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Islamic World News ( 31 Dec 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Tunisha Sharma Wanted To Know Islam, Wore Hijab To Get Into The Skin Of Her TV Rolein Ali Baba: Dastaan-e-Kabul: Source

New Age Islam News Bureau

31 December 2022

Tunisha Sharma and Sheezan Khan were co-stars in Ali Baba Dastaan-E-Kabul.


• Afghan Journalists Develop A Mobile App To Empower Citizen Journalism

• Favourable View Of Muslims In The US Ticks Up, Even As Islamophobic Incidents Rise

• In Turkey, Islamic Mystic Rumi’s Whirling Connects Even Iranians And Israeli Jews

• Ronaldo ‘Excited’ To Start New Chapter With ‘Inspiring’ Saudi Arabia’s Club Al Nassr



• Concern at attack on Kashmiri students in Aligarh Muslim University

• Sheikh Abdullah was a popular leader but still he committed unfair democratic practices: Arif Mohammad Khan

• Row over EC’s Assam delimitation plan — ‘BJP trying to tinker with Muslim-majority seats’

• Foreign-Based Pro-Khalistani Elements Plotting Court Strike, Says Intel

• Jammu SIA files chargesheet against four LeT terrorists


South Asia

• Taliban's Reversion to Sharia-Based Public Punishments Dominated

• Taliban divisions inflamed by sweeping restrictions on women

• Taliban District Governor Dies in Traffic Accident in Herat


North America

• Pakistani diplomatic property in US going to ‘highest bidder’

• Türkiye's foreign minister to attend Sunday inauguration of Brazil's president-elect

• US military base in eastern Syria comes under heavy rocket fire



• Marchers In Southeast Iran Denounce Supreme Leader In Renewed Protests

• East Jerusalem man with Islamic State ties charged over deadly twin bombings in city

• UN vote on Israel’s occupation ‘a victory’, Palestinians say

• General Assembly refers Israeli occupation to UN court

• Seven dead in restaurant blast in Turkey, gas leak suspected

• Israel indicts soldiers for attempting to bomb Palestinian home

• Who are the members of Israel's far-right 37th government?

• Results of Palestine census will cause concern for Israel, analyst says

• Palestinians condemn ‘extremist’ Israeli government amid escalation in West Bank

• Netanyahu cabinet facing opposition even from hawkish Zionists: Analyst


Arab World

• Al Azhar plays key, pivotal role towards Egyptian Muslim families abroad: minister

• Attack blamed on IS kills 12 oil workers in Syria

• Security staff and marine boats: Dubai gears up to man New Year’s celebrations

• Saudi Arabia is all set to welcome the new year with fine food, fireworks and live music

• Riyadh Season launches humanitarian drive for children

• Saudi leaders offer condolences to Indian PM after death of his mother

• 12 oil workers killed in Daesh terror attack in eastern Syria

• Ten workers killed in militant attack near oil field in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

• Three US-backed SDF militants shot dead amid ongoing protests in northern Syria



• Allah Severe In Penalty – Imam Warns Muslims Imitating Western Marriages

• Mali sentences 46 Ivorian soldiers to 20 years in prison; death in absentia given to 3

• Niger detains suspected Libyan people smuggler: French police

• 2023: Miyetti Allah endorses Tinubu



• Interior Ministry Reviews Firings Of Alleged Gulen Supporters By Muslim Minority Mayor

• France Must Get Rid Of Its 'Colonizer Complex': Algerian President

• Albanian court upholds extradition of fugitive crypto exchange founder to Türkiye

• Activist Moradi’s Death InFrance Shakes Distressed Members Of Iranian Diaspora

• British-Palestinian doctor says he was set up by MI5



• Four Police Officials Injured In Militant Attack On Dera Ismail Khan Check Post

• Rival Parties Term MQM Factions’ Merger ‘Political Engineering’

• Turkish Navy Ship conducts naval drills with Pakistan Navy

• Pakistan's Provincial Government In Balochistan Bans Protest, Imposes Curfew After Clashes: Official

• Islamabad LG elections: PTI begins mobilising voters as govt appeals IHC ruling

• Swabi families seek govt help for youth stuck in Libya


Southeast Asia

• Indonesia Lifts All Coronavirus-Related Restrictions

• PM receives warm welcome at nostalgic Kampung MelayuMajidee mosque

• Indonesia to tighten palm oil exports from Jan. 1 to shore up supply ahead of Ramadan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Tunisha Sharma Wanted To Know Islam, Wore Hijab To Get Into The Skin Of Her TV Role in Ali Baba: Dastaan-e-Kabul: Source

Dec 30, 2022

Tunisha Sharma and Sheezan Khan were co-stars in Ali Baba Dastaan-E-Kabul.


TV actress Tunisha Sharma hanged herself in the make-up room of her former boyfriend and co-star Sheezan Khan. Her mother Vanita Sharma addressed the media during a press conference on December 30 and claimed that Sheezan forced her to follow Islam and she had also started to learn Urdu. However, a source has now alleged that it was only due to her character in Ali Baba: Dastaan-E-Kabul that Tunisha learnt the Urdu language and wore a hijab.

Source Claims Tunisha Wore Hijab Only For Her Character

Tunisha Sharma was a character actor, claims a source. After the late actress’ mother Vanita Sharma claimed that Sheezan Khan forced her to follow Islam and she had also started to learn Urdu, a source has stated that Tunisha wore a hijab to perfect her character as Princess Mariam in Ali Baba: Dastaan-E-Kabul.

The source revealed that Tunisha followed Islamic culture to better herself in her show, Alibaba. It was further mentioned that Tunisha, who played Mariam's character, would spend hours learning Urdu and would also wear the hijab just to get into the skin of her character. It was due to this reason that people had wrong ideas. Ali Baba started in August 2022 and since then, Tunisha had been trying to do her best. The source further revealed that as an artiste, she would give her 100% and to understand her Muslim character better and deliver better, she would prepare by doing the said things.

Sheezan Forced TunishaTo Follow Islam: Vanita Sharma

During a press conference on Friday, Tunisha Sharma's mother Vanita said, "Tunisha informed me that Sheezan used to consume drugs on the sets. There were changes in Tunisha's behaviour. Sheezan forced her to follow Islam. She also posted on her Instagram that morning but what happened after that, we have no idea."

Tunisha died by suicide on December 24.


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Afghan journalists develop a mobile app to empower citizen journalism

December 30, 2022

Two Afghan journalists have developed a mobile app which would help citizens broadcast live-streaming of what they may want to share with others.

The app named ‘Orsy‘ is designed for Android and iOS devices was launched by Afghan journalists, Abdullah Khudadad and Sami Mahdi on Thursday.

The app aims to break down the barriers between the audience and reporter by allowing citizens get engaged in sharing non-filtered live-broadcasting videos from what they notice around them.

According to the information published on Orsy’s website, reporting on this app is financially rewarding by receiving tips online.

“Orsy is not only an application, it is a new method to access and learn about the world around you”, Abdullah Khudadad, one of the founders said in a post on his Facebook wall.

With real-time and multi-angle updates, powerful geolocation features, Orsy stand out from the rest, Abdullah said.

This comes as with the rapid developments in internet technology and social media, the citizens have now been more engaged in reporting of what they see around them through different social media platforms. These development have helped with the speedy circulation of information globally.

Source: Khaama Press

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Favourable View Of Muslims In The US Ticks Up, Even As Islamophobic Incidents Rise

30 December 2022

Women wear US flag headscarves at city hall for World Hijab Day in New York City, on 1 February 2017 (AFP)


The number of US residents holding Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views has flatlined, and may actually be shrinking, even as hate crimes increase, according to a 2022 poll conducted by Brookings Institute.

Favourable views of Muslims in the US have risen substantially over the past seven years. In 2016, 58 percent of those polled by Brookings held favourable views of Muslims, by May 2022 that number had ticked up to 78 percent.

Authors of the new report, "The anti-Semitic and Islamophobic fringe is alarmingly emboldened - but it's shrinking", suggested that Americans' views on Muslims were shaped by a rise in Islamophoic rhetoric during the years of the administration of US President Donald Trump.

"As Trump targeted Muslims in his campaign, more Americans, especially Democrats and Independents, seemed to rally behind Muslims, even as anti-Muslim discourse expanded," they said.

An increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric also does not appear to have impacted the views held by the general public.

Those polled by Brookings expressed the least opposition to a Jewish presidential candidate compared with any other religion. Just five percent of Republicans and seven percent of Democrats said they would vote against a Jewish presidential candidate. That number was lower than those who would oppose a Catholic or Protestant candidate.

Opposition to a Muslim presidential candidate was substantially higher, with 44 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats saying they would reject a candidate based on their Islamic faith.

Despite the high opposition, the poll indicates that both Republicans and Democrats are slowly warming to the idea of voting for a Muslim candidate. The total number of those opposed dropped from 31 percent in 2016 to 26 percent in 2022.

Despite the trend in favourability, there has been a significant increase in attacks on Muslim and Jewish groups, suggesting an increased intensity of Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has documented an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the US, rising 34 percent from 2020 to 2021, including a 43 percent increase in harassment and a 167 percent increase in anti-Semitic assaults - the highest recorded number of anti-Semitic incidents since ADL first began tracking them in 1979.

Muslim-Americans have also been increasingly targeted. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair)  documented a nine percent increase in Islamophobic incidents from 2020 and the highest number of civil rights complaints in 27 years, including a 28 percent increase in hate and bias incidents.

"It may be easy to conclude that there has been an increase in the number of people who express these beliefs, but the intensity of hate, what we call a vertical expansion, has not led to an increase in the number of people who express such views," the authors noted.

Source: MiddleEastEye

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In Turkey, Islamic mystic Rumi’s whirling connects even Iranians and Israeli Jews


30 December 2022

During a 10-day annual commemoration ceremony known as the Şeb-i Arus or ‘the night of the union,’ Konya is Turkey’s most buzzing pilgrimage center. This year, ToI was there, too


KONYA, Turkey — In the usually sleepy southern Anatolian city of Konya, scenes of colorful people and distinct cultures filled the streets for a few chilly days in mid-December. While usually separated by borders, politics, and language, most were in Konya with one common purpose – paying respect to the late Islamic scholar Rumi and discussing his timeless messages of unity and love.

In December, followers of Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi Rumi, or Mevlânâ as he’s known in the East, marked the 749th death anniversary of the 13th-century Persian Sufi thinker, whose influence has transcended borders and ethnic differences and whose teachings are still seen as relevant today, perhaps more than ever.ADVERTISEMENT

Addressing reporters in Konya on December 16, Rumi’s 22nd-generation granddaughter EsinÇelebi, who also serves as a teacher of his writings, said she has “visited many countries” to spread Rumi’s ideas and was actively “working with Turkish authorities to introduce [Rumi] to the entire world.”

Noting that Rumi’s books have been translated into 26 languages, she said, “The works of Rumi are still very popular, as if they were just written.”

During a 10-day annual commemoration ceremony known as the Şeb-iArus or “the night of the union,” Konya becomes Turkey’s most buzzing pilgrimage center. The city, dubbed “the City of Hearts” by locals, draws in thousands or people from across Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and other Asian Muslim countries, as well as non-Muslims from the West seeking spiritual enlightenment or simply a unique experience.

The Times of Israel was invited as a guest of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry to report on the events surrounding Rumi’s 749th death anniversary in Konya, Turkey, on December 15-19.

While Rumi’s teachings are inherently based on the Quran, many New Age practices in the West have adopted his ideas as translations have made his work increasingly accessible in recent years. Described by American biographer Brad Gooch as “a poet of joy and of love,” Rumi has become the best-selling poet in the United States today — “the warm and fuzzy ecumenical poet of choice for weddings, coming-of-age ceremonies and funerals,” as the Washington Post put it in 2017.

But despite what some may perceive as cultural appropriation by the West, it’s hard to imagine Rumi himself opposing the circulation of his ideas. One of his best-known quotes reads: “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”

His ideas emphasize the importance of human dignity and social justice. Some consider him an early defender of human rights. He considered all humans to be manifestations of the divine and as such viewed all people as complex, spiritual, and equal beings. His teachings encourage self-observation and self-discovery as the main ways of reaching spiritual enlightenment and connecting to God.

‘Challenging high politics’

While Rumi’s teachings have always drawn Muslims seeking a different approach to their daily and religious routines, they have also established a foothold in some unexpected places, including the Jewish state.

Dr.RonieParciack, a professor at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Asian Studies and for the past seven years an active practitioner of the Mevlevi Sama ceremony — a form of worship in Islamic Sufism that is believed to have started with Rumi — says there is an active community of Israelis who follow Rumi and practice Sama.

“We have a direct link to the Mevlevi order in Konya,” she says in an interview with The Times of Israel after returning from a trip to Turkey with her group.

“The community in Israel is a direct outcome of several historic events,” she explains, citing the establishment of the modern Turkish republic in 1923 and the subsequent banning of Sufi orders by the first Turkish president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in 1925, and the shift of Sufi centers and prominent scholars to the West, primarily the US, in the second half of the 20th century.

Western influence “led to certain changes within the communities,” Parciack says. “For the first time, women started appearing in Sama ceremonies… The presence in the West changed the approach toward gender. It allowed women to enter the ceremony actively while performing publicly.”

In Turkey, official public Sama ceremonies are still performed by men. Still, Parciack says she was able to perform a private ceremony in Konya and describes a meaningful experience.

“We held a ceremony with local Mevlevi Turks. The news of our arrival in Konya spread quickly and drew a lot of curious people, including people from across the Arab world – Emiratis, Saudis, Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis… People came and left, we created a dialogue with them,” she says.

Contrary to what one might expect, Parciack says none of her encounters were political in nature. “In some spaces the meaning we give high politics is overrated. Definitions, political issues, all those were put aside. What was left was the joy of meeting, of talking.”

She continued, “Our presence in Konya created this happy event that challenged concepts of high politics… We’ve become so accustomed to thinking in categories – Muslim, Israeli, Jewish – but it’s not that important… There are plenty of spaces where these levels are completely useless.”

“And that’s one of the purposes of the Sama ceremony,” she says, “to dismiss categories.” She mentions that the group she is part of was established by an Israeli-Palestinian couple, a form of dismissing preconceptions in itself. They meet in Jaffa once a week to practice Sufi whirling.

Other than that, a festival celebrating Rumi and the Sama ceremony is held in Israel every year in May. It has been running for a decade and is gaining popularity every year, according to its website.

And while Sama has allowed Parciack to avoid politics, for a group of young Iranians visiting Konya, the notion of letting go of existing definitions was an expression of seeking justice back home, where nationwide protests have swept the Islamic Republic since the death of MahsaAmini in the custody of the so-called morality police in mid-September.

“We’re here seeking meaning,” one Iranian who asked not to be identified tells The Times of Israel. “We’re not after any specific person, it’s not about Rumi or [prophet] Muhammad. It’s only about us, the people, those looking for justice and trying to follow their heart.”

Another member of the group adds, “When you connect with your heart everything becomes a reflection of love and you can love everything.”

Someone from the group, meanwhile, hands out flyers with a symbol of what he calls “DerafshKaviani,” a banner of the Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians, which was the last Iranian empire to rule before the Muslim conquests during the 7th and 8th centuries CE.

“It’s the oldest flag of Iran,” he says.

Sufi whirling

Sufi whirling is at the center of the Sama. It is performed by Dervishes – a broad name given to members of an Islamic Sufi group. The ceremony is considered the means through which its performers shed their ego and any existing preconceptions to reach a state of mind that illuminates their connection with Allah. The Sama, which literally means “hearing” in Arabic, also includes repeated chants of certain prayers and phrases from the Quran – referred to as Dhikr, or “remembrance” – that accompany the ceremony.

Despite seeming like an ecstatic dance to the untrained eye, those who practice Sama describe it more as a prayer that requires a great level of self-discipline and control.

“Many people today know Sama as a dance, as a show, but it’s not. It’s a prayer, it’s the remembrance of God,” Turkish Mevlevi Dervish Osman Sariaj tells The Times of Israel.

Sariaj says the unique position whirling Dervishes put themselves in during the ceremony – holding one hand toward the sky and the other toward the ground while tilting their head sideways – reflects its meditative and religious purpose.

“All people want something from God. We also want something. But we don’t look at what he gives us. Our head position means that we don’t look up or down. The other hand is pointed down, we’re not looking at what we give others as well. We only look toward our hearts, inward,” he says, reiterating Rumi’s saying: “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

Asked if anyone can tap into these ideas through the Sama, Sariaj says all are all welcome to try.

“I practiced a single movement with my leg for six months, just one turn,” he says.

“Religion is not important. Just come and visit Rumi. Close your eyes and feel him. If you do that you’ll be rewarded,” he guarantees.

Still, it might not be for everyone, Parciack says.

“Learning how to master the act of whirling takes time. The technique requires changing one’s sensory perception… It requires a very specific kind of passion. Anyone can come and try it, but I’ve seen many try and fail to stick with it.”

Sufism in Jewish tradition

A Jewish sect that was active in Egypt in the 12th-13th centuries and was led by Abraham Maimonides, the son of noted sage Maimonides, is believed to have integrated Islamic Sufi ideas of the time into their practices. They have been referred to as Hasidic Egyptians by some scholars, raising interesting albeit completely theoretical questions about the possible influence of Islamic Sufism on the development of the present-day Hasidic movement which, like Mevlevi Dervishes, puts an emphasis on the individual’s state of mind during the process of worship, with happiness and joy playing a central role in religious practices. Song and dance are central in Hasidic tradition, not unlike the Sama ceremony in Mevlevi Sufism.

According to Dr. Michael Laitman, founder and president of the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute, the connection between Sufism and Jewish mysticism is biblical.

“Both Sufism and the wisdom of the Kabbalah speak about the same thing. They both originated from Abraham. He taught Sufism as spiritual teachings to his eldest son Ishmael and the wisdom of Kabbalah to his other son, Isaac. But both practices are connected, they don’t contradict each other,” Laitman says.

Today, these ideas are carried on by a group of academics, rabbis, and sheiks who call themselves “Derech Avraham” (Abraham’s Journey). The group promotes interfaith dialogue based on common ideas and practices from Judaism and Islam. Its goal, according to its website, is to “facilitate a reunion of Isaac & Ishmael – the nations of the Middle East – that will build a highway to bless the nations.”

‘Spreading this message to the entire world’

Addressing the crowd at the main event commemorating Rumi in Konya on December 17, Turkish officials argued that Rumi’s ideas were necessary in today’s world more than ever.

“[Rumi’s] teachings are crucial values for humanity and the world is starting to realize this,” said Konya Governor Muammer Erol.

“It’s no trivial thing that [Rumi] is read with the same excitement as he was hundreds of years ago,” said Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.

“And that’s the line that connects us all. We don’t discriminate. We are always seeking to cooperate with our neighbors. We don’t consider those who think and live differently as enemies. These values are needed in today’s world. So many people are on the verge of starvation, many are migrating, and we see endless forms of discrimination… Certain things have to change and [Rumi] had the answer for what we need – love. It is the sigil of humanity. We are proud to be taking an active role in spreading this message to the entire world,” he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was among several world leaders to send Hanukkah greetings to the Jewish people earlier this month, as the ties between Jerusalem and Ankara have improved in recent months.

As Israel seeks to foster more normalization agreements with its Muslim neighbors, Konya, Rumi, and the spirit they represent suggest that regional harmony is not only possible but an emerging reality, and only requires us to look in the right direction.

Or as Rumi put it: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”


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Ronaldo ‘Excited’ To Start New Chapter With ‘Inspiring’ Saudi Arabia’s Club Al Nassr

31 December ,2022

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts at a UEFA Nations League match Portugal v Switzerland in Lisbon, Portugal on June 5, 2022. (File photo: Reuters)


Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has said he is ‘excited’ to join the ‘inspiring’ Saudi club Al Nassr on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

The club announced details of the contract on Friday. The five-time Ballon D’or winner is now set to undergo a medical at Mrsool Park, home of Al Nassr, before completing any formalities. He will appear in the club’s yellow and blue colours in the Saudi capital Riyadh in the coming days.

“I am excited to experience a new football league in a different country,” said Ronaldo, in a statement issued by the club. “The vision of what Al Nassr [is] doing and developing in Saudi Arabia both in terms of men’s and women’s football is very inspiring.”

“We can see from Saudi Arabia’s recent performance at the World Cup that this is a country with big football ambitions and a lot of potential.”

“I am fortunate that I have won everything I set out to win in European football and feel now that this is the right moment to share my experience in Asia. I am looking forward to joining my new teammates and together with them help the Club to achieve success.”

Ronaldo’s contract has been estimated by media to be worth more than €200 million ($214.04 million).

Al Nassr Football Club President MusalliAlmuammar said: ”This is more than history in the making. This is a signing that will not only inspire our club to achieve even greater success but inspire our league, our nation and future generations, boys and girls to be the best version of themselves.”

“He is a special footballer and a special person whose impact is felt far beyond football. Cristiano is joining a club with big ambitions, a competitive club amongst the very best in Asia and will be welcomed to a country that is making massive progress on and off the pitch with opportunities for all.”

“But first and foremost, we can’t wait to see him in the number 7 shirt of Al Nassr doing what he does best, scoring goals, winning titles and bringing joy to those who love the beautiful game.”

Ronaldo departed Old Trafford last month following an explosive television interview in which the 37-year-old forward said he felt betrayed by the club and did not respect their Dutch manager Erik ten Hag.

Ronaldo will arrive in Saudi Arabia with a vast collection of club honours after a glittering spell at Spanish giants Real Madrid from 2009-18 where he won two LaLiga titles, two Spanish Cups, four Champions League titles and three Club World Cups.

He went on to score a club record 451 times for Real and has more than 800 senior goals overall for club and country.

Ronaldo claimed two Serie A titles and a Copa Italia trophy in three years at Juventus before rejoining United with whom he had bagged three Premier League crowns, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and Club World Cup.

He played for Portugal in Qatar, where he became the first player to score in five World Cups after netting a penalty in his side’s opening Group H game against Ghana. Portugal was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Morocco.

Ronaldo said Qatar would probably be his last World Cup as he plans to retire at 40, with a move to Saudi Arabia likely to mark the swansong in the career one of the game’s greatest current players alongside Lionel Messi.

As the number one sport in Saudi Arabia, football has continued to gain prominence and momentum in recent years especially following the recent victory for the national team over Argentina in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, with the entire squad based in Saudi Arabia.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Concern at attack on Kashmiri students in Aligarh Muslim University

Piyush Srivastava   |   Lucknow  


The Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association has expressed concern over the attacks on students from the Valley at Aligarh Muslim University and said it has sought the intervention of Union home minister Amit Shah to protect them.

Nasir Khuemahi, national convener of the association, said there were 1,400 Jammu and Kashmir students in different courses in AMU and they were living in fear.

“They are being harassed and intimidated here. The university administration doesn’t listen to their problems. We have written four letters to the AMU VC (Tariq Mansoor) in recent months but they were ignored. We recently heard of a fourth attack on Jammu and Kashmir students,” he told reporters in Aligarh on Thursday.

“We have written to the home minister requesting him to form a special committee at AMU to keep a watch on the safety of the students from the Valley,” he added.

Khuemahi claimed that some students on the campus had recently used pistols and kattas (country-made revolvers) to threaten Kashmiri students.

A group of students from Uttar Pradesh had clashed with students from Jammu and Kashmir who were organising a dharna at the Centenary Gate of AMU on Monday against the attacks on them.

The students of Jammu and Kashmir demanded that the authorities chalk out a plan to stop “targeted attacks” on them.

Source: TelegraphIndia

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Sheikh Abdullah was a popular leader but still he committed unfair democratic practices: Arif Mohammad Khan


31 Dec, 2022

Srinagar: Kerela Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, who is on a visit to Kashmir, said that the abrogation of Article 370 empowered people of Jammu and Kashmir and maintained that the special status of J&K would always be there.

“People of J&K should understand that the special status is not determined by a law but a rich legacy which will never end,” Khan told Greater Kashmir in an exclusive interview. “Kashmiris will always have the special status.”

Khan, who has “close association” with J&K, said mistakes committed by some political leaders “complicated Kashmir issue”.

“Foundation of Kashmir issue was unfair elections in 1952 in which Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah rejected nomination papers of all opposition candidates. Sheikh was a popular leader and ruled the hearts of the people but still he indulged in this unfair practice,” Khan said without mincing words.

“It was Article 370 which stopped those candidates whose nominations were rejected in 1952 to challenge it. Article 370 only empowers politicians, rulers, and bureaucrats. Pakistan and separatists tried to use the abrogation of Article 370 to show that Kashmir is an unresolved issue but failed,” he said.

Khan said Article 370 abrogation had empowered people of J&K and made politicians and bureaucrats accountable. Since 1947, plan expenditure of J&K is six times more than the rest of the states and union territories in the country.

“Minds are changing, situation will normalise, and statehood too will be restored gradually. Kashmir isn’t known for values of politics but Rishiyat, its traditions, lifestyle and no one can snatch it,” he said.

After students complete graduation in Sanskrit universities in Banaras, Khan said they have to mandatorily march eight steps towards the direction of Kashmir and then they will get a degree.

“Whole India sees Kashmir as the centre of knowledge and the highest seat of learning,” he said.

Khan said Kashmiris were peace-loving people.

“As an outsider, about 13-14 years ago, I was invited to an RSS convention in Nagpur on its last day. I met two Kashmiri leaders. I told them that Kashmiris are peace-loving and that they believe in tolerance and are known for hospitality and we committed some mistakes and Pakistan used some of them. They were surprised to hear me,” he said.

Elaborating, Khan said, “Kashmiris were afraid of even knives.”

“I was Minister of States Home Affairs in 1985. The internal security division was under me. In Central Jail in Srinagar, there was a staff of over 200 and there were just 15-20 prisoners including under-trials. Kashmiris didn’t know of any crime. We cannot wholly blame Kashmiris for the present situation, but now there is a need to reach out to them and remove their confusion,” he said.

Khan praised Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha and termed him a people-centric man.

“He (LG Sinha) is a sensitive and honest person. He has been working hard for the development and peace of J&K,” he said.

Khan hit out at Pakistan blaming it for the “trouble” in J&K.

“It is a fact that every Indian treats Kashmir as a jewel in India’s crown. Kashmir should have been our leader and there shouldn’t be a deficit of democracy. Pakistan got divided in 1971 due to its internal problems and since then its leadership is unsuccessfully using the Kashmir issue to take revenge from India,” he said.

Khan said that majority of the people of Kashmir want development.

“Kashmir will have thriving democracy and New Delhi is committed to take Kashmiris along. Kashmiris are extremely talented and they only need exposure and platform. The Centre will ensure overall development of Kashmir and make it one of the top Information Technology hubs. It is an era of global village and time is ripe to end differences and work together to make Kashmir a paradise again,” he said.


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Row over EC’s Assam delimitation plan — ‘BJP trying to tinker with Muslim-majority seats’


31 December, 2022

New Delhi: A row has broken out over the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to begin the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam on the basis of the 2001 Census, following a request from the law ministry on 15 November.

Opposition parties are accusing the BJP-led state government of attempting to “tinker with Muslim-majority seats in Assam for its own advantage”.

They are also questioning why the delimitation exercise is being conducted using data from the 2001 Census and not the more recent 2011 Census, according to which the population of Muslims in Assam has increased by 3.3 per cent — the highest growth in the country.

“When 2011 Census data is available, why is the government using the 2001 Census data?” Congressman and Leader of Opposition in Assam DebabrataSaikia told ThePrint. In Assam, the last delimitation of constituencies was done in 1976 on the basis of the 1971 Census.

All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA Aminul Islam asked, “when seats are to be increased in 2026 (when the next national delimitation is due) and the process for the (deferred) 2021 Census is about to begin, to what extent is it appropriate to make the census of 20 years ago (2001) the basis of delimitation in Assam?”.

He added that “this clearly shows the master plan of the BJP government is something else, for which this delimitation is being started. Their intention is only to tamper with the population of Muslim-dominated seats”.

Assam BJP president BhabeshKalita termed the allegations regarding delimitation in the state as baseless.

He referred to the EC’s direction of a “complete ban on the creation of new administrative units with effect from January 1, 2023, till the completion of delimitation exercise in the state (Assam)”.

Asserting that Assam has 14 Lok Sabha seats and 126 assembly seats “which will remain intact”, Kalita told ThePrint: “No seat has to be changed in this delimitation. When the exercise was conducted across the country (in 2008) on the basis of the 2001 Census, Assam should also get the benefit of the 2001 data first.”

‘Raising questions, doubts only meant to spread confusion’

The Muslim population in Assam has seen the highest surge in the decade between the 2001 Census and 2011 Census. While the Muslim population across India surged only 0.8 per cent in the 10 years — from 13.4 per cent to 14.2 per cent — the maximum rise was in Assam.

The state’s percentage of Muslims was 30.9 per cent in 2001, which jumped to 34.2 per cent in 2011. In the meantime, the population of Hindus saw a decline in the state.

The Muslim community is currently in majority in nine of the state’s 35 districts. Assam chief minister HimantaBiswaSarma has repeatedly talked about the increase in Muslim population in the border areas of the state, underlining the possible effects of it on the Assamese community and culture.

Talking about the need for delimitation, Kalita said: “Only those assembly seats where the proportion of the population is high have to be made in proportion. There are 3 lakh voters in some seats and 1.5 lakh in some others. This way it becomes difficult for MLAs to use government funds where there are more voters. That’s why the need for delimitation has arisen.”

He added: “The Election Commission will do the whole process, and raising questions and doubts is only meant to spread confusion”.

All about delimitation

Delimitation is key for the conduct of polls in India and is aimed at providing fair representation to all segments of society. The exercise involves redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and assembly seats to represent changes in the population. The demographic reworking also changes the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

According to The Delimitation Act of 2002, there can be no change in the seats of any state assembly or the Lok Sabha till 2026.

Delimitation was completed in the entire country in 2008, on the basis of the 2001 Census, but four Northeastern states and Jammu & Kashmir were then excluded from the exercise.

This was done after several organisations from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland challenged the 2001 Census in the Gauhati High Court. Political parties in Assam, including the BJP, had also met then home minister Shivraj Patil and demanded that the delimitation exercise be postponed as the National Register of Citizens (NRC, meant to identify illegal immigrants) had not been revised.

Keeping the demands in mind, the Centre had postponed delimitation in the four states and J&K by amending the Delimitation Act in 2008.

On March 6, 2020, the BJP-led central government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for the four states as well as the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

In February this year, President Ram Nath Kovind ordered the delimitation process to be restarted, scrapping the 2008 order.

In May, the delimitation exercise was completed for Jammu & Kashmir on the basis of the 2011 Census — a fact that opposition parties are highlighting while protesting the use of 2001 data for delimitation in Assam.

Earlier this month, the Assam government informed the Centre that there is a favourable environment for delimitation in the state.

2001 and 2011 Census

Hindus are in the majority in Assam and their population is 61.47 per cent, according to the 2011 Census. Assam has a total population of 3.1 crore, of which 1.07 crore people are Muslims and are in abundance in districts like Dhubri Barpeta, Karimganj, Goalpara, Morigaon, Darrang, Hailakandi, and Bongaigaon.

According to the statistics of 2001, Muslims were in abundance in six districts, which rose to nine in 2011.

The challenge for the BJP is to reduce the influence of the Congress and AIUDF in Muslim-majority areas.

The AIUDF has a large Muslim following in Assam and, in the 2021 state elections, it won 16 seats, increasing its tally from the 13 it had won in the 2016 polls in the state.

According to Pallab Lochan Das, BJP MP from Tezpur, Assam, “Delimitation is meant to remove disparities where there is an imbalance of population, whether it is minority or majority, so that the benefits of governance can reach all the people.”

Another senior BJP leader from Assam pointed out the “error of not having delimitation on the basis of 2001 data” and the “need to correct the old records”.

“It is beneficial for the party to use the 2001 Census not only politically but also for the next census, when the seats of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha would have increased (in 2026),” he said.

Saikia, however, wondered that “by the time delimitation is completed in Assam, the process of collating new census data would start, so why is the government wasting so much money (now)?”

Or, he added, “behind the exercise, is the government trying to draw up seats for its benefit by dividing the proportion of the population of Muslim-majority seats among other seats?”

“We have demanded that the Election Commission undertake delimitation on the basis of latest census data,” he said.

Saikia also pointed out that while delimitation in Assam was in the works, no decision had yet been taken on the fate of the 19 lakh people excluded from the Assam NRC.


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Foreign-Based Pro-Khalistani Elements Plotting Court Strike, Says Intel

Dec 31, 2022

NEW DELHI: The intelligence establishment is learnt to have issued an alert that foreign-based pro-Khalistani elements are planning to carry out an IED blast at a court complex, most likely in Delhi, Ludhiana or Jalandhar. The inputs have been communicated to the local police, asking them to step up the security apparatus.

"The possibility of such an attack at any other court complex in Punjab also cannot be ruled out. No further indicators exist as of now," says the alert. Sources said the alert had stemmed from some chatter linked to Germany-based Khalistani terrorist Jaswinder Singh Multani. National Investigation Agency (NIA) has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh on him.

The alert comes a year after a blast rocked the Ludhiana court premises last December. A man, supposedly the bomber himself, was killed and five were seriously injured in the blast inside a bathroom on the second floor of the building on December 23, 2021. The explosion ripped through a whole section of the complex and shattered the windows in nearby rooms.

The Special Task Force of Punjab Police had apprehended five people, including a juvenile, this May. NIA had charged Multani, a member of the banned Sikhs for Justice, who was subsequently detained in Germany on December 28 last year following a request from Indian agencies. According to NIA, the blast was carried out at the behest of Multani, who had allegedly arranged the logistics remotely with the help of his contacts in Pakistan. He was released later.

In Delhi, at least 15 people were killed and 79 injured on September 7, 2011 in an explosion outside gate 5 of the high court complex. Delhi Police has since reviewed the security of the courts multiple times.

Source: Times Of India

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Jammu SIA files chargesheet against four LeT terrorists

Dec 31, 2022

JAMMU: The State Investigation Agency (SIA), Jammu, has filed a chargesheet against four Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who were allegedly involved in carrying out numerous terror attacks in the Union Territory, said an SIA officer on Friday.

“The case was initially registered at Mahore PS in Reasi district, but later transferred to SIA Jammu on the orders of J&K Police Headquarters. The investigation established that Pakistan-based terrorist Mohammad Qasim and Zia-ul-Rehman — both J&K natives who went to Pakistan after joining terror ranks — were using drones to supply arms, ammunition, and explosives in J&K. The consignments were being collected by the accused Talib Hussain Shah and his associates,” said an SIA spokesperson.

“On the directions of Pak-based handlers, Talib Hussain Shah had recruited many J&K youths and revived the terror ecosystem in Chenab Valley and Peer Panjal area,” the spokesperson said, adding that the investigation also proved that the accused were involved in killing members of the minority community to create an environment of fear among masses. The accused were directed to carry out attacks on security forces and vital installations to meet the objective of the secession of J&K from the Union of India.

Source: Times Of India

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South Asia


Taliban's Reversion to Sharia-Based Public Punishments Dominated

December 30, 2022


The Taliban have consolidated power and overseen an enormous improvement in security across Afghanistan this year. At the same time, the Islamist rulers have failed to gain formal international recognition and sanctions relief by refusing to remove restrictions on women’s freedoms to public life and education.

The insurgent group returned to power in mid-August 2021 as the United States and NATO-led Western allies completed their military withdrawal after two decades of involvement in the war with the Taliban.

More than 16 months into renewed Taliban rule, fears of an economic collapse, widespread famine and massive migration of Afghans stemming from U.S. sanctions and suspension of foreign aid seem to have eased.

The lack of crisis is largely attributed to a series of exemptions granted by President Joe Biden in the U.S. sanctions and to the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance by Western allies.

A Taliban crackdown on corruption, a marked reduction in violence and an unprecedented increase in coal exports to neighboring Pakistan have also contributed to slowing Afghanistan’s economic free fall and stabilizing the conflict-torn nation.

But the Taliban regime continues to face severe criticism for its human rights record, especially for its treatment of women.

New restrictions on women in public

Norway hosted Taliban diplomats in January for meetings with European delegates on Afghan humanitarian and human rights issues. The initiative generated hopes the Islamist Taliban would live up to their pledges of ensuring women’s freedoms and opening schools for girls in return for Western economic cooperation.

But the developments in the months that followed strained an already fragile relationship between the Taliban and the outside world. The new regime in Kabul, known as the Islamic Emirate, began curtailing women’s freedoms in breach of repeated commitments.

HibatullahAkhudzada, the reclusive Taliban supreme leader, abruptly decided against allowing teenage girls to resume classes when public secondary schools across the country reopened in March.

Afghanistan’s rulers continued to tighten restrictions on women, banning them from public places, including parks, bath houses, and gyms. Women are required to cover their faces in public and can attend health facilities or undertake road travel beyond a certain distance only if accompanied by male chaperones. Most female government staff say they have effectively been confined to their homes or rendered unemployed.

The United Nations and Western governments have persistently decried women’s exclusion from public life as a “human rights crisis” in Afghanistan and called for reversing the rules.

“The country’s economic and social stability and the Taliban’s domestic and international legitimacy depend enormously on their treatment of Afghanistan’s mothers and daughters,” Thomas West, the U.S. special Afghan representative, told Taliban Defense Minister Mohammed Yaqub in a December meeting in Abu Dhabi.

The Taliban have also curbed media freedoms and space for civil society activists to operate has increasingly shrunk.

In a rare mid-year speech, Akhundzada rebuked international outcry and calls for him to remove curbs on women and girls.

“I am not here to fulfill your [foreigners'] wishes, nor are they acceptable to me. I cannot compromise on Sharia [Islamic law] to work with you or even move a step forward,” he told an all-male gathering of thousands of religious clerics in the Afghan capital.

Floggings, executions return

Akhundzada also directed Taliban courts toward the end of the year to begin applying Islamic law to criminal justice, leading to public floggings of dozens of Afghans, including women, in crowded sports stadiums for allegedly committing “moral crimes” such as adultery and theft.

In December, the Taliban staged their first public execution of a convicted murderer, effectively reviving the practices of the previous Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

The reversion to harsh punishments drew international outrage but Taliban rulers rejected the outcry as “reprehensible” and an “insult” to their religious beliefs.

Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister AnnikenHuitfeldt told an event in Oslo this past week that her government believes in continued engagement with authorities in Kabul in order to ensure much-need aid reaches Afghans.

“On many levels women are basically erased from public life. This is a human right crisis,” Huitfeldt told an event in Oslo this past week. She defended her government’s decision to host the Taliban meetings in January and to advocate continued engagement with them, saying there is no alternative to dialogue in order to help the Afghan people.

"But the Taliban have not delivered on their promises. They have not opened the schools for girls. They have not moved towards a representative government. They do not respect human rights, as illustrated most recently by the public execution,” Huitfeldt said.

Taliban foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi defended his government’s policies and stressed the need for other countries to work toward bridging the mutual trust deficit.

“It is imperative the West revisit its policy of collective punishment and allow Afghans their most basic human right — the right to life,” Balkhi told VOA in written comments.

“After experiencing half a century of crisis and violence caused by foreign interference and great power politics, Afghans must be given an opportunity to rebuild their lives and heal their trauma through assistance, cooperation and integration so trust deficits can be narrowed and a way forward forged in tandem with the world,” Balkhi added.

Taliban hardliners in control

Michael Kugelman, the director of the South Asia Institute at Washington’s Wilson Center, says he is not optimistic the Taliban and the international community will come to an understanding next year. He says the Taliban polices are being driven by the religious hardliners, including Akhundzada, who have the upper hand within the ruling group.

“The trend lines are not good, and the Taliban appear to be intensifying the draconian policies that so concern the international community,” Kugelman stated.

“And the Taliban don’t care about reconciliation, recognition, and assistance from the international community. Unless the Taliban’s internal dynamics change next year in a way that allows the moderates to gain more control over policy, I doubt much will change, sadly,” he added.

Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan official and political commentator, says the Taliban leadership is using the strictest interpretation of Sharia to please hardliners, in an effort to avoid creation of splinter groups within the movement.

“However, it gives the wrong image of the Islamic faith overall. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation [the Muslim-majority nations’ grouping] has also been reluctant to extend recognition to the Taliban regime so long as the teenage girls’ schools remain closed,” Farhadi said.

“Needless to say, Western countries are not interested in having Taliban regimes' representatives and emissaries sitting as ambassadors in their own capitals,” Farhadi said.

Taliban leaders dismiss as Western media propaganda reports of rifts in their ranks.

The Islamist rulers take credit for ending years of war in the country, but they have not been able to counter growing terrorist attacks by ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group. ISIS-K has staged high-profile deadly bombings in recent months targeting Taliban members, the Afghan Shiite minority community, Russian and Pakistani diplomatic missions as well Chinese nationals in the country.

Balkhi rejected the criticism of their counterterrorism actions and renewed his government’s resolve to not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against other countries.

“The Islamic Emirate has been far more effective in combatting ISIS than any other state through adoption of sound policies, preemptive operations and quick reaction to incidents,” he said.

The Taliban are also battling a low-level insurgency, known as the National Resistance Front or NRF, which is active in parts of northern Panjshir province and surrounding areas. The insurgent leadership is believed to be operating out of bases in neighboring Tajikistan, but they have not been able to pose much of a threat to the Kabul regime.

The international community has also discouraged continuation of violence, fearing it could spark another Afghan civil war and eventually create space for increased transnational terrorist activities.

Norway’s Huitfeldt also noted in her December 12 speech in Oslo the Islamic State group “poses an even greater threat” in Afghanistan and it can spread internationally over time if not contained.

Source: VOANews

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Taliban divisions inflamed by sweeping restrictions on women

Dec 31, 2022

The Taliban’s sweeping orders to restrict women’s rights have exacerbated divisions in the militant group to the point where rival factions are surrounding themselves with loyal troops, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Taliban last week prohibited women from attending universities or working in non-governmental organizations, adding to directives this year banning them from using gyms, amusement parks and public baths — as well as the ability to travel more than 70 kilometers (43 miles) without a male escort. The moves sparked outrage among Afghans and the international community, with even some friendly Islamic countries expressing opposition.

The conservative decrees were ordered by the militant group’s rarely seen supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, who rules from the southern city of Kandahar and issues edicts via a religious council of Taliban clerics, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.

A group of Taliban leaders is pushing back against Akhundazada, the people said, led by defence minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of the group’s deceased founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, and interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list for terrorism. Their attempts to meet with the supreme leader to discuss the matter have so far been rebuffed, the people said.

Tensions are so acute now that both factions are gathering loyal personnel in case the conflict escalates into fighting, the people said. Yaqoob and Haqqani hold fort in the capital Kabul, while Akhundzada’s base is Kandahar — where the Taliban movement arose in the early 1990s.

While Afghanistan has a national army made up of Taliban soldiers and some troops from the US-trained force that was defeated last year, many top ministers in the current government are former warlords or militia leaders that still command the loyalty of thousands of fighters.

Due to their positions in government, the younger Taliban leaders — Yaqoob and Haqqani — have access to billions of dollars worth of military equipment left behind by the American military. Akhundzada’s loyalists are mostly drawn from local armed militias in Kandahar and like-minded religious leaders who have fighters of their own, the people said.

Bilal Karimi, a spokesman for the Taliban-run government, denied any “disunity and discord among Taliban leaders” over the orders on women, and said he wasn’t aware of any attempts by Yaqoob and Haqqani to meet Akhundzada.

“Every member of the Islamic Emirate respects and obeys the supreme leader’s orders,” Karimi said in a phone call. “The power of obedience is unbreakable.”

Still, Yaqoob and Haqqani have expressed a difference on issues of women’s rights. A spokesman for the interior ministry, Abdul NafiTakor, said by phone that Haqqani “wants a resolution to the issue of female education and employment, and the creation of a pure Islamic environment in which girls and women can study and work.”

A defence ministry spokesman, Enayatullah Khwarizmi, declined to comment on Yaqoob’s views on the latest restrictions on women. In an interview with National Public Radio in August, Yaqoob said he was “serious” about preparing the ground for all girls to return to school.

Neither spokesperson would comment on suggestions of discord between the two ministers and supreme leader Akhundzada.

This isn’t the first time that fissures have erupted within the Taliban over issues including women’s rights. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Mahdi Mujahid, a Shia Taliban commander, severed ties with the group’s leadership and led an uprising in his northern hometown of Balkhab. That resulted in weeks of fierce fighting until Mujahid was apprehended while fleeing to Iran and later killed.

When the Taliban took over Kabul last year, leaders of the group sought to reassure the world that it would have more respect for woman’s rights, including ensuring they receive an education. But Akhundzada earlier this year hinted at a return to the harsh laws in place when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

“Why are you meddling in our affairs? I am not here because of your orders, nor do I accept them, nor do I take one step forward based on them,” he said at an extremely rare appearance at a religious event in capital Kabul in June, referring to international calls for more freedom for Afghan women. “Nor do I compromise on Sharia even if you use an atomic bomb.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said the decisions barring women from education and work could be “devastating” for the Afghan people and stymie the Taliban’s efforts to gain recognition and support. Nations such as Pakistan and Qatar, which both have close ties with the Taliban, expressed disappointment and called for the decisions to be reconsidered.

Within Afghanistan, some men have also protested the decision to ban women from attending universities. Several aid organizations — including the largest group working in the country, the International Rescue Committee — suspended operations following the move to bar female employees, potentially disrupting humanitarian aid to millions of people during the harsh winter months.

Many Taliban officials educate their families — including daughters — in places like Pakistan, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, according to Graeme Smith, a senior consultant with the International Crisis Group’s Asia Program, focusing on Afghanistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Taliban District Governor Dies in Traffic Accident in Herat

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

December 30, 2022

Local officials have reported that Asadullah Waris, the Taliban district governor for “Zindajan” district, and his two security guards died in a traffic accident earlier today. 

Mawlana Naeemulhaq Haqqani, head of the information and culture department of Herat province tweeted that the incident took place on the Herat-Zindajan highway late Thursday night.

Mr. Haqqani has reported that Asadullah Waris and his two companions died in the traffic incident. Officials have reported that over-speeding was the reason behind the incident, however, they avoided providing further information in this regard.

As per the reports, the number of traffic incidents is quite high in Afghanistan, taking the lives of scores of passengers mostly on highways. Experts have linked the high number of traffic incidents to a lack of traffic rules, damaged roads, and careless drivers.

A number of Herat residents expressed their concern over the increase in traffic accidents in the province and called on officials to take measures to prevent such incidents and save lives.

Source: Khaama Press

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North America


Pakistani diplomatic property in US going to ‘highest bidder’

Anwar Iqbal

December 31, 2022

WASHINGTON: The highest bidder for a Pakistan embassy property in the US capital is Shahal Khan of Burkhan World Investments and he is also the likely winner of this bid, sources privy to the development told Dawn.

Mr Khan is believed to have offered $6.8 million for the property. Burkhan World is based in Washington and claims to “invest in projects that it believes will have a positive impact on our society”.

A Jewish group, which presumably wanted to build a synagogue at this site, submitted the ‘second-highest’ and not the ‘highest bid’, as reported earlier. The third bidder was an American investment company, which apparently employs US citizens of Indian origin as well.

Official sources told Dawn that “the process of implementing the bid has started”, which can be interpreted as “the highest bidder will get the property”, as agreed.

In an emailed response to Dawn, Devin Orrego Guevara, a representative for Burkhan World, also confirmed that the highest bid for the property was submitted by Shahal Khan.

Shahal Khan of Burkhan World Investments said to have offered $6.8m

Mr Khan “would like to make the building the centre of peace and it will also be tied to the Khan Institute of Economic Security and Peace at American University”, Mr Guevara wrote.

Mr Guevara also sent a newspaper clipping, confirming that Burkhan Investments had submitted a bid of $6.8m for the building.

Reports in the Pakistani media stated that on Nov 30, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) informed the federal cabinet that the Pakistan embassy in Wash­in­g­ton relocated to its present site in April 2003.

Since then, two old chancery buildings, at 2201 R Street and 2315 Massa­ch­usetts Avenue, have remained unoccupied.

In 2010, the then-prime minister approved the repair and renovation of both buildings through a loan of $7m secured from the National Bank of Pakistan in Washington.

About 60 per cent of the repair/renovation work at the R-Street property was completed by the end of 2012 and then it was abandoned. The former embassy building, however, was completely renovated.

In 2018, the diplomatic status of the R-Street property was revoked, rendering it liable to local taxes.

In 2019, the embassy paid $819,833, and since then, $1.3m in taxes have accumulated.

Source: Dawn

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Türkiye's foreign minister to attend Sunday inauguration of Brazil's president-elect



Türkiye’s foreign minister this weekend will visit Brazil to attend the inauguration ceremony of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the nation’s president-elect.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement on Friday, Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend the ceremony set for Sunday, Jan. 1.

"On the occasion of the visit, H.E. Minister Cavusoglu is expected to hold meetings with the Brazilian authorities and Foreign Ministers of other countries who will attend the inauguration ceremony," the statement added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US military base in eastern Syria comes under heavy rocket fire

31 December 2022

A military facility housing US forces in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr has reportedly come under rocket fire from nearby areas.

The Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency, citing local sources, reported that several massive explosions were heard in the area close to the US-controlled al-Omar oil field late Friday, after barrages of projectiles struck the site.

Local sources said a number of ambulances were dispatched to the site as rocket sirens were sounded out.

All roads leading to the occupied military facility were sealed by US-backed Kurdish militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The sources did not rule out the possibility of serious injuries and damage.

US military jets and reconnaissance drones flew intensely over the field following the attacks. No group has yet claimed responsibility for them.

The US military has for long stationed its forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.

Damascus, however, maintains that the deployment is meant to plunder the country’s natural resources. Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil wealth.

Report: Turkey to completely withdraw forces from northern Syria

Meanwhile, Syria’s pro-government al-Watan daily newspaper reported that Turkey had agreed to completely pull out its military forces from areas in northern part of the war-ravaged Arab country.

The report comes as Russian, Turkish and Syrian defense ministers met in Moscow on Wednesday, the first such talks since the Syrian conflict broke out in March 2011.

Turkey has deployed forces in Syria in violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019 after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push members of the YPG, which forms the backbone of the SDF, away from border areas.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Source: Press TV

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Marchers in southeast Iran denounce supreme leader in renewed protests

30 December ,2022

Demonstrators shouted slogans denouncing Iran’s supreme leader in the restive southeast of the country on Friday, while a human rights group said at least 100 detained protesters were facing possible death sentences.

There have been demonstrations across the country against the clerical leadership since mid-September after the death in detention of a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for wearing “inappropriate attire” under Iran’s strict Islamic dress code for women.

“Death to the dictator, death to Khamenei!” protesters chanted in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a social media video said to be from Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province. Reuters could not verify the footage.

The impoverished province is home to Iran’s Baluch minority of up to 2 million people, who human rights groups say have faced discrimination and repression for decades.

Some of the worst unrest in recent months has been in areas home to minority ethnic and religious groups with long-standing grievances against the state, such as in Sistan-Baluchistan and in Kurdish regions.

The protests, in which demonstrators from all walks of life have called for the fall of Iran’s ruling theocracy, have posed one of the biggest challenges to the Shia Muslim-ruled Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

The government has blamed the unrest on demonstrators it says are bent on destruction of public property and are trained and armed by the country’s enemies including the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Separately, a rights group said at least 100 detained protesters in Iran faced possible death sentences.

“At least 100 protesters are currently at risk of execution, death penalty charges or sentences. This is a minimum as most families are under pressure to stay quiet, the real number is believed to be much higher,” the Norway-based Iran Human Rights group said on its website.

Source: Al Arabiya

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East Jerusalem man with Islamic State ties charged over deadly twin bombings in city


30 December 2022

Prosecutors on Friday charged a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terror group for a fatal double bombing attack in the capital last month.

In the attack on November 23, Eslam Froukh, 26, allegedly set off bombs at two bus stops near entrances to the capital. The attacks killed two people — 16-year-old Aryeh Schupak and 50-year-old TadeseTashume Ben Ma’ada — and wounded over 20.

Froukh was charged with membership of a terror group, the use of weapons for the purposes of terror, aggravated murder and attempted murder through terrorist acts.

Prosecutors requested Froukh remain in police custody until the end of legal proceedings.

According to the indictment, Froukh, a resident of KafrAqab in East Jerusalem who lived much of the time in the Ramallah area, committed the attack because of his loyalty to IS.

As a holder of an Israeli residency card, Froukh was not hampered by the same restrictions on movement that apply to West Bank Palestinians.

Froukh studied mechanical engineering in Israel, and used his knowledge to teach himself how to make the bombs used in the attack, the indictment said.

He established a laboratory near Ramallah where he could produce and test the explosives necessary to build a bomb, according to prosecutors.

Froukh decided in September to carry out an attack, according to the charges. He purchased the required products and produced eight kilograms of explosive material at his lab.

As part of his escape plan, Froukh bought a used motorcycle, repainted it and tried to scratch off the chassis number to disguise it. He also hid a change of clothes along Route 1 towards the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

On the night before the bombings, Froukh rode his bike to the scene intending to place three explosives across two attack sites, planning to detonate one bomb and then another as security and medical forces treated the victims at the scene.

After noticing a technical problem with one of the bombs, he decided to combine it with one of the others to create a more powerful explosive, and placed it at the Ramot Junction, an entrance to Jerusalem. After that, Froukhtraveled to GivatShaul Junction, the main entrance to Jerusalem, and placed the other bomb.

Froukh then followed his escape plan and collected his change of clothes that he placed earlier. However, his motorcycle broke down while driving in the Judean Desert and he was forced to crash it near the Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar.

He then scattered his clothes, his helmet, a gun and remaining explosive charges in the area. In the days after the attack, security forces near the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleAdumim found the discarded belongings.

According to the charges, the first explosion occurred prematurely at GivatShaul, shortly after 7 a.m. during peak commuter hour, where Schupak and Ben Ma’ada were killed, and over 20 were injured.

Five people were lightly hurt by shrapnel or suffered from anxiety in the second explosion at Ramot Junction, shortly after 7:30 a.m.

According to the prosecutors, a day after the attack Froukh sent a message on the Telegram messaging app to Nasher news, which carries IS news releases, to claim responsibility for the bombing.

Source: TimesOfIsrael

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UN vote on Israel’s occupation ‘a victory’, Palestinians say

31 December ,2022

The Palestinians on Saturday welcomed a vote by the United Nations General Assembly to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

“The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Source: Al Arabiya

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General Assembly refers Israeli occupation to UN court

31 December ,2022

The UN General Assembly on Friday asked the International Court of Justice to consider consequences for Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territories, a day after the Jewish state’s most right-wing government ever took over.

The General Assembly voted 87-26 with 53 abstentions on the resolution, with Western nations split but virtually unanimous support in the Islamic world -- including Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel -- and backing from Russia and China.

The resolution calls on the UN court in The Hague to determine the “legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” as well as of its measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status” of the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said the vote sent a signal to the new government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over its efforts to “accelerate colonial and racist policies” and hailed nations that were “undeterred by threats and pressure.”

“We trust that regardless of your vote today, if you believe in international law and peace, you will uphold the opinion of the International Court of Justice when delivered,” Mansour said.

Speaking ahead of the vote, the Israeli ambassador, Gilad Erdan, called the resolution “a moral stain on the UN.”

“No international body can decide that the Jewish people are occupiers in their own homeland,” Erdan said.

“Any decision from a judicial body which receives its mandate from the morally bankrupt and politicized UN is completely illegitimate,” he said.

The resolution also demands that Israel cease settlements but General Assembly votes have no legal force -- unlike those in the Security Council, where US ally Israel wields veto power.

The United States, Britain and Germany opposed the resolution, while France abstained.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Seven dead in restaurant blast in Turkey, gas leak suspected

30 December ,2022

An explosion at a restaurant in western Turkey killed seven people on Friday, with one official saying a gas leak may have caused the blast.

The governor of Aydin province told Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk that five others were injured, with one of them in critical condition.

Governor Huseyin Aksoy said initial testimonies from a restaurant worker suggested there was a leak in a cooking gas canister, leading to an explosion at around 3:35 p.m. (1235 GMT; 7:35 a.m. EST).

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel indicts soldiers for attempting to bomb Palestinian home

30 December ,2022

Israel’s military said its prosecutor has filed indictments against two soldiers who allegedly hurled an explosive device at a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank, a rare instance of Israeli troops facing serious charges over an offense against Palestinians.

Prosecutors charged the two soldiers with making an explosive device, aggravated intentional assault, intentional harm to property and impeaching the investigation, the army announced late Thursday.

The court ordered the soldiers to remain in detention until a hearing next month. They were arrested on November 28.

The indictment said the two defendants acted out of revenge for the abduction of the body of an Israeli schoolboy in the flashpoint West Bank city of Jenin on November 22.

Palestinian militants in Jenin had snatched the body of 17-year-old Tiran Fero, a member of Israel’s Druze Arab minority, from a local hospital where he was receiving treatment after a car crash.

Fero’s father accused the militants of removing his son from his life-support machine while he was still alive.

The Israeli military had said he was already dead when the militants took him.

The seizure of the boy's body spread alarm among Israel’s Druze community. As anger rose, videos circulated on social media of Druze men threatening to take revenge against Palestinians.

Police said Druze villagers even attacked and tied up three Palestinian laborers in northern Israel.

Amid the standoff over Fero’s body, the two defendants — reportedly Druze soldiers — teamed up with another soldier to assemble an explosive device, the military said on Thursday.

The soldiers identified a Palestinian home near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as their target and lobbed stones at it. A few days later, they threw the explosive into the crowded house “with the intent of starting a fire in the home,” the military added.

The extent of the damage or any casualties was unclear.

There were no details about the targeted family in Palestinian media. The military said it would issue an indictment against the third soldier in the coming days.

The three soldiers were not named. The military did not immediately respond to request for comment on the penalties they could face.

Such a swift military prosecution is highly unusual and underscored the seriousness of the case.

Rights groups long have alleged that Israeli military investigations into the killings of Palestinians reflect a pattern of impunity.

Earlier this month, Israeli human rights group Yesh Din reported that Israeli soldiers accused of harming Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip over the last five years have been indicted in less than one percent of the 1,260 complaints against them.

Critics have repeatedly accused Israeli forces of using excessive firepower in the West Bank as violence in the occupied territory reaches its highest level in years.

The Israeli military has conducted near-daily raids into Palestinian cities and towns, killing more than 150 Palestinians.

The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants.

But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Meanwhile, Palestinian attacks using knives, bombs and shootings have killed 29 Israelis in 2022, both soldiers and civilians, Israel’s Foreign Ministry reported. Most of the Palestinians were killed during Israeli military raids and fighting in the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus.

On Friday, the Israeli military entered Nablus to carry out an arrest of a wanted Palestinian, authorities in the city reported, sparking fierce clashes with Palestinian militants who shot at Israeli soldiers and hurled stones and explosive devices at Israeli vehicles. The streets were ablaze with gunfire and burning tires.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Who are the members of Israel's far-right 37th government?

Burak Dag  


With Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again at the country’s helm, Israel's 37th government is being called the most right-wing administration in its history.

The important ministerial posts that were fully finalized immediately before his swearing-in are mainly filled by right-leaning or ultra-Orthodox politicians. The new Cabinet includes 30 ministers.

Here are some notable figures that will serve in Israel’s next Cabinet:

Eli Cohen

Eli Cohen, who held two ministerial roles – head of intelligence and economy minister – in previous governments, was announced by Netanyahu for the Foreign Ministry post only hours before his swearing-in.

Cohen, 50, will serve as foreign minister for only a year and rotate with another Knesset member for Likud, current Energy Minister Israel Katz.

As former intelligence minister, Cohen played a crucial role in normalization with Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco under the Abraham Accords.

Yoav Galant

Retired top general Yoav Galant, a 35-year Israeli army veteran, entered politics from the centrist Kulanu Party, known as hawkish on security issues.

Galant, 64, is also known as staunch supporter of Jewish settlements in the occupied regions and formerly served as housing and construction minister. In 2019 he joined the six-time premier's Likud party.

Bezalel Smotrich

One of Israel’s most controversial figures, Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich has taken the finance ministry post.

Smotrich also got another ministerial post in the Defense Ministry with comprehensive administrative control over the occupied West Bank. He has the power to name the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT).

Despite his Wall Street Journal op-ed seeking to reassure that there will be no change in “the political or legal status of” the West Bank, the far-right Netanyahu ally is known as an ardent supporter of annexation of the entire West Bank.

Smotrich, 42, was born in the occupied Golan Heights and raised in another illegal settlement in the West Bank.

Aryeh Deri

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader assumed the Interior and Health Ministry portfolios in Israel’s hard-line government.

Deri, previously convicted of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, will assume the finance minister role in two years as part of a rotation deal with Bezalel Smotrich. In 2000 Deri was sent to prison for bribery and this year got a suspended sentenced for tax offenses.

In 1988, when he was just 29 years old, Deri was appointed interior minister without being elected to the Knesset. His appointment to the portfolio made him the country’s youngest minister ever.

He will also serve as deputy prime minister of Israel’s 37th government.

Itamar Ben-Gvir

Israel’s new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Strength Party, will serve in a ministerial portfolio for the first time in his political career.

One day after the Knesset passed into law a bill expanding his authority over the police, Ben-Gvir now has unprecedented power over police units, including the ones in the occupied West Bank.

Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians and has called for their displacement. He has repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem.

The far-right politician also stirred controversy in occupied East Jerusalem after setting up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Results of Palestine census will cause concern for Israel, analyst says


December 30, 2022

RAMALLAH: The results of a 2022 census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics will worry Israel’s leaders, according to a Palestinian political expert.

“Israelis are constantly concerned about Palestinian demographic superiority as they want control over the Palestinians … still, at the same time, they want a pure Jewish society,” Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News.

“The most important fact is that we are equal to the Jews in terms of demography,” he said.

The survey showed a high growth rate among Palestinians and that half of them were part of the diaspora living outside Palestine, he added.

The figures also indicate that Palestinian society is young, with more than a third of its population aged under 15.

Al-Khatib said Israel was unable to give up the West Bank for political reasons but also unable to annex it for demographic reasons, which constituted an embarrassment for Israel.

“There is a great contradiction between demographic aspects and democratic principles in Israel,” he said.

The survey shows that there are now about 14.3 million Palestinians around the world. Of those, 5.4 million are in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — an increase of 2.4 percent from the previous year — while 1.7 million are in Israel, 6.4 million in Arab countries and 761,000 elsewhere in the world.

It is expected that by the end of this year the number of Jews living in Israel and its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will be 7.1 million, or about the same number as there are Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Israel.

Israel, whose leaders reject the idea of Palestinians establishing an independent state, has always feared their becoming a majority.

A senior official at the statistics bureau, who asked not to be named, told Arab News that the survey’s key revelation was the demographic equality between the number of Jews living in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“The most important fact is that we are equal to the Jews in terms of demography and the high growth rate of Palestinians, and that half of Palestinians live in the diaspora outside Palestine,” the person said.

The survey shows that children aged 14 or under account for 38 percent of the population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while those aged 65 years and above represent just 3 percent in Palestine, 4 percent in the West Bank and 3 percent in the Gaza Strip.

It also shows that the average size of a Palestinian family dropped to five members in 2021, from six in 2010.

The survey also highlights the growing problem of unemployment, especially among young graduates. In the Gaza Strip, 45 percent of people of working age are jobless, with the figure standing at 14 percent in the West Bank.

The unemployment rate is 21 percent among men and 39 percent among women.

The survey shows that Israeli authorities destroyed 1,058 buildings — 353 of them residential properties — in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2022, the largest proportion of which (29 percent) were in the Jerusalem governorate.

Israel, meanwhile, is building hundreds of settlement units. At the end of 2018, there were more than 700,000 settlers living in 151 settlements on Palestinian lands in the West Bank.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, as of Monday, 224 Palestinians had been killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Source: Arab News

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Palestinians condemn ‘extremist’ Israeli government amid escalation in West Bank


December 30, 2022

RAMALLAH: Palestinian leaders have called on the international community and human rights groups to intervene to stop the ‘extremist’ Israeli government from escalating violence in the West Bank.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that it had warned previously that the new right-wing government in Israel would “escalate its crimes in an unprecedented manner against our people” and called for “unity at the highest levels to repel this aggression.”

The appeal came as the Israeli army targeted the Lions’ Den armed group with an attack in Nablus involving dozens of soldiers and armored vehicles on Friday.

The offensive took place hours after Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister, heading what analysts call the most right-wing government in the country’s history.

Violent clashes erupted as the Israeli military used drones to drop tear gas and the operation ended with the arrest of Ahmed Al-Masry, 17, a Lions’ Den member.

Ahmed Jibril, director of ambulance and emergency at the Red Crescent in Nablus, said that 35 people were injured during the storming of the city.

Two of those were shot by Israeli forces, he said, including a volunteer paramedic who was shot in the back and chest.

Jibril said that 25 people suffered the effects of tear gas, while one was hit on the head by a canister and suffered shrapnel injuries.

Taysir Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Nablus, told Arab News that the Israeli army’s use of overwhelming force to arrest a 17-year-old indicated the magnitude of the escalation that awaited Palestinians at the hands of the new Netanyahu government.

“We expect Nablus to witness more security escalations in the coming days, which will lead to more wounded, martyrs, and detainees,” he said, adding that Palestinians were ready to fight back.

“The youth who attacks an Israeli armored vehicle with a stone is fully aware that it will not harm it, but he is determined to impede the army and their security activities that target Palestinian resistance fighters.

"Just as 2022 was a bloody year during which 225 Palestinians were killed, we expect a hot, bloody winter after the advent of the Netanyahu government and his extremist gang of ministers.”

On Thursday night, the Israeli army handed over the body of a young man, Ammar Mufleh, who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier at point-blank range on Dec. 2 in the main Hawwara Street.

It fueled local and international anger, with Palestinian leaders describing his death as an execution.

Meanwhile Salah Hamouri, a Palestinian with French citizenship, criticized the failure of France and the Palestinian Authority to help after he was deported by Israel to France after being freed from jail about two weeks ago.

“I will keep struggling until I can return to my country Palestine,” Hamouri, a human rights lawyer, told Arab News from Paris.

Hamouri said he was considering approaching the international criminal court against the Israeli deportation decision, stating that it was a war crime.

He criticized the negligence of the French government and its lack of pressure on Israel to prevent his deportation, adding that no French official had spoken to him.

Hamouri told Arab News that the Israeli authorities had only told him he was being deported hours before being thrown out.

Source: Arab News

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Netanyahu cabinet facing opposition even from hawkish Zionists: Analyst

30 December 2022

Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, the most right-wing in the Israeli regime's history, is facing opposition even from regime officials in the occupied Palestinian territories who hold fascist views, according to a political commentator.

Sa’d Nimr, professor of political science at Birzeit University, made these remarks in an interview with Press Tv’s Spotlight program aired on Thursday.

In the past days, he said, many Israeli regime officials have protested against Netanyahu's cabinet and called it a sign of weakness in the political structure of this regime and warned that it could pose serious dangers to the regime's survival.

“Many Israelis start to think about leaving Israel because they's a kind of a regime that is hard for the Israelis themselves to deal with,” said Nimr.

“Netanyahu himself is a sick person who doesn't care about Israel, about Palestinians, about the whole world. The most important thing for him is to come back to the government, he doesn't care about [political] parties that he's having the coalition with."

In recent days, thousands of protesters staged a demonstration in the port city of Haifa in the Israeli-occupied territories against the regime's incoming right-wing administration led by Netanyahu.

The protesters and left-wing activists blocked roads near the center of Horev, marched with burning torches and chanted against the initiatives of the Likud political party and its partners.

The main focus of the demonstration was a series of controversial bills that would give the right-wing coalition more power over the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, and police policies.

“It's horrifying. The whole world will stand against them because the Palestinians by the end of the day have the right by international law to resist the occupation but being there he wanted to do the execution of the Palestinians when they act actively against the occupation," Nimr said.

Netanyahu has pledged to approve a law that will sanction the death penalty for all Palestinians, especially those lodged in prisons.

“It’s not only the execution but also he's promising on the other hand to make the life of the Palestinian prisoners like hell.”

Netanyahu, 73, who is facing corruption charges in court, told the Knesset that his top goal would be to thwart Iran's nuclear program and “ensure Israel's military superiority in the region.”

He also voiced hopes of expanding the circle of normalization with Arab countries following US-brokered agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

Opponents heckled him with chants of "Weak! Weak!". They said Netanyahu had to make costly deals to secure new partners after centrist parties boycotted him over his legal woes.

“Netanyahu’s cabinet is the real face of Israel. Israel is a colonialist regime, a racist regime, which is based on hatred and violence," Nimr added.

Netanyahu was ousted in June 2021 by a motley coalition of leftists, centrists and Arab parties headed by right-winger Naftali Bennett and former TV news anchor Yair Lapid. It didn't take him long to come back.

Following his November 1 election win, Netanyahu entered into talks with ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties.

His allies include the Religious Zionism formation and Jewish Power Party, whose leaders Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir oppose Palestinian statehood and both have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

Smotrich will now take charge of Israeli settlement expansion policies in the West Bank, and Ben-Gvir will be the national security minister with powers over the police, which also operate in the occupied territories since 1967.

Senior security officials have already voiced concern over the new Israeli administration’s direction, as have Palestinians.

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir “have a very strong thirst for power,” and their priority remains the expansion of West Bank settlements, Denis Charbit, professor of political science at Israel's Open University, said.

Source: Press TV

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Arab World


Al Azhar plays key, pivotal role towards Egyptian Muslim families abroad: minister

December 30, 2022

Minister of State for Emigratio and Egyptian Expatriates’ Affairs SohaGendy has underscored Al Azhar’s key, pivotal role towards Egyptian Muslim families abroad, especially amid the existence of different cultures and extremist groups that may affect some weak minds and easily influenced people.

Gendy added that she has discussed with Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed elTayyeb some issues of interest for Egyptian expats, foremost of which are the family ones emanating from their move to external societies of different cultures.

The minister made the remarks as she received Al Azhar imam’s adviser on foreign students affairs Nahla elSaeedy.

The meeting touched on means of fostering bilateral cooperation, with the emigration minister praising Al Azhar imam for appointing Saeedy as his adviser; to be the first woman ever to hold such a post at Al Azhar.

Source: Egypt Independent

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Attack blamed on IS kills 12 oil workers in Syria

December 31, 2022

BEIRUT: An attack in eastern Syria killed 12 oil field workers, a war monitor said on Friday, a day after Syrian Kurdish-led forces announced an offensive against militants.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which draws on extensive sources inside Syria, gave the toll of 12 dead in the assault near an oil field west of Deir Ezzor.

It blamed cells linked to the militant Islamic State (IS) group. The militants have previously carried out attacks in the area, and a similar deadly assault took place last year.

Syria’s state news agency SANA gave a toll of 10 dead in the “terrorist attack that targeted three buses transporting workers” from al Taim oil field, which is under Syrian government control.

Despite the defeat of its “caliphate” in Syria by US-backed Kurdish forces nearly four years ago, IS continues to claim attacks in Syria and across the border in Iraq.

“The attack began with explosive devices that went off as the buses drove by, and then the group’s militants shot at them,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

On Thursday the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had begun an offensive against IS, following a recent assault on a prison in Raqa, northwest of the attack on the bus.

Source: Dawn

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Security staff and marine boats: Dubai gears up to man New Year’s celebrations

31 December ,2022

Thousands of staff are gearing up to man Dubai’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, including security guards, volunteers and fire and rescue services, state press agency WAM reported on Friday.

Dubai will host a number of celebrations to ring in the end of 2022 and welcome 2023 including its famed fireworks displays, concerts and parties taking place across the emirate from the Burj Khalifa, to JBR, to the Palm.

In a bid to manage celebrations, authorities will deploy more than 10,500 staff including 5,800 security guards and 1,420 volunteers, Major General SaifMuhair al Mazrouei of Dubai police said at a press conference, WAM reported.

Al Mazrouei, the acting assistant commandant for operations affairs at Dubai Police, said there will also be more than 3,600 security patrols and vehicles as well as 45 marine boats across the 30 locations where celebrations and fireworks will take place.

In a bid to ensure maximum protection for spectators, the “Dubai Civil Defence carried out several evacuation drills with various strategic partners at event sites to ensure the safety, protection and happiness of the public,” Ali Hassan Al Mutawa, assistant director general of Dubai Civil Defense for Fire and Rescue, said at Friday’s press conference.

A number of streets including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard The Lower Deck of the Financial Centre Road and Al Sukook Street ill also close early in the evening as well as Dubai Mall metro station.

NYE fireworks in Dubai

Burj Khalifa - the tallest building on the planet – will be at the center of celebrations with onlookers to experience a cutting-edge laser light and fireworks show to illuminate the famed facade, with the Dubai Fountain at the building’s base earmarked to dance in sync with the show.

Residents can also be dazzled by night with the sparkles and glitters of a huge, organized display at The Beach, opposite JBR and Bluewaters, where visitors and residents can await the DSF Drones Light Show.

Global Village on December 31 will mark the New Year aligned with different time zones of the countries that have a presence at the fair.

At The Pointe, visitors will be able to catch the fireworks at Atlantis, the Palm; Palm West Beach and Club Vista Mare, plus be treated to a cool fountain show, live entertainment and plenty of dining options.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia is all set to welcome the new year with fine food, fireworks and live music

December 30, 2022

ALULA/ ALKHOBAR/ DIRIYAH/ RIYADH/ JEDDAH: It’s time to ring in New Year 2023 with style! Cities across the Kingdom have prepared a wide variety of events for the occasion, with restaurants and hotels offering a plethora of dining options and live musical performances.

The Arab News team has highlighted a few places across the Kingdom where you can celebrate with friends and family like never before.


The ancient city of AlUla has transformed from a historic remnant to the hottest new holiday destination in Saudi Arabia, and today, the city is buzzing with options for New Year’s celebrations.

Winter at Tantoura, the Kingdom’s first annual winter music and culture festival, has returned for a fourth edition with a host of festive experiences.

Visitors can usher in New Year at the Kingdom’s first roller rink at the open-air “AlUla on Wheels,” with a dance experience curated by Swizz Beats alongside the region’s hottest performers, and explore the heart of AlJadidah, a lively cultural hub.

Another must-try for those new to the city is Habitas, a luxury resort that is one of the key hotspots of AlUla. Whether guests are staying in an eclectic caravan or in one of the villa options, they are met with a picturesque view of the mountainous terrain.

The site offers endless leisurely activities, such as unique dining experiences, music performances and wellness activities. Art lovers can walk through the interactive Desert X artworks including artist Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim’s vibrant “Falling Stones Garden” or Manal Al-Dowayan’s “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” puddle installation.

Visitors can also stargaze as the clock strikes midnight at the resort. Driven to the secluded Gharameel area, groups and individuals are encouraged to connect constellations under AlUla’s night sky, free of light and air pollution.

Mamzel will be offering a luxurious New Year’s dinner in AlUla’s hidden canyons for a chance to experience Spanish culture. Straight from Marbella, the restaurant will be holding live entertainment shows for diners as they feast on a set menu for SR600 ($160) per person for extended hours on Dec. 31.

Alfa’s Lounge, the city’s newest hangout spot, is another great option to prime your palette for New Year. The hidden establishment dazzles with its desert scenery and fairy light-like ambiance under the stars. 

If an active lifestyle is on your 2023 resolutions list, AlUla’s adventure and outdoor experiences are the perfect opportunities to kickstart the journey to your fitness goals. Visitors can take an eight-hour Twisted Maze hike, trek through the Hidden Valley, cycle across the city’s sand dunes or get their hearts pumping with activities like ziplining, abseiling or rock climbing.

Winter at Tantoura’s celebrations don’t end with New Year. AlUla visitors will be tempted to walk the Incense Road in the area’s Old Town, lined with both heritage attractions and innovative activities, or indulge in a night of storytelling, historical lore of the Nabataean era, and carriage rides at Hegra after dark.

Shoppers are welcome to sample the exclusive items of the Ashar Valley Fashion event, featuring distinctive luxury pop-up stores from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., with required ticket bookings in advance.

The city’s first-ever food festival, Flavors of AlUla, brings international cuisines to locals, as well as myriad masterclasses by the food industry’s finest, palate-testing activities and food stalls. The festival, launched on Thursday, will conclude on Jan. 14.

Legendary Saudi musician Mohammed Abdo will hold a concert at the world’s largest mirrored architectural wonder, Maraya Music Hall. The opportunity to secure another fine dining booking at the venue’s restaurant, Maraya Social, is also available.


When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 in Sharqiya, what’s a better way to celebrate than to fill a cup with Saudi champagne and indulge in a great meal among loved ones? Sakana House at the Grand Hyatt Khobar promises to offer a fine time.

With a fun countdown to midnight, a “fire show” and interactive sushi stations, visitors will have a fully immersive experience to work up an appetite.

The Sakana House Asian restaurant has been an elegant eatery since it opened its doors. While it has hosted a New Year’s Eve festivity before, this year, customers will enjoy a live DJ live musical performance by flutist Anastasia and DJ Vika.

Diners will start with a special selection of tantalizing dishes, including manchow soup, creamy and spicy shrimp salad, black pepper beef, crispy fish and egg-fried rice. For dessert, sphere enchocolat with raspberry jam and mango milk is on the list. Fresh seasonal fruit planners will be available all around, and hot and cold beverages are all-inclusive.

John Paulo Francisco Mendoza, the restaurant manager, told Arab News: “This Dec. 31, Sakana House invites you to a new era of superior Asian cuisine.”

The experience can be enjoyed at SR320 per person, and operating hours are between 9:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.


Those looking forward to celebrating New Year’s Eve in Riyadh will also have plenty of fine-dining options, music concerts and firework shows to savor.

Mega concert “Trio Arabic Night” will take place on Dec. 31 in Boulevard Riyadh City at the Mohammed Abdo Arena.

The concert features some of the biggest music artists from around the Arab world such as Nancy Ajram, Elissa, AsalaNasri, Najwa Karam, Angham, Latifa, Nawal Al-Zoghbi, SaberRebai, Wael Kfoury, Assi El-Hallani, Bahaa Sultan and Waleed Tawfeek.

Fireworks will light up the sky as the countdown to New Year begins at Boulevard Riyadh City.

Here are some dining options to ring in New Year in the capital.

Billionaire Riyadh is hosting a night full of engaging entertainment and music performances with a taste of eclectic Asian-Italian cuisine.

Coya Riyadh is offering its guests an exclusive set menu that reflects the vibrant, bold choices of Latin American fare.

Critically acclaimed contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan is calling its New Year’s Eve celebration “Sakura Sky,” with a set menu and live DJ music.

Italian cuisine enthusiasts can hop over to Villa Signor Sassi or to Cipriani, which is serving classic Italian dishes during its “Grand Venetian Gala.” 


Tucked away in the northwestern region of Riyadh is Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was also the first capital of the Saudi dynasty.

It was recently opened to the public after a little over a decade post-redevelopment. For New Year’s Eve, visitors can spend time walking around mudbrick buildings and a restored palace that once housed the Al-Saud dynasty to learn about the country’s history and its ruling family.

They can also experience modern-day luxury in the form of high-end eateries, hotels, shopping outlets and state-of-the-art infrastructure.

The Bujairi Terrace — featuring over 20 restaurants, including international ones like Angelina Paris, Sarabeth’s and Villa Mamas, or local brands like SUGAR, GRIND and TAKYA — offers diners a wide variety to choose from.

Just 15 minutes away from Riyadh, Diriyah is easy to access for residents of the capital.


From lavish dinners at fine restaurants, parties at beachfront hotels and rooftop soirees to stargazing in desert camps, Jeddah has it all to make New Year’s celebrations as memorable as possible.

If you are looking for fancy food in a posh environment, Shang Palace restaurant offers a set menu option complete with sparkling beverages to enjoy alongside live music. The experience will start at 6 p.m. and will last till midnight. 

Guests also have an a la carte option with a complimentary beverage upon arrival and will be presented with gifts as a gesture of good wishes for the coming year.

The Quarter restaurant at the Swissotel Living Jeddah also offers memorable dining in a chic atmosphere. Guests are treated to a live DJ performance and are spoiled for dining choices with a massive buffet.

The event starts at 7 p.m. and runs until 2 a.m., allowing guests ample time to enjoy everything the place has to offer.

A countdown will also be held at The Quarter restaurant and at the rooftop NEST lounge so that guests can enjoy the view of the city. 

Obo Beach house restaurant at the Yacht Club has also organized special events to entertain guests with a perfect ambiance and sea view. The menu will offer an array of appetizing dishes and plenty of main courses including seafood, chicken and meat options.

Party in Asian style at Dabao restaurant, where you can enjoy an amazing Asian fusion dinner with a live DJ performance. To top it all off, deserts are on the house!

Noug Cafe and Jazz Bar, Noun and Kabana are also among the many restaurants in the city that are offering a variety of gastronomic experiences and live music all through the night.

Jeddah is home to some of the most beautiful properties and is offering seasonal discounts for anyone wishing to wake up to 2023 in the embrace of comfort and luxury.

Bay La Sun and VIEWS residences at the King Abdullah Economic City allow guests access to the private beach and an array of food options from the buffet at the Seasons Restaurant.

Source: Arab News

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Riyadh Season launches humanitarian drive for children

December 31, 2022

RIYADH: Riyadh Season 2022, in conjunction with the National Environment Recycling Company (Tadweer), launched a community initiative called Donate Your Toy and Make Another, inviting children to donate old or new toys and build a new item of their choice.

The initiative comes as part of the Riyadh Toy Festival and aims to impart the spirit of giving, solidarity and cooperation to today’s generation and tomorrow’s builders.

Filled with fun and creativity, the initiative lets children explore a new world in the toy industry while bringing joy to the less fortunate.

Children can enjoy making their favorite toy by themselves, following specific steps with the help of guides available at the festival. To make a new toy, children first donate a preloved toy in a designated box and begin the process of making a new toy through available machines.

Organizers allocate tables for each child to help them make their personalized toys. The initiative also allows parents to watch their children make a difference and celebrate the virtue of giving.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi leaders offer condolences to Indian PM after death of his mother

December 31, 2022

RIYADH: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday offered condolences to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the death of his mother, the Saudi Press Agency.

Heeraben Modi had been in hospital since Wednesday, according to Indian media.

Source: Arab News

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12 oil workers killed in Daesh terror attack in eastern Syria

December 30, 2022

JEDDAH: Daesh fighters killed 12 oil workers in an attack on Friday near an oil field west of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, a day after Syrian Kurdish-led forces launched an offensive against the terror group.

Syrian authorities said the attack targeted three buses transporting workers from Al-Taim oil field, which is under Damascus regime control.

“The attack began with explosive devices that went off as the buses drove by, and then the group’s militants shot at them,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group in the UK with extensive sources inside Syria.

Despite the defeat of its so-called caliphate by US-backed Kurdish forces nearly four years ago, Daesh continues to claim attacks in Syria and across the border in Iraq.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces launched a new offensive against Daesh on Thursday, following a recent militant attack on a prison in Raqqa, northwest of the attack on the bus.

It said it had arrested 52 Daesh “mercenaries and facilitators” in residential areas on the first day of the operation.

The SDF, which regularly launches attacks against the militants, said its latest offensive aimed to eliminate Daesh from areas that had been “the source of the recent terrorist attacks.”

In addition to the thwarted Raqqa prison attack, the SDF said Daesh fighters had recently carried out eight assaults in the Deir Ezzor area, Hasakeh and the Al-Hol camp for displaced people, which houses family members of Daesh militants.

On Monday, the SDF said six Kurdish fighters were killed when Daesh attacked a security complex in Raqqa, the militants’ former de facto capital in Syria, in an attempt to free imprisoned terrorists.

It said Daesh was trying to “take advantage” of recent Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.

Source: Arab News

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Ten workers killed in militant attack near oil field in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr

30 December 2022

Nearly a dozen workers were killed in Syria’s northeastern province of Dayr al-Zawr after militants attacked three buses transporting the workers in an oil-rich area controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the terrorist attack took place on Friday as vehicles transporting workers from the al-Taim oil field came under attack. Two oil workers were also wounded in the incident.

SANA did not provide any information on the nature of the assault in the SDF-held area or who may be behind it, but a British-based war monitor said remnants of Daesh Takfiri terrorist group carried out the attack near the oil field.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) recorded 12 fatalities, adding that several people were wounded.

“The attack began with explosive devices that went off as the buses drove by, and then the group’s militants shot at them,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the SOHR, told AFP news agency.

The attack comes days after talks were held in Moscow between oil ministers from Syria, Russia and Turkey.

The meeting helped to thaw relations between Ankara and Damascus after the outbreak of the foreign-sponsored Syrian conflict more than a decade ago had raised tensions.

Back on December 2 last year, ten Syrians were killed and at least one wounded in an attack on an oil field near Dayr al-Zawr city, which lies on the Euphrates River to the east of the country.

According to the SOHR, an explosive device targeted a bus transporting workers in the al-Kharrata oil field, situated roughly 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) southwest of Dayr al-Zawr.

SANA also confirmed the casualty numbers at the time.

Security conditions have been deteriorating in the areas controlled by the US-led SDF in Syria’s northern and northeastern provinces of Raqqah, Hasakah, and Dayr al-Zawr amid ongoing raids and arrests of civilians by the US-sponsored militants.

Locals argue that the SDF’s constant raids and arrest campaigns have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihoods.

Residents accuse the US-backed militants of stealing crude oil and failing to spend money on service sectors.

Source: Press TV

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Three US-backed SDF militants shot dead amid ongoing protests in northern Syria

30 December 2022

At least three US-sponsored militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been shot dead by a group of unidentified assailants in Syria’s northern province of Raqqa, amid ongoing protests in the area against US occupation forces and their allies.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported that the incident occurred on the outskirts of Jadeed al-Kahit village, east of the provincial capital city of Raqqa, on Thursday when armed men riding a motorcycle approached a checkpoint manned by SDF militants and shot at them indiscriminately.

Local authorities cordoned off the area after the shooting attack and launched a manhunt to capture those responsible.

Meanwhile, people in Syria’s northeastern province of Dayr al-Zawr have staged protests against the SDF militants, renewing demands for their expulsion from the area.

According to Russia’s Sputnik news agency, sporadic clashes broke out between locals and the Kurdish-led militants in the rural Granich area of the province, after a villager was fatally shot by armed men affiliated with the SDF.

The report added that locals also demonstrated against SDF forces, blocking roads with burning tires and chanting slogans calling for the militants’ expulsion and an end to the US occupation of the region.

Security conditions have been deteriorating in the areas controlled by the US-led SDF in Syria’s northern and northeastern provinces of Raqqah, Hasakah, and Dayr al-Zawr amid ongoing raids and arrests of civilians by the US-sponsored militants.

Locals argue that the SDF’s constant raids and arrest campaigns have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihoods.

Residents accuse the US-backed militants of stealing crude oil and failing to spend money on service sectors.

Source: Press TV

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Allah Severe In Penalty – Imam Warns Muslims Imitating Western Marriages

December 30, 2022

By Wale Odunsi

The Chief Imam of Area 10 Garki Mosque, Yahya Al-Yolawi has chided Muslims imitating western styles of weddings and other ceremonies.

The cleric, during his sermon on ‘Innovations in Islamic Marriage’ on Friday in Abuja, warned that Allah is severe in punishment.

NAN quoted Yolawi stating that Islam is very clear on the activities that are lawful and forbidden.

He said current “creations and additions” were not originally found in Islam or from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

The religious leader listed such unIslamic activities as unlawful things, western styles, bad cultures and traditions.

Others are “unnecessary delay of marriage in the name of colleges and university studies; waiting for a ready-made husband or wife; reckless spendings and display of class and status”.

Yolawi insists what some Muslims practice in recent years negate Islamic teachings, discourage those intending to marry, promote hardship, immoralities and adultery.

The Imam demands that the problem be addressed by the youth, parents, royal fathers, religious and community leaders and other stakeholders.

“We need to educate ourselves on the true Islamic teachings in marriage, starting from the process of getting married on the wedding day, and what follows after that.

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

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Mali sentences 46 Ivorian soldiers to 20 years in prison; death in absentia given to 3

Aurore Bonny


DOUALA, Cameroon

Forty-six Ivorian soldiers in Mali were each sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison by a Malian court for attacking the security of the nation.

Three others who were previously released were given the death penalty in absentia.

The soldiers also received fines of more than $1,600 apiece following two days of hearings, according to the ruling signed by public prosecutor Ladji Sara.

They were convicted of "attacking and plotting against the government", "undermining the external security of the state,” and "possession, carrying and transporting weapons and munitions of war or defense."

Their intent was "to disturb public order by intimidation or terror," said the prosecutor who sentenced them to pay a symbolic franc.

A total of 49 soldiers were detained in July following their arrest at the airport in Bamako for possessing war weapons. Authorities accused them of being mercenaries.

The Ivorian government had claimed they were on a mission for the UN.

Among them were three female soldiers who were released in September. They were given the death penalty in absentia on Friday and ordered to pay more than $10 million in fines.

A West African bloc of 15 nations had previously given Mali an ultimatum to release the soldiers by January.

An agreement between the Malian and Ivorian authorities was reached Dec. 22 for their release.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Niger detains suspected Libyan people smuggler: French police

December 31, 2022

PARIS: Niger has arrested a Libyan suspected of smuggling thousands of migrants through the Sahel country toward Europe after a joint probe with the French and Spanish authorities, French police said on Friday.

The 29-year-old, who was detained on Dec. 20 in the Nigerien city of Agadez, told investigators he had overseen the departure of “60 migrants per week for seven years,” said Jean-Christophe Hilaire of the International Security Cooperation Directorate at the French Interior Ministry.

Pickup trucks had driven the migrants — most from Nigeria or Cameroon — to the border with Algeria or war-torn Libya for a fee of €1,500 to €2,000 ($1,600 to 2,100), he said.

The suspect is now being held in the capital Niamey, Hilaire said.

The EU-funded operation had been carried out with the help of three French and three Spanish policemen.

Many West African migrants try to reach Libya in the hope of making it across the Mediterranean to a better life in Europe.

They typically flock to the Nigerien city of Agadez, where smugglers offer to take them onwards to the Libyan border.

The government in Niamey adopted a law in 2015 to make migrant smuggling a crime, with sentences of up to 30 years in prison.

But a Nigerien security source has said the measure had only pushed smugglers to use “new, more dangerous routes.”

Source: Arab News

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2023: Miyetti Allah endorses Tinubu

December 30, 2022

By Ochogwu Sunday

Miyetti Allah KautalHore, a Fulani socio-cultural group on Friday, endorsed Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The group also endorsed the Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, for a second term.

National president of the group, Alh. Abdullahi Bello Bodejo made this known during a press briefing on Friday.

According to him, the endorsement followed the track records of the two APC candidates in the offices they had occupied in the past.

The Miyetti Allah president also said that Gov Sule of Nasarawa had given priority to security and created an enabling environment for the Fulani people and farmers in the last three years of his administration.

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

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Interior Ministry reviews firings of alleged Gulen supporters by Muslim minority mayor


Interior Minister Makis Voridis has intervened to ascertain the legality of the decision by a mayor in Rodopi, northeastern Greece to fire workers accused of being supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a self-exiled cleric and preacher that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused of masterminding a coup attempt in 2016.

Iasmos Mayor Oder Mumin also called for the resignation of municipal officials and elected officials who are involved or associated “with the global terrorist organization FETO” – the acronym assigned by Turkey to the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization.”


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France must get rid of its 'colonizer complex': Algerian president



ALGIERS, Algeria

The Algerian president has said "France must get rid of its colonizer complex," according to local media.

"The relations between the two countries need -- in order to cool down -- France to liberate itself from its colonizer complex and Algeria from its colonized complex," AbdelmadjidTebboune told the French daily Le Figaro in an interview on Thursday.

He added that the image of Algeria must change as "the country is far more different than what it was in 1962."

The Algerian leader announced his plans for an official visit to Paris in 2023, and said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron "is the incarnation of a new generation that can save the relations between the two countries."

Tebboune also noted the need to "depoliticize and leave to history certain parts of the colonization," justifying the decision to set up commissions of historians on both sides.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Albanian court upholds extradition of fugitive crypto exchange founder to Türkiye

Talha Ozturk 



The Durres Court of Appeals in Albania upheld a decision to extradite to Türkiye the founder of the crypto exchange Thodex.

Faruk Fatih Ozer, 27, the founder of Thodex, sought on charges of fraud and founding a criminal organization, fled Türkiye last year and left investors unable to get their funds.

Türkiye issued an international arrest warrant after he fled with a reported $2 billion in money investors poured into Thodex.

In November this year, the Elbasan Court of First Instance decided the extradition of Ozer, who was arrested in Albania in August.

On Dec. 7, he filed a petition to the Durres Court of Appeals against the extradition ruling.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Activist Moradi’s death in France shakes distressed members of Iranian diaspora

December 31, 2022

PARIS: When a 38-year-old man anguished over the protests in Iran took his own life in the French city of Lyon, fellow members of the Iranian diaspora felt his pain.

Three months into the anti-regime protests, Iranians abroad are going through a spectrum of emotions.

Activists and counselors hope Mohammed Moradi’s desperate act this week inspires others to reach out for help and to raise awareness of what is happening in Iran.

In videos in Farsi and French recorded before his death, Moradi criticized Iran’s leadership and called for solidarity from Western governments against it. The recordings featured him saying, “When you see this video, I will be dead.”

The Iranian Kurdish man arrived in France in 2019 with his wife and was pursuing a PhD in history.

His death on Monday resonated near and far.

Other Iranians in the Lyon region, activists and friends brought flowers and candles to the site where he died in what police were investigating as an an apparent suicide.

Many members of the Iranian diaspora have experienced distress since the unprecedented protests began, sparked by the death of 22-year-old MahsaAmini in Iranian police custody in September.

Police had detained Amini for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

“Mohammed Moradi is the image of all of us, what we live today, as the Iranian diaspora across the world,” HengamehYahyazadeh, said the lead organizer of solidarity protests against Iran’s clerics in the French city of Toulouse.

Moradi’s Instagram profile tells of a person interested in literature, poetry and politics.

Like many Iranians abroad, he took to Instagram to relay messages criticizing the regime’s clerical rule, chronicling his participation in demonstrations in Lyon, and expressing his indignation at the treatment of protesters in Iran.

The feeling is widespread.

“Some days I wake up and I’m scared,” Yahyazadeh said.

“I have a dozen friends in Iranian prisons, I’m scared of knowing how I will face the possible news that one of my friends was executed.”

Since the start of the protests, at least 507 protesters have been killed and more than 18,500 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists, a group in Iran that has closely monitored the unrest.

Iranian authorities have not released figures for those killed or arrested.

A dozen people are also facing the death penalty for their involvement in the protests.

Hanae El-Bakkali, a psychotherapist who heads a France-based organization that works with migrants, says the news from back home has caused many Iranians in the diaspora to experience “decompensation,” a psychological state that results from being unable to process stressful events.

“When important events are happening back home, it reactivates past trauma, it pressurizes parts that are buried, that one thought they left on the side but actually didn’t,” said El-Bakkali told the AP.

“People relive what they experienced back home through flashbacks. They can have nightmares, looping thoughts, trouble sleeping, memory issues, anxious and depressive symptoms, and might harm themselves.”

As a result, those who become militant abroad “advocate with a deteriorated psychological state,” El-Bakkali said.

A prominent Iranian Kurdish activist in London, Halaleh Taheri, hopes Moradi’s death will encourage those experiencing distress to come together and to get involved politically.

“His name is with all of the people lost in the revolution,” said Taheri, who took part in the 1979 revolution against the shah of Iran and then fought against the clerics’ rule before she had to go into exile.

She is the founder of MEWS, a London-based charity advocating for the rights of women from the Middle East in the UK.

“I am hoping that in the future, instead of sacrificing blood and ourselves and our life, we just fight against the Iranian regime by helping each other, uniting, showing solidarity, working in groups, in networks, raising awareness about Iran,” Taheri said.

“The country needs us as well,” she said.

Source: Arab News

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British-Palestinian doctor says he was set up by MI5

December 30, 2022

LONDON: A British-Palestinian doctor has said an MI5 agent tried to ensnare him as part of a plan to arrest multiple members of the New Irish Republican Army.

IssamHijjawiBassalat, 65, a doctor and political activist, was arrested in August 2020 at Heathrow Airport in London for alleged involvement with Saoradh, considered the political wing of the Irish terrorist group.

He claims to have been set up by Dennis McFadden, an undercover MI5 operative, after McFadden drove him to an “army council” meeting at a rented house in Northern Ireland in July 2020.

Bassalat, who worked for the National Health Service in Scotland since 2010 as an ophthalmologist, said he was asked by McFadden to speak at a public meeting in 2020 in Belfast after the doctor was told he would need to travel to the Northern Irish capital from his home in Scotland to collect a new UK passport for his daughter.

But on the day of the meeting, Bassalat, who said he previously attended Saoradh public meetings to discuss non-violent and democratic political change, claims to have been driven out of the city to the secluded site to meet a handful of individuals who, it is believed, included New IRA members.

“It is clear he was lured to Belfast on a false pretence. For a prolonged period, Dennis McFadden persuaded him to come to meetings, kept in contact with him on visits to Scotland and finally brought him into the middle of an MI5 undercover operation,” Bassalat’s lawyer Gavin Booth told The Times.

“Despite this attempted entrapment, Dr.Bassalat only spoke to the meeting about the need for peaceful and democratic change. He did not speak in support of violence or terrorism.”

Prosecution lawyers argue that Bassalat had been in regular contact with members of the New IRA for years, and had discussed ways of establishing links with other paramilitary groups around the world.

Bassalat lost his license to practice medicine in the UK following his arrest, and the father of four has been forced to live off state benefits since he was released from custody from Maghaberry prison near Belfast following a heart attack, where he had been remanded on charges of assisting a terrorist organization.

Nine members of Saoradh were arrested in Northern Ireland on the same day as Bassalat was detained in London.

Source: Arab News

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Four Police Officials Injured In Militant Attack On Dera Ismail Khan Check Post

December 31, 2022

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Four policemen were injured when a group of terrorists attacked a checkpost with rockets and grenades in Kulachi tehsil here on Friday, an official said.

District police spokesman Yaqoob Shah told Dawn that an unknown number of militants stormed the Takwarracheckpost early in the morning. He said the police personnel retaliated the attack, and after an intense exchange of fire, the militants escaped the scene.

The spokesman said that four policemen sustained injuries during the exchange of fire.

“About 17 to 18 rocket-propelled grenades and about 25 to 27 hand grenades were used by militants in the attack,” the police spokesman said, adding the police had also launched a search operation in the area.

Soon after the incident, district police officer Mohammad Shoaib Khan and DSP Saddar circle Hafiz Mohammad Adnan arrived at the site and supervised the search operation.

On Thursday, a search and strike operation was conducted in the same Takwarra area, in which six suspects were held along with an SMG rifle, a pistol and 20 cartridges.

On December 25, militants had attacked a mobile van of the Kulachi police station in the same Takwarra area, and also attempted to blow up an armoured personnel carrier of the police with an improvised explosive device.

Separately, two labourers were killed in a firing incident in Qayyum Nawaz Colony of the city, an official said on Friday.

A Cantonment police official said that two labourers, namely Amanullah and Mohammad Arshad, residents of Dhotar area of Paharpur, were fatally attacked by unknown persons when they were digging a plot to build a house.

Source: Dawn

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Rival parties term MQM factions’ merger ‘political engineering’

Imran Ayub

December 31, 2022

KARACHI: As the merger of factions of the MuttahidaQaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) almost looks certain, rival parties have called it a work of ‘political engineering’ devised by the ‘powers that be’ and being executed by former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari.

The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-i-Islami strongly criticised the ‘political manoeuvring’ wondering over the leaders of the different MQM factions who had ‘agreed to sell’ their ideology due to their fast receding popularity.

PTI’s parliamentary party leader in the Sindh Assembly Khurram Sher Zaman called the MQM “a relic of the past” and said that the recent meetings at Governor House for the merger of its factions were nothing but a ‘drama’.

“The existence of the MQM in Karachi has become a relic of the past,” he said in a statement.

“The recent meetings in Governor House are nothing but a political drama. The MQM caused most damage to the people of Karachi in the past. The party had made the city a living hell and everyone is well aware of its crimes. It’s not very long ago when Dr Farooq Sattar was questioning Wasim Akhtar that where he had spent Karachi’s money as city mayor.”

PTI, JI see involvement of ‘powers that be’, former president Zardari

He said the MQM leaders used to call each other ‘evil’ and over the past five years their politics had been badly exposed which was rejected by the people of Karachi.

The political situation in Karachi today without MQM, he said, was much better than the past.

“Imran Khan lives in the hearts of the people of Karachi. The PTI will wipe out all these political parties in the upcoming elections. Mohajirs know that the so-called leaders of the MQM are not their true representatives,” said Mr Zaman.

Jamaat-i-Islami Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman described the attempt to merge MQM factions as “a Zardari-Tessori move” spotting the two who brokered the deal between various factions and splinter groups of the party saying it would ultimately benefit the PPP.

“Merger among various factions of a political party is the right of a party, but the unnatural forced merger of various groups of the MQM was a different case,” he told a press conference.

“Asif Ali Zardari and Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori are brokering a deal for the merger and their active involvement exposes the nefarious agenda behind the scheme. This merger, though, is bound to reverse in near future.”

He said that the political move was played to plunder the resources of the economic hub of the country.

He added that the next step, if the merger took place, would be depriving Karachiites of a very bright future, due rights, development and progress only for the sake of monetary benefits and perks to a few key leaders of the MQM and the PPP leadership.

He claimed that key officials at the K-Electric and some retired officers were playing nefarious roles under the Zardari-Tessori doctrine.

Source: Dawn

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Turkish Navy Ship conducts naval drills with Pakistan Navy

December 30, 2022

KARACHI: The Turkish Navy Ship TCG BURGAZADA on Friday visited Karachi Port and participated in bilateral naval Exercise TURGUTREIS – VII.

The Turkish ship port was earlier called Karachi harbour and was welcomed by senior officers of the Pakistan Navy along with officials of the Turkiye Consulate, a Pakistan Navy news release said.

During the stay at port, the Commanding Officer of the Turkish Ship called on Commander Pakistan Fleet and matters of mutual interest and bilateral collaboration were discussed.

In port activities, joint professional interactions including the planning of bilateral exercises at sea, tabletop discussions on professional topics, sports & social events including a wreath laying at the Mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam were conducted with an aim to strengthen mutual cooperation and integration between the two navies.

On completion of the port visit, Pakistan Navy and Turkish Naval ship participated in bilateral Exercise TURGUTREIS-VII and conducted joint patrolling in the North Arabian Sea to further hone professional skills and enhance interoperability.

The exercise comprised of various naval operations including defence against Asymmetric Attacks, Visit Board Search & Seizure (VBSS), Air Defence Exercises, and Joint Coordinated Patrol.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan's provincial government in Balochistan bans protest, imposes curfew after clashes: Official

Dec 30, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's provincial government in Balochistan has banned protests and imposed a curfew in the port city of Gwadar after a policeman was killed in clashes with protestors during the week, an official statement said on Friday. Protesters linked with the Haq Do Tehreek (HDT) led by a cleric MualanaHidaytur Rehman have been demonstrating for nearly two months against illegal fishing by trawlers at the cost of local fishermen who have been dependent on the fish trade for generations for their livelihood.

The normally peaceful protests became violent this week when police tried to push them away, leading to clashes which resulted in the killing of a policeman on Tuesday.

Police spokesperson Aslam Khan said that constable Yasir was shot in the neck after violence erupted during the protest at the Hashmi Chowk and thereafter he passed away on the spot.

Balochistan Home Minister Mir ZiaullahLangove said that the provincial government already accepted all the demands of the HDT and there were no reasons for protests.

However, the protestors refused to go away, forcing the authorities on Thursday to impose Section 144 in the city, banning all sort of gathering for one month.

"Sit-ins and any other public gathering of over five people have been prohibited under Section 144. It also banned the display of all sorts of weapons," Balochistan's home ministry said in a statement.

The HDT has become popular in Gwadar as its demands like ending illegal fishing in Gwadar's water got immediate support.

Its other demands include ending some security checkpoints and opening up of trade on the Pak-Iran border have also resonated with the locals.

Source: Times Of India

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Islamabad LG elections: PTI begins mobilising voters as govt appeals IHC ruling

December 31, 2022

Despite orders from Islamabad High Court (IHC), staffers of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) remained “missing” from polling stations across the capital as residents came out of their houses to vote for their representatives, the PTI claimed on Saturday.

A day earlier, after a whirlwind of court proceedings, the IHC had instructed the ECP to hold Islamabad local government elections today (Dec 31).

The verdict, which was pronounced by IHC Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir on petitions filed by PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami, quashed the electoral body’s notification regarding the postponement of the polls.

In response to the development, an ECP official had told Dawn that it was “practically impossible” to hold an electoral exercise, even within Islamabad alone, on such short notice. Separately, the federal government had decided to file an intra-court appeal against the verdict.

On Saturday morning, learnt that the government and ECP have filed intra-court petitions against the verdict but their pleas have not yet been fixed for hearing.

Meanwhile, the PTI complained that voters had gathered outside polling stations in the city but the election staff was missing.

Party Chairman Imran Khan, in a tweet, said that by not implementing the IHC orders, the ECP had proven that it was a “B team of the imported government and its backers”.

“PDM, fearful of the people, is running away from all elections. The right to vote is a fundamental democratic norm and PTI stands committed to it,” he said.

Separately, in a video message earlier today, PTI General Secretary Asad Umar said his party’s teams were present outside polling stations since morning but no one from the electoral body showed up.

“This imported government is scared of people […] they run away whenever elections are held […] they make excuses,” he claimed, demanding why the ECP’s preparations were not complete.

“We want the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the election commission and throw them out,” Umar added.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry also urged the IHC to take action against the ECP.

“This government, along with its puppet election commission, is making a joke of the nation and the Constitution,” he tweeted.

On the other hand, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari said the ECP should immediately resign after “playing politics with holding elections”.

Federal govt files intra-court appeal

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Tariq Fazal Chaudhry has said that the federal government’s legal team arrived at the IHC earlier today and filed an intra-court appeal against yesterday’s verdict.

Talking to reporters in Islamabad, he said that the government respected court orders but it was not possible to hold local government elections in a day.

“We will follow whatever the next ruling of the court turns out to be,” Chaudhry added.

Talking about the “impracticality” of holding the polls, the PML-N leader explained that more than 20,000 people had to be mobilised for the exercise but all of them had gone on vacation.

Moreover, he said delimitations had to be carried out from the scratch after the increase in the number of union councils in Islamabad, which according to him would take nearly three to four months.

Chaudhry underlined that the Local Government Act 2015 had been amended, however, the president’s assent to it was still awaited.

He also called out the PTI for suspending local government bodies after coming to power in Punjab in 2018, despite the Supreme Court’s directives for the reinstatement of such bodies.

The PML-N leader claimed that the PTI had no performance in Islamabad and other parts of the country to seek votes from the masses.

IHC’s orders

The elections were earlier scheduled to be held on Dec 31. However, the federal government, earlier this month, increased the number of union councils (UCs) — from 101 to 125 — in the capital, effectively putting off the elections.

Following the decision, the ECP postponed the polls as they couldn’t have been held without fresh delimitations.

On Friday, the IHC not only quashed the federal government’s decision but also the subsequent ECP notification to postpone the polls. Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir also directed the federal government to facilitate the ECP in holding the polls.

In a detailed verdict issued today, the court said: “The Federal Government was aware of the schedule issued for the conduct of local bodies elections issued by the ECP.

“However, at fag end, issued the notification dated 19.12.2022 based on unconfirmed statistics / information provided by the Administrator MCI, in haste without realizing that elections are going to be held after twelve days.”

It pointed out that the federal government’s conduct over the matter was in conflict with the law, adding that the matter of holding elections lay with the ECP as per the Constitution.

“The Courts are under obligation to enforce the constitutional safeguards and preserve and protect the institutional imperatives of the ECP unless there is a case involving illegality or injury to the public interest. If the Provincial Government or the Federal Government overstepped its legislative or executive authority to make the local government powerless, such exercise would fall foul of Article 140A of the Constitution and liable to be struck down by the Court,” the IHC maintained.

Hence, it added, the ECP notification was not legally sustainable and was liable to be set aside.

The polls were expected to take place as per the announced schedule before the federal cabinet, on Dec 19, approved a summary to increase the number of UCs, leaving both the candidates and the ECP surprised.

Source: Dawn

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Swabi families seek govt help for youth stuck in Libya

December 31, 2022

SWABI: Four youth, who are being held in Libya by a group, need Rs5.6 million to be paid to their captors for their safe release, the aggrieved families told Dawn here on Friday.

Aamir Hayat, Waleed Khan, Bilal Khan and Afzal Junaid, aged between 22 to 25 years, belong to ManeriBala village.

Their family members claimed they had sold their land to finance their journey to Italy. They said they paid about Rs7.2 million to an agent, who assured to take the youth to Europe via Libya.

Saleh Hayat, a brother of Aamir Hayat, said: “We are not aware who was that agent, but we were lured and deceived with assurance that our relatives will reach Europe at any cost.”

However, he said when the youth reached the Libyan coast about three months ago they were held by the group and shifted to a so-called jail on the outskirts of Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

The families of the ill-fated youngsters said a few youths of the area had earlier succeeded to reach Europe, and the agent used that ‘success’ to attract the parents to pay according to his demand.

Saeedullah Jan, father of Bilal Khan, appealed to the Pakistani high commissioner in Libya to play his role in release of the four youngsters as they didn’t have enough money to get them freed from their captors.

They recalled that another four youth from Swabi, namely Haroon Khan, Uzair Khan, Shah Faisal and Naseem Khan, were burnt to death when their boat caught fire mid-sea in the first week of October when they set out on a journey to reach Italy.

Two weeks ago, only the body of Shah Faisal was brought here after great hardship and payment of huge money.

Meanwhile, Famid Khan of Pirtab village told Dawn that he had managed to get his son, Sohaib Khan, freed from his captors. He added he paid a total of Rs4.1 million on his son’s journey to Libya and back home.

Sohaib told Dawn that there were numerous groups, who had made their own jails, where they kept the people in tiny space, sometimes without food for days.

Source: Dawn

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Southeast Asia


Indonesia lifts all coronavirus-related restrictions

30 December ,2022

Almost three years after officials announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Indonesia, the country’s leader said Friday they are lifting all coronavirus-related restrictions nationwide.

President Joko Widodo said Indonesia’s COVID-19 situation is under control after observing improvements over the past 10 months, allowing the country to abandon the large-scale social restrictions on crowds and people’s movement it had adopted in April 2020.

However, Widodo called on people to remain careful and alert as “the pandemic has not ended completely.” He told a news conference at the presidential palace in the capital, Jakarta, that the use of masks in crowds and closed spaces should continue, though it wouldn’t be required.

During the pandemic, instead of implementing a nationwide lockdown, his administration applied two systems: PSBB, which refers to large-scale social restrictions, and then PPKM, a tiered system to curb public mobility. Both policies were critical in the government’s pandemic response.

The PSBB was first imposed in the world’s fourth-most populous nation in April 2020, a month after the first case was recorded, as a compromise to growing calls for a stringent lockdown. It was reworked into the emergency PPKM scheme in July 2021, when the delta variant-fueled second wave of infections swept the country.

The emergency status was then replaced by the four-level PPKM system, which Widodo announced would be abandoned immediately.

A study found that almost all Indonesians have developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, boosting confidence that an explosion of cases in Southeast Asia’s largest economy could be avoided.

In July, researchers with the health ministry and the University of Indonesia examined blood samples from 20,501 individuals in 100 cities across the archipelago and found that 98.5 percent of the respondents had antibodies against the virus, due to either vaccination or past infection.

The figure is 10.2 percentage points higher than the 87.8 percent found in the previous survey from December 2021. The country plans to conduct a third survey next month.

The government will also shift its response efforts to an “endemic” approach as the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds, COVID-19 Handling Committee chair AirlanggaHartarto said in a separate news conference Friday.

Based on the World Health Organization criteria, Indonesia’s risk assessment status is at “Level One.”

“Nationally, that means COVID-19 in Indonesia has reached the endemic stage,” said Hartarto, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economy.

He said the health ministry’s upcoming serology survey would be used as the basis for future mitigation policies.

Indonesia had largely recovered from its delta surge, which was among the worst in Southeast Asia. In July 2021, a then-record of about 56,700 daily new cases saw the delta variant overwhelming hospitals on the main island of Java. In February, omicron set a new high of over 64,700 new infections.

Indonesia confirmed 552 daily cases and 10 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday. Overall, the country has had more than 6.7 million infections — the second highest in Southeast Asia behind Vietnam.

The daily cases of 1.7 per 1 million residents, the weekly positivity rate at 3.35 percent and the death rate at 2.39 percent are all “below the WHO standard,” Widodo said.

With 160,583 deaths, the country ranks No. 2 in Asia and No. 11 in the world. However, scientists’ data indicated that the number of deaths may be much higher than what has been reported because those who died with acute COVID-19 symptoms but had not been confirmed or tested were not counted in the official death figure.

Source: Al Arabiya

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PM receives warm welcome at nostalgic Kampung MelayuMajidee mosque

30-12- 2022

JOHOR BAHRU: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim received a warm welcome from about 3,000 Johoreans during his visit to the Kampung MelayuMajidee mosque today where he was involved in officiating the building’s groundbreaking ceremony 27 years ago.

He officiated at the ceremony in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister in 1995.

Anwar, who was on a working visit to the state for the first time after his appointment as the 10th Prime Minister, performed Friday prayers at the mosque along with Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi and Johor Bahru Member of Parliament and Local Government Development Deputy Minister Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir.

Before performing prayers at the mosque, he spent about half an hour having lunch with the local folks and leaders at RestoranMurtabak Kampung Melayu Azo 96.

The mosque was attended by an extraordinary congregation, many of whom wanted to see the country’s top leader up close.

There was a bit of a commotion after the prayers when the crowd surged towards the Tambun Member of Parliament to take photos and videos and some of them also chanted the word ‘Reformasi’.

The mosque’s chief Imam and secretary Mohamad Izuddin Hassan said Anwar was delighted by the warm welcome.

“We had a chat and the prime minister was also happy to have sampled the famous ‘murtabak’,” he told reporters after the prayers.

Source: TheSunDaily

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Indonesia to tighten palm oil exports from Jan. 1 to shore up supply ahead of Ramadan

December 30, 2022

JAKARTA: Indonesia will tighten export rules for palm oil from Jan. 1 by allowing less shipments overseas for every tonne sold domestically, to ensure sufficient and affordable cooking oil supply at home, officials said on Friday.

Exporters will be allowed to ship six times their domestic sales volume, less than the current ratio of eight times, according to officials and a new regulation reviewed by Reuters.

“This is a preventive measure against the potential increase in domestic cooking oil prices as demand goes up during the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, which will fall in March and April 2023,” said Trade Ministry senior official Budi Santoso.

SeptianHarioSeto, a senior official at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs said the move is aimed specifically at securing domestic supply for the first quarter of 2023.

The government will continue to evaluate the export ratio periodically, taking into account cooking oil availability and prices, Seto said.

The move caused Malaysian palm oil futures to jump on Friday and hit their highest since Dec. 1 at 4,193 ringgit ($950.79) a tonne.

Indonesia earlier this year battled to keep cooking oil prices from spiralling out of control and introduced export measures on palm oil products with varying degrees of success to try to shore up supply and bring prices down.

A brief ban on exports of the edible oil from Indonesia shook markets and exacerbated existing global supply concerns, but it also led to ballooning domestic inventory.

Indonesia currently imposes a so-called domestic market obligation (DMO) requiring businesses to sell a portion of output locally in return for export permits.

Palm oil drops after hitting 4-week high

The Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) Secretary General Eddy Martono said that concerns were voiced during a meeting with government last week about cooking oil supply, related to the government’s biodiesel programme and expectations of lower palm oil output in the first quarter.

Indonesia is planning to increase a mandatory palm oil component in biodiesel to 35% starting Feb. 1. While businesses will comply with the regulation, Eddy said the new export ratio should be evaluated regularly in the short term to avoid a supply glut.


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