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Islamic World News ( 6 Sept 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Young Girls in Pakistan’s Lal Masjid Being Trained How to Behead Those Who Insult Prophet Muhammad, Expert Weighs in on Root Cause

New Age Islam News Bureau

06 September 2022


Photo:  The Sentinel


• Hijab Row: Can Students Come Dressed In Minis, Midis, Whatever They Want?  Asks SC Judges

• Friendship Can Solve Any Problem, Says Sheikh Hasina As She Begins India Visit

• No Privileges, Exceptions in Islamic Justice: King of Malaysia,

• Saudi Film Commission Reviews Industry Prospects in Kingdom at Venice Intl Film Fest



• After More Than Two Decades, Pakistan Army Accepts Body of LeT Terrorist Tabarak Hussain

• Imran Khan under fire from Pakistan Army, government over anti-military speeches

• Pakistan Foreign Office summons Indian diplomat over terrorist's death in J&K hospital

• 'Legislation regarding transgender community against Quran and Sunnah'

• Pakistan: Thousands of people in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province protest against targeted killings

• Future uncertain for Pakistan’s blasphemy victims

• Bilawal, Maryam condemn Imran Khan’s “defamatory” statement regarding Pakistan army

• Four men detained for laughing at PML-N leader



• 'Muslim-Sounding' Wards Renamed as Part of Delimitation Exercise in Gorakhpur

• Gyanvapi issue: Court grants time to Muslim side to present reply on September 13

• Babri Mosque Case: CBI Files Objection in High Court against Plea Challenging Acquittal

• SC Seeks Centre’s Response on Feasibility of Uniform Civil Code

• AIMPLB opposes pleas on uniform laws

• Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to talk with PM Modi while in India to boost ties

• Terrorists fire upon SOG camp in Shopian

• Cook's bullet-riddled body found in Kashmir's Shopian, rivalry between terror groups suspected behind murder


South Asia

• Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Visits Delhi's Nizamuddin Dargah

• Two Russian embassy staff dead, 11 injured after suicide bomb blast near Russian Embassy in Kabul

• Taliban won’t last long like last time, resistance on the rise, says Afghan ex-minister Balkhi

• Afghanistan: Taliban Using India's Aid for Their Families, Claims Ahmad Massoud

• Taliban-led Afghan govt condemns explosion near Russian Embassy in Kabul


Southeast Asia

• You’re Why PAS Can’t Break into Non-Muslim Seats, Kit Siang Tells Hadi

• With eye on GE15, GTA sends registration application to RoS

• Japan Embassy in UAE hosts orientation session for 20 Emirati students


Arab World

• Qatar to open three new five-star hotels ahead of FIFA World Cup

• Saudi foreign ministry condemns ISIS attack on Russian embassy in Kabul

• Iraq powers agree to work toward snap elections following unrest

• Hate crimes against Syrian refugees in Turkey on rise: Experts

• US, Western sanctions on Tehran, Damascus ‘most heinous kind of terrorism’: Syria FM

• Saudi-led coalition impounds another Yemen-bound fuel ship in violation of UN ceasefire



• Iran Seizes Huge Haul of Crystal Meth from Afghanistan

• Top Aide: Iran Supports Extension of Ceasefire in Yemen

• Palestinian killed, 16 wounded in West Bank raid by Israeli army: Sources

• Iran says has not received US response on nuclear proposal

• Abu Akleh’s family reject Israeli findings into journalist’ death

• Yemen minister calls on international community to condemn Houthi truce violations

• Israel has multiple-nationality Palestinians in cross hairs: PA minister


North America

• US Calls for Accountability after Israel Admits Soldier Likely Shot Reporter

• US simulates bombing mission over Middle East amid Iran tensions

• US flies nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over Middle East amid tensions with Iran



• National Crime Agency Officer Unfairly Sacked After Offensive Muslim Remarks

• Türkiye Urges Greece to Stop Denying Recognition To Elected Muslim Clerics

• Trial opens in French court over 2016 terror attacks in Nice

• Top Turkish diplomat calls Macron's remarks in Algeria 'unfortunate'

• EU foreign policy chief ‘less confident’ about closing Iran nuclear talks



• Irresponsible Leaders Causing Rift between Christians, Muslims In Nigeria – Bishop Kukah

• Kenyan president gives assurances of smooth transition of power after apex court ruling

• Kenya’s top court upholds Ruto's victory in Aug. 9 presidential election

• UN humanitarian chief: Somalia on brink of famine for second time in over a decade

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Young Girls in Pakistan’s Lal Masjid Being Trained How to Behead  Those Who Insult Prophet Muhammad, Expert Weighs in on Root Cause


Photo:  The Sentinel


September 06, 2022

New Delhi: Young girls in Pakistan’s Lal Masjid in are being taught how to behead people who insult Prophet Muhammad.

In a video doing the rounds on social media, a teacher is seen demonstrating to young girls wearing Burqa how to hold and use a sword to behead people.

Through this exercise, the girls are being taught that those who ‘insult’ the Prophet will have only one punishment, and that will be decapitation. Girls, dressed in pink, can be heard raising slogans and glorifying decapitation.

Speaking about the issue on News18, Analyst Amina Begam Ansari said, “In Islam, blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.”

She said we see the form of blasphemy where we literally, read, listen to and discuss how there should be physical punishment for blasphemy, which is a root cause and which has to be discussed as a community and condemned.

“We have to totally remove this kind of teaching from our community,” she said.

On politicisation of Islam, she said, “I think this is not only threatening and dangerous for India but also for the Indian Muslims. What will it do to our next generation is that they will become foot soldiers for such an idea and commit a heinous crime which will only add up falling into the fault line.”

She further said that fact-checker and co-founder of Alt News website Mohammed Zubair and people like him who started a blasphemy campaign should be held accountable. It started from India and then Pakistani side used it, she added.

“We should look at the whole picture where we should discuss the root cause and how it gets politicised for the bigger agenda without that we won’t be able to find a solution,” she added.

Source: Firstpost

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Hijab Row: Can Students Come Dressed In Minis, Midis, Whatever They Want?  Asks SC Judges


Representative image via PTI


5th September 2022

The Supreme Court of India on Monday started hearing arguments based on the Hijab Ban in Karnataka educational institutions.

The apex court was hearing arguments from 23 petitioners against the Karnataka High Court’s earlier verdict of upholding the ban on hijab at educational institutions, mainly schools and colleges across the state.

While hearing the petitioners, the bench, comprising of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, seems to agree with the Karnataka HC’s verdict by stating it did not violate Right to Education even as everyone has the right to practice their religion.

“You say educational institution cannot issue a rule but what about the state unless there is a statute which prohibits dress code. So tell me can a student come in minis, midis, whatever they want. You may be entitled to wear the hijab or scarf, can you carry the right within an educational institution which prescribes uniform. They are not denying right to education what they are saying as State is you come in the uniform,” the bench said.

The next hearing of the case will continue on September 7.

Arguments made in the Court:

There were many arguments made in the court on Monday. Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who represents the petitioners, observed that the current issue is affecting the education of millions of Muslim girls in Karnataka.

To which Justice Hemant replied that a religious clothing worn in a secular country in a government-run institution can be argumentative.

“When there is a prescribed code then can turban be worn? Look around you milord.. in court 2 there is a picture of judge wearing pagdi,” Dhavan responded.

“Pagdi is not religious. My grandfather used to wear it while practicing law. Don’t equate it with religion,” Justice Gupta replied.

Dhavan then went on to request that due to the intensity of the case and as the whole country as well as the world is watching it with close lens, a larger bench is required to understand the nitty-gritty of the case.

“As per Article 145(3) deals with minimum number of judges who can hear a substantial question of law. Here the question is can the right of religious clothing be reconciled with uniform,” he submitted.

Apart from this the senior advocate pointed out rulings of two high court orders. One was from the Kerala High Court where an exact opposite ruling was given as compared to the Karnataka High Court.

What the Indian Supreme Court holds in this regard will be very important,” he argued.

Senior counsel Sanjay Hegde, who is also appearing for one of the 23 petitioners, argued that the Karnataka GO (government order) was not in tune with the Karnataka Education Act.

“The GO says no attire can be worn which shows religion being professed. The GO is contrary is object and purposes of the act and it cannot be used to give a direction etc. Even under Rule 11A uniform prescribed must be in consonance with the mandate of the Act,” Hegde submitted.

When asked to further explain his argument, Hegde said that there is no mention of uniform in the Education Act by the legislature (which is the state government here). “Hence, GO cannot create a new set of disabilities and cannot take away right to attend schools and college,” Hegde summed up.

Karnataka Advocate General (AG) Prabhuling Navadgi explained why the GO came into action.

“School authorities wrote to us seeking guidance since after Hijab students wore bhagwa shawls and which then led to unrest in educational institutions. This is the background of the GO,” he explained.

Still not satisfied by Hegde’s arguments, Justice Gupta remarked, “You may have a religious right and can you take that right within an educational institution where an uniform is prescribed. You may be entitled to wear the hijab or scarf, can you carry the right within an educational institution which prescribes uniform. They are not denying right to education what they are saying as state is you come in the uniform.”

To which Hegde pointed out that Chunni (a clothing piece used as a shawl mostly by women)is also a part of the uniform.

“But Chunni is there as uniform,” Hegde replied.

“Chunni is used to cover shoulders. Please don’t compare Chunni to hijab. Sikh women wear it to cover head in Gurudwara,” the bench responded.

Background of the Hijab ban

The hijab issue began in December last year when six pre-university female students were not allowed inside their classrooms as the administration insisted they remove their hijab or headscarf.

The issue soon spread like wildfire throughout the state where many government educational institutions started following the procedure and stopped hijab-clad students from entering the premises.

The issue then took a nasty turn when Hindu students, dressed up in saffron shawls started protesting against their hijab-clad Muslim classmates. Schools and pre-universities were shut down in order to maintain law and order.

On March 15, the Karnataka high court upheld the decision of the state government stating the hijab is not necessary and students should adhere to the rules of their respective institutions.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Friendship Can Solve Any Problem, Says Sheikh Hasina As She Begins India Visit


Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad house prior to the delegation level talks in New Delhi on Tuesday | Photo Credit: V. V. Krishnan


Sep 6, 2022

NEW DELHI: With friendship one can solve any problem, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said as she embarked on a four-day State visit to India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Hasina at the Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt here where she was accorded a tri-services guard of honour.

Interacting with reporters at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Hasina said her talks with Modi would focus on improving the condition of the people in their respective countries, poverty alleviation and economic development.

"Our main aim is to develop the economy and fulfill the basic needs of our people. With friendship you can solve any problem. So we always do that," Hasina said.

She also offered floral tributes at Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi

Hasina arrived in Delhi on Monday afternoon and is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Modi later Tuesday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called on Hasina on Monday evening.

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani also called on the Bangladeshi prime minister Monday evening.

During her stay, Hasina will also call on President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.

Hasina also visited Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah in the national capital on Monday and is scheduled to travel to Ajmersharif on Thursday.

Bangladesh is now India's biggest trade partner in South Asia and the bilateral trade has grown from USD 9 billion to USD 18 billion in the last five years. It has also become the fourth largest export destination for India with the exports registering a growth of over 66 per cent from USD 9.69 billion in 2020-21 to USD 16.15 billion in 2021-22.

Source: Times Of India

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No Privileges, Exceptions in Islamic Justice: King of Malaysia


Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah


09- 05- 2022

KUANTAN: Islamic justice does not at all give any privilege or exception to anyone who commits a wrongdoing, be it oneself, close friends, family members or parents, said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

His Majesty said the principle of Islamic justice does not allow any form of injustice, including to those unliked, besides also Upholding justice without favouritism that was practiced successfully and which raised the dignity of Islam during the time of Prophet Muhammad SAW.

“The principle of justice that is transparent also succeeds in developing a just, fair and prosperous society. The principle of justice according to Islam is upholding God’s trust.

“Based on the same principle, Sariah courts must also be wise in using discretionary powers and to be always fair to all parties when sentencing, especially those involving family cases.

“If the law is not implemented consistently and fairly, justice will certainly not be achieved as the philosophy behind the enactment of a law would have been tainted, and as a result, the disadvantaged party would end up being victimised by those in power,” His Majesty said when officiating at the opening of the Pahang Sariah Court Complex here today.

Construction of the court complex, officially named Kompleks Syariah Al-Sultan Abdullah, began on June 22, 2015 with a cost of RM44.75 million and was completed on Sept 23, 2021.

Gracing the event were the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and the Regent of Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Al-Sultan Abdullah.

Also present were were the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Senator Datuk Idris Ahmad, members of the Pahang state administration led by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and Pahang Chief Syariah Judge Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Md Yunos.

Al-Sultan Abdullah also said that the power to punish and pardon should not be used arbitrarily because it will be held accountable in the ‘afterlife’.

In addition, His Majesty also reminded Syariah judges to ensure cases are handled fairly and for judgments not to be delayed, besides calling on court officials and Syariah lawyers to also facilitate the smooth running of court proceedings.

His Majesty also expressed hope that the concept of ‘diyat’, or financial compensation to the kin of victims, that he had proposed over the past few years can be studied and implemented in Pahang, and the country in general.

“I would also like to ask Syariah judges to conduct a detailed study on punishments in the form of community service because there are offences that are not so serious, this should be considered so that they can serve the community... which can be resolved with discretion,” His Majesty said.

On the new court complex, Al-Sultan Abdullah expressed hope it would provide helpful services to the community in addition to conveying and developing the teachings of Islam and improving the country’s Syariah court institution. – Bernama

Source: The Sun Daily

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Saudi Film Commission reviews industry prospects in Kingdom at Venice Intl Film Fest


Discussion panel on the future of the film industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its regional and international influence, as part of the official program organized by the Venice production bridge at the Venice International Film Festival in Italy. (Courtesy: SPA)


05 September, 2022

The Film Commission has participated in a discussion panel on the future of the film industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its regional and international influence, as part of the official program organized by the Venice production bridge at the Venice International Film Festival in Italy, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Abduljalil al-Nasser, Director General of the Sector Development and Attracting Investments, at the Commission participated in the panel along with Charlene Deleon-Jones, Film AlUla CEO , Shivani Pandya, Managing Director at Red Sea International Film Festival, and Wayne Borg , Managing Director of Media, Entertainment, Culture and Fashion Industries at NEOM.

The panel went over the incentives program that the commission has launched to support films with up to 40 percent of financial recovery, which aims at attracting international production and stimulating the local production in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The program is part of a series of enablers that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys in the film industry, such as filming locations, logistical support and technical personnel, which make the Kingdom among the most attractive countries for cinematic production.

Al-Nasser said that there is a high level of coordination between public and private sector institutions in Saudi Arabia to build all parts of the value chain related to the film industry, which is a result of the commission’s awareness of the importance of the creative cycle of the film industry to build a comprehensive sector that serves filmmakers. He noted that all participants in the panel discussion praised the rich reserve of filming locations in Saudi Arabia, which forms a fertile land to host several stories from across the world in high-quality production projects.

Source: Al Arabiya

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 After More Than Two Decades, Pakistan Army Accepts Body of LeT Terrorist Tabarak Hussain

Sep 6, 2022

JAMMU: For the first time in more than two decades, Pakistan on Monday accepted the body of a trained Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist who had infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir and died during treatment after he was captured along the Line of Control (LoC) in Naushera sector of Rajouri district on August 21.

The body of Tabarak Hussain (32), a resident of Sabzakote in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was handed over to Pakistan by the Indian Army in the presence of police and civil officers at Chakan Da Bagh crossing point on the LoC in Poonch district, two days after he died of cardiac arrest at a military hospital in Rajouri.

Hussain was shot at and critically injured by the Indian troops. He was later shifted to military hospital in Rajouri where he underwent a surgery during which the soldiers donated three units of blood to save his life.

Source: Times Of India

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Imran Khan under fire from Pakistan Army, government over anti-military speeches

Sep 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan army reacted strongly on Monday to former prime minister Imran Khan’s remarks that the incumbent coalition government was opposing fresh polls as the ruling “Sharif and Zardari” families wanted to appoint an army chief of their choice to protect their alleged corruption.

Taking exception to Khan’s comments about the appointment of the new army chief, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media arm, said it was aghast at the defamatory and uncalled for statement about the institution’s senior leadership. “Regrettably, an attempt has been made to discredit and undermine the senior leadership of the Pakistan army at a time when the institution is laying (down) lives for the security and safety of the people of Pakistan every day,” ISPR said.

The ISPR said it was “most unfortunate and disappointing” when senior politicians try to stir up controversies regarding the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS), the procedure for which is well defined in the constitution.

The army’s senior leadership, according to ISPR, had a decades-long, impeccable and meritorious service to prove their patriotic and professional credentials beyond doubt.

Addressing a public rally in Faisalabad, central Punjab, on Sunday night, Imran Khan had said that former PM Nawaz Sharif and erstwhile president Asif Ali Zardari, through joint efforts, wanted to appoint their favourite as the next army chief because they are afraid that if a patriotic army chief comes in, he will ask them about their looted wealth. To support his argument, Khan had even aired past video clips related to alleged corruption of the two ruling families. “Whoever is on the top of the merit list should be appointed to head the institution,” Khan remarked.

ISPR, however, responded that politicising the senior leadership of the Pakistan army and scandalising the process of selection of the COAS is neither in the interest of the state of Pakistan nor of the institution. “Pakistan army reiterates its commitment to uphold the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the statement added.

In a related development, Islamabad high court chief justice Athar Minallah asked whether Imran Khan wanted to hurt the morale of the armed forces by delivering anti-military speeches.

“Did you hear Imran Khan’s speech from yesterday? Do political leaders deliver such speeches? Will everything be put at stake just for the sake of a ‘Game of Thrones’,” Justice Minallah asked Khan’s counsel, who had filed a petition against the electronic media regulator over a ban on Imran Khan’s live speeches. “How can you say in public whether an army chief is a patriot or not,” the CJ asked, and ordered the media body to regulate Imran’s speeches before wrapping up the case.

Following the military’s response, defence minister Khawaja Asif lashed out at Imran for questioning the process of the appointment of the army chief, saying the PTI chief’s statement was tantamount to disrespect for the armed forces. “Their only work as per the constitution is to give security to borders and the country. It is not their oath or commitment to shelter any political leader, and if they do so, it will be a deviation from their oath,” he added. The minister said some legal actions were in the offing against Imran, adding a few of them had been initiated.

In response to a question, Asif said it was the PM’s prerogative to appoint the army chief and that he would consult the government. “But, more importantly, advice from the army chief and the Pakistan army will be given top priority,” he said.

Foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said Imran had proven time and again to be “an unguided missile for the country”.

In a statement, he said that targeting senior officials and handing out “certificates of patriotism and traitors” to members of different institutions were the “hallmarks of this anarchist”.

The appointment of a new army chief is always considered the toughest decision for a Pakistan PM. The current army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, retires this November.

Last month, background discussions with PML-N stalwarts suggested the PM could initiate a dialogue on the appointment by the end of August, and possibly take a decision by mid-September.

As per rules, the president appoints the services chiefs on the recommendation of the PM. The tradition is that General Headquarters (GHQ) sends a list of the four to five senior-most lieutenant-generals, along with their personnel files, to the defence ministry, which then forwards them to the PM to pick the officer he finds best suited for the job.

Theoretically, the defence ministry has to screen the names before presenting them to the PM, but that does not usually happen and the ministry acts merely as a post office between the PM and GHQ.

Following deliberations on the appointment to Pakistan’s most powerful position either at the PM’s office or in the cabinet, the matter is then discussed at an informal consultation with the outgoing army chief. It is, however, the PM’s prerogative to take the final call.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan Foreign Office summons Indian diplomat over terrorist's death in J&K hospital

Sep 5, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Foreign Office on Monday summoned the Indian Charge d'Affaires (Cd'A) here to lodge a protest over the death of a Pakistani citizen, who had infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir to attack an army post.

Tabarak Hussain, a trained guide of Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group and a Pakistani Army agent, attempted to infiltrate into Nowshera sector of Rajouri on August 21 when he was shot at and critically injured by the Indian troops, officials in India said.

He was later shifted to military hospital Rajouri where he underwent a surgery during which the soldiers donated three units of blood to save his life. However, he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on September 3, they said.

The body of Hussain, a resident of Sabzkot village of Kotli in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), was handed over to Pakistan by the Indian Army at Chakan Da Bagh crossing point on the LoC in Poonch district on Monday, an Indian Army official said, adding this is probably the first instance in more than two decades of Pakistan accepting the body of a terrorist.

In Islamabad, the Foreign Office said it summoned the Indian diplomat and registered a strong protest over what it called "the extra-judicial killing" of Hussain.

Source: Times Of India

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'Legislation regarding transgender community against Quran and Sunnah'

05 September, 2022

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - Senator Mushtaq Ahmad on Monday presented the bill for amendments in the Transgender Protection Act, 2018 to the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights, Senator Waleed Iqbal, while representatives of the transgender community and human rights were present in the meeting.

During the meeting, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad said that "Transgender is an American term, it has no place in Islam, and the legislation regarding the transgender community is against Quran and Sunnah and it will promote homosexuality."

He suggested to the committee that the Islamic Ideological Council and the Muftis should be specially invited to take a decision in this regard.

On this, transgender representatives said they would not allow the Transgender Protection Act, 2018 to change.

Source: Dunya News

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Pakistan: Thousands of people in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province protest against targeted killings

5 September, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 5 (ANI): Thousands of people in the Khyber tribal district of Khyber Pakhtunkwa province demonstrated against the targeted killing and demanded the government to restore peace in the district and provide security to them.

The huge gathering titled Khyber Amn (peace) March was organised by Khyber Siyasi Ittehad. The protestors holding white flags marched through the different roads before converging at the main Bara Bazaar, Dawn reported.

They demanded that the government take notice of acts of terrorism, targeted killings of personnel of law enforcement agencies and rising incidents of extortion.

According to Dawn, the former Member of the National Assembly, Malak Waris Khan, while addressing the gathering, said that the residents of Khyber were peace-loving people and had always raised the slogan of peace but now they could no more tolerate militancy and insecurity.

“The last decade of militancy from 2005 to 2015 caused huge losses to them,” he said, asking the federal government to take steps for ensuring peace in all the tribal districts at the pattern of Islamabad, Lahore and other big cities of the country.

“It is the responsibility of the state to restore peace. We demand of the state authorities to provide a peaceful environment to the people of militancy-affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as they can no more tolerate terrorism and militancy,” said the former lawmaker.

A local leader of Jamaat-i-Islami, Haji Momin Khan, said that their youth were the first target of extremism with most of them losing their lives while scores of educational institutions were also destroyed that seriously affected the education of the tribal youth.

“The peace march awakened the tribal youth of their deep slumber and they were now demanding lasting peace in the entire merged region,” said a young political activist Naseeb Gul.

He further said that living in peace was a universal right of every human being and the people of Khyber in particular and the rest of the merged districts, in general, were demanding that constitutional right.

The protests against the targeted killing have been rampant in North Waziristan as several such cases of targeted killings were reported in North Waziristan over the past months. Earlier, the workers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Utmanzai tribes also been protesting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s North Waziristan against the killing of its local leaders and lawlessness in the district.

Source: The Print

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Future uncertain for Pakistan’s blasphemy victims

September 05, 2022

By Kamran Chaudhry

The return of the young son after spending more than four-and-a-half years in a Pakistan jail as a blasphemy suspect has not enthused his Christian family living in hiding for fear of death.

Patras Masih, 22, who was arrested in February 2018 for allegedly sharing a photo of a man with his shoes at a Muslim holy place, was granted bail by a Supreme Court bench on Aug 24 against a surety of 100,000 rupees (US$ 449.90).

Patras returned home on Sept 2 to an undisclosed location where his family now resides in a ‘safe house’ provided by the Voice Society, a Lahore-based rights organization.

Indrias Masih, his 47-year-old father, had never thought he would have to flee home and live in hiding with his family.

But on Feb 19, 2018, a mob of dozens of enraged protesters stormed Shahdara, their Christian neighborhood on the outskirts of Lahore, accusing Patras and his cousin, Sajid, of committing blasphemy.

They called for the cousins to be produced before them so that they could be lynched, according to media reports.

The family had to flee Shahdara along with around 1,000 Christians in the area amid violence by angry mobs.

Indrias does not move out of the safe house without a face mask. His eldest son, an electrician, works “privately” as he cannot go out and work or run a business. The youngest son passed his Grade 10 exams last week by studying at home.   

“It is big news for us after years of waiting. Patras used to cry because the jail is not a good place,” Indrias told UCA News.

The young man complained of being crammed inside a chaki (isolated cell) with six other Christians accused of blasphemy. He is still haunted by memories of having to sleep near the toilet due to the shortage of space, his father said.

But what really worries Indrias is what happens now after his son is released. He complains of a lack of support from Church leaders.

“Our bishops avoid giving us shelter. They say educating people is their top priority. I hope my voice reaches the rulers of the Church and the [Pakistani] government. We are poor and don’t have anything to offer or even save our children,” he said.

A majority of Christian victims of blasphemy and their hapless families in Pakistan may be feeling the same. “All we want is to live in peace,” Indrias said as if echoing the collective sentiment.

Patras, who worked as a sanitary worker, is among the three Christians, accused in separate cases of blasphemy, granted bail by Pakistan’s top court last month.

There is Pastor Raja Waris who was put behind the bars in 2020 for publishing a faith-based post on Facebook that some Muslims claimed hurt their religious sentiments. He was granted bail by the same Supreme Court bench as Patras.

The third Christian to be granted bail is Salamat Mansha Masih, another sanitary worker who spent more than 18 months in jail for allegedly preaching the gospel to young Muslims and insulting Islam.

Eight blasphemy accused have been either acquitted or granted bail this year, according to Catholic Bishop’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

However, rights activists say they have nowhere to go and little hope for the future.

The Voice Society is supporting three more Christian families besides Patras’ living in hiding in two other cities of the Punjab province.

“Funding is a major challenge in resettling those accused in blasphemy cases or their families. Every organization has mechanisms to provide households to such families,” NCJP Deputy Director Kashif Aslam told UCA News.

Aneeqa Maria, the Catholic counsel of Patras and chief executive of the Voice Society, says though out on bail, Patras will have to face trial.

“We shall steer as per circumstances,” she told UCA News.

She felt there must be some political change behind these back-to-back granting of bail.

“The case of Patras was of no evidence and yet we had to struggle for years, especially in opposition of the radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan. It was very difficult to get bail for blasphemy victims in the government of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan,” Maria said.

Aslam attributes the change in approach to the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment directing the federal government to create a national council for the rights of minorities and asking provincial governments to set up a task force to promote religious tolerance, protect places of worship and crack down on hate speech, among other measures.

The recent granting of bail in these cases is the result of international pressure, especially from the European Union. The Pakistan government is lobbying hard to be taken off the so-called "gray list" of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a terrorism funding watchdog, according to Khalid Shahzad, a Catholic rights worker.

Shahzad though conceded that acquittals or bail meant little for the victims of blasphemy.

“Challenges will remain for vulnerable minorities who cannot return to their homes even after acquittal in blasphemy cases. They’ll spend the rest of their lives in trauma, worrying for their safety and unable to work for a living,” he explained.

Shahzad said the Pakistan government and Church leaders should work on a rehabilitation plan to empower and integrate the blasphemy victims into society.

Blasphemy is both a sensitive and potent issue in Pakistan society. The Lahore-based Center for Social Justice (CSJ) has noted that at least 1949 persons have been accused under the blasphemy laws between 1987 and 2021. A large number of these blasphemy cases are still awaiting justice.

Activists underlined the need for fast-tracking the hearings as the superior and lower judiciaries are already dealing with a huge backlog running into millions of cases.

Cecil Chaudhry, South Asia deputy team leader of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), UK, hoped the back-to-back granting of bail is part of a long-term strategy.

“Obviously it’s a national image building. FATF and the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan scheduled in Jan. 2023 may be other factors," he said.

Historically, the Supreme Court has always been lenient to blasphemy victims as compared to the session courts and generally has an impartial way to look at things on merit.

“The recent comments from judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan have been positive. We hope they inspire the lower courts as well,” Chaudhry added.

At least 84 persons have been killed extra-judicially between 1987 and 2021 after allegations related to blasphemy and apostasy, according to CSJ.

The lynching of Sri Lankan national, Priyantha Kumara Diyawadanage, a factory manager in Sialkot, Punjab province, caused an uproar globally.

Source: UCA News

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Bilawal, Maryam condemn Imran Khan’s “defamatory” statement regarding Pakistan army

6 September, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 6 (ANI): Coalition leaders, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Monday condemned former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s “defamatory” statement about the Pakistan army.

“Imran Khan has proved time and again to be an unguided missile for the country, its economy, politics and social cohesion,” Bilawal said, urging the PTI chairman to desist from questioning the Pakistan army, reported Geo News.

In a public rally in Faisalabad, the PTI chairman criticized the government, saying that it was delaying the elections to appoint an army chief of its own and that if a “patriotic chief of army staff comes in, he will not spare the incumbent rulers.”

Since then, the former prime minister is under fire for targeting the Pakistan army, reported Geo News.

Commenting on Khan’s statement, Bilawal said, “Targeting senior officials and handing out certificates of patriotism and traitors for the members of different institutions have been hallmarks of this anarchist.”

Meanwhile, Maryam called the PTI chief a “double-dealer” saying that Pakistan will never reel from the shock and “continue to go downhill if he’s (Khan) not declared and dealt with as a double-dealer by all the stakeholders including the judiciary.”

She further added that Khan should not be treated like a “political leader because he’s not,” reported Geo News

“He has been launched and funded to wreck and ruin Pakistan and plunge the nation into pits of misery and despair,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that he has waged a war on our country by attacking its stability, economy, society, media and now its armed forces.

In his speech at a jalsa in Faisalabad this Sunday, the PTI chairman said the coalition government was stalling the elections as they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their own choice.”

The PTI chairman said that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former premier Nawaz Sharif “feared” a strong and patriotic army chief, who could hold them accountable for the looted money they had stashed abroad, reported Geo News.

The former prime minister said a new army chief was going to be appointed in November this year, and they (Zardari and Nawaz) jointly wanted to appoint a favourite [general] as the next army chief.

Imran Khan alleged that both have committed corruption worth billions, and they wanted to appoint an army chief who could protect them and their corruption.

Source: The Print

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Four men detained for laughing at PML-N leader

Munawer Azeem

September 6, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The capital police detained four people in a police station for hours without any formal complaint and written application after they allegedly laughed at a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) politician and his guests.

The Kohsar police arrested the four persons from Monal Restaurant without registration of a case and formal complaints and detained them for a day, senior police officers said, adding that later they were released after their arrest went viral on social media and turned into one of the top trends.

According to the officers, the management of Monal Restaurant informed the capital police that some people were laughing at the PML-N leader Atta Tarrar and his guests, who were in the restaurant, making them uncomfortable.

The matter was brought to the knowledge of the area police who reached there, they added.

However, they found no offence as it was revealed that they were spotted laughing at the PML-N leader and his companions and passing remarks, the officials said. Shortly, the police reported the matter to a senior officer who directed the Kohsar SHO to arrest the four persons.

Later the SHO arrested them and brought them to Kohsar police station and put them behind bars, without registering a case, they said.

Inspector General of Police Dr Akbar Nasir Khan was approached for his comments but he preferred to remain silent.

The capital police’s public relations officer was also approached for his version but he refused to reply and instead sent a written statement, saying that the police reached Monal Restaurant in response to a call made by the security staff deployed there that the family of the prime minister’s aide, Atta Tarrar, was being harassed.

Source: Dawn

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Gyanvapi issue: Court grants time to Muslim side to present reply on September 13

September 5, 2022

Gorakhpur: A draft delimitation order issued by the Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation has changed the “Muslim-sounding names” of around a dozen wards, prompting a sharp reaction from leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

The changing of names was part of the delimitation exercise under which the number of wards went up to 80 in Gorakhpur, with several of these named after iconic personalities and freedom fighters.

A senior official said on Saturday, September 3 that people can file their objections within a week and after their disposal, the delimitation will be approved.

Samajwadi Party leader and Ismailpur (which has been changed to Sahabganj) corporator Shahab Ansari charged that changing of names is an attempt at polarisation.

Ansari said the party will hold a meeting in this regard on Sunday and a delegation will meet the district magistrate to raise the objection on Monday.

Congress leader Talat Aziz termed the name-changing exercise as a waste of money.

“I fail to understand what the government will achieve through this exercise,” the leader asked.

Mayor Sitaram Jaiswal said the new names evoke a feeling of pride. He said wards were named after personalities like Ashfaqullah Khan, Shiv Singh Chetri, Baba Gambhir Nath, Baba Raghavdas, Rajendra Prasad and Madan Mohan Malviya.

Municipal commissioner Avinash Singh said objections can be sent within a week to the additional chief secretary, Urban Development Department, Lucknow. After the disposal of the objections, the delimitation will be approved, he said.

Gorakhpur, the home town of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, will now have 80 wards.

Below is a list of wards which have had their names changed:

Old Name      New Name

Humanyunpur (North)         Hanumant Nagar

Turkmanpur   Shaheed Ashfaqullah Nagar

Rasoolpur      Maharana Pratap Nagar

Daudpur        Raghupati Sahay Firaak Nagar

Jafra Bazaar  Atma Ram Nagar

Ismailpur       Sahabgang

Miya Bazaar   Maya Bazaar

Qazipur Khurd          Jagannathpur

Alinagar        Aarya Nagar

Chaksa Hussain        Sant Jhoole Lal Nagar

Mutipur         Ghanta Ghar

Bheriyagar     Vishnupuram

Mohaddipur    Sardar Bhagat Singh Nagar

Hansupur       Sri Ram Chowk

Rustampur     Chandra Shekhar Azad Chowk

Elahibahg      Bandhu Singh Nagar

Since Yogi Adityanath first became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, many such revisions in the ‘Muslim-sounding’ names of areas within the state have taken place.

In October, 2018, the name of Allahabad was changed to ‘Prayagraj’ through a proposal cleared by the state cabinet. Just two weeks later, Adityanath announced that Faizabad would be renamed to Ayodhya.

In the same year, the railway station, Mughalsarai, was renamed after RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhayaya and Hazratganj Chaurah in Lucknow was renamed ‘Atal Chowk’ after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

And this process is not unique to Uttar Pradesh; Bharatiya Janata Party governments in other states as well have attempted to change ‘Muslim-sounding’ or ‘Mughal-era’ names of places.

In April this year, leaders of the BJP in Delhi took it upon themselves to change the name of Muhammadpur to ‘Madhavpuram’ through a renaming ceremony, even though officials of the AAP-ruled Delhi government insisted that the name change has no official basis.

Thereafter, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta wrote a letter to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal identifying 40 villages with “Muhgal-era” names, requesting that he change them.

‘Broken our hearts’: Assam madrasa demolitions have left Bengali-origin Muslims feeling besieged

Hazrat Ali had just finished his evening prayers around 4 pm on August 30 when he saw the madrasa compound flooded with security personnel.

By 6 pm, the local administration in Assam’s Bongaigaon district had issued orders – everyone living in the Markazul Ma-Arif Quariayana Madrasa complex had to leave by 10 pm that night. It was going to be demolished the next morning. The order cited sections of the Disaster Management Act to say the building was “structurally vulnerable and unsafe for human habitation”.

“We started crying when we heard we had to leave the madrasa as it would be demolished,” said the 17-year-old, one of the 224 students who lived and studied at the madrasa. “The police were telling us to leave the campus. My friends, Abdul Badshah and Asanul Islam, are from other districts. They didn’t know where to go at night.”

At 10 am the next day, the bulldozers arrived and started work on the two-storeyed madrasa in Bongaigaon’s Kabaitary IV village. It had been built in 1985, using donations from residents of the greater Kabaitary area.

“It took 12 hours, eight JCBs and three excavators to demolish the madrasa building. Was it a weak and vulnerable building?” demanded Musarof Hussain, president of the madrassa committee since 2005. “The demolition is an injustice to all the residents of Kabaitary.”

On August 26, five days before the demolition, the police had arrested Mufti Hafizur Rahman, a teacher at the madrasa, on terror charges.

VV Rakesh Reddy P – superintendent of police in Goalpara district, where the teacher was arrested – alleged he had links to groups such as al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and the Ansarullah Bangla Team, an outfit based in Bangladesh that has claimed responsibility for several attacks there. The two outfits allegedly have organisational links.

It has become part of a pattern in Assam over the last month – a crackdown on terror outfits is accompanied by demolitions. As of September 3, 40 people have been arrested in seven cases, according to police figures.

Most of those arrested are Bengali-origin Muslims, a community that is often labelled as “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants”. While the government alleges it is only cracking down on terror outfits, the community as a whole feels increasingly under siege.

“They have broken our hearts, not the madrasa,” said a tearful 24-year old Hasina Akhtar, who had gone to the Bongaigaon madrasa the day after it was demolished. “Is being a Muslim and practising Islam a crime now? If any bad thing happened in the madrasa, we would raise questions. Give us proof that they have recovered arms.”

Demolition spree

A day before the Bongaigaon madrasa was demolished, another seminary was brought down in the nearby Barpeta district. Earlier, on August 4, a madrasa in Morigaon district was demolished.

The official orders issued by the district administration cited concerns about structural safety or alleged “illegal encroachment”. But each demolition followed the arrest of teachers, clerics and others with links to the madrasas – mostly on terror charges.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has also kept up a steady stream of press conferences implicitly linking the demolitions to a crackdown on alleged terror networks.

On August 4, as the Morigaon madrasa was razed to the ground, Sarma announced that the state was becoming a “hotbed of jihadi activities” with five modules linked to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and the Ansarullah Bangla Team busted since March.

Sarma distinguished between “jihadi activity” and “terrorist or insurgency activity”. The former, he said, started with “indoctrination” at the madrasa, usually by imams from outside the state, which then led to “subversive activities”.

On August 22, Sarma announced that imams from outside the state had to register themselves online and go through police verification. The four organisations running most non-government madrasas in Assam have now been asked to survey them within six months.

On August 30, as the Barpeta madrasa went down, Sarma said it had been “used as a hub for terrorism”.

Then on September 1, Sarma said that the government did not intend to go on demolishing madrasas. “So, once madrasas are not used for jihadi works or for the purpose of expanding jihadi ideology then why there will be demolition?” he reasoned. “But, if we get specific inputs that an institution is being used, under guise of a madrasa, for anti-India activities and jihadi activities, we will take the strongest possible action in each and every case.”

‘A conspiracy’

According to Superintendent Reddy, Hafizur Rahman was arrested on the basis of statements made by two imams from Goalpara district, Abdus Subhan and Jalaluddin Sheikh, held on August 21.

Both had confessed to being members of al-Qaeda and Ansarullah, to recruiting and training new members in Assam as well as sheltering Bangladeshi operatives of the groups, Reddy claimed.

“Hafizur had joined the terror groups in 2019,” Reddy said. “We found he had links with Abdus Subhan.”

In addition to teaching, Rahman also ran a stall selling books and food items in the Bongaigaon madrasa campus. On August 30, the police raided this shop. Reddy claimed they found a Bengali leaflet on the Ansarullah Bangla Team and a logo “suspected to be AQIS”.

Rahman was one of 22 teachers at the madrasa and had taught there since 2014. The madrasa committee is dismayed at the demolition drive, carried out despite the fact that they were willing to cooperate with the police administration.

“We had suspended the teacher after he was summoned by the police on August 3,” said Hussain, the committee president. “We were providing all the necessary support to the police investigation and repeatedly maintained that if anyone is involved in jihadi activity, he should be punished as per the law of the land.”

According to committee vice president Sujal Hoque, the police did not have any existing cases against the madrasa.

“In the last 37 years, the district administration never doubted [us] or found any anti-national activities in our madrasa,” he said. “The madrasa was demolished in a conspiracy. The government has a blueprint to target all Muslim religious institutions.”

‘We want our madrasa back’

The madrasa committee was also disturbed by how suddenly the demolition was carried out. The seminary housed students not only from various districts in Assam but also from states like West Bengal and Meghalaya.

“We had requested the authorities to give us till morning to vacate so that we could send the students home safely,” Hussain said. “But they denied us time.”

On the morning after the demolition, 12-year-old Johurul Islam was still in shock after seeing security forces enter the campus. His home is some distance away in Chirang district and he had camped overnight at a nearby mosque.

“We are feeling terrible – they brought down the school,” the 12-year-old said. “It was like our home as we studied there and stayed here. How would you feel if someone breaks down your school? What bad thing did we do?”

Shah Kamal, a 15-year-old student, worried about losing a whole academic year. “I already enquired at other institutions but they refused to admit us now as it is the middle of the year,” he said.

It was not just teachers and students who were disturbed by the demolition. The madrasa, built with public donations, had deep roots in the local community. On September 1, a large crowd gathered in the rain to survey the ruins of what they had helped to build. As anger mounter, the entire district was placed under Section 144, which prohibits large gathering.

“We donated from our savings to build the madrasa,” said 24-year-old Akhtar, who had gone to see the demolished madrasa on September 1. “The government has not built it. Why did they break the madrasa? We want an answer. We want our madrasa back.”

Forty nine-year-old Asma Khatun, who said the madrasa provided general as well as religious education, was indignant that students had been asked to leave at a few hours’ notice. “Do they have sense or empathy?” she asked.

‘Illegal encroachment’

In contrast, the Shaikhul Hind Mahmudul Hasan Jamiul Huda Islamic Academy located in Barpeta district’s Joshihatipara village, was privately owned. When the district administration demolished it on August 30, it claimed the madrasa had been built “illegally” on government land.

However, both the chief minister and the police linked it to alleged terror networks. “All jihadi-related works started from this madrasa and the madrasa gave shelter to ABT operatives and cadres from Bangladesh,” said Barpeta Superintendent of Police Amitava Sinha. “This madrasa has been used to radicalise people and as a training camp.”

According to the police, the seminary was built by Bangladeshi national Saiful Islam, also known as Mohammad Suman, who entered India from Bangladesh with at least five other members of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, allegedly to indoctrinate Muslim youth so that they could be recurited.

Saiful Islam, who was an Arabic teacher at the madrasa and an imam at the nearby mosque, was arrested on March 4. The other five Bangladeshi nationals are still absconding, the police said.

On August 31, visited the madrasa and spoke to at least six residents of Joshihatipara as well as teachers at the madrasa and the families of three of the accused. All were bemused by the charges against the madrasa, which was located in the heart of the village.

They believed Saiful Islam was from West Bengal and not Bangladesh. Abdul Barrek, who lives near the demolished madrasa, said Saiful Islam had moved to the village three years earlier but the madrasa had been there for eight years.

There were two campuses, said a teacher at the madrasa who did not want to be named, one was a school for general education while the other offered religious education. He added that there were about 200 students, divided almost equally between the religious seminary and the private school. The two campuses, separated by a village road, included six buildings, all of which were demolished.

“As far as I know, neither was any kind of jihadi literature taught nor was there any anti-national activity in the madrasa,” he said.

Raids and arrests

Sinha told that they had arrested 22 people under terror charges in three different cases in Barpeta district. According to him, all had links to the madrasa or visited it often.

Among those arrested in the police sweep in Joshihatipara is Abu Bakkar Siddique, a 48-year-old farmer booked for criminal conspiracy, waging war against India and under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“The police came to our house on the night of August 1 and asked that my uncle surrender. He had gone out fishing that night,” said Saruwar Alom, his nephew. “So my uncle surrendered the next day. But he was arrested on August 6.”

Alom said that the police had paid a second visit to their home around 12.30 am on August 6.

“They entered with my younger cousin and searched the house,” said Alom. “The police found a bag. Inside, there was a pamphlet wrapped in a newspaper. The pamphlet had ‘Ansarullah Bangla Team’ written in it. It was wrapped in a newspaper dated August 1.”

However, he said, the family had never seen the pamphlet before, and they had combed through the house after Siddique was detained on August 1. “I had even personally looked at the bag – there was no such pamphlet covered with a newspaper dated August 1,” said Alom. “Someone had planted it, we don’t know who.”

Alom and his family maintained Siddiqui was innocent.

“My uncle had known Saiful as he was the imam of the mosque and my uncle used to pray five times a day,” he said. “We are very poor people. My uncle also cannot walk properly as he has had an accident.”

The relatives of Taimur Khan, a resident of the neighbouring Dhakalia Para village, have a similar story to tell. Khan was also arrested on terror and conspiracy charges the same day as Saiful Islam. He runs a tailoring shop and his house is about 300 metres from the demolished madrasa.

“The police came to our house in three vehicles around 3.40 am on March 4,” said his wife, 46-year-old Basia Parbin. “They asked us to go outside and started searching the house. After some time they took me inside and showed me a piece of paper. But I know it was not from my house. I don’t know where it came from.”

Parbin, who cannot read, could not say what was written on it but believes it led to her husband’s arrest. “The police took my husband after finding the piece of paper and he never returned,” she said.

Parbin also insists her husband, who has chronic heart problems and went through surgery in Hyderabad seven years ago, is innocent.

“I don’t know why they were here,” she said. “And my husband is a sick person. We spend Rs 3,000 [a month] on his medicines. I have to keep the shop going to run the house.”

Source: Scroll

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Gyanvapi issue: Court grants time to Muslim side to present reply on September 13


A fast track court here on Monday granted time to the Muslim side to present its reply on a petition seeking permission to hold 'darshan' of an idol in the Gyanvapi mosque complex.

General secretary of Vishwa Vaidik Sangh Kiran Singh Bisen had filed the petition in the court of civil judge senior division, seeking regular 'darshan' (glimpse) and worshipping of "Adivisheshwar" in the Gyanvapi mosque complex. He had also sought a ban on the entry of Muslims in the complex and handing over it to Hindus.

The Muslim side has questioned the maintainability of the petition and on Monday sought time to present its reply. The court granted it permission and posted the matter for next hearing on September 13.

Maan Bahadur Singh, advocate representing the Hindu side, said he also made his arguments in the court against the views presented by the Muslim side.

Source: Telegraph India

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Babri Mosque Case: CBI Files Objection In High Court Against Plea Challenging Acquittal

05 SEP 2022

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday objected to a petition in the Allahabad High Court that challenges the acquittal of all accused in the 1993 Babri Mosque demolition case.

The CBI has argued that the two petitioners were not the victims in the case and hence did not have the right to file the present appeal against the acquittal.

The Babri Mosque was demolished by karsevaks on 6 December 1992. The accused that were all acquitted included top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, and Kalyan Singh.

The petitioners, Ayodhya residents Haji Mahmood Ahmad and Syed Akhlaq Ahmad, argued that the trial court had made an error in its verdict as ample evidence was on record.

Notably, the trial judge had refused to believe newspaper cuttings and video clips as evidence as the originals of the same were not produced, while the entire edifice of the case rested on these pieces of documentary evidence. The trial judge also had held that the CBI could not produce any evidence that the accused had a meeting of mind with karsevaks who demolished the structure.

The grounds for not accepting video evidence was that the CBI never sent video cassettes to forensic laboratories to ascertain their veracity.

The petitioners had said, "The trial judge did not appreciate the evidence of conspiracy in the right perspective."

The CBI on Monday submitted objections on the maintainability of their criminal appeal. A bench of justices Ramesh Sinha and Renu Agrawal of the Allahabad High Court fixed 26 September for the next hearing on the appeal.

Earlier, the appellants had filed a revision petition against the acquittal but Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh had held that it was not maintainable under Section 372 of CrPC, which deals with the provision of appeals in criminal cases. On request of the petitioners, the court had directed its office to convert and treat it as a criminal appeal. Accordingly, the criminal revision was converted into a criminal appeal and listed before the appropriate division bench.

The appellants said that they were witnesses in the trial and were victims owing to the demolition of the disputed structure.

Source: Outlook India

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SC seeks Centre’s response on feasibility of Uniform Civil Code

Sep 06, 2022

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to make its stand clear, within three weeks, on the feasibility of implementing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) U U Lalit and justice S Ravindra Bhat was dealing with a batch of petitions seeking uniformity in laws for age of marriage, grounds of divorce, succession, adoption, guardianship and maintenance when it noted that these issues are various “facets” of UCC and directed the Centre to file its response on each aspect.

“These petitions are seeking common marriage, divorce, adoption, succession and maintenance laws. What is the difference between these matters? They are all facets of Uniform Civil Code,” the bench said.

“Let a comprehensive response be filed, indicating the stand of the Union government in respect of issues raised in this batch of petitions,” it added.

A clutch of pleas filed by lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay and another petitioner, Lubna Qureshi, has pointed at anomalies in various laws on divorce, marriage, succession, adoption and maintenance prevailing for different religions.

In his plea, Upadhyay sought uniformity in grounds for which divorce is granted. Adultery is a ground for Hindus, Christians and Parsis but not for Muslims, he said.

Likewise, incurable leprosy is a ground of divorce for Hindus and Muslims but not for Christians and Parsis. Also, under age marriage is a ground of divorce for Hindus but not for Christians, Parsis and Muslims, he said.

In case of adoptions, only Hindus have a codified law under which an adopted child has the right to inherit property and be recognised as a biological child of the adopted parents, Upadhyay said. The case is not the same for Muslims, Christians and Parsis, he added.

Upadhyay’s petition also said women across religions ought to be treated equally. Religious practices which deny them their fundamental rights should not be protected, he said.

“We are considering what response the Centre will file and what kind of judicial process we can issue in this matter. Assuming we might issue a mandamus (writ giving a direction), can we issue a mandamus itself is in question and also whether you intend to place such a bill in Parliament,” the bench said.

Appearing for the Centre, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said it would essentially be a question of law. “If need be, we will put in a reply in three weeks,” he said.

Opposing the pleas, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and a Muslim woman, Amina Sherwani, filed intervention applications in the top court, alleging attempts were being made to bring in the UCC through the backdoor.

Appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi along with advocate M R Shamshad said Upadhyay, in 2015, had raised similar prayers in a writ petition filed in the top court which he withdrew.

The BJP leader later filed a petition seeking enforcement of UCC before Delhi high court, which is still pending, the lawyers said.

The petitioner has not mentioned this fact in the present set of petitions and should be asked to summon the record of his earlier petition, Huzefa told the bench.

Though the top court, in the past, had advised the Centre to give a thought for having UCC, the judiciary has left it to the legislative wisdom without entering the domain reserved for Parliament.

Taking note of the submissions, the bench told Upadhyay: “You should be fair to this court. Check your petition and file the same before us on the next date of hearing.”

Upadhyay said his earlier petition was on implementing Article 44 of the Constitution which says “the state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”

He said he withdrew this (earlier) plea with a liberty to approach the Law Commission of India on this aspect. The present petitions are not on UCC, he said.

“I am not seeking UCC. In these petitions, I have endeavoured to show anomalies that exist in the country which make laws on marriage, divorce, adoption, maintenance, and succession apply differently to women of different religions. This violates their fundamental rights under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (right against discrimination) and 21 (life and liberty),” he said.

To this, the bench said: “Even matrimonial issues are one of the facets of UCC.”

The Muslim Personal Law Board also informed the bench that the same petitioner has challenged ‘nikah halala’ and other forms of marriage under Muslim laws and that his prayers are of similar nature and pending before a Constitution Bench.

Source: Hindustan Times

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AIMPLB opposes pleas on uniform laws

Sep 6, 2022

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta on what could be the judicial process in deciding religion-neutral uniform law on several key issues and whether the court can pass direction to frame the law.

Mehta said he would take instructions on the issue from the government and brief the court on the next date of hearing. The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay pleading it to examine these contentious issues. He also pleaded that there should be gender- and religion-neutral uniform marriage age.

Upadhyay's plea was strongly opposed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which told the bench that the BJP leader had filed a similar petition on Uniform Civil Code in the SC in 2015 and had withdrawn it with a liberty to approach the high court. Advocate M R Shamshad, appearing for the Board, said it was disturbing that the petitioner was not truthful to the court, which is an abuse of the process of law. Upadhyay refuted the allegation and argued that the earlier petition was not similar to the present one being heard by the bench. The SC, while deferring the hearing, said the counsel should be fair to the court.

Source: Times Of India

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Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to talk with PM Modi while in India to boost ties

Sep 6, 2022

NEW DELHI: Bangladesh's prime minister was welcomed to India with a ceremony in the capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday during a four-day visit aimed at boosting bilateral ties.

Sheikh Hasina shook hands with PM Narendra Modi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace, and officials said the two leaders later in the day are expected to discuss deals on connectivity, energy, food security, and trade.

Hasina said the two countries enjoy a friendly relationship focused on alleviating poverty and economic advancement. "We can work together so that people not only (in) India, Bangladesh, and also the South Asian people, they can get better life. That is our main focus," she said.

In Bangladesh, her visit is seen as politically significant as it comes ahead of general elections next year. Hasina, who has maintained a warm relationship with India since becoming prime minister in 2009, will push to bolster investment and trade as well as make progress on long-standing issues such as water-sharing of common rivers, observers say.

Over the weekend, Bangladesh's foreign minister told reporters that the two countries are likely to ink seven agreements covering science and technology, water management, and information and broadcasting.

"We hope the visit will be very successful. It will help achieve our goals," Dr AK Abdul Momen was quoted as saying by The Daily Star newspaper.

he relationship between the neighbors is crucial, with India being Bangladesh's largest trading partner in South Asia. While China is involved in almost all major infrastructure development schemes in Bangladesh, India is also more eager to take up joint projects.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh runs a significant trade imbalance with India, an issue that may be discussed during Hasina's visit. In the fiscal year 2021-22, Bangladesh imported goods worth around $14 billion from India while exports to its neighboring country ran lower at $1.8 billion, according to official figures. Authorities and trade bodies often blame tariff and non-tariff barriers as well as anti-dumping obstacles imposed by India for the low exports.

Another priority for Hasina may be to make progress on agreements for water sharing of the Teesta River, a major transboundary river that begins in India's Sikkim state and runs through the north of West Bengal state before flowing into Bangladesh.

For decades, there was no movement on this issue until 2011 when India agreed to share waters during the lean season, between December and March but the deal never went through due to strong opposition from the West Bengal state's chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

When Modi visited Bangladesh last year, he reiterated India's commitment to conclude this agreement but the impasse has dragged on.

Hasina last visited India in 2019, when she and Modi agreed on the need to boost efforts to facilitate the safe return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar and have since taken refuge in Bangladesh.

Source: Times Of India

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Terrorists fire upon SOG camp in Shopian

Sep 6, 2022

SRINAGAR: Terrorists on Monday evening opened fire at a Special Operations Group (SOG) camp in Imam Sahib area in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. There was no loss of life or injury in the attack, said a police officer.

The terrorists managed to escape from the spot taking advantage of the darkness, the officer said. Soon after the attack, the entire area was cordoned off and a search was initiated to trace the perpetrators.

Source: Times Of India

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Cook's bullet-riddled body found in Kashmir's Shopian, rivalry between terror groups suspected behind murder

Sep 6, 2022

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday recovered the bullet-riddled body of a cook in Narpora village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. He had been abducted by terrorists the previous evening. Two of the cook's brothers are active terrorists while a third, also a terrorist, was killed in an encounter in 2014.

The Kashmir Police tweeted that the body of 30-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Nangroo, a resident of Hanjan in Pulwama, was found in an orchard. A murder case has been registered and probe launched.

Additional DGP of Kashmir Vijay Kumar said the killing appeared to be a result of rivalry between militant groups.

One of the brothers of the deceased cook, Ashiq Nangroo, is a JeM terrorist and is currently in Pakistan. His second brother, Abbas Nangroo, was killed in an encounter in Pulwama while third brother Reyaz Nangroo is in jail in connection with a terror attack in Jammu. Kumar said Reyaz owned trucks and used to ferry terrorists from Jammu to Kashmir.

Preliminary investigation revealed that on Sunday evening, the deceased, along with two others, including a chef, was returning from work in an auto-rickshaw after a function at Chraripora area of Budgam. On the way, another person, a baker, boarded the auto when terrorists waiting in a Tata Mobile intercepted the vehicle and abducted its occupants.

Source: Times Of India

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South Asia


Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Visits Delhi's Nizamuddin Dargah

September 05, 2022

New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday visited the much-revered Dargah Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi on the first day of her four-day visit to India and offered prayers.

PM Hasina, who arrived here earlier in the day, went around the almost 700-year-old Dargah - the nerve centre of Sufi culture in India.

"Prime Minister Hasina offered prayers and munajat, seeking development, prosperity and welfare of the country, the nation as well as the entire Muslim community," PM's Deputy Press Secretary KM Shakhawat Moon told journalists.

PM Hasina was a regular visitor to the dargah during her stay in Delhi from 1975 to 1981 following the assassination of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Source: ND TV

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Two Russian embassy staff dead, 11 injured after suicide bomb blast near Russian Embassy in Kabul

Sep 5, 2022

KABUL: Two Russian embassy staff in Kabul were killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives near the entrance of the embassy, in a blast that injured 11 others, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Police said two people had died in the incident but did not give their identities, while the attacker was shot dead by armed guards as he approached the gate.

"The suicide attacker before reaching the target, was recognised and shot by Russian embassy (Taliban) guards ... there is no information about casualties yet," Mawlawi Sabir, the head of the police district where the attack took place, told Reuters.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that an unknown militant set off an explosive device near the entrance to the consular section of the embassy around at 10:50 a.m. Kabul time.

"As a result of the attack, two employees of the diplomatic mission were killed, and there are also victims among Afghan citizens," the ministry said.

Source: Times Of India

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Taliban won’t last long like last time, resistance on the rise, says Afghan ex-minister Balkhi


6 September, 2022

New Delhi: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which completed one year last month, will be short-lived compared to the last time they were in power (1996-2001), says former Afghan minister and diplomat Mirwais Balkhi.

Balkhi, who was education Minister of the erstwhile Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from 2018 to 2020, also said the Taliban are not just shutting down girls’ schools but gradually ruining the country’s education ecosystem by converting general schools into madrasas (Islamic religious schools).

“The past year under the Taliban has been a total catastrophe. Not only has there been a gradual collapse of the achievements of the past 20 years, but also a complete collapse of the governance system,” Balkhi told ThePrint in an interview.

According to Balkhi, who no longer lives in Afghanistan, the Taliban — after having seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 — are running the country with “nationalism, radicalisation and tribalism” as the pillars of their governance model.

The Taliban first came to power in Afghanistan in 1996 but were eventually ousted by a US-led military coalition in 2001.

“I do not think any country will now recognise the Taliban at all, including those which are engaging with them,” said Balkhi, adding that unlike the last time they were in power, this Taliban regime will not even last a full five years.

Building on his argument, Balkhi said the Taliban regime currently is facing “enormous resistance”, not just from former vice-president Amrullah Saleh and the National Resistance Front (NRF), led by Ahmad Massoud, son of ‘Lion of Panjshir’ Ahmad Shah Massoud. Resistance against the Taliban is gradually rising in the provinces of Baghlan, Badakhshan, Takhar, Balkh and Faryab, he claimed.

“On one side, of course, it is the NRF which is fighting the Taliban militarily, but there is otherwise also enormous resistance against the Taliban across the country. There is resistance from women, there is resistance from intellectuals, there is resistance from ethnic and religious groups, they are all resisting against the Taliban,” he said.

The NRF, he added, will gain more strength and legitimacy among the people going forward.

“There will be more and more recruitment from the NRF and they have that passion and they are fighting. They will be able to suppress and convince the Taliban that they cannot rule Afghanistan with such a radicalised ideology,” he told ThePrint.

“The Taliban is afraid of the NRF and other resistance groups. They know these people are potential threats to their existence,” he added.

‘Taliban converting schools into madrasas’

On 23 March, less than a year since they overran Kabul, the interim Taliban government decided to shut down girls’ secondary schools across Afghanistan. But according to Balkhi — who has also worked as a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan — both young boys and girls are being denied proper education under the new regime.

“The education system is in a state of collapse. Even general schools are being converted into madrasas. And not just girls, they are not even allowing boys to study properly,” he said, adding that Taliban are neither in favour of distance learning, nor free education for poor children or teaching of certain skill sets in schools.

Expressing concern about the quality of education in Afghanistan, Balkhi said that expanding the influence of madrasas will “pave the way for more recruitment of the young generation by terrorist networks”.

“That is why they are destroying the educational infrastructure of Afghanistan,” he said.

The Taliban, Balkhi said, have long-term plans to change school curriculum and make it “anti-secular, anti-democratic and anti-West”.

Source: The Print

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Afghanistan: Taliban Using India's Aid for Their Families, Claims Ahmad Massoud

05 Sep 2022

Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the 'Lion of Panjshir,' in an exclusive interview to the Indian Express, has alleged that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has India's "humanitarian support for their own forces and their families, not the people truly in need."

"They are not distributing aid justly, and they give it to one area more than the others based on ethnicity," he added.

He went on to say that, "with all his heart, he is thankful and grateful for the support that India has been giving. I thank the Indian government and amazing Indian people. And I urge them to continue the support because Afghanistan is going towards a humanitarian crisis. The people have nothing to eat."

Via the United Nations' World Food Programme, India is sending 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan as a part of its humanitarian aid.

Massoud was also asked about the Indian government's approach to the current Taliban regime compared to the 1990s, when India had covertly aided Ahmad Shah Massoud's Northern Alliance's resistance.

"I think the difference in approach is the hesitation. India is still in the process of assessing the situation. This hesitation is fatal. It is very wrong. And we need immediate action before the ideology takes root or before the terrorist finds a foundation," Massoud said.

He also spoke about Kashmir, and how "the rule of the Taliban will be a safe haven, and especially when there is no legitimate government in Kabul. It is a safe haven for many terrorist groups, Jaish-e-Mohammed and many others, which are a threat to India and to all countries in the region."

Source: The Quint

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Taliban-led Afghan govt condemns explosion near Russian Embassy in Kabul

5 September, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], September 5 (ANI): Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Taliban-led Afghan government condemned the attack near the Russian embassy that killed 10 and injured several others.

The blast resulted in the death of two Russian Embassy staff and injury of several locals, Taliban spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, said in a tweet.

The spokesperson said that a comprehensive investigation had been launched into the matter and further measures will be taken to safeguard the Embassy and prevent such probable incidents in future.

“Our security has launched a comprehensive investigation, & will take further measures to safeguard the Embassy & prevent such probable incidents from hindering the Embassy’s activities,” Balkhi wrote on Twitter adding that the Islamic Emirates has close relations with the Russian Federation and will not allow the enemies to sabotage relations between both countries with such negative actions.

The explosion occurred on Monday morning in the vicinity of the Consular Department gate of the Russian Embassy in Kabul leaving ten dead and several wounded.

UN mission in Afghanistan on Monday condemned the blast outside the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan’s Kabul and stressed the need for the Taliban to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the people as well as diplomatic missions.

“UNAMA condemns today’s explosion outside @RusEmbassyKabul. We express our condolences to the families of those killed and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured,” the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a tweet.

This explosion comes days after at least 20 people were killed in a blast that rocked a mosque in northwestern Afghanistan during Friday prayers. In recent months, a number of blasts have been reported in the capital city of Kabul, claiming dozens of innocent lives.

This series of blasts comes on the heels of one year of the Taliban’s atrocious rule in Afghanistan. Rights groups said the terror outfit had broken multiple pledges to respect human and women’s rights. After capturing Kabul in August last year, the Islamic authorities have imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, suppressed the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured, and summarily executed critics and perceived opponents, among other abuses.

Source: The Print

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Southeast Asia


You’re why PAS can’t break into non-Muslim seats, Kit Siang tells Hadi

By Zarrah Morden

05 Sep 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang was the very reason why his party was not making headway outside of Malay-Muslim constituencies, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today.

Responding to Hadi’s challenge for the Non-Muslim PAS Supporters Congress (DHPP) to emulate DAP in breaking down racial barriers of electoral constituencies, Lim said the movement was ineffectual as its leaders lacked the courage to stand up to the PAS president.

“Hadi is behind time and continues to spout irrational, extremist and even racist views.

“He does not realise that Islam does not differentiate among the races, religions, cultures or nationalities on the question of corruption,” the Iskandar Puteri MP said in a statement today.

Lim again challenged Hadi, who is the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East, to deny if he was banned from visiting Saudi Arabia and possibly other countries in the region.

“Wouldn’t a self-respecting political leader resign his appointment under these circumstances or is he more attracted to the emoluments and perks of the appointment without having to do any work?” Lim asked.

On August 20, Abdul Hadi accused non-Muslims and non-Bumiputera of being the “roots of corruption” in the country on his Facebook page.

This led to dozens of police reports being lodged against him, which has resulted in an ongoing investigation against him under Section 505(C) of the Penal Code for issuing statements likely to incite the community and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of network facilities or network services.

Lim previously questioned if Abdul Hadi had been barred from Saudi Arabia last year following the latter’s absence from the entourage during then-prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s visit to the kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Malay Mail

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With eye on GE15, GTA sends registration application to RoS

By Shahrin Aizat Noorshahrizam

06 Sep 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 — Malay nationalist political coalition Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) submitted its registration papers to the Registrar of Societies (RoS) today, as it mulls fielding candidates for the next general election (GE15).

According to news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT), the group expects its application to be approved within the next 30 days without any interference from the government.

Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) secretary-general Datuk Marzuki Yahya reportedly said that the party’s chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be GTA chairman, while four other party presidents will serve as deputy chairmen.

GTA comprises Pejuang, Parti Pikatan India Muslim Nasional (Iman), Parti Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) and Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra).

The coalition is open to participation from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), individuals, academics and professional groups from the Malay community.

On August 4, Dr Mahathir announced the establishment of GTA, a coalition which he said was aimed at strengthening the Malays, especially in the economic field.

Previously, it was reported that the coalition hopes to contest 120 parliamentary seats, especially in Malay-majority areas, in the GE15.

Commenting on forming alliances, Marzuki said that the coalition was open to talks but none were happening at the present.

Meanwhile, Pejuang president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir reportedly defended the coalition’s stance to form a clean government to tackle the issues caused by corrupt Malay politicians, while also upholding non-Malay rights.

“If you consider fighting for our race, for Malays, as unprincipled, I don’t know what to say.

Source: Malay Mail

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Japan Embassy in UAE hosts orientation session for 20 Emirati students

September 06, 2022

DUBAI: The Japanese Embassy in the UAE hosted on Thursday an orientation session titled “Youth Ambassador Program (YAP)- Japan” for 20 young Emirati students, who also met with Japan Ambassador to the UAE ISOMATA Akio.

YAP is a UAE educational program that encourages Emirati students to study abroad and expand their knowledge of the world’s culture.

The year-long program, designed by the by Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE), helps students prepare themselves to study in Japan. YAP encourages a short trip to Japan, a Japanese language course, a cultural experience and a study consultation.

This year’s batch of Emirati students is the first.

Source: Arab News

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Arab World


Qatar to open three new five-star hotels ahead of FIFA World Cup

06 September, 2022

Qatar is gearing up to open three new five-star hotels ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the country prepares to host more than a million international football fans for the world’s greatest football tournament.

With less than 100 days to go before fans descend on the region for the month-long event, which will kick off November 20, new hotels are opening their doors in the Gulf state – the host nation for the first-ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East - in September and October.

They include the Wyndham Grand Doha West Bay Beach – a 278 -room resort near Doha Corniche – and the St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island on the Pearl-Qatar – a resort spanning a whole island, which will open on October 1.

A third - the Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha - is also slated to open in October near Hamad International Airport.

About 1.2 million fans, roughly half the population of Qatar, are expected to descend upon the country state during the event but providing sufficient rooms for visiting fans, teams and tournament staff has been a key challenge for Qatar and organizers have tried everything from cruise ships and desert camps to help ease the accommodation squeeze.

Berthold Trenkel, chief operating officer of Qatar Tourism, said the new hotels are in line with the country’s plans to expand its hospitality industry to fulfil the country’s ambitious goal of attracting more than six million international visitors a year by 2030.

“We are pleased to witness the continuous addition of world-class hotels to Qatar’s thriving hospitality landscape,” he said. “The exemplary service provided by our hotels plays a key role in the overall visitor experience, which in turn helps boost the tourism sector and diversify Qatar’s economy.”

“With new hospitality, cultural and retail offerings, Qatar continues to attract growing numbers of visitors each month, as demonstrated by our current summer season which sees peak figures compared to the past five years.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi foreign ministry condemns ISIS attack on Russian embassy in Kabul

06 September, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tuesday condemned an attack on the Russian embassy in Kabul that was claimed by ISIS.

Monday’s attack on the Russian embassy killed two embassy staff and four others.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms the Kingdom’s total rejection of all terrorist acts targeting innocent people and diplomatic missions everywhere," the ministry said in a statement on Twitter. It stressed “the Kingdom’s support for all intensive international efforts aimed at eliminating terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations, tackling and drying up its sources of financing.”

The statement went on to express the ministry’s condolences for the families of the victims and to the Russian government.

ISIS claimed the attack and said that one of its fighters detonated his suicide vest in a gathering, the group said in a statement via its Telegram channels.

At least 11 others were also injured in the attack, which took place at around 10.50 a.m. Kabul time.

Russia is one of the few countries that still maintains an embassy in the Afghan capital after the Taliban took over the country more than a year ago.

Although Moscow does not officially recognize the Taliban government, they have been in talks to supply gasoline.

The attack was the latest in a string of incidents in the country, which is under regular threat from the local branch of ISIS.

On Friday, at least 18 people, including a pro-Taliban cleric, were killed in the city of Herat in an explosion near a mosque during prayers.

The Taliban say they have improved security in the country despite the recent spate of deadly explosions.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iraq powers agree to work toward snap elections following unrest

September 05, 2022

JEDDAH: Iraq on Monday moved closer to a snap parliamentary election after crisis talks in Baghdad.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi chaired a meeting with President Barham Salih, UN representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and representatives from the Iran-backed Coordination Framework political bloc.

They “agreed to form a technical committee comprising the various political forces ... to bridge differences with the aim of reaching early elections,” Al-Kadhimi’s office said after the talks.

Representatives of the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr failed to attend the meeting, but the dissolution of parliament and an immediate election are key demands of Al-Sadr and his bloc.

Al-Sadr and his Iran-backed political rivals have been at odds since parliamentary elections in October last year. Al-Sadr won the largest share of seats but failed to form a majority government. Since then Iraq has been mired in political deadlock without a new government, president or prime minister.

Al-Sadr’s rivals agree in principle to holding early polls but disagree on the mechanism. The cleric is demanding that the judiciary dissolve the legislature but the Coordination Framework insist parliament should convene to do this. The rival camps are also at odds over the electoral law that would govern the polls, which the Coordination Framework wants amended.

Monday’s talks came a week after Al-Sadr’s supporters stormed government headquarters in the capital’s fortified Green Zone and clashed with fighters from the Iran-backed Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militia. More than 30 Sadrists were killed and hundreds injured in nearly 24 hours of violence that ended when the cleric called on his supporters to pull out.

However, Al-Sadr supporters in the central city of Najaf on Monday pledged allegiance to the cleric and said the fight was far from over. “Blood was spilt, but there is plenty more where that came from,” said Al-Sadr loyalist Moussa Abbas, 21. “For every martyr we lose, 10 will come in his place. The same way they sacrificed themselves for us, we will stand up for them.”

Another Sadrist, Sadeq Jaber, said: “We obey the orders of our leader and commander — whatever he wants, we are ready. All of us, with our children, houses and families, we are all under his command. There will continue to be martyrs as long as this ruling class is in power.”

Source: Arab News

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Hate crimes against Syrian refugees in Turkey on rise: Experts

September 05, 2022

ANKARA: Syrian refugees, once welcomed with open arms to Turkey, are now living in fear amid a rise in hate crimes against them, experts have claimed.

Many believe they are being used as political leverage in the upcoming Turkish elections scheduled for next year.

Syrian teenager Fares Elali became one of the latest victims of the backlash when he was recently stabbed to death in the southern Turkish province of Hatay.

The 17-year-old, whose father died during the Syrian conflict in 2011, had managed to get a place to study medicine at a Turkish university and had ambitions of becoming a doctor. His body will be now moved to Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.

Elali had been working in a tomato pastry factory and was allegedly killed in a revenge attack following a disagreement with a female worker.

Turkey is home to around 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees, the world’s largest refugee population. Physical and verbal racial attacks against them have been steadily increasing in Turkey amid rising inflation and cost-of-living rates that have fueled hostile attitudes toward foreigners.

The country’s economic downturn has seen the official inflation rate hit 80.2 percent and the unofficial one more than 181 percent.

With Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections on the horizon, the issue of repatriating 1 million Syrians back to northern Syria has become a hot topic in domestic politics.

Some right-wing opposition figures have capitalized on the growing resentment by pledging to send Syrians back to their homeland.

There are no official figures relating to violent attacks on Syrian refugees in Turkey.

But in June, two young Syrians — Sultan Abdul Baset Jabneh and Sherif Khaled Al-Ahmad — were reportedly killed by angry Turkish mobs in separate incidents in Istanbul.

On May 30, Syrian woman Leila Muhammad, 70, was hit in the face by a man in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, and recently a 17-year-old Syrian student was verbally abused in the street by an angry Turkish crowd.

Metin Corabatir, president of the Research Center on Asylum and Migration (IGAM), an Ankara-based think tank, told Arab News that increased provocation was being orchestrated by certain elite circles in Turkey.

He said: “Umit Ozdag, leader of the far-right Victory Party who pledged to expel all refugees, is using Syrians as a political card to stoke tensions against foreigners as elections loom.

“Popular figures in the media are also fueling these tensions by disseminating misinformation about Syrians and by drawing a rosy but unreal picture about their living standards in Turkey,” he added.

Omar Kadkoy, a migration policy analyst at Ankara-based think-tank TEPAV, told Arab News that Turkish public opinion was becoming increasingly unfriendly toward foreigners.

He said: “In parallel, resentment is particular toward Syrians and this feeling is not new. Along with an ambiguous harmonization policy, the deeper the nosedive of the economy, the greater the resentment and anger Turks feel about Syrians.”

He pointed out that the death of Elali highlighted the dangers of what could happen when misunderstandings got out of control.

“The deterrent here is the rule of law where the penalty is proportionate to the crime. It is skewed justice to make announcements of deporting Syrians for sharing videos on social media, for example, and not informing the public about the punishment of Fares’ killer or killers,” Kadkoy added.

Although Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu reportedly passed on his condolences to Elali’s family there has been little public condemnation of the attack from political parties in Turkey.

Corabatir said all political groups should include in their election manifesto proposals on how they planned to deal with the Syrian refugee situation, adding that under international law Turkey could not unilaterally send Syrians back home.

“Political parties, ahead of the elections, should lay down their alternative integration proposals in their manifesto in order to convince voters and contribute to peace rather than triggering more tensions,” he said.

Recent reports have hinted at the prospect of a normalization of relations between Turkey and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, but Kadkoy noted that many Syrians did not wish to return to their country while Assad remained in power.

Source: Arab News

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US, Western sanctions on Tehran, Damascus ‘most heinous kind of terrorism’: Syria FM

06 September 2022

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has denounced as “immoral” the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States and its Western allies on both Syria and Iran, saying the sanctions represent the “most heinous kind of terrorism.”

Mekdad made the remarks in a meeting with Meysam Latifi, Iran’s Vice President and Head of the Administrative and Recruitment Affairs Organization, in Damascus on Monday.

The top Syrian diplomat said the unilateral sanctions form real obstacles to attempts aimed at achieving administrative reform and comprehensive development.

“These unilateral measures are immoral and are the most wicked kind of terrorism,” he said.

Over the past years, the US has been maintaining an illegal military presence on Syrian soil, collaborating with anti-Damascus militants, and stealing the country’s crude oil resources.

Washington has slapped rounds of crippling sanctions on Damascus as well. Parts of the restrictive measures have been imposed under the so-called Caesar Act, an American piece of legislation that purports to target the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad government, despite sharp criticisms that the bans affect civilians.

The US also restored its sanctions against Tehran after unilaterally leaving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), three years after its conclusion. The US, under former president Donald Trump, launched what it called a maximum pressure campaign against Iran at the time, targeting the Iranian nation with the “toughest ever” sanctions.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian foreign minister said Iran has managed to act wisely and courageously in dealing with the nuclear issue. He expressed his country’s determination to stand firmly by Tehran in this regard.

Mekdad said Iran and Syria enjoy deep relations in political, economic, and development fields, adding that Damascus would make more efforts to remove all obstacles in the way of enhanced coordination and cooperation with Tehran.

The Iranian vice president, for his part, said the two nations are keen to improve their deep-rooted relations in all fields.

Latifi also reiterated Iran’s unwavering support for Syria’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He noted that the two countries are interested in taking necessary steps to improve administrative cooperation and implement the agreements already signed between them.

Source: Press TV

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Saudi-led coalition impounds another Yemen-bound fuel ship in violation of UN ceasefire

05 September 2022

The Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC) says the Saudi-led coalition, in blatant violation of a UN-sponsored ceasefire agreement to end the tight siege and devastating military campaign against the country, has banned a Yemen-bound ship carrying tons of fuel from docking at Hudaydah port.

Essam al-Mutawakel, a spokesman for the YPC, said in a tweet on Monday that the Saudi-led coalition seized the ship named Princess Halima, which was carrying thousands of tons of diesel fuel, despite securing UN clearance.

Mutawakel added that the Riyadh-led military alliance forced the vessel to sail towards Jizan Port, which is Saudi Arabia's third largest, and impounded it there.

The latest incident brings to ten the number of fuel ships impounded by the coalition despite having undergone inspection, the senior Yemeni energy official noted.

Mutawakel stressed that the continued detention of Yemen-bound fuel ships will lead to substantial fines over lengthy delays in offloading the shipments, and will subsequently increase the suffering of the Yemeni nation.

The YPC spokesman held the Saudi-led coalition of aggression and the United Nations fully responsible for the adverse humanitarian and economic repercussions of the ongoing blockade.

The detention of the fuel ships and a blanket ban on their sailing towards the port of Hudaydah have further exacerbated living conditions in Yemen, Mutawakel pointed out.

Last month, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said the extended UN-sponsored truce, running from August 2 to October 2, included a commitment from the parties to intensify negotiations to reach an expanded truce agreement as soon as possible.

Under the terms of the truce, commercial flights have resumed from the Yemeni capital of Sana’a to Jordan and Egypt, while oil tankers have been able to dock in the lifeline port city of al-Hudaydah.

Moreover, in line with the agreement, the coalition agreed to end its attacks on Yemeni soil and end a simultaneous siege that it has been enforcing against Yemen.

Yemen has, however, reported many violations of the truce by the Saudi-led forces.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

Source: Press TV

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Iran Seizes Huge Haul of Crystal Meth from Afghanistan


IRICA’s legal and supervisory deputy Farideh Zobeidi said on Sunday that the 500-kilogram haul of crystal meth, which is also known as ice, was seized earlier in the day from a fuel tanker traveling through the Mahiroud crossing on the eastern border with Afghanistan.

Zobeidi stated the shipment was a sixth large haul of drug discovered by IRICA officers in the calendar year starting late March.

“These shipments were mostly ice and originated in Afghanistan,” she noted.

IRICA had announced the seizure of 1,118 kg of crystal meth in the middle of August, the biggest ever haul of the drug, again from a fuel tanker entering Iran via Mahiroud.

The other four large hauls of ice discovered this calendar year included shipments weighing 580 kg, 400 kg, 153 kg and 61 kg, Zobeidi continued.

For decades, Iran has been fighting a relentless battle against international drug networks, but the war has cost it the loss of many lives and finances. Iranian security forces confiscate tons of narcotics every year in ambush operations against drugs traffickers.

The war on drug trade originating from Afghanistan - the major supplier of the vast majority of the world’s opium and heroin even during the 20-year occupation of the county by US-led forces - has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past four decades.

In late June, the head of the Iranian anti-narcotics police said European countries owe Tehran a lot for blocking the transit of drugs destined for Europe, adding that the country confiscated over 1,200 tons of illicit narcotics last year.

Majid Karimi, however, slammed Europe for depriving the Islamic Republic of the latest technology to fight drug trafficking in line with sanctions spearheaded by the US, while they directly benefit from Iran’s anti-drugs measures.

“If the Islamic Republic of Iran stops the fight (against drugs) for only a month, the European countries will have to gather every gram of the huge hauls of drugs from their streets,” he warned.

Iran’s Interior Minister has also criticized the Western governments for their “poor performance” in the fight against narcotrafficking.

Ahmad Vahidi stated in late June the main culprits behind the promotion of drug use are some Western intelligence agencies and Western politicians.

He noted that the production of industrial drugs is a lucrative business for the Western countries.

He demanded that Western banks control the financial operations of narcotrrafickers, saying it’s questionable that financial institutions in the West turn a blind eye to the issue.

Vahidi underlined Iran is now going it alone in the fight against narcotics but instead of being thanked, it’s getting accused by its adversaries under various pretexts.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Top Aide: Iran Supports Extension of Ceasefire in Yemen


Khaji made the remarks in a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg.

During the meeting on Sunday, Khaji called for the rapid removal of obstacles to the transfer of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people, particularly the lifting of the country's economic blockade.

Grundberg, for his part, outlined the steps taken by the United Nations to advance peace talks in Yemen, stressing the need for continued political dialogue aimed at building more confidence between the parties.

Describing the extension of the ceasefire as the best option available for achieving peace goals, he invited the parties to be more flexible on this issue.

In a relevant development on Sunday, Head of Iran's Foreign Policy Strategic Council Kamal Kharrazi said that Iran is ready to fully support the UN mission to keep the ceasefire in Yemen.

Head of Iran's Foreign Policy Strategic Council, Kamal Kharrazi held a meeting with the visiting Grundberg on Sunday.

In the meeting, Kharrazi said that "Iran is ready to fully support the UN mission to preserve the ceasefire in Yemen. The final result of these efforts should be the start of Yemeni-Yemeni negotiations without foreign intervention, the establishment of a political system based on people's votes, and the reconstruction of Yemen."

The Iranian diplomat added that "An important factor that makes the UN mission successful in maintaining the ceasefire in Yemen is proving the neutrality of that organization and putting pressure on America and Europe to refrain from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because if arms sales to these countries are not stopped, the conflict will continue."

He described the people of Yemen as wise and resolved people who have in the past seven years, despite all the sanctions and pressures, succeeded in producing all kinds of weapons, including drones and missiles, in order to defend themselves.

He stressed that everyone is aware of the suffering of the Yemeni people, warning that if the war resume, more destruction, killing and poverty will follow.

Kharazi emphasized that UN neutrality in the mediating role to reach a solution for the Yemen crisis plays an important role.

He continued that the ruling Ansarullah movement in Yemen has a negative view of the UN mission since former UN chief Ban Ki-moon removed the name of Saudi Arabia from the list of killing Yemeni children regimes in exchange for receiving financial aid from that regime, adding that UN should do more to attract the cooperation of the Yemeni side.

He stressed that the ceasefire should not be violated by the Saudi-led side anymore and that the Yemeni National Salvation Government's conditions must be paid attention to keep the ceasefire in place.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Palestinian killed, 16 wounded in West Bank raid by Israeli army: Sources

06 September, 2022

A Palestinian was killed and 16 wounded Tuesday when Israeli troops entered Jenin in the occupied West Bank to carry out a home demolition, the Palestinian health ministry said.

“The outcome of the Israeli aggression on Jenin at dawn today: a 29-year-old martyr and 16 wounded with bullets and shrapnel were admitted to hospitals,” the ministry said.

Palestinian official news agency Wafa identified the dead man as Mohammed Musa Mohammed Sabaaneh, 29.

The Israeli army said it entered Jenin overnight “in order to demolish the residence” of the perpetrator of a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv in April.

Raad Hazem killed three Israelis in a shooting spree in Tel Aviv's busy Dizengoff Street nightlife district on April 7, before being shot dead after a massive manhunt.

His father Fathi Hazem and brother Hamam are both wanted by Israel.

The Tel Aviv shooting was part of a wave of attacks on Israeli targets in which 19 people -- mostly Israeli civilians inside Israel -- were killed, mostly by Palestinians. Three Israeli Arab attackers also died.

In response, Israel launched near nightly raids on West Bank towns and cities. On Monday, armed forces chief Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi said “around 1,500 wanted people were arrested and hundreds of attacks prevented” in the operations.

He added that the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas was “unable” to control certain areas of the West Bank.

Human rights activists say Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of suspected attackers amounts to collective punishment, as it can render non-combatants, including children, homeless.

But Israel says the practice is effective in deterring some Palestinians from carrying out attacks.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran says has not received US response on nuclear proposal

05 September, 2022

Iran has not received the United States’ official response to its last proposal on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said Monday.

“Iran is waiting to receive the response from other parties, notably that of the American government,” he said during his weekly news conference in Tehran.

His remarks come after the United States last Thursday said Tehran’s latest response on reviving the 2015 accord was “not constructive.”

“We can confirm that we have received Iran’s response through the EU,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said late Thursday in Washington.

“We are studying it and will respond through the EU, but unfortunately it is not constructive.”

Kanani said on Monday that Tehran had “never received a response... saying that its position was not constructive.”

He characterized Iran’s response as “constructive, clear and legal.”

“Iran is trying to cancel sanctions to economically benefit the Iranian nation and this is one of its top priorities,” Kanani said.

The European Union put forward on August 8 what it called a final text to restore the 2015 nuclear accord, which was abandoned by former US president Donald Trump in 2018.

Talks to revive the 2015 accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action have been ongoing in Vienna since April 2021.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Abu Akleh’s family reject Israeli findings into journalist’ death

AbdelRaouf Arnaout 



The family of veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh on Monday rejected Israeli findings into her killing and called for an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Israeli army said earlier Monday that the Palestinian journalist was likely killed by "wrong" gunfire from an Israeli soldier, citing a "high possibility" that the reporter was killed by "wrong gunfire" from soldiers shooting at Palestinian gunmen during clashes.

In a statement, Abu Akleh’s family accused the Israeli government and army “of attempting to obscure the truth and avoid responsibility” for the reporter’s death.

"We've known for over four months now that an Israeli soldier shot and killed Shireen as countless investigations conducted by CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Al-Haq, B'tselem, the United Nations, and others have all concluded,” it said. “And yet, as expected, Israel has refused to take responsibility for murdering Shireen.

"Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it's obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated, and disappointed,” the statement said.

“As Israel is unable to bring itself to accountability, we demand a comprehensive investigation by the ICC,” the family added.

Abu Akleh was killed on May 11, and the Palestinian Health Ministry said she was shot in the head while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Yemen minister calls on international community to condemn Houthi truce violations

September 06, 2022

DUBAI: Yemen’s Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Muammer Al-Eryani called on the international community, the UN and US envoys to Yemen to openly condemn the Houthi militia’s actions against efforts to maintain the truce and end the war in the country.

The “Iran-allied Houthi militias have continued to maneuver, refusing to implement its obligations under the UN-brokered truce’s article, including lifting the aggressive besiege it has imposed upon millions of civilians in Taiz governorate,” Al-Eryani said a statement carried by the Yemeni News Agency.

The minister added that “Houthi militias’ continuous rejection to open the passageways and ease the peoples movement between the governorates has proved that the militia is fully responsible for blocking the efforts to maintain the truce and bring peaceful solution to the crisis in Yemen.”

Al-Eryani particularly called on the international community to take a decisive stance toward the militia’s sabotage practices to get it fulfilling its obligations under the truce.

The first and foremost obligation shall be lifting a blow made on Taiz to put an end to the civilians’ suffering since seven years, he said.

Yemeni Parliament Speaker Sheikh Sultan Al-Barakani meanwhile discussed with EU Commission head Gabriel Muneera Vinales latest developments in the strife-ridden country.

Al-Barakani said the Houthi attack on Taiz was meant to block the sole road that links the city with Aden, and emphasized need to open roads and ports to Yemeni people.

He pointed out that Houthi militia was not serious in lifting its siege on Taiz.

Source: Arab News

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Israel has multiple-nationality Palestinians in cross hairs: PA minister

05 September 2022

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said Israel’s new “racist” restrictions on the entry of foreigners into the occupied territories are meant to target the Palestinians holding multiple nationalities.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in the occupied West Bank, Shtayyeh said the restrictions will in large part impact Americans and Europeans of Palestinian origin, activists, volunteers, employees of foreign companies as well as lecturers at Palestinian universities.

The prime minister said Washington, the great supporter of Israel, should compel the regime to retract the restrictions, which will be implemented next month.

The Palestinian minister also called on the United Nations and its member states to express opposition to Israel’s demolition of Palestinian-owned structures across the occupied land.

According to UN reports, Israel has razed 9,000 buildings since 2009. It has led to the displacement of 13,000 Palestinians.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said in a recent report that Israel had demolished 55 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and East al-Quds in a time span of over two weeks.

Source: Press TV

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North America


US calls for accountability after Israel admits soldier likely shot reporter

06 September, 2022

The United States urged accountability from Israel Monday after the army admitted one of its soldiers had likely shot Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh after having mistaken her for a militant.

“We welcome Israel's review of this tragic incident, and again underscore the importance of accountability in this case, such as policies and procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US simulates bombing mission over Middle East amid Iran tensions

05 September, 2022

The US said Monday that two long-distance warplanes flew across the Middle East as part of a simulated international bombing exercise amid tense haggling on restoring a nuclear deal with Iran.

Top US general Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich said the “Bomber Task Force” simulation on Sunday showed that the US and its allies can “rapidly inject overwhelming combat power into the region on demand.”

“Threats to the US and our partners will not go unanswered,” added Grynkewich, commander of the combined forces air component of US Central Command, an area that covers Northeast Africa, the Middle East and as far as Central and South Asia.

The general did not name potential adversaries but the US is locked in intense negotiations over reviving a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program.

The US said last week that Iran's response to the latest proposed deal was “not constructive”.

Iran's foreign ministry said Monday that it had not received any official US reaction to its demands.

European-brokered talks on restoring the 2015 accord -- abandoned by the US in 2018 -- have been ongoing in Vienna since April last year, but have repeatedly stalled.

The European Union has said that a text put to Iran last month was the final one.

The US air force has recently hit Iranian-backed militia in Syria while Grynkewich said last month that the US was “committed to regional stability whether that means deterring Iran, (or) countering violent extremist organisations.”

A Central Command statement said fighter jets from Britain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia escorted the two B-52H Stratofortresses from the US Global Strike Command on Sunday.

In the fourth exercise of its kind this year, the planes started at the Fairford air base in England and flew above the eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea “before departing the region”, the statement said.

US ground and naval units as well as 16 other nations, including Canada, provided logistical support, the US military said. The US army “simulated firepower from the ground”.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US flies nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over Middle East amid tensions with Iran

05 September 2022

The US military said it has flown two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Middle East, the latest such simulated bombing exercises in the region, even as diplomatic efforts are ongoing to restore a nuclear deal with Iran that Washington walked away from four years ago.

The long-distance bombers took off from Britain’s Royal Air Force base at Fairford, England, and flew over the eastern Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea on Sunday, accompanied by Kuwaiti and Saudi fighter jets before departing the region.

The “Bomber Task Force” simulation meant to send the message that the United States and its allies can “rapidly inject overwhelming combat power into the region on demand,” Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich said.

The top US commander for the Middle East, General Frank McKenzie, also said in a statement that sending “strategic bombers halfway across the world in a nonstop mission and to rapidly integrate them with multiple regional partners demonstrates our close working relationships and our shared commitment to regional security and stability.”

“We do not seek conflict,” McKenzie said, “but we must remain postured and committed to respond to any contingency or in opposition to any aggression.”

Iran has frequently warned that US military activities in the region are a source of tensions and insecurity, warning that the country’s Armed Forces will respond resolutely to any aggression.

Israeli warplanes also took part in the simulated bombing mission, though their presence was omitted from the US Air Force release, according to media reports.

The Israeli military said that several of its fighter jets joined the exercise in the Persian Gulf, describing cooperation with the US military as critical to “maintaining aerial security in Israel and the Middle East."

The US military has frequently dispatched B-52 bombers to the Middle East as tensions simmer between the United States and Iran. The last flyover drill of this kind took place in June.

Some US allies in the Middle East are anxious as Washington and Tehran, through European intermediaries, have been attempting to narrow their differences to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name of the 2015 nuclear deal.

A dwindling US military presence, characterized by troop cuts and planned departure of the Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group in the Persian Gulf, has further fueled their fears that the United States is abandoning the region.

Source: Press TV

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National Crime Agency Officer Unfairly Sacked After Offensive Muslim Remarks

September 5, 2022

A National Crime Agency (NCA) officer who made offensive remarks about Muslims was unfairly sacked, an employment tribunal has found.

Abbey Brooke made the comments at a training session led by Abrar Javid, a Muslim community leader in Rotherham.

The tribunal said the intelligence officer's conduct had contributed to her dismissal.

But it found the dismissal was unfair due to procedural failures during the NCA disciplinary process.

Ms Brooke was awarded over £6,500 in compensation.

Details of the employment tribunal heard in Leeds in December 2021 are now reportable for the first time after BBC News successfully argued that a number of reporting restrictions imposed by the court should be lifted.

The tribunal heard that in 2020 the NCA summarily sacked Ms Brooke for making the remarks during a training session in Sheffield which was examining best practice for arresting suspects and searching homes where Muslim women were present.

The NCA found that Ms Brooke said words to the effect: "If I was in their country I wouldn't expect an English-speaking Christian officer to be on the search. In their country they wouldn't expect this so why should they expect it here?

She had also used the phrase: "They can always go home".

The tribunal did not rule on whether she had made those particular remarks, which she denied, but did find she had made comments which others had found racially offensive.

The training session had been led by Mr Javid.

In evidence to the tribunal, Ms Brookes claimed she had believed Mr Javid was a suspect in Operation Stovewood - the NCA's investigation into the historical sexual abuse of more than 1,000 young female victims in Rotherham.

The NCA, however, confirmed to the tribunal that Mr Javid is not and has never been a Stovewood suspect.

Ms Brooke went on to claim the NCA had sacked her after she had raised concerns about Mr Javid. The tribunal held, however, that the reason for her dismissal was the conduct alleged against her.

The tribunal accepted that Ms Brooke's belief that Mr Javid had been a suspect was wrong.

Concerns raised

Two other former NCA officers, who appeared as witnesses for Ms Brooke, said they too had raised concerns with senior management about the appointment of Mr Javid to deliver training on the basis that an associate of his had been a suspect in Operation Stovewood.

In evidence, former NCA officer Derek Hatton stated that, in his opinion, allowing Mr Javid to conduct training sessions inside a police building might have allowed Mr Javid to gather information which could have been passed to individuals being investigated by Operation Stovewood.

A third former NCA officer, Peter Sayer, stated that Mr Javid had been present as officers from the crime agency arrested a suspect of Operation Stovewood.

When approached by the BBC News about the statements made at the tribunal, Mr Javid declined to comment.

In written evidence senior officers from the NCA said Mr Javid was the "community engagement lead" for Stovewood.

NCA Regional Head Robert Burgess told the tribunal he had been advised that Mr Javid "is not, nor has ever been, a suspect within Operation Stovewood and as such, has been someone that my predecessor, and then subsequently I, have spoken to in order to ensure ongoing community engagement".

In April 2022, Employment Judge Olivia-Faith Dobbie ruled that Ms Brooke had been unfairly dismissed by the NCA.

She stated the crime agency had acted reasonably in dismissing Ms Brooke in the "belief that the claimant (Ms Brooke) had made the comments alleged (or similar such comments)".

However, because the internal disciplinary process took a total of 16 months to complete and the NCA had lost vital evidence as part of the process, the dismissal of Ms Brooke was unfair.

'Wholly inappropriate'

A spokesman for the NCA said: "The NCA expects the highest standards of conduct and integrity from all its officers.

"This is especially true for those working on a sensitive investigation like Operation Stovewood, where maintaining the trust and confidence of the community is vital to our success.

"Where those high standards are not met we reserve the right to take action swiftly.

"In this case it was our view that the attitudes shown were wholly inappropriate for a law enforcement officer, and the tribunal agreed that our decision to dismiss the individual concerned was reasonable.

Source: BBC

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Türkiye urges Greece to stop denying recognition to elected Muslim clerics

Merve Gül Aydoğan Ağlarcı


Türkiye on Monday again urged Greece to respect the rights of the Turkish minority in its Western Thrace region and to stop denying recognition to elected Muslim clerics (muftis).

Talking to Twitter, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Türkiye expects Greece to respect the right of the Turkish minority to elect their religious leaders, "which is guaranteed by international agreements, especially the Lausanne Peace Treaty, and to end its pressures in this regard."

In a statement, the Western Thrace Turkish Minority Advisory Board, on behalf of the Turkish minority, stressed that it will stand by its rights to elect its religious leader and protect its elected muftis.

The statement also called on minorities to fill all mosques this Friday to show solidarity and to protect their identity, religion, muftis, and usurped rights.

Greece's Western Thrace region – in the country’s northeast, near the Turkish border – is home to a substantial, long-established Muslim Turkish minority numbering around 150,000.

The rights of the Turks of Western Thrace were guaranteed under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, but since then the situation has steadily deteriorated.

After a Greek junta came to power in 1967, the Turks of Western Thrace started to face harsher persecution and rights abuses by the Greek state, often in blatant violation of European court rulings.

The Turkish minority in Greece continues to face problems exercising its collective and civil rights and education rights, including Greek authorities banning the word “Turkish” in the names of associations, shuttering Turkish schools, and trying to block the Turkish community from electing its muftis.

In addition to violating longstanding treaties, these policies are also often in blatant violation of European Court of Human Rights rulings.

- Elected muftis in Greece

In Western Thrace, muftis have legal jurisdiction to decide on family and inheritance matters for the local Turkish Muslim community.

The issue of mufti elections has been an issue since 1991.

The election of muftis by Muslims in Greece was regulated in the 1913 Treaty of Athens with the Ottoman Empire and was later included in Greek law.

However, Greece annulled this law in 1991 and started appointing muftis itself.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Trial opens in French court over 2016 terror attacks in Nice

Busra Nur Cakmak 


A trial opened in a French court on Monday over a July 2016 attack in the Mediterranean city of Nice which left 86 people dead.

On July 14, 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plowed a 19-ton truck at a crowd gathered on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, leaving 86 people dead and more than 450 injured. The crowd was attending Bastille Day celebrations.

Three of the suspects are being tried for terrorism charges and criminal association and five for having provided weapons to the assailant, according to BFMTV news.

The attack was later claimed by the Daesh/ISIS terror group. But French investigators could not find any evidence linking the attacker, who had a history of domestic violence and minor offenses, to Daesh/ISIS.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also shared a message of support with the victims of the attack on Twitter.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Top Turkish diplomat calls Macron's remarks in Algeria 'unfortunate'

Merve Gül Aydoğan Ağlarcı  


French President Emmanuel Macron's recent remarks in Algeria were "unfortunate," as Türkiye does not see any country as a competitor in Africa or in other places, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday.

"Türkiye comes among the top countries that countries trust. Thus it is not right to see Türkiye as a competitor," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference in the capital Ankara with Catherine Colonna, his visiting French counterpart.

On a three-day visit last week to France’s former colony Algeria, Macron claimed that networks originating from Russia, China, and Türkiye are carrying out "anti-French propaganda" in Africa.

Noting that Türkiye sees the African continent as an equal partner, Cavusoglu said: "If France is finding it difficult to go back to some African countries, we can help France, because Türkiye is a trustworthy partner."

On topics of special concern to Türkiye, Cavusoglu said, "We believe that France will not give up on common sense," decrying the rise in xenophobia and racism in Europe and stressing that it is in both countries’ best interests to continue fighting Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, extremism, and xenophobia.

Cavusoglu also said his country expects necessary measures to be taken for the security of mosques in France as well as Turkish and Muslim community groups there. 

Deep bilateral ties

Saying that he hopes the Turkish community living in France adapts to French society as well as possible while maintaining their ties with Türkiye, Cavusoglu added that it is important for France to take steps to facilitate and encourage them.

Saying that Türkiye and France have deep political, economic, and cultural ties, Cavusoglu said they have agreed to continue cooperation against regional and global challenges.

"It is clear that we do not agree with France on everything,” he added. “We may not agree on everything, but that does not prevent us from having a dialogue and working together. We have also seen that we reduced our differences of opinion through dialogue."

"It is healthier to talk to each other than to talk about each other in different settings," he added.

For her part, Colonna congratulated her Turkish counterpart on Ankara's “important success” in unblocking Ukraine grain shipments this July.

Haling the Turkish-brokered Istanbul grain deal, she said a different energy deal under the UN could be reached amid the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war.

Colonna added: “Let's increase the number of topics we agree on and discuss them even if we have differences of opinion from time to time."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU foreign policy chief ‘less confident’ about closing Iran nuclear talks

Agnes Szucs  



EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday he is “less confident” about the success of a compromise for reviving the Iranian nuclear deal.

Borrell told reporters that the positive outcome of the EU-mediated negotiations between Iran and the US on reactivating the nuclear deal is “in danger” and that the parties won’t be able to close the deal quickly.

He explained that the positions “diverge” based on the reactions he recently received, which he called “very worrisome.”

“I am less confident today than 28 hours before about the conversions of the negotiation process and about the prospect of closing the deal," he stated.

After a five-month break, negotiations resumed in the Austrian capital Vienna on Aug. 5 to revive the Iran nuclear by finding a compromise between Washington and Tehran.

As coordinator of the deal, Borrell presented a proposal on lifting US sanctions and ensuring Iran’s compliance with nuclear requirements.

As he told reporters, it was “the most balanced texts I can produce, taking into account all points of view.”

His draft received “positive feedback from our partners” but the positions didn’t converge during indirect talks through the EU coordinator, he added.

The Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and the EU.

Under the agreement, Tehran committed to limit its nuclear activity to civilian purposes and in return, world powers agreed to drop their economic sanctions on Iran.

Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with the deal.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Irresponsible leaders causing rift between Christians, Muslims in Nigeria – Bishop Kukah

September 5, 2022

By Seun Opejobi

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah has blamed Nigeria’s problem on irresponsible leaders.

Bishop Kukah alleged that irresponsible leaders were using religion as a tool to divide Nigerians.

He pointed out that there was no rift between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

Featuring on TVC on Monday, the clergyman said irresponsible leaders use religion to oppress Nigerians.

“There is a problem between irresponsible leaders who don’t want to govern properly; irresponsible Christian religious leaders who have now seen religion as a tool of oppression instead of a tool for liberation.

“This has been the thrust of my argument because these are two areas of study. With all sense of modesty, I have spent a good part of my life studying theology and studying religion and society.”

Kukah accused the government of failing to establish a system that prioritises the need of Nigerians.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Kenyan president gives assurances of smooth transition of power after apex court ruling

Andrew Wasike  



In his first address to the nation since the Aug. 9 elections, outgoing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday said he was committed to upholding the law and executing a Supreme Court ruling validating the election of his deputy, William Ruto.

However, he did not issue any congratulatory message to Deputy President Ruto, who is now set to take over as the country’s new leader.

In a unanimous verdict, Kenya’s top court on Monday upheld Rutos’s electoral victory, dismissing nine petitions seeking to nullify the result.

“In keeping to the pledge that I made to uphold the rule of law when I took the oath of office, I commit to executing the orders of this court to the letter,” Kenyatta said.

He said he intends to oversee a smooth transition of power and that all the necessary orders to facilitate this process have been issued.

Kenyatta thanked Kenyans for holding a peaceful election.

“I want to wish well all who have won as they guide our country into the future and I thank you all for the opportunity to serve,” the Kenyan leader said, without any mention of the president-elect’s name.

President-elect Ruto welcomed the top court’s ruling upholding his victory.

“The court returned its verdict and I welcome it with tremendous humility. I thank the judiciary, specifically the Supreme Court for staying strong and remaining the shining beacon of constitutionalism and the rule of law even in the most daunting of circumstances,” he said.

“I extend a hand of brotherhood to all my competitors and all their supporters. We are not enemies, we are Kenyans,” Ruto said at the press conference at his residence in Karen, Nairobi.

He said that at the top of his agenda in his first 100 days in office will be to fight graft.

Ruto said that for months he has not spoken to his boss, President Kenyatta, who openly supported opposition leader Raila Odinga but added: “Shortly I will be making a call to him so that we can have a conversation on the process of transition.”

“We will respect our President Uhuru Kenyatta in his retirement. We will give him the dignity as the former head of state deserves. He will have his place in the history of Kenya.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Kenya’s top court upholds Ruto's victory in Aug. 9 presidential election

Andrew Wasike  



In a unanimous verdict, Kenya’s top court on Monday upheld William Ruto's win in the Aug. 9 presidential election, dismissing nine petitions seeking to nullify the result.

His rival, 77-year-old Raila Odinga, had alleged massive fraud in the last month's election, calling them "flawed" and a "major setback" to democracy in the East African country.

Leading a 7-member judge, Chief Justice Martha Koome said Ruto was properly elected president, who received 7.18 million votes, or 50.49% of the total, in the closely fought election. Odinga, meanwhile, got 48.85% or over 6.94 million votes.

“The court found that the illegalities and irregularities pointed out by the petitioners were not of such magnitude as to affect the final result of the presidential election,” Koome said. “We declare the election of 1st respondent [William Ruto] as president-elect to be valid under Article 140(3) of the Constitution."

The court said it is not convinced that the technology used by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the country’s electoral commission, did not meet legal standards as claimed by the petitioners.

There was no credible evidence that electoral forms were accessed and tempered with before being uploaded to the servers of the electoral commission, the top court said.

The chief justice said a full judgment would be issued in three weeks' time.

Five-time presidential candidate Odinga, who had filed legal challenges in 2013 and 2017 as well, said he will respect the court's decision.

"We have always stood for the rule of law and the Constitution. In this regard, we respect the opinion of the court although we vehemently disagree with their decision,” Odinga said in a statement.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN humanitarian chief: Somalia on brink of famine for second time in over a decade

05 September 2022

The United Nations warned Monday that Somalia was on the brink of famine for the second time in just over a decade, and that time was running out to save lives in the drought-stricken country.

"Famine is at the door and we are receiving a final warning," visiting UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told a press conference in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

"The unprecedented failure of four consecutive rainy seasons, decades of conflict, mass displacement, severe economic issues are pushing many people to... the brink of famine," he added.

Millions of people are at risk of starvation across the Horn of Africa, which is in the grip of the worst drought in four decades after four failed rainy seasons wiped out livestock and crops.

There are "concrete indications" that famine will strike Baidoa and Burhakaba in the Bay region of south-central Somalia between October and December, said Griffiths, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"I've been shocked to my core these past few days by the level of pain and suffering we see so many Somalis enduring," he said, adding, "We are in the last moment of the 11th hour to save lives."

Humanitarian agencies have been ringing alarm bells for months and say the situation across the Horn of Africa -- including Kenya and Ethiopia -- is likely to deteriorate with a likely fifth failed rainy season in the offing.

In Somalia alone, about 7.8 million people or half the population face crisis hunger levels, including about 213,000 in danger of famine, UN agencies say.

Around one million have fled their homes on a desperate quest for food and water.

'World must act now'

Griffiths said the situation was worse than during Somalia's last famine in 2011 when 260,000 people died, more than half of them children under the age of six.

He described scenes of heart-rending suffering during a visit to Baidoa, describing it as the epicenter of the crisis where he saw "children so malnourished they could barely speak" or cry.

Around 1.5 million children across the largely pastoral country were at risk of acute malnutrition by October if nothing changed, he warned.

The conflict-wracked nation is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change but is particularly ill-equipped to cope with the crisis.

A long-running political crisis has diverted attention away from the drought, but new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud used his inauguration speech in June to appeal for international help to stave off disaster.

In recent years, increasingly extreme droughts and floods have added to the devastation caused by a locust invasion and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN's World Food Program (WFP) last month said the number of people facing hunger across the Horn had increased to 22 million.

"Our worst fears for Somalia are now a reality: Famine is imminent if funds do not arrive immediately," WFP executive director David Beasley said on Twitter Monday.

"The world MUST act now - this is a global call to action."

A joint report by UN and other humanitarian agencies published Monday said famine conditions in Somalia, facing its fifth straight failed rainy season in the final months of this year, "are likely to last until at least March 2023."

The UN said at the end of August it had received 67 percent of its $1.5 billion aid target for Somalia.

Funds were initially slow in coming, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine among other crises drawing attention from the disaster in the Horn.

The war has also sent global food and fuel prices soaring, making aid delivery more expensive.

In June, British charity Save the Children had issued an alert that the international community was "sleepwalking towards another catastrophic famine" in Somalia.

Last month, OCHA said about 2.3 million children were at risk of "violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect, and death from severe acute malnutrition" across the country.

Source: Press TV

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