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Islamic World News ( 2 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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US Secret Service Blocked New Jersey Muslim Mayor from White House Eid Celebration

New Age Islam News Bureau

02 May 2023

 

President Joe Biden speaks during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2023, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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North America

US Engaged In Counterterror Whack-A-Mole 12 Years after Bin Laden Raid

Federal charges, commitment orders detail mosque arson suspect's troubled past

CAIR-NJ Condemns Secret Service for Baselessly Banning NJ’s Longest Serving Muslim Mayor from White House Eid Event

US does not confirm Turkey’s claim of killing Islamic State leader in Syria

Sen. Juan Mendez, Arizona Muslim Alliance propose Arizona Office for New Americans

NJ Will Celebrate Its First 'Muslim Heritage Month' In 2024

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Europe

German chancellor speaks out on Ukrainian strikes inside Russia

EU’s largest economy can’t do without China – leading carmaker

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Southeast Asia

Sultan of Selangor receives RM56m allocation for allowances of imams, religious staff

Mohd Fauzi appointed new Subang Jaya mayor

Anwar proclaimed president of Malaysian Scouts Association

Tok Mat says hard to topple ‘unity govt’ now with anti-party hopping law in place

With little will to fight it, corruption is major risk for Indonesian palm oil

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India

Burqa-Clad Women Helped Atiq's Wife Flee After Announcement from Mosque: Sources

'Targeting Terrorists, Not Muslims': Filmmakers Defend the Kerala Story amid Row

Mathura District Judge to Hear Requests Of All Parties Afresh In Shahi Idgah Mosque Case

Hyderabad: Congress moves to woo back Muslims, offset MIM slant

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Africa

Senegalese Opposition Leader Calls For Civil Disobedience Against Judiciary

Ugandan minister shot and killed by bodyguard

Japan and Ghana Aligned In the Pursuit of Reforms at the UN Security Council

Imam Haron’s family edges closer to truth and justice in reopened inquest

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Mideast

Rockets Fired from Gaza after Islamic Jihad Member Dies from Hunger Strike inIsraeli Prison

Radical Israeli Settlers Invade Courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Riyadh seeking flights between Saudi, Iranian Shia cities

Global Islamic finance industry to grow 10% in 2023-2024 despite economic slowdown

Senior member of Islamic Jihad dies in Israeli prison after 86-day hunger strike

Islamic bloc to hold emergency meeting over conflict-torn Sudan

Jihad: No matter how much enemy escalates its criminal practices, our people's revolution will not be extinguished

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Pakistan

Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Interfaith Harmony Underscores Need for Unity of Muslim Ummah

Negotiations not possible with terrorists: Javed

Muqam thanks friendly countries for safe evacuation of Pakistanis from Sudan

Independent judiciary main component of Constitution, observes CJP

Khar in Doha as UN-led moot kicks off sans Taliban

Justice Isa seeks JCP meeting to fill SC vacancies

All Pakistanis will be evacuated from Sudan in next 48 hours: FO

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Arab World

Ministry of Islamic Affairs Gives Copies of the Holy Quran to Tunis International Book Fair Visitors

Makkah digital artist’s unique blend delivers an enthralling view of Saudi Arabia

US thanks Saudi Arabia for enabling safe evacuation of American citizens from Sudan

Value and rights of employees in spotlight at event in Riyadh marking International Workers’ Day

Over 200 people evacuated by Saudi Arabia from Sudan arrive in Jeddah

41 Saudi Citizens and 171 Others from Brotherly and Friendly Countries Arrive in Saudi Arabia from Sudan

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South Asia

Islamic Emirate Officials Deny the Accusations ofan Intelligence Officer at Limits of Freedom and Independence

Over 200 Afghan Refugees Return Home From Pakistan

Taliban FM to meet Pakistan, China foreign ministers: Media

No Magic Solution to the Afghan Crisis, Says Swiss UN Envoy

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/us-secret-jersey-muslim-mayor-eid/d/129685

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US Secret Service Blocked New Jersey Muslim Mayor from White House Eid Celebration

 

President Joe Biden speaks during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 1, 2023, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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May 02, 2023

US President Joe Biden hosted a reception to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, at the White House, in Washington. (Reuters)

Shortly before Mayor Mohamed Khairullah was set to arrive at the White House for the Eid-al-Fitr celebration, he received a call from the White House stating that he had not been cleared for entry by the Secret Service and could not attend the celebration where Biden delivered remarks to hundreds of guests, according to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

US Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that Khairullah was not allowed into the White House complex, but declined to detail why. Khairullah was elected to a fifth term as the borough's mayor in January.

“While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, the mayor was not allowed to enter the White House complex this evening,” Guglielmi said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to comment further on the specific protective means and methods used to conduct our security operations at the White House.”

Selaedin Maksut, CAIR-NJ executive director, called the move “wholly unacceptable and insulting.”

"If these such incidents are happening to high-profile and well-respected American-Muslim figures like Mayor Khairullah, this then begs the question: what is happening to Muslims who do not have the access and visibility that the mayor has?” Maksut said.

Khairullah, who has previously done humanitarian work in Syria and Bangladesh, was previously stopped by authorities and interrogated at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for three hours and questioned about whether he knew any terrorists, according to Dina Sayedahmed, a spokesman for CAIR-NJ.

The group said Khairullah helped the New Jersey Democratic Party compile names of local Muslim leaders to invite to the White House Eid celebration and over the weekend was a guest at an event at the New Jersey governor's mansion.

The White House declined to comment.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/new-jersey-muslim-mayor-blocked-from-white-house-eid-celebration-101682994267187.html

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Iranians, In a Rally in London, Urge Britain to Declare Revolutionary Guard a Terrorist Organization

 

FILE - British-Iranian activist Vahid Beheshti sits in London, April 10, 2023. Behishti been on a hunger strike for 66 days, calling on the U.K. to recognize the IRGC as a terrorist group. Thousands of Iranians rallied in London on Saturday to make the same case.

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April 29, 2023

Thousands of Iranians participated in a rally in London on Saturday and asked Britain to declare the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization.

According to the videos received by Voice of America, the protesters chanted against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranians who oppose the Islamic Republic of Iran had called for the protest rally weeks ago.

Alireza Akhondi, an Iranian-born member of the Swedish Parliament, said on Friday that he would participate in "the big demonstration in London to convince Britain and the countries of the European Union to take the final steps toward weakening the Islamist regime in Iran, including the classification of IRGC as a terrorist organization."

The Association of Families of Flight PS752 victims has also asked the international community to hold the IRGC "accountable for its crimes."

The association was formed after the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane on January 8, 2020, minutes after it took off from Tehran's international airport, by two IRGC missiles. All 176 crew members and passengers, most of whom were Iranians with dual citizenship in Canada, were killed.

In January, when the European Parliament called for the IRGC to be put on the EU's terrorist list, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the vote was "against international law and the charter of the United Nations" and a "desperate move," the official IRNA news agency said. Raisi said the IRGC is an official body and part of Iran's military.

Hunger strike

Vahid Beheshti, a human rights activist born and raised in Iran, has been on a hunger strike for 66 days in front of the British government's Foreign Office calling on the U.K. to recognize the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Beheshti was arrested twice by the IRGC before he fled Iran 24 years ago.

He met earlier this week with Tariq Ahmad, minister of state for the Middle East, and afterward announced Ahmad's support for adding the name of the IRGC to the terrorist list.

In an interview Tuesday with Panah Farhadbahman, an independent journalist reporting for Voice of America in London, Beheshti said that Ahmad promised to raise his request with the senior officials of the country.

125 lawmakers back plea

On Wednesday, 125 members of the British Parliament signed a letter to the prime minister backing an Iranian activist's plea for the IRGC to be proscribed as a terror organization.

The United States, which previously declared the IRGC a terrorist organization, on Thursday announced sanctions against the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards and its senior officials for their role in the wrongful detention and hostage-taking of Americans.

Source: voanews.com

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https://www.voanews.com/a/iranians-rally-in-london-urging-britain-to-declare-islamic-revolutionary-guard-a-terrorist-organization/7071916.html

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Man Claiming To Be Prophet Opens Fire at Indonesian Ulema Council HQ, Dies Following Arrest

 

Shattered glass at the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) HQ in Jakarta from a shooting in the morning of May 2, 2023. Photo: Handout

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May 2, 2023

A man has died after he attacked the headquarters of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Central Jakarta this morning, police confirmed.

According to MUI Deputy Chairman Anwar Abbas, the assailant arrived at the HQ this morning claiming to be a prophet and demanding to speak with MUI Chairman Miftachul Akhyar. Anwar said the man had visited the HQ demanding to see Miftachul on one other occasion before.

“[Staff] told him to wait on the fourth floor as the executives were in a meeting. Maybe he got impatient and began shooting,” Anwar said.

At least two employees were injured in the shooting – one was shot in the back while another was hurt by shards after the assailant shot at a window.

Police said the suspect used an airsoft gun to carry out the attack.

Central Jakarta Police Chief Grand Commissioner Komarudin said the suspect is deceased.

Police have not disclosed the suspect’s identity nor his cause of death.

A video that has been circulating online shows security personnel apprehending the suspect, who appeared to have been badly beaten and lost consciousness at the time of capture

This is a developing story and may be updated without prior notice.

Source: coconuts.co

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https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/man-claiming-to-be-prophet-opens-fire-at-mui-hq-dies-following-arrest/

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Family Court Can Consider Muslim Unmarried Daughter's Claim for Maintenance under Personal Law If Found Ineligible U/S 125 CrPC: Kerala HC

 

 

MAY 01, 2023

The Kerala High Court recently ruled that to avoid multiplicity of proceedings, if an unmarried major Muslim daughter is found not entitled to maintenance from her father under section 125 of CrPC, the family court can entertain her claim under Muslim Personal Law without forcing her to file a fresh claim.

The bench of Justice Alexander Thomas and Justice Ziyad Rahman AA referred to a three-judge bench decision of the Supreme Court in Jagdish Jugtawat’s case (2002) as well as the decision in Abhilasha’s case (2020) where the top court held that even if a claim under section 125 of the CrPC is liable to be repelled and if the claim is otherwise maintainable under the Personal Law, as enunciated in the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, etc, then to avoid multiplicity of proceedings, the family court can consider the latter claim, even if it is bound to dismiss the former claim.

The HC opined that the approach taken by the apex court was clearly to the effect that a hyper-technical approach need not be resorted to in matters related to maintenance claims. “And if the claim is otherwise maintainable, then the Family Court, which has jurisdiction in that regard, can entertain such claims, without having to drive the litigant to file a fresh claim," the court said.

The judges, however, said, “Of course, this option is available only where the claim is made before the Family Court, since the Family Court will have jurisdiction to consider claims not only under Sec.125 of the CrPC, but also claims as in the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act as well as Muslim Personal Law, etc."

The division bench was dealing with a plea filed by a Muslim father to quash the order passed by the family court directing him to pay interim maintenance at the rate of Rs 4,000 per month to his 20-year-old unmarried daughter. The man and his wife had separated.

The matter had been referred to the division bench by a single-judge bench of the high court, who had found a conflict of views in two HC division bench decisions.

As per the reference order, in the decision in Cholamarakkar & Anr. v. Pathummamma @ Pathumma & Anr. [2008], it was held by a division bench that a major Muslim unmarried daughter can claim maintenance from her father in terms of section 125 of the CrPC only if her inability to maintain herself is attributable to physical or mental abnormality or injury.

However, as per another division bench decision in Yousaf v. Rubeena [2010], a Muslim father, who has sufficient means to pay maintenance, has the liability under Muslim Personal Law to pay maintenance to his major unmarried daughter when she is not able to maintain herself. In that decision, it was also held that the statutory provisions in section 25 of the CrPC, which is a piece of secular law, applicable to all communities, would not, in any manner, extinguish, alter, modify, or obliterate the liability under the Muslim Personal Law.

The present division bench opined that technically, there was no conflict of views in the decisions of the two division benches as Cholamarakkar’s case was in relation to a claim under section 125 of the CrPC, and Yousaf’s case was a claim in relation to Muslim Personal Law.

The court held that the crucial aspect that needed to be considered here was relating to the avoidance of multiplicity of proceedings.

Therefore, in answer to the reference issue in the present matter, the HC held that for a major unmarried Muslim daughter, who is not suffering from any physical or mental abnormality or injury, as envisaged in clause (c) of sub-section 1 of section 125 of the CrPC, a claim made before the family court under section 125, CrPC, will not be maintainable. However, in case, she appears to be otherwise eligible for maintenance, in terms of Muslim Personal Law, then the family court need not drive her to file a fresh claim.

Further, regarding the case at hand, the court reduced the amount of the interim maintenance to be given to the daughter to Rs 2,000 per month.

Source: news18.com

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https://www.news18.com/india/family-court-can-consider-muslim-unmarried-daughters-claim-for-maintenance-under-personal-law-if-found-ineligible-us-125-crpc-kerala-hc-7691113.html

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Al Jama-Ah Proposes Bill for the Constitutional Recognition on Muslim Marriages

 

Al Jama-ah president Ganief Hendricks. Picture: Facebook/ganief.hendricks

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02 May 2023

CAPE TOWN - Al Jama-Ah leader and Member of Parliament Ganief Hendricks says he hopes Parliament will accept the proposed registration of Muslim marriages bill drafted by his party.

Hendricks also wants the Home Affairs Department to implement a constitutional ruling and amend a circular that will enable the department to recognise Muslim marriages.

Hendricks is expected to table the proposed bill in front of the home affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday.

The government earlier appealed a 2018 order by the Western Cape High Court to pass legislation recognising Muslim marriages.

Also read: Party won't rest until registration of Muslim marriages Bill passed - Al Jama-Ah

In June last year, the Constitutional Court handed a judgement recognising the validity of Muslim marriages.

The court gave Parliament a June 2024 deadline to adjust the legislation however, it has dragged its feet.

Hendricks said his party won't rest until Parliament passes the bill into law.

"And we hope that the wisdom of Solomon will prevail and that they will support both options and that the department of home affairs that their position will be rejected by parliament."

Source: ewn.co.za

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https://ewn.co.za/2023/05/02/al-jama-ah-proposes-bill-for-the-constitutional-recognition-on-muslim-marriages

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 North America

 US engaged in counterterror whack-a-mole 12 years after bin Laden raid

Michael Hernandez

01.05.2023

The helicopters moved swiftly, flying low and fast as they crossed the Afghan border on their way to Abbottabad, Pakistan, the home of the country’s premier military academy.

The target that night was one that had eluded the US for a decade: Osama bin Laden. The al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was holed up in a compound less than a mile (kilometer) from the Pakistan Military Academy.

The pair of US helicopters that covertly flew into Pakistani airspace 12 years ago were carrying a team of elite Navy SEALs who entered the complex where bin Laden had been hiding for years, killed him, and departed the scene, his body in tow.

News of bin Laden’s death spread rapidly that night, sending throngs of jubilant Americans down Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue as they gathered at the White House to celebrate the death of the man who had orchestrated the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor.

The victory was nothing short of monumental. It was, however, short-lived.

Rise of Daesh/ISIS changed counterterror landscape

Just two years later, a new threat would emerge out of al-Qaeda’s Iraq branch that would eclipse its progenitor in scope and brutality. Daesh/ISIS grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, adopting the moniker that would eventually gain global notoriety in 2014 when leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of his “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

Daesh/ISIS would claim victories only dreamt of by al-Qaeda, seizing vast stretches of territory that spanned the heart of the Middle East. At its height, the terror group controlled roughly one-third of Syria and 40% of Iraq amid widespread instability, claiming major cities including Mosul and Raqqa and bringing with it an iron-fisted fundamentalist rule that attracted people from around the world.

Its gruesome violence was spread around the world with videos of human immolation and beheadings circulating on the internet. It later directed and inspired vicious terror attacks that killed innocents in London, Paris, Istanbul, New York City, and Orlando, Florida.

The US-led coalition would claim victory in erasing the terror group’s territorial holdings in 2019, the same year the US killed Baghdadi, the man whose name was synonymous with the terror group’s heinous violence, slavery, and mass rape.

That operation had no shortage of parallels with the one that killed bin Laden, including US special forces being covertly flown into hostile territory. Their target was yet another complex, this time nearly 5,000 miles (8,046 kilometers) from Abbottabad in northwestern Syria's Idlib province.

As US forces closed in, Baghdadi fled into tunnels where, rather than risk capture, he detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children.

His death and the rollback of Daesh/ISIS’ territorial holdings were yet more major milestones in the US’ global countertenor operations, but the terror group continues to plot attacks in the region and beyond with local branches and sleeper cells operating in the Middle East, Africa, and South and Central Asia.

Afghanistan withdrawal further complicates efforts

If bin Laden’s 2011 death and Baghdadi’s eight years later marked significant victories for the global counterterrorism effort, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 has posed the most glaring open question.

The US quickly left Afghanistan in August 2021, ending America’s longest war as the Taliban closed in on the capital Kabul, eventually ousting the internationally recognized government and establishing a fundamentalist regime of its own that rolled back rights enjoyed for decades, particularly for women.

While it promised to ensure Afghanistan never again becomes the safe haven that allowed bin Laden to plot the 2001 terror attacks, doubts persist over whether the Taliban will or can fulfill that pledge. Daesh/ISIS’ regional branch, known as IS Khorasan Province (ISKP, or ISIS-K), remains active there, as does al-Qaeda.

US Central Command Commander Gen. Erik Kurilla told lawmakers in March that the ISKP is rapidly increasing its capabilities in Afghanistan and will be capable of striking Western targets in less than six months “with little to no warning.”

“Extremist groups see opportunity and ISIS-Khorasan grows emboldened, seeking to expand its ranks and inspire, enable, and direct attacks in the region and beyond, with the ultimate goal to strike on the American homeland,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

When the US hastily departed Afghanistan, it banked on much of its counterterror capabilities taking on what it called an “over the horizon” approach focused on intelligence collection, and military action without a physical presence in the war-torn country.

To date, however, only one major operation has occurred – the July 2022 airstrike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.

Kurilla acknowledged that following the withdrawal, the US’ ability to collect intelligence in Afghanistan took a hit, as terror groups that intend to attack the US grow in capability.

“Currently, our intelligence is degraded, since we are no longer in Afghanistan. I believe we can see the broad contours of an attack,” he said. “Sometimes we lack the granularity to see the full picture, and we're working to close that gap with our alternative airborne ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) and some of our other intelligence that we're working to penetrate into those networks.”

Part of a tranche of classified US intelligence documents recently leaked on the internet offers a similarly dire assessment.

Last December, the Pentagon was aware of nine terror attacks being plotted by Daesh/ISIS’ regional affiliate. In the next two months, that number rose to 15, The Washington Post reported, citing information contained in a classified Defense Department analysis that was disseminated on the video game-centric Discord messaging app.

“ISIS has been developing a cost-effective model for external operations that relies on resources from outside Afghanistan, operatives in target countries, and extensive facilitation networks,” the assessment said. “The model will likely enable ISIS to overcome obstacles — such as competent security services — and reduce some plot timelines, minimizing disruption opportunities.”

At the hearing where Kurilla testified, senators were quick to jump on the security threats. Many warned of the lasting implications from terror groups “emboldened” by the withdrawal.

“The disastrous withdrawal of US troops nearly two years ago left a security vacuum the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS have filled,” said Sen. Roger Wicker. “The withdrawal from Afghanistan emboldened ISIS and al-Qaeda’s affiliates around the world, not just in Afghanistan. The terrorist threat is real and growing."

But Mark Katz, a professor of government and politics at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, said Daesh/ISIS' practice of "having the maximum number of enemies” at any given time – exhibited equally now as when it held wide swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria – will likely continue to curtail the threat it can pose to the US and its Western allies.

“They’re anti-Western, but they're also anti-Russian, anti-Iranian. They’re even anti-Taliban,” increasing the number of enemies they have at any given time, he said.

The Taliban, he said, have a vested interested in maintaining their rule of Afghanistan and are wary of the blowback they would get if an international terror attack again emanates from the country.

Katz acknowledged the cozier relationship Afghanistan’s hardline rulers have with al-Qaeda but said the terror group is “a much weaker organization than it used to be.”

The Taliban meanwhile have been locked in a conflict with the ISKP since it wrested control from the former government, most recently eliminating the mastermind of the deadly 2021 suicide bombing on Kabul’s international airport that killed 13 US troops and some 150 civilians.

The death of the hitherto unnamed leader marked a major blow to the Daesh/ISIS affiliate, which the US has said "is another in a series of high-profile leadership losses ISIS-K has suffered this year."

“Will (the ISKP) be able to launch attacks further afield successfully when they're fighting the Taliban? I personally don't think so. I think it would be very hard,” said Katz. “The circumstances in which al-Qaeda was able to launch the 9/11 attacks were ones in which it did not have a hostile relationship with the Taliban.”

Asked specifically about Kurilla’s assessment, Katz said it likely has more to do with making the case before lawmakers of Central Command’s importance at a time when the US focus is increasingly shifting towards great power competition with China and Russia.

The threat posed by subnational terror groups, he said, “seems to be way down on the list of threats.”

“In other words, whatever they do, it can't be nearly as bad as what the Russians or the Chinese could do. And so those are the threats that seem to be getting attention. And I guess he's just, you know, trying to get a bit of his own share of the bureaucratic turf war that’s taking place,” he said.

Source: aa.com.tr

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-engaged-in-counterterror-whack-a-mole-12-years-after-bin-laden-raid/2885766#

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Federal charges, commitment orders detail mosque arson suspect's troubled past

MAY 1, 2023

Minnesota Muslim leaders made their way to view the damage to Masjid Al Rahma mosque last week before a news conference related to the recent arson in the Bloomington Avenue mosque.

A man charged with setting fires in two Minneapolis mosques last week has a track record of violent behavior as a result of his untreated mental illness, court records show.

Jackie Rahm Little made his first appearance Monday in federal court, where he faces one count of arson in connection with the fires at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center and Masjid Al Rahma mosque. He was arrested in Mankato late Saturday.

Little also faces a state arson charge in the Masjid Al Rahma fire.

The federal criminal complaint filed Monday does not discuss a suspected motive. But the complaint and documents for Little's recent commitments to hospitals describe him as often being a threat to others.

"As a consequence of his mental illness, [Little] engages in grossly disturbed behavior or experiences faulty perceptions, and due to this impairment, he poses a substantial likelihood of causing physical harm," court officials wrote in an April 2021 civil commitment order.

Little's mother told investigators last week that her son had a fascination with fire from a young age, the federal complaint says. She "strongly suspects" Little was responsible for several unreported arson cases in which he requested rides to and from locations.

Little suffers from a bipolar disorder that "grossly" impairs his judgment, behavior and ability to recognize reality, according to the 2021 order. While hospitalized at Mayo Clinic, he allegedly threw a remote control at another patient and said he could have killed him "if I wanted to."

One of his doctors reported Little rarely followed through with obtaining treatment, and that his violent behavior has required seclusion to ensure others' safety.

Little's attorney did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

The two arson attacks are not the first time he has been accused of targeting Muslims.

While in a transitional housing program, Little "extensively harassed" a Muslim woman, his mother told investigators. The woman alleges Little sent her a photo of the Qur'an in a toilet.

In late December, a similar photo was emailed to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, allegedly by Little, federal investigators wrote.

On Jan. 5, Little allegedly went to Omar's Minneapolis office and spray-painted "500" outside the office door, and did the same on a Minneapolis police car driven by a Somali officer and on a door to the 24 Somali Mall on E. 24th Street a few hours later. "The meaning of the '500' text is unclear," investigators wrote in the complaint.

In a statement, Omar thanked the various agencies for arresting Little and voiced confidence that the Minnesota Muslim community would "continue to stand united against bigotry."

"We are witnessing an epidemic of hate against the Muslim community and other religious minorities in Minnesota and globally right now," Omar said.

Aside from the two arsons, Little is accused of burning a former neighbor's car in 2021. Little was released on cash bail paid by the Minnesota Freedom Fund, according to court records.

The organization is a Minneapolis nonprofit that pays bail for people who can't afford it and seeks to end cash bail. The organization came under fire by many on social media, saying it was irresponsible to assist Little with bail and that the group should be held responsible.

In response to questions, the organization did not directly discuss posting bail or Little's charges, but said it had reached out to the Muslim community in solidarity. The group condemned harm against "all people in our community, especially harm that is based on identity," and defended its work.

"Our evaluation process is holistic and prioritizes support for people who lack other avenues to vindicate their legal rights — including people experiencing mental health challenges, for whom pre-trial release is often the only way to access needed treatment."

Plymouth police told federal investigators that Little was suspected in at least two arsons, one in May 2022 and one in December 2021, and had a history of domestic assault.

Little's next federal court appearance is set for Thursday.

Source: startribune.com

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https://www.startribune.com/federal-charges-commitment-orders-detail-mosque-arson-suspects-troubled-past/600271616/

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CAIR-NJ Condemns Secret Service for Baselessly Banning NJ’s Longest Serving Muslim Mayor from White House Eid Event

May 1, 2023

Ismail Allison

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 5/1/2023) —The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today condemned the United States Secret Service’s perceived profiling of New Jersey’s longest-serving Muslim mayor, Mohamed T. Khairullah of Prospect Park, and the revocation of his invitation to the White House Eid celebration. 

Khairullah, who was sworn into his fifth consecutive mayoral term in January, had helped the New Jersey Democratic Party compile names of local Muslim leadership to invite to the White House’s annual Eid celebration.  

Moments before he was set to arrive at the White House for the annual Eid celebration, he received a call stating that because he had not been cleared for entry, his invitation to the White House Eid celebration was effectively revoked. 

SEE: ‘Biases can be melted.’ Muslim mayor to be sworn in for unprecedented 5th term. 

SEE: CAIR-NJ to Join Community Members at Swearing-In Ceremony of New Jersey’s Longest-Serving Muslim Mayor 

In a statement, CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut, said:  

“That a well-respected Muslim leader would effectively be disinvited from the White House Eid celebration, just hours ahead of time, is wholly unacceptable and insulting. 

“Only months ago, Khairullah was praised by elected officials across the state as one of the longest serving Muslim mayors in the country, and the longest in New Jersey. Today, in an affront to the Muslim community and the American public at large, and in what could be perceived as a continued use of the secret watchlist, the Secret Service denied Mayor Khairullah entry, on the basis that he was not cleared by security. 

“This incident lacks transparency and reeks of government overreach. We call on the White House to override the Secret Service and reinstate the mayor’s invitation, disband the secret watchlist, and issue an apology to the Mayor. If these such incidents are happening to high-profile and well-respected American-Muslim figures like Mayor Khairullah, this then begs the question: what is happening to Muslims who do not have the access and visibility that the mayor has?” 

Maksut also noted that Mayor Khairullah was previously stopped and interrogated at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York for three hours and questioned about whether he knew any terrorists. He was also forced to hand over his phone. 

This past weekend, Mayor Khairullah was among New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s distinguished guests at the governor’s mansion in Princeton, New Jersey.  

SEE: ‘Did you meet with terrorists?’ NJ mayor says officers questioned him at airport, took his phone 

CAIR has previously today called on the Biden administration to suspend the FBI’s dissemination of two of their secret lists, which leaked copies show to be “almost entirely lists of Arabic and Muslim names.”   

SEE: CAIR Urges FBI to Stop Distributing Secret Terror Watchlists After Leaks Show ‘Almost Entirely Lists of Arabic and Muslim Names’ 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.            

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.           

END 

Source: cair.com

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https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-nj-condemns-secret-service-for-baselessly-banning-njs-longest-serving-muslim-mayor-from-white-house-eid-event/

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US does not confirm Turkey’s claim of killing Islamic State leader in Syria

ANKARA — Washington said on Monday it could not confirm Turkey's claim to have launched a military operation that killed leader of the Islamic State in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that his country killed the leader of the Islamist militant group in Syria, identifying him as Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi. “This individual was neutralized in Syria yesterday by an operation carried out by our intelligence agency,” he said during a live interview, adding that the militant leader had been under surveillance by Turkish intelligence for a long time.

The United States, which is leading an international military coalition against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, has not confirmed Erdogan’s claim that the IS leader had been killed. “We are unable to confirm this. Furthermore, we have no information that would support this claim," a US official told Al-Monitor via email.

There was no confirmation from the militant group either.

Yet, citing unidentified security sources, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency reported on Monday that Qurashi was killed after a four-hour-long raid carried out at his hideout in the northern Syrian town of Jindires near Afrin countryside on April 29. The region, which remains under the control of the Turkish-backed armed Syrian opposition groups, is less than 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Turkish border.

Turkish special operations units first blasted the walls of the compound surrounding Qurashi’s hideout, Anadolu reported. Qurashi blew himself up by detonating a suicide vest after the unit broached the hideout’s entrance and rear walls, according to the report, which read that there were no Turkish casualties.

Farhad Shami, spokesperson for the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, claimed that the radical jihadi group’s leader had been under the protection of the armed Syrian opposition group Ahrar al-Sharqiya. The group operates under the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army.

Turkey considers SDF a terror group and equates it with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the armed outfit designated as a terrorist group over its decades-long separatist campaign in Turkey. Washington also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but it has allied with the Kurdish-led SDF as part of the international campaign to defeat the IS in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey, which backs Sunni Syrian rebels fighting to oust Assad, controls a large chunk of territory in northern Syria and has carried out three ground incursions in Syria against the SDF.

The Turkish military operations drew strong criticism from the US-led international coalition that the incursions risk unleashing a jihadist resurgence by the Islamic State group.

Speaking late Sunday, Erdogan said his country would continue its fight against terrorist organizations “without discriminating against any of them.”

The timing of the killing coincided with Erdogan's election campaign, with Turkey’s fateful parliamentary and presidential polls merely two weeks away.

Source: al-monitor.com

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https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/05/us-does-not-confirm-turkeys-claim-killing-islamic-state-leader-syria

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Sen. Juan Mendez, Arizona Muslim Alliance propose Arizona Office for New Americans

May 1, 2023

Jeremy Yurow

PHOENIX – Arizona state Sen. Juan Mendez and the Arizona Muslim Alliance have joined forces to propose an Office for New Americans in Arizona, similar to ones in 13 other states that help immigrants assimilate into the U.S. The initiative is meant to improve immigrant rights and services by providing a centralized location for resources such as language classes and resettlement assistance.

“I’ve moved all across America and I understand what it’s like to start your life over again,” said Mendez, a Tempe Democrat. “I know what it feels like to be alone to have to navigate all different kinds of services that are already provided to people.”

Mendez and his wife, Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, come from families of immigrants. Mendez’s parents immigrated from Mexico while Salman’s mother is from Mexico and her father is from Palestine.

Mendez said he has been working on the bill for years and is collaborating with the Muslim community, which he said is well-organized and has experience establishing similar offices in other states.

“It was through the Muslim community that I met the first person who’s actually worked in this area, who’s helped establish these similar offices in other states,” he said. “So once we got connected through the Muslim community, then it felt like, ‘Oh, I can actually do something real.’”

The senator noted that he is not trying to create anything new, but is seeking to centralize services that already exist and make them more accessible.

Susan Bassal, the secretary of the Arizona Muslim Alliance, said the Office for New Americans could be particularly helpful for Afghan refugees who fled to the United States after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021. Bassal, an attorney, explained that the alliance had previously established a refugee task force to coordinate relief efforts and provide assistance to refugees, which could serve as a model for the proposed office’s work.

“(The task force allowed) these relief organizations that were already existing to work together,” Bassal said. “They’ve been able to provide everything from job training to English lessons.”

Bassal suggested that an Office for New Americans in Arizona could provide one-stop shopping for programs such as the International Rescue Committee and Arizona Immigrant and Refugee Services. The IRC provides job training, language instruction and assistance with basic needs like housing, while also helping refugees and immigrants navigate the U.S. immigration system and advocating for their rights. AIRS offers a wide range of services to immigrants and refugees, including legal assistance, language instruction, job training, health care navigation, case management and community integration support.

Mendez said he would like to propose the bill at the beginning of the next legislative session. However, he is unsure how the Republican majority will respond.

“Statewide, Arizona has a pretty good record or reputation of taking in immigrants compared to other states,” Mendez said. “This is the kind of issue where it could be bipartisan. This doesn’t necessarily have to be like a progressive issue. We want everybody to have a chance at success in Arizona.”

If Arizonans want an example of how an Office for New Americans could operate in their state, they don’t need to look far: Nevada lawmakers established one in 2019. Charina de Asis, the executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office for New Americans, said it has enhanced “the success, integration and inclusion of immigrant and refugee families in the state.”

The office helps immigrants navigate the complexities of state government by offering programs that cater to the specific needs of immigrants and refugees in Nevada. For instance, the Nevada Initiative for Language Access ensures that state government is accessible to those with limited English, and its Skilled Immigrant Integration Program helps communities find ways to include immigrants and refugees in the workforce.

The office provides support to independent refugee resettlement agencies during crises such as the Afghan humanitarian crisis, when it worked with a county and a state college to find temporary housing for refugees coming to the state. It also connects immigrants and refugees to community resources, including affordable housing and small-business assistance.

De Asis said immigrants and refugees face similar challenges, no matter which state they live in.

“(This includes) language barriers, lack of social network and employment opportunities, access to health care and education, and experiences of prejudice and differences in culture,” she said. “Having an office like ONA helps make tackling these challenges a little bit easier.”

Mendez said his office is investigating whether Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs can establish and administer such an office without legislative approval. Cronkite News reached out to the governor’s office for comment but has not received a reply.

In Michigan, then-Gov.Rick Snyder, a Republican, used his executive power to establish an Office for New Americans in 2014. At the time, the GOP controlled the Michigan State House and Senate.

Azza Abuseif, executive director for Arizona’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she met with Hobbs on Jan. 31 and they discussed ways to work together to support the Muslim and immigrant communities. She said she believes that Hobbs might be open to establishing an Office for New Americans in the state.

“It’s something very important to establish that office, ” Abuseif said. “I’m a refugee myself, so having something like that would have been so helpful for both my parents when they came here to have that sort of support from community members and community organizations.”

Source: cronkitenews.azpbs.org

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https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2023/05/01/arizona-muslim-alliance-juan-mendez-partner-improve-immigrant-services/

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NJ Will Celebrate Its First 'Muslim Heritage Month' In 2024

May 1, 2023

NEW JERSEY — There is now a “Muslim Heritage Month” in the Garden State.

Last weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a joint resolution, SJR105/AJR194, which names the month of January as “Muslim Heritage Month” in New Jersey. The designation aims to “promote awareness and appreciation of the many contributions of the state’s Muslim community.”

New Jersey has the highest percentage of Muslim residents in the nation.

The bipartisan legislation passed a vote in the New Jersey Assembly in April after clearing the Senate in February. Democratic and Republican lawmakers on both sides of the aisle unanimously supported the bill in both chambers. Read More: NJ Bill That Would Create 'Muslim Heritage Month' Leaps Forward

Murphy signed the legislation at an Eid celebration at the governor’s mansion on Saturday, marking the end of Ramadan, one of Islam’s most important holidays.

“New Jersey takes great pride in its diversity and we will continue to recognize and celebrate the positive impact Muslims have made, and continue to make, to the advancement of this state,” Murphy said.

Primary sponsors of SJR105/AJR194 include Senators Joe Pennacchio and Brian Stack, and Assemblymembers Angela McKnight, Shanique Speight and Annette Chaparro.

Pennacchio, a Republican from the state’s 26th District, pointed out that there are nearly 300,000 Muslim Americans in New Jersey.

“It is long past time to recognize our Muslim brothers and sisters for their contributions to the diverse fabric of New Jersey,” Pennacchio said.

Zainab Syed, president of American Muslims for Democracy – one of the organizations that pushed for the creation of New Jersey’s Muslim Heritage Month – said the state will be the fourth in the U.S. to recognize the American Muslim legacy.

“As a state that has the highest percentage of Muslims in the nation, we are overjoyed to have a month that celebrates and recognizes our community in a positive light and hope that this recognition further pushes the engagement of the Muslim community in society,” Syed said.

Other praise for the designation came from:

S. Nadia Hussain, co-founder of BAWDI – “The Muslim American community is a diverse and vibrant part of the multicultural tapestry that is New Jersey. The designation of January in celebration of Muslim heritage is wonderful way to educate and enrich the cultural knowledge of all New Jersey residents while celebrating the contributions Muslim Americans have made and continue to make to our great state.”

CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut – “This is a historic moment. For too long, we’ve seen damaging and irresponsible depictions of Muslims. These narratives have tangible consequences, but now, we will be seeing the counter and, hopefully soon, prevailing narrative: One that highlights, celebrates, and acknowledges the American Muslim community in New Jersey. We are happy to take this small step towards pushing back against anti-Muslim bigotry, and we are excited for what’s to come. We also want to thank the governor and his administration for their support of this resolution."

Jessica Berrocal, president and founder of NJ Sisterhood – “This is a significant step towards promoting tolerance and acceptance among communities, and it serves as a reminder that discrimination and hate have no place in New Jersey … It is crucial that we acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the Muslim community to our state's diverse heritage. Muslim Heritage Month not only recognizes the rich cultural contributions of Muslims but also creates an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of the religion, customs, and traditions. Additionally, it is crucial that we protect the rights of Muslim children and ensure that they can express their religious identity without fear of discrimination or bullying. By advocating for inclusivity and raising awareness around Muslim Heritage Month, we can foster a more welcoming and accepting environment for all children … We hope that other states will follow and implement similar initiatives to promote mutual respect and understanding among all people.”

There have been some major victories for the Muslim community in New Jersey in the recent past, according to CAIR-NJ:

Despite these gains, anti-Muslim incidents are on the rise, the group added.

“CAIR-NJ received over 150 calls for help in 2022 alone,” spokespeople said. “This resolution seeks to push back against anti-Muslim bigotry by celebrating American Muslims and shedding a positive light on the community.”

Shaheen Khateeb, a member of the Indian American Muslim Council, echoed this concern in December after the bills were introduced in the Legislature.

“After Muslim communities across New Jersey – from Edison to Teaneck, to Woodridge – became the target of hateful displays and intimidation, we see the designation of Muslim Heritage Month as a major step towards combatting hate and making a marginalized group feel seen and heard,” Khateeb said.

Source: patch.com

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Europe

 

German chancellor speaks out on Ukrainian strikes inside Russia

2 May, 2023

Germany is not allowing Ukraine to target Russian territory with weapons that Berlin has supplied to Kiev amid the conflict with Moscow, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

The German government is refraining from any unilateral steps when it comes to arming the government of Vladimir Zelensky, and is only acting in coordination with allies, Scholz stressed during a meeting with citizens in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Monday. Berlin intends to stick to that policy in the future, he added.

“It’s important for us that weapons that we supply for Ukraine to defend itself aren’t used in attacks on the Russian territory,” the chancellor said.

While assisting Kiev with arms, including Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Berlin is also doing everything to avoid an escalation that could lead to a direct clash between NATO and Moscow, Scholz stressed.

Last month, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius argued that it was “fully normal” for Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russia to “cut supply routes” and for other military reasons. He stressed that civilians should not be targeted in those attacks. Pistorius also said nothing about the origins of weapons that can be used by Kiev in such operations.

Since the start of the conflict in February 2022, the Russian regions of Bryansk, Belgorod and Kursk, all of which border Ukraine, have been the targets of numerous drone and missile attacks by Kiev’s forces. The strikes have been directed against energy infrastructure and residential areas, resulting in several civilian deaths and many injuries, and the destruction of property.

One of the deadliest cross-border attacks took place in Bryansk Region on Sunday, with the shelling of the village of Suzemka from a multiple rocket launch system leaving four civilians dead and two others wounded.

Moscow has long been warning that it considers the use of Western-supplied weapons by Ukraine for attacks inside Russian territory “a red line.” Russia also argued that the crisis in Ukraine is actually a “proxy war” waged against it by NATO. According to Moscow, the assistance provided to Kiev by the US, UK, Germany and their allies, including the supply of arms and ammunition, training for Ukrainian troops, and intelligence sharing, has de facto made those nations parties to the conflict.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/russia/575631-germany-ukraine-weapons-scholz/

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EU’s largest economy can’t do without China – leading carmaker

1 May, 2023

Cutting ties with China would put most of Germany’s industry at risk, the CEO of luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz warned on Sunday.

Ola Kaellenius was interviewed by newspaper Bild am Sonntag after returning from a business trip to China, the German manufacturer’s largest and the most important market.

There have been growing concerns in Germany and the EU as a whole about the region’s economic dependence on China, which is one of its leading trading partners and the top supplier of raw materials critical for green transition.

“The major players in the global economy – Europe, the USA and China – are so closely intertwined that disengaging from China makes no sense,” Kaellenius said. “Decoupling from China is an illusion, and also not desirable,” he added.

China has the largest car market in the world, and German carmakers are heavily dependent on it. Mercedes-Benz’s main shareholders are the Chinese BAIC Group and Geely Chairman Li Shufu. In 2022, China accounted for 18% of revenues and 37% of car sales at Mercedes-Benz, according to Reuters.

When asked whether it would be conceivable for Mercedes-Benz to discontinue its business in China, should political tensions around Taiwan escalate as occurred with Russia after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, the Mercedes-Benz boss replied: “That would be unthinkable for almost the entire German industry.”

Europe depends on China for 98% of its rare-earth elements, which are used in wind-power generation, hydrogen storage, and batteries. It also gets 97% of its lithium for batteries from the country. China has a dominant position in processing rare earths, with roughly 60% of the world’s lithium refined in the east Asian country. The EU also gets 80% of its solar panels from China.

German industry has to become “more resilient” and “more independent of individual countries,” for example when it comes to lithium batteries, Kaellenius said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last month that it was not viable for the bloc to decouple from China, but it needed to reduce risk and “rebalance” its economic ties.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/business/575604-mercedes-benz-china-decoupling-unthinkable/

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Southeast Asia

 

Sultan of Selangor receives RM56m allocation for allowances of imams, religious staff

02-05- 2023

KLANG: Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah today graced the ceremony for the handing over of an RM56 million allocation from the Federal Government for the allowances for imams and other religious staff including Al-Quran And Fardhu Ain (KAFA) teachers in Selangor for this year.

A mock cheque was presented by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar to the Sultan of Selangor at the ceremony held at Istana Alam Shah, here.

The sultan’s private secretary Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani in a statement said His Royal Highness thanked the Federal government for providing the allocation.

Mohamad Munir said previously, the allowance payments for imams, ‘bilal’, ‘siak’, takmir and KAFA teachers for states were sent to the Menteri Besar.

“However, when the chairmanship of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) (which was previously held by the prime minister) was taken over by the Ruler, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) coordinated the delivery of allowances for imams, bilal, siak, takmir teachers and KAFA teachers to the states through the respective Rulers as the Head of Islamic Religion, to be channelled to the state’s Islamic Religious Department,“ he said.

He said it was hoped that the latest method of handing over the funds for allowances would smoothen the process and avoid it from being politicised.

Earlier, Mohd Na’im in his speech at the ceremony said the Federal government had allocated a total of RM56,412,369.60 to Selangor for this year, and the funds would be channelled to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department through Jakim.

He said the allocation covered the remuneration for 752 imams at the rate of RM850 per month and the allowance of takmir teachers at the rate of RM900 per month involving 242 teachers.

The allocation also includes a special one-off payment of RM600 and a Social Security Organisation (Socso) contribution of RM232.80 per year for a total of 2,482 individuals comprising imams, bilal, siak and takmir teachers.

The provision also involves an allowance payment of RM1,261.35 per month as well as a special one-off payment of RM600 to 2,800 KAFA teachers. – Bernama

Source: thesundaily.my

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https://www.thesundaily.my/local/sultan-of-selangor-receives-rm56m-allocation-for-allowances-of-imams-religious-staff-GK10924345

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Mohd Fauzi appointed new Subang Jaya mayor

Tuesday, 02 May 2023

SUBANG Jaya City Council (MBSJ) has appointed Mohd Fauzi Mohd Yatim (pic) as its new mayor, effective Tuesday (May 2).

The position had been left vacant for three months.

Prior to his appointment as MBSJ’s mayor, the 56-year-old, who hails from Terengganu, was the former Ampang Jaya Municipal Council’s (MPAJ) president and Sepang Municipal Council’s (MPSepang) president.

Previously, Mohd Fauzi also served as Hulu Selangor district officer (2015-2019) and Gombak district chief assistant officer from 2011 to 2016.

Mohd Fauzi also holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) from Universiti Sains Malaysia and a Diploma in Public Management from the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan).

He also served as the chief assistant secretary of the corporate division of the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT).

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Source: thestar.com.my

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https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2023/05/02/mohd-fauzi-appointed-new-subang-jaya-mayor

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Anwar proclaimed president of Malaysian Scouts Association

Tuesday, 02 May 2023

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was proclaimed "Presiden Agung" (president) of the Malaysian Scouts Association on Tuesday (May 2).

Acting National Chief Scout cum National Chief Scout Commissioner Maj Gen (R) Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Zin Bidin made the proclamation at the Prime Minister’s Office here.

At the same event, Anwar was also conferred the association’s highest award, the Anugerah Bintang Semangat Padi Emas, which is an exclusive award bestowed only on national and state leaders.

Also present were National Scout Council deputy president Datuk Ahmad Shazily Ismail Bakti and treasurer Tan Sri Abdullah Taib.

Mohd Zin said the proclamation can take the association’s image to greater heights and strengthen its role as the largest informal educational organisation in the country.

"It is also hoped that the proclamation will lure more youths at university and school levels to join the scout association as we already have a solid training system,” he said. – Bernama

Source: thestar.com.my

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https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/05/02/anwar-proclaimed-president-of-malaysian-scouts-association

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Tok Mat says hard to topple ‘unity govt’ now with anti-party hopping law in place

By Muhammad Yusry

Tuesday, 02 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan today said he does not know if anyone in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is involved in any ouster plot against the Anwar administration.

Popularly called Tok Mat, he added that even if they were, it would be difficult to do because there is now an anti-party hopping law in place that requires the affected MP to resign, which would trigger fresh elections that might not work in favour of the ouster plotters.

“It is against the anti-party hopping law. If they are involved, please resign but so far, there is no one that I know of who is going against us,” he told reporters at the Defence Ministry’s Aidilfitri celebration here this afternoon.

Mohamad, who is also BN deputy chairman, said that as far as he knows, his coalition MPs are focused on public service and have no desire to topple the government.

He said BN MPs had pledged a stable government and wanted to fulfil its election manifesto.

“The reason we joined this unity government was because we put the country first. We promised the rakyat to give them a stable government.

“Since GE14, we have been left behind as a country for five years. The country was in shambles. I urge everyone to stop politicking now that we have a functioning government. Do it for the rakyat,” he said.

The Rembau MP was asked to comment on Bersatu supreme council member Dr Faiz Na’aman’s Facebook statement yesterday claiming the Opposition coalition had 126 MPs, more than the simple majority in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat, needed to topple the federal government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Mohamad said the Anwar administration will be holding a national convention on May 14.

“The convention is not to show that the government is one big party but to show the rakyat that we are serving them,” he said.

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/02/tok-mat-says-hard-to-topple-unity-govt-now-with-anti-party-hopping-law-in-place/67337

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With little will to fight it, corruption is major risk for Indonesian palm oil

 1 May 2023

JAKARTA — The combination of weak antigraft policies, lack of transparency, revolving-door politics, and the prevalence of politically exposed persons within companies makes Indonesia’s palm oil industry highly prone to corruption, a new report says.

Published by anticorruption NGO Transparency International Indonesia (TII), the report evaluates the top 50 palm oil companies in Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil. It focuses in particular on their disclosure practices with respect to their anticorruption programs, lobbying activities, company holdings, and key financial information.

The report then scores these companies on six criteria on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being extremely not transparent and 10 being very transparent.

The report found that, on average, the 50 companies only scored 3.5 out of 10.

This means there’s a general lack of transparency in palm oil companies’ political activities and how they can interfere with government policies, according to TII program officer Bellicia Angelica. In short, any government lobbying they carry out is done without much scrutiny and monitoring, leading to policies and regulations that are favorable to them, she said.

“This should serve as a warning for the government, the private sector and civil society to regulate the management of the palm oil industry more seriously,” Bellicia said.

The highest-scoring company in the report, at 7.2, is PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART), one of the palm oil arms of Indonesia’s billionaire Widjaja family, presiding over dozens of plantations and oil-processing mills across Indonesia.

Yet even SMART’s score doesn’t necessarily reflect strong anti-corruption measures, Bellicia said: Of the 50 companies, SMART has the highest number of politically exposed persons working for it, she noted.

Akhmad Kamaluddin, a plantation researcher at environmental NGO Auriga, noted that a former vice president of SMART was caught bribing a pair of provincial legislators from Central Kalimantan in 2018. The bribes were meant to head off an investigation into the alleged pollution of a lake by palm oil processing waste and pesticides.

“So it’s very ironic,” Akhmad said. “From this one case, we can see the face of the palm oil industry in Indonesia.”

Agus Purnomo, a director at SMART, said the problem of corporate corruption plagues all industries across in Indonesia, with local officials often seeing companies operating in their jurisdictions as prime targets for extortion.

“If we become an honest actor” — that is, refuse to pay bribes — “we will become an enemy of all stakeholders, from public officials to local communities,” he told Mongabay. “If there’s a rich person, it’s obligatory to pay for various things like sports and religious events, and that’s deemed normal.”

Agus said it’s this culture of permissiveness that needs to be changed, because it nurtures corruption. He added that the government, community leaders and organization leaders should lead the change.

Before that change comes, however, companies will continue to feel like they have no option other than to comply with demands for money from stakeholders.

“People always assume that companies are evil [because] they bribe [officials] to get permits. While such cases may exist, most [companies] are afraid to say no [to extortion] because the risks are high,” Agus said. “Will you dare to say no if it’s locals who demand [money]? No, because if you do, then the road [to your company] will be blocked. If that’s the case, will you dare to clear the blockade?”

Anticorruption policies and programs

n compiling their report, researchers from TII first looked at the 50 companies’ anticorruption policies.

They found that 24 of the companies, nearly half, don’t have an anticorruption commitment that applies to all staff members, including high-level board members.

The second aspect they analyzed was whether the companies offered anticorruption training to staff. On this measure, they fared even worse: 46 of the companies don’t provide anticorruption training to all of their employees, including executives and directors.

Twenty-six companies don’t have whistleblower systems in place for employees to flag illegal or fraudulent activities anonymously without fear of retaliation. And even when a whistleblower channel was present, it didn’t necessarily protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

The report cited the case of PT Inti Indosawit Subur, a subsidiary of the Asian Agri group, controlled by the billionaire Tanoto family. In 2006, Asian Agri’s then-comptroller, Vincentius Amin Sutanto, was reported by the company to the police for allegedly embezzling $3.1 million. Vincentius then revealed to the media and the country’s anticorruption agency, the KPK, that Asian Agri, had committed tax evasion from 2002 to 2005.

Despite Inti Indosawit Subur having a whistleblower system in place that should have followed up on Vincentius’s allegation, Asian Agri pressed ahead with its criminal charges against him. Vincentius was eventually convicted in court and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2008. And in 2013, Asian Agri threatened Vincentius with a defamation lawsuit.

Asian Agri itself was in 2012 convicted of tax evasion and ordered by a court to pay $205 million in fines.

Lobbying

he TII report also assessed the extent of the 50 palm oil companies’ lobbying practices. It found 41 of them lacked responsible lobbying policies or procedures. In particular, these companies don’t forbid donating to political figures.

The report also found that 49 firms, nearly all of them, don’t publish the details of their political donations.

Irresponsible lobbying practices increase the risk of corruption as there’s no transparency in the relationship between companies and policymakers, according to TII. This could result in corrupt practices like bribing policymakers in exchange for favorable policies for the companies.

The report cited the case of PT Wilmar Nabati Indonesia, a subsidiary of Singapore-listed agribusiness giant Wilmar International. Master Parulian Tumanggor a member of its board, claimed he often attended government meetings that determined the allocation of money from the state palm oil fund.

The state fund, which is collected from export tariffs levied on palm oil producers for every shipment of crude palm oil that they sell abroad, is meant to be reinvested in the industry for farmer training, research and development, replanting aging trees with newer and more productive ones, building infrastructure, and promoting palm oil.

But most of the money collected has instead gone toward palm oil-derived biodiesel, both to subsidize producers and to artificially lower the price of biodiesel at the pump, to make it more competitive with conventional diesel. Between 2015 and 2021, the fund collected 139.17 trillion rupiah ($9.64 billion) in revenue, and handed 80% of it to biodiesel producers — and less than 5% to small farmers for a replanting program.

Wilmar is the biggest recipient of Indonesian government subsidies to biodiesel producers. In 2017, it received 55% of the total $530 million distributed by the government to five palm oil companies, or triple the amount it had paid into the fund.

“What PT Wilmar Nabati Indonesia did can be perceived as irresponsible lobbying practices,” TII said in its report.

TII’s Bellicia said there should be an investigation into the company’s role and influence in the fund’s meetings.

“This is what we have to investigate,” she said. “With Master attending those meetings, did it result in more beneficial policies to big companies, resulting in the government siding with corporations instead of people in need?”

However, Indonesia doesn’t have rules banning irresponsible lobbying practices or requiring companies to be transparent about their lobbying activities, Bellicia said.

“In our opinion, lobbying has to be regulated because it’s a doorway to corruption,” she said.

In January, Master was convicted and sentenced to one and a half years in prison for conspiring with a trade ministry official to ensure that four palm oil companies, including Wilmar, could skirt their obligations to allocate a quota for the domestic market.

“This is a concrete example of how corruption will be a never-ending problem [in Indonesia] if things like lobbying are not regulated,” Bellicia said.

Revolving door

nother aspect assessed in the TII report is the revolving-door phenomenon that sees officials in charge of regulating the industry going on to take jobs in it, and vice versa.

Government agencies typically hire industry professionals to take advantage of their private sector experience and influence within corporations. Their presence can also help governments gain political support such as donations and endorsements from private firms.

“These individuals [hired by the government] also tend to have biased view in formulating policies and they tend to be in favour of policies that benefit companies but harm people,” the TII report said.

In the other direction, companies also gain an advantage when they hire the very officials previously responsible for overseeing their industry. This allows them to seek favorable legislation and government contracts in exchange for high-paying employment offers, and also to gain inside information on policy discussions.

Unlike some other countries that have issued laws regulating the revolving-door issue, Indonesia has no such restrictions. And in the palm oil industry, the practice is very common: according to the TII report, only two out of the 50 companies assessed are aware of this practice, and none has regulations addressing it.

One example of a regulation used elsewhere to prevent conflicts of interest is the “cooling-off period,” in which former public officials are prohibited from accepting employment in the private sector for a given time period after leaving office.

The report also looked at the presence of politically exposed persons within the 50 companies.

Known as PEPs, these are individuals who hold a prominent public position or function, such as a political party official, industry regulator, law enforcer, or a family member of such a person. PEPs are widely seen as being more prone to bribery, corruption or other potential financial irregularities.

The TII report identified 80 PEPs in 33 companies, including six each at SMART and PT Multi Agro Gemilang. Agus from SMART is one of these. He served as a special assistant to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from 2010 to 2014, just before joining SMART in 2014. He was also a special adviser to the environment minister from 2004 to 2009.

The report characterizes Agus as an example of both a politically exposed person and a revolving-door player.

“Am I a politically exposed person? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like it,” Agus told Mongabay. “But if I didn’t go to the company I currently work in, there are many other companies that want my assistance.”

He added it’s not fair if a politically exposed person is automatically perceived as something of a liability.

“If [the report] gives a score, then it looks like the report is judging [politically exposed persons]. Don’t judge, just prove” that PEPs bring risk to a company, Agus said. “Because people can become a bad actor without them having served in the government before.”

The report noted that the presence of politically exposed persons within a company doesn’t necessarily translate into a bad thing.

“But there really needs to be extra monitoring because politically exposed persons are closely tied to conflicts of interests and trading in influence,” Bellicia said.

Certification

he report also looked at how many of the palm oil companies were certified, either under Indonesia’s mandatory palm oil certification scheme, the ISPO, or under the voluntary Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world’s largest association for ethical palm oil production.

It found that only seven of the 50 companies have RSPO and/or ISPO certification that covers not only the parent companies, but also all their subsidiaries.

Yet even RSPO/ISPO certification can’t guarantee that a certified company is free from illegal and unsustainable practices, the report said. An assessment by Greenpeace of 100 RSPO members found that each had more than 100 hectares (250 acres) of illegal plantations inside forest areas in Indonesia, with eight of them having more than 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres).

Greenpeace also identified 252,000 hectares (623,000 acres) of ISPO-certified oil palm plantations inside forest areas, which aren’t permitted under Indonesian zoning laws.

Transparency

he final aspect assessed in the TII report was data disclosure — whether the companies revealed information on corporate structure, plantation ownership, tax and income, and beneficial owners.

Data transparency can be an effective tool in preventing illicit financial flows and tax evasion, according to the report. But palm oil companies in Indonesia are still largely opaque in this regard, the report said.

For instance, only 34 out of the 50 assessed companies reported who their beneficial owners were to the government, despite this being a mandatory disclosure under a 2018 presidential regulation.

Lack of clarity on corporate ownership makes it difficult for the government and people affected by corporate activities such as deforestation or tax evasion to demand accountability from the company.

The report also found only five companies that disclosed detailed data on their tax payments.

“This opens up room for tax evasion,” Bellicia said.

The Tanah Merah project in Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua is an example of how obscure corporate structures and beneficial ownership can increase the risk of corruption, according to the report.

Spanning 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) in the heart of the largest tract of primary rainforest remaining in Asia, nearly twice the size of Greater London, the project is set to become the world’s largest oil palm plantation.

A 2018 investigation by Mongabay and The Gecko Project revealed that the investors behind the project have employed all the tools of corporate secrecy to hide their identities: shell companies with front addresses, fake and proxy shareholders, and offshore secrecy jurisdictions.

The investigation also revealed that key documents relating to the project were signed by a politician while he was in jail on the island of Java, and that key permits have been hidden from public scrutiny.

Government response

esponding to the TII report, Roro Wide Sulistyowati from the corruption prevention department at the country’s antigraft agency, the KPK, said her office has been pushing for palm oil companies to commit to anticorruption practices.

She added that the KPK has also issued a corruption prevention guideline for companies.

“This year, we want to push [the guideline] to palm oil companies so that they have an anticorruption commitment and antibribery system,” Roro said.

In 2016, the KPK carried out an analysis of the palm oil industry and found a raft of problems, such as tax evasion and the lack of an accountable system to prevent corruption in the issuance of permits.

In 2019 and 2022, the country’s financial audit agency, the BPK, carried out its own assessment of the industry. The 2019 audit found that 81% of oil palm plantations in Indonesia are operating in violation of numerous regulations, including excess size, noncompliance with the ISPO standard, failure to allocate sufficient land for smallholder farmers, and lack of relevant operating permits.

The BPK has already finished the 2022 audit, but refused to disclose the findings. Following this latest BPK audit, the government recently announced that it had formed a task force to improve governance in the palm oil industry, including on permits and taxes.

Despite the series of findings from the KPK and the BPK, there’s been little to no improvement in the management of the palm oil industry, Bellicia said.

“If there have been changes [since the 2019 audit], there’s no way the score would be 3.5,” she said. “This score should be a wake-up call for the government.”

Banner image: Rainbow over the rainforest and oil palm plantations in the midst of a tropical downpour in Jambi on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler

Source: news.mongabay.com

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India

 

Burqa-Clad Women Helped Atiq's Wife Flee After Announcement from Mosque: Sources

May 1, 2023

By Simer Chawla: Slain gangster Atiq Ahmed's wife Shaista Parveen, an accused in the Umesh Pal murder case, is still on the run. According to sources, the Uttar Pradesh Police's Special Task Force (STF) had reached very close to nabbing Shaista Parveen four days ago in Prayagraj but the 'lady don' escaped the police's clutches with the help of locals.

The police had received concrete information that Shaista Parveen was in the Hatua area in Prayagraj. She was spotted near the house of Ashraf Ahmed's (Atiq's brother who was killed along with him) in-laws, sources said.

According to police sources, when the STF team reached there to raid, women wearing Burqas surrounded the team. The police could not go ahead and taking advantage of this, Shaista Parveen ran away.

Announcement from Mosque

According to sources, when people got information that the STF team was coming to raid, an announcement was made from the local mosque, asking women to leave the house and congregate on the streets. Taking advantage of this crowd, Shaista ran away.

Who Are Helping Shaista Parveen?

Earlier, the UP Police went to Naini jail and questioned Atiq's lawyer Khan Soulat Hanif, who is a big confidant of the gangster and is serving a life sentence in Umesh Pal's kidnapping case. Based on Hanif's input, the police got to know that Shaista Parveen had met 'lady don' Mundi Pasi before the murder of Umesh Pal.

Police sources say that Mundi Pasi, who is out on bail in several criminal cases herself, has been helping Shaista Parveen in her escape and is providing her intel.

Police are looking for Mundi Pasi and Atiq's gunner Ehtesham near the Kaushambi border. Ehtesham, who was once in the police force, is believed to have played an important role in the hiding of Shaista Parveen.

Along with Shaista Parveen, Ashraf's wife Zainab and sister Ayesha Noori are also absconding. The police have also come to know the names of some other helpers of Shaista Parveen. One of them is Asif alias Malli, an aide of Guddu Muslim, the bomber who was involved in the Umesh Pal murder case.

Why Is Shaista Parveen Absconding?

Shaista Parveen is on the run since she was named an accused in the murder case of Umesh Pal, a prime witness in the 2005 BSP MLA Raju Pal murder case, who, along with his two police guards, was shot dead in the Dhoomanganj police station area in Prayagraj on February 24.

On March 28, a court in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj convicted gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed and two other accused in the 2006 kidnapping of Umesh Pal, the prime witness in the BSP MLA Raju Pal murder case. However, Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf were shot dead at point-blank range by three men posing as journalists in Prayagraj on April 15 in the presence of police.

Other accused in the Umesh Pal murder case, including Shaista Parveen and Guddu Muslim, are on the run.

Police have announced a reward of Rs 50,000 on Shaista Parveen.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/shaista-parveen-up-police-prayagraj-umesh-pal-murder-atiq-ahmed-mosque-announcement-burqa-2367041-2023-05-01

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'Targeting terrorists, not Muslims': Filmmakers defend The Kerala Story amid row

May 1, 2023

By India Today News Desk: The Kerala Story, starring Adah Sharma, is at the centre of a storm after the trailer of the movie claimed that 32,000 girls from the state went missing and later joined the terrorist group, ISIS.

"We are targetting terrorists who are destroying the lives of girls" Vipul Amrutlal Shah

"As long as IUML's offer is concerned, it is their job. It is a political party. Our job was to make the film..." @sudiptoSENtlm #ITVideo #Kerala #TheKeralaStory | @Akshita_N @gauravcsawant pic.twitter.com/dBXU0egJ3n — IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) May 1, 2023

The movie, set to be released in cinemas on May 5, faced a lot of backlash from the Kerala government and the Congress, with leaders calling for a ban on screening of the film in the state.

Amid the row, the director, producer and the actor have backed the movie, saying The Kerala Story targets terrorists, not Muslims and there is nothing against the state in the entire film.

In an exclusive interview with India Today, director Sudipto Sen said, "I made the movie after months of research. No producer wanted to back the movie. My perspective changed, I was deeply moved after speaking to the victims."

Vipul Shah, the producer of the movie, said, "Nothing against the state of Kerala. Nothing deregotary said in the film. The film targets terrorists and not Muslims. Want Kerala CM to watch the movie."

A day earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the movie takes up the Sangh Parivar propaganda of projecting the state as a centre of religious extremism by raising the issue of love jihad, a concept rejected by the courts, probe agencies and even the Union home ministry.

The movie, written and directed by Sudipto Sen, is portrayed as "unearthing" the events behind "approximately 32,000 women" allegedly going missing in the southern state. The film claims they converted, got radicalised and were deployed in terror missions in India and the world.

The director claimed that the film crew were attacked while shooting in Kannur, CM Vijayan's home turf, and pointed out that Adah Sharma received a lot of threat messages for starring in the movie.

A couple of days ago, both the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala and the opposition Congress hit out at the upcoming movie, saying freedom of expression was not a licence to spew venom in society, and the film was an attempt to destroy the communal harmony of the state.

To this, Sen said, "I urge people to watch the film before drawing conclusions."

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/the-kerala-story-controversy-filmmakers-defend-movie-targets-terrorists-not-muslims-2367043-2023-05-01

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Mathura District Judge To Hear Requests Of All Parties Afresh In Shahi Idgah Mosque Case

May 01, 2023

Prayagraj: The Allahabad High Court on Monday disposed of the petitions of Shahi Idgah Trust and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board.

While giving its verdict, the High Court has asked the District Judge of Mathura to pass an order after hearing afresh against the decision of the Civil Judge.

"All the parties will have to present their arguments afresh before the District Judge of Mathura," the court said.

The dispute dates back to September 24 in 2020 when advocate Ranjana Agnihotri and six others originally filed a plea in the lower court to remove the 17th-century Shahi Idgah mosque from the complex it shares with the Katra Keshav Dev Temple, close to the spot known as 'Krishna Janmabhoomi'.

The petitioners had claimed in the plea that Shahi Idgah Masjid is constructed on a part of 13.37-acre land belonging to the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust.

They had demanded the mosque be removed and the land returned to the Trust.

However, the civil judge senior division rejected the suit on September 30, 2020, as non-admissible.

Source: ndtv.com

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https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mathura-land-dispute-allahabad-hc-disposes-pleas-of-shahi-idgah-trust-waqf-board-3994819

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Hyderabad: Congress moves to woo back Muslims, offset MIM slant

May 1, 2023

HYDERABAD: Though Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi led-AIMIM does not contest from many constituencies outside Greater Hyderabad, Owaisi enjoys a lot of clout among Muslims in almost every constituency in the state. There are about 40 assembly constituencies having a sizable Muslim population, where electoral prospects of a party gets propelled with minority community votes.

These constituencies are located in Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Karimnagar and Sangareddy to name a few.

Assembly

Muslims were a traditional vote bank of Congress, but in the 2018 assembly elections, the grand old party failed to win even a seat of the 40 assembly segments. While AIMIM won seven of them, the remaining were won by its friendly party BRS.

A majority of the Muslims voted for chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS (now BRS) as AIMIM extended support to its friendly party. The welfare schemes and secular-nature of KCR-led government since 2014 was one of the main reasons for Muslims rallying behind BRS.

Based on reports submitted by the party’s election strategist Sunil Kanugolu, AICC has realised that it would not be easy for Congress to come to power in Telangana without Muslims voting for it. Muslims might not vote for BJP and will have to choose between BRS and Congress in the assembly elections to be held later this year. Telangana Congress president A Revanth Reddy discussed these details and the role being played by Owaisi-led AIMIM in weaning away minority community voters from the grand old party with AICC leader Rahul Gandhi recently.

Muslim leaders from Congress would hold meetings with ulema, masjid committees, doctors, advocates and teachers, who enjoy the confidence of the community. They would be told how Owaisi-led AIMIM, despite polling only 2% votes in other states, was ending up polarising Hindu votes in favour of BJP.

BRS’ Dasoju Sravan said Congress has always used Muslims as a vote bank. “Muslims feel secure under BRS government as there are no communal riots. The KCR-led government has set up minority residential schools, extending overseas education schemes, shaadi mubarak to name a few,” he said.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/cong-moves-to-woo-back-muslims-offset-mim-slant/articleshow/99898365.cms

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Africa

 

Senegalese opposition leader calls for civil disobedience against judiciary

By Rédaction Africanews

02-05-23

Senegalese main opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has called for national civil disobedience against the judiciary and further rejected any dialogue against President Macky Sall.

Sonko on the other hand denounced claims that he was undermining the justice system.

Sonko last month had claimed his life was in danger and that he had evidence showing he was to be assassinated on March 16th on his way to court to face charges of rape allegations.

Another court court on 30th March gave opposition politician Ousmane Sonko a two-month suspended prison sentence for defaming a minister.

The opponent, who came third in the presidential election in 2019, and his supporters claim that the judiciary is being used by the government to eliminate him politically and clear the way for the incumbent Macky Sall.

Sonkko and his supporters accuse the government of using the justice system to prevent him from running for president in February 2024.

The presidential party accuses Mr. Sonko of wanting to paralyze the country and of using the street to escape justice

Several human rights organizations have expressed concern about the climate of tension in the country, restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression, and have called on President Sall to abandon his bid for a third term, as he has left it unclear whether he will run in 2024.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/02/senegalese-opposition-leader-calls-for-civil-disobedience-against-judiciary/

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Ugandan minister shot and killed by bodyguard

02-05-23

A bodyguard shot and killed a government minister in Uganda early Tuesday in an apparent private dispute, according to the army and local media.

The attacker, who has not been publicly identified, then turned the gun on himself, according to state broadcaster UBC and others.

The victim, Charles Engola, served in the government of President Yoweri Museveni as the junior minister in charge of labor. He was a retired army colonel.

Army spokesman Brig. Felix Kulayigye said in a short statement that an "unfortunate incident" led to the killing of Engola. "We shall inform the public the details as we jointly investigate the matter," Kulayigye said on Twitter.

The shooting took place inside Engola's home in a suburb of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Police detectives are now at the scene.

The motive was not immediately clear, but the local press said there had been an apparent dispute over the guard's wages.

"Witnesses claim that the soldier was yelling that he had not been paid for a long time despite working for a minister," the online newspaper NilePost reported.

The incident is likely to create shockwaves in a country where other high-profile officials have been killed in gun attacks over the years.

In 2021, a former army chief in Uganda was wounded and his daughter killed when gunmen shot at their vehicle in Kampala.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/02/ugandan-minister-shot-and-killed-by-bodyguard/

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Japan and Ghana aligned in the pursuit of reforms at the UN Security Council

02-05-23

The Japanese Prime-Minister, Kishida Fumio, arrived in Ghana on Monday on the second leg of an African tour.

Fumio met Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and both vowed to continue to pursue reforms at the UN Security Council.

Japan and Ghana are serving as non-permanent members of the Security Council.

The Ghanaian President added that the current Security Council permanent members does not reflect the current reality adding that reform must be promoted.

Both heads of state also agreed to closely coordinate on the issue of Sudan, where military clashes continue for a third week.

The Japanese Prime Minister said he hopes his latest visit will boost cooperation between the two countries across a range of fields, such as the economy, development and human resources.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/02/japan-and-ghana-aligned-in-the-pursuit-of-reforms-at-the-un-security-council/

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Imam Haron’s family edges closer to truth and justice in reopened inquest

Storm Simpson

02-05-2023

More than 50 years after the 1970 inquest found that no one could be blamed for Imam Abdullah Haron’s death in police custody, his family edges closer to justice and having the truth of what happened during the 123 days he spent in detention stand as the official record.

BOTH PARTIES SING FROM SAME HYMN BOOK IN HARON INQUEST CLOSING ARGUMENTS: STATE

The reopened inquest was held over eight days before Judge Daniel Thulare in the Cape Town High Court in November 2022, and closing arguments were heard in the same court on 24 and 25 April 2023.

State Prosecutor Advocate Lifa Matyobeni summed it up best on Tuesday afternoon when he said the State and family –represented by Webber Wentzel’s pro-bono unit – were singing from the same hymn book.

Advocate Howard Varney, for the family, spent the bulk of the two days weaving together the many testimonies from medical experts and political detainees. Matyobeni, in contrast, presented his closing argument in about 45 minutes.

Like the family’s legal representatives, the State asked Judge Thulare to set aside the 1970 inquest overseen by Additional Magistrate JSP Kuhn.

The Security Branch claimed that Haron had sustained his many injuries in a single fall down a flight of stone stairs – evidence suggests this story was concocted to cover up the torture he was subjected to during his detention.

After Haron was found dead in his Maitland Police Station cell on 27 September 1969, everything that followed – from the autopsy to the inquest and its findings – was manipulated to hide the truth.

Last year, medical experts testified that the Imam’s injuries could not have been sustained in a fall and that his death was linked to the assault he suffered, and an engineering expert also said the tale of the fall had no basis in reality.

“If the security branch lied about the torture, then they lied about everything,” said Matyobeni.

The State said Haron died at the hands of the security police and recommended that the matter be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

According to the State, the suspects are Haron’s chief interrogators – Major Dirk Kotze Genis and Sergeant Johannes Petrus Francois “Spyker” van Wyk. Genis was the commander of the Haron investigation, while van Wyk, an infamous torturer of political detainees, was in charge of the interrogation. Both are dead.

Other suspects include Lieutenant Carel Johannes Frazier Pienaar, the overall commander of the Security Branch in Cape Town and Captain Ebanis Geldenhuys, a branch officer.

FAMILY SEEKS ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ALL THOSE INVOLVED IN THE DEATH

The family had a much longer list of suspects who should be punished for their role in Haron’s death and the subsequent cover-up, stretching from the Security Branch to the uniformed police, including then-Constable Johannes Hendrik Burger, who testified last year, medical and legal professionals.

Varney said all police officers who testified in the first inquest perjured themselves to some degree and said to Judge Thulare that Burger – the last living policeman from the time of Haron’s detention – did the same by making false claims during the reopened inquest.

Among the false claims was his denial of any knowledge that the Security Branch tortured and abused political detainees and that he was unaware Haron had been abused until he saw sketches of his body 50 years later.

Burger also said the Imam seemed healthy and had no complaints about an hour before he was found dead in his Maitland Police Station cell.

Varney said the family does not want Burger to be prosecuted for perjury as he was among the youngest and lowest-ranking officers at the police station in 1969. “He was a bit player with no real decision-making authority.”

The Haron family do not want to see him prosecuted because the people who should be facing justice are dead, and prosecuting Burger will not bring them any peace.

“During the month of Ramadan, adherents ask for and preach forgiveness. Burger has his own conscience to live with in his advanced age,” said the family.

The family’s legal representatives also recommended that Doctors Viviviers and Gosling and the Chief State Pathologist for Cape Town, Dr Schwar disregarded the Hippocratic Oath in dealing with Haron and asked the court to refer the relevant parts of the inquest record to the medical council for consideration as to whether their names should be posthumously struck from the roll of medical professionals.

The family seeks the same punishment for Additional Magistrate JSP Kuhn, who oversaw the 1970 inquest, and State Prosecutor JS van Graan.

“We have demonstrated in these proceedings that the Imam was subjected to vicious and unrelenting torture during his 123 days in detention.

 “After the most brutal period of abuse inflicted during the three-day extraction, he was specifically denied medical treatment, to avoid the obvious signs of his torture from being detected.

“Those involved in the torture, and who decided to deny him medical attention, murdered the Imam. We have asked this Honourable Court to make that finding,” said Varney in part of his conclusion.

Judge Thulare reserved judgement.

Source: thesouthafrican.com

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https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/imam-abdullah-haron-inquest-state-responsibility-death-ruling-closing-arguments-2-may/

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Mideast

 

Rockets fired from Gaza after Islamic Jihad member dies from hunger strike in Israeli prison

“The occupation will pay the price for (Khader Adnan’s) death,” Islamic Jihad warned.

By JOTAM CONFINO IN ISRAEL

May 2, 2023

Three rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Tuesday morning, the military confirmed.

The rockets were fired after a senior member of Islamic Jihad, Khader Adnan, died from an 86-day-long hunger strike in an Israeli prison.

Adnan, 45, was arrested in the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank in February on terror charges and had been on a hunger strike in Nitzan Prison in central Israel since.

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He was found unconscious in his cell early Tuesday and was declared dead at Shamir Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Adnan had been on hunger strike several times before, including a 55-day-long strike in 2015.

Not long after, rocket sires blasted in Kibbutz Sa’ad where three rockets fell in open areas. Islamic Jihad issued a statement after the rocket fire, saying that Adnan’s death will be a “lesson for generations, we will not leave this path as long as Palestine remains under occupation.”

“The occupation will pay the price for (Adnan’s) death,” Islamic Jihad said. Hamas echoed Islamic Jihad’s threat, saying: “The Palestinian people will not let this crime pass by in silence, and will respond accordingly.”

The IDF has cracked down on Islamic Jihad in the West Bank in the past years, arresting and killing several of its members in army raids, saying they were either responsible for or planning terror attacks against Israel.

In August last year, similar army raids triggered a three-day conflict between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Source: jewishnews.co.uk

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https://www.jewishnews.co.uk/rockets-fired-from-gaza-after-islamic-jihad-member-dies-from-hunger-strike-in-israeli-prison/

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Radical Israeli Settlers Invade Courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque

2 May, 2023

Dozens of colonial settlers backed by Israeli forces invaded Tuesday, 2 May 2023, the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque and performed provocative rituals.

Local media sources reported that Israeli settlers broke into the courtyards of Al-Aqsa and performed provocative Talmudic rituals in some of its yards under the Israeli occupation forces’ protection.

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces are widely spread across the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to protect the colonial settlers, prohibiting the presence of Palestinians.

Colonial settlers’ backed by the Israeli occupation forces repeatedly invade Muslims and holy places in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in a flagrant violation of all international conventions and laws, guaranteeing Palestinian people’s right to worship in their sacred sites.

Illegal settlers repeated violations of Muslim, as well as Christian, symbols as a deliberate attempt to Judaise the occupied Jerusalem, with the progressive expulsion of the local population; the Palestinians.

In 2022, 56670 Israeli settlers invaded Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards and performed Talmudic provocative rituals in its squares, according to Palestinian figures.

Source: daysofpalestine.ps

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https://daysofpalestine.ps/radical-israeli-settlers-invade-courtyards-of-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Riyadh seeking flights between Saudi, Iranian shia cities

May 2, 2023

TEHRAN, May 02 (MNA) – Saudi Arabia is seeking direct flights between its Shia-majority city of Dammam and Iran’s Mashhad as part of efforts to improve relations between the two countries, according to an aviation industry official in Iran.

Maghsud As’adi, who leads the Association of Iranian Airlines, said on Monday that launching flights to Iran’s second-largest city of Mashhad, located in the northeast of the country and home to a major Shia shrine, is a priority for Saudi Arabia.

Press TV quoted As’adi as saying that the flight route could serve Saudi Arabia’s Shia community which is based in the eastern city of Dammam.

He said the route could also lead to increased tourism visits by Saudis to other Iranian cities, especially to natural resorts in northern Iran.

The remarks come weeks after Iran’s transportation ministry said it had received an official request from Saudi Arabian authorities for three regular flights between the two countries.

The ministry said last month that the flights will be launched regardless of arrangements existing between Tehran and Riyadh about flights carrying Iranian pilgrims to hajj ceremony in Saudi Arabia.

The announcement came amid a joint plan by Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore their diplomatic relations some seven years after the two countries cut their official ties.

The plan is based on an agreement brokered by China in early March which stipulated that the two Muslim countries should reopen their embassies by May 9.

Source: en.mehrnews.com

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https://en.mehrnews.com/news/200166/Riyadh-seeking-flights-between-Saudi-Iranian-shia-cities

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Global Islamic finance industry to grow 10% in 2023-2024 despite economic slowdown

Aarti Nagraj

May 02, 2023

The global Islamic finance industry is expected to grow by around 10 per cent in 2023-2024 despite the economic slowdown, after posting a similar expansion in 2022 mainly led by the GCC countries, according to S&P Global Ratings.

The sector continued to expand in 2022, with assets up by 9.4 per cent compared with 12.2 per cent in 2021, supported by growth in banking assets and the sukuk industry, S&P said in a report on Monday.

GCC countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, spurred 92 per cent of the growth in Islamic banking assets last year.

In Kuwait, this was mainly due to Kuwait Finance House's acquisition of Ahli United Bank. “Over the next couple of years, we expect the latter to convert its conventional activities to Sharia compliance in line with its acquisition plans,” S&P said.

In Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, the implementation of its ambitious diversification strategy, Vision 2030, and continued growth in mortgage lending supported the industry's growth.

However, in other parts of the world, the Islamic finance industry's growth was either muted or held back by local currency depreciation.

“Structural weaknesses still curb the industry's broader geographical and market appeal,” S&P said.

“We believe that progress toward greater standardisation — in part supported by the digitalisation of sukuk issuance for example — could enhance the industry's structural growth potential.

“At the same time, the increasing focus on sustainability-related themes by core Islamic finance players will create new opportunities for the industry. We expect the contribution of sustainability-linked sukuk to continue increasing in the next 12-24 months, albeit from a low base.”

Sukuk issuance continued to spur the industry's expansion despite slowing issuance volumes overall, the report said.

While sukuk volumes are anticipated to fall again in 2023, it will be at a slower pace than in 2022, with new issuance expected to exceed maturing sukuk.

Global sukuk issuance is forecast to “level off” in the range of $170 billion to $175 billion in 2023, after a 10 per cent fall in 2022 to $178 billion, Moody’s Investors Service said in a research report in March.

Demand for Sharia-compliant financing is set to outpace conventional funding in 2023, driven by strong economic growth and development agendas in key markets, it said.

S&P also said that corporates are likely to contribute to issuance volumes, particularly in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where governments have announced transformation plans.

Issuers with high financing needs, such as those in Egypt and Turkey, are also likely to tap the sukuk market as part of their strategy to mobilise all available resources.

Egypt has established a $5 billion sukuk programme and issued its first sukuk in early 2023 for $1.5 billion.

“We understand that this attracted significant investor interest, with more than $6 billion demand and a 59 per cent allocation to investors from the Middle East and North Africa,” the report said.

However, “lower and more expensive global liquidity, greater complexity related to structuring sukuk and reduced financing needs for issuers (due to fiscal surpluses from higher oil prices) in some core Islamic finance countries” will deter the market, it added.

Meanwhile, the takaful sector will also expand at an annual rate of around 10 per cent, supported by continued nominal gross domestic product growth, the expansion of infrastructure investment and medical insurance covers, and some inflation-related tariff adjustments.

“Fund growth will hinge on the performance of the capital markets, given its structure — around one-quarter equity funds and another 60 per cent money market or sukuk funds,” S&P said.

Looking ahead, the GCC will play a key role in supporting the industry's growth.

“We think that Saudi Arabia's banking system performance will continue to underpin a large portion of the expanding Islamic finance industry. In other GCC countries, growth of about 5 per cent appears plausible in the absence of new major government investment cycles.”

In South-East Asia, the Islamic banking industry is likely to grow at around 8 per cent over the next couple of years, despite an economic slowdown in the major markets of Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Robust demand for Islamic products and services and low penetration, particularly in Indonesia, support this trend. In both markets, we expect Islamic banking to continue to gain market share as growth outpaces conventional banking,” S&P said.

It also stressed that while sustainability-linked sukuk issuance remains limited, this trend will change as issuers try to meet investor demand and core Islamic finance countries seek to reduce their carbon footprint and support the global energy transition.

“Many Islamic finance countries are pursuing strategies to help them transition to greener economies. We believe this indicates growth potential for green sukuk issuance and expect to see greater activity in this space as issuers tap global investor interest,” the report said.

In the past three years, many banks in core Islamic finance countries have also issued sustainability plans, which will further support the sector.

“We therefore expect green products and services for corporate and retail customers will contribute to the growth of Islamic banking assets,” it added.

Source: thenationalnews.com

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https://www.thenationalnews.com/business/markets/2023/05/02/global-islamic-finance-industry-to-grow-10-in-2023-2024-despite-economic-slowdown/

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Senior member of Islamic Jihad dies in Israeli prison after 86-day hunger strike

02-05-23

A senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group died in Israeli custody on Tuesday after an 86-day hunger strike.

Khader Adnan was found unresponsive in his cell in Nitzan jail in the central city of Ramle during the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday morning.

He was brought to the Shamir Medical Center outside Tel Aviv and underwent resuscitation efforts, but was declared dead at the hospital, the Prisons Service said.

Adnan, 45, was arrested in February in his hometown of Arrabeh, in the northern West Bank near Jenin, for suspected membership in a terror group, support for a terrorist organization and incitement.

He had been indicted and was being held in custody until the end of the legal proceedings against him.

He launched his hunger strike immediately after his arrest on February 5 and had refused to undergo medical checks or receive treatment while incarcerated.

Shortly after his death was announced, rocket sirens sounded in southern Israel near Kibbutz Sa’ad.

The Israel Defense Forces said it identified three launches from Gaza at Israel that landed in open areas. No interceptor rockets were fired and there were no reports of injuries or damage.

The treatment and condition of terror inmates, often referred to as security prisoners, is often a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was no immediate statement from Palestinian Islamic Jihad after Adnan’s death.

The Palestinian Authority demanded an investigation into Adnan’s death.

Adnan’s latest detention was his 10th stint in the Israeli prison system.

Adnan had long been accused of being a spokesperson for the terror group, and had been arrested several times in recent years and served several prison sentences in connection with his work for Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

He had also previously gone on hunger strike several times over his detention, including over an arrest in 2018. In that case, he was convicted of having been an active member of the banned Iran-backed terror group after he pleaded guilty in a plea bargain.

In 2012 he went on hunger strike for 66 days in protest against a term of internment without trial, what Israel calls “administrative detention.”

In 2015 he went without food for over 50 days after another arrest.

He was also arrested for suspected terrorist activity in 2019.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir assumed control of Israel’s prisons when he came into office in December and has pushed for more strict handling of security prisoners. His ministry also oversees the police and border police.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/senior-member-of-islamic-jihad-dies-in-israeli-prison-after-86-day-hunger-strike/

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Islamic bloc to hold emergency meeting over conflict-torn Sudan

May 1, 2023

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will convene in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss the latest situation in conflict-torn Sudan.

In a written statement, the Muslim group said: “The OIC Executive Committee will hold an emergency meeting, on Wednesday, 3 May 2023, at the headquarters of the General Secretariat in Jeddah, to discuss the situation in the Republic of Sudan.”

Meanwhile, OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha said the meeting “reflects the interest of member states in the current events in Sudan and their keenness to restore security and stability in the country.”

He urged the sides in Sudan for a permanent cease-fire, stressing the need to turn to dialogue to preserve the security and safety of the Sudanese people, and the state and to resume the political process.

Separately, the permanent members of the Arab League on Monday gathered in Egypt’s capital Cairo for an emergency meeting to discuss the latest situation in Sudan.

The league’s first meeting in Cairo on April 16 also called for “an immediate cessation of armed clashes in Sudan and a quick return to the peaceful path to resolve the crisis.”

Armed clashes erupted in mid-April between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital Khartoum.

At least 528 people have been killed and more than 4,500 injured in the fighting between two rival generals in Sudan – army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo – since April 15, according to Sudan’s Health Ministry.

A disagreement had been fomenting in recent months between the army and the paramilitary force regarding the RSF’s integration into the armed forces, a key condition of Sudan's transition agreement with political groups.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since October 2021, when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency in a move decried by political forces as a “coup.”

Sudan’s transitional period, which started in August 2019 after the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, is scheduled to end with elections in early 2024.

Source: aa.com.tr

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Jihad: No matter how much enemy escalates its criminal practices, our people's revolution will not be extinguished

[01/May/2023]

RAMALLAH May 01. 2023 (Saba) - Media spokesman for the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine Tariq Ezz El-Din has announced arresting leader Mahdi al-Sharqawi by the enemy forces at dawn on Monday will not undermine the determination of our people and our free fighters."

Palestine Today news agency quoted Ezz al-Din as saying "No matter how much the occupation escalates its criminal practices against our people, leaders and cadres, our people's revolution and valiant resistance will not subside."

He affirmed that the Zionist occupation knows very well that a leader who is arrested or martyred will be succeeded by a thousand leaders, and our blessed uprising will not stop until the occupation is defeated from our entire land, whatever the price.

Ezz El-Din continued "All salutes to Sheikh Mujahid leader Mahdi al-Sharqawi and to all the leaders and mujahideen of our people, and we will continue the journey, God willing, and we will not back down from our right to freedom."

Source: saba.ye

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https://www.saba.ye/en/news3237443.htm

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Pakistan

 

Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Interfaith Harmony Underscores Need for Unity of Muslim Ummah

02-05-23

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi on Monday emphasized the need for unity among the Muslim Ummah to solve their problems.

Speaking to the media, he said the fundamental issues faced by the Muslim Ummah were Kashmir and Palestine, and practical steps should be taken to resolve them.

Ashrafi, who is also the Chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council and Secretary-General of the International Tazim-e-Haramain Sharifain Council, applauded the efforts of Islamic scholars in combating extremism and terrorism and urged for dialogue between leaders of all religions to end Islamophobia.

He also praised Saudi Arabia’s commendable role in addressing the Sudan crisis and called on all countries to support it for a permanent ceasefire in Sudan.

He further emphasized that the true interpretation of Islamic teachings could be found in the Muslim World League’s ‘Charter of Makkah’ and Pakistan’s religious scholars’ ‘Message of Pakistan’. Regarding the recent cases of blasphemy in the country, Ashrafi stressed that no one should be accused of blasphemy without proper research and evidence. He added that if any individual or group used blasphemy laws for their own personal or political interests, the government should take action against them.

He also expressed his concern over the oppression of minorities, including Muslims, in India and Occupied Kashmir, and called on the political and religious leaders of the G20 countries to boycott their upcoming meeting in India. He said India’s desire to hold the R20 meeting in Occupied Kashmir on the occasion of the G20 meeting would not be fulfilled.

In conclusion, Ashrafi emphasized that Islam was a religion of peace and did not tolerate extremism and terrorism in any form. He further termed the restoration of Iran-Saudi Arabia and Arab-Syria relations a good omen as it would help resolve the issues faced by the Muslim Ummah.

Source: brecorder.com

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Negotiations not possible with terrorists: Javed

May 2, 2023

Pakistan Muslim League-N’s senior leader Javed Latif objected on Monday to the ongoing negotiations between the govt and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and said that talks were not possible with “terrorists” and “those who weaken institutions”. Talking to the media, the minister added that the government never ran away from elections even though our leadership was disqualified and kept out.

“Talks are never held with those who throw petrol bombs nor with those who are instruments of world powers. Negotiations are not held with those who talk about Mir Jaffer, Mir Sadiq,” Latif said.

Latif further said that it is better if the people sitting in the institutions confess their mistakes, adding that “negotiations outside of the Constitution cannot be done at anyone’s will”. The PML-N leader also said that the party will not accept elections without the participation of party supremo Nawaz Sharif in any way.

The federal minister said that today the situation has come to a point that now people sitting in the institutions will have to speak the complete truth.

Source: pakobserver.net

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Muqam thanks friendly countries for safe evacuation of Pakistanis from Sudan

May 2, 2023

Adviser to Prime Minister for Political, Public Af­fairs, National Heritage and Culture, Engr Amir Muqam Monday expressed gratitude to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey for helping its stranded citizens evacuated from Sudan port safely. “Safe evacuation of every Pakistani and bringing them home safely remains our top priority,” the Advisor to Prime Minister said while talking to media at Islamabad International Airport, says a press release here.

He said a team of our mission is working day and night to facilitate the stay of Pakistanis who are still in Sudan until their evacuation to Pakistan, adding that another special PIA flight carrying 93 Pakistani nationals from Port Sudan reached in Islamabad today (Monday). Adviser to the Prime Minister on Political and Public Affairs, Mr. Amir Muqam, and Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development, Sajid Hussain Turi were present at the airport to greet and welcome the passengers.

The government has also made arrangements for their accommodation, and meal and paid them to travel from one city to another, Engr Amir Muqam mentioned. He said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif himself had been supervising the safe process of Pakistanis, adding, overseas Pakistanis have always proved themselves as an asset to Pakistan and their welfare is the top priority of the incumbent government.

Talking to the media on the occasion, Sajid Hussain Turi said that out of twelve hundred Pakistanis living in Sudan, about 700 hundred have returned to Pakistan. On the direction of Prime Minister of Pakistan and under supervision of Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination of relevant stakeholders including Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & HRD/OPF has started evacuation of Pakistanis stranded in Sudan.

Earlier today, a PIA flight transported 93 Pakistanis who had been stranded in Sudan from Riyadh to Islamabad. The officials of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation and Civil Aviation Authority were present to receive the passengers and provide hospitality. The emerging situation in Sudan necessitated repatriation of around 1500 Pakistanis who were stranded in Sudan for their safe evacuated amid growing security concerns.

Pakistan Mission, Khartoum has started evacuation of stranded Pakistanis from Khartoum to Port Sudan through Saudi naval vessels.

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/muqam-thanks-friendly-countries-for-safe-evacuation-of-pakistanis-from-sudan/

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Independent judiciary main component of Constitution, observes CJP

May 2, 2023

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial observed on Tuesday that an independent judiciary was a main component of the Constitution.

He made the remarks as an eight-member larger bench of the Supreme Court heard a set of plea challenging a bill, which has since become an act of Parliament, seeking to curtail the powers of the CJP.

The bench comprised CJP Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

The three petitions were filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by Advocate Muhammad Shafay Mu­nir, Raja Amer Khan, Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain and others.

The bill proposes taking away the individual authority of the chief justice to initiate suo motu proceedings and unilaterally form benches and vests them in a panel comprising the CJP and two senior-most SC judges. It also calls for the right to appeal suo motu decisions.

Action on the bill was preemptively frozen by the court even before it became law last month.

Barrister Salahuddin appeared on behalf of the PML-N while Farooq Naek appeared on behalf of the PPP. Meanwhile, Hassan Raza Pasha represented the Pakistan bar Council (PBC).

At the outset of the hearing, the CJP said that the previous order issued by the court was of an interim nature. He said that democracy was a key component of the country’s Constitution.

“A free judiciary and Centre are also important features of the Constitution,” he said, adding that the case at hand concerned the independence of the judiciary.

CJP Bandial said that the court expected “serious arguments” from the parties in the case, adding that the large bench would have to provide “excellent assistance”.

CJP Bandial also remarked that the law in question was the first of its kind in Pakistan. “This law concerns the third pillar of the state,” he said.

He said that there was no changing the fact that an independent judiciary was a main feature of the Constitution. “It is being alleged that for the first time, a fundamental component of the Constitution has been violated through a [piece of] legislation.”

The court then sought detailed answers from all parties in the case on May 8. The court also sought the parliamentary record of the law as well as the arguments in the relevant standing committee.

During the hearing, the PBC’s lawyer contended that the council had always fought for the rule of law and the judiciary. “It would be appropriate if a full court is constituted to hear the case,” he said, adding that no one would object to a bench which included seven senior-most judges.

He also highlighted that several references had been filed against one of the members of the current SC bench in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and called for Justice Naqvi to be excluded from the bench.

Justice Bandial remarked that constituting a full court was the CJP’s prerogative. He went on to say that a reference could not bar a judge from working.

“A judge can’t be stopped from working until the SJC gives its opinion,” the CJP said, adding that the court had made the same decision during the proceedings against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

“Complaints against judges, including me, come from time to time,” the CJP said, adding that political matters had “polluted” the top court’s environment.

“Political people want favourable decisions, not justice,” he said. He noted that a demand for constituting a full court had also been put forth during the hearing of the case concerning holding elections in the country.

He observed that all the country’s institutions were bound to implement the directives issued by the top court. The PBC’s request for a full court was subsequently rejected.

The court also rejected the attorney general’s request for vacating the anticipatory injunction on the law.

“First, explain to us what the law is and why it was made,” the CJP said. The hearing was then adjourned for May 8 (Monday).

Bill becomes law

Article 184(3) of the Constitution sets out the SC’s original jurisdiction, and enables it to assume jurisdiction in matters involving a question of “public importance” with reference to the “enforcement of any of the fundamental rights” of Pakistan’s citizens.

The bill, titled the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, was aimed at depriving the office of the CJP of powers to take suo motu notice in an individual capacity.

The draft law was initially passed by both houses of Parliament in March and sent to the president for his assent. However, the president had sent it back, saying that the proposed law travelled “beyond the competence of parliament”. The bill was subsequently adopted by a joint session of parliament on April 10 — albeit with some amendments.

Meanwhile, the top court — while hearing the three petitions challenging the then-bill — in an “anticipatory injunction” on April 13, barred the government from enforcing the draft law, saying the move would “prevent imminent apprehended danger that is irreparable” as soon as it became an act of parliament.

“The moment that the bill receives the assent of the president or it is deemed that such assent has been given, then from that very moment onwards and till further orders, the act that comes into being shall not have, take or be given any effect nor be acted upon in any manner,” said the interim order issued by the eight-member bench.

The ruling coalition government was swift to reject the apex court’s ruling and on April 19 the president again refused to give his assent and sent the draft law back to Parliament.

Despite this, the bill technically became an act of parliament on April 21 under Article 75(2) of the Constitution, and despite the court’s order halting the law’s implementation, the National Assembly Secretariat formally asked the Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP) to publish it in the official gazette.

Article 75(2) of the Constitution says that when the president has returned a bill to the parliament, it shall be reconsidered in a joint sitting. If it is again passed, with or without amendment, by the votes of most members of both houses, it is again referred to the president for their assent. If the bill was not signed by the president within 10 days, their assent would have been deemed granted.

According to the legislation, a three-member bench consisting of the CJP and the two senior-most judges of the apex court will decide whether to take up a matter suo motu. Previously, this was solely the prerogative of the chief justice.

The law also states that every cause, matter or appeal before the apex court would be heard and disposed of by a bench, which will be formed by a committee comprising the chief justice and the two senior-most judges.

The legislation also includes the right to file an appeal within 30 days of the judgement in a suo motu case and that any case involving constitutional interpretation will not have a bench of fewer than five judges.

The bill would allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other parliamentarians disqualified by the Supreme Court under suo motu powers (such as Jahangir Tareen) to appeal their disqualification within 30 days of the law’s enactment.

‘First time act suspended even before it became law’

Speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, PPP leader and lawyer Farooq H. Naek stated that this was the “first time that an act has been suspended before it was implemented”.

“The Constitution allows parliament to make laws regarding the Supreme Court’s procedure,” continued Naek. He added that the bill is “not affecting the public at large then it doesn’t come under the jurisdiction of Article 184 (3)”.

Source: dawn.com

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Khar in Doha as UN-led moot kicks off sans Taliban

May 2, 2023

DOHA: Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of State for Foreign Aff­airs, arrived in Doha on Monday to represent Pakistan in the UN-led talks on Afghanistan, which are being held in the absence of Taliban authorities.

Envoys from the United States, China and Russia — as well as major European aid donors and key neighbours — are among representatives from about 25 countries and groups called for two days of talks by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The incumbent Taliban rulers of the country, however, have not been invited to the meeting, which would focus on how to deal with them and press them to ease a ban on women working and girls going to school.

The minister will present Pakistan’s perspective vis-à-vis Afghanistan and work on building a consensus regarding the way forward with international and regional partners. Pakistan will continue to support all efforts to advance the shared objectives of a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan, a statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad said.

Kabul spox says seeking ‘positive engagement’ with world; diplomats say talk of recognition impossible until women ban reversed

Ms Khar will also hold bilateral talks with leaders of other participating countries on the sidelines of the huddle.

UN dilemma

Ahead of his arrival in Doha, Mr Guterres’ office said the meeting “is intended to achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban” on women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking.

Despite not being invited to the talks, the head of the Taliban representative office in Doha, Sohail Shaheen, said he has met with members of the British and Chinese delegations. He said the UN meeting and “the importance of engagement” was among the topics raised.

Though divided on many disputes, the UN Security Council united on Thursday to condemn the curbs on Afghan women and girls and urge all countries to seek “an urgent reversal” of the policies.

Diplomats and observers say, however, that the Doha meeting highlights the quandary faced by the international community in handling Afghan­istan, which the UN considers its biggest humanitarian crisis with millions depending on food aid.

The Taliban government’s deputy spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said on Monday Kabul “wants positive engagement with the world”.

But “internal issues” — such as curbs on women’s rights — should not factor into decisions about diplomatic engagement and formal recognition, he said.

“These should not be used as political tools,” he said. “Countries should have the moral courage to independently come forward for positive engagement.”

In an open letter to the Doha meeting released on Sunday, a coalition of Afghan women’s groups said they were “outraged” that any country would consider formal ties with the government that the UN calls the “de facto authorities”.

The United Nations and Washington have insisted that recognition is not on the agenda.

Rights groups’ fears have been fuelled by remarks made last month by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who said the Doha meeting could find “baby steps” that lead to a “principled recognition” of the Taliban government.

The UN said the comments were misinterpreted.

No country has established formal ties with the Afghan administration and UN membership can only be decided by the UN General Assembly.

A UN official said it was “clear” the Taliban authorities want recognition. Formal UN ties would help the government reclaim billions of dollars of desperately needed funds seized abroad after it took power.

But diplomats from several countries involved in the talks said this would not be possible until there is a change on women’s rights.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1750457/khar-in-doha-as-un-led-moot-kicks-off-sans-taliban

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Justice Isa seeks JCP meeting to fill SC vacancies

May 2, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the senior puisne judge of the Sup­reme Court, has asked for an immediate meeting of Judicial Commission of Pak­istan (JCP), which is long overdue, and suggested the names of chief justices of Sindh and Pesh­awar high courts to fill two vacancies of SC judges.

Against the sanctioned strength of 17 judges, the top court is currently fun­c­tioning with 15 judges including Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial.

In a letter sent to all JCP members, Justice Isa has suggested that the vacancies should be filled immediately, and the names of the judges to be nominated should be recommended before time while considering the principle of seniority.

Justice Isa suggested the names of SHC CJ Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh and PHC CJ Musarrat Hilali for the appointment.

The JCP — a constitutional body that recommends elevation of judges to the superior courts — last time met in October 2022 when three judges were elevated to the apex court that too after a deadlock over ignoring seniority principle in picking the names of judges for their elevation to the apex court.

According to bar councils, elevating junior judges to top court demoralises senior judges and adversely affect judicial work, asserting that the very fact is predominantly against the principle of seniority as laid down in the Al-Jehad case or judges’ case.

In August 2022, the JCP invited Justice Shaikh by a majority decision of five to four to become an ad hoc SC judge for one year if he accorded his consent. But the SHC CJ twice declined to attend the SC sitting as an ad hoc judge and rather expressed willingness to be appointed or elevated to the position of a permanent judge.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) then condemned the majority decision to appoint SHC chief justice as an ad hoc judge of the SC, arguing that such appointment was in breach of Article 182 of the Constitution, as only a retired judge could be appointed as an ad hoc judge.

Justice Hilali took oath as PHC chief justice on April 2. She took several measures to introduce judicial reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by constituting special benches for commercial and tax disputes, criminal matters, service matters, civil and family cases, with the direction to complete trials within a stipulated period.

Senior counsel Akhtar Hussain, who represents the PBC on the JCP, told Dawn that he would write to CJP Bandial to invite his attention towards calling a meeting of the JCP rules-making committee for carrying out appropriate amendments in the relevant rules for laying down the criteria for appointments of judges in the superior courts.

He was of the opinion that a JCP meeting could not be called before amending the JCP Rules, 2010.

The last rules committee meeting, held in March 2022, remained inconclusive but decided to meet again after going through the proposals being agitated by the lawyers’ representatives.

Source: dawn.com

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All Pakistanis will be evacuated from Sudan in next 48 hours: FO

May 2, 2023

The Foreign Office said on Monday that nearly all 1,000 Pakistanis would be evacuated from the conflict-hit Sudan within the next 24 to 48 hours.

A brief statement issued by the FO stated that 93 more Pakistanis stranded in Sudan had reached the country in the fourth batch of evacuees. It said that the latest batch arrived at Islamabad airport on Monday via flight no PK754.

As per the statement, a total of 636 stranded Pakistanis had returned home as they landed in Karachi via Jeddah separately on five special PAF flights to date.

With the latest batch of evacuees, as many as 729 Pakistanis have been repatriated to the country so far.

Earlier Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took to Twitter to thank Saudi Arabia for their support and assistance to distressed Pakistanis in a difficult time.

“We are grateful to the brotherly country of Saudi Arabia for their support and assistance to Pakistanis in distress in this difficult time,” the tweet read.

The Saudi foreign ministry had shared an update on the arrival of Pakistani in Jeddah a day earlier.

Source: pakobserver.net

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Arab World

 

Ministry of Islamic Affairs Gives Copies of the Holy Quran to Tunis International Book Fair Visitors

01 May, 2023

The pavilion of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance at the 37th edition of the Tunis International Book Fair has distributed more than 3,000 copies of the available 10,000 copies of the Quran as a gift to visitors to the pavilion since the opening of the fair on April 28th.

The Ministry's corner includes a special space at King Fahd Glorious Quran Printing Complex in Madinah, which contains a large variety of versions of the Quran and translation of its words' meanings in more than 76 languages. The corner includes the stages of printing the Holy Quran and highlights the sublime message of the Kingdom in its care and service of the Holy Quran through printing and distributing it to reach all Muslims in the world.

The pavilion also showcases modern applications, display screens for virtual education for Hajj and Umrah, the application of the correct citation, as well as the Makkah Manuscripts Exhibition.

Visitors to the pavilion praised the role played by the Kingdom under its wise leadership in serving Muslims in the world and taking care of the Holy Quran.

Source: menafn.com

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Makkah digital artist’s unique blend delivers an enthralling view of Saudi Arabia

RAHAF JAMBI

May 01, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi digital media artist Rayan Mal had a gut feeling that this would be his career when he took his first picture with a camera given to him by his father.

“I felt strange inside as I held this expensive camera. This means a lot to me because the first image I ever took was for my mother, who passed away a few years later,” he said. 

Gradually, Mal expanded beyond photography and entered the field of filmmaking, incorporating digital work into the videos.

“I use digital art in my images and videos to convey what’s happening in my head. Adding motion graphics and creative designs gives the content a lovely taste and lets the viewer see what's happening in my head. It's kind of like a visual message I offer to others,” Mal said. 

He has received short video prizes, including one from Turki Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment.

“I was awarded by Turki Al-Sheikh, which was something that I did not expect, but it feels so good that the officials are focusing on the youth’s talent and supporting them, and this makes me want to do more for my country,” Mal said. 

The young artist also made a video in Boulevard Riyadh City on the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s 92nd National Day, which was also retweeted by Al-Sheikh.

During the pandemic, Mal recorded a short video on how Makkah dealt with COVID-19 and the efforts made by the authorities.

It earned him the Waai Award 2021 in the short film category from the Ministry of Health.

To showcase one of the season’s festivals of cosplay talent in the Boulevard world, he shot an incredible movie, edited it, and added his designs and effects to make it nostalgic. This was part of his ongoing creative projects for the Riyadh Season.

His “Hajj Feelings” short video, which highlighted pilgrims’ experience and organization of Saudi officials during Hajj, also won him an award in a competition from the Ministry of Interior in 2019. 

“I’m from Makkah, the home of Islam and people of all colors and ethnicities. In my videos, I like to demonstrate how my hometown treats visitors with grace and humanity,” he said.

In future, Mal wants to make his own production house to collaborate and connect talents with other people and businesses to expand the digital art community in the Kingdom. 

“I have seen tremendous potential in people younger than me. I also feel that the Kingdom focuses on talents and the art scene and produces art events everywhere. If we only believe, we can outperform international shows,” he said.

Source: arabnews.com

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US thanks Saudi Arabia for enabling safe evacuation of American citizens from Sudan

May 01, 2023

RIYADH: The commander of US Central Command General Michael “Erik” Kurilla thanked Saudi Arabia for its support in evacuating US citizens from Sudan on Monday.

During a phone call with the Royal Saudi Chief of General Staff Lieutenant-General Fayyadh bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Kurilla said the Kingdom had provided access, basing, and overflights as well as resources to evacuate hundreds of American citizens.

“This support allowed the movement of these Americans from Sudan to safety in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,” Kurilla said.

He added that the rapid coordination between the two countries was “allowed due to the firm US-Saudi partnership, which dates back more than seven decades.”

“We will continue to build on that partnership into the future,” he said.

Saudi Arabia evacuated over 200 people from Sudan on Monday and those on board HMS Abha included American citizens.

Source: arabnews.com

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Value and rights of employees in spotlight at event in Riyadh marking International Workers’ Day

May 01, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi National Committee of Workers Committees hosted a forum on Monday to mark International Workers’ Day and help boost communication and cooperation between labor organizations to benefit the workforce.

“We confirm our commitment to protecting workers and their rights in our country by presenting proposals and initiatives that help address their situation,” said the organization’s chairman, Nasser Al-Jarid.

“We stress the importance of fostering social dialogue among the concerned parties involved in production to achieve optimal solutions and results that balance the interests of all parties and prioritize the national interest. This approach contributes to the development and prosperity of the economy.”

The aims of the forum, which took place in Riyadh under the patronage of Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi, included strengthening communication among members of labor organizations, promoting a labor culture, and showcasing success stories, organizers said.

It also set out to provide leaders of labor-related organizations with opportunities to meet, share their experiences, build partnerships, discuss challenges, and encourage the development of positive initiatives designed to benefit all workers.

The event highlighted best practices for labor committees in efforts to achieve their goals, along with topics related to boosting productivity, balancing the interests of workers and their employers, and stable labor relations.

The participants took part in dialogue sessions and workshops that addressed effective ways in which emerging technologies can be leveraged to overcome challenges and realize aspirations; the challenges facing workers in business environments; and ways to raise awareness about the rights of women in the workplace in accordance with Saudi labor laws.

The forum concluded by honoring the trailblazers of the labor movement in Saudi Arabia.

International Workers’ Day, known as Labor Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of workers that is promoted by the international labor movement and observed every year on May 1 or the first Monday of the month.

Source: arabnews.com

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Over 200 people evacuated by Saudi Arabia from Sudan arrive in Jeddah

May 01, 2023

RIYADH: Over 200 people evacuated by Saudi Arabia from Sudan arrived in Jeddah on HMS Abha on Monday, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said.

The evacuees included 41 Saudi citizens and 171 people from countries including Afghanistan, Philippines, Comoros, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Madagascar, the UK, Syria, and the US.

The Kingdom is keen to provide all the basic needs for nationals of friendly countries in preparation for facilitating their departure to their homelands, the ministry said.

The latest Saudi evacuation brings the total number of those evacuated from Sudan to 5,409 people (225 Saudi citizens, and 5,184 people belonging to 102 nationalities).

Source: arabnews.com

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41 Saudi Citizens and 171 Others from Brotherly and Friendly Countries Arrive in Saudi Arabia from Sudan

01 May, 2023

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the directives of its leadership, continues to make efforts to evacuate its citizens and nationals of brotherly and friendly countries from the Republic of Sudan to the Kingdom. This evening, 41 Saudi citizens and 171 individuals of various nationalities arrived at the H M S "Abha" ship, including citizens from Afghanistan, the Philippines, Comoros, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Madagascar, the UK, Syria, and the USA.

The Kingdom has been providing all necessary assistance to nationals of brotherly and friendly countries in preparation for facilitating their departure to their respective countries. With this latest arrival, the total number of evacuees has reached approximately 5,409 individuals, comprising 225 Saudi citizens and around 5,184 foreign nationals from 102 different countries.

Source: alriyadhdaily.com

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South Asia

 

Islamic Emirate Officials Deny the Accusations ofan Intelligence Officer at Limits of Freedom and Independence

2023-05-02

KABUL (BNA) The Islamic Emirate denied the accusations of Hassan Abbas, an intelligence officer, against the Islamic Emirate’s leaders and called it baseless.

In response to the publication of a book, said: “An intelligence agent named Hassan Abbas, in his book entitled (Return of the Taliban), made baseless and far-fetched accusations against the Islamic Emirate’s leaders”.

The book claimed that the Islamic Emirate does not have independence and its functions are under the supervision of the intelligence and military authorities of other countries.

“This intelligence agent has not aware of the fact that the Islamic Emirate has a proud history of winning, maintainting and nurturing its independence, any rational person who wants to research the independence and freedom of the leader of the Islamic Emirate, easly come to the conclusion that this line and officials are not limits of freedom and independence”. the statment added

Hassan Abbas is a mercenary hired by an intelligence agency to defile sea with his own failed efforts, said the statement.

Just as the Islamic Emirate has sacrificed a lot to gain its independence and freedom, in the same way it is ready to make sacrifices to maintain its freedom and independence and will not let its independence fall into the clutches of any country or intelligence organization at any cost.

Our countrymen are well aware of the officials of the Islamic Emirate and have full faith in them, such intelligence conspiracies cannot disturb the mentality of our system and officials and fillfull their evil ambitious, added to the end of the statement.

Source: bakhtarnews.af

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Over 200 Afghan Refugees Return Home From Pakistan

May 2, 2023

According to reports by the head of Spin Boldak refugee department, some 24 families, including 55 people have been released from Karachi prisons, which includes 24 children.

Furthermore, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation had announced earlier in the week that 120 Afghan migrants had been extradited to the country through Spin Boldak border town in southern Kandahar provinces.

Previously, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had announced that the continuous return of Afghan refugees from neighboring countries is closely linked to the rising inflation and lack of employment opportunities in the host countries. 

This comes as the influx of Afghan refugees increased to the neighboring countries of Iran and Pakistan after the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021.

In the recent past, the Taliban’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation has repeatedly reported on the return of Afghan citizens from Pakistan and Iran. Some of these refugees have been forcefully deported, and others willingly left the host countries, according to a statement by Taliban officials.

As per the existing reports, currently, more than six million Afghan nationals reside in Iran and Pakistan, respectively, making the highest number of refugees the two countries have been hosting for decades.

Despite all the odds, Pakistan and Iran have generously hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades to live a peaceful life, work, educate and thrive respectively. 

Source: khaama.com

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Taliban FM to meet Pakistan, China foreign ministers: Media

2 May 2023

 A United Nations Security Council committee has agreed to allow the Taliban’s interim foreign minister, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, to travel to Pakistan from Afghanistan to meet with Pakistani and Chinese counterparts, according to news reports.

The Reuters news agency reported on Monday that Pakistan’s UN mission requested an exemption for Muttaqi to travel between May 6 and 9 “for a meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China”.

Muttaqi has long been subjected to a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo under UN Security Council sanctions. The UN Security Council committee agreed to allow Muttaqi to travel to Uzbekistan last month for a meeting of the foreign ministers of neighbouring countries of Afghanistan to discuss urgent peace, security, and stability matters.

Afghanistan’s TOLOnews outlet said earlier on Monday that media in Pakistan were reporting on the upcoming visit and that Muttaqi would meet with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Afghanistan’s foreign ministry had not yet commented on the reported trip, according to TOLOnews.

News of the Taliban official’s trip comes as representatives of nearly two dozen countries and international institutions met on Monday in Qatar with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks on Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the plight of women and girls under the Taliban administration.

Taliban authorities were not invited to attend the closed-door two-day meeting in Doha, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

The meeting aims “to achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban”, said Dujarric, who noted that recognition of Taliban rule “is not up for discussion”. Key discussion topics include women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking, he said.

Since seizing power in August 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed rules that the UN has labelled “gender-based apartheid”.

“Any meeting about Afghanistan without the participation of the Afghan government is ineffective and counterproductive,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson, told Al Jazeera.

Women have been barred from almost all secondary education and universities, and prevented from working in most government jobs. Last month, Taliban authorities extended the ban to working with UN agencies.

The Taliban administration says the ban is an “internal issue” that should not influence foreign dealings.

But, in response, the UN has ordered a review of its critical relief operation in Afghanistan, where many in the 38-million-strong population rely on food aid. The review is due to be completed on Friday. The UN has said it faces an “appalling choice” over whether to maintain its relief efforts in Afghanistan.

Guterres said on social media before leaving for Doha that “reversing all measures that restrict women’s rights to work is key to reaching the millions of people in Afghanistan that require humanitarian assistance”.

Though not invited to the talks, the head of the Taliban representative office in Doha, Sohail Shaheen, said he had met with delegation members from the United Kingdom and China. He said the UN meeting and “the importance of engagement” were among topics raised.

Source: aljazeera.com

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No Magic Solution to the Afghan Crisis, Says Swiss UN Envoy

May 2, 2023

Switzerland took the presidency of the UN Security Council for the first time on Monday, May 1, 2023. 

Baeriswyl told to reporters at the UN Headquarter that Afghanis is currently faced with an extremely complicated challenge, and said “We do not have a magic solution to the Afghan crisis”.

Ms. Baeriswyl expressed her optimism about the ongoing Doha Meeting, and said, “I am hopeful that Doha Meeting would conclude to finding ways to manage the Afghan crisis,” which has affected women and girls the most than other segments of society.

This comes as Doha Meeting chaired by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and participants from 25 countries and international institutions is going on in Qatar.

The meeting is aimed at achieving a general consensus to interact with the Taliban and adopt a single approach towards the policies of the de facto authorities of Afghanistan.

Participants from the US, China, Russia, and Afghanistan’s neighboring countries including Pakistan and European partners have been invited to the two-day-closed door meeting the discuss Afghanistan.

Stéphane Dujarric, the UN Spokesperson on Friday said the Taliban representatives have not been invited to the meeting. Also, it is believed that recognizing Afghanistan’s de facto regime is not part of the agenda.

The UN has announced that major issues including women’s rights, forming an inclusive government, countering terrorism, drug trafficking, and finding a common approach to engage with the Taliban administration would be discussed thoroughly.

Source: khaama.com

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