New Age Islam
Wed Aug 12 2020, 05:04 PM

Islamic World News ( 26 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Triple Talaq Bill Not Acceptable If Against Quran: Muslim Women's Law Board


Photo: AIMWPLB chairperson Shaista Amber held AIMPLB responsible for the present state of affairs.

 

Bangladeshi Blogger, Asaduzzaman Noor, Held For Anti-Islamic Facebook Post

Hardline Australian Muslim Sheikh REFUSES to Say Merry Christmas to Anyone So He Doesn't

Have To Explain Himself to Allah When He Dies

Bringing Jihad Home? 300 British ISIS Fighters ‘Hiding Out In Turkey’

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India

Triple Talaq Bill Not Acceptable If Against Quran: Muslim Women's Law Board

Rajsamand Murder: Accused Cooked Up Love Jihad Story to Hide Affair with Minor, Hit the Wrong Target

Malegaon Blast Case: Lt Col Purohit's Discharge Plea Rejected, To Be Tried Under UAPA

Pakistan sends shoes of Kulbhushan Jadhav's wife for forensic testing

Angry India slams Pakistan for insults heaped on Kulbhushan Jadhav kin

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South Asia

Bangladeshi Blogger, Asaduzzaman Noor, Held For Anti-Islamic Facebook Post

CPEC's Extension To Afghanistan Not Directed Against India: China

Gen. Raziq next target of government’s conspiracies, claims Noor

Osama shifted to Afghanistan in 2007 to plot assassinations: ISI

Afghanistan and India launch air corridor between Kabul and Mumbai cities

Afghan forces thwart car bombing, coordinated attacks in Jalalabad city

President Ghani receives report regarding Mirza Olang massacre

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Australia

Hardline Australian Muslim Sheikh REFUSES to Say Merry Christmas to Anyone So He Doesn't Have To Explain Himself to Allah When He Dies

Geelong Parking Machines Vandalised With Anti-Islam Propaganda

Neil Prakash tells Turkish court he has no links to Islamic State in Australia

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Europe

Bringing Jihad Home? 300 British ISIS Fighters ‘Hiding Out In Turkey’

Russia Accuses U.S. Of Training Former Islamic State Fighters in Syria

Russia's Lavrov: Main Part of Battle With Islamic State in Syria Is Over - RIA

SPD wants to toughen anti-Islamic legislation

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia Helicopters Attack Kills 30 Civilians in Yemen Village: Residents, Medics

Less Than 1,000 Islamic State Fighters Remain In Iraq and Syria, Coalition Says

Syrian Military Jet Downed by Militants, Pilot Killed

Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Northern Homs

Airstrikes Destroy Al Nusra Targets in Hama Province

Large Military Planes Transfer More Syrian, Russian Soldiers, Equipment to Hama

Syrian Army Gives 3-Day Ultimatum to Terrorists to Surrender

ISIL Terrorists Hidden in US-Backed Militants' Camp in Southern Syria

Senior Terrorist Commander Killed in Gov't Forces' Attack in Northern Syria

Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorists in Hama Province

Saudi Arabia releases corruption detainees, others before trial

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Pakistan

'Rogue Elements' From Establishment May Have Been Involved In Benazir's Murder: Musharraf

Bilawal recalls mother's legacy, accuses Musharraf of 'murder'

I failed to reform the provincial education sector, says Sindh education minister

Pak summons Indian diplomat over soldiers' killing along LoC

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Mideast

Qatar Islamic Bank Implements Face ID for Mobile App

Muslim community feed the homeless on Christmas Day

Turkey Sends New Group of Soldiers to Qatar

Iran police taking softer line on Islamic codes: chief

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Africa

Islamic Delegation to Head to Coptic Church for Christmas

Nigeria may die – Muslim students warn leaders

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia to Launch World’s First Digital Framework for Islamic Economy In 2018

44 Muslim NGO Urge Police, MCMC to Act against Steady aku47 Blog

Azerbaijan – a unique country contributing to interfaith dialogue, Islamic solidarity

Indonesian bakery reignites debate over Xmas greeting

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North America

US drone strike target Haqqani terrorist network commander in Pakistan

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/triple-talaq-bill-not-acceptable-if-against-quran--muslim-women-s-law-board/d/113716

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Triple Talaq Bill Not Acceptable If Against Quran: Muslim Women's Law Board

Published Dec 27, 2017

Lucknow: A day ahead of the tabling of the triple Talaq bill in Parliament, some Muslim women's organisations said on Wednesday that the proposed legislation would not be acceptable if not in consonance with the Quran or the Constitution.

"Nikaah (marriage) is a contract. Whosoever breaks it should be punished. However, if it (Bill) is not in the light of Quran and the Constitution, no Muslim woman will accept it," All India Muslim Women Personal Law board (AIMWPLB) chairperson Shaista Amber said.

"I had sent a letter to the Law Commission requesting it to show the draft bill to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), AIMWPLB, JamaitIslami, JamiatUlma-e-Hind and organisations working for women who were given talaq. I got a reply that if needed, it will be discussed but that did not happen," she added.

Holding the AIMPLB responsible for the present state of affairs, Amber said the board never bothered to take triple talaq seriously, and now it was too late.

Muslim Women League's president Naish Hasan said that in the Family Court Act there is always a chance to save a family but the proposed bill does not give such a chance.

"Third party has also been given the right to complain in the bill. That is not fair," she said. Hasan added that the bill should be stalled for now and discussions should be held as a law in haste will complicate matters. We will protest if the bill is passed without any discussion, she said.

Demanding withdrawal of the bill, the AIMPLB had earlier said the proposed legislation was against the provisions of the Constitution and violated the rights of women.

Describing it a "conspiracy", the AIMPLB at its meeting here on Sunday had accused the government of snatching the right of divorce from men.

AIMPLB chairman Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadwi will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withhold or withdraw the proposed bill that criminalises the practice of instant divorce, an official spokesperson of the Muslim body said.

In August, the Supreme Court by a majority of 3:2 ruled that the practice of divorce through triple talaq among Muslims is "void", "illegal" and "unconstitutional".

The government then drafted the 'Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill' according to which giving instant divorce will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

The bill seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce by repeated the word talaq thrice.

deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/271217/triple-talaq-bill-not-acceptable-if-against-quran-muslim-womens-law-board.html

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Bangladeshi Blogger, Asaduzzaman Noor, Held For Anti-Islamic Facebook Post

26 Dec, 2017 22:20:29 IST

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi blogger accused of posting a message on Facebook allegedly offensive to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad has been arrested by the police.

Immigration authorities detained the writer and youtuber identified as Asaduzzaman Noor alias "Asad Noor" at Dhaka airport while he was trying to leave the country on Monday, Efe news agency cited an airport official as saying.

"He had an open case in Amtoli area in Barguna district under the Information and Communication Technology Act. Today we handed him to a cyber tribunal," said the official.

Barguna police superintendent BijoyBosak confirmed that the case against Noor had been filed in January after the accused published a Facebook message considered blasphemous and since then there has been an arrest warrant pending against him.

Residents of Barguna held demonstrations in January following the publication of the post, according to Amtali police spokesperson Amirul Islam, who said that the accused had been on the run since the beginning of the year.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country, witnessed a spate of Islamist attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting members of religious minorities, foreigners, homosexual activists, thinkers and secular bloggers critical of fundamentalism.

Almost 90 per cent of the 160 million inhabitants of Bangladesh are Muslims, who have traditionally been moderate.

firstpost.com/world/bangladeshi-blogger-held-for-anti-islamic-facebook-post-4276591.html

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Hardline Australian Muslim sheikh REFUSES to say Merry Christmas to anyone so he doesn't have to explain himself to Allah when he dies

27 December 2017

A fundamentalist Muslim sheikh has declared he refuses to wish anyone a Merry Christmas so he can please Allah and go to heaven.

Jamil El-Biza, from Wollongong south of Sydney, told his thousands of Facebook followers shunning a Christian holy greeting would ensure he went to paradise after death.

'I'd rather be resurrected on the day of judgement, with the fact I made a few hundred million unhappy with me because I refuse to say "Merry Christmas", rather then being brought forward before Allah and having to explain to him why I congratulated a Christian who worships Jesus as lord,' he said on Christmas Day.

The Sunni hardliner, who counts the Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed as a Facebook friend, in September described gay marriage as 'evil' and referred to homosexual men by a derogatory term.

'I see it as a sign of whether the public has openly accepted that f****ts and lesbians have the right to officially claim that they are married,' he told his 3,668 Facebook friends.

His social media circle also includes Hizbut-Tahrir spokesman Hamzah Qureshi and Islamic Friendship Association of Australia founder KeysarTrad.

Mr El-Biza, who is a member of the Australian National Council of Imams, cleared eight years worth of social media posts in September after Daily Mail Australia exposed his comments on gay marriage

Mr El-Biza is affiliated with the Ahlus Sunnah WalJamaah Association, which tells its followers it is sinful for Muslims to participate in non-Islamic events including Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. 

He often accuses critics of Islamist fundamentalism of 'spreading hate' and hoped the late cartoonist Bill Leak would 'never rest in peace' for mocking Islam.

Of Australia's Muslim sheikhs, Mr El-Biza has used the most strident language against homosexuality and even Shiite Muslims, who said in 2013 needed to be 'destroyed'.

Fellow ASWJ fundamentalist preachers include AbdulghaniAlbaf, who has denounced Muslim men for using public urinals, and Mohamad Doar, who told teenage girls they would go to hell for having non-Muslim friends or plucking their eyebrows.

It also includes Islamic teacher Nassim Abdi, who says women should refrain from going to university if it means they have premarital sex.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5213937/Muslim-sheikh-wont-say-Merry-Christmas-Allah.html

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Bringing jihad home? 300 British ISIS fighters ‘hiding out in Turkey’

Published time: 27 Dec, 2017 11:58

 British jihadists are on the run, having been driven out of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) strongholds in Syria. Up to 300 of them are hiding out in Turkey, according to a Syrian-Kurdish intelligence officer.

Fighters were sent scrambling into the desert when the then IS-held cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in northern Iraq were retaken this year. At least 300 among them are believed to be British – leading to fears among western intelligence agencies that many are making the journey back to Europe to launch terrorist attacks at home.

A Syrian-Kurdish intelligence officer said that of the 850 Britons who travelled to join IS, around half have returned, some 130 are dead and the remainder unaccounted for. CiwanXhalil said many are likely to be in Turkey.

“The exodus began after Mosul fell and continued after [IS] lost Raqqa. We have lots of French [nationals] in our jails and scores of others but we think most of the British have escaped.”

British security sources said getting from Turkey to the UK unnoticed would be extremely hard for those on their watch list. However, sources said this week these fighters could carry out attacks in Europe.

Police in Britain said they are stopping and questioning returnees from Syria while authorities also deploy covert techniques to track down extremists. US intelligence sources said the CIA and MI6 are coordinating in the hunt for foreign IS fighters.

While only three of the 40 attacks in Europe since 2015 have involved foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, those three incidents led to more than half the total fatalities.

Earlier this year former IS militant Saddam al-Hamadi, 26, was arrested by Turkish security forces. He warned that extremists planned to use the chaos of the fall of Raqqa to travel to Europe.

Talking to ITV while in Turkish custody, Al-Hamadi said: “They will go overseas to launch terrorist attacks in some areas in Europe. They went to Europe after the withdrawal. Before that they thought the Europeans were infidels, non-believers. They will get out, across Turkey and into Europe where they will launch terrorist attacks and other things.”

rt.com/uk/414341-isis-fighters-turkey-terrorism/

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India

Triple Talaq Bill Not Acceptable If Against Quran: Muslim Women's Law Board

Published Dec 27, 2017

Lucknow: A day ahead of the tabling of the triple Talaq bill in Parliament, some Muslim women's organisations said on Wednesday that the proposed legislation would not be acceptable if not in consonance with the Quran or the Constitution.

"Nikaah (marriage) is a contract. Whosoever breaks it should be punished. However, if it (Bill) is not in the light of Quran and the Constitution, no Muslim woman will accept it," All India Muslim Women Personal Law board (AIMWPLB) chairperson Shaista Amber said.

"I had sent a letter to the Law Commission requesting it to show the draft bill to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), AIMWPLB, JamaitIslami, JamiatUlma-e-Hind and organisations working for women who were given talaq. I got a reply that if needed, it will be discussed but that did not happen," she added.

Holding the AIMPLB responsible for the present state of affairs, Amber said the board never bothered to take triple talaq seriously, and now it was too late.

Muslim Women League's president Naish Hasan said that in the Family Court Act there is always a chance to save a family but the proposed bill does not give such a chance.

"Third party has also been given the right to complain in the bill. That is not fair," she said. Hasan added that the bill should be stalled for now and discussions should be held as a law in haste will complicate matters. We will protest if the bill is passed without any discussion, she said.

Demanding withdrawal of the bill, the AIMPLB had earlier said the proposed legislation was against the provisions of the Constitution and violated the rights of women.

Describing it a "conspiracy", the AIMPLB at its meeting here on Sunday had accused the government of snatching the right of divorce from men.

AIMPLB chairman Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadwi will request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withhold or withdraw the proposed bill that criminalises the practice of instant divorce, an official spokesperson of the Muslim body said.

In August, the Supreme Court by a majority of 3:2 ruled that the practice of divorce through triple talaq among Muslims is "void", "illegal" and "unconstitutional".

The government then drafted the 'Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill' according to which giving instant divorce will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

The bill seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce by repeated the word talaq thrice.

deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/271217/triple-talaq-bill-not-acceptable-if-against-quran-muslim-womens-law-board.html

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Rajsamand Murder: Accused Cooked Up Love Jihad Story to Hide Affair with Minor, Hit The Wrong Target

By: Sriparna Ghosh | December 27, 2017

The blood-curdling murder of a Muslim labourer from West Bengal at Rajsamand in Rajasthan is turning out to be more intriguing after the police claimed that the accused was cooking up the 'love jihad' story to cover up his own affair with a minor Hindu girl.

What is even more perplexing is that the accused, Shambhu Nath Raigar, got his target wrong and killed the wrong man.

Police said that Raigar was romantically involved with a minor girl and he committed the murder fearing that he might get exposed. 

According to a NDTV report, the police said that the accused, who is married, was the one who was in a relationship with the minor and killed the Muslim man to hide the affair.

However, there seems to be another dramatic twist in the incident.

Raigar seems to have burnt to death the wrong man, as he did not identify the person by the face whom he was searching for.

Raigar killed to hide extramarital affair

According to Raigar's version, the 13-year-old girl with whom he is reportedly involved, had been taken away to Malda in West Bengal by an "illegal Bangladeshi" and had been forcefully converted to Islam. He had said that he went to get the girl back from Malda.

The television channel reported that the teenager had eloped with a labour from Bengal called Bablu Sheikh.

"Her mother and uncle got her back, but she ran away again in two months. This time a guy called Ajju Sheikh helped her get to Bengal," the police was quoted as saying by NDTV.

When the girl ran away the second time, Raigar went to get her back as he liked the minor.

"It is true that Regar (Shambhu Nath Raigar) had feelings for her and he went to Bengal to get her," Rajender Singh Rao, Circle Officer, Rajsamand told NDTV.

Even the minor's mother confirmed that the accused had gone to fetch her daughter from Bengal, but Raigar took her away when her family refused to accept her.

"He (Raigar) came to me asking for money to go to Bengal and get my daughter. He told me that she was being ill-treated there. So I gave him Rs 9, 000," the girl's mother said.

"But when she came back, I refused to accept her, so Regar took her on a bike somewhere. I don't know where she is now," she added.

However, the minor's side of the story is not known as she refused to talk to the news outlet.

Wrong person was burnt to death

The cops have also revealed that Raigar wanted to search for Ajju as he suspected he was still in contact with the minor and might help her to run away again.

In fact, the accused went to Jhalchaki Chauraha in Rajsamand, where there are many labourers from Benagl to look for Ajju. Unfortunately, a person gave him Afrazul's number instead of Ajju's.

As Raigar did not know Ajju by face, he mistook Afrazul as the man who had helped the minor run away the second time.

Meanwhile, the family members and his lawyer of Raigar have said that the accused is mentally unstable.

The police have rubbished these claims and have asserted Raigar is a "cold-blooded murderer".

The Rajsamand murder came to light in the first week of December when two shocking videos of the coldblooded act went viral. In the video Raigar was seen claiming that he was taking revenge for love jihad.

ibtimes.co.in/rajsamand-murder-accused-cooked-love-jihad-story-hide-affair-minor-hit-wrong-target-754661

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Malegaon blast case: Lt Col Purohit's discharge plea rejected, to be tried under UAPA

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Dec 27, 2017

A special NIA court dropped MCOCA charges against Lt Col Prasad Purohit, SadhviPragya and other accused

New charges will be framed against them under the IPC and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

The court rejected Purohit's petition to be discharged from prosecution in the blast case

Lt Prasad Purohit after being granted bail in August 2017 (File photo)Malegaon blast case: Lt Col Purohit's discharge plea rejected, to be tried under UAPA

NEW DELHI: A special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court on Thursday dropped stringent MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) charges against duty army officer Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, SadhviPragya and other accused in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

The court, however, rejected the plea to discharge Lt Col Purohit, SadhviPragya, Sameer Kulkarni, Ramesh Upadhyay and SudhakarDwivedi from the case. New charges will be framed against them under the IPC and section 18 (criminal conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Rakesh Dhawde and JagdishMhatre will face trial only under the Arms Act.

The court also discharged accused Pravin Takalki, Shyamlal Sahu and ShivnarayanKalsangra from the blast case.

As most of the accused are out on bail, all previous bonds and sureties will continue, the court said in its order.

The court has asked all the accused persons to appear before it on January 15 for the formal framing of charges against them.

Last week, the court dismissed the pleas filed by accused Lt Col Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni, challenging their prosecution. The petitions were filed by the accused, challenging the sanction of prosecution under provisions of the UAPA.

Both Purohit and Kulkarni have been out on bail since August 22, 2017 after the Supreme Court quashed a Bombay high court injunction denying bail to the two accused. SadhviPragya was granted bail in February this year.

On September 29, 2008, a bomb strapped to a bike near Bhikku Chowk in Malegaon killed 6 people and wounded 101 others.

The same year, the Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested SadhviPragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Purohit along with nine others for the blast conspiracy.

However, in April 2011, the NIA took over the probe from the Maharashtra ATS.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/mumbai/malegaon-blast-case-lt-purohits-discharge-plea-rejected-to-be-tried-under-uapa/articleshow/62267855.cms

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Pakistan sends shoes of KulbhushanJadhav's wife for forensic testing

PTI | Updated: Dec 27, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities have sent the shoes worn by KulbhushanJadhav's wife for forensic examination to determine the nature of the suspected presence of a foreign object+ , a media report said on Wednesday.

The authorities were ascertaining whether the "metallic object" in the shoes was a camera or a recording chip, Pakistan Today quoted Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal as saying.

A separate report in Dawn reported that the FO confirmed a "metallic substance" had been detected in Jadhav's wife's shoes that were retained by security officials prior to the meeting with the Indian death row prisoner at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

Jadhav's wife's shoes were kept for inspection, while all other belongings, including jewellery, were returned, Faisal said, adding that she was given an alternative pair of shoes to wear after her shoes were removed.

In a statement issued last night, the FO made no mention of the "metallic substance" and had said that there was "something" in the shoes.

In the statement, Pakistan rejected as "baseless" India's contentions that Jadhav's wife and mother were harassed and claimed that his wife's shoes were confiscated on security grounds as there was "something" in it.

"There was something in the shoe. It is being investigated. We gave her a pair of replacement shoes. All her jewellery etcwere returned after the meeting," Faisal said.

The external affairs ministry said in a statement yesterday that Pakistan went so far as to have the mangal sutra, bangles and bindi of Jadhav's mother and wife removed before they could meet him.

India also accused Pakistan of disregarding cultural and religious sensibilities of family members under the pretext of security.

"This included removal of mangal sutra, bangles and bindi, as well as a change in attire that was not warranted by security," it said.

The FO said that Pakistan does not wish to indulge in a "meaningless battle of words" and categorically rejects India's baseless "allegations and twists" about attitude of authorities during Jadhav's meeting with his wife and mother.

"The Indian baseless allegations and twists, that come 24 hrs later, about the visit of the wife and mother of Commander Jadhav, a convicted terrorist and spy, who has confessed to his crimes, are categorically rejected," the statement said.

If Indian concerns were serious, the guests or the Indian DHC (Deputy High Commissioner) should have raised them during the visit with the media which was readily available, but at a safe distance as requested by India, it said.

"We do not wish to indulge in a meaningless battle of words. Our openness and transparency belie these allegations," it said.

During the December 25 meeting, whose pictures were released by Pakistan, Jadhav was seen sitting behind a glass screen while his mother and wife sat on the other side. They spoke through intercom and the entire 40-minute proceedings appeared to have been recorded on video.

Jadhav, who was captured in March last year, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged spying, an accusation that India has dismissed as concocted.

New Delhi says Jadhav was kidnapped in Iran where he had legitimate business interests, and brought to Pakistan. To save Jadhav, India moved the International Court of Justice, which ordered Pakistan in May to stay his execution.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-sends-shoes-of-kulbhushan-jadhavs-wife-for-forensic-testing/articleshow/62266738.cms

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Angry India slams Pakistan for insults heaped on KulbhushanJadhav kin

TNN | Updated: Dec 27, 2017

NEW DELHI: Bristling with anger, India protested on Tuesday against the indignities KulbhushanJadhav's wife and mother were subjected to when they were allowed to visit the former Indian Navy officer in Islamabad.

'There was something in her shoes,' says Pakistan about confiscating footwear of Jadhav's wife

The Indian government disclosed that Islamabad broke an understanding between the two sides and allowed a hostile pack of Pakistani journalists to get close to Jadhav's mother, Avanti, and wife Chetna and "harass and hector them" by hurling "false and motivated" accusations about Jadhav.

Brushing aside Pakistan's claim of humanitarian considerations in allowing Jadhav's wife and mother to meet him, a spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs said the two women were treated with complete disregard to religious and cultural sensitivities, being asked to change clothes and take off their bindis and mangalsutras.

Diplomat who was to go with KulbhushanJadhav kin denied visa

In fact, Jadhav's wife had to leave the Pakistani foreign ministry without her footwear which was not returned to her after the meeting.

The cultural and religious sensibilities of family members were disregarded. This included removal of mangalsutra, bangles and bindis as well as change in attire that was not warranted by security," the spokesperson said, adding, Jadhav's mother was prevented from speaking to him in their mother tongue Marathi despite it being the language she was comfortable in. "She was repeatedly interrupted while doing so and eventually prevented from proceeding further in this regard," the government said.

India's deputy high commissioner J P Singh, who, as per the clear understanding between the two sides, was to be allowed in the meeting, was initially separated from the family members. "The meeting started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with officials concerned. Even then he was kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed," the spokesperson said.

A Pakistan foreign office spokesperson had claimed on Monday that it allowed the meeting because the country, being an Islamic nation, believed in compassion.

India debunked the claim on Tuesday in its formal statement. "We also regret that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned. Family members, however, handled the situation with great courage and fortitude," it said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/angry-india-slams-pakistan-for-insults-heaped-on-kulbhushan-jadhav-kin/articleshow/62259839.cms

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South Asia

Bangladeshi Blogger, Asaduzzaman Noor, Held For Anti-Islamic Facebook Post

26 Dec, 2017

Dhaka: A Bangladeshi blogger accused of posting a message on Facebook allegedly offensive to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad has been arrested by the police.

Immigration authorities detained the writer and youtuber identified as Asaduzzaman Noor alias "Asad Noor" at Dhaka airport while he was trying to leave the country on Monday, Efe news agency cited an airport official as saying.

"He had an open case in Amtoli area in Barguna district under the Information and Communication Technology Act. Today we handed him to a cyber tribunal," said the official.

Barguna police superintendent BijoyBosak confirmed that the case against Noor had been filed in January after the accused published a Facebook message considered blasphemous and since then there has been an arrest warrant pending against him.

Residents of Barguna held demonstrations in January following the publication of the post, according to Amtali police spokesperson Amirul Islam, who said that the accused had been on the run since the beginning of the year.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country, witnessed a spate of Islamist attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting members of religious minorities, foreigners, homosexual activists, thinkers and secular bloggers critical of fundamentalism.

Almost 90 per cent of the 160 million inhabitants of Bangladesh are Muslims, who have traditionally been moderate.

firstpost.com/world/bangladeshi-blogger-held-for-anti-islamic-facebook-post-4276591.html

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CPEC's extension to Afghanistan not directed against India: China

PTI | Dec 27, 2017

BEIJING: China on Wednesday said that its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not directed against India and the project should not be influenced or disturbed by any third country, a day after Beijing offered to extend the $50 billion project to Afghanistan.

At the first trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan here yesterday, China offered to extend CPEC to Afghanistan as the three sides pledged to step-up counter terrorism cooperation and not to allow any country, group or individual to use their soils for terrorism.

Besides Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, his counterparts from Pakistan and Afghanistan Khawaja Asif and Salahuddin Rabbani respectively attended the meeting.

When asked about reports that China's plans to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan sparked concerns in India, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the project extension is not directed at any third country.

She said the project serves the common interests of the three counties.

"This cooperation is not directed at any country and any party. The dialogue and cooperation should not be influenced or disturbed by any country," she said.

Though Hua did not directly name India, she was responding to a question on reports about India's concerns about CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

"We stressed many times, CPEC is not directed at any third party and we hope it can bring benefits for third country," Hua said, referring to India's concerns.

The CPEC, a flagship project of China's prestigious One Belt One Road, links its restive Xinjiang region with Pakistan's Balochistan province.

"It is an economic cooperation programme and it should not be politicised and has nothing to do with territorial dispute," she said, adding that the project will bring the benefit to the third party and the whole region.

"Afghanistan is a common neighbour of China and Pakistan. They have strong desire to develop economy and improve livelihood. They are willing to integrate into the regional connectivity process and willing to integrate into CPEC," she said.

The three sides have agreed to promote connectivity under Belt and Road Initiative framework and follow the principle of starting from easy and smaller projects step by step to identify cooperation projects for common development, she said.

During the trilateral meeting, a consensus has been reached on eight point plan to bring peace between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The consensus included a security mechanism to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation to fight all forms of terrorist organisations and terrorists, she added.

She said Afghanistan and Pakistan will promote the exchanges between their clerics and avoid the spread of religious extremism.

Under the trilateral framework of the dialogue, the countries should follow the principle of mutual benefit and equal consultation, she said.

She said the three sides have agreed to stay committed to the four goals - support Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction and reconciliation peace process, help Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve and develop ties, promote joint security of the region, promote regional connectivity, and BRI.

The three sides reaffirmed their commitment to an Afghan- led and Afghan-owned Afghan peace process. Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to align their development strategies to BRI and actively explore the trilateral cooperation under it.

China and Pakistan have also agreed to provide assistance to Afghanistan in areas such as public health, human resources, and agriculture, Hua added.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/cpecs-extension-to-afghanistan-not-directed-against-india-china/articleshow/62269872.cms

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Gen. Raziq next target of government’s conspiracies, claims Noor

By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed Dec 27 2017

The Chief Executive of Jamiat-e-Islami party Ata Mohammad Noor claims that the government leaders continue to their policy of elimination of key political figures and warned that the next target of the conspiracies of the government leaders is the provincial police chief of Kandahar province General Abdul Raziq.

Speaking to a gathering of the tribal elders and residents of the northenr provinces of the country on Tuesday, Noor claimed that the government will attempt to oust the Kandahar governor Gen. Raziq as part of their conspiracies against the influential figures.

However, he insisted that Gen. Raziq will not be alone and will be supported against the conspiracies, similar as he (Gen. Raziq) supported him against the recent upheavals.

The Afghan government officials have not formally commented regarding the latest claims of Noor so far.

This comes as efforts are underway to introduce the new governor of the northern Balkh province after the presidential office announced the approval of Noor’s resignation from the Balkh government leadership.

Noor admitted that he submitted his resignation but he had several demands before stepping down and none of them has been met by the government while his resignation has been approved.

Speaking during a gathering on Saturday Noor said none one can dismiss him as the governor of Balkh province by issuing a decree, insisting that the political party he is representing is one of the main sides which played a key role in the formation of the government of national unity.

He also harshly criticized Abdullah and blamed him for conspiring against him in the government and attempting to dissolve the Jamiat party as he called him a snake up in one’s own sleeves.

khaama.com/gen-raziq-next-target-of-governments-conspiracies-claims-noor-04136

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Osama shifted to Afghanistan in 2007 to plot assassinations: ISI

By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed Dec 27 2017

The Pakistani military intelligence, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), has claimed that the ex-leader of Al-Qaeda terrorist network Osama bin Laden shifted to Afghanistan in 2007 to plan and coordinate assassinations in Pakistan.

According to the local media reports citing a ISI report, a number of top Pakistani officials including the former President Pervez Musharraf and leader of JamiatUlema-e-Islam FazalMawlanaFazal-ur-Rehman was in the target list of Bin Laden.

“We have received this information that Osama bin Laden has issued the order to kill President Pervez Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto and FazlurRehman. He [Osama bin Laden] has planned to send his courier, who is a national of Pakistan and a resident of Multan, named Musa Tariq, through Waziristan with explosives to be used in executing the murder plots. On coming Sunday — which is Dec 22 — this person will be in the area of Dera Ismail Khan,” according to an official letter carried in a report by The News International newspaper.

The paper also states that the  letter’s last three lines contained quite confidential content, which read: “Osama bin Laden is personally supervising this entire plan and for this reason, he has shifted to Afghanistan.”

The new report has been released ten years after a prominent Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto was assassinated amid reports Musharraf was also involved in the assassination plot.

Bin Laden was killed in an operation of the US Navy Seal forces in May 2011 in abbottabad, a military township located close to Islamabad city.

The killing of Bin Laden had sparked tensions among Islamabad and Washington mainly due to the presence of the world’s top terrorist leader and the circumstances surrounding the operation.

khaama.com/osama-shifted-to-afghanistan-in-2007-to-plot-assassinations-isi-04134

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Afghanistan and India launch air corridor between Kabul and Mumbai cities

By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed Dec 27 2017

The second air corridor between Afghanistan and India was formally inaugurated between Kabul and Mumbai cities by the Afghan and Indian officials.

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony of Kabul-Mumbai air corridor, the deputy chairman of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Khan Jan Alokozai said the new route will help expand the export of the Afghan fresh fruits and other commodities.

The second vice president of Afghanistan Mohammad Sarwar Danish was also present during the inauguration ceremony of the new route.

He said the new route will help the boost the exports of fresh and dry fruits as well as the medicinal herbs.

Danish further added that the Afghan government is hopeful that the other neighboring countries of Afghanistan will also adopt the policy of economic development in their regional strategy.

The air corridor between Afghanistan and India was formally inaugurated by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in mid-June this year with the first consignment arriving in New Delhi, the capital city of India.

In the meantime, the Afghan officials are saying that since the inauguration of the air corridor, commodities worth more than $20 million have been exported to India.

khaama.com/afghanistan-and-india-launch-air-corridor-between-kabul-and-mumbai-cities-04133

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Afghan forces thwart car bombing, coordinated attacks in Jalalabad city

By KHAAMA PRESS - Tue Dec 26 2017

The Afghan national defense and security forces have foiled the militants plan to carry out a series of attacks in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of eastern Nangarhar province.

The provincial government media office in a statement said a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) and eight motorcycles packed with explosives were discovered and defused before the militants manage to use for a series of attacks in Jalalabad city.

The statement further added that the vehicle and the motorcycles were discovered during an operation of the Afghan intelligence operatives conducted in Khogyani district.

According to the governor’s office, at least two Taliban insurgents were also killed during the operation and three suspects were arrested during the operation.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the security situation of the province has started to deteriorate during the recent years.

However, the Afghan security forces have stepped up operations to eliminate the terror groups posing threats to the province.

The US forces based in Afghanistan also carry out airstrikes against the Taliban and ISIS militants in a bid to prevent the insurgents expand their foothold in this province and other parts of the country.

khaama.com/afghan-forces-thwart-car-bombing-coordinated-attacks-in-jalalabad-city-04130

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President Ghani receives report regarding Mirza Olang massacre

By Khaama Press - Wed Dec 27 2017, 10:35 am

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has received a final report regarding the brutal massacre of the civilians in northern Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the report was presented by the Attorney General Mohammad FaridHamidi during a meeting of the Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan Armed Forces chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

The statement further added that the report was reviewed during the meeting and necessary instructions were issued to the relevant authorities.

The Offie of the President did not disclose any further information regarding the report and the government’s future plans to deal with the incident.

This comes as the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a report said late in August “The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released today the initial findings of its human rights fact-finding into the 3 to 5 August attack on Mirza Olang village in Sayyad district of Sari Pul province.”

The report further added that UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State / Daesh fighters killed at least 36 persons, including civilians and person hors de combat, during the attack on Mirza Olang.

According to UNAMA, at least half of the killings took place on Saturday 5 August when Anti-Government Elements stopped families trying to escape the village, separated women and young children, and killed at least 18 people, both civilians and Pro-Government Militia who were hors de combat at the time of their killing.

Others, including one woman, were reportedly shot while they tried to escape from the village, the report added.

khaama.com/president-ghani-receives-report-regarding-mirza-olang-massacre-04132

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Australia

Hardline Australian Muslim sheikh REFUSES to say Merry Christmas to anyone so he doesn't have to explain himself to Allah when he dies

27 December 2017

A fundamentalist Muslim sheikh has declared he refuses to wish anyone a Merry Christmas so he can please Allah and go to heaven.

Jamil El-Biza, from Wollongong south of Sydney, told his thousands of Facebook followers shunning a Christian holy greeting would ensure he went to paradise after death.

'I'd rather be resurrected on the day of judgement, with the fact I made a few hundred million unhappy with me because I refuse to say "Merry Christmas", rather then being brought forward before Allah and having to explain to him why I congratulated a Christian who worships Jesus as lord,' he said on Christmas Day.

The Sunni hardliner, who counts the Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed as a Facebook friend, in September described gay marriage as 'evil' and referred to homosexual men by a derogatory term.

'I see it as a sign of whether the public has openly accepted that f****ts and lesbians have the right to officially claim that they are married,' he told his 3,668 Facebook friends.

His social media circle also includes Hizbut-Tahrir spokesman Hamzah Qureshi and Islamic Friendship Association of Australia founder KeysarTrad.

Mr El-Biza, who is a member of the Australian National Council of Imams, cleared eight years worth of social media posts in September after Daily Mail Australia exposed his comments on gay marriage

Mr El-Biza is affiliated with the Ahlus Sunnah WalJamaah Association, which tells its followers it is sinful for Muslims to participate in non-Islamic events including Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. 

He often accuses critics of Islamist fundamentalism of 'spreading hate' and hoped the late cartoonist Bill Leak would 'never rest in peace' for mocking Islam.

Of Australia's Muslim sheikhs, Mr El-Biza has used the most strident language against homosexuality and even Shiite Muslims, who said in 2013 needed to be 'destroyed'.

Fellow ASWJ fundamentalist preachers include AbdulghaniAlbaf, who has denounced Muslim men for using public urinals, and Mohamad Doar, who told teenage girls they would go to hell for having non-Muslim friends or plucking their eyebrows.

It also includes Islamic teacher Nassim Abdi, who says women should refrain from going to university if it means they have premarital sex.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5213937/Muslim-sheikh-wont-say-Merry-Christmas-Allah.html

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Geelong parking machines vandalised with anti-Islam propaganda

December 26, 2017 6:30pm

A STICKER from a neo-Nazi group who idolise Adolf Hitler has been put up in Geelong’s CBD.

The sticker, which features the Nazi-era Totenkopf symbol and the message “No Islamic Takeover”, appeared on a parking machine on Yarra St Tuesday morning.

It was not immediately clear how long the sticker had been there or if more stickers were placed around Geelong.

It remained in plain view until at least 3pm as Boxing Day shoppers, including children, streamed down Yarra St.

The sticker purports to be the work of Combat 18, an international white supremacist group which derives part of its name from Adolf Hitler’s initials.

The group, also known as Blood and Honour, declares it is committed to “saving the white race” and accuses the media of being controlled by Zionists.

On its Australian website, it states it has a “strict no media policy” and “all requests (for interviews) will be ignored”.

The sticker targeting Muslims comes 18 months after Geelong’s only mosque was destroyed in a suspicious fire.

No one has been charged over the May 2016 incident in Manifold Heights, but police have previously said they believe the arsonist mistook the mosque for a church.

According to figures from the 2016 Census, Muslims make up just one per cent of the City of Greater Geelong’s population.

The number of Muslims in the area stands at 2530 — an increase of 950 since 2011.

The Islamic Society of Geelong, Islamophobia Register Australia and City of Greater Geelong have been contacted for comment.

Similar anti-Islamic stickers were placed in a children’s playground in Melbourne’s northeast in September 2015, while in 2011, “White Power” stickers were plastered around Torquay, sparking a probe from the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Earlier this year, a report from Charles Sturt University found there were 243 verified Islamophobic attacks in Australia during a 14-month period between 2014 and 2015.

Muslim women bared the brunt of 80 per cent of the attacks — which included assaults and verbal abuse — while 75 per cent of the incidents were inflicted by Anglo men.

geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/geelong/geelong-parking-machines-vandalised-with-antiislam-propaganda/news-story/337ec52790ac474a81f882d3f0a318fa

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Neil Prakash tells Turkish court he has no links to Islamic State in Australia

Australian jihadist makes brief appearance in Kilis, Turkey, where he is being held on terrorism-related charges

Wed 27 Dec ‘17 07.10 GMT

Australian documents relating to the extradition trial of Neil Prakash have reportedly arrived at a Turkish court where the Australian jihadist has made a brief appearance.

During his appearance in court in Kilis, Prakash denied having any connection to Islamic State in Australia, Fairfax media reports.

Prakash is accused of being a top Isis recruiter and is being held in Turkey on terrorism-related charges after being arrested trying to cross the border from Syria on false documents in October last year.

Australia has formally sought his extradition but under international protocols, Turkey has the right to deal with him first.

Also known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, Prakash left Australia for Syria via Malaysia in 2013. He has featured in a number of Islamic State propaganda videos calling for attacks on Australia and the United States.

Prakash will remain behind bars until his next hearing on 23 February when a verdict must be reached, Fairfax reports.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment.

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theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/27/neil-prakash-tells-turkish-court-he-has-no-links-to-islamic-state-in-australia

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Europe

Bringing jihad home? 300 British ISIS fighters ‘hiding out in Turkey’

Published time: 27 Dec, 2017 11:58

 British jihadists are on the run, having been driven out of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) strongholds in Syria. Up to 300 of them are hiding out in Turkey, according to a Syrian-Kurdish intelligence officer.

Fighters were sent scrambling into the desert when the then IS-held cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in northern Iraq were retaken this year. At least 300 among them are believed to be British – leading to fears among western intelligence agencies that many are making the journey back to Europe to launch terrorist attacks at home.

A Syrian-Kurdish intelligence officer said that of the 850 Britons who travelled to join IS, around half have returned, some 130 are dead and the remainder unaccounted for. CiwanXhalil said many are likely to be in Turkey.

“The exodus began after Mosul fell and continued after [IS] lost Raqqa. We have lots of French [nationals] in our jails and scores of others but we think most of the British have escaped.”

British security sources said getting from Turkey to the UK unnoticed would be extremely hard for those on their watch list. However, sources said this week these fighters could carry out attacks in Europe.

Police in Britain said they are stopping and questioning returnees from Syria while authorities also deploy covert techniques to track down extremists. US intelligence sources said the CIA and MI6 are coordinating in the hunt for foreign IS fighters.

While only three of the 40 attacks in Europe since 2015 have involved foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, those three incidents led to more than half the total fatalities.

Earlier this year former IS militant Saddam al-Hamadi, 26, was arrested by Turkish security forces. He warned that extremists planned to use the chaos of the fall of Raqqa to travel to Europe.

Talking to ITV while in Turkish custody, Al-Hamadi said: “They will go overseas to launch terrorist attacks in some areas in Europe. They went to Europe after the withdrawal. Before that they thought the Europeans were infidels, non-believers. They will get out, across Turkey and into Europe where they will launch terrorist attacks and other things.”

rt.com/uk/414341-isis-fighters-turkey-terrorism/

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Russia accuses U.S. of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria

December 27, 2017 / 2:55 PM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The chief of the Russian General Staff has accused the United States of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria to try to destabilise the country.

General Valery Gerasimov’s allegations, made in a newspaper interview, centre on a U.S. military base at Tanf, a strategic Syrian highway border crossing with Iraq in the south of the country.

Russia says the U.S. base is illegal and that it and the area around it have become “a black hole” where militants operate unhindered.

Islamic State has this year lost almost all the territory it held in Syria and Iraq. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday the main part of the battle with Islamic State in Syria was over, according to the state-run RIA news agency.

The United States says the Tanf facility is a temporary base used to train partner forces to fight Islamic State. It has rejected similar Russian allegations in the past, saying Washington remains committed to killing off Islamic State and denying it safe havens.

But Gerasimov told the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on Wednesday that the United States was training up fighters who were former Islamic State militants but who now call themselves the New Syrian Army or use other names.

He said Russia satellites and drones had spotted militant brigades at the U.S. base.

“They are in reality being trained there,” Gerasimov said, saying there were also a large number of militants and former Islamic State fighters at Shadadi, where he said there was also a U.S. base.

“They are practically Islamic State,” he said. “But after they are worked with, they change their spots and take on another name. Their task is to destabilise the situation.”

Russia has partially withdrawn from Syria, but Gerasimov said the fact that Moscow was keeping an air base and naval facility there meant it was well placed to deal with pockets of instability if and when they arose.

in.reuters.com/article/southkorea-japan-comfortwomen/japan-says-ties-at-risk-if-south-korea-messes-with-2015-comfort-women-deal-idINKBN1EL0AJ?rpc=401&

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Russia's Lavrov: Main Part of Battle With Islamic State in Syria Is Over - RIA

Dec. 27, 2017, at 4:01 a.m.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday the main part of the battle with Islamic State in Syria was over, according to the state-run RIA news agency.

RIA also quoted Lavrov as saying the key task in Syria now was to "destroy Jabhat al-Nusra," referring to the al Qaeda-linked group known in English as Nusra Front.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Writing by PolinaNikolskaya; editing by John Stonestreet)

usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-12-27/russias-lavrov-main-part-of-battle-with-islamic-state-in-syria-is-over-ria

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SPD wants to toughen anti-Islamic legislation

27 December 2017

Prague, Dec 26 (CTK) - The anti-European and anti-Islamist Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party has presented an amendment to the Penal Code suggesting that support for and promotion of an ideology suppressing the rights and freedoms or proclaiming hatred should be punishable.

At present, only the support for and promotion of such a movement is punishable.

The SPD suggested this last year already, but the Chamber of Deputies did not approve the proposal.

Like at that time, the drafters of the legislation argue with the case of former Prague Muslim community chairman Vladimir Sanka.

Last September, Prague Municipal Court annulled the acquitting verdict given to former Prague Muslim community chairman Vladimir Sanka for spreading a radical Islamic book.

The municipal court returned the case to a lower-level court for reappraisal for formal mistakes and a one-sided assessment of evidence in Sanka's favour. The Prague 1 District Court will have to complete the evidence in a new trial.

The case relates to the Czech edition of The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Muslim militant. In some countries, the book is banned and Philips must not enter several Western countries.

The Czech annual report on extremism said the book promoted the ultra-conservative Salafist version of Islam that preaches intolerance and hatred of other religions.

The drafters of the legislation say that the trial showed a gap in the law.

"This can be interpreted as only punishing the promotion of a specific movement that proclaims the suppression of freedoms, not the ideology itself that constitutes and promotes the hatred for and elimination of human rights," the report on the bill said.

The legislation is first to be reviewed by the government.

The previous government rejected it, arguing that it is unprepared and that it had not been preceded by a debate on the expert level.

praguemonitor.com/2017/12/27/spd-wants-toughen-anti-islamic-legislation

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia Helicopters Attack Kills 30 Civilians in Yemen Village: Residents, Medics

Mohammed Ghobari

27 December 2017

SANAA (Reuters) - Residents and medics said air strikes by helicopters flying from Saudi Arabia killed 30 civilians in a Yemeni village on Sunday, but Saudi authorities dismissed the accounts as “totally false”.

Apache helicopters fired rockets at the village of Bani Zela in Hajjah province, 10 km (6.5 miles) from the Saudi border, killing at least 25 civilians, including women and children, the residents and medics said.

The helicopters returned for a second strike as residents and medical teams were trying to evacuate casualties, killing three medics and two more civilians, they said.

“People were fleeing their homes as the helicopters pursued,” a resident who identified himself as Khaled, told Reuters by telephone. “They committed a massacre for no reason.”

Yemen’s Saba news agency, run by the Houthi group now in control of much of the country and under attack by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states, put the death toll at 28 and said 17 others were injured, some seriously.

“Rescue teams and medics are still working on transfering the casualties to safety,” the agency said, quoting an official in the province.

A Saudi official said the coalition had played no role in any attack in the area.

“This is totally false news. We deny it,” the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters, adding that no coalition helicopters operated so far from the border.

he coalition has been pounding the Iran-allied Houthi group from the air for six months, trying to eject it from the capital Sanaa and restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The campaign has resulted in several mass killings of civilians, including 36 people at a water bottling plant in

August and 25 workers at a milk factory in April.

The target of Sunday’s strikes was unclear, but the border area has recently been the scene of clashes between Yemen’s Houthis and Saudi forces. Last week, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya channel reported that 40 Houthis were killed during an attack on al-Hathera village in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province.

BORDER DEATHS

Sunday’s attack came less than a day after Saudi Arabia announced that a brigadier general died in hospital of wounds suffered in an incident on the border with Yemen.

Ibrahim Omar Ibrahim Hamzi, deputy commander of the 8th brigade in Saudi Arabia’s southern Jizan province, was injured “defending the nation and its citizens,” the statement said, without providing details.

His death follows the killing of two border officers along the frontier on Saturday.

About 100 Saudi military personnel, including another general, have been killed along the border with Yemen since the Saudi-led campaign began in March, according to a Reuters count.

More than 4,500 Yemenis have also died since March, according to U.N. figures.

In the latest fighting, coalition air strikes pounded suspected Houthi targets in the capital around 25 times, residents said, and hit several other central provinces.

Gulf troops and allied Yemeni tribesmen were fighting ground battles against militiamen and their allies in Yemen’s army in the desert province of Marib 120 km (75 miles) east of Sanaa on Sunday.

The two sides exchanged artillery fire in a coalition push for the strategic foothills leading to Sanaa on Saturday, backed by Arab air strikes.

At least 20 bodies from both sides were seen on the battlefield, a local official told Reuters.

Hadi arrived in the southern port city of Aden on Tuesday, a week after his government’s formal return to Yemen from Saudi Arabia after nearly six months in exile.

But he left the country again on Sunday, local officials said, en route to the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. It remains unclear whether he will return again to Yemen or go back to Saudi Arabia.

Reporting by Noah Browning, Mohammed Ghobari, Mohammed Mukhashaf and William Maclean; editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Roche

reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-airstrike/helicopter-attack-kills-30-civilians-in-yemen-village-residents-medics-idUSKCN0RR0IW20150927

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Less than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, coalition says

December 27, 2017 / 4:16 PM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Fewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, the United States-led international coalition fighting the hardline Sunni militant group said on Wednesday, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.

Iraq and Syria have both declared victory over Islamic State in recent weeks, after a year that saw the two countries’ armies, a range of foreign allies and various local forces drive the fighters out of all the towns and villages that once made up their self-proclaimed caliphate.

The United States has led an international coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State since 2014 when the group swept across a third of Iraq. U.S. troops have served as advisers on the ground with Iraqi government forces and with Kurdish and Arab groups in Syria.

“Due to the commitment of the Coalition and the demonstrated competence of our partners in Iraq and Syria, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 ISIS terrorists in our combined joint area of operations, most of whom are being hunted down in the desert regions in eastern Syria and Western Iraq,” the U.S.-led coalition told Reuters in an emailed statement.

ISIS is an acronym used for Islamic State.

The figure excludes areas in western Syria under the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s government and his allies.

Assad’s main ally Russia also said on Wednesday the main battle with Islamic State in Syria was over. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the key task in Syria was now destroying another Islamist group, the Nusra Front.

The U.S.-led coalition had said on Dec. 5 that there were less than 3,000 fighters remaining. Iraq declared “final victory” over the group on Dec. 9.

Most of the fighters had been killed or captured over the past three years, the coalition said on Wednesday. It would not respond to a question on whether some fighters could have escaped to other countries, saying it would not “engage in public speculation” but said it was working on preventing that.

“We can tell you that we are working with our partners to kill or capture all remaining ISIS terrorists, to destroy their network and prevent their resurgence, and also to prevent them from escaping to bordering countries,” it said.

in.reuters.com/article/mideast-crisis-islamic-state/less-than-1000-islamic-state-fighters-remain-in-iraq-and-syria-coalition-says-idINKBN1EL0QA?rpc=401&

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Syrian Military Jet Downed by Militants, Pilot Killed

Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:48

“The military aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Hama after it was shot down by terrorists; the pilot was killed,” the Syrian state-run SANA news agency quoted a source as saying. The plane, identified as a L-39 Albatros jet trainer, was shot down by terrorists' anti-aircraft machineguns, a source within the Syrian opposition told massdar news.

It was not immediately clear which militant group was responsible for the attack, but the so-called Free Idlib Army, an offshoot of the Free Syrian Army, claimed responsibility on social media and in a statement to Turkish Anadolu news agency. Reuters also reported that Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board), an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, had also claimed responsibility.

A video later emerged, purportedly showing the aircraft pilot’s dead body lying in the back of a truck, with blood around his neck. The footage appears to show a body surrounded by a group of armed men, who are described in the Telegram channel Directorate 4 as members of Jeish al-Nukhba, a militant group based in Idlib and Hama.

The identity of the pilot has not been officially confirmed, but Directorate 4, which monitors rebel activity in Syria, named the slain pilot as Basim Hasan, a native of he city of Homs.

A second pilot may also have been in the aircraft, although his fate is still unknown, Reuters reported.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000322

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Syrian Army Repels Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Northern Homs

Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:13

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with terrorists deployed in al-Houla and repelled their attack on army positions in the village of Marimein in Northern Homs, inflicting major damage on their equipment and vehicles.

Also, the army's artillery and missile units pounded movements and positions of terrorists in al-Houla.

In the meantime, the army's mortar and artillery units opened heavy fire at terrorists' gathering centers in HawshHajwa region and the Eastern outskirts of the town of Talbiseh after the terrorists violated the ceasefire and their mortar units shelled army positions in Northern Homs.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army men clashed with the terrorists that attacked pro-government forces' positions in the village of Jabourin from the village of al-Mashrou'a in Northern Homs and managed to fend off their attack after killing a number of them.

In the meantime, heavy fighting is underway between the army soldiers and ISIL in Humeimeh and al-Mo'ayzileh in Southeastern Homs. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006001025

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Airstrikes Destroy Al Nusra Targets in Hama Province

Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:35

he military source said that the warplanes launched several airstrikes above the Al-Nusra's strongholds in al-Hamra and al-Sa'an regions in Eastern and Northeastern Hama.

The army also hit hard the military positions of the terrorists in other key provinces across Syria.

Hama

The Syrian Air Force carried out a number of combat flights over the positions of Al-Nusra Front in Northeastern Hama, killing tens of terrorists and wounding many others, field sources confirmed on Tuesday.

The sources said that the warplanes pounded vastly Al-Nusra's strongholds in al-Hamra and al-Sa'an regions in Eastern and Northeastern Hama, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The sources went on to say that several positions and military vehicles of Al-Nusra were destroyed in the air raids in the villages of Malvalah, al-Mosheirefeh, Abu Dali, al-Toweibiyeh and Rajm al-Mosharaf.

In the meantime, a large number of Al-Nusra fighters were killed or wounded in the repeated attacks of the army aircraft in the villages and towns of al-Shakousiyeh, al-Rahjan, Um Mayal and Bayouz in Hama province.

Well-informed sources said on Monday that the army set up a new unit of ISIL Hunters, elite forces of the army, in Northwestern Hama to join the pro-government forces' operation against terrorists in the province.

The sources said that the army managed to establish a new unit of ISIL Hunters in the town of al-Saqilebiyeh in Northwestern Hama after the ISIL Hunters attained significant achievements in war on terrorism in the country.

The sources further said that al-Saqilebiyeh is home to one of the largest units of the National Defense Forces (NDF).

Meantime, field sources said on Tuesday that the Syrian Army sent more soldiers and military hardware to Hama in a bid to reinvigorate the government troops before launching its imminent assault in Idlib province.

The sources said that a large number of fresh soldiers and a large volume of military equipment were dispatched by the army to Northern Hama on Monday afternoon.

The sources further said that the fresh forces were previously in Wadi region near the Euphrates River in DeirEzzur province, adding that the army has dispatched a large number of troops from DeirEzzur to Hama, but, some Tiger Force units are still waiting for the commanders' order to move to Hama.

The Tiger Force has sent almost a half of its troops from DeirEzzur to Northern Hama.

Idlib

Well-informed sources confirmed on Tuesday that the Syrian Army troops and popular forces are soon to launch a massive attack on the terrorists in Idlib province after the unprecedented army artillery and missile fire at terrorists' positions in the last two days.

The sources said that the army has deployed a large number of forces and a large volume of equipment in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib, adding that the ground troops are waiting for the final order to storm the strongholds of Al-Nusra Front in the Northwestern province of Idlib.

The sources added that the artillery and missile units have launched an unprecedented shelling of the Al-Nusra positions and movements in Northeastern Hama and Southern Idlib to pin down the terrorists behind their positions.

In the meantime, army officers said that their soldiers are standing at the height of preparedness for the start of a large-scale operation against the Al-Nusra in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

The source further said that the Syrian Air Force has been carrying out a large number of sorties over the Al-Nusra positions in Northern Hama up to Saraqib region in Eastern Idlib.

He added that the army's Special Forces are now well-prepared for storming the enemy positions from different flanks, decreasing the Al-Nusra' military movements in the region as much as possible. 

Damascus

An Arab media outlet reported on Tuesday that the Al-Nusra Front has agreed the Syrian Army's terms for leaving Southwestern Damascus for Idlib along with their family members in the next 48 hours amid the rapid advances of the government forces.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported that the Al-Nusra has accepted the entire terms and conditions of the army for evacuating Southwestern Damascus in the next 48 hours and called on the army to halt military operations after the army captured al-Kanayat region North of Harfa and Tal (hill) Amer and advanced further towards Sariyeh Aziz and Rajm al-Qanas.

The daily further said that the first group of terrorists would leave the region on Tuesday, adding that the remaining pockets of the terrorists who do not intend to leave Southwestern Damascus will receive government amnesty after surrendering their arms and applying for pardoning.

In the meantime, a source in the Reconciliation Committee said that based on the agreement the Al-Nusra militants and their family members are to leave the region for Idlib province in Northwestern Syria and the entire villages in Jabal al-Sheikh region will be delivered to the army and local security forcers.

Field sources, meantime, reported that a number of commanders of Al-Nusra have escaped the battlefield in Southwestern Damascus and moved towards the borders with Lebanon and Shab'aa and some of them moved towards Israeli monitoring posts in the occupied Golan Heights following the army advances in the region.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000462

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Large Military Planes Transfer More Syrian, Russian Soldiers, Equipment to Hama

Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:11

The sources said that at least eights large Ilyushin cargo planes took off from DeirEzzur airbase carrying more Syrian and Russian troops and military hardware and landed in a base in Hama in line with the government forces' preparedness to kick off an imminent operation to hit the positions of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Idlib province and capture Abu al-Dhohour airbase.

Relevant reports said earlier today that the army soldiers stormed Al-Nusra positions in Northeastern Hama and imposed control over Ra'as al-Ein hill Northeast of the village of Khneifes and the village of Qabibat Abu al-Hoda North of al-Khneifes.

Also, other units of the army hit Al-Nusra's positions in al-Mosheirefeh, Abu Dali regions, Tal (hill) Al-Moqata'a, Tal al-Tawil and Tal Awvad and imposed major losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the Syrian Air Force pounded terrorists' strongholds in the towns of Atshan, Abu Dali and al-Tamanna in Northern Hama, killing a number of Al-Nusra fighters and destroying their positions.

The army men are advancing towards Abu al-Dhohour airbase in SoutheasternIdlib from Eastern and Northeastern Hama and Southeastern Aleppo. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000992

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Syrian Army Gives 3-Day Ultimatum to Terrorists to Surrender

Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:34

The Reuters quoted Ebrahim al-Jabawi, a commander of the Free Syrian Army, as saying that the government army has given only 72 hours to the terrorists near the borders with Israel to surrender to the government forces to be relocated to Idlib province, adding that those gunmen who do not intent to leave the region should lay down their arms and apply for amnesty.

Another source close to terrorist groups said that they have been told to surrender otherwise they will be faced the army's military operation.

The army has laid complete siege on terrorists' positions after capturing strategic hills and farms near Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir regions.   

A field source reported earlier today that the army troops' imposed heavy defeats on Al-Nusra Front in Southwestern Damascus, causing the terrorists to surrender to the government forces.

The source said that over 250 terrorists were killed or wounded in the army advances in Southwestern Damascus, adding that the Al-Nusra was forced to accept the army's terms and conditions to leave the region for Idlib and Dara'a after the government forces managed to take control over hills and heights overlooking Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir region and separate the two regions completely.

The source further said that 110 terrorists, including 10 commanders, were killed and 160 more militants were injured in the army advances, adding that a number of the injured militants are under treatment in Israeli hospitals.

The sources said that with army's control over Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir, terrorists have been purged of the entire Western Ghouta, including Jabal al-Sheikh region, Darayya, al-Mo'adhamiyeh, Khan al-Sheih, al-Darkhabiyeh, Syria's Golan Heights and the borders with Israel, al-Haramounmountains and from there to al-Qalamoun mountain

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000960

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ISIL Terrorists Hidden in US-Backed Militants' Camp in Southern Syria

Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:32

"According to our intelligence, a group of the New Syrian Army militants formed of the fugitive members of ISIL have arrived at al-Rukban camp in Southeastern Homs. In the meantime, refugees in the camp are forced to join the newly-formed army," the Arabic-language website of the Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, quoted Adel as saying.

Adel further told Sputnik that a number of non-Syrian terrorists are in al-Rukban camp too.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday anti-terrorist missions should not be used to topple governments, adding that Moscow has been concerned by recent reports of the US training former terrorists in Syria.

"Attempts to profit from anti-terrorist objectives – which should be common, unified and without double standards – are disturbing,” Lavrov told RT.

These objectives should not be used to promote one’s own agenda, including “changing unwanted regimes,” he stressed.

Speaking of Russia-US talks on military de-escalation in Syria, Lavrov underlined that he has “mixed feelings” about his Western counterpart’s commitment to the Syrian peace process.

 “(Secretary of State) Rex Tillerson used to tell me that the main goal of the US in Syria is defeating ISIL but now it is getting vaguer and vaguer,” the minister said.

Instead, the forces are now said to stay in Syria until the start of the political process or, as some US officials claim, the process that involves the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

As Lavrov put it, “the information claiming that some US military bases in Syria have started to train militants, including former members of terrorist groups, is of course quite concerning.”

Earlier in December, Russia’s Reconciliation Center for Syria released a statement accusing the US-led coalition of creating the so-called ‘New Syrian Army.’ The group allegedly comprises remnants of ISIL, the Al-Nusra Front and other militants, and is based at a refugee camp in Northeast Syria. Local refugees, returning to areas freed from ISIL, say the refugee camp has been used by the coalition as a training ground for militants for at least the past six months.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000849

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Senior Terrorist Commander Killed in Gov't Forces' Attack in Northern Syria

Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:12

The Arabic-language website of RT reported that Liwa al-Quds forces affiliated to the Syrian Army fired a guided missile at the vehicle of Al-Nusra commander in al-Lairamoun region in Northern Aleppo, killing the commander and two of his comrades on the spot.

The Arabic RT further said that another Al-Nusra member was injured in the attack that was transferred to Turkish hospitals.  

Field sources said on Tuesday that the army men fought Al-Nusra back from their positions along a road connecting the town of Khan Touman to the Warehouses in the region.

The sources said that the army soldiers, backed up by the artillery and missile units, fended off the attack and killed 30 terrorists, destroying 8 vehicles and a large volume of military hardware.

The remaining pockets of Al-Nusra left behind their dead comrades and their equipment and retreated under the heavy fire of army units.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000717

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Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorists in Hama Province

Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:19

The army soldiers stormed Al-Nusra positions in Northeastern Hama and imposed control over Ra'as al-Ein hill Northeast of the village of Khneifes and the village of Qabibat Abu al-Hoda North of al-Khneifes.

Also, other units of the army hit Al-Nusra's positions in al-Mosheirefeh, Abu Dali regions, Tal (hill) Al-Moqata'a, Tal al-Tawil and Tal Awvad and imposed major losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the Syrian Air Force pounded terrorists' strongholds in the towns of Atsahn, Abu Dali and al-Tamanna in Northern Hama, killing a number of Al-Nusra fighters and destroying their positions.

The army men are advancing towards Abu al-Dhohour airbase in SoutheasternIdlib from Eastern and Northeastern Hama and Southeastern Aleppo. 

Field sources said on Tuesday that Head of Al-Nusra-affiliated Eba news website Abu HamzahHomawi was killed in the air assault on one of the command centers of Al-Nusra in Northern Hama.

The sources further added that al-Homawi's aide was also badly injured in the raid.

In the meantime, other sources reported that Al-Nusra, in a statement, has threatened its forces that have escaped the battlefield of arrest and persecution.

The Al-Nusra ordered the group's commanders to give only three days to the fugitive members to return to their units in the battlefields.

Also, the Saudi Mufti (religious leader) of Al-Nusra Abdullah al-Muhaysini disclosed that the group's fighters in Northeastern Hama and SoutheasternIdlib are in very bad shape after the recent advances of the Syrian Army troops in the provinces.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000651

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Pakistan

'Rogue elements' from establishment may have been involved in Benazir's murder: Musharraf

Dawn.comUpdated December 27, 2017

Former president Pervez Musharraf said that during his reign there may have been elements within the establishment that conspired with the Taliban to murder former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, BBC reported.

When asked by the BBC on Bhutto's 10th death anniversary if rogue elements within the establishment could have been in touch with the Taliban about the killing, the former military ruler responded: "Possibility. Yes, indeed. Because the society is polarised on religious lines."

Adding that his assessment was a hunch rather than solid proof, he said: "I don't have any facts available. But my assessment is very accurate I think... A lady who is known to be inclined towards the West is seen suspiciously by those elements."

But there are some who continue to strongly believe Musharraf himself was directly involved in what transpired on December 27, 2007, when a 15-year-old from South Waziristan shot Bhutto at Liaquatbagh before blowing himself up.

Journalists Mark Siegel and Ron Suskind have repeatedly claimed that months before her assassination, Bhutto was telephoned by Musharraf who told her not to return to Pakistan.

"He [Musharraf] said that her safety, her security (or lack thereof) was a function of her relationship with him," said Siegel.

Immediately after the call, Bhutto said: "He threatened me. He told me not to come back. He warned me not to come back," according to Siegel, who added that Musharraf had said he would not be responsible for what happened to her if she returned.

According to the BBC report, Musharraf strongly denied making the call and dismissed the idea that he would have ordered her murder. "Honestly I laugh at it. Why would I kill her?"

Bhutto's son, Bilawal, who has since succeeded his mother as PPP chairman, agrees with Siegel and Suskind's assessment.

"Musharraf exploited this entire situation to assassinate my mother," says the younger Bhutto.

"He purposely sabotaged her security so that she would be assassinated and taken off the scene."

An anti-terrorism court in August this year declared Musharraf an absconder and also directed authorities to seize Musharraf's properties and issue perpetual arrest warrants for the former dictator.

A joint investigation team implicated Musharraf in the case, saying that his government did not provide adequate security to the former prime minister despite her repeated requests.

Apart from Musharraf, five other men — BaitullahMehsud, Ahmad Gul, Iqramullah, Abdullah, and Faizullah — were also declared absconders.

The ATC in its detailed order had ruled that Benazir's murder could have been prevented with appropriate security measures.

dawn.com/news/1379147/rogue-elements-from-establishment-may-have-been-involved-in-benazirs-murder-musharraf

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Bilawal recalls mother's legacy, accuses Musharraf of 'murder'

Dawn.comDecember 27, 2017

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto on Wednesday branded former president Pervez Musharraf as the 'killer' of his slain mother. He made the accusation during an address to a large crowd of PPP supporters in GarhiKhudaBux, who were gathered to commemorate Benazir Bhutto's 10th death anniversary.

Reiterating that he holds the man who pulled her security rather than the man who pulled the trigger responsible for Benazir's death, Bilawalraised the "Murderer, murderer; Musharraf's a murderer!" slogan in front of the charged crowd.

Earlier, he had told his supporters that Benazir had been punished for propagating democracy and for her deep love for the people.

"My leader [Benazir], you were punished for fighting against dictatorship and presenting Islam's peaceful face to the world," Bilawal said. "You were punished for fighting for women and speaking for the oppressed. You were punished for loving the people."

Bilawal claimed that despite their rivals' best efforts to spoil her good work, the present-day PPP is working hard to continue her legacy.

"The 1973 Constitution, whose face was distorted by dictators, we've restored it to its original form. You used to be upset at poverty, so we started the Benazir Income Support Programme. We also allotted state land to poor farmers. We have built heart, kidney and liver hospitals everywhere, and treatment there is free of cost. You cared about the environment so we also started wind energy plants in Sindh. We've built dams to store water."

Bilawal also accused the incumbent government of undoing Benazir's legacy, saying: "They've weakened the democracy and parliament. Small provinces are being isolated from the federal government. This is a killer government."

He also attached some blame of his mother's unresolved murder case on the judiciary, saying: "The judiciary for whom you [Benazir] struggled, the same judiciary hasn't given us, you, the victims of terror and missing persons any justice."

"O custodians of justice, please give justice to someone," he said.

Earlier, former president and party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari warned his rivals that even though he tries not to indulge in the politics of vengeance, he too has his limits.

"There is a conspiracy still going on," he claimed. "The conspiracy is still hatching new eggs — but our philosophy teaches patience. We have been patient, but I warn our rivals: don't push us to our limits.You have always back-stabbed us but we will not side with you this time. We will win the elections this time. I will not forgive them. I will defeat them from Kashmir to Gilgit-Baltistan."

dawn.com/news/1379154/bilawal-recalls-mothers-legacy-accuses-musharraf-of-murder

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I failed to reform the provincial education sector, says Sindh education minister

December 27, 2017

Sindh Education Minister Jam Mehtab on Wednesday confessed that the provincial government was unsuccessful in achieving the goals that it had set for itself in the education sector.

"I'll be honest: I could not bring about the reforms I wanted to introduce in the province's education sector," Mehtab said in an interview with DawnNews.

He insisted that the government had not, however, failed completely and had managed to improve the standard of education in the province. To expect immediate results, however, is "not possible", he said.

Mehtab said that the government is now focused on recruiting highly qualified teachers for science, mathematics, computer studies and English language to "improve quality education" in the province.

"There is a dearth [of qualified teachers]," he said, adding that the government will soon recruit 5,000 teachers.

The condition of education in Sindh is deplorable according to a recent report released by the education campaigners AlifAilaan titled Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017.

In the list of education scores, Karachi West was the highest ranked district in the province at number 14.

The province ranked at number seven in the educational scores for provinces, leaving only the Federally Administered Tribal Areas behind.

According to the Academy of Educational Planning and Management, the total number of primary schools in Sindh have fallen from 44,522 according to data from 2012-13, to 38,132 according to the most recent data from 2016-17.

dawn.com/news/1379142/i-failed-to-reform-the-provincial-education-sector-says-sindh-education-minister

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Pak summons Indian diplomat over soldiers' killing along LoC

PTI | Dec 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today summoned India's acting deputy high commissioner to protest "unprovoked" firing by the Indian Army that killed its three soldiers along the LoC.

The Foreign Office in a statement rejected reports that the Indian Army commandos crossed the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and smashed a post.

"The false claims by India about the alleged cross LoC adventures are a figment of their imagination and counter-productive for peace and tranquility on the LoC," it said.

"The Indian actions got a befitting response from the Pakistani side and their guns were silenced," it claimed.

The Foreign Office spokesman said Director General (SA & SAARC) Mohammad Faisal summoned India's acting deputy high commissioner and "condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations" by Indian forces in the Rakhchikri sector.

He claimed that the firing "provided a cover for the planting of IEDs by non-state actors", resulting in the death of three soldiers.

Faisal urged the Indian side to "respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC."

The Indian Army sources in New Delhi earlier said a "small group" of 'Ghatak' commandos carried out a tactical level selective targeting of the Pakistani post around 200-300 metres across the LoC last evening in which three Pakistani soldiers were killed and one was injured.

The operation is seen as avenging the killing of four Indian Army personnel by a Border Action Team of the Pakistan Army in Keri sector Rajouri district three days ago.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-summons-indian-diplomat-over-soldiers-killing-along-loc/articleshow/62256608.cms

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Mideast

Qatar Islamic Bank implements Face ID for mobile app

Wednesday 27 December 2017 | 11:02 AM CET

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has integrated facial recognition functionality, Face ID, in its iOS and Android mobile app.

Using the biometric authentication option, QIB customers can login to their mobile banking app to manage their accounts, make payments and money transfers, control on their cards, request a cheque book, or open a new deposit account, among other banking transactions.

The Face ID technology is compatible across all Apple and Android mobile devices that have front cameras. According to the latest reports, the next generation of smartphones will use face recognition feature. The introduction of facial recognition feature on QIB Mobile App is said to pave the way to more features like as voice recognition and many others.

The app can be downloaded from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The registration is available to all QIB Individual customers with an active ATM Card and PIN.

thepaypers.com/online-mobile-banking/qatar-islamic-bank-implements-face-id-for-mobile-app/771346-12?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thepaypers%2FcfKW+%28The+Paypers+Headlines%29

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Muslim community feed the homeless on Christmas Day

Riley Krause

While many were sitting at home on Christmas Day, tucking in to a good turkey or two, not everybody was that fortunate.

Some were just looking to find that next meal as they dealt with being homeless.

That is when the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association from Wimbledon Park stepped in.

Members of the group went out on Christmas Day to feed the homeless outside Zimbabwe House London.

Muhammad Ahmad, the regional youth coordinator, said: ''Young Ahmadi Muslims took time out of their day to try and make a difference to the lives of so many people who are homeless.

"The youth had themselves been making preparation for the food included chicken curry, chicken jalfrezi, pasta, rice and also had fruits and cake.

"This was a great opportunity for us to fulfil our Islamic duty of serving the needy and to follow in the examples of the Prophet Muhammad.”

yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/wimbledonnews/15793968.Wimbledon_Park__39_s_Muslim_community___39_fulfil_Islamic_duty__39__as_they_feed_the_homeless_on_Christmas_Day/

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Turkey Sends New Group of Soldiers to Qatar

wed Dec 27, 2017 1:12

The group reached the Al-Udeid Air Base in Southern Doha, Qatar’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, Yenisafak reported.

The soldiers will join another group which previously arrived at Tariq bin Ziyad military base in the Persian Gulf state.

The move comes as part of a 2014 defense agreement between Doha and Ankara under which Turkey established a base in Qatar at the request of its government.

In April 2016, the two countries concluded a military deal which would see Turkish troops deployed to a military base in the Persian Gulf state.

The first group arrived in Qatar in June and conducted their first drill at Tariq bin Ziyad military base.

With this new group, the countries will have more military drills aimed at strengthening the defense capabilities of both countries.

Turkey has sided with Qatar since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha in June, accusing the kingdom of sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the region.

The four countries have also imposed a series of economic sanctions against Doha while barring Qatari aircraft from using their airspace.

Doha has rejected the claims while maintaining that it is paying the price for its independent foreign policy.

There has been almost no sign that Qatari authorities would bow to the demands of Saudi Arabia and its allies to restore diplomatic ties.

Among the conditions put forward for a full normalization of ties is the need for Qatar to downgrade its relations with Iran and expel foreign troops, including those from Turkey, from military bases in the country.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961006000897

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Iran police taking softer line on Islamic codes: chief

 Published: 11:32 GMT, 27 December 2017

Iranian police are taking a softer approach to breaches of Islamic rules, opting for education over punishment, Tehran's police chief said on Wednesday.

"According to a decision of the commander of the police force, those who do not observe Islamic codes will no longer be taken to detention centres nor judicial files opened on them," Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi said in a speech in the Iranian capital.

"We offer courses and 7,913 people have been educated in these classes so far," he said, adding that there were more than 100 counselling centres in Tehran province.

Rahimi, who was appointed in August, did not elaborate on which Islamic codes were in question or when the new guidelines were introduced.

It marks a stark shift from his predecessor, General Hossein Sajedinia, who announced in April 2016 that there were 7,000 undercover morality police reporting on things like "bad hijab" -- a blanket term usually referring to un-Islamic dress by women.

Figures are rarely given, but Tehran's traffic police said in late 2015 they had dealt with 40,000 cases of bad hijab in cars, where women often let their headscarves drop around their necks.

These cases generally led to fines and temporary impounding of the vehicle, the spokesman said at the time.

Mandatory headscarves have been key symbol of Iran's Islamic rule since the revolution of 1979, fiercely defended by hardliners but ever harder to enforce, particularly in wealthier areas where loose and colourful scarves have become the norm.

President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in 2013 promising a more moderate stance, has said it is not the job of police to enforce religious rules.

"It is not the police's duty to enforce Islam. No police officer can say I did something because God or the Prophet have said so... Many religious issues are a matter of personal faith," he told a police conference in 2015.

Although his comments attracted criticism from conservative clerics and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, there has been a generally softer approach on the streets, with far fewer reports of morality police accosting women.

dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5214965/Iran-police-taking-softer-line-Islamic-codes-chief.html

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Africa

Islamic delegation to head to Coptic Church for Christmas

Egypt Today staff | Wed, Dec. 27, 2017

CAIRO – 27 December 2017: Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim said that an Islamic delegation headed by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb will extend their greetings to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria on Wednesday.

The delegation will head to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbassia to offer their greetings as Egypt celebrates Christmas.

The delegation includes Egypt’s Grand Mufti ShawkiAllam, Minister of Awqaf (endowments) Mokhtar Gomaa and a number of Al-Azhar scholars.

This is an Egyptian tradition where all religious institutions greet each other in their celebrations.

Masses are often attended by public figures, diplomats, executives, as well as religious and security officials. During the celebrations time, cars are not allowed to park in the areas surrounding churches, and inspection gates are installed at churches' entrances.

During Christmas masses, Egyptian priests always include Egypt and Egyptians in their prayers, wishing them prosperity, security and safety.

Although the majority of Egyptian Christians are Orthodox, and thus celebrate on January 7, there are many Christian citizens in Egypt who celebrate Christmas on December 24, holding masses in the Catholic churches on December 24, 25.

egypttoday.com/Article/1/38523/Islamic-delegation-to-head-to-Coptic-Church-for-Christmas

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Nigeria may die – Muslim students warn leaders

Published on December 27, 2017

The Amir (President) of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN, in Lagos, Dr.SaheedAshafa, has lambasted Nigerian leaders.

He spoke at the formal opening of the 104th Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) organised by the MSSN, Lagos State Area Unit at the Human Capital Development Centre, Epe.

Ashafa lamented that office holders were not running the affairs of the country in ways and manners that would make it grow at a desirable rate.

He explained that the theme of the camping activities, ‘In the shade of the Qur’an’, was chosen to reflect the need for Nigeria’s system of governance to follow what Allah prescribed.

He said, “This nation will die because of the way those at the helms of affairs are running it. It is under a shade that cannot guarantee success, a shade that makes it vulnerable to attack.

“We cannot sustain this nation with the excessive insincerity, gross deceit, inestimable greed and lack of transparency and accountability among the ruling class.

“If both the leaders and followers do not submit ourselves to the Shade of the Qu’ran, we will continue to run from one problem to the other.

“Corruption will continue to take new dimensions; just as it has moved from being covered with an umbrella to being swept under the carpet.

“Our problems will not leave us without a concerted effort to be guided by the Book of Allah, where all humans are treated equally. No hijab victimisation, no religious sentiment, no gender bias and no tribal discrimination.

“For Nigeria to develop, our system of governance must follow that prescribed by Allah.

“We can neither stop suffering from the effects of recession nor vulnerable economy, and our policies will not beget favourable outcomes if we do not stop operating an economy that survives on interest”.

dailypost.ng/2017/12/27/nigeria-may-die-muslim-students-warn-leaders/

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia to launch world’s first digital framework for Islamic economy in 2018

December 26 2017 08:42 PM

Customers watch a styling session at the FashionValet store in Kuala Lumpur (file). Halal certification will be part of Malaysia’s digital framework to ensure Shariah compliance and authenticity of halal products and services, which can comprise all segments of the Islamic economy, including Islamic finance, halal food, halal tourism, halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and halal fashion.

Malaysia, home of the world’s largest Islamic finance industry, is taking the idea of creating a comprehensive Islamic economy a step further and announced it will launch a debut “Islamic Digital Economy Framework” by March next year as a growth backbone for its entire halal industry.

The idea of the framework is to provide a digital platform for cooperation in areas such funding and financing of Islamic business endeavours, halal and Shariah compliance, Islamic digital economy regulations and, generally, the incubation of halal business operations, Including Islamic banking and finance. The framework is designed to attract investors and venture capital to fund halal businesses and to conduct their transactions and investments in compliance with Shariah laws and regulations. The initiative is new in the sense that Malaysia currently has only formulated a framework for conventional startup funding and venture capital deals.

The driving force behind the Islamic digital initiative is the Malaysian Digital Economy Corp, or MDEC, a government-backed entity which is seeking to create a growth ecosystem for the Islamic economy in Malaysia in accordance with the government’s national strategy to tap the potential of both the Islamic and the digital economy. MDEC is cooperating with JabatanKemajuan Islam Malaysia (the government’s Department of Islamic Development) and Hall AmanieSdnBhd, an independent Shariah advisory firm, to set up the framework.

“The development of a strong Islamic digital economy in Malaysia will give the country a global competitive advantage,” Norhizam Abdul Kadir, vice president of Growth Ecosystem Development at MDEC, told media at the presentation of the framework in Kuala Lumpur on December 19.

He added that Malaysia strives for becoming the most relevant regional and global Islamic digital marketplace, given its already large and solid halal economy backed by a strong Islamic finance industry. The framework also aims at attracting startups from all over the world to come to Malaysia and find a fertile ecosystem to develop solutions for the halal industry out of Malaysia to serve the global market.

According to Kadir, the implementation of the Islamic Digital Economy Framework will help increase the GDP share of Malaysia’s digital economy to 20% by 2020 from currently 18.2%. The framework will be supported by Malaysia’s central bank Bank Negara Malaysia, the Securities Commissions of Malaysia and several other government agencies. This should bring confidence for Islamic entrepreneurs and startups in terms of ensuring that the funds they are raising come from Shariah-compliant sources and investors and not from conventional ones, and that venture capitalists are in fact committed to support the halal economy.

An important point is that halal certification will be part of the framework as an element to ensure Shariah compliance and authenticity of halal products and services, which can comprise all segments of the Islamic economy, including Islamic finance, halal food, halal tourism, halal pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, halal clothing and fashion, halal media and recreation, Islamic economy education, Islamic art and design, as well as completely new concepts such as smart mosques and ritual cyberspaces for Muslims.

According to MDEC’s Kadir, three venture capital firms have already registered interest to partake in the framework and look for opportunities to support innovative ideas. The firms are Kuala Lumpur-based Captii Ventures, a multi-stage venture capital investor in online marketplaces, media and digital enterprises across Southeast Asia; Singapore-based Quest Ventures, which invests in Internet-related technology startups, as well as Jakarta-based Ethis Ventures, which invests in and supports Islamic crowd funding platforms.

Analysts, naturally, see huge opportunities in the Islamic digital economy. According to research from Thomson Reuters, Muslim consumers worldwide are expected to contribute $277bn to the global digital economy by 2020 through channels such as websites and mobile platforms, including for online banking, investment advisory, banking and wealth management products, online shopping, media and entertainment, online skills training, travel booking, ride-hailing and other segments of the sharing economy.

Consultancy Deloitte, in a study on the potential of the Islamic digital economy, also stated that with over 1.7bn Muslims around the world, an Islamic economy that is expected to reach $4tn by 2020, as well as technology readiness for potentially 30% to 40% of the Muslim population, there is great potential for the emerging digital Islamic economy. The study added that Islamic finance, Islamic media, halal travel, halal fashion and halal food would stand out as the most attractive industry verticals within the Islamic digital services world and would have the greatest online market potential.

In Islamic finance, micro-financing, co-investment platforms and online investment advisory are currently amongst the most prevalent services, whereas there are still large gaps in online incubation funds and start-up financing, including Islamic crowd funding, the study found, a void that Malaysia’s new Islamic Digital Economy Framework is designed to quickly and sustainably fill for its own economy and give a good example for other governments in Muslim jurisdictions seeking innovative inputs for their economies.

gulf-times.com/story/576070/Malaysia-to-launch-world-s-first-digital-framework

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44 Muslim Ngo Urge Police, McmcTo Act Against Steadyaku47 Blog

Last update: 27/12/2017

SHAH ALAM, Dec 27 (Bernama) -- As many as 44 Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) non-governmental organisations today urged the Royal Malaysia Police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to take stern action against the writer of the "steadyaku47' blog who allegedly criticised and slandered the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

Among these NGOs were PersatuanWadahPencerdasanUmat Malaysia (Wadah), Persatuan Ahli Falak Selangor, Momogun Muslim Malaysia, Muslim Care Malaysia Society, PersatuanJaringan Islam Global Masa Depan, PersatuanHalaqah Al-Quran Selangor, and PersatuanBelia Masjid Selangor.

Spokesman for the group, Nik MohdYusoff Nik Ismail said the criticisms made by the writer Hussein Abdul Hamid in his article titled "WTF does this Idris of Selangor think he is doing' which was published on Dec 13 were made in an uncivilised manner.

He said although the writer of the blog was believed to be operating from Australia, this does not mean the police cannot investigate him and work with Interpol to track him down and take appropriate action.

"The position of the institution of the Malay rulers must be respected by everyone as embedded in the Federal Constitution. The accusations made by the blogger "steadyaku47' about Sultan Sharafuddin are also defamatory...

bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1422753

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Azerbaijan – a unique country contributing to interfaith dialogue, Islamic solidarity

27 December 2017 13:38 (UTC+04:00)

Azerbaijan is a unique country in terms of its contributions to interfaith dialogue and Islamic solidarity, said Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations MubarizGurbanli.

He made the remarks at a conference titled “Freedom of Speech and Religious Communities” in Baku Dec. 27.

There are cases of abuse of religion in today’s world, he noted, adding that there is a great need for interfaith dialogue and solidarity within the Islamic world to prevent such incidents.

Gurbanli added that Azerbaijan is making a great contribution to interfaith dialogue and Islamic solidarity.

en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/2841109.html

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Indonesian bakery reignites debate over Xmas greeting

From the NewspaperUpdated December 27, 2017

JAKARTA: A bakery in Indonesia receives mixed reactions over its decision not to receive orders wishing Merry Christmas.

The annual debate over whether Muslims can say “Merry Christmas” to their Christian friends took a new turn on Sunday after a Makassar-based bakery refused a customer’s request to write “Selamathari Natal keluargaku” (Merry Christmas, my family) on top of a cake she had ordered.

Indonesian netizens, whether Muslim or Christian, are sharply divided over the company’s decision. If a Muslim believes that their faith prohibits them from saying “Merry Christmas” on the grounds it is akin to confirming the beliefs of Christians (an argument that has been widely refuted by top ulema), would they be considered intolerant if they denied a request of writing it on a cake?

The bakery, Chocolicious Indonesia, believes that it did nothing wrong, saying the policy should by no means be interpreted as an act of intolerance.

“With all due respect and humility, first of all, we would like to offer our deepest regrets. We from Chocolicious Indonesia are not yet able to write ‘Merry Christmas’ or other similar expressions,” the bakery said in a statement on its official Instagram account.

“This does not mean we do not respect your religion. But with all due respect this is what we have to practise based on our religious principles,” it said.

“Again, we sincerely apologise from the bottom of our hearts and with a feeling of respect and honour as Indonesians. We will still provide greeting cards and chocolate boards as additional services for your order. You are welcome to add your own writing. Again, we wish for your understanding.”

For some netizens, the seemingly inoffensive and carefully worded explanation still failed to conceal what they perceived as the bakery’s intolerance toward Christians.

Journalist DandhyDwiLaksono tweeted: “In the case of Chocolicious, what if the word ‘Christmas’ in the decorous sentence were replaced by ‘EidulFitr’? Or what if the same attitude were displayed by chocolate farmers in Flores who refuse to serve their buyers who celebrate EidulFitr?”

Other social media users were less diplomatic, condemning the bakery as “racist”, “fanatics” and “unfit to live in Indonesia”.

But not all netizens were furious or alarmed.

BurhanuddinMuhtadi, a political analyst from Jakarta Islamic State University, argued that the bakery had the right to refuse the request, saying: “Other people also have the right to buy cakes from other shops if they feel uncomfortable with [the bakery owner’s] religious interpretation.”

Identity politics

The Christmas cake controversy came amid concerns over rising identity politics in Indonesia, with the nation’s burgeoning middle class now seen to be growing more religiously conservative.

While many have become used to the antics of hardline Islamic groups in their war against Christmas, it is unusual for a seemingly law-abiding Muslim shop owner to politely refuse a small request of writing “Selamat Natal” on the cakes they are selling.

Specifically, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), regarded as the highest religious authority in the country, does not prohibit Muslims from greeting Christians on their holiday. The late BuyaHamka, one of the most influential Muslim clerics in Indonesia, also made it clear that Muslims were permitted to say “Merry Christmas” despite many Muslims basing their argument against Christmas greetings on a 1981 MUI fatwa released by Hamka.

Yudi Latif, who heads a presidential working unit on implementation of the state ideology of religious tolerance, said more work needed to be done to instill tolerance in society.

He said the shop owners had “the right to refuse or accept” an order, adding that it was the task of religious leaders to spread the message of tolerance, including persuading the bakery owner to grant the customer’s request.

Yudi said” “The government must ensure that business owners can operate freely and accept any order they want, as long as it is not against the law.”

But regardless of the debate, Chocolicious Indonesia is losing some of its customers because of its policy.

Makassar resident WidyaSabila said she and her family had long been customers of the bakery. “I never thought they would do that. I am no longer a fan of their pastries,” she said, adding that she and her friends would just stop buying from them.

dawn.com/news/1379016/indonesian-bakery-reignites-debate-over-xmas-greeting

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North America

US drone strike target Haqqani terrorist network commander in Pakistan

By Khaama Press - Wed Dec 27 2017, 9:55 am

A suspected US drone strike targeted a commander of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network in the tribal regions of Pakistan on Tuesday.

According to reports, the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Mata Sangar area located in Kurram Agency in the tribal regions of Pakistan.

Local officials have confirmed that two people were killed in the airstrike which targeted a vehicle as it was traveling in the area.

In the meantime, reports indicate that a commander of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network identified as Jamil-ud-Din was killed in the airstrike along with another militant.

The Pakistani government officials have not formally commented regarding the airstrike so far.

US Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Afghanistan on Friday reiterated Washington’s stance regarding the terror safe havens in Pakistan.

He said “For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organizations, but those days are over. President Trump has put Pakistan on notice.”

“As the President said, so I say now: Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with the United States, and Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists,” he added.

The Afghan and US officials have long been insisting that the leadership councils of the Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are based in the key cities of Pakistan where from they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.

The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) earlier had warned that the United States will take necessary steps if Pakistan fails to destroy terror safe havens in its soil.

khaama.com/us-drone-strike-target-haqqani-terrorist-network-commander-in-pakistan-04131

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/triple-talaq-bill-not-acceptable-if-against-quran--muslim-women-s-law-board/d/113716


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