in the northern part of the occupied territories on an exclusive list of tourist destinations.

The two-day event is taking place in the northwestern Saudi city of al-'Ula, which Riyadh is working to promote as a tourism hub.

According to Axios, Israel lobbied the UNWTO and the administration of US President Joe Biden to press the Saudis to allow Cohen to attend the UN event.

“Eventually the Saudis found a way to say 'yes' to the UN as they had to, but at the same time create conditions that won’t allow the visit to happen," a senior Israeli official told Axios.

Cohen’s trip would have marked the first public visit by an Israeli minister to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has also refused to issue entry visas to the Israeli delegation consisting of Kfar Kama's residents that had been invited to partake in the event.

The move was regarded as a sign that Israel’s hopes of warming relations with Saudi Arabia may be premature. It also showed that despite reports of diplomatic efforts between Israel and Saudi Arabia and their desire to normalize ties, the reality on the ground seems to be completely different.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations. But in 2020, Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly paid a secret visit to Riyadh in his capacity as then Israeli regime's prime minister, meeting there with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The latest development came a few days after the kingdom and Iran reached an agreement to resume their diplomatic relations through a deal mediated by China.

Source: Press TV

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad calls for ramping up war with Israel

14 March, 2023

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group has called on all armed factions to "expand" the conflict with Israel throughout the occupied territories.

Khalid Al-Batsh, a senior official at the PIJ, said at a conference held during Jerusalem Week in Gaza on Sunday, that "the situation in the West Bank is similar to the situation before the occupation's withdrawal from Gaza".

"The occupation cannot resist its defeat, so we have the power to force it to leave our lands. We must unify our efforts to fight one of the most dangerous colonial states in the world."

He called on Fatah and Hamas to unite with Islamic Jihad against Israel.

The Islamic Jihad group is the second biggest armed group in the Gaza Strip. Israel has launched five large-scale military operations against the besieged Palestinian coastal enclave since 2008.

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a stifling siege of the Gaza Strip under the pretext of combating Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.

Source: The New Arab

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Iran’s top security official to visit UAE on Thursday: State media

15 March ,2023

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, will travel to the UAE’s capital on Thursday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

During his trip to Abu Dhabi, Shamkhani will meet with his Emirati counterpart as well as other senior officials to discuss bilateral, regional and international issues, according to IRNA.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hamas warns Israel against ‘violations’ during Ramadan

14 March ,2023

The Palestinian militant group Hamas warned Israel on Tuesday it would react to any possible “violations” at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, issued the warning less than two weeks before the start of Ramadan and amid an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Salah al-Aruri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said the risk of escalation entirely “depends on the Israeli occupation’s violations across Palestine and at Al-Aqsa mosque” located in annexed east Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa, a Jordan-administered mosque compound, is the third holiest site in Islam. It is built on top of what Jews call the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

Any Israeli attempt to “impose” its policies during Ramadan would be met with the “reaction of our people,” Aruri said in remarks carried by his movement’s official website.

Hamas, meanwhile, has no plans to initiate an escalation during Ramadan, according to the English-language version of Aruri’s remarks, although such a clarification does not appear in the Arabic version.

Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there.

In recent years, a growing number of Jews, most of them Israeli nationalists, have covertly prayed at the compound, a development decried by Palestinians.

Israel’s extreme-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, sparked global condemnation in January when he visited the site.

A controversial visit in 2000 by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon was one of the main triggers for the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which lasted until 2005.

Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 81 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.

Source: Al Arabiya

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China, Iran, Russia to conduct maritime drills in Gulf of Oman

15 March ,2023

China, Iran and Russia will conduct maritime drills in the Gulf of Oman from March 15 until March 19, China’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.

The drills will help “deepen practical cooperation among the navies of participating countries,” the ministry said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Amnesty denounces police misuse of rubber bullets worldwide

14 March ,2023

Police use of rubber bullets and other projectiles against peaceful protesters has become increasingly routine worldwide, leading to many eye injuries and even deaths, Amnesty International warned on Tuesday.

The London-based group called for better global regulation of the trade and use of such policing equipment, also called “less lethal weapons,” after research in more than 30 countries over the past five years.

“Thousands of protesters and bystanders have been maimed and dozens killed by the often reckless and disproportionate use of less lethal law enforcement weaponry,” it said in a new report titled “My Eye Exploded.”

These included rubber bullets, rubberized buckshot, and tear gas grenades fired directly at demonstrators in south and central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.

“There has been an alarming increase in eye injuries, including eyeball ruptures, retinal detachments and the complete loss of sight,” Amnesty said.

In Chile alone, the police’s response to protests from October 2019 caused more than 30 cases of eye loss, according to the country’s National Institute for Human Rights.

Other demonstrators in countries surveyed had also suffered bone and skull fractures, brain injuries, the rupture of internal organs, or punctured hearts and lungs from broken ribs, it added.

Demonstrators have also been killed, the report co-written with the UK-based Omega Research Foundation found.

In Iraq, security forces deliberately fired specialist grenades that are 10 times heavier than typical tear gas munitions at protesters, causing at least two dozen deaths in 2019, Amnesty said.

In Spain, the use of tennis-ball-sized rubber projectiles has led to at least one death from head trauma, according to campaign group Stop Balas de Goma.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Key dates in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 20-year rule of Turkey

14 March ,2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking a third consecutive term in office in elections in May, marks 20 years in power on Tuesday.

The 69-year-old, who served as prime minister from 2003-2014 and as president thereafter, started as a reformist who expanded rights and freedoms, allowing his majority-Muslim country to start European Union membership negotiations.

He later reversed course, cracking down on dissent, stifling the media and passing measures that eroded democracy.

The presidential and parliamentary elections set for May 14 could be Erdogan’s most challenging yet. They will be held amid economic turmoil and high inflation, since a devastating earthquake last February that killed tens of thousands.

Here’s a look at some of the key dates during Erdogan’s rule:

March 27, 1994: Erdogan is elected mayor of Istanbul, running on the pro-Islamic Welfare Party ticket.

Dec. 12, 1997: Erdogan is convicted of “inciting hatred” for reading a poem that the courts deem to be in violation of Turkey’s secular principles, and sentenced to four months in prison.

Aug. 14, 2001: Erdogan, who broke away from the Welfare Party with other members of its reformist wing, forms the conservative Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

Nov. 3, 2002: A year after it is founded, AKP wins a parliamentary majority in general elections. Erdogan however, is barred from running due to his conviction.

March 9, 2003: Erdogan is elected to parliament in a by-election after his political ban is lifted.

March 14: 2003: Erdogan replaces his AKP colleague Abdullah Gul as prime minister.

Oct. 3, 2005: Turkey begins accession talks with the European Union after Erdogan’s government introduces a series of reforms.

July 22, 2007: Erdogan wins 46.6 percent of the votes in general elections.

March 31, 2008: Constitutional Court accepts an indictment seeking the AKP’s closure for acts allegedly in violation of secularism. The court eventually rules not to shutter the party but cuts treasury financing for political parties.

October 20, 2008: The first of a series of trials against military officers, lawmakers and public figures begins. The suspects are accused of plotting to overthrow the government, in what turn out to be sham trials based on faked evidence and designed to eliminate Erdogan’s opponents. The trials were later blamed on the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Sept. 12, 2010: Erdogan wins a referendum on constitutional changes that allow the government to appoint high court judges, curb the powers of the military and ensure presidents are elected by a national vote rather than by parliament.

June 12, 2011: Erdogan wins general elections with a landslide 49.8 percent of the vote.

May 28, 2013: Nationwide anti-government protests erupt over plans to cut down trees in Istanbul’s central Gezi Park. Turkey’s largest ever protests result in eight deaths, while the government is accused of using excessive force against protesters.

Aug. 10, 2014: Erdogan wins Turkey’s first presidential election held by direct popular vote. Although the post is largely ceremonial, he is accused of exceeding his powers and meddling in the running of the country.

June 7, 2015: The AKP, headed by Ahmet Davutoglu after Erdogan became president, loses its majority in parliamentary elections, and is forced to seek a coalition.

Nov. 1, 2015: AKP regains a parliamentary majority in re-run elections following months of insecurity, including suicide bombings by the ISIS terrorist group and reignition of a decades-long conflict with Kurdish militants.

July 15, 2016: Erdogan’s government survives a military coup attempt blamed on followers of US-based cleric Gulen, a former ally. The failed coup results in nearly 290 deaths. The government then embarks on a large-scale crackdown on Gulen’s network, arresting tens of thousands and purging more than 130,000 from government jobs. Many media and nongovernmental organizations are closed down and the crackdown then expands to critics, including Kurdish lawmakers and journalists. The EU accession talks, which had made slow progress, are frozen amid the democratic backtracking.

April 16, 2017: Voters in a referendum narrowly approve switching the country’s political system from a parliamentary democracy to an executive presidential system, abolishing the post of prime minister and concentrating a vast amount of power in the hands of the president. Critics call the system a “one-man rule.”

June 24, 2018: Erdogan wins presidential elections with 52.59 percent of the vote, becoming Turkey’s first president with executive powers, while his party’s alliance with a nationalist party secures a majority in parliament.

June 22, 2019: Erdogan’s party loses re-run election for Istanbul mayor by a landslide after it contests March elections which the main opposition party’s candidate had narrowly won. It’s the first time since Erdogan’s mayoral win in 1994 that his party and its predecessors lose Turkey’s most important city.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s critics urge Germany, Britain to cancel his visit

March 14, 2023

JERUSALEM: Hundreds of Israeli writers, artists and intellectuals on Tuesday called on Germany and Britain to cancel upcoming visits by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system has put the country on a destructive course.

Netanyahu’s coalition, a collection of ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties, has barreled ahead with legislation that aims to weaken Israel’s Supreme Court and give them control over the appointment of the nation’s judges.

They say the plan is a long-overdue measure to curb what they see as outsize influence by unelected judges. But critics say the plan will destroy Israel’s fragile system of checks and balances by concentrating power in the hands of Netanyahu and his parliamentary majority. They also say it is an attempt by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, to escape justice.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets over the past two months to protest the sweeping overhaul. Protests last week were so large that Netanyahu was forced to take a helicopter to the airport in order to catch a flight for an official visit to Italy.

High-tech leaders, Nobel-winning economists and prominent security officials have spoken out against it, military reservists have threatened to stop reporting for duty and even some of Israel’s closest allies, including the US, have urged Netanyahu to slow down. Repeated efforts by Israel’s figurehead president, Isaac Herzog, to broker a compromise have not yielded fruit.

In a letter addressed to the German and British ambassadors in Israel, some 1,000 Israeli figures said Tuesday that Israel is in the midst of the most extreme crisis in its history and that Netanyahu is trying to turn the country into a “theocratic dictatorship.”

“In the face of Mr. Netanyahu’s dangerous and destructive leadership, and in light of a vast democratic civilian resistance against the destruction of state institutions by undemocratic law-making, we are asking that Germany and Great Britain swiftly announce to the defendant Netanyahu that his planned state visits to your countries are canceled,” reads the letter. “If these visits go ahead as planned, a dark shadow will hang over them.”

The letter was signed by internationally acclaimed author David Grossman, novelist Dorit Rabinyan, Oscar-nominated director Uri Barbash and scores of academics, business figures and professionals.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday in Berlin, where Israeli expats say they are organizing a large protest against their visiting prime minister.

Source: Arab News

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Hamas condemns Israeli bill allowing settlers’ return to evacuated illegal settlements

14 March 2023

The Palestinians resistance movement Hamas has strongly denounced the approval of a new bill by Israel that enables settlers to return to areas of the occupied West Bank evacuated in 2005, saying the move amounts to an all-out war against Palestinians.

The movement said in a statement on Tuesday that the bill aims to Judiaze Palestinian lands, noting that Palestinian youths will certainly confront it with more resistance.

Hamas further urged the international community to prevent such measures by the Israeli regime, which are a clear violation of international law.

It also called for an immediate action to stop the Israeli regime's occupation and aggression against Palestinians and their holy sites. 

On Monday, the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, approved a draft bill that would repeal the clauses of the Disengagement Law that ban Israelis from living in the northern West Bank, allowing them to return to the four evacuated illegal settlements of Homesh, Ganim, Kadim and Sanur in the area. 

The bill—sponsored by Likud Knesset member Yuli Edelstein and Israeli extremist minister Orit Strook-- was passed with 40 votes in favor and 17 against.

"There is no longer any justification to prevent Israelis from entering and staying in the evacuated territory in northern Samaria (West Bank), and therefore it is proposed to state that these sections [of the disengagement law] will no longer apply to the evacuated territory," the introductory text to the amendment states.

In 2005, then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon enacted a law requiring unilateral withdrawal from the besieged Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, and the removal of 25 illegal settlements in the two areas.

Twenty-one settlements in Gaza have already been removed and 8,000 settlers have been evacuated. In the occupied West Bank, four illegal settlements were evacuated but the structures in them were maintained and the areas were labeled closed military zones.

The Israeli regime has already authorized new settlement outposts and pledged to construct new settler units in the West Bank.

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

The international community views the settlements -- hundreds of which have been built across the West Bank since Tel Aviv's occupation of the territory in 1967 -- as illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions due to their construction on the occupied territories.

Source: Press TV

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Yemen: Fragile truce ‘may end at any moment’ as Saudi aggression, siege rage

14 March 2023

A senior adviser to the Yemeni Information Ministry says a de facto ceasefire between the country’s fighters and the invading Saudi-led coalition “may end at any moment” due to the continuation of the aggression and siege against the impoverished nation.

“As long as the aggression and blockade continue against Yemen, the ceasefire in this country may end at any moment,” he added.

“Some people claim that the resolution of rifts between Saudi Arabia and Iran means the end of the war on Yemen… This perception is wrong… [as] the war situation in Yemen still persists and that the ceasefire may end at any moment.”

Tofiq al-Hamiri told Sputnik that the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran should not be falsely tied to the Yemeni case.

On Friday, following days of intensive talks in Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies seven years after their relations were severed.

Analysts believe that the rapprochement between the two Middle Eastern powers could transform the region. Some experts have described the détente as a panacea for the Yemen war.

However, Hamiri emphasized that the war on Yemen will not stop except by ending the aggression and siege, along with the withdrawal of occupying forces and the country’s reconstruction.

“Yemen has been subjected to aggression, siege and occupation by the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. We entered this war to defend our country,” he said.

“We warn the coalition of aggressors that ignoring the requests of Yemen’s revolutionary leaders may make people run out of patience, and the result will be disastrous for the occupiers.”

Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.

The objective was to crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: Press TV

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North America


Former FBI Agent Reveals What It Was like Interrogating Saddam Hussein about Osama bin Laden

Joe Harker

14 March 2023

A former agent for the FBI who was tasked with interrogating Saddam Hussein has revealed what it was like to spend months with the deposed dictator.

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces, the rule of Saddam Hussein which had begun in 1979 came to an end in a matter of weeks.

The dictator was found hiding in a hole in a small Iraqi town by a Delta Force team, who said they apprehended him because he was armed with a gun which has since ended up in the possession of the then-US president George W Bush.

Needing someone to speak with Saddam, Lebanese American special agent George Piro was chosen and he has since lifted the lid on what it was like to be the interrogator of Saddam Hussein.

Speaking to CNN, the retired FBI agent explained that he got 'a call on Christmas Eve' telling him he'd been chosen to interrogate Saddam Hussein for the FBI.

Piro admitted that his first reaction was to find it 'terrifying' that he'd been tasked with 'interrogating somebody that was on the world stage for so many years' and decided to do his homework before meeting the toppled dictator.

He bought books on Hussein to learn about the man he was going to be speaking to and develop a strategy for the interrogation.

He said: "At my first meeting with Saddam, within 30 seconds, he knew two things about me. I told him my name was George Piro and that I was in charge, and he immediately said 'You're Lebanese'.

"I told him my parents were Lebanese, and then he said, 'You’re Christian'. I asked him if that was a problem, and he said absolutely not. He loved the Lebanese people. Lebanese people loved him.

"And I was like, 'Well, great. We’re going to get along wonderfully'."

All-in-all, Piro spent about seven months meeting with Saddam, conducting several hours of interrogation 'once or twice a week' which grew to 'about five to seven hours every single day'.

At first they discussed history, art, sports and politics as the agent said the initial goal was 'just to get him to talk'.

Over time the conversation moved to more serious matters, and the topic of Osama Bin Laden - at the time the world's most wanted terrorist - was raised.

Piro revealed that the deposed tyrant 'didn't like Osama Bin Laden' and used to joke about him, quipping: "You really can't trust anybody with a beard like that."

Another moment the former FBI agent revealed was the dictator's 67th birthday, where Piro brought him tea and cookies his mother had made while Hussein was 'depressed' to learn that Iraqis were happy that they weren't being forced to celebrate his birthday.

Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging in 2006 after being convicted of crimes against humanity, with his regime being linked to horrendous human rights abuses and and an estimated 250,000 murders.

Source: Unilad

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As Russia Looms, US Seeks Influence In West Africa’s Fight against Islamists

15 March ,2023

US commanders leading annual counter-terrorism exercises in West Africa have urged coastal countries to depend on each other to contain a spreading Islamist insurgency, rather than non-Western powers, after Mali last year hired Russian mercenaries.

Relations between Russia and the US have become more hostile since Moscow invaded Ukraine over a year ago, and Washington and its allies oppose Russian influence in West Africa.

During drills this month in northern Ghana, trainers urged troops to share phone numbers with foreign counterparts operating over poorly marked borders, often just a few miles apart. Elsewhere, soldiers have also learned to use motorbikes, as the insurgents do, for their speed and maneuverability.

Overrun by Islamist groups, and amid a row with former colonial power France, Mali’s military government last year hired private Russian military contractor Wagner Group, whose fighters are playing key roles in Ukraine, to combat the militants. This has worried Western governments and the United Nations who say the move has led to a spike in violence.

Mali, whose government took power in a 2021 military coup, has previously said Russian forces are not mercenaries but trainers helping local troops with equipment from Russia.

“You have governments with so many problems that they begin reaching out to other malign actors who are perhaps more exploitive of the resources in those countries,” Colonel Robert Zyla from US Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) told Reuters at exercises in Ghana.

“Contrast that with what we’re trying to bring, which are partnerships between neighbors and other democratic nations.”

In this month’s exercises, soldiers patrolled barren scrubland dotted with thin bushes. At the center of the strategy is engaging border communities and making sure armies work together in a region where frontiers span hundreds of miles of sparsely populated desert.

“No one country can solve this by themselves,” Zyla said. “Going forward it will be about teaching countries in the region how to reach across borders and talk.”

Failure to stop insurgency

For a decade, offensive efforts have failed to stop an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced millions. Security experts say it could get worse after thousands of French troops were forced out of Mali and Burkina Faso by military juntas this year.

The main challenge is a lack of resources and large-scale international commitment to defence in one of the poorest parts of the world, experts said.

Ghana has bolstered troops in its northern regions. But it has no reconnaissance drones to monitor border areas, said Colonel Richard Kainyi Mensah, chief operations officer for Ghana’s special operations brigade.

“Logistics and equipment are key,” he said. “Resources are limited.”

It is not clear what more resources the US and Europe are willing to give. The US has been reluctant to engage after four soldiers were killed in Niger in 2017. The UK, Germany and other nations are pulling troops from a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali as security worsens.

Earlier this month, General Michael Langley, the commander of US Africa Command, told journalists that “stabilization and security” were its focus in Africa, without providing details.

Some believe that not enough is being done.

“There’s a lot of hesitancy to deploy more than we need to,” said Aneliese Bernard, director of Strategic Stabilization Advisors, a US-based risk advisory group. “The irony is that means we’re basically putting a Band-Aid on a severed limb.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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US policy of 'war on terror' exports Islamophobia globally: Academic Khaled Ali Beydoun

Gulcin Kazan Doger 


An academic and an author researching Islamophobia in the US, Khaled Ali Beydoun spoke to Anadolu on Tuesday, pointing to the role of the US in the increasing globalization of anti-Islam protests in Asia and Europe.

"The US has exported Islamophobia to Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and beyond, in a destructive way," Beydoun said.

The professor at the Wayne State University School of Law also said the US administration laid out a new framework for the Muslim identity with the rhetoric of "war on terror" after the Sept. 11 attacks, as March 15 International Day for the Elimination of Islamophobia draws close.

"The more Muslims appeared more like Muslims, the more they were suspected of being involved in terrorism," he said.

"United States provided a new language of counterterrorism. In addition to that, there was a new legal and policing architecture that came into play that the United States sort of engineered, and governments across the world adopted, specifically governments that had a vested interest in persecuting Muslims adopted this new American language and adopted this new American policing paradigm to crack down on their own Muslim populations."

Pointing out that the "war on terror" campaign of the US is effective in a wide area from Asia to Europe, Beydoun said: "Before 9/11, Uyghurs living in China were not defined as terrorists, extremists, or those affiliated with transnational terrorist networks."

"Uyghurs were more often described as 'separatists, subversive, rogue, and criminal,' but this new American language of terrorism has equipped the Chinese government with unlimited power to neutralize the Uyghurs as if they were terrorists. The same applies to India, Myanmar, Sweden, France, UK, and the whole world," he said.

5 countries with most Islamophobia: China, India, France, US, Myanmar

Citing his studies, Beydoun also said: "First of all, I can say that China is the worst because China is an authoritarian government that practices the most horrific forms of Islamophobia, such as concentration camps and ethnic cleansing. Focusing on Islam, it is a kind of ethnic cleansing aimed to destroy the Uyghur people through genocide."

Noting that India ranks second in anti-Muslim sentiments, Beydoun said: "In India, which has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi regime and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are using Hindu supremacy as a tool to destroy Muslims in the country. And it does this in very horrific ways, using the Law of Citizenship (which excludes Muslims), the headscarf bans in the states, or the usurpation of the citizenship of Muslims."

Putting France in third place, Beydoun noted: "I would say France is number three because France has set sort of set forth the template like it's become like the Western model for how to crack down and marginalize Muslims by way of law. We see this most strikingly in policies such as the headscarf ban. France promotes Muslims' freedom of religion, erodes with expanded policies, including the veil."

The professor also said that after France, the country where anti-Muslim sentiment is felt the most is the US.

"The US is the catalyst for the 'global war on terror' that spreads and globalizes Islamophobia with anti-Muslim language, perhaps even more powerfully than any other government in the world. Because the US is a superpower, isn't it? It's the most powerful country and government in the world, claiming to be a democracy. The US has exported Islamophobia to Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and beyond in a devastating way,” he said.

Referring to the situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Beydoun said: "We cannot ignore what is happening in Myanmar. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have been killed and hundreds of thousands of them have been displaced by ethnic cleansing in the country. All Muslim villages, towns, and communities have been destroyed by a militant Buddhist government."

Media as 'the enabler of Islamophobia'

Speaking about the role of law and the media in the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in recent years, Beydoun said: "As a law professor, I observe that law is always the most effective way to advance and expand Islamophobia. Like the headscarf law in France, the Citizenship Law in India.

"Secondly, the media. Media immortalizes Islamophobia by spreading negative ideas, negative stories, negative stereotypes," he said, adding that the media is the enabler of Islamophobia.

Pointing out that Muslims who are discriminated against, marginalized, or killed due to anti-Muslim laws are not sufficiently covered in the media, Beydoun said: "In my first book, I wrote that Muslims are newsworthy only when they are the bad guys, not when they are the victims. After all, there is a Muslim terrorist that every media organization talks about. Isn't that so? Few media outlets talk about it when Muslims are the victims of the horrific state-sponsored terrorism in China."

'Islamophobia is combination of fear and hatred'

Emphasizing that the "fear of Islam" is deliberately produced by politicians in societies, Beydoun continued:

“Islamophobia is a combination of fear and hatred. Politicians want to advance their own political, economic, and geopolitical interests by using Islamophobia as a tool. Governments know what they are doing. Politicians know what they are doing when they use Islamophobia as a weapon to support them. For example, former US President Donald Trump has declared Islamophobia as a weapon. He knew that if he used it as a campaign tactic, it would mobilize his base and get more support for his campaign."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Muslim holidays find welcome from mainstream retailers with new Ramadan goods

March 14, 2023

When Natasha Khan Kazi was a student at the University of Pittsburgh in the early aughts, Eid al-Fitr — a major Muslim holiday that marks the end of a monthlong fasting during Ramadan — fell just before Christmas break. So while many of her classmates went through finals week anticipating the warmth of holiday gatherings a few days later, Khan Kazi spent her Eid in a crowded classroom bent over her exams.

“There were so many moments growing up where I wasn’t seen or acknowledged, or all the joy I felt for my celebration was quieted,” she told Religion News Service recently.

So when Khan Kazi saw earlier this month that Target, the big-box store and online retailer, had included her recently published children’s book, “Moon’s Ramadan,” in its first Ramadan and Eid holiday collection, “I was speechless,” she said. “It was being seen, and being acknowledged, it was showing that our celebration mattered.”

Target isn’t the only national outlet to put Ramadan on its radar this year. From Party City to West Elm, Eid and other minority religious holidays are starting to gain traction in mainstream spaces.

For years, companies including Starbucks and Tyson Foods have been promoting religious inclusion among their employees, hosting religious literacy trainings or hiring interfaith chaplains. But increasingly they are seeing a market in the Muslim community.

“There was a strategic move of these corporations to tap into the buying power of the (Muslim) community that they’ve been kind of ignoring for a while,” said Liz Bucar, religious ethicist at Northeastern University in Boston and author of “Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultural Appropriation.”

Bucar first noticed the trend of Muslim-friendly products around 2017. That year, a Pew Research Center survey found that U.S. adults had warmer feelings toward Muslims compared with 2014, though 50% of the 2017 respondents still said Islam is not part of mainstream society. But a key piece, she added, is the emergence of creative Muslim entrepreneurs such as Khan Kazi.

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and now living in Southern California, Khan Kazi began thinking about writing “Moon’s Ramadan” in 2019 after she visited her son’s preschool classroom and found few resources for young readers to encounter Ramadan. Her book — which she illustrated herself in deep blues and purples — follows the moon as it views Ramadan celebrations in New Zealand, Indonesia, Egypt and the United Kingdom. The book introduces readers to traditions such as Suhoor, the meal eaten before sunup, and Taraweeh prayers performed at Sunni Muslim mosques after the day’s fast ends at sundown.

Like Khan Kazi, author Aya Khalil told RNS that Ramadan and Eid were often overlooked in the small Ohio and North Dakota towns where she grew up. “Christmas looked a lot more fun, especially in the classroom, where people shared their Christmas books and gifts,” she recalled.

Khalil’s children’s book “The Night Before Eid,” released March 7, tells the story of an Egyptian American family that bonds over making ka’ak, powdered sugar-covered sweets. At the back of the book is Khalil’s recipe for ka’ak, along with photos of her Eid celebrations with her family today.

“There’s a lot for anybody to relate to,” she said of her story: intergenerational family parties, baking, picky eaters, wanting to impress your friends. “And for Muslim and Arab kids, there are Arab words, references and music. There are very few picture books written by Arab authors.”

Khalil had been told months ago that her book would be sold on Target’s shelves, but she didn’t believe it until she saw it in person.

“It’s a huge deal that major stores are finally including us. It’s just nice that for kids now just growing up, it will be a normal thing. … It wasn’t a norm for us.”

Khalil’s editor, Jessica Anderson of Christy Ottaviano Books, told RNS via email that Target has been adding titles about the Lunar New Year, Diwali and Día de los Muertos to its shelves as well.

While Khalil appreciates corporate retailers taking an interest in Ramadan and Eid, Khalil pointed to a 2018 video tutorial from MAC Cosmetics demonstrating how to apply eye shadow and mascara for Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal.

“It’s like at 4 o’clock in the morning when we wake up to eat breakfast,” said Khalil, laughing. “Who dresses up for Suhoor when everybody is in their pajamas?”

Efforts to market to minority faith communities can be fraught, even offensive. The gaffes have historically been so plentiful — menorahs with the wrong number of candles or Hanukkah gnomes — they’ve inspired an entire Instagram account.

“The question really starts with, is the corporation just doing this trying to leverage a market they know is out there, or is it really part of a bigger commitment to representation, diversity, inclusion?” asked Bucar.

Though some companies have a ways to go when it comes to religious literacy, both Khalil and Khan Kazi said they are excited about the recent interest in Ramadan and hope their books eventually work to help children of all religious backgrounds feel seen.

Source: Religion News

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Canada Intelligence Body to Launch Islamophobia Investigation Into Tax Agency

Barry Ellsworth 



Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Review Agency said Tuesday that it will investigate accusations of Islamophobia against the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the federal agency that collects taxes and administers tax laws for the Canadian government.

The CRA’s audit of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), which began in 2015, could jeopardize the charitable tax status of MAC, Canada’s largest Muslim association.

The CRA’s review and analysis wing probes registered charities like MAC to ensure that donations are not being used to finance terrorism.

If the CRA believes that is the case, it can revoke an organization’s charitable license so that donors are not issued a tax receipt, impairing the organization’s ability to raise funds.

MAC launched a court challenge in 2022 to stop the audit, claiming the tax agency is biased and targets itself and other Muslim charities because the agency is “tainted by systemic bias and Islamophobia.”

“The audit would never have been approached in the way it has been had the organization in question been Christian, Jewish or Hindu,” said Geoff Hall, a lawyer at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, in a statement last April.

MAC also asked for an investigation of the CRA, and Tuesday, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency announced its intention to do just that.

The intelligence agency said the review will focus on the CRA’s “national security activities and decision-making relating to registered Canadian charities, to assess their reasonableness, necessity and compliance with the law.”

But National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier asked in 2021 that the charge of Islamophobia against the CRA be looked into. While the intelligence agency said it would look at all charities, the concern is MAC and similar organizations.

Lebouthillier said she has no problem with the probe.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Türkiye, US need to have 'a strategic conversation’: Turkish presidential spokesperson

Rabia İclal Turan 



Türkiye and the US need to have a larger geopolitical “strategic conversation,” Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Monday, noting that relations between the two countries are based on "mutual respect" and “mutual interests.”

Addressing the US-Türkiye Business Forum in Washington, D.C., Kalin thanked members of the US business community for attending the forum and also for making pledges to help Türkiye.

The forum convened in the US capital on Monday while the US private sector raised more than $110 million to assist Türkiye following last month’s devastating earthquakes.

“The work that we will be doing for the next couple of years is huge,” he continued, noting the reconstruction efforts.

Asked about relations between Türkiye and the US, Kalin stressed the need for a “strategic conversation” while noting that Türkiye has been subject to “unfair” and “biased” scrutiny of various types when it comes to the “meaning and the strength of our alliances” and also regarding the war in Ukraine and other regional issues.

"Whatever differences we may have, we can address them," he said.

“We can certainly have certain disagreements on certain issues. Even the closest allies, like the UK and the United States or any other partner, there are times when you have differences, but I think those differences can certainly be overcome,” Kalin said.

"The Türkiye-US relationship of course is based on mutual respect, mutual interests and on principles of good governance, principles of understanding," he said.

‘Türkiye is a key player’

Stressing the importance of Türkiye as a “key player,” Kalin recalled the energy crisis in Europe following the Russian war in Ukraine.

He said the capacity of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), which supplies Azerbaijani gas to Turkish markets and will eventually bring gas to Europe, can be increased.

TANAP is the central part of the Southern Gas Corridor which connects the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe through the South Caucasus Pipeline and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

A second alternative, he said, is Eastern Mediterranean energy resources, he said, namely the East Med project, to carry natural gas to Europe.

“In both alternatives, Türkiye is a key player,” he said.

However, Kalin added that some members of the US Congress have a “very one-sided reading of the geopolitical realities on the ground.”

“We tried to reach out to them, explain to them, (saying) look at the wider picture here,” he said.

“We would like to see more Congress people coming and visiting Türkiye, having more engagements with the Turkish people, the business community,” he continued.

Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids

Asked about Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids, Kalin said when the two countries applied to NATO, Türkiye looked at its “own security checklist.”

“In terms of Türkiye’s national security interests, we have some issues in those countries because the PKK, various terror organizations as well as FETO, which is responsible for the July 15 (2016) coup attempt (in Türkiye) have taken deep roots, especially in Sweden,” he said.

Recalling his past conversations with his Swedish counterparts a year ago, during which he raised Türkiye’s security concerns, Kalin said: “They first didn't understand the depth of their (the terrorist organizations’) presence in their own country.”

“I think we are in a much better place now then we were a year ago,” he said, adding that Sweden says they “need some time to put the necessary legal framework in place to prosecute these people,” citing Sweden's new anti-terror bill which will go into force on June 1.

"So this is a timeline that they have, not us. We didn't impose this timeline," Kalin said.

Noting that according to current Swedish law, it is not a crime to be a member of the PKK terrorist organization in the country, Kalin said: “They tell us that they cannot really do much until this new federal law becomes effective.”

“Now we are being criticized severely again by some of our friends here, especially in Washington, and I know this is the sentiment among some Congress members as well,” he said.

“But the fact is that we have this criteria. Once they meet this criteria, the process will move forward.”

He also recalled North Macedonia’s NATO membership process, which was held pending for more than 10 years due to a name dispute with its southern neighbor Greece.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN seizes on Saudi-Iran detente to push for end to Yemen war

14 March ,2023

A top United Nations envoy visited Iran to discuss ending the war in Yemen, days after the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore ties and curtail a rivalry that’s fueled the conflict for almost a decade.

Hans Grundberg, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to discuss “the importance of regional support to start a comprehensive political process led by Yemenis to end the conflict,” his office said in a tweet.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed on Friday to repair relations after seven years marked by geopolitical rivalry and indirect conflict, especially in Yemen, where they back opposite sides in the civil war. On Monday, Iran said it wanted to mend its relations with more Arab countries.

Grundberg’s visit also included a meeting with China’s ambassador to Tehran, Chang Hua. China, which brokered last week’s deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, is willing to provide assistance for Yemen’s reconstruction, Hua said in a tweet.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Two TTP-Gandapur Group terrorists killed in Dera operation

March 14, 2023

D.I.KHAN: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and the security forces in a joint intelligence-based operation have killed two terrorists in the limits of Dera Town Police Station.

Regional Police Officer Dera Abdul Ghafoor Afridi told the media on Tuesday that the two terrorists – Akhtar Munir alias Qari Waleed son of Razi Khan, resident of Bannu, and Abdul Aziz alias Talha son of Bahadar, resident of Afghanistan (presently residing in Kohat) – belonged to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)- Gandapur Group.

He said on a tip-off about the presence of the terrorists, the CTD personnel in coordination with the security forces besieged the area. During the search operation, an exchange of fire took place, which resulted in the killing of the terrorists.

Arms and ammunition were also recovered from them, he added.

RPO Afridi said Akhtar Munir was wanted to police in 11 cases of terrorism registered against him in Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan. Similarly, Abdul Aziz was wanted to the Dera Police in three heinous cases and to the Kohat Police in four cases.

Source: Pakistan Today

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TTP attackers kill policemen guarding census team

March 14, 2023

PESHAWAR: Two policemen were killed while guarding teams collecting census data in separate attacks claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), police said Tuesday.

Pakistan started a month-long digital census at the beginning of March with security officials deployed alongside more than 120,000 enumerators.

Police are increasingly on the frontline of Pakistan’s battle with the proscribed militant group and are frequently targeted by its members who accuse them of extra-judicial killings.

On Monday, two teams were attacked in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in separate districts close to the border with Afghanistan.

“Gunmen attacked the police party responsible for supervising the security of the census team from two directions,” said Farooq Khan, a police official in Tank district, adding that one officer was killed and four were wounded.

Later in the evening, the military reported that one militant was killed in an “intense exchange of fire”.

In the other attack, men on a motorbike opened fire on police, killing one and wounding three.

“The security measures were further intensified and the census process was resumed,” Lakki Marwat district administration official Tariq Ullah told AFP.

The attacks follow a similar assault last week in the same region which left an officer dead.

The TTP, which is separate from the Afghan Taliban but has a similar Islamist ideology, claimed all three attacks.

“Our primary target is the police, regardless of whether they are escorting politicians, polio teams, or census teams,” a TTP commander told AFP.

Pakistan is facing overlapping political, economic and environmental crises, as well as a worsening security situation, since the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul in August 2021.

In January, more than 80 officers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at a mosque inside a police compound in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The census is gathering demographic data ahead of parliamentary elections due by October.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Counter-terrorism squad kills two Pakistan Taliban masterminds behind Karachi Police Office attack


Counter-terrorism personnel have killed two masterminds affiliated to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban outfit who orchestrated the audacious attack on the Karachi Police Office here last month during a pre-dawn raid, media reports said on Tuesday.

In February, heavily-armed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants stormed the Karachi Police chief's office in Pakistan's most populous city, sparking gunfire that killed three rebels and four others, including two police constables.

Pakistan police said 19 people, mostly police and rangers personnel, were also injured and were under treatment.

Pakistan's Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) received a tip-off on Sunday night that TTP militants would reach Karachi.

The four militants, who arrived on two motorbikes, were asked to stop by CTD officials on Monday morning.

Instead, they opened fire and in the ensuing gunfight, two militants were shot dead, while the other two surrendered, the Dawn newspaper reported. A suicide jacket was recovered from them, which was defused, it said.

The militants who were killed were identified as Aryadullah alias Hasan and Waheedullah alias Khalid alias Huzaifa.

“Both killed militants were masterminds of the KPO attack,” Sindh's information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said.

“This network had provided help, planning and reconnaissance to the KPO terrorists,” the minister said.

A week prior to the attack on Karachi Police Office, three suicide bombers came to Karachi by bus and stayed at the home of the slain militant Waheed in Ahsanabad, the report said.

Suicide jackets, arms and other weapons were brought to Karachi through a truck from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Tank area, it said.

Memon said that the four militants had arrived in Karachi to carry out another terror act as he perceived that they did not achieve their objectives during the KPO raid, it added.

The attack was a major embarrassment for the provincial government as the Karachi Police Chief office and the Saddar police station are located on the main Shahrah-e-Faisal road, which serves as Karachi's main thoroughfare with a number of strategic installations, including the Pakistan Airforce's Faisal Base — and five-star hotels in close proximity.

On January 30, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up during the afternoon prayers in a mosque in Peshawar, killing 101 people and injuring more than 200 others.

Pakistan has been hit by a wave of terrorism, mostly in the country's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, but also in Balochistan, the Punjab town of Mianwali, which borders the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and in the Sindh province.

During the Apex Committee meeting held last month, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership decided to seek Afghan Taliban chief Haibuttallah Akhundzada’s intervention to control the TTP.

In November last year, the TTP called off an indefinite ceasefire agreed with the government in June 2022 and ordered its militants to carry out attacks on the security forces.

Pakistan hoped that the Afghan Taliban after coming to power would stop the use of their soil against Pakistan by expelling the TTP operatives, but they have apparently refused to do so at the cost of straining ties with Islamabad.

The TTP, set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007, called off a ceasefire with the federal government and ordered its militants to stage terrorist attacks across the country.

The group, which is believed to be close to Al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

Source: Telegraph India

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Pakistan's Imran Khan ready to give surety bond to appear in court after clashes

Mar 15, 2023

LAHORE: Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan is willing to give a surety bond that he will appear in court on Saturday, he said in a video address as clashes continued between his supporters and law enforcers.

A lower trial court in capital Islamabad had issued a arrest warrant for Khan for not appearing before it despite several summons. Khan is accused of unlawfully selling state gifts while in power from 2018 to 2022, but he denies wrongdoing.

Source: Times Of India

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Lahore's Zaman Park under siege after clashes between police and Imran Khan's supporters

Mar 15, 2023

LAHORE: Tear gas shells, burnt tyres and vehicles litter the roads in Lahore's Zaman Park area which has turned into a battleground after supporters of Imran Khan engaged in pitched battles lasting over 11 hours with police personnel to stop them from arresting the ousted Pakistan premier, resulting in injuries to dozens to policemen.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and police clashed on Tuesday in Lahore's Zaman Park area after a contingent of the Islamabad police, along with armoured vehicles, reached party chief Khan's Lahore home to arrest him after a non-bailable warrant was issued in the ongoing Toshakhana (gift depository) case against him.

"Clearly 'arrest' claim was mere drama because real intent is to abduct & assassinate. From tear gas & water cannons, they have now resorted to live firing. I signed a surety bond last evening, but the DIG refused to even entertain it. There is no doubt of their mala fide intent," Khan tweeted on Wednesday.

The police, with their riot gear on and backed by Rangers, closed in on 70-year-old Khan's home in order to comply with the court orders to arrest him in the Toshakhana case.

Fearing the worst, various PTI leaders — including Khan himself — appealed to party workers to rush to Zaman Park, where they served as human shields and stood between Khan's residence and the police.

The police fired tear gas shells but were met with resistance and found PTI workers undeterred.

"After our workers & leadership faced police onslaught since yesterday morning of tear gas, cannons with chemical water, rubber bullets & live bullets this morning; we now have Rangers taking over & are now in direct confrontation with the people," Khan tweeted.

"My question to the Establishment, to those who claim they are 'neutral': Is this your idea of neutrality, Rangers directly confronting unarmed protestors & ldrship of largest pol party when their ldr is facing an illegal warrant & case already in court & when govt of crooks trying to abduct & possibly murder him?" he wrote on Wednesday.

For more than 11 hours, PTI workers engaged capital police in pitched battles that continued late into the night.

As night fell in Lahore, the PTI workers had gained the upper hand — not only had it opened more fronts across the city, the influx of a large number of supporters into Zaman Park forced security men to retreat. By midnight, police had suffered around 30 casualties, the Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.

At a late-night meeting summoned by the Punjab interim chief minister Mohsin Naqvi to take stock of the security situation in the provincial capital, it was decided to make another bid to detain the PTI chief and wrap up the operation before the morning.

In order to set the plan in motion, fresh units of police and Rangers took positions on The Mall in the early hours of Wednesday, the report said.

This is the second time in less than 10 days that the police have arrived at Zaman Park to apprehend the deposed prime minister.

In a conversation with the BBC, Khan said that the police came "all of a sudden" to arrest him without informing him.

"We saw on the news that the police were coming to arrest me," he said.

"I am all mentally prepared that I am going to spend my night in a cell and I don't know how many nights. I am all prepared for that. But I think they are determined [this time] and they want me behind bars," he said, according to Geo News.

In a late-night tweet, PTI leader Asad Umar said the president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association had assured that Khan would appear in the court on March 18.

In light of the undertaking, there was “no justification” for the police operation, he added.

Khan, in a video message on Tuesday, asked his supporters to "come out" to fight for real freedom and continue the struggle even if he is killed or arrested. "They (the government) think that after my arrest, the nation will fall asleep. You have to prove them wrong," he said in the video.

"God has given me everything, and I am fighting this battle for you. I have been fighting this battle all my life, and I will continue to do so.

"If something happens to me and I am sent to jail or if I am killed, you have to prove that you will struggle without Imran Khan and not accept the slavery of these thieves and of the one person who has been making decisions for the country," he said.

The standoff in Zaman Park has triggered protests across the country, and several cities saw protests by PTI workers.

In Islamabad, at least four policemen were injured and over two dozen supporters of the former ruling were detained after protests erupted in several parts of the federal capital, resulting in logjams across the city.

A series of organised and sporadic protests broke out in Karachi with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers blocking roads and disrupting traffic in several areas of the city.

Soon after Khan's speech, protests broke out also in Peshawar, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Vehari, Quetta, and Mianwali.

The PTI has declared that it would not let law enforcement agencies arrest Khan as it fears he may be given poison in jail.

Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.

On Monday, the Lahore police booked Khan in a case related to the killing of the PTI worker - Ali Bilal alias Zille Shah - in a road accident.

Earlier, the Lahore police had registered an FIR against Khan and 400 others for the murder of Shah.

This is the 81st FIR against Khan since the PML-N-led federal coalition came into power 11 months ago after toppling his government through a no-confidence motion.

Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

Since his ouster, Khan has been asking for early elections to oust what he termed an "imported government" led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Source: Times Of India

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Delayed IMF deal with Pakistan blamed on political instability

Anwar Iqbal

March 15, 2023

WASHINGTON: The political situation in Pakistan has become a factor in delaying a deal with International Monetary Fund (IMF) that may stabilise the national economy, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

Sources say that global lenders, particularly the IMF, are seeking assurances from Pakistan that the future political setup in the country will respect any deal they sign with Islamabad. Pakistan and the IMF have been negotiating the resumption of an installed $7bn IMF programme for months now but are yet to reach an agreement.

Last week, Finance Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh told reporters that an agreement was likely in the next few days, though Pakistan has missed such timelines in the past as well. Sources Dawn spoke to said that Pakistan has already implemented a series of policy measures that the IMF suggested, including increased taxes, higher energy prices and increasing interest rates to the highest in 25 years.

But two major issues remain unresolved: financial and political assurances. The IMF wants Pakistan to show that it can raise enough financial resources to narrow its balance of payments gap.

Since the IMF only provides a part of the loan a borrower needs, it requires the borrower to show that it has pledges from other lenders to bridge the gap.

According to the sources, China, Saudi Arabia, and other partners have come forward with help offers but the IMF thinks it is not enough. The government of Pakistan says that the gap is $5bn, but the IMF believes Pakistan needs $7bn.

The IMF also needs the assurance that the government signing the deal can implement it. But the expected elections in KP and Punjab, and the possibility of the national elections soon after, have persuaded the IMF to think that the present government may or may not be there to implement the deal it signs.

“That’s why the IMF would also need an assurance from the opposition forces, particularly the PTI, that they will respect the deal too if they replace the present government,” one of the sources said.

“Although the future government is most likely to fulfil the pledges made by the present government, the opposition may not want to make things easier for the government by offering a pledge at this stage,” the source added. “In such a situation, the IMF usually approaches the opposition, and may contact Imran Khan too.”

The sources say that while the present government wants Imran Khan to offer such an assurance, it may not want to seek it publicly as this may further strengthen the opposition. This was what the finance minister was implying when he blamed Imran for the delay.

“The IMF cannot send papers to the board for closing the deal until these two things — financial and political assurances — are cleared,” said a third source.

“Yes, it is right that the IMF and Pakistan are close to finalising the deal, but it is difficult to say when they will sign it,” the source added.

Separately, the United States will help Pakistan develop sustainable sources of energy, the US State Department said on Tuesday as a senior American envoy reached Islamabad for energy talks.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey R. Pyatt will also visit Lahore during his two-day (March 14-15) stay in Pakistan. He will lead the US delegation for the US-Pakistan Energy Security Dialogue.

Source: Dawn

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Army chief wants synergy among institutions

March 15, 2023

PESHAWAR: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir on Tuesday called for harmony and synergy among state institutions.

According to a statement released by the military’s media wing, ISPR, the army chief visited forward posts at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the South Waziristan district and interacted with troops.

Gen Munir appreciated counter-terrorism efforts and the provision of an enabling environment for socio-economic development, vital for enduring stability and peace.

He also highlighted the importance of synergy between various state institutions and particularly the importance of people in the fight against terrorism, the statement added.

ISPR said Gen Munir laid a floral wreath at the Yadgar-i-Shuhada in Wana and visited formation headquarters, where he was briefed about operational, training and security matters of the formation and progress on various development projects in the merged districts.

Source: Dawn

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South Asia


Islamic Emirate Introduces Abdul Rahman Feda New Consul to UAE

March 15, 2023

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) introduced Abdul Rahman Feda as the General Consul of Afghanistan in the UAE.

Feda’s appointment was announced in a letter issued by the Foreign Ministry.

In the letter, MoFA announced that the official term of former General Consul Mansour Ahmad Azizi had ended.

A second letter said the former chief of protocol of MoFA, Abdul Rahman Feda, had been appointed as the new General Consul.

“The diplomatic device of the Islamic Emirate is active all around the world,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

Political analysts said that the appointment of the new consulate is aimed at solving the practical problems of the people.

“The acceptance of the Islamic Emirate’s diplomats, instead of the former diplomats, by the neighboring countries, is more about the economic needs of the neighboring countries and political goals, as is the case with Iran and Pakistan,” said Barna Salehi, political analyst.

To solve urgent needs, the countries are recognizing it officially and unofficially (Islamic Emirate). In such conditions, there are some limited steps to solve the needs of the people,” said Mehdi Munadi, former diplomat.

Dubai is one of the key business cities of the UAE.

The Afghan Business Council said that nearly 80 percent of Afghan traders abroad are living in the UAE and that they have investments in more than 50 countries.

“This is a good step, hat the new consuls come to Afghanistan’s consulates in Dubai, because we have a lot of problems. There are 300,000 Afghans living here. The majority of our traders who live in the UAE are based in Dubai. They have business from here going all over the world including Afghanistan,” said Haji Obaidullah Sader Khail, head of the Afghan Business Council.

Source: Tolo News

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Afghanistan most impacted by terrorism: Global Terrorism Index report

Mar 15, 2023

KABUL (AFGHANISTAN): Afghanistan remains the country most impacted by terrorism for the fourth consecutive year, despite attacks and deaths falling by 75 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively, Global Terrorism Index (GTI) reported on Tuesday, according to Afghanistan-based Khaama Press.

The GTI report, however, states that the Index does not include acts of state repression and violence by state actors. As such, acts committed by the Taliban are no longer included in the report's scope since they took control of the country.

As per the FTI, Afghanistan recorded 633 fatalities in 2022, despite terrorism-related deaths declining by 866 in 2022, a 58 per cent improvement over 2021.

"Afghanistan's drop can largely be attributed to the Taliban taking control of the country after the fall of Kabul in August 2021. As the Taliban are now the state actor in much of Afghanistan, their attacks fall outside the scope of the GTI's definition of terrorism," the report said.

GTI reported that the Islamic State-Khorasan (Daesh) has emerged as "the most active terrorist group" in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country and is responsible for the deaths of 422 people in 2022, accounting for almost 67 per cent of the total terrorism-related deaths in the country for the year, Khaama Press reported.

Recently, at least one person was killed and eight others injured in a bomb blast in a Shiite cultural centre in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province on Saturday, VOA News reported.

Speaking to VOA, a local police spokesman, Mohammad Asif Waziri said that the blast had targeted a ceremony honouring the Afghan media in the provincial capital, Mazar-i-Sharif. Waziri said that five journalists and three children were among those injured. Provincial officials and religious clerics were among the guests at the event.

Taliban-led interior ministry spokesperson Abdul Nafi Takor said a planted explosive device caused the blast. TOLO News reported that one of its journalists was among the victims. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, as per the news report.

Source: Times Of India

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UNHCR Launches New Appeal to Support Afghan Refugees

By Fidel Rahmati

March 15, 2023

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and humanitarian partners have launched a response plan to support 7.9 million refugees, including 5.2 million Afghans and 2.7 million of their local hosts across the region, according to a statement on Tuesday.

The UN refugee agency stated that the new appeal for the Afghan situation in 2023 seeks $613 million to support Afghan sheltering in five neighbouring countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Around 8.2 million Afghan refugees live in the neighbouring countries, including over 2 million registered refugees. Many have been in the region for decades, mainly in the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan. Meanwhile, more than 1.6 million have sought refugees in the region since 2021.

According to the document, Afghanistan is severely suffering from a dire humanitarian crisis; an estimated 28.3 million people comprise two-thirds of the country’s population, including women and girls needing urgent humanitarian aid.

Since the last August, the humanitarian situation has further deteriorated due to the new decree introduced by the Taliban authorities, in which women are banned from education and working with NOGs.

Since most civil society organizations are women-led, the ban on working women in international organizations further disrupts the aid process.

The ban on female staff working with the international community has been criticized by most international organizations, including the UN and other regional countries, and urged the de facto authorities to reverse their policies regarding women and girls’ fundamental rights.

Source: Khaama Press

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Uzbek Forces to Use Drones While Patrolling Afghanistan Border Areas

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 14, 2023

The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited one of the platoons of security guards in the ‘Surkhandarya region’, and emphasized using drones while patrolling Afghanistan border areas.

During the visit of the President of Uzbekistan, Shaukat Mirziyoyev, to Surkhandarya, the border region with Afghanistan, the country’s security forces emphasized the importance of using drones to monitor the border areas.

The Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Monday visited a military base of Uzbekistan security guards in Termez, near the Afghanistan border, Uzbekistan Daily reported. During the visit, President Mirziyoyev also evaluated the capabilities of Uzbek forces to use drones while patrolling the border areas between the two countries.

Following the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, the neighbors of Afghanistan have taken extra security measures in the border areas, and are concerned about the trafficking of weapons and infiltration of religious extremists to their countries, respectively.

The idea of using drones to monitor the border areas with Afghanistan by Uzbek security forces is due to the security threats they face from fundamentalists and their entry to Uzbekistan. The news daily also highlighted the country’s combat capabilities.

It is noted that along with increasing the combat readiness of the troops, great attention is being paid to the social protection of servicemen and their family members. Comfortable apartments were also built near this platoon.

“It is up to you to calmly fulfill the duties of the defenders of our country and raise children. You are showing great courage by helping your spouse. You are also defenders of the Motherland,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said to the wives of the soldiers

Source: Khaama Press

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IEA Delegation Discusses Afghan Refugees’ Problems With Iranian Officials

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 14, 2023

A delegation from the Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation of Afghanistan on Monday met with Iranian officials in Tehran and discussed the problems of Afghan refugees accordingly.

According to the ministry’s announcement, the delegation headed by Mawlavi Mohammad Jan Khadarkhil will address the problems of Afghan refugees with Iranian officials and look for possible solutions.

Furthermore, the delegation will also visit Afghan Embassy in Tehran, and assess the administrative affairs unit of the Afghan Embassy in Tehran, the ministry Tweeted.

The visit comes following the handover of the Afghan Embassy to the Taliban diplomats in Tehran in the recent past, and the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs replaced some former employees of the Afghan Embassy with their representatives.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs points out that shuffling diplomatic staff members of a mission is a usual administrative affair and the legitimate right of every country,” read a statement.

The visit was aimed at addressing the many issues Afghan refugees are currently plagued with in different cities of Iran. Over the past couple of months, Iranian officials have incarcerated and forcefully deported hundreds of Afghan migrants who failed to provide legal stay permits.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials have handed over dozens of Afghan detainees to the Taliban authorities during the past week, and more will be transferred in the coming days, according to local sources.

Source: Khaama Press

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Kaduna group faults campaign against Muslim-Muslim ticket

15 March 2023

A Kaduna State group under the auspices of Amalgamation of Deregistered Political Parties in Nigeria (ADPPN) has blamed opposition political parties in the state for the coinage of Muslim-Muslim ticket, saying the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Uba Sani, picked Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s deputy, Hadiza Balarabe, as his running mate to give women a sense of belonging.

The group, however, explained that Balarabe is a Muslim, coincidentally, and opposition parties have capitalised on it to demarket Sani.

Addressing a press briefing, yesterday, at the Secretariat of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna State Council, the Chairman of the group, Mohammed Ahmed, in company of the Secretary, Matoh Yakubu, said the appointment of a woman as a running mate was to give voice to women in the state, who had been kept at the background of politics for too long.

The group further noted that the combination of Sani and Balarabe is to achieve gender balance in the state’s political space, adding that the balance is a strategy that is giving the opposition nightmare.

Ahmed said: “We, the forum of ADPPN, where 60 party chairmen and their excos, which were deregistered after the 2019 general elections, are here today to raise critical salient issues relating to the forthcoming governorship elections in Kaduna in relation to the APC governorship candidate, Sani.

“However, we are disturbed by negative signals coming from some political parties, which have decided to create a political gimmick they called “Muslim-Muslim” ticket. This phrase is a coinage of the opposition in the state. The APC only gave voice to our women, who have been kept in the background for long; and for the last four years, the performance of Kaduna women in governance is clear for everyone to see.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders from Mumuye Community have reached out to their kinsmen and women in Gashaka, Yorro and Bali councils of Taraba State to ramp up support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Kefas Agbu, ahead Saturday’s governorship and state Assembly elections.

The stakeholders, who include the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. David Kassa, and his counterpart from Ministry of Rural Development, Kallamu Alhamdu, among others, said it has become necessary for them to mobilise the Mumuye ethnic group for the candidate, following his rich blueprint.

Citing Agbu’s military background, they are optimistic that, if elected governor, numerous vices in the state will be a thing of the past.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Tunisia court sentences two to death over deadly blast near US embassy

March 14, 2023

TUNIS: A Tunisian court has condemned to death two nationals of the North African country for a 2020 suicide attack that killed a policeman near the United States embassy, local media said Tuesday.

The penalty would amount to life in prison, the reports said, as Tunisia has had a moratorium on executions for more than 30 years.

The accused were not identified.

Two suicide bombers riding a scooter died in the blast on March 6, 2020 when they detonated their explosives at a police van near the heavily fortified embassy in a Tunis suburb.

Aside from the policeman killed, four other officers and a civilian were wounded.

It was among a string of deadly jihadist attacks that killed dozens of security personnel, civilians and foreign tourists in the country after its 2011 revolution.

Authorities in more recent years say they have made significant progress in the struggle against jihadists.

Five people were arrested for the attack near the embassy.

A specialist anti-terrorism court condemned two of the accused to death and a third to life in prison, the Tunisian media reports said. They added that the other two accused received prison terms of three and four years.

Source: Arab News

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Suicide car bomb kills 2 in Somalia: police

Mohammed Dhaysane



At least two security personnel were killed and several others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car in southern Somalia on Tuesday, a security official said.

Mohamed Ali Adan, a police officer, told Anadolu over the phone that the explosion targeted a guest house in the town of Bardhere that housed regional administration officials and senior military officials.

Garane Abdi, a local resident, told Anadolu that there were mortar attacks before the explosion.

“The explosion was huge. I never witnessed such an explosion in my life”, he said.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Since military operations against al-Shabaab have intensified, the terrorist group has increased its attacks. In October of last year, two car bombs targeted the Education Ministry, killing at least 121 people and injuring more than 300 others in the deadliest bombing in Somalia in years.

The Somali National Army has been fighting al-Shabaab terrorists since President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared an "all-out war" on them after his reelection for a second term last May.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS terror groups being the main threats.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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NGO Supportifly, Plans to Sponsor Iftar for Fasting Muslims

By Waliat Musa

15 March 2023

A non-governmental organisation, SupportiFly, a subsidiary of Fly Multi-Company Ltd., has announced plan to feed indigent Muslims during Ramadan.

Executive Director of the not-for-profit organisation, Bolarinwa Haishah, said that a cash gift of N5,000 each would be given to two indigent Muslims daily throughout the fasting period.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Islamic group tackles SERAP over NBC’s warning to media organisations on election

March 14, 2023

By Fadehan Oyeyemi

An Islamic group, Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, MMWG, has cautioned the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project, SERAP and some other non-governmental organisations, NGOs to stop seeking cheap publicity by meddling wrongly in the affairs that do not concern them.

Specifically, the group was reacting to the ultimatum given by SERAP to the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC over the warning it gave to media organisations on the need for them to truly be professional in their media practice, especially in the coverage of the ongoing 2023 general elections.

MMWG, in a statement issued on Tuesday by its National Coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, condemned SERAP for its “attempt to intimidate the NBC for playing its statutory role as a regulatory body as contained in the Act that set it up.”

The group described SERAP as “a meddlesome interloper interfering in the affairs that does not concern it; warning that attempts of some ill-motivated NGOs to turn themselves to the opposition of Federal Government agencies and functionaries is highly irresponsible and condemnable.”

“Media organisations both public and private practising in Nigeria which participated in the meeting under reference with NBC Chief Executive, Malam Bala Ilela had pledged their loyalty to this nation and assured NBC that they would not breach the code of ethical broadcasting and publishing.

“What then is the business of SERAP that warrants issuing a 48-hour ultimatum to NBC to withdraw its warning?

“We in the Muslim Media Watch Group and all patriotic Nigerians irrespective of religious or ethnic background endorsed what NBC did.

“Instead of invoking the powers conferred on it by imposing fines on erring media organisations, NBC invited them to what could be termed a ‘family meeting’ where executives from various organisations were admonished on the need to promote peace, stability and unity of the country by refraining to air or publish volatile and reckless outbursts that might cause chaos shortly before, during and after elections,” it stressed.

MMWG, therefore, maintained: “It is unpatriotic and condemnable in this transitional period for SERAP to dabble irrationally in matters that does not concern it; for SERAP to have referred to that laudable meeting as NBC threat and calling on NBC to withdraw the threat, actually depict the calibre of people in that NGO called SERAP.”

It further described the SERAP outbursts on NBC as “highly baseless and nonsensical”, saying that “instead of toeing the line of other responsible CSOs and NGOs, SERAP has turned itself to nuisance as it found nothing good in whatever the federal government agencies and top functionaries are doing.”

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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