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Islamic World News (18 Mar 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



‘You Are My Friends’: British Man Stands Guard outside His Local Mosque after Christchurch Terror Attack
















Graystone shared that he decided to stand outside the Mosque because he wanted people to know that “we can respond with friendship”.

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‘You Are My Friends’: British Man Stands Guard outside His Local Mosque after Christchurch Terror Attack

UK Government Promoting Hatred against Muslims: Analyst

Aleppo: Turkey Looting Afrin's Artifacts, Archaeological Monuments

Syria ‘Will Allow No Foreign Interference in Constitution-Related Matters’

OIC Calls Meeting To Discuss Islamophobia after NZ Shootings

Afghan and Indian Health Organizations Expanding Quality Healthcare in Afghanistan

Airstrike Targets Group of Taliban Militants Involved In Planning Suicide Attacks

Indian Bishops Pray For New Zealand Terror Victims

 

Europe

‘You Are My Friends’: British Man Stands Guard outside His Local Mosque after Christchurch Terror Attack

UK Government Promoting Hatred against Muslims: Analyst

Turkey traces movements of Christchurch suspect during 2016 visits

Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of Christchurch mosque shooting

Alleged NZ Mosque Terrorist Drops Lawyer, Will Represent Himself

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Arab World

Aleppo: Turkey Looting Afrin's Artifacts, Archaeological Monuments

Syria ‘Will Allow No Foreign Interference in Constitution-Related Matters’

Iraq: ISIL Fails to Penetrate into Al-Anbar Province

Several More Civilians Killed in US Airstrikes on Refugee Camp in Eastern Syria

Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Foiled Attacks on Aleppo, Hama, Idlib

UN envoy discusses Syria constitution on Damascus visit

Syria in ruins as war enters 9th year

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Pakistan

OIC Calls Meeting To Discuss Islamophobia after NZ Shootings

Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi visits China to boost bilateral ties: Foreign office

Pakistan to give national award to citizen killed trying to overpower NZ mosque attacker

‘Pakistan’s message to world is peace and reconciliation’

President visits families of Christchurch shooting victim in Karachi

Protest held against Pakistanis’ killing in Afghanistan

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South Asia

Afghan and Indian Health Organizations Expanding Quality Healthcare in Afghanistan

Airstrike Targets Group of Taliban Militants Involved In Planning Suicide Attacks

Final Words of Afghan Man Show Islam Is Peace

ISIS-K commander Kateeb Ur Rehman, his 4 comrades killed in Nangarhar airstrike

Taliban kill 22 Afghan forces in attack on checkpoints

11 Taliban militants killed, 2 suicide vests, house-borne IED destroyed in Kunduz

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India

Indian Bishops Pray For New Zealand Terror Victims

Asian Church Leader Denounces New Zealand Mosque Shootings

Soldier killed, 3 injured in ceasefire violation in J&K’s Rajouri district

Customs Station Approved To Speed up Kartarpur Work

Masood Azhar issue will be resolved, says Chinese envoy

1 more Indian confirmed dead in New Zealand mosque attack, toll 8

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Southeast Asia

Committee on Peace, Inter-Religious Unity to Be Set Up, Says Minister

Lawmaker Calls for Banning Australian Senator from Entering Indonesia

Dr M: Act of violence in Christchurch inhuman

Religious segregation: ‘Corrective’ action ordered at Sabah school

Sarawak council chief urges thought leaders not to provoke religious friction

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Mideast

Israeli Court Issues Decision to Close Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Bab Al-Rahma Prayer Area

Israel’s top court disqualifies far-rightist, approves Arab party for ballot

Palestinian kills Israeli soldier in West Bank knife and gun attack

UN envoy says Hamas violently suppressed Gaza protests

Israeli court orders closure of building at tense Jerusalem holy site

Rouhani: Iran will file legal case against US for sanctions

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Africa

Takfiri militants kill 16 soldiers in attack on army base in Mali

Fresh rallies against Al-Bashir as Sudan secures $300M loans

Tunisia seeks extradition of Ben Ali brother-in-law from France

At least eight dead as gunmen storm Mali army camp

Yemeni forces kill Saudi, Sudanese troopers in Saudi Arabia

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North America

Trump Stance on Muslims, Fox Host In Spotlight

Iran main force against US-Israel-Saudi alliance in Mideast: Analyst

US denies report 1,000 troops to remain in Syria

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘you-are-my-friends’--british-man-stands-guard-outside-his-local-mosque-after-christchurch-terror-attack/d/118060

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‘You Are My Friends’: British Man Stands Guard outside His Local Mosque after Christchurch Terror Attack

March 18, 2019

In the aftermath of the deadly terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand that claimed the lives of at least 50 people including five Indians, a man standing guard outside the Levenshulme mosque in Machester has received praise online. A picture of him holding a placard that read “You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray” has gone viral.

However, many were curious about the identity of the man which was later revealed by his daughter, Ruth Kyle. “Dear world. This is my Dad @AndrewGraystone and I am so proud, in every way, to be his daughter!” she tweeted in response to many enquiring about him.

Graystone shared that he decided to stand outside the Mosque because he wanted people to know that “we can respond with friendship”. “As people walked up, you could see in their eyes that they were looking at somebody standing outside their mosque, thinking, ‘Oh no, is this some kind of protest or whatever’. And then when they saw the message saying ‘You are my friend’, their faces broke and they beamed and smiled,” he told BBC.

https://indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-globally/man-stands-outside-mosque-christchurch-terror-attack-5630722/

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UK government promoting hatred against Muslims: Analyst

Mar 17, 2019

The British government has contributed to the recent visible surge in terrorist attacks against Muslims around the world by fueling Islamophobia almost on a daily basis, a senior political analyst from London says.

“The UK government itself is involved in promoting this demonization and sort of escalating the environment of hate (against the Muslims),” said Massoud Shadjareh  in a Sunday interview with the Press TV, adding that senior UK politicians like former foreign minister Boris Johnson have been demonizing Muslims without any regret.

Shadjareh said incidents like the Friday massacre of Muslims in New Zealand, where a white supremacist killed 50 worshipers in two mosques in the city of Christchurch, was a result of the Islamophobic environments existing in Western countries like the UK.

“Islamophobia and the environment of hate which has been created against Muslims internationally and fueled by the politicians and the media on a daily basis is going to result in people behaving in this way,” he said.

The expert added some Western politicians acted as if they were even in a competition with each other to show who is more Islamophobic.

“Look at the (London) mayor election, there is a competition between all the candidates to show their credential of being Islamophobic,” said Shadjareh, adding, “The more Islamophoboic a politician it is more likely to actually win the votes.”

The analyst said even Muslim politicians in the UK like London Mayor Sadiq Khan and interior minister Sajid Javid are forced to behave in an Islamophobic manner because of the dominant environment of Islamophobia.

He said in addition to campaigning for a stop in Islamophobic discourse in the Western politics and the media, there should be more protection for the minority Muslim communities who are target of such terrorist attacks.

Shadjareh said governments like the UK have offered almost nothing in finances to provide security for places of worship for Muslims compared to what they have done to protect other  communities.

“The only community which is being attacked in London, in New Zealand and elsewhere, in the United States and so for, their centers have been attacked and their worshipers have been massacred is the Muslim community” he said.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/17/591291/UK-government-media-Islamophobic-environment-interview

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Aleppo: Turkey Looting Afrin's Artifacts, Archaeological Monuments

Mar 17, 2019

Turkish teams equipped with excavation instruments are excavating for artifacts in Jandaris hills in Afrin region, the London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) quoted informed sources in Southwestern Afrin as saying.

The SOHR noted that the Turkish Army, meantime, has blocked all roads to the region, and said that another excavation operation is underway in Ma'abali region in Western Afrin and Ali Aisheh and Tal Zarafkeh regions.

This comes as plundering of civilians' assets and abducting them as well as receiving heavy taxes by the Ankara-backed militants are still underway in Afrin.

In a relevant development on Thursday, the Syrian government announced that the terrorist groups have transferred thousands of artifacts from the country's archeological sites to Turkey.

"A sum of 17,000 pieces of archeological works that had been stolen from Syria's museums and archeological sites are presently in Turkey," Syria's director general for archeological monuments Mahmoud Hamoud said.

Hamoud reiterated that most of the stolen manuscripts had been stolen from Jobar Synagogue in Eastern Damascus and had been smuggled to Turkey from Eastern Ghouta.

This comes as the terrorist groups had smuggled thousands of artifacts from Syria to neighboring Turkey.

In a relevant development earlier this month, Arab media outlets reported that more than 142 families of ISIL commanders and foreign militants together with Syria's historic monuments have been relocated to Turkey from Eastern Euphrates with the help of the US-backed Kurdish fighters and Ankara's allied militants.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted dissident sources as saying that a network comprising tens of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Ankara-backed militants transferred the historic monuments as well as the ISIL commanders, terrorists and their families to Northern Aleppo and from there to Turkey.

The sources explained that over 142 families of the ISIL commanders and terrorists have been relocated to Turkey from Eastern Euphrates on military vehicles after paying cash up to $90,000.

Meantime, a number of Syrian militants and their families have also moved towards Idlib province.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971226000403

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Syria ‘will allow no foreign interference in constitution-related matters’

Mar 17, 2019

Syria says its constitution is a “purely sovereign affair” and will allow no foreign interference in that area.

Syrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Muallem stressed the matter in a meeting with United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen in the capital, Damascus, on Sunday.

“The constitution and all matters related to it are a sovereign issue that should be decided by Syrians themselves without any foreign interference,” Muallem said, as quoted by Syria’s official news agency SANA.

Writing a new constitution for a post-war Syria is part of a potential political solution to end the eight-year crisis in the Arab country. To that end, an agreement was made in the Russian town of Sochi last year for a UN-backed Constitutional Committee to be formed composed of 50 members from the incumbent Damascus government, 50 opposition members, and another 50 independent figures chosen by the world body.

Muallem expressed Syria’s readiness to cooperate with Pedersen, a Norwegian diplomat who took over from Staffan de Mistura in January, to facilitate inter-Syrian dialog to reach a political solution aimed at serving the Syrians’ interests and preserving the Arab country’s “sovereignty, independence and unity.”

He also said any solution had to help eradicate terrorism and terminate the illegal presence of foreign troops in Syria.

Pedersen, on his second visit to Damascus since he took up the post, affirmed that he would not spare any effort to reach a political solution in accordance with the principles laid out in the UN Charter and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Last month, Pedersen said in Geneva that he saw a constitutional committee as “the potential door-opener for the political process.”

The UN envoy also stressed the full commitment of the UN to the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Arab country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/17/591311/Syria-constitution-purely-sovereign-affair

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OIC calls meeting to discuss Islamophobia after NZ shootings

Mar 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has called emergency meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers on March 22 to discuss the causes, impacts and future strategy in the wake of New Zealand shooting that had left over 50 people dead. Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood said that he has been in contact with his Turkish counterpart since yesterday and that both countries agreed to summon the meeting.

Turkey currently holds the rotating OIC presidency.

He said the meeting was called in order to devise a strategy against Islamophobia after mass shootings in addition to a discussion on the underlying causes of such an incident.

He said he contacted his Turkish counterpart and discussed the world scenario after the New Zealand terrorist attacks.

Turkey being chair of the council floated the idea of convening Foreign Ministers’ meeting and Pakistan seconded it, he added.

During the meeting, efforts will be made to unify the Ummah and devise a strategy to know the root causes of growing Islamophobia in the West and its implications for Muslims around the world.

FM Qureshi says visa to the mother of Shaheed Naeem Rashid has been issued so that she can attend last rituals of her son in New Zealand.

In a statement, he said the government is facilitating relatives of Pakistani citizens, martyred in the New Zealand terrorist attack, in getting visa to travel to Christchurch to attend funerals of their loved ones.

The foreign minister said Pakistan High Commission in New Zealand is making all out efforts for affected Pakistanis in that country. He said families of six martyred want to bury them in New Zealand while three have expressed wish to bury their dead in Pakistan.

The foreign minister paid tribute to Naeem Rashid, one of the victims, for his bravery and courage. Rashid has been hailed as a hero on social media after being seen in a video of the attacks apparently trying to tackle the gunman before being shot.

The national flag be flown at half-mast on Monday, he added.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said parliamentary leaders will be invited for a meeting on 28th of this month at the parliament house in Islamabad to seek their opinions and guidance on the way to move forward, in the backdrop of post Pulwama developments.

He said he held telephonic contacts with PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif who have assured their cooperation on all issues of national interest and security.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also called for holding an emergency meeting of the OIC during a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, reported Anadolu Agency.

In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Zarif called for “appropriate reaction of Muslim states to this heinous crime”.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/17/oic-calls-meeting-to-discuss-islamophobia-after-nz-shootings/

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Afghan and Indian Health Organizations Expanding Quality Healthcare in Afghanistan

18 Mar 2019

Three Indian health organizations signed contracts with an Afghan health company at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Sunday to expand the provision of quality healthcare in Afghanistan.

The United States Agency for International Development in a statement said the contracts, with an estimated value of $6.5 million, aim to establish a fully equipped diagnostic center, an advanced dialysis center, and a manufacturing plant for the production of pharmaceuticals in Kabul.

The statement further added that this builds on the initial talks in the USAID sponsored Passage to Prosperity: India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show in 2018.

Despite progress in the health sector, access to quality secondary and tertiary healthcare is still limited in Afghanistan. As a result, many Afghans seek healthcare abroad, spending an estimated $285 million annually. The Government of Afghanistan is encouraging regional and international investment to expand healthcare inside the country and to alleviate the need for people to go abroad.

Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health, expressed appreciating for local and Indian investments in the health sector. He stated, “The private health sector is an integral part of Afghanistan’s health system and plays a crucial role in meeting the demands of Afghans for healthcare. The partnerships between the Afghan health businesses and Indian organizations that we witness today will help fill the gap in service delivery in the country”. Dr. Feroz also invited other international investors and organizations to consider investing in the most needed areas in Afghanistan.

USAID Mission Director Peter Natiello stated: “Increased investment in the health sector not only improves the health of the population, but also spurs economic growth through job creation, improved local skills, and additional resources for development.” Dr. Mustafa Mastoor, Minister of Economy, expressed his commitment for fostering an enabling environment to expand private sector investment in the country.

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-and-indian-health-organizations-expanding-quality-healthcare-in-afghanistan-03513/

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Airstrike targets group of Taliban militants involved in planning suicide attacks

18 Mar 2019

At least seven Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike which was carried out in the vicinity of Khogyani district of Nangarhar province.

The 201st Silab Corps in a statement said the Afghan Special Forces called in air support after coming under fire during the operation late last night.

The statement further added that 7 militants who were involved in planning and coordinating suicide attacks and roadside bombings were killed in the airstrike.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar province has been among the relatively calm provinces but the security situation in some of its remote districts has deteriorated during the recent amid growing attempts by Taliban and ISIS sympathizers to expand foothold in this province.

https://www.khaama.com/airstrike-targets-group-of-taliban-militants-involved-in-planning-suicide-attacks-03512/

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Indian bishops pray for New Zealand terror victims

 March 17, 2019

New Delhi, March 16, 2019: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has expressed anguish and sadness at the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand.

At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured on March 15 in a hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

“The Catholic Church in India prays for the souls of those killed in the senseless killing and implores God for quick and complete healing of the injured. We ask the Almighty God for comfort and consolation to the families of the victims,” says a March 16 condolence message from the bishops’ conference.

The statement points out that the New Zealand attack has come nearly a month after the terrorist attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir that killed 44 soldiers. “Even as the world grieved with us as our tragedy it has to reckon with yet another horror,” it adds.

The bishops’ conference says the “demon of hatred and division” when unleashed is difficult to control and leaves behind “death, pain and sorrow.”

The press note says the New Zealand tragedy draws attention to the use of social media for spreading hate and threatening messages, ultra-nationalistic rage and categorization of dissenters as anti-nationals.

“It is time to call out hate mongers and take them to task,” the bishops’ message said and lauded New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her bold action against hatred.

She said: “Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts…”

The terrorist attacks anywhere are crimes against humanity, the Indian bishops asserted.

http://mattersindia.com/2019/03/indian-bishops-pray-for-new-zealand-terror-victims/

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Europe

 

Turkey traces movements of Christchurch suspect during 2016 visits

Andrew Wilks

March 17, 2019

Turkey has begun to track the past movements of the suspect in the Christchurch mosque shootings after it emerged he paid an extended visit to the country more than two years ago.

A Turkish official said initial checks found that Brenton Tarrant, 28, came to Turkey twice in 2016 – from March 17 to 20 and again from September 13 to October 25. State-run media released a photograph of Mr Tarrant entering through Istanbul’s Ataturk airport without specifying the date.

“We are currently investigating the terrorist’s movements and contacts within the country,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Security forces are trying to piece together where Mr Tarrant went and whom he met while he was in Turkey, particularly during his six-week stay.

“The Turkish investigation will clarify when he arrived in Istanbul and where he stayed and probably his cellphone communication if he had one,” said Yusuf Alabarda, a security analyst at Ankara’s Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research.

“Also the closed-circuit camera system, which is very effective inside Turkey because Turkey has struggled with terrorism for more than 40 years, and his links with people in Istanbul or other cities.”

Investigators are to initially focus on the area around Sultanahmet Square in the heart of Istanbul’s tourist district that includes Hagia Sophia, a former church and mosque that is now a museum, the Hurriyet newspaper reported. They will also examine hotel, airport and bus records. Mr Tarrant referred to returning Hagia Sophia to Christian worship in a “manifesto” he distributed prior to the attacks.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly talked about Friday’s attacks, in which at least 50 people were killed, during televised campaign rallies ahead of local elections at the end of the month, even showing footage of the shootings on large on-stage screens.

The president linked the attacks to the elections, asking a crowd in Gaziantep on Friday if they were “ready to send a message to the enemies of Islam and Turkey" on March 31.

Turkey has been alarmed at Mr Tarrant’s naming of Mr Erdogan as a target for assassination, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

In his “manifesto”, Mr Tarrant labelled Mr Erdogan “the leader of one of the oldest enemies of our people” and mentioned Europe’s “Turk invaders”.

The Australian suspect appears to have developed an obsession with the centuries-old conflicts between the Muslim Ottomans and Christian armies in the Balkans. The weapons used in the attacks were scrawled with the dates of battles and the names of historic Christian leaders and Mr Tarant is reported to have visited Ottoman battle sites in the region.

In the months after leaving Turkey in late 2016, he travelled to Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro. The following year he visited France, Spain and Portugal, the sites of conflict between European and Arab armies, and last year went to Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said authorities were investigating Mr Tarrant’s visit. Serbia’s ambassador to Ankara, Zoran Markovic, denounced any link between the “mad, sick, criminal and totally unacceptable act and the history of Balkans”. Many commentators in Turkey pointed to Mr Tarrant’s trips to the country falling either side of the July 2016 coup attempt, without offering further explanation.

On Sunday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in New Zealand, where they met officials and some of the relatives of the three injured Turkish worshippers.

“This terrorist act, unfortunately, has shown us once again that there are no limits of hostility to Islam,” Mr Oktay said on Saturday before departing from Istanbul.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/turkey-traces-movements-of-christchurch-suspect-during-2016-visits-1.838125

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Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of Christchurch mosque shooting

March 18, 2019

Facebook has revealed that it removed nearly 1.5 million videos of the Christchurch mosque shootings in which 50 people were killed and another 50 people injured, after a gunman opened fire on worshippers on Friday, March 15 at two mosques in New Zealand. The attacker also live-streamed part of the attack on both YouTube and Facebook.

Facebook’s tweet reveals, “In the first 24 hours we removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, of which over 1.2 million were blocked at upload…” This also shows how quickly the Facebook livestream of the Christchurch mosque shootings went viral and were being shared on the platform.

Facebook in a series of tweets, posted by the official Facebook Newsroom account had earlier said that they quickly removed the livestream from the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram page, after the police alerted them of the video shortly after the attacker went live.

The company had also said that they were removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter as soon as they became aware.

“We continue to work around the clock to remove violating content using a combination of technology and people. Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concerns of local authorities, we’re also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content,” Mia Garlick, Facebook New Zealand said in another update on the New Zealand mosque attack.

Facebook was not only platform where the video of the shooting was shared. The live video, which was posted on Facebook, was later being shared on YouTube as well. The Google-owned video platform had tweeted saying they were working vigilantly to remove any violent footage of the attack.

According to a Bloomberg report, users had reported that video of the attack was still widely available hours after being first uploaded to the shooter’s Facebook account.

The report said that the video, which showed a first-person view of the killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, was readily accessible during and after the attack.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/social/facebook-removed-1-5-million-videos-of-the-christchurch-new-zealand-mosque-shooting-5631424/

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Alleged NZ mosque terrorist drops lawyer, will represent himself

18 March 2019

The Australian terrorist charged with murder for allegedly killing 50 people in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques plans to represent himself, his court-appointed duty lawyer said Monday.

Brenton Tarrant was charged with one count of murder and appeared at Christchurch District Court on Saturday after the rampage during Friday prayers.

Duty lawyer Richard Peters, who represented him during the preliminary court hearing, told AFP the 28-year-old “indicated he does not want a lawyer”.

“He wants to be self-represented in this case,” said Peters, who played down suggestions that Tarrant may not be fit for trial.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/18/Alleged-NZ-mosque-terrorist-drops-lawyer-will-represent-himself.html

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Arab World

 

Iraq: ISIL Fails to Penetrate into Al-Anbar Province

Mar 17, 2019

"The Iraqi Army troops prevented the ISIL terrorists from crossing into Al-Anbar province by laying mines and traps on their path," the Iraqi security source said.

The source reiterated that all terrorists were killed and their military vehicle was destroyed in the Iraqi forces' operations against them.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Arabic-language al-Masdar news website reported that the Iraqi forces had reinforced their military positions near the border with Syria and they were completely ready to prevent the ISIL terrorists from penetrating into their country.

"A large number of security and Hashd al-Sha'abi forces have been dispatched to the Western part of Iraq's Al-Anbar province during the past week," it added.

Al-Masdar, meantime, noted that the dispatch of forces to borders with Syria is in line with blocking the possible escape of the ISIL remnants from the remaining regions under their occupation in Eastern Deir Ezzur to Iraq.

Meantime, Hashd al-Sha'abi Commander in Al-Anbar Province Qatari al-Abidi announced that the Iraqi security forces are now in a state of alert amid battle with the terrorists in Baqouz region.

A Syrian Army source was quoted by Al-Masdar as saying last week that the ISIL terrorists have been increasing their presence along Iraq-Syria border.

In a relevant development earlier this month, a senior Iraqi legislator disclosed that the US forces played a role in the last Wednesday's ISIL raid on a convoy of Hashd al-Shaabi in Northern Iraq which killed and wounded several popular forces.

Karim al-Aliwi, a representative of al-Bina coalition at the Iraqi parliament, was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh as saying that the US forces provide the ISIL with intelligence about Hashd al-Shaabi and Iraqi security forces' moves, noting that they want to induce the necessity for their deployment under the pretext of fighting against the ISIL.

The Arabic-language service of Sputnik quoted the Iraqi intelligence and security bodies as reporting that during the terrorist attack against Hashd al-Shaabi on Makhmour road in Mosul, 6 Hashd al-Shaabi forces were killed and 31 others were wounded.

Another senior Iraqi lawmaker had also disclosed last month that the US army troops and warplanes were preventing Hashd al-Shaabi from getting close to the country's borders with Syria.

"The US troops stationed along Iraq-Syria borders have blocked the access of Hashd al-Shaabi forces from nearing that region through air and ground cover," Member of the Iraqi Parliament's Security Committee Ali Jabbar was quoted by al-Maloumeh as saying. He underlined that the US considered Hashd al-Shaabi as a big threat to its plots in Iraq, and said that the US army troops were exerting pressure on the Iraqi government to prevent Hashd al-Shaabi from getting close to the border with Syria or to prevent them from targeting the ISIL movements in the Baghouz region.

This comes as a security force had earlier revealed that the US army troops backed by the US helicopters have used al-Ramaneh region along Iraq-Syria borders in Western al-Anbar to conduct reconnaissance operations.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971226000438

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Several More Civilians Killed in US Airstrikes on Refugee Camp in Eastern Syria

Mar 17, 2019

The US-led coalition fighter jets conducted attacks on the gatherings of the civilians in al-Baghouz farms in Eastern Deir Ezzur along the border with Iraq.

Several civilians, most of them women and children, were killed and wounded in the air raids by the US-led coalition, local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur were quoted as saying.

The US-led coalition fighter jets had also pounded the besieged Al-Baghouz Foqani Town in Eastern Syria with phosphorus gas earlier this month.

"The US-led fighter jets hit Baghouz farms in Eastern Deir Ezzur with missiles containing white phosphorus substance," the Arabic-language media quoted local sources in Deir Ezzur as saying.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971225001142

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Terrorists Sustain Heavy Losses in Foiled Attacks on Aleppo, Hama, Idlib

Mar 17, 2019

The Syrian Army units engaged in heavy clashes with the terrorists in al-Sharia, al-Tavineh and al-Karim towns in Northern Hama, inflicting major losses on the terrorists and forcing a large number of them to retreat from the battle scene.

The Syrian Army's artillery and missile units also heavily pounded the terrorists' gatherings near the town of al-Jamaseh and West of Kafar Naboudeh in Northern Hama, destroying the terrorists' military positions and killing a large number of them.

This comes as Tahrir al-Sham terrorists launched a large number of rocket attacks on the town of al-Saqilbiyeh West of Hama, killing and injuring a number of civilians.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army troops pounded the movements of Tahrir al-Sham and its allied militants from Badama and al-Najieh towns, inflicting heavy losses on them.

In a relevant development last Wednesday, the Syrian army pounded and destroyed a command headquarters of Tahrir al-Sham amid fierce attacks by terrorists on their military positions.

The Damascus army attacked the terrorists' military positions and movements in al-Habit and around Babilon town, destroying a meeting of militant commanders and killing all those present at the venue.

A military source also confirmed that the Syrian Army troops have destroyed a command center of Tahrir al-Sham together with several military vehicles in Harash Abedin town in Southeastern Idlib, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists.

In Northern Hama, the Syrian Army troops engaged in heavy clashes with terrorist groups who had concurrently attacked the Syrian Army's military positions near the town of Mahradeh and the al-Jadideh town in Northern Hama, inflicting heavy losses on the assailant terrorists after warding off their attack.

Meantime, the Syrian Army troops attacked the terrorists' military positions in Tal-e Shaviheneh, Kafar Hamreh and Haritan in response to their attacks on the civilian population in al-Zahra, al-Mokambo, al-Shahba al-Jadideh regions in Western Aleppo.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971226000313

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UN envoy discusses Syria constitution on Damascus visit

17 March 2019

The UN envoy for Syria held talks in Damascus on Sunday with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, who stressed the need for a Syrian-led political solution to the eight-year war.

Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen discussed efforts to find a political settlement to the conflict, including moves to form a committee tasked with drawing up a post-war constitution, state media said.

Muallem expressed Syria’s readiness to cooperate with Pedersen to facilitate a political solution, the official news agency SANA said.

But he said that the political process, including talks over a new constitution, should be “Syrian-led and -owned.”

“The constitution and all matters related to it are a sovereign issue that should be decided by Syrians themselves without any foreign interference,” Muallem said in a statement carried by SANA.

Pedersen arrived in Damascus on Sunday in the second such visit since he took up his post in January.

Last month the envoy said in Geneva that he saw a constitutional committee as “the potential door-opener for the political process.”

He pointed to a UN resolution adopted in 2015 calling for the creation of a new constitution followed by UN-supervised elections.

The UN Security Council remains deeply divided over the way forward in Syria, where the war entered its ninth year last week with more than 370,000 people dead.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/17/UN-envoy-discusses-Syria-constitution-on-Damascus-visit-.html

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Syria in ruins as war enters 9th year

March 18, 2019

SYRIA: The Syrian crisis enters its ninth year this month, leaving in its wake a trail of death, destruction, destitution, displacement and division.

The war has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced at least 12 million, and left the country’s economy and infrastructure in ruins.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a speech on Feb. 17: “We have this romantic view sometimes that we are victorious. No, the war is not over.”

Statistics and figures from Syrian Customs, provided by economist and financial advisor Dr. Humam Al-Jazaeri, show that the volume of foreign trade plummeted between 2010 and 2016 due to non-UN (US and EU) sanctions, the suspension of oil production, damage to physical infrastructure and the closure of border crossings with Jordan and Iraq.

“A compliance buffer zone at financial institutions has been put in place voluntarily, especially by international banks, against transactions in goods and services traded with Syria, leading to a significant rise in international transaction costs, including the costs of shipping, insurance and financing,” he said.

“Due to non-UN sanctions, combined with the conflict, the capabilities of Syrian banks have been significantly eroded in facilitating international payments.”

The tide of the war has turned in the Syrian regime’s favor, with the bulk of the country back in its control, prompting some Arab states to begin normalizing ties with Damascus.

Jordan reopened its main border crossing with Syria in October 2018, and Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir visited Damascus in mid-December, the first Arab ruler to visit the country since the war began in 2011.

There is a growing consensus among Arab League countries about readmitting Syria to the regional bloc, after its membership was suspended seven years ago.

Mark Gasiorowski, a political science lecturer at Tulane University in the US, told Arab News: “This is part of a process of rehabilitating the Syrian regime that has been going on for a year or so now, as the regime has increasingly been winning its civil war with extensive help from Russia and Iran.”

Even though Arab states are reluctant to have any dealings with Damascus, “Syria is a key Arab state, and other Arab powers can’t afford to keep ostracizing it, as the US and EU countries can,” he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) forecast in December 2018 that up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, despite massive hurdles facing them.

But the following month, the UN said conditions were not right for the safe and orderly return of large groups of refugees.

The French and German ambassadors to Syria blame Damascus for “creating a climate of fear and injustice” that is preventing refugees from returning.

They called on Damascus to “credibly end arbitrary arrests and prosecution,” and to “stop restricting the work of the UNHCR” so that “it can freely move within Syria to access and protect all refugees.”

Meanwhile, the third Brussels conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region,” held on March 12-14, noted that more than 11 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The conference pledged $7 billion for 2019 in aid for Syrians in the country and its neighbors.

Even though the security situation has improved with the defeat of Daesh, many parts of Syria remain a serious security concern.

And while pro-regime forces have recaptured areas surrounding the capital, shortages of fuel, cooking gas and electricity have hit Damascus hard this winter, leading to rising food prices and transport costs.

With persistent power cuts and a rise in fuel prices, residents are increasingly relying on gas for heating. Other major cities are also facing an energy crisis, including Aleppo, As-Suwayda, Hama, Homs and Latakia.

Locals have taken to social media to express their anger not just toward their living situation, but also Parliament Speaker Hammouda Al-Sabbagh’s claim that these complaints are “campaigns … managed by foreign parties.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1468186/middle-east

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi visits China to boost bilateral ties: Foreign office

Mar 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is visiting China to participate in a strategic dialogue and hold talks with the top Chinese leadership on a range of issues, including the multi-billion CPEC project, to strengthen the bilateral ties, the foreign office said Sunday.

The announcement of the four-day visit comes days after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations (UN) Security Council on Wednesday to designate chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group Masood Azhar as a "global terrorist" by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after the Pulwama terror attack which killed forty Indian soldiers.

The foreign office (FO) said in a statement that "Qureshi is visiting China from March 17 to 20 for the first Pakistan-China foreign ministers' Strategic Dialogue".

Apart from the talks on other issues, "both sides shall also discuss the regional situation and cooperation at multilateral fora, the foreign office said.

They will specifically hold comprehensive discussions on the entire range of bilateral relations including the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), it said.

The foreign minister will also address Political Parties Forum on the CPEC and participate in the ruling parties' dialogue between his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Communist Party of China (CPC) during the visit.

The foreign office said that Qureshi will also call on the Chinese leadership.

The foreign minister's visit will add momentum to close and broad-based bilateral ties and will reinforce efforts to deepen economic engagement under the CPEC, it said.

The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-fm-shah-mahmood-qureshi-visits-china-to-boost-bilateral-ties-foreign-office/articleshow/68455003.cms

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Pakistan to give national award to citizen killed trying to overpower NZ mosque attacker

Mar 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A courageous Pakistani national who died in the ghastly Christchurch terror attack on two mosques will be conferred with a national award posthumously for trying to tackle the White supremacist gunman before being shot dead by him. Naeem Rashid, a resident of Jinnahabad in Abbottabad and a professor in New Zealand, was present at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch when the terrorist opened fire on Friday and killed 50 worshippers.

Prime Minister Imran Khan extended support to the families and also announced to award a Pakistani who tried to tackle the attacker but was killed.

"We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was killed trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognised with a national award," Khan tweeted on Sunday.

We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchur…

https://t.co/0wkvDYIbsc

Rashid's 22-year-old son, Talha Naeem, a civil engineering graduate, was among those who lost their lives in the shooting.

Rashid, who was injured in his bid to overpower the attacker, passed away on Saturday after succumbing to his injuries.

Pakistan foreign office on Sunday confirmed, nine Pakistani national were killed in the attack that took place on Friday .

The 28-year-old gunman, identified Brenton Tarrant, live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.

The attack has shocked New Zealanders, who are used to seeing around 50 murders a year in the entire country of 4.8 million and pride themselves on living in a secure and welcoming place.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-to-give-national-award-to-citizen-killed-trying-to-overpower-nz-mosque-attacker/articleshow/68451675.cms

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‘Pakistan’s message to world is peace and reconciliation’

March 18, 2019

BAHAWALNAGAR: Speakers at a conference here on Saturday said that Pakistan’s message for the world is of peace and reconciliation, adding that political and military leadership of the country and ulema are on the same page for defence and stability of the motherland.

The ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan Conference’ was organised by Madrassa Qasimul Uloom Bahawalnagar. Majlis-e-Ulema Pakistan Chairman and Badshahi Mosque Lahore Khateeb Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad presided over the conference while Sahibzada Masood Qasim Qasimi hosted the session. Former religious affairs minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z) chief Ejaz ul Haq, Bahawalnagar District Police Officer Ammara Athar, Maulana Imdad Hussain from United Kingdom, Mufti Abdul Moeed Asad, Prof Mateeur Rehman Nafeesi and Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani participated in the conference, besides a huge number of civil society members, lawyers and students of different religious seminaries.Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad said the role of ulema in foiling the nefarious agenda of the enemies is of crucial importance, as they are the flag-bearers of unity, brotherhood, tolerance and peace in the society. He said the constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to all segments of society, including minorities. He said ulema belonging to all schools of thought are one on integrity and stability of the country and will never let hostile elements succeed in their conspiracies.

He said Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative of the government of Pakistan has broken the back of the elements spreading hatred and extremism in the country. He said whole nation is united to thwart nefarious designs of the enemies.

He said the peace overtures of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the message of reconciliation and dialogue by him has won praise from the international community. He said Pakistan has emerged as a proponent of peace in the comity of nations and the whole world is appreciating its positive approach.

Other speakers stressed the need to implement Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative in true letter and spirit in order to promote harmony and peace and tolerance which will in turn help build an inclusive Islamic society in Pakistan. They called for reviewing country’s educational policy, ensuring training of teachers and ulema to encourage a culture of respecting other sects and religions as well as their sacred places.

Full report at:

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/445335-pakistan-s-message-to-world-is-peace-and-reconciliation

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President visits families of Christchurch shooting victim in Karachi

Mar 18, 2019

KARACHI: President Dr Arif Alvi expresses his concerns on Christchurch mosque attack by saying “World leaders need to realize the importance of selection of words in their speeches as global peace could not be achieved by fanning hatred against Muslims” while talking to media on Sunday.

After visiting the victim families, who were martyred in the terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch city of New Zealand, Alvi said “it will take too long to repress the flames of hatred as these issues can’t be fixed immediately.

He also said “Christchurch attack was the consequence of global narrative on Islamophobia.

The president visited the family of late Zeeshan Ahmed, who embraced martyrdom in the attack along with his parents. Earlier, he also visited the family of Syed Areeb Ahmed, another victim of the attack.

He offered Fateha and prayed for the peace of departed souls. He also expressed sympathies and solidarity with the grieving families and prayed for courage to bear the loss with fortitude.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/18/president-visits-families-of-christchurch-shooting-victim-in-karachi/

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Protest held against Pakistanis’ killing in Afghanistan

Mar 18, 2019

WANA: The members of Wazir Grand Jirga staged a protest demonstration against the killing of eight tribesmen from North Waziristan in Afghanistan on Sunday.

The protest was held in the border village of Angur Adda in South Waziristan.  Speaking on the occasion, the participants condemned the killing of the Pakistani tribesmen by the Afghan security forces.

Earlier speaking at a press conference, the members of the jirga (village council) had called upon the United Nations, International Human Rights Commission and Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul to probe the killing of the tribesmen to ensure justice to the bereaved families.

They appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, foreign and interior ministers and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take note of the killing of Pakistani citizens.

The elders claimed that the Afghan army personnel dragged the eight Pakistani citizens out of their homes and subjected them to severe torture before killing them in Barma area of Paktika province in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/17/protest-held-against-pakistanis-killing-in-afghanistan/

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South Asia

 

Final words of Afghan man show Islam is peace

Shadi Khan Saif

17.03.2019

As the world reeled from Friday’s devastating terrorist attack in New Zealand, war-ravaged Afghanistan mourned the loss of Daud Nabi, the humble face of Islam in the island country, killed in cold blood along with 50 worshippers in Christchurch.

The 71-year-old former Afghan refugee was among the founding members of al-Noor Mosque, one of the two mosques that was stormed by a terrorist.

Daud stood at the entrance of the mosque to welcome devotees for Friday prayers. In the live-streamed video of the onslaught on Facebook, Nabi can be seen warmly welcoming Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old terrorist, saying ‘Hello Brother’ expecting the same from him only to receive multiple lethal bullets.

This simple greeting by Nabi in the face of death has touched thousands of people worldwide.

His last words ‘Hello Brother’ have been trending with tweets in English, Arabic, Pashto, Persian, Turkish and other languages.

“Tarrant wanted to stop #Islam, but he made more Islamic heroes, he showed us the ugly face of #Islamophobia and the illness in their sick self’s #ChristchurchTerrorAttack #HelloBrother,” read one among numerous tweets.

“The final words of a pure soul filled with a peaceful faith. #HelloBrother,” read another tweet.

Fleeing Soviet rule in Afghanistan, Nabi took refuge in New Zealand some four decades ago. He was the chief of the tiny Afghan community there.

One of his four sons, Omar Nabi, told the BBC Pashto service of Afghanistan, his father was always in service of the community especially the migrants. “He never asked or expected anything in return, he would always strive for their welfare."

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani tweeted on Sunday: “Today, I spoke and extended my deepest condolences to the families of Haji Mohammad Daud Nabi and Matiullah Safi. They were martyred in the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. I offered these bereaved families our help in any way possible.”

The Afghan Embassy in New Zealand said another Afghan man prevented the terrorist from entering Linwood Mosque, the second mosque that came under attack.

“An Afghan-origin man, Abdul Aziz, who was inside the Linwood Mosque when it was attacked has been hailed as a hero for confronting the gunman, chasing him off and preventing more deaths.

"Abdul Aziz did not hide when the shooter advanced toward the Linwood Mosque during Friday prayers, killing those in his path. Instead, he picked up the first thing he could find -- a credit card machine -- and ran outside screaming ‘come here!'."

Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and other countries bore the brunt of this terrorist attack.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/final-words-of-afghan-man-show-islam-is-peace/1421026

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ISIS-K commander Kateeb Ur Rehman, his 4 comrades killed in Nangarhar airstrike

17 Mar 2019

At least five militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were killed in an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East announced Sunday that the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Khogyani district.

According to a statement released by 201st Silab, a commander of the group identified as Kateeb Ur Rehman was also among those killed.

The anti-government armed militant groups including ISIS sympathizers have not commented regarding the airstrike so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the anti-government armed elements are active in some of its remote districts and often attempt to carry out attacks against the government and security personnel.

https://www.khaama.com/isis-k-commander-kateeb-ur-rehman-his-4-comrades-killed-in-nangarhar-airstrike-03511/

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Taliban kill 22 Afghan forces in attack on checkpoints

17 March 2019

An overnight Taliban assault on checkpoints in northern Afghanistan killed 22 troops, after some 100 Afghan forces fled a similar assault in the country’s west last week and tried to cross into neighboring Turkmenistan, officials said Sunday.

The two battles mark the latest setbacks for the country’s battered security forces, who come under daily attack by the insurgents and have suffered staggering casualties in recent years. The attacks have continued even as the Taliban have been holding direct negotiations with the United States aimed at ending the 17-year war.

Mohammad Tahir Rahmani, head of provincial council in the northern Faryab province, said the insurgents launched the attack late Saturday against checkpoints manned by police and pro-government militias, setting off a fierce gunbattle that lasted into Sunday morning. The army sent in reinforcements, who were among those killed.

He said another 20 Afghan forces were wounded in the attack.

Last week, around 100 Afghan soldiers in the western Badghis province fled their posts and tried to cross the border during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, officials said Sunday.

Mohammad Naser Nazari, a provincial council member in Badghis, said the soldiers weren’t allowed to cross the border and their fate remains unknown. The Taliban have posted pictures of captured soldiers on social media.

Jamshid Shahabi, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said 16 soldiers have been killed and 20 wounded during the ongoing battle in the Bala Murghab district, in which the military carried out airstrikes and dispatched reinforcements. He said a number of soldiers tried to flee, without providing an exact figure.

Shahabi said more than 40 insurgents were killed in the fighting. He said the provincial police chief and army commander are in the district and instructing the forces to root out insurgents and rescue soldiers. Officials said the fighting had largely subsided by Sunday, with sporadic clashes breaking out in remote areas.

Nazari provided a higher toll, saying 50 soldiers were killed and around 100 others were missing. He said hundreds of local residents have gathered in front of the Badghis governor’s office to express their concerns about security in the province.

He said Bala Murghab is almost completely controlled by the Taliban, with Afghan forces confined to the district headquarters.

In a separate development on Sunday, an Islamic State affiliate claimed the killing of a local TV journalist in the eastern Khost province. The group did not say why it targeted Sultan Mahmoud Khirkhowa, a reporter with the local Zhman TV and radio, who was killed Friday when two men on a motorcycle opened fire on his vehicle. Another Afghan reporter was wounded in a targeted bombing last week in the southern Helmand province.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/17/Taliban-captures-50-border-police-as-fighting-intensifies-in-western-Afghanistan.html

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11 Taliban militants killed, 2 suicide vests, house-borne IED destroyed in Kunduz

17 Mar 2019

At least 11 Taliban militants were killed, 2 suicide bombing vests and a house-borne Improvised Explosive Device were destroyed during the operations of Afghan Special Forces and airstrike in northern Kunduz province.

According to informed military sources, the Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Charah Darah district killing 11 Taliban fighters and wounding 2 others.

The sources further added that 2 suicide vests, 15 pressure plate IEDs, 100 pounds of homemade explosives and a small weapons cache were destroyed.

Additionally, a house-borne IED was destroyed by an air strike, the sources added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the operation so far.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/11-taliban-militants-killed-2-suicide-vests-house-borne-ied-destroyed-in-kunduz-03509/

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India

 

Asian Church leader denounces New Zealand mosque shootings

March 16, 2019

Chiang Mai, March 15, 2019: The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has denounced the shooting in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 49 people and wounded 20 others.

“No matter what faith we adhere or ethnicity we belong to, everybody should be able to live in an atmosphere where peace and security is prevailed and sustained; any act of violence must be prevented with all possible efforts,” said CCA secretary general Reverend Mathews George Chunakara, responding to the March 15 incidents.

The shootings occurred in the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Masjid at 1:40 pm New Zealand time (6 am India) during a Friday afternoon prayer

“We send our heart-felt support to all those who have been affected; we offer prayers to Almighty God for the victims, their families and reach out through our grief and distress to our Islamic brothers and sisters in New Zealand,” Reverend Chunakara said in his message.

He further added that CCA shares the sentiments of Reverend Nicola Teague Grundy, vice president of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, who said, “To single out one group of people as a focus of an act of hatred affects us all. There is no place ever for this type of attack on people, and we stand by all people, no matter what their faith. All people should be able to worship and live in a place of safety.”

Recalling the prophetic affirmation that “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (Micah 4:4), the CCA General Secretary urged: “Let us pray fervently that God will take those killed into His merciful arms and grant them eternal rest. Let there be peace in the hearts of all those who are shattered by this awful tragedy that has destroyed a rather peaceful setting in a religiously tolerant country like New Zealand.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden called the incident “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the incident a “rightwing extremist attack” and said one suspect was Australian-born.

http://mattersindia.com/2019/03/asian-church-leader-denounces-new-zealand-mosque-shootings/

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Soldier killed, 3 injured in ceasefire violation in J&K’s Rajouri district

Mar 18, 2019

An Army soldier was killed in cease violation by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Monday.

Pakistani forces resorted to firing from small arms and shelling mortars in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district.

“A soldier was martyred and three others were injured in ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Keri Battal area of Akhnoor this morning,” said an Army source.

Earlier, Defence spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand had said that at around 5.30 am, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling with mortars and firing of small arms along LoC in Sunderbani Sector.

He said Indian Army retaliated effectively and the firing stopped at 0715 hours.

Earlier, on 6:30 pm on Sunday Pakistani troops violated ceasefire triggering a strong response from the Indian Army. This came after Pakistan on Wednesday violated ceasefire in Poonch sector of the state.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/soldier-killed-3-injured-in-ceasefire-violation-in-j-k-s-rajouri-district/story-rd5oZhOZdJJ4ATlyAXrjLL.html

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Customs station approved to speed up Kartarpur work

Mar 18, 2019

Rajeev Jayaswal

India has approved a customs station in Punjab’s Dera Baba Nanak as part of its efforts to expeditiously operationalise the proposed corridor for Sikh pilgrims to visit the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, according to officials aware the development.

The Union finance ministry’s approval on Friday came a day after Indian and Pakistani officials met at Wagah and agreed to go forward with the border crossing for the pilgrims despite tensions between the two countries.

The tensions escalated after a car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district left 40 CRPF men dead on February 14. India responded with an air strike on a terror camp across the border on February 26 after Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan retaliated a day later and triggered air combat between the two nations over the skies of Kashmir.

The officials cited above said India is keen to complete the project before Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November. The Union home ministry earlier designated an immigration checkpoint at Dera Baba Nanak last month. The developments show India’s earnestness to finish the project expeditiously and be prepared for the next meeting of Indian and Pakistani technical experts over the issue on Tuesday, the officials added.

The next official-level talks over the corridor between the two countries are scheduled on April 2 at Wagah near the India-Pakistan border. Islamabad’s attempt to shift the goalposts at the first such meeting on Thursday irked New Delhi.

HT reported on Saturday that Pakistan seeks to put a cap on the number of pilgrims using the corridor and wants a paid permit system, which is contrary to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initial announcement of visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to the holy shrine.

The Indian officials cited above said the approval for the customs station shows India’s commitment to operationalise the corridor despite Pakistan’s dithering approach over the easy access to Indian pilgrims. The Union cabinet last year gave its nod for the corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib a few kilometers from the Indian border in Kartarpur. Guru Nanak spent 18 years of his life at the gurdwara.

The government had said the corridor would be implemented as an integrated development project with central funding to provide smooth and easy passage to the pilgrims with all the modern amenities.India and Pakistan on November 15 announced that they would build the corridor on their respective sides for visa-free access. The four-lane corridor will have a service road and other amenities like state-of-the-art passenger terminal building.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/customs-station-approved-to-speed-up-kartarpur-work/story-3pi1gWumHv3ktCpCscupYI.html

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Masood Azhar issue will be resolved, says Chinese envoy

Mar 17, 2019

China’s block on a fresh move to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the UN Security Council is aimed at further consultations on the issue that “will be resolved”, Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui said on Sunday.

Indian officials have expressed disappointment at China’s decision on March 13 to place a “hold” on the move spearheaded by France, the US and Britain to list Azhar as a global terrorist with the UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

The JeM has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and led to escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters during an event organised at the Chinese embassy to mark Holi, Luo indicated that China understands India’s concerns regarding the issue. “Regarding the Masood case, we fully understand and fully believe this matter, [which is a] concern from your side, we understand that and [we’re] optimistic [and] quite sure this matter will be resolved,” he said.

“And this is only technical holding and that means it leaves time for continued consultation. The issue will be resolved, believe me.”

Luo sought to emphasise the positive impact on bilateral ties of last year’s informal summit at Wuhan between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“After the Wuhan summit last year, the two-way cooperation is on the right track, the fast track. We are so satisfied with that cooperation, with that progress. I’m quite optimistic about future cooperation,” he said.

Indian officials had believed the so-called “Wuhan spirit” could lead to a change in China’s position on the sanctioning of Azhar, especially as Beijing had signed on for a strongly worded condemnation by the UN Security Council of the Pulwama terror attack.

This is the fourth time that China has blocked efforts by various countries to sanction Azhar at the UN Security Council. The latest move had received unprecedented global support in wake of the Pulwama attack.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/masood-azhar-issue-will-be-resolved-says-chinese-envoy/story-lgGvqN9m0yXMxPHoZmN3rN.html

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1 more Indian confirmed dead in New Zealand mosque attack, toll 8

Mar 18, 2019

HYDERABAD: A 25-year-old student from Telangana was among those killed in the terror attack in New Zealand+ ’s Christchurch, taking the number of Indians and persons of Indian origin who died in the massacre to eight.

Ozair Khadir, 25, who belonged to Hyderabad, is the third person from Telangana to have been killed in the attack. The Indian high commissioner’s office in New Zealand confirmed his death on Sunday. He was killed in Masjid Al Noor, one of the two mosques that were attacked by Australian gunman Brenton Tarrant.

Khadir wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps and was studying aeronautical engineering in New Zealand. Khadir’s parents have left for the island country. His father was in Saudi Arabia when he heard the news.

Ozair Khadir’s relative Aamir Ali had tweeted that the family had lost contact with him since the New Zealand shootout on Friday. The high commissioner’s office had responded saying that it was aware and was following it up with the New Zealand police.

“Once we get confirmed information, we will share,” the high commissioner’s office had said on Saturday.

Apart from Khadir, Mohammed Imran Khan of Karimnagar and Farhaj Ahsan of Hyderabad were also killed in the terror attacks.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/1-more-indian-confirmed-dead-in-new-zealand-mosque-attack-toll-8/articleshow/68456885.cms

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Southeast Asia

 

Committee on peace, inter-religious unity to be set up, says minister

18 March 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― A special committee comprising religious and NGO leaders is to be set up to bring home the message of peace and inter-racial and inter-religious unity, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said yesterday.

He said he will meet religious leaders and the heads of NGOs today on the setting up of the committee.

“First of all, we will condemn incidents such as the shootings at the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday which resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people.

“Secondly, we want to bring home the message of peace which we want to safeguard.

“Although hatred has reached the extent of killings, we have to maintain the message of peace that Islam brings,” he told reporters after opening a Women’s Day 2019 seminar at the Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM), here. ― Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/18/committee-on-peace-inter-religious-unity-to-be-set-up-says-minister/1733743

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Lawmaker calls for banning Australian senator from entering Indonesia

March 17, 2019

House of Representatives’ lawmaker Charles Honoris is calling for the government to ban Australian Senator Fraser Anning from entering Indonesia because of his controversial comments about the recent shootings in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 50 people, including an Indonesian citizen.

”As I condemned the terrorist acts in two mosques in Christchurch, I also strongly condemned the official statement of Senator Fraser Anning of Queensland who basically assumed that terrorism against mosques was a price worth paying [by] Muslims and that Islam is an 'ideology of violence',” Charles said on Saturday evening.

“On behalf of all the peaceful Indonesian people, I ask the Indonesian government to ban Anning from entering Indonesian territory for any reason so that he cannot bring the perspective that can divide religious communities,” Charles, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician at the House's Commission I on defense and foreign affairs, said.

Anning previously drew international condemnation for his efforts to blame the attack on immigration, AFP reported.

Amid the controversy, an unnamed young man, in a protest against his offensive remarks, threw an egg at the far-right Australian senator during an event in Melbourne, prompting the senator to hit him in the face repeatedly before being stopped by what appeared to be a security guard, according to AFP.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has described Anning's comments as “appalling” and “ugly” with “no place in Australia”.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/03/17/lawmaker-calls-for-banning-australian-senator-from-entering-indonesia.html

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Dr M: Act of violence in Christchurch inhuman

17 March 2019

SEREMBAN, March 17 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has described the act of killing Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand two days ago as inhuman.

Describing the incident as a sad one that touched the hearts of Muslims, he said that in such a situation, an even worse act that could be committed by terrorists would be Muslims taking revenge.

“We need to ask ourselves when we take revenge for the act, certainly we cannot do it to the killers because they have been caught and were facing legal action.

“It is highly possible that what will happen is that we will take revenge on people of the same religion, race, history and other aspects that we can link to the terrorists,” he said at the official opening of the 2019 National Level Al-Quran Recital and Memorisation Gathering, here tonight.

Also present at the event were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad, Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun as well as State Exco members.

So far, the New Zealand authorities had confirmed 49 dead in the terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch when Muslims wanted to perform the Friday prayers and more than 20 people were reported injured.

Commenting further, Dr Mahathir said the al-Quran gave guidance in prohibiting and making several activities mandatory for its followers which would lead to the development of noble values if they were observed.

“Among the teachings found in the al-Quran is that Islam prohibits killing even if the people to be killed are non-Muslims, but Islam prohibits us from killing. But unfortunately we see that Muslims are at war even among themselves, making enemies of others and frequently killing in various places to the extent that the Muslim communities are destroyed in many Muslim countries.

“This happens because while we read the al-Quran, we don’t practice its teachings that killing is banned and that we should not kill,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that such acts would lead to revenge against the Muslims as what happened in Christchurch which killed innocent people.

“If we kill among the Muslims, then we will be placed in hell forever. The belief that we will be go to heaven because we purportedly go to war for religious purposes is incorrect as contained in the al-Quran. In Islam, it is clearly stated that if we kill another Muslim deliberately, then our place is in hell.

“We are not saving the Muslims, in fact we are exposing the Muslims as what we see is happening in New Zealand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir urged the Muslims in this country to practice islamic lifestyle and appreciate the al-Quran.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/17/dr-m-act-of-violence-in-christchurch-inhuman/1733685

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Religious segregation: ‘Corrective’ action ordered at Sabah school

Robin Augustin and Ainaa Aiman

March 17, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Sabah education officials are to visit a secondary school in Kota Kinabalu tomorrow (Monday) for “corrective action” on segregation of pupils by religion.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching told FMT that the ministry had requested that the state education department take action to “correct” the segregation of Muslim and non-Muslims, and urged school administrators to be more sensitive and careful in running their schools.

It was reported yesterday that Form One students at the secondary school had been placed in classes according to their religion. An online petition against the school’s decision has collected more than 12,300 signatures in the three days since it was opened.

Pupils were segregated in January, with four classes reserved for non-Muslim students and two more for Muslim students in an arrangement supposed to be in place for the next three years.

Teo said segregation of students by religion was only acceptable for Islamic and Moral classes, and even then, only for the purpose of easing the study process.

“There is the bigger agenda of unity in our schooling system,” she said.

Parent’s group up in arms

A parents’ association group has called for proper investigation into the matter.

“There must be seriousness in the Ministry of Education and amongst our religious and political leaders to tackle such issues, so they do not escalate into hatefulness, bigotry and extremist behaviour,” said Tunku Munawirah Putra of Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia.

Tunku Munawirah urged teachers to understand that their actions may cause disunity and breed intolerance. “Narrow understanding of race and religion can be dangerous. It can lead to bigotry, hatred and worse, criminal activity.”

The school’s segregation action was also likened by an academician as “killing a fly with a sledgehammer”.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia, who has conducted research into religious tolerance, said many studies had shown that more interaction across ethnic and religious lines would make people more tolerant.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/03/17/corrective-action-for-sabah-school-segregating-students-by-religion/

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Sarawak council chief urges thought leaders not to provoke religious friction

8 March 2019

By Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, March 18 ― Sarawak Woman and Family Council (SWFC) today called upon all opinion leaders across the globe, such as politicians, community leaders, and civil societies, not to incite hatred by demonising Islam or any other faith.

Chairman Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said they instead should unhesitatingly condemn extremism in all its forms, including the recent shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 Muslims and injured dozens of others.

“No race or religion should be subject to fear and bigotry anywhere ― no school, home, or workplace should breed such harmful attitudes,” she said.

“All should be safe to pray safely whether it is in a mosque, church, temple, synagogue, or in their own homes,” she told reporters after addressing the Interfaith Forum held in conjunction with the International Harmony Week here.

Fatimah, who is also Sarawak’s minister of welfare, community wellbeing, women, family and childhood development, said people should not judge one another by one's race or beliefs, or the colour of their skin or where they are from.

“Nor let us condemn a community due to the actions of a few,” she said.

“Outraged as we are by the terrible massacre in Christchurch our reactions need to be ones which break the polarization and hate which is trying to divide communities.

“This is the time for us all to unite across faiths and work to stop violence and replace it with understanding and respect,” she said, adding that people should never allow hatred and anger against Muslims or other faiths take root in their hearts.

Fatimah said SWFC condemns in the strongest terms the senseless, cold-blooded act of terror on the shootings inside two mosques in Christchurch.

“We pray for the souls of the dead and for the speedy recovery of those injured. We also pray for all who have been traumatized by this horrendous act.

“We hope that they find the strength and support they need to face this tragedy and work through the psychological pain it has caused,” she added.

She said SWFC applauded the New Zealand government determination to maintain the unity, diversity and peace for which the country is known, believing that the New Zealanders willl do all in their power to bring all the perpetrators of this massacre to justice.

“They have experienced a heinous crime of unimaginable proportion in two mosques violating the sanctity of these places of worship,” she said.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/18/sarawak-council-chief-urges-thought-leaders-not-to-provoke-religious-fricti/1733834

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Mideast

 

Israeli court issues decision to close al-Aqsa Mosque’s Bab al-Rahma prayer area

Mar 17, 2019

An Israeli court has ordered the temporary closure of Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) prayer area at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds amid recent tensions surrounding the highly sensitive holy site.

The Jerusalem al-Quds Magistrate's Court announced on Sunday that it had accepted a request by Israeli officials to close the gate while the case continues.

The Islamic Waqf (Endowment) Organization, which manages the compound's affairs, was also granted 60 days to appeal the decision.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Waqf Council, said the council does not recognize the Israeli court’s decision regarding Bab al-Rahma, and that it is an integral part of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The Waqf said in a statement on Saturday that it wants to carry out renovations at the building, but will keep it open during that time for Palestinians who wish to pray there.

It further noted that far-right Israeli settlers were seeking to take over Bab al-Rahma.

Prayer area of the al-Rahma Gate was closed on February 25 upon an order by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and reopened the following day.

Israel had closed the gate that leads to the prayer space in al-Aqsa Mosque since 2003 in the face of the Second Intifada (uprising) against the regime’s occupation.

On February 22, however, the Waqf council decided to re-open the prayer space at the Bab al-Rahma Gate in defiance of Israel’s 16-year-old ban. Hundreds of worshipers, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Quds Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, entered the area for the first time since 2003 for Friday prayers.

Angered by the move, the Tel Aviv regime launched an arrest campaign against Palestinians.

The arrests drew criticisms from Palestinians and Jordan, which is the custodian of the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Islamic Waqf organizations and Palestinian institutions have insisted on keeping the Bab al-Rahma prayer area open for Muslim worship.

Palestinians have repeatedly warned of Israeli attempts to change the status quo of the al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/17/591275/Israeli-court-Aqsa-Mosques-Bab-alRahma-prayer-area

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Israel’s top court disqualifies far-rightist, approves Arab party for ballot

18 March 2019

Israel’s top court disqualified on Sunday a far-right Jewish politician from next month’s national election and approved the candidacy of a disputed Arab party, overturning March 6 decisions by the election board, a court statement said.

The Supreme Court rulings were widely expected and unlikely to shake Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to craft a rightist alliance that might secure him a record fifth term.

But they deepened the vitriol of a campaign in which his camp has cast itself as the victim of judicial over-reach and media bias, and has in turn been accused by center-left rivals of race-baiting and fear-mongering.

The court found in favor of appellants who argued that Michael Ben-Ari of the Jewish Power party had displayed anti-Arab racism. That view was backed by Israel’s attorney-general.

Other members of Jewish Power, a small faction that is part of an ultra-nationalist list which last month forged an election alliance with Netanyahu’s Likud party, remain eligible to run.

The Central Elections Committee, a monitoring body made up of delegates of parties in the current parliament, last month approved Ben-Ari’s candidacy while disqualifying Raam-Balad, a joint party list representing some of Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority.

Israel has in the past prosecuted two Balad figures for contacts with Palestinian militants and accused a former party leader of helping Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon war.

The court voided the ban on Raam-Balad, a mix of Islamists and Arab nationalists which describes itself as a democratic movement.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a fellow rightist in Netanyahu’s outgoing coalition, said in a statement that the court’s blocking of Ben-Ari “while declaring terror-backing parties kosher is a crass and misguided interference in the heart of Israeli democracy.”

Netanyahu’s bid for reelection has been challenged by a centrist newcomer, former armed forces chief Benny Gantz. Their escalating exchanges of allegations have included corruption, bigotry, forsaking national security and abetting Israel’s foes.

The premier’s partnership with Jewish Power also drew rare censure from the US pro-Israel lobby and normally staunch Netanyahu backer AIPAC, which branded the party “racist and reprehensible.”

A poll aired by public broadcaster Kan on Sunday put Likud narrowly in the lead to form the next coalition government with a projected 31 of parliament’s 120 seats against 30 for Gantz’s Blue and White party.

If re-elected, Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest-serving premier in July. That bid was dealt an unprecedented blow last month when Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced a plan to indict Netanyahu for bribery and breach of trust.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and could forestall formal charges in a review hearing after the election.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/18/Israel-s-top-court-disqualifies-far-rightist-approves-Arab-party-for-ballot.html

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Palestinian kills Israeli soldier in West Bank knife and gun attack

17 March 2019

A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier to death in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and used his rifle to wound another soldier and a Jewish settler before escaping, Israeli officials said.

The incident began at an intersection near Ariel, a large settlement, where the Palestinian, having carried out the stabbing and grabbed the slain soldier’s gun, fired at three vehicles, hitting a civilian, the Israeli military said.

He then hijacked a car, driving it to another nearby junction where he shot a second soldier before continuing on to a nearby Palestinian village.

It was not immediately clear if more than one assailant was involved. Settler officials identified the wounded civilian as a local rabbi. Hospital officials said he was in critical condition.

In public remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of several assailants, saying: “Security forces are pursuing the attackers. I am certain they will be apprehended.”

The Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the West Bank attack as a “natural response to crimes committed by the Israeli occupation”. The statement stopped short of a claim of responsibility.

In southern Gaza, the attack was announced over mosque loudspeakers and Hamas activists handed out sweets to passersby in celebration.

The Israeli military said it did not yet know if the attacker was affiliated with any organization.

Palestinians, many of them individuals without known associations with militant groups, carried out a wave of attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016, but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/17/Palestinian-kills-Israeli-soldier-in-West-Bank-knife-and-gun-attack.html

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UN envoy says Hamas violently suppressed Gaza protests

17 March 2019

A United Nations envoy condemned Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas on Sunday, accusing the group of violently suppressing peaceful protests.

Since Thursday hundreds of Palestinians have taken to the streets in multiple locations throughout the Gaza Strip, protesting the rising cost of living in the Palestinian enclave.

Dozens have been arrested, including journalists and human rights workers, with security forces using violence to break up the demonstrations, according to rights groups.

“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days,” UN envoy to Israel and the Palestinian territories Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

“I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights and the raiding of homes.”

“The long-suffering people of Gaza were protesting the dire economic situation and demanded an improvement in the quality of life in the Gaza Strip. It is their right to protest without fear of reprisal.”

Hamas, which has not yet commented on Mladenov’s accusations, has controlled Gaza since pushing out rivals Fatah in 2007.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/17/UN-envoy-says-Hamas-violently-suppressed-Gaza-protests-.html

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Israeli court orders closure of building at tense Jerusalem holy site

17 March 2019

An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the temporary closure of a side building at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site that has been the source of tensions in recent weeks.

The Jerusalem magistrates court said the building known as the Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy or Golden Gate) at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, should be closed while the case continues.

The site’s administrator, the Waqf religious organization, was given 60 days to respond to the court case involving the building.

Israeli police have called for the building to be closed.

There are believed to be discussions ongoing between Israel and Jordan, the custodian of the holy site, over the status of the building.

There have in recent weeks been scuffles between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police at the site in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem over the use of the side building.

Palestinian worshippers have been entering the site and praying there despite an Israeli order that it should stay closed.

Israel shut access to the Golden Gate in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada over alleged militant activity there.

Palestinian officials argue that the organization that prompted the ban no longer exists and there is no reason for it to remain closed.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/17/Israel-court-orders-closure-of-building-at-tense-Jerusalem-holy-site.html

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Rouhani: Iran will file legal case against US for sanctions

March 18, 2019

LONDON: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that US sanctions against Iran were “crimes against humanity” and said Tehran would file a legal case against US officials for imposing difficulties on the nation.

Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television that the US sanctions have affected the value of Iran’s rial currency and increased inflation, but said the government would overcome the difficulties.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1468401/middle-east

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Africa

 

Takfiri militants kill 16 soldiers in attack on army base in Mali

Mar 17, 2019

Gunmen attacked and briefly seized a Malian army base overnight, killing at least 16 soldiers and destroying five vehicles in central Mali's Mopti region, two local councilors in the area where the attack happened said on Sunday.

The base is in the village of Dioura, the mayor of the nearest town Kareri, Youssouf Coulibaly, told Reuters by telephone from inside it. Central Mali has in the past few years been overrun by Takfiris with links to al-Qaeda.

"I'm currently inside the base and there were many deaths here. We've counted 16 so far," he said. Army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone confirmed the attack but gave no further details.

Violence by Takfiri groups has worsened almost every year since it first exploded in Mali in 2012, when Takfiris and allied Tuareg rebels took over the north and advanced towards the capital Bamako, until a French-led intervention pushed them back the following year.

Groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh used central and northern Mali as a launch pad for growing numbers of attacks across the Sahel region, especially on neighbors Niger and Burkina Faso, despite the presence of 4,500 French troops.

Central Mali is the locus of the Macina Liberation Front, led by Salafist preacher and militant leader Amadou Koufa.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly claimed in November that Koufa had been killed in a raid by French forces.

But at the end of last month Koufa appeared in a new propaganda video mocking French and Malian forces.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/17/591270/Africa-Mali-alQaeda-Militants

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Fresh rallies against Al-Bashir as Sudan secures $300M loans

March 17, 2019

CAIRO: Hundreds of Sudanese took part in anti-government protests in the capital and other cities on Sunday as the government announced it had secured $300 million in loans to address the economic crisis that triggered the unrest.

The demonstrations began in December over price hikes and food shortages, and quickly escalated into calls for President Omar Al-Bashir to step down, posing one of the biggest challenges yet to his nearly 30-year rule. Security forces have responded with a fierce crackdown that has killed dozens of people.

The rallies are being led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of independent professional unions. Footage posted online showed dozens of people marching in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, chanting: “Freedom, dignity and justice.” In some videos, security forces are seen using tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

Also Sunday, dozens of families demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the National Intelligence and Security Service in Khartoum, calling for the release of detained relatives, according to activists who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.

A leading Sudanese geneticist was among those arrested. Muntasir Ibrahim, who heads the University of Khartoum’s Institute of Endemic Diseases, was arrested on Feb. 21 from a mosque in the capital, said his son, Gassim Ibrahim.

Ibrahim said his father and other university professors had drafted an initiative for a peaceful transition of power. Police previously arrested his father on two occasions in January.

There was no immediate comment from authorities on Sunday’s protests and a government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Sunday’s demonstrations took place as a US congress delegation is visiting Sudan to meet with government officials and opposition leaders, ahead of the start of a second phase of dialogue between the two countries.

Sudanese lawmaker Mutwakil Ahmed said in a statement the US delegation, led by Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, a Republican from Florida, met with Salah Gosh, the head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services and other officials on Saturday to discuss religious freedoms in Sudan, as well the country’s counterterrorism efforts.

In 2017, the US lifted decades-long sanctions, arguing that Sudan is making progress in areas of concern, including improving humanitarian access. The State Department last year agreed to a second phase of rapprochement with Sudan, laying out priorities to reconcile the two nations which have been at odds for nearly three decades.

At the time, no specific timeline was placed for the removal of the terrorism designation which was first placed on Sudan by the Clinton administration in 1993.

Meanwhile Sunday, the state-run SUNA news service reported that the Finance Ministry secured a $230 million loan from the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund to support the country’s balance of payments.

It said the ministry signed another deal worth $70 million with the Arab Trade Financing Program, which is also based in the Emirati capital.

Al-Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, has responded to the protests by suspending plans for constitutional amendments that would allow him to seek a new term in next year’s elections. He has also stepped down as leader of the ruling party, appointing a loyalist in his place.

Critics say he is trying to buy time and remain in power. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for charges of genocide linked to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1468046/middle-east

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Tunisia seeks extradition of Ben Ali brother-in-law from France

17 March 2019

Tunisia said Sunday it is seeking the extradition of deposed president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s brother-in-law, who has been arrested in France and is wanted at home for alleged fraud.

The justice ministry, in a statement received by AFP, said it had learned from the Interpol office in Tunis that Belhassen Trabelsi was arrested on Thursday in France.

It said he was facing 17 arrest warrants in Tunisia and 43 international warrants.

There was no official confirmation in France of Trabelsi’s arrest.

But a source close to the investigation said he had been detained in the south of the country earlier this week in connection with alleged financial wrongdoing. There were no further details.

The millionaire businessman and brother of Ben Ali’s wife Leila Trabelsi left Tunisia in January 2011 when the Arab Spring uprising forced the veteran leader to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Trabelsi and his family flew in a private jet to Montreal where he requested political asylum but Canada turned down his appeal in 2015, and a year later as it prepared to deport him he vanished.

He is wanted in Tunisia where he is thought to have headed a clan that embezzled government funds.

A leaked June 2008 US diplomatic cable concluded that Trabelsi was “the most notorious (Ben Ali) family member and is rumored to have been involved in a wide-range of corrupt schemes”.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/03/17/Tunisia-seeks-extradition-of-Ben-Ali-brother-in-law-from-France.html

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At least eight dead as gunmen storm Mali army camp

17 March 2019

At least eight people were killed on Sunday in a raid by suspected extremists on an army camp in central Mali, military and security sources said, warning the toll could rise.

Driving cars and motorbikes, the attackers stormed Dioura army camp in the Mopti region at dawn, leaving “many soldiers dead or missing”, a military source said.

Separately a Malian security source spoke of “a heavy toll of at least eight dead.”

“There are dead soldiers, others are missing and still others are wounded,” he said, but could not confirm reports from local villagers that up to 15 troops had died.

A second military source said the troops had tried to fight off the attackers.

“Our men responded. I saw at least four bodies on the ground. We don’t have an exact toll yet but there is a lot of damage,” he said.

A foreign security source said efforts were under way to determine how many people had died.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/17/At-least-8-dead-as-gunmen-storm-Mali-army-camp.html

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Yemeni forces kill Saudi, Sudanese troopers in Saudi Arabia

Mar 17, 2019

Yemeni forces have killed nearly 40 Saudi and Sudanese soldiers during two separate operations in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region, in retaliation for the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen.

Brigadier General Yahya Saree, the spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces, said on Sunday that at least 11 Saudi soldiers and 26 Sudanese troops had been killed in Saudi Arabia’s provinces of Jizan and Najran over the past hours, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah reported.

The Yemeni forces targeted military positions across the region following the gathering and analysis of intelligence, he added.

Saree also said Saudi-paid militiamen suffered heavy losses when Yemeni army soldiers and allied fighters from Popular Committees repelled their attacks in some parts of Hudaydah and al-Rabuah provinces.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 with the goal of bringing a former regime that had been submissive to Riyadh back to power.

Sudan has contributed forces to the invading coalition.

A number of Western countries — the US and Britain in particular — supply that coalition with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed, while thousands more have been injured.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/17/591312/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-Sudan-Jizan-Najran

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North America

 

Trump stance on Muslims, Fox host in spotlight

March 18, 2019

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump on Sunday championed a Fox News personality who made anti-Muslim remarks as his White House rejected any attempt to link the US leader to a shooter who killed 50 people in two New Zealand mosques.

The violence against Muslims in New Zealand on Friday put a spotlight on Trump’s rhetoric about Islam and revived criticism of his handling of white supremacist violence.

“Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro,” Trump wrote in Twitter posts in which he blamed Democrats for trying to “silence a majority of our Country” and advocated supporters to “stop working soooo hard on being politically correct.”

At the same time, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared on Sunday television news shows to tamp down criticism that Trump has not been strong enough in condemning hate speech and has fomented anti-Muslim sentiment.

“The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday”.

On Friday, Trump condemned the “horrible massacre” at the mosques and the White House called the shooting a “vicious act of hate". Asked by a reporter if he saw white nationalism as a rising threat around the world, Trump said: “I don’t really. I think its a small group of people.”

The accused gunman praised Trump in a manifesto as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Mulvaney said the mosque massacres were the work of a disturbed individual and it would not be fair to align the shooter with Trump or any other politician.

“I disagree that there’s a causal link between Donald Trump being president and something like this happening in New Zealand,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation".

https://www.dawn.com/news/1470357/trump-stance-on-muslims-fox-host-in-spotlight

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Iran main force against US-Israel-Saudi alliance in Mideast: Analyst

Mar 17, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming trip to the Middle East is yet another attempt by the United States to shore up support for anti-Iran projects it has long been running with help from its "Zionist and Saudi" allies in the region, an American analyst says.

Pompeo will fly to the Middle East on Tuesday, stopping first in Kuwait before heading to Israel and Lebanon.

Keith Preston, director of Attackthesystem.com, said Washington was trying to strengthen the alliance between the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel -- what he referred to as the "Atlanticist-Zionist-Wahhabi" alliance-- in order to push back against Iran, which is the main force keeping them from taking full control of the region.

Saudi Arabia and some other Arab governments in the Persian Gulf region “have a common objective in opposing the influence of Iran in the region.”

“Obviously Iran is the primary bulwark against the greater Israel, against Israeli expansionism and of course, the (Persian) Gulf states have wanted to expand the region a well and at this point they see Iran as the primary obstacle to that,” he added.

That is how those countries have been running all sorts of plots such as financing Daesh and other Takfiri groups to take out Syria, their other rival in the region, the analyst argued.

“So once again, there is a convergence between the interests of the Gulf monarchies, between the Israelis and between the Americans in trying to eliminate any kind of political autonomy that nay Middle Eastern nation might have,” he added.

The reason, according to Preston, is “because the Americans, the Saudis and Israeli have been largely successful in destroying many other nations in the region.”

Pompeo made a similar trip to the region in January to try to forge a unified Arab front against Iran, a dream that has brought together even Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Pompeo’s main objective in the tour was laying the groundwork for the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a concept similar to an Arab NATO. Trump first floated the idea of forging MESA during his visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/17/591313/US-Pompeo-Iran-Israel-Saudi

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US denies report 1,000 troops to remain in Syria

Michael Hernandez  

18.03.2019

WASHINGTON

The U.S.'s top general denied Sunday a report suggesting the military plans to keep roughly half of its 2,000 troops stationed in Syria following a withdrawal President Donald Trump described in December as immediate and complete.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford called the reported new force numbers "factually incorrect," insisting there has been no change to the planned 400 troops the White House announced last month.

"Further, we continue to conduct detailed military planning with the Turkish General Staff to address Turkish security concerns along the Turkey-Syria border," Dunford said in a statement. "Planning to date has been productive and we have an initial concept that will be refined in the coming days."

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the day that ongoing negotiations between the U.S., Turkey and European allies over a potential safe zone in northeastern Syria -- a key element of Trump's departure plan -- have yet to lead to a conclusive agreement.

The newspaper said the U.S. is now seeking to continue its cooperation with the YPG-led SDF despite Turkey's warnings that it will conduct a cross-border operation against the PKK's Syrian offshoot.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S. and Turkey.

That could lead to as many as 1,000 American troops remaining in northeastern Syria, the newspaper reported citing anonymous American officials.

U.S. partners forces are currently fighting the Daesh terrorist group in its last remaining bastion in Baghouz, Syria, and after the battle the U.S. is expecting to begin withdrawing "hundreds" of troops, according to the journal.

The White House announced in February that the administration is planning to keep roughly 200 American troops in northeastern Syria as part of an international peacekeeping force, in addition to 200 troops that were supposed to be used to secure a garrison at a strategic Syrian border town.

A military official told the journal that the White House's numbers "had no basis in military planning." And a senior official called the U.S. withdrawal "substantial," but stressed final force figures "are neither determined nor approved."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-denies-report-1-000-troops-to-remain-in-syria/1421165

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