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Islamic World News ( 14 Apr 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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‘We’ve Wasted Time Fighting Wrong Battles,’ Muslim Group Calls on Christians To Unite Against COVID-19, Others

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Apr 2020

Torched: Aftermath of an Islamist attack last August on the village of Aldeia da Paz / © AFP


• ‘We’ve Wasted Time Fighting Wrong Battles,’ Muslim Group Calls on Christians To Unite Against COVID-19, Others

• Extremists in Northern Mozambique Declare Goal of Caliphate

• Selfless Volunteers From 18 Different Muslim Organisations Come Together to Feed Australia's Healthcare Heroes for Free

• 'Allahu Akbar!' BBC Broadcasts Islamic Call to Prayer for the First Time

• Saudi Arabia Races to Contain Epidemic in Islam’s Holiest City

• Islamic Religious Council of Singapore Launches New Guidebook for Muslims To Usher in Ramadan Amid Covid-19

• Rajasthan: Muslim Neighbours Perform Last Rites of Hindu Man During Lockdown

• Jews In the Muslim World Celebrated Passover In Seclusion

• Taliban Set to Release 20 Afghan Government Prisoners



• ‘We’ve Wasted Time Fighting Wrong Battles,’ Muslim Group Calls on Christians To Unite Against COVID-19, Others

• Extremists in Northern Mozambique Declare Goal of Caliphate

• Muslim Charity Organization Merhamet donated Aid Packages to Christians for Easter

• No washing of bodies before burial, Muslim scholars rule

• Easter: Islamic group advises Nigerian Christians, reveals common enemies

• How Boko Haram attacked travellers, killed eight, kidnapped others – Residents



• Selfless Volunteers From 18 Different Muslim Organisations Come Together to Feed Australia's Healthcare Heroes for Free

• UK Muslims Are Stepping In To Help Amid The Coronavirus Crisis

• Coronavirus 10 Times Deadlier Than Swine Flu: WHO

• Mosque In Scotland Sends Out Meals For People In Need Amid COVID-19 Crisis

• Anger as right-wing UK voices 'predict' Ramadan virus spread

• Spain loosens #Coronavirus lockdown, death toll passes 17,000 but pace slows

• Thieves steal safe containing cash donations from mosque

• Deaths in England and Wales hit 16,387 in a week with coronavirus involved in 21 per cent

• Coronavirus: Raab says 'plan is working' but UK lockdown 'to be extended for another three weeks'


North America

• 'Allahu Akbar!' BBC Broadcasts Islamic Call to Prayer for the First Time

• CAIR Calls on Iowa, National GOP to Repudiate Candidate’s Call to Eliminate Islam from U.S.


Arab world

• Saudi Arabia Races to Contain Epidemic in Islam’s Holiest City

• Coronavirus bulletin: Some Dubai stores to reopen ahead of Ramadan; UAE announces 398 new cases; Expired UAE visas valid until end-2020

• Coronavirus: Dubai allows some food outlets to open before Ramadan


Southeast Asia

• Islamic Religious Council of Singapore Launches New Guidebook for Muslims To Usher in Ramadan Amid Covid-19

• FT mosques, suraus providing aid to non-Muslims as well, says Jawi director

• Sara: City gov’t to distribute Ramadan grocery food packs

• Covid-19: 170 new cases take total to 4,987, 5 deaths

• Masjid India area placed under enhanced MCO



• Rajasthan: Muslim Neighbours Perform Last Rites of Hindu Man During Lockdown

• Covid-19: Muslim Vendors Stopped from Selling Vegetables In UP, Accused of Being Tablighi Members

• Alt News video verification: Muslim vegetable vendor assaulted in Badarpur, Delhi

• In Baisakhi speech, Akal Takht Jathedar says some blaming Sikhs, Muslims for spread of COVID-19

• JNU research scholar accuses Manipur of harassing Pangal Muslims in newspaper article, state government responds with author's arrest

• Islamic Sect Chief's Quarantine Ends, To Join Probe Linked To COVID-19

• COVID-19: BJP MLA demands Army for Nagpur’s Muslim-dominated area

• Watch: Muslim gujjar dairy farmer says milk cooperative in Punjab is refusing to buy his products

• Uttarakhand govt imposes curfew after residents resist attempt to quarantine imam



• Jews In the Muslim World Celebrated Passover In Seclusion

• Ayatollah Modarresi: Iraqis To Defeat Coronavirus Through Faith

• Israeli political impasse: Gantz-Netanyahu miss coalition govt. deadline

• Hamas dismisses as ‘untrue’ reports of prisoner swap deal with Israel

• Coronavirus fear adds to already poor economy in Gaza, committee warns

• US imperialism more dangerous than coronavirus for international community: Iran president

• Why sanctions on Iran must end


South Asia

• Taliban Set to Release 20 Afghan Government Prisoners

• 29 Taliban militants killed, wounded in separate incidents in Badghis province

• Seven more coronavirus patients die, 209 test positive in 24hrs: DGHS



• Govt. To Ensure Uniform Guidelines During Holy Month of Ramadan: Minister for Interior

• Teleschool goes on air today to compensate for academic loss

• Association warns of health sector collapse as medical professionals contract Covid-19

• Murad urges centre to ban export of food items to avoid shortages

• Section 144 extended for two months across Punjab

• Kamal urges PPP, PTI govts to unify in fight against coronavirus

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



‘We’ve Wasted Time Fighting Wrong Battles,’ Muslim Group Calls On Christians To Unite Against COVID-19, Others

April 13, 2020

By Ripples Nigeria

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Monday said that Christians and Muslims may have chosen the wrong targets as enemies. It, therefore, urged Christians in Nigeria to forge a common front with their Muslim compatriots in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 disease which has spread across the country.

Professor Ishaq Akintola, Director and Founder of MURIC in the group’s Easter message on Monday said that such a union will also be effective in the fight against insecurity, illiteracy, ethnic bigotry and religious extremism which are the common enemies of humanity.

“Can we now see clearly that we have been insulating ourselves against the wrong targets? The streets of the Vatican are empty, those of Makkah and Madinah are deserted,” he said.

His statement read as follows; “We felicitate with Nigerian Christians on the occasion of the Easter season. We urge the body of Christ in Nigeria to recall the lessons of forbearance, tolerance and love which are embedded in Easter.

“Today’s events are particularly didactic as the whole of mankind faces a common enemy, viz, COVID-19. All the scientists of the world have not been able to come up with a solution to stop the massive deaths. It has defied our atomic and nuclear weapons, killing us in our thousands on a daily basis.

“This common enemy has shown that it does not discriminate between religions. Muslims have been forced to desert the mosques on Friday. The Ka’abah has been locked up for weeks. Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) was suspended.

“Like the sword of Damocles, the fear of this same Coronavirus hangs above hajj 2020. Muslims may not congregate as usual during this fast-approaching Ramadan.

“For the first time in a very long period, Christians marked Easter without procession. Palm Sunday was streamed live and people had to watch and listen from their homes. Sunday services in church have been without the faithful for weeks.

“COVID-19 reigns supreme. Can we all see now? Diseases are our enemy, not the Christians or the Muslims. Ignorance, criminals, ethnic jingoists and religious fanatics are our common foes. These are the enemies we must fight, not one another.

“MURIC charges Nigerians of different religious leanings to eschew bitterness and rancour. We urge religious leaders to sink their differences.

“We must come together willy-nilly in recognition of the fact that we need one another to face our common enemies, namely, disease, insecurity, illiteracy, ethnic bigotry and religious extremism.

“Before we take a break, we call attention to the way forward. We must investigate genuine complaints of marginalization, stigmatization, oppression and persecution with every sincerity.

“Thereafter, we must redress all wrongs and resolve to deal justly among ourselves, to love, to tolerate and to forgive ourselves. Only thus can we jointly find the means to fight and defeat our real enemies.


Extremists in northern Mozambique declare goal of caliphate


A shadowy Islamist group that has terrorised northern Mozambique for more than two years has suddenly become more brazen, unmasking its fighters and openly declaring its goal of turning the gas-rich region into a caliphate.

In recent weeks, the jihadists have seized government buildings, robbed banks, blocked roads and hoisted their black-and-white flag over towns and villages across Cabo Delgado province.

"We want everyone here to apply Islamic law," a Kalashnikov-wielding group member told terrified residents in a video that appeared to have been shot in Mocimboa da Praia after a recent attack.

"We don't want a government from unbelievers, we want a government from Allah," the group member added, speaking in the local Kimwani language to residents rounded up for a rally.

For more than two years the jihadists mainly targeted isolated villages, killing more than 700 people, according to the French aid group MSF, and displacing at least 200,000, according to a local Catholic archbishop, Dom Luiz Fernando.

Last month the group grew bolder and ventured back into Mocimboa da Paia, bursting into the town before sunrise to ransack government and military institutions.

Locally they are known as Al-Shabaab, although they have no known links to the ruthless jihadist group of that name operating in Somalia.

Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), affiliated with the Islamic State group, has claimed the Mocimboa attack, as it has in a few previous attacks since last year.

"From the images and from what the insurgents said, we know that these men are from the town of Mocimboa da Praia and that they belong to the group that made the first insurgents attack in October 2017," said African history expert Eric Morier-Genoud, a senior lecturer at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Thousands of people have escaped to the port city of Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado, seeking refuge among friends and relatives.

The latest spate of attacks prompted the government to hire a private South African military company that has sent helicopters to help stem the insurgency, according to several local sources and a security expert.

"It might (work) in the short term," she told AFP. But "you cannot solve the history of neglect in Cabo Delgado by means of a military operation."

One chopper reportedly made an emergency landing on Friday after being hit by a round, according to various sources, although AFP was unable to independently confirm the information.

Mozambican political expert Adriano Nuvunga blames the security failure on the military's long-standing distrust of politicians.

The attackers "may be our cousins in the army," said Nuvunga, who teaches at Eduardo Mondlane University in the capital Maputo.

"And the way they don't attack civilians lately (suggests) that it is a war for natural mineral resources that are in the province," he added.

This abundance of natural wealth in one of the country's poorest provinces makes it a tinderbox of potential conflict over resources.

French company Total owns a $25 billion (22.91-billion-euro) stake in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Palma around 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Mocimboa da Praia.

"(The) insurgents attack roads and have attacked the strategic town of Mocimboa da Praia with its airport and port," said Morier-Genoud.

"LNG (corporations) will soon also need to contract thousands of workers and these individuals risk becoming targets," he warned


Selfless volunteers from 18 different Muslim organisations come together to feed Australia's healthcare heroes for free

14 April 2020

Selfless volunteers from 18 different Muslim organisations have been working tirelessly to feed health workers leading the battle against coronavirus.

Groups such as Project Quran recently donated dozens of warm meals to healthcare workers at Canterbury Hospital in south-west Sydney.

The group plans to drop off meals to various hospitals every night during the holy month of Ramadan to take away some of the stress on the frontline heroes.

Project Quran and 17 other organisations are now creating food hampers to drop off to the elderly, vulnerable and those in isolation across Australia, with some teams delivering up to 90 packages in one day.

'We got a lot of great feedback on social media from nurses who received the food and then reached out to us,' Mr Elmir told Daily Mail Australia.

The next phase is delivering food to various hospitals across NSW for every night of Ramadan, which runs from April 23 to May 23.

One of the other groups helping those in need is the Muslim Aid Australia which have been making and delivering food hampers across the country.

The organisation uses donations from its own volunteers as well as the public to create food packages to be delivered to the doorstep of struggling Australians.

'We've done distributions for elderly people who can't go out, families who have children that are high risk, families that have lost their jobs and international students,' Mr Ally told Daily Mail Australia.

Mr Ally said for some international students who were left jobless and were struggling to stay afloat, volunteers from Muslim Aid Australia would help cover some of their bills.

'The communities have come together really well. We put out a list of things we take for granted like flour, pasta, rice, toilet paper,' Mr Ally said.

'(Those receiving the hampers) are just overwhelmed by the support they are receiving, they've been very appreciative. This whole program is about helping one another,' he said.

'We're going to keep going as long as we can. The community has been very good so far and we hope to continue.


'Allahu Akbar!' BBC Broadcasts Islamic Call to Prayer for the First Time

Apr 14, 2020

Global Village Space reported Wednesday that “in a first, BBC begins the broadcast of Muslim prayers on its network as mosques shut down across Britain, part of the extensive measures against coronavirus.” In today’s Britain, it is extraordinarily unlikely that the BBC will stop broadcasting the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, once the coronavirus pandemic is over. A cultural line has been crossed. And the implications of this, beyond the expected hosannas from the usual proponents of globalism and multiculturalism, are ominous.

According to Global Village Space, “different imams lead the 5:50 am broadcasts every week on Friday from 14 local radio stations of BBC. The imam recites verses from the Holy Quran and quotes of Holy Prophet before delivering the sermon and leading the listeners in prayers. The program is titled, ‘Islamic Reflections’. The arrangements have been made to facilitate the Muslim community to the run-up to the month of Ramadan till the end of April.”

The BBC is no doubt thrilled to do this, as it demonstrates how “inclusive” the mega- network is, and how welcoming British society is. Chris Burns, the head of BBC Local Radio, was dead chuffed, saying: “Local radio is all about connecting communities, and we hope these weekly reflections will go some way to helping Muslims feel a sense of community while they are isolating.”

BBC CWR presenter Phil Upton added: “Ramadan is just a few weeks away and I appreciate that for many that’s a big void to fill with as many as one and a half hours of your day, especially in the evening, in Ramadan month, spent in your local mosque. With many local mosques being closed because of the coronavirus outbreak there’s an overwhelming sadness with the loss of your spiritual connection that can be gained from congregational prayers, so we are trying to fill the void in some small way with Islamic reflections.”

Well, that’s wonderful, but when the BBC broadcasts the Islamic call to prayer, what exactly is it broadcasting? The adhan, prayed in Arabic, goes like this:

Dr. Gavin Ashenden, former Chaplain to the British Queen, who resigned his position in protest against a Qur’an reading in a Scottish church, observed that “the Muslim call to prayer is a dramatic piece of Islamic triumphalism. It proclaims Islam’s superiority over all other religions, and in so doing casts Jesus in the role of a charlatan and a liar. The Muslim god, Allah, is unknowable and has no son. Jesus was, therefore, a fraud in claiming He and the Father are one.”

Is the BBC, the government-funded broadcasting agency of an ostensibly Christian land, really wise to broadcast a declaration of the superiority of another faith, one that directs its adherents to make war against Christians and subjugate them as inferiors under the hegemony of believers (cf. Qur’an 9:29)?

Is the BBC wise to broadcast the cry “Allahu akbar,” beloved of jihad terrorists the world over? Chief 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta wrote this in his letter to himself before carrying out his jihad mission: “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.” This is why the Fort Hood jihad killer, Nidal Malik Hasan, shouted it as he shot thirteen Americans in November 2009, and why so many other jihadis have used it essentially as an announcement that non-Muslims are about to die.

But in Britain today, any such concerns will be dismissed out of hand as “Islamophobic.” BBC officials, and the British government, are no doubt certain that Muslim communities in the country will be grateful that the BBC is broadcasting Islamic prayers, and will redouble their efforts to become loyal, productive British citizens, marching together with non-Muslims in Britain into the glorious multicultural future. That’s the way it will work out. Isn’t it? No Muslims will take seriously the adhan’s declarations of Islamic superiority and heed the Qur’an’s calls to wage war against unbelievers. Will they? In multiculti Britain today, such an idea is inconceivable!


Saudi Arabia Races To Contain Epidemic In Islam’s Holiest City

3h ago

Vivian Nereim

Saudi authorities are racing to contain an outbreak of coronavirus in the Islamic holy city of Mecca, where crowded slums and labor camps have accelerated the spread even with much of the country under a 24-hour curfew.

The total number of coronavirus cases reported in Mecca, home to 2 million people, reached 1,050 on Monday compared to 1,422 in the capital of Riyadh, a city more than three times the size. Mecca’s large number of undocumented immigrants and cramped housing for migrant workers have made it more difficult to slow the infection rate.

In late March, after five Mecca-based employees of Saudi Binladin Group, one of the kingdom’s biggest construction companies tested positive, authorities locked down housing for 8,000 laborers and suspended work on the expansion of the grand mosque, Islam’s holiest site, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. Some workers were placed in hotel quarantine, the document showed. The company did not respond to a request for comment. It was unclear if the camp remained in lockdown.

Shielding Mecca from a pandemic that’s overwhelmed countries like Italy and the United States is crucial for Saudi Arabia. That’s partly because of the city’s significance to the world’s Muslims, but also because the royal family grounds its rule in guardianship of the birthplace of Islam. Millions of Muslim pilgrims visit Mecca each year; King Salman’s official title is “custodian of the two holy mosques.”

The government is conscious that the virus sweeping Mecca would “call into question its responsibility in the protection of those spaces, which is part of the legitimacy of the country itself,” said Yasmine Farouk, a visiting fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “This is sensitive.”

Overall, Saudi Arabia has reported one of the lowest rates of infection in the region, with around 5,000 cases in a population of over 30 million. Mecca was one of the first Saudi cities to be placed under a full-day curfew, and authorities took unprecedented precautions, suspending religious tourism in February and closing mosques across the country in March.

The outbreak underlines a nationwide issue of soaring cases among foreign residents. Foreigners make up about a third of the Saudi population but account for 70% to 80% of new cases recently, according to the health ministry -- a rate that’s sparked debate about their role in society.

Some Saudis have attacked foreigners, accusing them of price-gouging, fear-mongering and deliberately spreading infection. Others say that the solution lies in better living conditions for the blue collar foreigners who underpin daily life, driving garbage trucks and cleaning streets. Saudi novelist Mohammed Alwan recently wrote on Twitter that he hopes authorities will create “humane requirements for workers’ housing” after the pandemic.

Health minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah acknowledged the problem in a televised address on Monday, saying a government committee had been formed to deal with the issue.

The government has also promised free coronavirus treatment for foreign residents, including undocumented immigrants.


Islamic Religious Council of Singapore Launches New Guidebook for Muslims To Usher in Ramadan Amid Covid-19


Hariz Baharudin

SINGAPORE - A guidebook for the holy month of Ramadan has been launched for Muslims here on how they can perform special prayers and practise their faith while doing their part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The book, which was launched by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) on Tuesday (April 14), was produced in response to the disruptions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of measures to curb the spread of the virus,all places of worship are closed till May 4 and social gatherings disallowed.

This period partly coincides with the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which begins on April 24 and ends on Hari Raya Puasa on May 24.

In a post on its Facebook page on Tuesday, Muis said the book, titled Contemporary Irsyad Series Vol 2, will address commonly asked religious queries the community has raised.

It also features a guide as to how Muslims can perform terawih prayers at home. These are special prayers performed only during Ramadan and usually done in large groups at mosques.

The guidebook is now available in Malay on Muis' website and an English version will be released "in a few days", said Muis.

In a separate release, a Muis spokesman said: "The handbook will emphasise the role of Singaporean Muslims as citizens in practising social responsibility to curb the transmission of Covid-19.

"It will feature several religious advisories that have been issued during this outbreak. Other related religious queries that have been put forth by members of the public will also be addressed."

As part of Singapore's "circuit breaker" measures to curb the spread of the virus, people are not allowed to gather in groups and should stay at home as much as possible.

Muis said that the holy month can be observed by ways such as focusing on core duties of fasting, doing e-learning classes with religious teachers, and helping the needy with zakat, or giving alms.

On Monday, the council had launched a new centralised donation portal called OurMasjid.SG, aimed at making it easier for Muslims here to donate funds to mosques.

Mosques here rely mainly on donations from congregants for their operations and this has not been possible because of the closure.

Separately on Tuesday, the People's Association (PA) said the annual launch of its Hari Raya Light-Up in Geylang Serai would be postponed, due to the ongoing circuit breaker measures.

In the past, the light-up of colourful decorations and festive lighting along Geylang Road and Sims Avenue during Ramadan began a few days before the start of the fasting month.

"This year, in light of the circuit breaker to curb the spread of Covid-19, the People's Association has decided to postpone the launch of the Hari Raya Light-Up 2020, so as to align to the nationwide effort to encourage everyone to stay home and be safe," said a PA spokesman.

It was reported last month that the popular annual Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar, organised by PA, will not be returning this year.

PA has also cancelled other Hari Raya festive bazaars it usually organises around the island.


Rajasthan: Muslim neighbours perform last rites of Hindu man during lockdown

Dev Ankur Wadhawan

April 13, 2020

The novel coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges in everyone's life, but it has also given a chance for people to stand up and help others.

When a Hindu man passed away due to cancer in Rajasthan's Jaipur, his Muslim neighbours stepped and cremated him with full Hindu rituals.

The man, Rajendra, had been living in Bajrang Nagar Bhatta Basti area of Jaipur. He had been afflicted with cancer for which he was getting treated at a government hospital in Jaipur. Rajendra passed away on Monday.

But the cremation became a challenge as he had no male members in his immediate family and none of his relatives could travel to Jaipur for last rites due to lockdown. The neighbourhood also has no Hindus.

However, Muslims living in the locality came forward to carry out the last rites and rituals. They prepared his body as per norms and carried it to the cremation grounds and performed the rituals.


Jews in the Muslim world celebrated Passover in seclusion


Weeks without kosher slaughter left the community without meat for the holiday as members celebrated Passover in seclusion in their homes.

Iran is not under any curfew, but the Jewish community has imposed one on its members. The chief Rabbi decided as early as the Purim festival, that all Iranian Jews must avoid danger and stay away from synagogues. All 60 of them around the country remain closed since. The Book of Esther was read online, and 4,000 people joined the feed.

Members of the community say they are not experiencing any anti-Semitism and the authorities are respectful of their faith.

In Mosul in northern Iraq, a Jewish family celebrated Passover for the first time. They just recently returned to their Jewish roots after living among Muslims, their entire lives and were never before told by their families that they were Jewish.

Last year they happened on a video clip disseminated by  Achim, a Jewish organization hoping to reach Jews living in the Arab world who were born to Jewish mothers and Muslim fathers and therefore considered Jewish according to religious law. They were even supplied Mazo for the Seder meal.

The organization said they had names of thousands of Jews given by their relatives who had reached Israel over the years.

Some have already responded to the call and are maintaining contact with the organization.


Taliban set to release 20 Afghan government prisoners

April 13, 2020

The Taliban is set to release 20 Afghan government prisoners in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar - the first handover by the armed group since the beginning of a peace process.

"Today, 20 prisoners of the Kabul administration will be released," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter, adding that the group would be handed over to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The announcement follows a string of releases of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government and came after the head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan met Taliban leaders to discuss a reduction in violence in the war-weary country.

Since Wednesday, the Afghan government has released 300 Taliban prisoners as part of an agreement signed between the US and the Afghan armed group aimed at ending the 18-year-long war.

The swap deal was part of the agreement signed on February 29 that promised the gradual withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the armed group.

The deal requires the Afghan government - which was not a signatory to the accord - to free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and for the armed group to release 1,000 pro-government captives in return.



Muslim Charity Organization Merhamet donated Aid Packages to Christians for Easter

APRIL 13, 2020

The Muslim charity organization “Merhamet” has distributed 300 food packages to socially disadvantaged families in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Travnik, Mostar, Maglaj and Gorazde on Catholic Easter, the organization stated in the press release. Like every year, the packages were provided by Merhamet Germany.

The “Merhamet” Regional Board of Sarajevo distributed goods to, among others, Catholic families in the Parish of St. Leopold Mandic in the settlement of Brijesce. Pastor Joseph Weidner, who was given packages for Catholic families, thanked for the kind gesture and stressed that Merhamet had confirmed that he was helping everyone who needed help, regardless of religion and nation.

“Thanks to the goodness of Merhamet, today we will rejoice in the families in our parish community who are in dire need,” Weidner said.The director of the Merhamet Sarajevo Regional Board, Munib Bujak, expressed his pleasure that Merhamet rejoiced the fellow Catholics on their biggest holiday.

On the occasion of Easter, the packages of Merhamet’s regional committees in Tuzla, Travnik, Mostar Maglaj and Gorazde also distributed packages to the socially disadvantaged fellow Catholics.


No washing of bodies before burial, Muslim scholars rule

13th Apr 2020

Muslim scholars have now proclaimed that bodies of faithful will be buried without performing traditional rite of washing in the wake of the contagious Covid-19.

They issued new guidelines on the funeral rite, known as Ghusl, which now makes it permissible to bury a body without washing it with water and shrouding it or performing the alternative ritual of Tayammum, where purified sand or dust is used instead.

Already, Muslims have ceased performance of congregational prayers in mosques to stem spread of the virus.

Muslim scholars and leaders said the new proclamation was in compliance with government directives on burials.

The committee, which was formed to guide Muslims on various issues, comprises religious scholars, elders (sheikhs), imams and Muslim medical practitioners.

Chairman for Muslim Covid 19 Committee Rishad Ramadhan said corpses will be put in body bags and taken for prayers before burial.

“We have been in consultation with the Ministry of Health and reached an agreement that due to the seriousness of the disease and how contagious it is, we cannot wash our dead, shroud or perform Tayammum where we apply soil or sand in the absence of water,” said Ramadhan.

He said washing of the dead poses a health risk to those performing the Ghusl or Tayammum.

“Our religion provides us with an avenue where certain rights and obligatory objectives cannot be performed when they pose imminent danger,” said Ramadhan.

The leaders said they have already begun training locals and youths on how they will handle and bury bodies of Covid-19 causalities.

Ramadhan said they require additional funds to buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for people who will be burying Covid-19 casualties.

Dr Jalal Ashraf, a member of the Kenya Association of Muslim Professionals in Mombasa, said the new directive is a big challenge for Muslims.

The doctor said they are currently focusing on training volunteers on how to handle the dead in the community following the Covid-19 threat.

Chief Khadi Sharif al Muhdhar urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to allocate extra funds to help Muslims buy PPEs to ensure the dead are buried without any hitch in case the numbers surge.

Sheikh Muhdhar also urged all Muslims to contribute towards the just cause and help the community to be prepared.

“We are appealing to all Muslims and Kenyans to contribute towards this worthy project,” said Muhdhar.

He said those willing can contribute through an account in Gulf Bank that will be managed by the Ministry of Health.

He said the PPEs are expensive and each body would be buried by four people who must be well protected.

Abdul Hamza, who is a member of the community, called on the well-to-do to help the less fortunate affected by coronavirus.


Easter: Islamic group advises Nigerian Christians, reveals common enemies

April 13, 2020

By John Owen Nwachukwu

As Christians all over the world celebrate Easter, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has urged Nigerian Christians to forge a common front with their Muslim compatriots in the fight against disease, insecurity, illiteracy, ethnic bigotry and religious extremism which are the common enemies of humanity.

This was stated by Professor Ishaq Akintola, Director and Founder of MURIC in the group’s Easter message made available to DAILY POST on Monday.

“We felicitate with Nigerian Christians on the occasion of the Easter season. We urge the body of Christ in Nigeria to recall the lessons of forbearance, tolerance and love which are embedded in Easter.

“Today’s events are particularly didactic as the whole of mankind faces a common enemy, viz, COVID-19. All the scientists of the world have not been able to come up with a solution to stop the massive deaths. It has defied our atomic and nuclear weapons, killing us in our thousands on a daily basis.

“This common enemy has shown that it does not discriminate between religions. Muslims have been forced to desert the mosques on Friday. The Ka’abah has been locked up for weeks. Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) was suspended.

“Like the sword of Damocles, the fear of this same Coronavirus hangs above hajj 2020. Muslims may not congregate as usual during this fast-approaching Ramadan.

“For the first time in a very long period, Christians marked Easter without procession. Palm Sunday was streamed live and people had to watch and listen from their homes. Sunday services in church have been without the faithful for weeks.

“Can we now see clearly that we have been insulating ourselves against the wrong targets? The streets of the Vatican are empty, those of Makkah and Madinah are deserted.

“COVID-19 reigns supreme. Can we all see now? Diseases are our enemy, not the Christians or the Muslims. Ignorance, criminals, ethnic jingoists and religious fanatics are our common foes. These are the enemies we must fight, not one another.

“MURIC charges Nigerians of different religious leanings to eschew bitterness and rancour. We urge religious leaders to sink their differences.

“We must come together willy-nilly in recognition of the fact that we need one another to face our common enemies, namely, disease, insecurity, illiteracy, ethnic bigotry and religious extremism.

“Before we take a break, we call attention to the way forward. We must investigate genuine complaints of marginalization, stigmatization, oppression and persecution with every sincerity.

“Thereafter, we must redress all wrongs and resolve to deal justly among ourselves, to love, to tolerate and to forgive ourselves. Only thus can we jointly find the means to fight and defeat our real enemies.

“COVID-19 is winning because the house built by homo sapiens is divided against itself. Let’s unite against our common enemies.”


How Boko Haram attacked travellers, killed eight, kidnapped others – Residents

April 14, 2020

Abdulkareem Haruna

Some residents who live in Auno, a village near the spot where Boko Haram gunmen attacked and killed at least seven passengers on Sunday night, have revealed how the incident led to the loss of more lives than earlier reported.

“It was at a tiny hamlet called Yana-Yakiri, which is not far from the cattle route through which the Boko Haram insurgents normally drive out to carry out attacks,” he said. “The military had relaxed the curfew along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway till 10 p.m., ” he explained.

He said the vehicles that were involved in the attack “were ambushed from both sides of the road at Yana-Yakari which just a stone throw distance from Auno village”.

“The driver of the first vehicle refused to stop when he saw them, so they opened fire and the impact of the shooting ignited a fire on the vehicle.

“The driver and other vehicles coming from behind were forced to stop and the gunmen ordered everyone to alight amidst shootings.

“Two persons were instantly shot dead while about 13 others were dragged into the bush in two different vehicles. We later got to learn that one of the vehicles broke down in the bush and the insurgents had to shoot the passengers at a spot about 2km away,” Mr Bunu said.

Corroborating Mr Bunu’s account, another Auno resident, Modu Gana, said residents later traced the path of the insurgents in the morning to recover six corpses of those killed.



UK Muslims are stepping in to help amid the coronavirus crisis

by Tasnim Nazeer

20 hours ago

London, United Kingdom - From producing protective gear for health workers and donating food to vulnerable communities, to helping families pay for funeral costs and even setting up temporary morgues, Muslims in the United Kingdom are stepping up efforts to support those in need during the coronavirus crisis.

As a national conversation turns to a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for NHS staff, with a rising number of doctors and nurses succumbing to the COVID-19 disease, the Green Lane Mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, is involved in a project launched by Loft 25, a furniture and garden brand, by providing 350 volunteers who have been producing PPE.

At the mosque itself, an additional cold storage facility able to house up to 36 bodies has been set up as other facilities struggle to accommodate victims waiting to be buried.

Kamran Hussain, head of the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre, told Al Jazeera: "We get direct contact from families to pick up loved ones from the morgue and arrange for burial services. In line with protective measures and health policies, we have agreed with the imams to not wash the bodies of the dead, due to the safety of the volunteers and their families."

On the advice from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, " We decided that there would be significant risk if volunteers wash the body, and we would not put our volunteers or staff in any risk," Hussain said.

"The Muslim Community are really stepping up their efforts to support with the pandemic and will continue to do so in times of need," said Hussain.

Meanwhile, Muslim Hands, a UK-based charity, has set up appeals to deliver thousands of free meals and launch a multilingual hotline for elderly people who are self-isolating.

During the early stages of the epidemic, for instance, Asiyah Javed and her husband Jawad, a Scottish Muslim couple, donated hand sanitiser to elderly customers at their grocery shop. They also delivered hundreds of packages to vulnerable people at home.

British Muslims have also rushed to support families who have lost loved ones amid the crisis, often setting up crowdfunding pages to help pay for funeral costs or raise money for charities in the name of the victim.

After 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed recently died in a London hospital, Muslims contributed to a fund that has now raised 71,600 pounds ($89,400) - well over an original target of 4,000 pounds ($5,000) to pay for the burial.

"In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen incredible work in Muslim communities, from repurposing mosques to create facilities to alleviate pressure on the NHS to grassroots initiatives supporting those who are vulnerable and in need," a spokesperson from the Muslim Council of Britain told Al Jazeera.

"It is great to see so many Muslim communities playing their part in the national effort to combat COVID-19 and support one another."


Coronavirus 10 times deadlier than swine flu: WHO

April 14, 2020

The novel coronavirus is 10 times deadlier than swine flu, which caused a global pandemic in 2009, the World Health Organization said on Monday, stressing a vaccine would be necessary to fully halt transmission.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from Geneva that the organisation was constantly learning about the new virus sweeping the globe, which has now killed nearly 115,000 people and infected over 1.8 million.

WHO says 18,500 people died of "swine flu", or H1N1, which was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in March 2009, but the Lancet medical estimated the toll to be between 151,700 and 575,400.

The outbreak, which was declared a pandemic in June 2009 and considered over by August 2010, turned out to be not as deadly as first feared.

Vaccines were rushed out, but in hindsight, the West, particularly Europe, and the WHO were criticised for overreacting at a time when annual influenza epidemics every year killed between 250,000 and 500,000 people, according to WHO.

Tedros lamented Monday that some countries are seeing a doubling of cases every three to four days, but stressed that if countries were committed to "early case-finding, testing, isolating (and) caring for every case and tracing every contact" they could rein in the virus.

More than half of the planet's population is currently staying home as part of efforts to stem the spread of the virus, but Tedros warned that "our global connectedness means the risk of re-introduction and resurgence of the disease will continue".

"In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up," he said, stressing that "control measures must be lifted slowly, and with control. It cannot happen all at once."


Mosque in Scotland sends out meals for people in need amid COVID-19 crisis

April 13, 2020

The initiative was instigated by the city’s mosque whose members gave money and ingredients for the meals which were cooked by a team led by Tamjeed Miah, owner of the Wee Delhi takeaway in Milton of Leys.

As with other places of worship the mosque, in the city’s Portland Place, is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, something Dr Khan said was difficult for many of the region’s Muslims.

Up to 200 worshippers from across the Highlands gather there for Friday prayers during normal times, and it is also used up to five times a day for prayers and other gatherings.

“The main problem is we are a small community and the mosque is quite a major hub,” he said. “In history, we have never known the mosque close to people.”

“It is a difficult time for businesses, for people’s livelihoods, for congregations to worship, but we are providing support through the network we have,” Dr Khan said.


Anger as right-wing UK voices 'predict' Ramadan virus spread

by Aina Khan

13 hours ago

London, United Kingdom - Concerns have been raised that right-wing voices in the United Kingdom could fuel Islamophobia, after a commentator predicted a "spike" in coronavirus cases during Ramadan.

Andrew Pierce, a journalist for the Daily Mail tabloid, tweeted on Sunday: "If families gather for holy month of Ramadan there will be a huge spike in Covid cases. Doctors are very worried."

His tweet was met with anger by academics, journalists and activists alike who accused him of making unsubstantiated claims.

An article published by The Times on the same day evoked similar sentiments, after it, too, suggested an increase in coronavirus cases due to a predicted increase in gatherings during Ramadan - despite social distancing regulations - leading with the headline, "Experts fear a spike in UK coronavirus cases during Ramadan".

Among those critical of this rhetoric was Miqdaad Versi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain. Speaking to Al Jazeera English, he said it was of paramount importance "to guard against far-right rhetoric" which scapegoated Muslims as a "threat to the rest of society".

"We've witnessed these through a number of false stories peddled from the start of the pandemic, such as all mosques being kept open, Muslims secretly congregating - and even that Muslims were going to gather together in the month of Ramadan, all against government guidance," said Versi.

Given that the first five doctors to die from coronavirus were from Muslim backgrounds, Versi added such narratives erased the sacrifice of those on the front lines.

"These stories are not only untrue and dangerous, but also undermine the mammoth work of Muslims in supporting the national effort, from working on the front line, with a number of Muslim medics having lost their lives, to setting up community initiatives to help those who are vulnerable.

"We can only urge mainstream commentators to avoid such an irresponsible and reckless framing, especially at a time when community solidarity is all the more important," he added.

Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim attacks, reported dozens of incidents in March, where far-right groups were supposedly spreading conspiracy theories blaming Muslims for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group have also had to debunk numerous social media posts spreading fake news. Among them was a tweet alleging some Muslims in Wembley, northwest London, were ignoring social distancing regulations by praying on the road.

Suriyah Bi is a lecturer at London's School of Oriental and African Studies, conducting research into how British Muslims prepare and cope with the coronavirus. Speaking of her findings, having so far surveyed 283 people, Bi told Al Jazeera:

"Blaming Muslims for the spread of the virus is absolutely unfounded, as our ongoing study demonstrates that 100 percent of British Muslims who have thus far taken part in the study are strongly adhering to social distancing measures and are not attending religious and social gatherings."

In 2018, the Royal College of Psychiatrists voiced concerns over the disproportionate and "significant, negative impact" of racism on "a person's life chances and mental health" in communities from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Citing the findings of the report, Bi voiced additional concerns over how scapegoating narratives could "pose a risk to public health" as such could exacerbate the "social-psychological impact" of a community already under strain.

"We know that the first 10 doctors who have died from the virus [in the UK] are BAME, and the population is known to be at greater risk of infection. We do not know if socio-psychological factors, including those brought on by Islamophobia and discrimination, increase risk levels.

"Indications from a cross-section of data from mental health, socioeconomic status and discrimination suggest there is a correlation. Thus, we must treat any scapegoating narratives as posing a risk to public health."


Spain loosens #Coronavirus lockdown, death toll passes 17,000 but pace slows

April 14, 2020

Spain’s cumulative death toll from the coronavirus rose to 17,489 on Monday, up 517 from 16,972 on Sunday, the Health Ministry said. Confirmed cases totalled 169,496, up from 166,019 the previous day.

With signs indicating the situation was taking a tentative turn for the better, some businesses, including construction and manufacturing, were allowed to reopen.

But most of the population were still confined to their homes, and shops, bars and public spaces will remain closed until at least April 26.

“The health of workers must be guaranteed. If this is minimally affected, the activity cannot restart,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told Cadena Ser radio station.

Lockdown restrictions have helped slow a spiralling death rate that reached its peak in early April, but they have tested the resolve of people cooped up inside their homes.

“You finally convince yourself that we are at home for a good cause,” said Benito Guerrero, 28-year-old communication consultant still locked at home in Madrid.

“I wouldn’t want to go back to work again until it is strictly necessary since that would put my health and others at risk.”

Only a few commuters came in and out of Madrid’s usually bustling Atocha train station on Monday morning. Road traffic was light too, with mainly public buses on the streets.

Carlos Mogorrón Flores, a 27-year-old civil engineer in Talarrubias, Extremadura, was planning to return to work today (14 April) after the holiday although he said that was still risky.

“I would have preferred to wait 15 more days confined to home or at least one more week and then come back. You are always afraid of catching it and even more so knowing that your life may be in danger, or your relatives,” he said.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday the decision to restart some sectors was taken after consulting a committee of experts. Any further winding down would depend on gains made against the virus, he said.

“We are still far from victory, from the moment when we can pick up our normal lives again, but we have made the first decisive steps in the path towards victory,” Sanchez said.

Elsewhere in Europe, deaths in Italy from the epidemic rose over the weekend to 19,468 and the number of new cases climbed to 4,694 from a previous 3,951. It was the highest daily death toll since April 6.

After easing from peaks around the end of March, Italy’s daily death and infection tallies have declined but are not falling steeply as was hoped by Italians who have been in lockdown for a month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson left hospital after several days in hospital with a serious case of the coronavirus In a statement thanking hospital staff, Johnson said “things could have gone either way” for him.

In Germany, senior politicians began debating a potential easing of restrictions imposed since mid-March. The number of new infections and deaths has declined in the country, which has weathered the pandemic better than neighbours Italy, Spain and France.

One company reopening, Burgos-based industrial group Nicolas Correa (NEA.MC), said it would take measures to prioritise the health of its staff.

“We will continue to work in shifts, with staggered entries and exits to avoid concentrations of staff,” it said, adding that all workers would be provided with protective equipment.

In Catalonia, Spain’s second-worst hit region, the government warned that the resumption of some work could lead to a rise in infections and wipe out the gains of the lockdown.

The regional government issued recommendations including measuring employees’ temperatures before entering the workplace and controls outside metro stations to guarantee a one-third occupancy rate.

“I think the confinement measures have been essential in flattening the curve of new infections and making me feel secure, and I consider myself very lucky to be able to continue my work from home,” said Emily Tewes, 31, an environmental consultant in Barcelona.

“I’m not considered an ‘essential worker,’ but if I was, I might feel a bit concerned about having to return to work and travel on public transport this week.”


Thieves steal safe containing cash donations from mosque

13th April,2020

By Daniel Hopkins

Thieves broke into the Noor Ul Islam Mosque in Yarwood Street before the building was opened for the call to prayer on Sunday afternoon.

Religious and community leaders said that the theft, which came just after worshippers had handed out chocolates to frontline workers in the borough, was "as an act of desecration."

Thieves broke into the building by smashing the side door, before stealing the cast-iron safe that contained cash donations from members of the congregation.

The break-in was discovered by the Muezzin, as the mosque is being used only for making the obligatory Azan (call to prayer) five times a day.

Shahbaz M. Arif, said: "I visited the scene soon after the robbery was discovered. As a member of the local Muslim community, I found the entire incident extremely upsetting.

"It is important we are all extra vigilant in these difficult times. The incident will be looked into and investigated by the authorities."

Cllr Tamoor Tariq said on Twitter: "A real shame that individuals have exploited the current lockdown situation with all places of worship being closed.

"This was a callous act carried out by sickened individuals who have exploited the current lockdown which has meant the full closure of all places of worship.

"I’m hoping like many others that those involved face the full force of the law, and are punished for the loss and damage they have brought to a place of worship but also the wider community.

"This is a reminder to us all to support one another and remain vigilant in these difficult times as clearly there are people out there ready to take advantage."

Before the weekend members of the congregation had teamed up with Bury North MP James Daly and the proprietor of a local firm, Ice Box, to hand out chocolates on Good Friday as a goodwill gesture.

Chocolates were delivered to Bury Ambulance Station, Bury Fire Station, Fairfield General Hospital, and several care organisations, such as Elizabeth House, Bluebird Care, and Gorsey Clough Care Home.

Mr Daly said then: "This crisis presents a huge challenge to all of us in Bury. The challenges posed by this pandemic cannot be met by a lone individual or a single organisation.

"We must all unite to help the weakest and most vulnerable in our community and continue to support our frontline workers in the NHS and all other public services."


Deaths in England and Wales hit 16,387 in a week with coronavirus involved in 21 per cent

14 April 2020

Registered deaths in England and Wales hit 16,387 in the week ending 3 April with coronavirus mentioned in 21 per cent of cases, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today.

“The 16,387 deaths that were registered in England and Wales during the week ending 3 April is the highest weekly total since we started compiling weekly deaths data in 2005,” Nick Stripe, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS said.

The number of deaths in England and Wales jumped by 5,246 compared to the previous week and stood at 6,082 more than the five-year average.

Coronavirus was mentioned in relation to 3,475 deaths (21.2 per cent), this compares with 539 (4.8 per cent) in the previous week.

In London, nearly half (46.6 per cent) of deaths registered mentioned covid-19; the West Midlands also had a high proportion of covid-19 deaths, accounting for 22.1 per cent of deaths registered.

“The latest comparable data for deaths involving covid-19 with a date of death up to 3 April, show there were 6,235 deaths in England and Wales.

“When looking at data for England, this is 15 per cent higher than the NHS numbers as they include all mentions of covid-19 on the death certificate, including suspected covid-19, as well as deaths in the community.


Coronavirus: Raab says 'plan is working' but UK lockdown 'to be extended for another three weeks'

Ross McGuinness

14 April 2020

The government is set to announce the UK will keep its coronavirus social distancing restrictions in place for three more weeks, it has been reported.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while he recovers from coronavirus, will make the announcement on Thursday, according to The Times.

The newspaper said Raab will tell the British public that the government’s restrictions will remain in place until at least 7 May.

According to the government, of those people hospitalised in the UK who have tested positive for coronavirus, 11,329 have died, but Raab insisted on Monday its plan “is working”.

Under the government’s “stay at home” restrictions, people are only allowed to go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if they cannot work from home). If people do go outside, they must stay two metres away from others.

During Monday’s daily government briefing, Raab said it was still unclear if the UK should have introduced its COVID-19 restrictions earlier, following continued criticism it was too slow to respond to the pandemic.

The Times reported that Raab is expected to ask leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to attend a Cobra meeting to ensure a UK-wide approach in setting a new restrictions deadline.

On Monday, Raab insisted the government’s plan to tackle the pandemic “is working”, despite the death toll going past 11,000 and continued questions over testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

It came as the World Health Organization (WHO) said restrictions should be lifted slowly and not "all at once" to avoid a resurgence of the virus, and only if appropriate measures are in place, including "significant" capacity for contact tracing.

But experts have also warned that the public's will to stick to the measures could fade and the government needs to find a way to tell the nation about how they will be eased.

Professor Linda Bauld, from the college of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said that while public compliance is currently strong, “this won't last”.

"Sooner rather than later, government needs to share the possible options with the public and be transparent about the costs and benefits of each, rather than continually evading questions on this, as is currently the case."


North America 

CAIR Calls on Iowa, National GOP to Repudiate Candidate’s Call to Eliminate Islam from U.S.

April 13, 2020

Ibrahim Hooper

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/13/20) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on state and national Republican Party leaders to repudiate the Islamophobic, unconstitutional statements of a GOP congressional candidate in Iowa who claims Islam should be eliminated from the United States.

Rick Phillips, candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives District IA-02, states on his campaign website that “Islam should be recognized as a hostile ideology antithetical to the United States Constitution” and that “It should have its religious status revoked.” He also falsely claims that a “mosque is nothing more than a military outpost where the seeds of hatred are sown against our country.”

In an interview with a local television station, Phillips claimed Islam is not a faith that is protected by the First Amendment, which he claims applies only to Christianity. He went on to attack Muslim members of Congress Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) and claimed, “they moved 70,000 Somalians in up there to vote for her [Omar].”

“We ask Republican Party leaders in Iowa and nationwide to repudiate these Islamophobic, unconstitutional views and to take a strong stand in support of religious diversity and inclusion,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw. “The Constitution must protect Americans of all faiths. The kind of hatred and anti-American views promoted by Mr. Phillips places in danger both constitutional protections of religious freedom and the safety of ordinary American Muslims.”

Last month, CAIR’s Houston chapter called on the Texas Republican Party to reject a GOP congressional candidate’s remarks suggesting that spraying the nation with pigs’ blood would keep Muslims out of the United States.

SEE: CAIR-Houston Calls on Texas GOP to Repudiate Cong. Candidate’s Remarks Suggesting U.S. Be Sprayed with ‘Pig’s Blood’ to Keep Muslims Out

Also in March, CAIR’s New Jersey chapter called on that state’s Republican Party to repudiate the Camden County GOP for its anti-Muslim Facebook Posts.

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president. It has repeatedly condemned Trump’s racist, white supremacist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant rhetoric, appointments and policies.

CAIR does not endorse or support political candidates of any party, but it does encourage voting, voter registration and all forms of civic participation by American Muslims.

Earlier this year, CAIR launched its annual non-partisan “Muslims Vote” campaign designed to empower American Muslims by increasing their political capacity and presence in the 2020 General Election.


Arab world 

Coronavirus bulletin: Some Dubai stores to reopen ahead of Ramadan; UAE announces 398 new cases; Expired UAE visas valid until end-2020

Ismail Sebugwaawo

April 14, 2020

UAE announced on Monday that all visas, entry permits and Emirates ID cards will remain valid until the end of 2020, as the country battles the Covid-19 coronavirus. Talking to the media in a virtual conference today on the Covid-19 situation in the country, Colonel Khamis Al Kaabi, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship spokesperson, said  that "all visas and entry permits - expiring on March 1 - shall remain valid until the end of December, 2020," he revealed. The residency visa of expatriates, inside or outside the country and expiring on March 1, to stay valid until the end of the year.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced 398 new cases of coronavirus on April 13. It also announced 172 new recoveries in the country, taking the total recoveries to 852 cases. "With today's 172 cases, the total number of fully recovered Covid-19 patients has become 852, while three residents of different nationalities were declared dead, taking the total number of deaths to 25," Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the ministry, said. "We have also carried out up to 23,380 new tests on Monday all over the country."

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Monday discussed the latest developments in the global fight against Covid-19 with Steve Sisolak, Governor of Nevada, US, and ways of coordinating efforts in this regard. This came in a phone call His Highness Sheikh Mohamed received from the US governor wherein Abu Dhabi Crown Prince affirmed the UAE's solidarity with US in its battle against the novel virus, expressing hope the American people would overcome the crisis as soon as possible. He stressed the UAE's determination to extend all possible forms of support at regional and global levels to combat coronavirus out of its belief in the growing importance of ensuring global synergy in these trying times.

Blue-collar workers cannot leave Abu Dhabi region and those from other emirates are barred from entering the capital as per a new rule. "Companies are no longer permitted to send workers out of Abu Dhabi, and must limit their travel to within Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra," the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development said. Also, entry of workers from other emirates into Abu Dhabi is restricted. "The precautionary and preventative measures are taken to protect the health and safety of workers from the spread of the coronavirus and reducing the likelihood of infection."

Parents who are struggling because of job loss, unpaid leave or salary cut because of the Covid-19 crisis can benefit from Abu Dhabi's school fees support programme, according to authorities. The Authority of Social Contribution, Ma'an, on Sunday announced that it will use the funds contributed to its 'Together We Are Good' programme to help families and individuals most in need across four key areas: Education, food supplies, health support and basic needs. Ma'an, with the support of Abu Dhabi's Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), called on those seeking assistance for education support to call a hotline or register their request for relief on a specially created microsite. According to officials, the fund is for parents with children attending private schools in Abu Dhabi who are affected by the current economic challenges. It will support parents by paying school fees or providing devices for distance learning.

The Department of Health - Abu Dhabi (DoH) on Monday announced, in collaboration with Injazat Data Systems, the launch of the 'Remote Healthcare' app for smartphones that allows users easy and safe access to preliminary medical diagnostic services, information and guidelines. This is in line with the DoH's continuous efforts to maintain the safety and well-being of all members of UAE society and provide them with necessary healthcare services without having to physically visit healthcare facilities, said a DoH press release issued on Monday. The application provides essential medical support to people with chronic diseases, the elderly, and those in need of medical prescriptions who do not want to visit hospitals given the current situation, as well as those who have been infected with Covid-19 and are in home isolation.

The Dubai Police has imposed 2,527 fines against violators of restrictions on movement during the National Sterilization Programme. The total number of fines included 2,076 warnings and 8 fines, for violating safety instructions and leaving homes without valid reason or for work purposes or for buying essentials. Other 204 warnings and one fine were issued to members of the public who exceeded the maximum allowed number of passengers (three) in a single vehicle that has been stipulated. Lastly, 233 warnings as well as five fines were issued for those not wearing medical masks in closed areas or for flaunting the minimum social distancing rule.

The General Command of Civil Defence has spelt out steps people must implement in case a fire breaks out in the house. It comes at a time when families are confined to their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a video posted on its official Instagram account, the civil defence stressed that all housing units must have fire extinguishers, smoke and heat alarms, which will alert people that there's an emergency. The video said that parents and adult family members must learn how to use the fire extinguishers, so they can act immediately if there's a minor fire. "There must always be a way to leave the unit immediately in case the blaze spreads. There should be way to the exit door or windows that can be used for evacuation," the video emphasised.

Dubai Economy has announced the operational timings for various commercial activities and businesses in Dubai. In line with the preventive measures against the spread of CoronaVirus (COVID-19), Dubai Economy informs that the below commercial activities: The announcement is in line with the preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country. Meat trading, Fruits & vegetables trading, Roaster, Mills, Nuts trading, Chocolate and sweets trading, Fish trading, Coffee trading, Tea trading stores can operate according to the below procedures: Store operating hours between 8am and 8pm.

Most tenants in Dubai are negotiating better rental deals with landlords to stay in their existing apartments as uncertainty surrounding jobs limit their movement, a new research has found. A study by real estate consultancy Core said landlords are also willing to offer incentives to retain their tenants."We anticipate limited movement over the coming weeks as most tenants are expected to negotiate with their current landlords, particularly those with immediate rent renewals. We also foresee in some cases rental incentives to be provided by landlords such as partial rent waivers, higher number of cheque payments, extended rent free periods and contribution to utilities in order to help tenants while also maintaining occupancy of their unit," said Prathyusha Gurrapu, head of research and advisory at Core.

The General Command of the Abu Dhabi Police, ADP, represented by the Security Media Department of the Leadership Affairs Sector, launched the 'From Home to Home' initiative on Monday to enhance its communication with the community and spread awareness messages and urgent announcements during the coronavirus crisis. The initiative aims to provide the public with advice and guidance around the clock on Abu Dhabi Police's social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Brigadier Mohammed Ali Al Muhairi, Director of the Security Media Department, stated that Covid-19 pandemic had posed challenges to media platforms communicating information about the disease

This StayHome Ramadan will be an opportunity to boost the family bonding with a newfound togetherness, help us dedicate more time to pray together with our loved ones, and could turn out to be the most memorable one, feel Muslim residents in the UAE. They say the restrictions won't deter or dampen their spirit as they brace for the festival in various novel ways to make the most of the situation. Ahmad Sallam, a 47-year-old Egyptian, said he has been praying indoors for over three weeks now and it's unprecedented since he has never done so before for such a long time at a stretch in his entire life.

Chief Minister of South Indian State of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, has expressed his appreciation for the work being done by the UAE Government in protecting expatriates living in the UAE, Wam reported on Monday. The Government of Kerala has asked the Keralite community organisations in the UAE to coordinate their efforts with UAE agencies to provide relief to those affected by the new coronavirus, Covid-19, pandemic. There could be some hardships due to restrictions on people's movement just as in India, but the need of the hour is to adhere to the protocols envisaged by the authorities, the Chief Minister pointed out


Coronavirus: Dubai allows some food outlets to open before Ramadan

Kelly Clarke

April 14, 2020

Dubai is allowing some food traders to reopen during set hours to help residents buy Ramadan essentials.

Food shops that stayed shut during the National Disinfection Programme will now be exempt from this ruling.

Following a directive from the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, shops that sell fish, coffee and tea, meat, fruit and vegetables will be allowed to open between 8am and 8pm. Roasters and mills for nuts and baking supplies will be included.

On Monday, Dubai Economy said that sweet shops in malls across the city would also stay open.

The authority confirmed that other commercial food outlets outside shopping malls may open during the same hours.

The relaxation of restrictions means individuals and families now have additional access to fresh foods, sweets and spices to prepare for the holy month.

Those working in these food shops and establishments should obtain a movement permit to commute from home to work.

All the reopened outlets must maintain strict hygiene and ensure shoppers keep a safe distance from each other.

Officials from Dubai Economy will carry out regular inspections to make sure the outlets comply with the guidelines.

The UAE announced 398 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, bringing the total to 4,521, while 172 more people recovered.

From March 25, the UAE closed all markets and shopping malls as the authorities enforced strict stay-at-home orders to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

During Ramadan, Muslims will be permitted to pray at home only, Abdul Lateef al-Sheikh, the country's Minister of Islamic Affairs announced on Monday.

This year, astronomers predict the first day of Ramadan will fall on April 24, but this has not yet been confirmed by the official moon-sighting committee.


Southeast Asia 

FT mosques, suraus providing aid to non-Muslims as well, says Jawi director

14 Apr 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — “Donations given by mosques and surau here are for anyone affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, including non-Muslims.

Director of the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) Mohd Ajib Ismail said the aid does not use funds from the department or government but is instead from mosque collections and contributions from strategic partners.

“We want to send out the message that although the mosques are closed, it does not mean they are not functioning. During the movement control order (MCO) period, the mosques continue to help people whose supplies have been cut off.

“This includes non-Muslims, like the Prophet Muhammad taught us, the aid is given to anyone,” he told reporters after presenting donations to non-Muslims at the Ar-Rahimah Mosque in Kampung Pandan today.

At the event, 58 non-Muslim persons from the area around the Ar-Rahimah Mosque received donations comprising essential foods including rice, cooking oil, sugar, flour and condensed milk.

For the record, mosques and surau in the Federal Territory have donated RM1.2 million to 19,523 people since the MCO was imposed on March 18.

Meanwhile, one recipient,Yin Chung, 56 said his income as a Grab driver was affected after the MCO began since he could no longer drive as he did not want to be at risk of getting an infection.

“I have only some savings and have to spend carefully. Giving non-Muslims this aid is a way to change the negative perception of some people towards Islam,” he said.


Sara: City gov’t to distribute Ramadan grocery food packs


APRIL 14, 2020

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – The city government of Davao will push through with its annual tradition of giving grocery packs to Muslims in Davao City as they start observing the Holy Month of Ramadan starting April 23 until May 23 this year, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

During her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) 87.5 on Monday, Duterte said the budget for this yearly event has been included in the approved 2020 budget of the city government.

She said the city would push through with the annual tradition since the suppliers could still provide the supplies despite the city’s high demand for food packs to households affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We will continue with the giving of grocery packs. It will help the Muslim families in different communities every year. We usually drop them at the Mosque, and the Imam is the in-charge of the distribution of Ramadan grocery packs,” she added.

According to the population census of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) as of 2017, the city has a Muslim population of 63,127, comprising 3.87 percent of the city’s population at 1,632,991.

Duterte asked the Moro families to hold Iftar or the breaking of fast during Ramadan inside their homes with families and avoid hosting it in crowded areas to prevent the spread of (COVID-19).

“I want to remind our Muslim brothers and sisters to avoid holding Iftar in crowded places. Let’s do it inside our homes with our families only. Let’s not invite our friends at our homes for the celebration of Iftar this year,” she added.


Covid-19: 170 new cases take total to 4,987, 5 deaths

14 Apr 2020


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia recorded 170 new Covid-19 cases Monday (Apr 14), taking the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 4,987.

The country also reported five new deaths, which brings the Covid-19 death toll in Malaysia to 82 cases.

This translates to a fatality rate of 1.6%, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 media briefing here.

In terms of recoveries, Malaysia discharged 202 more patients as of 12pm Tuesday.

So far, 2,478 patients have recovered from Covid-19 in Malaysia since the outbreak began.

The rate of Covid-19 recovery in Malaysia is 49.7% out of the total number of positive cases.

Currently, 60 patients are being treated at intensive care units (ICU), with 33 of them requiring the use of ventilators.

One of the five death cases is an unidentified man who was found dead in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah on April 6.

“The results of the samples taken from the man during post-mortem found that he was Covid-19 positive.

“The man was found without any identification and is believed to be a non-Malaysian.

“This case is under the investigation of the police, ” said Dr Hisham.

Malaysia has entered its 28th day of the Movement Control Order (MCO), where people are instructed to stay at home and movement is heavily restricted.


Masjid India area placed under enhanced MCO

14 Apr 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The Masjid India area has been placed under an enhanced movement control order (MCO) except for the Dang Wang district police headquarters and DBKL homeless monitoring centre as more than 40 people have tested positive for Covid-19.

Premises along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Lebuh Ampang, Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan Dang Wangi and Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Jalan Ampang and Jalan Melaka will be closed as soon as the enhanced MCO is in effect.

Aside from several hotels, Semua House, Mydin, Kompleks Campbell, Wisma Kosas and Wisma Yakin fall within the affected area.

The area affected has a radius of about 1km and has more than 10,000 people, including 6,000 at the Selangor Mansion and Malayan Mansion flats and 3,200 people at Menara City One.

A check by The Star revealed that security forces have been seen putting up barbed wire fences at passageways in the area since Monday (April 13) night.

"We hope the residents and premise owners give their full cooperation to the authorities," he said during the press conference on Tuesday



Covid-19: Muslim vendors stopped from selling vegetables in UP, accused of being Tablighi members

3 hours ago

Two vegetable vendors in Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh were allegedly misbehaved with and stopped from selling their goods by a group of people who accused them of being members of the Tablighi Jamaat and of spreading the coronavirus, PTI reported. The sect is linked to a religious congregation held in Nizamuddin in Delhi last month, which later emerged as an infection hotspot.

In a written complaint, the vendors said they had gone to small villages to sell vegetables on Saturday, when a group of men urged people to stop purchasing anything from them because they are Muslims.

“Two vegetables sellers came to me and gave a complaint, alleging that they had gone to sell vegetables when villagers misbehaved, terming them [as members of the] Tablighi Jamaat,” Additional District Magistrate Ram Suresh Verma told PTI. However, a report by NDTV said five vegetable vendors were involved in the incident.

“Over 100 people came to buy [the vegetables] in the 15 minutes we were there,” Mohammad Shamim, one of the vendors, told NDTV. “About 10-15 people had already bought from us. Then some other people came and said: ‘these people are Muslims don’t buy from them’.”

Shamim said the men accused him and other vendors of having links with the Tablighi Jamaat. “The vegetables we had sold were returned to us. For two days we have not stepped out,” he added.

Ram Suresh Verma, a senior official of the Uttar Pradesh government posted in the district met the vendors and promised swift action. “There people have shared their concerns,” he told NDTV. “I have asked the sub-divisional magistrate to conduct a probe. No one will face any issues. whatever needs to be done, we will ensure it is done.”

Ever since news broke that the convention held by the Tablighi Jamaat was a Covid-19 hotspot, rumours about the spread of the coronavirus have taken on a communal hue. Videos circulating on social media platforms appeared to show Muslim men spitting on food, licking plates and sneezing in unison to spread the virus – all of these have been debunked as fake news. Even certain television channels and organisations like the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell blamed Muslims for the spread of the pandemic.

In several places, this had also translated into violence. On April 7, rumours about Muslim men intentionally spitting to spread the virus reportedly led to group clashes in Jharkhand’s Gumla district. It began with an attack on a young man, who was seriously injured. Another person died in the ensuing clashes.

Three separate incidents took place in the National Capital Region on April 5, the same day that Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked everyone to light candles in the darkness for nine minutes in a show of solidarity for India’s fight against the coronavirus. A 22-year-old who had reportedly returned from a Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Bhopal was assaulted in Harewali village.

A Muslim family in Gurgaon was allegedly attacked for taking videos of a procession that took to the streets to carry out Modi’s instructions. A mosque in Gurugram was shot at and those arrested told the police they had fired to “check if anyone infected with the coronavirus was hiding inside”. Instances of violence or hostility have emerged from other states as well.


Alt News video verification: Muslim vegetable vendor assaulted in Badarpur, Delhi

Archit Mehta

13th April 2020

Several Facebook and Twitter users shared a 45-second video of a vegetable vendor beaten up by another man who is accompanied by at least three other persons. He asks the vendor for an identity card and his name. The vendor responded that he does not have an ID card at the moment and his name is Mohammad Saleem. Thereafter, Saleem was abused and hit with a stick. The man hitting Saleem said, “You people are doing jihad.” All the men in the video, including Saleem, are wearing masks.

Several people on social media have claimed, “This man asked ID Card and name of this vendor, when he said “Mohammad Saleem” he was abused and beaten up brutally.” Alt News has also received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application.

Alt News did a keyframe analysis of the video and spotted the number plate of a bike at the two-second mark. We looked up DL 9S BX 9250 on the national motor registry and found that the vehicle’s registration is from New Delhi.

At the 47-second mark, we spotted an advertisement for a spoken English centre along with the phone number 98715 42848 on the wall on the right-hand side. Using this as a clue, Alt News performed a keyword search on Google and found English Mania in Badarpur, South East Delhi.

On April 11, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti quote-tweeted the video, tagged Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Shri S. N. Shrivastava and asked, “If your police can bring back stolen purse of niece of PM within 1-2 days, I am sure that this shameless creature can be traced by you. Plz do justice with him and assure Delhi that any and every attempt to divide Delhi on religious lines will be dealt with iron hands.”

DCP South East Delhi responded to Bharti via quote-tweet and said, “Cognizance of the incident has already been taken.FIR has been #registered under appropriate sections of law & the perpetrator of crime has been #arrested.Such incidents shall not be tolerated at any cost & law will take its own course against such persons. @DelhiPolice”

Alt News spoke to RP Meena, DCP South East Delhi. He shared the press note addressing the viral video. According to the Delhi Police press note on April 13, the incident took place on April 11 at Tajpur road, Badarpur. Delhi Police looked into the matter after the Cyber Cell shared the viral video posted on Twitter.

The statement added that an enquiry was made after identifying that the bike DL 9S BX9250 belonged to Sudhanshu from Molarband, New Delhi. Sudhanshu informed that this incident happened at Tajpur Road and he identified the man who hit the vegetable seller as Praveen Babbar resident of Badarpur. Babbar has been arrested and an FIR has been filed under India Penal Code Sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot—if rioting be committed—if not committed), 355 (Assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person, otherwise than on grave provocation), 298 (Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) and 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) at Badarpur police station.


JNU research scholar accuses Manipur of harassing Pangal Muslims in newspaper article, state government responds with author's arrest

Amir Malik

Apr 14, 2020

The Manipur Police arrested Chingiz Khan on 10 April — a research scholar at country's premier Jawaharlal Nehru University on the charges of sedition for writing a piece showing systematic persecution of Pangal Muslims in Manipur.

Khan, a scholar of medieval history was first detained on 9 April and subsequently slapped with various sections of the Indian Penal Code 124-A/153-A/505/120-B which pertain to sedition, promoting enmity, public mischief and criminal conspiracy respectively. His six days police custody ends on 14 April after which he would be produced in the court.

The article published in Manipur daily, Ichel Express, Political Ploy to Drive Muslims Out is a translated version of the 2019 report in The Pioneer which talked about the eviction of almost 400 Pangal Muslims from Kshetri Bengoon Mamang Awang Ching.

The report said, "The villagers settled here in 1970 (in internal migration) but the government claimed that these people illegally encroached reserve forest area. The state used cops for evicting and pulling down the houses, "despite the Manipur High Court's order to delay the process."

Muslims settled in Manipur in the first decade of the 17th century by migrating from the western part of Manipur, namely Bengal and Silchar.

"Islam came to Manipur before Hinduism," said Thokchom Veewon, a research scholar at Mizoram University, but in the next century, in the 1720s, King Pamheiba, who had another name Gharib Nawaz "introduced Hinduism as the state religion of his kingdom" — Kangleipak, and changed its name to Manipur — a Sanskrit word which means an abundance of jewel. "Pangal got its name from rhyming Bengal."

"The Pangals have been marginalised through constant engagement," said Babloo Loitongbam, a human rights defender from Manipur. However, it is not in isolation, he added, "but, the intersectionality of persecutions of Muslims and shrinking of democratic space" by a government which does not allow criticism.

The Pangals are in minority now and the government wants to take away their land in areas such as Mantripukhri, and particularly after the 1993 massacre of Pangals by the majority Meitei in which above 100 Muslims and four Meitei was killed, Pangals feel vulnerable. Ironically, the High Court of Manipur was established in 2013 in Mantripukhri itself.

Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2014 was invoked in the case of "acquisition of homestead patta land belonging to the minority community for the construction of MLA quarters in the Mantripukhri area to evict Muslims from their land. How could an MLA quarter preserve the same paddy ground and the Muslim homestead ruin it? However, particularly the non-Pangal lands remained untouched.

In 2018, the state government proposed a bill—Protection of Manipuri People which would ban the entry of "illegal migrants with an emphasis on Rohingyas, leaving other migrant communities aside".

The Pangals were blamed for giving them asylum which created a communally-charged environment against Muslims. The chronicle led to mob-justices including "lynching of Md Farooque Khan from Lilong Mayai Leikai, Thoubal district in Manipur". This led to the passing of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence 2018 in the state Assembly.

Meitei consists of different clans forming a majority and maximum of them seek to revert to their ancient religious beliefs and practices. After the May 1993 massacre of Muslims, there seems to have emerged a distinct gap between the two communities.

"Reconstruction of harmony and peace-building initiatives from both sides have not been very fruitful, as if the massacre triggered a chain reaction which could be seen in outlook and perceptions, cultural exchanges and to an extent in traditional labour relations," said another scholar seeking anonymity.

"Different processes of changes in both parties led to the reification of identities and social boundaries. The origin of many of these developments can be traced implicitly or explicitly to the massacre of 1993," he said.

The state government granted 4 percent reservation in government jobs and higher education to the Manipuri Muslim community, especially for admission to professional study programs in Manipur. It could be called an acceptance of the Pangal's systemic persecutions. Nevertheless, it was never enforced.

Also, after 12 years of affirmative action policy, the number of first-class officials, second-class officials and third-class officials is far below 8.4 percent (the percentage of the Muslim population in Manipur).

Manipur’s total population in 2011 was 28,55,794, of which 2,39,836 were Muslims (including the non-Pangal migrant Muslims who came in the late 19th century or in the early 20th century to Manipur).

"The increase of Manipur’s total population around 4.94 times during 1951-2011 was slightly higher than that of the Hindus (3.4 times), lower than the Muslims (6.45 times).  The Christians added 17.24 times," Khan wrote.

The article also stated that the other parts of society took advantage of the violence of the state against minority Pangal Muslims and forced them to move away from their homes and shops, which violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) principles and particularly Article 3, which said, "Everyone has the right to life, equality and security ...". In fact, Khan also wrote about the custodial death of a policeman in his article— ‘Mysterious’ Death of Policeman in Police Custody.

Not just Khan but many people have been arrested in Manipur within the first 10 days of April 2020. A human rights activist Takhenchangbam Shadishkanta was arrested on 1 April for suggesting a quarantine centre in an unused airstrip. Next day, the cops jailed Khangjrakpam Phajaton Mangang, along with Shadishkanta. Later, the chief of Imphal East police told a digital news outlet that, “Any X or Y cannot say like that about defence land.”

Konsam Victor Singh, an employee at a government-run college was jailed for asking, "Does anybody know how much has Chief Minister Biren contributed to the CM COVID-19 relief fund?" in a Facebook post, which he was asked to delete.

On 3 April, Laifungbam Debabrata Roy, a rights activist and a public health physician, was jailed for a Facebook post which read: “The present Manipur Chief Minister, especially at this time of crisis, should desist from wasting State resources, time and personnel in carrying out any personal political agenda or vendetta. It demeans and belittles the position occupied and the responsibility that entails.”

While others were released or out on bail, Khan continued to be incarcerated. Many demanded his immediate release including Delhi Association of Manipur Muslim Students. It released a statement quoting S Rangarajan v. P Jagjivan Ram case wherein the Supreme Court of India said, " criticism of government policies and operations is not a ground for restricting expression... In democracy, it is not necessary that everyone should sing the same song.”

Korimayum Joneyziaur Rahman, the general secretary of North East Students' Association of Jamia Millia Islamia said, "There is no seditious or communally inciting element in  the article."

Baboo said, "curbing freedom of expression" is a tool towards undemocratisation of society and that "sedition is unconstitutional".

JNUSU president, Aishe Ghosh tweeted a photo of Chingiz holding a book Genghis Khan, authored by Ralph Winston Fox, the British journalist known for his biography of Genghis Khan.

She said in a hashtag "release Chingiz Khan". The All Manipur Muslim Organisations’ Coordinating Committee also demanded his unconditional release. drove a campaign seeking his release. Numerous organisations of students around the country condemned his arrests and demanded an immediate release.

This is not the first time that a Manipuri scholar or a journalist has been put behind bars. An Imphal-based journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem was slapped with the National Security Act for criticising the chief minister.

A student leader Veewon Thokchom was slapped with sedition. In his bail, the high court found no sufficient ground to give ‘prima facie’ for charges slapped against him.

Ironically, the current Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh himself was into journalism and began a vernacular daily Naharolgi Thoudang in 1992 and worked as its editor till 2001.


Islamic Sect Chief's Quarantine Ends, To Join Probe Linked To COVID-19

April 14, 2020

New Delhi: The coronavirus quarantine period of Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat's leader Maulana Saad Kandhalvi and six others ended on Monday, following which they will join a Delhi Police probe into allegations that he encouraged people to congregate and stay at Markaz Nizamuddin, trashing all coronavirus-related warnings of social distancing and defying a ban on large gatherings.

Maulana Saad, 56, had been under quarantine since March 28. His lawyer on April 8 said he will join investigation after the quarantine period ends.

In a sermon on March 23, he had called social distancing warnings a conspiracy to keep Muslims away from each other. "Where will you run from death? Death is in front of you...This is an occasion to seek penance from God. Not an occasion where one comes under the influence of doctors and stops Namaaz, meeting each other...Yes, there is a virus. But 70,000 angels are with me and if they can't save me, who will? This is the time for more such gatherings, not the time to avoid each other...," he says in the sermon, which is being investigated by the police.

Over a thousand COVID-19 cases are estimated to be linked to the gathering at Markaz Nizamuddin, the 100-year-old building in the crowded south Delhi locality where the Tablighi Jamaat is based.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a Muslim organisation, had approached the Supreme Court seeking to stop sections of the media from allegedly giving a communal colour to reportage on COVID-19 cases linked to the event held by Tablighi Jamaat. The court, however, said on Monday that it will not pass any order that would lead to a "gag" on the media.

"If it's a question of killing or dying, your remedy is somewhere else. But if it's a question of larger reporting then the Press Council of India has to be made a party... I think you add the Press Council as a party to your case," Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told the petitioner. "We will not gag the press," said the Supreme Court bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and MM Shantanagoudar.

The lawyer for the Muslim organisation told the top court that the media and the government have been "constantly talking about Tablighi spreading coronavirus". "They're publishing the names and addresses of coronavirus patients. That's against the law," the lawyer said.


COVID-19: BJP MLA demands Army for Nagpur’s Muslim-dominated area

April 13, 2020

by Vivek Deshpande

A BJP MLA has demanded military deployment in a Muslim-dominated area of the city, claiming that people in the locality were “not cooperating with civic officials and police for the containment of the coronavirus outbreak”.

In a video message, East Nagpur BJP MLA Krushna Khopde has said, “A lot of coronavirus cases have surfaced in the Satranjipura locality, where a tenth of Markaz-connected people have come. Initially, when the civic authorities had come to do a survey in the area, the people didn’t cooperate. They misbehaved with them and forced them to leave the area. But now several coronavirus cases have been reported from the area. So, I have requested Nagpur Municipal Commissioner Tukaran Mundhe to hand over the area to military.”

“There is an atmosphere of panic in the area due to this. Handing the area over to the military will mitigate it,” Khopde, a three-time MLA from the East Nagpur constituency that covers the Satranjipura locality, said in the message.

Nagpur’s first coronavirus death last week was of a 68-year old man from the area. Since then, several positive cases have surfaced in the area.

When contacted, Khopde told The Indian Express, “Merely sealing the area won’t help. This is a Muslim-dominated locality and people can be found loitering inside in groups. You go to Mominpura. You will find the same scene there. These people are not like you and me. We will co-operate. They won’t. It can’t be managed by local police. That’s why I have demanded military.”

Asked about Khopde’s charges about the people of Satranjipura locality not cooperating with the authorities, Mundhe said, “People have started cooperating but more cooperation is expected, particularly in giving information to NMC staff for containment and survey. Also, lockdown must be followed, which is not yet seriously taken as they might have not understood the gravity of it.”


Watch: Muslim gujjar dairy farmer says milk cooperative in Punjab is refusing to buy his products

20 minutes ago

In the continuing fallout of the demonisation of Muslims following the Tablighi Jamat event, a dairy farmer in Punjab has complained that he has been unable to sell milk to the Verka dairy farmers cooperative in the state. In a video that has been widely circulated on social media, the dairy farmer who identifies himself as a Muslim gujjar man, accused the people at a government dairy associated with the Verka cooperative in a Punjab village of “ganging up against him”. The exact location where the video was shot is unknown.

“We are being viewed suspiciously in all of Punjab even though we have worked alongside others in all situations and never backed out,” the dairy farmer said. “But now, people are saying that they will not buy milk from a gujjar. We are being discriminated against and justice should be done.”

“The government is testing the Tablighi Jamaat people (who attended the Nizamuddin markaz event in New Delhi, a coronavirus hotspot),” he added, “but this does not mean that you should kill the livelihood of others. I have the same right as you to sell milk here, it is a government dairy.”

Other incidents of atrocities against Muslims in Punjab were also reported recently after the Tablighi Jamat event was popularised as a leading cause of coronavirus cases in India. In Hoshiarpur district, an 80-year-old woman was denied medicine at a chemist shop who said, “Sick Muslims spreading virus,” to her, The Wire reported.

Muslims from the Talwara block of the district were “abused, beaten, and chased away” to the Swan riverbed where they lived without food for days at a stretch. In the Hindu majority villages of the Hajipur and Talwara blocks of Hoshiarpur district, hundreds of litres of milk to be sold by the Muslim gujjars were thrown into Swan river, another report by The Wire said.


Uttarakhand govt imposes curfew after residents resist attempt to quarantine imam

April 13, 2020

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Monday ordered imposition of a curfew in Banbhulpura area of Haldwani, a day after people gathered on a street to stop health department officials from quarantining the imam of a local mosque.

Taking a serious view of the incident, Rawat ordered the chief secretary and the secretary (home) to impose a curfew in the area, according to an official statement.

People had come out on the street in Banbhulpura area on Sunday when health officials were trying to quarantine the imam of a local mosque who had come in contact with members of the Tablighi Jamaat, Nainital SSP Sunil Kumar Meena said.

However, the matter was resolved with the intervention of police, the imam himself and the ulemas, he said. The imam has been quarantined at the mosque.

A number of Jamaat members have tested positive for coronavirus after they attended a religious congregation in Delhi last month or after they came in contact with those who attended it.



Ayatollah Modarresi: Iraqis to defeat coronavirus through faith

April 13, 2020

Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Taqi Modarresi, a Shia source of emulation, in a message called on the people to observe health guidelines, al-Suamria TV reported.

He also urged people to remain united in the face of the disease and help one another, saying Iraqis are always benevolent, especially in difficult times.

Ayatollah Modarresi further urged clerics and religious preachers to promote religious teachings via the internet and social media now that people are staying at home to prevent the spread of the disease.

The novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has infected more than 1.8 million people worldwide and killed some 115,000.

The number of confirmed cases in Iraq is 1,352 and 76 people have died from the disease in the country so far.


Israeli political impasse: Gantz-Netanyahu miss coalition govt. deadline

14 April 2020

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has extended the mandate of centrist Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz to form a unity government as coalition talks with rightist rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, remain deadlocked.

Gantz had been given 28 days to clinch a power-sharing deal with Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, after Israel’s March 2 polls, Israel’s third elections in a year.

Rivlin acceded to the 48-hour extension request “on the understanding that they are very close to reaching an agreement,” according to a statement from his office.

Gantz and Netanyahu met overnight in a last-ditch effort to resolve differences and later issued a joint statement claiming that they had made “significant progress” in forming an emergency administration to end Israel’s unprecedented political deadlock amid the coronavirus pandemic.

If the pair fails to clinch a deal, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) will have 21 days to come up with a candidate for prime minister endorsed by 61 members of the 120-seat legislature.

If that also fails, Israel could be headed for an extraordinary fourth straight election, sending people back to the ballot box in just over a year.

Just hours before the original deadline, both Netanyahu and Gantz delivered separate televised statements on Monday night and expressed their desire for a coalition administration, citing the emergency created by the coronavirus outbreak.

“We will keep making every effort to achieve the unity,” Netanyahu said in a speech that began with his explanation of the latest restrictions imposed over the pandemic, which has so far infected 11,586 Israelis and killed 116.

“Benny, I’m waiting for you in the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem” al-Quds, he tweeted later. “Let’s meet and sign even tonight on forming a national emergency government that will save lives and work for the citizens of Israel.”

“Netanyahu, we have arrived at the moment of truth. The citizens of Israel expect us — both of us — to make difficult decisions,” he said.

Coalition talks reached an impasse last week over a demand by Netanyahu, who faces an impending corruption trial, to have more influence over judicial appointments.

“I am not prepared to believe that Blue and White would give Bibi (Netanyahu) an immunity law,” Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid wrote on social media. “Even the Right would not give Bibi the personal immunity law that he wanted.”

Similarly, Telem party leader Moshe Ya’alon stressed that although Gantz may have good intentions, he has been tricked by a cynical criminal trying to evade justice.

Gantz said in response that “no one can preach to me about politics, and no one will take me away from my deep belief that Israel must come first.”


Hamas dismisses as ‘untrue’ reports of prisoner swap deal with Israel

13 April 2020

A senior official with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has categorically dismissed as “untrue” reports that it will soon reach a deal to swap prisoners with Israel.

Moussa Dodin, member of Hamas’ political bureau, made the comment in a press release on Monday and added that the resistance movement had not yet seen any serious steps on the part of the Israeli regime in dealing with the issue of exchanging inmates.

Dodin, however, said Hamas would welcome any mediation efforts to pave the way for a prisoner swap, and renewed an initiative recently made by Yahya Sinwar, the movement’s leader in the besieged Gaza Strip, about making some concessions on a new deal on the condition that Tel Aviv would take practical steps on the issue.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced last week that the regime was interested in “immediate” indirect prisoner exchange negotiations with the resistance movement, which runs Gaza.

The office said the exchange sought to enable the release of two Israelis and the remains of two soldiers reportedly held by Hamas. The two Israeli soldiers were killed during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, which killed 2,310 Palestinians.

Israel keeps thousands of Palestinians behind bars in dire conditions despite the new coronavirus outbreak, which has seen many international rights organizations campaigning for the release of the inmates amid the pandemic.

Hamas has on numerous occasions lambasted the difficult incarceration and humanitarian conditions of Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons.

With the global spread of the new coronavirus, the movement has stressed the necessity of protecting the Palestinian prisoners against the flu-like pathogen and of pressuring Tel Aviv to provide what was necessary for their safety and take full responsibility for their lives.

Hamas censures Israel’s incessant arrest campaign against Palestinians, stating such it reflects the Tel Aviv regime’s brutality and criminality amid COVID-19 outbreak.

The new coronavirus, a respiratory disease known as the COVID-19, was transmitted from wildlife to people in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has affected 209 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far infected more than 1.84 million people and killed over 114,000 others.

The Palestinians have reported about 308 coronavirus cases and two fatalities. Israel’s official figures show that more than 11,000 people have tested positive for the disease and 110 others have died.


Coronavirus fear adds to already poor economy in Gaza, committee warns

13 April 2020

It is bitterly hard times for the Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the people are struggling for their livelihood under the inhuman Israeli siege, which is now coupled with the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The National Committee for Breaking the Siege has sounded the alarm over the economic hardships the people of Gaza are going through.

Jamal al-Khudari, who is a lawmaker at the head of the organization, issued a statement on the matter on Sunday, Turkey’s state Anadolu news agency reported on Monday. 

“The Israeli occupation and siege as well as measures taken against COVID-19 have resulted in an economic crisis, and if it continues, it will create an unprecedented disaster,” the lawmaker said, adding, “The crisis is big and it is very dangerous for workers, factories and the trade, agriculture and tourism sectors.”

The COVID-19 disease, caused by the new coronavirus, was transmitted from wildlife to people in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has affected 210 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far infected more than 1,867,130 people and killed over 115,280.

Official figures by Palestine's Health Ministry shows that as of Monday, 290 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and two others have died so far in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The central laboratory in the Gaza Strip has run out of necessary supplies to process COVID-19 tests, the Palestinian health ministry says.

Under a tight Israeli-imposed land, air and sea blockade since 2007, Gaza suffers from a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

The impoverished enclave also struggles with the new coronavirus, which is raging across the globe. The Health Ministry in Gaza has already issued a distress call to the world as its central medical laboratory ran out of necessary supplies to process COVID-19 tests earlier this month.

The majority of population of Gaza lives in densely-populated refugee camps, where social distancing is hardly feasible and the contagious disease can rampage the besieged sliver if necessary safety measures are not taken immediately. Nearly two million Palestinians live in Gaza.

He said during the years-long siege, 3,500 factories, workshops, and businesses had shut down in Gaza, whose poverty rate has reached 85 percent.

“There is a daily closure of businesses, factories, and workshops in Gaza, which means a significant increase in the number of unemployed workers and technicians, in addition to large financial losses.”

Khudari, originally an academic and businessman, said at the time that Palestinian economic markets in Gaza and the West Bank had witnessed high rates of depression too. “Sales rates retreated by 80 percent in Gaza and 50 percent in the occupied West Bank.”

A Palestinian lawmaker says the economic loss imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli blockade is estimated to have been 70 million dollars a month.

In another statement in October the same year, Khudari said the crippling siege had affected 100 percent of factories in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The Israeli regime denies Gazans their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs with proper wages as well as adequate healthcare and education.


US imperialism more dangerous than coronavirus for international community: Iran president

13 April 2020

"Independent and freedom-seeking nations like Iran and Venezuela have always been under pressure as a result of the US statesmen’s excessive demands and bullying," Rouhani said in a phone call with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday.

"Iran and Venezuela have been successfully resisting the aggressive and old virus of the US for years through solidarity and expansion of cooperation," he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president pointed to the country's plans and measures to counter the deadly coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and meet its needs, including with regard to the production of diagnostic testing kits, and expressed Tehran's readiness to share its experience in the fight against the virus with Caracas.

Rouhani stressed the importance of further strengthening of bilateral cooperation, saying, "The expansion of cooperation and relations between the two countries will certainly serve the interests of the Iranian and Venezuelan nations."

Iran — the worst hit state by the coronavirus spread in the Middle East — has been doing its utmost to contain the respiratory disease despite the hardships created by US sanctions.

Backed by the Armed Forces, the Iranian government has set up makeshift hospitals, increased production of hygienic items, introduced precautionary measures, stepped up coronavirus tests and launched a nationwide screening process to detect patients and isolate them.

A university researcher says Iran-made coronavirus test kits, light ventilators and virus-killing facemasks will hit the market in the near future.

On Tuesday, Babak Shokri, research deputy at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University, said that domestically-developed coronavirus diagnostic test kits, light-weight ventilators and virus-killing facemasks will soon enter the mass-production stage.

His comments came after Ali Akbar Velayati, the head of Iran's Masih Daneshvari Hospital, one of the leading medical centers treating patients with the new coronavirus infection in Tehran, said Iran has produced favipiravir for the first time as it continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fortunately, favipiravir was produced for the first time at Shahid Beheshti Medical University’s School of Pharmacy and has been made available to Masih Daneshvari Hospital … to be used for treatment of coronavirus patients,” Velayati said.

Tehran has repeatedly said it does not seek Washington’s help in the fight but wants it to lift its illegal economic sanctions so that Iran can mobilize its own resources to tackle the pandemic.

The administration of Donald Trump has not only defied international calls on the US in recent weeks to halt its draconian sanctions on Iran, but has even slapped more such restrictive measures on the Islamic Republic.

Washington re-imposed its sanctions on Tehran in May 2018 after unilaterally leaving a historic UN-endorsed nuclear accord with Iran and five other major powers -- the UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany.

The Venezuelan president, for his part, said Tehran and Caracas have always been united and in the same front in the battle against imperialism.

Maduro also hailed the great achievements made by Iran in its fight against coronavirus, saying that all countries are now engaged in a common battle against coronavirus.

The Venezuelan president also indicated his country's willingness to take advantage of Iran's experience in fighting against the coronavirus infection.


South Asia 

29 Taliban militants killed, wounded in separate incidents in Badghis province

14 Apr 2020

At least 29 Taliban militants were killed or wounded in separate incidents in the North-western Badghis province of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

According to a statement released by MoD, the security forces conducted an operation against the Taliban militants who had blocked the Qads-Qala-e Naw highway.

The statement further added that the security forces killed 7 Taliban militants and wounded 11 others during the operation.

In a separate incident, at least 5 Taliban militants were killed and 6 others were wounded after an improvised explosive device went off prematurely in this province, the defense ministry added.


Seven more coronavirus patients die, 209 test positive in 24hrs: DGHS

April 14, 2020

Seven more died of coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, DGHS said today.

The death toll now stands at 46, a DGHS official said during the briefing.

Two hundred and nine people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours. This is the highest number of people detected with the infection in a day so far in the country.

With this, the total number of infected has reached 1,012.



Govt. To Ensure Uniform Guidelines During Holy Month of Ramadan: Minister for Interior

April 13, 2020

ISLAMABAD, Apr 13 (APP): Minister for Interior Brig (Retd) Ijaz Ahmed Shah on Monday said the government would ensure uniform guidelines during the holy month of Ramadan in the country.

The minister expressed these views during a meeting with Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Peer Noor-ul-Haq Qadri who called on him.

The meeting focused on formulation of a strategy that would ensure that the spirit of this Holy month was kept alive and preventive measures amid pandemic were also fully exercised.

It was decided in the meeting to take on board religious scholars and all relevant stakeholders about the steps for sanctity of the Holy month.

The two ministers mutually agreed on taking all necessary stakeholders on board to come up with the best possible solution in this time of crisis. The prime objective is to come up with a unanimous approach that will allow people to observe their religious obligations and also ensure health as well as safety of masses.


Teleschool goes on air today to compensate for academic loss

April 14, 2020

Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday inaugurated a national broadcast education channel to mitigate the loss faced by the students due to the closure of educational institutions till May 31 in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

Teleschool — the dedicated TV channel — will be aired through a beam provided by Pakistan Television (PTV) from Tuesday (today) across the country from 8am to 6pm for online education from class one to 12.

Speaking at its launching ceremony, the prime minister said that teleschool would help students learn during the closure of schools. This initiative would also help the government reach the remote areas, which didn’t have access to education facilities and infrastructure, Mr Khan said.

He said as Pakistan had a large number of out-of-school children (OOSC), this initiative could promote primary education and focus on the OOSC.

He said no one could predict when Covid-19 would be eliminated, as it could take two, three or six months. He said this project was highly productive in the given circumstances.

The PM was of the opinion that this project should continue even after the pandemic was over and reopening of schools. He said it would help promote education in remote areas while the concept could also be used for telemedicine.

He said that adult literacy could also be promoted through this project. He appreciated all those officials who played their role to launch this project.

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood at the launch told the premier that education ministry was also mulling to develop an app to benefit over 20 million out-of-school children and promote adult literacy.

About country’s literacy rate, the minister said: “We have just 60 per cent literacy rate”. He said the education ministry was trying to link education with technology so that adults who wanted to learn had access to education through mobile phones.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan was also present at the launch of teleschool.

Officials of the education ministry told Dawn that the dedicated TV channel, teleschool, would be available on satellite, terrestrial and cable networks so that it would be accessible to most parts of the country, including hard-to-reach remote areas, ensuring equity in learning. An officer of the education ministry said that the ministry initially inked an agreement with PTV for three months, but if needed it could be extended as the PM also expressed his desire for the project’s continuation.

Joint Secretary (Education) Syed Umair Javed, who had supervised the content development process, told Dawn that online content was developed in accordance with country’s curriculum and it was made attractive for students.

“The credit of making this project possible in less than a month goes to unsung heroes: content developers, teachers and staff of Federal Directorate of Education, editors, techs and producers of Allama Iqbal Open University and PTV,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister appealed to the overseas Pakistanis to come forward and donate generously to the Corona Relief Fund as the country faced looming challenge of poverty, adds APP.

“Pakistan will be hit by poverty as aftermath of the lockdown due to coronavirus and will thus need financial support from overseas Pakistanis,” the prime minister said in a special video message addressed to the Pakistanis living abroad.

Mr Khan said Pakistan could only collect Rs8 billion so far. He said it was a very little amount considering the 220 million population. He said the United States had provided relief of $2,200bn for its 300 million population, while Germany and Japan allocated over $1,000 billion each to fight the pandemic of coronavirus.

“It is therefore need of the hour that overseas Pakistanis play their part in mitigating the difficult situation the country is currently facing,” he said.

For smooth transfer of donations, he mentioned, a dedicated website had been launched. The website offers multiple options for donations, including credit or debit cards and wire transfers, to support needy families.


Association warns of health sector collapse as medical professionals contract Covid-19

Ikram Junaidi

April 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: With 5,500 cases of Covid-19 and around 100 deaths reported across the country, the medical fraternity fears that the health sector may collapse as a large number of healthcare providers have been infected.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has urged the government to change its policy under which only doctors working in quarantine facilities and isolation wards are entitled to personal protective equipment (PPE), arguing that all healthcare providers are equally vulnerable.

The association has also told doctors to ignore suggestions to self-isolate if they have not tested positive, because this would put thousands of patients at risk.

PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad told Dawn that the association warned in January that the situation could deteriorate, but the government did not give heed.

“It is unfortunate that to date, the government is not willing to accept that all healthcare providers need PPE and they are also vulnerable,” he said.

Govt urged to change policy of only providing PPE to healthcare providers working in quarantine, isolation facilities

On Sunday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said that healthcare providers should end the “irrational” use of PPE. He said such equipment, and N-95 masks in particularly, were being used incorrectly and that only doctors who need N-95 masks should wear them as the irrational use would be a loss for those who need them.

Dr Sajjad said that 38 healthcare providers, including 17 doctors, have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Nishtar Medical Hospital in Multan.

“Initially, a doctor in the nephrology department contracted the virus from a kidney patient who had no symptoms of Covid-19, and then the virus began spreading across the hospital,” he said.

He said that six doctors and eight paramedics have tested positive at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Trauma Centre and Civil Hospital in Karachi. Both hospitals also have 13 suspected patients.

Another two doctors tested positive at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, and a doctor at Liaquat National Hospital who participated in the Tableeghi Jamaat ijtima has also tested positive, he said.

“An ENT professor who works at the Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar has been placed on a ventilator due to Covid-19. In Lahore, a gynaecologist who performed a cesarean delivery learned that the husband of the woman had just returned from abroad, because of which she suggested to the couple to go for Covid-19 test. Both the husband and the wife tested positive and the gynaecologist was quarantined. This shows that doctors working in other departments are also vulnerable,” he said.

Dr Sajjad added that a number of confirmed patients are asymptomatic, which means they do not have any symptoms, adding: “Such patients can transfer the disease to more people.”

He said that some doctors have suggested that they self-isolate to protect themselves, but the PMA has appealed that they do not because doing so would lead to a collapse of the entire health system.

“We fear the situation could become worse in the coming days, as 300 cases of Covid-19 were across the country on Monday,” he said.

At a press conference on Monday, Dr Mirza said 52pc of Covid-19 cases in the country were the result of local transmission, which is why it has been decided to begin proactive testing.

He said that initially, the National Institute of Health was the only laboratory that had the capacity to carry out Covid-19 tests, but that number has now increased to 27.

“Seven more labs will be functional in a few days,” he said, adding: “There was also an issue of the availability of testing kits, but we now have 600,000 kits and by April 15 that number will surpass one million. We are currently conducting 3,000 tests every day, but by the end of the month we will start conducting 20,000 to 25,000 tests every day as we require 600,000 testing kits every month.”


Murad urges centre to ban export of food items to avoid shortages

Tahir Siddiqui

April 14, 2020

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday urged the federal government to impose a ban on export of food items such as wheat, rice and pulses under the food security plan to avoid a new crisis.

“The wheat being harvested these days might be surplus but local requirements of the current year and of the next crop year must be addressed before taking any decision,” he said, adding what would happen in the next crop year could not be guessed now and there was a need to start emergency preparations.

Mr Shah said the shortages of food items could not be ruled out, if exports were allowed. “In such a situation imports would be costlier than the benefits of exports,” he said, adding: “We have to rely on our own resources at this critical time and have to ensure our food security.”

He said that keeping in view the critical situation he wanted another lockdown of 14 days, if it was approved on the national level. “The decision should be taken and announced by the prime minister and we, the provinces, would follow the decision in true letter and spirit.”

Mr Shah said that the federal government was giving Rs12,000 cash per family and suggested to the prime minister that the payments must be conditional in the sense that the recipient must observe the lockdown by staying home at least for 14 days.

The CM told the prime minister that the provincial government was meeting the expenditures of the Covid-19 tests from its resources. “We are conducting more than 90 per cent test and about 10 per cent are being done by the private sector but we are subsidising them,” he said.

He said that he was mindful of the economic situation under which exports were stopped, local financial activities came to a halt and no growth was being expected.

He requested the federal government to share the standard operating procedures it had worked out for the post-lockdown period so that they could be compared with the SOPs the provincial government had prepared. The provincial government would also share the same with the centre, he added.

Calling for developing a national narrative and action plan to combat Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Shah told a press conference here that the province-wise actions and approaches would make no difference in the country.

“Covid-19 pandemic is such a serious emergency which none of us has ever seen and even thought of, therefore, every decision to contain it must be made at the national level and provincial governments should follow them,” he added.

He said that a ‘National Action Plan’ to combat Covid-19 should be framed. “There should be a national narrative”, he said and added that the Army Public School carnage had developed national unity and subsequently a National Action Plan against terrorism came into existence.

The chief minister said that one of the provinces had its “Corona Advisory Group” which suggested further extension in the lockdown for another two weeks.

Mr Shah said that his government announced to distribute ration but the federal institutions deliberately delayed sharing the data of the deserving people, as a result his government could not start distribution of ration.

“We have released Rs1 billion for distribution of ration and philanthropists have provided 300,000 bags,” he said, adding that in this way 500,000 bags would be distributed among needy people across the province.

He said that the ration was distributed from 4am to 7am every day and it was handed over to the deserving people at their doorsteps.

Mr Shah said that his government was facing a shortage of equipment such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, testing kits, testing machines.

He said that he had ordered preparation of PPE locally but vents and testing kits and machines were required to be provided by the federal government. He thanked the federal government for providing PPE and some testing kits.

The chief minister also thanked ulema and religious scholars for their support and cooperation and understanding the situation. “I had met with them and would meet them again so that their further guidance could be sought,” he said.

The CM said that 513 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours and 41 of them were diagnosed as positive. He said one patient died during the same period.

The chief minister also disclosed that he had written a letter to the prime minister asking him to write off electricity bills of up to Rs5,000 and gas bills up to Rs2,000 to provide relief to the people.


Section 144 extended for two months across Punjab

Mohammad Asghar

April 14, 2020

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government on Monday extended Section 144 across the province, including Rawalpindi, for two months due to the rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the province.

As many as 12 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Rawalpindi district, raising the total number to 128. On the other hand, 16 confirmed patients were discharged from hospitals after they recovered from the disease.

Four of the new confirmed cases were reported from Banni and two from Pirwadhai, the district administration said.

The rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the province was termed alarming and dangerous for health of the citizens.

The government is considering it mandatory to take all pragmatic and possible measures to contain and counter further spread of coronavirus. According to Section 144 already imposed on March 16 across Punjab and further extended for two months, five or more people are barred from gathering at one point hence sports, festivals, religious congregations, ceremonies and other gatherings are banned.

“During the lockdown, no landlord shall evict any tenant forcibly, illegally or without due process of law, on account of non-payment or delay payment of the rent,” the government order stated. Following government’s directives, the police have started arresting those found violating Section 144 in different areas of Rawalpindi.

With 46 new cases, the number of suspected cases admitted to hospitals increased to 319 while 31 patients were discharged on Monday.

The local administration has also kept 570 people in quarantines in Rawalpindi. Besides, 526 people have been isolated in their houses, 32 at facilities and 12 confirmed cases are in isolation in their homes.


Kamal urges PPP, PTI govts to unify in fight against coronavirus


April 14, 2020

KARACHI: Perturbed about the recent war of words between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government, Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal has appealed to the federal and provincial governments to take coordinated and unified measures against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

“I request the federal and provincial rulers to please come on the same page and help each other in the fight against the coronavirus as alarm bells have been ringing due to the spread of the pandemic,” he said while speaking at a press conference here on Monday.

Criticising the verbal brawl between the PTI and PPP governments, he said it was beyond any comprehension that the federal and provincial governments were undecided whether to extend or lift the ongoing three-week lockdown.

He said that in view of the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation several countries in the world had put aside their differences and were taking focussed steps against the pandemic.

In a thinly veiled reference to the tit-for-tat news conferences of PTI and PPP leaders in Karachi, he said there was no country in the world where federal and provincial governments had been doing press conferences against each other at this critical juncture.

“The whole world has changed, but our rulers and politicians have not due to which the country and its people continue to suffer,” he said.

He said he wanted Prime Minister Imran Khan and all chief ministers of the provinces to sit together and evolve a concerted strategy to deal with the Covid-19 situation in the country.

“We all need to put aside our political affiliations and to take a national stance,” he said. “I ask the rulers and opposition leaders, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, to sit together and issue a joint statement.”

PSP workers to ‘surrender’ before MQM councillors Mr Kamal said that he had repeatedly been asking the government to activate the local government representatives in the country and all political parties should ask their members to work with the elected councillors to provide relief to the people.

He said the local government set-up of Karachi and Hyderabad belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and despite this, he wanted the government to empower councillors and utilise them in the fight against the coronavirus.

He said he would ask his workers to “surrender before councillors belonging to the MQM” if the government decided to activate LG representatives to deal with Covid-19.

Mr Kamal said that doctors and paramedical staff in the whole world had been working nonstop but in Pakistan our doctors were protesting against non-provision of personal protective equipment.

He expressed concern over reports that a number of doctors and paramedics fell victim to the coronavirus while treating patients.




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