New Age Islam
Mon Nov 30 2020, 06:45 PM

Islamic World News ( 7 Feb 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Up To 13,000 Secretly Hanged In Syrian Jail, Says Amnesty














The entry of Muslims has been banned on the campus of University of Hyderabad. It was revealed when a student of HCU, Zunaira recorded her complaint with the registrar of the university.

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Up To 13,000 Secretly Hanged In Syrian Jail, Says Amnesty

Israel Parliament Legalises Settler Outposts on Palestinian Land

Muslims Banned In University Of Hyderabad, Security Officials Defend Ban

Punjab Madrasas Are Not Teaching Hate Material: Law Minister

 

Arab World

Up To 13,000 Secretly Hanged In Syrian Jail, Says Amnesty

Assad Says Family Do Not Own Syria, Ready To Be Voted Out

Air strikes on Syrian ex-Qaeda branch 'kill 26'

Air strikes hit Syria’s rebel-held Idlib city, 15 dead

Syria Rejects Amnesty ‘False’ Report Of Mass Jail Hangings

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Meets with Head of Ulemas' Council of Pakistan

Iraq ‘monitoring’ movements of Daesh leader: PM Abadi

Iraqi forces wage psychological war with Daesh terrorists’ corpses

SDF, Turkish Soldiers Engaged in Fierce Clashes in Northern Syria

Egypt Hails Trump's Criticism of Western Media Coverage of Terror Attacks

Syria's Assad views Trump as 'promising' on Daesh

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Mideast

Israel Parliament Legalises Settler Outposts on Palestinian Land

Iranian Leader Sends Sarcastic Remarks to Donald Trump

Israel settler law angers world powers, US silent

US tight-lipped as Israel settler law sparks world outrage

Iran urges global action over Israel’s settler units in West Bank

Iranians to respond to Trump on upcoming anniv. of Islamic Revolution: Leader

Erdogan urges nation to vote for stronger presidency as purge continues

Israel’s legalizing of outposts means stealing private Palestinian land: PLO

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India

Muslims Banned In University Of Hyderabad, Security Officials Defend Ban

White House Terror Attacks List Omits Uri, Pathankot

Indian Ahmadiyyas on a Mission to Spread Islam’s Virtues

China blocked US move to get Masood Azhar banned by UN

Nepalese criminal's arrest nails ISI role in derailment of trains in India

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Pakistan

Punjab Madrasas Are Not Teaching Hate Material: Law Minister

UK Fighter Jets Escort PIA Plane after ‘Terror Threat’

LHC dismisses plea for Hafiz Saeed’s release

No plan for travel ban on Pakistanis: US

Interior ministry approves issuance of red warrant against Altaf Hussain

Two policemen injured in Bannu suicide attack

50 religio-political parties may form electoral alliance

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South Asia

At Least 20 Dead in Bomb Blast Outside Afghan Supreme Court

Karzai Reacts on Removal of Hekmatyar’s Name from UN Sanctions List

Four IS militants handed over to Afghan govt

Bangladesh-origin US entrepreneur feels heat of Trump's Muslim ban

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Southeast Asia

After Islamist Pressure, Bikini Photo Contest In Bangi Cancelled

Malaysia Seizes Pig-Hair Brushes After Muslims Complain

IS unlikely to grow in SE Asia: Academic

Fake news in Indonesia draws a possible fatwa as Jakarta governor's race heats up

Government Will Not Intervene In Religious Sermons: Lukman

Goverment urged to act neutral in Ahok’s blasphemy case

Islamic Preacher Certification Is a Hoax: Religious Affairs Ministry

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North America

Court Questions Whether President Trump’s Travel Ban Anti-Muslim

White Terrorists ‘Different’ To Muslim Terrorists Argues Republican Congressman

Trump perpetually associate extremism with Islam

Bipartisan national security officials argue Donald Trump’s 'Muslim ban' makes America less safe

Researchers: Fear of Muslim American Violent Extremism Overblown

In Canada, Adventist Pastor Talks Hope to Muslim Leaders

Interest in immigration, education in Canada surges following U.S. Muslim ban

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Europe

South Carolina Parents Livid Over 6th Grade ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ Assignment

New Poll: Democrats Say Islam Is As Violent As Other Religions

France’s Le Pen wants to ban Jewish skullcaps to fight radical Islam

Most Europeans want immigration ban from Muslim-majority countries, poll reveals

Murdered backpacker's mother criticises Trump over 'terror' list

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Africa

Cleric Preaches Closeness to God as Mosque Clocks 10

CAN Replies Information Minister on ‘Islamisation’ Claim

Most refugees who enter the U.S. as religious minorities are Christians

Somalia: Trump's Travel Ban Leaves Somali Refugees Stranded

Nigeria: Could Trump Be a Russian Agent?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/up-to-13,000-secretly-hanged-in-syrian-jail,-says-amnesty/d/110002

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Up To 13,000 Secretly Hanged In Syrian Jail, Says Amnesty

Feb 8, 2017

BEIRUT: The prison north of Damascus was known to detainees as “the slaughterhouse” and in it, as many of 13,000 people were hanged in only four years after a series of sham trials, according to a new report issued by Amnesty International.

The report, issued on Tuesday, said that 20-50 people were hanged each week at the Saydnaya prison in what the organisation called a “calculated campaign of extrajudicial execution.” The report covers the period from 2011 to 2015, but Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty’s regional office in Beirut, said there is no reason to believe the practice has stopped since then, with thousands more probably killed.

“These executions take place after a sham trial that lasts over a minute or two minutes, but they are authorized by the highest levels of authority,” including the Grand Mufti, a top religious authority in Syria, and the defence minister, she said.

The killings were authorised by senior Syrian officials, including deputies of President Bashar Assad, and carried out by military police. Amnesty has also recorded at least 35 different methods of torture in Syria since the late 1980s, practices that only increased since 2011, Maalouf said.

Other rights groups have found evidence of massive torture leading to death in Syrian detention facilities. In a report last year, Amnesty found that more than 17,000 people have died of torture and ill-treatment in custody across Syria since 2011, an average rate of more than 300 deaths a month.

Those figures are comparable to battlefield deaths in Aleppo, one of the fiercest war zones in Syria, where 21,000 were killed across the province since 2011.

“The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign, authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian government, aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population,” Maalouf said.

Syrian government officials rarely comment on allegations of torture and mass killings. In the past, they have denied reports of massacres documented by international human rights groups, describing them as propaganda.

The chilling accounts in Tuesday’s report came from interviews with 31 former detainees and over 50 other officials and experts, including former guards and judges.

According to the findings, detainees were told they would be transferred to civilian detention centres but were taken instead to another building in the facility and hanged.

“They walked in the ‘train,’ so they had their heads down and were trying to catch the shirt of the person in front of them. The first time I saw them, I was horrified. They were being taken to the slaughterhouse,” Hamid, a former detainee, told Amnesty.

Another former detai­nee, Omar Alshogre, said the guards would come to his cell, sometimes three times a week, and call out detainees by name.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2017

http://www.dawn.com/news/1313427/over-13000-hanged-in-syrias-slaughterhouse-amnesty

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Israel parliament legalises settler outposts on Palestinian land

February 7, 2017

The Israeli parliament has finalised a controversial law legalising dozens of Jewish outposts built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

The law — approved by 60 members of parliament to 52 against — was slammed by the Palestinians as a means to “legalise theft” of land.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not participate in the law’s final votes since he was returning from a trip to Britain, said he had “updated” the US administration so as not to surprise “our friends”.

Speaking after the law was finalised, Bezalel Smotrich of the far-right Jewish Home party, who was one of the forces behind the legislation, thanked the American people for electing Donald Trump as president, “without whom the law would have probably not passed”.

The new law will allow Israel to legally seize Palestinian private land on which Israelis built outposts without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.

Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation said the law was a means to “legalise theft” and demonstrated “the Israeli government’s will to destroy any chances for a political solution”.

A PLO statement stressed that the “Israeli settlement enterprise negates peace and the possibility of the two-state solution”.

Ahead of the vote, opposition chief and Labour leader Isaac Herzog lashed out against the “despicable law” that he said would undermine the country’s Jewish majority.

“The vote tonight isn’t for or against the settlers, rather Israel’s interests,” Herzog said.

The law would “annex millions of Palestinians into Israel”, he warned, and expose Israeli soldiers and politicians to lawsuits at international criminal courts.

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis of Netanyahu’s Likud party said the argument was over the right to the Land of Israel.

“All of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people,” he told Herzog, using the biblical term that included the West Bank. “This right is eternal and indisputable.”

The law is seen by critics as promoting at least partial annexation of the West Bank, a key demand for parts of Netanyahu’s right-wing cabinet, including Jewish Home.

Human Rights Watch said the law “reflects Israel’s manifest disregard of international law” and deepens the “de facto permanent occupation” of the West Bank, warning that “the Trump administration cannot shield them from the scrutiny of the International Criminal Court”.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem said the law proved Israel “has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land”.

The bill could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week: “The chance that it will be struck down by the Supreme Court is 100 percent.”

Last week, the few hundred residents of the Amona outpost in the West Bank were evicted after the Supreme Court ruled their homes were built on private Palestinian land.

In parliament on Monday, Shuli Mualem of Jewish Home dedicated the law to those evicted from Amona.

International law considers all settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, dubbed outposts.

The lengthy Amona saga — including the evictions broadcast live on Israeli television — directly inspired the bill.

Demolitions and removal of the buildings there began on Monday.

The law applies to 53 other outposts and homes within existing settlements recognised by Israel built on Palestinian land, according to the anti-settlement organisation Peace Now.

More than 3,800 homes would be “legalised”, the NGO said ahead of the vote.

UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said he was “concerned” by the law, which could “greatly diminish the prospects for Arab-Israeli peace”.

Since Trump’s inauguration, Israel has announced more than 6,000 new homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, seen as key parts of any future Palestinian state.

For the first time last week Trump’s administration said settlement expansion “may not be helpful” for peace prospects, but also broke with previous administrations by saying settlements were not an obstacle to peace.

The White House statement was interpreted as a message to Netanyahu and his government that the US administration intended to reserve its options.

Washington Monday refused to comment on the new law.

“At this point, indications are that this legislation is likely to be reviewed by the relevant Israeli courts, and the Trump administration will withhold comment on the legislation until the relevant court ruling,” a State Department official told AFP.

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has warned the government that the law could be unconstitutional and risks exposing Israel to international prosecution for war crimes.

http://www.siasat.com/news/israel-parliament-legalises-settler-outposts-palestinian-land-1126456/

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Muslims Banned In University Of Hyderabad, Security Officials Defend Ban

February 8, 2017

Hyderabad: The entry of Muslims has been banned on the campus of University of Hyderabad. It was revealed when a student of HCU, Zunaira recorded her complaint with the registrar of the university.

When Chief Security Officer, Mr. T.V. Rao contacted, he confirmed it and said that a decision has been taken to ban the entry of the Muslims on the campus of the university. He gave the reason that there was a news that the students wanted to convene a meeting against the statement made by US President, Donald Trump. However, no permission has been given for such a meeting.

A student of MANUU arrived at HCU campus to deliver medicines to one of his companions but he was not allowed to enter the campus. He showed his identity card and said that he is a student but he was refused entry. The security officer of the campus told that large number of Muslims are visiting the university. They may create problem. It was therefore decided not to allow any Muslims on campus.

http://www.siasat.com/news/muslims-banned-university-hyderabad-security-officials-defend-ban-1126862/

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Punjab Madrasas Are Not Teaching Hate Material: Law Minister

08-Feb-17

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Tuesday giving a clean chit to all educational institutes - including 15,000 madrassas - has declared that no seminary or public and private institute is involved in teaching hate material to students.

During the Punjab Assembly session on Tuesday, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah while commenting on a resolution moved by a treasury member Ms Hina Pervez Butt informed the House that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led Punjab government had registered all 15,000 madrassas, including 532 existing in 'Gray Areas' of the province.

Rana Sanaullah confirmed that as many as 1.1 million students were enrolled in madrassas in which around 0.4 million students are enjoying boarding facilities, while 1300 students belong to foreign countries.

Assuring the syllabus of all madrassas was unbiased; the law minister said that any hatred chapter, sentence or a word, if identified by legislators, would be removed from the syllabus of madrassas.

The minister also advised his female colleague to withdraw her resolution that was accepted by the mover without any argument.

In another resolution, seeking removal of logos of private educational institutes from note books, the government said that it could not advise any private educational institute, especially those running O-Level or A-Level classes, not to use logos, but assured that the government would regulate prices of books.

Punjab Assembly session on Tuesday started an hour and five minutes late to its scheduled time at 10am with Speaker Rana Iqbal in the chair. The joint opposition continued its boycott till second day and did not participate in the proceedings.

Rana Sanaullah along with other ministers held negotiations with Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed in his chamber, who agreed to hold a meeting with the speaker to sort out their reservations.

After successful talks, the opposition ended its boycott. The speaker welcomed the opposition and informed the House that all misunderstandings had been removed.

The House also passed two resolutions moved by Dr Aliya Aftab and Dr Nausheen Hamid for installation of water treatment plants and construction of services lanes for motorcyclists and cyclists to make traffic flow better, respectively.

Pertinent to mention here that during the boycott of the session, the joint opposition members held a protest against the speaker outside the assembly building and demanded him to take action on the reference filed against Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif for alleged illegal relocation of sugar mills of his family members in cotton areas.

The opposition leader said that the chief minister had flouted the Lahore High Court (LHC)'s order in this regard and he should step down from his office.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/punjab/08-Feb-17/madrassas-are-not-teaching-hate-material-sanaullah

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Arab World

 

Assad says family do not own Syria, ready to be voted out

Feb 8, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his family did not "own" the country they have run for 46 years, saying he would step aside if the Syrian people choose another leader in an election.

Assad also told a group of Belgian reporters that he saw promise in U.S. President Donald Trump's determination to fight Islamic State, although it was too early to expect any practical steps, state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.

With backing from Russia and Iran, Assad now seems militarily unassailable in the Syrian civil war that spiraled from protests against his rule nearly six years ago during a wave of uprisings against Arab autocrats.

Assad, 51, came to power in 2000 after the death of his father, former President Hafez al-Assad, who became head of state in 1971 after a military coup the previous year.

Asked if he could imagine a Syria that was not run by his family, Assad said: "Of course. We don't own the country. My family does not own the country."

"Syria is owned by the Syrians, and every Syrian citizen has the right to be in that position," Assad said.

Russia, his most powerful ally, is seeking to revive peace talks aimed at ending a war that has shattered Syria into a patchwork of separate areas and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Russia circulated a reformed Syrian constitution at peace talks in Kazakhstan last month that said no president could serve more than two consecutive terms, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

Moscow says the document drafted by Russian specialists was only tabled for the purpose of discussion.

Moscow's effort to revive peace talks follows the rebels' biggest defeat of the war, when they were driven from eastern Aleppo in December by the Syrian army with decisive help from the Russian air force and Iranian-backed militias.

Assad said he would step aside if voted out of power in an election - something he has said in the past.

"If the Syrian people choose another president, I would not have to decide to step down, I will be out of this position," he said in the interview published on Tuesday.

Assad controls all the main cities of western Syria, where the bulk of the population live. A presidential election was held in 2014, though the vote was declared a farce by his opponents. Swathes of Syria remain out of his control including areas held by the Islamic State group and a Kurdish militia.

TRUMP SEEN AS "PROMISING"

Trump has held out the possibility of cooperation with Russia in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

The Kremlin said Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed setting up "genuine coordination" in the fight against Islamic State and "other terrorist groups" in Syria during a phone call last month.

Assad was quoted by SANA as telling a group of Belgian reporters: "I believe this is promising but we have to wait and it's too early to expect anything practical."

Assad was also quoted as saying that U.S-Russian cooperation in stepping up the fight against the militants would have positive repercussions.

Under former U.S. President Barack Obama, the United States ruled out the idea of cooperating with Assad in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, viewing his rule as a big part of the problem.

Trump has made defeating Islamic State a core goal of his presidency and signed an executive order asking the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff and other agencies to submit a preliminary plan on how to proceed within 30 days.

For now, U.S.-Russian cooperation is largely limited to coordinating to ensure that the two countries' air forces operate safely and that the risk of accidental confrontation or collision is minimised.

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Feb-2017/assad-says-family-do-not-own-syria-ready-to-be-voted-out

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Air strikes on Syrian ex-Qaeda branch 'kill 26'

Feb 8, 2017

Air strikes on Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate in the country's northwest on Tuesday killed 26 people, including civilians, a monitoring group told AFP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 10 air strikes battered the headquarters of Fateh al-Sham Front and the surrounding neighbourhood in Idlib city at dawn on Tuesday.

"Ten civilians, mostly women, are among the dead," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

"The toll could rise because some people are trapped under the rubble and unaccounted for," he added.

Abdel Rahman said the raids were likely carried out by Russian warplanes -- allied with Syria's government -- or by a US-backed air coalition.

Fateh al-Sham has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks in Idlib province, the only remaining opposition-held province in war-ravaged Syria.

Bombing raids against the group have escalated, including one US strike in January that killed more than 100 fighters at a training camp in Idlib province.

The US-led coalition has mostly focused on Fateh al-Sham's jihadist rival, the Islamic State group, but it has also hit operatives from other groups.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/07-Feb-2017/air-strikes-on-syrian-ex-qaeda-branch-kill-26

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Air strikes hit Syria’s rebel-held Idlib city, 15 dead

7 February 2017

At least 15 people died in air strikes on the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib on Tuesday, in some of the heaviest raids there in months, residents and a rescue worker said.

Around eight attacks by what were believed to be Russian jets wounded scores of people and leveled several multi-storey buildings in residential areas of the northwestern city, they added.

“We are still pulling bodies from the rubble,” Issam al Idlibi, a volunteer civil defense worker, said. Most of the casualties were civilians and the death toll would probably rise, he added.

The extent of the damage and the debris bore the hallmarks of a Russian attack, said two witnesses. There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

Russian planes have targeted a number of towns and villages in the area since entering the Syrian conflict in September 2015 to back ally President Bashar al-Assad.

But activists and residents said there had been a reduction of Russian strikes in Idlib province since a Turkish-Russian brokered cessation of hostilities late December.

Planes from the US-led coalition have also launched a number of attacks in the rural province, a major stronghold of militants, many of them formerly affiliated to al Qaeda.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/02/07/Air-strikes-hit-Syria-s-rebel-held-Idlib-city-15-dead-.html

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Syria rejects Amnesty ‘false’ report of mass jail hangings

Feb 8, 2017

Damascus has slammed as “inaccurate and politically-motivated” an Amnesty International report claiming that Syrian military police hanged as many as 13,000 people over the course of five years.

The Syrian Justice Ministry, in a statement published on Tuesday, rejected the account of mass hangings at Saydnaya prison near Damascus between 2011 and 2015 as bogus and false, saying such claims are meant to ruin the government’s reputation in the international community.

The statement further emphasized that based on Syrian law, death sentences are handed only after judicial trials run through several degrees of litigation.

Such allegations come in the face of recent gains by Syrian army forces and allied popular defense groups in battles against foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists, and the atmosphere of national reconciliation in the country, it added.

Syria finds militant tunnel near Damascus

Meanwhile, Syrian military forces have discovered a long tunnel used by foreign-backed militants during a clear-up operation on the outskirts of the capital Damascus.

Army soldiers and pro-government fighters from popular defense groups found the 500-meter tunnel in Harasta city, situated roughly 8 kilometers northeast of Damascus, on Tuesday, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported.

A Syrian army soldier walks along a 500-long tunnel dug beneath the ground by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the city of Harasta, Syria, on February 7, 2017. (Photo by Syria’s SANA news agency)

An unnamed Syrian military source said terrorists with the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, reportedly used the tunnel to sneak into a Syrian military site but army units managed to thwart their attempt and eliminate dozens of terrorists in the process.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/08/509605/Syria-deny-Amnesty-International-report-mass-hangings-prison-Damascus-tunnel-Harasta

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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince meets with head of Ulemas' Council of Pakistan

7 February 2017

Saudi’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, received the head of Ulemas' Council of Pakistan Hafiz Mohammed Tahir Al-Ashrafi on Tuesday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/02/07/Saudis-Deputy-Crown-Prince-meets-with-head-of-Ulemas-Council-of-Pakistan-.html

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Iraq ‘monitoring’ movements of Daesh leader: PM Abadi

Feb 7, 2017

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Iraqi authorities are monitoring movements of the “isolated” chief of Daesh terrorist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“He’s almost alone at the moment. He doesn’t have many people to trust. He is in isolation, we’re monitoring his movements,” Abadi said in an interview with the France 24 television channel.

He stressed that Baghdadi is keeping a very low profile. “His communication with other terrorists is very low. In many times, it is almost nonexistent.”

The prime minister, however, declined to reveal any details of Baghdadi’s whereabouts.

Answering a question whether Baghdadi was still in the northern city of Mosul, the Takfiri group’s last stronghold on Iraqi soil, Abadi smiled and said, “I’m not commenting on it.”

He also noted that most of Baghdadi’s aides had been “killed and eliminated” in recent operations.

The real challenge, however, was not the military fight against Daesh, but putting an end to its terror operations which have drawn fighters “from almost hundred countries in the world to Syria, to Iraq to fight and to kill innocent civilians,” he added.

A member of the Iraqi counter-terrorism service (CTS) flashes the V-gesture as he stands atop a humvee patrolling the Andalus neighborhood in the city of Mosul on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Iraqi premier announced the start of operations to liberate Mosul from Daesh terrorists on October 16, 2016.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/07/509497/Iraq-PM-Abadi-Daesh-leader

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Iraqi forces wage psychological war with Daesh terrorists’ corpses

8 February 2017

MOSUL: The flyblown corpses of Daesh militants have been rotting along a main street in north Mosul for two weeks, a health risk for passersby. Suicide bombers’ belts beside the fighters can still explode, killing anyone nearby.

But the Iraqi Army has no intention of burying the militants and hopes as many people as possible will get a good look at their blackened bodies, torn apart by bombs and bullets.

As Iraqi forces prepare to expand their offensive against Daesh from east to west Mosul, they want to stamp out any sympathy that residents may have for the group, which won instant support when it seized the vast city in 2014.

“We will leave the terrorists there,” said Ibrahim Mohamed, a soldier who was standing near three dead radicals, ignoring the stench.

His cousin suffered death by electrocution at the hands of radicals during Daesh’s harsh rule of Mosul because he was a policeman.

“The message is clear to Iraqis, to keep them from joining or supporting Daesh. This will be your fate. The Iraqi Army will finish you off,” he said.

A suicide bomber’s belt, with its detonation pin still in place, lay in the street a few feet away, near some clothing once worn by a militant.

The Iraqi Army has come a long way since it collapsed in the face of Daesh’s lightning advance into northern Iraq. After retaking half of Mosul in three months of fighting, Iraqi forces are poised to enter the western side of the city.

Victory there would mean the end of Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliphate, though Iraqi officials expect the group to fight on as insurgents in Iraq and inspire attacks in the West.

The corpses are left on view as a psychological weapon to deter Daesh sleeper cells, which Iraqi officials say are highly effective and distributed across the country.

Daesh has executed thousands of Iraqi soldiers and policemen, and their comrades are eager for revenge.

“We leave them in the street like that so the dogs eat them,” said soldier Asaad Hussein. “We also want the citizens to know there is a price for supporting terrorists.”

Iraqi citizens do not seem to mind the gory sight of the bodies, with people walking past them every day as Mosul begins the work of rebuilding entire neighborhoods pulverized by Daesh car bombs and US-led airstrikes.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1050906/middle-east

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SDF, Turkish Soldiers Engaged in Fierce Clashes in Northern Syria

Feb 07, 2017

The sources said that the Turkish Army soldiers and their allied militants in the Euphrates Shield Operation targeted SDF's positions in the villages of Sheikh Issa, Menagh, Tal Rifat, Ein Daqaneh and Mar'anaz heavily, killing a number of Kurdish fighters.

The SDF, for its turn, returned the Turkish attacks with hitting their concentration centers hard, killing several soldiers and destroying their vehicles.

Sources in Northern Aleppo province reported on in December that civilians and the city council of Azaz called for the evacuation of the Ankara-backed militants from their city.

A day after citizens staged massive demonstrations in Jarabulus town in Northeastern Aleppo and called on the Free Syrian Army militants to immediately leave their town, sources reported that the city council of Azaz suspended its operation in reaction to the aggressive behaviors of the forces of the Euphrates Shield.

In the meantime, Azaz citizens condemned the brutalities of the terrorist groups in their town and urged them to pull back their forces from the city and set up their bases outside Azaz, a town of strategic importance along the border with Turkey.

"Some of the terrorist groups deployed in Azaz have taken control of vital facilities and public properties and are preventing the city council and official bodies from doing their duties. These actions have caused the city council to suspend all its operations until all terrorist groups pull out of their town," the sources said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951119001470

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Egypt Hails Trump's Criticism of Western Media Coverage of Terror Attacks

7 FEBRUARY 2017

Cairo — Egypt's foreign ministry hailed U.S. President Donald Trump's criticism of the western media's coverage of some terrorist attacks around the world, saying that it is in line with Egypt's anti-terrorism strategy.

Based on a list of terror attacks released by the White House, western media "ignored" a number of them in its coverage, nine of which were in Egypt, indicating "a clear bias" in coverage, according to the foreign ministry's statement published Tuesday.

The ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stated that the U.S. administration's stance is in line with Egypt's repeated calls on the international community "to adopt a comprehensive, coordinate and non-selective strategy to combat terrorism at all levels; security, political, cultural, media and others."

Abu Zeid also referred to the "selectivity and partiality" evident in some coverage of attacks. Referring to the attack on St. Peter's Church in Egypt late last year, Abu Zeid said that some western media outlets displayed them as a "security failure" on the part of the government to protect Christians.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201702070770.html

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Syria's Assad views Trump as 'promising' on Daesh

Feb 8, 2017

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said US President Donald Trump prioritising the fight against Daesh was promising although it was too early to expect any practical steps, state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.

The Kremlin, Assad's most powerful ally, said Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed setting up "genuine coordination" in the fight against Daesh and "other terrorist groups" in Syria during a phone call last month.

Assad was quoted by SANA as telling a group of Belgian reporters that Trump's position was promising. "I believe this is promising but we have to wait and it's too early to expect anything practical," he said. Assad was also quoted as saying that US-Russian cooperation in stepping up the fight against the militants would have positive repercussions.

Trump has previously indicated he might cut US support for Syrian rebels that have been fighting Assad, and that he could cooperate with Russia in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Feb-2017/syria-s-assad-views-trump-as-promising-on-daesh

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Mideast

 

Iranian Leader Sends Sarcastic Remarks to Donald Trump

Feb 07, 2017

"We are not thankful of that (Obama's) administration at all because it imposed heavy sanctions (against Tehran) with the aim of crippling the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic and of course, it didn’t attain its goal as no other enemy will be able to cripple this great nation either," Ayatollah Khamenei said in Tehran on Tuesday, addressing the Army's Air Force and Air Defense commanders and personnel.

"Why should we thank the former US administration? For the anti-Iran sanctions? For the creation of the ISIL? For setting fire on Syria and Iraq? Or for their hypocrisy, that is they express sincerity and tendency for cooperation in a private letter but show clear support for sedition (unrests) after the 2009 (presidential) election?" he added in reaction to Trump's comments that Tehran should thank the Obama administration.

"These are instances of the same velvet glove worn by the former US administration over its iron clad," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He also blasted Trump's recent remarks that the Iranians should fear him, and said, "Iranians don’t fear threats."

Ayatolllah Khamenei, meantime, thanked Trump for showing Washington's real face to the world, and said he proved the correctness of Iran's warnings about the political, economic, social and moral corruption in the US ruling system.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri deplored the US officials' threats against Iran, stressing that Washington, itself, will be harmed by its hostile behavior towards Tehran.

"We welcome the language of talks and interaction and those who speak with the Iranian nation with the language of threat and impolitely will certainly lose," Jahangiri told reporters in the Southern city of Abadan.

Expressing the hope that the US would stop its hostilities against Iran, he said, "There is a very tall wall of distrust between Iran and the US because in many cases, the Americans have played a role against the Iranian nation and these issues cannot be wiped off the Iranian nation's mind easily and any soon."

His comments came after US President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that Iran “lost respect” for the US in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Tehran and the world powers, and that it now feels “emboldened” by the agreement.

Also early Thursday, Trump echoed his national security adviser Michael Flynn’s comments a day earlier that Iran is now formally “on notice” for firing a ballistic missile.

“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” he tweeted, without providing any other details.

“Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion,” he added.

Flynn during a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room last Wednesday criticized Iran for its recent ballistic missile test.

In response, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani underlined his country's continued progress and advancement in its defense and missile program, saying that the country is strongly opposed to foreign interference.

"We will not take permission from any country or international organization to develop our conventional defense power and we will confront any foreign interference in the defense affairs, including the Islamic Republic of Iran's missile power," Shamkhani said in a meeting with Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan in Tehran on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, he blasted the western countries for their attempts to use sanctions to restrict the countries which are victims of terrorism, including Iran and Syria, and the West's support for terrorist groups.

"The Takfiri armed groups which are supported by certain regional states intellectually and financially beside the Zionist regime are two main threats to global security and unfortunately, the paper coalitions (those which have merely been formed on paper and take no practical measures) have not had any defensible performance in controlling these threats," Shamkhani said.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan confirmed last Wednesday that his country has tested a missile recently, describing it as part of Iran's defense programs.

"The recent test was in line with our programs and we don’t allow any foreign party to interfere in our defense affairs," General Dehqan told reporters in Tehran in reaction to the recent UN Security Council meeting on Iran's missile test.

He underscored that the missile test "contradicts neither the nuclear deal (between Iran and the world powers signed in 2015) nor the Resolution 2231".

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951119001047

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Israel settler law angers world powers, US silent

Feb 8, 2017

JERUSALEM: Israel faced international criticism on Tuesday over a new law allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts, although the United States remained notably silent.

Britain, France, the United Nations and Israel’s neighbour Jordan were among those coming out against the legislation passed late on Monday.

The law legalises dozens of wildcat outposts and thousands of settler homes in the occupied West Bank and prompted a call by the Palestinians for the international community to punish Israel.

Pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs said they would ask the Supreme Court to strike down the law, while Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned the legislation could result in Israeli officials facing the International Criminal Court.

France called the bill a “new attack on the two-state solution,” while Britain said it “damages Israel’s standing with its international partners”. Turkey “strongly condemned” the law and Israel’s “unacceptable” settlement policy and the Arab League accused Israel of “stealing the land and appropriating the property of Palestinians.” UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said the bill crossed a “thick red line” towards annexation of the West Bank — the largest part of the Palestinian territories. “[The law] opens the potential for the full annexation of the West Bank and therefore undermines substantially the two-state solution,” he said.

The United States, however, refused to comment, in stark contrast to the settlement criticism repeatedly voiced under Barack Obama.

The State Department said President Donald Trump’s new administration “needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward.”

Separately to the new law, Israel has approved more than 6,000 settler homes since Trump took office on Jan 20 having signalled a softer stance on the issue than Obama.

The law, which passed 60 to 52 in its final reading, will allow Israel to legally seize Palestinian private land on which Israelis built outposts without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.

Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land. It would apply to around 53 outposts as well as some houses within existing settlements, potentially legalising more than 3,800 homes, according to anti-settlement NGO Peace Now, which called the law “another step towards annexation and away from a two-state solution.” The law could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

International law considers all settlements illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, which are known as outposts.

The new law would protect settlers against eviction from outposts discovered to have been built on private Palestinian lands such as in the case of Amona, where 42 families were evicted and their homes demolished in recent days at the order of the Israeli Supreme Court. Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called for the international community to assume its “moral, human and legal responsibilities and put an end to Israel’s lawlessness.” The act marked the first time Israel applied its civil law to land in the West Bank recognised as Palestinian, said law professor Amichai Cohen.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1313439/israel-settler-law-angers-world-powers-us-silent

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US tight-lipped as Israel settler law sparks world outrage

Feb 8, 2017

JERUSALEM: The United States was conspicuously tight-lipped Tuesday amid a world outcry over a new Israeli law allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts.

The United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League were just some of those coming out against the legislation passed in parliament late Monday.

"This bill is in contravention of international law and will have far reaching legal consequences for Israel," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

"The European Union condemns the recent adoption of the ´Regularisation Law´," foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, arguing it "crosses a new and dangerous threshold by legalising under Israeli law the seizure of Palestinian property rights".

The law legalises dozens of wildcat outposts and thousands of settler homes in the occupied West Bank, and prompted a Palestinian call for the international community to punish Israel.

Pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs said they would ask the Supreme Court to strike down the law, and opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned the legislation could result in Israeli officials facing the International Criminal Court.

Washington refused direct comment, in stark contrast to the settlement criticism repeatedly voiced under Barack Obama.

"Primer Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu will be here on February 15. I don´t want to get ahead of that now," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

The US State Department said President Donald Trump´s new administration "needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward".

´Stealing Palestinian land´

France called the bill a "new attack on the two-state solution", while Britain said it "damages Israel´s standing with its international partners".

Turkey "strongly condemned" the law and Israel´s "unacceptable" settlement policy, and the Arab League accused Israel of "stealing the land and appropriating the property of Palestinians".

Britain and Israel´s Arab neighbour Jordan also expressed concern.

Separately to the new law, Israel has approved more than 6,000 settler homes since Trump took office on January 20 having signalled a softer stance on the issue than his predecessor.

The law, which passed 60 to 52 in its final reading, will allow Israel to legally seize Palestinian private land on which Israelis built outposts without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.

Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or with other land.

It would apply to around 53 outposts as well as some houses within existing settlements, potentially legalising more than 3,800 homes, according to anti-settlement NGO Peace Now, which called the law "another step towards annexation and away from a two-state solution".

The law could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

International law considers all settlements illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, which are known as outposts.

Protection for settlers

The new law would protect settlers against eviction from outposts discovered to have been built on private Palestinian lands such as in the case of Amona, where 42 families were evicted and their homes demolished in recent days by order of Israel´s Supreme Court.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Feb-2017/us-tight-lipped-as-israel-settler-law-sparks-world-outrage

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Iran urges global action over Israel’s settler units in West Bank

Feb 7, 2017

Iran has denounced a recent Israeli law legalizing construction of settler units in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the international community must not remain silent on the regime’s expansionist policies.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Tuesday said the Israeli regime’s settlement activities are a serious obstacle to establishing security and stability in the region.

He added that the continuation of such a policy violates the Palestinians' right to self-determination as an accepted principle in international law.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran once again calls on the international community to take practical and immediate steps to support the Palestinians’ rightful demands, promote the Palestinian people’s international standing and oppose the Zionist regime’s expansionist policies,” Qassemi said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

He emphasized that the continuation of such policies and measures by the Tel Aviv regime would aggravate regional woes and create more instability.

On Monday, the Israeli parliament passed a law that would allow the regime to legally seize Palestinian private land. Palestinian land owners would be compensated financially or with other land for their property even if they did not agree to giving it up.

United Nations special coordinator for the so-called Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Tuesday condemned the legislation, saying it set a "very dangerous precedent."

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/07/509533/Iran-Israel-Palestine-Bahram-Qassemi-settlement-units

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Iranians to respond to Trump on upcoming anniv. of Islamic Revolution: Leader

Feb 7, 2017

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the Iranian people will be responding to US President Donald Trump’s recent anti-Iran threats on the upcoming anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“Trump says, ‘Fear me!’ No. The [Iranian] people will respond to these remarks on Bahman 22 and will show what position the Iranian people assume vis-à-vis threats,” the Leader said on Tuesday.

Ayatollah Khamenei was referring to the date on the Persian calendar coinciding with the anniversary of the February 11, 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the Iranian nation staged countrywide rallies celebrating the Revolution’s victory.

Trump tweeted earlier this month that “Iran is playing with fire - they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”

“Iranians are not afraid of threats,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The Leader said, “The new US president says, ‘You should be grateful to [former US President Barack] Obama! Why? Should we be thankful for the creation of Daesh, the flames [of violence] in Iraq and Syria, and open support for the 2009 sedition [in Iran]?”

“It was him (Obama) who brought the crippling sanctions to the Iranian people,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “Of course he fell short of his goal, and no enemy can cripple the Iranian people.”

“These are the examples of the very velvet gloves that the previous US administration had pulled over its iron claw,” the Leader said.

The Leader said Trump had to be thanked because “he did the job for us of showing the US’s true face.”

“During the [US] election and after it, this gentleman (Trump) came along and laid bare the political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the US establishment that we had been speaking of for thirty-odd years,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“Now, too, with what he’s been doing, hand-cuffing a five-year-old [and other things], he is showing what American human rights really mean,” the Leader said.

After taking office, the new US president ordered sweeping travel bans against many Muslim countries, including the Islamic Republic. The order was followed by widespread domestic and international backlash amid scenes of American security forces overpowering minors to enforce the bans.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/07/509491/Iran-Leader-Iranian-people-respond-Trump-anniversary-of-Revolution

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Erdogan urges nation to vote for stronger presidency as purge continues

Feb 8, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the nation to vote in favor of bolstering his presidential powers, stressing that failure to do so will strengthen militants trying to divide the country.

On Tuesday, Erdogan said that he is currently evaluating the legislation on the constitutional reforms package aimed at an executive presidential system in the country.

Last month, the Turkish parliament voted in favor of the reform bill which removes the country’s current parliamentary system, allowing Erdogan to serve two five-year tenures in office, meaning he could be leading Turkey until 2029.

Following the president’s approval, the bill will be but to a referendum, which will probably be held in April.

"I believe my people will never give a positive sign to Qandil, Imarali, and those terrorizing out country," said Erdogan in reference to northern Iraq’s Qandil mountains, where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist group has headquarters and the Imrali prison island, where the PKK’s leader is being detained.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015, and attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Turkey’s post coup purge continues

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities have fired some 4,500 civil servants as part of a purge following the last year’s failed coup.

According to the country’s Official Gazette, 4,464 people were sacked, almost half of whom from the education ministry and some from the police force and the TRT television channel.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/08/509587/erdogan-turkey-coup-reforms-executive-powers

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Israel’s legalizing of outposts means stealing private Palestinian land: PLO

Feb 7, 2017

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) says Israel’s newly approved law legalizing Jewish settler outposts actually legalizes the “theft” of private Palestinian land.

On Monday, the PLO released a statement stressing that passing such a law demonstrates Tel Aviv’s “will to destroy any chances for a political solution."

"Israeli settlement enterprise negates peace and the possibility of the two-state solution," it added.

The statement was released shortly after the Israeli Knesset passed legislation which retroactively legalizes some 4,000 settler units built on land owned by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

In accordance to the law, the original landowners will receive compensation for their property even if they did not agree to giving it up.

Human Rights Watch stated that the new legislation "reflects Israel's manifest disregard of international law," while rights group B'Tselem said that the passing of the law shows that “Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land."  

In accordance with international law, all Israeli settlements are deemed illegal, but the Israeli regime distinguishes between the ones it sanctions and those it does not, which are referred to as outposts.  

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/02/07/509448/plo-israel-jewish-settlements-outpost

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India

 

White House terror attacks list omits Uri, Pathankot

Feb 7, 2017

WASHINGTON: The Trump White House on Monday released a list of 78 terror attacks across the world that the US President believes was under-reported by the "very dishonest press," amid a furious row with the judiciary and the liberal media over terrorism and immigration issues.

The White House list includes attacks such as the ones in Paris, Orlando, and San Bernardino, all of which by any account received substantial media coverage. But it does not cite a single attack on India, including the assaults on Uri+ and Pathankot+ . It was not clear if Trump believes the attacks were well-covered by the media or if he did not believe they were terrorist attacks.

The White House list, with a timeline covering September, 2014 to December, 2016, cites four attacks in Bangladesh, including the one on Artisan Bakery in Dhaka that killed 22 people+ , two other attacks with a single casualty, and one attack in Pakistan in April 2015 in which one US citizen was wounded in knife assault. It also lists incidents such as the one in Merced, California, in which four people were wounded in a knife attack on a college campus by an attacker described as a "US person."

The White House release of the list followed another contentious week in the US culminating in President Trump attacking the media and the judiciary for its purportedly lax attitude towards terrorism. "In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it," he told military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on Sunday in a continuation of his attack on the media. "They have their reasons, and you understand that."

Pressed on what exactly the President meant, his aides said Trump believed the media underreported the attacks relative to their frequency+ . "He felt as though members of the media don't always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered; that a protest will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn't necessarily get the same coverage," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Another official later told the media that the "real point here is that these terrorists attacks are so pervasive at this point that they do not spark the wall-to-wall coverage they once did." She explained that "if you look back just a few years ago, any one of these attacks would have been ubiquitous in every news outlet, and now they're happening so often — at a rate of more than once every two weeks, according to the list we sent around — that networks are not devoting to each of them the same level of coverage they once did."

The spat over the terrorism issue came hours ahead of an Appeals Court hearing in San Francisco late on Monday where the Trump administration is challenging the ruling of a state court+ suspending the Presidential order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US+ . More than 100 tech companies and several public intellectuals and individuals have filed amicus curiae briefs opposing the Trump administration's move, even as Trump, in an unprecedented act, has attacked the judge for permitting soft borders and said he could be held responsible if there is any terrorist attack.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/white-house-terror-attacks-list-omits-uri-pathankot/articleshow/57025377.cms

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Indian Ahmadiyyas on a Mission to Spread Islam’s Virtues

FEBRUARY 08, 2017

A tiny community in the city is spearheading a massive campaign to propagate the true meaning and teachings of Islam. The Ahmadiyya community, a sect of Sunni Muslims, feels their religion has been misunderstood in the backdrop of terror attacks across the world.

They are now reaching out to the policy makers, students and professionals with one message: we are closing in on World War III and we should take steps to avoid it. In the past few months, the community members have met professors from the Indian Institute of Technology, students from the Mumbai University, doctors and other professionals in and around Mumbai Central, where the city’s only Ahmadiyya mosque is located.

Syed Abdul Hadi Kashif, missionary in charge of the community in Mumbai and Goa, says, “There are so many terror attacks all over the world and a Muslim name comes into focus each time. We are not comfortable with this. Islam does not teach this.” Mr. Kashif said the true teachings of Islam were not reaching people. “We believe some form of injustice is the root cause of these attacks. Injustice at all levels needs to be stopped.”

The Ahmadiyyas are a 20-million strong community with a presence in over 209 countries, including over 10 lakh in India. In Maharashtra, there are more than 5,000 members of which over 1,000 are in Mumbai.

Prophet Muhammad had foretold that a messiah would arrive to revive Islam. While other Muslim sects still await the messiah, the Ahmadiyyas believe that he arrived in 1889 in the form of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian, Punjab. The current khalifa, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who is based in London and governs the community, is Ahmad’s fifth successor.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Ahmadiyyas-on-a-mission-to-spread-Islam%E2%80%99s-virtues/article17243625.ece

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China blocked US move to get Masood Azhar banned by UN

Feb 8, 2017

NEW DELHI: China has yet again blocked a move to get the UN to sanction Masood Azhar, the chief of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and an accused in the Pathankot attack case. According to official sources, the US had moved the UN to ban Azhar last month but Beijing blocked the move.

Indian officials said the matter was taken up with Chinese authorities, external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said. The US and other members of the UN Security Council had last year too sought action against Azhar by including him in the 1267 Sanctions Committee list but the move was first put on a technical hold and later formally blocked by China.

"We have been informed of this development and the matter has been taken up with the Chinese government,'' MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. The latest US move came on January 19, the last day of the Obama administration.

China has refused to change its position on Azhar despite India having repeatedly taken up the issue with Beijing. Only last month, India had accused China of pursuing double standards on terror as it asserted that 14 out of the 15 UNSC members were in support of a ban on Azhar. The proposal, finalised after consultations between Washington and New Delhi, said the JeM was a designated terror outfit since 2001 and so its leaders could not be allowed to roam free.

"However, China opposed the US move by putting a hold on the proposal," a source said, adding that the Chinese action came just before the expiry of the 10-day deadline for a proposal to be adopted, blocked or put on hold.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/china-blocked-us-move-to-get-masood-azhar-banned-by-un/articleshow/57029498.cms

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Nepalese criminal's arrest nails ISI role in derailment of trains in India

Feb 8, 2017

NEW DELHI: The apprehension of Nepalese criminal and aspiring politician Shamshul Hoda has laid bare the ISI links to a plan to cause derailment of trains in India with Hoda being hosted at a safe house in Karachi a year ago.

Wanted for an attempt to cause derailment in Bihar's East Champaran district by blowing up rail tracks, Hoda's travel and stay in Pakistan was arranged by a conduit, a known Pakistani fake Indian currency supplier Safi Shaikh.

A NIA official said ISI facilitated Hoda's travel from Dubai to Pakistan in early 2016, with his visa application being cleared in a matter of minutes and Safi sponsoring the air tickets.

NIA sources said Safi Shaikh, who also goes by the name of Safi Chacha (Safi uncle), has emerged as a key element in the ISI-backed conspiracy to cause high-casualty train accidents in India through sabotage.

Shaikh, who had earlier used Hoda to transport FICN into India in 2013-14 while the latter was based in Dubai, persuaded the Nepalese citizen to travel to Pakistan in 2015-16 for a direct interaction with ISI bosses over alleged plans to cause large-scale deaths in India by "engineering stampedes, derailments, riots or attacking government installations".

The ISI bosses are said to have promised Hoda "huge sums of money" to execute incidents of sabotage in India, leading to mass killings. Later, a sum of Rs 8-9 lakh was transferred by Safi from Dubai to Hoda's Himalayan Bank account in Birganj, Nepal. The NIA has the papers relating to the money transfer.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nepalese-criminals-arrest-nails-isi-role-in-derailment-of-trains-in-india/articleshow/57029604.cms

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Pakistan

 

UK fighter jets escort PIA plane after ‘terror threat’

08-Feb-17

LONDON: A passenger aircraft which was intercepted and escorted by fighter jets to Stansted airport northeast of London was diverted because of reports of a disruptive passenger, British police said on Tuesday.

"This is not believed to be a hijack situation or terror matter," Essex Police said in a statement. "The plane is currently at the airport and officers are making enquiries."

The Ministry of Defence had earlier said Typhoon jets had intercepted the aircraft, which had been en route to London's Heathrow Airport, and escorted it to Stansted.

Flight tracking websites said Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK757 from Lahore to Heathrow had been diverted to Stansted. Earlier reports said that the PIA flight was escorted to Stansted airport by Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft after reports of a 'suspicious object' on the flight.

"Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this afternoon from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft," the Ministry of Defence had said.

"The aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted airport," the UK ministry said.

Meanwhile, PIA Spokesperson Daniyal Gilani confirmed the incident and issued a statement in this regard saying, "UK authorities received some vague security threat through an anonymous phone call regarding PIA's Lahore-Heathrow flight PK-757 before its landing at Heathrow, after which, as per their standard procedures the aircraft was diverted to Stansted airport."

He added that security clearance is underway and all passengers onboard are safe and being looked after by PIA's local management.

"Passengers will be provided surface transport to London. For the return flight efforts are underway to ensure least inconvenience to passengers," added the spokesperson. A spokesman for Essex Police said officers were at the scene and added that the incident was not being treated as a hijack or terrorist situation, reported The Telegraph.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/08-Feb-17/uk-fighter-jets-escort-pia-plane-after-terror-threat

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LHC dismisses plea for Hafiz Saeed’s release

Feb 8, 2017

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a lawyer challenging detention of Jamatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.

Justice Erum Sajjad Gull heard the petition of Advocate Sarfraz Hussain as objection case and upheld an objection put by the registrar office on its maintainability. The office had stated that the petitioner had not furnished the impugned notification of Saeed’s detention.

During the hearing, Advocate A.K Dogar appeared before the court and stated that a separate petition would be filed soon on behalf of Hafiz Saeed challenging his detention.

Advocate Hussain had contended that Hafiz Saeed was detained in the light of the United Nations’ resolution of 2008. However, he said, the resolution of the UN Security Council passed in 1948 for holding a plebiscite in India-held Kashmir had not been implemented so far.

The lawyer stated that the JuD chief had been detained for keeping the Kashmir issue alive and the move was liable to be declared void as there was no nexus with anti-terrorism laws, which had been manoeuvered by the government to curtail the liberty of a Pakistani citizen at the behest of a foreign mission.

He asked the court to get the JuD chief recovered from the illegal and improper detention and set him at liberty in the interest of justice.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1313422/lhc-dismisses-plea-for-hafiz-saeeds-release

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No plan for travel ban on Pakistanis: US

ANWAR IQBAL

Feb 8, 2017

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has no plan to ban Pakistani citizens from travelling to the United States because Pakistan is providing the data they need to vet a visitor, US officials say.

In recent briefings to various media outlets, White House officials also said the administration had no plan to add other countries to the list of seven Muslim countries whose citizens were barred from travelling or migrating to the US.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon were among the countries which were providing the information needed to scrutinise travellers. But he warned that if this cooperation changed, these or other countries could also be added to the list. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, was more categorical in assuring the 40 non-designated Muslim countries that Mr Spicer mentioned in his statement.

“Importantly, these seven countries are the only countries to which the pause on entry applies. No other countries face such treatment. Nor have any other countries been identified as warranting future inclusion at this time,” the DHS said in a statement. Another White House spokesperson told BBC that reports of banning travellers from other countries were just rumours. “There’s nothing imminent that I’m aware of,” the spokesperson added.

Other White House officials said that even the Obama administration had problems with the seven countries now facing the travel ban as they were not providing the data needed to scrutinise their citizens. But a passage in the Jan 27 executive order leaves the option to expand the list open, causing worries and rumours across the Muslim world.

“At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the secretary of state or the secretary of homeland security may submit to the president the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment,” it said.

But the DHS, while ruling out the possibility of expanding the list in the near future, said the aliens affected by the 90-day pause on travel were also getting “case-by-base exceptions and waivers, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”.

“This pause does not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents, dual citizens with passports from a country other than the seven listed, or those travelling on diplomatic, Nato or UN visas,” it said.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1313482/no-plan-for-travel-ban-on-pakistanis-us

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Interior ministry approves issuance of red warrant against Altaf Hussain

Feb 8, 2017

The interior ministry on Tuesday gave its approval for the issuance of a red warrant against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supremo Altaf Hussain, DawnNews reported.

The red warrant is an international notice sent to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) seeking the arrest and extradition of an individual.

The MQM founder is wanted in various cases that include charges of terrorism and incitement to violence, among other offences.

The approval for the red warrant was issued apparently in compliance with the orders of an anti-terrorism court, which is hearing three identical cases against Hussain pertaining to his Aug 22 anti-state speech.

Police had also charged MNA Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Qamar Mansoor and Shahid Pasha in the three cases for allegedly listening to and facilitating the speech.

They had additionally named Hussain, Dr Farooq Sattar, Khawaja Izharul Hasan, Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain and other MQM leaders as absconders.

FIRs for the three cases had been lodged on the complaints of three private persons.

In its last hearing of the cases, the court had issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the absconders, and directed the investigating officer to approach the interior ministry and secure red warrants for the MQM supremo's arrest through Interpol.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1313302/interior-ministry-approves-issuance-of-red-warrant-against-altaf-hussain

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Two policemen injured in Bannu suicide attack

08-Feb-17

BANNU: At least two policemen sustained injuries after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near the main entrance to Mandan Police Station on Tuesday.

According to reports, a suicide bomber driving an explosives-packed car tried to enter the Mandan Police Station early in the day. After being spotted by the policemen on duty, the suicide bomber detonated the explosives near the main gate of the police station.

As a result, two policemen, identified as Mudassar and Alam Khan, sustained injuries.

The main entrance to the police station was destroyed, while the its building and nearby shops and houses were partially damaged. According to reports, around 220 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack. Gunshots were also heard soon after the blast, locals said.

Law enforcers soon reached the site of the explosion and sifted the injured policemen to the District Headquarters Hospital. The injured are out of danger, hospital sources said.

Meanwhile, law enforcers cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.

Deputy Inspector General Muhammad Ali and District Police Officer Fazal Mehmood visited the police station and later went to the hospital and inquired about the health of the injured policemen.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/08-Feb-17/two--policemen-injured--in-bannu-suicide-attack

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50 religio-political parties may form electoral alliance

February 08, 2017

Iftikhar Alam

LAHORE - Over 50 religio-political parties have come into action for the release of Hafiz Saeed and others with a strong possibility of formation of an alliance for the next general elections, The Nation has learnt.

Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-S and Jamiat Ulema-e-Paksiatn are already united under the banner of Milli Yakjehti Council and Difa-e-Pakistan Council, but they are not electoral alliances. Hafiz Saeed’s party is an active member of the duo representing all four Islamic schools of thought—Brelvi, Deobandi, Ahle Hadith and Shia.

The MYC’s central leadership is going to meet today in Lahore while and DPC has called its meeting on Thursday in Islamabad to discuss house arrest of JuD’s leaders and form a future strategy on different issues. An announcement is likely to start a countrywide united campaign for the release of Hafiz Saeed after the meetings. The JuD is actively backing the move.

“Suggestions have already come from religious scholars to form an alliance for the next election likely to be held in the end of 2017 or during early months of 2018. It is a good opportunity for us to become united as a large number of people are disturbed on the government’s action against religious segment of the society,” a leader of a religious party told The Nation.  JuD spokesmann Yahya Mujahid said although Dawa itself would not participate in any voting process in Pakistan, it could announce the support of any likeminded alliance or party in the next election. The JuD claims it enjoys support of two million organised workers from Karachi to Gilgit besides having thousands of ideological supporters in every part of the country.  Sahibzada Abulkhair Zubair, a Brelvi scholar and head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan-Noorani, is heading MYC while Maulana Samiul Haq who proudly calls himself father of Taliban is the chairman of DPC.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Feb-2017/50-religio-political-parties-may-form-electoral-alliance

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South Asia

 

At least 20 dead in bomb blast outside Afghan Supreme Court

Feb 8, 2017

At least 20 people were killed on Tuesday in a bomb blast outside the Supreme Court in the center of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, government officials said, in what appeared to be the latest in a series of attacks on the judiciary.

The Ministry of Public Health said at least 20 people were killed and 38 injured people were taken to city hospitals.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, in which police said an apparent suicide bomber targeted Supreme Court employees leaving their offices at the end of the working day.

"When I heard a bang I rushed toward the Supreme Court's parking lot to find my brother who works there," said a witness, Dad Khuda, adding he had found his brother alive.

"Unfortunately, several people were killed and wounded."

Reuters witnesses at the scene reported blood stains on the street and numerous ambulances leaving the area.

Last month, Taliban bombers killed more than 30 people and wounded about 70 in twin blasts in a crowded area of the city during the afternoon rush hour.

The Islamist militant Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and bring down the US-backed government, claimed responsibility for the Jan. 10 attack.

Afghan government forces control no more than two-thirds of national territory, and have struggled to contain the Taliban insurgency since the bulk of NATO soldiers withdrew at the end of 2014.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/07-Feb-2017/explosion-outside-supreme-court-in-afghan-capital-casualties-feared

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Karzai reacts on removal of Hekmatyar’s name from UN sanctions list

Feb 07 2017

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai reacted towards the removal of Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s name from the sanctions list of the United Nations.

The Office of the former President in a statement said “The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomes the withdrawal of Jihadi leader and Hezb-e-Islami Emir Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s name from the sanctions list of the United Nations.”

Karzai further added that peace is the vital need of the Afghan people and the available barriers on the way to peace must be lifted as soon as possible.

He said the Afghan nation wants a peaceful life same as the other nations and are hopeful that the ongoing destruction and killing will end.

Calling peace and stability as one of his ambitions, the former President, said he is hopeful that Hezb-e-Islami will play a key role in the politics of the country with the withdrawal of Hekmatyar’s name from the sanctions list.

Karzai further added that he is hopeful that the party will work to further boost democracy in the country in the light of the Afghan constitution.

He also called on Taliban group to jointly work with the Afghan people to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan in a bid to take the country towards development and prosperity.

The United Nations Security Council on Friday removed the name of Hekmatyar from its sanctions list.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/karzai-reacts-on-removal-of-hekmatyars-name-from-un-sanctions-list-02830

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Four IS militants handed over to Afghan govt

IBRAHIM SHINWARI

Feb 8, 2017

LANDI KOTAL: Pakistan handed over four suspected members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s Afghanistan chapter to Kabul as ‘a gesture of goodwill’ on Tuesday.

The four were paraded before journalists at the Michni checkpoint before being handed over to Afghan officials at the Torkham border crossing.

Landi Kotal Assistant Political Agent Niaz Mohammad told reporters that Javed Khan, Safiullah, Talmeen Khan and Niamatullah, all hailing from Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, had been arrested by intelligence agencies in Peshawar after they received information about the militants’ presence in the city.

He said that the four suspects had sneaked into Pakistan for medical treatment after they were injured during a fight with security forces in Afghanistan.

“Peshawar police handed over the four IS members to the political administration after the interrogation with them. Now we are handing them over to the Afghan government as a gesture of goodwill,” Mr Niaz said.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1313486/four-is-militants-handed-over-to-afghan-govt

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Bangladesh-origin US entrepreneur feels heat of Trump's Muslim ban

17:13, Feb 07

Shafqat Islam, Bangladeshi immigrant and cofounder of NewsCred, is concerned that Muslim-majority Bangladesh could be included into US president Donald Trump's black list of seven countries, according to Forbes.

“My family didn’t want me to come because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the next four days,” the 35-year-old Shafqat said from Paris when he was reached by the magazine  over phone.

However, Trump's ban remains suspended for now due to court orders.

He is one of many immigrants who formed companies in the United States.

Analysing census data by economists Robert W Fairlie and Magnus Lofstrom, the magazine said immigrants accounted for 18 per cent of all self-employed people in 2014, up from 7 per cent in 1980.

NewsCred, a content-marketing company, has reportedly raised $90 million in venture capital, and employs 200 people in the US, the UK and Bangladesh.

His is a company which has around 20 per cent of the 140 employees in the headquarters, New York, from immigrants with work visas or green cards, reports Forbes.

"We’re not just a company that was founded by immigrants, we employ a lot of immigrants, and in some ways we exist because of immigration," Shafqat was quoted to have said. "We have a pretty strong stance at our company: We are a pro-immigration company." The company has organised its own working group, and, in response to Trump’s ban, its legal team went to JFK airport to support those people who were detained, the report said. Many employees were said to have attended protests, and donated to the ACLU and other organisations.

Full report at:

http://en.prothom-alo.com/bangladesh/news/138537/Bangladesh-origin-US-entrepreneur-feels-heat-of

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Southeast Asia

 

After Islamist pressure, bikini photo contest in Bangi cancelled

BY ZURAIRI AR

February 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 ― Bangi Wonderland announced today that a bikini photography contest scheduled to be held at its water park later this month is off, following an official protest from the Serdang PAS Youth wing and Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).

The park said the decision over the contest, part of the Supermodel International Malaysia 2017 event, was made by the organiser I Creative Event Sdn Bhd.

“Event ‘Bikini Photography Contest’ for Supermodel International Malaysia 2017 is officially cancelled by organiser, I Creative Event,” the theme park said on its official Facebook page this morning.

I Creative Event declined comment when contacted earlier by Malay Mail Online.

Yesterday, the Serdang chapter of the Islamist party’s Youth wing protested the photography contest, claiming it goes against the values of the Malay-majority residents in Bangi.

The wing has since urged state and federal authorities, including Islamic enforcers and the local council to block the event in Selangor in every possible way.

Earlier today, the Hulu Langat chapter of Isma had also criticised the event, calling it “indecent” and purportedly challenged the sensitivities of Bangi residents.

“This kind of programme must be cancelled to respect the majority of residents who are Malay-Muslim,” the chapter’s chief Mohd Noor Azib Asmangi said on the IsmaWeb portal.

The contest was part of the Supermodel International Malaysia 2017 contest, and would have featured its top 20 finalists. None of the finalists are Malay-Muslims.

The photography contest was open to local and foreign contestants who need to pay RM198 each, and stood the chance to win a RM500 cash prize, trophy, or ticket to the grand final event of Supermodel International Malaysia 2017.

It is unknown how many participants have registered and if they will have their registration fee reimbursed.

Supermodel International Malaysia 2017 is co-organised by I Creative Event Sdn Bhd and Character International.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/after-islamist-pressure-bikini-photo-contest-in-bangi-cancelled

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Malaysia Seizes Pig-Hair Brushes After Muslims Complain

Feb 8, 2017

Malaysian authorities have seized more than 2,000 paint brushes suspected to be made from pig bristles and sold without labels, in a crackdown following complaints from Muslim consumers.

Pigs and dogs are considered unclean by Muslims, who make up some 60 percent of Malaysia's 30 million people. It's illegal to sell products made from any part of a pig or a dog, unless the goods are labeled and kept separately.

Domestic trade enforcement official Zarif Anwar said Wednesday that officials were inspecting shops selling paint brushes for art and commercial use. He said brushes seized would be examined to determine whether they were made from pig bristles.

Full report at:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/malaysia-seizes-pig-hair-brushes-muslims-complain-45339852

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IS unlikely to grow in SE Asia: Academic

Feb 8, 2017

Although Muslim populations in ASEAN are not high on the US's list of potential terrorism targets, Islamic State (IS) movements are likely to remain stagnant in the region, an expert on Muslim affairs.

IS operations have been prominent in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, which are also home to foreign fighters who owe allegiance to the IS, said Charan Maluleem, a Muslim academic from Thammasat University.

In Jakarta last January, the IS claimed responsibility for bombings in the capital which killed four civilians and injured another 25. Then in July, Santaso, leader of the IS-affiliated East Indonesia Mujahidin, was hunted down and shot by Indonesian police.

Malaysian authorities have also stepped up measures against the IS threats following a grenade attack in Kuala Lumpur in June. Two months later, they foiled alleged IS militants who planned to attack several sites in the capital on the national independence day. The country, with 60 per cent of the population of 30 million being Muslim, has also been verbally threatened by IS affiliates. - See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/unlikely-grow-se-asia-academic#sthash.9KikjCrt.dpuf

Full report at:

http://news.asiaone.com/news/asia/unlikely-grow-se-asia-academic

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Fake news in Indonesia draws a possible fatwa as Jakarta governor's race heats up

Feb 8, 2017

Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical body, which last year issued a religious edict of blasphemy against the governor of Jakarta and ally of President Joko Widodo, now may offer him support, as a complex mix of politics and religion plays out ahead of a closely-watched election.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) looks set to issue a fatwa cautioning against spreading fake news online, a move that could aid the re-election of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is ethnic Chinese and a Christian, at polls on Feb. 15.

The governor, popularly known as Ahok, was accused of blasphemy last year after referencing a verse from the Koran while campaigning and a trial is pending. Blasphemy laws in Indonesia are applicable to any of its six officially recognized religions.

"We will issue (the fatwa) as soon as possible, because the situation is worrying," Ma'aruf Amin, chairman of the MUI, said last week, according to Reuters. The MUI is responsible for issuing fatwas, or religious edicts, and providing religious guidance, carrying moral force, but not legal.

Their sights are now set on a spread of unproven stories that could incite a backlash in Indonesia, even if they appear outlandish. For example, one hot fake news items alleges China is pursuing warfare with chili seeds.

News of the chili seed conspiracy emerged on social media in December last year accusing China of using contaminated seeds as a biological weapon. The false reports were based on a true news story on four Chinese nationals arrested for planting chili seeds that had been contaminated with bacteria on a farm near Bogor city.

The contaminated chili seeds were destroyed by authorities, but this did not stop the a wave of anti-China sentiment on social media. Even the Chinese embassy in Indonesia was involved, issuing a statement to say that the reports were "very worrying" and that it hoped ties between the two countries would not be negatively affected.

Even though slightly under 40 percent of the population owns smartphones, those that do are extremely connected to social media. Jakarta was found to be the most active city in terms of Twitter use in 2012 by the research company Semiocast.

The Indonesian authorities have also spoken up on the issue.

"Libel, hate speech and false words on social media are increasingly troubling society," President Joko Widodo tweeted in December last year, adding the law enforcement had to come down hard on those who engaged in these online behaviors.

Jokowi has experienced the repercussions of fake news first-hand when rumors on social media falsely claimed that he had ties to a local Communist group during his presidential campaign.

According to one researcher, the government has tacitly sought the fatwa to stem any potential incidents as well as help Ahok win a three-way race that includes former Minister of Education and Culture Anies Baswedan and Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Dina Afrianty, a researcher at the Australian Catholic University, said a fatwa against fake news might be seen as a political aim to stem a religious backlash and keep the economy on track.

"It is the Indonesian government who asked MUI to release a fatwa to minimize the heightened political tension in this last week of the campaign season," Afrianty told CNBC in an email, "In my view, this is very political. As a quasi-government institution, MUI is often used by the government, any political parties or interest groups for their own political purposes."

"What I have seen since the first trial took place in early December 2016 (is that) the public gradually realized that Ahok's case is actually a political game, not so much about Islam," said Afrianty.

A recent poll showed 24.1 percent of respondents for Yudhoyono and 22.7 percent chose Baswedan. Ahok remained the front-runner ahead of the election on Feb. 15 -- 37.4 percent of respondents indicated that they would vote for him.

Police officers take security measure as demonstrators gather to protest the Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, as he attends trial in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan. 3, 2017.

Police officers take security measure as demonstrators gather to protest the Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, as he attends trial in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan. 3, 2017.

But it was also the MUI that issued a fatwa last year that declared that Ahok had committed blasphemy, which sparked protests that drew as many as 200,000 people to one rally, showing the potential of the body to spur public response.

Ahok, like Jokowi, is seen as an economic reformer and would be a key player in plans to beef up infrastructure in the city of 10 million, the largest in the country and a commercial as well as political hub.

Colm Fox, a professor of political science at the Singapore Management University, however said the reformer tag has not been a sure-fire winner in political races in Indonesia.

Full report at:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/07/indonesian-muslim-clerics-may-issue-a-fatwa-against-fake-news.html

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Government will not intervene in religious sermons: Lukman

February 7, 2017

Marguerite Afra Sapiie

The government has said it has no intention of intervening in the religious sphere with its plan to draft standards for preachers who deliver sermons during Friday prayers.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has tried to calm down public concerns about the plan, which have arisen alongside simmering sectarian tensions in the country. Critics of the plan say the state will police religious sermons but Lukman has been quick to say that the government will let ulema and Islamic organizations determine the standards.

"The government will not intervene, let alone regulate the content of sermons like in the past. This is a whole different era [from the New Order] and it's impossible for us to do such things because we know that it's not in our domain," Lukman said on Tuesday.

Lukman said the determination of standards for the preachers would be mulled over with ulema from numerous organizations including the Indonesian Ulema Council, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. The ministry will only facilitate the process of standardization.

"What we need is guidance that can serve as a reference point for the preachers to know what they can and cannot say during sermons and also for the management of mosques to decide who can deliver sermons on a certain date and who cannot," Lukman said.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/02/07/government-will-not-intervene-in-religious-sermons-lukman.html

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Goverment urged to act neutral in Ahok’s blasphemy case

February 8, 2017

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) West Nusa Tenggara has called on the government to avoid biases in handling a blasphemy case currently implicating non-active Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

“We asked the government not to take sides in settling the blasphemy allegedly committed by Pak Ahok,” MUI West Nusa Tenggara chairman Saiful Muslim said after the council’s coordination meeting with Islamic mass organizations from across the province in Mataram on Monday.

Officials from the West Nusa Tenggara chapter of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and its women’s wing, Muslimat NU, as well as representatives of the province’s Muhammadiyah central executive board and its youth wing, Pemuda Muhammadiyah, attended the meeting. Officials of Nahdlatul Wathan, the biggest Islamic mass organization in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, were also present.

In the meeting, they criticized Ahok whom they considered had insulted ulemas in his eighth blasphemy hearing on Jan. 31, in which MUI chairman Ma’ruf Amin was present as a witness.

They asked authorities to arrest Ahok and dismiss him from his position as Jakarta governor. They also called on authorities to take measures to stop all forms of criminalization against ulemas in Indonesia.

“We will send these recommendations to the MUI in Jakarta as soon as possible,” said Saiful.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/02/08/goverment-urged-to-act-neutral-in-ahoks-blasphemy-case.html

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Islamic Preacher Certification Is a Hoax: Religious Affairs Ministry

Feb 8, 2017

Jakarta. A spokesman for the Ministry of Religious Affairs has denied reports on social media claiming that it will require khatib, or Islamic preachers, to obtain certification before they are allowed to address Friday sermons.

The story also contains information on the supposed benefits government-certified preachers would be entitled to receive.

"I can confirm that the information on the khatib certification that went viral on social media is a hoax," Religious Affairs Ministry spokesman Mastuki said in a press release on Monday (06/02).

He said the ministry will not implement any requirement for certification, or interfere with sermon materials.

The idea of certifying preachers came from the public, as the ministry is currently studying the possibility, Mastuki said, as quoted in a report by state-run news agency Antara.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/islamic-preacher-certification-hoax-religious-affairs-ministry/

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North America

 

Court questions whether President Trump’s travel ban anti-Muslim

February 8, 2017

An US appeals court has questioned whether President Donald Trump’s travel ban discriminates against Muslims, a media report said on Wednesday. Judge Richard Clifton asked whether it could be discriminatory if it affected only 15 per cent of the world’s Muslims, the BBC reported. Clifton is one of three judges on the appeals court in San Francisco, which will make its ruling later this week.

There was an hour of oral arguments from both sides on Tuesday. Whatever the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decides, the case would probably end up in the Supreme Court. Trump’s executive order temporarily banned entry for all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries, until it was halted last week.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/court-questions-whether-president-trumps-travel-ban-anti-muslim-4513425/

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White terrorists ‘different’ to Muslim terrorists argues Republican congressman

8 Feb, 2017

Republican Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI-7) has argued “there’s a difference” between attacks carried out by Muslim terrorists and those carried out by white supremacists and others.

While discussing President Donald Trump’s list of 78 attacks which the White House thinks have not been sufficiently covered by the media, Duffy was asked by CNN news anchor Alisyn Camerota why the president didn’t include the recent attack at a mosque in Quebec, Canada, where six people were killed, allegedly by a supporter of far-right causes. “Why isn’t the president talking about the white terrorists who mowed down six Muslims praying at their mosque?”

“I don’t know, but I would just tell you there’s a difference,” Duffy replied. “Death and murder on both sides are wrong... But again you don’t have a group like ISIS or Al-Qaeda that’s inspiring people around the world to take up arms and kill innocents. That was a one off.” he said.

Camerota responded by pointing out that attacks like the Oklahoma City bombing and the 2015 Charleston Church massacre were perpetrated by white extremists. But Duffy claimed those incidents aren’t the same as attacks carried out by Muslims.

“So you give me two examples, right. And in recent times, we’re going to talk about the one example,” Duffy said. “There are radicals all over the world, and here in America, that’s different than the whole movement that has taken place through ISIS and inspired attacks.”

Full report at:

https://www.rt.com/usa/376634-congressman-racism-terror-attack/

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Trump perpetually associate extremism with Islam

Feb 8, 2017

FLORIDA- As impartiality and the xenophobia rises globally, the US President Donald Trump has perpetually bent upon associating extremism with Islam, though Islam gives the lesson of peace and sanity.

The overemphasis on the nationalism is killing for the nations. Still, Trump employs a biased and language to treat the issue of militancy.

While talking to the Army Central Command in the state of Florida, Donald Trump said that the extremists are providing opportunity to the militants to strengthen its roots in the US, adding that they would try to defeat such destructive forces.

Before running for the American presidency, Trump had demonstrated an abnormal behavior both in ethical and professional matters that extremists are providing an opportunity to the militants to be strengthened in the US.

However, he did not explain that what measures were being taken about the issue of perpetual attacks on the white people in various business and educational institutions in the US.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantribe.com/50498/trump-perpetually-associate-extremism-islam

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Bipartisan national security officials argue Donald Trump’s 'Muslim ban' makes America less safe

08 February 2017

A bipartisan group of senior diplomats and national security officials, including two former secretaries of state, have said Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” risks long term damage to the US’ security and foreign policy interests.

In an affidavit filed to the Court of Appeals, which refused to reverse the temporary stay on Mr Trump’s “Muslim ban” at the weekend, senior diplomatic figures such as Madeleine Albright and John Kerry said the order “cannot be justified on national security or foreign policy grounds”.

It said: “We view the Order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer.

“It does not perform its declared task of ‘protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States'.

“It could do long-term damage to our national security and foreign policy interests, endangering US troops in the field and disrupting counter-terrorism and national security partnerships.”

The affidavit said the ban, which only affects Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Sudan, will bolster Isis’ propaganda which claims Islam is at war with the West, ThinkProgress reported.

“In our professional opinion, the Order was ill-conceived, poorly implemented and ill-explained,” it added.

The 9th Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to reverse federal judge James Robart's stay on the executive order pending a review of a lawsuit brought by Washington state Attorney-General Bob Ferguson.

Following the Appeals court ruling on Saturday, Mr Trump took to Twitter to denounce Justice Robart, who he called a “so-called” judge, and claimed the stay was “ridiculous” and would be overturned. 

The White House insisted the order was not unconstitutional because the President has the right to prevent people entering the country but it has provoked outrage at home and abroad.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-muslim-ban-bipartisan-national-security-officials-america-less-safe-immigration-a7567526.html

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Researchers: Fear of Muslim American Violent Extremism Overblown

February 07, 2017

WASHINGTON —

President Donald Trump's now-suspended executive order on immigration is based on a widely disputed premise: Loose immigration rules are allowing thousands of terrorists to slip into the United States undetected.

Shortly after a Muslim American gunman killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub last June, Trump told supporters, "You have thousands of shooters like this, with the same mentality, out there in this country, and we're bringing thousands and thousands of them back in to this country every year."

The president echoed that claim after a federal judge halted his order Friday. "Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many bad people and dangerous people may be pouring into our country,'' he tweeted.

But experts say there is little evidence to back up that contention.

Indeed, most recent terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by homegrown Muslim extremists with few or no links to foreign countries, with recent immigrants and refugees accounting for a minority of mostly non-lethal plots. These same experts attribute that to stringent security procedures put in place after the attacks of 9/11 nearly 15 years ago.

"The U.S. government has been extremely effective at preventing the infiltration of terrorists into the United States," said Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina who tracks Muslim American involvement in terrorism. "This is one of the great success stories of the post-9/11 era."

Plots on record

Using open source records, Kurzman has identified 414 Muslim Americans who have been involved in extremist plots in the U.S. since 9/11. Among them were 217 natural-born citizens, 60 naturalized citizens, 39 legal permanent residents, 38 refugees and 15 undocumented immigrants.

In total, attacks carried out by Muslim American extremists have killed 123 Americans in the U.S. since 9/11, according to Kurzman.

The majority of cases documented by Kurzman were non-lethal, ranging from attending terrorist training abroad, to conspiring to join al-Qaida and Islamic State.

According to Kurzman, more than 100 American Muslims have tried to join Islamic State, mostly during the terror group's "burst of mini popularity" in late 2014 and early 2015. A couple of dozen made it to Iraq and Syria, he said. No foreign fighter has returned to carry out an attack.

In addition, no one with a family background from any of the seven countries affected by the immigration order has been involved in a deadly terrorist attack in the U.S., though nearly 100 have been "associated" with violent extremism.

"The level of involvement by Muslim Americans in violent extremism is still quite low as compared with the overall level of murders and violence in the United States," he said, noting there have been some 240,000 homicides in the United States in the same period.

Support for ban

Nevertheless, supporters of Trump's order say it makes sense to restrict entry to the United States while the new administration reviews procedures to make sure they are adequate.

"This is a temporary halt in order to allow the U.S. to implement the necessary security measures," said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates reduced immigration levels.

Current screening procedures are far from foolproof, he said, echoing concerns voiced by former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and other security officials in recent years.

"That's what the pause is intended to find out, so that we do have systems in place to make sure that we're not admitting people who might pose a danger," Mehlman said.

Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, has examined data going back to the 1970s. Nowrasteh estimated that 3,024 Americans were killed by foreign-born terrorists on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. All but 41 of those deaths occurred in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The risk of dying in a terrorist attack remains infinitesimal: The chance of an American being killed in an attack carried out by a foreign-born terrorist is 1 in 3.6 million per year, according to Nowrasteh. The likelihood of being killed by a refugee? 1 in 3.64 billion per year.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/a/fear-of-muslim-american-violent-extremism-overblown-researchers-say/3710606.html

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In Canada, Adventist Pastor Talks Hope to Muslim Leaders

FEBRUARY 7, 2017

A Seventh-day Adventist leader, pastor, and police chaplain in Canada recently had an unprecedented opportunity to witness to Muslims living in a populous area northeast of Toronto.

Pastor Mansfield Edwards was a guest speaker in one of the official candlelight vigils convened by the various levels of government on February 1 in the wake of the Quebec City mosque shooting that, according to media reports, left six people dead and at least 19 injured last January 29.

Edwards, who is the president of the church's Ontario Conference region, was invited to address the religious and civil leaders, as well as the community members—most of them of the Muslim faith—who packed the council chambers of the Markham Civic Center in the Ontario city of Markham.

The candlelight vigil was hosted by Frank Scarpatti, the Mayor of Markham. Its goal, according to official city websites, was to “find a way to express […] grief and mourning,” and “to show solidarity with our Muslim community.” The city of Markham, with a population of over 300,000, is known for its multiethnic and multiracial demographics. According to the 2011 Canadian Census, more than 22,000, or 7.3 per cent of the population, identify themselves as Muslims.

A few days before the vigil, Edwards received a call from Eric Jolliffe, Chief of the York Regional Police, a five-district region that includes Markham. Through the years, Edwards has volunteered as a police chaplain and developed a good relationship with law enforcement authorities. He was elated to find out he was being invited to speak at the regional event.

Full report at:

. “We serve a come-from-behind Lord; in the end, His love will always win.”

http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story4804-mansfield-edwards-talks-hope

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Interest in immigration, education in Canada surges following U.S. Muslim ban

Feb 7, 2017

A Canadian immigration lawyer said here on Tuesday he and others in his field had been swamped with immigration assistance requests from Muslims legally residing in the U.S.

CanadaThey’re seeking a new home in Canada following U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned residents from seven Muslim-majority countries, said Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver, British Columbia in west Canada.

The “cascade” of immigration assistance requests began after the signing of Trump’s Muslim ban, he said.

“That’s when people who were merely uncomfortable and displeased changed their emotional state to one of fear,” he told Xinhua in an interview.

After the executive order there was a sudden increase in intake for consultations for how to immigrate to Canada at Kurland’s office.

He said he experienced four days of steady calls from Muslim residents in the U.S. seeking his help to move to Canada.

“The callers were highly educated, PhD or master’s degree level,” he said. “If they weren’t in school then they were in senior executive positions in management in various American companies. They all used the word ‘fear’.”

Kurland said he expects the applications to keep coming despite the temporary halt of the Muslim ban by a federal court judge in Seattle last week. The legal and political outcome of the order remains unclear.

He said ther immigration lawyers he knows in Canada are also experiencing the surge in applications.

Canadian Universities are also noticing a boost in interest from Americans. Following the Nov. 8 presidential election in the U.S., the University of Toronto reported a surge in American interest in a University’s website for prospective students.

Full report at:

https://www.newsghana.com.gh/interest-in-immigration-education-in-canada-surges-following-u-s-muslim-ban/

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Europe

 

South Carolina Parents Livid Over 6th Grade ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ Assignment

Feb 7, 2017

South Carolina parents are fuming after their children’s sixth grade school teacher handed out a worksheet titled “The Five Pillars of Islam.”

Students at Alston Middle School in Summerville, South Carolina, were assigned the worksheet, which tested their knowledge of the Quran, WCSC-TV reported.

One section of the worksheet instructed students to match certain passages from the Quran with the Pillar it most closely supports. One of the questions in that section quoted a verse from the Quran, which reads: “Allah: There is no god but Him, the Living, the Eternal One. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him.” The correct corresponding pillar was for that particular passage was the first Pillar of Islam, which states, “Proclaim there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.”

Another section had students fill in the blanks. One statement, once completed, referred to Islam as a “religion of peace.” Another blank instructed students to say how Muslims feel that “a few people of my religion committed terrorist acts.” Pupils were also asked to circle whether Muslims “do” or “do not” believe in “terrorists’ idea of a ‘holy war.'”

But one mother, who the station did not identify, said she believes the school should have asked parents’ permission before giving the assignment. The same mother insisted that she’s not the only angry parent, although she didn’t say how many others took issue.

“Our concern is that if they need permission to teach sexual education, they should be getting permission to teach religious values,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dorchester District II spokeswoman Patricia Raynor told WCSC-TV that the assignment was intended only as a “teaching tool” and not to promote any particular religion over another. Raynor said the worksheet was handed out as part of the students’ study of a civilization, adding that one of the next assignments covers Christianity as it relates to the ancient civilization of Rome.

Raynor added that the same curriculum is taught “in all school districts in South Carolina.”

The South Carolina Department of Education’s sixth grade social studies curriculum standards, provided to WCSC-TV by Raynor, states that “in Modern World History, students will describe the proliferation of religious ideas, including the expansion of Islam, the competition between Protestants and Catholics throughout Europe and the spread of Buddhism through East and Southeast Asia.”

Raynor said the district is willing to “work with our families” if a parent does not want their child to learn about a specific topic.

http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/02/07/parents-livid-over-6th-grade-five-pillars-of-islam-assignment/

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New Poll: Democrats Say Islam Is As Violent As Other Religions

February 7, 2017

DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new CBS poll conducted in February reveals 75 percent of Democrats believe Islam is less violent or as violent as other religions.

The poll was conducted following President Trump's temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslims majority countries.

In 2017 alone, there have been 144 Islamic motivated attacks worldwide and more than 1,000 Islamic related terror deaths.

Compared to Democrats, more than 60 percent of Republicans said the Islamic religion encourages violence more than other religions.

The most notable attack so far in 2017 was in France's Louvre museum — a beacon of Western culture. A Muslim immigrant from Egypt was in France for only one week when he weilded a machete, screaming "Allahu Akbar" before police gunned him down.

Following the Louvre attack President Trump tweeted, "A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S."

There has already been one Islamic attack in the United State. A man carrying Islamic writings shot and killed a security guard in Denver.

For the first time ever, the United States joined the Muslim majority countries of Iraq and Syria on the 2016 Hall of Shame of the world's worst countries for religious freedom, especially persecution against Christians.

The poll adds, "Slightly more Americans disapprove (51 percent) than approve (45 percent) of President Trump's executive order that temporarily bans people from entering the U.S. from seven designated countries. Views on temporarily suspending entry for refugees are the same. Opinions on these issues are highly partisan."

Following the release of the CBS poll, President Trump issued a tweet, "Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting."

Of the more than 1,000 surveyed, President Trump has a 40 percent approval rating and a 45 percent approval rating of handling terrorism.

Full report at:

http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/new-poll-democrats-say-islam-is-as-violent-as-other-religions

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France’s Le Pen wants to ban Jewish skullcaps to fight radical Islam

February 7, 2017

French nationalist Le Pen said French Jews should be banned from wearing a kippah (skullcap) as part of “the struggle against radical Islam.”

French nationalist Marine Le Pen vowed to put “France First” as she launched her presidential bid Sunday.

She outlined several of her campaign’s themes, including the fight against globalization and Muslim immigration into France, which she said threatens the country’s unique culture and identity.

Le Pen has repeatedly called to ban the wearing of the Muslim veil and the kippah, the Jewish religious head covering, on France’s streets.

Speaking to Israel’s Channel 2 news in an interview which aired Friday, she said French Jews should be banned from wearing a kippah as part of “the struggle against radical Islam.”

“Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippah are in any case a minority, because they are afraid,” Le Pen said, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

“But I mainly think the struggle against radical Islam should be a joint struggle and everyone should say, ‘there, we are sacrificing something,’” she said, meaning the Jews should concede their head covering in favor of enabling a blanket ban on wearing of all religious garb in public, this banning the Muslim Hijab as well.

“Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat, but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France,” she explained.

She also defended President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on citizens of seven countries entering the US, saying it was not an assault on Muslims.

“There are dozens of Muslim countries in the world that are not on this list”, she said.

“On the other hand, the fact that there are 15 countries that prevent entry to Israelis is not troubling anyone,” she pointed out.

Full report at:

https://worldisraelnews.com/frances-le-pen-wants-ban-kippahs-fight-radical-islam/

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Most Europeans want immigration ban from Muslim-majority countries, poll reveals

08 February 2017

A majority of Europeans want a ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, a poll has revealed.

An average of 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries.

The Chatham House study, conducted before US President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigration to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries, found majorities in all but two of the ten states opposed immigration from mainly Muslim countries.

Only 20 per cent disagreed, while 25 per cent said they did not know.

A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.

In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.

In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban.

Of those surveyed, opposition to Muslim immigration was especially intense among older people, while those under 30 were less opposed.

There was also a contrast between those with secondary level qualifications, of which 59 per cent opposed Muslim immigration, and degree holders, of which less than half supported halting immigration.

Full report at:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/most-europeans-want-muslim-ban-immigration-control-middle-east-countries-syria-iran-iraq-poll-a7567301.html

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Murdered backpacker's mother criticises Trump over 'terror' list

7 February 2017

The mother of a murdered British backpacker has accused Donald Trump of using “fake news” about her daughter’s death to further the “persecution of innocent people” by falsely claiming she was the victim of a terrorist attack.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, and Tom Jackson, 30, were killed in a knife attack at a hostel in Queensland, Australia, last August. Smail Ayad, 29, from France, has been charged with their murder.

On Monday the White House released a list of 78 attacks that it described as “executed or inspired by” Islamic State to support a claim by Trump that the media has been under-reporting terrorist atrocities.

The list, which was designed to bolster the case for Trump’s ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries, included the killings of Ayliffe-Chung and Jackson.

In a defiant open letter to Trump, Rosie Ayliffe pointed out that police discounted the possibility that the attack was terrorism related despite reports that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the stabbing.

“My daughter’s death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people,” she wrote.

She told the Guardian that since the White House published the list, Ray Rohweder, a police chief in Queensland responsible for investigating case, had emailed her to repeat that there was “no terror link” in her daughter’s death.

“It’s the police who say it wasn’t a terror attack. That’s good enough for me and it should be good enough for Trump,” she said.

She added: “He [Trump] is trying to justify his actions in not allowing Muslims into the country from these seven countries. He’s trying to find examples of terror and this just isn’t one of them.

“It does look like fake news. It’s another example of some conniving unpleasant politicking. He [Trump] is using it in a quite pernicious way to justify unfair practices and discrimination against people I find personally we have a lot to learn from.”

The email from Rohweder said: “The crimes were not about race or religion, but individual criminal behaviour. I am so sorry that your terrible loss has become the subject of further comment.”

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/07/murdered-backpackers-mother-criticises-trump-over-terror-list

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Africa

 

Cleric Preaches Closeness to God as Mosque Clocks 10

08 February 2017

A Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mustapha Yusuf Temidire, has urged the citizenry to turn to God in prayer for divine intervention over the challenges facing the country.

Quoting the Quran, the cleric said through supplications, God “shall be our guardian to the right path. He will surely ease our hardship”.

He spoke in a special sermon at the 10th year anniversary of Jama’at of Temidire Salam International Central Mosque, Ikorodu, Lagos.

heikh Temidire, who urged Nigerians to respect their leaders irrespective of the hardship they were facing, said: “Allah made us understand in the Holy Quran that He created all His creatures for a purpose and also among His creations he choose whom he pleases to be in high position such as the president, leader of a community, commissioner and others (Suratul Qasas V 68).

“As the situation of Nigeria is that everyone is feeling hardship, the only way out of the problem, according to the Quran, is to run back to Almighty Allah, pray to him and he shall be our guardian to the right path. He will surely ease our hardship. During the lifetime of Prophet Shuiab (peace be upon him) in Modyan city, he advised his people then not to backbite and avoid all evil such as killing, embezzling and others this can be seen in (Suratul Aaraf V 73)

“Therefore, the only way out of the problems in Nigeria today is prayer as we all know that “prayer is the master key.”

He counselled leaders that they occupied positions of trust and they would be accountable to God.

The cleric said: “However, whoever Almighty Allah Has appointed the leader or the head of a state should execute his or her leadership as it is laid in the Holy Quran.

“According to the Quran ‘surely Allah commands you to make over trust to their owners and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice, surely Allah admonishes you with his excellence. Allah is all seeing and Hearing (Suratul Nisai V 58)’.

“This noble verse of the holy Quran makes us to know that for you to be a leader, you have to be trustworthy, dependable, loyal and faithful to your people, and these has to begin with your family and neighbourhoods and the justice that is well welcomed by Almighty Allah. And this is what we can see with the administration of our president and his subordinates. They are firm with Allah’s commandments…”).

He explained that the mosque has been offering special prayers to God to ease the hardship facing the citizenry.

According to him, the mosque was founded on November 1, 2006, “on the basic tenets of Islam that must be observed as can be found in the holy Quran in Suratul Baqarah verse 177, which states and I quote ‘it is not righteousness that you turn your face east or west but to believe in Allah, the last day, the angels, the book and the messengers”.

Its members, the cleric said, also spent part of their wealth out of love for God on not only their families, “but on the orphans, the travellers and the beggars”.

In obedient to God, he said, his members “are steadfast in prayers and give Zakat, fulfil all contractual obligations, are firm and patient under any circumstances and God-fearing’.

“This is Islam code of conduct, which must be observed before ever practising the five daily prayers to qualify to be called a Muslim.  This is our guiding principle in this society called Temidire Salam International Central Mosque and that is what is lacking in our society today. We Nigerians are neither our brother’s keeper nor God-fearing, including our so called leaders.

“We do not limit ourselves to just preaching and propagating the cause of Islam, we award scholarships to indigent students and those that excel in our Annual Quran competitions to cover both their western and Islam education, irrespective of whether they are our members or not and whether they attend private or public schools or class,”  Sheikh Temidire said.

http://thenationonlineng.net/cleric-preaches-closeness-god-mosque-clocks-10/

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CAN replies Information Minister on ‘Islamisation’ claim

February 8, 2017

Evelyn Okakwu

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has expressed disappointment with the remarks by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, condemning religious leaders for spreading “incendiary messages” through the media.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CAN President, Samson Ayokunle, denied the claim by Mr. Mohammed that religious leaders spreading such messages were engaged in a “campaign of calumny” against the present administration.

Mr. Mohammed spoke at a town hall meeting in Ilorin, Kwara State on Monday.

“The alleged Islamisation of Nigeria under the current administration is totally false and should be perceived in its entirety as a campaign of calumny,” the minister had said.

“There is no bigger threat to the peace and unity of our country today than religion-coated incendiary messages, which are being carelessly sent out by some religious, political and opinion leaders.

“In recent times, the media has been increasingly awash with incendiary statements that seem designed to pitch the adherents of the two prominent religions in the country, Christians and Muslims, against one another. Such fallacies like the Islamisation of Nigeria, the killing of Christians by Muslims, the labelling of Nigeria as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world can only serve one purpose: trigger a religious war,” the minister said.

“Those who are making these allegations know that they are not true, but they have found in religion another tool to demonize the government of the day, divert attention from the government’s anti-corruption stance and create undue tension in the polity,” he added.

But reacting to Mr. Mohammed’s comments, Mr. Ayokunle said in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES that “never in the history of Nigeria had there been a leadership so biased as that of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration”.

“We have never had a government like this that is so religiously biased. If Nigeria is not moving towards Islamisation; why do we have to join the Islamic coalition against terrorism? Despite all that was said by Nigerians, this administration went ahead with that decision.

“The lopsided appointments; with almost all the security chiefs coming from one religion, as if members of the other religions cannot produce competent hands.

“When a preacher in the Federal Capital Territory was brutally murdered, what has become the outcome of that matter? The woman that was brutally murdered in Kano what has happened to that matter? Even the Attorney General of that state says the suspects have no case to answer. The killings in Agatu, Southern Kaduna, that all took place in Christian dominated communities; are we not privy to that?

“The handwriting is clearly there for all to see. They can try, but they cannot succeed,” said Mr. Ayokunle, who is also the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.

Continuing in the same vein in a statement on Tuesday by his spokesman, Adeboyo Oladeji, Mr. Ayokunle said CAN is made up of patriotic Nigerians who love the country too much to threaten its peace. He said the association only spoke out of sheer concern for what was “obvious”.

“We are disappointed but not surprised with the disparaging lies and abusive statements credited to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Ilorin during the Town hall meeting where he was accusing religious leaders of making alleged provocative statements that can lead to religious war.

“We want to boldly declare that Nigerian Christians love their country and they not only promote peace and unity but also always pray for her and the leadership. In the last one year, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has declared fasting and prayers for Nigeria and her leadership twice. If we are thirsty for a war, we wouldn’t have gone that far.

Full report at:

http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/222892-can-replies-information-minister-islamisation-claim.html

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Most refugees who enter the U.S. as religious minorities are Christians

FEBRUARY 7, 2017

A little over a third of the refugees who were admitted into the United States in fiscal 2016 (37%) were religious minorities in their home countries. Of those, 61% were Christians, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

Muslims, the next largest group, made up 22% of the religious minority refugees who were admitted to the U.S. Other, smaller world religions and Hindus made up the bulk of the remaining religious minority refugees (9% and 6%, respectively).

The analysis comes as Donald Trump’s administration has announced it will give priority to religious minorities who apply for refugee status in the U.S. Trump himself has said that Christians will be given preference.

The landscape is different when it comes to the two-thirds of refugees who entered the U.S. as religious majorities in fiscal 2016. Six-in-ten of these refugees (60%) were Muslim and 35% were Christian. Buddhists made up 6% of these refugees, coming mostly from Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan.

The U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees in 2016. Almost all came from these 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (19%), Syria (15%), Burma (15%), Iraq (12%), Somalia (11%), Bhutan (7%), Iran (4%), Afghanistan (3%), Ukraine (3%) and Eritrea (2%).

Christians are a religious majority in three of these 10 countries. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo – from which the U.S. accepted the largest number of refugees (over 16,000) in 2016 – is a predominantly Christian nation, split almost evenly between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. The vast majority (93%) of refugees accepted from that country were of these Christian denominations. Similarly, 61% of refugees coming to the U.S. from Eritrea in 2016 were Orthodox Christians, the majority religious group.

Full report at:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/07/most-refugees-who-enter-the-u-s-as-religious-minorities-are-christians/

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Somalia: Trump's Travel Ban Leaves Somali Refugees Stranded

4 FEBRUARY 2017

By Chrispin Mwakideu

Thousands of Somali refugees who were to resettle in the US have been left in despair following Trump's ban on immigration. The US president has barred nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia.

At least 100 US-bound Somali refugees are stranded in Kenya after US President Donald Trump issued a travel ban. Trump's order suspended the US entry of nearly all refugees for 120 days and prohibits citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days. On Friday evening, a US Federal judge suspended the ban nationwide but President Trump has vowed to overturn the ruling.

Salad Rage Salah, one of the Somali refugees who remains stranded at the transit center of the International Organization from Migration (IOM) in Kenya's capital Nairobi, said the ban had left him with no clue about where to turn to next. "I have no life. No hope."

Salah said he had been looking forward to travelling to the United States after being admitted as a refugee. "I wanted to be a truck driver, to provide for my family," Salah told dpa. All his travel documents and his visa were ready. He had even undergone a medical check-up. But President Donald Trump's travel ban changed everything.

The Somali national is not alone. Scores of others like him, who were preparing to fly to the US, are now crammed at the IOM transit center. They had left nearly everything behind and now they have nowhere to go.

Life as a refugee

Salah grew up in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, considered the world's largest. Dadaab currently shelters nearly 300,000 refugees, most of them from Somalia. Salah's parents fled Somalia when he was only two, after the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The 29-year-old was relocated to Kakuma, Kenya's second largest refugee camp, following the death of his parents. He was 18 at that time and dreamed of life in the US, having lived most of his life in refugee camps. In 2012, it seemed that Salah's dream had come true when he was given the go ahead to travel to the US.

On January 23, Salah left Kakuma with a suitcase weighing 25 kilograms. That is what US authorities had permitted him to bring to his new destination in Kansas. All his other belongings were left in the care of his friends at the camp.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201702070503.html

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Nigeria: Could Trump Be a Russian Agent?

7 FEBRUARY 2017

By Muhammad Al-Ghazali

I can't remember the exact day now because it happened such a long time ago. But I am certain it was in the fall of 1982 when I was still a student in the United States. Our Greek-American Professor whom I will not name for obvious reasons, had just finished mesmerizing us with his in-depth knowledge of world affairs as he always did after each class. And then, he dropped a bombshell!

He nonchalantly told the stunned class that the CIA had found a way to infiltrate the highest decision-making organ in the Soviet Union - the Politburo! In the same breath, he also predicted that Apartheid South Africa was bound to fail sooner, rather than later, even when America, along with Great Britain, still deluded the world that their policy of "constructive engagement", and not the stinging sanctions which Nigeria, and then Organization of African Unity desired, was effective and sufficient to end the white minority rule.

The Professor told us the CIA considered the penetration of the Politburo to be a matter of highest priority in America's unending war against communism. He stubbornly refused to name the American agent in the Soviet Politburo, but soon enough, a certain Mikhail Gorbachev became embroiled in a political war of attrition with Boris Yeltsin as the Soviet Union began to unravel. Gorbachev eventually became the leader of the Soviet Union.

And Gorbachev, it was, who introduced previously unheard of doctrines and slogans in the closed Soviet society. They included "Glasnost" and "Perestroika"; literally translated to mean "openness in the manner of governance", and "restructuring especially of the Soviet political system" suddenly gained currency.

The rest, as it is often said, is now history! The behemoth that was the old Soviet Union is not better than the regional power we call Russia today! The Russian republic which succeeded the Soviet Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States, still retains much of its military might but as a grand power to match the United States in global influence and prestige, I am of the strong view that it now ranks a distant third behind the United States and China. But quite incredibly, with the election of Donald Trump and his dubious America first policy, the situation could be reversed sooner, rather than later.

I have followed the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and all the shenanigans that surrounded it. Now, after reviewing some of the decisions he has taken since his inauguration, I am in no doubt that if the Russians were in position to choose a candidate of their liking to run in the elections, they wouldn't have done a better job than the gregarious GOP candidate and the reasons are legion!

The first question, of course, is to interrogate why the Russians were so intent on sabotaging Hillary Clinton in favor of Donald Trump? Why did they go the extra length to take the risks it took to leak all those email messages from Hillary Clinton's private email server as alleged?

Second, barely two weeks into his presidency, Trump has commenced the process of relaxing some sanctions imposed on Russia by previous administrations. The speed with which that has occurred has got many including members of the President's own party scratching their heads in disbelief. It is highly unusual for an American president.

Third, Rex Tillerson, Trump's appointee as Secretary of State (Foreign Minister) is very close to the Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the authorities. He was, in fact, a beneficiary of one of Russia's highest national honors.

Fourth, Trump's rhetoric throughout the campaign trail not only openly praised Russia, it was an embarrassing mockery of American foreign policy in the past 70 years. The trend has not diminished two weeks after his inauguration.

Fifth and most tellingly, a respected former agent of the British intelligence agency (MI6) Christopher Steele recently circulated a dossier which allegedly suggested that the Russians actively encouraged Trump's bid for the presidency because they are in possession of damaging intelligence on some of his unsavory activities.

Initially, Mr. Steele, who runs a London-based intelligence firm, was reportedly hired by anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Trump's ties to Russia during the battle for the party's presidential nomination. His report consists of a series of memos based on information from members of the Russian intelligence community.

It claims that Russian officials have cultivated Mr. Trump for at least five years to encourage splits within the Western alliance, and shared intelligence information with him. But most startlingly, it alleges that Russia has managed to compromise Mr. Trump and is in a position to blackmail him. There are unverified claims that Russia's FSB agency has unsavory footage of the president-elect taken during liaisons at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.

Even as the report is already in the possession of notable Republican part heavyweights in Congress, by inference, what it means is that Mr. Trump could effectively be a pawn in the hands of Moscow. His presidency could be used to compromise him at any time to advance the interests of Russia.

The big question, in the context of global tussle for control of the international world order is: are the Russians capable of all the above? The answer is a resounding YES! In the brutal contest for supremacy between the two powers, nothing is ever completely off the table!

History could be repeating itself in the opposite direction. Already, much of Mr. Trump's executive orders since he assumed office have wreaked havoc on the image and prestige of the United States in the so-called free world. America's senior is an anachronism. If Josef Stalin were alive, he couldn't have coined it better!

Similarly, the void created by Trump's xenophobic tendencies is beginning to leave a void which must be filled either way. Already, some leaders of the European Union are already toying with the idea of assuming the leadership of the free world in view of America's virtual capitulation, no thanks to Trump. The trend is set to continue.

Like I predicted in my earlier interventions, the success of Mr. Trump has energized right-wing politicians across Europe. Many have unashamedly rehashed his tactics of severe fear mongering. In a matter weeks, Jean Marie Le Pen of France will attempt to test her popularity in France. Much of what she has said on the campaign trail have mimicked Trump's slogans almost word for word. Suddenly, across the developed world, descendants of slave merchants no longer desire the presence of the wretched compatriots their ancestors exploited to build their own advanced economies.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201702070645.html

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