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Islamic World News (08 Oct 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



‘Why Insult Islam By Offering Puja To Hindu Gods, When Not Practicing’? Darul Uloom Clerics ask Nusrat Jahan, Trinamool Congress M. P







Azaan In Kolkata Durga Puja Pandal Raises Social Media's Hackles, Case Filed Against Organisers

Mosques In Singapore Are Built And Upgraded Using Funds Contributed By Muslims Here, To Ensure Foregners Do Not Influence Them, Says Senior Minister Defence and Foreign Affairs

Trump Says Will 'Obliterate' Turkey's Economy If It Acts 'Off Limits'

Kashmiris Are Not Alone In The World, Says US Presidential Candidate

Pakistan Scores 6/27 On Cleaning Up Terror Funding, Money Laundering

Israeli Officials Wrap Up Netanyahu’s Pre-Indictment Hearing

Social Media Firms Let Off Islamist Extremists For Fear Of Being Accused Of Human Rights Breaches

Muslim Brotherhood Demands Kuwait to Stop Handing over its Members to Egypt

Opium-Smuggling Taliban Leader’s Release From Prison Raises Questions

 

India

‘Why Insult Islam By Offering Puja To Hindu Gods, When Not Practicing’? Darul Uloom Clerics ask  Nusrat Jahan, Trinamool Congress M. P

Azaan In Kolkata Durga Puja Pandal Raises Social Media's Hackles, Case Filed Against Organisers

No possibility of Babri Masjid construction: Maulana TauqeerRaza

Taliban free 3 Indian hostages in exchange for 11 of its leaders

Student killed in Bangladesh for criticising govt deal with India

India slams Pakistan for ‘weaponising’ women’s rights issues at UNGA

Son suspected to have joined Islamic State, Kerala man declared hostile witness

J-K Police seize mortar shells under bridge on Jammu-Pathankot highway

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Southeast Asia

Mosques In Singapore Are Built And Upgraded Using Funds Contributed By Muslims Here, To Ensure Foregners Do Not Influence Them, Says Senior Minister Defence and Foreign Affairs

Integrated Islamic Schooling In High Demand Amid Growing Piety Of Middle Class Muslims

US Blacklists 28 Chinese Entities Over Abuses In Xinjiang

US Puts Hikvision, Chinese Security Bureaus On Economic Blacklist

7 Ex-Muslim Rebels Killed In Philippines By Pro-ISIS Group

Tense atmosphere dims hopes for US-China deal

More than 16,000 flee unrest in Indonesia's Papua region

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North America

Trump Says Will 'Obliterate' Turkey's Economy If It Acts 'Off Limits'

Kashmiris Are Not Alone In The World, Says US Presidential Candidate

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar Files For Divorce From Husband

US Senator Graham slams Trump for allowing Turkey to invade Syria

Trump Abandons US-Backed Syria Kurdish Militants, Says 'Too Costly' To Back Them

Peaceful Muslim Community In Mexico: Over 5,500 Villagers Embrace Islam since 1989

Obama aligned with PKK terror group, not Kurds: Expert

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Pakistan

Pakistan Scores 6/27 On Cleaning Up Terror Funding, Money Laundering

Fazal Ur Rehman- Fighting for Islam or Islamabad?

Imran Khan Raises Kashmir Issue During Meeting With US Senators

UK govt report finds no evidence Pakistan supporting Khalistanis

PM, COAS to meet Chinese leadership on Oct 8-9: FO

Pakistan's Islamists Threaten to Topple 'Jewish Agent' Imran Khan - for Meeting George Soros

Turkey to rebuild 118-year-old mosque in Pakistan

President Alvi promulgates ordinance for establishment of CPEC Authority

Former French officials on trial over kickback deals with Pakistan

JUI-F denies issuing ‘instructions’ on sodomy during ‘Azadi March’

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Mideast

Israeli Officials Wrap Up Netanyahu’s Pre-Indictment Hearing

Iran waives entry visas to Iraqis for two months

Israel Should Focus More On Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Than On Hezbollah’s Missiles

Iran says Chinese state oil firm has withdrawn from $5bn deal

Al Houthis Manipulate Women To Lay Landmines

Israeli Citizen Indicted For Trying To Join Isis, Produce Explosives

Iran to launch second phase of activities at Arak nuclear reactor: Official

Iran govt spokesman: Tehran to continue efforts to ease tension with Gulf States

Iran says US coercion putting global trade system in danger

Iran says Iraq's ongoing developments will have no impact on Arba'een march

Israeli siege, assaults totally or partially affect 100 percent of Gaza factories

Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing

Palestinian, 21, wounded during clashes along Gaza border dies from injuries

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Europe

Social Media Firms Let Off Islamist Extremists For Fear Of Being Accused Of Human Rights Breaches

France Rocked by Extremist’s Counterterror Role

Far Right Poses As Protectors Of Women To Target Muslims, Official Extremism Report Finds

Supporting Muslim Teens in Face of Islamophobia — in Their Own Schools

Russia acknowledges Turkey's right to self-security

Relations with Serbia at best level in history: Erdogan

President Erdogan's Syria operation offers Turkey 'what it wants'

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Arab World

Muslim Brotherhood Demands Kuwait to Stop Handing over its Members to Egypt

Syria Camp Is At Risk Of Falling Under ISIS Control, Kurdish General Says

Organization Of Islamic Cooperation Intensifies Efforts To Protect Heritage

High hopes as Hariri seeks UAE cash for ailing economy, Emiratis can now travel to Lebanon

U.S.-Backed Syrian Force Warns Of 'All-Out War' In Response To Any Turkish Attack

Nine jihadists killed in Russia strikes on Idlib: monitor

Russian Army Reinforces in Aleppo to Block Ankara’s Possible Attacks

Kurdish Militias Dispatch Massive Troops, Military Equipment to Borders with Turkey After Ankara's Recent Threats

Iraq reopens central Green Zone in Baghdad after situation ‘stabilized’

UAE to lift Lebanon travel ban from Tuesday

Protests in Iraq’s city of Najaf halt after agreement between govt, protestors

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South Asia

Opium-Smuggling Taliban Leader’s Release From Prison Raises Questions

Taliban Militants Kill Six Afghan Police At Remote Checkpoint Northeast Of Kabul

Bangladesh student killing: Thousands protest demanding justice

Afghan Special Forces kill 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni province

Afghan and U.S. forces kill one of the most senior commanders of Taliban Red Unit

10 civilians including a child killed, 27 more wounded in Jalalabad city explosion

Taliban’s shadow judge and district chief killed in Takhar airstrike

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Africa

Declare al Shabaab a terror group, Speaker Muturi tells US

Boko Haram Kills 16 Civilians, 11 Soldiers In Borno

Rwandan forces 'kill 19 terrorists' in retaliatory attack

UN peacekeeper killed, five wounded in Mali

Germany announces additional $73 mln in aid to Somalia

US in Somalia: Is it still a safe haven for al-Shabab?

24 al-Shabab militants killed in Somalia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘why-insult-islam-by-offering-puja-to-hindu-gods,-when-not-practicing’?-darul-uloom-clerics-ask--nusrat-jahan,-trinamool-congress-m-p/d/119943

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‘Why Insult Islam By Offering Puja To Hindu Gods, When Not Practicing’? Darul Uloom Clerics ask  Nusrat Jahan, Trinamool Congress M. P

Nelanshu Shukla

October 7, 2019

TMC Lok Sabha member Nusrat Jahan once again finds herself in the line of fire for attending Durga puja celebrations. A prominent Muslim cleric has slammed her for participating in Hindu rituals and said the actor should change her name and religion because she is defaming Islam and Muslims by her actions.

Nusrat Jahan, the first-time MP from Bashirhat, has been in the line of fire of the Muslim clergy for sporting symbols of Hindu matrimony like mangalsutra and sindur’ since her marriage to a Hindu entrepreneur Nikhil Jain earlier this year.

This is nothing new. She has been offering puja to Hindu Gods despite the fact that Islam orders its followers to pray only to Allah’. What she has done is Haram’ (sinful).

She had also married outside religion. She should change her name and religion. Islam doesn’t need people who assume Muslim names and defame Islam and Muslims, Mufti Asad Qasmi, a cleric associated with Darul Uloom Deoband, told media.

ANI

@ANI

#WATCH Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan dances as husband Nikhil Jain plays the 'dhak' at Suruchi Sangha. #DurgaPuja2019

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Clad in a saree and sporting sindur, Nusrat Jahan had attended Durga puja celebrations of Suruchi Sangha with her husband on Sunday. TV channels showed her lip-syncing to hymns being recited by a priest, her eyes closed and hands folded in solemn prayer. She also beat a drum and danced joyously. The TMC MP had later told journalists that she had prayed for peace and prosperity of all.

ANI

@ANI

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan and husband Nikhil Jain offer prayers at Suruchi Sangha Pandal. #DurgaPuja2019

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In Bengal we all celebrate all festivals together. I always enjoy being part of the celebration, she said.

I don’t bother about controversies. Controversies touch me? No, the doughty actress, who has often insisted she represents an inclusive India, said, when asked about whether her celebrating Durga puja will set off a fresh row.

Ancestors of Indian Muslims were Hindus: VHP

Commenting on the Deoband cleric's objection to Nusrat Jahan's attire and conduct at Durga Puja, Vishwa Hindu Parishad's executive president Alok Kumar said that there is nothing wrong in a Muslim enjoying Durga Puja or a Hindu throwing Iftar.

"The comment shows how one-sided are their claims regarding Ganga-Jamuna tehzeeb and tolerance. We believe that the ancestors of the Indian Muslims were Hindus," the VHP leader said.

There is nothing wrong in a Muslim dancing in Durga Pandal, the same way it is not wrong for a Hindu to throw Iftar. It does not mean they have converted their religion," Alok Kumar said.

Nusrat Jahan is free to wear sindur: UP Shia Waqf Board

Deoband cleric’s remarks were not only slammed by the VHP but also by Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board. The chairman of the board, , Waseem Rizvi, said Jahan was free to wear emblems of Hindu marriage like sindur, bindi or mangalsutra.

Islam does not bar her from wearing these things.... there is no problem. If any follower of Islam wants to convert to another religion, they can do so, but nobody can be thrown out of Islam, he told a TV channel.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/nusrat-jahan-durga-puja-controversy-muslim-cleric-vhp-1606968-2019-10-07

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Azaan in Kolkata Durga Puja Pandal raises social media's hackles, case filed against organisers

Manogya Loiwal

October 7, 2019

ADurga Puja pandal in Kolkata has come under fire for promoting communal harmony by playing the azaan.

A complaint has been filed against the Beliaghata 33 Pally Durga Puja pandal committee in Kolkata for playing a recording of azaan (Islamic call to worship) during the ongoing Navratra celebrations.

Local lawyer Santanu Singha has named 10 persons for allegedly "disturbing the peace and tranquillity in the West Bengal" and "hit(ting) the sentiments of the Hindu religion".

Tathagata Roy

@tathagata2

“It is far better to observe one's prescribed dharma, even if they may be faulty, than another's dharma. Destruction in the course of performing one's own dharma is better than engaging in another's dharma, for to follow another's dharma is disastrous”.

Shrimadbhagavad Gita 3:35. https://twitter.com/keyakahe/status/1179815706637942786 …

Keya Ghosh

@keyakahe

Azaan being played in Durga Puja Pandal ! Are the organisers desperate to prove their "secularism" to someone in particular? Shame on Beliaghata 33 Pally. @rishibagree @MrsGandhi @TajinderBagga @ShefVaidya @tathagata2

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In his complaint, Singha has claimed that a video of azaan being played at the Beliaghata Durga Puja pandal was forwarded to him by members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The puja committee, however, has claimed that its aim was to promote secularism. The secretary of the Beliaghata 33 pally club said they had chosen the theme 'amra ek, eka noye (We are together, not alone)' and hence played the azaan during the celebrations.

"To demonstrate the theme, we have used models of church, temple and mosque and also used their symbols. Our purpose is to show that humanity is above all religion," the club secretary said.

He claimed that the issue is being "politicised unnecessarily".

Arup Sinha, chairperson Beliaghata 33 pally puja Committee also explained, "We believe that we are all one. There is no separation from birth and there is no difference in the colour of blood. We believe that we have a spine and we will ensure that forever...because all religions form a part of our strong country. We are playing Om mantra and also Azaan...this is a reflection of communal harmony. We stand united."

SOCIAL MEDIA PANS BUT VISITORS HAPPY

The move, has, however, stirred up a controversy on social media with many slamming the pandal for "excessive minority appeasement".

Videos circulating on social media even show a bunch of youth shouting "mandir wahin banaenge" in the pandal.

Akshay Singh

@Akshaysinghel

Watch the reply of Hindus People where Azaan was played two Days earlier in Durga Puja Pandal, Just Loved this..

This 40 seconds video shows Hindus are united in West Bengal Land. https://twitter.com/Akshaysinghel/status/1179991187257581568 …

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Akshay Singh

@Akshaysinghel

Nothing more dangerous than this..

Hell with Secularism, Please save West Bengal.

Azan is being played in Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata .. Did you anyone ever heard any mantra in any Mosque ?

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However, visitors to the pandal have appreciated the measure.

Tanaya Mukherjee, pandal visitor told India Today TV, " we are extremely happy to see this kind of theme in a pandal in these turbulent times. This is needed to spread the message of peace in all religion and their followers."

Aayushi Chakrabarty, another visitor praised the pandal theme and said, "It is a very unique theme...unity in diversity... I am happy to see this. Everyone is the same in the eyes of God...so if the god does not have a weapon in hand then why are we taking weapons in our hands?"

POLITICAL STORM BREWS

Commenting on the controversy, BJP leader Mukul Roy said, "This is a ritual. We believe in our religion. We do not want anybody to harm our religion."

Among the puja organizers is TMC leader Paresh Pal who has been avoiding to answer any queries.

Vivek Singh, Prachar Pramukh of Hindu Jagran Manch in south Bengal said, "Have you ever heard Durga Saptastruti paath or Chandi paath being played at a mosque or during Eid? Have you ever heard Hanuman Chalisa being played at a church during Christmas? Does the onus of secularism lie only on Hindus?"

He added that the organisation has already filed a complaint at the Fulbagan police station and said they will be taking the legal route if their complaint is not acted upon.

A Muslim cleric Sajid Rashidi said the issue is being raked up by those who are "either religious hardliners or are doing this to become famous."

"These are those people who don't know India's culture and values. When we wake up in the morning, we hear azaan and in the evening we hear the prayers. Religion is on one side but it has become a culture. Because of this culture, everyone knows India. These are the people who to spread hatred and want to divide the country," he said.

The police are yet to file an FIR in the case.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/azaan-in-kolkata-durga-puja-pandal-raises-hackles-splits-social-media-wide-open-1606883-2019-10-07

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Mosques In Singapore Are Built And Upgraded Using Funds Contributed By Muslims Here, To Ensure Foregners Do Not Influence Them, Says Senior Minister Defence and Foreign Affairs

OCT 7, 2019

SINGAPORE - Mosques in Singapore are built and upgraded using funds contributed by Muslims here, and this ensures the Muslim community cannot be easily influenced by foreigners, said Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman on Monday (Oct 7).

He cited this as he spoke about the unique way in which Islam is practised in Singapore, saying the Muslim community charts its own path while respecting the country's multi-religious context, even as it adheres closely to the underpinnings of Islam.

"The community recognises the importance of practising one's religion in a way that is respectful towards those who may profess a different belief," he said in Parliament during the debate on the the amendments to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA) .

It is in this spirit that the community and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) supports the MHRA changes that will allow the Government to act swiftly against threats to religious harmony and curb foreign influence on religious organisations, he added.

In fact, Dr Maliki said, the practices of the mosques and religious institutions under Muis are already aligned to the amendments, like the setting up of the Mosque Building Fund.

The money in the fund comes from the monthly contributions of each working Muslim in Singapore, and is used to build and upgrade the 75 mosques in the country.

This allows the Muslim community to be self-reliant, said Dr Maliki, adding: "We are able to address our own needs without becoming susceptible to manipulation by foreign parties for their own agendas and risking the peace and harmony we have enjoyed as a society."

He also stressed the importance of guarding the common space for people of all races and religions, in response to Workers' Party's Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC) who had said religious tolerance can be achieved without any followers of a religion having to sacrifice their values and faith.

Mr Faisal cited the experience of his father's friend, whose daughter was allowed to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothing in a public secondary school in Melbourne.

"They do not practise tolerance by asking followers of a religion to compromise their faith or to be less Islamic for the sake of integration," he said.

Dr Maliki, in his response, said schools in Singapore are critical common spaces where a shared identity and experience can be nurtured in children of all races and religions.

"Here in Singapore, we must determine what works best for our unique multi-religious context," he added.

He also said that while religion is a deeply personal matter, the Muslim community recognises the role that laws play in allowing the different communities to co-exist in harmony.

"The law sets the tone for the norms that we treasure and uphold as a society, and in the case of the MRHA, the laws are the ultimate safeguard for religious harmony," he added.

https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-mosque-building-fund-is-one-way-singapores-muslim-community-avoids-foreign

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Trump says will 'obliterate' Turkey's economy if it acts 'off limits'

Oct 7, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened NATO ally Turkey with totally obliterating its economy if it went "off limits" on Syria, hours after the White House announced the withdrawal of the US troops from Syria's northern border.

The US' move effectively abandons the Kurds, who were America's main ally in the fight against the ISIS. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that the long-threatened offensive against separatists Kurdish militia could come any time.

"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," Trump tweeted on Monday.

"They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families," he said after the White House announced that Turkish forces will soon be launching military operations in Northern Syria and American troops would withdraw from the region.

Trump's move to pull out US troops from Syria's northern border has been slammed by even his traditional national security and foreign policy supporters like Indian-American Nikki Haley.

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched… https://t.co/tNjd9bRijx

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1570462689000

Trump defended his decision saying that the United States has done its part and now it is the time for other regional players to play their part.

"The US has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!” Trump said in another tweet.

Senators Chris Van Hollen and Lindsay Graham announced to introduce a bipartisan sanction against Turkey if they invade Syria. The legislation, the two Senators said, will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.

Graham said he feels very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. "So sad. So dangerous. President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us," he said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that it does not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria and asserted that Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations and others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the US.

"The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the President - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The US Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation," Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman said.

In conversations between the Department and the Turkish military, he said, the Pentagon has consistently stressed that coordination and cooperation were the best path toward security in the area.

Both the Defense secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterated to their respective Turkish counterparts that unilateral action creates risks for Turkey, Hoffman said.

"As the President has stated, Turkey would be responsible, along with European nations and others, for thousands of ISIS fighters who had been captured and defeated in the campaign lead by the United States,” he said.

"We will work with our other NATO allies and Coalition partners to reiterate to Turkey the possible destabilizing consequences of potential actions to Turkey, the region, and beyond," Hoffman said in a statement.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/trump-threatens-to-obliterate-turkeys-economy-if-it-takes-off-limits-actions/articleshow/71482551.cms

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Kashmiris are not alone in the world, says US presidential candidate

Anwar Iqbal

October 08, 2019

WASHINGTON: “We have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world,” says Kamala Harris, a major Democratic candidate for the 2020 US presidential election.

“We are keeping a track on the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands,” she said in a recent statement. Her comments are even more significant because she is of Indian descent from her mother’s side.

So far, three major presidential candidates have spoken on Kashmir — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. All three are members of the US Senate and have strong chances of being on the Democratic ticket for 2020, which may have two names from this list, one for president and the other for vice president.

And if US President Donald Trump’s repeated offers to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir are also counted, the number of US presidential hopefuls expressing concern over Kashmir goes up to four. So far, Mr Trump is the only Republican candidate for 2020.

On Saturday, Senator Warren reminded India that “the rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected”. And Senator Sanders said that India’s Aug 5 action to annex Kashmir was “unacceptable”.

He also urged the Trump administration to “speak out boldly” and back “a UN-backed peaceful resolution that respects the will of the Kashmiri people”.

Another Indian American lawmaker, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, joined 13 of her colleagues in the House of Representatives to write a joint letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, asking him to lift the restrictions he had imposed in Kashmir.

Last week, a US Senate panel attached an amendment to a finance bill that requires India to end its lockdown and curfew in Kashmir valley and fully restore communications links to the occupied valley.

Commenting on these arguments, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan said at a seminar in Washington last week that “there is a palpable shift” in the US position on Kashmir.

The Indian clampdown in the occupied valley has forced the international community, particularly the Americans, to have a closer look at this 72-year old dispute, he added.

Marvin Weinbaum, director of the Afghanistan, Pakistan programme at a Washington think-tank, the Middle East Institute (MEI), agreed with Mr Khan’s assessment, as did a co-moderator Raza Rumi. Prime Minister “Modi has handed a gift to Pakistan by bringing the issue to the fore as it has never been before this”, Mr Weinbaum said. “This has put India on the defensive.”

The issue also figured prominently at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) last week where President Trump spoke about this issue in joint news briefings with both Indian and Pakistani prime ministers.

On three different occasions, including one in which Mr Modi was also sitting beside him, President Trump repeated his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. He did so, knowing that Mr Modi does not like to hear this “m” word and has publicly rejected his offers in the past.

But as Mr Weinbaum and Mr Rumi pointed out at this MEI seminar on Kashmir, the American media is far ahead of the US government in condemning the Indian annexation and gross human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

“This is significant because for more than 70 years, Pakistan has been attempting to draw the world’s attention to the Kashmir issue … with limited success,” Mr Weinbaum said.

“And when Pakistan has tried to push the issue, whether covertly or overtly, it backfired.”

President Masood Khan, who accompanied Prime Minister Imran Khan to the UNGA to highlight the Kashmir issue and then came to Washington for similar meetings with US lawmakers, officials, journalists and others, noted that attitudes were changing across the world.

Talking to journalists at the Pakistan Embassy, Mr Khan said that similar pressures were also building up in other world capitals, particularly in Europe and China.

Mr Khan said that the international pressure had revived his “hope that India will be forced to resolve this issue peacefully and in accordance the wishes of the Kashmiri people”.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509674/kashmiris-are-not-alone-in-the-world-says-us-presidential-candidate

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Pakistan scores 6/27 on cleaning up terror funding, money laundering

Oct 8, 2019

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary in Paris which will decide whether Pakistan should be placed on the ‘black list’ — which will result in severe restrictions on its economy — the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) released its report, saying Islamabad’s compliance on terror financing and money laundering was unacceptably low.

Pakistan is banking on its political connections and utility in the US’s attempts to extricate itself from Afghanistan to stay out of the ‘black list’ next week. It could be banking on concerns that blacklisting will destabilise Pakistan and it might result in an adverse fallout in a volatile and unstable region.

If such calculations prevail, Pakistan could stay on the ‘grey list’ rather than getting into the ‘black list’, even though a dispassionate examination of its record makes it a fit case for stronger measures as the APG report pointed out lack of action against jihadi outfits like Islamic State, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Haqqani Network.

Of the 27 action items that Pakistan had to work on until October 2019, it has cleared only six, according to the latest FATF report. The first process was initiated in January 2018 and Pakistan had about 27 agenda items to show compliance. With an October deadline, Pakistan has cleared only six items with 21 still pending.

The second process, which started in mid-2018 after Pakistan was placed in the grey list, was reviewed by the APG in August. Pakistan needed to score substantial or high compliance on 11 agenda items but had low scores on 10 items and moderate on one, but no compliance of a higher order.

The APG released its much-awaited 228-page ‘Mutual Evaluation Report’ on October 3, 10 days before the FATF plenary begins in Paris. The APG is an inter-governmental organisation consisting of 41 members in the Asia-Pacific region which monitors implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted standards against money laundering, terror financing and proliferation financing set by the FATF.

Pakistani PM Imran Khan met a large number of member countries during UNGA week to lobby to be kept off the black list. Despite FATF being a largely technical and expert-level group, Khan made a pitch that India was making a politically driven pitch to push Pakistan into the ‘black list’.

Pakistan has so far secured support from Turkey, China and Malaysia. Saudi Arabia should be expected to offer support as well, but it is not yet clear. “Pakistan has not taken sufficient measures to fully implement UNSCR 1267 obligations against all listed individuals and entities — especially those associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)/Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) as well as the groups,” the FATF report said.

“Pakistan should adequately identify, assess and understand its ML (money laundering)/TF (terror financing) risks including transnational risks and risks associated with terrorist groups operating in Pakistan such as Da’esh, AQ, JuD, FiF, LeT, JeM, HQN, and this should be used to implement a comprehensive and coordinated risk-based approach to combating ML and TF,” the report continued.

The report said national regulators like the State Bank of Pakistan and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan had very limited understating of money laundering and terror financing regimes.

“Competent authorities have varying levels of understanding of the country’s money laundering and terror financing risks, and the private sector has a mixed understanding of risks,” the report said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-scores-6/27-on-cleaning-up-terror-funding-money-laundering/articleshow/71484986.cms

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Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing

7 October 2019

Israel’s state prosecutors and Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers were wrapping up the pre-indictment hearing over a slew of corruption allegations against the prime minister on Monday.

Netanyahu’s lawyers arrived at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the fourth and final day of the proceedings where they were meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and his team to appeal that the cases against Netanyahu be dropped.

Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases that have dogged the long-serving premier. The hearing is the final step before the attorney general decides whether to issue a formal indictment.

The legal woes come as Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival, with the country’s unprecedented second election of the year failing to provide him with a clear victory.

In last month’s election, neither Netanyahu nor his chief challenger, Benny Gantz, secured the required parliamentary majority to form a new government. Both men have expressed support for a unity government as a way out of the deadlock, but they remain far apart on who should lead it and what smaller parties would join them.

Gantz and his centrist Blue and White Party have so far rejected a partnership with Netanyahu, citing his legal woes. A failure to reach a deal could trigger a third election in less than a year.

Netanyahu is desperate to stay on as prime minister, a post he can use as a pulpit as he tries to fend off any charges.

Israeli law requires Cabinet ministers to step down if charged with a crime. But the law is vague for sitting prime ministers, meaning he could theoretically remain in the post if he is indicted, though he would likely face calls to step aside.

The allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.

Netanyahu has called the allegations part of a witch hunt, lashing out against the media, police, prosecutors and the justice system. The attorney general is expected to render his final decision by the end of the year.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/Israeli-officials-wrap-up-Netanyahu-s-pre-indictment-hearing.html

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Social media firms let off Islamist extremists for fear of being accused of human rights breaches

Charles Hymas

7 OCTOBER 2019

Social media firms are failing to crackdown on Islamist extremists because of fears of being accused of breaching their human rights, an 18-month investigation into extremism has found.

In her first major report, Sara Khan, the Government’s counter-extremism commissioner, says social media firms and other bodies are taking tougher action against Far Right groups than other extremists like Islamists.

The report claims Islamist groups have been “particularly good” at “subverting” the human rights agenda to counter measures to curb their extremist activities.

At the same time, human rights groups have turned a blind eye to protecting victims of Islamist extremism by instead focusing on the impact...

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/07/social-media-firms-let-islamist-extremists-fear-accused-human/

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Muslim Brotherhood Demands Kuwait to Stop Handing over its Members to Egypt

5 October, 2019

The Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait demanded on Friday local authorities to cease handing over its detained members to Egypt.

The party urged Kuwait to instead to allow the them to “safely depart Kuwait to any other country”.

The statement was issued days after Kuwait handed over to Cairo Khaled al-Mahdi, a member of the youth leadership in the Brotherhood. He has been sentenced to ten years in jail by Egypt for his involvement in violent acts and financing the group.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned by Egypt and designated as a terrorist organization.

A security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Brotherhood fugitives wanted by Egypt and residing in Kuwait are handed over to Cairo based on an agreement signed by the two countries.

Mahdi, he revealed, attempted to recruit Egyptian expatriates in Kuwait and to set up electronic militias in the Gulf country in order to attack Egypt.

In a statement on Friday, the Brotherhood acknowledged the existence of its cell in Kuwait.

It was arrested by authorities and its members turned over to Egypt.

The statement said the detainees were members of the Brotherhood and that they had verdicts issued against them by Egypt. Kuwait has the right to determine their fate.

It accused Kuwait of abandoning the policy of neutrality on divisive regional issues, claimed the statement.

Moreover, it alleged that the Brotherhood was an “important part of the Kuwaiti political scene.”

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1932236/muslim-brotherhood-demands-kuwait-stop-handing-over-its-members-egypt

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Opium-Smuggling Taliban Leader’s Release From Prison Raises Questions

By Mujib Mashal

Oct. 7, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — Eleven Taliban commanders have been released from a high-security prison in Afghanistan, according to Taliban officials, in an apparent deal that included a prominent regional leader caught five years ago personally escorting a shipment of nearly a ton of opium.

Afghan and American officials have remained silent about the releases from the prison, near the Bagram Air Base outside Kabul. A senior Afghan official said the 11 Taliban prisoners had been released in return for three Indian engineers after months of negotiations with local Taliban commanders in northern Baghlan province, where the engineers were kidnapped last year. The Indian Embassy in Afghanistan declined to comment.

The releases, which took place on Sunday, came just days after Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States diplomat and chief negotiator with the Taliban, went to Islamabad, Pakistan, and met with Taliban representatives. It was Mr. Khalilzad’s first meeting with them since President Trump called off negotiations with the insurgents on the eve of a potential breakthrough.

The potential release of thousands of Taliban prisoners was part of those negotiations. But that issue was a main point of contention with Afghan officials who were furious that their government was excluded from those talks, and that the United States was negotiating the release of prisoners being held under Afghan authority.

It was unclear whether the releases on Sunday had anything to do with negotiations between the United States and the Taliban. In Afghanistan, however, rumors were rife — not only among Afghan and Taliban officials, but also some diplomats — that a separate prisoner exchange had been a major topic of discussion in the Islamabad meeting between the Mr. Khalilzad and the Taliban.

The insurgents have been holding three American University of Afghanistan professors since August 2016, one of them an American said to be in poor health. In return for their release, the Taliban have demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, a member of the feared Haqqani network, a wing of the Taliban. He is a stepbrother of the network’s leader and is one of the most prized prisoners of the Afghan government.

Some Afghan and Taliban officials suggested the two sides might have reached an agreement on the swap, possibly as a trust building measure that could help revive the broader peace negotiations.

The release of prisoners in itself was not unusual, with the Afghan government on occasions of religious festivals often pardoning dozens whose prison terms are near completion.

But what has drawn attention to this latest release is the notoriety of one Taliban figure in particular: Abdul Rashid Baluch, who was on the United States Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” list and was arrested in a narcotics raid five years ago.

Mr. Baluch was a Taliban shadow governor, a regional official in charge of military and political operations in the southwestern province of Nimroz, when he was caught with a huge shipment of opium. The drug bust was held up as a major revelation in how the line between Taliban insurgents and the narcotics mafia had blurred in Afghanistan. (Taliban officials have denied that Mr. Baluch was involved in drug trafficking.)

Despite evidence of Mr. Baluch’s involvement in terrorist attacks, Afghan prosecutors deliberately tried him on stricter counternarcotics charges. They feared that the counterterrorism process was vulnerable to political deal-making.

Now, the release of Mr. Baluch, especially if it is tied to the United States peace talks with the Taliban, once again brings to the fore the concern that the American negotiations did not address the complexity of the conflict — and particularly how to consider the Taliban’s increasing hold on the massive drug trade in the country.

If his release was a unilateral Afghan government decision, it is unlikely that the Afghan government would decide on the fate of a United States-designated terrorist figure without first consulting the Americans.

Mr. Baluch was arrested in Nimroz, a smuggling hub on the border with Iran, in July 2014. An Afghan special forces helicopter swooped down on two vehicles racing through the desert, seizing nearly a metric ton of opium, light and heavy weapons, ammunition and satellite phones. The main person they detained had insisted he was a carpet seller, giving his name as Muhammad shaq, but investigators confirmed his identity as Abdul Rashid Baluch when he was transferred to Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Both Afghan and Western officials at the time played up his case, and his arrest in a counternarcotics operation rather than a counterterrorism raid. He was tried in the country’s high-security drug court and given an 18-year sentence.

His release now, under circumstances lacking transparency, is the latest instance of a major drug smuggler going free.

Late in 2014, Hajji Lal Jan Ishaqzai, another major kingpin, bribed his way out of prison by paying millions of dollars. Long among wanted international smugglers, he had been arrested in 2012 after a shootout and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The United States has spent more than $8 billion on narcotics operations in Afghanistan, according to the United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Throughout the course of the war, American officials have shifted antidrug strategies several times.

Earlier this year, the American-led mission in Afghanistan called off its latest attempt to cut off the Taliban’s revenue stream from drugs: a concerted bombing campaign that targeted drug labs, mostly in the country’s volatile south where much of the opium is grown. In 2018, the total opium poppy cultivation area in Afghanistan was estimated at between 242,000 to 283,000 hectares, according to a United Nations report, the second-highest measurement since it started monitoring the crop in 1994.

When the Taliban was in power in the 1990s, the group largely prohibited poppy cultivation. After the American-led invasion in 2001, the government-turned insurgent group turned to the opium trade for financial support.

In an unrelated incident Monday, an explosion in the eastern city of Jalalabad killed 10 people and wounded 27 others, said Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province. Most of the casualties were newly recruited soldiers aboard a shuttle bus caught in the blast.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Fahim Abed and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban-prisoner-release-drugs.html

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India

 

No possibility of Babri Masjid construction: Maulana TauqeerRaza

by Rasia Hashmi

October 07, 2019

Lucknow: Grandson of Aala Hazrat and Ittehad Millat Council Chief Maulana Tauqeer Raza held a meeting with Muslim scholars at a flat at Thakur Gunj, Lucknow. Before the meeting, Maulana Tauqeer Raza said in the current scenario, reconciliation is the only solution to the Ayodhya dispute.

In view of the situation, whether the court verdict comes in favour or against, Muslim party cannot construct masjid at any cost. Hence both the parties should solve the issue through reconciliation so that peace prevails in the country, he said. Inquilab Daily reported.

The joint proposal of clerics and Sunni Central Waqf Board will be submitted before October 18. People outside the flat raised slogans against Maulana Tauqeer Raza.

Maulana told that some people are obstructing the reconciliation. Some sections in each of the two parties, want one-sided verdict. He blamed VHP and others on one side and AIMPLB and Jamiat Ulama on the other for not resolving the matter.

Maulana Tauqeer Raza expressed fear of large scale riots in case of construction of masjid.

https://www.siasat.com/no-possibility-babri-masjid-construction-maulana-tauqeerraza-1652270/

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Taliban free 3 Indian hostages in exchange for 11 of its leaders

October 8, 2019

Three Indian engineers held by the Taliban in Afghanistan since May 2018 have been freed by the militant group in exchange for 11 of its top members from Afghan jails, according to an Afghan media report Monday.

However, there was no official confirmation from India on the release or identity of the engineers, who are reported to have been working for KEC, a global infrastructure engineering, procurement and construction company of RPG Enterprises.

They are reported to have been among seven Indian engineers and their Afghan driver who were abducted in the first week of May 2018 in the Bagh-e-Shamal area of northern Baghlan province, where they were working on an electricity sub-station.

One of the seven was released in March. No group had claimed responsibility for their abduction at the time.

The latest release follows meetings between US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Islamabad during the weekend, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Two Taliban officials told the US-funded media outlet that the swap took place earlier Sunday. The officials, however, did not disclose the location of the release and refused to say whether the freed Taliban were being held by Afghan or US forces.

The Associated Press reported that the Taliban were released from one of Afghanistan’s largest jails at the Bagram military base, north of Kabul. While the US troops handed over the base to Afghan security forces years ago, it still maintains a military presence there.

The officials said the freed Taliban leaders include Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Mawlawi Abdur Rashid, who had served as the group’s governors of Kunar and Nimroz provinces, respectively, before the Taliban was deposed by the US-led forces in 2001.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/taliban-free-3-indian-hostages-in-exchange-for-11-of-its-leaders-6058278/

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Student killed in Bangladesh for criticising govt deal with India

Oct 7, 2019

Students in Bangladesh staged protests and blocked major roads Monday after an undergraduate was beaten to death, allegedly by ruling party activists, for criticising the government over a water-sharing deal with India.

Protests broke out at several universities in Dhaka and the northern city of Rajshahi following the killing of Abrar Fahad of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Students chanted slogans demanding “justice” and blocked major roads in the two cities. Teachers joined some of the protests.

Dhaka deputy police commissioner Munstasirul Islam told AFP that Fahad was beaten to death and that ruling party activists were in custody for questioning.

His body was found in his university dormitory and media quoted other residents as saying that members of the student wing of the ruling Awami League had interrogated and beaten him.

Ashikul Islam Bitu, a vice-president of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), told NTV that Fahad had been questioned over alleged links to an Islamist party’s youth group.

Hours earlier, Fahad put up a post on Facebook that went viral. In it, he criticised the government for signing an accord that allowed India to take water from a river that lay on the boundary the two countries share.

Full report at:

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/student-killed-in-bangladesh-for-criticising-govt-deal-with-india/843947.html

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India slams Pakistan for ‘weaponising’ women’s rights issues at UNGA

October 8, 2019

India has lashed out at Pakistan for “weaponising” women’s rights issues for self-serving political gains in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it is ironical that a country where violations of women’s right to life in the name of ‘honour’ go unpunished is making “baseless” statements about it in India.

First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi during the UN General Assembly Third Committee session on ‘Advancement of Women’ on Monday asserted that from the first woman President of the General Assembly Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit to women scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation, Indian women from have long served as inspiration for many.

“As we renew our collective resolve to continue to work towards the realisation of women’s empowerment and gender equality, there is no space for weaponising women’s rights issues through empty rhetoric for self-serving political gains. Today, one delegation has callously chosen to politicise this agenda by making unwarranted references to internal matters of my country,” she said at the Committee.

The Committee is one of the six in the UN General Assembly, deals with social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues.

Tripathi did not directly name Pakistan, but was responding to references made to Jammu and Kashmir by Islamabad’s outgoing envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, who in her speech at the Committee earlier said the women in Jammu and Kashmir were suffering due to the communication blackout in the state.

Lodhi had alluded to a picture of a Kashmiri mother that appeared on the front page of The New York Times along with an article about how the mother lost her son, who was bitten by a snake, as she could not get medical help on time.

Without naming Pakistan, Tripathi said that the country covets the territory of others and camouflages its “vile intentions with fake concerns”.

“It is ironical that a country, where violations of women’s right to life in the name of so called ‘honour’ go unpunished, is making baseless statements about women’s rights in my country,” she said.

Tripathi said the international community still remembered that the “armed forces of this country” perpetrated dreadful sexual violence against women with impunity, in India’s immediate neighbourhood in 1971.

“We still hear accounts of these gruesome violations at the annual high level general debate. We do not wish to engage further on this issue with a delegation with such credibility,” Tripathi said, stressing that the precious time of the UNGA Committee be better utilised to deliberate on the agenda before it.

She said that despite significant progress made towards gender equality, women and girls around the world continue to face restrictions to access education, employment and political participation.

Women are still married as children, trafficked into forced labour and sex slavery and every day more than 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, Tripathi said.

She told the session that gender equality and empowerment of women were an integral part of India’s inclusive development strategy and New Delhi attaches utmost importance to representation of women in decision making positions.

More than 1.3 million elected women representatives lead in formulation and implementation of public policies at grassroots level in India and measures such as financial inclusion, income guarantee programmes, cash benefit transfers, improved access to healthcare and education for women and girls have improved lives of millions, she said.

More than 197 million women, who previously did not qualify to open bank accounts, now have bank accounts through government’s financial inclusion initiative, she added.

Highlighting other initiatives taken by the Indian government to ensure women empowerment and equality, Tripathi said ‘Stand Up India’ and ‘Mudra Yojana’ programmes promote women entrepreneurship by providing access to loans and cooking gas connections have been ensured to more than 80 million women leading to positive impact on their health, and reduced environmental degradation from using firewood.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-slams-pakistan-for-weaponising-womens-rights-issues-at-unga-6058868/

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Son suspected to have joined Islamic State, Kerala man declared hostile witness

by Sadaf Modak

October 8, 2019

The father of a Kerala man who allegedly left the country to join the Islamic State was declared a hostile witness on Monday in a trial against an Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) employee.

The Kerala man has been missing from the country since 2016, along with his wife, one-year-old daughter, brother, cousin and their families. His father had registered a complaint that the IRF employee, Arshi Qureshi, had allegedly influenced his son and his family to join the Islamic State.

But on Monday, the father denied registering a complaint against Qureshi. He denied his earlier statement where he had said he had often overheard his son talking on the phone about an “Arshi bhai” from IRF.

“After I returned from Umrah (religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia) in 2016, I learnt that some persons from our village, including my son, have gone missing… They left India but I do not know where they went,” the father said. “It is not correct to say that I had heard my son talk on the phone around me. I do not know anything about IRF, nor about Arshi,” he said during his examination-in-chief by the NIA prosecutor.

Qureshi was chargesheeted by the NIA in March 2017 for allegedly providing support to the Islamic State and furthering its activities in connection with the missing Indians from Kerala.

When the complainant was shown the FIR filed by the police, he admitted that he had signed it, but added he was not aware of its contents as he had neither read it, nor was it read to him. He said he had heard about the IRF when the police called him for questioning and asked him about the IRF.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/son-suspected-to-have-joined-is-kerala-man-declared-hostile-witness-6058386/

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J-K Police seize mortar shells under bridge on Jammu-Pathankot highway

October 7, 2019

A major tragedy was averted as Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday seized three 81 mm live mortar shells under a bridge on the Jammu-Pathankot national highway.

Giving details, sources said that the mortar shells were first sighted by some locals who passed through Lolaph Khud in the morning. They immediately informed local police who along with its bomb disposal squad reached the spot and removed the shells to some distance for blasting.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in all major towns and cities across Jammu region on the eve of Dussehra. All the places where effigies of Ravana, Kumbkarna and Meghnath are to be burnt have been sanitised and closed for the general public for the next 24 hours.

The police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in strength at vulnerable places and random checking of vehicles done at various places.

Meanwhile, Director General of Police Dilbagh visited Katra, Poonch and Mandi towns, besides Hill Kaka and some border areas to take stock of the security scenario. He addressed a public meeting at Kulali and held a joint darbar of police and Central Armed Police Force officers and personnel at Mandi.

At Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Trikuta hills nears Katra, he took stock of the security measures which are put in place during the festivals. He was also briefed about the security measures taken en-route to the holy shrine, including functioning of CCTV cameras, nakas, and frisking points along the yatra track, in Katra town and on various link roads on the national highway.

While interacting with the police and CRPF officers, the DGP stressed upon coordination and synergy among security forces. The DGP directed officials for plugging gaps if any by static as well as dynamic deployment.

He called for the strengthening of Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) so that they are readily available on real time basis to check and chase. He also pitched for use of drones and effective coverage of shadow areas along the route and the Bhawan, besides optimum use of bullet proof bunkers and shields and hassle-free communication.

At Kulali and Hill Kaka in Poonch district, he was briefed by Rashtriya Rifles Commanding Officer Kashish Wadwa about the security scenario including counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism measures put in place by them.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/j-k-police-seize-mortar-shells-under-bridge-on-jammu-pathankot-highway-6057939/

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Southeast Asia

 

Integrated Islamic schooling in high demand amid growing piety of middle class Muslims

Ivany Atina Arbi

October 8, 2019 

"Amsik 'alaika lisaanaka, amsik 'alaika lissanaka [be careful of what you say],” 27 elementary school students chanted in their classroom at Islamic state elementary school Al Azhar 61 in Gading Serpong, Tangerang, Banten, quoting a hadith. By remembering the hadith, the second graders are expected to respect each other and watch what they say to protect one another’s feelings. Before chanting the words as instructed by their teacher, the students were learning about the role of a father in a family as part of an elective subject that combines social science, natural science, mathematics and the arts, among other things. In addition to teaching regular subjects such as natural and social sciences, Al Azhar 61 teachers have also campaigned for Islamic character building, “hoping to create noble, young generations," teacher Lilih Kholidah told T...

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/07/integrated-islamic-schooling-in-high-demand-amid-growing-piety-of-middle-class-muslims.html

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US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in Xinjiang

October 8, 2019

The US Commerce Department announced Monday it is blacklisting 28 Chinese entities that it says are implicated in rights violations and abuses targeting Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the move, which bars the named entities from purchasing US products, saying the United States "cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China."

According to an update to the US Federal Register set to be published Wednesday, the blacklisted firms included video surveillance company Hikvision, as well as artificial intelligence companies Megvii Technology and SenseTime.

The ban comes amid heightened tensions between the US and China, particularly over trade policy and Beijing's actions in the western Xinjiang region.

The world's two biggest economies are in the midst of a trade war that's seen them impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

On Monday, the White House announced that talks between the two countries were set to resume on Thursday, with Beijing's top trade envoy Liu He due to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The US has meanwhile stepped up its rhetoric against Beijing over its policies in the western Xinjiang region.

Right groups say China has detained around one million Uighurs and other Muslims in re-education camps in the region, actions that Washington has said are reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

During last month's United Nations General Assembly, the State Department organized an event to highlight the plight of the Uighurs, with the US's second-highest diplomat John Sullivan decrying "China's horrific campaign of repression."

"In Xinjiang, the Chinese government prevents Muslims from praying and reading the Quran, and it has destroyed or defaced a great number of mosques," Sullivan said.

"This is a systematic campaign by the Chinese Communist Party to stop its own citizens from exercising their unalienable right to religious freedom."

China had until recently denied the existence of re-education camps, but now claims they are "vocational training schools" necessary to control terrorism, while decrying interference in its "internal affairs."

Huawei targeted

The 28 entities blacklisted include 18 public security bureaus in Xinjiang, one police college and eight businesses.

"These entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups," the Federal Register update said.

The blacklisting of the Chinese companies follows Washington's earlier move to stop technology giant Huawei and other Chinese firms from obtaining government contracts.

Hikvision was also included in that ban, which will preclude any US federal agency from purchasing telecom or technology equipment from the firms and comes amid concern that Huawei is linked to Chinese intelligence.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/08/us-blacklists-28-chinese-entities-over-abuses-in-xinjiang.html

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US puts Hikvision, Chinese security bureaus on economic blacklist

October 8, 2019

WASHINGTON: The US Commerce Department said on Monday it was putting 28 Chinese public security bureaus and companies, including video surveillance company Hikvision on a US trade blacklist over Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.

Those added to the so-called “Entity List” include the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region People’s Government Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate government agencies and eight commercial firms, according to a Commerce Department filing.

The companies include Zhejiang Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information and Yixin Science and Technology.

Reuters reported on the planned additions earlier Monday, before the Commerce Department made it official.

The department filing said the “entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

The list includes municipal and county public security bureaus and the Xinjiang Police College.

US officials said the announcement was not tied to this week’s resumption of trade talks with China.

Being added to the “Entity List” bars companies or other entities from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

The Commerce Department previously added Huawei Technologies and more than 100 affiliates to the Entity List.

Hikvision, officially known as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, with a market value of about US$42 billion, calls itself the world’s largest video surveillance gear maker.

Reuters reported in August Hikvision receives nearly 30% of its 50 billion yuan (US$7 billion) in revenue from overseas.

Hikvision did not immediately comment on the Commerce Department’s move.

The Chinese embassy in Washington also did not immediately comment.

In April, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers urged the move against Chinese companies it called “complicit in human rights abuses” and specifically cited Hikvision and Dahua.

China faces growing condemnation from Western capitals and rights groups for setting up facilities that UN experts describe as mass detention centres holding more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said last week at the Vatican that “when the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God.

That’s why China has put more than one million Uighur Muslims … in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail.”

John Honovich, founder of surveillance video research company IPVM, said Hikvision and Dahua both use Intel, Nvidia, Ambarella, Western Digital and Seagate Technology as suppliers and that the impact on the Chinese companies would be “devastating.”

Shares in Ambarella fell 12% in after hours trading on the news.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/highlight/2019/10/08/us-puts-hikvision-chinese-security-bureaus-on-economic-blacklist/

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7 ex-Muslim rebels killed in Philippines by pro-ISIS group

OCT 6, 2019

MANILA • Seven former Muslim rebels have been killed in the southern Philippines in an attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, military and police authorities said yesterday.

They said the dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), formerly the country's largest guerrilla group but which began decommissioning weapons last month under the terms of a 2014 peace treaty.

A pro-ISIS armed group called Dawlah Islamiyah attacked a MILF camp near the town of Shariff Saydona on Friday, sparking fighting that lasted several hours, said Lieutenant-Colonel Ernesto Gener, commander of a local army battalion.

ISIS claimed responsibility in a communique seen by Site Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.

The extremists said eight MILF members were killed, but local police commander, Lt-Col Arnold Santiago, told reporters the authorities were only aware of seven deaths.

Locals said they saw seven bodies being loaded onto a boat at a riverbank in Shariff Saydona, about 900km south of Manila.

MILF spokesman Von al Haq declined to comment.

The peace pact with MILF ended decades of Muslim rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives by government estimates in the Mindanao region, home to the Catholic nation's large Islamic minority.

The MILF was put in charge of a Muslim autonomous region as part of the peace accord, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said ISIS is attempting to set up a South-east Asian stronghold there.

Hundreds of pro-ISIS gunmen seized the city of Marawi in May 2017, sparking a five-month battle that left more than 1,000 dead.

Full report at:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/7-ex-muslim-rebels-killed-in-philippines-by-pro-isis-group

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Tense atmosphere dims hopes for US-China deal

October 8, 2019

WASHINGTON: Prospects for progress in US-China trade talks dimmed on Monday after Washington blacklisted Chinese companies over Beijing’s treatment of predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, and President Donald Trump said a quick trade deal was unlikely. The move by the US Commerce Department could deepen divisions between Washington and Beijing at a critical juncture in their 15-month trade war that has roiled financial markets and triggered a slowdown in the global economy.

Another flashpoint has been a widening controversy over a tweet from a US National Basketball Association (NBA) official. His backing of Hong Kong democracy protests was rebuked by NBA, sparking a backlash.

Trump and his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, spoke in generally upbeat terms about this week’s discussions with China, the first such high-level talks in more than two months, but Trump insisted he would not be satisfied with a partial deal.

“We think there’s a chance we could do something very substantial,” Trump said, referring to minister-level talks scheduled for the end of the week.

“I would much prefer a big deal and I think that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Pressed to elaborate on the chances of progress this week, Trump sounded more sceptical.

“Can something happen? I guess, maybe. Who knows. But I think it’s probably unlikely,” he said.

He also said he hoped China found a humane and peaceful resolution to the protests in Hong Kong, and warned the situation had the potential to hurt trade talks.

“If anything happened bad, I think that would be a very bad thing for the negotiation. I think politically it would be very tough,” he told reporters at the White House.

Police in Hong Kong have used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons against pro-democracy demonstrators in the former British colony, which has been plunged into its worst political crisis in decades.

Beijing views US support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as interfering with its sovereignty.

First high-level trade talks in months

US and Chinese deputy trade negotiators on Monday launched two days of talks aimed at paving the way for the first minister-level negotiations in months.

The White House officially confirmed that the high-level talks, involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, would begin on Thursday.

China’s commerce ministry said Vice Premier Liu He would travel to Washington for trade talks with the United States on Thursday and Friday.

In a brief statement posted on the ministry’s website, it also said Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, central bank Governor Yi Gang, and the National Development and Reform Commission’s deputy head Ning Jizhe would attend the talks.

The talks are getting underway about a week before US tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods are scheduled to rise to 30% from 25%. Trump has said the tariff increase will take effect on Oct 15 if no progress is made in the negotiations.

The two sides have been at loggerheads over US demands that China improve protections of American intellectual property, end cyber theft and the forced transfer of technology to Chinese firms, curb industrial subsidies and increase US companies’ access to largely closed Chinese markets.

Trump launched a new round of tariffs after the last high-level talks in late July failed to result in agricultural purchases or yield progress on substantive issues.

China quickly responded with tariff increases of its own.

As Monday’s talks got underway, the US Agriculture Department reported more soybean exports to China, the latest in a recent flurry of buying by Beijing.

China has booked deals for about 3.5 million tonnes of US soybeans since early September.

Despite his scepticism about a likely agreement in the short term, Trump lauded what he called Beijing’s “very, very strong” purchases of US agricultural products.

Kudlow told reporters the White House had formed a “study group” to examine investment issues, but said the idea of delisting Chinese firms, reported by Reuters and other media outlets last month, was “not on the table.”

Trade blacklist

Beijing had no immediate response on Monday to the Commerce Department’s addition of 28 Chinese public security bureaus and companies to the so-called Entity List, but Chinese officials have railed at previous listings of other Chinese firms such as telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co.

The department filing said the “entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

US officials said the announcement was not tied to this week’s resumption of trade talks with China.

Those listed are barred from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

Meanwhile, China’s state broadcaster dropped the games of the Houston Rockets, and two Chinese corporate sponsors suspended ties, after the US basketball team’s General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted: “Fight for Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong.”

He swiftly deleted the tweet and apologised to fans in China, where the Rockets have a large following.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/business/2019/10/08/tense-atmosphere-dims-hopes-for-us-china-deal/

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More than 16,000 flee unrest in Indonesia's Papua region

October 08, 2019

More than 16,000 scared residents have fled an unrest-hit city in Indonesia's Papua region, the military said on Monday, as one of the deadliest eruptions of violence in years sparked calls for an independent investigation.

Several dozen people were killed when violence broke out in Wamena city last month, with some victims burned alive when buildings were ablaze, and others stabbed in the chaos, according to authorities.

Since mid-August, Papua has been hit by waves of mass protests and violence fuelled by racism against indigenous Papuans by Indonesians from other parts of the archipelago, as well as calls for self-rule in the impoverished region.

The majority of Papuans are Christian and ethnic Melanesian with few cultural ties to the rest of Muslim-majority Indonesia.

On Monday, the air force said about 11,400 people - mostly migrants - had been evacuated on board military aircraft.

Several thousand more have left on board commercial aircraft since late September, it added.

Also on Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an inquiry into 33 deaths during the Wamena riots to be led by the Southeast Asian country's National Commission on Human Rights.

"The Indonesian government should also immediately allow the United Nations human rights office unfettered access to [Papua] to investigate the situation," the US-based rights group said in a statement.

'Racist' comments

The violence in Wamena was reportedly sparked by racist comments made by a local teacher towards students, but police have disputed that account.

Since then, thousands of residents - both Papuans and non-Papuans - have been evacuated, as news of looming violence circulates on social media.

However, there were signs that Wamena was returning to normal with many shops and schools reopened - although most students have stayed home - while government offices have also been operating since last week, according to an AFP news agency's reporter.

In August, protests broke out across Papua and in other parts of the country after the arrest, racial abuse and tear-gassing of dozens of Papuan students, in the city of Surabaya.

Migrants have become an influential minority in Papua, moving there from other parts of the country in pursuit of opportunities in the mineral-rich region - home to the world's biggest gold mine.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/16000-flee-unrest-indonesia-papua-region-191007100152636.html

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North America

 

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar files for divorce from husband

8 October 2019

US Rep. Ilhan Omar has filed for divorce from her husband, citing an “irretrievable breakdown” of her marriage.

The freshman Democrat filed for divorce from Ahmed Hirsi on Friday in Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court. Omar and Hirsi have been legally married since 2018 but have been together for years.

The petition, which Omar signed Friday while in Burkina Faso, does not elaborate on what caused the marriage to break down. It comes more than a month after a Washington, D.C., woman accused Omar of having an affair with her husband.

When Omar was asked at the time whether she was separated from her husband or dating someone, she told WCCO-TV, “No, I am not.” She has since declined to discuss her personal life.

Omar’s attorney, Jaime Driggs, issued a statement Monday saying: “As with all marriages, this is intensely personal and a difficult time for their family. For years, Ilhan and Ahmed have been the object of speculation and innuendo from political opponents and the media.”

Driggs said this has taken a toll on the family, and that Omar wished for privacy and would have no further comment.

When asked specifically whether Omar had an affair, Driggs did not answer but referred back to his statement. Omar’s office said it would only discuss official matters.

The court case does not list an attorney for Hirsi. A working phone number for Hirsi was not immediately available and he did not return emailed requests for comment.

Omar has been dogged by questions about her personal life since she first ran for state representative in 2016, with some conservatives alleging she was married to two men at once and that one of them was her brother - claims she called “disgusting lies.” The claim that Omar married her brother was repeated by President Donald Trump, who has made Omar a frequent target of attacks on Twitter and in public, including at a rally in which he said Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back” to their home countries. All four women are US citizens, and Omar is the only one who wasn’t born in the US.

Aside from a period of separation during which Omar was married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, Omar has been with Hirsi for years and she says he is the father of her three children.

Marriage license and divorce records show Omar legally married Hirsi last year after her divorce from Elmi was finalized.

Beth Mynett, the Washington woman who filed for a divorce in August, claimed Omar had an affair with her husband, Tim Mynett, who has worked as a political consultant for Omar.

In his own court papers, Tim Mynett denied his wife’s assertion that he told her he was in love with Omar and that he was ending his marriage for the congresswoman. Mynett and his attorney did not immediately reply to messages left Monday by the AP.

Omar’s divorce petition was first reported by TMZ.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/10/08/Minnesota-Rep-Ilhan-Omar-files-for-divorce-from-husband.html

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US Senator Graham slams Trump for allowing Turkey to invade Syria

Oct 7, 2019

Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham has blasted the administration of President Donald Trump for its decision to allow Turkey to invade northern Syria and potentially wipe out US-backed Kurdish fighters.

In a Twitter message on Monday, the senator from South Carolina criticized the maneuver as "a disaster in the making" in a rare public break with the Republican president.

“I don’t know all the details regarding President Trump’s decision in northern Syria, [but] if press reports are accurate, this is a disaster in the making,” Graham wrote on Twitter.

Graham, a vocal defender of Trump and frequent adviser on matters of foreign policy, claimed the White House move would ensure a “comeback” of the Daesh terror group, force the Kurds “to align with” Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran, damage the relationship between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and Congress, and become “a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.”

Graham also tweeted that if this plan goes forward, he would introduce Senate resolution opposing the move and asking for reversal of this decision.

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also slammed Trump's decision to withdraw US forces from Syria.

"We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back," Haley tweeted.

In a statement on Sunday, the White House announced Turkey's planned invasion of northern Syria that seemed to indicate at least tacit American support.

The decision came after a phone conversation between Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House statement said.

The White House said US troops would withdraw from the border between Turkey and Syria and wouldn’t be involved in the offensive.

On Monday, Erdogan spoke of imminent army operations against Kurdish militants in Syria.

"There is a phrase that we always say: we can come any night without warning. It is absolutely out of the question for us to further tolerate the threats from these terrorist groups," Erdogan told reporters.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/07/608092/US-Senator-Lindsey-Graham-Trump-Turkey-Syria

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Trump abandons US-backed Syria Kurdish militants, says 'too costly' to back them

Oct 7, 2019

US President Donald Trump, doubling down on his decision to pull out American troops from northern Syria, has withdrawn Washington’s “costly” support from long-time Kurdish allies purportedly fighting Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the region.

Trump defended his administration’s decision in a series of tweets on Monday and said it was time to remove the United States from “ridiculous endless wars” after the White House announced that American forces would be pulled from northern Syria amid an impending Turkish military operation there.

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Trump tweeted, adding, “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.”

Trump once again claimed that “100%” of Daesh has been defeated since he took office.

“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate,” he said, using an acronym for the Takfiri terrorist outfit.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate,.....

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Noting that after withdrawal of the US forces from Syria's north other parties involved in the country's years-long conflict must now decide on which course of action to take, Trump said in another tweet, "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for long threatened that his country's military is ready to launch an operation against US-backed Kurdish militants in Syria at any moment.

On Monday, Erdogan spoke of imminent army preparations against Kurdish militants in Syria, saying, "We can come any night without warning. It is absolutely out of the question for us to further tolerate the threats from these terrorist groups."

After a phone conversation between Trump and Erdogan, the White House said Ankara would "soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria," and that US forces would "no longer be in the immediate area."

The US has long been providing the militants of the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) with arms, calling them a key partner in the purported fight against Daesh. Many observers, however, see the support as part Washington's plans to carve out a foothold in the Arab country.

That support has also angered Washington’s NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been waging a war inside Turkey for decades.

Turkey said it was ready to carry out an air and ground operation to push back YPG militants from border areas after a deadline to jointly establish a so-called safe zone with the US passed.

On August 7, Turkey and the US reached an agreement on the establishment of a joint operation center in northern Syria after Ankara threatened to launch an operation against YPG militants and push them away from the Turkish border.

Turkey seeks to establish a 32-kilometer “safe zone” in northern Syria, and has stressed that it wants the YPG cleared from the region.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/07/608091/US-Donald-Trump-American-troops-Syria-Kurdish-YPG-Daesh

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Peaceful Muslim Community In Mexico: Over 5,500 Villagers Embrace Islam since 1989

October 07, 2019

At least 5,500 native Mexicans have converted to Islam since 1989 in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. It is cause for tremendous excitement at a time when Islamophobia is on the rise and Muslims are exposed to falsely associated with terror groups.

The number of Muslims in Mexico has been growing exponentially over the last decade as more Mexicans embrace the religion and its message of peace and coexistence.

The arrival of Muslim immigrants from Lebanon, Syria and even Spanish Sufi Muslims has contributed to spreading the message of Islam throughout Mexico, according to The Muslim Vibe.

One of the most unique Muslim urban centers was established in a village of southern Chiapas, the heartland of the indigenous Mayan people who identify as Roman Catholic. A growing number of indigenous Mexicans have converted to Islam in this village located around San Cristobal de las Casas, which identify as indigenous Tzotzil community.

The word ‘’Tzotzil’’ reportedly means ‘’people of the bat’’ in the native Tzotzil language. With a population of less than 300,000, the Tzotzil community represent one of the last remaining strongholds of descendants from the ancient Mayan empire of Central America.

Muslims there have been blending their indigenous ways of life with the customs required by Islam, including the traditional Mayan scarf for women and prayer caps or kufis for men. ‘’I want to speak my language, I want to put on the indigenous dress, but I also want to believe in Allah’’ a Muslim member told the The Muslim Vibe.

Islam in Mexico has been largely adopted by native Mexicans because it highlights the most beautiful aspects of Mexican culture and morality. ‘’People gave us weird looks when we converted, they thought we were terrorists and were scared of us. But with the passage of time and our own actions, that opinion has changed’’ another Muslim member said.

Full report at:

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/peacefulmuslim-community-in-mexico-over-5500-villagers-embrace-islam-3502389

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Obama aligned with PKK terror group, not Kurds: Expert

Vakkas Doğantekin 

07.10.2019

The U.S. partnered with the terror group PKK and not the Kurds, Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute Michael Doran said Monday.

Tweeting hours after a White House statement late Sunday declaring the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, Doran said the former administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has sown the seeds of a conflict between Turkey and the PKK terror group in northern Syria.

"We aligned under Obama not with ‘the Kurds,' but with the PKK, the sworn enemy of the Turkish Republic, our ally. We were sowing the seeds of a Turkish-PKK war with that policy. We were also driving Turkey toward Russia," Doran said on Twitter. His tweet was later retweeted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump reiterated his administration's commitment to withdraw troops from Syria on Monday, following a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart a day earlier.

"The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight," Trump tweeted early in the morning.

The U.S. president then said the Kurds, referring to YPG terror group in Syria, "were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to" fight with the U.S., in an apparent criticism of the policies of former U.S. administrations.

"They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home," Trump added.

Doran, who served in the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush as a senior director in the National Security Council, also criticized Senator Lindsey Graham who has voiced concern for Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria.

He said Graham needs Turkey and Saudi Arabia if he wants to contain the threat to the region emanating from Iran.

Another political analyst at the U.S.-based think tank Heritage Foundation, Luke Coffey, warned Americans of the YPG threat and said he is not "comfortable arming and training a Marxist group with links to terrorism."

"Regarding US troops in Syria it is alarming how little debate there was in America about supporting the YPG. Call me old fashion, but I’m not comfortable arming and training a Marxist group with links to terrorism. I’m sure most Americans would feel same way too if they knew," Coffey tweeted Monday.

He added that the Americans should welcome Turkey's steps to eliminate legitimate security concerns along its long border with Syria.

"We should welcome Turkey taking steps to secure its border. US can’t do it forever. They have legitimate security concerns," he said and informed Americans about the real nature of the YPG.

"Also, the YPG is a neo-Marxist group that serves as Syrian branch of the PKK (designated a terrorist group by US Govt). So please spare me the tears," he said.

In the heat of Trump's withdrawal announcement during the day, U.K.-based political analyst Kyle Orton has slammed Nikki Haley, former U.S. envoy to the UN, for siding with the terror group over a NATO ally.

"Nikki Haley might also explain at some point how she proposes to run an international order where terrorists the US aligned with for contingent reasons become ‘allies’, and states that the US is bound by treaty to defend with nuclear weaponry if necessary become ‘not our friend,’” Orton said on Twitter.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/obama-aligned-with-pkk-terror-group-not-kurds-expert/1605149

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Pakistan

 

Fazal Ur Rehman- Fighting for Islam or Islamabad?

Bushra Zafar

October 7, 2019

Politics in Pakistan like many other third world countries something directly but often indirectly shaped by externalities set by international players. Right-wing forces have been instrumental in Pakistan while setting national priorities including economy and foreign policies. Since the beginning of the Afghanistan war, the role of religious elements has never been marginalized. Though the collapse of the World Trade Centre was an epic event yet the Islamic right-wing forces remained a force to be reckoned with.

The spread of Islamic ideology imperceptibly created the genesis of nationalist feelings in the western world. The seething surge of such nationalistic thoughts impacted the electoral results in many developed countries including France, England or even USA. Initially, it was construed as an inward shift and a protest against globalization.

Many countries in Asia including Pakistan failed to comprehend the direction of the wind. Pakistan continued to be a safe haven for outfits engaged in terrorist activities. These outfits remained financially independent due to regular financial support from their financiers and non-state players.

New political regimes in the western world, conservative in policies became wary of these militant and religious bands construing those as a threat to their existence. Financial embargo becomes the new strategy to disrupting the designs of Islamic militant groups.

To buttress the strategy, the rise of right-wing forces in non-Muslim states was supported as a policy of containment. The drift of international events has adequately substantiated the notion of acceptable non-Muslim right-wing as compared to Islamic militancy. As a third step, the task of mainstreaming seminaries (madrasah) through systemic change was superimposed without much fluttering.

The religious leaders in the country who thrived on foreign as well as local funding and well-established seminaries network have felt under siege. With them, retaliation is the choice to assert their existence.

Maulana Fazal ur Rehman has announced a display of strength by locking down of capital. He is a crook and a clergy cum politician whose sole objective is to stay with the reigning side. At the juncture, he is aware of the odds in a political context to launch such offense against the sitting political government who is padded with the support of establishment forces.

Opposition parties are divided and fighting for their political survival. Under the circumstances, any external support for the march towards the capital remains an elusive hope.

Pakistan though embroiled in economic instability has treaded cautiously by detaching itself from homegrown religious groups. It’s an opportunity for the country and the real masters to get rid of religious elements who exploit under the political cloak. Let Fazal ur Rehman march to capital without any hurdle created by the state. Under the changed world and changed national priorities, he with his aides is doomed to fizzle out.

Bushara Zafar is a Lahore based teacher and a social activist. She can be reached at zbushi@hotmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

https://www.globalvillagespace.com/fazal-ur-rehman-fighting-for-islam-or-islamabad/

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Imran Khan raises Kashmir issue during meeting with US Senators

Oct 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that the international community should raise its voice for the rights of the Kashmiri people.

He made the remarks during a meeting with US Senators Chris Van Hollen and Margaret C Hassan, who called on the prime minister in Islamabad.

"It was critical for the international community to raise its voice for respect of the rights and freedoms of the people" of Jammu and Kashmir, Khan said as he appreciated the continued active interest of the US Congress, including of the two Senators, in the volatile situation in the region.

Khan told the Senators that talks with India were out of question in the ongoing situation in Kashmir, Geo TV reported.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian high commissioner following the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5.

Khan also noted that both Pakistan and the US had a shared interest in advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Reiterating Pakistan's commitment to a political solution in Afghanistan, Khan underlined the importance of resumption of the US-Taliban peace talks.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-khan-raises-kashmir-issue-during-meeting-with-us-senators/articleshow/71482198.cms

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UK govt report finds no evidence Pakistan supporting Khalistanis

Murtaza Ali Shah

October 8, 2019

LONDON: A report published by British government funded Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) says that many Sikhs feel angered by claims made by India's government of growing British and Canadian Sikh terrorism and that “Khalistani” movement has the backing of Pakistan - without any evidence.

The report for the UK government’s independent adviser on extremism found that Sikhs are angry that campaigns to highlight human rights abuses are labeled “Khalistani terrorism” with accusations they are Pakistani funded - without evidence ever presented publicly by the Indian government.

Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, and Sunny Hundal, journalist and writer has written the report titled “The Changing Nature of Activism among Sikhs in the UK”.

The report, based on research and interviews, found that tensions between Sikhs and Hindus in Britain were rising and were set to get worse and that Sikhs are becoming more assertive about their faith identity while playing a bigger role in wider society. The report analysed in detail why more Sikhs in the West demand an independent homeland for Sikhs – called Khalistan – and why the Indian government sees it through the lens of terrorism and extremism. It said that the Indian govt overlooks the fact that a significant portion of Sikhs came to Britain and Canada in the 80s to escape Indian government persecution and are attracted to this idea of ethno-nationalism.

The paper said: “It is hard to say how many Sikhs in Britain want an independent homeland, as there is little solid polling on the question, but it is certainly true that the events of 1984 in Amritsar and New Delhi, and subsequent events over the years have super-charged demands for Khalistan.”

Most participants of the survey agreed that Sikhs want a seperate homeland because of the injustice they have faced and continue to face. They rejected claims by Indian government of extremism and the funding of terrorism.

The report said: “The theme of injustice was a common thread in responses. Many of our respondents said most Sikhs saw Khalistan as an abstract concept; a proxy for anger over events from 1984 and the treatment of Sikhs in India as second-class citizens. Some respondents who did not support Khalistan said the idea also remained popular because of the actions of the Indian government towards diaspora Sikhs. In recent years, the Indian government has repeatedly accused diaspora Sikhs of turning towards extremism and funding terrorism in India.”

The report analysed whether allegations that Muslim men have targeted Sikh women for grooming were right and found that while there have been tensions in communities but there was no evidence to back up the claim.

Said the report: “There is some evidence that Sikh women have been victims of sexual grooming by gangs of men, some of primarily Pakistani-heritage. However, most of our respondents felt these claims are being exaggerated to serve other agendas.”

The report found that there is a simmering discontent towards India amongst Sikh diaspora because of Narendra Modi’s nationalist agenda and rise of Hindutva.

It said attitudes towards India had improved while Manmohan Singh, a turban-wearing Sikh, was Prime Minister of India from 2004 - 2014. It mentioned that relations between Sikhs and India started deteriorating when India arrested and detained British Sikh activist Jagtar Singh Johal.

The report discussed how, last year, the New York-based group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) mobilised between t10 to 30 thousand Sikhs around Trafalgar Square to promote a Referendum on Punjab’s independence in 2020. “Indian officials claimed the group were a Pakistani plot, but its members have denied such claims. We believe India’s claim that diaspora Sikhs are funding terrorism in India deserves more questioning and public evidence. In a report published in 2017, Dr Jasjit Singh concluded that Sikhs in Britain did not pose a security threat to western countries, and the information on British Sikhs funding terror groups in India remained “unclear”,” it said.

The report recommended that Sikhs be allowed to debate the merits of a Sikh homeland without being reflexively labelled as “extremist” or “terrorism” supporters.

Most of the respondents felt the narrative of the Indian government and Indian media was also strengthening the hand of advocates of separatism.

The report said: “There were also concerns that some British Hindu groups have firmly tied themselves to the BJP-Hindutva project, which has the potential to worsen Sikh - Hindu relations.”

Sara Khan, the head of the Commission for Countering Extremism, said: “The papers on Islamism and Sikh activism bring to life the many issues we have heard through our evidence gathering and engagement. They include clear examples of the democratic debate we must protect but also the hateful extremism we must recognise and challenge.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/538314-uk-govt-report-finds-no-evidence-pakistan-supporting-khalistanis

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PM, COAS to meet Chinese leadership on Oct 8-9: FO

October 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa will visit China from October 8 to 9, 2019 and hold meetings with the Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

A number of agreements/MoUs are expected to be signed at a ceremony to be witnessed by the two prime ministers, a foreign office statement issued here on Monday said.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will separately host banquets in honour of the Prime Minister Khan, said the statement.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including the foreign minister, minister for railways, minister for planning, development and reform, adviser to prime minister on commerce, special assistant to prime minister on petroleum, Board of Investment (BOI) chairman and senior officials.

The Chief of Army Staff will join the prime minister’s meetings with Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping, the statement mentioned.

The visit of the prime minister was in continuation of the long-established tradition of the leadership of the two countries meeting regularly and consulting closely on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The prime minister will exchange views on regional developments including the state of peace and security in South Asia arising from the situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, it added.

The visit will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s economic, investment and strategic ties with China.

Among other things, the prime minister will apprise the Chinese leadership of the government’s recent landmark decisions to speed-up implementation of the ongoing CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor).

According to a foreign office statement, there will be interaction with senior representatives of the Chinese business and corporate sector as well for deepening bilateral trade, commercial and investment partnership.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/537913-pm-coas-to-meet-chinese-leadership-on-oct-8-9-fo

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Pakistan's Islamists Threaten to Topple 'Jewish Agent' Imran Khan - for Meeting George Soros

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid 

Oct 07, 2019

In a much anticipated press conference on Saturday, Fazlur Rehman, the leader of the Islamist political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, declared "war" on Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government, announcing a march on the capital Islamabad on October 27.

Rehman's party spearheads last year's merger of five Islamist parties into the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), dedicating it to the "true Islamization" of Pakistan and the establishment of shariah law.

Rehman leads Pakistan's opposition parties’ coordinated challenge to the government, accusing the PTI of winning power on the back of massive vote-rigging in last year’s general elections. The opposition demands Khan’s resignation.

In Saturday’s presser, Rehman predictably focused on the prime minister’s electoral illegitimacy, and the government’s struggling economic policies, he also unleashed what has long been his most frequently played card against Imran Khan: Anti-Semitism.

This time, his long-time accusations had a new twist: Imran Khan is a "Jewish agent" under the influence of the prime bogeyman of Western anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists from the far right to the far left: George Soros.

Khan met Soros on September 23 in New York ahead of addressing the UN General Assembly last month.

Rehman reiterated his allegations that the Pakistani premier was a "Jewish agent." In the press conference, the JUI-F chief noted:

"By meeting that infamous Jew, [Imran Khan] has made it clear that [his government] doesn’t want to bring reforms in religious education. They want to make Pakistan's educational system subservient to the West."

skip - Tweet from supporters of Fazal-ur-Rehman's Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Party

JUI Media Services

@juimediaservice

Replying to @faisalch827 @FIA_Pakistan

No place here in Pakistan for jew and qadyani agents we have made promise to fight against jew and qadyani lobby till the last drop of blood.#مولانا_تیری_جرات_کو_سلام

1

3:33 AM - Jul 30, 2019

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See JUI Media Services's other Tweets

Tweet from supporters of Fazal-ur-Rehman's Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Party

The meeting immediately attracted a lot of media attention in Pakistan. BBC Urdu did a piece on the meeting that walked through every country in which he and his Open Society Foundation is "accused of being part of a larger global conspiracy," from Erdogan's Turkey to Orban's Hungary to American white supremacist shooters (the piece itself strangely flagged Soros as a "billionaire Jew" in its introduction).

That was a trigger for Pakistan's Urdu press to publish a flurry of features and op-eds questioning the real reasons for the meeting.

Despite the conspiratory talk, the meeting was openly reported by the national state broadcaster, Radio Pakistan. Pakistan's UN ambassador tweeted a photo of the meeting, as did George's son, Alexander Soros. That suggested a pushback by Imran Khan's government, effectively declaring his willingness to openly embrace working with George Soros.

skip - Alexander Soros tweet

Alexander Soros, PhD

@AlexanderSoros

Interesting meeting last night with the charismatic Prime Minister of Pakistan @ImranKhanPTI! #UNGA #UNGA74 #UNGA2019

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11:01 PM - Sep 26, 2019 • New York, NY

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This was reaffirmed when government spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan defended Khan’s meeting with Soros on national television.

When Saleem Safi, a veteran journalist, asked Awan on his popular show Jirga why Imran Khan met the "Jewish missionary" who is "notorious in the entire world as a conspirator," she replied:

"This is not true. Every individual can be a lobbyist, and meetings are organized based on realities on the ground…we can’t own and disown [people] based on religion."

That staunch defense of potentially working with Soros, and the refusal (in this case, at least) to echo anti-Semitic slurs, suggests that Khan's government is indeed set to reverse its own ban on the Open Society Foundations in Pakistan, which it initiated in December 2017, apparently part of the state’s general crackdown on civil society organizations that were insufficiently patriotic.

No specific rationale was ever offered for closing the Soros-funded foundation, but it was met with little surprise at the time: Pakistani politicians always deemed "foreign conspirators" and Jews synonymous, and any differentiation has generally been considered superfluous.

skip - Muppalla tweet

Muppalla

@VMuppi

 • Sep 28, 2019

Jews are in control of Pakistan

Imran Khan is agent of globalist Jews/Israelis ruling Islamic Pakistan. Neither his meeting Soros nor his request of mediation from POTUS is one off thing. Look at these connections: @ptiofficial @mysticintel  @rehamkhan1 1/n #JewishTakeOverOfPak

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Muppalla

@VMuppi

@ImranKhanPTI is in deep relation with his first wife Jemima Khan (Goldsmith) who is daughter of Sir James Goldsmith. Here is the pictorial graphic (a picture is better than 1000 words):@ptiofficial @mysticintel  @rehamkhan1 @CallSignMujahid  @iamyasif

2/n #JewishTakeOverOfPak

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11:53 PM - Sep 28, 2019

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But Khan now needs the Soros foundations' expertise.  At the New York meeting, it was agreed that the Open Society Foundations would visit Pakistan. The government needs help to enact its much publicized educational reforms, including a revamp of the country's 30,000 autonomous madrassas, which Khan wants to bring under state control.

The aim is to defang madrassahs as a key recruitment pool of radicalized youngsters for violent Islamist militants, and to introduce modern-day teaching methods and a syllabus supervised by the Ministry of Education. As a government spokesman stated: "An Islamic education will continue to be provided but there will be no hate speech."

It is this planned mainstreaming of madrassas, announced in April, that fired up Fazlur Rehman to protest the Imran Khan government to begin with. And now the Khan government is seeking Soros' help to make it happen.

Those Islamist seminaries are critical for Rehman's party. They are the source of its political base and all of its considerable street power. State control of the madrassas would result in radically reduced political relevance for him, his party and the broader Islamist coalition.

Faced with this existential threat, and the Soros foundations' potential role in educational reforms, Rehman and Pakistani Islamist groups were spurred to adopt the anti-Semitic Soros trope, which has never properly featured in the Islamist playbook.

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پاکستـــــZindabadـــان 🇵🇰 🇹🇷

@PakistanMGC

Imran Khan meets George Soros, who is a huge capitalist illuminati jew behind most of the anti Muslim campaigns of the world. He is ranked at number 6th most powerful illuminati Zionist of the world https://m.ranker.com/list/top-50-illuminati-from-most-to-least-powerful/illuminatibloodline …

As received 👆

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Rehman's march to the Pakistani capital also functions as a wink to the country’s all-powerful military establishment.

The Pakistan Army, which propped up the PTI’s rise to power, and Khan's ascension to the premiership, appears to still be backing his government. But a vocal, mass demonstration in the capital is Rehman's message to the military that they should consider the JUI-F in future plans, should the establishment consider another upheaval in Islamabad.

Imran Khan knows that as long as the military has his back, he has little to fear from any mass demonstrations. Having himself led an opposition protest in 2014, when he camped inside the capital for four whole months, Khan knows that no protest rallies of that scale take place in Pakistan without the army's support or at least acquiescence – and if they're sufficiently concerned, they can withhold that permission at any time.

12 months ago, the protest launched by the radical Islamist Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in Lahore was mopped up by state authorities, and its leadership arrested, just a year after the same group had held the capital hostage for weeks during the rule of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The League has been at loggerheads with the military establishment.

Khan’s seemingly unapologetic endorsement of George Soros, and the Open Society Foundations working in Pakistan, must have been founded on complete confidence that he has the Army on his side.

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Aisha Ali

@aishalii786

#ImranKhan is puppet of wealthy #Jews political lobby for #Pakistan!!! https://www.facebook.com/JannatePakistan/posts/1104910826283617:0 … @SniperExPmln @expmln #NawazTheLeaderOfLions

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Khan knows that he has to act on the madrassas, and fast. There is now global pressure on Pakistan to end the Islamist seminaries' role as ideological breeding grounds for terror groups. The threat of blacklisting by the global counter-terror watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is looming.

Pakistan’s multi-pronged economic crisis means that the country can ill-afford the sanctions that would arise from that blacklisting, nor can it be over-selective in terms of who offers it aid for many of its deprived sectors. The contingencies of economic distress may well be another motivation for Khan's lack of reluctance in re-inviting the Open Society Foundations to Pakistan.

But that simmering economic crisis is also fueling growing discontent among the masses against the ruling party. And Fazlur Rehman is ready and able to tap into their resentment, supercharging the Islamist camp's attack on Imran Khan's legitimacy with ever more poisonous anti-Semitic narratives, in order to regain political mileage – and even initiate a change at the helm of Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-jewish-agent-pakistan-s-islamists-try-to-topple-imran-khan-for-meeting-soros-1.7950468

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Turkey to rebuild 118-year-old mosque in Pakistan

Islamuddin Sajid  

07.10.2019

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Turkish Red Crescent on Monday laid the foundation stone for restoring a 118-year-old historical mosque in northeastern Pakistan.

The Hazarat Ibrahim Mosque is located at a village named Hokran Chak in Jhang district of Punjab province.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony, Huseyin Can, general secretary of Turkish Red Crescent, said it was a great honor to restore a historical mosque in a brotherly Muslim country.

"Turkish nation has not forgotten the friendship of Muslims of the sub-continent," he said, referring to their assistance in the Turkish War of Independence.

Turkey has always stood behind their Pakistani brothers and sisters in difficult times of flood and earthquake, he added.

The mosque was built by local people in 1901.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/culture/turkey-to-rebuild-118-year-old-mosque-in-pakistan/1605216

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President Alvi promulgates ordinance for establishment of CPEC Authority

October 08, 2019

President Dr Arif Alvi has promulgated an ordinance for the establishment of the 'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA)', Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday.

As per the report, it is aimed at "accelerating the pace of CPEC-related activities, find new drives of growth, unlock the potential of interlinked production network and global value chains through regional and global connectivity".

In August, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the government was forming CPECA to ensure the timely completion of the corridor's projects. He had said that CPECA would help ensure coordination among the departments concerned.

"The completion of CPEC will not only benefit Pakistan and China, but also the entire region," the premier had said, adding that the timely completion of CPEC projects was the top-most priority of the government and CPEC is a clear example of joint efforts and partnership between Pakistan and China.

The president's promulgation of the ordinance for establishing CPECA coincides with Prime Minister Imran's visit to Beijing which will include talks on the progress of CPEC.

Some officials and observers have said momentum on CPEC projects is slowing, in part due to concerns over the size of Pakistan’s debt and struggling economy, which led Islamabad to turn to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package in July.

However, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtiar at a news conference on Sunday denied there had been any slowdown in CPEC projects.

Read: New projects offered to China as part of CPEC: minister

"(There’s) a narrative being built up that they have become slow; I reject it, it’s totally wrong," he said.

The minister said: "There will be meaningful engagement on all aspects of Pakistan-China relations during the visit", expressing the hope that it would take CPEC cooperation to new heights so that benefits of Pakistan’s economic progress could reach the people at the earliest.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509705/president-alvi-promulgates-ordinance-for-establishment-of-cpec-authority

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Former French officials on trial over kickback deals with Pakistan

October 08, 2019

PARIS: Three top former French government aides went on trial on Monday charged with arranging a system of kickbacks on arms deals with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.

The trial is the first to arise out of a sprawling investigation into the so-called Karachi affair where a bus carrying French defence engineers was blown up in 2002, killing 15 people.

Al Qaeda was initially suspected of the attack, but the focus later shifted to the arms deals amid suspicions the bombing may have been revenge for non-payment of promised bribes.

A total of six people went on trial in a Paris criminal court on Monday on suspicion of misappropriating part of the proceeds from the arms deals. They included three former government aides who served under conservative ex-prime minister Edouard Balladur.

Balladur, 90, was himself last week ordered to stand trial over claims that he used some of the kickbacks to fund his failed 1995 presidential bid.

The three aides are Nicolas Bazire, Balladur’s former campaign manager; Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, a former adviser to his defence minister Francois Leotard; and Thierry Gaubert, a former aide to then budget minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Also accused are Dominique Castellan, a former head of the international division of French naval defence contractor DCN (since renamed Naval Group), and two Lebanese middlemen who allegedly acted as go-betweens for the bribes and kickbacks -- Ziad Takieddine and Abdul Rahman El-Assir.

El-Assir was not present at the start of the trial.

Chirac ended arms bribes Paying bribes on arms deals was common practice when Balladur’s government won contracts to sell submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Saudi Arabia in 1994.

Earning kickbacks on the deals was banned, however.

Investigators suspect the French of having paid some 327 million euros ($359 million) in bribes on the deals, including some 13 million euros in kickbacks.

After defeating Balladur for the presidency in 1995, Chirac ended the payment of all remaining commissions on the deals.

Balladur has denied knowledge of any commissions or kickbacks and said he was not responsible for the “details” of the financing of his presidential campaign.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1509625/former-french-officials-on-trial-over-kickback-deals-with-pakistan

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JUI-F denies issuing ‘instructions’ on sodomy during ‘Azadi March’

October 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Monday denied the authenticity of three documents which circulated on social media earlier in the day, hinting that the party was endorsing homosexuality in its upcoming Azadi March.

The first document was a notice allegedly issued by the party, outlining 10 instructions the participants of the march. The sixth point stated that no participant should engage in homosexuality without prior approval from their regional leaders.

“The participants will completely refrain from engaging in sodomy without the permission of their emir [leader]. The violators of this instruction would be thrown out of the sit-in and their belongings will be seized,” the notice said.

The second document was an alleged application form for those who wish to seek permission to engage in sodomy during the Azadi March. The alleged application form asks for particulars of the individuals along with prior history of homosexual experiences.

The third document, the authenticity of which was denied by Islamabad district commissioner (DC) in a tweet, was a notice issued to the authorities and religious bodies on the basis of above-mentioned document, stating that since homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, nobody would be allowed to engage in this act.

“Homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam and hence cannot be tolerated in any form, whether in a political gathering or during private meetings,” the notice read.

“Islamabad City Police have received several complaints from the citizens in which they expressed their concerns over a possible massive wave of homosexuality in Islamabad after a political gathering planned on October 27,” the notice added.

“It is hereby announced that the city officials will enforce Pakistan’s law and the regulations set out in Islam and the workers of the political party are advised to retain from such sinful deeds during their gathering,” the notice concluded.

The Islamabad DC also said that a First Information Report (FIR) was being registered against the issuance of the fake notice.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah “cursed” those who had prepared these “fake” documents. He claimed that some elements were running a malicious campaign against his party to slander the upcoming Azadi March.

“The same elements behind the country’s economic destruction are running this malicious campaign,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/07/juif-denies-endorsing-homosexuality-during-azadi-march/

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Mideast

 

Iran waives entry visas to Iraqis for two months

7 October 2019

Iran waives entry visas to Iraqis for two months starting from October 24, according to the official IRNA news agency.

IRNA reported that a statement issued by Iran’s embassy in Iraq said that “Iraqi nationals can travel to Iran without requiring a visa from October 24 until December 27.”

“The embassy hoped that such moves will lead to expansion of ties between the two neighboring countries,” IRNA reported citing the embassy statement.

Iran urged its citizens planning to take part in a major Shia pilgrimage in Iraq to delay their travel into the country over the violence.

Last week, Iran shut the Khosravi border crossing with Iraq at the request of Iraqi authorities as country-wide protests raged. The post was later reopened on Monday morning and Iranians were making their way towards holy shrines in Iraq, an official said in a report by ISNA news agency.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/Iran-waives-entry-visas-to-Iraqis-for-two-months.html

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Israel Should Focus More On Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Than On Hezbollah’s Missiles

By Ehud Eilam 

October 6, 2019

Asenior Israeli official recently said that Israel’s top priorities are to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon and to thwart Hezbollah’s precision missile project.

Those are the biggest security challenges Israel faces but there is a huge difference between them. An Iranian nuclear attack might annihilate Israel and cause hundreds of thousands of casualties. Hezbollah’s precision missiles present a major problem, but on a much smaller scale than the nuclear one. The gap between the two issues is so vast that it requires putting each one of them in its own category.

Iran has been taking steps to breach the agreement about its nuclear program, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in July 2015. If Iran actually tries to produce a nuclear weapon, then Israel must stop it, almost at any cost. Iran with a nuclear arsenal will be an existential threat to Israel.

Therefore Israel must focus on that, at the expense of other major issues, such as Hezbollah’s precision missile project. Israel should not neglect, let alone underestimate, Hezbollah’s missiles but it is much less of a danger compared with Iran’s nuclear project. Nevertheless it often seems that Israel concentrates too much on Hezbollah’s missiles, instead of zeroing in on Iran’s nuclear project.

Israel should prevent Hezbollah from producing accurate missiles in large quantities but it does not necessarily mean that Israel has to go to war over it. Such a war will cost Hezbollah dearly but that’s no comfort for Israel which would likely also pay a significant price.

In the past, Israel tolerated the fact that its sworn enemies had a formidable military, without going to war over it. This had been the case with Syria since the 1980s, until more recently, when the Syrian armed forces lost much of their strength during the civil war in their country. Hezbollah, already at kind of a low point following its many casualties in Syria and economic hardships, might become even more vulnerable in the future. That’s why Israel might be able to avoid a conflict with them.   

In the worst case, if Hezbollah manages to produce and deploy its accurate missiles en mass, it doesn’t mean the group will fire them. Their purpose, together with the rest of Hezbollah’s arsenal, is to deter Israel from bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. Yet, considering the Iranian nuclear threat, it might be worthwhile for Israel to risk attacking in Iran. Israel could still deter Hezbollah from striking or it could launch a massive surprise offensive against Hezbollah, at the same time it bombs Iran.

In the 2006 war, the IDF destroyed Hezbollah’s long range missiles before they could be used. It will be difficult, but not impossible, to do the same with Hezbollah’s accurate missiles. In addition, part of those missiles that will be launched will be intercepted by Israel’s air defense that will protect the country’s most vital infrastructure, both civilian and military. Although some of those sites would be hit, they could be fortified in advance, which would reduce the damage. There should also be alternative facilities to produce vitally needed electricity. Israel also has to be ready to repair and rebuild key infrastructure points as fast as possible.

The last war between Israel and Hezbollah was in 2006. In the ensuing 13 years, both sides have been preparing their forces for another round. Destroying Hezbollah’s accurate missiles will be a top mission for the IDF, but Hezbollah’s unguided missiles and rockets are a problem too. Hezbollah had about 30,000 rockets in 2006. Now it holds up to 150,000 rockets and missiles.  During a war, Hezbollah might fire 1,500 of those projectiles per day. This kind of firepower will hurt Israel but Hezbollah can’t destroy Israel, not even a small part of it. An Iranian nuclear weapon can do that.

Currently, neither Israel nor Hezbollah wants war, but  the situation could escalate at any time. Nevertheless, Israel has to be careful not to be entangled in an unnecessary war. If Israel concludes it has no choice but to attack, it has to be done in the optimal terms for Israel in the military and diplomatic levels. 

The 2006 war went on for 34 days. The next one might be shorter. Israel will try to end the war quickly in order to reduce the cost to its people. Israel’s leadership will have to make decisions quite quickly, while under pressure. Yet it will pale in comparison to the scenario Israel would face during a war with Iran, when the latter has nuclear weapons that might reach Israel in a matter of minutes.

Full report at:

https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israel-should-focus-more-on-Irans-nuclear-weapons-than-on-Hezbollahs-missiles-603796

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Iran says Chinese state oil firm has withdrawn from $5bn deal

October 08, 2019

China's state oil company pulled out of a $5bn deal to develop a portion of Iran's massive offshore natural gas field, the Islamic Republic's oil minister said.

The South Pars field deal, struck in the wake of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, appears to be just the latest business casualty of the United States' pressure campaign on Tehran following President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal of the US from the deal.

It also comes as China and the US engage in their own trade war, as Beijing and Washington levy billions of dollars of tariffs on each other's goods.

Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, quoted by the ministry's SHANA news agency, said on Sunday the China National Petroleum Corp was "no longer in the project".

He did not elaborate or give any reason for the withdrawal, though SHANA said the company "had pulled out of a contract" to develop the field.

Officials in Beijing did not immediately acknowledge the decision. Phone calls to the CNPC rang unanswered and its website bore no mention of the withdrawal.

'Plenty of problems'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif separately complained on Sunday about the US campaign against Tehran and its impact on foreign investments.

"We have been facing plenty of problems in the field of investment because of the US maximum pressure policy," Zarif told a parliamentary committee, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. "We are trying to remove the problems."

Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz said he believed despite China's departure from the project, "China will remain Iran's main trade partner".

Leilaz said that was because a large portion of past oil revenue from China had remained in the country, enabling Tehran to buy goods it needed from China without transferring money from Iran, thereby evading US sanctions on Iran's banking system.

Iran holds the world's second-largest known reserves of natural gas and the world's fourth-largest oil reserves.

Much of its natural gas comes from its massive South Pars field, which it shares with Qatar. The initial plan for the development of South Pars involved building 20 wells and two wellhead platforms, a project that would have a capacity of 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.

Under terms of the initial deal, France's Total SA was to have a 50.1 percent stake, with CNPC getting 30 percent and the Iranian firm Petropars getting 19.9 percent.

With Total's withdrawal because of US sanctions, CNPC had taken over the French firm's stake. Now Petropars will develop the field alone, Zangeneh said.

Total first pulled out of Iran in 2006 as United Nations sanctions first took hold over fears Iran's atomic programme would be used to build nuclear weapons. Tehran has maintained its programme is only for peaceful purposes.

Flailing nuclear deal

Iran cancelled another CNPC contract in 2012 amid increasing international sanctions that led to the 2015 nuclear deal.

After withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Tehran over a year ago, the US imposed sanctions on Iran that have kept it from selling its oil abroad and have crippled its economy.

Iran has since begun breaking terms of the nuclear deal. In late September, the US sanctioned Chinese shipping firms it said were ferrying Iranian crude oil.

There also have been a series of attacks across the Middle East that the US blames on Iran.

Tensions peaked on September 14 when a missile and drone attack hit Saudi oil installations, causing oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/iran-chinese-state-oil-firm-withdraws-5bn-deal-191006191347427.html

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Al Houthis manipulate women to lay landmines

October 05, 2019

Ramadan Al Sherbini

Cairo: Security authorities in Yemen’s western province of Jawf have said they uncovered several groups of bombers, including women linked to Al Houthi militiamen.

“Security forces have captured a number of cells sent by Al Houthi militias to plant mines and explosives in markets and other gatherings of civilians,” chief of special security forces in Jawf, Col Abdullah Al Barbar, said, according to Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

“They included a women cell who had explosives in their possession,” he added.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused Iran-aligned Al Houthis of indiscriminately laying landmines in civilian areas in war-racked Yemen, resulting in large deaths mainly women and children.

“The expertise gained by Al Houthi militias in manufacturing and hiding explosives has been transferred to them by experts from [Lebanese] Hezbollah group and Iran sent to Yemen to train Al Houthis in killing the Yemeni people,” Col. Al Barbar said.

He added that military engineers in Jawf had managed to remove and defuse many landmines, mostly planted in busy markets and on roads.

Full report at:

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/yemen/al-houthis-manipulate-women-to-lay-landmines-1.66926432

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Israeli Citizen Indicted For Trying To Join Isis, Produce Explosives

October 6, 2019

Aresident of the southern Israeli town of Tel Sheva was indicted on Sunday for attempting to join the ISIS terrorist organization and produce explosives.

Bilal Abu Rakaik, 20, intended to join the terrorist group and travel to Syria because he supported ISIS ideology. In an attempt to identify with the jihadist organization, Rakaik would listen to songs praising ISIS and read posts and news from the group, including about the war the organization was fighting in Syria, Somalia and Iraq, and about terrorist attacks conducted by it in these countries.

The accused bought uniforms similar to those used by ISIS through the Internet, and wore them daily with sandals outside of his house and in the mosque that he attended. He also took pictures in the uniform and published them on Facebook.

Rakaik found an Internet site detailing the requirements for joining ISIS, including the necessity to apply for a passport to exit Israel. In order to fund his trip to Syria, the accused planned on producing explosives and selling them to others. Rakaik looked at multiple websites for information on how to produce explosives and explosive material. He bought hydrogen peroxide, salicylic acid and aluminum foil and attempted to produce the explosive material in his home.

The case is being investigated by the central Israel Police unit in the Negev and by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service).

Full report at:

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israeli-citizen-indicted-for-trying-to-join-ISIS-produce-explosives-603861

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Iran to launch second phase of activities at Arak nuclear reactor: Official

7 October 2019

Iran is set to launch the second phase of activities at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor within three weeks, state news agency IRNA reported citing the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

The official, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that “Iranian scientists could prepare the second phase during the past four years in a way that it will be launched in three weeks.”

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-introduced sanctions on Tehran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/Iran-to-launch-second-phase-of-activities-at-Arak-nuclear-reactor-Official.html

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Iran govt spokesman: Tehran to continue efforts to ease tension with Gulf States

7 October 2019

Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Monday Tehran will continue its efforts to ease tension with Gulf States, Iranian TV reported.

Iran is calling on the Iraqi people to show restraint, he added , after days of unrest in Iraq during which the death toll has passed 100 and more than 6,000 have been wounded.

“Iran will always stand by the Iraqi nation and the Iraqi government. We are calling on them to preserve unity and to show restraint,” the government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a news conference.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Monday that “enemies seek to sow discord” between Iran and Iraq.

“#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together... Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective,” Khamenei said on Twitter.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

#Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together through faith in God & love for #ImamHussain & the progeny of the Prophet (pbut). This bond will grow stronger day by day.

Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective. https://twitter.com/ar_khamenei/status/1180922270535032833 …

الإمام الخامنئي

@ar_khamenei

إيران و #العراق شعبان ترتبط أجسادهما وقلوبهما وأرواحهما بوسيلة الإيمان بالله وبالمحبّة لأهل البيت وللحسين بن علي؛ وسوف يزداد هذا الارتباط وثاقة يوماً بعد يوم. يسعى الأعداء للتفرقة، لكنهم عجزوا ولن يكون لمؤامرتهم أثر.#الحسين_يجمعنا

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https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/Iran-govt-spokesman-Tehran-to-continue-efforts-to-ease-tension-with-Gulf-States.html

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Iran says US coercion putting global trade system in danger

Oct 8, 2019

Iran says the US' illegal sanctions and coercion have jeopardized the international trade system, and the world must break its silence over the "unprecedented threat".

The remarks were made by Iran's deputy ambassador to the UN Es'haq Al-e Habib in an address to a meeting of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly held in New York on Monday.

"One cannot deny the fact that commitment to multilateral cooperation as a basis and foundation for global treaties and agreements is currently under unprecedented and growing pressure," the Iranian diplomat said.

"Sanction-based policies have made multilateral financial and trade system very inefficient, and now it is upon the international community to guarantee that the financing of development is not taken hostage by certain countries through unilateral coercive measures," he added.

"The illegal and illegitimate coercive and unilateral measures of the US, including its unprecedented and unjustifiable sanctions against certain developing countries, Iran in particular, amid the international community's silence have increased in an unprecedented way and threaten the foundations of multilateralism," Al-e Habib said.

Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States since May 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the nuclear deal, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Trump is a stern critic of the deal, which was clinched in 2015 by Iran and six world powers, including the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions put in place against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

In his Monday speech, Al-e Habib also criticized the World Trade Organization for blocking Iran's membership for two decades because of the political pressures of certain member states, saying that unilateral behaviors are currently targeting the WTO, jeopardizing the entire trade system of the world.

Iran, the largest economy not yet member of the WTO, has been requesting to join the Organization since 1995, and was admitted to it as an observer in 2005, but sanctions began to hit Tehran afterwards and certain countries - especially the US - opposed its membership.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/08/608132/Iran-UNGA-US-trade-sanctions-jeopardize-ale-habib

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Iran says Iraq's ongoing developments will have no impact on Arba'een march

Oct 7, 2019

Iran says the ongoing unrest in Iraq will have no impact on ceremonies to commemorate Arba’een, which marks 40 days after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam, stressing that the Iraqi government and nation as well as influential figures will certainly settle the internal issue.

The Iraqi government and nation have so far succeeded in solving many crises with prudence, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in an interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on Monday.

"During the occupation of the country by the American forces and after that, many events took place in Iraq, but the Iraqi government and nation have managed to overcome all these issues through prudence and wisdom [achieved] as a result of consensus among all Iraqi parties and groups as well as political and religious figures," he added.

He advised those who have a covetous eye on the recent spate of unrest in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and some other cities to advance their own interests "not to bother themselves and know that these are internal affairs of Iraq."

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that the Arba'een march would be massively held with the participation of devotees of Imam Hussein from Iran and other parts of the world.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan confirmed for the first time on Sunday that 104 people had been killed, including eight security officers, and more than 6,000 wounded in the country's protests.

The protests began last Tuesday, with demonstrators calling for better living conditions. The rallies soon turned into riots as some protesters started vandalizing public properties and attempted to enter the Green Zone in Baghdad -- which houses government offices and foreign diplomatic missions.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that enemies have been struggling to drive a wedge between the Iranian and Iraqi nations but have failed as the two neighbors are bound together by commonalities, particularly faith.

“Enemies have been making considerable efforts to sow discord between the two nations, but thank God they have failed and will fail from now on too, because the main factors binding the Iranian and Iraqi nations are their faith in God and love for the household of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and [his grandson and the third Shia Imam] Imam Hussein (AS),” the Leader said.

On Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shia cleric of Iraq, urged security forces and protesters to avoid violence, expressing sorrow over some sporadic unrest that has led to several casualties.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/07/608094/Mousavi-Iran-Iraq-Arbaeen-unrest

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Israeli siege, assaults totally or partially affect 100 percent of Gaza factories

Oct 7, 2019

A Palestinian legislator says 100 percent of factories in the blockaded Gaza Strip has been completely or partially affected by the 14-year-long siege imposed by the Israeli regime on the enclave and successive assaults against the sliver.

Palestinian lawmaker Jamal al-Khudari, who is the head of the Popular Committee against the Siege on Gaza (PCAS), made the remarks in a press release on Monday, saying the occupying regime is deliberately targeting the Palestinian economy, especially the industrial sector.

He said Tel Aviv is still imposing restrictions on the entry of industrial materials into the besieged territory under the pretext of dual use, the Palestine Information Center quoted him as saying.

Khudari, who is originally an academic and businessman, also pointed out that these measures have exacerbated the suffering of factory owners, workers and technicians.

According to the Palestinian legislator, the direct and indirect losses inflicted on Gaza, including on such sectors as industry, commerce, agriculture and business, are estimated to be at $70 million every month.

Khudari also affirmed that 3,500 factories had already shut down in the sliver, whose poverty rate has reached 85 percent and its unemployment rate exceeded 60 percent.

He stressed that removing the blockade is the only solution to end the suffering of Gazans, calling on the international community to exert more effort to pressure Tel Aviv to lift its crippling siege.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since June 2007. It has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

The occupying regime has imposed three major wars against Gaza, killing thousands of people each time and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

The economic situation across Palestinian lands worsened after the US earlier this year cut all its financial aid for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The cuts in the humanitarian aid were soon hitting hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people, especially in Gaza, where 80 percent are dependent on aid.

Palestinians have held weekly rallies along the Gaza fence to protest the siege on the enclave and demand the right for the refugees, who were forced to leave during the 1948 creation of Israel, to return to their homes.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/07/608101/Palestine-Israel-siege-assaults-Gaza-factories

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Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing

October 07, 2019

Israel’s state prosecutors and Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers were wrapping up the pre-indictment hearing over a slew of corruption allegations against the prime minister on Monday.

Netanyahu’s lawyers arrived at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the fourth and final day of the proceedings where they were meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and his team to appeal that the cases against Netanyahu be dropped.

Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases that have dogged the long-serving premier. The hearing is the final step before the attorney general decides whether to issue a formal indictment.

The legal woes come as Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival, with the country’s unprecedented second election of the year failing to provide him with a clear victory. In last month’s election, neither Netanyahu nor his chief challenger, Benny Gantz, secured the required parliamentary majority to form a new government. Both men have expressed support for a unity government as a way out of the deadlock, but they remain far apart on who should lead it and what smaller parties would join them.

Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party have so far rejected a partnership with Netanyahu, citing his legal woes. A failure to reach a deal could trigger a third election in less than a year. Netanyahu is desperate to stay on as prime minister, a post he can use as a pulpit as he tries to fend off any charges. Israeli law requires Cabinet ministers to step down if charged with a crime. But the law is vague for sitting prime ministers, meaning he could theoretically remain in the post if he is indicted, though he would likely face calls to step aside.

The allegations against Netanyahu include suspicions that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565566/middle-east

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Palestinian, 21, wounded during clashes along Gaza border dies from injuries

October 07, 2019

GAZA CITY: A Palestinian wounded by Israeli fire during protests and clashes along the Gaza border in February has died from his injuries, the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said on Monday. Fadi Osama Hijazi, 21, was wounded during clashes east of Jabalia in the north of Gaza, the Health Ministry said.

Palestinians have been gathering for weekly demonstrations at various points along the border of the blockaded territory since March 2018.

At least 311 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began, the majority during the demonstrations and clashes.

Israeli excesses continued as Palestinian Pesident Mahmoud Abbas said he would discuss plans for new parliamentary elections with all factions, including Hamas.

Meeting with senior Palestinian leaders in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Abbas renewed a pledge to hold the polls — the first since 2006 — but without giving a time frame.

He announced they had formed committees to “communicate with the election commission and factions such as Hamas and all factions, as well as with the Israeli authorities.”

He said any elections should take place in “the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since 2007, when Hamas seized Gaza and threw out Abbas’ forces, which retained control of the internationally recognized Palestinian government based in the West Bank. No parliamentary elections have been held since 2006, with the two sides trading blame. Multiple attempts at reconciliation have failed and analysts say new elections are impossible without improved relations. Hamas said in a statement on Saturday it did not “know what Abu Mazen means by general election.” The movement said it had already committed itself to elections. Abbas has previously pledged on multiple occasions to hold elections but without any results.

Meanwhile, Abbas also confirmed the Palestinian Authority (PA) had received on Sunday $1.5 billion shekels ($430 million) from Israel — representing taxes that had been withheld from the Jewish state.

Israel in February decided to withhold around $10 million per month from revenues of some $190 million per month it collects on the behalf of the PA, triggering Abbas’s fury. The money comes from customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports and constitutes more than 50 percent of the PA’s revenues.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565556/middle-east

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Europe

 

France Rocked by Extremist’s Counterterror Role

By Matthew Dalton

Updated Oct. 7, 2019

PARIS—France has been rocked by a security breach that allowed an Islamist extremist to work in the heart of its counterterrorism apparatus for years, before he killed four of his colleagues last week and was then shot dead.

Opposition lawmakers on Monday called for Interior Minister Christophe Castaner to resign over the assault, which snapped the relative lull in terrorist attacks in France in recent months. Mr. Castaner brushed aside the calls.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/france-rocked-by-security-breach-that-saw-extremist-work-in-counterterrorism-11570446866?mod=hp_lead_pos11

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Far right poses as protectors of women to target Muslims, official extremism report finds

October 08, 2019

Far-right activists are exploiting concerns about the safety of women and children to target Muslims and ethnic minorities, an official report has found.

The Commission for Countering Extremism said some groups “deliberately distort the truth to persuade their audience to adopt discriminatory and hateful attitudes”.

The government agency’s first major report, seen exclusively ahead of its release by The Independent, warned that the tactic was drawing in white communities who would not normally support the far right, and worsening social division.

As part of research into all forms of extremism across Britain, the commission examined a series of protests sparked after a woman claimed she was gang raped by Middle Eastern migrants in Sunderland.

The report said prominent far-right figures including Tommy Robinson, Jayda Fransen and former Ukip leadership candidate Anne Marie Waters used rallies in 2016 and 2017 to “spread anti-minority and anti-Muslim agendas”.

“The marchers said they aimed to improve the safety of women and children locally,” the report said.

“However, their rhetoric targeted ethnic minorities, despite nearly 85 per cent of people convicted of sexual offences in 2018 in the Northumbria Police force area being white.”

Robinson started an online petition with more than 100,000 signatures, and funded a large advertising board and legal support for the complainant via online donations.

Emails were sent to Robinson’s supporters calling for them to join angry “justice” demonstrations that drew 1,000-strong crowds, including an email that was screengrabbed by the Finsbury Park terrorist Darren Osborne.

Local councillors said a string of 13 marches in as many months “whipped up anti-minority feeling” and were linked to a series of hate crimes including a violent attack on Asian men, vandalism and racist graffiti in the area.

The Commission for Countering Extremism said: “Many protesters were not motivated by hate; they had concerns about their safety and the safety of those in the community.

“Far-right agitators exploited these local grievances. Members of the movement had links to banned group National Action. The shared belief of these figures and groups was their antipathy towards minorities, immigrants and particularly Muslims.”

A similar pattern has been seen with the use of grooming gangs as a major far-right recruiting tool, which sees extremists characterise the abuse as committed solely by Muslims.

One of the leading organisers of the Sunderland protests, former English Defence League member Billy Charlton, was jailed for 21 months for inciting racial hatred with his speeches.

The 55-year-old repeatedly suggested that all immigrants were rapists, shouting: “These people turn up and are raping our children and we need to hold somebody responsible for it … get them off our kids, get them off our streets, get them off our island.” Robinson also gave speeches at the rallies, where crowd members shouted “f*** Islam”, and broadcast the footage via a Canadian website.

The government report said locals who opposed the demonstrations were abused and intimidated, including a Muslim counter-protester who was labelled a “paedo” and received death threats after his personal details were published online.

The original rape allegations were investigated by police but did not result in any charges, and the alleged victim withdrew her support from the campaign in her name in October 2017.

Two men were later convicted for an unrelated attack in which they raped a woman in their asylum-seeker hostel.

The commission said small-scale protests have continued in Sunderland, including in relation to Brexit and the imprisonment of Robinson for contempt of court, but external far-right influence had been reduced by Sunderland council and police.

Officials held public meetings to counter misinformation and address local concerns about the placement of asylum seekers, while drawing up an agreement to reduce the “volatility” of protests.

Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council, said similar issues had affected “many UK communities”

“Here in Sunderland and the North East we have a long history of welcoming refugees, and of asylum seekers and communities living and working together,” he added.

“But what we have seen in the last few years is a rise in the number of far-right extremist groups from outside of the city, targeting, exploiting and intimidating residents in an attempt to inflame tensions and create divisions where these don’t exist.”

Mr Miller said many local residents “felt intimidated” by the protests and businesses lost trade as people avoided the city centre.

“These far right groups don’t have Sunderland or our residents at heart,” he added. “Their only interest is in serving their own agenda.”

The Commission for Countering Extremism said authorities in Sunderland received no support from central government during the protests, which were amplified by right-wing extremists around the world.

Its report found that, overall, the government’s response to extremism that falls short of terrorism was “slow and unfocused”.

The agency’s nationwide inquiry, launched after the 2017 terror attacks, found authorities were failing to spot local tensions being exploited, not protecting victims, and were failing to “challenge the persistent behaviour of hateful extremists who seek to mainstream their dangerous propaganda”. 

Lead commissioner Sara Khan said “hateful extremism” was allowing people to make the “moral case for violence” while stopping short the threshold for criminal prosecution.

“From inspiring terrorist attacks, to hateful extremist groups engaging in persistent hostility, we are grappling with what is a global challenge,” she added.

“If we are to be successful in reducing the extremist threat in our country, we must focus on challenging hateful extremism. My report shows the destructive effect it is having on the lives of individuals, our communities and wider society.”

Full report at:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/muslims-extremism-women-far-right-tommy-robinson-rape-a9143671.html

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Supporting Muslim Teens in Face of Islamophobia — in Their Own Schools

Farida Jhabvala Romero

October 08, 2019

“This girl told me I was going to hell because I’m Muslim,” said high school senior Sara Shohoud about her first incident of Islamophobia. She was in first grade.

“I didn’t know how to counter it. I was so young,” the 18-year old said. “And now, I just keep quiet.”

The Sunnyvale resident said she regrets staying silent and burying her frustration more recently, as classmates made offensive jokes about Muslims or equated them with being “terrorists.”

“I've been in those situations, and I kind of wish I could relive them because I didn't handle it the best,” she said.

Shohoud decided to enroll in a program to help Muslim youths handle harassment, inform peers about their faith and, in the process, create a more positive school environment. Since the Youth Speakers Training program launched three years ago, the nonprofit Islamic Networks Group now offers it in California and seven other states.

As anti-Muslim sentiment has grown in the U.S., data show Muslim kids experience bullying and harassment at a higher rate than other students.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports 53% of Muslim school-aged children in California said they have been “made fun of, verbally insulted or abused.” Nationally, 42% of Muslim children reported being bullied, according to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 19% of all high school students say they have been bullied at school.

At a recent training session at the Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose, Shohoud and about two dozen teens sat in folding chairs, sometimes fidgeting with plastic water bottles, as they opened up about bearing the brunt of “9/11 jokes” or being insulted for their religion.

“Some of the kids who were becoming freshmen (this year) at this school were throwing the terms Muslim and terrorist,” Zayn Zaafran, 12, told the group, adding that he didn’t want to disclose he was Muslim. “I just backed off.”

Schools are reflecting a larger dynamic in America, where incidents of bias and violence against Muslims have increased in recent years, said Dr. Nadia Ansary, an associate professor at Rider University in New Jersey who studies discrimination and bullying of Muslim youth. She points to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies such as the travel ban as contributing to the problem.

Incidents of bias and violence against Muslims in the U.S. spiked in 2017, with 2,599 reports of violence, harassment and discrimination, according to a study by CAIR, which has been tracking the trend since 2014. About one-third of the incidents reported, including employment discrimination and denial of service, were in California.

“What happens in schools is a mirror image of what's happening in society because schools are a part of our community,” said Ansary, adding that bullying puts children at greater risk for anxiety and depression.

During the Islamic Networks Group training in San Jose, students reviewed their rights at school and brainstormed how to respond to potentially thorny scenarios, such as what a Muslim student should do when jokingly asked, “Hey are you planning to bomb the school?”

Some students suggested doing nothing or telling an adult at the school. But Shohoud offered a different strategy.

“A really interesting response would be to ask, ‘What makes you say that?’ So they kind of have to admit that they are being Islamophobic, and nobody really wants to do that,” she said.

Ishaq Pathan, the group's Bay Area director who leads the training, and the other students nodded in agreement.

“Yes, turn it back,” said Pathan, 24. “That’s a great response, because it puts the ball in their court and they have to come to terms with whatever they are saying.”

In general, school districts have a legal obligation to address bullying and protect students. California and other states have taken measures to curb the intensive and often repetitive form of harassment.

This year, the California Department of Education developed anti-bullying guidelines that schools must make available to teachers and other staff members.

But those steps are not enough to fully tackle the magnitude of the problem, said Ansary.

“Everybody has a right to be educated in an environment where they're not abused. Everybody has a right to practice their faith traditions,” she said. “The data suggest that that's not where we are.”

If students intervene to confront bullies, start a conversation to counter negative stereotypes, or nip hurtful language or jokes in the bud, that helps create a better environment for everyone at school, Pathan told the students.

“None of this works if we just turn around and make fun of other people,” said Pathan. “It’s only going to work if we all reduce this thing together.”

As part of the training, students also practice presenting fact-checked materials to their community about the history of Muslims in America and their faith. Those include a list of more than 110 frequently asked questions and answers.

Using all those those components to stem discrimination and empower students is what makes the program unique, said Ansary and Muslim leaders.

After Saman Ali, 17, finished the ING training two years ago, she gave presentations to hundreds of students at her high school about the basics of her religion.

“I wanted to show kids that Muslims are just like anybody else,” said Ali, a senior at Monte Vista High School in Danville.

She said she realized most of her peers didn’t know much about Islam. Classmates asked her if she fasted during Ramadan, why she doesn’t wear a hijab and if she prays five times a day.

“They definitely wanted to know what do you do as a Muslim kid,” she said. “I can understand why they were confused. So I was there to clarify.”

Monte Vista High teacher Jill Seidenverg has repeatedly invited Ali to share her presentation in her AP world history class. Students are often more receptive to learning from a peer, said Seidenverg, and she's seen a positive impact.

“The more you know, the less afraid you are. And the less afraid you are, the less hateful or hurtful you can be as a human,” said Seidenverg, who has taught for 29 years.

The experience also helps the youth speakers gain confidence, as they trade their feelings of being powerless or victimized to ones of realizing they can be agents of change.

Ali said she used to want to transfer to another, more diverse high school. But she felt differently after taking the training and giving her presentations.

Full report at:

https://www.kqed.org/news/11778501/supporting-muslim-teens-in-face-of-islamophobia-in-their-own-schools

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Russia acknowledges Turkey's right to self-security

Ali Cura 

07.10.2019

MOSCOW

Russia on Monday said it acknowledges Turkey’s right to self-security, as Ankara plans to launch an operation east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria.

"We are aware of Turkey's acts to ensure its own security and we accept them," Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

Peskov said his country hopes that Turkey will comply with the precondition of Syria's territorial integrity.

Earlier, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that his country does not have designs on any country’s territory.

"As part of Syria's territorial integrity, the safe zone plan has two purposes, to secure our borders by eliminating terror elements and to ensure the safe return of refugees," Kalin said in a Twitter post.

Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.

Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/russia-acknowledges-turkeys-right-to-self-security/1604922

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Relations with Serbia at best level in history: Erdogan

Talha Ozturk  

07.10.2019

BELGRADE, Serbia

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said relations with Serbia were at the best level in history.

Erdogan's remarks came before his two-day visit to Serbia where he will mark the 140th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Serbia.

Speaking to the Serbian newspaper "Politika", Erdogan evaluated the diplomatic relations, economic and cultural developments between the two countries.

Turkey, "as a part of the Balkans" wants to carry out activities that will contribute to the "welfare and stability" of the region, and to strengthen the relations and cooperation with the region in every field, said Erdogan.

He said: "Serbia has a central and strategic position in the Balkans. We have deep-rooted, historical and cultural ties with Serbia, and we see Serbia as a neighboring country, even though we do not have common borders. Today, our relationship is at its best level. My dear friend Vucic [Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic] has a great role and support in this."

Erdogan pointed out that Turkey's investments in Serbia rose for the last two years.

"I paid a visit to Serbia two years ago, almost on the same dates, which gave momentum to our relations. I will hold the second meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council, which was established during that visit," said Erdogan.

"We will have the opportunity to evaluate what we have done for the last two years and set new targets," he added.

A friendship project to unite the hearts

Erdogan said that he is proud to see that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has implemented development aids in the protection of our common historical and cultural heritage and development in different fields such as health and agriculture.

TIKA contributes to tourism through the restoration of Ram Fortress -- a 15th century Ottoman castle -- in Serbia and the historical monuments in Kalemegdan, he added.

"We also lay the foundation of the Belgrade-Sarajevo Highway, which we consider as a friendship project of great importance for the region," said Erdogan adding that Turkey attaches "great importance to the realization of this project".

"We see it not only as a project that will strengthen the relations but also as a friendship project that will contribute to regional peace and unite the hearts. I do not doubt that we will take our cooperation with the strong political will to the next level, and we attach great importance to the preservation of peace and stability throughout the Balkans.

Turkey supports "Serbia's economic development efforts and the EU accession process," that if prosperity and peace continues in Serbia, this will have positive repercussions for the whole region, he added.

"Serbia plays a crucial role in maintaining regional peace and the development of the region. I get a chance to see this, even more, every time I visit Belgrade," said Erdogan.

Referring to the economic development between the two countries, Erdogan said that together with Vucic they have encouraged Turkish businessmen and investors to expand their business in Serbia.

Turkish investments provide employment for 8,000 people in Serbia

Erdogan pointed out that Turkish investments in Serbia has risen from only $1 million in 2011 to $200 million in 2018 and provided employment for approximately 8,000 people in the country.

"Our companies have investments in Serbia in many sectors such as textile and garment, automotive supplier industry, machinery, banking, tourism. The number of Turkish companies operating in Serbia was around 130 in 2015, and it has already exceeded 800," said Erdogan.

Kosovo-Serbia relations

Erdogan urged the continuation of the dialogue process of Belgrade-Pristina for reaching a permanent and comprehensive agreement.

"An agreement on the Kosovo issue that satisfies all parties, is vital for the long-term stability and peace in the Balkans of where Turkey is also a part," he said.

Turkey supports "the attainment of a lasting and comprehensive agreement based on the free will and consensus of the parties," said Erdogan.

He said: "We are ready to do our best to solve the problem and to accept a mutual agreement between the two countries.

"Relations between Turkey and Serbia are based on mutual understanding and respect. We are conducting a multi-layered cooperation that serves the interests of our countries. Our countries have mature foreign policy traditions that can turn different perspectives into areas of cooperation."

Turkey's policy towards region is clear

Referring to Turkey's policy for the region, Erdogan said that the country's policy towards the Balkans is not on a religious basis.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/relations-with-serbia-at-best-level-in-history-erdogan/1604852

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President Erdogan's Syria operation offers Turkey 'what it wants'

Andrew Wilks

Oct 7, 2019

Turkey’s plans for an assault on Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria, enabled by the withdrawal of US forces from the border, stem from domestic unease over a large refugee population as well as legitimate security concerns, according to analysts.

The 3.6 million Syrians living in Turkey have increasingly become a political football while the country faces economic uncertainty.

As talk of an incursion into Syria to clear out Kurdish militants that Ankara considers to be terrorists intensified last week, government officials revealed plans to resettle two million refugees in a 30 kilometre “safe zone” on the Syrian side, stretching from the Euphrates river to the Iraq frontier.

During the course of the civil war, Turkey has been firmly opposed to the Kurdish enclave that encompasses a third of Syrian territory, declaring it an existential threat.

The region was carved out by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a four-decade war against the Turkish state that saw tens of thousands killed.

Kamal Alam, a London-based military analyst specialising in Syria and Turkey, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faced growing pressure to resolve the refugee issue.

“There are a number of domestic factors that have brought this about — the refugee crisis and the economic situation that has turned people against refugees,” he told The National. “They needed to move ahead.”

Selim Sazak, research director at Ankara consultancy TUM Strategy, said an incursion would play well with Mr Erdogan’s nationalist allies as well as the wider Turkish public.

“One of the nationalists’ primary issues is to deny a Kurdish microstate on the border,” he said. “Unless you’re a Kurdish nationalist or a secular leftist ally of the Kurds, everyone in Turkey’s going to be delighted with this.

“It will make Erdogan immensely popular because Turkey’s got what it wants.”

The operation would likely prove to be “the final nail in the coffin of a YPG-controlled microstate in northern Syria,” he added.

For Ali Bakeer, an Ankara-based political analyst, the US decision was the “logical outcome".

He said: “The Americans had to choose between sticking with the Kurds and having a confrontation with a Nato ally or dropping their support for the YPG.”

The US retreat is seen by some observers as an abandonment of the Kurdish allies who led the ground campaign of the last four years to remove ISIS from Syria.

Previously, the presence of US soldiers was a deterrent to a Turkish assault. “The US presence was a factor in delaying the operation and there’s been a painful back and forth between DC and Ankara,” said Dr Alam.

“Turkey would not want to be hitting US troops and Ankara’s finally convinced the US to step aside.”

On Saturday, Mr Erdogan told a gathering of ruling party officials that preparations for an incursion had been completed and suggested it would be called Operation Source of Peace.

The potential operation would be the third large-scale Turkish incursion into northern Syria. In August 2016 it launched Euphrates Shield in northern Aleppo province against the YPG and ISIS. Operation Olive Branch in March last year saw Turkish troops and allied militias take the northwestern Kurdish district of Afrin.

Ankara also has soldiers in Idlib, where they are manning observation posts to enforce a nominal ceasefire between rebels and government forces.

A third campaign could see Turkey control territory along most of its 900km border with Syria.

However, it could face stiff opposition from the YPG and conflict with Syrian government forces, Dr Alam said.

“Turkey has the air power and more powerful artillery but moving into urban areas will be difficult,” he said. “It could be a full-on pitched battle and the YPG has the capability to bog down the Turkish military, as the PKK’s done for decades in Turkey.

“For it to be a success, it has to be a swift operation to take territory quickly and resettle Syrian refugees.”

He added: “We could see a mutual interest develop between the Kurds and the Syrian government against Turkey. There’s the potential for them to work against Turkey militarily.”

Any operation will be helped by the removal of YPG border defences as US and Turkish troops began joint patrols on the Syrian side last month, as well as intelligence gathered during joint air missions.

The announcement from Washington came after a telephone call between Mr Erdogan and US President Donald Trump, who in December pledged to withdraw most US troops from Syria as he sought to end US entanglement in foreign military missions.

“Trump made a promise to withdraw US troops and now there’s an election coming this is an easy chance to deliver a campaign promise,” Mr Sazak said, adding the move could see Mr Trump become “more popular than Kennedy” in Turkey.

There are concerns about what will happen to thousands of ISIS militants held in Kurdish prisons, including around 2,500 foreign fighters, for whom Turkey will now take responsibility.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/president-erdogan-s-syria-operation-offers-turkey-what-it-wants-1.920669

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Arab World

 

Syria camp is at risk of falling under ISIS control, Kurdish general says

By Liz Sly

Oct. 5, 2019

BEIRUT — America’s Syrian Kurdish allies are at risk of losing control of the vast camp where the families of the Islamic State’s defeated fighters are being detained as militant women increasingly assert their dominance over the camp, according to the top Kurdish military commander.

Guards at the al-Hol camp in eastern Syria are failing to contain the increasingly violent behavior of some of the residents, and the flimsy perimeter is at risk of being breached unless the international community steps in with more assistance, said the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Gen. Mazloum Kobane, who uses a nom de guerre and is known simply as Mazloum.

“There is a serious risk in al-Hol. Right now, our people are able to guard it. But because we lack resources, Daesh are regrouping and reorganizing in the camp,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “We can’t control them 100 percent, and the situation is grave.”

The al-Hol camp houses around 70,000 people, most of them women and children who were displaced by the war against the Islamic State. A majority of those are ordinary civilians caught up in the fighting who have no relationship to the militants, and more than half are children.

But as many as 30,000 are Islamic State loyalists, including the most die-hard radicals who chose to remain in the group’s self-declared caliphate until the final battle for the village of Baghouz this year, Mazloum said in a telephone interview from his headquarters in the Syrian province of Hasakah.

Around 10,000 of those are foreigners from more than 40 countries who made the journey to join the Islamic State in Syria, and they are among the most fiercely committed extremists, according to camp officials.

Tensions in the camp have risen sharply since Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered an audio address last month urging his followers to “tear down the walls” of the camps and prisons housing detainees to free them, SDF officials say. The women have set up their own Islamic State-style sharia courts and are inflicting physical punishments on ordinary camp residents who reject their ideology.

One of the SDF’s foremost wishes is for governments to alleviate some of the burden on the SDF by repatriating their citizens, Mazloum said. But most governments are refusing to take them back.

The Kurdish administration also needs help with funding to secure, feed and house the detainees, he said. The town-size camp, sprawled across a remote stretch of desert near the Iraqi border, is surrounded only by a rusty, sagging chain-link fence. Floodlights — paid for by the Kurds — to detect breakouts at night were smashed almost immediately by women throwing rocks, Mazloum said. The guards have no night-vision equipment, and the few closed-circuit TV cameras are useless after sunset.

Smugglers sympathetic to the Islamic State lurk in the desert nearby and close in under cover of darkness and help women and children clamber across the fence.

Mazloum said he believed all of those who have escaped in that way were foreigners, and all were subsequently recaptured. SDF officials concede, however, that it is possible some have managed to get away, and could make their way back to their home countries undetected.

An incident this week heightened fears that the camp is slipping out of control. Guards attempting to intervene to prevent Russian Islamic State women from administering beatings against two women who had failed to obey their rules were confronted by stone-throwing women, two of whom pulled guns, according to the officials. The guards opened fire in the air, according to Mazloum, but aid workers reported that four women were injured by gunshots and the SDF said one woman died.

Compounding the problem are dismal living conditions. Food is scarce, water supplies are contaminated and disease is rife. With winter approaching, the misery will only increase, heightening discontent in the camp and perhaps turning more residents against the SDF, said Mazloum, citing the urgent need for more humanitarian assistance as well.

The U.S. military shares the SDF’s concerns, said Col. Myles B. Caggins lll, a U.S. military spokesman speaking from Baghdad. Although large numbers of the camp’s residents are not Islamic State supporters, “without an international solution, the next generation of ISIS combatants may emerge from al-Hol,” he said.

The SDF forces are meanwhile stretched thin across their vast territory, amounting to a third of Syria, by the effort to suppress revived Islamic State activity elsewhere, by continuing threats from Turkey and fears that it plans to invade the northern part of the area, and by the need to defend against possible incursions from the Syrian government to the south.

“All this is preventing us from focusing on the camp,” Mazloum said. “If we can remove these challenges, we can manage.”

But, he added, that would require a political settlement to the overall Syrian war, “which will take a very long time.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/militant-women-poised-to-take-control-of-isis-camp-syrian-kurdish-general-says/2019/10/04/72985c18-e5ff-11e9-b0a6-3d03721b85ef_story.html

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Organization of Islamic Cooperation intensifies efforts to protect heritage

October 08, 2019

JEDDAH: Discussions were held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Islamic Cooperation Organization (ICO) in Jeddah to establish a platform to preserve cultural heritage. The platform aims to preserve the heritage and monuments of the Muslim world.

The Secretary-General of the ICO Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen stressed that the project is a confirmation of the organization’s unwavering commitment to promote joint Islamic work in the field of heritage conservation.

“It also translates the organization’s desire to catch up with the international community in its increasing efforts to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of member states, as a living witness to the richness and diversity of the Muslim world,” he said.

He added that safeguarding Arab heritage adds a cultural dimension to development policies and promotes cohesion between national cultural policies and international cooperation programs.

Ismail Al-Hammadi, director of the physical heritage department at the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, said the platform would contribute to empowering the pillars of culture, which in turn would strengthen the economies of the organization’s countries.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565631/saudi-arabia

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High hopes as Hariri seeks UAE cash for ailing economy, Emiratis can now travel to Lebanon

October 07, 2019

ABU DHABI: Lebanon hopes the UAE will inject cash into its central bank to help shore up the ailing economy, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said on Monday on a visit to the emirates in which leaders sought a deal behind closed doors.

Abu Dhabi is hosting a conference at which heavily indebted Lebanon is seeking partnerships and investments in food, infrastructure, oil and gas, and renewable energy.

The UAE economy minister said financing for Lebanon would be discussed, while one of Hariri’s advisers said the mood was “positive” — though no formal announcements had been made by late Monday.

However, the UAE announced its citizens would be allowed to travel to Lebanon starting from Tuesday (October 8), according to an Emirates News Agency statement released on Monday.

Faced with one of the world’s highest debt burdens, low growth and crumbling infrastructure, Hariri’s government has vowed to implement long-delayed reforms. It is also seeking to curb a sharp loss of confidence among foreign investors and among depositors who are turning away from the Lebanese pound.

Asked on the conference sidelines whether Lebanon will see a cash injection for its central bank, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri told Reuters: “We are working on everything,” adding: “Yes we are hoping, we will work on it.”

Financial markets have tightened significantly this year, raising the costs for Lebanon of borrowing and insuring against default. But hopes for a deal boosted dollar-denominated bonds on Monday, which remain down some 15% this year.

The central bank has been drawing down its foreign exchange reserves to repay the state’s maturing dollar-denominated debt, and said last week it was prepared to do more.

Central bank governor Riad Salameh, also attending the conference, said the bank was continuing to provide dollars to local financial markets, adding that Lebanon has “numerous possibilities” as it looks for assistance but it expects support from the UAE. Lebanon’s traditionally high reserves of foreign currency have been in decline because capital inflows into its banking system from Lebanese abroad have been slowing.

An adviser to Hariri, Ghattas Khoury, told Reuters the mood at the conference was positive and that there would be a meeting between the Lebanese premier and UAE authorities later on Monday.

Beirut, which has debt-to-GDP ratio, hopes its Gulf allies or regional sovereign wealth funds will offer support but no public pledges have so far been made.

UAE economy minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri told reporters his government believes Lebanon’s investment climate is becoming more “settled.”

He made no financing commitments, but said any financing would “be discussed with the government and they’ll make the right decision.”

Lebanon is preparing to sell a Eurobond of around $2 billion this month, with cash raised earmarked for refinancing maturing debts and shoring up shaky public finances.

On Oct. 1, Moody’s put Lebanon’s Caa1 credit rating under review for downgrade, saying anticipated external financial assistance had not yet been forthcoming.

Ratings agency Fitch downgraded Lebanon to CCC in August, citing debt servicing concerns.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1565476/middle-east

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U.S.-backed Syrian force warns of 'all-out war' in response to any Turkish attack

OCTOBER 5, 2019

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Saturday it would “not hesitate to turn any unprovoked (Turkish) attack into an all-out war” to defend its region in northeast Syria.

President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey will carry out an air and ground military operation, as soon as Saturday or Sunday, targeting the SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates river in Syria.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-turkey-sdf/us-backed-syrian-force-warns-of-all-out-war-in-response-to-any-turkish-attack-idUSKCN1WK07A

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Nine jihadists killed in Russia strikes on Idlib: monitor

05/10/2019

Nine jihadists were killed Saturday in Russian airstrikes on Syria's war-torn province of Idlib, a monitoring group said.

"Russian strikes this morning targeted the Hurras al-Deen group and Ansar al-Tahwid in eastern Idlib... killing nine jihadists," said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding eight others were wounded.

Six of the dead were members of the Al-Qaeda linked Hurras al-Deen, a group which is also targeted by the US-led coalition.

Moscow is a key ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war, and despite an Idlib ceasefire deal reached on August 31, the province has continued to be targeted by Russian air attacks.

Russia-backed regime fighters have for weeks been chipping away at the edges of the province bordering Turkey that is the last jihadist stronghold outside of Assad's control.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham -- a group led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate -- extended its administrative control over the whole of Idlib in January, but other rebel factions remain present.

In late August, clashes between anti-government fighters and regime forces left more than 50 dead on both sides, when the jihadists attacked loyalist positions in the south.

Last month, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution backed by 12 of the 15 member states that called for a ceasefire in Idlib province.

It was Russia's 13th veto of a UN resolution since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, highlighting the Security Council's impasse over the issue.

Full report at:

https://www.france24.com/en/20191005-nine-jihadists-killed-in-russia-strikes-on-idlib-monitor

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Russian Army Reinforces in Aleppo to Block Ankara’s Possible Attacks

Oct 07, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted local sources in Tal Rafat city as saying that the Russian troops have increased their patrols over the past two days in a region located between the town of Shirawa and Deir Jamal towards Kashta’ar in the surroundings of Tal Rafat.

The sources noted that the intensified patrolling by the Russian troops in the region is carried out with the aim of reinstating ceasefire in Tal Rafat and after the Turkish Army’s artillery attacks on the surrounding areas of Tal Rafat from the areas under their control.

The English-language Al-Masdar News Website, meantime, reported that after Ankara’s recent threat to launch military operations in Northern and Eastern Syria, the Russian Army has increased the number of its troops in Tal Rafat.

Al-Masdar also said that the presence of the Russian troops is aimed at blocking the Turkish Army’s possible attack on the region.

Turkey is deploying reinforcements to the Syrian border following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement of a looming military operation against the US-backed Kurdish militants.

Military convoys have been captured in dozens of photos and videos, confirming the Turkish leader’s claim that preparations have been finalized to establish a so-called ‘safe zone’ on Syrian soil along the Turkish border and that the operation could be launched “as soon as today or tomorrow”.

Additional armored vehicles and troops have been sent to the border town of Akcakale, across from Tal Abyad in Syria, state television TRT confirmed.

Multiple videos shared on Twitter show dozens of military vehicles and buses, allegedly full of military personnel, moving towards the border in convoys.

Helicopters are also increasingly ‘active’ in the border area airspace, according to some reports.

Ankara and Washington agreed earlier in August to create a ‘peace corridor’ to facilitate the return of displaced Syrians into northern Syria – until Turkey realized that joint “land and air patrols with US were a fairytale”.

Erdogan even openly suggested that Washington was after a safe zone “not for Turkey but for the terrorist group”.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980715000603

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Kurdish Militias Dispatch Massive Troops, Military Equipment to Borders with Turkey After Ankara's Recent Threats

Oct 07, 2019

The sources said that hundreds of Kurdish militias together with their military hardware and equipment have been sent to an area stretching from Ra'as al-Ain to Tal Abyaz and Kobani along borders with Turkey.

They also pointed to the reinforcing of military positions by the SDF in the towns of al-Advanieh, al-Moshirefeh, Zazoueh and al-Tavilah near Ra'as al-Ain in Hasaka and Tal Abyaz in Northern Raqqa near the border with Turkey, and said that the SDF has declared a state of full alert.

The Xeber news website, affiliated to the Kurdish militias, reported that the US fighter jets have been flying over Tal Abyaz, Solouk and Ain Issa close to the border with Turkey in Hasaka as the US Army military patrols have also been seen.

Meantime, President Erdogan warned that Turkey will conduct airstrikes and ground operations against Kurdish militias in Eastern Euphrates soon.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, President Erdogan said that "Turkey is ready for an operation East of the Euphrates River in Northern Syria to clear the region of terrorists".

Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's 29th Consultation and Assessment meeting in Kizilcahaman, a retreat town of capital Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey aims to establish peace East of the Euphrates River by purging the Syrian region from terrorists, Anadolu news agency reported.

"We have completed our preparations and action plan, the necessary instructions were given. It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for [our] peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started. We will carry out a ground and air operation," Erdogan noted.

"Our aim is, I underline it, to shower East of Euphrates with peace," he added.

Turkey has long complained about the threat of terrorists coming from East of the Euphrates in Northern Syria, which neighbors its Southern border, vowing to take a military action to prevent formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.

Turkey made all kinds of warning to the related parties of the issue on establishing a safe zone in Northern Syria, Erdogan said.

"We have been patient enough. Land patrols, air patrols [carried out with the US for safe zone], we see that all were a tale," the president added.

The US and Turkish troops carried out their first joint ground patrol for the zone on September 9.

While Turkey welcomes the joint patrols, it has also announced that the US is not doing enough to set up the safe zone properly.

On August 7, Turkish and US military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in Northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.

Turkey has long championed the idea of terrorist-free safe zones in Syria. It has stressed ridding the area of the terrorist YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, as well as resettling Syrian migrants currently sheltered in Turkey.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980714001179

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Iraq reopens central Green Zone in Baghdad after situation ‘stabilized’

8 October 2019

Iraq has reopened the central Green Zone in Baghdad, two days after temporarily sealing it off and suspending internet services, the Iraqi News Agency reported on Tuesday.

Citing their correspondent, the news agency reported that the fortified Green Zone opened after the “situation stabilized and life returned to normal.”

They added that the move came after the success of negotiations between the prime minister’s office and demonstrators, where the government is working toward meeting the protesters’ demands.

The fortified Green Zone houses government buildings and foreign embassies in the Iraqi capital.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/08/Iraq-reopens-central-Green-Zone-in-Baghdad.html

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UAE to lift Lebanon travel ban from Tuesday

7 October 2019

The United Arab Emirates will lift a ban on its citizens travelling to Lebanon from Tuesday, UAE state news agency WAM said on Monday, as a Lebanese delegation visits Abu Dhabi seeking support for its ailing economy.

Last February, Saudi Arabia said it was lifting its own advice to citizens not to travel to Lebanon, where Gulf tourism was once a mainstay of the economy.

Earlier on Monday, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan received Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri where he stressed his country’s support to Lebanon on “different levels.”

“The Crown Prince stressed during the meeting that the UAE ... is keen on supporting its relationships with Lebanon on different levels, and stands by it in all that preserves its security and stability, and fulfills the aspirations of its people for development,” WAM reported.

Hariri said on Monday during his visit to Abu Dhabi that Lebanon hopes the United Arab Emirates will inject cash into its central bank to help shore up the ailing economy.

Abu Dhabi is hosting a conference at which heavily indebted Lebanon is seeking partnerships and investments in food, infrastructure, oil and gas, and renewable energy.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/UAE-will-allow-its-citizens-to-travel-to-Lebanon-from-tomorrow.html

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Protests in Iraq’s city of Najaf halt after agreement between govt, protestors

7 October 2019

Protests in Iraq’s city of Najaf halted on Monday after an agreement between the government and demonstrators was reached.

Iraqi President Barham Ahmed Salih stressed on Monday the need for security officials to comply with orders which prohibit live ammunition being used against demonstrators.

On Sunday, authorities said there were small protests that dispersed without violent outbreaks in Diwaniya and in the holy city of Najaf.

“Security forces did all they could to preserve the safety of the protesters and security personnel,” Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan said. “We express our deep regret over the bloodshed.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/07/Protests-in-Iraq-s-city-of-Najaf-halt-after-agreement-between-govt-protestors.html

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South Asia

 

Taliban Militants Kill Six Afghan Police At Remote Checkpoint Northeast Of Kabul

October 05, 2019

Taliban fighters have killed six Afghan police officers at a checkpoint in the province of Kapisa to the northeast of Kabul, Afghan officials say.

According to provincial councilors Mohammad Hussain Sanjani and Mohammd Mahfooz Safi, three police officers were also wounded during the Taliban's overnight attack in the remote Nejrab district.

They said the Taliban had established a presence in part of Nejrab district and occasionally attack checkpoints there.

Meanwhile, the police chief for Zareh district in the northern Balkh Province died on the evening of October 4 from injuries he sustained in a recent Taliban attack.

The attacks came as Taliban negotiators announced that they met in Islamabad with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, for the first time since President Donald Trump in September called the peace process "dead."

https://www.rferl.org/a/taliban-militants-kill-six-afghan-police-at-remote-checkpoint-northeast-of-kabul/30200758.html

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Bangladesh student killing: Thousands protest demanding justice

by Faisal Mahmud

October 08, 2019

Dhaka, Bangladesh - Thousands of university students on Monday staged protests in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka and Rajshahi city after an undergraduate student was allegedly killed by activists of Chhatra League - the student wing of the ruling Awami League party.

Abrar Fahad, 21 - a student at the prestigious Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology (BUET) - was allegedly killed over his Facebook post critical of Bangladesh's recent water-sharing agreement with India.

On Saturday, Dhaka and New Delhi signed several agreements, including allowing India to withdraw 1.82 cusec (185,532 litres per hour) of water from Feni river during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India.

Dhaka and New Delhi have for decades struggled to ink a deal on sharing river waters. A controversial agreement on sharing water of Ganga river has long been seen in Bangladesh as a treaty which favours India.

"He was killed because of some of his Facebook posts. That is insane," one of Abrar's classmates, who preferred to be unnamed, told Al Jazeera.

"The goons of Chhatra League killed him. We want justice," he said.

Barkat Ullah, 57, Fahad's father said: "My son was just an innocent student. He had his own strong opinions and he was killed for that."

Fahad's cousin Abu Talha Rasel, 31, said it "was pretty evident who had killed Fahad".

Several classmates of Fahad and the residential students of Sher-e-Bangla hall, who spoke to Al Jazeera, have pointed fingers of blame at Chhatra League activists for Fahad's killing.

According to an autopsy report by doctors at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Fahad died of "internal bleeding and excessive pain" as he was badly beaten up by blunt objects such as cricket stumps or bamboo sticks.

Protests were also organised in Rajshahi city where students blocked major roads. Teachers are also believed to have joined some of the protests.

Ruling party activists detained

At least nine BUET students have been detained, some of them belonging to the ruling party, in connection with the murder.

Earlier, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Abdul Baten told reporters that they had taken students into custody after they were identified based on security camera footage.

Police has not yet revealed the motive behind the murder that has caused public outrage.

The Chhatra League activists interrogated Fahad over his alleged involvement with Chhatra Shibir - the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamist party - which has political ties with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Ashikul Islam Bitu, assistant secretary of the BUET unit of Chhatra League admitted that Fahad was picked up from his room by the ruling party activists on suspicion that he was a Shibir activist.

BUET's residential physician Dr Mashuk Elahi told reporters that students of the Sher-e-Bangla hall called him at about 3am. "I went to the hall and saw the body near the stairs. By then he was dead. There were injury marks all over his body."

Awami League party General Secretary Obaidul Quader said "the law would take its own course" in a damage control exercise.

"Investigation is on. Legal action will be taken against those who will be found responsible in the investigation," he said replying to a query from reporters over the incident.

Opposition condemns

The main opposition BNP condemned the murder and said the ruling party members have "stained their hands with blood".

"It seems to me that we are living in a death valley," BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said in a statement.

In recent months, Prime Minister Hasina, who is also the president of the Awami League, had cracked down on Chhatra League activities over allegations of corruption, violence and extortion.

Last month, Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and Golam Rabbani were sacked from their posts of Chhatra League president and general secretary respectively after allegations of extortion.

Asif Nazrul, professor of law at Dhaka University said: "Who gave the right to Chhatra League to interrogate another fellow student for his involvement with Shibir or posting anti-government Facebook statuses?"

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/191007174829064.html

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Afghan Special Forces kill 18 Taliban militants in Ghazni province

08 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 18 Taliban militants during the operations in South-eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.

According to a statement released by Special Operations, the Afghan Special Forces conducted the operations in Kamal Khel, Gawada Khel Bala and Payeen Villages of Andar district.

The statement further added that the Special Forces killed 18 Taliban militants, wounded 3 others and arrested 3 suspected militants during the raid.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-special-forces-kill-18-taliban-militants-in-ghazni-province-04197/

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Afghan and U.S. forces kill one of the most senior commanders of Taliban Red Unit

07 Oct 2019

The Afghan and U.S. forces killed one of the most senior commanders of the Red Unit of Taliban in Nangarhar province.

According to a statement released by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan and U.S. forces coordinated an airstrike which killed Mawlavi Edris alias Abu Yousuf, the commander of the Red Unit of Taliban for Ghazni province.

The statement further added that Edris was one of the most prominent commanders of the Red Unit of Taliban who was playing a major role in planning and coordinating suicide attacks and explosions as well as deploying suicide bombers to Kabul.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-and-u-s-forces-kill-one-of-the-most-senior-commanders-of-taliban-red-unit-04196/

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10 civilians including a child killed, 27 more wounded in Jalalabad city explosion

07 Oct 2019

An explosion killed ten civilians including a child and wounded at least 27 others in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.

According to a statement released by Provincial Government, the explosion took place at around 4:30 pm local time in the 3rd district of the city.

The statement further added an explosives-laden motorcycle exploded close to a mini bus of the Afghan Army recruitment department.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/10-civilians-including-a-child-killed-27-more-wounded-in-jalalabad-city-explosion-04195/

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Taliban’s shadow judge and district chief killed in Takhar airstrike

07 Oct 2019

An airstrike in North-eastern Takhar province killed the shadow judge and district district chief of Taliban, the Afghan military said.

According to a statement released by 217th Pamir Corps, the Afghan Air Force conducted the airstrike in Khwaja Ghar district of Takhar on Sunday night.

The statement further added that the airstrike killed Haji Sabir, the shadow judge of Taliban for Takhar and Burhani Gajar, the shadow district chief of Taliban Namak Aab district.

The 217th Pamir Corps also added that the airstrike killed 11 other militants and wounded more.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/talibans-shadow-judge-and-district-chief-killed-in-takhar-airstrike-04194/

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Africa

 

Declare al Shabaab a terror group, Speaker Muturi tells US

by LUKE AWICH

07 October 2019

National Assembly speaker Justine Muturi has slammed the US accusing the superpower of rejecting a bid to declare al Shabaab a terror group.

According to Muturi, the move by Americans serves to embolden the group to the extent of making them considered for financial assistance by foreign organizations.

“I have in my mind the recent decision by the US to refuse to declare Al Shabaab a terrorist group. This ensures the group becomes a recipient of financing even by taxpayers, ” Muturi said.

“The glorified terrorist groups like the al Shabaab in Somalia enjoy protection by some superpowers through civil society groups in the guise of human rights activists. This trend is unfortunate and has the potential of watering down all the gains made in the fight against terrorist groupings.”

The assertion was however immediately discounted by US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter who said the US government has never failed to declare and categorise the Somalia militants as a terror grouping.

According to McCarter, the US supported the United Nations resolution No. 751 which declare al Shabaab a terrorist group, denying allegations made by the Speaker.

“There are no questions here. The US has declared Al-Shabaab terrorists and we will use everything within that resolution to degrade them (terrorists), ” McCarter said.

The US envoy, however, said the US was not comfortable with Kenya’s request to cut off all humanitarian support to war-torn Somalia.

“This is an issue that needs to be made very clear today. The request from Kenya was resolution 1267 which include in it the removal of humanitarian care for Somalia,” McCarter said.

The leaders were speaking during the official opening of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security conference in Nairobi on Monday.

https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2019-10-07-declare-al-shabaab-a-terror-group-speaker-muturi-tells-us/

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Boko Haram Kills 16 Civilians, 11 Soldiers In Borno

OCT 05, 2019

Boko Haram terrorists have killed 16 civilians and 11 soldiers in Borno State.

This was disclosed to AFP by military and militia sources on Saturday.

On Thursday, insurgents ambushed a military convoy near Mauro Village in Benisheikh district, according to a military source.

"Our men on patrol fell into a terrorist ambush... which claimed 11 soldiers and wounded 16 others.

"Two other soldiers are still missing,"  an officer, who asked not to be identified, said.

He added, "The terrorists made away with 11 AK-47 rifles and anti-aircraft gun mounted on the gun truck."

In another attack that same day, Boko Haram insurgents opened fire on a vehicle at Frigi Village, killing one person and injuring another, militia sources said.

Jihadist fighters also killed two militiamen in Gubio, 80 kilometres from the state capital, Maiduguri.

On Saturday, Boko Haram fighters stormed a camp for those displaced by the conflict in the town of Banki near the border with Cameroon, killing two residents and injuring three vigilantes guarding the area, two militia sources said.

The decade-long Boko Haram campaign has killed 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in North-East Nigeria.

Full report at:

http://saharareporters.com/2019/10/05/boko-haram-kills-16-civilians-11-soldiers-borno

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Rwandan forces 'kill 19 terrorists' in retaliatory attack

6 October 2019

Rwandan security forces have killed 19 "terrorists" blamed for an attack that resulted in the deaths of 14 people, police said.

The initial attack on Friday was reportedly carried out by ethnic Hutu rebels in the north of the country.

Officials suspect that the rebels carried out the killings while searching for food.

The retaliatory attack took place near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, police said.

What happened in Friday's attack?

Armed attackers reportedly went on a rampage with knives, machetes and stones in Musanze district near the Volcanoes National Park, which is popular with tourists for its mountain gorilla sanctuary.

While the death toll was initially put at eight, authorities are now saying that 14 people were killed.

The area has been targeted by Rwandan Hutu rebels active within DR Congo in the past.

This includes the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia, whose leaders are accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Full report at:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49952545

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UN peacekeeper killed, five wounded in Mali

Oct 7, 2019

One peacekeeper has been killed and four others wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in strife-torn northeastern Mali, the UN mission MINUSMA says, adding that another blue helmet has been injured in a separate attack in the center of the country.

The peacekeepers were carrying out a security patrol near the town of Aguelhok when the device detonated, spokesman Olivier Salgado said on Facebook. The UN said a Chadian soldier died in the attack.

In January, 11 Chadian members of MINUSMA were killed in an attack by militants in Aguelhok.

The head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, "strongly condemned the recent increase in these kinds of attacks, especially in the center" of the country, the UN mission said.

MINUSMA has lost more than 200 peacekeepers since it was set up in 2013, according to its website.

Salgado said unidentified gunmen on Sunday targeted UN peacekeepers near the central town of Bandiagara in a separate attack.

A UN statement said a Togolese peacekeeper sustained serious injuries.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of militants in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/07/608086/Mali-MINUSMA-UN-peacekeeper-militants-violence

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Germany announces additional $73 mln in aid to Somalia

Magdalene Mukami, Mohammed Dhaysane  

08.10.2019

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Germany said Monday it will provide an additional $73 million in financial aid to Somalia as it vowed to boost bilateral ties.

Ambassador Annett Gunther made the announcement while hosting a celebration in Mogadishu to mark German Unity Day attended by Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

“To support Somalia on its path, Germany is increasing its support in its development cooperation by $73 million over the next two years,” said Gunther.

“This increase, as was jointly agreed, will foster inclusive growth, skills development (through technical and vocational education and training) and urban infrastructure. Furthermore, Germany is engaging with a higher priority in rural development, agriculture and water management.”

Also present at the event was the Speaker of the Upper House, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Isse Awad and other members of the Somali government.

Gunther noted that the substantial support by the German government honors the progress made by the Somali people.

“It aims to support maintaining the positive trajectory Somalia has taken in recent years,” she added.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/germany-announces-additional-73-mln-in-aid-to-somalia/1605319

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US in Somalia: Is it still a safe haven for al-Shabab?

October 08, 2019

The US recently reopened its embassy in Somalia after 28 years, citing security improvements in the East African nation blighted by conflict for many years.

The announcement came days after a US military base about 90km outside Mogadishu and an EU envoy in the capital were attacked by Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

So has the situation really stabilised?

President Trump's administration has vastly increased aid and military engagement in Somalia since assuming office in 2017, making it a priority in its global effort to defeat Islamist terrorism and increasing the use of airstrikes and drones to combat militants.

This surge has been accompanied by a change in the classification of parts of Somalia to "areas of active hostilities", which means commanders don't need high-level approval to conduct strikes.

"Encouraged and supported by the Federal Government of Somalia, precision airstrikes support our partner security forces' efforts to protect the Somali people from terrorism," the US military told the BBC.

US airstrikes in Somalia

Source: Data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

The US military has already conducted more airstrikes in 2019 than in any previous year.

However, while it's difficult to assess the true impact of airstrikes, experts, former officials and an analysis of local media reporting suggest that the group's hold on its territory remains strong.

There is also a concern that civilians are being caught up in the conflict.

Casualties of US airstrikes

Source: Data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Amnesty International has published findings that the strikes have killed people who are not part of militant groups, although the US military maintains its targets have been al-Shabab militants.

Analysts say that civil society, previously generally supportive of airstrikes, has been strained by the sheer frequency of attacks that are now taking place.

So has the US surge been effective?

Al-Shabab still retains control over large areas of rural Somalia and continues to mount attacks in urban centres.

Most of these have occurred in Mogadishu and the Lower Shabelle region close to the capital.

There have been few attacks in the north of the country, although to the north-east, some groups loyal to the so-called Islamic State are active.

In recent years it has changed its approach from direct military confrontation, to destabilisation tactics, such as bombings, raids and assassinations of Somali and international officials.

It has also continued to be successful in generating revenue from local clans, collecting taxes and running courts outside government-controlled areas.

"Al-Shabab has largely been physically removed from most of the main population centres but its influence in cities and towns is possibly increasing once again," says Michael Keating, the former head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSom) from 2016 to 2018.

The Somali government doesn't publish statistics on militant killings.

However, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled) collects data on al-Shabab attacks, using local and international sources.

In 2017, over 500 people were killed in one terror attack. The figures for 2019 are the latest available data, and the set includes military and civilian casualties.

Source: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project

This indicates that 2019 is already one of the highest years on record for fatalities from al-Shabab attacks.

This is just below the figure for the whole of 2017, during which more than 500 people were killed in one attack in Mogadishu involving two lorry bombs.

The government attributed this attack to al-Shabab, although the group did not confirm it was behind it.

BBC Monitoring's specialist team monitoring jihadist activity estimates the number of al-Shabab militants to be somewhere in the region of 5,000-7,000.

Full report at:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49908716

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24 al-Shabab militants killed in Somalia

2019-10-07

MOGADISHU, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Somali army backed by Jubaland state forces on Monday killed 24 al-Shabab militants and injured more than 19 others in an offensive in Lower Jubba region, an official confirmed.

Khiyar Abdi Mohamed, commander of one of Jubbaland units, told journalists that the joint offensive was conducted in the outskirts of Kismayo town after the forces got intelligence of the militants' presence in the area and the forces inflicted severe casualties on the militants.

"There was a fierce fire exchange between our army and the militants, but the forces defeated the extremists and killed 24 of them and injured more than 19 others," said the commander.

He noted that among the dead including the militants' commander in the western villages of Kismayo.

Locals reported heavy gun battle in the village. "As the militants were gathering in the town, they were suddenly attacked by government forces, both exchanged gunfire which caused casualties of warring sides and the residents," Hafsa Elmi, a resident told Xinhua by phone.

On Sept. 29, the Somali military army backed by African Union forces killed 20 al-Shabab militants in another offensive in the country's southern region of Lower Shabelle.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/07/c_138454087.htm

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   2


  • Yes it same as insult Hindus by eating. Beef, eve n if Hadis says to avoid, double standard Muslims.
    By Aayina - 10/9/2019 1:30:40 AM



  • "Why Insult Islam By Offering Puja To Hindu Gods," Darul Uloom Clerics ask  Nusrat Jahan.
    Respecting the Gods of our neighbors does not insult Islam. Islam is too big to be insulted by such gestures.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/8/2019 12:11:45 PM



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