New Age Islam
Sat Dec 02 2023, 04:04 AM

Islamic World News ( 2 Dec 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Sikh Donates 900 Square Feet Plot to Build a Mosque, In UP

New Age Islam News Bureau

2 Dec 2019

Six male Muslims were sentenced to a month in jail and a fine for skipping out on Friday prayers last August 23. — Picture via Twitter/@Zulaikhasofy__


Sikh Donates 900 Square Feet Plot to Build a Mosque, In UP

Uttar Pradesh Government to Turn Ayodhya into a Hindu Pilgrim Hub On The Lines Of Vatican And Mecca

Six Muslim Men Sentenced To Jail, Fine For Going to Waterfall Instead Of Friday Prayers by Shariah Court in Malaysia

Malaysia Orders Inquiry Over 'Half-Naked' Tattoo Show

‘All Eyes on the Kingdom’ As Saudi Arabia Takes Helm of G20

London Bridge Terrorist Walked Round School with Osama Bin Laden Picture In Notebook

US: China Targets Uighur Mosques to Eradicate Minority's Faith

Erdogan Uses Religion, Fear to Stay Politically Afloat

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Ayodhya Verdict: Jamiat to File Review Plea on Dec 6

Let ‘Outsiders’ Pray At Mosque in Pratapgarh Police Lines: SP Leaders

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Slams Muslim Board On Ayodhya, Says Matter Closed


Southeast Asia

Conservative Muslims rally peacefully in Indonesia amid tight security

Malaysia’s Bank Islam Group Third-Quarter Profit Rises 7.24%

Malaysia orders inquiry over 'half-naked' tattoo show

Conservative Muslims rally peacefully in Indonesia amid tight security

Hundreds of Indonesian Muslims attend Jakarta 212 rally

Malaysia tops Aussie list for border alerts

Don’t drag out succession issue, Ramasamy warns PH


Arab World

OIC Counter-Extremist Centre Reaches 54m People on Social Media

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Accuses Egyptian Regime of Oppression

Iraqi Prime Minister Resigns in Deepening Political Crisis

Amid protests, Iranian consulate in southern Iraq set on fire again

Iraqi Christians Warn Sweden of 'Islamist Rule'

Saudi Arabia recovers 52,000 illegally taken priceless artifacts

Dhahran conference to outline new vision for Arab world

Monshaat offers SR691 million government fee refunds to Saudi SMEs



Shia Muslim jailed for attack against Sunni mosques in Birmingham

UK Labour Leader Would Stop Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia For Use In Yemen

Pope Francis Condemns Iraq’s ‘Harsh’ Crackdown on Protesters

Relax: The London Bridge Jihad Murderer Was “Deradicalized"

The Conservatives should not give up on Muslim voters

The Islamists amongst us: rehabilitation or indefinite detention?

Russia does not need US’ permission for relations with Iran: Envoy


North America

US: 11 Shot on Edge of French Quarter in New Orleans, Say Police

US Tried To Rescue Us 6 Times: Taliban Prisoner

Why Islam Is the World's Fastest-Growing Religion



World Must Not Forget Iran’s Detained Protesters

Israeli Protesters Demands Netanyahu Resign amid Corruption Charges

Lebanon stops migrant boat carrying 34 Syrian refugees

U.S., Europeans Clash over How to Handle Islamic State Detainees

Adhan heard in Macedonia mosque after more than century

Roman-era sarcophagus lid used in mosque

Netanyahu: Islamic Jihad doesn't absolve Hamas' responsibility for Gaza

Speaker: Iran Not Concerned about Recent Developments in Iraq

25 Rioters Detained, 3 Firearms Seized by Police in Western Iran

Iranian Speaker: US Should Return to N. Deal

Iran’s Nuclear Chief: Evidence Proves IAEA Inspector Carried Suspicious Materials



Interior Ministry arrests coordinator between ISIS and Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya

Suspected Islamist rebels kill 14 in eastern Congo - local authorities

At least 10 killed in Burkina Faso church attack: Security sources

Miyetti Allah, Yoruba, others dialogue for peace



Minister wants Makkah Route initiative coverage for all Pakistani Hajj pilgrims next year

1 FC personnel martyred, 2 injured in exchange of fire with terrorists in North Waziristan: ISPR

Pakistan informs new Sri Lankan govt of critical situation in Kashmir

Govt seeks allies' help to amend Army Act

ICCI to join hands with Muslim Aid Pakistan

Qatar Charity builds mosque in Pakistan’s Punjab


South Asia

Four Ansar Al Islam Operatives Arrested: Rab

Australian freed by Taliban recounts rescue attempts by US forces

In surprise trip to Afghanistan, Trump says Taliban talks resumed

Afghan man arrested in India airport with 1kg gold in his shoes

Logar’s ‘school students’ sexual abuse investigations must immediately begin: Human Rights Activists


Sikh Donates 900 Square Feet Plot To Build A Mosque, In  UP

December 02, 2019

Almost 800 km from the site of the long-pending mandir-masjid dispute in Ayodhya, a Sikh cloth merchant from Purquazi town, Muzzafarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, has donated a 900 square feet plot to build a mosque.

Purquazi has a population of about 30,000 of which two-thirds are Muslims. Sikh families number less than 200.

A border town between Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Purquazi is well known for its Suli Wala Bagh where 500 freedom fighters were hanged by the British in the First War of Independence in 1857. The event is commemorated by residents every year.

"This is the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak. Sukh Pal Singh Bedi wanted to do something special to celebrate Guru Nanak's birthday and so he donated the land to build a mosque," Town Panchayat Chairman Zaheer Farooqui tells A Ganesh Nadar/

"There are many masjids in our town, but this one will be special as the land has been donated by a Sikh to celebrate his religion," Farooqui adds.

"There is total communal harmony in this town. We celebrate each other's religious festivals," he says.

"Sukh Pal Singh is not very rich where money is concerned, but his heart is rich. He is a cloth merchant, an ordinary man like you and me."

"Our Guru told us that all people are equal and we must respect all religions and that is what I am doing," says Sukh Pal Singh Bedi. "It is our Guru's 550th birth anniversary and Sikhs are celebrating the world over. I wanted to do something special to commemorate the event and I am sure my deed must have made my Guru happy."

Bedi, left, was born in Delhi three years after Independence. His family moved to this town when he was three years old and he has lived here ever since.

He started a cloth shop in 1967 as a young lad and is still running it after more than five decades. He gets his cloth from the wholesale market at the district headquarters in Muzaffarnagar. He has travelled to Mumbai once in the eighties, he recollects fondly on the phone.

Bedi has two sons and a daughter. "When I decided to donate the land I consulted my family. They all agreed that it was for a good cause and I must do it. They all supported me," he says happily.

Last Sunday, at an event organised by the panchayat, he handed over the land documents to the town.

"God gives us everything, we must use it for the good of the maximum people possible," Bedi Tells "We must always share whatever we have because everything is given by God. Nothing belongs to us."

Some 20 years ago, when the town needed land for a road, Bedi had given up land wholeheartedly for the purpose. Clearly, he believes in what he advocates.



Uttar Pradesh Government to Turn Ayodhya into A Hindu Pilgrim Hub On The Lines Of Vatican And Mecca

Ratan Mani Lal

DECEMBER 02, 2019

A Ram temple in Ayodhya may take some time to come up, but the Uttar Pradesh government is already moving ahead on a massive project to prepare and promote Ayodhya as a major tourist attraction with

ambitious schemes on several levels.

According to well-placed sources in the government, a plan to set up a town by the name of Ikshvakupuri – drawn from the name of the legendary dynasty of Hindu kings in the Indian heartland – on the banks of the Saryu river in Ayodhya has been prepared. The project has been in making over the last one more than year, and is said to be in the nal stages before it is unveiled. It includes the creation of a greeneld city

which will showcase all aspects of Hindu religion and culture. Spread over 1,900 acres, the proposed city will extend from the outskirts of the existing Ayodhya town towards the Saryu river. At present this land is largely uninhabited with some ponds, forests and streams, and is said to be under the ownership of various Government departments such as agriculture, forest and horticulture.

The inspiration behind the proposed city is drawn from the famed temples in Angkor Vat, the world’s largest monument near the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia. It will have a riverfront comprising hotels, inns and parks along the Saryu river, and the main complex will have separate sections dedicated to the

Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, other Hindu religious texts, besides cottages and huts designed on the pattern of traditional ashrams. All states of India will be given land in this city where they could set up guest houses and depictions of their tourist attractions. Setting up of a Vedic research centre, meditation

centre, multimedia presentation etc are also planned.

The entire city will be totally eco-friendly, with permanent built-up space not exceeding 5 per cent of the total land. Vehicles running on petrol, diesel and CNG will not be permitted within the city, and only electric vehicles such as carts, buses and tram will ply. The entire project is proposed to be executed in a

collaborative manner, with the state government setting the plan, standards and design, basic infrastructure and prepare detailed plan of other features and elements. The elements would be owned and operated by other parties either on a model of public-private partnership (PPP) or retail

crowdfunding, inviting funds from individuals and organisations.

“The idea is to create a unique spiritual and tourist attraction which provides an immersive experience of Indian culture, spiritualism and religious glory. There will be a unique blend of traditional and modern, with latest technology being used to recreate an ambience of serenity and faith,” according to a source close to the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In fact the chief minister has been taking keen interest in developing Ayodhya ever since he took over in March 2017. Since then, he has visited Ayodhya more than a dozen times in this regard. The celebration of Dussehra and Diwali on a grand scale in Ayodhya in the

last two years, including the Deepotsav (lighting of earthen lamps on the bank of the Saryu river) have been part of the plan to project Ayodhya as the biggest tourist attraction in the state.

In fact, the tourist footfalls in Ayodhya have registered a rise in the last one year, and there has been a considerable increase in the number of visitors after the court verdict on the Ram temple issue.

Interestingly, Agra, Sarnath and Varanasi continue to be the main tourist attractions in the state, in that order, and these three places draw a large number of foreign tourists that come to India. Ayodhya,

according to one estimate, gets about 1.50 crore tourists every year, mostly domestic and largely pilgrims. “With the proposed project, it is planned to position Ayodhya as the most important religious centre for

the Hindu community, on the lines of the Vatican and Mecca,” the source said.

The Ikshvakupuri project, incidentally, is separate from the proposed Smart City plan in which Ayodhya has been included, and work on that front is already on. Smart city includes setting up of an integrated,

networked city, an airport, hotels, heritage park and other institutions.

Ayodhya lies about 130 km northeast of Lucknow, on way to Gorakhpur, the home town of the chief minister. It is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Muslims as also for Jains and Buddhists, and ancient

monuments of all these faiths are scattered all over the city. The district was earlier known as Faizabad and was renamed as Ayodhya on 6 November 2018. The administrative headquarters of the district were

later shifted to Ayodhya city.

The Supreme Court had on November 9 announced its verdict on the disputed ownership of the land where the Babri Masjid once stood. The Court ruled that the land be handed over for the construction of a

Ram temple through a trust under the central government, and ordered allotment of 5 acres of land for the construction of a mosque to the Muslim groups that were party to the case. The ling of a review

petition against the Court ruling is being actively considered by most of the petitioners on the other side



Six Muslim Men Sentenced To Jail, Fine For Going to Waterfall Instead Of Friday Prayers by Shariah Court in Malaysia

Sunday, 01 Dec 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — In what is possibly the first case in the country, six male Muslims, including three teenagers, were sentenced to a month in jail and fined over RM2,000 for skipping out on Friday prayers last August 23.

Khairul Azle Abdul Rasid, 35; Abdul Malek Mohd, 25; Muhamad Hafizi Abdul Razak, 22; Muhammad Aliff Fikri A Mazzani, 19; and two unnamed 17-year-old boys were given the sentence by Syarie judge Nik Mohd Shahril Irwan Mat Yusof at the Hulu Terengganu Lower Shariah Court earlier today after pleading guilty to a charge of deliberately missing the compulsory Friday prayers, Harian Metro reported on its website.

All six were unrepresented while Syarie Nurul Taqwa Hasbul prosecuted.

According to the Malay daily, the six were accused of violating Section 16 of the Terengganu Syariah Criminal Enactment (Takzir) amendment 2016, which provides for a maximum jail sentence of two years, or a fine up to RM3,000 on those convicted.

While all six were ordered to be locked up one month, father of two Khairul Azle got the heftiest fine of RM2, 500. The others who were all bachelors were each fined RM2,400.

Citing the charge sheet, Harian Metro reported the six to have committed the Islamic offence at the Sekayu Waterfall between 1pm and 1.50pm on August 23, 2019.

The six were reportedly busted during a raid by the Terengganu Islamic Religious Affairs Department.

Its female officers had entered the recreation area first for surveillance and found the six accused to be among several people picnicking with their families at the waterfall area instead of being at the mosque for their obligatory prayers that Friday.

The male officers went in and made the arrests after Friday prayers ended, according to the daily.



Malaysia orders inquiry over 'half-naked' tattoo show

Mon, December 2, 2019

Malaysia ordered an investigation on Monday (Dec 2) into what the government called a half-naked tattoo show held in the capital Kuala Lumpur, after pictures of heavily inked men and women circulated on social media in the Muslim-majority nation.

The three-day Tattoo Malaysia Expo, which started last Friday and drew participants from 35 countries, was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, the show's organizer said on its website.

But the ministry said this year's event violated its standards for the first time since it was first held in 2015, and vowed "firm action" against the organizers.

Pictures in Malaysian media blurred the private parts of men and women in the show.

"It's impossible for the ministry to approve any application for events that have obscene elements such as this, because it is not Malaysian culture, what more when the majority of Malaysians are Muslim," Mr Mohamaddin Ketapi, the minister of tourism, arts and culture, said in a statement.

"We will wait for the full investigation report... and will not hesitate to take legal action if they are found to have been in violation of set conditions."

One of the event's organizers, Mr Carlos Benny Majakil, told Reuters he had no comment on the issue.

The authorities in Malaysia, where ethnic Malay Muslims make up 60 percent of a population of 32 million, tend to lean towards religious and cultural conservatism.

A Malaysian religious court last month sentenced five men to jail, caning and fines for attempting gay sex. In September 2018, two women were caned for "attempting lesbian sex" in the east coast state of Terengganu.



‘All eyes on the Kingdom’ as Saudi Arabia takes helm of G20

December 02, 2019


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday assumed the presidency of the G20, the world’s most economically powerful group of nations.

The Kingdom takes over the role from Japan, and will direct the G20’s work for the next year. As chairman, King Salman will host the group’s 2020 summit in Riyadh over two days next November.

The Saudi presidency will focus on three aims: Empowering people, by creating the conditions in which everyone — especially women and young people— can live, work and thrive; safeguarding the planet, by fostering collective efforts on food and water security, climate, energy, and the environment; and long-term strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological advancement.

“The Saudi G20 presidency is committed to continuing the work from Osaka and promoting multilateral consensus,” said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Working with our G20 partners, we will strive to deliver concrete actions and realize opportunities to enable us to face the challenges of the future.

“In hosting the G20, the Kingdom will have an important role to play by sharing the perspective of the Middle East and North Africa region. We believe this will be a unique opportunity to shape consensus on international issues as we welcome the world to the Kingdom.”

For the next year, “all eyes will be on Saudi Arabia,” political analyst Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“We know Saudi Arabia’s strength is both economic and diplomatic, and this will be the time to showcase it to the world,” he said.

Other countries realized that Saudi Arabia’s strength lay in oil, but it was charting a different course through Vision 2030 with a future focused on the non-oil economy, Al-Shehri said.

He pointed out the strategic significance of Saudi Arabia’s location, connecting three continents and linked to crucial maritime straits at Bab Al-Mandab, Hormuz and the Suez Canal. These shipping lanes were vital for international trade, Al-Shehri said, and Saudi Arabia protected them not just for itself and the region, but the whole world.

The G20 presidency was “a chance for the world to see the significance of our country and what it has to offer. It is a lively nation,” he said.



London Bridge Terrorist Walked Round School With Osama Bin Laden Picture In Notebook

By Lucy Thornton

Louie Smith

1 DEC 2019

The London Bridge attacker would parade around high school with a picture of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden stuck on his notebook.

Usman Khan would meet his pals in a local cafe and watch videos of the Twin Towers devastation.

His schoolmates yesterday spoke about his “weird” behaviour which they claim should have been a “red flag” to the authorities.

Police searched his flat in Stafford and officers also went to his parents’ home in Stoke-on-Trent.

Painter and decorator Rhys Miller, 29, who was in the year above Khan at Haywood High School in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, posted on Facebook : “Surprise surprise, look who it is, the guy who walked around school with a picture of Osama bin Laden on the front of his planner and used to sit in the corner of the cafe with about 20 of his mates watching videos of the planes going in to the twin towers! But when anyone spoke up you were told to shut up and not be ‘racist’...blatant red flag.”

“It was a planner you used to have to put on your desk at the beginning of the lesson so you could write notes down. And he’d have a picture of bin Laden and the Twin Towers, a photograph, a printout.”

In a TV interview in 2008, after his home was raided by terror cops, Khan said: “I ain’t no terrorist.”

In 2010, he was arrested along with eight others in a counter-terrorism sting over a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

Solicitor Vajahat Sharif, who represented Khan as a teenager, said: “I was very shocked, very upset for the victims and their families and also very upset about what happened to Usman. How did something like this happen?”



US: China Targets Uighur Mosques to Eradicate Minority's Faith

By Asim Kashgarian

December 01, 2019

WASHINGTON - A U.S. State Department official accused China of attempting to erase the Muslim identity of Uighurs by seeking to demolish or close places of worship in Xinjiang in northwest China.

The official, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity, said the Chinese Communist Party in its campaign against the Uighur minority has removed religious symbols from places of worship, imposing strict surveillance on them.

“As part of its ongoing attempts to eradicate the Islamic faith and “re-educate” Muslims, Beijing has closed or destroyed mosques, shrines, burial grounds, and other Islamic structures, perhaps more,” the official told VOA.

“Mosques permitted to remain open have been stripped of certain features like minarets and domes and are heavily monitored by surveillance cameras and security personnel,” the official said, adding that Beijing’s acts have denied Muslims the ability to practice their faith in public.

An estimated 13 million ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities are believed to live in the Xinjiang region.

The Chinese government since early 2017 has been accused of a harsh crackdown in the region through detention and forceful “re-education” of the people who are accused of being disloyal to the government’s ideology.

Chinese officials, however, have called the alleged detention program a “vocational” training and said their efforts in Xinjiang are aimed at curbing the threat of Islamic extremism.

The U.S. government and rights organizations say at least one million Uighurs are being held in the camps where they are exposed to torture and forced labor. Outside the camps, the minority population is put under stringent control where simple religious practices are prohibited.

According to an investigation by Uyghur (Uighur) Human Rights Project (UHRP), a D.C.-based organization funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, between 10,000-15,000 of mosques and other sites, amounting to about 40%, were demolished in each city, county and township all over Xinjiang since late 2016.

Bahram Sintash, who led the investigation, told VOA that in addition to local testimonies, satellite imagery of the sites confirm a “systematic destruction” of at least 140 Uighur religious places.

“I have been able to compile a list of over 140 mosques, shrines and cemeteries which have been confirmed or are suspected to have been fully demolished or desecrated since 2016,” Sintash told VOA in an interview.

The UHRP report found that among the demolished sites was Keriya Mosque in Hotan prefecture, a major historic building dating back to the 13th century and enlisted as a protected cultural site.

“Although China demolished many mosques in Xinjiang, it left some mosques untouched in big cities including the Korla Jama Mosque. In my findings, the mosque is one of the “selected” tourist destinations for Korla city. Therefore, the government kept the Korla Jama Mosque not for the sake of local Uighur communities and their prayer needs, but as pre-selected tour location to pretend its “protection” of Islam in that city and to lie to the international community and reporters,” said Sintash.

VOA could not independently verify UHRP’s report.

United Nations and human rights watchdogs in the past have continuously blamed Chinese officials for preventing independent bodies to have access to the region to investigate the alleged abuses. They say local population in the region are prevented from contacting the outside world, including their relatives who live in the diaspora.

The United Kingdom earlier this week urged China to give U.N. observers “immediate and unfettered access” to the region following a recent leak of classified Chinese government documents that rights groups say offer clear evidence of Beijing using detention camps as brainwashing centers.

Abduwaris Ablimit, a New York-based Uighur from Artush city in southern Xinjiang, said Uighurs living in the diaspora struggle to know the whereabouts of their loved ones stranded in Xinjiang due to communication restrictions.  He said many of them turn to aerial imagery from airplanes to track changes made to their neighborhoods.

“When I was searching for my neighborhood mosque and other mosques around my hometown this year through google imagery, I was startled to find out that they were gone except for a few mosques.” Ablimit told VOA.

He said he had lost contact with his parents and brother in 2017, and one year later he found out that they were taken to “the concentration camps”.



Erdogan uses religion, fear to stay politically afloat

Yavuz Baydar

Dec 02 2019

Circumventing every possible obstacle, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan keeps moving ahead on the path he set, cementing his rule in Turkey, as he takes every opportunity, big or small, to consolidate his legitimacy on the basis of “stability in Turkey.”

Having survived political defeat in the local elections some seven months ago, Erdogan is back in the game, using the same fundamental tools that have kept him in power: use of religion in a rhetoric similar to the one applied by the Muslim Brotherhood; conducting divisive policies at home, fiercely exercised to keep the opposition as polarised as ever before; constantly driving a wedge between bodies such as NATO and the European Union and, as the Syrian incursion exemplified, raising the stakes for Turkish nationalism; and irredentism, which causes growing concern in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

In all these efforts Erdogan seems unstoppable. Regarding religion as a political tool, he knows he has the powerful backing of the overwhelming Muslim majority at home, which he hopes will see him as the unchallenged leader of the country.

Addressing the sixth Religious Council meeting of the Presidency of Religious Affairs November 28 in Ankara, his gambling became obvious once more: “Even if it may burden ourselves, we shall place the decretals, and not the rules of the present, at the centre of our lives,” Erdogan said. “Islam is an acquis of rules and prohibitions which encircle all the sections of our lives. We believe in a religion that encompasses its every phase. We are ordered to live as Muslims until the very end.”

Even if Erdogan took his time to underline the traps of “fault lines among Muslims in the world,” it was these words that echoed in Turkey’s increasingly oppressed secular circles, more than his unanswered ambitions to emerge as the leader of the Islamic world.

He also knows that such statements are without a doubt breaches of the constitution, which emphasises that the president remains an impartial and unifying figure. But his challenging in-your-face gestures have always remained his game. He knows that dropping the rhetoric of religion altogether may spell a lethal weakening of his power. Nevertheless, the result of such statements is a continuous Islamisation of the education system, undermining Turkey as a modern nation.

His use of nationalism has pushed the centrist opposition into a corner but, for Erdogan, it is not sufficient, unless coupled with bold divisions within it.

The chain of events placing the secular main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), have recently presented a taste of what is bound to come in the near future. It all began with an obvious piece of disinformation spread by a couple of murky reporters in the press. The “rumour,” these reports said, was that a prominent figure of the main opposition had secretly met Erdogan at his palace to hear from him that “it would be a fine idea if he had replaced the current leader of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.”

The media jumped on the bandwagon, dragged by the unconfirmed piece aimed at manipulation. It took several days to deny it, as the opposition party was delivered blow after blow, and internal rifts surfaced. The damage was done, proving, as it were, the oppressed Kurdish politicians who had warned the CHP figures that “you remain silent before the cruelties to us, but you will be next in line.” Erdogan was visibly content and in waves of joyful attacks, as was expected of him. He felt assured that he has his opponents in control.

In foreign policy, Erdogan is benefiting enormously from the overall turbulence and international folly developing day by day. Volatile conjuncture in the Middle East and Europe leaves his daredevil policies room to develop and enlarge, so far so that Ankara feels a growing appetite for irredentism for redrawing the map of the eastern Mediterranean, testing the reaction capacities of the EU.

The more the EU appeases, the more it encourages an escalation of the crisis with Turkey at one side and Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on the other. Amnesia reigns: It was the reactions to the Treaty of Versailles that shaped the Nazi regime in Germany and, in some sense perhaps, the discontent with the Lausanne Treaty will have a similar effect in Turkey’s path to totalitarian rule.

Erdogan, while challenging the European Union, places his bet on the EU trauma. The violent fall of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya is the main source of the refugee crisis that has been reshaping the European political landscape to far-right populism and overall disorder. Erdogan knows very well that the EU at the end of the day would prefer to have him as the leader of Turkey, who will maintain its stability, as opposed to any alternative that would amount to deeper chaos.

The same fear — a prospective instability bigger than in Libya — applies among NATO’s European allies. Thus, Erdogan and his team feel free to block NATO’s plans for its Baltic members, as the bloc turns into a witness as Ankara develops into a Trojan horse.

All these factors explain the success of Erdogan’s survival. He reads the new global reality better than all the others — except perhaps Russian President Vladimir Putin.





Ayodhya verdict: Jamiat to file review plea on Dec 6

Dec 2, 2019

LUCKNOW: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) will file a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking review of the Ayodhya verdict on December 6, the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition. The petition will be filed through Jamiat’s UP general secretary Maulana Ashhad Rasheedi, who is also one of the 10 litigants from the Muslim side in the Ayodhya case.

“The documentation is in final stages. Our legal cell is drafting the review plea and needs a few days to finalise details,” Rasheedi told TOI. Rasheedi had replaced Jamiat’s former UP general secretary SM Siddiq as a litigant after the latter died a few years ago.

Jamiat’s UP general secretary Maulana Ashhad Rasheedi said the first part of the SC judgment on Ayodhya “contradicts” the latter part. “And it’s our humble plea that the SC explains the contradiction. The court admitted the mosque was not built by razing a temple and the demolition of the mosque in December 1992 was illegal. Yet, the court hands over the land to the other party."



Let ‘outsiders’ pray at mosque in Pratapgarh police lines: SP leaders

Dec 01, 2019

Samajwadi Party(SP) leaders of Pratapgarh handed over a memorandum to the deputy inspector general (Prayagraj range) KP Singh here on Sunday in connection with ‘restrictions’ imposed on ‘outsiders’ wishing to offer ‘namaz’ at the mosque in Pratapgarh Police Lines.

The SP leaders requested the senior officer to intervene and issue orders allowing lawyers and other persons to offer ‘namaz’ at the mosque on Fridays.

On Friday, policemen stopped ‘namazis’ from offering prayers at the mosque located inside the Pratapgarh police lines premises. The police had claimed that according to the new orders, only policemen and their relatives who reside inside the police lines premises could offer prayers in the mosque.

Wasiq Khan, district general secretary of the Samajwadi Party’s Pratapgarh unit, said not only Muslim police personnel and their family members who resided at police lines but also lawyers and residents of the area used to offer ‘namaz’ at the mosque since many years without any restriction.

But now resentment prevailed among Muslims in Pratapgarh over what he described as the ‘unnecessary restriction’ imposed by the Pratapgarh SP.

Khan requested the DIG range to issue instructions to the SP, Pratapgarh, to remove the restrictions and allow all Muslims to offer ‘namaz’ at the mosque at Pratapgarh police lines.

The DIG assured the SP leaders that necessary steps would be taken after discussing the issue with senior administrative and police officials in Pratapgarh.

However, he also cautioned against creating trouble and entering the police lines premises for offering prayers at the mosque without permission.

An FIR was lodged on Saturday against AIMIM district president Israr Ahmad and some others for forcing their way to the mosque to offer prayers and inciting communal passions. Samajwadi Party’s Pratapgarh district president Gulfam Khan, Chhatra Sabha district president Saddam Husain, Irshad Siddiqui and others were among the delegation.

Photo Caption: Samajwadi Party leaders of Pratapgarh handing over a memorandum to DIG (Prayagraj range) KP Singh in Prayagraj on Sunday (HT)



Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Slams Muslim Board On Ayodhya, Says Matter Closed

December 01, 2019

New Delhi: Hitting out at the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind for their decision to seek a review of the Ayodhya verdict, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said they are trying to create an "atmosphere of division and confrontation" after the matter was laid to rest by the Supreme Court.

He also said that for the Muslims the important issue is not just "Babri (mosque) but barabri (equality)" in the areas of education and economic and social upliftment.

In an interview to news agency PTI, Mr Naqvi said that in a democracy everyone has a right to have an opinion and liberty to approach courts.

However, he asserted that in an ideal scenario attempts should not be made to entangle the decades-old complex issue which has been solved by a unanimous verdict of the Supreme Court.

"All sections of the society have welcomed and respected the Supreme Court verdict. But if some people are unable to digest the fact that the unity has been strengthened after this verdict, it is sad," he said.

Sources in the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind said last week that the draft of the review petition against Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict is ready and the plea will be filed by them on December 3 or 4.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has also said the review petition will be filed before December 9.

Slamming the AIMPLB and the Jamiat, Naqvi said, "They are trying to create an atmosphere of division and confrontation which will not be accepted by any society."

"These isolated voices cannot be that of the whole society. The feeling of all sections of the society is that this matter has been settled by the court and we should now accept it and move forward," he said.

"If they (AIMPLB and Jamiat) were so serious why did they not agree to a compromise when the court earlier had asked them to solve the matter through dialogue," the senior BJP leader said.

The Minority Affairs Minister said both the Muslim side and the Hindu side had said prior to the Supreme Court verdict that it would be acceptable to them.

"Even at the meeting that was held at my house where representatives from various sections of the society were present, it was said in one voice that whatever be the verdict it will be accepted and honoured," he said.

As part of the RSS and the BJP's efforts to reach out to Muslims ahead of the Ayodhya verdict, a meeting with the community's clerics, academics and prominent persons was organised at Mr Naqvi's residence ahead of the verdict, with participants stressing on maintaining social harmony and unity.

"Initially they (AIMPLB and Jamiat) accepted and honoured the verdict but I don't know what is the reason and what divine enlightenment they got, that they are taking an opposite stand to what they had taken," he said.

On whether this could open a fresh chapter in the dispute, he said those who want to "open a chapter will be able to do it only in their homes" as the society and the country will not accept it and for them the matter is closed.

The Supreme Court, in its verdict, said the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land should be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who was one of the three litigants.

The five-judge Constitution bench also directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board in Ayodhya to build a mosque.

Asked if the Muslim side should accept the 5-acre land, Mr Naqvi said he cannot comment on it as it was a court issue.

"It is upto the parties (in the case who have been given the land) whether to accept it or not. It depends on them. As far as Ayodhya is concerned there are a number of mosques there," he said.

On some sections of the Muslim community expressing disappointment with the Supreme Court decision, Mr Naqvi said this was a civil suit in which a decision has been made and it is binding on the concerned parties.

"This issue should not be seen as Hindu vs Muslim," he asserted.

Mr Naqvi also hit out at the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi for his remarks that Supreme Court is not "infallible", saying this country runs on Constitution and not on anybody's whims and fancies.

"This country runs on Constitution, on law. Nobody can apply his own law and do a postmortem of the verdict," he said, hitting out at Mr Owaisi.

Both AIMPLB and Jamiat are expected to file a review petition this week even as the Sunni Central Waqf Board decided on Tuesday that it would not do so. The Waqf board also said it was yet to take a call on whether to accept a five-acre alternative plot for a mosque.



Southeast Asia


Conservative Muslims rally peacefully in Indonesia amid tight security

Monday, 02 Dec 2019

JAKARTA, Dec 2 —Thousands of Indonesian Muslims from conservative groups held a peaceful rally in central Jakarta today, with a spokesman for one of the organisers calling for unity after a spike in religious tension followed elections last April.

Among the protest organisers was the Alumni 212 movement, which was behind big rallies held from 2016 to demand action against Jakarta’s former governor, a Christian eventually jailed for blasphemy in a case that drew international condemnation.

The crowd, many wearing white and carrying Islamic flags, began gathering for prayers at Jakarta’s National Monument from about 3 a.m., as more than 6,000 security forces, including police and military, stood on guard.

“The main message of this reunion is that Indonesia needs unity that can forget differences and friction that happened some time ago,” said Haikal Hassan, a spokesman for Alumni 212, which takes its name from an earlier Dec. 2 protest.

However, authorities were unfairly targeting some clerics, he said by telephone.

“We want Indonesia to progress with justice. And we feel that there’s injustice,” Hassan added.

The bloc of conservative Muslims also overwhelmingly backed an opposition challenge to President Joko Widodo in April’s vote, fuelling concerns over a deepening religious divide in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

Habib Rizieq, the leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), urged vigilance against future blasphemy cases in a speech by live video link from Saudi Arabia, where he has lived since 2017, after being named a suspect in several legal cases.

More than 12,000 people participated in the rally, said Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus, although organisers put the figure much higher.

Security analyst Stanislaus Riyanta said a decision by former opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, whom Widodo defeated in April’s poll, to join the cabinet as defence minister appeared to have undermined the 212 movement.

“The 212 reunion this time is weaker than the previous ones because it has lost some political momentum,” added the Jakarta-based Riyanta.

Prabowo, a former general, who had addressed a similar rally a year ago, did not attend this time.

The movement’s spokesman, Hassan, did not say how it would line up in future politically.

“We can’t give directions yet, because we don’t know where our politics is going,” he said. — Reuters



Malaysia’s Bank Islam Group third-quarter profit rises 7.24%

29 NOV 2019

Malaysia’s Bank Islam Group posted 7.24% increase in profit before tax for the third-quarter compared to the same three months last year.

The bank reported in a bourse filing on Friday (Nov 29) 317.8 million ringgit ($76.16 million) in profit before zakat and tax for July-September versus 296.35 million ringgit for the corresponding quarter in 2018.

The Group is the parent company of Bank Islam, Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Keluarga and BIMB Securities.

The Group’s biggest growth earners were from income earned from investment account funds that grew by 66.7% to 97.88 million ringgit and net income from takaful reached 283.09 million ringgit, an increase of 24.63%.

Group assets at the end of September was 75.27 billion ringgit, up by 3.97% from the end of December.

Net financing and advances accounted for 64.05%, reaching 48.21 billion ringgit from 45.68 billion ringgit at December 31.

85.63% of gross financing, equivalent to 41.93 billion ringgit, were based on tawarruq.

However, customer deposits dropped by 3.83% to 47.54 billion ringgit.


Bank Islam, Malaysia’s oldest standalone Shariah-compliant bank, held 65.5 billion ringgit in assets, equivalent to 87% of the Group’s assets.

The bank’s profit before zakat and tax (PBZT) dropped by 7.2% to 208.8 million ringgit compared to 225 million ringgit for the third-quarter of last year.

“The decrease in PBZT was mainly due to higher finance cost and net allowance for impairment on financing and advances, net of recoveries by8.5 million ringgit and 8.0 million ringgit respectively,” the Group said.


The Group’s takaful susbsidiary posted PBZT of 121.8 million ringgit for July-September, an increase of 38.7% as compared to 87.8 million ringgit for the same period last year.

“The increase in profit was mainly attributable to increase in net wakalah fee income,” said the Group.

Family takaful, its biggest business line, earned gross contributions of 543.7 million ringgit compared to 436.7 million in 2018’s third quarter.

The increase was mainly due to higher sales from credit-related products, said the Group.


The Group believes it will be able to maintain “a stable outlook on profitability” for Bank Islam.

It expects its takaful subsidiary to further expand its market share by the end of 2019.

“To support business growth and customer centricity, the company will continue its digital strategy to build the full digital ecosystem and to expand the business focus beyond credit-related business to reach out to the wide retail customer base of major partner banks,” wrote the Group.



alaysia orders inquiry over 'half-naked' tattoo show

Mon, December 2, 2019

Malaysia ordered an investigation on Monday (Dec 2) into what the government called a half-naked tattoo show held in the capital Kuala Lumpur, after pictures of heavily inked men and women circulated on social media in the Muslim-majority nation.

The three-day Tattoo Malaysia Expo, which started last Friday and drew participants from 35 countries, was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, the show's organizer said on its website.

But the ministry said this year's event violated its standards for the first time since it was first held in 2015, and vowed "firm action" against the organizers.

Pictures in Malaysian media blurred the private parts of men and women in the show.

"It's impossible for the ministry to approve any application for events that have obscene elements such as this, because it is not Malaysian culture, what more when the majority of Malaysians are Muslim," Mr Mohamaddin Ketapi, the minister of tourism, arts and culture, said in a statement.

"We will wait for the full investigation report... and will not hesitate to take legal action if they are found to have been in violation of set conditions."

One of the event's organizers, Mr Carlos Benny Majakil, told Reuters he had no comment on the issue.

The authorities in Malaysia, where ethnic Malay Muslims make up 60 percent of a population of 32 million, tend to lean towards religious and cultural conservatism.

A Malaysian religious court last month sentenced five men to jail, caning and fines for attempting gay sex. In September 2018, two women were caned for "attempting lesbian sex" in the east coast state of Terengganu.


Conservative Muslims rally peacefully in Indonesia amid tight security

Monday, 02 Dec 2019

JAKARTA, Dec 2 —Thousands of Indonesian Muslims from conservative groups held a peaceful rally in central Jakarta today, with a spokesman for one of the organisers calling for unity after a spike in religious tension followed elections last April.

Among the protest organisers was the Alumni 212 movement, which was behind big rallies held from 2016 to demand action against Jakarta’s former governor, a Christian eventually jailed for blasphemy in a case that drew international condemnation.

The crowd, many wearing white and carrying Islamic flags, began gathering for prayers at Jakarta’s National Monument from about 3 a.m., as more than 6,000 security forces, including police and military, stood on guard.

“The main message of this reunion is that Indonesia needs unity that can forget differences and friction that happened some time ago,” said Haikal Hassan, a spokesman for Alumni 212, which takes its name from an earlier Dec. 2 protest.

However, authorities were unfairly targeting some clerics, he said by telephone.

“We want Indonesia to progress with justice. And we feel that there’s injustice,” Hassan added.

The bloc of conservative Muslims also overwhelmingly backed an opposition challenge to President Joko Widodo in April’s vote, fuelling concerns over a deepening religious divide in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

Habib Rizieq, the leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), urged vigilance against future blasphemy cases in a speech by live video link from Saudi Arabia, where he has lived since 2017, after being named a suspect in several legal cases.

More than 12,000 people participated in the rally, said Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus, although organisers put the figure much higher.

Security analyst Stanislaus Riyanta said a decision by former opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, whom Widodo defeated in April’s poll, to join the cabinet as defence minister appeared to have undermined the 212 movement.

“The 212 reunion this time is weaker than the previous ones because it has lost some political momentum,” added the Jakarta-based Riyanta.

Prabowo, a former general, who had addressed a similar rally a year ago, did not attend this time.

The movement’s spokesman, Hassan, did not say how it would line up in future politically.

“We can’t give directions yet, because we don’t know where our politics is going,” he said. — Reuters



Hundreds of Indonesian Muslims attend Jakarta 212 rally

December 2, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Hundreds of Indonesian Muslims rallied at National Monument Park for the "212" reunion on Monday.

Rally-goers carried banners and later stood in prayers in areas surrounding the park.

Ishaq Mustaqim, a self-proclaimed International Youth Mentor and Islam convert, was among the notable figures who attended this year’s rally.

"This event has nothing to do with radicalism. We are good Muslims… Islam is about peace and Islam is about worshiping our God, Allah. This is the only thing we want to do. We want to go to paradise," he said.

The 212 reunion has been held annually since 2017 when it was called on to condemn former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, for blasphemy against Islam.



Malaysia tops Aussie list for border alerts

December 2, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are the most common nationality of people on Australia’s list of border alerts, accounting for 11.8% of all red flags in the past year, an Australian daily reports.

With 68,417 nationals subject to red flags, Malaysia tops even China which, with 58,724 citizens on the Person Alert List, saw a 23.6% increase this year.

According to The Australian, Malaysia, which recorded a 37.2% spike in the number of nationals flagged at borders, also tops New Zealand (43,470 list­ings), India (36,168) and Britain (28,770).

The database is maintained by Australia’s Department of Home Affairs.

The report said 35,760 Malaysians were on the list due to “suspect genuineness” of their plans to travel to Australia, while 12,934 were listed due to a “debt to commonwealth”.

Another 9,867 were listed as “overstayers” while 1,350 were listed for “breach of visa conditions”.

A border security expert from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who spoke to the daily attributed the increase in number of citizens listed from both Malaysia and China to Canberra’s scrutiny of would-be visitors from the two countries.

“I’m not surprised that that’s the case,” John Coyne was quoted as saying.

“There’s probably very good reasons for those increases and it maps against the intelligence publicly released in regards to onshore ­applications for temporary visas and protection visas – and, secondly, for violations of terms of employment. The two highest countries for both of those are China and ­Malaysia.”



Don’t drag out succession issue, Ramasamy warns PH

December 2, 2019

PETALING JAYA: DAP’s P Ramasamy has called for a speedy resolution to the handover of power from Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Anwar Ibrahim, warning that Pakatan Harapan (PH) will otherwise continue to suffer following the latest in its string of by-election defeats in Tanjung Piai last month.

In a statement, he said PH’s inability to resolve the transition issue had given the impression of “powerful vested interests” who want Mahathir to complete the full term as prime minister.

“The inconsistency on the power transition seems to have deleterious effects on PH as a whole,” he added.

“Amanah and PPBM have lost their Malay support. PKR is terribly divided. The non-Malays, particularly the Chinese, are deserting DAP.

“Whether PH can survive to win the next general election seems to depend on the succession matter.”

PH was soundly defeated in the Tanjung Piai by-election on Nov 16, losing to Barisan Nasional by over 15,000 votes.

The coalition has lost four of the nine by-elections held since it swept to power in the May 9 polls last year.

Ramasamy, who is Penang deputy chief minister II, said the “collateral damage” to the coalition could not be averted by holding post-mortems on PH’s defeat in Tanjung Piai or improving the performance of ministers and leaders.

“The longer the succession matter is dragged out without any resolution in sight, the longer PH is going to suffer.

“The leaders of PH component parties should not be in a state of delusion, as if it is only a matter of time before they win back the hearts and minds of the people.



Arab World


OIC counter-extremist center reaches 54m people on social media

02 December 2019

JEDDAH: The Sawt Al-Hikma Center (Voice of Wisdom) at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has reached 54 million people around the world through social media, distributing messages in three different languages: Arabic, English and French.

The center is considered the intellectual branch of the OIC in its fight against extremist speech. It was established in 2016 at the OIC’s headquarters to work on using media platforms to dismantle extremism, reveal its religious and intellectual concepts, call for tolerance and co-existence and reflect the true spirit of Islam.

Since its establishment, the center has focused its efforts on cyberspace, as the internet has become fertile ground for violent ideas and an environment that helps extremists spread their poison.

The center has launched 11 pages on social media, in three languages, publishing content prepared by specialists to deal with calls for extremism and violence in the name of religion and to challenge Islamophobia and those trying to distort Islam.

The center added that it has also worked on combatting extremist ideologies on the ground through conferences in Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the UAE. The symposiums have focused on examining and fighting terrorism, promoting intellectual security and spreading the values of tolerance and acceptance.

Now it has launched a new initiative: The “Samahet Din” (tolerance of religion) contest of short videos, to encourage young men and women to express themselves on camera.



Grand Imam of Al-Azhar  accuses Egyptian regime of oppression

December 2, 2019

Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al- Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb said the country’s largest religious establishment is subjected to an unprecedented campaign of persecution and media blockade by the country’s state-run newspapers and media outlets.

Al-Tayeb explained during a pre-recorded interview broadcasted on Channel One, on Saturday that it is only with great difficulty that the al- Azhar is allowed to publish an article in response to an article that insults it.

“It is very difficult for us to get only one second to speak in the media. There is a campaign against al-Azhar and this campaign would only serve the philosophy of the Islamic State and Daesh” he warned.

Al- Tayeb had previously criticised the rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, indirectly, when he warned of the severe repercussions of injustice.

Over the past few years, the number of civilians appearing before military courts have significantly increased, as well as the number of death sentences handed down by military courts.

Under the rule of President, Abdul Fattah al- Sisi, the Egyptian authorities have executed at least 179 people from 2014 to May 2019.



Iraqi Prime Minister resigns in deepening political crisis

December 1, 2019

Alissa J Rubin and Falih Hassan

Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi of Iraq formally submitted his resignation to Parliament on Saturday and asked lawmakers in a televised national address to quickly agree on a successor.

But Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation may not spell the end of the turmoil that has racked the nation over the past two months. Parliament is scheduled to meet Sunday and will vote on accepting his resignation, but it has yet to agree on an alternative.

“The resignation of the government is a method of peaceful handover of power in democratic systems,” Abdul-Mahdi said in his brief speech, adding that the government had tried to meet the demands of the country’s widening protest movement.

Protests driven by anger over political corruption and Iran’s influence over Iraqi politics — coupled with the government’s violent response — had put Abdul-Mahdi under intense pressure to step down. At least 400 people have been killed in the unrest, according to the United Nations and hospital sources.

Assuming Parliament accepts Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation, the formation of a new government could go quickly, but it will more likely take weeks, if not months. That realisation quickly dissolved protesters’ initial jubilation over Abdul-Mahdi’s announcement Friday that he would step down.

Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigns, iraq prime minister resigns, iraq protests, iraq political unrest, iraq news, indian express news

Anti-government protesters fly the Iraqi flag in Baghdad, October 28, 2019. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)

Abdul-Mahdi and his ministers would still serve in a caretaker government until President Barham Salih requests that the largest bloc in Parliament name a new prime minister and that person’s ministers are then approved by a majority. History shows that agreeing on a prime minister can be a long, arduous process of balancing competing political factions.

It became so protracted in 2018 that Iranian officials helped set up the current government, brokering an agreement that brought in Abdul-Mahdi and Salih as well as the Parliament speaker, Mohammed al-Halbousi.

One significant question is whether Iran will play the same role this time around. Since Iraqis are now openly expressing resentment toward Tehran, its direct involvement might be a liability.

Across the Shiite-dominated south of Iraq, as well as in the capital Baghdad, the chant “Out, Out Iran, Baghdad Remains Free” is part of the daily protests. If one thing is clear, the fact that Iraq is majority Shiite and so is Iran does not mean that Iraqi and Iranian Shiites have shared views.

In Najaf, a city that hosts several million Iranian pilgrims annually at its shrines and where Iranian clerical students train in its religious universities, the resentment of Tehran’s insertion into Iraqi affairs is running so high that protesters burned the Iranian Consulate there on Wednesday night.

Three days later, the walls of one office in the complex were still faintly warm from the flames. A wall of file cabinets had been burned to a shell and the papers that had been inside were little more than a pile of ashes. The door had been ripped off a safe.

Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigns, iraq prime minister resigns, iraq protests, iraq political unrest, iraq news, indian express news

Anti-government protesters set fire while security forces close Rasheed Street during clashes in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, November 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

In the courtyard, the smell of burned wires and rubber drifted in the air as half-blackened documents blew in the autumn breeze and a single, charred sandal lay on its side. A carton of lemons, most of them covered with ash, rolled about on the tiles.

The complex’s metal-frame buildings were so warped by the heat and looked so ruined that while they had not burned to the ground, their reconstruction would be a major undertaking.

No one was inside when the complex was set afire because the only two Iranian employees left through the back door when security guards realised they would not be able to hold off the protesters, said Abu Rusol, one of the guards.

Just a few hundred feet away, the shrine of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, a cleric assassinated in 2003, was a scene of tension on Saturday with protesters facing off against Shiite militiamen protecting the site.

Al-Hakim, although an Iraqi, spent years in exile in Iran and was part of the opposition to Saddam Hussein. Now his links to Iran have made his shrine a target of demonstrators.

Skirmishes continued at the shrine late Saturday afternoon. Protesters, who were largely unarmed, were coming into emergency treatment tents with gunshot wounds, said Muahin Yasseen, a fifth-year medical school student who had volunteered to help.

The United States — though it has sought political reforms in Iraq, especially on corruption — had wanted Abdul-Mahdi to remain in office, worried that his departure could lead to even more extensive bloodshed.

Abdul-Mahdi, however, has been unable to control the violence, and the pressure on him to step down has built for some time. He resisted until the latest spate of killings and a looming threat of a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

On Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the senior Shiite cleric in Iraq, urged Parliament to stop procrastinating or “the country will pay a high price, and everyone will regret it.”

It was in the hours after al-Sistani’s message that Abdul-Mahdi announced his intention to resign.



Amid protests, Iranian consulate in southern Iraq set on fire again

Dec 2, 2019

NAJAF: Demonstrators on Sunday set the Iranian consulate building in Iraq's southern city of Najaf on fire for the second time in a week as violent anti-government protests continue to rock the country's southern regions.

The Iranian consulate building in Najaf was set on fire on Wednesday as part of the protests in the city, which left more than 100 people injured.

Tehran lodged a diplomatic protest to Baghdad and Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamad Alhakim offered apologies to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

According to the Iraqi Shafaq news agency, the building was set ablaze today again.

Nationwide protests in Iraq began in early October, with people demanding the government's resignation, as well as economic reforms, better living conditions, social welfare and an end to corruption.

The unrest left reportedly over 400 people killed and thousands more injured.

Amid weeks of deadly anti-government protests in the country, Iraqi Parliament on Sunday approved Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's resignation during a parliament session held in Baghdad.



Iraqi Christians Warn Sweden of 'Islamist Rule'


While Swedish researchers have brushed aside the idea of an Islamic takeover despite a dramatic demographic change, they admitted the rise of Islamist indoctrination and increasing tensions.

Among Iraqi Christians there is a widespread belief that many European countries, such as Sweden and France, have “naively” received too many Muslims from the Middle East and now risk an increased Islamic influence to the point of Islamist rule, the Christian magazine Världen Idag reported.

“You lose control”, church worker Layla (a pseudonym for security reasons) from Iraqi Kurdistan told the magazine. Among Christian Iraqis like herself, she said, there is a belief that Sweden will turn Islamist in the future, because of the large immigration from Muslim countries.

Pastor Basil (also a pseudonym), who has met thousands of Yazidis and Christians fleeing from Daesh*, recalled the Muslim concept of taqiya, a precautionary dissimulation or denial of religious belief. According to him, it is frequently utilised by radical Muslims as well to hide their true intent.

According to Islamologist Rickard Lagervall of Lund University and Jönköping University, it is unlikely that Islamists would take over in Sweden any time soon, since they are a minority. Another reason is that Islamists are a divided group that includes not only Daesh sympathisers and jihadists, but also “puritan” Salafists who, he suggested, avoid politics. In addition, “ordinary” Muslims are a fragmented group as well, he stressed.

“Within the Muslim background group, many are not necessarily Muslim practitioners”, he stressed.

At the same time, Lagervall admitted that radical Muslims try to influence moderate Muslims to become more devoted.

The number of Muslims in Sweden has spiked dramatically in a matter of decades. In 1950, there were merely 500 Muslims in the Scandinavian country. Today, their share is estimated to have exceeded 800,000, amounting to 8.1 percent of the population, according to the Pew Research Centre.

A 2018 survey by the very same institution expected the number of Muslims in Sweden to reach 4.5 million, by way of demographics and immigration, prompting the Christian newspaper Dagen to ask whether the Swedish cross will be replaced by a crescent.

Aje Carlbom, associate professor of social anthropology at Malmö University, ventured it was an exaggeration that Islam will take over Europe. He stressed that many Muslims become secularised and thus have fewer children. At the same time, he envisioned clear tensions between Swedes and Muslim communities, especially radical ones.

* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other countries



Saudi Arabia recovers 52,000 illegally taken priceless artifacts

December 02, 2019


RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has recovered thousands of illegally taken antiquities.

SCTH is encouraging citizens and residents inside and outside of Saudi Arabia to hand over national antiquities. This is so the items can be displayed in museums and exhibitions to highlight their historical value, since they represent essential evidence for the study of civilizations that once prevailed in the Kingdom.

SCTH has formed a special committee to work on the inventory of lost artifacts and recover them in coordination with the authorities at the Saudi ministries of interior and foreign affairs.

These efforts resulted in the return of about 32,000 national artifacts from outside the Kingdom, and about 20,000 national artifacts from within it, according to the SCTH website.

Dr. Nayef Al-Qanoor, director general of the Registration and Protection of Antiquities department in SCTH, said that the archaeological survey is considered the pillar of archaeological works in the Kingdom. The search began with a small group of Saudi researchers.

“It has initiated since the 1980s the establishment of an organization responsible for the antiquities of the Kingdom and the enactment of laws and regulations to protect national cultural property,” Al-Qanoor told Arab News. “Since that time, that organization began to inventory and document national antiquities from within the Kingdom and abroad that have been taken illegally.”

Al-Qanoor said that SCTH has missing antiquities that are documented and registered on their database.

There is a red list on the commission’s website of stolen national and cultural property with a picture and a description of each item and when it was stolen.

He said that SCTH is working in cooperation with its partners to track down the antiquities. “Most of the national heritage artifacts that have been returned came from the US,” he said.

Al-Qanoor said that there is a joint cooperation agreement between the commission and Saudi Aramco “in returning national antiquities that were taken out of the Kingdom illegally.”

The antiquities were voluntarily returned from American citizens who worked in the Kingdom in the 1960s or from their relatives in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Others have also voluntarily returned national antiquities from France, Britain and Canada.

Al-Qanoor said that SCTH honors those who returned the antiquities.

Arthur Clark, assistant editor at AramcoWorld and editor of the twice-yearly magazine Al-Ayyam Al-Jamilah, became involved with the Antiquities Homecoming Project through Saudi Aramco’s King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran in late 2011.

“The center launched the Antiquities Homecoming Project in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to encourage Aramco retirees and family members to repatriate archaeological antiquities that they had collected during their years in the Kingdom,” Clark told Arab News.

Aramco’s Houston-based subsidiary publishes Saudi Aramco’s magazine for retirees, Al-Ayyam Al-Jamilah, of which Clark is editor. “Through the magazine, we reached out to annuitants around the globe for help in locating objects of national historical interest,” he said.

Clark has worked with Ithra in its cooperative agreement with SCTH arranging for antiquities to be returned to Saudi Arabia.  

Clark said that he had helped to return hundreds of antique pieces. “They range from hundreds of arrowheads and other stone tools from the Empty Quarter desert to a 1,000-year-old clay pot from Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province, basalt grinding stones from Mada’in Saleh, and a neo-Babylonian seal stamp and Roman-era glass bracelets, also from the Eastern Province,” he said.

Clark said that he is not an antique collector but likes to view antiquities on-site in the Kingdom or in its museums. “My work in contacting retirees and family members has turned up many ‘unexpected antiques’,” he said.

According to Clark, “each piece is fascinating.”

“One of the most intriguing (antiquities), because of its age (and the journey it made), was a clay bowl found near Jubail by Marian Ferguson, who lived in Dhahran with her husband Kenneth and their son Ken from 1953-1970,” he said.

Daniel Potts, a highly regarded scholar of Arabian archaeology, said that it was almost certainly a Mesopotamian bevel-rim bowl dating to 3400-3000 BCE “and, if so, the first one to turn up in the Eastern Province.”

“Another notable ‘find’ was what looks to be a bead-drilling tool — perhaps the first of its kind— found in the Eastern Province and donated with other artifacts by retiree Mark Goldsmith,” Clark said.

Al-Qanoor said that the removal of antiquities from the Kingdom took place before the establishment of an official body concerned with national heritage. “These events were at a time when there was not full knowledge of the importance of national heritage, which led to some of them exiting the country illegally,” he said.

Al-Qanoor said that all shops with heritage antiquities in the Kingdom are subject to regulations. There was continuous monitoring of these markets, and the commission worked with their owners from the perspective of sustainable partnership.

He said that all returned antiquities pieces come back via official channels and underwent a series of procedures before they are restored — checking the authenticity of the piece and if it belongs to the civilizations of Saudi Arabia.

“This is followed by the initiation of formal restoration procedures in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other partners,” Al-Qanoor said.

He said that most of the items returned are in their original and intact condition. Some have suffered minor fractures and have been treated by the Department of Restoration of the Heritage and Museums Sector.

Mohammed Al-Maghthawi, a Saudi expert in early Islamic inscriptions, has discovered more than 3,000 early Islamic inscriptions and has read, studied and linked many of them to historical sources.

He contributed to the discovery and registration of three archaeological sites on the old caravan route called the path of the prophets and was registered on the National Archaeological Register.

Al-Maghthawi handed in three pieces of early Islamic inscriptions from the 7th and 8th century AD and received an award from Prince Sultan bin Salman, former president of SCTH, for his discoveries.

“The Kingdom has many archaeological and historical sites, inscriptions and drawings that are not found in any other country. We are working with SCTH under the regulations and instructions to preserve this valuable national heritage,” he said.

Hamdan Al-Harbi, an expert in the historical antiquities found in the villages crossing prophets pathway and migration (Hijrah) and caravans between Makkah and Madinah, found tombstones from a village underground, and was the first to see many of these historical tombstones when a flood swept through part of the village in 1992.



Dhahran conference to outline new vision for Arab world

December 02, 2019

DHAHRAN: The annual FIKR 17 conference begins today at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The Arab Thought Foundation has organized the four-day event in collaboration with Ithra in Dhahran. The theme of this year’s conference is “Outlining a New Arab Vision.”  Around 60 leading literary figures and decision-makers are scheduled to attend the event.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who is also the chairman of the Arab Thought Foundation, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Prof. Henry Uwait, the foundation’s director, will also attend the conference.

The foundation aims to invite leading thinkers to come up with innovative solutions to social issues and to enrich Arab thought in light of the modern global challenges.

Ithra Director Fatmah Al-Rashid explained that Ithra’s participation in the conference is in line with its vision to develop innovation in the fields of literature and culture. Al-Rashid also emphasized that Ithra promotes the importance of meaningful dialogue and an exchange of ideas. AN Dhahran



Monshaat offers SR691 million government fee refunds to Saudi SMEs

December 02, 2019

RIYADH: The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) General Authority (Monshaat) has paid SR691 million ($185 million) to 7,500 small- and medium-sized companies as part of the government fee refunding initiative.

Monshaat’s Gov. Saleh Al-Rasheed revealed the details during a meeting organized by the Riyadh Chamber in the presence of its chairman, Ajlan Al-Ajlan, and several businesspeople, professionals and business stakeholders.

Al-Ajlan highlighted the importance of raising the contribution of this group of enterprises to the gross domestic product.

Al-Rasheed said that the most prominent initiatives of “ease of doing business” in cooperation with the Labor Ministry were to issue nine visas to full-time employees of enterprises, provide a grace period of one year for registration and to enroll newly appointed Saudi employees in the Nitaqat program as soon as being registered in the social security fund. Other initiatives include the Saudization of leadership positions and supporting the employment of those enrolled in the “Incentive” program and other initiatives.

Al-Rasheed said that Monshaat had established business support centers that formed an integrated environment to provide the training programs, consultancy and guidance services needed by entrepreneurs. SPA Riyadh





Shia Muslim jailed for attack against Sunni mosques in Birmingham

A Shia Muslim has been jailed for three years and nine months for vandalism attacks on five mosques in Birmingham.

Arman Rezazadeh used a sledgehammer to smash windows and doors in Perry Barr, Aston and Erdington on March 21.

The 34-year-old, who is of Iranian descent, admitted religiously aggravated criminal damage.

Judge Michael Chambers QC said Rezazadeh had been “motivated by religious hatred” and all the mosques he attacked were used by Sunni Muslims. Passing sentence, Judge Chambers said the offending was “planned and premeditated.”

“Birmingham has a long history of religious toleration and harmony, not only between the faiths but within the faiths as well. You quite deliberately and seriously offended against that,” he said.

“The harm in this case has been extremely substantial – the impact on the local and wider Muslim community has been huge.”

Rezazadeh caused damage put at more than £11,000 in the attacks at Witton Islamic Centre, Al-Habib Trust and Jamia Masjid Ghausia, all in Aston, Masjid Madrassa Faizul Islam in Perry Barr and Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington.

On March 21 at 1.25am he first struck at the Witton Islamic Centre in Aston. CCTV showed him smashing through a window with a sledgehammer, which then fell into the building as he lost grip.

He returned 30 minutes later and continued the attack, leaving all outside windows broken and causing £3,100 of damage.

Just minutes later, he struck at the Masjid Madrassa Faziul Islam Centre in Perry Barr smashing three more windows, causing £300 of damage.

At 2.15am he then went onto attack the Al-Habib Trust in Aston. Once again, he was caught on CCTV as he smashed nine windows, causing £1,000 of damage.

At 2.30am he struck at the Jamia Masjid Ghausia, smashing five windows and causing £5,000 of damage.

Finally, at 3am Rezazadeh smashed the front windows of the Jam-E-Masjid Qiblah Hadhrat Sahib Gulhar Shareef in Erdington, smashing windows at the side of the mosque.

The next day he handed himself in at Birmingham Central police station after a major hate crime investigation was launched.

In interview, Rezazadeh behaved erratically and initially denied responsibility. He later said he disagreed with the teachings of an imam at another mosque, and said he only handed himself in so he could have an audience with a judge to tell him about the imam.

Rezazadeh was detained under the Mental Health Act, before being deemed fit to stand trial. On October 31, he pleaded guilty to five charges of religiously aggravated damage and was bailed to return for sentencing.

Prosecutor Tom Walkling said the defendant had been drinking alcohol to celebrate the Iranian new year on the eve of the attacks and that he had a history of mental issues linked to cannabis use.

Javid Iqbal, of the Witton Islamic Centre, said the attack had upset the congregation and it was fortunate no-one was seriously hurt.



UK Labour leader would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen

December 1, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he would stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen if he wins an election this month.

“Labour will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and work to end the war there, not actively support it as the Conservative government has done,” Corbyn said in a speech setting out Labour’s foreign policy objectives.

“Labour’s new internationalism means we will create a peace and conflict-prevention fund and invest an extra 400 million pounds ($513 million) to expand our diplomatic capacity and increase oversight of arms exports to ensure we’re not fuelling conflicts, as in Yemen and in Israel and the Palestinian territories,” he said in the speech in the northern English city of York.



Pope Francis condemns Iraq’s ‘harsh’ crackdown on protesters

December 1, 2019

“I am following the situation in Iraq with concern. It is with pain that I have learned of the protest demonstrations of the past days that were met with a harsh response, causing tens of victims,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis on Sunday criticised Iraq’s crackdown on anti-government protests, which have led to the deaths of more than 400 people since they erupted in Baghdad and other cities in October.

“I am following the situation in Iraq with concern. It is with pain that I have learned of the protest demonstrations of the past days that were met with a harsh response, causing tens of victims,” Francis said at his weekly Sunday blessing and message.

Iraqi security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades against protesters and last week saw some of the bloodiest incidents since the demonstrations began, with scores of people killed particularly in the southern cities of Nassiriya and Najaf.

Francis, who has said he wants to visit Iraq next year, told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square that he was praying for the dead and wounded and invoking God for peace in the country.

The unrest, which has killed mostly demonstrators, amounts to the biggest challenge for Iraq since Islamic State insurgents seized vast swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory in 2014.

It pits mostly young, disaffected Shi’ite protesters against a Shi’ite-dominated government backed by Iran and accused of squandering Iraq’s oil wealth while infrastructure and living standards deteriorate.



Relax: The London Bridge Jihad Murderer Was “Deradicalized"

Mon Dec 2, 2019

ITV News reported Saturday that Usman Khan, the devout Muslim who murdered two people and injured three others in a stabbing rampage on London Bridge Friday “penned a letter from his jail cell asking to take part in a deradicalisation course to become ‘a good British citizen.’” And predictably, British authorities, ever anxious to avoid charges of “Islamophobia,” fell for it hook, line, and sinker. He was even at a deradicalization event when his jihad attack began.

Khan’s plaintive cry for help came in October 2012, “after his conviction for plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange as a member of an al Qaida-inspired group.” While he was in prison, he wrote to British authorities, saying he wanted to “learn Islam and its teachings” through a “deradicalidation [sic] course.” Khan added: “I would like to do such a course so I can prove to the authorities, my family and soicity (sic) in general that I don’t carry the views I had before my arrest and also I can prove that at the time I was immature, and now I am much more mature and want to live my life as a good Muslim and also a good citizen of Britain.”

His request was granted. In fact, Khan was in Cambridge University at a deradicalization event, about to share his own story of how he discarded the twisted, hijacked Islam of jihad groups worldwide and embraced the true, peaceful version, when he left to go on his stabbing spree on the London Bridge. Deradicalization in action!

Nor is Khan by any means the first “deradicalized” Muslim to return to the jihad. Deradicalization programs have been implemented elsewhere, notably in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s deradicalization program is worse than a failure: terror analyst Paul Sperry wrote in the New York Post several years ago that “counterterrorism experts have long suspected Saudi Arabia’s ‘rehabilitation’ center for terrorists does a poor job of de-radicalizing jihadists. But a Saudi detainee at Guantanamo Bay now reveals it’s actually a recruiting and training factory for jihad.”

When asked about the Saudi deradicalization program by his parole board at Guantanamo, al-Sharbi responded: “True. You are 100 percent right, there is a strong — externally, a strong — de-radicalization program. But make no mistake, underneath there is a hidden radicalization program. There is a very hidden strong — way stronger in magnitude — broader in financing, in all that.”

The record shows that al-Sharbi was right. UPI reported in February 2009 that “eleven Saudis released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are on a list of 85 wanted terrorism suspects made public by the Saudi Interior Ministry, officials said. Saudi officials said the 11 former Guantanamo Bay detainees underwent a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists and are thought to have fled the country, joining terrorist groups elsewhere.” In June 2010 a Saudi official revealed that twenty-five graduates of the Saudi deradicalization program had returned to jihad.

That same month, Indonesia’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, admitted that his country’s deradicalization program was a failure: “We have to say that generally the program has failed. There are convicts who have successfully been re-integrated back into society, leaving behind their old ways. But successes are few compared to those who remain unreformed. It is extremely difficult to reform terrorists because we are trying to destroy years of indoctrination and misinterpretation of Islam.”

One wonders why it is so difficult. If their misinterpretation of Islam is so clear, one would think it wouldn’t be all that hard to explain that to jihadists, who are generally very devout and anxious to the right Islamic thing.

Unless, of course, the “misinterpretation of Islam” that the jihadists use to justify their actions and make recruits is based on a broad, mainstream tradition in Islam — a tradition that is yet to be successfully challenged on Islamic grounds by self-proclaimed moderates.

And in the West? The Washington Post reported in February 2017 that the French government’s deradicalization program was, according to a French Senate report, a “total fiasco.”

This universal failure is no surprise. Deradicalization programs are based on a false premise: that jihadis are misunderstanding Islam and misinterpreting the Qur’an, and can simply be shown the error of their ways. If the true teachings of Islam are peaceful, then all that needs to be done is show the jihadis how they’re overlooking all the peace, and all will be well. But since the Qur’an and Sunnah are full of commands to make war against and subjugate unbelievers, the idea that jihadis can be “deradicalized” by reference to them is just a myth told to Infidel authorities to lull them into complacency.

As Usman Khan demonstrated Friday on the London Bridge, we’re likely to be paying for this myth for a long, long time.



The Conservatives should not give up on Muslim voters

Fiyaz Mughal

Amongst many leaflets posted and campaigns found around this general election, we can see groups setting out to ‘mobilise the Muslim vote’. I find the term stomach-churning. I’m a director of Faith Matters, which seeks to foster good relationships between all faith communities. I don’t believe in seeing people’s political choices as some form of block activity or vote: religious, racial, or anything else. But identity politics is, unfortunately, on the rise – and we can see plenty of it in this election campaign.

I’ve seen a mailshot from one group that declares: “we kicked out 8 Islamophobic MPs in 3 general elections. Help us kick out 14 more in this one!” I was all agog to find out who these ‘Islamophobic MP’s’ were, what evidence had been found to unmask them. Then I saw the list: it includes Amber Rudd, the former Home Secretary and Iain Duncan Smith. Now, you can call these former Cabinet members many things, but ‘Islamophobic’ is not a charge that has any relevancy.

But the Conservatives certainly do have a problem with support in Muslim communities. The British Election Study suggests that 85pc of Muslims voted Labour in the last general election and the Tories have done very little to engage with such voters this time around. The focus has been only on ‘getting Brexit done”. Perhaps it’s assumed such messages will resonate within Black and Minority Ethnic groups as much as anyone else ) (remember that many had deep concerns about EU membership expressed before the Brexit vote).

There are plenty Muslim votes to be won, if the Tories were to try a bit harder. A great many of them espouse core conservative values: the importance of hard work and decent education. Law and order forms an essential backbone to how they live their lives and they carry with them a respect for their country – our country – the United Kingdom. Tackling rising levels of anti-Muslim hatred, better life chances and opportunities, feeling safe and secure and supporting entrepreneurism are all ‘pull points’ that Conservatives can use to draw in Muslim voters.

In fact, the Tories have done substantial amounts to confront anti-Muslim hatred, but almost no attempts seem to be made to communicate this. The national anti-Muslim hate monitoring project that I helped set up, Tell MAMA, was supported under David Cameron and his successor. Much was done to tackle anti-Muslim hatred at a street level, raise awareness of anti-Muslim hate with press agencies and ensure that good practice in challenging and countering anti-Muslim hate was disseminated. As faith minister, Lord Bourne was passionate about countering anti-Muslim hatred. But he has hardly been utilised in this campaign, meaning that he has few chances to talk about what was achieved. Such missed opportunities will make it harder for Conservatives to tap into the young social activism that is so becoming embedded in large sections of Muslim communities today.

It makes no sense for the Conservatives to allow themselves to be on the back foot with Muslim communities. It makes sense to reach out, engage, recruit, mobilse and energise young British Muslims with hope, a sense of dignity and with equality and transparency embedded into the heart of the Party. The Tories might argue that they have done a lot – but it is also public perception that matters. They need to talk a lot more about what they do.

For my part, I’ve made it clear that I can never support  a Jeremy Corbyn-led government. His choice of political ‘friends’ make clear that our values as a country will be at stake should he win, especially if he ushers in groups whose ideologies are autocratic, divisive and polarising. I have challenged Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups, Islamists and far-right extremists for decades, because they are ideologically and physically a threat to our nation’s soul. But as the recent rise in support for the Labour Party demonstrates, not everyone sees it this way.

It’s shocking to read that just 7pc of Jewish voters intend to back Labour at this election. But it’s also alarming to see studies suggesting that just 10pc of Muslims backed the Tories in the last election. Surely a one-nation Conservative Party should be shocked at such low support in any section of the population? And surely it’s worth the effort to win back any such voters? It will need drive, determination and energy. But if Brexit can be done, winning over large sections of Muslim communities can also be done.

Fiyaz Mughal is the Director of Faith Matters and Founder of Muslims Against Antisemitism



The Islamists amongst us: rehabilitation or indefinite detention?

December 1, 2019

“Enough is enough,” said Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of the Islamist slaughter of seven innocent people on London Bridge in June 2017. “We must not and cannot pretend that things can continue as they are,” she explained, and she went on to talk of the “evil ideology of Islamist extremism, that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism”. There had been far too much tolerance of extremism, she said, and an antidote was more urgent than ever: “It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence, and make them understand that our values, pluralistic British values, are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.”

Usman Khan, disciple of Anjem Choudary and convicted terrorist, has killed two more people on London Bridge. He was out of prison on licence, wearing a tag so he could be monitored. He had served just half of his time, and the law (as it stood at the time of his sentence) afforded him the luxury of mandatory parole, as it did with Choudary, who was released last year. There is no parole board to persuade or dupe into believing that they have repented of their evil ways: liberty was their statutory right. Despite Theresa May’s overtures of urgency and intolerance of the “evil ideology of Islamist extremism”, Usman Khan was free to attend a Cambridge University conference at London Bridge, where he killed two more innocent people.

As many as 70 convicted terrorists released from prison could now be plotting London Bridge III in their quest to establish the British Caliphate.

How do you “turn people’s minds” away from their evil Wahhabi ideology, when they are persuaded it is the path to righteousness and glory? How do you “make them understand” that our heretical values and blasphemous beliefs are superior to their sacred revelation? How do you teach devout Islamists that “pluralistic British values” are a better way of life and a surer path to salvation than the example of their prophet Mohammed?

How do you open their minds to the possibility that Mohammed was wrong?

How do you teach a Roman Catholic that theirs is not the ‘One True Church’ founded by Jesus Christ, and that the Magisterium errs in matters of faith? How do you teach a Protestant that there is no such thing as a personal relationship with God through Christ, and that the Reformation was a profound mistake? How do you teach Jews that there is not only one God, and that the Law of Moses has been supplanted by a dispensation of grace? How do you teach Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists that enlightenment does not liberate the soul to any kind of nirvana, and that reincarnation is a deceitful bondage?

Would a few years in prison with a mandatory course in “pluralistic British values” really change the theological mind or the spiritual discernment of the devout, pious and zealous soul who is utterly convinced of the justice and righteousness of his sacred mission?

If not, why are politicians, lawyers and the media all currently arguing about what went wrong in the sentencing and ‘rehabilitation’ of Usman Khan, when the root of the Islamist problem is theological, historical and spiritual as well as social and political?

You don’t change hearts and minds with a few years in prison, do you? Doesn’t persecution tend to reinforce religious conviction and inspire a greater sense of unity in divine righteousness? What kuffar programme of Islamist ‘de-radicalisation’ is going to be assuredly effectual against those who believe themselves to be true and faithful Muslims, prepared to die for their devotion to the cause of Mohammed in accordance with the will of Allah to usher in the Caliphate?

Like Theresa May, you may believe Islamism to be “a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth”, so how do you educate, indoctrinate or inculcate the Islamist mind into ‘pure’ Islam and unadulterated Islamic truth? In order to encourage ‘moderate’ (/’pure’) Islam, its theology must be clearly defined and its creed codified. Is someone (a government ‘Faith Czar’?) going to nail a liberal-democratic 95 theses to the door of every mosque? Who is going to teach this ‘reformed’ and ‘moderate’ Islam that embraces abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage if, as one presumes, this ‘moderate’ Islam must espouse equality, tolerance and mutual respect?

The concept of the Caliphate is as intrinsic to Islamic theology as the New Jerusalem is to Christian eschatology. Certainly, the political foundations and moral precepts of the Caliph are disputed across and within the divergent strains of sharia, but you cannot challenge the variably apprehended values of the Caliphate by enforcing ‘British values’ any more than you can abolish divergent understandings of holiness, justice and mercy from the New Jerusalem. If there is no certain or sure way to rehabilitate the Islamist mind or reform their evil ideology, why are they allowed out of prison on licence, wearing a tag? If a path to restorative justice is not easy to discern, doesn’t that just leave retribution? Shouldn’t the foreign-born Islamists amongst be swiftly repatriated, and those that are home-grown be subject to indefinite detention? Or is enough not really enough?



Russia does not need US’ permission for relations with Iran: Envoy

December 1, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran Levan Dzhagaryan said on Sunday that cooperation between Tehran and Moscow does not need the US’ permission.

Naming his country independent, in an interview with the Press TV, the envoy underlined that Russia does not need permission of the US or any other country for continuing ties with Iran.

He evaluated Iran-Russia future relations positive saying that “the Presidents of the two countries will regularly meet each other on various occasions and discuss different issues.”

“Fortunately, we are witnessing various mutual agreements signed on economy, politics, and culture,” he added.

Addressing the probable measure of the US and its allies for referring Iran’s file to the UN Security Council, Dzhagaryan said “Russia, China, and other European countries will try to prevent this negative scenario. The whole world knows that this treaty is in jeopardy, and the only country responsible for the disaster is the US. We condemn the US’ withdrawal from this international agreement. The Americans violated international law in this respect, and Iran was forced to take required action because it had no other choice. The JCPOA provided no interests for Iran.”

The Russian ambassador reiterated that his country will continue its cooperation with Iran on the construction of nuclear sites in Bushehr as well as other projects including electrification of Garmsar-Incheboroun railway, establishment of a thermal power plant in Hormozgan province and etc.

Rejecting the US statements claiming that Iran-China-Russia cooperation will ignite another war in the region, he said “they are baseless accusations since it was the US who led Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan into wars.”

“I suggest Americans to have a look back to their measures in the past years to find out which country puts regional security at risk,” he added.



North America


US: 11 shot on edge of French Quarter in New Orleans, say police

December 1, 2019

New Orleans police say 11 people were hit in an early morning shooting on the edge of the city’s famed French Quarter.

A police release says two people are in critical condition and no arrests have been made. Police Supt. Shaun Ferguson tells The New Orleans Advocate/The Times-Picayune that a person of interest has been detained.

Police say 10 people were taken to two hospitals and an 11th was a walk-in. Further details haven’t been released.

The shooting took place on a busy commercial block of Canal Street that has streetcar tracks and is near many hotels. Ferguson says police quickly responded to the scene as patrols were heightened for this weekend’s Bayou Classic, the annual Thanksgiving weekend rivalry football game between Grambling State and Southern University that’s played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.



US tried to rescue us 6 times: Taliban prisoner

Dec 2, 2019

SYDNEY:An Australian teacher held captive with an American colleague by the Taliban for more than three years believes US special forces tried and failed six times to free them.

Timothy Weeks was released last month in a prisoner swap along with Kevin King, ending an ordeal that began with their abduction in 2016 outside the American University in Kabul, where they worked. Weeks, 50, told a news conference on Sunday he believed that US navy SEAL teams tried repeatedly to rescue them, sometimes missing them only by “hours” after the two hostages were moved to other locations by their captors.

“I believe... that they came in six times to try to get us,” he said. One attempt came in April this year. Weeks said he was woken at 2am (local time) by his guards, who told him they were under attack from Islamic State group fighters, and moved him into a tunnel.

“I believe now that it was the navy SEALs,” Weeks said. Weeks said he and King were shifted through various remote locations in Afghanistan and Pakistan throughout their captivity. He also said some Taliban guards he had encountered were “lovely people”. “I don’t hate them at all,” he said. “And some of them, I have great respect for, and great love for, almost.” He added: “I know alot of people don’t admit this, but for me, they were soldiers. And soldiers obey the commands of their commanders. (They) don’t get a choice.”



Why Islam Is The World's Fastest-Growing Religion

July 17, 2017

While the global population is expected to grow 32 percent by 2060, the number of Muslims is expected to grow 70 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. In the second half of this century, the number of Muslims is projected to surpass the number of Christians around the world.

Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett), associate director of research and senior demographer at Pew Research Center, joins Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson with more on what's behind the growth.

Interview Highlights

On why the global Muslim population is growing so rapidly

"Muslims are the youngest major religious group in the world. They have a median age of 24. And Muslims have more children than people in any other group. About three children per woman who's Muslim, compared to about 2.2 children per woman who's not Muslim in the world."

"People of course do change religious faiths, and we've measured religious switching, but for Muslims the story as far as we can tell is really about natural increase: a lot more Muslims being born than are dying in any given year."

On people changing their religious identity

"We've studied a couple dozen Muslim-majority countries, and we don't see much change in religious identity in those countries. In Egypt, for example, most people who grew up Christian retain that identity as adults, and the same for those who grew up Muslim. There are some restrictions on switching faith in Muslim-majority countries. You might be stigmatized or face legal consequences for apostasy for changing faith. So that's a factor that they limit what we can capture. But the big change in terms of religious switching in the world is from people who grew up Christian to those who now identify with no religion. And that population of people who claim no religion is growing a lot through religious switching, not through fertility. Those folks tend to have fewer children than people who have a religious affiliation."

"Muslims are the youngest major religious group in the world. They have a median age of 24. And Muslims have more children than people in any other group." Conrad Hackett

On what Islam's growth means for the world

"One way of thinking about it is we have this rapidly secularizing West, places like the United States and Europe, more people are becoming unaffiliated. And then we have this population of the rapidly growing rest of the world, places like Africa — where almost everyone continues to identify with a religion — and the number of people there is multiplying greatly. By 2060, four out of 10 of the world's Christians will live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to our projections, for example. There's a big geographic shift underway in terms of where the world's Christians live, and the population of people who are religious increasingly are living outside of Europe, North America."

On the growth of the Muslim population in the U.S.

"The Muslim population is growing in the United States. We project that by the year 2050, there will be more Muslims than [Jews] or Hindus or Buddhists in the U.S. Currently, about 1 percent of the U.S. population is Muslim, and that's gonna increase by a couple of percentage points in the decades to come. And that's growing because Muslims in the U.S. — like Muslims worldwide — are younger than other major religious groups and having more children, and also have been growing through immigration and, we expect, are likely to continue to do so."





World must not forget Iran’s detained protesters

December 01, 2019


Although demonstrations against the Islamic Republic generally grab international attention, less focus is placed on the situation after the protests end and the policies the Iranian regime pursues following its successful suppression of widespread demonstrations.

Every wave of protests has further questioned the legitimacy of the regime and challenged its hold on power. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the Iranian leaders, protests are a good opportunity to unleash a sweeping crackdown on their opponents. For example, during the 2018 protests, about 7,000 people were arrested but, soon after the regime silenced the protesters with brute force, the international community appeared to have forgotten about the plight of those captured by the authorities.

The Iranian leaders have declined to report how many people were arrested and killed during last month’s protests. This is a classic strategy employed by the authorities in order to hide the scope of the ongoing crackdown and to impose fear in society. Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, accurately pointed out that: “Keeping families in the dark about the fate of their loved ones while ratcheting up an atmosphere of fear and retribution is a deliberate government strategy to stifle dissent.”

Human rights groups believe that at least 140 people were killed and thousands were arrested during the recent public display of discontent in more than 100 locations across Iran. Iranian officials have announced that at least 97 people identified as “leaders” or “influential actors” have been arrested. Those arrested are most likely to be among the younger members of the population, women and university students.

The international community must pay close attention to the domestic situation in Iran after protests are violently crushed. It is also critical to continue shedding light on the fate of the detainees. The regime generally labels protesters as rioters, foreign conspirators or political dissidents. This gives the authorities the power to send them to the Revolutionary Courts and keep them in notorious political jails such as Evin Prison.

Iran’s Revolutionary Courts are known for their lack of due process and for denying detainees access to lawyers. Detainees generally face ambiguous charges such as endangering the national security of the government, attempting to overthrow the government or conspiring with “enemies” and foreigners.

These courts are also known for passing harsh sentences, which range from long-term solitary confinement to execution. Several Iranian officials have already recommended the government sentence protesters to death. The representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office in Khuzestan Province, Mohammed Ali Mousavi Jazayeri, told the official Persian language IRNA news agency that “rioters who used the increase in fuel prices to come to the street and damage public property were trained by foreigners and… should be executed.” The Persian language newspaper Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Khamenei, wrote: “There are reports that suggest judicial authorities consider execution by hanging as the destiny for the rioters.” It is worth noting that the act of insulting Khamenei or chanting “Death to Khamenei” is punishable by death.

The Iranian regime is most likely also resorting to various methods of torture. For example, following the extensive protests in 2009, reports emerged from a specific detention center, Kahrizak, where detained protesters were tortured and raped. Several detainees died there, according to human rights groups. Two major institutions will be playing crucial roles in this regard: The Ministry of Intelligence and the judiciary, which are both dominated by hard-liners.

In addition, the regime is attempting to extract forced confessions by threatening detainees and their families. In such situations, detainees are normally required to state that they were cooperating with foreign governments, spying, and inciting anti-government protests. These “confessions” are videotaped and broadcast to the rest of the world in order to justify the harsh sentences and buttress the Iranian regime’s argument that the demonstrations were acts of foreign “sedition,” while proving that the regime continues to enjoy a high level of domestic popularity. Iran’s state television channels have already broadcast several such coerced confessions.

Some people also die in detention centers because of the torture, and the regime attempts to brush off these deaths as “suicides” without providing any details.

Other detainees will most likely be lashed in public in order to send a strong message to their peers that demonstrations against the regime will not be tolerated. Family members will also be threatened and warned against speaking to the media or writing posts about their situation on social media.

As the Iranian regime is unleashing its sweeping crackdown, the international community must put pressure on the authorities to stop their campaign of oppression and release innocent detainees.

*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh



Israeli protesters demand Netanyahu resign amid corruption charges

By Deutsche Welle

December 1, 2019

A large crowd gathered in Tel Aviv late Saturday, waving Israeli flags and demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation.

The 70-year-old last week became the first sitting head of government in Israel’s history to be indicted with fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

Protesters at the rally, organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, held banners describing Netanyahu as a “corrupt” leader and calling for a “strong Israel, strong democracy”.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the charges against him as part of “an attempted coup.” He is not required to step down unless he is convicted, but the charges against him have thrown Israeli politics into turmoil and opened up divisions in the country.

On Tuesday, about 5,000 people held a demonstration in Tel Aviv in support of Netanyahu, who, after a decade in office, is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

Israel is in the midst of a crisis after two parliamentary elections this year ended in political deadlock. Voters will have to head to the polls for a third time if no government is formed before a December 11 deadline.

Netanyahu is also facing a leadership challenge from a fellow member of his own conservative right-wing Likud party, former Education Minister Gideon Saar. A recent survey of 1,513 registered Likud members conducted by Direct Polls indicated that 53% plan to support Netanyahu in the party primary election due in six weeks, while 40% back Saar.

If Netanyahu is replaced, the new Likud leader would be the party’s candidate in the likely third parliamentary election.



Lebanon stops migrant boat carrying 34 Syrian refugees

Dec 2, 2019

BEIRUT: Lebanon's army has said that it stopped a boat carrying 34 Syrian refugees who were trying to leave the protest-hit country.

It stopped the boat near the coast of the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, it said in a statement on Sunday.

The army said it arrested a Lebanese citizen who was trying to smuggle them out of the country, adding that there were five Lebanese on board the vessel.

The boat's final destination was not immediately clear.

Lebanon, a small Mediterranean country of some 4.5 million people, says it hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees.

Those escaping Lebanon by boat have often tried to cross into Europe through Turkey or Cyprus, some 100 km away.

In October, Lebanon said it agreed to work with Cyprus to prevent migrants from reaching its shores.

Lebanon has been rocked by unprecedented anti-government protests since October 17.

The government resigned two weeks after demonstrations started, bowing to popular pressure.

The country's deeply divided political parties have yet to form a new one.



U.S., Europeans Clash Over How to Handle Islamic State Detainees

By Michael R. Gordon and Benoit Faucon

Dec. 1, 2019

Washington and its European allies are at odds over the way to prosecute and detain about 2,000 overseas Islamic State fighters being held in Syria, eight months after U.S.-backed forces seized the final sliver of the group’s self-described caliphate there.

The issue grew to become pressing in October when Turkish forces intervened in northern Syria, spurring fears that the fighters may escape detention within the confusion. Fewer than 200 prisoners have fled, based on the U.S. navy, and the fears abated after a U.S.-arranged cease-fire…



Adhan heard in Macedonia mosque after more than century

December 1, 2019

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Adhan (call to prayer) was recited in an old mosque in North Macedonia for the first time in 107 years.

The minaret of Ali Pasha Mosque in the city of Ohrid had been destroyed in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913).

It has been recently renovated by Turkey’s religious affairs directorate, according to Al-Jazeera.

The project to repair the mosque and its minaret cost some $2.5 million.

Now for the first time since the Balkan Wars, Adhan is recited and heard in the mosque again.

Ali Pasha Mosque was built in 1573 at the order of the Ottoman rulers.



Roman-era sarcophagus lid used in mosque


Archeologists have discovered that a mosque in Turkey's southeastern province of Gaziantep has been unwittingly using the lid of an ancient Roman sarcophagus as a "musalla" stone, a slab usually made from marble upon which the coffin rests during funeral prayers.

According to locals, the 850-kilogram lid was brought to the Örtülü mosque in 1984 as the mosque was in need a new slab after the old one was broken. The locals found the lid in a rural area and carried it to the mosque with their tractors.

Speaking to Demirören News Agency, Mehmet Kaçar said a group of visitors warned the community two years ago that the slab looked like a historical artifact and urged them to contact authorities. An archeologist working for the local municipality later confirmed that the slab was indeed historic, and belonged to a Roman empire era.

Kaçar said after they heard it was an artifact they mulled whether to bring it back where they found it but ultimately decided to keep it.

"We feared we might damage it if we tried to move it. It's not like it's being damaged here. We are taking great care of it," he said.



Netanyahu: Islamic Jihad doesn't absolve Hamas' responsibility for Gaza


DECEMBER 1, 2019

Hamas is responsible for attacks on Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip because it is responsible for that territory, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu’s words follow IDF strikes inside Gaza over the weekend – in response to rocket fire from there – that included targeting a Hamas military compound in the northern part of the coastal enclave.

“One of the fundamental concepts of what was once called ‘international law’ – a concept that once had meaning before it was distorted by very warped decisions of the International Court of Justice – was that a government was responsible for its territory, in the sense that it was responsible for any offensive action emanating from its territory against another country,” he said. “We act according to this principle.”

Netanyahu made clear that while Israel has recently acted against Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Israel still views Hamas as responsible for aggressive actions coming out of Gaza.

“Therefore,” he said, “the IDF acted in response to terrorist actions against it that came from Gaza. That is the way it has been, and that is how it will continue to be: Hamas is responsible.”

Netanyahu said he met last week with Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, who briefed him on actions taken to protect Israelis in Judea and Samaria. He called these actions “very impressive,” and that the cooperation between the Shin Bet and the IDF has yielded “tremendous results.”

Together with this daily war on terrorism in the West Bank, Netanyahu introduced a proposal that passed the cabinet to allocate NIS 40 million to “strengthen the security” components in the territories.

“We will fight terror,” he said. “They will not uproot us from here. This is our land.”

Anti-settlement Peace Now responded that while residents of the North and communities near the Gaza Strip do not have budgets for their security, “in the settlements there is a small and extreme minority for which there is always a budget from the Right.”

Peace Now said this “distorted decision” shows how there is suspicion that a prime minister involved in “criminal proceedings” will make decisions based on his personal interests and political survival, rather than the national interest.



Speaker: Iran Not Concerned about Recent Developments in Iraq

Sun Dec 01, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani underlined that presence of wise politicians and religious leaders, including Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, leaves no place for concern over the recent incidents in Iraq.

"We consider Iraq as our natural ally and we are not concerned about the recent incidents in Iraq because Iraq enjoys experienced political and religious leaders and they can handle the issues and Ayatollah Sistani is well aware of these issues," Larijani told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

He also stressed Iran's preparedness to help Iraq if demanded, and said, "Of course, that period of time that the ISIL was provoked by the US to attack Iraq, we were concerned and helped them."

Iraqis are demanding jobs, an end to corruption and better public services.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said he would present his resignation to parliament so lawmakers could select a new government.

It came after Grand Ayatollah Sistani called for a new government.

"In response to this call, and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand (to accept) my resignation from the leadership of the current government," the statement signed by Mr Abdul Mahdi said.

The statement did not say when his resignation would take place. On Sunday parliament will hold an emergency session to discuss the crisis.



25 Rioters Detained, 3 Firearms Seized by Police in Western Iran

Sun Dec 01, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of the Law Enforcement Police in Kurdistan province Brigadier General Ali Azadi announced that his forces have arrested 25 ringleaders of the recent riots, and seized 3 rifles from them.

"25 ringleaders and main culprits behind the riots in the two cities of Marivan and Sanandaj have been detained in coordination with the judicial officials and 3 firearms and some cold weapons have been discovered and seized from them," General Azadi said on Sunday.

He added that the arrested individuals had misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline rationing in Iran and set fire at public properties and some stores.

General Azadi said that the captured rioters have been handed over to the judicial authorities.

On November 15, the government raised Iran’s extremely cheap gas price in order to moderate the national consumption rate, which stands at 110 million liters per day, 40 million liters above the maximum domestic requirement.

The government also announced a number of aid and subsidiary programs to protect vulnerable households from the adverse effects of the measure.

The price reform, required by Iranian legislature and essential as US-imposed sanctions seek to deplete Iran's budgetary resources, had been long delayed due to concerns regarding the move's probable backlash.

The measure's adoption prompted initially peaceful protests, but riotous elements, abusing the situation, quickly entered the scene, destroying public property, setting ablaze banks and gas stations among other facilities, and opening fire on people and security forces.

Last month, IRGC Lieutenant Commander Brigadier General Ali Fadavi said that the US was disappointed that its perpetrated violent riots in Iran did not last more than 48 hours, adding that reports from all four corners of the country indicate that peace and calm has been restored much to Washington’s chagrin.

"Based on information we have received, the Americans have gone mad that the riots were over within 48 hours and are disappointed that there is no more disorder in Iran," Fadavi added.

However, Fadavi said that in numerous calls with other IRGC officials in the country no further riot attempts had been reported.

"Attacking homes, shops, hospitals, banks and gas stations is a malicious act which is not an act of protest nor rioting, but an act of thievery," Fadavi said.

"This is the difference between protest and disorder," he said.

The IRGC deputy commander added that peaceful protests were "natural" given the recent price hike and that the government has to adopt additional measures to reduce pressure on the general population.

Fadavi added, however, "The fact that the malicious actors of the world are targeting Iran in issues that are by no means related to them is a matter to note."

Deputy Head of Iran's Basij volunteer forces Brigadier General Salar Abnoosh said in November "a full-fledged war" had been meant to be waged against the country, only to be quelled early on.

Abnoosh added that interrogations of arrested rioters had revealed that a "coalition of evil" made up of "Zionists, America and Saudi Arabia" had joined forces to organize destructive riots from abroad.

Addressing worshipers during a weekly Friday prayers in Tehran last month, senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said certain foreign countries had spent "three years" preparing for an opportunity to wreak havoc in Iran, training specific elements to that end.

"But their schemes were neutralized," he said, adding that the riots ceased to continue despite the fact that countries such as Saudi Arabia had spent many resources and had provided much media coverage in order to instigate disorder.

Following the Friday prayers, numerous rallies were also held across Iran to condemn the recent riots.

The protesters condemned the US, Israel and seditionist elements for fueling the unrest and chanted slogans in support of the Islamic establishment.

Addressing recent riots during a speech, Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Rayeesi said those "who have abused the concerns and troubles of the people in order to create disorder and insecurity" will face severe consequences.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is known as the safest country in the region due to the sacrifices of our martyrs and our wounded," he said.

"We will never allow the smallest breach in the security of our people," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on November 17 that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the capital city of Tehran poured to the streets early this week to show allegiance to Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic and support for the country's security and might.

The rallies started at 14:30 local time (1100 GMT) with demonstrators moving towards Enqelab (Revolution) Square in Central Tehran.

The demonstrators shouted 'death to the US', 'death to Israel', 'death to Britain', 'death to the plotters' and 'death to the rioters' slogans.

They also carried the Iranian flags and placards with Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei's images and remarks.

The ralliers also voiced their opposition to the hike in gasoline prices and other goods in Iran, but meantime, voiced hatred for the rioters who misused the recent protests to set ablaze the public and private properties and loot the big stores.

In similar rallies last week, tens of thousands of people in Northern, Western and Southern Iran demonstrated to show allegiance to the Islamic Republic and Supreme Leader after the recent riots.

Demonstrators in the towns of Pardis and Baharesten in Tehran province, Nour, Savadkouh, Behshahr, Neka, Qa'em Shahr and Sari in Mazandaran province, Ahrom in Bushehr, Imam Khomeini port city in Khuzestan province and Sahneh, Sarpol Zahab, Gilan Qarb, Qasr-e Shirin, Kermanshah and Javanroud in Kermanshah province held massive rallies to condemn the rioters who misused the popular protests to destroy and set fire at public properties last week.

They shouted slogans, including 'death to the US' and 'death to Israel' to deplore their officials' interfering remarks against Iran as well as 'death to the rioters' and 'death to plotters' to condemn their acts of sabotage during the recent unrests.

The protestors also carried placards which called on the government to show more attention to people's welfare and living conditions and urged the judiciary to sue and seriously punish those who distorted security and tranquility of people in the recent riots.

Similar demonstrations have been underway throughout the country in the past few days.



Iranian Speaker: US Should Return to N. Deal

Sun Dec 01, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani underlined that Washington should give up its tough language and adopt the language of logic to break the deadlock between the two countries.

"The US should return to the nuclear deal," Larijani told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

"The Islamic Republic has not closed the doors but the main issue is that the Americans should understand that these methods (pressures) have existed in the past too and they did not yield results," he added, noting that the US should use the past experiences to resolve the issue.

"The way is not closed," Larijani said.

"The policy of maximum pressure is wrong and it should be corrected," he stressed.

Washington withdrew from the internationally-endorsed 2015 nuclear deal with Iran on May 2018, reimposed the toughest-ever sanctions against the country and started a plan to zero down Tehran's oil sales.

Under the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, Tehran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Early in August, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reminded the White House that harsh policies against Iran, China and Russia will not serve Washington’s intention to reverse the shift in global power, advising American officials to stop worsening the situation around their country with isolating moves.

In two successive tweets on August 02, Zarif said the US cannot change the fact that global power is shifting in favor of Iran, Russia and China by resorting to sanctions and killing deals, advising Washington to, instead, adapt to the new realities on the world stage and “stop isolating itself”.

Early in July, Zarif said that Washington is no longer capable of paying the price to keep its status as the most powerful country in international relations, adding that the US economy is not as unrivaled as it was before and consequently incompetent to pay the price for American superiority.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Day of Industry and Mining, Zarif told reporters that Europe is now after independence from the US in its economy because the US economy is no longer the unchallenged super economy of the world.

Late in May, Larijani quoted Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei as saying that US utilitarianism is in decline as it creates 'international anomalies.

He added the creation of the ISIL terrorist group had roots in the US utilitarianism with the aim of destroying the Islamic nations.

Also, in March, Zarif also censured Washington’s foreign policy and interventionist role in the Middle East, asserting, “Its recklessness just displays panic of an empire in decline.”

Early in November, Top Military Aide to the Iranian Supreme Leader Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi asserted that the US' power is fading away and Washington is unable to win control over Iranians’ economy and fate.



Iran’s Nuclear Chief: Evidence Proves IAEA Inspector Carried Suspicious Materials

Sun Dec 01, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said that AEOI has documented evidence that an inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had carried suspicious materials while visiting Natanz nuclear site in Central Iran.

Salehi noted that the inspector failed to give a convincing explanation for carrying the substances, and said, “Generally, inspectors enjoy diplomatic immunity as ambassadors do while on a mission, and such issues have been stipulated in international laws and regulations.”

“For example, if an Iranian AEOI inspector faces an issue in another country, he or she will enjoy diplomatic immunity,” Salehi added.

He, meantime, reiterated that the IAEA inspectors must be checked when they enter Iranian sites and it is naturally done while inspecting nuclear facilities all around the world, and this law is not only related to Iran.

“During the check that was run by machines, one of the inspectors found to be carrying suspicious materials. When she was asked about it, she failed to give convincing and acceptable answers,” Salehi added.

He went on to say that at the end, all the events were documented and filmed, but the AEOI could not keep the inspector as she had diplomatic immunity.

Salehi said Iran has sent a written objection to the IAEA in that regard and announced the country will follow up on the issue.

He said the inspectors carrying suspicious materials is seen by Iran as a move in connection with the malware Stuxnet.

“We have a site in Iran where we keep faulty machinery. And we buy many of the devices (spare parts) from abroad. But they sabotage these devices, so that we would face problems when operating our machinery,” Salehi noted.

He said that the enemies used the malware Stuxnet against Iran.

“They committed industrial sabotage against us and sold faulty equipment to us, but we were vigilant in that regard,” Salehi added.

In early November, the AEOI announced that it had not allowed an inspector of the IAEA to enter a nuclear site for carrying "suspicious" materials.

The AEOI said in a statement that the female inspector left her mission unfinished and flew out of Iran after security staff at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility didn't let her in.

"As it is protocol, all of the IAEA inspectors' belongings are closely inspected and scanned before they enter any of the country's nuclear facilities," it added.

"Upon this lady inspector's entry, the security control machines sounded the alarm and denied her entry," the statement said, adding then that Iran had reported the issue to the IAEA.

Iran also told the IAEA in a report that the inspector's previous admissions at various sites were all scrapped and as a result, she decided to abort her mission and go back to the Austrian capital of Vienna.

The report also asked the agency to help with investigations into the matter and it accepted.

"The investigations are ongoing," the AEOI said, noting that the Iranian mission at the IAEA would present it with a comprehensive report on the matter.

The IAEA monitors have been traveling in and out of Iran over the past months amid Tehran's decision to cut back on its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in response to violations by the US and a lack of action to salvage the accord on part of the European signatories -- the UK, France and Germany.

In early November, Iran took the fourth step to scale down its nuclear deal undertakings by injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges at Fordo nuclear site.

He said enrichment work is underway at Fordow facility due to a breach of commitments by the European parties to the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“As long as they fail to live up to their obligations, we will continue enrichment at Fordow,” he said.

Salehi said Iran’s objective is to maintain the JCPOA.

In a statement on November 6, AEOI described why it prevented an IAEA inspector from entering Natanz nuclear facilities few days before. "The alarm at the entrance gate was activated when the IAEA inspector, a lady, was passing through,” the statement said, “Therefore, after having her checked, she was prevented from entering the site.”

The statement added that the case was reported to IAEA at the time, calling for the international body to cooperate on conducting the required investigations in this regard.

The inspector left Tehran for Vienna, the statement added.





Interior Ministry arrests coordinator between ISIS and Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya

1 Dec 2019

The Libyan Interior Ministry said Saturday in a statement that its Tajoura-based Central Support Force had arrested the coordinator between ISIS and Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya, Emad Al-Shagabi.

The arrest came after a letter by the Interior Ministry last week that called for Al-Shagabi’s arrest for his role in terrorism and instability in Libya.

Al-Shagabi will be sent to the office of the Public Prosecutor for further legal action and more investigations into his crimes and charges.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) has denied that Emad Al-Shagabi s working as an adviser at LIA.

This rebuttal comes after social media pages circulated news that LIA board member Mustafa Al-Manea had issued a Special Passport for Al-Shagabi in an illicit way.

Speaking to Ean Libya on the phone, LIA board member refuted the incident, saying it is just fake news and the photo for the passport that is circulated on social media is photoshopped as it has no signature.



Suspected Islamist rebels kill 14 in eastern Congo - local authorities


By Fiston Mahamba

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Suspected Islamist fighters killed 14 people in eastern Congo on Friday, local authorities said, as a month-long spike in violence complicates efforts to contain a deadly Ebola outbreak.

The attack in the village of Kukutama, 10 km (6 miles) southwest of Oicha in North Kivu, comes on top of a death toll of more than 100 since Oct. 30 when the army started an operation to root out the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a jihadist group operating in the dense forests bordering Uganda.

Friday’s attack was just a few miles from another attack days earlier in which at least 19 people were killed.

“While the army is doing its best to neutralize the ADF rebellion, the rebels are preying on defenceless civilians by way of revenge,” said Donat Kibwana, administrator of the territory of Beni.

Many of the victims have been hacked to death or beheaded, according to local rights and civil society groups.

Violence in the region is hampering efforts to halt the spread of the Ebola virus, which has killed 2,200 people since August 2018.

International organisations warned on Friday of a potential resurgence of the virus after deadly militia attacks on health centres forced aid groups to suspend operations and withdraw staff from the epidemic’s last strongholds.

(Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Edward McAllister and David Clarke)



At least 10 killed in Burkina Faso church attack: Security sources

Dec 2, 2019

OUGADOUGOU: At least 10 people were killed in an attack on a church in eastern Burkina Faso where places of worship have already suffered several Islamist assaults, security sources said.

The attack took place on Sunday.

The victims were attending a service at a Protestant church in the town of Hantoukoura, one of the sources said, putting the death toll at "more than 10", while another source said 14 worshippers were killed, all of them male.



Miyetti Allah, Yoruba, others dialogue for peace

December 1, 2019

Young leaders of ethnic and socio-political groups in Lagos yesterday resolved to continue to work together to ensure peaceful coexistence in the country. The participants said a major conflict in Nigeria has the potential of engulfing the entire West Africa sub-region.

Some of the groups included the Miyetti Allah, Oodua People’s Congress, (OPC), Ijaw Youth Congress, (IYC), Igbo Youth Congress, (IYC), Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, (AYCF), Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC), Agbekoya, Middle Belt Indigenous Peoples Congress, (MBIPC), among many others.

The groups said in a joint statement issued at the end of a one-day training with the theme: ‘Engaging the Media, Community Based Groups for Peace building and Conflict Prevention’ organised by the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER) with the support of the Institute for International Education, (IIE) and the Ford Foundation, West African Regional Office, urged the federal government to intensify the mopping up of illegal weapons across the country and initiate the process for continuous dialogue driven by the people themselves.

Leader of the African Conflict Prevention and Peace Network, Mr. Sina Odugbemi, who spent six months travelling from Nigeria to Libya by road where he spent about 15 years in the desert area, said his experiences have shown that extremism and violence in Nigeria cannot be fought without a keen understanding of the Maghreb Region.

The Vice President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, (AYCF) Mr. Tijani Suleiman, said, “As a people, we have the responsibility to work towards peaceful co-existence. Violence is an ill wind that blows no one any good. We can make the choice on the part of honour by preventing conflict in Nigeria.”

The President, Agbekoya, Chief Adekunle Oshodi, said his group was excited to participate in a forum initiated for stakeholders on conflict in which the people are the drivers of the process.

Speaking in his presentation, Zannah Yusuf Mehid, representing the Kanuri Traditional Council, said networking among the various ethnic groups was essential for peace and prevention of outbreak of hostilities.

Col Tony Nyiam (rtd), whose training was on ‘Strategies for Peace Building and Conflict Prevention,’ said one of the most crucial ways of preventing conflict was for the people to engage themselves out of their own freewill.

The representative of the Ford Foundation, Mrs. Onyinye Onyemobi, said she was impressed by the mention of the relationship between poverty and conflict adding that the involvement of young people in the conflict prevention training was a good initiative.

The Executive Director, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER), Mr. Adewale Adeoye, said “peace building should not be left for the government alone. Conflict prevention is not the property of the government. It is the property of the people. They own it. They have the right to come together to make a great impact through constructive engagement.”





Minister wants Makkah Route initiative coverage for all Pakistani Hajj pilgrims next year

02 December 2019


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will ask Saudi Arabia to expand the Makkah Route initiative for all Pakistani Hajj pilgrims next year, Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, federal minister for religious affairs, said in an exclusive interview with Arab News in Islamabad on Friday.

The initiative by Saudi Arabia was finalized during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s maiden visit to Pakistan in February. Some 22,000 Pakistani pilgrims were cleared for immigration and customs prior to their Hajj departure during this year’s pilot project in Islamabad.

“I will reach Jeddah on a five-day official visit on Tuesday to talk with Saudi authorities and sign an agreement for Hajj 2020,” Qadri said, adding that there are “many things on our agenda,” such as the expansion of the Makkah Route initiative, Hajj quota and e-visa facilities.

Thousands of Pakistani pilgrims have already benefited from the pilot program in Islamabad.

“This year, we are going to request the Saudi government to expand it to the whole country, otherwise at least Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta should be included,” the minister said.

He added it would ultimately be the Kingdom’s decision based on costs related to the expansive project.

However, Qadri was hopeful that the project would at least be extended to all provincial capitals by next year and said that the Saudis had delivered on almost all of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s requests.

“They have given us the Makkah  Route initiative, an e-visa facility and an increase in the Hajj quota to 200,000,” he said.

Pakistan is the fifth country to get an e-visa facility with Saudi Arabia, in addition to Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria and France, the minister said.

Qadri said that he would ask the Saudi government to relax rules that required all Hajj tour operators to be registered with the International Air Transport Association.

Qadri said the Vision 2030 reform plans under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had revolutionized Hajj and Umrah operations in a short amount of time, especially through technological innovation.

“The pilgrims have been provided with maximum facilities. He is making Hajj very easy,” he said.



1 FC personnel martyred, 2 injured in exchange of fire with terrorists in North Waziristan: ISPR

December 01, 2019

One Frontier Corps (FC) soldier was martyred and two others were injured on Sunday in an exchange of fire with terrorists after they raided an FC checkpost in North Waziristan, a statement by the military's media wing said.

According to a statement by Director General Inter Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, "terrorists raided an FC post in North Waziristan district near the Pak-Afghan border".

"During the exchange of fire, two terrorists were killed," said Maj Gen Ghafoor.

The martyred soldier was identified as Lance Naik Muhammad Imran. The identities of the injured FC soldiers have not yet been disclosed.

The paramilitary force has been attacked multiple times this year as it maintains law and order in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkwa and the border regions of Afghanistan and Iran.

In January, four of the security force's personnel were martyred during an exchange of fire with terrorists trying to storm the residential and administration compound inside a Frontier Corps (FC) training centre in Balochistan's Loralai district.

The following month two FC personnel were martyred while a civilian passerby was injured in a firing incident in Loralai. A day later, four personnel were martyred in an attack during a change of shifts at two check posts in the province's Panjgur district of Makran division.

In May, three FC soldiers were injured in a bomb blast near the Shella Bagh area of Balochistan's Qila Abdullah district. The blast occurred when an explosive device planted in a motorcycle parked on the Quetta-Chaman National Highway was detonated by remote control.

In a June incident which took place in the province's Harnai district, two FC soldiers were martyred while on Eid patrol duty.

In the past month, a number of attacks on FC soldiers were witnessed. Two FC officers were martyred on November 5 when unknown militants opened fire on an FC convoy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Dera Ismail Khan district.

On November 15, at least two FC personnel were martyred and five others injured after the personnel's vehicle was targeted with an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Quetta’s Kuchlak area.

Separately, two army officers were injured in an exchange of fire with the Indian army across the Line of Control (LoC).

According to a statement by Maj Gen Ghafoor, the Indian army, in an "unprovoked" act, "fired mortar rounds" on a Pakistan Army post in the "Rakhchikri, Rawalkot sector along the LoC".

The Indian fire was "effectively responded" to, added the statement.



Pakistan informs new Sri Lankan govt of critical situation in Kashmir

December 2, 2019

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday briefed his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena on the dire situation and human rights crisis in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK), said Foreign office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal.

The FO spokesperson said Qureshi told the Sri Lankan foreign minister that the 100-day plus lockdown remains a "cause of serious concern" for the international community.

During the meeting the two ministers discussed trade, investment, tourism and people to people contacts.

The spokesperson said, "Both countries [are] very keen to further deepen and strengthen the entire gamut of bilateral relations."

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Qureshi termed his meeting with the Sri Lankan Foreign minister as "excellent" and extended an invitation to Gunawardena to visit Islamabad.

In the video shared by APP, the foreign minister could be seen saying, "I'm fortunate to be the first foreign minister to have visited Colombo since the new government had been elected."

Qureshi said that during the meeting the two ministers discussed the ways in which they can take the relations forward, saying, "There is a lot we can do to promote our mutual interest."

Foreign Minister Qureshi is on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka and became the first foreign minister to visit the country after its elections.

The foreign minister is expected to meet the recently elected Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.



Govt seeks allies' help to amend Army Act

December 2, 2019

KARACHI: A high-level delegation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday met central leaders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), its coalition partner, at their secretariat to discuss the current political situation, the upcoming local government election, Karachi and Hyderabad development package announced by the federal government, and, most importantly, the latter's scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on December 5.

However, sources from both parties told The News that Sunday's meeting with the MQM-P leadership was part of the federal government's efforts to secure its allies' support in amending the Army Act to seek three-year extension for Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Qureshi is also likely to meet leaders of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), a Sindh-level opposition alliance and an ally of the federal government from the Sindh province today (Monday).

The Qureshi-led PTI delegation comprised Governor Sindh Imran Ismail and the opposition leader in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi while prominent among MQM-P delegation were party convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Federal Law Minister Dr Farough Naseem, Aamir Khan, Nasreen Jalil, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar and Aminul Haque.

After the meeting, federal ministers Qureshi and Siddiqui addressed a press conference, where leaders of both parties termed the meeting very fruitful and vowed to support each other.

Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited the MQM-P and other allied parties (such as GDA) on December 05, for a session. "Today's meeting can be called a preparatory sitting for our next meeting of December 05, so as to make the next session result-oriented," said the foreign minister.

"The input that I received was quite informative and I am better informed on the situation in Karachi and Sindh," he said. Qureshi said that the voters of Karachi are sensible and they understand the challenges that are being confronted by the federal government.

MQM-P leader Siddiqui thanked the foreign minister and the PTI delegation for coming to Karachi and meeting with the party leaders and said that the MQM-P's policy on national issues was very clear. "We have always extended our unconditional support and will continue to do so." He was hopeful that the party's next meeting with PM Khan in Islamabad will yield results.

However, the MQM leader said that Sindh, especially its urban centers, had been suffering from economic terrorism for the past 11 years. "The government is working on those, but the pace is so slow that on many fronts it does not seem any work is being done," he complained. "Sindh's cities, especially Karachi and Hyderabad, are in urgent need of intensive care, of immediate help, morally, politically, and legally," he said.

Siddiqui said that Sindh's only request has been that due attention be given to the province and its cities immediately. He said that having witnessed the problems faced by Sindh's cities over the past 30-35 years, certain demands had been made by the party.



ICCI to join hands with Muslim Aid Pakistan

December 2, 2019

A senior level delegation of Muslim Aid Pakistan called on the President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries here in Islamabad to finalize the areas of common interest to help the people in need and also address the challenges resulting from climate hazards.

While talking to the delegation members of the Muslim Aid Pakistan, the President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries Mr. Muhammad Ahmed Waheed shared the ICC&I’s strategic and annual objects. Mr. Waheed unfolded ICC&I’s plans on Clean and Green Islamabad in partnership with ICT administration, augmenting the government’s initiative “Panahgah Shelter Homes”, and Women and Destitute’ empowerment through its Skill Development Centers.

The Country Director Muslim Aid Pakistan, Mr. Syed Shahnawaz Ali, updated the President of ICC&I on Muslim Aid Pakistan’s most recent initiatives in Healthcare, Women Empowerment and Livelihood, Education, Climate Action, Disaster preparedness and response, WASH and other relief activities bridging these actions to Muslim Aid Pakistan’s fifteen years’ journey.

The Advisor Partnerships Muslim Aid Pakistan Mr. Amjad Pervaiz highlighted the significance of potential transformational partnership between Muslim Aid Pakistan and ICC&I in the area of Clean Green Pakistan, Women Economic Empowerment, and immediate relief efforts for the marginalized, unreached and poverty stricken people in the capital city.

At this occasion the Head of Programs Ms. Jannat Durrani, apprised the President on implementation methodology and possible impact of this upcoming partnership between the parties.



Qatar Charity builds mosque in Pakistan’s Punjab

December 01 2019

Qatar Charity (QC), in collaboration with the government departments concerned and local communities, has successfully built a mosque in Allah Ditta Machi, a locality in Rajanpur district of Pakistan’s Punjab, with 150 households including more than 600 individuals.

The 2,695sqft mosque, which was a long-standing need of the community in Allah Ditta Machi, can accommodate up to 150 worshippers at a time.

"Due to the need for a place of worship, the construction of the mosque came in Allah Ditta Machi locality where people are mostly labourers and hardly fulfil their daily life needs, due to their limited economic resources," QC said in a statement.

According to the Imam Aman Ullah, who leads worshippers at the mosque, people of the locality consider it as a "gift from the heavens" for them, because it was tough for them to construct a place of worship for themselves due to their challenging economic conditions.

“Now, it is very easy and convenient for us to make ablution in a proper place, and offer our prayers in a clean place with peace. Along with offering our prayers, we can now teach our children with ease. We are grateful to the people of Qatar for this immense gift,” said a thankful Amanullah, the

imam of the mosque.

In Pakistan, Qatar Charity started its first humanitarian operation in 1992. Since then, it has been implementing various charitable, humanitarian and developmental projects across the country.



South Asia


Four Ansar al Islam operatives arrested: Rab

December 02, 2019

Rab yesterday claimed to have arrested four members of the banned militant group Ansar al Islam from the city’s Khilkhet area.

They are -- Masum Mia (30), Abu Bakar Siddique (19), Rakibul Islam Siam (18), and Abdullah Al Roman (22).  

A Rab team arrested them along with some “extremism provoking” books and leaflets when they gathered in Nikunja area around 9:40pm on Saturday, Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan, an assistant director of Rab’s legal and media wing, said.

According to Rab, the arrestees during preliminary interrogation admitted that they were active members of the banned group and did not support the democratic system.

“The accused wanted to establish Islamic law in the country and for this, they justified killing people whom they considered their enemies,” a Rab press release said.

This group usually hacks their targets to death, but they also carry firearms for successful escape, Rab said.

Masum, an electrician from Cumilla district, got involved in militancy through social media three years ago. He used to collect funds for the group, the law enforcement agency said.

Madrasa student Abu Bakar also got involved with the outfit through the internet two years ago. He used to communicate with others through different encrypted apps.

Rakibul joined the group via online through a Satkhira-based leader while Roman was once a member of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islam Bangladesh and joined Ansar al Islam three years ago, it added.



Australian freed by Taliban recounts rescue attempts by US forces

1 Dec 2019

An Australian man who spent three years in Taliban captivity has said he believes the United States's special forces tried to rescue him and an American colleague and failed at least six times.

Speaking in Sydney on Sunday for the first time since he was freed in a prisoner swap deal, 50-year-old Timothy Weeks said he never lost hope but the captivity "had a profound and unimaginable effect" on him.

Detailing a "hellish life" spent moving between windowless cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Weeks said: "After almost 1,200 days, our ordeal ended as abruptly as it had begun."

Weeks and American colleague Kevin King were freed on November 20 as part of a deal between the Taliban, the US, Australian and Afghan governments.

The pair - both professors at the American University in Kabul - were kidnapped by gunmen wearing military uniforms as they returned home from classes in August 2016.

"I struggle to find words to express just how completely this has changed me. At times, I felt as if my death was imminent, and that I would never return to see those that I loved again," he said. "But, by the will of God, I am here, I am alive and I am safe."

'Huge bang'

One attempt came in April this year. Weeks said he was woken at 2am by his guards who told him they were under attack from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) fighters and moved him into a tunnel beneath where they were being held.

"I believe now that it was the Navy SEALs coming in to get us. And the moment that we got into the tunnels, we were just one or two metres underground. There was a huge bang at the front door.

"Our guards went up and there was a lot of machine-gun fire," he said. "I believe it was the Navy SEALs right outside our door. I think they came in six times to try to get us. And that a number of times they missed us only by hours."

While expressing thanks to President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the work that led to their release, Weeks said some Taliban guards he encountered were "lovely people".

"I don't hate them at all," he said. "And some of them, I have great respect for and great love for, almost. Some of them were so compassionate and such lovely, lovely people. And it really led me to think about ... how did they end up like this?"

He added: "I know a lot of people don't admit this but for me they were soldiers. And soldiers obey the commands of their commanders. [They] don't get a choice."

Weeks said he hugged some of his Taliban guards when they parted company on the day of his and King's release.

Still, the sight of the two US Black Hawk helicopters arriving to take them away had been an enormous relief.

"From the moment I sighted both Black Hawk helicopters and was placed in the hands of special forces, I knew my long and tortuous ordeal had come to an end," he said.

"Out of a big dust cloud came six special forces and they walked towards us and one of them stepped towards me and he just put his arm around me and he held me and he said, 'are you OK?' And then he walked me back to the Black Hawk."



In surprise trip to Afghanistan, Trump says Taliban talks resumed

29 Nov 2019

President Donald Trump has said the United States has resumed peace talks with the Taliban as he made an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to US troops in Afghanistan.

Trump's visit on Thursday was his first to the South Asian country since becoming president. It came a week after a prisoner swap, partially brokered by the US, in which two Western hostages were traded for three Taliban commanders, that had raised hopes for the revival of peace talks.

"The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them and we are saying it has to be a ceasefire and they didn't want to do a ceasefire and now they do want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way," he told reporters.

Earlier this year, the US reached a deal in principle with the Taliban group to pull out troops from the country and wind down the 18-year war in return for security guarantees.

But Trump made a shock move in September, describing the year-long talks as "dead", and withdrawing an invitation to the group to meet near Washington due to the killing of a US soldier.

The US president had more recently suggested that the negotiations could get under way again.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate formally with the Afghan government, but diplomatic efforts continue to foster dialogue.

Trump's Air Force One presidential plane touched down at Bagram airfield after an overnight flight from Washington with White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, a small group of aides and secret service agents, and a pool of reporters.

In a visit due to last about two-and-half hours, he served turkey to troops in a cafeteria, posed for photographs and delivered his remarks in a hangar.

He also met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, though the details of what transpired in their meeting has not been made public yet.

About 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after the US invaded the country in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said the visit was "significant", although she added that it was not clear if he has secured significant concessions from the Taliban, including the laying down of arms.

She also said that by visiting Afghanistan, Trump could also be trying to deflect political problems at home as he faces possible impeachment.

Rina Shah, a Republican political strategist, said that Trump wants to boost his approval rating by showing that he embraces that military.

"He wants to make sure that as he goes into the new year, which is very much around the corner, that he is secured, that he is going to look good in the face of the American public," she said.



Afghan man arrested in India airport with 1kg gold in his shoes

Monday, 02 Dec 2019

An Afghan man arrested by the Indian custom police at the Indira Ghandi International Airport in New Delhi while he was smuggling 1kg gold by hiding it in his shoes, Indian media reported on Sunday.

The passenger was intercepted after his arrival from Mazar-e-Sharif, on Friday, The Times of India reported.

A detailed body and baggage search of passenger resulted in the recovery of 997 grams gold worthing around 50,000.00 US Dollars which was concealed inside his shoes, the custom department has said in a statement.

The accused passenger has admitted after an investigation that he had smuggled 400 grams gold in his last visit to India.

The passenger has been arrested and the gold is seized by the police, but the identity of him has not be revealed.



Logar’s ‘school students’ sexual abuse investigations must immediately begin: Human Rights Activists

Sunday, 01 Dec 2019

A number of human rights activist and the defenders of children’s rights in Afghanistan asks the government to immediately start investigation of the Logar’s ‘school students’ sexual abuse case.

A joint press release published by the CMST, Najiba Foundation, Gahwara, Charmaghz and Book Cottage institutions says that the government must immediately start the investigation of the students sexual abuse case in Logar province and the result must be shared with the public according to the predefined timeline.

The statement further adds that another extensive research should be launched in the education sector across the country in order to identify and unveil the extent of such crimes.

The government must take necessary security measurements for the children’s rights activist who disclose abuses, the statement urged.

This comers as that Mohammad Mosa Mahmoodi and Ehsanullah Hamidi, the two defenders of human rights in Logar were detained by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security on the 21st of November while they were in their way to visit the European Union Ambassador.

The whistle blowed after ‘Guardian’, a U.K based news wire service published a tragic story about the sexual abuse of school students in the public schools of Logar, located in the East of Kabul city.

The illegal detention of the two rights defenders by the Afghanistan NDS sparked anger and tensions at national and international levels where HRW, US and German Embassies in Kabul asked for the immediate release of Mr. Mahmoodi and Mr. Hamidi.



New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism