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Islamic World News ( 4 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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RSS-Linked Vedic Schools Expand Hindutva Footprint in Muslim-Majority Bangladesh

New Age Islam News Bureau

04 May 2023

 

The Vedic Schools function from 9 to 11 am every Friday and Saturday, which are weekly holidays in Bangladesh. Image: Twitter

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South Asia

UN Says Future of Afghanistan’s Media in the Balance

Press Freedom Index: Why Afghanistan Outperformed India, Who Measures It, And How Accurate Is The Data

Taliban Interfering With NGO Work in Afghanistan: Report

Political Dialogue among Afghans is Key Solution to the Crisis, Says US Envoy

China’s Investment in Afghan Lithium Sector: Broad Geo-Economic

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Europe

'2 Muslim Night Riders' Honoured With Community Pioneers Awardat the British Muslim Awards

Crawley Mosque prays for King and country in Coronation celebrations

Russian ally calls on US to review sanctions policy

West cannot stay silent on Kremlin drone attack but won’t admit anything – experts

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India

Noise Pollution by Mosque: Bombay High Court Tells Cops to Comply With Norms

‘Moral policing’ in Karnataka: Muslim youth assaulted for talking to Hindu girl, 4 held

India keen on strengthening ties with Kingdom in trade, tourism and technology

NIA Carries out Raids across J&K, Detains Two to Probe Conspiracy to 'Commit Terror Acts'

YSRCP Muslim Leaders Meet at Party Office in Tadepalli

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Arab World

Global Islamic finance industry to grow by 10% in 2023-2024

Shura Council Speaker Meets with Algerian Foreign Minister

Saudi Arabia reports 176 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Saudi ministry, SAP launch training program to develop national digital capabilities

Saudi Foreign Ministry condemns storming of cultural attache building in Khartoum

Saudi Shoura Council speaker holds talks with Algerian People’s National Assembly speaker

Tabuk will host first edition of Camel Avenue festival

Islamic Affairs Ministry Inaugurates Holy Quran Exhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Pakistan

FM Bilawal consults PDM, JI leaders ahead of India visit

Chinese FM to visit Islamabad for Pakistan-China strategic dialogue

PM Shehbaz touches down in UK to attend King Charles' coronation ceremony

Minister Talha rejects free, VIP Hajj

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North America

In ‘Operation Ezra,’ Canadian Jews Helped Yazidis Fleeing Islamic State Persecution

CAIR Demands Terror Watchlist Be Shut Down After Muslim Mayor Is Uninvited From White House Ramadan Event

CAIR Joins Call by 51 Human Rights Groups for Release of American Muslim Scholar from Egyptian Prison, Calls on State Dept. to Demand Release

CAIR Files Suit against Dept. of State over Denial of Religious Accommodation for Muslim Employee

Call for Establishing Muslim Heritage Month, Combating Global Islamophobia and Watchlist Oversight

Islamic Development Bank Institute Organizes its 17th Global Forum with Focus on Disruptive Solutions for Economic Resilience

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Mideast

Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Round of Confrontation with Enemy Has Ended, but March of Resistance Continues

Chairman of the Knesset NSC: We Are Being Held Captive By Hamas and Islamic Jihad

UN states urged to support call for International Court of Justice opinion on Israeli occupation

KANS to Honour Young Researchers of Islamic World in 3rd Scientific Competition

Palestinian UN envoy lauds Islamic Jihad member who died on hunger strike

IMF's Jihad Azour evades presidential query, stresses staff-level agreement at Dubai panel

Heavy fighting in Khartoum as power struggle rages

Israeli military kills 3 wanted Palestinians in West Bank

Deadly bus crash with truck kills 14, injures 25 in Egypt

Sudan’s descent into chaos shatters illusion of safety for war-weary Syrians

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Africa

Arab League, African Union andUN Intensify Efforts For Peace In Sudan

Buhari Has Taken Nigeria 100 Years Backward, Says Buba Galadima

I see my role as delivering hope for millions of people – Adesina

Hundreds of thousands try to flee Sudan as fighting continues

Sahel region singled out on World Press Freedom Day

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Southeast Asia

Nazri Says Ouster Rumours Make Foreign Investors Wary Of Malaysia

S.Korea, Indonesia to seek stronger economic ties, push for green growth

Agong, Raja Permaisuri wish Buddhists ‘Happy Wesak Day’

Bring up Borneo Aviation Authority proposal to Cabinet, says Zahid

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/rss-vedic-hindutva-bangladesh-muslim/d/129702

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 RSS-linked Vedic Schools expand Hindutva footprint in Muslim-majority Bangladesh

 

The Vedic Schools function from 9 to 11 am every Friday and Saturday, which are weekly holidays in Bangladesh. Image: Twitter

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Samir K Purkayastha

4 May, 2023

A group of children is rote-learning 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita under an open sky in a rural setting. This scene of early initiation to the tenets of Hinduism is from a Vedic school in Dinajpur district of Muslim-majority Bangladesh, a country where the Hindu population is declining at an alarming rate.

There are 353 such informal learning centres for children called Vedic Schools across Bangladesh set up by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-linked outfit working to expand the Hindutva ideology in the neighbouring country.

“The idea is to instil a sense of Hindu pride from an early age in order to promote and protect our religion, which is facing an existential crisis in Bangladesh,” said Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, the secretary general of the grand alliance.

Gobinda Chandra Pramanik

Gobinda Chandra Pramanik, secretary general of the Bangladesh National Hindu Grand Alliance.

The outfit feels the need for early initiation to religion as Hindu youth are allegedly falling prey to “love jihad” and becoming “indifferent” to their religion.

“Many Hindus are disowning their religion by marrying people from other faiths. It is very difficult to get devoted Hindus here,” Pramanik told The Federal, defending his organisation’s ‘Vedic venture’ to mould the children into staunch Hindus.

Equipping children to answer questions 

Apart from introducing children to Hindu religious texts, another important aspect of teaching in these schools is to equip them to answer the most-frequently asked questions on Hinduism by non-Hindus.

“This is important because Hindu children are often being teased and taunted by their non-Hindu friends by posing questions like ‘why do Hindus worship cows or believe in idols’,” said Pramanik, also a leader of the Bangladesh chapter of the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The VHP is part of the larger Sangh Parivar spawned by the RSS. “Though overtly we function as an independent organisation, we are an affiliate of the VHP,” Pramanik said about the Mohajote or the BJHM.

The Vedic Schools function from 9 to 11 am every Friday and Saturday, which are weekly holidays in Bangladesh. The student strength in the schools varies from 25 to 50, depending on the Hindu population in the area. The teachers are mostly local volunteers.

“We neither take any fee from students nor do we pay any remuneration to teachers because, in Hindu philosophy, imparting knowledge is considered as repaying of social debt,” Pramanik added. The classes are often conducted in the premises of local temples.

Goal unite Hindus in Bangladesh

The BJHM was formed in 2006 to “unify all Hindus of Bangladesh” to be a strong socio-religious and political community.

“In India, the role of organisations in the Sangh Parivar is segregated. For instance, the VHP is a religious organisation while the BJP is a political party. But here in Bangladesh, the Mohajote does multitasking,” Pramanik claimed.

One of the political endeavours of the BJHM is to convince the 7 per cent Hindus in Bangladesh not to consider themselves as a vote bank of the Awami League.

The Hindu population in Bangladesh as per the 2011 census was 8.54 per cent. It dropped to 7.95 per cent in 2022. In 1981, Bangladesh had 12.13 per cent Hindu population. It

However, the Hindu population in the region started declining even before the Partition. From 33 per cent in 1901, it slumped to 28 per cent in 1941.

To protect the Hindu population, the Mohajote is now demanding re-instatement of reserved seats in Parliament and a separate electoral system for Hindus.

Demand for reservation

In the East Pakistan Provincial Assembly, 72 seats (69 for Hindus, two for Buddhists, and one for Christians) were reserved for minorities until 1954. To elect them, separate voting used to take place exclusively for minorities.

As the Hindu population has dwindled since 1954, the Hindu outfit is now demanding that 50 of the country’s 350 parliamentary seats be reserved for the Hindus, failing which it has threatened to boycott the national elections due in December-January.

To press for its demand, it is spearheading a movement holding frequent demonstrations and mobilisation drives. The BJHM has an organisational presence in all 64 districts of Bangladesh and is further expanding its base to all the wards.

There are currently 18 Hindu MPs in Bangladesh.

Source: thefederal.com

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https://thefederal.com/exclusive/rss-linked-vedic-schools-expand-hindutva-footprint-in-muslim-majority-bangladesh/

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Holds Downing Street Reception for UK Muslim Community

 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends a reception to mark Eid Al Fitr in 10 Downing Street. Photo: Downing Street / Twitter

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Soraya Ebrahimi

May 04, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosted a gathering for members of Britain's Muslim community at Downing Street on Wednesday evening.

The event was held to celebrate last month’s Eid Al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to thank guests for their contribution to the country and their communities.

In April, Mr Sunak sent his “warmest wishes” to Muslims in the UK and around the world as they marked Eid Al Fitr.

“Eid is a timely opportunity to acknowledge the shared values which bind us together, particularly your compassion and dedication to contribute to charity and philanthropy,” he said.

“This was evident earlier this year, through the community’s outstanding response to support the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.”

He also paid tribute to the contribution the Muslim community has made to the country.

“Whether it be in business, sports, media, our public services, or, of course, our NHS and armed forces, British Muslims are helping to make the country the success it is,” he said.

“Eid Mubarak to everyone observing it today.

“I look forward to welcoming representatives from the British Muslim community to Downing Street to celebrate.”

Source: thenationalnews.com

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https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2023/05/03/rishi-sunak-hosts-downing-street-reception-for-uk-muslim-community/

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‘The Kerala Story’ Should Not Be Screened, Says Kerala State Muslim Youth League General Secy

 

Kerala Muslim Youth General Secretary PK Firos, (Photo: Instagram)

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3 May, 2023

Amish Mahajan

On Wednesday, Kerala General Secretary of Muslim Youth League PK Firoz said that the film ‘The Kerala Story’ should not be screened as it insults Muslims, Kerala and girls. This film should not be screened. The film is about the hatred of others towards a particular religion or community. You can be critical and sarcastic. But don’t hate. This is an insult to Muslims, Kerala and girls.

Firoz further said, ‘We intend to expose the hypocrisy of the film. We have now partially succeeded in this. Because earlier, the filmmakers claimed that 32000 girls from Kerala were converted. Now they have modified it into a story. Of three girls, People in Kerala, India and around the world believe this is fake propaganda. He had to turn his back on insulting Kerala.

Firoz alleged that the film would create a communal divide between religious groups and that inciting hatred and fear in a section is an offence under the Indian Penal Code. The film should not be banned. The question is, can anything be shown in the name of film and creative expression? The film intends to create a competition between different religious groups. When a non-Muslim watches a film, he will naturally develop a fear of associating with Muslims. Thus inciting hatred and fear between a class is an offence under the Indian Penal Code. Can anything be shown even if it spreads hatred if it is called a film? This film is not in the scope of a film. It is a matter of competition between different religious groups”, Firoz said.

He further said, “Unfortunately, under the central government, the censor board allowed the film’s screening. So we don’t expect any further action against it from the censor board or other agencies. We are not going to politicize the issue.” Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain petitions seeking a stay on the release of the film ‘The Kerala Story’ in theatres and OTT platforms and allowed the petitioners to approach the Kerala High Court.

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha noted that a similar petition is pending before the Kerala High Court and asked them to approach the High Court with their pleas. The High Court is scheduled to hear the case against the film on May 5. Advocate Vrinda Grover mentioned before the bench the plea seeking urgent listing yesterday, saying the film is releasing on May 5. The petition mentioned by Grover has sought modification of the film’s disclaimer, saying that it is completely fictional. The bench, however, asked him to approach the High Court, where a similar petition is pending.

Source: newsx.com

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https://www.newsx.com/the-kerala-story/

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Saudi Arabia Executes Young Shia Man, Manhal Al-Ribh, Nearly Seven Years after His Arrest

 

An execution is about to take place using the method of hanging [Patrick Feller/Flickr

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May 3, 2023

The Saudi Ministry of Interior announced yesterday that a death sentence against a young man from the Shia minority had been carried out, nearly seven years after his arrest.

The ministry said that it had carried out the death sentence against Manhal Al-Ribh, who was convicted of "joining a terrorist cell seeking corruption in the country".

Al-Ribh was convicted of shooting at security vehicles with intent to kill and possessing weapons and ammunition with the aim of disturbing security.

He was also charged with hiding a wanted person and supporting his ideology, in an indirect reference to the Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr who was executed by Saudi authorities in 2016.

Al-Ribh is the 20th person to be executed by Saudi authorities this year.

The European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights warned that the execution of Al-Ribh, who was not involved in the killing of any security personnel, contrary to what had been stated in the official statement, raises concerns about the implementation of more executions.

According to the organisation, there are 63 detainees, including nine minors, who face the death penalty.

Saudi Arabia had previously accused Shia detainees of being loyal to Iran and taking orders from it. There has been no change to their plight since the Saudi-Iranian reconciliation deal two months ago.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230503-saudi-arabia-executes-young-shia-man/

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SC Disposes Of Suo Motu Notice of Hazaras’ Killings after Govt Assurance To Help

 

Pakistan Supreme Court

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May 04, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) Wednesday abolished the condition of attestation of forms of Hazara community by the members of national or provincial assemblies as well as chairmen union councils for acquiring passports and computerised national identity cards (CNICs).

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial, disposed of a suo motu case on targeted killings of the Hazara community members after the federal government promised to resolve the issues of the community.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1066828-after-govt-assurance-to-help-community-sc-disposes-of-suo-motu-notice-of-hazaras-killings

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South Asia

 

UN Says Future of Afghanistan’s Media in the Balance

By

Fidel Rahmati

May 4, 2023

 On World Press Freedom Day, the UN expressed grave concern for the Media’s future in Afghanistan, where journalists are compelled to operate in an environment of fear and intimidation.

“On World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations expresses serious concern for the future of Afghanistan’s media, with journalists forced to work in a climate of intimidation and fear amid increased restrictions by the Taliban de facto authorities,” the UN said a statement.

Many media professionals have left Afghanistan since August 2021, and the country’s economic turmoil has affected the industry. Numerous media outlets have shut down, and female journalists have been disproportionately impacted because of additional restrictions that have made it almost impossible for them to do their jobs.

UNAMA has documented numerous human rights violations against journalists and media workers by the de facto authorities over the past 18 months. Arbitrary arrests and detentions, ill-treatment and threats have been employed to suppress freedom of expression.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, said World Press Freedom Day was a moment to show solidarity with the Afghan journalists still attempting to maintain independent reporting in the country.

“Journalists are forced to make editorial decisions based on fear, not public interest. It is sadly part of a wider trend of declining freedom of expression and access to information,” Otunbayeva said.

“The persistent intimidation, threats, and attacks on journalists are unacceptable. We urge the Taliban de facto authorities to guarantee the freedom and independence of the media and the safety of journalists, women and men alike.”

Afghanistan dropped from 122 on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index of Reporters without Borders (RSF) to 156 (out of 180) in the 2023 report.

On the other hand, on World Press Freedom Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared that “the world must stand with journalists as they stand for the truth.”

“All our freedom depends on press freedom. However, in every corner of the world, freedom of the press is under attack.” He continued by saying, on World Press Freedom Day and every day, the world must stand with the journalists as they stand for the truth,” he said.

“Stop detaining & imprisoning journalists for doing their jobs. Stop the threats & attacks. Stop the lies & disinformation. Stop targeting truth & truth-tellers. As journalists stand up for truth, the world must stand with them,” he added.

A new report by the Afghanistan Journalists Centre (AFJC) showed that the situation of the media in the country has deteriorated, and the violence cases increased by 64 per cent in 2022.

The research reveals that between May 2022 and May 2023, at least 213 instances of violence, threats, and incarceration of journalists were reported in the nation.

Meanwhile, one person was killed, 21 were injured, six people were physically harassed, 115 people were threatened, and 70 journalists were detained, of which at least two journalists, Murtaza Behbudi and Khairullah Parhar, are still captivated by the de facto authorities.

Since the Taliban regained power in the country, the past two decades’ achievements in Media and “free media activity” has lost as the 65 % of journalists and media workers have lost their jobs, NAI said.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/un-says-future-of-afghanistans-media-in-the-balance/

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Press freedom index: Why Afghanistan outperformed India, who measures it, and how accurate is the data

03 May, 2023

On World Press Day, India slumped by 11 places to rank 161 among 180 nations in the new World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders – an international organisation advocating free and reliable information.

The downward slide continues even as the Narendra Modi government maintains that it does not subscribe to the findings of the “non-transparent” index while questioning the RSF’s methodology. RSF has termed it an attempt to “destabilize” the index.

What is the index about? How is the score calculated? Are autocracies safer than democracies for journalists? Do more detentions or arrests mean a lower ranking?

Newslaundry takes a look.

Methodology and sample size

The index evaluates the environment for journalists and covers 180 countries. Until 2021, RSF would rate countries under seven categories, but there are five “contextual indicators” on which countries are now scored, from 0 (worst) to 100 (best). These are political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and safety – with a total of 117 questions and sub-questions.

The “safety” segment has questions related to journalists’ murder, detention, harassment, etc.

Once the indicators are collated, countries are mapped into five categories: good situation (85-100 points), satisfactory situation (75-85), problematic situation (65-75); difficult situation (45-65) and very serious situation (below 45). India is in the last.

But who is answering these questions and what’s the sample size?

The government think tank Niti Aayog, in a 2020 note, claimed that questions are answered by “18 freedom of expression NGOs, many of which are funded by the RSF, and a network of around 150 correspondents, and researchers, jurists and human rights activists”. This means, the note claimed, one respondent is asked to assess one country.

However, RSF, in an email reply to Newslaundry, said the number of respondents, claimed by the government, is “made up” and it stands close to 10 for each country, translating into around 1,800.

“I don’t know where this data comes from, but it is totally made up. Since 2013 at least, all respondents have always been individuals (journalists, academics, experts, etc.). No NGO as such is a respondent. The figure of 150 does not correspond to anything,” said Daniel Bastard, head of the Asia-Pacific desk at RSF.

Last year, replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur spoke about why the government differed on the index. “The government does not subscribe to its (RSF) views and country rankings and does not agree to the conclusions drawn by this organisation for various reasons including very low sample size, little or no weightage to fundamentals of democracy, adoption of a methodology which is questionable and non-transparent, etc.” he had said.

From rank 80 to 161 over two decades

In its introduction to the India profile, RSF says that “press freedom is in crisis” in the country because of “violence against journalists, the politically partisan media and the concentration of media ownership” since 2014 when the Narendra Modi government was voted to power.

India’s rank has dropped 11 places to 161 – its worst. In 2014, the country was ranked 140. In 2002, the rank was more palatable at 80.

The study also provides separate rankings of countries with each indicator.

For example, India performed the worst in “security” and has been ranked 172. It stood at 143 on “social”; 144 on “legislative”; 155 on “economic”; and 169 on “political”.

RSF explains India’s “security” assessment. “India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media. Journalists are exposed to all kinds of physical violence including police violence, ambushes by political activists, and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials,” reads RSF’s India page. It raises concerns over “online attacks” by supporters of Hindutva; “terrifying coordinated campaigns of hatred and calls for murder are conducted on social media”; targeting of women journalists; a “worrisome” situation in Kashmir; and “provisional detentions for several years”.

The “political” indicator examines media autonomy vis-à-vis political pressure, media’s acceptance in holding the government accountable and “the level of acceptance of a variety of journalistic approaches satisfying professional standards”.

Newslaundry had earlier reported that no foreign correspondent (non-Indian) has been allowed to report from Kashmir since 2019 and it was rare for the government to approve permits for them in restricted and prohibited areas spanning Northeast and border states.

Newslaundry reached out to the government for comment. Two officials from the Press Council India could not meet because they were “busy” while another from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry remained unavailable for comment.

Detentions and murders

The RSF “barometer” on “victims of abuses” index shows that one journalist – Shashikant Warishe of Mahanagari Times – has been killed and 12 detained over the period the country was assessed.

India, as mentioned above, ranks 172 in the “security” indicator. Interestingly, Belarus, where 46 journalists remain under detention, is four places above India. Another example is Afghanistan, where seven journalists are under detention, two have been killed and one disappeared. It is placed at 161. It’s followed by Egypt with 25 cases of “abuses”. But all three have performed better on the “security” index. What explains this? One reason could be that the index also gives weightage to online trolling, targeting, harassment and threats.

Unsurprisingly, murder has more weightage than detention and other “abuses” in the index.

Democracy and press freedom

According to the Democracy Index of 2022, India is a “flawed democracy”, at the 46th position. The “flawed democracy” category is followed by “hybrid regimes” and “authoritarian regimes”. However, several of these countries have a better press freedom ranking.

Uzbekistan has an authoritarian regime but with a ranking of 137 performs much better than India’s 161 when it comes to press freedom.

Closer home, Afghanistan, with the disappearance of the last vestiges of democracy, has come on top at 152. In Latin America, journalists working from Venezuela are safer than India’s. In the Maghreb, Libya is better than India.

When asked about if the form of governance has any impact on the press index, Bastard said, “The RSF ranking does not judge the political system but the situation in 180 countries and/or territories. It is based on an analysis of five indicators...it therefore includes the political context but is not restricted to it.”

Be it that as it may, the index is a damning commentary on India’s deteriorating freedom of the press.

Source: newslaundry.com

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https://www.newslaundry.com/2023/05/03/press-freedom-index-why-afghanistan-outperformed-india-who-measures-it-and-how-accurate-is-the-data

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Taliban interfering with NGO work in Afghanistan: Report

May 3

A Taliban fighter recently fired his rifle into the air at a food distribution event in Afghanistan, an example of their harassment of nongovernmental groups operating in the country, a report from a US watchdog said Wednesday.

The Taliban last December barred Afghan women from working at NGOs, allegedly because they were not wearing the hijab — the Islamic headscarf — correctly and were not observing gender segregation rules. In April, they said this ban extended to UN offices and agencies in Afghanistan.

The measure is being actively enforced by the country’s intelligence agency, which reports to the Taliban’s leadership in Kandahar, although their chief spokesman says there are no obstacles for U.N. operations in Afghanistan.

The latest quarterly report from the watchdog for US assistance to Afghanistan, SIGAR, cited examples of Taliban interference and harassment of NGOs, including the rifle incident.

Organizations face security risks and harassment at Taliban checkpoints, unannounced Taliban visits to NGO offices, repeated requests for information on work plans, budgets, operations, and personnel, and demands for increased involvement in project decision-making and implementation.

The April ban on women working for the United Nations likely signals that they will “continue to interfere” in NGO operations to the detriment of the Afghan people, according to the report.

The U.N. told SIGAR that, in addition to the challenges posed by specific Taliban policies, weak Taliban governance and tension between central and provincial authorities make an effective humanitarian response difficult to implement.

“This dysfunction is expected to limit the ability to implement policies which sustain critical public and basic services and reduce needs,” the report said, with the U.N. telling the watchdog that a “more restrictive environment lies ahead.” Aid agencies have been providing food, education and health care support to Afghans in the wake of the Taliban takeover in August 2021 and the economic collapse that followed it. But distribution has been severely affected by the Taliban edict banning women from working at NGOs — and, now, also at the U.N.

The Economy Ministry, which supervises NGO work in Afghanistan, rejected the SIGAR claims. Ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman Habib said there were no reports of checkpoint harassment or other interference.

A “special procedure” to improve NGO performance and solve problems has been shared with all aid agencies and U.N. offices in Afghanistan, he said, without providing further details on the procedure.

He also reiterated that the December order, issued by the ministry, remains in place. Afghan women are permitted to work for NGOs in certain sectors, such as health and education, but not others.

SIGAR’s report follows a closed-door U.N. summit on Afghanistan that the world body described as an event where nations and organizations were trying to reach unified stances on human rights, governance, counterterrorism and anti-drug efforts related to Afghanistan.

The Taliban were not invited to the meeting, which was held in Qatar. AP  

Source: tribuneindia.com

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https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/taliban-interfering-with-ngo-work-in-afghanistan-report-504452

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Political Dialogue Among Afghans is Key Solution to the Crisis, Says US Envoy

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

May 4, 2023

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West has said that participants at the Doha meeting agreed that political dialogue among Afghans is a central part of the solution to all challenges.

On Wednesday, Thomas West on Twitter said that the Doha talks were not about the recognition of the Taliban’s de facto regime. However, the focus was identifying shared interests and how to collectively approach the Taliban and deal with critical issues including terrorism, repression of women and girls, devastating humanitarian crisis, and drug trafficking in Afghanistan.

He further added that countries may have different priorities for these interests, however, the general consensus was on intra-Afghan dialogue to find a solution to the Afghan crisis.  The senior U.S. diplomat reiterated that recognition of the Taliban was not part of the discussion, however, the special envoys discussed ways to engage with the Taliban and address key challenges Afghanistan is currently plagued with.

Prior to the Doha talks, protests were seen in Afghanistan and overseas, demanding the participants not recognize the Taliban’s de facto regime. Protestors had warned that recognizing the Taliban means recognizing gender apartheid.

The UN-led meeting took place behind closed doors between May 1-2 in Doha Qatar, chaired by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and special envoys of 25 countries and international organizations.

The United Nations had neither invited the Taliban representatives nor anyone from the exiled Afghan political factions or civil society activists. 

Suhail Shaheen, the head of the Taliban’s office in Qatar described Doha Talks as “single-sided and ineffective”. Afghanistan is an independent country and its interests should be heard at such high-level meetings, instead of being ignored, he added.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/political-dialogue-among-afghans-is-key-solution-to-the-crisis-says-us-envoy/

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China’s Investment in Afghan Lithium Sector : Broad Geo-Economic

May 4, 2023

Written by: Noman Hussaini, Freelance Journalist

The recent offer by China-based Gochin Company to invest USD 10 billion in Afghanistan’s lithium mining sector, estimated to be worth more than USD 1 trillion, is apparently a broad Chinese strategy to control country’s mineral resources, particularly, its lithium deposits which are critical global mineral supply chains. According to the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the Chinese company has also offered to invest in several other Afghan infrastructure projects, including tunnels, hydro-electric dam and highways if it is awarded the lithium mining contract.

After the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Beijing has been looking to increase its economic footprint in Afghanistan and control its natural resources. Chinese corporations and officials have been in contact with Taliban officials to renegotiate and restart previous mining and oil contracts. Earlier, on January 6, the Taliban signed a deal with Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Company (CAPEIC), a contract to extract oil from the Amu Darya basin. The deal will see an investment of USD 150 million in the first year and USD 540 million over the next three years. Greater presence in Afghanistan provides China with an opportunity to strengthen its regional power and influence.

According to Sayed Mehdi Munadi, an international affairs analyst based in France and a former Afghan diplomat who was stationed in Beijing, China is also extracting Afghanistan’s natural resources through illegal workarounds, bribery and smuggling. His statement has been strengthened by recent reports of Taliban authorities arresting 5 men, including two Chinese nationals, for allegedly trying to smuggle an estimated 1,000 tonnes of lithium-bearing rocks out of the country via Pakistan. According to Mohammad Rasool Aqab, a senior official at the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, the rocks, which contained up to 30% of lithium, were secretly extracted from Nuristan and Kunar, two of the several Afghan provinces along the bordering Pakistan.

With more than half of the world’s electric vehicles sold in the country, China’s appetite for lithium and cobalt is skyrocketing. Chinese companies manage nearly two-thirds of the global lithium processing and refining, which is a potential supply chain risk for other countries. With significant share of mineral processing capacity, China is stepping up downstream investments to maintain its control over lithium and other minerals. In the last five years, Chinese companies have made significant investments in lithium mining in Latin America including Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico and Chile.

Besides, Chinese companies are also turning into Africa, including Zimbabwe, Namibia and Congo, for mineral assets. Africa produces about two-thirds of the world’s cobalt and 10% of its copper, while the exploration of lithium resources

is in the early stage. Despite risks like political instability, inadequate laws & regulations, corruption, poor infrastructure and problems associated with early stage exploration, Chinese investors are keen to invest in the continent’s mineral resources to take a head start over the Western countries.

Concern over access to critical minerals is at an all-time high after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and escalating tensions between the West and China. China is attempting to build a dominant position in minerals like cobalt, lithium and rare earth metals that are crucial for the new age energy transition. Analysts point out that Chinese companies invested in lithium supply in Africa and Latin America even when lithium prices were low as their long-term strategy to secure supply of rare earth elements. China is not only investing in mines overseas but also investing in building domestic refineries to process their output.

According to David Deckelbaum, MD for Sustainability & Energy Transition at New York based Cowen Inc., China has spent somewhere between USD 60 – 100 billion over the last decade to build its lithium industry by subsidising the production of cheap EVs and helping companies invest in lithium mining and refining infrastructure.

The Chinese move, a long-term strategy to spread its geo-economic interests and garner market dominance, poses a strategic and security challenge for other countries looking to transit to green energy. In 2019, for example, China had used rare earths as a threat during its trade war with the US, when it threatened to cut off supplies to the US.

Even though China does not have anywhere close to the world’s largest lithium reserves, the country is dominating the global lithium battery supply chain. The International Energy Agency puts China’s share of global refining capacity at 58%. UBS AG expects Chinese-controlled mines to raise output of lithium to 705,000 tonnes by 2025 from 194,000 tonnes in 2022. That would lift China’s share of the mineral critical to electric-vehicle batteries to 32% of global supply, from 24% in 2021. It could increase supply chain risks for other countries, which now need to decrease their dependence on Chinese lithium supply and establish a secure, independent supply of lithium before it is too late. There is a very real threat that China would control the lithium market as OPEC did with petroleum.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/chinas-investment-in-afghan-lithium-sector-broad-geo-economic/

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Europe

 

'2 Muslim Night Riders' Honoured With Community Pioneers Awardat the British Muslim Awards

3rd May

By Muhammad Khan

Two cyclists who have inspired people to 'get on their bikes' have been honoured at the British Muslim Awards.

Ahtisham and Nooralom from Burnage and Levenshulme respectively, the founders of 2 Muslim Night Riders started cycling at night and visited popular landmarks and tourist attractions in Greater Manchester when the first lockdown happened over two years ago.

They won the 'Community Pioneers of the year' award for promoting healthy living and advocating mental health while cycling and having fun at the same time.

Nooralam said: “First of all we want to thank Allah, and send salutations on our beloved Muhammad (saw) and we thank our parents and our teacher Shaykh Ahmad Dabbagh for inspiring and guiding us on how to contribute positively to society. His famous saying is to ‘Be fruitful wherever Allah has planted you’.

“To get the award was great, we actually didn't expect to win and it's very humbling to see the work we started two years ago and where it has gone now.

“Our message has reached a national level and many different organisation have contacted us from the Manchester city council, to the UK national cycling network.

“Many young teens and adults join us on our local rides. It’s all documented on our YouTube channel and promotes cohesion all across the board regardless of colour, race or fitness level. Cycling is for everyone, regardless of background or fitness level. Our ethos is ‘Be simple be you.’

“Our objectives include:  Engaging the community from all backgrounds, promoting health and fitness and encouraging the young generation to be active by walking or cycling rather than spending all their time in front of the TV or computer games.

He said. “We also create videos to show and motivate others to get on their bikes.

“Winning this award gives us encouragement and the support to do more as this is just the beginning.

“We find it quite amazing that what we started two years ago has come to manifest and be recognized all across the UK and internationally.”

Nooralam said: “We have come across many wonderful people on our journeys and we interact with people from different backgrounds regardless of colour or religion.”

Their plan going forward is to work with other communities outside Manchester and cycle to other cities and towns and create a video log on their channel showcasing different cities such as Liverpool, Blackburn and Rochdale.  They plan to interview community members and leaders on their journeys.

Nooralam also won an award for Corporate Achievement of the year for his company Mediawise.co.uk

Source: asianimage.co.uk

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https://www.asianimage.co.uk/news/north_of_england/23497286.2-muslim-night-riders-honoured-community-pioneers-award/

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Crawley Mosque prays for King and country in Coronation celebrations

By Ellis Peters

3rd May 2023

The celebratory campaign is being led by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, one of the oldest established Muslim communities in the UK that built the first purpose-built mosque in London in Southfields, as well as Britain’s biggest mosque - the landmark Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, south London.

The community is also sponsoring posters on London’s iconic buses to drive home a message of goodwill for the Coronation. Buses are running across the capital from May 4 with the message: ‘Congratulations Your Majesty!’ and carry the Coronation logo and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK logo.

Noor Mosques as well as Ahmadiyya Mosques across Britain will be filled with prayers for His Majesty The King. Mosques will also be sharing food, running fun activities for children and making special donations to local food banks as part of The Big Help Out campaign on May 8.

In a special message His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community, expressed his heartfelt and sincere congratulations to the King. His Holiness also noted that in 1902 the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community offered special thanks and prayers on the Coronation of HM King Edward VII.

His Holiness noted that freedom of religion was a hallmark of the British nation as reflected in the reign of HM Queen Victoria. His Holiness noted that this commitment has continued since, including during the reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II. His Holiness welcomed the fact that HM King Charles has also expressed the need for respect for religions.

His Holiness said: “I pray that the occasion of His Majesty’s Coronation proves not only a means of bringing people of different nations together but also a means of fostering a spirit of trust and mutual understanding in society and between nations.

“It is my prayer that may God Almighty through His Grace and Beneficence, keep our honoured King safe and in good health. May his reign be one of peace and prosperity for the world, and may the attributes of justice, tolerance and freedom of belief forever remain the guiding principles of the British Monarchy. Ameen”

Rafiq Hayat, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, said: “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community throughout the UK will mark this historic occasion with public celebrations in mosques and prayers for the wellbeing of the King and country.

“We are delighted to sponsor messages on London buses to celebrate this occasion as a further expression of our loyalty to the country.

“It is an Islamic injunction to be loyal to your nation and the Coronation provides a magnificent occasion to declare our commitment to supporting our King.”

Adeel Shazad, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Crawley based at Noor Mosque said:

“We are sharing the joy of the nation on this historic day and are delighted to express our happiness and gratitude to God. We are inviting our friends and neighbours to join in the celebrations with us and pray that God grants His Majesty King Charles III a long life and that we can continue to live in peace under his reign.”

Ahsan Ahmedi, the External Affairs Secretary of the Ahamdiyya Muslim Community Crawley and the local events organiser, added: “A key principle taught by Islam and exemplified by the Holy Prophet of Islampbuh is always to be loyal to your nation. We do this by engaging our men, women and especially our children to be involved in community engagement programs, raising money for charity and also to be well educated so they in turn contribute to the nation’s economy.

Source: sussexexpress.co.uk

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https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/people/crawley-mosque-prays-for-king-and-country-in-coronation-celebrations-4128704

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Russian ally calls on US to review sanctions policy

3 May, 2023

The US and its EU allies should re-evaluate their treatment of third-party nations with regard to sanctions, Kazakh Ambassador to Washington Yerzhan Ashikbayev said on Tuesday.

America and its allies should treat all countries that comply with their sanctions policies equally and take their interests into account, he stated.

“Kazakhstan remains fully transparent, with our American, European, and UK partners committed to ensuring sanctions compliance and equally not facilitating sanctions evasion,” Ashikbayev said at a Central Asian development conference hosted by the Washington-based Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute.

The US should ensure “equal and unbiased treatment to those countries that comply with sanctions policies, providing a level playing field for all stakeholders,” he suggested, adding that there are many cases that require the “special attention” of not only Western “sanctioning authorities” but also political decision-makers in Washington, London, and Brussels.

The diplomat noted that many regional neighbors have been subjected to a number of restrictions by the West, thereby hampering economic activity in the region.

“A quick look on the political map would reveal that Central Asia is encircled by sanctions-hit jurisdictions, and it is an extremely difficult issue for Central Asians, it is a matter of economic survival,” Ashikbayev said. He called on Western nations to “think of Central Asia and Kazakhstan in particular not only in purely legalistic terms but also understanding the broader context.”

The ambassador also warned that “the future of Central Asia is not in confrontation or affiliation with some of the Great Powers but rather in the synergy of those relations.”

Ashikbayev criticized the US and Western countries for viewing his nation through the lens of other interests in the region, such as the Caspian energy policy or the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.

“It is high time [our partners] addressed this deficiency by developing a realistic Central-Asia-focused regional strategy,” he said. “Our vision in Kazakhstan and Central Asia is to be neither a chessboard nor a field for the Great Power contest but rather a space of cooperation and progress, a space of synergy.”

Astana plans to “pay the utmost attention to the development of constructive, predictable, and friendly relationships with both our immediate neighbors, such as Russia and China, but also with our distant partners, such as the US,” the ambassador said.

Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, a regional union of post-Soviet countries that also includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. The bloc has a customs union and a functioning single market for goods, services, capital, and labor.

The US and its allies in Europe and elsewhere have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia over its military campaign in Ukraine, targeting its banking and financial sectors, as well as other industries. The West has also threatened third-party nations that help Russia evade sanctions with secondary restrictions.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/russia/575750-kazakhstan-us-review-sanctions-policy/

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West cannot stay silent on Kremlin drone attack but won’t admit anything – experts

3 May, 2023

A Ukrainian drone attack on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s working residences in the Kremlin has shaken the status quo in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev, a group of experts told RT following the incident. It could also lead to a dangerous escalation possibly involving the use of nuclear weapons, they warned, adding that Russia is bound to retaliate.

Thomas Roeper, a German author and war correspondent currently residing in St. Petersburg, said he was “quite surprised” to hear of the attack, since it clearly violated “an unofficial agreement not to bomb, not to attack places where the leading politicians are.”

“There is no doubt that Russia will have to retaliate,” said Ralph Niemeyer, the head of the German Opposition Group for German Sovereignty and Constitution. “There will be further escalation, even up to the threat of the use of nuclear [weapons], which I think is still possible,” he added.

A Turkish professor of international law and an expert on terrorism, Mesut Hakki Casin, suggested that an escalation may have been the goal of the people who planned the strike. The forces behind the attack might have sought to put the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine “at the center of European warfare” and potentially even provoke Moscow into launching a tactical nuclear strike, he told RT.

“It’s a very unacceptable and a very, very dirty game,” the Turkish analyst warned. Casin also said Kiev may not have been alone in planning and organizing the strike. “This is an organized international attack,” he said.

Ukraine’s Western backers will not be able to ignore the incident in any case, Niemeyer believes. The German opposition figure still anticipates that the US and its allies will try to downplay the incident and “say it was not the Kiev regime, it was not [President Vladimir] Zelensky’s people,” as they did with the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage.

According to Roeper, the attack could also affect relations between Kiev and Washington if the Ukrainians did not inform their backers about the planned attack in advance.

“Maybe Washington was not informed, and maybe it was. We will see by the reaction. If Washington was not informed, there will be some angry reaction because this is a quite big danger to attack the president of a nuclear power,” the journalist said.

Two drones targeted the Kremlin in an attack in the early hours of Wednesday morning. One exploded over the Senate Palace, which houses the Russian Presidential administration. The second fell in the grounds of the Kremlin, not far from the president’s official primary workplace, the Great Kremlin Palace. Moscow blamed the incident on Ukraine and has reserved the right to retaliate. Kiev denies any responsibility.

Source: rt.com

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India

 

Noise Pollution by Mosque: Bombay High Court Tells Cops to Comply With Norms

By: Express News Service

Mumbai |  May 4, 2023

On Tuesday, the police submitted a report that a distance between the hospital and the mosque is 90 metres and was within the 100 metres criteria for silence zone under Noise Pollution Rules. Thereafter, the bench asked the zonal DCP to remain present in the court.

May 4, 2023

The Bombay High Court Wednesday pulled up Mumbai Police asking them to strictly comply with the laws and past orders regarding noise pollution violation while hearing a plea against use of louspeakers by a mosque during early morning.

A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Sharmila U Deshmukh was hearing a plea by lawyer Reena Richard, resident of Thakur Village, Kandivali (East), who made several complaints to Samta Nagar Police station and had posted live videos on Twitter to show that a mosque is using loudspeakers during early morning hours, despite there being restrictions on use of loudspeaker between 10pm and 6am and the area in question being a silence zone. As per rules, a silence zone is an area comprising not less than 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places or any other area where the decibel level should not exceed 50 decibels in the day time and 40 decibels at night.

Richard submitted that ESIS Hospital was nearby and the area did fall under the silence zone. She submitted that though she again complained to the police station concerned, no action was taken hence she approached the HC.

On Tuesday, the police submitted a report that a distance between the hospital and the mosque is 90 metres and was within the 100 metres criteria for silence zone under Noise Pollution Rules. Thereafter, the bench asked the zonal DCP to remain present in the court.

On Wednesday, the police officer in charge of the said zone submitted before the court that the police had taken suo motu steps to deal with the issue.

After Additional Public Prosecutor Prajakta Shinde told the bench that the said area was not a silence zone, the bench said that it was contrary to the report submitted and the police have to comply with the norms and earlier directions.

The bench said that since there was a hospital within stipulated limited of 100 metres, the authorities were bound to follow the HC directions. “You have to comply with the rules and judgements of this court. They have to be strictly followed and if you do not take action we will issue contempt (proceedings) against you,” the bench said orally.

The bench asked the police to file an affidavit in reply to the plea by June 9.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/noise-pollution-by-mosque-cops-told-to-comply-with-norms-8590445/

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‘Moral policing’ in Karnataka: Muslim youth assaulted for talking to Hindu girl, 4 held

The incident happened at Puttur in the Dakshina Kannada district. When Mohammed Parees was talking to his classmates, the accused called him aside and allegedly assaulted him

May 3, 2023

Karnataka moral policingThe incident occurred around 1 pm when Mohammed Parees, aged 17-18, was at a juice parlour with his female classmates from the government pre-university college in Puttur. (File)

In a suspected moral-policing incident, a Muslim youth was allegedly assaulted by four people for talking to a Hindu girl at Puttur in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district Tuesday. The police have arrested the four assailants.

The incident occurred around 1 pm when Mohammed Parees, aged 17-18, was at a juice parlour with his female classmates from the government pre-university college in Puttur. One of the girls was reportedly from a different faith. While Parees talked to his classmates, the accused called him aside and allegedly assaulted him. Parees was later treated at a hospital and is said to be stable.

Following a complaint, the Puttur town police began an investigation, leading to the arrests. The police identified the four accused as Dinesh Gowda, Prajwal, Nishanth Kumar, and Pradeep. Gowda is an auto-rickshaw driver in the city, while the others are college students. The police charged them under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including unlawful assembly, rioting, kidnapping, and criminal intimidation.

The incident has come at a time when the Karnataka Congress has promised to take “decisive action” against the Hindu right-wing group Bajarang Dal for “spreading hatred amongst communities” if the party is voted to power in the Assembly elections slated for May 10.

In the manifesto released Tuesday by party president Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress, in the section titled Law and Justice, said law and Constitution are “sacrosanct and cannot be violated by individuals and organisations like Bajrang Dal, PFI (Popular Front of India) or others promoting enmity or hatred, whether among majority or minority communities”.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/bangalore/moral-policing-karnataka-muslim-youth-assaulted-talking-hindu-girl-4-held-8589572/

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India keen on strengthening ties with Kingdom in trade, tourism and technology

May 03, 2023

RIYADH: India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan said India’s economic ties with Saudi Arabia “have progressed from being an energy partnership to a diversified commercial collaboration.”

Speaking to Arab News during an interview in Riyadh on Tuesday, the visiting minister said: “Our bilateral trade has witnessed significant growth in the last few years and exceeded $50 billion in the last fiscal year. Both India and Saudi Arabia are vibrant economies having a good growth projection and their trade engagements are bound to multiply in the coming years.”

Bilateral investment exchanges have also multiplied and Saudi direct investments in India are valued at approximately $3 billion. “There are indirect investments of around $5 billion in the Vision Fund where the Public Investment Fund is a major partner. Similarly, Indian investments in the Saudi economy are projected to experience steep growth and have already reached nearly $2 billion.”

He said the two countries “are keen to move the momentum of our economic partnership forward by deepening and diversifying our collaboration in finance, IT, construction and logistics.”

The Indian government is keen to strengthen partnerships with Saudi Arabia in what Muraleedharan described as the 3Ts — “trade, tourism and technology.” The four joint working groups under the Committee on Economy and Investments — Agriculture and Food Security, Energy, Technology and Information Technology, and Industry and Infrastructure — are all closely involved, he said.

India is one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, the minister said. “After manifesting resilience and quick revival, India’s economy surpassed the UK last year, to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. With this growth rate, it is projected to become a $40-trillion economy by 2047 which happens to coincide with the centenary of India’s independence.”

During his visit, the minister met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed A. Elkhereiji, Deputy Minister for International Affairs Dr. Adnan Al-Nuaim, and Deputy Minister for Skills and Training Dr. Ahmed Al-Zahrani.

“During my meeting with Waleed Elkhereiji, I reviewed all aspects of India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relations. All matters pertaining to the Indian community in the Kingdom were reviewed with Saudi officials.”

He said he had a significant interaction with Indian community members in the Kingdom during the course of his visit. “The Indian community members act as a living bridge between India and Saudi Arabia. Their contributions to both countries are both highly commendable and extremely valuable.”

Bilateral relations between the Kingdom and India have gone on for 77 years and have “witnessed unprecedented growth in the last few years.” Driven by the dynamic leaderships in both countries, “India and Saudi Arabia now enjoy a holistic partnership which includes all major areas of cooperation including political, economic, defense and security, cultural, and strong people-to-people ties.”

He underlined the fact that “both countries are closely working together on intra-regional and international platforms which include the GCC and the G20.”

The Strategic Partnership Council agreement was signed in 2019, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia. Ministerial-level meetings of both the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation, and the Committee on Economy and Investments concluded last year in September. “They laid the groundwork for the high-level meeting likely to happen this year itself which will be chaired by Prime Minister Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” the minister said.

Highlighting the robust and burgeoning defense ties, Muraleedharan said: “Our two countries are cooperating in an unprecedented manner. In 2021, we held the first bilateral naval exercise ‘Al-Mohd Al-Hindi.’ The second exercise will be held soon in Saudi Arabia. Several fighter aircrafts of the Indian Air Force made their first-ever landing in Saudi Arabia this year. A number of delegations from both countries are visiting each other. Overall, we have developed a high level of trust and confidence between the defense establishments on both sides. We are also exploring cooperation in newer areas such as space.”

The great changes Saudi Arabia has experienced because of Vision 2030 is noticed particularly by the minister. “Saudi Arabia is going through a massive transformation under the visionary and futuristic leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We are happy that there are a number of opportunities for collaboration in economics, socio-cultural activities, sports, and in the entertainment sector.”

As India hosts the G20 this year, the chosen theme is “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” The country is hosting more than 200 meetings in more than 50 cities across 32 workstreams. These include the meetings of the Finance Track, the Sherpa Track, 13 Working Groups, two Initiatives of the Research Innovation Initiative Gathering (RIIG and G20), along with various engagement groups. “These meetings will bring together ministers, government representatives, civil societies, parliamentarians, think tanks, women, youth, labor, businesses and researchers from all the G20 countries,” he said.

Regarding Operation Kaveri, which was the evacuation of Indian nationals from Sudan, he praised Saudi Arabia. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Saudi leadership and Saudi authorities for their fullest cooperation in Operation Kaveri.”

Last week, on the instruction of India’s prime minister, Muraleedharan traveled to Jeddah to oversee the evacuation process. “I must place my appreciation on record for the excellent support of the Saudi authorities. Saudi Arabia made the evacuation process look easy, which was in fact difficult, in light of the complexities involved. Full credit must go to the Saudi authorities,” he said.

India’s prime minister is personally monitoring Operation Kaveri, he explained. “He is committed to transporting all Indian citizens from Sudan to their Motherland and is making all-out efforts to ensure the safety and security of all Indians stranded in Sudan.”

“So far, we have safely rescued approximately 3,100 Indian nationals from Sudan. Our navy, air force, embassy officials and community volunteers have done — and are doing — a tremendous job in this regard. Indian Ambassador Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan is coordinating the evacuation operations with involved personnel in Jeddah. We may be able to complete the evacuation operation soon,” he added.

India has prioritized the following topics for its G20 presidency:

- Green Development, Climate Finance and Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE)

- Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth

- Accelerating Progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

- Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure

- Multilateral Institutions for the 21st century

- Women-led development

Source: arabnews.com

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NIA Carries Out Raids Across J&K, Detains Two to Probe Conspiracy to 'Commit Terror Acts'

Jehangir Ali

03/MAY/2023

Srinagar: Two suspects, including one woman, were detained in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, May 2, by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in an alleged conspiracy by Pakistan-based outfits to “commit terror acts” and “create communal disharmony” in the union territory, officials said.

Witnesses and locals said that the NIA sleuths, accompanied by local police and CRPF personnel, carried out raids at 12 places in J&K on Tuesday, including in Poonch district where a woman, identified as Shahaz Akhtar, was picked up for questioning from her native Khanetar village, according to reports.

Reports said that the woman was brought to a police station where the NIA sleuths questioned her. It was not immediately known whether she was released or continues to remain in custody. The agency has not issued any statement on the detention.

Last month, one of the worst terror attacks on a moving vehicle of security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir was carried out in Poonch district, which is located along the Line of Control with Pakistan. Five army soldiers lost their lives in the deadly attack while one was critically injured. At least six persons have been arrested in Poonch so far for their alleged involvement in the attack.

During a visit to the district in connection with the ongoing probe in the Bhatta Durian attack, Director General of J&K Police Dilbag Singh said that it was “impossible” for the terrorists to carry out the attack without local support.

Around 200 people have so far been questioned in the case, prompting allegations by former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti that people of Poonch were living under “oppression” in the aftermath of the attack as they were being “arrested, tortured and questioned”.

Meanwhile, an NIA team also swooped down on the double-storied, rundown residence of Mohammad Ramzan Bhat, 65, in Sozieth village, some 14 km from the city centre Lal Chowk in Srinagar, in the wee hours of Tuesday, and detained his son Mohammad Ishaq Bhat. He was later set free.

The raid occurred at around 5:30 am, moments after Dar had returned home after offering morning prayers at a local mosque, catching the entire village off-guard, “I could hear the main gate opening. In no time, nearly a dozen sleuths were outside. One of them knocked on the door,” Ramzan, a farmer, told The Wire.

As Ramzan opened the door, one of the NIA officials pulled out a photo of Ishaq from his pocket, asking Ramzan whether this was his son and his whereabouts, while other officials entered the building. “I told him that he was sleeping and the officer asked me to lead the way to the room,” he said, stressing that the officers were polite throughout the raid.

Ishaq was brought down from the second storey and the agency confiscated his phone along with the mobile devices of all the family members. Barring Ishaq, the devices of all the family members were returned later. “The raid lasted nearly three hours. One officer was continuously penning something on paper. A lady officer was also accompanying them,” Ramzan said.

After searching the house, the NIA sleuths announced that they were detaining Ishaq who was taken to the agency’s local unit in Srinagar’s Church Lane where he was set free on Tuesday afternoon. “There is darkness all around in Kashmir, so I am glad that my son has come back,” Ramzan said, surrounded by nearly a dozen male neighbours who had come to congratulate the family on their son’s release.

“It is really a miracle that he has been released. Otherwise so many Kashmir youth have been arrested and their families came to know about their whereabouts after days or even weeks,” an old man told Ramzan, who nodded in agreement.

Ramzan claimed that the agency didn’t find anything in their house and left empty-handed. “We are a poor family with meagre means. I have four sons but none of them have been involved in stone pelting or militancy. It is because my son was not tainted that he has been returned,” he said.

Source: thewire.in

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https://thewire.in/security/nia-raids-jammu-and-kashmir-pakistan-conspiracy

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YSRCP Muslim leaders meet at party office in Tadepalli

Mr. Amzad Bhasha said that the then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy gave 4% reservation to the Muslim minorities in the State.

May 04, 2023

SAMBASIVA RAO M.

The YSRCP has been giving highest priority to the Muslim community in the State, but the TDP is spreading false propaganda against Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, observed the party general secretary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy.

He along with Deputy Chief Minister Amzad Bhasha, MLC Lella Appireddy and other leaders addressed a meeting with the party Muslim minority leaders at Tadepalli in Guntur district on Wednesday.

He called upon the Muslim leaders to react properly against the criticism of the TDP national president and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Mr. Ramakrishna Reddy said that Mr. Jagan made a Muslim leader as Deputy Chief Minister, gave opportunities as MLAs, MLCs, appointed on the nominated posts. He also said that the YSRCP government was committed to enacting a new law or change the existing one if required.

Mr. Amzad Bhasha said that the then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy gave 4% reservation to the Muslim minorities in the State. He said the TDP was misleading and confusing the Muslim community by spreading false propaganda against the YSRCP, in view of the ensuing general elections. He appealed the Muslim leaders not to believe the comments of the TDP leaders and carefully observe the good that had happened in the last four years.

Source: thehindu.com

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Arab World

 

Global Islamic finance industry to grow by 10% in 2023-2024

May 2, 2023

The global Islamic finance industry is expected to grow by around 10 per cent in 2023-2024, despite the economic slowdown, after posting a similar expansion in 2022 mainly led by the GCC countries, according to S&P Global Ratings report.

The report says the sector continued to expand in 2022, with assets up by 9.4 per cent compared with 12.2 per cent in 2021, supported by growth in banking assets and the sukuk industry.

"Structural weaknesses still curb the industry's broader geographical and market appeal," S&P said.

S&P also said that corporates are likely to contribute to issuance volumes, particularly in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where governments have announced transformation plans.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230502-global-islamic-finance-industry-to-grow-by-10-in-2023-2024/

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Shura Council Speaker Meets with Algerian Foreign Minister

03 May, 2023

The Speaker of the Shura Council, Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh, met with Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad Ahmed Attaf, as part of his visit to the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria.

During the meeting, the Shura Council Speaker praised Algeria's significant development, pointing to the importance of continuing and activating the bilateral meetings, especially the parliamentary cooperation between the Shura Council and the Algerian Parliament.

For his part, the Algerian Foreign Minister welcomed the Speaker of the Shura Council and his accompanying delegation, expressing his aspiration to strengthen relations and cooperation between the two countries. He also stressed the existence of many opportunities to enhance joint work between them in many fields. Attaf added that the parliamentary relations between the Shura Council and the Algerian National and People's Assembly are very important and will contribute to raising the bilateral relations between the two countries to broader levels.

The two sides reviewed several issues of common interest between the two countries and ways to develop and strengthen their relations.

The official delegation accompanying the Speaker of the Shura Council attended the meeting.

Source: alriyadhdaily.com

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

http://alriyadhdaily.com/article/9f151d69560b49a9895fc529407ab57c

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Saudi Arabia reports 176 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

May 03, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reported 176 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 841,196.

The authorities also confirmed one new COVID-19-related death, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,645.

Of the new infections, 51 were recorded in Riyadh, 25 in Jeddah and 10 in Dammam. Several other cities recorded fewer than 10 new cases each.

The ministry also announced that 200 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 827,475.

It said 4,076 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 6,673 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours.

Source: arabnews.com

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297246/saudi-arabia

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Saudi ministry, SAP launch training program to develop national digital capabilities

May 03, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in collaboration with Germany-based technology giant SAP Global launched a specialized training program aimed at qualifying national digital talent through both virtual and in-person journeys.

The program launch in Riyadh on Wednesday was attended by Vice Minister at the Ministry of Communications and Informational Technology Haytham Al-Ohali and a number of company officials and constitutes one of the outcomes of a memorandum of understanding that was signed between the two parties at the global tech conference LEAP. The MoU aims to strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a regional technology hub and the largest digital talent incubator.

Speaking to Arab News after the program launch, Faris Al-Saqabi, deputy minister of future jobs and capabilities at the Ministry of Communications and Informational Technology, said: “As proud as we are of our accomplishment today and this partnership, we are also eager to witness young talents work to be future engineers and realize their ambitious goals that will help shape our country’s journey toward Vision 2030.”

The program, he said, will offer an educational experience “at the intersection of technology, business and the humanities, building multi-dimensional competencies that will enable participants to be future-ready, to contribute to the journey of digital transformation and to become lifelong learners.”

Al-Saqabi added: “During this exceptional experience, participants will acquire both technical skills and soft skills in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analysis, various SAP software technologies, leadership and communication.”

The program will target 55 trainees from Saudi Arabia in basic and emerging technologies, drawing from talent pools in leading national entities such as NEOM, Qiddiya, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Sports, Riyadh Airports, the Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co., the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Solutions by STC and Saudi Entertainment Ventures.

It will feature the participation of a selection of top graduates from the Saudi Digital Academy who are beneficiaries of the Future Skills initiative by the Ministry of Communications and Informational Technology, which offered specialized courses for students to excel in the digital sector as part of the Vision 2030 Human Capability Development Program.

The launch of the new training program with SAP highlights the ministry’s keenness to support and empower persons interested in pursuing a career in digital technology and equip them with the tools, including training in SAP software, to do so.

SAP software involves data analysis, machine learning, AI, metaverse, quantum statistics and application development using SAP HANA, an in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system developed by SAP SE.

The Ministry of Communications and Informational Technology aims to develop digital capabilities in the Kingdom, to invest in the growth of its future projects, and to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and investment in the digital sector, according to Saudi Vision 2030.

Source: arabnews.com

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297096/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Foreign Ministry condemns storming of cultural attache building in Khartoum

May 03, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned Tuesday’s storming of the Saudi cultural attache building in Khartoum by an armed group.

A statement released by the ministry said that the group sabotaged devices and cameras in the building and then seized property and disrupted systems and services.

The ministry expressed the Kingdom’s condemnation of the act in Sudan and called for respect for the sanctity of diplomatic missions. Its statement added that it was holding the attackers responsible for their acts.

Saudi Arabia has renewed the call to halt military escalation in Sudan, end the violence, and provide the necessary protection for diplomats, residents, and Sudanese civilians.

Fighting between Sudan’s army, led by Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, has continued despite the US-brokered 72-hour ceasefire.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Tuesday had a phone call with Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, to discuss attempts to end the violence.

The parties also discussed the importance of preventing the escalation of the conflict and protecting Sudanese civilians.

They also spoke about latest developments in the African continent, in addition to discussing regional and international matters and issues of common interest.

Source: arabnews.com

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2296691/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Shoura Council speaker holds talks with Algerian People’s National Assembly speaker

May 03, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh held talks with the speaker of the Algerian People’s National Assembly, Ibrahim Boughali, in Algiers on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Al-Asheikh highlighted the depth of relations between Saudi Arabia and Algeria and said he looking forward to strengthening and developing them at all levels and in various fields.

He stressed the importance of increasing joint work between the Shoura Council and the People’s National Assembly and increasing the level of coordination between them in parliamentary forums.

He added that meetings and visits between officials of the two councils which would help to strengthen and develop relations between them should be scheduled.

Boughali praised the progress and development experienced by Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He also praised efforts made and constructive roles played by the Kingdom to establish security and stability in the region and the world. Al-Asheikh and Boughali reviewed issues of common interest and parliamentary cooperation between the two assemblies.

Source: arabnews.com

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297031/saudi-arabia

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Tabuk will host first edition of Camel Avenue festival

May 03, 2023

 RIYADH: Preparations are in full swing to launch the first edition of the 10-day Camel Avenue festival in Tabuk, following an agreement between the region and the Camel Club.

Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, governor of the Tabuk region, confirmed that both parties’ capabilities would be harnessed to ensure the success of the festival and further its legacy as a market with the potential to attract opportunities.

Fahd bin Falah bin Hathleen, chairman of the board of directors of the Camel Club, praised Tabuk’s efforts to prepare for the festival and welcome guests and camel owners in the region.

The festival aims to stimulate the economy, develop the sector and raise the value of camels.

Source: arabnews.com

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2296851/saudi-arabia

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Islamic Affairs Ministry Inaugurates Holy Quran Exhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil

03 May, 2023

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, represented by the General Secretariat of Exhibitions and Conferences, has inaugurated the "Holy Quran Exhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil" in cooperation with the Centre for Islamic Call for Latin America and the Caribbean. The eight-day exhibition is being held in the vicinity of the Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq Mosque.

Acting Deputy Director of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Islamic Cultural Centre in Argentina Ayed bin Hassan Al-Rabie attended the inauguration ceremony.

Guests toured the exhibition and had the opportunity to see a wide variety of versions of the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran in Madinah, and 77 issuances of interpretations of the meanings of the Holy Quran. They could also see electronic applications, such as the 3D virtual Hajj and Umrah application, and visit the Holy Mosques via virtual reality technology.

Source:

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

http://alriyadhdaily.com/article/6fe24cdd941f438bab4dd4acd807ca7c

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Pakistan

 

FM Bilawal consults PDM, JI leaders ahead of India visit

May 04, 2023

Ahead of his first-ever India visit, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday took into confidence heads of multiple political parties — including coalition partners and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) chief — via telephonic conversations.

Bilawal is set to leave for India later today to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting scheduled to be held in Goa, India between May 4 and 5.

The foreign minister telephoned Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Ameer Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Sirajul Haq and National Party (NP) leader Tahir Bizenjo.

He consulted with them over his two-day Goa visit.

SCO meeting

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, the FM will attend the SCO moot at the invitation of the current chair, Minister for External Affairs of India Dr S Jaishankar.

"Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan's commitment to the SCO charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities," the FO spokesperson said.

Sources in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that the foreign minister — accompanied by a delegation — will depart for Goa from Karachi via a chartered flight.

The sources privy to the development said that the Indian civil aviation authorities contacted the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCCA) and finalised the route for the special plane.

In addition to deliberating upon important regional and international issues and signing some of the institutional documents, the council will finalise the agenda and decisions to be adopted by the 17th SCO Council of Heads of State Meeting scheduled to take place in New Delhi on July 3-4 2023.

The meeting will also witness the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with five countries namely Bahrain, Kuwait Maldives, Myanmar and UAE to become Dialogue Partners of SCO.

On the sidelines of the SCO, FM Bilawal will also meet his counterparts from friendly countries.

Besides Pakistan, SCO member states include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and India.

SCO's major objectives include promoting mutual confidence and good, neighbourly relations among member states, strengthening regional peace, security, and stability, and creating a framework for effective cooperation in the fields of politics, trade and economy, culture, science and technology, education, energy, transportation, tourism, and environmental protection, etc.

Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively and constructively contributing to all SCO activities to realise its multi-sectoral aims and objectives in a mutually beneficial manner.

No bilateral meeting with Indian leaders

Last week, FM Bilawal dismissed speculations surrounding his India visit and clarified that it should not be "misconstrued in terms of bilateral ties" between the two neighbouring countries.

Bilawal, while speaking to Geo News, said that he did not make any request for arranging a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We are committed to the SCO charter and this visit should not be seen as a bilateral one but in the context of SCO. Our participation at the meeting reflects Pakistan’s continued commitment to the SCO charter and process and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities," Bilawal was quoted as saying.

He had said that they cannot let India further isolate Pakistan.

It will be the first visit to India by a top Pakistani official since then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif attended Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in in 2014.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1066901-fm-bilawal-consults-pdm-ji-leaders-ahead-of-india-visit

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Chinese FM to visit Islamabad for Pakistan-China strategic dialogue

May 03, 2023

The Foreign Office said Wednesday that Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang would pay a two-day official visit to Islamabad from Friday (May 5) at the invitation of his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to hold strategic dialogue.

According to the Foreign Office spokesperson, this would be the Chinese foreign minister’s first official visit to Pakistan since assuming office.

FM Bilawal and his Chinese counterpart will co-chair the 4th round of the Pakistan-China Strategic Dialogue.

The strategic dialogue is a structured mechanism that reviews bilateral cooperation in key areas.

The two sides will reaffirm the abiding vitality of the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership; develop a roadmap for multidimensional cooperation between Pakistan and China; and discuss the evolving regional and global landscape.

The 3rd round of the Pakistan-China Strategic Dialogue took place in July 2021 in Chengdu, China.

On Tuesday, the Chinese foreign ministry announced that Foreign Minister Qin Gang will visit India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers’ meeting to be held on May 4 and 5 in Panaji, the capital of Goa.

At the meeting, Qin Gang will exchange views with other SCO member state foreign ministers on the international and regional situation and SCO cooperation in various fields, among other topics, to make full preparation for this year’s SCO summit, the statement added.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1066715-chinese-fm-to-visit-islamabad-for-pakistan-china-strategic-dialogue

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PM Shehbaz touches down in UK to attend King Charles' coronation ceremony

May 03, 2023

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday landed in United Kingdom's capital London for representing Pakistan at the much-awaited coronation ceremony of King Charles III.

Some 2,000 guests, including global royalty and world leaders, will be at Saturday's event in central London, with huge crowds lining the route to and from Buckingham Palace.

More than 29,000 police officers will take part in one of the UK's "most significant" ever security operations for the coronation of King Charles.

Before departing for the visit, the prime minister said he was en route to the Kingdom whose leaders have been "great friends of Pakistan".

"The UK-Pakistan relations are rooted in shared history & multifaceted bonds that have grown stronger over the decades," the prime minister in a tweet.

"I will also use the opportunity to attend the Commonwealth leaders' summit as well as engage with other world leaders bilaterally," the prime minister said.

Geo News reported that the prime minister is expected to return on Monday, while he is also scheduled to meet Nawaz Sharif, who is his elder brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's supremo.

Thousands of ceremonial troops will take part in a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey as part of the coronation.

Dress rehearsals took place overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday.

The security operation to protect the route to and from the abbey — dubbed Operation Golden Orb — will include rooftop snipers and undercover officers, as well as airport-style scanners, sniffer dogs, and a no-fly zone over central London.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will call on "all persons of goodwill in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the other realms and the territories to make their homage, in heart and voice, to their undoubted king, defender of all".

The order of service will read: "All who so desire, in the abbey, and elsewhere, say together: I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God."

British parliamentarians, but also Canadians since the British sovereign is their head of state, already swear allegiance to the monarch when they take office.

Source: thenews.com.pk

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

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1066705-pm-shehbaz-touches-down-in-uk-to-attend-king-charles-coronation-ceremony

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Minister Talha rejects free, VIP Hajj

May 4, 2023

Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Senator Talha Mehmood has unequivocally made it clear that there will be no free or VIP Hajj for anyone, as all pilgrims will be required to stay with common Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, regardless of their status or position in society.

In response to a point of order raised by Ms. Shagufta Jumani, the Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Senator Talha Mehmood, emphasized that the government would not be providing free Hajj to any individuals. The ministry had to surrender a quota of 7,000 to 8,000 pilgrims as it required a payment of 24 million dollars to Saudi Arabia. However, he offered to accommodate 200 to 400 intending pilgrims who were willing to pay their dues.

He further explained that he had acquired a building at a cheaper rate of 1,700 riyals as compared to the Hajj 2019 rate of 2,600 riyals. The minister also revealed that he personally visited Saudi Arabia on his own expense.—INP

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/minister-talha-rejects-free-vip-hajj/

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North America

 

In ‘Operation Ezra,’ Canadian Jews Helped Yazidis Fleeing Islamic State Persecution

BY AVI KUMAR

(May 3, 2023 / JNS) Ayad Alhussein, 13 years old at the time, was reunited last November with family in Winnipeg. The boy had escaped five years of captivity by the Islamic State after he and his family were captured in Iraq. Three more years followed before he was granted entry to Canada.

The family is Yazidi, a religious minority. The boy’s sisters in Winnipeg had thought that he was dead, and their reunion was bittersweet, CBC reported, as they didn’t know if their parents or four other siblings were alive.

“We are in the process of integrating him into the community,” Jamileh Naso, president of the Canadian Yazidi Association, told JNS in March. “Given the mental and psychological trauma he has been through, he is doing OK.”

The role that Canadian Jews have played at the forefront of saving Yazidis fleeing Iraq and helping them reunite with family in Canada remains relatively unknown. In March 2015, Winnipeg Jews launched “Operation Ezra” to raise awareness about Yazidi suffering in the Middle East, and to sponsor a Yazidi refugee family coming to Winnipeg, according to the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg website.

Michel Aziza, who began chairing the operation from its get-go, told JNS that most people knew nothing about Yazidi culture or people until the August 2014 Sinjar Tragedy, when the Islamic State took over the region, killing thousands of Yazidi men and taking the women captive.

“Operation Ezra” is named after “Operation Ezra and Nehemiah” which brought Jews fleeing Iraq in the 1950s, to Israel.

There used to be about 700,000 Yazidis living in Iraq, with smaller pockets in Syria and Turkey. Today, they are dispersed globally, with many living in the West.

‘We knocked on many doors’

Jamileh Naso’s sister Nafiya, who moved to Winnipeg as a child in the 1990s, reached out to fellow Winnipeg Jews asking for help in August 2014. At the time, Nafiya told JNS, the family was receiving calls from family, friends and community members in Iraq begging for assistance.

“There were around 180 Yazidis in Winnipeg at the time, and we decided that we can’t sit still and had to take action,” she said. “So we knocked on many doors and found the Jewish community.”

Soon, four Jews were phone banking, trying to reach organizations seeking their help raising money to sponsor a Yazidi refugee family. Within a few weeks, they raised twice the amount they needed.

“Jews have been persecuted for centuries, and they showed a lot of solidarity and compassion as they were able to relate to us,” said Jamileh.

By 2018, “Operation Ezra” encompassed some 40 entities, including synagogues, churches, schools, social-service agencies and businesses. Most of those involved were volunteers.

The name came from Belle Jarniewski, the president of the Manitoba Multifaith Council told JNS. It combines the Hebrew name Ezra, which means help, and reference to Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, in which more than 120,000 Iraqi Jews were airlifted to Israel between 1951 and 1952.

“Jews and Yazidis were once neighbors in Iraq, and 60 years after Jews left, the Yazidis also had to flee due to persecution,” said Aziza.

Yazidis were persecuted long before ISIS came along, according to Jamileh Naso. “Being caught in the tug of war between Sunnis, Shias and other groups, we never feel safe in our homeland,” she said.

After raising more than $1 million, the operation was able to sponsor more Yazidis and bring them to Canada. With only so much that the private sector can do, there was a need to lobby the government, according to Aziza.

Yazidis are a predominantly Kurdish-speaking ethno-religious group whose traditional homeland in the Sinjar Mountains is rumored to be the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. Religious extremists consider their beliefs—rooted in ancient, Indo-Iranian ethnic religion—to be akin to devil worship.

Most Yazidi practices are passed down through oral tradition, and they don’t accept converts or allow intermarriage. They pray in homes or rented spaces in Canada. “As the community grows, we may build our own place of worship one day,” Jamileh said.

About 500 Yazidis live in Winnipeg, of an estimated 2,000 in Canada, many of whom arrived thanks to “Operation Ezra,” according to Jamileh. “There are still many Yazidis who have not yet been united with their loved ones,” she said, “and we will continue to do what we can to help others to reunite.”

Source: jns.org

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

https://www.jns.org/in-operation-ezra-canadian-jews-helped-yazidis-fleeing-islamic-state-persecution/

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CAIR demands terror watchlists be shut down after Muslim mayor is uninvited from White House Ramadan event

CARLOS GARCIA

May 03, 2023

The Council on American Islamic Relations is demanding that the federal government shut down all terror watch lists after a Muslim mayor from New Jersey was uninvited to a White House reception for a Muslim holiday.

It's also demanding an apology.

Mohamed Khairullah has been the mayor from Prospect Park, New Jersey, since 2005.

“What are we going to do about the targeting of Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, by federal agencies that are basically not telling us why we are being harassed at airports, border crossings and now for me to be denied entry into the People’s House is baffling,” Khairullah said.

Khairullah says that the Secret Service would not clear him for entry into the White House, and he was told to return home. He says that he has been previously harassed at airports.

He is accusing the Secret Service of racially profiling him, saying, “There’s no doubt in my mind that at this point, my crime is my race, my religion and my name.”

Khairullah says neither the White House nor the Secret Service has explained why he wasn't allowed into the event.

The Secret Service would only confirm in a brief statement that he was turned away but offered no additional information.

“While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, the mayor was not allowed to enter the White House complex this evening,” said a spokesperson for the USSS. “Unfortunately we are not able to comment further on the specific protective means and methods used to conduct our security operations at the White House.”

When asked about the incident, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a media briefing Tuesday that she would bring it up with the Secret Service but went on to applaud the administration for meeting with 400 other Muslims.

"The President was very proud to welcome nearly 400 Muslim Americans to the White House to celebrate Eid yesterday,” Jean-Pierre said. “It was a meaningful event, an opportunity to celebrate along Muslim leaders from across the country who were here.”

Selaedin Maksut, the executive director for the CAIR branch in New Jersey, called on President Joe Biden to meet with Khairullah and apologize to him.

“We are asking that the White House take this as an opportunity to, once and for all, to disband the watchlist — to no longer have government agencies use this discriminatory list in their vetting — or in their spying — of American citizens,” Maksut said.

Source: theblaze.com

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

https://www.theblaze.com/news/cair-muslim-mayor-biden-disinvited

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CAIR Joins Call by 51 Human Rights Groups for Release of American Muslim Scholar from Egyptian Prison, Calls on State Dept. to Demand Release

May 3, 2023

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/3/2023) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today joined 51 human rights organizations in calling for the release Salah Soltan, an Egyptian-American Islamic scholar imprisoned since 2017, and encouraged the State Department to take action to ensure his freedom.  

Soltan, a former professor of Islamic Law at Cairo University and founder of the Islamic American University in Michigan, was arrested in Egypt in 2013 on charges related to his opposition to Egypt’s military coup. In 2017, a court sentenced him to life in prison in a mass trial widely regarded as unfair and lacking in due process. Soltan suffers from life-threatening health issues including heart and liver diseases and has reportedly endured torture and other forms of ill treatment from Egyptian authorities.  

The organizations calling for Soltan’s release, which include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other major international advocacy groups, believe he was arrested in retaliation for the human rights advocacy work of his son, Mohamed Soltan. 

SEE: Human rights organizations urge Cairo to release ‘arbitrarily detained’ Islamic Law scholar

https://www.jurist.org/news/2023/05/human-rights-organizations-urge-cairo-to-release-arbitrarily-detained-islamic-law-scholar/ 

Egypt: Detained Academic at Risk of Death

https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/05/03/egypt-detained-academic-risk-death

“We call on the State Department to demand that the Egyptian government end its unjust imprisonment of Salah Soltan and all of the journalists, political activists, religious scholars, and others imprisoned without due process of law,” said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “Our nation should not send a single dollar in military aid to the Egyptian government while it unjustly imprisons thousands of people, including an American citizen.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.             

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

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook        

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Do you like reading CAIR press releases and taking part in our action alerts? You can help contribute to CAIR’s work of defending civil rights and empowering American Muslims across the country by making a one-time contribution or becoming a monthly donor. Supporters like you make CAIR’s advocacy work possible and defeating Islamophobia an achievable goal. Click here to

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If you would like to join CAIR’s media list, please sign up here: https://action.cair.com/a/newsletters — For more information, email: info@cair.com, CC ihooper@cair.com  

Source: cair.com

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

https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-joins-call-by-51-human-rights-groups-for-release-of-american-muslim-scholar-from-egyptian-prison-calls-on-state-dept-to-demand-release/

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CAIR Files Suit Against Dept. of State Over Denial of Religious Accommodation for Muslim Employee

Ismail Allison

May 3, 2023

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/3/2023) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today filed a lawsuit against the Department of State for its refusal to provide religious accommodations to a Muslim employee.  

Devin Brooks, a Muslim man, keeps a well-maintained beard, as his sincerely-held religious beliefs require. Brooks was hired as an Armed Uniformed Protection Officer with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security by the State Department through Inter-Con, a security services company. He accepted the position after being told his beard would not be an issue.  

SEE: COMPLAINT 

When in mandatory training for his new position, Brooks was told that he would be sent home if he did not shave his beard. Forced to choose between his faith and his job, Brooks made the painful decision to shave. He then asked for permission to maintain a beard the length of which would be determined by holding it with his fist, a traditional length supported by many Islamic scholars.  

The State Department denied Brooks’ request, citing safety concerns, and later ended Brooks’ employment, forcing him to find another job. He currently works in a similar security position at another federal agency while maintaining a beard without issue. 

The Department of State’s failure to accommodate Brooks’ reasonable accommodation request violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  

“The Department of State’s so-called safety concerns are not an undue hardship,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Zanah Ghalawanji. “A fist-length beard doesn’t pose a safety problem, and we look forward to proving that in court.” 

“Nobody should be forced to choose between their faith and their job,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Hannah Mullen. “The Department of State could have easily accommodated Mr. Brooks. Bureaucracy and a lack of respect for religion are not defenses to Title VII and RFRA.” 

Washington, D.C.-based CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” to help employers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.      

CAIR: An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices      

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.                   

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

END  

Source: cair.com

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

https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-files-suit-against-dept-of-state-over-denial-of-religious-accommodation-for-muslim-employee/

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CAIR Community Alert: Join 8th National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in D.C. on June 12-13 to Call for Establishing Muslim Heritage Month, Combating Global Islamophobia and Watchlist Oversight

Ismail Allison

May 3, 2023

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/3/23) – On Monday, June 12, and Tuesday, June 13, Muslims from across the country will take part in the 8th annual National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. This year, advocacy days participants will focus their lobbying efforts on: 

Hosted by the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of leading national and local Muslim organizations, the advocacy days are expected to draw hundreds of Muslim delegates from across the nation. This two-day event is designed to connect national, regional, and state Muslim organizations and community members with their elected representatives in Congress. 

[NOTE: Last year, more than 300 delegates from 20 states met with more than 200 elected officials and congressional staffers during the seventh annual National Muslim Advocacy Day.]   

USCMO is encouraging participants to register at least one month before the event, and no later than Sunday, June 4.     

All representatives for national, state and local Muslim organizations and communities are encouraged to register for this two-day advocacy event. Muslim delegates and activists will meet with congressional offices to discuss the most pressing issues impacting American Muslims in today’s political climate.     

Past participants have posted photos and commentary about National Muslim Advocacy Day on social media using the hashtag #MuslimHillDay.      

Among the issues being advocated for, USCMO advocacy day delegates will be calling on Congress to reintroduce Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jan Schakowsky and Senator Corey Booker’s (D-NJ) Combating International Islamophobia Act legislation to address the rise in incidents of Islamophobia worldwide.      

Advocates will also be supporting the reintroduction of a resolution recognizing July as “Muslim-American Heritage Month” and celebrating the heritage and culture of Muslim Americans in the United States.    

For anyone who would like additional advocacy techniques and a more in-depth rundown on the advocacy day’s focused issues, there will be a series of online training seminars for those registered before the event. USCMO will also provide a day-of-event training at Congress for all participating Muslim community members.     

For more information about the event or how your Muslim organization or community can participate, please contact the USCMO at: advocacy@uscmo.org.      

You can also find more information on the history of the event and view videos from previous years here.    

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.             

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

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook        

http://www.facebook.com/CAIRNational           

Subscribe to CAIR’s Email List        

https://action.cair.com/a/newsletters 

Subscribe to CAIR’s Twitter Feed        

http://twitter.com/cairnational          

Subscribe to CAIR’s YouTube Channel        

http://www.youtube.com/cairtv          

Follow CAIR on Instagram        

https://www.instagram.com/cair_national 

Donate to CAIR        

https://action.cair.com/a/donate  

Do you like reading CAIR press releases and taking part in our action alerts? You can help contribute to CAIR’s work of defending civil rights and empowering American Muslims across the country by making a one-time contribution or becoming a monthly donor. Supporters like you make CAIR’s advocacy work possible and defeating Islamophobia an achievable goal. Click here to donate to CAIR.

If you would like to join CAIR’s media list, please sign up here: https://action.cair.com/a/newsletters — For more information, email: info@cair.com, CC ihooper@cair.com  

END  

Source: cair.com

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

https://www.cair.com/press_releases/cair-community-alert-join-8th-national-muslim-advocacy-day-on-capitol-hill-in-d-c-on-june-12-13-to-call-for-establishing-muslim-heritage-month-combating-global-islamophobia-and-watchlist-oversight/

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Islamic Development Bank Institute Organizes its 17th Global Forum with Focus on Disruptive Solutions for Economic Resilience

03-05-23

JEDDAH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, May 3, 2023/APO Group/ -- The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Institute (www.IsDBInstitute.org) is organizing the 17th IsDB Global Forum on Islamic Finance with a special focus on leveraging disruptive technologies to build an inclusive and resilient future.

Under the theme ‘Disruptive Solutions for a Resilient Economy’, the forum will be held on 12 May 2023 in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in conjunction with the 48th Annual Meetings of the IsDB Group.

H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, the Chairman of the IsDB Group, will deliver the keynote speech, while former IsDB President H.E. Dr. Ahmad Ali will speak on the launch of the book, ‘The Islamic Development Bank and Dr. Ahmad Mohammad Ali: History of an Institution and Journey of a President’.

The book documents the evolution and exceptional achievements of the Islamic Development Bank under the leadership of Dr. Ahmad Ali over a period of four decades, from its establishment in 1975 until his retirement in 2016.

This year’s Forum will also feature the launching of a report titled ‘Islamic Financial Services Industry Development Ten-Year Framework and Strategies: A Final Review’. The report is a joint initiative of the IsDB Institute and Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB).

Two panel sessions will be held on formulating proper policies to guide the application of new financial technologies to reduce poverty and achieve shared prosperity.

The first panel will present the current and future applications of digital vouchers, and explore potential partnership opportunities to help create a more financially inclusive community.

Speakers in this panel are Dr. Mohamad Hammour, Chairman and MD of Guidance Financial Group (https://apo-opa.info/3LMMJJf), and Member of the Institute’s Board of Trustees; Mr. Rami Alkarmi, Founder, Abnewnormal ai Venture Studio (https://apo-opa.info/3VvJCJa), and Member of the Board of Trustees; and Dr. Peter D. Holden, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Beyond Limits Inc (https://apo-opa.info/44pY3SL).

The second panel will introduce and discuss the Sukuk Enhancement Fund as a product that aims to support the Islamic finance ecosystems in IsDB member countries. The panelists are Dr. Suminto Sastrosuwito, Director General of Budget Financing and Risk Management, Ministry of Finance, Indonesia (https://apo-opa.info/3Hw5uhK); Mr. Ijlal Ahmed Alvi, CEO, International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM) (https://apo-opa.info/3HCDw3L); and Ms. Sabeen Saleem, CEO, Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) (https://apo-opa.info/3LMSwyt).

The forum is being co-organized with three knowledge partners, namely King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (https://apo-opa.info/44j8ibL), Effat University (https://apo-opa.info/42mGn8Q), and University of Business and Technology (UBT) (https://apo-opa.info/3NAzflo), Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The full program is available here (https://apo-opa.info/3VrGHkm).

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI).

Source: africa-newsroom.com

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https://www.africa-newsroom.com/press/islamic-development-bank-institute-organizes-its-17th-global-forum-with-focus-on-disruptive-solutions-for-economic-resilience?lang=en

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Mideast

 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad:Round of Confrontation with Enemy Has Ended, but March of Resistance Continues

[03/May/2023]

GAZA May 03. 2023 (Saba) - Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesperson Tariq Selmi on Wednesday affirmed that a round of confrontation with the Zionist enemy has ended, but the march of resistance continues and will not stop, and it has proven its commitment to defending the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Shehab News Agency quoted Salmi in a press statement as saying "Our brave fighters have proven their loyalty and commitment to defending their people, and al-Quds Brigades and the valiant resistance excelled in their response to the assassination of Sheikh Khader Adnan, who wrote an unparalleled epic heroism."

He added a round of confrontation has ended, but the march of resistance continues and will not stop, and little by little the dawn of freedom and victory is approaching, God willing.

He continued "Sheikh Khader Adnan will remain a symbol of the free, resistant approach that refuses subservience and surrender, and his name will remain a flag for all those who walk the path of freedom."

He said "We promise our people and our nation that our path will not lead us astray, and we promise our martyrs, prisoners and wounded that their life and journey will remain a trust that we carry and that we will not neglect and that we will continue to work for the sake of the prisoners and their freedom."

Selmi concluded his statement as saying "Greetings to al-Quds Brigades, our resistance, and the joint room, which presented a model in unity of stance and response to the enemy's crime."

Source: saba.ye

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https://www.saba.ye/en/news3237886.htm

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Chairman of the Knesset NSC: We Are Being Held Captive By Hamas and Islamic Jihad

May 4, 2023

MK Tzvika Foghel (Otzma Yehudit), chairman of the Knesset National Security Committee, on Wednesday escalated the attack against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and claimed that Netanyahu does not have the courage “to instruct the IDF to win”, as he put it.

Speaking on Reshet Bet radio, Foghel said that the members of his party "give up too much and don't take initiative. We tried to change the policy and we didn't succeed. We have reached our limits. We won't vote against the government, but we will not vote with it either. I believe we can change the policy."

Asked whether the crisis between the chairman of his party, Itamar Ben Gvir, and Netanyahu will lead to the toppling of the government, Foghel responded, "As of this moment, I will not do anything to topple the government, but I will not vote automatically with it.We are the ideological backbone of the coalition and we are unable to influence and promote the vision we came with - the Prime Minister is preventing us from doing so."

"An entire country is being held under threat here, we are captives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We continue not to take the steps that are supposed to lead to the deterrence and defeat of Hamas. Netanyahu does not have the courage to instruct the IDF to win," Foghel said.

The interview came after the Otzma Yehudit Party announced it had decided not to take part in Knesset votes scheduled for Wednesday, in protest of what it deemed the government's "weak response" to a spate of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The party announced that it will hold a special faction meeting in the city of Sderot, near the Gaza frontier, following "the weak response in Gaza last night."

MK Almog Cohen from the party said he will open a parliamentary office in Sderot.

"The weak response of the IDF certainly invites the next round [of fighting] that will continue to harm the lives of our children and the normal way of life of the residents of the Gaza frontier and the south as a whole," said Cohen.

Source: israelnationalnews.com

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https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/370921

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UN states urged to support call for International Court of Justice opinion on Israeli occupation

 May 04, 2023

NEW YORK CITY: The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People met on Wednesday to discuss a UN request for the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory legal opinion on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The request was prompted by a letter from the Palestinian government to the General Assembly.

Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s ambassador to the UN, said the Palestinian government wants the court’s opinion on the “prolonged military occupation,” the annexation of Palestinian territories, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and the denial of the right of Palestinians to self-determination, all of which are considered illegal under international law.

The petition to the court also addresses the issue of separate and discriminatory policies, laws and road systems for Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, he added.

Representatives of Indonesia, Lebanon, Egypt, South Africa and Namibia expressed strong support for Palestinian rights and said their countries will make submissions to the court in support of the Palestinian position.

The committee, which is chaired by Ambassador Cheikh Niang, Senegal’s permanent representative to the UN, also discussed recognition of the Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” the word Palestinians use to refer to their forced expulsion from their land in 1948 when the state of Israel was founded.

A number of speakers reaffirmed the support of their countries for the Palestinian people and their right to a free and independent state. Ahmad Faisal Mohammed, the permanent representative of Malaysia to the UN, was elected vice chair of the committee during the meeting.

“Malaysia has the honor to accept the post of the vice chair of this committee in recognition of Malaysia’s long standing support and contribution to the Palestinian cause,” he said.

Palestinians have long suffered “hardship” and “agony” in the pursuit of their inalienable right to have their own independent state, the achievement of which is long overdue, he added, and affirmed his country’s support for a “two-state” solution that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel occupied the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and other Arab territories during the 1967 war. In 1994, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israeli authorities signed the Oslo Agreement, which called for a two-state solution to the conflict between Arabs and Israelis.

Almost 30 years later, Israel has instead become more entrenched in its occupation of the West Bank by building more Jewish settlements, considered illegal under international law, which makes a two-state solution much harder to achieve.

Mansour said during the committee meeting that the recently formed Israeli government, considered the most extreme and right-wing in the history of the state, includes a “convicted terrorist,” a reference to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted by an Israeli court in 2008 of supporting terrorism and racism.

Israel continues to mount relentless attacks on the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories, Mansour said, as was especially evident during Ramadan, when Israeli forces “desecrated” Muslim and Christian holy sites.

He also highlighted the case of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, who died in an Israeli jail on Tuesday after an 87-day hunger strike in protest against his administrative detention without charge. Palestinians have accused Israeli prison authorities of murder for allowing his condition to deteriorate to such a degree that he died in his cell.

Mansour said the Palestinian mission at the UN has sent an extensive letter to the UN Secretariat detailing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, including the death of Adnan.

Niang, the chair of the committee, said it was important “for all of us to make submissions to the” International Court of Justice. It is “our moral duty for us to do that; if we don’t do it, who else will,” he added.

He said that the request to the court is an important legal strategy through which Palestinians might achieve a measure of success in challenging the Israeli occupation.

“This is a very important milestone for the Palestinian cause and we should not miss it. We are counting on all of us to do it,” he said.

The deadline for states to make submissions to the court on the issue is July 25.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297311/middle-east

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KANS to Honor Young Researchers of Islamic World in 3rd Scientific Competition

May, 03, 2023

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Six young researchers from the Islamic world will be honored during the 2023 KANS (Knowledge Application and Notion for Society) Scientific Competition closing ceremony, the head of the 3rd KANS Scientific Competition, Saeid Sohrabpour, said.

Speaking at the press conference of the 2023 KANS Scientific Competition for researchers and scientists under 45 years of age, Sohrabpour elaborated on the details of this round of the competition.

He first pointed to the different activities of the Mustafa Science and Technology Foundation (MSTF), which includes the Mustafa (PBUH) Prize, STEP (Science and Technology Exchange Program), KANS, and Noor.

"Most of the Muslim scientists have great effective collaborations with those in Western countries. The Mustafa (PBUH) Science and Technology Foundation aims to foster collaborations among the scientists inside the Islamic countries," Sohrabpour explained.

In this round of the KANS scientific competition, a new section is added, titled "The Future Scientist," devoted to researchers under the age of 30. Sohrabpour pointed out, "One individual is selected to receive the award for this section." The winner of "The Future Scientist" section in this round of KANS is from Azerbaijan. "The participants had to send 3-5 minute videos. The judges were university professors from around the country," he noted.

According to Sohrabpour, among the received works, 20 works from 12 countries reached the final stage. In the final stage, 6 winners were selected.

"The final judgment of these works was carried out online in April 2023 with the virtual presence of the participants," he added. "The usefulness of the participants' ideas is of great importance in this competition," he emphasized.

The 3rd KANS Scientific Competition ceremony will be held on May 9-12 concurrently with International Innovation and Technology Exhibition (INOTEX) 2023 in Pardis Technology Park. Gholam Hossein Halvaei, Head of scientific and technological cooperation development at the MSTF, gave a speech during the press conference, pointing to other details about the event.

He briefly talked about the selection process, stating that 3 rounds of judgment were held. "We had 100 judges during the process," he said. "In the second round of KANS competition," he pointed out, "we started to contact different organizations. These organizations present some challenges and problems. The KANS winners are linked to them so that their ideas may solve those challenges in real-life. In the 3rd round of KANS scientific competition, we received 78 challenges from 16 pavilions," he said.

During the press conference, Halvaei revealed the geographical diversity of the six winners of the competition in various categories. The winner in the "food and agriculture industries" category hailed from Qatar, while "electricity, electronics and robotics" and "health and medical equipment" categories were won by candidates from Iran. The "information and communication technology and artificial intelligence" and "mining and mining industries" categories were won by contestants from Malaysia. Halvaei also mentioned that the winners will present their works on the final day of the KANS Scientific Competition ceremony, which will take place from morning to afternoon.

The awarding ceremony of the 3rd round of KANS Scientific Competition will be held on the sidelines of the International Innovation and Technology Exhibition (INOTEX 2023) from May 9 to 12 at Tehran's Pardis Technology Park.

KANS scientific competition is held biannually for researchers and scientists under 45 years of age.

Source: tasnimnews.com

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https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2023/05/03/2889133/kans-to-honor-young-researchers-of-islamic-world-in-3rd-scientific-competition

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Palestinian UN envoy lauds Islamic Jihad member who died on hunger strike

04-05-23

NEW YORK — The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations told a UN panel on Wednesday that the senior Islamic Jihad member who died while hunger striking in an Israeli prison on Tuesday was a “hero prisoner.”

Speaking at a meeting focused on Palestinian rights, Riyad Mansour accused Israeli authorities of failing to provide proper medical care to Khader Adnan, a day after he was found dead in his cell following an 86-day hunger strike. The death set off a round of fighting between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

“We are satisfied that the [secretary general] and the UN were alarmed about the fate of Adnan Khader, the hero prisoner who lost his life after 44 years of his life,” Mansour said.

“I believe that the UN is seeking some kind of credible investigation as to why his life was taken away from him through negligence from the Israeli occupying authorities, negligence in health care, not addressing the needs of prisoners,” he added.

Adnan had refused any medical care, the Israel Prisons Service said. The Physicians for Human Rights group said it had examined Adnan shortly before his death, and warned Israeli authorities that he was in critical condition, but said those warnings “fell on deaf ears.”

Adnan was accused of being a spokesperson and senior leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed group designated as a terror organization by the US, EU, Israel and other countries.

Though Adnan had been charged with terror offenses and was awaiting trial, Mansour falsely claimed that he was being held in administrative detention, a controversial practice in which detainees suspected of terror offenses are held without charge or trial.

“There has been a massive onslaught against our prisoners,” Mansour said. “He was among the hundreds who have been spending a long period of time under administrative detention.”

Adnan had been held under administrative detention in the past and a 2015 hunger strike he launched while in custody had helped bring international attention to Israeli use of the measure.

Mansour also decried airstrikes Israel carried out against Gaza terrorists overnight in response to dozens of rockets fired into Israel, without mentioning the rocket attacks.

“Yesterday there was a night of hell against our people in the Gaza Strip in which there was aggression by the Israeli army and their aircraft,” he said during a meeting of the UN Committee on Palestinian rights at UN Headquarters in New York.

Mansour thanked Egypt for mediating a ceasefire between the sides, without mentioning Qatar, which was also reportedly involved in brokering the truce, along with the UN.

A UN spokesperson said Wednesday that the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, was actively engaged “with all concerned parties, including the Palestinian Authority.”

Two UN special rapporteurs, independent investigators for the UN, also linked Adnan’s death to administrative detention in a Wednesday statement calling Israeli policies “cruel” and “inhumane.”

Francesca Albanese, a special rapporteur for rights in the Palestinian Territories who has been accused of antisemitism, and Tlaleng Mofokeng, a UN expert on physical and mental health, called for an investigation into Adnan’s death.

The special rapporteurs’ statement also said Israeli authorities refused to provide Adnan with medical care, without mentioning Israel’s claim that he had refused treatment.

The statement accused Israel of carrying out “colonial” policies meant to “control and subjugate” Palestinians and accused Israel of war crimes. It did not mention Adnan’s membership in Islamic Jihad or Palestinian rockets fired at Israel in response to his death.

UN special rapporteurs are supposed to be unbiased, but Albanese has repeatedly justified violence against Israelis, made statements that sympathized with terror groups and dismissed Israel’s right to self-defense.

US Congress members, Jewish groups, and Israeli officials have repeatedly called for her removal from office.

The UN is set to hold its first official “Nakba” commemoration at UN Headquarters in New York later this month. “Nakba” is the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” and is used by Palestinians to recall the displacement and dispossession they experienced during Israel’s creation and the 1947-1949 War of Independence.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-un-envoy-lauds-islamic-jihad-member-who-died-on-hunger-strike/

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IMF's Jihad Azour evades presidential query, stresses staff-level agreement at Dubai panel

03-05-23

At a panel discussion on the Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and North Africa held in Dubai on Wednesday, Jihad Azour, the Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), expressed his concerns over the current economic situation in Lebanon.

The discussion was moderated by Becky Anderson, who questioned Azour on whether he would be the right person for the role of President of Lebanon, in order to lead the country out of its current crisis.

While Azour chose not to answer the question about his potential role as Lebanon's president, he did speak on the dire state of the Lebanese economy, where inflation has reached triple digits and the national currency has plummeted, pushing many people into poverty. Azour pointed out that the economy's inability to recover is due to a failure to address key issues that could restore confidence and stabilize the situation.

Drawing from lessons observed in the region, Azour emphasized that delaying essential measures only reduces their impact and increases the challenges that need to be addressed. In response to a question from an LBCI reporter regarding the viability of the staff-level agreement with the IMF, Azour stated that the roadmap laid out in the agreement remains valid for Lebanon to begin the process of economic reform and transformation.

The IMF's recent Article IV consultation, which assessed the state of the Lebanese economy, concluded that addressing the country's financial system, hyperinflation, and the need for structural reforms is crucial to its recovery. Azour urged Lebanese authorities to accelerate the implementation of these measures, stressing that such actions are necessary with or without IMF support.

Azour also suggested that Lebanon could use the staff-level agreement as a platform to attract additional support from regional and global partners, which could help accelerate the country's economic recovery.

Source: lbcgroup.tv

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https://www.lbcgroup.tv/news/lebanon-news/700822/imfs-jihad-azour-evades-presidential-query-stresse/en

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Heavy fighting in Khartoum as power struggle rages

May 04, 2023

KHARTOUM: Fierce fighting could be heard in central Khartoum on Thursday as the army tried to push back the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) from areas around the presidential palace and army headquarters, with a lasting cease-fire appearing elusive.

Each side appears to be battling for control of territory in the capital ahead of any possible negotiations, though the leaders of both factions have shown little public willingness to hold talks after more than two weeks of fighting.

Heavy bombardments also rang out in the adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri. Both sides had agreed to a seven-day cease-fire, which has been violated.

“Since yesterday evening, and this morning, there are air strikes and the sounds of clashes,” said Al-Sadiq Ahmed, a 49-year-old engineer speaking from Khartoum.

“We’ve got into a state of permanent terror because the battles are around the centers of residential neighborhoods. We don’t know when this nightmare and the fear will end.”

The United Nations, meanwhile, pressed Sudan’s warring factions on Wednesday to guarantee safe passage of humanitarian aid after six trucks were looted and air strikes in the capital undermined a supposed truce.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said he hoped to have face-to-face meetings with Sudan’s warring parties within two to three days to secure guarantees from them for aid convoys to deliver relief supplies.

The United Nations has warned that fighting between the army and RSF, which erupted on April 15, risks causing a humanitarian catastrophe that could spill into other countries. Sudan said on Tuesday that 550 people had died and 4,926 people wounded so far in the conflict.

About 100,000 people have fled Sudan with little food or water to neighboring countries, the UN says.

The army said it killed RSF fighters and destroyed a number of vehicles “belonging to the rebels,” after clashing with the group in the Bahri military region.

The army and RSF joined forces in a coup two years ago and had shared power as part of an internationally backed transition toward free elections and civilian government before falling out over the transition.

The RSF accused the army of breaching a cease-fire and attacking forces since dawn. It said the army attacked its residential neighborhoods with artillery and aircraft in a “cowardly manner.”

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297431/middle-east

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Israeli military kills 3 wanted Palestinians in West Bank

 May 04, 2023

 TEL AVIV: Israeli troops on Thursday killed three Palestinians wanted in connection with a deadly attack against Israelis, the Israeli military said, the latest bloodshed in a relentless wave of violence.

Forces entered the heart of the flashpoint city of Nablus in the early morning hours and raided an apartment where the men were located, according to a statement from the military. Troops and the suspects exchanged fire and the three men were killed.

The military accuses the men of being behind an attack last month on a car near a Jewish West Bank settlement that killed a British-Israeli mother and two of her daughters. It said two of the men, identified as Hassan Katnani, Maed Mitsri, were members of the Hamas militant group. It described the third man killed, Ibrahim Hura, as a senior operative who had assisted the other suspects.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said three people were killed in the fighting but did not immediately identify them.

The violence in Nablus comes at a particularly sensitive time in the region, days after a prominent Palestinian prisoner who was staging a lengthy hunger strike over his detention died in Israeli custody. His death set off a volley of rockets from militants in Gaza and airstrikes in the coastal enclave that killed one man.

The deadly attack last month on the Israeli car shocked Israelis because in an instant it reduced the Dee family from seven members to four. Hundreds of people packed the funerals and the family’s father, Leo, has been a recurring figure in Israeli media, saying he bears no hatred toward the killers of his family and calling for national unity amid a deep societal rift.

Israel has been staging near-nightly arrest raids into West Bank villages, towns and cities for more than a year in an operation prompted by a wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis last year. Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the attacks as further entrenchment of Israel’s 56-year, open-ended occupation of lands they seek for a future independent state.

The raids have been met by a surge in Palestinian attacks.

Some 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the raids were launched. Israel says most have been militants, but stone-throwing youth and people not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

During that same time, nearly 50 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297421/middle-east

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Deadly bus crash with truck kills 14, injures 25 in Egypt

May 04, 2023

 CAIRO: A passenger bus has slammed into a slowly moving truck on a highway in southwestern Egypt, killing at least 14 people, officials and local media say.

The crash took place late Wednesday in the New Valley province, according to its governor, Mohamed El-Zamlout. Twenty-five others were injured, he added in a statement.

Seventeen ambulances were dispatched to the accident scene to transfer victims to nearby hospitals and morgues, he added.

The statement did not elaborate what caused the crash.

A local daily, El-Shorouk, quoted an unnamed official as saying that the bus slammed into the truck which was “nearly parking” on the road. It reported that the bus was carrying 45 people heading to the capital, Cairo.

Deadly traffic accidents claim thousands of lives every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. The collisions are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297416/middle-east

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Sudan’s descent into chaos shatters illusion of safety for war-weary Syrians

May 03, 2023

LONDON: From the beginning of the protracted conflict pitting the regime against its opponents, Syrians fled their country in droves. Some risked life and limb to smuggle themselves and their families out of Syria over land, by sea, or any other routes available to them.

Since 2014, hundreds of thousands of Syrians from diverse ethnic backgrounds have managed to escape the violence and atrocities of the civil war by moving to foreign countries.

For Syrians who had just begun to find a new, stable life in Sudan — where they had hoped that violence and destruction would become a thing of the past — the eruption of fighting, looting and displacement in the North African country seems proof that the specter of war will follow them across borders.

 On April 15, simmering enmity between the Sudanese Armed Forces, commanded by Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, reached boiling point.

Both sides accused each other of starting the clashes that would soon overwhelm many of Sudan’s cities and towns, and in particular, the capital Khartoum.

As the fighting between the army and the RSF in Khartoum intensified, 15 Syrians were killed within the first few days, according to diplomatic sources, and thousands found themselves forced to flee their country of refuge.

“Displacement is a word that has been haunting many Syrians of late,” Tarek Alabed, a Syrian physician who used to live in Khartoum, told Arab News.

 “A few days ago, I was forced to flee the capital, Khartoum, to Port Sudan on the Red Sea in preparation for evacuation,” he said, describing an “agonizing” scene there.

“Dozens of buses arrived daily, carrying mostly Syrians.”

Referring to a sight that saddened him, Alabed said: “Syrians accounted for the smallest number of evacuees.”

According to him, “only 40 out of over 2,000 people” boarding the ships on Friday were Syrian.

“It was as if war finds us wherever we go,” he said.

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement through the Syrian Arab News Agency on April 26, saying that it was “following with great concern the situation of Syrians residing in Sudan.”

The ministry added that it had “made contacts with brotherly and friendly countries to assist in the evacuation process,” highlighting that Saudi Arabia had enabled the departure of hundreds of Syrians from the eastern city of Port Sudan.

“Not many Syrians remain. Most of those whom I know have left,” said Ayham, a Syrian who said he worked in foam manufacturing in Sudan and declined to be identified by his full name.

 Ayham, who arrived in Khartoum in 2017 along with other young male compatriots trying to escape compulsory military service, said many Syrians expect the situation to further deteriorate, leading to massive waves of evacuees.

“The clashes are taking place where the largest proportion of the Syrian community is concentrated, such as the Kafouri district of Bahri, which has an RSF base,” Ayham said.

“There is also a substantial Syrian community in the Riyadh district, where clashes also erupted, forcing most of them to vacate their homes.”

The Syrian Embassy in Khartoum had estimated the Syrian population in Sudan at 30,000 people, the second largest non-Sudanese community, exceeded only by Yemenis, according to Alabed, the physician.

 He said that most Syrians resided in north Khartoum and worked in the industrial, agricultural and investment sectors.

The shooting did not stop even during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, despite humanitarian calls for an end-of-Ramadan ceasefire.

Though the Syrian civil war has crossed the 12-year mark, Alabed said that when it comes to terms such as “mortar shells,” “clashes,” “water-supply and power cuts,” and “corpses on the roads,” “as Syrians we have not become inured to them. Still, to relive those experiences is very painful – even for the Sudanese people.”

He continued: “Although Sudan has a history of military confrontations, none of the clashes in the past happened in the capital. This has been one of the worst experiences we have lived through.”

 The outbreak of violence on April 15 took people in Khartoum by surprise. Reflecting on his experience, Alabed said: “In many past periods, we had witnessed a kind of verbal tension between the two parties to the conflict in Sudan, but those often ended when the parties held a meeting. This happened only a day before the clashes began.

“It is true that there were military reinforcements entering the capital and in Merowe in the north, but people continued to live a normal life.

“The markets remained open until late on that Ramadan night, but the next day, everyone woke up to this unfortunate news.”

Syrians in Khartoum could not be reached during the first few days of clashes owing to power outages and internet connectivity issues.

“Khartoum today is almost empty,” said Alabed. “Not only have foreigners vacated, but also Sudanese people, (many of whom) have fled to distant, safer states.”

 He said some were unable to leave due to a lack of sufficient financial means and had to endure long hours of power cuts.

“We are (also) approaching the third week of water cuts and the absence of basic goods and services, which has caused a state of panic.”

As of Tuesday, more than 500 people had been killed and another 4,000 wounded in the fighting, according to Sudan’s health ministry. Foreign countries have been evacuating their nationals over land, by sea and via special rescue flights amid the violence and chaos.

Millions of Sudanese, however, remain trapped in Khartoum, where food is running short. More than 70 percent of the city’s health facilities have been forced to close as a result of the fighting.

 On Saturday Abdalla Hamdok, the former Sudanese prime minister, said the conflict could become worse than those in Syria and Libya, which have led to the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and caused instability in the wider regions.

“I think it will be a nightmare for the world. This is not a war between an army and a small rebellion. It is almost like two armies,” he said.

In an article published on Saturday, the Norwegian Refugee Council described the situation in Sudan as “the worst-case scenario,” noting that that fuel is running out, many banks and shops have been robbed, and access to basic services, including water, electricity, food and communication networks, are a challenge.

 Ayham believes things are taking a turn for the worse in Sudan “owing to the security chaos triggered by the political developments,” adding that “gunpoint robberies are rife, and many Syrians have been affected.”

Disruptions in water and power supplies have compounded the problem of insecurity and violence, forcing many bakeries in violence-torn areas to stay shut.

“Life in general, in addition to the security situation, has become very difficult within 10 days, so most Syrians either left for Port Sudan or fled to neighboring states,” according to Ayham.

This is not the first time that Syrians who have sought refuge in Sudan have packed their bags, fearing unpleasant consequences — or, worse still, another war.

In the period between the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011 and the overthrow of longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan was a sanctuary for Syrians fleeing violence and suffering and hoping to rebuild their livelihoods in a distant country.

Between 2014 and 2019, Sudan welcomed some 300,000 Syrians, allowing them visa-free entry and the rights to investment, education, healthcare and even citizenship. Local media reported that 4,000 Syrians were granted Sudanese passports in 2016.

 “Syrians started flocking to Sudan when many embassies closed their doors to them,” Youssef, whose name has been changed for security reasons, told Arab News from Damascus.

The attitude of the Sudan government was in sharp contrast to that of even neighboring Lebanon, where, according to Youssef, “the climate has been generally unwelcoming, and the authorities require Syrians to have a sponsor after being in the country for 15 days.”

However, when Sudan’s transitional government took control in 2019, things changed for Syrians, prompting thousands to leave, and an entry visa was imposed. Then, following the military coup of 2021, “the number of Syrians in Sudan dropped significant, to somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000,” said Ayham.

 Traumatized by at least two experiences of war and displacement, the Syrians fleeing Sudan because of the ongoing fighting are not hopeful of returning any time soon.

“Unfortunately, I do not believe there will be relief soon in Sudan, although I hope I am wrong,” said Alabed, who came to Sudan after receiving a good job offer in the medical field.

Explaining why his prognosis about Sudan’s future is gloomy, he said: “I have recently started to compare what is happening in Khartoum with the onset of the Lebanese civil war of 1975. It turned out to be a prolonged conflict, and no side wanted to end it.

Source: arabnews.com

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

“Both sides believe they can resolve the conflict, and, alas, civilians are the ones paying the price.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297291/middle-east

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Africa

 

Arab League, African Union and UN intensify efforts for peace in Sudan

03-05-23

The head of the Arab League held talks n Tuesday with a representative of Sudanese military leader General Abdel Fattah Burhan at the organisation's headquarters in Cairo.

Speaking after the meeting, Dafa’alla Al-Haj Ali said that the crisis in his homeland was an "internal matter" and warned against any external interference.

“I am talking to you now, and there are contacts regarding the completion of this truce, but we want this truce to be with the participation of the political institutions to which we belong, the first of which is the Arab League and also the African Union, but that it takes place with their approval and in all its details, and we do not accept anything imposed on us by whichever direction“, said Dafa’alla Al-Haj Ali, special envoy of General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, president of Sudan's Sovereignty Council.

On Tuesday, the African Union, in collaboration with the United Nations and IGAD, announced a new concerted effort to de-escalate the ongoing conflict in Sudan

During the news briefing at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, African Union Commission Chairperson's chief of staff and AU's spokesperson for the Sudan peace process Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt announced that the Union had agreed to intensify towards a complete ceasefire in Sudan.

“We have agreed on the necessity to intensify, collectively and individually, all our effort to reach, as soon as possible, a complete and unconditional, efficient, inclusive ceasefire all over Sudan. They (AU, IGAD, Ed.) agreed to intensify, by all means, the effort to bring as soon as possible the humanitarian support for the population inside Sudanese cities and all the borders of all neighbouring countries where thousands of Sudanese have fled”, said the African Union Commission Chairperson's chief of staff and AU's spokesperson for the Sudan peace process Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt.

Thousands of people have fled fierce fighting in central Khartoum for Sudan’s borders. Some have been waiting for days in the open air to cross the Ashkit land crossing into Egypt.

At least 447 civilians have been killed and more than 2,255 injured since the fighting began, according to figures released on Monday by the Doctors’ Syndicate, which tracks civilian casualties.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/03/arab-league-african-union-and-un-intensify-efforts-for-peace-in-sudan/

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Buhari has taken Nigeria 100 years backward, says Buba Galadima

May 3, 2023

A chieftain of the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, Buba Galadima, has decried the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari in the past seven years.

Mr Galadima, who used to be a close ally of Mr Buhari, also claimed that the Nigerian leader had taken the country 100 years backward.

Speaking during an interview with Arise TV on Wednesday, Mr Galadima also disagreed with a statement by a presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, who claimed that the President would leave the country better off.

He said, “We wished he had kept the country the way he met it. We would have applauded him and even escorted him to Daura whenever he intends leaving office.

“The man has taken Nigeria 100 years back, dividing Nigeria along religious lines, dividing Nigeria along ethnic lines, crashing economic policies that had left the dollar that he met at 157 naira per dollar, he is now leaving it at nearly eight hundred. That is if you see the dollar to buy.

“Insecurity was confined generally in the North-east except for some dark spots but today you cannot travel to anywhere in Nigeria with your eyes closed. You have to spend the night praying that God delivers you.

“Now if that is the kind of Nigeria that Femi Adesina wants, then I pray to God to visit him with what the common people suffer daily in Nigeria.

JaizBank

“My only regret in this country is that Buhari has left Nigerian polity bedevilled by religious and monetization issues which is worse than rigging because you can no more win election on the basis of quality of service or credibility, basis of your pubic service or the basis of what you had done but only on the basis of what you have done.”

The NNPP chieftain also accused religious leaders in the country of contributing to the unsatisfactory outcome of the election.

“Of course, religious leaders, both Christians and Muslims, were a disappointment during this election.

“Instead of preaching morality and telling Nigerians, that look this is what God expects from a leader, they made themselves God, and thought they can install a leader of their choice. They have utterly been disappointed,” he said.

He however, advised the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, to beware of people around him, who would do anything to be in power.

Source: dailynigerian.com

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https://dailynigerian.com/buhari-nigeria-years/

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I see my role as delivering hope for millions of people – Adesina

May 3, 2023

President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, says he sees his role as the Bank’s President as delivering hope for millions of people.

Mr Adesina made the remark while addressing Class of 2023 at Calvin University, Michigan, USA.

He said: “In the past seven years, our work has impacted the lives of 350 million people. I am excited that we have helped to connect 20 million people to electricity.

“On a field trip to one of the project villages in Kenya not too long ago, I met one of our beneficiaries. Her name is Grace. She was very excited.

“When she was asked whether she knew AfDB President (that is myself), she said, I do not know the President, I do not even know the AfDB; all I know is that we once were in darkness, now we have light!”

“That is a lesson there! Let your works and good deeds impact the lives of people, especially those who will never know you.”

According to Mr Adesina, the bank is building a Desert to Power initiative, a 25 billion dollars investment to harness the power of the sun and deliver electricity for 250 million people.

He said when completed, it would be the largest solar zone in the world, adding that ”it will be a spark of hope for millions more like Grace”.

Mr Adesina said: “Class of 2023, the present and the future belong to your generation. Your creativity and dynamism will make a difference for good.

“In front of me today, I see builders and shapers of hope. You have been well prepared to go into the world to be the change makers. You have received a world class education.

“You have been exposed to great ideas, and you’ve worked alongside faculty and students from all around the world.

“You are ready and the world awaits you! A world that faces new challenges, many of them happening simultaneously.”

Source: dailynigerian.com

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https://dailynigerian.com/role-delivering-hope-millions/

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Hundreds of thousands try to flee Sudan as fighting continues

04-05-23

The U.N.'s humanitarian chief arrived at Sudan’s main seaport on Wednesday, as thousands of Sudanese and foreign nationals gathered there in hopes of fleeing by plane or boat.

The battle for control of Sudan erupted after months of escalating tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

On Wednesday Martin Griffiths, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations, tweeted that he had spoken with both leaders.

His arrival in the Red Sea port came on the last day of a shaky truce, meant to expire at midnight, that has done little to quell the fighting.

It also comes amid increasing concern about the humanitarian situation for those trapped and displaced by the fighting, which is the result of a power struggle between the country's two top generals. But questions remain over how U.N. agencies can operate with limited staff and supplies amid the chaos.

More than a week after the brutal fighting erupted in the country's capital on Khartoum on April 15, thousands of U.N. workers were evacuated from the city by way of a land convoy to Port Sudan. Some U.N. offices paused their services, such as the World Food Programme, after two of its workers were killed in fighting in southern Sudan. The WFP has since said it will resume operations.

At a news conference from Port Sudan, Griffiths said he is seeking guarantees from the warring sides for the safe passage of humanitarian aid. He addressed criticism that the U.N. had not been doing enough by saying it was “extremely difficult” for it to operate in Sudan.

Six trucks belonging to the World Food Program carrying aid to the western region of Darfur were looted on the road, he said, and singled out Darfur and Khartoum as badly in need of assistance.

“It’s not as if we’re asking for the moon," Griffiths said in the online briefing. "We’re asking for the movement of humanitarian supplies and people. We do this in every other country, even without cease-fires.”

The conflict has so far killed 550 people, including civilians, and wounded more than 4,900. The fighting has displaced at least 334,000 people inside Sudan, and sent tens of thousands more to neighbouring countries — Egypt, Chad, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia, according to U.N. agencies.

More than 42,000 Sudanese who fled the war in their country have crossed into Egypt along with 2,300 foreign nationals since the crisis began, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Aid workers are increasingly concerned about lack of basic services in these areas, and also in Port Sudan, some 400 kilometres from Khartoum.

Many Western countries have completed evacuations for their citizens from the country, with France, Britain and now the United States using Port Sudan as a base for those looking to leave. But citizens of other nations are still struggling to find a way out.

An estimated hundreds of Syrians, who came to Sudan fleeing their own country's civil war over the past decade, are among the last foreigners to leave.

Tariq Abdel-Hameed, a Syrian in Port Sudan, said a second Damascus-bound flight with a around 200 Syrians mostly pregnant women and sick people, is scheduled to take off from Port Sudan later Wednesday.

He said the first flight landed in the Syrian capital early Wednesday, with some 200 people, including 21 children, on board. He said more flights are scheduled in the coming days.

For thousands of Sudanese and foreigners flocking to Port Sudan, the city was the last stop before leaving the country. Saudi warships have been ferrying mainly foreigners but also dual Sudanese nationals and others across the Red Sea to the city of Jeddah in the kingdom.

“It feels really sad to be leaving behind a part of your life,” said Saadiya Abdulrahman, a Sudanese-American woman from Khartoum, while waiting with her daughter for their turn to board a Saudi vessel on Tuesday night. When their turn came, the two first boarded a tugboat with dozens of others, to take them to the Saudi ship.

“Khartoum has become like a ghost town in some neighbourhoods because of all the destruction,” said Salah Suleiman, a Sudanese from Khartoum who was among those sailing to Jeddah.

The damage was already evident last week when a local news outlet tweeted a video showing the aftermath of fighting in the Shambat area of Khartoum.

And on Wednesday, the fighting continued in and around Khartoum. Clouds of smoke were seen over areas of active fighting, and residents-hiding in their homes-still heard sounds of explosions, with the battles still seemingly centred around key government buildings, such as the Presidential Palace.

There were also increasing signs of lawlessness in many of the city's neighbourhoods, with reports that more diplomatic facilities were being targeted. Armed men stormed the building housing the office of Saudi Arabia’s cultural attaché in Sudan, the kingdom said Wednesday.

A statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency said an armed group “destroyed equipment and cameras, seized some of attaché's property and disrupted the attaché’s systems and servers.”

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/03/hundreds-of-thousands-try-to-flee-sudan-as-fighting-continues/

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Sahel region singled out on World Press Freedom Day

03-05-23

On World Press Freedom Day the journalists' rights group Reporters Without Borders said it was concerned the Sahel region is in danger of becoming "Africa's biggest news blackout zone."

In a gloomy report published a month ago, Reporters Without Borders denounced a "constant deterioration" in the working conditions of the local and international press in the Sahel.

Thirty media outlets, journalists' associations and freedom of expression organisations on Wednesday called on the ruling juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso to protect journalists in the face of growing threats.

Mali and Burkina have been ruled by juntas since 2020 and 2022 respectively.

The 2023 edition of the World Press Freedom Report points in particular to the effects of disinformation.

Christophe Deloire, the Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, pointed to leaders of digital platforms, such as Twitter's owner Elon Musk, who he said are not concerned whether the information they distribute false or accurate.

"Reliable information is being drowned out by a deluge of disinformation," says Mr. Deloire, according to whom "we can perceive less and less the differences between the real and the artificial, the true and the false.

"One of the major challenges is to put democratic principles back into this gigantic market of attention and content," he says.

In two thirds of the 180 countries evaluated, the specialists who contribute to the ranking "report the involvement of political actors" in "massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns", according to RSF.

This is the case of Russia, India, China and Mali.

Another phenomenon is fake content created by artificial intelligence (AI).

Political propaganda, economic manipulation, false content generated by artificial intelligence: disinformation in the broadest sense is a major threat to press freedom worldwide warns in its 21st annual ranking.

"Midjourney, an AI that generates very high definition images, feeds social networks with increasingly plausible fakes", underlines RSF, citing false photos of Donald Trump's arrest "taken up virally".

We are also witnessing "large-scale manipulative productions" by specialised companies, on behalf of governments or companies.

In February, a vast investigation by the investigative journalist collective Forbidden Stories revealed the activities of an Israeli company called "Team Jorge" that specialises in disinformation.

All these "unprecedented manipulation capacities are used to weaken those who embody quality journalism, at the same time as they weaken journalism itself", warns RSF.

Without change, the best rated country is Norway and the last one is North Korea. France is 24th and gains two places. Overall, the conditions for practicing journalism are poor in 7 out of 10 countries.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/03/sahel-region-singled-out-on-world-press-freedom-day/

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Southeast Asia

 

Nazri says ouster rumours make foreign investors wary of Malaysia

By Shathana Kasinathan

Thursday, 04 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — Malaysia’s Ambassador to the United States (US) Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said that any attempt to topple the government of the day will make it difficult for ambassadors to court foreign investors because the latter will have the impression that the country is unstable.

According to Astro Awani, Nazri said that it is the duty of ambassadors to help the government to convince investors and bring more investment to Malaysia.

He said that a country’s stability is a key concern for foreign investors.

“I fully support the decree of the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar regarding the importance of maintaining the stability of the government.

“I am speaking in my capacity as ambassador to the US, not as a politician.

“I believe Malaysian ambassadors in other countries are also worried if there is an attempt to overthrow the government because the country will be seen as unstable, and investors will not be interested in coming to our country,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal.

Nazri also said that he has met many of the Malaysian diaspora in the US who fully support Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s efforts to eliminate corruption.

He said that most want the current government to see its five-year term through to ensure stability.

“These people, even though they are abroad, still care about Malaysia’s stability.

“Everyone I met supports the prime minister’s efforts to eliminate corruption.

“In fact, some alleged that the reason why MPs want to topple the government of the day is because they are the ones who are involved in corruption cases,” he was quoted as saying.

Following that, he advised MPs to respect the unity government that was decided by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

He stressed that MPs need to prove their loyalty to the Agong by working together to maintain the stability of the country and not topple the government.

“We must remember that the current government was formed according to the Federal Constitution after no party or coalition was able to establish a government on its own.

“So, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has carried out his duties according to the Constitution by advising a unity government to be established and appointing Anwar as the prime minister.

“MPs need to prove to the people that they obey and uphold the decree of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who wants a stable government,” he was quoted as saying by Astro Awani.

Yesterday, Sultan Ibrahim voiced his concern following persistent rumours of the government’s alleged instability despite six months having passed following the conclusion of the 15th general election (GE15).

Sultan Ibrahim decreed that the country’s people, economy, well-being and prosperity should be prioritised.

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/04/nazri-says-ouster-rumours-make-foreign-investors-wary-of-malaysia/67615

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S.Korea, Indonesia to seek stronger economic ties, push for green growth

2023-05-03

Seoul, May 3 (IANS) South Korea and Indonesia agreed on Wednesday to expand economic ties amid the realignment of the global supply chain and seek growth based on green technologies, the finance ministry said.

The agreement came as Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho met his Indonesian counterpart, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, onthe margins of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank held in Incheon, 27 kilometers west of Seoul, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said.

During the meeting, Choo noted South Korean companies have invested in a diverse range of sectors in Indonesia, including the automobile, battery and petrochemical industries, Yonhap news agency reported.

He requested Jakarta continue its efforts to address possible economic challenges for Korean companies, such as lowering tariffs for raw materials.

The two countries also agreed to expand cooperation in the green sector by utilizing South Korea's Economic Development Cooperation Fund commitment to Indonesia.

Last year, South Korea decided to more than double the ceiling on the low-interest rate loans to Indonesia to US$1.5 billion over the 2022-26 period, compared with the previous $600 million set aside for 2016-21.

First Vice Finance Minister Bang Ki-sun, meanwhile, held a separate meeting with Bambang Susantono, who heads Indonesia's ministry-level organization tasked with the Southeast Asian nation's envisioned relocation of its capital from Jakarta to Nusantara.

During the meeting, Bang requested Indonesia give attention and support to South Korean firms wishing to participate in the infrastructure projects needed for the relocation.

Indonesia plans to invest around 40 trillion won ($29.9 billion) for the relocation, which is expected to be completed in 2045.

South Korea and Indonesia celebrate their 50th anniversary of forging diplomatic ties this year.

Source: investing.com

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https://in.investing.com/news/skorea-indonesia-to-seek-stronger-economic-ties-push-for-green-growth-3626751

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Agong, Raja Permaisuri wish Buddhists ‘Happy Wesak Day’

Thursday, 04 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah today wished the Buddhists in the country a Happy Wesak Day.

A poster of the greetings by Their Majesties was uploaded on Istana Negara’s Facebook.

“May this festival brings peace, happiness and prosperity to all Buddhists,” said Their Majesties.

Wesak Day is celebrated by Buddhists to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/04/agong-raja-permaisuri-wish-buddhists-happy-wesak-day/67576

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Bring up Borneo Aviation Authority proposal to Cabinet, says Zahid

Thursday, 04 May 2023

KOTA KINABALU: The proposal to establish a Borneo Aviation Authority for Sabah and Sarawak should be brought to the Cabinet, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The Deputy Prime Minister said this proposal should be handled and followed up by the minister in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs, Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali, who is also Papar MP.

“I think on this issue, I hope the minister in charge of Sabah and Sarawak, who is also the MP for Papar, will bring it to the Cabinet,” he said when asked about the proposal by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan amid high prices of air tickets during holidays.

Ahmad Zahid said this during his visit to Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Kota Kinabalu, which has since been renamed MRSM Tan Sri Musa Aman Kota Kinabalu, on Thursday (May 4).

Last week, Jeffrey had made the suggestion to resolve "expensive and unreasonable" airfares faced by people in the two states.

He said the time has come to establish a body to regulate and look after the aviation industry in Sabah and Sarawak and that there have been reports of issues and delays in the handling of aviation matters in Sabah by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

Earlier, Ahmad Zahid said efforts are being made to look into the extravagant airfare issue for travels between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, especially during festive and holiday seasons.

Among them were discussions for the setting up of boutique airways not only between Sabah and Sarawak, but also for travels from these two states to the peninsula.

He said the Transport Ministry is also having negotiations with airline companies on whether it was possible to not take supply and demand reasonings to set airfares.

“I hope for the coming Kaamatan and Gawai festivals, we will not see this issue arise again and we will be monitoring the situation,” Ahmad Zahid said.

He said he had taken note of grouses by Sabahans and Sarawakians about high airfares during festive seasons, like the Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“We at the federal level are very much concerned about these issues and are finding ways to resolve them,” he added.

Source: thestar.com.my

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https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/05/04/bring-up-borneo-aviation-authority-proposal-to-cabinet-says-zahid

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