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Islamic World News ( 27 May 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The India We Love: Muslim Man Breaks Fast to Save a Hindu Woman and Her Child

New Age Islam News Bureau

27 May 2020

Abid Saifi, a social worker got this information through Sandeep Kumar, admin of Jai Hind Blood Group, a WhatsApp group that helps patients connect with donors.


• Muslim Man’s Final Journey Turns Arduous, Laid to Rest in Hindu Cemetery In Telangana

• Muslims Lay Hindu Widow to Rest After Son Refuses Due To COVID-19 Fear In Andhra Pradesh's Guntur

• Man Gets Federal Court’s Nod to Proceed with Challenge of Selangor’s Shariah Law Criminalising Unnatural Sex

• In Mideast, Religion Looms Large in Corona 'Infodemic'; Many of The More Outlandish Claims That Went Viral in The Middle East Were Religious-Themed

• Pakistani Bid to Form Group of OIC Envoys at UN Foiled

• Coronavirus: Holy Land Churches Reopen In Jerusalem, Bethlehem

• Drive Thru Prayers? This Is How Muslims In Canada, US Celebrated Eid Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

• Isis Fighter Britons Could Be Charged Over ‘Conflict Selfies’



• The India We Love: Muslim Man Breaks Fast to Save a Hindu Woman and Her Child

• Muslim Man’s Final Journey Turns Arduous, Laid to Rest in Hindu Cemetery InTelangana

• Muslims Lay Hindu Widow to Rest After Son Refuses Due To COVID-19 Fear In Andhra Pradesh's Guntur

• Muslim Body Conducts Last Rites of Hindu Man InAkola, Nagpur

• Locusts Are Halal InIslam And Other Interesting Facts About The Migratory Pests

• Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

• NC leadership should express party’s stand on J&K special status, says top leader

• Charge sheets filed against 82 foreign Jamaat participants

• 57 Foreigners Linked To Islamic Sect Violated Social Distancing, Rules Haryana Court

• Owner rejects Indian claim of ‘spy’ pigeon’s capture


Southeast Asia

• Man Gets Federal Court’s Nod to Proceed with Challenge of Selangor’s Shariah Law Criminalising Unnatural Sex

• Eid in time of pandemic: Quiet and lonely but modest and solemn

• Coronavirus traps poor foreign workers in deserted Maldives

• Muslims celebrate major holiday amid curfews, virus fears


Arab World

• In Mideast, Religion Looms Large in Corona 'Infodemic'; Many of The More Outlandish Claims That Went Viral in The Middle East Were Religious-Themed

• Islamic State Bombs Disguised as Video Game Controllers Uncovered In Iraq

• Al Jazeera continues to ‘provide a platform to bigoted and violent extremists’

• Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia to ease restrictions, restart business, return to ‘normal’

• Saudis, expats ready to restart their lives, vow to stick to health guidelines

• Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia allows mosques to reopen for Friday prayers

• ISIS Prisoners Threaten U.S. Mission in Northeastern Syria

• Two ISIS regional leaders killed during joint raid in Syria, coalition says

• 20 years on, Israel's Lebanon pullout inspires new Hezbollah recruits

• Egyptian forces kill 21 militants in North Sinai

• Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces kill senior Daesh member



• Pakistani Bid to Form Group of OIC Envoys at UN Foiled

• Due to spike in Covid-19 infections, Pakistan warns to reimpose strict lockdown

• Pakistan will not stay silent on Modi’s fascism, anti-Muslim violence, Qureshi says

• PM’s Corona Relief Fund crosses Rs4bn mark

• Flooding, locust threats loom over Pakistan, says NDMA chief

• Uzair’s mother approaches SHC, seeks overturn of his military court conviction

• ‘Africa Day 2020’: Pakistan assures full support to African nations

• PM, Abu Dhabi CP discuss Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral cooperation

• Army fully alive to threat spectrum, says Gen Bajwa



• Coronavirus: Holy Land Churches Reopen In Jerusalem, Bethlehem

• Iran Reports 1,787 New Coronavirus Cases, Nearly 110,000 Recoveries

• Yemeni Intelligence Official Opens Correspondence with Iran Intelligence Minister

• Iranian President Communicates Law to Confront Hostile Acts of Zionists against Peace, Security

• Commander: Army Helicopters Flying to Stop Wildfire in Southwestern Iran

• Twitter Closes Account of Iranian Embassy in Moscow with No Reason

• Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity reopens as coronavirus restrictions ease

• Houthi ‘consultant’ dies from coronavirus after saying ‘better to die on battlefield’

• Attempted stabbing attack in Jerusalem, terrorist shot

• Erdogan backers peddle rumours of another coup in Turkey


North America

• Drive Thru Prayers? This Is How Muslims In Canada, US Celebrated Eid Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

• Trump looks for full pullout from Afghanistan but hasn't set target date

• US governor denies parole for Turkish diplomat’s killer



• Isis Fighter Britons Could Be Charged Over ‘Conflict Selfies’

• Over 100 'Islamic State' fighters return to Germany

• France says relations with Iran tougher following French citizen's sentencing

• Cyprus to deport 17 migrants suspected of terror links

• Terrorist returned to UK prison for owning moped


South Asia

• Afghan Govt To Free 900 Prisoners; Taliban May Extend Truce

• Bangladesh: Rohingya Muslims mark joyless Eid in camps

• China’s role about Coronavirus outbreak in Afghanistan

• Coronavirus spreading at an alarming rate in Afghanistan, 658 new cases recorded

• Afghan president pledges to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners



• Boko Haram: Terrorists Raze Down 90 Houses, Church, Shops In Borno

• Ivory Coast, Burkina offensive to flush out extremists

• Sudan arrests local, Egyptian members of terror cell affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood

• Jordan’s civil servants return to work after two months break

• Libyan mayor says most mercenaries have left Bani Walid

• Eight terrorists killed in Ivory Coast-Burkina Faso operation

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



The India We Love: Muslim Man Breaks Fast to Save A Hindu Woman And Her Child

May 27, 2020

Shara Ashraf Prayag

A few days ago, Rupesh Kumar, a distressed father-to-be was hoping for a miracle. Amid the lockdown, his wife Dolly had to undergo a caesarian operation and she urgently required two units of B+ blood.

Abid Saifi, a social worker got this information through Sandeep Kumar, admin of Jai Hind Blood Group, a WhatsApp group that helps patients connect with donors.

Dolly, who lived in Kaka Nagar, was admitted in Jyoti nursing home. Husain immediately responded to the message on the group, confirming that he was ready to donate blood. Without thinking for a minute, he broke his fast to be able to donate blood, and rushed to the hospital.

Dolly received blood in time and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Her husband, advocate Rupesh Kumar was very moved by Saifi’s gesture and called to thank him for saving his wife’s and son’s life. He also requested Saifi if he could help him choose a name for the newborn child.

Saifi says that he is very grateful to God for giving him an opportunity to help someone in the Holy month of Ramzan. “When we Muslims say Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Alamin, it implies, praise be to Allah, the Lord of the entire universe, the Lord of all those who inhabit this earth, nowhere it’s written, He is the Lord of just Muslims, so there’s no way a Muslim can ever discriminate among human beings. As a Muslim, I can’t be happier that I got an opportunity to help someone!,” he says.

The social activist says that the whole idea of fasting in Ramzan is to please God, and God can’t be happier that he broke his fast to save two lives. “Humanity will always be above religion! Many are trying to spread hate in the name of religion, but we understand how wrong it is to discriminate,” says Saifi, who every year, in the month of sawan, hosts worshippers of Lord Shiva that take part in Kanwar Yatra. He organises rest camps for the kanwariyas, serves them food and drinks and also applies ointments to the pilgrims’ sore feet.

Love will always have the power to magically conquer hatred. This is the India we love, the India we live for!


Muslim Man’s Final Journey Turns Arduous, Laid to Rest in Hindu Cemetery In Telangana

27th May 2020

HYDERABAD: The family of a Muslim man from Narsingi, who died of a heart attack, had to face a harrowing ordeal when four graveyards in and around the city denied them burial space. Mohammed Khaja Miyan, who was 55, was ultimately buried in a Hindu cremation ground after the intervention of local leaders. Mohammed Khaja, a resident of Gandhamguda in Bairaiguda on the outskirts of Hyderabad, passed away on Monday morning.

Mohammed Pasha, his son, said, “We took him to four graveyards but no one helped us. In one of the graveyards, the grave was dug out but was again filled up after people objected to it.” Rukman Ahmed Khan, the chief of the Gandhamguda Muslim Welfare Association, who assisted the family in finding a graveyard, said that they had gone to Langar Houz, their local mosque, another mosque in Peerancheru and others to find a place to bury the body.

It was then that local leaders including a Corporator and a local TRS leader named Sandeep pitched the idea of burying Mohammad Khaja’s body in a Hindu cremation ground. Sandeep said, “Local graveyard committee members objected to Mohammed Khaja being buried over here because the family is originally from Gadwal. They reasoned that the man should be buried in Gadwal.

“We tried to request them on the basis of humanity but they did not relent. Local leaders the pitched the idea of burying the man in a cremation ground. We made the family understand and finally went ahead with it,” he added. Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) leader Amjed Ullah Khan requested Waqf Board chairman Mohammed Saleem and Home Minister Mahmood Ali to take action against the masjid committee members for denying burial space to the family.

Painful end

The family of Mohammed Khaja Miyan, 55, who died of a heart attack, faced a harrowing ordeal when four graveyards denied them burial space. The body was ultimately buried in a Hindu cremation ground after the intervention of local leaders. Majlis Bachao Tehreek leader Amjed Ullah Khan sought action against those responsible for the family’s misery


Muslims Lay Hindu Widow to Rest After Son Refuses Due To COVID-19 Fear In Andhra Pradesh's Guntur

27th May 2020

GUNTUR: Muslim youngsters performed the last rites of an elderly Hindu widow in Mangalagiri after her son refused to do so, fearing she had Covid-19. The son also had disputes with his mother, police said.

The woman, Yuddham Dhanalakshmi, 70, lived with her daughter, Annapurna, in Bapatla. She slipped and fell on Sunday, and was taken to a government hospital, where she died the next evening.

As per her wish to have her last rites performed in her hometown, Annapurna shifted her body to Mangalagiri in an ambulance.

However, Dhanalakshmi’s son Nagamalleswara Rao refused to allow the body to be brought into his house, fearing that his mother may have contracted coronavirus.

As Annapurna tried to convince him, the body was left outside the house the entire night. Annapurna then informed the police, but they too could not convince Nagamalleswara Rao to perform the last rites.

As news of the incident went viral on social media, a group of youngsters who run a small organisation called ‘Khidmat’, came forward to perform the woman’s last rites.

“We approached Annapurna and expressed our readiness to perform the last rites as per Hindu traditions. We later got permission from the police and performed the rites,” said Shafiq, a member of Khidmat.


Man gets Federal Court’s nod to proceed with challenge of Selangor’s Shariah law criminalising unnatural sex

27 May 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — The Federal Court recently decided that it will proceed to hear a man’s constitutional challenge over a Selangor state law that makes it a Shariah offence to have unnatural sex, with the man’s legal challenge specifically on whether the Selangor state legislative assembly has the powers to enact this state law in the first place.

What is the Shariah offence in question?

This Shariah offence — which is under a Selangor state law applicable only to Muslims — makes it a crime to have unnatural sex and lists out the penalties.

Under Section 28 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995, it is an offence for any person to perform “sexual intercourse against the order of nature” with any man, woman or animal, which is punishable by a maximum RM5,000 fine or maximum three-year jail term or maximum six strokes of whipping, or any combination of the penalties.

How did this case come about?

Here is a quick guide by Malay Mail to the facts of this case based on court documents. (But first of all, keep in mind that the court challenge in the Federal Court is not a challenge against any religion or religious teachings, but is merely a legal issue revolving around the scope of law-making powers by the federal government and state governments under the Federal Constitution.)

A Malaysian man — whose identity is being withheld for privacy purposes — was alleged to have attempted to commit sexual intercourse against the order of nature in November 2018 with certain other male persons in Selangor, and was then charged in the Selangor Shariah High Court in August 2019 under Section 28 of the Selangor state law.

After pleading not guilty and claiming trial in the Shariah court, the man then filed two separate court challenges in the civil courts to ultimately challenge the validity and constitutionality of Section 28 provision that was used to charge him.

Challenge I: The judicial review at the High Court

For the first challenge, the man (applicant) filed on November 20, 2019 an application at the High Court for leave for judicial review, naming the Selangor chief Syariah prosecutor and the Selangor government as the two respondents.

In the judicial review application, the man sought for several court orders, including for a declaration that Section 28 is invalid for being ultra vires or going beyond the powers under the Federal Constitution, and a declaration that Section 28 is invalid for being inconsistent with the Federal Constitution’s Article 5(1), Article 8, Article 10. (Article 5(1) covers the right to life and personal liberty, Article 8 covers the right to equality before the law and non-discrimination, Article 10 covers the right to freedom of speech, assembly and association, with the man in this case arguing that Section 28 infringes on individual dignity, the right to self-determination, right to privacy, and discriminates.)

He is also seeking a court order to prohibit the continuing of Shariah proceedings against him; and court orders to quash the decision to charge him in the Shariah court and to quash the Shariah trial against him.

It is understood that the High Court in Kuala Lumpur had this January granted leave or permission for the judicial review proceedings to continue, which means it would proceed to hear the actual judicial review application.

When contacted, Surendra Ananth — who is one of the lawyers acting for the applicant in the second challenge at the Federal Court — said the hearing for the judicial review at the High Court has been put on hold while waiting for the Federal Court’s decision.

Surendra also confirmed that the Shariah trial against the client has yet to start.

Challenge II: The constitutional reference to the Federal Court

So back to the challenge at the Federal Court, the same Malaysian man had on November 28, 2019 applied for the Federal Court’s leave to start court proceedings against the Selangor government, to seek a declaration that the Section 28 provision is invalid on the basis that the Selangor state legislative assembly had no powers to make such a law.

The application was made via Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution, where constitutional challenges against the validity of any laws — on the basis that such laws were made by Parliament or by state legislatures when they had no power to do so or when it does not fall under their respective jurisdictions — can be brought directly to the Federal Court and requires a Federal Court judge’s leave to be heard.

What the Federal Court said

In a 29-page judgment dated May 14, Federal Court judge Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim decided to grant leave for the court challenge to be heard, as he found that the application had fulfilled the two requirements — by showing that leave is necessary as the case involved the question of the Selangor state legislature’s competency to make laws on a matter that fell under the federal government’s jurisdiction, and as the application was not frivolous or an abuse of court process.

The Federal Court judge also listed excerpts of the legal arguments presented by both the applicant’s lawyers and the Selangor government’s state legal advisor, before adding his own views.

To understand the legal arguments presented, just note that the Federal Constitution’s Ninth Schedule contains two main lists — List I which is also known as the Federal List and List II which is also known as the State List.

The Federal List lists out matters which the federal government via Parliament can make laws on, while the State List lists out matters which state governments via their respective state legislative assemblies can make laws on.

For the man who brought the constitutional challenge to the Federal Court, his arguments were that the Federal Constitution’s State List’s Item 1 does allow the Selangor state legislative assembly to make laws on the “creation and punishment of offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List”.

(In other words, the constitutional provision means that state governments can make laws relating to religious offences by Muslims, except for when the matters fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction.)

But noting that the Federal List’s Item 4(h) covers the “creation of offences in respect of any of the matters included in the Federal List or dealt with by federal law” and Item 4 in general puts “criminal law” under the federal government’s jurisdiction, the man argued that the matter of unnatural sex offences mentioned in the Selangor state law’s Section 28 provision is a matter already covered by federal law in the form of the Penal Code’s Section 377 to Section 377E.

The man argued that this meant that the Selangor state legislature went beyond its legislative competence or its powers in creating the Section 28 offence in the state law, as the matter falls under the federal government’s jurisdiction and is already covered in the Penal Code.

As for the Selangor government’s lawyer, his argument was that the Selangor state law’s Section 28 offence was not identical to the Penal Code’s Section 377A on unnatural sex and also had different penalties, further arguing that the non-identical aspect meant the man’s application was frivolous and should be dismissed by the Federal Court. (Section 377A makes it an offence to have unnatural sex through the “introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth” of another person.)

The Selangor government’s lawyer also said that Muslims in Malaysia are subject to two sets of laws — general laws enacted by Parliament and state laws of a religious nature enacted by state legislatures, before noting that the Interpretation Act’s Section 59 provided that a person is not to be charged and punished twice for the same offence if it is an offence under more than one written law and arguing that a person — who had committed an offence that can be on trial in either the Shariah court or the civil court — could be charged in either court.

Interpreting the Selangor government’s argument to mean that it was saying there was nothing wrong if a Muslim alleged to have committed unnatural sex is charged only under Section 28 provided he is not also prosecuted under the Section 377A of the Penal Code, the Federal Court went on to say that the Selangor government’s arguments did not sufficiently address the issue of the Selangor state legislature’s powers to even create Section 28 in the first place.

The Selangor government argued the Selangor state legislature had jurisdiction to make laws on Islamic law and that Section 28 was aimed at addressing unnatural sexual acts as acts being against the precepts of Islam.

Among other things, the Federal Court judge said the non-identical provisions of Section 28 and Section 377A was not a conclusive factor as the main issue was on whether the Selangor state legislature had the power to enact Section 28.

While agreeing with the general principle that Muslims in Malaysia are subject to two sets of laws, the Federal Court judge said the state-enacted religious laws binding them must in the first place be constitutionally legislated.

Ultimately, the Federal Court judge said leave should be granted to allow for the applicant to present arguments before a full Federal Court panel on the constitutionality and validity of the Section 28 provision. This will allow for the matter to be fully and substantially examined.

Surendra said no hearing date has been fixed yet for the Federal Court’s hearing on the application.

In the Federal Court, the man was represented by Surendra and the law firm Tan Law Practice, while the Selangor government was represented by Selangor state legal adviser Datuk Masri Mohd Daud with Siti Fatimah Talib and the Selangor state legal adviser’s office.


In Mideast, Religion Looms Large in Corona 'Infodemic'; Many of The More Outlandish Claims That Went Viral in The Middle East Were Religious-Themed

May 27, 2020

BEIRUT: Mass conversions, immunity for Muslims: in the global maelstrom of disinformation spurred by the coronavirus, many of the more outlandish claims that went viral in the Middle East were religious-themed.

Some analysts see this as the natural result of a society trying to come to terms with an unprecedented health pandemic.

"At times of inexplicable crisis and conflict, people revert to their cultural myths and convictions to make sense of what is going on," American University of Beirut (AUB) media studies professor Nabil Dajani said.

"I observe that this is happening everywhere and not only in Islamic regions."

Globally, myths have circulated online including crackpot cures for Covid-19 and conspiracy theories about its alleged origins, with even world leaders touting false claims.

In the Arabic-speaking world, AFP fact checkers have observed a trend for social media posts containing false religious-themed claims about the virus.

A video purporting to show Chinese people converting to Islam because the novel coronavirus "does not affect Muslims" was shared in February 2020.

The clip, however, actually shows Tagalog-speaking people converting to Islam in Saudi Arabia in May 2019 -- months before the first outbreak in China.

Another clip shared online claims to show Chinese people receiving copies of the Koran after the country had lifted a "ban" on the Islamic holy book following the spread of coronavirus.

It is actually a clip that has been circulating since at least 2013 on reports of copies of the Bible being distributed in China.

A video has appeared on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter along with a claim that it shows the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, being heard for the first time in 500 years in Spain, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic.

However, there has been no ban on the adhan in Spain in recent times.

"In our region, religious claims are sometimes in tension with science and medicine," said Sari Hanafi, professor of sociology at AUB.

"But religion is also a main source for social solidarity which is integral to resisting the psychological stress of quarantine."

Beyond religion, AFP fact checkers have also observed a trend of false claims suggesting the collapse of countries in the West as they grapple with the pandemic.

A video named "Italians commit suicide" was shared widely on Arabic social media platforms, purporting to show Italians committing mass suicide in a public square because of coronavirus.

However, the video -- filmed months before the C0vid-19 outbreak -- actually depicts a protest against the Italian far-right.

Social media users also circulated statements falsely attributed to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that only "solutions from the heavens" could save his country.

Dina Matar of the School of Oriental and African Studies in Britain said religious-themed "conspiracy discourse" is not only a regional phenomenon.

"We should not construe this in exceptionalist language that the Middle East is different," she told AFP.

In the region, and elsewhere, these narratives are "symptomatic of practises that have intentionally invoked religion to legitimise political practices", she said.

"Religion has always been used as a political discourse, not only in the Middle East, but in the West as well," she told AFP.

As in other regions, conspiracy discourse does not only focus on religion but also feeds on exaggerated patriotic sentiments, social stigmas and racist stereotypes, according to Hanafi of AUB.

Conspiracy theories claiming the coronavirus was created in US bioweapon labs to hit China and Iran, and misleading claims that refugees attract Covid-19 have featured alongside religious-themed posts on social media, the sociologist added.

This kind of disinformation becomes prevalent "when we feel powerless in the face of reality and do not know how to explain something scientifically", he said.


Pakistani bid to form group of OIC envoys at UN foiled

Baqir Sajjad Syed

May 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The United Arab Emirates and the Maldives together thwarted a Pakistani attempt to set up an informal group of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) envoys at the United Nations on Islamophobia.

A senior diplomatic source told Dawn that Pakistan’s permanent representative at the United Nations Munir Akram highlighted the issue of Islamophobia at a recent virtual meeting of the envoys of OIC member countries at the UN.

It was a routine meeting of the envoys of OIC countries, which discussed other issues as well.

The Pakistan envoy specifically highlighted the plight of the Muslims in India and the people of occupied Kashmir, who are suffering at the hands of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

He told the meeting that Islamophobia in India had become more pronounced during the Covid-19 pandemic and recalled the actions taken by Modi government to change demography of occupied Kashmir by allowing non-Kashmiris to take up permanent residence in the valley.

Amb Akram cautioned the OIC members against being deceived by India.

He called for setting up of a group of OIC countries to consider joint actions for countering Islamophobia.

Maldivian envoy Thilmeeza Hussain, according to Maldivian media, rejected “singling out of India” and said accusing Delhi of Islamophobia would be factually incorrect and detrimental to religious harmony is South Asia.

The UAE envoy, who was chairing the mee­ting, meanwhile, rejected Pakistani req­uest for an informal group on Islam­ophobia saying it was the mandate of the OIC foreign ministers to constitute such groups.

A Pakistani diplomat, who has remained posted at the UN, said formation of such groups was common even at the OIC level and such groups could be constituted by the envoys. He said these groups helped in lobbying efforts, operated as pressure groups and could move resolutions together.

The source said the UAE mission at the UN later told Pakistani mission that the formation of the group was not allowed because of confusion on the rules for establishment of such groups.

Diplomats recall that Pakistan and the Maldives have in the past maintained good working relationship at multilateral forums. The Maldives had withdrawn from Human Rights Council election in 2017 at Pakistan’s request and its withdrawal had paved the way for Pakistan’s success as both were in Asia group.

The Maldives had later the same year invited Pakistan’s prime minister to its 52nd Independence Day celebrations.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday tweeted: “Pakistan has consistently appealed to @UN & @OIC_OCI to condemn Modi’s Hindutva supremacist ideology with relentless Islamophobia & violence/regional instability perpetuated.”


Coronavirus: Holy Land churches reopen in Jerusalem, Bethlehem

26 May 2020

The Holy Land churches revered as the sites of Jesus' birth and death reopened to worshippers and tourists on Tuesday as Palestinian and church authorities eased coronavirus restrictions.

Amid lingering pandemic concerns, Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity is capping access at 50 people at a time and requires that they be free of fever and wear protective masks.

Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection, also reopened its doors, but worshippers will be required to coordinate their visit in advance.

Both churches were closed in March, in a blow to the local tourism industry.

"The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ gave hope to people more than 2,000 years ago, and opening the church today will, I think, give hope to the whole world that hopefully this pandemic will end - not only in Palestine but in the whole world," Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma'ayah told Reuters in Bethlehem.

The town, just south of Jerusalem, is among areas where Palestinians exercise limited self-rule in the West Bank, under Israeli occupation since the 1967 Middle East war.

There have been 423 recorded coronavirus cases and two deaths in the West Bank.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is in the walled Old City of Jerusalem, also captured by Israel in 1967. Its doors were closed throughout the Easter season because of the coronavirus, with only a handful of clerics able to worship inside.

On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said mosques, churches and businesses would reopen on Tuesday in an easing of curbs, given the slow pace of infections.

The reopening of houses of worship, shops and factories coincides with the last day of the Eid El-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Muslim prayers at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound are also expected to resume later this week after nearly a two-month pause, according to a statement published last week by Palestinian religious officials.


Drive thru prayers? This is how Muslims in Canada, US celebrated Eid amid coronavirus restrictions

25 May, 2020

Muslims in Canada and the US embellished their cars with colourful decorations for Eid al-Fitr and attended prayers from the parked vehicles in an effort to capture the holiday spirit this weekend despite strict coronavirus restrictions.

In Canada's Ottawa, a mosque held its first-ever drive-in prayer to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, after finalising the decision last minute on Saturday.

According to local outlet Ottawa Citizen, hundreds of cars filled a parking lot behind the mosque just hours after the announcement. Staying inside their cars, worshippers tuned to a radio station while Imam Muhammad Sulaiman led the Eid prayer.

Similar events were held in the US, with videos emerging on social media showing rows of cars parked side-by-side to replicate the traditional positions of Muslim worshippers standing in line to pray.

Families inside the cars were connected to the Imam via popular video messaging app Zoom, where a lecture was being held prior to the official prayers.

The three-day holiday is usually a time of travel, family get-togethers and lavish daytime feasts after weeks of dawn-to-dusk fasting. But this year many can only celebrate at home with immediate family, with coronavirus fears dampening the holiday spirit.

Many countries have tightened restrictions on movement for Eid Al-Fitr, one of the most important dates in the Islamic calendar, despite having eased curfews earlier this month.

Also in the US on Sunday, New York's Empire State Building was lit in green to celebrate the Eid Al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"Celebrating Eid al-Fitr with an all-green heartbeat this evening!" the official landmark's account wrote on Twitter.

The privately-owned 102-story skyscraper, which usually recieves upwards of 3.8 million visitors annually, is currently closed to visitors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The building regularly shines colours to mark many religious holidays throught the year. Otherwise, it is illuminated in white every night.

"Beautiful, right? It’s good to see that NY can continue to hold together with love and mutual respect for all of our people. It’s what makes this one of the greatest cities in the world," one person wrote in response.


Isis fighter Britons could be charged over ‘conflict selfies’

23 May 2020

Prosecutors have revealed that Britons who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq could be charged over “conflict selfies” – posing with the dead, a particularly grisly habit of many fighters who joined the group.

A number of British Isis recruits posted pictures of themselves on social media alongside bodies or holding decapitated heads, images that prosecutors say depict the “inhumane treatment” of the deceased.

Convictions remain low among the approximately 400 British fighters who have returned from Syria, leaving prosecutors to examine increasingly inventive ways to charge Isis members.

So far just 40 individuals have been prosecuted following their return, partly because of the complexities in retrieving evidence from the battlefield. A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that selfies taken in Syria could form a separate charge if evidence supported it.

Last month Isis recruit Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, from London, who infamously posed with a severed human head in Syria and who was once accused of being Isis executioner Jihadi John, was arrested in Spain after making it out of the Middle East.

Another high-profile Isis member, Imran Khawaja, who posted an image of himself holding a severed head on social media, was later accused of faking his own death in Syria in an attempt to return home undetected.

A CPS spokesperson said that they hadn’t yet prosecuted an individual linked to terrorism or war crimes “solely on the basis of an image”.

EU prosecutors have said they are increasingly developing “cumulative charges” against returning jihadist foreign fighters with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among them.

A statement on Saturday from the law enforcement agency Eurojust said that more than 20 cases in Germany, France, Hungary, Finland and the Netherlands had seen extra charges added to “membership of a terrorist organisation” to increase the possibility of higher sentences.

Nadia Murad, Nobel peace prize laureate and human rights activist for the persecuted Yazidi community, said: “Living without receiving justice is another kind of torture. It is not enough for foreign Isis fighters to be tried as terrorists. This is especially true for those fighters that enslaved Yazidi women and girls.”

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Muslim Body Conducts Last Rites Of Hindu Man In Akola, Nagpur

May 27, 2020

Nagpur: The youth wing of Kutchi Memon Jamaat performed the last rites of a 78-year-old Hindu man, who passed away following a heart attack, in Akola on May 23 as his son refused to take possession of the body.

The man himself was Covid-19 negative while his wife is admitted to Akola GMCH for Covid-19 treatment. The deceased’s son is a resident of Ambazari in Nagpur. He couldn’t be contacted.

On getting the news, the son reached Akola but refused to accept his father’s body allegedly over fear of contracting coronavirus infection and consequently being placed in institutional quarantine for 14 days.

The Baidpura Youth Wing of the Jamaat has performed last rites of six Hindu persons including three unidentified ones so far.

Among the three identified persons, relatives of two had accompanied the group’s volunteers to the crematorium and even lit the pyre. However, in case of 78-year-old man, the volunteers of Kutchi Memon Jamaat had to lit the pyre as the son returned from hospital itself.

Jamaat’s president Javed Zakaria said volunteers have been doing it since April 12 when Akola recorded death of an Assam man who committed suicide at GMCH after testing positive for Covid. The volunteers had buried the man’s body at local qabrastan.

“Positive or negative, we are performing last rites for all. In case of unclaimed bodies of Muslims, expenses are borne by the Jamaat. AMC sponsors cremations of unidentified persons,” Zakaria said.

Besides the 78-year-old man, Zakaria said they performed janaza of a corona positive woman from Akola, a positive man from Akot-Fail, two corona-free persons and cremated one unidentified male from Umri, Akola on Tuesday too.

“We have bid adieu to 65 persons. Of these, 22 were Covid-19 patients. Of them, 16 were buried and six cremated. The six included three unidentified persons,” he said. Zakaria said he and his volunteers carried out the task while fasting during the Ramzan.

Akola Municipal Corporation (AMC) sanitation department head Prashant Rajurkar said the son paid Rs5,000 towards funeral expenses. “We asked him to conduct the last rites but he was not ready to take possession of the body. We are thankful to the Kutchi Memon Jamaat’s youth wing for performing last rites of not just Covid-19 victims but also of unclaimed bodies,” he said.


Locusts Are Halal In Islam And Other Interesting Facts About The Migratory Pests

May 26, 2020

Locusts have invaded western India. The swarms, that entered the country from Pakistan, are spreading like wildfire and have so far invaded five states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. There is an alert for national capital Delhi too.

What makes locusts a concern for farmers and agriculturists is that they can eat almost every type of crop and finish an entire field in few hours.

But there are some interesting facts about the migratory pests. Here are a few of them:

• Locusts are considered halal or lawful food in Islam. According to Salafi Centre in Manchester, locusts are permissible food because it was eaten during the time of the Prophet. The pests were eaten during a military raid, said an authentic hadith, according to Salafi Centre.

• The desert locusts, the sub-species of the grasshopper-like pests, originated in Saudi Arabia and is eaten there. Even the Yemenis savour locusts during Ramzan. There are reports that some European travellers had seen people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco selling, cooking and eating locusts.

• Locust swarms have been recorded in the Arabian peninsula and some African countries since biblical times, but unusual weather patterns exacerbated by climate change have created ideal conditions for insect numbers to surge, scientists say.

• These warms have infested 23 countries across East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia in 2020, the biggest outbreak in 70 years, the World Bank said. Last week, the bank approved a record $500 million in grants and low-interest loans to help countries in Africa and the Middle East fight swarms of desert locusts.

• Adult desert locust swarms can fly up to 150 km a day with the wind and adult insects can consume roughly their own weight in fresh food per day. A single square kilometre swarm can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people.

• They feed on nearly all green vegetation - leaves, flowers, bark, stems, fruit, and seeds - and crops including millet, rice, maize, sorghum, sugarcane, barley, cotton, fruit trees, date palm, vegetables, rangeland grasses, acacia, pines and banana.

• Desert locusts change their behaviour from acting as individuals to becoming part of a group, forming dense and mobile hordes. Swarms can be several hundred square kilometres and extremely dense, with up to 80 million adults in each square kilometre.

• The last major infestation was in 2003-2005 when more than 12 million hectares were treated in west and northwest Africa, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, including food aid.


Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

May 26, 2020

JAMMU: Pakistan violated ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on Tuesday morning, resorting to unprovoked firing and intense mortar shelling targeting forward Indian posts and border villages in the area.

Sharing details of the breach of truce, Jammu-based defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said, “Around 3.30am, Pakistan initiated indiscriminate firing of small arms and shelled mortars along the LoC in Poonch’s Balakote sector. The cross-border exchange of fire continued till 5.10am. The Indian troops retaliated effectively and no injury or damage has been suffered by own side.”

Full report at:


NC leadership should express party’s stand on J&K special status, says top leader

by Bashaarat Masood

May 27, 2020

Seeking to break the party leadership’s silence on abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating the erstwhile state into two Union Territories, a senior National Conference (NC) leader has asked what is stopping his party and its leaders from expressing the NC’s “principled stand” on the issue.

While agreeing that the Centre’s response could be “ugly and brutal” if the party breaks its silence, former J&K minister Aga Roohullah asked his NC colleagues to be “ready for that”.

Roohullah told The Indian Express: “The National Conference has a known principled stand for the last 70 years: autonomy, (Article) 370 and the conditions of accession to India, Constitutional guarantees. All those were violated illegitimately on August 5 [last year, when special status to J&K was withdrawn].”

He said the party does not need “permission from (New) Delhi” to express what happened on August 5, 2019.

“The only apprehension is, it may cause a backlash, in a sense that Delhi will respond in a very ugly (way); their response would be more brutal. But my point is, be ready for that. It is not all about rosy gardens. If you think the political process means only elections, (getting to) the Secretariat and chairs, we are misplaced. We are then not doing justice to our job, to our people.”

A religious cleric with hold among J&K’s Shia population, Roohullah is an important and influential NC leader and has been a three-time legislator.

He said the party has reasoned that it is silent on these issues because the NC working committee could not meet, as several of its members are detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA), or are detained at home.

Roohullah, also a member of the working committee, said: “They (party leaders) have their own reasons; they have their own justifications, to which I partially agree and partially do not. They give justification — they are my colleagues, and I do not separate myself from the party; my colleagues –– that unless they (working committee members) are released, and then meet and collectively decide, we should not speak, as it is the mandate of the working committee.”

But, he said, “we don’t need a mandate from the working committee to express our principled stand. We were betrayed — entire Jammu and Kashmir was betrayed, the instrument of accession was torn apart illegitimately. To make an opinion or to express what happened on August 5, you don’t need the committee’s mandate. What you need the working committee for is to decide the methodology — how we go about it, what kind of response (party should give), the kind of reply, process, the methods we adopt…”

After he was released from jail in March, former J&K chief minister and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah had said that he would talk politics later — “let’s first fight this coronavirus”, he had said. But Roohullah asked if the pandemic has not stopped the Union government, what is “stopping us”.

Party chief Farooq Abdullah has also been silent on the issue of abrogation of J&K’s special status since his release from detention.

“The other side, which is New Delhi, as Ram Madhav put it, has taken it to its logical conclusion. They did everything they wanted to do and turned us into dust. They are doing their job, (but) what stops us,” he asked. “They are not stopped by the pandemic…what stops us? This pandemic isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Whatever happens during that course, whatever is happening, we may not even be in a position to respond.”

On Sunday, Roohullah had tweeted his response to an article written by his party colleague Tanvir Sadiq, who is also Omar Abdullah’s political adviser. Sadiq had written that it is “time for reconciliation and reaching out to people of Jammu and Kashmir”, for which a beginning could be made by releasing “all political prisoners arrested post-August 5, revisiting of domicile laws and lifting of curbs on the internet and telecommunication”.

He had also called for the beginning of a political process once the pandemic ends.

Roohullah told The Indian Express: “I will not jump the bridges, it is too early. I will accept it as his (Sadiq’s) personal opinion; and that whatever he said, whatever he wrote was in his personal capacity. It would be too immature to say that it is the opinion of every one, but I feel if somebody give his opinion, which I feel is not good or, to be more blunt, is betrayal of our conscience, to our principles, I made my own opinions with regards to that.

“I take it (Omar’s statement) very sincerely. He said we have a pandemic around and it is not time for politics. Bu then my question is to every one of my colleagues: why talk about reconciliation then? Why talk about alternatives then? If the pandemic is equally there for (Article) 370, pandemic is pretty much there about reconciliation, which is opposite of 370. So if you want us to be silent for certain time, stay silent then; don’t give these contradictory opinions.”

Full report at:


Charge sheets filed against 82 foreign Jamaat participants

Karn Pratap Singh and Richa Banka

May 27, 2020

New Delhi: Delhi Police on Tuesday filed 20 charge sheets against 82 foreigners who allegedly attended a religious congregation organised in March by the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary group, at its headquarters in New Delhi’s NIzamuddin area, in violation of their visa conditions and the Indian government’s guidelines on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

Police said that the Central government has cancelled the visa of the 82 foreigners and blacklisted them.

The headquarters, known as the Markaz, went on to emerge as the biggest Covid-19 cluster in India, leading to a spurt in the rate of infection in the city.

The charge sheets, running to 15,499 pages, were submitted in the afternoon before duty magistrate Saema Jamil at the Saket court by the crime branch. The court is expected to decide on cognizance of the charge sheets on June 12.

A charge sheet is a document that mentions charges and evidence collected against people accused of committing an offence. The court starts a trial only after taking cognizance of the charge sheet.

The 82 foreigners against whom the police filed the charge sheet are from 20 different countries. They include 14 from Fiji, 10 from Saudi Arabia, eight Algerians and seven each from Brazil and China, sixeachfrom Sudan and the Philippines, five from the US, and four from Afghanistan.

Police also filed charge sheet against two each from Australia, Kazakhistan, Morocco and the UK and one each from Ukraine, Egypt, Russia, Belgium, Jordan, France and Tunisia.

They all have been booked under Section 14 (b) of the Foreigners Act, Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 51 of the Disaster Management Act and four sections of the Indian Penal Code, 188, 269, 270 and 271, for violating visa conditions, lockdown rules, spreading the virus, and breaking quarantine rule, Delhi Police said in a statement.

“These foreign nationals had entered India on tourist visa and had participated in the Markaz illegally. In addition to violating the provisions of visa, these foreign nationals also led to a situation where a highly infectious disease such as coronavirus (Covid-19) infection spread and threatened the lives of the inmates and the general public at large,” the police statement read.

The punishment for various offences under the penal provisions ranges from six months to eight years of imprisonment.

More than 900 foreign nationals belonging to 34 different countries have been questioned in the case after they purportedly attended the religious congregation despite having entered the country on a tourist visa, the conditions of which prohibits the visa holder from engaging in any missionary activities, crime branch officials associated with the probe said.

“The charge sheets have been filed against 82 foreigners since there were enoughevidenceagainst them. Charge sheets are being prepared against other foreign nationals, who are accused in the case, country-wise. The remaining charge sheets will be submitted in the next few days,” said a senior crime branch official, requestinganonymity.

TheHC was also informed by advocate Rahul Mehra, standing counsel of the Delhi government (criminal), that more charge sheets would be filed within this week against the foreigners.

The crime branch had filed a criminal case against Tablighi Jamat chief Maulana Saad and six other top officials on March 31 for defying a series of government directives, which curbed religious and large gatherings, issued to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the national capital.

Charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and criminal conspiracy were added to the case after some of the attendees of the religious congregation died due to the virus. Police are yet to summon Saad for interrogation, but have got a lookout notice issued against him to prevent him from leaving the country.

Full report at:


57 Foreigners Linked To Islamic Sect Violated Social Distancing, Rules Haryana Court

May 27, 2020

Nuh, Haryana: Fifty-seven foreign nationals linked to the Islamic sect - Tableeghi Jamaat - have been found guilty of violating social distancing norms by a court in Haryana. While announcing the judgement, the court also ordered the state government to ensure their safe return to their home countries.

The court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) in Nuh district, about 330 km from state capital Haryana, was last week hearing a case filed by the district police.

According to the police, these members were found in a building on April 2 at Tauru Road, flouting social distancing norms that were a part of a district magistrate order on March 21.

A case was filed against them under sections 269, 270, 188, 120B of the Indian Penal Code or IPC and 14B, C Foreigner Act, 03-03-1987 Epidemic Diseases Act.

The accused were charge-sheeted under section 188 of the IPC and they pleaded guilty.

While holding them guilty, the court order read: "Accused has stated that he is a foreign national and he was not aware of the orders passed by the district magistrate of Nuh. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic and considering the allegations made against the accused, I sentence the accused to pay a fine of Rs 1000 upon accused for commission of offence under section 188 of IPC."

The order further says that if the accused fail to pay the fine amount, they will further undergo imprisonment of one week.

The court has ordered the Haryana government to take necessary measures for the return of 57 foreign nationals, since out of 59 - named by police- two accused are from Lucknow and Nepal.

"Since the accused is foreigner, authorities are directed through state of Haryana in the presence of learned APP that measures be taken for his safe return and SOP in regard to travel, and medical examination, in view of pandemic be followed."

The counsel for the accused, advocate Shaukat Ali, said: "The court deleted all these sections except the section 188 of IPC which is disobedience to order issued by a civil servant. We recorded the confession of our clients and urged the court for a speedy trial since the visa had expired for a few and for some the expiry date was close."

"Since the prosecution could not prove that the travel documents or visa of my clients were illegal, the court deleted the charges under Foreigner Act. Also the court was convinced that there was no ill intention of my clients to spread this disease," he added.

Full report at:


Owner rejects Indian claim of ‘spy’ pigeon’s capture

Abid Mehdi

May 27, 2020

SIALKOT: After the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) claimed they had captured another “Pakistani spy pigeon”, a Pakistani villager refuted the allegation, saying he is the owner of the pigeon.

Habibullah, a resident of Bagga-Shakargarh village, situated along the Sialkot Working Boundary, said he was the owner of this pigeon recently “arrested” by India.

He said the second pigeon of the pair was with him. “Yes, this is my pet pigeon as it can never be a spy or a terrorist,” he said.

On Monday, Indian news outlets reported that a pigeon “with a prominent pink patch and a tag on its leg” was logged at a police station as a “suspected Pakistani spy”. The reports said the pigeon was suspected of being part of an “espionage attempt from Pakistan” and that an investigation has been launched into the matter.

According to the reports, police records showed the pigeon flew into the house of a woman in the Chadwal area, who caught it and handed it over to the BSF. The latter then handed it over to police for further investigation.

Police quoted the woman as saying the pigeon had a ring around its foot that had numbers inscribed on it.

However, Habibullah said he had a passion for pigeons and owned a dozen. He said that on Eid he flew several pigeons to celebrate the occasion in his village.

He said his village was about 4km from Indian territory, adding that he had fixed rings around the feet of his pigeons. The villager said he had specially gotten his mobile number inscribed on the rings.

He said the pigeon was an innocent pet bird and was a symbol of peace, love and tolerance.

Habibullah said displaying mental aggression, the Indians had declared his pigeon a Pakistani spy.

The villager urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return the pigeon to Pakistan with “full protocol and due respect”. He said India should avoid such blame games and refrain from victimising innocent birds. He also urged the world to take notice of India’s “highhandedness”.

Meanwhile, residents of Bagga protested against the arrest of the pet and raised slogans against New Delhi.

Full report at:


Southeast Asia 

Eid in time of pandemic: Quiet and lonely but modest and solemn

May 27 2020

Mass prayers, big family gatherings and banquets fit for a king. In any other year, this would be the norm for Idul Fitri celebrations in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population.

This year, however, the silaturahmi (communal bonds) tradition of gathering with relatives during the annual holiday was carried out virtually under large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to contain the spread of COVID-19.

For Adhytia Pahlawan, a 26-year-old who started his job in Jakarta in September 2019, this year marked the first time he celebrated Idul Fitri away from his family in Lumajang, East Java.

“I could only keep the silaturahmi through video call. My mother really wanted me to be home as she misses me, but the situation does not allow me to,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Adhytia said although he felt somewhat isolated and longed for his fami...


Coronavirus traps poor foreign workers in deserted Maldives

May 26, 2020

MALE: Tens of thousands of impoverished foreign labourers have been left stranded and ostracised in one of the world's most densely packed cities as the tourist paradise of the Maldives battles coronavirus.

The turquoise waters and pristine beaches that draw honeymoon couples from around the world have been empty for weeks since a government order to close all resorts. That has left an army of migrant workers jobless.

Like Singapore, which recorded a large number of coronavirus cases among migrants living in tightly-packed dorms, the Maldives is heavily dependent on foreign labour.

About half of the 150,000 people in the two square kilometres that make up the capital, Male, are workers from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka living in teeming alleys that are a haven for the virus.

"There is huge uncertainty and panic," said Zakir Hossain, 39, who had worked in a Male restaurant until March's shutdown.

He said he has not been paid for more than two months.

"We are worried about the disease. All the Bangladeshi workers live in congested conditions," he said.

Like many migrants -- who share rooms and even beds between shifts -- Hossain lives in a single room on a backstreet with four other Bangladeshis.

Outside, security forces stop the labourers going out on the streets.

Authorities acknowledge conditions in Male for foreign workers are poor, and say they are moving thousands into better housing out of the capital.

But opposition politicians have criticised the plans, labelling the treatment of such workers as "inhuman".

The Maldives has recorded nearly 1,400 coronavirus infections among a population of 340,000, a much higher ratio than neighbouring Sri Lanka with 22 million people.

Some experts have warned the Maldives risks thousands more cases unless action is taken. Authorities say the infection spreads three times faster in migrant communities than in the local population.

Fears are growing for the health and welfare of these foreign workers, who are often brought in to clear refuse, clean dishes and do other essential jobs that locals reject.

Four coronavirus deaths have been reported so far, including one Bangladeshi, but rumours that hundreds of foreigners have the virus have compounded concerns among migrants.

Many are also worried about their families back in Bangladesh, also in the grip of a pandemic lockdown amid rising deaths.

"We need money to survive. We need our work," said Hossain, who managed to send about 80 percent of his $180 a month wage back to his wife and four children before the outbreak.

But others were not so fortunate. Anwar Hosain, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi carpenter and father of five, said he was owed about $1,800 by his employers.

"My wife calls me every day and cries. What can I do?"

The government has moved 3,000 foreign workers to a temporary shelter on the industrial island of Gulhi Falhu outside Male.

Thousands more are to follow but the main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has described the facilities as prisons. Labourers are barely allowed out and their rooms do not even have fans in the peak summer heat, when temperatures climb above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).

"The treatment of these expatriates, mostly Bangladeshi nationals, is inhuman," PPM spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef told AFP.

Government spokesman Mabrook Azeez said authorities had built the housing in a bid to ease overcrowding in Male.

"This is not the condition we want our labourers to live in," he told AFP.

Roughly a thousand Bangladeshis staying illegally in the Maldives have been repatriated, minister for foreign affairs Abdullah Shahid said on Sunday. India has taken back 4,000 people who lost their jobs.

Those left are increasingly despondent.

Full report at:


Muslims celebrate major holiday amid curfews, virus fears

By Joseph Krauss and Niniek Karmini

May 26, 2020

JERUSALEM — Muslims around the world on Sunday began celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a normally festive holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, with millions under strict stay-at-home orders and many fearing renewed coronavirus outbreaks.

The three-day holiday is usually a time of travel, family get-togethers and lavish daytime feasts after weeks of dawn-to-dusk fasting. But this year many of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will have to pray at home and make due with video calls.

Some countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, have imposed round-the-clock holiday curfews. But even where many restrictions have been lifted, celebrations will be subdued because of fears of the pandemic and its economic fallout.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, is under a complete lockdown, with residents only permitted to leave their homes to purchase food and medicine.

In Jerusalem, Israeli police said they broke up an “illegal demonstration” and arrested two people outside the Al-Aqsa mosque, which Muslim authorities have closed for prayers since mid-March and will not reopen until after the holiday. Worshippers who tried to enter the compound scuffled with the police.

Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and would ordinarily welcome tens of thousands of worshippers during the Eid. The hilltop compound is also the holiest site for Jews, who know it as the Temple Mount. The site has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East, allowed communal prayers at some mosques but cancelled the annual mass Eid prayers in Tehran led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran has reported over 130,000 cases and more than 7,000 deaths.

The virus causes mild to moderate flu-like symptoms in most patients, who recover within two to three weeks. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness or death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health conditions.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, has reported nearly 22,000 infections and 1,350 fatalities, the most in Southeast Asia. Lockdown orders intended to contain the pandemic mean there will be no congregational prayers at mosques or even open fields, no family reunions, no relatives bearing gifts for children.

“This outbreak is not just dampening spirits of Eid, but also has made the tradition entirely different,” said Andieka Rabbani, a university student in Jakarta. This year, like many Indonesians, he will only see family and friends through video calls.

In neighboring Muslim-majority Malaysia, businesses have mostly reopened after weeks of lockdown. But mass gatherings are still banned and people are not allowed to travel back to their hometowns for the holiday. Police have turned away more than 5,000 cars and have warned of strict penalties for those who try to sneak home.

Malaysians are only allowed to visit relatives who live nearby, and only on Sunday, with gatherings limited to 20 people. Mosques have reopened but are limited to small congregations of up to 30. Malaysia has reported 7,185 infections and 115 deaths.

Rohaizam Zainuddin said he felt blessed he could celebrate Eid with his elderly parents living nearby, but his sister in another state could not return home.

“We are frustrated that celebration this year is not the same,” he said. “But there is no point getting angry. We just have to accept it, life goes on.”

He and his family members are still wearing new clothes and preparing traditional dishes. Plates of cookies are set out for any visitors, alongside a thermometer and hand sanitizer.

In Pakistan, Eid is being celebrated in the shadow of the coronavirus and in the wake of a passenger plane crash near Karachi on Friday that killed 97 people.

For the first time, Pakistan is celebrating Eid countrywide on the same day, ending an annual controversy between rival committees over the moon sighting that signals the start of the holiday.

Pakistan has taken measures to control the spread of the coronavirus since mid-March, but Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to close mosques during Ramadan despite pleas from doctors and a rising number of infections. Pakistan has reported more than 52,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths.

More than 1,000 worshippers gathered and prayed shoulder-to-shoulder in an open field in Karachi on Sunday, with only a few of them wearing masks.

In neighboring Afghanistan, the government and Taliban insurgents announced a three-day cease-fire in honor of the holiday.

Some 2,000 Muslims gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers Sunday at a sports complex in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, carefully spaced apart and wearing masks, according to France-Info radio. Traditional embraces were not allowed.

France is allowing religious services to resume for the first time since March, but France’s leading Muslim organization, CFCM, advised mosques to stay closed Sunday. The CFCM said the government decree didn’t give mosques enough time to procure masks and hand gel to ensure that gatherings don’t turn into super-spreading events.

In Sudan, which has reported more than 3,600 cases and 146 deaths, thousands of people gathered for prayers in mosques and open areas, defying a curfew and other restrictions imposed by authorities, local media reported.

Virus restrictions remain in place in the mostly-Muslim Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Mosques have reopened in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, but worshippers must wear masks and practice social distancing, and older individuals were urged to continue praying at home.

Full report at:


Arab World

Islamic State bombs disguised as video game controllers uncovered in Iraq

25 May 2020

Islamic State scattered video game controllers set to explode at the push of a button in Yazidi homes as they were expelled from Iraq, a new film about the persecuted group’s brave minesweepers has revealed.

A photograph seen by the Telegraph shows a controller that, had it been picked up by a child and played with, would have detonated four bombs and destroyed the house where it was found, in northern Iraq.

It is one of a series of bombs disguised as household items unveiled in a new film covering the tense work of Yazidi minesweepers in Iraq.

The documentary, Into the Fire, follows Hana Khider, a Yazidi woman and team leader from the Mines Advisory Group charity.

“The controller was in a house in Sinjar district and was attached to four large explosive charges placed around the building, enough to completely destroy the house,” Jonathan Caswell, a...


Al Jazeera continues to ‘provide a platform to bigoted and violent extremists’

May 26, 2020

LONDON: Al Jazeera’s recent interview with terrorist-designated group Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh, as well as its podcast glorifying killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has stirred the ongoing debate surrounding the network’s alleged promotion of terrorism.

The exposure given to the controversial figures has prompted experts into stating that the station and news site continue to provide extremists with a platform to present themselves on.

“The fact that Qatar’s Al Jazeera Arabic continues to provide a platform to bigoted and violent extremists, including terrorists, obviously undermines the Qatari government’s claim to be a steady force for tolerance and coexistence,” Washington director for international affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, David Weinberg, told Arab News.

The station’s interview with Haniyeh served as a stage to threaten Israel with the fact that Hamas was still capable of kidnapping more Israeli soldiers, while the podcast allowed the Soleimani character a free rein to explain his support of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and why he helped Syrian President Bashar Assad massacre his own people.

These were not the only controversies the network found itself embroiled in this month.

Last week, Al Jazeera’s Arabic news site carried a headline reading, “Martyr shot by Occupation forces in the West Bank for being accused of trying to run over soldiers,” to report on a Palestinian man who was shot while attempting to ram into Israeli soldiers with his car.

Arab News


On one of its shows, Al Jazeera issued a poll asking viewers to vote if they support Daesh ‘victories’ in Iraq and Syria; of 54,000 votes, 81% voted ‘Yes’

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“Every time Al Jazeera calls somebody — anybody — a martyr, it violates the journalistic ethic of impartiality. What makes it much, much worse is that Al Jazeera consistently uses the term martyr to glorify terrorists, provided the civilians those violent extremists are trying to murder happen to be Israeli Jews,” Weinberg said.

“Encouraging slaughter of this sort does nobody any favors, not Palestinians or Israelis, neither Jews nor Arabs.”

“Al-Qaeda in Syria? Flattered by Al Jazeera. The Taliban? Flattered by Al Jazeera. Iranian proxies like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Flattered by Al Jazeera. Al-Qaeda financier Muthanna Al-Dhari? Flattered by Al Jazeera. Media practices like these are unacceptable, immoral, and bad for people of all faiths and all nations,” he added.

Al Jazeera has a turbulent past when it comes to extremist and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Last year, its youth channel AJ+ Arabic drew widespread condemnation over an alleged Holocaust denial video that claimed Jews exaggerated the scale of the genocide in order to establish Israel.

The chairman of UK nonprofit organization Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, Ghanem Nuseibeh, told Arab News: “Al Jazeera has a direct editorial input from the Diwan in Doha (the sovereign body and administrative office of the Emir of Qatar), with the Arabic channel focused on promoting the extremist ideological discourse. This is their core constituency.

“It is particularly troubling that Al Jazeera Arabic website still to this day continues to host articles and videos of interviews by proscribed groups in the UK such as Al-MuHajjiroun, and freely accessible in the UK,” he added.

Arab News


#AlJazeera has time and again given controversial figures a space to present themselves on, prompting experts to call the station a “platform to bigoted and violent extremists, terrorist”

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Earlier this month, a Shariah expert from the Qatari Ministry of Religious Endowments advocated the beating of women in an interview on the network, stating that they “need to be subdued by muscles.” And this was not the first time.

The station has also broadcasted a religious program hosted by extremist cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the terrorist-designated Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader. Al-Qaradawi, an outspoken Hamas loyalist who was featured in Arab News’ “Preachers of Hate” series, issues fatwas riddled with comments advocating suicide bomb attacks and praises to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler for “punishing the Jews,” on Al Jazeera’s media platforms.

Arab News


#AlJazeera has a turbulent past when it comes to extremist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, through it’s airing of #PreacherofHate Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s sermons riling against Jews and calling for violence and attacks against them

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“Al Jazeera’s motto is, ‘the opinion and the other opinion,’ but when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood’s bigots and violent extremists, Al Jazeera Arabic still just presents one opinion, giving ikhwani (brotherhood) intolerance an unquestioning platform for broadcasting into millions of homes around the world,” Weinberg said.

The media network has also been called a “useful tool” for Qatar’s ruling elite notorious for their sympathies with the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist and extremist groups. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in order to pressure it to halt its alleged terrorism financing and shut down the network.

US Embassy cables acquired by UK newspaper The Guardian in 2009 proved just how interconnected the Qatari government and Al Jazeera are.

“Al Jazeera, the most watched satellite television station in the Middle East, is heavily subsidized by the Qatari government and has proved itself a useful tool for the station’s political masters … Despite (the government of Qatar’s) protestations to the contrary, Al Jazeera remains one of Qatar’s most valuable political and diplomatic tools,” the cable read.

Al Jazeera tangoes with terrorism

Favoring Daesh

• Do you support the Daesh group’s victories in Iraq and Syria?

• More than 54,000 people voted on the official page of ‘Opposite Direction.’ 81.6 percent voted ‘Yes,’ while 18.4 percent voted ‘No.’

Sectarian discourse

• Al-Qassim said: ‘Why do you blame the regime? I want to ask you. Al-Nubl and Al-Zahraa are Shiite colonies in the heart of Sunni land. Kafarayah and Fu’aa are still living among you. Why don’t you expel them out as they did to you and curse the ones who gave birth to them?’

Party for a terrorist

• Al Jazeera host: ‘Brother Samir, we would like to celebrate your birthday with you. You deserve even more than this. I think that 11,000 prisoners – if they can see this program now – are celebrating your birthday with you. Happy birthday, brother Samir.’

Al-Julani interview

• Interviewer: ‘What was the strategy of Al-Qaeda’s Sheikh Osama bin Laden?’

• Al-Julani: ‘He wanted to fight the Americans on their own turf, and that way to drag them into Afghanistan – because we were unable to send armies to (the United States). Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s goal in fighting the Americans was not to put an end to the American presence…’

Boosting terrorism

• ’We call upon the Islamic nation to rise up, and not make do with a futile economic boycott, in the face of this affront to our honorable Prophet. We call upon them to drive out the Danish embassies and ambassadors from the lands of the Muslims, and to expel them from the Muslim countries. They should take serious and immediate action to burn down the offices of the newspapers that affronted our Prophet, and to bomb them, so that body parts go flying, and with these body parts, Allah Almighty will quench the believers’ thirst for revenge.’


Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia to ease restrictions, restart business, return to ‘normal’

26 May 2020

Saudi Arabia will ease coronavirus restrictions, resume some economic and commercial activities, and return to “normalcy,” as per the approval of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Kingdom's Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced on Tuesday.

The Minister of Health Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah said on Monday that the Kingdom was going to begin a new phase of its coronavirus strategy from May 28 and that it would be based on two pillars: Health care system's capacity of accommodating critical cases and the policy of expanding testing and early detection.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

The MOI set the dates for the stages of re-opening the Kingdom, according to state news agency SPA.

First stage: Starting from May 28 until May 30, Saudi Arabia will:

Allow movement between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. in all areas of the Kingdom, except in Mecca.

Continue to allow movement during curfew hours only with permits obtained from the official "Tawakkalna" app.

Allow people to walk within their residential neighborhoods during curfew hours, given that they practice social distancing and follow precautionary health measures.

Allow movement between regions and cities in the Kingdom in private cars, except during curfew hours.

Allow economic and commercial activities to resume in retail and wholesale shops and malls.

Continue shut down of activities, during which social distancing cannot be achieved, such as in beauty salons, barber shops, sports clubs, health clubs, entertainment centers, and cinemas.

Second stage: Starting from May 31 until June 20, Saudi Arabia will:

Allow movement between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. in all areas of the Kingdom, except in Mecca.

Continue to allow movement during curfew hours only with permits obtained from the official "Tawakkalna" app.

Allow people to walk within their residential neighborhoods during curfew hours, given that they practice social distancing and follow precautionary health measures.

Allow Friday prayers and all congregational prayers (Jamaa'a) in the Kingdom's mosques, except mosques in Mecca.

Lift the suspension of workplace attendance, and allow all employees in ministries, government entities and private sector companies to return to working from their offices, given that they follow strict precautionary guidelines.

Lift the suspension on domestic flights, given adherence to precautionary measures set by the civil aviation authority and the Ministry of Health.

Lift the suspension on travel between regions in the Kingdom using various transport methods.

Allow serving food and beverages in restaurants and cafes.

Continue shut down of activities, during which social distancing cannot be achieved, such as in beauty salons, barber shops, sports clubs, health clubs, entertainment centers, and cinemas

Continue imposing social distancing measures in public areas at all time.

Continue to ban social gatherings of more than fifty people, such as weddings and funerals.

Third stage: Starting from June 21, Saudi Arabia will:

Return to “normalcy” in all areas of the Kingdom, except Mecca, and restore conditions to how life was before implementing curfews.

Continue to enforce social distancing.


The first phase measures will be implemented in Mecca between May 31 and June 20.

The second phase measures will be implemented in Mecca starting from June 21.

Friday prayers and all congregational prayers (Jamaa'a) will continue to be held in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, while limited to the Imams and the employees of the Grand Mosque.

Continued ban:

The suspension of Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or visiting the Prophet's Mosque in Medina continues to be enforced. The ministry said this decision will be reviewed regularly in light of health-related developments.

The suspension of international flights continues until further notice.

The Ministry of Interior said that all the announced decisions will be regularly reviewed by the Ministry of Health to decide whether to extend any stage or re-impose strict precautionary measures as per the health-related requirements.

Full report at:


Saudis, expats ready to restart their lives, vow to stick to health guidelines


May 26, 2020

RIYADH: Saudis and expats on Tuesday cautiously welcomed the government’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions, saying the risk was not over and people should strictly abide by the Health Ministry’s guidelines to keep the coronavirus at bay.

The restrictions will be lifted in three phases, during which the authorities will monitor and assess the situation and introduce changes if needed.

People said they were excited to see their lives getting back to normal after weeks of restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the Kingdom.

Abdulelah Hamed, a 28-year-old Saudi pharmacist, welcomed the new decisions, saying that strict measures were in favor of the public’s safety.

“Though it was a chaotic period, our government chose to help and educate us so that we emerge from this crisis unscarred and prepared citizens.”

Saudi journalist Nouf Al-Oufi, 30, said that the decisions depend on the awareness of society.

“The Kingdom has taken necessary actions since the beginning of the spread of the virus and was one of the leading countries in taking early measures to protect the health of its citizens.”

She said: “The past three months have served as lessons for citizens on how to take care of their health, the health of their families.”

Shahana Parveen, a teacher at the New Middle East International School in Riyadh, said: “We are very happy that the lockdown will end soon and things will get back to normal.”

She said, however, that risk remained. “It is of utmost importance to comply with the ministry’s health and hygiene guidelines. We should continue maintaining social distance, avoid gatherings, wear masks and sanitize hands and utensils.”

Murshid Kamal, convener at the India Islamic Cultural Center, Middle East region, told Arab News: “It’s a welcome move by the government. Saudi Arabia has done pretty well compared to other countries in the world. I urge community members to take care while going out in terms of hygiene and maintain the highest degree of social distancing norms to combat COVID-19.”

Mohammed Aslam Jameel, a travel supervisor at Global Travel Solutions in Riyadh, said: “It is highly appreciated that the government is taking measures in an excellent way to ease the curfew in phases and allowing reopening of workplaces, mosques and other essential businesses.”

“It is commendable that they have analyzed the situation and taken appropriate steps to boost public morale,” he said.

Since domestic air operations will resume on June 1 as announced, Jameel hoped international flights would also begin soon.

M. Arshad Ali Khan, a schoolteacher in Riyadh, said: “The whole world is facing a challenging time due to COVID-19. This is a health emergency and an unprecedented situation. People are confined at home, their work and offices are closed. They were experiencing mental stress and anxiety, especially expatriates in the Kingdom.”

“At this juncture I would like to thank and appreciate the role of the Saudi government and also welcome the decision returning to normal life with the blessing of Almighty. I urge people to follow the Health Ministry’s guidelines and avoid nonessential travel, gathering, follow all government instructions, and minimize outdoor activity,” he said.

He also emphasized basic health precautions, especially frequent hand washing with soap and water, the practice of good coughing/sneezing etiquette, and the heeding of all security advice.

Zafar Hasan said: “As the coronavirus is still spreading with cases reported daily, I don’t think it is necessary to work from the office; we could work virtually like before to continue working from home.”

Full report at:


Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia allows mosques to reopen for Friday prayers

26 May 2020

Saudi Arabia will allow mosques to open for Friday prayers, state TV reported on Tuesday, as the Kingdom eases restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Mosques will be authorized to open 20 minutes before Friday prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, state TV said on Twitter, citing the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

Saudi authorities said on Monday that restrictions would be lifted in three phases, culminating in a curfew ending - with the exception of the holy city of Mecca - from June 21.

The haj and umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of travelers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia confirmed it would resume domestic flights within the Kingdom starting May 31 via its national airlines, according to a statement from the Kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, more than two months since suspending local travel as part of measures to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia reported on Tuesday 1,931 new coronavirus cases and 12 deaths, bringing the total number of infections in the Kingdom to 76,726 and the death toll to 411.

Full report at:


ISIS Prisoners Threaten U.S. Mission in Northeastern Syria

By Eric Schmitt

May 25, 2020

WASHINGTON — A year after American-backed forces seized the last remnant of territory under Islamic State rule in Syria, some 10,000 captured ISIS fighters in Kurdish-run wartime prisons pose “a significant risk” to the United States mission in the country’s northeast, military commanders say.

Hardened ISIS fighters protesting the dire conditions in their makeshift confines, including the potential spread of Covid-19, have rioted at the largest prison in Hasaka twice in the last two months. The uprisings were quelled, but they underscore the “high-impact risk of a mass breakout,” American commanders told investigators from the Pentagon inspector general’s office.

These findings, contained in the inspector general’s latest quarterly report on the U.S. military missions in Iraq and Syria, issued earlier this month, represent new and alarming warnings for an American counterterrorism mission that already faces renewed attacks from resurgent ISIS guerrillas, pressure from Russian troops supporting the army of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and concerns that the coronavirus could infect their own ranks.

These concerns have limited operations of the 500 remaining U.S. troops in northeastern Syria.

Only a handful of Covid-19 deaths have been reported in the country’s northeast, and none so far in the prisons. But humanitarian assistance workers express fear that a rapid outbreak is a real possibility given the region’s war-battered health infrastructure and the severe overcrowding at its prisons.

“The humanitarian situation in places of detention and in camps in Syria’s northeast was dire even before the threat of Covid-19 appeared,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the Near and Middle East director for the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We’re extremely worried about all detainees during this pandemic.”

Mr. Carboni added: “Their living conditions make them extremely vulnerable should the virus enter and spread. We know that overcrowded, unhygienic and poorly ventilated cells create the perfect conditions for that to happen.”

The Syrian Democratic Forces, whose fighters are the Pentagon’s partner on the ground in the yearslong campaign against the Islamic State, operate a constellation of about two dozen ad hoc detention sites for captive ISIS fighters, including converted schoolhouses and a former Syrian government prison at Hasaka, the site of the recent riots.

The prisons hold about 10,000 men, of whom about 8,000 are locals — Syrians or Iraqis — and about 2,000 are from 50 other nations whose home governments have balked at repatriating them. Scores of those men are Europeans, from countries like Belgium, Britain, France and Germany, but far more come from across the Middle East, including Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

Many European law enforcement officials fear that if they repatriate their extremist citizens, they would be unable to convict them or keep them locked up for a long time. Some countries have stripped suspected ISIS fighters of their citizenship. The scant repatriations that have taken place over the past several months — including by Kazakhstan, Oman and Tunisia — stopped altogether given Covid-19 restrictions, American officials said.

The Kurdish-led force that holds the ISIS fighters does not have the capacity to investigate or try them, American officials say. Western counterterrorism officials say the longer the foreign fighters are held, the more they become even further radicalized and the greater potential for mass breakouts.

The Kurds also operate more than a dozen camps for families displaced by the conflict that hold tens of thousands of people, many of them non-Syrian wives and children of Islamic State fighters. These include the sprawling Al Hol camp about 25 miles southeast of Hasaka, where some 70,000 people have been living in increasingly dire conditions.

Counterterrorism officials fear that these camps not only enable ISIS communications and financial networks, but are also ideological breeding grounds for the next generation of Islamic extremists.

In the months following the Islamic State’s loss last March of its last remnant in northeast Syria, the village of Baghouz, American and Kurdish officials said the Kurds could not sustain security long-term at the makeshift facilities it was using.

That became clear in October, when the Turkish military moved into northern Syria after getting a green light from President Trump. Turkey targeted the American-backed Kurds, calling into question the Kurds’ ability to secure the ISIS fighters. About 100 fighters escaped in the turmoil, but Kurdish officials said they recaptured the majority of them.

Then came the riots at the prison in Hasaka, which holds between 4,000 and 5,000 captives. Media reports said that on March 29, ISIS militants began breaking down doors and digging holes in walls between cells. The rioting was brought under control the next morning, but violence erupted again with gunfire heard inside and ambulances called in to help the wounded.

Five weeks later, in early May, ISIS fighters briefly took control of the same prison. The riot ended a day later when Kurdish officials and members of the American-led coalition negotiated with the militants.

“ISIS prisoners significantly outnumber the S.D.F. guards, and the generally poor conditions in these jails are driving detainees to take greater risks to break out,” said Nicholas Heras, head of the Institute for the Study of War’s Middle East security program. “ISIS also has a longstanding policy to seek to break out its fighters from prison, which makes these S.D.F. facilities a focus of ISIS efforts to replenish its ranks in Syria and Iraq.”

The Coronavirus Outbreak

Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

Updated May 26, 2020

How can I protect myself while flying?

If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

Can I go to the park?

Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.

How do I take my temperature?

Taking one’s temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as “normal” temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don’t have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.

Should I wear a mask?

The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

What should I do if I feel sick?

If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

How do I get tested?

If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.

How can I help?

Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, told Congress in March that the detention of foreign fighters and ongoing attempts at radicalization in the displacement camps were parts of the same problem.

American and allied forces were helping to mitigate prison security risks by training and equipping Kurdish guards and helping construct more secure structures, General McKenzie said. But he called those efforts “a tactical-level Band-Aid, not a long-term solution.”

The Pentagon has increased the amount it will spend to repair, renovate and, beginning this year, build new detention structures, up to $20 million from $10 million, with a $4 million cap on any single project. The pandemic delayed site-survey teams from visiting potential locations, but Pentagon officials said initial construction of new prisons could start in the coming months.

In addition, the Defense Department is paying the Syrian Democratic Forces between $500,000 and $1 million in stipends for guard salaries and other costs, according to Pentagon officials. Kurdish leaders have expressed appreciation for the aid, but echo General McKenzie’s long-term assessment.

Full report at:


Two ISIS regional leaders killed during joint raid in Syria, coalition says

May 23, 2020

A joint raid with Syrian Democratic Forces and members of the U.S.-led coalition in northeastern Syria last week left two Islamic State leaders dead, Operation Inherent Resolve said.

The terrorist group’s governor of North Baghdad, known as Abu Ali al-Baghdadi, was killed in Deir al-Zour province on May 17, along with a senior logistics and supply official known as Abu Ammar, the coalition said in a statement Friday.

Al-Baghdadi was the nom de guerre of Ahmad Isa Ismail al-Zawi, who was responsible for disseminating guidance from ISIS leaders to operatives in north Baghdad, the coalition said. Ammar, whose real name was Ahmad Abd Muhammad Hasan al-Jughayfi, directed the acquisition and transportation of weapons, bomb materials and personnel across Iraq and Syria, it said.

“The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt future attacks against innocent civilians and our security partners and in the region,” the statement said.

The raid was part of an intensified campaign supported by special operations forces, a defense official said.

“The Wali of Baghdad (al-Zawi) blew himself up,” said the official, who asked not to be named to share details that had not been cleared for release. “The logistics guy was killed in a shootout.”

On the day the two leaders were killed, several ISIS members were arrested in a joint coalition-SDF operation, during which two Iraqi nationals blew themselves, the SDF said on Twitter at the time. The raid also found explosive belts, weapons and other equipment, it said.

A joint raid in the province the following day killed another militant, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a tweet calling the SDF “ISIS slayers.”

Coalition and partner forces have conducted several operations in Iraq and Syria over the past few weeks targeting ISIS cells, including airstrikes targeting cave and tunnel complexes where the terrorists have taken refuge in Iraq’s rugged Hamrin Mountains after being ousted from their urban strongholds in both countries in recent years.

ISIS continues to carry out insurgent-style attacks, including bombings, kidnappings and assassinations in both countries. Several recent news reports have warned that the group could mount a resurgence amid the pandemic, which has complicated fighting and strained local resources.

But “continuous pressure” by partner forces aims to prevent an ISIS comeback, said the coalition, which provides advising, intelligence and air support to the partner forces’ campaigns. ISIS leadership in Syria “continues to dwindle” under the weight of SDF operations, the statement said.

The Kurdish-led militia launched a new operation in the province in recent days, arresting three members of an ISIS cell involved in assassinating security forces members, it said on Twitter Friday night.

Full report at:


20 years on, Israel's Lebanon pullout inspires new Hezbollah recruits


Jalal was barely three years old when Israeli troops withdrew from Lebanon two decades ago, but he speaks fondly of the Hezbollah "victory" that shaped his allegiance to the Shiite group.

"I feel honour and pride in this historic victory," said the 23-year-old who was brought up on stories of Hezbollah-led guerrilla operations leading to the Israeli pullout.

Founded in 1982 with backing from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah touts the 2000 pullout as the first Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land under military pressure.

Today Hezbollah, which means "Party of God", is both a militant group with involvement in several regional countries and a major political force in Lebanon.

The group remains an archfoe of Israel. Its military wing is blacklisted as a "terrorist" organisation by many Western governments but, to the dismay of Israel and its close ally the United States, its political wing is blacklisted by rather fewer.

Twenty years after the Israeli withdrawal, Hezbollah still enjoys wide support among Lebanese youth who grew up with tales of the Shiite group heroically ending 22 years of Israeli occupation.

Also popular for its social services helping the poor, it continues to leverage the memory of this era to mould a new generation of loyalists gearing up to join its regional operations.

"We all wish we were there standing beside (Hezbollah) during the liberation war," Jalal told AFP over the phone, asking to use a pseudonym.

We wish we had been "fighting on their side and offering ourselves for our country," said the young man, whose brother has since fought with Hezbollah in neighbouring Syria.

Bashir Saade, author of a book on Hezbollah, said "the party always needs to jump back into the past... to make sense of its political presence and vision".

- War stories -

The main site where Hezbollah celebrates its historical legacy is a memorial and museum in the hilltop bastion of Mleeta, built in 2010 to commemorate Israel's withdrawal.

At the former Hezbollah launchpad for operations, an Israeli Merkeva tank is displayed in a pit with its barrel twisted into a knot, next to a mock grave for Israeli soldiers.

Under oak trees, a mannequin representing a Hezbollah fighter in military fatigues lies on a stretcher with a cast around his neck, while two similar figurines are seen carrying a heavy case of equipment.

Below them, visitors can walk through a 200 metre (220 yard) long tunnel that Hezbollah fighters built over three years to combat Israeli forces.

"The objective of the museum is to give the coming generations tangible proof of what happened," said tour guide Mohammad Lamah.

It shows them that "the struggle is worth it", he said.

But unlike most memorial landmarks, he said, the former Hezbollah outpost does not "immortalise a resolved case".

On the other side of the border, "Israel is still here".

- 'Defend the oppressed' -

Israel's pullout from Lebanon was celebrated as a major achievement both inside Lebanon and across the Arab world, gaining Hezbollah regional acclaim.

Its popularity further surged among supporters after it fought a 33-day war against Israeli forces in Lebanon in 2006.

Hezbollah has since evolved into a regional Iran-backed military force, operating in Syria and supporting groups in Yemen and Iraq, leading some to criticise it for turning its guns away from Israel and towards fellow Arabs.

Hezbollah is today the only Lebanese group not to have disarmed after the country's 1975-1990 civil war and commands a military arsenal that rivals that of Lebanon's own US-backed army.

At home, cross-sectarian support for the group dwindled after an armed faceoff with fellow Lebanese during a political crisis in 2008.

Nonetheless Hezbollah, which entered the political scene after Israel's withdrawal, has become a dominant political player in Lebanon. Together with its allies it commands a majority in parliament and the cabinet.

The movement also runs a TV channel and an extensive social services network -- complete with schools, hospitals and charitable organisations.

Since 2006, Hezbollah and Israel have avoided all-out conflict, but Israel routinely targets Hezbollah positions in Syria.

Both sides have exchanged sporadic gunfire and endless threats, but analysts say a new conflict is not in the interest of either side.

But if there were a return to full hostilities, the 2000 Israeli pullout would likely provide inspiration for many young Hezbollah loyalists.

"I was young on the day of liberation and didn't understand what was going on, but I understood from my parents that it was something great," another Hezbollah supporter, aged 24, told AFP by phone.

Full report at:


Egyptian forces kill 21 militants in North Sinai

May 23, 2020

CAIRO: Egyptian security forces killed 21 suspected militants in North Sinai, part of a group that the interior ministry said was planning attacks over the Eid holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, state television reported on Saturday.

Two officers were wounded in an exchange of fire during the operation, according to a ministry statement cited in the report, which did not say when the operation took place.

Eid begins on Sunday. Militants loyal to Daesh are active in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, where Egypt has been battling an insurgency for years.


Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces kill senior Daesh member

May 27, 2020

DUBAI: Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces said they have killed the man Daesh referred to as its “Governor of Iraq,” Moataz Numan Al-Jubouri, during an airstrike in Syria, state news agency INA reported.

Iraqi security forces had previously tried targeting Al-Jubouri, who also goes by Haji Tayseer, 16 times, and had continued to track him after he fled the country.

“Your heroes in the counter-terrorism apparatus continue to pursue the remnants of the terrorists Daesh wherever they are found,” INA quoted a statement by the counter-terrorism forces.

The statement added that the Iraqi security forces were using modern technology in the ongoing war against the militants.

On Tuesday, Iraq’s forces said they had destroyed three Daesh armed-vehicles in the Ar-Rutbah desert after they were discovered by two surveillance planes.

Full report at:



Due to spike in Covid-19 infections, Pakistan warns to reimpose strict lockdown

May 26, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Covid-19 infections and the deaths caused by the virus continue to spike following government’s suspension of preventive measures that were taken in March to contain spread of the virus.

With more than 1,500 new infections of novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the number of confirmed cases in Pakistan crossed 58,300 on Tuesday. In the same time, 37 new deaths raised the tally of nationwide fatalities to 1,205.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s top aide on health Dr Zafar Mirza has warned that the rapid pace at which the virus was spreading could force authorities to re-impose a strict lockdown. Two weeks ago, the government had eased lockdown restrictions, maintaining bans only on restaurants and educational institutions.

“Unfortunately, there is now this thinking among us that this disease (Covid-19) was only here to stay till Eid, and that somehow it will disappear after Eid. This is a huge misunderstanding,” Mirza warned at a press briefing on Monday. “I want to warn Pakistanis that if you don’t take precautionary measures, this crisis could turn into a huge tragedy,” he added.

Despite Mirza’s admission that deaths and number of infected patients were rising, PM Khan has repeatedly downplayed the threat, saying in one of his recent press conferences that the threat from coronavirus was “low” in Pakistan. He has also urged provincial administrations to ease lockdown restrictions against the advice of healthcare professionals, claiming that the country was too poor and cannot afford to shut businesses.

On PM’s orders, public transport services had also been restored in most parts of the country last week.


Pakistan will not stay silent on Modi’s fascism, anti-Muslim violence, Qureshi says

May 27, 2020

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said Pakistan will not allow the fascist Narendra Modi government to round up Muslims to be beaten and killed in India.

In a series of tweets, the foreign minister said India’s discriminatory treatment against Muslims is aimed at having their nationalities stripped, their livelihoods robbed, their demography changed and their future insecure.

Sharing a statement from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Islamophobia, FM Qureshi said, “we will not stand by and let another Gujarat [massacre] happen.”

He said world bodies like the United Nations (UN) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have supported Pakistan to counter rising cases of anti-Muslim violence and Islamophobia in India to initiate a working group for collective action.

“Pakistan has consistently appealed to the UN and OIC to condemn Modi’s Hindutva supremacist ideology with relentless Islamophobia and & violence/regional instability perpetuated,” Qureshi said.

He welcomed the UN chief’s agreement on the need to counter Islamophobia and earlier censure by Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of OIC.


Earlier in the day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that countering anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia is his “top priority” and he “fully agrees” with the assessment that it could pose a threat to international peace and security.

The UN chief gave the statement recently at the virtual meeting of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states at the United Nations (UN) in response to the comments from Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, who drew his attention to the rising cases of anti-Muslim violence and Islamophobia in India and urged him to adopt a more focused and consistent system-wise approach to fully tackle the menace.

Speaking at the meeting organized by OIC on the theme of “COVID-19 Solidarity: Promoting Co-Existence and Shared Responsibility”, Guterres voiced his concern over the rise of Islamophobia and called for fighting this phenomenon collectively, the informed sources said.

Earlier this week, Pakistan had proposed the establishment of a dedicated OIC Working Group on Islamophobia.

Several OIC countries including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Malaysia and Egypt welcomed Pakistan’s proposal and need for a concerted OIC position on Islamophobia at the world body.

Full report at:


PM’s Corona Relief Fund crosses Rs4bn mark

Amir Wasim

May 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Amid calls by the opposition parties for auditing of the amount so far spent by the government in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has announced that the Prime Minister Corona Relief Fund (CRF) has swelled to over Rs4 billion.

The announcement was made by PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan through his official social media account on Twitter.

“The PM (Corona) Relief Fund has crossed the 4 billion mark Masha Allah. Generosity and Jazba (passion) of all donors is commendable. This indeed is a great cause. Together we can and together we must,” the PTI senator tweeted.

In the same tweet, the PTI senator recalled that the government had decided to contribute Rs4 for every single rupee donated to relief fund.

There has been an increase of Rs1 billion in the CRF, set by the government in the aftermath of the spread of coronavirus in the country, in just under a month’s time as the same PTI senator had announced through Twitter on May 1 that the PM fund had touched Rs3bn mark.

Senator Faisal Javed was sent written questions regarding the utilisation of the fund and the opposition’s demand for a parliamentary oversight, but he did not respond despite committing to do so.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced creation of the CRF where people, including overseas Pakistanis, could donate money without declaring their source of income during his televised address to the nation on March 30. He had stated that those depositing money in the fund would be given relaxation in taxes and the money would be utilised to provide food and cash to 15 million poor and needy people.

The prime minister had said Pakistan had to fight the war against the coronavirus with wisdom as the country did not have ample resources such as China and the United States.

The US, he had said, had allocated $2,000 billion to offset the impact of Covid-19, while Pakistan had earmarked only $8bn.

The CRF started receiving donations from April 1 and the prime minister had himself made a formal announcement in this regard through his official account on Twitter.

“The Prime Minister’s Covid-19 Pandemic Relief Fund-2020 has been set up to help us fight this pandemic. I want everyone to donate towards this fund which will be used to take care of all those who have been made destitute by the lockdown,” Mr Khan had tweeted at the formal launch of the fund.

Speaking during a telethon held on a private television channel on April 10 to collect donations for the CRF, the prime minister had said that in addition to using its own resources, the government was raising funds because the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis would “further worsen”.

Later, the opposition parties through a charter of demands called for forming a parliamentary committee for monitoring how and where the CRF was being spent, the quality of ration for labourers, daily-wage workers and other vulnerable segments of society and the mechanism for its distribution.

They also stressed the need to ensure that the government did not use the money being donated to the fund for political gains.

The opposition parties had further demanded that a surveillance system be set up to gather accurate data on the virus situation to keep the public informed.

During the recent special sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate, the opposition members reiterated their demand for a parliamentary oversight of the government’s handling of the coronavirus situation and criticised the government over alleged lack of transparency in the distribution of relief amount to the people under Ehsas Cash Programme.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday expressed alarm and sorrow over the increasing number of deaths and infections by coronavirus.

“Had there been a comprehensive strategy before imposition and lifting of the lockdown, the disease would not have spread this aggressively across the country,” Mr Sharif said in a statement.

The opposition leader demanded that an emergency meeting of the Council of Common Interests must be called to assess the latest situation and a fresh strategy should be formulated based on the learning.

Full report at:


Flooding, locust threats loom over Pakistan, says NDMA chief

Kalbe Ali

May 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Apart from coronavirus pandemic, two more threats — locust attack and possible flooding — are looming over Pakis­tan and the authorities have been working on measures to cou­nter all of them, said Nat­ional Disaster Manage­ment Authority (NDMA) Cha­­irman Lt Gen Moham­mad Afzal on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference, the NDMA chief said that operations against locusts had already been under way while the NDMA was also working to devise a comprehensive plan to deal with possible flooding this year.

Lt Gen Afzal said the plan would be shared with relevant authorities and public by the second week of June.

“We will try our best to utilise all the resources available in the country to tackle these threats and the whole nation will counter them effectively,” he added.

He said locust attack was a serious issue and this matter should not be politicised. “I appeal to all the leaderships of religious, political and social groups to join hands and concentrate to get rid of them (locusts) instead of point-scoring,” he said.

The NDMA chairman explained that the current locust attack was not in the category of swarms, but they were in groups. They were locally bred and indigenous.

He said that due to extensive cold and snowfall in Balochistan areas in January and February, the locusts did not move back to Iran and Africa but stayed in Pakis­tan and laid their eggs. “The current generation of locusts active in Southern Punjab are local but it was present in other provinces as well,” he highlighted.

The operation had been launched with the help of 1,500 teams of the NDMA along with the provincial disaster management auth­o­rities of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan over two weeks back, he said.

“These teams have not slept for one night for the last 15 days because operations against locusts [are conducted] at night mainly just before sunrise,” he said.

Currently massive operations were under way in Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, some areas of Faisalabad, Okara, Bakkhar and Layyah, the NDMA chairman said.

All requirements to kill and ward off locusts have been fulfilled as the Chinese government gifted 375,000 litres of pesticides to Pakistan, the Japanese gift of 50,000 litres would arrive here next week, while the NDMA also procured 175,000 litres and 100,000 litres of pesticides. Besides, nine aircraft — including five helicopters from army — were available for aerial spray, he said, adding that the NDMA was also in the process of procuring six more aircraft that he described as air-tractors. Subsequently, he added, the total number aerial-spray vehicles would rise to 15.

The NDMA chairman was also in talks with the Military Operations (MO) Directorate to prepare for heavy operations against locusts in uninhabited areas.

As the first threat from other parts of the world would be faced in June when locusts would start arriving from Iran and Oman, army teams would soon be deployed in D.G. Khan, D.I. Khan and on the Iranian border to kill locusts coming from there. “Those which arrive from the west will be dealt with at the Solemain lower mountains, but the serious offensive to eradicate the locusts will be in Cholistan and Thar deserts, to stop them from reaching the agricultural heartlands of the country,” Lt Gen Afzal said.

He said the army had dedicated 5,000 personnel in the anti-locust operation and 1,500 of them had been deployed in different provinces.

The NDMA chairman said the plant protection departments in the provincial departments had been rendered non-functional due to various reasons. One of the reasons was that Pakistan was facing locust attack after around 29 years, he said, adding that almost all the plant protection departments were devoid of entomologists. However, he said, the process to hire those experts on a one-year contract basis had been initiated.

Among the 11 locust-prone districts in Balochistan, 14 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, eight in Sindh and 13 in Punjab, 218,315km area has been surveyed while around 161,724 square kilometres in all the four provinces had yet to be surveyed, he added.

Flooding threat

Briefing the media about possible threats of flooding this year, Lt Gen Afzal said it was expected as higher than normal rainfall during and after the winter and spring resulted in ample availability of water in reservoirs.

Full report at:


Uzair’s mother approaches SHC, seeks overturn of his military court conviction

Ishaq Tanoli

May 27, 2020

KARACHI: The family of notorious Lyari gangland figure Uzair Jan Baloch has approached the Sindh High Court against the conviction handed down to him by a military court.

His mother, Razia Begum, petitioned the SHC and submitted that the custody of her son was sent back to the Karachi prison in the first week of April after he was reportedly convicted by the military court.

The petitioner contended that Uzair was picked up by personnel of law enforcement agencies in January 2016 and was booked and charge-sheeted in over 50 cases pending trial before the antiterrorism courts.

She further submitted that Uzair was handed over by the central prison on April 12, 2017 to the military authorities to face trial for his involvement in espionage activities and working for foreign intelligence agencies.

She submitted that applications had been sent to the military and prisons authorities for providing a copy of the military court proceedings. The copy of the judgement and record of the proceedings were, however, not provided to the petitioner.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that his client’s son was convicted without jurisdiction and cogent evidence and he had the right for fair trial and legal right to appeal against his conviction as provided in the Constitution.

Through the counsel, she asked the court to set aside the military court conviction and also sought direction for the military authorities to produce the judgement and record of the proceedings before the SHC.

Uzair Baloch was detained under a 90-day preventive detention by the Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, and then handed over to the police following his mysterious arrest in January 2016. In April 2017, the army announced that it had taken his custody in connection with charges of “espionage”.

Full report at:


‘Africa Day 2020’: Pakistan assures full support to African nations

May 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday reaffirmed its full solidarity and support for the aspirations and valuable endeavours of the African nations for peace, progress and prosperity.

Commemorating African Union’s 57th anniversary, the Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson in a statement extended heartiest felicitations to the leadership and people of all fraternal African nations.

The statement said, “marking the landmark establishment of the African Union on 25 May 1963, this Day is observed across the globe to celebrate the African nations’ heroic struggle for emancipation from colonialism, as well as the continent’s immense cultural and civilizational contributions, its tremendous economic potential, and its impressive strides in all fields of human endeavour.”

“One of the most remarkable achievements has been the conclusion last year of the historic agreement on establishing African Continental Free Trade Area, geographically the largest trading bloc.”

The spokesperson said Pakistan has a long and illustrious history of friendly relations, mutual support and beneficial cooperation with African friends and partners.

“Historically, Pakistan has played its role in lending support to African freedom struggles from colonial rule; combating apartheid; extending humanitarian assistance, where needed; and supporting building capacity through training programmes and initiatives.”

“Pakistan is also proud of its contribution to peace and security in Africa since the 1960s,” the FO stated.

“Under the UN auspices, Pakistani blue helmets, including women peacekeepers, continue to play their part in peace-keeping and peace-building efforts across the continent.”

The FO spokesperson further said in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s foreign policy vision, Pakistan has embarked upon a new, path-breaking “Engage Africa” Initiative toward the African Continent by strengthening political and diplomatic linkages, further deepening and broadening mutually-beneficial trade and economic ties, and expanding cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

Full report at:


PM, Abu Dhabi CP discuss Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral cooperation

May 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday discussed matters related to the global outbreak of Covid-19 and prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation to address the situation.

The prime minister received a telephonic call from Crown Prince Mohamed in which he shared his condolences on the tragic accident of PIA plane in Karachi causing loss of lives.

Thanking the crown prince for pardoning Pakistani prisoners and timely repatriation of Pakistani citizens from the UAE, PM Imran lauded the steps being taken by the UAE authorities to curtail the spread of the pandemic, Prime Minister’s Office Media Wing said in a press release.

He also informed Sheikh Mohamed about the latest situation of the outbreak of the virus in Pakistan and the steps taken by the government for its containment.

The two leaders agreed to work closely for effective containment of the coronavirus outbreak and strengthening of bilateral cooperation.

The prime minister underscored that without immediate, coordinated and comprehensive actions to create fiscal space, the developing world might have to contend with dire social, political and economic consequences of the pandemic.

He highlighted his call for “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries to help mitigate such consequences and to shore up economies.

With regard to the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), Prime Minister Imran Khan shared Pakistan’s concerns over intensified repression and military crackdown as well as India’s moves to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory.

He underscored that the recent domicile law in IOJ&K was in clear violation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.

The prime minister lauded the recent statements of the OIC and other international bodies which showed serious concerns about the situation in IOJ&K.

Full report at:


Army fully alive to threat spectrum, says Gen Bajwa

May 27, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that the Pakistan Army is fully alive to the threat spectrum and would remain ever ready to perform its part in line with national aspirations.

The COAS visited Line of Control (LoC) in Puna Sector and spent Eidul Fitr with troops, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The COAS offered Eid prayers at the frontline and prayed for peace, progress and prosperity of Pakistan in these difficult times, particularly seeking Allah’s blessings for the nation to overcome the Covid 19 pandemic.

Talking to troops, the COAS lauded their professionalism, operational preparedness, befitting response to Indian ceasefire violations (CFVs) and morale in the face of evolving challenges.

“Performing ones duty away from home even on such festive occasions is a soldier’s pride and we shall continue to do so with utmost commitment and unflinching resolve,” the COAS emphasised.

He said the Pakistan Army was observing Eid solemnly in solidarity with Kashmiris under Indian occupation particularly since 5th August 2019’s illegal, inhuman lockdown and ensuing atrocities.

India was trying to shift the global attention away from worsening humanitarian crisis and violence in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) to LoC by targeting innocent civilians across the LoC, he added.

“Kashmir is a disputed territory and any attempt to challenge the disputed status including any political cum military thought related to aggression will be responded with full national resolve and military might. Disturbing the strategic stability matrix in South Asia can lead to dire consequences.”

He expressed hope that the international community would weigh in to ensure freedom of movement for UNMOGIP operations inside IOJK, as ensured by Pakistan in AJK so that the tragic consequences of ongoing atrocities and inhuman clampdown inside occupied territory was reported to the United Nations Security Council and the world at large.

Full report at:



Iran Reports 1,787 New Coronavirus Cases, Nearly 110,000 Recoveries

May 26, 2020

1,787 more patients infected with COVID-19 virus have been identified in the country in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday.

He explained that 352 new patients were hospitalized and 1,435 others were outpatients.

Jahanpour noted that the number of coronavirus patients in the country has increased to 139,511 people.

He said that 7,508 people have lost their lives due to infection to the virus, including 57 in the past 24 hours.

Jahanpour, meantime, expressed concern that 2,567 patients infected with COVID-19 virus are in critical conditions.

He noted that 837,90 tests have so far been conducted in Iran.

Jahanpour also said that 109,437 patients have been recovered and discharged from hospitals.

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki stressed on April 7 effective measures to control coronavirus epidemic, expressing the hope that the disease would be controlled in Iran by late May.

“At present, the country is in the phase of disease management and we should not imagine that we have reached the harness and control phase. Today is the time for full-fledged combat against the virus. God willing, we will control coronavirus by late May. The virus should be controlled in the minimum possible time,” Namaki said, addressing the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament in Tehran.

He noted that at least 30% to 50% of hospital beds are still vacant across Iran and nearly 15,000 beds are ready to keep the patients who are recovering from coronavirus disease.

“We have now moved down to tank 6th in terms of deaths,” Namaki said, adding that the country’s situation in treatment of patients will improve in the next few days.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 348,200 people and infected over 5.6 million others globally.

The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.

As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and most universities have been extended until further notice.

The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s North, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.

Namaki announced last month that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.

Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.

He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.

Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.

He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing the hope that the epidemic would be curbed.

According to the latest statistics of Health Ministry, the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached over 90 across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran's response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.

The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.

The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.


Yemeni Intelligence Official Opens Correspondence with Iran Intelligence Minister

May 26, 2020

“The restrictions imposed on Iran by the US government are clear violation of the international charters and human rights,” al-Hakim wrote in his message as reported by the Arabic-language al-Masirah news website.

He called on all freedom-seeking people in the world to stand against the US oppressor system and stress the need for removal of the cruel sanctions against the Iranian nation.

“We are certain that the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys the necessary power and competence to confront the US bullying and stand against the enemies…,” al-Hakim said.

His remarks came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that US sanctions have harmed the Iranian nation for the past years, but they yielded great fruits like self-sufficiency.

“Despite the severe conditions of the country and the illegal and unjust sanctions and the harsh American pressures, production in Iran has not halted and today we are witnessing great achievements such as self-sufficiency in wheat and other food and agricultural products,” Rouhani said last Tuesday.

Full report at:


Iranian President Communicates Law to Confront Hostile Acts of Zionists against Peace, Security

May 26, 2020

Based on the president’s communique, the Iranian interior, intelligence, foreign and defense ministries as well as the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and the Judiciary are required to implement the law which was earlier approved by the parliament and the Guardian Council.

Guardian Council’s Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodayee wrote on his twitter page last Thursday that the Council studied the bill in its Wednesday meeting and did not find it against the religion and Constitution.

The Guardian Council is responsible to ensure the compatibility of the legislation passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) with the criteria of Islam and the Constitution.

The Iranian parliament in its meeting last week unanimously approved the generalities of a bill to confront the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security.

The parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission had earlier this month prepared and approved the bill on “confronting the hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security”.

“Based on the first article of the bill, all Iranian bodies are required to use the country’s regional and international capacities to confront the Zionist regime’s measures, specially its warmongering and terrorist moves, siege (of Gaza), settlement construction, displacing the Palestinian people and occupation of countries’ lands, including Golan,” Rapporteur of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told FNA at the time.

He added that the bill also underlines support for Quds city as the Palestinian capital and the Palestinian people.

Naqavi Hosseini said that based on the approval, any cooperation or spying for the Zionist regime is equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth and activities of the Israeli software platforms in Iran and using its hardware and software products is forbidden.

He noted that another article of the bill requires the foreign ministry to pursue the referendum in the Palestinian territories which has been registered at the UN too.

The new bill also bans transferring the goods produced by the Israeli companies via the Iranian territories as well as participation of the Israeli nationals and firms in the exhibitions held inside Iran.

It also requires the government to pave the ground for the establishment of a virtual embassy in Palestine.

“The foreign ministry is required to make necessary arrangements to form the Islamic Republic of Iran’s virtual embassy or consulate (in Palestine) and submit the results for approval to the cabinet,” one of the paragraphs of the bill said.

Full report at:


Commander: Army Helicopters Flying to Stop Wildfire in Southwestern Iran

May 26, 2020

“The Army Airborne helicopters have conducted 20 hours in 26 sorties of flight so far to assist killing the fire in Masjed Soleiman and Gachsaran,” General Qorbani said on Tuesday.

He added that the Army Airborne Force’s helicopters are equipped with necessary technology to put off the fire.

General Qorbani also said that the helicopters have transferred 170 people in Gachsaran and Masjed Soleiman so far who were endangered by the wildfire.

A wildfire, broke out last week in the heights of Gachsaran and Masjed Soleiman towns, has burnt down tens of hectares of forests and meadows.

Despite firefighters’ attempt to bring the blaze under control, the fire is still burning strong due to windy weather and impassable condition of the area.

Full report at:


Twitter Closes Account of Iranian Embassy in Moscow with No Reason

May 26, 2020

Twitter has not yet responded to Iran's request to know about why the company has shut the Iranian Embassy's twitter account in Russian language.

Iran believes that such moves are in violation of "freedom of expression," a principle which the West pretends to advocate.

In the meantime, Twitter has already blocked accounts of several Iranian news agencies unreasonably.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) had announced recently that account of Jam-e-Jam newspaper has been made inactive.

More than a year ago, French news agency had quoted Twitter as claiming that such closure is due to dispatch of messages from Iranian accounts against the US policies. 

Two years ago, Twitter and Facebook shut for no reason hundred of pages and accounts linked to Iran.

Closure of Iran's accounts through US-based social networks increased in parallel with the US so-called maximum pressure on Iran.

Such blocks proves that directors of the Western networks are not willing to hear the independent voices of other nations against the US will.

Full report at:


Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity reopens as coronavirus restrictions ease

26 May 2020

Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, reopened to worshippers and tourists on Tuesday as Palestinian authorities eased coronavirus restrictions in the occupied West Bank.

Amid lingering pandemic concerns, the church is capping access to 50 people at a time and requires that they be free of fever and wear protective masks. It had been shuttered since March 5, in a blow to Bethlehem’s tourism industry.

“The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ gave hope to people more than 2,000 years ago, and opening the church today will, I think, give hope to the whole world that hopefully this pandemic will end – not only in Palestine but in the whole world,” Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma’ayah told Reuters.

Bethlehem is among areas where Palestinians exercise limited self-rule in the West Bank, under Israeli occupation. There have been 423 recorded coronavirus cases and two deaths in the West Bank.

On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said mosques, churches and businesses would reopen on Tuesday in an easing of anti-pandemic curbs, given the slow pace of infections.

The reopening of houses of worship, shops and factories coincides with the last day of the Eid El-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“Today is a big Eid for Bethlehem and for believers,” said Bishop Theophylactos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Bethlehem.

Full report at:


Houthi ‘consultant’ dies from coronavirus after saying ‘better to die on battlefield’

26 May 2020

A Houthi political consultant has reportedly died from the coronavirus months after exploiting COVID-19 fears to recruit people to join and fight for the Iran-backed militia in the ongoing war in Yemen, according to local media reports.

Shafi’i Nasher, described as an activist who worked as an adviser to the Houthis’ foreign ministry, died from coronavirus while at his home in Sanaa.

His death comes months after a controversial television appearance in which he urged Yemenis to take up arms with the Houthi militia and die on the battlefield even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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A video has surfaced online of a man described as a Yemeni Houthi leader exploiting #coronavirus fears to recruit people to join and fight for the #Iran-backed Houthi militia in the ongoing war in #Yemen.

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“Instead of dying like a donkey, under the mercy of corona[virus]. In the end you suffocate and die. Isn’t it better to die on the battlefield?” Nasher said in his appearance broadcast on a channel run by the Houthis several months ago.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

“We will make you a martyr, or do you want to die like a sheep in your home? We’re making things easier for you. Without any illness, and with God, a martyr with my God,” he added.

Full report at:



Attempted stabbing attack in Jerusalem, terrorist shot

MAY 25, 2020

An attempted stabbing attack occurred on Monday in Jerusalem at the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood.

The terrorist had been reportedly shot in the stomach as he attempted to stab an Israeli police officer.

There are no other injuries reported as the terrorist was treated in critical condition by medics at the spot.


Erdogan backers peddle rumours of another coup in Turkey

May 26, 2020

Pro-government supporters in Turkey have recently revived talk of another coup attempt in what critics said was an effort to target opponents and distract from domestic concerns compounded by the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly four years after a failed coup, followed by widespread purges of the military and other state institutions, the suggestion of another takeover attempt was met with scepticism by observers.

“It’s really confusing because who is there in the military to mount anything like that?” said Ahmet Evin, a political scientist and a senior fellow at the Istanbul Policy Centre think tank.

Since the attempt to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016, nearly 19,500 members of the military, including many senior officers, have been dismissed in purges targeting the religious sect said to be behind the plot.

“There’s a tradition in Latin America that the army is the only institution that has its own ways and means,” said Mitat Celikpala, deputy rector at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. “However, under the current circumstances I don’t see any environment in which a coup could happen.”

Nevertheless, Mr Erdogan’s backers insisted the threat remained. “They’re still in the army, the press, the police, the bureaucracy, the municipalities and in politics,” Ersin Ramoglu, a columnist for the pro-government Sabah newspaper, said last week.

Rhetoric about another coup threat came ahead of Wednesday’s anniversary of the 1960 putsch against Adnan Menderes, the first prime minister of Turkey’s multi-party era.

Mr Erdogan has compared himself to Menderes, who was hanged following the first of four successful military coups, the last of which was in 1997.

According to the president, both leaders struggled against military “tutelage” that repressed Islam in public life in the name of preserving the secularist model prescribed by Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

“Menderes is remembered fondly because that was the first departure from the Kemalist regime, so [Mr Erdogan’s] group likes that very much,” Mr Evin said.

Recent claims of a conspiracy to remove the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from power have tied a possible plot to the opposition.

This month, Mr Erdogan accused the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – founded by Ataturk and now the largest opposition party – of “still yearning and burning for coups, tutelage and juntas”.

In the following days, a number of pro-AKP figures spoke out about a potential coup, often in violent terms.

“You say ‘We will overthrow Tayyip Erdogan, we will execute him’,” journalist Fatih Tezcan said in an online video. “How will you protect your wife, your children from us? The blood of millions will spill for a single drop of Erdogan’s blood.”

Writer Sevda Noyan sparked outrage when she appeared on television to complain that her family “could not do what we really wanted to do” during the 2016 coup attempt before going on to claim she had prepared a list of targets and could “remove” 50 people.

Murat Emir, a CHP MP for Ankara, said the conspiracy claims aimed to paint the government and its base as the targets of secularists.

“With the current government, every opposition figure who expresses the need for change is accused of hinting at a coup,” he said. “Later, certain writers and journalists bubble into a rage. These and similar claims always have one purpose – to cover the real agenda with a perception operation.

“The real danger is that while those who blacklist neighbours and plan mass murder remain unpunished, people like Sevda Noyan and Fatih Tezcan are able to find the environment and courage to openly express their twisted thoughts.”

Rumours of a takeover came after the government lost major cities such as Ankara and Istanbul to the CHP in last year’s local elections. It has also been disturbed by the popularity of opposition-run municipal aid programmes during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the CHP’s municipal schemes have been targeted – Mr Erdogan said they were an attempt to establish a “parallel state” – the government has removed dozens of recently elected mayors in the Kurdish-majority south-east by linking them to terrorism.

Talk of a coup seemed to have been sparked by comments from Canan Kaftancioglu, chairwoman of the CHP in Istanbul and a leading party figure, at the end of April when she predicted a change in government “through early elections or some other way”.

Although she later clarified her remarks, they were seized on as suggesting the AKP’s removal by non-democratic means.

However, others suggest the worsening outlook for Turkey’s fragile economy under coronavirus is another factor in talk of a coup.

The Turkish lira hit an all-time low against the dollar this month as the effect of the pandemic on exports and tourism added to a growing current account deficit.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that Turkey’s economy will shrink by 5 per cent this year, pushing up inflation and unemployment.

“Erdogan’s speculation about a potential coup is a convenient ploy to divert the public’s attention away from the economic crisis and financial mismanagement at home,” said Aykan Erdemir, senior director of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies’ Turkey programme.

Mr Evin said: “The economic situation is absolutely miserable and, regardless of who is in power, under these circumstances conspiracy theories abound. The whole atmosphere is conducive to this kind of thing because of the situation of instability.

Full report at:


North America 

Trump looks for full pullout from Afghanistan but hasn't set target date

26 May 2020

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his desire for a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan but added that he had not set a target date, amid speculation he might make ending America's longest war part of his re-election campaign.

“We're there 19 years and, yeah, I think that's enough... We can always go back if we want to,” Trump told a White House news conference.

Asked if the Thanksgiving holiday on November 26 was a target, Trump said: “No. I have no target. But as soon as (is) reasonable. Over a period of time but as soon as reasonable.”

Afghan authorities plan to release 900 more Taliban prisoners on Tuesday, as calls grew for the militants to extend a ceasefire on its third and final day.

The pause in fighting – which came into effect on Sunday to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr – was, for the most part, holding across the country, officials said.

Some 100 Taliban prisoners were released from a military prison in Afghanistan on Monday as part of the government’s response to a surprise ceasefire offered by the militants to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival.


US governor denies parole for Turkish diplomat’s killer

Servet Günerigök  



California Governor Gavin Newsom has denied a parole request by Hampig Sassounian, an Armenian who assassinated a Turkish diplomat in Los Angeles in 1982. 

The announcement came Monday with Newsom reversing the Board of Parole Hearings' decision which found Sassounian suitable for parole.

"After reviewing and considering the evidence in the record, I believe that Mr. Sassounian must do additional work before he can be safely released. Accordingly, I find that he still poses an unreasonable danger to society if released and I reverse the Board’s decision to parole Mr. Sassounian," the governor concluded.

On Jan. 28, 1982, Kemal Arikan was shot to death 14 times by Sassounian and his accomplice, Krikor Saliba. Saliba escaped justice, but Sassounian was arrested and in 1984 was sentenced to life in prison.

The Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) and American Turkish Association of Southern California (ATASC) on Tuesday welcomed the governor's decision to reject Sassounian’s parole.

TASC and ATASC thanked Newsom and said they are leading a national and international coalition to make sure Sassounian serves his life sentence.

Attacks by Armenian terrorists have claimed the lives of more than 40 Turkish diplomats since the 1970s, including four in America.

The vast majority of the attacks were conducted by the ASALA and JCAG terror organizations.

Full report at:



Over 100 'Islamic State' fighters return to Germany


Germany's Interior Ministry said Sunday that over 100 members of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group have returned to the country following the jihadi networks failed incursions in Iraq and Syria.

"Security authorities obtained knowledge that they actively engaged in combat in Syria and Iraq or have completed apprenticeships to this end," the ministry told the DPA news agency. "These people remain under police and judicial investigation."

The ministry added that the number of open investigations is in the "two-figure range."

Authorities believe that 1,060 IS fighters left Germany for Syria or Iraq, of which a third have since returned, the Interior Ministry said.

German authorities are taking a "holistic approach" to the handling of the returnees, which besides criminal prosecution includes deradicalization and reintegration, according to the ministry.

Others in custody abroad

Several suspected German IS members are believed to be in custody in Iraq, Syria or Turkey.

Turkish authorities have called on Germany and other European countries to take back IS suspects, with Turkish Interior Minister Soleyman Solyu saying in November that Turkey is not "a hotel for IS members."

On Thursday, German authorities arrested two women, one of which was a suspected IS member, upon their arrival at Frankfurt Airport from Ankara after they were deported by Turkey.

According to the Genocide Network, a genocide investigation body backed by the European Union, many returning suspected IS fighters only face domestic terrorism charges in their home countries, which come with a statute of limitations that sets a time limit to prosecution.

The body has called for European authorities to add war crimes and genocide charges, the most serious crimes under international law which could lead to longer sentences.


France says relations with Iran tougher following French citizen's sentencing

26 May 2020

France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that relations with Iran had become more difficult after Tehran sentenced a French-Iranian academic to prison in what he said was a politically motivated decision.

“This sentencing was founded on no serious elements and was politically motivated. So we firmly say to the Iranian authorities to release Fariba Adelkhah without delay,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio.

“This decision make our relations with the Iranian authorities a lot more difficult.”

Adelkhah, who has been in prison for a year, was this month sentenced to six years in jail on national security charges.


Cyprus to deport 17 migrants suspected of terror links

May 25, 2020

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus will deport 17 migrants who are being held on suspicion of having links to extremist groups or involved in acts of terror, the country’s interior ministry said Monday.

The men are currently being held in a migrants’ detention facility and their deportation will proceed once commercial air traffic to and from the country is restored after the full lifting of all coronavirus restrictions, the ministry told The Associated Press in a statement.

It said intelligence provided by security agencies and law enforcement authorities including Europol and Interpol suggested that the men may have either been implicated in terror activities or belong to extremist groups.

The ministry didn’t disclose details about the men, their nationalities, which security agencies provided intelligence and with which groups they may be linked.

Cyprus has received about 3,000 asylum-seekers since the start of the year, with most arriving before the lockdown came into effect in late March.

Full report at:


Terrorist returned to UK prison for owning moped

Paul Peachey

May 26, 2020

A convicted terrorist who tried to travel to Somalia to join Al Shabab was back in a British jail after breaking the terms of his early release by owning a moped.

Trevor Mulindwa, 25, was recalled to prison in November after police learned that he also kept a banned smartphone in the moped’s carrier box, London's Metropolitan Police said.

He had been barred from using the internet after radicalising himself using online sources, and was ordered to tell police if he planned to buy a motor vehicle.

Mulindwa was jailed for six years in 2015 after his arrest in a prayer room at Heathrow Airport in London before he was to board a flight for Mogadishu.

He had sought to travel to Somalia after being released from hospital, where he was being treated during the last days of another jail sentence for drugs offences.

The court heard he had become radicalised at the hospital, where he was being treated for schizophrenia, and had asked Muslim staff which mosques he could visit to become an extremist. He had also expressed interest in becoming a suicide bomber.

He was released in June 2018 after his case was reviewed after serving half of his sentence. The UK has an established practice of releasing convicted criminals halfway through sentences.

Criminals can be recalled to serve the remainder of their sentences if they commit further offences. Terrorist prisoners can face dozens of further restrictions that could include association with other extremists, restrictions on internet use and limits on movements.

Mulindwa, who faced 15 years of restrictions under the terms of his release, was detained 17 months after he was freed. He also jailed last week for another eight weeks for breaking the terms of his release.

Commander Richard Smith, London’s most senior counter-terrorist officer, said: “There are clear rules for registered terrorist offenders who are subject to notification orders, and Mulindwa broke one of them.

“Notification orders serve a serious purpose and are an important tool to help keep the public safe from harm.”

Mulindwa’s arrest in November came two weeks before a former terrorist prisoner stabbed two people to death at a rehabilitation conference after he was released half-way through a 16-year jail term.

Usman Khan, who was shot dead by police on London Bridge, had been jailed for plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

Full report at:


South Asia 

Afghan govt to free 900 prisoners; Taliban may extend truce

May 26, 2020

KABUL: The Afghan government said it would free 900 prisoners on Tuesday, its single largest prisoner release since the US and the Taliban signed a peace deal earlier this year that spells out an exchange of detainees between the warring sides.

The announcement came as a three-day cease-fire with the insurgents draws to an end. The Taliban had called for the truce during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

There are expectations that the prisoner release could lead to new reductions in violence, and Taliban officials say they are considering an extension of the cease-fire.

A senior Taliban figure confirmed this to The Associated Press.

“If these developments, like the announcement of prisoner release continues, it is possible to move forward with decisions like extending the brief cease-fire and to move in a positive direction with some minor issues," the Taliban official said.

The prisoner release is part of the US deal with the Taliban, signed on February 29 to allow for the eventual withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, bringing to an end the country's protracted war and America's longest military involvement.

When the deal was signed, it was touted as Afghanistan's best chance for peace after decades of war but political feuding in Kabul and delays in prisoner exchanges have slowed the deal's progress toward intra-Afghan negotiations, considered the second and most critical phase of the accord.

Under the deal, Kabul is to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners while the insurgents are to free 1,000 captives they hold, mostly government officials and Afghan forces, before intra-Afghan negotiations can begin.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had welcomed the Taliban cease-fire announcement during the Muslim holiday.

Javid Faisal, a national security spokesman in Kabul, urged the Taliban to extend the cease-fire and said the government would release 900 prisoners on Tuesday.

That would bring to 2,000 the number of Taliban prisoners released so far under the US-Taliban deal. The Taliban say they have released 240 of captives they held.

However, the Taliban have yet to confirm whether those released so far by the government were among the 5,000 names the insurgents had given US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of the February 29 deal.

A second Taliban official told the AP that those released so far were n fact on the Taliban list of demands, including the uncle of Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada.

Key in deciding which names would appear on the list was Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, a senior figure who had recently recovered from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Turabi was the much feared vice and virtue minister during the Taliban rule, known for beating men who were found listening to music or not attending the mosque. He once slapped a Taliban commander who spoke with a woman journalist.

Both Taliban officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.


Bangladesh: Rohingya Muslims mark joyless Eid in camps

26th May 2020

By Md. Kamruzzaman

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh’s crammed camps are celebrating a forlorn Eid al-Fitr for the third straight year following a mass exodus in August 2017.

“Eid does not carry any significance for us in this stateless life. But we have to pretend to be happy just for our kids,” Mohib Ullah, a Rohingya community leader at Kutupalang camp, told Anadolu Agency.

Pointing to an uncertain future in Bangladesh, Mohib said they do not see any hope of a peaceful return to their homeland in the near future, and a new generation is growing up “without any education, without any dreams.”

“We are on the verge of losing our existence as an independent nation in our motherland, where we had been living for centuries. Our young generation is suffering from an identity crisis. How can we dream of celebrating Eid?”

More than 750,000 Rohingya Muslims fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh, raising the total number of the world’s most persecuted people to over 1.2 million in the host country.

Several attempts of peaceful repatriation of Rohingya to their homeland have failed.

The persecuted Rohingya have been demanding full citizenship rights, while officials from Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw have been insisting that they return with National Verification Cards (NVCs) during talks held in Bangladesh.

Rohingya have labeled the NVC as part of the ongoing genocide.

COVID-19 dampens Eid festivities in camps

The little festivity seen in the sprawling makeshift Rohingya settlements in the previous two Eid celebrations in 2018 and 2019 was absent this year due to the spread of the novel coronavirus in the camps.

As of Sunday, at least 21 Rohingya refugees had been infected by the virus. All of them have been shifted to isolation centers inside the camps while their families have been moved to separate centers.

In addition, more than 20,000 Rohingya who have been living in the same blocks in the camps with those infected have been locked down. Rohingya settlements are divided into 34 camps comprising many blocks.

Panic is prevailing throughout the camps as experts and rights bodies have been warning of a dramatic spread of the virus in the squalid camps where 40,000-70,000 refugees are now living per square kilometer, according to the World Health Organization.

Teenagers still joyous

But speaking by phone to Anadolu Agency, Kashim Ullah, a teenage boy at Kutupalang camp, described a slightly different Eid celebration.

“We are living with our all neighbors together. Our tents are in a row. We always see each other whenever we come out of our tents. We have no restrictions. We will perform our Eid prayer together at our small mosques inside the camps,” he said.

Kashim said there is no social distancing inside the camps.

“We want to enjoy our Eid together with all our friends.”

Restrictions limit festivities

On the grounds of ensuring safety and curbing crime, Bangladeshi authorities have erected barbed wire fences around the Rohingya camps, ignoring the concerns of rights bodies.

Moreover, nearly 80 Rohingya have been killed by Bangladeshi law enforcers since August 2017 in crossfire with terrorists and in their drive against criminals, according to Rohingya rights body the Free Rohingya Coalition (ERC).

Use of the internet and mobile networks has also been limited in the Rohingya camps for the same reasons.

“Muslims under lockdown can still greet each other [in Eid] over group video calls, but Rohingya in Bangladesh have no such facility as the internet has been shut down for many months. This is very sad! When the people suffer globally, our suffering is a bit more than them,” ERC co-founder Nay San Lwin told Anadolu Agency.

The refugees have nothing to celebrate besides Eid, but this year, they are unable to celebrate due to the pandemic, he added.

In a previous interview with Anadolu Agency, Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, however, said the mobile network and internet had been scaled down partially in camps for the safety and security of Rohingya.

Persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.

Full report at:


China’s role about Coronavirus outbreak in Afghanistan

26 May 2020

The 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in modern times and is spreading quickly across the globe, posing a significant threat to people’s lives and health all over the world. Further, the current pandemic put the global economy under extreme pressure, with rapid supply and demand contraction, significant financial-market instability, and trade and investment plummeting. The whole world is at a growing risk of a crisis in social governance, a humanitarian crisis, and even a potential crisis in health. The outbreak has been more devastating than anticipated and has posed a major test for every nation.

Until now, COVID-19 had affected more than 200 countries and regions with more than 4.628 million confirmed cases 5,138,470 by May 21, 2020, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO). Wuhan China, where the outbreak was first identified, were able to put in place and enforce draconian containment and contact tracing measures early on in the emergency, bringing the hope of prevention and control of this global epidemic.

Remarkably, China government has taken the most systematic, the strictest, as well as the most comprehensive prevention and control steps to tackle the epidemic and defeat the coronavirus in their obstinate combat.

Through practical acts, China has adopted the dream of a society with a common future for humanity, completely demonstrating China’s duty as a big country and the importance of cooperation and collaboration in addressing the crisis. Very impressively, in China, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 is continuously decreasing. Life and job are quickly going back to normal. While doing a good job in domestic epidemic prevention and control, China has actively supplied in its capacity to assist the international community against the epidemic.

To fight the epidemic, China has sent COVID-19 medical expert teams to several countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Italy, and do offer prevention and control experience of COVID-19 with dozens of other countries, including Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is one of the strategic partners in today’s scenario with China. In June 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for strengthened political, economic, and security cooperation, as well as people-to-people exchanges between China and Afghanistan. Economic development as a key indicator of a country’s stabilization and Afghanistan has faced persistent financial hardship in recent times. Very thankfully, China wants to strengthen its economic ties with Afghanistan and took practical steps to put Afghanistan to stand on its foot.

For example, the extension of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan could conceivably make a significant contribution to the country’s economic progress. Similarly, as the COVID-19 epidemic is now spreading globally, and newly diagnosed cases are reported in Afghanistan, China extends their arms to fight the COVID-19 epidemic and embodies the sincere brotherly friendship between the two countries. Importantly, China is paying close attention to the situation and making a conscious effort to support pandemic control of Afghanistan. On March 20, Chinese medical and health experts and their counterparts from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health conducted a four-hour video conference to share the Chinese experience unreservedly. On 1 April, after nearly a month of coordination between the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan and relevant domestic authorities in China, a chartered airplane from Xinjiang landed at the Kabul airport, with much-needed supplies for pandemic control. The supplies were including personal protective equipment such as facemasks and coveralls and medical devices such as test kits, ventilators, defibrillators, sputum aspirators, oxygen generators, and infusion pumps, with a total weight of 4.5 tons.

Full report at:


Coronavirus spreading at an alarming rate in Afghanistan, 658 new cases recorded

26 May 2020

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) announced Tuesday that the authorities have recorded 658 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country in the past 24 hours.

According to MoPH, the authorities tested 1,152 people in the past 24 hours out of which the results of 658 people returned as positive.

The majority of the new cases were recorded in Kabul where 237 of the new cases while 85 others were recorded in western Herat province.

The new cases increase the tally to 11,831 since the outbreak of the virus in the country.

Full report at:


Afghan president pledges to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners

25 May 2020

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has started the process to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a "goodwill gesture", his spokesperson said, in a move that came after the government welcomed the armed group's surprise announcement of a three-day ceasefire during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The decision to release the prisoners was taken "to ensure success of the peace process", Ghani's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the ceasefire appeared to hold as there were no reports of clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces by the end of the first day on Sunday.

Ghani said a government delegation was "ready to immediately start the peace talks" with the Taliban.

Government negotiators would be headed by Ghani's former rival Abdullah Abdullah after the two signed a power-sharing deal last week that ended a months-long political crisis.

Sediq Sediqqi


Pres. Ghani today initiated a process to release up to 2000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire during Eid.The AFG Gov is extending the offer of peace and is taking further steps to ensure success of the peace process.

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7:00 PM - May 24, 2020 • Afghanistan

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A US-Taliban agreement signed in February in Qatar's capital, Doha, stipulated that the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners while the Taliban would free about 1,000 Afghan security forces personnel.

The prisoner swap was mentioned in the agreement as a "confidence-building measure" before long-awaited peace talks between the government and Taliban.

Before Sunday's announcement, Kabul had already released about 1,000 Taliban inmates while the Taliban had freed roughly 300 members of the Afghan security forces, according to reports.

The Taliban said they were committed to freeing prisoners, but reminded Kabul that the agreement was to "release 5,000" of their members as agreed with the US in Doha.

"This process should be completed in order to remove hurdles in the way of commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations," Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, said on Twitter.

The Taliban's offer of a ceasefire came just days after leader Haibatullah Akhunzada urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the Doha agreement that set the stage for the withdrawal of US troops from the country after more than 18 years.

US Special Representative to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who brokered the February 29 agreement, said the ceasefire was "a momentous opportunity that should not be missed" while pledging that the US would "do its part to help".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also hailed the ceasefire, but said in a statement on Sunday that he expected "the Taliban to adhere to their commitment not to allow released prisoners to return to the battlefield".

He also urged the two sides to avoid escalating violence after Eid, the festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

US President Donald Trump's administration has made it a priority to end the country's longest war and, in a bid to pull out foreign forces, US officials have been pushing the Taliban and government leaders to hold peace talks.

Analysts, however, say the Taliban has been emboldened by the agreement with the US, and attacks by the group have continued since the signing.

War-weary residents in the capital, Kabul, expressed relief after the ceasefire was announced.

Full report at:



Boko Haram: Terrorists raze down 90 houses, Church, shops in Borno

May 26, 2020

By Maina Maina

Reports from Biu local government area of Borno State, northeast Nigeria, on Monday evening, revealed that suspected Boko Haram fighters have attacked three villages, bringing down houses, shops and places of worship.

DAILY POST reports that residents of the areas said about 90 residential houses, a Church, Clinic, 9 shops, and other properties worth millions of naira were destroyed during the attack.

The District Head of the area, Alh Mohammad Maina Bukar while briefing the Borno State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Usman Kadafur, who paid a sympathy visit to the affected communities, said they have lost source of livelihoods as a result of the attack.

The communities blamed the attack on lack of telecommunications network in the area.

They, however, informed the deputy governor that local hunters repelled the attacks and succeeded in killing three members of the insurgents, while one resident sustained a bullet wound.

“There was no civilian casualty,” they said.

The district head said, “The insurgents stormed the villages at about 6:30 pm to 10:25 pm simultaneously; they burnt down 90 residential Houses, 9 shops, 1 church, 1 dispensary/Clinic, 1 tractor and carted away essential commodities, as well as food items.”

While sympathizing with the people of the communities, the deputy governor urged them to take the incident as an act of Allah (God) and continue to pray for lasting peace.

He also said that the vigilante group would be well equipped and provided with monthly stipends to help them operate side by side with the security operatives in defence of their communities.


Ivory Coast, Burkina offensive to flush out extremists

May 23, 2020

KORHOGO, Ivory Coast: Troops from Ivory Coast and neighboring Burkina Faso have launched an operation in northern Ivory Coast to flush out extremists from their border, military officials said Saturday.

The offensive, named Comoe after a river that flows through the two West African countries, is underway and has “produced results,” an Ivorian source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“At the initiative of the Ivorian army, an anti-terrorist operation has been on for several days at the border and led to the seizure of weapons,” a Burkinabe security source said.

The sources did not give any figures.

“Burkina Faso is taking part with 30 men, most of whom have been posted along the border,” to prevent insurgents from fleeing Ivory Coast, where the operation is being conducted, the source said.

“There is no way of avoiding the two armies,” said Burkina Faso’s chief of army staff General Moise Miningou during a meeting with his Ivorian counterpart in Ivory Coast on Friday.

“It’s this which has produced tangible results. This is just a first step and I assure you it won’t be the last,” he added.

The operation was launched at the start of May in the northeastern region of Ferkessedougou, sources said.

A Burkinabe soldier was injured during the operation and has been hospitalized in the northern Ivorian town of Korhogo, a Burkinabe military source said.

Extremist hideouts have been detected north of the Comoe National Park in northern Ivory Coast for over a year.

Security sources say they are extremists operating in Burkina Faso who shelter in Ivory Coast when chased.

Full report at:


Sudan arrests local, Egyptian members of terror cell affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood

May. 23, 2020

CAIRO – 23 May 2020: Sudanese Public Prosecutor Mawlana Taj al-Ser al-Hebr announced Friday that interrogations with local and Egyptian members of a terror cell affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood had started.

The Sudanese police had arrested the elements last week in the Eastern Nile District and found at their acquisition various types of arms and documents of explosions they planned to carry out in Khartoum and Cairo.

Sudanese authorities revealed that one of the elements had confessed that the cell was operating upon the orders of the International Muslim Brotherhood Order with the aim of destabilizing both countries.

The element is an Egyptian national who entered Sudanese authorities by a fake Syrian passport. He is specialized in manufacturing explosives and was brought to Sudan with two others.

Full report at:


Jordan’s civil servants return to work after two months break

May 26, 2020

AMMAN: Jordan’s public sector employees began a phased return to work on Tuesday, more than two months after they were told to stay at home under a coronavirus lockdown, officials said.

Most of the country’s 250,000 civil servants had not been working in their offices since a state of emergency was declared in mid-March.

Sameh al Nasser, the head of the civil service commission, said that about 60% of civil servants were expected to show up for work under a gradual plan involving social distancing.

Schools, universities and border crossings were closed and international flights were halted under the lockdown, but tens of thousands of state employees in the medical services, civil defense, customs, security forces and army continued working to maintain essential services.

The government said at the end of last month it had contained the coronavirus outbreak, and many restrictions have of the lockdown restrictions have been lifted, with most businesses and industries now open again.

Full report at:


Libyan mayor says most mercenaries have left Bani Walid

Mustapha Dalaa Gülsen Topcu 


More than 90% of the mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group which supported Libyan renegade commander Khalifa Haftar have left the town of Bani Walid in a big convoy, its mayor said Tuesday.

Salem Alaywan told a local television channel that they headed south.

Earlier this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said more than 2,000 Wagner mercenaries were fighting in the war-ravaged country.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political agreement.

Full report at:


Eight terrorists killed in Ivory Coast-Burkina Faso operation

May 25, 2020

Eight suspected terrorists were killed and 38 captured in a joint operation by forces from Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast near the countries' border.

Twenty-four men caught in Burkina Faso and 14 in Ivory Coast were handed to intelligence services, a source at Ivorian army headquarters said.

A "terrorist base" was destroyed at Alidougou in Burkina Faso, the source said.

The operation also seized arms, ammunition, USB keys and mobile phones, he said.

Operation "Comoe", named after a river that flows through the two countries, was launched in early May, the source said.

He praised the "perfect co-ordination between the two armies".

This joint operation, described on Saturday by the armies' commanders as the first of its kind, took place north-east of the Ivorian town of Ferkessedougou and south of Banfora in Burkina Faso.

On Saturday, a source from Burkina Faso security said the entire operation had been carried out in Ivory Coast.

Locals said the fighting took place around the villages of Tinadalla and Diambeh, in the north-east of Ivory Coast, and that there was a considerable military presence.

A villager from Tindalla said strangers had been in the zone for more than a month, coming and going across the border with Burkina Faso.

The Ivorian army source said on Sunday that "no terrorist base exists on Ivorian territory that may have served as a zone of refuge during previous offensives" by the Burkina Faso army.

A Burkina Faso military source said that one of its soldiers had been wounded and taken to hospital in Korhogo, in northern Ivory Coast.

The presence of militants to the north of Ivory Coast's Comoe national park was detected more than a year ago.

Full report at:




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