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Islamic World News ( 30 Aug 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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PM Narendra Modi Remembers Martyrdom of Imam Hussain On Day of Ashura

New Age Islam News Bureau

30 August 2020


Narendra Modi has tweeted remembering the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.


• Pro-Islamic State Supporters Have Administered Home-Based Schooling in Indonesia

• Al-Qaeda Reacts To UAE-Israel Peace Deal with Image Criticizing Abu Dhabi Rulers

• Israeli Minister Hopes for UAE Normalization Ceremony in US Next Month

• Top US Official to Be On 1st Israel-UAE Flight

• Karbala Incident, A Message to Wage Jihad Against Oppression: Pak Punjab CM

• Ashura Being Observed Differently Without Tazia Processions in Bangladesh

• Riots in Sweden’s Malmo City After Quran Burning by Far-Right Activists



• PM Narendra Modi Remembers Martyrdom of Imam Hussain On Day of Ashura

• Delhi HC refuses to vacate stay on Sudarshan TV show after controversy

• NCRB data: Higher share of Dalits, tribals, Muslims in prison than numbers outside

• At least 19 injured in pellet firing, teargas shelling on Shia mourners in J-K's Srinagar

• Soldier, Hizb trio killed in Pulwama encounter


Southeast Asia

• Pro-Islamic State Supporters Have Administered Home-Based Schooling in Indonesia

• Zaidi thanks PAS and PN allies for massive win

• Muhyiddin sad at not having Shafie beside him at the top

• Think of Sabah’s future when voting next month, urges Muhyiddin


Arab world

• Al-Qaeda Reacts To UAE-Israel Peace Deal with Image Criticizing Abu Dhabi Rulers

• UAE Scraps Israel Boycott in New Step Towards Normal Ties

• Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah calls for boycott of Al Arabiya, Al Hadath

• Nasrallah: Millions of dollars being spent on media war against Hezbollah

• Shiite Muslims mark holy day of mourning in virus’ shadow

• Syrian opposition calls on major powers to back nationwide ceasefire



• Israeli Minister Hopes for UAE Normalization Ceremony in US Next Month

• Spokesman: Iran Deems Case of Imam Musa Al-Sadr as Important

• Iranian Envoy Lauds China for Resistance against US Unilaterlism

• ‘Israeli tanks shell southern Gaza on 24th day of attacks’

• Israeli protesters decry corruption, keep pressure on Netanyahu

• Yemeni forces arrest senior al-Qaeda leader in Sana'a: Interior ministry

• Israel demolished, sized 25 Palestinian-owned structures in West Bank in 2 weeks: UN

• Palestinian groups ready for 'long-term' battle against Israel amid Gaza escalation

• Thousands gather in Israel for anti-Netanyahu weekly rallies


North America

• Top US Official to Be On 1st Israel-UAE Flight

• Muslim-American groups mobilise to get voters registered for election day

• US hails close partnership with Libyan prime minister



• Karbala Incident, A Message to Wage Jihad Against Oppression: Pak Punjab CM

• Sacrifices of Hazrat Imam Hussain, his family and companions commemorated

• Parties seek written deal before opposition conference

• Justice Isa’s wife seeks income tax details of PM, others

• Officials involved in fraud must face dismissal: SC

• CM Usman Buzdar for following teachings of Imam Hussain (RA)


South Asia

• Ashura Being Observed Differently Without Tazia Processions in Bangladesh

• Hezb-e-Islami Leader Hekmatyar: India-Afghanistan to Form a Militia, India Refutes

• The rise of Mullah Yaqoob, the Taliban's new military chief

• Ghani Approves Members of HCNR



• Riots in Sweden’s Malmo City After Quran Burning by Far-Right Activists

• Turkey condemns Islamophobic incident in Sweden

• Belgium: Ex-advisor supports Turkey on Mediterranean

• German specialist supports Turkish views on East Med.



• UN Expresses Concern Over ‘Dramatic Turn’ In Libya Crisis

• Jordan Court Affirms Muslim Brotherhood 'Does Not Exist' In Latest Twist Over Rival Groups

• Nigerians migrants attack medics at Rome coronavirus centre

• Mali’s military junta postpones first meeting over transfer of powers

• Boko Haram militants kill two, kidnap two in northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri

• Thousands still missing in South Sudan: Rights group

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 PM Narendra Modi remembers martyrdom of Imam Hussain on day of Ashura

Aug 30, 2020


Narendra Modi has tweeted remembering the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.



NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday remembered the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (AS) on the Day of Ashura.

"We recall the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (AS). For him, there was nothing more important than the values of truth and justice. His emphasis on equality as well as fairness are noteworthy and give strength to many," PM tweeted.

This year, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the annual procession has been barred in most parts of the country.

The Day of Ashura is being observed today across the world to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.

Sunday is the tenth day of the first month of the Islamic calendar. On this day, Imam Hussain, along with several of his companions and family members were martyred, while his surviving family members were taken prisoners.


Pro-Islamic State Supporters Have Administered Home-Based Schooling in Indonesia

August 30, 2020

By V. Arianti and Ahmad Saiful Rijal


"We Are All ISIS," propaganda from Islamic State.


Islamic State supporters have administered tens of home-based schools, mostly in Java, according to estimates by PAKAR, an Indonesian NGO that studies radicalism in Indonesia. They name the schools Rumah Qur’an (RQ), which literally means Qur’anic House.  It is technically a “boarding school” run in a house where the students live and study in a cramped environment.

Depending on the capacity of the house, a pro-IS RQ can accommodate eight to two dozen students, either single or mixed genders (segregated) in one compound. How are the schools grooming the potential “cubs” of IS, also known as ISIS?

Assessing the School’s Curriculum

Based on the publicly available social media accounts of some pro-IS schools, they offer tahfidz (memorising the Qur’an) programmes. However, their curriculum appears to be beyond merely memorising the verses. In essence, the schools offer religious classes with a Salafi curriculum. Two subjects highlighted as core subjects are Arabic language and Tawhid (Islamic Monotheism).

According to the posts, Arabic language is important in order to understand the Holy Quran as well as the Prophetic Tradition while Tawhid is central to a Muslim’s faith. While both subjects are traditionally important for all Muslims, the Salafi doctrinal orientation emphasises a rigid understanding of Tawhid that requires the abolition of all manifestations of shirk (polytheism), bara’ (disassociation) as well as takfir (excommunication) of so-called polytheists.

It is important to note that Salafism is not the root cause of terrorism; however for IS, it is pivotal for them to plant the seeds of antagonism towards the ‘enemies’ of Islam by exploiting certain religious concepts such as the Salafi doctrine of takfir.

The latter has been used to legitimise the IS’ killing of Muslims as well as others. As a result, IS supporters who run the RQs in Indonesia have co-opted Salafi principles as their correct theological approach to Islam.

“Nullifiers of Islam”

Much has been discussed about the idea of Caliphate espoused by IS and how it has managed to attract fighters across the world, but the concept of ‘nullifiers’ of Islam legitimises the atrocities that IS has committed against Muslims. This idea forms the basis for IS to isolate and excommunicate Muslims for supposedly not adhering to the ‘true’ teachings of Islam.

Pro-IS schools have adopted the book titled “Pembatalan Islam” as the core reference for the study of Tawhid, the fundamental principle of monotheism in Islam. The book is a translated treatise known as “The Nullifiers of Islam” written by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism.

According to ‘Abd al-Wahhab, as explained by the scholar Shaikh Abdullah an-Najmi, this set of ten nullifiers can invalidate one’s religion and good deeds. If a person commits any one of these nullifiers and his good deeds become void, he will be relegated to the rank of unbelievers. One of the nullifiers notes that “Whoever does not excommunicate the polytheists, or is doubtful about their unbelief, or affirms the validity of their doctrine – he is an unbeliever by consensus”.

Among the posts by the home-based pro IS schools, one argues that parents who love their children should let them study Tawhid instead of Mathematics, English and National Civic Education. This is because they are the next generation of Muwahhid (monotheist). This term Muwahhid has been used by IS in its propaganda videos as well as publications. It refers to those who not just profess God’s unity but also those who perform jihad against the enemies.

In another post, a screenshot of a related WhatsApp group highlighted the achievement of some students who have completed several topics on Tawhid based on a booklet called “Alwaajibat” (the obligatory upon Muslims), also written by ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. The post mentioned that it is imperative to educate the young against the polytheistic peril of modern times such as democracy and other forms of political systems which do not recognise Sharia law. Such posts have garnered a lot of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ among its followers.

Slowing Growth of Militant ‘Cubs’

The number of pro-IS home-based schools will likely grow as the administrators aim to establish more such schools across the country. Law enforcement agencies are not able to arrest such growth as the administrators of the schools are not technically involved in terror acts.

The home-based pro-IS schools have attracted both parents who are supporters of IS and parents in the local neighbourhood who are not IS supporters. Just as parents involved in Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the largest jihadi group in Indonesia, enrol their children to study at JI schools, IS parents and supporters would see such schools as important institutions to instil IS values in their children.

Moreover, children of the pro-IS followers who are detained and slain pro-IS militants are sponsored by pro-IS charity groups when they go to such schools. For the unsuspecting non-IS parents, who live in the vicinity of a pro-IS school, they may be enticed by the school’s claim that it offers the “true” teachings of Islam.

To slow the creation of a new generation of militant ‘cubs’, more needs to be done to stem the growth of such schools if they purvey values that are antithetical to the security of the country. The Indonesian government and civil society organisations could mitigate it by first, ensuring that the children of radical inmates and slain militants do not study at those schools.

This would help to stop the cycle of radicalism within IS families. Second, there should be general education within the community about such schools, especially among unsuspecting parents who merely want a religious education for their children.

*V. Arianti and Ahmad Saiful Rijal are both Associate Research Fellows at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), a constituent unit in the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.


Al-Qaeda reacts to UAE-Israel peace deal with image criticizing Abu Dhabi rulers

Tommy Hilton

29 August 2020


An image reportedly showing an al-Qaeda video responding to the Israel-UAE peace deal. The Arabic reads Who is for Bin Zayed? He has wronged Allah & his Prophet. (Twitter, Elisabeth Kendall)


The terrorist organization al-Qaeda in Yemen appears to have reacted to the historic peace deal between Israel and the UAE with a video thumbnail criticizing Abu Dhabi’s rulers, according to a post by an analyst on Twitter.

Earlier this month Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize ties in exchange for Israel halting its proposed annexation of the West Bank, paving the way for commercial deals, telephone links, and flights between the two countries.

While many, including the US and Bahrain, have praised the agreement, others have criticized it as premature and lacking solid concessions for the Palestinians.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

On Friday, the global terrorist organization al-Qaeda, the same group behind the infamous September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, also appeared to weigh in on the issue.

According to a post by Oxford University’s Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, whose specialisms include Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, the group has released a video featuring graffiti that criticizes Abu Dhabi’s ruling family on an image of the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem.

“Who’s for Bin Zayed? He has wronged Allah & his Prophet,” says the graffiti, in reference to the UAE President and Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan or Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The video, which Al Arabiya English could not access for verification, appears to be from the organization’s al-Malahem Media channel. It shows an image of Ibrahim al-Qusi, a Sudanese paymaster for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who was previously held in the US Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.

According to Kendall, the image of al-Qusi and not AQAP leader Khalid bin Umar Batarfi, could suggest infighting in the group.

Despite the US and its allies killing former al-Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and hunting the group globally, al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain active in many countries including Yemen and Libya.


Israeli minister hopes for UAE normalization ceremony in US next month

30 August 2020

Israel hopes to hold a Washington ceremony solemnizing its normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates by mid-September, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet said on Sunday.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“This agreement is expected to be signed in the month of September in the city of Washington,” Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis told public broadcaster Kan.

“It will happen - is meant to happen, so I hope – before our Rosh Hashanah. There is still no date, but this is certainly the desire of the government of Israel.”

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is on September 18.


Top US official to be on 1st Israel-UAE flight

Michael Hernandez 



US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor said on Friday that he will be on the first commercial flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Israel.

Robert O'Brien confirmed his plan in a virtual address to the Atlantic Council think tank, ending speculation sparked by reports earlier this week that he and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner would be on the historic flight.

O’Brien said he will be departing for Israel on Saturday.

An Israeli delegation is also expected to be on the flight, which is scheduled to depart from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport for Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The flight will likely be operated by Israel’s national flag carrier El Al, said O’Brien.

“What a great thing to have the UAE, which is a finance center in the Middle East and a great partner of the United States, and the start-up nation, the center of innovation in the Middle East, Israel, our great democratic ally, come together,” he said.

The flight will be the first between the nations since the US brokered the opening of bilateral diplomatic relations.

The deal, however, has already hit turbulence over the UAE's desire to purchase F-35 jets, which Israel has vocally opposed on national security grounds.

Shortly after announcing the normalization agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement includes direct flights from Tel Aviv to UAE airports, passing through Saudi airspace.

Saudi Arabia has not issued any confirmation or denial about allowing Israeli airplanes to cross its airspace, with Riyadh also refraining from issuing any public criticism of the agreement.


Karbala Incident, A Message To Wage Jihad Against Oppression: Pak Punjab CM

August 30, 2020

LAHORE      -      Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has said that Muharram-ul-Haram commemorates the glorious sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) for upholding of Islam.

Incident of Karbala gives us the lesson that forces of evil have to face defeat while Islam will remain forever.

Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) upheld the truth and did not bow before evil.

The grief of Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) and other martyrs of Karbala will remain forever.  He said that the great sacrifices of martyrs of Karbala have revived the universal principles of Islam including patience, tolerance and sacrifice till the Day of Judgment.

The battle between truth and falsehood in Karbala teaches Muslims to wage Jihad against oppression and evil.

The battle between good and evil has been going on for many decades in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and thousands of Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives and fulfilling the greatest tradition of Karbala.

The tyrant Modi has perpetrated brutality and barbarism in Occupied Kashmir and has become the Yazeed of the present era.  The day is not far away when the sacrifices of the martyrs will bear fruits and the name of Modi will be erased from history.

He said that the glorious sacrifices rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) and his companions in the Karbala are a beacon for us.

The journey of the martyrs of Karbala, their courage and immortal sacrifices will continue to provide encouragement and enthusiasm to the oppressed nations till the end of the time.

The Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson, with his deeds and actions taught us to raise the voice for truth and protect human values.  He said that the struggle of Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) is an everlasting message of being strong against oppression.

Directs peaceful atmosphere be ensured at any cost on Ashur  Buzdar on Saturday visited the central control room at the Civil Secretariat to monitor the security arrangements for Muharram-ul-Haram.

The Chief Minister also inspected different sections of the central control room.  Additional Secretary Home briefed the Chief Minister about the security arrangements.

Usman Buzdar said that majalis and processions held across the Punjab have been geotagged and Pakistan Army and the Rangers have been called for the assistance in security arrangements.

Majalis and processions are being monitored through CCTV cameras. He directed that a peaceful atmosphere should be ensured at any cost.

He directed to observe route and punctuality for Majalis and processions.

He directed members of Peace Committees to play a vibrant role for promoting religious harmony. He said that there will be no compromise on the publication and distribution of objectionable material and indiscriminate action should be taken on violation. He said that code of conduct should be ensured at any cost.  Law enforcement agencies should remain vigilant and all energies and capabilities should be utilised for maintaining law & order.

He said that more than two lac 40 thousand police officers and officials will perform duty in Punjab. Whereas, 676 places across the province have been declared sensitive and security has been made alert.

He said that a timely meal should be provided to the on duty police personnel.  He said that today (Ashura day) police, administration and other agencies should display ideal cooperation.

He said that law enforcement agencies should maintain close liaison with each other.  Police officials should remain on duty till the peaceful dispersal of the processions.

The Chief Minister appreciated the arrangements made in the central control room and praised the performance of the officers and staff. He directed them to perform their duties wholeheartedly.

Chief Minister was briefed that special arrangements have been made for CCTV coverage, dashboard and media monitoring in the central control room.

He was further informed that digital monitoring of 37,562 and 9,717 processions are being carried out throughout the province.

Central control room has been linked with divisional and district control rooms.  Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police, Additional Chief Secretary, Chief Secretary (Home), Principal Secretary to CM, Special Secretary (Home), Secretary Information and concerned authorities were present on the occasion.


Ashura Being Observed Differently Without Tazia Processions in Bangladesh

August 30th, 2020

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages on the eve of the holy Ashura

The holy Ashura, commemorating the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hossain Ibn Ali (RA), is being observed across the country on Sunday, without any Tazia procession from Dhaka.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has banned all kinds of Tazia, mourning and pike processions in the Dhaka metropolitan area on the occasion of the holy Ashura due to the ongoing pandemic.

However, devoted city dwellers will be able to perform religious rite in compliance with the health rules. But carrying of knives, daggers, scissors, spears, swords, sticks and displaying of fireworks and crackers is strictly prohibited in these programs. 

The DMP urged not to allow anybody to enter the function venue without wearing masks and asked everyone to apply necessary health protective measures at all stages.

Sunday is the 10th day of the month of Muharram in Hijri calendar. Muslims across the world recall the sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hossain (RA) along with his family members and 72 followers, who embraced martyrdom in 680 AD for establishing truth and justice in the fight with soldiers of Yazid on Karbala Maidan in Iraq.

President, PM issued separate messages

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday issued separate messages on the eve of the holy Ashura, paying deep respect to Hazrat Imam Hossain (RA) and other martyrs of Karbala.

In his message, the president said, “The holy Ashura is a significant and mourning day for the whole Muslim Ummah.”

On Muharram 10 in Hijri 61, Hazrat Imam Hossain (RA), grandson of Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH), his family members and his companions embraced martyrdom for establishing truth and justice in the fight with soldiers of Yazid on Karbala Maidan, he added.

Their supreme sacrifice for upholding the ideals of Islam remains as a glorious event in the history, Hamid said.

He said the tragic incident of Karbala inspires “us” to be vocal against any injustice and repression and lead the life in the path of truth and beauty.

“Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. There is no room here for confrontation, jealousy and envy,” the president added.

The president hoped that the lesson of Ashura would act as the source of inspiration for all to spread the light of truth and beauty in the society along with establishing the social and religious values.

The prime minister, in her message, said the sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hossain (RA) and his companions to establish truth and justice in society is a glaring and emulating example for the Muslim Ummah across the world.

“We, however, are observing the Ashura this year in a crisis period. The coronavirus has paralyzed the whole world. Our government is taking all necessary steps to face the situation. We continue all sorts of support to the people,” said Sheikh Hasina.

Allah tests the patience of people when they are in trouble, the premier said, adding that everyone should come forward to help each other with patience and tolerance during this time.

She urged all to follow health guidelines and offer special prayers to the Almighty Allah seeking relief from the lethal virus.

“Let’s build a discrimination-free, happy, prosperous and peaceful Bangladesh being imbued with the spirit of the holy Ashura by participating in welfare-oriented works from our respective positions in establishing truth and justice at the national level,” the prime minister said.

During the ongoing coronavirus crisis, a short program has been taken all over the country, including Dhaka, on this occasion. Police have taken special security measures in the capital marking the occasion.

The day is a public holiday.

Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private TV channels will air special programs while newspapers and online news portals publish supplements highlighting the significance of the day.


Riots in Sweden’s Malmo city after Quran burning by far-right activists

Posted by:Harshit Sabarwal

Aug 29, 2020

Far-right activists burned a Quran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, sparking riots and unrest after more than 300 people gathered to protest, police said Saturday.

Rioters set fires and threw objects at police and rescue services Friday night, slightly injuring several police officers and leading to the detention of about 15 people.

The violence followed the burning Friday afternoon of a Quran, near a predominantly migrant neighbourhood, that was carried out by far-right activists and filmed and posted online, according to the TT news agency.

Later, three people were arrested on suspicion of inciting hatred against an ethnic group after kicking the Muslim holy book.





Delhi HC refuses to vacate stay on Sudarshan TV show after controversy

Edited by Arpan Rai

Aug 29, 2020

Delhi High Court on Saturay refused to vacate the stay on the telecast of the show ‘Bindas Bol’ to be telecast by on private television channel Sudarshan TV. The court has asked Centre to decide on the notice given to the channel within 48 hours from September 1.

The private television channel’s controversial programme which claimed a ‘big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’ came under judicial scrutiny before the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

In the viral clip, channel’s editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke had alleged a conspiracy in the “overwhelming” number of Muslim students clearing the Union Public Service Commission exams and was scheduled to broadcast big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’. While the apex court has fixed next date of hearing on September 15, the high court will hear the matter on September 7.


NCRB data: Higher share of Dalits, tribals, Muslims in prison than numbers outside

by Deeptiman Tiwary

August 30, 2020

The latest data on prisons released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that Dalits, tribals and Muslims continue to be jailed in numbers disproportionate to their share in the population, unlike OBCs and those belonging to the general category or upper castes.

The data, for the year 2019, also show that among the marginalised groups, Muslims are the one community which has more undertrials than convicts.

At the end of 2019, Dalits made up 21.7% of all convicts in jails across the country. The share of Scheduled Castes among undertrials languishing in jails stood at 21%. The 2011 Census put their share in the population at 16.6%.

In the case of tribals, the gap was equally big. While the Scheduled Tribes made up 13.6% of the convict population, and 10.5% of all undertrials in jails, the Census put their numbers at 8.6% of the population.

With a population share of 14.2%, Muslims formed 16.6% of all convicts, but 18.7% of all undertrials. This convict to undertrial ratio was reversed in case of both the Dalits and tribals.

“The data show that our criminal justice system is not only tardy but also loaded against the poor. Those who can hire good lawyers get bail easily and also have a fair shot at justice. The poor also tend to get sucked into petty crimes for lack of economic opportunities,” former chief of Bureau of Police Research and Development N R Wasan said.

The numbers are stark when compared to the share of OBCs and non-marginalised population in the various categories. While forming 41% of the population as per the National Sample Survey Organisation 2006 data, they represented 35% and 34% of the convicts and undertrials respectively.

The others broadly include upper caste Hindus and non-marginalised sections from other religions. Estimated to form 19.6% of the population, they formed 13% of the convicts and 16% of the undertrials.

Compared to the NCRB data from 2015, the Muslim proportion among undertrials fell in 2019, while rising slightly among convicts. In 2015, Muslims formed 20.9% of all undertrials in jails, and 15.8% of all convicts — compared to 18.7% and 16.6% in 2019.

For SCs and STs, the situation has not changed much over the past five years. Dalits formed around 21% of the convicts and undertrials in jails as per the 2015 NCRB data — almost the same as 2019. The tribal numbers have remained almost constant among convicts (13.7% in 2015, 13.6% last year), while falling among undertrials (12.4% in 2015 to 10.5% in 2019).

State-wise, the maximum number of Dalit undertrials in jails were in Uttar Pradesh (17,995), followed by Bihar (6,843) and Punjab (6,831). Most ST undertrials were in Madhya Pradesh (5,894), followed by UP (3,954) and Chhattisgarh (3,471). The maximum Muslim undertrials were in UP (21,139), followed by Bihar (4,758) and Madhya Pradesh (2,947).

A similar analysis for convicts showed the largest Dalit numbers (6,143) in UP, followed by MP (5,017) and Punjab (2,786). Most tribal convicts were in MP (5,303), Chhattisgarh (2,906) and Jharkhand (1,985). At 6,098, the largest number of Muslim convicts were in UP, followed by West Bengal (2,369) and Maharashtra (2,114).


At least 19 injured in pellet firing, teargas shelling on Shia mourners in J-K's Srinagar

Aug 29, 2020

SRINAGAR: At least 19 mourners were injured when the police fired teargas canisters and pellet shotguns to disperse a Muharram tazia procession in Srinagar’s Bemina area on Saturday.

The hospital sources and witnesses said that 12 of the injured were hit by pellets and that the condition of, at least, one of them who received multiple pellet entrance wounds in the face is stated to be critical.

The police burst teargas canisters to disperse the Shia mourners in Shalimar area too on the outskirts of the city later during the day.

However, a large number of mourners took to the streets in congested Gaw Kadal area of the summer capital, and amid chanting of slogans in praise of Imam Hussain began intense self-flagellation. The witnesses said that the police and other security forces watched them from a distance and did not try to interfere unlike at Bemina and Shalimar.

Imam Hussain was the grandson of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, who was martyred along with 71 of his family members and companions in the Battle of Karbala (Iraq) in October 680.

The police authorities said that only “mild force” was used against groups of people at a couple of places after they violated restrictions in force in parts of Srinagar in view of COVID-19 and tried to take out tazia processions, ignoring the appeals of the authorities to the contrary.

On Friday, the police detained dozens of Shia mourners to foil their repeated attempts to take out a tazia procession through the streets of uptown Srinagar. The authorities at dawn on Friday imposed restrictions under Section 144 CrPC on areas falling under eight police stations- Batamaloo, Shaheed Gunj, Karan Nagar, Maisuma, Kothi Bagh, Shergari, Krala Khud and Ram Munshi Bagh to hold back tazia processions.

Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner, Pandurang K Pole, on Thursday night announced a complete ban on holding of such rallies in view of the spike in COVID-19 deaths and positive cases in the Valley and urged the heads of religious organizations to use their influence and make people aware of the importance of following Coronavirus related SOPs including social distancing protocol and use of face masks while commemorating martyrdom of Imam Hussain.

Several Shia religious organizations and leaders had earlier announced that no mass rallies, processions or congregations (gatherings) would be held this year to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in view of coronavirus and appealed the devotees to follow SOPs strictly while even holding restricted majalis (mourning assemblies) in their respective areas. However, such appeals were ignored in some areas, including the central town of Budgam where the police used force to break up a large mourning procession on Wednesday.

The authorities said that curfew-like restrictions being enforced in parts of Srinagar and some other towns will be extended to more areas from Saturday midnight to hold back tazia and zuljinah procession on Sunday, the 10th day of Muharram. 

In Kashmir Valley, an official ban remains in force on organizing mourning rallies and processions along select traditional routes on the 8th and 10th day of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar, mainly in Srinagar ever since the separatist campaign became violent way back in 1989. Only small mourning rallies and processions with certain restrictions would be permitted in the areas having sizable Shia populations.

However this year, the authorities decided to impose a blanket ban on such rallies and procession in view of COVID-19.


Soldier, Hizb trio killed in Pulwama encounter

Aug 29, 2020

SRINAGAR: Three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists and an Army jawan were killed in an anti-terror operation at Zadoora area in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.

The slain ultras — identified as Pulwama residents Adil Hafiz, Arshid Ahmad Dar and Rouf Ahmad Mir — had a long criminal history and were part of groups involved in planning and carrying out numerous terror attacks in the area, including on police and security establishments. Adil was also wanted for an attack on a naka (check post) party at Prichoo Bridge in which a cop was killed and another injured, police said in a statement.

Based on intelligence inputs, a joint team of Army’s 50RR, CRPF’s 180 and 183 Bn, and J&K Police launched a cordon-and-search operation in Zadoora in the morning. “During the operation, as the presence of terrorists got ascertained, they were given the opportunity to surrender but the terrorists opened indiscriminate fire at the security forces, which was retaliated leading to an encounter,” the statement said. In the fire exchange, the Hizb trio was killed while a soldier sustained critical injuries. The injured, Sepoy Prashant Kumar Sharma, was shifted to a hospital where he succumbed, police said.

Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site of the encounter and taken into case records for further investigation.

In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the bodies of the slain terrorists will be sent to Baramulla for burial after the completion of medico-legal formalities. Their immediate family members will be allowed to participate in the last rites there, police said.



Southeast Asia


Zaidi thanks PAS and PN allies for massive win

Faiz Zainudin

August 29, 2020

TANJUNG MALIM: Victorious Barisan Nasional candidate Mohd Zaidi Aziz said tonight he was not surprised by his huge majority at the Slim by-election today.

He said strong cooperation among the parties in Muafakat Nasional had succeeded in attracting many voters, thus leading to his thumping success.

Zaidi, who is acting head of Tanjung Malim Umno division, thanked PAS for the party’s high commitment in terms of machinery and logistics to bring out as many voters as possible. “It is not easy for PAS, which has been Umno’s rival for a long time but because of MN, they voted for Umno,” he said.

“The same goes for the votes of the Chinese and Indian communities who voted for BN,” he said, thanking supporters of MCA, MIC, PAS, PPBM and friends in Perikatan Nasional.

Zaidi polled 13,060 votes while his main rival Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air obtained 2,115 votes. Amir stood as an independent as the party is awaiting registration. A third candidate, former teacher S. Santharasekaran polled 276 votes.


Muhyiddin sad at not having Shafie beside him at the top

August 29, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has expressed his sadness at not having Sabah caretaker chief minister Mohd Shafie Apdal, whom he described as his good friend, with him in leading the government.

Muhyiddin said that he and Shafie were comrades, especially in Umno until he was sacked and Shafie decided to leave the party.

“But what I am sad about is that now that I am the Prime Minister, the leadership of Sabah is not with me. He (Mohd Shafie) is my good friend.

“In politics, one day you can be friends and the next moment you are enemies. But when it comes to the administration of the country, as far as possible the federal and state governments must be the same, and of one heart and one mind,” he said.

However, Muhyiddin disclosed that Shafie had been at Kota Kinabalu airport today to welcome him on his first official visit to Sabah since becoming prime minister.

Photographs of the two leaders doing the fist bump at the airport has been widely shared by many social media and Internet users.

Muhyiddin made his remarks about Shafie when speaking at a social event with state political leaders at the Sabah International Convention Centre.


Think of Sabah’s future when voting next month, urges Muhyiddin

Durie Rainer Fong

August 29, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today urged the people to think of Sabah’s future when voting in the coming state election.

In his first address to a Sabahan gathering since becoming head of government last March, Muhyiddin said he did not want the state to be left behind in terms of development just because the state and federal governments were not of like mind.

“I’m in Sabah also because the election is almost here,” he said at a get-together with local ethnic groups and NGOs.

“And I would like to take this opportunity to urge the people of Sabah to decide their future carefully.

“As a PM who heads Perikatan Nasional (PN), I don’t want Sabah to be left behind. But I am saddened the state leadership is not with me … he (caretaker chief minister Shafie Apdal) is my friend.

“In politics, people can be enemies but in government administration, we must be ‘sehati sejiwa’ (of one heart, one mind).”

Muhyiddin stressed that although Sabah had the resources to manage itself, being a resource-rich state, “there are so many things that need to be done and achieved, and if we leave this to either the state or federal government only, it won’t work.

“But together, many things can be resolved, that’s the logic. Sabah must be saved. The one that can guarantee that is PN,” he said.

As such, he said he wanted the people to compare the differences between the state seeing eye to eye with the federal powers on the one hand, and being not aligned to each other, on the other hand.

“I want the people to think carefully when the election comes. I think it’s a good thing we have this election … we (can) improve on the previous result,” he said.

The election will be held on Sept 26 with nomination day on Sept 12 and early voting on Sept 22.

Earlier today, Muhyiddin addressed the state federal service and Rela members. He said the volunteer corps was one of the best platforms for the government to foster unity among the people, and announced a RM10 million allocation for the purchase of uniforms for Rela personnel in Sabah.

Musa Aman among those at meeting with Muhyiddin

Former chief minister Musa Aman was among those present at a meeting between Muhyiddin and Sabah community leaders at the Kota Kinabalu International Convention Center here tonight.

Musa arrived at about 7.30pm and was greeted by several leaders including Sabah PPBM chairman Hajiji Noor.

Leaders from PPBM, Umno, Parti Bersatu Sabah, STAR, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), MCA and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) are expected to attend the meeting.

Also present was Bung Moktar Radin, chairman of Sabah Barisan Nasional and Sabah Umno.



Arab world


UAE scraps Israel boycott in new step towards normal ties

30 Aug 2020

DUBAI: The president of the United Arab Emirates scrapped an economic boycott against Israel, allowing trade and financial agreements between the countries in another key step towards normal ties, the UAE’s state news agency reported on Saturday.

Israel and the UAE said on Aug 13 they would normalise diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by US President Donald Trump that reshapes the order of Middle East politics from the Palestinian issue to the fight against Iran.

President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a decree abolishing a boycott law as part of “the UAE’s efforts to expand diplomatic and commercial cooperation with Israel, leading to bilateral relations by stimulating economic growth and promoting technological innovation,” the WAM news agency said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said the UAE had taken “an important step towards peace, which will yield substantial economic and commercial achievements for both people while strengthening the stability in the region.”

The announcement came as Israeli flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines Ltd prepared to operate the country’s first direct flight between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi.

An Israeli government delegation and top aides to Trump, including his senior adviser Jared Kushner, are due to travel on the flight on Aug 31, a US official said.

Before the Aug 13 deal can be officially signed, details must be agreed on issues such as the opening of embassies, trade and travel links.

Israel's Channel 13 TV said bilateral trade could initially be worth $4 billion a year, a figure it said could soon be tripled or quadrupled. Government officials did not immediately confirm that estimate.

Israeli Agriculture Minister Alon Schuster said Israel was working on potential joint projects that could help improve the oil-rich Gulf nation’s food security, such as water desalination and crop cultivation in the desert.

“With their money and our experience, we could go a long way,” he told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM in an interview on Friday.

Officials from the two countries recently said they were looking at cooperation in defence, medicine, tourism and technology.

The decree announced on Saturday means UAE citizens and businesses will be free to do business with Israel.

The two countries do not yet have official air links, and it was unclear whether Monday’s El Al flight would be able to fly over Saudi Arabia — which has no official ties with Israel — to cut down on flight time.

In May, an Etihad Airways plane flew from the UAE to Tel Aviv to deliver supplies to the Palestinians to help fight coronavirus, marking the first known flight by an UAE carrier to Israel.


Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah calls for boycott of Al Arabiya, Al Hadath

29 August 2020

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called for a boycott of the Al Arabiya and Al Hadath channels during a televised speech marking Ashoura.

Nasrallah was speaking in a live television address marking the tenth night of the Islamic month of Muharram and the day of Ashoura.

“They pay money to spread poisons and go beyond lying to provocation and insults against Hezbollah,” Nasrallah said in his attack of the media against his group, naming Al Arabiya, Al Hadath and UAE’s Sky News Arabia during his speech.

“They depend on a policy of pumping media via attack articles and social media. When you turn on the television, each attack comes at the same time, because they all have the same management, brothers and sisters, in a dark room the runs,” Nasrallah said.

“You’ll find the report on Al Arabiya, Al Hadath, Sky News, us Lebanese what do we need from them? This and that television channel … The newspapers, the same report sometimes has the same text. So if you have media outlets which are built on hostility, lying, deception and forgery, why should you watch it?” he added.

Nasrallah then jokingly threatened to alternatively “cut off the broadcasts” of Al Arabiya, Al Hadath, and Sky News Arabia.


Nasrallah: Millions of dollars being spent on media war against Hezbollah

30 August 2020

Hezbollah’s secretary-general says Arab and Western embassies in Lebanon are spending “millions” of dollars on a media war targeting the Lebanese resistance movement.

The foreign embassies pay the hefty sums to “media outlets to target Hezbollah by spreading false news and lies,” Lebanese news website al-Ahed cited Hezbollah’s chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as saying in a speech on Saturday.

“They are paying money in exchange for spewing venom,” Nasrallah said. “They have gone beyond the realms of lying, [going as far as] provocation, insults, and slurs against Hezbollah.”

He said the smear campaign of such proportions against the group was unprecedented.

The Hezbollah chief said the media war was being directed from a command center that sometimes fed the same misinformation to all of its subsidiary news outlets.

Hezbollah has resisted pressure targeting Lebanon by Israel and its biggest ally, the United States. In the 2000s, it forced the Israeli military to retreat during two wars on Lebanon.

Nasrallah said the propaganda campaign was aimed at demoralizing the group and making it abandon the causes for which it has been making many sacrifices.

He said, however, that “neither intimidation nor murder can scare us.”


Shiite Muslims mark holy day of mourning in virus’ shadow

August 29, 2020

BEIRUT: Shiite Muslims are observing the solemn holy day of Ashoura that they typically mark with large, mournful gatherings, in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ashoura commemorates the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq with the army of then Caliph Yazid, to whom Hussein had refused to pledge allegiance.

“At its heart, It’s the story of the sacrifice of an extraordinary religious figure,” said Noor Zaidi, who teaches history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and researches Shiite Islam. “It’s (also) the story of familial love between Hussein and those who were with him in Karbala. ...It also has this real, sort of revolutionary component to it,” she said.

“What has made it endure so powerfully ... is the fact that it has at its core the ability to meld itself to what, I think, people need to get from it.”

The Day of Ashoura falls on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram and is preceded by days of commemorations and remembrance. The public expressions of communal mourning are generally associated with Shiites. For many Sunnis, Ashoura is a remembrance of more than one event, including the Moses-led exodus from Egypt.

In Iraq, pilgrims ordinarily converge on the holy city of Karbala, site of the battle and home to a shrine to Imam Hussein.

But with the pandemic, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, encouraged people to observe the mourning in other ways such as watching online or televised commemorations from home.

Those attending public commemorations must adhere to health guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks, with caps on the numbers of participants in accordance with the local regulations of different countries, a statement from his office said.

Saif Badr, spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Environment, praised Al-Sistani’s statement and call for adhering to health regulations.

“Our opinion is clear,” said Badr. “Generally speaking, we are against congregations in all their forms, including on religious occasions” due to the pandemic. Some Iraqis are not heeding the call to avoid congregating.

In Pakistan, thousands of minority Shiite Muslims rallied in various parts of the country ahead of tomorrow’s Day of Ashoura amid a decline in coronavirus deaths and infections. In his speech to a gathering of Shiite Muslims in the city of Multan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked people to adhere to social distancing rules when they observe Ashoura. Security forces deployed around Shiite places of worship to help secure public rallies which had been targeted by militant groups in the past.

In interviews with The Associated Press, several Shiite Muslims told of how they are observing commemorations this year.

Najaf, Iraq

On a typical day in the mourning period leading up to the Day of Ashoura, Sayyid Sahib Al-Yasseri buys rice, meat and other foodstuffs in the mornings for dinners served to those attending nighttime commemorative gatherings.

Clad in black clothes, he and others listen to recitations of the Qur’an, religious lectures and lamentations. Some bury their faces in their palms as they weep. Mourners rhythmically beat their chests in grief.

“There are tears and heartbreak for Imam Hussein,” Al-Yasseri said.

This year the rituals were held outside, he said, and men distributed disposable masks and pumped sanitizer into outstretched hands.

Al-Yasseri wore a mask out of coronavirus considerations but didn’t consider skipping the commemorations.

“If God wants me to get infected, I will,” he said.

Al-Yasseri estimated that about 750 people have been taking part each night in the gathering, fewer than in previous years due to the pandemic.

On Ashoura Day — which in Iraq falls on Sunday — at least one tradition of his will remain unchanged: donating blood.

“I donate to benefit others,” Al-Yasseri said, “and out of love for Imam Hussein.”

Nabatiyeh, Lebanon

Ashoura comes as Lebanon reels from not only the pandemic but economic hardship and the aftermath of a massive explosion that ripped through its capital this month.

Amid a partial coronavirus lockdown, the two largest Shiite groups in Lebanon, the militant group Hezbollah and the Amal movement of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, have urged people to mark Ashoura at home with the help of television and social media.

Yasser Qameh, who for decades in the past attended public gatherings every night during the mourning period, has been watching from home this year.

“I watch it on TV or YouTube — as long as I don’t mingle with people,” Qameh said by phone from his southern Lebanese city, which in normal years is a site of massive Ashoura observations. “The difference is like watching a football match on TV rather than being at the stadium.”

This year, Qameh said, despite a curfew, some people are gathering every night in a city square with masks, temperature checks and plastic chairs spaced out.

Typically, Nabatiyeh’s annual Ashoura ceremonies are attended by tens of thousands of people with some men cutting and beating their heads to symbolize and recall the pain of Imam Hussein, their dripping blood soiling white clothes. Such scenes are criticized by some Shiite clerics who denounce the ritual.

Qameh is also forsaking another tradition this year. Normally he would help distribute water, juice and a special dish called Harisa — that consists of wheat and chicken or beef — to participants who come from other areas.

Hicksville, New York

In the United States, some Shiite communities are broadcasting commemorations online.

In Hicksville, on New York’s Long Island, Fatima Mukhi-Siwji had been feeling sad that her 10-month-old daughter will miss out on the rituals.

“I have grown up in the mosque,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. “How are we supposed to teach our children religion? How are we supposed to teach them (about) Imam Hussein?”

But shortly before the start of Muharram, a number of Shiite Muslims from different communities, including Mukhi-Siwji’s father, teamed up to organize drive-in commemorations to safely mark the occasion, she said.

Held at a movie theater’s outdoor parking lots, they feature scholarly sermons, poetry recitals, chanting and lamentations as families listen from their cars and watch on large screens. Some get out of their cars and watch or engage in chest beating mourning rituals while social distancing, she said.

The daily events have attracted hundreds of cars and, Mukhi-Siwji said, revived a feeling of togetherness she sorely missed.

“It’s such an electrifying experience,” she said. “It goes through your whole body.”


Syrian opposition calls on major powers to back nationwide ceasefire

29 August 2020

The main Syrian opposition called on major powers on Saturday to help clinch a nationwide ceasefire in coming months to pave the way for a political transition after nearly a decade of war.

Hadi al-Bahra, the Syrian opposition co-chair of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, was speaking to reporters in Geneva after week-long UN-sponsored talks.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The 45-member committee composed of representatives of the government, opposition and civil society, has a mandate to draw up a new Constitution leading to UN-supervised elections.

UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said that there were “many areas of disagreement,” but also “quite a few areas of commonalities.” “My hope is with continued calm on the ground...we will also see some progress,” he told a briefing.

Pedersen, referring to a ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia in March in the last remaining opposition-held bastion of Idlib in northwest Syria, said it was “by and large holding” despite violations.

Al-Bahra said that as long as there was no nationwide ceasefire, the political process would remain stalled.

It was the responsibility of the international community and countries supporting either warring side to push for a full and permanent ceasefire, he said.

“When we see that happen we will see the political process moving faster, because all sides they will know that there is no way for them to achieve a final victory on military terms,” he said.

Troops from the United States, Russia, and Turkey as well as Iranian militias are present in Syria, Bahra said.

“They will not permit any victory for any one side. My expectation is that within the coming months we will see a complete, comprehensive ceasefire through all of Syria, that then we will see more international effort to move the political process forward to make it move faster,” he added.

Ahmad Kuzbari, the Syrian government co-chair, did not speak to reporters. No date was announced for the next round.





Spokesman: Iran Deems Case of Imam Musa Al-Sadr as Important

Aug 29, 2020

“Disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr is one of the important issues that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always pursued in the past few years and will keep it on its agenda until yielding results and clarification of the reality,” Khatibzadeh said on Saturday on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of Sadr’s disappearance in Beirut.

He reminded of al-Sadr’s efforts to fight against occupation and hegemony in the region and support for the Palestinian and Lebanese people, and said the opponents of Lebanon’s freedom and independence were after his omission but today al-Sadr belongs not only to Lebanon and Iran but also to the entire region.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

“We, at the foreign ministry in cooperation with the Lebanese friends, are pursuing Imam Musa Sadr’s case in different ways despite its complications, and follow ups and talks have been held at bilateral and international levels to clear his fate and his two companions’ fate and God willing, they will continue until gaining results,” Khatibzadeh said.

The Lebanese parliament speaker said in 2017 that he strongly believed that the country’s prominent Shiite leader Imam Musa al-Sadr, who went missing with two companions over 40 years ago in Libya, was still alive, calling for collective efforts to find out about the fate of the cleric and his companions.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 39th anniversary of Sadr’s disappearance in Beirut, Nabih Berri called on Lebanese media outlets to follow up on the clergyman’s fate, stressing that Lebanese judicial officials are also looking into the case, presstv reported.

The fact-finding mission formed to inquire about the case has however been unable to visit Libya due to violence and political instability in the North African country, the top Lebanese legislator argued.

Imam Musa al-Sadr was a highly revered Shiite cleric of Iranian descent, who founded the Lebanese Amal (Hope) Movement in 1974. He came to Lebanon in 1959 to work for the rights of Shiite Muslims in the port city of Tyre, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) South of Beirut.

The prominent Shiite cleric disappeared on August 31, 1978, during an official visit to the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Imam Musa al-Sadr was accompanied by Sheikh Mohammad Yaqoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine.

Lebanon still holds former Libyan officials responsible for the disappearance of the trio.

Since Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011, Lebanon and Iran have repeatedly called on the Libyan government to launch an investigation into Sadr's disappearance.

Hannibal Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan dictator, is currently in custody in Lebanon, facing charges of withholding information regarding Sadr’s case.

In August 2016, Sadr's family filed a lawsuit against Gaddafi over his role in the disappearance of the senior Shiite cleric.


Iranian Envoy Lauds China for Resistance against US Unilaterlism

Aug 29, 2020

Keshavarzzadeh lauded China’s standing against the US bullying at the United Nations Security Council to exert more pressure on Iran.

He wrote on his twitter page on Saturday that China’s position was actually rejection of the US unilateral policies.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi blasted the US violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the UNSC Resolution 2231, and said that Washington's unilateralism is threatening the UN's authority.

"US's contempt for int'l law has reached a new low," he added.

“US is in violation of JCPOA and UNSCR 2231; deliberately misinterprets 2231 and threatens UN members—including its closest allies—for standing up to bullying," Takht Ravanchi wrote in his Twitter account.

"US's unilateralism is undermining UN. Council's authority is on the line," he added.

US President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the United States' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

Now the US has stepped up attempts aimed at extending the UN arms ban on Iran that is set to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US first sought to extend the Iran's arms embargo in a fresh UNSC resolution in contradiction to the contents of the Resolution 2231 in two attempts within a month, but failed.

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly rejected last week the second US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018.

Iran had said that the US resolution would fail to gain the required support at the Security Council, pointing out that Washington has no legal right to invoke a snapback mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal that the US unilaterally left in May 2018.

In relevant remarks earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it is by no means justifiable for the US to use Dispute Resolution Mechanism with regard to UNSC Resolution 2231.

"US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON," Zarif wrote on his Twitter page.

"AmbJohnBolton has repeated today what he said on May 8, 2018, while National Security Advisor in the Trump administration," he noted, adding, "At least he is consistent—a trait notably absent in this US administration."

Zarif' tweet came in reaction to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's article in Wall Street Journal where he criticized US' decision to trigger ‘snapback mechanism’ against Iran, saying, "The agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]’s backers argue that Washington, having withdrawn from the deal, has no standing to invoke its provisions. They’re right. It’s too cute by half to say we’re in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don’t."


‘Israeli tanks shell southern Gaza on 24th day of attacks’

30 August 2020

Israeli tanks have reportedly shelled the southern part of the Gaza Strip for a 24th straight day of incessant attacks by the occupying regime against the besieged territory.

The Israeli military alleged in a statement on Sunday that the tank fire had hit positions belonging to the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, AFP reported.

There was no immediate report of casualties or confirmation from Hamas.

The Israeli military claimed that the fire had come in response to balloon-borne incendiary devices flown from the direction of the enclave toward the occupied Palestinian territories.

The regime has been using the same excuse to conduct strikes against Gaza since August 6, saying that the alleged devices had caused fires in the part of the occupied territories that are close to Gaza.

On Tuesday, a Qatari envoy reportedly met with Palestinian and Israeli officials in an attempt to ease tensions.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since 2007, when Hamas rose to power there.

The Israeli regime recently tightened the siege even further by shutting down a crossing through which much of Gaza’s necessities entered the enclave, and completely cut off fuel supplies to the territory. The measures have brought about a closure of Gaza’s sole power plant.

Israel has also barred fishing along Gaza’s coast, where armed Israeli vessels conduct regular patrols, denying the Palestinian territory another key source of livelihood.

Israel targets medical centers in West Bank

Separately, Palestinian media outlets reported that Israeli forces launched a “deliberate” attack against Palestinian medical centers in the occupied West Bank on Sunday.

The attacks targeted the ward reserved for treating coronavirus-infected patients at the Aaliyah Medical Center in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the southern West Bank.

The media said Israeli forces tear-gassed the patients there, hurting as many as 25 of them. They said a number of medical staff were also harmed during the attack.


Israeli protesters decry corruption, keep pressure on Netanyahu

30 August 2020

Thousands of people protested in Jerusalem al-Quds on Saturday (August 29) against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decrying alleged corruption and his handling of the pandemic.


Yemeni forces arrest senior al-Qaeda leader in Sana'a: Interior ministry

29 August 2020

Yemeni forces have arrested a senior leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group who planned to carry out a terrorist operation in the capital, Sana'a, Yemen's Interior Ministry says.

The spokesman of the ministry, Brigadier General Abdul Khaleq al-Ajri, who did not reveal the name of the al-Qaeda commander, said he was arrested in Sana'a on Saturday, according to Yemen's official Saba Net news agency.

The Yemeni official said that the terrorist was coming from the central province of Ma'rib to carry out a terror operation in the capital.

Al-Ajri added that the detained al-Qaeda commander had led the terrorist forces in the Qaifa area of the central province of al-Bayda, where they were forced to flee after suffering defeat from the Yemeni forces.

On Wednesday, the ministry’s Security Information Center said that both the Daesh and al-Qaeda terrorist groups had carried out more than 320 attacks in the province of al-Bayda during the past five years.

Earlier this week, the Yemeni military announced that more than 1,000 square kilometers of al-Bayda had been cleared of terrorists. It said over 250 members of Daesh and al-Qaeda had been killed or wounded during the cleansing operations.

The Yemeni military is also fighting off a Saudi-led war on the country.

Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an unsuccessful attempt to subdue a popular uprising that overthrew a Riyadh-friendly regime.

The ongoing war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed the country close to the brink of famine. It has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.

The aggressor countries have also imposed a blockade on impoverished Yemen.

The war has provided an opportunity for terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to secure a foothold in Yemen.


Israel demolished, sized 25 Palestinian-owned structures in West Bank in 2 weeks: UN

29 August 2020

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Palestine says Israel forces have either demolished or seized a total of 25 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied West Bank in just two weeks.

On Saturday morning, Israeli bulldozers, heavily guarded by the regime’s soldiers, demolished the structures under the pretext of lacking the necessary Israeli-issued building licenses, which are almost impossible to obtain, the OCHA said in a report carried by Palestine's official Wafa news agency.

The report added that the demolitions were carried out from 11 to 24 August, displacing at least 32 Palestinians and affecting 169 others.

Most of these structures were located in different communities in the so-called Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, it further said, adding that nearly all of these structures were livelihood-related.

A number of these structures were also situated in the East Jerusalem al-Quds, including an under-construction residential building in the Jabal al-Mukkabir neighborhood, the demolition of which triggered clashes resulting in one injury.

The report added that five of these structures in East Jerusalem al-Quds were razed by their owners, who were forced to do so to avoid Israeli-imposed demolition costs.

According to the OCHA, since January, about half of all 118 demolitions in East Jerusalem al-Quds were carried out by the owners, following the issuance of demolition orders by Israeli authorities for lack of construction licenses.

The Tel Aviv regime presses ahead with its expropriation of Palestinian land for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.


Palestinian groups ready for 'long-term' battle against Israel amid Gaza escalation

29 August 2020

Amid the relentless Israeli acts of aggression against the besieged Gaza Strip, all Palestinian resistance groups have expressed their preparedness for a "long-term" battle against the occupying regime's acts of terror.

Citing informed sources in the Joint Chamber of Palestinian resistance factions, the Arabic-language news website Palestine al-Youm reported on Saturday that all military wings of the Palestinian resistance groups announced their readiness to engage in a long-term battle against the occupiers under the command of the chamber.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, warned Israel against continued siege of Gaza and repeated acts of aggression.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Friday that the movement would not hesitate to enter into war with Israel in case Tel Aviv continued acts of aggression against the coastal enclave.

“Whoever lays siege to our people will pay a heavy price in their security and stability,” he said.

"We will not hesitate in our national mission and in our commitment to our people,” Barhoum said, adding that Hamas was committed to “protecting the people from all aggression and fighting the occupation if there is an escalation and the siege continues."

On Friday, the Israeli military carried out airstrikes and artillery attacks on various sites across the Gaza Strip over what it cited as a volley of rockets launched from the Palestinian enclave into the occupied territories.

The military said that underground infrastructure and military positions belonging to Hamas were targeted in strikes by Israeli tanks and military aircraft, after resistance fighters fired six rockets at southern Israel overnight.

The rockets came shortly after the Israeli military initially bombed Hamas facilities in Gaza over alleged launch of incendiary and explosive balloons into the occupied land throughout Thursday.

There have been no immediate reports on possible damage or casualties in the attacks.

For the past several weeks, the Israeli war machine has been pounding different areas of Gaza either by its warplanes or through artillery fire, claiming that the attacks were mainly in response to incendiary balloons sent by Gazans to cause bush fire in the southern parts of the occupied territories.

The coastal sliver, home to some two million people, has been under an Israeli-imposed crippling siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in the living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty there.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.


Thousands gather in Israel for anti-Netanyahu weekly rallies

August 29, 2020

JERUSALEM: Thousands of Israelis demonstrated Saturday in Jerusalem in a continuation of summer-long weekend rallies demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces a corruption trial and accusations of mishandling the coronavirus crisis.

Smaller protests also took part in other parts in Israel, including overpasses and outside Netanyahu’s private house in the upscale town of Caesaria.

At the main rally in Jerusalem, protesters gathered at the entrance of the city and marched to Netanyahu’s official residence, holding Israeli flags and black flags symbolizing one of the protest movements. “Enough with Division!” and “This is not politics, this is crime” read some of the placards.

Netanyahu’s governing coalition temporarily survived collapse this week after an agreement with “alternate prime minister” Benny Gantz, his rival and main coalition partner, to delay a budget vote until December. If the two coalition partners had failed to agree on delaying the budget’s approval, the government would have collapsed and Israel would have gone to its fourth general elections in less than two years.

Netanyahu of the Likud party and Gantz’ Blue and White formed the coalition in May after three inconclusive elections, but differences between the two remain.

The coronavirus crisis is fueling the protest movement. After controlling the virus in its first stages in the spring, Israel reopened the economy too fast in May, leading to a spike of cases. Israel is struggling with a number of confirmed infections exceeding 113,000 cases and the death toll is approaching 1,000.

Business owners, day-to-day workers and smaller, vulnerable entrepreneurs who were hard hit by the pandemic-triggered closures take part in anti-Netanyahu demonstrations. The unemployment rate is hovering over 20%.

Netanyahu’s three corruption cases also have added momentum to the protests. Last year, he was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Many protesters say Netanyahu should not serve as a prime minister at a time when he is on trial for serious charges.

In January, his trial will move to a witness phase with three sessions a week.



North America


Muslim-American groups mobilise to get voters registered for election day

28 August 2020

Muslim-American activists are rallying across the country on Friday in an attempt to ensure every eligible voter from the faith group is registered for November's presidential election.

MPower Change, which bills itself as the biggest Muslim digital advocacy organisation in the US, launched National Muslim Voter Registration Day, which falls on 28 August, as part of its #MyMuslimVote campaign.

According to the organisation, almost half a million registered Muslim voters have been contacted and encouraged to vote in person or by mail.

"The stakes in [the] 2020 elections couldn't be higher for our community," the #MyMuslimVote campaign says on its website.

"We're calling Muslim voters in key states to ensure they cast their votes on primary, caucus, and election days."

Linda Sarsour, the executive director of MPower Change, told Middle East Eye that the campaign was "focused on engaging Muslim American voters in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas".

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will also host virtual phone and text banks to assist in the effort.

"If there was the full participation of Muslim voters in this election, we'd have the ability to tip the vote in Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Connecticut," Robert McCaw, CAIR's director of government affairs, told CNN.

"We need to make sure Muslims are inspired to vote for the candidates in front of us."

While Muslims in the US only make up roughly one percent of the population, or about three million people, the Muslim advocacy Emgage group says their votes may be crucial in the battleground states of Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.

In 2016, President Donald Trump won Michigan - which happens to be home to large Arab and Muslim communities - by a mere 10,000 votes.

"[Muslim Americans] are not a large voting bloc but we are definitely a strategic voting bloc, and when we put our forces behind key pivot counties, we can win the policy changes that we want to see," Aysha Ahmed, deputy national organising director at Emgage, said during a news conference on Tuesday.

Still, according to a 2,000 person survey by CAIR in March, roughly 17 percent of Muslims identify with the Republican Party.

The Trump campaign launched "Muslim Voices for Trump" earlier this month, and while the site includes a sign-up form, no policy initiatives are listed.

"Muslim Voices for Trump will energise and mobilise the Muslim community in re-electing President Donald J Trump by sharing the many successes of the Trump Administration," the site states.

"Re-electing President Trump will ensure the protection of religious liberties, economic prosperity, and educational opportunities for Muslims in America."


US hails close partnership with Libyan prime minister


The United States on Saturday expressed appreciation to its close partnership with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.

In a tweet, the US Embassy called for cooperation in the interests of providing good governance to the Libyan people.

“US supports rule of law, appreciates close partnerships with PM Sarraj and MOI Bashaga and urges cooperation in the interests of providing good governance to the Libyan people,” the embassy said on Twitter.

Earlier on Saturday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called for a full and inclusive political process that will meet the aspirations of the Libyan people.

On Monday, al-Sarraj pledged a cabinet reshuffle amid protests against corruption and deterioration of public services.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed because of a military offensive by forces loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar.





Sacrifices of Hazrat Imam Hussain, his family and companions commemorated

Faraz Khan

August 30, 2020

To commemorate the sacrifices rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), his family and his companions, Karachi’s central procession of 9th Muharram was held peacefully on Saturday amid strict security measures.

After passing through its traditional routes, the procession ended at the Hussainian Iranian Imambargah in Kharadar while the participants and clerics paid homage to Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), his family and his companions.

The procession started from the Nishtar Park after the cleric highlighted the great sacrifices of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), his family and his companions in a Majlis-e-Aza that was attended by a large number of mourners.

Before the central procession started marching towards the Hussainian Iranian Imambargah, religious scholar Allama Syed Shahenshah Hussain Naqvi highlighted the life and sacrifices of Hazrat Ali (RA).

He said Hazrat Ali’s (RA) life is a great model for all Muslims to follow. He shed light on the life of Hazrat Ali (RA) and also on the advice the fourth caliph gave to his children before leaving this world.

Allama Naqvi highlighted the various aspects of the life of Hazrat Ali (RA), explaining why the fourth caliph is considered a source of knowledge as well as a symbol of tolerance, bravery, generosity and eloquence even today.

After emerging from the Nishtar Park, the central procession of the city marched through the Mehfil-e-Shah-e-Khorasan and ended at the Hussainian Iranian Imambargah in Kharadar.

Before moving the procession towards the Hussainian Iranian Imambargah, the participants offered prayers. They kept reciting Marsiyas to commemorate the sacrifices of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), his family and his companions.

After the Majlis, the procession moved out of the Nishtar Park and passed through Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto Road, MA Jinnah Road, Mansfield Street, Boulton Market, Bombay Bazaar and Nawaz Mahabat Khanji Road before ending at the Hussainian Iranian Imambargah. The mourners offered their Zohrain prayers during the procession.

Strict security measures were taken by law enforcement and security agencies to avoid any untoward incident, with over 20,000 police and Rangers officials deployed across the city.

A spokesperson for the Karachi police said 6,368 officials were deployed across Karachi, with 90 snipers of the Special Security Unit deployed at Imambargahs and rooftops of buildings along the route of the central procession of the city.

The procession route and the adjoining streets and alleys were cordoned off with containers. Besides the deployment of police and Rangers officials for security, the procession was also monitored through CCTV cameras.

The police spokesperson said that 1,095 officials of the traffic police were deployed to ensure smooth flow of traffic along the route. Police appealed to the citizens to remain vigilant about their surroundings and contact the police helpline if they find something or someone suspicious.

Mourners were allowed to enter the procession by way of walk-through gates only after they were frisked. Besides police and Rangers officials, nearly 5,000 volunteers from various scouts organisations and rescue services as well as the city administration made necessary arrangements to facilitate the participants of the mourning procession.

Round-the-clock surveillance was also conducted at a central control room through more than 1,200 CCTV cameras. Shops in Saddar and those located along the procession route were closed and sealed. All roads linking to the procession route and Majalis venues were blocked with containers.

The Government of Sindh had earlier announced that a ban on pillion riding would be in effect on the 9th and 10th of Muharram to avoid any untoward incident and to maintain law and order across the province.

The provincial government has also imposed a ban on the carrying of weapons and on gatherings of five or more people, with the exception of those in connection with Muharram processions.

Sindh government spokesman Barrister Murtaza Wahab had said in a tweet on Friday that restrictions on mobile phone networks would “only be in selected areas where the Moharram processions take place on the 9th and 10th of Moharram”.

Senior police and Rangers officials also visited the central procession to review the security arrangements. The Sindh Health Department and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation had declared an emergency at all public hospitals of the city and ordered ensuring the availability of doctors, nurses, paramedics and medicines.

Moreover, the Karachi health director had declared an emergency at 18 town health offices of the city until the 12th of Muharram and established medical camps.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs & Inter-faith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri said in a statement that the supreme sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) in Karbala is a lesson for everyone to stand firmly against tyranny and injustice.


Parties seek written deal before opposition conference

Amir Wasim

30 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: Angry with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over their recent act of supporting the government in the parliament during the passage of the FATF-related legislation, a number of smaller opposition parties now want the country’s two major parties to sign a Charter of Democracy (CoD)-like document or an agreement to formalise the opposition’s alliance before convening an already-delayed Multi-Party Conference (MPC).

This demand from the smaller parties, including the nationalist parties from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, came during a meeting of nine opposition parties — other than the PPP and the PML-N — at the residence of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Islamabad late on Thursday night, Dawn learnt from sources here on Saturday.

The final decision in this regard, however, has been left with the Rehbar Committee, which is expected to meet next week under its convener Akram Durrani. The sources said the demand to sign the agreement would be put before the PPP and the PML-N in the committee’s meeting.

The Rehbar Committee had been constituted in October last year when the JUI-F held an anti-government long march and staged a protest sit-in in Islamabad. The main purpose of the committee was to devise a joint strategy for the sit-in and to hold negotiations with the government to resolve the standoff.

However, the Rehbar Committee remained ineffective as the PPP and the PML-N only participated in the sit-in symbolically and it was Maulana Fazlur Rehman himself who negotiated with the government team and finally called off the 13-day sit-in abruptly.

Besides Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) president Aftab Sherpao, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Amir Haider Khan Hoti and Senator Mir Kabur and Ayub Malik of the National Party (NP), the meeting at the Maulana’s residence was also attended by chief of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) Sardar Akhtar Mengal.

One of the participants told Dawn that a number of leaders who had attended the meeting harshly criticised the PPP and the PML-N for “damaging the opposition’s unity” in the past by ditching them at crucial junctures. He said they had a very candid discussion on the country’s political issues and called for devising a strategy to stop the interference of other “institutions” in the elections and key state affairs.

The sources said some senior leaders, including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, tried to pacify the angry members, telling them that they had no options but to trust these two major parties and take them along if they wanted to launch a forceful campaign against the government.

During a brief news conference after the meeting, when a reporter asked if they had decided to seek any written commitment from the PPP and the PML-N, the JUI-F chief simply said that such a proposal could only be decided by the Rehbar Committee.

The Maulana, however, dispelled the impression that there was any rift within the opposition’s ranks. He said the opposition was united in their demand that the country needed fresh and transparent general elections in the country without any outside interference.

The Maulana said the opposition parties were of the view that there was a need to reconstitute the Election Commission of Pakistan and devise a system that no other institution could interfere in the election process. Similarly, he said that all the opposition parties wanted supremacy of the Constitution and parliament. He claimed that most of the reservations of the parties had been removed after PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif had visited him last week.

The JUI-F chief said that he had arranged the meeting as he had already called it before Mr Sharif’s visit and it was delayed because of the death of NP president Mir Hasil Bizenjo.

When contacted, the leaders of both the PPP and the PML-N said that so far they had not received any demand regarding the written commitment from the smaller opposition parties.

PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed that after last week’s meeting between Maulana Fazl and Mr Sharif, the Rehbar Committee had already been given the task to decide the agenda, time and place for the MPC.

Similarly, PML-N’s secretary general Ahsan Iqbal dispelled the impression that there was disunity in the opposition’s ranks.

Commenting on the meeting of the nine parties at the Maulana’s residence, Mr Iqbal said the JUI-F chief had informed Mr Sharif that since he had already convened this meeting of the smaller parties, therefore, it had become necessary for him to hold this meeting before convening the meeting of the Rehbar Committee.

When asked about the demand of the smaller parties regarding signing of an agreement, the PML-N secretary general said that his party also wanted to expand and renew the CoD which had originally been signed by the PPP and the PML-N in 2006 during the military rule under Gen Pervez Musharraf. He, however, said the document could be signed at the MPC, instead of the Rehbar Committee.

It was after fully facilitating the government in the passage of a number of FATF-related bills in parliament at the cost of the opposition’s unity that Mr Sharif had met Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the latter’s residence last week and vowed to make efforts to unite the opposition parties on one platform in order to convene the MPC in the near future.

“It has been decided that all the parties will be united. It has been decided that we will go together. The Rehbar Committee will meet and the all parties’ conference [of the opposition] will also be held,” Mr Sharif had stated during a brief media chat with Maulana Fazl after their meeting.

However, in response to a question as to who would host the MPC, the JUI-F chief said: “I don’t know” and then in the second breath stated that “Shahbaz Sharif is the opposition leader”, meaning thereby that like the PPP, the JUI-F also wants the PML-N to host the opposition parties’ gathering for the purpose of devising a strategy to launch an anti-government drive in the country.

Maulana Fazl had stated that he had told the PML-N president that he had already convened a meeting of other smaller parties, including the nationalist parties, which were unhappy with the PPP and PML-N for their role in parliament during the passage of the bills to fulfil the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force and that he would come back to the two major opposition parties after consulting them.

The Maulana said they were in an agreement that they needed to move forward under a “joint strategy” as “division within the opposition and lack of unity at this stage will be detrimental for Pakistan and its people”.

Asked if the JUI-F was again ready to believe the two major opposition parties despite their past role of “ditching” the smaller opposition parties on a number of crucial occasions, Maulana Fazl simply said that Mr Sharif’s arrival at his residence had removed most of the concerns in this regard and it would not be an issue.

Initially, some two months back, it was PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who had announced a plan to convene an MPC to devise a final strategy to oust the present rulers. Mr Bhutto-Zardari then met Mr Sharif and the JUI-F chief in Lahore and all the leaders vowed to convene the MPC and launch an agitation movement against the government.


Justice Isa’s wife seeks income tax details of PM, others

Nasir Iqbal

30 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s wife, Sarina Isa, on Saturday alleged that since her confidential and legally-protected income tax and bank records were illegally accessed, she also wanted similar information about those who were provided her details.

In a statement, Ms Isa stated that she wanted information about the people who accessed or were provided her confidential information and documents, especially Prime Minister Imran Khan, Law Minister Dr Farogh Nasim, Asset Recovery Unit Chairman Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Dr Mohammad Ashfaq Ahmed and complainant Abdul Waheed Dogar.

“They should not object because they have held or hold public office, while one of them, who is a government servant, complains that my family and I are not tax compliant,” she alleged in the statement.

The statement is annexed with her Aug 28 reply to the notices issued by commissioner (IR) FBR on Aug 21 under Section 122(9) and Section 111(1)(b) of the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO) 2001.

It stated that she was a private person who had never held public office or a position in government and had worked and paid a total of Rs809,970 and Rs576,540 as tax during the last two years.

Says FBR wants her to explain every rupee she earned during last 38 years

Earlier, she issued two similar statements, explaining her position in response to notices issued by the board.

In her reply, she asked the FBR to furnish her income tax returns on which the authority was relying, adding that the board wanted her to reconstruct her life and explain every rupee earned by her since she started working in Karachi American School some 38 years ago.

Highlighting Section 174(3) of the ITO, she recalled that the ordinance did not require an individual to maintain any record for more than six years after the end of the tax year to which they relate.

She argued that she was under no legal obligation to keep providing information to the FBR, but still she did voluntarily.

“Without prejudice to all my constitutional and legal rights, I also do not want to give you a pretext to allege that I did not provide information,” she stated, adding that it had become painfully clear to her that the Federal Board of Revenue intended to pass an alleged unjustified and illegal order since it did not consider to be bound by law.

She alleged that the FBR claimed that she could not have earned and saved enough to justify her purchase of three properties in London — one for £236,000 in the year 2004 and two in 2013 for £245,000 and £270,000, respectively.

Referring to Section 116A of the ordinance which was inserted through the Finance Act 2018, when for the first time foreign income and asset statement was required to be filed, she complied with the new legal requirement and filed her returns and statements with regard to foreign income and assets for the tax year 2018 and again for tax year 2019.

But the FBR has not explained under which provision she was required to disclose the foreign income and assets before the stated amendment.

Likewise, the FBR disregarded her agriculture income by purportedly relying on Section 111 of the ITO and treating it as unexplained income.

The board intentionally disregarded the fact that the proviso to Section 111 of the ordinance accepted income derived from agriculture on which income tax paid under the relevant provincial law was added through the Finance Act 2013, the statement added.

Therefore, the agricultural income cannot be disregarded irrespective of whether the provincial income tax was paid or restricted to adjustment to the extent of such payment.

She said she owned about 278 acres of agricultural land which was run and managed by her late father, who passed away on June 25, 2020.

She said she continued to derive substantial income from her agricultural land, investing some amount in saving certificates issued by the government.


Officials involved in fraud must face dismissal: SC

30 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has held that doling out public property or funds by officials to private persons or even to themselves amounts to fraud and those committing fraud or embezzlement of government property or money can’t be treated leniently in disciplinary proceedings or be allowed to continue in service.

Thus, maximum penalty like dismissal from service should be imposed on the government employees involved in embezzling state lands rather than forfeiture of certain service years, explained a five-page order authored by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed.

A two-judge SC bench that also comprised Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan passed the order on an appeal against the March 3, 2017 decision of the Service Tribunal, Lahore. The appeal was moved by the commissioner of Faisalabad division against one Allah Bakhsh.

“Where the respondent himself has admitted the commission of the offence that he transferred the government land measuring 270 kanals, situated in Chak No. 492/ JB, District Jhang, causing loss of millions of rupees to the government exchequer, such conduct of the respondent could not be considered as mere negligence, rather it constitutes misconduct and maximum penalty under the law has to be imposed upon him,” the chief justice observed.

Additional Advocate General Chaudhry Faisal Hussain earlier told the court that the respondent had himself admitted to the offence. But the Punjab Service Tribunal had held that the conduct of the respondent Allah Bakhsh of signing mutation of the government land in favour of the private person did not constitute misconduct, because no loss was caused to the government. Therefore, it was stated, the penalty of dismissal from service imposed upon him by the department did not commensurate with the gravity of the offence.

Apex court sets aside service tribunal’s ‘lenient’ order in land scam

The service tribunal then converted the penalty imposed on the respondent by departmental authorities into forfeiture of two years’ approved service.

However, the Supreme Court in its order held that the tribunal had taken a lenient view of misconduct by government servants even where an employee of the department has admitted the commission of the offence constituting serious misconduct. Despite this, the SC bench observed, the tribunal reduced the penalty imposed on the employee by the department considering that it was harsh and did not commensurate with the gravity of the offence.

The apex court held that the tribunal instead of assigning any legally sustainable reasoning stated that it enjoyed vast powers under Section 5 of the Service Tribunals Act, 1973 to confirm, set aside, vary or modify orders passed by the departmental authorities.

“The question is how vast are the powers of the tribunal,” the Supreme Court said, also asking whether these powers were discretionary at the whims of the tribunal and totally un-structured and unlimited.

When the conduct of the respondent came to light, the government machinery took steps to rectify such transfer of the government land to the private persons. The mere fact that despite commission of the offence no loss was caused to the government exchequer or the loss caused was recovered cannot be a mitigating factor in punishing a government servant whose misconduct stood established, the verdict declared. “If he gets scot-free or with a minor penalty what is there to prevent him from repeating the same offence and the next time loss may actually be caused and not recovered,” the apex court questioned.

This was the inherent flaw in the argument of the counsel for the respondent, the order added.

“In view of the matter, we have found the order of the tribunal to be self contradictory in excess of jurisdiction and devoid of any reasoning let alone cogent and legally acceptable,” the order said, adding that the impugned judgement of the tribunal could not be sustained. Thus, the appeal was accordingly allowed and the impugned judgement was set aside, the order said.

Consequently, the order passed against the respondent for his dismissal from service was restored, the Supreme Court held, adding the copy of this order should also be supplied to the chairman as well as members of the Federal Service Tribunal and all the provincial service tribunals.


CM Usman Buzdar for following teachings of Imam Hussain (RA)

August 30, 2020

LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has said Muharram commemorates the glorious sacrifice of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) for upholding Islam.

Incident of Karbala gives us the lesson that forces of evil have to face defeat while Islam will remain forever. Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) upheld truth and did not bow to evil. The grief of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and other martyrs of Karbala will remain forever, the CM said.

The CM in his message on Youm-e-Ashoor has said the great sacrifices of the martyrs of Karbala have revived the universal principles of Islam including patience, tolerance and sacrifice till the Day of Judgment.

On the occasion of Ashura, we have to reaffirm our lives to follow the enlightened teachings of Imam Hussain (RA) in the true sense, the CM said.

The battle between truth and falsehood in Karbala teaches Muslims to wage jihad against oppression and evil. The battle between good and evil has been going on for many decades in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and thousands of Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives and fulfilling the greatest tradition of Karbala. Tyrant Modi has perpetrated brutality and barbarism in occupied Kashmir and has become Yazeed of present era. The day is not far away when the sacrifices of the martyrs will bear fruits and the name of Modi will be erased from history, he said.

He said glorious sacrifices rendered by Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions in Karbala a beacon for us. The journey of the martyrs of Karbala, their courage and immortal sacrifices will continue to provide encouragement and enthusiasm to the oppressed nations till the end of the time.

Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson with his deeds and actions taught us to raise the voice for truth and protect human values, the CM said and added struggle of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) is an everlasting message of being strong against oppression.



South Asia


Hezb-e-Islami Leader Hekmatyar: India-Afghanistan to Form a Militia, India Refutes

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

29 Aug 2020

Hezb-e-Islami leader says with the support of India, Afghanistan intends to create a militia group.

In a Friday prayer sermon, Hekmatyar stated, that the Afghan government is taking stands against the process and is taking steps that is dangerous for Afghanistan’s consequences.

He added, India opposes the peace process in relation to Pakistan and wants to form a Militia group with the Afghan government.

The Hezb-e-Islami leader also said that efforts are ongoing in the Northern parts of Afghanistan for the formation of the Militia group, he added the Afghan government is creating obstacles in regards to the peace process, but “Taliban agreement with the United States will be implemented” he added.

This comes as national peace council Director Abdullah Abdullah previously announced the start of the Intra-Afghan talks in Qatar for the coming week.


The government of Indian reacted to Pakistan’s move for hosting the leader of Hezb-e Islami of Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to speak on the issue of Kashmir.

According to local media reports, Hekmatyar participated in a webinar hosted by the government of Pakistan last week and spoke about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hekmatyar said India should “learn a lesson from the Afghan jehad” and the only solution to the Kashmir issue is to give Kashmiris the right to self-determination, according to Hindustan Times.

Reacting to Hekmatyar’s presence in the event, Anurag Srivastava, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs of India, said “We have seen the media reports of the participation of the former UN-designated terrorist in an event organised by the government of Pakistan.”

“This is nothing new. Pakistan not only harbours terror outfits but also encourages them. We hope that such participation in public events by a former UN-designated terrorist would not go unnoticed,” Srivastava added.

According to reports, Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia also participated in the event.


The rise of Mullah Yaqoob, the Taliban's new military chief


August 30, 2020

Mohammad Yaqoob was virtually unknown five years ago when the Taliban disclosed the mysterious death of his father and its founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

The Taliban acknowledged that its spiritual leader had been dead for more than two years, soon after Afghan intelligence said he had died of illness in 2013 at a hospital in neighboring Pakistan, from which the reclusive, one-eyed leader had commanded the insurgency in Afghanistan.

In his first-ever public statement at the time, the twentysomething Yaqoob called for unity within the Sunni extremist group and dismissed rumors that his father's death was the result of an inside job.

Since that first audio message in 2015, the ambitious Mullah Yaqoob has soared through the Taliban's ranks. He has consolidated power since his failed bid to succeed his father that year, first becoming deputy leader before more recently being handed the powerful post of military chief.

The military appointment in May of Mullah Yaqoob, who is thought by some outsiders to support the peace process, followed the signing of a landmark deal between Taliban and the United States in February aimed at withdrawing foreign troops and ending the 18-year insurgency.

But the selection of such an inexperienced commander has also hinted at possible divisions within the Taliban, which has undergone bitter leadership transitions and growing internal dissent in recent years.

'Moderate' Camp

Antonio Giustozzi, a Taliban expert with the Royal United Services Institute in London, describes Mullah Yaqoob as part of a moderate camp that favors a negotiated end to the war.

Under the U.S.-Taliban agreement, international forces should withdraw from Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which pledged to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and power-sharing deal with the Afghan government.

Under Mullah Yaqoob's leadership, the Taliban appears to have been upholding its commitment not to attack departing U.S. forces. The militants, however, have failed to fulfill a pledge to renounce the Al-Qaeda terrorist network behind the 9/11 attacks, a longtime ally.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has intensified attacks on Afghan government forces and sought to seize more territory, despite widespread calls for the militants to reduce violence.

Experts speculate that the escalating violence might be an attempt to appease more hard-line elements in the Taliban who view the U.S. deal with suspicion.

"The moderates are committed to showing a tough Taliban face to Kabul, perhaps as a trade-off for having been given more prominence," said Giustozzi, who has written numerous books on the Taliban.

The more moderate camp includes Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban and a former deputy to Mullah Omar. Baradar, who spent years in a Pakistani prison, recently served as the Taliban's political chief and head negotiator in talks with the United States.

The Saudis' Man?

Mullah Yaqoob's appointment as military chief was part of the militant group's biggest leadership reshuffle in years.

The shakeup was seen as an attempt by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada to remove potential spoilers and tighten his grip on the group's military and political wings ahead of peace talks with the Afghan central government.

Mullah Yaqoob's predecessor, Ibrahim Sadr, a powerful field commander, opposed peace efforts. Sadr, who has close links to neighboring Iran, was among eight Taliban members designated as global terrorists by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018.

Giustozzi said Mullah Yaqoob had the strong backing of Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and Iran’s regional archrival, adding that Riyadh was providing him with tactful support. "The Saudis and the U.S. wanted people who were too close to Iran out," Giustozzi said.

Sadr is said to be among a number of commanders and factions that support continued fighting against Afghan and foreign troops.

A new breakaway Taliban faction that has close links to Iran and opposes peace has emerged in recent months. The Hezb-e Walayat-e Islami (Party of Islamic Guardianship) is believed to have split from the mainstream Taliban soon after the deal was reached with the United States. The faction is believed to include supporters of Sadr.

Other Iran-linked Taliban leaders who oppose peace efforts include Mullah Qayum Zakir, a powerful battlefield commander and the former military chief of the Taliban until 2014. A former inmate in the infamous U.S. prison at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, Mullah Zakir has the backing of some hard-line field commanders.

Rise To Prominence

Before 2015, Mullah Yaqoob did not even have an official position in the Taliban.

He was a graduate of several hard-line Islamic seminaries in Pakistan's port city of Karachi, where his family had resided since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the brutal Taliban regime in 2001.

But experts say the prestige of being Mullah Omar's eldest son elevated his standing among the Taliban's field commanders and its rank and file.

"Mullah Omar was a charismatic leader and there remains huge respect for him, his family, and even his close associates, many of whom have been promoted to influential positions," said Obaid Ali, an expert on the insurgency at the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think tank in Kabul.

Experts said Mullah Omar’s family also has the financial clout to buy loyalty.

The Taliban is thought to earn as much as $1.5 billion annually from the opium trade, illegal mining, extortion, and donations from abroad. And many Taliban leaders own businesses and property in Pakistan.

Mullah Yaqoob was promoted to the Taliban's leadership council in 2015, soon after his father’s death. An uncle, Mullah Abdul Manan, was also elevated to the council, which is based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, near the Afghan border.

Mullah Yaqoob was appointed as head of the Taliban's military commission for 15 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

Mullah Mansur was accused of covering up Mullah Omar's death and assuming leadership of the extremist group without formal approval. He struggled to reconcile feuding factions, with some commanders splitting from the group and challenging his leadership.

He was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in May 2016.

Mullah Akhundzada, a low-key Islamic scholar who was Mullah Mansur's deputy, was appointed as the new leader soon afterward, although his selection was also opposed.

He named Mullah Yaqoob as deputy leader.

'Somewhat Entitled'

Despite his elevated positions, Mullah Yaqoob is not believed to be widely admired among the militant group or its followers. An Afghan intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity described Mullah Yaqoob as a "shrewd young man who is somewhat entitled and self-centered."

As someone raised outside his homeland, Mullah Yaqoob is "unaware of the realities in Afghanistan," an Afghan security official told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity.

Afghan intelligence says Mullah Yaqoob was trained in guerrilla warfare by the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e Muhammad, which has been blamed for deadly attacks on Indian targets in Afghanistan and the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, where archrivals Islamabad and New Delhi have fought three wars.

Pakistan's military leadership has long been accused of backing Afghan and Kashmiri militant groups to achieve its strategic goals in the region.

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.


Ghani Approves Members of HCNR

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

30 Aug 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – President Ashraf Ghani on a decree Saturday approved members of the High Council for National Reconciliation, marking a major step towards the forthcoming intra-Afghan dialogues.

He called on religious scholars, the parliament, private sector, media and provincial councils to “introduce their picks for membership of the council” within a week. 

The approved members of the Council are:

Former President Hamid Karzai,

Former Mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf

Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Former Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili

Former Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq

 Former Vice President Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum

Former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanooni

Former Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani

Former Mujahideen leader and former Minister of Energy and Water Mohammad Ismalil Khan

Former Balkh Governor and CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami Atta Mohammad Noor

Head of Maaz-e-Milli party Sayed Hamid Gailani

 Zabihullah Mujaddedi,

Political and religious figure Sayed Mansoor Nadery

Political and religious figure Enayatullah Shahrani

Former Deputy Chief Executive and political figure Engineer Mohammad Khan

Head of Afghanistan’s Ulema Council

Former head of the Administrative Office of the President Sadiq Modabir

Mohammad Ismail Ghazanfar

Mawlawi Khodaidad Saleh.

According to the decree, members of the Council amongst high-ranking government officials are:

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh

Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh

Acting Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar

National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib

Meshrano Jirga Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar

Wolesi Jirga Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani

Presidential Adviser Almas Zahid

State minister for peace affairs (Country’s State Minister for Peace Affairs has not yet been appointed.)

Presidential Advisor Mawlawi Jora Tahiri.  

Meanwhile, women members of the Council are:

Civil society activist Safia Sediqqi

Former MP Najiba Ayubi

Member of the Afghan Women’s Network Mari Akrami

Civil society activist Zia Gul Rezaee

Member of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Alia Yulmaz

Former Higher Education Minister Farida Mohmand

Chairperson of medical council of Afghanistan Nasrin Oryakhil

Civil society activist Zarqa Yaftali.

Lastly, leadership members of the council are

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah

Deputy Head of the Council Abdul Salam Rahimi

Deputy Head of the Council Enayatullah Farahmand

Deputy Head of the Council Asadullah Saadati

Former Deputy Governor of Paktia Zuhra Mutahari

Member of Afghanistan Ulema Council Atta-Ur-Rahman Salim

Head of Hizb-e-Islami Nawin Din Mohammad

Political figure Akram Khpulwak

Head of negotiation team Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai

Special Presidential Envoy Noor-Ul-Haq Olumi

The list came days after Chairman of the HCNR Abdullah Abdullah exclaimed on Thursday the intra-Afghan negotiations will start in the coming week.

The first round of the most awaited intra-Afghan dialogues are expected to be held in Qatari capital, Doha.





Turkey condemns Islamophobic incident in Sweden

Erdogan Cagatay Zontur 


Turkey on Saturday vehemently condemned an Islamophobic incident in Sweden where a group of neo-fascist politicians burned the Muslim holy book Quran.

"We strongly condemn the hideous provocations by an Islamophobic and racist politician and his followers who came to Denmark from Sweden's Malmo city,” Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the anti-Islamic group Tight Direction (Stram Kurs), along with his supporters burned the Quran on Friday evening.

After the footage emerged on the internet, anti-racist groups in Malmo reacted to the incident and the activists who blocked the traffic and burned tires on the road.

The police detained three people who burned the Quran.

Danish racist leader Paludan was banned from entering Sweden for two years.

“These provocative acts are a heavy blow to the culture of coexistence and European values,” the Foreign Ministry statement added.

Stressing that Muslims living in Europe have been systematically exposed to discriminatory and racist attitudes in their daily lives, the statement said: “This despicable act against our holy book is an exemplary act, as it reveals the extent to which the threat Muslims face in Europe has come.”

The statement also underscored that the Swedish authorities did not allow the demonstration against the Quran and imposed a ban on the so-called politician on Aug. 28.

The ministry further said that the Swedish authorities should take all necessary measures against those who act to provoke Muslims in the country in the future.


Belgium: Ex-advisor supports Turkey on Mediterranean

Agnes Szucs 



A former advisor to the Belgian prime minister said Turkey’s position on the Eastern Mediterranean is relevant.

“Turkey actually has a point,” Koert Debeuf said in a tweet.

He also shared a map highlighting territorial waters based on the agreement between Greece and Italy on the countries’ exclusive economic zones.

“Greek territorial waters are a bit out of proportion compared with the Turkish one," he added.

Debeuf, who is a political expert on the Middle East, in an opinion piece published Saturday in Belgian daily De Standaard shed light on the division between European nations.

Titled, Is the EU Sinking in the Mediterranean, the piece argued that the conflict between the two main political alliances of the Middle East -- Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Israel on the other -- has the potential to exacerbate cracks in relations between European nations.

“This is very dangerous. It is not clear how this will end,” the piece cites a letter that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic wrote in 1914, at the start of World War I.

Turkey resumed energy exploration earlier this month in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

Greece and other countries have tried to box in Turkey’s maritime territory and energy exploration rights.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greek efforts to declare a huge exclusive economic zone, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

Ankara has also said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) -- which has issued Turkish state oil company Turkish Petroleum a license -- and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.


German specialist supports Turkish views on East Med.

Cuneyt Karadag



Turkey's position is not bad regarding tensions between Ankara and Athens in the Eastern Mediterranean, a German law professor said Friday.

Nele Matz-Luck, a specialist in the law of the sea at the Christian-Albrecht University of Kiel, told local media the boundaries of continental shelves and economic zones do not necessarily have to be determined according to a midline.

"In this context, justice and equity are taken as a basis," she said.

Matz-Luck said she does not think Turkey's position is a bad one on tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and the agreement signed between Greece and Egypt should be examined in the context of Turkey's claims.

Matz-Luck stressed If Turkey's legitimate rights in the Mediterranean are not considered, the deal between Greece and Egypt cannot produce an effect.

Greece and other countries have tried to box in Turkey’s maritime territory and energy exploration rights.

However, Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone, violating the interests of Turkey.

Greece disputed Turkey's current energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey -- the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean -- has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Anakra and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

After Germany's diplomatic calls, Turkey stopped activities in the region, however, it resumed energy exploration earlier this month in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

Ankara has also said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) -- which has issued Turkish state oil company Turkish Petroleum a license -- and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.





UN expresses concern over ‘dramatic turn’ in Libya crisis

August 29, 2020

CAIRO: The United Nations on Saturday voiced alarm over what it called “a dramatic turn of events” in Libya’s civil war, after a power struggle between leaders of the Tripoli-based government surfaced in the wake of anti-corruption protests.

“Libya is witnessing a dramatic turn of events that underlines the urgent need to return to a full and inclusive political process,” the UN support mission in Libya said.

Protests over deteriorating economic conditions erupted earlier this week in the capital and elsewhere in western Libya, which is controlled by forces loyal to the UN-supported government.

In Tripoli, local militia allied with the government opened fire on the demonstrators using rifles and truck-mounted guns, and abducted some of the protesters.

Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj and his interior minister, Fathi Bashaga, initially accused “outlawed infiltrators” over the violence. The prime minister also said the protesters “did not obtain necessary permits” for their rally and described their demonstrations as “riots.”

However on Friday, Sarraj suspended Bashaga and referred him to an administrative investigation after the interior minister accused a government-allied militia of attacking the peaceful protesters in Tripoli this week.

Bashaga, who was excluded from two high-profile military and security meetings in the capital over the past few days, quickly responded. He said in a statement he accepted the premier’s decision but demanded a public and live questioning “to expose the facts” of the incident.

Following the suspension of the interior minister, militias in Tripoli celebrated the decision by firing into the air, while others in Bashaga’s hometown of Misrata took to the streets to show support for the minister.

The UN mission in Libya, known as UNSMIL, said it was still concerned about “the excessive use of force against demonstrators as well as the arbitrary arrest of a number of civilians.” It did not say how many people were detained.

Retweeting the UNSMIL’s statement, the US embassy in Libya urged Sarraj and Bashaga toward “cooperation” in the interests “the Libyan people.”

Over the past two days, militias sealed off main streets and roads to prevent the demonstrators from reaching Tripoli’s Martyrs Square, the epicenter of the protests, according to two residents who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear reprisals.

A group of women however protested in the city center before being dispersed. Two women were wounded and four others were arrested, according to the protest movement, known as “Hirak Aug. 23.”

The movement called for civil disobedience until achieving their demands that include handing over power to the Supreme Judicial Council to work toward presidential and parliamentary elections.

Protests also spread to the southern town of Sabah and the eastern town of Quba, both under the control of rival east-based Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar.

The UN also said it is concerned about “on-going human rights violations and abuses” in the coastal city of Sirte, which is controlled by Haftar’s forces since January. It said at least one civilian was killed and several others were arrested.

“The prolific use of hate speech and incitement to violence appears designed to further divide Libyans, increase polarization and tear at the country’s social fabric,” the UN mission said.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was later killed. The country is now split between rival east- and west-based administrations, each backed by different armed groups and foreign governments.


Jordan court affirms Muslim Brotherhood 'does not exist' in latest twist over rival groups

By Mohammad Ersan

23 July 2020

Over the years, as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in turn declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be “a terrorist” organisation, Jordan stood by.

But as Amman’s relationship with the Islamist group has deteriorated since the Arab Spring, the Jordanian Court of Cassation ruled on 15 July to officially dissolve the organisation’s branch in the country.

At the same time as Jordan has legalised the splinter group Muslim Brotherhood Society (MBS), it has closed the offices of the main Brotherhood organisation, under the pretext that it wasn’t licensed.

The Jordanian legal system has confiscated Muslim Brotherhood properties, offices and funds since 2015, transferring the assets to the MBS, which is headed by former Brotherhood leader Sheikh Abdel Majed Thnibat.

The 15 July court decision, which affirmed that the original Muslim Brotherhood organisation in Jordan has no legal basis to exist, has become the latest milestone in relations between the movement and the Jordanian government.

Ebb and flow

Relations between the Hashemite monarchy and the Muslim Brotherhood have ebbed and flowed over the decades, influenced by local and regional politics.

The Brotherhood was officially established in Jordan in 1945, according to the country’s laws at the time. It renamed itself in 1953 simply as al-Jamaa (“the group”) and received accreditation through a cabinet-level decision to exist and operate in Jordan.

But the latest court decision has ruled that the “Muslim Brotherhood Jamaa no longer exists and has lost its legal status because it has not adhered to the legal requirements of Jordanian law,” as well as reportedly failing to renew its political license under the terms of a 2014 law on political parties.

The court made this judgment in response to a case brought by the Brotherhood against Jordan’s land department, calling on the government entity to rescind its decision to hand over lands and buildings owned by the Brotherhood to the MBS, which has been registered since 2015.

In response to the ruling, the Muslim Brotherhood said that “the decision of the Court of Cassation is not final - it simply returned the case to the appeals court, which will continue looking into the case”.

“The timing of this decision is strange,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu Bakr told Middle East Eye. “We will continue to pursue this case legally, because this is not a final decision.

“The Muslim Brotherhood exists and has been around for decades and has a wide audience. It will continue to carry out its activities during these difficult circumstances affecting Jordan, including Zionist threats,” he added, before noting that it was “strange to have such a decision during this critical period in which Jordan needs a united internal front to be united.”

Abu Bakr was referring to ongoing Israeli efforts to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, which would constitute a security issue for the Hashemite kingdom.

Friends yesterday, enemies today

Historically, the Muslim Brotherhood stood by the Jordanian monarchy during political and security circumstances that could have brought down the Hashemite leadership in the 1950s. It aligned itself with King Hussein against leftist Prime Minister Suleiman Nabulsi, who was backed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Tensions were high, and culminated in a failed coup by Jordanian generals in 1957.

At the time, the Brotherhood filled the streets with protesters against Nabulsi’s pan-Arab government, which was later removed by Hussein. In the following elections, the Muslim Brotherhood won 22 seats and took control of the parliament’s presidency for three consecutive terms, in addition to holding five ministries in the government of Prime Minister Mudar Badran in 1991.

But the Brotherhood’s support of the Arab Spring in 2011 soured the organisation’s relationship with Amman.

Amman blamed the Brotherhood for seeking to push its agenda of Islamist politics during the wave of uprisings across the region. In 2014, King Abdullah II accused the Brotherhood in an interview of having “hijacked the Arab Spring”.

Angered by the Brotherhood’s demands, the Jordanian government launched a counterattack, aiming to delegitimise the Islamist movement and restrict its activities.

A number of Islamist leaders, like Zaki Bani Rushaid, were imprisoned over charges of damaging Jordan’s relations with the UAE.

King Abdullah II met with parliamentary representatives of the Islamic movement at his palace in May 2019, which was interpreted at the time as a sign of rapprochement. But this detente was shortlived.

Ongoing legal process

According to the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordanian courts have affirmed the organisation’s legal status in a number of cases, but most have yet to receive a final ruling.

The Amman appeals court ruled on 14 July against a request that the Brotherhood vacate a building that it has been using as a headquarters. The court said the Muslim Brotherhood had the legal right to sign rental agreements and that no other party could take its place and void its lease agreements.

“The Jordanian Court of Cassation had ruled in a different case that the Brotherhood Society (MBS) is not the legal heir of the Jamaa, and that the Jamaa has a right to sign contracts and leases and deal with properties,” the former head of the Jordanian Bar Association, Saleh Armouti MP, told MEE. “So, the latest decision is certainly not final and can be appealed.”

Armouti, who is a member of the Islah parliamentary bloc affiliated with the Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front political arm, believes that the political disagreements are coinciding with plans for new parliamentary elections - which are expected to be announced any day now by royal decree.

“We will experience new security-inspired restrictions on political leaders to dissuade them from creating alliances with the Islamic Action Front,” Armouti predicted, adding that many people “have been sharing this court decision as if it is a final decision about the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, but this is not true.”

What options for the Brotherhood?

Marwan Shehadeh, an expert in the political affairs of the Islamic movement, agrees with Armouti that the court decision has implications beyond a simple legal decision.

“The decision was expected because of the tense relations between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government,” Shehadeh told MEE.

“The government took advantage of internal conflicts within the Brotherhood and supported one side over the other, leading to this decision that supports one side (the MBS), which is closer to the government.”

Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood’s possible next steps, Shehadeh said: “There is a strong political arm to the movement, which is the Islamic Action Front, and this front and the Muslim Brotherhood will be able to carry out its outlook and its effectiveness.

“The other choice is the legal one, but from my personal observations the government will continue to insist that the properties owned by the Muslim Brotherhood will be transferred to the new organisation with the same name, even though the government has been unable to stop the mother organisation in other areas.”

The Muslim Brotherhood makes no secret of the fact that it would like to ease tensions with the Jordanian government.

In an attempt to protect itself from government pressure, Islamists in Jordan have sought to create political alliances during elections, whether during municipal or parliamentary polls, or within professional unions and student elections at universities.

They won 15 seats in the 2016 parliamentary elections under the National Alliance for Reform - consisting of 10 Islamists and five independents reflecting an array of political persuasions. The same has happened in professional union elections, and in university student elections.

It remains to be seen whether this strategy will keep working in the next elections.


Nigerians migrants attack medics at Rome coronavirus centre

30 August 2020

Three Nigerian migrants attacked staff in a military hospital in Rome after testing positive for the new coronavirus, the defense ministry said Saturday.

The incident at the Celio military hospital, now turned into a COVID-19 treatment center, occurred when they saw a Bangladeshi migrant walking out after testing negative and then tried to flee but were stopped.

They are accused of violence, resistance and causing bodily harm.

“The attacks at the military hospital are serious and unacceptable,” Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini said.

The incident was seized upon by Italy’s anti-immigration former interior minister Matteo Salvini who said the government was putting “Italy in danger.”

Migration has for years been a hot-button political issue in Italy, a main EU landing point for people crossing the Mediterranean and arriving in Sicily and sister island Lampedusa.


Mali’s military junta postpones first meeting over transfer of powers

29 August 2020

Mali’s military junta on Saturday postponed the first meeting over the transfer of power after rising tensions with the main leaders who sparked the August 18 coup.

The junta had invited civic groups, political organizations and former rebels to consultations on Saturday, but said in a statement that the meeting was postponed at the last minute to a later date due to “organizational reasons.”

A protest coalition that had campaigned against former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the June 5 Movement, had not been invited to participate in the meeting.

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The group has demanded that the military junta give it a role in the transition to civilian rule which the military has promised, though without a timetable.

The June 5 movement accused the new military rulers of trying to hijack the coup.

“We state with bitterness that this junta which had sparked hope in the hearts of all Malians... is in the process of drifting away from the people,” said Tahirou Bah, from the Espoir Malikoura association, one of the pillars of the June 5 movement.

After an escalating series of mass protests, young army officers mutinied on August 18, seizing Keita and other leaders and declaring they now governed the country.

The coup shocked Mali’s West African neighbors and ally France, heightening worries over instability in a country already struggling with an insurgency, ethnic violence and economic malaise.

Mali’s influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, a key player in the mass opposition protests that led to Keita’s ouster, said Friday that the new military rulers did not have “carte blanche.”

“We will not give a blank cheque to anyone to run this country, that’s over,” he said.

“We led the fight,” he said. “People have died and the soldiers who have completed (this fight) must keep their word.”

Dicko’s spokesman Issa Kaou Djim later expanded on this saying the imam “said the people have started to doubt” the junta.

“A revolution cannot be confiscated by a group of soldiers,” he said.

His comments came as a new document published on the Malian government’s Official Journal said the junta’s head had been effectively invested with the powers of head of state.

West African leaders, meanwhile, on Friday demanded an immediate civilian transition and elections within 12 months as they considered sanctions.

The West African regional bloc ECOWAS closed its borders with Mali after the coup, banning trade and financial flows as it demanded the release of Keita and other detained officials.

Keita, 75, was elected in 2013 as a unifying figure in a fractured country and was returned in 2018 for a second five-year term.

But his popularity crashed as he failed to counter the raging insurgency and brake Mali’s downward economic spiral.


Boko Haram militants kill two, kidnap two in northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri

29 August 2020

Boko Haram terrorists have killed two men and seized two others when they attacked farmers outside Maiduguri city in northeast Nigeria.

The militants rode into fields in Alau village on horseback on Friday, seizing four farmers, hacking two to death and kidnapping the others after inflicting machete cuts on them.

"We recovered the bodies of the two slain farmers, bearing deep machete wounds to the head and torso," militiaman Mohammed Bukar said.

"Farmers who escaped the assault said two others were injured and abducted by the attackers," Bukar added.

The farmers were from a displaced camp on the outskirts of the city who grow crops in the village, said militia leader Babakura Kolo, confirming the death toll.

Around two million people have been displaced by the decade-long militancy. Many now live in camps where they rely on food and humanitarian assistance from aid agencies.

Some have turned to felling trees from the surrounding bushland to sell as firewood to make money to buy extra provision while others engage in subsistence farming in nearby fields.

Boko Haram has increasingly targeted loggers, herders and fishermen in their violent campaign, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militias fighting them.

Boko Haram's militancy, launched in northeast Nigeria in 2009, has killed more than 36,000 people and displaced more than two million from their homes.

The violence has since spread to Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

A regional military coalition involving troops from the four countries, is fighting to end the violence.

A report said on Wednesday that at least 75 members of a community  were killed by the terrorist group in Nigeria’s northeastern province of Borno.

The massacre occurred in the town of Gwoza, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency quoted Ali Ndume, a senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on the Army, as saying.

On Monday, Amnesty International said in a report that at least 1,126 people had been killed in rural areas across several states in central and northeastern Nigeria amid an alarming escalation in raids and kidnappings by armed bandits since January.


Thousands still missing in South Sudan: Rights group

Benjamin Takpiny  


The US-based Human Rights Watch on Friday called on South Sudan to investigate the fate and whereabouts of thousands of victims of enforced disappearances and those still missing from years of civil war in the country.

“Since the conflict broke out in December 2013, the United Nations and other organizations including Human Rights Watch have documented major human rights violations including attacks on civilians and targeted killings, abductions, and detentions by the parties to the conflict,” the rights group said in a report that came ahead of the Aug. 30 International Day of the Disappeared.

“People have vanished in South Sudan, and are presumed detained or dead,” said Jehanne Henry, East Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government needs to acknowledge that people are still missing and take concrete steps to investigate and hold those responsible to account,” Henry added.

The report referred to The Ones We Lost, a local initiative launched in 2014 which documented some “280 names of missing people since December 2013, some of whom were abducted or detained by security forces and meet the definition of enforced disappearance.”

“The International Committee of the Red Cross reported in 2014 that over 4,000 people were still missing since the war started and their fate or whereabouts remained unknown,” the report noted.

The authorities have not started to “address Sudanese government abuses during the South’s long war for independence, which ended in 2005,” it said.

The rights group urged the South Sudanese government to take immediate, concrete steps by ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and end the practices of unlawful and secret detentions by its security forces.

“They should also set up the transitional justice bodies provided for in the 2015 and 2018 peace agreements,” it added.

Meanwhile, the South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth dismissed the report.

“These are mere stories that are being concocted by people who need to secure or to grantee their own livelihood, this is not correct,” Lueth told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

He called on the rights group to come up with areas where it said the people got disappear.

“They should differentiate between the transitional government and the current revitalized government,” he said.



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