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UN expert warns of another Rohingya genocide if world continues to do nothing

New Age Islam News Bureau

02 February 2023

In this November 2017 photo, Rohingya Muslims who fled the state-sponsored genocide in Myanmar are packed at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (AFP)


• Taliban Tell Pakistan Not to Blame Afghanistan for Mosque Bombing

• LeT terrorist arrested as police cracks several blast cases in Jammu region, says J&K DGP

• Indonesia upholds ban on interfaith marriage

• Muslim groups decry criminalisation of hijab use

• Deadly blast in Pakistan mosque leaves trails of tragic memories

• Washington Post disavows saying ‘US forces train PKK,’ but Türkiye has shown how terror group just used another name

• Arab counter-terrorism strategy draft discussed in Riyadh

• Israel hits Gaza after rocket fire despite US appeal for calm



• EU appoints new ‘anti-Muslim hatred’ chief following rising Islamophobia

• European Muslim Forum condemns burning of Quran in Sweden, Netherlands

• Allowing Quran burning in Sweden, Denmark threatens other religious groups: Rights defender

• Macron's remarks prove France still pursues colonial approach toward Africa: Turkish scholar


South Asia

• Islamic State Khorasan: Global Jihad in a Multipolar World

• Uzbekistan Suspends Railway Transportation to Afghanistan over Breach of Contract

• Ashraf Ghani Received $110 From Qatar Not to Resist Taliban

• Iran Considers Establishing a Trade Center in Afghanistan



• Muslim Women Can Only Approach Family Court For Divorce, Not Shariat Council: Madras HC

• Members of Dalit & Muslim communities stage protest


Southeast Asia

• 18-year-old Islamic State supporter detained for planning terror attacks on Singapore

• Canada moves to take in 10,000 Uyghur refugees

• Loan growth up 5.7%, exceeding projection, says MIDF Research

• Former Malaysian PM Muhyiddin to lead Perikatan Nasional’s shadow Cabinet



• Islamic group demands justice for woman allegedly raped inside Mosque

• Spanish PM arrives in Morocco on visit to cement ties

• Tunisian labor union says police arrested top union official over strike

• Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti join forces for new offensive against al-Shabaab terror group



• Where did Rs417bn in ‘anti-terror’ funds go, PM asks KP

• Pakistan mosque attacker breached security wearing a police uniform

• 'Why did he open doors for terrorists': Maryam Nawaz blames ex-ISI chief for Peshawar blast

• Peshawar mosque blast: 17 suspects arrested

• Wikipedia ordered to remove ‘blasphemous’ content in Pakistan

• Pakistan Christians slam religious ministry’s seminar

• Party chiefs should play role in population control: Babar

• Operation underway to tackle TTP in Punjab-KP border area

• Anchorperson Imran Riaz arrested for ‘hate speech’ against state institutions: FIA

• KP policemen take to streets in uniform against Peshawar suicide bombing

• Pakistan gets 340 suggestions to improve human rights situation


North America

• Pentagon says US military helped intercept Houthi-bound weapons from Iran

• US denounces Sudan release of killer of US aid worker

• New US military strategy on display during ‘largest ever’ joint exercise with Israel

• Canada's anti-Islamophobia representative 'extremely sorry' for offending Quebecers

• Canadian court convicts pair of assault of Muslim father


Arab World

• Militants kill eight soldiers in northwest Syria: monitor

• No end to executions in Saudi Arabia, report shows

• Saudi Arabia’s FM arrives in Baghdad for talks on strategic ties

• UAE envoy to UN Lana Nusseibeh named 2023 Counter-Terrorism Committee chair

• Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, France’s FM discuss regional, global developments

• Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses strengthening relations with Iraq

• Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

• Social Responsibility Forum kicks off in Riyadh



• Türkiye concerned by 'increasing anti-Islamic rhetoric, actions in Europe',says Erdogan

• Palestinian Islamic Jihad delegation heads to Egypt amid tensions

• Report: Foreign-Backed Kurdish Groups Involved in Failed Drone Attack on Iran's Military Facility

• Iran's Military Chief Calls for Broadening of Cooperation with N. Korea

• President Rayeesi Blames US, Europe for Inciting Iran's Unrest

• Iran Strongly Condemns Israel's Brutal Repression of Female Palestinian Inmates

• Human Right Chief: Iran, Iraq to Launch Joint Task Force to Deal with Terror Groups

• Iranian FM Hails Mauritania for Efforts to Fight Terrorism in Africa's Sahara Region

• Spokesman: Iran's Judiciary to React Firmly to European Parliament's Improper Move

• Israeli PM Netanyahu in Paris to press French President Macron on Iran

• Israeli armed drones use gravity bombs, can carry up to a tonne of munitions

• Israel behind Isfahan drone attack, Iran’s ambassador to the UN says

• Global figures urge support for protesters in Iran

• Israeli forces kill two Palestinians during new violence

• France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Yemen

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



UN expert warns of another Rohingya genocide if world continues to do nothing

February 02, 2023

In this November 2017 photo, Rohingya Muslims who fled the state-sponsored genocide in Myanmar are packed at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (AFP)


NEW YORK CITY: The independent UN expert tasked with investigating the situation in Myanmar has called on the international community to “do a lot more” to protect the vulnerable Rohingya population in the country’s Rakhine State.

Tom Andrews, whose official title is UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, warned that “not to do so is to risk seeing another 2017.”

This referred to the brutal persecution of the Rohingya that began with a military crackdown on their community about six years ago, during which thousands were killed and more than a million were ultimately forced to flee to other countries.

Tom Andrews warned that the same forces who committed “those genocidal attacks” are now in control of the country and “their priority is not the human rights of the Rohingya people.”

Rohingya Muslims have suffered decades of violence, discrimination and persecution in Myanmar but the largest exodus began on Aug. 25, 2017, after Myanmar’s military launched brutal operations targeting them in northern Rakhine State.

Amnesty International said the subsequent wave of violence resulted in grave crimes under international law. The junta torched entire villages and forced more 700,000 people, half of them children, to flee to Bangladesh, where almost 1 million Rohingya now live in crowded refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar.

Andrews, who had just returned from a fact-finding trip and presented to the UN in New York his report on the situation in the South Asian country, told Arab News that more than 600,000 Rohingya continue to live in Rakhine State, 130,000 of them in makeshift internment camps.

“Even those who are living in the villages, those villages are surrounded,” he said. “The people are prisoners in their own home villages. They have virtually no rights whatsoever. It’s very, very oppressive to be living under these conditions.”

The special rapporteur said the frustration and anger among the Rohingya community at the lack of accountability for the atrocities that have been committed against them “is pervasive.”

“Many would argue that the lack of accountability for the genocide that occurred in 2016 and 2017 was not lost on the military leaders that committed (the February 2021) coup,” said Andrews.

“You know: If you could get away with one, why not get away with another? If the international community is not willing to bring justice to bear in one, perhaps they’ll just forget about what happens as a result of the coup.

“So, failure to bring accountability is not only tragic, and an injustice for the people who suffer, but it’s an injustice and a tragedy for those who will suffer at the hands of the very same forces who are receiving the message that the international community simply doesn’t care.”

A human rights organization and a group of people from Myanmar this month filed a criminal complaint in Germany seeking punishment of Myanmar’s generals for the genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity that they allege were committed during the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in 2017 and after the military coup in 2021.

Meanwhile, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan has said that an investigation being conducted by his office into the crimes against the Rohingya will be a priority during his tenure.

Andrews lamented the fact that such legal mechanisms are “slow and cumbersome, and they are no comfort to the people who have lost loved ones in the most horrific of ways.” He called on the international community to do the “very least” it can and fully support them.

“We need to create the kind of pressure on those who are responsible for these tragedies, namely the SAC (the State Administration Council that currently rules Myanmar), so that they understand that there’s a price to pay (and) that what they’re doing now is not sustainable — and unless and until they receive that message from the international community, impunity will continue to reign,” he said.

In his report to the Human Rights Council, published on the eve of the second anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, Andrews described the coup as “illegal” and the military’s claim to be the country’s legitimate government as “illegitimate.”

He called for nations that support human rights to recognize the National Unity Government, the main underground group coordinating resistance to the military rule, as the legitimate representatives of the people of Myanmar. It was formed by elected politicians prevented from taking their seats when the military seized power.

Andrews said UN member states “have an important responsibility and role to play in determining whether Myanmar’s military junta will succeed in achieving its goal of being accepted as legitimate and gaining control of a nation in revolt.”

He described the situation in Myanmar as “the forgotten war” and accused the international community of failing to properly address the crisis and “the junta’s systematic crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Since the military came to power, he said at least 2,900 people, and probably many more, have died, 17,500 people are political prisoners and at least 38,000 homes, clinics and schools have been burned to the ground.

In addition, a total of 1.1 million people have been displaced, more than 4 million children do not have access to formal education, and 17.6 million people are expected to need humanitarian aid this year, up from 1 million before the coup.

Andrews, a former US congressman, said a new, coordinated global response to the crisis is crucial.

He added in his report that the military’s hold on the country “is weakening” and his investigation found international sanctions have made it difficult for the junta to move and access the funds it needs to maintain its operations.

But “the problem is that the sanctions are not coordinated,” he added.

Source: Arab News

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Taliban Tell Pakistan Not to Blame Afghanistan for Mosque Bombing

February 01, 2023

Ayaz Gul

Women light candles during a prayer ceremony for victims of a suicide bombing inside a mosque, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Feb. 1, 2023.


Afghanistan's Taliban rulers Wednesday rejected allegations their territory was used in this week's mosque bombing in Pakistan, urging the neighboring country to thoroughly investigate such terror acts before blaming others.

Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told a gathering in the capital, Kabul, that Pakistani officials should find a solution to their security challenges locally and desist from "sowing the seeds of enmity" between the two Muslim countries.

No group has claimed responsibility for Monday's bombing of a crowded mosque in the highly guarded provincial police headquarters in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The ensuing blast killed more than 100 people, mostly police personnel, injured many more and demolished the upper story of the building.

Pakistani authorities were quick to blame the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, also called Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), for what they said was a suicide bomb attack and suggested the violence emanated from Afghanistan.

"We advise them to conduct a thorough investigation into the Peshawar bombing," Muttaqi said Wednesday. "Our region is used to wars and bomb blasts. But we have not seen in the past 20 years a lone suicide bomber blowing up roofs of mosques and killing hundreds of people."

Muttaqi echoed suspicions and questions being raised by critics in Pakistan in the wake of the large scale destruction caused by the blast.

The TTP, designated a global terrorist group by the United States, has long been conducting deadly terrorist attacks in Pakistan and its leadership allegedly directs the violence from Afghan sanctuaries. But the Pakistani Taliban has formally denied involvement in the Peshawar mosque bombing.

Moazzam Jah Ansari, the provincial police chief, told reporters Tuesday that a suicide bomber had entered the mosque as a guest, using up to 12 kilograms of explosive material earlier brought to the site in bits and pieces.

Investigators said Wednesday they had arrested several suspects in connection with the deadly bombing. Provincial police officials said they had recovered the remains of the attacker but shared no other details. They did not rule out the possibility that the bomber had internal assistance evading security checks.

Pakistan's military was frequently accused of sheltering Afghan Taliban leaders and fighters while they were waging insurgent attacks, including suicide bombings, against U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan for almost two decades.

The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021 as the U.S. and allied nations withdrew troops from the country.

Since then, Islamabad has deepened economic and trade cooperation with the cash-strapped Islamist Taliban leadership in Kabul to help it deal with financial troubles stemming from sanctions and international isolation of the Afghan banking sector.

However, a spate of recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, mostly claimed by the TTP, has strained relations between the two countries.

Islamabad and the global community at large have not yet recognized the Taliban as legitimate rulers, mainly over human rights issues and their restrictions on women's access to public life and education.

U.S. officials are also skeptical of the Taliban's pledges against terrorism and continue to press them to prevent the use of Afghan soil for cross-border attacks. Taliban authorities reject the skepticism and so did Muttaqi while responding to the Pakistani allegations Wednesday.

"Don't point fingers at Afghanistan. If Afghanistan were a center of terrorism then it would also have hit China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Today, all these countries are safe and so is Afghanistan," asserted the Taliban foreign minister.
Source: VOANews

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LeT terrorist arrested as police cracks several blast cases in Jammu region, says J&K DGP

Feb 2, 2023

J&K DGP Dilbag Singh (ANI photo)


JAMMU: A government school teacher-turned Lashkar-e-Taiba-terrorist was arrested for allegedly carrying out multiple blasts, including one in a bus carrying Vaishno Devi pilgrims, director general of Jammu and Kashmir police Dilbag Singh said on Thursday.

The arrest of Arif, a resident of Reasi district, follows investigations in the recent twin blast case at Narwal in Jammu. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted inside a perfume bottle was recovered from his possession, Singh told reporters here.

The Jammu and Kashmir police chief said this was the first time that such type of a bomb was recovered in the Union Territory.

Arif was allegedly working at the behest of his Pakistani handlers and admitted to his involvement in bombing the bus carrying Vaishno Devi pilgrims that killed four people and injured 24 last May, Singh said.

He also accepted his role in an IED explosion in Jammu's Shastri Nagar area in February 2022 besides the twin explosions at Narwal on January 21 that left nine people injured.

"All the (ready-to-use) IEDs have come from across the border," Singh said, adding further investigation is under way.

Source: Times Of India

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Indonesia upholds ban on interfaith marriage

February 01, 2023

Ahmad Nurcholish, program director and interfaith marriage counselor at Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace in Indonesia, is seen with an interfaith couple in this file image. (Photo supplied)


Indonesia's Constitutional Court has upheld a nearly five-decade-old law that bans interfaith marriages, rejecting a Catholic man's petition seeking to marry his Muslim partner.

In a verdict on Jan. 31, seven out of nine judges dismissed the lawsuit from Ramos Patege and defended the 1974 Marriage Act.

Patege's counsel argued that the law violates the constitutional rights of the couple, and infringes on their freedom to embrace a religion and belief of their choice.

Wahiduddin Adams, one of the judges, stated that a provision of the laws states that "a marriage is said to be valid if it is carried out according to the laws of each religion and belief" and so it does not impede anyone's freedom of religion and belief.

"The regulatory provisions are about legal marriage according to religion and belief, not about the right to choose a religion and belief," he said.

He also claimed that the choice to embrace a religion and belief remains the right of each person to choose, adhere to, and believe in it.

He also said there has been no change in circumstances and conditions or new developments related to issues of constitutionality that warrant a change in the law.

"The court remains in its stance on the constitutionality of a valid marriage, which is done according to religion and belief," he said.

Meanwhile, two other judges, Suhartoyo and Daniel YusmicFoekh, a Catholic, gave concurring opinions, stating that the law needed to be changed in order to answer the real realities at this time, but left that task to the parliament and the government.

Holy Cross Father Postinus Gulo, a graduate of the Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregoriana University and a member of the Marriage Tribunal at the Bandung Diocese in West Java province, said he was saddened by the court’s decision.

"In the Catholic Church, interfaith marriage is an obstacle, but a legal marriage can be done if there is a dispensation from the bishop and vicar general," he told UCA News.

He said that the law had made it impossible for couples to register interfaith marriages in the state.

"We must realize that this is a challenge for us, as well as an opportunity to continue to be faithful and proud of our Catholic faith," he said.

Ahmad Nurcholish, program director and interfaith marriage counselor at Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP) said that this decision shows that the government is actually going backward, while religious communities are becoming more open.

He said religions allow their own people to marry from another religion, sometimes conducting marriage ceremonies of both religions.

"For example, in Islam and Catholicism, an Islamic marriage ceremony and a blessing in the Church can be held. That way it is legal according to Islam and legal according to the rules of the Catholic church," he said.

The state, he said, does not need to get involved in debates on the pros and cons, but give citizens the freedom to make their own choices.

He said the law has made interfaith couples choose ways to get past it, including by marrying abroad, such as in Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the US, and Germany.

“For those who do not have enough money, the law is, of course, a problem,” he said.

Nurcholish said his organization, which partners with Harmoni Mitra Madania, has helped officiate the marriage of 1,576 couples of different religions since 2005.

The group offers counseling and advocacy for about 30 interfaith couples every month.

"This reality is ignored by the Constitutional Court and the government," he said.

Source: UCANews

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Muslim groups decry criminalisation of hijab use

By ShakirahAdunola

02 February 2023

School girls in hijab


Muslim organisations in Nigeria have stated that hijab use should not be criminalised but instead be seen as a right of faithful. They made the statement yesterday to mark World Hijab Day.

The groups also expressed satisfaction over the ruling of the Supreme Court on the hijab controversy and called on states that are yet to comply to do.

The bodies that championed the cause include Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN Lagos), Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria Lagos State Area Unit, The Criterion, Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Al Muminaat: The Believing Women Organisation, Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Guild of Muslim Professionals (GMP), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and Pristine Cactus Foundation.

Others are International Muslim Women Union (IMWU), Pure Heart Islamic Foundation (PHF Lagos), Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria, Islamic Medical association of Nigeria (IMAN), Akhawat, IzarulHaq Movement of Nigeria, Lagos Secretariat Community Central Mosque (LSCCM) and An-Nujabau Female Forum.

The convener/Executive Director, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, MutiatOrolu-Balogun, said the global movement is a united voice against the criminalisation, discrimination and oppression of Muslim women due to practice and observance of their religious codes.

“WHD was born 11 years and the movement is now being observed in 190 countries around the world, “ she said.”

She noted that the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Progression not Oppression’, was to remind people that Hijab was legislated and sanctioned for Muslim women over 1,400 years ago.

Ameerah FOMWAN Lagos State, AlhajaSherifatAjagbe, called on government to protect woman from the incessant gender-based violence in the country.

Source:Guardian Nigeria

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Deadly blast in Pakistan mosque leaves trails of tragic memories

Islamuddin Sajid 


PESHAWAR, Pakistan

The deadly bombing in a mosque in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar that killed 101 people and injured 157 others on Monday has added to tragic memories of a city with a long history of facing terrorism.

The tragic terrorist act was the deadly incident after the 2014 army school attack in the city that claimed the lives of over 140 people, mostly schoolchildren.

Most of the victims were police officers as the suspected suicide bomber blew himself up during midday prayer in the mosque inside the Police Headquarters in Peshawar.

“I have never seen such tragic moments in my service,” Bilal Faizi, spokesman for Rescue 1122, told Anadolu.

Rescue 1122 teams reached the spot within a few minutes after the bombing to shift bodies and the injured to the hospital.

“Apparently, the reason behind massive casualties was the collapse of the mosque building due to the explosion that trapped many people under the rubble,” he said.

According to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) officials, 49 injured are still under treatment and 107 have been discharged.

“We were praying when suddenly flames flared up and there was a loud explosion and then I don't know what happened as I fell unconscious,” Inamullah, a police constable under treatment in LRH, said.

“I cannot forget that terrible scene,” he told Anadolu, looking back at the tragedy.

January 2023 turned out to be the deadliest month since July 2018 as 134 people were killed and 254 injured in 44 attacks across the country, according to the latest report released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), an Islamabad-based think-tank.

Security forces also killed 44 militants and 52 others were arrested across the country, according to the report.

In 2018, at least 186 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the Mastung area of Balochistan during a political rally.

2 friends who lived, and died together

Abni Ameen and Iftikhar Ahmed from Charsadda, a district near Peshawar, were close friends who joined the police department in 2011 and 2015 respectively, and lost their lives in the blast.

“Iftikhar was my cousin and he left two daughters aged three and one while Abni Ameen had a year old son,” Ahmed’s cousin Jamil Dawood said.

“Both of them were very close friends since school times and Iftikhar joined the police because of his friend,” he added.

Most of the people joining police lower ranks belong to middle or poor-class families in the country of 220 million people where, according to the UNDP “Multidimensional Poverty Index 2022,” the intensity of deprivation, which is the average deprivation score among people living in multidimensional poverty, is 51.7%.

“Iftikhar hailed from a very poor family and I don’t know how his family will survive now,” Dawood said.

‘Save my life, please’

Around 160 injured were brought to the LRH, the nearest hospital, located a mile away from Police Headquarters where doctors treated and discharged around 107 people while 49 are still in the hospital.

“I treated 20 injured and some of them were in critical condition. But, I cannot forget two of them I couldn’t save. They lost breath in my hands,” Dr. Tahir Khan told Anadolu.

“One of the police officers, Irfanullah, had head injuries and I did my best to save his life but couldn’t succeed. I cannot forget his last words when he was shouting and saying ‘doctor, please save my life,’” Khan recalled the moments when he was fighting for the life of blast victims.

“I kept doing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) for 30 minutes despite my team saying that he has died and I cried for the man.”

“I saw some photos of his daughters in his pocket. I will never forget that moment,” he said.

Narrating another story of an aged man who also had brain injuries, Khan said the old man was shouting and demanding that his son be brought to the hospital.

“I told him, I am your son and trying to do everything for you. But still, he was crying and saying, bring my son,” the doctor narrated.

Protest rallies

Devastated by the loss of their colleagues, policemen on Wednesday held protest rallies in several cities of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province demanding a fair investigation into the Peshawar bomb blast. It was a rare event that policemen, along with a large number of people, took to the streets demanding better actions against terrorism.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari said on Thursday that the police were “closing in” on the terror network behind the attack, revealing that the bomber “was clad in a police uniform.”

Earlier on Tuesday, he told a press conference that the initial investigations show that 10-12 kilograms of explosive material were used in the bombing.

“We are investigating how the explosive was brought inside the police line,” he said.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several militant groups, has denied involvement in the attack on its propaganda website.

Commenting on the responsibility claims and denials by different militant groups, Ansari said "the police don't believe in such exaggerated claims until proved by investigations."

He contended that Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the TTP, could be involved in the bombing, which ranked the deadliest in recent years.

“The ISKP (Islamic State Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) has also claimed responsibility for the attack, which we are investigating,” he maintained.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Washington Post disavows saying ‘US forces train PKK,’ but Türkiye has shown how terror group just used another name




The Washington Post has issued a "correction" on a photo it published on Jan. 28 with a caption saying in part: “US forces provide military training to (the) PKK,” yet in fact the caption was correct, and acknowledged a fact the US has refused to admit.

With the photo taken in Syria’s Hasakah region, a US newspaper for the first time acknowledged that the organization that the US army calls the SDF is in fact the same organization as the PKK – a group recognized as a terrorist group by the US, EU, and Türkiye.

The Washington Post later said: “A photo with a Jan. 28 Federal Insider column about women in Special Operations forces, which was provided by Getty Images, contained inaccurate caption information that cited U.S. military forces training members of the PKK, a militant group. The U.S. forces were not training members of the PKK, which operates in Turkey and Iraq and has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States.”

But in fact for years Türkiye has strenuously objected to US support for the YPG/PKK terrorist group, documenting with extensive evidence how the PKK and YPG are in actuality the same terrorist group that has attacked Türkiye for decades, taking tens of thousands of lives.

Anadolu recorded how US forces were training the PKK

The photo used in the Washington Post story was published by Anadolu on Sept. 7, 2022, and was supplied to the international media via Anadolu’s agreement with Getty Images.

The photo taken by a Anadolu photojournalist in the Hasakah countryside in northern Syria shows PKK/YPG terror group members being trained by US troops, with American Bradley armored vehicles in silhouette in the background.

Leading the coalition against the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS, the US supported PKK/YPG terrorists in Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor, east of the Euphrates, with armed training and exercises.

Since 2015, the United States and its coalition forces have provided armed training and truckloads of weapons and ammunition to thousands of PKK/YPG terrorists, who sometimes also use the labels PYD and SDF.

The US administration and media, ignoring extensive evidence Türkiye has supplied since the beginning of the Syrian civil war as well as press and intelligence reports, do not accept that the YPG/PYD/SDF is an extension of the terrorist group PKK.

Facing a Turkish backlash over support for the terrorist group, the US suggested that the terrorist group PKK/YPG use the name SDF as a way to “rebrand” and disguise its true terrorist identity, as recounted by US Army Gen. Raymond Thomas in a 2017 Anadolu article (“US urged PKK/PYD to change name for legitimacy”).

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the European Union, and the US, and is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the terrorist PKK’s Syrian branch.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab counter-terrorism strategy draft discussed in Riyadh

February 01, 2023

RIYADH: Representatives from 14 Arab countries submitted a draft executive plan for the Arab counter-terrorism strategy, which was developed by the Council of Arab Interior Ministers.

It came during the seventh two-day meeting of the Arab high committee, hosted by Naif Arab University for Security Sciences at its headquarters in Riyadh.

The meeting, organized by the Arab Office of Counter-Extremism and Terrorism in Riyadh and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, was chaired by Omani representative Lt. Col. Mohammed bin Salem Al-Shanfari, and attended by delegations from Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen, along with a GCC representative.

The meeting reviewed the components of the executive plan, its means of implementation as well as accompanying programs with international partners. Representatives discussed mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and evaluating the plan.

Foreign relations vice president at NAUSS, Khalid Alharfash, said that terrorism tops issues that the university is keen to address, given the impacts of terror on international security and stability.

Alharfash added that the university, in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, recently inaugurated a specialized center that aims to combat crimes including terrorism.

He expressed hope that the recommendations and resolutions adopted by representatives would achieve the goals and objectives of regional interior ministers, and boost Arab action in the field of counter-terrorism.

Source: Arab News

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Israel hits Gaza after rocket fire despite US appeal for calm

02 February ,2023

The Israeli military said it struck in Gaza overnight on Thursday, hours after it intercepted a rocket launched from Gaza and following appeals from the United States for all sides to calm escalating violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

There were no immediate reports of serious casualties.

The military said its air strikes targeted rocket and weapon production sites used by Hamas, the Islamist group than runs the blockaded strip, in response to Wednesday’s rocket launch.

Powerful explosions shook buildings and lit up the night sky over Gaza as warning sirens sounded again in Israeli areas around the strip warning of more incoming rocket fire before dawn on Thursday.

There was no claim of responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket from Hamas or the smaller Iran-backed Islamic Jihad movement, which fired rockets at Israel last week.

The armed wing of the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it had launched rocket salvos at Israel early on Thursday in response to the air strikes and the “systematic aggression” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The exchange of fire underlined the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians after a Palestinian gunman shot dead seven people near a synagogue in East Jerusalem and an Israeli raid in a West Bank refugee camp killed 10 Palestinians.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged calm upon wrapping up a visit to the region on Tuesday, in which he reaffirmed Washington’s support for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict.

Top US diplomat for the Middle East, Barbara Leaf, and US special representative for Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, remained behind to continue de-escalation talks between the sides.

In a tweet sent after Wednesday’s rocket launch, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees prisons, said he would push ahead with plans to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners.

“The rocket fire from Gaza will not stop me from continuing efforts to cancel summer camp conditions for murderous terrorists,” he said, adding that he had asked the security cabinet to convene.

Israel has been carrying out near-daily raids in the West Bank since a spate of deadly attacks by Palestinians in Israel last year, leading to a bloody January for Palestinians in which 35 were people, militants and civilians, were killed.

Source: Al Arabiya
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EU appoints new ‘anti-Muslim hatred’ chief following rising Islamophobia


February 2, 2023

The European Commission has appointed Marion Lalisse as its new coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred on Wednesday amid an alarming rise of attacks on Islam in the region.

“I welcome MsLalisse, as the new Coordinator on combating Anti-Muslim hatred, whose work will ensure responses to hatred, as well as structural and individual discrimination against Muslims,” Helena Dalli, the European Commissioner for Equality, said.

According to the European governing body, Lalisse will join member states along with civil society and academics in a bid to “strengthen policy responses” in anti-Muslim hatred.

“We must fight anti-Muslim hatred in all areas of life including education, employment and social policy. We must also gather data about, monitor and tackle all instances of anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination,” Dalli added.

Lalisse had extensive experience in the EU, having previously served as the bloc’s deputy ambassador to Yemen. She also previously worked with numerous civil society organisations inside the EU and in the Muslim world.

The latest developments comes amid a series of Islamophobic incidents across Europe that has seen far-right leaders desecrate the Quran.

Far-right dual Danish-Swedish leader Rasmus Paludan first lit a copy of the holy book on fire in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on 20 January.

Protected by Swedish police, Rasmus’s alleged “protest” came at a sensitive time for both nations as Sweden sought Turkey’s support to join NATO. Turkey’s NATO membership grants it power to block applications for other states seeking to join the military alliance.

Just days later, Dutch far-right leader, Edwin Wagensveld tore and stomped on pages of the Quran near parliament in The Hague in The Netherlands.

Then on Friday, Rasmus, also protected by Danish authorities, burned a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque as well as the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen shortly after packed-out weekly prayers.

The provocative incidents have been met with fury across the Muslim world.

Condemning Danish authorities last week, Qatar’s foreign ministry said the attacks reveal “abhorrent double standards” and warned of the dangers that such campaigns hold.

On Wednesday, Qatar renewed its condemnation of the burning and tearing of the Quran in Sweden, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.

Source: DohaNews

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European Muslim Forum condemns burning of Quran in Sweden, Netherlands



The European Muslim Forum (EMF) on Wednesday condemned the recent incidents of burning copies of the Quran in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, acts which have drawn widespread outcry from Türkiye and others in the Muslim world.

Addressing a press conference in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul, Abdul-Wakhed Niyazov, head of the organization formed in 2018 and registered in France according to its website, said some elements in Europe intend to create a "second battlefield" in the continent.

“European Muslims are voicing their presence, and their role in Europe is growing. These provocations are trying to diminish their role in Europe,” Niyazov said.

He said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the most vocal in condemning the desecration of the holy book, adding: "We hope other countries would also react. Most did condemn these acts but they were not effective."

“If the Muslim world reacted and supported Türkiye, then this issue would have been resolved quickly,” he added.

Niyazov said the European system stands behind such acts, but not behind the people who undertake such actions, adding that the Swedish, Danish, and Dutch governments are responsible.

“In many European countries, anti-Semitism is regarded as a crime but Islamophobia comes under 'freedom of speech'. This is double standard,” he said, noting that this “must change.”

“We are against the burning of any religious book. I can’t imagine a Muslim conducting such an act. We, as Muslims, are always going to be against such acts of desecration,” he added.

Rasmus Paludan, an extremist Swedish-Danish politician, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Jan. 21, with both police protection and permission from the Swedish authorities.

The following week, Paludan burned a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque in Denmark on Jan. 27, and announced he would burn a copy of the holy Muslim book every Friday until Sweden is included in the NATO alliance.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Allowing Quran burning in Sweden, Denmark threatens other religious groups: Rights defender

Halil Ibrahim Medet


Granting permission for far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan to burn Islam’s holy book Quran in Sweden and Denmark on the grounds of "a democratic right" and "freedom of expression" stokes distrust in the society and worries other religious groups, according to a Swedish rights activist.

Helene Sejlert, a political scientist and human rights defender, told Anadolu that Paludan's anti-Islamic acts are causing more problems and putting more people in danger.

"His actions are spoon-feeding racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism. If the law can't stop that, there's clearly something wrong with the law!" Sejlert said.

His actions are harming so many, she said. "Large (different) groups are now scared of just saying that they are Muslims or Jews."

"To escalate the hate against these groups is of course also the aim for a bigot like Paludan," she added.

Paludan, who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, last week burned copies of the Quran on two separate occasions, first outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden and later in front of a mosque in Denmark.

Burning Quran 'bone-chilling echo of Nazi' mentality

"The burning of the holy Quran, is a bone-chilling echo of Nazi book-burnings, where 'the other' was demonized and the 'un-pure' people or material should be exterminated," Sejlert said. "This is a rhetoric Paludan (and other extremists) has used when addressing what he views as 'The Muslim problem'."

She also said there is "way to little knowledge on how to address and combat racism and Islamophobia" in Swedish society.

The opinions expressed by a few radicals, like in the case of Paludan, is not "just a cheap, isolated event, spread for the wind by a crazy lone wolf," Sejlert said. "It is rather a reflection of the society we live in and an extension of the hate that is growing in every corner of our streets. Many times this hatred is directed at Muslims."

She continued: "These few radicals get a free ride by media who gives them a platform to ventilate their racism and Islamophobia, and then social media drives the topic to a boiling point.

"As the emotions run wilder, normal limits of decency trespass, the words used get more and more emotional and hateful towards 'the other' and starts to appeal to an even broader group."

Police could have prevented attack, says Sejlert

While there is already "a lot of hate-mongering and disinformation" across the society, Paludan did not only burn copies of Quran, but "set fire to an inflamed situation," Sejlert said.

"Sweden should have acted wiser and more fair," she asserted. "Sweden should have set an example to not hurt a large chunk of its population even more."

Sejlert said "the law is clear and the police could have called the provocation off by invoking security concerns since the hateful act very well could result in violence."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Macron's remarks prove France still pursues colonial approach toward Africa: Turkish scholar

Enes Taha Ersen


French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent remarks proved his country still pursues a colonial approach toward Africa, according to a Turkish scholar. 

"I do not have to ask for forgiveness, that is not the matter, the word would break all ties," Macron said Jan. 11 in an interview with the French weekly, Le Point.

MuserrefYardim told Anadolu that France colonized Algeria for 132 years and “colonialism” refers to a bloody and traumatic period of Algerian history that remained in the minds of the nation.

She noted that Algerians frequently demand an apology and remorse from France for massacres in Algeria committed during the colonial era.

"The issue of France's official apology for what it did in Algeria has been at the center of the relations between the two countries for many years," said the scholar from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Necmettin Erbakan University.

She said Macron described French colonialism in Algeria as a “crime against humanity” while preparing for the 2017 presidential election.

"In 2018, Macron also said that his country used systematic torture during the Algerian liberation war," she said, adding that France has taken steps to confront its colonial past in recent years but the moves were symbolic.

"Macron commissioned historian Benjamin Stora in 2020 to investigate France's colonial legacy in Algeria," she said. "A series of symbolic steps were taken, excluding 'apology' or 'regret', to improve ties between the two countries. In his report, Stora said that there is no problem to issue an apology for the massacres committed in Algeria. Macron, on the other hand, said that he would not apologize for his country’s colonial rule." 

French colonialism in the Algerian national anthem

Citing Macron's latest remarks, Yardim said France's official approach to Algeria for its colonial past has not changed.

She noted the French president's remarks to Le Monde: 'If it weren't for France, you wouldn't exist now, you owe your existence to France."

Macron tried to honor his country’s colonial past in the remarks, according to Yardim.

She said an apology would be the first step in restoring relations with other African countries, especially Algeria.

"Some groups, who demand an apology from France over its massacres committed in Algeria, are demanding that Algeria-France relations should be reconsidered," she said. "The traces of the French colonial past are even reflected in the Algerian national anthem. The anger and reckoning against France are seen in the anthem. The demand of both Algeria and other African colonies is that France should confront its colonial past and do what was necessary by accepting the crimes against humanity it has committed."

"However, the officials don’t have the intention of taking positive steps."

- 'Policies are for the benefit of colonized nations'

France still claims sovereignty in Africa, even though the colonial period is over, According to Yardim,

She noted the speech given by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007 in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

"Even if there are mistakes and crimes in history, no one should expect today's generations to pay for the crimes committed by past generations," said Sarkozy.

Yardim noted that the colonialist mentality still exists in Europe.

She said France passed the law on colonialism on Feb. 25, 2005, to impose teachers to teach the positive effects of the French presence in North Africa to students. But the bill was withdrawn due to the public reaction.

"Although the law was strongly condemned by Algeria and other colonial countries, France still believes that colonial policies continue to say that policies are for the benefit of the colonized nations," she said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Islamic State Khorasan: Global Jihad in a Multipolar World

By Lucas Webber

February 01, 2023

The Islamic State (IS) garnered global media attention in 2014, when its forces scored a series of sweeping battlefield victories and territorial gains across swathes of Iraq and Syria. The establishment of the Caliphate and the appointment of Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reverberated throughout the region and galvanized Islamic radicals around the world. At the Islamic State’s height, it forged its place in jihadist history by attracting an unprecedented variety of foreign fighters, inciting or directing a high level of attacks throughout the world, and developing an unmatched propaganda apparatus. Further, IS inspired a plethora of existing and new jihadi groups from all over to pledge allegiance, spreading its tentacles with the establishment official branches throughout Asia and Africa.

With the physical rollback of Caliphate territory in the Middle East, IS and its branches became primarily focused on fighting local governments, militias, and other aligned forces, markedly scaling down extra-regional attacks and operations against foreign interests. However, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) branch, based in Afghanistan, has emerged as an exception to this.

ISKP has internationalized its media strategy while ramping up attacks on neighboring countries and international targets, such as diplomatic missions and foreign nationals. ISKP’s Al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production has dramatically expanded and is now ambitiously producing propaganda in far more languages than any other IS branch – particularly since the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover of Afghanistan.

This has prompted the outfit to internationalize its scope, and, most recently, ISKP has taken to publishing in-depth geopolitical analysis and identifying opportunities in the new multipolar world. To better understand how and why ISKP has ascended to become a leader among the IS movement in promoting global jihad, it is necessary to examine the group’s origins, history, ideological influences, and strategy.

ISKP’s Transnational Roots and Vision

Islamic State Khorasan Province has been transnational since its nascent phase in 2014-15 as it expanded operations in parts of Pakistan and throughout Afghanistan. From its earliest stage, ISKP had a complex range of adversaries – some were even fighting each other – such as the U.S.-led international coalition, the Pakistani state, the Afghan Republic government, and Taliban forces.

Source: TheDiplomat

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Uzbekistan Suspends Railway Transportation to Afghanistan over Breach of Contract

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 2, 2023

Uzbekistan Railway Authorities have announced the suspension of freight transport through the Hairatan-Mazar-i-Sharif railway route to Afghanistan effective from February 1.

Uzbek authorities stated that the Taliban have failed to fulfill the technical obligations agreed upon by both sides while signing the contract with the Taliban authorities in December last year, therefore, the transportation services have been suspended.

According to the Uzbek officials, representatives of Kabul and Tashkent had met to discuss the railway issues last year in Termez city, and it was agreed by both sides the Afghanistan Railway Authority would be responsible for the technical issues and maintenance of the rail route in Afghanistan territory. However, it seems that the Taliban have not been able to act in accordance with the agreement signed by the two sides.

“Also, during the meeting, Sogdiana Trans and the Afghanistan Railway Authority mutually agreed on the list of works to be performed and their prices, and also agreed to sign a new contract by January 27 of this year, and the relevant Protocol was signed,” Uzbek Railway Authorities in a statement said.

The statement added that in order to support entrepreneurs and ensure the continuity of freight transportation to Afghanistan so as to prevent the stoppage of transportation of essential goods to the country, Sogdiana Trans will provide practical assistance “in carrying out cargo transportation to Afghanistan through logistics centers in Termez, through automobile transport and through the Termez river port”.

On December 6, 2022, just two weeks before negotiations with Uzbekistan Railway, Taliban officials signed a contract with a Kazakhstani company, Mansour Fatih, to manage the Hairatan-Mazar-e-Sharif railway line.

Source: Khaama Press

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Ashraf Ghani Received $110 From Qatar Not to Resist Taliban

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 2, 2023

Italian TG1 News Network has revealed an investigative report showing that Qatar had paid Ashraf Ghani more than $110 million to avoid resisting the Taliban fighters.

This network has published the document of receipt of this money by Ajmal Ahmadi, the special representative of Ashraf Ghani and the former head of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, from the representative of Qatar.

The Italian state-run network has published a document that indicates the receipt of $110,478,000 from Dr. Mutlaq AL-Qahtani, the representative of Qatar signed by Ajmal Ahmadi, the special representative of Ashraf Ghani on July 7, 2021.

The archive of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates that Mr. Qahtani was in Kabul, and had met with Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace (Arg) on July 7, 2021.

It is further highlighted in the letter for what reason the money was granted to Ashraf Ghani. However, five weeks after the payment of the sum at the Embassy of Qatar in Kabul, Ashraf Ghani fled, and the Taliban entered Kabul.

Filippo Rossi, a renowned Italian journalist who conducted this investigative research states that this report has been provided based on reviewing documents and talking to reliable sources.

He says, Ashraf Ghani in a speech in the country’s Parliament on August 2, called on the people of Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban, while districts and provincial capitals were falling to the Taliban one after another with the least resistance.

According to Mr. Rossi, the Afghan security forces were commanded from Kabul not to resist and retreat, instead. Prior to this, other reports existed that certain high-ranking security officials across the country claimed that they were dictated by Kabul not to fight.

Source: Khaama Press

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Iran Considers Establishing a Trade Center in Afghanistan

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 1, 2023

Mohammad Mousavi, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Trade on Tuesday in a meeting said that Tehran is planning to set up a trade center in Afghanistan in the coming future.

The establishment of the trade center is aimed at strengthening trade relations between Tehran and Kabul, Mousavi stated to Mehr New Agency.

While addressing to meeting Mousavi said that Tehran wanted to invest in Afghanistan and actively participate in the country’s sustainable growth.

Iran serves as one of the key trading partners in Afghanistan for decades. The two neighboring Islamic countries share a lot in common, from culture to food, lifestyle, and more.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials have said that the volume of imports from Iran, such as food and fuel, has totaled more than $1 billion so far this year. Whereas, Afghanistan’s export volume to Iran was much lower and totaled only $20.

Iran is one of the few countries which maintained close ties with Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, Iran has continued trading with Afghanistan, kept issuing visas to Afghans, and continued delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan during these difficult times.

With the U.S., Iran’s arch-rival and enemy gone, the situation is perfectly suitable for Iran to strengthen its economic and political relations with the Taliban, exploit the country’s resources, and turn Afghanistan into a lucrative market for its products and commercial goods. 

Prior to this, Iranian business officials had visited Afghanistan and met with the Taliban authorities aimed at discussing potential investment in the war-torn country. Despite all the odds, Afghanistan can still become a potential business hub for Iran.

Source: Khaama Press

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Muslim Women Can Only Approach Family Court For Divorce, Not Shariat Council: Madras HC

02 FEB 2023

It is open for a Muslim woman to exercise her inalienable right to dissolve marriage by 'Khula' (divorce proceeding initiated by wife) by approaching a family court and not private bodies such as a Shariat Council, the Madras High Court has ruled.

What did Madras High Court say?

Private bodies cannot pronounce or certify dissolution of marriage by Khula.

"They are not courts or arbitrators of disputes. The courts have also frowned upon such practice...," the court held.

Such Khula certificates issued by private entities are hence invalid. "Khula is the form of divorce conferred upon wife similar to talaq conferred upon the husband."

In his judgement on a writ petition by a man who prayed for quashing the Khula certificate issued to his wife, Justice C Saravanan quashed the impugned certificate issued in 2017 by Shariat Council, Tamil Nadu TowheedJamath.

What was the case that the Madras HC was hearing?

The Madras High Court granted an interim stay in Bader Sayeed Vs Union of India, 2017 and restrained bodies such as the respondents in that matter (Kazis) from issuing certificates certifying dissolution of marriage by Khula, the judgment said.

"Thus, while it is open for a Muslim woman to exercise her inalienable rights to dissolve the marriage by Khula recognized under the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 by approaching a family court, it cannot be before a self declared body consisting of few members of Jamath."

The impugned Khula certificate issued by the Shariat Council is quashed. The High Court directed the petitioner and his wife to approach the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority or a family court to resolve their disputes.

In this matter, the petitioner relied upon a Supreme Court decision in Vishwa Madan Lochan Vs Union of India and others (2014) in which the court held that whatever may be the status of 'fatwa' during Mughal or British rule, it has no place in independent India under the Constitutional Scheme.

In an order on a writ plea, the Madras High Court, referring to a body, Makka Masjid Shariat Council had said that the impression conveyed to the public is of a 'court functioning,' the petitioner cited. 

The petitioner had also filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights and it was decreed as ex parte. In the writ plea proceedings, the woman chose to remain absent.

Out of the wedlock, a male child was born to them in 2015. They were married in 2013 and she left the matrimonial home in 2016.

Source: OutlookIndia

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Members of Dalit & Muslim communities stage protest

Feb 1, 2023

Aurangabad: Several members of the Dalit and Muslim communities on Tuesday morning staged a protest here to highlight various pressing demands, including the awarding of land rights.

United under the banner of Bahujan Republican Socialist Party, the protesters initially carried out a rally from Bhadkal Gate to the office of Aurangabad divisional commissioner. The march then converted into a sit-in protest, which saw agitators holding placards and raising slogans in support of their demands.

Suresh Mane, who was leading the protest, said land rights need to be awarded to weaker sections, who are dwelling on government lands, such as gairan, gaothan and forest land till 2020.

“The landless weaker elements residing on any such plot are its true owners. Instead of evicting them, the government should award these lands to them,” he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Southeast Asia


18-year-old Islamic State supporter detained for planning terror attacks on Singapore

Feb 2, 2023

An 18-year-old man was detained in Singapore for allegedly supporting the Islamic State (IS) group and planning to carry out attacks.

Muhammad Irfan Danyal bin Mohamad Nor, a Singaporean student, was detained in December under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial for up to two years, as reported by the news agency AFP.

In a statement, the Singapore authorities said that the student became radicalised after viewing Islamic State group propaganda online, adding that he wanted to use social media to gather fighters to conduct attacks in Singapore.

"His plans included recruiting a suicide car bomber to attack a military camp as well as bombing a grave site," the authorities stated.

"At the point of arrest, he was determined to commit violence," said Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam.

In 2020, authorities detained a 16-year-old who planned to attack two mosques in Singapore after being influenced by a massacre of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand.

Source: IndiaToday

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Canada moves to take in 10,000 Uyghur refugees

February 2, 2023

OTTAWA: Canada’s parliament on Wednesday unanimously passed a motion to take in 10,000 Uyghur refugees who fled China but are now facing pressure to return.

The move builds on a February 2021 move by Canadian lawmakers to label Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in its northwestern Xinjiang territory as genocide.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in internment camps in the region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

Tens of thousands have fled.

And according to backbench MP Sameer Zuberi, who sponsored the motion, at least 1,600 have been detained in other countries at China’s behest or forcibly repatriated.

At a news conference, Zuberi noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet voted in support of the motion, signalling the government’s “intent to make this happen” even though it is nonbinding.

“It is a clear signal that we do not accept human rights violations against the Uyghur people,” he said, adding that “what is happening to the Uyghurs is unacceptable”.

Mehmet Tohti, executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, told reporters it is a strong message that “will resonate not only in China and in Canada, but around the world”.

The motion says Uyghurs who “fled to third countries face pressure and intimidation by the Chinese state to return to China” and accuses Beijing of also applying diplomatic and economic pressure on countries to detain and deport them, “leaving them without a safe haven in the world”.

It proposes resettling 10,000 Uyghurs in Canada over two years, starting in 2024.

China has defended its Uyghur camps in Xinjiang, saying they are crucial to battling terrorism and providing vocational training to minorities.

But the US has said China’s repression of Uyghurs amounts to “genocide”, and the United Nations has condemned China’s persecution of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

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Loan growth up 5.7%, exceeding projection, says MIDF Research

February 2, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Financial institutions recorded a loan growth of 5.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) in December 2022, marginally higher than the projected 5.0% to 5.5%, MIDF Research reported today.

On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, it was up 0.7%.

In a note released today, the research house said the system loan growth was relatively stable in December after a sharp contraction in November.

“With lending rates having nearly normalised and liquidity no longer as cheap, our 2023 system loan forecast is a muted 4.5% to 5.0%,” it said.

MIDF Research said leading indicators showed a continued downward trajectory with system loan applications continuing to decline, contracting by 12% m-o-m.

It said that contributors to the steep decline were spread out, although prime drivers were hire purchase loans, residential mortgages and working capital loans.

“System loan approvals also saw a steep decline of 18% m-o-m, as approval rates fell to 52% versus 56% in November 2022.

“The rate of loan approval for small and medium enterprises also fell, to 48% in November 2022 compared with 58% in October 2022,” it said.

MIDF Research has maintained its positive call for banking, while top picks for the sector are Public Bank and RHB Bank with a target price (TP) of RM5.39 and RM6.94, respectively.

“Several banking counters have also repriced lower following Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) decision to keep the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 2.75%.

“We view this as an opportunity to accumulate on weakness, as the likelihood of BNM raising OPR by at least 25 basis points (bps) in the first half of 2023 remains intact,” it said.

Meanwhile, Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) said deposits growth in December 2022 was unchanged at 5.9% y-o-y, attributable to current account-saving account moderation being offset by quicker increases in fixed deposits, foreign currency and other deposits.

It noted that as a whole, December 2022’s loan-to-deposit ratio remained flat m-o-m at 86% versus February 2018’s peak of 89%.

“That said, we understand the current rivalry for the fixed deposit is still intense,” it said.

HLIB has maintained its neutral call for the sector and continues to take the stand that the banking sector has a balanced risk-reward profile.

The bank has a “buy” call for RHB Bank and Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd with a TP of RM6.60 and RM3.00, respectively.

Additionally, RHB Research has maintained its overweight call on the sector with CIMB Bank, AmBank and Alliance Bank Malaysia as top picks.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

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Former Malaysian PM Muhyiddin to lead Perikatan Nasional’s shadow Cabinet

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia’s opposition bloc Perikatan Nasional (PN) has unveiled its shadow Cabinet and its chairman Muhyiddin Yassin will be leading the line-up as chief of its MPs.

In the shadow Cabinet, known as the Perikatan MPs portfolio committee, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang will be Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s deputy.

PN secretary-general Hamzah Zainuddin remains as the opposition leader in Parliament.

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan is the shadow home minister, while PartiPribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s vice-president Radzi Md Jidin is the shadow finance and economic minister.

Other notable appointments are former foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah as the shadow education and higher education minister, and Arau MP ShahidanKassim as the shadow rural and regional development minister.

Mr Muhyiddin said PN aspires to be an effective and responsible opposition.

“Various briefing sessions regarding our duties and responsibilities have been held, where we gave explanations on the current situation,” he said.

Mr Muhyiddin said the shadow Cabinet would have a research team consisting of experts to assist shadow ministers in improving their skills and also knowledge in their respective portfolios.

“They have a duty and responsibility to assist the country in solving issues,” he added.

He also said PN’s secretariat would make policy statements from time to time on various issues such as the economy, education, environment, defence and security.

“We will table it (policy statements) so that the people know what we present ourselves to be. We are ready to take on bigger responsibilities if the people give us a mandate to lead the country again,” Mr Muhyiddin said.

PN’s MPs portfolio committee includes Pasir Mas MP Tuan Ahmad Fadhli Shaari as the shadow youth and sports minister, and Ms Mas ErmieyatiSamsudin as the shadow minister of law and institutional reforms.


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Islamic group demands justice for woman allegedly raped inside Mosque

February 1, 2023

By Don Silas

The Muslim Right Concern, MURIC, on Wednesday called for justice for a woman purportedly raped inside a worship centre in Oyo State.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by its Oyo State Ambassador, Ibrahim Agunbiade.

MURIC, an Islamic group, said it would do everything possible to make sure the incident was not swept under the carpet.

The statement disclosed that the group had confirmed the suspect is one Idris, also referred to as KesariRekereke.

MURIC alleged that Idris was the son of an influential transport union leader known in the Oyo State National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

The statement read in part: “We call for the prosecution of Idris and warn that the case must not be swept under the carpet.

“We commend the police for arresting the culprit. Justice must not only be done in this case but it must also be seen to have been done.”

Source:DailyPost Nigeria

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Spanish PM arrives in Morocco on visit to cement ties

01 February ,2023

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in Rabat on Wednesday for a visit aimed at mending ties following a deep diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Sanchez and a dozen ministers are set to sit down on Thursday with top members of the Moroccan government.

They are expected to sign a string of deals including on encouraging investment, Spanish government sources said, as well as discuss irregular migration.

Prior to his trip, Sanchez had spoken on the phone with King Mohammed VI who urged him to “consolidate the new stage of relations between Morocco and Spain,” according to a statement from the Spanish premier's office.

Sanchez visited Morocco in April last year, drawing a line under a year-long diplomatic crisis that began easing after Madrid reversed decades of neutrality on the Western Sahara conflict to back Morocco's position.

The crisis had begun in 2021 when Madrid allowed BrahimGhali, leader of the Polisario Front which seeks independence for the territory of Western Sahara, to be treated for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital.

Weeks later, more than 10,000 migrants surged into Spain's tiny North African enclave of Ceuta as Moroccan border forces looked the other way, in an incident seen as seeking to punish Madrid.

In March last year, Madrid announced a “new stage” in relations and said it backed the North African kingdom's plan for the Western Sahara of limited autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.

King Mohammed has invited Sanchez for a higher profile state visit in future to “reinforce the positive dynamic” in their ties, according to a palace statement.

After resuming cooperation with the kingdom, Spain's interior ministry reported that arrivals of irregular migrants on its territory from Morocco were down by a quarter last year compared to 2021.

Both countries faced criticism from rights groups after at least 23 migrants died during a mass attempt to enter Spain's Melilla enclave on the North African coast in June 2022.

The Spanish-Morocco rapprochement comes as Moroccan politicians and media accuse France, a staunch ally of the kingdom, of “orchestrating” a European Parliament resolution critical of Morocco's treatment of the press.

Morocco has also denied accusations of corruption involving European Parliament members.

Rabat is also considered an ally in the fight against extremism.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Tunisian labor union says police arrested top union official over strike

01 February ,2023

Tunisian police arrested an official in the country’s largest labor union over a strike by toll booth workers, the UGTT union said on Wednesday, in a growing confrontation between President Kais Saied and one of Tunisia’s strongest political forces.

The UGTT, which has more than one million members, said police detained Anis Kaabi, the general secretary of the union’s highways branch, at his home late on Tuesday.

Hamza al-Mahmoudi, a union official, said Kaabi was arrested after a complaint from a government ministry that he was costing the state financial losses due to a strike this week by union members at highway toll booths who are demanding more pay.

Both the police and a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry were not immediately available for comment.

The arrest could aggravate tensions between Saied and the union, which has taken an increasingly strong stance against his expansion of powers, introduction of a new political system and proposals for economic reforms.

Kaabi was detained hours after President Saied said in a speech to police forces that they should take action against “those who conspire against national security or against public companies.”

“Those who block the road and threaten to block the motorway cannot remain outside the circle of accountability and punishment,” he said.

The UGTT called on workers to mobilize and to be ready to defend the trade union rights and public and individual freedoms in all forms of struggle.

The union, which has proven its ability to shut the economy with strikes, has played a key role in Tunisian politics since the 2011 revolution, helping broker a deal for a new constitution in 2014.

It has used increasingly strong language against Saied, while so far stopping short of any major campaign of strikes and protests to directly challenge his political agenda.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti join forces for new offensive against al-Shabaab terror group

Mohammed Dhaysane



The leaders of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti on agreed to put up a “united fight” against the al-Shabaab terror group.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud hosted Kenya’s President William Ruto, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh for talks in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday.

The leaders “agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign at the frontline states level, of search and destroy on multiple frontlines aiming at key al-Shabaab strongholds across the south and central Somalia,” they said in a joint statement.

“The time-sensitive campaign will prevent any future infiltrating elements in the region,” the statement said.

They also stressed the “importance of establishing a joint border security mechanism that intends to eliminate cross-border terrorism activities and ensures legal passage of trade and movement,” the statement added.

The leaders hailed Somalia’s ongoing offensive against al-Shabaab, which has seen its military reclaim several strategic areas and make significant gains in recent months.

They agreed to make a joint push for areas that are still controlled by the terrorist group, the statement said.

Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, who also contribute troops to the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), acknowledged the “need for new partnerships and enhancing solidarity among Somalia’s neighboring states … in a united fight against a common terrorist threat to demonstrate a unified stance on confronting al-Shabaab,” the communique added.

Several mortars were fired at different areas of Mogadishu, including a district near the Somali president’s office before the summit kicked off at the heavily fortified Decale Hotel located next to the Aden Adde International Airport.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Where did Rs417bn in ‘anti-terror’ funds go, PM asks KP

Syed Irfan Raza

February 2, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif on Wednesday blamed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for its failure to equip police and civil armed forces to counter militants, questioning how the provincial government spent funds to the tune Rs417 billion it received from the Centre since 2010.

The premier made this observation during a weekly meeting of the federal cabinet which only had one agenda — resurgence of terrorism — after PM Sharif said he wanted an open discussion on the matter.

The meeting, however, remained limited to shifting the blame instead of coming up with a strategy to tackle militancy in light of an increase in terrorism incidents.

During the meeting, the premier asked where did these funds go even though the National Counter-Terrorism Authority and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had been established.

The premier said that the nation wanted the KP government to be held accountable for the rise of terrorism in the province and the money could have been to enhance terror-combatting abilities.

“Who had said these jihadis (fighters) were friends of Pakistan? Who had said that they have surrendered [weapons] and will enter the mainstream? It’s a point of concern,” the prime minister said in a thinly-veiled allusion to Imran Khan’s plan to resettle these militants in tribal districts. “Terrorism is rearing its head again,” he said. “The question is who brought them back.”

“Everyone is asking who brought them back. What happened? […] How can peace be destroyed? How can Khyber Pakhtunkhwa go back into the hands of terrorists,” PM Shehbaz wondered.

‘NFC Award’

The premier also spent a better part of the meeting responding to allegations levelled by the KP government about the unfair distribution of funds under National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.

In December last year, former KP chief minister Mahmood Khan along with others rebuked the federal government for depriving the province of its rightful share by withholding funds meant for the province. In January, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said it was impossible for the provincial police to counter TTP militants who were armed with US-made weapons.

PM Sharif, while responding to these statements, said that KP had received Rs417 billion since 2010 under the NFC Award. “The rest of the provinces gave them approximately Rs40bn every year,” he said, asking how did the government spend this “huge amount” of money.

He said KP had sacrificed “more than other parts” of the country but the “money provided to them was solely to strengthen their counter-terrorism capabilities”. They could have used this money for strengthening the CTD, ammo procurement, training and recruitment of cadres, and improving their intelligence-gathering capabilities.

PM Sharif said that it was unacceptable for the former KP government to ask for more funds. “If you are getting Rs40bn per year, you do not get to complain about the weaknesses of the CTD,” he said, adding, “Complaints about not having guns, training, and satellites for lack of funds is a clear distortion of facts.”

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan mosque attacker breached security wearing a police uniform

February 02, 2023

A day after arresting suspects who might have helped the suicide bomber enter the mosque, Pakistani police identified the bomber. On January 30, a bomb blast in a mosque in Peshawar killed about 103. the attack was reportedly carried out by a suicide bomber.

According to the Peshawar police chief, the bomber breached security by wearing a police uniform, Reuters reported.  Moazzam Jah Ansari, police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where Peshawar is located, said the bomber was part of a "network" and had driven a motorcycle into the area.

The police, after matching his head with images from CCTV footage said that he wore a helmet. The powerful blast blew a wall of the prayer hall.

“He (suicide bomber) entered the main gate on a motorcycle, came inside, talked to a constable and asked him where the mosque was. This means that the attacker was not aware of the area. He was given a target and there is an entire network behind him. He was not a lone ranger,” Ansari was quoted as saying by The Dawn.

Initially, TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban) officials Sarbakaf Mohmand and Omar MukaramKhurasani claimed the attack. But later, the group denied being part of it. Reportedly the bomber used 12-16kgs of TNT in the blast.

Source: TheWeek

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'Why did he open doors for terrorists': Maryam Nawaz blames ex-ISI chief for Peshawar blast

Feb 2, 2023

Pakistan's deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz on Wednesday held former spy master Gen Faiz Hamid responsible for the suicide attack in a high-security zone mosque in Peshawar that killed 101 people, including 97 policemen.

"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan's facilitator – Gen Faiz Hamid – who was posted in Peshawar (as Corps commander) was responsible for the Peshawar attack," Maryam, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice-president, told a party gathering in Bahawalpur city of Punjab.

A Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up during the afternoon prayers on Monday in the mosque in the Police Lines area in Peshawar, killing 101 people and injuring more than 200 others.

The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

"The one (Gen Hamid) whom Imran Khan used to call his eyes, hands and ears, was posted in Peshawar (Corps commander). Why did he open doors for terrorists (from Afghanistan)? Why did he say that terrorists were our brothers and invited them to Pakistan? Why did he release hardcore terrorists from prison?" Maryam asked.

She further said, "Had he (Gen Hamid) become the eyes, hands and ears of Pakistan, this situation (of terrorism) would not have happened."

Maryam also taunted the former ISI chief for his "controversial visit" to Afghanistan at the time of the fall of Ashraf Ghani government. "This man used to say in Afghanistan that everything is fine while drinking qahwa," she lambasted.

Lt Gen Hamid, who served as the chief of the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from June 2019 to November 2021, was the first high-ranking foreign official to visit Afghanistan after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital in mid-August in 2021.

In the last phase of his stint as head of the ISI, he became the focus of a controversy between Imran Khan and then army chief Gen Qamar JavedBajwa as the latter had decided to post him as commander of the Peshawar Corps and the former was not willing to relieve him. He was ultimately posted out to Peshawar, where he served for less than a year before being moved to the Bahawalpur Corps.

The post of ISI chief is considered one of the most important in the Pakistan Army, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 75 plus years of existence and has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.

Maryam said her father rid the country of terrorism but it returned because of the bad policies of the Imran Khan regime.

She also indirectly hit out at former army chief Gen Bajwa and former chief justice Saqib Nisar for her father's ouster.


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Peshawar mosque blast: 17 suspects arrested

Feb 1, 2023

PESHAWAR/ISLAMAD: Pakistan's security agencies arrested 17 suspects in connection with the suicide blast in a high-security zone mosque in Peshawar that killed 101 people, including 97 policemen, as Army chief Gen Asim Munir vowed zero tolerance for terror groups and directed his generals to eliminate the threat of militancy. A Taliban suicide bomber who was present in the front row during the Zuhr (afternoon) prayers on Monday blew himself up, causing the roof to collapse on the worshippers.

Sources said that the security agencies have arrested 17 suspects involved in the devastating blast - the deadliest attack on the security personnel in decades in Pakistan.

The arrests have been made from close vicinity of the Police Lines area where the mosque is located and the suspects were shifted to interrogation cell for investigation, sources told PTI on condition of anonymity.

In a statement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday that the entire nation and institutions are united to eliminate the menace of terrorism.

Describing police as a front line force in the fight against terrorism, the prime minister said that they will be further strengthened and equipped with modern weapons.

Speaking at a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Wednesday, Sharif expressed serious concerns over the resurgence of terrorist elements especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister said that if immediate and effective steps were not taken, the despicable incidents might spread to other parts of the country.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the Peshawar mosque suicide attack, saying it was part of a revenge attack for slain TTP commander Umar Khalid Khurasani who was killed in Afghanistan in August last.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's top generals have vowed that perpetrators of the Peshawar terrorist attack will be brought to exemplary justice.

General Munir, who presided over the 255th Corps Commanders' Conference held at general headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, said that the military was determined to eliminate the threat of militancy from the country.

The army chief referred to the Peshawar mosque attack and said that "such immoral and cowardly acts cannot shake the resolve of the nation rather reinvigorate our determination to succeed in ongoing war against terror with zero tolerance for any terrorist entity," according to a statement issued by the army.

General Munir, who on Monday was in Peshawar along with Prime Minister Sharif following the suicide bombing, "directed all commanders to continue focus on anti-terrorism operations in coordination with intelligence and law enforcement agencies with renewed resolve till the time we achieve sustainable peace," the statement said.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told parliament on Tuesday that 97 policemen were among the dead.

He said that past policies were responsible for terrorism plaguing the nation. "We created mujahideen but they have become terrorists," he said, referring to the Afghan war against the erstwhile USSR.

The blast shocked residents in Peshawar - once known as "the city of flowers".

The policemen took out a protest rally in Peshawar on Wednesday demanding fair and transparent investigation into the deadly bombing. The speakers of the rally demanded formation of a joint Investigation team to probe the blast.

They also demanded exemplary punishment to elements involved in the devastating bombing that killed innocent people, mostly policemen.

The rally was largely attended by people from a cross section of the society.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday urged all political forces to unite against terrorists who are targeting not a sect or particular segment of society but the entire nation.

"There is a need to create a consensus like (at the time of) the Zarb-e-Azb operation against this kind of terrorism. It is being hoped that the prime minister would take a step in this direction," the defence minister said.

Zarb-e-Azb was launched after the Peshawar school bombing of 2014 which had killed around 150 people, mostly students. During the operation, the security forces killed and expelled militants.

Asif was asked by journalists outside the parliament building about the possibility of any fresh operation against the militants.

He said that the high-level National Security Committee (NSC) would decide about launching a military operation to eliminate militancy.

"This is a decision that the National Security Committee will take. Such things can be decided at a forum (like the NSC) which is able to take such major decisions," he said.

Asif said that the latest bombing in Peshawar was no less a tragedy than the 2014 Army Public School massacre and a similar consensus was needed by politicians from all parties.

He also said that Pakistan had suffered over USD 126 billion in economic losses and 83,000 deaths including, armed forces personnel, police officials and others but the world had not acknowledged it.

He accused the previous government of Imran Khan of holding talks with the Taliban.

Source: Times Of India

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Wikipedia ordered to remove ‘blasphemous’ content in Pakistan

Feb 2, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Wikipedia will be blocked in Muslim-majority Pakistan if the platform fails to take down content deemed to be sacrilegious within 48 hours, the country’s telecoms regulator said.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Wednesday said it had “degraded” Wikipedia services on non-compliance of an earlier direction to remove “unlawful” content, according to a statement. While it did not elaborate on measures taken, some suggested the site had been throttled.

If the platform fails to remove the content in question, Wikipedia “will be blocked within Pakistan,” the authority said, without specifying the information it wanted removed.

“There is slowness and definitely it’ll impact especially those who use Wikipedia for education and information purposes,” Wahaj-us-Siraj, Chief Executive Officer of internet provider Nayatel, said in a text message.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, whose laws condone capital punishment for anyone convicted of affronting Islam.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan Christians slam religious ministry’s seminar

February 01, 2023

Christian leaders in Pakistan have demanded the resignation of Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor for allegedly insulting them and their religious beliefs.

Protest against the minister began after he invited a controversial figure, who is known for being involved in marrying off Christian and Hindu girls to Muslim men and forcibly converting them to Islam, for a seminar his ministry organized on Jan. 31.

Pir Abdul Haq, alias Mian Mithu, the man in question, was invited to a seminar on "Religious Conversions: Issues, Controversies and Reality" organized at a hotel in Islamabad.

Christians of Islamabad present at the seminar raised slogans rejecting religious extremism, said a Christian leader.

They also boycotted the event after one of the speakers, a former Christian, rejected Jesus as the son of God and made false claims about the Bible, he said.

However, the ministry of religious affairs termed the seminar a success.

“A countrywide discussion on religious conversion has been initiated. A document of national narrative will be prepared with recommendations of all religions following a detailed review of such allegations," said a press release from the ministry.

It said a joint declaration about the conversion issue in Pakistan "will be presented to the international community.”

Several newly converted Muslim women and men, accused of being forcefully converted, were also invited, the press release further stated.

“They denied the impression of being forced to change [religion] by the clerics and confessed to being influenced by Islamic teachings. The speakers demanded action against elements who make false accusations of forced conversions and defame Pakistan at the global level,” the ministry added.

Christian activists including Mary James Gill, director of the Center for Law and Justice, shared a Facebook post with an X mark on the banner of the controversial seminar.

“The attitude of the federal ministry is very shameful and condemnable. Shame on participants who did not consider it appropriate to record their protests against the attempt to show other religions as false and inferior compared to the state religion,” she said.

"The courage with which the Christian participants faced this hate speech is admirable, but it would have been better if the Hindu and Sikh communities also supported them against this bigoted attitude," Gill added.

Akmal Bhatti, chairman of Minorities Alliance Pakistan, labeled Minister Shakoor as “a cleric of anarchy.”

“Christian religious or political leaders were absent from the panel. But more than that it was a pathetic attempt to counter the pressure from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewing Pakistan’s human rights record,” he told UCA News.

Several countries, including the US, have raised specific questions, which will be reviewed by the working group during the session that will continue till Feb. 3 in Geneva.

Bhatti expressed surprise that the organizers of the seminar are still demanding proof of forced conversions despite repeated cases of blackmailing and coercion of underage minority girls.

“These incompetent people, who use religion to stay in power, are responsible for the economic, political and moral crisis in our country,” he said.

Forced conversions of Hindus and Christians to Islam are a burning issue throughout the Islamic Republic of some 220 million people.

At least 100 reported cases involving abductions, forced conversions, and forced marriages of girls and women belonging to the Christian community across Pakistan were reported between January 2019 and October 2022, according to the rights group, Voice for Justice and Jubilee Campaign.

In 2021, a parliamentary committee rejected a bill against forced conversions citing public interest. The draft proposed legalities for only “mature” non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that it was appalled to learn that the seminar featured not only a cleric long associated with forced conversions in the southern Sindh province, but it also asked recent converts to Islam to publicly denounce their original faith.

“Such blatant bigotry flies in the face of the government’s recent claims at Pakistan’s fourth UPR that it is committed to freedom of religion or belief,” stated the commission in a statement issued Feb.1.

Source: UCANews

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Party chiefs should play role in population control: Babar

Ikram Junaidi

February 2, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Former PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar on Wednesday called upon mainstream political parties representative participating in a dialogue to convince their party heads to play their role in population control as they agreed that family planning was imperative for development of the country.

He was speaking at a consultative dialogue on, ‘Prioritising Population Issues and Family Planning in Political Parties Manifestos’ organised by the Population Council in Islamabad.

The consultative dialogue was attended by members of all major political parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), MuttahidaQaumi Movement (MQM), Balochistan National Party (BNP), BalochistanAwami Party (BAP), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), and Awami National Party (ANP).

In her welcome remarks, Country Director Population Council Dr Zeba Sattar stated that it was important to align manifestos of political parties with Council of Common Interest (CCI) national action plan 2018 to reduce Pakistan’s rapid population growth rate.

The Population Council cited national data on the cross-sectoral impact of rapid population growth on Pakistan’s development indicators and stressed the need for sustained political commitment to achieve population stabilisation in Pakistan.

PML-N Senator Sadia Abbasi stressed the importance of mass awareness campaigns on family planning issues and said political parties should lead from the front in this regard. Poorest sections of the society must be targeted though comprehensive family planning programmes in the country.

Former deputy speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Mahmood Jan emphasised to build a consensus to tackle rapid population growth beyond party lines and reiterated his party’s commitment to prioritise population planning for well-being of the people of Pakistan.

Balochistan Minister for Finance and Food Zmarak Khan (ANP) quoted the example of Bangladesh where religious leaders led the process of achieving sustainable population growth through their sermons. He also suggested redefining of NFC award which heavily depends upon population size and disincentivise smaller provinces to lower their fertility rate.

Emphasising the importance of mother and child health, former member of Balochistan Assembly and Deputy Secretary General Women wing of Jamaat-i-Islami, Samina Saeed said mass awareness on birth spacing which also has religious endorsement must be propagated.

She stressed the new national narrative which is based on the concept of Tawazun, and which is derived from the teaching of Islam needs to be propagated through media.

MPA Ali Khurshidi, a representative of MQM in Sindh, stated that Pakistan’s high fertility rate was an issue of national importance, and all political parties should join hands in tackling the high trajectory of growth.

“Revitalisation and empowerment of local governments is vital to improve situation as availability of contraceptives at basic health unit will improve access,” he said.

Source: Dawn

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Operation underway to tackle TTP in Punjab-KP border area

Asif Chaudhry

February 2, 2023

LAHORE: The Punjab police on Wednesday morning launched a grand counterterrorism operat­ion in the highly complex and inac­cessible hilly areas of Mian­wali district, hours after some heavily equipped militants of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakis­tan (TTP) attacked a police station in the area in the dead of the night.

The go-ahead for the operation was given at a meeting attended by chief secretary, inspector general of police, heads of the intelligence agencies and several reg­ional and district police officers.

“We have grounded many field formations of the Punjab police under a new policy, called HITS, Hunt, Impede, Thwart and Serve,” IG police Dr Usman Anwar told Dawn.

This HITS operation would not be called off till the elimination of armed militants from the territories of Mianwali district, the police chief declared.

He vowed that this force would give a deterrent response to the terrorists and purge them from Punjab territories.

The police chief said a decision was taken to launch a ‘large-scale and sustainable’ operation aga­i­nst the militants behind the att­ack on Makkarwal police station in Mianwali late Tuesday night.

The meeting of security officials held just hours after the attack also took some other important decisions, prepared a set of guidelines and devised strategies to ensure coordination between security apparatus against the TTP’s presence in Punjab.

DIG Ahsan Younis, who has been assigned a key role in the police operation, said the highly trained police personnel and commandos from the three regions, the counterterrorism department, special protection unit and the elite force were taking part in the operation.

He told Dawn that human and logistic resources had been moved from various regions of the Punjab province to Mianwali to ‘hit the hideouts’ of the TTP men in highly complex terrain.

“Makkarwal was the nearest police station to the hilly area from where the armed militants of the TTP launched the offensive,” the officer pointed out.

About the late-night attack, which was ‘repulsed’ by police, DIG Younis said intelligence sources had alerted the Makkarwal police about movement of the armed men in the nearest hilly areas, only hours before the assault.

Police personnel had been put on high alert and they returned the fire as soon as a gunner from a nearby hillside opened fire. Suddenly, firing intensified from multiple points, he said. The personnel responded promptly to stop militants from advancing towards the police station, and managed to repulse the attack, he explained.

However, the militants used the cover of darkness to disappeared into the hilly terrain, DIG Younis said.


Starting from Mianwali’sMakkarwal area, the hilly terrain — spread over 300km to 400km — continues till the boundary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where an operation has already been underway against militants, according to the DIG.

Punjab police has also shared information with KP’s law enforcement agencies to devise a strategy to hit the hideouts of terrorists, who sneaked into the Mianwali district under the cover of darkness to attack the police station and disappeared into the mountains, he said.

He said the Punjab police chief reached the Mianwali district on Wednesday morning, met personnel from the Makkarwal police station and distributed Rs3.5 million among them as a cash reward for acting promptly and repulsing the TTP attack.

Source: Dawn

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Anchorperson Imran Riaz arrested for ‘hate speech’ against state institutions: FIA

Rana Bilal

February 2, 2023

Anchorperson Imran Riaz was arrested in Lahore in the early hours of Thursday on charges of “hate speech” and making a “violence-inducing statement” aimed at creating “a rift between the general public and the state institutions”, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said.

Earlier, Riaz’s counsel Mian Ali Ashfaq told that his client was taken into custody from the Allama Iqbal International Airport by FIA’s cybercrime wing.

He said the “illegal arrest” of the journalist will be challenged in court.

The FIA registered the first information report under sections 11 (electronic forgery), 20 (malicious code) and 24 (legal recognition of offences committed in relation to information system) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Peca) 2016. Likewise, sections 131/109 (incitement to mutiny), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 505 (public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code have also been added to the FIR.

According to the FIR — a copy of which is available with — Khan was “found involved in publicly making a hate speech at a conference which falls under the territorial jurisdiction of FIA cyber crime cell”.

The complaint went on to say that the speech was further publicly shared on social media platforms nationally and internationally.

The contents of Khan’s video, as mentioned in the FIR, questioned former army chief Gen Bajwa’s pledge for the military to remain apolitical in his final speech as army chief.

The agency pointed out that it had been found “that the same mischievous video of the alleged person was publicly shared and a part of that video was posted by a Twitter user, which was retweeted by Imran Riaz Khan”.

The FIR said the nexus of “retweeting the mischievous video by the alleged person from the Twitter handlers is technically verified [by the agency].”

The FIA report said such a “violence-inducing statement made intentionally and made public by Imran Riaz Khan may cause, or is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the state or against the public tranquillity or incite or likely to incite any class or community or person to commit any offence against any other class or community on the grounds of spreading anarchy, division in the social fabric against the state and the state institutions, bloodshed, extremism, terrorism, feelings of enmity, hatred between the people of Pakistan:

It said the consequences of such mischievous statements rendered “dire consequences both nationally and internationally for the state of Pakistan”.

The FIA said such intimidating/threatening statements were a mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between the general public and the state institutions.

“Prima facie, the alleged person namely Imran Riaz has committed offences u/s 11, 20, 24 of PECA 2016 R/w 131, 500, 505, 109 — PPC. Hence, a case may be registered against the accused while the role of other accomplices (if any) will be determined during the course of the investigation,” it added.

A video shared by PTI’s official Twitter account shows the journalist at FIA’s cybercrime office.

Condemning the journalist’s arrest, PTI general secretary Asad Umar said that while journalists and politicians were in jail, “terrorists are walking free in the country”.
Source: Dawn

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KP policemen take to streets in uniform against Peshawar suicide bombing

February 2, 2023

PESHAWAR: Police in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa held protest march to condemn the Monday bombing of a mosque inside a compound that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded.

In an unprecedented move and what is believed to be the first of its kind, over 24 uniformed police personnel gathered outside Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday and chanted slogans for peace.

They demanded independent investigation into the blast in mosque at the police lines in Peshawar.

The daughter of martyred police officer Irfan Khan weeps during a protest by police officers to condemn the suicide blast in a mosque in Peshawar on February 1, 2023.—Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

They were holding placards inscribed with different slogans. They said that they wanted to raise their voice against the injustice with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police.

The protesting policemen said that their protest was against the ‘system’ and they were compelled to take to the streets owing to the deteriorating law and order situation in the province and seek justice for the victims of terrorist attacks.

Seek justice for victims of terrorist attacks

In Mardan, policemen gathered outside the local press club and held a protest to demand effective measures for protection of law enforcers.

They stated that police were fighting as frontline force in the war against terrorism and rendered countless sacrifices. They questioned the explosion in a highly guarded and sensitive area. They also demanded judicial inquiry into the incident.

In Swabi, police personnel gathered outside the district headquarters and marched till Karnal Sher Khan Chowk where they staged a protested against the Peshawar blast.

The protesters were holding placards inscribed with different slogans against the dreadful suicide attack. They stated that they were being killed by unidentified people. They demanded an independent investigation into the Peshawar blast.

In Swat, police held special prayers and Quran Khwani at Javed Iqbal Shaheed Police Lines.

Malakand Regional Police Officer Sajjad Khan, Swat District Police Officer Shafiullah Khan Gandapur, Additional SP Rahim Hussain Khan, SPs Izhar Shah and Pir Zar Badshah and other officers were present on the occasion.

RPO Sajjad Khan stated history of police was full of sacrifices. He condoled with the families of those policemen, who embraced martyrdom in the suicide attack in Peshawar on Monday.

In Charsadda, a police darbar was organised where Quran Khwani was held for the departed souls and recovery of injured cops. SP Sajjad Khan, station house officers and police constable were present on the occasion.

DPO Sohail Khalid stated that they were facing a ‘coward’ enemy, who could not fight face to face. He said that morale of every official of police department was high. “Terrorists cannot demoralise us with such actions,” he said and added that they were protecting their nation.

In Shangla, police organised Quran Khwani for the victims of Peshawar blast. The police officers and personnel also offered prayers for departed souls of police martyrs. They demanded peace across the province and end to bloodshed.

Civil society members in Alpuri also staged a protest rally against the Peshawar blast and demanded justice for the martyred police personals and protection for residents of the province.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan gets 340 suggestions to improve human rights situation

Amin Ahmed

February 2, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has received 340 recommendations from UN member states on its fourth periodic report on the human rights situation in the country, and the government will examine these recommendations and report back to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in its forthcoming meeting.

A draft report prepared on Wednesday by the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, available with Dawn, stated: “All conclusions and/or recommendations contained in the present report reflect the position of the submitting state(s) and/or the state under review. They should not be construed as endorsed by the Working Group as a whole.”

Pakistan’s response to the recommendations will be included in the outcome report adopted by the HRC at its 53rd session, it added.

The HRC selected Argentina, Gambia and Nepal as the group of rapporteurs (troika) to facilitate the review of Pakistan.

UN member states complete review of Islamabad’s fourth periodic report on human rights

A list of questions prepared in advance by Angola, Belgium, Germany, Liech­tenstein, Panama, Portugal — on behalf of Group of Friends on national mechanisms for implementation, reporting and follow-up — Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the United States was transmitted to Pakistan through the troika.

During the interactive dialogue, 122 delegations made statements. Canada proposed to develop a strong policy and delivery mechanism to ensure the registration of women voters, and protect women voters from violence and disenfranchisement as they cast their ballots.

Several countries demanded ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and incorporate it into domestic law.

Luxembourg proposed placement of moratorium on death penalty and ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at abolition of the death penalty.

Poland called for fully respecting freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the international human rights law, in particular by: reforming blasphemy laws, especially as regards the existing legal possibility of punishing blasphemers by death, which creates a climate conducive to extrajudicial killings; repealing other legal provisions discriminating against members belonging to religious minorities; halting abductions, forced marriages and forced conversions of women and girls from religious minorities.

The US demanded repealing or amending blasphemy laws, and ending other discriminatory laws used against members of Ahmadi and other religious minority communities.

Source: Dawn

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North America


Pentagon says US military helped intercept Houthi-bound weapons from Iran

02 February ,2023

The US military revealed Wednesday that it played a role in an operation last month that intercepted an Iranian shipment of weapons to Yemen’s Houthis.

The Wall Street Journal, citing officials familiar with the operation, reported that French special forces stopped a suspicious vessel on January 15 and found 3,000 assault rifles, 20 anti-tank missiles, and around 500,000 rounds of ammunition.

The US Central Command quickly came out with its own statement, saying that information sharing and coordinated efforts between international forces and CENTCOM maritime forces led to the successful operation.

“The weapons were seized along routes historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully from Iran to Yemen. The direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Houthis in Yemen violates UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law,” the CENTCOM statement read.

US forces have stepped up their efforts to monitor the waters in the region alongside its Gulf and Arab allies.

CENTCOM said the latest operation was one of the four “significant illicit cargo interdictions” over the last last two months, preventing over 5,000 weapons and 1.6 million rounds of ammunition from reaching Yemen.

Joe Bahout, the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut (AUB), said Europe was taking on a more significant role in helping foil Iranian weapons shipments to Yemen.

“Until recently, the #US military had taken the lead in hunting down weapons smugglers ferrying supplies to the #Houthis. Now, #France the #UK are playing a greater role,” Bahout said in a tweet.

The US Navy intercepted a fishing vessel with weapons heading to Yemen from Iran on January 6, making it the third operation since November.

In 2021, CENTCOM says it prevented 9,000 illegal weapons from reaching Yemen, representing a 200 percent increase in weapons seized over the previous year.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US denounces Sudan release of killer of US aid worker

01 February ,2023

The US on Wednesday voiced alarm over Sudan's release of a man sentenced to death over the killing of an American development worker, denying there was any understanding between the countries.

Extremist gunmen shot dead John Granville, a 33-year-old US Agency for International Development employee, along with his 40-year-old Sudanese driver Abdel Rahman Abbas in a hail of bullets on New Year's Day 2008.

Sudanese authorities on Monday freed Abdelraouf Abu Zaid, who was convicted over the killing, with his lawyer saying it was a court decision in line with a 2020 compensation package by Sudan to Washington for past terrorism.

“We are deeply troubled by the lack of transparency in the legal process that resulted in the release of the only individual remaining in custody,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

He said it was “inaccurate” that the US had agreed to the release as part of the 2020 deal, which removed Sudan from a blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism dating from the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir.

As part of the deal brokered by then premier Abdalla Hamdok, impoverished Sudan paid $335 million to American survivors and families of victims killed in past attacks.

Hamdok, a civilian heading a transitional government, was seeking to reintegrate Sudan into the international community but he was ousted the following year by the military, setting back relations with the US which froze $700 million in economic support.

Source: Al Arabiya

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New US military strategy on display during ‘largest ever’ joint exercise with Israel

01 February ,2023

Last week, the joint military drills between the US and Israel sent a strong signal to Iran that the countries are prepared to counter any malign activities carried out by Tehran or its proxies. But Juniper Oak 23.2 was about more than demonstrating Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security, according to officials.

The US is looking to alter the way it intervenes in areas of conflict and war zones, which was displayed during last week’s exercise that the Pentagon said was the largest of its kind in history.

With around 6,400 American troops and more than 140 aircraft, including B-52s, F35s, F15s, F16s, High Mobility Rocket Artillery Systems (HIMARS), Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), and long-range bombers, the drill had three main messages, a senior US defense official said.

“Increasingly, we want to shift to a posture whereby we still have a significant presence that’s sustainable in the region, but we are able to surge dynamically forces into the region when we have indications and warnings of a threat,” the official told Al Arabiya English.

In other words, the US is looking to move away from deploying thousands of troops into a country or battlefield, as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, and looking towards the strategy of dynamic force employment, or DFE.

DFE was described in the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) as allowing the Defense Department to “more flexibly use ready forces to shape proactively the strategic environment while maintaining readiness to respond to contingencies and ensure long-term warfighting readiness.”

Last year’s NDS did not mention DFE but said the Pentagon would explore “force employment concepts and capabilities that degrade adversary power projection while weighing crisis stability and escalation risk.”

The DFE strategy would allow the US to rapidly send forces on a mission for a limited period and, once completed, return.

But to do so, the US needs to be able to fall in on partners who are highly interoperable and “already plugged in and integrated into our networks,” the defense official said.

Last week’s exercise demonstrated that the US and Israel can already implement this strategy. The official said that Juniper Oak was put together in a “couple of months,” whereas one to two years of planning are typically needed for drills of this nature.

However, DFE comes with certain risks, said Gen. Frank McKenzie, the former commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM).

“There’s vast potential friction associated with these types of things. You can’t always count on forces getting there as quickly as you’d like, particularly if the deployment is contested. That would be very hard to do,” Gen. Frank McKenzie told Al Arabiya English.

Nevertheless, Gen. McKenzie believes it is a good idea. “I think it gives the secretary a lot more arrows in his quiver to respond more flexibly.”

The secretary of defense is the only person that has the authority to move forces around at his direction as part of DFE, McKenzie noted.

US military posture remains steady

Iran was not the only adversary watching the live-fire exercise last week, although Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the drills were not meant to be oriented around “any single adversary or threat.”

Russia and China were also being sent an indirect message, according to the senior US defense official, who spoke to Al Arabiya English on condition of anonymity.

At a time when the US is focused on supporting Ukraine’s fight back against Russia’s invasion and reclaiming captured territories, the threat of China invading Taiwan remains a strong possibility.

The official said that the multi-domain nature of last week’s drills showcased the US military’s ability to quickly carry out a mission while upholding its commitments in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.

At the same time, the official added, Washington’s Arab and Gulf allies should see the drill as a further sign of the US’s commitment to their safety and security.

“What we need to make sure people understand is we are going to move forces in, [and] we are going to move forces out; but we can do that at a speed and scale so that people aren’t judging,” the official said.

That message is meant for allies and partners as well as adversaries, not to simply look at the number of troops in the region to determine the US military posture.

“What we’re trying to suggest is what we have now is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can bring to bear if necessary,” said the US defense official.

Asked at the start of Juniper Oak if there were any messages to US allies in the region, Brig. Gen. Ryder said: “It demonstrates the fact that the United States is a reliable partner, that we’re going to continue to work together to ensure the security and the stability of the region.”

Gen. McKenzie commended the Juniper Oak exercise and praised his successor, Gen. Erik Kurilla, and CENTCOM for their “really remarkable work.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Canada's anti-Islamophobia representative 'extremely sorry' for offending Quebecers

Barry Ellsworth  



Canada's new anti-Islamophobia representative apologized Wednesday for saying a "majority of Quebecers" who support Bill 21 are anti-Muslim. 

The bill bans religious symbols, including the hijab, to be worn by most public servants in the workplace.

"I would like to say that I am extremely sorry for the way that my words have carried, how I have hurt the people of Quebec,” Amira Elghawaby told reporters. "I understand that the words and the way that I said them have hurt the people of Quebec. I have been listening very carefully. I have heard you and I know what you're feeling and I'm sorry."

Elghawaby was appointed last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as his government's special anti-Islamophobia representative.

The legislation has come under fire as anti-Muslim from Muslims who say it forces them to choose between religion and their employment.

Elghawaby co-penned a column that appeared in an Ottawa newspaper in 2019 that said based on a poll, Quebecers who supported Bill 21 were anti-Muslim.

"Unfortunately, the majority of Quebecers appear to be swayed not by the rule of law, but by anti-Muslim sentiment," wrote Elghawaby and co-author Bernie Farber, former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Since the column surfaced, several Quebec politicians called for her resignation.

But Trudeau supported Elghawaby.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Canadian court convicts pair of assault of Muslim father

Barry Ellsworth  



A Canadian court Tuesday found two men guilty of assault of a Muslim father, an attack that displayed the "darkest side of humanity," the victim's wife said at a press conference following the verdict.

The unprovoked attack on Mohammed Abu Marzouk, which left the father of two with 10-15 skull fractures and brain bleeding, happened in July 2018.

Abu Marzouk, 39, his wife Diana Attar and their two daughters aged four and six, were about to head home after a picnic in Mississauga, a city adjacent to Toronto.

Two men came toward the vehicle and Abu Marzouk got out to speak to them. They had indicated that they had been hit or nearly so by the vehicle. One of the men struck Abu Marzouk in the face, and the beating began as his daughters watched from inside the van.

His wife begged them to stop and then saw a police car and ran for help. Abu Marzouk was found lying in a pool of blood coming from his head. He was rushed to a trauma center with life-threatening injuries. During the attack, the men were heard insulting and cursing Arabs.

Apparently taking those words into consideration, Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson characterized the assault as "anti-Arab, not anti-Muslim."

Attar called the vicious assault "the darkest side of humanity, one that we would not wish upon anyone."

The family has faced emotional, physical and financial hardship as a result of the attack, and Canada should do more to help victims, an official with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said in a statement.

“We need to change this pattern of neglect and hardship for survivors of such attacks,” said NCCM Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Nadia Hasan. “These survivors deserve help, yet as a country we have not done enough."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Militants kill eight soldiers in northwest Syria: monitor

February 01, 2023

BEIRUT: Eight Syrian soldiers were killed in the country’s northwest on Wednesday in an attack carried out by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham militant group, a war monitor reported.

“HTS fired shells and rockets at a Syrian military post, killing eight soldiers near KafrRuma in Idlib province,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

HTS is headed by ex-members of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda franchise.

Syrian state media did not immediately report the attack.

About half of the northwestern province of Idlib and areas bordering the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia are dominated by HTS and other rebel factions.

The Idlib region is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that since the end of 2022, the militants “have intensified operations against regime forces in Idlib... in the context of a rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus.”

He said exchanges of fire and clashes between regime forces and militant factions had killed 63 people since the start of the year, 45 of them pro-regime forces. One of the 18 militants was a French national.

Ankara became a sworn enemy of Damascus when it began backing rebel efforts to topple Assad at the start of the civil war.

But in late December the defense ministers of Turkiye and Syria held landmark negotiations in Moscow — the first such meeting since 2011.

The mooted reconciliation has alarmed Syrian opposition leaders and supporters who reside mostly in parts of the war-torn country under Ankara’s indirect control.

President Bashar Assad said in January that a Moscow-brokered rapprochement with Turkiye should aim for “the end of occupation” by Ankara of parts of Syria.

Turkiye has military bases in northern Syria and backs some local groups fighting the regime and against Syrian Kurdish forces which it considers “terrorist” groups.

Ankara has never publicly backed hard-line group HTS but is believed to coordinate with its forces.

HTS, which is sanctioned by the UN as a terrorist organization, formally broke ties with Al-Qaeda in 2016 and incorporated a number of smaller Syrian rebel factions in a major re-branding effort.

Widely seen as the strongest and best organized of Syria’s rebel groups, it has presented itself as the mainstay of Syria’s opposition.

With Russian and Iranian support, Damascus has clawed back much of the ground lost in the early stages of Syria’s conflict, which erupted in 2011 when Assad’s government brutally repressed pro-democracy protests.

The war has killed nearly half a million people since it broke out over a decade ago, displacing almost half of Syria’s pre-war population.

Source: Arab News

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No end to executions in Saudi Arabia, report shows

Qasim A. Moini

February 2, 2023

KARACHI: While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has rebranded itself as a country open to investment, tourism and engagement with the rest of the world under powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, also known as MBS, the desert kingdom’s reputation as one of the largest executioners in the globe persists.

Figures compiled in a fresh report by UK-based human rights NGO Reprieve, point to the disturbing fact that under the crown prince’s watch, hundreds of people have been put to death.

In fact, 2022 was amongst the bloodiest years on record, with 147 people executed. The report claims that after MBS’s father King Salman took the throne in 2015, executions went up by 82 per cent.

The report, Bloodshed and Lies: Mohammed bin Salman’s Kingdom of Executions, has been compiled by Reprieve and the Berlin-based European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights. BBC News also recently highlighted its findings.

According to the document, at least 1,243 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia between 2010 and 2021.

The bloodiest single-day round of executions took place on March 12 last year, when 81 individuals were given capital punishment. Nearly half of the men were from the Kingdom’s Shia minority. Some were accused of pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, including the self-styled Islamic State, Al Qaeda as well as the Houthi movement of Yemen.

Earlier, in 2016, 47 people were killed, including outspoken Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir an-Nimr. Moreover, during the period covered, the greatest number of foreign nationals executed by Saudi Arabia happen to be Pakistanis.

As per families of some of the victims BBC News spoke to, they were not informed in advance of their loved ones’ execution, while in some cases they were not given the bodies for burial after their sentence was carried out.

According to the Reprieve report, problems arise due to the opacity of the Saudi legal system and lack of due process, leading to questions about the arbitrary use of the death penalty.

The report says that there is “a legacy of discrimination, injustice, misrepresentation and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty from 2010 to 2021.” Particularly problematic is the use of capital punishment against minors, and “disproportionate” use against foreigners and women. It adds that since 2010, at least 15 individuals have been executed for crimes they allegedly committed when they were under 18.

The Reprieve document also claims that a female Indonesian domestic staffer was executed in 2011 after she hit and killed her employer in self-defence after he tried to rape her. As she was fleeing her employer’s house after the incident, she was gang-raped by nine men.

The report says that out of the 490 foreign nationals executed by Saudi Arabia during 2010-2021, Pakistanis make up the highest number, 164. Yemenis and Syrians come in second and third, respectively. In the case of seven Pakistanis, all the men were denied access to interpreters and a lawyer, while they were also not granted consular assistance.

“There is no robust mechanism within Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system to ensure that defendants are provided with legal representation. Some foreign nationals may lack the financial resources to afford legal representation in their cases,” it adds.

According to the BBC report, in 2018 MBS had promised to “minimise” use of the death penalty. However, Saudi Arabia appears to have done quite the opposite, applying capital punishment to offences that do not meet the “most serious crimes” threshold, while also apparently executing individuals for their political views or for demanding fundamental rights. Multiple requests by the BBC to the Saudi Human Rights Commission went unanswered.

However, the Kingdom’s mission in London replied to queries about the report, by saying that “As we respect their right [of other nations] to determine their own laws and customs, we hope that others will respect our sovereign right to follow our own judicial and legislative choices.”

Source: Dawn

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Saudi Arabia’s FM arrives in Baghdad for talks on strategic ties

02 February ,2023

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has arrived on an official visit to Iraq’s capital of Baghdad for talks on enhancing strategic ties, Al Arabiya reported on Thursday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE envoy to UN Lana Nusseibeh named 2023 Counter-Terrorism Committee chair

02 February ,2023

Lana Nusseibeh, the Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN has been named the new chair of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee.

The seasoned diplomat has served as the UAE Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN since 2013.

She was the Assistant Minister for Political Affairs since February 2021 and the non-resident Ambassador of the UAE to Grenada since November 2017.

Before her appointment as the UN envoy, Nusseibeh served with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, where she established the ministry’s Policy Planning Department in 2009 and was its first director for three years.

In 2017, she was awarded the UAE Prime Minister’s Government Excellence Award.

Nusseibeh has earned a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Cambridge and an MA with Distinction in Israeli and Jewish Diaspora Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

The Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) was established in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks against the US in 2001. Last year, India’s Permanent Ambassador to United Nations Ruchira Kamboj chaired the CTC.

The department works on a wide range of global concerns including countering the financing of terrorism border security and arms trafficking, human rights, countering violent extremism and terrorist narratives, and more.

Located in a region prone to conflict, from Iran to Iraq, the UAE makes one part of the GCC group of countries that share a long history of peace and security. It routinely strives to combat extremist ideologies and terrorism in the form of tackling groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda.

One such instance is the establishment of the Sawab Centre by the UAE and the US in March 2015, which hosts an interactive online messaging initiative to support the efforts of the Global Coalition against Daesh in its fight against extremism and terrorism.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, France’s FM discuss regional, global developments

02 February ,2023

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna discussed ongoing regional and global developments in a meeting held in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

The Crown Prince and French minister discussed bilateral relations between the Kingdom and France and ways to enhance them in various fields.

The two also reviewed the efforts both of their countries were taking to deal with regional and international developments, the SPA report added.

The meeting was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy; Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Minister of State, Cabinet’s Member and National Security Advisor, Dr. Musaed bin Mohammed al-Aiban, and the Saudi Ambassador to the Republic of France, Fahd al-Ruwaili.

France’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Ludovic Pouille and other French officials also attended the meeting, according to SPA.

The French minister arrived on an official visit to the Kingdom on Wednesday and was greeted at the King Khalid International Airport by Deputy Foreign Minister Eng. Waleed al-Khuraiji.

Saudi Arabia and France have long-lasting ties that date back to 1926, when the European country first sent a consul in charge of French affairs to Riyadh. France then established a diplomatic mission in Jeddah in 1932.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses strengthening relations with Iraq

February 02, 2023

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, affirmed on Thursday that economic relations with Iraq were developing significantly.

Al-Saud made the statement during a press conference held in Iraq with the country’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.

Hussein said ‘security cooperation continues with Saudi Arabia’ and added they were ‘working to reduce tensions in the region.’

Al-Saud also highlighted the depth of relations with Iraq, which he stated had ‘witnessed great momentum recently.’

“We support the Iraqi government’s effort to enhance stability,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi foreign minister reviews relations with OIC chief, Cypriot and Kyrgyz counterparts

February 02, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, HisseinBrahim Taha, the ministry said on Wednesday.

During the call, they reviewed aspects of cooperation between the Kingdom and the OIC in various fields, in addition to discussing the most prominent regional and international developments.

Prince Faisal also received separate calls from his Cypriot counterpart IoannisKasoulides and his Kyrgyz counterpart ZheenbekKulubaev, the ministry said.

Source: Arab News

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Social Responsibility Forum kicks off in Riyadh


February 01, 2023

RIYADH: The 2023 Social Responsibility Forum launched on Wednesday at Riyadh’s InterContinental Hotel, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Representatives from the public and private sectors, company CEOs as well as heads of local authorities and organizations are taking part in the event.

The support of the Kingdom’s leadership in promoting social responsibility was lauded in a speech by Saudi Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Majid bin Abdul Rahim bin Salem Al-Ghanmi.

He noted that the Saudi Council of Ministers will mark March 23 as an annual Day of Social Responsibility in the Kingdom for the first time this year.

The association’s CEO, Abdullah Al-Muhanna, said that the forum will also tackle the Kingdom’s experience of social responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ways to incorporate the private and nonprofit sectors in promoting civic duties.

Saud Al-Subaie, chairman of the association’s board of directors, stressed the importance of bridging the gap between the public, private and nonprofit sectors in promoting social responsibility to achieve sustainable development.

“It is very important to achieve sustainable development in social responsibility, rooting social work in a framework, conducting research and scientific studies, in addition to spreading public awareness about social responsibility issues and monitoring social responsibility experiences with the relevant authorities,” Al-Subaie told Arab News.

“Partnerships between active institutions in the three sectors are due to be signed in relation to the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in the social responsibility sector,” he added.

Al-Subaie praised the private sector’s growing interest in its “internal and external environment,” including the long-term strategy of Saudization.

Source: Arab News

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Türkiye concerned by 'increasing anti-Islamic rhetoric, actions in Europe',says Erdogan


Growing anti-Islamic rhetoric in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries, is a cause for concern for Türkiye, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

“We are concerned about the increasing anti-Islamic rhetoric and actions in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries,” Erdogan said in a televised interview in Ankara, referring to recent attacks on Islam’s holy book the Quran in Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Türkiye expects “sincere steps from Sweden in the fight against Islamophobia,” he said.

“We expect Sweden and Finland to fully comply with their commitments in the tripartite memorandum,” Erdogan said, referring to an agreement signed last June between Türkiye and the two Nordic states for their NATO membership.

Terming the memorandum of understanding a “roadmap,” he said it is essential that the countries fulfill their promises, especially in the fight against terrorism.

Apologies from Sweden will not fix the issues, he said, adding that the country has become “a safe haven for terrorist organizations.”

Sweden has not fulfilled its commitments regarding the fight against terrorism under the memorandum, he said, adding the terrorist groups continue their activities in Sweden.

Terror organizations have targeted Türkiye in "the ugliest way," he said, adding that due to recent developments, we had to postpone visits of the Swedish Parliament Speaker and defense minister.

Recent attacks targeting Muslims and insulting sacred values is a "hate crime," he said, adding under the guise of freedom of expression, it is "unacceptable to openly and publicly commit hate crimes against Muslims."

His statement comes after Danish-Swedish extremist Rasmus Paludan last week burned copies of the Quran on two separate occasions, outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden and then in front of a mosque in Denmark.

Paludan said he would burn the Muslim holy book every Friday until Sweden is admitted to the NATO alliance.

Edwin Wagensveld, a far-right Dutch politician and leader of the Islamophobic group, Pegida, also tore out pages from a Quran in The Hague and burned the pages in a pan. He posted an internet video of the act.

Expecting its allies to address Türkiye's security concerns, he said: "As of the moment, we do not favor Sweden's NATO bid. also, we evaluate Finland's membership process differently. If Finland manages the process as it is now, we will do our part."

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, a decision spurred by Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Under a memorandum signed last June between Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland, the two Nordic countries pledged to take steps against terrorists to gain membership in the NATO alliance.

In the agreement, Sweden and Finland agreed not to provide support to terror groups such as the PKK and its offshoots, and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and to extradite terror suspects to Türkiye, among other steps.

- Sending tanks not element for solution

Turning to the Ukraine war, Erdogan said: “I cannot say that sending tanks to Ukraine could be an element of a solution. All of this is risky and only benefits gun barons."

He said: "Is the sending tanks and ectara by the US and Germany to Ukraine a solution?", asserting that he will continue talks with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to find a way to secure lasting peace.

So far, the US announced it will supply 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine while Germany will send 14 Leopard 2 tanks and authorized other countries to transfer to Ukraine German-made tanks from their inventories.

Norway, Slovakia, the UK, France and Poland also announced they will provide Ukraine with armored vehicles.

Ankara is always ready to take on the role of facilitator and mediator for lasting peace, he said, adding we expect support from Europe and the world to call for peace and negotiation.

He emphasized that they are always part of the solution regarding the grain corridor, prisoner exchange and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and humanitarian aid.

Negotiations need to be supported with the declaration of a cease-fire and the vision of a fair solution, he said.

"I always keep my hopes for peace alive. If I had lost this hope, the grain corridor would not have been opened, there would have been no prisoner exchange," he said.

- Tensions with Greece,

On tensions with Greece, he said Türkiye “will not just stand by as Greece takes actions that threaten its security,” vowing that Ankara “will respond both legally and in the field.”

Greece’s recent attitude toward Türkiye is against the spirit of good neighborly relations and the NATO alliance, he said, adding it is neither "possible to explain nor accept the attitude that Greece has taken toward Türkiye in the last period."

He reiterated that Athens is arming islands very close to Türkiye’s coasts and major settlements in violation of international law.

“Greece's allegations that Türkiye violates its airspace are baseless. Actually, Greece violates our airspace and increases tensions,” he said, adding, “of course, our air force and coast guard do not and will not leave these hostile actions unanswered."

- Türkiye, Russia, Syria meeting

Touching on the latest development on ongoing operations as a part of Türkiye's fight against terrorism, Erdogan said his country’s fight against terrorism also contributes to the preservation of Syria's territorial integrity and unity. Therefore, (Syria's Bashar al-Assad) regime should be aware.

The regime should fight against "the separatist attitude of the terrorist organizations of the PKK/YPG and the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces)," he said.

Speaking about the process of establishing dialogue between Türkiye and Syria, Erdogan said: "A gradual work is being carried out in the dialogue with the Syrian regime."

"The attitudes of the parties will determine how the dialogue process between Türkiye and Syria will be shaped. In any case, we take the necessary measures to protect our national security," he said.

"Finding a solution to the conflict by advancing the political process may constitute a window of opportunity," he said.

The return of the Syrians should be "voluntarily, safely, and in a dignified manner," he said, adding that currently, approximately 500,000 refugees have started to voluntarily return to Syria.

Although no date or location has yet been announced, the foreign ministers of the Türkiye, Russia and Syria are expected to meet, which would mark another high level of talks since the Syrian civil war began in early 2011.

Source: YeniSafak

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad delegation heads to Egypt amid tensions

2nd February 2023

Gaza: A delegation of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militant group will head to Egypt on Thursday for dialogue on defusing the escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine, an official said.

Dawood Shehab, a PIJ leader from Gaza, told reporters that the group’s secretary-general Ziad Al-Nakhala, at the invitation of Egypt, will lead the delegation to discuss the escalating violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem with Egyptian security intelligence officials.

The meeting comes after a series of deadly incidents in the region.

On January 26, Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied northern West Bank and killed nine Palestinians and wounded 16 others.

A day later, a gunman opened fire on people near a synagogue at a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, killing at least seven people.

Source:Siasat Daily

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Report: Foreign-Backed Kurdish Groups Involved in Failed Drone Attack on Iran's Military Facility


Nour News reported on Wednesday that the terrorists, ordered by a foreign intelligence service, smuggled the constituent parts of a micro aerial vehicle and explosive materials from the Kurdistan region into Iran through far-flung and arduous routes, and handed them over to a liaison in a border city in the Northwestern part of the country.

The drone parts and explosives were then assembled at a modern workshop by a group of specialists and were used in the attack, the report added.

The Iranian Defense Ministry on Sunday announced that the country's air defense units had thwarted a drone raid on a military workshop in Isfahan. Tehran confirmed that the unsuccessful attack did not cause any loss of life and only led to minor damage to the roof of a workshop.

Several news outlets reported that Israel had launched the strike. There was initial speculation in the Arab media that the explosions in Isfahan were the result of a US Air Force operation. But, Pentagon Spokesperson Patrick Ryder has stated that no American forces were involved in the strike, but declined to comment further.

Iranian officials would not assign blame to any party but have stressed that sabotage acts could by no means pressure Tehran to stop its nuclear progress.

Since late September, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has launched a series of aerial operations on the headquarters of Iraqi Kurdistan-based terrorist groups. The military operation came after the illegal entry of armed teams linked with the Kurdish terrorist groups into the Iranian border cities in recent months.

The IRGC Ground Force has announced that the operations against terror bases will continue until all anti-Iran separatist and terrorist outfits holed up in the rugged mountainous area lay down their arms and surrender.

Iran said diplomacy failed to put an end to the terror activities in the Kurdistan region, and added that that military operations against terror groups based in the region aim to defend the country’s national security.

The Iranian Armed Forces, specially the IRGC, have repeatedly warned that they will never tolerate the presence and activity of terrorist groups along the Northwestern border and will give strong and decisive responses in case of anti-security activities.

The IRGC has on countless occasions attacked and destroyed terrorist hideouts in the Kurdistan region with artillery fire, missiles and drones.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran's Military Chief Calls for Broadening of Cooperation with N. Korea


Major General Baqeri congratulated Pak Su-il on his appointment as the new General Staff Department (GSD) of the Korean People's Army.

"Mutual cooperation on the path of establishing regional peace and stability and countering any disruptive measures of global security and unilateralism should be further developed," the top commander said in his congratulatory message.

He also wished the government and the nation of North Korea success and glory.

Several American officials have publicly stated that the United States is concerned about Iran’s cooperation with North Korea and will do whatever it can to prevent it.

But analysts say warm relations between Iran and North Korea have showed that decades of Washington's efforts to isolate the two states internationally have actually pushed them closer together.

Tehran, which has its own sad experience in dealing with Washington, has repeatedly warned Pyongyang that the Asian country should be aware US' tendency to betray deals when they talk about denuclearization.

Source: Fars News Agency

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President Rayeesi Blames US, Europe for Inciting Iran's Unrest


President Rayeesi made the remarks in a televised interview on Tuesday, calling the foreign-backed riots and the sanctions two sides of the same coin.

He noted how the sanctions had failed to bring production in the country to a standstill, prevent the country from experiencing five-percent economic progress, and creation of close to one million jobs across the nation.

"Whatever it (the enemy) was after [stifling], has been [contrarily] realized thanks to the nation's will and the government's intention to serve [the people]," Iran's president continued, adding, "Therefore, it is natural that the enemy should be angry at us."

"One of the reasons [behind the enemy's fomenting] of the recent riots was the very fact that it was witnessing that its sanctions have been neutralized thanks to the efforts of our statesmen and the steadfastness of the people," the chief executive stated.

"While the enemies are trying to stop the country's progress, our people have resolved to move forward," he remarked, asserting that the course of the country's advancement would gather further momentum every day owing to the nation's willpower and the government's determination to be at the nation's service.

The president said the recent riots had played a role in reducing income generation levels across the country, and, in turn, increased the dollar's exchange rate, but assured the nation that the country's foreign exchange reserves currently stood at a "good and reliable" level.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of MahsaAmini who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent.

An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization announced that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

The unrest has claimed the lives of dozens of people and security forces, while also allowing acts of terror and sabotage across the country. Iran's Interior Ministry has confirmed the enemy waged a hybrid war against the country to weaken national solidarity and hinder the country's progress, stressing that some 200 people lost their lives in the riots sparked by separatist and terrorist groups.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Strongly Condemns Israel's Brutal Repression of Female Palestinian Inmates


“Beating female Palestinian inmates in Zionist Regime’s Damon Prison [is] abhorrent,” Kana’ani tweeted late on Tuesday.

The spokerperson also denounced the Western governments’ double standards on human rights and women’s rights.

“Do self-proclaimed rights defenders in Europe and US believe human rights and women’s rights apply to Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s horrifying jails?” the diplomat asked rhetorically.

Israeli jail authorities assaulted Palestinian women prisoners on Tuesday morning amid a push to enforce strict new measures against Palestinian inmates introduced by Israel's far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli forces beat women prisoners in Damon jail, fired tear gas at them and used pepper spray.

The Palestinian Authority's prisoners' affairs commission announced that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) also confiscated electronic devices and some personal items from the prisoners in what it called "collective punishment".

The assault on women prisoners caused anger among Palestinian detainees across all Israeli jails. The rise in prison tensions follows a week of violence across the occupied Palestinian territories.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Human Right Chief: Iran, Iraq to Launch Joint Task Force to Deal with Terror Groups


Qaribabadi landed in Iraq's capital on Monday in order to follow up on the 2020 US terror attack on Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his companions.

Speaking on results of his trip to Baghdad, the judiciary official said several important issues were discussed during the meetings in Iraq, including speeding up the handling of the case of the assassination of Lt. Gen. Soleimani.

He emphasized that it was decided to start the process of investigation into the case of Martyr Soleimani and his companions in the Iraqi judicial system.

The head of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq has assured the Iranian side that there is a serious interest in dealing with the assassination of the top commander in the Iraqi judicial system and he feels a heavy responsibility in this regard, the official continued.

"There was consultation with the Iraqi officials dealing with the terrorist groups because both countries have suffered a lot from the actions of the terrorist groups and MKO," Qaribabadi underscored.

He also announced the agreement of the two countries to form a joint task force to prosecute terrorist groups in the international courts.

The human right chief stated that this understanding will be finalized in the next two months at most, and then its implementation phase will begin.

"There was an MoU about the exchange of judicial and legal experiences, management of prisons and dealing with the problems of Iranian and Iraqi prisoners, and in almost two months, about 30 Iranian prisoners in Iraq will be transferred to Iran," the secretary of the High Council for Human Rights underlined.

Lieutenant General Soleimani, Abul Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s PMU, and ten of their deputies were martyred by an armed drone strike that was directly ordered by the White House as their convoy left Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

Both commanders were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasized that Tehran will certainly take revenge from the masterminds and perpetrators of the terror attack on the anti-terror icon. Tehran stresses Americans and Zionists rest assured that it is serious about revenge for the assassination of Martyr Soleimani, and they continue to live under the shadow of Iran's reprisal since they don't know when and where they come under attack.

On January 8, the the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) targeted the US-run Ein Al-Assad in Iraq’s Western province of Al-Anbar by launching a volley of missiles in retaliation. According to the Pentagon, at least 110 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base. Iran has described the missile attack as a “first slap".

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian FM Hails Mauritania for Efforts to Fight Terrorism in Africa's Sahara Region


During the meeting, the two sides discussed bilateral relations in different fields particularly technology, culture, economy and trade. They also discussed regional and international developments.

The Iranian foreign minister, meantime, appreciated efforts by the Mauritanian president and his initiative for the purpose of establishing peace and security and fighting terrorism in the Sahara region.

The Mauritanian president, for his part, described ties between Iran and Mauritania as historical and strong.

President Ghazouani then pointed to the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in fighting terrorism.

Putting emphasis on Iran’s industrial, scientific and technological achievements, the Mauritanian president also stressed the need to expand relations with Iran.

In a relevant development last month, Amir Abdollahian and his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra in a telephone conversation condemned the desecration of Islam's religious sanctities, and called for a lawful and international mechanism to stop such moves against holy sites.

During the phone talk, Amir Abdollahian called on the international organizations to take serious measures against the Islamophobia.

The top Iranian diplomat made the call during a phone conversation with his Algerian counterpart (Ramtane Lamamra) in the wake of the recent insulting cartoons published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the visit by an Israeli far-right minister to the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Al-Quds.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Spokesman: Iran's Judiciary to React Firmly to European Parliament's Improper Move


"The European Parliament's blacklisting of the IRGC was an improper action under the influence of the lobbies of the MKO terrorist group," Setayeshi said.

He pointed out that although in the eyes of Iran the action is non-binding and is lacking legitimacy on the basis of international laws and regulations; however, the act cannot be ignored.

"In accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, the IRGC is an official military force of the sacred establishment, which relies on the popularity and support among the Iranian people. We are surprised by the so-called flagbearers of human rights and rule of law, how they infringed the standards of international relations and regulations," Setayeshi added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israeli PM Netanyahu in Paris to press French President Macron on Iran

02 February ,2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday, hoping to gain support against Iran’s nuclear program but shadowed by an upsurge of violence in the region.

Israel’s Paris embassy said the pair would discuss “the international effort to stop the Iranian nuclear program.”

Netanyahu hopes that Iran’s role supplying drones to Russian invaders in Ukraine as well as the crackdown on protests at home will prompt Western allies to drop any pursuit of a revival of the 2015 deal over its atomic drive.

The prime minister has also said Israel is considering sending military aid to Ukraine, apparently dropping its previously more neutral stance over the conflict.

France agrees that “firmness” is needed in dealings with Iran, a diplomatic source told AFP, calling its nuclear program “dangerous” and highlighting its role in the Ukraine war.

Tehran also holds several foreign nationals who Western governments see as political hostages.

But Macron’s office said the French leader would “reiterate (to Netanyahu) the need for all sides to avoid measures likely to feed the cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians -- while offering “France’s solidarity with Israel in the face of terrorism.”

Netanyahu visits as Israelis and Palestinians exchanged rockets and missiles over Gaza, the latest violent episode as the conflict intensifies.

A week ago, seven were killed in a mass shooting by a Palestinian at a synagogue in annexed east Jerusalem - one day after an Israeli raid in the West Bank killed 10 Palestinians.

No press conference is planned around the Macron-Netanyahu dinner starting at 1900 GMT at the French president’s Elysée Palace office.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli armed drones use gravity bombs, can carry up to a tonne of munitions

02 February ,2023

Israeli armed drones use gravity bombs that produce no noise or smoke as they fall, making them hard for enemies to anticipate or evade, and the largest model of the aircraft can carry up to a tonne of munitions, the military says.

After more than two decades of secrecy, Israel in July went public with the existence of armed drones in its arsenal. In November, an Israeli general detailed the two corps - air force and artillery - that operate the systems in combat.

Such drones are remote-piloted, dropping bombs or carrying out surveillance before returning to base. They are distinct from the kamikaze drones that Iran said were used in a weekend attack on a defense plant in Isfahan - an incident on which Israel has declined to comment.

Briefing Reuters, a senior Israeli military officer said the armed drone fleet includes the passenger plane-sized Heron TP, made by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd, and Elbit Systems Ltd’s smaller Hermes.

The former, the officer said, “is the heaviest drone that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has, which can carry munitions, with an effective payload of around a tonne.”

The Israeli manufacturers do not publicize the armed capabilities of the drones, under what industry sources have described as a defense ministry secrecy policy.

The officer, not identified in line with military requirements given the sensitivity of the subject, said any sales of bomb-capable drones would be government-to-government, negating the need for publicity.

All the drone munitions are Israeli-made, the officer said, and “come down in free-fall, and can reach the speed of sound.”

Such bombs would not have propulsion systems that generate the tell-tale noise and smoke of fuel afterburners.

The officer declined to give further details on the munitions, saying only that, by design, when an armed drone attacks “no one will hear it, no one will see it coming.”

This would assume enough altitude so that the drones’ propeller engines cannot be clearly heard on the ground, however.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel behind Isfahan drone attack, Iran’s ambassador to the UN says

02 February ,2023

Iran blamed Israel for a drone attack on a military factory near the central city of Isfahan, the semi-official ISNA news agency said on Thursday, vowing revenge for what appeared to be the latest episode in a long-running covert war.

In a letter to the UN chief, Iran’s UN envoy, Amir SaeidIravani, said primary investigation suggested Israel was responsible for the attack on Saturday night.

“Iran preserves the right to give a firm response whenever and however it feels necessary,” Iravani said in the letter, adding, “This action undertaken by Israel goes against international law.”

The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms - including long-range “suicide drones” - for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.
Source: Al Arabiya

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Global figures urge support for protesters in Iran

01 February ,2023

Hundreds of global figures from Nobel laureates to actors have issued a joint plea urging “unstinting” support for Iranians protesting against their country’s regime in defiance of a bloody crackdown.

Demonstrations erupted in September last year over the death of MahsaAmini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women.

But protests rapidly expanded into a movement calling for the ousting of the theocratic regime that has ruled Iran since the fall of the shah in 1979.

A statement issued Wednesday by US-based rights group Freedom House said the protesters’ “victory would mean deliverance from a regime that denies free elections, free speech, due process of law, and personal autonomy in matters as simple as the choice of clothing.”

It was signed by some 480 global figures, Freedom House said, including Nobel-Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and actor Richard Gere.

The “end of the Islamic Republic’s system of misogyny would constitute a global landmark in the long march toward a world in which women are treated equally,” the statement said, adding: “They (protesters) deserve unstinting support from freedom-loving people around the world.”

Iranians have kept up acts of defiance in the face of a crackdown that has so far seen four men executed over the protests and at least 14,000 people arrested, according to the United Nations, while hundreds have been killed.

Iranian figures who signed the statement include some of the most prominent exiles backing the protest movement, such as US-based dissident Masih Alinejad, actor Golshifteh Farahani who lives in France, footballer Ali Karimi, and Reza Pahlavi, the son of the ousted shah.

The statement urged governments to sanction all Iranian officials involved in the repression, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and called for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be proscribed as a terror group.

Officials from “democratic governments should receive leaders of the opposition, in publicly announced meetings,” it added.

Freedom House president Michael Abramowitz said the statement “shows the remarkable unity of a broad coalition from around the world, across the political spectrum, and from all segments of society.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli forces kill two Palestinians during new violence

01 February ,2023

Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian who allegedly tried to stab a soldier in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, while a Palestinian teenager was shot dead after brandishing what Israeli police said was a fake pistol during an operation in east Jerusalem, according to Palestinian officials.

They were the latest deaths in a surge of violence that shows no signs of slowing. The violence comes at a time of tensions over Israel's new government, the most right wing in Israel's history.

On Wednesday, ultranationalist Cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir promised to continue visits to a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site, despite pleas from neighboring Jordan that Israel maintains a delicate status quo at the site.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man killed as Aref Abdel Nasser Lahlouh, 20. The Israeli military said the man was carrying a knife and was shot after he attempted to attack a soldier at a military post.

Video on social media showed a man getting out of a car, running toward soldiers while holding an object in his right hand, and then falling to the ground.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished the home of a Palestinian gunman who allegedly killed a female Israeli soldier at an east Jerusalem checkpoint last year. Israel says such demolitions deter future attacks, while Palestinians and rights groups say they unfairly punish people who were not involved in violence.

Police said some 300 officers and troops entered the Shuafat refugee camp to demolish the home of Uday Tamimi. Police said they opened fire on a Palestinian who they suspected was armed and aiming at forces, but the weapon turned out to be fake.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 17-year-old Mohammed Ali was killed.

Footage released by police showed the teen, his face covered and wearing a hood, among a crowd of masked youths and aiming what appears to be a pistol. The video shows him running off, dropping the weapon and then falling to the ground.

Wednesday’s deaths brought to 20 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire this year. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, making it the deadliest in those areas since 2004, according to figures by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

Tensions have been high for months as Israel has been conducting nightly arrest raids in the West Bank, which were prompted by a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis last spring. Some 30 people were killed in Israel by Palestinians in 2022.

Israel says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But others including stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions or people not involved in the violence have also been killed.

After the shooting attack last year that killed the 19-year-old soldier, the attacker fled, sparking a weeklong manhunt and tight restrictions around Shuafat. As part of the search, Israeli security forces choked off the camp’s entry and exit points, bringing life to a standstill for its estimated 60,000 residents.

Tamimi was eventually killed after opening fire at security guards at the entrance to a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist who oversees the police as Israel's new national security minister, welcomed Wednesday's demolition.

“This step is very important, but not enough at all. We must destroy all terrorists' homes and deport the terrorists themselves from the country,” he said.

He also said Wednesday he would continue visits to a sensitive sacred compound a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II met and discussed the political sensitivities at the site, which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews call the Temple Mount.

“I manage my own policy concerning the Temple Mount, not that of the Jordanian government,” Ben-Gvir told Israeli public broadcaster Kan. “I went up to the Temple Mount, I will continue to go up to the Temple Mount.”

Days after taking office, Ben-Gvir made a visit to the site, drawing condemnations from Jordan and across the Arab world. The visit was seen as a provocation, due to Ben-Gvir's past calls to change longstanding arrangements at the site.

Under an arrangement that has prevailed for decades under Jordan’s custodianship, Jews are permitted visits during certain hours but may not pray there. But Jewish religious nationalists, including Ben-Gvir, have increasingly visited the site and demanded equal prayer rights for Jews there. The Palestinians fear this is a step toward taking over the site.

The site, the emotional heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has frequently been the scene of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police. It is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Jews call it the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Source: Al Arabiya

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France seizes Iran assault rifles, missiles heading to Yemen

February 02, 2023

YEMEN: French naval forces seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles earlier this month in the Gulf of Oman coming from Iran heading to Yemen’s Houthi militia, officials said Thursday, the latest such interdiction amid the Mideast nation’s long-running war.

While Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure, images of the weapons released by the US military’s Central Command showed them to be similar to others captured by American forces in other shipments tied back to Tehran.

The announcement comes as Iran faces increasing Western pressure over its shipment of drones to arm Russia during its war on Ukraine, as well as for its violent monthslong crackdown targeting protesters. Regional tensions also have heightened after a suspected Israeli drone attack on a military workshop in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. Previous cycles of violence since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers have seen the Islamic Republic launch retaliatory attacks at sea.

The seizure occurred Jan. 15 in the Gulf of Oman, a body of water that stretches from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, through to the Arabian Sea and onto the Indian Ocean. US Central Command described the interdiction as happening “along routes historically used to traffic weapons unlawfully from Iran to Yemen.”

A United Nations resolution bans arms transfers to Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi militia, who took the country’s capital in late 2014 and have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the country's internationally recognized government since March 2015.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the seizure, identifying the forces involved as elite French special forces. A regional official with knowledge of the interdiction, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to not having permission to speak publicly on the operation’s details, similarly identified the French as carrying out the seizure.

The French military did not respond to requests for comment about capturing the weapons. US Central Command did not immediately respond to questions about the seizure, nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations. While France maintains a naval base in Abu Dhabi, it typically takes a quieter approach in the region while maintaining a diplomatic presence in Iran.

Iran long has denied arming the Houthis, though Western nations, UN experts and others have traced weaponry ranging from night-vision scopes, rifles and missiles back to Tehran. In November, the US Navy said it found 70 tons of a missile fuel component hidden among bags of fertilizer aboard a ship bound to Yemen from Iran. Houthi ballistic missile fire has targeted Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the past.

Images taken Wednesday by US Central Command, analyzed by the AP, showed a variety of weapons on board an unidentified ship apparently docked at a port. The weapons appeared to include Chinese-made Type 56 rifles, Russian-made Molot AKS20Us and PKM-pattern machine guns. All have appeared in other seizures of weapons attributed to Iran.

Source: Arab News

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