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

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We All Belong To the Motherland, Bharat: ‘Islam Is Safe in India…Forget Foreign Connections’: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

New Age Islam News Bureau

02 June 2023

 

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

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India

• Rahul Gandhi Calls Kerala Ally Muslim League A ‘Secular Party’, Faces BJP Ire; Congress Fires Back

• 3 Muslim boys assaulted for hanging out with female Hindu friends in Mangaluru

• West Bengal parties use Sagardighi defection and NRC to reach out to Muslims 

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Africa

• Muslim Africans' Harrowing Journey to Israel

• Bode George makes u-turn, pledges to work with Tinubu if invited

• Police kill two wanted terrorists, rescue kidnapped victim

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Mideast

• Amid Rapprochement with Iran, Egypt Invites Hamas, Jihad Leaders to Cairo

• Grandson of Imam Khomeini Apologizes To Reporter over Bodyguards’ Misbehaviour

• Egyptian Islamic Banking Sector Grows 25% YoY in March: Islamic Finance Association

• Oman unveils monument dedicated to Chinese Muslim admiral Zheng He

• Tripoli MP Forms New Parliamentary Bloc amid Shifting Sunni Landscape

• Cooperation Centre: We urge the international community not to remain silent in the face of the actions of the Islamic Republic

• Maryland Legislature Funds Pro-Iran Mosque Entangled in Terror Trials

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Europe

• Civil Society Leaders Label Regulator ‘Islamophobic’ Over Action against Controversial Mosque

• Police appoint controversial mosque infiltrator to fight discrimination

• Muslim Council of Britain concerned over chair of review into Leicester unrest

• Leicester riots: Muslim council express 'deep concern' over review leader

• Crookes murder probe: Mosque make plea to end 'senseless violence' after Mohammed Iqbal, 17, stabbed to death

• Southampton Muslim centre has 84 objections despite existing for years

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North America

• 19 US Republican Senators Prepare To Introduce Bill Sanctioning Islamic Emirate

• Lack Of Accessibility To Mosque A ‘Challenge’ Say Some Kingston Residents

• CAIR Urges Biden Administration to Act on Ethiopia Mosque Demolitions

• Residents Requesting School Holiday for Islamic Celebration ofEid-al-Fitr

• Soldiers of End-Times: Assessing the Military Effectiveness of the Islamic State

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Arab World

• Tropical Condition of Arabian Sea Not To Affect Saudi Arabia: National Centre of Meteorology

• Saudi Arabia agrees to give Belize $45m loan to support healthcare infrastructure

• Crown Prince congratulates Erdogan on re-election

• Up to SR5 million fine for breaking postal regulations

• Saudi FM meets with Russian and Indian counterparts in Cape Town

• ‘I’m here to Stay,’ Ronaldo Speaks Out About Continuing In Saudi League

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South Asia

• Kabul Stresses Need for Negotiation with Tehran Over 1973 Water Treaty

• Foreign Forces Committed Serious Crimes in Afghanistan: Sources

• Afghan Security Forces Kill ISIS Commander in Eastern Afghanistan

• Bangladesh bans 1st-class travel for govt employees

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Pakistan

• Govt Toughens Stance on Isolated Imran, But Leaves Room For Dialogue

• Lahore court extends Imran’s bail in 3 cases linked to May 9 violence

• Imran levelling baseless allegations to divert attention from May 9 events: PM

• Govt should consult SC on reforms bill: CJP

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Southeast Asia

• Malaysia Announced Best Muslim-Friendly Destination by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

• DPM Fadillah: CPTPP A New Phase In Malaysia-UK Bilateral Relations

• Muslim travel interest on the rise again

• NGO shares new Muslim's struggle to regain custody of daughter

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/rss-bhagwat-bharat-muslims/d/129909

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 We All Belong To the Motherland, Bharat: ‘Islam Is Safe in India…Forget Foreign Connections’: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

 

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

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Jun 02, 2023

RSS chief said, “The methods of worship are different and there are differences in faiths we believe in but we all belong to the motherland, Bharat.”

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday said the Islam community in India is safe and there is a need to move away from “foreign connections”. Speaking at the valedictory function of the 3rd year Officers' Training Course (OTC) of the Hindutva group in Nagpur, he said, “Though we all look different and follow different faiths, we all belong to the motherland, Bharat.”

Bhagwat was quoted by Live Hindustan as saying, “The country is divided due to the perception that we look different, and that is why we feel the need for different countries. This thought process led to the partition of our country.”

“Their methods of worship may be different, but they all have the same roots,” he added.

The RSS chief also mentioned that in the past, Islam was spread from Spain to Mongolia by invaders, but eventually, the natives realised it and defeated the invaders. He said that those who spread new ways of worship and different religions are no longer present, while those who stayed back now belong to this land saying, “Where else is Islam safer than in India?”

Referring to colonialism and its impact, Bhagwat highlighted that India was in a situation where caste divisions and injustices existed, which created an advantage for foreign invaders. He said, “We should take steps to rectify all those mistakes.”

Bhagwat emphasised that there is no division in the country, but rather “unity in diversity”. He called for dialogue instead of controversy and urged everyone to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

Bhagwat's comments after Rahul's attack on Modi in US

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on his visit to the US criticised the Modi government in a speech delivered in California on Wednesday. He accused the RSS-BJP combine is attacking the Indian way of life, the idea of India and the Indian constitution. Gandhi also said that India is currently an unfair place for Dalits, tribals, minorities, and the poor.

On Thursday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, without mentioning any specific party or individual, said that actions aimed at tarnishing India's image provide an opportunity for those seeking to do so. “We should not give such an opportunity to anyone,” he said.

Lauding India

In Nagpur's event, Bhagwat praised India's Presidency of the G20 Summit and emphasised the importance of nationalism as a “non-negotiable value”. He called for “emotional integrity” and also highlighted India's resilience during the global economic crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bhagwat reiterated his belief that people living in India have Hindu roots, stating that their forefathers were Hindus. While acknowledging different methods of worship, he said that all individuals in India share the same roots.

He further said that living in Hindustan (India) makes everyone Hindu in a broader cultural sense, even if they follow different faiths. According to Bhagwat, the acceptance of Hindu ethos has enabled the diverse streams of society to develop their distinct identities.

(With inputs from Pradip Kumar Maitra)

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/islam-is-safe-in-india-forget-foreign-connections-rss-chief-mohan-bhagwat-101685676872813.html

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Right to Pray Inside Gyanvapi Mosque Will Not Change Its Character to A Temple: Allahabad HC

 

The Court upheld the September 12, 2022 order of the Varanasi Court which held the suit to be maintainable. (PTI Photo/File)

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02-06-23

The demand of Hindu plaintiffs merely seeking the right to worship inside the Gyanvapi Mosque is not an act that will change its character to a temple, the Allahabad High Court has held.

The court made the observation while dismissing a revision plea challenging the maintainability of the petition filed by Hindu plaintiffs seeking permission to worship inside the mosque. The petition had been filed the Anjuman Intazamia Committee, which manages the mosque. The plea was dismissed on Wednesday and the judgement was made public the next day.

Five Hindu women had last year filed a plea seeking rights to worship inside the mosque compound. They had claimed that an image of Hindu deity Shringar Gauri exists at the mosque.

The mosque committee had challenged the plea contending that violates the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which states that the religious character of a place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947 cannot be changed.

In his verdict, Justice JJ Munir of the Allahabad High Court said that Hindus had worshipped their deities inside the mosque complex since August 15, 1947, and till as late as 1993. Since, the Places of Worship Act came to effect only in 1991, so their right to worship cannot be denied under the law, the judge held.

“This court fails to see that if the plaintiffs or devotees like them can do pooja and darshan of the deities on a single day in the year with no threat to the mosque’s character, how the making of it a daily or a weekly affair, would lead to a conversion or change of the mosque’s character,” the order stated.

The court also dismissed the argument put forward by the mosque committee that the Hindu plaintiffs were seeking to establish rights of their entire community by demanding rights to worship. The court held that the plaintiffs were instead only seeking to exercise their individual rights to worship.

The mosque committee had first filed the plea in a Varanasi district court, which had held in September that Hindu plaintiffs seeking the right to pray inside the Gyanvapi mosque premises is maintainable and can be heard further. The mosque committee then moved the Allahabad High Court.

Source: scroll.in

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https://scroll.in/latest/1050223/right-to-pray-inside-gyanvapi-mosque-will-not-change-its-character-to-a-temple-allahabad-hc

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Libya Moderate Islamic Interpretations under Threat As More Radicals Penetrate Government Institutions

 

People gather at The Martyrs' Square to celebrate the 9th anniversary of Libyans’ 17 February Revolution in Tripoli, Libya on February 17, 2020 [Hazem Turkia / Anadolu Agency]

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June 1, 2023

Hundreds of Libyans took to social media recently to express their anger and disappointment at the latest decision by the country's General Authority for Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (GAAIA) to create what it calls "Guardians of Virtue", supposedly to guard Islamic virtue in the Muslim society. GAAIA's chairman, Mohammed Al-Abani signed, 25 May, decree no 436/2023 launching what the Authority describes as an "awareness program" to, generally, protect and guard Islamic virtues and values in the already moderately-conservative Muslim country. Opponents compare the "program" to secret police aiming at "policing minds of people" said Khalil Al-Hassi, anti-corruption activist and journalist.

How the "program" will be run and what legal and constitutional legitimacy the Authority has to police Islam in the country is a source of controversy. Many critics fear the new power GAAIA is gaining is illegal and unconstitutional because such issues are outside its scope of work.

However, GAAIA and its many followers defended the idea of creating "guardians of virtue" by pointing to allegations of many Libyans converting to Christianity. They claim that many "foreign" civil society organisations, disguised as aid agencies, are operating in the country with little to no proper government control. They accuse them of helping many young Libyans convert to Christianity.

They point to Libya's Internal Security Agency's crackdown, earlier this year, on such organisations which led to the detention of an unknown number of Libyans accused of abandoning Islam for Christianity, or becoming atheists. Among the detainees were two American citizens who claim to teach English in private schools, but the security agency accused them of proselytising and helping many Libyan become Christians. Both were deported, while the Libyans remained in detention awaiting trial. Proselytising in Libya is a serious crime and could be punishable by the death penalty. Last March, Amnesty International called on the Libyan government in Tripoli to stop what it called "persecution of young Libyans by militiamen and security agents under the guise of protecting "Libyan and Islamic values".

However, more liberal Libyans accuse GAAIA of being an extremist organisation controlled by religious radicals, including its chairman Mr. Al-Abani. In its 2021 report, the National Audit Bureau accused the Authority of serious financial misconduct and its head of misuse of public funds. They also fear that such a wide range of powers given to the Authority erodes freedoms and threatens civil society, driving the country to become more "conservative and even radical", said Mohssen, a law student in Tripoli, who does not want to publish his family name.

Beneath the surface, the story is about conflict between different religious teachings flourishing in the country. For example, Eid Al-Fitar, last April, was celebrated on two different days in the country – something that never happened in Libya throughout its history. The country's Fatwa House announced that Eid would be on Saturday, 22 April, while GAAIA said it was on the day before. Different parts and cities in Libya observed Eid on different days. Both institutions are, supposedly, part of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, led by Prime Minister, AbdulhamidDbeibah. This unprecedented event in Libya, many believe, is kind of spreading more divisions in the already divided country with two governments, one recognised by the United Nations in Tripoli, while another unrecognised one in the East.

GAAIA believes the threat to Islam in the country is very serious and should be tackled before it becomes a serious "deviation in faith", difficult to treat, said Yahia Ben Halim, one of the leaders of the "guardians of virtue" program. Speaking at a recent TV talk show, Mr. Ben Halim rejected the idea that there is any "fighting" among different religious groups in the country. He said they were not policing people's beliefs but "we are the guardians of virtue, as God has commanded us to speak kindly". At the same talk show, WanisMabrouk, member of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Libya, accused GAAIA of "violating" international law. He also questioned the legal grounds of "the program", which he accused of "sowing" hate in the country.

Political division is, certainly, part of the story but the reality lies in the conflict raging beneath the surface between different interpretations of Islam in a usually harmonious country, with no different regional beliefs and very little ethnic diversity, that never was an issue before.

While the legal and constitutional debate goes on about what GAAIA can and cannot do, the ambiguity of "the program" and how it will be implemented raises further problems for the country and the entity behind it – GAAIA, in this case.

Undoubtedly, Libya is witnessing fundamental changes that run deep into the society and its way of life ever since 2011, when NATO supported rebels toppled the late leader, Muammer Gaddafi.  Milad Abdelsalam, a sociologist in Benghazi, thinks what happened then was a "political and social tsunami" and, after such violent "shake ups, nothing stays the same", he added.

Before 2011, interpretation of Islamic teachings was not an issue nor a reason for division but, since then, the country has seen a growing number of fanatic groups preaching their own, usually extreme, version of Islam,  completely foreign to Libya throughout its history. In 2015, for example, Daesh took over Sirte in the middle of the country, imposing its harsh, supposedly Islamic Sharia on the population before it was expelled in 2016, while Al-Qaeda is still suspected to have sleeper cells in the virtually ungoverned southern region. A few days ago, a court in Misrata, western Libya, sentenced 23 Daesh members to death, while many more are still awaiting trial. Between 2012 and 2017, in Eastern Libya, particularly Benghazi, Ansar Al-Shariah group almost completely controlled the region and took years to be defeated by General Haftar's army.

The battle for Libya's soul is not over yet and Islam is certainly part of it, when it should not be, actually. Greedy politicians will always use Islam for their own political gains, at the expense of the wider society. However, Islam in its moderate interpretation will always be dominant among Libyans.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230601-libya-moderate-islamic-interpretations-under-threat-as-more-radicals-penetrate-government-institutions/

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Animal Rights: Shia Islamic Cleric Defies Taboo around Dogs by Opening a Rescue Shelter in Iran

 

Iranian cleric Sayed Mahdi Tabatabaei looks after stray dogs at his shelter in Qom (Photo: Vahid Salemi/AP)

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June 1, 2023

A cleric has become an unlikely figurehead for animal rights after he opened a dog refuge in Iran.

Sayed Mahdi Tabatabaei, a Shia Muslim, rescues stray dogs and posts about his activities to his 800,000 Instagram followers.

Mr Tabatabaei opened Bamak Paradise, a rescue shelter in Qom, a city that is home to several religious schools in north-central Iran, where he nurses neglected strays.

His passion is somewhat controversial – in Iran dogs are generally seen as unclean and sometimes shunned.

In 2019, animal rights activists turned out onto the streets of the Iranian capital Tehran after videos emerged showing dogs and puppies being killed via gruesome state-approved injections.

Islam is against animal cruelty, and across Middle Eastern countries food and water is left aside for stray cats. However, in Iran dogs are taboo, and there are no regulations in place to protect them against animal cruelty.

The Iranian regime, which has ruled the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, states dogs are “unclean”.

Mr Tabatabaei, a self-proclaimed animal lover who wears the Shiite black turban, said he acknowledges his passion is unconventional.

“It’s pretty interesting and kind of weird for them to witness a religious figure doing this stuff,” he told the Associated Press.

“My videos seem to leave a good impression on people too. They say they feel a wave of kindness, peace, and friendship coming through those videos.”

His fame has landed him in hot water with the Iranian authorities. When pictures appeared of him looking after dogs while wearing his clerical robes, a religious court called for him to be defrocked in 2021.

The ruling was later suspended, but Mr Tabatabaei now wears civilian clothes while tending to the dogs and cleaning their kennels at Bamak Paradise.

“We take in dogs with disabilities that cannot survive in the wild and have a hard time finding adoptive homes,” he said.

“Many of them are dogs I’ve personally nursed back to health. They stay here until they fully recover and regain their strength.”

To fund the rescue shelter he relies on donations from animal lovers in Iran and abroad, an increasingly tenuous task as the country’s banking system is cut off from other nations, making it difficult to transfer funds.

The US has also ramped up its economic sanctions in an ongoing debacle over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

“I appeal to Western governments, particularly the US government and others capable of influencing the lifting of sanctions, to consider making exceptions for organisations like ours that engage in humanitarian and peaceful endeavors,” Mr Tabatabaei said.

“By allowing us to establish bank accounts and verifying our identities, we would be able to receive assistance from individuals and charities outside of Iran without them breaching the sanctions and risking legal complications.”

Source: inews.co.uk

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https://inews.co.uk/news/world/islamic-cleric-taboo-dogs-rescue-shelter-iran-2379568

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Europe Appeases the Iranian Islamists of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

 

Photo: Middle East Forum

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May 31, 2023

It's time for European politicians to follow the U.S. in designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. That became manifestly clear and urgent on March 28, 2023 when Greek authorities exposed an Islamist terror plot to attack a Chabad house in downtown Athens.

"Their aim was not only the loss of innocent civilians," Greek police said, "but also undermining the security feeling in our country." The infrastructure that operated in Greece was part of an extensive Iranian network run by the Quds Force, the external operations branch of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This network, which spans many countries, includes Lebanese Hezbollah, a group responsible for bombing tourist buses, hostage-taking, and abducting and killing journalists, media directors, and dissidents in Europe.

It's not as if EU policy makers don't know what's going on. It's well documented that the Quds force recruits members of local drug mafias in Europe to do its dirty work. Hossein Salami, IRGC commander-in-chief, accepts the responsibility for threating journalists in London. The force has sleeping cells, operatives, and proxies in five continents ready to act.

Despite all this, numerous European countries balked when the European Parliament declared that it was time to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Instead of listing the organization as a whole, numerous countries have designated individual operatives as terrorists. The best description of Europe's failure to confront the IRGC is appeasement. For the third time in recent memory, Western elites have refused to confront totalitarians in their midst. It happened in the mid-20th century with the German Nazis, it happened in the 1950s and '60s with the Soviet Communists and their supporters, and it's happening again in the first half of the 21st.

Europe's appeasers have provided three reasons for not listing IRGC as a terrorist organization. First, they argue that listing the IRGC as a terrorist organization will result in sanctions against people who serve in Iran's military not as volunteers, but as draftees. That's the tack taken by Canada's Attorney General and Justice Minister David Lametti, who, in a news conference last October, argued that there is a need to target the truly "bad actors without catching innocent people as well."

The problem with this line of reasoning is that the IRGC's Quds Force is not part of Iran's defensive military system, like its national army. It is rather a terrorist organization charged with establishing, by force, a global Islamist regime. Consequently, forced enlistment in Iran's regular army cannot and should not be a barrier to listing the Guard as a terrorist organization. The IRGC has nothing to do with defending Iran. It is about destabilizing Western democracies. The Qods Force is an entirely volunteer organization, staffed by individuals personally committed to the regime.

The second justification for giving the IRGC a pass is a lack of legal justification. In February, German Foreign Minister AnnalenaBaerbock said that German experts "found no legal grounds to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization." It's an astonishing statement. According to a data set of Iranian foreign operations (including assassination, abduction, and surveillance plots), Iran has instigated at least 33 plots in Europe over just the past five years.

To further the "no legal grounds" justification, EU foreign affairs chiefJosepBorrell declared that adding the IRGC to the European list would require that it first be blacklisted by an EU member state. So far, no EU member has taken that step.

In reality, EU policy specifically notes that a proposed terrorist listing can be made on the basis of third-party information, not just EU member state information: "Persons groups and entities can be added to the list on the basis of proposals submitted by member states based on a decision by a competent authority of a member state or a third country." The U.S., as an ally and third party for Europe, did this four years ago.

For over four decades, the IRGC has been responsible for plotting and executing global terrorist attacks, hostage-takings, maritime piracy, and political assassinations on foreign soil – including in Europe and the U.S. It has provided key operational support for terrorist attacks stretching as far afield as Bulgaria, Thailand and Argentina. "In 2018, Germany uncovered 10 IRGC operatives involved in a terrorist plot in Germany."

The third reason for the EU's hesitation to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization is the fear it will provoke a war with Iran. This fear is rooted in repeated threats made by IRGC's high-ranking officials. Hossein Salami, Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, warned European countries that the Islamic Republic can target them by increasing the range of its weapons. He made this threat after the EU parliament passed a resolution on putting IRGC on the terrorist list. The IRGC commander said: "We have the ability to increase the range of weapons and strike them [European countries] seriously. ... We warn them. The lives of Europeans depend on oil and security, and they should be careful and not endanger themselves." European officials usually take these threats seriously.

These threats give credence to the "sanctions will cause war" narrative promoted by Iran's lobby in the United States. There is no evidence for the correlation between listing an organization in a terror or sanctions list and military escalation. There are however multiple examples of adversaries of Western civilization becoming more aggressive when European leaders fail to stand up to them.

The upshot is that while brave dissidents in the Iranian diaspora stand up to Iranian Islamism, sometimes at great risk to themselves, officials charged with protecting their countries use every excuse to avoid standing up to Iranian proxies. For example, London's Counter Terrorism Policing instructed Iran International to relocate its studios from London to Washington DC in February 2023.

It is time European elites follow the example of these dissidents, and get tough with Tehran.

Source: meforum.org

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https://www.meforum.org/64479/europe-appeases-the-iranian-islamists-of-the-irgc

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India

Rahul Gandhi calls Kerala ally Muslim League a ‘secular party’, faces BJP ire; Congress fires back

June 02, 2023

Devika Bhattacharya

By Devika Bhattacharya: A fresh war of words erupted between the BJP and the Congress on Friday after Rahul Gandhi referred to the Muslim League, the grand old party’s ally in Kerala, as a "completely secular party".

The flashpoint was the Gandhi scion’s remarks during an interaction with reporters at the National Press Club in Washington DC. A reporter asked Rahul Gandhi about the Congress's alliance with Muslim League in Kerala in the context of its championing secularism and opposing the BJP’s Hindutva politics.

“Muslim League is a completely secular party. There is nothing non-secular about Muslim League,” said Gandhi.

A clip of the Congress leader’s response started doing the rounds on social media. The BJP latched on to the video and hit out at Gandhi for his “disingenuous and sinister” statement. It claimed that due to his compulsion to remain acceptable in Wayanad, his former Lok Sabha constituency, that he called Muslim League a 'secular party'.

“Jinnah’s Muslim League, the party responsible for India’s partition, on religious lines, according to Rahul Gandhi is a ‘secular’ party. Rahul Gandhi, though poorly read, is simply being disingenuous and sinister hereâ€æ It is also his compulsion to remain acceptable in Wayanad,” tweeted BJP I-T Cell incharge Amit Malviya.

For the record, the Muslim League led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML ) based in Kerala are two entirely distinct and unrelated parties. The IUML is a traditional ally of the Congress-led UDF in Kerala.

Making the very same distinction, Congress leader Pawan Khera reacted sharply to the BJP’s charges with a few of his own. “Anpadhhobhai (Are you illiterate)?” he tweeted.

“Don't know the difference between Kerala's Muslim League and Jinnah's Muslim League? Jinnah's Muslim League is the one with which your forefathers allied. The second Muslim League is the one with which the BJP had an alliance,” Khera elaborated.

The Congress leader was making a reference to the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. According to some historical sources, the RSS sided with the Muslim League to sit out of civil disobedience movements and were allies in propagating the two-nation theory.

Khera’s second reference was regarding the BJP roping in two IUML corporators to retain control of the the Nagpur Municipal Corporation in 2012.

Congress National Spokesperson SupriyaShrinate accused Amit Malviya of being a “fake news peddler”.

Rahul Gandhi, who is in the US for a three-city US tour, fielded questions on a whole host of topics at National Press Club interaction, including Opposition unity and religious freedoms in India, the issues faced by the minorities and on the state of the economy.

He said the Opposition is pretty well united and a lot of good work is happening on the ground, as he asserted that there is a hidden undercurrent building and it will "surprise" the people in the next general elections.

Pointing out the outcome of the Karnataka assembly elections where Congress secured a comfortable majority and ousted the BJP from power, Gandhi said, "Wait and watch the next three or four state electionsâ€æ. which is a better indicator of what's going to happen.”

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rahul-gandhi-calls-kerala-ally-muslim-league-a-secular-party-faces-bjp-ire-congress-fires-back-2387781-2023-06-02

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3 Muslim boys assaulted for hanging out with female Hindu friends in Mangaluru

Jun 1, 2023

By Sagay Raj: Three Muslim boys were hanging out with their Hindu friends at Someshwar beach in Mangaluru when they were assaulted by a few miscreants on Thursday.

The group, comprising three boys and three girls, was hanging out at the beach when a few people approached them. They then started questioning the three boys, following which an argument broke out. The miscreants then beat up the three Muslim youth and then fled the spot.

Kuldeep Kumar Jain, Mangalore Police Commissioner, said, “Today at around 7.20 pm, a group of friends (totally 6) were at Someshwara beach. Few people came and asked their details like name, etc and then beat up the three boys.”

“Our 112 vehicle reached the spot and shifted the victims to hospital. FIR is being registered based on the complaint. The accused are at present absconding. We have formed 2 teams to secure the accused persons,” the Mangalore Police Commissioner added.

The three boys and three girls are students enrolled in a medical college and hail from Kerala.

This is the second incident of moral policing that has been reported in Karnataka in one week. Earlier, a boy and a girl belonging to different faiths were harassed by a group for sharing a meal at a restaurant in Chikkaballapura.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/muslims-boys-assaulted-for-hanging-out-with-female-hindu-friends-in-mangaluru-2387688-2023-06-01

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West Bengal parties use Sagardighi defection and NRC to reach out to Muslims 

The defection of Sagardighi MLA is a masterstroke by Trinamool Congress feels a section of political observers

June 01, 2023

Shiv Sahay Singh

“Muslims in West Bengal will not vote for us,” Leader of Opposition SuvenduAdhikari said while speaking to mediapersons on Wednesday. The BJP leader went on to accuse West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of ‘poisoning the Muslims’ in the State against the BJP on the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC).  The Nandigram MLA’s comment was in the context of defection of the Congress MLA from SagardighiBayron Biswas to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on May 29 and how it was impossible for a BJP candidate to win the constituency with 70 % Muslim electorate.

This was not the first time Mr. Adhikari has raised the issue of the NRC. Over the past few months, the BJP leaders had reached out to Muslims in the State pointing out that they had been fooled during the 2021 Assembly poll by being threatened on the issue of NRC. Unlike the other BJP leaders in the State, Mr. Adhikari has taken a different approach while reaching out to Muslims and has pointed out that a large number of Muslims in West Bengal were migrating out for jobs.  Mr. Adhikari has been emphasising that the BJP was not against “nationalist Muslims” and trying to get some support from the community which officially comprises 27.01 % electorate in the State.

Mr. Adhikari’s remarks were in response to the Sagardighi defection and the TMC leadership raking up the issue of the NRC. Ms. Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee have been ‘warning’ Muslims that the BJP government at the Centre was making fresh attempts at implementing the NRC.

On April 18, while addressing a press conference at the State Secretariat, the Chief Minister cited a letter from the Centre on identifying illegal Aadhaar cardholders in North and South 24 Parganas districts flagging concerns that the BJP government was reviving the citizenship overdrive ahead of the general election. Since then, the TMC leadership which is busy at a party outreach led by Mr. Banerjee has repeatedly raised the issue.

Mr. Biswas’s defection to the TMC has also assumed significance as far as the support of Muslim electorate in the State is concerned. The people of Sagardighi on February 28 had chosen to vote for the Left-supported Congress candidate instead of the TMC and Mr. Biswas won with a margin of nearly 23,000 votes.

Keeping the ideological and moral issues relating to defection aside, a section of political observers feel that the defection is going to help the Trinamool as far Muslim electorate is concerned.  “The defection of Bayron Biswas is a masterstroke from the Trinamool Congress. It will give a message to the Muslim voters that they may choose to vote for anyone but the elected representative will eventually join the ruling party,” political observer and psephologistBiswanathChakraborty said.

Prof. Chakraborty said that Muslims had a tendency to vote for a party that would defeat the BJP and unless the BJP was able to get some support from the community the party may not taste electoral success in the State.

Source: thehindu.com

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-parties-use-sagardighi-defection-and-nrc-to-reach-out-to-muslims/article66920384.ece

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Africa

 

Muslim Africans' Harrowing Journey to Israel

01-06-23

"I was dancing with joy when I arrived. It was one of the happiest days of my life." So spoke Ismail Abdul-Rasul, a father of four from Darfur in Sudan, describing his 2007 reception in Israel after five miserable years in Egypt and a hellish journey across the Sinai Peninsula.

Generally forgotten today, a large influx of Africans—Eritreans and Sudanese especially—made their way without authorization during the years 2006-12 to live in Israel. Their immigration temporarily traumatized Israelis and left a substantial body of Africans living in the country, mainly in Tel Aviv. The total number of illegal migrants to Israel from Africa is estimated at 55,000, with about 35,000 living in the country today. This episode is worth recalling for its drama, horror, resolution, and implications.

The Passage

Muslim Africans nearly all reached the Jewish state by land. The influx began in 2006, apparently due to some Egyptian smugglers helping a few hundred Africans to enter Israel and the Israeli government treating them leniently. As word got back to Egypt and more distant parts of the continent, larger numbers followed. Journalist Uriel

Heilman in 2009 captured the motives of Africans living in Egypt:

On one side lies peril and poverty—crowded refugee camps, scarce jobs, and overzealous Egyptian soldiers ready to open fire on anyone trying to flee to Israel. ... On the other side lies relative prosperity and protection—a westernized country, a more sympathetic government, and a broad array of refugee services including, in some cases, jobs.

"It's good. I love Israel. There's good people here," said Emanuel, a 16-year-old Sudanese boy who made it safely across. ... Emanuel sleeps on a clean bed, gets three meals a day, and occasionally gets taken to swimming pools, summer camps, and nature excursions.

A Sudanese woman explained why she walked more than two hundred miles across Egypt and the Sinai desert to the Israeli border: Egyptians "spit on us and called us monkeys and animals" while she heard that she would be treated well in Israel. And, indeed, she was: "They gave us chocolate and juice and handcuffed us."

As this semi-good life in Israel, with its chocolate, juice, and handcuffs, became known, human trafficking followed. Ibrahim, an orphan from Labé, Guinea, in West Africa recounts how, when he was fifteen years old in 2006, the owner of the electrical shop where he worked regaled him with tales of wealth in Israel and offered to pay for his travel in return for half of Ibrahim's earnings for life. Ibrahim accepted this offer of indentured servitude and soon found himself taken as a captive on the 13-day land journey from Guinea to Morocco to Egypt to Eilat to Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv, the traffickers took him to the central bus station, but his intended employer did not show up, permitting Ibrahim to escape. After various adventures—washing pots in a restaurant, living in a refuge for homeless youngsters, studying at a school for at-risk children, spending time in a prison—an Israeli couple offered to serve as his legal guardians, opening the door for him to finish his education, become an Israeli citizen, change his name to AviBe'eri, join the Israel Defense Forces in 2011 as an officer, and consider converting to Judaism.

Until the Abraham accords of 2020, when Khartoum recognized Israel, Sudan's government considered Israel an enemy state, so its nationals found residence there particularly challenging. "Israel was the absolute enemy. The Sudanese government would cut my throat if they knew I went to Israel," explained Ahmed, who nonetheless made the trip because his situation in Egypt was desperate: "We were dying here anyway." He borrowed money to pay a smuggler to get himself and his family to Israel.

Sanka, a Sudanese migrant in detention, lodged at a kibbutz, recalled the judge in his case saying that hostile relations between Sudan and Israel mean, "We cannot set you free, because you may be a danger to our citizens," to which Sanka replied, "I do not believe that. When I came to Israel, I came to seek help and to be a friend of this country." The Israeli government in turn held that "the security services have no possibility for distinguishing between someone who is infiltrating Israel on orders from Al-Qaida and someone who is an innocent infiltrator fleeing for his life."

Horror in Egypt

Making it through Egypt was the hardest part, leaving many Muslim Africans brutalized or murdered at the hands of the government, Hamas, or tribes of the Sinai Peninsula. The police killed at least twenty-seven Sudanese demonstrating outside the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees' office in Cairo while Egyptian border guards repeatedly used lethal force on unarmed migrants. In August 2007, for example, Israeli soldiers reported watching the guards shoot and kill two Sudanese migrants at the border, "then dragged two other refugees from the border and beat them to death with rocks."

Hamas and its tribal allies in Sinai treated the migrants mercilessly. According to a Ynet article based on a report by the Everyone Group, a non-governmental organization, African migrants

encountered Hamas operatives along the route, who promised to smuggle them into Israel for a payment of $2,000. Instead, they were placed in a detention facility on the outskirts of Rafah, an Egyptian town on the Gaza border, demanding their families in Eritrea pay a $10,000 ransom for their release. ... eight of the immigrants were killed, and four have gone missing—allegedly being the subject of human organ harvesting and trafficking. About 100 of them were transferred to a "concentration camp" at an unknown location, perhaps in the Palestinian territories. The captives are beaten, the women and children raped. "The prisoners eat poor food and are forced to drink their own urine," the statement reads. "Most of the migrants are contemplating suicide."

The Egyptian human rights champion Hamdy al-Azazy reported on the way Africans are brought to Egypt's border with Israel: "They transport them worse than animals," with migrants hidden inside pickup trucks and empty tankers. "They often make a false shelf in pickup trucks where the refugees cram inside and then have fruit, vegetables, [and] animals placed on top of them." It gets worse. Azazy describes the prison camps in which African migrants were dumped:

The prisoners are subjected to every kind of torture and humiliation—often while their relatives abroad are listening to their cries of despair at the end of the telephone line—until the ransom is paid that allows them to be released on the border with Israel. Those who try to escape are killed in cold blood while the women prisoners are repeatedly raped, often in front of their husbands and brothers.

If relatives are unable to pay the ransom demanded (from $20,000 to $50,000 dollars according to which gang is holding them) the young people are transferred to the organ market and are killed during the removal of their kidneys. Many corpses without kidneys have been found in the Sinai Desert, while most of the bodies are burned.

One report noted, "The badly butchered bodies of nine Somalis were found washed up on a beach in Alexandria, Egypt, early in April. The bodies were missing all vital organs." To make sure the organs fetch the highest value, they are often extricated from live persons by trained medical staff. "The organs are not useful if they're dead," Azazy explains. The traffickers first drug the victims, "remove their organs, then leave them to die and dump them in a deep dry well along with hundreds of bodies." Azazy—the only source for this gruesome procedure—has pictures which one reporter saw and described: "an empty corpse is seen, cut open from just under the chin all the way to the navel, the rib cage cleanly sawn through." According to the Italian analyst Roberto Malini, "Most of the proceeds from trafficking in human beings and organs, in fact, goes to finance fundamentalist armed groups, primarily Hamas." The United Nations estimates that the worldwide organ trade generated $600 million to $1.2 billion in profits in 2011 alone.

Such were the macabre challenges in Egypt that some Africans accepted for a chance to reach Israel.

Israeli Responses

As mostly Muslim Sudanese and Christian Eritreans began arriving illegally in Israel in 2006, the government detained those it caught as enemy infiltrators but often released them onto the streets; others avoided detention and went straight to the streets.

In August 2007, the government of Israel accepted five hundred migrants from Darfur already in Israel as refugees but indicated that, under an agreement with Cairo, all future illegal migrants would be returned to Egypt. This agreement seems not to have been implemented for the number of Darfur refugees reached six hundred by February 2009, all of whom were granted asylum and work permits.

By 2009, the mayor of Eilat, Meir Yitzhak Halevi, bewailed that parts of his city "have been conquered by infiltrators." He went on:

With many of the migrants seeking jobs, and some lacking a fixed address, large numbers of the immigrants congregate in parks and sporting fields. The infiltration is uncontrolled. ... Without wishing to generalize, we have undoubtedly seen an increase in violence among this population. Alcohol-related incidents have grown.

Likewise, in 2011, Tel Aviv's Mayor Ron Huldai called the Africans "infiltrators" and stated that "it is now clear to all that they come here as migrant workers and are not in any existential danger."

In 2010, ArnonSoffer, a geographer at the University of Haifa, estimated that, at the then-current level of migration, Israel would host approximately 500,000 illegal migrants by 2025 and called this an "existential threat" to the country with a population then of 7.6 million. That same year, Israel's public security minister, Yitzhak Aharnovitch, stated that up to 2.5 million African migrants currently residing in Cairo "are waiting" to cross into Israel. At the peak of the immigration wave in late 2011, Israel hosted 117,848 illegal migrant workers and 38,354 asylum seekers from all parts of the world.

Picking up on such predictions and warning of a "flood" of illegal migrants that "threatens the jobs of Israelis and threatens the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed building a fence along Israel's 242-kilometer border with Egypt, from Rafah to Eilat, and even into the Red Sea, as well as a detention center capable of holding ten thousand migrants.

The Israeli government spent $450 million in 2010-14 on the 5-meter-high fence, dubbed the Hourglass Project, one of the most expensive undertakings in the country's history. The fence immediately reduced the infiltration rate by over 99 percent; 9,570 Africans entered Israel illegally in the first half of 2012 while only 34 did in the first half of 2013. When the smugglers figured out ways to go over the fence, its height in 2016 went up from 5 to 8 meters along a 17-kilometer stretch. The fence not only solved the demographic crisis challenging the very nature of the Jewish state but also the moral crisis of Africans seeking refuge.

Heartwarming stories aside, illegal Muslim Africans have generally had a rough time in Israel, especially as they predominantly did not flee a war zone but sought better economic prospects. Netanyahu articulated this distinction in 2017: "They aren't refugees. Or at least most of them aren't. Most of them are looking for jobs." An Israeli police source added, speaking of Sudanese, "Some of them have launched a Web site which details smuggling routes, so that family members and friends can join them in Israel."

The lack of an Israeli welcome caused some Africans to want out; Jos Nof, a 27-year-old Sudanese, said in 2021, "I want a good life. If my country is safe, I wouldn't spend a minute more here because I see no future." Still, Israel retains its allure, and other Africans try round-about routes to reach the Promised Land. In May and June 2020, for example, Israelis arrested and deported sixteen Sudanese men who tried to enter the country from Lebanon under cover of night.

Some Israelis bemoaned, along with Or Mor-Yosef of Tel Aviv's African Refugee Development Centre, the missed opportunity to turn these young Muslim Africans into "Israel's finest ambassadors" by welcoming them more warmly. Others agreed with scholar and journalist Guy Bechor that the African illegals were neither transient workers nor refugees but permanent settlers whose presence leftist Israelis welcomed as a way "to change our country's demographic balance." Having failed in their goal to let in masses of Palestinians into this country, he argued, leftists instead encouraged Africans to emigrate by spreading the rumor "that Israel is a paradise, and that it can be reached by foot." Bechor warns that by giving citizenship to migrants, then letting their families join them in Israel, the Muslim population could become a majority in what had been the Jewish state.

Reporting on African migrants inevitably quotes Israeli leftists about Israel's moral responsibility to accept illegal migrants, given the Jewish experience and Israel's proud history as a refuge for the persecuted. But this ignores the fact, as Bechor pointed out, that a warm welcome would overwhelm the country and change its demography and character.

This issue revived in 2023, long after African immigration had ended, becoming a central topic in the huge furor over the power of the Supreme Court; under what circumstances should the court be able to reject legislation passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament? Those in favor of restricting its power pointed to the three instances of voiding laws allowing the government indefinitely and without trial to imprison illegal African migrants. They argued that the court undemocratically privileged migrants' rights over those of south Tel Aviv residents and presented these decisions as the preeminent symbol of judicial overreach and interventionism. "It is the Knesset that protects rights, not the High Court," declared Simcha Rothman, a leader of the overhaul effort.

Conclusion

The case of Muslim Africans spontaneously moving to Israel offers a small example of likely future mass migrations from Africa to rich countries in the decades ahead as the continent's population may triple by 2100. Migrations tend to begin with news of a successful settlement reaching the home country, many more migrants pursuing the same route, followed by human trafficking, corruption, and brutality, then fences and other obstacles going up, and the crisis finally abating.

The 2006-12 episode also has a distinctly Israeli aspect to it. Muslim migrants abandoning their countries of origin, traveling long distances, enduring terrible experiences in Egypt, and taking a chance in the Jewish state unambiguously reveals a wide but covert appreciation of Israel. Far from the angry oratory of the United Nations or the insipid bigotry of the Middle East studies professoriate, large numbers of Muslims long to live among Zionists. As Malcolm Hedding of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has noted,

It is remarkable that while some highly educated British academics consider Israel a racist and immoral country, these simple Sudanese refugees seem to know better.

In this, Africans express an admiration hitherto better known among Palestinians and Middle Eastern Muslims.[1] Thus, do Muslim Africans desperate to reach the Jewish state point to an important aspect of Israel's growing acceptance.

Finally, the influx of African Muslims confirms a larger shift underway, one in which Arab states and Muslims more generally accept and even esteem Israel while the Left, once Israel's main ally (think Stalin and Truman) has turned into its most severe critic (think Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders). Symbolically, Israel has better relations with Saudi Arabia than with Scotland, Spain, or Sweden. Palestinian nationalists and Islamists still initiate most violence against Jews and Israel, but Leftist delegitimization represents, along with Iranian nuclear weapons, the country's greatest danger.

Source: meforum.org

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https://www.meforum.org/64465/muslim-africans-harrowing-journey-to-israel

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Bode George makes u-turn, pledges to work with Tinubu if invited

By OluyemiOgunseyin

02 June 2023

A former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olabode George, has pledged to work for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu if invited.

George at seperate times said that he can never work with Tinubu being a major critic of Tinubu since the latter was Lagos State governor.

George has, however, made a surprise u-turn and said he will work with the administration of President Tinubu if invited to contribute his quota to nation-building.

The former PDP chieftain said this during an interview with journalists in Lagos.

“My reaction, like I have said, there is nothing personal. Look, I trained in the military. You know in the military, whoever is in the trench next to you is your brother,” George said.

“When you go out to say what is our mission in the military? It is to defend our country. If he comes and says look, what do you feel about this, what do you feel about that, let’s work together in the interest of this country, why would I refuse? This nation also trained me.

“The military trained me. There is no part of the world that I have not been, training and doing exercises. This country trained us.

“So, we must be able to put something back to the system that would also positively impact on the younger ones, to put a smile on their faces.”

Source: guardian.ng

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https://guardian.ng/news/bode-george-makes-u-turn-pledges-to-work-with-tinubu-if-invited/

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Police kill two wanted terrorists, rescue kidnapped victim

By OluyemiOgunseyin

01 June 2023

The Katsina State police command has confirmed the killing of two wanted terrorists.

The Katsina police assistant spokesperson, Abubakar Aliyu, in a statement revealed that the terrorists were killed on Monday when they attempted to kidnap one Yahaya Usman at his residence.

According to Aliyu, both men were killed in Tani village in the Bindawa Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina state.

He explained that the security operatives attached to the Bindawa divisional headquarters led by the Divisional Police Office (DPO), received a report of an attack and dashed to the location where they engaged the terrorists in a gun battle.

Aliyu said that the terrorists inflicted a deep knife cut on the head of the victim.

“On the 29th of May, 2023, at about 0300hrs, terrorist – bandits in their numbers, armed with AK 47 riffles, shooting sporadically, attacked the residence of one Yahaya Usman, ‘m’, of Tani village, Bindawa LGA, Katsina state, and inflicted a deep knife cut injury to his head in an attempt to kidnap him,” Aliyu stated.

“Upon receipt of the report, operatives attached to Bindawa divisional headquarters led by the DPO promptly responded, where they engaged the suspected terrorist in a fierce gun duel and successfully foiled the kidnap attempt and rescued the victim.”

Aliyu said in the course of scanning the scene, two bodies of the neutralized suspected terrorist – bandits and one (1) Ak 47 riffle with five (5) rounds of 7.62mm were recovered from the scene.

He also stated that during the course of investigation, the bodies were later identified to be those of one (1) SaniKokaya, ‘m’, and (2) Ummara, ‘m’, all of Kaita, LGA of the state, notorious suspected terrorist-bandits and arm smugglers who have been on the command’s wanted list.

Aliyu concluded by saying that investigation is ongoing.

Source: guardian.ng

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https://guardian.ng/news/police-kill-two-wanted-terrorists-rescue-kidnapped-victim/

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Mideast

 

Amid rapprochement with Iran, Egypt invites Hamas, Jihad leaders to Cairo

JUNE 1, 2023

Leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) headed to Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on ways to preserve the current ceasefire agreement with Israel, Palestinian sources said on Thursday.

The talks will also focus on ways of ending the dispute between Hamas and the ruling Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the sources said. Previous attempts by Egypt and other Arab countries to end the rivalry between the two parties have hit a snag.

PA, Egypt are eager to play a role in reconstruction of Gaza-strip

Both Egypt and the PA are eager to play a role in the reconstruction of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. However, Hamas has imposed restrictions on the authority, banning its officials from carrying out activities in the Strip.

The visit comes amid reports about a possible rapprochement between Egypt and Iran, which has long been backing Hamas and PIJ.

The Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat revealed that Cairo has “welcomed recurring indications from Iran to strengthen its relations with Egypt,” which “hopes to develop bilateral ties with Iran,” the paper said.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting this week with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said that Tehran welcomes better diplomatic relations with Egypt.

The upcoming talks in Cairo are the first of their kind since the end of the recent round of fighting between Israel and PIJ that Jerusalem called Operation Shield and Arrow.

The Egyptians played a crucial role in brokering the ceasefire on May 13 that ended five days of fighting, during which a total of 1,469 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel. Qatar and the United Nations are also said to have assisted in efforts to reach the ceasefire.

The sources said Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, Mukhabarat, invited the Hamas and PIJ leaders to Cairo for talks on “security issues” related to Israel and the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas delegation will consist of officials from the coastal enclave and from Qatar, where several leaders of the group are based, including Ismail Haniyeh.

PIJ said in a statement that a delegation representing its political bureau headed to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. The group did not say whether its Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, who is based in Lebanon, would join the discussions in Cairo.

Earlier, Issam al-Da’alis, who serves as de facto prime minister of Hamas, also headed to Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials on ways to boost Gaza’s economy.

Earlier this week, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also visited the Egyptian capital at the head of a large delegation of cabinet ministers. The talks focused on cooperation between the PA and Egypt in many fields, especially by increasing trade and cooperation in health, agriculture, education, culture, electricity and other sectors.

During a joint press conference with Egyptian Prime Minister MoustafaMadbouly, Shtayyeh said the Palestinians “need Egypt today more than ever.”

“We see the deep-rooted historical relationship between Palestine and Egypt in the Egyptian position supporting Palestine in all international platforms and forums to end the Israeli occupation, establish our independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and achieve the right of return for refugees,” the PA premier said.

Source: jpost.com

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https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-744917

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Grandson of Imam Khomeini apologizes to reporter over bodyguards’ misbehavior

June 1, 2023

Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini, has apologized to a reporter with the ILNA news agency, who was assaulted by his security team as he approached the cleric to take a picture.

The cleric wrote a text addressed to the reporter, Amin Mehravar, offering him an apology for the misbehavior of his security guards.

“But this incident has a lesson for all of us. And that is the irreplaceable role of the public opinion and media space in controlling problems, faults and failures,” he wrote.

The incident happened on Wednesday at a ceremony at the headquarters of Iran’s Ettela’at Daily to pay tribute to its late director Mahmoud Do’aei.

Mehravar went near Khomeini and ex-president Mohammad Khatami to take pictures, but he was forcibly removed by the bodyguards.

ILNA said Mehravar’s phone and ID card were confiscated and he was subjected to physical and verbal abuse.

The news agency condemned the bodyguards’ “inappropriate action” and described it as a flagrant attack on media freedom.

Source: ifpnews.com

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https://ifpnews.com/grandson-imam-khomeini-apologizes-reporter-bodyguards-misbehavior/

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Egyptian Islamic Banking Sector Grows 25% YoYin March:Islamic Finance Association

Thu, Jun. 1, 2023

Egypt’s Islamic banking sector saw significant growth over the year, reaching EGP 544 billion in March 2023, up 25% compared to March 2022, reported the Egyptian Islamic Finance Association (EIFA).

According to the EIFA’s latest data, Islamic banking accounts for approximately 5% of the overall Egyptian banking sector.

EIFA revealed that the Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt holds the leading position in the Islamic banking market in Egypt, with a turnover of EGP 169.2 billion, accounting for 31.1% of the total volume of the Islamic banking industry in Egypt.

Followed by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) Egypt with a volume of EGP 124.3 billion, representing a 23% market share.

BanqueMisr for Islamic Transactions ranked third with a turnover of EGP 110 billion and a market share of 21.1%, experiencing a growth rate of 23%.

Al Baraka Bank Egypt took 4th place with a turnover of EGP 93.3 billion and a market share of 17.4%, followed by the United Bank with a turnover of EGP 14 billion, accounting for a 3% share.

Deposits compliant with Islamic law amounted to EGP 413.3 billion, representing a 28.5% growth rate when compared to March 2022. These deposits make up around 6% of the total deposit volume in the Egyptian banking sector.

Financing compliant with Islamic law reached EGP 430.6 billion, indicating a growth rate of 25.7%. This type of financing represents 5% of the total volume of financing in the Egyptian banking sector, the EIFA revealed.

Egypt's banking market includes 14 banks authorized by the Central Bank of Egypt to offer Islamic products. Among them, three are fully Islamic banks; Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt, Al Baraka Bank of Egypt, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank - Egypt. Additionally, there are 11 banks that have both Islamic and traditional branches.

The EIFA also noted that six sukuk, worth up to EGP 12.8 billion, have been issued since the issuance of the corporate sukuk law and its executive regulations in late 2018. Currently, three new sukuk issuances are under consideration in the Egyptian market.

Furthermore, the sovereign sukuk law has been issued, and its executive regulations have been approved. The first state sukuk, worth $1.5 billion or EGP 46 billion, was issued on February 21 2023, based on a beneficial lease contract.

Source: businesstodayegypt.com

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https://www.businesstodayegypt.com/Article/1/2523/Egyptian-Islamic-banking-sector-grows-25-YoY-in-March-Islamic

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Oman unveils monument dedicated to Chinese Muslim admiral Zheng He

June 1, 2023

A monument honouring the famed 15th century Chinese Muslim admiral, Zheng He, was unveiled in Oman's Dhofar governorate yesterday.

The ten-metre tall monument located in the coastal city of Salalah depicts a Chinese treasure ship, the largest vessels in He's fleet, which dwarfed European ships at the time. It was constructed using 3D print technology. Symbolising the traditional friendship between Muscat and Beijing, it is the result of a collaboration between the Chinese embassy and Oman's Foreign Ministry.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Oman, Li Lingping, said: "Zheng He's voyages to the Western Ocean fostered friendly exchanges between ancient China and the countries along the Indian Ocean coast. These voyages facilitated economic, trade, and cultural ties between China and these nations."

Li noted that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with the completion of the Zheng He Monument holding particular significance.

Khalid Bin Salim Al-Saeedi, chairman of the Oman-China Friendship Association, said in his speech that the Zheng He Monument demonstrates the long-standing and uninterrupted exchanges between the civilisations of Oman and China. Leaders of both countries have been committed to the development and growth of bilateral relations in various fields, he said.

According to the Muscat Daily, the monument, designed by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, is inspired by the Maritime Silk Road, on which Zheng He travelled.  The early Ming dynasty explorer and diplomat led huge fleets westwards seven

times to Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and East Africa, including reaching Dhofar four times. It has also been theorised

that He "discovered" America more than 70 years before Christopher Colombus did in 1492.

China and Oman established a strategic partnership in 2018 and signed cooperation agreements under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which includes the Maritime Silk Road.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230601-oman-unveils-monument-dedicated-to-chinese-muslim-admiral-zheng-he/

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Tripoli MP forms new parliamentary bloc amid shifting Sunni landscape

01 June 2023

Faisal Karameh, MP for Tripoli, announced Wednesday the formation of a new parliamentary bloc called the “National Consensus.”

The new bloc includes four Sunni MPs close to Hezbollah, namely pro-Syrian MPs Adnan Traboulsi (Beirut II/Ahbash) and Taha Naji (Tripoli/Ahbash), as well as Hassan Mrad (West Bekaa/Indep.) and Mohamed Yahya (Akkar/Indep.).

The formation of the new group occurs during ongoing endeavors to elect a new president, with Hezbollah and the Amal Movement actively advocating for SleimanFrangieh, the leader of the Marada Movement.

With the Future Movement and Saad Hariri on the sidelines of the Lebanese political scene, the emergence of the newly-formed Sunni bloc is important.

A new ‘Consultative Gathering’ group?

“The bloc we have founded today bears no resemblance to any past experience,” Karameh said in a speech after the announcement of the new parliamentary bloc.

Karameh was referring to the former “Consultative Gathering” group, which operated during the previous parliamentary term and consisted of eight Sunni MPs, including Karameh.

The Consultative Gathering, which had aimed to establish itself as a Sunni counterbalance to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, lacked significant influence. It was largely perceived as being closely aligned with Hezbollah, serving as an extension of the party’s agenda.

Since his reinstatement as an MP in November 2022, after the Constitutional Council controversially upheld his appeal against the invalidation of Rami Fanj’s candidacy, Karameh has been working diligently to establish a political bloc.

He seeks to play a significant role on the Sunni scene, taking advantage of his status as heir to a prestigious political family; his father and uncle — Omar Karameh and Rashid Karameh — both previously served as prime ministers.

This younger Karameh is now the only Sunni leader to have a parliamentary bloc, unlike caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who also hails from Tripoli.

“Our bloc goes beyond denominations, and we are in discussions with figures from all communities to get them to join us,” MP Mohamed Yahya told L’Orient-Le Jour.

However, to assert Sunni leadership on the Lebanese political scene, the support of Saudi Arabia is crucial. Karameh is well aware of this.

In his Wednesday speech, he emphasized Lebanon’s “Arab identity” and its “integration into its Arab environment” at a time when the region is undergoing a period of détente.

The bloc’s MPs are keen to position themselves as independent from Hezbollah.

“We are neither in the opposition camp nor in the government camp,” Karameh said.

No 'provocative' candidacy

The timing of the bloc’s formation of this bloc cannot be considered separately from the ongoing presidential election efforts.

“The gateway to all solutions is the election of a new president of the Republic,” Karameh stressed in his speech.

The country has been without a president for seven months as the various political stakeholders are unable to reach an agreement on a candidate.

While Amal and Hezbollah endorse Frangieh, the opposition camp and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) have agreed on the candidacy of Jihad Azour, a former finance minister.

Although Karameh is a close friend of the Frangieh family, he seems to be leaving the door open to a compromise.

“We don’t consider any candidacy to be a provocation, and we’re waiting until we have the list of all the candidates before making a decision,” Karameh said.

Source: today.lorientlejour.com

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https://today.lorientlejour.com/article/1339202/tripoli-mp-forms-new-parliamentary-bloc-amid-shifting-sunni-landscape.html

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Cooperation Center: We urge the international community not to remain silent in the face of the actions of the Islamic Republic

JUNE 1, 2023

To the brave people of Iran and Kurdistan who fight for freedom!

To human rights organizations and international institutions,

The Islamic Republic regime, which has crumbled under the weight of the popular and revolutionary protests of Jina, resorts to execution and repression on one hand, and threats of missile and drone attacks on the other, with the intention of killing Iranian Kurdish women, children, and refugees who have been living in the Kurdistan region of Iraq for many years.

We all know that the Women,Life, and Freedom movement emerged in Kurdistan. As political parties from Iranian Kurdistan, we have repeatedly emphasized our reliance on the civil and protest movements of the people, and we have neither engaged in nor supported any military operations from Iraqi Kurdistan. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic regime has targeted us and our camps with missile and drone attacks, showing no regard for the lives and properties of the people of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Cooperation Center of the Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties appeals to all international authorities, human rights organizations, regional and global powers to take a firm stance against the crimes committed by the Islamic Republic against Iranian Kurdish parties and refugees, and to implement concrete measures to prevent further atrocities. We call upon all the people of Iran and Kurdistan, both inside and outside the country, to respond to any attack by the IRGC with public protests.

Down with the dictatorial regime of the Islamic Republic!

Long live the unified struggle of the Iranian people against the regime!

Women, Life, Freedom

CooperationsCenter of Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties

Source: pdki.org

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https://pdki.org/english/cooperation-center-we-urge-the-international-community-not-to-remain-silent-in-the-face-of-the-actions-of-the-islamic-republic/

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Maryland Legislature Funds Pro-Iran Mosque Entangled in Terror Trials

May 26, 2023

While Iranians continue to take to the streets, risking their lives in a women-led uprising to topple the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Maryland General Assembly is set to fund a Potomac-area mosque once seized by federal authorities for allegedly acting as a "front" for Iran's tyrannical regime. The Islamic Education Center (IEC) and associated Alim Academy will receive around $115,000 in grants earmarked for facility renovations, despite the property belonging to a highly controversial charity suspected of operating under the ownership and direction of Iranian authorities.

Part of a 2023 legislative bond initiative, the funding measure stands as a painful affront to Iranian dissidents and victims of the regime's atrocities, many who experienced arbitrary arrests, beatings, and torture, only to encounter the regime's patronage network at work in the United States.

"As an Iranian-American Marylander, I have to wonder why the Maryland General Assembly wants to grant funding to an organization that is openly associated with a regime whose human rights abuse track record is an abomination," said BanafshehPourzand, whose father, a political prisoner, film critic, and renowned journalist, died under house arrest in Iran in what the regime ruled was a suicide.

A "State of Maryland 2023 Bond Initiative Factsheet," which includes a $75,670 request to IEC for "kitchen improvement," lists the Alavi Foundation as the owner of the grantee's property. A separate $40,000 bond initiative was allocated to building a "playground" at the Alim Academy, IEC's secondary school. Both projects are sponsored by State Senator Brian Feldman (D-15).

The Alavi Foundation came under scrutiny from federal authorities in 2009, when U.S. Marshals placed forfeiture notices on the charity's properties, including a Manhattan skyscraper valued at close to $1 billion and several pro-regime mosques and Islamic schools around the country. What followed was a sequence of vigorously litigated cases lasting more than 13 years and involving hundreds of litigants, sweeping motions, and years of discovery.

Also at stake was more than $5 billion dollars in judgments awarded to the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism, who stood to collect on civil penalties owed by Iran's government through the forfeiture of Alavi Foundation properties.

IEC leaders have long maintained that the mosque's relationship to Alavi is merely that of tenant to landlord. Yet, from the Islamic center's founding, its leaders and benefactors have been die-hard Khomeinists, expressing complete loyalty and adoration for Iran's supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini and promoting the regime's image with revolutionary zeal.

As a member of the IEC community, BahramAbolfaziNahidian was instrumental in securing Alavi Foundation funding for the mosque in 1980. A Washington Post article from the same year claimed Nahidian was "acknowledged by all as the most prominent supporter in this country of Khomeini," and the "inspirational force behind the supporters of the revolution" in the U.S. He offered religious guidance to a small cadre of African American converts, including Daoud Salahuddin, who assassinated an Iranian opposition leader living in Bethesda, Maryland, before escaping to Tehran.

Mohammed Al-Asi reportedly led IEC's congregation from the mosque's founding in 1981 until 1997. In a 1994 letter published in the Washington Post, Al-Asi swore "allegiance" to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the successor to Khomeini in Iran, calling him the "leader of all Muslims."

That same year, investigative reporter Steve Emerson released a documentary titled Jihad in America, in which Ali-Asi is heard agitating for violence at a 1990 conference. "We should be creating another war front for the Americans in the Muslim world," he said. "Strike against American interests."

The list of pro-regime IEC leaders extends to more recent years. A Washington Times article from 2009 documents the mosque's links to Iranian interests, even after the congregation allegedly sought to distance itself from foreign politics. The article points to IEC manager Ali Mohammadi, who denied any connection to Tehran, despite hosting several meetings between the Iranian-American community and then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran's Interest Section, which serves as Tehran's diplomatic mission in the U.S. after the two countries formally cut ties, organizes pro-regime events with IEC's Iranian Muslim community. From celebrating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution at IEC, to holding an interfaith event with mosque leaders at the National Cathedral, Iranian officials' involvement with the Potomac center belies a troubling degree of coordination.

Imam Ahmad Bahraini, the senior cleric at IEC in more recent years, attended a 2007 event honoring the "demise anniversary" of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. Sharing the stage with the head of Iran's Interest Section, Bahraini recited some of Khomeini's poetry and praised the Islamist revolutionary for "enhancing the dignity of the Islamic world."

Although Maryland's spending bill allocated money to the "Islamic Education Center, Inc.," a nonprofit representing the mosque community, the Alavi Foundation stands to be enriched as property holders from the state-funded renovations. At the least, this should have given lawmakers a pause who were familiar with the embattled charity's legal history.

After a 5-week trial in 2017, a federal jury found Alavi Foundation properties forfeitable in what was the largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in U.S. history. During the trial, federal prosecutors presented evidence alleging that the Alavi Foundation was under the direction and control of Tehran.

Originally founded by the Shah of Iran under a different name, what came to be called the Alavi Foundation was absorbed along with its properties by Iran's post-revolutionary government. In 1991, Khomeini transferred authority over the foundation to Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations after ordering several board members to resign.

A letter from Alavi's president at the time details how he was summoned to the ambassador's office and was told that "the role of the Managing Director and the role of the Board of Directors will be just a formality, and that the Ambassador "will be conducting all of its [the Foundation's] affairs." Notes from one foundation board member referred to fears that if Alavi's true nature as an Iranian proxy were to be revealed, it would result in "sure death" to the charity.

"The efforts at concealing assets did not stop when the lawsuits were filed—they continued with vigor," wrote District Judge Katherine Forrest, who presided over the case. In 2010, Alavi Foundation President FarshidJahedi was sentenced to three months in prison for destroying typed and handwritten notes of interest to prosecutors.

The jury ultimately determined that Alavi Foundation properties were subject to forfeiture for violating federal laws that ban trade with Iran, and for engaging in money laundering to circumvent those laws. Seventeen percent of IEC in Maryland was awarded to the federal government, while 83 percent of the property would go to "private claimants," including families which held judgments against Iran for terrorism-related offenses.

However, just two years later, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stunning reversal on procedural grounds. In a 3-0 decision, the court found that Judge Forrest made "a troubling pattern of errors on relatively straightforward issues." Ownership of the properties returned to the foundation, and the appeals court blocked the victims of Iranian terrorist attacks from pursuing certain claims in a retrial.

The decision was familiar territory for Stephen Flatow, who lost his daughter Alisa in 1995 from a Palestinian terrorist attack orchestrated by Iran. Ten years before the federal government brought its case against the Alavi Foundation, Flatow unsuccessfully sued to execute a judgment against IEC and other Alavi properties in hopes of recovering $247 million dollars obtained in a default judgment against Iran.

"As I know from my personal experience, courts in the United States were reluctant to rely on available evidence in order to hold the Iranians accountable for the lives they destroyed," Flatow wrote in an email. "While the appellate court has dealt the victims a setback, I hope the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney will continue to pursue the Alavi Foundation until the case is resolved in favor of the victims."

Where does that leave the Maryland mosque located at 7917 Montrose Road in Potomac? IEC leaders sued the Alavi Foundation in 2017, claiming to be the rightful owners of the property after the charity lost its case against the government. The mosque's attorneys claimed that a $2 million donation, given in 1981 from a prominent Iranian cleric to the Alavi Foundation and used to complete construction of the Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan, was actually intended to pay off IEC's debt to the charity for purchasing the property months earlier.

However, the mosque community was apparently uninterested in ending its tenant-landlord relationship with the Alavi Foundation after the appellate court's reversal in 2019. Safe from forfeiture actions for the time being, IEC chose to place its lawsuit against the foundation on hold pending further litigation.

For now, IEC remains an Alavi Foundation property, and the state of Maryland's $115,000 grant to the mosque stands to raise the property value significantly. Just four years earlier, a similar disbursement to an accused "alter ego" of the Iranian government may have been considered material support to a state sponsor of terrorism.

Although Maryland merely dispensed money to IEC to construct a playground and to update its kitchen appliances, the state's grant could still be used indirectly to support other causes. "Money is fungible," the Supreme Court has ruled in cases involving terror finance. Donating money to an alleged state-controlled charity — even for the most benign humanitarian purposes – frees up capital for the world's most prolific state sponsor of terrorism to allocate towards more sinister purposes.

Pourzand, the Maryland resident who continues to speak out against the Iranian regime that imprisoned her father for years, hopes the state will keep a watchful eye over its grantee. "As a Maryland taxpayer, I certainly hope that, at the very least, the funding that is being offered to this mosque is not only overseen but managed to make sure that it is spent for exactly the purposes that the grant states it is for," she said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard did not respond to repeated inquiries about the Southern District of New York's past or pending litigation against the Alavi Foundation.

Source: meforum.org

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https://www.meforum.org/64480/maryland-legislature-funds-pro-iran-mosque

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Europe

 

Civil society leaders label regulator ‘Islamophobic’ over action against controversial mosque

01 June 2023

by Russell Hargrave

Dozens of civil society figures have protested against the Charity Commission’s decision to impose interim managers at the Islamic Centre of England.

The regulator appointed managers to take over the charity last month as part of an ongoing statutory inquiry, saying the trustees had failed to comply with their legal duties.

In their open letter to the Charity Commission, the group claimed the regulator’s actions were “politically motivated” and fitted a pattern of “deliberately harassing and hindering the work of Muslim-run charities”.

The regulator hit back at its critics, saying any claims it had acted beyond its power were “misleading”.

The letter is supported by charities including the Al-Qaem Foundation and Shia Welfare Association, but also scandal-hit figures such as Chris Williamson, a former Labour MP who was suspended from the party after questioning its approach to anti-semitism, and Stephen Sizer, a retired vicar found to have “engaged in anti-semitic activity”.

It is also signed by Cage, an advocacy group once heavily criticised by then-London mayor Boris Johnson.

The commission opened its inquiry into ICE in 2022, saying it was acting after “extensive engagement with the charity over several years”.

That included an official warning after two events held at the charity’s premises in 2020 that honoured Major General Qasem Soleimani, who was subject to UK sanctions.

The regulator said in October last year that it was also assessing a speech made by SeyedMoosavi, one of the charity’s trustees, in which he described protesters in Iran as “soldiers of Satan”.

In March, Tom Tugenhadt MP, the security minister, described ICE as “a vile threat” to the country.

Today’s letter, published by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, which was itself heavily criticised in a government-commissioned review of anti-extremism legislation, said: “We believe that this decision is politically motivated and serves the interests of Islamophobes who have been targeting this diverse community centre and place of worship.

“Rather than remaining a neutral arbitrator and serving to address any genuine shortcomings that may exist, you have shown a biased approach and used punitive measures that unfairly penalise Muslim charities.”

The campaigners say the commission “failed to protect the best interests of a Muslim religious centre and its congregation” by imposing a manager “who is not from that faith community”.

The letter adds: “It is wholly unfair that a Muslim charity is treated in this way due to the perception of it not conforming to Western foreign policy interests.

“Naturally, this behaviour will add to the chorus of voices accusing the Charity Commission of deliberately harassing and hindering the work of Muslim-run charities and adds to the litany of oppressive measures carried out in aid of furthering Islamophobic British state policies and the agendas of politically motivated and divisive pressure groups.”

A Charity Commission spokesperson told Third Sector: “The circumstances in which we can appoint an interim manager to any charity under inquiry are set out in the Charities Act 2011 and the commission must determine when it is considered necessary and proportionate. It is a temporary, protective measure.

“The Charity Commission is an independent regulator. Any suggestion we have acted beyond our statutory objectives, functions and obligations as a public body is misleading.”

Source: thirdsector.co.uk

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https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/civil-society-leaders-label-regulator-islamophobic-action-against-controversial-mosque/governance/article/1824894

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Police appoint controversial mosque infiltrator to fight discrimination

THURSDAY, 1 JUNE 2023

The police appointed the man previously used by municipalities to infiltrate mosques to help tackle racism, discrimination, and exclusion in the police organization. Mosque administrators are stunned. Controle Alt Delete, an organization that fights ethnic profiling and police brutality, broke off its talks with the police over the appointment, AD reports.

It concerns NajipTuzani, until recently the director of the research agency NTA. Several municipalities hired his agency to send undercover people into mosques and talk to attendees to find out whether they have extremist ideas.

Abdelsadek Maas, chairman of the mosque umbrella organization SIOHR in The Hague, is astounded that the police appointed the former NTA director. The NTA conducted its investigations “in violation of the integrity standards that apply in the sector,” Maas told AD. “They have had a very disruptive effect on the social cohesion that the National Police is trying to promote by appointing a program manager,” he wrote in a letter to the police on behalf of 200 mosques across the country.

According to Maas, the NTA damaged the relationships of trust within Dutch mosques with its infiltration operations. “No believer could rule out that the person praying beside them was an infiltrator. That sowed distrust within mosques, with dire consequences. In this context, the fact that the NTA researchers used their membership fo the Muslim community as a cover to enter the mosques is absolutely shocking,” he said. “While mosque administrators worked constructively with the municipalities through the front door, they were spied on through the back door. In our view, this action raises serious questions about Mr. Tuzani’s ability to contribute to making the police organization safer and more inclusive.”

The police told AD that they chose Tuzani because of his knowledge of the police organization and expertise in the field of diversity and inclusion. Tuzani has “a lot of support from various networks and communities both inside and outside the organization,” a spokesperson said. And he achieved “impressive results” over the past two years while working on a diversity and inclusion program within the Oost-Nederland police. “For us, his integrity is not in question, nor is his suitability for this role,” the police spokesperson said.

For Controle Alt Delete, Tuzani’s appointment was the reason for suspending talks with the police. “The appointment of the new program manager is a worrying development given his role at NTA and the secret investigations,” the organization said. “It is undesirable to appoint the director of a controversial organization against which there is a lot of resistance from the Islamic communities as program manager against racism and discrimination within the police. We suspend all conversations with police officers who fall under his responsibility and management as long as the director of NTA is working as the program manager.”

Adeel Mahmood of the DENK faction in The Hague is also against the appointment. “With the appointment of this person as the discrimination and racism program manager, the police have completely missed the point. Precisely for such an important position, it is essential that the person who holds this position does not have a massive cloud of mistrust above them. We share the concerns of the Islamic community and institutions in The Hague regarding the NTA investigations. This appointment shows that the police do not take these concerns seriously.”

Source: nltimes.nl

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https://nltimes.nl/2023/06/01/police-appoint-controversial-mosque-infiltrator-fight-discrimination

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Muslim Council of Britain concerned over chair of review into Leicester unrest

Callum Parke, PA

01 June, 2023

The Muslim Council of Britain has expressed “deep concern” over the appointment of the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Israel as the chair of a review into civil unrest between Muslims and Hindus in Leicester last year.

Lord Ian Austin has been appointed to chair the independent review, announced on Friday, into the unrest between British Pakistani Muslim and Indian Hindu communities that descended into widespread violence and vandalism, including attacks on places of worship.

He caused controversy in 2021 when he posted a tweet showing a fake new flavour for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for people in Gaza, named “Hamas Terror Misu” after the company announced it would stop selling its products in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking on Wednesday, the Muslim Council – an umbrella organisation representing Muslim groups across the country, said it “expresses deep concern” over Lord Austin’s appointment and urged the Levelling Up Minister, Michael Gove, to reconsider.

In a statement, it said: “An independent review is an important step to address and understand the causes of last year’s unrest.

“However, it is crucial to have an independent reviewer who is impartial, fair, and capable of gaining the trust and confidence of all stakeholders.

“The appointment of Lord Austin, given his divisive record and the serious allegations of Islamophobia against him, has created deep apprehension among Muslims and other communities in Leicester.

“This casts doubts on his suitability to oversee a review aimed at building trust and harmony within our communities. Any such review led by Lord Austin will face questions about its credibility and legitimacy.

“We call upon the Secretary of State for Communities, Michael Gove, to reconsider the appointment of Lord Austin and select an independent reviewer who can command the confidence and support of the diverse communities in Leicester.

“We urge the government to act swiftly to ensure that the review is conducted in a manner that reflects the principles of fairness, justice, and unity that Leicester and its residents deserve.”

He had previously been Labour MP for Dudley North from 2005 until 2019, sitting as an independent for his last nine months as MP after resigning from the party due to what he claimed was a “culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance”.

He was nominated for a life peerage in 2020 and still sits as an independent in the House of Lords.

Speaking on Friday, he said: “Acceptance of each other’s background and beliefs is at the heart of our national identity.

“Communities living and working together have formed some of the most vibrant societies across the country and cities such as Leicester have proud histories of tolerance and diversity.

“This makes the scenes we witnessed in Leicester last year all the more worrying and it is therefore so important that we listen to people in Leicester to get to the bottom of what happened and why.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said that the review will be led by a panel of experts which once appointed will aim to understand the causes of the unrest and provide recommendations on how to improve relations between Muslim and Hindu communities.

The violence, which erupted last September, was sparked by a cricket match between India and Pakistan.

Officers from across the East and West Midlands, and horses from Thames Valley, were brought in to help deal with the unrest, with officers diverted from the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

At least 47 people were arrested.

Responding to the Muslim Council’s concerns, a DLUHC spokesperson said: “We are confident that this thorough, independent review will strengthen community cohesion in Leicester – a city with a proud history of tolerance and diversity.

“The independent panel of experts will hear from a wide range of people and voices from across the city and beyond, to get to the bottom of what happened and why.

“We will announce further details about the review shortly, including the names of the panel members who will support the chair in this important task.”

Source: irishnews.com

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https://www.irishnews.com/news/uknews/2023/06/01/news/muslim_council_of_britain_concerned_over_chair_of_review_into_leicester_unrest-3318470/

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Leicester riots: Muslim council express 'deep concern' over review leader

Thursday 1 June 2023

The Muslim Council of Britain has expressed its 'deep concern' over the leader of a review into the Leicester riots.

It follows the announcement of an independent review into the unrest in east Leicester during August and September last year.

Community tensions mainly involving young men from some Muslim and Hindu communities led to spates of vandalism, assaults and attacks on places of worship and properties in Leicester.

On Friday 26 May, the Secretary of State for Communities - Michael Gove - commissioned an independent review.

Lord Ian Austin, a former Minister for Housing and Planning and former Minister for the West Midlands, has been appointed as chair of the independent review.

However, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has expressed 'deep concern' over this appointment.

The MCB said: "It is crucial to have an independent reviewer who is impartial, fair, and capable of gaining the trust and confidence of all stakeholders.

"The appointment of Lord Austin, given his divisive record and the serious allegations of Islamophobia against him, has created deep apprehension among Muslims and other communities in Leicester.

"This casts doubts on his suitability to oversee a review aimed at building trust and harmony within our communities. Any such review led by Lord Austin will face questions about its credibility and legitimacy.

"We call upon the Secretary of State for Communities, Michael Gove, to reconsider the appointment of Lord Austin and select an independent reviewer who can command the confidence and support of the diverse communities in Leicester.

"We urge the government to act swiftly to ensure that the review is conducted in a manner that reflects the principles of fairness, justice, and unity that Leicester and its residents deserve.

In response, a DLUHC spokesperson said:

“We are confident that this thorough, independent review will strengthen community cohesion in Leicester - a city with a proud history of tolerance and diversity.

“The independent panel of experts will hear from a wide range of people and voices from across the city and beyond, to get to the bottom of what happened and why.

“We will announce further details about the review shortly, including the names of the panel members who will support the chair in this important task.”

Following his appointment, Lord Ian Austin said: "Acceptance of each other’s background and beliefs is at the heart of our national identity.

"Communities living and working together have formed some of the most vibrant societies across the country and cities such as Leicester have proud histories of tolerance and diversity. 

"This makes the scenes we witnessed in Leicester last year all the more worrying and it is therefore so important that we listen to people in Leicester to get to the bottom of what happened and why."

Source: itv.com

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https://www.itv.com/news/central/2023-06-01/muslim-council-deeply-concerned-over-leicester-riots-review-leader

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Crookes murder probe: Mosque make plea to end 'senseless violence' after Mohammed Iqbal, 17, stabbed to death

1st Jun 2023

Mohammed Iqbal, who was just 17, was found seriously injured on the main road through Crookes on Thursday, shortly after 7pm. The 17-year-old was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead that evening. Police revealed he died of a single stab wound.

His funeral prayers were held on Monday, at the Madina Masjid mosque, on Wolseley Road, Sheffield, which has now called on the community to ‘unite’ and ‘stand together against such acts of violence’.

In a post shared on its Facebook page, the mosque said: “At the funeral prayer of Mohammed Nasar Iqbal, a young man who tragically became a victim of knife crime. The atmosphere was filled with grief as the community gathered to pay their respects.

“The Imams of the Madina Masjid Sheffield, Imam Naseer ud Deen and ShaykhSadaqat Hussain, delivered deeply moving addresses, offering heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

“In their impassioned plea to the community, both the lead Imams Imam Naseer ud Deen and ShaykhSadaqat Hussain emphasised that 'enough is enough' when it comes to knife and gun crime. He urged everyone to come together and put an end to this senseless violence that claims far too many lives.

“Let us unite in response to this call and stand together against such acts of violence. If anyone wants to come and talk to the Imam at masjid, please contact us and let’s all help end this Violence.”

PeshawaGhaffour, of Birkendale Road, Walkley, has been charged with Mohammed Iqbal’s murder. The 29-year-old, who appeared before Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on Monday, was also charged with possession of a firearm on arrest, possession of a bladed article, being in possession of an offensive weapon when in a private place, and assault by beating.

Two other men have been arrested as part of the investigation. An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled drug, assault and affray. He was later bailed. A 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and also bailed.

Police have appealed for anyone with information, especially those who were in restaurants, takeaway shops and pubs at the time, or in passing buses, and may have seen something, to get in touch. You can call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident number 965 of May 25. Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111, or by completing an online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Source: thestar.co.uk

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https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/crime/crookes-murder-probe-mosque-make-plea-to-end-senseless-violence-after-mohammed-iqbal-17-stabbed-to-death-4165487

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Southampton Muslim centre has 84 objections despite existing for years

01-06-23

MORE than 80 people have objected to a Muslim place of worship with religious leaders saying objectors are "using any excuse" to divide the community.

Woolston Learning Centre in Victoria Road has been in operation since 2017 and is used by many as a place to pray instead of travelling to Medina Mosque.

But dozens of objections have been made now as leaders have submitted a bid for retrospective planning permission for the centre. It was formerly an off-licence and does not have planning permission.

Some residents have said ‘a mosque will have a negative impact all-round’ – while Muslim leaders say there is nothing to fear and that it’s ‘a positive addition’ to the area.

Rashidul Islam, secretary of the Muslim Council in Southampton is under the impression that some residents of Woolston are ‘using any excuse’ to divide the community – and the truth is, ‘they don’t want to see a Muslim place of worship’.

Mr Islam said: “It is disappointing to note a lot of objections which the majority seems to have undertone of fear of a mosque operating from this site.

“They have used the site for a number of years and they have had no complaints, no issues with neighbours, parking or noise.

“Suddenly they have put in an application for a mosque and all these become factors.

“I have lived most of my life in Woolston. I still have family who live there and on the whole, it’s a good place to live – but there is still an element which I believe will use any excuse to divide the community and make excuses for their actual motives, which is they don’t want to see a Muslim place of worship.”

Hamza Oztas, a volunteer at the centre said that the place has never caused any problems and has received ‘widespread support’.

The applicant, YonusYorulmaz, has had to apply to Southampton City Council for retrospective planning permission to keep the centre.

In a consultation sent out to residents, 84 people objected to the site being kept open with 42 in favour.

Despite having been open for six years, many residents are still concerned about its positioning on Victoria Road.

One said they are ‘aghast’, citing parking problems and claiming that a ‘mosque will have a negative impact all round’.

Another said: “A neighbour told me there was an obstruction on the footpath with crowds of men outside it and it made her feel very intimidated and scared.

“We should feel safe walking around Woolston to shop.”

One resident said there is ‘not a demand for this population’ in Woolston and there are other religious centres ‘already available elsewhere’ in the city.

They added the centre would not benefit the greater need of the local community.

However, one 55-year-old Woolston resident who uses the centre said ‘this is the only religious centre’ to observe prayers.

He said: “Since the centre has opened, I don’t need to drive 15 minutes into the city centre, try to find a parking space, offer prayers – and then drive back another 15 minutes.

“Now, I just walk to the centre to offer my Friday prayer and quickly go back to my work.

“It is eco-friendly to have a local prayer space.

“If it is closed that would be a massive loss of time, energy – and it would not help the environment either.”

Woolston’s Muslim demographic is almost three times lower than Southampton as a whole, with Muslim people making up under two per cent of the ward’s population, compared to 5.6 per cent in the city.

Council planning officers replied to comments about there being ‘not a demand’ by saying: “The planning assessment is focused on the land use issues associated with a place of worship/learning centre.

“This does not include judgements on faiths or assessment of the type of worship facilities within the community.

“This religious and learning centre would form part of a wide range of facilities within the district centre to meet the needs of the community.”

Mr Oztas said that it has received ‘widespread support’ from the local Muslim community and business owners alike.

He said: “The retrospective planning application submitted by the Woolston Learning Centre, which has been operating in Woolston for six years, has been met with enthusiasm from residents and business owners who have expressed their belief that the learning centre should certainly continue to serve the community as it is a positive addition to the area and the local economy.”

Mr Oztas also spoke about how the centre has never caused any problems whatsoever and how it offers a reading class for children and women, a tea circle – and has raised £100,000 for victims of the 2022 earthquake in Turkey.

Specific objections to the centre include parking concerns, noise – and the need for more shops.

Mr Islam went on to talk about what can be done to combat Islamophobia in the city.

He said: “Educate people, allow places like this to get planning so they can open the door to the public, Muslim and non-Muslim so they can better educate people.

“The benefit will be immense for the local business, the local services and the local community.

“I believe the council needs to consider the application on merit and consider the well-being of the community that wants this.”

Not everybody in Woolston wants the centre to close.

Many residents have expressed their support, citing the fact that the place has been open for six years and never had any problems.

One resident echoed Mr Islam’s comments by saying: “Religious centres should not be judged in terms of their faith.

“The centre would be a positive step for the community, increase the resilience and strength of the community, and promote inclusivity and diversity in the area.

“It is the only mosque on the eastern side of the city. It offers opportunities for families, children’s education, youth programmes, and activities for Muslim ladies.”

Another added: “The re-use of the vacant building has benefited the local shopping area.

“The centre has operated for many years without any problems.

“People visit local shops while they wait for their children and this helps

the local economy and businesses.

“The users are respectful to their neighbours, shops and residents surrounding it.”

The city council’s planning panel will decide whether or not the Woolston Learning Centre can stay open on Tuesday.

Source: dailyecho.co.uk

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https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/23562332.southampton-muslim-centre-84-objections-despite-existing-years/

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North America

 

19 US Republican Senators Prepare To Introduce Bill Sanctioning Islamic Emirate

1 Jun 2023

19 US Republican senators on Wednesday were preparing to introduce a bill titled the “Taliban Sanctions Act” to impose sanctions on the Islamic Emirate for “human rights abuses” in Afghanistan.

The bill would block and prohibit all transactions of property held by the Islamic Emirate, as well as invalidate all visas or other documentation permitting entry to the US.

The Islamic Emirate “allowed Afghanistan to once again become a safe-haven for terrorists,” said Sen. Jim Risch.

According to the US Foreign Relations Committee, the Taliban Sanctions Act includes: “Sanctions relating to support for terrorism, sanctions relating to human rights abuses, sanctions relating to drug trafficking," and "support for multilateral sanctions with respect to the Taliban.”

Political analysts gave various opinions on the matter.

“The leaders of the interim government needs to get along with the international community as soon as possible and take practical steps to fulfill their wishes which is in fact the wishes of the people of Afghanistan, and they also needs to take practical steps to alleviate the human rights issues, particularly the rights of women,” said Najib Rahman Shamal, a political analyst.

“History witnesses that no kind of political and economic sanctions have impacted the rulers. The political and economic sanctions impact the nation,” said WaisNaseri, political analyst.

However, the Islamic Emirate said that the pressure will not bring any good results and that the US should focus on engagement instead of applying pressure.

“The whole world, particularly the Americans, should know that imposing pressure will not bring any result. It is better that they share their proposals through diplomatic and legal channels,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, the Islamic Emirate’s spokesman.

Earlier, in response to the ban on women attending university and working for NGOs in Afghanistan, the US State Department has imposed new visa restrictions on a number of current and former officials of the Islamic Emirate.

Source: tolonews.com

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

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183607

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Lack of accessibility to mosque a ‘challenge’ say some Kingston residents

June 1, 2023

The adhan is the universal sign to all Muslims that it’s time to worship, telling followers of Islam across the world to make the journey to the mosque to say their prayers. But for some in Kingston, Ont., like Imaan Javeed, that journey is a little more complicated.

“Going to and from the mosque has been a challenge.”

The location of Kingston’s only mosque makes getting there by bus impractical, and forces travelers like Javeed to look for other alternatives.

“I rely on Ubers or taxis and that can (be) … I would say on average $24 one way.”

One of the closest bus stops is at Princess and Sydenham, leaving travelers staring down an almost forty-minute walk one way.

Countryside district councilor Gary Oosterhoof says he’s confident a solution can be found.

“In the meantime, there’s a lot of solutions that we’re looking at. We’re looking at maybe some private taxis, almost, so that it’s actually more affordable than actually putting a bus.”

Javeed says he wouldn’t mind a private taxi, an extension of the bus, or a shuttle. He even had another suggestion of his own.

“Unless they wanna give everybody a jetpack to get to the mosque – I’ll gladly accept that, by the way,” he joked.

According to a statement from Kingston Transit, it has consulted with the public about rural transit including easier access to places of worship. The statement adds that Transit is currently developing a case to expand service with a final report coming later this year.

Source: globalnews.ca

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

https://globalnews.ca/news/9740142/kingston-mosque-location-transit-challenge/

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CAIR Urges Biden Administration to Act on Ethiopia Mosque Demolitions

June 1, 2023

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/1/23) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the Biden administration to take concrete actions to prevent the government of Ethiopia from demolishing that nation’s mosques.

The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs of the Oromia Regional State said 19 mosques were illegally demolished in Shaggar City. Two people protesting the demolitions were reportedly killed, with dozens more injured by police.

SEE: Two killed, dozens injured in police crackdown against protest by Muslims in Addis Abeba; more than 100 people detained

“Ethiopia has a long tradition of protecting Muslims and it would be a shame for that noble tradition to be overshadowed by current events,” said CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. “We urge the Biden administration to take appropriate action to prevent the demolition of Ethiopian houses of worship.”

Mitchell noted that in the early history of Islam, some of the first Muslims migrated from Arabia to what is now Ethiopia due to religious persecution in Mecca. They were granted refuge by that nation’s leader. When the ruler of Ethiopia died, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told his companions: “A brother of yours has died; get up and offer the funeral prayer for him.” Sahih Muslim

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

La misión de CAIR esprotegerlaslibertadesciviles, mejorar la comprensióndel Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los EstadosUnidos.                 

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Do you like reading CAIR press releases and taking part in our action alerts? You can help contribute to CAIR’s work of defending civil rights and empowering American Muslims across the country by making a one-time contribution or becoming a monthly donor. Supporters like you make CAIR’s advocacy work possible and defeating Islamophobia an achievable goal. Click here to donate to CAIR.     

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Source: cair.com

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

https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-urges-biden-administration-to-act-on-ethiopia-mosque-demolitions/

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Residents Requesting School Holiday for Islamic Celebration ofEid-al-Fitr

June 1, 2023

By Roman Uschak

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Followers of the Islamic faith in the Bridgewater-Raritan community want one of their main religious holidays added to the annual school calendar.

Several speakers at the May 23 meeting of the Bridgewater-Raritan board of education requested that the Muslim holiday Eid, or more specifically Eid-al-Fitr, be officially recognized by the school system in its future academic calendars. It is the earlier of the two official holidays that are observed by Islamic followers, celebrated in April and marking the end of the month of Ramadan.

The latter holiday, Eid al-Adha, takes place entirely in June, or across June and July.

Annie Qureshi, president of the PTO at Bradley Gardens School, has three children in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District. She said she had sent an e-mail to administrators some 13 months ago, requesting that Eid-al-Fitr be recognized, but that it had still not been listed on the board-approved 2023–2024 school calendar.

“It’s not right,” said Qureshi.

She said she was grateful for the April 10 snow day give back for next year, as Eid-al-Fitr will take place on April 10 through April 11 in 2024 – but she also asked what was the reason for denying Eid as an annual school holiday, and charged that the administration is "not taking Islam seriously.”

She said she has a petition with over 600 signatures on it that had been sent to the school board by e-mail, “asking for recognition for our religion.”

Sara Ahmed-Imadi, who has two children in the district, also said she wants Eid added to the calendar, and to “not (be) contingent on snow days.” She added that holidays for the Christian, Hindi and Jewish faiths are already recognized in the Bridgewater-Raritan district, and she also said that Eid-al-Fitr has been celebrated for years in the South Brunswick school district where she works, even before she was first employed there.

“Bridgewater deserves the same opportunities,” said Ahmed-Imadi.

A third speaker said he supported the idea of including Eid-al-Fitr in the school calendar.

“Bridgewater is a diverse community,” he said.

He added that the United States is said to be “one nation under God,” and that there should be justice and a celebration of Eid-al-Fitr “for all Muslims.”

The board is expected to look into the requests for Eid-al-Fitr to be observed as a future school holiday.

Source: tapinto.net

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

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/bridgewater-slash-raritan/sections/religions-and-spirituality/articles/residents-requesting-school-holiday-for-islamic-celebration-of-eid

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Soldiers of End-Times: Assessing the Military Effectiveness of the Islamic State

01-06-23

In 2014, a whirlwind that swept in from the desert shocked the world. At the height of its self-proclaimed caliphate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or IS) had captured one-third of Syria and 40 percent of Iraq.

ISIS caused alarm not just because of its members' fanaticism and viciousness but also because of their speed in routing well-equipped conventional armies. In Soldiers of End-Times, Levy tackles this problem at its sharp edge: whence the source of the Islamic State's military effectiveness and how was it defeated?

Levy, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, persuasively attributes ISIS's battlefield success to flexibility and to mastery of regular and irregular warfare (also known as "hybrid warfare"). "Throughout the war, IS proved adept at innovation and adaptability, especially in low-tech areas," Levy notes. For example, its capture of Ramadi in 2015 was preceded by hit-and-run attacks and assassinations to demoralize Iraqi security forces and pro-government tribes. Fast, hard-hitting attacks relied on highly motivated troops backed by ISIS's signature weapon: low-tech but highly effective bomb-laden suicide vehicles that served as the equivalent of tanks, artillery, and airstrikes.

As ISIS's enemies regrouped, supported by U.S. airpower, the tide turned. Now on the defensive, ISIS lost most its territory by the end of 2017. Yet even in defeat, the organization displayed formidable combat skills. The 2017 battle of Mosul was less Lawrence of Arabia and more Stalingrad or Iwo Jima, with ISIS forces making grim use of fortifications and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as they fought to the death.

The Islamic State's success fits into a larger context. From the Maccabees to the Viet Cong, aggressive and motivated irregulars have defeated conventional forces—as long they could shape the battlefield. Once ISIS decided to hold cities like a regular army, its fate was sealed—assuming the forces arrayed against it were willing to pay the price.

Yet, Levy points out the drawback of engaging irregulars like ISIS in conventional combat: bombed-out cities and massive civilian casualties. Instead, Levy believes that Washington would do better to provide local forces with high-tech support such as armed drones and cyberwarfare. Left unanswered is whether military means can really defeat an insurgency without addressing root causes such as poverty and poor government. As Soldiers of End-Times demonstrates, these groups may be formidable but not unbeatable.

Source: meforum.org

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

https://www.meforum.org/64474/review-soldiers-of-end-times

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Arab World

 

Tropical Condition of Arabian Sea Not To Affect Saudi Arabia: National Centre of Meteorology

June 01, 2023

JEDDAH — The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) stated that the tropical condition of Arabian Sea would not affect the air space of Saudi Arabia. “The initial indicators showed that the Kingdom’s airspace will not be directly affected by the tropical situation,” the center said.

The NCM’s report is based on numerical predictions for the possibility of a tropical state forming in the Arabian Sea during the next week.

The center continues to monitor developments in the situation, and special reports will be issued, if necessary, on a timely basis, it said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. Tropical climates are hot, humid, and rainy climates found mostly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632980/SAUDI-ARABIA/NCM-Tropical-condition-of-Arabian-Sea-not-to-affect-Saudi-Arabia

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Saudi Arabia agrees to give Belize $45m loan to support healthcare infrastructure

June 01, 2023

BELIZE — Ahmed Al Khateeb, minister of tourism and chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), signed a development loan agreement worth $45 million with the Prime Minister of Belize, John Briceno, for the construction of a tertiary hospital in the Belmopan Area Project.

The signing ceremony was attended by Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations of Belize Anthony Mahler; Minister of Health and Wellness of Belize Kevin Bernard; Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment of Belize Christopher Coye; Ambassador of Investment in Belize HaisamDiab; Deputy Chief of Mission at the Saudi Embassy in Mexico Sultan Al-Muzaini; CEO of the Office of the Prime Minister of Belize Narda Garcia, and officials from both sides.

The agreement is part of the efforts undertaken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the SFD, to support sustainable development in developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) around the world.

The new 200-bed hospital will be supplied with state-of-the-art medical equipment, facilities, and integrated health services, benefitting approximately 200,000 patients annually. Moreover, the project aims to enhance the capacity of the local healthcare system by training health cadres and students from the University of Belize.

In addition to helping improve access to quality healthcare services, the hospital will play a crucial role in addressing chronic disease management, potentially reducing mortality rates in the region. The new hospital will also stimulate local economic growth by helping to create direct and indirect job opportunities within the healthcare sector, providing a platform for medical education and training and strengthening Belize's long-term healthcare capacity and resilience. This project is in line with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prime Minister John Briceno stated: “On behalf of the government and people of Belize, we are most grateful to the government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for assisting in building a vital tertiary level/teaching hospital. The concessionary financing, through a loan by the Saudi Development Fund (SFD), makes the urgent investment in the health sector a reality.”

For his part, SFD Chairman Alkhateeb, said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to promoting sustainable socio-economic development in developing nations and Small Island Developing States, while supporting the journey to achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Today's agreement signifies an important step in the development cooperation for both countries. The project to build a tertiary hospital in Belize will not only empower local communities but also strengthen the health sector's capacity to cater to the requirements of the capital's residents and surrounding areas.”

This agreement emphasizes Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to overcome sustainable development and climate change challenges. The agreement, furthermore, reaffirms the importance of international cooperation and solidarity to achieve sustainable development goals and foster economic and social growth, particularly in SIDS. — SPA

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632971/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-Arabia-agrees-to-give-Belize-$45m-loan-to-support-healthcare-infrastructure

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Crown Prince congratulates Erdogan on re-election

June 01, 2023

JEDDAH — Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election to a new term during a phone call on Wednesday.

The Crown Prince wished President Erdogan more success, and the people of Turkey further progress and prosperity.

For his part, President Erdogan thanked the Crown Prince for his noble feelings. — SPA

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632970/SAUDI-ARABIA/Crown-Prince-congratulates-Erdogan-on-re-election

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Up to SR5 million fine for breaking postal regulations

June 01, 2023

RIYADH — The Board of Directors of the Transport General Authority (TGA) has approved the formation of a committee to examine violations of the Postal Law.

The committee will carry out studies about 77 violations identified by the authority by classifying them and determining penalties for violators of the executive regulations of the law.

The law aims to better organize the service and strengthen the principle of fairness and independence in the postal sector in the Kingdom. It is in line with activating the role of PTA in exercising its competencies covered by its oversight and supervisory role to ensure the quality and efficiency of land, sea and rail transport activities.

The committee will take measures against violators of the Postal Law, its executive regulations, or licensing procedures, and will impose penalties contained in the law. The penalties include a financial fine og not exceeding SR5 million, as well as stopping the service that is subject to the violation and suspend the license, or part of it, or prevent its renewal for a period not exceeding three years.

The schedule of violations and penalties for them were issued according to the decision of the Board of Directors of PTA on March 22. It includes the classification of all violations, and the minimum and maximum value of the fine for each violation, and the committee may, according to its discretion, refer any violation involving an act or procedure punishable by the law to the authority. The committee enjoys complete independence in its work and decision-making.

The Postal Law stipulates the necessity and importance of preserving the rights of beneficiaries and the service provider and they have recourse to the Board of Grievances in case of complaints about the committee’s decisions, the authority pointed out.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632987/SAUDI-ARABIA/Penalties-include-up-to-SR5-million-fine-for-Postal-Law-violations

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Saudi FM meets with Russian and Indian counterparts in Cape Town

June 01, 2023

CAPE TOWN — Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan met on Thursday with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of Friends of BRICS Group in Cape Town, South Africa.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed aspects of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance and develop them in all fields. They also discussed consolidating bilateral and multilateral work regarding many fields of common interest.

Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom's position in support of all regional and international endeavors to find a political solution to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. The two sides also discussed the key issues raised in the Ministerial Meeting, held under the slogan "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah also met with India's Minister for Foreign Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Cape Town on Thursday.

During the talks, the two ministers reviewed historical and solid relations between the two friendly countries and peoples and ways to boost and develop them in various areas. They also discussed enhancing bilateral and multilateral coordination on many regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The two ministers stressed the importance of intensifying joint efforts in establishing international peace and security and enhancing the contribution to achieving sustainable development goals, as well as exchanging views on topics on the agenda of the Brics meeting.

The meetings were attended by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Multiple International Affairs, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rassi, Saudi Ambassador to South Africa Sultan Al-Luyhan Al-Anqari, and Director-General of Prince Faisal's office Abdulrahman Al-Daoud. — SPA

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632986/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-FM-meets-with-Russian-and-Indian-counterparts-in-Cape-Town

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‘I’m here to stay,’ Ronaldo speaks out about continuing in Saudi league

June 01, 2023

RIYADH — Portuguese football legend Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he will continue as part of Al-Nassr Club in the Saudi Professional League for the next season despite the end of this year’s season with no titles for Al-Nassr.

In an interview published on Thursday by the Saudi Pro League (SPL), Ronaldo said: “I’m happy here and I want to continue here and I will continue here.”

Since his move to the Saudi league in January, Cristiano has made headlines with the biggest transfer in the history of sport. Five months later, Ronaldo ended his first heated season with Riyadh-based Al Nassr with no titles in a huge blow off to fans.

The club sacked head coach Rudi Garcia in the middle of the season. The president of the club is facing angry fans who are calling him to resign and other foreign professionals had a bouncy season when it came to their performance.

After being silent for almost the whole season, Ronaldo spoke out his thoughts about the current Saudi season and his future. “My expectations was different when I came here. To be honest, I expect to win something this year but things will not always go the way we want or think.”

“My team improved a lot during the past five months, and in the whole league all the teams have also improved.” Next year I’m really positive and confident that things will change and go in a better way. Let’s believe in that and work on it,” he said in a clear sign that he will continue to remain with Al-Nassr in the upcoming season.

Speaking about the Saudi Pro league, Ronaldo said the league is very good and has many competitive teams and many good Arab players but it has to cash in on many opportunities to grow it more. “I think they need to improve the infrastructure, and even the referees and the VAR system can be quicker and I think other small things can be improved. In my opinion if they — Saudi league officials — continue doing the work they’re planning to do for the next five years this league can be among the top 5 leagues in the world.”

Ronaldo touched on how his teammates felt his discipline and hard work. “It’s not by coincidence to play for 20 years in such a high level. It’s not like they say the genetics but the other factors are important and what you do with your genetics. I think I helped many players on how they see fitness and the way of life to be a professional football player.”

On challenges he faced in the Saudi league, Ronaldo said: “In Europe we train in the morning but here we train in the afternoon or during night; that’s different. During Ramadan we trained at 10 in the night and it was a strange experience but I like to live these moments. You learn a lot in a different culture.”

The international soccer star lauded the Saudi fans, saying they really love football and love to take it as part of their life. As many big names are expected to come to the Saudi league during the next season, he welcomed them, saying it will improve the league no matter who come, big names or young players or even old names.

Describing life in Saudi Arabia, he spoke highly about the Kingdom and its people. “The Saudis live more in night, and it is fun and interesting. Riyadh is a beautiful city in the night and probably it’s one of the best places I’ve seen with high quality restaurants.”

Ronaldo continued: Most nice experience I had here was when I visited Boulevard World with my family. “So far living here is a very good experience. My family are happy. Schools for the kids are really good and the country is building a lot for its future. I like to try different things and that’s why I am here. The next trip I want to do is visiting AlUla because I know it’s very beautiful.

He thanked all the fans for supporting him every year in the pitch and outside. “I will be here as a part of your culture and I hope I please people with my performance and winning things,” Ronaldo added.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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

https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632992/SAUDI-ARABIA/Im-here-to-stay-Ronaldo-speaks-out-about-continuing-in-Saudi-league

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South Asia

 

Kabul Stresses Need for Negotiation with Tehran Over 1973 Water Treaty

1 Jun 2023

The acting Minister of Energy and Water, Abdul Latif Mansour, emphasized the need for negotiations to address the issue of the Helmand water treaty, saying that the issue should not become politicized.

In an interview with TOLOnews, Mansour said that any kind of provocative remarks should be avoided.

“As you have referred to, we have cleared the stance of the ministry in this regard. We are committed to the standing treaty. Whenever there is a drought or there is any challenge, there should be a reference to the agreement in which all of the points have been addressed… the condition of droughts and normal conditions are clearly mentioned,” he said.

A dispute between Kabul and Tehran has recently increased.

“We had said before that we are two Islamic countries and we have relations with each other, religious and cultural relations. Many of our refugees are there, so we respect all these issues and do not want a technical issue to become politicized and for there the negative propaganda between the two countries to rise,” Mansour said.

Analysts suggested that the two sides should hold negotiations to solve the water issues.

“Iran has problems with regional countries and Western countries as well as Arabic countries. It knows there will be a wide conflict that will harm the two countries. It uses some tactics to control water within where it can or to enforce some of its political and economic agendas on the Taliban,” said Aziz Maarij, international analyst.

Addressing a ceremony on the 7th anniversary of the death of former Islamic Emirate leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the acting Minister of Foreign Affair Amir Khan Muttaqi said that the Islamic Emirate is committed to the Helmand water treaty signed in 1973.

Muttaqi said that the recent droughts should not be ignored, and Kabul expects the Iranian officials to make their demands based on the treaty.

Source: tolonews.com

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

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183606

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Foreign Forces Committed Serious Crimes in Afghanistan: Sources

June 2, 2023

A senior Taliban official on Thursday said that international forces had committed serious crimes during their 20-year-long war in Afghanistan. 

These remarks came, following a former Australian soldier lost a defamation case over reports of allegedly killing Afghan civilians during their prolonged mission in Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi said the incidents involved in the Australian court case were a small part of the many alleged crimes that took place and that they did not trust any court globally to follow them up.

In 2018, Ben Roberts-Smith, a former member of the Australian Elite Special Air Service Regiment, sued three newspapers for reports alleging him of being involved in the murders of civilians in Afghanistan.

Mr. Smith did not only deny the allegations but also launched a multi-million-dollar defamation case in response.

After two years of proceeding, it was decided by a court in Australia that the newspaper had proven the bulk of their allegations to be “substantially true” and dismissed the case against them.

Following the announcement, the defendants praised the decision and described it as a major victory for free media in Australia, and justice for those Afghan civilians who have been the victim of such crimes.

Roberts-Smith had won the Victoria Cross, the highest military honor for bravely hunting a senior Taliban commander during his mission in Afghanistan.

Several Australian newspapers reported that Roberts-Smith had kicked an unarmed Afghan civilian off a cliff and ordered subordinates to shoot him – which can be considered a clear crime against humanity committed by the international troops in Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/foreign-forces-committed-serious-crimes-in-afghanistan-sources/

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Afghan Security Forces Kill ISIS Commander in Eastern Afghanistan

June 2, 2023

Afghan security forces claim to have killed a senior ISIS commander along with his accomplice in eastern Nangarhar province on Thursday, state-run Bakhtar news agency reported.

The killed ISIS commander’s name is said to be ‘Turab’ who was killed during a special operation conducted by the Taliban security forces.

The operation was conducted on Wednesday evening in WuchTangi village of Shiwa district in eastern Nangarhar province, according to Taliban’s provincial officials reported by Bakhtar news agency.

In order to tackle the threats of ISIS fighters, the Taliban security forces randomly conduct special operations in areas where insurgents are believed to have hideouts.

Since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, ISIS fighters have claimed responsibility for brutal attacks in Kabul and other major cities of Afghanistan. Over the past 20 months, ISIS militants have launched attacks on the Russian Embassy, the Pakistani Diplomatic Mission and a Chinese-run Hotel which accommodated Chinese nationals in the heart of Kabul, killing scores of innocent foreign and local civilians.

It is believed that ISIS remains a major threat to Afghanistan’s de facto regime with no other active group to resist the ruling regime.

Meanwhile, regional countries, the Central Asian state, in particular, are concerned about the presence and expansion of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, which may eventually pose threats to their security.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/afghan-security-forces-kill-isis-commander-in-eastern-afghanistan/

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Bangladesh bans 1st-class travel for govt employees

1st June 2023

Dhaka: The Bangladeshi government has issued a directive banning first-class travel for all government employees till further notice.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed the directive in this regard, her Press Wing said in a statement.

To combat the Covid triggered impacts as well as the global economic crisis, the government adopted the austerity measures, reportsXinhua news agency.

As part of the multifaceted measures to rationalise government expenditure, Bangladesh in November last year banned foreign travels of all public employees until further notice.

However, in March this year some of the restrictions on expenditure were relaxed.

Source: siasat.com

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

https://www.siasat.com/bangladesh-bans-1st-class-travel-for-govt-employees-2603972/

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Pakistan

 

Govt toughens stance on isolated Imran, but leaves room for dialogue

June 2, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday went after PTI chief Imran Khan with all guns blazing, accusing him of everything — from maligning law enforcement agencies to abandoning his workers high and dry in the face of legal action following the incidents of May 9.

One government minister termed the PTI chief a bigger threat than Indian PM Narendra Modi, while another advised him to approach Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directly, if he was indeed serious about talks with the government.

Taking to Twitter, PM Shehbaz said that Mr Khan could go to any extent to divert attention from his culpability in the tragic events of May 9.

“Make no mistake about the evil intent behind Imran Niazi’s latest ploy to defame our law enforcement agencies and police. Yet again, he is making misleading and baseless allegations of the “rights abuses” just to distract attention for his culpability in the tragic events of May 9,” the prime minister said in a tweet, adding: “I am not surprised by his antics”.

He said that someone who could persistently use foul language against the state institutions, incite people to violence and attack the state symbols and military installations, and bring down martyrs’ monuments, was capable of going to any extreme.

The prime minister said that Mr Khan presided over a disinformation apparatus that deployed fake news methodically to fool people. “Everything about him is hate, division and lie,” he remarked.

‘More dangerous than Modi’

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif called Mr Khan “an internal enemy”, claiming that he was more dangerous than the Indian prime minister.

“People have so far not identified the internal enemy (Imran Khan) who is more dangerous than the enemy in front of you,” he said during an appearance on the Geo News programme Capital Talk, adding that people were not aware of the real face of Imran Khan.

Calling what happened on May 9 a “mutiny”, he said that internal enemies were posing a threat to the country’s unity and security.

Separately, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah advised the PTI chief to directly approach Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif if he was serious about dialogue.

Serious about talks

In an interview with Voice of America (VOA), he extended the assurance that the prime minister will respond positively if Mr Khan made such an overture.

He regretted that the PTI chief would constitute a negotiation team for talks, but was averse to sitting with political leaders himself.

Mr Sanaullah said the government believed that the time was not right for talks with the PTI, as it may draw a negative reaction from the families of martyrs, whose sentiments were hurt by the events of May 9.

Despite this, he said, a positive response would be given to any move towards dialogue.

On a question regarding trying Imran Khan in a military court, he said that the acts of violence that transpired on May 9 were committed under his directions.

The minister claimed that some equipment, including laptops containing sensitive information, were either stolen or set on fire during the storming of the Corps Commander residence in Lahore, leading to the destruction of significant information. He said that it was the Pakistan Army which would recover these items.

Mr Sanaullah said that those found to be involved in theft have to be tried under the Army Act, asking why Mr Khan should not be dealt with under the same law.

He also said that any ‘king’s party’ was free to contest the election, as it would grab its own votes and would not disturb the PML-N’s vote bank.

Blaming workers and leaders

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb also broadsided Mr Khan on Thursday, saying that his BBC interview was “a true reflection… of a duplicitous and false character.”

Commenting on Imran’s contradictory claims in the interview, she tweeted that in one sentence, he said there would be a reaction if he was jailed. Then, in the next breath, he blamed the party’s workers and leaders for the events of May 9.

“From ‘one page’ to ‘I was powerless’, from ‘US brought down my government’ to ‘Mohsin Naqvi brought down my government’, the liar has now finally put the debris of May 9 on his party workers and leaders,” she said.

In a separate press conference, she said that while PM Shehbaz had worked to stabilise the economy, the former ruler had only sowed the seeds of hatred, chaos and anarchy to train armed groups, which resulted in the May 9 tragedy.

“We have inherited a ruined economy from the previous government of PTI, which left the country at verge of default due to its inefficiency and incompetence,” she said.

The prime minister, she said, had started consultations related to the budget with the departments concerned and he had formed two sub-committees regarding agriculture.

“The economy cannot be switched on or switched off,” she said, adding it took time to improve economic indicators.“

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1757427/govt-toughens-stance-on-isolated-imran-but-leaves-room-for-dialogue

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Lahore court extends Imran’s bail in 3 cases linked to May 9 violence

June 2, 2023

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Friday extended PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s bail in cases linked to May 9 violence, including the vandalism of Jinnah House and Askari Tower.

At least eight people were killed and as many as 290 were injured on May 9 after the PTI chief was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau in the Al-Qadir Trust case. The protesters had also stormed the residence of the corps commander in Lahore — also called Jinnah House — and tore down a gate of General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Subsequently, over 1,900 enraged protesters were rounded up in running battles with law enforcers across the country. Cases were also registered against Imran and his party workers.

On May 19, Judge Ijaz Ahmad Buttar had granted bail to the former prime minister in the three cases till June 2, subject to furnishing surety bonds of Rs100,000 each.

At the outset of the hearing today, the judge directed Imran to come to the rostrum. “I was told the reasons why you are not joining the probe … but now you have to become a part of the investigation,” he stressed.

For his part, Imran told the judge that there were threats to his life.

At that, PTI chief’s lawyer Salman Safdar said that Imran was ready to join the probe but requested that all the cases should be fixed for hearing on the same day. “I will complete the arguments in all three cases,” he assured the court.

Safdar further requested that all the cases be fixed for hearing on June 20, promising that Imran would join the probe the day court issued the order.

Subsequently, Judge Buttar allowed Imran to leave and extended his bail.

LHC extends Imran’s bail in Zille Shah murder case

After the ATC, the PTI chief also appeared before the Lahore High Court (LHC) for the hearing on his bail petition in a case linked to concealing facts and evidence about the death of a PTI worker, Zille Shah, in a road accident.

Imran arrived at the court amid tight security. A video posted on PTI’s official Twitter account showed his vehicle surrounded by a huge contingent of security personnel outside the LHC.

Justice Anwarul Haq Pannun heard the case and extended his bail till June 6 as the former prime minister joined the probe and recorded his statement with the police.

Earlier, the LHC had granted Imran bail in the case till June 2.

During the brief hearing, the judge asked the investigating officer (IO) if Imran had been made a part of the investigations into the murder to which the latter replied that the PTI chief had not yet joined the probe.

The court then ordered the IO to record Imran’s statement after the hearing. “Ask him whatever questions you want to,” Justice Pannun said.

Here, the government’s counsel said that the statement could not be recorded in the presence of the petitioner’s lawyers.

“Will you answer the questions they ask you?” the judge asked Imran. The PTI chief responded by saying: “Yes, I am absolutely ready.”

Subsequently, the court extended Imran’s bail till June 6.

Following the proceedings, the ex-premier joined the probe and recorded his statement with the police.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1757487/lahore-court-extends-imrans-bail-in-3-cases-linked-to-may-9-violence

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Imran levelling baseless allegations to divert attention from May 9 events: PM

June 02, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said that Imran Khan Niazi could go to any extreme to defame the law enforcement agencies and to distract attention from his culpability in the tragic events of May 09.

“Make no mistake about the evil intent behind Imran Niazi’s latest ploy to defame our law enforcement agencies and police. Yet again, he is making misleading and baseless allegations of the rights abuses just to distract attention for his culpability in the tragic events of May 9,” the prime minister on Twitter said, adding that he was not surprised by Imran’s antics.

Shehbaz said that someone who could persistently use foul language against the state institutions, incite people to violence and attack the state symbols and military installations, and bring down martyrs’ monuments, was capable of going to any extreme. The prime minister said that Imran Niazi presided over a disinformation apparatus that deployed fake news methodically to fool the people. “Everything about him is hate, division and lie,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister Thursday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to completely stop the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products.

While talking to a delegation of Pakistan Tobacco Company here, the PM said steps should be taken on an emergency basis against the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products. He also ordered the installation of a track and trace system in all the cigarette factories in the country by July 15. He said the smuggling of cigarettes should be stopped, adding nobody would be allowed to cause loss to the national exchequer. He said strict action should be taken against those involved in selling of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco or those products on which taxes were evaded.

Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the PM Ahad Cheema, FBR chairman and high-ranking officials attended the meeting. Also, the prime minister Thursday said Pakistan considered Japan as an important partner for its progress and prosperity and Japanese companies should avail the immense opportunities for investment in Pakistan.

The PM was speaking to President Toyota Asia YoshikiKonishi and Chief Executive Officer of Indus Motors Ali Asghar Jamali who called on him here.

Japan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mitsuhiro Wada, Vice Chairman Toyota Indus Motors Shinji Yanagi, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Minister for Industries and Production Makhdum Murtaza Mehmood, Adviser to PM Ahad Cheema, Special Assistants to PM Jehanzeb Khan and Tariq Bajwa and high-ranking officials attended the meeting. In a briefing, the prime minister was told that Toyota Indus Motors for the first time established a unit for the production of hybrid vehicles in Pakistan with an investment of $100 million.

PM Shehbaz Sharif welcomed the project of Toyota to produce hybrid vehicles in Pakistan. The Japanese ambassador said leading Japanese companies were desirous of further investment in Pakistan. During the briefing, the PM was told that in the current year from July, Toyota Indus Motors would start export of spare parts of vehicles and these exports would make Pakistan a part of the global supply chain.

The prime minister said exports of spare parts should be enhanced by taking benefit of the capacity of engineering sector in the country. He said it should be ensured that the spare parts for the vehicles to be sold in Pakistan should be manufactured locally. The participants of the meeting lauded the prime minister for his government’s business-friendly policies.

On the other hand, the Foreign Office said Thursday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will attend the inauguration ceremony of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on June 3. The prime minister is paying the visit at the invitation of President Erdogan, who was re-elected to his office on May 28. “The prime minister’s visit will be a reaffirmation of the deep-rooted fraternal ties between Pakistan and Turkiye,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said at a weekly press briefing.

The FO spokesperson said the prime minister would convey warm felicitations on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan to President Erdogan. The prime minister would also extend an invitation to President Erdogan to attend the 7th Meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) in Islamabad, shesaid.Baloch said Minister of State (MoS) for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will undertake official visits to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium from June 5-13. “The MoS will hold meetings at the ministerial level to discuss political engagement and cooperation in development, trade and climate change,” she said.

Also, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday here separately held meetings with members of National Assembly, including Ali Musa Gilani, Riazul Haq and Khalid Javed Warraich.During the meetings, the legislators discussed with the prime minister problems related to their constituencies, development projects and the political situation in the country.Special Assistant to the prime minister AttaullahTarar was present in the meeting.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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Govt should consult SC on reforms bill: CJP

June 02, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umer Ata Bandial Thursday observed that the government should take the judiciary on board while legislating on its administrative affairs.This observation from the country’s top judge came during the hearing of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 after the attorney general informed the apex court that the government was reviewing the overlapping of some sections of both the legislations.

The chief justice headed the eight-member bench comprising 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.

Last month, the government had enacted the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) ACT 2023 aimed at curtailing the powers of the chief justice of exercising the original jurisdiction of suo motu under Article 184(3) of the Constitution as well as constitution of the benches. The bench suspended the bill on April 13 before it was enacted. However, on April 21, the bill became a law despite that its implementation had been halted by the court.

On Thursday, the bench resumed the proceedings but adjourned the hearing to next week.Attorney General Mansoor Awan told the court that the government had enacted two laws including the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 and the Supreme Court (Review of judgments and orders) Act 2023. He submitted that both the laws had similarities in the sections of review and hiring a lawyer.

Referring to the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, he said the law was more extensive and included provisions related to the internal affairs of the court. Therefore, he submitted that it was necessary to decide which of the two legislations could be relied upon. The AG submitted that the advice of the judiciary was not taken in the legislation pertaining to its administrative affairs and now amendments would be made to the law with the consultation of the apex court.

The chief justice appreciated the government’s move for reviewing the overlapping of sections of both the legislations saying as long as the government adopted the process of consultation, there would be no distress. The chief justice said they wanted that there should be harmony and matters should be resolve through mutual consultations.

“If there is any matter pertaining to the administrative affairs of the judiciary, then we want that our consent must be taken for avoiding any distress,” the chief justice told attorney general.Referring to the constitution of full court for hearing the matter, the attorney general said Barrister Salahuddin was in the court who could argue as well. At this, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar told him that arguments on the full court would be unjustified and an unnecessary practice when matters were being sorted out through consultation.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar further asked the attorney general whether the government was also reviewing the clause in Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 whereby a three-member committee, comprising chief justice and two senior most judges of the Supreme Court, would decide about the cases to be taken up through the suo motu jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and constitution of bench for it. The attorney general, however, replied in the negative but submitted that if the court considered, it could be referred to the Parliament. At this, the chief justice observed that they would not do so adding that if they did, it would be considered their opinion.

“But there is another way that we should continue our own work while you should correct the errors you have made and let’s see who is fast,” the chief justice told attorney general in a lighter vein.

At the outset of hearing, Imtiaz Siddiqui, counsel for one of the petitioners, recalled that in the last hearing, the court had sought the record of parliamentary proceedings and debate on the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) bill from the attorney general. At this, the chief justice said that they came through media reports that the Parliament had refused to provide the record.The chief justice said the court had got that record from the website of Parliament.

“They are so kind that they did not delete the record from their website”, the CJP remarked with a smiling face.

Later, the court directed the attorney general to seek further instructions from the government and adjourned the matter to next week without mentioning the date but added that an appropriate order would be passed on the matter on Thursday’s proceedings.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Thursday requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the petitions, challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023. In its concise statement, the PML-Q submitted that the Act 2023 was constitutional and will only serve to promote the independence of judiciary, rule of law, the right to access to justice and fair trial as guaranteed in the Constitution.

The PML Q submitted that pursuant to Article 191, the Parliament clearly had the right to legislate on matters pertaining to the practice and procedure of the SC adding that the Parliament also had the right to enact the subject legislation and had done so strictly in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1076123-govt-should-consult-sc-on-reforms-bill-cjp

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Southeast Asia

 

Malaysia Announced Best Muslim-Friendly Destination by Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

02-06- 2023

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia was announced the ‘Best Muslim-Friendly Destination’ by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the ‘Best Muslim Women-Friendly Destination’ by CrescentRating and Mastercard at the Halal in Travel Awards held in Singapore yesterday.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said it was also confirmed at the event that Malaysia has retained the top position in the ‘Best Muslim-Friendly Destination’ chart in the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 report.

Tiong said the achievement further strengthens Malaysia’s position and branding as a leader in the Muslim Tourism and Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality (MFTH) segments at the regional and international level.

“Muslims are now a fast-growing segment of the tourism industry and the Muslim population is estimated to have reached two billion worldwide.

“The recovery rate of Islamic tourism at the global level has also been encouraging when 110 million Muslim tourist arrivals were recorded last year,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“It was also a proud achievement for Malaysia when it managed to attract 2.12 million Muslim tourists to the country last year and their total expenditure was RM5.37 billion,“ he said.

Tiong said local entrepreneurs and industry players are encouraged to offer Muslim-friendly hospitality services as an added value in expanding the Islamic tourism industry in the country.

He urged them to attend courses and programmes under the ITC, including the Muslim-Friendly Tourist Guide (MFTG) course which is opened to licenced local tour guides and the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality Assurance and Recognition (MFAR) programme which provides business development opportunities through the fast growing Islamic tourism sector. – Bernama

Source: thesundaily.my

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https://www.thesundaily.my/local/malaysia-announced-best-muslim-friendly-destination-by-oic-NF11055392

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DPM Fadillah: CPTPP a new phase in Malaysia-UK bilateral relations

02-06- 2023

LONDON: The United Kingdom’s (UK) accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) expected in a few months will set the stage for a new phase in Malaysia and United Kingdom bilateral relations, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri FadillahYusof said.

The UK has joined the 11-member CPTPP trade bloc after two years of negotiations.

“This is an opportunity to open the doors for better growth and access to new markets.”

“We are looking at the UK having a trade deal with Malaysia for the first time, reducing the red tape as businesses enjoy operating on a par with local firms and cutting off tariffs on goods exports, providing businesses with much greater access to new markets,” he said at the UK-Malaysia High Level Dinner here yesterday.

It was reported that the trade pact offers British consumers and businesses access to one of the largest free trade areas by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at about US$13.5 trillion and a market of 500 million people.

Also present were British Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade Lord Dominic Johnson, Malaysian High Commissioner DatukZakriJaafar, Members of the House of Lords and Members of Parliament.

Fadillah, who is also the Minister of Plantations and Commodities, said it is to the great credit of UK Ministers and their negotiating team that they committed to CPTPP with an open and ambitious spirit.

He said that among the key negotiating points was an agreement to reduce import tariffs on exports of Malaysian palm oil.

“The tariff reductions on palm oil are a standard element for CPTPP countries – and I can assure you that the UK has secured significant market access provisions in return.”

It is to be noted that the UK is the first and only European nation to have the vision and commitment to join the CPTPP -- the world’s largest-ever free trade agreement.

“That is a bold statement about your commitment to the Indo-Pacific: the region that will define global security and economic competition in the 21st century,” Fadillah stressed.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that besides increasing trade, CPTPP drives forward a broader policy agenda, namely addressing climate change in a practical, realistic manner and reducing poverty and eliminating hunger and managing unprecedented technological advances and addressing shared challenges on security.

“The UK adds significant weight to this ambitious agenda, and we look forward to working with you to achieve these objectives,” he added.

Bilateral trade between Malaysia and the UK reached over US$7.3 billion in 2022, with the UK recording a trade surplus of some US$786 million.

For 2023, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board anticipates palm oil exports to increase by 3.7 per cent to 16.3 million tonnes. – Bernama

Source: thesundaily.my

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https://www.thesundaily.my/local/dpm-fadillah-cptpp-a-new-phase-in-malaysia-uk-bilateral-relations-GF11054839

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Muslim travel interest on the rise again

1 June, 2023

Muslim travellers looking to visit Muslim heritage sites and hidden gems as well as experience the culture and lifestyle of local Muslims are seeing renewed interest post-lockdown.

This observation was shared by panellists speaking in a forum titled, The Future of Muslim Travel: Are Destinations Engaging Enough on the second day of the Halal in Travel Global Summit.

RiyantoSofyan, chairman, Sofyan Corporation in Indonesia, shared that community-based tourism products in Indonesia, such as homestays, have become increasingly popular with longhaul Muslim travellers, particularly those from the US and the UK, who wish to experience the Islamic way of life in Indonesian villages.

He noted that social media and digital marketing have helped to convey such experiences to longhaul markets. Previously, these experiences were traditionally more popular among Muslim travellers from Singapore and Malaysia.

Lee JianXuan, area director, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei at Singapore Tourism Board, said Muslim travellers from Malaysia and Brunei are keen to learn about Malay history and heritage in Singapore, which is easily accessible by visiting Kampong Glam and the Malay Heritage Centre, as well as the Peranakan Museum on Armenian Street.

Abdul Maalik Tailor, CEO of Halal Tourism Britain, which specialises in halal travel and Muslim heritage of Britain, shared that Muslim visitors to the UK show interest in learning more about Muslim culture and visiting Muslim heritage sites outside of London. He added that some Muslim visitors would combine visiting the UK and France into one trip, with the focus on trips to Muslim heritage sites.

Despite the renewed interest, the panellists agree that the basics of Muslim travel, such as prayer facilities and the ease of access to halal and Muslim-friendly food, are still paramount in attracting the Muslim traveller.

Source: ttgasia.com

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https://www.ttgasia.com/2023/06/01/muslim-travel-interest-on-the-rise-again/

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NGO shares new Muslim's struggle to regain custody of daughter

FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2023

Editor's note: The real names of the former couple engaged in the custody battle cannot be revealed due to legal reasons.

No distance is too far for NANH, an Orang Asli woman who converted to Islam, to regain custody of her daughter from her non-Muslim former husband.

The 35-year-old has to travel more than 300km from her home in Besut, Terengganu, to undergo the court proceedings in Kuantan, Pahang.

NANH was initially unrepresented as she had no resources to engage legal help until the YY Community Centre took note of her plight and offered to step in.

Besides engaging three lawyers to help NANH, the NGO also embarked on a fundraising campaign to fund her legal battle, said its founder YuseriYusoff.

Recently, a video clip of the nine-year-old girl in tears as she was reluctant to be separated from NANH went viral on social media. The girl cannot be named as she is underage.

This came after the Kuantan High Court issued a habeas corpus order for the girl to be handed to RM, the girl's non-Muslim father, on May 25.

NANH and RM, both from the Orang Asli community in Rompin, got divorced in 2018. Following their split, NANH lodged a police report alleging that her ex-husband neglected their daughter. The case is still under investigation.

NANH embraced Islam after the divorce and married a Muslim man. Despite her "new life", NANH's battle for her daughter is ongoing.

Funds for lawyers

According to Yuseri (above), just five days after its launch, the funds to help NANH have totalled RM73,830, upon which it was stopped.

"The collected monies have been channelled to the lawyers representing NANH, and it is expected to be enough to fund the case proceedings up until the higher court levels."

Yuseri expressed concern that the girl may not be brought up according to the Islamic way of life and lamented that the welfare of a mualaf (a person who has just converted to Islam) is not taken care of.

"When the Orang Asli convert to Islam, the religious authorities do not look after their welfare.

"NANH had even previously approached many NGOs but she was turned away, saying that they had no allocations," he said.

Help started flooding in after the video of the distraught mother-daughter interaction went viral on social media, he added. – Mkini

Source: malaysiakini.com

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https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/667205

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