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Islamic World News ( 8 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Regime Executes Shia Political Activist, Haider Nasser al-Tahaifa, From Qatif In A Blatant Disregard For Human Rights

New Age Islam News Bureau

08 March 2023

 

Haider Nasser al-Tahaifa, an executed resident of the Qatif region in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province (Photo via social media networks)

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• Hindu Students Playing Holi In University Of Karachi Attacked By Radical Islamic Group, Islaami Jamiat Tulba

• Delhi High Court Refuses to Advance Hearing on Plea Against Stopping Namaz in Mughal Mosque in Mehrauli

• Empire State Building Lit Up With Turkish Flag’s Colours For Earthquake Victims

• Tashkent Hosts Meeting of Special Representatives of Afghanistan’s Neighbouring Countries

 

Arab World

• UAE President meets Ukraine’s First Lady, directs $4 mln aid to children of war

• Israeli minister call for Palestinian home demolition may escalate matters in Ramadan: Al-Azhar

• UN rights chief calls for ‘serious’ Lebanon blast investigation

• UN rights chief calls for ‘serious’ Lebanon blast investigation

• Three dead in Israel strike on Syria’s Aleppo airport: monitor

• Egypt seeks to attract Islamic investors with debut sukuk, EGX Sharia index

• Iraq’s Fatah says no hesitation over US troop expulsion as Pentagon chief visits Baghdad

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Pakistan

• Federal Shariat Court: ‘No Place For Domestic Violence In Islam’

• KP Police Set Up Unit To Probe Terror Financing Through Extortion Money

• Pakistan, US reaffirm commitment to address common terrorism threat

• Non-bailable arrest warrant against Pakistan's ousted PM Imran Khan suspended till March 13 in Toshakhana case

• ECP issues arrest warrants for PTI chief, Fawad in contempt case

• School canteens in Sindh barred from selling fizzy drinks in glass bottles

• Afghan delegation expected in Pakistan soon: Asif

• Maryam seeks accountability of ‘people who harmed country’

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India

• Coimbatore, Mangaluru Blasts: Police To Examine Claims Made By Islamic State Of Khorasan Province Mouthpiece On Attacks

• Karnataka: Muslim Leaders Seek Nod To Play Loudspeakers For ‘Azaan’ During Ramzan

• Muslim Groups In Kerala Plan Counter-Campaign To Inheritance Law

• India slams Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto for raking up Kashmir at UNSC debate

• India to send 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar port

• PFI terror funding case: NIA busts multi-state hawala network, 5 arrested

• BJP to hold conferences in Western UP to connect with Muslims

• Al Mahad Al Aali Al Islami: A seminary where modern subjects are also taught

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North America

• Pentagon Chief Vows To Continue US Military Presence In Iraq

• Pakistan, US to work jointly against global, regional threats

• Biden thanks Oman for help in releasing Americans detained in Iran, Yemen truce

• US bemoans Beirut blast probe, calls for judicial reform in Lebanon

• Lawyers of Abraaj’s Naqvi says fresh evidence may block US extradition

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South Asia

• EU Sanctions Two Acting Ministers of Afghan Interim Government

• Afghan Interim Govt Meets Every Condition for Recognition, Says FM Muttaqi

• Afghan Territory Must Not Be Used For Terrorist Activities: India And 5 Central Asian Countries

• 17 killed, over 100 injured in explosion at crowded Dhaka market

• Pakistan, six other nations urge Western states to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets

• Bangladesh criticized for failing to protect Ahmadiyya Muslims

• Fresh $40 Million Cash Arrives Kabul, DAB to Auction $16 Million on Wednesday

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Southeast Asia

• Selangor Sultan: Key Administrators Of Islamic Religious Institutions Must Be Above Politics

• PAS MP calls on Malaysian government to 'control' number of concerts by foreign artistes like Blackpink

• Indonesia freezes accounts linked to taxman amid public anger over disproportionate wealth

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Mideast

• Iran Starts Mass Production of High-Velocity Ballistic Missile Able to Smash Moving Naval Targets

• Israel’s Lapid slams ‘Jewish terrorists’ after settler attack on Palestinian town

• Iran accuses school poisoning suspects of links to foreign media, riots

• Senior Official: Several Suspects Arrested in Schoolgirl Poisonings Case

• FM Underlines Iran's Determination to Play Active Role in SCO

• Turkey earthquake survivors reconsider election loyalty to President Erdogan

• Turkey earthquake damage set to exceed $100 billion: UN agency

• Israeli troops kill at least six, wound 11 others during raid in West Bank’s Jenin

• Israeli military reservists refuse to return to service in protest at new far-right government

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Africa

• World Bank Halts Talks With Tunisia Amid Uproar Over Anti-Migrant Remarks

• African Union postpones conference in Tunisia amid crackdown on migrants

• KSrelief continue aid efforts in Yemen and Sudan

• Turkish, Sierra Leonean presidents meet in Ankara for talks

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Europe

• Muslims Across Europe Urged To Boycott Israeli Dates This Ramadan

• Afghan boy murdered ‘in cold blood’ on London street, court finds

• Quake solidarity strengthens ties between Bulgaria’s Turks, Türkiye: Senior official

• Belgium raises over $1.9M in single day for quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

• Quake victims in Türkiye, Syria continue to receive assistance: Danish NGO

• UK school embroiled in Quran desecration row

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/saudi-execute-shia-haider-nasser-tahaifa/d/129276

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 Saudi Regime Executes Shia Political Activist, Haider Nasser al-Tahaifa, From Qatif In A Blatant Disregard For Human Rights

 

Haider Nasser al-Tahaifa, an executed resident of the Qatif region in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province (Photo via social media networks)

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07 March 2023

In yet another indication of Saudi Arabia’s blatant disregard for human rights and speech freedom, the regime in Riyadh has executed an imprisoned political activist from the Shia-majority Eastern Province.

Saudi authorities carried out early on Tuesday a death sentence against Haider Nasser al-Tahaifa, a resident of the oil-rich Qatif region in Eastern Province, according to the London-based and Arabic-language Nabaa television news network.

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry was cited by the news network as saying that the activist was executed on charges of participation in anti-Riyadh activities as well as protests against the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The Ministry accused Tahaifa of joining what it claimed to be a “terrorist cell” aimed at undermining the country's internal security, destroying public property and carrying out acts of vandalism.

Tahaifa was arrested in Qatif in early September 2017 and was transferred to a detention center near the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The political activist was sentenced in the first instance in September 2021 to “death by discretion” and the Court of Appeal upheld his sentence. The death penalty came after five years of arbitrary detention in South Arabia's eastern city of Dammam.

Reacting to Tahaifa’s execution, activists and Twitter users from Arab and Muslim countries expressed their indignation at the crime, which is added to Saudi Arabia's crimes against prisoners of conscience.

Adel al-Saeed, a researcher at the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), said that Saudi Arabia's criminality and disdain for blood have no limits.

“The confessions were extracted from Haider al-Tahaifa under torture during the interrogation period, and some of them were during the childhood period,” Saeed said, adding, “The Saudi authorities deprived him of all his basic rights, such as seeking the assistance of a lawyer.”

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province.

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

As a result, Islamic scholars have been executed, women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured, and freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/07/699482/Saudi-regime-political-activist-executed-Haider-Nasser-alTahaifa-Eastern-Province-Qatif-

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Hindu Students Playing Holi In University Of Karachi Attacked By Radical Islamic Group, Islaami Jamiat Tulba

 

People from the Pakistani Hindu community perform rituals to celebrate Holi in Karachi. (AP/PTI)

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07 MAR 2023

In second such incident in two days, Hindu students playing Holi were attacked by a radical Islamic group in Pakistan's Karachi on Tuesday.

At least 15 students from the minority Hindu community playing Holi in University of Karachi were injured when they were attacked by radicals.

Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country and Hindus are a minority amounting to around 1.6 per cent of the population. Pakistan has a poor track record with religious minorities as harassment and targeted crimes are rampant, ranging from attacks on temples and abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls and women.

A University of Karachi official confirmed there had been an incident in the Sindhi department where Hindus and other students were celebrating Holi and throwing colours at each other when some students attacked and injured them.

"We are looking into the incident which is totally against our policies," he said.

An unnamed Hindu girl student, wearing a mask along with other students, later released a video on Twitter outlining the entire incident.

She said, "The Islaami Jamiat Tulba (IJT) activists came and attacked students celebrating Holi in the hall. They beat some of us...They also harassed female students and we had to leave the place. We had assembled to celebrate the Holi festival. I want the government and varsity to take action against those responsible."

Earlier on Monday, 15 students were injured at the Punjab University campus when IJT activists allegedly stopped them from celebrating Holi. The incident took place at the Law College of Punjab University on Monday when around 30 Hindu students gathered to celebrate Holi.

When contacted by PTI, IJT (Punjab University) Spokesperson Ibrahim Shahid denied the involvement of its students in the incident.

Human rights organisations have flagged issues faced by Hindus in Pakistan. Amnesty International in 2020 noted that attacks on Hindu temples and false blasphemy cases had increased in recent years.

The Amnesty said, "In recent years, they have faced increasing marginalization, with individuals facing false accusations of 'blasphemy' – a crime that carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan – attacks on temples and shops, and the horrific abduction, forced conversion and forced marriage of hundreds of young Hindu women. In 2019, in two separate incidents, mobs attacked Hindu properties and places of worship in the southern Sindh province after allegations of 'blasphemy' were made against a Hindu school principal and a Hindu veterinarian."

Upon Partition of India in 1947, Pakistan became an Islamic country whereas India became a secular country. While non-Muslims migrated to India in large numbers, several families stayed or could not leave present-day Pakistan. Most Hindus today live in the Sindh province.

The Associated Press in 2020 reported that around 1,000 girls are forcibly converted to Islam every year. It noted that most of the converted girls are impoverished Hindus from Sindh province.

Source: Outlook India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.outlookindia.com/international/pakistan-hindu-students-playing-holi-in-university-of-karachi-attacked-by-radical-islamic-group-news-268171

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Delhi High Court Refuses to Advance Hearing on Plea Against Stopping Namaz in Mughal Mosque in Mehrauli

 

Mughal Masjid, Mehrauli

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MARCH 07, 2023

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to advance the hearing of a plea by the Managing Committee of the Delhi Waqf Board against the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) stopping Namaz at Mughal Mosque in the city’s Mehrauli area.

The counsel for the petitioner said the matter was “ripe for final disposal”, and in view of the upcoming religious occasions, the hearing scheduled for August 21 should be advanced.

The central government counsel opposed the request and said he would file a response to the rejoinder filed by the petitioner.

“List on date already fixed,” said Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri.

The grievance of the petitioner before the high court is that the officials of the ASI completely stopped the offering of namaz in the Mughal mosque on May 13, 2022, in an “absolutely unlawful, arbitrary and precipitous manner”, without serving any notice or order.

In its reply to the petition, the Archaeological Survey of India said the mosque comes within the boundary of Qutub Minar and is within the protected area where prayers cannot be permitted.

During the submissions, petitioner’s counsel M Sufian Siddiqui emphasised that the Mughal mosque was distinct from the “contentious” Quwattul Islam Mosque which is the subject matter of a suit before a lower court in Saket.

A plea, pending before a Saket court, has prayed for restoration of Hindu and Jain deities inside the Qutub Minar complex on the ground that 27 temples were partly demolished by Qutubuddin Aibak, a general in the army of Mohamad Gauri, and Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque was raised inside the complex by reusing the material.

In the early hearing application, the petitioner said the next date of hearing is almost six months later, and with each passing day, its rights were getting transgressed and devotees were looking forward to offering namaz in the Mughal Masjid on the occasion of ‘Shab-e-barat’ and then the holy month of Ramadan.

Responding to the Centre’s stand, the petitioner asserted that the mosque is not “protected”, is outside the fenced area and at a distance from the Quwwatul Islam Masjid.

“That the respondents have not denied or even disputed those documents and are, in a mischievous manner, trying to create an illusion that the subject matter of the present petition is ‘Quwwatul Islam Masjid’,” the rejoinder filed by the petitioner said.

The petitioner, in the rejoinder, said there is overwhelming evidence to prove that the mosque was under religious use and regular prayers were held there when the other structures in adjacent area were declared as centrally protected monuments.

In its reply, the ASI has said that allowing prayers at the Mughal mosque will “not only set an example but it may also impact other monuments too”.

It cautioned that the decision of the high court would “have a significant bearing/influence” on the matter before the Saket court.

“The instant matter is liable to be dismissed on the grounds that the Petitioners are misleading the Hon’ble Court by stating that the Mosque in question is not a Centrally Protected Monument,” the reply said.

“Qutub Minar is a Monument of National Importance and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is submitted that it is not a place of worship, since the time of its protection the monument or any part of it, has not been used for any type of worship by any community. It is submitted that the Mosque in question comes within the boundary of Qutub Minar Complex,” added the reply.

The plea has sought restraining the authorities from “causing any obstruction or interference in the performance of ‘namaz’ at the mosque in question, that is, a waqf property notified as ‘Masjid adjacent to Eastern Gate of Qutab Minar, Mehrauli’ in Delhi Administration’s Gazette Notification.

Source: News18

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.news18.com/india/hc-refuses-to-advance-hearing-on-plea-against-stopping-namaz-in-mughal-mosque-7242283.html

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Empire State Building Lit Up With Turkish Flag’s Colours For Earthquake Victims

 

 Empire State Building Lit Up With Turkish Flag’s Colours

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Rabia İclal Turan 

07.03.2023

WASHINGTON

New York’s Empire State Building was lit with the red and white colors of the Turkish flag Monday evening in a show of support after major earthquakes hit the country’s southern provinces on Feb. 6.

The move came in partnership with Turkish Airlines on the one-month anniversary of the earthquakes to honor those affected by the tragedy.

Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the iconic building, also shared information on an aid campaign launched by the Turkish Consulate General in New York, calling on people to help the quake victims.

More than 46,100 people have been killed in the two quakes that shook Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to officials.

The strong tremors, which were centered in Kahramanmaras province, have affected around 13.5 million people across 10 other provinces: Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa and Elazig.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/empire-state-building-lit-up-with-turkish-flag-s-colors-for-earthquake-victims/2838832

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Tashkent Hosts Meeting of Special Representatives of Afghanistan’s Neighbouring Countries

 

Photo: aa.com

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By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 7, 2023

The first meeting of special representatives of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries was held on Tuesday, in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

Representatives from Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, China, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan participated in the meeting, aimed at discussing the current situation in Afghanistan.

The representatives of the neighboring countries discussed the current situation in Afghanistan, emphasized finding solutions to the existing issues, and establishing long-lasting peace in the war-torn country. Continuing the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan during these difficult times also conversed during the meeting.

The meeting was held in the absence of the Taliban representatives in Tashkent. Besides, several neighbouring countries including Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan have officially handed over the Afghan Embassies to the Taliban diplomats, but the group is still not invited to such meetings on regional levels.

Afghanistan’s neighboring countries have repeatedly called on the Islamic Emirate authorities to respect human rights, lift the restrictions on women and girls attending education, and form an all-inclusive government so that everyone can see them represented in the regime. However, the Taliban officials have their own priorities and policies regarding these major challenges.

The de facto regime of Afghanistan has neither internal legitimacy nor external recognition so far, which is why the Taliban representatives and diplomats are not invited to major international conferences.

On the one hand, the Taliban-run administration is accused of violating human rights, the rights of women, girls, religious minorities, and ethnic groups, and on the other hand, they call on the international community to recognize the interim regime and engage with the Taliban group.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/tashkent-hosts-meeting-of-special-representatives-of-afghanistans-neighboring-countries/

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 Arab World

 UAE President meets Ukraine’s First Lady, directs $4 mln aid to children of war

08 March ,2023

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, on Tuesday and has ordered $4 million of humanitarian aid to children affected by the conflict in the war-torn country.

Zelenska – the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Chairwoman of the Olena Zelenska Foundation - is visiting the UAE to participate in the Forbes 30/50 Summit in Abu Dhabi this week, state nws agency WAM reported.

Sheikh Mohamed greeted Zelenska at the Qasr Al Bahr majlis and was briefed on the human consequences of the Ukrainian crisis, particularly with regard to children.

The UAE President directed that $4 million be allocated for the care of children affected by the crisis in support of one of the Foundation’s projects, known as ‘Family-Type Orphanages’, which will contribute to the construction of 10 buildings that will house about 100 children.

Sheikh Mohamed reiterated the UAE’s commitment to the people of Ukraine through ongoing humanitarian aid, while stressing the importance of international and regional efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to re-establish security, stability and peace.

Zelenska thanked Sheikh Mohamed for his support and humanitarian position throughout the crisis, as well as the UAE’s provision of aid to Ukrainian refugees in neighboring countries.

During her visit, the Ukrainian First Lady will meet with members of the Ukrainian community living in the UAE.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2023/03/08/UAE-President-meets-Ukraine-s-First-Lady-directs-4-mln-aid-to-children-of-war

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Israeli minister call for Palestinian home demolition may escalate matters in Ramadan: Al-Azhar

7 Mar 2023

Al-Azhar warned on Tuesday that the recent statements of the Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir calling for the continuation of the demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem could lead to a flare up in confrontations between the two sides during the holy month of Ramadan.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism (AOCE) warned that "Despite the suspension of demolitions of unlicensed buildings of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan in fear of flaring up of the situation and a possible third Palestinian intifada, still, the statements made by the security minister could ignite confrontations in the city."

The observatory stressed that “the statements of the extremist Zionist Ben-security minister Gvir's remarks in which he called for continuing to demolish Palestinian homes comes in the same context of what Jerusalem faces in terms of a systematic Zionist plan to force a new reality on the city and its sacred sites and ignores the sanctity of the holy month.”

The statement cited a report in the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth which indicated that the occupation forces plan to evict six Palestinian families from their homes in the neighbourhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah during the month of March under the pretext that the land belongs to a settlement association and settlers’ families.

“This is an unprecedented number of evictions in one month,” the statement warned.

In recent months, repeated deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank and the continued demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have led to major confrontations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

The statement also cited a leaked audio recording in which Ben-Gvir can be heard rejecting the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque to Israeli settlers during the last ten days of Ramadan - which is set to start on 23 March - claiming that such closure amounts to “a surrender to terrorism.”

The far-right government of PM Benjamin Netanyahu has triggered widespread anger in the occupied territories and beyond after it announced to build thousands of new settlement units in the West Bank.

However, under pressure from Arab and world leaders, Netanyahu agreed in late February to put the construction of new settlement units in the West Bank on hold for six months.

In January, Ben-Gvir led a group of Israeli settlers in storming Al-Aqsa under the protection of Israeli police.

Source: Ahram

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.ahram.org.eg/News/491275.aspx

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UN rights chief calls for ‘serious’ Lebanon blast investigation

March 07, 2023

GENEVA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a “serious investigation” into the disastrous 2020 Beirut port explosion in a call that was echoed by dozens of other countries on Tuesday.

Families of victims, rights groups, and even some political parties in Lebanon have lambasted political stonewalling of the local investigation into the blast that killed some 220 people. The investigating judge has tried to resume his inquiry after a 13-month suspension due to high-level interference but Lebanon’s top prosecutor has told clerks not to process his decisions.

“Serious investigation into the explosion of August 2020 is urgently needed, without political interference or further delay,” Volker Turk said in his global address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Shortly afterwards, Australia’s envoy read out a statement on behalf of 38 countries including many European states, Canada, Britain and Israel calling for a “swift, independent, credible and transparent investigation.”

It said the investigation to date had been “hampered by systematic obstruction, interference, intimidation, and a political impasse.”

Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, said governments from around the world stood up on Tuesday to defend the rights of the victims of the Beirut port explosion. She added that more work needs to be done.

“Time is running out for an effective investigation. Member states should support a resolution at the Human Rights Council establishing a fact-finding mission as soon as possible,” Fakih said.

The HRW also stressed that further steps must be taken, calling on the UN Human Rights Council to “pass a resolution which establishes and dispatches, without delay, an independent and impartial fact-finding mission for the Beirut explosion.”

Separately, the US ambassador to the council, Michele Taylor, said that a timely and transparent investigation was required and said the lack of progress to date underscored the need for judicial reform.

Paul Naggear, father of Alexandra Naggear, a toddler who died in the explosion, told Reuters he was pleased with the broad support for the statement.

“The most important thing is a general acknowledgment that the Lebanese authorities have been systematically blocking justice. It’s not just us that are saying this now — it’s international,” he said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2264271/middle-east

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UN rights chief calls for ‘serious’ Lebanon blast investigation

07 March ,2023

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called for a “serious investigation” into the disastrous 2020 Beirut port explosion in a call that was echoed by dozens of other countries on Tuesday.

Families of victims, rights groups, and even some political parties in Lebanon have lambasted political stonewalling of the local investigation into the blast that killed some 220 people.

The investigating judge has tried to resume his inquiry after a 13-month suspension due to high-level interference but Lebanon’s top prosecutor has told clerks not to process his decisions.

“Serious investigation into the explosion of August 2020 is urgently needed, without political interference or further delay,” Volker Turk said in his global address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Shortly afterwards, Australia’s envoy read out a statement on behalf of 38 countries including many European states, Canada, Britain and Israel calling for a “swift, independent, credible and transparent investigation.”

It said the investigation to date had been “hampered by systematic obstruction, interference, intimidation, and a political impasse.”

Separately, the US ambassador to the council, Michele Taylor, said that a timely and transparent investigation was required and said the lack of progress to date underscored the need for judicial reform.

Paul Naggear, father of Alexandra Naggear, a toddler who died in the explosion, told Reuters he was pleased with the broad support for the statement.

“The most important thing is a general acknowledgment that the Lebanese authorities have been systematically blocking justice. It’s not just us that are saying this now - it’s international,” he said.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/07/UN-rights-chief-calls-for-serious-Lebanon-blast-investigation

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Three dead in Israel strike on Syria’s Aleppo airport: monitor

March 08, 2023

BEIRUT: : Israeli warplanes killed three people in a raid on Syria’s Aleppo airport Tuesday, a war monitor said after the strike which, according to a Syrian official, halted earthquake aid flights.

The airport has been a major conduit for relief flights since a February 6 earthquake devastated swathes of southeastern Turkiye and neighboring Syria.

A transport ministry official in Syria said the aid flights were among those brought to a stop from Aleppo, Syria’s second city.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources in war-torn Syria, said “a Syrian officer” and two people of unknown nationality were killed in the air strike.

Syria’s defense ministry said the strike occurred at 2:07 am (2307 GMT Monday).

“The Israeli enemy carried out an air attack from the Mediterranean west of Latakia targeting Aleppo international airport,” a ministry statement said.

It added that the damage forced authorities to close the airport to all flights.

More than 80 aid flights have landed in Aleppo over the past month with relief supplies for quake-hit areas, transport ministry official Suleiman Khalil told AFP.

“It is no longer possible to receive aid flights until the damage has been repaired,” he said, adding the strike had put the runway out of service.

Aid deliveries have been diverted to Damascus and Latakia airports, a ministry statement said.

State news agency SANA said Syrian air defenses had gone into action against “enemy missiles.”

An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment on the reported strike.

The Observatory said the airport was expected to reopen in a few days after repair work.

Syria’s foreign ministry decried a “double crime,” saying the strike targeted “a civilian airport... and one of the key channels for the arrival of humanitarian aid” to victims of the quake which killed around 6,000 people in Syria.

It marked the second Israeli attack on government-held areas since the 7.8-magnitude quake that killed more than 50,000 people in the two countries.

On February 19, an Israeli air strike killed 15 people in a Damascus district housing state security agencies, the Observatory said.

Damascus ally Iran condemned the latest strike as “a “crime against humanity.”

“While the Syrian earthquake victims in Aleppo are experiencing difficult conditions, the Zionist regime (Israel) is attacking Aleppo airport,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement.

Israel has attacked Aleppo and Damascus airports several times in recent years.

A strike on the Aleppo facility last September put it out of service for a few days. That attack targeted a warehouse used by Iran-backed militias, the Observatory said at the time.

Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air raids against its neighbor, primarily targeting positions of the Syrian army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2264401/middle-east

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Egypt seeks to attract Islamic investors with debut sukuk, EGX Sharia index

Hassan Jivraj

March 7, 2023

Egypt's Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) is allowing domestic companies to sell traditional and Islamic bonds — known as sukuk — without the need for a credit rating, according to an official statement made on Monday. The move aims to reduce the cost of listing and issuing bonds and sukuk, and encourage more Egyptian companies to access debt instruments to fund their expansion and investment plans.

This comes after Egypt issued its first ever sovereign sukuk on Feb 21. The three-year $1.5 billion Sharia-compliant debt issuance, which offers an annual profit rate of 10.875%, was four times oversubscribed. The issuance is part of a $5 billion three-year sukuk program that the Ministry of Finance established Feb. 14 and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Some 250 global investors including asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies and investment banks from the Gulf, Asia, Europe and the United States subscribed to the debt offering, according to a statement by Finance Minister Mohammed Maait.

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Fakrizzaki Ghazali, fixed income manager at Riyadh-based SNB Capital, told Al-Monitor that Egypt's sukuk program will be "well-received" given the dearth of US-dollar denominated Sharia assets. "It will give investors more options to pick within the high yield sovereign [sukuk] market, in addition to Turkey, Bahrain, Oman and Sharjah,” he said.

Egypt’s sukuk is its first foray in international bond markets since March 2022. With Egypt’s public finances having deteriorated over the past year, Cairo reportedly used the sukuk to repay a $1.25 billion Eurobond that matured Feb. 21.

The Arab world’s most populous nation is dealing with a severe currency crisis, high inflation and interest rates as well as unsustainable external debt levels. The cash-strapped country signed a new four-year $3 billion rescue package with the International Monetary Fund in December 2022.

Egypt’s debut sukuk will join a larger global Islamic bond market worth around $750 billion, according to some estimates. S&P Global forecasts that global sukuk issuance will be around $150 billion in 2023, compared to $155.8 billion in 2022 and $170.4 billion in 2021.

Mohamed Damak, global head of Islamic Finance at S&P Global Ratings, believes that while Egypt’s first sovereign sukuk may open the door for similar future transactions from the government or other private sector issuers, the material impact may be limited.

“By establishing its sukuk issuance program, the government has diversified its funding sources,” he said. “However, the contribution of Islamic finance to the Egyptian economy is still limited. There are few Islamic banks in Egypt. It remains to be seen if the sovereign sukuk will open the door for private sector sukuk issuances.”

In August 2021, Egypt ratified its sukuk law that enables entities to issue local or international sukuk.

Rania Abdelfattah, associate professor of finance at the British University in Egypt, told A-Monitor, “We have seen local currency corporate sukuk issuances. These issuances have been successfully structured by major investment banks in Egypt such as EFG Hermes. I don’t see a flurry of Egyptian corporates issuing sukuk because these entities — besides the government — rarely issue bonds in the international market."

One Islamic debt origination banker based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said that it is highly unlikely that other Egyptian issuers will tap the international sukuk market anytime soon. “There is no market for any level below the sovereign,” he told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. "It’s very similar to Turkey. None of the corporations or financial institutions can get a deal done other than the sovereign."

In addition to the sukuk, the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), the country’s stock exchange, is working on developing a new Islamic index. The new index would offer investors and funds access to specific Sharia-compliant stocks on the EGX. Rami El-Dokany, chairman of EGX, reaffirmed this commitment at a recent conference in late February.

A new EGX Sharia index would join a growing number of Islamic indices that track regional and global equities as well as other asset classes. The most notable global Islamic indices include Dow Jones Islamic Market index and MSCI World Islamic Index.

At present, S&P Egypt BMI Shariah offers a Sharia-compliant version of the S&P Egypt BMI, a broad-based benchmark covering large-, mid- and small-cap Egyptian stocks.

“The development of the Sharia index is part of its current initiatives to enhance the financial sector,” Abdelfattah noted. “The EGX is also working on raising financial awareness to the public about investments in the capital market.”

According to Mohamed al-Beltagy, president of the Egyptian Islamic Finance Association, the lack of knowledge and understanding of Islamic products and how they differ from conventional finance is one of the key challenges facing the industry.

Source: Al Monitor

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/03/egypt-seeks-attract-islamic-investors-debut-sukuk-egx-sharia-index

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Iraq’s Fatah says no hesitation over US troop expulsion as Pentagon chief visits Baghdad

07 March 2023

The Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in the Iraqi parliament says the country’s resistance and political groups agree on the need to expel all American troops, noting that this is a “definitive” and “national” decision rather than a factional one.

“Efforts continue at the public and political levels to wrap up the case of the presence of US forces on Iraqi soil. There will be no negligence or hesitation in expelling the Americans,” Fatah Alliance lawmaker Karim Aliwi told Iraq’s al-Maluma news agency on Tuesday.

The remarks came after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The visit came just days before the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of the Arab country under the false pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The US withdrew soldiers from Iraq between 2007 and 2011 but redeployed them in 2014 along with other partners to allegedly counter the threat of the Daesh terrorist group.

Iraq managed to end the territorial rule of the Takfiri outfit in the country thanks to the sacrifices of the national army as well as the anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which had the backing of Iran.

However, Washington kept its forces inside Iraq in defiance of a resolution that required its withdrawal. The resolution was passed by the Arab country’s parliament in January 2020, following the US assassination of Iran’s legendary anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the PMU deputy head.

The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq in December 2021, but it still maintains a number of troops there under the guise of playing an advisory and training role.

“Iraqi resistance, popular mobilization and political groups share a view on the expulsion of all American forces from Iraqi soil, and if this is not done, other ways to expel the Americans will be on the agenda,” Aliwi said.

He also urged the Iraqi parliament to implement the 2020 resolution on the expulsion of US military personnel.

“The continued presence of American forces is a violation of UN decisions. The expulsion of the US troops is not a decision by a certain political faction, but rather a national option,” the lawmaker said.

Austin’s Baghdad visit came two days after US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley paid an unannounced visit to Syria, where he met with US occupation troops.

Syrian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned “the illegal visit of the American chairman of the chiefs of staff to an illegal American military base in northeast Syria.”

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/07/699447/Iraq-Fatah-expelling-US-

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Pakistan

 

Federal Shariat Court: ‘No Place For Domestic Violence In Islam’

By Myra Imran

March 08, 2023

Islamabad: Chief Justice, Federal Shariat Court, Justice Dr. Syed Muhammad Anwer has said that there is no place for domestic violence in Islam.

He was speaking at the launch of a ‘policy brief on Domestic Violence’ by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), in collaboration with UN Women, on Tuesday.

He said that in a diverse society like Pakistan, many issues are overlapping and culture is confused with religion. “Same is with the issue of domestic violence. People were convinced that domestic violence has something to do with Islam, On the contrary, it is nothing to do with Islam. He said that eliminating the menace of domestic violence is a continuous and steady process. He quoted Quran and gave examples from the life of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) when he forbade all kinds of domestic violence.

Launched as part of a wider campaign against domestic violence, the policy brief provides a detailed view of how domestic violence affects Pakistani citizens, particularly women. Furthermore, it analyses possible interventions that can be made against domestic violence, citing the establishment of federal domestic violence legislation as a crucial step in addressing this ‘urgent matter.’ The brief also examines the international commitments made by Pakistan and provides recommendations for legal and socio-economic actions that can be taken by the government to tackle the issue.

Speaking on this occasion, NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha said that following nationwide consultation and meetings with various stakeholders from civil society and state institutions, the NCHR took note of the alarming rise in domestic violence cases in the country and lack of protection for women who find themselves in an increasingly precarious position as Pakistan reels from COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating floods and now rising inflation, all which disproportionally affect women far more than their male counterparts.

The Chairperson said besides working on a Policy Brief, the Commission has launched a helpline (1413) for the protection of women's marriage rights in Punjab. “In addition to that, the NCHR has a complaint redressal mechanism and continuously follows up on rules and implementation of provincial domestic violence Acts in Sindh and Balochistan.”

Source: The News Pakistan

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1047674-no-place-for-domestic-violence-in-islam

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KP police set up unit to probe terror financing through extortion money

March 8, 2023

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police have established the Counter Terrorist Financing Unit (CTFU) to “reduce and investigate” the growing cases of extortion to finance terrorist activities.

“Extortion is taking place at a huge scale. This was a low priority area. There was confusion on who would deal with it in the first place,” KP Inspector General of Police Akhtar Hayat Khan told Dawn about the initiative.

A standing order issued by the Central Police Office said the volume of terror financing, extortion and transfer of money through illegal means, inland and across the borders, was higher than the number of registered cases.

It added that the cases reported to the police were just a tip of the iceberg.

IGP says even 30pc success of initiative will make a difference

The IGP said the police had created the fiscal space to get specialised equipment and gadgets and the required personnel to prop up the unit and get it going.

“I hope to see it [CTFU] up and running by the middle of next month,” he said.

Data shared with Dawn revealed that the province recorded 155 cases of extortion payment in 2022 alone and that 60 extortion payers disclosed the amount to the police but a bigger number declined to do so.

According to it, the amount paid to extortionists was estimated at Rs41 million.

“The scale and amount of extortion is, of course, much bigger than we know,” the police chief said.

However, in a recent background briefing, a top security official put the figure at Rs1.06 billion. It is not clear how the law-enforcement agency reached that sum.

The standing order, while outlining the objectives of the CTFU was to reduce the threat of terrorist financing by ‘detecting, preventing, deterring and disrupting the flow of terrorist finance.’

“I am banking on a 30 per cent success rate,” Mr Khan said.

“Even if we are able to reduce it by 30 per cent, it would certainly dent the terrorists’ ability to finance their activities. Less money means less activity. It is better to do something than fighting it with meagre resources. At the moment, we are doing nothing.”

The standing order said the CTFC would undertake to understand terrorist finance activity by exploiting intelligence to prevent and detect illicit activity and investigate to disrupt and deter it by holding extortionists to account.

According to it, the CTFC will also review its legislative framework and propose new laws or amendments in the existing instruments with the view to enhance legal powers of law- enforcement agencies to disrupt and pursue terrorism financing in the face of more technological and complex threats that Pakistan and its interest might face.

Currently, Pakistan has several laws dealing with terrorist financing, including the NACTA Act, Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 2947, Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

As part of the effort, the police chief said he was formally setting up the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Financial Intelligence Cell that would be linked with financial units to receive suspicious transaction reports, work on them, and initiate their own suspicious activity reports.

“We are going to procure highly sophisticated technology and digital systems. We need to have a technological edge over terrorists financing their activities through extortion. If we can squeeze them, it will have an impact on the ground. Better technology and better methods will yield better results,” he said.

The IGP said increasing the police’s digital footprint was high on his agenda.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1740965/kp-police-set-up-unit-to-probe-terror-financing-through-extortion-money

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Pakistan, US reaffirm commitment to address common terrorism threat

March 8, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to address the common threat of terrorism, according to a press release by the Foreign Office (FO).

A US delegation had arrived in Islamabad on Sunday for counterterrorism talks, days after an official US report warned that terrorist groups were once again regrouping in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

The FO said the Pakistan-US Counter-Terrorism Dialogue took place on Monday and Tuesday in which the two sides “reaffirmed their commitment to address the common threat of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” and shared their experiences in countering terrorist financing.

They also agreed to continue the counterterrorism dialogue and develop a “better understanding of the terrorist threat”.

“The two-day discussions covered a range of topics, including counter-terrorism cooperation at multilateral forums, assessment of regional counterterrorism landscape, cyber security and countering violent extremism.

“The US assistance projects in Pakistan were discussed, with a particular focus on capacity building in anti-money laundering and the justice sector. Both sides highlighted the importance of these projects in enhancing Pakistan’s capacity to counter terrorism,” the FO said.

Pakistan was led by FO Additional Secretary Syed Haider Shah and the US delegation was headed by State Department Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg.

Diplomatic sources previously told media that US-Pakistan defence talks, held in Washington last month, also focused on issues like counterterrorism, terrorism financing and intelligence sharing.

The United States expects Pakistan to back its efforts to prevent terrorist groups from renewing their roots in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.

After recent terrorist attacks in Peshawar and Karachi, the United States assured Pakistan of its full support in fighting banned extremist groups such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan who claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/03/08/pakistan-us-reaffirm-commitment-to-address-common-terrorism-threat/

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Non-bailable arrest warrant against Pakistan's ousted PM Imran Khan suspended till March 13 in Toshakhana case

Mar 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended till March 13 the non-bailable arrest warrant against Pakistan's ousted prime minister Imran Khan for his failure to appear before a sessions court here for the fourth time in the Toshakhana case.

The IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, announcing the verdict that he reserved earlier in the day, directed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief to appear before the district and sessions court on March 13, rejecting a plea by Khan's lawyer to give four weeks for appearance before the court in the case.

Khan, 70, has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana, and selling them for profit.

Khan on Tuesday for the fourth time skipped a hearing at the sessions court, citing health and security reasons.

The former premier's counsel Sher Afzal Marwat, who appeared before the court, said Khan was unwell and “disabled” after being injured in the Wazirabad attack.

Marwat said a "global spectacle” was created regarding the PTI chief, whose party on Monday challenged in the IHC the arrest warrant issued against him for not appearing before the court.

Requesting the court to give a date next week for hearing the matter, Marwat maintained that he would provide the power of attorney within “a day or two”.

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Khan slammed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's government and said it was behind a total of 76 legal cases - so far - raised against him.

“This is what happens when a bunch of criminals is imposed on a nation by those who are devoid of intelligence, morality, and ethics,” he tweeted.

The PTI chief on Monday moved the IHC against the non-bailable arrest warrant ordered by the Islamabad sessions court in the Toshakhana case.

His lawyer Ali Bukhari in the petition before the IHC requested a cancellation of the warrant, arguing that it was “illegal” to issue a non-bailable warrant.

The IHC then gave Khan another opportunity to choose a date to appear before the courts in the Toshakhana (gift depository) reference.

The court also remarked that the warrants were not issued for arrests but to frame charges against Khan.

“You appear in court for the framing of charges and then request for an exemption,” Justice Farooq said. “The law is the same for everyone. What can the court do?

“The court has to adopt a legal procedure,” he added, maintaining that Khan had to appear in the sessions court today (Monday) but he did not.

“You tell, when will he appear?” the judge asked. “Imran Khan has to appear before me as well. He can come on March 9 and appear before the sessions court too.”

Here, the PTI lawyer said that Khan had severe security threats to which the judge replied that the court's judges received threats "every day" and asked if he should shut down the IHC because of it.

Khan's lawyer stated that he would consult with the PTI chief and get "instructions" on what to do next "within half an hour". The counsel announced that he would speak to Khan over video-link due to "security concerns".

The court adjourned the hearing for half an hour.

The Islamabad sessions court had earlier on Monday rejected the request to cancel Khan's arrest warrant.

Khan had argued that the withdrawal of the summons would enable him “a fair opportunity to appear and defend himself” in the case, but the justice said the PTI chief "willfully avoided" his appearance.

Khan has earlier thrice skipped indictment hearings in the Islamabad sessions court in the case.

In his assets declarations, he is accused of concealing details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana — a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept.

The Islamabad sessions court judge had on February 28 issued arrest warrants against Khan and adjourned the hearing till March 7.

On March 5, an Islamabad police team was sent to Khan's Zaman Park residence in Lahore with the court summons. However, the police returned empty-handed after the PTI chief evaded the arrest.

Separately, Islamabad Police on Monday registered a case against Khan and 150 of his party workers for obstructing law enforcement agency officials from implementing a court order against the ousted prime minister in the Toshakhana case.

The police faced stiff resistance from PTI activists outside Khan's Zaman Park residence.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in October last year ruled that he made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding Toshakhana gifts.

The ECP, later on, asked the Islamabad sessions court to proceed against Khan under criminal law for hiding the sale of gifts.

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

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/non-bailable-arrest-warrant-against-pakistans-ousted-pm-imran-khan-suspended-till-march-13-in-toshakhana-case/articleshow/98482297.cms

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ECP issues arrest warrants for PTI chief, Fawad in contempt case

Asif Chaudhry | Iftikhar A. Khan Published March 8, 2023ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Annoyed by their persistent absence, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday issued bailable arrest warrants for PTI Chairman Imran Khan and senior party leader Fawad Chaudhry in a case pertaining to contempt of the ECP and chief election commissioner (CEC).

Separately, Lahore police registered another case against senior PTI leaders for delivering incendiary speeches and accusing the state of hatching conspiracy to assassinate Imran Khan.

A four-member ECP bench headed by member from Sindh Nisar Durrani noted that the former prime minister was not appearing before the electoral watchdog despite being summoned persistently, which amounts to insulting the commission.

The bench directed the Islamabad police chief to arrest Mr Khan and Fawad Chaudhry and produce them before it the on March 14.

Dismisses plea seeking Imran’s removal as party chairman; police book party leaders in another case

The ECP had issued show-cause notices to the PTI chief and party leaders Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry for using intemperate language against the commission and its head last year. While Mr Umar appeared before the ECP bench for the first time last week, the two others never turned up.

The PTI chief in his objections said the notice as well as show-cause notice had also been challenged by him in the Lahore High Court. He said the orders of the high court shall have a blanket effect on the legality of these proceedings. “Neither the notice nor the show-cause notice have been issued by the rightful authority and the secretary of ECP or the DG of Law cannot assume authority to issue any notice or show-cause notice without express provision of law authorising them,” Mr Khan said.

The response filed by Asad Umar also contained similar arguments.

Plea dismissed

Also on Tuesday, the ECP dismissed a plea seeking removal of Imran Khan as the chairman of PTI following his disqualification in Toshakhana case, after the petitioner Afaq Ahmad misbehaved with the bench.

When Barrister Gohar, Mr Khan’s lawyer, argued that the Lahore High Court had barred the commission from issuing any verdict in the case, CEC Sikander Sultan Raja said the high court had barred the electoral watchdog from issuing the verdict and not discontinuing the hearing.

Afaq Ahmed said the ECP had been serving “false notices” on him, adding that the notices issued to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were being sent to him. “The notices could not reach me on time due to the negligence of the deputy director of the law department,” he added.

The CEC rebuked him, saying he should not point finger at anyone, lower his voice and talk about the relevant case.

The petitioner asked who was responsible for serving a notice after the case had been taken up for hearing. The CEC remarked what he (petitioner) meant by that to which the latter stated he would not say what Mr Raja wanted to listen to.

Upon this, the CEC ordered police to send Mr Ahmad out of the courtroom. Later, the ECP dismissed the plea.

Another case against PTI leaders

Meanwhile, Lahore police registered another case against senior PTI leaders, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Fawad Chaudhry, along with 50 party activists on charges of delivering speeches inciting the public against the government and accusing the state of hatching a plot to assassinate former PM Imran Khan.

The case was registered a day after Lahore police lodged an FIR against the PTI chairman, his chief of staff Shibli Faraz and 150 other party workers for harassing the Islamabad police during a raid on Zaman Park residence of the former prime minister.

This time, police applied seven sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in the FIR, which was registered on the complaint of Sub-Inspector Mohammad Waseem of the Race Course police station.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1741001/ecp-issues-arrest-warrants-for-pti-chief-fawad-in-contempt-case

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School canteens in Sindh barred from selling fizzy drinks in glass bottles

March 8, 2023

KARACHI: The Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions Sindh (DIRPIS) has ordered that fizzy drinks in glass bottles be banned at private school canteens.

The order follows the unfortunate and heartbreaking incident in which a class five student at a private school lost his life due to the explosion of a glass bottle filled with Limca Soda. The soft drink was sold in the school canteen.

Therefore, the Directorate has issued an order in the form of a notification to all principals and administrators of all privately managed schools to ensure that no soda drinks be allowed at their canteens.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1740970/school-canteens-in-sindh-barred-from-selling-fizzy-drinks-in-glass-bottles

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Afghan delegation expected in Pakistan soon: Asif

March 7, 2023

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said an Afghan delegation was expected in Pakistan soon in continuation of talks related to various issues including regional security and counter-terrorism measures.

The minister’s statement comes more than a week after a high-level Pakistani delegation, led by Asif, visited Kabul to meet with officials of the Afghan interim government to discuss a variety of issues from security to bilateral cooperation.

The two sides had specifically discussed the growing threat of terrorism in the region, particularly from the banned militant groups Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), in the high-level talks.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbours and should have cordial relations. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants expansion of commercial and economic relations with Pakistan as such relations are in the interest of both countries,” the official statement from Afghanistan had said on February 22.

Afghanistan’s Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar had noted that political and security issues should not affect trade and economic matters between the two countries and be kept separate from political and security problems.

Addressing a press talk in Islamabad today, Asif emphasised that the Afghan territory must not be used by terrorists, especially in light of the agreement signed in Doha.

“We asked them to honour the accord and they agreed to our request,” the minister added.

In February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar, to bring an end to the 2001–2021 war in Afghanistan. The agreement ultimately led to the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan on Aug 15, 2021.

Asif said Pakistan fought hard to rein in terrorism and vowed the government would do so again. “We will fight as we did in the past.”

He insisted there would be accountability for people who agreed to fight “America’s war” in the 80s.

Turning his guns on his top political rival Imran Khan, Asif claimed the former premier had made no political decisions without the establishment’s help.

He went on to allege that Imran wanted to appoint the army chief of his choice to keep clinging on to power for another five years.

The minister also rebuffed reports of the government’s alleged plan to arrest him, saying “we are not in a hurry as he is getting exposed in front of his supporters [with his own actions].”

He urged the courts to “treat” the PTI chief as it did to politicians in the past.

“It shouldn’t look like he is being accommodated. The treatment he has received will bring us (PML-N) political dividends.”

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/03/07/afghan-delegation-expected-in-pakistan-soon-asif/

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Maryam seeks accountability of ‘people who harmed country’

SHEIKHUPURA: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz has slammed former prime minister Imran Khan and his facilitators for “causing harm to the country” and called for holding them accountable.

“The PML-N is prepared for the polls, but the accountability will be held first and the elections will follow,” she said while addressing PML-N workers convention.

Maryam claimed that the PML-N will win the elections but a few things must be placed in order first.

She bitterly criticised the former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar alleging that he (Saqib) set his own ‘standards of justice’. Nawaz Sharif, the three-time prime minister, was subjected to political persecution, she said. She highlighted injustices meted out to her family members and the PML-N leaders. She said the former CJP Saqib Nisar has withdrawn the certificate of ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ given to Imran Khan. Referring to former chief justice’s claim of ‘WhatsApp hack’, Maryam said that the nation’s future has been hacked, not Nisar’s WhatsApp. “The infamous JIT [Joint Investigation Team] was also constituted on WhatsApp,” she said.

Why ex-PM Nawaz Sharif was made to serve a year in jail for no reason and why ‘criminal’ Imran Khan has been walking free, she questioned?

In April 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified the three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif for life and in April 2022, ex-PM Imran Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote, she said. She also questioned her disqualification though she was not holding a public office.

“Why did you hand over the destiny of the nation to an addict? Why an addict was made Prime Minister? He is not only ineligible and dishonest but is the most coward person,” she remarked.

She alleged that Faiz Hameed approached Justice Shaukat Siddiqui and told him that if Nawaz is not disqualified, their two-year manoeuvring will be a futile exercise.

She said the people wanted to know why popular leaders were put behind the bars. She said the public has the right to know the truth.

Speaking about PTI's "Jail Bharo Tehreek", Maryam said that no movement was a bigger failure than this one. "PTI leadership kept telling their workers to fill up the jails and were sitting at home themselves out of fear," she said, adding: "There was no comparison between PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan as Nawaz was a "brave person because he faced jail in a bad condition while Imran had never been to jail".

Source: Brecorder

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40230121

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India

 

Coimbatore, Mangaluru Blasts: Police To Examine Claims Made By Islamic State Of Khorasan Province Mouthpiece On Attacks

March 07, 2023

WILSON THOMAS

The Tamil Nadu police are looking into a claim made by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), in a recent issue of its propaganda magazine Voice of Khurasan, stating that it had a role in the car explosion in front of Sangameswarar temple in Coimbatore on October 23 2022, and, possibly, the pressure cooker blast in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru on November 19, 2022.

Coimbatore City Police Commissioner V. Balakrishnan said the police were checking the claim.

“Know that the spark (of war) has already been lit. Do you not consider our attacks in Coimbatore (Tamilnadu) and Karnataka (Bangalore), where our brothers took revenge for the honor of our religion and terrorized kufar and its followers? Thus we promise you that this is just the beginning,” read a paragraph of an article titled ‘A message to the inhabitants in the land occupied by cow and mice worshipping filths’ in the magazine.

Though the write-up named the place in Karnataka as Bangalore, security agencies suspect it could be a reference to the pressure cooker blast reported in an autorickshaw in Mangaluru on November 19, 2022.

The article, which claims to be a message to Hindus, the BJP and the police and military, also mentioned mujahedin (those engaged in ‘holy war’) in south India.

“Our second message is to mujahedin all over the world, especially to mujahedin in south India. O brothers! O muwahhidin and mujahedin! O you who have been guided to the straight path, the path of truth, the path of triumph and the path of salvation,” the message said, calling for stern and harsh action towards disbelievers and for revenge to be taken on them for their actions.

Another portion read that Kashmir, the Babri Masjid [demolition] and the Gujrat riots among other incidents were not forgotten. “We have not forgotten how your military and police arrested their brothers and sisters, imprisoned them, and martyred them. O kuffar in south India, O BJP and police and military officers, by Allah we promise you a bloody revenge in return,” it said.

Source: The Hindu

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coimbatore-mangaluru-blasts-police-to-examine-claims-made-by-islamic-state-of-khorasan-province-mouthpiece-on-attacks/article66591057.ece

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Karnataka: Muslim leaders seek nod to play loudspeakers for ‘Azaan’ during Ramzan

7th March 2023

Chikkamagaluru: Muslim organisations have submitted a memorandum to the District Commissioner and BJP MLA, national General Secretary C.T. Ravi to allow them to use loudspeakers for Azaan early in the morning during the Ramzan period in Chikkamagaluru district.

The Muslim organisations are demanding that they should be allowed to use loudspeakers between 5 a.m. and 5.30 a.m. in the backdrop of the beginning of the Ramzan festival on March 22. The use of loudspeakers for Azaan early in the morning is prohibited in the state following agitations.

The memorandum has been submitted to Deputy Commissioner K.N. Ramesh and Chikkamagaluru constituency MLA and National General Secretary C.T. Ravi on Tuesday.

The memorandum says, “Ramzan season is sacred for the Muslim community. The festival is celebrated with peace, co-existence, fasting, and generous donations, meticulously as per the Islamic traditions.

“Azaan is also a part of the Ramzan festival celebration. We request you in this background to allow the use of loudspeakers on behalf of all Muslim people.”

The permission has been granted for the use of loudspeakers during special occasions, religious functions, sports meets during night and early in the mornings. Likewise, during the sacred month of Ramzan, between 5 a.m. and 5.30 a.m., permission should be given for a maximum of five minutes for performing Azaan, the memorandum stated.

Source: Siasat Daily

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https://www.siasat.com/karnataka-muslim-leaders-seek-nod-to-play-loudspeakers-for-azaan-during-ramzan-2541966/

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Muslim groups in Kerala plan counter-campaign to inheritance law

08th March 2023

KOZHIKODE: Muslim organisations are planning to hold counter campaigns against the move that seeks amendments to the succession laws that are part of the Muslim Personal Law in the country. The issue, which was discussed only in isolated corners, has become a point of live debate after advocate C Shukkur and his wife Dr Sheena Shukkur decided to go for remarriage under the Special Marriage Act to ensure that their daughters get full share of their property.

Ithihadu Shubbanil Mujahideen (ISM), the youth wing of the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM), is organising a programme in Kozhikode on March 15 titled ‘Inheritance, Sharia, Islam.’

KNM state president T P Abdullakoya Madani, IUML state secretary Dr M K Muneer, KNM secretary Haneef Kayakkodi, ISM president S, Shareef Melethil, N V Sakkariyya and Musthafa Thanveer will address the meeting. “The move has come at a time when there is an all-out onslaught on all that is related to  Muslims and Islam. And the secular, liberal and the so-called progressive sections have become tools in the hands of Hindutva forces,” writer and scholar Musthafa Thanveer told TNIE.

Thanveer said Islam is not merely inheritance laws, but this aspect is being projected with a clear intention. “There is a well-defined methodology for bringing in changes in the Muslim society. But what is happening now is a kind of secularisation and forcible implementations of the modernist ideology, which amounts to a kind of violence,” he said.

Sunni Yuvajana Sangham (SYS), the youth wing of the Kanthapuram faction of Sunnis, is also envisaging strategies to counter the pro-reform groups. “We firmly believe that Islamic laws are divine and therefore perfectly logical. There is absolutely no need for any changes in the laws,” said Faisal Ahsani Randathani, a Sunni scholar.

“Women are given lesser share from their ancestral property because they don’t have any financial responsibilities. At the same time, the male members have additional burden,” he said.

Randathani said there is a concerted move to project that the voice for change is coming from Muslims themselves. “These voices are not from the community, but from persons who have already renounced the religion,” he said. “People have the freedom to go out and follow any law that is suited to them,” Randathani said.

Source: New Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2023/mar/08/muslim-groups-in-kerala-plan-counter-campaign-to-inheritance-law-2554084.html

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India slams Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto for raking up Kashmir at UNSC debate

Mar 8, 2023

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday responded strongly to Pakistan's foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari comments on Jammu and Kashmir at a UN Security Council debate on women, peace and security.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, dismissed Zardari's statement as "baseless and politically motivated." “Before I conclude, let me dismiss the frivolous, baseless and politically motivated remarks made by the delegate of Pakistan regarding the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said. Kamboj said that her delegation considered it "unworthy" to respond to "such malicious and false propaganda."

She emphasized the importance of the women, peace and security agenda and reaffirmed India's commitment to positive and forward-looking efforts.

Kamboj's sharp retort came after Pakistan Foreign Minister Zardari referred to Jammu and Kashmir in his remarks to the Council debate held under Mozambique's Presidency for this month, on the eve of International Women's Day.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-slams-pakistan-foreign-minister-bilawal-bhutto-for-raking-up-kashmir-at-unsc-debate/articleshow/98492100.cms

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India to send 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar port

Mar 8, 2023

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday announced a fresh tranche of assistance of 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.

The consignments will be sent through the Chabahar Port in Iran.

The announcement was made at the first meeting of the India-Central Asia joint working group on Afghanistan.

India said that it will extend wheat assistance to the war-torn nation in partnership with the UN World Food Programme.

Post the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, India announced an assistance of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Afghan people as they were reeling under a severe food crisis.

Subsequently, the consignments were sent to Afghanistan using the land route through Pakistan.

Islamabad had granted the transit facility after nearly months of discussions.

"The sides took note of the current humanitarian situation and agreed to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people," the statement said.

'Afghan soil shouldn't be used for terror'

At the meeting, India as well as five central Asian countries also asserted that Afghanistan's soil must not be used for any terrorist activities and called for formation of a "truly inclusive" political structure in Kabul that respects rights of all Afghans including women and minorities.

A joint statement said the meeting emphasized the importance of formation of a "truly inclusive and representative political structure" that respects the rights of all Afghans and ensures equal rights of women, girls and members of minority groups, including access to education.

In December, India joined several other leading countries in criticising the Taliban's decision to ban university education for women in Afghanistan.

The statement said the officials at the deliberations discussed regional threats of terrorism, extremism, radicalisation and drug trafficking and also deliberated on the possibilities to coordinate efforts to counter these threats.

It said they emphasised that the "territory of Afghanistan should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist acts and reaffirmed that no terrorist organizations including those designated by the UNSC resolution 1267 should be provided sanctuary or allowed to use the territory of Afghanistan".

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-to-send-20000-metric-tonnes-of-wheat-to-afghanistan-via-chabahar-port/articleshow/98482433.cms

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PFI terror funding case: NIA busts multi-state hawala network, 5 arrested

Mar 7, 2023

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency has busted a multi-state hawala network -- running across Kerala, Karnataka and Bihar, with roots in the UAE -- that was allegedly funding the terror activities of the outlawed radical outfit Popular Front of India (PFI).

Five persons were arrested on Tuesday in the PFI Phulwarisharif case for collecting illegally generated funds from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and handing them over for depositing in the bank accounts of various accused and suspects.

While tracing and tracking the funds being moved by PFI across the country, as part of its probe into the PFI Phulwarisharif case, NIA unearthed a large network of hawala operatives in South India.

The PFI funding-by-hawala module operating out of Bihar and Karnataka was busted following extensive searches by NIA teams in Kasargod, Kerala and Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka since Sunday. These searches were across eight locations and led to the seizure of multiple digital devices and incriminating documents containing details of transactions running into crores of rupees.

Five members of the PFI -- identified as Mahammad Sinan, Sarfaraz Nawaz, Iqbal and Abdul Rafeek M, all from Dakshin Kannada district of Karnataka; and Abid K M from Kasaragod, Kerala -- were arrested from Dakshin Kannada and Kasaragod for alleged involvement in PFI's criminal conspiracy to move and channelise illicit funds procured from outside India for distribution among PFI cadres and leaders. While Iqbal and other associates are alleged to have illegally generated funds from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and handed them over to Mahammad Sinan, Abdul Rafeek M and Abid K M, arrested accused Md Sarfraz Nawaz and Md Mahammad Sinan -- were found making deposits in the bank account of accused and suspects in PFI case, said NIA.

PFI was declared as an "unlawful association' under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on September 27 last year. However, NIA, while pursuing investigation leads in PFI cases since July 2022, found that its leaders and cadres, undeterred by the ban, were continuing to propagate the ideology of violent extremism and also arranging arms and ammunition for the radicalised to commit crimes against a particular community.

PFI cadres in Phulwarisharif and Motihari too had vowed to continue PFI activities in a clandestine manner in Bihar and arranged a firearm and ammunition recently to eliminate a youth of a particular community in Bihar’s East Champaran District. Three operatives of the module were arrested on 5.2.2023.

Seven accused persons were arrested earlier when they had gathered in the Phulwarisharif area of Patna in July last year for training and to carry out acts of terror and violence.

Pursuing the investigational leads since July 2022, the NIA team had "followed the money", only to reach Md. Sarfraz Nawaz and Md. Mahammad Sinan, who had been found making deposits in the bank accounts of accused and suspects in the PFI case.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pfi-terror-funding-case-nia-busts-multi-state-hawala-network-5-arrested/articleshow/98480439.cms

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BJP to hold conferences in Western UP to connect with Muslims

7th March 2023

Lucknow: With an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling BJP is planning to hold conferences in various parliamentary constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh starting from Muzaffarnagar next month to woo Muslim communities having an influence in the region.

The conferences on the theme “Sneh Milan: Ek Desh, Ek DNA, Sammelan” will try to drive home the point that everyone’s DNA is the same and together they can take the country forward.

“Muslim Jat, Muslim Rajput, Muslim Gurjar, and Muslim Tyagi communities have a sizeable number of voters in western Uttar Pradesh. In almost every Lok Sabha constituency of Western Uttar Pradesh, their population is on an average 2.5 lakh,” Uttar Pradesh BJP Minority Morcha president Kunwar Basit Ali told PTI.

“The party will try to connect with these voters by organising ‘Sneh Milan: Ek Desh, Ek DNA, Sammelan’ in various West Uttar Pradesh districts,” he said, adding these conferences would start after Eid next month and the first convention will be held in Muzaffarnagar.

He said Hindu leaders of Jat, Rajput, Gurjar, and Tyagi communities would be on stage at these conferences. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, State BJP President Bhupendra Chaudhary, Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Balyan, and State Minister Somendra Tomar will be prominently involved, he said.

“Holding these conferences is an attempt to establish a cordial relationship among Hindu, Muslim Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars, and Tyagi fraternities. Trying to convince them that we are all one, born in the same place. Everyone’s DNA is the same and together we have to take the country forward,” he said.

Muslim Jat, Muslim Rajput, Muslim Gurjar, and Muslim Tyagi fraternities in western Uttar Pradesh maintain cordial ties with people of these castes of Hindu society.

“There is no division of Hindus and Muslims among them. Meetings, panchayats and community feasts, etc. are all decided on the basis of the fraternity. Keeping this in mind, the BJP has intended to organise these conferences,” he said.

“It is true that whether Hindu or Muslim, everyone’s DNA is the same. We are talking on the basis of this DNA only. Our ancestors were the same. When this happens, it will strengthen the social fabric and they will connect with their leaders. Since the leaders belong to the BJP, the party will benefit from it,” he said.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Bahujan Samaj Party had won Nagina, Amroha, Bijnor and Saharanpur in western Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from this, Samajwadi Party candidates had won the Moradabad and Sambhal seats in western Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP is making a comprehensive strategy to win the Lok Sabha seats lost in the last polls and these conferences are also part of this strategy.

“Yes, of course we can call it a part of the strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Ali said.

Presently, out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the ruling BJP has 65 seats.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/bjp-to-hold-conferences-in-western-up-to-connect-with-muslims-2542092/

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Al Mahad Al Aali Al Islami: A seminary where modern subjects are also taught

JS Ifthekhar

7th March 2023

Hyderabad: It is a madrassa with a difference. It is not the run-of-the-mill seminary where just Islamic studies and the teachings of Quran and Hadith are imparted. Along with these basic subjects, the Al Mahad Al Aali Al Islami keeps its pupils abreast with the latest developments in different fields. They know all about micro-blogging, zero finance, digital currency, banking, genetic engineering, finance and stock exchange. They may not be thorough in these subjects but they have sufficient knowledge about them.

In its 23rd year of establishment, this institute of higher Islamic studies situated at Shaheen Nagar beyond Barkas, is breaking new grounds. In keeping with its motto of offering ‘deen with duniya’ (benefits of religion and the material world), Mahad is empowering its students with both religious and modern education. “We want our students to develop well rounded personalities and emerge as confident and responsible citizens,” says Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Mahad founder and also general secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Modern subjects are not taboo here. Students are even told about surrogacy and LGBT concepts, something strictly no-no in the conventional madrassas. A fine blend of Islamic and modern education is on display here. Interestingly, students here are encouraged to gain knowledge of other religions as well like Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and Sikhism. The sprawling library of Mahad is home to sacred books of other faiths also.

A strong votary of English language, Maulana Rahmani believes in adopting a holistic approach to knowledge and is all for acquisition of ‘Ilm-e-Nafe’ (useful education). He wants the madrassa pupils to have enough modern day knowledge to face the present day challenges.

Apart from the routine studies, Mahad holds workshops, extension lectures, curricular and co-curricular activities to help students attain intellectual and social growth. Unlike other madrassas, students here are encouraged to explore and clarify their own beliefs and values, speak for themselves and be in a position to respond to individual and institutional prejudice, both overt and covert, based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status. And in tune with the present times, the institute offers both on site and offline mode of learning.

This is not all. The Mahad authorities are doing their best to bridge the gap between Ulema and intellectuals. They plan to have dialogue with members of the judiciary and civil services. As such from time to time people from different walks of life are invited to the madrassa to see and interact with the Mahad students. At its 20th graduation ceremony held recently, invitees were pleasantly surprised by the activities of Mahad and the expertise gained by the students in different spheres of life. Maulana Salahuddin Saifi, a motivational speaker from Gujarat, who was the chief guest, was taken aback by the knowledge and skills of oratory displayed by the Mahad students.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/al-mahad-al-aali-al-islami-a-seminary-where-modern-subjects-are-also-taught-2542122/

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North America

 

Pentagon chief vows to continue US military presence in Iraq

07 March 2023

The Pentagon chief on Tuesday made an unannounced visit to Iraq where he announced Washington's intent to maintain the military presence that began with the US invasion in 2003 and continued for the 20 years since, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead.

"The United States will continue to strengthen and broaden our partnership in support of Iraqi security, stability, and sovereignty," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said upon arrival in Baghdad.

Austin is the most senior official in the Biden administration to visit the country. His visit comes as the Iraqi nation prepares to mark the 20 anniversary of the US-led invasion and occupation that resulted in years of bloodshed and instability in the Arab country.

On March 19, 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding Weapons of Mass Destruction, but no such weapons were ever discovered in Iraq.

More than one million Iraqis were killed as the result of the US-led invasion, and occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.

"I'm here to reaffirm the US-Iraq strategic partnership as we move toward a more secure, stable and sovereign Iraq," Austin tweeted as he landed in Baghdad.

Since the US-led forces ousted Saddam's regime, Iraq has been self-governed under a power-sharing system. The US withdrew its forces in 2011, claiming it had ended its combat mission in Iraq; however, some 2,500 US troops still remain inside the Arab country on what Washington describes as an “advisory” mission. Austin, who was a former head of all US military troops in the Middle East, claimed in 2011 that the US forces had achieved their military objectives in Iraq.

In the meantime, Successive Iraqi governments in the past two decades have forged close political, military and economic ties with the neighboring Tehran government, while Baghdad also maintains its relations with Washington.

The present Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani said his government's policy is to maintain balanced relations with regional and international governments based on shared interests and respect for sovereignty, and that "the stability of Iraq is the key to the security and stability of the region."

Both Washington and Tehran provided extensive support to Iraqi forces during their fight against the Daesh takfiri forces who seized huge swathes of northern and western Iraq in 2014.

Earlier this year, the Iraqi prime minister paid tribute to top Iranian anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi military comrade Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport three years ago.

Sudani described the targeted US killings of the two high commanders as “a brazen attack” on Iraq's sovereignty.

“The crime of assassinating the ‘Commanders of Victory’ and their companions represented a flagrant violation of Iraq’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty. The targeted killings of the commanders, who had a leading role in elimination of the scourge of terrorism, is an utter disrespect to bilateral agreements [signed between Baghdad and Washington],” Sudani said during a ceremony  in commemoration of the two legendary commanders held in the capital Baghdad on January 5, 2023.

Both General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

The two commanders were targeted along with their companions near Baghdad International Airport in a US assassination drone strike on January 3, 2020 in a cowardly terrorist attack authorized by then-US president Donald Trump.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/07/699460/US-Iraq-Austin-American-Troops

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Pakistan, US to work jointly against global, regional threats

Iftikhar A. Khan

March 8, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The United States and Pakistan have resolved to increase dialogue on regional and global threats, improving cooperation, preventing and countering violent extremism, and combating terrorism financing, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

In recent months, as threats from actors such as the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the militant Islamic State-Khurasan (IS-K) groups have intensified, Washington has made several overtures of cooperation with Islamabad. The US has supported Pakistan’s right to defend itself from terrorism, which Islamabad claims is originating from Afghan soil.

The US has also been critical of Afghan Taliban’s failure to ensure that their territory would never be used as a launchpad for international terrorist attacks.

A statement, issued at the conclusion of a two-day counterterrorism dialogue, said the talks provided an opportunity for both sides to discuss the counterterrorism landscape in Pakistan and the broader region, with a focus on areas where the two can better collaborate to counter regional and global threats.

The policy-focused meeting was chaired by the Christopher Landberg, acting coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department, and Syed Haider Shah, additional secretary for the UN and Economic Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Afghan delegation due in Islamabad to continue security talks, says Asif

The dialogue comes amid a spike in terrorism incidents in Pakistan, and Washington has repeatedly assured the country of help in dealing with the worsening law and order situation.

“These are among the very commitments that the Taliban have been unable or unwilling to fulfil to date,” Ned Price said about the Kabul regime at a briefing earlier this year.

Afghan delegation due Separately, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told a press conference on Tuesday that an Afghan delegation was expected in Pakistan soon to continue talks on various issues including, regional security and counter-terrorism measures, Dawn.com reported.

The statement comes more than a week after a high-level Pakistani delegation visited Kabul to meet with officials of the Afghan interim government to discuss a variety of issues from security to bilateral cooperation.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbours and should have cordial relations. The Islamic emirate of Afghanistan wants expansion of commercial and economic relations with Pakistan as such relations are in the interest of both countries,” the official statement from Afghanistan had said on Feb 22.

During his press talk in Islamabad today, Mr Asif emphasised that the Afghan territory must not be used by terrorists, especially in light of the agreement signed in Doha.

“We asked them to honour the accord and they agreed to our request,” the minister added.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1741026/pakistan-us-to-work-jointly-against-global-regional-threats

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Biden thanks Oman for help in releasing Americans detained in Iran, Yemen truce

07 March ,2023

US President Joe Biden thanked Oman on Tuesday for its role in securing the release of Americans detained in Iran and for Muscat’s help in achieving a truce in Yemen.

The White House said Biden and the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, had a call where the two reaffirmed the historical ties between the two countries.

They also discussed mutual efforts to forge a more prosperous, peaceful, and integrated Middle East region, the White House said in a readout of the call.

“President Biden thanked Sultan Haitham for his personal leadership and support for the UN-mediated truce in Yemen, which over the past year has witnessed its longest period of calm since the war began over a decade ago,” the statement read.

The internationally-recognized Yemeni government and the Houthi militia have been locked in a yearslong war after the Iran-backed group seized control of the capital Sanaa in 2014.

A UN-brokered truce that began on April 2 last year expired on October 2 after the Houthis refused to extend.

Separately, Biden welcomed Oman’s move to open its airspace to all civilian aircraft, including ones from and to Israel.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/07/Biden-thanks-Oman-for-help-in-releasing-Americans-detained-in-Iran-Yemen-truce

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US bemoans Beirut blast probe, calls for judicial reform in Lebanon

07 March ,2023

The US ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday called on Lebanese officials to allow an investigation into the catastrophic Port of Beirut explosion to proceed, lamenting the lack of progress.

Ambassador Michele Taylor’s comments came at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council.

“The victims of the Beirut explosion and their families have demanded justice, and those responsible for a disaster that killed more than 200 people and injured and displaced thousands more should be held accountable,” Taylor said.

The US and the international community have repeatedly called for a transparent investigation into the August 2020 blast, but Hezbollah and its allies in the country have blocked the judge tasked with the probe from carrying out his work.

The Iran-backed group has reportedly gone as far as threatening “to remove” the judge, Tarek Bitar.

Bitar has received death threats, been issued a travel ban by Lebanese courts, and had charges filed against him for efforts to question sitting and former officials.

“In the absence of accountability in Lebanon, victims of the blast will continue to call for alternative paths to justice. One way or another, they deserve a peaceful path to justice,” the US ambassador said on Tuesday.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/07/US-bemoans-Beirut-blast-probe-calls-for-judicial-reform-in-Lebanon

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Lawyers of Abraaj’s Naqvi says fresh evidence may block US extradition

08 March ,2023

Lawyers for Abraaj Group’s Arif Naqvi, the founder of what was once the Middle East’s largest private equity fund, said there was “fresh evidence” that could overturn the UK’s decision to extradite him to the US to face fraud and racketeering charges.

There is new evidence on “serious deterioration in the detention facility, where he would be housed in the US,” his lawyer argued in a London court on Tuesday. Naqvi is also at risk of suicide if held in those conditions, he said.

Naqvi is seeking the UK High Court’s permission to appeal a 2021 court decision that said he should be sent to the US to face criminal charges. He is accused by prosecutors of hiding a liquidity crisis at his firm, while siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars for his family.

Lawyers for the US countered that any changes to his detention would not materially alter the his conditions of stay. Naqvi is attempting to raise new arguments “smuggled under the guise of updating evidence, they said.

Pakistan-born Naqvi has consistently denied the charges. His lawyer said at an earlier hearing that he has an “unshakable conviction is that he is entirely innocent of these allegations.

Founded in 2002 Abraaj grew to become one of the world’s most influential emerging-market investors but collapsed after investigations into alleged mismanagement of money in its health-care fund. Naqvi himself was forced to surrender control after it was revealed that the firm’s main revenues hadn’t covered operating costs for years.

By the time of its collapse in 2018, Abraaj owed creditors over $1 billion. He faces as many as 30 years in prison in the US.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/03/08/Lawyers-of-Abraaj-s-Naqvi-says-fresh-evidence-may-block-US-extradition-

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South Asia

 

EU Sanctions Two Acting Ministers of Afghan Interim Government

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 8, 2023

The European Union Council announced on Tuesday it had sanctioned nine individuals and three entities, including two Taliban Ministers allegedly accused of committing serious human rights violations and abuses.

According to EU Council, two acting Taliban ministers for Higher Education, Neda Mohammad Nadim, and for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, who are behind the decrees banning women from higher education and gender-segregated practices in public spaces, are among the nine sanctioned individuals.

The announcement comes right before March 8, which marks International Women’s Day. while announcing the sanctions list, Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU, said the time has come to move from words to action, and punish those individuals who have been oppressing women wherever they are.

“The listed individuals and entities will now be subject to an asset freeze in the EU and will be subject to a travel ban to the EU. Moreover, persons and entities in the EU will be prohibited from making funds available, either directly or indirectly, to those listed,” the EU said in a statement.

Last year, the Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan announced a complete ban on female students’ university education, which prompted massive reactions from the international community. Ever since then, the UN agencies, foreign governments, and the people of Afghanistan have been calling on the Islamic Emirate authorities to remove the bans, nothing has changed for the better. Moreover, the Taliban officials describe it as a ‘temporary ban’.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/eu-sanctions-two-acting-ministers-of-afghan-interim-government/

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Afghan Interim Govt Meets Every Condition for Recognition, Says FM Muttaqi

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 7, 2023

Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said that the Taliban government meets every condition for recognition, and it is up to the international community to make a decision.

Amir Kham Muttaqi in an interview with BBC said that no single government in the world is not recognized due to the closure of schools or the existing conditions set by the world on the Taliban-run administration.

“We can see dictatorial, Kingdom, Republican, and Emirate governments being recognized by the international community. Is there a single regime in the world that is not recognized based on the conditions the world has put in place on the Taliban regime?” Muttaqi said.

He further added, that out of ten issues having been discussed by the foreign governments, only girls’ education has not been resolved, and this is a great achievement for the current regime.

In response to the question regarding the ban on female students’ education, Muttaqi did not comment on whether the group will lift the ban or not.  

In his remarks, Muttaqi highlighted that major challenges including drug and security issues have been resolved, there are no cross-border issues with neighboring countries, and Afghani is the only stable currency in the region.

Furthermore, Muttaqi said that Afghanistan should not be compared to the first world countries, and despite all the odds, the achievements of the past year and a half definitely outweigh the drawbacks.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-interim-govt-meets-every-condition-for-recognition-says-fm-muttaqi/

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Afghan territory must not be used for terrorist activities: India and 5 central Asian countries

Mar 7, 2023

NEW DELHI: India and five central Asian countries on Tuesday asserted that Afghanistan's soil must not be used for any terrorist activities and pressed for formation of a "truly inclusive" political structure in Kabul that respects rights of all Afghans including women.

The situation in the war-ravaged country came up for extensive deliberations at the first meeting of the India-Central Asia joint working group on Afghanistan that took place in Delhi.

A joint statement said the meeting emphasized the importance of formation of a "truly inclusive and representative political structure" that respects the rights of all Afghans and ensures equal rights of women, girls and members of minority groups, including access to education.

Last December, India joined several other leading countries in criticising the Taliban's decision to ban university education for women in Afghanistan,

It said the officials at the deliberations discussed regional threats of terrorism, extremism, radicalisation and drug trafficking and also deliberated on the possibilities to coordinate efforts to counter these threats.

It said they emphasised that the "territory of Afghanistan should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist acts and reaffirmed that no terrorist organizations including those designated by the UNSC resolution 1267 should be provided sanctuary or allowed to use the territory of Afghanistan".

Besides host India, the meeting was attended by special envoys or senior officials of the Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Country representatives of the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and UN World Food Programme (UNWFP) also participated in the meeting.

The joint statement said the officials exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan, including the political, security and the humanitarian aspects.

"While emphasising the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs, the sides reiterated support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan," it said.

It said the country representative of the UNWFP in Afghanistan briefed the participants on the India-UNWFP partnership to deliver foodgrain assistance to Afghan people and made a presentation on the current humanitarian situation, including the aid requirements for the year ahead.

India announced the supply of 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat assistance to Afghanistan in partnership with UNWFP through Chabahar Port. the statement said.

"The sides took note of the current humanitarian situation and agreed to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people," the statement said.

It said the country representative of the UNODC in Afghanistan highlighted the partnership of India and UNODC in fighting the menace of narcotics in Afghanistan and thanked New Delhi for "providing humanitarian aid for the Afghan drug user population."

"Upon their request, India offered capacity building training courses for the relevant stakeholders/partner agencies of UNODC and the relevant officials/stakeholders of Central Asian Republics in the field of countering illegal drug trafficking," the statement said.

It said the participants thanked India for holding the first Joint Working Group Meeting on Afghanistan at senior officials level and agreed to continue consultations in this format on a regular basis.

India has not yet recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and has been pitching for the formation of a truly inclusive government in Kabul besides insisting that Afghan soil must not be used for any terrorist activities against any country.

India has been pitching for providing unimpeded humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country.

In June last year, India re-established its diplomatic presence in Kabul by deploying a "technical team" in its embassy in the Afghan capital.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/afghan-territory-must-not-be-used-for-terrorist-activities-india-and-5-central-asian-countries/articleshow/98481977.cms

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17 killed, over 100 injured in explosion at crowded Dhaka market

Mar 7, 2023

DHAKA: At least 17 people were killed and over 100 injured in an explosion at a building in Bangladesh's Dhaka, local media reported.

Five firefighting units were rushed to the spot after the blast, which occurred around 4:50 pm (local time), the bdnews24 news portal reported, citing the fire service control room.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known but fatal building fires and explosions are common in Bangladesh, where safety enforcement is often lax.

The blast shook the fourth and fifth floors of a seven-storey building in Gulistan, a major hub for wholesale goods in the capital Dhaka, shortly before 5 pm local time (1100 GMT).

The building has several stores for sanitary products on the bottom floor and a branch of BRAC Bank was located in the building adjacent to it.

The blast shattered the glass walls of the bank and also damaged a bus standing on the opposite side of the road, reports said.

No fire broke out in the building but more than 150 firefighters were at the site to assist in rescue efforts, a fire services spokesperson said.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/7-killed-70-injured-in-explosion-at-crowded-dhaka-market/articleshow/98479732.cms

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Pakistan, six other nations urge Western states to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets

March 8, 2023

TASHKENT: Russia and six nations bordering Afghanistan have set up a club to discuss ways to achieve long-term peace in the war-torn nation, with diplomats at the inaugural meeting on Tuesday calling for a freeze on Afghan central bank assets to be lifted.

Special representatives from Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan convened in Tashkent and plan to meet regularly to discuss issues facing Afghanistan, Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said.

The group urged Western nations to lift the freeze on the Afghan central bank’s assets, Uzbek special representative Ismatilla Ergashev said.

“The representatives of these countries emphasised that the return of the money of the Central Bank of Afghanistan should be used primarily to pay the salaries of… school teachers and doctors, and at the same time to support the part of the population which is in a difficult situation,” he told a briefing.

“They also emphasised that nearly 25 million people in Afghanistan are starving and deprived of food.”

According to Khaama Press, the meeting was held in the absence of the Taliban representatives in Tashkent. Besides, several neighbouring countries have officially handed over the Afghan Embassies to the Taliban diplomats, but the group is still not invited to such meetings on regional levels.

Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate said it welcomes any meeting which benefits Afghanistan: “All meetings held for cooperation and assistance with Afghanistan in the field of humanitarian issues, and for strengthening the government, and in all other areas which are effective for the country”, Tolo news reported.

Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries have repeatedly called on the Islamic Emirate authorities to respect human rights, lift the restrictions on women and girls attending education, and form an all-inclusive government so that everyone can see them represented in the regime.

Walif Frozan — an international relations analyst says, “In such regional competition, Afghanistan is used as a strategic location and every country tries to take advantage of it for its side.”

The United States froze some $7 billion in central bank assets after the Afghan government was toppled by Taliban forces in 2021, with a further $2bn frozen in European banks.

Washington has said that some of the funds would go to a foundation to benefit ordinary Afghans.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1741034/pakistan-six-other-nations-urge-western-states-to-unfreeze-afghanistans-assets

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Bangladesh criticized for failing to protect Ahmadiyya Muslims

March 07, 2023

Bangladesh’s largest religious minority forum has criticized the ruling Awami League government for failing to protect Ahmadi Muslims from mob attacks, accusing it of tolerating Islamic radicals and making the country an increasingly dangerous place for minorities.

Islamic radical elements within the government allow “compromise with extremism and fanatics” and it leads to saddening communal violence that pushes the society “backward,” said Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council in a press statement.

The council reacted after hundreds of Sunni Muslims attacked minority Ahmadiyya Muslims in the Panchagarh district of northern Bangladesh on March 3.

The Ahmadiyya sect which originated in 19th-century British India is seen as a heretic sect by mainstream Sunni Muslims, a majority in South Asia. 

At least two Ahmadiyya people died, 50 people were injured and 50 houses were burnt down allegedly after the mob attempted to stop an annual Ahmadiyya religious gathering in the town, close to the Indian border. The government deployed hundreds of police and border guards to quell violence.  

Neem Chandra Bhowmik, a Hindu and a president of the council, told UCA News that such attacks against minorities continue because the government has failed to ensure security and religious freedom for all amid threats of extremism.

“Such communal incidents are happening because the government is not able to suppress the extremism that lurks in the government. We want freedom of every citizen to practice their religion, freedom of expression for everyone but the government is failing to ensure it,” Bhowmik said on March 7.

He alleged that ethnic and religious minorities continue to face abuses and violence in Bangladesh as justice was not done for a series of communal attacks in the past.

Shafiq Ahmad, 41, an Ahmadiyya  Muslim and primary school teacher said that he lost his house and valuables worth 50,000 Taka (US$480) in the attack.

Ahmad said that his community has been attacked again because past cases of violence against them have not seen justice.

He said since the attack, Ahmadiyya people including women and children have been passing through hard times under the open sky and living in fear, without any relief measures.

“We demand that the government guarantees our religious freedom, to observe our religious ceremonies. Those who attacked us should be prosecuted. We do not want anything else,” Ahmad told UCA News.

In 2019, Ahmadiyya people in the same town came under attack from Sunni Muslims, leaving at least 25 injured.

Ahmadiyya sect is one of the 73 sects of Islam and it has about 20 million members in over 200 countries, according to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat of Canada.

Ahmadiyya people face attacks in several countries. In Pakistan, Ahmadiyya Muslims were declared “non-Muslims” by the state in 1984.

Islamic radicals in Bangladesh have repeatedly demanded Ahmadiyya sect be declared non-Muslim.

There were several mob attacks on Ahmadiyya gatherings and mosques over the past decades in Bangladesh.

Since 2013, when Bangladesh saw a rise in Islamic militancy, armed extremists murdered atheists, foreigners, liberal Muslims, and religious minorities including the Ahmadiyya sect before a heavy anti-militancy crackdown was launched.

Ahmadiyya Muslims in present-day Bangladesh trace their origins to the 1900s, when the country was part of British India, according to Human Rights Watch. There are roughly 100,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims in Bangladesh today. 

A police official said since the violence 10 cases have been filed and at least 130 people have been arrested.

“The situation in the district is currently normal and under the control of police and law enforcement officers. Police and joint forces are working to nab more culprits,” S. M. Sirajul Huda, chief of Panchagarh district police told UCA News.

Human rights organization, Article 19, deplored the violence against the Ahmadiyya people and called on the government to ensure religious freedom for all as guaranteed in the country’s constitution. 

Source: UCA News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/bangladesh-criticized-for-failing-to-protect-ahmadiyya-muslims/100590

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Fresh $40 Million Cash Arrives Kabul, DAB to Auction $16 Million on Wednesday

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 7, 2023

Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) on Tuesday announced that a $40 million cash aid package had reached Kabul, and has been transferred to a commercial bank.

Afghanistan’s central bank welcomed the aid, as part of the United Nation’s humanitarian cash aid, and called on the international community for more cooperation across fields.

According to the central bank, this is the 60th aid package that has been dispatched to Afghanistan. Since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, the international community’s cash aid has reached nearly $2 billion.

The central bank has stated that the government appreciates the international community’s support in shipping cash into the country aimed at helping vulnerable families during these difficult times. The central bank is trying its best to strengthen private banking and other sectors respectively. 

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Central Bank will auction $16 million on Wednesday, as part of the continuous efforts to stabilize Afghani against foreign currencies in the local markets.

The winners of the auction are obliged to liquidate their accounts by the end of the day. As per the announcement, partial settlement of transactions is not allowed and the winners of the auction are obliged to transfer the payable amount to the central bank in cash within a certain time.

Despite the massive criticisms the ruling regime receives from the people of Afghanistan and the international community regarding the strict policies, the de facto authorities have been able to manage the economy and keep the value of the local currency stable. This positive sign highlights that efforts are underway to find solutions to the financial and economic challenges the country is currently faced with.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/fresh-40-million-cash-arrives-kabul-dab-to-auction-16-million-on-wednesday/

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Southeast Asia

 

Selangor Sultan: Key administrators of Islamic religious institutions must be above politics

07-03- 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has decreed that key administrators of Islamic religious institutions must comprise of scholars and professionals who are free of influence from political parties.

His Majesty said that the National Council for Islamic Affairs’ role was to ensure those appointed could carry out their duties in accordance with the Al-Quran and the Sunnah.

“Islam should be placed highest, higher that any competition that could cause conflict and disunity among the ummah,” His Majesty in his capacity as council chairman said in conjunction with the council’s 69th meeting at Istana Melawati, Putrajaya on Monday.

Sultan Sharafuddin also thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on behalf of the Council of Malay Rulers for appointing a non-politician as Religious Affairs Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The Sultan said it would ensure the principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Federal Constitution in respect to the administration of Islam between the Executive and the Malay Rulers, in accordance with the constitutional monarchy system practised by the country.

“With the appointment of the new Religious Affairs Minister, it is hoped that cooperation between federal and states in matters of administering Islam will grow closer in line with the teachings of the Al-Quran and Sunnah,” the Sultan said.

His Majesty reiterated that the Council of Malay Rulers were above party politics, as they served as trustees who commanded the fealty of their people.

The Sultan also expressed hope that the council meeting today would be a watershed moment to return the role of administering Islam to those who were worthy.

“I have great hopes that all parties will respect the provision of the Federal Constitution that ensures the rights and powers of the Malay Rulers.

“I am confident that with this new beginning, the Council of Malay Rulers as the voice of the Rulers in Malaysia can play their necessary roles to develop Islam’s administration at the federal level and to foster closer ties with the states,” the Sultan said.

The Sultan of Selangor also wished that all Malaysians and ministers would focus efforts to resolve various public issues and restore prosperity to the country.

“I urge all parties to support efforts to strengthen Islam and the council and to place the administration of Islamic institutions at the federal level on the right track.

“Representatives in every state should present suggestions that have been implemented at state level that should be shared for the betterment of our country and fellow Muslims,” His Majesty said.

The Sultan also advised all council members to respect the views of states and to preserve good relations to ensure that the administration of Islam in the country would progress smoothly.

Source: The Sun Daily

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https://www.thesundaily.my/local/selangor-sultan-key-administrators-of-islamic-religious-institutions-must-be-above-politics-JH10719563

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PAS MP calls on Malaysian government to 'control' number of concerts by foreign artistes like Blackpink

Najmi Syahiran Mamat

08 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: An opposition lawmaker from the Islamist party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) has urged the Malaysian government to “control” the increasing number of concerts and performances held by foreign artistes - such as the Korean girl group Blackpink - in the country.

Citing the example of the girl group’s recent concert in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, Mr Nurul Amin Hamid told parliament on Tuesday (Mar 7) that the concert was against the values of the country’s Muslim-majority population.

“Can’t the government control the organising of such foreign concerts, which are increasingly being given space in our country?” he asked during the ninth day of the debate session on the Supply Bill at the policy level in parliament.

The Padang Terap Member of Parliament said that such concerts had caused “a bit of unease” among Muslims in the country.

“I would like to raise the concern of the Muslim community in the country about the concerts and performances from foreign artistes that are increasingly being held in the country,” he said in parliament.

“Among them are artistes such as Westlife, OneRepublic, Mamamoo, Jay Chou, and the most recent, the K-pop group Blackpink.”

Commenting on the “flood" of concertgoers at Blackpink’s recent performance, Mr Nurul Amin said that it should not have been allowed in light of the major floods affecting the states of Johor, Pahang and Melaka in Peninsular Malaysia.

Local media reported that Blackpink’s concert at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday drew more than 60,000 fans.

This is not the first time that the Islamist party has made calls to oppose concerts by international performers held in Malaysia.

According to Free Malaysia Today, the PAS youth wing had previously called on the government to cancel concerts featuring international artistes last August.

PAS youth wing chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari’s statement on Facebook was issued less than 24 hours after the American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish held her concert at Bukit Jalil National Stadium last year.

It also warned of nationwide protests, saying that such events encourage “hedonism”, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Source: Channel News Asia

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/malaysia-islamic-party-pas-control-international-foreign-concerts-kpop-blackpink-3333316

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Indonesia freezes accounts linked to taxman amid public anger over disproportionate wealth

2023.03.07

Indonesian authorities have frozen dozens of bank accounts with recorded transactions totaling U.S. $32.5 million linked to a mid-level tax official, as part of an investigation into his wealth amid a public outcry over his family’s lavish lifestyles.

The accumulated wealth of Rafael Alun Trisambodo, a former taxation official at the Finance Ministry, came under scrutiny after police arrested his high-living son last month for allegedly assaulting a teenager and putting him into a coma, in a case that has attracted nationwide attention.

The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) has blocked 40 accounts connected to Rafael, his family and other parties involved, said the agency’s head, Ivan Yustiavandana.

“The value of transactions made using these accounts between 2019 and 2023 is about 500 billion rupiah U.S. $32.5 million),” Ivan told BenarNews.

The agency had also received complaints from the public that a tax consultant linked to Rafael had fled abroad, Ivan said. He also said there were suspicions that two former tax employees worked for the consultant.

Rafael’s son, 20-year-old Mario Dandy Satriyo, allegedly attacked the teenage son of a member of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, Nahdlatul Ulama, on Feb. 20.

The teen, Cristalino David Ozora, is being treated in a hospital for head injuries. On Tuesday, he was beginning to regain consciousness, his father said via posts on social media.

Dandy flaunted images of his luxury cars and motorcycles via social media, in shows of wealth that outraged an Indonesian public fed up with officials’ perceived excesses in a country where tax evasion is rampant and many people live in poverty.

The video in which Dandy was shown allegedly beating and kicking the 17-year-old circulated widely online.

Rafael, who is a third-level official at the tax office, had assets worth 56 billion rupiah, or about $4 million, according to his wealth declaration. In Indonesia, high-ranking civil servants receive a monthly salary of about $2,500 including benefits.

But the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said that some of his assets, including a high-end Jeep Wrangler and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, were not declared because they were not under his name.

Last week, the KPK summoned Rafael for clarification about his wealth and then opened an investigation into his case.

The anti-graft body has also cooperated with the PPATK to trace his financial activity.

The case has raised questions among the public about the integrity of the tax office, which has been trying to improve its image and performance in recent years.

After widespread public condemnation, the Finance Ministry removed Rafael from his post as the head of general affairs at a South Jakarta tax office.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s finance minister, has said she will take firm action against subordinates found to have amassed ill-gained wealth, and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies. She has also urged the ministry’s employees to comply with the code of ethics and to report their wealth accurately and transparently.

Transparency International’s annual report in January showed that Indonesia fell 14 spots to rank 110th on the group’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which measures perceptions of public sector corruption.

Source: Benar News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/taxman-investigated-03072023050305.html

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Mideast

 

Iran Starts Mass Production of High-Velocity Ballistic Missile Able to Smash Moving Naval Targets

2023-March-7

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Maj. Gen. Baqeri said Iran is now capable of producing ballistic missiles destroying moving marine targets at high speeds.

“This missile has been successfully tested and its mass production has started,” he added.

“After production of this missile, Iran will be among the three countries possessing the [technical] know-how to make such missiles,” the top general stated.

He noted that the new ballistic missile can hit its target with a speed of Mach 8 and with a final range of 1,500 kilometers and is capable of delivering precision strikes.

“From now on, invading airplane carriers and [foreign] fleet will not be safe at a distance of 1,500 kilometers of our shores and this is an achievement reached by our elite youths,” Baqeri continued.

Back in November, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the country has manufactured a hypersonic ballistic missile which enjoys advanced technologies to penetrate all types of advanced air defense systems.

The top commander stated that the missile is very fast and able to maneuver both in the space and outer space.

"The hypersonic missile can travel at Mach 12-13 and is capable of exoatmospheric maneuvering," he remarked, adding the projectile is outfitted with an engine that starts within 500 kilometers (310 miles) or a shorter distance of the target's location to enable its maneuverability.

The Islamic Republic’s military doctrine holds that the country’s armed capability solely serves defensive purposes.

Military comanders say Iran stands among the world's top states manufacturing drones and precision-striking missiles, and add different types of domestically-built military equipment are favored by world powers.

Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made substantial headway in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in the weaponry sphere.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011216000340/Iran-Sars-Mass-Prdcin-f-High-Velciy-Ballisic-Missile-Able-Smash-Mving

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Israel’s Lapid slams ‘Jewish terrorists’ after settler attack on Palestinian town

Abdelraouf Arnaout

07.03.2023

JERUSALEM

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid on Tuesday termed a new settler attack on the Palestinian town of Huwara as “criminal violence by Jewish terrorists.”

Four Palestinians, including a child, were hurt on Monday when dozens of Israeli settlers attacked the town, south of Nablus. Damage was also reported in the attack.

"Another night of criminal violence by Jewish terrorists in Huwara, Nablus," Lapid said. "These people do not represent us. They are not part of us."

"The [Bezalel] Smotrich and [Itamar] Ben Gvir militias are the real anarchists. They must be arrested and prosecuted," he added, in reference to the finance and national security ministers.

Monday’s attack came a few days after Israeli settlers savagely attacked the same town on Feb. 26, burning several Palestinian homes and vehicles. A Palestinian was also killed.

The settler violence followed the killing of two Israelis in a shooting in the town.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israel-s-lapid-slams-jewish-terrorists-after-settler-attack-on-palestinian-town/2839580

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Iran accuses school poisoning suspects of links to foreign media, riots

08 March ,2023

Iran arrested several people it said were linked to a wave of school poisonings and accused some of connections to “foreign-based dissident media” and recent riots, according to an Interior Ministry statement shared by state media on Tuesday.

Over 1,000 girls have fallen ill after being poisoned since November, according to state media and officials, with some politicians blaming religious groups opposed to girls’ education.

“Three members of a team of four people arrested have a history of being involved in recent riots and their connection to foreign-based dissident media has been ascertained,” the statement said without elaborating.

The statement added that authorities arrested several people in six provinces in relation to school poisoning.

On Monday, Iran’s supreme leader said that poisoning schoolgirls was an “unforgivable” crime that should be punished by death if deliberate, amid public anger over a wave of suspected attacks in schools.

The Interior Ministry said one of the arrested individuals had transferred irritants to a school through their own child and shared footage of the aftermath with what the government called “hostile media.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/08/Iran-accuses-school-poisoning-suspects-of-links-to-foreign-media-riots

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Senior Official: Several Suspects Arrested in Schoolgirl Poisonings Case

2023-March-7

"Based on the intelligence and research measures of the intelligence agencies, a number of people have been detained in five provinces and the relevant agencies are conducting a full investigation," Mirahmadi stated.

"As soon as clear results are obtained, [the public] will be notified," he added.

These are the first arrests announced by Tehran over the schoolgirl poisonings case.

Hundreds of cases of respiratory distress have been reported in the past months among Iranian schoolgirls in several cities, with some needing hospital treatment. In most cases, students suffered respiratory problems, nausea, fatigue and dizziness.

Mohammad Hassan Asafari, a member of the parliamentary fact-finding committee, has confirmed that around 230 schools in 25 out of Iran’s 31 provinces have been affected, and that more than 5,000 schoolgirls and boys have been poisoned.

On Monday, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called on Iranian officials to seriously investigate the case, and urged authorities to hand the perpetrators behind the heinous crime the severest punishment possible.

The Leader described the poison attacks affecting hundreds of girls at schools across several cities in Iran as "a major and unforgivable crime".

"If it is proved that the students were poisoned, the perpetrators of this crime should be severely punished," he underlined.

The Supreme Leader underscored that “no amnesty” will be offered to such people.

Denouncing the mysterious poisoning cases across Iran as a "crime and an inhumane act" committed by the enemies, President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi has called for accurate and timely information on the incidents.

Iran's president warned on Sunday that the act is “another link in the chain of the enemy’s plots” which has been carried out to create chaos in the country, manipulate public opinion, and instill fear among the students.

The chief executive said the enemy, as part of a psychological war, is “seeking to create stress and anxiety among students and parents so that chaos is formed”.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011216000846/Senir-Official-Several-Sspecs-Arresed-in-Schlgirl-Pisnings-Case

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FM Underlines Iran's Determination to Play Active Role in SCO

2023-March-7

Amir Abdollahian made the remarks during a meeting with SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming, who is currently in Tehran at the head of a delegation.

The foreign minister affirmed Tehran's "serious determination" to play an active role in the SCO, which is in the process of accepting Iran's full membership.

"The Islamic Republic enjoys a host of technical, industrial, technological, tourism, cultural and other capacities, which it can employ towards realization of the organization's goals," the official noted.

The top diplomat said Tehran believes the SCO can play an "important role in the new international security and economic arrangements", adding, "Development of economic cooperation [among the body's members] can contribute to sustainable security."

He appreciated the efforts made by the SCO's secretary-general and secretariat to facilitate Iran's membership in the organization.

Zhang, for his part, said it was clear from the start that Iran takes a special approach to the SCO membership.

"There is no doubt that Iran's presence [in the body], as one of the powerful and influential countries in the region and the world, can be an important step towards realization of the organization's goals and help promote Tehran's relations with the member states," the SCO secretary-general added.

He hoped that the organization's next summit, which is slated to be held in India, would help promote Iran's role within the organization and develop bilateral interactions, especially in economic, technical, industrial, transit, and energy fields.

"We are certain that Iran's experience in the face of international challenges can prove very beneficial for the organization's members," Zhang concluded.

The SCO was founded by China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in 2001, and currently forms the world's biggest regional market with eight official and four observer members.

The organization accounts for 40 percent of the world's population and 28 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011216000255/FM-Underlines-Iran's-Deerminain-Play-Acive-Rle-in-SCO

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Turkey earthquake survivors reconsider election loyalty to President Erdogan

08 March ,2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could have relied on strong voter backing from Cigdemtepe and other villages and towns across southeast Turkey in the past, but a huge earthquake and a slow rescue response has made once loyal support more uncertain.

There are signs his AK Party (AKP) is increasingly aware that it cannot take past votes for granted, as officials talk of accelerating rebuilding plans before elections in May, which may prove the toughest of Erdogan’s more than two decades in power.

“This whole village has voted AKP even though no one knows why,” said a truck driver in Cigdemtepe, which is perched above cotton and garlic fields in Kahramanmaras province, a region where whole urban centers were destroyed.

“The earthquake definitely changes our opinion because the first responders and tents were very late to arrive,” he said.

How big a challenge Erdogan faces is difficult to determine, given the lack of polling in the region. In addition, the opposition has dithered before finally agreeing on a candidate to challenge Erdogan, unsettling voters, while experts say those affected by the quake could swiftly change their minds.

But Reuters interviews with nearly 30 residents in the past week in Kahramanmaras, Adiyaman and Gaziantep - provinces where white tents dot the landscape of buckling or collapsed buildings - suggest political loyalties, even among once diehard Erdogan backers, are shifting.

“My mind is completely changed,” said a student in rural Kahramanmaras, who like others was reluctant to give their name. “We breathe AKP here, but this earthquake changed everything for us. These people don’t know what they are doing.”

The deadliest disaster in Turkey’s modern history devastated cities and towns and killed tens of thousands of people a month ago, mostly in a conservative stronghold that has heavily backed Erdogan and the AKP for two decades.

While only a tiny sample of the 14 million people affected by the earthquakes in southeastern Turkey, the opinions of those interviewed shed light on how these mostly rural and working class voters could affect presidential and parliamentary polls.

Many resented years of permissive AKP construction policies that allowed up to eight-story concrete apartments to be built - thousands of which were destroyed in the tremors.

Some were irked by what they saw as insensitive statements by political leaders including Erdogan, who asked for forgiveness last week for a response to the earthquake that could have been faster, while some others ridiculed the government’s plan to rebuild the region in just a year.

But people also struggled to imagine voting for opposition parties and their newly-named candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

The AKP has ruled Turkey with little serious electoral challenge since 2002, and party insiders told Reuters they are aware of the anger among their voter base in the southeast but confident a combination of swift rebuilding and a confused opposition will deliver victory.

One party official said they would “re-direct” residents’ focus to efforts to rebuild and stress no one but Erdogan could do this quickly. Another said they would showcase reconstruction in an area where 227,000 buildings collapsed or face demolition.

Pollsters have mostly avoided surveying those in the disaster zone, while national surveys found the AKP has maintained its support. They point to a tight election contest despite a cost-of-living crisis that had gripped Turks long before the magnitude 7.8 quake and aftershocks brought more criticism of the government.

Unconvincing opposition

The centrist opposition bloc finally on Monday named former civil servant Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) since 2010, as its candidate.

The region voted 65 percent or more for the AKP and its nationalist ally the MHP in the last election in 2018. Many residents told Reuters that opposition parties were late to name a candidate and that they would only support one with nationalist roots, such as Ankara mayor Mansur Yavas - who is slated to be one of Kilicdaroglu’s vice presidents should he win.

One construction materials trader in Adiyaman, a city of 650,000 whose downtown is a wasteland of crumbled concrete, laughed at the idea of Kilicdaroglu as president.

Umur, a young accountant in the city, said he intended to cast his first-ever ballot for the opposition but only if the candidate was “a low-profile and effective person like Yavas.”

‘Not wise to hold elections’

Officials briefly floated the idea of delaying elections - before backtracking and pressing ahead with a date of May 14, a decision some find hard to comprehend.

“It is not wise to hold elections in May. People hurt, we still hurt,” said Mahmut, an insurance worker in the town of Besni, where after the quake he said he could hear his cousins under the rubble for two days before their voices stopped.

Erdogan’s request for forgiveness had been poorly received, he said, adding he normally votes for the MHP.

“There are many who want to vote for the opposition...and I could too, but I wouldn’t vote for Kilicdaroglu because he has not won a single election,” he said.

Mehmet, 52, a construction subcontractor living with his wife and child in a tent in Adiyaman, said “everyone” votes for Erdogan as president and he would too, but he would punish the AKP party by voting for the MHP.

Mehmet Ali Kulat, chairman of MAK polling company, said based on previous earthquakes survivors tend to blame the government at first, then later back whomever rebuilds homes.

There are only about 55 buildings in Igdeli, where villagers erected their own tents and intend to rebuild themselves.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/08/Turkey-earthquake-survivors-reconsider-election-loyalty-to-President-Erdogan-

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Turkey earthquake damage set to exceed $100 billion: UN agency

Mar 7, 2023

GENEVA: Damage caused by a devastating earthquake in Turkey will exceed $100 billion, a U.N. Development Programme official told a press briefing on Tuesday.

"It's clear from the calculations being done to date that the damage figure presented by the government and supported by ... international partners would be in excess of $100 billion," said the UNDP's Louisa Vinton, by video link from Gaziantep.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/turkey-earthquake-damage-set-to-exceed-100-billion-un-agency/articleshow/98475864.cms

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Israeli troops kill at least six, wound 11 others during raid in West Bank’s Jenin

07 March ,2023

Israeli forces on Tuesday raided a refugee camp in the volatile West Bank city of Jenin, killing at least six Palestinians, including a gunman suspected of shooting two brothers from a Jewish settlement near the village of Huwara last week.

Footage circulating on social media showed helicopters over a column of military vehicles entering Jenin, one of the major centers of armed Palestinian factions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the individual suspected of the killings in the Jewish settlement, which triggered a violent rampage by settlers against the nearby Palestinian village of Huwara, had been killed by Israeli forces operating “surgically in the heart of the murderers’ den” on Tuesday.

The Israeli military identified him as Abdel-Fattah Kharusha, a member of the group Hamas, and said his two sons had been arrested in a raid at the same time on the city of Nablus, another center of militant activity in the West Bank.

Last week, settlers torched dozens of cars and houses in Huwara after two brothers were shot by a presumed Palestinian gunman as they sat in their car at a checkpoint nearby.

The rampage, described as a “pogrom” by a senior Israeli commander, triggered worldwide outrage and condemnation, which was increased when ultra-nationalist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has responsibility for aspects of the West Bank administration, said Huwara should be “erased.” Smotrich later offered a partial retraction.

At least 16 Palestinians were wounded in Tuesday’s gun battle, which broke out after Israeli forces surrounded a house in the camp, using shoulder-fired missiles against fighters inside, who returned fire.

At the same time, others in the camp threw stones and explosive devices against the soldiers.

Tuesday’s operation comes after a major reinforcement of Israeli forces in the West Bank following the violence in Huwara, which sits near a major road junction where settlers and Palestinians have frequently clashed.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken overnight reiterated calls for both sides to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, and the violence is also expected to be raised by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when he visits Israel this week.

However, there has been no sign of any let up in the violence, ahead of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover festival.

More Huwara violence

Overnight on Monday, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the village.

Israeli army and border police forces dispersed crowds of what the military described as “a number of violent rioters” in Huwara.

Videos shared on social media showed a group of black-clad youths attacking a Palestinian car before its driver manages to pull away.

“My wife was sitting in the back and she hugged our daughter to cover her,” said Omar Khalifa, who had just finished shopping at a supermarket and had got into the car with his family when the assault took place.

“We could have lost her, there was real danger to our lives.”

Other footage appeared to show Israeli soldiers dancing together with Jewish settlers in the town on what was the Jewish festival of Purim.

“Huwara has been conquered, gentlemen!” a voice is heard saying in Hebrew.

The military did not address a question about the footage of soldiers dancing with settlers when it responded to a request for information on the incident. Nor did it immediately respond to a Reuters query on whether there had been any arrests.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/07/Israeli-troops-kill-at-least-six-wound-11-others-during-raid-in-West-Bank-s-Jenin

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Israeli military reservists refuse to return to service in protest at new far-right government

March 07, 2023

LONDON: Israel’s military reservists are increasingly refusing to return to service in protest at the country’s new far-right government, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Reservists play an important role in the Israeli military and are summoned to serve for as many as 60 days a year.

All but three of the 40 reservist pilots in Israel’s elite 69 Squadron said that they would not report for training on Sunday, arguing they will not serve a “dictatorial regime,” The Guardian reported.

The F-15I pilots form a strategically crucial squadron capable of flying long-range missions.

Security officials are reportedly concerned that their opposition may lead to insubordination within the ranks of the serving military.

“It is inconceivable for me that I would ever do something like this. I was in the air force for 31 years, 16 of those were under Netanyahu, even though I never voted for him,” former F-15 fighter jet navigator Omer Denk, 51, told the Guardian.

Although pilots and intelligence operatives have participated in boycotts over issues such as Gaza disengagement and the second Lebanon war, the growing number of these types of incidents is unprecedented.

Denk added: “This isn’t about politics or policy. This is about a crisis in trust in a leadership that wants to destroy Israel as a liberal democracy.”

Thousands across Israel are taking part in protests against the government’s plan to overhaul the country’s judicial system.

Critics, which include influential business leaders and former military figures, say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing the country toward authoritarian rule and has a clear conflict of interest in targeting judges as he stands trial on corruption charges.

Anti-government protests in Israel turned violent on Wednesday for the first time as police fired stun grenades and a water cannon at demonstrators who blocked a Tel Aviv highway.

Netanyahu on Monday called the reservists’ refusal to report for duty unacceptable and an “existential” threat, The Guardian reported.

He has also shared a picture of his military ID to social media, with the caption: “When we’re called for reserve duty, we always turn up. We are one nation.”

Former military officials have expressed concern that the proposed judicial changes may subject them to international prosecution, The Guardian reported.

Israel is not a member of the International Criminal Court, claiming that its own legal system adequately investigates allegations of wrongdoing by the armed forces.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2264231/middle-east

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Africa

 

World Bank halts talks with Tunisia amid uproar over anti-migrant remarks

Alaa Hammoudi 

07.03.2023

TUNIS, Tunisia

The World Bank has temporarily suspended its future engagement talks with Tunisia amid uproar over recent statements by the country’s president against migrants.

The two sides have engaged in talks for providing Tunisia with loans up to $520 million.

In an internal message to staff, outgoing World Bank President David Malpass attributed the decision to recent statements about migrants by Tunisian President Kais Saied.

“Given the situation, management has decided to pause the Country Partnership Framework and withdraw it from Board review," Malpass said in the message.

Last month, Saied called for ending the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa into his country, saying irregular migration aims to change Tunisia's demography.

The statements triggered tension between Tunisia and the African Union Commission with its chairperson terming Saied’s comments as “shocking”.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/world-bank-halts-talks-with-tunisia-amid-uproar-over-anti-migrant-remarks/2839085

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African Union postpones conference in Tunisia amid crackdown on migrants

Hassan Isilow 

07.03.2023

The African Union has postponed a conference that was scheduled to take place in Tunisia this month amid mounting criticism of a government crackdown on migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

“The Pan-African Network Conference on Fighting Illicit Financial Flows in Africa that was scheduled to convene in Tunisia from 15-17 March 2023 has been postponed,’’ a spokeswoman for the AU said in text messages to Anadolu on Tuesday.

The AU did not give a reason for the postponement, but it has been critical of the North African country’s treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Tensions escalated last month between Tunisia and the African Union amid a flow of irregular migrants into the North African country.

In February, Tunisian President Kais Saied called for ending the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa into his country, saying irregular migration aims to change the country’s demography.

His statements, however, drew the ire of Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, who termed the Tunisian president’s comments as “shocking.”

Rights groups have documented a rising number of attacks on sub-Saharan Africans following Saied's comments, including evictions, assault and racist slurs.

In a statement, AU said a meeting was held with the Tunisian envoy to express the “African Union’s deep shock and concern at the form and substance of the statement targeting fellow Africans, notwithstanding their legal status in the country.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/african-union-postpones-conference-in-tunisia-amid-crackdown-on-migrants/2839229

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KSrelief continue aid efforts in Yemen and Sudan

March 08, 2023

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSrelief ) humanitarian efforts in Yemen, and Sudan continue to provide services to help people in need.

In Sudan the center distributed 470 aid packages to 2632 effected by the floods.

Meanwhile in Yemen, the agency signed an agreement with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) to kick start a project to re-enroll girls who dropped out of school in the governorates of Hadramout, Lahj, Al-Dhalea, Marib, Abyan, Hajjah and Socotra, as part of a grant from Saudi Arabia to support the education sector in Yemen.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2264556/saudi-arabia

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Turkish, Sierra Leonean presidents meet in Ankara for talks

Diyar Guldogan 

07.03.2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday met with his Sierra Leonean counterpart Julius Maada Wonie Bio in the capital Ankara for talks.

Erdogan and Bio held a closed-door meeting at the presidential complex.

No further information was released about the meeting.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/turkish-sierra-leonean-presidents-meet-in-ankara-for-talks/2839273

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Europe

 

Muslims across Europe urged to boycott Israeli dates this Ramadan

7th March 2023

Friends of Al Aqsa has launched its annual campaign to urge Muslims across Europe to boycott Israeli dates that are being sold in shops and supermarkets this Ramadan.

The #CheckTheLabel campaign aims to make sure that Muslims are not breaking their fasts with a “taste of apartheid.”

All you need to do is check the label to avoid buying dates from Israel – including dates labelled “from Israel,” the “West Bank” and the “Jordan Valley.”

“By choosing not to buy Israeli dates this Ramadan the Muslim community can send a clear and powerful message of condemnation of Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid in Palestine,” said Shamiul Joarder of Friends of Al-Aqsa.

Israel is the world’s largest producer of Medjoul dates, with 50% of Israel’s dates being exported to Europe. These dates are then sold in major supermarkets as well as local shops across the continent.

Major UK supermarkets like ASDA, Tesco, Iceland and Waitrose all sell dates from Israel as well as local grocery stores.

The UK is the second-biggest importer of Israeli dates in Europe. In 2020 it imported over 3,000 tonnes of dates from Israel, worth roughly £7.5 million.

The Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy also import huge quantities of the dried fruit.

There are two peaks of date consumption in Europe – one is during the month of Ramadan and the other is during New Year’s Eve and Christmas.

So far in 2023 Israel has killed at least 62 Palestinians including 13 children – the equivalent of one child every 5 days.

The Israeli regime is increasing home demolitions at an alarming rate and has promised to expand illegal settlements at an unprecedented level.

The world’s leading human rights organisations (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch) have said that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, but European states are still failing to impose sanctions on Israel.

“It’s time to renew our commitment to BDS this Ramadan. We must remember that as a community we are powerful – we can make our voices heard through the simple act of putting Israeli dates back on the shelf. All we need to do is #CheckTheLabel and not buy dates from apartheid Israel,” Shamiul Joarder added.

Source: 5pillarsuk

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://5pillarsuk.com/2023/03/07/muslims-across-europe-urged-to-boycott-israeli-dates-this-ramadan/

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Afghan boy murdered ‘in cold blood’ on London street, court finds

March 07, 2023

LONDON: A 16-year-old Afghan boy was murdered on a London street after being mistaken for someone else and stabbed 15 times by a pair of teenagers, The Independent reported.

Rishmeet Singh, who was killed in late November 2021, had moved to Britain two years earlier with his mother and grandmother to claim asylum after his father was killed by the Taliban.

The 16-year-old was murdered by Vanushan Balakrishnan and Ilyas Suleiman, both 17 at the time, after the pair chased him down and stabbed him while he “lay defenseless on the floor,” the Old Bailey found on Monday.

Singh had left his friends in west London after an evening socializing, but saw the two teenagers running toward him.

He tried to return to his friends, shouting “run, run,” but tripped and was stabbed in the back by one of the males at least five times.

The second male then caught up to Singh, stabbing him at least 10 times. The two teenagers left the scene of the attack, which lasted just 27 seconds, the court heard.

Police and ambulance workers were unable to save the 16-year-old, who died at the scene.

Investigators later found an image on Balakrishnan’s phone of a bloody knife, captured on the evening of the attack.

Balakrishnan and Suleiman were identified using CCTV footage and will be sentenced on April 28 at the Old Bailey.

Singh’s mother, Gulinder, said in a statement: “Rishmeet was my only child, and he had his whole life ahead of him. No words could ever explain or put into context how I have felt since Rishmeet was taken from us.

“He has been raised with so much love and now he’s gone. I am struggling to understand as to how and why this happened to my baby boy. I feel I have lost everything and my life is over.

“I will never get over losing him in this way. I will not see him grow up into a young man. I will not see him leave college. I will not see him fulfill his aspirations. I will not see him learn to drive. I will not see him fall in love and get married. I will not become a grandmother and see my son grow old. I have been robbed of so many future events.

“Rishmeet was attending college completing a public service course and his ambition was to become a police officer, all he wanted to do was to help people. Rishmeet was well loved by all that knew him, he was a faithful boy and was very caring in his nature.

“I have lost my husband and now I have lost my only child, my son. Justice is finally served for Rishmeet, but their sentence will never be enough for me. They have taken my whole life away from me and Rishmeet will never come home again.”

Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Laura Semple said: “Rishmeet was an innocent, young 16-year-old who had his whole life ahead of him. He had just spent an enjoyable evening with his friends and was making the short walk home when he was callously chased down and knifed to death by Balakrishnan and Suleiman.

“Between them, they stabbed him 15 times while he was defenseless on the floor. There is never an excuse to murder someone in cold blood, but this case is made even more tragic by the fact that Rishmeet was wrongly targeted by his attackers.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2264141/world

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Quake solidarity strengthens ties between Bulgaria’s Turks, Türkiye: Senior official

Ahmet Gencturk 

08.03.2023

Quake solidarity has reinforced the strong ties between Bulgaria’s Muslim Turkish population and Türkiye, said a senior official.

"Even though we did not know the precise magnitude of the quake that jolted southern Türkiye, we knew it was big. Consequently, we moved to mobilize our network of 850 imams and associations of the 1,600 mosques across the country," said Celal Faik, the general secretary of Bulgaria’s Grand Mufti’s Office, in an interview with Anadolu.

By noon on Feb. 6, we had already mobilized our network and initiated our aid drive for those who were affected by the quakes, he added.

Moreover, many Turkish health professionals contacted the Turkish Embassy in Sofia to tell them they are ready to go to the quake-stricken areas if and when needed.

“It couldn’t be otherwise as our hearts always beat together with the hearts of our Turkish brothers and sisters,” Faik said.

He also underscored that the Turkish minority, in coordination with the Turkish Embassy, acted united in collecting aid and sending it to Türkiye.

Especially, the executives of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HOH) party, Turkish Ambassador to Bulgaria Aylin Sekizkok have worked hard to help us and inform the Bulgarian public about the quake-related development in Türkiye, Faik said.

According to him, wholehearted contribution to the aid drive by Bulgarians of other ethnicities and religions is also noteworthy since it shows the strong bonds between the country’s 1.25 million strong Muslim Turkish population and non-Muslim compatriots.

As such, the $1.6 million we have collected in our campaign included generous donations from our compatriots, Faik added.

“We, as the Turkish Muslim minority, were so touched by their enthusiastic solidarity. They showed they are more than neighbors to us, they are brothers and sisters,” he said.

Moreover, Bulgarian state institutions, particularly the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, and presidency quickly and efficiently responded to the quakes in Türkiye, Faik underlined, drawing attention that President Rumen Radev was among the first world leaders who called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Likewise, he added, the search and rescue team of the Sofia Municipality was among the first which arrived in Türkiye.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/quake-solidarity-strengthens-ties-between-bulgaria-s-turks-turkiye-senior-official/2839884

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Belgium raises over $1.9M in single day for quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Agnes Szucs 

08.03.2023

BRUSSELS

Over €1.8 million ($1.9 million) was raised in a single day in Belgium to help the victims of last month’s earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria in response to a call by the country’s biggest charities.

In a statement Tuesday, the 12-12 Consortium, assembling Belgium’s seven most important charity organizations, said that “€1.8 million has been raised in favor of the victims of the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria at the big day of solidarity on March 6.”

Marking one month since the disaster, all Belgian media outlets dedicated programs or content on the disastrous effects of the earthquakes and called on people to make donations.

“The day of solidarity ended with an impressive result,” said Gilles Van Moortel, the consortium’s coordinator, explaining that they received three times more donations than in an average day due to the media coverage.

The amount collected Monday represents 15% of the funds, bringing the total to €11.6 million.

Caritas International, Red Cross Belgium, Handicap International (Humanity & Inclusion), Medecins du Monde, Oxfam Belgium, Plan International Belgium and UNICEF Belgium are members of the consortium.

The charities raised over €8.27 million in the first two weeks after the earthquakes, according to their data.

More than 46,100 people were killed in Türkiye by magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes that struck on Feb. 6, according to officials.

The strong tremors, which were centered in Kahramanmaras province, also hit 10 other provinces: Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa and Elazig.

Some 13.5 million people have been affected in Türkiye by the massive quakes, which struck in less than 10 hours.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/belgium-raises-over-19m-in-single-day-for-quake-victims-in-turkiye-syria/2839761

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Quake victims in Türkiye, Syria continue to receive assistance: Danish NGO

Burak Bir

07.03.2023

LONDON

People in Türkiye and Syria continue to receive emergency assistance and psychosocial support following last month’s "horrific earthquakes," the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) said Monday.

In a statement, the non-profit organization said thousands of people in the two countries are still in need of humanitarian aid a month after the twin earthquakes shook communities across the region.

"Both adults and children are clearly very affected by having gone through an unimaginable, traumatizing experience,” Charlotte Slente, secretary general of the DRC, said after visiting Antakya district in Hatay province.

The DRC noted that it has been responding in both Türkiye and Syria with emergency assistance and psychosocial support to help heal the wounds from the earthquakes.

"Our response seeks to support host communities, refugees and internally displaced families that have been affected, but the needs are significant," it added.

More than 46,100 people have been killed in the two quakes that shook Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to officials.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/quake-victims-in-turkiye-syria-continue-to-receive-assistance-danish-ngo/2838813

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UK school embroiled in Quran desecration row

Tuesday, 07 March 2023

Robert Carter

A heated debate has been sparked following the news of four teenage students being suspended from a school in Wakefield, North England, over a Quran desecration incident.

Right-wingers in the media have condemned the suspensions. Alleging that pressure comes from Muslims, trying to enforce defacto-blasphemy laws.

The students at Kettlethorpe High School were removed after a copy of the Islamic holy text was partially torn and scuffed. It was brought into the school by a 10-Year pupil, reportedly as part of a dare.

Rumors quickly spread about the incident, some claiming the Quran had been burned. With a protest planned outside the school gates.

Amid growing community distress, police and religious leaders intervened - staging a press conference at a local Mosque.

A mother of one of the pupils involved apologized for her son's conduct.

After debunking some of the myths surrounding the story and after realizing the distress caused to an autistic teenager, the local protest was quickly abandoned. Local religious leaders called for calm and forgiveness.

Right-wing pundits, however, were not content to rest. Accusations of the family being forced to an apology sparked an online firestorm, with Islamophobic trolling in abundance.

News of a death threat circulated the headlines, with few reports adding the important context; the threat came from another student - not from Muslims in the wider community.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman adopted the idea of Muslims enforcing de facto blasphemy laws.

Onlookers have expressed concern over the Islamophobic spin being added to the story and a failure to properly represent the Muslim reaction.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/07/699484/UK-school-embroiled-in-Quran-desecration-row

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