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Islamic World News ( 17 Nov 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Arabia Birthplace of ‘Lethal Poison’ Of Takfirism, Says Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A US travel advisory has been issued for travellers to Europe. (Representational)

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Saudi Arabia Birthplace Of ‘Lethal Poison’ Of Takfirism, Says Iran

Upper House Unanimously Passes Bill To Boost Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Clauses

US Congress Passes Bill Delinking Haqqani Network From Let

Block Porn Or Be Blocked, Indonesia Warns Google, Twitter

Regret RBI Decision To Not Pursue Islamic Banking: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

 

Mideast

Saudi Arabia Birthplace Of ‘Lethal Poison’ Of Takfirism, Says Iran

Iran Warns Saudi Over 'Baseless Claims', 'Destabilizing' Role

Saudi siege of Yemen leaves three cities without clean water: Red Cross

Nato chief apologises to Turkey over drill 'incident'

Turkish Delegation's Visit to Idlib Reveals Ties with Al-Nusra Front

Saudi relief official: Yemeni ports controlled by legitimate forces are open

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Pakistan

Upper House Unanimously Passes Bill To Boost Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Clauses

Taliban To Hold ‘Unofficial’ Talks With Afghan Officials

State Writ Intact, No Parallel Taliban Set-Up In Wana, Say Tribal Elders

Top BLF commander suspected of Turbat massacre killed

Saeed’s plea against detention deferred

Maulana Samiul Haq in favour of FATA-KP merger

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North America

US Congress Passes Bill Delinking Haqqani Network From Let

Canada Won’t Use Death Squads To Hunt ISIL Fighters

Canada 'concerned' about human rights abuses in Myanmar

US now has significantly more troops in Somalia

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Southeast Asia

Block Porn Or Be Blocked, Indonesia Warns Google, Twitter

Increased Centralisation Has Curbed Religious Freedom: Islamic Renaissance Front

Najib’s Wasatiyyah not the real deal, says Zaid

Malaysian Constitution in line with Islam, Arab scholar says

Indonesian millennials lean towards xenophobia

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India

Regret RBI Decision To Not Pursue Islamic Banking: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Deported PFI Member Spills The Beans On ISIS Recruitment In India

Restrictions imposed in Valley following the killing of a terrorist

J&K Police sub-inspector killed by terrorists

Assam Cops To Quiz Jamiat Chief Madani For ‘Provocative’ Statement

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Arab World

IS Attack Kills 26 Displaced People In Syria

Al Jubeir: Lebanon Will Find Peace When Terrorist Group Hezbollah Is Disarmed

Iraqi Forces Recapture Last Islamic State-Held Town

Russian Planes Wipe Out 1,250 ISIL Targets in Syria in One Week

Syria toxic gas inquiry to end after Russia again blocks U.N. renewal

Terrorists Withdraw from Another Key Region in Syria's Hama Province

Syrian Army Drives Terrorists out of More Regions in Hama Province

Syrian Army Repels ISIL's Heavy Offensive in Eastern Homs

Sultan bin Suhaim: We are the founders of Qatar, we will cleanse it

Russian bombers pound Daesh positions near Syria’s Bukamal again

Lebanese security forces bust Daesh terrorist network

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Europe

US Warns Of Christmas Terror Threat In Europe

Terrorist’s Family Asks Why Won’t Britain Stop Hub of ‘White Jihadis’ Around a Single Suburban Town?

Britain to pay 400 million pound debt to Iran soon, Iranian official says

Macron says Iran misunderstands France’s ‘balanced’ position in region

Germany to spend 10 mln Euros to help clear mines in Syria

Russia 'invariably' supports sovereignty of Lebanon

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South Asia

ISIS And Taliban Operating With Similar Ideology In Afghanistan: Abdullah

Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta condemn deadly Taliban attack on Afghan forces in Kandahar

Card. D’Rozario: Pope’s Visit Will Be A "Pilgrimage To The Soul Of Bangladesh"

Understanding the religious context of Bangladesh and Myanmar

India and Israel using Afghan soil against Pakistan, claims Maulana Sami

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Africa

Mali: Peacekeepers Increasingly Caught In Mali Crossfire

El-zakzaky’s continued detention: Clerics lament silence of Human Rights Community

Libyan militant captured in Egypt claims al-Qaeda link

UN seeks to put human rights experts into new Sahel force

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/saudi-arabia-birthplace-of-‘lethal-poison’-of-takfirism,-says-iran/d/113267

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Saudi Arabia birthplace of ‘lethal poison’ of Takfirism, says Iran

Nov 18, 2017

A senior Iranian diplomat at the United Nations (UN) says Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the dangerous ideology known as Takfirism, which is employed by such terrorist groups as Daesh.

Responding to earlier remarks by a Saudi UN diplomat, Iran’s Counsellor and Permanent Representative to the UN Mohammad Hassani-Nejad said on Friday, “One cannot afford to underestimate the toxic danger that is the Saudi-born ideology of Takfirism.”

On November 14, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted a Canadian-drafted non-binding human rights resolution against Iran with 83 votes in favor, 30 against, and 68 abstentions. Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi said afterwards that Iran had adopted a sectarian approach in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria and that the resolution shed light on what he called human rights violations taking place in Iran.

Hassani-Nejad said in his Friday remarks that Saudi Arabia was presenting “its inherent sectarianism and prejudice as support for human rights.”

“There is hardly a more foolish thing in the world of politics than Saudi Arabia presenting its inherent sectarianism and prejudice as support for human rights,” the Iranian diplomat said.

‘The predator species’

Takfirism is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by Saudi clerics. Followers of the extremely intolerant ideology invoke “decrees” by Saudi clerics that declare people of other faiths and beliefs as “infidels” and rule that they should be killed.

“The Saudi-born Takfiri ideology,” Hassani-Nejad said, “acts like the predator species, which seeks to have all other species go extinct. The Saudi government, Saudi charities, and Saudi-backed organization continue to be supporting this lethal poison (Takfirism), which provides the necessary hardware and software for terrorism and extremism.”

He said the Saudi envoy’s “lies” did not change the fact that “Saudi Arabia is behind terrorism and the... ideology that nourishes it.”

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/18/542586/Iran-Mohammad-HassaniNejad-UN-Saudi-Arabia-birthplace-Takfirism

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Upper House unanimously passes bill to boost Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clauses

By Ijaz Kakakhel

NOVEMBER 18, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Upper House of parliament on Friday passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 with a majority after the National Assembly unanimously approved revival of 7B and 7C clauses of the bill, relating to Khatm-e-Nabuwwat.

The bill was tabled by Law Minister Zahid Hamid during the session headed by Chairman Raza Rabbani. The bill will take the form of law after being signed by President Mamnoon Hussain.

Speaking on the occasion, Zahid Hamid said that after mutual consensus, sections 7B and 7C of the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002, had been restored to their original form via the bill. The bill seeks to incorporate and reaffirm the provisions of articles 7B and 7C of the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002, through addition of a new Section 48A in the Elections Act, 2017.

Section 7B states that the status of Ahmadis remains as stated in the constitution, whereas Section 7C says that if enrolled voters’ belief in the finality of prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is contended, they shall have to sign a declaration reaffirming their belief, failing which their “name shall be deleted from the joint electoral rolls and added to a supplementary list of voters in the same electoral area as non-Muslim.”

The minister said, “We are Muslims and believe in the finality of the Prophet (PBUH).” Zahid Hamid said the status of Qadiyanis would continue as non-Muslims. He said if a person gets himself or herself enrolled as Muslim in the voters’ list, any other person could challenge this before the revising authority where he or she would be required to sign the declaration of the finality of prophethood.

He said if the person refuses to sign that declaration then he shall be deemed as non-Muslim, and his vote will be expunged from the list of Muslim voters and be included in the non-Muslims’ list.

Speaking on the occasion, Senate Deputy Chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haidri said that this bill had ensured that the matter of the finality of prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) remains as it is in the 1973 Constitution. Congratulating the nation on the restoration of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause, Haidri said, “Our belief has been secured once again.”

Meanwhile, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan maintained that the government’s role in the situation prevailing in the capital was nowhere to be seen. “The PM and ministers are present in Jati Umra. More protests will be held in Islamabad and the city will become a hostage,” he said.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/142304/upper-house-unanimously-passes-bill-boost-khatm-e-nabuwwat-clauses/

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US Congress passes bill delinking Haqqani network from LeT

November 18, 2017

WASHINGTON: The US Congress has approved a bill that requires Pakistan to cooperate with the Afghan and American forces to act against the Haqqani Network but leaves out Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Washington desires to keep its focus on Afghanistan and encourage Pakistan to cooperate, therefore, delinking an India-specific group with the Haqqani Network could discourage Pakistan from cooperating with the US in the war in Afghanistan.

The approved bill— National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018—provides about $700 billion for US defence needs in 2018.

The NDA 2018, which was passed on Thursday evening, also provides $700 million for reimbursing Pakistan for monitoring the Pak-Afghan border but withholds half of the amount.

The $350m is conditional on Pakistan’s contributions to the war against terror which will be decided by the US defence secretary.

On Friday, the bill was sent to President Donald Trump for signing it into a law.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/18/us-congress-passes-bill-delinking-haqqani-network-from-let/

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Block porn or be blocked, Indonesia warns Google, Twitter

November 18, 2017

Indonesia has threatened to bar the world’s biggest social-media providers from operating in the country unless they comply with stringent demands to filter pornography and other content deemed obscene.

Twitter Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and a host of companies have been put on notice by Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara, who warned that “all platforms” now face serious consequences if they don’t adhere to government requests to block content.

“The worst case is I will not allow them to be in Indonesia," Rudiantara, who uses one name, said in an interview on Thursday. "We are focusing on content. If you violate content then you are violating rules and laws in Indonesia.”

A country of 260 million people, Indonesia is a prolific user of social media. But the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population has also become increasingly concerned about its use to spread material related to terrorism and racial violence, as well as pornography and child abuse. Twitter, Google and Facebook are all also blocked in China.

Indonesia last week threatened to block the use of Facebook Inc.’s messaging service WhatsApp unless it removed obscene content available as GIF images. WhatsApp was allowed to continue operating after agreements to filter images and videos were reached with third-party services that provide GIFs.

Read also: Google, Facebook join news organizations in 'Trust Project'

Summoning Executives

Samuel Abrijani, Director-General for Application and Informatics at the Communications Ministry, said executives from Google and Twitter would be summoned for meetings with government officials to discuss what action they would take to monitor content. He gave no details on timing.

Representatives for Google and Twitter in Asia didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The minister, who’s previously served on the boards of PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia and PT Indosat, said he wanted to work with content providers to help improve the literacy of Indonesians. “They must at this stage help us to filter content that violates the rules and regulations of the country,” he said.

Facebook Users

He said Google has shown “the most good will” and had been receptive to requests to help monitor social media. Facebook, which counts almost 90 million Indonesians among its users, has also previously agreed to work with the government.

Amid the crackdown on social media platforms, President Joko Widodo has also ordered the development of the nation’s digital economy as a priority. The digital economy may be worth $130 billion by 2020, Rudiantara said.

Read also: Minister promises countrywide high-speed internet 'before 2024'

Indonesia has recruited Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma as an adviser to help it reach its digital goal, particularly around the development of payment systems and logistics.

"I want to sell Indonesia. I want to make Indonesia more competitive across the international landscape, so I need people like Jack Ma," Rudiantara said. He wants the billionaire businessman to be "a guru for the development of human capital, not only to support Indonesia but to support the region."

Some of the companies caught up in the crackdown have also previously fallen afoul of the Indonesian government over tax compliance. Tax authorities have been in a long-running dispute with Google and have also set their sights on Apple Inc., as well as Twitter, Yahoo! Inc. and Facebook.

Rudiantara said Thursday that he plans to issue a ministerial decree by the end of the year that will toughen rules for foreign companies operating in the communications sector. The measure, he said, would address three key issues, including ensuring companies pay tax, adhere to their legal obligations and provide customer service.

While they may not necessarily be required to have a local office, they would need to have some kind of presence, such as representation by a third party, he said. Indonesian content providers had complained that they were being “chased” while other companies weren’t paying taxes.

“There must be a level playing field,” Rudiantara said.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2017/11/18/block-porn-or-be-blocked-indonesia-warns-google-twitter.html

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Regret RBI Decision To Not Pursue Islamic Banking: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

November 17, 2017

Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday expressed regret over the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision not to pursue the proposal of introducing Islamic banking in the country.

“Govt (is) blinded to the benefits that Islamic banking can bring to its people and overall economy. As per the IMF, Islamic finance assets grew at a double-digit growth rate from $200 US billion in 2003 to $1.8 trillion at the end of 2013 that include non-Muslim countries (like) China, Germany, UK & US,” Mirwaiz said in his Twitter post.

In a major move, the central bank has decided not to pursue a proposal to introduce Islamic banking in the country. Replying to an RTI query, the RBI said the decision was taken after considering the wider and equal opportunities available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.

Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.

Mirwaiz said the people of Kashmir have been demanding Islamic banking for a long time now. “Express regret at Govt of India’s rejection to introduce #IslamiBanking due to its politically motivated religious agenda. #Kashmir has been demanding Islamic banking for a long time to accrue of the benefits of banking as per Islamic law and in turn help the economic growth of J&K,” the separatist leader, who is also the chief preacher of Kashmir, said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/regret-rbi-decision-to-not-pursue-islamic-banking-mirwaiz-umar-farooq-4942218/

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Mideast

 

Iran warns Saudi over 'baseless claims', 'destabilizing' role

Nov 17, 2017

Tehran has warned Riyadh against keeping up its rhetorical blame game against Iran and its divisive policies in the region a day after the Saudi foreign minister once again targeted Iran with a flurry of baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic.

Speaking to Reuters, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said Thursday that the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were a response to what he called “Iranian aggression.”

Responding to the allegation, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi highlighted the Saudi regime’s “highly destructive actions” in the region, saying the Riyadh regime cannot evade its responsibility for such policies by resorting to blame games and political gestures.

Qassemi cautioned Riyadh against maintaining its long-winded rhetoric against Iran as well as its destabilizing and divisive moves in the region.

The countries of the region have seen no positive action on the part of the Saudi government over the recent several years, he added.

The Iranian official further said the kingdom has been violating human rights, trying to sow division among Arab and Muslim countries, repeating and propagating unfounded and baseless claims, and laying economic siege on its neighbors.

Moreover, Qassemi said, Riyadh has been threatening other countries with taking war to their soil, pressuring other countries’ officials to resign and trampling on their dignity, interfering in others’ affairs to bring about destabilization, and trying to sabotage international agreements.

“Such policies send a serious warning to the entire region and the world, and should come to an end as soon as possible,” the official asserted.

Either through direct or proxy wars, Riyadh has been trying to advance its agenda throughout the region over the past years.

Among other measures, it has been bombing Yemen to restore its favorite government there, supporting anti-government militants in Syria, helping Bahrain crush dissent, and laying, together with its allies, an embargo on Qatar.

Most recently, Riyadh also pressured Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on Saudi soil-- a move that triggered international outcry against interference in the country’s internal affairs.

And now, it has threatened to take more serious actions against Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, which it has been trying to weaken for more than a decade, despite the group’s long-standing contribution to Lebanon’s security.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/17/542495/Iran-Saudi-Arabia-Bahram-Qassemi

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Saudi siege of Yemen leaves three cities without clean water: Red Cross

Nov 17, 2017

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the Saudi blockade has left three cities in Yemen running out of clean water due to a halt in the import of fuel needed for pumping and sanitation.

The ICRC said in a statement on Friday that nearly one million people in the Yemeni cities of Ta'izz, Sa’ada and Hudaydah were now deprived of clean water and sanitation, warning of “a renewed cholera outbreak.”

"With imports of fuel and other essential goods at a standstill for the past ten days, three Yemeni cities had to stop providing clean water in recent days, putting close to one million people at risk of a renewed cholera outbreak and other water-borne diseases," the ICRC said.

The ICRC also stated that other cities, including the capital Sana’a, were expected to be in the same situation within two weeks.

"The water and sewage systems in Hudaydah, Sa’ada and Ta'izz stopped operating because of a lack of fuel," Alexandre Faite, the head of the ICRC in Yemen, said in the statement.

On November 6, Saudi Arabia announced that it was shutting down Yemen’s air, sea, and land borders, after Yemeni fighters targeted an international airport near the Saudi capital with a cruise missile.

The United Nations made a plea for the Saudi war machine to remove its blockade, warning that without aid shipments “untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die” and that its partial lifting was not enough.

Iolanda Jacquemet, an ICRC spokeswoman in Geneva, said, "If these water treatment plants and sewage plants stop working, it can only bring cholera back and other water-borne diseases."

Jacquemet added that "We're very scared that cholera might come back," referring to the huge outbreak of cholera in Sana’a in April just 10 days after the sewage treatment plant had stopped working over lack of fuel.

Some 2,100 people have died of cholera since April as hospitals struggle to secure basic supplies across the country. The epidemic had been on the wane for weeks in Yemen, although new cases are still running at around 2,600 per day. Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/17/542562/Saudi-siege-Yemen-water

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Nato chief apologises to Turkey over drill 'incident'

November 18, 2017

BRUSSELS - The head of Nato apologised Friday over a training exercise in Norway after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew troops in protest at an incident he deemed offensive.

Erdogan said he had ordered the 40 troops to be removed from the exercise - a desktop drill not involving boots on the ground - after an image of the founder of modern Turkey , Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and his own name were included as "targets".

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, apologised for upsetting Turkey , a key member of the alliance but one which has caused disquiet recently with its increasingly close relations with Russia. "I apologise for the offense that has been caused. The incidents were the result of an individual's actions and do not reflect the views of Nato," Stoltenberg said in a statement.

"Turkey is a valued Nato ally, which makes important contributions to allied security."

The Trident Javelin exercise in Stavanger, southern Norway, is described on a Nato website as a "computer assisted exercise without troops on the ground", aimed at improving command structures for big operations.

The decision by Ankara, a Nato member since 1952, to buy the S-400 air defence system from Russia caused concern among its Western allies, but Turkey remains an important and active member of the alliance.

Stoltenberg was at pains to stress that the individual responsible for the incident was not one of Nato's staff.

"He was a civilian contractor seconded by Norway and not a Nato employee," Stoltenberg said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/18-Nov-2017/nato-chief-apologises-to-turkey-over-drill-incident

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Turkish Delegation's Visit to Idlib Reveals Ties with Al-Nusra Front

Nov 16, 2017

The Arabic-language al-Hadath news website reported on Thursday that Governor of Hatay province Salib Mohammed Erish along with a number of other Turkish officials have traveled to Idlib city in Syria, visiting several districts.

Observers believe that their trip to al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) main stronghold in Syria, Idlib, is suspicious, specially when Ankara, as one of the peace guarantors in Astana talks, has stressed the need for fighting the al-Nusra in Idlib under the agreement to create de-escalation zones in Syria.

They also said that the visit not only shows close ties between Ankara and al-Nusra but also indicates that Turkey doesn’t intend to drive the terrorist group out of Idlib province.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian Army troops continued to advance against the Al-Nusra Front towards Idlib province after winning control over several hills, towns and villages in Northeastern Hama.

The army men pushed Al-Nusra back from the small town of Mawilah, Tal (hill) Mahsar and the village of al-Jamileh North of the small town of al-Hamra.

The army soldiers also captured al-Banat hill North of the village of al-Rabi'eh.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960825000778

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Saudi relief official: Yemeni ports controlled by legitimate forces are open

18 November 2017

Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Rabeeah has confirmed that Yemeni ports under legitimate forces control are open for humanitarian aid to Yemen.

Over the last two and a half years Saudi Arabia has provided major aid for the Yemeni people, said Rabeeah during a high-level meeting on Friday in Rome for cooperation towards continued peace in Yemen. The aid surpasses a total of eight billion dollars, he added.

Rabeeah noted that the aid has supported areas under legitimate forces control and areas under militia control.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/18/Abdullah-al-Rabeeah-Yemeni-ports-under-legitimate-forces-control-are-open.html

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Pakistan

 

Taliban to hold ‘unofficial’ talks with Afghan officials

Tahir Khan

NOVEMBER 18, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Taliban representatives will join members of the Afghanistan government-backed peace council, most probably in a Gulf country, to explore ways for finding a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, an invitee to the meet said Friday.

Nazar Mutmaeen, an Afghan political analyst, confirmed to Daily Times from Kabul that the Afghanistan Peace Studies Organisation (APSO), a Kabul-based non-governmental organisation, would organise the meeting.

He said the meeting would be held in a Gulf country, which would be attended by Taliban political envoys in Qatar. “No date has been decided for the meeting; however, efforts are underway to hold it soon.” He did not offer more comments.

The APSO said in Kabul that the primary agenda of the meeting would be to remove obstacles to peace process and find ways to improve the trust deficit between the two sides and to move forward with mutual consent.

“In addition to this objective, other important issues such as protection of civilians during the armed conflict, role of women and youth in the peace process, freedom of press and other important issues such as health, education and human rights, would also be discussed,” according to Pajhwok news agency.

Afghan sources had earlier told Daily Times that the meeting was planned to be held in Dubai; however, the United Arab Emirate authorities denied visas to those Taliban officials who were on the sanction list of the UN Security Council.

An Arab source, who was aware of the meeting, said the organisers had not provided complete information to the UAE that had annoyed officials there.

Taliban have long been demanding removal of the names of their leaders from the Security Council’s list so they can take part in peace efforts; however, their calls had not received a positive response from the Afghan government. President Ashraf Ghani and his Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah, on a number of occasions, had urged the United Nations to slap sanctions on the Taliban chief Maulvi Haibtullah Akhundzadah and others.

In December 2016, Kabul had angrily reacted to statement by Russia and China, permanent members of the UN Security Council, in which they reaffirmed their readiness for “flexible approaches to the prospect of excluding Taliban leaders from the list of sanctioned persons” as part of efforts to promote a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement.

Taliban sources said political representatives would attend the meeting, as they “were encouraging unofficial meetings with fellow Afghans to explore ways for negotiated settlement of the problem”.

The UAE refusal of granting visas to some Taliban leaders show differences between the two sides. Relations between the Taliban and the UAE have been under pressure since the attack in Kandahar in January this year, which killed the UAE ambassador and five of its diplomats.

The Taliban had denied involvement and blamed the internal rift within the Afghan officials in Kandahar. There were suspicions about Kandahar police chief General Abdul Razaq as he had left the guesthouse just few minutes before the bomb went off. Despite the Taliban denial, some Afghan officials insisted that the Taliban were behind the deadly attack in the highly secured guesthouse of the Kandahar governor. A former Dubai police chief had suspected the involvement of Afghan officials in the attack.

Taliban had earlier good contacts with the UAE and the Taliban would also have meetings with officials of other countries in Dubai instead of Qatar.

As efforts are underway for unofficial meeting between the Taliban leaders and Afghan leaders, China has also intensified its diplomatic efforts for the peace process.

In this connection, Chinese Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun Friday met the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, the military said.

Matters of mutual interest, including regional security issues with particular emphasis on Pak-Afghan border management and counter-terrorism efforts, were discussed during the meeting, an army statement said. The visiting dignitary appreciated and acknowledged Pakistan Army’s contributions and Pakistan’s sacrifices in war against terrorism, the statement added.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/142271/taliban-hold-unofficial-talks-afghan-officials/

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State writ intact, no parallel Taliban set-up in Wana, say tribal elders

BY HAMID KHAN WAZIR

November 18, 2017

WANA/ISLAMABAD: The tribal elders and ulema of Ahmedzai tribe, while denouncing the rumours pertaining to the Taliban’s return to South Waziristan’s headquarters Wana under the guise of ‘peace committee’, termed it an act of sabotage to disrupt the hard-won peace in the region.

During the hurriedly-called press conference in Wana, they said that conspirators are hell-bent on disrupting the unprecedented peace in the area; however, they would not be allowed to succeed in their nefarious designs come what may.

Prominent religious scholar Maulana Taj Muhammad, Maulana Sultan Wazir, Malik Rehmatullah Wazir and Malik Kher Muhammad and Maulana Mirza Jan among others were present on the occasion.

They said that “exemplary peace” has been restored in Wana thanks to matchless sacrifices; hence such sabotaging bid wouldn’t succeed in upsetting the harmony.

The elders of Ahmedzai Wazir were of the view that, unfortunately, false and fabricated reports were being spread under a well-devised plan to create unrest in the area; however, the conspirators wouldn’t be allowed to succeed in their nefarious designs to disturb the peaceful environment in the area.

“The tribal elders have signed an agreement with the government back in 2007, during which a 120-member committee was constituted, which is still intact,” they vowed.

They said that the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe launched an operation against foreigners, during which 40 members of the peace lashker were also martyred.

The elders were of the view that the government’s writ is fully established in the area, and the tribal elders were fully cooperating with the military, FC and political administration in restoring peace in the region.

They offered that the national and international media should visit Wana so as they could see the exemplary peace in the area, adding that there was neither a ban on cultural and social activities nor any restriction on movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.

“Since there is no existence of Taliban in the area, so what to talk of an establishment of a parallel Taliban administration in the area,” the elders claimed.

It is pertinent to mention here that a report surfaced that a faction of the Taliban has apparently made a comeback to Wana under the guise of a peace committee headed by Salahuddin alias Ayubi, a successor of Mullah Muhammad Nazir, and placed a ban on cultural and social activities, putting restrictions on the movement of women outside their homes without male members of their family.

The report added that the so-called peace committee issued tough guidelines through pamphlets in Wana, warning local people to abide by these rules, otherwise, “violators would face repercussions”.

Meanwhile, the political administration of South Waziristan Agency clarified that unknown elements had circulated pamphlets late last month warning people against holding “cultural and social activities” like music and dance.

“A few ‘criminal-minded’ people who were not representing the tribes or will of the people in Wana held a meeting to ban certain social activities,” said an official statement issued by the administration.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/17/state-writ-intact-no-parallel-taliban-set-up-in-wana-say-tribal-elders/

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Top BLF commander suspected of Turbat massacre killed

November 18, 2017

RAWALPINDI: A suspected terrorist allegedly involved in the recent killing of 15 migrants near Turbat was killed during an intelligence-based operation near the Alandur, Abdur Rehman village in Turbat, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

Younis Taukali, one of the eight top commanders of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), was killed in a shootout with the Frontier Corps (FC).

Taukali was killed 20 kilometres west of Buleda and 25km north of where the bullet-riddled bodies of 15 migrants, mostly hailing from Punjab, were found on Wednesday.

The ISPR said Taukali was killed in an exchange of fire after the area was cordoned off and the terrorist opened fire at the raiding party.

A number of human smugglers have been apprehended in a wide-ranging crackdown in Punjab since then.

The migrants had been looking to cross into Iran on their way to Europe.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/11/17/top-blf-commander-suspected-of-turbat-massacre-killed/

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Saeed’s plea against detention deferred

November 18, 2017

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday adjourned hearing of a petition of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed against his detention to wait for a decision on the matter by a provincial review board.

As Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmad resumed hearing, a deputy attorney general stated that a provincial review board comprising judges of the high court was scheduled to take up the detention matter of Mr Saeed on Nov 21. He said the court should adjourn hearing of the petition till a decision of the review board was out. The judge accepted the request and deferred the hearing till Nov 22.

The provincial review board had on Oct 18 approved one-month extension in detention of Hafiz Saeed while accepting an application of the government. However, the board had rejected the application regarding four other leaders of the organisation, including Qazi Kashif Niaz, Prof Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Abdullah Obaid, and released them.

The provincial government had detained the JuD leaders under Maintenance of Pubic Order as recommended by the federal government.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1371230/saeeds-plea-against-detention-deferred

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Maulana Samiul Haq in favour of FATA-KP merger

Ahmad Nabi

NOVEMBER 18, 2017

KHYBER AGENCY: Jamiat Ullema-e-Islam-S (JUI-S) ameer Maulana Sami ul Haq said that for the last 70 years, tribesmen had been subjugated in their own county and deprived of their fundamental rights.

He said that merging Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was the only solution to remove that sense of deprivation.

He expressed these views while addressing a FATA reforms gathering held at Hospital Square Landi Kotal on Friday.

A large number of party workers, ex-parliamentarians, tribesmen, political volunteers and masses participated in the moot.

Maulana Samiul Haq said that just like citizens in other parts of the country, tribesmen should be granted their basic rights so that they could live with respect.

For the last 70 years, our tribes had been confined and had their fundamental rights negated, he said, adding that JUI-S would join hands with the tribes to get their rights.

“Merging of the tribal belt with KP is not only as per wishes of the tribes but it will guarantee their liberties and will ease their hardships,” Maulana remarked.

Samiul Haq demanded imposition of Shariah in the whole country and said Islam divine law ensured rights of every single citizen of the country and that they had been striving for its implementation for the last 30 years.

He maintained that presence of America in Afghanistan caused unrest in Pakistan and tribesmen suffered a lot due to the war in Afghanistan. He stressed for restoration of cordial relations between two neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan and disapproved the acts that defamed the tribesmen.

Member National Assembly (MNA) Shahjee Gul Afridi said that in the near future, FATA would get freedom from the draconian law, Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR), and would be merged with KP. He urged the locals to vote for those candidates who were true representatives of the tribes.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/142209/maulana-samiul-haq-favour-fata-kp-merger/

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North America

 

Canada won’t use death squads to hunt ISIL fighters

18 November 2017

Canada does not engage in “death squads”, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Friday, unlike Britain, the United States and France who are trying to kill their citizens who fight for ISIL in Syria.

Now that ISIL has been defeated in Syria, most countries from which people left and enlisted on the extremi side are concerned they will return to their home countries and engage in terrorist activities, hence the hunt and kill strategy.

Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy for the battle against ISIL, put it succinctly during a recent tip to Syria.

“Our mission is to make sure that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came to Syria, that they will die here in Syria,” he said.

But at the three-day Halifax International Security Forum that opened Friday, Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan echoed Goodale’s words. The Canadians who joined ISIL can return to Canada, where they will be monitored for any terrorist activities.

“We will make sure that we put every type of resource into place so that Canadians are well protected,” Sajjan told delegates at the Halifax forum.

Christian Leuprecht, a Canadian expert on terrorism and security, said adopting an assassination policy like some countries would likely run contrary to Canadian law.

Canadian officials estimated there are more than 200 who joined ISIL and Leuprecht sounded an ominous note when it comes to returning extremi fighters.

Ruling out death squads in Syria to wipe them out and successfully convicting them of terrorist activities in court, leaves “the third option…that they just show up and live peacefully ever after. Or not so peacefully.”

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/196035/canada-wont-use-death-squads-to-hunt-isil-fighters

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Canada 'concerned' about human rights abuses in Myanmar

17 November 2017

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement on Thursday welcoming the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee resolution about human rights violations in Myanmar.

Freeland said, “Today, Canada and the international community denounce the unconscionable human rights abuses being committed against the Rohingya people and other persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar."

“States are responsible for protecting their people from ethnic cleansing and from human rights abuses. We urge the military and civilian authorities in Myanmar to do everything in their power to end the violence, to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to fully implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-chaired Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

“Canada calls on all parties to uphold their human rights obligations and to allow for a safe and voluntary return home by the Rohingya," she added.

Since Aug. 25, the military clampdown in Rakhine has seen security forces and Buddhist mobs kill men, women, and children, including babies, according to the UN. Rohingya homes have been looted and villages torched. The army has committed killings, tortures and rapes forcing more than 617,000 Rohingya to flee to bordering Bangladesh.

In September, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali said around 3,000 Rohingya were killed in the crackdown.

In a recent report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/196005/canada-concerned-about-human-rights-abuses-in-myanmar

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US now has significantly more troops in Somalia

Nov 17, 2017

The Pentagon has revealed that the United States now has some 500 troops on the ground in Somalia even as it denies a “build-up” of forces in the African country.

The Pentagon announced in a statement on Thursday that there were now more than 500 US troops on the ground in Somalia, Fox News reported on Friday. That would be a significant increase in the number of American soldiers in Somalia since early 2014, when roughly two dozen US troops arrived there for the first time since 1993.

US Africa Command has also said that there have been 28 US airstrikes in Somalia this year, mostly from drones and against purported al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants.

The US also carried out its first airstrike against purported Daesh positions in Somalia earlier this month.

Build-up in Africa

Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., who is the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, at a press briefing on Thursday denied that the increase in the number of US troops in Somalia was a “build up.” He said there was a “flow of forces in and out” of the country.

“I’m not going to discuss exact troop levels. I think we’re a little under that 500 total, actually. I think it’s closer to 400, is probably what we — what we operate there,” he said.

The US military recently conducted six straight days of airstrikes in Somalia — from last Thursday to Tuesday, according to US media.

Fox News reported that in addition to Somalia, the US military had conducted over 100 airstrikes in Yemen.

In October, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, claimed that Daesh “has aspirations to establish a larger presence” in Africa after being pushed out of Syria and Iraq.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/17/542518/US-Somalia-troops-500-Pentagon-buildup

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Southeast Asia

 

Increased Centralisation Has Curbed Religious Freedom: Islamic Renaissance Front

Robin Augustin

November 18, 2017

PETALING JAYA: The increasing centralisation of executive power over the years has resulted in the regression of religious freedom in Malaysia, particularly in relation to Islam, says the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).

Speaking at the Malaysia Freedom Summit, IRF programme director Ehsan Shahwahid said in the past, religious matters were solely in the hands of the state.

“But with the expansion of new institutions, such as the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), now almost all matters of religion were being institutionalised under authorities funded by the government and governed by religious institutions.

“This has meant that freedom isn’t promoted in matters of religion. So, how can the state of freedom in Malaysia progress?”

Ehsan said the prevailing perception was that freedom was not in line with religion, although the IRF thought otherwise.

He said freedom was fundamental to religion as it gave any religion a sense of purity, sincerity, faith and conviction.

“Without these, a person cannot achieve the goals of being a human in this world.

“If we live in a world without freedom of thought, we tend to make assumptions about what is considered religious, which leaves us open to manipulation,” Ehsan said.

He added that the IRF had got into trouble before for promoting freedom of thought, including having events they organised cancelled and books they published banned.

In October, the home ministry banned several Malay-language books on Islam, including a translation of a book by prominent Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol, published by the IRF.

The government also arrested and deported Akyol, after he gave a talk in the country.

Ehsan noted that while there was some progress of economic and political freedoms, religious freedom had regressed.

“Today, we can have a summit on freedom and talk freely, which 30 to 40 years ago was unlikely. In the past, we needed permits for talks like this.

“I’m not saying we have a good standard of political freedom, but clearly, there is progress.

“But when you look at the Rukun Negara and the Federal Constitution, you get a feeling that we used to have more freedom and openness.”

According to Ehsan, over the last decade, religion had become a more sensitive issue, with increased restrictions and limitations imposed on it.

He said this had not only affected Muslims, such as in the case of the Shia sect being declared deviant, but also non-Muslims, with the ban on the use of the word “Allah” by Malay-speaking Christians.

Ehsan said religious freedom has also regressed because of its high political value in the country, which was used to attract support from the people. Another reason was the lack of education on freedom in Malaysia.

“In Jakarta, matters like freedom and multiculturalism are taught not only in public schools but even in religious classes.”

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/11/18/irf-increased-centralisation-has-curbed-religious-freedom/

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Najib’s wasatiyyah not the real deal, says Zaid

November 17, 2017

PETAlING JAYA: Former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim today challenged an academic’s claim that non-Muslims’ scepticism of the wasatiyyah (moderation) promoted by the government was due to Islamophobia, saying the real reason has nothing to do with Islam.

The real reason, according to Zaid, is the fact that the wasatiyyah frequently invoked by Prime Minister Najib Razak in his speeches is “not the real deal”.

“Muslims and non-Muslims alike reject his idea of wasatiyyah because it is phoney.

“Under this prime minister’s stewardship, Malaysia has ceased to be a moderate and stable Muslim country. Under his leadership, we have seen the non-Muslim community grow increasingly distrustful of Islam, and for good reason,” he said in a blog post today.

The DAP member said Najib’s wasatiyyah was not real as the prime minister showed no moderation in his actions.

“He does not speak the truth but uses vulgar language at public functions. He uses his powers to emasculate public institutions, so it is genuinely confusing when the professors describe him as ‘moderate’.”

Zaid was responding to remarks by Professor Teo Kok Seong from the National Council of Professors, who said yesterday that Islamophobia was to blame for some non-Muslims’ scepticism of wasatiyyah.

Citing a survey by an academic from the Islamic Studies Department of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Teo said many non-Muslims rejected the concept as they saw it as part of Islamisation.

“This is because non-Muslims and non-Malays have the wrong perception of Islam, be it as a religion or a way of life,” he said.

However, Zaid said Najib’s idea of wasatiyyah was rejected by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

“Non-Muslims are not the only ones who are wary of the prime minister’s wasatiyyah, as many Muslims like me are fearful of what the country is becoming.”

Zaid gave the example of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) relationship with PAS, which he called “a useless party that promotes rule by Islamic theologians” and “a party that will destroy liberty and freedom, and endanger democracy and racial tolerance in Malaysia”.

“Never before has any BN prime minister – except during the critical situation post-1969 when our second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak made peaceful overtures to PAS – ever considered PAS to be a moderate party.

“Yet this is the party that our wasatiyyah leader considers an ally.”

Under Najib’s “wasatiyyah” rule, Zaid said, Malaysians lived in fear of government-funded religious zealots and extremists.

“Liberals with progressive ideas are labelled ‘deviant’ and are stopped from speaking, and the public events they plan are not given the approval to be held.

“Books and festivals have been banned, as have foreign Muslim academics who are invited here for speaking engagements. Moreover, members of Parliament have been prohibited from travelling.

“And yet, incendiary preachers like Zakir Naik, Zamihan Mat Zin and thousands of their ilk roam the country to preach ideas that we do not need, and that are inimical to the country’s wellbeing,” he said.

Zaid said it would be hypocrisy of the highest degree if the members of the National Council of Professors did not acknowledge what even the Malay rulers had spoken up about.

“So don’t blame the non-Muslims for not understanding and accepting Najib’s wasatiyyah.

“We all live in fear of the country turning into a Somali version of an Islamic state. Our fears are fully justified.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/11/17/najibs-wasatiyyah-not-the-real-deal-says-zaid/

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Malaysian Constitution in line with Islam, Arab scholar says

BY SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID

November 18, 2017

SUBANG JAYA, Nov 18 — Any legal system and style of governance that protect lives, property and freedom of faith are already consistent with the Islamic tenets of justice, an Arab scholar said today.

Jasser Auda, a distinguished professor at the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies in Brunei, told a forum here that views Muslims should only be governed by the Shariah were factually wrong, and defended Malaysia’s dual legal systems.

“Your Constitution, so as long as it ensures peace and your country is stable and fair, there is no requirement to change it,” Jasser said.

“What is not tolerated in Islam is mischief or injustice, which means there are crime or poverty or sorts.

“As long as the five key (tenets) of the maqasid shariah are preserved, it (civil law) is fine,” he added.

Jasser spoke as a guest speaker at the “Reclaiming The Centre: The Role of Religion in a Multiracial Society”.

Maqasid means “purpose” or “objective” in Arabic. Maqasid shariah refers to the higher objective or goals of the shariah or laws which are there to protect five elements considered crucial to a Muslim’s life.

They are: the right to faith, life, lineage, property, and the mind or intellect.

Jasser, expert on Islamic jurisprudence and the maqasid shariah, said any legal system that preserves the five elements can be considered Islamic.

He dismissed the idea that only an “Islamic state” practised the true shariah, citing historical studies that included revelations from the Muslims’ Holy scripture, the Quran, to show that the religion had never espoused the idea of an Islamic nation state.

“If you look at the Quran… there was a revelation that referred to the Prophet Joseph (Yusuf in Arabic) who was the prime minister in the Egyptian government during the times of the pharaohs.

“But the Quran did not say anything about the style of governance. What it did mention was the cruelty of the pharaoh (at the time) in the sense that he (the pharaoh) fragmented his people to rise in power,” Jasser explained.

The scholar also cited historical studies to show that Prophet Muhammad did not try to establish an Islamic state.

Jasser said evidence like documents and scriptures found during the Muhammad’s time showed the Prophet’s political leadership focused mostly on administering justice, not ideology.

The scholar also pointed to covenants between Muslims and the Jews of Madinah as well as between Muslims and pagans of Mecca that showed Muhammad had only wanted the freedom to practise his faith and preach, and not the establishment of an “Islamic government”.

“Muhammad never sought to create an Islamic state or take over (the leadership or government) of the time… what he did set up at the time was the Alliance (or League) of Virtuous,” Jasser said.

The alliance, called the Hilf al-Fudul in Arabic, was a pact created by Meccans in the 7th century for fair trade. Muhammad was a key figure behind its formation and went on to honour the pact even after founding Islam.

Jasser said the fact Muhammad continued the alliance with non-Muslim members and maintained the pact even when he had amassed a large following showed he had no political ambition beyond ensuring the freedom of his followers to practise their faith and live normally.

PAS and other conservative Islamists pushing to make Malaysia an Islamic state often paint the country’s legal system as not Islamic.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysian-constitution-in-line-with-islam-arab-scholar-says#yRxAw5drE8wTkdwc.97

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Indonesian millennials lean towards xenophobia

By JOHN MCBETH

NOVEMBER 18, 2017

While most of Indonesia’s youth appears to have a worldly outlook, recent surveys show some troubling insights into the minds of a significant minority of the two Indonesian generations who hold the Muslim majority country’s future in their hands.

One poll, carried out by the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reveals a strong lean towards xenophobia, with 47.8% of millennial respondents believing that foreign companies have a negative impact on Indonesia’s economy.

Another survey published by the Mata Air Foundation and the Alvara Research Center shows 20% of high school and university students, the so-called Generation Z, support the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and in many cases vowed they would fight to defend it.

While 85 million of Indonesia’s 250 million people are aged between 18 and 34, the definition of what constitutes a millennial varies. CSIS puts it in a range of 17 to 29 years. Others define it at 23 to 37, or those simply born in a loose period between 1980 and the early 1990s.

If most of the world’s youth today are perceived to be tolerant and open-minded, WARC, an online marketing intelligence service, found in a well-researched consumer study last year called ‘Demystifying Indonesia’ that younger Indonesians tend to be an exception.

The research showed that although Indonesia may seem modern and outward-looking – and is one of the most social media-connected countries in the world — societal change is happening only slowly. Successful brands, for example, often rely on traditional values to sell their products.

The CSIS poll also revealed a perception, shared among 76-77% of millennials and, in this case, non-millennials as well, that foreign workers are detrimental to the economy, apparently in the widely-held belief that they are poaching local jobs.

In fact, Indonesia already has one of the lowest intakes in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), with the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) noting that the 74,100 registered foreign workers constitute just 0.062% of the 120 million-strong work force, compared with Singapore (36%), Malaysia (15.3%) and Thailand (4.5%).

Strangely, 84% of millennials thought the Asean Economic Community was good for the economy, unaware it promotes the free movement of skilled labor across regional borders, initially in the engineering, medical and tourist sectors where there is stiff opposition from Indonesia’s professional organizations.

The current number of foreign workers is higher than the 45,300 Bank Indonesia recorded in a 2009 report, despite a dramatic shrinkage among those employed in the oil and gas and financial sectors due to economic nationalist policies and tougher labor regulations.

But a substantial part of the increase is due to a recent huge influx of Chinese workers, many of them engaged in menial jobs on new Chinese-funded industrial and infrastructure projects, who make up about a third of the total number.

According to the Manpower Ministry, there are now more than 21,000 Chinese working in Indonesia, followed by Japanese (10,000), South Koreans (7,600), Indians (4,650), Malaysians (3,700) and Americans (2,400).

Although BKPM figures show foreign direct investment (FDI) created 975,000 new job opportunities in 2016, labor officials and other like-minded bureaucrats seem to feel that increasing amounts of foreign capital should not necessarily mean a commensurate boost in the number of foreign workers.

It is one of the many puzzling contradictions in President Joko Widodo’s avowed search for more FDI to re-build the manufacturing sector, which in providing jobs and improving export earnings holds the key to Indonesia growing beyond its current 5% level. The economy expanded by a slower-than-expected 5.06% in the third quarter this year, largely the result of sluggish domestic spending, leaving projected growth for the year at 5.03%, significantly short of the 5.2% set down in the revised 2018 national budget.

The Mata Air Institute-Alvara Research Center survey also revealed a disturbing vein of anti-foreign sentiment, this time stemming from a broader trend of intolerance towards religious and ethnic minorities that has already done considerable damage to Indonesia’s image abroad in recent years.

Moreover, 82% of the 4,200 student respondents from across the ethnically-diverse archipelago disapproved of interfaith marriages, while 90.6% found Indonesia’s large lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community morally offensive.

The Setara Institute, a social research outfit, noted in a preliminary study carried out in Bogor and Depok, two of Jakarta’s more conservative suburbs, that messages of intolerance and radicalism are mostly disseminated through community mosques and Islamic study circles on college campuses.

“This finding should alarm society, especially government and moderate Islamic organizations to take tangible steps in religious teachings that match the trends among today’s youth,” it said.

Setara found that radical narratives emphasized anti-Western concepts and notions of Muslim inferiority and hatred towards “enemies of Islam,” a message that in many cases was also being disseminated by mothers who had become primary recruitment targets.

It is noteworthy that 70% of the nearly 700 Indonesians who travelled to Syria and Iraq over the past three years to join the Islamic State (IS) were young wives and children, including some women who had been responsible for radicalizing their husbands.

As reflected in a recent Jakarta Post editorial, there are serious concerns all this could turn into full-blown racism if millennials and Generation Z continue to be exposed to ideas and propaganda that promote suspicion of people of different nationalities and backgrounds.

The Indonesian public is already easily led, the consequence of an education system that fails to encourage students to think independently.

Full report at:

http://www.atimes.com/article/indonesian-millennials-lean-towards-xenophobia/

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India

 

Deported PFI Member Spills The Beans On ISIS Recruitment In India

November 17, 2017

India Today has gained access the interrogation report of Shahjahan Kandy, a PFI member, who left India to join ISIS but was arrested by Turkey police while crossing their border to enter Syria.

The Centre has been mulling a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) for many months now, and a recent development is likely to strengthen the government's case. Shahjahan Kandy, a PFI member who was deported to India by the Turkey police while he was trying to cross the Syria border, has made sensational revelations during his interrogation by the Indian agencies.

India Today has exclusively accessed the copy of Shahjahan's interrogation report. Shahjahan, who is a resident of Kannur in Kerala, according to reports, became the area president of PFI in 2007-2008. He was then heading a team of 9 PFI members. Shahjahan later joined the mouthpiece of PFI, Thejas Daily, and actively started meeting other PFI members.

In 2010, he joined Facebook and became members of two groups - Free Thinkers and Right Thinkers. Through Facebook, he came in contact with many potential recruits who according to him were useful in spreading PFI's activities.

Soon Shahjahan left India and when he returned to India in 2013, he started attending PFI's seminars. During one such seminar, he came in contact with a person named Sameer who motivated him for Hijra.

In 2016, Shahjahan left India for Syria along with his family. During his interrogation, he has revealed that many people like him were motivated by Sameer to move to Syria and help ISIS. The route was given by Sameer in which Shahjahan first went to Malasiya, then through Tehran and Istanbul he tried entering Syria. All those who were ready to fight for ISIS were given 3 months' training in Istanbul.

In 2016, Shahjahan along with two other friends, Munaf and Shahjil, tried to cross the border. His friends successfully made into Syria by crossing the Turkey border but Shahjahan failed. Later on, in 2017 he again tried to crossed the border but was caught at the Turkey border with fake passport.

Shahjahan, an ISIS sympathiser himself, has disclosed that all 17 youths who disappeared from Kerala have joined ISIS. PFI has been accused of forceful religious conversions . In the last few months, at least nine PFI members have reportedly joined ISIS.

NIA is currently investigating Shahjahan's case. Sources say the group could soon be banned by the government for its alleged links to terrorism and conversion activities.

Kandy was active on Facebook until June 2016 and was frequently putting up pictures and posts about purported violence against ISIS fighters. Security agencies say social media has become one of the biggest sources of recruiting new jihadis by instigating them with provocative posts.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/isis-pfi-shahjahan-kandy-conversion/1/1092073.html

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Restrictions imposed in Valley following the killing of a terrorist

Nov 18, 2017

SRINAGAR: Security has been ramped up and restrictions imposed in Srinagar on Saturday following the killing of terrorist Mugees Ahmad Mir.

Curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in eight police stations in the city to prevent law and order and maintain security in the area.

"Restrictions, under section 144 CrPc, will remain in force in Parimpora, Khanyar, M R Gunj, Nowahtta, Maisuma, Kralkhud, Rainawari and Safakadal police station areas tomorrow to prevent any law and order problems," the police said.

All schools and colleges in the city were closed for the day and classes at the Kashmir University were suspended.

However, there is no restriction on students appearing for exams.

"The examination admit cards will be treated as curfew passes for students who are writing exams tomorrow," the police added.

Train services were also suspended.

Mir, a resident of the Paranoia, was an associate of Zakir Musa, who left the Hizbul Mujahideen to float an IS affiliate in Kashmir.

On Friday, three militants travelling in a car opened fire on a police team at the Zakura crossing on Srinagar-Ganderbal road, killing sub-inspector Imran Tak and injuring a special police officer (SPO), the police official said.

The police team managed to intercept the car and apprehended one militant, but two others fled from the scene.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/restrictions-imposed-in-valley-following-the-killing-of-a-terrorist/articleshow/61698593.cms

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J&K Police sub-inspector killed by terrorists

Nov 17, 2017

SRINAGAR: A policeman was killed and another injured in an attack by terrorists in Zakura area on the outskirts of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

Three terrorists travelling in a car opened fire on a police team at the Zakura crossing on Srinagar-Ganderbal road, killing sub-inspector Imran Tak and injuring to a special police officer (SPO), a police official said.

The official said the police team managed to intercept the car and apprehended one militant, but two others fled from the scene.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-police-sub-inspector-killed-by-terrorists/articleshow/61690362.cms

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Assam cops to quiz Jamiat chief Madani for ‘provocative’ statement

By Samudra Gupta Kashyap

November 17, 2017

A police team from Assam which left for the national capital on Friday to conduct a preliminary enquiry into a case of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Syed Arshad Madani allegedly making a “highly provocative” statement in a meeting in New Delhi, would also interrogate the Jamiat chief if required.

Revealing this, Guwahati Police Commissioner HC Nath said while three FIRs have been lodged in three different police stations in the Assam capital in the last three days accusing Madani of making “provocative” statements, the police have registered these cases under several Sections of the IPC and the Contempt of Courts Act too.

“We have registered the three cases under Sections 120(B) and 153(A) of the IPC. One of the cases also has Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act because the complainant has accused the Jamiat chief of committing a contempt of the Supreme Court,” Police Commissioner Nath told The Indian Express.

The three FIRs have been lodged by three different persons, namely Biswajit Nath, Nitumoni Dutta and Utpal Das. While Nath has named Jamiat chief Madani and noted Guwahati-based intellectual Hiren Gohain in the FIR lodged in the Basistha police station, Dutta and Das have lodged separate FIRs against Madani in the Paltanbazar and Fatasil police stations respectively. Utpal Das also claimed to be convenor of Forum of Conscious Citizens, the Police Commissioner said.

While Section 120(B) of the IPC refers to criminal conspiracy, Section 153(A) deals with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc.

“The team which left for Delhi will primarily inquire into the sequence of events leading to the Jamiat chief making an allegedly provocative statement centering around the NRC update in Assam in a seminar on Monday. If required, it will interrogate the Jamait Ulema-e-Hind chief too,” Police Commissioner Nath said.

Assam has been witnessing loud protests against the Jamait chief for allegedly making a highly provocative statement in a seminar in the Constitution Club in New Delhi on Monday. According to local media reports, Madani had uttered words like “marenge, maarenge, qatl honge” and “aag lagegi” in the context of a large number of Muslims allegedly getting left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) currently being prepared in Assam. He had allegedly also said that Assam would turn into another Myanmar if names of Muslims were dropped from the NRC.

The seminar titled “Current Political Impasse in Assam: Updating the NRC and the Question of Citizenship” was organized by a little-known group called Delhi Action Committee for Assam (DACA), with Police Commissioner Nath saying members of this group would be the first to be interrogated by the police.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/assam-cops-to-quiz-jamiat-chief-madani-for-provocative-statement/

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Arab World

 

IS attack kills 26 displaced people in Syria

November 18, 2017

BEIRUT - A car bombing blamed on the Islamic State group killed at least 26 displaced people in eastern Syria on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

The Britain-based Observatory said 12 children were among the victims of the attack on a gathering at a checkpoint run by US-backed fighters in Deir Ezzor province. The militants are losing ground there to two separate offensives that have come close to ousting IS from Syria . “Dozens of people were wounded, and the death toll could rise because of the number of serious injuries,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Six children among 19 killed in shelling near Damascus

Shelling by the Syrian regime on the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus Friday killed at least 19 civilians, among them six children, a monitor said. The deaths came amid an escalating cycle of tit-for-tat attacks between regime forces and rebels holding the enclave on the Syrian capital’s eastern outskirts.

Rebel shelling on Friday killed three civilians.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 52 civilians have been killed since Tuesday, most of them in Eastern Ghouta, which has been besieged since 2013 and where humanitarian conditions are dire.

Thirteen people , including five children and three emergency workers, were killed in regime shelling and air strikes in Douma, the Eastern Ghouta area’s main town, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Elsewhere in Eastern Ghouta, another six people were killed in regime air strikes, the monitor said.

On Tuesday, the Ahrar al-Sham group, which has positions in Harasta, attacked a regime military base in the area, which is supposed to be a “de-escalation zone” under a deal between Russia, Iran and Turkey to ease the level of violence.

The fighting on that front has left at least 37 dead on the regime side, according to the Observatory, a toll the regime has not confirmed. Abdel Rahman said “dozens” of Islamist rebels were also killed.

In a hospital in Douma, doctors and nurses were treating a continuous flow of the wounded as the sounds of crying children echoed through the facility, an AFP correspondent said.

An elderly man with greying hair sought to calm a little girl in tears, her clothes covered in blood, while the bodies of three children killed in the strikes lay inert on a metal table.

Two other injured children sat on a bench, silent, their eyes wide, apparently still in shock. One had a bandaged foot.

Another wounded person had a bandage wrapped around his head, but blood had soaked through it.

On a white hospital bed, Abu Hisham’s face contorted in pain as he called out for his wife and children, who had been killed.

“Iman, where are the children?” he cried.

In retaliation for the latest deadly Ghouta shelling, rebels fired rockets into Damascus on Friday, killing three civilians, the same source said.

Six were killed the previous day, including Syria’s national karate coach Fadel Fadi, who died of his wounds after being hit by shrapnel as he left his Damascus sports club, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

More than 330,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, which began in 2011 as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests.

http://nation.com.pk/18-Nov-2017/is-attack-kills-26-displaced-people-in-syria

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Al Jubeir: Lebanon will find peace when terrorist group Hezbollah is disarmed

18 November 2017

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, on Friday, that Hezbollah was a terrorist organization and Lebanon would only enjoy peace by disarming it.

"Hezbollah must be disarmed and become a political party for the stability of Lebanon," Al-Jubeir told reporters at a news conference with Alfonso Dastis, minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.

"Lebanon will only enjoy peace by disarming Hezbollah," he said.

"Hezbollah's terrorist militia, it can not be allowed to operate outside the frame of the law," he added.

He also stressed that it was Hezbollah that put obstacles in front of Saad Hariri and used the banking system to finance its terrorist activities.

Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia has always been supportive of Lebanon and the Taif Agreement.

The Saudi minister also paid tribute to the Spanish role throughout the Middle East crises.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed distinct bilateral relations binding the two friendly countries, joint efforts exerted to combat terrorism as well as extremism, in addition to regional and international developments and various issues of common interest, reported Saudi Press Agency.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi Ambassador to Spain Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Abdullah.

During a joint press conference earlier with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, Jubeir added that Hezbollah’s continuous interferences in Arab countries’ affairs will worsen the situation in Lebanon.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Hezbollah is the root of the problem in Lebanon as it has hijacked the Lebanese system.

He also said that the Hezbollah militia is a weapon in Iran’s hands, noting that Hezbollah’s secretary general himself has acknowledged that.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/18/Al-Jubeir-Hezbollah-is-a-terrorist-group-no-peace-in-Lebanon-except-by-disarming-it.html

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Iraqi Forces Recapture Last Islamic State-Held Town

Nov. 17, 2017

By Ahmed Aboulenein

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi forces on Friday captured the border town of Rawa, the last remaining town under Islamic State control, signaling the collapse of the group's self-proclaimed caliphate.

Rawa's capture marks the end of Islamic State's era of territorial rule over a so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi forces "liberated Rawa entirely, and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings," Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah said in a statement from the Joint Operations Command.

Syria's army has also declared victory against Islamic State, but last week militants re-infiltrated Albu Kamal, near the border from Iraq, and are still fighting there, as well as in some villages and desert areas nearby.

All the forces fighting Islamic State in both countries expect a new phase of guerrilla warfare, a tactic the militants have already shown themselves capable of.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated Iraq's armed forces and people, saying Rawa was retaken in record time and that Iraq would soon completely defeat Islamic State.

"I congratulate our heroic forces and the Iraqi people on the liberation of Rawa. The success of our forces, in record time and with excellent planning, shows their strength. Our armed forces continue to secure the Jazira and desert area and the Iraqi border. Total victory is near," he said.

A map published by the military showed zero areas under Islamic State control and a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the group in both Iraq and Syria said on Twitter it had "crumbled".

A video issued by the military showed Iraqi forces sending a message to Rawa's residents via radio which said: "Daesh has ended for good, and now the age of Iraq begins," referring to the Sunni militant group by an Arabic acronym.

Another showed a convoy of military vehicles sporting Iraqi flags and blasting out the national anthem. State television played patriotic songs and aired footage of troops in Rawa.

"With the liberation of Rawa we can say all the areas in which Daesh is present have been liberated," a military spokesman said.

Iraqi forces will now focus on routing the militants who fled into the desert and exert control over Iraq's borders, the spokesman said.

Rawa borders Syria, whose army seized the last substantial town on the border with Iraq, Albu Kamal.

Albu Kamal shares a border crossing with al-Qaim in Iraq. The militants lost control of the border crossing earlier this month, dealing a critical blow to the organization, which had long relied on the route to move its fighters and equipment.

The group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be hiding in the stretch of desert which runs along the border of both countries.

SHRINKING CALIPHATE

Driven this year from its two de facto capitals -- Iraq's Mosul and Syria's Raqqa -- Islamic State was progressively squeezed into an ever-shrinking pocket of desert, straddling the frontier between the two countries, by enemies that include most regional states and global powers.

In Iraq, Islamic State faced the army and the Shi'ite paramilitary groups, backed both by the U.S.-led international coalition and by Iran.

Iraq has been carrying out its final campaign to crush the Islamic State caliphate while also mounting a military offensive in the north against the Kurds who held an independence referendum in September.

However, Islamic State's defeat does not mean civilians are now safe, the International Rescue Committee said. Nearly 3.2 million people are unable or unwilling to return home after years of displacement and over 11 million are in need of vital humanitarian assistance, it said.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-17/iraqi-forces-recapture-last-islamic-state-held-town-of-rawa-statement

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Syria toxic gas inquiry to end after Russia again blocks U.N. renewal

November 18, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: An international investigation into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria will end on Friday after Russia blocked for the third time in a month attempts at the United Nations to renew the inquiry, which Moscow has slammed as flawed.

In the past two years, the joint U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry has found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack and has also several times used chlorine as a weapon. It blamed Islamic State militants for using mustard gas.

Russia vetoed on Friday a Japanese-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution to extend the inquiry for one month. It was an eleventh-hour bid to buy more time for negotiations after Russia blocked U.S.-drafted resolutions on Thursday and Oct. 24 to renew the investigation, which the council created in 2015.

Syrian ally Russia has cast 11 vetoes on possible Security Council action on Syria since the country’s civil war began in 2011. The Japanese draft received 12 votes in favor on Friday, while China abstained and Bolivia joined Russia to vote no.

After Friday’s vote, the council moved to closed-door discussions at the request of Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog to “ensure we are absolutely convinced we have exhausted every avenue, every effort” to try and renew the investigation.

After a brief discussion, Italian U.N. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, council president for November, told reporters: “The council will continue to work in the coming hours and days, constructively, to find a common position.”

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council earlier on Friday that the inquiry could only be extended if “fundamental flaws in its work” were fixed. He said that for the past two year the investigators had “rubber-stamped baseless accusations against Syria .”

The council voted on a rival Russian-drafted resolution on Thursday to renew the inquiry, but it failed after only garnering four votes in favor.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia , Britain or China to be adopted.

“Russia is wasting our time,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council on Friday.

“Russia’s actions today and in recent weeks have been designed to delay, to distract and ultimately to defeat the effort to secure accountability for chemical weapons attacks in Syria ,” Haley said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/18-Nov-2017/syria-toxic-gas-inquiry-to-end-after-russia-again-blocks-u-n-renewal

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Terrorists Withdraw from Another Key Region in Syria's Hama Province

Nov 17, 2017

The army men, supported by artillery fire and aerial back up, pushed Al-Nusra from the village of al-Hardaneh in Northeastern Hama.

The Al-Nusra suffered heavy casualties and its military hardware sustained major damage in the attack.

The remaining pockets of Al-Nusra terrorists fled the battlefield to evade more casualties. 

Relevant repots said on Wednesday that the army men pushed Al-Nusra back from the small town of Mawilah, Tal (hill) Mahsar and the village of al-Jamileh North of the small town of al-Hamra.

The army soldiers also captured al-Banat hill North of the village of al-Rabi'eh.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960826000299

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Syrian Army Drives Terrorists out of More Regions in Hama Province

Nov 17, 2017

The sources said that the army men pushed Al-Nusra back from the villages of Sarha al-Shamali South of the town of al-Rahjan region and the village of Qasr Ali East of the village of Rabdah.

Relevant repots said on Wednesday that the army men pushed Al-Nusra back from the small town of Mawilah, Tal (hill) Mahsar and the village of al-Jamileh North of the small town of al-Hamra.

The army soldiers also captured al-Banat hill North of the village of al-Rabi'eh.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960826000130

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Syrian Army Repels ISIL's Heavy Offensive in Eastern Homs

Nov 16, 2017

The army units clashed with ISIL militants who had attacked their positions from the Eastern and Southern fronts near the town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs.

During the clashes, the Syrian army forces killed and wounded a number of terrorists, forcing others to flee the battleground.

Meantime, other army units clashed with the terrorists in the two regions of al-Hayl and Hamimeh in Northeastern al-Sukhnah, killing a number of them.

Also, the Syrian fighter jets launched repeated airstrikes on ISIL in Southeastern al-Sukhnah, West of the T2 Station and near the common borders with Deir Ezzur province, destroying several ISIL bases and military vehicles.

Early in August, the Syrian army troops won the street-battle against ISIL in the key town of al-Sukhnah, imposing full control over the town's neighborhoods.

The army men pushed ISIL back from the strategic town of al-Sukhnah Northeast of Palmyra city after hours of clashes in the town's neighborhoods.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960825000873

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Sultan bin Suhaim: We are the founders of Qatar, we will cleanse it

18 November 2017

Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani told tens of thousands of people gathered at the meeting of the tribes of Qahtan on the Saudi-Qatari border, that Doha must be purged and rescued before it is swallowed up by chaos and manipulated by corruptors.

Bin Suhaim stressed the responsibility upon Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure Qatar doesn’t be a country that harbors terrorism or become a shelter for corruption.

He added that his silence during the last period is not about weakness or lack of power, but the hope that "our brothers would regain their consciousness and abandon their misguided ways" asserting that his patience has reached its end.

Sultan bin Suhaim said: "We are the founders of Qatar and we are the ones who will cleanse it. We all carry on our mission to save it.”

Sultan bin Suhaim said his country is "not a resort for mercenaries."

"I speak to the authority in Doha that the news is what you will see, not what you hear," he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/18/Sultan-bin-Suhaim-We-are-the-founders-of-Qatar-we-will-cleanse-it.html

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Russian bombers pound Daesh positions near Syria’s Bukamal again

Nov 17, 2017

Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers have conducted a string of new aerial attacks against the positions of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group near the town of Bukamal in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr as government forces, supported by allied fighters from popular defense groups, are fighting to fully recapture the territory from the extremists.

“Six Tupolev-22M3 bombers left an airbase in Russia, crossed over the Iranian and Iraqi airspaces and carried out a massive air strike against Daesh fortified areas, manpower and armored vehicles. Surveillance equipment have confirmed that all of the designated targets had been hit,” Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

It added that Sukhoi-30SM fighter jets, based at Russia-run Hmeimim air base southeast of Syria's western coastal city of Latakia, had escorted the bombers while they were in Syrian air space, and that all the bombers had safely returned to their base.

The development came only two days after six Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers bombarded Daesh outposts near Bukamal.

On November 4, TU-22m3 bombers flew from Russia across Iran and Iraq, and conducted airstrikes against Daesh targets near Bukamal.

Russia's Defense Ministry said at the time that command centers and weapons depots were among the targets hit by the bombers.

Russia’s Kolpino submarine launched six Kalibr cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea against Daesh outposts in Bukamal on November 3.

Six Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers launched a massive aerial assault against designated terrorist targets near Bukamal on November 1, destroying fortified areas, arms and ammunition depots.

Since September 2015, Russia has been conducting aerial attacks against terrorist positions in Syria at a request from the Damascus government.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/17/542547/Russian-bombers-pound-Daesh-positions-near-Syrias-Bukamal-again

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Lebanese security forces bust Daesh terrorist network

Nov 17, 2017

Lebanese security forces have arrested a group of people suspected of affiliation with Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in neighboring Syria, and planning to carry out a series of deadly attacks in Lebanon.

“We were able to arrest a group of Syrians, who had formed a network to conduct terror missions. They were tasked with monitoring Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) centers in southern Lebanon in order to collect information on military personnel and equipment ... and their methods of operation,” Lebanon’s General Security Directorate said in a statement released on Friday.

The statement added that the detainees had taken pictures of sensitive facilities, and sent them to Daesh terrorists in Syria’s northern city of Raqqah as well as the eastern town of al-Bukamal on the border with Iraq.

“Their second mission was to target shops in Aramoun village of Aley district in the Mount Lebanon province, and throw ordinary people into panic. Members of the network also worked to recruit people to fight within Daesh ranks in Syria, arranged temporary marriages to the militants, and funneled money to the extremists,” it pointed out.

Lebanon has often seen the infiltration of Takfiri elements from neighboring Syria into its territory, where they target the civilian population or security forces with bombings.

In August 2014, members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham – formerly known as Nusra Front – and Daesh terrorist groups overran the town of Arsal, located 124 kilometers northeast of Beirut, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah resistance fighters and Lebanese military forces have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups from neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

The movement has accused Israel of supporting Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle East.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/17/542539/Lebanese-security-forces-bust-Daesh-terrorist-network

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Europe

 

US warns of Christmas terror threat in Europe

November 18, 2017

WASHINGTON - The United States has updated its advice to travellers heading for Europe , warning of an increased terrorist threat over the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Washington has a long-standing warning to its citizens to beware extremist attacks in European cities, and in recent years it has expressly warned of dangers at festive events. "Last year, mass casualty attacks occurred at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in December and a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey on New Year's Eve," the latest warning noted.

http://nation.com.pk/18-Nov-2017/us-warns-of-christmas-terror-threat-in-europe

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Terrorist’s Family Asks Why Won’t Britain Stop Hub of ‘White Jihadis’ Around a Single Suburban Town?

NICO HINES

11.17.17

HIGH WYCOMBE, England—An extraordinary clutch of white jihadis groomed in the suburban commuter towns northwest of London have traveled from Britain to join the terrorist militias of Syria, Iraq, and East Africa over the past decade.

The devastated family of one of these radicalized converts is now demanding to know why Britain’s security services continue to allow this to happen.

Six years after 21-year-old Thomas Evans—who was already on the authorities’ radar—was allowed to slip through a London airport en route to join al Shabaab in Somalia, his family say they have never been approached by intelligence-agency officials who might have been able to crush a growing problem of jihadi recruitment centered around High Wycombe, the mid-size suburban town where the Evans family lives.

A dozen young men are feared to have joined ISIS from Wycombe in the past few years. Three of the men accused of planning the trans-Atlantic liquid bomb plot—which changed global air travel forever in 2006—were based in the town, including a white friend of Evans, who was acquitted. The British press has taken to describing these relatively unusual converts as the white jihadis.

Samantha Lewthwaithe, a notorious al Shabaab fighter known as the White Widow, lived less than 15 miles away with her husband, one of the 7/7 bombers who killed 56 people in Britain’s most deadly Islamist terror attack. Another white convert to radical Islam, Jack Letts—dubbed “Jihadi Jack” in the British press, ran away to Syria from Oxford, which is just 25 miles to the west.

“There’s no doubt about it, there must be a network,” Thomas’s brother Micheal told The Daily Beast. “They are no different to gangs, and they’re not that smart. All the authorities have to do is connect the dots—and it just seems like they didn’t.”

Thomas Evans was prevented from boarding a flight to Kenya on a one-way ticket in 2011. When he got back home, he told his family that he had been questioned for five hours by men in plain clothes who seemed to know everything about him—his favorite fast-food restaurant, his friends, his mosque, the gym he attended, where he stayed when he took regular trips out of town, and the fact that he had just sold his car.

“Looking back now, he must have been a person of interest from what they knew about him. It sounded like round-the-clock surveillance,” said Micheal.

And yet the authorities made no effort to contact the family. Thomas and Micheal’s mother, Sally Evans, is adamant that she would have stopped her eldest son from joining the terrorists if she had been tipped off by the security services.

“Of course, I would! I’m his mother,” she told The Daily Beast. “I’d have taken his passport, gone to the police, anything—sat on him if necessary.”

Instead, unaware of how deeply he had been radicalized, she accepted his wishes when he said he was going to Egypt for a few months to take an Arabic course. Once he got to Cairo, however, Thomas Evans began an overland journey that eventually took him into Somalia, where he was to become a notorious al Shabaab fighter who beheaded Christians and took part in murderous cross-border raids. He was killed by a Kenyan sniper in 2015.

Walking along Wycombe’s High Street on a bracing night this week, Micheal Evans was in reflective mood. He pointed to the church walls and car park ramps where he and Thomas would practice jumps and grinds on their BMXs. As they grew older, they went to see bands in the bars in town and sneaked the odd underage drink. As well as his big brother, Thomas was Micheal’s best friend.

Thomas was also likely to get into scrapes. At 6’2” and a regular gym-goer who took up amateur boxing, he fancied himself in a fight and would often return home from a night out with blood on his favorite white sweater. He eventually graduated from these fights to some petty crime and involvement with local gangs.

It therefore came as a relief to his family when he converted to Islam, stopped drinking, and seemed to find peace.

What happened over the next few years was a gradual process of radicalization. Micheal and his mom noticed that he was becoming more and more focused on religion, but they did not recognize the warning signs that their beloved Thomas was morphing into a Salafi extremist.

After he moved to a new mosque—the Muslim Education Center—he stopped listening to music, refused to eat from the family’s non-halal pans, would lecture them incessantly for watching TV, or with anti-Western political rants. He started wearing a long Arab-style tunic called a thobe.

“Mum used to say: ‘You’re not going out of the house wearing that,’” said Micheal. “And he would change when he got out.”

He used to wear his trousers rolled up, which is a Salafi affectation in honor of the Prophet Muhammad. During his last Christmas in England, he went to stay in Burnley with friends he had met via people from the mosque, in order to avoid the decorations and celebrations in the family home.

In retrospect, the most obvious sign that Thomas had strayed beyond the realms of normal behavior was when he returned from one of his regular trips to Burnley—a town with a large Muslim minority—having been circumcised.

“Essentially, he had an operation in somebody’s house!” said Micheal. He was bed-ridden for weeks with an infection and the family convinced him to seek proper medical help. “The doctors were shocked to say the least. It was not done right, it was not clean.”

The Evans family did not feel as though they knew enough about Islam to challenge these increasingly extreme views, and that is one of Micheal’s motivations in helping to set up a new organization with a helpline and website that will be able to connect families with moderate imams and offer guidance on spotting the signs of radicalization.

At one point, Thomas invited another white Muslim convert round to the family’s home in the suburb of Wooburn Green to try and reassure his mother. That man was Donald Stewart-Whyte, his father was a Conservative Party activist and his half-sister was a well-known model.

“He sat on my kitchen floor,” said Sally Evans, gesturing to the back of the house. “And told me Thomas was a good Muslim, that he was doing well.”

When Stewart-Whyte left, Thomas asked his family what they thought of him. “We said he seemed all right,” said Micheal. “Tom said, ‘Well, he was charged with terrorism offenses’—and we were like, ‘Why are you with someone like that? Why would you bring him here?’ Tom said he was innocent.”

At trial, Stewart-Whyte was acquitted of conspiring in the liquid-bomb plot to bring down trans-Atlantic flights that would have killed hundreds of people in the biggest terror attack since Sept. 11, 2001. He pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal firearm, ammunition, and a silencer.

***

Stewart-Whyte and two of the plotters who were convicted, Assad Sarwar and Umar Islam, had attended Thomas’s mosque, which is located at the back of a rundown store selling Islamic literature on one of the shabbier roads in Wycombe.

A spokesman for the Muslim Education Center, Jaleil Raja, denies that Thomas Evans—or anyone else—was radicalized at the mosque. He said he had been a worshipper at the center for well over a decade and claims Thomas was never a regular, a contention that is strongly disputed by the Evans family.

Raja said that “definitely no one was proud” that so many members of this small Muslim community had become involved in terrorism.

Another regular at the mosque told The Daily Beast that there were mixed emotions about people going to fight abroad.

“There’s always two sides to every story. The media tells the bad side of ISIS. If I want to hear the other side, I’d probably have to go out there,” said one man who did not want to be named. “These guys have gone but you have to assume they are going to protect people.”

This worshipper, who said he had been attending the mosque since it first opened at the start of the century, said the teaching there had never changed despite so many members of the mosque getting into trouble with the authorities.

They don’t teach the young men about avoiding radicalization, he said. “It’s like sex education, they teach it so young in schools, and now you see stories of girls being raped by 12-year-olds. Sometimes that kind of teaching can go wrong.”

Raja agreed that there was not much in the way of anti-extremism training, but he said that anyone they believed to be a threat would be reported to the authorities through Britain’s controversial PREVENT counter-radicalization program.

The most recent Muslim Education Center worshipper who traveled to Iraq and Syria is Shabazz Suleman, 22, who was a student at the prestigious Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe. He says he slipped away from a family vacation in Turkey in 2015 before crossing into Syria to join ISIS. Once there, he says he spent his time riding bikes and playing PlayStation games, a claim that worshippers at the mosque seemed to take at face value.

Suleman’s father was said to be horrified about what had happened and has no idea how his son became radicalized.

Raja denies Evans family suspicions that the mosque could have done more to alert them to their son’s state of mind, but he agrees that being tipped off by the authorities would have been hugely beneficial. “It does seem bizarre if they were aware of him,” he said. “I would definitely want to be told so I could be firm with my son.”

Micheal and Sally will always believe they could have done more to stop Thomas, and they are battling to come to terms with the fact that a member of their family became a monster. In one of the raids carried out by al Shabaab, Thomas is described as forcing Christian villagers to kneel in the street before cutting their throats with a knife.

He was eventually killed by a Kenya security official during a failed raid across the border in 2015.

“It's so weird, how someone who’s grown up as your own flesh and blood could do that to somebody,” said Micheal. “It doesn’t make any sense, I don’t think it ever will make any sense. I’m glad he’s not around to hurt anyone. It’s like his soul was gone.”

For five years, Micheal worked as a professional photographer but he has now quit to concentrate on the battle that has consumed him ever since his brother became a terrorist. “One of the ways I get through it is to take what I’ve been through and use it. There’s no point in wasting that,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/terrorists-family-asks-why-wont-britain-stop-hub-of-white-jihadis-around-one-suburban-town

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Britain to pay 400 million pound debt to Iran soon, Iranian official says

November 17, 2017

Britain will soon repay a debt of over 400 million pounds ($527 million) to Iran , the Iranian ambassador said on Friday, but the payment was not linked to the case of a British-Iranian charity worker jailed in Iran .

“An outstanding debt owed by the U.K. to Tehran will be transferred to the Central Bank of Iran in the coming days. The payment ... has nothing to do with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case,” Hamid Baeedinejad wrote on his Telegram channel.

Zaghari-Retcliff was detained in April 2016 in Tehran by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as she tried to leave Iran after a visit with her two-year-old daughter.

She was sentenced to five years in prison after an Iranian court convicted her of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment. She denies the charges. Iran doesn’t recognize dual citizenship for its nationals.

Britain’s Foreign Office was not immediately available to comment on the Iranian ambassador’s comments.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman denied there was any link between the debt and the charity worker’s case. Tehran also dismissed the Telegraph report.

The Telegraph newspaper reported on Thursday that Britain was working on a plan to pay Iran the debt, as part of efforts to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters. It operates independently of Reuters News.

Britain owes the money after Iran’s Shah paid up front for 1,750 Chieftain tanks and other vehicles, almost none of which were eventually delivered after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 toppled the U.S.-backed leader.

In 2009, the International Chamber of Commerce ordered Britain to repay Iran £450 million ($592 million) for the tanks that were never delivered, but UN and EU sanctions levied against Iran prevented the repayment.

Under a deal between Iran and six major powers in 2015, most sanctions on Iran were lifted last year, in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/17-Nov-2017/britain-to-pay-400-million-pound-debt-to-iran-soon-iranian-official-says

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Macron says Iran misunderstands France’s ‘balanced’ position in region

18 November 2017

President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that Iran misunderstood France’s “balanced” position in the region, which centered on not taking sides between Sunni and Shi‘ites, adding that Tehran should be less aggressive in the region.

Speaking in Gothenburg, Macron said he wanted Iran to clarify the strategy around its ballistic missile program.

Macron also said he would welcome Saad al-Hariri in Paris on Saturday as Lebanon’s prime minister and expected him to return to Beirut in the “coming days, weeks.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/18/Macron-says-Iran-misunderstands-France-s-balanced-position-in-region.html

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Germany to spend 10 mln euros to help clear mines in Syria

17 November 2017

Germany will spend an initial 10 million euros to help remove mines from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Handelsblatt newspaper said in Friday editions.

The foreign ministry is set to announce the increased funding as part of a pact with the United States on Friday, the paper added.

The agreement calls for Germany to help fund Tetra Tech , a US government contractor working to clear mines from Raqqa, where US-backed militias last month declared victory over the Islamic State extremist group.

The US military continues to press Germany for additional aid in Syria, but Germany is waiting for measures on how to stabilize Syria, the newspaper said.

Norbert Roettgen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told the paper that financial aid for rebuilding must be “combined with a reliable solution and political stability for Syria”.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/17/Germany-to-spend-10-mln-euros-to-help-clear-mines-in-Syria.html

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Russia 'invariably' supports sovereignty of Lebanon

17 November 2017

Moscow has "invariably" supported the sovereignty of Lebanon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

"Russia invariably supports the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Lebanon. We are interested in ensuring that Lebanon is safe, effectively functioning with the participation of all branches of government and with all state structures," Lavrov said.

Lavrov's remarks came during a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Moscow, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.

He said the Lebanese people can solve all their problems without external interference.

"I have no doubt that even at this stage the Lebanese will be able to agree on a solution that would meet the highest interests of maintaining stability, civil peace and security in Lebanon and the region as a whole," Lavrov added.

On Nov. 4, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri abruptly announced his resignation from the Lebanese premiership in a televised address delivered from Saudi Arabia.

Almost two weeks later, he has yet to return to Lebanon from Riyadh, which had long been considered his chief political patron.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday announced that he will receive Hariri in Paris on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lebanese President Michel Aoun claims Hariri was being held against his will in Riyadh and has refused to accept his resignation until he returns to Beirut.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/196032/athenians-in-shock-after-deadly-flooding

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South Asia

 

ISIS and Taliban operating with similar ideology in Afghanistan: Abdullah

Nov 17 2017

The Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah says the Taliban and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group offshoot militants are conducting insurgency with a similar ideology, insisting that there is no difference between the two groups.

Speaking to reporters in a gathering hosted by VOA’s Afghanistan service, Abdullah said there is not much difference between the groups and both continue to incur losses to the Afghan people.

However, CEO Abdullah said the ISIS loyalists do not operate on large swathes of Afghanistan but the Taliban continue to operate in more provinces.

In other parts of his speech, Abdullah said the relations between Kabul and Islamabad remains strained, mainly due to the circumstances surrounding the fight against terror and the presence of terror sanctuaries.

According to Abdullah, the terrorists continue to maintain presence and safe havens on the side of the line in Pakistan which is one of the main reasons behind the deteriorating relations between Kabul and Islamabad.

He also added that the new US strategy for South Asia delivers a clear message to the region and those supporting the terror groups.

Abdullah said the government is optimistic regarding the environment of cooperation further boosted between the Afghan and foreign forces in the fight against terror after the new strategy was unveiled.

In regards to the India’s role in Afghanistan, Abdullah said the Afghan government supports Washington’s call to further increase New Delhi’s role in Afghanistan, insisting that the country has invested more than 2 billion Dollars in reconstruction of Afghanistan in the past 16 years.

http://www.khaama.com/isis-and-taliban-operating-with-similar-ideology-in-afghanistan-abdullah-03864

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Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta condemn deadly Taliban attack on Afghan forces in Kandahar

Nov 17 2017

Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta, the main government Islamic body in the country, has condemned a deadly attack by the Taliban insurgents in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan that incurred heavy losses to both sides.

The institute in a statement said it condemns the attack on the security posts in Kandahar province that resulted into the martyrdom of some Afghan security personnel.

The statement further added that neight Islam nor any other religion allow the bloodshed of the people, aggression, and offense without any reason.

According to Dar Al-Ifta also condemned the recruitment of the forigners for their insurgency in Afghanistan, citing the local residents who have witnessed the presence of Turkmen, Uzbeks, Punjabis, and other foreigners among the Taliban ranks.

Calling the terrorist groups as selfish and conspiracists, the institute said such groups are doing business in the name of religion and their motive is to boost their interests and achieve their political goals.

Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta also called for immediate steps to curb the activities of the terror groups through international join efforts and strategy.

This comes as the local officials in Kandahar are saying that the group launched coordinated attacks on security posts in Kandahar province three days ago.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/egypts-dar-al-ifta-condemn-deadly-taliban-attack-on-afghan-forces-in-kandahar-03866

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Card. D’Rozario: Pope’s visit will be a "pilgrimage to the soul of Bangladesh"

17/11/2017

Pope Francis to the country as a “pilgrimage to the soul of Bangladesh”.   At the same time it is also the pilgrimage of the people to their guest, Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, explained to Vatican Radio in an interview ahead of the Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 papal trip, after the Pontiff visits neighbouring Myanmar, Nov 27 to 30.  

With over 86% of its estimated 156 million population (2016) adhering to Islam, Bangladesh is home to the world’s 4th largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan and India.   Around 10% of the people are Hindus, and Christians and Buddhists make up less than 1 percent each of the population.   As of 2016, there are some 350,000 Catholics, or approximately 0.2 percent of the population.

To know more about this visit of Pope Francis to the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, we called Cardinal D’Rozario on the phone.  Speaking from his office in Dhaka, the cardinal, who is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCP), explained what the Catholic Church of Bangladesh and the nation expect from Pope Francis and his visit. 

Card. D’Rozario first spoke about what the Church expects from the papal visit.  First of  all, he said, it will be “a pilgrimage of the Holy Father to all the people of Bangladesh – a pilgrimage to the “soul of Bangladesh”.  Secondly, it will be a pilgrimage of the people to the Pope - to see him, meet him, listen to him and be near him.  This, the cardinal said, they will do by praying and worshipping together on the same ground. The Pope’s programme includes the ordination of 16 sons of the soil to the priesthood and meetings with bishops, clergy, religious and lay people.

Regarding what the nation expects from the Pope’s visit, the Archbishop of Dhaka pointed to three areas.  Besides being a spiritual leader, the Pope is also the head of Vatican City State.  In this regard, he said, the Pope’s visit will be a celebration of diplomatic relations between the two states, which was established 46 years ago, soon after Bangladesh’s independence. This relationship, the 74-year old cardinal said, is “very unique…. mainly based on human, ethical and spiritual values.”

The Pope’s visit will also be a “celebration of harmony” of Bangladesh’s culture, as indicated by the logo and theme of the papal visit, “Harmony and Peace”.  Cardinal D’Rozario said there will be a gathering of people of other religions and other Christian denominations. It will also be a “celebration of harmony of inter-religious relationship” involving young people in festive mood.

Thirdly, the papal visit will also be an encounter between the Pope and the poor of Bangladesh, some of whom, the cardinal explained have rich evangelical values.   The visit will provide Pope Francis with an opportunity to listen to the voice of the country’s poor and take it to the whole world, especially regarding issues such as climate change, human rights and Rohingya refugees. 

Full report at:

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/11/17/myanmar_journey_patrick_drozario_soul_of_bangladesh/1349560

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Understanding the religious context of Bangladesh and Myanmar

November 17, 2017

Both countries that Pope Francis is to visit have seen waves of religious persecution. In Bangladesh, violence is generally directed against Hindus and Buddhists by Muslims while in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, it is against Muslims, particularly the Rohingya people who are related to Bangladeshi Bengalis. In this section, we explore why despite Christians making up very small minorities in both countries, they have largely been spared harassment. This could be because Christians have a long history there and contributed significantly to the development of these societies.

***

Both Myanmar and Bangladesh are new and fragile democracies with a history of military rule and one party autocracy.

Burma gained independence in 1948 and more than 50 years of political turmoil was cut off from the rest of the world after the 1962 military coup d’etat from which it only emerged in 2010 with elections. A second round was held in November 2015 sweeping the National League for Democracy to power in a landslide that saw Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi assume the role of State Counselor or de facto leader. But the military remains the senior partner in a power sharing arrangement, still controlling defense, border and interior ministries.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been a so-called democracy since 1996. But in 2014 as the second largest party, the Bangladesh National Party did not become a parliamentary opposition because it declined participation in the last election after the rival Awami League refused to hold polls under a neutral, caretaker government.

About 90 percent of the estimated 160 million people in Bangladesh are Sunni Muslims, with a majority following a moderate form of Islam influenced by Sufism according to Banglapedia, the national encyclopedia of Bangladesh.

Hindus make up the largest minority group at 8 percent and the rest belong to other faiths including Buddhism, Christianity and ancient indigenous religions. Some 500,000 Buddhists are mostly concentrated in southeastern Bangladesh, close to its border with Myanmar and they follow the Theravada school of Buddhism that continues to dominate the religious landscape in Myanmar.

Even though the Catholic Church and indeed the broader Christian churches have been very small minorities in both countries, they have contributed significantly to the development of Muslim Bangladesh and Buddhist Myanmar. But both countries have seen waves of religious persecution, generally directed against Hindus and Buddhists by Bangladeshi Muslims and against Muslims, particularly the Rohingya people who are related to Bangladeshi Bengalis.

In Bangladesh, Christians account for less than half a percent of the population or an estimated 600,000. The majority of Christians are Catholics spread over country’s eight dioceses. Half of the Christians are Bengalis, the majority ethnic group, while the other half hail from various ethnic indigenous communities.

The proportion of Christians in Myanmar is higher due to the relative success of missionaries — both Catholic and Protestant — with ethnic minorities in the often large regions and states that surround the center.

Drafted in 1972, Bangladesh’s original constitution established secularism, nationalism, socialism and democracy as four main principles of the state. However, two military regimes during the period from 1975 to1990 replaced secularism with “absolute trust in almighty Allah” and also declared Islam as the state religion. In 2011, the Awami League government restored “secularism” in the constitution, but refrained from abolishing “the state religion of Islam,” fearing a political backlash.

Myanmar

T constitution of the Union of Myanmar, written by the military in 2008 with the singular aim of allowing it to retain enormous power despite a commitment to regular elections, asserts freedom of religion but reports say Catholic citizens are routinely denied better-paying administrative jobs and barred from what little social services the government provides. They are also prohibited from building new churches.

The most pervasive issue affecting Christians is land ownership for religious purposes. The bureaucratic procedures put in place during military rule in the early 1990s, and still in practice today, amount to discriminatory restrictions designed to obstruct permission rather than to facilitate it according to U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom report “Hidden Plight-Christian Minorities in Burma” in December, 2016.

The first evidence of a Christian presence in Myanmar is found in the 13th Century frescos with crosses and Latin and Greek scripts found in some places in Bagan area covering the former Bagan Kingdom located in the Mandalay Region. Various historians believe these early Christians to be part of the Nestorian diaspora.  But it was after the Portuguese established a sea route to Asia in 1498 and settled in Goa, southwestern India, that missionaries set out from Europe.

The landing of Christian European (Portuguese) merchants at Chittagong port marked the advent of Christianity in 1517. Some records say that in 1550 a French Franciscan priest, Bonferre, went on a Portuguese ship from Goa to what was then the Bagan Kingdom on Myanmar and on to the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand). In 1548, St. Francis Xavier wrote letters about the need to send missioners to Pegu but nothing is heard later about these initiatives.

Portuguese mercenary Filipe de Brito Nicote established Portuguese-backed rule in Thanlyin, near today’s Yangon, in 1603. This helped Catholic missioners to come to the area but the initiative only lasted ten years when a local king defeated Nicote to end the mission. 



In 1722, the Vatican reestablished a mission assigning Barnabite priests who secured their freedom to preach after many difficulties. Following them, priests from the congregation of the Oblates of Pinerolo came but they abandoned the mission in 1752 after the British annexed Pegu following a bloody war.

For some time, the mission was under the care of Vicar Apostolic of Siam but in 1806, the Vatican’s Propaganda Fide divided Myanmar into three regions known as vicariates — Northern Burma, Southern Burma, and Eastern Burma. The northern and southern vicariates were entrusted to the care of priests of the Missions Etrangeres de Paris (MEP) while the eastern vicariate was put under the Milan’s Pontifical Institute of the Foreign Missions (PIME).

Myanmar now has an estimated 750,000 Catholics, a number that has more than doubled since Burmese independence in 1948.

Catholics who number about 1.5 percent of the population are in three archdioceses, 13 suffragan dioceses and are served by some 2,000 Religious Brothers and Sisters and more than 900 diocesan and religious clergy.

The work of evangelization relies on the efforts of some 2,600 catechists in parishes throughout the country. Protestant groups came later but have had more success first appearing in the 19th century under the British colonial rule.

To be continued.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/understanding-the-religious-context-of-bangladesh-and-myanmar/80821

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India and Israel using Afghan soil against Pakistan, claims Maulana Sami

Nov 18 2017

A prominent political and religious Maulana Samiul Haq has claimed that the Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies are using the Afghan soil to hatch destructive plots against Pakistan.

Speaking during a gathering on Friday, Maulana Sami said Israel and India are destabilizing Pakistan via the Afghan soil.

He also accused US of being involved in bloodshed in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Kashmir.

Maulana Sami who is also the founder of Darul Uloom Haqqania said peace in Pakistan has links to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He did not disclose any further information regarding his claims of Israeli and Indian involvement in destabilizing efforts in Pakistan through the Afghan soil.

However, the Afghan and Pakistani officials often blame each other of remaining reckless to act against the safe havens of the terror groups using the soil of the two countries to carry out terrorist activities.

The Afghan officials are saying that the Taliban and Haqqani terrorist network leadership councils are based in key cities of Pakistan from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/india-and-israel-using-afghan-soil-against-pakistan-claims-maulana-sami-03867

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Africa

 

Mali: Peacekeepers Increasingly Caught in Mali Crossfire

17 NOVEMBER 2017

By Rudd Konte

Bamako — THE killing of more than 80 peacekeepers in Mali has prompted calls for the United Nations to increase its presence in the West African country. The UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is also hampered by crucial funding gaps in equipment and expertise. Of the 170 peacekeepers killed while serving in UN missions globally since the beginning of 2013 up to the end of September this year, 86 were with MINUSMA. "We need to do more in terms of training, how the force is organized, and modalities of how we protect ourselves and better-protect the population as well, against the threats they are facing," said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. He said peacekeepers faced "very serious challenges" in the four-year-old operation to fulfil its mandate in Mali. Lacroix appealed for other troop contributing countries (TCCs) to come forward to help staff one the UN's most dangerous peacekeeping missions. The country of 18 million people has experienced instability since a rebellion by Muslim extremists in the north in 2012. A coup by military officer Amadou Sanogo, against then-President Amadou Toumani Touré, followed. Militants disregard the administration of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, elected in 2013.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201711170394.html

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El-zakzaky’s continued detention: Clerics lament silence of Human Rights Community

NOVEMBER 18, 2017

In spite of the valid order of the court for the release of Shiite leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife Hajia Zeenat, from their illegal and unconstitutional detention, the federal government has continued to keep the couple. El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since a violent confrontation between his Shiite sect and the Nigerian Army in Kaduna in December 2015. Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/el-zakzakys-continued-detention-clerics-lament-silence-human-rights-community/ Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/el-zakzakys-continued-detention-clerics-lament-silence-human-rights-community/

Reports said the Shiite leader lost one of his eyes in captivity with fears that he might lose the other for lack of medical care. Request by his counsel for his release to enable    him    travel abroad for medical attention was also turned down by the government. From the perspective of the Qur’an, human rights are sacrosanct and inviolable. The violation of any right of human beings and even animals, by any ruler is a direct affront to God who created them. Rights created or given by God cannot be abolished by any temporal ruler or human agency. Islam clearly forbids the primitive practice of capturing a free man and put him  in captivity. It disallows enslavement; prohibits incarceration of human being and opposes solitary confinement or detention of individual without recourse to the law. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “There are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgement. Of these three, one is he who enslaves a free man, then sells him and appropriates this money” (al-Bukhari and Ibn Majjah). Saturday Vanguard sought the opinions of various Islamic leaders on the continued detention of El-zakzaky and his wife and expressed their minds on Islamic perspective of human rights violation. Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/el-zakzakys-continued-detention-clerics-lament-silence-human-rights-community/ Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/el-zakzakys-continued-detention-clerics-lament-silence-human-rights-community/

Islam does not support continued detention — Sheikh Ahmad

The National Chief Imam of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdurahman Ahmad said: “Islam talks about rights generally be it humans or animals. But when we talk about human rights, it is central. The most honoured of Allah’s creatures on the surface of the earth are human beings. These human rights are sacrosanct and must not be violated. The violation of this honour generally whether Muslim or non-Muslim, young or old is a direct affront to Allah’s will. It is inalienable and inviolable. Now, if Mallam El Zakzaky has committed an infraction of the law, the appropriate authority to determine that is the law court. It is the court that will pronounce him either innocent or guilty. No man should be held without trial. It is not for any man to determine that other than the law court. Islam insists that it is even better to err in letting the criminal go than to punish the innocent. Islam does not support indefinite detention or arrest without trial. It is part of the problems of our society. 80-90 percent of prisoners are awaiting trial. This is not fair and it is a general problem. That speaks volume about the justice system in Nigeria. “Again, it is rather unfortunate that the Human rights community has been rather silent on this issue. I can’t imagine what would have happened if a Christian clergyman had been held without trial. This is not about whether El-Zakzaky has done anything right or wrong. If he has done any wrong, let him face the law and allow the law takes its course, otherwise, the government should release him. Even animals have right to freedom— Sheikh Balogun The Secretary of Council of Imams and Alfas in Eti-Osa, Lagos, Sheikh Abdurahman Balogun, said: “Islam emphatically says that individual rights of persons, whether young or old must not be violated. This human right we are talking today was first entrenched in Islam before nations adopted it under the Universal Human Rights Act. Even if you don’t agree with the ideas and idiosyncrasies of the Shiites, that does not mean he should be detained without trial. If we are talking about rights of people in Islam, even if the person in question is not a Muslim, it is a sin before God to violate his rights to fair trial, freedom and association. Even the law of this country does not allow indefinite detention of an accused person without trial. He’s kept for a purpose — Akinbode In his own reaction, Alhaji Abdullahi Abdullahi Akinbode, Chief Imam, Founder of Jamaa’tu Ahli Llahi Society, (Jamahliy) believed that government might be keeping El-Zakzaky to protect his life. According to him,    “Islamic law as regards humanity and human rights is clear and unambiguous, same with our laws. Where both of them meet, there is congruency and where they differ, there is conflict. In a multi-religious state, the law of the state will supersede. And where this happens, the state has right to determine what is right as long as it is not injurious to the sovereign existence of the people. Islam allows us by inference that if something is injurious to the environment or its people, you should remove it or cut it off. That is the word-  ‘qatala’  in the Quran which in this sense does not mean kill. Now, the state has the responsibility to protect its people. My feeling is that El-Zakzaky is being kept to protect his life.

Full report at:

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/el-zakzakys-continued-detention-clerics-lament-silence-human-rights-community/

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Libyan militant captured in Egypt claims al-Qaeda link

17 November 2017

A Libyan militant captured in a raid on a group blamed for a deadly attack on Egyptian police said on Thursday that he and other foreign fighters loosely linked to al-Qaeda had been operating out of Egypt’s western desert since January.

A new and little-known group called Ansar al-Islam claimed responsibility for the October attack, posing a new threat to Egyptian security forces battling a stubborn ISIS insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula since 2013.

The Interior Ministry said on Thursday that Abdelrahim Mohamed al-Mesmari, from the Libyan city of Derna, was captured by Egyptian forces following the attack in the western desert in which authorities have said 16 policemen were killed.

Mesmari said he adopted extremist ideas following the revolution on Moammar Qaddafi. He later joined a group in Egypt headed by former Egyptian army officer Emadeddine Abdulhamid, aka Sheikh Hatem.

The group settled in Wahat since January 2017 and participated in the murder of Copts who were heading to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Egypt.

He added that the terrorist group was surprised when the police arrived so Sheikh Hatem ordered them to attack the policemen. The fighting ensued until they killed the archeological guide who told the police where they were. They also took Captain Mohammed al-Hayes captive.

As to why he kills others, Mesmari said he kills based on an ideological perspective as he views those he murders as “infidels.” He added he was fighting to establish a caliphate and that he feels no remorse whatsoever when he kills someone.

“If I fight based on my beliefs, I will hopefully be rewarded,” said Mesmari, who added that he had first joined a jihadist group in 2014. “We did not know the police were monitoring us,” he said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/11/17/Libyan-militant-captured-in-Egypt-claims-al-Qaeda-link.html

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UN seeks to put human rights experts into new Sahel force

18 November 2017

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is seeking to put human rights advisers and monitors into the 5,000-troop African force that is charged with fighting extremists in western Africa’s vast Sahel region.

Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmour, the deputy human rights chief who recently visited Mali, told several reporters Friday that he told senior military officials from the five troop-contributing countries that protecting human rights “can help unlock” funding for the force.

The five nations — Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad — have been grappling with a growing menace from extremists, including the Daesh group, Boko Haram and groups linked to Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1195281/world

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