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Islamic World News ( 6 Oct 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistani Muslim Professor Shoots Dead Fellow Pakistani Ahmadi Academic After The Two Argued About Their Different Religions

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Oct 2020

Pakistani Muslim Professor Shoots Dead Fellow Pakistani Ahmadi Academic After The Two Argued About Their Different Religions


•Pakistani Muslim Professor Shoots Dead Fellow Pakistani Ahmadi Academic After The Two Argued About Their Different Religions

•Uttar Pradesh Police Arrested Four People Suspected To Have Links with PFI, an Alleged Islamic Radical Group, on Way to Hathras

•Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, First Muslim To Ever Present A Papal Encyclical Praises ‘Fratelli Tutti’

•UK: Cops ‘May Never Know’ Why 14-Year-Old Convert to Islam Turned to Terror

•Indonesian Man Faces 6 Years in Prison For Saying Mosque Blared Music In Tiktok Video

•Keep Low Profile on Afghanistan, As Pakistan Holds Key to War and Peace — Abdullah to Modi

•Afghan Inmate Languishing in Guantanamo with No Charges while Taliban Freed of Life Sentence

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




•Speakers at the Women-Only Seminar Asked Govt. To Punish Rapists under Sharia Laws

•PM’s aide lashes out at Nawaz for having ‘links with India’



•ED May Probe Amnesty Int'l amid Charges of 'Funding from Islamic Nations for Caste-based' Hathras Stir

•AMU Students Team, Led By Ayesha Samdani, Win Judges Choice Award in NASA Space App Challenge


 North America

•CAIR-SFBA: Muslim, Jewish Organizations Condemn San Ramon Mayoral Candidate Sanat Sethy’s Islamophobia

•CAIR Survey Indicates High Turnout of Muslim Voters, 71 Percent Support for Joe Biden



•Katie Hopkins issues grovelling apology to mosque over 'inaccurate' police attack post

•Katie Hopkins apologises to London mosque for linking it to police attack

•Trial opens for failed Islamic State attack on French church


 Southeast Asia

•Malaysian Muslim MP unrepentant over 'corrupted Bible' claim

•Malaysian Islamic party PAS urges Malay-Muslim unity at next general election

•Federal Court Postpones Hearing of Selangor Woman’s Appeal for Declaration as Non-Muslim Due To Covid-19


 South Asia

•Afghans should Not Let ‘Opportunity for Peace Slip Away’: Khalilzad

•Ghani Meets Afghan Negotiators in Doha

•Suicide car bomb targets Afghan governor, kills 8

•Nearly two decades after US invasion, Afghans fear Taliban return

•Taliban want an Islamic system in Afghanistan, reveals spokesperson


 New Zealand

•Hate Crimes against Muslims Spiked After the Mosque Attacks, And Ardern Promises to Make Such Abuse Illegal



•Turkey Decries ‘Double Standard’ After Canada Halts Drone Tech Sales

•1,000 Houthis killed in September fighting: Yemen Defense Ministry

•Israel must stand with little Armenia against Turkish Jihad

•Armenia and Azerbaijan clash as Iran works on peace plan

•Spokesman: Iran to Start Arms Deals after End of UN Embargoes

•IRGC Seeding Clouds by Iranian Version of US-Made RQ-170 Drone

•Erdogan on collision course with NATO over Nagorno-Karabakh war


 Arab World

•G20 Riyadh: More Than 500 Leaders to Take Part in Interfaith Forum

•US Consul General Meets OIC Chief in Jeddah

•Priority for Saudi Citizens in IT-Related Jobs

•Saudi history buff sells jewelry to help finance heritage exhibition dream

•Saudi Arabia launches campaign bid to host 2030 Asian Games in Riyadh

•Saudi Education Ministry weighs distance learning with return to classroom

•Saudi Arabia’s Al-Manzalawi elected to UN’s Third Committee



•Mali: Over A Hundred Islamic Extremists Freed

•Rise and rise of non-interest (Islamic) banking


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Pakistani Muslim Professor Shoots Dead Fellow Pakistani Ahmadi Academic After The Two Argued About Their Different Religions

By Clare Mccarthy

5 October 2020


Pakistani Muslim Professor Shoots Dead Fellow Pakistani Ahmadi Academic After The Two Argued About Their Different Religions


A Pakistani Muslim professor shot and killed another professor from the Ahmadi minority in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday. 

Police said the shooting happened a day after the two allegedly had a heated discussion over a religious matter.

The attacker, identified as Professor Farooq Maad, and another gunman opened fire on the car of Professor Naeem Khattak as he was driving to his college, according to police official Siraj Ahmad.

Professor Khattak belonged to the minority Ahmadi faith, which was established in the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers believe was a prophet.

Police said Khattak was killed by a fellow professor and another man a day after they had a verbal brawl over religious issues.

The victim and the attacker worked at different colleges.

Saleem Uddin, a spokesman for Pakistan's Ahmadi community, said Khattak had completed his doctorate in Zoology and was facing problems because of his faith.

In a statement, he said Khattak had received threats and he demanded protection for people belonging to their community.

'The government has failed in providing protection to Ahmadis,' he said.

Without directly naming the military, he urged state institutions to ensure the protection of Ahmadis. 

Pakistan's Parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974, and they have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists, drawing condemnation from domestic and international human right groups.

Homes and places of worship of Ahmadis have been attacked by Sunni militants who consider them heretics.

Peshawar is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province bordering Afghanistan and it has a strong presence of majority Sunni Muslims and extremists.

Attacks on the country's minorities, including Christians and Hindus, have increased since 2018, when the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan came into power, although Khan has repeatedly promised to safeguard their basic rights.



Uttar Pradesh Police Arrested Four People Suspected To Have Links with PFI, an Alleged Islamic Radical Group, on Way to Hathras


October 06, 2020


Police personnel at Hathras | Twitter handle of ANI


Uttar Pradesh Police said they have arrested four people suspected to have links with the Popular Front of India, an alleged Islamic radical group, and its affiliate in Mathura when they were on their way to Hathras district.

The PFI has been accused of funding protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act across the country earlier this year, and the UP police had sought a ban on the outfit.

Hathras has been in the news following the death of a 19-year-old dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14 in a village in the district. And her cremation at night, allegedly without the parents' consent, has triggered an outrage.

Police said the four men with PFI links were taken into custody at Math toll plaza in Mathura Monday after a tip that suspicious people were heading to Hathras from Delhi.

The four were in a car and identified themselves as Atiq-ur Rehman from Muzaffarnagar, Siddique from Malappuram, Masood Ahmed from Bahraich and Alam from Rampur, they said. Their mobile phones, laptop computer and some literature, which could have an impact on peace and order, were seized, officials said.

During interrogation, it came to light that they had links with PFI and its associate organisation Campus Front of India, police said.

Also on Monday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath referred to “recent incidents” and said “anarchist elements” are trying to trigger communal and caste violence in the state.



Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, First Muslim To Ever Present A Papal Encyclical Praises ‘Fratelli Tutti’

October 05, 2020


Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, secretary general of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, embraces Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaida during a press conference for the release of Pope Francis' new encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship," in the synod hall at the Vatican Oct. 4, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, secretary general of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, embraces Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaida during a press conference for the release of Pope Francis' new encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship," in the synod hall at the Vatican Oct. 4, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“I was really very moved when I first read Pope Francis’s message. I felt that the pope is representing me in every word, in everything he said,” Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salem, a Muslim, told America in an interview after speaking at the Vatican presentation of the pope’s new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” on Oct. 4.

He is the first Muslim ever to present a papal encyclical. Advisor to the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, he is now secretary general of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity set up to promote that historic document which the two religious leaders signed in Abu Dhabi on Feb. 4, 2019.

He views the pope’s encyclical as “the guide to putting into practice the Human Fraternity document,” and he considers the latter as “the constitution” for fostering Christian-Muslim relations. “I see both documents as a very strong barrier against hatred and racism, and evil in general,” he said. “The real Islam and the real Christianity is against intolerance and these negative forces,” he stated.

He said, “The thing that really impressed me is his talk about human dignity, when addressing the causes of migration and the displacement of people, he said that human dignity was trampled upon, lost at the border between the developed world [Europe] and the Third World.”

The judge told America, “When El Baba [the Arabic name for the pope] invited me at the end of July to participate in the presentation of the encyclical, he sent me the text in Arabic. And when I first read it, I saw it is an accurate plan for the world’s leaders. He really wants to achieve human fraternity.”

He revealed that he then asked El Baba “if I could send the message from him to the Grand Imam and he agreed.” He said that “when the Grand Imam read it, he commented that Pope Francis is a man of peace in a most excellent way, and he is living for people and with people.”

“The friendship between El Baba and the Grand Imam is something exceptional, something that has not happened in modern history."

On Sunday, the Grand Imam publicly welcomed the pope’s encyclical in a message in Arabic via twitter, saying: “My brother, Pope Francis’s message, Fratelli Tutti, is an extension of the Document on Human Fraternity, and reveals a global reality in which the vulnerable and marginalized pay the price for unstable positions and decisions… It is a message that is directed to people of good will, whose consciences are alive and restores conscience to humanity.”

Judge Abdel Salam told America, “The friendship between El Baba and the Grand Imam is something exceptional, something that has not happened in modern history. It’s a chance to get their two religions closer, to bring the followers of their religions closer.”

He said, “The friendship is not only for outward appearance, it’s real. They make phone calls on birthdays and festival-days. They are making history.”

The judge accompanied the Grand Imam at his meetings with El Baba and was so impressed at what he witnessed that he has written a book on their friendship that will soon be released in Arabic, English and Italian.

He was one of the five panelists that presented the encyclical in the Vatican’s synod hall last Sunday. The other panelists were Cardinals Pietro Parolin, secretary of state, and Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue, Professors Anna Rowlands, Durham University (United Kingdom) and Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant’Egidio community.

Addressing the audience—all wearing masks—that included the Superior General of the Jesuits, Arturo Sosa, Cardinal Michael Czerny and Monsignor Yoannis Lazi Ghaid, a member of the Higher Committee, the judge said, “What we are witnessing in the Vatican, starting with its highest authority, proves that, all things considered, we are moving in the right direction and that the creative and foundational thought of a new vision is heading towards higher horizons in time and space.”

He recalled that after signing the “Document on Human Fraternity,” the pope “continued his journey” and understood that “the nations’ demand for happiness requires a commitment that is difficult to define because of the various sectors involved, the interests and policies at stake and the contrasts between states and peoples, all of which are problems that put consciences and wills to the test.” Reflecting on all this, he said, “the pope has written clear and courageous words that fear only God, to describe the tragedies of weak, tired and desperate people, and to prescribe the cure for this evil that is difficult to heal, and has hit our modern civilisation to death.”

He described the encyclical as “an appeal to concord in a world in discord, as well as a clear message in favour of both individual and collective harmony with the laws of the universe, the world and life.”

Speaking “as a young Muslim scholar of Shari'a [law], Islam and its sciences,” he said, “I find myself—with much love and enthusiasm—in agreement with the pope, and I share every word he has written in the encyclical,” and “I follow, with satisfaction and hope, all his proposals put forward in a spirit of concern for the rebirth of human fraternity.”

He noted that “Pope Francis warns, in no uncertain terms, against ideologies imbued with selfishness and the loss of social sense, which operate behind the mask of presumed national interests, at the same time, he admonishes against the dangers of globalisation and its consequences, which may have brought us closer together, but will certainly not make us brothers and sisters.”

He applauded Francis’ “harsh” criticism of “the end of historical consciousness,” with “the serious infiltration of this theory in our cultures.” He applauded him too “when he reprimands against this new form of colonialism that can manipulate extremely important and sensitive concepts, such as democracy, freedom, justice and unity, using them as a means of control, domination and arrogance, emptying them of their meaning, sometimes even to justify its actions.”

He praised Francis discourse about “human rights, when he highlights the new forms of injustice and exploitation of man and the denial of his dignity, injustice against women, and the slavery-like conditions that so many people suffer today.” Moreover, he said, Francis “rightly considers that persecution for religious or ethnic reasons, and other violations of human dignity are aspects of a ‘third world war fought piecemeal.’”

He praised Francis for his words about “the root causes of migration and displacement” and the loss of human dignity at the border between Europe and the Third World.

He agreed when, in the light of the pandemic and other recent tragedies, the pope asked “that we rethink our lifestyles and the organisation of our societies.”

The judge said he is “convinced” the encyclical and the Document on Human Fraternity “will restart the train of history that had stopped at the station of this world order, and was rooted in unreasonableness, injustice, pride and colonial violence.” He hopes these texts “can be the basis, or the most important factor for the birth of a new world order, that relies on the sacredness of dignity and human rights—as the pope said—not on contempt, slavery and the exploitation of man.” He hopes the encyclical “will reach the hands of politicians and decision-makers and enlighten them.”

Speaking as secretary-general, he announced that the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity will convene “a forum for 100 young people from different parts of the world” for study days on the encyclical in Rome, Abu Dhabi and Cair, so that “it will reach young people of different religions and ethnicities.”

He appealed to the followers of both religions “to support each other on the path of fraternity, mutual knowledge and collaboration” and said, “We are in favour of uniting religious energies to tackle discrimination, racism, and hatred.” He added, “At the same time, we strive for the consolidation of our own doctrine, deepening our own specific aspects and avoiding disunity or disintegration” which is “the goal of every person faithful to his or her religion. Universal fraternity remains—yesterday, today and tomorrow—an absolute necessity for the whole world, and is indispensable for salvation. Because it will give life to a balanced and happy civilization, as it centres on man regardless of skin colour, sex, language and religion.”

He concluded by addressing Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar and said “your efforts and endeavours in favour of human coexistence and world fraternity” that culminated in the Document on Human Fraternity last year in Abu Dhabi “represent a turning point in the Arab and Muslim world, and a ray of light for the whole world.”



UK: Cops ‘May Never Know’ Why 14-Year-Old Convert to Islam Turned to Terror

Tue Oct 6, 2020

Robert Spencer

According to the UK’s Daily Echo last week, “a 14-year-old boy developed extreme views influenced by the so-called Islamic State and attempted to make homemade bombs during the coronavirus lockdown.” Apparently the precocious lad had “filmed homemade videos telling viewers how he would ‘carry out Jihad’ and ‘become a martyr’, as well as creating notes on his iPhone which said ‘women are tools, an object to be used… a sex slave.’” Faced with all this, Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC scratched her head. She said that the boy “had plainly absorbed this offensive and hateful type of message from somewhere… but it is quite possible that we will never know from precisely where. The important point is that he seems to have responded to it and, in his own youthful way, to have embraced it.”

Well, yes, that is important, but why is it not also important to know where he picked up these ideas? Is it because it would be impossible to find out what turned him in this direction, or because it would be too inconvenient for British authorities to find out?

It is virtually certain that no one has investigated what is being taught at the mosque this young man attended, or questioned those who converted him to Islam. The British establishment doesn’t want to face the possibility that this “extremism” is widespread and deeply rooted in mosques in Britain, precisely because the “extremists” present themselves as the exponents of authentic Islam. And so yes indeed, we may never know where this boy got these ideas, and so many others will also get the same ideas from the same place, while British officials pretend that all is well or turn the other way for fear of appearing “Islamophobic.”

The consequences of this denial and willful ignorance could be lethal. Whyte “told the jury how the defendant had added ‘rusty screws’ and ‘shrapnel’ to his homemade bottle bombs – the result of which had made burn marks in his wardrobe.” She explained: “He had researched how to make devices which were designed to harm or kill other people and had evidently been experimenting with the idea of using shrapnel in such devices.”

What’s more, “he had made a series of videos about the construction of basic devices using the context of his faith and beliefs. He made a video setting out his wish to be a martyr, again, we say, influenced by propaganda from Islamic State.” Among the notes on his phone was this: “The extinction of the western race and ethnic cleansing of the colonised land stolen by the western plague.”

Why isn’t it important to know where this kid got the idea that his new religion commanded him to commit treason and mass murder? And he is by no means the only one. Recently, another convert to Islam in Texas, Jaylyn Christopher Molina, wrote: “Let it be clear, I am against America. America is my enemy.”

Molina has been charged with conspiring with another American, Kristopher Sean Matthews (pictured above) of Elgin, South Carolina, to commit “Netflix worthy” terror attacks at Trump Tower and the New York Stock Exchange, which they thought would gain them “rock star status.”

Post-conversion, Molina began calling himself “Abdur Rahim” and Matthews went by “Ali Jibreel.” They both pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), discussed traveling to Syria to join up with the jihad group, and even tried to make contact with an ISIS operative who would help them get there. Molina pursued his jihad online, posting instructions on how to train to handle an AK-47, as well as directions on how to build a bomb.

This raises yet again the question that has come up many times before, but has never been answered: why do so many converts to Islam come to hate their own country? Nor are Matthews and Molina by any means the first American converted to Islam to try to join ISIS. Spc. Hasan Edmonds, a Muslim member of the U.S. Army National Guard, was arrested in 2015 at Chicago’s Midway Airport; he had been planning to join the Islamic State. His cousin, Jonas “Yunus” Edmonds, was arrested as well. They had allegedly been plotting a jihad attack against a U.S. military facility – making Hasan Edmonds the latest in a long line of people who convert to Islam and then turn traitor.

Is it just a coincidence that so many converts to Islam come to regard the country in which they were born and raised, the land of the families and forefathers, as an enemy? Or is there some connection?

Other American converts to Islam who have turned traitor include Sgt. Hasan Akbar, an American engineer from the 101st Airborne Division, who murdered Captain Christopher Scott Seifert, Major Gregory Stone, and wounded fifteen others in a grenade and small-arms attack in northern Kuwait on March 22, 2003. As he committed his murders, he yelled: “You guys are coming into our countries, and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children.”

Yet Akbar was not Iraqi or Kuwaiti. He was an American from Los Angeles. But when he became a Muslim, any allegiance he may have had to America was gone. Likewise al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn and the Marin County Mujahid, John Walker Lindh, both of whom converted to Islam and ended up waging war against the country of their birth, on behalf of its enemies.

All the major Muslim organizations in the U.S. condemn ISIS, as do all the major Muslim organizations in Britain. So why, when the 14-year old in Britain and Jaylyn Molina and Kristopher Matthews in the U.S. converted to Islam, did they fall prey to its supposedly twisted and hijacked understanding of Islam? Why wasn’t the peaceful, tolerant, true Islam that everyone assumes converts to Islam are taught in mosques in the U.K. and U.S. able to withstand challenge from the supposedly un-Islamic vision of ISIS? Why aren’t the mosques they attended being investigated?

Why am I the only person in the country asking these questions?



Indonesian man faces 6 years in prison for saying mosque blared music in TikTok video

Oct 6, 2020

Police in Bandung have arrested a man over an alleged blasphemous TikTok video, in which the suspect allegedly mocked a mosque in the West Java capital.

In the video, which was uploaded by vlogger Kenneth William Saputra on his TikTok account, the suspect walked in front of a mosque before pointing out to the camera that the house of worship was inappropriately blaring some kind of dance music.

“I was going for a walk and then I heard this [music]. It turned out it’s coming from there (the mosque). Whoever is playing this music really has no morals,” Kenneth said in the video.

In a follow up video, Kenneth admitted that the mosque did not actually play music through a speaker and that he added the audio track himself. He fended off accusations of racism and blasphemy from other TikTok users, maintaining that he merely wanted to “educate” his audience that playing music through a mosque is inappropriate.

Police yesterday announced Kenneth’s arrest for blasphemy under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which could see him sentenced to six years in prison if found guilty.

Kenneth has apologized for his video and said that he only made it for his amusement.

Blasphemy is a serious crime in Indonesia, but vague wordings in its legislation has made it prone to be used as a political tool and to persecute religious minorities in recent years. Arguably the most infamous blasphemy conviction was given to former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 simply for warning the public not to trust officials who quote the Quran to convince them not to vote for non-Muslim politicians.



Keep low profile on Afghanistan, as Pakistan holds key to war and peace — Abdullah to Modi

Pakistan is key to get the stalled Afghan-Taliban talks back on keel. PM Modi knows India must bide its time.


6 October, 2020

The winds of the Hindu Kush are astir once again with the premeditated actions of a variety of actors from a variety of nationalities attempting to end the strife and bring peace back to Afghanistan.

The main action is taking place in Doha, Qatar, where talks between the Afghan government delegation and the Taliban have been stalled for 22 days since they were launched with much fanfare on 12 September. The two sides haven’t even begun direct talks with each other. They can’t even seem to agree on a common agenda – will an Islamic Republic of Afghanistan mean that all its citizens will be equal, or will some be more equal than others?

In fact, these past few hours and days, the action has shifted out of Kabul – besides Doha, to Islamabad, Delhi and the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

On Monday afternoon, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani landed in Doha with a high-powered delegation that includes first vice-president Amrullah Saleh, acting foreign minister Hanif Atmar and national security advisor Hamdullah Mohib.

But officials said Ghani would not talk to the Taliban directly because of the recent string of terror attacks across Afghanistan. In Nangarhar Saturday, a car bomb blast killed 16 people. In Laghman province Monday, hours before Ghani’s plane landed in Doha, the governor survived a suicide attack, but eight people were killed.

Doha to Delhi via Dushanbe

Also on Monday, US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad was in Dushanbe to meet Tajikistan President Emomali Rahman and get his support on the evolving peace negotiations in Doha.

Today, Afghanistan’s chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah is arriving in Delhi. He is expected to brief the Indian leadership on the Doha talks, tell Delhi to continue with its patient support of peace in Afghanistan and to explain that the Taliban may have been anathema so far, but they now need to be dealt with.

Basically, Abdullah would like India to be a little more enthusiastic about the ongoing Doha negotiations, not take the hands-off attitude it has taken so far but not do anything to upset it either.

Kabul would like India to continue to behave like the strong, silent type it has been these past so many years – not upset the apple cart, especially with Pakistan once again looming large on the horizon. Continue to help out with project aid, like building dams and schools – but at least in the short run, keep a low profile.

Pakistan matters

Significantly, Abdullah was in Islamabad last week to meet Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Prime Minister Imran Khan and others – perhaps his most important port of call in recent weeks. Certainly, this was an attempt to persuade the Pakistani government to intervene in a positive way in the stalled Afghan peace process in Doha.

Abdullah knows, as do Ghani and the rest of Afghanistan, that if the Taliban is back to the negotiating table after so many years, it is the Pakistanis who have nudged them. That Pakistan holds all the major cards.

Certainly, the realisation that Afghanistan is caught between a huge boulder and a hard place is terribly difficult to swallow. Who wants to be told, after 19 years of fighting the Taliban, that you may soon have no option but to have them sit on the throne of Kabul? That your election may really be worth a piece of straw? That another country – Pakistan – has its finger on both war and peace?

And yet the Afghans are braver than most. They won’t give up. Hours before he left for Kuwait and Doha, Ghani told a crowd in Paktika province that the Taliban should provide a plan for peace, not slogans. NSA Hamdullah Mohib told a Pashto TV anchor: “We have made promises to the people…If Pakistan bombs our soil, we will respond to it. We won’t break our promise.” And foreign minister Hanif Atmar told a gathering of ambassadors in Kabul that the Taliban had failed to adhere to their commitments to stop the violence despite thousands of Taliban prisoners released in exchange.

Taliban’s demands

So, why are the talks stalled in Doha? According to Tolo News, both sides are in agreement on 18 out of 20 points, but the two that remain are fundamental to the nature of the future state. Namely, what is the foundational religious jurisprudence for the talks, and therefore of the Afghan state? And, will the US-Taliban deal signed in February this year be the “overarching authority” under which the peace negotiations can take place?

It seems that the Taliban want the Hanafi school of Islam to be the only religious guidelines. Tolo News reports the Afghan government team has conceded to this, but wants Shia personal law as well as the laws of other religious minorities to be respected as well.

As for the Taliban also insisting on its deal with the US to act as the mother agreement for talks, the Afghan government team has suggested a variety of alternative options, including a “loya jirga”, or a gathering of elected Afghans and civil society.

Delhi understands the message

Certainly, the Doha talks need to get back to the table, sooner than later. A resolution to the strife in Afghanistan is the most important story for the next few years, especially because it impacts India in so many ways. Abdullah’s message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have India lie low for the moment, while Pakistan and the US brave the limelight, is sure to be understood in the right spirit.

As Deng Xiaoping said, hide your light and bide your time – a piece of Chinese advice New Delhi would gladly keep close to its heart at this moment. Certainly, Pakistan, which holds the aces in a future role for the Taliban, will not want Delhi to rear its head. For the same reasons, perhaps the US, with which India has a great and burgeoning relationship, will want Delhi to stay down.

Abdullah doesn’t need to spell it out to PM Modi – he understands. Nor does Abdullah need to tell the PM that Kabul and Delhi will continue with their special relationship, even if it’s behind the purdah.

Abdullah’s visit to Delhi is a small turn in the wheels of history. But it signifies the consolidation of an old bond that is special, and at the risk of a cliché, can only grow from strength to strength.



Afghan Inmate Languishing in Guantanamo with No Charges while Taliban Freed of Life Sentence

By Haroon Asadullah

Monday, 05 Oct 2020

I, the ISN 3148, am sitting in Guantánamo, as I hear about the Afghan government’s promise to release a hundred more prisoners. The news report said they would be released very soon, over the next few days. The idea is that releasing prisoners helps bring peace in the country, as both the Afghan government and the Taliban sit together to determine a political settlement in the country.

It is a fair judgment that visions to bring peace and solidarity in the country despite the odds, where Afghan could follow their dreams with complete peace of mind. But, this move leaves me with thoughts in my head, as I have been languishing behind the bars with no charges for 13 years.

It was Dwight D. Eisenhower, overall Allied commander in the battle against the Nazis and later the Republican U.S. president, who said: “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”  If a Republican American military man could see this more than half a century ago, then surely so can the rest of us. Perhaps even the current Republican American president can see it, though he dodged the Vietnam War and said that people who got killed fighting Hitler were “losers”.

We desperately need peace in Afghanistan, after all these years of war. But in the end, there can be no peace without justice. It is worth remembering that President Eisenhower also said: “The world no longer has a choice between force and law; if civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law.” So I strongly support the release of prisoners, as it is required by international law – the Geneva Conventions, agreed by almost every country in the world in the wake of World War II, dictate that prisoners should be released at the earliest opportunity.

But it does make me feel lonely as I sit in my cell, wondering why the U.S. does not apply the rule to me? I am a nobody, one of 220 Afghan detainees held here in Guantánamo who even the U.S. says were insignificant. These men have gone home, but I remain here alone. It makes no sense when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells President Ashraf Ghani he must release hundreds of Taliban and tells the Taliban they must release their government prisoners if the U.S. is unwilling to release a little person like me.

It may be the sunny Caribbean, yet justice is in a deep freeze here in Guantánamo. I am allowed to challenge my detention in an American court, yet not a single person has been ordered released by the American courts since this place opened in February 2002. I am allowed a “Periodic Review Board” which decides whether the mightiest nation on earth should feel threatened by me. It is meaningless, as President Trump decreed on Twitter that there should be no more releases from this prison.

In truth, I am no threat to the U.S. – I have no room in my heart for hatred, no matter how badly I have been treated, and I feel nothing but gratitude for the American lawyers who represent me for nothing. However, my very presence here is a threat to peace, because it is an injustice.

If we are to have peace in Afghanistan, it must be a peace that is real. It must be peace for Afghans, and between all Afghans. In the end, it means that the foreigners must leave, though if the U.S. wants to reach a lasting peace, they are welcome to give money for reconstruction. But they should not devote their money to military weapons.

This is what I want most for my country and for my daughter. She is now thirteen years old – celebrating her birthday without me every year I have been held without trial in this awful place. What I want most for her is an education, an opportunity. She wants to be a doctor, so she can help the unfortunate people of Afghanistan who have suffered all these years.

This is where we should spend our money. After all, President Eisenhower also said: “If the money spent on armaments was spent on education, there would be no more wars.”




Speakers at the Women-Only Seminar Asked Govt. To Punish Rapists under Sharia Laws

October 6, 2020

MANSEHRA: The speakers at the women-only seminar on Monday asked the government to ban obscene content on the social media and punish the rapists under the Sharia laws to bring to an end to the rising rape cases.

“One cannot believe that in a Muslim society the minor girls are falling prey to the rapists who mostly escape the justice because of the flaws in the existing system,” Aftab Shabbir, former MPA of Jamaat-e-Islami told the seminar. The Jamaat-e-Islami Women Wing had organized the seminar at Al-Markaz-i-Islami.

A large number of doctors, lawyers and educationists attended the seminar. Most of the speakers sought Islamic punishments for rapists to make them an example for others. “If the government is serious to bring an end rape cases then it should enforce Sharia laws dealing with such heinous crimes,” said Ms Maria. She urged the women to wear hijab and avoid the western culture.

Dr Perveen Saif said the government should ensure that obscene material was not shared on the social media. “If the government wants to make the society safer, it should remove obscene material from the social media,” she said. An educationist said that if those arrested in rape cases were punished under the Islamic laws the rape cases would drastically reduce in the society.



PM’s aide lashes out at Nawaz for having ‘links with India’

Mansoor Malik

04 Oct 2020

LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill says PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is targeting the Army because it questioned him for what he called his anti-state activities in league with Indian premier Narendra Modi and his “business partnership” with Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal, whom he secretly met in Murree.

Mr Gill alleged that Mr Sharif and his government were not immediately inclined to announce that Pakistan had apprehended Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. “[Retired] Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa made frantic efforts to convince the Nawaz Sharif government to announce Jadhav’s arrest because such an announcement by the Army would have been seen as if Pakistan’s political government didn’t own it,” he said.

Addressing Mr Sharif, the SAPM said: “When you will commit such anti-Pakistan activities, questions will be asked and answers be sought.”

At a press conference targeting Mr Sharif for his “love and sympathies” with Indian leadership here on Saturday, Dr Gill said the former prime minister always came in conflict with the Army leadership when it asked him about his “secret business deals” with the country’s arch-enemy India and other anti-state activities.

“Nawaz Sharif began his relationship with Indian leadership and businessmen to earn quick bucks but eventually got driven into it and landed in the enemy’s land to work in his business partners’ interest,” he alleged.

Gill says ex-PM was reluctant to announce Jadhav’s arrest and had to be persuaded by Saleem Bajwa

Quoting from Indian journalist Barkha Dutt’s book that Mr Sharif held a secret meeting with Mr Modi in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and Pakistani diplomats’ statements that the then PM directed them not to issue any statement against India, Dr Gill said Mr Sharif held secret one-on-one meetings with Mr Modi and Mr Jindal while keeping the defence institutions at bay — in sheer violation of state protocols being observed the world over.

When the defence institutions asked questions, he said, Mr Sharif started targeting and maligning them and tried to take refuge under the slogan of democracy.

Explaining why the former PM always encountered conflict with the Army, Dr Gill said Mr Sharif always wanted to become an “Ameer-ul-Momineen” to enjoy absolute power while allowing no one to look into his shady deals with the anti-Pakistan state. He said Mr Sharif faced conflict with the Army in 1993 followed by conflict with Gen Pervez Musharraf, Gen Raheel Sharif and now with Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The armed forces were guarantor of peace in Pakistan, he said and added that intelligence agencies had recently cracked down on an Indian network that was planning to kill Sunni and Shia leadership to fan sectarian violence in the country.

India always wanted to weaken Pakistan Army and attacked it to disintegrate Pakistan as it did in 1971, he said, adding that Indian PM Modi had confessed to it in Dhaka.

Referring to Mr Sharif’s act of welcoming him in Lahore and saying him goodbye at Lahore airport, Dr Gill said Mr Modi told the world that he wanted to engage with Pakistan but the latter was dragging its feet.

Alleging that Mr Sharif always spoke lies, Dr Gill advised him to stop targeting the armed forces. “Don’t do ‘dirty politics’ but target Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party if you have guts,” he asserted. “Be a man and come in direct conflict with PM Khan and political leadership as Mr Khan faced you during his 22-year-long political struggle in the country.”

The SAPM said the PML-N had become a “conspiracy hatching party” and many of its leaders did not want to become part of the party’s latest narrative promoted by Mr Sharif as they were loyal to Pakistan and its state institutions.

He said Mr Sharif started raising the slogan of democracy and attacking state institutions when he found himself caught for his misdeeds. He also chided the former premier for revealing state secrets about atomic bombs and cruise missiles in the media — in violation of his oath as prime minister.

He said the government knew that Mr Sharif was visiting an embassy in London and meeting some people these days and told Mr Sharif, “stop disgracing Pakistan”.

Dr Gill said democratic governments also made mistakes and added that the PTI would readily own its failures and would not shift the burden of responsibility to the armed forces.

He stressed that Mr Sharif should also stop targeting armed forces and do politics in true sense of the word.

Answering a question, the SAPM said the opposition was free to hold protests and public meetings without taking the law into their own hands. However, allowing an absconder and proclaimed offender to make speeches while sitting abroad was a “delicate situation”.

He said Pemra had imposed restriction on airing Mr Sharif’s speeches on the complaint of a lawyer and added that the people would take Mr Sharif to task on social media as they had done with MQM founder Altaf Hussain.

Calling Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif a “pathetic” leader, Dr Gill said the latter had himself withdrawn his bail extension application and would probably file the application again while taking different ground.

Answering another question, the SAPM said some 32 PML-N MPAs were in contact with him when he was serving in Punjab.




ED May Probe Amnesty Int'l Amid Charges of 'Funding from Islamic Nations for Caste-based' Hathras Stir

OCTOBER 6, 2020

The Enforcement Directorate has now swung into action in Hathras rape case as allegations point at 'funding from Islamic countries to incite caste-based violence' in the wake of widespread protests.

According to sources in the agency, the ED is probing the charges mentioned in the FIR filed by Uttar Pradesh police and may soon take over the investigation and file a money laundering case. The directorate will also probe alleged links to Amnesty International as investigation by UP police hint at "international conspiracy" to defame the Yogi Adityanath government in state and Narendra Modi-led government in Centre.

Sources in the government last week said that ED is investigating against a private company linked to NGO Amnesty International India Foundation for allegedly receiving dubious export proceeds worth over Rs 51 crore.

The human rights NGO had announced it was halting all its activities in India due to freezing of its accounts and claimed that it is being subjected to an "incessant witch-hunt" over unfounded and motivated allegations.

"Treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises and dissenting individuals as criminals without any credible evidence is a deliberate attempt by the Enforcement Directorate and government of India to stoke a climate of fear and dismantle the critical voices in India," it said.

The Hathras Police have also lodged an FIR against "unknown" persons for alleged attempt to trigger caste-based conflict and invoked serious charges, including sedition.

The development comes amid an undying controversy over the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman after she was allegedly gangraped, and continuous protests and visits to her village by political leaders and activists.



AMU Students Team, Led By Ayesha Samdani, Win Judges Choice Award in NASA Space App Challenge

06 Oct 2020

Aligarh (October 5, 2020): An unintended but welcome consequence of the lockdown to contain the coronavirus has been improved air quality stated the presentation of ALTAIR, a team of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students led by MBBS first-year student, Ayesha Samdani, which won the 'The Judges Choice Award' in the International NASA Space App Challenge-2020 for presenting a solution in response to the NASA's Challenge 'A One Health Approach'.

Ayesha and team members, Mohd Zakir Husain (MBBS), Aman Ahmad Khan (MBBS), Faisal Jamil (B.Tech) and Abdullah Samdani (BA LLB) gave an analysis on air quality of the pre and post lockdown periods in the Indo Gangetic region of Northern India. Their study gave details about how an improvement in the air quality benefited the health of people.

For the presentation, the ALTAIR members also coded an Air Quality Index (AQI) Calculator to measure AQI of a certain region, which is helpful in giving health and cautionary statements and providing guidance to common people on pollution related health issues.

Congratulating the students on the achievement, Prof Shahid Ali Siddiqui, Principal, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) of the university and Prof Shakeel Samdani, Dean, Faculty of Law said that the work of these AMU students is formative as it provides a clear comparison of average concentration levels during the months before the lockdown and the time period during the lockdown restrictions, showing a reduction in SO2 level.

The event was judged by ISRO and NASA scientists including Tazeen Siddiqui of NASA.


North America


CAIR-SFBA: Muslim, Jewish Organizations Condemn San Ramon Mayoral Candidate Sanat Sethy’s Islamophobia

Ayan Ajeen

October 5, 2020

(SANTA CLARA, CA, 10/5/2020) – The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) along with local Muslim and Jewish organizations today condemned San Ramon mayoral candidate, Sanat Sethy’s, Islamophobia and fear-mongering rhetoric. 

In a statement he released last week, Sanat Sethy noted that he would not participate in a candidate forum hosted on September 30, by CAIR-SFBA, the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center (SRVIC), and the Muslim Community Center of the East Bay (MCC).

The forum focused on local issues, connected Muslims in the region to the various candidates vying for their votes, and was one of a series of more than half a dozen the organization is hosting in the lead up to the November 3 election. Sethy chose to forego the opportunity to connect with voters deflecting from his unwillingness to do so by attempting to pit Muslims and Jews against each other by raising false allegations of anti-Semitism and claiming the debate and CAIR’s work were exclusively national in focus.  

Aliza Kazmi, Advocacy Manager at CAIR-SFBA said in a statement:

“CAIR-SFBA takes pride in our local civic engagement efforts. While national politics can be disheartening, we encourage American Muslims to prioritize local races. The mayoral race in San Ramon, home to one of the region’s largest Musim congregations and a sizeable Muslim population is an important one. Sanat Sethy made his intent to divide voters based on bigotry very clear and in doing so missed out an opportunity to pitch his platform and positions.”  

Imad Abboushi, President of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center said in a statement:

“Community leaders need to support all of their constituents. It is quite disappointing to see a mayoral candidate ignore the needs of a minority group in his community.”

Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area Chapter said in a statement:

“We stand with CAIR in condemning Sethy’s actions. CAIR-SFBA has been an invaluable partner in the Muslim community in supporting Jews against rising antisemitism. Unsubstantiated claims of antisemitism are often used against groups that stand in support of Palestinian human rights, especially against Muslim organizations.”

CAIR-SFBA is an office of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.



CAIR Survey Indicates High Turnout of Muslim Voters, 71 Percent Support for Joe Biden

Ayan Ajeen

October 5, 2020

Fifty-nine percent of Muslim voters believe that Biden won the September 29 presidential debate

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/5/2020) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released the results of a nationwide survey of Muslim voters on the upcoming presidential election indicating 89 percent of registered Muslim voters intend to vote in the November 3rd General Election – and that 71 percent of Muslim voters say they would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden as President of the United States.  

Eighteen percent say they would vote to re-elect President Donald Trump.  

Highlights of CAIR’s survey results, announced at a news conference this morning, include: 

Eighty-nine percent of registered Muslim voters intend to vote in the 2020 Presidential General Election, while only five percent are still undecided if they will vote.  

The percentage of registered Muslim voters who most closely identify with the Democratic Party decreased from CAIR’s previous poll in 2018, from 78 percent to 66 percent. Conversely, Muslim support for the Republican Party increased to 19 percent compared to 17 percent in a similar CAIR poll from 2018.  

Seventy-one percent of registered Muslim voters said they would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, while 18 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump.  

Fifty-nine percent of Muslim voters believe that Joe Biden won the September 29th presidential debate, while 14 percent think that Donald Trump won it. Twenty-one percent were unsure who won the debate, most likely due to its chaotic nature. 

Forty-two percent of registered Muslims voters consider themselves liberal leaning on social issues, while 34 percent consider themselves to be conservative.  

However, 42 percent consider themselves to be fiscally conservative, while 37 percent who consider themselves to be fiscally liberal.  

Sixty-five percent of Muslim voters believe that Democrats are most concerned with protecting religious freedoms, while 19 percent believe that Republicans are the most concerned.  

Sixty-seven percent of Muslim voters believe that Democrats are most concerned with addressing racial inequality, while 16 percent believe that Republicans are the most concerned.  

Seventy-two percent of Muslim voters believe that Democrats are the most concerned with providing accessible healthcare, while 15 percent believe that Republicans are the most concerned.  

Seventy-two percent of Muslim voters believe that Democrats are the most concerned with treating all immigrants equally, while 15 percent believe that Republicans are the most concerned.  

Of the registered Muslim voters that participated in CAIR’s survey, 45 percent feel that the Democratic Party is generally friendly toward Muslims, followed by 44 percent who feel that it is neutral toward Muslims, and 14 percent who feel that it is unfriendly toward Muslims.  

Sixty-one percent of registered Muslim voters feel that the Republican Party is unfriendly toward Muslims, 24 percent feel that the Republican Party is neutral toward Muslims, and 16 percent feel that the Republican Party is friendly toward Muslims.  

Sixty-seven percent of registered Muslim voters think Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. has increased in the past four years, while 15 percent of registered Muslim voters think Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. has decreased.  Eighteen percent of registered Muslim voters preferred not to answer the question. 

“Our survey clearly shows that more registered Muslim voters intend to vote in this presidential election than in 2016, and that the majority of those voters favor former Vice President Joe Biden in comparison to re-electing President Donald Trump,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Robert S. McCaw. “That said, Muslim voters are equally social liberals and fiscal conservatives, indicating that both major political parties should be doing more to reach out to and engage Muslims in this and every election.” 

CAIR’s survey is just one part of an ongoing effort by the Washington-based civil rights organization to mobilize American Muslim voters. CAIR recently launched a new section of the 2020 election and voter mobilization website for “Early Voting” and updated its “Vote-by-Mail Guide” to mark National Voter Registration Day for 2020. 

SEE: Muslims.Vote

If you believe your voting rights have been violated while voting, please contact the Council on American-Islamic Relations at (202) 488-8787 or 

NOTE: As a nonpartisan tax-exempt organization, CAIR encourages American Muslims to participate in national and state elections. CAIR does not support one candidate or political party over another. 

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. 

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos. 


CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Department Director Robert S. McCaw, 202-742-6448,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Coordinator Ayan Ajeen,





Katie Hopkins issues grovelling apology to mosque over 'inaccurate' police attack post

ByJack Hardwick

5 OCT 2020

Katie Hopkins has taken to social media to post a grovelling apology for incorrectly claiming the Met police were attacked outside Finsbury Park mosque.

The former Apprentice star, who was banned from Twitter earlier this year, shared the open letter on her official Instagram page.

Posting to her 116,00 followers, Katie wrote: "Dear Sirs, Following our recent correspondence, I am happy to correct the inaccuracies contained in my tweet of 8 May 2020.

"On that date I retweeted a video of a violent scene, of five men attacking the Metropolitan Police with the comment: "Finsbury Park mosque just after 8pm. Officers attacked. 5 representatives of the Religion of Peace arrested. Zero media coverage'."

Correcting her incorrect report, Katie, 45, continued: "Having now been informed of the factual inaccuracies of that tweet I am perfectly happy to correct the record to reflect the fact that the incident was not occurring outside Finsbury Park mosque but two streets away in Blackstock Road.

"I am genuinely sorry for any offence or hurt felt by Finsbury Park Mosque for this clear factual error and I am happy to put the record straight."

The outspoken columnist added: "Furthermore, it cold be inferred from my Tweet that the aggressors in this altercation with the Metropolitan Police were members of the Finsbury Park Mosque.

"I offer my sincere apologies to the mosque for this incorrect inference and the offence or hurt felt by it."

Highlighting the good work the mosque has been involved with during the pandemic, the mum-of-two added: "Distributed food parcels to the most vulnerable in the local community and have set up a helpline for counselling and bereavement support and initiated a campaign in Finsbury Park area including Blackstock Road to education the community about the importance and social distancing."

She signed off the post: "I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by the Mosque to society."

In June Katie was permanently banned from Twitter after breaking rules on "abuse and hateful conduct".

A spokesperson for the social media platform said at the time: "Keeping Twitter safe is a top priority for us - abuse and hateful conduct have no place on our service and we will continue to take action when our rules are broken.

"In this case, the account has been permanently suspended for violations of our Hateful Conduct policy."



Katie Hopkins apologises to London mosque for linking it to police attack

By MEE staff

5 October 2020

The north London mosque had brought a legal case against Hopkins after she tweeted footage of five men attacking police officers in the capital and implied they were linked to the Muslim place of worship.

"Finsbury Park mosque just after 8pm. Officers attacked. 5 representatives of the Religion of Peace arrested. Zero media coverage," read the original tweet, posted on 5 May.

In an apology posted to her Instagram page on Monday, Hopkins acknowledged she had been wrong to link the mosque to the incident. The attack had actually taken place two roads away.

"It could be inferred from my tweet that the aggressors in the altercation with the Metropolitan police were members of the Finsbury Park mosque," she said.

Rihanna sparks outrage after using Islamic hadith in lingerie show

I offer my sincere apologies to the Mosque for this incorrect inference and the offence or hurt caused by it."

She also posted her apology on Parler - a networking site associated with the far-right - following her permanant suspension from Twitter in June.

The mosque welcomed Hopkins' apology and said in a statement that it was "stunned" by her accusation.

"At a time of deep division within our society and the prominence of hate, suspicion and fear due to an array of reasons, Finsbury Park Mosque wishes to remind everyone of our personal and collective responsibility to not only speaking truth, but doing all we can to bridge those divides and bring our communities closer," it wrote.

Hopkins, a former reality TV star, has regularly been accused of Islamophobia and peddling racist views.

A piece in the Sun newspaper in 2015 which denounced migrants as "cockroaches", prompted a condemnation by the UN human rights chief.

And later that year, the Mail Online, the website of the Daily Mail newspaper, was forced to apologise and pay £150,000 in damages after Hopkins falsely suggested members of a British Muslim family who were prevented from flying to Disneyland were linked to al-Qaeda.



Trial opens for failed Islamic State attack on French church

October 5, 2020

A 29-year-old Algerian man went on trial Monday in Paris accused of killing a woman and trying to blow up a church near Paris, a failed 2015 attack that investigators say was orchestrated by Islamic State extremists in Syria.

Instead of bombing a Sunday Mass in the Paris suburb of Villejuif, Sidi Ahmed Ghlam shot himself in the leg and was soon arrested.

The incident came amid a series of Islamist extremist attacks in 2015-2016 that rocked France. Another Paris court is currently holding a two-month trial into the January 2015 attacks that killed 17 people at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

While all the gunmen in those attacks were killed by police, Ghlam survived his attempted bombing three months later, and began a monthlong trial starting Monday on charges of murder and attempted terrorist murder.

Ghlam, who faces life in prison if convicted, denies wrongdoing.

Nine other defendants are being tried alongside him. Seven are believed to have provided logistical assistance such as weapons and protective vests.

The other two are extremists accused of guiding his attempted attack, who are believed to be in Syria and possibly dead. The third sponsor, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by police after allegedly coordinating the worst attacks on France since World War II, coordinated assaults on Nov. 13, 2015, on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France’s national stadium and multiple cafes.

Ghlam had been on the radar of authorities in Algeria and France for his proximity to Islamic State militants. Investigators say he traveled to Turkey in late 2014 and early 2015 where he met Abaaoud and the other operatives.

On April 19, 2015, fitness instructor Aurelie Chatelain was shot to death in her car, which had been set on fire, near a church in Villejuif.

Soon afterward, Ghlam called for help, claiming to have been the victim of gunfire near his home, in the 13th arrondissement or district of Paris, not far from Villejuif. Doctors notified police.

Police believe Ghlam shot Chatelain and was in fact planning to carry out an attack against the Villejuif church. According to investigators, Ghlam had to give up attacking the church after accidentally shooting himself in the leg while trying to put his weapon back in his belt.

Ghlam told investigators that he intentionally shot himself in the thigh, having second thoughts about carrying out the planned massacre.

He says Chatelain was accidentally killed by an accomplice named “Hamza.” None of the other suspects has mentioned this supposed accomplice.

Defense lawyer Jean-Hubert Portejoie told The Associated Press that Ghlam “acknowledges the preparatory phase and contacts with the Islamic State group” and maintains that he was one of two attackers. Ghlam “was supposed to carry out carnage in a church, but he couldn’t do it, and preferred to shoot himself in the leg,” Portejoie said.

Many weapons were found in his car and at home, and his computers showed frequent links to Syria. Ghlam acknowledged to investigators having been in contact and guided by three IS operatives: Abaaoud, Abdelnasser Benyoucef and Samir Nouad.

Benyoucef is also the alleged sponsor of Amédy Coulibaly, the gunman in the January 2015 kosher supermarket attack.

Benyoucef and Nouad, a member of Algerian Islamist militant group GIA in the 1990s, are believed to have died in suicide attacks in Syria, and are being tried in absentia in the Villejuif case.


Southeast Asia


Malaysian Muslim MP unrepentant over 'corrupted Bible' claim

October 06, 2020

A prominent Muslim lawmaker in Malaysia has remained steadfast in his refusal to apologize for saying that the Christian Bible has been corrupted and its message has been distorted in comments that have caused outrage among the country’s Christians.

During a recent session in parliament, Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh, a prominent Muslim politician who studied in Egypt and Jordan, insinuated that the New Testament did not reflect the true message of Jesus’ life and ministry because the text had been altered over the centuries.

The statement caused outrage among many Christians in a country where Islamic fundamentalism has been on the rise, but it is in line with a normative Muslim belief that holds that whereas Jesus was a messenger of Allah, he did not die on the cross and was not divine.

Such views in Islam are backed up by certain passages in the Quran, which Muslims consider the true word of God.

Several lawmakers have chastised Zawawi for voicing this view in parliament, saying his comments were religiously divisive and asking him to apologize.

Yet Zawawi refused to do so, adding further fuel to the uproar by saying it was a “fact” that the Christian Bible had been corrupted. “They have no right to be offended,” the Muslim lawmaker said.

“What I said was not an accusation but a fact,” he went on. “There is no need to apologize. Why should I? I don’t want to comment. What I said is right. Why should I apologize?”

In response, Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen, a politician from the Democratic Action Party, stressed in a public statement that the Muslim lawmaker’s comment “sets a bad precedent in the honorable house where such insensitive comments against other religions can be made without any repercussions.”

Yii added: “I will continue to pursue the Bible issue as it is important to send the correct message that, regardless of position or power, no one is above the law.”

Zawawi, who represents the district of Pasir Puteh in the state of Kelantan, has also ignored calls for an apology from several interfaith and Christian organizations from across the country, including the Association of Churches in Sarawak, the Sabah Council of Churches and the Sarawak Evangelical Christian Association.

Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim, a prominent and outspoken Catholic clergyman, and several other religious leaders from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism have also warned in a public statement that denigrating the faith of Christians and others in the country’s parliament could set “a dangerous precedent.”

Zawawi’s comments were “totally unacceptable to all peace-loving Malaysians of all faiths,” the archbishop and his fellow signatories said.

“Parliament is a place to debate responsible and just governance based on rational arguments, best practices and in tune with the provisions of the federal constitution,” they stressed.

“If this is the new normal, it will open the door for others to do the same and it may lead to unnecessary arguments that may pit one religion against another, to be used by politicians for their political gain and maneuvering.”

In a separate statement, Archbishop Kim, who is chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, took Zawawi to task over his comments.

“In trampling with shocking audacity on the sacred and holy Word of God, the representative for Pasir Puteh showed a reprehensible disrespect not only for his fellow Malaysians who are Christians but also for all the efforts of our forefathers in forging peoples of diverse creeds, colour and cultures into a peace-loving and harmonious nation,” the archbishop said.

“Recalcitrant and reportedly unwilling to withdraw or apologise for his demeaning words, this lawmaker must be unreservedly censured and rebuked by all right-minded people.”



Malaysian Islamic party PAS urges Malay-Muslim unity at next general election

SEP 13, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR - The leader of Malaysia's Islamist party on Sunday (Sept 13) urged its members to remain faithful to its cooperation with former political enemies Umno and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia as Malay-Muslim leadership is needed to helm the country.

Speaking to about 400 delegates at Parti Islam SeMalaysia's annual congress in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said: "All party members... must remain the constant machinery of struggle. Let us repeat the history that PAS has never lost in all political cooperation with other parties as long as we remain steadfast with Islam.

"Even if we do not reach the level of 'tamkin' (fully in power) and are still not satisfied, all PAS members must carry out their respective duties, with the role of carrying the Islamic teachings that we uphold."

Referring to how PAS first teamed up with Umno in Sept 2019 to "uphold Islamic leadership", Mr Hadi said the party's subsequent cooperation with Malay party Bersatu and lawmakers from other parties led it to form part of the country's ruling government.

PAS is a member of the Perikatan Nasional alliance that has governed the country since March. PN, led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, had ousted the former Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration after pulling together lawmakers from Bersatu, Umno, PAS, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Sarawak parties to form a slim majority in Parliament.

Snap polls are widely expected to be called in the next few months as Tan Sri Muhyiddin seeks to establish a stronger mandate to govern.

Rallying the troops yesterday, Mr Hadi said he was confident the party would continue to dominate in the three Malay-belt states - Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah - where it forms the state government.

PAS, which had been in the opposition for 42 years, currently has 18 federal lawmakers in the 222-seat Parliament. It has formed an alliance of Malay-Muslim parties with Umno and Bersatu called Muafakat Nasional (MN) to corral the votes of the country's main ethnic group.

These three parties, however, had previously split the vote in Malay-majority wards during the May 2018 general election, raising doubts about whether they can agree on dividing these seats between them.

"We are discussing (about the seats) and many have been solved. It is not over yet as the date for the next election is still not announced. In Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, we will dominate," Mr Hadi said, as quoted by news site Malay Mail.

PAS was part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government from 1974 to 1977, and had then worked with Umno to capture all 36 state seats in Kelantan. Its then president Asri Musa also became a Cabinet minister.

However, following a rift with Umno, PAS left the BN government and contested on its own in the 1978 general election but failed to capture the state, winning only two seats.

Umno and PAS remained fierce rivals until last September, when they formed MN to unite against perceived threats to Malay rights from the PH government.

In his speech, Mr Hadi said that Malay-Muslim unity is needed to save the country and lead it in the right direction.

"Let's be united in our current political coalition to face the 15th general election... to form a stronger government... that receives the support of the majority of the people," he said.

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Federal Court postpones hearing of Selangor woman’s appeal for declaration as non-Muslim due to Covid-19

Tuesday, 06 Oct 2020

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 6 — The Federal Court today deferred hearing an appeal by a Selangor woman who was born to a Muslim father and Buddhist mother but wants to be recognised as a non-Muslim, due to issues related to Covid-19.

The Federal Court was initially scheduled to hear this morning the appeal by 38-year-old Rosliza Ibrahim, who had previously said that she was raised a Buddhist and remains a Buddhist and wants the court to declare that she is not a Muslim.

Her appeal was against the Selangor state government, while Selangor Islamic Religious Council’s (Mais) is the intervener.

Before the appeal could be heard this morning, Mais’ lawyer Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah was understood to have made an application for the hearing to be adjourned as a member of Mais’ legal team is a close contact of a minister who had tested positive for Covid-19.

This member of Mais’ legal team was not sighted in the courtroom today, while Sulaiman was seen alone without other members of the legal team in sight for the hearing. Lawyers would typically have other lawyers present to assist them while presenting their arguments in court, including to handle the bundles of documents.

Based on information from Federal Court registrar Jumirah Marzuki, the rest of the parties involved today did not object to the request to defer the hearing and the application was granted by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who was chairing the panel of judges for this case.

Lawyer Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who represented Rosliza, said the application to adjourn the hearing was related to Covid-19 and that he did not object.

“I have no objection because it could happen to anyone. This sort of incident can happen to anyone,” he told reporters when met at the Federal Court.

The case has now been fixed for case management on October 27.

This is not the first time that court proceedings in cases have been deferred or postponed due to matters linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, with other cases in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur previously also experiencing such disruptions.


South Asia


Afghans should Not Let ‘Opportunity for Peace Slip Away’: Khalilzad

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

Tuesday, 06 Oct 2020

President Ashraf Ghani met with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to discuss Afghan peace negotiations in Doha on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

DOHA, Qatar – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his official trip to Qatar, met with United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller, discussing the “latest” on Afghan peace process on Monday.

Ghani and US envoy, including Miller, discussed the “latest” on the Afghan peace negotiations, which apparently have come to a deadlock on agreeing the procedural rules to hold the intra-Afghan talks on peace in the country.

“General Miller and I affirmed ongoing U.S. support to Afghanistan, our partnership, and a peace process meant to produce a political settlement and an end to decades of war,” said Khalilzad in a tweet Tuesday morning.

“I told the President Afghans should not let the opportunity for peace to slip away,” he added. “He said he supports the Islamic Republic negotiators doing their work as long as it takes. I said I’m encouraged by what I heard from all sides, including the two teams’ commitment to peace.”

The United States supports an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process and remains ready to assist, calling on “all nations, especially the neighbors and other key players, to do the same.”

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (right) and Gen Scott Miller (left) discuss Afghan peace negotiations during a meeting with President Ghani in Doha on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

Addressing the ongoing threats against civilians throughout Afghanistan, Khalilzdad said, “a significant reduction in violence will save lives; increase trust; broaden support for peace; and help the negotiating teams make progress at a faster pace.”


[EARLIER: ‘Ghani Meets Afghan Negotiators in Doha’]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in an official trip to Kuwait and Qatar, met with peace negotiators of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha, after meeting Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the new Emir of Kuwait, on Monday.

Ghani’s trip raised a mix of reaction among critics who said he might meet the Taliban in Doha. But this claim was rejected by the republic’s negotiators.

“The problems that we face, and the issues that remained unsolved, are not related to the trip of the president, but the host countries can make efforts to convince the other side to finalize the procedural rules,” said Ghulam Farooq Majroh, an Afghan negotiator, as TOLOnews quoted.

“The president’s trip is not related to the negotiations. It is an official trip between Afghanistan and Qatar,” said Nader Nadery, another Afghan negotiator.

Ghani is due to meet United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. Scott Miller, the top commander for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.



Ghani Meets Afghan Negotiators in Doha

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

Tuesday, 06 Oct 2020

During a 2-day official visit to Kuwait and Qatar, President Ghani meets with Afghan negotiators in Doha Tuesday, Oct 5, 2020.

DOHA, Qatar – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in an official trip to Kuwait and Qatar, met with peace negotiators of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Doha, after meeting Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the new Emir of Kuwait, on Monday.

Ghani’s trip raised a mix of reaction among critics who said he might meet the Taliban in Doha. But this claim was rejected by the republic’s negotiators.

“The problems that we face, and the issues that remained unsolved, are not related to the trip of the president, but the host countries can make efforts to convince the other side to finalize the procedural rules,” said Ghulam Farooq Majroh, an Afghan negotiator, as TOLOnews quoted.

“The president’s trip is not related to the negotiations. It is an official trip between Afghanistan and Qatar,” said Nader Nadery, another Afghan negotiator.

Ghani is due to meet United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. Scott Miller, the top commander for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.



Suicide car bomb targets Afghan governor, kills 8

October 5, 2020

The explosion also left several badly damaged vehicles at the site of the attack. The wounded, including small children, were taken to the city's main hospitals.

A suicide car bomber targeted the convoy of a provincial governor in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing at least eight people, including four civilians, government officials said.

The governor, Rahmatullah Yarmal, was unharmed in the attack in Laghman province, according to his spokesman, Asadullah Dawlatzai.

Four of Yarmal’s bodyguards were killed, the spokesman said, adding that about 38 people ‘both military and civilians’ were wounded in the attack, which took place in Mihterlam, the provincial capital.

Dawlatzai said 36 civilians were among the wounded, including children, as well as two other bodyguards of the governor.

The explosion also left several badly damaged vehicles at the site of the attack. The wounded, including small children, were taken to the city’s main hospitals.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both the Islamic State group and the Taliban are active in the area. Both militant groups have carried out attacks in the past against Afghan government representatives, national security and defense personnel, and civilians.

The Laghman attack came after a suicide truck bombing in neighboring Nangarhar province on Saturday killed 13 people and wounded 38. That attack struck near a mosque as people were gathering for afternoon prayers.

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban are holding intra-Afghan negotiations in Qatar, a Mideast country where the Taliban have had a political office for many years. The negotiations are meant to end the country’s decades-long long war, following a US-Taliban peace deal signed in February in Doha, Qatar’s capital.



Nearly two decades after US invasion, Afghans fear Taliban return

Oct 6, 2020

KABUL: Almost two decades after the United States launched what would become its longest-ever war with air strikes on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime, the hardline group are in a stronger position than ever.

The invasion on October 7, 2001 quickly toppled the militants, who had harboured Al-Qaeda, the group behind the September 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in America just weeks earlier.

Nineteen years after their brutal Islamist regime collapsed, the Taliban are pushing for a return to power, having signed a landmark troop withdrawal deal with Washington in February and currently holding peace talks with the Afghan government.

Fearful that the Taliban have changed little since the darkest days of their regime -- when they killed women accused of adultery, attacked minority religious groups and barred girls from going to school -- many Afghans worry about a new era of Taliban influence.

"I remember the Taliban regime like a nightmare. We are scared for our future and my daughter's future," said Kabul resident Katayoun Ahmadi, a 26-year-old mother.

She recalled seeing severed hands and fingers on Kabul's streets following amputations for petty crimes under the Taliban's strict interpretation of Sharia law.

The 2001 invasion heralded some enduring improvements for young Afghans -- particularly girls -- and ushered in a constitution guaranteeing certain freedoms including the right to an education.

But so far in peace talks in Doha, which started last month, the Taliban have said little about issues such as women's rights or freedom of expression.

Ahmadi's husband Farzad Farnood, 35, a researcher for the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies, said a rise in Taliban violence since a deal was signed between the hardline group and Washington shows the militants have not changed.

"Is this creating hope for Afghans? No, it is not," he said.

As a teenager, he witnessed the Taliban stoning a woman to death and public executions and floggings in Kabul's football stadium. His family had to hide their black-and-white television's antenna in a tree when the Taliban banned music and entertainment.

"All the achievements we have made in the last 18 years did not exist in the Taliban era," he said.

A Taliban spokesman declined to comment.

Zia-ul-Rahman, a former insurgent who battled foreign troops and Afghan government forces for four years, told AFP the Taliban were pushing for "the establishment of an Islamic system", even though the Islamic republic's constitution already gives primacy to the religion.

"We have no problem with girls getting an education or women working, but they have to wear a hijab," he added.

US involvement in Afghanistan has proven painfully difficult for the superpower, draining more than $1 trillion from its coffers and resulting in about 2,400 troop deaths in a war the Pentagon has characterised as a stalemate.

In Doha, the Taliban and the Afghan government are struggling to agree common language on a range of issues before they can even establish an agenda, in talks that could continue for years.

Some US lawmakers have said they would oppose any deal that fails to protect women and minorities, but President Donald Trump's administration has stressed it wants little to do with the outcome which he said will be "Afghan-owned".

Jawed Rahmani, a 38-year-old security worker in Kabul, said US disengagement would inevitably lead to a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

"These are not peace talks but a deal to hand over the next government to the Taliban," he said.

"People are happier with whatever we have right now, compared to the darkest era of the Taliban."



Taliban want an Islamic system in Afghanistan, reveals spokesperson

October 5, 2020

The Taliban finally named a 21-member delegation for peace talks with the Afghan government. According to Zabiullah Mujahed, the group’s spokesman, the negotiation team has been announced based on a decree by Amirul Mumineen, Taliban chief Mullah Hibat Ullah. The development took place on October 3.

“Sheikh Mawlawi Abdul Hakim appointed as head of negotiation team & Mr. Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai as deputy. Dr. Muhammad Naeem Wardak appointed as spokesperson of Political Office,” he tweeted.

Earlier today, the ongoing status of Afghan talks was disclosed in an interview conducted by Public News Pakistan with Dr Muhammad Naeem, Taliban’s spokesperson of Political Office. Adnan Haider was interested to understand and reveal the crux of the discussion, in addition to whether and why there was a delay in the talks.

Haider asked Dr. Naeem what are the chances that the talks will be successful before the next US elections and what will be the outcome in case of delay? “Our intention is that the Afghans must initiate the talks first. We wish for the talks to happen fast, and we trust that there will not be any problem”, replied the spokesman.

Haider also asked Dr. Naeem that what is the possible reason behind a delay in the talks. The anchor raised a question as there is a perception linked with some sources in the Taliban that the talks are likely to be delayed.

The spokesman said that there are always some “ups and downs” in all discussions, and the same is the case with the Afghan talks. He claimed it is because of these ups and downs that delays happen, and that there is no one in particular who is to be blamed for these delays, nor is there any specific individual who is against the talks, as per his knowledge. “Afghanistan acquiring peace and staying at peace is a win-win situation for everyone. Adopting an Islamic system within Afghanistan is within everyone’s interst. Everyone wants all the problems to end”, guaranteed spokesman Naeem.

Haider further asked the spokesman about the absence of an Islamic system in Afghanistan currently. Dr. Naeem replied: “There are things on paper, and then there are things that are happening in real life as practical matters. We want the Islamic system, there is no doubt about that. There should be independence.” Dr Naeem added that those operating against the injunctions of Islam should be stopped. “There should not be monetary, ethical nor congregational problems. Everyone who knows peace wants peace. People are facing a lot of problems, and this is why we want an Islamic System” said the spokesman.

The interviewer asked “Dr. Naeem, since you were in political office while monitoring all the political activities, Mullah Abdul Ghani was very hopeful when this agreement was happening in February. He was hopeful that there will be peace in Afghanistan soon. Yet, there was a delay in that agreement. I am asking you again since you monitored all this, why is the delay happening? Is it from the Kabul side or the Taliban side?” To this, the spokesman bluntly replied that he cannot specify who wants the delay. “We want talks with America because we want there to be peace in Afghanistan. We want an Islamic system, we want only the best for our people.”

“Do you think there will be peace after these talks?” asked Haider. “We want to keep friendly and peaceful ties with all our neighbors. We can only hope that these ties remain strong after these talks.” replied the spokesman.

He was then reminded about Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians, and that many still regard Israel as a country. “What will be Afghanistan’s policy with respect to Israel?” asked Haider. “We have always raised our voice against the injustice carried out on Palestine. We cannot have any relations with Israel and we do not regard it as a country. Palestine has our support.” guaranteed spokesman Naeem. “Palestine is the first QIBLA of Muslims. We are all Muslims. Since they disrespect our sacred places, we will not have any contact with them.” he reiterated.

Read more: Taliban violence pose ‘serious challenges’ to Afghan peace process: Ghani

“Finally, what do you think about the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan?” inquired Haider. “Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighboring countries. Same culture, same language. We want our relations with our neighbors to be good. Neighbors depend on each other.” said Naeem. When asked what his message would be to the people of Afghanistan regarding the peace talks, Naeem replied, “My message to the nation is that whatever problems occur can be solved by sitting down and discussing the matter with peace. Soon, these problems will end and people will have peace.”


New Zealand


Hate Crimes against Muslims Spiked After the Mosque Attacks, And Ardern Promises to Make Such Abuse Illegal

October 6, 2020

Could we have predicted the terror attacks at Masjid Al Noor and the Linwood Islamic Centre on March 15 last year if we had been able to identify a rising number of verbal and physical attacks against Muslims in the preceding months and years?

In New Zealand, we currently can’t answer these questions. Authorities don’t maintain a register of hate crimes (defined as verbal and physical assaults motivated by hatred of the victim’s group identity). Nor does our legal system recognise hate crime as a separate offence.

Amending the Human Rights Act 1993 has now become an election issue, with Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern saying it is her party’s intention to revise the law to make it illegal to abuse or threaten people because of their religious identity.

Get news that’s free, independent and based on evidence.

This would add to the provisions against intimidation along ethnic, national and racial lines already covered by the law.

But ACT Party leader David Seymour has said any such move would threaten New Zealanders’ freedom of expression. He called proposed hate speech laws “divisive and dangerous”.

A preliminary register of hate crimes

The lack of data means we have no way of knowing if hate crimes against minorities are becoming more common. And we can’t tell if they are more prevalent in certain regions of New Zealand or if particular groups are targeted more than others.

We also can’t determine the relationship between hate crimes and major events such as the Christchurch terrorist attacks or COVID-19. This means we can’t predict when and where identity-related crime might take place, or act to prevent it.

To address this gap and begin to answer these questions, we, along with students from the University of Auckland, have searched media reports for any verbal or physical assaults motivated by the perpetrator’s hatred of the victim’s ethnic or religious identity. Hate crimes also include targeting people because of their gender or sexual identity, but we have focused on ethnicity and religion.

This is far from the most ideal way to collect data, but it is a first step in gaining a more systematic view of identity crime in New Zealand. The result is a preliminary dataset of hate crime incidents in this country between 2013 and August 2020.

Our data demonstrate a steady if slight increase in hate crimes until 2019 when the number of incidents rose sharply. Here, we focus on the relationship between the Christchurch terrorist attacks and verbal and physical hate crimes against Muslims.

Author provided

Academic studies show hate crimes sometimes act as a “red flag” of an impending terrorist attack. More commonly, terrorist attacks can spur a rise in hate crimes, as members of the group targeted by terrorism exact revenge against the terrorists’ ethnic or religious community.

After the September 11 twin-tower attacks in the United States in 2001, hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs increased 1,600% from 28 incidents in 2000 to 481 in 2001. A smaller but still substantial increase in hate crimes occurred after the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005.

We have found a similar pattern in New Zealand. Rather than rising before the attacks, hate crimes against Muslims instead increased dramatically afterwards. All types of incidents — verbal, online and physical abuse — went up markedly in 2020, the vast majority (35 of 42) after March 15.

Author provided

Most notably, Islamophobic abuse rose by a staggering 1,300% from three to 42 incidents. The largest number (15) occurred in Christchurch, although eight were in Auckland and the remainder distributed throughout the country. These attacks have a major psychological impact, not only on the victims but their community as a whole.

Hate crimes against victims of terrorism

Our findings mirror research elsewhere, which finds hate crimes most often rise after terrorist attacks. But there is a key difference.

Elsewhere, these crimes took the form of “vicarious retribution”. Victims were targeted because they were seen to be of the same community as the terrorists. Following the Christchurch attacks, there was a surge in hate crimes against the victims of the attacks.

This targeting also occurred elsewhere in the West. In the week after Christchurch, hate crimes against Muslims in the UK rose by 593% with 95 incidents reported to police. Perpetrators mimicked firing a weapon at Muslims or made the noises of a gun as they walked past.

These crimes are therefore a perpetuation of the Christchurch attacks. Their increase after March 15 demonstrates that, despite the best intentions of many in New Zealand, the attacks have made the country more, not less, dangerous for Muslims and other minorities.

The rising incidence of verbal hate crimes against Muslims also underlines the importance of legislating against such intimidation and abuse along religious lines (currently excluded from the Human Rights Act). Resources should be provided to police or other government agencies, or to an independent research centre, to maintain a register of such offences to better monitor patterns in offending.

Studies elsewhere have shown more minor forms of identity-related crime sometimes develop into more extreme and ideological violence. Each unpunished attack normalises intimidation and violence and emboldens those with racist or extremist world views.

The next government should therefore take these preliminary indications of rising hate crimes extremely seriously.




Turkey decries ‘double standard’ after Canada halts drone tech sales

October 06, 2020

ISTANBUL: Canada’s decision to suspend exports of some military technology over allegations the equipment was used by Azeri forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict shows a double standard, Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

“Turkey expects Canada to follow a policy free of double standards and to act without being influenced from those opposed to Turkey,” the ministry said in a statement.

“There is no explanation of blocking defense equipment exports to a NATO ally while ... Canada does not see any harm in exporting arms to countries that have military involvement in the crisis in Yemen,” it said.

Turkey carefully sticks to its obligations under its comprehensive export-control regime, the ministry added.

Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Monday Canada suspended the export of some drone technology to Turkey while it investigates whether it was used by Azeri forces in more than a week of fierce clashes with Armenia.

Turkey has in the past supplied drones to Azerbaijan and has repeated it stands firmly beside its close ally in the conflict over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Canadian arms control group Project Ploughshares says video of air strikes released by Baku indicates the drones had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc. .

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of attacking civilian areas and hundreds of people have been killed in the deadliest clashes in the region for more than 25 years. NATO has urged an immediate cease-fire.



1,000 Houthis killed in September fighting: Yemen Defense Ministry


October 06, 2020

AL-MUKALLA: At least 1,000 Houthi fighters were killed last month in several Yemeni provinces as the Iran-backed militia pushed to seize control of new areas, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said.

Fighting has intensified in Hodeidah, Sanaa, Marib, Jouf, Dhale and Al-Bayda during the last few months, when the Houthis tried to push out government forces from liberated areas.

The ministry said at least 1,000 Houthis, including 215 field commanders and military officers of different rankings, were killed in fighting with government forces or in Arab coalition airstrikes.

The fiercest clashes were reported in Marib, where thousands of army troops and allied tribesmen fought off Houthi attacks.

The militia’s aim in Marib was to seize control of major oil and gas fields and a power station that used to feed the capital, Sanaa, with electricity before the war.

Defense Minister Mohammed Al-Maqdishi in an online briefing on Sunday said that government troops and local tribesmen thwarted “desperate” attempts by the Houthis to advance toward the city, hailing the role of the Arab coalition in supporting the army through airstrikes on Houthi targets and military logistics.

Diplomats and local and international groups have repeatedly warned against a Houthi invasion of Marib, as it could exacerbate Yemen’s already dire humanitarian crisis by forcing tens of thousands of internally displaced people who live in the city to flee to safer areas.

The Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, said on Monday that hundreds of Houthis had been killed or wounded in three days of intense fighting in Hodeidah.

On Friday, the Houthis launched a massive assault on government-controlled areas in Hodeidah’s Hays and Al-Durihimi districts.

Despite deploying heavy machine guns and a large number of fighters, the Houthis failed to seize control of new areas in the two districts and government forces pushed them back to their previous locations.

According to Joint Forces media, 348 Houthis were killed or wounded in 72 hours of fighting that reached Hodeidah’s countryside, adding that local hospitals in Houthi-controlled areas in Hodeidah were overwhelmed with dead and wounded fighters.

There has been sporadic fighting in Hodeidah since late 2018, when the internationally recognized government and the Houthis signed the UN-brokered Stockholm Agreement.

Despite stopping a major military offensive by government forces on Hodeidah city, the agreement has failed to stop Houthi artillery fire and land mines that have claimed more than 500 civilian lives since 2018, according to a local rights group that documents civilian casualties of the war in Hodeidah.



Israel must stand with little Armenia against Turkish Jihad


Turkish President Erdogan is a grave threat to all Christians, to Europe, to civilization and to our common values.

After Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish 'sultan' now is intervening in Nagorno Karabach, a historic piece of Armenian land disputed by Muslim Azerbaijan.

Erdogan, backed by the usual treacherous Qatar, sent his Islamist henchmen, already become very efficient in Libya and against the Kurds in Syria, to help the Azeris. AsiaNews revealed that 4,000 Syrian mercenaries are in Azerbaijan and that others are leaving for that purpose. They say they “fight against the Christian crusaders” and that “it is part of the jihad”.

Israel must stop selling weapons to the Azeris. After all Turkey has also become Israel's enemy. I was disappointed when the vote in the Knesset to recognize the Armenian Genocide was canceled.

The Armenians are left with only Putin and Russia, as has often happened when it comes to Eastern Christians. My friend, the Armenian writer Antonia Arslan, is right in asking: “Who, in the old continent, wants to die for Nagorno-Karabakh? Nobody wanted to die for Danzig in 1939, let alone today for Stepanakert”.

Europe must understand that, from the Greeks to the Armenians, not only interests are at stake when fighting against Erdogan, but also civilization. This is why the former church of Hagia Sophia has just been reconverted to mosque.

The West is decaying before our eyes. I implore Israel to stand with the little Armenia. “Who remembers the Armenians?” Hitler asked in planning the Holocaust.

Jews and Armenians are very different from their neighbors. They have a long history and they have survived many wars and invasions.

Israel and Armenia, two islands of European civilization in the Islamic ocean. two islands the Jihadists want to eradicate.



Armenia and Azerbaijan clash as Iran works on peace plan

October 6, 2020

The Foreign Ministry of Iran, which has nearly 760 kilometers (470 miles) of border with Azerbaijan and a short border with Armenia, said it is working on a peace plan. (Official President website/Handout via REUTERS)

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of firing missiles into the capital of the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday, while Azerbaijan said several of its towns and its second-largest city were attacked.

Iran, which borders both countries, said it was working on a peace plan for the decades-old conflict, which reignited last month and has killed scores of people on both sides.

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

rmenian military officials reported missile strikes in the territorial capital of Stepanakert, which came under intense attacks all weekend. Residents told the Russian state RIA Novosti news agency that parts of the city were suffering shortages of electricity and gas after the strikes.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, in turn, accused Armenian forces of shelling the towns of Tartar, Barda and Beylagan. Ganja, the country’s second-largest city far outside the conflict zone, also was “under fire,” officials said.

Hikmet Hajiyev, aide to Azeirbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, tweeted that Armenian forces attacked “densely populated civilian areas” in Ganja, Barda, Beylagan and other towns “with missiles and rockets.”

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed allegations of attacks being launched from Armenia’s territory as a “disinformation campaign” by Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh officials didn’t comment on the accusations, but warned on both Sunday and Monday that the territory’s forces would target military facilities in Azerbaijani cities in response to strikes on Stepanakert.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the escalating violence and again urged an immediate halt to hostilities, stressing that there is no military solution to the conflict, his spokesman said.

The U.N. chief “is gravely concerned by reports of the extension of hostilities, including the targeting of populated areas,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, He urges a return to negotiations led by Russia, France and the United States — co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group, which was set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1992 to resolve the conflict.

The fighting erupted Sept. 27 and has killed dozens, marking the biggest escalation in the conflict. Both sides have accused each other of expanding the hostilities beyond Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, about 220 servicemen on their side have died in the clashes since then. The state-run Armenian Unified Infocenter said that 21 civilians have been killed in the region and 82 others wounded.

Azerbaijani authorities haven’t given details about military casualties, but said 25 civilians were killed and 127 wounded.

Both sides have repeatedly accused each other of targeting civilians and have reported damage to nonmilitary infrastructure.

Azerbaijani President Aliyev said his troops “liberated” several more villages in the Jabrayil region. A similar report about the town of Jabrayil and its surrounding villages on Sunday was denied by Nagorno-Karabakh officials.

Nagorno-Karabakh was a designated autonomous region within Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. It claimed independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, about three months before the Soviet Union’s collapse. A full-scale war that broke out in 1992 killed an estimated 30,000 people.

By the time the war ended in 1994, Armenian forces not only held Nagorno-Karabakh itself but also substantial areas outside the territory borders, like the Jabrayil region where Azerbaijan claimed to have taken a town and several villages.

Aliyev has repeatedly said Armenia’s withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh is the sole condition to end the fighting.

Armenian officials allege Turkey is involved in the conflict on the side of Azerbaijan and is sending fighters from Syria to the region. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said “a cease-fire can be established only if Turkey is removed from the South Caucasus.”

Turkey, a NATO member, has denied sending arms or foreign fighters, while publicly siding with Azerbaijan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that Turkey will stand with its ally Azerbaijan until it reaches “victory.” He also maintained that it was the international community’s silence in the face of what he called past Armenian aggression that encouraged it to attack Azerbaijani territory.

After talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that the military alliance is “deeply concerned by the escalation of hostilities,” and urged Turkey to “use its considerable influence to calm tensions.”

Cavusoglu repeated calls for Armenia to withdraw from the region “in line with international laws, U.N. Security Council resolutions and Azerbaijan’s territorial and border integrity.”

The Foreign Ministry of Iran, which has nearly 760 kilometers (470 miles) of border with Azerbaijan and a short border with Armenia, said it is working on a peace plan.

Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh did not elaborate but said Iran is talking to all related parties.

“Iran has prepared a plan with a specific framework containing details after consultations with both sides of the dispute, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as regional states and neighbors, and will pursue this plan,” he said.

Khatibzadeh also warned both sides against expanding the hostilities into Iranian territory.

“Any aggression against the borders of the Islamic Republic, even inadvertently, is a very serious red line for the Islamic Republic that should not be crossed,” he said.

Since the beginning of the conflict, stray mortar shells have injured a child and damaged some buildings in rural areas in northern Iran, near the border with Azerbaijan.



Spokesman: Iran to Start Arms Deals after End of UN Embargoes

Mon Oct 05, 2020

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday that his country will start arms deals with other countries once the UN embargoes expire on October 18.

“Iran will act based on its right and needs and will start its interactions on the same day that the arms restrictions end,” Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

He said that despite the difficulties posed by arms sanctions against Iran in the past 40 years, the country’s young experts and specialists have been able to produce different weapons and military equipment.

Asked about military trade between Iran and Russia, Khatibzadeh said, “Certainly, the defense ministry will act based on its needs.”

His comments came after Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan said that his country recognizes expiration of UN arms sanctions against Iran on October 18 and is ready to supply the country with its S-400 air defense system.

“We have said since the very first day that there will be no problem for selling weapons to Iran from October 19,” Dzhagaryan said in an interview with the Persian-language Resalat newspaper on Saturday.

He underlined that Russia does not fear the US threats and will remain committed to its undertakings, adding that Moscow is ready to study the Iranian side’s proposals on purchasing weapons from Russia after October 18.

“As you know we have provided Iran with S-300. Russia does not have any problem to deliver S-400 to Iran and it did not have any problem before either,” Dzhagaryan said.

After the removal of pre-nuclear-deal sanctions against Iran, Russia delivered S-300 air defense systems to the country under the existing contract.

Iran designed and developed its own version of the S-300 missile shield, named Bavar 373, after the Russians shrugged off delivery of their advanced missile defense system to Iran on the pretext of the UN Security Council sanctions.

The Iranian version has superior features over the original Russian model as it enjoys increased mobility, agility and reduced launch-preparation time.

Iranian commanders had earlier said that Bavar 373 is similar to its original Russian model and traces and intercepts high-altitude targets.



IRGC Seeding Clouds by Iranian Version of US-Made RQ-170 Drone

Mon Oct 05, 2020

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) is using the indigenized version of RQ-170 drones - manufactured through the reverse engineering of a similar American pilotless plane that was downed by Iran in 2011 - for seeding clouds over the Iranian territories.

Following the sharp decline in rainfall in Iran in recent years, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps came to work on cloud seeding and started using its flying equipment and manned and unmanned aircraft.

In cloud seeding, manned and unmanned aircraft fly into rain clouds (CB clouds) and shoot bullets containing iodide silver or biofoam nanoparticles into the clouds, causing them to be seeded and rain.

Low costs and high maneuverability of drones have made the device a golden option in cloud seeding, and the IRGC Aerospace Force has been seeding the clouds using the Iranian version of the RQ-170 drones by 5 groups in different parts of the country in the past 2 years.

The Iranian version of the RQ-170 drone has been manufactured through the reverse engineering of the US drone which was tracked and downed in Iran late in 2011 and has been equipped by the IRGC with bombing capability in addition to its original surveillance capabilities.

Iran has downed many other US drones as well, and they have always started reproducing them after conducting reverse engineering on them.

Iran announced on December 4, 2011 that its defense forces had downed a US RQ-170 aircraft through a sophisticated cyber attack. The drone was the first such loss by the US. US officials have described the loss of the aircraft in Iran as a setback and a fatal blow to the stealth drone program.

The aircraft is among the highly sensitive surveillance platform in the CIA's fleet that was shaped and designed to evade enemy defenses.

Since December, 2011, Iran has hunted down several more US drones of various types.

In January 2013, a deputy commander of the Iranian Navy announced that the country's Army had hunted two more advanced RQ type UAVs.

"The air-defense units of the Army have hunted two enemy drones," Deputy Commander of the Iranian Navy for Coordination Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari told FNA.

"These drones were from 11th series of the RQ class, and one of them was hunted in Shahrivar 1390 (August 21-September 19, 2011) and the other one in Aban (October 22-November 20, 2012)," Rastegari said, adding that the Army research center is now studying the two UAVs.

"Much of the data of these drones has been decoded by the Army's Jihad and Research Center," he said, but did not provide any further detail.

The remarks by the Iranian commander came after Iran announced on December 4, 2012, that the IRGC Navy had hunted a US UAV over the Persian Gulf after the drone violated the country's airspace.

The IRGC navy commander announced at the time that the hunted UAV was a ScanEagle drone, adding that "such drones are usually launched from large warships".

ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.

Iran later reproduced its own model of ScanEagle through reverse engineering techniques.

Also, in June 2019, a US-made Global Hawk spy drone was shot down by the IRGC on the Southern coasts of Iran in Hormozgan province today.

The IRGC announced in a statement that the US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region in the Central district of Jask after the aircraft violated Iran's airspace.

The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) can fly at high altitudes for more than 30 hours, gathering near-real-time, high-resolution imagery of large areas of land in all types of weather.



Erdogan on collision course with NATO over Nagorno-Karabakh war

October 06, 2020

JEDDAH: Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on a collision course with NATO on Monday after the head of the Western military alliance ordered the Turkish president to calm the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“We are deeply concerned by the escalation of hostilities. All sides should immediately cease fighting and find a way forward toward a peaceful resolution,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“And I expect Turkey to use its considerable influence to calm tensions.”

But minutes before his own talks with Stoltenberg, Erdogan urged Azerbaijan to keep fighting until it retook land it lost in a war with Armenia in the early 1990s that killed 30,000.

Azerbaijan was “responding to an attack and saving Karabakh from its occupation,” Erdogan said.

“We, Turkey, say that we are always on the Azerbaijan side. As long as the Karabakh issue is not resolved, it will not be possible to end conflict in the region.”

Turkey’s membership of NATO has been under increasing strain since Ankara bought a missile defense system from Russia, the main military threat to the alliance, and began exploring for oil and gas in territorial waters belonging to Greece, a NATO ally.

“Stoltenberg’s call is unusual because NATO has in the past appeared powerless in the face of Turkey’s incursions into Syria, which have resulted in mass suffering of civilians,” Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, told Arab News.

Turkey was the main country fueling violence in the Caucasus because Azerbaijan felt it had a powerful ally, Frantzman said.

“Turkey is also exporting Syrian mercenaries, and that is also concerning for the US. And let’s not forget the claims that Turkey may have used Russian-made radar to track Greek warplanes. Such acts constitute a continued pattern for NATO’s concern.”

As fighting continued in Nagorny-Karabakh on Monday, Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of attacking civilian areas and said the death toll was rising from the deadliest fighting in the South Caucasus for more than 25 years.

Azerbaijan said Azeri cities outside Nagorno-Karabakh had been struck, taking the fighting closer to territory from which pipelines carry Azeri gas and oil to Europe. President Ilham Aliyev said Armenia must withdraw its troops for military action to stop.

But Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on servicemen demobilized last year to volunteer to fight.”They are going to fight a war of survival for their fatherland,” he said.


Arab World


G20 Riyadh: More than 500 leaders to take part in interfaith forum

05 October 2020

RIYADH: More than 500 world leaders and representatives of different religions and global policy institutions will take part in the G20 Interfaith Forum to be streamed virtually from Riyadh on Oct. 13 to 17.

The forum will address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, climate change, disaster risk reduction, hate speech, and racism.

Representatives from the UN, the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Muslim World League and the European Commission will also attend the event.

The forum seeks global solutions by collaborating with religious thought leaders and political representatives. It calls on the world’s political leaders to include religious actors in the policymaking process to promote shared values of solidarity, coexistence and respect.

The five-day event is open to the public and will be streamed live at



US consul general meets OIC chief in Jeddah

October 06, 2020

Ryan M. Gliha, the US consul general in Jeddah, called on the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, at his office on Monday.

Gliha is also the American official representative to the OIC. During the meeting, they discussed OIC-US strategic dialogue and explored prospects for greater cooperation. They affirmed mutual desire to boost bilateral relations and constructive dialogue.

The US engages with the OIC on key regional and multilateral priority areas and seeks to build partnerships in areas of mutual interest.

The two sides work on conflict resolution activities in various regions, seeking to identify peaceful solutions to disputes.

The US also works with the organization to build international support to counter violent extremism.

The OIC on Monday praised the vigilance of the Moroccan security agencies and the way they successfully dismantled a terrorist cell in Tangiers.

The OIC said it supported all anti-terrorism measures taken by Morocco.



Priority for Saudi citizens in IT-related jobs

October 05, 2020

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi on Monday announced a decision to localize the communication and information technology professions to create 9,000 jobs in the private sector.

The decision will be applicable to all business establishments with five or more workers in communications and IT jobs, application development, programming and analysis and technical support.

The ministry has also set a minimum wage of SR7,000 ($1,866) for specialized jobs and SR5,000 for technical jobs.

The decision is part of a series of measures to localize professions in cooperation and partnership with government and supervisory agencies to enable graduates with specific qualifications to obtain decent employment opportunities in the Kingdom.

It is also intended to ensure a suitable and stimulating work environment in the private sector.

The ministry also issued a procedural guide for the proper implementation of the decision. The guide can be accessed on the ministry’s website.

Last month, the ministry took steps to localize engineering jobs in the Kingdom.



Saudi history buff sells jewelry to help finance heritage exhibition dream

06 October 2020


MAKKAH: Present-day Saudi Arabia is home to several archaeological sites belonging to different civilizations that once thrived in the Arabian Peninsula.

In addition to these sites, many Saudis own private museums in different parts of the Kingdom.

These museums contain rare artifacts passed on to their respective owners from their forefathers. Some of these people want to educate others about the rich past of the peninsula and Nourah Al-Ghazwani is one of them. Al-Ghazwani is one those history buffs who sold her jewelry to help toward setting up a heritage museum.

She established her own private museum in Belghazi, a city in Jazan’s Al-Edabi governorate, after running self-funded touring exhibitions showcasing items of interest from the region.

The province celebrates its coffee trees by holding a festival attended by the governor of the region, some officials and people interested in coffee from around the world.

The museum presents the unique heritage of the region under one roof.

After originally organizing small exhibitions around the region, Al-Ghazwani decided to open her museum helped by locals who assisted her in gathering together a range of heritage objects including weapons, utensils, and agricultural tools.

The museum, in Bassam village, is open to visitors and is located close to five heritage sites containing hundreds of historical buildings.

Her permanent display is now made up of more than 600 rare artifacts, some dating back 1,000 years, tracing the rich history of the mountainous south of the Kingdom.

But Al-Ghazwani, who is studying at Jazan University’s College of Shariah and Law, is looking for financial support and donations of historical items to help expand her museum business.


Collecting rare artifacts under one roof is just the first step. Maintenance of these exhibits is also very important to keep them preserved for posterity.

“We need financial and moral support. There is still a dirt road that leads to the museum, which needs a larger space. I used a piece of land I owned to establish the project. We look forward to the support of businessmen in making this project successful,” she said.

“I am passionate about history. I established the museum with the help of my husband, children, and several other people and it presents the unique heritage of the region under one roof,” Al-Ghazwani said.

She used her own money to fund the touring displays and, on many occasions, had to sell her gold jewelry to keep her dream alive.



Saudi Arabia launches campaign bid to host 2030 Asian Games in Riyadh

October 05, 2020

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sports minister on Sunday launched the Kingdom’s official campaign to help secure enough votes from members of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to host the 21st Asian Games in 2030.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who is also chairman of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC), formally submitted the country’s application bid to the governing body, nominating Riyadh to stage the event.

Officials are due to decide on which city will host the games (known as the Asiad) when they meet for their 39th OCA General Assembly in Muscat, Oman on Dec. 16. The other city still in contention is the Qatari capital Doha.

The prince said: “Hosting the 2030 Asian Games is a great honor and an opportunity to inspire a new generation of athletes across the Asian continent and reach the largest audience in the Kingdom’s sports hosting history.

“We are excited (at the chance) to host the first-ever Asian Games (in Saudi Arabia), in light of the support of the government of King Salman and the crown prince.”

He added that the Kingdom had recently hosted a number of high-profile international sporting events and that securing the Asiad would provide a golden opportunity to advance long-term sports, societal, and cultural changes for the nation.

The minister had been speaking at a ceremony also attended by Princess Reema bint Bandar, who is a member of the board of directors of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US, and other Saudi sports officials and athletes.

If Riyadh were to win its hosting bid, Prince Abdul Aziz said: “We promise to organize a successful tournament by all standards, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

Princess Reema said that Riyadh 2030 would be a vibrant and diverse event in a unique atmosphere, using pre-existing sporting venues along with purpose-built facilities, pointing out that it would “create a platform to highlight the power of the Olympic Games throughout the yellow continent (Asia), and consolidate its values.”

She added: “By working with the OCA, Riyadh 2030 would provide a legacy of diversity and participation across the nation, which would have a major impact in the coming decades.”

Prince Nawaf bin Faisal bin Fahad, honorary member of the IOC and former president of SAOC, said that raising the level of female participation in sports was a key goal of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan under its quality of life program.

He noted that the aim was to increase women’s involvement in sporting activities by 40 percent, in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to promote and support its elite athletes in becoming top medal winners in international competitions.

Meanwhile, Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdul Aziz, vice president of the SAOC, said that if the Saudi capital were named to host the Asiad, the main stadium would be located in Qiddiya along with a water sports center and cricket ground.

“We are committed to supporting Olympic values and a shift toward more sustainable and socially responsible games,” he added.

Saudi runner Hadi Sawan, who won the first Saudi Olympic medal in 2000, said that the Kingdom’s dream was to host the 2030 Asian Games.

And Saudi equestrian, Dalma Malhas, who won the bronze medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, said that staging the sports festival at amazing and modern venues in Riyadh would provide a platform to meet the needs of the continent’s best athletes and allow them to shine.

The bid file submitted by Prince Abdul Aziz to the OCA included world-class venues and facilities connected to the latest environmentally friendly transportation systems.

It said the impact of the games would inspire the Asian Olympic movement throughout the continent by spreading sporting values and enhancing communication, not only in sport but socially and culturally too, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

To mark the Saudi campaign launch, the Riyadh 2030 hosting committee released its official social media accounts under the name RiyadhAG2030.



Saudi Education Ministry weighs distance learning with return to classroom

05 October 2020

JEDDAH: Parents of school-age children in the Kingdom are anxiously waiting for the news about the reopening of schools as many of them are concerned about the upcoming flu season and the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh said his ministry evaluated the remote educational process after 5 weeks of its implementation since the beginning of the school year and submitted the results to the higher authorities and the Health Ministry to decide whether to return to traditional schooling or continue with distance learning.

The school year in the Kingdom began on Aug. 30. Due to the pandemic, classes are being held online to ensure social distancing and curb the spread of the virus.

The wait is keeping parents on their toes as many have already adjusted to home schooling their children and are now afraid of what to expect next especially given the rise in cases after the resumption of schools in the UK, US and other countries.

According to Al-Sheikh, distance learning has now become a strategic option for the future, requiring continuous development.

Some parents believe that classroom learning is more effective, but they are reluctant to send their children back to schools for fear they might contract COVID-19.

“I am hesitant to have them go back to school. In the classroom, they focus better and absorb more information. At the same time, I’m scared because children’s immune systems are weak and still developing, so they contract viruses quickly. I would prefer it if they continue this semester electronically,” said Dina Al-Nahari, mother of two daughters aged 8 and 5.

Online learning carries some disadvantages, such as technical glitches, audiovisual problems or internet connectivity issues.

“It is a good platform, but there were a few shortcomings in certain classes. Some teachers rely on videos to give examples and when students have a question, sometimes the teacher cannot hear them,” Al-Nahari told Arab News.

“My daughters relied on me more to explain certain chapters. I would come home from work at 2:30 p.m. and immediately log onto the platform. The girls would mute their microphones to ask me what was being displayed, and I would explain it to them.”

Dr. Rafat Mosalli, an associate professor of pediatrics at Umm Al-Qura University, said there has not been any evidence that primary schools are the main source of COVID-19 infections in children.

He advised parents to tackle the issue calmly.

“School closures have had a negative impact on children’s health — their educational, physical, psychosocial and mental development — as well as on family wellness and the overall economy,” he told Arab News.

“As we enter the second semester (of online learning), children are psychologically accustomed to the house now,” said Mosalli.

“Children fear the image they have created in their minds about the virus, which they see as a monster. They are consumed by the idea that they might be harmed greatly by the virus. It is a global psychological problem.

“Whether a child can go back to school depends on their health condition, the current transmission rate of COVID-19 within our community, and the protective measures that schools, the health sector and the community have put in place to reduce the risk of transmission — all of which are very satisfactory,” he said.

“Children who are suffering from certain conditions such as asthma, obesity, cancer or premature babies with weak immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe diseases than children without other health conditions,” Mosalli said.

He said children under the age of 14 represent less than 8 percent of the reported cases worldwide, with fewer deaths.

“The symptoms are usually mild. We still need further international and national studies to better understand transmission of the virus in this age group,” Mosalli said.

While current evidence suggests the risk of complication and death in children is lower overall than for adults, special precautions still need be taken to minimize the risk of infection among children.

“The overall benefits of returning to school should also be considered,” Mosalli added.



Saudi Arabia’s Al-Manzalawi elected to UN’s Third Committee

October 05, 2020

NEW YORK: The UN General Assembly on Monday elected Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Manzalawi, the deputy permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, vice chairman of the Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs (Third Committee).

He was elected by consensus of 193 countries, which reflects the confidence of the international community on Saudi Arabia.

It is also recognition of the Kingdom’s great humanitarian role in various parts of the world. Saudi Arabia extends help to nations facing wars or affected by natural disasters without any discrimination.

Al-Manzalawi served many years in different diplomatic positions around the world. He was the head of the Saudi Permanent Mission to the UN at the Human Rights Division in Geneva, Switzerland between 2012 and 2016.




Mali: Over a Hundred Islamic extremists freed

By Tancrede Chambraud

Soumaila Cissé's six month detention at the hands of suspected jihadis could soon be other.

Over the weekend, Well over a hundred Islamic extremists were freed from jails in Mali.

In war torn Mali, such releases are not common, but the move takes place in a very special context.

According to sources, Malian authorities are currently negociating to free opposition leader Soumaila Cissé, and humanitarian aid worker Sophie Petronin.

Three times runner-up in the presidential elections Soumaïla Cissé was campaigning in Timbuktu ahead of the legislative elections when he was kidnapped on March 25th.

Sophie Petronin, a French aid worker has been kept in captivity since 2016.In the last video where she appeared, Petronin along side other hostages seemed very weak, prompting further calls for her release. Should both hostages be released, it would be seen as a great success for the new transitional government, after former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's failure in the issue.


 Rise and rise of non-interest (Islamic) banking

October 6, 2020

Let me say from the outset, that this week’s write-up is from the perspective of a financial lawyer. This is all the more so for the technical nature of the subject matter, and the need for wider public education about it. In a novel capital market move last week, September 29, 2020, Jaiz bank’s floating of N13bn “private placement” barely made the headlines except for a cursory mention in a couple of dailies. This is probably because it has become run-of-the-mill, or that the public just does not give a hoot. Neither of these is true in essence, although it is fair to say that Jaiz bank is no longer associated with the more common label, ‘Islamic bank’, even if that is what it actually is. It is also rational to eschew the label given that a host of other banks in the high street are being fronted by people of the Christian faith, but none of them is tagged ‘Christian bank’. Islamic banking has only really gained currency in mainstream finance fairly recently, starting with the opening of the first of such banks in Dubai in 1975. Its presence now (in over 70 countries), is a reflection of the growing confidence and financial power of majority Muslim states around the world, but most notably in Asia and the Middle-East.

Nigeria, with a substantial Muslim population, but ethnically diverse, is avowedly a “secular” state by design. Bizarrely though, it is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Fifty three of its 57 members are majority-Muslim states. Those who pushed for Nigeria’s membership of the OIC despite its secular constitution, point to the country’s membership of the Commonwealth countries and their Anglophone worldview, and the need to counterbalance that with the OIC with its Islamic worldview. The former fervently believes in interest (riba) as an equitable reward, the latter does not.

The first thing that should strike the reader at this juncture is, how come people are not rushing down to Jaiz bank in a stampede for their allocation of interest-free loans? After all, mainstream commercial banks in this country are notorious for the exorbitant interests they charge on loans (22% on average, though the Central Bank of Nigeria guidelines are considerably lower). How come any bank dares throw money at people with no obligation to pay interest? Why, ipso-facto, is Jaiz bank not found on every corner of the major towns and cities in Nigeria, dishing out well-needed cash to businesses struggling with crippling interest rates? Well, Jaiz bank or not, Islamic finance or not, it is still the power of market forces, is it not? And, you guessed it, there is no such thing as a free lunch in capitalism. That begs the curious question as to how non-interest banking survives and even thrives in the dog-eat-dog world of finance and capital accumulation. Let us remember, 20% of the world’s population is of the Islamic faith, and less than one per cent of global securities (in the capital markets) are Sharia-compliant. Total Sharia-compliant products in the world are under $2tn so, there is a considerable scope for growth in that sector. Still, how does a bank that charges no interest recoup its investment? One thing for sure is, unlike teachers, Islamic banks are certainly not hoping for their rewards in heaven.

First, let us examine the content of the Jaiz bank’s “private placement”. What exactly does that entail? The answer is, it is simply another way of saying offer of shares. Public offer involves the issuance of fresh shares not to the ‘public’ at large (contrary to what the layman might assume), but to a wide group of institutional investors. “Private placement” is simply a different type of offer made to a smaller group of institutional investors say, a dozen or thereabouts. And, it is called a ‘placing’ where only a handful of institutional investors between them will take up the whole issue either to keep or sell-on. Jaiz bank says they are doing this in order to generate capital that they plan to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises. They are also doing that, I would add, because it is cheaper and cost-effective. The businesses so benefited will, of course, turn in tangible profits for the bank. Jaiz bank wants to be the “leading non-interest financial institution in sub-Saharan Africa”, according to its Managing Director, Hassan Usman. Judging by the bank’s recent profit forecast of N600m after tax, it is on track to fulfil that goal. So far, so good, it seems. Why then is the bank not expanding more rapidly, scooping up new customers along the way? It is because Islamic finance has strict limits to the type of business they extend funding to. Speculative markets (gharar), brewing, gambling industries, entertainment and a host of others are excluded. Furthermore, all investment packages have to be vetted and approved by an Islamic board of scholars. And, these scholars do not always subscribe to the same doctrinal interpretation of Sharia law. It goes with the territory; lawyers, by nature, often draw different inferences from similar facts in front of them. The lack of uniformity is a hindrance to the development and growth of Islamic finance as Muslims in different regions do not always accept products sanctioned under a different interpretation of Sharia.

In respect of making money, Islamic banking is more in tune with asset finance. Rather than make loans like the typical high street bank does, they fund the assets for customers by buying them, then, selling (either simultaneously or later) back to the customer for payment at an agreed date with a “mark-up” (murabaha), generating a healthy return for the bank. Islamic banking is somehow insulated from the credit crunch afflicting the market in bad times, but it needs a much larger pull of customers to sustain growth. So, is there an attempt to ‘Islamise’ the country where Islamic banking operates? The answer is of course No! That is even an absurd suggestion by any objective assessment. Does it promote Muslim ‘brotherhood’ and potentially augment tolerance of the Islamic faith? Of course, it does. And, why not? Christians too have (or used to have) a phobia for moneylending. Jesus Christ threw out the moneylenders from the Temple, remember? Besides, interest-free banking is only ‘Islamic’ in a limited way. Interest-free finance of consumer goods has been a major way of boosting sales in high street malls for half a century in Western economies. Even the Sharia idea of prohibition on investment in ‘non-Islamic’ products is not exclusive to the Muslim faith either.

‘Ethical’ investors in Western economies also create their own list of contraband items. Apartheid South Africa suffered from international boycott of its manufacture exports for decades, Iran currently suffers from a wholesale boycott of its international trade initiated by the Trump administration in America, with third party consequences. What Islamic banking struggles with more than anything, is image, underlined by the irrational fear that any wealth accumulated in its name might be diverted to further the cause of religious fundamentalism at some unfathomable point in the future.Or, in the case of Nigeria, to ‘Islamise’ the country. No such thing is ever possible while Nigeria remains. Money, it is said, is the root of all evil. That too is a shared belief across all religions. It has taken a while before Islamic banking became rooted on the Nigerian soil. It is actively encouraged across Western markets where there is no immediate fear of Islamisation, and frankly, where non-interest banking is less beneficial to the populace. It is treated with apprehension here in Nigeria, ironically, where there is a greater need for such, and apprehension because Islam remains a political, and not a religious philosophy.




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