New Age Islam
Tue Nov 24 2020, 11:56 PM

Islamic World News ( 20 May 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Taliban Chief Promises Equal Rights for Men and Women in His Eid Message







• Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik Continues to Receive 'Dirty Money' From Gulf

• Message of Goodwill:No Plan for Eid Shopping, Muslims to opt for Charity

• Iran Terms Trump’s Letter to WHO “Vain Attempt at Wrong Time”

• Pentagon’s Latest Report Regarding Pakistan’s Support to Taliban, Haqqani Network

• Mexican Couple Converted to Islam After Watching Ertugrul

• Lebanon's Hezbollah Says Perfectly Ready for Any Confrontation with Israel

 

South Asia

• Taliban Chief Promises Equal Rights for Men and Women in His Eid Message

• Afghan Taliban Supreme Leader Offers General Amnesty to Opponents

• More than 100 Taliban militants killed, wounded after attacking Kunduz city

• Clinic Bombed as Afghan Forces Fend Off Taliban Attack on Kunduz

• Afghan Taliban leader says committed to deal with US

• Taliban leader urges US 'not to waste' opportunity offered by deal

• Eight worshippers killed, 12 injured in attack on Afghan mosque in Ramadan

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Southeast Asia

• Islamic Preacher Zakir Naik Continues to Receive 'Dirty Money' From Gulf

• Unleashing Full Power Of Zakat During COVID-19 Pandemic

• Covid-19: Interfaith Group Says Working with Authorities on Guidelines for Non-Muslim Places Of Worship

• Indonesia: Shia Uprooted by Violence on Madura Island Long to Go Home

• Indonesia in Critical Period, Says Covid-19 Task Force Head

• Thailand detains 15 Malaysia-bound Rohingya for illegal entry

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India

• Message of Goodwill:No Plan for Eid Shopping, Muslims to opt for Charity

• A Lawyer in Madhya Pradesh Beaten Up byThe Police as They Mistook Him for A Muslim

• SC Agrees to Hear Plea of Muslim And Student Organisations Against CAA

• Muslim Migrants from Bihar Find Shelter in Assam Hindu Household

• Muslims Help Perform Last Rites of Hindu Man in Tumakaru

• Isolate countries that support terrorism: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu

• 2 BSF men killed in J&K terror attack, 4 held for LeT link

• Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

• Hope of opening of Afghan-India trade via ICP after Pakistan opened its borders with Afghan for trade

• Hizbul man wanted for multiple murders held

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Mideast

• Iran Terms Trump’s Letter to WHO “Vain Attempt at Wrong Time”

• Iran’s Top Commander: End of Israel Even Felt in Tel Aviv Streets

• United On Quds, Religious Scholars Decry Israel’s Occupation Of Palestine

• Iranian Researchers Produce Biocompatible Anti-Bacterial Dental Resins

• Judiciary Chief: Iran Seriously Pursuing General Soleimani Assassination Case

• Iranian President Underlines Liberation of Palestinian Lands

• Iran Calls on EU to Adopt Concrete Measures against Israel’s Brutalities

• International community reprimands Israel’s annexation plans

• Vatican worried about Israel’s annexation plan in occupied West Bank

• Iran Foreign Ministry: Israeli regime born through terror, keeps sowing chaos in Mideast

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North America

• Pentagon’s Latest Report Regarding Pakistan’s Support to Taliban, Haqqani Network

• US Issues New Iran Sanctions, Targets Interior Minister: US Treasury

• US intelligence acknowledges Iran not after destabilizing Afghanistan despite Pompeo's claims

• US hopes Israel, Palestine keep security deals

• UN envoy urges Israel to abandon annexation threats

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Europe

• Mexican Couple Converted to Islam After Watching Ertugrul

• UK extends NHS COVID-19 scheme after emotional plea from Syrian refugee

• Germany vows ‘zero tolerance’ for far right

• Turkey condemns baseless claims by Greece

• Britain First leader Paul Golding convicted of terror offence

• German navy will add to Mediterranean mission by August, says minister for Middle East

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Arab world

• Lebanon's Hezbollah Says Perfectly Ready for Any Confrontation with Israel

• Coronavirus: Egypt to offer COVID-19 testing in all general hospitals

• Iran has spent $30 billion in Syria: Prominent MP

• Coronavirus: Qatar reports 1,491 new cases, one death over past 24 hours

• Coronavirus: Oman records 372 new cases, total infections surpass 6,000

• Saudi Arabia’s measures to support private sector, SMEs amid coronavirus: A list

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Africa

• Sisi Says Egypt Will Be Firm against Terrorist Groups and their Backers in Libya

• Jihadists Attack Nigeria Town Where Girls Abducted

• Boko Haram: Airstrike kills terrorists in Yobe

• Somalia: U.S. Kills Two Al-Shabaab Fighters in Somalia

• Niger: 12 soldiers killed in Boko Haram attack on military base

• Jordan imposes three-day lockdown with resurgence of coronavirus cases

• Libyan army moves to liberate town of al-Asaba

• Libyan army destroys missile system used by Haftar

• Violence in Sudan's south leaves dozens dead

• Turkey condemns Boko Haram attack in Nigeria

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Pakistan

• Pakistan, China and Others Reaffirm Support for Afghan Peace

• NAB to offer hi-tea to its prisoners on Eid

• PM makes out strong case for debt relief at WEF

• Balochistan Assembly holds session under SOPs

• Sindh govt allows normal funeral rites of Covid-19 patients with precautions

• Peace in Afghanistan beneficial for whole region, says Qureshi

• Pakistan wants early repatriation of Afghan refugees: President Alvi

• Pakistan records 1,932 new coronavirus cases, 48 deaths

• Pakistan police arrest suspect in honor killing of 2 cousins

• US praises Pakistan’s cooperation for peace in Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/taliban-chief-promises-equal-rights-for-men-and-women-in-his-eid-message/d/121915

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Taliban Chief promises equal rights for men and women in his Eid message

20 May 2020

The supreme leader of the Taliban group Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada has promsied equal rights for the men and women following the end of the coalition forces’ presence in the country.

Akhundzada issued a statement on the occassion of Eid Al-Fitr, stating that “To those sides and individuals that have reservations about the future political system following the end of occupation – the Islamic Emirate once again assures everyone that it does not have a monopolist policy, every male and female member of society shall be given their due rights, none shall feel any sense of deprivation or injustice and all work necessary for the welfare, durability and development of society will be addressed in the light of divine Shariah law.”

He also added “Some circles seeking nefarious goals and power through a plan given to them by foreign intelligence networks to promote hatred and bigotry under linguistic, tribal, sectarian and other titles and to threaten and endanger the unity of our country must understand that the Afghan nation and the Islamic Emirate will not permit such undertakings.”

“Just as it rescued our homeland from such dangers in the past, it still (Allah willing) retains such capabilities, hence, it would be better for the perpetrators of such activities to review their approach and refrain from troubling this nation with such evil actions and ideas,” he added.

In regards to the signing of the peace deal between U.S. and Taliban, Akhundzad said “The signing of the historic agreement with the United States of America and the resultant termination of occupation is an extraordinary accomplishment for the Islamic Emirate and the entire Afghan Mujahid nation that can prove beneficial for all sides if implemented sincerely.”

“The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement signed with America and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity go to waste,” he said, adding that “The implementation of this agreement can prove to be a powerful instrument for bringing an end to the war between America and our country and for establishing peace and an Islamic system in our homeland.”

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-chief-promises-equal-rights-for-men-and-women-in-his-eid-message-08850/

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Islamic preacher Zakir Naik continues to receive 'dirty money' from Gulf

May 20, 2020

New Delhi: Sources close to developments have revealed that Islamic evangelist and zealot Zakir Naik, one of the most wanted Indian fugitives, who is currently based in Malaysia, continues to be engaged in the propagation of radical Islamic activities and collection of funds from his wealthy contacts in the Gulf region to support his activities.

In the most recent instance, Naik has contacted one of his old contacts, Abdullah Ali al Emadi, a prominent Qatari national, and requested him for a generous charity during the ongoing Ramadan period.

Emadi is learnt to have assured an amount of $500,000 to him. It is also learnt that Mohammad Siddique Al Emadi, a Qatari national, is a close associate of Naik and helps him contact local wealthy businessmen and charity organisations for collection of funds.

It may be recalled that Naik is an Islamic preacher and televangelist from Mumbai. He is the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRP) and Peace TV, an Islamic TV Channel broadcast in Urdu and English from Saudi Arabia. He is also associated with several local radical Islamic organisations such as South Karnataka Salafi Movement and Al-Lisaan Islamic Foundation.

Naik continues to maintain several bank accounts in Gulf countries, including Qatar and the UAE, for the collection of such funds to evade scrutiny of the Indian government. He generally uses these accounts to transfer funds to his associates and network for activities by IRF and other associated organizations. The Indian government has since put a five-year ban on IRF.

Naik is involved in the preaching radical Islamic ideology that has influenced a number of youth in India and abroad in an adverse manner and some of them are found to have been motivated to join extremist organisations such as Daesh. Following are some of the instances, in which individuals influenced by Naik have joined terror organisations:

i) Abdul Rasheed @ Abdulla and his wife Yasmin were radicalised while working in Zakir Naik-run Peace International School (Kerala). Subsequently, Abdul Rasheed motivated a group of 23 individuals to join him in leaving the country for Afghanistan to join Daesh.

(ii) Mohd Ibrahim Yazdani and Mohd Uyas Yezdani, kingpin of ISIS-influenced Junood-ul-Khilafafil-Hind (JKF) module which plotted to carry out terror attacks in different parts of India, were influenced by Naik's speeches. The module was neutralised by the Indian agencies in July 2016.

(iii) Naser Abubakar Yafahi @ Chaus joined the ISIS-influenced JKH module after being radicalised by the preachings of Naik. Abubakar Yafahi was arrested in July 2016.

(iv) IRF had provided a scholarship to Abu Anas from Rajasthan, who intended to join ISIS and was arrested while he was leaving India for joining ISIS.

(v) Afsha Jabeen @ Nickey Joseph, while based in Dubai was involved in facilitating recruitment for ISIS. She was influenced by Naik. She was deported back to India in September 2015.

(vi) Two Bangladeshi terrorists, namely Nabris Islam and Rohan Imtiaz, who were involved in the July 2016 Holey Artisan Bakery attack in Dhaka, confessed to having been inspired by Naik.

In view of his involvement in extremist activities, multiple non-bailable warrants (NBW) have been issued against Naik by the Indian authorities on charges of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and for money laundering.

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/islamic-preacher-zakir-naik-continues-to-receive-dirty-money-from-gulf/594738

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Message of Goodwill: No Plan for Eid Shopping, Muslims To opt for Charity

May 21, 2020

SLUG: Message of goodwill

Nagpur: Amid indications that shops might open just two days before the Eid-ul-Fitr, which falls on Saturday for Dawood Bohras and subsequently for rest of the Muslim community, members from across sects have decided to shun traditional shopping of clothes and home furnishing items. Calls have been given to spend the money saved on these items to the needy as well as migrants passing through the city.

On Wednesday, intellectuals, businessmen, doctors, and netas from city released a video appealing to Muslims to not venture out for Eid shopping to prevent spread of coronavirus. Instead spend on charity as the holy month of Ramzan comes to an end, they said.

Clerics too have asked the believers to abstain from buying new clothes, footwear or home decors even if these are now available.

Hamid Qureshi, secretary of Jamiat Islahul Muslemeen, said that during Ramzan Muslims sacrificed their routine religious activities to stay indoors. “Now, in the last leg of the holy month, the Ramzan festivities conclude with Eid namaz. As we changed our schedule, I feel except for essential items, no other purchasing is necessary now. We can spend the saved money to feed the poor in our neighbourhood, town and city,” he said.

Zafar Ahmed Khan, founder president of School Headmasters Charitable Association, said that it is the responsibility of Muslims to help the poor, irrespective of caste and religion. “The livelihood of daily wagers, rickshaw pullers and other such people has been destroyed. So, it is our responsibility to help them overcome this situation. Islam also propagates the thought that when such a crisis hits a section of citizens, others must help them. This will send a good message of brotherhood to the world,” he said.

The Dawoodi Bohra community, which will observe Eid on Saturday, has been ordained by their spiritual head, the Syedna, to not to step out of home for any religious activity amid the pandemic. Malikul Ashter Fidvi, an office bearer of Dawood Bohra community, said that strict day-to-day guidelines have been issued by Syedna. “It clearly mentioned that no one should step out for unnecessary activities. Essential supplies needed for Eid too have been home delivered to all,” he said.

“We will not go for shopping. The saving from the shopping will be spent on charity. We will wear the best clothes we already have,” said Huned Shirpurwala, a resident of Shanti Nagar.

Maulana Tauqeer Ahmed, office-bearer of Madrassa Madinatul Uloom, said Eid is an occasion to celebrate but right now there is no reason for it. “Several messages are being circulated to inform community members that when there is no Eid namaz, then what is the shopping for? We are advising them to spend on charity for labourers, migrants, daily wagers as many Muslims groups are already doing for last two months,” he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/no-plan-for-eid-shopping-muslims-to-opt-for-charity/articleshow/75856800.cms

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Iran Terms Trump’s Letter to WHO “Vain Attempt at Wrong Time”

May 20, 2020

“As global health is at stake and we need global solidarity and science-led leadership more than ever, Trump's letter to the WHO Director-General is undermining the professionalism and independence of the Organization,” Mousavi wrote on his twitter page on Wednesday.

He described the letter as “a vain attempt at the wrong time”.

Trump is escalating his threats against the WHO, telling the agency he will permanently pull US funding if it does not "commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days."

Trump's letter -- in which he included a false description of when information about the virus was published in The Lancet, prompting the prestigious medical journal to publicly dispute his claims on Tuesday -- is the latest action he's taken against the WHO following his decision last month to temporarily halt US funding to the group.

The agency has at times been criticized for its response to the coronavirus outbreak, though it remains the world's preeminent global health organization at a time when a fast-moving pandemic has claimed more than 319,000 lives worldwide and largely shut down the global economy amid a search for a vaccine.

Meanwhile, Trump, who has long eschewed global alliances and institutions, has increasingly blamed others, including China and the WHO, amid scrutiny of his own administration's response to the pandemic.

"It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world. The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China," Trump wrote in a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that he posted on Twitter late Monday.

"My administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste," Trump concluded, adding that the US will "reconsider our membership" unless unspecified improvements are made.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990231001062

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Pentagon’s latest report regarding Pakistan’s support to Taliban, Haqqani Network

21 May 2020

The Department of Defense (Pentagon) released its latest report outlining Pakistan’s continued support to Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network.

The Pentagon report, prepared by the Inspector General, complied with the helip of the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development, covers the period from January to March of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan continues to harbor the Taliban and associated militant groups in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani Network, which maintains the ability to conduct attacks against Afghan interests,” the report said.

The report also added that Islamabad has encouraged the Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks but that it “refrained from applying coercive pressure that would seriously threaten its relationship with the Afghan Taliban to dissuade the group from conducting further violence.”

This comes as Pakistani leaders have repeatedly assured Washington that they support peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pentagon stated in its report that Islamabad’s primary strategic objective in Afghanistan is to counter its regional archrival, India, and prevent the spillover of instability from the neighboring country.

“Pakistan likely views increased Taliban influence in Afghanistan as supporting its overall objectives and will seek to influence intra-Afghan peace talks in a direction favorable to Pakistan,” the report noted.

https://www.khaama.com/pentagons-latest-report-regarding-pakistans-support-to-taliban-haqqani-network-08851/

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Mexican couple converted to Islam after watching Ertugrul

May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD-The Turkish drama series Dirilis Ertgrul is quite famous among masses and it has impacted a lot of people in a positive way.

It inspired a Mexcian couple in a whole new way and they converted to Islam after getting inspired by watching Dirilis Ertugrul. In 2019, this couple converted to Islam after they met Abdur Rahman Alp aka Celal Al from Dirilis Ertugrul. He met the couple during the 22nd annual meeting of the Muslim American Society. At the end of the event, a Mexican couple converted to Islam by reciting the Islamic proclamation of faith with the help of the famous actor.

The couple said, “we were affected by Turkish TV series Resurrection: Ertuğrul and Turkey’s humanitarian activities around the world, and then decided to become Muslim.”

https://nation.com.pk/21-May-2020/mexican-couple-converted-to-islam-after-watching-ertugrul

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Lebanon's Hezbollah says perfectly ready for any confrontation with Israel

20 May 2020

A senior Hezbollah official says the liberation of Jerusalem al-Quds from Israeli occupation tops the agenda of the regional resistance front, and that the Lebanese movement is fully prepared for any type of confrontation with the regime in Tel Aviv in line with that objective.

“We are perfectly ready to confront any act of aggression or instance of folly that the Zionist regime could commit,” Seyyed Hashem Safieddine, head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television channel on Tuesday.

“The resistance movement is currently assured and well aware of its approach and choices in the event of such a confrontation with the enemy,” he added.

The movement, however, is not seeking war and is not working to ignite one, the official noted.

Israel in a ‘tight spot’

Safieddine further highlighted a string of defeats Israel has suffered in the face of the regional resistance front over the past years, including in the wars the regime waged against Lebanon in 2000 and 2006.

“The [Israeli] army, which had been described as invincible, was subdued and suffered defeat,” he said.

 The Zionist regime is currently caught in a “tight spot” as it has fallen short of answering questions that have to do with military affairs, Safieddine said.

Liberation of al-Quds

The Hezbollah official said the main goal of the regional resistance front is to secure the liberation of Jerusalem al-Quds from Israeli occupation, and that all have a “duty” to prepare for a confrontation with the Zionist regime to realize that objective.

Safieddine also pointed to the upcoming International al-Quds Day, emphasizing the importance of commemorating the “precious” occasion.

Every year, millions of Muslims and supporters of the Palestinian cause mark the occasion across the world on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan to underscore the plight of Palestinians, heeding a call by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini.

Israel ‘well aware of Hezbollah’s power’

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem likewise reaffirmed the movement’s readiness to deal with any Israeli act of aggression.

Today, Israel is having a hard time making waves inside Lebanon because it knows that Hezbollah is well-equipped and prepared for retaliation in case of any Israeli aggression.

Cited by Lebanon’s al-Ahd news website, the movement’s second-in-command said the Israelis themselves “assess everything well and know that the party that liberated its country (Lebanon)’s soil in 2006 is well capable of confronting them.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/05/20/625732/Lebanon-Israel-Hezbollah-confrontation

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South Asia

 

Afghan Taliban Supreme Leader Offers General Amnesty To Opponents

May 21, 2020

PESHAWAR: Afghan Taliban supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada has offered general amnesty to the group’s opponents, subject to them renouncing enmity. He has said that every male and female member of society shall be given their due rights.

In his felicitation message ahead of Eidul Fitr, issued on Wednesday, the Taliban leader categorically stated that “Islamic Emirate” did not have a monopolist policy and assured that every male and female member of Afghan society shall be given their due rights, as none shall feel any sense of deprivation or injustice.

“All work necessary for the welfare, durability and development of society will be addressed in the light of divine Shariah law,” the statement said. He offered general amnesty to all those standing in the opposition ranks if they choose to renounce their enmity.

“We urge everyone to take full advantage of this amnesty by ending their opposition and not becoming an impediment for the establishment of an Islamic government which is the aspiration of millions of martyred, wounded, disabled, orphaned, widowed and suffering Afghans,” said Akhundzada Haibatullah, who was declared Taliban’s supreme leader after the killing of his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

Mullah Mansour was killed in a US drone attack in Balochistan near the Iran border in May 2016.

Clarifying the external policy of the Taliban movement, he said that political relations of the ‘Islamic Emirate’ with regional and world countries had broadened tremendously compared to the past as trust and confidence was built based on the ‘emirate’ clarifying its stance and policy to others.

“On the basis of our policy, we seek to have brotherly relations with Islamic countries, neighbourly relations with our neighbors and strengthening of constructive relations with all regional and world countries in order that obligations be discharged vis-à-vis regional and global economic prosperity, security and communal life,” the statement quoted Mullah Haibatullah as saying, adding that they hoped other countries would reciprocate and take similar steps.

Terming the agreement with the US a historic deal, he said that resultant termination of occupation was an extraordinary accomplishment for the ‘Islamic Emirate’ and it could prove beneficial for all sides if implemented sincerely.

He said that the Taliban were committed to the agreement signed with America and urged other parties to honour their own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go to waste.

“The implementation of this agreement can prove to be a powerful instrument for bringing an end to the war between America and our country and for establishing peace and an Islamic system in our homeland,” he said.

He urged Washington not to afford anyone the opportunity to obstruct, delay and ultimately derail this internationally recognised bilateral agreement between Taliban and the US.

He said that detainees were languishing in harsh and difficult conditions in the prisons of the Kabul administration. He said that humanitarian organisations and various charitable groups and individuals should feel a sense of responsibility in this regard and must take all necessary steps for the safe and quick release of prisoners.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1558651/taliban-supreme-leader-offers-general-amnesty-to-opponents

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More than 100 Taliban militants killed, wounded after attacking Kunduz city

20 May 2020

The Afghan forces killed more than 50 Taliban militants during a clash in the outskirts of Kunduz city, the provincial capital of Kunduz province.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the Taliban militants launched a coordinated attack on Kunduz city late on Monday night.

Accoring to MoD, the Afghan forces effectively responded to the attack with the support of the Air Forces, killing more than 50 Taliban militants and wounding more than 60 others.

The defense ministry also added that additional special forces have been deployed to Kunduz city to better control the situation in the city.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/more-than-100-taliban-militants-killed-wounded-after-attacking-kunduz-city-08849/

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Clinic Bombed as Afghan Forces Fend Off Taliban Attack on Kunduz

By Mujib Mashal, Najim Rahim and Fahim Abed

May 19, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan — In a day of intensifying violence across Afghanistan, the country’s security forces bombed a clinic in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday in their efforts to thwart another coordinated assault by the Taliban on the provincial capital that the militants have twice overrun and continue to besiege.

The country’s conflict is back into full-fledged bloodletting after a brief period of hope that a deal between the United States and the Taliban in February would open the way for negotiations between the two Afghan sides.

The Taliban have ignored what U.S. officials describe as an understanding that they would reduce violence by up to 80 percent in the prelude to negotiations over a power-sharing agreement. Fighting was reported in 20 of the country’s 34 provinces over the past 24 hours, a senior Afghan official said.

After a series of bloody attacks by the Taliban in recent weeks, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan last week ordered his forces, which had remained on “active defense,” to go back on offense.

That change of posture by the government gave the Taliban the excuse to do away with any pretense of restraint and further ramp up attacks, particularly around cities they had largely avoided in recent months.

And with the U.S.-Taliban deal constraining how much support the United States can offer the Afghan government in offensive operations against the militants, the security forces are limited in how much they can do.

Overnight, insurgents attacked the security belt around the city of Kunduz from several directions, assaulting at least 17 outposts and bases of the Afghan forces, said Lt. Col. Mashooq Kohistani, commander of an Afghan Army battalion in Kunduz. Colonel Kohistani said that all the attacks had been fended off, but that fighting was continuing in one suburb of the city.

Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan’s defense minister, traveled to Kunduz for the operations and put Taliban fatalities at more than 50. He said eight members of the Afghan security force had been killed.

Ihsanullah Fazli, the provincial director of health in Kunduz, said that the clinic in the district of Chardara had been bombed and that several parts of it, including its ambulances, had been destroyed.

“We have some wounded among our personnel and patients, but we do not have any deaths,” Mr. Fazli said.

Abdul Wali, a nurse at the clinic who sustained wounds in his legs and arms, said about 50 people had been at the clinic at the time of the bombing.

“The Taliban brought their fighters for treatment, but there were civilians there, too,” Mr. Wali said. “The doors, the guard rooms, were struck. Our emergency section is destroyed.”

Mr. Wali and others who were wounded were taken to the main regional hospital in Kunduz, a city that has been overwhelmed by the spread of the coronavirus. Dozens of hospital staff members have been quarantined.

Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, denied that a clinic had been struck. But internal security communications in Kunduz, viewed by The New York Times, showed that A-29 attack aircraft of the Afghan Air Force had struck what the messages described as “a center for treatment of wounded Taliban in Chardara district.”

Although the area is heavily contested by the Taliban, the clinic is run by the Afghan government through an arrangement practiced in many volatile parts of the country, in which a nongovernmental organization is subcontracted to provide basic services.

Dr. Majeed Mohsen, an official at Just for Afghan Capacity and Knowledge, the NGO that runs the clinic in Chardara, said the center was established 10 years ago. In addition to treating war wounded, it had eight staff members providing basic health care, including maternity services and immunizations, as well as care for malnourished children. The clinic saw as many as 80 patients a day, Dr. Mohsen said.

In 2015, the first time the Taliban overran the city of Kunduz, the United States bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing at least 40 people.

The Taliban attack on Kunduz comes in a province whose leadership is in disarray.

The governor has resigned, citing illness, and his farewell on Tuesday was disrupted by a mortar that landed at his compound just as guests were leaving.

A day earlier, his deputy — now the acting governor — tested positive for Covid-19, according to local news reports. But he still appeared in meetings on Tuesday, including with all the senior security officials leading the response to the Taliban attack, standing next to the minister of defense without wearing a mask.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-kunduz.html

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Afghan Taliban leader says committed to deal with US

May 20, 2020

KABUL: The leader of the Taliban said Wednesday that terrorists were committed to a landmark deal with the US, despite being accused of carrying out thousands of attacks in Afghanistan since it was signed.

Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the deal to end America's longest war in a message released ahead of next week's Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement signed with America and urges the other side to honour its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go waste," Akhundzada said in a statement, using the name the Taliban called Afghanistan when they were in power.

"I urge American officials to not afford anyone the opportunity to obstruct, delay and ultimately derail this internationally recognised bilateral agreement" between the two sides, the reclusive leader added.

After months of negotiations, the Taliban and US signed a deal in February which stipulates Washington will withdraw all troops by next year in return for security guarantees.

US President Donald Trump's administration has made it a priority to end the war in Afghanistan, and in a bid to withdraw foreign forces US officials have been pushing the Taliban and Afghan leaders to hold peace talks.

Under the accord, the Taliban pledged to stop attacking cities and foreign forces, but has continued to target Afghan forces in the provinces.

Analysts say the Taliban have been emboldened by the February deal, and Afghan government officials have reported more than 3,800 attacks, which killed 420 civilians and wounded 906, since signing the deal.

The United Nations has warned that the spike in violence has also led to increased casualties among civilians.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-taliban-leader-says-committed-to-deal-with-us/articleshow/75844474.cms

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Taliban leader urges US 'not to waste' opportunity offered by deal

20 May 2020

The leader of the Taliban militant group says it has been committed to its deal with the United States, despite being accused of carrying out hundreds of attacks in Afghanistan since it was signed in February. 

In a rare message released on Wednesday, Haibatullah Akhundzada, who hails from the Taliban's traditional bastion of Kandahar, urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the deal to end America's longest war. 

The Taliban "is committed to the agreement... and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go waste," Akhundzada said.

"I urge American officials to not afford anyone the opportunity to obstruct, delay and ultimately derail this internationally recognized bilateral agreement", the Taliban leader added.

Under the Taliban-US deal signed in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, Washington is compelled to pull out American forces and foreign troops from Afghanistan by July next year, provided that the militants start talks with Kabul and adhere to other security guarantees.

Official data shows Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since the militant group inked the peace deal with the US.

Afghan government officials have reported more than 3,800 attacks since it was signed, killing 420 civilians and wounding 906.

In a horrendous attack last Tuesday, three gunmen attacked a maternity hospital in Kabul, opening fire at pregnant women and newborn babies there. At least 24 people were killed and 16 others were injured before the gunmen were taken out by Afghan security forces.

Even though the Taliban said it was not responsible for that attack, a claim that the US also made, the Afghan government said the militant group was to blame.

US Special Representative to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who brokered the deal with the Taliban, said last week the militants had kept up their end of the bargain, even if recent violence violated the spirit of it.

"The Taliban have implemented their agreement not to attack the coalition forces," he said.

Last week, and in the face of the rising violence, President Ashraf Ghani ordered the country’s military to switch to offensive mode from a defensive one that had been adopted several months before in an attempt to save the deal between the US and the Taliban.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. While the invasion ended the Taliban’s rule in the country, it has failed to eliminate the militant group.

American forces have since remained bogged down in Afghanistan through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now, Donald Trump.

Amid the continued occupation, the Daesh terrorist group has emerged in the Asian country more recently.

About 2,400 US soldiers have been killed, along with unknown numbers of Afghan troops and Taliban militants. Over 100,000 Afghans have been killed or injured since 2009 when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting casualties.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/05/20/625764/Taliban-Akhundzada-Afghanistan-US-Trump-Daesh

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Eight worshippers killed, 12 injured in attack on Afghan mosque in Ramadan

19 May 2020

Unidentified gunmen have launched an attack on a mosque in Afghanistan's eastern province of Parwan, killing at least eight worshipers and wounding several others.

Afghan officials said the casualties took place on Tuesday evening when the armed assailants stormed the mosque in Parwan's provincial capital of Charekar and opened fire on the worshipers breaking their fast in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The attack left eight people dead and 12 others injured, with reports saying the gunmen had fled the scene.

No group or individual has so far claimed responsibility for the deadly assault, but the Afghan ministry of interior blamed it on the Taliban militant group.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Taliban launched an attack on Afghan security forces in the northern city of Kunduz, killing eight and injuring several others.

The incident came a week after President Ashraf Ghani ordered the country’s military to resume its operation against the militants following a string of deadly attacks on security forces.

The United Nations has warned of an alarming uptick in violence against civilians and a “striking deterioration” in respect for international humanitarian law in Afghanistan.

The number of casualties attributed to violence by the Taliban militants last month rose by a quarter compared to the same month a year earlier to 208, while casualties attributed to Afghan security forces rose 38 percent to 172.

Official data shows Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since the militant group inked a peace deal with the United States in February.

In a horrendous attack last Tuesday, three gunmen attacked a maternity hospital in Kabul, opening fire at pregnant women and newborn babies there. At least 24 people were killed and 16 others were injured before the gunmen were taken out by Afghan security forces.

Under the Taliban-US deal signed in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, Washington is compelled to pull out American forces and foreign troops from Afghanistan by July next year, provided that the militants start talks with Kabul and adhere to other security guarantees.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. While the invasion ended the Taliban’s rule in the country, it has failed to eliminate the militant group.

American forces have since remained bogged down in Afghanistan through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now, Donald Trump.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/05/19/625720/gunmen-mosque-Afghanistan-Parwan-

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Southeast Asia

 

Unleashing full power of zakat during COVID-19 pandemic

Abd Rohim Ghazali and Erni Juliana Al Hasanah Nasution

May 21, 2020

Islam has financial instruments to alleviate poverty and distribute income fairly. Known as ZIS, they comprise mandatory tithes or zakat, infaq (voluntary charity to a group of people) and sadaqah (alms to anyone); the instruments therefore help government programs to reduce inequality and improve social welfare, thereby promoting economic growth.

Zakat comprises small parts of any asset given to eight categories of receivers including the needy, the poor and people trapped in debt, and the conditions in line with Islamic teachings are regulated in the 2011 law on zakat management. The conditions of one type of tithes, the zakat mal, for instance, is that the asset, including salaries, has to have accumulated for one year.

In addition to zakat mal, before celebrating Idul Fitri, every Muslim is required to pay zakat fitrah, which is around Rp 40,000 (US$2.72) per person, today’s value for 2.5 kilograms of rice. Its main purpose is to help the poor and needy join the celebration while purifying those who fast from inappropriate actions or comments.

To help the nation overcome this pandemic, one thing Muslims can do is optimize the aforementioned instruments to help communities survive. To help affected people and support the needs of health equipment, the Indonesian Ulema’s Council (MUI) even stated in its April fatwa on ZIS funds that contributions from zakat mal do not have to wait for one year’s accumulation of assets.

According to the National Alms Agency’s (BAZNAS) Potential Mapping Indicator, the potential for zakat in 2019 was Rp 233.8 trillion (US$ 15.7 billion). Its chairman, Bambang Sudibyo, said that the nationwide potential this year was about Rp 340 trillion. Even though the realization this year would be far from initial expectations, the amount of zakat income in 2020 would still be very significant to aid millions of people severely affected by COVID-19.

The Ramadan fasting month is the most popular time for zakat and charity. As usual, many individuals, various informal groups and communities – whether neighborhoods, mosques, schools, mass organizations, alumni groups or WhatsApp groups – have been collecting alms and tithes, even more intensively this year because of the economic hardships around us. In the holy month, the faithful are reminded to watch out for neighbors, relatives and anyone else who may not even have food for the day.

As always, the issue is accountability and whether anyone can raise such public funds. According to the Zakat Law, BAZNAS and zakat management institutions (LAZ) are authorized to collect and distribute zakat.

While BAZNAS was formed by the government to manage zakat at the national level, LAZ are formed based on community or organization initiatives. At present, BAZNAS exists in all 34 provinces and 514 regencies/cities. Meanwhile, there are 24 LAZ at the national level, 12 at the provincial level and 33 across regencies/cities

All LAZ must be legal as they manage public funds. Competence is required – adequate knowledge, skills and the right attitudes, willingness and ability to understand and comply with Islamic legal interpretations on zakat; thus good intentions are not enough for the manager or amil zakat. What is more important is accountability, which is both spiritual and operational. Accountability thus means the zakat managers’ accountability to God, and because humans are God’s representatives on earth, they must be accountable to their fellow humans.

Therefore, the management of zakat must meet the following requirements. First, it must be registered under an Islamic community organization managing education, Islamic preaching and/or social affairs, and as a legal, nonprofit entity.

Second, it must acquire recommendation from BAZNAS. Third, it must have a sharia supervisor. Fourth, it must have the technical, administrative and financial capabilities to carry out its activities. Fifth, it must have a program to utilize zakat for peoples’ welfare. Sixth, it must be prepared to be audited regularly according to principles of sharia and finance as regulated under the Zakat Law.

Article 38 of the Zakat Law also stipulates that people are prohibited from acting as the amil zakat to collect, distribute or use zakat without permission from authorities. The law states a violation of this rule can result in a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of Rp 50 million.

Now, how can we align zakat management law with the informal collection and distribution of alms and tithes in the community? This is what needs attention. Don't let burgeoning charity, especially in these difficult times, be hampered by regulations and red tape.

The pandemic has aroused extraordinary solidarity among citizens, with all elements of society working to help others. Don’t dampen this spirit because some of the efforts may be considered illegal.

This is where BAZNAS and LAZ needs to be more proactive, simplify the bureaucracy and take the initiative to work directly with communities through neighborhoods and mosques throughout Indonesia by forming zakat management units among communities while involving the locals.

The local units would be able to obtain data on the amount of tithes and alms in the regions. Data collected from the community can be accumulated as part of national ZIS management data.

Any initiative to collect zakat funds must be monitored by the authorities to avoid fraud and to ensure the collection and distribution follows the law. In this way, zakat would become a real power that can be used to help the government overcome the COVID-19 disaster.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2020/05/21/unleashing-full-power-of-zakat-during-covid-19-pandemic.html

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Covid-19: Interfaith group says working with authorities on guidelines for non-Muslim places of worship

14 May 2020

BY JERRY CHOONG

KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is currently in discussions with the National Security Council and Health Ministry on guidelines for non-Muslim places of worship during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Its deputy president Jagir Singh said the discussions began last week. The guidelines are expected to help the management in these places of worship to conduct prayers or ceremonies and handle its congregants, once it has been deemed fit for them to reopen.

“There is no fixed date on when the discussions will conclude, but I hope it will be within the next two weeks,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Earlier today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced that select mosques and surau in the Federal Territories will be permitted to conduct daily and Friday prayers under strict standard operating procedures, including limiting the number of congregants to a maximum of 30 people.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/05/14/covid-19-interfaith-group-says-working-with-authorities-on-guidelines-for-n/1866156

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Indonesia: Shia Uprooted by Violence on Madura Island Long to Go Home

2020-05-20

At a government-owned apartment complex in the Indonesian city of Sidoarjo, near Surabaya, children play in the yard as their parents sit together and talk to pass the time.

They are among more than 330 residents here who belong to Indonesia’s Shia Muslim minority and were forced to flee their village on nearby Madura Island in 2012, after an attack by neighbors from the Sunni majority left one person dead.

Now, the leader of the uprooted community who was formerly imprisoned for alleged blasphemy, says he sees a glimmer of hope that the Shia will soon be able to live again in Sampang, their home regency.

“Our intention has always been to return to our home village,” Tajul Muluk, who is a cleric, told BenarNews. “We hope it won’t be delayed until next year. The local government needs to provide certainty.”

Tajul said the community continued to communicate with religious and community leaders in Sampang and regency chief Slamet Junaidi had recently expressed willingness to allow the displaced Shia residents to return there.

On Aug. 26, 2012, hundreds of Sunni residents, armed with machetes and sickles, attacked the Shia community on Madura and torched their homes. The attack killed a 45-year-old woman and seriously injured several people.

It culminated years of problems that Shia residents of the island had faced from government officials and religious authorities, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). A similar attack occurred in December 2013, but with no fatalities.

Many Sunnis consider Shiism to be a deviant sect but, in 2012, Madura security officials attributed the violence to a conflict within a religiously prominent family, members of which were both Sunnis and Shias.

According to HRW, in 2009 Tajul had a disagreement with his younger brother that led the sibling join an anti-Shia campaign in Madura.

In July 2012, a local court sentenced Tajul to two years in prison after finding him guilty of spreading deviant teachings “causing public anxiety” and blaspheming Islam. The term was later raised to four years after prosecutors appealed for a longer sentence.

During his trial in Madura, some witnesses testified that the cleric had taught that the current Quran was not an authentic text; Muslims should pray only three times a day instead of five; and the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was not obligatory.

Tajul is one of more than 150 people, mostly members of religious minorities, who have been convicted under Indonesia’s Blasphemy Laws since it was enacted in 1965, Human Rights Watch said.

The law is designed to protect the six religions recognized by the Indonesian state – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. But in practice, it has been used against members of religious minorities deemed to have blasphemed Islam.

In one of the most prominent cases prosecuted under the law, in 2017 a court sentenced Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, a Christian, to two years in prison after finding him guilty of blasphemy for comments in an edited video of a public speech by him that were deemed as blasphemous toward Islam.

Cramped apartments

At the Jemundo apartment blocks in Sidoarja, where the displaced Shia live, each family, which typically has six to eight members, occupies a 30 square-meter (323 square-foot) flat.

Before maintenance work earlier this year, the complex had been in a state of disrepair for more than five years. Residents described it as dilapidated and squalid.

In its 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom, which it published last year, the U.S. State Department noted the case of the uprooted Indonesian Shia community.

“More than 338 Shia Muslims from Madura remained displaced on the outskirts of Surabaya … after communal violence forced them from their homes in 2012,” the report said.

The State Department noted that the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the country’s top clerical body that is funded by the government, had called upon mosques to increase compassion and tolerance instead of hatred and hate speech, in the wake of attacks carried out in 2018 against religious minority groups, including Ahmadi Muslims.

But “Intolerant groups” also used MUI fatwas to justify actions against religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, even though the fatwas lacked legal standing, the report noted.

“Individuals affiliated at the local level with the MUI used rhetoric considered intolerant by religious minorities, including fatwas declaring Shia and Ahmadis as deviant sects,” it said. “Shia and Ahmadi Muslims reported feeling under constant threat from ‘intolerant groups.’”

There are an estimated 2.5 million Shias in Indonesia, but most of them keep their beliefs secret, citing fears of being persecuted or estranged from their families.

In March 2020, representatives of the Shia community in Sidoarja went to the office of East Java Gov. Khofifah Indar Parawansa to demand that they be allowed to return for good to Madura and that a 2012 gubernatorial regulation on the monitoring of “deviant sects” be revoked. Both Madura and Sidoarja are in East Java province.

Khofifah, who did not see the protesters, sent a senior official to meet with the Shia group at their apartment complex, but his office has since taken no concrete action to meet their demands, Tajul said.

“So far, there has been no response from the governor,” Tajul said.

A member of the provincial legislative council, Hari Putri Lestari, said the governor needed to address the plight of the displaced Shia.

“The governor should be responsive to their needs,” she told BenarNews.

Officials at the governor’s office could not be immediately reached for comment.

Slamet Junaidi, the regent of Sampang, met with the Shia community in their apartment complex in early May and assured them that there would not be any discrimination against the religious minority if they returned to the island.

Talks with religious and community leaders in Sampang about accepting the Shia residents were ongoing, he also said.

“We continue to maintain communication with the Shia community,” Slamet said at the time.

‘Not accustomed to living on handouts’

In Sidoarjo, other residents have treated the Shias relatively well, despite some suspicion from locals at the beginning of their stay here, Tajul told BenarNews.

“So far there has been no discrimination. Praying in the mosque is safe,” he said, adding that Shia and Sunni neighbors had previously visited each other on Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

However in 2018, the government of Sidoarja stopped allowing Shia children to attend pre-school, forcing the community to provide early childhood education independently, he said.

Many Shia residents make a living as farmers and selling food, including traditional Madurese satay, to supplement a monthly stipend of 709,000 rupiah (U.S. $48) they receive from the government. Some others do odds jobs, including in construction.

“We are not accustomed to living on handouts. The thing that we have in mind most is returning to our home village,” Tajul said.

He said the community had no problems accessing basic government services, such as obtaining ID cards, marriage certificates as well as papers for their properties back home.

The coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has not affected the Shia community much, although some of its members have complained about losing income, Tajul said. The city government has helped out the Shia by supplying them with masks and food during the public health crisis, he said.

Full report at:

https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/shia-home-05202020164016.html

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Indonesia in Critical Period, Says Covid-19 Task Force Head

MAY 21, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia is entering a critical period in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak, National Covid-19 Task Force head Doni Monardo said on Wednesday as confirmed cases of the disease have been growing at the fastest speed during the last nine days.

The critical period came the week before and after Idul Fitri, the most important holiday for Indonesian Muslims when social distancing policy will come under a real test.

“This is a very critical moment for us, before and after Lebaran,” Doni said in a news conference, using another term for the holiday that falls on Sunday, right after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Health officials especially in Jakarta will be on alert during the next two weeks to anticipate people movement into the capital after Idul Fitri.

“I have reported to the president about post-Lebaran potential threat in which residents return to Jakarta from their hometowns. We are worried that people from new epicenters of the outbreak return to Jakarta as the carrier of the virus. If that happens, all our efforts all these times will be useless,” Doni said.

Last year, around 19 million people left Greater Jakarta to celebrate Idul Fitri in their hometowns and a lot more people including job seekers flocked into Jakarta and its satellite cities afterward.

Ramadan exodus was banned this year to contain the spread of the disease, but Doni said some people had managed to leave and very likely would come back after Idul Fitri.

Jakarta, home to 32.5 percent of coronavirus cases in Indonesia, has decided to extend the so-called large-scale social restriction until June 4. It has imposed the restriction since April 10.

Doni said his team is asking help from the military and the police to prevent arrivals in Jakarta until a full reopening of the capital.

“I hope the task force at the provincial and district levels can work together with the police and the military to curb transmissions,” Doni, an army general, said.

His remarks came on the day when daily cases set a new record. Confirmed cases of Covid-19 soared by 693 on Wednesday to a total of 19,189, including 1,242 deaths and 4,575 recovered patients.

Full report at:

https://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-in-critical-period-says-covid19-task-force-head

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Thailand detains 15 Malaysia-bound Rohingya for illegal entry

May 20, 2020

BANGKOK: Police in Thailand have arrested 15 Rohingya Muslims on charges of illegal entry and are investigating the possibility that they could be victims of human trafficking.

Twelve of the detainees were arrested late on Tuesday and three more on Wednesday morning in Thailand’s Mae Sot, close to a bridge that separates the two countries, police said.

All were from Buthidaung, home to one of the largest concentrations of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s northwestern Rakhine State.

“They have been preliminarily charged with illegal entry, pending further interrogation to determine whether they are victims of human trafficking,” Phubed Sang-aram, superintendent of the Mae Sot district police, told Reuters by phone.

Phubed said three Thais had also been arrested for providing accommodation to illegal migrants.

Local television showed a video of the group of mostly Rohingya women sitting on the floor being questioned by police.

The group had planned to go to Malaysia via Thailand, said Chaiyapheuk Chiantranluk, the Mae Sot district chief.

Vast numbers of Rohingya fled a 2017 military crackdown in the largely Buddhist Rakhine state that the UN said was executed with genocidal intent.

Many Rohingya risked death and starvation on perilous boat journeys in the hope of reaching predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

Myanmar denies allegations that its security forces have committed atrocities against them and says it was conducting a legitimate security operation against militants who attacked police posts.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2020/05/20/thailand-detains-15-malaysia-bound-rohingya-for-illegal-entry/

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India

 

A Lawyer In Madhya Pradesh Beaten Up By The Police As They Mistook Him For A Muslim

MAY 20, 2020

The lawyer, Deepak Bundele, took an audio recording of a visit by two policemen; Sub-Inspector suspended.

The Madhya Pradesh police on Wednesday suspended a sub-inspector for telling a lawyer he was allegedly beaten up by the police as they mistook him for a Muslim, for he sported a beard.

The lawyer, Deepak Bundele, who is diabetic, was going to the district hospital in Betul on March 23 to seek treatment, with only prohibitory orders in force ahead of the lockdown, when the police reportedly thrashed him.

On May 17, two policemen, including the official now suspended, visited him to take a statement. “Police, whenever there are Hindu-Muslim riots, always sides with the Hindus, even Muslims know it. But this happened, it was a mistake,” one of the policemen is heard in an audio clip Mr. Bundele recorded. “So you are saying they thrashed me thinking I am a Muslim,” he asked them, to which one of them replied, “Yes, that is the case, your beard is long too.”

“Vo galat fehmi ke shikar hue (they were victims of a misunderstanding). It happens. We are in deep sorrow,” the policemen are heard apologising to him. Mr. Bundele is heard saying, “What is my value now, of my career? That a lawyer got beaten up by the police?”

The Hindu called the sub-inspector on the phone, who attested to the remarks and the meeting: “He looks like a Muslim. It was a confusion... He had a long beard. Sometimes such incidents happen. I made it clear that sometimes the police make mistakes, and for that we apologise. But he didn’t listen and he went ahead with the statement.”

In Mr. Bundele’s recording, one of the policemen is heard pressing him not to register his statement, “Don’t write it now, please listen to me. You are like my child. A voice is coming out of my heart, that the police officials with me didn’t misbehave or thrash anyone...This is the country of Gandhi, we are children of Gandhi. The thing is they mistook you as belonging to a different community, that’s why the incident happened. it’s nothing else.”

Although Mr. Bundele wrote to the Inspector General of Police, Hoshangabad and even the Chief Minister about the remarks on May 18 itself, Betul police admitted to not knowing about the remarks on Wednesday morning.

After The Hindu inquired about the incident with Shraddha Joshi, Additional Superintendent of Police, Betul, she sought the recording and hours later informed that the official had been suspended. A case has not been registered so far.

Despite the recordings, Ms. Joshi claimed the inquiry of the Sub Divisonal Officer of Police, Betul, had held the thrashing can't be proved in the first place due to lack of evidence. “He hasn’t able to recognise any of the accused officials saying they were wearing masks at the time of the incident. There are no witnesses to the incident,” she claimed.

When asked about the Sub-Inspector apologising for the thrashing in the recording, she said the police were going to investigate the incident from scratch.

In his complaint, Mr. Bundele has stated he had sought the video recording of the area, where he was thrashed, from the police under the Right to Information Act. Ms. Joshi, the Public Information Officer, has rejected the query as he had not stated the purpose of seeking the footage under Section 8 of the Act, which exempts disclosure of information under certain circumstances. The query is now pending before the Superintendent of Police (SP), the first appellate authority.

Despite repeated attempts, D.S. Bhadoria, the SP, did not take phone calls or respond to text messages for a comment.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/police-beat-up-lawyer-for-being-muslim/article31635642.ece

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SC Agrees To Hear Plea Of Muslim And Student Organisations Against CAA

May 20, 2020

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a fresh batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) but refused to pass any interim order to stay its operation.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy issued notice to Centre seeking its response on the petitions and tagged them with other petitions filed earlier against CAA. The court passed the order on petitions filed by Tamil Nadu Thoweed Jamat, All Assam Law Students Union, Muslim Students Federation (Assam) and others. More than 150 petitions have so far been filed in apex court on the issue.

Tamil Nadu Thoweed Jamat, who filed the petition through advocate Vikas Singh Jangra, alleged that the amendment is against the fundamental principle of ‘secularism’, which is enshrined as basic structure of the Constitution as it has introduced religion as a reference point for acquisition of citizenship for illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

“The present Act has raised severe insecurity and apprehension in the mind of Muslim minority all over the country as the Act stands to be anti- Muslim community and anti- minority even on the face of it. The Act has made a clear exclusion of Muslim community in regards to the government policy of giving citizenship to the undocumented migrants and refugees. The Citizenship Act, 1955 is on a principle that the citizenship as a unifying idea. Its shared identity is at the core of citizenship and has been at the core since the time the constitution was enacted in India,”it said.

Muslim Students Federation in its plea alleged that Citizenship Amendment Act was in direct contradiction to the Assam Accord of 1985 and Section 6A of the Citizenship Act and pleaded the court to declare the amendment as unconstitutional and illegal.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-agrees-to-hear-plea-of-muslim-and-student-organisations-against-caa/articleshow/75849325.cms

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Muslim migrants from Bihar find shelter in Assam Hindu household

14th May 2020

GUWAHATI: It is not just bad news the COVID-19 has thrown up. Some people have set examples of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood too.

Dev Kumar (55) did not think twice before giving shelter to 13 stranded toymakers from Bihar’s Khagaria and Saharsa districts under his roof. They have been living in his house in Lower Assam’s Dhubri district since the first week of March.

These artisans visit the house of Kumar, who is a potter, every year to sell toys in the fairs. They stay with him and return home after about two-three months.

“I give them shelter every year. They make toys with bamboo, plastic and earthen items. I manufacture the earthen items in my pottery and sell those to them. They sell the finished products in some fairs in Dhubri district,” Kumar told this newspaper.

The men were at their wit’s end after they were stranded in the lockdown. They had purchased food for themselves as long as they had money. Now, Kumar and his Hindu neighbours are feeding them.

“I have two extra rooms where they stay. This being the Ramzan month, somebody brings fruits and somebody else brings something else for them. Every evening, my family offers puja and they offer their Ramzan namaaz,” Kumar said.

The potter said these artisans were victims of circumstances and they desperately needed some help. He appealed to the government to facilitate the men’s return to Bihar.

Kumar lives in a joint family with his wife, three daughters, one son and three brothers. The family, originally hailing from Bihar, has been settled in Dhubri for decades.

The migrant toymakers are viewing Kumar as their “saviour”.

“He is our saviour. Help coming in from him and his neighbours has kept us alive. We will never forget them,” Sajid, who hails from Khagaria, said.

Fellow artisan Mohammad Hira from Saharsa said, “I will remain thankful to him (Kumar) for the rest of my life. I am the lone breadwinner in my five-member family and I am stranded here. My wife and children in Bihar are facing a lot of problems.”

Two days ago, when a Hindu died in Assam’s Sivasagar, some Muslims had taken the lead in cremating the body. Advocate Masud Akhtar Zaman of Dhubri said the two incidents underscored goodness still prevails in the society.

Full report at:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/good-news/2020/may/14/muslim-migrants-from-bihar-find-shelter-in-assam-hindu-household-2143362.html

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Muslims help perform last rites of Hindu man in Tumakaru

S. Bhuvaneshwari

MAY 14, 2020

Communal amity to the fore as 10 Muslim youths reach out to the poor family in Tumakuru

Ten Muslim youth helped a Hindu family to perform the last rites of a person in the sealed down area in Tumakuru on Tuesday.

At a time when people are not ready to touch anyone out of fear of contracting the COVID-19 infection, 10 Muslim youth who have been identified as ‘CORONA warriors’ in the Tilak Park police station limits provided the necessary help and financial assistance to the poor Hindu family of K.H.B. Colony, where a 60-year-old man died due to age-related illness on Tuesday.

Narayana Rao, 60, a physically challenged person, was working as a tailor. He died on Tuesday. Relatives could not come due to the lockdown. K.H.B. Colony has been completely sealed after a man died due to COVID-19 and a couple, his neighbours, tested positive.

Mohammed Khalid rushed to his friend, H.N. Puneeth Kumar Rao’s house after he came to know that Narayana Rao, his father, had died. He called his fellow Corona Warriors and supported the family in their moment of grief. All the ten Muslim youth, including Imran, Tipu, Sheru, Sharuq, Thoufiq, Mansoor and Mohammed Khalid went to the house of the deceased and told them that they would make all the arrangements to shift the body and conduct the last rites.

Mr. Mohammed Khalid told The Hindu, “Our friend Imran gave 5,000 to the family and we carried the body from the house to the ambulance.

He said the deceased person’s younger brother and two sons (nephews), who stay in the colony, were not ready to come to arrange the last rites out of fear of contracting the infection.

They convinced them that Narayana Rao had tested negative for COVID-19 four days ago and persuaded them to come to the house of the deceased.

He said they would have gone to the cremation ground, but did not go as they were in the sealed down area. He thanked the district administration for extending cooperation.

Full report at:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/muslims-help-perform-last-rites-of-hindu-man/article31579292.ece

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Isolate countries that support terrorism: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu

May 21, 2020

NEW DELHI: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday all countries must come together to isolate nations that support and abet terrorism. In his message on Anti-Terrorism Day, Naidu paid tributes to the men and the women who sacrificed their lives to "safeguard the motherland from the evil of terrorism".

"Terrorism is the enemy of humanity and the biggest threat to global peace. All countries must come together to isolate nations that support and abet terrorism in any form," he said.

Fight against terrorism is not the responsibility of security forces alone but the the duty of every citizen to fight the evil, Naidu said.

"All Indians must always remain united to defeat the scourge of terrorism," the vice president said in his message tweeted by his secretariat.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/isolate-countries-that-support-terrorism-vice-president-m-venkaiah-naidu/articleshow/75859680.cms

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2 BSF men killed in J&K terror attack, 4 held for LeT link

May 20, 2020

SRINAGAR: Two BSF personnel were on Wednesday gunned down in the line of duty by a pair of motorbike-borne terrorists in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, the attack coming a day after security forces killed top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Junaid Sehrai and an aide in downtown Srinagar.

Constables Rana Mandal and Zia-ul-Haq, both from West Bengal, were part of a road-opening party of the 37 Battalion that came under attack while patrolling the Pandach area, around 14km from Srinagar, a BSF spokesperson said.

The terrorists snatched the duo's service weapons – an AK-47 and an Insas rifle – before speeding away. The constables were declared dead on arrival at the nearby SKIMS Hospital in Soura.

In Budgam, around an hour's drive from Srinagar, a joint team of J&K Police and the Army on Wednesday arrested four "terrorist associates" of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba and seized arms, ammunition and incriminating documents from them.

The arrested men were identified as Muzaffar Ahmad Dar, Mudassir Ahmad Lone and Younis Waza of Budran village and Nazir Ahmad Sheikh of Poshkar Khag.

According to police, the quartet had been providing logistic support and shelter to Lashkar terrorists operating in the area. DGP Dilbagh Singh said there were currently more than 14 terrorists "active in Srinagar and its outskirts" and 240-odd across the Valley.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/2-bsf-men-killed-in-jk-terror-attack-4-held-for-let-link/articleshow/75855461.cms

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Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

May 20, 2020

JAMMU: Pakistan violated ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K’s Poonch district on Wednesday morning, resorting to unprovoked firing and mortar shelling targeting forward Indian posts and border villages in the area. This is the third such breach of truce in the past 24 hours.

On Tuesday, Pakistan had violated the ceasefire twice along the LoC — first in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district around 7.30am followed by Poonch’s Balakote sector around 10pm.

Sharing details of Wednedsay’s violation, Jammu-based defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said, “Around 9.30am, Pakistan initiated indiscriminate firing of small arms and shelled mortars along the LoC in Poonch’s Kirni and Degwar sectors. Indian troops retaliated effectively and no injury or damage has been suffered by own side.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-violates-ceasefire-along-loc-in-poonch/articleshow/75855322.cms

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Hope of opening of Afghan-India trade via ICP after Pakistan opened its borders with Afghan for trade

May 20, 2020

AMRITSAR: The Afghanistan-India trade via Integrated Check Post (ICP), Attari, Amritsar , may resume in near future after Afghanistan and Pakistan decided to open Torkham and Chaman border for trade.

The news has spread cheers among the importers of dry fruits and herbs from Afghanistan who were finding it hard to survive with the closure of Afghan trade via ICP after both India and Pakistan sealed the borders to contain the spread of corona virus.

According to sources, Pakistan’s’ ministry of interior, during its meeting held on May 15 had decided to open Torkham and Chaman borders round the clock and allowed movement of unlimited number of trucks between the two countries.

Sources informed that since Afghanistan and Pakistan had opened their borders so they believed that the next step would be opening of Indo-Pak border via ICP for the Afghanistan trade for which Pakistan will provide transit passage even as the trade with Pakistan would continue to be suspended.

President of federation of Karyana and dry fruit commercial association Anil Mehra said "The news of opening of Afghanistan-Pakistan has come as a major relief to the importers whose survival depends on the trade with Afghanistan."

He claimed that Afghan dry fruits and herbs including rattan jot, jira, mulethi trade was over rupees one crore with India. He further said that with partial opening of markets and lifting of lockdown , the importers were hopeful of early liquidation of their stocks and would want resumption of trade with Afghanistan.

Though there is no official information about resumption of Afghan trade but sources informed that concerned departments have buckled themselves up with the hope of opening of ICP for Afghan trade any time now.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hope-of-opening-of-afghan-india-trade-via-icp-after-pakistan-opened-its-borders-with-afghan-for-trade/articleshow/75851377.cms

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Hizbul man wanted for multiple murders held

May 21, 2020

A Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist allegedly involved in the killing of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, his brother, and a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary in Jammu & Kashmir Kishtwar was arrested on Tuesday in a fresh setback to the outfit that has lost its top commanders this month.

Senior police superintendent (Kishtwar) Harmeet Singh Mehta said Rustam Ali was involved in the killings of BJP leader Anil Parihar, his brother, as well as RSS’s Chandrakant Sharma and his guard.

The Parihar brothers were killed in November 2018 and Sharma and his bodyguard five months later in April 2019. Mehta said Ali has been handed over to the National Investigation Agency, which took him to Jammu. The cases were handed over to the federal anti-terror agency last year.

Police said Ali was a close associate of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, 35, who carried a bounty of Rs 12 lakh on his head and was killed in Pulwama district on May 6. Another top commander of the group, Junaid Ashraf Khan, was among two terrorists killed in an overnight gunbattle with security forces in Srinagar’s Nawakadal area on Tuesday

Tahir Bhat, an alleged Hizbul Mujahideen recruiter, was killed in Doda district on Monday. Bhat was allegedly assigned the task of carrying out fresh recruits while Ali was doing the same in the adjoining Kishtwar district. He is also believed to have had a role in Sharma and his guard’s murder.

Security forces have now launched a manhunt for the region’s oldest surviving terrorist, Jehangir Saroori. “This militant is hiding in the upper reaches of Marwah and Dachhan belt in Kishtwar district adjoining Doda district. He is the oldest surviving terrorist in Jammu & Kashmir and carries an award of around Rs 50 lakh on his head...,” said a police officer, requesting anonymity.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hizb-man-wanted-for-multiple-murders-held/story-aPpwPMorn8W7jsof9B5cdN.html

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Mideast

 

Iran’s Top Commander: End of Israel Even Felt in Tel Aviv Streets

May 20, 2020

“The strategic depth of the Palestine-centered resistance’s discourse has weakened occupiers' resolve by its pervasive influence in the geography of Quds and the lands around it and these days, whispers of the end of usurper Israel is even heard in the streets and garrisons of Tel Aviv,” General Baqeri said in a message on Wednesday on the occasion of the International Quds Day (May 22).

He added that despite their media propaganda and spending trillions of dollars in the region, the Zionist regime and its supporter, the US, are no more able to speak of war against the Islamic Revolution, and their threats and anti-Iran sanctions have also proven fruitless.

General Baqeri also assured the Palestinian nation and their holy cause that the Iranian nation and Armed Forces will remain in the frontline of the united front against the Zionist regime and they will foil the Zionists and US plot called Deal of the Century, annexation of the West Bank and other modern and complicated plots.

The message was released a few days after Head of the Tehran bureau of the Islamic Jihad Movement of Palestine Nasser Abu Sharif praised General Soleimani for his strenuous efforts in line with the Palestinian cause to liberate Quds from Israeli occupation.

“General Soleimani’s ultimate goal was the holy Quds wherever he was. He thought of Quds when he was in Iraq or Syria. No matter which part of the Muslim lands he was, his ultimate objective was liberation of Quds,” Abu Sharif said, addressing a seminar in the Republic of Azerbaijan to commemorate the International Quds Day (May 22) via a video conference on Sunday.

He said that the Palestinian people enjoy the spirit of struggling and are always after liberation of their occupied lands and have never become tired of pursuing this cause.

Abu Sharif warned that if Muslims do not consider Quds as their compass, they will lose their path and unity among them will fade away.

General Soleimani played a key role in assisting the resistance forces in the region.

Head of the Research Center of the International Islamic Awareness Organization Hossein Akbari underlined that Israel was forced to change its war strategy from offensive to defensive mode after General Soleimani stood beside the resistance front’s leaders.

“Actually, martyr Soleimani was the initiator of a strategic move which forced Israel to change strategy from offensive to defensive,” Akbari said in an interview with Persian-language Sobh-e No on Saturday.

He explained that General Soleimani awakened many people in the Muslim world when he stood beside Secretary-General of Hezbollah resistance group in Lebanon and defeated Israel in 2006 while many imagined that the regime cannot be defeated.

“It was the first and biggest failure of Israel,” Akbari said, adding that it was followed by the regime’s second defeat during the 22-day war against Gaza.

“Martyr Soleimani's command ran through the Palestinian resistance in a unique way and defeated Israel in the territories occupied by the regime,” he underlined.

Akbari said that after all these defeats, the Syria war was ignited and the US and its allies attempted to establish security for Israel but General Soleimani’s advice to the Syrian army commanders defeated them again.

General Soleimani had before his martyrdom in January 2020, in an interview disclosed some untold facts about the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah 33-day War.

“I should say that the 33-day war had some hidden causes which were the principle factors leading to the war. The war had some apparent and some hidden causes, the pretext of which were the hidden goals that the [Zionist] regime sought for a period of time. When I say there were hidden causes, we had some information about the preparations of the Zionist regime, but we had no information on the fact that the enemy wanted to launch an attack in ambush. Later, based on two circumstances, we concluded that prior to this war, a swift ambush was supposed to be conducted to overturn Hezbollah. Well, this war happened when two important events, one concerning the entire region and another exclusively concerning the Zionist regime were taking place,” he said in 2019 in an interview with Khamenei.ir website.

He said that Tel Aviv was using the opportunity of the presence of US military forces in the region to uproot Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon, adding that some Arab countries were also collaborating with the Israeli-American plot.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990231000634

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United on Quds, religious scholars decry Israel’s occupation of Palestine

20 May 2020

Senior religious and political figures in the Arab world slam Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and support the struggle of the people of Palestine to liberate their lands.

A senior leader of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement warned the Tel Aviv regime of serious negative repercussions in case Israeli officials commit an act of folly against the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.

“The Palestinian nation and the people of al-Quds (Jerusalem) are defending their faith in the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Holy City. We warn the Zionists against committing any stupid move concerning al-Aqsa Mosque,” Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Political Bureau Chief, said during a speech he delivered via video link on Wednesday ahead of the International Quds Day, which falls on May 22 this year.

The International Quds Day is a legacy of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, who designated the day in solidarity with Palestinians.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the event has been held worldwide on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Hanyieh then called for a comprehensive measure in the face of the controversial plan laid out by US President Donald Trump on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dubbed ‘deal of century.’

The top Hamas leader underlined that Trump’s proposed plan is based on the liquidation of the Palestinian cause, Jerusalem al-Quds in particular, and seeks to abolish the Palestinian right of return.

Haniyeh further highlighted that Jerusalem al-Quds is now suffering one of its most dangerous stages.

“Today, we are facing a big and dangerous challenge, especially that the new Israeli cabinet has opted to annex parts of the West Bank, expropriate al-Quds (Jerualem), and change the features of the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque.

“We will finally liberate al-Aqsa mosque from the grip of the Israeli occupation. Al-Quds is the capital of the State of Palestine,” he said.

Haniyeh also thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for its strong and unwavering support for the resistance of Palestinian people against Israeli regime.

“Iran has not hesitated to support the resistance through all means. We salute the Islamic Republic for its support for the Palestinian cause, and we salute (late) Imam Khomeini, who designated the International Quds Day.

Israeli occupation epidemic more dangerous than coronavirus

Separately, the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem al-Quds, Atallah Hanna, described the Israeli regime’s occupation of Palestinian lands more dangerous than the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Al-Quds must be liberated, and we call for the frustration of all plots and conspiracies against our holy city in particular, and the Palestinian cause in general. Al-Quds is an issue that directly concerns both Christians and Muslims worldwide,” he said.

The Palestinian Christian leader stressed, “The Zionists attack al-Quds on daily basis and every hour. The Israelis seek to undermine its history and identity. There is no dignity for the Palestinian nation without al-Quds.”

International Quds Day an eternal and historic event

Sheikh Abdul-Latif al-Hamim, head of the Sunni Endowment of Iraq, also hailed the International Quds Day as an eternal and historic event, stating that the Israeli regime is sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East region in a bid to divert public attention away from its crimes against Palestinians.

“We confront the Occupier with determination and resolve, because al-Quds will not return to us by any means other than resistance. We reiterate it will not be a memory of the past.

“Nobody can think of buying or selling al-Quds, and no one can think the path to its liberation is closed,” he said.

Al-Hamim also denounced efforts by a number of Arab states to normalize ties with the Israeli regime, noting, “I would like to emphasize that normalization with the Zionist regime is Haram [religiously forbidden], because it presents a betrayal of the Muslim Ummah’s principles.”

International Quds Day very vital to safeguard Palestinian nation, unity

Furthermore, Bahrain's most prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim said the International Quds Day is highly essential in order to safeguard the Palestinian nation and its unity, emphasizing that the event is a day of Islamic awakening.

He added that the Israeli regime is trying to impose its wills on Muslim nations through establishment of relations with some Arab states.

“The Bahraini nation stands with the Palestinian resistance movements in the face of the Occupation (Israel).  The Bahraini people have opposed the enemies of Islam throughout history,” the top Bahraini clergyman said.

Blood of resistance fighters will foil US, Israeli plots

Additionally, Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Iraq's Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq movement, said the blood of anti-Israel resistance fighters will thwart plots hatched by the United States and Israel, and undermine their interests.

“The aggressive Israeli regime is not only harmful to Palestine and the Palestinian people, but also to the entire Arab and Muslim world.

“Imam Khomeini's designation of the International Quds Day is a renewal of the Palestinian cause and a reminder to the entire world about it,” he said.

Khazali noted that the January 3 assassination of Iran's top military commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the second-in-command of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, by a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport was an Israeli decision indeed.

“Ending the US military presence in Iraq and the region is an imperative issue. Moreover, ending the Israeli occupation of Arab lands is inevitable,” he said.

All forms of normalization with Israeli enemy forbidden

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, also censured all forms of normalization with the Israeli regime, describing such attempts as prohibited by Islam.

“The main reason behind the assassination of Lt. Gen. Soleimani was due to his role in confronting the Israeli enemy and the US hegemony, besides his support for the peoples of the region,” he said.

Houthi noted that the International Quds Day paves the way for the final liberation of Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

“The Zionist regime is the main source of instability and insecurity in the world. Palestinians are suffering from various and continuous crimes being perpetrated by the Israeli regime,” the Ansarullah chief said.

Houthi stressed that the Yemeni nation stands with Palestinians against the Israeli occupation.

Quds Day shows highest level of unity among Muslims

For his part, Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement Ziad al-Nakhala hailed the International Quds Day as an event, which presents the highest level of unity in the Muslim world.

“Imam Khomeini’s designation of International Quds Day is aimed at popular Palestinian uprising and its unity in face of Israel. The governments that prevent their nations from observing the event under the pretext that it is an Iranian occasion want to give up al-Quds in favor of Israel,” Nakhala highlighted.

“Al-Quds is the capital of the Muslim world. Victory over occupier can only be achieved through the unity of Muslims worldwide,” he said.

We are closer than ever to al-Quds liberation

Finally, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement has lauded the International Quds Day as a great legacy of Imam Khomeini, saying the liberation of Jerusalem al-Quds has now become a reality.

“Because of the faith, steadfastness, patience, honesty, sincerity and communication between countries and resistance movement, we are closer than ever to the liberation of al-Quds,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said.

“This year, we miss the martyr of al-Quds, Hajj Qassem Soleimani, who was a major pillar of resistance in the region. We will thread his path and vow to achieve his aspirations, irrespective of all psychological campaigns, sanctions, and restrictions,” he noted.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/05/20/625776/Haniyeh-warns-Tel-Aviv-regime-of-committing-any-folly-against-al-Aqsa-Mosque

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Iranian Researchers Produce Biocompatible Anti-Bacterial Dental Resins

May 20, 2020

The purpose of this project was to provide antibacterial dental resins based on thymol and the cost-effective bioactive material, induction of antibacterial properties in dental resins without loss of physical-mechanical properties and maintaining color stability of dental resins in the presence of thymol.

Due to its structural nature and hydrophobic nature, thymol has good solubility in dental resins, and adding it to dental materials does not increase the water absorption of the samples, and as a result, the physical-chemical properties of dental materials in the wet environment of the mouth are not affected.

In a relevant development last month, Iranian scientists at Tehran University succeeded in the production of a new type of dental implants by production of a strong alloy using nanotechnology.

“At present, these types of implants are made of titanium alloy containing vanadium metal and aluminium which are harmful,” Qader Faraji, the executor of the plan, said.

He added that they have applied advanced technology of ‘severe plastic deformation’ to produce the new implants.

“The new product has a nano structure and the toxic metals have been filtered out but the product is as strong as the titanium alloy containing vanadium metal and aluminium. The product is now in the state of commercialization,” Faraji said.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990231000706

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Judiciary Chief: Iran Seriously Pursuing General Soleimani Assassination Case

May 20, 2020

“The judicial and legal process to pursue Hajj Qassem Soleimani assassination case has started in the Judiciary and an interrogator and a judge have been assigned to file the case and investigate different aspects of martyr Soleimani’s assassination,” Rayeesi said.

He noted that accomplishment of the case is seriously being pursued by the Judiciary, expressing the hope that people and lovers of General Soleimani would soon be informed of the results.

Rayeesi reminded that in addition to pursuing the case at international tribunals, the judiciary will also pursued the case through national courts as the Iranian parliament has authorized the Judiciary to file a lawsuit against the US with internal courts whenever the American government adopts any illegal and aggressive measure against Iranian nationals.

Lieutenant General Soleimani and Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were assassinated in a US drone strike on Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3.

On January 8, the IRGC Aerospace Force started heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the US assassination of General Soleimani.

Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude from sea levels, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army's central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.

The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of "Martyr Soleimani" reprisal operation.

Iraq said the attacks had not taken any toll from its army men stationed at these two bases. The US army had blocked entrance into Ein Al-Assad to everyone, including the Iraqi army.

It was the first direct attack on the US army ever since world war two.

The IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990231000930

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Iranian President Underlines Liberation of Palestinian Lands

May 20, 2020

“Quds will not be forgotten. Quds will not remain under occupation of oppressors. The Palestinian lands will one day be liberated. We do not accept and tolerate this cruelty, oppression and aggression at all. We will commemorate the highly important Quds Day,” Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

“Every day, a new plot is hatched by the US against the Muslims and the Palestinian people but the strong determination of the Palestinian people and their resistance will continue and this path will lead to victory,” he added.

President Rouhani underscored that the Iranian nation has always stood against the oppressors, adding that it is one of the principles of Islam.

His remarks came as the Iranian parliament in its meeting on Monday unanimously approved the generalities of a bill to confront the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security.

The parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission had on Saturday prepared and approved the bill on “confronting the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security”.

“Based on the first article of the plan, all Iranian bodies are required to use the country’s regional and international capacities to confront the Zionist regime’s measures, specially its warmongering and terrorist moves, siege (of Gaza), settlement construction, displacing the Palestinian people and occupation of countries’ lands, including Golan,” Rapporteur of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told FNA on Saturday.

He added that the plan also underlines support for Quds city as the Palestinian capital and the Palestinian people.

Naqavi Hosseini said that based on the approval, any cooperation or spying for the Zionist regime is equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth and activities of the Israeli software platforms in Iran and using its hardware and software products is forbidden.

He noted that another article of the plan requires the foreign ministry to pursue the referendum in the Palestinian territories which has been registered at the UN too.

The new bill also bans transferring the goods produced by the Israeli companies via the Iranian territories as well as participation of the Israeli nationals and firms in the exhibitions held inside Iran.

It also requires the government to pave the ground for the establishment of a virtual embassy in Palestine.

“The foreign ministry is required to make necessary arrangements to form the Islamic Republic of Iran’s virtual embassy or consulate (in Palestine) and submit the results for approval to the cabinet,” one of the paragraphs of the bill said.

“The foreign ministry is required to adopt necessary measures (to this end) in consultations with other countries,” it added.

The plan was approved on the eve of the International Quds Day on May 22.

The International Quds Day is an annual event opposing Israel's occupation of Beitul-Muqaddas. Anti-Zionist rallies and demonstrations are held on the last Friday of Ramadan in Muslim and Arab countries around the world, specially in Iran, as well as a large number of non-Muslim states.

The International Quds Day was started by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in 1979 as a way of expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and underscoring importance of the holy Quds to Muslims.

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran, the International Quds Day will be commemorated differently without holding gatherings and rallies.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990231000457

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Iran Calls on EU to Adopt Concrete Measures against Israel’s Brutalities

May 20, 2020

“Since the illegitimate establishment of the Zionist regime, Europe has left behind #Palestinians & incurred painful costs on them. It’s high time Europe must listen to the global conscience & take bold steps in defending the Palestinians against the Israeli atrocities,” Iran's foreign ministry tweeted on Tuesday.

The foreign ministry's reaction came after the Iranian parliament in its meeting on Monday unanimously approved the generalities of a bill to confront the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security.

In a relevant Twitter message earlier on Tuesday, the Iranian foreign ministry reiterated that it is only Palestinians who can and should decide for Palestine in a referendum as the global proposals have failed to solve the problem.

“For 7 decades the international community failed to solve the question of Palestine since the plans proposed never corresponded with its historical facts and roots,” it said.

“Iran believes that only Palestinians whether Muslim, Christian or Jew with a national referendum can and should decide for Palestine,” the foreign ministry added.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Rayeesi stressed the US and Israel’s failure in implementation of their plots in the region, warning them of a new large-scale Intifada.

“Freedom of the holy Quds is still the Islamic Ummah’s priority. Today, after 72 years of the miseries brought by the Zionist regime and its violation of deals and crimes against the Palestinian, Lebanese and other regional countries’ people, they are after implementation of the disgraceful Deal of the Century Plot,” Rayeesi said, addressing a meeting of the Judiciary officials in Tehran on Monday.

He described the plot to annex the West Bank to the lands occupied by Israel as a prelude to implement the Deal of the Century plan.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990231000383

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International community reprimands Israel’s annexation plans

20 May 2020

The international community on Wednesday lambasted Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank by July, while the United States said UN Security Council statements had become “a little bit repetitive.”

Current and previous European Union members of the UNSC urged Israel against any unilateral decision to annex “any occupied Palestinian territory … contrary to international law.”

In a statement before a Security Council meeting on the Middle East, the EU members – Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and Poland – voiced their “grave concern” of the plans announced by the new Israeli government earlier this week.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said that with a new government, he could apply Israeli law on Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in occupied West Bank “where the Jewish nation was born and rose.” During his speech to parliament, he said that it was time to apply Israeli law on the planned annexed lands to “write another great chapter in the annals of Zionism.”

However, as was evident Wednesday during the UN meeting, most of the international community is against the unilateral decision.

Belgium said it was looking forward to working with the new Israeli government but warned that changes to the 1967 border would not be recognized.

Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the UN, “strongly advise[d]” Israel against any advance on the annexation.

In a veiled reference to Washington, he called on the international community, “especially those with influence” to prevent the annexation, which would “risk consequences not only for Israel, but also for the wider region.”

And in direct response to the US envoy at the UN, de Buytswerve said direct negotiations should be relaunched between Palestine and Israel, “but that’s why we call on all partners [to prevent] unilateral decision that would undermine or seriously hamper prospects for this.”

Speaking earlier, US ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said that statements from Council members would “only get us so far,” recommending Palestine and Israel sit down with one another.

“This Council cannot dictate the end to this conflict. We can only encourage the parties to sit down together to determine how they wish to make progress,” Craft said.

Doubling down on questioning the effectiveness of the Council, Craft said the “real problem-solving” would take place “at a table at which both the Israelis and the Palestinians are seated.”

Read more: President Trump Mideast plan ‘historic,’ peace deals crucial, says Israel FM

Craft also defended US President Donald Trump’s Vision for Peace, the so-called deal of the century, calling it “realistic and implementable.” She voiced her belief that all sides want to see an end to the conflict and the need for conversation between both parties.

“But if that conviction is sincere, then we must concentrate our efforts on bringing the parties to the table – and not on Council statements that I think we all have to admit have grown a little bit repetitive.”

For their part, France said annexation was not in the interest of anyone, including the international community. Warning the Israeli government of repercussions, France declared a move toward annexation would not go forward “without consequences on the relations of the EU with Israel.”

French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said this would be detrimental to Israel’s role in the world. At the same time, he extended a hand to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that France was ready to examine Abbas’s proposals to the Council in February.

African countries also leaped to the defense of the Palestinian cause. Tunisia said it was “high time” for the international community and the Security Council to compel Israel to abide by international law.

South Africa said Israel’s violations of international law could not be ignored or disregarded. It condemned what it called Israel’s exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic to expand its “de facto annexation.”

US elections and Israel’s rush to annexation

The rush to carry out the annexation comes ahead of the US presidential elections in November.

There is a wide split among Republicans and Democrats over foreign policy and their respective views towards Israel.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Tuesday that he would “reverse Trump's undercutting of peace.”

“Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace,” he was quoted as saying during a call with the American Jewish community.

Israel has been encouraged to push ahead with the annexation based on a previous understanding with Trump, Netanyahu claimed during a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week.

On Wednesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh blamed Trump for the annexation plans.

“So even if Pompeo arrives in Tel Aviv to try to say whatever he said, the Israelis will not listen to him or to anybody else, because they know they enjoy a green light from the American president,” Shtayyeh was quoted as saying.

He added that Palestine was ready to move on from allowing the US to negotiate a solution.

A State Department official told Al Arabiya that Washington “continues to pursue the path that the President [Trump] set out in January when presenting the US Vision for Peace, and we are consulting closely with Israel on this and other issues.”

Separately, Axios reported Wednesday that Russia had stepped in to facilitate a meeting between Palestinian officials and Washington.

“In order to overcome the Palestinian boycott, the Russians are proposing a mini summit in Geneva with the Palestinians, the US, the other members of the Quartet and Arab states, such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates,” the report said.

A Western diplomat based in the Middle East told Al Arabiya English he had not heard of the Russian proposal, but that “it doesn’t surprise me.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/20/International-community-reprimands-Israel-s-annexation-plans.html

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Vatican worried about Israel’s annexation plan in occupied West Bank

20 May 2020

Israel’s possible annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank is concerning and could further compromise peace talks, the Vatican said on Wednesday following talks with Palestinian officials.

Respect for international law and UN resolutions was an “indispensable element for the two peoples to live side by side,” the Vatican said following talks between chief foreign policy official Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Israel’s unity government supports a plan hatched by US President Donald Trump to allow annexation of large parts of the West Bank, despite Israeli settlements being considered illegal under international law.

Trump’s plan has already been rejected by the Palestinians but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said annexation “won’t distance us from peace, it will bring us closer.”

“The Holy See is following the situation closely, and expresses concern about any future actions that could further compromise dialogue,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/20/Vatican-worried-about-Israel-s-annexation-plan-in-occupied-West-Bank.html

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Iran Foreign Ministry: Israeli regime born through terror, keeps sowing chaos in Mideast

20 May 2020

As many across the world prepare to mark the International Quds Day, Iran has been drawing attention to the terrorist nature of Israel, saying the regime — which has a dark history of aggression and occupation — has not stopped fueling chaos in the Middle East.

“The Zionist regime was born through terror, and since then has assassinated thousands of people from ordinary #Palestinians to prominent Arab figures and Iranian scientists. A terrorist regime in nature, Israel still continues to sow seeds of chaos in our region,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a Wednesday post on its English-language Twitter account.

It also underlined the importance of the International Quds Day, a legacy of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, which is marked annually on the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian nation.

Iran Foreign Ministry 🇮🇷

@IRIMFA_EN

The Zionist regime was born through terror, and since then has assassinated thousands of people from ordinary #Palestinians to prominent Arab figures and Iranian scientists. A terrorist regime in nature, Israel still continues to sow seeds of chaos in our region.#Covid1948

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“The Zionist regime has a history of aggression, secret WMD (weapons of mass destruction) programs, occupations & unlawfulness. The Quds day is a yearly reminder to the Muslim world that the Israeli regime’s occupation & aggressive actions have been an underlying factor in conflicts in our region,” the Foreign Ministry tweeted.

Every year on the International Quds Day, millions of Muslims hold rallies worldwide to reiterate their call for the liberation of Palestine and denounce the Tel Aviv regime’s atrocities against the Palestinian people.

This year, street demonstrations are canceled in Iran due to the coronavirus pandemic and replaced by online events. Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei is also expected to deliver a speech on the occasion.

Iran Foreign Ministry 🇮🇷

@IRIMFA_EN

The Zionist regime has a history of aggression, secret WMD programs, occupations & unlawfulness. The Quds day is a yearly reminder to the Muslim world that the Israeli regime’s occupation & aggressive actions have been an underlying factor in conflicts in our region. #Covid1948

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‘Muslim states must join forces against Israel’

Additionally on Wednesday, Iran’s Assembly of Experts issued a statement to commemorate the Quds Day, describing the occasion as “a stage for displaying the Islamic Ummah’s power to support the world’s oppressed, especially oppressed Palestine, and for disavowing the [global] arrogant front headed by the Zionist regime.”

The statement described the occasion as the “promised day of America’s demise and the downfall of the regime occupying Quds,” which will undoubtedly materialize through the Muslim world’s resistance.

The Iranian body further called on Muslim governments to join forces against the policy of normalization with the usurping Tel Aviv regime, rally behind the brave Palestinian nation in their anti-occupation struggles, and help wipe out the “cancerous tumor” of Israel from the heart of the Muslim world.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/05/20/625739/Iran-Foreign-Ministry-Israel-terrorism-Palestine

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North America

 

US issues new Iran sanctions, targets interior minister: US Treasury

20 May 2020

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iran's interior minister, accusing him of having a role in serious human rights abuse, including giving orders that led to violence against peaceful protesters, the US Treasury Department said.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app

The Treasury said in a statement that Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli gave orders authorizing the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) to use lethal force in response to protests in November, leading to the killing of protesters, including at least 23 minors.

The Treasury's action on Wednesday also blacklisted seven senior officials of the LEF and a provincial commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The LEF Cooperative Foundation - which the Treasury said is controlled by the LEF and which is active in Iran's energy, construction, services, technology and banking industries - was also blacklisted, as were its director and members of the board of trustees. The organization's name in Iran is Bonyad Taavon NAJA.

Wednesday's action freezes any US-held assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

“The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began re-imposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/20/US-issues-new-sanctions-on-Iran-including-Interior-Minister-US-Treasury-.html

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US intelligence acknowledges Iran not after destabilizing Afghanistan despite Pompeo's claims

20 May 2020

The US intelligence agency has acknowledged that Iran is not seeking to destabilize Afghanistan where the US he's engaged in an alleged peace process.

The US military intelligence announcement runs counter to previous remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, The National Interest reported.

“Iran’s strategic objectives relating to Afghanistan continue to be maintaining a stable Afghan central government and security along Iran’s eastern border,” the Lead Inspector General wrote. “Iran’s objectives also include protecting Shia populations, eliminating [Daesh in Central Asia], opposing the US presence in the region, and securing Iranian economic interests.”

Back in January the US hawkish secretary of state had claimed that Iran is “actively working to undermine the peace process.”

Tehran has welcomed the withdrawal of US forces from its neighboring country, maintaining that Washington is in no position to make decisions for the future of Afghanistan.

The US reached a deal with the Taliban terrorist group on February 28, under which the Taliban agreed to halt attacks in return for Washington’s phased withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and a prisoner exchange with the government in Kabul.

The agreement was supposed to lay the groundwork for a peace process in the war-ravaged country.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2012/05/20/625766/US-Intel-Iran-not-after-destabilizing-Afghanistan

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US hopes Israel, Palestine keep security deals

Servet Gunerigok  

20.05.2020

WASHINGTON

The top US diplomat said Wednesday he hopes Israel and Palestine keep security agreements in place, a day after the latter announced it is ending all agreements with Tel Aviv.

"We hope that the security arrangements will continue to be in place, that the work that’s done on the ground there to keep people in Israel and Palestinians safe will continue," State Secretary Mike Pompeo said at a briefing.

His remarks came hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced he is terminating all agreements and understandings signed with Israel and the US, including security, in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

"I regret that he has decided to abrogate these agreements," he said.

Pompeo said Israel accepted the US vision for peace in the region but the "Palestinians have continued to refuse to just simply sit down and enter into negotiation based on President Trump’s Vision for Peace there."

He was referring to the Trump administration's so-called "Deal of the Century” that the top US diplomat said will "lead to better lives for the Palestinian people." But Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30% - 40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem.

"We hope that the leadership in the Palestinian Authority will see that that’s in their people’s best interest, and that we can move out in that way according to the vision that was laid out," he added.

According to Israeli plans, the annexation will take place July 1, as agreed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new-found ally Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White party.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with its plans, which will further undermine the two-state solution.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-hopes-israel-palestine-keep-security-deals/1848327

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UN envoy urges Israel to abandon annexation threats

Servet Gunerigok  

20.05.2020

WASHINGTON

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov on Wednesday called on Israel to give up "threats of annexation," saying any move towards that end will represent a violation of international law.

"The dangerous prospect of annexation by Israel of parts of the occupied West Bank is a growing threat," Mladenov told the UN Security Council.

His remarks came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly announced he is ending "all agreements" with Israel and the US in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

Mladenov said annexation "would constitute a serious violation of international law, deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace."

According to Israeli plans, the annexation will take place July 1, as agreed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new-found ally Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White party.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with its plans, which will further undermine the two-state solution.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/un-envoy-urges-israel-to-abandon-annexation-threats/1848237

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Europe

 

UK extends NHS COVID-19 scheme after emotional plea from Syrian refugee

May 20, 2020

LONDON: The British government has reversed a decision to exclude low-paid foreign NHS workers from a COVID-19 bereavement scheme after an emotional plea from a Syrian refugee.

Hassan Akkad, who works as a hospital cleaner in London, said he felt “stabbed in the back” after learning his family would be excluded from a scheme that granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK to relatives of NHS staff who died from the disease.

Within hours of his video being published, the home secretary, Priti Patel, reversed the policy, saying the scheme would apply to all foreign NHS staff.

Akkad took on the cleaning job at Whipps Cross Hospital in March because he wanted to help during the pandemic and thank the community that made him feel at home.

In his video, however, he said he felt betrayed and made a tearful appeal to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to change the policy.

“I’ve been really enjoying the clapping that you and your fellow ministers in the government do every week,” the 32-year-old said.

“Today, however, I felt betrayed, stabbed in the back. I felt shocked to find out that you’ve decided, your government decided, to exclude myself and my colleagues who work as cleaners and porters and social care workers, who are all on minimum wage, you’ve decided to exclude us from the bereavement scheme.

“So if I die fighting coronavirus my partner isn’t allowed an indefinite leave to remain. This is your way of saying thank you to us?”

Akkad said he hoped Johnson would listen to his plea because he now saw a “different Boris” to the one who went into hospital intensive care last month after contracting COVID-19.

Announcing the change, Patel said the scheme would be extended to NHS support staff and social care workers.

Priti Patel

@pritipatel

We are extending the bereavement scheme to NHS support staff & social care workers - effective immediately and retrospectively.

This is a very complex issue we have been working through at pace.

Rest assured, all families will have the support they need during this tragic time.

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“Every death in this crisis is a tragedy, and sadly some NHS support staff and social care workers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of saving the lives of others,” she said.

“When I announced the introduction of the bereavement scheme in April, I said we would continue to work across government to look at ways to offer further support. Today we are extending the scheme to NHS support staff and social care workers.”

The decision to exclude the lower income foreign workers was condemned by labour unions.

More than 170 NHS staff have died during the pandemic, with many of the victims coming from ethnic minorities.

Akkad has lived in London for four years. Footage of this harrowing journey to the UK was part of a documentary series Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, which won BAFTA and International Emmy awards.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1677561/world

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Germany vows ‘zero tolerance’ for far right

Ayhan Şimşek  

20.05.2020

BERLIN

The German government on Wednesday pledged new measures to combat far-right groups, their xenophobic acts, and racist propaganda.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters, after a special Cabinet meeting, that the government will implement a “zero tolerance policy” towards right-wing extremism, racism, and anti-Semitism.

“This is the biggest security threat now in Germany,” he stressed, adding that the ministries will develop a new catalogue of measures in the coming months and strengthen programs for preventing and countering right-wing extremism.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday chaired the first meeting of a special Cabinet subcommittee – including key ministers and top officials – to discuss problems and shortcomings in the fight against right-wing extremism, coordinate measures, and develop new proposals.

Seehofer said they are planning to invite representatives from NGOs and migrant groups to their next meeting in order to hear out their views and concerns.

Germany has witnessed growing racism and xenophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of far-right, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim groups, including the main opposition party Alternative for Germany, or the AfD.

Last year far-right extremists killed a pro-refugee politician in Kassel and attacked a synagogue in Halle, raising alarms over extreme right-wing terrorism in the country.

In February, a far-right extremist attacked two cafes in Hanau, killing nine people with migration backgrounds.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-vows-zero-tolerance-for-far-right-/1847908

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Turkey condemns baseless claims by Greece

Erdoğan Çağatay Zontur  

20.05.2020

Turkey denounced Greece’s parliament Tuesday for its “baseless and delirious statements” under the pretext of marking the anniversary of the start of the Turkish War of Independence on May 19, 1919.

“The date of 19 May 1919, when the first step of our War of Independence was taken, is a sacred day not only for our nation, but also for all oppressed nations who fought against imperialism. On such a day, the baseless and delirious statements made by the Greek Parliament and institutions under the pretext of marking the anniversary of May 19, 1919 does not accord with historical facts or values of the 21st century,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement recalled that the Greek Army invaded Aegean Izmir province after the end of the First World War in 1918, when Istanbul was the only occupied capital.

“This painful occupation turned into a planned and disgraceful invasion that had no justification and was the scene of atrocities.”

“It should not be forgotten that the terrifying dimensions reached by the atrocities committed less than five months after the occupation were serious enough to require the Allies to establish an investigative commission,” the statement said.

“The Greek leadership, which could not face its own history, should remember the reports of the Allied countries' investigative commission and the facts underlying the article of the Treaty of Lausanne on war crimes. Article 59 of the Treaty of Lausanne determined that the acts committed by the Greek army occupying Anatolia were against the law of war,” it added.

The statement went on to say that “it is another proof that irresponsible politicians and radicals are trying to reverse history today” as Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos nominated Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1934 following the foundation of the Turkish Republic.

“Insisting on our calls for resolving the problems in our bilateral relations through dialogue, Greece's keeping the hand of friendship we extended as in the past is also a necessity to read the changes of the world correctly.

“It is also a necessity to read the changes of the world correctly for Greece, who insists on being indifferent to our calls for resolving the problems in our bilateral relations through dialogue, to hold our hand in friendship as we have extended it before.”

May 19 is a milestone in Turkish history, the day when Ataturk arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul in 1919 to launch the war that transformed the nation into modern Turkey four years later.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-condemns-baseless-claims-by-greece/1847010

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Britain First leader Paul Golding convicted of terror offence

Jamie Prentis

May 20, 2020

Paul Golding, the leader of the far-right and anti-Muslim group Britain First, has been found guilty of a terror offence in the UK.

Last October, the 38-year-old refused to allow police access to his phone and computer at Heathrow Airport after returning from a trip to Moscow.

He was charged with wilfully refusing to comply with a duty under the Terrorism Act. He denied the accusations but was found guilty at a London magistrates in London on Wednesday.

Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said there was “no doubt” Golding had failed to comply with request for information even though he was warned “over and over” about the risk of arrest.

Ms Arbuthnot ruled he had been lawfully questioned.

She handed Golding a conditional discharge for nine months and ordered him to pay £750 (Dh3,371) in costs and a £21 (Dh94) surcharge.

At the trial he spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, address and nationality.

Golding told officers he had been in Moscow on a political trip to meet with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, who he described as a “right-wing, conservative, patriotic group” who were not “extreme”. He said he did not meet with any representatives of the Russian government.

The court heard recordings of a police interview with Mr Golding where he described the request for his pass codes as “wildly inappropriate”, “completely unjustified”, an “abuse of police powers” and a “political witch hunt”.

“I don’t think you have any grounds to suspect me of terrorism in any way shape or form,” he added.

Golding was stopped and examined under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, which police say allows them to “speak to people in order to make a determination of whether they are or have been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/britain-first-leader-paul-golding-convicted-of-terror-offence-1.1022488

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German navy will add to Mediterranean mission by August, says minister for Middle East

Callum Paton

May 20, 2020

The first German naval vessels to take part in Operation Irini, the EU naval mission to enforce Libya’s long-flouted arms embargo, will join in August, German Minister of State Niels Annen said.

Mr Annen told The National that Germany’s commitment to the European mission was proof of its continuing support for Operation Irini, which was a product of the Berlin conference on Libya in January.

“Germany is already contributing with a maritime patrol aircraft as well as positions in the headquarters of the operation," he said.

"We are planning to contribute naval assets by August 2020. This underlines our government’s high political support for Irini and the Libyan peace process.

“By strengthening the arms embargo, the operation takes up a major element of the conclusions of the Berlin conference and translates it into concrete action and an EU added value."

Mr Annen said he was “very happy” the EU had launched Irini in “merely two months” after the conference.

The naval mission, which became operational at the end of March and was agreed to in February, will enforce the 2011 UN weapons embargo on Libya with aircraft, satellite and maritime monitoring.

But the mission has been marred by infighting between EU members and was slow to begin a full launch. Many member nations are still considering what they will contribute.

Greek and French ships have joined the mission, but the Greek frigate Hydra will remain at a naval station on Crete before it joins patrols at the end of May.

Malta, which had pledged specially trained boarding personnel for the mission, withdrew its participation this month in an apparent bid to influence the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and its Turkish backers.

Mr Annen said logistical considerations had meant not all assets pledged to Irini had arrived and focus on the mission had been diverted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte welcomes German Foreign Minister Niels Annen at the international conference on Libya in Palermo, Italy, in November 2018. REUTERS

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte welcomes German Foreign Minister Niels Annen at the international conference on Libya in Palermo, Italy, in November 2018. REUTERS

The first German naval vessels to take part in Operation Irini, the EU naval mission to enforce Libya’s long-flouted arms embargo, will join in August, German Minister of State Niels Annen said.

Mr Annen told The National that Germany’s commitment to the European mission was proof of its continuing support for Operation Irini, which was a product of the Berlin conference on Libya in January.

“Germany is already contributing with a maritime patrol aircraft as well as positions in the headquarters of the operation," he said.

"We are planning to contribute naval assets by August 2020. This underlines our government’s high political support for Irini and the Libyan peace process.

“By strengthening the arms embargo, the operation takes up a major element of the conclusions of the Berlin conference and translates it into concrete action and an EU added value."

Mr Annen said he was “very happy” the EU had launched Irini in “merely two months” after the conference.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, right, makes a point to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, centre, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on during the Libya conference in Berlin January 19, 2020. EPA / SPUTNIK

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, right, makes a point to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, centre, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on during the Libya conference in Berlin January 19, 2020. EPA / SPUTNIK

The naval mission, which became operational at the end of March and was agreed to in February, will enforce the 2011 UN weapons embargo on Libya with aircraft, satellite and maritime monitoring.

But the mission has been marred by infighting between EU members and was slow to begin a full launch. Many member nations are still considering what they will contribute.

Greek and French ships have joined the mission, but the Greek frigate Hydra will remain at a naval station on Crete before it joins patrols at the end of May.

Malta, which had pledged specially trained boarding personnel for the mission, withdrew its participation this month in an apparent bid to influence the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and its Turkish backers.

Mr Annen said logistical considerations had meant not all assets pledged to Irini had arrived and focus on the mission had been diverted by the coronavirus outbreak.

“In an organisation of 27 member states, the co-ordination and deployment of military capabilities for a new operation requires thorough planning and logistics,” he said.

“These days, we are facing additional challenges with mitigating the consequences of Covid-19.

"Nevertheless, Operation Irini started its activities shortly after its establishment.”

Mr Annen said the Berlin conference on Libya was aimed at the international community rather than the warring parties.'

He said the pledge to respect the arms embargo and commitment to return to the political process had been a “necessary result”.

Mr Annen said there had also been some “encouraging progress” on negotiations between the parties in Geneva.

But more violence in Libya has also hampered talks.

As fighting intensified around the capital Tripoli in February, the GNA and eastern politicians aligned with Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter’s Libyan National Army withdrew from the talks.

“What Berlin has accomplished is to provide a framework for talks about a political solution and a ceasefire," Mr Annen said.

"After Berlin, we had the so called 5+5 military talks in Geneva under UN leadership, which resulted in a draft ceasefire agreement.

“We and our partners continue to engage with all relevant Libyan actors with the aim that this draft will be signed and implemented.”

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, has also called for “an immediate, comprehensive ceasefire and a return to the political process”.

“The UAE’s position on the Libyan crisis has been firm and clear and shared by the majority of the international community,” Dr Gargash wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

When world powers met in Berlin at the start of the year, a fragile truce had been brokered by Turkey and Russia.

But tentative hopes that a full ceasefire could be achieved were ultimately dashed.

In the weeks since, the violence has escalated. In the past month GNA forces, bolstered by militias sent from Syria by Ankara, and Turkish air and logistical support, have achieved a succession of military victories in the west of Libya.

The LNA gave up control of the strategically significant Al Watiya airbase on Monday, a position the eastern-aligned forces had held since 2014.

Mr Annen said Germany would continue to condemn violence in Libya.

“After a period of relative calm we now have a period of escalation in the fighting," he said.

"There are instances of indiscriminate shelling of residential neighbourhoods and civilian targets.

"This is unacceptable. We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms."

Mr Annen said that for stability to return to Libya, it was crucial that the arms embargo was adhered to.

“We need a commitment from all international partners to respect the arms embargo, from supporters of both sides of the conflict," he said.

"It is simply unacceptable that we are seeing continued arms exports to Libya, including by partners who were present at the Berlin conference."

Mr Annen said Germany would, in the future, look to use more options to bolster the embargo.

“We are still exploring options to do even more, for example in our role as chair of the UN Sanctions Committee," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/german-navy-will-add-to-mediterranean-mission-by-august-says-minister-for-middle-east-1.1022471

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Arab world

 

Coronavirus: Egypt to offer COVID-19 testing in all general hospitals

20 May 2020

Egypt signaled an expansion of testing for the new coronavirus on Wednesday, announcing that all the country's 320 general hospitals would offer testing to people showing symptoms of the illness.

People with minor symptoms will be sent home as they await test results, while those showing serious symptoms will be kept in hospital, according to a government statement.

Since May 14, some patients with minor symptoms are being asked to self-isolate at home rather than in quarantine hospitals.

Egypt confirmed 745 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest daily increase yet, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 14,229.

The health ministry reported 21 new deaths, raising total deaths to 680. The number of people confirmed to have recovered stands at 3,994.

The World Health Organization has urged Egypt to expand the number of tests, without saying what level of testing it considers appropriate.

Authorities have not released regular updates on the number of tests carried out, though a presidential adviser said earlier this month that 105,000 PCR tests had been conducted.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/20/Coronavirus-Egypt-to-offer-COVID-19-testing-in-all-general-hospitals.html

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Iran has spent $30 billion in Syria: Prominent MP

20 May 2020

Iran has spent about $30 billion in Syria since the start of the civil war in the country in 2011, said a prominent Iranian lawmaker in rare remarks about Tehran’s spending in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“We have probably paid $20-30 billion to Syria, and we have to take that money back,” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the Iranian parliament's national security committee, said in an interview with the state-run news website Etemad Online.

Falahatpisheh did not elaborate on how Tehran plans to get its money back from Syria.

“This nation’s money has been spent [in Syria],” he said.

Although the interview was conducted in March, Etemad Online only published it on Wednesday for unknown reasons.

In 2018, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in similar remarks that Iran must recoup what it has spent in Syria, without saying how much the Islamic Republic had spent in the war-torn country.

Over the past few years, Iranian demonstrators have criticized Tehran’s foreign policies and outside funding, accusing the regime of wasting the country’s financial resources on its network of proxies.

Iran provides significant financial support to its proxies in the region. Lebanese Hezbollah receives some $700 million a year from Iran, according to a US estimate cited by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The US State Department’s Iran Action Group said in a report in 2018 that “Iran has spent over $16 billion since 2012 propping up President Assad and supporting its other partners and proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/20/Iran-has-spent-30-billion-in-Syria-Prominent-MP.html

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Coronavirus: Qatar reports 1,491 new cases, one death over past 24 hours

20 May 2020

Qatar reported 1,491 new coronavirus cases and one fatality over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of active cases to 30,481, according to the health ministry.

As the country's cases continue to increase, its death toll has remained low with only 16 fatalities reported to date. Qatar has also seen increasing recoveries daily with 966 new recoveries, raising the total to 6,600 so far.

The health ministry has administered 4,255 tests over the past 24 hours and 170,437 total since the virus was first detected in the country.

Qatar currently has the second highest number of cases in the GCC region despite its smaller population of only 2.76 million.

The first case in the country was confirmed on February 27, but the number of cases began to rise more steeply from mid-March onwards, beginning with the announcement of 238 new cases in a single day on March 11.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/20/Coronavirus-Qatar-reports-1-491-new-cases-one-death-over-past-24-hours.html

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Coronavirus: Oman records 372 new cases, total infections surpass 6,000

20 May 2020

Oman recorded 372 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 6,043, the Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

The new cases include 152 Omani citizens and 220 non-Omani expatriates.

Currently, the virus-related death toll in Oman is 27. Meanwhile, the number of recoveries rose to 1,661.

Oman on Monday banned all social gatherings relating to Eid al-Fitr and violators will be fined or jailed.

Eid prayers, livestock auctions, family visits, and group celebrations will be prohibited during the holiday as part of efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak, the committee added.

The Royal Oman Police has been authorized to monitor the public’s compliance and issue fines or jail penalties for violations, according to the committee.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/20/Coronavirus-Oman-records-372-new-cases-total-infections-surpass-6-000.html

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Saudi Arabia’s measures to support private sector, SMEs amid coronavirus: A list

20 May 2020

Saudi Arabia has implemented several measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its economy and shield its public finances.

Those measures include a 100 billion riyals ($26.6 billion) spending cut, tripling VAT, suspending cost of living allowance and raising the debt ceiling to 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

Here is a list of some of the major fiscal and economic measures the Kingdom announced.

Initiatives for the private sector

• Extending the grace period and rescheduling loans for companies struggling with loans and payments amounting to more than 6 billion riyals.

• Providing 1 billion riyals worth of direct and indirect loans to finance working capital.

• Allocating 4 billion riyals to provide employment support and training programs that will allow more than 300,000 beneficiaries to work in the private sector.

• One billion riyals going to help private sector employees who have not previously benefited from the support programs available.

• Allocation of 4 billion riyals to provide social loans to low-income families during 2020, with 100,000 Saudi citizens set to benefit.

• Increasing the direct lending portfolio for micro and small enterprises to 2 billion riyals, set to help 6,000 male and female entrepreneurs.

• Allocation of a portfolio worth 2 billion riyals to provide financing support to small- and medium-size health facilities, with 1,000 existing health facilities benefitting from the funds.

• Allocation of 2 billion riyals to finance indirect lending programs through financial institutions.

The Ministry of Finance has allocated 120 billion riyals for private sector support in the following areas:

• Submission and payment of the following for commercial businesses are postponed for a period of 3 months:

• Submission of tax declarations and payment of selective taxes owed.

• Submission of VAT declarations and payment of VAT owed.

• Supply of declarations, payment of income tax and payment of their obligations.

• Submission of zakat returns, and payment of zakat owed.

• Payment of the fees due by some government services and municipal fees.

• Collection of import duties (bank guarantee required).

• Payment of some commercial businesses are postponed for a period of 9 months.

• Expansion of financing supporting target economic sectors, which includes deploying working capital.

• Expatriates whose residency permit ends from the end of March 2020 to the end of June 2020 are exempted from the allowances and considerations above.

The Human Resources Development Fund is providing 5.3 billion riyals worth of support to help private sector businesses employ and train Saudis citizens.

Funding covers the following areas:

• Employment support worth 2 billion riyals: Supporting 100,000 job seekers in the private sector, in addition to offering and activating remote working tools, as alternative options to regular working environments.

• Training support worth 800 million riyals: Allocated to 100,000 beneficiaries to provide greater access to training and development opportunities.

• 1.5 billion riyals going to support job seekers.

• Private Sector Employees Support Path worth 1 billion riyals: To support private sector employees who were recruited from the beginning of July 1, 2019, who were not previously supported by the Fund's support and empowerment programs.

Initiatives supporting SMEs

The Kingdom’s central bank, Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), implemented a Postponement of Payments Program worth 30 billion riyals to help funding authorities providing capital to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and other institutions and companies, which allows for the delay of repayments of loans and other financial obligations to the relevant funding authorities for a period of 6 months.

Postponement period: All premiums due (including accrued profits) from March 14, 2020 to September 14, 2020.

Amount of financing available: 30 billion riyals, aimed at reducing the expected effects of low cash flows on MSMEs, allowing their repayments to be delayed for a period of 6 months.

The Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) has introduced the following support measures:

• Exempting expatriates whose residency ends between the end of March 2020 to the end of June 2020 from the necessary financial requirements needed for visa renewal, by extending their residency period for a period of three months without reapplication.

• Enabling employers to recover any work visa fees incurred after the issuance of permits which were not used during the period of the entry and exit ban even if they were stamped at the airport. Alternatively, work visas will be extended for an additional three months without charge.

• Enabling employers to extend unused exit and return visas during the period of the entry and exit ban for a period of three months without charge.

• Enabling business owners to delay the following, taking into account the commercial activities most affected, by extending the postponement period as needed:

Supplying value-added tax, selective goods tax and income tax.

Submission of zakat returns, and payment of zakat owed.

Implementing procedures to stop services and seizure of funds by the General Authority of Zakat and Income.

• Grant zakat certificates without restrictions on the period of approval for the fiscal year 2019.

• Expanding the acceptance of installment requests without requiring a down payment by the General Authority of Zakat and Income.

• Postponing the collection of customs duties on imports for a period of 30 days, provided that a bank guarantee is presented for the next three months, while introducing the necessary standards to extend the delay period for the most affected activities as needed.

• Postponing the payment of some government service fees and municipal fees due on private sector establishments for a period of three months, while introducing the necessary standards to extend the delay period for the most affected activities as needed.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/20/Saudi-Arabia-s-measures-to-support-private-sector-SMEs-amid-coronavirus-A-list.html

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Africa

 

Sisi Says Egypt Will Be Firm against Terrorist Groups and their Backers in Libya

19 May, 2020

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced on Tuesday that Libya’s stability is integral to Egypt’s national security.

Speaking during an African Union-led Contact Group meeting on Libya, he said Egypt will not be lenient with terrorist groups and their backers in Libya.

The contact group, held at the level of presidents, met virtually to discuss the developments in Libya.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said that Sisi stressed Cairo’s firm stance on Libyan crisis and reaching a political solution that safeguards the country’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

He stated that he backs the will of the Libyan people and rejects foreign meddling in Libya’s internal affairs.

https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/2292591/sisi-says-egypt-will-be-firm-against-terrorist-groups-and-their-backers-libya

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Jihadists Attack Nigeria Town Where Girls Abducted

MAY 19, 2020

Jihadists have carried out a rare attack on the northeast Nigerian town of Dapchi, where more than 100 schoolgirls were abducted two years ago, military sources and residents said Tuesday.

One soldier was killed and three wounded as fighters believed to be from an Islamic State group affiliate looted shops and torched the home of a local chief in the assault Monday, the sources told AFP.

The attack comes days before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when jihadists who have waged a 10-year insurgency usually ramp up their deadly assaults in the region.

Fighters suspected to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction stormed the town, leading to a fight with troops in which sources said the soldier and five jihadists were killed.

Resident Bashir Manzo said the insurgents spent over four hours in town before soldiers backed by a military jet confronted them.

Dapchi was the scene of the abduction of more than 100 schoolgirls by ISWAP in February 2018. The girls were later released although the only Christian among them is still being held by the group after she reportedly refused to renounce her faith.

The decade-long conflict in northeast Nigeria has claimed over 36,000 lives and displaced some two million people. The jihadists have splintered into factions. In 2016, ISWAP broke from the main Boko Haram group, led by Abubakar Shekau.

In a separate incident on Monday, two female suicide bombers suspected to have been sent by Shekau’s loyalists killed two people in the town of Konduga, security sources and residents said.

The bombers sneaked into the town, 38 kilometers (25 miles) from regional capital Maiduguri, and detonated their explosives as a government-backed anti-jihadist militia member was passing on a bicycle.

Full report at:

https://www.thedefensepost.com/2020/05/19/jihadists-attack-nigeria/

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Boko Haram: Airstrike kills terrorists in Yobe

May 19, 2020

The Defence Headquarters says the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD) on Monday, neutralised scores of Boko Haram terrorists on the outskirts of Dapchi Town in Yobe.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, who made this known in a statement on Tuesday, said the airstrike also destroyed two terrorists’ gun trucks in the attack.

Enenche said that the air operation was conducted following an attack by the terrorists in about five vehicles on Dapchi town.

According to him, a Helicopter Gunship scrambled to engage the terrorists, scored direct hits on their vehicles, destroying two of them and killing the occupants.

“The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has commended the Air Task Force for their professionalism.

Full report at:

https://dailypost.ng/2020/05/19/boko-haram-airstrike-kills-terrorists-in-yobe/

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Somalia: U.S. Kills Two Al-Shabaab Fighters in Somalia

18 MAY 2020

By Mary Wambui

The United States Africa Command (Africom) today confirmed the killing of two terrorists inside Qunyo Barrow area in Sothern Somalia on Sunday.

In a statement, Africom said the two were killed in an air strike targeting Al Shabaab militants in an operation conducted in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.

"The US support to our Somali partners is and will remain strong," said Africom's director of operations Major General William Gayler.

The statement claimed that there were no reported civilian casualties in the strike.

"This enemy has no regard for the lives of innocent Somalis and the group presents a threat to the Somali people, the US and interests abroad US Africa Command affords our partners over-watch and added precision capabilities. US Africa Command affords our partners over-watch and added precision capabilities," said Col Christopher Karns, Africom's director of public affairs.

Africom, which oversees American troops in Africa, acknowledged that for Somalia to achieve stability, efforts would have to be drawn from both non-military and military means.

The military command said US forces will use a range of effective and appropriate methods to assist in the protection of the Somali people including partnered military counterterrorism operations with the government and Somali National Army Forces.

Their efforts will be aimed at improving security conditions in Somalia to enhance governance and economic development while preventing Shabaab's desire to expand its reach and further export violence.

"US Africa command continues to work with its Somali partners to transfer the responsibility for long term security in Somalis to the Federal government of Somali and its member states," added the statement.

Increased air strike attacks targeting Shabaab militants in Somalia led to the death of more than 30 terrorists in the month of April alone.

On April 10, one fighter was killed in the vicinity of Jamaame while on April 9, one militant was killed near Kobon.

On April 6, five terrorists were killed near Jilib in yet another air strike while on April 5, eight militants were killed in a similar manner near Muubaraak.

Fiver others were killed two days before in the vicinity of Bush Madina on April 3 and on April 2, another air strike killed three militants including high ranking Shabaab leader Yusuf Jiis who was described by Africom as one of the foundational members of the terror group.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/202005190165.html

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Niger: 12 soldiers killed in Boko Haram attack on military base

May 21, 2020

Twelve soldiers have been killed in a Boko Haram attack on a military outpost in Niger's Diffa region, the scene of recent clashes with armed fighters.

The attack by "Boko Haram terrorists" overnight on Monday on the Blabrine military base left another 10 soldiers wounded, Niger's defence ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday.

"Seven terrorists were neutralised" by Niger soldiers, the statement added.

The Blabrine base is some 20km (12 miles) northeast of Diffa town in the remote southeastern region near Lake Chad, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.

Diffa, a city of 200,000 near the Nigerian border, has been repeatedly attacked.

The region of the poor Sahel country borders Nigeria, the birthplace of Boko Haram. It shelters some 300,000 refugees from Nigeria as well as internally displaced people, according to United Nations figures.  

In October 2019, 12 Niger troops were killed at Blabrine, according to the defence ministry.

Several violent clashes have pitted the army against armed fighters in the region since the start of May.

On May 13, Niger said 75 Boko Haram combatants were killed in the southeast of the country and across the border in Nigeria.   

Fighters carried out another attack in the same area on Saturday.

Boko Haram has been active in the impoverished northeast of Nigeria border areas since 2009.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/niger-12-soldiers-killed-boko-haram-attack-military-base-200520065928212.html

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Jordan imposes three-day lockdown with resurgence of coronavirus cases

May 21, 2020

DUBAI: Jordan is imposing a three-day lockdown starting Thursday midnight after a resurgence in coronavirus infections, which the government aims to address and to control with the Eid Al-Fitr holiday just around the corner.

“The crisis cell in the National Center for Security and Crisis Management …. decided to amend the measures taken during the period of Eid Al-Fitr, based on the developments of the epidemiological situation of the Kingdom during the past days,” state news agency Petra reported.

Jordan reported 23 new more coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing its caseload to 672.

“In light of developments in the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom, the increase in the number of Covid-19 infections significantly during the past days, the need to increase the efforts of epidemiological investigation teams, the need to limit gatherings and contact between individuals, and take the necessary measures for achieving physical distancing,” Amjad Adaileh, the Minister of State for Media Affairs, said.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1677766/middle-east

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Libyan army moves to liberate town of al-Asaba

Walid Abdullah  

20.05.2020

TRIPOLI

The Libyan army on Wednesday morning announced its continued progress towards liberating a key town 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of the capital Tripoli from warlord Khalifa Haftar's militia.

"The army continues advancing towards al-Asaba to liberate it from the Haftar militia ... The clashes are very fierce," said Mustafa al-Majei, spokesman for the government’s Operation Volcano of Rage.

Two army personnel were injured at the town’s entrance by drones of the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries supporting the warlord’s forces, he added.

The spokesman stressed that retaking al-Asaba is essential to liberating the city of Tarhouna further south as it will help cut off supply lines to Haftar's militia.

Meanwhile, local tribes in al-Asaba announced their support to the Libyan government.

"Based on a meeting held by the tribes of the town of al-Asaba, it was decided to join the Government of National Accord," the town’s social council said on Facebook.

The local council of Mizdah town, located 100 kilometers (some 63 miles) southwest of Tripoli, also threw their support to the Libyan government and army against Haftar.

"We announce the support of the legitimate Government of National Accord headed by Fayez al-Sarraj," the city council said in a statement.

Libya’s army on Monday retook Al-Watiya Airbase occupied by Haftar's militias, a key facility now back under government control after some six years under putschist forces.

The move came after the Libyan army destroyed three Russian-made Pantsir type air defense systems used by Haftar’s forces that were also supplied by the UAE.

Libya's government has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/libyan-army-moves-to-liberate-town-of-al-asaba-/1847400

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Libyan army destroys missile system used by Haftar

Enes Canli  

20.05.2020

The Libyan army on Wednesday destroyed a Russian-made air defense system used by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar in the city of Terhune.

Abdul-Malik Al-Madani, spokesman for the government-led Volcano of Rage Operation, told Anadolu Agency that the Pantsir missile system, which was supplied to Haftar’s militias by the United Arab Emirates, has been demolished.

Images of an unmanned aerial vehicle of the Libyan army targeting a hangar were also shared on social media and in the local press.

The Libyan army had announced that after capturing the strategic Al-Watiya airbase in the western part of the country from Haftar’s militias, they had captured an air defense system of the same type as the UAE had provided to the militia.

Haftar, the leader of illegal armed forces in eastern Libya, has intensified attacks on civilians since the beginning of May as the Libyan army recently gained an advantage and inflicted severe losses on his militants.

The government has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence. It launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/libyan-army-destroys-missile-system-used-by-haftar/1847048

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Violence in Sudan's south leaves dozens dead

Hamza Hendawi

May 21, 2020

Violence broke out this week in Sudan’s turbulent South Kordofan province, with two days of clashes leaving nearly 30 people dead, including members of a paramilitary force linked to the armed forces.

The clashes in South Kordofan, home of a long-running anti-government rebellion, marked the third outbreak of deadly violence in the country this month. The previous bouts of bloodletting were in Kassala in eastern Sudan and in South Darfur, the birthplace of a ruinous war between the government and insurgents that began in the 2000s and continues to this day.

While relatively limited in their scope, this month’s violence points to the instability of the vast Afro-Arab nation and showcases its bumpy transition to democratic rule, a goal that would be difficult, some say impossible, to attain 13 months after the overthrow by the military of dictator Omar Al Bashir following months of street protests against his 29-year rule.

A transitional government has been in office since August last year after a landmark power-sharing agreement between the military and an alliance of opposition groups that led the street protests against Al Bashir. Part of the agreement was to reach a peaceful settlement to ongoing rebellions in the western regions of Darfur and Kordofan as well as in the Blue Nile south of the capital Khartoum. Months of peace negotiations in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, have so far failed to produce a breakthrough, leaving the country’s shift to democratic rule under threat.

The latest violence took place in South Kordofan’s provincial capital of Kadugli and its outlying areas. The clashes, which left more than two dozen people dead, were over an arms sale, according to the army. Local Authorities blamed an “outlawed group” for the violence. They ordered a complete, three-day lockdown in the area in a bid to restore peace.

The army said it intended to investigate the clashes with a view to prosecuting the perpetrators.

A spokesman for the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Brig Gen Gamal Ammer, said at least nine members of the force were among those killed. At least 26 other people, including 10 civilians, were wounded in the clashes, which erupted Monday night.

He said the RSF was not part of the fight but did not explain how members of the force were among the killed and wounded. The genesis of the RSF is in the notorious Janjaweed militias which fought on the government’s side during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s. The militiamen are widely suspected of involvement in war crimes against the ethnically African residents of Darfur.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/violence-in-sudan-s-south-leaves-dozens-dead-1.1022580

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Turkey condemns Boko Haram attack in Nigeria

Firdevs Bulut  

20.05.2020

Turkey's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday condemned the terrorist attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

"We are saddened by the terrorist attacks that took place in Borno and Yobe States of Nigeria, on May 19, 2020, claiming many lives and leaving several injured.

We condemn these heinous terrorist attacks. We wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives, speedy recovery to the injured and offer our sincere condolences to the people and Government of Nigeria," said a statement on the ministry's website.

Boko Haram launched a bloody insurgency in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria but later spread its atrocities to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a military response.

More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly 3 million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram's terrorist activities in Nigeria, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkey-condemns-boko-haram-attack-in-nigeria/1848223

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan, China and others reaffirm support for Afghan peace

May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Representatives of Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran held a virtual meeting and discussed the Afghan issue and issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to Afghan peace.

The spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian said at a regular news briefing that Special Envoy on Afghan affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Liu Jian, Russian Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian, and Additional Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan Safdar Hayat held a video conference on May 18 and had an in-depth exchange of views on the current situation in Afghanistan and the peace and reconciliation process.

The meeting was hosted by the Russian side. The four parties issued a joint statement afterwards.

The joint statement welcomes the signing of the political agreement by the two major Afghan political leaders and calls on all parties in Afghanistan to seize the opportunity to launch intra-Afghan talks and realise comprehensive and sustainable peace at an early date.

It called on foreign troops to withdraw in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure a smooth transition. It expressed hope that relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions would be observed and implemented, and urged all parties in Afghanistan to resolutely combat international terrorist organisations. It reaffirmed support for Afghanistan in the fight against COVID-19.

At present, the situation in Afghanistan is at a critical stage. China said that as Afghanistan’s traditional friendly neighbour, it respects the Afghan people’s independent decision on their own future and development path, and would do its best to support Afghanistan’s peaceful reconstruction.

The spokesperson said that China firmly supports the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace and reconciliation process and hopes that intra-Afghan talks will start and yield positive results at an early date.

“China will continue strengthening communication and coordination with relevant parties in Afghanistan and making constructive efforts with the international community for the political settlement of the Afghan issue,” the spokesperson added.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/05/20/pakistan-china-others-reaffirm-support-afghan-peace/

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NAB to offer hi-tea to its prisoners on Eid

May 21, 2020

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will give a ‘relief’ to its prisoners by offering hi-tea on Eid day.

“Keeping its past tradition alive, the NAB has arranged hi-tea for all detained suspects and they will also be presented bouquets on Eid day,” a NAB spokesperson said in a statement issued here on Wednesday.

The bureau said it had decided to present bouquets to all its suspects detained at Kot Lakhpat and Camp jails on judicial remand. It said the bureau was doing so out of a goodwill gesture.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1558624/nab-to-offer-hi-tea-to-its-prisoners-on-eid

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PM makes out strong case for debt relief at WEF

Syed Irfan Raza | Kalbe Ali

May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said a large number of developing countries did not have fiscal space to deal with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak and called for debt relief to deal with the situation.

Addressing the “Covid Action Platform” hosted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) through video link, he said G-20 countries were coming up with a debt relief initiative but more details were needed. “The reason why there should be such an initiative is because we need that fiscal space to divert resources to healthcare and environment. I talked to the heads of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt and they informed me that they are facing a similar situation,” he added.

PM Khan said that due to limited resources the developing countries faced a dual challenge — combating the pandemic and dealing with poverty.

He said Pakistan could not afford a prolonged lockdown and millions would have starved if the lockdown was not lifted. “In Pakistan, we have 25 million workers who are either daily wage earners or are self-employed, and these are 25 million families; I will say it has affected 120-150 million people in total,” he added.

“These people are facing stark poverty, and unless these people work, they will starve, so what we did, and I am proud of my government for this, was that we started a cash disbursement programme,” he told the forum.

However, he said, this was only a short-term solution, which is why “we decided to ease the lockdown, as there is no way the government can give out handouts to feed people for too long”.

PM Khan said the experience of the developed world was completely different from what had been faced by the developing world. “In countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, specifically the Indian subcontinent, our experience is somewhat different. The speed at which Covid-19 spread in Europe and the United States, we are not experiencing the same sort of speed and we have yet not reached our peak here,” he added.

He said the coming year was not just a challenge for Pakistan but for the entire world, as every country looked within and became insular, but ultimately “we are all connected and the response has to be global”.

“The way forward that we have this year as a nation is that we realise that we have to live with this virus at least until a vaccine comes out and balances it. We have raised a volunteer force in this regard — of one million volunteers — who will help the administration as it is already overburdened and so are the law enforcement agencies,” he added.

Nation has to live with virus

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of Tele-Health Platform (service through WhatsApp) launched to register doctors and other health practitioners and provide free online health service to patients, Prime Minister Khan said the nation would have to live with coronavirus for at least a year and more and more doctors would be needed to cope up with the situation as Pakistan becomes the 25th country to have reported over 1,000 deaths from the viral disease.

Pakistan becomes the sixth most affected country in terms of deaths in Asia after Iran, China, Turkey, India and Indonesia. The number of Covid-19 cases in the world has crossed the five million mark.

“The viral disease will continue to exit at least till the end of this year unless a vaccine comes into the market and till that time we have to live with the virus,” the prime minister said, adding that a large number of people had been affected economically by coronavirus in the country.

Talking about health facilities in the country, PM Khan said that even the developed countries were facing a severe health facility crisis, but due to the already dilapidated condition of the health sector in Pakistan, the government was facing a bigger challenge.

“Unfortunately, we ignored our health sector in the past, but we have to improve it not for Covid-19 but even after it to provide better health facilities to the people, especially those living in remote areas,” he added.

The prime minister said that earlier the government had started a tele-education programme in which students were being taught in special class through the state-run PTV and now it launched the tele-health programme to register doctors and other health practitioners, especially lady doctors, to give health advices to those living in the far-flung areas where doctors were not available.

“More and more doctors should get themselves registered with the tele-health programme to provide medical facilities to the people in hilly and remote areas through technology. With the passage of time, the number of coronavirus cases will rise in the country and there will be a need to have more doctors to combat the deadly virus,” he added.

According to the health ministry, Pakistan is the first country to have launched free of cost Covid-19 tele-health service. The service, launched by Digital Pakistan and the Ministry of National Health Services, will connect volunteer doctors with the citizens who may have symptoms and need guidance from professional healthcare providers.

“For our 210 million populations, there are roughly less than 150,000 doctors. For the common person, they sometimes have to take a whole day out to travel from their village to a city to see a doctor. When the coronavirus crisis happened, the prime minister advised us to use technology to address the problems. We wanted to reduce the burden and risk on our healthcare facilities and our doctors,” said Tania Aidrus, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Digital Pakistan, during the launching ceremony.

“Keeping this situation in mind, we built our solution with WhatsApp so Pakistanis would not have to learn a new app or website. They can simply message the WhatsApp number and receive a call from the doctor,” she explained.

SAMP on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said doctors and healthcare professionals on the frontlines were doing and had already done so much. “One outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic is the need to scale up digital health solutions. This tele-health portal allows those doctors who are at home, or overseas Pakistani health professionals to come to their support and lessen the burden,” he added.

Meanwhile, 2,198 new cases of Covid-19 and 40 deaths were reported during the last 24 hours, taking the national tally of cases to 47,259 and deaths to 1,009. As many as 344 patients are in critical condition, while 10,731 patients have been admitted to 726 hospitals across the country.

Meeting

Meanwhile, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed with the latter matters pertaining to the internal security, current situation vis-à-vis Covid-19 pandemic, relief efforts and the overall regional situation, said a press release issued by the Prime Minister Office.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1558649/pm-makes-out-strong-case-for-debt-relief-at-wef

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Balochistan Assembly holds session under SOPs

May 21, 2020

QUETTA: The requisitioned session of the Balochistan Assembly was held on Wednesday under Covid-19 SOPs after two of its members (Finance Minister Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi and opposition member Mir Younus Aziz Zehri) tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Under these measures 30 per cent of the members were allowed to attend the session. The 26 members who attended the session were given masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.

Their body temperatures were taken at the entrance of the assembly’s building. Inside the hall they sat at a distance to each other in view of the social distancing rules.

No other media organisation was allowed to cover the proceedings except for the state television, PTV.

The assembly session, presided over by Deputy Speaker Sardar Babar Khan Musakhail, discussed the agenda of the opposition that included government policy on Covid-19 and usage of funds by unelected persons in the constituencies of opposition MPAs.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1558654/balochistan-assembly-holds-session-under-sops

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Sindh govt allows normal funeral rites of Covid-19 patients with precautions

May 20, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh government has revised the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for funerals of Covid-19 patients relaxing the tough conditions and allowing normal rituals.

On the recommendations of health experts, “very much normal” rituals have been restored through the revised SOPs issued by the provincial health department. However, people have been advised to strictly adhere to the precautions, explained in the SOPs, in order to protect participants in the rites from contracting the contagion.

“To devise a methodology which is convenient and safe to all involved in death rites keeping in view religious, cultural and customary dignified burial without compromising health of near and dear ones” is the title of the document defining the revised SOPs and issued to health facilities across the province.

The document says that infection communication by a living Covid-19 person is through contact or coughing or sneezing (droplet transmission). While it is obviously not the case after death of such a patient, care is needed in coming close to the body, it adds.

“Secretions coming out of natural orifices e.g. mouth, nose and anus may harbour the virus. People touching the body or coming in contact with body secretions can acquire the virus. Safety of those handling the body is of prime importance,” explains the document.

“Adequate body disinfection in the hospital as well as at ghusl (washing) and kafan (shrouding) [stages] virtually eliminates the risk. To date, there is no evidence of a person having become infected from exposure to the bodies of persons who died of Covid-19.”

According to the document, beyond shrouding, there is no need for government or administration personnel to get or remain involved in the rites. The body should be handed over to the heirs for further rites like funeral and burial.

It came up with details of different protective measures for the hospital administration and health workers. It mentions the most important rites — funeral prayers and burial — and allows normal religious practices with healthcare precautions.

“Janaza prayers can be offered at usual place, masjid or graveyard,” it says, adding that there is, however, a risk of person-to-person infection transmission at gatherings. Hence, limiting number of participants and keeping distance between every two persons should be strictly followed, it said.

Bereaved family members, it says, should be properly counselled on this aspect by the district administration and during funeral, advisory relating to gatherings as issued by the health and home departments must be adhered to.

“There is no need to designate a separate burial place for Covid-19 deceased. They can be buried in the usual graveyards. There is no need for any special dimension of the grave. Usual graves can be used. [Crowding] at the burial site is however to be avoided. Minimum number of people should be involved to avoid cross infection between people,” it says.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1558349/sindh-govt-allows-normal-funeral-rites-of-covid-19-patients-with-precautions

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Peace in Afghanistan beneficial for whole region, says Qureshi

May 21, 2020

LAHORE: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that Pakistan has been actively supporting the Afghan peace process as it believes that peace in the war-torn country would be beneficial for the whole region.

He said this while speaking to veteran journalist and Pakistan Today Editor Arif Nizami on Channel 92’s programme ‘Ho Kya Raha Hai?’.

Arif Nizami highlighted that during an online press briefing earlier in the day, American diplomat Alice Wells said that Pakistan is the second biggest beneficiary of peace in Afghanistan but it has not been doing much to end violence in the country.

Moreover, he said, the American diplomat expressed reservations over China’s loans to Pakistan, saying that Pakistan would have a hard time paying back the loans taken for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in view of the deteriorating economic condition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He further said that Wells also highlighted India’s role in the Afghan peace process, saying that it is playing an important role in this regard.

Responding to the American diplomat’s statements, the foreign minister said that Pakistan has always promoted peace and United States President Donald Trump had also acknowledged its efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan is not responsible for the delay in the Afghan peace process. “Their internal politics created hurdles but not that political rivals have reached an agreement, we are hopeful that the peace process would be carried forward,” he said, adding that peace in the war-torn country would be beneficial for the entire region.

Regarding US’ concerns over the loans taken by Pakistan for CPEC, FM Qureshi said that these loans were negligible when compared to Pakistan’s overall external debt. He also said that Pakistan and China’s relationship allows them to resolve issues bilaterally.

Responding to Wells’ statement about India’s role in Afghanistan, he said that both countries can relations on account of them being sovereign states but they do not have much in common nor did the former host refugees from the latter. He also said that India has historically supported extremist elements within Afghanistan.

“They do not want the situation to improve there because they want us to remain entangled on our western border,” he said, adding that India does have a role but it is being exaggerated.

When asked about India’s continuous ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC), he said that India is trying to divert attention from its internal issues.

“The situation in occupied Kashmir is deteriorating,” he said, adding that the Indian government’s August 5 move drew widespread opposition from different groups in Kashmir.

Moreover, he said, India’s recent citizenship bill and their handling of the coronavirus impact and its subsequent economic downfall has led to many citizens now opposing their government.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/05/20/peace-afghanistan-beneficial-whole-region-says-qureshi/

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Pakistan wants early repatriation of Afghan refugees: President Alvi

May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday said that Pakistan wants early and honorable repatriation of Afghan refugees.

The president said this during a ration distribution ceremony among Afghan refugees in wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that Pakistan has always kept its doors open for Afghan brethren who have been facing war oppression for many decades.

He also said that Pakistan wants early and durable peace in Afghanistan. “We provided same facilities and cooperation to Afghan refugees extended to our own citizens to protect them from coronavirus,” he added.

“Islam teaches us compassion and good feelings for fellow Muslims and in the same spirit Pakistan and Turkey have been hosting Afghan and Syrian refugees on their respective lands,” he further said.

President Alvi also congratulated Afghan refugees on account of upcoming Eidul Fitr and prayed for tranquility in Afghanistan and their repatriation to their homes. He urged people to offer Eid prayers at home in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

“It is not just a matter of our own lives, but of our families, and this is a responsibility,” he said.

He was of the view that practices will have to change in accordance with circumstances. He observed that the health crisis has “made everyone equal” as the entire world is suffering from the disease.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/05/20/pakistan-wants-early-repatriation-afghan-refugees-president-alvi/

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Pakistan records 1,932 new coronavirus cases, 48 deaths

May 20, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan recorded 1,932 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 46 fatalities during the last 24 hours, taking the total number infections in the country to 45,898 with 985 deaths, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

As many as 414,254 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far, it said, adding that 13,962 examinations were done in the last 24 hours.

Sindh recorded 17,947 coronavirus cases, followed by Punjab at 16,685, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 6,554, Balochistan 2,885, Islamabad 1,138, Gilgit-Baltistan 556 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 133.

So far 13,101 patients have recovered from the virus, the ministry said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-records-1932-new-coronavirus-cases-48-deaths/articleshow/75842052.cms

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Pakistan police arrest suspect in honor killing of 2 cousins

21 MAY 2020

Peshawar, May 20 (AP) A Pakistani man accused of killing his two teenage cousins after a video of the sisters surfaced on social media showing them kissing a man was arrested Wednesday, a local police official said.

The killings took place last week in North Waziristan, a former tribal area that served as a Taliban stronghold until recent years. The video, filmed about a year ago, went viral last week and allegedly angered the sisters'' cousin, who accused them of damaging the family''s honor.

The arrest came following a five-day manhunt launched in the region to find and arrest Mohammad Aslam, who fled after allegedly killing the sisters last week, said Shafiullah Gandapur, a district police chief in North Waziristan.

Police had arrested the man seen in the video kissing the two sisters and he is suspected of posting the video on social media. Gandapur said the video angered the girls'' cousin Aslam, who is now accused of shooting the girls dead.

“We are also questioning the father and brother of the two girls to determine whether they played any role in the murder,” he said.

So-called honor killings are a significant issue in Pakistan, a conservative Muslim country where nearly 1,000 women are killed by close relatives each year because of actions perceived as violating conservative norms on love and marriage. The incidents have continued even though the country''s parliament in 2016 made legal changes to mandate a 25-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of an honor killing.

Kissing in Pakistan is illegal and couples engaging in such displays of affection are usually detained, only to be released after paying a requested sum of money to avoid charges.

Earlier this month, Pakistan''s independent human rights commission in its annual report gave a failing grade to the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, charging that too little was done to protect the country''s most vulnerable, including women and children.

Law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are often corrupt or refuse to take the word of a woman over a man in Pakistan''s deeply male-dominated society. In April, a powerful cleric who has the ear of the prime minister blamed the global coronavirus pandemic on women who dress immodestly.

Full report at:

https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/a-healthy-afghanistan-is-going-to-need-to-have-a-healthy-relationship-with-india-wells/1841213?scroll

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US praises Pakistan’s cooperation for peace in Afghanistan

May 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Tru­mp administration’s outgoing point person for South and Central Asia Alice Wells on Wednesday praised Pak­istan for “solid cooperation” for peace in Afghan­istan and emphasised that future of bilateral ties depended on Islamabad’s continued support.

“We have seen over the last year, solid cooperation between Amb Khalilzad and the Pakistani civilian and military leadership to encourage the Taliban to take steps to reach the negotiating table,” Ambassador Wells said during an online media briefing in which she reviewed and reflected on US policies in the region during the past three years.

Amb Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the State Department, is retiring this month. This was possibly her last official media engagement.

“The advancement and improvement and the foundation for a stronger US-Pakistan partnership is premised on our ability to work together constructively to advance peace,” she underscored.

Recalling how the United States upped the pressure on Pakistan to deliver on its counter-terrorism expectations, the retiring senior diplomat said President Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia unequivocally made it clear to Pakistan that it needed to take “decisive action” against groups, and the subsequent suspension of security assistance demonstrated Washington’s “resolve”.

“Since then we have seen constructive steps by Pakistan to encourage the Taliban to advance the Afghan peace process. Pakistan has also taken initial steps towards curtailing terrorist groups that threaten the region, such as arresting and prosecuting the LeT leader Hafiz Saeed and beginning to dismantle terrorist financing structures,” she further said.

Amb Wells said that the US-Pakistan ties, especially bilateral trade, expanded as Islamabad’s commitment to peace in the region grew.

She said continuing violence in Afghanistan was at an “unacceptable level”.

Noting that progress to intra-Afghan political negotiations in the peace process had been difficult, she said it was the responsibility of the Taliban to reduce violence.

Amb Wells urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to jointly fight Covid-19 and ISIS-Khorasan that has carried out numerous “ruthless and evil attacks” including last week’s attack on a maternity centre in Kabul in which mothers and newborns were killed.

The peace process, she reminded, was difficult, but obstacles have to be overcome.

The US diplomat said India’s role in Afghanistan was crucial. The importance Washington attached to India with regards to its Afghan policy, she said, was evident from Amb Khalilzad continuing consultations with Indian leaders on the issue.

“Obviously, it’s up to India to determine how best to support the peace process. India is a very important actor in Afghanistan, $3 billion in assistance that has already been pledged, touched every province, the diplomatic and political support that India traditionally has provided to Afghans. … India’s going to be a critical player and is a critical player,” she said.

CHINA: Amb Wells repeated her criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its flagship project China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and urged Beijing to relieve the countries involved in these undertakings of its “predatory loans”.

She said the US calls on “China to offer transparent relief from the BRI’s predatory loans that countries are suffering from, emerge on stable footing.”

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1558647/us-praises-pakistans-cooperation-for-peace-in-afghanistan

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