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Islamic World News ( 25 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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US Using Afghan Taliban To Fight ISIS In Afghanistan, Says Leaked Pentagon Document

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 April 2023

 

The Afghan Taliban have expressed willingness to help the United States (US) in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan Image Courtesy AP

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North America

Bills Would Add Muslim, Sikh, Asian Holidays To State Holiday Calendar

Crimes in Paterson's Muslim community open discussion about mental health stigma

Authorities investigating 2 mosque fires in consecutive days in Minneapolis

Muslim rideshare drivers improvise prayer spaces amid lack of relief stations in NYC

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Southeast Asia

Indian-Origin Malaysian Jailed For Smuggling Animals In Singapore

Vikram Singh appointed CEO of Citi Malaysia

Malaysia’s energy needs face Chinese pushback in South China Sea

Na Tok Kong temple requests extension after being evicted from Islamic council's land

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Mideast

Israeli Troops Strom Al-Aqsa’s Bab Al-Rahma, Ban Call to Prayer

OIC, Arab League Decry Israeli Assaults on Muslim, Christian Sanctities in Al-Quds

Hostile Aircraft Systems Hacked as Attempting to Intrude Iran's Airspace

Palestinian Youth Martyred in Israeli Raid in Occupied West Bank

Hezbollah: US Hegemony Retrenching, Occupation Forces Will Eventually Leave Middle East

Tensions Rise After Azerbaijan Blocks Land Route from Armenia

Minister: Riyadh Asks for Three Weekly Flights Between Iran, Saudi Arabia

Arab League condemns Zionist raids on al-Aqsa mosque

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Europe

World’s First Sharia Crypto Gets Public Launch

Bradford's Muslim community on Eid-Ul-Fitr memories as Ramadan ends

Ramadan celebrated at Rochdale Infirmary

Haywards Heath Mayor sends warm wishes to everyone celebrating Eid al-Fitr at the Ramadan Iftar Dinner

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia Calls For Cessation Of Military Operations In Sudan Urgently After Egyptian Diplomat Killed

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to EU presents credentials to European Council president

KSA relief group offers medical services to Syrians

OIC condemns ‘terrorist’ attacks in Mali

Saudi Fund for Development signs two agreements in Kyrgyzstan

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South Asia

First Army Formation To Reach Dhaka During 1971 Bangladesh War Celebrates 60 Years

Islamic Emirate Policies Are Not Under Anyone’s Influence: Acting FM

Taliban rejects Pentagon report about presence of ISIS in Afghanistan

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant and why Hollywood is afraid of the war in Afghanistan

Islamic Emirate Denies Washington Post's Report on Daesh in Afghanistan

UN Meeting on Afghanistan Will Not Discuss Recognition: Faiq

Bangladesh swears in new President ahead of election

Shahabuddin Chuppu takes oath as Bangladesh’s 22nd president

Lightning strikes kill 9 in Bangladesh

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India

Supreme Court Sends All Cases Against Stand-Up Comic Munawar Faruqui, For Allegedly Hurting Religious Sentiments, To Indore

Makeshift Mosque Removed In Hyderabad After Complaint From Hindu Groups

Karnataka Govt Decision Scrapping 4 Per Cent Quota To Muslims Will Not Be Implemented Till May 9: SC

BJP Leader Sees Guddu Muslim Link In Sambalpur Violence

Atiq Ahmed's henchman Guddu Muslim last located in Odisha, Chhattisgarh

BJP Doesn’t Need Muslim Votes: Senior Karnataka BJP MLA KS Eshwarappa

CLP leader flays Amit Shah’s statement on Muslim quota

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Pakistan

Pakistani, Indian Border Forces Exchange Sweets On Eid ul Fitr

Pakistanis among foreigners evacuated from Sudan

12 martyred, dozens wounded in blasts inside Swat CTD

Army chief spends Eid day with troops on Afghan border

Army Chief Gen Asim Munir reaches China on 4-day visit, says ISPR

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Africa

Muslims In Awka Eulogise Obi, Say Allegations Against Him False

Frytol celebrates Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr with Muslim community

Rite Foods urges refreshing moments for Muslims with its quality brands for Eid el-Fitri celebration

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/us-afghan-taliban-isis-afghanistan-pentagon/d/129641

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 US Using Afghan Taliban To Fight ISIS In Afghanistan, Says Leaked Pentagon Document

 

The Afghan Taliban have expressed willingness to help the United States (US) in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan Image Courtesy AP

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April 25, 2023

Washington: Barely a couple of years after compelling the United States (US) to pull out its military forces from Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban have started engaging with their former adversaries – this time as allies.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the Afghan Taliban have expressed willingness to help the United States (US) in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban had captured Kabul in August 2021 when the United Stated (US) and its NATO allies withdrew from Afghanistan after two decades of war. Since then, the Taliban has been battling the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).

Classified documents with the Pentagon have claimed that the ISIS has been trying to use Afghanistan as a staging ground to plot terrorist attacks against the United States (US) and countries across Asia and Europe.

The Washington Post quoted a senior US defence official as saying that since Afghan Taliban is a natural enemy of the ISIS in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has decided to form an alliance with the current rulers of Kabul.

“I would never want to say that we had mortgaged our counterterrorism to a group like the Taliban, but it’s a fact that, operationally, they put pressure on ISIS-K. In a strange world, we have mutually beneficial objectives there,” the official told the Washington Post.

“The Taliban has served as a check on the ISIS in Afghanistan,” he added.

Leaked reports from US intelligence agencies have revealed that the Pentagon views the Islamic State (ISIS) – particularly the terrorist group’s Afghanistan branch known as ISIS-K – as a potent threat.

According to media reports, US officials have claimed that Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeria had shared the leaked documents on a personal Discord server before posting them online for the general public.

However, the Afghan Taliban has rejected the assessment in the leaked US intelligence documents and have branded them as incorrect.

“Such reports reflect personal desires of their authors. The fact is that the ISIS has no physical presence in Afghanistan as it had during the invasion,” Afghan Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the media.

Source: firstpost.com

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

https://www.firstpost.com/world/us-using-afghan-taliban-to-fight-isis-in-afghanistan-says-leaked-pentagon-document-12501822.html

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Taiwan Is Able To Engage With Predominantly Muslim Nations Through Islam

 

Taipei Grand Mosque. Photo by Filip Noubel, used with permission.

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Written by Filip Noubel

25 April 2023

Taiwan is a predominantly Buddhist and Taoist society yet it counts several religious minorities, including Muslims. According to various estimates there are about 250,000 Muslims on the island, thus representing around one percent of the total population.

Taiwan's Muslims are predominantly Sunni, and originate from different migration waves. Of the estimated 250,000, about 60,000 belong to the Chinese Muslim community, also known as Hui () in Chinese or as Dungan in Central Asia. The Hui are Chinese who converted to Islam as early as the seventh century and sometimes intermarried with Arab and Persian traders. Some of them moved from mainland China to Taiwan as the ethnic Chinese colonization started in the 17th century. Another wave moved after 1949 when the Kuomintang lost the civil war to the Communists and fled to the island, thereby imposing its rule over Taiwan. An estimated 20,000 Hui soldiers served in the Kuomintang army and eventually settled in Taiwan with their families. Finally, a third wave of Chinese Muslims who had relations with Taiwan and/or the Kuomintang moved from Thailand and Myanmar in the 1980s and created a small Muslim center in New Taipei City.

The vast majority of Taiwan's Muslims are migrant workers from Southeast Asia, mostly Indonesia and Malaysia. They do not have Taiwanese citizenship and typically come for only a few years, with women largely working as domestic, health, or hospitality workers and men finding employment in factories or on fishing boats. None of those countries recognize Taiwan officially as an independent state, but they maintain vibrant economic, tourism, and labor relations and have representative offices on the island.

A well-established presence

Islam is present across Taiwan but perhaps more visible in Taipei, where the Grand Mosque is established and sits on the side of the Da'an Park (大安森林公園) — a major landmark in the center of the city. It was built in 1960 and has maintained special ties with Saudi Arabia. Its architect,  Yang Cho-cheng (楊卓成), also designed some of Taipei's most renowned landmark buildings, such as the Taipei Grand Hotel, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, National Theater and Concert Hall.

The Chinese Muslim Association (中國回教協會), which keeps its reference to China in its name as it was established in 1938 in mainland China, plays a key role for local Muslims as the largest Islamic organization in the community. It also plays an indirect diplomatic role as it maintains relations and exchanges with Muslim nations that do not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country, yet engage with the island economically and religiously.

Eid al-Fitr: A celebration for Muslims and non-Muslims alike

On Sunday, April 23, a public celebration to mark the end of Ramadan, known in Arabic as Eid al-Fitr (Holiday of breaking the fast), took place in Da'an Park. The event has been a yearly occurrence since 2016 with the support of the Taipei City government and other governmental departments. The celebration included small stands promoting food, drinks, clothes, and souvenirs from the Muslim world. It also provided information on Islam in general and its role in Taiwan, as well as leaflets and counseling to migrant workers — most of whom are from Indonesia.

The official ceremony also drew notable public figures, including Taipei's mayor Chiang Wan-an (Kuomintang party), and the heads of representative offices of Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. The mayor insisted on the need to develop Muslim-friendly tourism, as tourists from such countries tend to travel in larger groups and have specific needs that could boost an industry that was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to this The New Lens article:

A music performance followed, showing how non-Muslim Taiwanese also participate in the promotion of Arabic, Turkish, and Iranian culture. One local band, called TabRaqs, performed Egyptian and Turkish songs played on Middle-Eastern instruments, as can be seen on their Instagram account:

For a country that only has full diplomatic relations with 13 countries — none being a predominantly Muslim nation — Islam represents yet another vector of engagement and an opportunity to showcase Taiwan as a tolerant and democratic country.

Source: globalvoices.org

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

https://globalvoices.org/2023/04/25/end-of-ramadan-in-taipei-shows-role-of-islam-in-taiwans-diplomacy/

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Muslim Students Of Minnesota Voice Concerns Over Rising Islamophobia Across The United States

 

FILE - Secretary of State Antony Blinken tours the "Burma's Path To Genocide" exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, March 21, 2022.

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April 24, 2023

As Ramadan comes to a close, Muslim University of Minnesota students want to draw attention to Islamophobic violence across the United States.

Some Muslim students believe America has yet to acknowledge the impact of Islamophobia, Internal Vice President of the University’s Muslim Student Association Husaam Qureishy, said.

“It’s important to bring it up over and over again to ensure it’s not swept under the rug,” Qureishy said. “These issues are still happening.”

A 2019 report from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that fear of and discrimination against Muslims was on the rise nationwide.

Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced legislation condemning white supremacy and Islamophobia on the first full day of Ramadan, March 23. The final day of Ramadan, the month-long holiday in Islam that includes fasting from sunup to sundown, was Thursday.

Omar’s resolution also addressed the impact gun violence and mass shootings have on Muslim communities by committing to end gun violence and disavowing attacks on places of worship.

With the terror attacks inspired by the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shooting in 2019 and a rise in Islamophobia across the country over the past few years, Omar said the government must do more to protect religious groups.

“We must reaffirm that all people of faith should have the right to worship without fear,” Omar said in a statement announcing the resolution.

The resolution also recognizes the threat white supremacy poses in radicalizing people and encouraging violence against religious minorities.

The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where it currently sits.

Zayna Amanat, a Muslim student at the University, said Islamophobia is a pressing issue that’s continually ignored.

“It’s honestly pretty annoying that this is the system we live in. The approach to violence, the weapons of violence, and the acts of violence aren’t going away,” Amanat said. “It doesn’t feel like the government actually cares.”

Government Affairs Director for the Council on American Islamic Relations Robert McCaw said hateful beliefs drive anti-Muslim attacks.

“This reprehensive act of violence was driven by the extremist ideologies of white supremacy, Islamophobia and the so-called ‘Great Replacement Theory,’” McCaw said. “Too many lives have been lost in the name of hate.”

The “Great Replacement Theory” is a belief primarily held in the U.S. and certain other Western countries. It is a far-right conspiracy theory that left-leaning elites are trying to replace white citizens with nonwhite immigrants, including Black, Hispanic, Asian and Arab immigrants, according to the Britannica Dictionary.

While many Muslim students agree with the resolution, some, like Amanat, feel more needs to be done.

“A majority of the government doesn’t care about the people they’re meant to serve. Real change can only happen when those people leave,” Amanat said. “I think it’s important that they [not] only do things like this, but they need to keep doing things like this.”

Source: mndaily.com

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

https://mndaily.com/276828/news/muslim-students-voice-concerns-over-rising-islamophobia/

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Dozens Of Israeli Flags Adorn Ibrahimi Mosque In Hebron

 

Israeli flags seen on Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, West Bank on 5 May 2022 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

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24 April, 2023

Israeli forces have adorned Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque with dozens of Israeli flags as part of ‘celebrations’ to mark Israel’s national memorial day, which commemorates the Israeli declaration of independence. 

 Flags stretched along the perimeter of The mosque compound's high walls, in what many Palestinians see as an act of rampant provocation in the midst of a rising tide of Israeli violence across the Occupied West Bank.

Hebron has been the site of Israeli aggression and land grabs for decades. In 1994, Jewish fanatic Baruch Goldstein burst into the sacred mosque during Ramadan prayers and opened fire with an Israeli assault rifle, killing at least 30 Palestinian worshippers.

Until recently, Israel's national security minister and extremist settler Itamar Ben-Gvir displayed a picture of the murderer Goldstein in his offices.

The mosque compound is holy to all three Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - but Israel's expansionary settler movement has for years been keen claim the Prophet Abraham’s tomb.

Nearly thirty years on since Goldstein’s massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque, roughly 60 percent of the mosque compound is now accessible only for Jewish worshippers.

Source: newarab.com

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

https://www.newarab.com/news/dozens-israeli-flags-adorn-ibrahimi-mosque-hebron

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How Ramadan and Eid Advertising Is Changing Around the World

 

Photo: lbbonline.com/news

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Mon, 24 Apr 2023

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is a key celebration in the marketing calendar, but the way brands engage with it differs wildly depending on where you’re sitting in the world. In countries with a Muslim majority, brands and agencies have a well-developed and sophisticated understanding of cultural nuances and contemporary trends. Creatives enjoy bringing together the sincere spiritual, charitable and family-focused aspects of the festival with technology and, where appropriate, a sense of playfulness.

In other parts of the world, Ramadan and connecting with Muslim consumers throughout the year is something that is relatively new to brands and creative agencies. And that marketing is evolving to fit the specific cultural contexts.

First, to understand the opportunities and potential pathways for brands, it’s worth getting a handle of Ramadan marketing at its most cutting edge. For that you need to look to markets with large Muslim populations - for example across the MENA region in countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon you’ll find rich emotional storytelling, humour and incredibly smart tech and data-driven experiences and innovations (check out the 2023 Ramadan trends from the MENA region here).

Equally, South East Asia is another part of the world where you can find brands competing to stand out in the busiest shopping period of the year. While the tried and tested formulas of sentimental TV ads have become an annual highlight, marketers are finding they’re having to refresh their approach and innovate in the face of demanding gen Z.

By contrast, in non-Muslim majority countries like the UK, Australia and the USA, Ramadan and Eid-related marketing is still a developing phenomenon, that’s just starting to scrape the surface.

Indonesia

In Indonesia, it doesn’t get bigger for marketers than Ramadan. While it is a secular country,  it is the most populous Muslim-majority country and home to over 230 million followers.

To say that Ramadan is a colossal time for Indonesian businesses would be an understatement, as Ajay Tawde, head of experience at Ogilvy Indonesia points out. “Every year the impact of Ramadan on the Indonesian economy is significant. The Indonesian government estimates that Ramadan-related spending accounts for up to 2% of the country’s GDP. Mudik (home-coming) is a mass-migration when Indonesians travel to their hometowns for Idul Fitri (Eid). In 2023, the Indonesian government estimates, 27 million private cars and 25 private motorcycles will be used for Mudik,” he says. “The Indonesian Ramadan is not only a time of spiritual reflection but also an essential economic event for the country. The grand festivities and increased consumer spending during Ramadan highlight the significance of this month in Indonesia.”

To really comprehend the surge in spending during this time of year there’s one thing you need to know: employers are mandated by the government to pay people extra, dispensing a Religious Holiday Allowance (Tunjangan Hari Raya). So there’s literally more money in everyone’s pocket.

Small wonder, then, that it’s the time of year where marketers and agencies pull out their biggest and most impressive TV ads. TV is also popular in the evening, when families are breaking their fast together.

“TV is still a prominent medium during Ramadan and the prime hours are before dusk and before dawn,” explains Khaira Chandra, senior strategist at Wunderman Thompson Indonesia. “During this time, TV is used to alert viewers to the call of prayer to signify the time to break the fast at dusk, and as a companion while suhoor, the meal before the dawn before the fast, starts.”

“Television commercials during Ramadan are equivalent to Super Bowl ads, where marketers dedicate a big portion of their advertising and promotional spend on that one significant event,” says  Joseph Tan, CEO of Romp, part of Accenture Song. “During this season, most brands from every category, including state-owned enterprises, would be actively propagating messages of forgiveness, reflection and family togetherness in their marketing effort. Typically, food, beverages, snack and telco would be the more prominent categories considering the ritual of sahur (meal before fasting), the time leading to break-fasting and meal consumption during break-fast itself. Returning to hometown for Lebaran in a brand-new motorcycle or car speaks volumes of one’s progress; hence automotive has a considerable share of marketing presence to help attain those aspirations.”

Romp, part of Accenture Song’s Hari Raya campaign for Telkomsel, the largest telco provider in Indonesia, where we showcased how Telkomsel can help forge kinship not just at your destination with family but also with strangers during the journey.

Over the years, brands have become an integral part of the annual celebrations. Both Ajay Tawde and Khaira Chandra say that flavoured syrup brand Marjan’s annual ad is the campaign that truly signals that Ramadan has arrived.

“Marjan always brings alive the spirit of Ramadan across Indonesia by staying to the message that Ramadan is more joyful when you share it with others. Their communication has used a beautiful fusion of Indonesian folklore modernised for the challenges faced by Indonesian Muslims during Ramadan today,” says Ajay.

“There is a popular saying of, ‘if you stumble upon new Marjan videos and see Marjan start to get prominent display in supermarkets, then you know it’s approaching Ramadan’,” agrees Khaira.

Other brands that are known for their Ramadan marketing include tea brand Teh Botol Sosro whose ‘90s slogan ‘Berbuka Dengan Yang Manis’ (‘Break your fast with the sweet one’) is still popular today. Khong Guan biscuit brand is another that viewers look forward to.

Covid-19 has cast a long shadow over the past few years’ Ramadan celebrations - this year, with restrictions finally more or less lifted, there's been a real excitement around a real reunion.

“Most Muslims are excited about the much anticipated in-person family reunion this Eid as covid domestic travel restrictions were in place for the past two years,” says Joseph Tan. ”Hence brands would be eager to leverage this and promote how their products or services would be significant or able to enhance these monumental moments. More importantly, we believe that Mudik (the quintessential trip back to one’s hometown) would be the contextual focal point for most brands this year.

However, that’s not to say that consumers will be carelessly spending. Still reeling from the impact of covid, and with a wary eye on the choppy global economy, many consumers are keen to make sure they don’t fritter away their THR allowance, as Ajay at Ogilvy explains.

“The last three years covid-19 changed not just life during Ramadan but also how Ramadan was celebrated. In the past few years, while Ramadan was muted due to movement, restrictions and uncertainty it was still imbued with hope and optimism,” says Ajay. “While covid-19 might not be as big a caution during Ramadan 2023, there is on-going volatility in consumer minds due to inflation, war, layoffs, and the possibility of recession,” they say. “Ramadan brings along THR (Tunjangan Hari Raya) a festive bonus given to all employees often called 13th month salary. THR empowers consumers to participate in celebrations and festivities. However, consumers are preparing to take some calculated measure to ensure they do not splurge uncontrollably.”

Indeed, in their recent research into how Indonesia’s gen Z feel about Ramadan, M&C Saatchi found that young people would prefer to save money and spend on second hand fashions. If ‘deinfluencing’ has really hit Ramadan, brands should take note.

“I think what surprised us was how pragmatic they are in the way they are looking at life,” says Anish Daryani, founder and president director at M&C Saatchi Indonesia. “They know things aren't easy, they know things are getting tougher. So when we heard they wanted to cut their spending by 75%, that was a bit of a shock. A lot of them said they wouldn't shop at all.”

More generally, as businesses race to shoehorn their brands and products into Ramadan, there’s also increasing scepticism about authenticity, particularly brands that make overblown use of the word ‘halal’ to describe their goods on the shonkiest of premises.

Moreover, socially aware young people with gen Z’s sense of justice are scrutinising brands’ credentials. Charitable giving is a key tenet of Ramadan and an important value for Indonesia's youth. Smart brands are adapting and figuring out how to communicate more authentically.

“Brands feel the need to be a little bit more genuine, especially when they're trying to connect with the younger audiences, because they can really see through the facade,” says Anish.” And so therefore, there is an attempt to try not to exaggerate or try to be a little bit more genuine in the message that they want to send out. So fundamentally, the messaging remains the same, that doesn't change, the sense of Ramadan remains the same. But the way it’s being delivered is evolving, it is more contemporary, it's more thought provoking, and aligned to social causes, aligned to solving societal problems.”

Brands are also shifting in accordance with gen Z habits, showing up beyond the traditional TV ads on platforms like TikTok. Trends like shop streaming are also proving to be hugely popular.

“Since putting ads on TV during Ramadan is very costly, brands get creative on digital,” says Khaira at Wunderman Thompson. “For example, there is a rising trend of using TikTok Shops live stream to engage directly with audiences. Scrolling TikTok and watching the live stream can be an activity to kill time – and sometimes when a brand or a seller’s account has reached a certain number of viewers, TikTok will give a random discount making viewers anticipate the drastic and sudden discount. This further enhances the popularity of TikTok Shops in Indonesia.”

Indeed, Tiktok in particular sees a surge of shoppers around Ramadan as Ajay explains. “Live shopping via marketplaces (Lazada, Shopee, Tokopedia) as well as TikTok has become extremely popular during Ramadan in Indonesia. The popularity shows an ongoing re-orientation of a transactional e-commerce shopper to a more involved ‘consumer’. TokopediaPlay (the livestreaming platform of the ecommerce marketplace) saw a seven times increase in total live streaming views during the month of Ramadan. Ngabuburit (leisure time prior to breaking fast) especially has become an important period of live shopping. In 2021 TikTok debuted its livestreaming function on the first full day of Ramadan. In 2022 an internal study by the platform revealed that 67% of TikTok users shopped more during Ramadan.”

Indonesia during Ramadan can be hot and humid, and the countdown to Iftar can try people’s patience - and that’s led to one really curious behavioural trend. People are turning to gaming to while away the minutes. “Gaming has become very popular during that time, so it helps them if they're really hungry, and they're starving and impatient for the fast to break. Mobile gaming has emerged as a sort of the distractor to be able to focus attention also,” says Anish.

It’s not just tech and gen Z tastes that’s changing up Ramadan advertising in Indonesia, there’s also an evolution in the way women are portrayed. That, says Khaira at Wunderman Thompson, is something to be really optimistic about. “There has been progress in women empowerment. The past few years have seen brands communicating how the role of women is changing, and they need not follow societal expectations fully. Since Eid is the time for families to reunite, often women face questions around their single lives, whether they will get married or when they will have kids. Olay Indonesia used their platform to launch a campaign, #LiveWithoutLines, that shows how Indonesian women can answer these questions. “

Malaysia

In Malaysia, Islam is the national religion so Ramadan and Eid are a huge celebration, even for non-Muslims. Munas Van Boonstra is managing director at Media.Monks Malaysia and she says that it’s the busiest retail period of the year, with consumers spending more than at any other time. On the one hand, there are the festive necessities - food, kitchenware and fashion - but there’s also a push on big ticket items like TVs, appliances, cars and motorcycles and home furnishings.

“Therefore, media spends for brands and industries during this massive retail window is much higher than usual and for some brands would be the highest in the year. Malaysia is expecting higher spending this year since the start of the pandemic in 2020,” says Munas.

Competition is fierce and, says Munas, brands are pushing hard on digital and social channels. “Brands have to invest into multiple video formats across multiple platforms, engage content creators, personalisation at scale and look into shoppertainment,” says Munas, who also says that brands need to adapt to consumer expectations. “Marketers should consider bundles and packages as consumers look for them.”

However, big brand TVCs are a central part of the mix for Ramadan and Eid. Every year, Malaysia looks forward to rich, long-format storytelling ads from organisations like Watsons, TNB (the country’s electricity board), and Petronas as well as numerous FMCG and financial sector brands.Munas was involved in this 2021 campaign for Malaysian telecomms company Maxis. The campaign, Raya Si Sakan #NikmatRayaBersama saw them turn their prime festive adspace into a space for small enterprises to promote their products and services.

“The brand storytelling ranges from religious, heartwarming, highlighting the less fortunate, encouragement of charitable acts and directing communities towards good deeds to comedy,” says Munas.

There’s one ad that’s risen above the rest as the mainstay of the season: the campaigns from Malaysian business leader and so-called King of Dates Yusuf Taiyoob. His distinct breathy voiceovers have become iconic.

“Yusuf Taiyoob’s iconic whisper ad literally signals to Malaysians year on year that it’s Ramadan time!” laughs Munas.

It’s also a time of year that frees brands up to connect with consumers in a different way. “This is the season where we see a lot of sentimental and emotional marketing with a higher than usual focus on charitable giving,” says Munas. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to drive an empathic side of their brand instead of potentially the usual sales-driven messaging.”

That being said, consumers are increasingly scrutinising brands’ activity to ensure they are truly lining up with the values they espouse during the Holy Month. “Brands need to ensure that their Ramadan marketing campaigns are authentic and aligned with their brand values. Consumers are increasingly looking for brands that are genuine, so brands need to avoid appearing opportunistic or insincere. I have seen brands force feeding their brand house messaging.”

UK

Nearly 7% of the UK population is Muslim - according to the most recent UK census that’s 3.87 million people - and more businesses are starting to realise the extent of the opportunity. However, it’s fair to say that the local marketing community is undergoing an inconsistent transition with significant wins and a fair few cringe-inducing misses.

Arif Miah is creative strategy director of Mud Orange, a London-based creative agency that works across fashion and food to finance, creating impactful campaigns that are deeply rooted in contemporary culture and authentically engage multicultural audiences. As he points out, Ramadan and Eid are catalysts for a bustling seasonal economy.

“In Piccadilly Circus, London, ‘Happy Ramadan’ lights were switched on to mark the start of Ramadan and will remain in place until Eid.  As Muslims fast during the day, there is a huge Ramadan economy that’s bustling across the 30 nights as people visit mosques, eat out with friends, play sports, go to the gym and more to make the most of non-fasting hours. You just have to visit a Muslim prominent area to see the lively vibe as communities come together to celebrate. “

Historically, the biggest and most active advertisers in the UK around Ramadan have been Muslim charities. “Ramadan is the Super Bowl for British charity giving, as British Muslims are expected to donate £60 every single second across the month. So, there’s loads of advertising from charities and donation platforms to raise money, with promises of 100% donation policies to attract donors during this charity giving season,”  says Arif.

His agency Mud Orange worked with Givematch, the donation-matching tech platform, to launch its first ever Ramadan campaign to give British Muslims a smart, social and fun way to fulfil their charity goals. “To stand out against the charity congestion, we tapped into the need to achieve ‘more’ during Ramadan. We found that during Ramadan, life goes on steroids as there’s more getting together with friends and family, more prayers, more giving, more blessings, and ironically more food! So we produced the campaign ‘Moment for more’, which doubles down on this cultural insight, showing that British Muslims can supersize their Ramadan through Givematch. The creative uses language and terms synonymous with Ramadan giving such as Donation Policies, Zakat & Sadaqah, but flips it on its head to flaunt the power of donation matching - injecting a fun tech flavour to disrupt the outdated approach most charities take during the season.”

This year, brands have stepped up with campaigns that seek to strike a chord with British Muslims. Uber Eats’ Iftar Incoming activity playfully acknowledges the temporal nature of fasting. Adidas has teamed up with Muslim hikers to launch a prayer mat that makes the great outdoors more accessible to Muslims. But perhaps the biggest mainstream brand to engage with Ramadan at the widest scale is supermarket Tesco.

Last year Tesco grabbed headlines with an outdoor campaign centred on Iftar, the evening meal that signifies the end of the fast. Their huge digital billboards filled up as evening drew nearer. This year Tesco has gone further with a huge campaign centred on a Ramadan-specific TVC that focuses on the wonder of the festival. For the ‘Together This Ramadan’ work, creative agency BBH worked with strategic diversity and inclusion consultancy The Unmistakables, as well as collaborating with Tesco’s own Muslim colleague network.

That research is paying off and enabling work that resonates. “It's great to see that brands have educated themselves to create campaigns showcasing the true meaning of Ramadan,” says Fida Khalid, social media & marketing manager at Untold Fable, UK. “Contrary to popular belief, Ramadan is the best month of our year. We can’t wait for it to come and never want it to end when it does. You wouldn’t think that depriving ourselves of food and water would make us so utterly happy. We don’t care to fill the emptiness in our stomachs, but rather the emptiness in our hearts and souls from trying to be the best Muslims we can be, even if it’s just for 30 days, and to see brands illustrate the beauty of this is just heartwarming.”

It’s perhaps unsurprising that it’s supermarkets like Tesco that have taken the lead - even before these big mass campaigns, with Eid aisles and such. As Arif points out, the extended period of feasting is unlike any other festival in the UK.

“Supermarkets have led the way over the last 10 years with their Ramadan aisles. Unlike what most will assume, fasting during the day means feasting during the night – it’s like 30 Christmas dinners!” he emphasises. “So Supermarkets dedicate a seasonal aisle dedicated to Ramadan, and although the range of products are pretty stereotypical and don’t acknowledge trends in Ramadan cooking, supermarkets have consistently served British Muslims well.

Fida is keen to work on a Ramadan campaign - pointing out Untold Fable’s diverse talent network - but as an observer, she too has largely noticed the advertising from supermarkets and charities. “The only brands I’ve ever seen taking a role in Ramadan have been Muslim charities or supermarket brands. Looking back at marketing efforts within the UK, Tesco has always been at the forefront of Ramadan marketing in the UK, taking the initiative to get involved annually with Ramadan campaigns stretching back a good few years. I believe their efforts come from their rewards. By tapping into a lucrative consumer need, Tesco has established a new customer base from the enormous market of Muslim consumers within the UK, a significantly large scale audience that brands are unaware of as Muslims contribute millions towards sales, such as the £200 million spent on goods during the 2021 Ramadan alone.”

Outside of the supermarket and food space, other sectors are starting to get in on the action, though it has largely been a fairly narrow and limited affair. “More recently, fashion and beauty brands have played a role during Ramadan, from The Body Shop Eid gift sets, MAC cosmetics' Ramadan range, H&M’s modest collection, to ASOS Ramadan Edits. Throughout the month there is a continuous ‘hum’ of brand activity, but the vast majority of brand activity is isolated to their own channels such as in-store fixtures, website tabs or email blasts,” says Arif. “Whilst activity is rising year on year, Ramadan and Eid is still yet to be acknowledged as a brand moment which results in the lack of creative attention.”

Fida agrees. The brands that are engaging represent small pinpricks in a largely apathetic media landscape. “Personally, I don’t think there is a strong presence of Ramadan or Eid in the UK,” she says. “Maybe it’s a lack of general education or media coverage, but I always have to remind the non-muslims around me that it’s Ramadan.”

Nonetheless there have been significant shifts in the Ramadan marketing landscape. For one thing, Arif says there's a growing understanding of the true meaning and significance. of Ramadan. “It’s been great to see brands start to recognise Ramadan as an Islamic month rather than a month for ‘Asians & Arabs’. For far too long Ramadan has been visualised by dangling lanterns and samosas (not even a joke). Today, we see brands trying to engage the Muslim experience by tapping into quirky cultural insights that are beneath the surface.”

Another welcome shift is that international brands are starting to understand British Muslim culture and experience as distinct and unique. “It’s great to see a concerted effort to produce localised creative ideas. For a long time, campaigns and executions have been imported from the Middle East which fall flat and go viral for all the wrong reasons (see MAC makeup mishap). Even though there’s still very shallow activity, it’s great to see brands starting to have the British Muslim experience in mind.”

However, there’s still a lot of progress to be made and for every brand that makes an effort to engage with Muslim creators and experts and takes the time to make a meaningful connection, there are brands that see nothing but ‘£’ signs. Perhaps the most egregious example this year is fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing, which has been heavily criticised for selling skimpy sleepwear and revealing dresses under its Ramadan edit.

“Like come on, front plunge sleepwear for Ramadan?” laughs Arif. “Marketing teams need to work with creative partners that understand the cultural moment and how your brand can best play a role across all touchpoints.”

Brands and businesses in the UK are very much in the foothills when it comes to Ramadan and Eid - Arif can’t wait for marketers to get past the sense of novelty.  “Although there’s been some good progress, the campaigns we see this year are fixated on the cultural nuances without considering the cultural experience. So whilst it’s attracted attention from the marketing community, it doesn't really add any value or creative connection with British Muslims. There’s almost a fetishisation around food and time with basic execution which doesn’t excite British Muslims. Whilst Ramadan is a time to connect with God, it’s also a time for togetherness, community, rejuvenation and resolution – it’s like Christmas and New year all in one. It will be great to see fully fledged campaigns that champions the essence of Ramadan beyond the cultural quirks that others find interesting.”

Australia

In Australia, Ramadan is a festival that’s growing in significance and major brands are starting to pay attention. In the most recent Australian census, 813,392 people identified themselves as being part of the Islamic faith, which is 3.2% of the population. That number is a 34.6% increase on the previous census.

“There is a large and growing community for whom this is the most important time on their cultural calendar. And increasingly, organisations, brands, and audiences recognise this every year and embrace the traditions and engagement opportunities that Ramadan and Eid provide,” says Lou Petrolo, managing partner at Etcom, WPP Australia’s multicultural communications agency.

As more organisations focus on diversity and inclusion, and brands are becoming more open with their involvement, it’s becoming seen as less of niche interest and more as an exciting opportunity to connect.

“Major brands are being more overt and open with their involvement in Ramadan. Ramadan is now often part of their communications strategy, and they are publicising their involvement and promoting their products and services beyond channels that only speak to the Islamic community. More and more brands are looking to showcase their offering to the community through Ramadan and EID events,” says Lou.

However CultureVerse is a multicultural communications and engagement business (part of the Think HQ group). Jessica Billimoria (head of CultureVerse), Farida Sharifi (senior community engagement coordinator) and Nicolas Ojeda Amador (localisation & production executive) note that this engagement isn’t universal and that Ramadan activity isn’t as prominent as other cultural festivals and events throughout the year. “The most noticeable brands taking a role in Ramadan are major supermarkets. Then we tend to see many smaller retailers and restaurants tying their marketing approach with Ramadan and Eid. It’s actually surprising that Kmart hasn’t jumped on board!” they say. “However, perhaps given this celebration is so connected to faith and religious practices we wonder if brands are more hesitant to leverage it as a marketing opportunity compared to something like Lunar New Year?”

Lou points to the incredibly popular Ramadan Nights cultural celebration in the Sydney neighbourhood of Lakemba. In 2022, it attracted over 1.2 million people - more than the Muslim population of the country - and it’s predicted that this year’s outing will be even more popular. It’s something that the CultureVerse team has evolved from an informal gathering to a more organised festival.

“While some people feel it’s lost its roots as a Muslim event, CultureVerse’s senior community engagement coordinators first experienced the market in March this year and felt it took her back to her childhood and the buzz of Ramadan she experienced in Pakistan,” they say.

CultureVerse highlights that there’s more exciting and relevant media platforming stories around Ramadan. “New ideas like the new podcast  ‘My Ramadan’ by SBS which features well-known Muslim personalities and everyday Australians sharing their experiences of Ramadan and Eid. It builds understanding in an engaging and accessible way, about what this celebration is and how things are changing.”

There are plenty of examples of big brands stepping up. Etcom has worked with Woolworths, who acknowledge Ramadan by including more fresh fruit and other product lines like dates and dried fruits, which are traditionally used to break fast. They also supply free water to communities via mosques. They’ve also worked with MoneyGram, who activate incentives and special offers to help the community in sending money to loved ones overseas. Major retail and leisure brand Westfield extends its trading hours at shopping centres to allow Muslims to shop and eat before sunrise and into the evening during the festival.

Meta Australia has been celebrating Ramadan with a range of initiatives, joining forces with Muslim creators and organisations, who will be sharing their experiences across platforms like Facebook and Instagram. KitKat is also promoting its Ramadan gift boxes to Australian customers, and in recent years major local advertiser Meat and Livestock Australia has stepped into marketing lamb during Ramadan, focusing on the great supply of very fresh and Halal red meat available in Australia.

One of Culture Verse’s biggest projects is around creating supportive driver safety campaigns that remind fasting drivers to take precautions. “We tend to work with a lot of government clients, and we’re seeing road safety messaging connected to Ramadan and targeted to communities who are fasting during this time. Driver fatigue connected to fasting has played a role in road accidents and deaths in the past, so we’ve worked on proactive messaging in English and additional languages, with bespoke and culturally-tailored visuals to bring a reminder about road safety and fatigue to communities at risk.”

From Lou’s perspective, it’s not enough for brands to just dash out some ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ messaging. “Brands must authentically engage with communities before, during and after the month to build trust, credibility and loyalty among the audience. Brands that show accurate cultural understanding and a commitment to the community are the ones that establish prominence, affinity and longevity with the Islamic community.

USA

hen it comes to Ramadan and Eid, it’s instructive to compare the USA with the UK. Both countries have a similarly-sized Muslim population - in America 3.45 million people follow Islam according to the Pew Research centre. However, retail brands are only starting to dip their toes in the water with Eid collections - a recent Associated Press report revealed that Target and Party City have been featuring Ramadan goods in store, while Walmart’s collection only has a presence online. Mainstream, above the line campaigns? Not quite.

There are a few possible reasons for that. While in real terms, the Muslim community is sizeable, it still represents just 1.1% of the population. Moreover, many Muslims in the USA are recent immigrants, with 58% of Muslims over the age of 18 in the USA born overseas.

W. Sky Downing is VP strategy director at Hero Collective and she’s an American adlander who has had the opportunity to see the potential for Ramadan up close, having worked in the MENA region for four years on brands like Infiniti, UNHCR (United Nations), Nido, Kit Kat, Canon, and Lux.

“I worked with the UNHCR in Lebanon during the Syrian refugee crisis, which was an eye-opening experience,” she recalls. “One of the projects I worked on was how to expand the giving season of Ramadan beyond the 30 days and keep the donations coming in throughout the year. I helped with their storytelling strategy and how to capture content, encouraging them not just to document the tragedies that were happening and why the money was needed, but to follow stories that showed where the money was going and how it changed people’s lives.”

However, W. Sky believes that brands in the USA are hesitant and yet to truly engage with the Muslim community as a significant part of American culture. She notes that racial and religious discrimination still disproportionately impacts American Muslims.

“I would be remiss not to acknowledge the history of anti-muslim sentiment in the United States and the legacy it still leaves today. According to a recent Gallup poll, Muslims (48%) are more likely than Americans of other major religious groups to say they, personally, have experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year,” she says.

“For improvement to be noted, I think brands have to start accepting that Muslim populations are a vital part of the US population that has been historically under-acknowledged. I believe many American brands are unsure how to approach or remedy this in a meaningful way. The first step, though, begins with learning and understanding.

“For many looking from the outside, the perception of Ramadan is that those of Muslim descent are simply fasting for a 30-day period, not far off what some may do for Lent. However, there is more to it than just fasting. The observance of Ramadan has the ability to teach us love, humility, and patience. And in turn, I learned that there was so much to learn and celebrate, even for those who may not be Muslim or observe this moment each year. So, as we face a cultural evolution of inclusivity, I can’t help but think about how US brands (as well as consumers) can lean into the spirit of the Ramadan season and create a genuine engagement experience that is reflective of the Muslim experience.”

Source: lbbonline.com

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https://www.lbbonline.com/news/how-ramadan-and-eid-advertising-is-changing-around-the-world

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 North America

Bills would add Muslim, Sikh, Asian holidays to state holiday calendar

April 24, 2023

A set of bills introduced in the state House would add Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Asian holidays to Michigan’s official calendar.

The new holidays would be Diwali, Vaisakhi, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and the Lunar New Year.

State Representative Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) is one of the sponsors. He is Muslim and said the roster of sponsors showcases the state’s ethnic and religious diversity.

“This is the byproduct of a reflective democracy when you have people that are elected that come from these backgrounds or understand that lived experience,” he said. “This is the power and the product of when you have people that come from these communities in the halls of power.”

Aiyash said official recognition of these holidays would also make it easier for workers and school districts to arrange time off. “And this is a great first step to begin the conversations of giving folks the opportunity to then discuss with their workplaces, their schools about giving them time off to celebrate their holidays,” Aiyash told Michigan Public Radio.

The legislation would not mandate days off, but school boards, public universities, community colleges and public employers could take those religious celebrations into account when setting academic calendars and in contract bargaining.

Michigan currently has 12 officially recognized holidays, including Christmas Eve and Christmas. The others are Thanksgiving and the adjacent Friday , New Years Eve and New Years Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, July 4th , and Labor Day. Election Day is also recognized as a holiday in even-numbers years.

Source: michiganradio.org

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https://www.michiganradio.org/arts-life/2023-04-24/bills-would-add-muslim-sikh-asian-holidays-to-state-holiday-calendar

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Crimes in Paterson's Muslim community open discussion about mental health stigma

Hannan Adely

NorthJersey.com

Two troubling incidents in Paterson — an imam stabbed during a prayer service and the smearing of feces on the letters “Allah” in a school sign — have sparked conversations about mental health care in the Muslim community.

In both recent cases, the suspects were from Muslim backgrounds and had exhibited alarming behavior. Serif Zorba, of Paterson, has been charged with attempted murder in the stabbing attack. Mohamed Bekheet, of Clifton, was charged with bias intimidation and criminal mischief for allegedly defacing the Dr. Hani Awadallah sign.

In the aftermath of the crimes, there was speculation about why — whether the men had vendettas, were Islamophobic or had mental health issues. Whatever the reason, Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said it was a critical reminder of the need for greater awareness around mental health issues.

“It is a reality we cannot ignore,” he said. “Although it’s something culturally we have shied away from, it’s necessary we have these conversations. We see this in Paterson. If we care for the souls who walk our streets, we should provide resources to them, the same way we provide food or shelter.”

For Muslims, social and cultural stigma may pose a barrier for individuals who need help, but that is starting to shift as more organizations reach out to communities to let them know that mental health care is available and is compatible with the Islamic belief system.

Mosque stabbing, sign defacement spur discussion

On April 9, Zorba allegedly lunged at Imam Sayed Elnakib during early morning prayer, stabbing him twice before he was subdued by worshippers. Zorba, 32, disagreed with the mosque and its leader for collecting money in the “name of Islam,” according to a police affidavit.

Zorba raised alarm at a nearby mosque days earlier when he remained bowed in prayers, with a scarf over his face and head, unmoving for 90 minutes and questioned the imam about why he wore a tie — falsely claiming Islam doesn’t allow it.

A Passaic County judge ordered a psychological evaluation for Zorba. The imam is recovering from two stab wounds that punctured a lung, said mosque President Abdul Hamdan.

The day before the stabbing, Mohamad Bekheet, 32, was arrested for allegedly smearing feces on the sign in front of Dr. Hani Awadallah School, a K-8 building on Marshall Street in Paterson. He blocked out the word “Allah,” which means "God" in Arabic.

On his Facebook page, Bekheet shared in now-deleted posts photographs of the defaced sign and of a torn Quran, the Muslim holy book, lying on the floor in what appeared to be feces. According to state records, Bekheet is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Stigma in the Muslim community

Suzy Ismail, founding director of Princeton-based Cornerstone Counseling Marriage and Family Intervention, stressed that there is no single type of person who might struggle with mental health. She educates people at workshops and wellness events at mosques throughout New Jersey about identifying signs of illness and using preventive techniques.

But obstacles persist. Some Muslims may want to keep such problems hidden, fearing that they would reflect badly on the family. Others believe psychiatry is a Western invention. Among Muslims, there is also a notion that problems can be solved through prayer and faith alone.

But faith and mental health care are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Muslims pioneered humane treatment of mental health conditions during the Islamic Golden Age, a period of scientific, economic and cultural advancement from around the eighth century to the 13th century.

Mental health in Islamic history

Mental health was emphasized by early Islamic scholars, who were among the first people to discuss the concept of talk therapy, Dr. Rania Awaad, a clinical associate professor of psychology at Stanford University School of Medicine, said during a workshop in Paterson in November.

Speaking at the Islamic Center of Passaic County, Awaad said scholars urged people to take care of “mind, body and soul.”

They viewed mental disorders as medical conditions and not something caused by an outside malevolent force — a common belief in Europe at the time. Pioneers in modern medicine, Muslims set up the first mental hospitals as early as the eighth century, using humane treatments and supports for the patient.

At the workshop, called "Understanding Mental Health Needs in the Muslim Community," Awaad also noted that some Muslims may shy away from care because a provider isn’t familiar with their faith, culture or language. She told them more Muslims have entered the field of mental health and can be found via searchable provider databases online.

Muslim leaders and care providers say attitudes are changing. "I'm not sure we'd even be in the masjid [mosque] having this conversation 10 years ago," said Awaad, director of the Stanford Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab.

Muslim therapists help faith be a part of healing

Still, some Muslims believe that prayer and faith alone are enough to deal with mental illness. At Cornerstone Counseling, Ismail emphasizes that faith, along with treatments and therapies, can be part of the healing.

“We work with clients from whatever faith background,” Ismail said. “We find what motivates them, what keeps them going, what is the intrinsic factor that makes them want to seek healing and move forward, whether that is faith or some other element.”

Today, Cornerstone has a wait list for care as more Muslims, like other Americans, are seeking mental health treatment, especially since the COVID pandemic, she said.

At Cornerstone, the staff focuses on elements of community, hope and faith to build resilience when helping clients. "What helps people through a crisis is feeling that there is something better or something more," Ismail said.

Source: www.app.com

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https://www.app.com/story/news/2023/04/25/muslim-mental-health-islamic-therapy-support/70139291007/

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Authorities investigating 2 mosque fires in consecutive days in Minneapolis

April 25, 2023

Emergency crews have responded to fires at two mosques in south Minneapolis over the past two days, and authorities are asking for help identifying a man believed to be involved in one of the fires.

According to the Minneapolis Fire Department, the first fire happened Sunday evening at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center inside the 24 Somali Mall at the corner of 24 Street East and Elliot Avenue South. Mosque security had put out a trash fire in a bathroom before firefighters could arrive.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) said a man went into the mosque with flammable liquid and started the fire. The organization issued a photo of the fire which shows a gas can and some charred debris inside a bathroom stall.

In a statement, CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein says he wants the incident to be investigated as a potential bias-motivated crime.

“If not for the actions of the worshipers, this disturbing incident could have resulted in injuries or even deaths,” Hussein wrote. “We thank fire and law enforcement officials for their response and hope that a motive for this arson attack at a house of worship may be determined. Given past incidents targeting state mosques and Islamic institutions, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this crime.”

Minneapolis police put out a call for help identifying a suspect believed to be involved in Sunday’s fire, releasing the photos below:

On Monday, Minneapolis firefighters responded to another fire near 27th Street East and Bloomington Avenue. The fire department said smoke was showing from the roof of the three-story Mercy Islamic Center.

Crews found a fire on the top floor and evacuated the building; several people, including children, were on the second floor, the fire department said. The fire was extinguished without spreading to other floors, and the building’s structure was not compromised.

No injuries were reported in either fire.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked the Minneapolis Police Department if they’re examining any link between the two fires but has yet to receive a response.

Source: kstp.com

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https://kstp.com/kstp-news/top-news/authorities-investigating-2-mosque-fires-in-consecutive-days-in-minneapolis/

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Southeast Asia

Indian-Origin Malaysian Jailed For Smuggling Animals In Singapore

April 25, 2023

Indians Abroad

Singapore:  A 36-year-old Indian-origin Malaysian was sentenced to 12 months in prison for smuggling 26 puppies and a cat in laundry bags from Malaysia to Singapore, media reports said.

Describing the case as "one of the most serious cases of animal smuggling to date", the National Parks Board (NParks) said one puppy was found dead and 18 subsequently died from canine parvovirus infection, Channel News Asia reported on Monday.

Gobysuwaran Paraman Sivan was sentenced to prison for illegally importing pet animals without a licence and causing the animals unnecessary pain and suffering in the process, the report said.

He smuggled 26 puppies and one cat in a lorry from Malaysia on October 18, 2022.

Immigration officers at Tuas Checkpoint, on the Singapore side of the bridge link with southern Peninsular Malaysia, stopped a Malaysian-registered lorry and found the 27 pets hidden in various compartments of the lorry, according to NParks.

Officers found some animals confined in laundry bags and stowed away in the vehicle's overhead compartment.

Other animals were packed behind the driver and passenger seats in plastic containers, the report added.

"Had these puppies been sold, canine parvovirus might have spread to other dogs in the community," said NParks.

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and relatively common cause of acute, infectious gastrointestinal illness in young, unvaccinated dogs.

Source: ndtv.com

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https://www.ndtv.com/indians-abroad/indian-origin-malaysian-jailed-for-smuggling-animals-in-singapore-3976425

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Vikram Singh appointed CEO of Citi Malaysia

Tuesday, 25 Apr 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Vikram Singh will take the helm as CEO of Citi Malaysia on May 1, 2023, the financial services group said in a statement today.

VIkram will report directly to Citi South Asian and Asean head Amol Gupte as he leads the country team of the Malaysian franchise and oversees the Citi Solutions Centers in the country.

According to Citi, Vikram joined the group in 1999 and has 24 years of corporate banking experience managing 18 markets in Asia Pacific.

He had held various leadership roles in India and the Philippines, covering corporate and investment banking.

His most recent role with Citi was as head of Asia Pacific regional account management, Global Subsidiaries Group in Singapore.

"Malaysia is a key market for Citi and has a strong institutional franchise. Vikram's long career and experience with the firm will be invaluable in leading the next stage of growth in a market that also supports many of our global businesses and functions," said Gupte.

Source: thestar.com

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https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2023/04/25/vikram-singh-appointed-ceo-of-citi-malaysia

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Malaysia’s energy needs face Chinese pushback in South China Sea

25 Apr 2023

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – When Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim made his first official visit to China earlier this month, Chinese officials questioned Malaysia’s oil and gas exploration within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea.

China was concerned that state-owned energy company Petronas “carried out a major activity at an area that is also claimed by China,” Anwar said in response to a parliamentary question on April 4.

Anwar said he told his Chinese counterparts that Malaysia considers the area Malaysian territory and “therefore Petronas will continue its exploration activities there”.

The exchange highlights Beijing’s increasing efforts to pressure Kuala Lumpur not to exploit energy resources under its control, even as Anwar looks to deepen Sino-Malaysian ties, analysts say.

Beijing claims sovereignty over more than 90 percent of the South China Sea via its “nine-dash line”, which cuts into the EEZs of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

In 2016, an international arbitration panel at The Hague ruled that there was no legal basis for Beijing’s claims over the strategic waterway. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries have special rights to exploit natural resources within their EEZ, which extends 200 nautical miles (370km) from the coastline.

“Given that it’s Anwar’s first visit to Beijing in his newfound capacity as Prime Minister, I believe China would have found it opportune to try to convince Malaysia to cease energy work in those concerned areas, especially off Sarawak,” Collin Koh, a research fellow at the Singapore-based Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, told Al Jazeera.

Koh said Beijing is aware of Malaysia’s deep economic ties with China and the economic leverage it is capable of using to prod Kuala Lumpur on the issue.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, with bilateral trade reaching $203.6bn in 2022.

While Anwar did not name the exploration site under dispute, he was widely understood to be referring to the Kasawari gas field located about 200 km (124 miles) off the coast of Sarawak state in Malaysian Borneo.

Chinese vessels and aircraft have repeatedly entered waters and airspace near the gas field in recent years, drawing protests from Kuala Lumpur.

In 2021, then Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he expected more Chinese vessels to enter the area “for as long as” Petronas developed the site, which was discovered in 2011 and contains an estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas resources.

“Kasawari certainly gets as much pressure as any other drilling site in the South China Sea [from Chinese ships],” Greg Polling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative based in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.

“We’ve historically seen the CCG [Chinese Coast Guard] focus on harassing the offshore supply vessels contracted to keep rigs and drilling ships operating,” said Polling, explaining that Chinese ships have been known to intentionally risk collision in order to pressure companies to stop taking contracts servicing the rigs.

Polling said that the Chinese Coast Guard disrupts operations at Kasawari, Vietnam’s Nam Con Son gasfield and Indonesia’s Tuna gasfield because they are the only major projects developed inside the nine-dash line.

Despite its expansive claims in the South China Sea, Beijing has said it wishes to work with Malaysia to handle its differences through dialogue and consultation.

Koh said Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have exercised restraint over the issue despite their differences.

“There’s as yet nothing drastic undertaken beyond the posturing of their maritime forces, whereas the diplomatic communications between these two capitals have largely stayed out of public limelight — to avoid inflaming the situation — via backchannel,” Koh said.

“China is keen to cultivate a friendly Malaysian government under Anwar, and it’ll appear that both countries continue to emphasise the so-called ‘big picture’ of their comprehensive relations that encompass areas of concord more than just the South China Sea dispute.”

The richness of the Kasawari field, which Petronas CEO Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz has said is big enough to ensure his company remains one of the world’s top five exporters of liquefied natural gas, demonstrates how high the stakes in the South China Sea have become.

Malaysia’s oil and gas industry is a major pillar of the economy, accounting for about 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority.

The Kasawari gasfield’s estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas reserves alone constitute approximately 10 percent of Malaysia’s natural gas reserves, said Yeah Kim Leng, an economics professor at Malaysia’s Sunway University who is a member of an advisory committee to Anwar.

“Slated to begin operations this year, the oil field is therefore a key asset to sustain the country’s oil and gas export earnings and meeting its domestic energy needs both directly and indirectly through imports,” Yeah told Al Jazeera.

The gas field is expected to produce up to 900 million cubic feet of gas daily once in operation.

Petronas declined to comment on China’s activities near its operations in the South China Sea.

A spokesperson, however, said the Kasawari development, which includes the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project, will be crucial to the company’s efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Kasawari Gas Field project, off the coast of Sarawak is the beginning of Petronas’ adoption of CCS for high carbon dioxide fields,” the spokesperson said, adding that the project is expected to capture more than 3.3 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year upon its completion in 2026.

Source: aljazeera.com

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https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2023/4/25/malaysian-energy-needs-clash-with-china-claims-in-south-china-sea

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Na Tok Kong temple requests extension after being evicted from Islamic council's land

By Zarrah Morden

Tuesday, 25 Apr 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — The Na Tok Kong temple in Taman Sri Kuching has applied for an extension to file its defence in an eviction suit by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP), according to court documents.

Law Teck Wah, who represents the second and third defendants in the case (Datuk Asai Worshippers’ Association and the Taman Sri Kuching Welfare Association), submitted an affidavit saying that an extension of two weeks was needed because the two defendants were unaware of the suit until the receipt of a letter from MAIWP’s lawyers on February 23, informing them of an online hearing on March 10.

The two defendants represented by Law are registered associations responsible for the care and management of the temple, Law’s affidavit filed on April 5 said.

It went on to claim that the defendants had not been presented with the documents filed in court.

“The documents were never in the second and third defendants' records or possession.

“Given that Na Tok Kong Temple is a house of worship visited by many worshippers at all times, the second and third defendants are unable to identify who the documents had been presented to,” documents sighted by Malay Mail said.

Besides that, it claimed that all the committee members of both associations were senior citizens who were unable to read Malay or English, leading to difficulties in understanding the contents of the letter received from MAIWP and delays in taking appropriate actions such as appointing a lawyer.

“The documents obtained by the second and third defendants were only obtained once a lawyer had been appointed and a search was done through the e-filing system,” it said.

In August last year, MAIWP’s lawyers said in a letter to the defendants that the land the temple was situated on belonged to the Islamic council and that the temple had been built without permission.

“Following that, we have been instructed by MAIWP to demand all residents and parties residing on the real estate give vacant possession of the said real estate to MAIWP in good and orderly condition with all buildings and construction that have been built without MAIWP's permission, agreement or approval to be completely demolished and removed,” the letter said.

In a supporting affidavit sworn by MAIWP’s legal unit manager Wan Mohd Sanusi Mohd Noor, he claimed that the real estate was subject to conditions that it be used only as the site for a surau and other activities related to the Islamic faith.

He said that MAIWP had suggested the building of a surau on the land for Muslim residents of Taman Sri Kuching, following requests from residents.

“However, the plaintiff was unable to do so because it was found that there was already a house of worship, which is a Buddhist temple, that had been built on the land without the permission or approval of the plaintiff,” the affidavit said.

Despite the description, the temple is not Buddhist. Na Tok Kong, also called “Datuk Kong” or "Datuk Keramat", is a Chinese guardian deity that has roots in both the Taoist ancestral worship and the pre-Islam Malay practice of guardian spirit worship.

A Datuk Kong idol is usually depicted wearing the Malay headgear of songkok, with items from the Malay culture decorating the shrine — sarong, baju Melayu, rattan cane, Jawi script, ornaments for the Aidilfitri celebration, or keris.

The other defendants in the suit are the temple itself, residents of the temple, and all people residing on the land.

Source: malaymail.com

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/04/25/na-tok-kong-temple-requests-extension-after-being-evicted-from-islamic-councils-land/66286

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Mideast

Israeli Troops Strom Al-Aqsa’s Bab Al-Rahma, Ban Call to Prayer

24 April, 2023

Israeli occupation troops stormed Monday, April 24, 2023, the Bab Al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) chapel in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and confiscated many of its contents.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said that Israeli troops stormed the vicinity of Bab Al-Rahma and deployed “at the upper door, the main door, and inside the chapel,” and prevented the Palestinian worshipers from being inside and around the chapel.

The witnesses added that the Israeli forces confiscated fans, lights, electric cables and headphones from inside the chapel.

Local Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli occupation forces banned the call to Al-Ishaa prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the pretext that there were Jewish celebrations in Al-Buraq Square adjacent to the mosque.

On Saturday morning, the second day of Eid Al-Fitr, the occupation forces stormed the Bab al-Rahma chapel, took off the electricity cables, and broke the fans and lights. In the evening, the electric cables inside the chapel were repaired.

Source: daysofpalestine.ps

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https://daysofpalestine.ps/israeli-troops-strom-bab-al-rahma-in-al-aqsa-mosque-ban-call-to-prayer/

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OIC, Arab League Decry Israeli Assaults on Muslim, Christian Sanctities in Al-Quds

2023-April-24

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League strongly condemned the Israeli regime’s escalations and repeated assaults on sacred Muslim and Christian sites in the occupied Old City of Al-Quds, particularly the recent incursion into a prayer area at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The general secretariat of 57-member OIC, in a statement on Sunday, deplored such attacks as a flagrant violation of international law, Geneva Conventions, and international resolutions, saying the attacks amount to incitement and a serious provocation to the feelings of some two billion Muslims worldwide, presstv reported.

The organization held Israeli authorities fully responsible for the dire repercussions of daily assaults on sacred places in Al-Quds, calling on the international community to assume its responsibilities and put an end to repeated Israeli violations, which would fuel religious conflict and extremism and lead to instability throughout the region.

Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories in the Arab League, Saeed Abu Ali, also censured Israeli assaults on Muslim and Christian sanctities as an act of deliberate desecration and vandalism, warning against the adverse consequences of such measures.

Abu Ali noted that Israeli troops resumed their assaults on Al-Aqsa Mosque on the second day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, by breaking into the Bab Al-Rahma (The Gate of Mercy) prayer area.

He said that the sacrilegious move and deliberate act of sabotage resulted in serious damage to the electrical wiring, doors and stuff inside the quarter, which is an integral part of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Palestinian news outlets, Israeli forces stormed the Bab Al-Rahma prayer area on Saturday and inflicted great damage inside, as Muslim worshipers were celebrating the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

The Israeli troops also assaulted Palestinian youths, who were on their way to perform the Eid prayers, beating them with sticks near the Lions’ Gate in occupied Al-Quds.

Palestinian resistance groups Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have condemned the Israeli acts of violence and vowed to defend their sanctities in the face of the regime’s assaults.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli authorities imposed strict restrictions on the entry and exit of Palestinians to and from the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Amid heightened tensions with Palestinian worshipers, Israeli settlers also pressed ahead with their frequent incursions and provocative rituals at the holy site.

Source: farsnews.ir

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020204000596/OIC-Arab-Leage-Decry-Israeli-Assals-n-Mslim-Chrisian-Sanciies-in-Al

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Hostile Aircraft Systems Hacked as Attempting to Intrude Iran's Airspace

2023-April-24

TEHRAN (FNA)- CEO of Iranian Defense Ministry's Electronics Industries Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari said that the country has managed to hack the control systems of three spy aircraft near the Iranian air border, forcing the hostile planes to leave the area.

"Some time ago, a hostile aircraft moved acroos our FIR [Flight Information Region] and started emitting waves to gather data. We disrupted the activity of the plane," Rear Admiral Rastegari said in an interview with Tasnim news agency.

"The pilot of the plane thought that his system was malfunctioning; so he called the base and informed them that the aircraft system had a problem and he will return; We have recorded their conversations," he stated.

"The next day, two other planes flew and started spying; this time we disrupted both of them as we have achieved the technology at that bandwidth," the official added.

Rastegari underscored that Iran has been engaged in "electronic warfare for many years" to protect the country's space and air borders, and every aggressor who has tested it has realized our power."

He underlined that the country's armed forces enjoy such capability which can thwart any threat within a few hundred kilometers.

Iran has in recent years made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems.

Iranian military officials have hailed the country’s major progress in stretching its air defense network, and stated Iran's forces are at the highest level of preparedness to defend the country against any possible aggression by enemies. They underline that the country's deterrence power has made the enemies more cautious in their moves, underscoring that all their interests and equipment are within range of Tehran's weapons. They warned Iran is capable of targeting the enemy’s vital and sensitive interests all over the place in case it has ill intentions.

Back in August, Commander of the Iranian Army Air Defense Force Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard underlined the country's high military capabilities and deterrence power, and said that the country's Air Defense Force is able to monitor even the slightest movements of enemies within the range of 3,000km.

“The Air Defense Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken important measures in recent years to increase national security,” Brigadier General Sabahifard stated.

“Today, the Air Defense Force is equipped with detection and identification systems such as radars with a range of 3,000 kilometers, which is rare in the world," he noted.

“Now we have reached a point where we proudly announce that all the equipment and systems used in the Air Defense Force of the Islamic Iranian Army are made by genius Iranian youths and we do not use any foreign equipment,” the top commander added.

He warned the enemies any violation of Iranian airspace will be met with a ‘tough and destructive response’, adding the enemies could never imagine our deterrence power would reach this level.

“If the enemies could hit us, they would make the Islamic Republic of Iran’s airspace unsafe, whereas they never can, and this is due to the deterrence power of the armed forces and the existing military equipment,” Sabahifard stressed.

Source: farsnews.ir

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020204000493/Hsile-Aircraf-Sysems-Hacked-as-Aemping-Inrde-Iran's-Airspace

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Palestinian Youth Martyred in Israeli Raid in Occupied West Bank

2023-April-25

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man and injured three others during a raid on a refugee camp in the eastern West Bank city of Ariha, amid simmering tensions across the occupied territories.

The governor of Ariha and the Jordan Valley, Jihad Abu Al-Asal, told the official Palestinian Wafa news agency that the man, identified as 20-year-old Suleiman Ayesh, was fatally shot in the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp early on Monday.

He added that Palestinian medical sources confirmed that three people were also injured as Israeli troops fired shots indiscriminately at residents of the camp.

The Israeli military claimed in a statement that it was operating in the area when two suspects were spotted fleeing. Soldiers opened fire and struck at least one of the suspects.

Over the past months, Israel has ramped up attacks on Palestinian towns and cities throughout the occupied territories. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.

Most of the raids have focused on the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin, where Israeli forces have been trying to stifle a growing Palestinian resistance against occupation.

Local and international rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force and “shoot-to-kill policy” against Palestinians.

Since the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli regime has also imposed strict restrictions on the entry and exit of Palestinians to and from the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On April 4, heavily armed Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound before firing tear gas and stun grenades into the Qibli prayer hall, where hundreds of men, women, elderly people, and children were staying overnight to pray. Some eyewitnesses said rubber-coated steel bullets were also fired.

Israeli forces have wounded and rounded up hundreds of Palestinians during the attacks that have seen a rise since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan. Illegal Israeli settlers have, meanwhile, been freely violating the compound under the Israeli military and police force’s protection.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also said Israel is violating Palestinians' human rights on a massive scale, including through restriction of their freedom of movement, to ensure security and freedom of Israeli settlers.

In a statement released on Monday, the Ramallah-based Palestinian ministry denounced the blocking of numerous checkpoints and the entrances of Palestinian cities, including Jericho and Nablus.

The punitive measures and restrictions were imposed by the Tel Aviv regime on Eid Al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The ministry said the restrictions were a form of collective punishment against the Palestinians.

The ministry accused Israeli authorities of turning the Palestinian people’s holidays and occasions into tragedies, while settlers celebrate their holidays freely.

Elsewhere in the statement, the ministry said Israeli settlers are left free to attack Palestinian property, but all the while the Palestinians are forced to restrict their movement. It said it is following up on Israeli crimes against Palestinians at all levels, including at relevant international and European courts.

Source: farsnews.ir

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020205000156/Palesinian-Yh-Maryred-in-Israeli-Raid-in-Occpied-Wes-Bank

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Hezbollah: US Hegemony Retrenching, Occupation Forces Will Eventually Leave Middle East

2023-April-24

TEHRAN (FNA)- A high-ranking official with Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement said that the US hegemony is witnessing a serious retreat worldwide, in particular in the Middle East region.

Speaking in the Southern province of Bint Jbeil, head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Seyed Hashem Safieddine stressed that the people and countries of the Middle East need to break free of their dependence on the United States in order to be able to resolve regional issues, presstv reported.

“You are very wrong when it comes to analyzing the current events and status quo [of the region], the US will leave the region sooner or later,” Safieddine said, addressing those who link their fate to US policies.

“We have come to know the US very well throughout four decades of confronting US hegemony and projects in the West and the Middle East region as well,” he said, pointing out that it is logical to think US presence in the region is coming to an end.

In terms of Lebanon and its internal politics, the Hezbollah official reiterated that the only way for the Middle Eastern country to be able to resolve its issues is to distance itself from Washington and its policies.

On another note, the senior Hezbollah official said that the resistance has succeeded in sowing fear in the heart of the Israeli regime through new equations and developments that took place in the past few weeks.

Safieddine said the US does not want the people of the region to rule themselves and their region but blindly follow American diktats; something that the resistance will not allow to happen.

The Israeli regime is America’s number one ally in the region, and the two share intelligence on terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Middle Eastern politics.

“The resistance today has become influential in Lebanon and the region, no one pull us back 100 years backward. Today is the era of resistance,” he concluded.

Many analysts believe that Washington is growing weaker in the region owing to the changing equations and the presence of the resistance front.

Also recently, an American geo-strategic analyst and writer said that the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is “a catastrophe for US hegemony, which is founded on permanent instability between any potential allies and competitors”.

A study has shown that the United States has waged 400 wars since its founding less than 250 years ago, and a quarter of these have been in the Middle East, West Asia and Africa. The study goes on to say the US deploys Special Forces in more countries than it does ambassadors.

The US Department of State, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, claims that promoting freedom and democracy and protecting human rights around the world are central to US foreign policy.

However, there have been numerous US interventions over the past couple of decades or so in different parts of the world. West Asia in particular. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya have all been subject to direct US interventions and are experiencing chaos as result.

Source: farsnews.ir

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020204000877/Hezbllah-US-Hegemny-Rerenching-Occpain-Frces-Will-Evenally-Leave

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Tensions Rise After Azerbaijan Blocks Land Route from Armenia

TEHRAN (FNA)- Azerbaijan has said it has established a checkpoint on the only land route to the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a step that was followed by claims of border shootings by both Azeri and Armenian forces.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but its 120,000 inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Armenians and the region broke away from Baku in a war in the early 1990s, Reuters reported.

Azerbaijan said on Sunday that it had established a checkpoint on the road leading to Karabakh, saying the move was essential due to what it cast as Armenia’s use of the road to transport weapons.

Azerbaijan “took appropriate measures to establish control at the starting point of the road”, the foreign ministry said.

“Providing border security, as well as ensuring safe traffic on the road, is the prerogative of the government of Azerbaijan, and an essential prerequisite for national security, state sovereignty and the rule of law,” it added.

Armenia said the checkpoint at the Hakari bridge in the Lachin Corridor was a gross violation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement that ended a 2020 war.

It called on Russia to implement the agreement, which states that the Lachin Corridor, the only road across Azerbaijan that links Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, must be under Russian peacekeepers’ control.

“We call on the Russian Federation to ultimately implement the trilateral statement,” Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said of the agreement that was brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The United States government said it was “deeply concerned” by Azerbaijan establishing the checkpoint on the only land route to the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, saying it undermines efforts towards peace in the region.

The US State Department also said there should be free and open movement of people and commerce on the Lachin Corridor, and urged both sides to resume peace talks.

Pictures of the bridge posted on social media by Azeri officials showed one side of it blocked by vehicles and soldiers.

Armenia’s Defence Ministry said a soldier named Artyom Poghosyan was killed at approximately 07:50 GMT when Azeri forces opened fire on an Armenian position in Sotk, an Armenian village East of Lake Sevan. Azerbaijan denied it killed the soldier.

Azerbaijan then claimed that Armenian soldiers fired on Azeri units at approximately 11:10 GMT in the Lachin district, a claim Armenia denied.

In 2020, Azerbaijan retook territory in and around the enclave after a second war that ended in a Russian-brokered ceasefire upheld by Russian peacekeepers.

Azeri civilians identifying themselves as environmental activists have been facing off since December 12 with Russian peacekeepers on the Lachin Corridor.

Armenia says the protesters are government-backed agitators who are effectively blockading Karabakh. Azerbaijan denies blockading the road, saying that some convoys and aid are allowed through.

In recent months, Armenia has repeatedly called on Moscow to do more to support the peace and ensure unfettered access between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin Corridor.

Source: farsnews.ir

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020204000845/Tensins-Rise-Afer-Azerbaijan-Blcks-Land-Re-frm-Armenia

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Minister: Riyadh Asks for Three Weekly Flights Between Iran, Saudi Arabia

2023-April-24

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Roads and Urban Development Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash said that Saudi Arabia has requested launch of ree weekly flights between the two countries amid an improvement in bilateral relations between Tehran and Riyadh.

Bazrpash stated on Sunday that Saudi authorities had asked Iran to launch three regular flights per week to the Arab country.

"The flights will be launched regardless of arrangements existing between the two countries about flights carrying Iranian pilgrims to hajj ceremony in Saudi Arabia," he added.

“Launching flights between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in addition to hajj flights, has been taken into consideration in order to expand collaborations,” the minister continued, noting that Tehran will do its best to launch the flights.

The announcement comes amid plans by Iran and Saudi Arabia to reopen embassies and to restore diplomatic relations some seven years after the two countries cut their official ties.

During a telephone conversation with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian described his recent meeting with bin Farhan as well as the exchange of technical delegations tasked with reopening the embassies of the two countries as "positive and constructive".

“My colleagues at the Foreign Ministry and the delegation sent to Riyadh and Jeddah are trying reopen the Embassy and consulate general of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Saudi Arabia as scheduled and before the Hajj season," he added.

Bin Farhan, for his part, expressed hope that the two top diplomats will soon meet each other in Tehran and Riyadh.

The senior official stated that Saudi Arabia will provide the necessary facilities for Iranian Hajj pilgrims and for the purpose of reopening the Iranian Embassy and consulate general in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Iran and Saudi Arabia announced on March 10 a Chinese-brokered deal to restore ties seven years after they were severed. In a joint statement after signing the agreement, Tehran and Riyadh highlighted the need to respect each others’ national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of one another.

Back in early April, Amir Abdollahian and bin Farhan met in China in the first formal meeting of the two countries’ top diplomats in seven years. They issued a joint statement following the long-awaited meeting, voicing their readiness to reopen embassies and work toward establishing security and stability in West Asia.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kana'ani has also said that President Ebrahim Rayeesi has invited Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for an official visit.

President Rayeesi has extended an invitation to King Salman to visit Tehran, the spokesperson told reporters, noting that the Iranian president has offered to reciprocally host the Saudi king after receiving an invitation to visit Riyadh.

He stated that Tehran and Riyadh are pushing to implement their agreements on re-opening of embassies and that the missions will begin operation no later than May 9.

Source: farsnews.ir

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14020204000188/Miniser-Riyadh-Asks-fr-Three-Weekly-Flighs-Beween-Iran-Sadi-Arabia

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Arab League condemns Zionist raids on al-Aqsa mosque

Apr 24, 2023,

TEHRAN, Apr. 24 (MNA) – Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories in the Arab League Said Abu Ali has denounced the assault by the Israeli police on the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The Arab League warned of the threat of attacks and plots by the Zionist regime against Islamic and Christian holy sites, especially the desecration and sabotage it carried out against the al-Aqsa mosque especially Bab al-Rahma cemetery, Arab media reported.

In a statement on Monday, Said Abu Ali blamed the Zionist authorities for the full and direct consequences of such increasingly persistent crimes against Islam and Christian sanctities, especially at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the occupying regime authorities resumed their attacks on the Bab al-Rahma cemetery in al-Aqsa Mosque with deliberate desecration and sabotage of the power grid and breaking down the doors and contents inside the mosque, which is an integral part of al-Aqsa Mosque, he added.

Earlier, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) had strongly condemned the assault by Zionists on the Bab al-Rahma cemetery in al-Aqsa Mosque on Saturday evening.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli authorities imposed strict restrictions on the entry and exit of Palestinians to and from the gates of al-Aqsa Mosque. Amid heightened tensions with Palestinian worshipers, Israeli settlers also pressed ahead with their frequent incursions and provocative rituals at the holy site.

Source: en.mehrnews.com

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https://en.mehrnews.com/news/199819/Arab-League-condemns-Zionist-raids-on-al-Aqsa-mosque

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Europe

 

World’s First Sharia Crypto Gets Public Launch

By David Thomas

24 April 2023

The new cryptocurrency and blockchain will target the Muslim population after religious leaders approved the project in June 2022.

The Haqq blockchain advisory board will only allow Sharia-compliant applications. These exclude gambling, speculation, short-selling, and debts and receivables sales.

The coin received Fatwa, or a religious green light, in June 2022. Authorities liked the Haqq blockchain’s proof-of-stake consensus method, decentralized nature, and commitment to charity. The coin is reportedly the first digital asset that follows the Quran’s rules. Islamic Coin garnered 50% of private sales from non-Muslims.

Haqq’s software will limit ISLM’s supply to 100 billion tokens and reduce the token’s emission rate by 5% every two years.

Non-profit foundation Evergreen DAO will receive 10% of each mined Islamic Coin to fund community projects. A Sharia board will decide which projects Evergreen will invest in.

Between 1% and 5% of tokens will go to a block proposer and delegators. The blockchain code will send the rest to validators and delegators based on the number of staked coins.

Is ISLM Overhyped?

Reaction to the imminent launch date was mostly positive, with several Twitter followers asking how to get the coin.

Others asked whether Islamic Coin was different or trying to attract Muslims with the Islamic language.

Last year, the project’s co-founder, Mohammed AlKaff AlHashmi, told BeInCrypto that if 3-4% of the Muslim population adopts ISLM, the crypto will become a “Bitcoin-scale asset.” A bold remark considering that Ethereum boasts a $200 billion-plus market cap.

However, according to Arabian Business, Sharia-compliant finance could fuel the growth of the Islamic finance market to $3.7 trillion by 2024.

Islamic banks make money by sharing profit and loss with depositors and grant loans through unique sale and leasing contracts. For example, in a home loan deal, the bank leases mutually owned property to a client. The client takes owns the house after paying off the bank’s share.

Traditional banks earn money by charging borrowers a higher interest rate than they pay depositors and charge fees for late payments. Sharia-compliant banking incentivizes payment by recovering a percentage of the funds for contribution to ethical causes.

Source: beincrypto.com

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

https://beincrypto.com/worlds-first-sharia-crypto-gets-public-launch/

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Bradford's Muslim community on Eid-Ul-Fitr memories as Ramadan ends

24th April

By Natasha Meek

Muslims in Bradford have reflected on what Eid means to them after a special weekend packed with memories, delicious food, and prayer.

Followers of Islam had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the crescent moon to mark the start of Eid-Ul-Fitr.

It follows the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims around the world fast from dawn to sunset.

For many, the Islamic holiday started on Friday (April 21) after the sight of the waxing moon appeared in Saudi Arabia.

Some Eid celebrations began on Saturday, due to differences in moon-sighting methods based on the Islamic calendar.

Sharing a photo of her home cooked food and snacks, Khansa said Eid is a time for connection and community.

Khansa said: “We look forward to Eid after the month of Ramadan. The atmosphere is lovely in the community, giving us all an opportunity to reconnect with relatives we have not seen in a while, friends and neighbours.

“The occasion puts time on a standstill for a few days. I enjoy being able to sit, talk and eat with my family without the usual drudgery of life rushing around.

“As a child, I really looked forward to Eid because grown ups showered us with money, gifts and sweets. As an adult, I love being that grown up who gifts children because it keeps the spirit of Eid alive and brings about the same excitement I had.”

On Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims must make an Eid prayer and give charity to the poor and needy before performing prayers.

Many people choose to visit the graves of relatives and friends.

Khansa’s day starts by preparing dishes to take to her mother and mother in law - with this year’s recipes including chicken biryani, keema pastries, and a special salad.

It is a juggling act as her two young children play by her side and try to help out.

Her eldest child goes to prayers with his father and by late morning, the whole family comes together at her mother’s house for traditional Eid breakfast, chana puri.

The family then spend time at her in-laws’ house.

She added: “By evening I am back at my mother’s house to catch up with my seven siblings and numerous nephews and nieces. The catching up never stops.”

Describing what Eid-Ul-Fitr means to her, mum Shazia said: “Eid brings out all sorts of emotions.

“Tradition is reading the Eid namaaz, cooking a sweet dish, saying a prayer in the morning and giving money to the young‘uns called ‘Eidi’.

“Eid means reflecting on the end of Ramadan, realising how blessed we are and making memories.”

Shazia wakes up for Eid and showers before the grand task of cooking for loved ones commences.

She gives her children Eidi and presents, feeds everyone, and visits her father’s grave.

When the night falls, it’s time to head out for dessert.

The power of memories made during Eid was reflected by other T&A readers.

Rifat Khan said: “My best memories of Eid are waking up to the aroma of delicious home cooked food, the smell of my dad's favourite fragrance when he returned home from the Eid prayers. Receiving Eid gifts and money and running to the sweet shop with my siblings to spoil ourselves. Best days of my life.”

Linda J Bussey said: “Years ago, when I worked at the community dental clinic in Keighley, one of the nurses’ mum insisted we all went round for some food at Eid. So lovely of her and she made the most amazing biryani.”

Omar Aly said: “I remember waking up and getting dressed in fresh clothes and having a massive breakfast. Then going to my Grandma's house where the whole family would get together, exchange gifts, play games, all have a great time and more food, of course.”

Describing her memories, Taslim Akhtar said: “Mother's cooking and all [the] family being together, never been the same without mum again, but try to make it best as possible for my own kids now so they can tell their kids about memories of us.”

Farena Bashir said: “My favourite Eid memory was feeling butterflies in my stomach when my dad entered the house after Eid Namaz and greeted us all with that lovely phrase 'Eid mubarak', there is nothing quite like it.”

Source: thetelegraphandargus.co.uk

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

https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/23476529.bradfords-muslim-community-eid-ul-fitr-memories-ramadan-ends/

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Ramadan celebrated at Rochdale Infirmary

24 April 2023

Staff and patients celebrated Ramadan on the link bridge at Rochdale Infirmary last week.

Throughout the world, the month of Ramadan is considered one of the holiest and most sacred times of the year for Muslims.

Community organisation Aspire 2 Inspire Communities gave out food packs to staff, patients and visitors.

Information booklets about Ramadan, prayer fridge magnets, and stickers were also handed out.

Mohammed Tariq, Rochdale Care Organisation BAME staff network lead, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many people attend wanting to find out more about Ramadan and what it means for Muslims.

“I am really grateful to Kalsoom, Aqub and the Aspire 2 Inspire team for joining us today and making this event a huge success.”

They were joined by Steve Taylor (chief officer, Rochdale Care Organisation), Clare Nott (HR director) Dr Shona McCallum (medical director) and Patricia Hughes (interim director of nursing).

Aspire 2 Inspire Communities is based on Regent Street, Rochdale. It works with young people from black and minority ethnic communities, new and emerging communities, refugees and asylum seekers, families facing financial hardship, and young people with additional needs, disabilities and language difficulties.

Source: rochdaleonline.co.uk

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https://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/2/news-headlines/151482/ramadan-celebrated-at-rochdale-infirmary

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Haywards Heath Mayor sends warm wishes to everyone celebrating Eid al-Fitr at the Ramadan Iftar Dinner

24th Apr 2023

Cllr Howard Mundin says: “Last night’s Ramadan iftar raised awareness about the struggles and accomplishments of our diverse community in Haywards Heath and promoted dialogue and understanding between communities of all backgrounds. Ramadan is not just about abstaining from food and drinks during the day, it is a time for people to focus on their inner selves, show compassion and kindness to those in need, and this dinner was a time to come together as a community and share thoughts and blessings with others.

“The event sponsor, Fatma’s Kitchen put on a sumptuous delicious feast for us with exceptional service at a dinner which showcased its inclusivity and the diversity of our community.

“The Dialogue Society is a registered charity with a new presence in Haywards Heath and it was such an interesting evening hearing from locals from different faiths and their experiences within our town. I send my warmest wishes to everyone celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr this weekend and thank you to the Dialogue Society and Fatma’s Kitchen in Haywards Heath for a fitting tribute to the spirit of Ramadan and a reminder of the importance of interfaith harmony and community.”

Ramadan is a holy month of fasting observed by many Muslims in the United Kingdom. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting during Ramadan is a form of worship of utmost importance. Among the many positive attributes Muslims aspire to develop during this period, empathy with those less fortunate and a reinforcement of positive, proactive community engagement.

The Dialogue Society, upholds the belief that the inclusion of our diverse communities of all faiths (or none), cultures, ethnicities, abilities, and sexual and/or gender identities are crucial to the well-being of our society overall.

The society believes inclusion and the cost-of-living crisis are mutually exclusive; in short, more inclusion aids in tackling the cost-of-living crisis, whereas an increase in the cost of living contributes to the increase in hate crime and reduces inclusion.

Source: sussexexpress.co.uk

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https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/haywards-heath-mayor-sends-warm-wishes-to-everyone-celebrating-eid-al-fitr-at-the-ramadan-iftar-dinner-4115935

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia calls for cessation of military operations in Sudan urgently after Egyptian diplomat killed

April 25, 2023

RIYADH — The Assistant Administrative Attaché at the Egyptian Embassy in Khartoum was killed on his way to the Egyptian Embassy to follow up on the procedures of the evacuations of the Egyptian citizens.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed Saudi Arabia's sincere condolences and sympathy to Egypt.

The Ministry renewed the Kingdom's call to quickly stop military operations, exercise maximum restraint, avoid escalation, give priority to the interest of the Sudanese people by preserving their gains and capabilities, and return to the framework agreement aimed at reaching a political declaration that achieves security, stability, and prosperity for Sudan and its people.

Source: saudigazette.com

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/631888/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-Arabia-calls-for-cessation-of-military-operations-in-Sudan-urgently-after-Egyptian-diplomat-killed

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Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to EU presents credentials to European Council president

April 24, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the European Union Haifa Al-Jedea presented her credentials to the president of the European Council Charles Michel on Monday.

During the meeting, Al-Jedea conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Michel.

Al-Jedea and Michel discussed issues of mutual interest and ways to enhance cooperation.

Michel praised the developmental renaissance the Kingdom is witnessing, including its ambitious Saudi Vision 2030, and the strength of Saudi-European relations.

Al-Jedea hailed the distinguished relations between the Kingdom and the EU and highlighted their ongoing development in all fields.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2292271/saudi-arabia

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KSA relief group offers medical services to Syrians

April 25, 2023

JEDDAH: Supported by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, the Urgent Medical Response Project, which aims to help relieve the suffering of people affected by the earthquake in Syria, provided various medical services to 70,896 beneficiaries during March.

About 20 mobile clinics were operated in areas affected by the earthquake, providing healthcare services and distributing infant milk formula and wheelchairs to needy people there.

The beneficiaries consisted 43 percent males and 57 percent females.

Meanwhile, the center distributed 253 tons and 500 kg of food baskets to Syrian and Palestinian refugees and needy families in several Lebanese regions.

This comes as part of the humanitarian and relief aid that the Kingdom provides to countries and people in need in various countries worldwide.

Elsewhere, the center recently distributed 127 tons and 200 kg of food baskets in the districts of Midi, Haradh, Hiran, and Abs in the Yemeni governorate of Hajjah, benefiting 16,632 people.

The center also distributed food packages in Niger and Bangladesh.

More than 30 tons of food packages were distributed in Niger, and in excess of  64 tons was received in Bangladesh and 3 tons in Albania.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2292426/saudi-arabia

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OIC condemns ‘terrorist’ attacks in Mali

April 25, 2023

JEDDAH: The general secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, also known as the OIC, has condemned Saturday’s twin terrorist attacks in Sevare and Mourdia in central Mali, in which at least nine people were killed and more than 60 injured.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha described the attacks as despicable, calling for an end to such acts of violence.

He reaffirmed the OIC’s full support for Mali and the Sahel countries in their war against terrorism.

He offered his condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a quick recovery.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2292406/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Fund for Development signs two agreements in Kyrgyzstan

April 24, 2023

BISHKEK: The Saudi Fund for Development, represented by CEO Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad, and Kyrgyzstan’s Finance Ministry, represented by Minister of Finance Almaz Baketaev, signed two agreements on soft development loans worth $130 million.

The signing ceremony was held on Monday in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, and was attended by Saudi Deputy Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Saad Al-Dhawayan, and several officials from both sides.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2292351/saudi-arabia

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South Asia

 

First Army formation to reach Dhaka during 1971 Bangladesh war celebrates 60 years

The HQ 101 Area was raised in 1963 after the Chinese aggression for providing logistic support to all formations and units in the northeast

April 24, 2023

RAHUL KARMAKAR

The first Army formation to reach Dhaka, formerly Dacca, during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War celebrated 60 years of service to the nation on April 24.

The HQ 101 Area was raised on the outskirts of Meghalaya’s capital Shillong in 1963 as the 101 Communication Zone soon after the Chinese aggression. It went beyond its role of providing logistic support to all formations and units in the northeast to take part in active combat.

The Area undertook counter-insurgency operations in Mizoram from 1966-69. During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, it took part in operations in the Sylhet and Mymensingh districts of present-day Bangladesh, then East Pakistan.

It was the first formation to reach Dhaka on the morning of December 16, 1971, leading to the surrender by Pakistan that afternoon, earning it the name “First in Dacca”.

“Over time, HQ 101 Area has evolved to provide logistic support in remote and challenging terrain in border areas across the northeast. It has contributed immensely in nation-building by aiding infrastructure development, providing humanitarian aid and ensuring outreach to remote villages,” a defence statement said.

The celebration on Monday commenced with a solemn ceremony to pay tributes to the soldiers at the Shillong War Memorial by the Army’s Eastern Commander, Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita. Major General R.K. Jha, the officiating General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 101 Area and all soldiers also paid tributes.

Lt Gen Kalita praised the soldiers for carrying forward the legacy of dedicated service. He flagged in a motorcycle rally organised by the HQ 101 Area. The rally, flagged off on April 9 by Meghalaya Governor Phagu Chauhan, traversed through Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh in celebration of the “spirit of patriotism”.

As a part of the celebration, a special cover and stamp were released and the busts of Maj. Gen. Gurbaksh Singh Gill and Maj. Gen. Gandharv Nagra were unveiled on Monday. The two, who were the GOCs of 101 Area, had helped curate the victory in the 1971 war, Army officials said.

Source: thehindu.com

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/first-army-formation-to-reach-dhaka-during-1971-bangladesh-war-celebrates-60-years/article66773106.ece

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Islamic Emirate Policies Are Not Under Anyone’s Influence: Acting FM

By Shamsurrahman Khpalwak,

24-04-23

Muttaqi made the remarks at a gathering during his visit to the southeastern province of Khost.

“Afghanistan has moderate policies today, an economic-centric policy, so that this country, after 40 to 45 years of chaos, is moving toward success and good fortune and competition,” he said.

Addressing the problems of Afghans abroad, Muttaqi said that efforts are underway to rescue 120 Afghan nationals who are stranded in the conflict in Sudan. 

He also said that after 40 years, a government has been created in Afghanistan through which all ethnic groups of Afghanistan experience safety and peace.

“Today, I spent time on the issue of how to safely evacuate our 120 Afghans who are stranded in the war in Sudan,” Muttaqi said. 

Muttaqi stressed the need for the unity of Afghans. 

Political analysts said a neutral policy is best for the country. 

“A neutral policy based on notions, ambitious and mass economic, cultural and social interests, is a successful policy,” said Sediq Mansour, a political analyst.  

“The good path is that the Islamic Emirate should reach an agreement and engagement with the international community,” said Torialai Zazai, a political analyst.  

Muttaqi also referred to the shifting of thousands of Afghan inmates from Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183090

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Taliban rejects Pentagon report about presence of ISIS in Afghanistan

Apr 24, 2023

Taliban has denied the media report citing “classified Pentagon assessment” stating that Afghanistan has become a significant coordinate site for the Daesh/ISIS group that plans attacks in Europe and Asia and carries out “aspirational plotting” against the US, TOLO News reported.

The head of the Taliban-led Qatar-based Political Office Suhail Shaheen refuted the report. He said that Daesh has been suppressed in Afghanistan, TOLO News reported. The statement of Suhail Shaheen comes after The Washington Post in its report cited a “classified Pentagon assessment” that demonstrates the threat as a “growing security concern.” Suhail Shaheen said that The Washington Post report is not as per the ground realities in Afghanistan.

“The report of The Washington Post is not in accordance with the ground realities in Afghanistan. These reports are made based on their personal wish. The fact is that the Daesh has no physical presence in Afghanistan as it had during the invasion,” TOLO News quoted him as saying.

The attack planning detailed in US intelligence findings revealed that the Discord messaging platforms revealed particular efforts to target embassies, churches, business centres and the FIFA World Cup tournament which had over 2 million spectators in Qatar, TOLO News cited The Washington Post report.

In December, Pentagon officials knew about nine such attacks coordinated by ISIS leaders in Afghanistan and the number increased to 15 by February, The Washington Post reported citing the assessment.

As per the news report, Najibullah Jami, a political analyst, said that there has been no threat in Afghanistan and the neighbouring nations, particularly Central Asia.

“The presence and activity of Daesh inside Afghanistan, which is aiming to reach their final targets–to the neighboring countries and particularly the Central Asia — not only causes instability in Afghanistan but also in neighboring countries,” TOLO News quoted Najeeb Rahman Shamal, political analyst as saying.

Earlier in January, a suicide attack took place outside the Taliban-led Foreign Ministry in Afghanistan’s Kabul. Five people died and several others were injured in the attack, Dawn reported.

Kabul police chief Khalid Zadran said an explosion took place on the road outside the Taliban-led Afghan foreign ministry in which five were killed and a number of others were injured.

Zadran said that the Taliban condemns such an “aimless and cowardly attack on Muslims.” Kabul police chief said, “The perpetrators will be found and punished for their evil deeds.”

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai condemned the explosion, calling it an “act of terrorism, a crime against humanity and an act against all human and Islamic values.”

The United Nations also condemned the attack.”This is just another example of the rising insecurity which is of great concern to us,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. It is “no way to bring any sort of peace to Afghanistan.”

In a statement, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said expressed its condolences to the affected families and said that violence is not part of any solution to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) tweeted, “UNAMA condemns today’s attack outside Foreign Ministry in Kabul. Reports of numerous casualties, including civilians. Rising insecurity is of grave concern. Violence is not part of any solution to bring lasting peace to #Afghanistan. Our condolences to the families affected.”

Source: thestatesman.com

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https://www.thestatesman.com/world/taliban-rejects-pentagon-report-about-presence-of-isis-in-afghanistan-1503175167.html#:~:text=Taliban%20has%20denied%20the%20media,the%20US%2C%20TOLO%20News%20reported.

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Guy Ritchie's The Covenant and why Hollywood is afraid of the war in Afghanistan

By Caryn James

24th April 2023

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the new action-thriller about an army sergeant who returns to Afghanistan is the latest tentative US attempt to explore the conflict, writes Caryn James.

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant is an intense action movie, full of gunfire and explosions that make you feel caught in the midst of danger. And like so many war films it relies on a slender plot about heroic choices. Jake Gyllenhaal plays John Kinley, a US army sergeant in Afghanistan in 2018, whose life is saved by his Afghan interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim). In the kind of single-handed exploit that only happens in movies, after Kinley returns home and learns that Ahmed and his family are being hunted by the Taliban for having helped the Americans, he returns to Afghanistan to try to save him. So far, just another commercial adventure.

But the film's real-world resonance, shallow but there, points toward a burgeoning trend on screen, for works centring on the 20-year-long US war in Afghanistan, which ended when their military left in 2021. It took just a few years after the US withdrew from Vietnam for some great films to arrive, including Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Deer Hunter (1978). The Covenant and other tentative responses suggest that while filmmakers are now setting their stories in Afghanistan, coming to grips with that conflict on screen may take a lot longer. The Hollywood landscape is more cautious than ever today, and the US too politically divided for movies to risk alienating half the audience. (A recent Pew Research Center poll revealed that US opinions about Afghanistan are split along party lines.)

Although the war in Afghanistan now stands as the longest in US history, it has rarely been top of mind in public awareness. The US military entered Afghanistan in 2001 in the wake of 9/11, to prevent attacks that might come from terrorists based there, but the war was quickly overshadowed by other global conflicts, first in Iraq and more recently Ukraine. The Covenant is especially timely now, though. Two weeks ago the Biden administration released a report about the US troop withdrawal and the chaotic evacuation as thousands of Afghans crowded Kabul airport trying to leave. The Taliban took control of the country within weeks of US and UK troops exiting, restricting human rights, especially for women and creating a worldwide crisis of Afghan refugees.

Guy Ritchie's The Covenant (that's the full, clumsy title, which at least distinguishes it from several other movies called The Covenant) lands in that context, but it is not the first or only Hollywood treatment of the conflict, and in particular, of the relationship between US soldiers and their Afghan guides. In fact, there is another one opening next month: Kandahar (released in the US on 26 May) is a Gerard Butler action movie about a CIA operative trapped in a dangerous part of Afghanistan with his interpreter. The trailer shows Butler saying "Nobody's coming to save us", a cue for the two of them to battle the enemies and save each other.

There have been earlier, tone-deaf attempts as well. The United States of Al (2021-22) was a bland CBS network buddy comedy about an Afghan guide who lives in the US with the Marine he helped and the Marine's family. Tina Fey plays a journalist in Kabul in the 2016 comedy-infused drama Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a movie so culturally insensitive that it cast the American Christopher Abbott as her Afghan interpreter. The Covenant, despite its melodramatic plot and one-dimensional characters, captures more reality than that.

In his professional journey as a filmmaker, Ritchie has moved from his gritty early British gangster films all the way to Disney's Aladdin, and The Covenant aims to be another mainstream hit. The press notes for the film say that Ritchie had long wanted to make a war movie. "I'd heard various anecdotes about Afghanistan that all sounded in equal measure horrifying and inspiring," he says. "The story of one man's selflessness for another was what I found inspiring about the premise." Though that's a statement that could apply to almost any war film.

The truth behind the fictions

But The Covenant is also built on some verifiable facts and sentiments, adding ballast to its explosive surface. Text at the end of the film says that 300 Afghans have been killed and thousands are in hiding from the Taliban for having cooperated with the US. Annie Pforzheimer, a former US diplomat who was Deputy Chief of Mission in Kabul in 2017-18, says the text rings true. "That number obviously will be out of date almost immediately, but there are many well-documented cases that the UN and independent human rights observers have been reporting," she tells BBC Culture.

And the bond between Kinley and Ahmed echoes a strong connection Pforzheimer has observed first-hand. "Soldiers who served and diplomats who served closely for 20 years with Afghan interpreters, police, military, and officials feel a deep sense of loyalty to them," she says, adding that films like The Covenant "reflect the real feeling of [their] helplessness and a little bit of wish fulfilment."

The Covenant also has an unexpected critical edge in its emphasis on how US Visas promised to Ahmed and his family are tangled in so much red tape that the Taliban would likely find him before he could leave the country. Furious, Kinley yells at an army officer: "The deal was that we offered his family sanctuary. Then we tied a noose around his neck and kicked the stool out from under him." Putting politics and florid dialogue aside, his frustration reflects the fact that veterans' groups and other non-profits are calling attention to a backlog of Special Immigration Visas to the US, the kind promised to Afghan guides.

With lower budgets and few commercial expectations, documentaries can afford to be more pointed in their criticism of the US's approach to Afghanistan. Matthew Heineman's Retrograde, shortlisted for the best documentary Oscar, embeds a camera crew with US Special Forces, aka Green Berets, just before the US withdrawal and reveals the bond between US soldiers and their Afghan counterparts. "We appreciate you guys," a US officer, unhappy with the decision to leave so abruptly, says in a bleak tone to the Afghans.

The complicated mechanics and budgets for major features help explain the time lag between the end of any war and great films about it. But public attitudes are just as important. The bedrock assumption that World War Two was a noble war has guided every film about it, from the 1940s through to Saving Private Ryan (1998) and beyond. By the time the Vietnam War ended in 1975, opinions were beginning to coalesce around the idea that US involvement was a mistake, clearing the way for films like Platoon (1986).

Keeping things apolitical

But most films about battles in Iraq and Afghanistan are determinedly apolitical, praising the heroism of the soldiers as a way of sidestepping deeper issues about the divisive wars themselves. Another Gyllenhaal movie, Jarhead (2005), takes place in the early 1990s during the Gulf War, and a Marine casually gets the film out from under any question about that conflict by imploring his comrades to forget "politics, all right? We're here", adding that "all the rest" doesn't matter.

The Outpost (2020), about a major battle in Afghanistan, does something similar when a soldier says, "Freedom ain't free," the only vaguely politically-tinged comment in the entire film, which focuses on the bravery of the soldiers and the horrors of the violence.

The film historian and critic David Thomson, whose book The Fatal Alliance: A Century of War on Film, will be published in November, says violence is the attraction of war movies. He tells BBC Culture: "There's really no such thing as an anti-war film, because whatever the intention the filmmakers had, the mechanism of the medium makes the act of war, the shooting, the killing, enticing and alluring."

And even the best Hollywood war movies assume a Western point of view. Meanwhile films from Afghanistan exist, but are often overlooked. Sahraa Karimi's 2019 feature, Hava, Maryam, Ayesha, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is a beautifully observed, light-handed yet trenchant story about three pregnant Afghan women from different classes. Karimi, one of the most prominent filmmakers recently working in Afghanistan, hurriedly left Kabul in 2021 when the Taliban took over and now considers herself an exile, living in New York. She is planning to shoot a film based on her escape, called Flight from Kabul, and tells BBC Culture, "The story happens two months before the fall of Kabul. I want to show the world that we had our lives, our issues, we had our dreams, and though the security situation wasn't very good, still every day we woke up and started a new day, with new hope."

She says of mainstream US films about her country, "Afghanistan, for famous directors with Hollywood budgets, is a story from behind the mountain, which is exotic, interesting, but it is not authentic." She adds: "It is a very Western perspective about what was going on in Afghanistan, where somebody is going to save the interpreter or something. There are lots of things Afghan people and their stories can share with the world, without going into this victim and saviour formula." 

Lack of distribution for modest foreign-language films can make them seem almost invisible, though. Karimi's films, including her documentary Afghan Women Behind the Wheel (2009) are not available to stream. Neither is the highly regarded A Letter to the President (2003) by another Afghan woman director, Roya Sadat. They are squeezed out by movies with explosions and brave male soldiers, with their long history of commercial success.

One thing for sure is that there will be more mainstream films about Afghanistan on their way. Thomson calls the video from Kabul airport a moment of "incredible cinematic imagery, people falling off planes." Already used in documentaries, those images are ready-made for the next – let's hope for deeper – generation of war movies.

Guys Ritchie's The Covenant is out in US cinemas now

Source: bbc.com

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https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20230421-guy-ritchies-the-covenant-hollywood-afghanistan

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Islamic Emirate Denies Washington Post's Report on Daesh in Afghanistan

23 APRIL 2023

The Washington Post cited a “classified Pentagon assessment that portrays the threat as a growing security concern.”

“The attack planning, detailed in US intelligence findings leaked on the Discord messaging platforms and obtained by The Washington Post, reveal specific efforts to target embassies, churches, business centers and the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, which drew more than 2 million spectators last summer in Qatar,” The Washington Post reported. “Pentagon officials were aware in December of nine such plots coordinated by ISIS leaders in Afghanistan, and the number rose to 15 by February, says the assessment, which has not been disclosed previously.”

The head of the Islamic Emirate’s Qatar-based Political Office, Suhail Shaheen, denied the report and said that Daesh has been suppressed in Afghanistan. 

“The report of The Washington Post is not in accordance with the ground realities in Afghanistan. These reports are made based on their personal wish. The fact is that the Daesh has no physical presence in Afghanistan as it had during the invasion,” he said.

“The Islamic Emirate is around 21 months old now. There has been no threat, not only from inside Afghanistan but also in the regional neighboring countries and there is no threat based on the Doha agreement to any country,” said Najibullah Jami, a political analyst. 

“The presence and activity of Daesh inside Afghanistan, which is aiming to reach their final targets—to the neighboring countries and particularly the Central Asia -- not only causes instability in Afghanistan but also in neighboring countries,” said Najeeb Rahman Shamal, political analyst. 

The report comes as the Islamic Emirate recently conducted several operations against Daesh in various parts of the country, in which it said that key Daesh members were killed. 

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183077

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UN Meeting on Afghanistan Will Not Discuss Recognition: Faiq

By Fatima Adib

25-04-23

Naseer Ahmad Faiq, in an interview with the BBC, said that the meeting will discuss a united framework of the international community regarding political, economic, and social issues in Afghanistan.

"In this meeting we will discuss a solution for Afghanistan's political, economic and social issues,

The recognition of the Islamic Emirate will not be an issue of the meeting," said Naseer Ahmad Faiq, the Chargé d'Affaires of the Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the UN.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate said that they have completed all the conditions to be recognized.

"Recognition is the right of the government and the people, and the Islamic Emirate is sovereign in Afghanistan and now people have the right to be recognized as other countries in the world," said Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for Islamic Emirate.

Meanwhile, some political analysts said that the Islamic Emirate must implement the Doha Agreement to gain the trust of the international community.

Even if the Islamic Emirate has completed all the conditions for recognition, it will not recognize them until the political and intelligence interests of America and the international community are met," said Salim Kaker, a political analyst.

"In order to gain the trust of the international community and international aid organizations, peace, stability and security should be provided so that these countries can continue their aid to the people of Afghanistan," said Najeeb Rahman Shamal, a political analyst.

Source: tolonews.com

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The UN is set to host an international conference on Afghanistan in Doha on May 1 and 2.

https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183088

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Bangladesh swears in new President ahead of election

Mr. Shahabuddin, 73, was an anti-corruption commissioner and fought in the country's 1971 War of Independence against Pakistan

April 24, 2023

Mohammed Shahabuddin, a former judge and a ruling party official, was sworn in as the President of Bangladesh on April 24, just months before a general election.

Mr. Shahabuddin, 73, was an anti-corruption commissioner and fought in the country's 1971 War of Independence against Pakistan, the Presidential palace said.

"He was sworn in as the 22nd President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh today," Shampad Barua, Secretary of the President, told AFP.

He was elected by lawmakers in February after the ruling Awami League party nominated him instead of the Speaker of Parliament, who had been seen as the favourite.

Mr. Shahabuddin replaces Abdul Hamid, a former Speaker and Awami League stalwart, whose second term expired on April 24.

The election comes as the country faces mounting protests over the next general election, scheduled to be held in January 2024.

The Opposition has staged a series of giant protests in recent months, demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina step down and let a caretaker government hold a free and fair election.

The Opposition accuses Ms. Hasina, who has been in power since 2009, of rigging the previous two votes, and Western countries and rights groups have also raised concerns. Ms. Hasina has rejected the demand.

If Ms. Hasina was forced to resign or the protests descend into chaos, the otherwise largely ceremonial Presidential office could end up playing a bigger role. Although he enjoys few powers in his new position, Mr. Shahabuddin now oversees the military.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 24 sent a message of congratulations to Shahabuddin, China's official news agency Xinhua reported.

China and Western countries are vying for influence in the South Asian country of 170 million people, with Beijing investing billions of dollars on infrastructure projects there under its Belt and Road initiative.

Russia is also building a $12.65-billion nuclear power plant outside Dhaka to improve the country's shaky electricity network.

Bangladesh has agreed to pay Russia about $300 million in yuan to settle payment for building the facility, Bloomberg News reported last week.

Source: thehindu.com

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/bangladesh-swears-in-new-president-ahead-of-election/article66774099.ece

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Shahabuddin Chuppu takes oath as Bangladesh’s 22nd president

24 Apr 2023

Shahabuddin Chuppu, a retired judge, has been sworn in as the new president of Bangladesh for a five-year term, replacing Abdul Hamid.

Parliamentary Speaker Shirin Sharmin Choudhury on Monday administered the oath of office to Shahabuddin, the 22nd president of the South Asian republic, at the Bangabhaban presidential palace in Dhaka.

The event was aired live by state-run Bangladesh Television and other private broadcasters.

Chuppu, the nominee of the ruling Awami League (AL) party, was elected unopposed on February 13 as no other candidate submitted papers to contest the race.

With 302 members, the AL party has the majority in the 350-seat national parliament, and no other party had the numbers to nominate a presidential candidate.

After taking the oath, the new president was congratulated by the outgoing president, Hamid – the only person in Bangladesh to hold the presidential post for 10 years in two consecutive terms.

According to the country’s constitution, the presidential election must be held 60 to 90 days before the expiry of each five-year term.

Born in 1949 in the northern Bangladeshi town of Pabna, Chuppu retired as a judge in 2006.

A freedom fighter in the country’s independence war in 1971, he also served as commissioner of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission from 2011 to 2016.

Source: aljazeera.com

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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/24/shahabuddin-chuppu-takes-oath-as-bangladeshs-22nd-president

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Lightning strikes kill 9 in Bangladesh

2023-04-24

Dhaka, April 24 (IANS) A series of lightning strikes in Bangladesh killed nine people in less than two hours amidst heavy rain, officials said on Monday.

The deaths were reported in different areas of Sunamganj, Moulvibazar and Sylhet districts between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The majority of the fatalities occurred in rural areas where people were working on their farmlands.

Death due to lightning strikes is common in the densely populated country during this time of the year, as the weather changes from the dry to the rainy summer season.

Bangladesh has seen a surge in lightning strike deaths, with hundreds of fatalities recorded annually in the past few years.

Experts claim that it is attributable to climate change, which has made Bangladesh more vulnerable to the impacts.

Source: investing.com

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https://in.investing.com/news/lightning-strikes-kill-9-in-bangladesh-3611684

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India

 

Supreme Court Sends All Cases Against Stand-Up Comic Munawar Faruqui, For Allegedly Hurting Religious Sentiments, To Indore

Apr 25, 2023

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday transferred all FIRs and complaints registered against stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui for allegedly hurting religious sentiments to Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

Faruqui’s counsel urged the court to transfer the cases to Delhi but considering that no FIR was lodged in Delhi and only a complaint had been filed, a bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sanjay Karol transferred the cases to Indore where the first FIR was filed against him.

Faruqui was arrested on January 1, 2021, by Madhya Pradesh police following allegations of making derogatory remarks against Hindu deities during a public show.

The sessions court and the Madhya Pradesh high court had rejected his bail plea. Later, the Supreme Court had granted him interim bail on February 5, 2021.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/supreme-court-sends-all-cases-against-comic-faruqui-to-indore/articleshow/99742557.cms

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Makeshift Mosque Removed In Hyderabad After Complaint From Hindu Groups

Apr 24, 2023

By Abdul Basheer: Authorities on Saturday removed a temporary mosque set up using a container truck cabin on the banks of the River Musi located in Hyderabad's Amberpet.

Sources said that the structure of the makeshift mosque was illegal and permission was not taken from the concerned authorities for its construction.

Local groups objected to the mosque and lodged complaints with the district collector and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation post which the local revenue authorities and police acted and removed the structure.

The matter came to light after some Hindutva groups raised the matter, following which the revenue officials removed the structure.

According to the police, the Amberpet MRO had written a letter requesting police to remove the structure on April 19. Later, the structure was removed under police protection.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/makeshift-mosque-removed-in-hyderabad-after-complaint-from-hindu-groups-2364007-2023-04-24

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Karnataka govt decision scrapping 4 per cent quota to Muslims will not be implemented till May 9: SC

25.04.23

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that the Karnataka government's decision to scrap four percent quota for Muslims will not be implemented till May 9 after the state sought time to file its reply.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna said the earlier regime of four percent quota to Muslims will continue to hold field till May 9, when the matter will be heard next, without any prejudice to the contentions to be raised by the state government.

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, said he will be filing the reply during the day.

"I will be filing it today but the problem is I (solicitor general) am in personal difficulty as I am arguing before the constitution bench which is hearing pleas related to same-sex marriage. Kindly put the matter for some other day", he told the bench. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners, opposed the request for adjournment by Mehta, and said the hearing has already been deferred four times.

Mehta said the interim order passed by the court is already in the petitioners' favour. Dave requested the court to record the submission of Mehta that impugned orders, scrapping the quota for Muslims will not be implemented and the earlier order of March 30, 2002, granting the quota will hold the field till next date of hearing.

The bench agreed with Dave and recorded the submission, while posting the matter for further hearing on May 9.

On April 18, the top court had deferred till April 25 hearing on a batch of pleas challenging scrapping of the four per cent Muslim quota.

It had recorded the assurance given by the state government on April 13 that no quota benefits in admission to educational institutions and appointment in government jobs will be given to Vokkaligas and Lingayats till the next date of hearing.

On April 13, the Karnataka government's decision to scrap four per cent Muslim quota ahead of the assembly polls came under the scanner of the Supreme Court, which questioned the government order and said prima facie it appeared to be on a "highly shaky ground" and "flawed".

Taking note of the observations, the Karnataka government had assured the top court that it will put on hold its March 24 orders by which it had given quotas in admission to educational institutions and appointment in government jobs to Vokkaligas and Lingayats, till the next date of hearing.

The four per cent reservation for Muslims was to be equally split between the two communities.

The top court said from the records tabled before it appears that the Karnataka government's decision is based on "absolutely fallacious assumption".

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Source: telegraphindia.com

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https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/karnataka-government-decision-scrapping-4-per-cent-quota-to-muslims-will-not-be-implemented-till-may-9-supreme-court/cid/1932222

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BJP Leader Sees Guddu Muslim Link In Sambalpur Violence

25th April 2023

SAMBALPUR:  Clinging on to the issue of deteriorating law and order in the state ahead of the Jharsuguda by-election, the BJP on Monday claimed links of dreaded criminal Guddu Muslim of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Raja Khan with the violence during Hanuman Jayanti celebrations in Sambalpur.

Addressing media persons at Jharsuguda, Bargarh MP and senior BJP leader Suresh Pujari said West Bengal has become a hotbed of anti-national activities. Hundreds of people are commuting every day in buses that are plying between Motijharan in Sambalpur and Murshidabad, the epicentre of terrorism in West Bengal. But no efforts are being made by the district police to collect information about people coming from other states to Sambalpur, he said.

While the special task force of UP is on the lookout for Guddu Muslim, a notorious associate of slain gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed, it is being claimed that Guddu visited Puri and Bargarh in Odisha. This has raised questions about the links of Guddu with the violence in Sambalpur. “What connection do Raja and Guddu have with the Sambalpur riots?” questioned Pujari.

Raja has multiple criminal cases in his name and is accused of two murders in the recent past. He was running his crime empire from Luhurachati on the border of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. “What is the relationship between Guddu and Raja when one is from UP and the other belongs to Bargarh? There is no crime without political patronage. Who is backing Raja politically? There is a need for investigation into the connections of Guddu. I am afraid they are planning to execute something big in Odisha,” he claimed.

The Centre has repeatedly warned Odisha government over the security of Sri Jagannath temple in Puri. Dreaded criminals like Guddu taking shelter in Puri as a hideout is a cause of concern. The presence of Guddu in Bargarh also raises questions about the safety of Hirakud Dam, he said.

“Terrorists and dreaded criminals are now taking refuge in Odisha as a safe haven. It is unfortunate that neither the Odisha DGP nor the state government has given any statement regarding Guddu and Raja so far,” the BJP leader added.

OPCC president attacks state govt

Jharsuguda: President of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Sarat Pattanayak attacked the state government on various issues on Monday. Addressing Congress workers at Panpali in Laikera block here, the OPCC chief said life of people in Odisha has been difficult during the BJD rule. Though Jharsuguda has many factories, there is no employment for local youths. Pollution is at its peak in the district and there is no sign of law and order, he claimed. “The BJD government has been in power for 22 years, but the life of people in Odisha has not changed. It is time to give a chance to the Congress which has been fighting for the rights of people since Independence,” Pattanayak said.

Source: newindianexpress.com

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https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2023/apr/25/pujari-sees-guddu-muslim-link-in-sambalpur-violence-2569206.html

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Atiq Ahmed's henchman Guddu Muslim last located in Odisha, Chhattisgarh

Apr 25, 2023

Ashish Srivastava

By Ashish Srivastava: The last location of Guddu Muslim, an accused in the Umesh Pal case and slain don Atiq Ahmed's henchman, has been traced to Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Police learned that the last location of Guddu Muslim was in Bargarh in Odisha.

Police have also started questioning Raja Khan, an aide of Guddu Muslim. He revealed that the latter has grown a beard to avoid detection and being captured by the police.

There is strong evidence that Guddu Muslim travelled to places like Meerut, Ajmer, Jhansi, Nashik, Pune and now Bargarh in Odisha.

Police said that Guddu Muslim has now fled to Chhattisgarh.

Guddu Muslim is one of the 10 people named in the murder of Umesh Pal, in which Atiq Ahmed was an accused. Of the 10, six -- Atiq Ahmed and five others linked to him -- have been killed and Guddu Muslim has managed to evade authorities so far.

Guddu Muslim prefers hurling bombs, instead of using guns, to kill people. He had been working with Atiq Ahmed since the gangster-politician bailed him out of jail.

Known to the police as the 'bomb specialist', Guddu Muslim, in a widely circulated video of the daylight murder of Umesh Pal this February, was seen throwing crude bombs while riding a pillion on a motorcycle. The video led to his naming in the FIR.

GUDDU MUSLIM MOST DANGEROUS CRIMINAL

According to Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (UP STF) chief Amitabh Yash, Guddu Muslim is the most dangerous criminal from Atiq Ahmed's gang.

“Among all the absconding criminals from Atiq Ahmed’s gang, Guddu Muslim is the most dangerous. I arrested him in 1999, when he was smuggling drugs. But he got bail with the help of Atiq’s lawyers. He is a bomb maker. When Umesh Pal was murdered, I identified him (Guddu Muslim) easily on CCTV,” Yash said.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/guddu-muslim-odisha-chhattisgarh-last-location-atiq-ahmed-prayagraj-2364270-2023-04-25

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BJP Doesn’t Need Muslim Votes: Senior Karnataka BJP MLA KS Eshwarappa

25th April 2023

SHIVAMOGGA: Senior BJP MLA KS Eshwarappa said that the BJP does not need the votes of Muslims in Shivamogga, but nationalist Muslims will vote for the saffron party. He was speaking at a Veerashaiva-Lingayat meeting organised by the BJP in Shivamogga on Monday. Former chief minister BS Yediyurappa was also present. Eshwarappa said that people should not only raise issues regarding development but should be worried about conversions.

“They say that there are 50,000 to 55,000 (Muslim) voters in Shivamogga constituency. I would like to tell you directly that we do not need a single Muslim vote,” the former minister said.

Eshwarappa added, “We don’t need Muslim votes because we lent much help to the Muslims when they had health or educational issues, and such Muslims will vote for us.”

“Yediyurappa is a model leader for Hindus, including Lingayats. He is a true Hindu and party candidate Channabasappa is a leader who can build the Hindu community in the city. Many people say to me that if any other party wins, there will be no security for Hindus,” he added.

Eshwarappa said that the Opposition has been dividing Hindus and Muslims to seek Muslim votes. “We don’t allow making Hindus inferior and Muslims superior. But, some nationalist Muslims will definitely vote for the BJP. Let those anti-nationals who identify themselves with Congress continue to do so. All have failed in dividing Hindus in the name of caste.”

Source: newindianexpress.com

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https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2023/apr/25/bjp-doesnt-need-muslim-votes-ks-eshwarappa-2569123.html

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CLP leader flays Amit Shah’s statement on Muslim quota

April 24, 2023

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka alleged that Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s reported statement that the reservations being provided to Muslims in Telangana in education and employment would be scrapped once the BJP comes to power in the State was “unconstitutional.”

Addressing a press conference at Gunturupalli village in Elkaturthy mandal of Hanamkonda district en-route his ongoing State-wide padayatra on Monday, the CLP leader came down heavily on Mr Amit Shah over his comments on Muslim minorities quota during his speech at a BJP public meeting held in Chevella in Ranga Reddy district on Sunday.

The then Congress government introduced the 4% quota for Muslim minorities in education and employment thereby enabling a large number of socially and economically backward Muslims pursue higher educational and bag job opportunities in the State over the past 19 years, he noted.

Taking umbrage at Mr Shah’s statement over the Muslim quota, the CLP leader alleged that his comments tantamount to violating constitutional spirit.

The BJP is trying to thrust its divisive politics on Telangana and the BRS is acting hand in glove with the BJP clandestinely, he charged, alleging that the BJP was spreading “communal venom” in Telangana for its narrow political gains.

The Congress party will foil such “nefarious designs” and keep the divisive forces away from Telangana, he said exuding confidence that the Congress party will emerge triumphant in the next elections by trouncing the BRS.

Source: thehindu.com

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https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/clp-leader-flays-amit-shahs-statement-on-muslim-quota/article66774857.ece

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Pakistan

 

Pakistani, Indian border forces exchange sweets on Eid ul Fitr

April 24, 2023

LAHORE – As the tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries continue unabated, Pakistani border forces exchanged sweets and pleasantries with their Indian counterparts on Eid ul Fitr – one of the major festivals.

Following the years-old tradition, Pakistan Rangers gave treats to Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) at the Pakistan-India Wagah Border Post. It was learnt that Pakistani Wing Commander Bilal handed over sweets to BSF deputy inspector general JS Oberoi.

Amid heightened tensions in the disputed Himalayan region, the exchange of delicious sweets and greetings is a regular feature between Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Force as the two sides exchanged sweets on major occasion like Independence Day, and Diwali as events of national importance has been recurring feature in past years.

The arch-rival nations have a rich tradition of celebrating Eid, a major Islamic festival. One of the key aspects of Eid festivities is the preparation and sharing of traditional sweets and desserts.

Meanwhile, bilateral ties between the South Asian nations are at their lowest of late, with allegations of ceasefire violations and involvement in terrorism from both sides.

Islamabad and New Delhi hold stretched history of tensions that dates back to the partition while the two sides even engaged in several wars in deadly border skirmishes, and their relations have often been strained.

The recent tensions stemmed from the unilateral decision of Modi-led government that revoked the special status of illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir around four years back.

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/pakistani-indian-border-forces-exchange-sweets-on-eid-ul-fitr/

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Pakistanis among foreigners evacuated from Sudan

April 25, 2023

KHARTOUM: Battles raging in Sudan have sparked multiple evacuation operations to rescue foreign citizens and embassy staff by road, air and sea.

The main airport in the capital Khartoum has been the site of heavy fighting and is under the control of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that is battling the army.

Many evacuations are taking place from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, an 850-kilometre (530-mile) drive from Khartoum.

Here is an overview of what various nations have done in efforts to take stranded citizens to safety.

Saudi Arabia led the first reported successful evacuations on Saturday, with naval operations picking up more than 150 people.

Riyadh announced the “safe arrival” of 91 Saudi citizens and around 66 nationals from 12 other countries — Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Canada and Burkina Faso.

On Sunday, the US military sent three Chinook helicopters to evacuate American embassy staff from Khartoum.

More than 100 US forces took part in the rescue to extract fewer than 100 people, which saw the choppers flying from Djibouti to Khartoum, where they stayed on the ground for less than an hour.

US officials have warned that any wider effort to evacuate American citizens is unlikely in the coming days.

Canada has also pulled its embassy team out, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

The British army has evacuated UK embassy staff and their families in a “complex and rapid” operation, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said. British citizens still trapped in Sudan have been calling on social media for help.

The Norwegian ambassador said he and other Norwegian diplomats had also been evacuated, while Switzerland said 12 citizens had left with the help of other countries.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that 1,000 EU citizens had been evacuated.

France has airlifted 400 people of multiple nationalities to Djibouti.

Among them were 25 Swedish citizens.

The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said a “handful” of Dutch people had been evacuated on a French aircraft, with another group leaving Khartoum by road in a UN convoy.

Italy evacuated around 200 people in a military operation on Sunday, rescuing all Italian citizens who “had asked to leave” and other nationalities, including representatives of the Vatican.

Greece said a first group of evacuees left with French help on Sunday, and another group in the Italian operation.

Berlin said it had airlifted 300 people — including Germans and other nationalities — following an aborted attempt on Wednesday.

A Spanish military plane with 100 passengers — 30 Spanish and 70 other nationalities — left Sunday for Djibouti, Madrid said.

The Irish government has deployed 12 defence personnel to Djibouti to help evacuate 150 citizens.

Ankara began operations on Sunday, taking some of its estimated 600 nationals by road from Khartoum and the southern city of Wad Madani.

But plans were postponed from one site in Khartoum after “explosions” near a mosque designated as the assembly area, the embassy said.

Egypt’s military last week evacuated 177 of its soldiers from Sudan. On Sunday the foreign ministry said 436 citizens had left by land. Over 10,000 Egyptians are thought to live in Sudan.

Jordan on Saturday said it had begun the evacuation of some 300 citizens with Saudi and UAE support, while 52 Lebanese and 105 Libyans had also left on a Saudi naval vessel.

Iraq said 14 citizens had arrived in Port Sudan.

Tunisia sent an airplane on Monday morning, with some citizens having already left aboard Saudi ships.

Chad is sending airplanes to collect 438 citizens who are leaving Khartoum by bus for Port Sudan, the government said.

Some of the 800,000 South Sudanese refugees in country — who fled war in their home country — are also returning back on their own, according to the UN refugee agency.

China said Monday it had “safely evacuated” a first group of citizens.

Beijing’s foreign ministry said it will “try every means to protect the lives, properties and safety of 1,500 plus Chinese compatriots in Sudan”.

Indonesia had moved 538 nationals from Khartoum to Port Sudan, where they are waiting for a boat to Jeddah, with another group of 289 due to travel in a second phase.

The Philippines said Monday it would begin evacuating nearly 700 Filipinos “within the next 24 hours” on buses to Egypt.

Source: brecorder.com

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https://www.brecorder.com/news/40238676/pakistanis-among-foreigners-evacuated-from-sudan

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12 martyred, dozens wounded in blasts inside Swat CTD

April 25, 2023

PESHAWAR: At least twelve people were killed and dozens injured in an attack inside a counter-terrorism police station in Swat on Monday, causing the building to collapse, officials said.

Numerous blasts ripped through the building in Kabal town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the latest in a string of high profile attacks targeting police in Pakistan.

“Explosions occurred within the police station, resulting in the complete collapse of the building,” said Khalid Sohail, a senior police officer in the local counter-terrorism department.

Bilal Faizi, spokesman for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial rescue service said “at least seven dead bodies have been recovered from the collapsed building while 44 injured are shifted to nearby hospitals.”

“A series of two to three bomb explosions occurred,” Akhtar Hayat Gandapur, the inspector general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police told AFP.

He put the death toll at eight and the injured figure at more than 40 “with the majority of the victims being policemen”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however two attacks on large police bases have been linked to the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) since the start of the year.

Source: brecorder.com

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https://www.brecorder.com/news/40238670/12-martyred-dozens-wounded-in-blasts-inside-swat-ctd

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Army chief spends Eid day with troops on Afghan border

April 25, 2023

BAJAUR: Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir visited Bajaur tribal district on Saturday to spend the Eid day with troops deployed along Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the region.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the COAS offered Eid prayers with the officers and troops and appreciated their morale.

The army chief, the statement said, said on the occasion that army was committed to defending the frontiers and that the armed forces were always ready to thwart any threat to ensure the territorial integrity of the country.

“For the defenders of Pakistan, irrespective of the difficult terrain or weather and despite being away from the loved ones, duty takes precedence and nothing is more sacred than guarding the frontiers of our beloved country,” remarked the COAS.

The statement added that the COAS paid rich tribute to the martyrs and emphasised that “on this day of Eid we must not forget those who laid down their lives for the defence of the motherland and eliminating the scourge of terrorism”.

The visiting army chief, the statement said, also extended his well wishes to the families of Shuhada on this special day.

Moreover, the COAS appreciated the operational vigil of troops guarding the borders.

Earlier on arrival, the COAS was received by commander Peshawar Corps, the statement added.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1749113/army-chief-spends-eid-day-with-troops-on-afghan-border

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Army Chief Gen Asim Munir reaches China on 4-day visit, says ISPR

April 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD – Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir on Monday reached China to pay a four-day official visit.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), COAS Munir’s ongoing, both sides will hold discussions on enhancing the bilateral military relations, the military’s media wing said.

General Asim will lead a high-security delegation to Beijing where the army chief will discuss the security issues between the two allies.

The two sides will also talk about issues including CPEC security and military cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing.

Munir’s visit will be the second high-level military delegation to visit China in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Director General ISI General Nadeem Anjum visited China on April 11-12.

Earlier, COAS Asim Munir had announced uplifting projects during his visit to Gwadar. He was briefed on the prevailing security situation, formations’ operational preparedness, security for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and efforts being made for ensuring a peaceful and secure environment in the country.

On Eid day, the Army chief visited the Pak-Afghan border at Bajaur to spend Eidul Fitr with troops and to uplift their morale and resolve, the ISPR added.

The COAS Munir hailed the commitment and professionalism of the soldiers posted at the border. The army chief lauded the border security arrangements and operational preparedness, it further said.

He expressed that the military is committed to the defence of the frontiers and Pakistan’s armed forces are always ready to thwart any threat to ensure the territorial integrity of Pakistan.

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/army-chief-gen-asim-munir-reaches-china-on-4-day-visit-says-ispr/

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Africa

 

Muslims In Awka Eulogise Obi, Say Allegations Against Him False

Apr 25, 2023

AWKA  – There was a deluge of praises on Labour Party’s (LP) presi­dential candidate in the Febru­ary 25 election, Mr. Peter Obi, by the Muslim community in Awka, Anambra State, on Monday as he again paid visit to Awka Central Mosque.

As a matter of fact, the Mus­lims had promised to visit Obi, annoyed that he overlooked them to visit Onitsha Muslim community whereas they be­lieve Obi belongs to them spe­cially, because he governed from Awka in his days as governor.

From the leader of the community, Alhaji Musa Bello; leader of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Gidaddo Sedikki, as well as the youth leader, Alhaji Abdulahi Garba Haruna, spoke glowing­ly about Obi.

They recalled how Obi sponsored them to Mecca in his days, a favour that has since eluded them, gave agri­culture loans, scholarship to their members.

They said that when Obi was running for the presiden­cy they tried to reach his run­ning mate, Senator Datti Ba­ba-Ahmed, to dispel rumours of certain allegations leveled against Obi then.

Alhaji Garba Haruna said: “This is the second time we are hosting you in our mosque. You are our new president. People try to blackmail you but we did the much we could to protect you. We, as our Are­wa community you have been sponsoring us on hajj. But since you left office, we are no longer sponsored”.

In his speech, Obi said he came to celebrate Eid-el-Fitr with them and explained that he didn’t come to Awka first because it is the capital of the state.

Obi said he is committed to a better society, and better Nigeria.

According to him: “What our children want is a good education, good job and good health. It is we politicians that try to divide everything. We are all children of Almighty God”.

He cited the example of Dubai where the Catholic Church was built and donat­ed by the Emir and England where the Queen donated and built the Central Mosque even though she was the Head of the Church of England.

Obi said all the allegations against him against Muslims were false because when as governor, the Commissioner of Police, his ADC and his Chief Security Officer were all Muslims and from the North.

He said: “No matter what happens, Nigeria will remain one. What Nigeria desires is a better life, job opportunity”.

He promised to assist the community complete the mosque. He donated bags of rice, noodles and soft drinks.

Even at that, Obi said he is now ready to do works of char­ity because meeting the people and rendering assistance has nothing to do with politics.

He added: “Politics is about caring about the good of the society. I am leaving here now and I’m going to the hospital to support people in the hospital because that is what politics is all about”.

Asked why he does not take rest after the hectic elec­tioneering campaigns, Obi responded: “Those who need rest should rest. Those of us who don’t need rest should go ahead with our lives”.

Source: independent.ng

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https://independent.ng/muslims-in-awka-eulogise-obi-say-allegations-against-him-false/

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Frytol celebrates Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr with Muslim community

24 April 2023

Wilmar Africa Limited, the producer of Frytol, a vegetable oil, continues to show its commitment to the well-being of Ghanaians by supporting its Muslim consumers to observe the season of Ramadan.

Towards the end of this month-long spiritual journey, Frytol joined the Muslim community to observe this special season by supporting praying Muslims break their fast with delicious fried snacks each day.

Ramadan is solemn and a period where Muslims get closer to Allah by observing the fast and praying each day.

In this holy month of Ramadan, thousands of Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn till dusk while praying, reflecting and observing communal bonding and connections.

Frytol is leveraging its purpose to support the Muslim community in living a life of goodness to the fullest.

As a cooking oil brand, Frytol primarily promotes the importance of joyous food moments and the social connections of communal celebrations especially during festive seasons such as Eid-ul-Fitr.

Over the last few days, Frytol visited four major mosques in Accra namely, Madina, Nima, Mamobi and Cantonments Mosques to join in the night fight feast after the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Source: myjoyonline.com

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https://www.myjoyonline.com/frytol-celebrates-ramadan-and-eid-ul-fitr-with-muslim-community/

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Rite Foods urges refreshing moments for Muslims with its quality brands for Eid el-Fitri celebration

Apr 24, 2023

Rite Foods Limited, the market leader in the food and beverage sector of the Nigerian economy, with arrays of quality brands, admonishes Islamic believers to have rejuvenating moments with its award-winning brands as they celebrate this year’s Eid el-Fitri festival, to mark the successful completion of the one-month fasting during Ramadan.

Ramadan fasting, which is the period of penitence and self-denial, is in fulfilment of the fourth pillar of Islam, observed annually by the Muslim Faithful, globally, as enshrined in Islam.

Commending Muslims for their uprightness and excellent conduct during Ramadan which has led to the Eid el-Fitri celebration, Rite Foods’ Managing Director, Mr Seleem Adegunwa, avowed that the company’s unique products.

Rite Foods products comprise of the 13 variants of the Bigi Carbonated soft drink, the premium Bigi Table Water, the Sosa fruit drink with its five variants, the Fearless energy drinks, Bigi and Rite sausages, which are available for consumers’ delight and satisfaction in the memorable celebration.

Adegunwa affirmed that the company’s consumers which comprise Islamic believers should get refreshed after fasting with its array of brands that are produced in a world-class factory with modern technology and artificial intelligence, under good hygienic conditions in line with global best practices.

He stated that the leading company in the food and beverage industry of Africa’s largest economy will continue in its stride to deliver unparalleled products stemming from adequate research and development, to cater to the needs of consumers across the country as a Proudly-Nigerian brand, and outside its shores, as a Proudly-African organisation.

The Rite Foods boss also called on Muslims to use the Eid el-Fitri period to pray to Allah for a peaceful and great nation, and for the actualisation of set developmental goals.

In the same vein, the Company’s Assistant Brand Manager, Boluwatife Adedugbe, pointed out that Rite Foods, with brands that are the hallmark of distinctiveness in its market segment, is poised towards putting its consumers at the topmost of its priority, hence it felicitated with Muslims during the Ramadan period which now culminates into the Eid-el-Ftri celebration.

She stated that the company’s unrivalled and innovative products with their unmatched flavours are available across the country for consumers’ satisfaction, irrespective of their religious and cultural beliefs, on memorable occasions.

Certainly, Rite Foods’ brands are the preferred consumers’ choice as reflected in its numerous laurels, as the Bigi Cola CSD won the “Fastest Growing Bigi Cola Brand of the Year” in 2022, at an award ceremony organised by Marketing Edge Magazine, while its Bigi and Rite sausages clinched the “Fastest Growing Sausage Brand of the Year,” at the same event.

The sausage brands also earned ECOWAS Sausage Roll Snack Manufacturing Company of the Year at the ECOWAS Manufacturing Excellence Award in 2021, which was powered by BusinessDay Newspapers (Ghana], and Daily Independent Newspapers in Nigeria.

Bigi’s contribution to worthy initiatives was applauded with the “Most Outstanding CSD Brand of the Year” at the Brandcom 2021 Awards, for its market leadership position in the beverage industry, while the company’s Fearless energy drink brand was bestowed with the “Most Outstanding Energy Drink Brand of the Year,” which are among other awards credited to the company’s products.

Source: championnews.com

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https://championnews.com.ng/rite-foods-urges-refreshing-moments-for-muslims-with-its-quality-brands-for-eid-el-fitri-celebration/

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