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Islamic World News ( 10 March 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Will Ultra Hafiz Saeed Swear By Pak Constitution, Wonders India











Photo: Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League is likely to get registered as a political party in Pakistan.

 

Pak Army at the Heart of Baloch Rights Abuse: Activists at UNHRC

Muslims Must Practice Islam with Chinese Characteristics to Avoid Societal Division

Syria Army Bombs Splintered Ghouta Enclave As Bodies Pile Up

Afghan Commandos and Police Casualties in Taliban Ambush in Farah

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India

Will Ultra Hafiz Saeed Swear By Pak Constitution, Wonders India

School Dropout Rate among Muslim Girls Down To About 40%: Naqvi

3 Security Men Kill Selves in 4 Days in Kashmir

Sri Sri Leaves Meeting Midway In Srinagar amid Protests

Aligarh Muslim University research scholar wins reward in JNU workshop

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Pakistan

Pak Army at the Heart of Baloch Rights Abuse: Activists at UNHRC

Pakistan Court Ruling against Minorities Draws Criticism

Pakistan Foreign Minister's Face Blackened With Ink

Shoe hurled at former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan can become hub of Islamic finance, say experts

‘PTI should devise strategy to counter Maryam Nawaz’

Taliban urge religious scholars to boycott peace conference

Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Holds Reception Ceremony for Imam of Grand Holy Mosque

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Southeast Asia

Muslims Must Practice Islam with Chinese Characteristics to Avoid Societal Division

Rohingya Living in 'No Man's Land' Insist They Will Stay

Police investigate fresh anti-Muslim attack in Sri Lanka

Vandals attack Muslim-owned restaurant in Sri Lanka

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Arab World

Syria Army Bombs Splintered Ghouta Enclave As Bodies Pile Up

IS Preparing to Attack Shia Holy City, Iraq’s Security Committee Warns

IED Targets Shia Militias in Kirkuk, Kills and Injures Seven

Syrian army gains ground in intensified Ghouta assault

Food arrives in Syria's battered Eastern Ghouta

Syrian Army Frees Tens of Civilians Kidnapped by Terrorists in Eastern Ghouta

Syrian Army Regains Control of Strategic Region near Al-Tanf

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South Asia

Afghan Commandos and Police Casualties in Taliban Ambush in Farah

Afghan Official Says Taliban Attack Kills 15 Security Forces

Key Haqqani network commanders arrested in Maidan Wardak province

Afghan lawmakers elect the first deputy speaker of the Lower House

Clash among Afghan Soldiers and Militants in Laghman Province

US drones target ISIS hideouts in Nangarhar province

Explosion targets military convoy in Kandahar province

Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Helmand airstrikes

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Mideast

Hamas, Islamic Jihad Denounce US Meeting On Gaza Crisis

Salih Muslim Urges UN, US Break Silence about Afrin

Saleh Moslem: Turkey kills Kurds in Afrin with European weapons

Turkey's president Erdogan slams NATO for lack of support in Syria

British Ambassador Summoned to Iranian FM over London Embassy Raid

Spokesman: Iran Not to Surrender to West's Pressures

Turkey Vows Response to Possible US Sanctions over S-400 Deal

Turkish Troops Deploy 1 km Away from Kurdish-Held Afrin in Northern Syria

Islamic Jihad member killed in accidental explosion in northern Gaza

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Europe

Arson Attack Targets Mosque in Berlin

Muslim and Right-Wing Anti-Semitism on the German Internet

South Yorkshire Police investigating THREE reports of people receiving vile 'punish a Muslim' letters

UK police investigate anti-Muslim letters

Human Rights Official Accuses UK Police of Complicity in Raid on Iranian Embassy

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Africa

Egypt Army Says 16 Islamic State Terrorists Killed In Sinai Operation

Anchor Khariy Ramadan returns to television after being arrested for ‘wronging police’

Nigeria: 3 members of Islamic Movement summarily sentenced in Zaria released on bail

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North America

Amid Little Scrutiny, US Military Ramps Up In Afghanistan

US supports Pakistan’s integrity: Wells

Canadian ambassador in Iraq: Imam Ali a religious paragon for all religions

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/will-ultra-hafiz-saeed-swear-by-pak-constitution,-wonders-india/d/114552

 

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Will ultra Hafiz Saeed swear by Pak constitution, wonders India

Bharti Jain | TNN | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

NEW DELHI: Two days after Islamabad high court paved the way for registration of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League as a political party in Pakistan, Indian intelligence agencies underlined the sharp contradiction between his stated positions and his plan to enter electoral politics.

Pakistan court clears way for registration of Hafiz Saeed's political party

An intelligence officer pointed out Saeed’s focus on Quran and shariah or “God’s law” and his declaration on innumerable occasions that he would not submit to man-made laws, wondering if he had reconciled to supremacy of the Pakistani constitution and laws.

Read: Pakistan shielding Hafiz Saeed by mainstreaming his political party: MEA

Interestingly, Saeed’s outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was reported to be running sharia courts in Lahore. According to a report published in Pakistani daily ‘Dawn’ in 2016, the parallel judicial system was meant to dispense “speedy justice” by taking up citizens’ complaints and issuing summons carrying a warning of strict action in case of non-compliance.

The JuD, a front for banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had claimed the court functioning from its headquarters at JamiaQadsia, Chaubhurji, only offered arbitration and resolved disputes in accordance with the Islamic judicial system. However, the “summons” and strict action against non-compliance were not adequately explained. “It will be interesting to see if Saeed, in the event of his party contesting elections due this year and winning some seats, will set aside his position seeking rule of sharia,” said the official.

The second query of the intelligence agencies is if Saeed, now that he is supporting electoral politics, would issue a call to jihadi groups like LeT and affiliates to contest polls. “He cannot engage in lawful political activity and at the same time carry out jihadi activities through other outfits like LeT,” he said.

MEA had on Friday slammed the Pakistani establishment’s attempt to mainstream Saeed by letting him engage in electoral politics. Reacting to the Islamabad HC order allowing Milli Muslim League to be registered as a political party, thus paving the way for it to contest elections, an MEA spokesperson said Pakistan’s duplicity in taking action against terrorists operating from its soil had been exposed.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/will-ultra-hafiz-saeed-swear-by-pak-constitution-wonders-india/articleshow/63251343.cms

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Pak army at the heart of Baloch rights abuse: Activists at UNHRC

ANI | Mar 10, 2018

GENEVA: Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence agencies are at the heart of the continuing human rights violations in that country's Balochistan province, claimed three senior Baloch activists in separate addresses at the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) being held in Geneva.

"I would like to draw the attention of this council towards the human rights situation in Balochistan. The Baloch people continue to face worst forms of atrocities and human rights abuses at the hands of Pakistani security forces," said Abdul Nawaz Bugti, a representative of Baloch Republican Party (BRP), to the UNHRC.

"Enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial murders of Baloch political activists, human rights defenders and students by state agencies continue unabated. 173 Baloch people have been abducted by the Pakistani authorities since the start of this year and 91 people have been extra-judicially murdered," he added.

Another BRP activist Jawad Muhammad said, "Pakistan has always tried to silence any voices being raised on human rights abuses in Balochistan as 'internal matter' while human rights are universal and any violations should be a global concern. We urge the members of this council to speak up on the situation in Balochistan and help prevent the gross human rights violations from escalating."

Baloch Voice Association President MunirMengal said, "Unfortunately, enforced disappearance and systematic abduction of females is being used by the Islamic State as a tool to rule and dominate Balochistan. They are being held as sex slaves in military torture cells becoming victims of extra-judicial torture. The international community must act to hold perpetrators accountable and to take effective measures to provide justice and remedy to the victims and survivors."

On Thursday, the BRP organised a car rally in Geneva through which it highlighted the war crimes being committed in Pakistan. Participating cars were adorned with the banners and advertisements of "Save Baloch People from Pakistani war crimes in Balochistan".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-army-at-the-heart-of-baloch-rights-abuse-say-activists-at-unhrc/articleshow/63244241.cms

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Muslims must practice Islam with Chinese characteristics to avoid societal division

By Liu CaiyuSource:Global Times Published: 2018/3/11

A Chinese official on Saturday warned against widespread halal consumption and religion interfering with everyday life, with observers noting that such changes would lead to "societal division."

As a result of complicated and ever-changing religious dynamics around the world, Islam in China has prompted concerns that should not be ignored, such as Chinese mosques conspicuously imitating foreign architecture and some areas mass-adopting the concept of halal.

Yang Faming, who heads the China Islamic Association, made the remark on Saturday during the first session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held in Beijing.

"Religion interferes with the secular lives of the people, with some people paying more attention to religion than to national laws, whom solely label themselves as believers not [Chinese] citizens," Yang said.

Overemphasis on religious ways of life would cause religion to expand into other social spheres, including secular society, and eventually lead one group to separate from the rest of society, Shen Guiping, a religious expert at the Central Institute of Socialism, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"It would be a public problem by then and result in societal division," Shen said.

When religious Chinese people strictly follow the Islam that originated in the Middle East without sinicizing it, the types of doctrines stemming from this form of Islam challenge China's national laws, Shen added.

Developed and surviving religions have to adapt to the country, its society and its culture, Yang said.

Yang also called for the adoption of core socialist values, the preservation of traditional Chinese culture and the implementation of a course on patriotism for Muslims across the country.

Religious ceremonies, cultures and architecture should also feature signature Chinese characteristics, the effort of which would be interpreted as and would emphasize the fight against religious extremism, said Yang.

globaltimes.cn/content/1092748.shtml

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Syria army bombs splintered Ghouta enclave as bodies pile up

AFPMarch 11, 2018

New air strikes and barrel bombs pounded Syria's Eastern Ghouta on Sunday as government forces pressed a three-week advance that splintered the rebel enclave and trapped dozens under collapsed buildings.

Defying global calls for a ceasefire, Syria's government has pursued a ferocious Russian-backed air campaign and ground offensive to capture the region, the last rebel bastion on the capital's doorstep.

In three weeks of fighting, it has overrun more than half the area and split the remainder into three pockets, isolating the urban hub of Douma from the rest of the enclave.

On Sunday, government troops battered the edges of each pocket with air raids, barrel bombs, and rockets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

“The clashes are focused now around the town of Medeira, which lies at the centre of the three zones and where rebels are putting up fierce resistance,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Bombing runs hit several other towns including Arbin, where at least three civilians were killed.

The deaths bring the total toll from the offensive to at least 1,102 civilians, according to the monitor.

They include dozens of decomposing bodies still trapped under pulverised residential blocks in the towns of Hammuriyeh, Saqba, and Misraba.

In Hammuriyeh, AFP's correspondent saw a young man scrambling frantically over the rubble of a collapsed building in search of his loved ones.

His father, mother, and three siblings were killed in an air raid, but rescue workers have been unable to pull them out.

Bodies pile up

Hassaan, a 30-year-old rescue worker, said there were around 20 more families under the rubble.

“We need heavy machinery to get them out, but we can't bring the machines out into the streets because the regime may bomb them,” he said.

In the main town of Douma, bodies piled up in the morgue as bombardment prevented families from reaching the cemetery, AFP's correspondent there said.

Families grew desperate for news of loved ones who had fled to other areas that were now inaccessible.

On Saturday, Syrian troops and allied militia cut off the main road leading out of Douma in a major blow to beleaguered rebels attempting to defend their enclave.

Government forces also captured the town of Misraba.

Some residents fled from the advancing troops, but dozens stayed as soldiers recaptured their neighbourhoods.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported on Sunday that troops transported “dozens of civilians, including women and children,” from Misraba to temporary shelters in government-held zones.

The Observatory told AFP that Misraba was left abandoned after 75 to 100 people were moved out of the town by regime forces.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is keen to recapture Eastern Ghouta from rebels, who have used the region as a launch pad for attacks on the capital.

In recent years, government forces and pro-regime militias have recaptured several areas around Damascus and other parts of war-ravaged Syria from rebels by pursuing fierce military offensives culminating in evacuation deals.

Officials mull evacuation

Officials from Hammuriyeh were on Sunday considering such an evacuation after talks with the regime, a negotiator and the Observatory told AFP.

A delegation from the town met government representatives on Saturday and discussed a proposal that would offer safe passage to rebels and civilians who want to leave, a member of the Hammuriyeh delegation said.

“The committee is meeting on Sunday to take a decision and inform the regime,” the delegate told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Observatory confirmed talks were taking place on Hammuriyeh as well as the towns of Jisreen and Saqba.

The two main rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta have firmly and repeatedly denied negotiating with the Syrian regime.

Faylaq al-Rahman, the opposition faction that holds Hammuriyeh, insisted late on Saturday there were “no direct or indirect negotiations” on an evacuation.

Eastern Ghouta is home to around 400,000 people living under a crippling government siege since 2013.

The United Nations has demanded a month-long ceasefire there to allow for aid to be brought in and for desperately sick and wounded civilians to seek treatment.

dawn.com/news/1394604/syria-army-bombs-splintered-ghouta-enclave-as-bodies-pile-up

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Afghan commandos and police casualties in Taliban ambush in Farah

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the casualties of the Afghan commandos and police forces in a Taliban ambush in western Farah province of Afghanistan.

The head of the provincial council FaridBakhtawar confirms that fifteen security personnel have lost their lives in Taliban’s ambush in BalaBolok district.

Bakhtawar further added that seven Special Operations Forces personnel and eight policemen were among those killed in the ambush.

However, another source says at least thirty security personnel have lost their lives in Taliban attack in BalaBolok district.

The security personnel were apparently on their way to support the security forces during an attack on the outposts.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri confirms the casualties of the security personnel in Taliban ambush.

According to Gen. Waziri, at least four commandos of the Afghan army have lost their lives in the attack.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility behind the attack and claims that more than 50 security personnel were killed in the attack.

The group also claims that several weapons and ammunition belonging to the Special Forces were confiscated in the aftermath of the attack.

khaama.com/afghan-commandos-and-police-casualties-in-taliban-ambush-in-farah-04617/

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India

Will ultra Hafiz Saeed swear by Pak constitution, wonders India

Bharti Jain | TNN | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

NEW DELHI: Two days after Islamabad high court paved the way for registration of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League as a political party in Pakistan, Indian intelligence agencies underlined the sharp contradiction between his stated positions and his plan to enter electoral politics.

Pakistan court clears way for registration of Hafiz Saeed's political party

An intelligence officer pointed out Saeed’s focus on Quran and shariah or “God’s law” and his declaration on innumerable occasions that he would not submit to man-made laws, wondering if he had reconciled to supremacy of the Pakistani constitution and laws.

Read: Pakistan shielding Hafiz Saeed by mainstreaming his political party: MEA

Interestingly, Saeed’s outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) was reported to be running sharia courts in Lahore. According to a report published in Pakistani daily ‘Dawn’ in 2016, the parallel judicial system was meant to dispense “speedy justice” by taking up citizens’ complaints and issuing summons carrying a warning of strict action in case of non-compliance.

The JuD, a front for banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had claimed the court functioning from its headquarters at JamiaQadsia, Chaubhurji, only offered arbitration and resolved disputes in accordance with the Islamic judicial system. However, the “summons” and strict action against non-compliance were not adequately explained. “It will be interesting to see if Saeed, in the event of his party contesting elections due this year and winning some seats, will set aside his position seeking rule of sharia,” said the official.

The second query of the intelligence agencies is if Saeed, now that he is supporting electoral politics, would issue a call to jihadi groups like LeT and affiliates to contest polls. “He cannot engage in lawful political activity and at the same time carry out jihadi activities through other outfits like LeT,” he said.

MEA had on Friday slammed the Pakistani establishment’s attempt to mainstream Saeed by letting him engage in electoral politics. Reacting to the Islamabad HC order allowing Milli Muslim League to be registered as a political party, thus paving the way for it to contest elections, an MEA spokesperson said Pakistan’s duplicity in taking action against terrorists operating from its soil had been exposed.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/will-ultra-hafiz-saeed-swear-by-pak-constitution-wonders-india/articleshow/63251343.cms

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School dropout rate among Muslim girls down to about 40%: Naqvi

March 11, 2018

The Minority Affairs Minister says focus of his Ministry this year will be on better education and employment-oriented skill development of girls

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said the school dropout rate among Muslim girls has come down to about 40 per cent from over 70 per cent. He said the government was working towards bringing it down to zero per cent.

“Education is the golden key to guarantee of constitutional and social security of girls; we should take it as a mission to make education our first priority,” a press statement issued by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) quoted Naqvi as saying. The minister said this while addressing “Taleem-o-Tarbiyat” programme at Anjuman-i-Islam Girls High School at Bandra in Mumbai on Saturday, according to the release. He said the government had been working towards educational empowerment of minorities, especially girls, on priority basis.

Naqvi said the focus of the Ministry of Minority Affairs this year would be on better education and employment-oriented skill development of girls. He said the Central government would provide financial assistance to those institutes being established and being run on Waqf properties and were engaged in educational activities, especially educational empowerment of girls. The Central government will award those “Mutawallis” who perform well in management of Waqf properties to ensure utilisation of these properties for betterment of the society, especially educational empowerment of girls.

Naqvi mentioned a “record increase of Rs 505 crore” in the budget of his ministry for the year 2018-19, and said it would be helpful in socio-economic-educational empowerment of minorities, “especially in effective implementation of programmes aimed at educational development of girls”.

Naqvi also inaugurated drinking water and toilet facilities at the school on the occasion, said the release.

thestatesman.com/india/school-dropout-rate-among-muslim-girls-40-mukhtar-abbas-naqvi-1502599495.html

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3 security men kill selves in 4 days in Kashmir

M SaleemPandit | TNN | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

SRINAGAR: One Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper shot himself with his service rifle in Srinagar on Saturday, taking the number of suicides among security men to three in the last four days in the strife-torn Valley.

PurkaSukhdev of the 79 battalion committed suicide at his base camp in Sonwar. Sukhdev was a resident of Telangana's Adilabad district and had just got back to the camp after a holiday, said CRPF inspector general, Ravi Deep Sahi.

Two Army men of the Rashtritya Rifles had committed suicide on Wednesday and Thursday in Kupwara. On March 8, sepoy Shankar Singh, 31, shot himself with his service rifle in Warnow area. On March 7, sepoyBirender Sinha, committed suicide at an Army base in Langate area.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/3-security-men-kill-selves-in-4-days-in-kashmir/articleshow/63251944.cms

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Sri Sri leaves meeting midway in Srinagar amid protests

M SaleemPandit | TNN | Mar 10, 2018

SRINAGAR: Spiritual guru and Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reportedly had to cut short his speech and a subsequent press conference after several people stood up and started shouting anti-India and pro-azadi slogans at a function here on Saturday.

The function, titled ‘Paigam-e-Mohabbat’, ran into controversy after some participants alleged that they were brought by the organisers with the promise that their bank loans would be waived on the spot. Some were told that they will receive sewing machines at the function.

“We were told that a Muslim cleric is the speaker and an NGO will distribute cricket kits,” a participant Mohammad Altaf, who had come from northern Kupwara district, around 110km from the venue, told reporters.

Local media reported that over 1,000 people had been brought to the event from far off areas of the valley.

Videos of protests at the function were uploaded on social media and went viral.

A press release issued by Art of Living said: “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar called upon the community, especially the youths, to engage in the process of peace restoration in the Paradise on Earth, which has been gripped by violence and unrest over the past decades.”

Lesser known Jammu Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC), the organisers of the function, said the idea behind holding this event was to find a lasting solution to the age-old Kashmir conflict.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sri-sri-leaves-meeting-midway-in-srinagar-amid-protests/articleshow/63249914.cms

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Aligarh Muslim University research scholar wins reward in JNU workshop

TNN | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

DELHI: On the occasion of two-day Indian Sign Language Workshop titled ‘Sign and Learn: The Differential Modes of Language Communication’ held at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Momin Ali, student of Aligarh Muslim University with his group has adjudged best poster making winner. Ali is pursuing his PhD (English Language Teaching) under the supervision of Dr Vibha Sharma, Associate Professor , Department of English, AMU. Workshop was organized by the Linguistic Empowerment Cell, JNU.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/aligarh-muslim-university-research-scholar-wins-reward-in-jnu-workshop/articleshow/63254726.cms

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Pakistan

Pak army at the heart of Baloch rights abuse: Activists at UNHRC

ANI | Mar 10, 2018

GENEVA: Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence agencies are at the heart of the continuing human rights violations in that country's Balochistan province, claimed three senior Baloch activists in separate addresses at the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) being held in Geneva.

"I would like to draw the attention of this council towards the human rights situation in Balochistan. The Baloch people continue to face worst forms of atrocities and human rights abuses at the hands of Pakistani security forces," said Abdul Nawaz Bugti, a representative of Baloch Republican Party (BRP), to the UNHRC.

"Enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial murders of Baloch political activists, human rights defenders and students by state agencies continue unabated. 173 Baloch people have been abducted by the Pakistani authorities since the start of this year and 91 people have been extra-judicially murdered," he added.

Another BRP activist Jawad Muhammad said, "Pakistan has always tried to silence any voices being raised on human rights abuses in Balochistan as 'internal matter' while human rights are universal and any violations should be a global concern. We urge the members of this council to speak up on the situation in Balochistan and help prevent the gross human rights violations from escalating."

Baloch Voice Association President MunirMengal said, "Unfortunately, enforced disappearance and systematic abduction of females is being used by the Islamic State as a tool to rule and dominate Balochistan. They are being held as sex slaves in military torture cells becoming victims of extra-judicial torture. The international community must act to hold perpetrators accountable and to take effective measures to provide justice and remedy to the victims and survivors."

On Thursday, the BRP organised a car rally in Geneva through which it highlighted the war crimes being committed in Pakistan. Participating cars were adorned with the banners and advertisements of "Save Baloch People from Pakistani war crimes in Balochistan".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-army-at-the-heart-of-baloch-rights-abuse-say-activists-at-unhrc/articleshow/63244241.cms

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Pakistan court ruling against minorities draws criticism

AP | Mar 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Rights activists in Pakistan are expressing concern over a court ruling that would require people to declare their religion on all official documents, saying it could lead to the persecution of minorities, particularly adherents of the Ahmadi faith.

The Islamabad High Court ruling on Friday also requires that citizens take a religious oath upon joining the civil service, armed forces or judiciary.

Zohra Yusuf, a board member at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, on Sunday called the ruling "very dangerous." She said her group would issue a statement in the coming days.

The ruling appeared to be aimed at Ahmadis, who revere the 19th century founder of their faith as a prophet. Pakistan declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974. They already face widespread discrimination and are often targeted by extremists.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-court-ruling-against-minorities-draws-criticism/articleshow/63254414.cms

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Pakistan foreign minister's face blackened with ink

PTI | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

Khawaja Asif's face was blackened with ink by a religious extremist when he was addressing his party's workers' convention in Punjab.

The suspect said, "Asif's party had tried to change the finality of Prophet Mohammad in the Constitution which hurt his sentiments."

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. (AP File Photo)Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. (AP File Photo)

LAHORE: Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif's face was blackened with ink by a religious extremist when he was addressing his party's workers' convention in Punjab province of the country late Saturday night.

The suspect, who was thrashed by the party workers before being handed over to police, allegedly said that Asif's party had tried to change the finality of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in the Constitution which hurt his sentiments.

Asif was speaking at the PML-N workers' convention in Sialkot, his hometown (some 100km from Lahore), when a middle-aged man with long beard, who was standing close to him, threw ink on his face.

The workers grabbed the man and thrashed him before handing him over to police. The foreign minister was escorted by his guard after the incident. However, after washing his face, Asif returned and completed his speech.

"I do not know this man. It appears my opponents had given him some money to throw ink at me but I pardon this man and will ask the police to release him," the minister said, adding this incident does not affect his politics.

"Such an incident adds sympathy for him," he said.

Meanwhile, the Sialkot city police identified the man who threw ink as FaizRasool.

"Rasool doesn't have any connection with any political party. He told police in his statement that he threw ink at the foreign minister because his party had tried to change the finality of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in the Constitution. This hurt the sentiments of millions of Pakistanis including his," a police officer quoted Rasool as having said in his statement.

He said since the minister is not interested in getting an FIR registered against Rasool, police will set him free after meeting all legal requirements.

Pakistan's Law Minister Zahid Hamid had to resign last November when hundreds of Tehreek-e-Labbaik supporters camped at Islamabad's Faizabad traffic interchange, forcing the PML-N government to take action against those in the federal cabinet responsible for attempting to change this clause from the Constitution.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-foreign-ministers-face-blackened-with-ink/articleshow/63253859.cms

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Shoe hurled at former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

A shoe was hurled at former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while he was addressing a gathering in Lahore

Though visibly shaken, Sharif was not hurt in the attack

Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, too, came under attack from a religious extremist who blackened his face with ink

A video grab of the incident.Shoe hurled at former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

NEW DELHI: A shoe was hurled at former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while he was addressing a gathering in Lahore on Sunday, the country's media reported.

The shoe hit the leader of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) on his shoulder, reported The Express Tribune.

The perpetrator has been identified as a former student of the JamiaNaeemia seminary, where Sharif was scheduled to deliver an address, reported Geo TV.

The student also managed to come in front of Sharif and chant "LabbaikYaRasoolullah", reported PTI.

Security personnel caught him and his accomplice and gave them a thrashing.

Though visibly shaken, Sharif was not hurt in the attack.

While the former PM did go ahead with his speech, he reportedly shortened it.

Religious parties, especially Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, had held Sharif and his party responsible for making an attempt to change a clause related to the finality of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in the Constitution, reported PTI.

@TimesNow

Video showing a shoe being thrown at the former Pak PM

Just yesterday, Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, too, came under attack from a religious extremist who blackened his face with ink.

The suspect was thrashed before being handed over to the police. Asif, however, said he was not interested in getting an FIR registered against him.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/shoe-hurled-at-former-pak-pm-nawaz-sharif/articleshow/63255161.cms

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Pakistan can become hub of Islamic finance, say expertsSHARE TWEET

By Usman HanifPublished: March 11, 2018

KARACHI: Pakistan has all the ingredients necessary to become a hub of Islamic finance, financial experts stated after it was revealed that the country would host the World Islamic Finance Forum (WIFF) 2018.

“Islamic finance is growing in Pakistan and the country will emerge as an Islamic finance hub by 2025,” said Takaful Pakistan Chief Executive Rizwan Hussain.

“When it comes to Islamic banking, people talk about Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the UAE, etc, but few people mention Pakistan which has a huge potential for growth of Islamic finance,” remarked Dr Ishrat Husain, Chairman of the Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance (CEIF) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi.

According to a survey, 76% people in Pakistan said they would prefer Islamic finance if they had a choice with only 13-14% preferring conventional banking, he said.

CEIF-IBA is organising the forum in collaboration with the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) and International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), set up by the Central Bank of Malaysia.

Investments to end hunger can help improve economy

Shaikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Chairman Board of Trustees of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), would be the chief guest at WIFF 2018.

The forum would bring together researchers, academicians and practitioners for generating innovative ideas to stimulate growth of Islamic finance while overcoming present-day industry challenges, Husain said.

“Pakistan lacks awareness of Islamic banking due to shortage of human resources which is why a large number of people consider Islamic banking to be the same as conventional banking,” said Meezan Bank President Irfan Siddiqui.

Experts from global Islamic finance hubs including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Malaysia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are participating in the conference. Additionally, speakers from Bosnia-Herzegovina, USA, the UK, Turkey and China are also participating.

IBA Dean and Director Dr Farrukh Iqbal said research papers and presentation of case studies at WIFF 2018 would focus on areas crucial for the expansion of Islamic finance industry.

Around 50 speakers representing regulatory bodies, Islamic finance infrastructure institutions, Islamic banks/windows, asset management companies, advisory firms and Takaful players will be part of the event.

Farrukh said research papers/case studies would be appraised by a renowned committee of practitioners and Shariah scholars.

First position has a reward of $5,000 whereas the second and third position-holders will be awarded $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.

Furthermore, three consolation prizes of $500 each will be given in the conference.

Meezan Bank President Irfan Siddiqui called WIFF 2018 a unique conference that would bring together researchers, academicians and practitioners for generating innovative ideas to expand Islamic finance through innovation, use of fintechs and regulations.

Against this backdrop, the role envisaged for various stakeholders, especially the regulator, to expand the outreach will be discussed by Islamic finance visionaries at the conference.

tribune.com.pk/story/1656643/1-pakistan-can-become-hub-islamic-finance-say-experts/

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‘PTI should devise strategy to counter Maryam Nawaz’

IkramJunaidiUpdated March 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) should devise a strategy for Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who could be a major challenge for the party in the upcoming general election, participants of the PTI Social Media Summit said on Saturday.

Speaking to Dawn, participants also said the party should begin campaigning across the country immediately.

Social media activists and young party workers from across the country attended the summit at a local hotel on Saturday to devise a strategy for the party.

Shahid Imran, on overseas Pakistan who travelled from Kamalia, said the Ms Nawaz’ public meetings were damaging the PTI, and the party should devise a strategy to counter the narrative being built by the PML-N.

Participants at PTI Social Media Summit identify Maryam Nawaz, party’s ‘absence’ from rural areas as challenges in upcoming elections

“Mr Khan should also hold public meeting across the country, in which he should inform the masses that Maryam Nawaz was involved in preparing forged documents and that she has been trying to misguide the people of Pakistan. Otherwise it will not be possible to counter Ms Nawaz,” he said.

“Moreover, it is a fact that the PTI does not exist in 70pc of the country’s rural areas. On the other hand, the PML-N gives tickets to electables who also carry their own votes, which increases the chances of getting seats. The PTI should also give tickets to electables in the upcoming general election,” Mr Imran added.

He said that although social media is important, it may not be as effective in rural areas as it is in urban ones. If the PTI wants to make the next federal government, he said, it should work on the ground in rural areas.

Mohammad Fawad from Multan also said the PTI “does not exist in rural areas”.

“On the other hand, the Maryam Nawaz factor is also damaging the party, so there is a need to work hard. We need to convince the masses that a vote in the favour of the PML-N will go against the future of the country,” he said.

As he understands it, he said, the PTI is going to launch a web portal to raise awareness about positive measures taken by the party and its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Mr Fawad also hoped that the portal would be used to raise awareness about the PML-N government’s alleged corruption.

A Mass Communications student at a local university, SurmatKiani, also suggested the PTI pay more attention to on-the-ground work to sway voters.

“A few months ago, the PML-N became unpopular and unacceptable among the masses. But it is a fact that continuous public meetings by Maryam Nawaz and the way she speaks has damaged the PTI. We need to work hard if we want to win general elections,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rawalpindi resident Malik Daaim, who is in the mobile phone business, emphasised the role of social media and also claimed that although Ms Nawaz is a challenge for the PTI, the Sharif family would leave Pakistan if the PML-N loses the general election.

“The people of Pakistan are aware that the Sharif family has already shifted its wealth, businesses and property out of the country, so they might not stay in Pakistan.

“We just have to raise awareness among the masses that only the PTI can change the country’s fate. Social media can play a vital role in raising awareness; nowadays, almost everyone uses a smartphone, because of which he constantly gets information through social media,” he said.

Mr Daaim also suggested the party leadership hold public meetings across the country to counter the PML-N.

Ms Nawaz also came up during PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s speech at the summit, who claimed she ‘copied’ the PTI’s ideas.

Mr Khan said the PTI had been “far ahead” of the PML-N in the field of social media, but the PML-N had now caught up to them “by using a huge amount of money”.

He added: “I have a number of new ideas and they will be implemented in the next 45 days. However, I am not going to share them with the participants because otherwise Maryam Nawaz will copy them and will start using them.”

dawn.com/news/1394454/pti-should-devise-strategy-to-counter-maryam-nawaz

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Taliban urge religious scholars to boycott peace conference

ReutersUpdated March 11, 2018

KABUL: The Taliban urged Islamic scholars on Saturday not to take part in a conference due to take place in Indonesia aimed at building agreement and support for possible future peace talks in Afghanistan.

The call follows President Ashraf Ghani’s offer last month to hold peace talks with the Taliban and comes as international powers have sought to build pressure on the movement to accept negotiations to end more than 16 years of war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have so far proved unresponsive to the offer. And on Saturday they said the proposed conference of religious scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia was merely intended to “legitimize the presence of infidel invaders in the Islamic country of Afghanistan”.

The conference, proposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in January and due to be held later this month, was an effort to present “the sacred Jihad in Afghanistan ... as unlawful bloodshed”, the Taliban said in a statement.

“Do not afford an opportunity to the invading infidels in Afghanistan to misuse your name and participation in this conference as means of attaining their malicious objective.”

Fighting to drive out international forces and re-establish their version of strict Islamic law, the Tali­ban control or contest large areas of Afghanistan and inflict heavy casualties on government security forces.

They have offered to talk to the United States about a possible peace agreement but have so far ruled out direct talks with the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they say is an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.

Despite their unpromising rhetoric, however, Western diplomats say that efforts have been intensifying behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for possible future talks with regular contacts through intermediaries.

At the same time, the United States has stepped up battlefield pressure, notably through air strikes on the Taliban as Afgha­nistan’s international partners have sought to build up diplomatic support from neighbouring countries to push the movement to the negotiating table.

dawn.com/news/1394531/taliban-urge-religious-scholars-to-boycott-peace-conference

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Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Holds Reception Ceremony for Imam of Grand Holy Mosque

Sunday 1439/6/23 - 2018/03/11

Islamabad, Jumada II 23, 1439, March 11, 2018, SPA -- Saudi Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki held here today a reception ceremony honoring Imam and Preacher of the Grand Holy Mosque in Makkah Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Mohammed Al Talib currently visiting Pakistan.

The ceremony was attended by a number of ministers, senior Pakistani government officials, scholars, sheikhs, directors of Saudi offices in Pakistan and Embassy staff.

spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=1735616

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Southeast Asia

Muslims must practice Islam with Chinese characteristics to avoid societal division

By Liu CaiyuSource:Global Times Published: 2018/3/11

A Chinese official on Saturday warned against widespread halal consumption and religion interfering with everyday life, with observers noting that such changes would lead to "societal division."

As a result of complicated and ever-changing religious dynamics around the world, Islam in China has prompted concerns that should not be ignored, such as Chinese mosques conspicuously imitating foreign architecture and some areas mass-adopting the concept of halal.

Yang Faming, who heads the China Islamic Association, made the remark on Saturday during the first session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held in Beijing.

"Religion interferes with the secular lives of the people, with some people paying more attention to religion than to national laws, whom solely label themselves as believers not [Chinese] citizens," Yang said.

Overemphasis on religious ways of life would cause religion to expand into other social spheres, including secular society, and eventually lead one group to separate from the rest of society, Shen Guiping, a religious expert at the Central Institute of Socialism, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"It would be a public problem by then and result in societal division," Shen said.

When religious Chinese people strictly follow the Islam that originated in the Middle East without sinicizing it, the types of doctrines stemming from this form of Islam challenge China's national laws, Shen added.

Developed and surviving religions have to adapt to the country, its society and its culture, Yang said.

Yang also called for the adoption of core socialist values, the preservation of traditional Chinese culture and the implementation of a course on patriotism for Muslims across the country.

Religious ceremonies, cultures and architecture should also feature signature Chinese characteristics, the effort of which would be interpreted as and would emphasize the fight against religious extremism, said Yang.

globaltimes.cn/content/1092748.shtml

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Rohingya living in 'no man's land' insist they will stay

AP | Mar 10, 2018

ALONG THE BANGLADESH-MYANMAR BORDER: From their home, a tent hastily erected in a grassy field, the young Muslim Rohingya couple can see the village they left behind last year, fleeing attacks by Buddhist mobs and Myanmar security forces.

They arrived in a no man's land, one of the small, ill-defined areas that exist at the cloudiest edges of the borderlands, places that seem to be neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh. While nearly every other Rohingya refugee who crossed the border has sought protection in the immense camps a few miles deeper into Bangladesh, these people say they will go no farther.

"My ancestors' graves are there," said Abdul Naser, gesturing toward his village, less than 100 meters (yards) away. "Sometimes, I walk close to the barbed wire fence and touch my land, and I cry in the dark."

But a few weeks ago things changed. Myanmar deployed more soldiers to the border, some of whom began coming to within 10 meters (yards) of the refugees' homes. They shout insults at the Rohingya, the refugees say, they throw empty whiskey bottles. They have set up speakers that blare announcements, insisting people go further into Bangladesh.

Because to Myanmar, no man's land doesn't exist at all.

"We cannot accept the term `no man's land' because that is our land," said Nyan MyintKyaw, Myanmar's deputy commander of the border police. Shifting rivers may have washed away some border markers, he says, and fences may not have been erected everywhere. But he insists the 6,000 or so Rohingya who think they live between the two countries are actually living inside Myanmar.

It is easy to get confused on the border, where many areas are not marked at all and where it's sometimes unclear if a fence marks someone's personal land, or if it demarcates the frontier. Making things more complicated, Myanmar places its border fences 150 feet from the actual boundary line.

While Myanmar insists all the hazy territory is their land, its security forces as well as Bangladesh security forces are also very careful to avoid entering places seen as a no man's land, presumably fearing accidental clashes and diplomatic trouble.

Myanmar says the additional soldiers were deployed to stop possible cross-border attacks by Rohingya militants, though no such attacks are known to have occurred. When Bangladesh protested the deployments, Myanmar dismissed their complaints.

"This is not like we are trying to invade Bangladesh," Myanmar spokesman ZawHtay said in early March. "These are only actions taken against the terrorist groups.''

The Rohingya have long lived at the ragged fringes of life in Myanmar, denied citizenship and many of the most basic rights. They are derided as ``Bengalis'' and many in Myanmar believe they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Muslims in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, most live in poverty in Myanmar's Rakhine state, next to Bangladesh.

The most recent problems began in August, when Rohingya insurgents launched a series of unprecedented attacks on Myanmar security posts. Myanmar responded with overwhelming force, burning Muslim villages with the help of Buddhist mobs, raping women, looting homes and carrying out massacres. Some 700,000 Rohingya fled the attacks into Bangladesh. Aid groups say more than 6,700 people were killed.

The UN refugee agency has appealed for protection for the borderland Rohingya.

The agency ``is concerned about the safety of a group of vulnerable Rohingya women, men and children from Myanmar, who have been living in a so-called `no man's land,''' it said in a statement. ``People who have fled violence in their country must be granted safety and protection.''

But is the no man's land inside Myanmar? Even the Rohingya say some of it probably is, though there are plenty of places where even border guards aren't sure where to find the dividing line.

A Rohingya community leader says most of the 6,000 in the borderlands are from nearby villages.

``They do not want to leave the place or enter Bangladesh, hoping that they will go back one day and it will be easier to move from here,'' Dil Mohammed said.

The young Rohingya couple agreed with him. They want to keep their village in sight. Or at least what's left of it.

``My trees are still there,'' said Naser's wife, 20-year-old Ruksana Begum. ``It's spring now. I can see the green leaves of my mango trees. They have burned our homes but my trees are still growing.''

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/rohingya-living-in-no-mans-land-insist-they-will-stay/articleshow/63244038.cms

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Police investigate fresh anti-Muslim attack in Sri Lanka

AFP | Mar 11, 2018

COLOMBO: Vandals attacked a Muslim-owned restaurant in Sri Lanka on Sunday in an alleged "hate crime", police said, as tensions remain high across the island following a week of violent riots.

The restaurant in Anamaduwa — 130 kilometres (81 miles) north of the capital Colombo — was targeted despite police being on high alert after a spate of anti-Muslim attacks.

The government declared a state of emergency last week as 11 mosques were torched and 200 Muslim-owned businesses destroyed in riots by Sinhalese mobs that left at least three people dead and around 20 wounded.

A curfew was lifted in the central district of Kandy, the epicentre of the violence, but soldiers remained on the streets, equipped with emergency powers to detain people to maintain law and order.

Some social media networks including Facebook remain blocked across Sri Lanka. Officials say this was done to prevent the spread of hate speech against Muslims.

A senior police official said disciplinary action would be taken against officers in the Anamaduwa area for failing to prevent the restaurant attack.

"We are treating this as a hate crime. An investigation is on to identify those responsible," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced Saturday that he will appoint a three-member panel of retired judges to investigate the unrest that drew concern from rights groups and the international community.

Police were deployed to mosques across Sri Lanka on Friday to guard worshippers from the island's minority Muslim community during weekly prayers. There were no reports of violence.

Muslims make up 10 percent of Sri Lanka's 21 million people. The majority are Sinhalese, a largely Buddhist ethnic group.

Hundreds of Buddhist monks and activists staged demonstrations in Colombo Friday, denouncing violence and urging authorities to punish those responsible.

Police said nearly 150 people were arrested over the violence, including the suspected leader AmithWeerasinghe, a Sinhalese man known for anti-Muslim activism and outspoken social media posts.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/police-investigate-fresh-anti-muslim-attack-in-sri-lanka/articleshow/63255454.cms

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Vandals attack Muslim-owned restaurant in Sri Lanka

Mar 11, 2018

In an alleged case of "hate crime", police said vandals attacked a Muslim-owned restaurant in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

The restaurant in Anamaduwa -- 130 kilometres north of the capital Colombo -- was targeted despite police being on high alert after a series of anti-Muslim attacks.

A senior police official said disciplinary action would be taken against officers in the Anamaduwa area for failing to prevent the restaurant attack.

"We are treating this as a hate crime. An investigation is on to identify those responsible," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Tensions remain high on the island country following a week of violent riots that left at least three people dead and around 20 injured.

Last week, the government declared a state of emergency as 11 mosques were torched and 200 Muslim-owned businesses destroyed in riots by Sinhalese mobs.

A curfew was lifted in the central district of Kandy, the epicentre of the violence, but soldiers remained on the streets, equipped with emergency powers to detain people to maintain law and order.

Some social media networks including Facebook remain blocked across Sri Lanka. Officials say this was done to prevent the spread of hate speech against Muslims.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced Saturday that he will appoint a three-member panel of retired judges to investigate the unrest that drew concern from rights groups and the international community.

Hundreds of Buddhist monks and activists staged demonstrations in Colombo on Friday, denouncing violence and urging authorities to punish those responsible.

Nearly 150 people were arrested over the violence, police said, including the suspected leader AmithWeerasinghe, a Sinhalese  known for anti-Muslim activism and outspoken social media posts.

wionews.com/south-asia/vandals-attack-muslim-owned-restaurant-in-sri-lanka-35395

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Arab World

Syria army bombs splintered Ghouta enclave as bodies pile up

AFPMarch 11, 2018

New air strikes and barrel bombs pounded Syria's Eastern Ghouta on Sunday as government forces pressed a three-week advance that splintered the rebel enclave and trapped dozens under collapsed buildings.

Defying global calls for a ceasefire, Syria's government has pursued a ferocious Russian-backed air campaign and ground offensive to capture the region, the last rebel bastion on the capital's doorstep.

In three weeks of fighting, it has overrun more than half the area and split the remainder into three pockets, isolating the urban hub of Douma from the rest of the enclave.

On Sunday, government troops battered the edges of each pocket with air raids, barrel bombs, and rockets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

“The clashes are focused now around the town of Medeira, which lies at the centre of the three zones and where rebels are putting up fierce resistance,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Bombing runs hit several other towns including Arbin, where at least three civilians were killed.

The deaths bring the total toll from the offensive to at least 1,102 civilians, according to the monitor.

They include dozens of decomposing bodies still trapped under pulverised residential blocks in the towns of Hammuriyeh, Saqba, and Misraba.

In Hammuriyeh, AFP's correspondent saw a young man scrambling frantically over the rubble of a collapsed building in search of his loved ones.

His father, mother, and three siblings were killed in an air raid, but rescue workers have been unable to pull them out.

Bodies pile up

Hassaan, a 30-year-old rescue worker, said there were around 20 more families under the rubble.

“We need heavy machinery to get them out, but we can't bring the machines out into the streets because the regime may bomb them,” he said.

In the main town of Douma, bodies piled up in the morgue as bombardment prevented families from reaching the cemetery, AFP's correspondent there said.

Families grew desperate for news of loved ones who had fled to other areas that were now inaccessible.

On Saturday, Syrian troops and allied militia cut off the main road leading out of Douma in a major blow to beleaguered rebels attempting to defend their enclave.

Government forces also captured the town of Misraba.

Some residents fled from the advancing troops, but dozens stayed as soldiers recaptured their neighbourhoods.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported on Sunday that troops transported “dozens of civilians, including women and children,” from Misraba to temporary shelters in government-held zones.

The Observatory told AFP that Misraba was left abandoned after 75 to 100 people were moved out of the town by regime forces.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is keen to recapture Eastern Ghouta from rebels, who have used the region as a launch pad for attacks on the capital.

In recent years, government forces and pro-regime militias have recaptured several areas around Damascus and other parts of war-ravaged Syria from rebels by pursuing fierce military offensives culminating in evacuation deals.

Officials mull evacuation

Officials from Hammuriyeh were on Sunday considering such an evacuation after talks with the regime, a negotiator and the Observatory told AFP.

A delegation from the town met government representatives on Saturday and discussed a proposal that would offer safe passage to rebels and civilians who want to leave, a member of the Hammuriyeh delegation said.

“The committee is meeting on Sunday to take a decision and inform the regime,” the delegate told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Observatory confirmed talks were taking place on Hammuriyeh as well as the towns of Jisreen and Saqba.

The two main rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta have firmly and repeatedly denied negotiating with the Syrian regime.

Faylaq al-Rahman, the opposition faction that holds Hammuriyeh, insisted late on Saturday there were “no direct or indirect negotiations” on an evacuation.

Eastern Ghouta is home to around 400,000 people living under a crippling government siege since 2013.

The United Nations has demanded a month-long ceasefire there to allow for aid to be brought in and for desperately sick and wounded civilians to seek treatment.

dawn.com/news/1394604/syria-army-bombs-splintered-ghouta-enclave-as-bodies-pile-up

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IS preparing to attack Shia holy city, Iraq’s security committee warns

 

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense committee warned that the Islamic State (IS) is preparing to launch a major offensive on the city of Samarra in Salahaddin Province, home to a number of Shia holy sites in northern Baghdad.

The warning came shortly after the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi repelled an attack by gunmen tried to infiltrate Samarra two days ago, killing and wounding several fighters.

Samarra is a significant landmark for Shia Muslims as it includes the mausoleums of two notable Shia imams who were killed in 2006, igniting a sectarian conflict in the country.

The head of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Hakim Zamli, in a press conference held in Samarra, said the recent attack was one of the most of the violent ones carried out by the jihadist group in the southern city.

Zamli added that three members of Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), were killed and several more injured in the clashes.

He warned that the holy areas in the south of Samarra had become a haven for IS sleeper cells that use the security vacuum as military units are deployed across the region to carry out attacks.

Zamli mentioned that IS was planning to enter Samarra and target religious shrines, especially those of Shia Muslims.

Recently, 11,000 forces were deployed in the desert area, 70 kilometers south of Samarra.

“The area needs a substantial security presence to protect it,” Zamili said. “When deploying troops, the Defense and Interior ministries need to consider Samarra due to the significance.”

A week ago, the Iraqi Parliament approved a bill to consider the city of Samarra in the province of Salahuddin as the “Islamic” capital of the country and the province of Babylon as the capital of “civilization.”

kurdistan24.net/en/news/0cde5126-3a64-4d9e-85e1-19b3998b94e6

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IED targets Shia militias in Kirkuk, kills and injures seven

 

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Six Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militiamen were injured and one other killed in an explosion in Kirkuk province, a security source said on Sunday.

A roadside Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated after a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) vehicle drove by while patrolling the village of Najatiyah in Hawija city, southwestern Kirkuk Province, on Saturday, the security source told Kurdistan 24 on condition of anonymity.

It is the latest attack on the militia, also known as the PMF, in Kirkuk since the bloody ambush that killed about 30 militiamen in an area not far from the recent blast site.

The source added that all members of the patrol were local fighters within the Hashd al-Shaabi’s 56th Brigade.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack took place shortly after a warning by Peshmerga forces claiming the Islamic State (IS) was re-grouping and looking to resume its activities in and around the Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces.

IS has launched a number of attacks in the country despite Iraq’s final victory over the jihadist group last year in December.

Ali al-Hamdani, a Commander within the PMF, said the Shia militia planned to carry out “significant operations” to secure Kirkuk fully, but have been waiting for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to greenlight the operations.

“As a result of the security implications in the province of Kirkuk, and the intelligence information gathered in this regard, a meeting was held between security commanders and Hashd al-Shaabi leaders,” Hamdani told an Iraqi local news outlet.

He added that the PMF would inform the commander-in-chief of the armed forces,Haider al-Abadi, on progress made in the meeting, and would wait for orders to be issued as a result of the meeting.

The elite counter-terror forces and head of Kirkuk security, Major General Maan al-Saadi, recently said security services in Kirkuk had developed a “precise plan” to protect those who will celebrate Newroz.

“The festivities may include wearing different costumes and raising a variety of flags, but no flag will be raised on any building or in official form,” Saadi said.

Every year, Kurdish people celebrate Newroz on March 21. It is the beginning of Spring and marks the new year for Kurds.

Kurdish officials have complained, however, that the current authorities in Kirkuk are barring Kurds from wearing their traditional uniforms and preventing their flags from being raised despite the upcoming holiday.

Editing by Nadia Riva

kurdistan24.net/en/news/2effb44b-8a78-4760-b8e1-c0fbaeca18d8

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Syrian army gains ground in intensified Ghouta assault

ReutersUpdated March 11, 2018

BEIRUT: The Syrian army intensified its onslaught in eastern Ghouta on Saturday with advances that a war monitor and state media said had splintered the enclave, though a rebel official denied this.

Syrian state television broadcast from inside Mesraba, a town lying along the road connecting the northern and southern halves of the rebel-held stronghold.

The capture of Mesraba and advances into nearby farmland brought important roads directly under fire by the army, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

That has in effect cut the large towns of Harasta and Douma off from each other and the rest of the enclave, it added.

However, Hamza Birqadar, a spokesman for Jaish al-Islam, one of the two main insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta, denied that either Harasta or Douma had been cut off.

The relentless three-week assault on the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus has captured about half its area and killed 976 people, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

State television showed a huge plume of dark smoke rising behind houses and trees in eastern Ghouta, with the sound of blasts in the background.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia, his main ally, say the campaign is needed to end rebel shelling of Damascus and end the rule of Islamist insurgents over the area’s civilians.

The offensive follows the pattern of previous assaults on rebel strongholds, deploying air power and tight sieges to force insurgents to accept “evacuation” deals.

These involve rebels surrendering territory in exchange for safe passage to opposition areas in northwest Syria, along with their families and other civilians who do not want to come back under Assad’s rule.

Late on Friday, a small number of fighters and their families from the former al Qaeda affiliate previously known as the Nusra Front left eastern Ghouta under such a deal.

But the group represents only a small portion of the insurgent presence in the enclave. Jaish al-Islam and the other main eastern Ghouta rebel group Failaq al-Rahman have said they are not negotiating a similar deal for themselves.

Capturing the enclave would represent Assad’s biggest blow against the rebels since they were driven from Aleppo in December 2016.

It would seal a string of military victories for the Syrian leader since the entry of Russian jets into the war on his side in 2015 turned the course of the conflict against the insurgents.

Shortages

The intensity of the government’s attack on an enclave that has been besieged since 2013 and suffers acute shortages of food and medical supplies has drawn Western condemnation and demands by UN aid agencies for a humanitarian halt in fighting.

State television broadcast from Mesraba showed a large group of civilians hiding in a house. People across eastern Ghouta have sheltered in basements from the ceaseless bombardment in recent weeks.

A middle-aged man interviewed by the channel shouted slogans in support of Assad and against the rebels while women and small children stood behind him as men in army uniforms looked on.

State media said the 60 civilians found in Mesraba by the army had been held by insurgents as human shields, something the rebel groups deny.

Footage taken on the streets of Mesraba showed tanks near half-collapsed buildings and walls pocked with bullet holes.

The United Nations estimates that 400,000 people are trapped in eastern Ghouta.

“Living conditions are harsh ... Shop owners and traders are sending their workers to the shelters to sell food for three times the price before the offensive,” said a man in the eastern Ghouta town of Saqba who identified himself as Abu Abdo in a voice message.

dawn.com/news/1394533/syrian-army-gains-ground-in-intensified-ghouta-assault

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Food arrives in Syria's battered Eastern Ghouta

AFP | Mar 10, 2018

DOUMA: The Syrian army continued its offensive against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on Saturday, a day after an aid convoy delivered food to the hunger-stricken residents of the enclave despite heavy bombardment.

Nearly 950 civilians have been killed since Russia-backed government forces launched a blistering assault on the last opposition bastion near Damascus on February 18.

Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 inhabitants have lived under government siege since 2013 and the enclave, more than half of which has over the past three weeks been retaken by regime forces, is home to a myriad of armed groups.

Apart from Islamist groups such as Jaish al-Islam, jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), who are mostly linked to Al-Qaeda, are also deployed there.

Syrian state television aired footage of a single bus carrying 13 "fighters" and family members out of the enclave through Al-Wafideen checkpoint, without giving their affiliation.

Some appeared to be young, while others wore hoodies to cover their heads and faces.

The limited operation came as the powerful Jaish al-Islam said HTS fighters would be evacuated to the northern province of Idlib, in an arrangement struck following consultations with the United Nations and other international players.

"It has been agreed that the first group of HTS members be released from the prisons of Jaish al-Islam ... (and) moved to Idlib at their request," Jaish al-Islam said.

HTS is the main force in Idlib, in Syria's northwest and the last province outside regime control.

Civilians continued to bear the brunt of the violence on Friday with at least six killed in air strikes on the area of Jisreen, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.

Thirteen trucks loaded with 2,400 food parcels, meanwhile, crossed into Eastern Ghouta, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, entering what UN chief Antonio Guterres has called "hell on earth".

But "shelling" near the enclave's main town of Douma threatened "to put at risk" the joint ICRC, Syrian Arab Red Crescent and United Nations convoy, said the UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Ali al-Zaatari.

The aid was delivered as helicopters hovered overhead and warplanes targeted areas outside Douma, a correspondent said.

The World Health Organization said it has verified 67 hits on medical facilities in Syria through January and February, nearly half of them in Eastern Ghouta.

The facilities hit included 20 hospitals, 16 health facilities, two ambulance stations and one medical supply warehouse.

Doctors and nurses in the enclave have run out of several life-saving items, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which reported a "terrible medical catastrophe."

"Medical material is extremely limited, medical infrastructure has been hit and medical staff are exhausted," it said, adding that hundreds of people have been wounded and need urgent assistance.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/food-arrives-in-syrias-battered-eastern-ghouta/articleshow/63246709.cms

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Syrian Army Frees Tens of Civilians Kidnapped by Terrorists in Eastern Ghouta

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops continued their cleansing operation in Eastern Ghouta and managed to free tens of civilians that once were kidnapped by the terrorist groups in the newly-liberated town of Mesraba, field sources said on Sunday.

The sources said that the army men carried out mop-up operations in Mesraba and freed several families, including 60 women and children that were kidnapped by the militants and were used as human shield.

The sources went on to say that the kidnapped families were detained in a basement in Mesraba, adding that the army men sent the freed families to safe zones.

The sources said that more exit paths will be opened for evacuating civilians after the army took Mesraba back.  

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria in Humeimim reported on Friday that the terrorist groups opened fire at a convoy of 300 families who were trying to leave militant-held regions in Eastern Ghouta for government forces-held regions via a humanitarian corridor, killing and wounding a number of them.

Brigadier General Vladimir Zolotokhin, a spokesman for the Russian center, said that terrorists targeted a convoy of civilians, including 300 families, only 1 km South of the humanitarian corridor in the village of al-Maliha in Eastern Ghouta, setting fire at three vehicles.

Zolotokhin further said that terrorists hit the families with numerous mortar rounds in the presence of journalists, inflicting large casualties on them.

Head of the Russian Centers Major General Yuri Yevtushenko said a number of civilians were killed or wounded in Faylaq al-Rahman's attack in the village of al-Maliheh.

He further said that the terrorists intensified their attacks on al-Wafedeen camp humanitarian corridor during the hours of the daily ceasefire to punish the fleeing civilians and block their exit path.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961220000564

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Syrian Army Regains Control of Strategic Region Near Al-Tanf

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army won back control of a strategic region during in an operation against the ISIL terrorists near al-Tanf in Southeastern Homs.

The Arabic-language al-Masdar news website quoted field sources as saying on Saturday that the army units engaged in clashes with the ISIL in Badiyeh (desert) region, retaking control of the strategic region of BayrAtshan near al-Tanf, which is under the control of the US forces and affiliated militants, at the bordering areas.

The sources added that the terrorists fled towards the Iraqi borders after clashes with the Syrian army soldiers.

In a relevant development earlier today, the Syrian army dispatched a large number of forces and military hardware to Badiyeh of Homs to reinvigorate security of its key positions amid reports on the deployment of more US forces in al-Tanf base in Southeastern Homs, field sources reported.

The sources said that the army has forwarded more troops and equipment from Palmyra (Tadmur) city towards Southern Badiyeh of Homs and near the town of al-Quaryatayn.

The sources further said that the army intends to create a strong security belt around al-Quaryatayn, Hawarin and the Mahin strategic region.

The sources added that the army has widened the buffer zone around al-Quaryatan to 80 km in the Eastern and Southern directions to prevent infiltration of terrorist groups in the region.

They said that the army's deployment in Southern Badiyeh will also prevent the terrorists from moving between Eastern and Western Qalamoun to al-Tanf base in Southeastern Homs.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961219001544

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South Asia

Afghan commandos and police casualties in Taliban ambush in Farah

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the casualties of the Afghan commandos and police forces in a Taliban ambush in western Farah province of Afghanistan.

The head of the provincial council FaridBakhtawar confirms that fifteen security personnel have lost their lives in Taliban’s ambush in BalaBolok district.

Bakhtawar further added that seven Special Operations Forces personnel and eight policemen were among those killed in the ambush.

However, another source says at least thirty security personnel have lost their lives in Taliban attack in BalaBolok district.

The security personnel were apparently on their way to support the security forces during an attack on the outposts.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri confirms the casualties of the security personnel in Taliban ambush.

According to Gen. Waziri, at least four commandos of the Afghan army have lost their lives in the attack.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility behind the attack and claims that more than 50 security personnel were killed in the attack.

The group also claims that several weapons and ammunition belonging to the Special Forces were confiscated in the aftermath of the attack.

khaama.com/afghan-commandos-and-police-casualties-in-taliban-ambush-in-farah-04617/

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Afghan official says Taliban attack kills 15 security forces

AP | Mar 10, 2018

KABUL: An Afghan official says at least 15 security forces have been killed in an attack by Taliban fighters in western Farah province.

Fared Bakhtawar, head of the provincial council, said Saturday that seven army commandos and eight police are among those 15 killed in BalaBuluk district.

Bakhtawar said three other security forces are missing and more than 30 insurgents were killed in the battle.

Gen. Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, confirmed the attack but said only four soldiers were killed and two wounded.

Taliban spokesman ZabihullahMujhaid claimed responsibility for the attack.

In recent months, Farah province has witnessed an increase in attacks by insurgents against security forces and local officials have requested the deployment of more forces in the province.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-official-says-taliban-attack-kills-15-security-forces/articleshow/63247369.cms

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Key Haqqani network commanders arrested in MaidanWardak province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

At least five members of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network have been arrested during an operation of the Afghan national defense and security forces in central MaidanWardak province.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said at least two key commanders and another key member of the network who was involved in making roadside mines are also among those arrested.

“Five Haqqani Terrorist Network Group members were arrested including two key commanders of the group during overnight special operation conducted by the General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU) in TangiWardak region, Sayed Abad district of MaidanWardak province,” MoI said in a statement.

The statement further added that Two key commanders of the group identified as Obaidullah and Abdul Haq are also among those arrested.

“During the operation, a Haqqani Terrorist Network Group member who was expert of Improvised explosive Device (IED) making also killed,” the statement said, adding that no GCPSU member and civilian were harmed.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including Taliban and Haqqani network have not commented regarding the report so far.

MaidanWardak is among the relatively volatile provinces in central parts of the country, located close to capital Kabul.

The anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities, mainly in the districts lying along the highway connecting Kabul with the southeastern and southern provinces.

khaama.com/key-haqqani-network-commanders-arrested-in-maidan-wardak-province-04623/

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Afghan lawmakers elect the first deputy speaker of the Lower House

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

The Afghan lawmakers in the Lower House of the Parliament, Wolesi Jirga, on Sunday elected the first deputy house speaker during a voting organized by the administrative delegation of the parliament.

HumayounHumayoun managed to secure the most votes from the lawmakers during the voting process and was elected as the first deputy house speaker.

At least 116 lawmakers were present in today’s general session of the parliament with Humayoung receiving 110 votes to win the first deputy house speaker seat.

Nazir Ahmadi and Humayoun were the two nominees for the first deputy house speaker seat. However, MP Ahmadi did not secure the required votes to win the seat.

The election process for the second deputy house speaker is expected to be organized during the Monday’s session of the Lower House of the Parliament.

The candidates for the second deputy speaker are Mohammad Abdu and Abdullah Kalimzai. The lawmakers will cast votes Monday.

This comes as the election process for the second deputy secretary of the Lower House was organized during Saturday’s session of the parliament.

Irfanullah managed to secure the most votes during the session of the parliament on Saturday to secure the seat of the second secretary.

In the meantime, the Afghan lawmakers are expected to cast votes for the seat of the first secretary of the Lower House on Monday.

khaama.com/afghan-lawmakers-elect-the-first-deputy-speaker-of-the-lower-house-04622/

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Clash among Afghan soldiers and militants in Laghman province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

At least six people were killed or wounded during a clash between the Afghan armed forces the anti-government armed militants in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the clash took place at around 6 am on Saturday in the vicinity of Alingar district.

The statement further added that incident took place close to the provincial capital in Basramara and as a result a commander of the militants identified as Zubair was killed.

According to the provincial government, Zubair was also famous as Kochi and was a key member of commander Akram.

At least four other militants including commander Humair, Elyas, Zakir and Pohan were also wounded during the clash, the provincial government said.

The local officials are saying that a member of the Afghan armed forces was also wounded during the clash but his health condiitn has been reported as satisfactory.

The militants killed or wounded during the clash had also links with commander Rahmatullah and commander Yasir who were involved in major terrorist related activities in Alingar district, according to the local officials.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

khaama.com/clash-among-afghan-soldiers-and-militants-in-laghman-province-04621/

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US drones target ISIS hideouts in Nangarhar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

The US military has carried out a series of new airstrikes on ISIS hideouts in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, the Afghan military said Sunday.

The latest airstrikes were carried out on ISIS hideouts in Nazian district and as a result at least six militants have been killed.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military said the hideouts of the terror group were targeted in NakhtarKand area of the district.

According to Silab Corps, at least six militants of the terror group were killed but the airstrikes did not incur any casualty to the local residents and security personnel.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including ISIS insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime but the anti-government armed militants have been attempting to expand their insurgency activities in this province during the recent years.

The Afghan forces conduct regular operations against the militants in this province as the US forces also conduct airstrikes on the hideouts of the militant and terrorist groups.

At least five militants belonging to the ISIS terrorist group were also killed in a similar airstrike in Achin district of Nangarhar last week.

khaama.com/us-drones-target-isis-hideouts-in-nangarhar-province-04619/

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Explosion targets military convoy in Kandahar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Mar 11 2018

An explosion was heard in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan amid repots a military convoy was targeted.

The type of the explosion and possible casualties as a result of the blast has not been ascertained so far.

A security source confirm the incident and says the blast has apparently targeted a convoy of the foreign forces close to the local airport.

The source further added that the blast was triggered by a roadside bomb and no one has been hurt in the explosion.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

This comes as the Taliban insurgents have stepped up their insurgency activities in Kandahar province where the security situation had relatively improved during the recent years.

Today’s blast takes place days after the US forces conducted airstrikes on Taliban positions in Maiwand district that left at least 60 militants dead.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

khaama.com/explosion-heard-in-kandahar-province-04618/

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Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Helmand airstrikes

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Mar 10 2018

The Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties during the recent airstrikes in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Saturday.

According to a statement by MoD, the latest airstrikes were carried out in the vicinities of Nahr-e-Saraj and Greshk districts.

The statement further added that fourteen militants were killed and twelve others were wounded during the same airstrikes.

The Ministry of Defense also added that a vehicle packed with explosives, 51 kgs of explosives, and three hideouts of the militants were also destroyed.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

The Ministry of Defense said last week that seven militants were killed during the similar airstrikes in Nad-e-Ali, Garamser, and Greshk districts.

According to MoD, at least six militants were also wounded, two of their hideouts along with two vehicles were also destroyed during the same operations.

khaama.com/taliban-militants-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-helmand-airstrikes-04615/

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Mideast

Hamas, Islamic Jihad denounce US meeting on Gaza crisis

10 March 2018

The Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Saturday denounced the US administration’s intention to convene a meeting of “stakeholders” in Washington to discuss ways of improving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The two groups claimed that the planned meeting was aimed at exempting Israel from responsibility for the “humanitarian and economic crisis” in the Gaza Strip.

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Their comments come after the Palestinian Authority said it planned to skip the meeting.

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said last week that there will be a brainstorming session at the White House this week “to find real solutions to the problems that Hamas has caused” in the Gaza Strip.

US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 25, 2017. (FLASH90)

Greenblatt did not name the parties that would participate in the meeting. The US does not deal with Hamas or Islamic Jihad, because they are terrorist organizations.

In response, Hamas accused the US of seeking to “exploit the crises in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of its people, to impose its vision for a solution in the Middle East at the expense of the Palestinians.”

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said that the planned meeting in Washington was also aimed at helping Israel, “which realizes that the situation in the Gaza Strip is on the verge of an explosion, as a result of Israel’s deadly policies.”

Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in the Gaza Strip, said that the meeting had “dangerous goals.”

The purpose of the meeting is to turn the Gaza Strip issue into a humanitarian one, said Islamic Jihad spokesperson DaoudShehab. The meeting, he added, was aimed at “exempting Israel from responsibility as the occupation force and help it overcome the crisis it’s facing.”

The Islamic Jihad spokesperson also said that the meeting was designed to pave the way for dealing with the Gaza Strip “separately from the rest of the areas of occupied Palestine, which takes us back to the conspiracy of isolating or excluding the Gaza Strip.”

Islamic Jihad, he said, was convinced that the US move does not stem from humanitarian concerns.

“The US is responsible for the crisis in the Gaza Strip because of its opposition to the reconciliation agreement [between Hamas and the ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank] and its support for the occupation’s crimes and aggression,” Shehab said.

Palestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power outage in Gaza City, on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Earlier, the Palestinian Authority said it had turned down an invitation from the Trump administration to participate in the meeting.

Speaking with the Voice of Palestine radio, PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani accused the US of trying to undermine the Palestinian Authority, and said there was no need for a meeting because Gaza “is a political issue and not a humanitarian one.”

The rejection comes amid ongoing Palestinian anger over the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

The Palestinians have been refusing to meet with senior US officials since December.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has been deteriorating for years, and sharply declined after Hamas took charge of the Strip a decade ago, ousting the Palestinian Authority.

Israel and Egypt imposed a tight blockade on Gaza to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and material that could be used to carry out attacks or build fortifications and tunnels. Israel and the US also accuse Hamas of diverting millions in aid money to use for arms.

In recent months the Palestinian Authority has also withheld funding for electricity supplied to the Strip in an attempt to press Hamas toward reconciliation.

The culmination of all these have left Gaza on the verge of “full collapse,” according to the UN.

timesofisrael.com/hamas-islamic-jihad-denounce-us-meeting-on-gaza-crisis/

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Salih Muslim Urges UN, US Break Silence About Afrin

BasNews  11/03/2018

ERBIL - Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim on Saturday has called on the UN and president of the United States Donald Trump to break their silence about the attacks being carried out by the Islamic State (IS) and "its sponsors".

"To all humanity defenders: Afrin is being slaughtered by ISIS and its sponsors, don't be silent," Muslim tweeted.

He urged the two major sides to ensure the rights of the civilians in Afrin, a Kurdish city in Syria.

Since January 20th, the Turkish army has launched an operation on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria.

basnews.com/index.php/en/news/kurdistan/421624

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Saleh Moslem: Turkey kills Kurds in Afrin with European weapons

Sunday, 11 Mar 2018

TEV-DEM foreign relations official and former PYD leader Saleh Moslem said; “Nobody has the right to tell the people of Afrin to leave. That land belongs to the people of Afrin. The children there are protecting their lands. Why should they abandon it?"

The meeting where Kurdish parties, institutions, professional organizations and individuals express their solidarity with Afrin at national level, continues in The Hague. The meeting is organized by the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) and Committee to Protect Afrin.

Speaking here, TEV-DEM foreign relations official and former PYD leader Saleh Moslem underlined that; “The Turkish state is massacring people in Afrin with the weapons of Europe. This is unacceptable.”

Referring to the Turkish state’s massacres in Kurdistan, Moslem said; “The Turkish state, which attacked Kobanê, Shengal and Kirkuk through its gangs, is attacking Afrin today. They want to finalize the massacres in those places in Afrin now. To us, there is no difference between Afrin and other regions of Kurdistan. Afrin is a continuation of the massacres in Sur, Cizre, Nusaybin and Shengal. The Turkish state seeks to finalize its massacres against Armenians, Syriacs and Kurds in the 20th century. This is not a personal issue for the Kurds. This is a matter of honor and dignity to us.”

Calling out to the peoples of Europe, Moslem continued; “The resistance mounted in the Middle East today is for your security as well. The bombings that took place in Europe showed everything. They want to take Afrin from the Kurds and give it to those terrorists. We are defending Europe and humanity today. We want Europe to embrace its own laws as the people of Afrin are massacred with the weapons of Europe. German tanks are used in the attack on Afrin. NATO and the UN have laws, rules and conventions which are being trampled on today. We do not want them to “come and fight for us”, but to “implement your own rules and laws”. It is not humane that we are massacred with European weapons, we do not accept this.”

Stressing that the people of Afrin are resisting the attacks, Moslem said; “Nobody has the right to tell the people of Afrin to leave or not. That land belongs to the people of Afrin. The children there are protecting their lands, they are giving a fight. Why should they abandon their lands? They will never do that and everyone should know it. We need to do what is worthy of Kurdish honor. It is time for unity and everyone should act accordingly. This is why this meeting is of great importance as hundreds of Kurdish institutions are represented here. I salute everyone.”

anfenglish.com/news/saleh-moslem-turkey-kills-kurds-in-afrin-with-european-weapons-25415

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Turkey's president Erdogan slams NATO for lack of support in Syria

AP | Mar 10, 2018

ISTANBUL: Turkey's president has criticized NATO for not supporting the country's ongoing military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Speaking to supporters Saturday, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan asked, "Hey NATO, where are you?" and accused the alliance of double standards. Erdogan said Turkey sent troops to conflict zones when requested, but did not receive support in return.

Turkey launched a solo military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG on Jan. 20 to clear them from Afrin in northwestern Syria. The country considers the YPG a terror organization but its NATO ally, the United States, backs the fighters to combat the Islamic State group.

Erdogan urged NATO to come to the aid of Turkey, saying its borders are "under threat right now."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/turkeys-president-erdogan-slams-nato-for-lack-of-support-in-syria/articleshow/63247109.cms

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British Ambassador Summoned to Iranian FM over London Embassy Raid

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned the British Ambassador to Tehran to voice its strong protest at the UK over the Friday attack on the Islamic Republic's embassy in London.

"Following the attack by the followers of a Britain-based extremist sect on the Iranian embassy in London, Britain's Ambassador to Tehran Nicholas Hapton was called by the Foreign Ministry's Director-General for European Affairs this afternoon and the Islamic Republic of Iran's strong protest was conveyed to him," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told FNA on Saturday.

At the meeting, Qassemi said, the Iranian foreign ministry official reiterated the need for the British government to comply with its inherent duties for protecting diplomatic persons and missions and elevate protection level for Iran's diplomatic centers.

"The British ambassador, for his part, voiced regret over the incident and reported the measures taken by his country's police and apprehension of invaders," the spokesman said, adding that the UK envoy vowed to inform London of Iran's protest to wire back his government's needed response to Tehran immediately.

Several Britain-based Shiite extremists affiliated to SadeqShirazi sect attacked the Iranian embassy premises in London on Friday, while menacing the staffers with cold weapons.

Four men opened their way into the embassy premises at 16:30 local time, while threatening people on the scene with machetes and baseball bats. The London Police deployed around the embassy but took no action in the first couple of hours after the attack. Later reports said the attackers were arrested after three hours.

The slow pace of police measures against the attack enraged Tehran. Qassemi said yesterday that Deputy Foreign Minister AbassAraqchi had informed Hapton of "the Islamic Republic of Iran's strong protest and asked for the full protection of our country's diplomats and immediate action against the invaders by the police".

"The British ambassador to Tehran also extended his government's formal apology and said the anti-riot police have deployed on the scene and have the situation under control," added Qassemi.

Qassemi also quoted the envoy as saying that all the necessary measures had been taken to secure the Iranian diplomats and block attackers from breaking into the embassy building.

The slogans chanted by the raiders indicated that they were members of SadeqShirazi Shiite extremist sect, supported by London.

Iran's Ambassador to Britain Hamid Baeedinejad confirmed the reports on the embassy attack in his twitter account minutes after the attack. "A few followers of Shirazi have attacked the Islamic Republic of Iran's Embassy in London and broke the flag mast," the ambassador tweeted, and added that the raiders were "chanting slogans against Iranian officials".

He further confirmed that the raiders were carrying "sticks and machetes", and said Police were deployed on the scene.

In a later tweet, Baeedinejad ensured that all the embassy staff were safe and no one had been hurt. He also informed that the attackers were on the balcony of the building and surrounded by the police.

The Shirazi sect that has been labeled as "British Shiism" by the Iranian Supreme Leader operates mainly from London. The sect also runs a satellite network called 'Fadak' from London and promotes Shiite extremism against Sunni Islam. The sect is also known to be the religious opposition of the Islamic Republic.

In earlier remarks on Friday evening, Qassemi told FNA that "we are investigating into the case and will keep in contact with the Iranian embassy in London and the British embassy in Tehran".

"The British government is duty-bound to seriously and decisively fulfill its responsibility to protect the Islamic Republic of Iran's diplomats and diplomatic centers and immediately arrest and prosecute those who have trespassed the diplomatic sanctuary," the spokesman reiterated.

Three hours after the attack, the Iranian foreign ministry declared that raiders had all been arrested by the London police.

Spokesman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said the legislature would ask the foreign ministry to launch a serious probe into the case. "The British government is responsible for the protection of the Iranian embassy in that country and should account for the attack," he said.

In the same line, Chairman of the same commission AlaeddinBoroujerdi blasted the British police for conniving the Shiite extremists' attack against Iran's embassy premises in London, stressing that London should account for it.

"These people could not climb over the embassy's balcony and make an aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran's mission in London without the British security forces and police's agreement or conniving," Boroujerdi said Saturday morning.

"The British government is duty-bound to fulfill its responsibility and should account for this security breach against the Islamic Republic of Iran's mission in London," he added.

Boroujerdi also called on the Iranian foreign ministry to adopt necessary measures and summon the British ambassador to Tehran, adding, "The British government should compensate for any damage on the Iranian embassy."

Then later on Saturday a host of Iranian officials started blasting London for the attack and for the slow pace of police reaction to the invaders.

Iranian Supreme Leader's top aide for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati lashed out at the UK government for neglecting its duties to safeguard foreign diplomatic missions.

"The British government is definitely responsible for protecting the safety and security of political representation delegations in that country, including the Iranian embassy in London, and they have taken flawed action to stop the raid of a number of thugs who have been selected by foreigners," Velayati told reporters in Tehran today.

"Had the British government and police wanted, they would have managed to stop the raid of some thugs on the Iranian embassy," he added.

Velayati said that the British government should account for its ignorance and flawed performance.

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Spokesman: Iran Not to Surrender to West's Pressures

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi underlined that western attempts to revive sanctions to pressure Tehran to withdraw from its positions are futile.

"The other side has focused all its attempts to revive one of the 6 past resolutions to return to the pre-sanctions era but in my view, it is definitely mistaken," Kamalvandi said on Sunday.

He also underscored Iran's opposition to any change in the 2015 nuclear deal and talks on its missile and defense issues.

Kamalvandi stressed that Iran has succeeded in making the West accept that it will continue its plans and policies through resistance and insistence on its rights.

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined that the western countries will regret violation of the nuclear deal more than anyone else as it proves to be against their interests.

"Everyone will regret the possible collapse of the landmark nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany) in Vienna in July 2015 as the US continues its efforts to sabotage the deal and issues threats to pull out of it," President Rouhani said in a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Tehran last Monday.

He reiterated that it is imperative to save the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in order to improve regional security, stability and cooperation.

"Of course, we will be ready for any conditions, which would not be favorable to us," the Iranian president added.

"The survival of the JCPOA will prove to the world that negotiations and diplomacy are the best options to solve problems," President Rouhani said.

He, however, warned that any collapse of the nuclear deal would mean that political negotiations are a waste of time.

Iran and the Group 5+1 finalized the nuclear accord in July 2015 and started implementing it in January 2016.

Under the deal, Iran undertook to apply certain limits to its nuclear program in exchange for the termination of all nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran.

US President Donald Trump on January 12 reluctantly agreed to waive sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the landmark deal, but said it would be the last time he issued such a waiver unless conditions were met.

Trump said he wanted Congress and America's European allies to use the 120-day period before sanctions relief once again comes up for renewal to agree to tougher measures and new conditions; otherwise Washington would pull out of the deal.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961220000712

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Turkey Vows Response to Possible US Sanctions Over S-400 Deal

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkish Foreign Minister MevlutCavusoglu said Turkey is ready to respond to possible US sanctions, for example, those over Ankara's decision to purchase Russian S-400 Triumf air defense systems.

"If it [the United States] wants to punish Turkey with sanctions, Turkey will react in another way, not like Russia or other states… We will respond. You cannot threaten us. The United States threatens many countries saying 'Do not buy gas of one or another country.' That does not work," Cavusoglu told Zeit Online.

Turkey along with Russia has achieved noticeable progress in the settlement of the Syrian conflict, the Turkish Foreign Minister added.

"Within a year and a half, we together with Russia achieved progress — in ensuring the ceasefire regime and [the creation of] de-escalation zones — in order to find a political solution [of the Syrian conflict]," he stated.

Earlier this week, head of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe Curtis Scaparrotti said that the United States hoped that Turkey would change its decision on Russian S-400 systems and warned that Ankara might face consequences over the move.

"Let those who criticize us for purchasing the S-400 to fight terrorism look at themselves. Why are they silent about the S-300 which Greece has? And they tell us that this is a wrong step. What kind of alliance, what kind of solidarity is this? This would fly, but not with us," President of Turkey RecepTayyip Erdogan said in parliament.

In December, Russia and Turkey signed a loan agreement on the supply of Russia's S-400 air and missile defense systems to Turkey.

The S-400 Triumph is Russia's next-generation mobile surface-to-air missile system and can carry three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at a short-to-extremely-long range. The weapon is designed to track and destroy various types of aerial targets, from reconnaissance aircraft to ballistic missiles.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961220001109

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Turkish Troops Deploy 1 km Away from Kurdish-Held Afrin in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Turkish Army troops and Ankara-backed militants occupied over ten Kurdish-held regions within the framework of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin district and deployed forces only one kilometer away from the town of Afrin, militant-affiliated field sources said Sunday.

The sources said that the Ankara-backed militants clashed fiercely with the Kurdish fighters in Jandaris region West of Afrin and captured the village of Kafr Zita and a military base near it and the two villages of Zalaqa and Ka'anKorak.

Also, the forces of Operation Olive Branch captured the villages of QortQolaySaqir, QortQolayKabir, Kafr Rom, al-Khalediyeh, Qara Tapa, QastalKashk and Qibar base in Sheran region and the villages of Houran and al-Tafla in Bolbol region and the village of Jalbal East of Afrin, the sources said, adding that the Turkish troops and their allied militants have deployed only one kilometer away from the town of Afrin.   

In a relevant development on Saturday the Turkish forces and allied militants captured the villages of Ma'arastah, Shavaraqa al-Joz, KafrMaz and Malekiyeh in Sheran region that is considered as that Eastern gate to the town of Afrin.

Local sources said that the Ankara-backed militants pushed the Kurds back from the village of Shoura'eil in Bolbol region and from the villages of Mariman and Anab and their Western mountain.

In the meantime, the Turkish troops and their allied militants managed to capture the village of HalobiKabir and Dam 17th April near the town of Sheran, the sources said, reminding that the dam supplies water to Afrin.

The sources added that the Turkish army and militants have deployed only 2 km away from the Central part of the town of Afrin after their recent advances.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961220000671

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Islamic Jihad member killed in accidental explosion in northern Gaza

10 March 2018

A 20-year-old Palestinian Islamic Jihad member was killed in an accidental explosion in the northern Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Health Ministry there said Saturday .

The blast was apparently caused by a work accident as the explosives were being prepared, the Ynet news site reported. Two other Palestinians were injured.

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Several Hamas and PIJ operatives have been killed or injured in accidental blasts and tunnel collapses in recent months.

In January, 22-year-old Hamas activist Mohammad FathiJanid was also killed in what the terror group referred to as an “accidental explosion” in the northern Gaza Strip.

In November, ten Islamic Jihad and two Hamas members were killed when Israel blew up an attack tunnel that ran under the border into Israel.

Hamas is engaged in training its fighters, building rockets, and digging tunnels in preparation for another round of conflict with Israel. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

Gaza terrorists have dug dozens of tunnels, many reaching under the border into Israel, to launch attacks inside the Jewish state. While Israel destroyed many of them during the summer 2014 war, it says Hamas has since been rebuilding the network, and Hamas has bragged about doing so.

Last year, 22 members of Hamas’s armed wing were killed while “preparing equipment,” the majority in a string of tunnel collapses, the terror group said.

timesofisrael.com/islamic-jihad-member-killed-in-accidental-explosion-in-northern-gaza/

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Europe

Arson attack targets mosque in Berlin

BERLIN – Anadolu Agency

A Turkish mosque in Berlin was targeted in an arson attack in the early hours of March 11, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

The Koca Sinan Mosque, belonging to the Turkish-Muslim organization DITIB, was badly damaged in the attack.

“Witnesses told us that three assailants with covered faces threw burning material and immediately ran away,” said BayramTürk, the head of the mosque association.

Anadolu Agency linked the attack to threats made by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to carry out more violence against Turkish targets on March 10, in protest at Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria’s Afrin.

On Jan. 20, the Turkish military, alongside elements of the Free Syrian Army, launched “Operation Olive Branch” to clear Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, the PYD’s militia, from the Afrin district.

On March 9, a PKK-affiliated webpage claimed responsibility for an arson attack that targeted a Turkish community mosque in Lauffenam Neckar, and posted the video footage of this attack.

The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 but it remains active, with an estimated 14,000 followers among the country’s Kurdish immigrant population.

Turkey has long accused Germany of not taking serious measures against the PKK’s fund-raising, recruitment and propaganda activities in the country.

Germany has a 3 million-strong Turkish community, many of whom are second- and third-generation German-born citizens of Turkish descent whose grandparents moved to the country during the 1960s.

hurriyetdailynews.com/arson-attack-targets-mosque-in-berlin-128573

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Muslim and Right-wing Anti-Semitism on the German Internet

Contact Editor Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld , 11/03/18

The Office for the Security of the German Federal State of Hessen has published a report on anti-Semitism on the German internet, authored by Ann-Christin Wegener. The study focuses on the manifestations and ideological background of anti-Semitic agitation on social networks in Germany.

Wegener wrote that the German authorities usually claim that 90% of anti-Semitic incidents are caused by the extreme right. She suggests that this results from the way the police report anti-Semitic incidents. As long as nothing is known about the motivation or the perpetrators, these incidents are labelled as right wing politically motivated.

Hate crimes committed in the Arabic or Turkish languages lead to less complaints than those in German. One has to also take into account the fact that many anti-Semitic incidents are not reported or do not result in complaints. It is estimated that less than a quarter of Jewish victims of anti-Semitism bring complaints to the police or to the Jewish community. 

The author remarks that very little attention has been given to anti-Semitic crimes and attitudes of Muslims in Germany. She refers to some incidents which received much public attention. One of the most extreme was the severe beating of a rabbi in Berlin in 2012. Two years later anti-Israeli demonstrators shouted “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” in several German towns. Another incident which received much publicity took place in the Spring of 2017 when a Jewish boy quit his Berlin school after being severely harassed by Muslim pupils. Wegener writes: “All this says little about the quantitative comparison between anti-Semitism among Muslims and among the right.” 

Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe has been greatly under-researched. Many authorities have tried to keep statistical data and other information about anti-Semitic attitudes among Muslim immigrants and their descendants out of the limelight. This has occurred despite the fact that all resolved murders of Jews in Western Europe in the past decade have been committed by Muslims. The same is largely true for other extreme anti-Semitic incidents. Among these are serious attacks on synagogues in France.

One classic example among many of hiding such information occurred in 2003. The Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin (CRA) completed its study on European anti-Semitism. It had been charged to prepare this report by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). (This organization was replaced by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, FRA in 2007.)

The CRA identified young Muslims of Arab descent as the main perpetrators of physical attacks against Jews and the desecration and destruction of synagogues. The EUMC did not publish the study. The CRA stated that the reason for not publishing the document was thar it exposed the many Muslim perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents. They also mentioned that the EUMC had repeatedly asked them to change their findings. At the end of 2003, the World Jewish Congress published the CRA draft report on the Internet, thereby exposing the EUMC’s manipulation.

Against this background and various other manipulations of the truth , Wegener’s study is particularly important. The author investigates anti-Semitism on the German internet. She selected several prime sources. These included the Facebook accounts of the largest German daily, Bild and

Wegener came to the conclusion that as far as Israel and the conflict in the Middle East are concerned, the Spiegel TV website was the main outlet of anti-Semitic content.

of Focus, one of the three leading weeklies. She also researched Youtube channels with a greater audience than Twitter.

Wegener came to the conclusion that as far as Israel and the conflict in the Middle East are concerned, the Spiegel TV website was the main outlet of anti-Semitic content. She found that Israel and the Middle East conflict were incomparably more prevalent on these internet sites than the subject of German Jews.

Wegener  used a number of keywords in her research as follows: Jews, Judaism, Jewish, Israel and anti-Semitism. Her detailed study, which is only available in German, reaches a number of important conclusions. Concerning comments about Jews or Judaism, those of Muslim origin and those from the extreme right were about equal in number. Wegener also found that public discourse both on Judaism and on Israel in German social media contains a substantial amount of anti-Semitism.

Wegener concluded that anti-Semitic comments have greatly increased since 2014.  She observes that the Gaza conflict and the following anti-Israeli demonstration prepared the ground for this. 

Concerning Israel and the Middle East conflict, about half of the anti-Semitic comments are made by people with a Muslim background. Only 10% came from the right. The origin could not be identified in 40% of the cases.  Between 2010 and 2013, however, 37% of anti-Semitic comments were from the right, and 16% were made by people from Muslim backgrounds. Wegener concludes that hatred of Israel in the German Muslim community is rising.

As far as anti-Semitism and the Holocaust are concerned, among almost all those who reported negation of Holocaust guilt and the need for remembrance, the right was dominant and Muslims were  much less so.

There is one consideration which must lead the reader to a somewhat different conclusion. No sites in Arabic or Turkish were investigated. On those virtually all anti-Semitic remarks come from Muslims. Thus, Muslim anti-Semitism on the German internet exceeds that of the extreme right.

Wegener’s prime conclusion is that society, politicians and intelligence services must include looking at anti-Semitism among Muslims without neglecting the anti-Semitism of the right. Such an observation is unpopular among substantial parts of the German mainstream and even more so among the country’s left.

israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/21831

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South Yorkshire Police investigating THREE reports of people receiving vile 'punish a Muslim' letters

Sunday 11 March 2018

The police are working with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit to investigate the three 'punish a Muslim' hate letters sent to addresses in South Yorkshire.. The vile letter, which has been sent to addresses in South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and across the UK, encourages people to take part in a 'punish a Muslim' points-scoring game. A national operation– co-ordinated by Counter Terrorism Policing North East (CTPNE) has been launched after a malicious letter containing messages of hate crime was reported to police by a number of people on Friday, March 9 and over the weekend. South Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Tim Forber, wanted to reassure communities after three letters were received in South Yorkshire, all of which are being investigated with information being forwarded to the CTPNE unit. ACC Tim Forber said: “These communications are extremely distressing and we appreciate that members of our communities will be very concerned. “I can assure you that these documents are being taken extremely seriously and a thorough investigation into the circumstances is underway. “I would like to reassure the people of South Yorkshire that public and community safety remains our utmost priority and as always, we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of everyone. “We’d always encourage anyone who is made to feel vulnerable to report this to police and it is really important that we are made aware of all letters received. READ MORE: Threatening 'punish a Muslim' letter believed to have been posted in Sheffield “If you or someone you know, has received such a letter, please contact 101 and quote incident number 420 of March 11, 2018. “Hate crime in any form will not be tolerated and we will work with our communities and alongside our colleagues in the counter terrorism unit to ensure that those spreading fear and hatred will be brought to justice.” In addition to letters being received in the region, it is suggested that at least one of the hateful letters was sent from Sheffield. One of the six people in West Yorkshire to receive the letter, Councillor Riaz Ahmed, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Bradford, told The Mirror: "It was not addressed to anyone, just the address and postcode as if it was sent out randomly. It has a second class stamp on the plain white envelope and the frank mark is Sheffield. It was posted yesterday. "It seems strange that anyone would send something like this to an address in a predominantly Muslim area. When I opened it and saw the content I was horrified." Further help and support is available from Tell Mama, please contact them by calling 08004561226 or WhatsApp 07341846086 or visiting their website tellmamauk.org Read more at: thestar.co.uk/news/south-yorkshire-police-investigating-three-reports-of-people-receiving-vile-punish-a-muslim-letters-1-9057750 Read more at: thestar.co.uk/news/south-yorkshire-police-investigating-three-reports-of-people-receiving-vile-punish-a-muslim-letters-1-9057750

thestar.co.uk/news/south-yorkshire-police-investigating-three-reports-of-people-receiving-vile-punish-a-muslim-letters-1-9057750

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UK police investigate anti-Muslim letters

PTI | Updated: Mar 11, 2018

LONDON: Britain's counter-terrorism officers are investigating a series of anti-Muslim letters circulated across the country calling for people to participate in a "Punish a Muslim Day" on April 3.

Residents in London, Yorkshire and the Midlands regions of England have reported receiving the letters branded as "malicious correspondence" by police.

West Yorkshire Police said the investigation into the instances was being coordinated by the UK's North East Counter Terrorism Unit (NECTU) and enquiries were going on.

"What I want to do is to reassure the communities of West Yorkshire that these communications are being taken extremely seriously. We understand that they may have caused concern and upset to people, especially the more vulnerable members of society," said Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams of West Yorkshire Police said.

"Public safety remains our priority and I would urge our communities to be vigilant but not frightened," she added.

Counter-terrorism police are treating the letters as a possible hate crime.

Images of the A4 note, which contains a list of violent acts alongside a number of claims of why they were executed, have been widely shared online.

The note incites verbal abuse and assaults on Muslims, as well as attacks on mosques.

It asks people to carry out violent acts including verbal abuse, removing a woman's hijab or head-scarf, physical assault and using acid as a weapon.

These were ranked using a points-based system, with the letter stating, "There will be rewards based on action taken".

Police said it had a couple of letters that will undergo analysis in an attempt to determine their origin.

Tell MAMA [Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks], a project that monitors Islamaphobic hate crimes in the UK, said a photo of an envelope suggested at least one of the notes was dealt with at a Sheffield sorting office.

"This has caused quite a lot of fear within the community. They are asking if they are safe, if their children are safe to play outdoors. We have told them to keep calm," said Iman Atta from Tell MAMA.

The group said it had received reports of people in Bradford, Leicester, London, Cardiff and Sheffield receiving the letters.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said it was not yet clear whether any criminal allegations relating to the letters had been reported in London.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/uk-police-investigate-anti-muslim-letters/articleshow/63255347.cms

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Human Rights Official Accuses UK Police of Complicity in Raid on Iranian Embassy

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran's Human Rights Council Mohammad JavadLarijani slammed the UK police for flawed and weak reaction to the Friday attack on the Iranian embassy premises in London, and accused Britain of complicity in the crime.

"I have no doubt that the raid on the embassy has been conducted in full cooperation and collaboration with the British police," Larijani said on Saturday.

He said although the UK police claim that their troops were not deployed on the scene when the attack took place, "but I do believe that the police were present there" but took no action.

He stressed that the British government is fully responsible for this irrational move, and said the Islamic Republic of Iran's steps are too strong to be halted by such moves.

Several Britain-based Shiite extremists affiliated to SadeqShirazi sect attacked the Iranian embassy premises in London, while menacing the staffers with cold weapons.

Four men opened their way into the embassy premises at 16:30 local time, while threatening people on the scene with machetes and baseball bats. The London Police deployed around the embassy but took no action in the first couple of hours after the attack. Later reports said the attackers were arrested after three hours.

The slow pace of police measures against the attack enraged Tehran, and Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Deputy Foreign Minister AbassAraqchi has informed the British Ambassador to Tehran Nicholas Hapton of "the Islamic Republic of Iran's strong protest and asked for the full protection of our country's diplomats and immediate action against the invaders by the police".

"The British ambassador to Tehran also extended his government's formal apology and said the anti-riot police have deployed on the scene and have the situation under control," added Qassemi.

Qassemi also quoted the envoy as saying that all the necessary measures had been taken to secure the Iranian diplomats and block attackers from breaking into the embassy building.

The slogans chanted by the raiders indicated that they were members of SadeqShirazi Shiite extremist sect, supported by London.

Iran's Ambassador to Britain Hamid Baeedinejad confirmed the reports on the embassy attack in his twitter account minutes after the attack. "A few followers of Shirazi have attacked the Islamic Republic of Iran's Embassy in London and broke the flag mast," the ambassador tweeted, and added that the raiders were "chanting slogans against Iranian officials".

He further confirmed that the raiders were carrying "sticks and machetes", and said Police were deployed on the scene.

In a later tweet, Baeedinejad ensured that all the embassy staff were safe and no one had been hurt. He also informed that the attackers were on the balcony of the building and surrounded by the police.

The Shirazi sect that has been labeled as "British Shiism" by the Iranian Supreme Leader operates mainly from London. The sect also runs a satellite network called 'Fadak' from London and promotes Shiite extremism against Sunni Islam. The sect is also known to be the religious opposition of the Islamic Republic.

In earlier remarks, Qassemi told FNA that "we are investigating into the case and will keep in contact with the Iranian embassy in London and the British embassy in Tehran".

"The British government is duty-bound to seriously and decisively fulfill its responsibility to protect the Islamic Republic of Iran's diplomats and diplomatic centers and immediately arrest and prosecute those who have trespassed the diplomatic sanctuary," the spokesman reiterated.

Three hours after the attack, the Iranian foreign ministry declared that raiders had all been arrested by the London police.

Spokesman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said the legislature would ask the foreign ministry to launch a serious probe into the case. "The British government is responsible for the protection of the Iranian embassy in that country and should account for the attack," he said.

In similar remarks earlier on Saturday, Chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission AlaeddinBoroujerdi blasted the British police for conniving the Shiite extremists' attack against Iran's embassy premises in London, stressing that London should account for it.

"These people could not climb over the embassy's balcony and make an aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran's mission in London without the British security forces and police's agreement or conniving," Boroujerdi said on Saturday.

"The British government is duty-bound to fulfill its responsibility and should account for this security breach against the Islamic Republic of Iran's mission in London," he added.

Boroujerdi also called on the Iranian foreign ministry to adopt necessary measures and summon the British ambassador to Tehran, adding, "The British government should compensate for any damage on the Iranian embassy."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961219001138

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Africa

Egypt army says 16 Islamic State terrorists killed in Sinai operation

Officer and soldier also die in major offensive aimed at crushing group in peninsula within 3 months

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s military said Sunday 16 jihadists, an officer and a soldier were killed in the past four days during a major military operation against Islamic State group terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.

The army launched a sweeping campaign after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is running in elections for his second term this month, gave it a three-month deadline to crush IS in Sinai.

He issued his ultimatum in November after suspected IS gunmen massacred more than 300 worshipers in a Sinai mosque associated with Sufi Muslim mystics.

Since the military, then led by Sissi, ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, security forces have sought to quell attacks by the Egypt branch of IS.

The terrorists have killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in North Sinai but also elsewhere in Egypt.

They have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings, as well as bombing a Russian airliner carrying tourists from an Egyptian resort in 2015, killing all 224 people on board.

The military says it has evidence IS has sought to move members to Sinai following its defeats in Iraq and Syria.

timesofisrael.com/egypt-army-says-16-islamic-state-terrorists-killed-in-sinai-operation/

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Anchor Khariy Ramadan returns to television after being arrested for ‘wronging police’

March 11, 2018

Television host Khairy Ramadan returned to television on Saturday after he was released from prison last Monday. On his show, he described his detention time as “being buried in a grave.”

During his talk show “Masr El Naharda” (Egypt Today) on Channel 1 Saturday evening he began by saying, “there were 20 scenarios for the introduction of today’s episode but they were all changed.”

He began talking about the prison experience saying, “being imprisoned is a greatly intense feeling that not many people get to experience. You become confined in a room or a cell, with cuffs denying you from everyone you love. All you think about is: “where is my money? where are my children? and where are my connections? You become alone facing god.”

He continued, “when you have nothing, its like being in a tomb, along with your deeds in front of god and away from the life of phones and messages. You remember god and begin to revise yourself and think upon your mistakes.”

Finally he said, “the simplest things become the greatest when you are in prison, such as a chair, a carpet or a bathroom.”

Ramadan — a pro-government TV host — was arrested last week for “insulting the police institution and a police officer” as well as circulating “false news.” He was released last Monday on bail of LE10,000 bail.

The General Prosecution summoned Ramadan after a complaint was filed against him by the Ministry of Interior following the airing of an episode of his show “Masr Al-Naharda” on Channel 1. Ramadan discussed a message he says he received from a woman claiming to be “an officer’s wife who is facing dire [financial] circumstances,” causing outrage within the country’s police force.

Ramadan alleged the lady told him she and her officer husband could not afford to pay for their kids’ private school fees, forcing them to resort to the country’s poor public education system. On his show, Ramadan displayed the policeman’s paycheck, whose official rank is colonel, which showed that he receives a monthly net salary of LE4,631.

Head of the Association of Wives of Police Officers RashaKamel called Ramadan’s remarks about the financial status of policemen’s wives “poison in honey,” saying he was being passive-aggressive and is destroying the spirit of police families.

In an interview with the “Huna Al-Qahera” program on the Al-QaheraWalNas channel, Kamel on Tuesday evening said that “policemen are the best group in society and their families are quite presentable.”

Another policeman’s wife, Manal Sanaa, told “Huna Al-Qahera” that the anchor had insulted all policemen’s wives, adding, “all of the Interior Ministry is upset with him.”

Khairy, during his show, said it is not fair for policemen to be paid so little, especially considering that they endanger their lives every day to protect citizens, claiming “this was not an individual problem but the problem of many.”

He also addressed the Minister of Interior directly saying, “we appreciate our sons in the police force, but they have rights. They have to have security and their kids have the right to attend private schools.”

Egyptian authorities have launched a crackdown on media personalities for discussing controversial issues or critiquing state policies. Popular TV hosts such as Ibrahim Eissa, Amr al-Laithy and MoatazMatar have either been taken off air or sentenced to prison for their program content.

egyptindependent.com/anchor-khariy-ramadan-returns-television-arrested-wronging-police/

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Nigeria: 3 members of Islamic Movement summarily sentenced in Zaria released on bail

March 11, 2018

The three members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria who were summarily sentenced to 9 years each by a Chief magistrate court for being Shiites and protesting the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky in contempt of a court judgement, were released on bail following an appeal.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The three members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria who were summarily sentenced to 9 years each by a Chief magistrate court for being Shiites and protesting the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky in contempt of a court judgement, were released on bail following an appeal.

The trio were shockingly arrested after they joined a Free Zakzaky protest in Zaria, and within 24 hours of arrest were arraigned before a magistrate court and sentenced to nine years each.

They were granted bail by the state High Court Zaria, where the appeal against the judgement by the magistrate court was filed. No date has been fixed for hearing of the appeal yet.

They were hosted to a reception yesterday Friday on arrival at Zaria.

en.abna24.com/news/africa/nigeria-3-members-of-islamic-movement-summarily-sentenced-in-zaria-released-on-bail_885239.html

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North America

Amid little scrutiny, US military ramps up in Afghanistan

AP | Mar 10, 2018

WASHINGTON: The US is adding military advisers and combat aircraft as part of President Donald Trump's new Afghanistan war strategy, but Congress appears to be paying little attention.

It's not clear the war is going as well as the administration had hoped, seven months after Trump announced his approach.

The picture may be clearer once the traditionally most intensive fighting season begins in April or May.

A weak central government in Kabul and the resilient Taliban insurgency aren't the US military's only problems there. It also faces what the top US general overseeing the war calls interference by Russia.

He's told Congress that Moscow is seeking to undermine US and NATO influence in Afghanistan by exaggerating the presence of Islamic State fighters there and portraying this as a US failure.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/amid-little-scrutiny-us-military-ramps-up-in-afghanistan/articleshow/63250104.cms

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US supports Pakistan’s integrity: Wells

Anwar IqbalUpdated March 11, 2018

WASHINGTON: The United States has assured Pakistan that it firmly supports the country’s territorial integrity and opposes Baloch insurgents and other groups that are a threat to the state.

Alice Wells, who heads the State Department’s bureau for South and Central Asia, also reassured Islamabad that US would not allow the use of Afghan territory against Pakistan.

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace, Washington, on Friday, Ms Wells emphasised the need for Pakistan to bring pressure on the Taliban to join the Afghan reconciliation process and to disrupt the annual spring offensive by these insurgents.

“That does not imply that we would support or think that there’s any manipulation of Afghanistan so that it can be used against Pakistan,” she said. “We firmly support Pakistan’s territorial integrity. We do not support the Baloch insurgents or the threat of irredentism against Pakistan.”

State Department official says Washington opposes Baloch insurgents

The stress on Balochistan is particularly significant because the question she was responding to had not mentioned Balochistan or the Baloch insurgency. But Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary TehminaJanjua — who held two key meetings with senior US officials in Washington on Thursday — did mention this issue in her remarks to the Pakistani media.

Ms Janjua also accused India of using the Afghan territory for stirring troubles in Balochistan.

Ms Wells also attended the Pakistani foreign secretary’s meeting with US Undersecretary of State John Sullivan.

On Thursday evening, Ms Janjua had another meeting with Deputy National Security Adviser Nadia Schadlow and Gen Joseph Votel, who heads the US Central Command.

Ms Wells, while assuring Pakistan of continued US support against insurgency, underlined the need for a similar action from Islamabad.

“And certainly, our message is that any terrorist group threatening any country in the region has to be opposed,” she said. “So, we oppose groups that are targeting Pakistan. We oppose, of course, groups that are targeting Afghanistan.”

Ms Wells recalled that hours before Ms Janjua’s meetings in Washington, the US Justice Department had announced millions of dollars of rewards for information leading to the arrest of three Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s leaders involved in terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

But she complained that Washington had not yet seen “the sustained and decisive” actions it would like to see Pakistan take against the Taliban. “We would certainly like to see steps taken that make it harder for the Taliban to plan for spring offensive, to disrupt their ability to meet and to lay out this operational plan for the next year,” she said.

Ms Wells said that while Pakistan had recently taken positive measures, “we believe that Pakistan really can play a much more important and critical role in shaping Taliban behaviour or incentives for undertaking negotiations.”

Ms Wells acknowledged that Pakistan too had interests that “it wants to ensure are met during the course of the stabilisation of Afghanistan, which we take seriously. And so, the dialogue that we have with Pakistan, whether it’s through military channels or through civilian channels, seeks to address these core concerns.”

The US official warned countries interested in seeking a peaceful resolution of the Afghan dispute, not to use proxies for gaining influence.

“Seeing an enemy of an enemy as a friend and hedging by employing the Taliban and legitimising the Taliban as a military force postpones the day when we can actually get to a negotiating table and achieve reconciliation in Afghanistan,” she said.

Responding to a question about how the US could persuade Pakistan to support its efforts in Afghanistan, Ms Well said: “We have calibrated our relationship with Pakistan in a very different way than other administrations. We’ve gone much further and underscored the importance and the centrality of this issue to our ability to expand relations with Pakistan.”

To achieve this objective, the US was using both civilian and military channels, she added. “You see an intensive dialogue by Gen Votel with his counterparts. By Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson and Secretary (of Defence James) Mattis and that will continue,” she said.

dawn.com/news/1394492/us-supports-pakistans-integrity-wells

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Canadian ambassador in Iraq: Imam Ali a religious paragon for all religions

March 11, 2018

The Public Relations Department in the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH) received Andrew Turner, the Canadian ambassador in Iraq

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Public Relations Department in the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (PBUH) received Andrew Turner, the Canadian ambassador in Iraq.

In a statement to the Media Center of the Holy Shrine, Andrew said, “I had the honor of visiting this holy shrine.

It is my first visit to it. It is the destination of all Muslims. There are many Muslims in Canada and I am visiting this holy shrine expressing my respect to my co-Muslim-citizens.”

en.abna24.com/news/middle-east/canadian-ambassador-in-iraq-imam-ali-a-religious-paragon-for-all-religions_885245.html

 


URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/will-ultra-hafiz-saeed-swear-by-pak-constitution,-wonders-india/d/114552


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