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Islamic World News ( 8 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistani Cleric Beaten To Death over ‘Blasphemous’ Remarks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

New Age Islam News Bureau

08 May 2023

 

Pakistan

Insinuation That Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Was Threatening Violence 'Highly Irresponsible': Pakistan

Attackers kill Pakistani Sikh in drive-by shooting in Lahore

Steps to address Islamophobia, polarization in society discussed

8-member SC bench takes up pleas challenging SC bill today

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Mideast

Zionist Enemy Summons Imam and Speaker of Al-Aqsa Mosque for Investigation

Crown Prince Of Saudi Arabia Has Ability to Receive Permission To Refurbish Baqi Cemetery: Iranian Islamic Scholar

Hamas warns Israel ahead of nationalist Flag March through Old City’s Muslim Quarter

Erdoğan’s Islamist ally Erbakan vows to close LGBTI+ associations on state TV

Kurds cautiously back Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Turkish election

Arab League move fails to allay Lebanese concerns over Syrian refugee ‘burden’

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Arab World

Arab League Readmits Syria after 11 Years As Relations with Assad Normalise

Saudi Arabia, US urge warring Sudan rivals to agree short-term ceasefire

Saudi Arabia is 7th most optimistic nation globally: Report

Residents Find New-born Baby Dumped In front Of a Mosque in Al-Raqqa

Saudi Arabia to provide $100 million of humanitarian aid for Sudan

Saudi crown prince, US, UAE, India national security advisers discuss relations

Saudi Arabia to launch largest radio telescope in Middle East

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North America

US Criticizes UN’s Decision Operating in Afghanistan without Female Staff

Mystery Surrounds ‘Blighted Property’ Notice At Pakistan Embassy

Sen. Juan Mendez, Arizona Muslim Alliance propose Arizona Office for New Americans

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South Asia

Turkish Companies Ready to Invest In Wind Power Plants in Afghanistan

IEA’s Plan to Provide Financial Support for Media Raises Concerns: NAI

Pakistani, Afghan FMs Meet, Discuss Peace, Security and Economic Issues

Afghan Refugees in Iran Face Problems to ‘Buy Bread’: Shargh Daily

IMF team flags risks to Bangladesh as reserves fall further

Advanced Tickets Almost Sold Out, ‘Pathaan’ Ready To Take Over Bangladesh Box Office

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Europe

Dilapidated Pub Transformed Into a Bright and Modern Mosque at West Yorkshire, England

Russia 'Targeting Mosques and Immigration Centres' To Hit Army Recruitment Target, Says UK

Russia launches mass strikes on Ukraine ahead of May 9 Victory Day holiday

UK to mark coronation with street parties and a concert

UK police investigate vehicles registered under Nawaz’s name ‘for crime’

Kissinger makes Ukraine peace prediction

EU defenceless against China – Berlusconi

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Australia

Australia Now Has Its Own Grand Mosque: A Brief History Of How These Buildings Fold Into The Urban Landscape

‘They’re trying to bully us out’: The mosque standing firm against developers

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Africa

Arab League Begins Negotiations between Sudan's Warring Sides

Organization of Islamic Cooperation appeals for urgent aid to conflict-torn Sudan

Sudan refugees cross into Ethiopia as battles rage on

Battles raged in Khartoum ahead of talks in S.Arabia

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Southeast Asia

YouTubers Provide Halal Meals for Muslim Students In The US

HisyamTeh part of defence team in Siti Bainun's appeal

Indonesia president condemns attack on Asean officials delivering aid in Myanmar

Info chief says Bersatu won’t table no-confidence vote in Parliament, tells Anwar to focus on economy instead of gossip

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India

Manipur Violence Is a Setback for Modi’s Christian Outreach Moves in Kerala

Modi’s backing of Inflammatory, Fictional ‘Kerala Story’ Highlights Pressing Need for Opposition Unity

Indian civilian prisoner dies in Pakistan before repatriation

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/pakistani-cleric-blasphemous-kp/d/129730

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 Pakistani Cleric Beaten To Death over ‘Blasphemous’ Remarks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

 

May 8, 2023

ISMALABAD: Pakistani man has been publicly beaten to death by an angry mob for allegedly making “blasphemous” remarks during an opposition party rally in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Nigar Alam, a local cleric, was asked to give a speech at a rally organised by former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Saturday night at Sawaldher village in Mardan, a district where a university student – Mashal Khan – was killed over similar allegations by fellow students in April 2017.

Alam was killed by hundreds of people attending the rally of PTI's local chapter after he allegedly “passed blasphemous remarks” as the gathering was about to conclude.

“When we saw that the crowd was about to attack Alam, we escorted him to a shop in a nearby market. But people broke into the shop and started attacking him with punches, kicks and clubs,” said Rokhanzeb Khan, Mardan’s senior superintendent of police.

Alam died on the spot and his body was later taken to hospital for legal formalities. “We have filed a first information report where the police itself is the complainant, but due to the sensitivity of the matter, the FIR is sealed,” the officer added.

Video of the lynching has been shared widely on social media, with police seen vainly trying to stop a frenzied mob from beating the man.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan and even unproven allegations can stir mob violence.

This February, an angry mob entered a police station in Lahore, snatched a blasphemy-accused from his cell and brutally killed him.

In December 2021, a Sri Lankan national, PriyanthaDiyawadanage, who was working as a factory manager in Pakistan, was beaten to death by an angry crowd over blasphemy allegations before setting his body ablaze.

International and Pakistani rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, but other political forces in the country have strongly resisted any such move.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistani-cleric-beaten-to-death-over-blasphemous-remarks/articleshow/100057884.cms

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"Hamas" Condemns Extremist Groups' Biblical Lessons at Al-Aqsa Mosque

 

Women's Prayer Hall, at the Wailing Wall which supports the esplanade on which the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque have been built [Reza/Getty Images]

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[07/May/2023]

GAZA May 07. 2023 (Saba) - The Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas" strongly condemned on Sunday the organization of extremist Zionist groups to teach the Bible near the Bab al-Rahma chapel in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Al-Quds.

The website (Palestine Online) quoted the movement in a press statement as saying: "The holding of biblical lessons comes in the context of the enemy's plans to impose temporal and spatial division as a prelude to changing the features and identity of Al-Aqsa in favor of the false Zionist narrative and the alleged temple."

The movement held the Zionist enemy fully responsible for continuing those Judaization policies and aggressive measures against the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, noting that our people and all the forces of resistance will not allow its desecration or division, and it will remain purely Islamic, whatever the cost.

The movement called on the Islamic nation to assume its historical responsibilities by taking urgent action to protect Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa from the danger of Judaization and desecration, which will lead to serious repercussions.

Source: saba.ye

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https://www.saba.ye/en/news3238605.htm

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Museums Commission To Organize Conference on Islamic Numismatics In Riyadh

 

The Museums Commission is preparing to organize the “International Conference on Islamic Numismatics”, from May 18 to 20, at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh.

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May 07, 2023

RIYADH — The Museums Commission is preparing to organize the “International Conference on Islamic Numismatics”, from May 18 to 20, at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh.

The conference, which will bring together a group of prominent experts in the field, is expected to highlight the significance of coins in writing history, and the knowledge and cultural richness linked to them.

The conference will include scheduled discussions and workshops led by local and international experts tackling topics that will contribute to highlighting institutions and collector groups and the value of the heritage content of Islamic coins.

It will also include an enrichment journey that will take the visitors to the era of coin minting in the early days of Islam, to reflect the role played by Islamic coins throughout the ages as original and tangible evidence of civilization.

The visitors will also meet experts in numismatics and historians of Islamic museums to discuss rare pieces, historical heritage, how coins contributed to shaping various civilizations, and methods of preserving these treasures.

By organizing this conference, the Museums Commission aims to introduce the cultural and historical heritage of the Kingdom, including Islamic coins and the aesthetics they carry, as represented by Islamic decorations and inscriptions, and to nurture an environment for creativity.

Moreover, it seeks to contribute to highlighting the Saudi content — information and data — in the museum sector through research, enrich institutions and collector groups, underline the value of heritage, and establish partnerships that may seize the opportunities offered by museums in this regard. — SPA

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632232/SAUDI-ARABIA/Museums-Commission-to-organize-conference-on-Islamic-Numismatics-in-Riyadh

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US Muslim Faith Leaders Voice Concerns over Mosque Attacks in Minneapolis, in the Midwest

 

FILE - Yusuf Abdulle, standing, director of the Islamic Association of North America, prays with fellow Muslims at the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 12, 2022.

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May 07, 2023

Mohamed Olad Hassan

WASHINGTON —

Recent attacks on mosques in Minneapolis, in the Midwest U.S. state of Minnesota, have increased concerns by Somali American imams, mosque administrators and community activists about the safety of their congregations.

Fires were set at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center on April 23 and Masjid Al-Rahma Mosque on April 24, Minneapolis police said. The locations are close to each other.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota, was inside the Masjid Al-Rahma Mosque when someone set fire to the third floor.

“I was inside the mosque, meeting with the imam about the safety of his congregation, when I heard someone shouting with, ‘There is a fire. There is a fire,’” Hussein told VOA recently. “Thank Allah no one was hurt.”

He added that more than 40 children who were in the mosque’s day care were safely evacuated.

Hussein has been involved in the American-Muslim community’s fight against hate attacks, but he said this was the first time he witnessed one.

“I could not believe my eyes, I was shocked and bewildered that I was witnessing one of the things I have been documenting for many years,” Hussein said. “We have been receiving threatening calls and messages, but this was the first time I practically witnessed it.”

On April 29, authorities arrested Jackie Rahm Little on a state charge of second-degree arson regarding the April 24 fire at the Masjid Al-Rahma mosque.

On Thursday, Little was indicted on federal charges of arson and damage to religious property while investigators look into a series of crimes targeting Muslims and Somali Americans, The Associated Press reported.

Authorities are also investigating LIttle as a suspect in a fire that damaged the Masjid Omar Islamic Center on April 23, as well as in the January vandalism of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's Minneapolis office, among other crimes, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said at a news conference last week.

Imam Yusuf Abdulle, executive director of the Islamic Association of North America (IANA), which administers more than 40 mosques across America, said he fears a continuation of such arson attacks could endanger the lives of Muslim congregations in America.

“Apart from the August 5, 2017, bombing of the Dar al-Farooq (DAF) Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Muslims and their faith centers have been witnessing verbal attacks and anti-Muslim political rhetoric, minor acts of vandalism and spray-painted anti-Muslim graffiti. But these latest arson attacks seem to be new messages that the danger is growing,” Abdulle told VOA.

The latest attacks also come weeks after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey officially signed an ordinance that allows mosques citywide to broadcast the call to prayer five times a day, following a request from the community and imams.

In an interview with VOA, former IANA director Sh. Hassan Dhooye said, he thinks those who were behind the mosque attacks were displeased by the legislation.

“You know, for the first time a city in America has allowed its Muslim community to broadcast call prayers. For us, it was historic, and for those against us, it was an anger. I think the latest attacks could be a response to that,” Dhooye said.

Yusuf Mohamed Omar, the director of the Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH, which represents over 20 mosques in America, shares the fear with the imams.

“It grew fear in the hearts of the community because they feel their faith centers are under target,” Omar told VOA. “I think the number of those spreading hate and fear are few, but they carry out more wicked actions in different places and different times to send a signal that they are more and unstoppable.”

Immediately after the mosque attacks, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz condemned the acts and voiced support for the Muslim community on Twitter.

“Here in Minnesota, everyone must be able to practice their faith without fear,” he wrote. “To members of our Muslim community – my heart is with you today. We will not tolerate acts of violence toward our friends and neighbours.”

Mohamud Muse Hassan, a Somali local activist, said the community is encouraged by the cooperation and the level of response of the police and city authorities.

Speaking of Mayor Frey, Minneapolis police Chief Brian O’Hara and Governor Walz, Hassan told VOA, “All of them responded immediate and shared their console and concern with the Muslim community. They had meetings with the faith leaders. Such responses encourage us.”

This story originated from this week’s VOA Somalia’s Torch Program. Some information for this article came from The Associated Press.

Source: voanews.com

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https://www.voanews.com/a/us-muslim-faith-leaders-voice-concerns-over-mosque-attacks/7082400.html

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UN Urges Afghanistan’s Taliban to End Floggings, Public Executions and Stoning

 

A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past in Kabul.(Ebrahim Noroozi / Associated Press)

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ISLAMABAD (AP) —

A U.N. report on Monday strongly criticized the Taliban for carrying out public executions, lashings and stonings since seizing power in Afghanistan, and called on the country’s rulers to halt such practices.

In the past six months alone, 274 men, 58 women and two boys were publicly flogged in Afghanistan, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA.

“Corporal punishment is a violation of the Convention against Torture and must cease,” said Fiona Frazer, the agency’s human rights chief. She also called for an immediate moratorium on executions.

The Taliban foreign ministry said in response that Afghanistan’s laws are determined in accordance with Islamic rules and guidelines, and that an overwhelming majority of Afghans follow those rules.

“In the event of a conflict between international human rights law and Islamic law, the government is obliged to follow the Islamic law,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Taliban began carrying out such punishments shortly after coming to power almost two years ago, despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during their previous stint in power in the 1990s.

At the same time, they have gradually tightened restrictions on women, barring them from public spaces, such as parks and gyms, in line with their interpretation of Islamic law. The restrictions have triggered an international uproar, increasing the country’s isolation at a time when its economy has collapsed — and worsening a humanitarian crisis.

Monday’s report on corporal punishment documents Taliban practices both before and after their return to power in August 2021, when they seized the capital of Kabul as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew after two decades of war.

The first public flogging following the Taliban takeover was reported in October 2021 in the northern Kapisa province, the report said. In that case, a woman and man convicted of adultery were publicly lashed 100 times each in the presence of religious scholars and local Taliban authorities, it said.

In December 2022, Taliban authorities executed an Afghan convicted of murder, the first public execution since they took power the report said.

The execution, carried out with an assault rifle by the victim’s father, took place in the western Farah province before hundreds of spectators and top Taliban officials.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the top government spokesman, said the decision to carry out the punishment was “made very carefully,” following approval by three of the country’s highest courts and the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.

There has been a significant increase in the number and regularity of judicial corporal punishment since November when Mujahid repeated comments by the supreme leader about judges and their use of Islamic law in a tweet, the report said.

Since that tweet, UNAMA documented at least 43 instances of public lashings involving 274 men, 58 women and two boys. A majority of punishments were related to convictions of adultery and “running away from home,” the report said. Other purported offenses included theft, homosexuality, consuming alcohol, fraud and drug trafficking.

In a video message, Abdul Malik Haqqani, the Taliban’s appointed deputy chief justice, said last week that the Taliban’s Supreme Court has issued 175 so-called retribution verdicts since taking power, including 79 floggings and 37 stonings.

Such verdicts establish the right of a purported victim, or relative of a victim of a crime to punish or forgive the perpetrator. Haqqani said the Taliban leadership is committed to carrying out such sentences.

After their initial overthrow in the U.S. invasion of 2001, the Taliban continued to carry out corporal punishment and executions in areas under their control while waging an insurgency against the U.S.-backed former Afghan government, the report said.

UNAMA documented at least 182 instances when the Taliban carried out their own sentences during the height of their insurgency between 2010 and August 2021, resulting in 213 deaths and 64 injuries.

Many Muslim-majority countries draw on Islamic law, but the Taliban interpretation is an outlier.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called a Taliban ban on women working an unacceptable violation of Afghan human rights.

On April 5, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers informed the United Nations that Afghan women employed with the U.N. mission could no longer report for work. Aid agencies have warned that the ban on women working will impact their ability to deliver urgent humanitarian help in Afghanistan.

The Taliban previously banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade and women from most public life and work. In December, they banned Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental groups — a measure that at the time did not extend to U.N. offices.

Under the first Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, public corporal punishment and executions were carried out by officials against individuals convicted of crimes, often in large venues such as sports stadiums and at urban intersections.

Source: apnews.com

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https://apnews.com/article/un-report-taliban-punishment-death-penalty-bf9fca3e2a177f9fb9fec8d52e57b91d

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Pakistan

 

Insinuation That Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Was Threatening Violence 'Highly Irresponsible': Pakistan

08-05-23

New Delhi: The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement clarifying recent remarks made by minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while in India for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), saying, “Any insinuation, associating Foreign Minister’s remarks with a threat of violence, is not only mischievous but highly irresponsible.”

The statement was referring to reporting on what Bhutto Zardari said at a press conference for Pakistani mediapersons who came to Goa. To a question on India hosting a G20 meeting in Srinagar, he said that it showed India’s “pettiness” and a “show of arrogance to the world that to hell with international law, UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements, India will hold its events in Kashmir”. “Obviously we condemn it and at the time we will give such a response that it will be remembered,” he said.

In its statement on Sunday (May 7), the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “It [the insinuation that Bhutto Zardari was threatening violence] is an attempt to shift focus from the Foreign Minister’s key message of conflict resolution through dialogue and in accordance with international law and UN security council resolutions. The journalistic norms must be respected while reporting on sensitive inter-state matters.”

As The Wire has reported, India and Pakistan both accused each other of supporting terrorism and taking hypocritical postures on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.

“As a foreign minister of an SCO member state, Mr Bhutto Zardari was treated accordingly. As a promoter, justifier and, I am sorry to say, spokesperson of a terrorism industry which is the mainstay of Pakistan, his positions were called out, including at the SCO meetings itself,” Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said.

Bhutto Zardari’s visit to India was a rare trip across the border since high-level contact between the two South Asian countries had come down drastically. But, it was made clear even before he arrived on Indian soil that there would be no bilateral encounter and that the journey was only for the SCO meeting.

The highly charged barbs also mean that it is highly unlikely that Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit India for the leaders’ summit in July.

Source: thewire.in

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https://thewire.in/south-asia/insinuation-that-bilawal-bhutto-zardari-was-threatening-violence-highly-irresponsible-pakistan

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Attackers kill Pakistani Sikh in drive-by shooting in Lahore

May 6, 2023

LAHORE: A Pakistani Sikh was killed by unknown assailants in a drive-by shooting in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday, police said.

The man, identified as Sardar Singh, was shot by gunmen riding on a motorcycle in Lahore’s residential neighborhood of Nawab Town. He was on a morning walk accompanied by his bodyguard when the attack happened, police said.

Singh received a fatal gunshot to the head. Officer Asad Abbas said the bodyguard was wounded in the attack.

The police declined to explain why Singh had a bodyguard or provide further details. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Religious minorities often face violence in Muslim-majority Pakistan, even though the country’s Constitution guarantees them equal rights and the freedom to practice their faith.

Last month, a Pakistani Sikh businessman and a Christian cleaner were shot and killed by gunmen in separate incidents in the northwestern city of Peshawar. A day earlier, a prominent Hindu doctor and eye surgeon was gunned down in the port city of Karachi.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/attackers-kill-pakistani-sikh-in-drive-by-shooting-in-lahore/articleshow/100039603.cms

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Steps to address Islamophobia, polarization in society discussed

May 8, 2023

The very first International Conference on Media and Research at BahauddinZakarya University (BZU) got immense appreciation not only at national level but globally also as many themes confronting the Muslim world and Pakistani society with regard to Media came under fruitful discussion.

The Conference was organized under auspices of Institute of Communication and Media Studies and academia, social scientists, researchers from known universities of Pakistan, Sharjah, England, Turkey and many others attended the conference physically and through online sessions.

In the opening ceremony, Dr Zafar Iqbal, a known scholar and Dean Islamic International University Islamabad highlighted the concept of Islamophobia and how it could be addressed for long lasting and durable peace across the globe. He stated that Islamophobia was a sense of an extreme fear and dislike of Islam as a religion, an ideology, politically, culturally and economically. Dr Zafar suggested that the Muslims residing in West should also join politics, law and other social activities as it would help reducing mistrust because of frequent interactions. Similarly, a culture of dialogue is also essential for bring the people together.

The West should not feel any sort of political, security, cultural or racist threat from Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace, he maintained. About issues pertaining to Media and Society in Pakistan, he stated that news organizations had become mouthpiece of different political parties. He held Media organizations for polarization.

He suggested that masses should have shares in Media organizations so that they could influence of editorial policy. The objective reporting can help to address issue of rising polarization among people owing to political idealologies. Professor Dr Stuart Allan from Cardiff University presented his work on importance of pictorial display and reporting during war. He suggested scholars to focus research in various dimensions of social media and artificial intelligence in Media. He also stated that Science Journalism was gaining special importance. He quoted different references from COVID-19’s reporting.

The journalists should follow certain guidelines during pandemic situation and consult various experts before writing their news stories. Dr Cynthia Carter, another keynote speaker from Cardiff University England, in her work “ Inclusive Journalism, Gender and Global Media Monitoring Project 2020” suggested that problems of marginalized section should be highlighted amicably.

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/steps-to-address-islamophobia-polarization-in-society-discussed/

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8-member SC bench takes up pleas challenging SC bill today

By Maryam Nawaz

May 08, 2023

The Supreme Court will resume hearing on a set of pleas filed against a bill curtailing the powers of the top judge to initiate suo motu proceedings or form benches today (Monday) at 12:30pm.

An eight-judge bench will take up the pleas that heard them earlier. It comprises Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice SayyadMazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

In the last hearing, CJP Bandial had turned down the attorney general's plea to withdraw the stay order restricting the implementation of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, which the top court had passed on April 13.

“Our stay order of the last hearing is in place. Law related to the Supreme Court rules are very clear,” the chief justice had said.

Meanwhile, a request for the constitution of a full court and removal of some judges from the bench, for hearing the case had also been made during the last hearing.

While adjourning the hearing till today, CJP Bandial directed all parties in the case to submit written arguments in the case, and also sought the record of the debate held in the Parliament and standing committee on judicial reforms.

Chronology of events

On March 28, parliament passed the bill, aimed at curtailing the unbridled powers of the chief justice. The bill restricts the chief justice’s powers to take suo motu notices as well as to constitute benches on his own.

Instead, it stipulates that these powers will be vested in a three-member committee, comprising the chief justice and two-senior most judges.

However, President Arif Alvi returned the bill back to parliament on April 8, without giving his assent. Subsequently, the lawmakers passed the bill again on April 10 in a joint session and resent it to the president.

As per the country’s law, the president has 10 days to give his assent to a bill passed by a joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly. However, even if the president does not give his assent, the bill automatically becomes a law and takes effect after that period, which in this case was April 20.

To prevent the bill from taking effect, three petitions were filed in the top court which will be heard for the third time today.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1068245-8-member-larger-sc-bench-to-take-up-act-curtailing-cjps-powers-at-1230pm

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Mideast

 

Zionist Enemy SummonsImam and Speaker of Al-Aqsa Mosquefor Investigation

[07/May/2023]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM May 07. 2023 (Saba) - The Zionist enemy authorities on Sunday summoned the Imam and speaker of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem Sheikh IkrimaSabri for investigation tomorrow, Monday.

According to the Palestine Today agency, lawyer of al-Aqsa speaker Hamza Qattina said that the enemy intelligence handed Sheikh Sabri a summons for investigation in al-Mascobiyeh prison, tomorrow, Monday.

Lawyer Qattina explained that enemy intelligence summons Sheikh Sabri from time to time for interrogation and at other times prevents him from entering al-Aqsa or traveling abroad.

In the past weeks, the enemy's media launched a new incitement campaign against Sheikh Sabri and called for his arrest.

In response to the enemy's threats and its media and the incitement against it, Sheikh IkrimaSabri emphasized the continuation of defending the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and not giving in to the enemy's campaign of incitement.

It is noteworthy that activists launched, on social media, a campaign of solidarity with Sabri in light of the threats of the Zionist enemy and the continuous incitement against him.

Source: saba.ye

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https://www.saba.ye/en/news3238696.htm

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Crown Prince Of Saudi Arabia Has Ability To Receive Permission To Refurbish Baqi Cemetery: Iranian Islamic Scholar

May 7, 2023

TEHRAN- An Islamic scholar says there is a high possibility to get permission from the Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) to restore the Baqi Cemetery.

ShahabMoradi also wished that Iran can one day embellish the cemetery and morph it into a heaven for all who follow the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and twelve Imams.   

Speaking with Mehr News that part of it was published on Saturday, Moradi noted that the restoration of Islamic monuments including the Baqi Cemetery needs the attention of both people and government.

“On one hand, the government should put legal and diplomatic programs on the agenda, and on the other hand, people and NGOs need to come to solve the issue,” the cleric suggested.

The Islamic scholar went on to highlight that it is the duty of politicians to pursue the case because they have the ability and power to convince the Saudi officials to refurbish the holy site. 

“Since the ties between Tehran and Riyadh are improving, so, it can be the best opportunity to hold talks with the Saudis to accept the issuance of permission for the reconstruction,” he added.  

Moradi continued by saying that regarding the destruction of Baqi, it is regarded as an injustice and annoying issue for Muslims, especially Shias, and the matter is unfortunately viewed as a petty topic by the Islamic society.

A famous figure on TV and social media, ShahabMoradi was born in Tehran in the early 1950s.

He is one of the well-known clerics in the domain of media, having lots of fans and is considered as one of the famous and prominent Islamic experts in many television programs.

Source: Tehrantimes.Com

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Https://Www.Tehrantimes.Com/News/484455/MBS-Has-Ability-To-Receive-Permission-To-Refurbish-Baqi-Cemetery

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Hamas warns Israel ahead of nationalist Flag March through Old City’s Muslim Quarter

7 May 2023

Palestinian terror group Hamas warned on Sunday that it would not let Israel “Judaize” Jerusalem ahead of a controversial nationalist march through the Muslim Quarter of the capital’s Old City set for later this week.

Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said in a statement that Jerusalem “will remain the Palestinian capital” and that the Gaza-based group “will not allow the Zionist occupation to implement plans to Judaize the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem through division…or flag parades.”

“The flag parade in Jerusalem will not change the reality, we will maintain the ‘equation’ as imposed by the resistance,” he said, in reference to Palestinian groups that have in the past responded to events in Jerusalem and on the flashpoint Temple Mount site with rockets from Gaza.

The heavily guarded Jerusalem Day Flag March has become an increasingly combustible issue for Israel, drawing tens of thousands of national religious youth to mark the anniversary of Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.

The annual, provocative event drives fears of aggravated tensions with Palestinians. Two years ago, the march played a role in touching off a brief war with Gaza-based terrorists, and last year, it saw sporadic clashes and hundreds of participants filmed chanting “Death to Arabs” and other racist and Islamophobic slogans.

The Palestinian people, said al-Qanou, “will continue to protect the identity of Al-Aqsa Mosque” and “thwart any attempt to expand Zionist control over Jerusalem.”

Earlier Sunday, the terror spokesperson claimed that “Zionist groups” were holding “Torah lessons” at the flashpoint site, the holiest site for Jews and the third-holiest shrine in Islam.

Last month, during the second week of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, fierce clashes at the Temple Mount broke out when police entered the mosque, where hundreds of Palestinians had barricaded themselves inside with explosive devices, rocks, and fireworks, in order to target Israeli officers and civilians, according to police.

Police managed to overpower the rioters, but several people inside captured footage of officers brutally beating and apprehending Palestinians, which went viral on social media and sparked a massive uproar across the globe.

Hamas terrorists also responded by firing several barrages of rockets at Israel from both Lebanon and Gaza, leading to Israeli retaliatory airstrikes.

Subsequent prayers at the site were largely peaceful and Israel barred Jewish visitors from the site for the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Amid high tensions in the aftermath, this year’s flag rally is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 18.

On Friday, a senior Israeli official confirmed to The Times of Israel that the march would be held along its original route, despite concerns about a possible escalation.

A Channel 12 report on Friday cited the current government’s lack of political maneuverability on the issue: moving the route — when former prime ministerNaftali Bennett left it in place last year — would harm its image as an authentic right-wing alternative to the previous government.

In the past two years, the Biden administration has urged Israel to change the route of the march to go through the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, instead of Damascus Gate, skirting the Muslim Quarter, which is largely populated by Palestinians.

But right-wing and religious nationalist groups insist that the original route be maintained as has been the case for decades, in what is meant to signify Israel’s “reunification” of Jerusalem.

In 2021, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to reroute the Flag March away from the Muslim Quarter, though he waited until hours before the rally to make the decision, allowing threats against Israel from Hamas and other terror groups to pile up in the meantime. Despite the decision, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem, as the rerouted march was taking place. Shortly thereafter, the IDF launched Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza, which lasted 11 days.

The next year, Bennett came under similar pressure from the US, but ultimately decided to allow the march to go forward on the original route, in what led to the globally criticized scenes of participants singing “May your village burn,” as they danced outside of the Damascus Gate. However, terror groups in Gaza largely avoided responding in the way they had a year earlier.

While Channel 12 did not cite a source for any of its reporting, it said the security establishment did not receive any intelligence alerts against the holding of the Flag March along its original route.

The senior official speaking to The Times of Israel clarified that additional security consultations would be held on the matter before a final decision would be made. A senior US official told The Times of Israel last week that the issue was already on the Biden administration’s radar.

The Standing Together grassroots group that advocates coexistence between Jews and Arabs penned a letter to Police Commissioner KobiShabtai last week urging him to reroute the rally.

“The parade is a provocation whose purpose is to poke a finger in the eyes of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem,” it wrote, expressing its concern that the march could ignite further violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Similar calls were issued by left-wing groups Peace Now, EmekShaveh, and IrAmim.

Shabtai answers to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right firebrand who has loudly advocated for allowing the nationalist march through the Muslim Quarter.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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Erdoğan’s Islamist ally Erbakan vows to close LGBTI+ associations on state TV

May 07 2023

The state television TRT on May 7 started to broadcast the official propaganda speeches of the presidential candidates and political parties as only one week left to the elections. Ruling People Alliance’s partner Islamist New Welfare Party’s (YRP) leader FatihErbakan was the first politician to appear on the screen.

While announcing his election promises, Erbakan said that the country’s LGBTI+ associations would be completely shut down, and they would be prevented from making “propaganda” to the public.

"We will protect our youth from disasters such as deism, atheism, and homosexuality and provide them with the necessary spiritual and psychological support," Erbakan said, and promised to give permanent positions to Quran course teachers as civil servants.

Before the YRP joined the ruling People’s Alliance on March 24, the party and Justice and Development Party (AKP) signed a protocol including subtle clauses that are discriminatory against the LGBTI+ community. Furthermore, the top Turkish executives, including President Erdoğan, has been attacking marginalized group in their everyday propaganda speeches as the election date approaches.

Source: duvarenglish.com

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Kurds cautiously back Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Turkish election

May 07, 2023

 DIYARBAKIR: Exhausted by crackdowns in Turkiye’s Kurdish heartland, Ali is backing the main rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in elections next Sunday — though his faith in the presidential hopeful is not great.

“It’s time for a change,” the 50-year-old said in Diyarbakir, the Kurds’ unofficial capital in southeast Turkiye.

“For anyone watching TV in Turkiye, Kurds are terrorists,” said Ali, who declined to give his full name for fear of retribution.

“But I would be lying if I said I fully trust the opposition candidate,” he added, referring to Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the secular CHP party.

Representing roughly a fifth of Turkiye’s 85 million people, Kurds have suffered repression throughout the course of the post-Ottoman republic, which was created by CHP founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

Turkiye officially denied the existence of such an ethnicity, depriving Kurds of cultural and education rights.

Many Kurds embraced Erdogan’s AKP when it ended decades of secular rule in 2002, seeing it as more inclusive and committed to changes.

Erdogan tried to broker a deal to end a bloody Kurdish fight for an independent state, seeking to etch his place in history as the one who finally settled one of Turkiye’s most painful problems.

The collapse of the talks in 2015 and a failed coup attempt the following year prompted Erdogan to resume military operations in Kurdish regions, pushing him closer to Turkiye’s nationalists.

After holding out for much of the campaign, the pro-Kurdish HDP party has officially backed Kilicdaroglu, an endorsement that might just tip the close vote.

The HDP’s support “is a major boost” to Kilicdaroglu, said Hamish Kinnear, a senior analyst at the VeriskMaplecroft risk consultancy.

Mehmet EminYilmaz, who wears a traditional Kurdish scarf, says he is ready to vote for whomever the HDP points to.

“I am Kurdish. The HDP defends my rights. If the police unjustly detains me today, the HDP will take care of me,” the 60-year-old said.

But while the election is one of Turkiye’s most important in its modern era, deciding the future of its longest-serving leader, there is little excitement on the streets of Diyarbakir.

“The people are intimidated, there are cameras everywhere. If more than two people gather, the plainclothes police arrive,” said ErdemUnal, the CHP chief in Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district.

“Erdogan left Kurds with two options: mosque or prison,” he said.

“Diyarbakir has turned into an open-air prison,” he said.

Erdogan’s alliance with the Huda-Par (Free Cause Party) has opened additional wounds.

Huda-Par has links to the Kurdish Hezbollah movement, which is distinct from the Lebanese group of the same name.

Comprising Sunni radicals, the Kurdish Hezbollah was implicated in the extrajudicial killings of Kurdish and women’s rights activists in the 1990s.

Some analysts viewed the Kurdish Hezbollah as a regime tool for fighting the Kurdish insurgency led by the leftist PKK.

EyupBurc, founder of the pro-Kurdish IMC TV channel that has since been shut down, said Erdogan’s embrace of Huda-Par meant he was trying to hang on to the most conservative elements of the Kurdish vote.

“Surveys show around 15 percent support for Erdogan in Diyarbakir, and it’s melting further,” Burc said.

Kilicdaroglu’s leftist CHP is almost invisible in Diyarbakir.

But the 74-year-old former civil servant appears to attract local sympathies because of his openly Alevi faith — and less emphasised Kurdish identity.

Most Kurds call Kilicdaroglu “Piro” from “pir,” a Kurdish word for grandfather that also describes an Alevi religious leader.

But many Kurds have long-standing reservations about Kilicdaroglu and his six-party opposition alliance.

It backed Erdogan’s military incursions into Syria, which hit Kurdish areas controlled by a sister party of the PKK.

The HDP’s support for Kilicdaroglu follows the arrest of more than 100 Kurdish activists, journalists and lawyers in what the government billed an “anti-terror” operation.

The roundups were aimed at “sending a message to Turkiye’s (mostly Sunni) west,” said NahitEren, who heads the Diyarbakir bar association.

Abbas Sahin, whose Green Left Party will represent pro-Kurdish candidates in the parliamentary portion of the ballot because of a threatened shutdown of the HDP, vowed that Erdogan would be consigned “to the dustbin of history.”

But Gulistan AtasoyTekdemir, the HDP co-chair in Diyarbakir, said Kurds expected “courage” from the opposition candidate, insisting that their support should not be taken for granted.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2299416/middle-east

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Arab League move fails to allay Lebanese concerns over Syrian refugee ‘burden’

May 07, 2023

BEIRUT: Lebanese people remain divided over Syria’s return to the Arab League following a 12-year suspension.

Foreign ministers from Arab League member states on Sunday agreed to reinstate Syria’s membership and called for a resolution of issues resulting from the country’s civil war, including the flight of refugees to neighboring countries.

However, many Lebanese fear that the decision will do little to encourage Syrian refugees in Lebanon to return to their homeland.

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi said during Sunday’s Mass that the growing number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has become a “heavy burden” on the country, economically, socially, demographically and regarding security.

Al-Rahi expressed doubts about the intentions of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and called on the agency “to cooperate with the Lebanese ministerial committee by providing it with the necessary information about Syrian refugees registered with the agency in Lebanon.”

The patriarch asked: “Is there an intention behind the international community’s stance to settle Syrian refugees in Lebanon?

“Do they not prefer the return (of Syrian refugees) to Syria for fear that they may migrate to their countries? How can Lebanon, burdened as it is, bear the addition of 2,800,000 Syrian refugees and 300,000 Palestinian refugees?”

The patriarch called on “the international community to provide assistance to Syrian refugees on Syrian soil.”

In the first comment by a Lebanese official on the Arab foreign ministers’ decision, Abbas Hajj Hassan, the agriculture minister in the caretaker government representing the Hezbollah-Amal alliance, said: “The return of Syria to the Arab League is the return of all Arabs to an active role in the region and on the international stage.”

The Grand Jaafari Mufti, Sheikh Ahmed Qabalan, accused Europe and Washington of attempting to displace Lebanese people by settling Syrian refugees in the country.

Source: arabnews.com

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Arab World

 

Arab League readmits Syria after 11 years as relations with Assad normalise

May 7, 2023

Arab League foreign ministers adopted a decision to readmit Syria after more than a decade of suspension on Sunday, a league spokesperson said, consolidating a regional push to normalise ties with President Bashar al-Assad.

The decision said Syria could resume its participation in Arab League meetings immediately, while calling for a resolution of the crisis resulting from Syria’s civil war, including the flight of refugees to neighbouring countries and drug smuggling across the region.

It was taken at a closed meeting of foreign ministers at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo, said Gamal Roshdy, spokesman for the Arab League’s secretary general.

While Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, have pushed for Syria and Assad’s rehabilitation, others, including Qatar, have remained opposed to full normalisation without a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Some have been keen to set conditions for Syria’s return, with Jordan’s foreign minister saying last week that the Arab League’s reacceptance of Syria would only be the start of “a very long and difficult and challenging process”.

Sunday’s decision said Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and the Arab League’s secretary general would form a ministerial contact group to liaise with the Syrian government and seek “step-by-step” solutions to the crisis.

Practical steps included continuing efforts to facilitate the delivery of aid in Syria, according to a copy of the decision seen by Reuters.

Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended in 2011 after a crackdown on street protests against Assad that led to a devastating civil war and many Arab states pulled their envoys out of Damascus.

Recently, Arab states have been trying to reach a consensus on whether to invite Assad to an Arab League summit on May 19 in Riyadh to discuss the pace of normalising ties and on what terms Syria could be allowed back.

Saudi Arabia long resisted restoring relations with Assad but said after its recent rapprochement with Iran — Syria’s key regional ally — that a new approach was needed with Damascus.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1751408/arab-league-readmits-syria-after-11-years-as-relations-with-assad-normalise

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Saudi Arabia, US urge warring Sudan rivals to agree short-term ceasefire

May 08, 2023

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia and the United States have urged Sudan's warring rivals to agree to an effective short-term ceasefire during the ongoing Jeddah talks.

Under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces commenced pre-negotiation talks in Jeddah on May 6.

Saudi Arabia and the United States urged both parties to engage in the talks seriously to advance facilitating the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services and subsequently expand negotiations to achieve a permanent cessation of hostilities.

The parties agreed that they bear a heavy responsibility to help alleviate the suffering of the Sudanese people, including the responsibility to reach a near-term agreement on security measures to facilitate the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services to those in need.

The parties began a review of the proposed Declaration of Commitment to Protect Civilians and facilitate and respect Humanitarian Action in Sudan.

They also began discussions on security measures the two sides would need to quickly take to facilitate the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services, in accordance with the declaration’s principles.

Saudi Arabia and the United States welcomed the commitment of the two sides to a constructive and mutually respectful approach and urged them to observe the current ceasefire and refrain from provocative actions on the ground to sustain a positive atmosphere for the pre-negotiation talks.

The talks that resumed on Sunday will continue in the coming days in expectation of reaching an effective short-term ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian assistance. — SPA

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632252/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-Arabia-US-urge-warring-Sudan-rivals-to-agree-short-term-ceasefire

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Saudi Arabia is 7th most optimistic nation globally: Report

May 07, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of the most trusting and least polarized countries in the world, according to the latest Trust Barometer report from Edelman, the leading global communications firm.

The company measures levels of trust from more than 32,000 respondents in 28 countries across business, government, media and NGOs.

The 2023 report, titled “Navigating a Polarized World,” examines the lack of trust amid a feared economic collapse and how institutions can build trust in a divided world.

The report also shows that Saudi Arabia is the seventh most optimistic country, defying the trend of economic pessimism and polarization.

Elevated levels of trust were found across all institutions, including a strong trust in government at 83 percent. By comparison, the global average of trust in government is only 50 percent.

Additionally, 73 percent of Saudis trust business, 79 percent of Saudi employees trust their employers, and 73 percent buy products based on their beliefs and values. Trust in NGOs came in third at 66 percent. The World Health Organization was found to be the most trusted multinational organization, ahead of the UN and the EU.

KenanaDahlan, general manager of Edelman Saudi Arabia, said: “The Edelman Trust Barometer has proven to be an invaluable tool in highlighting critical global issues. In Saudi Arabia, the results indicate an increase in trust toward the government, which is now viewed as a key player in driving positive change alongside the business community.

“Furthermore, the survey shows that Saudi Arabia has emerged as the most unified country amongst all those surveyed, indicating a strong sense of national cohesion and solidarity.”

Source: arabnews.com

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Residents Find New-born Baby Dumped In Front Of A Mosque InAl-Raqqa

May 7, 2023

Al-Raqqa province: Residents have found a newborn girl who was abandoned for unknown reasons, where she was dumped near the door of “Al-Imam Al-Nawawy Mosque” in Al-Raqqa city within SDF-held areas.

This comes in light of the growing phenomenon of abandonment of children by their families, for many reasons, especially the deterioration of living conditions, illegal relationships and other reasons.

According to SOHR statistics, this is the 27th case of abandoned new-born babies since early 2023 with 11 cases documented in regime-controlled areas, 15 documented in SDF-controlled areas and one in areas controlled by Turkish-backed factions.

Source: syriahr.com

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https://www.syriahr.com/en/298231/

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Saudi Arabia to provide $100 million of humanitarian aid for Sudan

May 07, 2023

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia will provide Sudan with humanitarian assistance worth $100 million and will organize a national popular campaign to collect donations.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman directed on Sunday King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to organize the campaign through the Saham platform.

The campaign aims to alleviate the effects of the situation that the Sudanese people are currently witnessing.

Advisor at the Royal Court and Supervisor General of KSrelief Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah said that under the generous directive, relief and humanitarian assistance and medical assistance will be provided to displaced persons in Sudan.

He thanked the King and the Crown Prince for their noble and unsurprising positions, which are an extension of the humanitarian role of Saudi Arabia in standing with those affected and needy throughout the world in various crises.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632240/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-Arabia-to-provide-$100-million-of-humanitarian-aid-for-Sudan

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Saudi crown prince, US, UAE, India national security advisers discuss relations

May 08, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received national security advisers of the UAE, the US, and India on Sunday evening, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Crown Prince, Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Jake Sullivan, and Ajit Doval discussed enhancing relations to boost regional growth and stability.

Senior US officials also attended the meeting.

Source: arabnews.com

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Saudi Arabia to launch largest radio telescope in Middle East

May 07, 2023

RIYADH: The Saudi Amateur Radio Society is preparing to launch the largest radio telescope in the Middle East, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Construction on the 20-meter diameter device is done and tests will be conducted before it is linked to the radio telescope system developed at universities.

The radio telescope will be sited at the astronomical observatory in Mashar National Park.

Prince Badr bin Fahd, the president of the association, said the project was in line with Saudi Vision 2030 goals of sustainable development, digital transformation and attracting investments in the fields of technology and innovation.

Source: arabnews.com

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North America

 

US Criticizes UN’s Decision Operating in Afghanistan without Female Staff

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

May 7, 2023

After a month-long assessment, the United Nations has announced that it will continue its operation in Afghanistan without the presence of female staff, prompting criticisms from US officials.

Some members of the US House of Representatives have criticized the UN’s position to continue operating in Afghanistan without its female staff. They called the continuation of humanitarian aid only for men, a serious punishment for Afghan women and girls, who have been completely erased from public life.

Members of the US House of Representatives, including Michael McCaul, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of this House, have said in a letter to Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, that the organizations should not come along with the ban on women’s work in Afghanistan and emphasized that a “decisive” answer should be given.

It is also stated that the UN should continue supporting Afghan women and girls instead of compromising with the gender-based restrictions, which bares women to work for international aid organizations in Afghanistan.

The members of the US House of Representatives have emphasized that the UN should oppose the idea of operating in Afghanistan without its female employees, and should avoid implementing humanitarian aid programs that solely benefit men.

Furthermore, it is stated that restrictions violate the basic rights of Afghan women and girls and endanger humanitarian efforts throughout Afghanistan. “The United Nations’ response to these restrictions are in contrary to the UN Charter, and will have an impact on the credibility of this organization,” the letter stated.

Source: khaama.com

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Mystery surrounds ‘blighted property’ notice at Pakistan Embassy

May 8, 2023

Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The mystery surrounding a Pakistan Embassy building in the US capital got more complicated on Sunday when a notice about its blighted condition disappeared days after it was pasted on the front door.

Since the local government offices in Washington remain closed on Sunday, no one was available to clarify when they pasted the notice and why they removed it.

When Dawn contacted officials at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, they said that “since we never saw the notice, we cannot say when or why it was removed”.

A photo of the “Blighted Property” notice, taken on Friday, said the Building Enforcement Unit of the Department of Buildings (BOD), Washington, “has inspected your property and deemed it to be blighted”.

It asked the owners of the property, Pakistan Embassy, to “complete and submit a blighted building response form, within 30 days” or “your property will be designated as blighted and reclassified accordingly”. The notice also warned that “unauthorised removal” of this red notice could lead to a fine of $500.

Media reports published earlier this week claimed that the Washington DC government had downgraded the property classification of this embassy-owned building on the city’s historic R-Street NW.

The building has been up for sale for the past few months and received offers much below the prevalent price in this neighbourhood.

The reports warned that the declassification will further reduce the market value of the building while increasing taxes on its assessed value.

The building, which used to be a chancery in the past, was put up for auction late last year. The bidding process was later cancelled by Pakistani authorities, under pressure from the Pakistani American community.

Several community members claimed that they were willing to offer much more than the highest bid of $6.8 million for the property located in the heart of the city. Earlier media reports, however, put the pre-auction evaluation of the building, on ‘as is’ basis, at $4.5m. The building has been unoccupied for over a decade. The building’s diplomatic status was also revoked in 2018, making it liable to pay taxes to the local government.

In 2008, a Washington Post report on blighted properties in Washington listed a “paint-peeled columns and boarded-up windows” of a building owned by the United Arab Emirates, and “the hip-high grass and missing front door knob of a building owned by the Pakistani government.”

In December 2017, the US State Department responded to a plea for action from a local government official, Eleanor Holmes Norton, saying that it was ready to “aggressively engage” foreign countries with derelict properties in the nation’s capital.

In another letter to the local government, a State Department official said buildings owned by several countries, including Pakistan and Argentina, have lost diplomatic protections. A 2018 report in the Washingtonian magazine noted that “a 1906 Beaux Arts beauty, the onetime embassy of Pakistan has been vacant for about a decade — and it shows.

A demolition notice hangs to the left of the front door. Some windows are broken, while others are covered with cobwebs“. The report noted Pakistan has moved its embassy to “expansive new digs” near the Van Ness Metro.

An earlier Associated Press report noted that this “large building at the corner of 22nd and R street in downtown Washington, sticks out like a wart in the otherwise upscale neighbourhood”.

The building’s “plywood covers the windows, sleeping bags and empty bottles litter the shuttered doorways and head-high weeds sprout through the asphalt of the empty fenced-off parking lot,” the report added.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1751510

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Sen. Juan Mendez, Arizona Muslim Alliance propose Arizona Office for New Americans

MAY 7, 2023

by Jeremy Yurow, Cronkite NewsArizona state Sen. Juan Mendez and the Arizona Muslim Alliance have joined forces to propose an Office for New Americans in Arizona, similar to ones in 13 other states that help immigrants assimilate into the U.S. The initiative is meant to improve immigrant rights and services by providing a centralized location for resources such as language classes and resettlement assistance.

“I’ve moved all across America and I understand what it’s like to start your life over again,” said Mendez, a Tempe Democrat. “I know what it feels like to be alone to have to navigate all different kinds of services that are already provided to people.”

Mendez and his wife, Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, come from families of immigrants. Mendez’s parents immigrated from Mexico while Salman’s mother is from Mexico and her father is from Palestine.

Mendez said he has been working on the bill for years and is collaborating with the Muslim community, which he said is well-organized and has experience establishing similar offices in other states.

“It was through the Muslim community that I met the first person who’s actually worked in this area, who’s helped establish these similar offices in other states,” he said. “So once we got connected through the Muslim community, then it felt like, ‘Oh, I can actually do something real.’”

The senator noted that he is not trying to create anything new, but is seeking to centralize services that already exist and make them more accessible.

Susan Bassal, the secretary of the Arizona Muslim Alliance, said the Office for New Americans could be particularly helpful for Afghan refugees who fled to the United States after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021. Bassal, an attorney, explained that the alliance had previously established a refugee task force to coordinate relief efforts and provide assistance to refugees, which could serve as a model for the proposed office’s work.

“(The task force allowed) these relief organizations that were already existing to work together,” Bassal said. “They’ve been able to provide everything from job training to English lessons.”

Bassal suggested that an Office for New Americans in Arizona could provide one-stop shopping for programs such as the International Rescue Committee and Arizona Immigrant and Refugee Services. The IRC provides job training, language instruction and assistance with basic needs like housing, while also helping refugees and immigrants navigate the U.S. immigration system and advocating for their rights. AIRS offers a wide range of services to immigrants and refugees, including legal assistance, language instruction, job training, health care navigation, case management and community integration support.

Mendez said he would like to propose the bill at the beginning of the next legislative session. However, he is unsure how the Republican majority will respond.

“Statewide, Arizona has a pretty good record or reputation of taking in immigrants compared to other states,” Mendez said. “This is the kind of issue where it could be bipartisan. This doesn’t necessarily have to be like a progressive issue. We want everybody to have a chance at success in Arizona.”

If Arizonans want an example of how an Office for New Americans could operate in their state, they don’t need to look far: Nevada lawmakers established one in 2019. Charina de Asis, the executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office for New Americans, said it has enhanced “the success, integration and inclusion of immigrant and refugee families in the state.”

The office helps immigrants navigate the complexities of state government by offering programs that cater to the specific needs of immigrants and refugees in Nevada. For instance, the Nevada Initiative for Language Access ensures that state government is accessible to those with limited English, and its Skilled Immigrant Integration Program helps communities find ways to include immigrants and refugees in the workforce.

The office provides support to independent refugee resettlement agencies during crises such as the Afghan humanitarian crisis, when it worked with a county and a state college to find temporary housing for refugees coming to the state. It also connects immigrants and refugees to community resources, including affordable housing and small-business assistance.

De Asis said immigrants and refugees face similar challenges, no matter which state they live in.

“(This includes) language barriers, lack of social network and employment opportunities, access to health care and education, and experiences of prejudice and differences in culture,” she said. “Having an office like ONA helps make tackling these challenges a little bit easier.”

Mendez said his office is investigating whether Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs can establish and administer such an office without legislative approval. Cronkite News reached out to the governor’s office for comment but has not received a reply.

In Michigan, then-Gov.Rick Snyder, a Republican, used his executive power to establish an Office for New Americans in 2014. At the time, the GOP controlled the Michigan State House and Senate.

AzzaAbuseif, executive director for Arizona’s branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said she met with Hobbs on Jan. 31 and they discussed ways to work together to support the Muslim and immigrant communities. She said she believes that Hobbs might be open to establishing an Office for New Americans in the state.

“It’s something very important to establish that office, ”Abuseif said. “I’m a refugee myself, so having something like that would have been so helpful for both my parents when they came here to have that sort of support from community members and community organizations.”

Source: news.azpm.org

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South Asia

 

Turkish Companies Ready To Invest In Wind Power Plants in Afghanistan

By

Fidel Rahmati

May 8, 2023

The Ministry of Water and Energy reported on Sunday that a Turkish company is interested in contributing to a 200 MW wind power project in Afghanistan.

According to the Ministry of Water and Energy, the acting Water and Energy Minister, Abdul Latif Mansour, met with the President of Turkish 77 construction company SulimanCiliv and discussed energy production from various sources.

“Both parties agreed to sign a cooperation agreement to invest in a 200 megawatts wind power generation project as soon as possible so that based on this agreement, the practical works of this project will start in the future,” the Ministry said.

On the other hand, the second phase of the Kajaki hydroelectric project was completed by the 77 Turkish companies, which Mansour referred to as “a valuable achievement for the people of Afghanistan.”

Mansour also praised the investment in the energy industry and reaffirmed the Ministry’s leadership’s commitment to collaboration.

Afghanistan’s primary energy sources are hydropower, fossil fuels, and solar power. However, at the moment, more than half of the country’s electricity is imported from its neighbours.

Afghanistan has much potential for developing wind power as it is a plentiful renewable energy source. However, the country still needs to fully realise this potential due to a lack of infrastructure and investment.

Source: khaama.com

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IEA’s Plan to Provide Financial Support for Media Raises Concerns: NAI

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

May 8, 2023

Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, has said the ministry plans to provide financial support for the media.

The prospect of the plan being implemented has raised concerns about the loss of media freedom under the Taliban administration.

Minister Khaikhah, in a meeting with journalists in Ghazni province on Saturday (May 6) said the interim government has considered providing financial support for media.

The Ministry of Information and Culture is working on a plan so that the media should receive financial support and continue serving the Afghan community.

Free speech experts and media-supporting institutions are not very optimistic about the implementation of this plan. They believe that Islamic Emirate is trying to control media and enforce censorship.

In response to this plan, Nai-Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan has said that the Taliban’s financial support should not undermine the independence of the media.

Nai has emphasized that the financial support should be in good deeds and does not affect the independence, operation and content of the media–adding it should not enforce censorship.

A university lecturer in journalism and media expert told to Khaama Press that the allocation of financial support to media from the Taliban administration is worrisome.

He believes the economic challenges of the media and journalists have positioned the media community in a dire situation, and the Taliban are trying to increase their influence over media and change the content of media to their advantage.

This comes as nearly 50 percent of the media outlets ceased operation mainly due to economic challenges caused due to the late regime change, and the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021. It is also reported that 95 percent of female journalists have lost their jobs.

Source: khaama.com

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Pakistani, Afghan FMs Meet, Discuss Peace, Security and Economic Issues

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

May 8, 2023

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday hosted the Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed key issues including peace, security, trade and connectivity.

The two sides held a candid and in-depth exchange on key issues of mutual concern, including peace and security, as well as trade and connectivity. The two sides reaffirmed their desire to pursue continuous and practical engagement in different domains that would benefit both countries.

The Foreign Ministers emphasized the need for enhanced coordination to counter terrorism which threatens the security of both countries. 

The two sides also stressed on the importance of removing trade barriers to enhance economic development and regional connectivity.

The high-level Afghan delegation who are on a visit to Pakistan from May 5-8 includes the acting foreign minister, the acting minister of commerce and industry, and several other personalities.

Besides holding bilateral meetings, the Acting Afghan Foreign Minister also participated in the 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue on May 6.

With the participation of the Chinese Foreign Minister, the three sides agreed to advance political engagement, counterterrorism cooperation and enhance trade, investments and connectivity under the trilateral framework.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang asked the Taliban Acting Foreign Minister to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals and institutions operating in Afghanistan.

In return, Minister Muttaqi stated that the Afghan interim regime is fully committed to cooperating with its regional partner to fight terrorism, and boost economic development and connectivity in the region.

Since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, China and Pakistan have maintained close ties with Afghanistan’s de facto regime. Besides delivering humanitarian aid, China has already considered taking economic initiatives in the war-torn country.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/pakistani-afghan-fms-meet-discuss-peace-security-and-economic-issues/

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Afghan Refugees in Iran Face Problems to ‘Buy Bread’: Shargh Daily

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

May 7, 2023

The Iranian government stopped issuing special bank cards to Afghan refugees some time ago, making it difficult for them to buy bread from bakeries, Shargh Daily reported.

The newspaper has also highlighted that Afghan refugees are faced with similar restrictions to benefit from other public services in Iran.

Shargh Daily on Sunday published a report stating that it is still unknown why the relevant officials at Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not taking decisive actions in this regard.

“If the relevant officials are not happy with the increasing number of Afghan refugees, they should deter the country’s immigration policy to avoid the influx of migrants. If such policies are not on the agenda, the restrictions negatively affecting the lives of the most vulnerable segment of the society are useless,” the report stated.

Over the past four decades, prolonged conflict, instability and poverty have forced Afghans at different stages to migrate to different countries, including Iran and Pakistan. the Iranian government claims to have hosted more than five million Afghans. 

The newspaper adds that Afghan nationals currently residing in Iran are faced with challenges of a different kind.

It is also reported that more than 600,000 Afghan students are studying at different levels in schools and universities in Iran. 

If Afghan nationals complete their high school in Iran and wish to take a university entrance exam, they will have to go to Afghanistan and retune with an Afghan passport to enroll in university and pursuer degree programs.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/afghan-refugees-in-iran-face-problems-to-buy-bread-shargh-daily/

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IMF team flags risks to Bangladesh as reserves fall further

May 8, 2023

The International Monetary Fund flagged risks to the Bangladesh economy such as inflation, growth and foreign reserves as it concluded its mission under the $4.7 billion loan program.

"Persistent inflationary pressures, elevated volatility of global financial conditions, and slowdown in major advanced trading partners continue to weigh on growth, foreign currency reserves, and the Taka," according to a press release from the IMF following the conclusion of the staff team visit on May 7.

The IMF will conduct the first review of its Extended Credit Facility, Extended Fund Facility and Resilience and Sustainability Facility arrangements later this year, the press release said.

Reserves are expected to fall to $29.86 billion, the lowest in seven years, after import bill payments for two months next week.

Exports fell 16.5% to $3.95 billion in April from a year earlier as orders from clothing retailers slowed. Inward remittances that help the country’s balance of payments declined 16% year-on-year to $1.68 billion in April.

In February, Bangladesh received $476 million as the first installment of the IMF loans, while the disbursement of the second tranche is expected in November.

Bangladesh highlighted a more flexible exchange rate and reforms to banks’ lending rate to the IMF team, which visited the country from April 25 to May 7.

Banks will be allowed, starting in July, to set their lending rates at a maximum of 3% above the six-month weighted average rates for Treasury bills. The rate corridor, a key IMF condition, replaces the 9% cap on the lending rate.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/international-business/imf-team-flags-risks-to-bangladesh-as-reserves-fall-further/articleshow/100065651.cms

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Advanced Tickets Almost Sold Out, ‘Pathaan’ Ready To Take Over Bangladesh Box Office

May 8, 2023

After all the dilemma and confusion, Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster film ‘Pathaan’ is finally getting ready for its release in Bangladesh on May 12. The news has already created a lot of buzz in the neighbouring country and advanced ticket sales have started in several cinema halls across Bangladesh. Importing Hindi films has always been a demand from cinema hall owners in the country. Now, that demand is finally being fulfilled with the ‘Pathaan’s release.

If you are a Shah Rukh Khan fan living in Bangladesh and eagerly waiting to see his movie on the big screen, then there's good news. After breaking all box office records in India, the action entertainer is expected to witness similar box office success in Bangladesh. The film will be released in 38 halls across the country. There will also be an e-ticketing system to easily calculate how many tickets have been sold. According to reports, ever since the advance ticket sales started yesterday some of the show tickets are already sold out and the frenzy surrounding the Bollywood film is immense.

Earlier in February this year, a consortium of 19 Bangladesh film associations decided to allow Hindi-language films to release in the country and suggested that 10 Indian films should be released in a year, and 'Pathaan' is one of them. Bangladesh film censor board cleared the film last week.

With its release in Bangladesh, Pathaan will definitely create history. Films produced by Bollywood have been banned from cinemas in Bangladesh since the country's independence in 1972, in a bid to protect the local movie industry. However, in 2009, the decision was relaxed to allow Salman Khan’s 'Wanted' to open in the territory. The release was met with protests led by a local film industry organization and the film was pulled from the 50 cinemas it was running in after a week.

‘Pathaan’ which was released on June 25 minted over Rs 1050 crore in the worldwide box office. The Sidharth Anand directorial, also starring Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in the lead is the first Hindi film to be released in Bangladesh post-1971.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bengali/movies/news/advanced-tickets-almost-sold-out-pathaan-ready-to-take-over-bangladesh-box-office/articleshow/100067385.cms

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Europe

 

Dilapidated Pub Transformed Into a Bright and Modern Mosque at West Yorkshire, England

Natasha Meek

Sun, 7 May 2023

These amazing photos show how a dilapidated former pub has been transformed into a bright and modern mosque.

Plans to redevelop the former Horse and Farrier on King’s Road into The IQRA Centre were approved in July last year.

It received an outpouring of support from worshippers - leading to the creation of a grand prayer hall, community space and rooms for educational programmes.

The team’s vision was brought to life in around seven to eight months after donations hit the £800,000 mark.

Now the mosque has offered an invite to people of all faiths and backgrounds ahead of a long-awaited open day.

Trustees and the centre’s Imam will take guests on a guided tour around the new-look site before a Q&A and chance to build deeper connections over food and drink.

The open day is part of a national scheme run by the Muslim Council for Britain.

Educational space at The IQRA Centre (Image: Newsquest, Mike Simmonds)

Shahidur Rahman, one of the founding trustees of The IQRA Centre, said the community space is already being used for regular kickboxing lessons and food parcel donations.

Meanwhile plans are already in the works for events such as summer BBQs, fun days, and activities for children or people with dementia.

The final touches are now being made to the building - such as repairs on a dangerous, unusable staircase.

Looking back at the start of the IQRA Centre’s journey, Shahidur said: “There’s been massive objections and stuff like that as you expect from a pub turning into a mosque venue.

"We’ve done a lot of work so it’s now how we can work together, make activities, understand each other. A lot of people can come in and see what we’ve done.

“There’s going to be a lot of stuff we want to do.

“People don’t need to think it’s ‘them and us’.

“There’s going to be a lot of changes that we’re trying to manage like car parking so people can talk to us, we’re trying our best.

Source: uk.news.yahoo.com

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https://uk.news.yahoo.com/see-inside-former-pub-transformed-135654210.html

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Russia 'Targeting Mosques And Immigration Centres' To Hit Army Recruitment Target, Says UK

By Kevin Schofield

08/05/2023

Russia is having to entice Asian migrant workers with big-money bonuses and fast-track citizenship in an attempt to hit its recruitment target for the war in Ukraine, according to UK intelligence.

Mosques and immigration centres are being targeted as part of the mass sign-up drive, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

They said the Kremlin wants to recruit 400,000 volunteers to send to the front line, but is wary of provoking “domestic dissent” by introducing mandatory mobilisation.

Details of the recruitment campaign were revealed in the MoD’s latest intelligence update on the war.

It said that immigrants agreeing to join the Russian war effort are receiving bonuses of up to $2,390 and salaries of $4,160 a month.

They are also being offered the chance to become Russian citizens in just six months, rather than the usual five years, if they agree to fight on the front line.

“Recruiting migrants is part of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s attempts to fulfil its target of 400,000 volunteers to fight in Ukraine,” the UK said.

“The authorities are almost certainly seeking to delay any new overt mandatory mobilisation for as long as possible to minimise domestic dissent.”

Meanewhile, the MoD also revealed that Russia is facing its “worst labour shortage in decades” as a result of the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russia’s population has reportedly decreased by two million more people than expected, the MoD said, with 1.3 million leaving the country in 2022 alone.

“Mobilisation, historically high emigration, and an ageing and shrinking population is limiting the labour supply,” they said.

“This will likely lead to a reduction in the potential growth of the Russian economy and risks stoking inflation.”

Source: huffingtonpost.co.uk

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https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/russia-targeting-mosques-and-immigration-centres-to-hit-army-recruitment-target_uk_6458922fe4b007e3d7d9e882

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Russia launches mass strikes on Ukraine ahead of May 9 Victory Day holiday

May 8, 2023

KYIV: Russia launched a large-scale wave of strikes on Kyiv and across Ukraine sowing destruction and injuries, officials said early on Monday, as Moscow prepares for its cherished Victory Day holiday that marks the anniversary of its defeat of Nazi Germany.

At least five people were injured due to Russian strikes on Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said, while Russian missiles set ablaze a foodstuff warehouse in the Black Sea city of Odesa and blasts were reported in several other Ukrainian regions.

The fresh attacks come as Moscow prepares for its Victory Day parade on Tuesday, a key anniversary for President Vladimir Putin who has evoked the spirit of the Soviet army that defeated Nazi German forces to declare that Russia would defeat a Ukraine supposedly in the grip of a new incarnation of Nazism.

Russia intensified shelling of Bakhmut hoping to take it by Tuesday, Ukraine's top general in charge of the defence of the besieged city said, after Russia's Wagner mercenary group appeared to ditch plans to withdraw from it.

Three people were injured in blasts in Kyiv's Solomyanskyi district and two others were injured when drone wreckage fell onto the Sviatoshyn district, both west of the capital's centre, Mayor VitaliKlitschko said on his Telegram messaging channel.

The Kyiv's military administration said that drone wreckage fell on a runway of the Zhuliany airport, one of the two passenger airports of the Ukrainian capital, causing no fire, but emergency services were working on the site.

It also said that in Kyiv's central Shevchenkivskyi district, drone debris seemed to have hit a two-storey building, causing damages. There was no immediate information about potential casualties.

Reuters' witnesses said they had heard numerous explosions in Kyiv, with local officials saying that air defence systems were repelling the attacks. It was not immediately clear how many drones were launched on Kyiv.

SerhiyBratchuk, spokesperson for the Odesa military administration, posted on his Telegram channel photos of a large structure fully engulfed in flames, in what he said was a Russian attack on a foodstuff warehouse, among others.

After air raid alerts blared for hours over roughly two-thirds of Ukraine, there were also media reports of sounds of explosions in the southern region of Kherson and in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeast.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-installed local official in Zaporizhzhia, said that Russian forces hit a warehouse and Ukrainian troops' position in Orikhiv, a small city in the region. Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.

Separately, Russian forces shelled eight locations in Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine on Sunday, the regional military administration said in a Facebook post.

In the past two weeks, strikes have also intensified on Russian-held targets, especially in Crimea. Ukraine, without confirming any role in those attacks, says destroying enemy infrastructure is preparation for its long-expected ground assault.

Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, calling it a "special military operation" to defend Russia from neo-Nazis in Ukraine, but Kyiv and its allies say it was an unprovoked, land grab.

The invasion sparked the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two and has killed thousands and forced millions to flee the country.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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UK to mark coronation with street parties and a concert

May 7, 2023

LONDON: Britain on Sunday celebrates the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla with street parties around the country and a concert at Windsor Castle.

Following Saturday's glittering ceremony at London's Westminster Abbey featuring royalty and leaders from around the world, the emphasis shifted to a chance for the public to mark the "Carolean" age after Queen Elizabeth II's 70-year reign.

The medieval majesty of the coronation ceremony has its roots in the England of 1066 but the "Big Lunch" parties look to bring 21st-century Britain's diverse communities closer together.

Monday has been declared a public holiday -- meaning people can let loose on Sunday without having to worry about a hangover.

Charles and Camilla hope the long weekend "will provide an opportunity to spend time and celebrate with friends, families and communities", Buckingham Palace said.

After the post-World War II hardships, street parties were a major feature of Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 -- and a memorable part of celebrations for her long reign in 1977 and last year.

The Big Lunch is an attempt to keep alive that more neighbourly spirit.

'Celebration and friendship'

"From a cup of tea with a neighbour to a street party, a Coronation Big Lunch brings the celebrations to your neighbourhood and is a great way to get to know your community a little better," Buckingham Palace said.

It is likely to see multiple hit-and-miss attempts at making Coronation Quiche -- the specially created baked savoury tart featuring spinach, broad beans and tarragon.

The king's sister, Princess Anne, was due to attend a community street party in Windsor, west of London, while his nieces Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie -- Prince Andrew's daughters -- will attend a big lunch in the same royal town.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host a lunch at his 10 Downing Street office and residence, inviting in community volunteers and Ukrainian refugees.

"People are marking this momentous occasion in the spirit of unity and hope for the future," he said.

Stars and lights

Take That, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry are among the stars performing on the East Lawn at Windsor Castle, with 20,000 people set to attend.

The show will hark back to the June 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Elizabeth's record 70 years on the throne, just three months before her death at the age of 96.

Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel -- who sang during the coronation service -- will also be performing, along with Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Andrea Bocelli, Paloma Faith and Nicole Scherzinger.

Hollywood star Tom Cruise, actress Joan Collins, adventurer Bear Grylls and singer Tom Jones will appear via video message.

The Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal College of Music and the Royal College of Art will come together for a one-off performance.

Buckingham Palace said the centrepiece would be "Lighting up the Nation", in which well-known locations across Britain will be lit up using projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.

They include the seafront at Blackpool, Sheffield's Peace Gardens, the Eden Project nature park in Cornwall and the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.

Ancient symbolism

Charles was crowned monarch of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms on Saturday, during a ceremony steeped in a millennium of ritual and spectacle.

After a lifetime as the heir to Queen Elizabeth, the 74-year-old became the oldest sovereign ever crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, placed the solid gold Saint Edward's Crown on Charles's head as a sacred and ancient symbol of the monarch's authority.

Welby also crowned Queen Camilla, the king's wife of 18 years.

Cries of "God Save the King" rang out from the 2,300-member congregation.

Trumpet fanfare sounded along with gun salutes across Britain and beyond.

Returning to Buckingham Palace in the day's second horse-drawn parade, the royal family appeared on the balcony to applause and more chants of approbation from tens of thousands of well-wishers braving a spring downpour.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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UK police investigate vehicles registered under Nawaz’s name ‘for crime’

May 8, 2023

London: The registration of three vehicles under the name of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif without his consent or knowledge has prompted an investigation by London police, with the PML-N saying the vehicles could be misused for a crime or for terrorism.

Mr Sharif first came to know about the vehicles falsely registered in his name when the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sent a letter to his residence at Avenfield House with the registration details of a vehicle attributed to him.

This prompted Mr Sharif’s office to report the activity in March to the DVLA, triggering an investigation.

Khurram Butt, a London-based PML-N spokesperson, revealed that a second incident occurred last month, and that another vehicle was registered under the former prime minister’s name.

A third vehicle under his name was discovered when a traffic violation fine was issued, an act described by Mr Butt as “uncovering a malicious attempt by some individuals to exploit the name and reputation of the PML-N leader for criminal purposes”.

London authorities are pursuing the investigation and following up on all leads to find out who is responsible for registering these vehicles falsely.

The DVLA informed Mr Sharif that his name had been removed from the vehicle registrations, but advised him to pursue the matter with police as it revealed a fraudulent claim made in his name.

The spokesman said he suspected Nawaz Sharif’s name was being deliberately used for wrong purposes, and that he suspected supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were behind the fraudulent act.

Source: dawn.com

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Kissinger makes Ukraine peace prediction

7 May, 2023

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has told CBS News that the conflict in Ukraine may be approaching a turning point, and that Chinese-brokered peace talks could begin by the end of 2023.

"Now that China has entered the negotiation, it will come to a head, I think by the end of the year," the 99-year-old diplomat told CBS in an interview broadcast on Sunday. By that time, he continued, "we will be talking about negotiating processes and even actual negotiations."

With the release of its ‘Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis’ in February, China put itself forward as a potential mediator between Moscow and Kiev. The Chinese plan was rejected outright by the US and EU, while Russian President Vladimir Putin described some of its 12 points as “in tune” with Moscow’s position, and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky welcomed only a handful of its points, but maintains that Kiev will not compromise with Russia in any way.

Zelensky’s refusal to negotiate with Putin’s government – the Ukrainian leader banned contact with the Kremlin in a decree last October – is just one stumbling block faced by China or any other potential middleman.

Russia considers the conflict in Ukraine a proxy war between itself and NATO, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that any negotiations would not be held “with Zelensky, who is a puppet in the hands of the West, but directly with his masters.”

In Washington, the administration of President Joe Biden publicly claims that it is up to Ukraine to decide when to seek peace. Zelensky has been offered no incentives by the US to do so, with Biden offering to continue supplying him with weapons “for as long as it takes” to achieve his war aims. Among these aims is the capture of Crimea, a Russian territory since 2014. American military leaders have publicly admitted that the chances of this happening are slim to none.

Kissinger drew the ire of Kiev last year when he suggested that Ukraine should accept a return to the “status quo ante,” or relinquish its territorial claims to Crimea and grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, in the name of peace. He has since suggested that these territories become the basis of negotiations after a ceasefire and Russian withdrawal.

Moscow has repeatedly said that it is open to talks with Kiev but only if Ukraine “recognizes the reality on the ground,” including the new status of the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye as parts of Russia. Otherwise, the Kremlin has stated, Russia will settle the conflict by military means.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/news/575943-kissinger-ukraine-peace-china/

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EU defenseless against China – Berlusconi

7 May, 2023

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi warns that the EU would be unable to defend itself if China decided to attack one of its member states. The veteran politician urged Brussels to adopt a robust military strategy and invest heavily in defense.

Berlusconi made the remarks in a video interview recorded on Friday by Sky TG24 news channel. He is currently in the San Raffaele hospital in Milan and is being treated for leukemia, which was diagnosed in early April.

The former prime minister said the EU is hardly a force to be reckoned with in the international arena, and should China decide to “occupy Italy, and maybe some other European country, we would absolutely not be able to counter it.”

“The best thing we could do would be to go to school to study Chinese,” he added.

To improve its standing, Berlusconi said, the EU needs to adopt a “single military policy, with strong cooperation between the armed forces of all European countries.”

He also advocated an increase in defense spending and the establishment of a 300,000-strong “emergency corps.”

Politically, Berlusconi said he would like to see a “truly united continent” – something which would be more achievable if the bloc dropped its ‘unanimity principle’ in voting in favor of an 80-85% majority, he argued.

He went on to stress that the EU can and must play a greater role in the world, including standing up to what Berlusconi described as “Chinese imperialism.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that the current prime minister, GiorgiaMeloni, was considering withdrawing from China’s Belt and Road infrastructure project.

According to sources cited in the article, however, there is a lack of consensus on the matter within the ruling coalition.

Speaking in late March ahead of her visit to China, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that while “decoupling” from Beijing is not in the EU’s interests, Brussels should become “bolder” in its relations with China – which is growing “more repressive at home and more assertive abroad,” she added.

Commenting on Von der Leyen’s remarks, the Chinese ambassador to the EU, Fu Cong, said her message was incoherent and contradictory, while calling out the “misrepresentation and misinterpretation of Chinese policies and Chinese positions,” and advising the European Commission chief to find better speechwriters.

Source: rt.com

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Australia

 

Australia now has its own grand mosque: a brief history of how these buildings fold into the urban landscape

May 8, 2023

A referee’s whistle pierces the air. A player dribbles a ball across a court; goal! Cheers erupt.

These are the familiar sounds of Australian life. Children squeal with laughter. The barbecue sizzles. The muezzin calls the faithful to prayer.

Opened in 2022, Melbourne’s Grand Mosque and the Werribee Islamic Centre offer a host of facilities that connect with the multicultural community of Tarneit, 25 kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD.

Grand mosques mark the urban space of major historical cities such as Mecca, Medina, Cordoba and Tunis. More recently, these buildings have been built in cities like Algiers and Abu Dhabi.

The notion of a “grand mosque” has been shaped by the location of the mosque, its scale and its historical importance.

But what makes a grand mosque “grand”?

Building the grand mosques

Historically, ruling and social elites such as religious leaders, monarchs, princes and princesses financed and built mosques for their communities.

This charitable act was an important legacy, and mosques were also a reflection of the powers of dynasties.

There was great community involvement with the mosque, primarily through attending daily prayers. But mosques also provided civic, educational and cultural spaces to provide for extensive community involvement. These buildings were intellectual, scientific and literary centres, playing a crucial role in Arab-Islamic civilisation.

The idea of a “civic mosque” dates back to the early days of Islamic civilisation, with universities attached to mosques, such as the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

The most famous mosque in the world is the Great Mosque of Mecca, or the al-Masjid al-arām. Located in Saudi Arabia and first built in 638 AD, it can be called a grand mosque because of its historical significance, its capacity of 2.5 million and the way it intersects with the global Muslim community.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a centre of science and knowledge which can accommodate 40,000 worshippers. The largest mosque in the UAE, its design includes references from Pakistani, Egyptian, Moorish, Arab and Indo-Islamic architecture.

Completed in 2019, Djamaa El Djazair in Algiers, Algeria, is the third-largest mosque in the world, with a capacity of 120,000 worshippers.

A “grand mosque” doesn’t need to have a capacity in the tens of thousands. With a capacity of 1,000 worshippers, the Grande Mosquee de Paris is the largest in France and the third-largest in Europe.

Constructed in the 1920s, the mosque’s unique architecture and the provision of social and communal spaces all testify to the important role Islam plays in the diversity of Paris.

Through a combination of scale and architectural design, these grand mosques make their mark in the urban landscape.

An Australian grand mosque

The first contact of Muslims with Australia dates back to the 18th century, when Macassan fishermen travelled to the Kimberley region and Arnhem Land to collect sea cucumbers.

Muslims began to settle in Australia from the 1860s, largely working as cameleers and pearlers. The first mosque in Australia was completed in 1882 in Maree, 600 kilometres north of Adelaide. Since then, mosques have been built in cities, towns and suburbs throughout Australia.

Now, Australia has its own grand mosque.

Melbourne’s Grand Mosque opened its doors last year.

Planning, fundraising and building by the community are pillars of the new design processes and identity of mosques in Australia. The prayer hall can fit 2,000 worshippers. The building also includes a sporting centre, a community hall and a childcare centre.

Built for A$8.5 million, the community raised the funds to realise their vision over a period of ten years. The community wanted to make a grand architectural statement which would meet the spiritual and social needs of Australia’s Muslim community.

Eventually the complex will incorporate a library, sports facilities, childcare, educational spaces and hospitality.

Architecturally, the mosque respects traditions of a central dome above the prayer hall, bringing light into the most sacred space. However, the dome is smaller than in traditional mosques and is set back into the building, allowing it to not dominate the streetscape.

This allows the building to play a social role in a suburb where there are multiple religious groups of similar size.

A mosque for the community

The “grand mosque” is not just about the scale of architectural features – the minarets, arches and calligraphy.

The grand mosque of today is about community: their involvement in the design processes and its openness as a hub for diverse communities of the 21st century.

Grand mosques have long punctuated the urban space in major cities. Today, the realisation of a grand mosque such as the one in Melbourne transforms the idea of “grand” to a level of social interaction and community aspirations.

Source: theconversation.com

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‘They’re trying to bully us out’: The mosque standing firm against developers

May 8, 2023

As factories and warehouses give way to swish apartments and cafes, a plan for a small basketball court behind a mosque is proving a fault line in the transformation of old North Melbourne.

Since 2010 the Australian Muslim Social Services Agency (AMSSA) has operated an inconspicuous mosque and community centre in Boundary Road, opposite the North Melbourne public housing flats.

It is renowned for its community work, notably during the Andrews government’s contentious hard lockdown of housing estates in mid-2020, when it provided not only crucial food and care for fearful residents but also an operational base and local knowledge for officials and police.

“If it wasn’t for community organisations such as AMSSA, people would have been starving three days into the lockdown,” said one thankful public tenant in evidence to the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation of the government’s shambolic siege.

Now the mosque is struggling for its survival in this faded corner of industrial Melbourne, under state and Melbourne City Council plans to remake the area as a mid-level residential and commercial precinct.

Neighbouring developers are fighting AMSSA’s proposal for a $1.8 million single-level basketball court and meeting hall behind the mosque.

AMSSA believes it is part of a strategy to drive it out of the area.

“They want our property,” said secretary Adam Mohamed. “We think they’re pressuring us to sell up; they’re trying to bully us out.”

The dispute raises uncomfortable questions for government about the vulnerability of community agencies such as AMSSA in the face of urban “renewal” projects and land rezoning that, in this neighbourhood, have tripled land values since 2010.

Over 20 years, AMSSA raised funds from Somali and other Muslim communities, and in 2010 it bought the Boundary Road warehouse because of its proximity to public housing in which many Somalis live.

It is one of a handful of mosques in the inner city – a cultural, social and sporting as well as religious hub. But it is sandwiched between neighbours with big plans that do not include a mosque next door.

To the north, prominent developer David Wardlaw has approval for a $750 million project including luxury apartments designed by high-end architects Fender Katsalidis. To the south and west, the Marcocci family – of the Marcocci Property Group – is looking to relocate its University Food Group, to allow redevelopment of the expansive warehouse site.

For more than three years, Wardlaw and the Marcoccis have opposed the basketball court at every turn through the planning and building approvals process, including at the Melbourne City Council and appeals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Building Appeals Board.

AMSSA has triumphed throughout, with VCAT member Alison Glynn rejecting the Marcoccis’ argument that the basketball court is an “underdevelopment” of the site, concluding instead that it “provides a demonstrable benefit in improving facilities at a valued community service”.

Wardlaw slammed the planning process and, in particular, the city council’s support of the mosque’s plan as “utopian woke crap”.

“We know it was a bad decision and was not made with any planning merit,” he said.

He described the mosque – a former warehouse – as an “eyesore” and the proposed basketball court as a “disgrace”.

In an extraordinary escalation of the dispute, the Marcocci family is now threatening to challenge at the Supreme Court a Building Appeals Board ruling in favour of the mosque – a move that could further delay construction of the basketball court for months or years.

Tim Adams, an architectural draughtsman who designed the building, said he had not seen such intense opposition to a simple construction job in his 45-year career.

“The infuriating thing is that by now, a project like this would normally be up and going. It has cost a community organisation a great deal of money.” he said.

And that, said Mohamed, seems to be the point.

More than half of a $350,000 state government grant towards development of the basketball court has been absorbed fighting planning battles. A deadline for completion of the project is approaching, and the mosque has little to show on the ground for its efforts. Meanwhile, construction costs have exploded.

Wardlaw, who has worked closely with the Marcoccis through the dispute, acknowledged the financial strain the fight is causing. “It may be a case of who has the most money,” he said. “They’ve [AMSSA] got limited funds.”

Mohamed confirmed that Wardlaw had offered to buy the mosque site, but said the property was not for sale.

He said AMSSA chose this North Melbourne location to serve the community and especially the people in the flats across the road. “Maybe the developers will try to close the public housing as well,” he quipped.

Nearby resident and city councillor Rohan Leppert avoided commenting specifically on the dispute, but said the mosque was “at the heart” of the community.

“It’s important to recognise that places of worship and community facilities are entirely legitimate inclusions in the mix of land uses in this area,” said Leppert.

Source: brisbanetimes.com.au

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Africa

 

Arab League begins negotiations between Sudan's warring sides

08-05-23

The Arab League (AL) held an emergency meeting in Cairo this weekend, the third of its kind in three weeks, to discuss the ongoing military clashes in Sudan.

Sudan has been suffering deadly armed clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital city of Khartoum and other areas since April 15, with the two sides accusing each other of initiating the conflict.

Shortly after the outbreak of the conflicts, the AL held two emergency meetings on April 16 and 30, respectively, to discuss the situation in Sudan.

This weekend, top diplomats in the Arab world gathered in the Egyptian capital once again, trying to see how they can cooperate to help the Sudanese talks succeed, so as to ensure Sudan is not dragged into a long armed conflict.

"The top priority for the Arab League now is to find a real solution and to stop the bloodshed, to protect the livelihoods of people in Sudan, especially since this country is relying on humanitarian aid. The consequences have been exacerbated. This is not about calling the RSF a militia or not. The top priority now for the Arab League is to find a way out of the current situation," said Amira Sayed, a researcher on African affairs at the Egyptian Gazette.

The Arab League meeting came after Egyptian Foreign Minister SamehShoukry wrapped up a busy week to discuss the crisis in Egypt's southern neighbor.

Shoukry spoke to the commanders of the rival Sudanese sides, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan of the SAF and General Mohamed HamdanDagalo of the RSF. Shoukry also discussed the recent developments with seven Arab and African foreign ministers including those of Kenya and Djibouti.

So far, the deadly clashes have left 550 people dead and 4,926 others wounded, according to the Sudanese Health Ministry.

Source: africanews.com

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Organization of Islamic Cooperation appeals for urgent aid to conflict-torn Sudan

07.05.2023

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has appealed for urgent humanitarian aid to Sudan amid the ongoing fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group.

At least 550 people have been killed and more than 4,900 injured in fighting between the two military rivals since April 15, according to Sudan's Health Ministry.

In a statement, the Jeddah-based grouping said OIC Secretary-General HisseinBrahim Taha “made an urgent appeal to the OIC Member States, financial and humanitarian institutions and international donors to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Sudan.”

Taha called on the donors and partners to “focus on the provision of medical supplies and health services to Sudan.”

He also appealed for support for “Sudan’s neighboring countries’ efforts in hosting the numerous Sudanese and foreign refugees.”

The OIC also called for “the full respect of the humanitarian principles and standards and invited the parties to facilitate the delivery of the humanitarian assistance to those in need in different parts of the country.”

Representatives of the Sudanese army and the RSF held their first face-to-face talks in Saudi Arabia on Saturday in an effort to resolve their dispute.

A disagreement had been fomenting in recent months between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary force over RSF integration into the armed forces, a key condition of Sudan's transition agreement with political groups.

Sudan has been without a functioning government since October 2021, when the military dismissed Prime Minister AbdallaHamdok's transitional government and declared a state of emergency in a move decried by political forces as a "coup."

Sudan's transitional period, which started in August 2019 after the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, had been scheduled to end with elections in early 2024.

*Writing by Ikram Kouachi

Source: aa.com.tr

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Sudan refugees cross into Ethiopia as battles rage on

08-05-23

Hundreds of refugees fleeing ongoing violent unrest in Sudan have crossed the border into Ethiopia. Fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15 between the army and paramilitary forces, and so far at least 700 people have been killed, most of them civilians.

"Our safety and life comes first, we can't be thinking of the things that we have left behind." says one woman currently taking refuge in the border of Metema.

The situation comes as gun battles and air strikes on Sunday again flared in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, which has been rocked by four weeks of fighting despite the latest ceasefire efforts backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Multiple truce deals have been declared and quickly violated since fighting erupted between army and paramilitary forces.

Fierce combat since then has killed at least 700 people, most of them civilians, wounded thousands and driven a mass of exodus of Sudanese and foreign nationals.

In embattled Khartoum, fighter jets have bombed enemy positions as terrified residents stayed barricaded indoors amid dire shortages of water, food, medicines and other staples.

Across the Red Sea, in the Saudi city of Jeddah, talks were underway aiming for a ceasefire that could aid the desperate efforts to bring humanitarian aid to the besieged population.

The generals leading the warring parties have blamed each other for the violence, but have said little about the talks being held in Jeddah since Saturday.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Nabil Abdalla said the talks were on how a truce "can be correctly implemented to serve the humanitarian side", while Mohamed HamdanDaglo, who heads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), only said on Twitter that he welcomed the technical discussions.

Riyad and Washington have supported the "pre-negotiation talks" and urged the belligerents to "get actively involved".

- 'War of attrition' -

Hopes for these and other international efforts to silence the guns have been modest as fighting has raged, threatening a descent into full-scale civil war and a major humanitarian disaster.

"The lowest common denominator of the international community is a cessation of hostilities," said Sudan researcher AlyVerjee at Sweden's University of Gothenburg. "But there is no apparent consensus on what to do beyond that initial objective."

To be meaningful, Verjee said, any new truce declaration would require a "credible process to monitor and verify ceasefire non-compliance", and mutually agreed "consequences in the likely event of ceasefire breaches".

Meanwhile both sides have pushed on for military advantage on the ground, in the capital and in fighting elsewhere, including the long-troubled Darfur region.

Andreas Krieg of King's College London said that "the battle for Khartoum is quickly developing into a war of attrition where both sides have similar capabilities and capacities".

The army, commanded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has air power and probably more troops, at around 100,000 forces.

But the RSF, which emerged out of the notorious Janjaweed militia accused of war crimes in Darfur region, employs guerilla tactics that, Krieg said, can make them "more agile".

- 'Spillover challenges' -

Both the army and the RSF have sought to present themselves as protectors of democratic values, despite having jointly staged Sudan's latest coup in 2021.

Burhan and his former deputy Daglo jointly ousted Sudan's longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a 2019 palace coup, following mass pro-democracy protests.

A military-civilian administration was supposed to steer post-Bashir Sudan toward democracy, but the generals launched another coup in 2021 to assume full powers.

They have since fallen out in a bitter power struggle, with the latest flashpoint a plan to integrate the RSF into the army -- a conflict that exploded into open warfare four weeks ago.

US intelligence chief Avril Haines has warned of a "protracted" conflict that would "create a greater potential for spillover challenges in the region".

At least 700 people have been killed in the fighting so far, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. The Sudanese doctors' union said 479 of the dead were civilians.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced either internally or to neighbouring countries, while the UN has warned of a deepening humanitarian crisis and the threat of famine.

Source: africanews.com

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Battles raged in Khartoum ahead of talks in S.Arabia

08-05-23

Air strikes battered Sudan's capital on Saturday (May 6), as fighting entered its 22nd day only hours before the warring parties are to meet in Saudi Arabia for their first direct talks.

The street battles in the city of five million inhabitants continue to cause destruction.

Hundreds of people have been killed since the outbreak of the conflict on April 15 between Sudan's de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the regular army, and his deputy turned rival Mohamed HamdanDaglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Multiple truces have been reached, but none has been respected.

In a joint statement, the United States and Saudi Arabia said the army and RSF would hold direct discussions in Jeddah on Saturday (May 6), describing them as "pre-negotiation talks".

"Saudi Arabia and the United States urge both parties to take in consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks toward a ceasefire and end to the conflict," they said.

The army confirmed it had sent envoys to Saudi Arabia to discuss "details of the truce in the process of being extended" with its paramilitary foes.

Daglo, commonly known as Hemeti, took to Twitter to welcome the talks and thank the US, Saudi Arabia and other international players for their efforts.

The general, whose force descended from the Janjaweed militia accused of war crimes Sudan's Darfur region, affirmed "the need to reach a civilian transitional government that... achieves the aspirations of our people".

Both the army and the RSF have sought to present themselves as protectors of democratic values, despite staging a coup in 2021 that derailed the country's transition to civilian rule.

International mediation

On Saturday morning, witnesses said warplanes pounded various parts of the capital Khartoum, where telecommunications company MTN said all of its services had been interrupted.

Burhan had given his backing to a seven-day ceasefire announced by South Sudan on Wednesday, but early on Friday the RSF said it was extending by three days a previous truce brokered under US-Saudi mediation.

The US-Saudi statement noted the efforts of other countries and organisations behind this weekend's talks, including Britain, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab League, the African Union and other groups.

Khalid Omer Yousif, a former minister, expressed hopes the talks would lead to "a complete ceasefire that paves the way for a comprehensive political solution".

At least 700 people have been killed and thousands injured in the fighting that has displaced hundreds of thousands either internally or across the border to neighbouring countries.

Neighbouring South Sudan, which had negotiated the seven-day truce extension, said late Friday that its president, SalvaKiir, had spoken to the Sudanese generals about "his concerns and those of the IGAD leaders" from the East African regional grouping.

While the army had previously said it favoured "African solutions to the continent's issues", it was ultimately the US-Saudi initiative that gained leverage as Sudan had been suspended from the African Union since the 2021 coup.

Burhan and Daglo had together orchestrated the coup in October that year, derailing the democratic transition that had been painstakingly stitched together following the ouster of former autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

But they later fell out in a bitter power struggle, most recently over the integration of the RSF into the army.

Humanitarian crisis

The announcement of the direct talks came following warnings from US intelligence chief Avril Haines of a "protracted" conflict that would "create a greater potential for spillover challenges in the region".

The fighting persisted despite warnings from US President Joe Biden on Thursday of possible sanctions against those responsible for "threatening the peace, security, and stability of Sudan" and "undermining Sudan's democratic transition".

Sudan suffered decades of sanctions during the rule of Bashir, ousted in a palace coup in 2019 following mass street protests.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has said it is preparing for an outflow of 860,000 people as a result of the conflict.

The UN has also warned the fighting could plunge an additional 2.5 million people into food insecurity within months, meaning 19 million people would need aid to stave off famine.

Its children's agency, UNICEF, said "the situation in Sudan has become fatal for a frighteningly large number of children".

Source: africanews.com

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Southeast Asia

 

YouTubers Provide Halal Meals for Muslim Students In The US

08 May 2023

Zeanaaima Mohd Yusof and Yasmin Natasha Hairul

PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian man working in a school in Omaha, Nebraska, in the US has embarked on providing halal food for Muslim students studying there, using the money he is receiving from creating content on YouTube.

Huzaifah Baharuddin, who has over 55,000 subscribers on YouTube, started the initiative a few days before the fasting month after a group of students aged 10 to 12 complained to him over the lack of halal food available.

They told him they could no longer stand just having nachos and peanut butter sandwiches as their daily meals in school.

“The cafeteria only serves non-halal meats like pork, and I’m not sure about the chicken (if it meets halal standards),” said Huzaifah, who works as a support staff at the school.

After discussing the matter with his wife, Samantha Brown Baharuddin, who hails from Omaha, they decided to make use of their YouTube revenue to purchase halal meals for the Muslim children, who come from various nations.

“I’m thankful we can use that revenue to help these students to some extent,” the 31-year-old Taiping native told FMT.

Known online as “Jai and Sam”, Huzaifah and Samantha also have over 237,000 followers on TikTok. Their videos involve their daily activities in the US, including cooking traditional Malay food.

Huzaifah moved to Omaha two years ago to marry Samantha, becoming one of the few Malaysians who were allowed to exit the country to get married at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he often misses his hometown, especially when Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri come around.

“I was never excited about Ramadan bazaars in the past, but now I’m quite envious (of Malaysians back home) because they get to go bazaars and almost everyone there is fasting. The vibe is different,” he said.

“With that said, in some bigger cities (in the US) like Texas, they do have ‘bukapuasa’ events because there are a lot of Muslims there.”

To nurse his homesickness, Huzaifah said he would often visit Dearborn, a city in the state of Michigan, where the majority of residents are Muslims.

“Almost all the workers in the supermarkets in Dearborn are Muslim,” he added.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

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HisyamTeh part of defence team in Siti Bainun's appeal

Monday, 08 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer DatukHisyamTehPohTeik will be in the team of lawyers representing RumahBonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali (pic) in her appeal in the abuse case of Down Syndrome teenager known as Bella.

High Court judge Justice Ahmad Bache was informed of the matter by lawyer Nur 'AminahtulMardiahMdNor during case management of the appeal here on Monday (May 8).

The defence also informed the court that it has filed a certificate of urgency to expedite the hearing of the appeal against the Sessions Court's decision that rejected Siti Bainun's stay application.

The certificate of urgency was filed together with the appeal in light of Siti Bainun's health conditions.

The court then fixed May 18 to hear the matter.

On May 3, Sessions Court judge IzralizamSanusi convicted and sentenced Siti Bainun to 12 years imprisonment after finding her guilty of two counts of neglect and abuse by causing Bella physical and emotional pain.

In his decision, Sessions Court judge Izralizam said Siti Bainun's defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt in the case.

Siti Bainun was sentenced to 10 years in jail for the offence of negligence and 12 years for abuse, and ordered for both sentences to run concurrently from the date of sentencing.

The court also ordered Siti Bainun to sign a five-year good behaviour bond with RM5,000 collateral in one surety as well as for the accused to serve a six-month community service with an aggregate 200 hours after completing her prison sentence.

The court also dismissed Siti Bainun's application for a stay of execution pending an appeal to the High Court.

In his dismissal, Izralizam said the defence had not shown any exceptional circumstances that could warrant a stay.

Source: thestar.com.my

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https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/05/08/hisyam-teh-part-of-defence-team-in-siti-bainun039s-appeal

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Indonesia president condemns attack on Asean officials delivering aid in Myanmar

Monday, 08 May 2023

JAKARTA, May 8 — Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo today condemned an attack in Myanmar on Asean officials delivering humanitarian aid, and called for an end to violence in the strife-torn country.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, did not provide details of the incident but said it would not deter efforts by Indonesia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to push for peace in Myanmar.

“Stop using force, stop violence because it’s the people who will be victims. This condition will not make anybody win,” he said, adding that Indonesia encourages all stakeholders to have a dialogue and find solutions.

It remained unclear who was behind the attack.

Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government, which is allied with the anti-junta militias, the People’s Defence Forces (PDF), said it was not aware of any attack.

The PDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Myanmar junta did not respond to a request for comment. — Reuters

Source: malaymail.com

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Info chief says Bersatu won’t table no-confidence vote in Parliament, tells Anwar to focus on economy instead of gossip

By ShahrinAizatNoorshahrizam

Monday, 08 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — PartiPribumiBersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) does not plan to put forward a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the next Dewan Rakyat sitting, its information chief DatukRazali Idris said today.

The senator also said that Anwar — who is also the finance minister — should pay less attention to rumour-mongers and concentrate on the country’s economic recovery.

“Neither Tan Sri MuhyiddinYassin nor Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin have raised any statement on any number.

“These numbers from sources are just small political gossip. Why does the prime minister want to be affected by these baseless claims?” Razali told reporters at Bersatu’sAidilfitri open house at Wangsa 118 here.

“I think that the prime minister has to focus on the current economic affairs,” he said.

Source: malaymail.com

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India

 

Manipur Violence Is a Setback for Modi’s Christian Outreach Moves in Kerala

Soroor Ahmed

The recent move by a section of the Church in not-so-polarised Kerala to soften their stance

towards the Bharatiya Janata Party can be seen in the light of a similar stand taken by the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party in Muslim-dominated Jammu and Kashmir in the past. In the Northeast states, where Christians form an overwhelming majority, regional political outfits did not hesitate in joining hands with the saffron party. This had happened even in Manipur, where Hindus and Christians are almost equal in number. Kukis, who are predominantly Christians, lent their support to the BJP in last year’s assembly election.

The proclivity of some Christian groups towards the BJP sounds somewhat puzzling for the co-religionists living in the rest of India, as they are repeatedly being targeted by Hindutva groups. Vandalisation of churches has not stopped and BJP governments in the states are making anti-conversion laws, yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy wooing Christians, especially in Kerala, where he on April 24 held a roadshow. This followed a visit to a church in Delhi on Easter Sunday (April 9).

With elections not in sight in Kerala, why has the BJP suddenly turned its attention towards the southern state? And that too when only about 2% of Christians voted for it in the 2021 assembly polls, against 10% in 2021? Some commentators are of the view that these exercises are being undertaken keeping in mind the G-20 Summit scheduled in September.

The other view is that the BJP is trying to drive a wedge between two minority groups – Muslims and Christians – who together form 45% of Kerala’s population. Though at present both the Left Democratic Front and Congress-led United Democratic Front are strong, the BJP has a long-term plan to emerge as a political alternative, as in West Bengal where many Marxist office-bearers and workers had crossed over to join it.

Apart from this, the BJP is trying to exploit the situation which has emerged following the weakening of the Kerala Congress, a regional outfit not to be confused with the Indian National Congress. Kerala Congress is considered to be the representative of Christians of the central part of the state. A couple of Christian leaders of the Kerala Congress on April 22 formed the National Progressive Party. Though the NPP founders deny that it is a pro-BJP outfit and claim that it espouses the cause of rubber-growing farmers in central Kerala, political observers are of the view that the new party may become a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.

But the bigger question is why after Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and even Manipur, some Christians in Kerala are showing their inclination towards the BJP? There may be some differences with Muslims in Kerala, but Christians elsewhere in India realise that in the long run, befriending the BJP may prove counter-productive.

Little to fear in Kerala, Northeast

At the very outset, it should be understood that there is no scope for Christians in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram to face a security threat from any extremist elements, as is the case in the rest of India. In the same way, Christians in Kerala, who are 18.4% of the population, have less to fear from outfits like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which are not very strong there – though the RSS is expanding its influence. Besides, Kerala has 26.5% Muslim population and 54.7% Hindu population.

So in the Northeast and Kerala, Christians in general do not fear attacks on their houses, churches, schools, seminaries etc. and nobody is questioning their eating habits. In these places, even hardened BJP leaders and workers belonging to this community eat beef. However, it is also true that the Enforcement Directorate is working overtime against some of their priests.

Anti-Christian violence in Odisha

This is not the case with Christians living in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha etc. They have not forgotten the Kandhamal (Odisha) riots of 2007-08. Officially, 39 Christians were killed, but unofficial figures vary between 100 and 500. At least 40 women were sexually assaulted, and 395 churches and 4,000 houses destroyed. In all, some 60,000-70,000 Christians were rendered homeless and thousands others were forced to convert to Hinduism.

In 2007-08, the BJP was not in power at the Centre, but was an alliance partner in the state. Just ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha and assembly polls in Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik broke an 11-year-long relationship with the BJP.

As there is hardly anything to fear in at least three Northeastern states and Kerala, Christians here do not mind treating the BJP as another political party. They know that there is no scope for witch-hunting and ‘gharwapsi’ (return to the Hindu fold), so why not give the BJP a chance? In the small Northeast states, which enjoy special category status, the ruling party always wants to befriend the party in power in Delhi and enjoy all sorts of grants and concessions.

Manipur developments

However, the situation in Manipur is somewhat different. The large-scale clashes between Meiteis and Kukis has acquired communal overtones, as the former are mostly Hindus and the latter Christians. The state has 41.39% Hindus, 41.29% Christians and 8.4% Muslims.

There are historical reasons behind the latest bloodbath between the two equally strong communities. As churches are being targeted in Manipur at a time when Modi is trying to woo Christians down in the south, the communal nature of rioting has come as a setback to his outreach. Christians across the country are alarmed over the recent developments in Manipur.

Kerala’s specific problem

A sizeable number of Keralites live abroad, especially in the Gulf countries. As there are several issues – for example the Palestine problem – on which Christians and Muslims may differ, it is bound to have its impact back in the state. Muslims and Christians are upwardly mobile communities in Kerala and they differ from their co-religionists in the rest of India. There are instances of inter-community marriages too, which some Christians, like the Sangh parivar, call love jihad.

Though the Indian Union Muslim League is an alliance partner of the Congress-led UDF, the voting patterns of Christians and Muslims are almost identical. In the 2021 assembly polls, 39% Christians as well as Muslims voted for the LDF, a slight rise from 2016. In the same way, 57% Christians and 58% Muslims voted for the UDF. Only 2% Christians voted for the BJP. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, over two-thirds Christians and Muslims voted for the UDF, which bagged 19 out of 20 seats. If these figures are taken into account, there is nothing for the BJP to cheer about in the near future.

If some Christians of Kerala are looking towards the BJP, they are just imitating the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party. This is obviously because the thinking of Muslims of the rest of India is not in consonance with that of Jammu and Kashmir, where Muslims are in majority.

If we go back to the pre-Partition period, we would observe that Mohammad Ali Jinnah played up the security card among Muslims more successfully in the states where the community was in a minority. In the North Western Frontier Province, where Muslims formed more than 90% of the population, the Congress formed the government under Dr Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan after the March 1946 election and remained in power till the creation of Pakistan. He and his younger brother Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi, continued to oppose NWFP’s inclusion in the new country.

Source: thewire.in

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https://thewire.in/communalism/manipur-violence-is-a-setback-for-modis-christian-outreach-moves-in-kerala

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Modi’s Backing of Inflammatory, Fictional ‘Kerala Story’ Highlights Pressing Need for Opposition Unity

Prem Shankar Jha

Barely a year after the release of The Kashmir Files, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is again using another grossly incendiary film, The Kerala Story, to fan hatred of Indian Muslims in order to consolidate the “Hindu” vote and stay in power next year.

The Kashmir Files was a hugely distorted and highly inflammatory depiction of the planned murders of prominent Kashmiri Pandits in the early months of 1990, which was designed to ethnically cleanse the valley of its Pandit community. The Kerala Story accuses Muslim organisations in Kerala of supplying 32,000 recruits to ISIS, the self-styled Islamic State terror group which briefly established control of territory in Syria and Iraq. Many of these, it claims, were women recruited to serve as the wives of IS fighters.

The brazen disregard for the truth displayed by both films reflects how completely the Bharatiya Janata Party, under Modi, has become a conduit for lies. For, one brief look at the actual Kashmir files – not the screen version but the Union home ministry’s papers – would reveal that the killing of selected Pandits in 1990 was planned and paid for, in weapons and cash, by the Pakistan army’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and carried out by a handful of self-styled mujahideen recruited by it from among the many thousand young Kashmiris who had joined the rebellion against India after the Gaukadal police firing upon civilians in Srinagar in January 1990 that took between 24 and 55 lives.

How opposed the average Kashmiri Muslim was to becoming a part of Pakistan, even after the 14 years insurgency of insurgency and draconian repression that followed, was revealed by two international opinion polls carried out in 2004 and 2009 . The first was conducted by MORI, Europe’s premier sampling survey organisation, and the second jointly by MORI with GALLUP. The 2004 poll showed that 61% of the population of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh wanted to remain a part of India and only 6% preferred Pakistan.

Similarly, the 2009 poll, which was initiated by Chatham House, Britain’s premier foreign policy think tank, and confined to the Kashmir valley, showed that even in the four worst-affected districts of the valley, only 2.5 to 7.5% of those surveyed preferred Pakistan to India.

That was the strength of the bond between Kashmiri Muslims and secular India that Modi fatally weakened within weeks of coming to power by breaking off all talks with the Hurriyat Conference, unleashing a reign of terror in the valley, gutting Article 370 of the constitution, and turning Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory, thereby disempowering Kashmiris within their own state. That is the bond that The Kashmir Files has weakened further by creating alienation not in Kashmir but in the Hindu population of the rest of India.

The Kerala Story is intended to do the same to the 1200 year-old bond between the Hindus, Christians and Muslims of Kerala. It is a measure of Prime Minister Modi’s insecurity about his party’s – and his own – future that he is now openly endorsing the grotesque lie cooked up by his bhakts and his propaganda machine that there was an exodus of Muslims from Kerala to join Daesh, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Here is what Modi said in a pre-poll speech at Ballari in Karnataka, on May 5:

“ In these changing times, the nature of terrorism is also changing …Bombs, rifles and pistols… (have been replaced by) a new type which undermines society from within, makes no sound. The Kerala Story is a film based on one such conspiracy in Kerala”.

What is the theme of The Kerala Story that Modi is asking the people of Karnataka and the rest of India to treat as gospel? It is that Muslim organisations in Kerala supplied 32,000 recruits to ISIS when it established its brief, blood -soaked control of territory around Raqqa, Deir-ez-Zor and Mosul in Syria and Iraq. Many of these, it claims, were sent to serve as wives for the IS fighters.

What is far more incendiary, the film depicts in graphic detail how many of them were Hindu girls who had been converted to Islam before being inveigled into going.

Several reviewers, who did not bother to do the 30 minutes of research on the internet that has gone into the writing of this article, have stated that this is “a serious issue lost to bad direction, and worse writing” (India Today). The Organiser, the de facto mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, has described the film as “a dangerous truth told with a calculated balance”.

But the entire film is such a bald-faced lie that to find the prime minister of India mouthing its praise and endorsing its contents in a public speech brings shame upon the entire country. Study after study, both in India and abroad, has noted the almost complete absence of Indian Muslims in the ranks of the IS. On December 20, 2017, Hansraj GangaramAhir, Modi’s minister of state for home affairs in his first stint as PM, reported to the Rajya Sabha that only 103 people who “sympathised” with ISIS had been arrested across 14 states by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), according to the data available with the government. The minister added: “Very few individuals [from India] have come to the notice of the central and state security agencies who (sic) have joined ISIS.”

Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state – reported a paltry 17 sympathisers, followed by Maharashtra (16), and Telangana (16). Kerala had reported only 14 and Karnataka a mere 8. What is more, these were individuals accused of being ’sympathisers’ – and who had not left India to join ISIS in the desert.

Two years later, at the start of Modi’s second term in June 2019, minister of state for home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy stated in a written reply to Lok Sabha that the NIA and state police forces had registered cases against ISIS operatives as sympathisers, and have arrested 155 accused from across the country.

Three years later, in a detailed study published by the Manohar Parrikar Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis at New Delhi, Adil Rasheed reported that until 2019 less than 100 migrants working in the Gulf were thought to have been lured into ISIS while 155 had been  arrested in India for having ISIS links.

“The mystery behind the very few Indian names appearing in the long list of foreign fighters in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” he wrote, “has puzzled strategic thinkers for some time now. This pleasant yet inexplicable surprise finds a historical precedent in the conspicuous absence of Indians from the legions of foreign ‘mujahideen’ fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s and from the Taliban and al Qaeda’s ‘Islamic Emirate’ of the 1990s”.

The figure of 32,000 recruits from India, and the assertion that a large number of them were women, is therefore absurd – all the more so because estimates by the European Union and the Central Intelligence Agency in the US have put the maximum strength of the IS at its height at around 30,000.

 What is more, 5,000 of them had been recruited in Europe and most of the remainder had come from Arab countries devastated by civil war after the so-called Arab Spring. The largest number had come from Libya, whose economy had been totally destroyed by the concerted Euro-American attack upon it in 2011. The idea that 32,000 Indian Muslims had also joined IS, whether as fighters or sex slaves, is therefore ludicrous.

That Modi, speaking in Hindi, should have gone to the length of endorsing such a dangerously incendiary film at Ballari in Karnataka before a large crowd whose grasp of the language is poor to non-existent, reveals that his intended audience was not Kannadigas, but the vastly larger masses of unemployed and desperate youth in the Hindi-speaking belt. These are the young Indians to whom he has so far been unable to provide jobs and a secure future, and who are now being primed to attack Muslims in order to retain their support for the BJP in the 2024 general election.

If there is a lesson the opposition needs to learn from Modi’s endorsement of a film that he has almost certainly not even seen the trailer of, it is that he will stop at absolutely nothing to come back to power in 2024 and is willing to plunge the country into communal violence, not to mention war with a nuclear armed neighbour, if that is what it will take. This is what has transformed the role of the opposition in the next general election from one of winning the maximum number of seats to saving India from disintegrating in a sea of blood.

It is, therefore, imperative that they put aside their political rivalries with each other and unite to meet the threat to India’s very existence that the BJP under Modi and Shah now poses to India’s very existence. The leaders of all the major opposition parties, including the Congress, are now fully aware of this. But, as the no-holds-barred struggle between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan, and AICC general secretary and former Delhi Congress party chief Ajay Maken’s incessant diatribes against the Aam Admi Party have shown, this realisation has yet to trickle down into the second rung of the Congress party’s leadership. 

The resistance at this level is understandable, for these are the leaders who manage party cadres at the ground level, and the surrender of some seats to other parties inevitably leads to demoralisation and defections of cadres in those constituencies. All opposition parties, and particularly the Congress, face this problem, but there is a solution to it.

This is for the opposition to agree to confine coalition building to the Lok Sabha elections and continue to fight each other in the Vidhan Sabha elections. This would not have been possible earlier, when Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections were held more or less simultaneously – as used to happen till the 1960s – but today presents no major problem.

By concentrating entirely upon national and international issues in his relentless campaigning during the past nine years, Modi has made it possible for the opposition to do the same. If it comes to an agreement over this, its victory in 2024 will be assured. 

Source: thewire.in

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https://thewire.in/communalism/narendra-modi-kerala-story-opposition-unity

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Indian civilian prisoner dies in Pakistan before repatriation

Still, 199 fishermen and one civilian shall be released on May 11 and will enter India on 12th, said PIPFPD official

May 07, 2023

KallolBhattacherjee

An Indian prisoner, who was to be repatriated next week, has died in a hospital in Karachi, civil society activists informed on May 7.

The deceased named Zulfiqar, was expected to enter India along with 199 fishermen who are to be released by Pakistan. India has been urging Pakistan to release the 631 fishermen and two civilian prisoners languishing in Pakistani jails despite completing their prison terms.

A representative of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) said that Zulfiqar, one of the two civilian prisoners on the list, was admitted to a hospital in Karachi where he passed away on Saturday.

According to PIPFPD, at least 654 Indian fishermen are in Pakistan’s jail and out of that, 631 have completed their sentences. In comparison, 83 Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails.

Despite the tragedy, the repatriation of the 199 fishermen and one civilian is expected to go ahead without difficulty next week. “They will be released on 11th and enter India on 12th,” said Jatin Desai of PIPFPD.

The fishermen and civilian prisoners have been part of India-Pakistan diplomacy for decades as straying fishermen are often arrested by the authorities on both sides due to a lack of understanding about maritime boundary.

Apart from the fishermen, India has been urging Pakistan to provide consular access and release 22 civilian prisoners who have completed sentences but continue to remain in jail.

India had reiterated this point on January 1 while exchanging the list of civilian prisoners and fishermen last January 1. Every year, both sides exchange the list of such prisoners on January 1 and July 1, according to a 2008 agreement.

Source: thehindu.com

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-civilian-prisoner-dies-in-pakistan-before-repatriation/article66824282.ece

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