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RSS Plans To Make Further Inroad Into The Minority Communities Like Sikhs, Christians Besides Muslims

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 October 2022

National executive meeting of the RSS under way at Gauhania in Prayagraj. (HT photo)


• Gay Afghan Student ‘Murdered By Taliban’ As Anti-LGBTQ+ Violence Rises: Human Rights Groups

• Saudi Arabia Hands 72-Year-Old American Citizen To 16 Years In Prison Over Criticizing The Ultra-Conservative Regime

• OIC Hails Australia's Move To De-Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

• French Cement Maker, Lafarge, Admits It Made Payments To Islamic State In Syria To Continue Operations



• 'Bilkis Case Remission In Line With Supreme Court Directions, Shouldn't Be Politicised': Government

• Quran From Mosque Found Lying Near Gate, 1 Booked For Attempted Desecration

• BJP will serve Pasmanda Muslims By Becoming Their Watchman: UP Dy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya

• Dissidents in Muslim League form Hyder Ali Thangal Foundation

• 4th Time In 4 Months: China Blocks India's Effort To Sanction Pakistan-Based Terrorist At UN

• UN Secretary General Guterres reaches Mumbai on 3-day India visit; to pay tributes to 26/11 terror attacks victims

• Gujarat govt's reply in Bilkis case bulky, misses factual statements: SC

• Gangsters-terrorist nexus case: NIA arrests two including an advocate in Delhi, raids 52 across India's 4 states, one UT

• This Stain OnModi Govt's Legacy Will Never Wash Off: Congress Over Release Of Bilkis Case Convicts


South Asia

• Taliban Accused of Executing 27 ‘Rebel’ Prisoners

• Taliban Turns Blind Eye To Opium Production, Despite Official Ban

• Report: Taliban killed captives in restive Afghan province

• Islamic Emirate’s Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid Urges Turkey To Recognize Govt And Engage In "Deep" Relations


Arab World

• Pope Francis And Al Azhar Grand Imam To Take Part In November 3-4 Event In Bahrain

• Hundreds Linked To Islamic State Moved From Syria To Notorious Camp In Iraq

• Turkish troops deploy in Syrian town to halt inter-faction fighting

• Nearly 60 killed in 10 days of inter-faction fighting in northern Syria: Monitor

• Hamas in first Syria visit in decade as relations thaw

• US envoy praises Qatar labour law reforms but says ‘lot of work left to do’

• UAE President orders $100 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine



• Israel ‘persecuting’ Palestinian people: UN report

• President Rayeesi: Iran Not to Stand Idle Vis-a-Vis EU's Hostile Acts

• Iran's Military Employs Home-grown Missile Fath 360 During Wargames

• Iran Accuses EU of Colonial Mentality over Garden-Jungle Comment

• Human Rights Chief Blasts EU for Imposing New Sanctions on Iran

• Students protest at Iranian university as official visits: Media

• Iran agrees to ship missiles, more drones to Russia: Report

• Turkey test fires secretly developed ballistic missile: Report

• Houthi rebels reject offers to extend truce: Yemeni gov’t



• Christchurch Mosque And Auckland Mall Terror Attacks Spur Stronger Counter-Terrorism Laws

• Poland keeps ban on Israeli school groups with armed guards

• Bosnia and Herzegovina commemorates 19th death anniversary of 'Wise King'

• Germany New Admission Programme to Admit 1,000 Afghan Refugees Per Month



• Pakistan Army Brass Reposes Full Confidence In Nuclear Command, Control

• Abbottabad Police Arrest 44 More Tehreek-I-Labbaik Pakistan Workers

• Opposition accuses ECP of conspiring with ruling parties

• Pakistan PM asks officials to ‘immediately remove’ obstacles to Saudi Development Fund projects

• Ready to buy fuel from Russia on 'India rate', says Pakistan finance minister during US visit

• Ashrafi for underdeveloped countries support to meet climate change challenges

• Imran Khan’s jibe on ‘army chief’s temper’


Southeast Asia

• 5 Groups Take Cops, AG To Court Over Failure To Prosecute Muslim Preacher For Allegedly Making Inflammatory Remarks Against Other Religions

• Explore Islamic influences at Beijing Niujie mosque

• Malaysia busts Mossad team, secures release of kidnapped Palestinian activist

• M’sia has much to offer in halal economy, other areas in Muslim world: Mustapa


North America

• Muslim Olympic Medallist Sued For Defamation For Highlighting Story Of Teacher Pulling Girl’s Hijab

• Jihad in Latin America: Illicit activities in the region fund Hezbollah

• US walks back Biden’s quip, terms TTP ‘threat’

• State Department confirms detention of US national in Saudi Arabia

• US: Iran sent Ethiopia military drones in 2021 in violation of UN resolution

• US expresses ‘confidence’ in Pakistan to keep nuclear weapons secure



• Sudan Backs OPEC+ Decision To Cut Oil Production

• Ethiopia says 3 strategic towns captured in Tigray

• Somalia facing child malnutrition deaths 'on a scale not seen in half a century': UN

• Bomb kills two peacekeepers in Mali, UN says

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



RSS Plans To Make Further Inroad Into The Minority Communities Like Sikhs, Christians Besides Muslims

Oct 18, 2022

By K Sandeep Kumar

National executive meeting of the RSS under way at Gauhania in Prayagraj. (HT photo)


Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is planning to make further inroad into the minority communities of the country, including the Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, as part of its outreach initiatives.

“The organisation has decided to deploy a team of four to five senior and experienced functionaries in all its 45 “prants” (regions) besides one at all 11 “kshetras” (zones) and begin tapping specially those members of these communities who have strong nationalist outlook,” said a senior RSS functionary aware of the planned move.

This was discussed on the third day of the ongoing Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak, a four-day national executive meeting of the RSS, under way on Vatsalya Institute campus at Gauhania in Prayagraj.

RSS chief (Sarsanghchalak) Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary (Sarkaryavah) Dattatreya Hosabale along with other top brass of the Sangh besides office bearers of all 45 “prants” (regions) of the organisation are attending the meet.

“The organisation leaders stressed on the need for sensitising the RSS volunteers regarding the Muslim and the Christian communities while emphasising the need to be patient and take due care as the issue is sensitive in nature. The top leaders made plain that instead of curiosity about the communities, the workers needed to focus on establishing contact and beginning a dialogue with community members and leaders. But this task should be undertaken by only the designated team,” a senior RSS leader said.

The RSS has decided that where numbers of Muslims and Christians are more, work on subjects of language, culture and health would be undertaken with the help of non-government organisations (NGOs).

The RSS leaders have decided that to provide a fillip to organisation’s influence among these communities, contacts with educated Muslims, who are not under the influence of radical elements, would be increased and efforts would be made to keep in regular touch with the people of both Muslim and Christian communities who are active in the religious, social and academic spheres.

Steps like extending support to those members of these communities who speak out or write in favour of nationalism and contacting those who are already in such roles have also been stressed upon during the deliberations.

Gradually increasing mutual interaction on the basis of caste, lineage, traditions, ancestors, fraternity but only after first studying and documenting these aspects before moving forward was also highlighted.

For increasing the reach among Sikh community members, contacting religious and community leaders to visiting Gurudwaras located in areas where RSS “shakhas” are being held have been recommended. Inviting Sikh community and religious leaders to social harmony events of the RSS and increasing role of Sikhs in organisation’s various activities and affiliated institutions too have been suggested.

RSS leaders have also urged contacting Sikh saints, hosting seminars and symposium highlighting the role of Sikhs in the country’s freedom struggle and involving women of the Sikh community. The RSS would now also include celebrating Sikh festivals in its annual work plan so as to ensure that the contact with the members of the Sikh community is ensured round the year.

These plans come close on the heels of the RSS chief visiting a mosque and meeting the head of the All-India Imam Organisation in New Delhi on September 23 and even meeting other Muslim community leaders in run-up to that meeting as part of Sangh’s outreach to minority communities to promote religious harmony.

Reaching out to deprived, non-elite among Muslims and other minorities on the issues of development and welfare programmes of the Modi government was one of the things flagged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national executive of the BJP held in Hyderabad in July this year.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Gay Afghan Student ‘Murdered By Taliban’ As Anti-LGBTQ+ Violence Rises: Human Rights Groups

Deepa Parent

18 Oct 2022

A Taliban patrol in Kabul. Hamed Sabouri’s family and partner says he was detained at a checkpoint in the city in August, tortured for three days and then shot. Photograph: EPA


The abduction, torture and murder of a gay medical student, who was stopped at a traffic checkpoint by Taliban gunmen, is the latest victim of a string of violence against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ+ community, human rights groups warn.

Hamed Sabouri’s family and partner says he was detained at a checkpoint in Kabul in August and tortured for three days before being shot. Video of his execution was then sent to his family, who have now left Afghanistan for their own safety.

“The Taliban murdered Hamed and sent the video to his family and me,” said Bahar, Sabouri’s partner. “Hamed’s family have fled and I have been in hiding. We were like any other couple around the world in love but the Taliban treat us like criminals. They’ve killed the love of my life and I don’t know how I’ll live without him.

“I have been receiving threats from the Taliban again and I am now on the run. I have many friends from the LGBTQ+ community here in Afghanistan who have also keen kidnapped and tortured. I was arrested by the Taliban in August 2021 and again in May and June this year and was raped, beaten and tortured with electric shocks.”

LGBTQ+ rights organisations in Afghanistan say the mounting violence led many in the LGBTQ+ community to attempt to leave the country and forced thousands of others into hiding.

“The biggest fear that every LGBTQ+ person in Afghanistan has right now is that they will become the next Hamed Sabouri,” said Nemat Sadat, founder of LGBTQ+ rights group Roshaniya.

“This has been their predicament ever since the Taliban returned to power. The news of Hamed’s brutal death continues to put our community on edge but we won’t let Hamed’s life go in vain. We will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ Afghans to escape execution and live a long, and happy life in a free country.”

In an email Haseeb Sabouri, Hamed’s brother, confirmed that the family sold their two homes in Afghanistan and travelled to Turkey. “We fled from Afghanistan due to threats and murder of Hamed,” he said. “We fled because the Taliban came to our home every day to harass and threaten us.”

The main image on this article was replaced on 18 October 2022 pending a review of the photograph originally used.


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Saudi Arabia Hands 72-Year-Old American Citizen To 16 Years In Prison Over Criticizing The Ultra-Conservative Regime

18 October 2022

The flag of Saudi Arabia flies above the Saudi Arabia embassy near the Watergate Complex in Washington, US, February 26, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)


The Saudi government has sentenced a 72-year-old American citizen to 16 years in prison over his tweets criticizing the ultra-conservative regime in Riyadh, with the son of the elderly critic saying his father has been “tortured” in jail.

In a report published late on Monday, the Washington Post said Saudi Arabia in early October handed a 16-year prison sentence to Saudi-American Saad Ibrahim Almadi over 14 anti-Riyadh tweets he had posted on his account while inside the US.

Almadi was charged with "harboring a terrorist ideology, trying to destabilize the Kingdom, as well as supporting and funding terrorism," the Post reported, adding that he was also handed a 16-year travel ban.

The 72-year-old project manager from Florida was detained at Riyadh airport last year when he traveled to Saudi Arabia to visit his family.

A spokesperson for the US State Department had confirmed Almadi's detention in Saudi Arabia at the time but declined to identify the charge. The spokesperson, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Washington had been following Almadi's case closely since his arrest.

"Since that happened, we have consistently and intensively raised our concerns regarding this case at senior levels several times in both Washington and Riyadh and will continue to do so. The Saudi government understands the priority we attach to resolving this matter," the spokesperson said.

Ibrahim Almadi, the son of the American citizen, told the Washington Post that the US State Department had been both "neglectful and negligent" over the case.

Ibrahim said no one from the US embassy in Saudi Arabia had visited his father until six months after his arrest in November last year and that no US officials had attended his sentencing despite having notified them of the hearing.

Ibrahim told the US daily that the State Department had told him not to speak publicly about his father's case, but that he no longer believed that staying quiet would secure his father’s freedom.

During a meeting between embassy officials and his father in May, my father declined to ask Washington to intervene as Saudi jailers threaten to torture prisoners who involve foreign governments in their cases, Ibrahim added.

In a second meeting in August, Ibrahim said his father called for the State Department’s assistance and was consequently tortured.

“Almadi has been tortured in prison, forced to live in squalor and confined with actual terrorists — all while his family was threatened by the Saudi government that they would lose everything if they didn’t keep quiet,” the Post quoted Ibrahim as saying.

Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has ramped up arrests of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedoms of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Source: Press TV

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OIC hails Australia's move to de-recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Ahmed Asmar  


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Tuesday welcomed a decision by the Australian government to end its recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a statement, the Jeddah-based grouping hailed Australia's "commitment to the two-state solution," adding that the Australian move "aligns with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions."

The pan-Islamic organization called on all states that recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital "to reverse their stances against international legitimacy."

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Tuesday that his country had reversed its recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In 2018, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government said it would recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but would not move its embassy from Tel Aviv until a peace settlement is reached.

The Australian move won plaudits from the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping East Jerusalem, now occupied by Israel, might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Source: Anadolu Agency
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French Cement Maker, Lafarge, Admits It Made Payments To Islamic State In Syria To Continue Operations

18 October 2022

A general view shows a facility of French industrial cement supplier Lafarge in New York. | Ed Jones/AFP


French cement maker Lafarge on Tuesday pleaded guilty before a United States court to a charge that it made payments to terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, to continue operations in Syria after civil war broke out in 2011, reported Reuters.

The company has been asked to pay a penalty of $778 million (Rs 640 crore).

This is the first time that a company has pleaded guilty in the United States to charges of providing material support to a terrorist organisation.

The conflict in Syria began after the country’s government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, used deadly force against peaceful pro-democracy protestors in March 2011.

The violence soon escalated and the country descended into civil war. Hundreds of rebel groups sprung up and terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda became involved.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom-based monitoring group, the clashes have killed at least 4,94,438 persons by June 2021 and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

On Tuesday, US prosecutors said that Lafarge paid approximately $5.92 million (Rs 4.8 crore) between 2013 and 2014 to the Islamic State and other terror groups to allow employees, customers and suppliers to pass through checkpoints in Syria, reported Reuters.

In return, the company earned $70 million (Rs 57.65 crore) in sales revenue from its plant in northern Syria before it was evacuated in 2014.

“Lafarge made a deal with the devil,” Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said. “This conduct by a Western corporation was appalling and has no precedent or justification.”

Lafarge said that it accepts responsibility for the actions of the individual executives involved, the Associated Press reported.

“We deeply regret that this conduct occurred and have worked with the US Department of Justice to resolve this matter,” the company said in a statement.

Source: Scroll

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'Bilkis Case Remission In Line With Supreme Court Directions, Shouldn't Be Politicised': Government

Oct 19, 2022

NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday said that the remission granted to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case should not be politicised as the decision was taken as per the law and in line with the Supreme Court's directions.

"A formal consent of the central government was necessary since the offence was investigated by the CBI. If the rules permit the accused to get remission, the central government cannot prevent the grant of remission," a senior government functionary said.

He said the remission was to be decided based on the punishment awarded by the court, the number of years imprisonment the convicts have undergone and applicable rules.

"The remission granted, therefore, cannot be politicised as it was done after the direction of the Supreme Court and only after finding that the rules entitle the convicts to get the remission," the official said.

Sources said the rules governing remission are applicable to all the accused persons. "The accused in this case were found to be eligible for remission and, therefore, appropriate orders were required to be passed by the Gujarat government, " an official source said.

Source: Times Of India

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Quran From Mosque Found Lying Near Gate, 1 Booked For Attempted Desecration

October 19, 2022

The Sohana police have booked a man for allegedly attempting to desecrate the Quran in a mosque in Saneta village. The accused, identified as Sohan Singh, has not been arrested yet.

The complainant, Ahalkar, who is a resident of the village, told the police that visited the mosque Monday at around 5 am and found the Quran lying near the entry gate.

“I called other people at the mosque and we placed the holy Quran at the designated place and then informed the other villagers and also informed the police,” Ahalkar said. He also told the police that he found a pair of jeans inside the mosque that he had seen a man known to him wearing.

Source: IndianExpress

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BJP will serve Pasmanda Muslims By Becoming Their Watchman: UP Dy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya

19 OCT 2022

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on Tuesday accused the rivals of the BJP of keeping the Muslims in the state backward and promised that his party will "serve" the Pasmanda Muslims by becoming their watchman.

At a program organized by the BJP's minority wing to facilitate the members of the Pasmanda community, he said,

"You strengthened the Samajwadi Party, sometimes the BSP, and sometimes the Congress by voting for them. They reached high levels of politics with your cooperation. You should think about what these parties did for you."

"These parties spread poison to keep Muslims away from the BJP. Other parties deliberately left the Pasmanda community behind. When it comes to voting, someone will take your votes by making hateful statements and then leave you to your plight. But we (BJP) will truly serve you by becoming your watchman."

Maurya told the member of the Pasmanda Muslim community, "You have trusted them, just trust the BJP for once. The mainstream of the country's politics is the BJP only.  Those who have only used Pasmanda Muslims till now should be taught a lesson."

In the coming days, programs will be held in every city area for Pasmanda Muslims, he said.

Minority welfare minister Danish Azad Ansari said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have worked for the social and educational upliftment of Muslims and will continue to do so.

Pasmandas are backward classes of Muslims and constitute 85 percent of the total population in Uttar Pradesh.

41 castes of Muslims in this community include Qureshi, Ansari, Salmani, Shah, Mansoori, and Siddiqui.


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Dissidents in Muslim League form Hyder Ali Thangal Foundation

19th October 2022

KOZHIKODE: Dissidents in the IUML have come together under the banner of Hyder Ali Thangal Foundation under the leadership of Thangal’s son and Muslim Youth League national vice-president Panakkad Syed Mueen Ali Shihab Thangal. K S Hamza, former state secretary of the IUML, who has been kept under suspension for violating party discipline, has been elected as the convener of the Foundation while Mueen Ali is the chairman.

Though Mueen Ali Thangal and Hamza claimed that there is no political significance for the development and said it is only a coming together of those who love Hyder Ali Thangal, the move is clearly aimed at IUML national general secretary P K Kunhalikutty.

Mueen Ali Thangal has openly raised voice against Kunhalikutty over the issues faced by the party organ Chandrika daily. At a press conference in Kozhikode in August last year, he stated that Kunhalikutty cannot absolve himself of the responsibility for leading the daily to a crisis. Unruly scenes had taken place during the conference when Kunhalikutty’s supporter Rafi Puthiyakadavu hurled abuses at Thangal. The issue was settled after the party took action against Rafi.

Hamza has been raising allegations against Kunhalikutty for some time now. He was very vocal at the party working committee meeting held and was suspended for ‘leaking’ the details of the internal debates in the party. Former MSF leaders Latheef Thurayur and P P Shyjak, who were ousted from the organisation in the aftermath of the issues related to the Haritha, MSF women’s wing, also participated.


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4th time in 4 months: China blocks India's effort to sanction Pakistan-based terrorist at UN

Oct 19, 2022

NEW DELHI: China has once again blocked a proposal by India at the United Nations to sanction a terrorist operating from Pakistan.

Beijing thwarted efforts to designate Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Shahid Mahmood as a global terrorist.

India and US had jointly moved the proposal to blacklist Mahmood under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee regime.

The US Treasury Department designated Mahmood a global terrorist in December 2016.

This is the fourth time in as many months that Beijing has foiled India's effort seeking blacklisting of a Pakistan-based terrorist.

In September, it blocked the joint India-US proposal for banning LeT commander Sajid Mir, a most wanted terrorist and handler of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Mir has a bounty of $5m placed on his head by the US for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

In August, China put a hold on a proposal by the US and India at the United Nations to blacklist Abdul Rauf Azhar, the brother of Jaish-e Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and a senior leader of the Pakistan-based terror organisation.

In June this year, China put a hold, at the last moment, on a joint proposal by India and the US to list Pakistan-based terrorist Abdul Rehman Makki under the 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

Source: Times Of India

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UN Secretary General Guterres reaches Mumbai on 3-day India visit; to pay tributes to 26/11 terror attacks victims

Oct 19, 2022

MUMBAI: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will pay tributes to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday on the first day of his three-day visit to India.

Guterres landed in Mumbai on Wednesday shortly after midnight via a commercial flight from London. He was greeted by senior Maharashtra government officials on arrival.

He later drove to the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in south Mumbai, where he will pay tributes to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks.

The Taj Mahal Palace hotel was one of the targets of the horrific 26/11 terror attacks in 2008.

Guterres will deliver a public address at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai on the subject -- "India @75: UN-India Partnership: Strengthening South-South Cooperation" later in the day, before flying to Gujarat.

It is his first visit to India since his second term in office commenced in January. He had earlier visited the country in October 2018 during his first term at the top office.

The UN secretary general will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event relating to the Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) in Gujarat's Kevadiya on October 20.

His visit to the country comes more than a week before the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee holds its two-day deliberations in India.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar would hold bilateral discussions with Guterres on issues of global concern, steps to deepen India's engagement with the UN, including through the country's upcoming presidency of the G20.

In Kevadiya, Guterres is expected to pay floral tributes at the Statue of Unity, the MEA said, adding that he will also visit the country's first solar-powered village in Modhera (Gujarat) and other development projects in the area.

Source: Times Of India

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Gujarat govt's reply in Bilkis case bulky, misses factual statements: SC

Oct 19, 2022

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday remarked the Gujarat government's reply to pleas challenging the remission granted to 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case was very bulky wherein a series of judgments had been quoted but factual statements were missing.The court granted time to the petitioners to file their response to the Gujarat government's affidavit and said it would hear on November 29 the pleas challenging the remission of sentence and release of convicts in the 2002 case also involving the murder of seven members of her family during the Gujarat riots.

"I have not come across a counter affidavit where a series of judgments are quoted. Factual statement should have been made. A very bulky counter. Where is the factual statement...?" a bench headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi observed. The bench, also comprising Justice C T Ravikumar, directed that the reply filed by the Gujarat government be made available to all parties.

CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali and two other women have filed the PIL against the remission of sentence of the convicts and their release. At the outset, advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that he needed time to file the response.

Justice Rastogi observed that even before he could go through the Gujarat governmen''s reply, it was visible in the newspapers.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said: "The judgments were mentioned for easy reference, it could have been avoided". The SG submitted strangers and third parties cannot raise the challenge to the remission of sentence and release of the convicts.

The Gujarat government had on Monday defended in the apex court its decision to release the convicts in accordance with the 1992 remission policy since they had completed more than 14 years in prison and their conduct was found to be good.

It also clarified the convicts were not granted remission in consonance with the circular for grant of remission to prisoners as part of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations. The state home department said all the convicts had completed more than 14 years in prison under life imprisonment.

Source: Times Of India

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Gangsters-terrorist nexus case: NIA arrests two including an advocate in Delhi, raids 52 across India's 4 states, one UT

Oct 18, 2022

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday arrested an advocate here and another a gangster from Haryana following a mega search operation conducted during the day at 52 locations across north India's four states and Union Territory of Delhi.

The arrested advocate has been identified as Asif Khan, a resident of Gautam Vihar in the Usmanpur area of North East Delhi. The agency sleuths arrested him after they recovered four weapons and a few pistols (in semi-knocked down condition), along with ammunition, from his house during searches conducted at his residence.

During the interrogation, the NIA said it was revealed that Asif was in touch with jailed gangsters.

"Further examination revealed that Asif was in touch with gangsters, both inside and outside the Jail and he was actively assisting gangsters and criminals in carrying out various types of criminal and illegal activities," the agency said.

The NIA also arrested one Rajesh alias Raju Mota who hails from Basaudi, Sonepat (Haryana).

Mota, according to the NIA, has multiple criminal cases registered against him.

"Raju Mota is running an illegal liquor mafia network in Sonepat and surrounding areas, along with his associates. He is an accomplice of Sandeep alias Kala Jathedi, who is a dreaded gangster of Haryana," the NIA said in a statement.

"Raju Mota has also invested a huge amount of money in the liquor business which he has earned through illegitimate means," it added

Earlier today, in a second such mega operation conducted within a span of 36 days to dismantle and disrupt the emerging nexus between terrorists, gangsters and drug smugglers based in India and abroad, the NIA carried out searches at 52 locations in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi as well as the National Capital Region (NCR).

The locations raided by the NIA included Abohar, Bhatinda, Muktsar Sahab, Moga, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Mohali districts of Punjab; East Gurugram, Bhiwani, Yamuna Nagar, Sonepat, Mahendragarh, Manesar, Rewari, Rohtak and Jhajjar districts of Haryana; Churu, Bharatpur and Alwar districts of Rajasthan; Noida, Bulanshehar and Sonbhadra districts as well as Dwarka, Outer North, Central, Outer and North East districts of Delhi and NCR.

Searches were conducted in the morning at the premises of Sampat Nehra of Churu-Rajasthan; Naresh Sethi (notorious gangster-criminal) of Jhajjar in Haryana; Surender alias Cheeku of Narnaul in Haryana; Naveen alias Bali of Bawana in Delhi; Amit alias Dabang of Tajpur in Outer Delhi; Amit Dagar of Gurugram in Haryana; Sandeep alias Bandar, Salim alias Pistol of North-East Delhi; Qurban and Rizwan Khurja of Bulandshahr in UP and their associates.

During the searches, five pistols and revolvers were seized, along with ammunition, which includes a cache of four pistols from the house of Asif Khan, an advocate, a residence of Gautam Vihar, Usmanpur in North East Delhi, said the agency, adding "he was connected with various gangsters of Haryana and Delhi".

"Few weapons in semi-knocked down condition have also been recovered during these raids," said the NIA.

Apart from these, incriminating documents, digital devices, details about benami property created through proceeds of crime, cash, gold bars and gold jewellery from Khurja, Bulandshahar (UP), and threat letters were also seized by the NIA.

The Central agency said that these raids were carried out to "dismantle and disrupt the emerging nexus between terrorists, gangsters and drug smugglers/traffickers based in India and abroad".

"A few of the most desperate gang leaders and their associates based in India and abroad, who are spearheading and carrying out such terror and criminal activities were identified and booked in two cases registered by the NIA in August this year," said the NIA.

This was the second round of raids and searches conducted by the NIA as part of its crackdown on top gangsters, their criminal and business associates based in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and arms suppliers based in UP, Rajasthan and Delhi.

On September 12, the NIA had also searched 50 locations in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and NCR region.

Source: Times Of India

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This stain on Modi govt's legacy will never wash off: Congress over release of Bilkis case convicts

Oct 18, 2022

NEW DELHI: The Congress Tuesday accused the Narendra Modi government of granting premature release to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case for political motives and said "this stain on the legacy of this dispensation will never wash off".

This shocking revelation came to light when the Modi government, in its reply before the Supreme Court, revealed that it had given its "concurrence and approval" for the release of the individuals convicted of gangraping Bilkis Bano and killing her three-and-half-year-old child and various family members, said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.

"It is repugnant, reprehensible and revolting that an elected government chose to release these convicts in such a cavalier manner. The grant of premature release to the convicts in the Bilkis Bano case is a stain on this government's legacy that will never wash off," he told reporters.

Singhvi said when the release was ordered on August 15, the Modi government maintained a studied and deliberate silence on freeing the criminals, an action which has drawn legitimate criticism the world over and "exposed our system to widespread shame and ridicule".

"The fact that the Modi government actively suppressed this fact shows that even it was aware that the action was a condemnable one," he noted.

Singhvi alleged that despite the Modi government's "desperate and clumsy attempts to justify this embarrassing and demeaning action, it is clear that the sole underlying calculation for it was raw political".

"There are many compromises in politics. But the BJP has made the greatest compromise of all; a sacrifice of the last shred of conscience that separated them from those craven and venal elements who prize solely their own political survival over all else."

The case being sub-judice, public opinion and public conscience are no less important. The Modi government must answer in the court of the people, the Congress spokesperson said.

The Gujarat government in its reply to a PIL by CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali, independent journalist Revati Laul, and ex-vice chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha, told the Supreme Court that the petitioner being a "third-party stranger", has no locus to challenge the remission order passed by the competent authority as per applicable law in the instant case under the "garb of PIL".

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five-month pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the riots that broke out after the Godhra train burning incident. Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed.

The 11 men convicted in the case walked out free from the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy.

Singhvi alleged that the panel that had ordered the release of the convicts in the case had "cited dubious justifications -- such as they belonged to Brahmin and 'sanskari' families -- for their release and even opined, without any basis or justification, that the convicts may have been intentionally framed”.

What it had not said was that the Ministry of Home Affairs, had granted its approval for such premature release, Singhvi said and asked, "Was the panel acting under some compulsion that it reduced its process to an ostensible formality?"

"This proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the release was a political decision made with not just the knowledge but the concurrence of those in the highest echelons of power in the Modi government," the Congress spokesperson alleged.

"Why has the Modi Government, despite the objections of senior officials, sought to grant preferential treatment to individuals convicted of so reprehensible, horrific and heinous a crime?" the Congress leader asked

Has the government decided to pardon all convicted rapists and child murderers who have served a certain period? With what face will it now oppose demands for parole which cite this precedent, he posed.

Source: Times Of India

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South Asia 

Taliban Accused of Executing 27 ‘Rebel’ Prisoners

October 18, 2022

Ayaz Gul


A new investigative report accuses Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers of executing 27 opposition fighters in custody during last month’s military operations in the turbulent northern province of Panjshir.

Afghan Witness (AW), an open-source project run by the U.K.-based nonprofit Center for Information Resilience, studied the allegations and published its findings Tuesday, which contradict earlier Taliban claims of killing the men in battlefield clashes.

The victims were said to be affiliated with the National Resistance Front (NRF), which has been waging an armed resistance against the Taliban since the Islamist group seized power more than a year ago.

AW researchers analyzed dozens of social media videos and photographs to “conclusively link” a group of Taliban fighters to the extrajudicial killings of 10 men in Dara district area.

“Five men—one facing the executioners on his knees, the others sitting facing away, all blindfolded with hands bound behind their backs—are repeatedly shot for 20 seconds… accompanied by celebratory cries from the large group of [Taliban] fighters,” the report said, adding that the group of Taliban fighters could be identified with five more men who were later executed.

AW researchers had gathered “credible evidence of a further 17 executions and 30 deaths as a result of the Taliban offensive in Panjshir, bringing the total to 57 victims,” the report noted.

The summary execution allegations date back to mid-September, when the Taliban declared in a statement that their forces had killed 40 armed rebels and captured at least 100 others as part of a “large-scale clearance operation” in several districts of mountainous Panjshir, including Dara. NRF officials at the time had confirmed the death of at least eight of their fighters, dismissing the Taliban claims as inflated.

Taliban officials also announced a defense ministry team had been tasked with investigating allegations of summary executions of resistance fighters, but no details have been shared to date.

AW team leader David Osborn told The Associated Press their findings give the “most clear-cut example” of the Taliban carrying out an “orchestrated purge” of NRF fighters.

Taliban authorities did not immediately comment on the report.

The radical group is under fire from the international community for not governing Afghanistan through an inclusive political system and for restricting women’s rights to work and education. No foreign government has yet recognized the legitimacy of the Taliban government.

The NRF, which is led by Ahmad Massoud — an ethnic Tajik leader — has in recent months regularly claimed guerrilla attacks against Taliban forces, mostly in and around Panjshir, the country’s smallest province located just north of the capital, Kabul.

Critics are skeptical whether the NRF could pose a serious threat to the new Taliban rule. But they see ISIS-K, the Afghan-based affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group, as a bigger security challenge for nascent Taliban rule.

ISIS-K has routinely carried out major bombings across Afghanistan, targeting minority Shiite Afghans and security forces, killing hundreds of people in recent months. However, the Taliban downplay the threat, saying their forces have significantly degraded ISIS-K's presence in the country.

On Tuesday, the Taliban-led Afghan secret agency, known as the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI), said its special forces raided a key ISIS-K hideout in the northeastern city, Kunduz, killing some militants. The claim could not be verified from independent sources.

Source: VOANews

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Taliban Turns Blind Eye To Opium Production, Despite Official Ban

October 18, 2022

By Mursaleen Arsala

Abubakar Siddique

In the spring, the Taliban announced a ban on the cultivation, trafficking, and use of illicit narcotics in Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium.

But as the fall planting season for opium crops begins, the militant group appears to be turning a blind eye to the lucrative drugs trade.

Farmers in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan -- where most of the country's opium is produced -- say they are growing their crops freely.

Experts say the cash-strapped Taliban government is unwilling to enforce its ban because the illicit opium trade remains a major source of revenue. The militants are also unable to provide alternative livelihoods for the tens of thousands of farmers who are dependent on the drug trade for survival.

Many Afghans are already struggling to make ends meet. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 triggered an economic collapse and worsened a major humanitarian crisis. Western donors abruptly cut off assistance, and the new government was hit by international sanctions.

The militant group is also keen to avoid creating widespread resentment in southern Afghanistan, a region that provided fighters for its 20-year insurgency, experts say.

“An effective ban on drugs production in the midst of a failing economy is a recipe for disaster,” says David Mansfield, an independent researcher who tracks Afghanistan’s illicit drug industry.

'I Will Get Nothing'

Some Afghan farmers say they are willing to stop cultivating opium if the authorities can provide them with alternative livelihoods and crops. But they say that the Taliban has offered few economic incentives to farmers, who can earn much more by growing opium compared to other crops, such as wheat.

“I support the ban on poppy cultivation if we get some aid to enable us to buy food and medicines for our families,” Abdul Qayyum, a farmer in Kandahar’s Maiwand district, told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi.

The United Nations has distributed tools, seeds, and fertilizer in some parts of southern Afghanistan in a bid to deter farmers from planting opium crops. But the farmers say finding jobs or markets for alternative agricultural products in a contracting economy is a complex challenge.

“If I don’t plant poppies, I will get nothing,” Naqibullah, a farmer in Uruzgan, told Radio Azadi. “A wheat crop cannot even pay for the fertilizers and tractors it needs.”

After the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, Washington spent some $8 billion in a bid to eradicate the opium trade in Afghanistan. The United States destroyed poppy fields, offered alternative crops to farmers, conducted air strikes, and raided suspected labs. But the strategy largely failed.

For years, the Taliban has been taxing poppy farmers and is involved in the trafficking of narcotics to neighboring countries, from where they end up in Europe and North America, experts say.

The UN estimated that the Afghan opium trade generated some $2.7 billion of income in 2021. A 2020 report commissioned by NATO said that the Taliban earned more than $400 million from the drug industry, although some experts believe such estimates are exaggerated.

The Taliban has pledged to enforce its ban. Haseebullah Ahmadzai, the head of the narcotics department in the Taliban’s Interior Ministry, says the group has laid the groundwork for implementing the ban.

“We have held meetings with community elders, farmers, and citizens across our country to brief them on our ban on narcotics,” he told Radio Azadi.


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Report: Taliban killed captives in restive Afghan province

October 18, 2022

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Taliban captured, bound and shot to death 27 men in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley last month during an offensive against resistance fighters in the area, according to a report published Tuesday, refuting the group’s earlier claims that the men were killed in battle.

One video of the killings verified by the report shows five men, blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs. Then, Taliban fighters spray them with gunfire for 20 seconds and cry out in celebration.

The investigation by Afghan Witness, an open-source project run by the UK-based non-profit Center for Information Resilience, is a rare verification of allegations that the Taliban have used brutal methods against opposition forces and their supporters, its researchers said. Since taking power in August 2021, the Taliban have imposed a tighter and harsher rule, even as they press for international recognition of their government.

David Osborn, the team leader of Afghan Witness, said the report gives the ”most clear-cut example” of the Taliban carrying out an “orchestrated purge” of resistance fighters.

Afghan Witness said it analyzed dozens of visual sources from social media — mostly videos and photographs — to conclusively link one group of Taliban fighters to the killings of 10 men in the Dara District of Panjshir, including the five seen being mowed down in the video.

It said it also confirmed 17 other extrajudicial killings from further images on social media, all showing dead men with their hands tied behind their backs. Videos and photos of Taliban fighters with the bodies aided geolocation and chrono-location, also providing close-ups of the fighters at the scene. These were cross-referenced with other videos suspected to feature the group.

“Using open-source techniques we have established the facts around the summary and systematic execution of a group of men in the Panjshir Valley in mid-September,” Osborn said. “At the time of their execution, the detained were bound, posing no threat to their Taliban captors.”

Enayatullah Khawarazmi, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the defense minister, said a delegation is investigating the videos released on social media. He said he was unable to give further details as the investigation is ongoing.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban-run government, was not immediately available for comment.

Last month, Mujahid was reported as saying the Taliban had killed 40 resistance fighters and captured more than 100 in Panjshir. He gave no details on how the 40 men died.

The force fighting in the mountainous Panjshir Valley north of Kabul — a remote region that has defied conquerors before — rose out of the last remnants of Afghanistan’s shattered security forces. It has vowed to resist the Taliban after they overran the country and seized power in August 2021.

Ali Maisam Nazary, head of foreign relations at the National Resistance Front for Afghanistan, said: “The Taliban committed war crimes by killing POWs that surrendered to them point blank and the videos are evidence of this.”

Source: Arab News

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Islamic Emirate’s Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid Urges Turkey To Recognize Govt And Engage In "Deep" Relations

October 19, 2022

The Islamic Emirate’s Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called on Turkey to engage in "deep" relations with Islamic Emirate and recognize its government.

Mujahid made the remarks in an interview with a Turkish TV channel.

The Islamic Emirate’s spokesman also urged the US to lift sanctions on Afghanistan.

“We want to have deep diplomatic relations with Turkey and other countries, so If God wills, the Islamic Emirate will be recognized through this and there will be further cooperation both in the diplomatic and economic sector,” Mujahid said.

Analysts believe that the Islamic Emirate must take tremendous steps to earn the recognition of the international community.

“The issue of lifting some restrictions on women’s work and travelling is important. The ensuring of some political and civil rights of the people is important and then, in general, the formation of an inclusive government is important,” said Shir Hassan Hassan, a political analyst.

“Turkey is an Islamic country and it is located both in Asia and Europe, and can play an important political and economic role as a liaison between the Islamic Emirate and the international community," said Ahmad Khan Andar, a political analyst. 

Speaking of women’s access to education, the Islamic Emirate’s spokesman said that efforts are underway to facilitate girls’ education under an Islamic format.

"The Islamic Emirate is paying all-out efforts to provide a safe and protected  environment under the Islamic format for women in education field and work,” Mujahid said. 

Source: ToloNews

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Arab World 

Pope Francis And Al Azhar Grand Imam To Take Part In November 3-4 Event In Bahrain

OCTOBER 19, 2022

Bahrain will host a global interfaith forum next month, under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Shaikh Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders,will participate in the forum on November 3-4 under the theme “The East and The West for Human Coexistence”.

The forum, organised by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Bahrain, in cooperation with the Muslim Council of Elders and the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, will be attended by more than 200 global faith leaders, and renowned scholars and media personalities.

The forum is within Bahrain’s keenness and strategy to build bridges and dialogue between leaders of religions and sects and leading figures of thought, culture and media, in cooperation with Al Azhar, the Catholic Church, the Muslim Council of Elders, and international institutions promoting dialogue, human coexistence and tolerance.

The two-day event will feature a series of poignant discussions that aim to further cement the values of peace and tolerance.


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Hundreds linked to Islamic State moved from Syria to notorious camp in Iraq

18 October 2022

BEIRUT — Syria’s autonomous Kurdish region has transferred more than 600 relatives of suspected jihadists detained at the notorious Al-Hol camp to Iraq, a war monitor and a Kurdish security source said Tuesday.

“The Iraqi government repatriated 161 families, including 659 people, from Al-Hol camp to Iraq,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Iraqi families left Al-Hol camp, which lies less than 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Iraqi border for their home country in a move coordinated by Iraqi authorities, the monitor said.

A Kurdish security source who requested anonymity said that 634 Iraqis had crossed from Al-Hol to their country on Tuesday.

The overcrowded, Kurdish-run camp is home to 55,000 people, and houses thousands of relatives of suspected Islamic State group members.

It is the largest camp for displaced people who fled after IS fighters were dislodged from their last scrap of territory in Syria in 2019.

The UN said more than 100 people have been murdered in the increasingly lawless camp since the start of 2021.

Kurdish forces arrested more than 200 people last month, after a three-week operation against IS supporters there discovered tunnels used by jihadists and seized an arsenal of weapons.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to repatriate their citizens from crowded camps.

But nations have mostly received them only sporadically, fearing security threats and a domestic political backlash.


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Turkish troops deploy in Syrian town to halt inter-faction fighting

18 October, 2022

Turkish troops deployed on Tuesday in an area in northwestern Syria to try to halt fighting between rival factions opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, witnesses and forces said.

Turkish tanks and armored vehicles took up positions around Kafr Jana, a rugged area which the main faction Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) seized on Monday from two rival factions belonging to a coalition of forces backed by Ankara.

Turkish army and security officers worked to bring the warring factions back to the negotiating table to implement a peace deal reached last Saturday that led to a one-day respite from five days of clashes that left scores dead on both sides.

“Turkey has now intervened to stop the conflict and prevent Hayat Tahrir al Sham from progressing and to get both sides to the negotiating table to implement the accord,” Waiel Olwan, a former opposition official in touch with both sides, told Reuters.

Tensions have been building in the opposition-held northwest under rebel control, mainly over ideological differences between Islamist and more nationalist-leaning armed factions.

Monday’s renewed fighting was triggered by mutual charges that both sides had reneged on the Turkey-brokered deal that saw fighters withdraw from the city of Afrin, which they seized from mainstream rebels. Those rebels also agreed to go back to their barracks away from the populated cities.

Turkey fears HTS’s hold over much of the insurgent enclave would give Moscow a free hand to renew bombing of a region that is home to more than three million displaced Syrians who fled Assad’s rule under the pretext of fighting extremists.

Russian fighters have in the last few days escalated strikes in the area in a message by Moscow that it will strike with impunity areas that now fall under the wider influence of the group, three commanders said.

Turkey’s large military presence, with thousands of troops stationed in a string of bases in northwest Syria, had held back Russian-backed Syrian forces from seizing the rebel-held area.

Rebels said the group, which has expanded its influence since fighting broke out in Afrin region, was now positioned several kilometers away from the border city of Azaz, the administrative center of the mainstream Turkish-backed opposition government.

A senior official in the coalition fighting HTS said they had reinforced positions around the city to repel any attempt by the fighters to take it over.

Azaz has seen in the last two days street protests opposed to the entry of the extremists.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Nearly 60 killed in 10 days of inter-faction fighting in northern Syria: Monitor

18 October, 2022

More than a week of inter-faction fighting in Syria’s Turkish-held north has killed 58 people, mostly combatants – a flareup that has allowed al-Qaeda-linked fighters to gain ground, a war monitor said Tuesday.

The clashes since October 8, in a volatile area near the Turkish border, have been among the deadliest in years, killing 48 extremist fighters and 10 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Among the 48 fighters killed, 28 were members of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance (HTS), which is led by al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate, according to the Britain-based war monitor, which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria.

Dozens of factions opposed to President Bashar al-Assad are confined to areas of northern and northwestern Syria that still evade government control after more than a decade of war.

The latest fighting started this month between two rival pro-Turkish extremist groups in the town of Al-Bab in Aleppo province before spreading to other areas and drawing in other factions, including HTS.

HTS is widely seen as the strongest and best organized of the factions and dominates the nearby Idlib region, Syria’s last major opposition stronghold.

Last week, the group captured the Afrin region from rival Turkish-backed factions, advancing in the area for the first time since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011.

The United States condemned the HTS advance in a statement Tuesday.

“We are alarmed by the recent incursion of HTS, a designated terrorist organization, into northern Aleppo (province). HTS forces should be withdrawn from the area immediately,” the US embassy said.

HTS has leveraged the latest bout of fighting to expand its zone of influence, in a move green-lit by Turkey, which has never publicly backed it, the Observatory said.

“Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would not have entered the area without Turkey’s consent,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdul Rahman.

Since Monday, it has advanced towards the key town of Azaz, near the Turkish border further north, as persistent inter-factional fighting has torpedoed a truce that briefly went into effect at the weekend.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hamas in first Syria visit in decade as relations thaw

October 19, 2022

DAMASCUS: A Hamas delegation arrived in Damascus Wednesday for talks with President Bashar Assad in the first such visit since the Palestinian Islamist group severed ties with Syria a decade ago.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, was one of Assad’s closest allies but left Syria in 2012 after condemning his government’s brutal suppression of peaceful protests in March 2011, which triggered the country’s descent into civil war.

“The Hamas delegation arrived in Damascus on a two-day visit,” during which Palestinian factions will meet Assad, said Palestinian Popular Struggle Front leader Khaled Abdel Majid.

The meeting will be followed by a news conference at 1:30 p.m. (1030 GMT).

The visit by the Hamas delegation, headed by Arab relations chief Khalil Al-Hayya, comes after the Islamist group signed a reconciliation deal with its Palestinian rival Fatah in Algiers last week, vowing to hold elections by next October in a bid to settle a 15-year rift.

It also comes after Hamas announced it wanted to normalize with Damascus citing “rapid regional and international developments surrounding our cause and our nation.”

Analysts said that was a reference to the growing number of Arab governments that have normalized ties with Hamas’s arch-enemy Israel in recent years.

A Hamas leader said the group plans to reopen its Damascus office but that it was “too early” to talk about relocating its headquarters to the Syrian capital.

The thaw between Hamas and Damascus was brokered by Tehran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a senior Hamas source said.

For the past decade, Syrian officials had accused Hamas of betrayal.

Source: Arab News

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US envoy praises Qatar labour law reforms but says ‘lot of work left to do’

19 October, 2022

US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis praised labor law reforms in Qatar and pushed for implementation and better prosecution if such laws are violated.

On Tuesday in Doha, Davis said that Qatar had made “real change” to labor rights in recent years.

“They talk about what it means to ensure that people can come here, work safely, earn a good wage, change jobs if that’s what they want to do. But they are overhauling a system that has not always been the most worker-friendly,” he said.

Davis acknowledged that there is “a lot of work left to do” on labor rights in Qatar, but open discussions that have been taking place were a move in the right direction, he added.

Qatar has faced scrutiny of the physical and contractual conditions for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who were needed since the FIFA World Cup hosting rights were won 12 years ago.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE President orders $100 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine

19 October, 2022

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered the provision of $100 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

The aid will help civilians affected by the ongoing crisis, state news agency WAM announced Tuesday.

Reem bint Ebrahim al-Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation, said the aid stems from the belief of Sheikh Mohamed in the importance of solidarity in times of war and conflict, and the UAE's continued efforts to mitigate the humanitarian impact of the Ukraine crisis.

It is the latest in aid relief the UAE has sent to the war-torn country.

The UAE has provided similar relief aid in recent months to Ukrainian civilians affected by the crisis, in addition to sending planes carrying aid to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and Moldova in response to the urgent United Nations’ appeal and the regional refugee response plan in Ukraine.

The aid announcement follows a phone call between Sheikh Mohamed and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday, where the two leaders discussed the latest developments of the Russia-Ukraine war in a call.

WAM said that the two leaders discussed areas of cooperation and stressed the importance of de-escalating the current conflict.

“Dialogue and diplomatic solutions” were emphasized as a means to end the offensive, with the UAE leader reiterating that the Emirates will “exert all possible efforts to prevent the worsening of the crisis and help foster an atmosphere conducive to de-escalation and negotiations for the benefit of all parties.”

The UAE leader also reportedly voiced his concern about the global impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, including on the international economy and security.

“During a conversation with the President of the United Arab Emirates Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of relations between our states. Ukraine will remain the guarantor of global food security,” a statement shared on Zelenskyy’s telegram channel read.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel ‘persecuting’ Palestinian people: UN report

19 October 2022

A United Nations human rights expert has slammed Israel's “apartheid practices” in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the Tel Aviv regime’s actions against Palestinians amount to “persecution.”

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, made the remarks in a report released on Tuesday, which details Israeli efforts to stamp out the Palestinian collective identity and sovereignty.

“Realizing the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination requires dismantling once and for all the Israeli settler-colonial occupation and its apartheid practices,” she said.

Albanese also documented the use of lethal force against journalists and humanitarian workers critical of Israel, as she pointed to the recent detention order against French-Palestinian human rights defender Salah Hammouri, who has been held in Israeli jails under the policy of so-called administrative detention since March.

According to the report, almost 4,500 Palestinians are currently detained, 730 under the practice of administrative detention, in which Israel keeps the detainees without charge for up to six months, a period that can be extended an infinite number of times.

Children as young as 12 have been victims of arbitrary arrest and detention, the report said, adding that 500 to 700 minors were arrested by the Israeli regime every year.

Albanese further pointed to the closure of seven Palestinian civil society rights groups’ offices by Israeli forces in the West Bank in August, calling the move an abuse of counter-terrorism legislation.

“This appears to be an attempt to further shrink, if not outright ban, space for human rights monitoring and legal opposition to the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territory,” she said, arguing that it was time for a “paradigm shift” in Israel’s relations with the international community.

The UN special rapporteur also criticized efforts by some regional states to normalize ties with Israel, calling the peacemaking attempts “ineffective” due to the fact that “they have not focused their approaches on human rights, particularly the right to self-determination, and have overlooked the settler-colonial underpinnings of the Israeli occupation.”

She also called on the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to release an updated database of businesses involved in Israeli settlements.

Source: Press TV

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President Rayeesi: Iran Not to Stand Idle Vis-a-Vis EU's Hostile Acts


President Rayeesi made the remarks in a phone call with Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said.

"The US has made a miscalculation to support and intensify riots in Iran, which followed the death of a young Iranian woman in a police station," the Iranian president said.

"The US has falsely imagined that its sanctions would stop the Iranian nation, but when they saw that not only did the Iranian nation not stop in the face of sanctions, but it continued to make progress, it resorted to sedition against the Islamic Republic of Iran," he added.

Rayeesi's remarks came after US President Joe Biden and his top officials in meddlesome statements pledged support for the recent riots in Iran, which followed the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

The Omani Sultan, for his part, said he would personally follow up the implementation of the agreements reached between the two countries.

He added that the two nations are benefiting from developing relations.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran's Military Employs Home-grown Missile Fath 360 During Wargames


The projectile uses tactical solid fuel and is a precision weapon.

The missile has a range of 120 kilometers and is capable of destroying a range of targets including logistic systems of the enemy. This enables ground forces to enter the battlefield.

Fath 360 is highly resistant to electronic warfare and is capable of destroying its targets without any disruption. Its battery fires its multiple missiles within a minute to avoid getting targeted by the enemy.

The same weapon was used against separatist anti-Iran groups in Iraq’s Kurdistan region last week.

Commander of the IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said the drills send the message of peace and friendship and consolidating lasting security to the neighboring countries.

The senior commander added the drills are also a show of Iran’s readiness to confront the enemies, emphasizing that the IRGC Ground Forces, along with other armed forces, are ready to defend the country’s borders and decisively respond to any threats.

Military officials say Iranian forces are in the best possible conditions and ready for defense against any possible aggression with the most state-of-the-art home-made equipment.

Iranian military experts and engineers have in recent years made remarkable breakthroughs in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Accuses EU of Colonial Mentality over Garden-Jungle Comment


Borrell has described Europe as a “garden” while banishing the rest of the world as “a jungle” that could “invade the garden”, prompting a strong rebuke by several nations across the world.

In response, Kana'ani described Borrell’s garden-jungle comment as arising from colonial mentality.

“The garden/jungle metaphor arises from an utterly unacceptable colonial mentality which gives the West a right to invade and occupy,” the spokesperson wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

“That era has long gone. Multipolarity is on the doorstep,” he noted.

“EU needs to adopt the realities, otherwise it will continue to decline and fade,” the top diplomat added.

Critics say Borrell's speech smacked of racism and imperialism and reflected long-outdated views of European superiority.

Slamming Borrell’s insulting remarks, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasized in a Twitter post on Friday that the ‘garden’ of Europe was built by looting the ‘jungle’ of the rest of the world during the colonial regime.

“Europe built that ‘garden’ through the barbaric plundering of the ‘jungle’. Borrell could not have phrased it any better: the world’s most prosperous system, created in Europe, nurtured by roots in colonies which they ruthlessly oppressed,” she went on to explain.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Human Rights Chief Blasts EU for Imposing New Sanctions on Iran


Qaribabadi's remarks came after the European Union following US and Canada, as well as the UK, announced new sanctions against Iranian authorities and entities in a show of support to rioters in the country.

"The same European Union which has violated the rights of millions of Iranian civilians due to the implementation of US-orchestrated unilateral and cruel sanctions and sheltered and provided unwavering support to the terrorists who have murdered 17,000 innocent Iranians has now once again put up a pathetic charade by claiming to be defending human rights while simultaneously imposing sanctions on those safeguarding the security and safety of Iranian people against western-backed riots," Qaribabadi said.

The new sanctions came as Iran condemned the western powers for fomenting riots and warned the European countries not to interfere in Iran's internal affairs over the issue.

In continuation of the western countries' hostile and futile moves against Iran, the European Union imposed sanctions on Iran's ICT minister, the morality Police, and the Cyber Department of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday over alleged human rights violations. The media said that as many as 97 Iranian individuals and 8 Iranian entities were put on the sanctions list by the EU.

Sporadic protests erupted in Iran over the death of the 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, who fainted at a police station on September 16 and was later pronounced dead at a Tehran hospital.

Although Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi immediately ordered a thorough investigation into the case, the protests soon turned violent, with rioters fatally attacking policemen and indulging in vandalism against public property in several cities.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Students protest at Iranian university as official visits: Media

18 October, 2022

Dozens of students protested at a university in Iran’s capital on Tuesday as a government official visited, state media reported, amid demonstrations sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death.

Iran has been gripped by protests since the 22-year-old died on September 16, three days after she was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

The street violence has led to dozens of deaths, mostly among protesters but also among the security forces, and hundreds have of demonstrators been arrested.

On Tuesday, around 90 students gathered outside the law faculty at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabai University, chanting “inappropriate and immoral slogans” while government spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi was addressing a conference inside, state news agency IRNA said.

It did not elaborate on the reasons for the demonstration but said Bahadori-Jahromi later “appeared among the protesting students... and talked with them.”

Demonstrations have been reported at universities and schools in different Iranian cities in recent weeks.

Officials have accused the country’s “enemies,” mainly the United States, of inciting “riots.”

Bahadori-Jahromi said Persian-language media outlets and platforms based outside Iran were being used to “put pressure” on Tehran.

“Countries are willing to pay from their own pockets to start Persian-language media, while they do not know Persian at all and want to put pressure on us,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Earlier Tuesday, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi accused Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia of backing such foreign media.

“Social media and television channels, especially the ones affiliated with regional movements including Saudi Arabia and some Western countries,” have created “false atmospheres,” he said, without identifying any of the outlets.

Many of those arrested “said they were under the influence” of such media, Vahidi said, according to IRNA.

His remarks came a day after Major General Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, warned Riyadh against “interfering” in the Islamic republic’s affairs and said: “We told you to be careful.”

“I have a suggestion for the Al-Saud regime,” Salami said Monday, referring to the ruling Saudi royal family.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran agrees to ship missiles, more drones to Russia: Report

18 October, 2022

Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to more drones, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters, a move that is likely to infuriate the United States and other Western powers.

A deal was agreed on October 6 when Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, two senior officials from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and an official from the Supreme National Security Council visited Moscow for talks with Russia about the delivery of the weapons.

“The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles family,” said one of the Iranian diplomats, who was briefed about the trip.

A Western official briefed on the matter confirmed it, saying there was an agreement in place between Iran and Russia to provide surface-to-surface short range ballistic missiles, including the Zolfaghar.

The Iranian diplomat rejected assertions by Western officials that such transfers breach a 2015 UN Security Council resolution.

“Where they are being used is not the seller’s issue. We do not take sides in the Ukraine crisis like the West. We want an end to the crisis through diplomatic means,” the diplomat said.

Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran has denied supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin on Tuesday denied its forces had used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

Asked if Russia had used Iranian drones in its campaign in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin did not have any information about their use.

“Russian equipment with Russian nomenclature is used,” he said. “All further questions should be directed to the Defense Ministry.”

The ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The appearance of Iranian missiles in addition to drones in Moscow’s arsenal in the war with Ukraine would raise tensions between Iran and the United States and other Western powers.

Shipment ‘soon, very soon’

The US State Department assessed that Iranian drones were used on Monday in a morning rush hour attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, a US official said. White House spokesperson Karinne Jean-Pierre also accused Tehran of lying when it said Iranian drones are not being used by Russia in Ukraine.

A European diplomat said it was his country’s assessment that Russia was finding it more difficult to produce weaponry for itself given the sanctions on its industrial sector and so was turning to imports from partners like Iran and North Korea.

“Drones and missiles are a logical next step,” said the European diplomat.

Asked about sales of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles to Russia, a senior US military official said: “I don’t have anything to provide at this time in terms of whether or not that is accurate at this point.”

Chafing under Western economic sanctions, Iran’s rulers are keen to strengthen strategic ties to Russia.

Iran’s rulers are also under pressure from nationwide demonstrations which were ignited by the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman detained for “inappropriate attire.”

Several European Union states on Monday called for sanctions on Iran over its supply of drones to Russia, as the bloc agreed a separate set of sanctions over Tehran’s crackdown on unrest.

“They (Russians) wanted to buy hundreds of our missiles, even mid-range ones, but we told them that we can ship soon a few hundred of their demanded Zolfaghar and Fateh 110 short-range, surface to surface missiles,” said one of the security officials.

“I cannot give you the exact time, but soon, very soon those will be shipped in two to three shipments.”

An Eastern European official tracking Russia’s weapons activity said it was their understanding that this arms deal was happening, although he had no specific evidence to back it up. The official said that a decision had been taken by the Iranian and Russian leaders to proceed with the transfer.

Moscow had specifically asked for surface-to-surface short-range Fateh 110 and Zolfaghar missiles, and the shipment will happen in a maximum of 10 days, said another Iranian diplomat.

Attack drones

The stakes are high for Iran, which has been negotiating with Western states to revive a 2015 deal that would ease sanctions on Tehran in return for limits on its nuclear work.

The talks have deadlocked, and any disputes between Tehran and Western powers over arms sales to Russia or Iran’s crackdown on the unrest could weaken efforts to seal an accord.

The United States agrees with British and French assessments that Iran supplying drones to Russia would violate a UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 deal, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Monday.

The Western official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said that like the drones, missile transfers would also violate UN resolution 2231.

Several senior Iranian officials are outraged about “unjust” planned sanctions on Iran over its arms shipments to Russia, said the second diplomat.

In September, Tehran had refused a request by President Vladimir Putin for the supply of Iran’s sophisticated Arash 2 long-range attack drones, three Iranian officials told Reuters.

When asked the reason for the refusal, one of the officials cited several issues including “some technical problems.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey test fires secretly developed ballistic missile: Report

18 October, 2022

Turkey test-fired a locally made, short-range ballistic missile over the Black Sea on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

A mobile platform was used to fire the missile from an airport near the port city of Rize at around 7:00 a.m. local time, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they aren’t authorized to comment.

The projectile flew 561 kilometers (350 miles) and fell off the coast of the port of Sinop, they said.

The secretive missile project dubbed Tayfun, or Typhoon in Turkish, has been under way for several years, the people said without elaborating. The Defense Industry Presidency, which oversees the development of locally made weapons, refused to divulge any information about the project.

Turkey took delivery of an advanced S-400 missile-defense system made by Russia, a top NATO foe, in 2019, two years after Ankara signed an agreement with Moscow to buy the system in the hope that the cooperation could help it develop its own ballistic-missile defense program.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Houthi rebels reject offers to extend truce: Yemeni gov’t


SANAA, Yemen

The Yemeni government has accused Houthi rebels of rejecting all offers to extend a UN-brokered truce in war-torn Yemen.

“The Houthi group turned down all offers to extend the truce,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said during a meeting with UN envoy Hans Grundberg in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The meeting between the two sides took up the latest developments in Yemen and efforts aimed at the truce, the state news agency Saba reported.

A two-month truce brokered by the UN between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels expired in Oct. 2, with efforts to extend the truce hitting a dead end.

There was no comment from Houthi rebels on the accusation.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Christchurch mosque and Auckland mall terror attacks spur stronger counter-terrorism laws

By Adam Pearse

19 Oct, 2022

The Government is seeking to expand New Zealand's counter-terrorism legislation following the devastating attacks on the Christchurch mosque in 2019 and the New Lynn mall last year.

Amendments to the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 and the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Act 2019 will allow the Government to remove ambiguity that might have allowed Brenton Tarrant's, the man behind the mosque attack, designation as a terrorist to expire.

When a terrorist is imprisoned, the amendments would require the Prime Minister to review the designation every three years to assess whether it is justified.

Expiry of the designation, which under the Act is after three years unless renewed, would be paused and the designation would remain in place while the person was imprisoned until the review was completed.

It also included a refusal to entertain applications to revoke a designation made on the grounds that "the entity is no longer involved in any way in the carrying out of terrorist acts".

While designations could be renewed under the current legislation, it had so far been unclear how the renewal and revocation processes applied to terrorists in prison.

Tarrant was jailed for life without parole in August, 2020 for murdering 51 Muslims at two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019.

He was designated as a terrorist entity on August 27, 2020 - meaning his three-year designation would expire next year, if it wasn't renewed.

These amendments provide appropriate safeguards to ensure the designation scheme is effective in addressing the threat of further terrorist acts," Allan said.

"The proposed changes to the designation and control order schemes are in line with this Government's commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch masjidain."

Cabinet has also agreed on changes to control orders - civil orders intended to prevent high-risk individuals from engaging in terrorism by imposing various restrictions.

The changes have expanded the criteria so they could be applied to more people.

The changes included people who had received a conviction for objectionable publications that promote torture, extreme violence or cruelty, which is in addition to the current criteria that include a conviction for objectionable publications that promote terrorism.

It will include people sentenced to home detention and community-based sentences, as it is currently limited to sentences of imprisonment.

Greater judicial discretion would be allowed when setting control order restrictions to tailor them more appropriate to the risk posed.

Restrictions can limit a person's movements, communications and activities; access to the internet, terrorist propaganda or chemicals; use of some financial tools, and more.

They might be required to remain at their home at certain times, to regularly report to an officer, submit to electronic monitoring and drug tests, and only attend a gun range with police present.

Name suppression requirements would also be made more flexible to establish an "appropriate balance" between preventing the glorification of terrorism and notifying the public that a known risk is being managed.

"While no law can ever stop a motivated terrorist from undertaking an attack, these changes will go a long way in preventing, disrupting and limiting their ability to do so," Allan said.

A review of the control orders legislation would take place next year.

Source: NZHerald

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Poland keeps ban on Israeli school groups with armed guards

18 October, 2022

Poland has banned Israeli school groups from using armed guards during visits to the country, including to former Nazi concentration camps.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina was quoted by PAP news agency on Wednesday as saying: “We are ready to receive Israeli excursions in Poland if they are not accompanied by armed security guards.”

Jasina spoke after Israeli ambassador Yacov Livne last week said Israeli school visits had been banned “because of the decisions taken by the Polish foreign ministry.”

The issue is over visits organized by Israel’s education ministry for secondary school children, which have been suspended since June.

Interviewed on a regional radio station in Lublin in eastern Poland, Jasina said there were no armed guards for Israeli school children on visits to France and Germany, which could create the impression they were more in danger in Poland than in those countries.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Bosnia and Herzegovina commemorates 19th death anniversary of 'Wise King'

Talha Ozturk??



Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday marked the 19th death anniversary of Alija Izetbegovic, the first president who led the country to independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Izetbegovic -- a politician, writer, and lawyer who came to international prominence during the country's bitter 1992-1995 war -- is commemorated every year on his death anniversary.

Often dubbed the "Wise King," Izetbegovic is one of the most important Muslim thinkers of the last century.

The first president of Bosnia Herzegovina managed to gain independence for his country on March 1, 1992, months after Slovenia and Croatia broke away from the former Yugoslavia.

He died in Sarajevo on Oct. 19, 2003, due to natural causes, having served as president of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1996 and as chairman of the Bosnian presidency until October 2000.

Early life

Many Muslim families, including Izetbegovic's, moved to the northwestern city of Bosanski Samac in 1868 due to Serbian excesses in Belgrade. His grandfather, father, and their families lived for nearly 60 years in a two-story house until the move in 1928.

Izetbegovic was born in Bosanski Samac city on Aug. 8, 1925, as one of five children of the couple Mustafa and Hiba and the grandson of a Turkish woman (Sidika). Here, he spent his first years of childhood.

When he was 21, he was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for his activities with the Young Muslims organization in 1946.

After his release, Izetbegovic enrolled in the Faculty of Law and earned a degree at the University of Sarajevo.

Writings and trouble

It was in Izetbegovic's Islamic Declaration, published in 1970, that Bosnian independence, national consciousness, and the expansion of Islamic thought found an audience.

His writings landed him in trouble with the Yugoslav authorities. Along with 12 other Bosniak scholars, he was jailed for 14 years after being accused of "separatism and establishing an Islamic state" in 1983 but was released five years later.

He entered politics that same year and founded the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in 1990 to empower Bosniaks in their land.

Being one of the six republics of Yugoslavia, Bosnia's SDA won 86 seats in the 240-seat parliament in the first multi-party elections of 1990.

In February-March 1992, a referendum on independence for Bosnia-Herzegovina was held, in which 99.44% voted in favor of independence with a turnout of 64%.

A month later, the EU and US recognized the new state.

Bosnian War

However, the then-political leader of Bosnia's Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, rejected the result and was the political face of an armed campaign that culminated in ethnic cleansing and a return to mass murder in post-war Europe.

But neither during the ensuing war nor during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys did Izetbegovic lose the spirit of resistance.

In November 1995, Bosniaks -- amid international pressure -- stopped the war and signed the Dayton Agreement, bringing peace to the country.

After stepping down as chair of Bosnia's presidency in 2000, Izetbegovic lived alone in his single-story home in the capital Sarajevo.

Leaving a flag to his country, Izetbegovic died eight years after the Dayton Agreement was signed, in 2003.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Germany New Admission Programme to Admit 1,000 Afghan Refugees Per Month

By Arif Ahmadi

18 Oct 2022

KABUL, Afghanistan – Under a new admission programme for Afghan refugees, Germany will admit people deemed most at risk following the Taliban takeover last August, the foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.

The new programme will admit 1,000 Afghans per month and their family members, targeting particularly exposed Afghans who are active in women’s and human rights advocacy or those at risk for working in the fields of justice, politics, media, education, culture, sport or science.

Afghans who have experienced violence or persecution because of their gender, sexual orientation or religion can also benefit from the programme.

“We will continue to fulfil this responsibility and have now created a structured framework for future admissions,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement. “Based on established admission criteria, we are able to offer protection to particularly vulnerable people from Afghanistan.”

Germany will cooperate with civil society organizations to select and reach the targeted groups. The government plans to run the programme until the end of the legislative period in October 2025.

“We are also working closely with civil society organisations to explore new avenues and forms of cooperation which have never been tried before,” she said. “For example, we now have a coordinating office to support civil society organisations taking part in the programme.”

As part of the international efforts, Germany has continued to endeavour to help people in Afghanistan even after the Taliban seized power in mid-August 2021.

Compared to other EU member states, Germany has admitted by far the largest number of Afghan former local employees and other particularly vulnerable Afghans.

Almost 26,000 local employees and especially vulnerable Afghans have already taken advantage of the admission options provided by the German Government.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pakistan army brass reposes full confidence in nuclear command, control

Oct 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army’s commanders reposed “full confidence” in the country’s “robust nuclear command and control structure” and the security of its strategic nuclear arms, the military’s media wing said on Tuesday.

The statement by the army brass comes days after the US President Joe Biden created an uproar by calling Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world for possessing nuclear weapons without any cohesion.

In a statement issued after the corps commanders conference presided by the army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in Rawalpindi, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army’s media arm, said the participants took a comprehensive review of the prevailing internal and external security situation and operational preparedness of the army.

“The forum reposed full confidence in Pakistan’s robust nuclear command and control structure and security arrangements related to country’s strategic assets,” the statement said.

As a responsible nuclear weapon state, the ISPR said, Pakistan has taken all measures necessary to strengthen its nuclear security regime, on a par with international best practices.

Earlier, Pakistan’s prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, rejected Biden’s statement as baseless, and the country’s acting foreign secretary, Jauhar Saleem, summoned the US ambassador, Donald Blome, on Saturday for an explanation of the US president’s remarks.

Washington’s relations with Islamabad have soured since last year, when the US ended a two-decade war in Afghanistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Abbottabad Police Arrest 44 More Tehreek-I-Labbaik Pakistan Workers

October 19, 2022

HARIPUR: Life returned to normal in Havelian and Haripur areas on Tuesday following an uneasy calm over a clash between the police and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan workers in the Chamba village amid varying claims about deaths and arrests.

No incident of violence was reported in the day with the police remaining on a high alert all through the day.

“The situation is under control but even then, we [police] are prepared to deal with any law and order situation,” Havelian station house officer Haroon Khan told Dawn.

He said 44 more TLP workers were held taking the number of arrests for arson attacks and terrorism to 78.

The SHO said the arrested men were with the police investigators on a three days physical remand.

He said more arrests would be made as scores of TLP workers tried to breach the Havelian entry ban besides removing shipping containers and barricades and firing gunshots on the police and pelted them with stones.

Mr Khan claimed that no TLP activist was killed or injured in the police action and instead, the marchers injured 33 policemen, some of them critically, by gunshots and stones.

“We arrested 34 TLP workers from Sunday night to Monday morning and 44 more in different areas on Tuesday,” he said.

The SHO said none of the senior TLP leaders, including Allama Saad Rizvi, Mufti Umair al- Azhari and Mufti Shafiq Amini was arrested.

TLP zonal information secretary Syed Qasid Ali Shah reiterated his claim that the police firing killed his party’s 10 workers.

He also said 50 ‘peaceful’ marchers suffered injuries after the police opened gunshots and teargas on them.

Mr Shah said that he saw several of his party workers critically injured but their whereabouts were not known.

“At least 250 of our workers are missing and nobody knows about their fate. Our party’s leadership is compiling their lists,” he said.

The TLP leader said most of the injured were admitted to hospitals in different cities and that their names along with medical reports would be shared with the media ‘very soon’.

However, there was no confirmation of the alleged deaths or arrests by any other TLP leader or the police. The TLP confirmed the burial of workers Hafiz Shakeel and Hafiz Mubashir in Mansehra district. The family sources claimed that the two had lost life on Sunday night.

Source: Dawn

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Opposition accuses ECP of conspiring with ruling parties

Imran Ayub

October 19, 2022

KARACHI: The opposition parties on Tuesday accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of conspiring with the ruling parties both in Sindh and Centre that led to postponement of local government elections in Karachi for the third time only to save the ruling alliance from a devastating defeat.

In a strong reaction against the ECP decision to postpone local government elections in Karachi for a third time, the opposition parties asked the ECP chief to step down because he had ‘failed’ to meet his constitutional responsibility.

They also accused him of ‘facilitating’ the ruling parties while using his constitutional position.

JI asks CEC to resign

Speaking to the media at the Sukkur airport after the ECP announcement of delaying the polls, Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq said that ‘acting’ on directives of the Sindh government, the Election Commission of Pakistan had postponed the local government elections in Karachi because Pakistan Peoples Party’s defeat was inevitable in the elections. He said that the PPP thought in this way it could save its face.

He said that without any solid reason the local government election had been postponed in Karachi. When by-elections for the national assembly could be held, there was no reason for delaying the local government elections in Karachi, he added.

The JI chief demanded that local government election were held immediately on Oct 23.

Also, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman asked Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja to tender his resignation if he was unable to exercise his constitutional powers under Article 220 of the Constitution.

“If the chief election commissioner continues to ask institutions, instead of issuing orders to them, it simply means either he is unable to exercise his powers or he is unaware of his constitutional powers. So he needs to quit and tender his resignation.”

PTI blames Sindh govt for postponement

The parliamentary party leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the Sindh Assembly, Khurram Sher Zaman, made almost similar demands.

He told a press conference that the CEC was a ‘worker’ of the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement].

He said only last month thousands of policemen were deployed for security during a cricket series between Pakistan and England and expressed surprise over the excuse of the Sindh government which was reluctant to deploy personnel of the law-enforcement agency for the polling exercise.

He accused the ruling party of conspiring against the LG elections in Karachi in the “name of floods and rehabilitation of its victims”.

“The PPP is well aware that it can’t win in Karachi and devastating defeat is its fate,” he said.

Sharjeel says delay due to administrative reasons

The Sindh government, on the other hand, insisted that it was solely an administrative issue which led it to propose postponement of the local government elections.

In a statement, Sindh Minister Information Sharjeel Inam Memon claimed that the provincial government and Pakistan Peoples Party were always ready for local government elections.

“The Sindh government had written a letter to the ECP to hold local government elections in two phases, due to shortage of police personnel who were deputed in rain emergency duty,” he said.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan PM asks officials to ‘immediately remove’ obstacles to Saudi Development Fund projects


October 18, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered officials to resolve obstacles to pending projects backed by the Saudi Development Fund while its representatives were on an ongoing visit to the South Asian nation.

An SDF delegation met the PM in Islamabad on Monday to discuss ongoing projects as well as explore avenues of future cooperation. The group was led by the SDF’s General Director for Asia, Dr. Saud Al-Shammari.

During the meeting, the PM “directed the concerned Pakistani authorities to immediately remove the obstacles in the way of pending projects related to the Saudi Development Fund,” the PM’s Office said in a statement.

“The Prime Minister also directed the Special Task Force for Saudi Arabia, which consists of Federal Minister for Investment Board Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Adviser to the Prime Minister Ahad Cheema and Special Assistants Tariq Fatemi and Jahanzeb Khan to assist the Saudi delegation in Pakistan and solve the problems with all the stakeholders during the stay.”

Sharif called on the Saudi group to invest in the solar energy sector in Pakistan and said his government was paying “special attention” to promoting cheap and clean energy sources to save foreign exchange and prove affordable electricity.

The PM said Saudi Arabia had always supported Pakistan “on internal and external fronts” and extended gratitude to King Salman Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support to Pakistan after recent floods.

“The prime minister further said that Saudi Arabia played an important role in the development of Pakistan in the form of grants and loans and investment,” the statement said.

Source: Arab News

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Ready to buy fuel from Russia on 'India rate', says Pakistan finance minister during US visit

Oct 18, 2022

WASHINGTON: Pakistan finance minister Ishaq Dar has said that his country is ready to buy fuel from Russia at the same rate being provided to neighbouring India, according to The News International.

Ishaq Dar, who is the newly appointed finance minister of the country, made these remarks during an official visit to the United States (US).

While interacting with media persons, the minister also asserted that the West would have no problem to importing the discounted fuel due to the hardship caused by devastating floods in Pakistan.

"I have held 58 meetings with the heads of international financial institutions, the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries' authorities during my 4-day stay in Washington," The News quoted Ishaq Dar as saying.

In a roundtable conference hosted to discuss floods in Pakistan, the Pakistan finance minister said the United Nations Development Programme, Asian Development Bank and the World Bank authorities presented a joint report there.

"Pakistan suffered losses to the tune of USD 32.40 billion due to floods. More than USD 16 billion are needed by Pakistan for the rehabilitation work," the Pak minister said, citing the report.

According to a media report, Pakistan is staring at a possible food crisis as the production of wheat in the upcoming Rabi season is expected to drop owing to low-profit margins that are forcing farmers to look out for alternative crops.

Heavily impacted by the unprecedented floods throughout the country, Pakistan is now planning to buy wheat from sanction-hit Russia amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

"The two technical sides are already discussing that. We want to procure wheat from Russia," Pakistani Ambassador to Moscow Shafqat Ali Khan said in an interview with the news agency TASS.

The Pakistani ambassador said they look to Russia as a long-term and stable partner when it comes to food supplies amid the food crisis.

"...Russia has emerged as a new supplier for us, earlier it used to be different other countries. We look to Russia as a long-term, stable partner when it comes to food supplies for us," he said.

Notably, these talks on wheat procurement and fuel come amid the diplomatic row over US President Joe Biden's remark on Pakistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Ashrafi for underdeveloped countries support to meet climate change challenges

18 Oct 2022

CAIRO, Oct 18 (APP):Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Tuesday said the developed and financially influential countries should support the underdeveloped countries with less resources in order to cope with the challenges arising from the climate change.

Talking to the media following the ‘World Fatwa Conference’ in Cairo, Egypt, Ashrafi said it was high time to recognize the reality of climate change, as flash floods in Pakistan have inundated 70 percent area of the country, which has caused more than $30 billion loss to the national economy.

Ashrafi who is also the chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council, said Islam stressed to take advantage from conventional knowledge and use of modern sciences for water conservation and tree planting were the commandments of Islam.

He said the debates and discussions between Islamic scholars on the conventional issues was a very important step for resolving the problems of the present age.

Ashrafi said the Islamic scholars had invited the leaders of all the religions to move forward to resolve the conventional problems of the world.

The Makkah Declaration was result of the continued efforts on part of the Muslim World League and similarly, the ‘Charter of Akhuwat-e-Insania’ by Sheikh Al-Azhar, and ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ by Ulema and Mashaykh of Pakistan for promoting unity and consensus in view of interfaith dialogue, he maintained.

He said Islam was guarantor of survival and security of the humanity, and it taught us the promotion of peace, affection, and tolerance. In this scenario, it was necessary that the leadership of all religions and religious sects should raise awareness about challenges of the climate change, he added.

He also informed that Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif would participate in the conference in Sharm-Al-Sheikh and shed the light on the losses incurred by the recent monsoon rains and flash floods in Pakistan.

“Pakistan alone cannot deal with the catastrophic situation caused by floods in the country,” he said urging international organizations and Islamic world to cooperate with Pakistan in this trying time.

“We are grateful for the cooperation of the international bodies and Islamic world, but it is not sufficient enough to cope with the calamity,” he said adding the problems were increasing many folds with every passing day as mercury was dropping and people were forced to live under the open sky in the winter season.

Seeking world community’s help to meet this national disaster, Ashrafi informed that the flood-affected people of Pakistan were also facing water related diseases.

Source: APP Pakistan

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Imran Khan’s jibe on ‘army chief’s temper’

October 19, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday took a jibe at Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, ostensibly over the registration of a case against PTI Senator Azam Swati, saying that the army chief seems quicker to anger than he (Imran) is.

The PTI chairman was talking to a delegation of the National Press Club and the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists, who had called on him at his Banigala residence.

The former prime minister made these remarks while responding to a question by a journalist, who asked him why he gets angry over every news report against him, even though the media tries to balance every story.

To this, the former premier said he had no reason to be angry with the media since it was the media that helped him rise to power, adding that his party was being run with the support of the media.

Source: Dawn

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Southeast Asia

5 Groups Take Cops, AG To Court Over Failure To Prosecute Muslim Preacher For Allegedly Making Inflammatory Remarks Against Other Religions

V Anbalagan

October 18, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The leaders of four civil society groups and a Sarawak-based political party are seeking judicial review over the failure of law enforcement agencies to take action against a Muslim preacher for allegedly making inflammatory remarks against other religions in two videos.

The first of those videos went viral on social media in 2017, and the second was posted on YouTube two years ago.

The applicants are Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak president Bobby William, Human Rights Federation president S Shashi Kumar, Sarawak Association for People’s Aspiration president Ng Kim Ho, Ex-Students of Chinese Schools vice-president Chan Tuck Loong and Pertubuhan Malaysia Tamilar Munnetra Kalagam president K Sri Ramesh.

The five want the Kuala Lumpur High Court to issue an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the police and the attorney-general (AG) who, they say, refused to act against Syakir Nasoha for remarks made at a mosque in Bakar Arang in Sungai Petani on Dec 16, 2017, which were captured in the first video.

They also said a second video uploaded to YouTube on Oct 20, 2020 had caused non-Muslims to react angrily towards Syakir.

The applicants are seeking an order of mandamus to compel the authorities to act against the preacher.

The five, who filed the application through their solicitors Messrs Gunaseelan & Associates last month, also want a declaration that the refusal to act against Syakir was unlawful and an abuse of power on the part of the police and the AG.

The application for leave to commence judicial review proceedings has been fixed for hearing on Nov 1.

The applicants said that about a year ago, at least 3,000 police reports had been lodged nationwide against Syakir calling for him to be arrested and charged with insulting and defaming other religions.

They alleged that the AG had said in a letter to Shashi Kumar dated June 17 that police investigation papers sent to him last December had been classified as requiring “no further action”.

That decision was irrational, unreasonable and not bona fide, they said.

The applicants said the AG’s decision was arbitrary and violated Article 8 of the Federal Constitution as the law had not been applied equally.

They also said the AG, who is also the public prosecutor, had failed to carry out his duties as required under Article 145 of the constitution.

The application contends that the videos by Syakir had caused serious public harm as they insulted non-Muslim religions and sowed seeds of hatred.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

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Explore Islamic influences at Beijing Niujie mosque

19-10- 2022

BEIJING: Eating halal in non-Muslim countries is always one of the challenges for international Muslim travellers.

However in China, it is not so difficult to find a Muslim restaurant in the major tourist cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Guangzhou.

Halal food was one of this writer’s major concerns during her early days in Beijing, with doubts over the availability of Muslim food in the republic especially when Muslims only comprise about one to two per cent of China’s population of 1.4 billion.

Many questions had been playing on the writer’s mind when she first arrived in China in mid-July: Where do they get their halal food supply? How do they perform their religious obligations?


All these questions were answered when this writer visited the Niujie Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing and among the world’s famous mosques located in the sub-district of Guang'anmen, Xicheng district.

This writer first visited the mosque in 2019 during a programme organised by China Public Diplomacy Association.

Niujie is located in the city’s largest Muslim district, home to more than 300,000 Muslims of Hui ethnic group.

Using the smartphone map as a guide, this writer, who currently resides in Jianguomen, in the heart of Beijing city, picked up the courage to travel alone to Niujie, using the subway for the first time.

After a 40-minute ride, I proceeded on my journey by walking towards Niujie Mosque.

However, I had a rude shock on arrival at the mosque when all doors were closed, with a signboard notifying visitors that it was under construction.

Although several other tourists who were there for the same purpose decided to return to the city, I decided to stay on, waiting for a “door of opportunity” to enter the mosque and perform Zohor prayer, which was about an hour away.

I patiently waited for the “miraculous moment” until a man in his white kopiah (cap) emerged from the mosque.

“Mǎláixîyà (Malaysia), said the writer as she introduced herself to the man in his 70s named Wang and Alhamdulillah (praise to Allah), and to my surprise, he allowed me to enter the mosque.

There was a sense of calmness when I stepped into the premises of Niujie Mosque. More importantly, it was the first time I could visit the mosque especially after spending more than a month in Beijing.

Several men, mostly senior citizens in kopiah or white jubah, were having a chat while waiting for prayer time – a sight that is no different than in mosques back home.

“Assalamualaikum (peace be upon you).”

This writer was greeted by the imam of the mosque. The salam greeting was indeed heart-warming as it reflects Muslim solidarity that transcends racial boundaries.

Due to language barrier, this writer could only return the imam’s salam with a smile.


The Niujie Mosque, the largest of all the mosques in Beijing, was first built in 996. A tourist attraction, the mosque has not been fully opened to the public.

From the outside, its architecture shows traditional Chinese influence and the inside has a blend of Islamic calligraphy and Chinese design.

The main prayer hall is 600 square metres in area, and can hold more than 1,000 worshippers. The blank white tiles and fixtures look Muslim, but the intricately and richly coloured Chinese roofs and designs add a Chinese look. Many fences, walls and doors are painted bright red.

Outside the mosque is a minaret, a lecture room for religious classes and a two-storey tower structure that is called the Tower for Watching the Moon. It looks like a two storey pagoda. There is also a souvenir shop and the imam’s office.

According to history, the mosque was first built during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and made out of timber. It was named ‘Liasi’ by the emperor in 1474. It covers an area of 10,000 square metres, featuring classic classical Arabic mosque and Chinese royal palace flavour.

The mosque has transcended six eras starting from Liao Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty till modern day China.

Within the period, it has gone through several renovations such as in 1955 and 1979 in addition to a major reconstruction in 1996 in conjunction with its 1,000th anniversary with the latest undertaken several years ago.

Based on information displayed at the mosque, the Niujie Mosque is reserved as the Key Point of Cultural Heritage & Relic under the State-level Protection by the State Council since Jan 13, 1988.

“This is my first visit to Niujie Mosque and it is indeed magnificent, with its original nuances, especially from the architectural and design aspects, which reflect Islamic influence in China,” said Marshalina Gitafadilla Munir, a journalist from Indonesia.

As I was capturing the moments on video and photo, an elderly woman in her 60s greeted me. Without a word, she used hand gestures and body language as a means of communication. It was clear that she wanted to know the women’s section for prayers and for ‘wuduk (a room designated for ritual washing before daily prayer).

A warm smile lifted the corners of her mouth and her eyes burned of motherly warmth. It was a brief encounter yet a memorable one.


After prayers, I managed to catch up with Wang. Guided by a translation app on the smart phone, I expressed my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to pray at the mosque and hoped to return with some friends.

Wang only nodded, smiled and gave me a thumbs-up.

Needless to say, travel is incomplete without exploring the neighbourhood and in this case, the streets of Niujie near the mosque and its halal food.

Without wasting time, this writer decided to walk along Niujie Street. Based on some valuable tips shared by local residents, if a building and premise is green in colour, it shows that it is serving halal food. I was glad that the buildings in Niujie were painted green in addition to a signboard displaying the word ‘halal’ in Chinese.

Nearly all shops and stalls were selling halal snacks, such as lamb and beef pau, bean soup, Baiji rice cake and various types of bread with halal meat filling.

A takeaway food outlet was drawing customers who were making a beeline for its popular lamb and beef pau, hot from the oven. I decided to join the bandwagon.

Thanks to its efficient staff and the cashless system in place, I did not have to wait long.

Niujie literally means Ox Street. This area is actually the key market for Muslim supply of beef and lamb as the animals are slaughtered in accordance with Islamic laws. In fact meat that is sold in Niujie is said to be among the best in Beijing

Several restaurants managed by the ethnic Uyghur group from Xinjiang here serve various types of their traditional authentic food, among others the popular lamb kebab.

“During Ramadan, the Niujie area would be packed with Muslims buying halal meat and breaking their fast at Niujie Mosque,” said a local resident.

This writer also had a taste of the popular lamb kebab. The meat pieces were well marinated with a blend of spices and they were tasty, soft and succulent. Its exquisite taste was similar to those sold in Xinjiang, one of the most popular cuisines in the region.


The Hui ethnic group is the largest group of Muslims in China, followed by Uyghur. Both ethnic groups form about 90 per cent of the Muslim population in China.

The Muslim community in China also comprises Kazak, Kirgiz, Uzbek, Tatar, Tajik, Dongxiang, Salad and Bao’an ethnic groups.

An estimated 25 million Muslims are found across China, with Islam being widely spread and focused on small groups. Islam is one of the four or five religions officially recognised in China.

Muslims in China are largely found in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan.

The Xinjiang region has the largest Muslim population in China with about 50 per cent of the people in the region are Muslims.

According to Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution, citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy freedom of religious belief, including Islam.

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Malaysia busts Mossad team, secures release of kidnapped Palestinian activist

18 October 2022

Malaysian authorities have secured the release of a Palestinian activist who was kidnapped by agents of the Israeli spy agency over alleged links with the armed wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

According to an Al-Jazeera report, the Palestinian activist, a computer programmer by profession, was kidnapped in Kuala Lumpur on September 28 by Malaysian agents who had been recruited and trained by the Israeli spy agency Mossad in Europe.

The report said the man was interrogated by Mossad officers in Tel Aviv via video conference on matters related to Hamas and its armed wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

“The Israelis wanted to know about his experience in computer application development, Hamas’ strength in developing software, members of the Al-Qassam Brigade that he knew and their strengths,” a source with knowledge of the case was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.

The Malaysian authorities managed to free the man 24 hours after his abduction in a complex operation that saw the arrest of the kidnappers.

The man reportedly left Malaysia days after his release.

Malaysian media cited officials as saying that Mossad had recruited a cell of at least 11 Malaysian nationals to track down Palestinian activists.

Al Jazeera cited "informed Malaysian sources" as saying that investigations had found that the Mossad cell was involved in spying on important sites, including airports, penetrating “government electronic companies”.

In 2018, Mossad was linked to the killing of Palestinian academic, Fadi al-Batsh, in Kuala Lumpur.

Reporting on the abduction on Monday, the Jerusalem Post said the Israeli military announced during its May 2021 war on Gaza that “its policy was to target Hamas activists anywhere.”

Source: Press TV

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M’sia has much to offer in halal economy, other areas in Muslim world: Mustapa

19-10- 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, as a leading nation in the Muslim world, still has much to offer in best practices, trade and innovation, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (pix).

The country is a role model for the halal economy and has positioned itself as a prime mover of the global halal economy, he said, noting that based on the Global Islamic Economy Indicator (GIEI) Score, Malaysia has been ranked number one for nine years consecutively.

The halal economy contributed about 7.5 per cent to Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Mustapa said at the virtual Global Muslim Business Forum 2022 today.

He said the nation currently leads in Islamic finance, halal food, Muslim-friendly travel, and media and recreation sectors.

“The largest component of the halal economy is the food sector, contributing an estimated US$31 billion (US$1=RM4.72).

“Malaysia is a pioneer in Islamic finance and the industry is quite developed and well-regulated in our country. We are one of the top five countries with the biggest Islamic finance assets with over US$619.7 billion in 2021,” the minister said.

Malaysia continues to lead with innovation, he said, pointing out that last year, the country issued the world’s first sovereign US dollar-denominated Islamic finance sustainability-related commercial notes.

“I would be remiss not to mention Malaysia’s halal certification which is globally recognised. The signature Malaysia halal stamp of authenticity helps avoid ‘halal washing’, and builds trust, particularly in international trade,” he shared.

He noted that the government has also continued to emphasise the importance of the halal economy.

In the 12th Malaysia Plan, he said, a key strategy is to position Malaysia as a global hub by boosting development of halal talent, introducing halal professional recognition, stimulating industry development, and enhancing product competitiveness.

The target is to further increase the contribution of the halal economy to GDP to 8.1 per cent and generate over US$12 billion in export revenues by 2025, he said.

Touching on the forum’s theme “The Rise of the Global Islamic Economy: Refocusing, Resetting and Recovering in the Post-Pandemic Era”, Mustapa said it is consistent with the immense business potential of 1.9 billion Muslim consumers worldwide.

Global Muslim spending reached US$2 trillion in 2021 across various sectors, such as food, fashion and finance, and this is coupled with US$3.6 trillion of Islamic finance assets, such as sukuk and Islamic bonds.

Citing the latest State of the Global Islamic Economy Report by DinarStandard, he said consumer spending levels for all sectors of the global Islamic economy, except for travel, have returned to pre-pandemic levels as of the end of last year.

“The outlook for the global Islamic economy is good. Demand for halal goods and services is expected to rise with global spending forecast to hit US$2.8 trillion by 2025.

“The global Muslim population reached 1.9 billion in 2019 and is predicted to grow twice as fast as the overall world population. There will be at least 3 billion Muslims by 2060, which will represent one-third of the global population, according to the Pew Research Centre,” he said.

Mustapa also highlighted the important role of digital connectivity in the Muslim world.

Citing Newzoo’ research data, he said 15 of the 50 countries with the highest smartphone penetration rate are from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; hence the demand for Muslim-friendly digital products, from Islamic finance to lifestyle products, will only grow.

Source: TheSunDaily

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North America 

Muslim Olympic Medallist Sued For Defamation For Highlighting Story Of Teacher Pulling Girl’s Hijab

18 October 2022

Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American Olympic medalist in fencing, is being sued by a teacher for defamation after a social media post she made about the teacher allegedly pulling on a girl’s hijab went viral.

The incident took place in October 2021, when the seven-year-old girl told her mom that her second-grade teacher, Tamar Herman, “approached her, grabbed her hijab, pulling it back, touching her face and hair” and exposed her uncovered hair to the class. 

Later, the girl’s mother wrote about her daughter's accusations on Facebook, prompting Muhammad to denounce it as Islamophobia in an Instagram post that went viral. Muhammad's post on Instagram has since been deleted.

According to Herman, a New Jersey school teacher, she was placed on administrative leave, forced to move out of her home after allegedly being ostracized by her community, and required police protection after Muhammad's social media post, the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit also alleges that Muhammad “knowingly, maliciously and willfully” posted false and harmful statements about Herman.

“As a result of the defendants’ fabricated claims, Herman had her reputation impugned, she was targeted with threats to her physical safety, was mercilessly bullied and ridiculed, was shamed in local and national news articles, and humiliated in front of her community.”

Constitutional rights

According to the lawsuit, Herman noticed that the girl was wearing a hood that was blocking her eyes. She reportedly encouraged the student to brush back her hood, and when the student didn’t, Herman pulled it back. The lawsuit says that Herman then realised that the student wasn’t wearing her regular hijab and apologised.

The lawsuit also includes the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) saying that its executive director, Selaedin Maksut, gave a defamatory interview on Good Morning America and tweeted that Herman should be fired from her teaching job.

“We cannot yet comment on this filing, which our legal counsel must review,” Cair told MEE in a statement. “However, we continue to strongly stand by this student, who had the clear constitutional right to cover her hair for religious reasons without physical interference or humiliation.”


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Jihad in Latin America: Illicit activities in the region fund Hezbollah

OCTOBER 19, 2022

Jihadist groups currently have a broad presence in Latin America, where they find benefits that are crucial to their survival and operations, according to John Marulanda, author of the book Yihad en Latinoamérica (Jihad in Latin America).

Marulanda is a defense and security consultant for multinational energy companies that have a presence on the continent. He is a retired colonel who held several senior positions in the Colombian military, including founder and commander of the 25th Aviation Brigade, founder and first director of the School of Civil-Military Relations, and commander of the Revéis Pizarro Mechanized Cavalry Group on the border with Venezuela.

Iran’s presence in Latin America grew with the political alliance – some would say “bromance” – between then-Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his contemporaneous Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They both led large oil-producing countries at the time. This political liaison allowed Iran to create a strong presence in Latin America and it was this Iranian prominence that facilitated the spread of Hezbollah cells across the continent.

Marulanda told The Media Line that even though jihad (Arabic for “struggling,” a term often applied in Islamic contexts to the waging of a holy war) is such a foreign concept for Latin America, jihadist organizations are indeed present in the region.

'A brewing presence of Islamic fighters'

“We believe that there is a brewing presence of Islamic fighters scattered over the Latin American region,” he said.

In the region, says Marulanda, we can see the presence of two jihadist actors, Iran and Hezbollah, with the latter subordinate to the former.

Iran is the main sponsor of jihad all over the world, while Hezbollah is in this case the representative or the one who carries the name of jihad in Latin America, he adds.

Marulanda notes that jihadist groups do not represent an imminent risk for Latin America – at least for now.

“But it is important to point out that jihadists that belonged to Hezbollah were the ones who carried out the terror attack on the Israeli Embassy and later on the AMIA [Jewish center] in 1994 in Buenos Aires, Argentina,” says Marulanda.

“These are the two most severe terrorist attacks in Latin America that emerged from Islamist extremism,” he says.

However, Marulanda notes that as jihad has in the past represented an immediate risk of terrorist attacks in Latin America, today its presence has a different connotation.

He explains that these groups have two main objectives in the region.

The first one, according to Marulanda, is to collect intelligence on soft targets that Israel or the United States have in Latin America, a region where most people follow the Catholic faith.

The second, he says, is to be involved in all illicit activities in the region, such as smuggling, drug trafficking, falsification of documents and money laundering.

These illicit activities, he says, take place in areas such as the tripartite border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, the border between Colombia and Venezuela close to the city of Maicao, or even in the Chetumal region between Mexico and Belize.

“These are suitable regions to be the focus of groups such as Hezbollah and other jihadist organizations, to proliferate or finance themselves,” he explains.

Hezbollah links to drug trafficking across America

Hezbollah launders money that comes from drug trafficking in these territories through banks banned by the American and other world governments, which nonetheless still operate in Latin America.

Marulanda notes that while Iran permanently finances Hezbollah, the current economic woes of the Islamic Republic have had an impact on that funding.

“It is important to remember that Hezbollah is a legal party in Lebanon, but part of the organization is illegal [in much of the world], and after the Middle East, its second-largest center of operations is in Latin America. The money that it earns from illegal activities [there] finances about 60% or 70%” of its operations, he said.

He says that the US government transfers money in a legal and legitimate manner through the United Nations to Palestinian groups in Latin America, which rely on the help of the international community. But, according to Marulanda, “many times, that money is redirected to Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah emboldened due to Iranian presence

Furthermore, Marulanda says, Hezbollah has a strong support system in Latin America that is heavily bolstered by Iranian diplomatic missions in the region.

The jihadist organizations in Latin America are also associated with guerrilla groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). “We have information of how in Venezuela, drug trafficking and terrorist groups such as ELN [the National Liberation Army, a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group in Colombia] and FARC have maintained permanent contact and joint training with Hezbollah.”

Besides the Iranian diplomatic representation and local terror organizations, Marulanda says that the Venezuelan government also supports Hezbollah. He singles out Venezuelan Petroleum and Industries and National Production Minister Tareck El Aissami, a former vice president of the country. El Aissami is of Lebanese descent and has fully supported Iran and Hezbollah over the years, he says.

According to Marulanda, Hezbollah even has training centers and many other facilities in Venezuela that they do not have in the rest of Latin America.

However, he adds, that the new political tilt to the left in Latin America makes it likely that more countries will strengthen their ties to Iran, something that would create a political climate favorable to the operations of Hezbollah cells in the region.

Marulanda says Hezbollah could target communities and institutions related to Israel, Jews and the United States, which should all be aware of the danger posed to them by the group’s presence in the region.

“If the relationship between the US and Iran deteriorates in the event that negotiations over the [Iran] nuclear deal fail, it could cause an escalation” in terrorist activity, he warns. “These targets could be attacked to weaken the US presence in Latin America.”

According to Marulanda, the US and the Israeli governments are the most concerned about the Hezbollah presence and activities in the region. “They have their own information methods, their own intelligence channels and bring the situation to the attention of the Latin American governments,” he says.

In fact, he says, the Israeli government “has helped us a lot” with tracking everything that may be happening with Hezbollah in real-time.

Today, there is not one country in Latin America that does not have a presence of Hezbollah cells of varying sizes, Marulanda says, but clarifies that this is not the only jihadist group in the region.


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US walks back Biden’s quip, terms TTP ‘threat’

Anwar Iqbal

October 19, 2022

WASHINGTON: The US continued to back-pedal from President Joe Biden’s position on Pakistan’s nuclear programme as the State Department said on Tuesday that Washington sought a strong partnership with Pakistan to counter global and regional terrorism and also has confidence in its ability to defend its nuclear assets.

“Few countries suffer from terrorism like Pakistan and have a shared interest in combating threats to regional stability and security from groups like TTP,” spokesperson Vedant Patel said.

On Monday, the State Department had quashed speculations stirred by President Biden’s remarks when it clarified that the US was confident of Pakistan’s ability to keep its nuclear assets safe and secure.

Endorsing the confidence expressed by previous US admi­nistrations as well, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said: “The United States is confident of Pakistan’s commitment and its ability to secure nuclear assets.”

The clarification followed a meeting between Ambassador Masood Khan and a senior aide to the US Secretary of State, Counsellor Derek Chollet. After the meeting, both sides expressed the desire to continue rebuilding their partnership.

In addition, a member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said on Tuesday that President Biden’s remarks were not deliberate, or the administration would not have clarified them on Monday.

Democratic senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, said: “I was pleased to see the State Department issue a clarification, making it clear that the United States government has confidence in the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons systems”.

When asked how US lawmakers viewed this controversy, he dismissed media speculation about a change in the US policy towards Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Asked if President Biden had just made off-the-cuff remarks or his statement indicated a policy change, he said: “I think it was off-the-cuff remarks. I’m speculating here, but that would be my reading, and that is why the State Department issued a clarification. Had it not been off-the-cuff, had it been deliberate, then you wouldn’t have seen this (clarification).”

“So, you do not see any policy change on Pakistan’s nuclear programme?” he was asked. “I do not,” the senator replied.

The meeting between Counsellor Chollet and Ambassador Khan took place shortly before the State Department issued its clarification and came days after the Pakistan Foreign Office summoned the US ambassador in Islamabad to protest over President Biden’s remarks.

Mr Chollet said in a tweet that he met Ambassador Khan “to discuss US-Pakistan long-standing partnership and (to) further grow our ties in so many areas including health, agriculture, education, entrepreneurship, energy and more for the benefit of our peoples and the region”.

Source: Dawn

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State Department confirms detention of US national in Saudi Arabia

Michael Hernandez  



The State Department confirmed Tuesday the detention of Saudi-American dual national Saad Ibrahim Almadi in the Kingdom, saying it has raised concerns about his detention directly with Riyadh.

Spokesman Vedant Patel said the US first raised concerns about Almadi's arrest in December 2021 when it became aware that he was taken into custody in Saudi Arabia, and last addressed the case Monday. Almadi was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Oct. 3.

The Saudi government offered no information to the State Department on the date of Almadi's sentencing hearing until after it transpired despite "repeated requests" from the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia, said Patel.

Almadi, 72, was taken into custody in November 2021 when he traveled to Saudi Arabia to visit family, the Washington Post reported Monday. At issue are 14 tweets he posted in the past seven years, including some that address Jamal Khashoggi, the Post's contributor who was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Almadi's son, Ibrahim, said his father had been tortured while in Saudi custody and imprisoned in deplorable conditions alongside extremist militants.

Patel said the US is still working to determine whether Almadi was "wrongfully detained," but maintained that "freedom of expression should never be criminalized."

"As it relates to a potential designation, that process is ongoing. We are looking into it. There are a number of strict criteria that are involved in making that designation. So I'm just not going to get ahead of that deliberative process," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US: Iran sent Ethiopia military drones in 2021 in violation of UN resolution

Michael Hernandez  



Iran sent Ethiopia armed drones in the summer of 2021 in violation of a standing UN Security Council resolution, the US State Department said on Tuesday.

Spokesman Vedant Patel said the US informed the UN about the transfer, noting it is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the landmark 2015 nuclear deal world powers struck with Iran.

"This kind of transfer would fall under this restriction, and would be subject to it," he told reporters, referring to the resolution.

The resolution lifted many sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic in return for Tehran agreeing to curb its nuclear activities and allowing an international inspections regime to take effect.

It also established a 2020 deadline for an arms embargo to be lifted on Iran, which former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully lobbied to have extended. It does, however, maintain restrictions on the transfer of certain military technologies through 2023.

The timeline on the weapons transfers to Ethiopia aligns with when government forces were facing a sweeping offensive by Tigray rebels that left Ethiopian forces on the back foot.

The Tigray People's Liberation Forces pushed south and closed on the capital of Addis Ababa prompting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to declare a state of emergency in November before the rebels were pushed back.

Multiple media outlets reported on Ethiopia's apparent use of the Mohajer-6 drones as the tide of the war shifted in the government's favor, but the State Department's comments are the first government confirmation that the drones had been deployed in the conflict.

The department on Monday said Iran's sale of the drones to Russia to aid its war effort in Ukraine was also in violation of Resolution 2231.

Iran has repeatedly rejected claims from the West that it is supplying domestically manufactured drones to Russia as Moscow ups the ante in Ukraine with a series of kamikaze drone strikes on Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure in recent weeks.

Multiple images posted on social media appear to show Iranian-made Shahed drones, which Russia refers to as Geran-2, in the skies above Kyiv, as well as debris from the aircraft after they struck their targets.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US expresses ‘confidence’ in Pakistan to keep nuclear weapons secure

18 October 2022

The United States has expressed its “confidence” in Pakistan’s ability to secure its nuclear weapons, days after Islamabad summoned the US ambassador for an official demarche on US President Joe Biden’s remarks on the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan is believed to have a stockpile of approximately 160 warheads, making it the 6th largest nuclear arsenal.

 US President Joe Biden on Thursday questioned the safety of Pakistan's nuclear program. He said Pakistan is "maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world" as it has "nuclear weapons without any cohesion," according to a transcript of the speech released by the White House.

US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a press briefing on Monday that the US has always viewed a secure and prosperous Pakistan as critical to American interests and that it was “confident of the commitment and its ability to secure its nuclear assets.”

Patel made the remarks shortly after a meeting between Pakistani Ambassador to the US Masood Khan and State Department Counselor Derek Chollet.

Chollet, a senior advisor to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, tweeted that he met the Pakistani ambassador to discuss the “longstanding partnership” between the two countries and to further grow ties.

In response, Ambassador Khan wrote that he and Chollet discussed “ways to build further resilience in #PAKUS ties and boost strategic trust.”

Biden’s apparently off-the-cuff remark on Thursday was made in the context of the changing geopolitical situation globally. The US president claimed the world was changing rapidly and countries were rethinking their alliances. “And the truth of the matter is — I genuinely believe this — that the world is looking to us. Not a joke. Even our enemies are looking to us to figure out how we figure this out, what we do.”

Biden went on to boast that the US has the capacity to lead the world.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday condemned Biden’s comments.

“Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and we are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards as per IAEA requirements,” Sharif tweeted, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “We take these safety measures with the utmost seriousness. Let no one have any doubts.”

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said he was amazed by Biden’s strange comments.

"As far as the question of the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear assets are concerned, we meet all – each and every – international standard in accordance with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)," he said at a press conference on Saturday.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned Biden’s remarks on Pakistan’s nuclear program.

“I have 2 questions on this: 1. On what info has [the US president) reached this unwarranted conclusion on our nuclear capability when, having been PM, I know we have one of the most secure nuclear command & control systems?” Khan asked.

“2. Unlike the US which has been involved in wars across the world, when has Pakistan shown aggression, especially post-nuclearisation?” he added.

Washington's relations with Pakistan have soured since last year when the US ended a two-decade war in Afghanistan, and then allegedly toppled the government of Prime Minister Khan.

Source: Press TV

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Sudan backs OPEC+ decision to cut oil production

18 October, 2022

OPEC+ member Sudan said on Tuesday that the group’s decision to cut oil production by two million barrels per day was unanimous and it supports Saudi Arabia’s position that all OPEC+ decisions are purely economic, a statement by the country’s foreign ministry said.

The statement said the decision was based on “the realities of supply and demand and aims to ensure the stability of energy markets.”

OPEC+, the producer group comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) plus allies including Russia, announced earlier this month its new production target after weeks of lobbying by US officials against such a move.

The decision, however, provoked accusations that the Kingdom was taking sides in international conflicts and that it was politically motivated against the US.

Saudi Arabia rejected these accusations saying they were “not based on facts,” and reaffirming that the OPEC+ decision was adopted through consensus.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Ethiopia says 3 strategic towns captured in Tigray

Mohammed Dhaysane



Ethiopian forces have captured three towns in the northern Tigray region, the government said on Tuesday.

Shire, Alamata, and Korem were taken under control “without fighting in urban areas,” according to a government statement.

It said the government is making “necessary preparations and will coordinate with the relevant humanitarian agencies to provide humanitarian aid through these areas … including via the Shire Airport.”

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) confirmed that it has lost control of Shire, but is yet to comment on the other two cities.

The Ethiopian army’s gains come amid a renewed push for a truce and peace talks under African Union (AU) mediation.

The TPLF on Sunday said it is “ready to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities,” urging the international community to press Addis Ababa “to come to the negotiating table.”

Redwan Hussien, national security adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to peace talks, saying it is waiting for the AU to announce a date.

He also countered recent statements from UN officials, including its chief Antonio Guterres, that the Tigray crisis “is spiraling out of control.”

“Just for the record, the conflict isn’t spiraling as opposed to some who would like to paint it. It was spiraling when being expanded to other regions. Now, it’s just being extinguished & degenerating,” Hussein said on Twitter.

The Tigray conflict has killed thousands and displaced millions more since November 2020.

There has been intense fighting in the northern Ethiopian region since a months-long truce was shattered in late August, with reports of mass casualties and other rights violations.
Source: Anadolu Agency

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Somalia facing child malnutrition deaths 'on a scale not seen in half a century': UN

Mohammed Dhaysane  



Drought-ravaged Somalia could soon see “the death of children on a scale not seen in half a century,” the UN warned on Tuesday, calling for greater action and funding from the international community.

“Today in Somalia, every single minute of every single day, a child is admitted to a health facility for treatment of severe acute malnutrition,” James Elder, a UNICEF spokesperson, said at a news briefing in Geneva.

“The latest admission rates from August show 44,000 children admitted with severe acute malnutrition. That is a child per minute.”

With severely malnourished children up to 11 times more likely to die of diarrhea and measles, he warned that Somalia “is on the brink of a tragedy at a scale not seen in decades.”

“In a country where access to the most vulnerable is continually hampered by terrorism and threats to aid workers, we fear many thousands more children are not reaching the support they need,” said Elder.

He said the current situation in Somalia is worse than the 2011 famine that claimed some 260,000 lives.

“In 2011, after three failed rains, the affected population was half of what it is now, and the overall conditions – rain and harvest – were on the mend,” he explained.

“Today, it’s been four failed rains; the forecast for the fifth rains is looking pretty grim, and the affected population is twice the size of 2011. Things are bad and every sign indicates that they are going to get worse.”

He said “funding challenges” continue to hinder the emergency response in Somalia.

“Long-term funding is part of the critical change needed to prevent famine from happening, again, and again. For instance, UNICEF’s three-year appeal to help families and their communities build resilience in the Horn of Africa region is currently just 3% funded,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Bomb kills two peacekeepers in Mali, UN says

October 17, 2022

BAMAKO: Two UN troops were killed and four others were badly injured by a roadside bomb in northern Mali on Monday, the UN peacekeeping mission said.

They had been taking part in a search for mines in the Kidal region, the mission wrote on Twitter.

“Two MINUSMA #peacekeepers were killed today, 17 October, when their vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device during a #mine search and detection patrol in #Tessalit, Kidal region,” MINUSMA said on Twitter.

Four others were seriously injured, it said.

The peacekeepers were part of MINUSMA’s Chadian contingent, an official at the mission’s camp in Kidal said.

MINUSMA — the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali — was launched in 2013 to help one of the world’s poorest countries cope with a bloody terrorist campaign.

It is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, with 17,612 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of May, according to the mission’s website.

It has suffered 276 fatalities, one of the highest tolls in the history of “blue helmet” operations.

Of these, nearly a quarter have occurred through improvised explosive devices.

Mali has struggled with an insurgency that began in the north of the country in 2012 and then spread to the center of the country and Niger and Burkina.

Across the three countries, thousands of civilians, police and troops have died, and some two million people have fled their homes.

Mines and IEDs are among the jihadists’ weapons of choice. They can explode on impact or be detonated remotely.

A report by MINUSMA found that mines and IEDs caused 72 deaths in 2022 as of Aug. 31.

Most of the victims were soldiers, but more than a quarter were civilians, it said.

Last year, 103 people were killed and 297 injured by IEDs and mines.

At least 11 people were killed and 53 injured when a bus hit an explosive device in the Mopti area of central Mali last week, a hospital source said.

Mali’s military seized power in August 2020.

Source: Arab News

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