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Islamic World News ( 22 Jun 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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US Lawmaker Ilhan Omar Moves Resolution to Declare India an Egregious Violator of Religious Freedom; it is Co-Sponsored by Rashida Tlaib, Jim McGovern and Juan Vargas

New Age Islam News Bureau

23 June 2022

 

 US Lawmaker Ilhan Omar

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• Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, Secretly Planning To Grant Israelis Property Rights in Holy Mecca, Medina

• Pakistan Shia, Sunni Muslims Protests against Blasphemy about Hazrat Sakina Bint Al Hussain; Accused Currently Lives in UAE

• Court Challenge Puts Spotlight on Sharia Law in Nigeria Whose Constitution Is Neutral on Religion

• Kerala Muslim Groups Intensify Campaign against Gender Politics, Homosexuality

 

North America

• Biden likely to push for Israel-Saudi normalization during Mideast trip: Report

• Biden orders USAID, federal agencies to help those affected by earthquake in Afghanistan

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Arab World

• Crown Prince of Kuwait Dissolves Parliament, Calls for National Vote

• Horrific videos of employer assaulting workers in Lebanon sparks fury

• Nine shot dead in Iraq tribal clashes: Police

• Saudi Arabia and Turkey hail new era of cooperation after Crown Prince visit

• Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Jordan’s King Abdullah discuss bolstering ties

• MBS secretly planning to grant Israelis property rights in Mecca, Medina: Report

• Sadr: Iran neither meddled in Iraqi politics nor put pressure on any Shia party

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Pakistan

• Chinese banks to provide $2.3 billion to Pakistan 'within days' under loan agreement

• Pakistan trapped in vicious cycle of taking loans to pay back previous loans

• China installs over 500 surveillance cameras in Gwadar city of Pakistan

• Pakistan: Arrest killers of our party activist, says Jamaat-e-Islami chief

• Afghan Christians find new hope in Pakistan

• PM Shehbaz orders provision of all facilities to Bahraini investors

• Hina Khar to represent Pakistan at CHOGM in Rwanda

• Relief goods being dispatched for Afghan earthquake victims: Marriyum

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Africa

• Gambia: Pipeline Mosque Foundation Presents 700 Bed Sheets to 7 Hospitals in Gambia

• Somali children starving ‘before our eyes’ as Western aid falters: Charities

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India

• RSS Trying To Woo Muslims through Muslim Rashtriya Manch in Telangana

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South Asia

• Survivors Dig by Hand after Afghanistan Earthquake That Killed 1,000 People

• Taliban Urge US to Unfreeze Afghanistan's Assets after Quake

• OIC SG’s special envoy for Afghanistan meets Muttaqi

• Deadly quake spells disaster for 'isolated' Afghanistan

• Earthquake Death Toll Soars As Rescue Teams Search for Victims Buried Under the Ground and Destroyed Houses

• Iran Shares Afghanistan’s Grief over the Deadly Earthquake and is Prepared to Aid the Victims

• The Taliban Allocates 1 Billion Afghanis to the Victims of Earthquake in South-East Afghanistan

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Southeast Asia

• Chinese National of Singapore Sentenced To 18 Months' Probation for Making Anti-Islam Remarks on Instagram

• Along With Smoking and Vape, Ban Other 'Bad' Habits Too, Says Muslim Group

• Employ us, we can help solve labour shortage, say frustrated refugees

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Mideast

• 1,200-Year-Old Mosque Uncovered In Palestinian Village in Israel

• Iranian Leader’s Advisor: Islamic Revolution Major Obstacle to US, Israeli Plots in Region

• Tehran Foils Mossad’s Assassination Plot against Iranian Nuclear Scientists

• Russia's Lavrov arrives in Iran to discuss nuclear deal, cooperation

• Palestinians grant bail to accused killers of prominent activist Nizar Banat

• Iran movie feted by Cannes critics banned at home

• Israeli premier stresses importance of 'security stability' amid political chaos

• Netanyahu in poll lead as Israel heads for new election

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Europe

• Catastrophic Earthquake in Afghanistan Prompts Pope Francis to Pray for the Victims

• Dialogue channels with Türkiye should always be kept open: Greek opposition leader

• NATO chief acknowledges Türkiye’s ‘very important work’ to open corridor for Ukrainian grain

• NATO chief discusses Türkiye’s security concerns with Swedish premier

• UN says Turkey likely best to send rescue teams to Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/us-lawmaker-ilhan-omar-religious-freedom-india/d/127306

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US Lawmaker Ilhan Omar Moves Resolution to Declare India an Egregious Violator of Religious Freedom; it is Co-Sponsored by Rashida Tlaib, Jim McGovern and Juan Vargas

 

US Lawmaker Ilhan Omar

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Press Trust of India

June 23, 2022

Washington: Continuing with her anti-India tirade, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has introduced a resolution that calls the US Secretary of State to designate India as a country of particular concern for alleged violation of religious freedom.

Co-sponsored by Congresswoman Rashida Talib and Congresswoman Juan Vargas, the resolution urges the Biden Administration to implement the recommendations of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom which has called for designating India as a country of particular concern for three consecutive years.

Introduced in the House of Representative on Tuesday, the resolution has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

A resolution like this is very unlikely to see the light of the day, given the vindictive approach being adopted by Congresswoman Omar. She has openly sided with Pakistani officials on the issue of India.

Omar, who visited Pakistan in last April and met top Pak leaders including the former Prime Minister Imran Khan and travelled to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), is yet to disclose the nature including the funding for the visit.

India had condemned the US Congresswoman's visit to the PoK, saying her travel to the region violated the country's sovereignty and it reflected her "narrow-minded" politics.

"If such a politician wishes to practice her narrow-minded politics at home, that may be her business. But violating our territorial integrity and sovereignty in its pursuit makes it ours. This visit is condemnable," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said.

During several Congressional hearings related to India, Omar has repeatedly shown her bias against India.

The news about the resolution was first reported, in advance, by a senior official from Imran Khan's party, which also slammed a senior State Department official.

Omar's resolution condemns alleged human rights violations and violations of international religious freedom in India, including those "targeting" Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Adivasis, and other religious and cultural minorities. It expressed grave concern about the "worsening treatment" of religious minorities in India.

Source: Firstpost

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.firstpost.com/world/us-congresswoman-ilhan-omar-introduces-anti-india-resolution-in-house-10825971.html

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Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, Secretly Planning To Grant Israelis Property Rights in Holy Mecca, Medina

 

Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman

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June 23, 2022

Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) has been secretly pursuing plans to legalize the ownership of property by Israelis in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, a report citing Saudi sources has revealed.

According to Saudi Leaks, the unnamed sources said MBS has completely opened the door to normalization of relations with the Israeli regime by approving Israeli settlers’ ownership of property in the two cities.

Non-Saudis, other than by way of inheritance, do not have the right to ownership, easement, or benefit of real estate situated within the boundaries of Mecca and Medina, home to Islam's two holiest shrines.

Saudi Leaks said the plan to give Saudi land to Israelis is reminiscent of the tragedy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“Among the most dangerous roles MBS plays is his openness to Zionists, and granting them many privileges such as allowing the presence of a ‘key rabbi in the kingdom,’ the Zionist businessmen’s investments there, the Tiran Agreement, and allowing the occupation regime’s airplanes to desecrate the kingdom’s airspace,” the report stated, citing sources.

The reference was about a Saudi request from Israel about finalizing the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir, two strategic islands at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, from Egyptian to Saudi sovereignty.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported last month that Israel was considering the Saudi request to change the international status of two disputed islands.

According to Saudi and Egyptian officials, Riyadh in 1950 gave Egypt control of Tiran and Sanafir.

However, under a 1979 Israeli-Egyptian so-called peace treaty, the two islands must be a demilitarized zone and have the presence of a force of multinational observers led by the United States.

Meanwhile, recent reports suggest that Saudi Arabia is moving in the same direction as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, the four Arab countries that normalized their relations with Israel under US-brokered deals.

However, the kingdom has so far stopped short of officially normalizing with Israel due to fear of backlash at home.

The normalization deals have been a “stab in the back” for the Palestinians, exposing an increasing level of apathy on the part of those Muslim-majority countries toward the Palestinian people’s sufferings.

Late last month, Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said the Tel Aviv regime is coordinating with the United States and Persian Gulf nations on a process to normalize and establish full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

“We believe that it is possible to have a normalization process with Saudi Arabia. It’s in our interest,” Lapid was quoted as saying by Army Radio on May 30.

“We’ve already said that this is the next step after the [so-called] Abraham Accords to talk about a long and careful process.”

He also said that the process of normalization with Riyadh would be a lengthy one with progress coming in small steps, asserting that both sides have security interests at stake.

Source: ABNA24

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://en.abna24.com/news//wicked-saudi-crown-prince-secretly-planning-to-grant-israelis-property-rights-in-holy-mecca-medina_1269151.html

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Pakistan Shia, Sunni Muslims Protests against Blasphemy about Hazrat Sakina Bint Al Hussain; Accused Currently Lives in UAE

 

Hundreds of People gathered belonging to the Shia and Sunni communities at Islamabad Press Club, on Sunday, to protest against Malaoon Sultan Gul, a resident of Kurram District KP...

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June 22, 2022

Hundreds of People gathered belonging to the Shia and Sunni communities at Islamabad Press Club, on Sunday, to protest against Malaoon Sultan Gul, a resident of Kurram District KP, who uttered rubbish against the beloved daughter of Imam Hussain (AS) named Hazrat Sakina (S). They also marched up to the China Chowk to demand the immediate arrest of the accused.

On this occasion, speakers of the protest said that any imprudent remarks against the dignity of the Holy family of the Prophet PBUH were tantamount to blasphemy of Islam.

The accused is currently abode in UAE, therefore he must be arrested through Interpol and punished accordingly to calm the resentment of the lovers of Ahle Bait (AS).

They added that a few Takfiri culprits invite unrest to their beloved homeland. If anyone commits blasphemy for Ahle Bait (AS) express enmity for Islam and the State of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Such elements try to fuel sectarianism and any leniency with them will be enmity with the nation and the country.

Allama Zaheer Al Hasan Karbalai, Allama Sibtain Hussaini, Allama Murtaza Alavi, Shabbir Sajidi, MPA Iqbal Mian, and others addressed the protest.

Source: ABNA24

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://en.abna24.com/news//pakistan-shia-sunni-muslims-protests-against-blasphemy-about-hazrat-sakina-bint-al-hussain_1268902.html

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Court Challenge Puts Spotlight on Sharia Law in Nigeria Whose Constitution Is Neutral on Religion

 

Sharia Law in Nigeria

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June 23, 2022

KANO/LAGOS, June 23 (Reuters) - A Nigerian court on Thursday will hear a challenge against sharia law in the mostly Muslim northern state of Kano, in a case that is set to reignite debate on the place of religious laws in a country whose constitution is neutral on religion.

Nigeria is divided between the largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north. Kano is one of the foremost states that enforces sharia or Islamic religious law, including the death penalty against blasphemy.

In 2020, a 22-year-old singer, Yahaya Aminu Sharif, was sentenced to death while a teenager was jailed for 10 years by Kano Sharia Court over accusations of blasphemy. The ruling drew international outcry and the secular branch of the state's high court freed the teenager but ordered a retrial for Sharif.

Sharif, who is in custody, wants the Appeal Court to declare the sharia penal code unconstitutional and set him free, court documents seen by Reuters showed. A judgment will be delivered within three months.

"A circular country such as ours has specified that the state should not be found promoting one religion above another. Clearly, the sharia law as being practised jeopardises that," Kola Alapinni, the lawyer representing Sharif, told Reuters.

Sharif is being held in a prison outside Kano for his safety, Alapinni said, adding that the singer would not attend the appeal hearing to "avoid inflaming the situation."

Protesters in Kano destroyed Sharif's home last year, forcing his family to flee.

The Kano state government is opposing the appeal, arguing that sharia law does not violate the constitution, a view held by many in northern Nigeria.

"As a Muslim, I support the sharia penal code, and it is mandatory for us to support it ... it will not harm anyone," said Abdulwahab Abdallah, a local sheikh.

Religious tensions in the country of over 200 million people are common and often turn violent as some resort to mob rule.

That was the case with a female college student in northwestern Sokoto state who was last month stoned and burned to death by fellow students who accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammad on WhatsApp. read more

More than 30 lawyers lined up in court to defend two men who were linked to the student's death. In contrast, Sharif was tried without legal representation because no lawyer in Kano would take up his case, fearing public backlash, said Alapinni, a human rights lawyer from Abuja.

Some religious scholars in Nigeria said sharia should be maintained but could be limited to dealing with personal matters like marriage and divorce, inheritance and custody of children and not capital punishment.

Source: Reuters

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/court-challenge-puts-spotlight-sharia-law-nigeria-2022-06-23/?rpc=401&

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Kerala Muslim Groups Intensify Campaign against Gender Politics, Homosexuality

 

Image for representation. (Photo | Pushkar V)

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23rd June 2022

By MP Prashanth

KOZHIKODE: Social media activist Ashkar Lessirey’s face turned red when he received an Amazon India dispatch, which carried the colour of the flag of the LGBTQ community on the wrapper. An enraged Ashkar took to the Facebook to post: “Dear Amazon India, you can have all the politics you want. Just don’t shove it down the throats of your customers.”

Ashkar’s angry reaction epitomises the sentiments of some of the Muslim organisations in Kerala that have launched a campaign against homosexuality and gender politics. Popular Front of India (PFI) leader and academic Dr Ashraf Kalpetta wrote a book ‘Homosexuality and Gender Politics’, Jama’at-e-Islami women’s wing organised a talk on the issue at Kannur on June 15 and Renai TV -- under the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM) -- held a programme online on ‘Unknown Aspects of Gender Politics.’

PFI state president C P Muhammad Basheer and treasurer K H Nazar were present during the release of Dr Ashraf’s book.

“The Muslim community in Kerala is increasingly becoming aware of the dangers behind the issue. My opposition to the LBGTQ issue is political. It sexualises even infants and has become a huge lobbying force. Those who speak against the group are bullied and threatened,” Ashkar said. In the preface to Dr Ashraf’s book, Salafi preacher MM Akbar said gender politics has started engulfing Kerala too.

Akbar added that even communism is propagating the ideology of liberalism, and its feeder organisations are moulding the youth along these lines. (Akbar was indirectly referring to SFI’s campaign celebrating homosexuality.)

In the Renai TV programme, participants Muhammad Ameer, Nasim Rehman and Abdul Muhsin felt there is a conscious effort to project the queer community as a persecuted lot. Homosexuality is being normalised and is portrayed just as the desire of one person, Nasim Rehman said. The participants claimed there is heavy opposition from teachers too when they propagate the Quranic verses against homosexuality. However, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of PFI, said the party is for the rights of the sexual minorities.

Source: New Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2022/jun/23/kerala-muslim-groups-intensifycampaign-against-gender-politics-homosexuality-2468582.html

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North America

 

Biden likely to push for Israel-Saudi normalization during Mideast trip: Report

23 June 2022

US President Joe Biden will reportedly push for a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime during his upcoming tour of the Middle East.

Biden’s Middle East trip, slated for mid-July, includes a visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he is expected to meet Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Salman, widely known as MBS.

Biden administration officials are currently working on a normalization “roadmap” for Saudi Arabia and Israel, Axios, an American news website, reported, citing four US sources briefed on the issue.

Biden is also scheduled to visit the Israeli occupied territories during his trip. Earlier, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said that integrating the regime into the region was the main goal of Biden’s upcoming visit, hoping that potential normalization with Saudi Arabia will boost the occupying entity’s “standing” in the region.

The US president had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the kingdom’s human rights record and the gruesome murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, which was ordered by MBS.

Biden apparently seeks to carry on with his predecessor Donald Trump so-called Abraham Accords, which led to normalization of ties between Israel and four Arab countries namely Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Sudan.

During a White House briefing held last week with think thank experts about Biden’s trip to the region, the theme of a “roadmap for normalization” was put forward without further elaboration, Axios said.

The report added, “The White House said during the briefing that there will not be an agreement before Biden's visit, but they are working on it and the president will discuss it with Israeli and Saudi leaders during the trip.”

The report, however, cited unnamed sources as saying that it appears the White House thinks that normalization will take time and will be a long-term process and described the strategy as “a step-by-step approach.”

On that, a senior Israeli official said he does not expect a breakthrough regarding normalization with Saudi Arabia during Biden’s trip, but stressed that an agreement to allow Israeli airlines to use Saudi airspace for flights to India and China is very close.

In highly controversial comments earlier this year, MBS said that Saudi Arabia does not view Israel as an enemy, but as an ally who can pursue many interests together. However, he said “some issues must be resolved before we can reach that,” Bloomberg reported, citing the official Saudi Press Agency.

Meanwhile, the Axios report said that the White House plans for the US president to discuss a vision for an “integrated missile defense and naval defense” program among the US, Israel, and several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh and Tel Aviv have no diplomatic ties on the surface, but the two regimes have long been in contact and cooperation clandestinely.

Saudi Arabia publicly affirms that it supports the Palestinian cause against Israeli occupation, claiming that it will not recognize Israel or normalize relations with the regime as long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/23/684385/Biden-s-trip-to-Middle-East-likely-to-tighten-Saudi-Israeli-ties-report

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Biden orders USAID, federal agencies to help those affected by earthquake in Afghanistan

Servet Gunerigok  

22.06.2022

WASHINGTON

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday ordered the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies to help those affected by an earthquake in eastern Afghanistan.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US is "deeply saddened to see the devastating earthquake" that killed more than 1,000 people.

"President Biden is monitoring developments and has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess U.S. response options to help those most affected," said Sullivan.

"We are committed to continuing our support for the needs of the Afghan people as we stand with them during and in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy," he added.

Nearly 1,600 people were injured when the tremor hit Paktika province, according to authorities. The death toll is feared to rise.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/biden-orders-usaid-federal-agencies-to-help-those-affected-by-earthquake-in-afghanistan/2620302

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Arab World

 

Crown prince of Kuwait dissolves parliament, calls for national vote

June 22, 2022

DUBAI: Kuwait’s Crown Prince has dissolved the parliament and called for new elections over the coming months, he said in a televised speech on Wednesday.

Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said: “We have decided to dissolve the National Assembly constitutionally and resort to elections.”

“We will not interfere in the elections nor in the selection of the next Speaker of the parliament,” he added.

The crown prince noted that the next phase requires a solid and renewed approach amid the turbulent regional political scene.

“Our citizens are not satisfied with the work of the legislative and executive institutions,” he said, citing growing tensions between both parties in “hampering” the country’s development and nation’s unity.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2108611/middle-east

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Horrific videos of employer assaulting workers in Lebanon sparks fury

23 June, 2022

Videos showing a group of Lebanese and Syrian workers being assaulted and tortured by their employer in the Lebanese town of Majdel al-Aqoura sparked fury on Wednesday, according to local media reports.

The employer accused the cherry-picking workers of stealing a watch and sunglasses from him, charges which they denied.

In one of the videos seen by Al Arabiya English, the employer slaps the workers – some of whom have been stripped of their clothes.

According to An-Nahar, the employer and other men also assaulted the workers with sharp objects and electric wires. They also stuffed the young workers’ mouths with potatoes.

Videos of the incident stirred an uproar on social media with people demanding security forces launch an investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.

The general directorate of the internal security forces issued a statement on Wednesday saying that on June 20, a man filed a complaint stipulating that several people who work for him stole 20 million Lebanese liras from him, the equivalent of about $700 using the unofficial rate.

The statement identified the man as the employer who assaulted the workers, adding that an investigation has been initiated into the incident and the employer has been summoned to give in a statement.

The municipality of Fneidik in the governorate of Akkar where some of the workers live issued a statement describing the incident as a “heinous crime,” adding that the employer falsely accused them of theft because he did not want to pay them their wages.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/23/Horrific-videos-of-employer-assaulting-workers-in-Lebanon-sparks-fury

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Nine shot dead in Iraq tribal clashes: Police

22 June, 2022

Nine people were shot dead in Iraq on Wednesday during two separate incidents involving tribal clashes that saw a soldier killed in the south of the country, police said.

Six people, including the soldier, were killed during a clash between two tribes sparked by a dispute over agricultural land, said Saad al-Zaidi, police spokesman for the area.

The violence in al-Uzair district, south of Amarah in the southeastern province of Maysan, lasted several hours, Zaidi told AFP.

The soldier was from one of the two tribes and had been “on leave when the conflict broke out because of disputes over farmland,” he added.

Despite beefed up security measures, Maysan province, which borders Iran, is a route for drug traffickers where tribal rivalry often degenerates into violence.

In May, eight people were killed in the same region when clashes between members of the same tribe broke out over farmland.

Further north, in Wasit province, an armed clash between members of the same tribe left three people dead and three others wounded, said Ali Hussein al-Sarai of the local police force.

The violence, which took place in the town of al-Dubuni, broke out over a dispute between two sides over the right to marry a young woman, he said.

Millions of people belong to tribes in Iraq, which are marked by strong patriarchy.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/22/Nine-shot-dead-in-Iraq-tribal-clashes-Police

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Saudi Arabia and Turkey hail new era of cooperation after Crown Prince visit

23 June, 2022

Saudi Arabia and Turkey declared on Wednesday their determination to launch a “new era of cooperation” at the end of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Crown Prince agreed with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to work toward closer ties in several fields including economy, energy and defense, state news agency SPA reported citing a joint statement.

The two leaders discussed in Ankara “their common determination to enhance cooperation in the bilateral relations between the two countries including in the political, economic, military, security and cultural fields.”

“The two sides also expressed their aspiration to cooperate in the fields of energy, including petroleum, refining and petrochemicals, energy efficiency, electricity, renewable energy, innovation and clean technologies for hydrocarbon resources, low-carbon fuels and hydrogen, and to work on localizing energy sector products and associated supply chains, and developing projects related to these fields,” SPA reported.

“The two parties affirmed their endeavour to intensify cooperation, coordination and exchanging of views on important issues in the regional and international arenas, in a way that contributes to supporting and strengthening security and stability in the region and support for political solutions to all crises in the countries of the region.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/06/23/Saudi-Arabia-and-Turkey-hail-new-era-of-cooperation-after-Crown-Prince-visit

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Jordan’s King Abdullah discuss bolstering ties

22 June, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Jordan’s King Abdullah II held extensive talks in Amman, mainly focusing on regional developments and bolstering ties, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.

During his visit to Amman, the Crown Prince discussed means to strengthen bilateral ties toward serving mutual interests and enhancing economic cooperation as well as diversifying investments in various fields, including tourism, agriculture and healthcare.

Jordan voiced its appreciation for the Kingdom’s support of developmental projects, mainly in transportation and energy, highlighting the significance of Saudi investments in expanding various sectors in Jordan.

During their discussions, both parties also said they look forward to enhancing cooperation in the field of clean energy and voiced the importance of exchanging expertise in projects on renewable energy.

The Crown Prince and King Abdullah also discussed regional and international affairs, such as the Palestinian cause and developments in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

On Palestine, both reaffirmed that a two-state solution is the only way to achieve comprehensive peace and noted that Israel must cease all unlawful practices that undermine this solution.

On Iraq, the Crown Prince and King Abdullah noted that Iraq’s stability is essential for the region’s stability and voiced hope that Iraqi parties reach a consensus on forming a cabinet that meets the aspirations of the Iraqi people.

Turning to Yemen, Jordan reiterated its condemnation of the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s attacks which target civilians and vital facilities in the Kingdom, adding that it fully supported any measures the Kingdom takes to protect its security, stability and interest.

The Crown Prince and King Abdullah also said, “Jordan’s and Saudi Arabia’s security is one.”

As for Syria, they called for intensifying efforts to reach a political solution to end the crisis and restore security and stability.

On Lebanon, the Crown Prince and King Abdullah voiced the importance of carrying out comprehensive reforms to help the country overcome its current crisis, adding that Hezbollah must commit to not interfering in Arab countries’ internal affairs.

On Iran, both reiterated their support of international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/06/22/Saudi-Arabia-s-Crown-Prince-Jordan-s-King-Abdullah-discuss-bolstering-ties

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MBS secretly planning to grant Israelis property rights in Mecca, Medina: Report

22 June 2022

Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) has been secretly pursuing plans to legalize the ownership of property by Israelis in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, a report citing Saudi sources has revealed.

According to Saudi Leaks, the unnamed sources said MBS has completely opened the door to normalization of relations with the Israeli regime by approving Israeli settlers’ ownership of property in the two cities.

Non-Saudis, other than by way of inheritance, do not have the right to ownership, easement, or benefit of real estate situated within the boundaries of Mecca and Medina, home to Islam's two holiest shrines.

Saudi Leaks said the plan to give Saudi land to Israelis is reminiscent of the tragedy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“Among the most dangerous roles MBS plays is his openness to Zionists, and granting them many privileges such as allowing the presence of a ‘key rabbi in the kingdom,’ the Zionist businessmen’s investments there, the Tiran Agreement, and allowing the occupation regime’s airplanes to desecrate the kingdom’s airspace,” the report stated, citing sources.

The reference was about a Saudi request from Israel about finalizing the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir, two strategic islands at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, from Egyptian to Saudi sovereignty.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported last month that Israel was considering the Saudi request to change the international status of two disputed islands.

According to Saudi and Egyptian officials, Riyadh in 1950 gave Egypt control of Tiran and Sanafir.

However, under a 1979 Israeli-Egyptian so-called peace treaty, the two islands must be a demilitarized zone and have the presence of a force of multinational observers led by the United States.

Meanwhile, recent reports suggest that Saudi Arabia is moving in the same direction as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, the four Arab countries that normalized their relations with Israel under US-brokered deals.

However, the kingdom has so far stopped short of officially normalizing with Israel due to fear of backlash at home.

The normalization deals have been a “stab in the back” for the Palestinians, exposing an increasing level of apathy on the part of those Muslim-majority countries toward the Palestinian people’s sufferings.

Late last month, Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said the Tel Aviv regime is coordinating with the United States and Persian Gulf nations on a process to normalize and establish full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

“We believe that it is possible to have a normalization process with Saudi Arabia. It’s in our interest,” Lapid was quoted as saying by Army Radio on May 30.

“We’ve already said that this is the next step after the [so-called] Abraham Accords to talk about a long and careful process.”

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/22/684367/MBS-secretly-planning-grant-Israelis-ownership-rights

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Sadr: Iran neither meddled in Iraqi politics nor put pressure on any Shia party

22 June 2022

Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday said the Islamic Republic of Iran has never meddled in the internal political affairs of Iraq and has not put pressure on any Shia group in the Arab country, dismissing insinuations fanned by rabble-rousers.

According to a report published by the official Iraqi News Agency, the 47-year-old leader of the Sadrist political party stressed that Tehran has never imposed anything on any Shia group in the neighboring country.

He rejected “false” and “untrue” claims that his party members withdrew from Iraq's Council of Representatives under threat from Iran.

On June 11, lawmakers loyal to Sadr resigned from the Iraqi parliament in order to break a political deadlock that has prevented the establishment of a new government nearly eight months after last parliamentary elections.

The Iraqi News Agency reported at the time that members of the movement handed in their resignations in al-Hannana, the headquarters of the political party in the holy city of Najaf.

Earlier, Sadr had called on all lawmakers loyal to him to “pen down their resignation,” stressing that they "won’t disobey me.”

“The country’s reform will only take place with a national majority government,” he said in a televised statement on Thursday. “If the survival of the Sadr bloc is an obstacle to the formation of the government, then all representatives of the bloc are ready to resign from parliament.”

“Iraq needs a government backed by a majority that serves the people,” the prominent cleric said.

In the parliamentary elections held last October to elect the 329 members of the Council of Representatives, the Sadrist political bloc secured most seats -- 73.

The Fatah (Conquest) Alliance – the political arm of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) -- won 17 seats, down from 48 it had won in the previous election.

Despite Sadr’s impressive show in the election, Iraqi law requires a super-majority, namely two-thirds of the vote, to elect a president.

According to Iraq's electoral law, when a member of the parliament resigns, the electoral commission replaces him with the candidate who is placed second in the same electoral circle.

The Iraqi parliamentary elections held in October last year were the fifth since the US-led invasion of the Arab country in 2003.

They were originally planned to be held in 2022, but the date was preponed in the wake of mass protest movement that broke out in 2019 to call for economic reforms, better public services, and an effective fight against unemployment and corruption in state institutions.

The Sadr movement had formed an alliance with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Masoud Barzani, and other parties to form a coalition.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/22/684357/Sadr--Iran-has-not-interfered-in-Iraqi-politics,-has-not-put-any-pressure-on-any-Shia-party%E2%80%99

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Pakistan

 

Chinese banks to provide $2.3 billion to Pakistan 'within days' under loan agreement

Jun 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: To cope up with country's dwindling cash reserves, loan of $2.3 billion from a Chinese consortium of banks to Pakistan is expected within a "couple of days".

Notably, a Chinese consortium of banks and Pakistan had signed a $2.3 billion loan facility agreement earlier. In a latest update on the agreement, on Wednesday, Pakistan's finance minister Miftah Ismail said that cash inflow under the loan agreement is expected within days, reported Pakistan's local media outlet Dawn.

Taking to Twitter, Ismail wrote, "The Chinese consortium of banks has today signed the RMB 15 billion (~$2.3 billion) loan facility agreement after it was signed by the Pakistani side yesterday. Inflow is expected within a couple of days. We thank the Chinese government for facilitating this transaction."

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari wrote on social media, "Grateful to President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the people of China. Chinese consortium of banks has today signed the RMB 15 billion loan facility agreement, the people of Pakistan are grateful for the continued support of our all-weather friends."

Pakistan is in a deep financial crisis and this development comes after reports emerged of Pakistan reaching an understanding with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as per the media outlet.

Ismail said that after a visit by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and follow-up discussions by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the Chinese side had not only agreed to roll over the amount but also done so at a cheaper interest rate of 1.5pc plus Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (Shibor) instead of earlier 2.5pc plus Shibor.

However, In Wednesday's announcement, Ismail did not elaborate further on the agreement with the consortium.

This loan agreement between China and Pakistan also comes amid reports that Pakistan is blindly following Sri Lanka's path which will lead the country to fall into the Chinese debt trap. Pakistan's already fragile economy suffered another setback when recently China demanded repayment, by November 2023, of $55.6 million for the Lahore Orange Line Project, reported Italian publication Osservatorio Globalizzazione.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/chinese-banks-to-provide-2-3-billion-to-pakistan-within-days-under-loan-agreement/articleshow/92404433.cms

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Pakistan trapped in vicious cycle of taking loans to pay back previous loans

Jun 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani columnist has raised questions to the country's "incompetent and failed rulers" asking them how they will solve the economic problems at a time when the country is trapped in a vicious cycle of taking loans to pay back the previous loans.Ayaz Amir, while writing for Pakistan's local media outlet Dunya Daily said, "We have seen the rules of Ayub Khan (Former President of Pakistan), Yahiya Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. We have seen the governments of dictators and they all had one thing in common, take loans to solve the problems and then take more loans to pay back the previous loan."

He said that this never-ending cycle is still going on and now Pakistan has reached a point when nobody is willing to give the country any further loans. "We could not solve the economic problems of our country when the population was 11 crores during the regime of Zia ul Haq. How our incompetent and failed rulers are going to improve the economy when the population has doubled to 22 crores?" he questioned in his column piece, reported local media.

Meanwhile, China has made a hard bargain with Pakistan when it comes to paybacks on its loans and other investments in Pakistan. In the fiscal year 2021-2022, Pakistan paid around USD 150 million towards interest to China for using a USD 4.5 billion Chinese trade finance facility. In the financial year 2019-2020, Pakistan paid USD 120 million towards interest on USD 3 billion in loans.

China has been quite stringent in recovering money from Pakistan. Take Pakistan's energy sector for instance, where Chinese investors have repeatedly insisted on resolving issues relating to existing project sponsors in order to attract fresh investment.

Some Chinese projects in Pakistan are facing problems in securing insurance for their loans in China due to Pakistan's massive energy sector circular debt of about USD14 billion.

While China is heavily responsible for Pakistan's debt problem, it is the mishandling of Pakistan's economy by successive governments that have led to the current impasse.

Extensive loans taken from China, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as 13 loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over 30 years (with most loan programmes called off mid-way for failure to fulfil loan conditions), are a major cause of the economic downturn.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-trapped-in-vicious-cycle-of-taking-loans-to-pay-back-previous-loans/articleshow/92402654.cms

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China installs over 500 surveillance cameras in Gwadar city of Pakistan

22 June, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 22 (ANI): China, the all-weather ally of Pakistan, is installing over 500 surveillance cameras in Gwadar city, fuelling speculations that it was never meant to be a port for trade. It is built like a naval base.

Meanwhile, the ex-CM of Balochistan revealed that many people are being forcibly shifted from Gwadar to accommodate a fenced community project for the Chinese companies.

The information was divulged by WLVN Analysis, geopolitics, defence, national security, wars and aviation think tank.

Chinese firms are enjoying the lion’s share of benefits from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its ill effect is directly affecting the local people of Pakistan.

As per Islam Khabar, Pakistan is also landing in the debt trap of its “all-weather friend” China.

Moreover, it’s also speculated that in 3-5 years the world will see clashes between Chinese and Pakistani forces on a regular basis. The growing presence of Chinese citizens in Pakistan with the right to carry weapons for self-defence and also presence Chinese military is a case in point. Pakistan will have to deal with 250,000+ armed Chinese citizens in future.

The economic crisis in Pakistan appeared grimmer after more than two dozen Chinese firms or Independent Power Producers (IPPs) threatened to cease operations at power plants on May 9, if payments are not made upfront, media reports said.

Reportedly, Pakistan has to pay more than Rs 300 billion Pakistani rupees (USD 1.59 billion) in dues to several Chinese firms, which are operating in Pakistan.

There are more than 30 Chinese companies which are operating under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in several infrastructural projects in various fields like energy, communication, railways, roads and highways – across Pakistan to facilitate trade connectivity.

There was a myriad complaint from the Chinese side, including those relating to complex visa procedures for Chinese executives, heavy taxation and so on.

About 25 representatives from Chinese independent power producers (IPPs) spoke one after the other and complained about the buildup of their accruing dues and warned that without upfront payments they would shut down within days, reported Islam Khabar.

In March 2022, with China threatening to halt the multi-billion-dollar CPEC over differences in cost estimations and contractual disputes, the issue of overdue payments owed to Chinese independent power producers (IPPs) is near a breaking point.

Reports claimed that Beijing was reluctant to pump in new funds under the CPEC arrangement until difficulties faced by Chinese investors are resolved and previous CPEC-related agreements are fully honoured by Pakistan.

Beijing has voiced its concerns about the non-payment of power dues for some time, including at the highest level during Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing in 2022.

Geopolitical issues in Pakistan are also propped up, as the Baloch insurgency poses a constant threat to peace and stability. The Baloch insurgents are regularly targeting CPEC infrastructure projects, such as gas pipelines and electricity towers, because they consider China as an imperialist power that, along with the Pakistan government, wishes to plunder Balochistan’s natural resources.

China is surely facing a tough situation in Pakistan. There may have been no departure of Chinese workers from Pakistan after the Karachi University attack, but they look less confident about the country’s ability to protect them.

The CPEC project was started in the year 2015. In April 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Islamabad to inaugurate the CPEC, a US USD 46 billion investment in Pakistan’s energy and transportation sectors. As part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, CPEC was planned to endorse regional linkages among Pakistan, China, and Eurasia.

The two sides set up the “1+4” cooperation model, meaning the two sides take CPEC as the core while prioritizing Gwadar, Energy, Transport Infrastructure and Industrial Cooperation.

The Chinese side of the CPEC vision is to further advance the western development strategy, encourage economic and social development in Western China, quicken the Belt and Road construction, make way for China’s advantages in capital, technology, production capacity and engineering operation, and help the formation of a new open economic system friendly to China.

On the other hand, the Pakistani side vision is to fully harness the demographic and natural endowment of the country by advancing its industrial capacity through the formation of new industrial clusters, complementing the regional socio-economic growth, enhancing people’s happiness, and sponsoring domestic peace and stability.

However, only three schemes have been declared completed by the CPEC Authority, including USD 4 million Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan. The other two schemes are the Physical Infrastructure of Gwadar Port and the Free Zone Phase-1 costing USD 300 million and the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute which has been built with a USD 10 million Chinese grant.

Keeping the slow pace of various projects and other challenges, it can be said that, CPEC is improbable to ever accomplish the aspirations that Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif envisioned in 2015, reported Islam Khabar.

Pakistan had big hope since beginning with this mammoth multi-pronged investment under CPEC but it must have approached it with great caution. Pakistan should be an equal partner rather than giving China a free hand and be allowed to monopolize its energy sector.

Source: The Print

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/world/china-installs-over-500-surveillance-cameras-in-gwadar-city-of-pakistan/1007442/

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Pakistan: Arrest killers of our party activist, says Jamaat-e-Islami chief

22 June, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 22 (ANI): Pakistan political party Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) chief, Sirajul Haq has called for the immediate arrest of the killers of its activist, Asadullah Shah and his companions, local media reported.

During a phone call with Chief Secretary and Inspector General Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday, the JI chief said that his party will not remain silent on the killing of Shah who was the President of Al-khidmat Foundation North Waziristan, Daily Frontier Star reported.

On Sunday, Shah and at least four volunteers of a social organisation were killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire at their car in Pakistan’s North Waziristan district on Sunday, local media reported.

District Police and residents said that unidentified men on two motorcycles opened fire on a moving car in the Haiderkhel area of Mirali tehsil, Dawn reported.

All the deceased activists were part of a social organisation, the Youth of Waziristan. They all have been identified as Waqar Ahmad Dawar, Sunaid Ahmad Dawar, Aamad Dawar and Assadullah.

The youth organisation, formed after the launch of military operation Zarb-i-Azb, has worked for the restoration of peace in the militancy-hit region. The organisation has also staged a protest and sit-in against target killings, reported Dawn.

About two years ago security agencies took action against a sit-in organised by the Youth of Waziristan and arrested its founding president, Noor Islam Dawar.

Meanwhile, another case has been registered in Mirali town in North Waziristan, where bullet-riddled bodies of two people, who were kidnapped from a market, were found near the Tochi river, also called the Gambila River on Sunday.

Source: The Print

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://theprint.in/world/pakistan-arrest-killers-of-our-party-actvist-says-jamaat-e-islami-chief/1008131/

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Afghan Christians find new hope in Pakistan

By Kamran Chaudhry

June 23, 2022

Three days before the Taliban seized control of Kabul, Arifa Rahimi received a threatening phone call. “You have been traced. We know that you are a Shia kafir [infidel] and a journalist reporting against us,” said the unknown caller.

In September 2021, Rahimi hired a car to reach the Chaman-Spin Boldak border with her younger brother and four nephews, aged 8-14. Wearing a light blue chadori (the head-to-toe burqa), she entered Quetta in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province without a visa.

“Each passenger cost 6,310 afghani (US$71). However, the driver charged half-payment for children,” said 24-year-old Rahimi, who used to report for Kabul-based Farhang Press.

Luckily for them, the border security wasn’t tight in the early days of the Taliban takeover. And waiting for legal documentation could have meant risking arrest and possible execution.

“My elderly parents couldn’t join us,” says Rahimi, who now shares one of the four rooms in a rented house with other Afghan families in Quetta. She deleted Taliban call logs to avoid scrutiny by Pakistani border and security personnel and now uses a local SIM card.

But as an unregistered refugee, Rahimi doesn't have any income. Her brother, a tailor, supports the family.

In November, she was baptized by Pastor Irfan James in a small church in Quetta.

“I accepted Christ as I read in the Bible John 3:16. On one side our own people were trying to kill us while a pastor was helping us with rations and money. I found Christ as my savior,” she told UCA News.

She is among the 100 believers who have received a copy of the Bible from Pastor James, who is running an underground ministry from Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.

He has to grow a beard and leave church documents behind before crossing the border using local contacts. They also help him in relocating underground Christians.

“Changing physical gestures is crucial for survival,” Pastor James told UCA News via WhatsApp. “Many have changed their phone numbers to avoid persecution. The Afghani converts along with defense personnel and spokespersons of the former government are on the Taliban’s hit list.”

Some 450 Afghan families, living in an Islamabad park, have been holding protests for months demanding legal status, with many seeking onward passage to European nations.

The protesting families, including children, carry mock coffins and wear white shirts emblazoned with messages in red paint saying "Kill us or rescue us."                      

Instead of initiating a police crackdown on the protesting Afghans, the government of Pakistan should shelter the refugees on a humanitarian basis, said Pastor James.

“Women have vanished and families are forced to sell their children due to crippling hunger and economic crisis. Church groups should invest in small business enterprises and medical camps for the converted Afghans,” he added.

Since the Taliban takeover, the persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity International and two local churches have been helping 400 Afghan refugees in Quetta and Chaman, another border town of Pakistan.

They are among 250,000 Afghans who have crossed into Pakistan after the Taliban seized full control of the country next door.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that 1.3 million Afghan refugees are registered in Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, the estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Christians are all converts from Islam and forced to worship secretly in homes or other small venues.

Our Lady of Divine Providence chapel, attached to the Italian embassy, in Kabul was the only recognized Catholic church in Afghanistan. Barnabite Father Giovanni Scalese, head of the sole Catholic mission in Afghanistan, abandoned the parish last year.

But Inamullah Samangani, a Taliban spokesman, denied the presence of local Christians. “There are no Christians in Afghanistan. The Christian minority has never been known or registered here,” he told Voice of Asia last month while acknowledging only the Sikh and Hindu religious minorities.

Last week, an attack on a gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, in the capital Kabul left one worshipper dead and seven others wounded. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Rahimi remains concerned for the safety of her parents back home following a recent raid by the Taliban. “They searched our house, found my photo, checked my calls from Pakistan and threatened my family. They have relocated since then. Now I communicate with them by sending messages to my fiancé who lives nearby,” she said.

Source: UCA News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/afghan-christians-find-new-hope-in-pakistan/97758

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PM Shehbaz orders provision of all facilities to Bahraini investors

Syed Irfan Raza

June 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wed­nesday said he wanted to transform Pakistan into an Asian hub of industrialisation through extensive investment.

He was talking to a delegation of Bahraini companies, led by founder/chairman of a private firm Royale Nova Sheikh Khalid Mohammad Salman Al Khalifa.

Minister for Investment Board Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Minister for Trade Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Housing and Works Abdul Wasay, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and other high officials concerned attended the meeting.

On this occasion, the prime minister directed authorities concerned to provide all possible facilities to investors of Bahrain on priority basis by utilising all available resources.

The Board of Investment (BoI) authorities briefed the delegation about the huge investment opportunities in Pakistan in different sectors such as health, tourism, hotel and hospitality, housing, agriculture, food and information and technology

The delegation was informed that Pakistan was an ideal country for investment due to its strategic location, young population, skilled manpower, immense natural resources and business-friendly environment.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1696270/pm-shehbaz-orders-provision-of-all-facilities-to-bahraini-investors

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Hina Khar to represent Pakistan at CHOGM in Rwanda

June 22, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will pay an official visit to Kigali, Rwanda to lead Pakistan’s delegation to the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on June 24-25.

The MoS will also attend the Pre-CHOGM Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) on June 23.

The MoS will hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders on the sidelines of the event.

The leaders of the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth will hold discussions, among others, on issues related to the youth, technology and innovation and various global challenges including climate change, post-covid recovery and economic crises, particularly in the context of present conflict in Europe.

Besides the CHOGM Communique titled ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’ various important documents such as Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform, Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, and Declaration on Sustainable Urbanization are also expected to be adopted.The MoS will present Pakistan’s perspective at the plenary as well as other discussions during this important Commonwealth event which could not be held in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/06/22/hina-khar-to-represent-pakistan-at-chogm-in-rwanda/

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Relief goods being dispatched for Afghan earthquake victims: Marriyum

June 22, 2022

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Wednesday said relief goods were being dispatched to Afghanistan immediately for the victims of earthquake, which had claimed several lives.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had directed for urgent emergency supplies, including food, camps, blankets and other essential items, for Afghan earthquake victims, she said in a news statement.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/06/22/relief-goods-being-dispatched-for-afghan-earthquake-victims-marriyum/

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Africa

 

Gambia: Pipeline Mosque Foundation Presents 700 Bed Sheets to 7 Hospitals in Gambia

21 JUNE 2022

In what has now become an annual affair, the Pipeline Mosque Foundation last Wednesday presented an assortment of 700 new bed sheets to the eight major hospitals in the country.

The items were donated by a renowned Gambian business entrepreneur, Ahman Ghanim Diab of Emporium, who also presented a cheque for D50, 000 to the Kanifing General Hospital as part of his annual subvention towards the upkeep of the said facility's mortuary.

The gesture is part of his unending support towards bettering and caring for the sick.

Welcoming the gathering, Basiru Drammeh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kanifing General Hospital, expressed appreciation to the foundation for what he called their 'constant support' to the hospital in the past years.

He acknowledged that hadn't it been for the constant support of the foundation, the mortuary would not be fit to accommodate bodies, thereby putting burden on the country's main referral hospital.

He spoke highly of the foundation's humanitarian support to the country's healthcare sector, saying the recent gesture would significantly cut spending on government especially in the acquiring new bed sheets.

"The people who will sleep on this bed sheets it is only Allah that will reward you for that. So we thank you for that."

Drammeh noted that the relationship between the two institutions would be further strengthened for the mutual benefit of the people of the Gambia.

Babucarr Saine, administrator of the Kanifing General Hospital, reminded that the support rendered by the Gambian businessman through the Pipeline Mosque Foundation has now become customary.

"This is yet another presentation and it has now even become a tradition that every year the foundation would support the health care system with high quality bed sheets. Not only that, the partnership the between the foundation and the health system is not restricted only to the donation of bed sheets, but there is a unique relation between the two institution."

He indicated that annually, the foundation would provide subvention meant for renovation and upgrading of the facility's mortuary.

Also speaking, Imam Mass Njie, who represented the donor, recalled that this is the 8th time the donor is presenting useful items to the country's major health facilities.

He acknowledged that Diab is a successful businessman and thought it befitting to share his wealth with the populace.

"He has been constantly supporting the mortuary of Kanifing General Hospital. And what inspires him to continue this gesture is the trust and confidence he has in the Pipeline Mosque Foundation."

Njie called on all to continue praying for the benefactor to be able continue the philanthropic work.

Alhagie Momodou Senghore, vice president of the Foundation, expressed delight to be at the hospital to make such presentation.

Senghore thanked their main patron (Diab) for constantly supporting the programme for the 11th time, saying he's not only helping with bed sheets, but he also supports some of the foundation's outreach programmes.

Senghore indicated that what makes their support unique is the fact that they are supporting areas that many would not want to be involved in, making reference to their support to the mortuary and Prison Services.

"The way people used to look at the Prison Services should be the way it should be viewed. Prisons are supposed to be reform centres. So we should not just put them there and abandon them. So we have a robust programme for supporting the Prisons Services like providing Prisoners with Iftar rations for them to enable them break their fast." he added.

Source: All Africa

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://allafrica.com/stories/202206220345.html

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Somali children starving ‘before our eyes’ as Western aid falters: Charities

June 22, 2022

LONDON: Somalia was facing a huge risk of famine with children already starving to death “before our eyes,” a UN food aid organization official has warned.

In a letter to G7 leaders, Michael Dunford, the UN World Food Program’s regional director for east Africa, said only a “massive” funding and humanitarian relief effort would prevent disaster in the country.

The G7 governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, he added, needed to urgently donate to avoid catastrophe in the Muslim nation.

Dunford said: “We need money, and we need it now. Will we be able to avert (a famine in Somalia)? Unless there is … a massive scaling-up from right now, it won’t be possible, quite frankly.

“The only way, at this point, is if there is a massive investment in humanitarian relief, and all the stakeholders, all the partners, come together to try to avert this.”

The Horn of Africa is especially vulnerable to famine in its current state due to four consecutive insufficient rainy seasons and price rises that have been caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The WFP has said that 89 million people in eastern Africa are now considered “acutely food insecure,” a 90 percent rise on the last year.

“Unfortunately, I do not see (the rate) slowing down. If anything, it seems to be accelerating,” Dunford added.

The WFP’s appeal comes after G7 leaders last year promised to provide $7 billion to support countries fighting famine, but program experts claim that insufficient funding was dedicated to the Horn of Africa.

The crisis in Somalia, which is worse than any other struggle experienced by countries in the region, is at the forefront of the WFP’s funding demands. The 2011 famine in Somalia killed more than 250,000 people, mostly children, and analysts fear this year’s situation could be even more lethal.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis are facing famine by the end of the year, with a UN International Children’s Emergency Fund worker telling Sky News that, “the statistics are showing that the malnutrition levels among children are higher than the 2011 famine.”

UNICEF’s Jamal Abdi Sarman said: “That potentially indicates a looming famine in the foreseeable future. If an intervention does not happen as expected, and quickly, we will inevitably witness the mass death of children in the coming months.”

Claire Sanford, deputy humanitarian director of Save the Children, told the Guardian that she met mothers in Somalia who were powerless to stop their kids dying, with several families burying multiple children.

She said: “I can honestly say in my 23 years of responding to humanitarian crisis, this is by far the worst I’ve seen, particularly in terms of the level of impact on children. The starvation that my colleagues and I witnessed in Somalia has escalated even faster than we feared.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2108786/world

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India

 

RSS Trying To Woo Muslims through Muslim Rashtriya Manch in Telangana

Mohammed Hussain Ahmed

23rd June 2022

Hyderabad: The RSS Telangana through its wing Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) is trying to woo the state’s Muslims.  It is being said that the MRM has a target to make 10000 new members till the end of the current year in Telangana.

The BJP is trying to consolidate its presence in Telangana with the help of Sangh Parivar.  The Muslim wing of the RSS Muslim Rashtriya Manch has become active in the state.

An impression is being created not only in Telangana but across the country that MRM can solve the economic, social, and educational problems of the Muslim community.

According to a source the President of MRM Indresh Kumar has a great leeway with the government and many people who have issues pending for years are trying to get closer to this organisation.  A message is being sent across the Muslim community that closeness to the ruling party can solve their problems.

It is being said that the Muslim Rashtriya Manch shall take up the issue of Telangana government’s neglect of Muslims’ issues and a representation shall be made with the central government for its redressal.

It is also being said that the leaders and members of MRM is trying to convey A message across Muslim community in Telangana districts that the organisation has authority to solve their problems and the Muslims’ closeness to the RSS/BJP can benefit them.

The target given by BJP to the Rashtriya Muslim Manch is termed as “Mission 2024”.  Under this mission, MRM shall set up units across all mandals of Telangana. 

The MRM has plan to recruit, skull capped, bearded Muslim men and burkha clad women to attend meetings to give an impression that Muslims are with RSS/BJP.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/telangana-rss-trying-to-woo-muslims-through-mrm-2355025/

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South Asia

 

Survivors dig by hand after Afghanistan earthquake that killed 1,000 people

Jun 23, 2022

GAYAN (AFGHANISTAN): Survivors dug by hand Thursday through villages in eastern Afghanistan reduced to rubble by a powerful earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people, as the Taliban and the international community that fled their takeover struggled to aid the disaster's victims.

In Paktika province's hard-hit Gayan district, villagers stood atop the mud bricks that once was a home there. Others carefully walked through dirt alleyways, gripping onto damaged walls with exposed timber beams to make their way.

The quake was Afghanistan's deadliest in two decades, and officials said the toll could rise. An estimated 1,500 others were reported injured, the state-run news agency said.

The disaster inflicted by the 6 magnitude quake heaps more misery on a country where millions face increasing hunger and poverty and the health system has been crumbling since the Taliban retook power nearly 10 months ago amid the U.S. and NATO withdrawal. The takeover led to a cutoff of vital international financing, and most of the world has shunned the Taliban government.

How - and whether the Taliban allow - the world to offer aid remains in question as rescuers without heavy equipment dug through rubble with their bare hands.

"We ask from the Islamic Emirate and the whole country to come forward and help us," said a survivor who gave his name as Hakimullah. "We are with nothing and have nothing, not even a tent to live in."

The full extent of the destruction among the villages tucked in the mountains was slow in coming to light. The roads, which are rutted and difficult to travel in the best of circumstances, may have been badly damaged, and landslides from recent rains made access even more difficult.

While modern buildings withstand magnitude 6 earthquakes elsewhere, Afghanistan's mud-and-brick homes and landslide-prone mountains make such temblors more dangerous.

Rescuers rushed in by helicopter, but the relief effort could be hindered by the exodus of many international aid agencies from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover last August. Moreover, most governments are wary of dealing directly with the Taliban.

In a sign of the muddled workings between the Taliban and the rest of the world, the Taliban had not formally requested that the U.N. mobilise international search-and-rescue teams or obtain equipment from neighboring countries to supplement the few dozen ambulances and several helicopters sent in by Afghan authorities, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the U.N. deputy special representative to Afghanistan.

Still, officials from multiple U.N. agencies said the Taliban were giving them full access to the area.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter that eight trucks of food and other necessities from Pakistan arrived in Paktika. He also said Thursday that two planes of humanitarian aid from Iran and another from Qatar had arrived in the country.

Obtaining more direct international help may be more difficult: Many countries, including the U.S., funnel humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through the U.N. and other such organizations to avoid putting money in the Taliban's hands.

The quake was centered in Paktika province, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the city of Khost, according to neighboring Pakistan's Meteorological Department. Experts put its depth at just 10 kilometers (6 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

The death toll reported by the Bakhtar news agency was equal to that of a quake in 2002 in northern Afghanistan. Those are the deadliest since 1998, when an earthquake that was also 6.1 in magnitude and subsequent tremors in the remote northeast killed at least 4,500 people.

Wednesday's quake took place in a region prone to landslides, with many older, weaker buildings.

In neighboring Khost province's Speray district, which also sustained serious damage, men stood atop what once was a mud home. The quake had ripped open its timber beams. People sat outside under a makeshift tent made of a blanket that blew in the breeze.

Survivors quickly prepared the district's dead, including children and an infant, for burial. Officials fear more dead will be found in the coming days.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/survivors-dig-by-hand-after-afghanistan-earthquake-that-killed-1000-people/articleshow/92403682.cms

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Taliban urge US to unfreeze Afghanistan's assets after quake

22 June 2022

The Taliban have urged the United States to unfreeze Afghanistan's assets after a powerful earthquake struck a rugged, mountainous region in the east of the impoverished country.

The disaster poses a new test for Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and relief agencies which are already struggling with multiple humanitarian crises. The full extent of the destruction among the villages tucked in the mountains is slow in coming to light.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Iran’s Sahar TV Wednesday night that an emergency session was held following the earthquake to form a crisis management headquarters.

"This headquarters was formed with the participation of the ministers of health, defense, culture, interior and others, and it was decided that their representatives should quickly reach the affected areas to provide relief," he said.

It was also decided to provide food, home appliances, tents, and other basic necessities, Mujahid said, adding the ministry of defense was asked to provide all ground and air assistance to help the injured, while the ministry of health should send the necessary medicines and relief teams as soon as possible and take care of the injured.

The disaster inflicted by the 6.1-magnitude quake heaps more misery on a country where the health system has been crumbling since the US and NATO withdrawal in August. The takeover led to a cutoff of vital international financing, and most of the world has shunned the Taliban government.

In a rare move, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah pleaded with the international community and humanitarian organizations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort.”

International organizations, the Red Crescent and many countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Russia and some other countries have declared their readiness to help Afghanistan, the Taliban spokesman said.

But, he made a point of renewing Afghanistan's call on the US to release the country's assets. There are about $7 billion of Afghan funds from the country's central bank frozen in the United States.

In February, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that would seize the Afghan assets and move half to a fund purportedly designated for humanitarian aid for Afghanistan. However, Biden nodded to legal wrangling with some 9/11 families pursuing claims against those assets as the reason for not trying to free the other half of Afghan funds allegedly for the Afghan people.

The freeze has continued amid Afghanistan's economy being on the verge of collapse, inflation soaring, and millions of Afghans on the brink of starvation.

However, Washington's callous indifference to humanitarian crises is known to all and sundry.

When Iran was hit by the worst coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East, calls mounted from around the world on the United States to ease sanctions on the country in order to allow the Islamic Republic to buy vital medical equipment and vaccines from abroad, but Washington was unimpressed.

On Wednesday, Iran’s embassy in Kabul said the Islamic Republic had dispatched two cargo planes carrying first aid supplies to the quake-hit country.

Relief and rescue teams of Iran’s Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and medical and volunteer squads have also been put on standby to be deployed to Afghanistan, it added.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/06/22/684371/Afghanistan-earthquake-United-States-frozen-assets

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OIC SG’s special envoy for Afghanistan meets Muttaqi

June 23, 2022

Ambassador Tariq Ali Bakhiet, the special envoy of the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for Afghanistan, has arrived in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

On Tuesday, June 21, Mr. Tariq met with Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the de facto authority in Afghanistan.

The two sides discussed the OIC’s humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan after establishing and activating the humanitarian fund in the Islamic Development Bank, in addition to many political and economic issues that constitute a priority for the OIC in the framework of following up on the implementation of the resolutions of the Council of Foreign Ministers on the situation in Afghanistan.

During this visit, the envoy is expected to meet several Afghan officials.

The visit coincides with another visit by a delegation of Muslim scholars to Afghanistan to engage with Afghan scholars and officials on issues of paramount importance, such as tolerance and moderation in Islam and women’s education.

Source: Pak Observer

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https://pakobserver.net/oic-sgs-special-envoy-for-afghanistan-meets-muttaqi/

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Deadly quake spells disaster for 'isolated' Afghanistan

June 23, 2022

KABUL: A deadly 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Afghanistan in the early hours of Wednesday morning has killed around a thousand people and left at least 600 injured, disaster management officials said.

Said to be the worst quake in Afghanistan since 2002, the seismic event occurred 44km from Khost, near the border with Pakistan, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The tremors from the quake were felt by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said on Twitter.

The EMSC put the earthquake’s magnitude at 6.1, though the USGS said it was 5.9.

Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said the death toll was likely to rise “as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details.”

However, images and videos coming out of the country showed houses reduced to rubble and bodies swathed in blankets lying on the ground.

An unknown number of people remained stuck under rubble and in outlying areas, health and aid workers said, while rescue operations were complicated by difficult conditions including heavy rains, landslides and many villages being nestled in inaccessible hillside areas.

“Many people are still buried under the soil. Rescue teams have arrived and with the help of locals are trying to take out the dead and injured,” a health worker at a hospital in the hard-hit Paktika province said.

Disaster experts and humanitarian workers said the impoverished hilly areas struck by the quake were especially vulnerable, with landslides and poorly built houses adding to widespread destruction.

Eyewitness accounts

“We were all sleeping at home... and the room fell over us,” said Gul Faraz as he received treatment for injuries with his wife and children at a hospital in Paktika. Some family members had been killed, he said.

“All the houses in our area were destroyed, not one, but the entire region has been destroyed.” Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Ayubi said. In the province of Khost, 25 were dead and 90 had been taken to hospital.

Adding to the challenge for Afghan authorities is recent flooding in many regions, which has blocked stretches of highway.

Hospitals in rural Afghanistan have come under pressure as well. From her hospital bed in Sharan, the capital of Paktika province, tears stream down Bibi Hawa’s face as she tries to grasp her predicament.

At least a dozen members of her family were among those killed. “Where will I go, where will I go?” the 55-year-old asks repeatedly.

As a nurse tries to calm her down, talking to her gently and caressing her forehead, Bibi sighs: “My heart is weak.”

In the room where Bibi is being treated a dozen other women lie on beds – many asleep, some burrowed beneath blankets, others hooked up to vital fluids.

Shahmira is unhurt, but her one-year-old grandson lies in her lap, a large dressing covering his temple.

On the next bed her daughter-in-law is sleeping off her injuries, while a son is being treated in a different ward.

“We were sleeping when we heard a loud noise,” she says.

“I screamed... I thought my family was buried under the rubble and that I was the only one” still alive.

In an adjacent ward, a dozen men are also recovering on beds. One father holds his son on his lap while nearby, another child lies under a blue blanket. His left arm is also in a cast, while on his forehead a white bandage bears the word “emergency” written in black marker.

“There were cries everywhere. The children and my family were under the mud.” Mohammad Yahya Wiar, director of Sharan Hospital, says they have been doing their best to treat everyone.

When the injured arrived, they “were crying, and we were crying too”, he says.

But locals are rallying to help. In front of the hospital, a hundred men are waiting patiently.

“They have come to give blood – about 300 have already given it since this morning,” explains a Taliban fighter.

Assistance from Pakistan

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, President Arif Alvi and the military’s top brass expressed their condolences over the loss of life in the quake and pledged to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan.

In line with this commitment, a convoy of trucks carrying relief assistance left for Khost on Wednesday night. The relief consignment includes tents, covers, blankets and medicines, which would be handed over to Afghan authorities.

The convoy of trucks carrying relief aid would reach Khost via the Ghulam Khan border.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said the people of Pakistan stood in solidarity with their Afghan brethren in this difficult time. “We have no doubt that the brotherly Afghan people will overcome the effects of this natural calamity with their characteristic resilience,” it said.

The FO said Pakistani authorities and institutions were working to extend required assistance to Afghanistan in coordination with their relevant institutions.

International assistance

After an Afghan foreign ministry spokesman said the Taliban would welcome international help, US President Joe Biden has directed Usaid and other federal government entities to assess how they can respond.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations was fully mobilised, assessing needs and providing initial support.

But according to Ramiz Alakbarov, the deputy UN envoy in Afghanistan, the United Nations does not have search and rescue capabilities in Afghanistan and Turkey is “best positioned” to provide such support.

At the UN, Pakistan urged the international community not to link assistance for the disaster-hit nation with political concerns.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1696257/deadly-quake-spells-disaster-for-isolated-afghanistan

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Earthquake Death Toll Soars As Rescue Teams Search for Victims Buried Under the Ground and Destroyed Houses

By Saqalain Eqbal

22 Jun 2022

At least 1,000 people have died and 1,500 have been injured as a result of Wednesday’s earthquake in southern and south-eastern Afghanistan, according to Mohammad Amin Hudhaifa, head of Taliban Information and Culture in the province of Paktika.

Hibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the Taliban, claimed that hundreds of homes had been demolished and that the death toll was likely to climb since rescue teams and emergency workers are still looking for people who may be buried beneath the ground.

The earthquake of Wednesday that stuck Afghanistan’s south-eastern regions is the most catastrophic and the deadliest earthquake to have hit Afghanistan in the previous 20 years.

This unfortunate occurrence was poorly handled by the Taliban, according to the locals.

Five helicopters were sent to the location by the Taliban’s cabinet members approximately eight hours after the incident during an emergency meeting, to facilitate medical evacuation.

The Taliban’s relief team is said to have reached the scene around 11 hours later at around lunchtime to aid the victims.

According to a local farmer who spoke to BBC, there were no official assistance workers there, but people of nearby villages and cities have come to the area to rescue individuals. “I arrived this morning, and I – myself – found 40 dead bodies,” he added.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/earthquake-death-toll-soars-as-rescue-teams-search-for-victims-buried-under-the-ground-and-destroyed-houses-65748/

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Iran Shares Afghanistan’s Grief Over the Deadly Earthquake and is Prepared to Aid the Victims

By Saqalain Eqbal

22 Jun 2022

Saeed Khatibzada, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, expressed sympathy for the Afghan people and government in light of the terrible earthquake that struck southeastern Afghanistan, according to the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, IRNA.

The Iranian media also reported that Mohammad Hassan Nami, the head of Iran’s Crisis Management Organization, stated that the Iranian agency was completely prepared to aid earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

Khatibzada conveyed his sincere condolences to his Afghan people and hoped for the victims’ departed souls to find eternal peace while also wishing for the well-being of those who had been wounded.

Iran has consigned two airplanes carrying humanitarian aid to the people in the earthquake-affected areas in southeastern Afghanistan, according to an announcement made by the Iranian embassy in Kabul following the fatal earthquake that struck Afghanistan’s Paktika and Host province on Wednesday.

Additionally, pursuant to the Iranian minister’s instruction, Iran’s crisis management teams are on high alert and prepared to send teams to Afghanistan if necessary, according to the Head of Crisis Management Organization in an interview with the Iranian media.

At the same time, the Iranian Red Crescent Society declared its preparedness to aid the victims as well.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/iran-shares-afghanistans-grief-over-the-deadly-earthquake-and-is-prepared-to-aid-the-victims-57383/

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The Taliban Allocates 1 Billion Afghanis to the Victims of Earthquake in South-East Afghanistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

22 Jun 2022

In an emergency cabinet meeting, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, allocated one billion Afghanis to support the families of the earthquake victims in the provinces of Paktika and Khost, according to the Bakhtar State News Agency.

According to the IEA Prime Minister’s decree, a commission composed of senior officials will visit the earthquake-affected regions, check on the welfare of the victims’ families, and soon begin the aid distribution process.

The most recent statistics on the casualties of the catastrophic and fatal earthquake in the south-eastern provinces of Afghanistan, particularly Paktika and Khost, the death toll is reported to have soared.

According to Mawlawi Sharafuddin Muslim, the Deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management, 920 people were killed and 610 injured in last night’s quake in several provinces.

The earthquake was initially reported to have killed almost 280 people and wounded over 600, but the Taliban officials had stated that the death toll was expected to increase given the remoteness of some villages in the mountinuous regions.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has said that it will make use of all of its resources to help the families and those who were hurt in this natural disaster.

Food, clothing, and medications are reportedly included in the assistance.

https://www.khaama.com/the-taliban-allocates-1-billion-afghanis-to-the-victims-of-earthquake-in-south-east-afghanistan-668432/

Afghanistan quake: Rescuers struggling to reach survivors in Paktika

Heavy rain, threadbare resources and rugged terrain are hampering rescuers in south-east Afghanistan, where a powerful earthquake is reported to have killed more than 1,000 people.

Unknown numbers were buried in the rubble of ruined, often mud-built homes by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake.

Afghanistan's health system was facing near collapse even before the disaster.

The Taliban authorities have called for more international aid. Communication networks are also badly hit.

"We can't reach the area - networks are too weak," a Taliban spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The United Nations is among those scrambling to provide emergency shelter and food aid to remote areas in the worst-hit Paktika province.

Survivors and rescuers have told the BBC of villages completely destroyed near the epicentre of the quake, of ruined roads and mobile phone towers - and of their fears that the death toll will rise further. Some 1,500 people were also injured, officials say.

The deadliest earthquake to strike the country in two decades is a major challenge for the Taliban, the Islamist movement which regained power last year after the Western-backed government collapsed.

The earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 44km (27 miles) from the city of Khost and tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan and India.

Afghanistan is in the midst of a humanitarian and economic crisis, and Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a senior Taliban official, said the government was "financially unable to assist the people to the extent that is needed".

The head of the UN, António Guterres said the agency had "fully mobilised" over the disaster. Health teams, medical supplies, food and emergency shelters were en route to the quake zone, UN officials said.

But Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of information for Paktika province, told AFP it was proving "very difficult" for rescuers to reach areas "affected by floods because of heavy rains last night".

Afghanistan: The basics

The Taliban run the country: The hardline Islamists took over Afghanistan last year, almost 20 years after being ousted by a US-led military coalition

There's a food crisis: More than a third of people can't meet basic needs and the economy is struggling, as foreign aid and cash dried up when the Taliban took power

Women's rights are restricted: They have been ordered to cover their faces in public and teenage girls have not been allowed to go to school

Most of the casualties so far have been in the Gayan and Barmal districts of Paktika. A whole village in Gayan has reportedly been destroyed.

"There was a rumbling and my bed began to shake," one survivor, Shabir, told the BBC.

"The ceiling fell down. I was trapped, but I could see the sky. My shoulder was dislocated, my head was hurt but I got out. I am sure that seven or nine people from my family, who were in the same room as me, are dead."

A doctor in Paktika said medical workers were among the victims.

"We didn't have enough people and facilities before the earthquake, and now the earthquake has ruined the little we had," the medic said. "I don't know how many of our colleagues are still alive."

Communication following the quake is difficult because of damage to mobile phone towers and the death toll could rise further still, a local journalist in the area told the BBC.

"Many people are not aware of the well-being of their relatives because their phones are not working," he said. "My brother and his family died, and I just learned it after many hours. Many villages have been destroyed."

Afghanistan is prone to quakes, as it is located in a tectonically active region, over a number of fault lines including the Chaman fault, the Hari Rud fault, the Central Badakhshan fault and the Darvaz fault.

Over the past decade more than 7,000 people have been killed in earthquakes in the country, the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports. There are an average of 560 deaths a year from earthquakes.

Most recently, back-to-back earthquakes in the country's west in January killed more than 20 people and destroyed hundreds of houses.

Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's emergency services were stretched to deal with natural disasters - with few aircraft and helicopters available to rescuers.

The country is also experiencing an acute shortage of medical supplies and malnutrition rates have been rising.

Source: BBC

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-61900260

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Southeast Asia

 

Chinese National of Singapore Sentenced To 18 Months' Probation for Making Anti-Islam Remarks on Instagram

June 23, 2022

SINGAPORE: A youth was sentenced to 18 months' probation on Thursday (Jun 23) for making offensive remarks about Islam in Instagram posts that went viral.

Sun Sicong, 21, also made insensitive comments about a rape victim.

He pleaded guilty last month to one charge of making the posts with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of Muslims.

Another two charges, for his comments about rape and possessing obscene films, were considered for sentencing.

The court heard that Sun, a Chinese national who is a permanent resident of Singapore, made the religiously offensive Instagram Stories posts between 2018 and 2019.

In the posts, he described acts of violence against Muslims, threatened to burn religious texts and insulted Islamic teachings.

He also said he would have "no problem committing genocide" if he were "in a position of power".

At the time, no police reports were made in relation to the Instagram Stories posts, which are temporary posts that get automatically deleted after 24 hours.

But they resurfaced online around Jun 7, 2020, after Sun took a screenshot of a rape victim's account of her ordeal and posted it with his insensitive comments.

Other Instagram users were upset with these comments and responded to Sun. They referred to screenshots of the religiously offensive posts in the process.

The religiously offensive posts then went viral, with the police receiving 62 reports from members of the public about them.

Under his probation conditions, Sun must remain indoors from 10pm to 6am and perform 60 hours of community service.

His parents also paid a bond of S$5,000 to ensure his good behaviour during the period.

Probation is a community-based sentence under which offenders can continue most daily activities such as school and work.

Community-based sentences were introduced in 2010 to give the courts greater flexibility for minor offences.

Source: Channel News Asia

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/youth-violent-anti-islam-muslim-remarks-instagram-religion-offensive-2765401

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Along with smoking and vape, ban other 'bad' habits too, says Muslim group

June 23, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: The government's effort to end smoking and vaping via the 'Generation Endgame' plan is the right move, and it should also include banning the sale of alcohol, sugary drinks, gambling, and the operation of nightclubs and karaoke joints.

Pertubuhan Ummah Muafakat Putrajaya (PUMP) president Tun Faisal said the move to ban smoking and vaping takes much political will, and to the government's credit, it has not wavered in pushing for Generation Endgame.

"It seems only natural that the government should look to realise the aspirations of all Malaysians.

"After all, why only ban one or two bad habits while allowing others to fester? We should not have double standards for bad habits," he said in a statement.

Tun Faisal cited a recent survey carried out by the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) that found most Malaysians want the government to ban the sale of alcohol, sugary drinks and gambling, as well as prohibit the operation of nightclubs, pubs and karaoke joints.

PPIM said these products and services are considered 'bad' as smoking and vaping are bad for one's health.

"The respondents of the PPIM survey are right. It isn't rocket science, and it is something the government should seriously consider," Tun Faisal said.

He said if the government cites health reasons for banning smoking, it must be noted that there are non-communicable diseases (NCDs) linked to alcohol consumption, including cancer, liver diseases, and pancreatitis.

Similarly, sugary drinks are linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

"Gambling, on the other hand, as PPIM argued, can plunge one into debt. Again, one needs only to Google to see that it is not a farfetched argument.

"Detractors will say that it is a matter of moderation and that people should have complete freedom to do what they want. But who has to bear the cost and consequences of these bad habits? Society," he said.

"This is why I urge the government to consider PPIM's survey results."

He further said that, understandably, the government cannot and should not take a top-down approach but a more inclusive approach in the spirit of the Keluarga Malaysia concept.

"Surely, there are also repercussions to consider, especially on the economy, of banning alcohol, sugary drinks, and the operation of nightclubs. Somewhere and somehow down the line, the ban would impact someone's rice bowl.

"This is why any plans to curb 'bad habits' must be calculated and planned carefully," Tun Faisal said.

Source: NST

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.nst.com.my/business/2022/06/807381/along-smoking-and-vape-ban-other-bad-habits-too-says-muslim-group

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Employ us, we can help solve labour shortage, say frustrated refugees

Reshna Reem Ganesan

June 23, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Many refugees in the country struggle to make ends meet due to the lack of opportunities – and the fact that Malaysia is taking on large numbers of migrant workers grates on them.

Agha Andul Sattar, a refugee from Pakistan told FMT that he and other refugees feel frustrated and unwelcome.

An Ahmadiyya Muslim, he fled from religious persecution in Balochistan and came to Malaysia in 2016, seeking asylum.

He thought he could find work in Malaysia but was disheartened by the lack of opportunities.

“Everybody knows the (Malaysian) government said we aren’t allowed to work, and this has affected our lives here,” he said.

Agha, 44, is now a social mobiliser and community developer at the North-South Initiative activist group.

He said refugees are often painted in a bad light by mainstream media, making employers reluctant to employ them. “But nobody is talking about the problems we face or the important roles we can play in Malaysia,” he stressed.

“Even during the pandemic when there was a labour crisis, we were more than willing to help. We are always ready.”

Kai Sian Pau, a refugee from the Zomi community in Myanmar, said the public should not believe the bad stories about refugees. “We are not bad people. The public just needs to get to know us and our culture better,” he said.

Kai came to Malaysia in 2010 because his community, a minority ethnic group, was being persecuted by the government.

He said many refugees from his community feel a sense of hopelessness in Malaysia because they are unable to build a better life for themselves.

“It feels like we don’t have a right to work towards our dreams,” he said, and the stress of going through everyday life had made them depressed.

Kai said the government and employers must recognise the potential of refugees and not exclude them, particularly in job opportunities.

“We can help (with the labour shortage) and can work because we are healthy. And if we can work, we will be able to survive without depending on donations,” he said.

He hopes that the laws and constitution of the country protect and provide refugees with equal opportunities.

Meanwhile, Rohingya refugee Saif, who only wants to be identified by his first name, said many Rohingya want to work and are willing to learn the ropes.

“However, they (refugees) are not given the opportunity and are looked down on by employers which makes them feel insecure and upset,” he said.

Saif, 27, left Myanmar for Bangladesh with his family when he was nine years old. In 2018, he came to Malaysia to pursue higher education.

Considering himself one of the fortunate few, he gives back to his community here by educating over 100 Rohingya children at a centre in Meru, Klang.

He pointed out that employers are usually hesitant to hire refugees and end up paying more for migrant workers’ documentation.

“Instead of paying large sums for migrant workers, employers and the government should use that money to employ refugees here,” he said, adding that it has been difficult to recruit migrant workers since the pandemic.

Saif said employing refugees would be a “win-win situation” because it will help with the country’s labour shortage and give refugees a purpose.

Malaysia currently lacks at least 1.2 million workers in the manufacturing (627,000), plantation (120,000) and construction (550,000) industries.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/23/employ-us-we-can-help-solve-labour-shortage-say-frustrated-refugees/

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Mideast

 

1,200-year-old mosque uncovered in Palestinian village in Israel

22 June, 2022

Israeli archaeologists on Wednesday unveiled an ancient mosque in the country's south that antiquities officials said sheds light on the region's transition from Christianity to Islam.

The remains of the mosque, believed to be more than 1,200 years old, were discovered during works to build a new neighbourhood in the Palestinian Bedouin city of Rahat, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

The mosque located in the Negev desert (also called Naqab in Arabic) contains "a square room and a wall facing the direction of Mecca", with a half-circle niche in that wall pointing to the south, the IAA said.

"These unique architectural features show that the building was used as a mosque," the authority said, noting it probably hosted a few dozen worshippers at a time.

A short distance from the mosque, a "luxurious estate building" was also discovered, with remains of tableware and glass artefacts pointing to the wealth of its residents, the IAA said.

Three years ago, the authority unearthed another mosque nearby from the same era of the seventh to eighth century AD, calling the two Islamic places of worship "among the earliest known worldwide".

The mosques, estate and other homes found nearby illuminate "the historical process that took place in the northern Negev with the introduction of a new religion -- the religion of Islam, and a new rulership and culture in the region," the IAA said.

"These were gradually established, inheriting the earlier Byzantine government and Christian religion that held sway over the land for hundreds of years."

The Muslim conquest of the region occurred in the first half of the seventh century.

The IAA said the mosques found in Rahat would be preserved in their current locations, whether as historic monuments or as active places of prayer.

Images taken of the newly-uncovered mosque showed Palestinian workers praying inside the structure.

The Negev desert is home to over 300,000 Palestinian Bedouins, who are extremely marginalised and constitute Israel's poorest minority.

Israel has long pursued a policy to sedentarise and concentrate this community in a handful of state-built cities.

Source: The New Arab

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/1200-year-old-mosque-unearthed-palestinian-negev-village

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Iranian Leader’s Advisor: Islamic Revolution Major Obstacle to US, Israeli Plots in Region

2022-June-22

Larijani, former speaker of the Iranian parliament, made the remark in a ceremony to unveil a book titled ‘The Secret War With Iran; Half a Century of Failure’ written by Iranian journalist Abbas Salimi Namin which sheds light on the claims made by Israeli military affairs analyst Ronen Bergman.

As highlighted by Bergman, the conflict between Iran and Israel stems from the strategic depths of both sides, Larijani said.

He added Ronen Bergman’s book and the claims made on the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran are not based on evidence, so the book is reduced to a fiction.

Larijani said the late Founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini and the Revolution changed the map in the Middle East and what Bergman is driving at is the fact that the Islamic Revolution has been a major block for Israel and the US to achieve their goals in the region.

In relevant remarks in November, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Major General Hossein Salami said that Washington is used to sustaining defeat in its plots against the Iranian nation.

The Americans are used to defeats at the hands of the Iranian nation, but, they have yet to learn the lesson well, General Salami said.

He also spoke about the US hegemonic moves to provoke wars in the world, saying that more than 40 major wars in 40 parts of the world are the outcome of Americans' politics in the world.

General Salami said that the US has engaged in a war with many countries in Europe, Africa, South America, the Far East, West Asia, and Russia, and added that the US waged wars have left more an 8 million dead in the world.

According to Major General Salami, the US dreamed of dominating the Islamic world so as to dominate the entire world, however, the Islamic Revolution of Iran prevented the Americans' dreams from coming true.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010401000908/Iranian-Leader%E2%80%99s-Advisr-Islamic-Revlin-Majr-Obsacle-US-Israeli-Pls

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Tehran Foils Mossad’s Assassination Plot against Iranian Nuclear Scientists

2022-June-22

"The arrest of these Mossad operatives followed a complicated intelligence operation that lasted eight months," Prosecutor-General of Iran's Sistan and Balouchestan province Mehdi Shamsabadi told reporters on Tuesday.

"Ample evidence has been gathered against them in such a way that they did not even make any objection when a warrant for their arrest was issued," he added.

The official noted that some members of the cell have been arrested in the country’s Southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan while other members and operatives have been detained outside the province by Iran's intelligence forces.

"The defendants have confessed that some of them had been in direct contact with Mossad agents," Shamsabadi emphasized.

He said the case is currently under preliminary investigation and that an indictment would be filed and sent to court soon.

The official did not specify the nationalities of the agents.

In a statement on April 20, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced the arrest of the three Mossad agents in Sistan and Balouchestan.

It said at the time that the spies were involved in disseminating classified information and documents, and noted that the trio had been arrested upon a judicial order.

Iranian nuclear scientists have been the target of the western and Israeli spy agencies' assassination attempts in recent years.

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's car was targeted by an explosion and machinegun fire in Damavand's Absard 40 kilometers to the East of Tehran on November 27, 2020.

The nuclear scientist and one of his companions were immediately taken to a nearby hospital but he could not be saved.

In June 2012, Iran announced that its intelligence forces had identified and arrested all terrorist elements behind the assassination of the country's nuclear scientists.

"All the elements involved in the assassinations of the country's nuclear scientists have been identified and arrested," Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced in a statement.

"A number of countries, whose territories and facilities had been misused by the Mossad-backed terrorist teams, have provided the Iranian officials with relevant information," the statement added.

"Over the course of the investigations, all other elements behind the assassinations of the Iranian scientists Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, Majid Shahriari and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan as well as Reza Qashqaei (Roshan's driver) have been apprehended," the statement read.

"Some of the perpetrators of the assassination of Dr. Fereidoun Abbasi, the current head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, are among those arrested," the ministry added.

According to the statement, Iran's Intelligence Ministry had detected some of Mossad's bases within the territories of one of Iran's Western neighbors, which provided training and logistical support to the terrorist networks.

In the fifth attack of its kind in two years, terrorists killed a 32-year-old Iranian scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, and his driver on January 11, 2012.

The blast took place on the second anniversary of the martyrdom of Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, who was also assassinated in a terrorist bomb attack in Tehran in January 2010.

The assassination method used in the bombing was similar to the 2010 terrorist bomb attacks against the then university professor, Fereidoun Abbassi Davani – who became the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization - and his colleague Majid Shahriari. While Abbasi Davani survived the attack, Shahriari was martyred.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010401000139/Tehran-Fils-Mssad%E2%80%99s-Assassinain-Pl-agains-Iranian-Nclear-Scieniss

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Russia's Lavrov arrives in Iran to discuss nuclear deal, cooperation

22 June, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Iran on Wednesday, Iranian state TV reported, as world powers and Tehran are struggling to revive their 2015 nuclear pact amid stalled negotiations.

“During Lavrov's visit, Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, boosting bilateral and energy cooperation, as well as international and regional issues will be discussed,” Iranian state media reported.

Iranian State TV showed Lavrov meeting Iran's hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, but gave no details. Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday that Lavrov's visit was aimed at “expanding cooperation with the Eurasian region and the Caucasus.”

Last month, Moscow said Russia and Iran - which are both under Western sanctions and sit on some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves - had discussed swapping supplies for oil and gas as well as setting up a logistics hub.

While Moscow is challenging Western sanctions over its military operation in Ukraine, Tehran's clerical rulers have been struggling to keep Iran's economy afloat amid crippling US sanctions that were reimposed after Washington exited Tehran's nuclear deal in 2018.

Indirect talks between Tehran and US President Joe Biden's administration to reinstate the pact have been on hold since March, chiefly over Tehran's insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the US list of designated terrorist organizations.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/22/Russia-s-Lavrov-arrives-in-Iran-to-discuss-nuclear-deal-cooperation-

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Palestinians grant bail to accused killers of prominent activist Nizar Banat

22 June, 2022

Fourteen Palestinian security force members on trial over the killing of prominent activist Nizar Banat, whose death sparked rare protests against the Palestinian Authority, have been released on bail, multiple sources said Wednesday.

The group formally asked for their release on Tuesday, which was granted by the prosecution on condition that they attend their court hearings, a top Palestinian security official who requested anonymity told AFP.

The risk of coronavirus spreading in the West Bank prison where they were held was cited as grounds for their release in a letter seen by AFP, written by the prosecutor responsible for oversight of Palestinian security forces, Abdelnasser Jarrar.

Banat’s widow slammed that justification and further charged that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s administration could not credibly judge her husband’s accused killers.

“The murderer cannot be a judge,” Jihan Banat told AFP, describing the decision to release the suspects on bail as “political.”

“If the Palestinian Authority is worried about the spread of the coronavirus, why doesn’t it release all the other prisoners held on charges?”

Banat died in June last year after security forces stormed his home in the flashpoint city of Hebron and dragged him away.

A post-mortem found he had been beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsing between his arrest and his death.

The top Palestinian prosecutor has accused the 14 security force members of beating Banat to death. The PA has promised accountability through a military trial in the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

Palestinian public body the Independent Commission for Human Rights said there were “irregularities throughout the release process.”

“Preventing the spread of coronavirus does not justify departing from the rule of law,” it said.

Majed al-Arouri, a Ramallah-based legal expert and human rights advocate, told AFP that the release of the suspects without a judicial order was “illegal,” and pointed to wider concerns about the PA’s handling of the case.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/22/Palestinians-grant-bail-to-accused-killers-of-prominent-activist-Nizar-Banat

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Iran movie feted by Cannes critics banned at home

22 June, 2022

Authorities in Iran have banned an Iranian movie about the struggles of a family in the sanctions-hit country after it was feted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“Leila’s Brothers” by director Saeed Roustaee has been banned until further notice by the Cinema Organization of Iran, Culture Minister Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaili told state news agency IRNA.

The movie “broke the rules by being entered at international film festivals without authorization,” the COI said.

“Leila’s Brothers” missed out on the Cannes festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, last month but won the award of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI).

The film has been denied a cinema release in Iran because of its director’s refusal to “correct” it in the manner requested by the ministry, the COI said.

Roustaee, 32, had already wowed critics abroad with his 2019 police thriller “Just 6.5.”

From a working class district of Tehran, he told reformist newspaper Shargh: “I have a social commitment to the class in which I live... Nothing in my films is symbolic.”

For all the challenges imposed by Iranian authorities the country has long had a thriving cinema scene, with figures like Jafar Panahi and Asghar Farhadi scooping awards around the world.

Iran’s Zar Amir Ebrahimi won this year’s Cannes award for best actress for “Holy Spider,” in which she plays a journalist trying to solve the serial murders of prostitutes in the Shia shrine city of Mashhad.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/22/Iran-movie-feted-by-Cannes-critics-banned-at-home

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Israeli premier stresses importance of 'security stability' amid political chaos

Burak Dağ 

22.06.2022

ANKARA

Despite political instability, Israel’s security must be preserved, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

“We are in a period of political instability but the security stability must be preserved,” Naftali Bennett said during a visit to the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza division headquarters, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Bennett said Israelis in cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip have had the “quietest year” in the past 15 years.

“The new normal in the south is quiet, security, and normal life … There are new families and new homes are being built here,” he said.

Bennett wished that the peace experienced during the last year would continue in the coming years.

On Monday evening, Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced an agreement to dissolve the Knesset and go for early elections.

It will be Israel’s fifth election in three-and-a-half years.

In a joint statement, Bennett and Lapid said they would bring a bill to dissolve parliament for an early election likely to be held on Oct. 25.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israeli-premier-stresses-importance-of-security-stability-amid-political-chaos-/2620129

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Israeli premier stresses importance of 'security stability' amid political chaos

Burak Dağ 

22.06.2022

ANKARA

Despite political instability, Israel’s security must be preserved, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

“We are in a period of political instability but the security stability must be preserved,” Naftali Bennett said during a visit to the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza division headquarters, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Bennett said Israelis in cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip have had the “quietest year” in the past 15 years.

“The new normal in the south is quiet, security, and normal life … There are new families and new homes are being built here,” he said.

Bennett wished that the peace experienced during the last year would continue in the coming years.

On Monday evening, Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced an agreement to dissolve the Knesset and go for early elections.

It will be Israel’s fifth election in three-and-a-half years.

In a joint statement, Bennett and Lapid said they would bring a bill to dissolve parliament for an early election likely to be held on Oct. 25.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/israeli-premier-stresses-importance-of-security-stability-amid-political-chaos-/2620129

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Europe

 

Catastrophic Earthquake in Afghanistan Prompts Pope Francis to Pray for the Victims

By Saqalain Eqbal

22 Jun 2022

Pope Francis says he is praying for those affected by the catastrophic earthquake that struck Afghanistan and left at least 1,000 people dead and almost 1,500 injured. He has also made a request for assistance on behalf of everyone who was affected, according to Vatican News.

The Pope conveyed his sympathy to everyone impacted by the earthquake that, in his words, “had claimed lives and caused considerable damage in Afghanistan” while speaking during the Wednesday General Audience.

“And I especially pray for those who lost their lives and their families,” he said.

“I hope we can lessen the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan with everyone’s support,” he called on people to help for the people of Afghanistan, especially those affected by the devastating earthquake.

Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has also expressed its “sincere condolences and solidarity with the Afghan people”, through an official statement released today, June 22nd.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/catastrophic-earthquake-in-afghanistan-prompts-pope-francis-to-pray-for-the-victims-52624/

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Dialogue channels with Türkiye should always be kept open: Greek opposition leader

Ahmet Gencturk  

22.06.2022

Dialogue channels with Türkiye should always be kept open, said the Greek main opposition leader, local media reported on Wednesday.

For Greece, 2022 has been a year of great intensity and worrying developments at the geopolitical level, SYRIZA-PS party leader Alexis Tsipras told the General Assembly of the Greek Tourism Confederation, according to the daily Avgi.

Criticizing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ decision to transfer arms to Ukraine, he argued that this makes the country part of the crisis.

Referring to the early elections rumors which intensified after the prime minister hinted at the possibility last week, Tsipras called on Mitsotakis to announce the exact date as soon as possible.

About possible coalition partners after the elections, he said: “The Greek people will decide if and with whom we will form a government.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/dialogue-channels-with-turkiye-should-always-be-kept-open-greek-opposition-leader/2620154

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NATO chief acknowledges Türkiye’s ‘very important work’ to open corridor for Ukrainian grain

Agnes Szucs  

22.06.2022

BRUSSELS

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg praised on Wednesday Türkiye for doing “very important work” to open an export corridor for grain shipments from Ukraine.

“Türkiye does a very important work in facilitating to get grain out from Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told an event organized by the Politico news outlet.

The remarks came in reaction to Ankara’s diplomatic efforts to prevent the global food crisis by opening an export corridor for grain shipments that have been blocked by Russia at Black Sea ports.

Stoltenberg also explained that he is confident that NATO allies will find a consensus on Türkiye’s security concerns raised about Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership applications.

He acknowledged that Türkiye suffered the most terror attacks among NATO countries.

Türkiye is of “great importance for our Alliance since it is bordering Iraq and Syria” and it “has played and is still playing a key role in the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg said.

He stressed that it is natural that NATO countries have disagreements as they make part of an alliance of “30 different nations with different political parties in power, different history, different geography.”

Stoltenberg also said allies had differences all through NATO’s history, but in the end, they “always agree on essential issues" and "are ready to defend each other.”

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/nato-chief-acknowledges-turkiye-s-very-important-work-to-open-corridor-for-ukrainian-grain/2620125

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NATO chief discusses Türkiye’s security concerns with Swedish premier

Agnes Szucs 

22.06.2022

BRUSSELS

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday he discussed Türkiye’s security concerns with Sweden’s prime minister.

“(I) spoke with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Sweden’s NATO application and the security concerns raised by our Ally Türkiye,” Stoltenberg stated in a Twitter post.

He stressed that "talks on the way forward will continue in the coming days.”

Last week, Stoltenberg confirmed that Türkiye has “legitimate concerns related to their fight against the PKK a group and other organizations”, adding that PKK is considered a terrorist organization by NATO, the EU, as well as Finland, and Sweden.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/nato-chief-discusses-turkiye-s-security-concerns-with-swedish-premier/2620087

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UN says Turkey likely best to send rescue teams to Afghanistan

June 22, 2022

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations does not have search and rescue capabilities in Afghanistan and Turkey is “best positioned” to provide it following a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan on Wednesday, a senior UN aid official said.

“We spoke about it with the embassy of Turkey here on the ground and they’re waiting for the formal request,” said deputy UN envoy in Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov.

“We will be able to make such request only after the discussion with the de-facto authorities and based on what is the reality on the ground.”

The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan hit 1,000, disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured and the toll expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages.

Alakbarov — speaking from Kabul — said that while the Taliban had not yet formally requested help from international search and rescue teams, the United Nations had already sounded out countries in the region to see “if they would be willing and available to deploy such capacity.”

“Our teams do not have specific equipment to take people from under the rubble. This has to rely mostly on the efforts of the de-facto authorities, which also has certain limitations in that respect,” he said.

Alakbarov said it was unclear how well positioned the Taliban were to operate and deploy their to the mountainous areas hit by the earthquake.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2108781/world

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