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Islamic World News ( 31 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Yearlong Prison Sentences To 3 People of Tajdeed Society For Debating Islamic Theology in Bahrain

New Age Islam News Bureau

31 March 2023

This is a locator map for the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, including Bahrain. Bahraini prosecutors handed out yearlong prison sentences to three people for debating Islamic theology. (AP Photo)

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• No To Same-Sex Marriage: Muslim, Christian, Jain Groups Write To Chief Justice Of India

• UK ‘Urged To Boost Monitoring Of Islamic Schools’ In New Government Report

• Hague-Based ICJ Says US Violated Intl. Law By Freezing Iran's Assets, Orders Compensation

• 'Pakistani Relatives of Scotland's 1st Muslim Leader: 'Witty, A Thorough Gentleman

 

Arab World

• Saudi-Iran deal could have ‘calming’ effect on Lebanon, region: Senior US diplomat

• Israel carries out more strikes near Damascus: Syria state media

• Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate UAE president on recent appointments

• Qur’an recitation contest draws melodious voices from across the world

• Saudi aid agency distributes 12 tons of food baskets in Bangladesh

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India

• Muslim Man Leads Ram Navami Procession For 45th Time In Jharkhand's Ramgarh since 1966

• Hindu Mahasabha Appeal On Shahi Idgah In A Mathura Court

• One Killed In Maharashtra Clashes; Violence In Bengal, Gujarat Too During Ram Navami Procession

• 2 Groups Clash, Hurl Stones Over Ram Navami Procession In Front Of Lucknow Mosque

• Muslim Trader Gives Water ToRam Devotees

• Three Anand wards to get extra hours of water supply for Ramadan

• Jharkhand: Muslim man thrashed by Hindutva goons, rescued by Adivasis

• Jharkhand cops rescue Muslim man from mob after beef found in house; 6 injured

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Europe

• Turkey's Parliament Ratifies Finland's Membership In NATO

• Elderly Muslim man walking home from mosque attacked in UK

• British Muslims welcome Humza Yousaf’s election as Scotland’s first minister

• French police under fire for tear gassing of Arab cameraman covering protests

• Denmark’s ruling coalition divided over repatriation of Danish women, children from Syrian camp

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North America

• Xavier Pelkey, 19-Year-Old, From Maine Who Allegedly Built Homemade Explosives Plans To Plead Guilty In Plan To Attack Mosque

• Blinken affirms Israel ties, warns on peace after Netanyahu spat

• US retaliatory airstrikes in Syria killed 8 Iran-backed militants: Pentagon

• Pentagon: Several US troops suffer 'traumatic brain injuries' in Syria

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Pakistan

• TTP Militants Kill 4 Police Officers, Injure 6 in Northwest Pakistan

• Pakistan initiates outsourcing of three major airports

• To Fight Climate Change, Islamic Seminary In Southern Pakistan Turns To Fruit Plantations

• IHC approached for criminal case against Gen Bajwa

• Imran only concerned with polls in 90 days

• JUI-F chief assures PM of coalition’s support

• DSP among 4 police officers martyred in LakkiMarwat blast

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Southeast Asia

• Indonesian Buddhists Step Out To Support Muslims In Ramadan Fast

• In police report, woman says Johor Islamic authorities harassing her over lawsuit against unilateral conversion

• I Am On The Case, Zahid Assures 137 Orang Asli Seeking To Nullify Islam Status Over Alleged Forced Conversion

• Malaysians tighten belts during Ramadan as food prices continue to rise

• PKNS launches Ramadan Kasih initiative to help the less fortunate

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Mideast

• Hamas Vows Not To Concede An Inch Of Palestinian Land To Israel

• Lawmakers urge Biden to probe Israel’s use of US arms against Palestinians

• Israel’s Relations With Arab World Jeopardized By New Government’s Actions, Experts Say

• Blinken Speaks With His Israeli Counterpart, Welcomes Efforts To Deescalate Tensions With Palestinians

• Hamas condemns Israeli plan to form 'settler militia'

• FM Reiterates Iran's Strong Opposition to Any Geopolitical Change in Region

• Iran's Embassy Dismisses Israeli Regime's Claim

• Israel charges two Jewish settlers with ‘terror’ for attacking Palestinians

• Palestinians commemorate Land Day, remember sacrifices

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South Asia

• Afghan Authorities React to SCO Concerns About Threats Emanating from Afghanistan

• MoD Chief of Staff Accuses US of Violating Afghan Airspace

• Attack on Kabul Security Compound Kills Two, Injures Another

• Afghanistan Poses Major Threat to the Security of SCO Member States: Russia’s NSA

• Terrorism Remains ‘Serious Threat’ To International Peace: NSA Doval

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Africa

• AsariDokuboDismisses Allegations OfTinubu Leading Jihad In Nigeria As President

• Displaced families in drought-hit Somalia struggle to celebrate Ramadan

• Burkina Faso to resume diplomatic relations with North Korea

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/yearlong-prison-sentences-tajdeed-society-islamic-bahrain/d/129456

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Yearlong Prison Sentences To 3 People of Tajdeed Society For Debating Islamic Theology in Bahrain

March 30, 2023

This is a locator map for the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, including Bahrain. Bahraini prosecutors handed out yearlong prison sentences to three people for debating Islamic theology. (AP Photo)

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Prosecutors in the Arab Gulf nation of Bahrain on Thursday have handed down yearlong prison sentences to three people for debating Islamic theology in a series of blog posts and online videos.

The three are part of a local cultural society called Tajdeed, Arabic for Renewal, that says it questions traditional Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence but not the religion itself. Critics, including prominent Shiite clerics in the kingdom, have accused the group of attacking the foundations of Islam and have waged a campaign of incitement against them.

The case has divided the majority Shiite community in Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni monarchy.

The public prosecutor's office said the three defendants were guilty of "infringing on the foundations of the Islamic faith" and insulting its prophets, in part by dismissing purported miracles as popular myths.

It did not name the defendants, but activists have identified them as Jalal al-Qassab and Redha Rajab, who were summoned to court, and Mohammed Rajab, who lives in Britain. They are free on bail pending appeal.

Islam, like other world religions, has a rich tradition of theological debate going back to its earliest days. But in modern Muslim-majority countries both political and religious authorities often enforce a conservative orthodoxy, and reformers are censured and in some cases targeted with violence.

Prosecutors specializing in cybercrimes referred the three defendants to a criminal court last month, accusing them of "deliberately undermining the basics of the Islamic religion on which all Muslims and sects agree," the state-run Bahrain News Agency reported.

Human Rights Watch has called on authorities to drop the charges.

"Despite putting on an appearance of religious and political tolerance in the country, Bahraini authorities continue to target and suppress speech that does not conform to their own views," NikuJafarnia, a Bahrain researcher for the New York-based rights group, said in a statement last month.

The members of Tajdeed are "being persecuted for doing nothing other than researching and questioning religious texts and speaking openly about their beliefs," HRW said.

Prominent Shiite clerics in Bahrain have inveighed against Tajdeed in Friday sermons, accusing them of undermining Islam and calling on the faithful to ostracize them.

Tajdeed says it does not question the Quran, Islam's holy book, or the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, which are at the heart of the faith, but rather the opinions of religious scholars and others who came later, including modern-day clerics.

Bahrain was rocked by pro-democracy protests led by the Shiite majority against the Sunni monarchy in 2011. Authorities quashed the protests by force with aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but Bahrain has continued to see low-level unrest over the years.

The small island nation off Saudi Arabia is also home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Source:FoxNews

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

https://www.foxnews.com/us/bahraini-prosecutors-hand-out-yearlong-prison-sentences-3-people-debating-islamic-theology

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No To Same-Sex Marriage: Muslim, Christian, Jain Groups Write To Chief Justice Of India

30th March 2023

New Delhi: Some minority groups have written to Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud to cite their religious beliefs to express opposition to same-sex marriage, an issue being heard by the Supreme Court.

One body, the Communion of Churches in India, has echoed similar views in a letter to President DroupadiMurmu.

The Centre has also opposed in the Supreme Court a batch of pleas seeking legal validation of same-sex marriage, saying it would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws and accepted societal values.

Sayed Salman Chishty of the Chishty Foundation, Ajmer, has conveyed his “concerns and reservations” to Chandrachud, claiming that any legal validation for same-sex marriage will contradict India’s religious, social and moral values, and cause “havoc” with the delicate balance of personal laws and accepted societal values.

“In India’s secular yet multi-faith context, which is already recognised as the most diverse country in the world, this is indeed a very complex and sensitive issue that needs careful deliberation and understanding before opinions are made part of national policies,” he said.

Chishty cited Islamic beliefs to oppose the plea seeking legal validation for such a marriage.

Prakash P Thomas of the Communion of Churches in India expressed “shock” at such a plea.

According to Christian beliefs, marriage is a divine institution made by God and cannot accept the union of two homosexuals as marriage, he claimed, urging the President to to ensure the status quo on marriage.

Jain guru Acharya Lokesh said legal sanction to same-sex marriage will go against the ethos of India’s ancient values-based society. In Indian culture, especially among Jains, marriage is a foundation for reproduction for extending the family tree, he said.

Pravez Hanif of a Pasmanda (backward) Muslim group echoed the view of these groups.

Source:Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/muslim-christian-groups-express-opposition-to-same-sex-marriage-2558183/

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UK ‘Urged To Boost Monitoring Of Islamic Schools’ In New Government Report

March 30, 2023

Muslim worshippers gather for Friday prayer on the streets outside the mosque of the Muslim centre in east London. (AFP/File Photo)

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LONDON: Britain should do more to monitor Islamic groups and schools, crack down on forced marriages and help people to leave oppressive religious groups, a government consultation is reported to recommend.

The report, to be released within weeks, is set to be what the Guardian described on Wednesday as “the most sweeping review of the relationship between faith and the state in recent times”. It is led by Colin Bloom, a former head of the Conservative Christian Fellowship who was appointed in 2019 to review the government’s engagement with various faiths.

Several sources have told the Guardian that the report, which is due to be published by the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities, will call for the monitoring of unregistered faith schools, where there are concerns about abuse and radicalization.

It however also warns that such measures risk clashes with faith leaders, who have previously resisted attempts by ministers to intervene in religious affairs.

Other sections will also call on the government to do more to combat forced marriages and offer more help to those attempting to leave oppressive religious groups.

The recommendations are likely to boost calls for stricter monitoring of Islamic groups by Secretary of State for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove.

The Muslim Council of Britain told the Guardian: “There remains a lack of any meaningful engagement by government with diverse British Muslim communities.

“We would hope that the Bloom report recognizes how vital it is for the government to establish meaningful engagement with British Muslim communities more broadly and the key role Muslim-led representative bodies can play in facilitating this.”

In the past, Conservative ministers have attempted to regulate such schools before but were forced to back down due to protests from mainstream religious groups.

Following the “Trojan horse” scandal in 2015, the then-Prime Minister David Cameron wanted to crack down on Islamic madrasas by allowing inspectors to visit any institution where children are taught for more than six hours a week.

Islamic groups claimed they were being unfairly singled out premised on shaky evidence of systemic radicalization within their community.

Cameron reportedly abandoned the plans after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned that it would make running Sunday schools more difficult.

Some of the Bloom proposals will also be intended to strengthen religion as a core component of British society. This includes providing resources for religious education in schools and increased funding for chaplains in prisons, schools, and universities.

“I have never seen a report on religion and the state which is this comprehensive,” one source familiar with large parts of the report told the Guardian.

“Colin [Bloom] has gone in-depth into many areas of public and religious life from which ministers normally stay well away,” they added.

Richy Thompson, the director of public affairs at Humanists UK, said: “In the past, the government has sometimes been nervous about tackling problems caused by religious groups, but those problems can extend to the most extreme forms of abuse.

“If this report is to see the government change tack here, then that is to be welcomed.”

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278406/world

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Hague-based ICJ says US violated intl. law by freezing Iran's assets, orders compensation

30 March 2023

This file picture shows a general view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by Reuters)

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Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague have ruled that the United States had violated international law by allowing American courts to confiscate nearly two billion dollars in assets from Iranian companies, and ordered Washington to pay compensation, the amount of which will be determined later.

On Thursday, the ICJ said Washington's freezing of funds belonging to several Iranian individuals and companies, including $1.75 billion from the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), was “manifestly unreasonable.”

The court, however, said that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on the freezing of assets from the CBI.

Iran: ICJ ruling supports Tehran's case against Washington

In reaction, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the verdict demonstrates the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic’s positions and the illegal behavior of the US.

“As per this important ruling, the court rightfully dismissed the unsubstantiated defenses of the United States and recognized Iran as the rightful party by emphasizing the former’s violation of its commitments. The US obligation to compensate for the losses will be the most cogent reason for the legitimacy of the request of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that Tehran “considers it as one of its inherent duties to press for the rights of the Iranian nation, and will utilize all diplomatic, legal and judicial means and channels to demand the rights of the honorable Iranian people and the national interests of Iranians.”

The case before the ICJ was initially brought by Tehran against Washington in 2016 for breaching a 1955 friendship treaty, signed before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, by allowing American courts to freeze the assets of Iranian companies.

The US Supreme Court in 2016 ruled that about USD 2 billion in frozen Iranian assets must be turned over to American families of people killed in the 1983 bombing of a US Marine Corps barracks in the Lebanese capital of Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran. Tehran has long rejected allegations of involvement in the 1983 Beirut bombing.

The money confiscated under the US court ruling belongs to the CBI. The assets were blocked under US sanctions.

The US formally withdrew from the 1955 treaty in 2018 after Iran filed two claims based on the accord.

Also known as the World Court, the ICJ is the United Nations' top court dealing with disputes between countries. Although the ICJ's rulings are binding, it has no power to enforce them.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/30/700691/Hague-based-ICJ-says-US-violated-intl--law-in-freezing-Iran-assets,-orders-compensation

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'Pakistani Relatives of Scotland's 1st Muslim Leader: 'Witty, A Thorough Gentleman

Aamir Latif 

30.03.2023

MIAN CHANNU, Pakistan

“Witty, easy to mingle with, and a thorough gentleman,” Pakistani relatives recall moments spent with Humza Yousaf, who was elected as Scotland's 1st Muslim leader.

A paternal uncle of the new leader of the Scots, Manzoor Hussain was checking school copies at his home in this small Mian Channu town of Pakistan's northeastern Punjab province when he heard of the big news that his nephew, Humza Yousaf, was elected as the new leader of Scotland.

The history-making development was received with a surprise across the world but for Hussain, and other family members dwelling back in Pakistan, "it was very much expected."

"We were expecting this news since long as we knew that it's just a matter of time, considering his (Yousaf) vigorous nature and profound involvement in Scotland's politics," said Hussain.

“I was informed by my wife who is currently in Edinburgh over the telephone that Humza has been elected (as SNP leader). It was exciting news for me but not at all surprising,” he told Anadolu.

Yousaf, 37, was sworn in as Scotland’s sixth First Minister on Wednesday, becoming the first-ever Muslim leader of any Western European country.

He replaced Nicola Sturgeon as head of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to become the first Muslim to lead a major UK party and the first ethnic minority leader of a devolved government in the UK.

He was elected to the role of the first minister by members of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Yousaf, who joined the SNP in 2005, was also the first South Asian and first Muslim Cabinet secretary to serve in the Scottish government.

In May 2011, he was elected to the Scottish Parliament for the Glasgow region at the age of 26, becoming the youngest-ever MSP at that time.

Though Yousaf was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1985, his grandparents had moved to the country in 1962 from Mian Channu in Punjab, Pakistan. His mother, also of South Asian descent, emigrated to Scotland from Kenya.

Yousaf’s extensive family still dwells in Mian Channu, located some 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the provincial capital Lahore.

From Mian Channu to Edinburgh

Hussain who teaches arts subjects at a local government school said that Yousaf's grandfather had first moved to Kuwait in 1960 along with Yousaf's father who was barely 11 years old. The family later emigrated to Glasgow after a few years.

His ancestral home is located in the middle of a busy street known as "Rail Bazaar," presenting a sorry state of affairs.

Once a spacious place to live, the lower portion of the two-story building has been converted into shops, whereas the upper portion has decayed.

Yousaf visited his ancestral town only once – in 2009 – to attend the wedding of his other uncle, a Scottish national but married to his relative from Mian Channu, according to Hussain.

“Although Yousaf has physically visited us only once, he still remains in touch with his cousins and other family members both in the UK and Mian Channu,” he added.

Yousaf, hailing from an ethnic Rajput community, stayed for 10 days at Hussain's Jinnah Town residence in Mian Channu in 2009.

Recalling Yousaf's visit, Hussain said that Scotland's new leader appeared to be "curious and candid" towards his family roots and members.

"He, at that time, was a parliament member and pursuing his political science degree. He appeared to me an ambitious person, who had already set his goal," he went on to say.

Rafi Anwar Chohan, a cousin of Yousaf's father, recalled his "good sense of humor."

"He was witty and easy to mingle with. I found him as a thorough gentleman," he told Anadolu.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/witty-a-thorough-gentleman-pakistani-relatives-recall-moments-spent-with-scotlands-1st-muslim-leader/2859282

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Arab World

 

Saudi-Iran deal could have ‘calming’ effect on Lebanon, region: Senior US diplomat

30 March ,2023

A senior State Department official said Thursday that the Biden administration remains focused on the Middle East and North Africa, adding that the recent Saudi-Iran normalization deal could have “calming” effects on the region.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf also voiced concern over the instability in several countries, such as Lebanon and Tunisia.

“The administration remains focused on our enduring interests in the Middle East and North Africa,” Leaf said in a call with reporters.

Leaf recently returned from a trip to the region, which included stops in Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Lebanon.

Asked about the recent China-backed agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Leaf said any efforts to de-escalate regional tensions were welcomed.

Leaf cautioned that the agreement would be implemented first, and it remained to be seen whether Iran would live up to its commitments in halting lethal aid and training to militias in Yemen and others that continue to attack Saudi Arabia.

“I don’t really see the Saudis fostering a proxy war in the region. I do see Iran doing that, and if this [new deal] leads to a broader cessation of such activity by Iran, I think it will surely have a calming and beneficial effect for Lebanon as well as other countries in the region,” the top US diplomat for the Middle East said.

Leaf sounded the alarm over the deteriorating situation in Beirut and criticized Lebanese leaders for lacking a sense of urgency to make decisions needed to help the situation.

“Helping the Lebanese people through their time of crises remains a priority for the US as we urge Lebanese leaders to adopt a sense of urgency that they clearly have lacked, and a sense of seriousness and making the critical decisions and taking the critical steps that will put the country on the path out of the current unprecedented crisis,” she said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/30/Saudi-Iran-deal-could-have-calming-effect-on-Lebanon-region-Senior-US-diplomat

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Israel carries out more strikes near Damascus: Syria state media

31 March ,2023

Israel carried out strikes near Damascus early Friday, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported, the second round of aerial attacks in less than 24 hours.

During more than a decade of war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on Syrian territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.

Two Syrian soldiers had been injured in attacks early Thursday, according to the country’s defense ministry.

“At 00:17 (21:17 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial attack by firing several missiles from the occupied Syrian Golan and targeting one of the positions in the vicinity of Damascus,” SANA reported Friday, citing a military source.

The source added that several missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses, reporting material damage.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a Britain-based war monitor, said the strikes targeted positions of the Syrian military and pro-Iran groups in southwest Damascus.

The OSDH added that the missiles destroyed a weapons and ammunition depot, with no casualties reported.

An AFP correspondent in Damascus said he had been awakened by a loud bang.

While Israel rarely comments on the strikes it carries out on Syria, it has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-foe Iran to extend its footprint in the war-torn country.

Last month, an Israeli air strike killed 15 people in a Damascus district that houses state security agencies, the Observatory said at the time.

Last week, an Israeli missile strike destroyed a suspected arms depot used by Iranian-backed militias at Syria’s Aleppo airport, the war monitor said.

On March 7, three people were killed in an Israeli strike on the same airport, putting it out of service. It reopened three days later.

The Syrian war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful anti-government protests and escalated to a deadly armed conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/31/Israel-carries-out-more-strikes-near-Damascus-Syria-state-media-

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Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate UAE president on recent appointments

30 March ,2023

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday congratulated United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on recent high-level appointments in the neighboring Gulf state.

In separate cables sent to the UAE president, both King Salman and the Crown Prince extended their best wishes to Sheikh Mohamed and to the Emirati people, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

King Salman wished the UAE more prosperity while underscoring the deep brotherly bond and the bilateral ties between both countries.

For his part, the Crown Prince “expressed his sincere congratulations, wishing all the new appointees success in serving the UAE to achieve further progress and prosperity,” SPA reported.

Sheikh Mohamed on Wednesday named Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Court, as the country’s vice president alongside current Vice President Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/saudi-arabia/2023/03/30/Saudi-King-Salman-Crown-Prince-congratulate-UAE-president-on-recent-appointments

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Qur’an recitation contest draws melodious voices from across the world

RASHID HASSAN

March 31, 2023

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s second Qur’an recitation and call to prayer competition, the largest of its kind in the world, continues to inspire Muslims to participate from across the world.

The OtrElkalam or Perfumed Speech contest, has since last year been the goal of Syria’s Mohammed Al-Jalab, an interior designer, who has been drawing strength from the holy book because of the devastation in his country, according to reports on the websites of the competition and the broadcaster MBC’s Shahid digital platform.

Al-Jalab completed the memorization of the holy Qur’an at 15. He also studied Tajwid, the science of proper pronunciation, and mastered various maqamat, or melodic modes, used during recitation.

The second edition of OtrElkalam started on March 23, coinciding with the first day of Ramadan.

During Wednesday’s episode, Al-Jalab competed in the Qur’an recitation contest against Morocco’s Zakaria Al-Zirik, who managed to qualify for the next stage of the competition.

In the adhan or call to prayer contest, Syrian contestant Ahmed Darwish, who specializes in electronic production and publishing, competed against Lebanon’s Raheef Al-Hajj, a teacher of maqamat and vocal performances and founder of a specialized academy.

Al-Hajj qualified for the next stage of the competition thanks to the diversity of his maqamat, and his balance between vocal transitions, which dazzled members of the jury.

OtrElkalam is an initiative of the General Entertainment Authority. It was announced in 2019 offering a total prize pool of SR12 million ($3.2 million).

The first version of the show was broadcast in Ramadan 2022 with the participation of some of the best voices in the world. The competition is on MBC daily at 4:30 p.m., Riyadh time.

More than 90,000 participants from more than 160 countries have now participated in the first and current editions of the competition, in front of a specialized jury.

Over 50,000 entrants were whittled down to 50 for the final stage this year in Riyadh. Another selection process by the main jury left 32 contestants, 16 for each section of the competition.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278621/saudi-arabia

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Saudi aid agency distributes 12 tons of food baskets in Bangladesh

March 31, 2023

DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center KSrelief distributed 12 tons of food baskets in three regions in Bangladesh recently, benefiting 3,000 individuals from 500 families.

The center, meanwhile, continued the distribution of food baskets in Albania as part of the aid project 2023 in the country.

The center also distributed five tons and 600 kg of Ramadan food baskets in the city of Malisheva, in Kosovo, benefiting 100 families from the neediest groups.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Al-Bayez, assistant supervisor-general for operations and programs at KSrelief, met with governor of Yemem’s Al-Jawf region, Maj. Gen. Hussein Al-Aji Al-Awadhi.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of common interest related to humanitarian and relief efforts and the development of the Saudi projects implemented in Yemen.

Al-Awadhi commended the relief and humanitarian aid provided by the Kingdom to needy countries and communities, saying this aid contributed to alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278661/saudi-arabia

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India


Muslim Man Leads Ram Navami Procession For 45th Time In Jharkhand's Ramgarh since 1966

Mar 31, 2023

RAMGARH: A Muslim family at Sukairgarha village under the Chitarpur block of the district has set the standards of maintaining peace and communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims since the 60s. The head of the Muslim family, 78-year-old Manjoor Khan got the permit for the 45th time this year to take out a Ram Navami procession which he and his father, Ismail Khan, had been doing since 1966. When Ismail passed away in 1978, Manjoor has been carrying out his father's role. Hindu families in Lari and Sukarigarha villages, who held Khan in high regard, helped him in getting the permit from the administration.

When TOI visited his home, one kilometer away from the Ramgarh-Bokaro stretch of the National Highway-320 around noon on Thursday, Manjoor, who was a former Sarpanch, was busy preparing to lead the Ram Navami procession.

He also displayed a few permits given by the administration to lead Durga Puja and Ram Navami processions in the past.

Manjoor was an intermediate and he said he has been taking part in the processions led by his father right from his childhood.

"Our family respects all religions, be it Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Christianity," Manjoor said, adding, "After my father's passing in 1978, the villagers asked me to continue with my father's legacy."

Apart from leading the procession, Manjoor also has the responsibility to maintain peace and harmony both during and after the celebrations.

The officer-in-charge of Rajrappa police station, Hari Nandan Singh, said the permit to lead the Ram Navami has been issued to Manjoor this year, too, following his application.

Later, Manjoor, clad in a white traditional dhoti and kurta, led the procession with the villagers of Lari and Sukarigarha, who armed themselves with traditional weapons like kathie, bhalai and swords, shouting religious slogans.

Responding to a query, Manjoor said he has full support from both Hindus and Muslims.

A father of five sons, Manjoor, said he is getting old and wants to pass on his responsibility to another villager as none of his sons has no interest to bear his role.

Saraswati Devi, the mukhiya of Lari panchayat, said people of her panchayat felt proud to have Manjoor who with a big heart is spreading messages of peace and communal harmony.

"We wish that Manjoor continues to lead the procession," she said.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/muslim-man-leads-ram-navami-procession-for-45th-time-in-jharkhands-ramgarh/articleshow/99130011.cms?from=mdr

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Hindu Mahasabha Appeal On Shahi Idgah In A Mathura Court

Piyush Srivastava   |   Lucknow

31.03.23

The All India Hindu Mahasabha has moved an application in a Mathura court seeking that its representatives be allowed to be present at the Shahi Idgah when it is surveyed by the revenue department over claims of land ownership by the Hindu side.

Dinesh Sharma, treasurer of the Mahasabha, told reporters on Thursday: “We want to be physically present at the Shahi Idgah when the Ameen (land surveyor) conducts a survey there. We are sure there will be representatives from the Muslim side. Obviously, members of the other side should also be there to ensure impartiality and transparency.”

While hearing a petition filed by the Hindu Sena, a fast-track court of a civil judge senior division had asked the Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday to depute an Ameen to survey the area of the Shahi Idgah and submit a report on April 17. Another local court had given a similar order on December 8, 2022, but the Shahi Masjid Idgah Committee had objected to a survey. The fast-track court upheld the survey order of the lower court.

Vishnu Gupta, the president of the Hindu Sena, and Surjit Singh, its vice-president, have stated in court that the Shahi Idgah, which is located beside the Krishna Janmasthan temple, should be shifted from there as it was built during Aurangzeb’s time by demolishing a part of the Hindu shrine in 1669-70. The Hindu Sena had also claimed that while the Shahi Masjid Idgah Committee and the Sri Krishna Janmasthan Sewa Sangh had entered into an agreement in 1968 to coexist, the Sangh was not authorised to make any such promise.

The Hindu Mahasabha is also a petitioner in the case.

Source: TelegraphIndia

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

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/hindu-mahasabha-appeal-on-shahi-idgah/cid/1926219

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One Killed In Maharashtra Clashes; Violence In Bengal, Gujarat Too During Ram Navami Procession

Mar 31, 2023

One person died from an alleged bullet wound during clashes on Thursday in Maharashtra's Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar on Ram Navami and scores of others were injured in skirmishes in Bengal's Howrah and Gujarat's Vadodara.

In Sambhajinagar, 14 cops were wounded and 13 vehicles torched as two groups indulged in stonepelting and arson. In Bengal, the trouble erupted in Howrah's Shibpur during a Ram Navami procession, prompting cops to fire tear gas shells and resort to lathicharge. In Gujarat's Vadodara, two Navami processions were allegedly pelted with stones.

Violence on Ram Navami kills one in Maha town

One person died from an alleged bullet wound during clashes Thursday in Maharashtra's Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad) on Ram Navami and scores of others were injured in skirmishes in Bengal's Howrah and Gujarat's Vadodara. In Sambhajinagar, 14 policemen were wounded and 13 vehicles - including those of cops - torched as two groups indulged in stone pelting and arson during clashes over an objectionable slogan in Kiradpura area of the city in the wee hours of Thursday.

The police had to fire 11 rounds, besides using tear gas and plastic bullets, to quell the rioting mobs. Inspector Ashok Bhandare told TOI: "One of the injured, who had sustained a bullet injury and had to be put on life support, succumbed to his injury on Thursday evening." The son of the deceased said he was shot near their apartment's gate while stepping out for prayers.

Over 500 people have been booked on charges of rioting, the police said.

Amid a political blame game over the flare-up, Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said the situation "is under control". ADGP (Law and Order) Kulwant Kumar Sarangal said an inquiry was on and warned that "the rioters would not be spared".

In Bengal, the trouble erupted Thursday afternoon in Howrah's Shibpur during a Ram Navami procession, prompting cops to fire tear gas shells and resort to lathi-charge to rein in the marchers. The rally members alleged that a "bomb" and glass bottles were thrown at them.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/one-killed-in-maharashtra-clashes-violence-in-bengal-gujarat-too/articleshow/99126864.cms

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2 Groups Clash, Hurl Stones Over Ram Navami Procession In Front Of Lucknow Mosque

Abhishek Mishra

Mar 31, 2023

A clash broke out between two groups following a spat during a Ram Navami Shobha Yatra that was taken out near Shahi Masjid in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow on Thursday. According to sources, the fight involved stone pelting and physical assault.

The incident took place in the Madiyav village under the Jankipuram police station area at 1.30 pm.

Police said an argument broke out between two groups after a man, identified as Sumit, along with 10-15 other people, played music on a DJ while passing past a mosque, which was objected to by another group.

In the dispute, which reportedly lasted for about 10 minutes, both sides were allegedly involved in stone pelting, physical assault, and destruction of property. Amid the chaos, the DJ's cart was damaged, too.

On being informed, the Assistant Commissioner of Police and other police officials from the Jankipuram Police Station reached the spot and nabbed the miscreants.

DCP Qasim Abidi said, "There wasn't any permission for the procession. Both groups were detained and there was no disruption of peace in the area."

Notably, the police took the CCTV footage in and around the mosque areas into their consideration and further actions will be taken based on the footage gathered.

Though the Hindu group claimed that they had taken permission to carry out the procession, the councillor of the area, Chand Siddiqui, said nobody ever took out a Shobha Yatra via that route and people tried to create unrest by taking out the procession.

Siddiqui spoke about a mutual agreement between the two sides in the matter, but the Hindu group has accused the supporters of the mosque of pelting stones without any reason.

The Jankipuram police station has towed the damaged DJ cart and deployed police officials. After the incident, a group of people from the Hindu community staged a protest outside the police station.

Source: IndiaToday

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

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ram-navami-procession-in-front-of-the-mosque-in-lucknow-vehicle-vandalised-stone-pelted-2353755-2023-03-31

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Muslim Trader Gives Water To Ram Devotees

AnimeshBisoee

31.03.23

A Muslim trader teams up with a local masjid committee to distribute bottled water and sherbat (sweetened drinks with syrups and ice cubes) to devotees taking part in Ramnavami procession setting an example of harmony.

The 50-year-old Abdul Rafique, who runs an air conditioning repairing shop at Kiriburu, which is a township of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) for its iron ore mining units at Chiria and Meghahataburu, in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand is keeping roja (fast) for the Ramadan but still distributed sherbat and bottled water for the participants of the Ramnavami procession.

“Last year, during the Ramnavami procession held in summer (in April) wecould see the devotees thirsting for water due to the hot weather. I had then decided that this year I would be distributing sweet water and bottled mineral water at my own expense. I am happy that the masjid committee has also agreed to help me out,” said Abdul Rafique.

The Muslim trader had ordered for more than 500 mineral water bottles (each of one litre capacity), ice cubes, milk and roohafza (flavoured syrup) for Thursday’s Ramnavami procession.

“I along with my three Muslim staff and my two sons were at the temporary stall alongside the Meena Bazar to distribute mineral waters and those who want sweetened cold drinks. Some masjid committee members have also helped me,” said Rafique.

On Wednesday, when asked if this disturbed his iftar schedules, Rafique said: “Our iftar (breaking of fast) is scheduled at 6pm and the procession will be over by 5pm. It would not affect our schedule. It would be a bit tiring but we are prepared to toil a bit extra for our Hindu Bhai.”

“Kiriburu is still untouched by polarisation and both communities celebrate festivals together and I hope and pray that we remain untouched from the frenzy happening in other parts of the country in the name of politics,” added Rafique.

Kiriburu Masjid Committee official Abrar Ahmed also agreed that there never has been any communal flare-up in the township so far.

“We stay and celebrate both festivals with peace and harmony. We will be helping Abdul in his mission to serve the Ram bhakts during the procession.

“In fact in several partsof Jharkhand we have Muslims making Ramnavami flags for our Hindu brethren for several decades without any discord,” said Ahmad on Wednesday.

Incidentally, in several parts of Jharkhand, including Chatra and Ranchi, Ramnavami flags are prepared by Muslims.

Source:TelegraphIndia

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

https://www.telegraphindia.com/jharkhand/muslim-trader-gives-water-to-ram-devotees/cid/1926197

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Three Anand wards to get extra hours of water supply for Ramadan

March 31, 2023

In a “compassionate” move, the Water Works Committee of the BJP-run Anand Municipality has decided to supply additional water for two hours in the minority-dominated areas to resolve the water crisis during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan. Committee chairperson Sumitra Padhiyar said the decision was taken to “resolve the water crisis” in the fasting month as the areas are at an elevation.

Padhiyar, who has instructed to supply the additional water to the three wards of the municipality until Ramadan, said, “There is a water problem in the areas under Ward 3, 4, and 5. These are dominated by minority communities, especially Muslims, who are observing Ramadan fast. This week, they made a representation to the president of the municipality (Rupal Patel), seeking resolution to the water crisis… It was decided (to supply additional water) on compassion as they cited Ramadan.”

The Water Works Committee has instructed that additional water be supplied to the three wards from 2 pm to 4 pm during the Ramadan month, in addition to the usual 5 am to 7 am and 5 pm to 6 pm. It has also recommended that the time for the water supply in the evening be increased by an hour during the summer.

Padhiyar said the general practice was to inject borewell water in great force into the pipeline to push the water to the elevated areas. “The reason for the problem in the area is that we have a water tank in the vicinity but a new borewell has not been dug after a previous one failed… The wards are located on higher ground and the water pressure is generally low. Generally, the bore water, which has good pressure, pushes the tank water through but the bore has now become dysfunctional.” she said.

The minority community members in the area “happily” welcomed the decision. “We are observing Ramadan. Water has always been an issue and even previously, the municipality had supplied additional water when the pressure was low. We made the same request citing Ramadan, especially since the usual time coincides with our morning and evening rituals. By providing additional water, the municipality has ensured that no one will go without water during the holy month,” said Faridabano, a resident of Ward 3 that has a population of about 19,000.

Source: Indian Express

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

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/three-anand-wards-to-get-extra-hours-of-water-supply-for-ramadan-8529228/

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Jharkhand: Muslim man thrashed by Hindutva goons, rescued by Adivasis

30th March 2023

A 42-year-old Muslim man was allegedly assaulted by Hindutva men in Balidih village of Jharkhand on suspicion of cow theft.

Manzoor Khan, who hails from Chichikala village of Jharkhand, is a welder by profession. He was on his way to work when his motorcycle was stopped by a few people.

In a viral video that has surfaced on social media platforms, Manzoor recalled the details of the incident.

“I was surrounded by a few men who enquired about my name. Upon realising I am a Muslim they accused me of stealing a cow from their locality,” Manzoor said.

Soon a mob of about 40-50 men turned up and started beating him mercilessly.

“I am a gate griller. They did not bother to listen to me and kept assaulting me ruthlessly. I was rescued by a few Adivasis who took me to a nearby hospital,” Manzoor said.

Manzoor said he recognised one of his attackers. “A person called Vicky was also present in the mob,” he said demanding FIR against his attackers.

Muslim man assaulted in Khandwa

In another similar incident, A Muslim young man was stabbed in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa city.

According to reports, the victim was wandering through a locality when he was suddenly surrounded by a few Hindutva men who started questioning him.

Source:Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/jharkhand-muslim-man-thrashed-by-hindutva-goons-rescued-by-adivasis-2558013/

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Jharkhand cops rescue Muslim man from mob after beef found in house; 6 injured

30th March 2023

Dhanbad: The police on Thursday rescued a youth, a resident of Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district, from a rampaging mob that claimed that beef was found in his house.

Six people including three police personnel were injured and the force used batons to disperse the attackers who also ransacked police vehicles and set on fire some goods kept in front of the house of the accused.

Slaughter of bovine animals and selling their meat are banned in Jharkhand.

The situation is under control now, Nirsa Sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Pitamber Singh Kherwar said.

The incident occurred at Bhurkunda locality under Nirsa police station, around 190 km from the state capital Ranchi, where some villagers reportedly found a slaughtered cow and its meat in the house of a person identified as Nasruddin Ansari.

Soon, a mob assembled there and started throwing stones at the house. Some household goods kept in front of it were torched.

Ansari and his family members manage to flee but his son Sahabuddin was caught by the mob and he was tied to a tree, police said.

The situation came under control after Superintendent of Police (rural) ReeshmaRameshan reached the spot and assured the villagers to take action against the culprit.

Nirsa MLA Aparna Sengupta also reached the village and tried to pacify the villagers.

Source:Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/jharkhand-cops-save-muslim-man-from-mob-after-beef-found-in-house-6-injured-2558275/

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Europe

 

Turkey's parliament ratifies Finland's membership in NATO

Mar 31, 2023

ANKARA: Turkey's parliament on Thursday ratified Finland's application to join NATO, lifting the last hurdle in the way of the Nordic country's long-delayed accession into the Western military alliance.

All 276 lawmakers present voted in favor of Finland's bid, days after Hungary's parliament also endorsed Helsinki's accession.

"This will make the whole NATO family stronger & safer," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter in welcoming Turkey's action.

Alarmed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Finland and Sweden abandoned their decades-long policy of nonalignment and applied to join the alliance.

Full unanimity is required to admit new members into the 30-member alliance, and Turkey and Hungary were the last two NATO members to ratify Finland's accession.

Sweden's bid to join the alliance, meanwhile, has been left hanging, with both Turkey and Hungary holding out on giving it the green light despite expressing support for NATO's expansion.

Turkey's government accuses Sweden of being too lenient toward groups it deems to be terrorist organizations and security threats, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.

More recently, Turkey was angered by a series of demonstrations in Sweden, including a protest by an anti-Islam activist who burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy.

Hungary's government contends some Swedish politicians have made derisive statements about the condition of Hungary's democracy and played an active role in ensuring that billions in European Union funds were frozen over alleged rule-of-law and democracy violations.

Turkish officials have said that unlike Sweden, Finland fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum signed last year under which the two countries pledged to address Turkey's security concerns.

"As a NATO member, we naturally had some expectations and requests regarding the security concerns of our country," Akif CagatayKilic, a legislator from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's governing party, told parliament before the vote. "I would like to underline the concrete steps and their implementation by Finland, which supported and shaped the decision we are taking here."

Kilic added: "I'm aware that there is a large number of people watching us from Finland. ... We can say to them: 'Welcome to NATO.'"

Some opposition parties were critical of the Turkish government's position toward the two Nordic countries.

"Unfortunately, (Erdogan's ruling party) turned the right to veto Finland and Sweden's membership bids into a tool for blackmail and threat. We do not approve of it," said HisyarOzsoy, a legislator from the pro-Kurdish party. "We find the bargaining process (to press for) the extradition of Kurdish dissident writers, politicians and journalists ... to be ugly, wrong and unlawful."

Asked earlier this week about Sweden's NATO membership, Erdogan told reporters: "There are certain things we expect of them. They must be fulfilled first."

Sweden, which made constitutional changes to pass tougher anti-terrorism laws, has expressed hope that it will be able to join before NATO's July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

"Sweden faces more significant obstacles in its bid," Hamish Kinnear, Middle East and North Africa analyst at the risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, wrote in emailed comments.

"Turkey is unlikely to approve its acceptance into the alliance before the election in May. The Quran burning incident sparked popular rage in Turkey and President Tayyip Recep Erdogan won't want to risk angering his conservative base ahead of the polls," Kinnear said.

The accession of Finland, which has a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border with Russia, has geographic and political importance for NATO, said Mai'a Cross, professor of political science at Northeastern University.

"Finland is at a very important strategic location and having that kind of shift from neutrality to respond to Russia's aggression is bolstering the demonstration of the political will of NATO," she said.

Cross added that the delay gave Finland more of a chance to prepare.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/turkeys-parliament-ratifies-finlands-membership-in-nato/articleshow/99128322.cms

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Elderly Muslim man walking home from mosque attacked in UK

Mehmet Solmaz

30.03.2023

BIRMINGHAM, UK

A 73-year-old pensioner was attacked by three men as he was walking home from a mosque in Birmingham’s Kings Heath neighborhood on Wednesday night.

The victim was taken to hospital with a broken hand and cuts to his face. In the videos circulated on social media, blood is seen streaming down from the man’s face.

CCTV camera footage showed the attackers were sitting in a black vehicle prior to the assault. One kicked him hard in the back, causing him to fall and hit his head on a display board. The group is then seen fleeing the scene immediately.

"This was an appalling attack on a member of the public who was heading home. We'll be taking a full statement from the victim, who remains in hospital today, and we've already got officers in the area this morning recovering CCTV and carrying out house-to-house inquiry. We are working hard to identify the attackers and the car that they were in,” said Sergeant Chris Gallon of Moseley and Kings Heath police.

The attackers are described as two white men and one Black man, all aged between 18 and 30 who were wearing tracksuits.

West Midlands police do not think there is any connection to an attack on another elderly Muslim man who was set on fire while walking home from another Birmingham mosque on March 20.

Birmingham, a city with a population of 1.2 million, is home to more than 300,000 Muslims. The minority group is said to be not only facing discrimination in their daily lives, but also physical attacks.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/elderly-muslim-man-walking-home-from-mosque-attacked-in-uk/2859602

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British Muslims welcome Humza Yousaf’s election as Scotland’s first minister

ALEX WHITEMAN

March 30, 2023

LONDON: Muslim community leaders and MPs have welcomed the election of Humza Yousaf as leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland’s first minister.

His win adds to successes in Muslim representation within the UK’s political establishment in recent years, including Sadiq Khan’s election as London mayor in 2016 and re-election in 2021, the election of a record 18 Muslim MPs in the 2019 general election, and the SNP’s Anum Qaisar taking a by-election victory two years later. 

Sunder Katwala, director of think tank British Future, which looks to foster diversity and inclusion, singled out the “pressure” that built following 9/11 and the London bombings of July 7, 2005, as a catalyst in this movement. 

“In that moment of pressure and scrutiny, there was something that seemed to catalyze the determination among British Muslims to push toward greater integration and inclusion, and push back against the negativity surrounding Islam in the UK,” he told Arab News.

“If you travel abroad, it couldn’t be clearer. Maybe Canada aside, Britain is alone in its cross-party diversity.

“France has candidates from minority backgrounds on the left but not on the right. It has been normalized now (in Britain), rather than seen as exceptional, which can only be good.”

In Holyrood, Scotland’s Parliament, Yousaf — who in replacing Nicola Sturgeon became the first Muslim leader of a major political party in Western Europe — faces off against another Muslim at the despatch box, head of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar.

Afzal Khan, elected as MP for Manchester Gorton in 2017, said “despite our political differences it’s excellent news to see Humza win,” telling Arab News that each minority success in politics is a “manifestation of change and improvement.”

Afzal added: “Before becoming an MP, I was the youngest Lord Mayor of Manchester and I became the UK’s first Muslim minister for the European Parliament by beating the British National Party’s Nick Griffin, and I’m from a working-class background.

“They talk about Sadiq Khan being the son of a bus driver. I was a bus driver, and I think this is very important.

“We’re all from different backgrounds. Even when I look at (British Prime Minister) Rishi Sunak, he’s not Muslim and he’s from incredible wealth, but his success sends a powerful message.”

Katwala said the participation of Muslim Britons in national life remains underexplored despite there being more than a century’s worth of Muslims living in the country, with the community largely ignored by wider society and the press until the 1990s.

But Noor Ahmed, general manager of the Citizens’ Archive of Pakistan, said the “long and interlinked history” of the UK and South Asia detailed in the archives she administers showed that there had always been involvement in political life, if not representation.

“Involvement was always there. It wasn’t as prominent as it is now, and it’s definitely new to see these communities represented in the way they are now — it sort of gives a formality to it,” Ahmed told Arab News.

“It’s a rising trend that we’re certainly seeing play out, and the appointment of Humza, whose family is of Pakistani heritage, to lead Scotland’s largest party and the third-largest party in the UK was lauded in Pakistan and offers an incredibly aspirational story.”

Yousaf, 37, narrowly won the leadership race on Monday after a bruising contest that followed the surprise resignation last month of Sturgeon, who had dominated Scottish politics for almost a decade.

As much as his win, it is Yousaf’s willingness to not only discuss but show his faith that offers Mustafa Field, director of the Faiths Forum for London, the greatest encouragement that the UK is becoming increasingly accepting.

“It’s really exciting having someone showing their cultural and religious sides comfortably. There was something incredibly powerful about Yousaf tweeting a picture of himself praying — that visual display of his comfort in showing his faith,” Field told Arab News.

“There are conservative voices asking how one can reconcile faith and politics, and we saw this with the SNP election, but I think Yousaf shows the way you can separate faith and duty, with the latter recognition of your constituency.

“Unlike other politicians, Humza has been open about his faith. This is important, and it’s why there has been a lot of celebration in the Muslim community over his success, even from those who differ with him politically.”

Dr. Rima Saini, senior lecturer in sociology at Middlesex University London, said in recent years the Conservative Party had been “framed” as a political home for aspirational ethnic minority politicians, “albeit upper-middle-class and right-wing” ones.

But she added that this appears to be shifting, with greater traction and mainstream support for Muslims in senior political leadership outside of the Conservatives, pointing to the numbers elected in both the Labour Party and the SNP on “relatively progressive platforms.”

Saini told Arab News: “This signals that these parties hold a home for minorities, particularly those with a Muslim background who are — and this is important — hyper-racialized and more socioeconomically diverse than the British Hindu and Sikh diaspora, for example.

“Whether these political appointments point to a general decline in racism and Islamophobia is unclear, especially if we consider how strong xenophobic and racist sentiment has been in the UK since Brexit, and the government’s ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration.

“Furthermore, politics in all corners still lacks class inclusivity, particularly at the top. At the risk of homogenizing a diverse sub-population, these are nonetheless meaningful symbolic gains for British Muslims.”

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278391/world

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French police under fire for tear gassing of Arab cameraman covering protests

AlaattinDoğru

31.03.2023

Police in France have come under fire after footage emerged Thursday of an officer spraying tear gas at an Arab cameraman who was covering protests against the government’s controversial pension reform.

Loopsider, a video social media news platform, shared footage of their cameraman Amar Taoualit being blocked by riot police while filming anti-retirement reform demonstrations in Paris on March 16.

According to the footage, Taoualit filmed the police cornering a group of demonstrators while officers pressured him to back off.

"I'm working. I'm a journalist. Are you attacking journalists? I have a press card. I'm recording right now. Be careful, this will be online," he says in the footage.

"Go home. Get lost," an officer responds while spraying tear gas directly in his face.

Despite showing his press card, the police insistently sprayed Taoualit for a second time, preventing him from filming by removing him from the area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/french-police-under-fire-for-tear-gassing-of-arab-cameraman-covering-protests/2859920

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Denmark’s ruling coalition divided over repatriation of Danish women, children from Syrian camp

Ebad Ahmed 

31.03.2023

COPENHAGEN

Divisions have appeared within Denmark’s ruling coalition over the issue of the repatriation of Danish citizens, women and children, from the Roj detention camp in northeastern Syria.

A junior coalition partner, the Moderate party, wants Danish children to be repatriated even if it requires their mothers to be alongside them, while the other two parties – the Social Democrats and Liberals – oppose the return of the women to Denmark as they say they have been sympathizers or spouses of Daesh/ISIS militants.

Reports suggest that five children and three mothers with Danish backgrounds are in the camp, where they are serving sentences for an undefined period. Meanwhile, human rights organizations have expressed concern over the abysmal conditions at the camp and have questioned Danish authorities over the lack of action to repatriate children with Danish backgrounds.

The current government policy does not mandate the authorities to evacuate children from the camps without their guardians (mothers), while the mothers cannot be brought back home due to the revocation of their Danish citizenship.

The developments come against the backdrop of Norway repatriating two sisters from Syria along with their three children on the grounds of the abysmal conditions in the camp.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/denmark-s-ruling-coalition-divided-over-repatriation-of-danish-women-children-from-syrian-camp/2859917

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North America

 

Xavier Pelkey, 19-Year-Old, From Maine Who Allegedly Built Homemade Explosives Plans To Plead Guilty In Plan To Attack Mosque

March 30, 2023

A 19-year-old from Maine who the FBI says built homemade explosives and plotted to attack a mosque in the name of the Islamic State group will plead guilty to providing material support to terrorists.

Xavier Pelkey of Waterville faces a maximum of 15 years in prison under a plea agreement in which a second charge will be dropped, according to court documents filed Wednesday. The change-of-plea hearing is set for next week in U.S. District Court.

Pelkey’s attorney did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.

Law enforcement officials said Pelkey was in communication with two juveniles — one in Canada, the other in Illinois — about conducting a mass shooting at a Shiite mosque in the Chicago area and possibly other houses of worship. All three alleged plotters believed in a radical form of Sunni Islam that views the Shiite branch of Islam as nonbelievers, officials said.

Pelkey was 18 when he was arrested last year by FBI agents who found three homemade explosives in his residence. The devices were made of fireworks bundled together with staples, pins and thumb tacks to create shrapnel, the FBI said.

Investigators also found a handwritten document in Pelkey’s bedroom that appeared to be a draft statement about the planned mosque attack, claiming it in the name of the Islamic State group. In the statement, Pelkey claimed allegiance to the extremist Sunni militant group, and an IS flag was painted on the wall of his bedroom, investigators said.

Source: FoxNews

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

https://www.foxnews.com/us/19-year-old-maine-allegedly-built-homemade-explosives-plans-plead-guilty-plan-attack-mosque

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Blinken affirms Israel ties, warns on peace after Netanyahu spat

31 March ,2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday pledged enduring ties with Israel but warned against inflaming tensions with the Palestinians, following a rare public spat between the allies.

President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters Tuesday, called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step back from a bid to weaken the judiciary that has set off massive protests.

Netanyahu, who at least temporarily froze the push faced with a general strike, responded that he would not bow to foreign pressure but took a more conciliatory tone when he participated in a democracy summit called by Biden.

In the highest level contact since the exchange, Blinken called Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and “reaffirmed the importance of the enduring US- Israel bilateral relationship,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said.

Blinken also discussed Iran, seen by Netanyahu as a paramount threat, and renewed US support for a Palestinian state -- an idea rejected by much of Netanyahu’s hard-right government.

The top US diplomat “emphasized the importance of refraining from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions,” Patel said in a statement.

Biden, who has known Netanyahu for decades, took office hoping to avoid a replay of the public feuding with the Israeli leader seen when he was Barack Obama’s vice president.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/31/Blinken-affirms-Israel-ties-warns-on-peace-after-Netanyahu-spat-

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US retaliatory airstrikes in Syria killed 8 Iran-backed militants: Pentagon

30 March ,2023

The US airstrikes in Syria that targeted Iran-backed fighters last week killed eight militants, the Pentagon said for the first time on Thursday.

The fighters killed were associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) but were not Iranian, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.

Another six American troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) as a result of the drone and rocket attacks, Ryder said.

A series of tit-for-tat exchanges occurred between Iran-backed militias and US forces last Thursday following an initial drone strike on a US base, which killed an American contractor and wounded six other Americans.

CENTCOM then said another three attacks targeted US and Coalition forces in Syria on the evening of March 24th and March 25th. A main Syrian war monitoring group said US strikes killed at least 19 fighters.

President Joe Biden ordered the US military to hold off on a second round of attacks against the Iran-backed militias late Friday, the Wall Street Journal cited a senior US official as saying.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/03/30/US-retaliatory-airstrikes-in-Syria-killed-8-Iran-backed-militants-Pentagon

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Pentagon: Several US troops suffer 'traumatic brain injuries' in Syria

30 March 2023

The Pentagon has said several US troops suffered injuries during last week's attacks in Syria, part of which they are occupying against international law, violating the Arab country’s sovereignty.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said on Thursday four service members suffered traumatic brain injuries near the Syrian city of Hasaka during a drone attack on March 23, and two others suffered injuries at mission support site Green Village during an attack on March 24.

"All personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury. So these additional injuries were identified during post-attack medical screenings," Ryder told a news briefing.

The Pentagon's disclosure further raises the human toll among American occupation forces from strikes and counter-strikes in Syria last week to a total of 12 US troops injured. The attacks also killed a US mercenary and injured another.

As a matter of policy, the US military does not openly acknowledges when it suffer casualties in the occupied territories due to retaliatory attacks by resistance fighters.  It rather uses the term “brain injuries” for fallen soldiers, according to local officials.

The officials say the term “brain injuries” reflects the number of dead, which the US hesitates to formally announce.

Last week, the US military carried out multiple air strikes in the eastern parts of the Arab country.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said the strikes in Syria against the positions of resistance fighters were carried out at the direction of Biden and targeted facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

However, local sources pointed out that the target was not an Iran-aligned military post as the US military claimed, but rather a rural development center and a grain center in Hrabash neighborhood, near Dayr al-Zawr military airport. No Iranian was killed in the act of aggression.

A military source in Syria told Press TV that the resistance groups reserve their right to respond to the American attack and will take reciprocal action.

Last week, after the Pentagon carried out multiple airstrikes against Syrian troops, a military base housing US forces in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr came under a rocket attack.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/30/700700/Pentagon--US-troops-suffer-traumatic-brain-injuries-in-Syria

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Pakistan

 

TTP Militants Kill 4 Police Officers, Injure 6 in Northwest Pakistan

By Fidel Rahmati

March 30, 2023

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, in a pair of attacks, killed four police officers by targeting a police vehicle with a roadside bomb and wounded six in an attack on a police station in northwest Pakistan early Thursday, police and the insurgents said.

The bomb killed four officers in a police vehicle carrying reinforcements sent to respond to the attack on a police station in LakkiMarwat, a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. Six officers were wounded in the attack at the police station.

TTP claimed responsibility for both attacks and said that one of the murdered police officers, Iqbal Mohmand, was targeted because he was responsible for the arrest and execution of some of its fighters.

Shahbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, denounced the attack and expressed sorrow for the “martyrdom” of the cops who were attacked.

Since the unilateral ending of the ceasefire with the government of Pakistan, the TTP militants have intensified their attacks on Pakistani police officers, ordinary people and foreign nationals.

In January, the group took responsibility for the Peshawar mosque’s deadliest attack in which more than 100 people were killed and several others were wounded.

In addition, the Police Chief office in Panjab in February took the lives of more than nine people and injured several others.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/ttp-militants-kill-4-police-officers-injure-6-in-northwest-pakistan/

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Pakistan initiates outsourcing of three major airports

Mar 30, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday initiated a process to outsource operations at three major airports as a public private partnership, a finance ministry statement said.

It said Islamabad has engaged the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) as an advisor for the outsourcing process.

Pakistan has been in talks with Qatar for the partnership to jointly run terminals at Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore airports.

No details of the partnership, or any agreement have been made official.

Islamabad has been negotiating the deal with Doha for several months, that began as part of an effort to find foreign investment for the cash-strapped nation of 220 million people.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-initiates-outsourcing-of-three-major-airports/articleshow/99121217.cms

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To fight climate change, Islamic seminary in southern Pakistan turns to fruit plantations

NAIMAT KHAN

March 30, 2023

KARACHI: A seminary in southern Pakistan has set a new trend for religious schools as it cultivates large swathes of land to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Pakistan contributes less than 1 percent of the global greenhouse gases that warm our planet but its geography makes it one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Last year, one-third of the country was submerged by unprecedented monsoon floods that claimed the lives of more than 1,700 people and caused an estimated $30 billion in damage.

Located in Hala village in Sindh, a province that was one of the worst affected by the floods, the Jamia-Tul-Uloom-il-Islamia boarding school also saw its orchards destroyed, which made it even more determined in its tree-planting drive.

“What’s happening due to climate change makes it essential for us to plant more and more trees to stop its adverse effects,” Umar Farooq, who supervises the institute’s agricultural land, told Arab News.

The seminary, which is also a trailblazer in introducing science alongside religious education, has been planting trees for the past four years.

It now has 8,500 mango trees, 1,400 date palms and a lemon orchard.

“Seeing the havoc that floods wreaked recently, we will have to plant more trees,” Farooq said. “We have been expanding our orchards with the help of scientific methods.”

When it was established in the 1950s, the school received farmland to grow crops and meet its administrative needs. The idea was unique as most Islamic boarding schools in South Asia rely on external funding.

But it was only with the tree-planting drive that this potential began to be realized, as Jamia-Tul-Uloom-il-Islamia’s management observed that its orchards could bear fruit that could be sold for income.

“We have planted orchards in the surrounding fields, which will improve the weather conditions and also increase the income and resources of our seminary,” Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Bhutto, the seminary’s administrator, told Arab News.

The management is aware of the worsening impacts of the changing climate and is trying to engage students as well in efforts to mitigate it, at least to lessen their contribution to global warming and raise awareness.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278396/world

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IHC approached for criminal case against Gen Bajwa

Malik Asad

March 31, 2023

ISLAMABAD: A petition has been filed in Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking registration of a criminal case against former army chief retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, ex-director general Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Faiz Hameed and two journalists for making certain revelations in an interview of the ex-army chief.

The registrar office of the IHC, however, raised objections on the petition and asked the petitioner to first approach the appropriate forum.

Atif Ali in his petition contended that the interview of Gen Bajwa was conducted in a “reckless” manner and the journalists, Javed Chaudhry and Shahid Maitla, did not show any sense of responsibility in publishing them.

The petition said the revelations made in the interview were a violation of the Official Secret Act and tantamount to inciting mutiny and disharmony.

It requested the court to issue directions to the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to register an FIR against Gen Bajwa, Gen Faiz and the two journalists.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1745020/ihc-approached-for-criminal-case-against-gen-bajwa

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Imran only concerned with polls in 90 days

Abdul Moiz Malik

March 31, 2023

KARACHI: PTI Chair­man Imran Khan said it would make no difference if a five-member bench or a larger bench of the Supreme Court takes up his party’s petition against delay in polls in Punjab as his only concern was whether or not elections will be held in 90 days.

“Whether it’s a 5 [member] SC bench or Full Bench, it makes no difference to us [because] all we want to know is if elections will be held within the 90 days’ constitutional provision,” Mr Khan said in a series of tweets on Thursday.

“Before we dissolved our two [provincial] assemblies, I consulted our top constitutional lawyers, all of whom were absolutely clear that the 90-day Constitutional provision on holding of elections was inviolable,” the PTI chief tweeted.

He said the incumbent government was “cherry picking” constitutional provisions they want to implement and are ready to destroy the Consti­tutions to “whitewash their leaders”.

The “imported government, their handlers and a compromised ECP” were making a “complete mockery of the Constitution” by delaying the polls, he continued.

The PTI chief’s comments have come on the day when the bench hearing the case stood dissolved after one of the judges, Justice Aminuddin Khan, recused himself from hearing. Now a fresh Supreme Court bench will take up the case tomorrow (Friday).

Lasting nerve damage

Separately, Mr Khan has claimed that his right leg suffered lasting nerve damage as a result of the assassination attempt on his life in Wazirabad in November 2022.

In an interview with UK paper The Independent, Mr Khan revealed that two bullet wounds to his thigh have healed, while the third bullet shattered his shin bone and damaged a nerve.

“I have had more problems with the impact of the nerve damage than the bullet wounds,” he said in the interview published on Thursday.

“I still can’t walk properly, I still don’t have proper sensation in my right foot. That’s a lasting effect, which the doctor says eventually with time will heal, will go away.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Khan also talked about the government’s action, his party’s elections campaign and foreign policy.

Talking about the current political situation, Mr Khan said what’s happening today was unprecedented and he had “never seen Pakistan sink to this level”.

He added that he was put in jail for eight days for opposing the military dictatorship of former president Pervez Musharraf but his time in jail was “liberal compared to what is going on [now].”

Commenting on the cases and police actions against him, Mr Khan claimed some of the persecution he was facing was near “farcical”. He claimed the police beat up his household staff and detained his cook during the raid at his house on March 18 when he went to appear in an Islamabad court.

“They beat him up and took him away, put him in prison and asked him: ‘What does Imran eat?’,” The Independent quoted Mr Khan as saying.

On the disappearance of PTI activist AzharMashawani, Mr Khan told The Independent that he has been targeted for being active on social media and propagating the PTI’s message.

“They’ve completely clamped down on the main media, they basically don’t allow me to be seen in the national media,” he said. “Now they are clamping down on social media, and the whole idea is that they should somehow completely black me out.”

Comparison with Trump

When asked about comparisons with former US president Donald Trump, Mr Khan said his ideology was different from Mr Trump but they both had one thing in common: they were outsiders in politics.

“My ideology is completely different to what Donald Trump stood for. He said greed is not a bad thing, I am the opposite. I feel that the world is being destroyed by greed. I also saw the impact of climate change much before anyone else did, and Donald Trump didn’t believe in that,” Mr Khan told The Independent.

On the foreign policy front, Mr Khan was asked about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the day Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb 2022 and whether he’d mend ties with Russia and buy cheap oil given Pakistan’s dire economic situation if he returned to power.

The former PM admitted the timing of his visit to Moscow was a “bad” and said going to Russia at this moment would mean he was “endorsing what Russia has done” in Ukraine.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1745112

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JUI-F chief assures PM of coalition’s support

Syed Irfan Raza

March 31, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Mau­la­­na Fazlur Rehman, who heads the Pakistan Demo­cratic Movement (PDM), called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thurs­day and assured him of “full support” on behalf of all parties in the ruling coalition over the political, judicial and economic impasse.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Maul­a­­na Rehman congratulated Shehbaz Sharif over passage of the suo motu powers bill by parliament this week.

The two leaders discussed the political and economic situation, with emphasis on elections to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

The two houses were dissolved by the PTI-led provincial governments in January to pressure the federal government into bringing forward the date for holding the general election, scheduled for October.

PM felicitates UAE rulers

Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif has extended felicitations to Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his appointment as vice president of the United Arab Emirates.

“May this new chapter be filled with success and prosperity for the UAE and its people,” he said in a tweet.

The prime minister also congratulated Sheikh Khaled Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his appointment as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1745093/jui-f-chief-assures-pm-of-coalitions-support

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DSP among 4 police officers martyred in LakkiMarwat blast

Zahid Imdad | Tahir Khan

March 30, 2023

A deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and three constables were martyred when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off on the Pirwala Road in LakkiMarwat on Thursday, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police said.

According to the police, the blast occurred as the personnel were en route to the Saddar police station, where policemen were fending off an attack under way.

"The DSP, along with a heavy contingent, left for the police station after he received information regarding a terrorist attack there.

"On the way, near the Pirwala turn, an IED blast occurred in which DSP Iqbal Momand and constables Ali Marjan, Waqar and Karamatullah were martyred," it added.

LakkiMarwat police spokesperson Shahid Hameed told Dawn.com that terrorists opened fire at the Saddar police station in the early hours today. Resultantly, an exchange of fire took place between the police and the terrorists.

During the gunfight, six policemen were injured, he said. The wounded men, identified as Head Constable Farooq Shah and constables Amanatullah, Asghar, Sardar Ali and Arif have been moved to the Lakki City Hospital.

A police statement also revealed that the militants were equipped with advanced and heavy weaponry. “The police were on alert and the attackers had to flee when the police returned fire."

The terrorists fled while taking advantage of the darkness, it added.

Later, funerals of the slain policemen were offered at the Police Line, which was attended by senior police officers.

The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the attack in a statement.

Talking to Dawn.com, former chief of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, Ihsan Ghani, said that the police are a "soft target" for armed groups.

Ghani, who has also served as chief of the KP police, said that police routinely come under attack as they are on the streets and perform duties anywhere. “We are now alone in the war on terrorism,” he added.

Condemning the incident, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the sacrifices of police officers in the war against terrorism were unforgettable and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured persons.

In a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, PM Shehbaz paid homage to the martyred DSP and policemen in a statement issued by the prime minister's office.

"Police are performing magnificent duties against the terrorist as the first line of defence. Elimination of terrorism is a must for Pakistan's survival and development," PM Shehbaz said.

The prime minister extended condolences to the bereaved families. He also said that the police at Saddar station bravely countered the terrorist attack.

Surge in terrorism

The latest attack comes as terrorism in Pakistan has been rearing its head again. Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country — especially in KP and Balochistan has worsened — with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the outlawed TTP.

In Jan, a powerful suicide blast in a mosque in Peshawar Police Lines killed 84 people and injured many others.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1744973/dsp-among-4-police-officers-martyred-in-lakki-marwat-blast

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian Buddhists step out to support Muslims in Ramadan fast

SHEANY YASUKO LAI

March 30, 2023

JAKARTA: As millions of people in Muslim-majority Indonesia are observing the fasting month of Ramadan, members of the Buddhist community have been extending their support and preparing iftar meals for those breaking their fast at dusk.

Muslims comprise nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 277 million population, but the multifaith nation officially recognizes six religions, including Buddhism, which has an estimated 2 million followers. Since Ramadan began last week, many Buddhist temples across the country have been extending support to their Muslim neighbors.

In Cirebon, West Java province, members of the Dewi WelasAsih Temple congregation have come together to prepare iftar meals throughout the fasting month.

They hand out meal boxes around 4 p.m., right before sunset, hoping to reach the people who need their support the most. Each box consists of rice, sauteed vegetables, fried eggs and either chicken or beef, all home-cooked.

“It doesn’t matter what religion you have, if there is one good moment to do good deeds, all of us here at the Dewi WelasAsih Temple believe that it’s very wise, right, and honorable to give back, even if it’s not on your own religious holiday,” YuliaHiyanto, who has been organizing the temple’s iftar activities, told Arab News.

“When we are able to give back and it is accepted with a smile…my heart feels something that can neither be described nor bought, and I hear this from other friends too, this feeling of utmost happiness.”

In a similar spirit, the youth of the Dhanagun Temple in Bogor, also in West Java, are dedicating their Sundays throughout Ramadan month to reach out as many people as they can across the city and hand out snacks commonly eaten in Indonesia to break the fast.

“It is our hope that our program can help people in need, especially Muslims in Bogor, who are now fasting,” said Hansen, the temple’s youth leader.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278451/world

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In police report, woman says Johor Islamic authorities harassing her over lawsuit against unilateral conversion

By Ida Lim

30 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — A Johor woman has accused an Islamic body from Kota Tinggi of harassment, alleging its officers visited to allegedly “scold” her for a lawsuit seeking to challenge a Johor state law allowing the unilateral conversion of children to Islam.

Malay Mail has withheld the identity of the woman for her personal safety. In her lawsuit filed earlier this month, she said she was converted to Islam as a child in Johor by only one of her parents and without consent from the other parent, but did not profess Islam and instead practised Hinduism.

In a police report she lodged this morning, the woman said five officers from the Kota Tinggi Islamic Religious Department came to her house yesterday afternoon in a van, with the only uniformed officer introducing the group to be officers of the department.

Alone at her house with her three children, the woman said they had asked her to open her door, and they had then entered her house and scolded her for filing a lawsuit against the Johor state government. She is both a plaintiff and a witness in that lawsuit.

In the same police report, the woman said those officers had scolded her for not wearing a tudung (Muslim headscarf) in her own home.

She said the officers had breached her privacy by taking videos and photos of her, her three young children and her house without her permission. She added that she had lodged the police report out of fear and worry for the safety of herself and her children.

On March 3, this woman had along with 13 others filed a lawsuit against eight laws enabling unilateral conversion to Islam in seven states and Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.

The eight respondents in the lawsuit were named as the state governments of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and the government of the federal territories of Malaysia.

This afternoon, Arun Dorasamy — who is also one of the 14 plaintiffs who had filed the lawsuit — described the Kota Tinggi Islamic religious body’s visit to the woman’s house as “harassment”.

Arun, otherwise known as Arumugam Dorasamy, was speaking on behalf of the legal unit in non-governmental organisationPertubuhan Hindu Agamam Ani Malaysia. The organisation, which deals with the Hindu community’s social welfare, is also one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Arun said any Islamic bodies should instead challenge the lawsuit in the courts, instead of carrying out such harassment.

“They were interviewing and scolding her why she filed a case in the KL High Court, this is totally unacceptable. As a Malaysian, she has a right to file a case in any court of her choice.

“And all parties whether defendant or plaintiff must stand down and give due chance to the court to decide on the matter. This type of harassment to our plaintiff is uncalled for. It is illegal. It’s amounting to tampering with the witness. She is a witness in this case. And also, this is utterly a contempt of court,” he said in a press conference.

“And on behalf of all these 14 plaintiffs, and also legal unit Agamam Ani, we ask all the parties involved, Jabatan Agama Islam, we see you in court, whatever you want to bring forward, bring forward in court, do not come and harass our plaintiffs, this is not right,” he said.

“We take this one very, very seriously because one of the biggest problems why this issue has never been taken to court, because scared of harassment from the related Jabatan, and that’s exactly what is happening today,” he added.

He said efforts will be made to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Johor’s Islamic body over the harassment to the woman.

According to Arun, the Islamic body’s officers refused her request for them to speak to her lawyers instead, and had questioned her on her choice of attire in her own house besides also reprimanding her for not wearing the Muslim head covering for women in her house.

Arun said the Islamic body officers had also taken photos of the altar at the woman’s house.

Arun said the woman has been raised as a Hindu, always practisedHindusim, and was married to a Hindu husband with all her children also practising Hinduism.

As for the official records which state her religious status to be a Muslim, Arun said the woman has that status because of her unilateral conversion and does not know how she can rectify it, adding that it is not easy to renounce the religion.

“And when she comes out and wants to find a way out, she got harassed. So what’s the mother to do?”

“She doesn’t understand why they are there, never in her life she’s been visited by any religious authority ever, questioning her faith, questioning her outlook, why she is wearing this, why she is not wearing that, it is her right, and she’s in her house. You coming to the house and scolding a person, I don’t know how much that is allowed,” he said.

Arun said the Islamic body’s officers had also separately interviewed the woman’s three school-going children by asking them which school they go to and whether they are taught about Islam in school, as well as asking them what religion they practise.

Arun said that children should be interviewed according to procedure, such as during police interviews where the welfare department would be present, adding: “This is uncalled for, this is totally harassment, totally wrong.”

“She’s scared, she’s just worried about her children’s wellbeing if Jabatan Agama Islam will take her children away — that kind of normal thing that a mother would worry about,” he said.

Arun said the woman is shaken up and has also asked him if she is safe.

Arun said it is difficult for minorities in Malaysia to fight cases involving unilateral conversion and the only choice for them to defend their religious freedom is by going to court, adding that the rule of law is not being respected when such harassment happens after a lawsuit is filed.

Source: MalayMail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/30/in-police-report-woman-says-johor-islamic-authorities-harassing-her-over-lawsuit-against-unilateral-conversion/62335

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I Am On The Case, Zahid Assures 137 Orang Asli Seeking To Nullify Islam Status Over Alleged Forced Conversion

By Soo Wern Jun

28 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has given his assurance that the religious status of 137 Orang Asli will be resolved soon.

He said there will be a detailed discussion with the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) and the matter will be brought to the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) for further action.

“I will hold a detailed discussion with Jakoa director-general Sapiah Mohd Nor, who is an Orang Asli, and Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor who I have appointed as the secretariat chairman of the Orang Asli community development committee.

“So we will discuss this matter and bring it to Jakim’s attention to address the problem and I will ensure a next course of action,” Zahid told reporters after a Cabinet committee meeting on addressing dengue today.

He was responding to a plea by 137 Orang Asli from the Bateq Mayan community that they should be allowed to nullify their Islamic religious status following their alleged unlawful mass conversion 30 years ago.

The group have brought the matter to civil court, and through the law firm FahriAzzat& Co, filed a writ of summons at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on September 28 last year, Malaysiakini reported yesterday.

The civil action named six defendants, namely Jakoa, its director and officer, the Pahang Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (Muip), the state government, and the federal government.

According to the statement of claim sighted by Malaysiakini, the plaintiffs alleged that the wrongful and illegal conversion was carried out at their home in Kampung BenchahKelubi, Merapoh, Kuala Lipis, Pahang, in April 1993.

The plaintiffs claimed that two village leaders were asked by a Jakoa representative to convert to Islam and also to get the other villagers to do the same, Malaysiakini reported.

Source: MalayMail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/28/i-am-on-the-case-zahid-assures-137-orang-asli-seeking-to-nullify-islam-status-over-alleged-forced-conversion/61928

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Malaysians tighten belts during Ramadan as food prices continue to rise

Nadirah H. Rodzi

KUALA LUMPUR - For decades, MrAzmirIkmal and his family would break their fast with a Ramadan buffet at a hotel. But as inflation creeps up, they have replaced the spread with ala carte picks from the menu to be more prudent.

“This tradition has been with us since I was a child, so we’re trying to keep it alive for as long as we can, especially after my father’s death,” he told The Straits Times. “But things are getting expensive – the Ramadan buffet at our favourite hotel went up by 25 per cent to RM208 (S$62) a person.

“We don’t think it’s a good idea to spend that much, so we restrategised without having to stop going to our favourite place.”

Like him, pharmacist Aliya Hashim is tightening her budget by preparing her own Ramadan meals and Hari Raya cookies, after bakers raised prices.

“I did some calculations. I can save more by doing this,” she said, joining Malaysians who are now more conscious of their spending due to rising food prices.

Consumer price inflation remained elevated at 3.7 per cent in February, according to Department of Statistics Malaysia data, with food and beverage items remaining high at 7 per cent.

Chief statistician Mohd UzirMahidin said continuous heavy rain in several states, from the end of December 2022 to February 2023, has also led to increases in food prices, especially for vegetables.

“As a result of the transition of the monsoon, the inflation for the vegetable sub-group has recorded a significant increase of 5.8 per cent as compared with 1 per cent in January,” he said.

With high prices squeezing people’s purchasing power, economic experts say consumers tend to be more cautious in spending, especially when there is no corresponding rise in income.

Sunway University economics professor Yeah Kim Leng told ST: “To reduce living expenses, consumers could be having meals prepared at home and reducing purchases at bazaars. Another possible factor could be the increase in the number of stalls and vendors, offering consumers more choices. Vendors, on the other hand, experience lower business volume due to greater competition.

“The economy is slowing down, as reflected in the latest economic indicators. Consumers tend to tighten their wallets when faced with increased uncertainties over the economy. They could also have less to spend due to the expiry of the various Covid-19 stimulus packages.”

During the pandemic, Malaysia’s gross domestic product shrank by 5.6 per cent in 2020, the biggest contraction since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

Home-based baker Mimi Zainal is feeling the pinch, saying the price of butter has risen by 30 per cent in the last few months, forcing her to increase prices.

“A block of 250g butter that I use is now RM24.70 – that’s RM5.70 more. I can no longer sell my cookies for RM35 per bottle, but after repricing them at RM3 more, sales are not really coming in,” she said.

“I easily got orders for 100 bottles in the first week of Ramadan last year, but I can barely get 45 now, and we’re already entering the second week of fasting. I’m behind my sales target for this year.”

To help cushion the burden, the Malaysian government on Monday launched the Rahmah Ramadan bazaar, consisting of food trucks offering affordable meals below RM5 in 38 locations nationwide.

Source: StraitsTimes

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

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysians-tighten-belts-during-ramadan-as-food-prices-continue-to-rise

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PKNS launches Ramadan Kasih initiative to help the less fortunate

30-03- 2023

SHAH ALAM: The Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) today launched Ramadan Kasih, its corporate social responsibility initiative aimed at helping the less fortunate.

PKNS Corporate Services senior general manager Sapna Turmidi said there were six activities under the programme namely Gotong Royong Ramadan Kasih, Raga Ramadan Kasih, Bekal Ramadan Kasih, buburlambuk distribution, Shopping Raya Ramadan Kasih and breaking of fast event.

She said all the activities provided an opportunity for PKNS to help the less fortunate through the allocation of zakat wakalahtotalling RM54,000.

“Three of these six activities have already taken place, namely the gotong royong which was held at the welfare home under Pertubuhan Kebajikan Ehsan Ash-Shakur (PEKEAS) in Rawang, donations to 100 homeless people in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur and daily necessities assistance to 50 asnaf (eligible to receive tithe) families.

“In conjunction with the launch of Ramadan Kasih today, PKNS also distributed buburlambuk to 1,000 staff members as well as 500 visitors to the Shah Alam PKNS Complex,“ she told the media after the Ramadan Kasih launching ceremony officiated by PKNS chief financial officer Nor Azlina Amran here.

She said another round of buburlambuk distribution will be held on April 4 at the complex for 500 visitors.

According to Sapna, the Raya shopping will be done this Sunday (April 2), meanwhile, the breaking of the fast event will be held on April 7.

Source:TheSunDaily

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https://www.thesundaily.my/home/pkns-launches-ramadan-kasih-initiative-to-help-the-less-fortunate-BI10813727

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Mideast

 

Hamas vows not to concede an inch of Palestinian land to Israel

30 March 2023

The Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement has reiterated its goal of liberating the Palestinian land from the Israeli occupation, saying it will never give up an inch of the territory to the usurping regime.

In a statement on Wednesday, Hamas also underscored its adherence to national unity and comprehensive resistance as the only means to uphold the Palestinian rights and free their homeland from the river to the sea.

The statement was issued on the 47th anniversary of Land Day, an occasion which has been commemorated every March 30 since 1976, when six Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the seizure of their land.

The day is marked annually not only by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also by Palestinians across the world.

“Our people rose up on Land Day, in the Triangle, Galilee and Negev in our 1948 occupied territories, against the policy of settlement encroachment and the policy of displacement and banishment,” the statement read.

Hamas also emphasized that the Israeli schemes and crimes as well as its land theft and settlement expansion policies would not succeed in changing the Arab identity of the Palestinian land and the historical facts.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/30/700673/Hamas-vows-not-concede-inch-Palestinian-land-Israel

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Lawmakers urge Biden to probe Israel’s use of US arms against Palestinians

30 March 2023

Two American lawmakers are leading a push for the administration of President Joe Biden to investigate if Israel is using US weapons to commit human rights violations against Palestinians.

In a letter drafted to Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman and Senator Bernie Sanders called on Washington to determine whether there have been any breaches of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibit American weapons from being used for rights abuses.

The Biden administration, they said, should ensure that US taxpayer funds are not supporting “projects in illegal settlements” and that all future assistance to Israel will not be used “in support of gross violations of human rights.”

They also asked the Biden administration “to undertake a shift in US policy in recognition of the worsening violence, further annexation of land, and denial of Palestinian rights” by the Tel Aviv regime.

The lawmakers expressed deep concerns regarding “the rapidly escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and the alarming actions of the new extreme right-wing Israeli” administration.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition includes “far-right, anti-Palestinian individuals and parties,” who are “pushing repressive, anti-democratic policies and escalating violence towards the Palestinian population,” they added.

The letter comes as Netanyahu is facing protests over his now-delayed plans to overhaul Israel’s judiciary, which undermines the Supreme Court, weakens judicial oversight over policymaking, and gives the party in power – currently Likud – greater authority.

The Israeli regime’s “anti-democratic mission to dismantle the rule of law is a threat to Israelis and Palestinians alike. In addition to explicitly hateful, anti-Palestinian policies, this government is attempting to destroy the independent Israeli judiciary. This move would threaten the rights of all citizens of Israel, enable more corruption by prime ministers, and open the path towards further annexation of Palestinian lands,” it read.

The Israeli regime’s “actions are in clear violation of international law and commitments made to the US; its agenda will further devastate Palestinian communities and heighten tension.”

The letter has already been signed by eight other lawmakers and received the support of over 70 progressive Jewish groups as well as more than 20 civil society groups.

Jewish Voice for Peace Action political director, Beth Miller, described the US lawmakers’ letter as “an important call to action.”

“Over 80 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers just since the beginning of 2023, and the Biden administration’s statements of ‘concern’ mean nothing without action and accountability,” Miller said in a statement.

“Leaders in Congress who join this letter are following the demands of a rapidly growing number of Americans – including American Jews – who want to see the Israeli government held accountable for its decades of oppression of Palestinians.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian advocates said the letter could pave the way for a serious examination of the US-Israel relationship.

“Until the US holds Israel accountable for its human rights records, it will continue to act with impunity. The US has huge leverage over Israel, it should start using it. Most Americans would agree with this position (sadly, not our elected officials). Kudos to Senator Sanders for leading the way in Congress on this topic,” Nader Hashemi, associate professor of Middle East and Islamic politics at the University of Denver, told the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/30/700663/Biden-US-arms-Israel-

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Israel’s relations with Arab world jeopardized by new government’s actions, experts say

RAY HANANIA

March 31, 2023

CHICAGO: Israeli journalists, former diplomats and government ministers agreed on Thursday that escalating violence directed toward Palestinians under the rule of the new coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is undermining Israel’s relations with neighboring Arab countries, in particular those that have signed the Abraham Accords or might have considered doing so.

During a discussion hosted by the Middle East Institute, the panelists said the first three months of the far-right government have been “chaotic” and its policies are “racist” and “disconnected from reality.”

Since it came to power in December, the ruling coalition has overseen the violent suppression of Palestinian protests. Nearly 100 Palestinians have been killed as Israeli and settler raids targeting activists have been stepped up throughout the occupied West Bank.

One of the most violent incidents was an assault on the Palestinian village of Huwara on Feb. 27, which an Israeli panelist described as a “pogrom,” a word used to describe an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group. Armed settlers, who claimed to be avenging an attack on Israelis by Palestinians the day before, led a violent, late-night rampage through the village in the northern West Bank, killing one Palestinian and injuring more than 100. The Israeli military, which has responded rapidly to increased tensions related to Palestinian assaults, did nothing to intervene.

“The fact is that this government, in its first three months, is totally dysfunctional and chaotic, and almost any step it takes does not come out of initiative but out of reaction to events,” said Barak Ravid, a veteran Middle East and diplomatic correspondent for Israeli media outlets.

“This is also a government that … is the most far-right government in Israel’s history, with racist and Jewish-supremacist elements in it, in key positions that have a lot of influence over foreign relations and national security, like Itamir Ben Gvir, the minister of national security, or Mr. (Bezalel) Smotrich, the minister of finance.”

Ravid continued: “When Netanyahu came in, he said several things. Firstly, he said he is going have his hands on the wheel when it comes to national security and foreign policy. I think in the three months since this government was formed it is obvious to everybody that this is not the case. He is not running anything, everything is chaotic.

“And secondly, he put forward a pretty ambitious foreign policy agenda, first stressing he will focus on Iran and on countering its nuclear program. And second, he said he will try to broaden the Abraham Accords and get a peace treaty with Saudi Arabia. In the last three months, he has done nothing, not on the first foreign policy goal and not on the second foreign policy goal.”

Ravid said the unrelated issue of the government’s proposed reforms of Israel’s judicial system, which have sparked widespread protests across Israel and international concern, has contributed the problems because it has “hijacked the government’s agenda.”

The violence in the West Bank, the panelists agreed, has caused a spike in killings of Palestinians and Israelis, and put the brakes on any more potential normalization agreements, similar to the Abraham Accords deals with Morocco, Bahrain and the UAE, in particular dashing hopes that there might be one with Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu’s coalition “knows very well that they are harming relations with the Arab World but they don’t care,” said Nachman Shai, Israel’s former minister of diaspora affairs.

“Don’t tell me they don’t know, when they let Minister Ben Gvir on the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque) or other statements were made by coalition members and government ministers. They know very well that they are harming relations with the Arab world but they don’t care.”

Shai described the “Huwara pogrom” as a “terrible event, a tragedy that disrupted our relationship with the United States, with the Jewish community, and with the world. And especially with our relations with the Arab World.”

He said the new government’s policies have drawn anger from the administration of US President Joe Biden, who has been a strong advocate for Israeli security and democracy.

Elie Podeh, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said the biggest effect of the coalition’s actions has been to undermine any possibility of normalized relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which was “Netanyahu’s main target” for his foreign policy.

“Any tension, and certainly an intifada and anything significant that happens between Israel and the Palestinians, especially if Jerusalem is involved, is going to hamper and is going to hurt any developments between the Israelis and the Saudis,” Podeh said. “So, it is not on the horizon, at least the immediate horizon.”

Maya Sion Tzidkiyahu, director of Mitvim, the Israel-Europe Relations Program at the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said the turmoil during the first 100 days of Netanyahu’s government has not only soured support for Israel among leaders of EU countries, but also the normalized relations with the UAE. She said the Netanyahu government has not recognized the damage it is causing to its efforts to improve relations with the Arab World.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278696/middle-east

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Blinken speaks with his Israeli counterpart, welcomes efforts to deescalate tensions with Palestinians

BetülYürük

31.03.2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed recent efforts to deescalate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in a phone call Thursday with his Israeli counterpart.

Blinken and Eli Cohen discussed shared challenges including Iran, efforts to advance mutual interests and Israel’s further regional integration, according to the State Department.

The top US diplomat reiterated Washington’s continued commitment to a two-state solution and welcomed recent efforts to deescalate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians through meetings in Aqaba, Jordan and in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, said State Department principal deputy spokesman Vedant Patel.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/blinken-speaks-with-his-israeli-counterpart-welcomes-efforts-to-deescalate-tensions-with-palestinians/2859926

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Hamas condemns Israeli plan to form 'settler militia'

30 March 2023

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has condemned the Israeli regime’s plan to create a "settler militia" to mount more pressure on the Palestinians.

Hamas spokesman Jihad Taha said on Wednesday that the "settler militia" will be an extremist force in Tel Aviv's hands to further repress and massacre the Palestinians.

Early this week, media reports said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had given the green light to his far-right extremist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to form a "settler militia".

The new force is to be referred to as the National Guard and will be under Ben-Gvir's direct control.

Ben-Gvir's critics warned that the far-right leader aims to create his own private army to carry out his sinister plans against the innocent Palestinian people.

"The formation of a racist and extremist militia aiming to crack down even more on our people in Palestine occupied in 1948 [Israel] is in alignment with previous racist decisions which legalize settler outposts, increase armed raids at the Blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and give more power to Ben-Gvir to carry out more massacres," Taha said.

Taha said, however, that the move will not undermine the determination of the Palestinian nation to defend al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Quds against the Israeli occupiers.

He urged the international community to stand up against the racist decisions that aimed to target the Palestinian people.

In the meantime, the Palestinian foreign ministry issued a statement, calling Ben-Gvir a "fascist".

"Ben-Gvir is widely regarded as a fascist, who has repeatedly made provocative moves against Palestinians and the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque, and has frequently stoked violence and terror with his inflammatory remarks, hateful threats, and controversial actions,” the ministry said in a statement.

He could only run a "militia of racial terror [that] will only serve to target, kill, and torture the undefended Palestinian people, en masse," it said.

Source: Press TV

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

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/30/700694/Palestine-Israel-Settler-Militia-Hamas-Jihad-Taha

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FM Reiterates Iran's Strong Opposition to Any Geopolitical Change in Region

2023-March-30

Amir Abdollahian made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

"We focused on the ongoing developments in the Caucasus region, noting that we do not see the continuation of tension in the region as fruitful for any parties, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Russia and Iran believe that security would be beneficial for regional peace and stability," Amir Abdollahian said after his meeting with Lavrov.

"Since certain efforts to change the geopolitics of the region can complicate the current circumstances more than ever, the 3+3 mechanism for resolving Caucasus issues and other existing mechanisms should be applied away from resorting to using force," he added.

The next round of talks to pursue the 3+3 mechanism can be held in Tehran, the top diplomat said, expressing hope that the result of the coming meeting and other efforts result in resolving the issues peacefully.

On economic and trade ties between Russia and Iran, Amir Abdollahian underscored that the mutual trade exchanges improved over the past one and half years and that the bilateral trade volume increased by more than 3.5 times.

He also noted that the two foreign ministers discussed the accession of the Islamic Republic to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, including the approval of 49 documents by the Iranian Parliament for Iran’s membership in the next SCO summit.

As to the relationship between Turkiye and Syria, Amir Abdollahian said that he discussed the issue in his latest trip to Ankara as well as during his today’s meeting with FM Lavrov and that the deputy foreign ministers of Turkiye, Syria, Russia, and Iran will hold a meeting next week to approach viewpoints of Ankara and Damascus.

Reacting to the United States' claims on recent clashes in Syria, the Iranian foreign minister stated that the Americans always level unfounded accusations on attacks by the so-called groups, which they claim, are affiliated to Iran, or accuse the Islamic Republic of conducting drone strikes, but they do not propose any document to prove their allegations.

Touching upon the restoration of ties between Riyadh and Tehran, Amir Abdollahian noted that he would meet with his Saudi counterpart in the near future, adding that certain disagreements were natural, but the differences would not hinder the restoration of the relationship as well as the re-opening of embassies of both countries.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, Amir Abdollahian in a meeting with Lavrov in Moscow called for the finalization of the strategic cooperation agreement with Russia in less than a month.

“Reviews on the long-term strategic cooperation agreement between the two countries have been finalized in Russia. Iran has also examined it. I hope that in less than a month, the final revision of the agreement will be carried out by Iran’s Foreign Ministry,” Amir Abdollahian said in his Wednesday meeting with Lavrov in the Russian capital.

“High-ranking Iranian and Russian delegations at different levels are exchanging views, and the presidents of the two countries are in constant contact with each other," he added.

Also in his remarks, the top Iranian diplomat stressed that Iran-Russia ties are advancing on the right track, hoping that bilateral cooperation in regional and international organizations will properly go on.

Lavrov, for his part, said that the talks between Iran and Russia in different areas are actively advancing.

He noted that Tehran-Moscow relations in political, commercial, investment and economic fields, as well as the implementation of key projects have developed.

There has been a steady growth in bilateral ties within the framework of the joint economic commission, he said, highlighting close cooperation in international and regional affairs.

In 2001, Tehran and Moscow signed a 10-year cooperation deal that was lengthened to 20 years through two five-year extensions.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020110000449/FM-Reieraes-Iran's-Srng-Oppsiin-Any-Gepliical-Change-in-Regin

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Iran's Embassy Dismisses Israeli Regime's Claim

2023-March-30

"Iran strongly rejects the rumors spread by Zionist sources and their baseless accusations against Iran. It is obvious that their fabricated scenarios are meant to divert the public's attention from their internal crisis," Iran's embassy in Athens said in a statement.

According to the Iranian diplomatic mission, the publication of such a fake report is a clumsy scenario designed by the zionsit regime to divert public opinion and try to cover up its internal developments.

The Iranian ambassy's statement came one day after the Greek police reported that it had busted a "terrorist network" with the help of the national intelligence agency, EYP, arresting two Pakistanis on suspicion of plotting attacks on a Jewish restaurant and a synagogue.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020110000158/Iran's-Embassy-Dismisses-Israeli-Regime's-Claim

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Israel charges two Jewish settlers with ‘terror’ for attacking Palestinians

30 March ,2023

An Israeli court on Thursday charged two Jewish settlers with “committing an act of terror” for attacking Palestinians in a village of the occupied West Bank this month, officials said.

The rare indictment, normally reserved for Palestinians, came after a group of settlers attacked a Palestinian family in their car in Huwara, where eight days earlier two Israeli settlers had been shot dead amid a surge in violence in the Palestinian territory.

The fatal February 26 shootings sparked a rampage by dozens of Israeli settlers who set homes and cars ablaze in Huwara, with Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich saying he thought the village should be “wiped out” in remarks he later retracted.

According to the indictment filed at Israel’s central district court, the two young men were among a group of eight to 10 settlers who on March 6, during the Jewish holiday Purim, drove to the parking lot of a supermarket in Huwara.

Upon seeing the settlers emerge from two vehicles armed with an axe, hammer, stones and pepper spray, shoppers rushed into the supermarket and closed its metal shutters to defend themselves.

A Palestinian couple and their toddler daughter remained in their car as one of settlers who was charged threw stones at the vehicle and the other used the axe to break its windows and attack the father.

The father suffered wounds to his shoulder and arm while the attackers doused the car with pepper spray and the other accused vandalized two other cars parked nearby.

The family eventually managed to drive away as the settlers hurled rocks at them, wounding the father in the head.

The pair were charged with “a severe act of terror” and “racially motivated” damage, which prosecutors alleged had “an ideological or nationalistic motive.”

According to Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, the accused -- arrested on March 13 -- belong to “a violent group acting to harm Palestinians and undermine the actions of security forces in dealing with Palestinian terror.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/30/Israel-charges-two-Jewish-settlers-with-terror-for-attacking-Palestinians

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Palestinians commemorate Land Day, remember sacrifices

HAZEM BALOUSHA

March 30, 2023

GAZA CITY: Thousands of Palestinians commemorated Land Day on the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip and beyond, as political leaders urged unity and unswerving support for the right of return of refugees.

A main sit-in and festival was held on the border on Thursday, while other activities took place within the enclave, in the Palestinian territories and in Arab towns in Israel.

Young men, carrying Palestinian flags, approached the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel, while representatives of the factions delivered speeches. The Israeli army fired tear gas canisters at the demonstrators.

Land Day is a day of commemoration for Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians of the events of March 30, 1976 in Israel. A general strike and marches were organized in Arab towns in response to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land.

Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed, 100 were wounded and hundreds of others were arrested during clashes with Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, the 2018–2019 Gaza border protests, dubbed the Great March of Return, were a series of demonstrations held each Friday near the Gaza-Israel border from 30 March 2018 to Dec. 27, 2019, during which at least 217 people including 48 children were killed.

The demonstrators demanded that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to ancestral land in what is now Israel. They also protested against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Khaled Al-Batsh of Islamic Jihad’s political bureau said: “We have no choice but to have unity in the face of confrontation, for a path to liberation that passes through the barrels of rifles.”

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said: “We affirm our adherence to the right of return, and we call for the pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the escalation at all points of contact with the occupation.”

Mustafa Ibrahim, a political analyst, said that this year’s Land Day protests were not expected to take a violent turn.

“It is not expected that we will return to daily or weekly protests on the border, but the factions always like to put pressure on the occupation and remind it of what could happen on the Gaza border again.

“The protests were within a certain period and they achieved their goals, according to the factions. I do not think that we will return to that model again in the current period, and we cannot deny that the Palestinian losses were great.”

Delivering a speech at the Gaza border, Mohsen Abu Ramadan, head of the National Committee, said: “Land Day carries a lot of meaning. The anniversary of Land Day comes this year under a fascist right-wing government, which constitutes an opportunity to raise the Palestinian issue in the international arena.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2278441/middle-east

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South Asia

 

Afghan Authorities React to SCO Concerns About Threats Emanating from Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

March 30, 2023

In response to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s concerns about the major threat from Afghanistan, the Taliban authorities said that Afghanistan’s soil would not be used against any country.

The de facto government’s spokesperson, Bilal Karimi, asserted that security had been upheld throughout Afghanistan and that no one would be permitted to interfere with security.

The remarks came after the Russian Security Council Secretary expressed his concerns about poses major security threats and risks from Afghanistan to the SCO member countries.

The Russian security envoy, Nikolay Partushev, said on Wednesday at the SCO meeting in New Delhi that it is “Important to watch the situation in Afghanistan closely as it remains tense and it is taking on protracted nature a year and a half after the Taliban came to power.”

He also stressed that threats posed by Afghanistan include “terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking, illegal migration and the spread of extremist ideology.”

He also blamed Washington and its allies for the current economic devastation after the irresponsible withdrawal from the country, as he said.

“We believe that Washington and its allies, who are responsible for the critical situation in the country after the withdrawal of the occupation forces, should bear the bulk of the cost of restoring the Afghan economy in the wake of the conflict,” Patrushev said.

The SCO meeting took place in New Delhi on Wednesday, and the member states expressed their concerns about the growing threats of ISIS and other militant groups in the country.

This comes two days after a suicide bomb attack close to the Foreign Ministry in Kabul, killing 6 people and injuring several others.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-authorities-react-to-sco-concerns-about-threats-emanating-from-afghanistan/

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MoD Chief of Staff Accuses US of Violating Afghan Airspace

By Mohammad Farshad Daryosh

The chief of staff of the Islamic Emirate, Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat, criticized the United States for violating Afghanistan’s airspace.

In an interview with RTA, Fitrat noted that the current Afghan government will manage the country's airspace in a better way in the future.

"Even though it was a term in the agreement, it has been violated many times, and even though the US side has been informed, it is violated many times,” Fitrat noted.

"It is very difficult for the Taliban government to defend the airspace of Afghanistan because the planes and drones that fly in the airspace of Afghanistan are from some very advanced countries,” said Asadullah Nadim, a military expert.

The chief of staff said that efforts will be made to make the forces of the Ministry of Defense more professional.

Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat further stated that the number of army troops will increase from 150,000 to 200,000 in the future.

"We have decided to increase the size of the army, God willing, in the following year, from 150,000 to 170,000 and gradually increase the number of troops to 200,000,” Fitrat said.

“Afghanistan should at least have an army in proportion to our neighbors and in proportion to our population, an army that has an air force, artillery, ground troops, and air defense forces,” said Sarwar Niazi, a military expert.

Source: ToloNews

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

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-182747

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Attack on Kabul Security Compound Kills Two, Injures Another

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 31, 2023

Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF) militant group on Thursday night claimed to have attacked Kabul Security Command using a hand grenade, killing two security forces and injuring a third one.

Reportedly, the attack took place around 6:00 mp, but official sources have not yet confirmed the incident and the casualties left from Thursday night’s attack.

The incident took place a day after Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the Afghanistan National Resistance Front (NRF) claimed to have carried out an operation on the educational center and outpost of the Taliban special unit in the Pul-e-Charkhi area of Kabul city.

On Wednesday, NRF announced the beginning of the group’s “guerrilla attacks”, which was welcomed by Afghanistan Freedom Front, and called for cooperation to carry out joint attacks against the Taliban security forces.

The Taliban have not yet reacted to NRF’s spring attacks, however, Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat, Taliban’s Chief of Staff in an interview with Afghan state TV said there will be no armed resistance by the former military and exiled Afghan leaders against the Taliban.

Taliban Chief of Staff described the exiled Afghan leaders’ claims as “boastful” and threatened them with military repression.

Since the return of the Taliban to power, security remains a major challenge for the ruling regime. It is reported that the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) militants have intensified their attacks in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and other parts of Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/attack-on-kabul-security-compound-kills-two-injures-another/

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Afghanistan Poses Major Threat to the Security of SCO Member States: Russia’s NSA

By Fidel Rahmati

March 30, 2023

Russian Security Council Secretary said that Afghanistan poses major security threats and risks to member states of the Security of Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Russian Security Chief, Nikolay Partushev, told members of SCO in India on Wednesday that it is “Important to watch the situation in Afghanistan closely as it remains tense and it is taking on protracted nature a year and a half after the Taliban came to power,” reported by TASS News Agency.

He warned the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a meeting in New Delhi that the threats posed by Afghanistan include “terrorism, illegal arms, and drug trafficking, illegal migration and the spread of extremist ideology.”

“We believe that Washington and its allies, who are responsible for the critical situation in the country after the withdrawal of the occupation forces, should bear the bulk of the cost of restoring the Afghan economy in the wake of the conflict,” Patrushev said.

He added that Russia considers “the return of any US or NATO military infrastructure facilities to the region, including to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, in any form and on any pretext categorically inadmissible.”

The SCO meeting took place in New Delhi on Wednesday. National security Advisors of SCO members discussed the situation of Afghanistan and the region, including countering Terrorism and drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and China attended virtually in the meeting.

The Indian National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, said in his opening remarks, “Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and its financing are amongst the most serious threats to international peace and security. Any act of Terrorism, regardless of its motivation, is unjustifiable.”

Meanwhile, the SCO member states expressed their concerns about the growing threats of Islamic States Khorasan Province (IS-KP) militants in the country.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-poses-major-threat-to-the-security-of-sco-member-states-russias-nsa/

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Terrorism Remains ‘Serious Threat’ To International Peace: NSA Doval

By Fidel Rahmati

March 30, 2023

Terrorism in all of its forms and its financing are amongst the most serious threats to international peace and security, Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval said on Wednesday.

Doval made the remarks at the 18th meeting of the Secretaries of the Security Councils of Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states, stressing that any act of terrorism, regardless of its cause, is unjustifiable.

“Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and its financing are the most serious threats to international peace and security. Any act of terrorism, regardless of its motivation, is unjustifiable,” Doval said during his opening remarks at the Shanghai Group Meeting.

He also stressed the mutual respect for member states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“The Charter calls upon member states to have mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity of states, non-use of force or threat of its use in international relations, and seeking no unilateral military superiority in areas,” he added.

Several Indian political analysts believe the remarks indirectly referenced Pakistan, also an SCO member.

India has been facing terrorist threats since its independence. Indian planes were hijacked, and India allegedly blamed Pakistan for supporting the terrorists.

The Mumbai attack is another incident. Ten Pakistani terrorists linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba stormed Mumbai skyscrapers, killing 164 people. One of the shooters escaped the attacks, while nine of them were slain. According to CNN, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman still alive, was put to death in November 2012.

The recent incident by Amritpal, a pro-Khalistan movement, has brought back memories of 1980 and the Khalistan movement. Though, the attacks and fatalities in India are at their lowest in the last four decades.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/terrorism-remains-serious-threat-to-international-peace-nsa-doval/

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Africa

 

AsariDokubo dismisses allegations of Tinubu leading Jihad in Nigeria as president

March 30, 2023

By Seun Opejobi

A few months to the swearing-in of the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, a former Niger Delta militant and loyalist to the politician, AsariDokubo, has rubbished claims that the incoming president would lead a Jihad in Nigeria.

Dokubo wondered how Tinubu would lead a Jihad in Nigeria when he never did such as a governor of Lagos State for eight years.

He pointed out that Tinubu’s wife was a Christian; hence he could not carry out such in Nigeria.

In a Facebook Live, Dokubo said: “Tinubu’s wife is a Christian, and his children are Christians. ‘He is going to lead Jihad’. He did not lead Jihad in Lagos for eight years; it is now he is going to lead Jihad.

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

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

https://dailypost.ng/2023/03/30/asari-dokubo-dismisses-allegations-of-tinubu-leading-jihad-in-nigeria-as-president/

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Displaced families in drought-hit Somalia struggle to celebrate Ramadan

Mohammed Dhaysane

30.03.2023

MOGADISHU, Somalia

As Somalia grapples with its longest drought on record, many displaced families are struggling to celebrate the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting.

Adan Ibrahim, a 64-year-old father of 10 children, was displaced from a settlement 30 kilometers from Baidoa, the largest city in Somalia’s South West state.

He told Anadolu that they have been struggling to celebrate this year’s Ramadan because of the drought and rising food prices.

“We lost everything because of the drought. The drought has forced us to migrate from our settlements to the urban areas. We are here in this camp but life here is different from the rural areas. This Ramadan has been very challenging because we break fast with whatever food might be at hand,” he said.

Muhibo Hassan Abdirahman, a 26-year-old mother of three, who lives at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, said that her husband died because of drought-related illnesses.

“In my father’s household, we lost 80 goats, 15 camels and 20 cattle because of the drought,” she added.

She said that she could not be able to fast due to a lack of food. “I am not feeling well in terms of health and I am also breastfeeding my little baby girl.”

Longest drought in Somalia’s history

Petroc Wilton, the spokesperson for the World Food Program (WFP) Somalia, told Anadolu that the drought is now being reported as the longest in Somalia’s history; five rainy seasons have now failed to deliver adequate rainfall.

“This is overlaid with persistent conflict and insecurity that continue to exacerbate the impact of the drought. Somalia remains close to catastrophe unless our humanitarian scale-up can be sustained,” he said.

According to a recent UN report, 5 million people are already suffering crisis-level hunger or worse.

“6.5 million people are projected to face Crisis-level or worse food insecurity … between April and June 2023, with 223,000 people likely to face Catastrophic hunger … if the next rainy season fails and humanitarian assistance cannot reach those most in need,” according to the report.

According to the UN, an estimated 43,000 people died due to the drought in 2022 alone – half of them children under 5 years old.

Since the start of the current drought, there have been over 1.5 million displacements.

WFP said it has been “racing against time to avert a projected famine” since early 2022.

"WFP scaled up life-saving food and nutrition relief to unprecedented levels through the last months of 2022 and into 2023," Wilton said.

He said although no famine is currently declared in Somalia, the situation on the ground remains desperate amid the ongoing drought.

The WFP spokesman said there is still a risk of famine in areas like Burhakaba and Baidoa by mid-year if the current rains fail and humanitarian assistance cannot be delivered to those most in need.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/displaced-families-in-drought-hit-somalia-struggle-to-celebrate-ramadan/2859215

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Burkina Faso to resume diplomatic relations with North Korea

Aurore Bonny 

30.03.2023

DOUALA, Cameroon

Burkina Faso plans to resume diplomatic relations with North Korea, the country’s Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday. 

The decision will allow the two countries "to maintain exemplary bilateral cooperation in several areas," Foreign Affairs Minister Olivia Rouamba said at the end of a Council of Ministers meeting.

The West African nation suspended relations with North Korea in 2017 to conform to UN Security Council sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Rouamba said the governments of Burkina Faso and North Korea will reportedly be focusing on military equipment, mining, healthcare, agriculture and research

The Burkinabe government has also approved the appointment of a North Korean ambassador to Burkina Faso.

Chae Hui Chol, has been approved as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to Burkina Faso, with residence in Dakar, Senegal, according to a statement from the Ministerial Council.

In the past, Burkina Faso has maintained "very good relations with this country, which was a privileged partner during the period of the August 1983 Revolution," said Rouamba.

The government officially cut off relations in 2017 using a provision recommended by the United Nations to all its member states in its sanctions resolution against Pyongyang. 

Faced with a security crisis fueled since 2015 by terrorist attacks, Burkina Faso, under the leadership of Capt. Ibrahim Traore, the leader of the ruling junta, decided to diversify its partnerships to strengthen the fight against terrorism. In January, the transitional authorities broke a military agreement with France, its former colonist.

This is "a way of asserting its authority by contracting diplomatic relations with countries unconsidered by France," Regis Hounkpe, a pan-African expert in geostrategy, told Anadolu.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/burkina-faso-to-resume-diplomatic-relations-with-north-korea/2859013

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