Photo: Community hall: St Paul’s community hall was the original church and now hosts a variety of activities including Muslim prayers
Yemen Thanks Saudi Arabia and UAE for Helping Lift Taiz Siege
Dhaka Cafe Attack Hero’s Mom: He’s Icon for Many
A West Australian Christian Church Hosts Muslim Prayers
Muslim Prayer Call Ban in Israel Blasted As 'An Attempt to Erase the Religion'
Radio Station Broadcasts Emotional Calls from Iraqis Trapped By IS In Mosul
External Audits Is the Way Forward For Islamic Finance
Iraqi Troops Face Stiff Resistance From IS In Eastern Mosul
Syrian Army Scores More Victories against Terrorists in Southwestern Damascus
Syria: Army-Led Popular Forces Getting Ready to Start Liberation Operation in Deir Ezzur
Syrian Air Force Destroys Terrorists' Largest Arms Depot in Aleppo
Syrian Army Ready to Start Fresh Operation to Liberate Key Town South of Aleppo
Spokesman: Manbij Military Council Ready to Confront ISIL, Turkish Invaders
Report: Hezbollah Sending More Fighters to Syria to Help Army in Aleppo, Idlib Battles
Syrian Army Continues to Advance against Terrorists East of Aleppo City
Heavy fighting in Yemen despite new ceasefire
Arab Israelis, Gazans protest against ‘quiet mosques’ bill
Mecca-Medina rail link: Spanish firms reach deal with Saudi
9 Taliban Militants Killed, 11 Wounded In Uruzgan Airstrike
Top Afghan General jailed for 30 months by anti-corruption tribunal
Top Haqqani network leader arrested by Afghan intelligence operatives
NATO Deputy Secretary General reaffirms long term support to Afghanistan
India reaffirms support to restore Afghanistan’s role as land bridge of the region
Suicide bomber shot dead before target crowded market in Badakhshan
Bangladesh prevents 125 Rohingya Muslims from entering country
Zakir Naik Booked Under UAPA, His NGO Offices Raided
RBI Proposes ‘Islamic Window’ In Banks for Gradual Introduction of Sharia Banking
TMC with Muslim Clerics on Talaq
10l May Gather For 69th Islamic Congregation
Security forces kill one terrorist in J&K's Pulwama; gunfight under way
Pakistan tactical nukes can lead to N-war: Ex-national security officer
President Erdoğan: EU Not Everything, Turkey May Join Shanghai Five
Turkish soldier killed in ISIL attack in Syria
NATO lawmakers review threat from terrorism during annual session in Turkey
Iranian VP attends major Shia ritual in Iraq
Turkey’s external debt ‘controllable’ despite recent increase: Deputy PM
Nearly 250,000 Pakistanis Deported From Various Countries During 2012-2015: Report
Archbishop of Canterbury meets Aziz
Thousands of Indonesians Rally Against Racial, Religious Intolerance
Police Chief, Other Security Officials Attend Sermon At Jakarta Mosque
Men Arrested in Bekasi Help Indonesian Militants Join Islamic State: Police
Indonesia: Parents of 4-Y-O Burned in Church Bombing Say 'God Teaches Us to Forgive'
Islamic Movement in Nigeria Slams Demolition of Its Buildings
Egypt jails journalists’ union chief, two others
Pakistan Must Take More Effective Action against Terror Groups: US
Islam will grow during Trump’s govt – Muslims
Japanese group blasts idea of Muslim registry in US
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
20 NOV 2016
A West Australian church may be the first in the nation to include Muslim parishioners in its community.
A search for somewhere convenient for Friday prayers has led to an unusual joining of two communities.
Every Friday, St Paul’s Anglican Church in Beaconsfield, just outside Western Australia’s port city of Fremantle, hosts Muslim prayers in its community hall.
Fittingly, the hall was the original church.
The enterprise began shortly after Imam Faizel Chothia knocked on the door of Reverend Peter Humphries.
Mr Chothia said he had been trying to find somewhere convenient for Muslim workers to pray in the Fremantle area with little success.
“I thought to myself that it would be wonderful to pray in this beautiful church,” he said.
“It certainly has the aura of the sanctity associated with prayer, it certainly is a symbol of the divine and it’s the most appropriate place.
“I wasn’t sure how my request would be received, but thank god for Peter.”
Peter Humphries said he was delighted by the request and eager to welcome another community to the church.
“My sense, and the sense of the parish here, is that we continue to seek both the fullness of humanity and the fullness that’s revealed in the divine,” he said.
“We haven’t got it, we continue to seek it and anyone, and everyone, who wants to join in that search can only help.”
The reverend initially offered the main church for prayers, which Mr Chothia said was an honour but added he did not want to inconvenience anyone.
They settled on the community hall.
On the first day, Mr Humphries said he was thanked by one of the Muslim parishioners who said that he prayed one day all religions would be one.
Mr Humphries told him that was never his prayer.
“I said just in case the one ends up as ours,” he recalled with a laugh.
“My prayer is that there will always be a diversity of religions.
“The prayer is that we will honour each other and discover that it’s in that diversity that we’ve got life.”
Mr Chothia said despite their differences the two religions had much in common and the Islamic faith held Christian figures such as Jesus and Moses in the highest regard.
“There’s a shared empathy and a common experience,” he said.
“I think this is where we have the opportunity of benefiting from the wisdom of the other.”
Mr Chothia also saw wisdom in the religions' diversity as well.
“The Prophet (Muhammad) interestingly says the difference of opinion is the source of the greatest blessing because your ideas and your preconceived notions or orthodoxies are challenged,” he said.
“When Peter challenges me, and he’s an accomplished thinker and can make a very strong point, it forces me to question cherished beliefs and I think that’s important.”
But despite the generosity and quest for meaning between the two spiritual leaders, some of the Anglican parishioners have not welcomed the move and have left the church.
Mr Humphries said they had written to his superiors to try to get him “to tow the line”.
He said the objection was simply because they were Muslims.
“That’s almost as if that’s enough of an objection to say you shouldn’t be here,” he said.
“Well, how many people in the world are saying that?
“Gosh, we’ve even got politicians now being elected who are saying that.”
But Mr Chothia said Western Australia’s Muslim community had warmly embraced the idea.
He said the Prophet Muhammad gave Christians sanctuary for prayers at his mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia in the seventh century.
He said St Paul’s was reciprocating that gesture.
“So from the Muslim perspective it was very warmly received, there was a great celebration and fanfare to be quite honest,” he said.
“Most of the imams are quite envious of me.”
The Anglican “mosque” has also attracted international attention and tourists from places such as Malaysia have been attending.
The Muslim community has also joined the church’s yearly fete and contributes to its charity work in Nepal.
The next project is to build a water feature outside the hall for Muslim ablutions and Christian rituals.
The two leaders say they are not a model for other churches to follow and are happy doing their own thing, but they are looking forward to the day when communities such as theirs no longer make the news.
RODOLFO C. ESTIMO JR. | Published — Sunday 20 November 2016
RIYADH: Yemeni Vice President Lt. Gen. Ali Mohsen Saleh Al-Ahmar has expressed appreciation to the Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates for helping lift the siege of Taiz.
He extended his appreciation during a call to Maj. Gen. Khaled Fadhel, commander of the alliance in the province, while meeting in the Saudi capital with Taiz Gov. Ali Maamari on Thursday.
The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief), under General Supervisor Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, played an important role in the efforts to help the inhabitants as it distributed food baskets through the humanitarian relief coalition in Taiz.
The distribution came as part of the executive programs offered by KSRelief under the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and under the supervision of Al-Rabeeah, who is also adviser at the royal court.
The Yemeni vice president said that the Kingdom and the UAE provided logistical support in lifting the siege of Taiz city that ended the suffering of the inhabitants.
Quoted by the official Yemeni news agency, he stressed the need to continue determined efforts for unity and working to rid the province of rebels and subject them to state authorities and legitimacy.
The Yemeni vice president emphasized that the political leadership of the legitimate government under President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi “pays attention to liberating the province as a top priority because of its great importance to the rest of the provinces.”
Al-Ahmar said that the achievement of the national army and the popular resistance is a big victory against the Houthis and their cohorts.
“It’s also a big blow to the forces of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in clashes during the past two days in a number of areas in the city of Taiz, the capital of the province,” he said.
Earlier, he also expressed appreciation to the Kingdom and the UAE for their supportive role in the Arab coalition and their great contribution militarily and logistically to recent victories in the Marib and Jawf regions.
Dhaka cafe attack hero’s mom: He’s icon for many
Mohammed Wajihuddin | Nov 20, 2016
While bringing up her sons, Zaraif and Faraaz, Simeen Hossain told them: "Whatever you become in life, first be a good human being."
On the dark night of July 1 in a Dhaka cafe, 20-year-old Faraaz lived up to the teaching when he refused to desert his two friends Tarishi Jain and Abinta Kabir, though the terrorists gave him a chance to leave as he was Muslim. He grabbed the sword in his right hand but was eventually killed for standing up to the brutes who shot dead other captives in the cafe, but killed Faraaz by cutting his jugular vein.
"When my son stood by his friends, including Tarishi who was an Indian, he represented true Islam while those who murdered them were monsters," said Simeen fighting tears. She, her elder son Zaraif (22) and some other family members are in the city to receive Harmony Foundation's Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice 2016 to be conferred on Faraaz posthumously at a hotel on Sunday. "Faraaz is a hero and we feel privileged to honour him," said Harmony Foundation's president, Abraham Mathai.
Faraaz, Tarishi and Abinta were friends from their days at the American International School, Dhaka. Later they went to study in the US.
"After July 1, Bangladesh is united against terrorism. Scholars and commentators are calling Faraaz's fearless conduct the greatest watershed event in our history after the 1971 liberation war," Zaraif said.
Simeen acknowledged the tributes that pour in: "For me Faraaz was a child, but he is a hero, an icon for so many people across the world. We all have joined the battle that he began."
Nov 20, 2016
A BILL aimed at banning mosques from broadcasting the Muslim prayer call over loudspeaker has been slammed as “an attempt to erase the religion”.
A proposed ban limiting the broadcasting of the prayer call has sparked outcry in Israel
The draft law, proposed by the Israeli government, has sparked outrage among Muslims who claim they are being discriminated against.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the bill is not intended to suppress Islam, but aims to protect citizens from noise disturbance.
Coalition parties are expected to back the legislation, which would ban the prayer call from being broadcast at night and early morning.
Moni Aloleimi, 44, a Muslim originally from Jordan now living in Jaffa, Israel, described the bill as “an attempt to erase the religion”.
Muslims have said the law is an attempt to "erase the religion"
People can’t accept this. If there is no call to prayer, there is no prayer. And if there is no prayer, there is no religion
He added: “People can’t accept this. If there is no call to prayer, there is no prayer. And if there is no prayer, there is no religion.”
Mr Aloleimi, who runs a manpower company, said the prayer call, which is broadcast five times a day and dates back to the time of the prophet Muhammed, is required to “rouse and remind people that there is a god and to not do evil deeds.”
He warned that if the law goes through, “there will be an explosion and it will end very badly”.
He added: “You don’t infringe on the religion of an Arab. It starts with this and then they will take other steps like telling us we don’t need 20 mosques, that five is enough.”
Amjab Rasas, 40, from Jerusalem, claimed he would flout the ban if it goes ahead, by attaching loudspeakers to his house.
One Muslim (not pictured) said if there is 'no prayer, there is no religion'
He added: “I’ve been hearing the call to prayer from al-Aksa mosque all my life. How can they stop it? I hear the Shabbat siren on Fridays, and there’s no problem with it.
“Why should people be disturbed by the call to prayer? Whoever doesn’t want to hear it, can leave. The call to prayer was here before the Jews came.”
But members of the public in favour of the bill say it will help them sleep better.
The prayer call is one of the five pillars of Islam
Itamar Siani, a painter who lived in Jaffa, told The Jerusalem Post
“I’m not against praying, but the problem is noise. It disturbs people, it wakes you up, so if they lower it, what’s the problem? I hear the muezzin from my home.
“I hear it from the left, the right and from behind. Of course it wakes me, and sometimes the call from different mosques is not together, you’ll get one before, one after.
“It’s disturbing. It’s just like if you make a party and make noise and disturb your neighbours so that they can’t sleep.”
November 20th, 2016
IRBIL: The listeners who call in to Radio Alghad are typical of talk radio audiences around the world. It’s complain, complain. Except the callers to Radio Tomorrow are in the IS-controlled city of Mosul, and they don’t want to yak about traffic or sports.
They want to unload on suicide bombers and errant air strikes, on the lack of food and medicine. They have questions about when to wave white flags and what to do with bodies in the rubble. “Shrapnel hit the tanks on the rooftop,” a caller named Hasan told FM-95.5 the other day. “We have lost all water we have saved.”
On calls made from the front lines in Mosul, listeners to Radio Alghad can hear mortar rounds falling as the government battles to retake the city. They can hear windows rattle, bursts of gunfire, children crying in a backroom.
“There is a difference between hearing about the crimes and seeing them with your eyes,” another caller told one of the station’s hosts. She begged Iraqi forces to hurry to recapture the city. Many of her neighbours still support the IS, she said. “So it’s hard to tell who is a friend and who is an enemy.”
The callers often speak in rushed whispers. A cellphone, even a SIM card hidden in a pocket or purse, can be a death sentence in Mosul, where IS militants have ordered “collaborators and spies” to be summarily executed.
The station’s founder is a 30-something tech entrepreneur who calls himself “Mohammad of Mosul” in interviews because he does not want to be targeted by the IS or its supporters. He also insists on keeping the location of his station and most of the names of its hosts secret. He is concerned about car bombs. He will allow a reporter only to say the operation is in the Kurdish area of Iraq.
On a recent evening, during one of four call-in shows hosted each day, a dozen people from Mosul and the surrounding towns and villages telephoned the station and went live on-air.
Callers are told to use an alias. So instead of “Sleepless in Seattle”, the callers identify themselves as with monikers like “Tear of an Oppressed”, “Prisoner of Memories” and others such as “Mother of Ali” or “Son of Mosul”.
The guests are also warned not to mention their exact location, both for their own protection and to foil intelligence-gathering by IS militants, who monitor the radio station.
The first call of the evening went like this:
CALLER: Assalamu alaykum!
HOST: Peace to you, Son of Mosul! Where are you calling from?
CALLER: From the left side (meaning the east side of the Tigris River in Mosul), from the liberated areas.
HOST: Inshallah, the whole of Mosul gets liberated, we want to hear soon that Mosul has completely been liberated.
CALLER: It will be liberated by the help of God. What is left for Daesh? [The Arabic acronym used instead of the IS.] Only to hide behind women? They protect themselves by women!
HOST: Inshallah, God will give revenge for you, Son of Mosul, and for all the oppressed people in Mosul. Go ahead, tell me about the situation on the left side.
CALLER: I only want to say one thing, do you know what? In Hay Al-Samah the people are still under the destroyed houses, the houses have collapsed on top of them. . . .
Radio Alghad went on the air in March 2015. Mohammad said he decided Mosul needed an alternative radio station after watching how the IS operated.
“Their social media skills are high. Their psychologists are impressive,” he said. “They get a lot of hits.” Their videos — such as the infamous Clash of Swords series — instilled fear among Iraqi defenders and diminished their will to fight.
In 2014, the IS took Mosul, then a city of about two million, in a couple of days as the Iraqi security forces retreated.
“Then I realised this is a media war,” the Alghad director said.
The IS has its own radio station operating in Mosul, Radio al-Bayan 92.5 FM.
“They use their transmitters to jam us — and we now use our transmitters to jam them,” Mohammad said. “We’re both on each other’s frequencies all the time.” In the frequency wars, the anti-IS station now operates seven transmitters.
Before the government’s offensive to recapture Mosul began in early October, hot topics on the call-in shows were the IS’s bans on smoking, cellphones and satellite dishes. Men complained about being forced to grow beards, and the women, about full-face veils. They also complained about taxes, arrests and street executions.
Now Radio Alghad includes public-service messages, warning listeners to shelter inside interior rooms during bombardment and to open windows to relieve the pressure so the glass doesn’t implode.
On a normal day, about 80 callers go live on-air, most of them from Mosul. In recent days, many callers say they are being pounded both by IS mortars and shelling from Iraqi forces. They are pleading for the Iraqi army to be careful.
A caller, “Mother of Ali” said, “Honestly, we can’t stand the bombings anymore, but we have no choice but to thank God and be more patient.”
The host thanks his callers — but when they begin to criticise the Iraqi army more than the IS, he brings the conversation to a polite close.
On occasion, Radio Alghad has allowed suspected IS supporters to speak on-air. They complain of distortions and lies.
Mohammad, the station director, recalled that one IS fan said, “ ‘The people can leave Mosul at any time’, and the host said, ‘Okay, let them go.’ If you live in Mosul, you know this is not true. You know if the gates to the city were open for an hour, Mosul would be empty.”
—By arrangement with The Washington Post
External audits is the way forward for Islamic finance
November 20, 2016
Dubai: Wider acceptance and adoption external Sharia audits across the Islamic finance industry will go a long way in preserving the stability of Islamic finance markets.
The industry still has some way to go to address the current lack of transparency surrounding internal audits and the absence of public disclosure. Rating agency S&P believes it needs clearly defined, standardised Sharia principles and interpretation.
Although pre-transaction Sharia validation typically rests with internal Sharia boards, an external Sharia audit (currently required in Oman and Pakistan) could strengthen the industry’s credibility. Similar to international financial reporting standards and external audit exercises at conventional banks.
“In our opinion, this would require a clear definition of the standards external auditors would need to measure. Although the AAOIFI has published numerous standards, Sharia boards appear to have significant leeway in making decisions regarding compliance,” said Mohammad Damak, Director - Global Head of Islamic Finance
Lack of standardisation has resulted in variations in Sharia requirements across the industry, with Malaysia being seen by market participants as the least conservative jurisdiction and Saudi Arabia as the most conservative. But it has not hindered the industry’s sustained growth over the past few years.
“Given the current slowdown of Islamic finance activity, we believe some standardisation could help reposition the industry for future growth, increase its attractiveness to new players, and support the integration of economies where Islamic finance is prevalent. Decision makers would need to choose between trying to establish a truly global industry or optimising the current structure of a collection of small industries” said Damak.
Relevance of compliance
Although rating agencies do comment on Sharia compliance and restricts its role to providing independent and objective credit opinions on rated Islamic finance institutions and issues Sharia compliance is important in their analysis in that the effect of non-compliance could strain an issuer’s capacity to honour its financial obligations.
For example, a bank that is perceived as non-Sharia compliant could lose some of its deposits, especially from corporate and retail clients that are sensitive to Sharia in their business dealings. This, in turn, could lead to significant pressure on the bank’s funding and liquidity profiles.
“To capture this risk, we look more carefully at Islamic banks’ funding structures and whether they have set aside sufficient profit equalisation and investment risk reserves. We also look at the bank’s liquidity profile and its access to central bank funding in a stress scenario. Although we use the same indicators as for conventional banks, we may make qualitative adjustments to our assessment,” he said.
Iraqi troops face stiff resistance from IS in eastern Mosul
AP | Nov 19, 2016
MOSUL, IRAQ: Iraqi troops faced stiff resistance Saturday from Islamic State militants as they pushed deeper into eastern Mosul, backed by aerial support from the US-led international coalition, a senior military commander said.
At dawn, troops moved into the Muharabeen and Ulama neighborhoods after fully liberating the adjacent Tahrir neighborhood on Friday, said Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the Iraqi special forces. Al-Aridi said IS militants were fighting back with snipers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds.
Thick black columns of smoke were seen billowing from the two areas, while dozens of civilians were seen fleeing to government-controlled areas. Shortly before noon, a suicide bomber emerged from a house in the Tahrir neighborhood and attacked security forces, wounding four troops. Another suicide car bomber hit the troops in Aden neighborhood afternoon, killing a soldier and wounding three others.
Late on Friday, a group of IS militants attacked the village of Imam Gharbi south of Mosul, controlling most of it for hours before airstrikes from the US-led international coalition were called in, an officer said. The clashes and multiple suicide bombings left three policemen dead, including an officer, and four others wounded, he said. Nine IS fighters were killed, he added. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief media.
To the west of Mosul, government-sanctioned Shiite militias took full control of the Tal Afar military airfield Friday night, said Jaafar al-Husseini, spokesman for the influential Hezbollah Brigades. Al-Husseini said the clashes almost destroyed the airport and that it will be an important launching pad for the troops in their advance.
The extremist group captured Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in the summer of 2014.
The offensive to retake the city, which was launched on Oct. 17, is the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011. If successful, the retaking of Mosul would be the strongest blow dealt to IS' self-styled caliphate stretching into Syria. The Shiite militias are leading an assault to drive IS from Tal Afar, which had a majority Shiite population before it fell to the militants in the summer of 2014, and to cut IS supply lines linking Mosul to Syria.
According to the United Nations, more than 56,000 civilians have been forced from their homes since the operation began out of nearly 1.5 million civilians living in and around Mosul.
In the heavily damaged town of Bashiqa, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Mosul's outskirts, Christians rang the bells of Saint George's church for the first time to celebrate its liberation from IS, which was driven out earlier this month. Much of the town has been reduced to rubble from artillery strikes and air raids.
Parishioners, peshmerga fighters and Kurdish officials sang hymns and played band music as they walked in procession into the church, which was heavily vandalized by IS fighters. Men prepared a large cross to mount on the rooftop, replacing one destroyed by the extremists.
"The first thing they did was break the cross, we want to replace it and tell Daesh that the cross is still here and we are not leaving at all," said Rev. Afram al-Khoury Benyamen, using the Arabic acronym to refer to the group.
Bullet holes marked the walls inside the church courtyard, strewn with garbage and graffiti left by the extremists, including some of their names. Much of the church's inside had been smashed, with rubble strewn across the ground and holy inscriptions covered with black paint. In an upper level, pews had been pushed back to make room for cushions and carpet beneath a broken window that had been used as a sniper's nest, marked out by scattered spent bullet casings.
Broken brass instruments and a torn bagpipe from the church's boy scout band lay scattered across the site, with pills and syringes on the floor in one area. The church graveyard was desecrated, with graves broken into and tombstones smashed and painted over.
"It's good they're gone but how happy can we be _ look at this mess," said 22-year old Youssef Ragheed, a drummer from the band who had fled the town when IS controlled it, but returned for Saturday's ceremony.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian military forces inflicted major casualties on terrorist groups in Western Ghouta and won back two key positions in the region after hours of heavy fighting.
After repelling terrorists' large-scale attacks to lift the army siege in the town of Khan al-Sheih and pushing the peace talks into failure, the government forces intensified their attacks on militants' defense lines inside and outside the town of Khan al-Sheih and took full control of a school and the Sheik mosque.
Fierce clashes are still underway between the army and militants in Khan al-Sheih region.
Army's artillery units for their part targeted terrorist centers in Beit Jen farms in Western Damascus, killing a number of terrorists.
Also, the army soldiers targeted the concentration centers of Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) in Western Ghouta on Friday, killing or wounding a number of militants and destroying their weapons.
Army soldiers targeted Fatah al-Sham positions on Western side of Bir (well) al-Afa'ei in Khan al-Sheih region, inflicting major losses on the terrorist group.
TEHRAN (FNA)- A large number of popular forces from the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur are preparing to take part in an imminent large-scale operation to drive ISIL terrorists out of the city and its surroundings, one of their commanders said Saturday.
A large group of Deir Ezzur people and a number of military commanders in Damascus have created a national plan aimed at liberating Deir Ezzur province from ISIL.
Mohammad Sabahi Ahad underlined the importance of the cooperation Deir Ezzur people to support the Syrian army troops in the liberation of the city and annihilation of ISIL terrorists.
"This operation will start from the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) to liberate the road to Deir Ezzur and the city itself," he further added.
Ahad further said that the popular forces have handed over to relevant officials a list of points in their regions for military and medical back up of the Deir Ezzur liberation operation.
"Popular forces are ready to start their operation once they receive order from relevant officials," he further stressed.
Meantime, the Syrian army carried out an operation against ISIL's positions in an oilfield in Eastern Deir Ezzur on Friday, inflicting major damage on the terrorists' military grid.
The army men attacked ISIL's defense liens in the surrounding areas of al-Koniko oilfield, 18 km East of Deir Ezzur city, killing or wounding a number of terrorists and destroying their vehicles.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian fighter jets destroyed Jeish al-Fatah's largest arms and ammunition depot in Aleppo province in heavy airstrikes on Saturday.
The Syrian warplanes were tipped off by the country's intelligence forces about the exact location of the arms depot in Madajen al-Kiyali near the village of Tal Hadieh Southwest of Aleppo and destroyed it completely, an army officer said.
He also pointed out that several terrorists who were inside and near the arm depot were killed in the air raid.
Earlier on Saturday, the Syrian Army troops and fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi al-Nujaba engaged in fierce clashes with Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in the Southern districts of Aleppo city, capturing more lands from retreating militants.
Pro-government forces stormed terrorists' positions in Sheikh Saeed district, inflicting major casualties on the militants.
The Army soldiers and their allies attacked Jeish al-Fatah's defense lines and pushed the militants back from their positions in the Northwestern flank of Sheikh Saeed, killing or wounding a number of terrorists after hours of clashes.
The government forces also stormed terrorists' centers Southwest of Sheikh Saeed, gaining more ground in this flank.
Army soldiers have now deployed troops at Sheikh Saeed Bridge as heavy fighting is underway in the area now.
Army's missile units have been shelling terrorist positions in al-Rashedeen neighborhood, while other army troops and their allies have been fighting against militants to take back al-Rashedeen 4 and 5. Reports said their artillery attacks has driven a number of terrorists out of al-Rashedeen 4 and 5.
Syrian fighter jets also pounded terrorist centers in al-Rashedeen 4 and 5.
Army soldiers also targeted terrorists' defense lines in Aqareb neighborhood in Southwestern Aleppo.
On Friday, Russian fighter jets pounded a base of Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) in the Western countryside of Aleppo, claiming the lives of 53 militants, including their senior commander.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi al-Nujaba fighters are coordinating final steps of a joint large-scale operation to liberate Khan Touman, a key town in Southern Aleppo, military sources disclosed.
"After liberation of the Air Defense Battalion and its nearby hills, Housing Project 1070 and al-Hikmah School, the Syrian army, Hezbollah and al-Nujaba continued their operations and scored some victories against terrorists and have now deployed their fighters in the Southern part of Aleppo to start jointly a fresh round of offensives to liberate Khan Touman, while the Syrian Air Force has intensified strikes on terrorists' positions in the town," the sources disclosed.
Warplanes also targeted a long convoy of terrorists' vehicles along the Damascus-Aleppo highway near ICARDA farms.
Fighter jets also carried out several combat flights over Jeish al-Fatah's movements from Saraqib in Idlib to Khan Touman in Aleppo, inflicting major losses on the militants.
The Syrian Army troops and Air Force also targeted the positions of Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) and Nouralddeen al-Zinki in different parts of Aleppo city on Friday, inflicting major casualties on the militants.
The Syrian fighter jets targeted the positions of Fatah al-Sham Front and Nouralddeen al-Zinki in the districts of Old Aleppo, Bostan al-Pasha, Sheikh Saeed and al-Sukri, leaving a large number of militants dead or wounded.
Army soldiers for their part targeted Jeish al-Fatah's gatherings and positions in the villages of al-Mansoureh and Khawabi al-Assal and the neighborhoods of al-Rashedeen 4 and 5 quarters in the Western and Southern parts of Aleppo.
A number of terrorists were killed and their vehicles were destroyed in the army attacks.
The army also destroyed one of the main positions of Jeish al-Fatah after targeting their sites in Khan al-Assal town, about 12 km Southwest of Aleppo city.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Spokesman of Manbij Military Council Sherfan Dervish voiced his forces' readiness to fight against the ISIL terrorists and Turkish army in Aleppo province in Northern Syria.
"After the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) left Manbij, the city's military council is ready to repel any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey," Dervish told FNA on Saturday.
He noted that the SDF's mission in Manbij ended as per an agreement signed by the two sides, adding that the SDF forces have returned to their previous positions.
"The armed groups present in Manbij now are all under the auspices of Manbij military council because the council can thwart any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey and combat aggressors to maintain stability and security in the city," Dervish added.
In early August, the SDF pushed ISIL back from the entire neighborhoods of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after over 70 days of non-stop bloody clashes with the terrorists.
Also in August, he Military Council of Manbij in Aleppo province announced that over 4,000 terrorists had been killed in tough battle with the SDF since the beginning of Manbij liberation operations.
"A sum of 4,180 terrorists have been killed in the battle over Manbij and the dead bodies of 1,724 of them are with the Kurdish forces," the military council said.
The council said that 112 ISIL terrorists were in custody of the Kurdish forces and 144 different kinds of military vehicles had also been destroyed in Manbij battle.
In late August, a Turkish-backed terrorist ringleader said that his militants intended to head towards Manbij to take the city from the Kurdish forces who could drive out the ISIL in early August.
Colonel Ahmed Osman, the commander of Sultan Murad terrorist group, told the Arabic service of Reuters that the Turkey-backed forces were "certainly heading towards Manbij" since the SDF had fortified their positions instead of evacuating the strategic city.
Also in late August, the Manbij military council warned the Turkish army over deployment of troops to the Northern parts of Syria, and vowed to give "an appropriate response to Ankara's aggressive plans in future".
"We will give firm response to the Turkish army if it continues its troops' deployment in Northern Syria," the Manbij Military Council said in a statement.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The (Lebanese) Hezbollah resistance movement has sent more troops to Syria to take part in the fight against the terrorists in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, media reports claimed on Saturday.
"Hezbollah has dispatched another brigade to Syria who have been deployed just outside the city of Aleppo," the Russian Izvestia newspaper reported on Saturday.
The paper quoted retired Syrian army general Brigadier General Ali Maqsoud as saying that the Hezbollah fighters would move to Idlib to prepare for military operations there after capturing Aleppo city and its surrounding regions.
The Hezbollah fighers are only a part of the forces present in the Aleppo operations, he said.
Other reports claimed that the total number of Hezbollah fighters in Syria now stands at 5,000 with heavy artillery and weapons systems.
No other source in Syria or Hezbollah has confirmed the reports yet.
The Syrian army and its popular allies started the long-awaited operation on Friday afternoon to purge the entire city of Aleppo from terrorists.
The Army troops and Quds Devotees popular fighters stormed the positions of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists from three different flanks to take back militant-held districts in Eastern Aleppo.
Syrian government forces used the Southern side of Tal (hill) Seifan in the first flank to attack the positions of Nouralddeen al-Zinki terrorists.
Army forces also stormed militants' defense lines via the second flank in Ba'abadin neighborhood towards Ba'eidin square.
The army soldiers and their popular allies also moved through the Southern side of Tal Ba'abadin towards the Youth Housing Complex and Agricultural School and from South of Manasher Brij neighborhood towards Northeast of Hananou neighborhood to form the third flank of the government troops' large-scale operation against terrorists in Aleppo.
Simultaneous with pro-government forces' offensives from three flanks, army's artillery units shelled heavily terrorists' positions in the region. Heavy shelling has forced the terrorists to retreat from their positions in some regions.
Reports said resistance forces in the first flank have already captured Ba'eidin square that connects the three neighborhoods of Ba'eidin, al-Heidariyeh and Ein Tal and overlooks the entire surrounding area.
In the meantime, army forces and resistance fighter started large-scale attack in Sheikh Saeed neighborhood and managed to advance against terrorists.
The resistance troops' missile units targeted the terrorists' positions in the neighborhoods of al-Mansoureh, al-Rashedeen and Scientific Research Centers in the Western part of Aleppo.
On Saturday, reports said the Syrian army has inflicted heavy casualties on the Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups in its major assault in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city, capturing a number of positions.
After hours of fierce clashes with terrorists, army forces have taken control of several positions in Karam al-Tarraf neighborhood in the Eastern part of Aleppo city and western side of Aleppo airport, killing and wounding several terrorists.
In the meantime, at least 11 terrorists were killed in clashes with Syrian soldiers in Bostan al-Pasha in the Eastern part of the city.
The army troop also destroyed three arms and ammunition depots of the terrorist in the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.
The army men targeted terrorists' gatherings in the neighborhoods of Hananou Housings, al-Heidariyeh, al-Meisar, A'qyoul and al-Sakhour in Eastern Aleppo as well.
Heavy fighting still goes on between the Syrian army and terrorists in al-Oweijeh and the Syrian air force and army's artillery units are also targeting militants' positions in the same neighborhood.
Army's missile units also launched shelling attacks on terrorists' positions in the neighborhoods of Hananou, Jabal Badrou, al-Hamrah, al-Sho'ar, Zahrat Awad, Jubb al-Qebeh, al-Sakhour, al-Sukri, al-Harbleh and al-Meisar, killing or wounding tens of terrorists.
The Syrian fighter jets also pounded terrorists' centers in Kafr Hamreh, Hayan, Jam'iyat al-Hadi, al-Mansoureh, Qabtan al-Jabal, Naseh and Anadan.
Later in the day, the military sources disclosed that the Syrian Army, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi al-Nujaba fighters are coordinating final steps of a joint large-scale operation to liberate Khan Touman, a key town in Southern Aleppo.
The army also destroyed one of the main positions of Jeish al-Fatah after targeting their sites in Khan al-Assal town, about 12 km Southwest of Aleppo city.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Reports said on Saturday that the Syrian army has inflicted heavy casualties on the Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups in its major assault in the Eastern districts of Aleppo city, capturing a number of positions.
SANAA: Yemen rebels and loyalist forces battled on Saturday around third city Taez even as a 48-hour ceasefire announced by a Saudi-led coalition fighting the insurgents began following US pressure.
A few hours after the ceasefire took effect at midday, fighting still raged around the flashpoint southwestern city, where violence has killed dozens this week, despite clashes subsiding on several fronts.
Clashes were heaviest in the town of Salo southeast of Taez, military sources said, reporting casualties on both sides.
Inside Taez itself, rebel rocket fire into a residential district killed one civilian and wounded two, the sources added.
Intermittent fighting was also reported in Nahm near the capital Sanaa, in Shabwa in the south and Sarwah to the east.
The ceasefire comes after a push by US Secretary of State John Kerry who this week met rebel representatives in Oman and also urged the government to come on board.
At first the government, which has deep reservations about a UN peace blueprint it believes undermines its authority, rejected the peace bid before later agreeing to observe it.
Yemen’s government has come under huge pressure to back down in the face of an international outcry over the mounting civilian death toll from 20 months of conflict.
“There are international pressures to observe a ceasefire and to resume (peace) negotiations,” a source close to the presidency said. The 48-hour truce could be extended if the rebels hold fire and allow aid into besieged loyalist enclaves, said a coalition statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
More than 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen and nearly 37,000 wounded since the coalition intervention began in March last year, the United Nations says.
“We really hope that the war will end. All Yemenis are very tired of the conflict,” said Khaled al-Waysi, a resident of Sanaa.
Another resident, Sadeq Juhaifi, said: “We want one of the parties to be courageous enough to announce longterm peace, not just a two or one-day ceasefire.”
A spokesman for forces allied to the Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels, Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman, confirmed that they would also abide by the ceasefire.
“Based on the agreement reached in Muscat, we affirm our commitment to the ceasefire if the other party respects it,” Luqman said of the accord signed on Monday with Kerry.
Six previous attempts to clinch a ceasefire have foundered, the latest in October.
All those truces were “useless”, said Sanaa resident Abdullah Hasan.
“We need a real truce, not one which is just for media consumption,” added the 29-year-old.
Palestinian demonstrators react to tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against Jewish settlements in Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho on Thursday (Reuters photo)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Hundreds of Muslims in Israel and the Gaza Strip demonstrated on Friday against a bill to limit the volume of calls to prayer at mosques in the Jewish state.
In the southern city of Rahat, 100 Arab Israelis held a rally against the bill, while more than 500 people took part in various demonstrations in the north, police said.
In the northern city of Jisr a-Zarqa, lawmaker Ahmed Tibi of the Arab Joint List called the legislation "a provocation and act of coercion in the place of dialogue and tolerance", a party spokesperson said.
In Gaza, hundreds of supporters of the Islamist Hamas group that controls the Palestinian territory held a protest march through the Jabalia Refugee Camp near the enclave's northern border.
Yusef Al Sharafi, a Hamas leader, told the crowd that "this unprecedented Zionist decision is an encroachment on the freedom of Muslims".
"Attempts to ban the Azan [call to prayer] are doomed to fail because of the steadfastness of the Palestinians," he said, reiterating the long-standing Hamas demand that the Palestinian Authority end its security cooperation with Israel.
The bill, which passed the ministerial committee for legislation on Sunday, had been appealed by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who demanded another discussion on it before its first parliamentary reading.
Litzman, a member of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, was concerned that the bill could also outlaw the weekly sirens that indicate the beginning of the Sabbath.
The bill, drafted by Moti Yogev and supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will now be put on hold until a ministerial committee holds a second vote.
It was drafted in response to noise from mosques, but would in theory apply to all religious institutions.
Around 17.5 per cent of Israelis are Arab, the vast majority of them Muslim, but they complain of discrimination and are underrepresented in high-level jobs.
Arab Israelis are the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land during the war that led to the creation of Israel in 1948.
The draft law would also apply to East Jerusalem, occupied in 1967 by Israel and where more than 300,000 Palestinians live.
November 20, 2016
*Consortium building the Mecca-Medina rail link reaches prelim deal with Saudi
*Deal has seen setbacks due to payments dispute with KSA government
*Construction period extended by 14 months from original end-date
A Spanish consortium that is building a high-speed rail link between Mecca and Medina, has reached a preliminary deal with Saudi Arabia to finalise the works after a series of delays and setbacks, Spain’s public works ministry said on Friday.
The Al Shoula consortium, comprising 12 Spanish companies including OHL and Indra, as well as two Saudi firms, had become embroiled in a dispute over payments with the Saudi government.
The consortium’s contract to construct and maintain the Haramain railway is valued at €6.7 billion ($7.11bn).
“This preliminary deal resolves the problems that arose on both sides during the process, clearing the way for the works to be finalised,” the Spanish government said in a statement.
The Saudi government still has to ratify the agreement, a spokesman for the consortium said, but it would extend the construction period until March 2018, 14 months later than originally planned.
Under the agreement the state-owned Saudi Railways Organization is to pay the consortium €150 million in compensation for additional costs on the project.
9 Taliban militants killed, 11 wounded in Uruzgan airstrike
By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Nov 20 2016
Afghan Air ForceAt least 9 Taliban insurgents were killed and 11 others were wounded in an airstrike in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the airstrike was carried out in Chora district of Uruzgan, targeting the militants belonging to the Taliban insurgents.
The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.
Uruzgan is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in a number of its districts.
The militants are often conducting insurgency activities by carrying roadside bombings, target killings, and coordinated attacks on the government compounds.
The Afghan forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations against the group in this province after they launched a major attack to take control of the strategic Tarinkot city earlier in September.
Scores of additional forces including special forces of the Afghan national army were deployed to the area as the group managed to take the war in the outskirts of the city.
A top Afghan military general and former chief the military attorney of Kabul was jailed by anti-corruption tribunal that held its first open trial last week.
Abdulhai Jurat was jailed for 30 months besides the court awarded a fine of AFN 50,000 after he was convicted of involvement in corruption during the special tribunal.
The court announced its verdict after hearing the statements of the convict, prosecutor and the defense lawyer.
The head of the judiciary delegation Sher Aqa Munib said the court verdict was not final and the convict has the right to appeal in the other courts.
This is the first time Afghanistan is trying a high level judicial official in connection to corruption.
The Afghanistan Attorney General Farid Hamidi informed regarding the first open corruption trial, saying the first public corruption trial will be held to try the accused individuals involved in major criminal cases.
Speaking during an anti-corruption conference in Kabul late last month, Hamidi said the government has zero tolerance to corruption as he emphasized on effective efforts to counter corruption and disorder.
Earlier Attorney General Hamidi said Afghanistan will witness an anti-corruption machine launch to start a major fight against the growing corruption in the country.
This comes as reports emerged earlier in July this year suggesting that the government is working on at least 20 major corruption cases involving highly political influential figures.
By GHANIZADA - Sun Nov 20 2016
A top leader of the Haqqani terrorist network was arrested by the operatives of the Afghan intelligence in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan.
The Afghan intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said the Haqqani network commander, Syed Rahman also famous as Khyber was arrested from the vicinity of Zurmat district.
NDS further added that Syed Rahman was involved in major terrorist activities including explosions, assassination of government officials, target killing of the tribal elders.
According to NDS, the network’s commander was leading a group of at least 20 militants to conduct insurgency activities in this province.
The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.
This comes as a top commander of the Haqqani terrorist network was killed during an operation of the Afghan police forces in this province earlier this month.
The Haqqani terrorist network is accused of staging numerous deadly attacks in Afghanistan including a coordinated attack on VIP protection unity in Kabul which left at least 74 people dead and over 300 others wounded.
Haqqani network was formed in the late 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group is allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met with the Deputy Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Kabul on Saturday to discuss the bilateral issues pertaining security, counter-terrorism, and regional affairs.
The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the NATO Deputy Secretary General Patrick Turner and his delegation met President Ghani in ARG Palace on Saturday.
President Ghani thanked the alliance for their comprehensive support, particularly to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
In his turn, the NATO Deputy Secretary General hailed the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and said their achievements in fight against the terrorism has been unique, emphasizing that the Afghan forces have managed to achieve gains in accordance with the proper plans.
President Ghani credited the achievements of the Afghan forces for their spirit of patriotism and commitment to defend the country and the Afghan people.
He hailed the Afghan forces for their devotion and unparalleled fight to suppress the enemies of the country.
In conclusion, the NATO Deputy Secretary General reaffirmed the alliance’s continued support to the Afghan government and people.
India has reaffirmed support to Afghanistan and to work with the neighboring countries to restore Afghanistan’s role as the land bridge of the region.
The Indian envoy to United Nations Syed Akbaruddin made the remarks during a meeting of the United Nations on Afghanistan.
The UN General Assembly Adopted resolution supporting Afghanistan’s efforts as speakers vowed to help the conflict-affected nation achieve untapped potential.
Akbaruddin expressed alarm at the expansion of the theatre of war in Afghanistan and increasing casualties suffered by the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.
He said as s the draft resolution promoted regional cooperation, India was committed to work with neighbouring countries to restore Afghanistan’s role as the land bridge of the region.
On combating terrorism, he said that the United Nations had to do more to send the right message. “Inconsistent implementation of sanctions on some terrorist outfits eats away at the United Nations authority,” he said.
Akbar further added unless the Security Council and its organs were part of a cohesive response to global terrorism, it could become marginalized from the most fundamental security priorities of Member States, whose societies were being torn apart by terrorism.
A suicide bomber was shot dead by the Afghan National Police (ANP) forces before he manage to target a market in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the incident took place late on Saturday in Baharak district as the suicide bomber was looking to detonate his explosives among the people in a busy market.
MoI further added that the suicide bomber was identified by the police forces who were aware of a possible suicide attack.
The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.
The Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to the other militant groups are actively operating in a number of the remote districts of Badakhshan province.
The insurgents are often conducting insurgency activities by carrying out suicide attacks and coordinated attacks on security forces and government compounds in this province.
The statement by MoI comes as reports emerged earlier last night suggesting that a group of suicide bombers attempted to attack the Baharak district administrative compound.
Sat Nov 19, 2016
In this photograph taken on October 21, 2016, Rohingya Muslim children gather at a house in Hpar Wut Chaung located in Rakhine state, Myanmar. (Photo by AFP)
Bangladeshi coast guards have pushed back 125 Rohingya Muslims, mostly women and children, as the desperate group attempted to enter the Bangladeshi territory to flee violence and persecution back in their home country Myanmar.
Bangladeshi authorities on Friday prevented the refugees, crammed into seven wooden boats, from ducking on the Bangladeshi side of the Naf River, which separates Bangladesh's southeastern border from western Myanmar, said Nafiur Rahman, a local coast guard official, on Saturday.
“They included 61 women and 36 children. We resisted them from entering our water territory,” he said, adding that all of them had been nationals of Myanmar, escaping an uptick of violent clashes in neighboring Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Rakhine, home to a large number of Rohingya Muslims, has been under a military lockdown since an alleged attack on the country’s border guards on October 9 left nine police officers dead. The government accused the Rohingya of being behind the assault.
Since then, Bangladesh has heavily boosted security measures in a strip of land along its border with Myanmar and deployed hundreds of troops to patrol the area in a bid to push back the potential waves of Rohingya Muslim refugees, who flee the resurgence of violence and persecution back home.
In this photo taken on October 15, 2016, Myanmar's border guards patrol an area along the river dividing Myanmar and Bangladesh located in Maungdaw, Rakhine state, following attacks that killed nine border police. (Photo by AFP)
Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine has also been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from homes and live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
On November 16, the London-based Arakan Rohingya National Organization said at least 150 Muslims had been killed since November 12.
Myanmar's government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. However, many believe the Rohingya are a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar.
According to the UN, the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Zakir Naik booked under UAPA, his NGO offices raided
Bharti Jain | Updated: Nov 20, 2016
NEW DELHI: Days after controversial tele-evangelist Zakir Naik's NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was declared an "unlawful association", the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided its offices in Mumbai, Naik's residence, premises of firms associated with Naik and IRF such as Harmony Media Pvt Ltd that makes content for Peace TV, as well as residences of some close associates and directors of IRF.
Saturday's raids across 12 locations in Mumbai followed soon after NIA's Mumbai branch booked Naik and others under Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that relates to terror conspiracy, Section 10 and 13 of UAPA which deal with being member of an unlawful association and punishment for unlawful activities respectively, and Section 153A of IPC (inciting communal hatred).
"Simply put, Naik has been charged with causing disaffection on religious lines and inciting youth through speeches and social media posts, to commit terrorist acts," said an NIA official.
Sources said that though chances of Naik coming back to India are slim, in the event of his refusing to join investigation, there is always the option of getting the having him delcared a proclaimed offender. "Once he is declared as proclaimed offender, his properties in India can be attached," said an officer.
The raids by 9 NIA teams on premises connected to IRF began at 6.30 am on Saturday and were expected to continue late into the night. A team of information technology (IT) experts was also flown to Mumbai from NIA headquarters to join the raids. According to sources, the recoveries till Saturday evening included Rs 12 lakh in cash, gold ornaments, "incriminating" content/documents and electronic storage devices. "The recovered documents relate to various activities including financial transactions and property details of Zakir Naik and IRF," said an NIA release.
According to sources, a lot of content was seized during raids at office of Harmony Media Pvt Ltd, which an NIA officer said would be examined over time. "We are also studying the financial documents to establish if they are crucial to the investigation," said an NIA official.
The official indicated that some IRF office-bearers and associates may be arrested in the days to come, depending on outcome of the investigations. "However, no immediate arrests are expected in connection with Saturday's raids," he stated.
Both Naik and his wife Farhat Naik had controlling and managing interest in Harmony Media Pvt Ltd until 2012-13 as well as two other firms, Longlast Constructions Pvt Ltd and Right Property Solutions Pvt Ltd. In February-March 2013, Naik diverted his and his wife's controlling stake to his sister Nailah Naushad Noorani.
Funds flow worth Rs 54 crore was noticed during an MHA inspection of IRF in 2014, from Naik's UAE-based Global Broadcasting Corporation to Harmony Media Pvt Ltd over the past 7 years. There were payments for content creation for Peace TV, as broadcast from the UAE. Most of this content comprised Naik's "inflammatory and objectionable" speeches where he extolled terrorist Osama bin Laden, proclaimed that every Muslim should be a terrorist and justified suicide bombings. He claimed in one of his speeches that if Islam had indeed wanted, eighty per cent of Indian population would not have remained Hindus as they could have been converted by the sword.
RBI proposes ‘Islamic window’ in banks for gradual introduction of Sharia banking
New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed opening of ‘Islamic window’ in conventional banks for ‘gradual’ introduction of Sharia-compliant or interest-free banking in the country. Both the Centre and RBI are exploring the possibility of introduction of Islamic banking for long to ensure financial inclusion of those sections of the society that remain excluded due to religious reasons.
“In our considered opinion, given the complexities of Islamic finance and various regulatory and supervisory challenges involved in the matter and also due to the fact that Indian banks have no experience in this field, Islamic banking may be introduced in India in a gradual manner.
“Initially, a few simple products which are similar to conventional banking products may be considered for introduction through Islamic window of the conventional banks after necessary notification by the government.
“Introduction of full-fledged Islamic banking with profit-loss sharing complex products may be considered at a later stage on the basis of experience gained in course of time,” the RBI has told Finance Ministry in a letter, a copy of which was received in response to an RTI query filed by PTI.
Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.
“It is also our understanding that interest-free banking for financial inclusion will require a proper process of the product being certified as Sharia compliant will be required both on the asset and liability side and the funds received under the interest-free banking could not be mingled with other funds and therefore, this banking will have to be conducted under a separate window,” it said.
The central bank’s proposal is based on examination of legal, technical and regulatory issues regarding feasibility of introducing Islamic banking in India on the basis of recommendation of the Inter Departmental Group (IDG).
RBI has also prepared a technical analysis report which has been sent to the Finance Ministry.
“In case it is decided to introduce Islamic banking product in India as suggested, RBI would require to undertake further work to put in place the operational and regulatory framework to facilitate introduction of such products by banks in India,” the letter said. The work areas include operationalisation of Sharia boards and committees, feasibility of extending deposit insurance to Islamic banking deposits, identifying the financial risk and suggesting appropriate accounting framework for these products, the central bank had said in the letter written in December last year.
The RBI had in February this year also sent a copy of the IDG to the Finance Ministry. It said the RBI also needs to work on formulating suitability and appropriate criteria for Islamic products in addition to what would be determined under Sharia.
In its annual report for 2015-16, the central bank had said that some sections of Indian society have remained financially excluded for religious reasons that preclude them from using banking products with an element of interest.
“Towards mainstreaming these excluded sections, it is proposed to explore the modalities of introducing interest- free banking products in the country in consultation with the government,” it had said.
The plan for Sharia bank was opposed by certain political and non-political groups.
In late 2008, a committee on Financial Sector Reforms, headed by former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, had opined the need for a closer look at the issue of interest-free banking in the country.
The committee had said, “Certain faiths prohibit the use of financial instruments that pay interest. The non- availability of interest-free banking products results in some Indians, including those in the economically disadvantaged strata of society, not being able to access banking products and services due to reasons of faith.”
“This non-availability also denies the country access to substantial sources of savings from other countries in the region,” the panel had said.
TMC with Muslim clerics on talaq
TNN | Nov 20, 2016
KOLKATA: Two Trinamool MPs -Idris Ali and Ahmad Hasan Imran -and state minister Siddiqullah Chowdhury are among the 450 delegates to the Kolkata conference of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) that has planned a showdown at Park Circus Maidan on Sunday against the Supreme Court's seeking opinion of the Centre on the question of triple talaq. Earlier, Trinamool minister Partha Chatterjee held that marital disputes should be left to husbands and wives.Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed is the president of the reception committee of the conference.
The presence of Trinamool minister and MPs in the religious congregation suggests that Shayara Bano, the 35-year old woman from Uttarakhand, who has challenged oral triple talaq, won't have an easy way , given the instance of maintenance lawsuit by 62-year-old wo man, Shah Bano, 31years ago in 1985 when the Rajiv Gandhi government had invalidated a Supreme Court judgment. The Mamata Banerjee government has given permission to the AIMPLB gathering after turning it down initially.
"The Modi government is targeting Sharia. The delegates have taken it as an assault on the right to religion.All religions have their own personal laws. We have our own. Delegates also discussed ways to address the abuse of talaq, if any , within the ambit of Sharia. Some communal elements are trying to disrupt peace in our country," Trinamool MP Sultan Ahmed said.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh hit out at the Trinamool government. "The ruling Trinamool is trying to consolidate Muslim votes with an eye on elections. The chief minister has inducted in her cabinet Siddiqullah Chowdhury , who had attacked the police only two years ago in 2014 after the Army denied permission to his organisation Jamiat Ulema-e Hind to hold a rally at Brigade Parade Grounds. This person has now become secular.They won't allow a debate even. It is a matter of concern," Ghosh said.
Social activist Miratun Nahar says: "Neither of the two camps -AIMPLB and the Modi government -seems sincere towards emancipation of Muslim women. I can't find any fault in the talaq procedure as enshrined in Quran. But on the ground, the procedure is being abused since long. Muslim men are abusing it in collusion with a section of clerics, leaving poor Muslim women, particularly in the villages, in the lurch. I would first ask the AIMPLB what they have done to address this problem. And, the Modi government which is trying to project itself as a saviour of Muslim women is actually trying to do away with the talaq procedure, as a whole, under the garb of Uniform Civil Code. I do hear saner voices from progressive Muslim women on this issue."
10L MAY GATHER FOR 69TH ISLAMIC CONGREGATION
Sunday, 20 November 2016
The three-day 69th Aalmi Tablighi Ijtema (World Islamic Congregation) would be held here at Ghasipura on the outskirts of Bhopal from Saturday November 26, about ten lakh people from across the globe are expected to take participate in it.
The Ijtema that would begin on November 24 and conclude on November 28 with grand dua (prayers) for world peace and brotherhood.
Preparations for the congregation are on final stage amid Jamaats from country and abroad have started arriving in the city and the Ijtema venue.
Ijtema organising committee has informed that elaborated arrangements of public transport and public conveniences would be made at the venue these include toilets, wuzu khana for 1000 persons at a time and a parking at 200 acres of land besides 200 buses have been arranged to bring in the people coming to attend the congregation.
The event considered being one of the largest religious congregations in the world that does not have any political affiliation. It carries some of the greatest spiritual messages, not only for the Muslims but also for the non- Muslims around the world.
Every year, about two million people from India and abroad join the grand meet organised by the Tablighi Jamaat. This year more than a million devotees are expected to attend the Ijtema. Devotees from Indonesia, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Middle Eastern countries pray for the divine blessings, unity and prosperity of the Muslim Ummah.
The urban public transport service vehicles passing through Karond crossing will go up-to Ijtema venue Ghasipura. This will facilitate people coming to attend the congregation. This extension of route has been made by the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) keeping the Tablighi Ijtema in view. Over 60 buses’ permits have been extended for the purpose and the fare has also been fixed upto Ghasipura.
Remarkably, the annual congregation used to be organised in the premises of the second largest mosque of Asia Taj- ul- Masjid in the past but now from the last few years the venue of this gathering has been shifted to Ghasipura, a place near the city of Bhopal.
TNN & Agencies | Updated: Nov 19, 2016
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NEW DELHI: Security forces have killed one terrorist in an encounter in Kakapora in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama.
Fierce gunfight between the terrorists and security forces is underway.
According to Times Now, two terrorists are believed to be holed up. Security forces have cordoned off the area.
Security forces launched an anti-militancy operation after receiving a tip off about presence of terrorists at Begumbagh village in Kakapora area, a police official said.
He said hiding militants opened fire on noticing the security forces who retaliated, triggering a gunbattle.
Earlier today, Pakistani army targeted several posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Nowshera and Sunderbani sectors of Rajouri district+ with mortars and small arms fire, drawing strong retaliation from Indian troops.
The firing in Sunderbani is the second ceasefire violation by the Pakistani side in less than six hours.
The Pakistan Army first violated the ceasefire in Nowshera sector in the morning.
"Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation in Nowshera sector from 1030 hours using 120 mm mortars and small arms fire.Our army is giving a befitting response to Pakistani fire," a defence spokesman said.
TNN | Updated: Nov 20, 2016
NEW DELHI: Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has said there is increased likelihood of a nuclear war with Pakistan with Islamabad developing tactical nuclear weapons which could be devolved to lower ranking officers in the Pakistani army .
Likelihood of tactical weapons against India has increased with younger officers in the Pakistan army handling the weapons. The Pakistan army is religiously motivated, less professional and has often produced rogue officers, Menon said in an interview to India Today TV . There is an "increased possibility of an allout nuclear war when India retaliates against any tactical nuclear weapons attack with massive retaliation (as per its policy)," he said.
Menon also revealed that as foreign secretary he "pressed" for visible retaliation to the 2611 Mumbai attack and then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee "seemed to agree" but the Manmohan Singh government refrained from any military action.
He said "on sober reflection and hindsight", the decision not to retaliate militarily was the "right one" and cited reasons: Military retaliation would have converted the terror attack into an Indo-Pak war; it would have had limited effect on LeT (which was behind the attack); and collateral damage would have united the Pakistani people behind its army at a time when the govern ment was trying to be friendly with India. Menon said the September 29 surgical strikes by Indian troops on terror pads across LoC were "inevitable", but said going public with it was not in India's interest.
Saying that India's nuclear weapons are no guard against Pak-sponsored terror, Menon said he believed there is no foreseeable end to cross-border terror from Pakistan. "India must be prepared for the long struggle to continue without decisive military solutions.Temporarily silencing the cross-border terrorists is the best we can hope for," he said.
The former NSA said terror is hard-wired into Pakistan's society and polity and "it's no longer within its capacity to stop terrorism".
President Erdoğan: EU not everything, Turkey may join Shanghai Five
Turkey should not be “fixated” on the idea of joining the European Union and should look at other opportunities, such as the Russia-led Shanghai Pact, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“Turkey should first of all feel relaxed about the EU and not be fixated” about joining it, Erdoğan told reporters on the presidential plane returning from Uzbekistan, daily Hürriyet reported.
“Some may criticize me but I express my opinion. For example, I have said ‘why shouldn’t Turkey be in the Shanghai 5?’” he said.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), also known as the “Shanghai 5,” is a loose security and economic bloc led by Russia and China. The other formal members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Erdoğan said he had already discussed the idea with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
“[The SCO] was established by five members, but then countries such as Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India also got involved,” he said.
“Iran wants to be involved and Mr. Putin said ‘we are evaluating the situation.’ Turkey being a part of the Shanghai 5 will allow it to act more freely [in its EU bid],” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan has several times floated plans for Turkey to join the SCO, a move that could scupper its long-standing EU membership bid.
Turkey formally applied to become an EU member in 1987 and accession talks only began in 2005, even though Ankara’s aspirations to become part of the bloc date back to the 1960s.
“The EU has been delaying us for 53 years. How can such a thing happen?” Erdoğan said.
“I was invited to the leaders’ summits in my early years as prime minister. Then they stopped inviting us. Why? Because we told everything as it was. For example, they open up [accession] chapters, but they don’t close them. Why open the chapters if they will not be closed?”
Relations between Turkey and the EU has been especially tense since the July 15 failed coup attempt. Ankara says it has not received enough support from its EU allies against the followers of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher widely believed to have masterminded the coup attempt, or other groups it deems terrorists.
Brussels, meanwhile, has harshly criticized the Turkish government’s crackdown on alleged coup plotters, urging Ankara to comply with the EU’s rights and freedoms criteria.
Speaking on his return from Uzbekistan, Erdoğan once again warned the EU to “decide by the end of the year” on Turkey’s membership bid and its pledge to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens as part of the refugee deal. He also again floated the idea of calling a referendum on the matter of Turkey’s EU accession bid.
“Latin America countries enjoy visa-free travel [in the Schengen zone], but they delay Turkey. We discussed the issue the other day and said: ‘Let’s be patient until the end of the year. Some things have to happen, or we’ll shut down that file on the readmission [of migrants as part of the refugee deal],’” Erdoğan added.
Turkey and the EU agreed to speed up membership talks in March as part of an accord on curbing migrant flows into Greece.
The deal was clinched in return for several incentives for Ankara, including EU cash assistance for Syrian refugees in Turkey and visa-free travel to the Schengen area by Turks.
But the process, which was already in difficulty, is on a sharp downward spiral following Ankara’s crackdown after the attempted coup. Some European parliamentarians have even backed calls for membership talks with Ankara to be halted.
One Turkish soldier was killed in an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack in northern Syria on Nov. 19, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Three soldiers were wounded when ISIL militants staged a bomb attack targeting Turkish troops near the city of Al-Bab, north of Aleppo.
The wounded were immediately admitted to hospital in the border province of Gaziantep, where private Oğuzhan Demir later succumbed to his wounds.
The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been fighting around the regions of Al-Bab and Al-Rai as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation, which was launched in late August to rid the northern Syrian border area of ISIL and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD.)
Parliamentarians from NATO nations on Nov. 19 reviewed possible responses to terrorism threats, as well as Moscow’s challenge to the Alliance, at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s annual session in Istanbul.
“This is our Assembly’s first opportunity to review the outcomes of NATO’s Summit in Warsaw in July,” NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) President, U.S. Congressman Michael R. Turner said.
Turner also welcomed the Nov. 18 phone conversation between United States President-elect Donald J. Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, adding that both had commented on the need to reduce the ongoing disparity in defense expenditure among allies.
"The United States has adopted a European Reassurance Initiative. Maybe Europeans should adopt an American Reassurance Initiative,” Turner noted.
In addition, the head of the Turkish delegation, Osman Aşkın Bak, emphasized “the important developments regarding NATO’s role in global security,” in an environment characterized by “more diverse and more dangerous challenges,” pointing out that Turkey was in the frontline, particularly in the fight against terrorism.
Bak also stressed that “this meeting has special meaning for us,” by giving top officials from Turkey the chance to share their views on NATO and explain to deputies what happened four months on from the failed coup attempt of July 15.
Turner expressed his support for Turkey in its battle with terrorism and its struggle to host some three million Syrian refugees.
“We are holding this session here in Istanbul as another way to demonstrate our solidarity with Turkey and the Turkish people, and to recognize the trauma that the coup represented,” he stressed, noting that the alliance is “in support of Turkish democracy.”
“Solidarity and democracy go hand in hand. They are NATO’s shared values,” Turner said.
However, several members raised concerns over a series of dismissals and arrests of teachers, opposition politicians, civil servants, judges and journalists as well as the military in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
“We understand a strong reaction is necessary for this traumatic experience,” Dutch legislator Salima Belhaj said. “However, we are worried about the developments the rule of law is taking in Turkey.”
Belhaj was among several NATO PA members who quizzed Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ when he met with the Assembly’s Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security.
Bozdağ said the authorities were “working within the law” in responding to the coup attempt.
Turkish ministers complained that allies had been slow to condemn the July 15 coup attempt and appealed for more support from the West to help Turkey fight terrorism, bolster its defenses and cope with the around 3 million refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq.
“We do not see international solidarity. This is a huge disappointment,” Bozdağ said.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said Ankara was playing a key security role on NATO’s southern and eastern flanks and wanted more reassurance measures from the Alliance.
“NATO should also keep its promises … so that all NATO members can feel themselves safe and secure on the eastern and southern flanks,” Çavuşoğlu told the NATO PA’s Political Committee.
That’s why we call on NATO to take action,” he added.
Lawmakers also adopted reports on Nov. 18 urging the Alliance’s nations to stand firm in supporting Ukraine and maintain a strong stance against Russian belligerence.
“It is clear that conditions for an improved relationship currently do not exist; that Russia’s foreign policy priorities and the values underpinning these priorities remain in fundamental conflict with those of NATO,” said a report adopted by the NATO PA’s Political Committee.
“Through its actions and rhetoric, Russia continues to unsettle the European security environment and undermine the stability upon which Alliance security depends.” it added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, several senior government ministers and a plethora of security, defense and migration experts will join the legislators over four days for what is the NATO PA’s 62nd annual session.
20 November 2016
By Khalid Kazimov– Trend:
The Iranian Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri has attended Arbaeen ceremony in Najaf, Iraq, to mark the end of the 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam.
Earlier on Saturday speaking to Iraqi Prime Minister over phone, the Iranian official hailed the Iraqi government’s efforts for providing security in the Arab country, IRNA news agency reported.
“Iran acknowledges power of the Iraqi government to launch operation for Mosul liberation in parallel with management of major procession in Karbala and Najaf to mark Arbaeen,” Eshaq Jahangiri said.
Annually a large number of Shia Muslims attend the Arbaeen ceremony to mark the 40 days since Ashura when Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed in the desert plains of Karbala about 14 centuries ago.
Turkey’s external debt is at a relatively “controllable” level despite a recent increase, Mehmet Şimşek, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs, said on Nov. 19.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Istanbul, Şimşek spoke on Turkey’s overall economic situation.
Among some good developments, he said income inequality has narrowed and the banking sector has been going very well.
He also said that female labor force participation rate had reached 32 percent, but added, “There is still a long way to go.”
However, Şimşek said terror attacks in the country had a negative impact on the economy, resulting in a slower growth rate, currently standing at 3.4 percent.
That compares to last year’s rate of 4 percent, according to World Bank data, but is still higher than the European Union’s 2015 rate of 1.9 percent, and the 2 percent growth rate among OECD members.
To better understand Turkey’s economy, Şimşek said, we must look at a series of internal and external events, including the elections of the past few years and the July 15 defeated coup.
There has been a great drop in tourism revenues due to the terror-related issues, Şimşek noted.
“We have also been the country most affected by the instability in Syria,” he added.
On oil prices, Şimşek said they could rise in the short term.
The World Bank is raising its 2017 forecast for crude oil prices from $53 to $55 per barrel, as OPEC member countries prepare to limit production after a long period of unrestrained output.
Nearly 250,000 Pakistanis Deported From Various Countries during 2012-2015: Report
APP | DAWN.COM — UPDATED about an hour ago
Nearly 250,000 Pakistanis were deported from various countries during the years 2012-2015, a report quoting statistics issued by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) revealed on Saturday.
The "Labour Migration from Pakistan: 2015 Status Report" showed that a total of 242,817 Pakistanis were deported over the time period, according to the FIA's deportation statistics.
The year with the highest number of Pakistani deportees is 2014 with 73,064 deportees, whereas 2010 has the smallest number at 46,032.
Irregular Pakistani migrants deported between 2012-15
Saudi Arabia: 131,643
United Arab Emirates: 32,458
United Kingdom: 9,778
The report said that around 513,231 individuals were deported from different countries from 2007 to June 2015, suggesting an upward trend over time which may be indicative of an increase in the human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has found that the majority of irregular migration involved migrants originating from Punjab, especially from Gujrat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan and Sialkot.
Most of the individuals deported from Saudi Arabia and the UAE were job seekers and businessmen, whereas many of those deported from Iran were in transit to Greece.
Deportations from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is attributed mainly to security-related issues, the report claimed.
From 2005-06 to 2014-15, around 932,051 migrant workers were stranded in destination countries due to lack of proper documentation and thus deported.
The largest number of stranded Pakistanis at 882,887 was deported from Jeddah, followed by Doha and Qatar at 4,200.
Around 14,628 migrant workers were detained in jails in destination countries during the said period, while consulate officials or community welfare attaches made 4,200 monitoring visits to the employment sites of the migration workers.
Most of the visits were made in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (1,863) followed by Kuwait (652), Manama (496) and Seoul (400), the report said.
ISLAMABAD: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz here on Saturday.
Mr Welby was briefed on the role of minorities in Pakistan’s development and steps taken by the government for their welfare.
Mr Aziz welcomed Rt Hon Welby and highlighted the important role being played by the Christian community in the country’s development.
He presented an overview of the historical context shaping current developments in the region, including Pakistan.
He explained the progress achieved in Pakistan by the strengthening of democratic institutions, launching of an effective counterterrorism campaign and efforts for reviving the economy.
Mr Aziz informed the dignitary about the measures taken by the government for ensuring the welfare and security of religious minorities.
He said that the number of seats reserved for the minorities in the national and provincial assemblies had been increased and an allocation of five per cent quota in public appointments had been made.
He said that minorities, especially Christians, had made significant contribution to the development activities in Pakistan.
Both sides exchanged views on the causes of religiously motivated violence around the world and laid stress on the important role of religious leaders in creating interfaith harmony.
The Archbishop acknowledged the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
He also applauded the steps taken by the government for protecting the rights of minorities and called for greater interfaith dialogue to achieve the goals of peace and development for all.
Thousands of Indonesians rally against racial, religious intolerance
Sun, 20 Nov 2016
Concerns about rising hardline Islamic sentiment in Indonesia have grown since police decided to investigate a blasphemy complaint by Muslim groups against the Christian governor of Jakarta Basuki Purnama Purnama.
Thousands of Indonesians held a peaceful rally on Saturday to promote unity, saying they were worried by signs of growing racial and religious intolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
Dressed in red and white shirts, the colours of the Indonesian flag, religious leaders, members of human rights groups, lawmakers and others marched along a central Jakarta street. Some held posters with the national motto "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika", which means unity in diversity, while others performed traditional dances.
"This is about diversity, but also about unity. We have to separate politics from ethnicity, religion, and race," said 25-year old Iwan Saputra. "I want Indonesia to stay united."
Concerns about rising hardline Islamic sentiment in the country of 250 million people have grown since police decided on Wednesday to investigate a blasphemy complaint by Muslim groups against the Christian governor of Jakarta.
More than 100,000 Muslims protested against Governor Basuki Purnama Purnama earlier in November. Police fired tear gas and water cannon to quell the protest.
"The economy is growing, infrastructure is being built everywhere. Don't let this all be destroyed just because of ego," said Saidiman Ahmad, an activist with Liberal Islam Network.
Some analysts have said the police decision to pursue the case was a blow to democracy as well as diversity. Indonesia recognises six religions and is home to several minority groups that adhere to traditional beliefs.
Police chief, other security officials attend sermon at Jakarta mosque
Jakarta | Sun, November 20, 2016
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian attended a sermon at Al-Riyadh Mosque in Kwitang, Central Jakarta on Sunday morning.
Tito, who arrived at 8 a.m., was welcomed by staff of the congregation.
Tito said he regularly attended public sermon in Kwitang since the days when he was still an officer with the Central Jakarta Police.
“I know Habib Abdurrohman well,” Tito said, as quoted by the news agency Antara.
He said his visit was purely to listen to Habib’s sermon and not related to the situation in Jakarta.
“Once again, this is not the first time I come here,” he said.
Tito wore white Muslim attire and a black peci (hat) and rushed into the building after briefly talking to journalists.
With him were National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, Jakarta Military Command chief Maj. Gen. Teddy Lhaksmana, Jakata Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Suntana and Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono. (evi)
Men Arrested in Bekasi Help Indonesian Militants Join Islamic State: Policei
Jakarta. Five men who were arrested in the West Java district of Bekasi on Friday (18/11) are suspected of sending Indonesian militants to fight with the Islamic State in Syria, a police source said.
Government officials claim nearly 500 Indonesians had gone to war-torn Syria to join the Islamic State.
Police are questioning the men to see if they are also linked to terrorist networks in Indonesia.
"We arrested them for their involvement in sending Indonesian foreign fighters to Syria to join the Islamic State," a source at the National Police said on Saturday.
Around 40 of the 500 Islamic State militants have reportedly returned to Indonesia — 20 of them are said to have acquired combat experience.
Indonesia has seen a string of Islamic State-linked attacks this year, one of which killed four people in Central Jakarta in January.
Nov 19, 2016
The parents of a 4-year-old girl, who suffered severe burns in a terror attack on a church in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province, have forgiven the accused, identified as a former convicted terrorist linked to the Islamic State group, and have said they will not even ask God to punish him.
A bomb, reportedly a molotov cocktail, was thrown inside the Gereja Oikumene Church compound in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, where children were playing, on Sunday, killing a toddler and injuring three other infants, The Jakarta Post reported.
Man Admits His Lie About Jakarta's Christian Leader Led to Blasphemy Protest
Muslim Radicals Attack 200 Christians at Indonesian Church, Harass Priest for Reading the Bible
Trinity Hutahaean, a 4-year-old girl was among the three severely wounded in the attack. The toddler's aunt, Roina Simanjuntak, says the family has forgiven the accused.
The girl's parents say, "God teaches us to forgive and not to pay revenge," Simanjuntak was quoted as saying. "I have a big hope that my family members, especially Trinity's mother, can face this hard time. She is still in trauma after seeing what happened to her child."
The mother did not pray to God to punish the accused, she added, according to the Post.
Samarinda is a Muslim-majority area, with a sizeable population of Protestants and Catholics.
The bomber has been identified as Johanda, and arrested. "Johanda was released on parole after receiving sentence cuts during the celebration of Idul Fitri festivities on July 28, 2014. He has been arrested and detained at the Samarinda Police Office," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafly was quoted as saying.
Johanda, reportedly linked to the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, was arrested for his alleged role in a terror attack in Jakarta in January, and was supposed to have remained in prison until 2017 on terrorism charges, but the Law and Human Rights Ministry chose to shorten his sentence by two years, paving a way for him to seek parole.
The accused is from Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, an Indonesian terrorist faction that supports IS. University of Indonesia terrorism expert Ridwan Habib believes IS is seeking to create sectarian tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country, which is home to the world's largest Muslim population.
Ridwan was quoted as saying that the attack came days after IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a public call for all IS sympathizers to launch sporadic attacks across the world as the terror group faced defeat in Mosul, Iraq.
While the majority of the people in Indonesia are known to be tolerant and moderate, there are several extremist Islamist groups in the country. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 1,000 churches in the archipelago have been closed over the last decade due to pressure from such groups.
Islamic Movement in Nigeria slams demolition of its buildings
Sun Nov 20, 2016
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has condemned the government’s demolition of its key buildings. The minority Shia group has described the action as a violation of the constitutional right to worship and practice a religion. Press TV Correspondent Danjuma Abdullahi has more.
CAIRO: An Egyptian court sentenced the head of the journalists’ union and two board members to two years in prison on Saturday for harbouring colleagues wanted by the law and spreading false news, judicial sources and their lawyer said.
Amnesty International condemned the sentences as “a new stage of a crackdown on media and freedom of expression”.
The verdict comes amid efforts by Egyptian authorities to quell rising dissent against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as the economy deteriorates.
Union chief Yehia Qalash and the two board members, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim, can appeal the decision. A bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($623) has been set for each of them.
“The three of us have been put on trial (but) the target is the whole syndicate,” Qalash told dozens of journalists and union officials who gathered at the syndicate headquarters after the verdict.
Union officials called for an emergency syndicate meeting this weekend to discuss how to respond to the verdict.
Riot police and armoured vehicles filled the streets surrounding the building.
The verdict marks the first time for a head of the journalists’ syndicate to be put on trial since the union was founded 75 years ago.
Pakistan must take more effective action against terror groups: US
PTI | Nov 19, 2016
WASHINGTON: Pakistan "can and must" take more effective action against terror groups operating from its soil as no state should allow its territory to be used to launch attacks into another, the White House has said.
"While recognising the sacrifices of the people and the security forces of Pakistan in fighting some militant and terrorist networks -- a fight which we support -- President (Barack) Obama has emphasised that Pakistan "can and must" also take more effective action against terrorist groups operating from its soil," a senior White House official said yesterday.
"The President has made it very clear that no state should allow its territory to be used by terrorists to launch attacks into another state, and we will continue to engage on this issue," he said in response to a 'We the People' online petition that was signed by a record 665,769 people.
The petition asked the Obama administration to declare Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, as desired by a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives by two Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher.
"Since the bill cited by the petition remains in draft, we will not comment on it here," he added.
Meanwhile, the State Department has also refused to comment on the bill.
"I am not going to get into a discussion about that. We routinely discuss with our Pakistani counterparts the importance for continued focus and energy on the counter- terrorism efforts and the terrorism threat, particularly along that spine between the two countries.
"Our focus on this and the focus that we want to see Pakistan expend on it, that is not going to change," State Department Spokesman John Kirby said.
The State Department, he said, has seen comments made by the incoming administration on counter-terrorism.
"I have seen some comments that they have made about a counter-terrorism focus. That is for them to address.
"Nothing changes about our focus on the importance of regional, collaborative and effective counter-terrorism operations and to our interest in seeing all the countries in the region likewise expend a great deal of energy and effort and leadership on that. I just cannot speculate about the future and I would not do that," Kirby added.
The Muslim Students Society of Nigeria has said Islam will flourish during the administration of Donald Trump, the United States of America’s president-elect.
According to the Islamic group, Allah is instrumental to the emergence of Trump as the next US president.
Speaking on the issue, the National President of the MSSN, Jameel Muhammad, said, “Allah gives leadership to whom he wills. I see Islam growing fast in the West and the United States in particular, under his reign.”
Similarly, President of Nasrul-Lahi-L-Islam-Fatih Society, Kamil Bolarinwa, told one of our correspondents that there would be no negative implication of Trump’s presidency.
“Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Muslims will not be adversely affected by the actions of any antagonist of Islam. Moreover, we do not see Trump as becoming anti-Islam. We pray that God guides Trump towards a more peaceful future for America and all,” the NASFAT head stated.
But an Islamic group, Muslim Rights Concern, stated that Trump’s victory would have serious implications for Muslims living in the US and elsewhere around the world.
According to MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the advent of Trump has divided America along racial and religious lines.
“It is the last straw that broke the camel’s back. He threatened to close mosques. He also swore to create a special database for muslims in order to control terrorism. MURIC respects the wish of Americans to stand by their national interest,” he said.
Meanwhile, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama, has called on Trump, to “behave like a president” and use the opportunity of his election to reconsider his threat to eject immigrants from the country.
Kaigama, who is also the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, stated this in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH at an international conference organised by CBCN in collaboration with the German Bishops Conference Research Group on International Church Affairs.
The cleric said, “Sometimes, such statements are for election campaigns. Let us hope that was just the issue. Now that Trump has won (the US presidential) election, I hope that he will behave like a president. A president is like a mother hen which gathers the young ones together and protects them. He should do the right thing by being broad-minded and make sure he is a president for all.”
Speaking about the event, the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said the conference which was sponsored by Missio Aachen of Germany, was a follow-up to an earlier international programme on a related matter, held in Rome in 2013.
The Japanese American Citizens League criticises a Donald Trump adviser's statement of setting up a registration for immigrants of Muslim countries as wrong
By DOUG TSURUOKA NOVEMBER 20, 2016
The Japanese American Citizens League, the national organization representing persons of Japanese ancestry in the US, has blasted a statement by Carl Higbie, the co-chair and spokesperson for the Great America Political Action Committee for Donald Trump, in which the adviser to the President-elect discussed the possibility of creating a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries on a Fox News segment.
Higbie, a former Navy SEAL, argued that such registration would survive a constitutional test and noted, “We’ve done it with Iran back a while ago. We did it during World War II with the Japanese.”
The JACL, a long-standing critic of the World War II internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans by the US government, said in a statement: “Higbie’s attempt to cite Japanese American incarceration as a precedent for this type of action is frightening and wrong. It’s a statement intended to lay a marker for a misguided belief that ignores the true lessons of Japanese American incarceration.
“This lesson was captured in the words of a federal commission that said, “… The broad historical causes which shaped these decisions (to incarcerate Japanese Americans) were race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
The organization added: “JACL believes that some of these same conditions exist today, where Muslim Americans are being singled out and unfairly targeted, and where the voices of leadership that should be speaking out against unfair treatment are not.
We must not misinterpret our history by believing the Japanese American incarceration was justified as a precedent for similar actions today, and further, we must not use the wrongdoing perpetrated against Japanese Americans during World War II as a justification for the mistreatment of Muslim Americans.”
US President Ronald Reagan issued a formal apology to the Japanese American survivors of the wartime relocation camps in 1988 under the Civil Liberties Act. The government also paid out US$20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim.
The wartime administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt “relocated” between 110,000 to 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast in 1942 to 10 internment camps located in desert sites or disused land in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Arkansas. Some 62% of the internees were US citizens.
They were not allowed to leave the camps until 1944 when some were permitted to resettle on the East Coast. Those who wished to return to their original homes on the West Coast could not do so until 1945 – until Japan surrendered to the allies.
The JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the US.
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