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Islamic World News ( 20 Oct 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Court Sentences Islamic Preacher to 12 Years for Leading a Prayer in 2014 In Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, A Former Byzantine Basilica

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 October 2022


People wait in line to attend a morning prayer as part of a collective prayer event at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque to wish peaceful New Year in Istanbul, Turkey on January 1, 2022 [Mehmet Eser/Anadolu Agency]


• Persistent Protests Put Survival of Iran’s Theocratic Regime In Question

• US Says ‘World Will Be Watching’ Iran Treatment of Unveiled Climber

• BJP MLA Sparks Controversy: "If We Get Wealth Only By Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, Then How Come Muslims are Billionaires and Trillionaires”

• Pakistan Records 51% Rise in Terror Attacks in One Year After Taliban Got Power in Afghanistan: Report


Arab World

• Hamas Delegation Visits Syria, Meets Assad, First Time since 2011 To Mend Ties

• Ancient Carvings Discovered At Iconic Iraq Monument Bulldozed By Islamic State

• UAE seeks to lure tech firms in Asia, Europe with long-term residency, financing

• Iran, Saudi Arabia must re-open embassies, Khamenei's top adviser says

• Saudi Arabia releases detained Hamas leader

• Saudi ambassador to US reiterates Kingdom’s position on Russia-Ukraine war

• France repatriates 40 children, 15 women from Syria — foreign ministry



• Tehran: 5 Iranian Crew Members of Venezuelan Plane Freed by Argentina

• FM: US Guarantees Needed to Ensure Iran's Economic Benefits under JCPOA

• Diplomat Slams Violence, Sabotage against Iran's Foreign Missions, Envoys

• Iran imposes sanctions on UK institutions, individuals for ‘inciting riots’

• Iran arrests 14 foreigners over unrest: Fars news agency

• Israel denies selling weapons to Ukraine

• Jewish settlers pepper spray Israeli soldiers in West Bank

• Israeli forces kill another Palestinian near al-Quds after 'shooting'


North America

• Retired US generals take top jobs with Saudi Arabia amid repression, rights abuses

• Ethics lawyer's anti-Muslim tweets weighed at U.S. appeals court

• Canada imposes new sanctions over human rights violations in Iran

• State Department confirms detention of US national in Saudi Arabia



• A Mosque Was Attacked In Gurugram. Then, Muslims Were Made To ‘Compromise’ With Hindus

• Shringar Gauri-Gyanvapi case: Allahabad high court admits mosque committee’s plea

• BJP to give 1,200 tickets to Pasmanda Muslims in Uttar Pradesh municipal elections

• New Gujarat airbase near Pakistan to enhance security: PM Modi

• NIA files chargesheet against 12 in Sunjwan terror attack case

• 26/11 Victims Heroes of Our World: UN Chief in Mumbai

• Hindu Activists Begin Door-To-Door Campaign against Halal Products In Karnataka

• How NRI Muslims are finding perfect life partners in India

• Indian billionaire Ambani spends $163 million on Dubai villa last owned by Alshaya



• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Distances Itself from Talks with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan

• Pak Defence Minister raises concern over militancy in Swat district

• SC to hear contempt plea against Imran today

• Nuclear disarmament, delivery systems linked, says Pakistan


South Asia

• China Puts Hold on Proposal by India, US at UN to Blacklist Pakistan-Based Let Terrorist Hafiz Talah Saeed

• Tajik President Says Security Belt Must Be Built Around Afghanistan

• Suicide by Domestic Violence: Child Kills Self in Northern Afghanistan

• Iranian FM and Pakistan’s Afghanistan Envoy meet to discuss Afghanistan’s Status Quo


Southeast Asia

• Report Dubious Preachers to Religious Authorities, Malaysian Minister tells Muslims

• Giant Dome of Jakarta Islamic Centre Grand Mosque Collapses After Fire

• Malaysia to hold national elections on November 19

• BN will reject any overtures from PAS after GE15, says Zahid

• Malaysia plans early polls as PM Yaakob’s party seeks new mandate



• Malawi Farmer Finds Mass Grave With Bodies Of Suspected Ethiopian Migrants

• 2023: Lagos CAN Chairman Adegbite under fire for backing Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket

• Chad announces state of emergency as floods affect more than 1 million people

• Algeria, Russia hold joint military exercise in Mediterranean

• Mali vows to defend nation against French intrusions, meddling



• Macron Tours Grand Mosque In Paris On Centenary Visit

• France repatriates 55 from Syria camps, including 40 children

• Turkey-Greece tensions spiral into bigger crisis over 92 naked refugees

• Ireland's leading university divests from arms companies complicit with apartheid Israel

• Syrian photojournalist injured by police during Paris protests

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Saudi Court Sentences Islamic Preacher to 12 Years for Leading a Prayer in 2014 In Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, A Former Byzantine Basilica


People wait in line to attend a morning prayer as part of a collective prayer event at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque to wish peaceful New Year in Istanbul, Turkey on January 1, 2022 [Mehmet Eser/Anadolu Agency]


Riyadh (AsiaNews) – A Saudi court last week sentenced an Islamic preacher to 12 years in prison for leading a prayer in 2014 in Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine basilica, now a mosque.

The sentence reflects, once again, the kingdom’s repressive attitude towards activists, dissidents, and even clerics who are not aligned with the regime or, more simply, disliked by the people in power.

According to Prisoners of Conscience, a Saudi rights NGO, Imam and Qur‘an reciter Abdullah Basfar was convicted and sentenced on 12 October but the news was reported only a few days ago.

The cleric was convicted “Because he accepted an invitation to lead prayers in the courtyard of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Turkey,” Prisoners of Conscience twitted. At the time, the basilica-cum-mosque was still a museum. “We condemn the ruling,” the NGO said, “and we call on the authorities to release him unconditionally”.

One of the kingdom's most influential clerics, Abdullah Basfar taught Islamic and Sharia studies at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

Yet, even though he was a respected figure, in 2020 he became one of the many targets of the repressive policy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman since the 2014 prayer in Hagia Sophia had gone viral online.

Basfar, who has been in pre-trial custody for the past two years, was allegedly harassed and abused during questioning.

Saudi authorities have never clearly indicated the reasons for his arrest, but it is suspected that they wanted to punish him for leading a prayer in Turkey.

At the time (2014), relations between the two countries were very tense, the more so following the killing in 2018 of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi on bin Salman’s order. More recently though, the two dominant Sunni countries have patched up their differences.

Like the Chora church, Hagia Sophia became a museum by decree (in 1934) under then Turkish President Kemal Ataturk. In 2020, it was turned back into a mosque. Last April, the first prayers for Ramadan were held in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamo-nationalist policies, especially at a time when he was trying to divert public attention away from the country’s economic crisis and retain power.

Following the decision by Turkey’s Council of State to overturn the decree, Islamic authorities covered the images of Jesus, as well as Christian frescoes and icons with a white curtain, triggering an international political-religious controversy.

Source: Asia News

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Persistent Protests Put Survival Of Iran’s Theocratic Regime In Question


Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei take part in a graduation ceremony for IRGC cadets in Tehran in 2019. (AFP file)


Alex Whiteman

October 19, 2022

LONDON: Following a month of nationwide protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police, there is growing belief that the militant clerical regime, in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is living on borrowed time.

Amini’s death on Sept. 16 ignited a tinderbox of pent-up frustrations in Iran over falling living standards and discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, leading to the biggest wave of mass protests since the Green Movement of 2009.

A month on, the unrest has persisted, spreading to at least 80 cities despite a “ruthless” crackdown that has left more than 200 dead.

Such is the scale, fury and determination of the protests there are now many Iran watchers and scholars of social movements beginning to talk openly about the possibility of regime change.

It certainly would not be unprecedented for a nonviolent protest movement of this scale to succeed. According to research by Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed in this vein as armed conflicts.

Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, including in the Philippines in 1986, Georgia in 2003, and Sudan and Algeria in 2019, Chenoweth found it takes around 3.5 percent of the population actively participating in such protests to ensure serious political change.

Such is the influence of Chenoweth’s work that the phenomenon has been dubbed “the 3.5 percent rule.”

Roham Alvandi, associate professor of international history at the London School of Economics, believes “something fundamental” has changed in the wake of the protests, which may constitute “the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic.”

In the immediate aftermath of Amini’s death, the protests primarily focused on the morality police and their strict dress code for women. Videos of these early demonstrations shared on social media showed women removing and burning their headscarves in acts of defiance.

Soon, however, the focus of the protests grew to include a whole range of other grievances, from tumbling living standards as a result of crippling Western sanctions, to the denial of basic rights for ethnic minorities.

However, it was the decision by workers at the Abadan and Kangan oil refineries and the Bushehr petrochemical plant to join the protests that galvanized the belief that the regime could be on its last legs.

Strike action played a critical role in Iran’s 1906 and 1979 revolutions, Alvandi told Arab News, arguing that it could now serve to “paralyze the Islamic Republic and show the powerlessness of the state in the face of this movement.”

Sanam Vakil, deputy director and senior research fellow for the Middle East North Africa program at Chatham House, concurs with this assessment, telling Arab News a series of strikes comparable to those experienced in 1979 could be a “key ingredient, crippling the economy and showcasing a broader base of support.”

However, Vakil says there are several factors that could determine the success of the movement. Chief among them is leadership.

“The strength and weakness of the movement is its lack of clear leadership,” Vakil tld Arab News. “It is a strength because without a clear structural organization and leader it will be hard to stamp it out completely, but those components are also very necessary if this movement is going to be a real challenge to the regime.”

And although the protests of 2009 and 2019 may have been bigger in terms of numbers taking to the streets, analysts have pointed to the cross-generational character of the movement and the sheer number of cities and regions that are taking part.

“It’s not often you have schoolchildren telling the Iranian president to get lost,” said Vakil.

Yassamine Mather, an expert in Iranian politics at Oxford University and the editor of the academic journal “Critique,” believes this wide base of support spanning many segments of Iranian society is a key strength which raises the possibility of regime change.

“It is also a strength that they have gone beyond the hijab and are addressing other issues — repression, political prisoners, the high price of basic foods, unemployment or lack of secure employment, and corruption,” Mather told Arab News.

“And then there is support from oil workers in specific areas, such as Assalouyeh, as well as support by Hafttapeh sugarcane workers, a syndicate of Iran’s teachers, and sections of the legal profession. In Tehran, lawyers have been demonstrating this week.

“Not to mention that many of the protesters are young. In some cases they are schoolchildren, so they are not easily scared. It helps that the regime has failed to launch either sustained or successful pro-government counter demonstrations.”

Mather also pointed to an apparent sense of mounting disunity at the top following the decision by former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani to publicly deviate from the regime’s line that US and Israeli intelligence efforts had manufactured the protests.

Speaking to an Iranian news site, Larijani said an “extremist” government policy on the hijab had engendered an extremist counterreaction among the Iranian public, and called for greater tolerance.

“Reformists within the regime trying to distance themselves from hardliners, some calling on security forces to side with the ‘people who are protesting,’ have probably come a little too late,” said Mather.

“The fact is, protesters are distancing themselves from the regime itself and the slogan ‘death to the dictator, be it Khamenei or the Shah’ is now very prominent.”

Iranian opposition groups in the diaspora are watching closely as events unfold in Iran, but fear the regime is unlikely to collapse without putting up a fight.

Elham Zanjani, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran Women’s Committee, told Arab News it was “certainly possible” that the protests could lead to regime change, but far from inevitable.

“The vast majority of the Iranian people are against the regime, they are chanting ‘down with Khamenei,’ ‘We don’t want the mullahs nor the Shah,’ and they have little doubt that what they are looking for, freedom and democracy, separation of religion and state etc., won’t see the light with this regime in power,” said Zanjani.

“But one cannot underestimate the regime’s dreadful potential of repression, as they showed in November 2019, killing over 1,500 protesters in five days.”

Indeed, sheer brute force could well be enough to ultimately stifle the movement.

“There is also the issue that there is neither an obvious alternative nor a strategy about who or what would replace the current regime,” said Mather. “Mixed with this you have the ability of the security forces to kill, injure and arrest protesters.”

Help from external powers is also likely to taint the movement and lend weight to the regime’s claims of a foreign conspiracy.

“Support by Western governments — this is also a potential weakness as it invokes ideas of ‘color revolutions,’ and notions of foreign interventions with the aim of dividing Iran into small regional states,” said Mather, referring to the fragmentation of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s along predominantly ethnolinguistic lines.

For Zanjani, however, international support remains an important factor for the ultimate overthrow of the regime. Such support ought to include punitive measures to prevent the regime employing further oppressive measures against peaceful protesters.

“We must overcome, one way or another, this evil repressive power,” Zanjani told Arab News.

Source: Arab News

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US Says ‘World Will Be Watching’ Iran Treatment of Unveiled Climber


This image grab from footage obtained from Iranian State TV IRIB on Wednesday shows Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian climber who competed abroad without a hijab, giving an interview at Imam Khomeini International Airport. (AFP)


October 19, 2022

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday criticized the Iranian government’s treatment of climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed abroad without a headscarf, and warned that the world was watching.

“The Iranian regime and its leaders have a long history of abusing the rights of women and violating their freedom of expression, including through threats, through intimidation and violence,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“Reports of intimidation and threats to Elnaz Rekabi appear to be the latest inexcusable example of such tactics. The world and the Iranian people will be watching how she is treated,” he said.

Rekabi competed in South Korea without wearing a headscarf, which is mandatory in the clerical state and a target of nationwide protests after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the notorious “morality police.”

Rekabi was whisked back to Iran and, in an Instagram post and comments at the airport, apologized and said her headscarf had slipped off accidentally.

Activists fear her comments were made under duress and dozens of supporters gathered outside the airport to cheer her on, with some chanting, “Elnaz is a hero.”

Source: Arab News

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BJP MLA Sparks Controversy: "If We Get Wealth Only By Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, Then How Come Muslims are Billionaires and Trillionaires”


An artist gives final touches to idols of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, ahead of Diwali, the festival of lights in Hyderabad | AP


20th October 2022

PATNA: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Bihar Lalan Paswan courted controversy by making bizarre statements about Hindu deities.

Paswan's statement sparked an outrage. People held a protest at Shermari Bazar in Bhagalpur and burnt the effigy of the BJP MLA.

Paswan, who is an MLA from Pirpainti Assembly constituency in Bhagalpur district raised questions on Hindu beliefs and argued with evidence to prove his stance.

He further raised questions on Lakshmi Puja on Diwali.

Paswan said, "If we get wealth only by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, then there would have been no billionaires and trillionaires among Muslims. Muslims do not worship Goddess Lakshmi, are they not rich? Muslims do not worship Goddess Saraswati. Are there no scholars among Muslims? Do not they become IAS or IPS?"

The BJP leader said everything is people's belief. He said the affair of "Atma and Paramatma" is just people's belief.

He said, "If you believe then it is a goddess and if not then it is just a stone idol. It is up to us whether we believe in Gods and Goddesses or not. We have to think on a scientific basis to reach a logical conclusion. If you stop believing, then your intellectual capacity will increase."

"It is believed that Bajrangbali is a deity with power and bestows strength. Muslims or Christians do not worship Bajrangbali. Are they not powerful? The day you stop believing, all these things will end," added Paswan.

Earlier, Paswan came to light when he allegedly leaked a personal conversation with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav (ANI)

Source: New Indian Express

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Pakistan records 51% rise in terror attacks in one year after Taliban got power in Afghanistan: Report


Photo: The Times of India


Oct 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan witnessed a record 51 per cent increase in terrorist attacks in one year after the Afghan-Taliban got power in Afghanistan in August last year, according to a local think-tank report.

The rag-tag Islamist rebels swarmed the capital Kabul as the US prepared to leave and took over the city without any resistance in a symbolic victory after the world superpower failed to subdue them even after two decades of bloodshed.

“For Pakistan, the perils of a militant regime in Kabul have become unmistakably clear as the country has witnessed a mindboggling 51 per cent increase in the number of terrorist attacks in a single year since the Taliban takeover,” Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) noted in its report ‘Fallout of Afghan situation and Pakistan's policy responses'.

As per the PIPS report, 433 people were killed and 719 were wounded in 250 terrorist attacks in Pakistan between August 15, 2021- August 14, 2022.

Likewise, there is a wave of fear and panic among residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) over the reported return of TTP militants from Afghanistan in recent months. What's more concerning is that militants' movements in the heart of KP such as Peshawar, Swat, Dir, and Tank have also been reported which points to a gradual expansion of militants in the settled districts.

The report says that recently, the police in Lower Dir issued advice to local notables, asking them to take measures for their safety and security in view of the emerging situation in the area. They were advised to reduce unnecessary movements and keep licensed weapons.

Similarly, on August 10, the Swat police issued a statement saying they were undertaking search operations for militants in the mountains of Balasoor and Kabal as well as in Khwazkhela tehsil.

The purpose of these analytical papers is to expand the knowledge base of key stakeholders on Pakistan's Afghan perspective, and its role and interest in Afghan peace and reconciliation.

“The mindless jubilation over Taliban victory is now turning into a rude shock because the evolving security situation under the erratic Taliban rule indicates Pakistan is about to face yet another ordeal viz-a-viz terrorism,” the think-tank said.

It also noted the UN warned that foreign terror groups based in Afghanistan take the Taliban victory as a motivation to disseminate their propaganda in Central and South Asia, and globally.

Key terror outfits with active presence in Afghanistan include Al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K). So far, the Taliban have acted only against the IS-K because it actively challenges the group's rule.

The publication while quoting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more than 300,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan since the Taliban takeover.

The figure contests Pakistani authorities' claim that about 60,000 to 70,000 Afghans entered Pakistan since August last year.

Source: Times Of India

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Arab World


Hamas delegation visits Syria, meets Assad, first time since 2011 to mend ties

19 October 2022

A delegation of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Wednesday in the first such visit in more than a decade as the two sides seek to revitalize their ties.

The deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Hayya, who headed the delegation, said the spirit of resistance was resurrected within the Arab world following their historic visit to Damascus.

“God willing, we will turn the old page and look for the future,” al-Hayyh said, adding that Hamas is against any “Zionist or American aggression on Syria.”

He said the decision to return to Syria was taken without consultations with any group, adding that the Gaza-based resistance movement is determined to revive ties with the Syrian government.

After Wednesday's meeting, al-Hayeh said Assad was “keen on Syria’s support to the Palestinian resistance” and hailed it as a “glorious day.”

"We are ending any individual act that was not approved by the Hamas leadership, and we agreed with President al-Assad to turn the page," he remarked.

"Our meeting with al-Assad marked a glorious day today, and through it, we will resume our presence in Syria and working with Damascus in support of our people and Syria's stability," he said.

The Hamas official also reiterated that the resistance movement told President Assad that Hamas “will support Syria, its sovereignty, and territorial integrity and the Palestinian factions are against any aggression targeting Syrian soil.”

"Hamas is resuming its relationship with our dear Syria. And this is a unanimous decision taken by Hamas's leadership. It was taken with the conviction that this is the right path and that we need to move on from the mistakes of the past… The strength of the Arab World stems from Syria's strength," the Palestinian official explained.

"The relations with Syria will give strength to the Axis of Resistance and to all the believers in the resistance," Hayya stressed, pointing out that "Hamas did not hear any opposition from any state that was informed of its decision to reconcile with Syria, including Turkey and Qatar."

Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command - Talal Naji, expressed the Front's happiness with the restoration of relations between Syria and Hamas.

Following the meeting with Syria’s president, the Palestinian resistance factions noted that Assad stressed that “the unity of the Palestinian ranks is the guarantee for restoring the rights of the Palestinian people.”

In a statement, the factions said the Syrian president reiterated Syria's support for the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli aggression and underscored that resistance is the only way to liberate the land.

Moreover, the Palestinian factions affirmed in their statement that Syria's steadfastness also strengthened the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.

The visit comes after non-public negotiations between Hamas and the Syrian leadership were mediated by the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, in which the attendees discussed the disagreements that led to a decade-long rupture in ties.

Back in September, Hamas announced in a statement that it would restore its relations with Syria, which "has been supporting the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance factions for decades."

Relations between Hamas and the Syrian government were downgraded in 2011 following the outbreak of foreign-sponsored conflict in the Arab country.

Hamas vacated its headquarters in Damascus the following year and moved it to the Qatari capital city of Doha.

Source: Press TV

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Ancient Carvings Discovered At Iconic Iraq Monument Bulldozed By Islamic State

October 19, 2022


When Islamic State extremists bulldozed the ancient monumental Mashki Gate in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2016, it was part of the group's systematic destruction of cultural heritage.

Now, U.S. and Iraqi archaeologists working to reconstruct the site have unearthed extraordinary 2,700-year-old rock carvings among the ruins.

They include eight finely made marble bas-relief carvings depicting war scenes from the rule of the Assyrian kings in the ancient city of Nineveh, a local Iraqi official said Wednesday.

Discovered last week, the detailed carvings show a soldier drawing back a bow in preparation to fire an arrow, as well as finely chiseled vine leaves and palms.

The gray stone carvings date to the rule of King Sennacherib, in power from 705 to 681 BC, according to a statement from the Iraqi Council of Antiquities and Heritage.

Sennacherib was responsible for expanding Nineveh as the Assyrians' imperial capital and largest city — siting on a major crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Iranian plateau — including constructing a magnificent palace.

Fadel Mohammed Khodr, head of the Iraqi archaeological team working to restore the site, said the carvings were likely taken from Sennacherib's palace and used as construction material for the gate.

"We believe that these carvings were moved from the palace of Sennacherib and reused by the grandson of the king to renovate the gate of Mashki and to enlarge the guard room," Khodr said.


When they were used in the gate, the area of the carvings poking out above ground was erased.

"Only the part buried underground has retained its carvings," Khodr added.

ALIPH, the Swiss-based International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas, said the Mashki Gate had been an "exceptional building."

IS targeted the fortified gate, which had been restored in the 1970s, because it was an "iconic part of Mosul's skyline, a symbol of the city's long history," it added.

ALIPH is supporting the reconstruction of the Mashki Gate by a team of archaeologists from Iraq's Mosul University alongside U.S. experts from the University of Pennsylvania.

The restoration project, which is being carried out in collaboration with Iraqi antiquities authorities, aims to turn the damaged monument into an educational center on Nineveh's history.

Iraq was the birthplace of some of the world's earliest cities.

It was also home to Sumerians and Babylonians and among humankind's first examples of writing.

But in the past decades, Iraq has been the target of artifacts smuggling. Looters decimated the country's ancient past, including after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Source: VOA News

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UAE seeks to lure tech firms in Asia, Europe with long-term residency, financing

19 October, 2022

The United Arab Emirates is trying to lure advanced technology companies away from hubs in Asia and Europe by fast-tracking business licenses and offering long-term residency for employees.

The Gulf country is targeting more than 300 digital firms under a program launched in July and about 40 companies are in the process of moving, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani Al Zeyoudi, said in an interview.

The UAE’s nimble handling of the pandemic and liberal visa policies have already made it an attractive destination for bankers and hedge fund managers to commodity traders. Authorities now want to attract firms in sectors including food technology, robotics and blockchain, and encourage them to set up global or regional headquarters in the Middle Eastern business hub.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi already host the Mideast headquarters of an array of global financial firms. Still, there is competition from global hubs and from Saudi Arabia, which is trying to get firms to move their regional headquarters there by 2024.

“The timing was very crucial because what we noticed from the beginning of the year was that many companies would like to move because of inflation, the tighter regulatory environment in many parts of the world, including Asia -- especially Singapore and Hong Kong,” Al Zeyoudi said.

Under the scheme, digital companies get faster business licensing and easier access to banking and financing. Employees can be offered 10-year UAE residency “golden visas” and in some cases the program -- which unifies government bodies, freezones and institutions -- helps find accommodation and admissions to schools.

The so-called “golden visa” allows foreigners to work, live and study without needing a UAE work sponsor in a country where expatriate residents make up nearly 90 percent of the population.

As the UAE seeks to further diversify away from oil income, the aim is to create more high-skilled jobs in futuristic industries, Al Zeyoudi said.

“We want to make sure we are harnessing the fourth industrial revolution -- so the latest technology, whether it’s the Internet of things, blockchain, AI,” he said. “We are redefining the way FDI is usually done.”

The program groups together freezones in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Lenders connecting with businesses under the scheme include Emirates NBD, Sharjah Investment Bank, and Wio -- a digital bank backed by Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ.

Two privately-held US companies are among those already in the process of moving -- Change Foods, a food-tech group that is working on technology to produce natural milk in a lab and Gecko Robotics, a firm that designs, builds, and operates robots, Al Zeyoudi said.

European software development company Softserve is relocating technical staff, coders, consultants, and executives to the UAE while two fintech firms, and, are setting up a regional headquarters under the program.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran, Saudi Arabia must re-open embassies, Khamenei's top adviser says

Syed Zafar Mehdi 


A top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader and former foreign minister has emphasized the need to restore diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

In an interview on Wednesday, Ali Akbar Velayati said Iran and Saudi Arabia are “neighbors” and must “co-exist with each other.”

The former top Iranian diplomat, who is an adviser on international affairs to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the embassies of the two countries must be reactivated to “solve problems.”

The two countries severed their diplomatic relations after a Saudi diplomatic mission in Tehran was attacked by angry mobs in January 2016 over the execution of Shia Saudi cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Since last April, the two sides have been engaged in negotiations, brokered by Baghdad, to restore diplomatic ties.

The last few rounds of talks have eased tensions, with Amir-Abdollahian in July hinting that the talks would advance from the security to the political level.

There had also been speculation about a possible meeting at the level of foreign ministers; however, no side has confirmed it yet.

Iran recently resumed diplomatic ties with the UAE and Kuwait, the two close Saudi allies who had snapped ties with Tehran after the attack on Saudi diplomatic missions in 2016, in solidarity with Riyadh.

Among the key sticking points in the marathon tension-easing talks is the devastating war in Yemen, where Iran and Saudi find themselves on the opposite side.

Meanwhile, in other remarks, Velayati termed recent events in Iran as “unfortunate,” referring to protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old who died in police custody for allegedly not wearing a headscarf properly.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi Arabia releases detained Hamas leader


GAZA CITY, Palestine

Saudi Arabia has released Hamas leader Mohammed al-Khudari, the Palestinian group confirmed on Wednesday.

Al-Khudari, 84, was detained by Saudi authorities in 2019 among 60 group members and sympathizers.

Last year, a Saudi court slapped al-Khudari with a 15-year jail term on charges of “providing support to the resistance”, before the sentence was reduced to three years in prison.

“We hope the release will be a step towards settling the issue of all detained group members and sympathizers in the kingdom,” Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua told Anadolu Agency.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Saudi ambassador to US reiterates Kingdom’s position on Russia-Ukraine war

October 19, 2022

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US on Wednesday issued a fact sheet reiterating the Kingdom’s position on the war in Ukraine and its condemnation of Russia’s attempts to annex occupied territory.

Princess Reema Bint Bandar’s fact sheet was released following a call between Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which they discussed Saudi opposition to referendums in areas controlled by Moscow on becoming part of Russia.

“During a call with President Zelensky on Oct.14, HRH the Crown Prince stressed that the Kingdom’s vote for the resolution condemning the annexation emanates from its commitment to the deep-rooted principles in the UN charter and international law,” the fact sheet said.

It added that Saudi Arabia was committed “to the respect of state sovereignty and the principles of good neighborliness, and resolving conflicts by peaceful means.”

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution by a large majority on Oct. 12, calling on countries not to recognize the four regions of Ukraine which Russia has claimed, following so-called referendums held late last month. The resolution demanded  that Moscow reverse course on its “attempted illegal annexation.”

The Kingdom also voted in support of a UN resolution deploring Russian aggression against Ukraine, demanding that Russia immediately ceases its use of force, and withdraws all of its military from Ukrainian territory on March 2, “in line with its moral position supporting international law, the UN charter, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, including Ukraine.”

The crown prince also announced an additional $400 million humanitarian aid package for Ukraine.

The fact sheet also highlighted the crown prince’s mediation efforts, which have resulted in the release of ten prisoners of war from five countries, including two Americans.

“The president of Ukraine expressed his thanks and appreciation for HRH’s readiness to continue his mediation efforts aiming for the resolution of the crisis, and thanked the Kingdom for its established position and its humanitarian initiatives,” the fact sheet also said.

It added that Saudi Arabia had extended the visas of Ukrainian visitors, allowing tourists and residents in the Kingdom to remain there, and that Saudi Arabia had further supported humanitarian relief efforts through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, providing aid worth $10 million to Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

The fact sheet said that the crown prince had “affirmed the Kingdom’s support for efforts to deescalate the crisis during calls to President Zelensky and President Putin.”

Source: Arab News

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France repatriates 40 children, 15 women from Syria — foreign ministry

October 20, 2022

PARIS: France said on Thursday it carried out a new operation to return French nationals — 40 children and 15 women — from Kurdish-run camps in northeastern Syria.

The children were handed over to the child care services and will have medical and social follow-ups, the foreign ministry said in a statement, while the women would be transferred to the judicial authorities.

“France expresses its thanks to local authorities... for their cooperation which has made this operation possible,” the ministry added.

In September, The European Court of Human Rights ruled that France must re-examine repatriation requests from two French women who traveled to Syria with their partners to join Islamic State. The requests were also for the children they gave birth to there.

The French citizens were among more than 40,000 foreign nationals, most of them Iraqis, in detention, according to Human Rights Watch.

Source: Arab News

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Tehran: 5 Iranian Crew Members of Venezuelan Plane Freed by Argentina


Kana’ani made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday, noting the five Iranian nationals were freed after 129 days of diplomatic efforts as well as joint legal and consular campaigns conducted by Iran and Venezuela. 

He added the Argentinean investigating judge ultimately ruled that the documents provided by the plaintiffs — namely DAIA, the umbrella organization of the Zionist community in Argentina, as well as two Zionist members of Argentina’s parliament — were insufficient and invalid, ordering the release of the plane’s Iranian crew members and lifting their travel ban.  

The spokesperson also stated that the Iranian crew members of the Venezuelan plane were heading back home.

A Boeing 747 cargo plane owned by Venezuelan company Emtrasur with 19 crew members on board has been grounded since it landed in Argentina in early June over alleged violations of US sanctions.

On Friday, Federal judge Federico Villena announced that there was no basis to prosecute the remaining five people after the 14 other crew members had been granted release in prior months, but the judicial investigation would remain open.

Source: Fars News Agency

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FM: US Guarantees Needed to Ensure Iran's Economic Benefits Under JCPOA


Amir Abdollahian spoke in a TV documentary on Tuesday evening about the "untold stories during the President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi government's foreign diplomacy over last year".

Focusing on the latest status of the nuclear talks, Amir Abdollahian said that Iran's objective is reaching a good and sustainable agreement, but reliable guarantees, too are needed.

The senior diplomat added that Iran has not left the negotiation table, but is not ready for accepting imposed losses instead of securing "our national interests".

"One of the problems is that the guarantees are clearly defined, but the details about lifting the sanctions are not clearly defined yet," the foreign minister stressed.

The top diplomat stressed that Iran will use its entire potentials and capacities to secure the nation's interests, either in the West, or in the East, and will not abandon any effort.

Iran stresses it has not quit the negotiating table with the world powers, but will not put all its eggs in the negotiation basket and will not wait for the United States to return to its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal. Iranian officials stress that Tehran has not left the negotiating table with the world powers, but arriving at a deal requires the US pragmatic attitude.

The United States and Iran have traded responses via the EU to a proposal put forward by the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell. Tehran submitted its initial answer in mid-August and Washington replied to it about a week later.

Washington claims that Tehran has taken "a step backward" with its latest response to a European Union proposal, calling a near-term agreement "unlikely".

Tehran says its response to Washington's view regarding the EU's proposed draft text was constructive and transparent. Officials stress that receiving guarantees from the Western side is the most important issue in the talks and Iran wants stronger guarantees from the US to clinch an agreement.

Tehran says it will not be able to trust Washington as long as President Joe Biden continues the wrong policy of maximum pressure and sanctions practiced by Donald Trump against Iran. Iranian officials say the Biden administration has yet done nothing but hollow promises to lift sanctions against Tehran. They blast the US addiction to sanctions, and slammed the POTUS for continuing his predecessor's policy on Iran.

Tehran and the five remaining parties to the nuclear deal have held several rounds of negotiations since April last year to restore the agreement, which was unilaterally abandoned by Trump in May 2018.

In quitting the agreement, Trump restored sanctions on Iran as part of what he called the “maximum pressure” campaign against the country. Those sanctions are being enforced to this day by the Biden administration, even though it has repeatedly acknowledged that the policy has been a mistake and a failure.

Iranian officials say the ball is in the US' court, and the Biden administration should assure Tehran that it will not repeat Trump's past mistakes.

Diplomats have also criticized Washington for raising excessive demands from Tehran during the nuclear talks, and blocking efforts to reach an agreement on the JCPOA. They emphasized the Tehran's will to reach a good, strong and lasting agreement, and stressed that the US should lift unilateral sanctions, and assure Iran that it will not repeat its past mistakes.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Diplomat Slams Violence, Sabotage Against Iran's Foreign Missions, Envoys


Ershadi said in a statement on Tuesday that some of the country’s diplomatic missions, consular premises, and diplomats have been the target of acts of violence in some European countries, including Norway, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden.

“My delegation would like to express its condemnation of any acts of violence committed against its missions and representatives, in particular, the significant delays in intervention or failure to take any measures by receiving states’ law enforcement forces in some cases,” the Iran’s deputy permanent representative to the UN announced in a statement before the 6th Committee on protection, security and safety of diplomatic missions and representatives.

“In addition to being exceptional and significant, the scope and scale of this well-organized violence against Iranian diplomatic and consular facilities, as well as their representatives in Europe, are also a part of a larger campaign that some states have been waging against Iran,” she added.

Ershadi further said that acts of violence conducted against Iran’s diplomatic and consular premises and their representatives also include the provocations among local populations in some of our neighboring countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

She noted that such acts are conducted by the diplomatic missions of a number of specific countries accredited to those countries.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran invites the respective states to engage in a constructive dialog with the diplomatic missions in their territories with a view to examining the most effective ways to ensure the full protection of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives,” the diplomat added.

The Iranian envoy also raised concerns over the “unlawful attempts” made by certain states to misuse diplomatic immunities and privileges to “conceal operations that would ultimately undermine the sanctity of the functions of diplomatic envoys".

“Members of the missions and the sending States are expected to fully respect Iran's laws and regulations as the receiving state, including refraining from meddling in its internal affairs,” she continued.

“Iran remains willing to resolve any disputes in this respect peacefully and strongly urges other states to uphold their obligations under the two Vienna Conventions,” she stated.

Since last month, assailants have on several occasions targeted Iran’s diplomatic sites and the country’s ambassadors in European countries. The acts of violence have occurred in the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini in hospital three days after she collapsed at a police station in Tehran.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over her death. The demonstrations soon turned violent. A special committee has been established to investigate different aspects of her tragic death.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei severely censured the deadly riots, saying they were orchestrated in advance by the United States and the Israeli regime.

“I state it clearly that these developments were planned by America, the Zionist regime and their acolytes. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the country’s progress. The Iranian nation proved to be fairly strong during recent events and will bravely come onto the scene wherever necessary in the future,” he added.

In recent days, Iranian officials have blamed the United States, the European Unions, and several Western states for meddling in Iran's internal affairs over the death of Mahsa. They advised the US and its allies against "opportunism and instrumentalization of the issue of human rights" by misusing the incident.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran imposes sanctions on UK institutions, individuals for ‘inciting riots’

19 October, 2022

Iran designated several British people and institutions on Wednesday for their “deliberate actions in support of terrorism, incitement of violence, and human rights violations,” Iran's foreign ministry said.

The sanctions, published on the ministry's Telegram page, include a ban on issuing visas and other ineffectual moves such as the seizure of designated individuals' assets in Iran, are a countermeasure to London's stance over protests that have gripped Iran during the past month following the death of a young woman in police custody.

“The listed natural and legal persons have, among other things, carried out activities that have led to unrest, violence and terrorist acts against the Iranian nation,” the ministry said.

BBC Persian, the intelligence organisation Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and people such as Conservative politicians Stephen Crabb and Tom Tugendhat appear on Tehran's list of sanctions.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran arrests 14 foreigners over unrest: Fars news agency

19 October, 2022

Iranian authorities have arrested 14 foreigners over unrest that has rocked the country in recent weeks, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.

“Investigations show that citizens of 14 countries, including the US, Russia, Austria, France, the United Kingdom, and Afghanistan, have been arrested in recent riots in the country, of which Afghan nationals are the most numerous,” Fars reported.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel denies selling weapons to Ukraine

Zain Khalil 



Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has denied selling weapons to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion of the European country.

"We are not selling weapons to Ukraine," Gantz said in an interview with the Jewish ultra-Orthodox Kol Chai radio.

The defense minister said that Tel Aviv had not previously sold arms to Ukraine.

On Monday, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai called on the Israeli government to send weapons to Ukraine in response to reports about sending Iranian missiles to Russia.

Commenting on Shia’s statements, Gantz said, "he is mistaken, I am the defense minister who is responsible for exporting Israeli weapons."

In response to Shai's statement, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Israel against arms deliveries to Ukraine.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jewish settlers pepper spray Israeli soldiers in West Bank

October 20, 2022

JERUSALEM: Jewish West Bank settlers stormed through a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said Thursday, throwing stones at Palestinian cars and using pepper spray on Israeli troops who were trying to disperse the settlers.

The settler rampage late Wednesday comes days after a similar incident in the same area and as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are surging over Israeli raids in the West Bank and an uptick in shooting attacks by Palestinians.

Also Thursday, Palestinian health officials said a 16-year-old Palestinian died after being wounded in clashes with Israeli troops late last month. The Palestinians called a general strike throughout the West Bank in response to the spiraling violence.

The rampage took place near Huwara, a Palestinian town in the northern West Bank near the city of Nablus, where a group of disaffected youth has taken up arms against Israel and in frustration with the Palestinian leadership’s close security ties to it.

Palestinian militants in the area have carried out several roadside shootings in recent weeks. The area is home to a number of hard-line settlements, whose residents often intimidate Palestinians and vandalize their property.

Critics accuse Israel of turning a blind eye to settler violence against Palestinians and treating them with impunity, while being heavy-handed with Palestinian assailants or protesters. Settler violence has in the past also led to confrontations with soldiers which often sparks condemnations from politicians but rarely leads to a solution to the problem.

The military said dozens of settlers ran through the town, throwing rocks at Palestinian cars. The settlers used pepper spray on the battalion commander as well as another soldier. The settlers sprayed another two soldiers at a nearby checkpoint, the military said.

It was not immediately clear why the settlers were allowed to continue to another location after the initial incident.

In a statement, the military’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, condemned the violence.

“This is a very serious incident that embodies shameful and disgraceful criminal behavior that demands strict and swift justice,” he said.

The violence comes as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have surged in recent months.

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2015.

Mohammed Fadi Nuri, 16, was shot in the stomach last month by Israeli troops near the city of Ramallah and died Thursday. The general strike called for Thursday was to affect all sectors except for vital services like hospitals or bakeries.

The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks in the spring killed 19 people in Israel and more in recent violence. The Israeli military says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Source: Arab News

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Israeli forces kill another Palestinian near al-Quds after 'shooting'

20 October 2022

Israeli forces have killed another Palestinian claiming he was trying to attack troopers at a West Bank checkpoint.

Udai Tamimi was gunned down during a reported firefight with the forces at the entrance of the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim in the east of the holy occupied city of al-Quds on Wednesday.

Tamimi "fired at the entrance of Maale Adumim towards security guards wounding one of them in the hand before being neutralized by the other guards," the Israeli police alleged in a statement.

He was wanted by the Israeli military after killing an Israeli soldier, identified as Noa Lazar, at a checkpoint near the Shuafat Palestinian refugee camp in al-Quds on Oct. 8.

The 10-day search for Tamimi witnessed the Israeli military shutting down the entrances to the camp and laying siege that paralyzed healthcare services and schools there.

The Israeli regime has intensified its deadly crackdown on Palestinians in the occupied territories. More than 170 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks so far this year.

The regime occupied the West Bank during a heavily-Western-backed war in 1967.

Ever since it has dotted the territory with hundreds of illegal settlements that have come to house more than 600,000 Israeli settlers.

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

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Source: Press TV

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North America


Retired US generals take top jobs with Saudi Arabia amid repression, rights abuses

19 October 2022

Hundreds of retired US military personnel have taken lucrative jobs with foreign governments, mostly in countries known for political repression and human rights abuses, according to a US media report.

In Saudi Arabia, 15 retired US generals and admirals have worked for the kingdom's defense ministry since 2016. The ministry is led by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, who US intelligence agencies say approved the 2018 brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as part of a violent crackdown on political activists.

The report said 25 retirees from the US air force, army, navy and marine corps were granted permission to take jobs in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-paid American advisers included retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a national security adviser to President Barack Obama, and retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Obama and President George W. Bush, according to The Washington Post.

Most of the retired US personnel have worked as “contractors” for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical role in upgrading their militaries.

The employments come as the Persian Gulf Arab countries have continued to commit human rights abuses at home and abroad. With the so-called advisors' helps, as well as support from the US government, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched a disastrous war on Yemen, triggering a humanitarian crisis and killing thousands of civilians, according to the United Nations.

The US report said foreign governments pay top dollar for such American military expertise, with salary and benefit packages reaching six and, sometimes, seven figures. At the top of the scale, active four-star generals earn $203,698 a year in basic pay.

A consulting firm owned by six retired Pentagon officials and military officers negotiated a $23.6 million contract with Qatar, a Persian Gulf kingdom that hosts a major US air base, though the proposal later fell through, the report said. And, in Azerbaijan, a retired US air force general was offered a consulting job at a rate of $5,000 a day.

Saudi Arabia hired a former US Navy SEAL to work as a special operations adviser for $258,000 a year. The UAE gave annual compensation packages worth more than $200,000 to helicopter pilots and $120,000 to aircraft mechanics, it added.

Besides paying Americans as lobbyists, lawyers, political consultants and think tank analysts to advance their interests in Washington, these oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies have accelerated the hiring of retired US military personnel as part of their plans to splurge on “defense spending” and strengthen their “security partnerships” with the Pentagon.

‘After Khashoggi, business as usual’

A spokesperson for retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who owns two military consulting firms that have held contracts to advise the Saudi defense ministry, said, after Khashoggi’s brutal killing, that the retired Marine general was “disturbed” by the Saudi journalist’s death, and downplayed his firms’ work in Riyadh.

In fact, Jones’s firms not only remained in Saudi Arabia but expanded their partnership with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s slaying, the report said.

In an interview, Jones said one of his consulting firms applied for, and accepted, more work from the Saudi defense ministry in 2019 because “we received encouragement” from the Trump administration to do so.

Source: Press TV

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Ethics lawyer's anti-Muslim tweets weighed at U.S. appeals court

By Mike Scarcella

October 19, 2022

A Tennessee state legal ethics attorney who was fired in 2020 over what the state said were anti-Muslim tweets asked a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to revive his legal challenge to his termination.

An attorney for Gerald "Jerry" Morgan urged the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel at a hearing to overturn a trial judge who ruled that Morgan's former boss, the state's chief attorney disciplinary counsel, could not be sued for firing Morgan based on immunity granted to judicial-related activity.

Morgan was fired from his post as a disciplinary counsel for the state Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court, where he had worked since 2019.

Circuit Judges John Bush and Stephanie Davis, sitting with Senior Circuit Judge Alice Batchelder, weighed where to draw a line between an administrative act of employee discipline that could open a door to liability and a judicial one that might block Morgan's claims.

Davis probed whether Morgan's firing was "really just a personnel matter, which is typically an administrative function."

Morgan was terminated over tweets, some from 2015 and 2016 before he was a lawyer for the board, that were critical of the Democratic Party and Joe Biden. In one tweet, he asked: "Where's the evidence that 'Islam is a religion of peace'"?

A lawyer who was under investigation for alleged misconduct found and complained about Morgan's tweets. In terminating Morgan, the state said his speech "has adversely impacted your ability to successfully perform" job duties.

"Mr. Morgan has never been accused of anything except exercising his First Amendment rights," Morgan's attorney, W. Gary Blackburn, told the appeals court on Wednesday.

Blackburn told Reuters after the hearing that Morgan "had every right to his opinion and every right to express it and needs to be vindicated."

Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment made through his lawyer.

David Rudolph of the Tennessee Attorney General's Office, who represented the state, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

In his argument before the court, Rudolph said that "it's the nature of the functions being performed, not the identity of the actor" that determines immunity.

"Disciplinary counsel are the face of the board in the public and in the courts," he told the panel judges.

Source: Reuters

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Canada imposes new sanctions over human rights violations in Iran

19 October, 2022

Canada imposed sanctions on six individuals and four entities on Wednesday that it said were among the worst offenders that have participated in or enabled “gross human rights violations” in Iran.

“Canada will continue to support them by using all tools at our disposal to respond to the Iranian regime's violations of human rights and its threats to regional peace and security,” Canada's Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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State Department confirms detention of US national in Saudi Arabia

Michael Hernandez  



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Anadolu Agency

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A Mosque Was Attacked In Gurugram. Then, Muslims Were Made To ‘Compromise’ With Hindus

Aishwarya Iyer

Oct 20, 2022

Aas Mohammad held up the lock. Days earlier, on October 12, a mob had used it to lock the mosque where he had prayed since 2013. It is the only mosque in Gurugram’s Bhora Kalan village. Almost a week later, tensions have not died down despite a “faisla” – compromise – that was patched together between the Hindus and Muslims.

Around 7.45 pm on October 12, Mohammad said, a mob of eight to 10 men forced open the doors and entered the mosque where six men were praying. Mohammad was one of them.

They pushed the praying men against the wall, abused them and hit them with plastic chairs and footwear, Mohammad said. All the while, he said, they kept saying, “Ho gayi na namaz, bhago yahaan se [Done with namaz? Now get out of here]”.

As the worshippers were pitched out, the mob locked the door to the mosque. Mohammad and others called the police, who arrived in 10-15 minutes. “Women from our families came out to help us – they [the mob] pushed them too,” he said. “We caught some of the men, but the villagers forced us to let them go.”

The Muslim men who had been praying at the mosque decided to file a police complaint. That same night, a first information report was registered on the complaint of one Nazar Mohammad at the Bilaspur police station. The accused were charged with charges such as unlawful assembly, rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, criminal intimidation as well as “malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings”.

Incidentally, the same day, 47-year-old Ravi Rustagi, a resident of the village, also filed a complaint at the Bilaspur police station, saying the land on which the mosque was built belonged to him. The complaint said that his ancestors had leased out the land, in an oral agreement, to the Muslim family.

It is a claim rejected by Aas Mohammad, who said the land had belonged to his family for generations. He added the tomb behind the mosque, which belongs to the family, is over 100 years old.

However, within 24 hours, the “Faisla” was effected. A meeting between the two communities was organised by the village elders and attended by the local police. Muslim representatives had to let the matter rest. With only four Muslim families in the village, they felt they had no choice.

Nazar gave a signed declaration stating that, in the name of brotherhood, the matter was being put to rest. Members of the Hindu community gave assurances that such an incident would never happen again, although not in writing.

“They only say that both sides are compromising,” said Mohammad Abid, who runs an eatery on the highway. “In reality, only the Muslims are pushed against the wall to bow to their demands.”

When met members of the majority community, they seemed to shrug off the matter. “You know when things like this happen, in anger people [referring to the Muslims] overstate things. This should have never been highlighted,” said sarpanch Yajvender Sharma, who is also standing for the panchayat elections scheduled for November 12.

A month before the elections, his home was teeming with mediapersons and workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Sharma said the boys who had stormed the mosque were drunk, and had been spoken to.

“What even happened? Was the mosque set on fire?” asked 84-year-old Bhani Singh, who was part of a crowd close to Sharma’s home.

An inspection

Nineteen-year-old Nasir, who was in the mosque on October 12, outlined what had happened on the morning of the attack. A crowd of about 200-250 people had gathered outside the mosque to inspect what they claimed was construction work at the mosque, he said.

According to him, the crowd included three candidates in the approaching panchayat polls – Rajesh Chauhan, Anil Bhadoria and Sanjay Vyas. “They wanted to go in and see what construction work we were doing,” he said.

There had been some repair work for seepage in the first floor of the mosque, soaked by recent Delhi rains. To placate the crowd, some of the men were taken inside the mosque and allowed to inspect the premises, said Nasir.

The complaint in the FIR later lodged at Bilaspur police station also mentions the morning’s intimidation. “They threatened us and spoke of throwing us out of the village. We are only four Muslim families in the village. We often get harassed like this,” wrote the complainant, Nazar Mohammad.

Forty-six-year-old Mohammad Abid, who owns a restaurant on the nearby highway, echoed these claims. “We [Muslims] are only four families here,” he said. According to him, most Hindu families wanted them out of the village.

Chauhan admitted they had gone to inspect the mosque on the morning of October 12 but distanced himself from the attack later in the day, saying he had not been part of the mob.

After Chauhan and others were allowed a recce of the mosque premises, local Muslims hoped the matter would end there. So when the mob turned up in the evening, they were taken by surprise.

Apart from the men who were roughed up in the mosque, Muslim women in the locality are also shaken. Among those who had ventured out of their home to see what the commotion was about was 80-year-old Asarfi. “They tried to pull my stick, but I did not give in,” she said. “I kept asking them why they beat my husband up. They pushed me and I fell down.”

Aasiya, in her mid 70s, said she was kicked repeatedly in the torso. “What kind of person hits old people?” she asked. “Why did they beat our husbands? Why did they hit us? How are we to live here pretending like nothing has happened?”

They hope the police will arrest the accused, who are all from the same village. Most of them are in their mid-20 and unemployed, said Nasir. He added that at least three of them had been named in the FIR.

A history of compromise

Muslims are a tiny minority in Bhora Kalan village. According to the sarpanch, the village has a population of about 35,000 people, of whom 200-250 are Muslim, belonging to four families.

At one time, Abid recalled, there had been 12 Muslim families in the village but, over time, they shifted to Pataudi town, about seven kilometres away. He surmised it was because there were more mosques there, and the population was more evenly divided between Hindus and Muslims. He also pointed out that the town offered better job opportunities than the village, where most people own shops or work as daily wagers.

Bhora Kalan’s mosque, or as the Hindus would like to call it, “hall”, has triggered controversy before.

Back in 2013, when Muslims had started praying at the mosque, bikes belonging to local residents had been stolen. Fingers were pointed at Muslims from other villages who prayed at the mosque. Recalling the incident, Sharma said local Hindus were uncomfortable with the fact that Muslims from other villages prayed there. “Those bikes were also never found,” he said.

The theft had led to a confrontation between the two communities. After that, two rules were agreed on in the presence of the subdivisional magistrate. There would be no cleric presiding over the prayers and only Muslims who lived in Bhora Kalan could pray there.

This arrangement lasted till October 12, when the mob stormed the mosque. Once again, there was a “compromise” in which Muslims had to bury their grievances despite the attack.

Another rule has been added now. “Whenever people want to check what is happening inside the mosque, the sarpanch will be accompanied by the station house officer,” Abid said. This is apparently to stop a mob from storming the mosque again. While local Muslims are uneasy with the idea that they must open up the mosque for inspection whenever demanded, they hope the police presence will prevent more violence.

“Then also we compromised, now also we compromise,” said Abid. “That is what we have to do to survive.”

Abid was also concerned that only Muslims had given a written declaration at the “Faisla”. All they had from Hindu representatives at the meeting were verbal assurances.

“Why do we need to give it in writing?” said Sharma, when asked. “They are the ones who have the problem.”

When contacted the police to ask if anyone had been arrested for the assault on the mosque and the worshippers, Assistant Commissioner of Police Harindra Kumar said, “The investigation is ongoing. A special investigation team has been formed and I am heading it. Names have come up but no one has been arrested yet.”

‘All is well’

Hindu residents of the village do not accept the mosque as a place of worship. Sharma, who is busy campaigning door to door, said there was no need for a mosque in the village. “This is not a mosque anyway,” he said. “We won’t let them build one. It is just a hall that they have converted from within.”

If Muslims wanted to pray, he said, they could go to a mosque in Pataudi. While he went door to door, campaigning for the elections, he had already written off the 250-odd Muslim votes in the village.

Other Hindu residents of Bhora Kalan voiced similar sentiments. “They are doing all this because they want to make a big mosque so that money from the Middle East will come to them,” said 62-year-old Mange Ram, a tailor. “We will not let them build anything.”

Singh, the village elder, brushed off the matter: “Nothing happened, all is well. These people are making a big deal out of absolutely nothing.”

Anand Prakash, a 72-year-old shopkeeper, said the land on which the mosque was built did not belong to Muslims; it was owned by Ravi Rustagi.

Aas Mohammad, who rejected this claim, demanded, “If it was his land why would he wait till after the incident to raise a complaint?”

Rustagi claimed they had held off from filing a police complaint earlier because they did not have registered land documents and there was an internal family dispute. “Now I have the documents and the family dispute is settled. We will file a case against them,” he said.

The Muslims, he said, had committed an “offence” by offering prayers there. Once he won the land back, Rustagi said, he would donate the land for a temple.

Source: Scroll

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Shringar Gauri-Gyanvapi case: Allahabad high court admits mosque committee’s plea

Oct 19, 2022

The Allahabad high court on Wednesday admitted the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee (AIMC) plea challenging the Varanasi district court’s September 12 order that had held as maintainable the suit filed by five women seeking the right to have darshan, puja and perform all the rituals of Maa Shringar Gauri and other deities within the Gyanvapi complex.

The Allahabad high court further directed that the photocopies of all documents related to the suit shall be sent to it by October 21. The high court passed this order when senior advocate SFA Naqvi appearing for AIMC, after going through the records received from the district court, requested that the entire records of the suit were necessary for the proper adjudication of the issues involved in this case.

Justice JJ Munir fixed October 21 as the next date of hearing on the AIMC petition.

On September 12, the Varanasi district court had rejected AIMC’s application against the maintainability of the plea, which sought the right for daily worship of Hindu deities whose idols are located on an outer wall of the Gyanvapi Masjid. The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee manages the Gyanvapi Masjid in Varanasi.

Source: Hindustan Times

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BJP to give 1,200 tickets to Pasmanda Muslims in Uttar Pradesh municipal elections

Abhishek Mishra

Oct 19, 2022

The BJP is set to hand out 1,200 tickets to Pasmanda Muslims in the upcoming municipal elections. Pasmandas are backward classes of Muslims and constitute 85 per cent of their total population in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP is organising Pasmanda conferences as part of its efforts to bring this large section of Muslims into its fold. Qureshi, Ansari, Salmani, Shah, Mansoori and Siddiqui are some of the castes part of the Pasmanda Muslim community. The Persian word Pasmanda is used to denote caste-based discrimination within the backward Muslim community.

Pasmanda Muslims also make up an overwhelming majority among Indian Muslims, but they are poorly represented in jobs, legislatures, and community organisations.

UP Minority Morcha president Kunwar Basit Ali said that Pasmanda Muslims have always been neglected.

"The BJP government gave them their due share, offered them posts and now, by giving tickets in the civic elections, they will also be given their share in politics," he added.

Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brijesh Pathak told India Today that under Yogi Adityanath's reign, the beneficiary schemes have directly impacted their lives. Pasmanda Muslims are connected with the mainstream. The people of the opposition made Muslims vote bank for politics, but the BJP has done the most work for them, he added.

Source: India Today

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New Gujarat airbase near Pakistan to enhance security: PM Modi

Oct 20, 2022

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday laid the foundation stone of a new airbase at Deesa in north Gujarat's Banaskantha near the Pakistan border.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 12th edition of the Defence Expo, Modi said Indian armed forces' increasing reliance on made-in-India equipment is as much a nod to 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' as it is a testimony to India's improved standing in a global defence sector dominated by a few. "We used to release pigeons, and now we release cheetahs. These events may appear to be trivial at times, but the underlying message is much bigger," he said.

"Despite the monopoly of a few manufacturing firms, India has made inroads (into the sector) and secured its place. The Army, too, has decided to procure 411 items within the country, including 101 indigenised items recently added to the list. This shows the potential of a self-reliant India," the PM said at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. Modi said the Centre aimed to raise Indian defence exports to worth Rs 40,000 crore in the immediate future, encouraged by an eight-fold increase over the past few years.

"The world is trusting Indian technology because our armed forces have proved their capabilities. We are exporting defence material and equipment to over 75 countries. India has earmarked 68% of its defence budget for Indian companies," he said.

Source: Times Of India

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NIA files chargesheet against 12 in Sunjwan terror attack case

Oct 20, 2022

SRINAGAR: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against 12 accused in the encounter case in which two Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists were killed at Sunjwan in Jammu.

A spokesman for the agency said the chargesheet was filed in NIA special court, Jammu, relating to the conspiracy hatched among Kashmir-based terror operatives, Pakistan-based leadership/handlers and JeM terrorists. As part of the conspiracy, two JeM terrorists had infiltrated into India through a tunnel.

This tunnel had been dug on the International Border (IB) in the area falling under BOP Chack Faqira in the Samba sector of J&K with the intention of disrupting the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Jammu region. The movement of the said terrorists was intercepted by security forces and both the terrorists were killed in an encounter in Sunjwan area.

Source: Times Of India

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26/11 Victims Heroes of Our World: UN Chief in Mumbai

Oct 20, 2022

MUMBAI: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said fighting terrorism must be a global priority. Speaking after paying floral tributes to martyrs of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai at Taj hotel, Guterres also said that no cause can justify terrorism of any kind.

"People need to recognise the diversity and richness of cultures to stay together," Guterres said. "Terrorism is absolute evil and has no place in today's world. No cause and no incident can justify terrorism. One of my first acts after becoming secretary general was to establish an office for counter-terrorism to cooperate, guide and prepare countries in the fight against terrorism," he added.

"This office is fighting against the roots of violent extremism. Be it religion or ethnicity or beliefs, no reason can justify violent extremism," he said.

Describing the 26/11 terror attacks as one of the most barbaric acts of terrorism in history, Guterres said the 166 victims of the attacks are "heroes of our world".

Source: Times Of India

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Hindu activists begin door-to-door campaign against halal products in Karnataka

20th October 2022

Bengaluru: The Hindu activists here on Thursday started a door-to-door campaign in connection with boycotting halal certified products during the Diwali festivities.

The activists said that they were also planning to distribute ‘halal jihad’ handbook to the people to create awareness among them. The campaign will be taken up in Jayanagar and Basavanagudi Assembly constituencies of Bengaluru.

Jayanagar Assembly constituency is represented by Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy and Basavanagudi constituency is represented by BJP MLA Ravisubramanya. There are sensitive pockets, especially the Jayanagar locality and the police are closely monitoring the situation.

The campaign has been taken up by the Hindu Jana Jagruthi Samithi, Sri Rama Sena, Raastra Rakshana Pade and Vishva Hindu Sanatana Parishat.

The auto-rickshaws will be used to spread awareness messages through mikes, loud speakers, said the activists. They said that the meeting would be conducted with hotel owners, industrialists, shop owners and Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) traders not to go for halal certification.

Hindu organisations had given a call of boycott for halal certified products on Tuesday (October 18). The organisations claim that they were also taking up a campaign to get rid of halal certification. They have also alleged that through the halal certification on products, one religion is riding over another economically.

Source: Siasat Daily

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How NRI Muslims are finding perfect life partners in India

Sameer Khan

20th October 2022

Hyderabad: Indians for various reasons settle in foreign countries but when it comes to marriage, they always prefer someone from their home country. Such NRI Muslims are always in dilemma over the right way to search for perfect Indian life partners.

In the olden days, they used to rely on friends and family back in India to find ideal life partners but this option no longer remains fruitful as nowadays people are too busy in their lives.

Before analysing the best way to search for perfect life partners in India, it is important to know why Indian prefer their better half from India.

Why do NRI Muslims prefer Indian life partners?

Though Indian Muslims, in search of better employment or education, settle in foreign countries, they prefer Indian life partners over foreigners because of multiple reasons. A few of them are cultural differences, different lifestyles, and upbringings, etc

Apart from these reasons, Indian Muslims consider marriage as the union of two families and in such a scenario their different lifestyles can sometimes become a problem in the future.

Above all, they always wanted life partners who are born and brought up in a culture that they enjoyed in their home country.

How to search perfect life partner in India?

As the option of relying on friends and family no longer exists, people are left with only one option i.e., ‘online matrimonial service’ but due to incompetent service providers, people are losing faith in it too.

Though most of the online matrimonial service providers are not capable enough to understand the requirements of the prospective brides and grooms before suggesting matrimonial profiles, there are few that are up to the mark.

The question that comes to everyone’s mind is how to know whether a particular matrimonial service provider can help you in finding a perfect life partner. Checking a few details of the service provider will help you in deciding whether to avail of the service or not.

Success rate

Staff dedication

How quick its customer care responds

Their approach to matching profiles

How Siasat Matri can help you in finding life partner

Siasat Matri is known for its high success rate in helping prospective brides and grooms in finding life partners.

Its dedicated team works round the clock to find perfect life partners for those who avail of assisted service.

Their approach to matching the profile is unique as they first carefully analyze the requirement of the prospective brides and grooms before suggesting any profile.

Apart from all these, the customer service team of Siasat Matri responds to queries spontaneously during office hours.

Services offered by Siasat Matri

Those who become members of Siasat Matri not only get access to thousands of profiles but also get services such as video matrimonial service, invite-only matrimonial conclave, etc.

So far, 45 episodes have been released. In each episode, profiles of alliance seekers from all walks of life are showcased. Following is the latest episode of the series.

Do you want your profile to be showcased in next episode?

Persons who want their profile to be showcased in episode 45 of the matrimonial video series can register on siasat matri now (click here) and become a member (click here to know membership plans).

So, what are you waiting for? Now, it’s your turn to board the journey that starts after Nikah.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Indian billionaire Ambani spends $163 million on Dubai villa last owned by Alshaya

19 October, 2022

India’s second-richest man is building upon his Dubai property empire with another beach-side villa purchase, smashing his prior record for the city’s most expensive residential real estate deal within a matter of months, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mukesh Ambani bought the Palm Jumeirah mansion last week for about $163 million from the family of Kuwaiti tycoon Mohammed Alshaya, said the people, asking not to be named as they’re not authorized to speak publicly.

Alshaya’s conglomerate owns the local franchises for retail brands including Starbucks, H&M and Victoria’s Secret. Ambani is chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s largest company by market value, and has a net worth of $84 billion.

The billionaire has been snapping up properties overseas, increasingly looking westward for second homes. Reliance spent $79 million last year to buy iconic UK country club Stoke Park and Ambani is also scouting for a property in New York, Bloomberg has reported.

Ambani’s latest purchase in Dubai is a short stroll from the $80 million home he bought earlier this year. That deal was the city’s biggest-ever residential sale until another mansion on the palm-shaped island sold for $82.4 million.

The Dubai Land Department reported a property deal worth $163 million on Palm Jumeirah earlier this week, without disclosing the buyer’s identity. A spokesperson for Reliance declined to comment, while representatives for Alshaya didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Prices surge

The flurry of record deals underscores Dubai’s recent success at luring some of the world’s wealthiest business executives.

The city’s property market, which contributes around a third of its economy, is recovering from a seven-year slump thanks to the government’s nimble handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and initiatives aimed at giving expatriates a bigger stake in the economy.

Foreign residents make up more than 80 percent of the population of the United Arab Emirates.

They’ve been a mainstay of the economy for decades, primarily working in the private sector and spending their money on property or shopping in some of the world’s biggest malls. Indians, in particular, have consistently ranked among the top buyers of Dubai real estate.

As of the end of last month, the emirate’s prime property prices have surged more than 70 percent over the past year, the biggest gain on Knight Frank’s global index.

While that’s outpaced gains elsewhere, there have been a few landmark deals globally.

In the US, Joe Tsai’s Blue Pool Capital acquired a New York penthouse previously owned by Dan Och for $188 million, while Asia’s most-expensive apartment per square foot sold in Hong Kong for HK$640 million ($82 million) in November.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Distances Itself from Talks with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan

Fazal Khaliq

October 20, 2022

SWAT: Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif said here on Wednesday that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had nothing to do with the negotiations with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Addressing a news conference at Swat Press Club during his visit to the district, he said that he was a representative of the state of Pakistan in the negotiations, facilitated by the Afghan Taliban government.

He said that talks were held with TTP within the jurisdiction of Constitution and law of the land. However, he said that both parties were yet to reach any decision. He said that negotiations with TTP were held to curb the menace of terrorism in the country.

“Adviser to Prime Minister Amir Muqam is also a member of the committee formed for negotiations with TTP,” said Mr Saif.

Barrister Saif says he represents ‘state’ in negotiations

He said that provincial government had nothing to do with negotiations.

He said that a false impression was created through social media that some areas were handed over to Taliban under an agreement.

He said that incidents of terrorism in Swat affected and delayed negotiations with TTP.

He said that the power of the decision rested with the parliament.

He alleged that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) wanted to create chaos in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for political gains. “PDM does not want to eliminate terrorism in Swat.

All the member parties of PDM want unrest in Swat and Malakand division,” he said.

Mr Saif said that chief minister was monitoring situation in Swat from the day first.

He said that chief minister was holding a meeting after every other day on the security situation of Swat regularly.

“He also talked to security agencies for durable peace and restoration of law and order in Swat. He had made it clear that there will be no compromise on the law and order in Swat,” he added.

He said that provincial government was making no deal with TTP.

He said that government was standing with the people of the province. “We are happy that the people of Swat took to the streets for peace. Durable peace will prevail in the valley with the support of provincial government,” he added.

However, Mr Saif alleged that some federal institutions were not cooperating with provincial government regarding situation in Swat.

“PTA and other organisations including FIA and IB are not cooperating with the province in preventing terrorism,” he said.

He said that provincial government was aware of the telephone calls made by unidentified persons to people for extortion in Swat. “But PTA and other agencies have not provided information about the telephone calls to provincial government even after passing of months,” he added.

To a question, Mr Saif said that the bypass road incident on October 8 was a criminal incident that was not linked with terrorism. “Investigation is under way in the incident and soon everything will come out after completion of the police investigation,” he added.

KILLED: A lawyer, who was going home from the courts in Hazara area of Kabul tehsil, was shot dead by unidentified persons on Wednesday.

Police said that the incident was result of personal enmity.

Source: Dawn

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Pak Defence Minister raises concern over militancy in Swat district

19 October, 2022

Islamabad, Oct 19 (PTI) Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday raised concern over the threat of militancy in the country’s north-western district of Swat, warning that the “fire” in the area can “reach everyone, including me”.

Swat, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is known as the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’ due to its lush-green valleys and snow-capped mountains. It went through a grueling period of terrorism from 2007 and 2009 until the rebels were defeated and expelled. Nobel Peace Prize lauriate, Malala Yousafzai, a child rights activist then, was attacked by terrorists in 2012 in Swat.

But instead of laying down arms, most of the militants fled to Afghanistan.

Now there are disturbing reports of the return of militants to the district after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

The residents in Swat are regularly taking to the streets to express their anger against the failure of the government to stop the return of militants.

The issue reverberated in the National Assembly when Asif expressed his concern about the security situation in Swat with its grave consequences for the entire country.

“The same process has started in Swat after about a dozen years. The fire (of militancy) there can reach everyone including me. The people of Swat have come together. We should sit together to solve the issues,” Asif said.

The minister said that still, the situation has not reached the “same gravity and velocity” as more than a decade ago when people used to say that “those in Swat may not be too far away from Islamabad”.

Asif urged for measures to counter the threat of militancy while extolling the people of Swat who had come out and were united against extremists without any discrimination or political differences.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman lashed out at violent elements for “hiding their nefarious designs behind religion” and posing a threat. “Sorry, it is only a fight for power. It is not a fight for religion, and (you should) have the guts to say it,” she said She also compared the situation in Swat with that in neighbouring Afghanistan prior to the end of a 20-year-long war. “What is happening in Pakistan is not an insurgency; it is terrorism,” she said.

She demanded that “everyone should be taken into confidence on the progress of operations” against terrorism as Pakistan paid a big price for its fighting against terrorism in the past.

The minister also criticised talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan under their conditions and demanded that talks should be held only with those who lay down arms.

The TTP, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.

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

The Pakistani government and the TTP agreed in June to extend a ceasefire indefinitely while continuing negotiations to find an end to the nearly two decades of militancy.

Though the outlawed militant outfit agreed to a ceasefire, it had said that it would not back down from its demand for the reversal of the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province.

The issue of violence in Balochistan also came under discussion with Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal recounted various incidents in which, he alleged, innocent people were killed and presented as terrorists.

The BNP-M leader said the issue had plagued Balochistan for a long, warning that most of the youth in Balochistan had reached “a point of no return”.

“You may be able to end who you call terrorists through such tactics, but the seeds of hatred that you are sowing cannot be perished by any atomic power of the world,” he said.

Source: The Print

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SC to hear contempt plea against Imran today

October 20, 2022

The Supreme Court is set to hear a contempt petition today (Thursday) filed by the federal government against PTI Chairman Imran Khan for allegedly flouting the top court’s May 25 order regarding the party’s “Azadi March”.

In the same plea, the government has also sought a restra­ining order against the former PM from creating a perceived law and order situation in the name of “jihad” against the state through a planned long march, specifically at a time when flood-affected people require urgent relief.

The hearing is expected to start at 1pm.

The federal government, through the interior ministry, had approached the Supreme Court last week for initiating contempt of court proceedings against Imran for violating its May 25 order, wherein the PTI was restricted from holding its ‘Azadi March’ near Peshawar Mor between the H-9 and G-9 areas of Islamabad. However, Imran and his supporters made their way towards D-Chowk in alleged contravention of court orders.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial will take up the petition for hearing today. Apart from the CJP, the bench will consist of Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

According to the petition, the apex court had in its May order directed the PTI to hold a gathering on a ground located between sectors H-9 and G-9 in view of the categorical assurances on behalf of the party’s top leadership and their counsel that their rally would not cause any inconvenience or blockage of the Srinagar Highway or trouble the public and that the rally would be conducted in a peaceful and lawful manner.

Despite these assurances, the PTI top leadership, acting in blatant disregard for the directions, exhorted its supporters to reach D-Chowk, falsely professing that the court had allowed the march without any conditions, it added.

The contempt petition pleaded for the implementation of the apex court order for the protection of the fundamental rights of the public, particularly residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

It also requested that the Supreme Court should also issue comprehensive guidelines for all future protests to be held in the federal capital that should include prior intimation of the date, selection of the venue, assurance of not causing any hindrance to public life and a commitment to ensure that the protesters would not cause any damage to public or private property.

The plea also claimed the tone and tenor adopted by the PTI chairman in his speeches against the incumbent rulers and state institutions was “highly inflammatory”, aimed at encouraging distrust and contempt and instigating revolt.

Source: Dawn

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Nuclear disarmament, delivery systems linked, says Pakistan

Anwar Iqbal

October 20, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan on Wednesday underlined the need to have a balance between addressing new risks and keeping open the route to new technologies for all nations.

During a week-long debate on weapons of mass destruction at the 77th session of UN General Assembly (UNGA), Pakistan reminded the international community that nuclear weapons and their delivery systems no longer exist in isolation; they “co-exist with other advanced weapon systems in different domains”.

Therefore, “the conversation on nuclear disarmament can no longer be oblivious to the mutually reinforcing relationship of various weapon systems and their collective impact on the security of states,” said Pakistani envoy Khalil Hashmi.

Ambassador Hashmi, who represents Pakistan at the UN office in Geneva, traveled to New York to participate in the UNGA debate.

Warns global community ‘prospects of nuclear war are back within realm of possibility’

The potential dual nature of the emerging technologies, he said, “should not be used as a pretext for proscribing or restricting their availability to developing countries.”

Participating in the thematic debate on nuclear weapons, Mr Hashmi also emphasised “the need for rebuilding a more enduring and equitable international security architecture” that also addresses the lack of balance in conventional balance.

The UNGA debate on nuclear weapons began on Oct 14 — a day after US President Joe Biden made controversial remarks about Pakistan and its nuclear assets. Addressing a Democratic fundraiser in California on Oct 13, President Biden surprised everyone with his off-the-cuff remarks: “What I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan.” And then he explained why he thought Pakistan was dangerous: “Nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.

The comments sparked outrage in Pakistan where it was denounced by both the government and the opposition. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s senior military command also issued an unusual statement reassuring the world that the country’s nuclear weapons and materials were well secured in accordance with the international standards.

Since then, the White House and the US State Department have issued several statements on the issue, assuring Islamabad that the United States has confidence in Pakistan’s ability to defend its nuclear assets and was seeking a strong partnership with the county to counter global terrorism.

At the UNGA debate, Pakistan also assured the world that it had a robust command and control system, and its nuclear weapons were completely safe.

But Pakistan warned the global community that “nuclear dangers are rising and the prospects of a nuclear war are back within the realm of possibility”.

Source: Dawn

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South Asia


China puts hold on proposal by India, US at UN to blacklist Pakistan-based LeT terrorist Hafiz Talah Saeed

Oct 20, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: China has come to the rescue of Pakistan-based terrorists at the UN again. On Wednesday, China put on hold a proposal by India and the US at the United Nations to blacklist Pakistan-based terrorist Hafiz Talah Saeed, the son of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed. It's the second such move by China within two days.

Just a day earlier, China had also blocked the listing of Shahid Mahmood, who had been designated by the US in 2016 for facilitating LeT fundraising and other support networks, by UNSC's Al-Qaeda (Dae'sh) and ISIL sanctions committee, also known as the UNSC 1267 Committee.

For the fifth time since June this year, China has put on hold a US-India proposal for a UN ban on a Pakistan-based operative of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Who is Hafiz Talha Saeed

Hafiz Talha Saeed, 46, is a key leader of the dreaded terrorist group LeT and the son of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

In April this year, he had been declared a terrorist by the Indian government.

In a notification, India's home ministry had said that Hafiz Talha Saeed has been actively involved in recruitment, fund collection, and planning and executing attacks by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in India and Indian interests in Afghanistan.

He has also been actively visiting various LeT centres across Pakistan, and during his sermons propagating for jihad against India, Israel, the United States of America and Indian interests in other western countries, it had stated.

Hafiz Talha Saeed is a senior leader of the LeT and is the head of the cleric wing of the terrorist organisation.

China on Tuesday put a hold on a proposal by India and the US at the United Nations to list Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Shahid Mahmood as a global terrorist.

Beijing placed a hold on the proposal by India and the US to designate Mahmood, 42, as a global terrorist under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.

China's 'double standards'

While China's hold was a foregone conclusion, India is hoping it will again attract international attention towards what the government routinely describes as Beijing's "double standards" in the global war against terrorism. The latest block also came at a time when UNSG Antonio Guterres is in India. Guterres was paying homage to the victims of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai when news broke about China's hold on the ban.

Source: Times Of India

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Tajik President Says Security Belt Must Be Built Around Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

19 Oct 2022

In his most recent remarks, Emomali Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan, once again expressed concern over the security threats Afghanistan poses to the countries in the region and stated that a security belt should be built around Afghanistan.

The capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, hosted a conference on “International and Regional Border Security and Management Cooperation to Counter Terrorism and Prevent the Movement of Terrorists” on Tuesday, October 18, at which the Tajik president delivered a speech.

He reiterated in this speech the growing insecurity, the re-emergence of terrorist organizations, and the enablement of terrorism in Afghanistan and argued for the need to surround Afghanistan with a security belt.

The president of Tajikistan at the sixth summit of the CICA conference held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan on Friday stated that “thousands of Mujahideen and suicide bombers” are trained in Afghanistan.

Rahmon asserted that terrorists from the Middle East have been transported to Afghanistan and that open dissemination of terrorist content and propaganda also occurs in Afghanistan. He emphasized that Central Asia is threatened by the presence of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Suicide by Domestic Violence: Child Kills Self in Northern Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

19 Oct 2022

A 12-year-old child allegedly hanged himself to death in the Gurziwan district of the Faryab province in northern Afghanistan after his father severely reprimanded him, local sources reported.

According to local sources, the young boy committed suicide as a result of domestic violence on Tuesday, October 18, in the Sarchakan market region of the Gurziwan district of Faryab province.

The latest domestic violence victim, 12-year-old Noor Mohammad, according to the sources resorted to ending his life by hanging after his father punished him.

Three days ago, a young girl was killed by her family in the Dawlat Abad district of the Faryab province in another instance of domestic violence.

Several news reports of children killing themselves after receiving a reprimand from their parents are found not only in Afghanistan but also after a quick Google search for the news item.

Source: Khaama Press

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Iranian FM and Pakistan’s Afghanistan Envoy meet to discuss Afghanistan’s Status Quo

By Saqalain Eqbal

19 Oct 2022

Amir Abdollahian, the Foreign Minister of Iran, and Mohammad Sadiq Khan, the Special Representative of Pakistan for Afghanistan, met and discussed the status quo and recent developments in Afghanistan.

According to a newsletter released by Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released on Tuesday night, both parties have placed a strong emphasis on enhancing their mutual cooperation with regard to regional security.

According to Amir Abdollahian, Tehran will host an extraordinary gathering of the foreign ministers of the countries that border Afghanistan in an effort to find a solution for the repatriation of Afghan refugees.

There are currently 4.5 million Afghan citizens living in Iran, of whom 1.5 million migrated after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, according to the Iranian Foreign Minister.

“Iran will use all its capacities to establish peace and tranquility in Afghanistan,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry stated on its official Twitter page.

The meeting’s focus on regional security was instead highlighted by Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan.

Due to the massive influx of refugees, the decline in the standard of living for the citizens of Afghanistan, the rise in insecurity, and the expansion of drug trafficking, Mohammad Sadiq Khan claims that Iran and Pakistan are most impacted by the happenings in Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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Southeast Asia


Report Dubious Preachers To Religious Authorities, Malaysian Minister tells Muslims

19 Oct 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Muslims in this country are advised to report to religious authorities in their respective states if they find there are dubious preachers from abroad.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad said cooperation from all parties was crucial to ensure that the authorities can carry out a detailed investigation and curb unrecognised preachers.

“According to guidelines from Jakim (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia), we have no problems with preachers who are not against Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah, but those who cause conflict and division, we do not allow.

“That is why I advised those who wanted to seek knowledge to learn from teachers who practice their knowledge and compare with those who have been accredited by the authorities. If you find anyone dubious, immediately report to the religious department to take action,” he told reporters after the thanksgiving ceremony for the 1443H Haj operation at Menara Tabung Haji here today.

Meanwhile, Idris expressed hope that the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Bill could be tabled by the new government after the 15th General Election.

He said the Cabinet had approved the proposed bill on August 26, and it is now at the Attorney General’s Chambers, but was not tabled following the dissolution of Parliament.

Source: Malay Mail

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Giant dome of Jakarta Islamic Centre Grand Mosque collapses after fire

Oct 20, 2022

JAKARTA: The giant dome of the Jakarta Islamic Centre Grand Mosque in Indonesia collapsed on Wednesday after a major fire broke out.

Dramatic social media footage showed the moment the mosque's dome collapsed, however, officials said that there were no casualties, reported Gulf Today.

The dome was destroyed by a fire during its renovation. Firefighters were alerted about the blaze shortly after 3 pm local time, with at least ten fire engines being dispatched to the scene, Indonesia media reported.

Video footage showed flames and smoke billowing from the mosque's dome just before it collapsed.

The cause of the fire is not yet known. Media reports suggest that the Islamic Centre was undergoing renovations at the time.

No one was injured in the fire or the ensuing collapse. Local media added that police are investigating the cause of the fire and have questioned contractors working in the building, reported Gulf Today.

Apart from the mosque, the Islamic Centre complex also houses educational, commercial and research facilities.

Source: Times Of India

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Malaysia to hold national elections on November 19

Oct 20, 2022

PUTRAJAYA/ MALAYSIA: Malaysia will head to the polls on November 19, officials said Thursday, after the prime minister called for a snap election to restore political stability.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved parliament earlier this month and called for the vote a year ahead of schedule to shore up his slim majority in the 222-member legislature.

The "election date is November 19", Election Commission chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said at a press conference.

Nomination day for candidates will be on November 5, with 97-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad among those expected to join the fray.

Ismail's UMNO, the dominant party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, will contest the polls head-on with its bitter rival Pakatan Harapan alliance led by veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Others in the fray include a host of Malay-based parties, including Pejuang which is led by Mahathir, who has said he will be available to become prime minister for the third time.

Ismail is the third prime minister Malaysia has had in four years, underscoring the political instability that followed the last general elections in 2018.

UMNO -- which ruled the country for over 60 years -- had suffered a shock defeat amid allegations of massive corruption linked to state fund 1MDB.

Then-prime minister Najib Razak, embroiled in the scandal involving billions of dollars allegedly pilfered from the sovereign wealth fund, was ousted, charged with corruption and convicted after a lengthy trial.

In August, he started serving a 12-year jail sentence for the initial batch of charges, although he faces dozens more that could keep him in prison longer.

"This is a crucial election because they are electing a government that will bring Malaysia out of the pandemic and back to normality," said James Chin, a Malaysia expert at the University of Tasmania.

UMNO, which returned to power last year due to political infighting in the previous governments, expects to win big and cement its rule.

But while it has the political machinery, the party remains tainted with the 1MDB corruption scandal.

There are fears that if the party comes to power, Najib could be freed and efforts to pursue corruption charges against other party members will slacken.

Among those facing charges is UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

"If UMNO wins, there are concerns that the rule of law will not be honored in Najib's conviction," Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham Malaysia said.

"Voters will be deciding effectively whether Najib and UMNO party president Zahid will not face punishment for the criminal charges they face."

The 1MDB scandal triggered investigations in the United States, Switzerland and Singapore, whose financial systems were believed to have been used to launder the money, and battered Malaysia's global image.

The US Justice Department has said more than $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB between 2009 and 2015 by high-level officials at the fund and their associates and spent on everything from high-end real estate to pricey art.

The economy and the rising cost of living will be key election issues with inflation soaring and the local ringgit currency tumbling.

Source: Times Of India

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BN will reject any overtures from PAS after GE15, says Zahid

October 19, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional (BN) will reject any overtures from PAS after the 15th general election (GE15) as the Islamic party is “unfaithful”, says BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Zahid said PAS leaders were often fickle in their stance and had a tendency to manipulate Quranic verses and Islamic hadiths to suit their purpose.

“When there are political changes, they (PAS) issue a new fatwa (religious edict) for themselves. When they wish to blame others, they issue a new fatwa,” Berita Harian quoted him as saying.

Zahid, who is also Umno president, said PAS should make a firm decision on cooperation ahead of GE15, adding that BN only wanted allies who were loyal to the coalition.

He claimed that PAS had told BN to wait until after the nationwide polls to negotiate but the coalition refused to do so.

Last week, PAS announced that it would stick with Perikatan Nasional (PN) in GE15, forgoing cooperation with Umno and BN. However, its spiritual leader Hashim Jasin said the party would continue to push for Muslim unity with Umno, via Muafakat Nasional.

Zahid previously said BN would be going solo in GE15 following PAS’ decision to stick with PN in the nationwide polls.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Malaysia plans early polls as PM Yaakob’s party seeks new mandate

20 October, 2022

Malaysia will hold elections on November 19 with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s party looking to capitalize on a string of victories from local polls and consolidate power in the Southeast Asian country.

The Election Commission fixed nomination day for November 5, Chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said at a briefing on Thursday. A total of 222 parliament seats will be contested, plus the state seats for Perak, Pahang, and Perlis.

A national vote is not due until September next year but key members of Ismail’s United Malays National Organization wanted to bring forward elections to capitalize on a weaker opposition and regain the mandate following a shock defeat in 2018. UMNO clawed back into power after the collapse of Mahathir Mohamad’s government but has led a very fragile coalition since.

The elections will involve multi-cornered contests, with several coalitions including UMNO-led Barisan Nasional and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan alliance vying for votes.

That makes it tricky for any party to win an outright majority needed to ensure political stability.

Adding to the uncertainty is the impact 5.8 million new young voters would have in shaping the outcome of the election, following the government’s move to lower the minimum voting age to 18 from 21. There’s already widespread unhappiness over holding polls during the annual monsoon season that starts in November and could affect voter turnout.

Most Malaysians are still angry with Ismail’s government for its slow response to tackling the floodwaters last year, which left dozens dead and led to more than 6.5 billion ringgit ($1.4 billion) in losses.

Malaysia’s shaky political situation has also been a sore spot for investors and credit rating companies due to a series of short-lived coalitions that brought the country three prime ministers since the last general election in 2018.

Pakatan Harapan ousted UMNO in the historic vote that year but collapsed 22 months later due to defections. That returned UMNO to power in alliance with Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional. The grouping didn’t last -- Muhyiddin was forced to resign as premier in August 2021 after some UMNO lawmakers withdrew support, paving the way for Ismail to take office.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Malawi farmer finds mass grave with bodies of suspected Ethiopian migrants

Moses Michael-Phiri  



Police in northern Malawi uncovered a mass grave Wednesday in a forest with 25 bodies suspected to be illegal Ethiopian migrants.

“We suspect the deceased were illegal Ethiopian migrants who were in transit to South Africa,” National Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya told Anadolu Agency.

A young farmer discovered the bodies while collecting wild honey in a forest.

Officials have exhumed the bodies, which were in a state of near decomposition, and have packed them in body bags for reburial.

Kalaya said preliminary assessments show that the bodies appear to be adult males between 25 and 45 years of age.

“We found a picture and a document which we are analyzing to know where they actually came from,” said Kalaya.

Officials suspect smugglers, often fuel tanker drivers, buried the bodies when the victims died in transit.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services spokesman Pasqually Zulu said Malawi is a common transit route for those traveling illegally to look for jobs in South Africa.

Between January and September, 221 illegal migrants were intercepted, said Zulu, with 186 Ethiopians, 17 from the Congo, 17 from Bangladesh and one from Pakistan.

“This year alone, Malawi has deported 191 illegal migrants,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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2023: Lagos CAN Chairman Adegbite under fire for backing Tinubu’s Muslim-Muslim ticket

October 19, 2022

By John Owen Nwachukwu

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Wednesday, called for the sacking of the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Lagos State, Stephen Adegbite, over his endorsement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 election, Bola Tinubu.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, called on CAN National President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, and other leading members of the Christian body to expunge Adegbite immediately as he has openly opposed the stance of CAN on the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the ruling APC.

The group said Adegbite committed gross violations of the code of conduct of his office, abuse of power, and insubordination of superior authority at the CAN national centre in Abuja by going to the public to endorse Tinubu all for stomach politics.

HURIWA recalled that CAN, in September 2021, suspended the then Gombe State Caretaker chairman, Rev. Sunday Congo, for writing a congratulatory letter to the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, without the approval of the association’s National Executive Committee.

The group asserted that disciplinary measures must be maintained and enforced with more strictness towards the 2023 elections as desperate politicians and proponents of APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket are trying to buy over some CAN members and break the ranks of the body, and sabotage Christians for the next four years.

Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Lagos State, Stephen Adegbite, must be removed with immediate effect for compromise and for acting in flagrant contravention of the stance of the national body of the Christian body.

“Adegbite’s defense that his endorsement of Tinubu is based on his “wonderful relationship” with the former Lagos State governor and that his approval of Tinubu is in a personal capacity is total nonsense and should be told to his sabotaging lots who masquerade as believers yet serve their stomachs and not the interest of Christians.

“HURIWA called on CAN National President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, to impeach Adegbite and inaugurate a leader who is aligned with the position of Christians collectively. Adegbite can’t address the press as CAN and return to say it was personal. In any case, both excuses are inexcusable!

“HURIWA’s position on APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket is sacrosanct and unchanging. The permutation is a slap on millions of Christians in the country and an insult.”

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Chad announces state of emergency as floods affect more than 1 million people

Aurore Bonny 


DOUALA, Cameroon

Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Deby announced a state of emergency late Wednesday, deploring the human and material damage caused by massive flooding in the country.

Heavy floods in the Central African country are affecting 636 localities in 18 of its 23 regions, or more than a million people, causing tens of thousands to flee and decimating thousands of hectares of cultivated land, according to Deby.

He announced a state of emergency "to contain and manage" the disaster, which he said is the result of climate change and one of the most severe the region had seen in years.

"The situation is becoming increasingly worrying," he said, lamenting infrastructure that has not been designed on the basis of current meteorological and hydrological data.

Deby also warned that more damage than has already been observed could occur as the floodwaters recede in the south of the country.

The most exposed areas are the city of N'Djamena, the capital, and its surroundings, he said.

"In the current conditions, the city is only protected by the banks of the Chari River," he noted, warning of an obvious risk of overflow if the rise in water levels remains constant during this week.

He called on friendly countries and technical and financial partners to support the government's efforts, which include a response organized around the reduction of impacts and assistance to the victims.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Algeria, Russia hold joint military exercise in Mediterranean

Esat Fırat  


ALGIERS, Algeria

Algeria and Russia kicked off a four-day joint military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, the Algerian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

A group of warships belonging to the Russian fleet docked in the port of Algiers on Tuesday to conduct the 2022 joint naval exercise, the ministry said in a written statement.

The exercise was carried out to strengthen military cooperation between the Algerian and Russian navies, it added.

A minesweeper belonging to the Russian navy docked in the port of Jijel on the eastern Mediterranean coast in September to conduct joint exercises with the Algerian navy.

Russian and Algerian warships carried out joint naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean last November, including various tactical and interceptive exercises.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Mali vows to defend nation against French intrusions, meddling

19 October 2022

Mali's foreign minister has slammed France's continued attempts to undermine the sovereignty and national security of his country, pledging that Bamako is resolved to defend itself.

"The government of Mali reserves the right to exercise its right to self-defense… if France continues to undermine the sovereignty of our country and to undermine its territorial integrity and its national security," Abdoulaye Diop said at a Tuesday briefing of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York.

"There needs to be a specific meeting of the Security Council which will make it possible for us to bring to light evidence regarding duplicitous acts, acts of espionage and acts of destabilization waged by France," Mali's top diplomat said, while also pointing to allegations that France had violated its airspace and provided weapons to militants north of the country.

France's UN representative, who wields a veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council, denied what he described as "defamatory" accusations by the Malian foreign minister and defended Paris' intervention in its former colony as fully transparent.

The French envoy further insisted that his country had never violated Mali's airspace.

During the UNSC briefing, Diop also rejected allegations of human rights violations by the Malian army reported by the UN. Several reports, including the latest UN secretary-general assessment, accuse Malian troops and Russian advisers working with the country's military government of abusing and killing civilians suspected of colluding with foreign-backed militants in northern Mali.

Diop, however, dismissed the allegations as "unfounded" and warned against "instrumentalizing" human rights issues, a complaint raised repeatedly in recent years by numerous countries, accused in UN reports of human rights violations.

The Malian minister also emphasized that the withdrawal of hundreds of French troops from the country would not create a security vacuum, as claimed by Paris and other allied governments.

Last month, Mali's acting Prime Minister Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga censured France over his country's deteriorating security situation, accusing Paris of having stabbed the impoverished Sahel nation in the back with the withdrawal of its troops.

Other European countries have also ended their military involvement in Mali this year, often complaining of its government's alliance with Russia.

Meanwhile, four UN peacekeepers were killed in an attack in northern Mali on Monday.

The West African country has faced instability since 2012, when Daesh-linked terrorists hijacked a Tuareg rebellion in the north. The French military intervened in a purported effort to push the militants out. However, the Daesh- and al-Qaeda-linked forces have since regrouped and spread across the Sahel and further south toward coastal states.

The war has so far left several thousands dead and more than a million people displaced. There have been two military coups in roughly a year, and growing protests against France's military presence.

Source: Press TV

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Macron tours Grand Mosque in Paris on centenary visit

Tim Stickings

Oct 19, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron toured the Grand Mosque in Paris on Wednesday to mark 100 years since the laying of its first stone.

Mr Macron was greeted by the mosque's rector, Chems-Eddine Hafiz, before inspecting an exhibition about the history of the Paris landmark.

He laid a wreath in a courtyard of the mosque, which was built to commemorate the 70,000 Muslim soldiers who died fighting in France's name during the First World War.

By Mr Macron's side were former president Nicolas Sarkozy and current Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, also among the guests at the centenary event.

The mosque took four years to build, but its first stone was laid on October 19, 1922.

The oldest mosque in mainland France, its architecture evoked that of Moorish Spain and its minaret rises 33 metres above the Parisian streets. The National visited the mosque last year.

An important focal point for France's six million Muslims, the mosque's leadership threw its weight behind Mr Macron in April when Mr Hafiz supported his bid for a second term as president.

Mr Hafiz was in July named an officer of France's Legion d'Honneur, in an honours list released to coincide with Bastille Day celebrations.

Mr Macron has had an uneasy relationship with France's Muslims, after spearheading what he called a fight against Islamist separatism following a series of terrorist attacks.

He announced new restrictions on the financing and governance of mosques in order to combat extremism, but insisted he had no grudge against French Muslims.

Last year he praised the adoption of a charter of principles by French Muslim councils as a "clear, decisive and precise commitment in favour of the republic", and later stopped by the mosque on what it called an impromptu visit.

When the election's final round pitted the president against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, Mr Hafiz urged his followers to stick with Mr Macron.

Source: The National News

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France repatriates 55 from Syria camps, including 40 children

20 October, 2022

France has repatriated 40 children and 15 women from camps in Syria holding family members of suspected ISIS extremists, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

It marked the largest such repatriation in three months and came a week after a European rights court condemned France over its refusal to return two women detained in Syria.

“The minors have been transferred to child aid services,” the ministry said in a statement. “The adults have been handed to judicial authorities.”

It marked the largest such transfer since July when France, following pressure from campaigners, returned 35 children and 16 mothers from the Syrian camps.

The French government had long refused mass repatriations of the hundreds of French children detained in Kurdish-controlled camps, dealing with them on a case-by-case basis that rights groups criticized as deliberately slow.

Last week the European Court of Human Rights condemned Paris over its refusal to return two women and said it should promptly re-examine the request by the women's parents to let them come home.

But it did not issue a blanket ruling that France return all citizens held in Syria since the fall of the ISIS “caliphate,” as sought by rights groups and Western allies including the United States.

Western countries have faced a dilemma over how to handle their citizens detained in Syria since the end of military operations against ISIS there in 2019.

Thousands of extremists in Europe decided to join the group as fighters, often taking their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared in territory conquered in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey-Greece tensions spiral into bigger crisis over 92 naked refugees

19 October 2022

Turkey and Greece have again traded barbs over the ill-treatment of refugees after more than 90 asylum-seekers were found naked on the Greek side of the Evros River earlier this week.

In a series of recent social media posts, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi laid the blame at Turkey's door, saying its "behavior" was a "shame for civilization."

“I have requested & will see the president of the UN General Assembly in New York, I have informed the Commission & will show photos & videos,” the minister said. “We expect Ankara to investigate the incident and protect at last its borders with the EU.”

“[Turkey’s] behavior towards 92 migrants whom we rescued at the borders today is a shame for civilization.”

Responding to the accusation, Turkey’s presidential office said Mitarakis, also known as Mitarachi, “is once again conducting perception management tactics by using the photos of stripped naked migrants for which there is no location, nor any date provided.”

The Turkish government’s spokesman Fahrettin Altun said, “We warn Greece to abandon its harsh treatment of refugees as soon as possible, to cease its baseless and false charges against [Turkey], and to deliver the dignity of government.”

Turkey also posted a lengthy statement on its official presidential website, accusing Greece of regularly abusing refugees, and posting photos it alleged were evidence.

Greek police said they rescued the 92 men who were found naked, and some with injuries, close to the northern border with Turkey on October 14. Greek police and European border guards found them on the river bank in the morning, “abandoned, completely naked, and completely unequipped.”

The men, mainly from Afghanistan and Syria, were found close to the frontier after crossing the Evros River in rubber dinghies. Children were among the group. Some have roots in Morocco, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Greek police say the men told them Turkish authorities drove them to the border in governmental vehicles, before boarding them onto rubber dinghies and telling them to cross.

“They told us it took the Turkish military police 24 hours to gather everyone at the river’s edge, which apparently was an ordeal because the people had no food or water at that time, and then after stripping them they pressed them to cross,” said Manos Logothetis, head of Greece’s First Reception Service.

Turkey was in a 2016 agreement with the EU to hold back refugees trying to cross into Europe. But Ankara unilaterally abandoned the treaty obligation to hold back or readmit asylum-seekers, accusing the EU of failing to live up to its own obligations under the treaty.

Greece and Turkey have been in a full-blown information war about who is mistreating refugees since March 2020.

Greece routinely accuses Turkey of pushing refugees forward to blackmail Europe for more money to care for them. And Turkey routinely accuses Greece of pushing refugees back without processing their asylum claims, which is illegal under the Geneva Convention of 1951.

In February, Greece rejected Turkish accusations that its border guards stripped and summarily expelled 12 refugees who later died of exposure in Turkey, near Greek borders. Turkey has also accused Bulgaria of similar tactics. The United Nations’ refugee agency has called for an investigation and said it is “deeply distressed by the shocking reports and images.”

Source: Press TV

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Ireland's leading university divests from arms companies complicit with apartheid Israel

19 October 2022

Trinity College, Ireland's leading university, has announced that it no longer has investments in arms and weapons companies that are complicit with the Israeli apartheid regime.

According to Trinity News, the move comes following a petition launched by the Trinity Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), which had reached 446 signatures as of Tuesday, alongside Trinity College, Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) last year.

The petition called for Trinity to “divest from the war industry.”

In a press release, Trinity BDS said, “Trinity has €2.5 million invested in arms and weapons companies across the world, as revealed by a Freedom of Information request made by the chairperson of Students4Change László Molnárfi last year.”

“This includes companies which manufacture arms or security technologies used by ... Israel to carry out ethnic cleansing and implement apartheid against the Palestinian people, such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies and BAE Systems,” the release continued.

One of these companies, Lockheed Martin, plays a significant role in the military affairs of the Israeli apartheid regime, producing F-35 fighter jets and other weapons which have been used in the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians by the Israeli occupation.

“The signatories of this petition call on Trinity College Dublin to take a principled stance against apartheid, colonialism, and military occupation in historic Palestine by endorsing the principles of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement”, the petition reads.

In 2018, Trinity students voted in a referendum for TCDSU to support the BDS campaign.

In September, Trinity BDS joined a protest outside Leinster House calling for an investigation into apartheid in Israel.

Source: Press TV

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Syrian photojournalist injured by police during Paris protests

19 October 2022

A Syrian photojournalist has suffered an injury above his eye after French police intervened in a protest over wages and working conditions in the capital, Paris, amid soaring inflation in the country.

Zakaria Abdelkafi was injured as a result of a police charge during a demonstration by thousands of people calling for higher wages, Reporters without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday.

The Paris-based media watchdog said that the 38-year-old cameraman, who was bleeding heavily, was reportedly quickly treated by “street medics” and declared stable, with his eye not affected.

RSF added that they were “actively investigating this incident,” and that the journalist had previously covered the civil war in Syria.

Thousands of protesters marched in Paris on Tuesday as part of a day of cross-industry “mobilization and strikes” for higher wages, and to denounce the requisitioning of strike at fuel refineries.

Dozens of black-clad protesters clashed with police and broke shop windows on the margins of the demonstrations.

According to the French Interior Ministry, 11 people were arrested in Paris, and 107,000 people nationwide followed the protest call from left-wing parties and some unions, including 13,000 in the capital.

Trade unions in France also began a nationwide transport strike on Tuesday amid a deadlock with the government over wages and working conditions that have in recent weeks led to severe fuel shortages across the country.

However, the strikes did not have as great of an impact as expected. Long-distance TGV trains were only marginally affected.

The massive strike came after workers at several refineries and oil depots operated by TotalEnergies, French energy, and petroleum company voted to extend the industrial action that has paralyzed the European country for more than three weeks.

Thousands of workers at refineries and depots voted against the government's move to end the strike and to force strikers to re-open fuel depots.

French President Emmanuel Macron, after a meeting with ministers on Monday, said he wanted the crisis "to be resolved as quickly as possible."

Earlier, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said it was necessary to use requisitioning powers to reopen the refineries and depots.

The strike action has severely disrupted fuel distribution across the country, mostly affecting northern and central France and the Paris region.

It has crippled fuel supplies by over 30 percent while more than 60 percent of the country's refining capacity remains offline.

Strikes have also affected work at 10 French nuclear power plants, with maintenance delays at 13 reactors considerably reducing French power production.

Unions are demanding a 10-percent increase in salaries, citing the high inflation rate and the living crisis in the country.

Source: Press TV

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