being offered at the mosque on Taj premises(Raju Tomat/ HT photo)
Love Lost As Religious Row Plays Out At Taj Mahal
Jamaat-e-Islami Not an Internal Issue of Bangladesh, Says India
Terror-Struck Pakistan Village, Home Is Where the Cave Is
Teacher Cleaning Egypt Church Says: ‘I Did It for My Daughters’
Muslim Congresswomen by Dropping Ban On Headwear
Processions Cause Tension In Agra; Muslim Leaders Intervene To Check Violence
Muslim litigants call for peace, harmony
New alliance is a combination of terror-friendly parties, says BJP
Attack: Youth Held, CM Says Pakistan Bid To Disturb Peace
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Court Allows Jailed Journalists to Appeal Convictions
condemns deadly attack on religious scholars in Kabul
Ghani Talks about The Circles Involved In Recent Kabul Bombing
Repatriation, Relocation Plans Set to Be Pushed Back to 2019: Govt Official
Pakistan Village, Home Is Where the Cave Is
to Propose Int’l Convention on Religious Defamation
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coalition strikes eastern Syrian town with white phosphorus bombs
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Militants Suffer Several Casualties in Kurdish Attacks in Northern Syria
Capture Kurdish Militias following Intensified Tensions in Northeastern Syria
Congress Urged to Probe Trump, Kushner Ties to Saudi after Khashoggi’s Death
Corker, Menendez demand determination on Khashoggi
Senators blast Trump's statement on Khashoggi
thanks Saudi Arabia for lower oil prices
tells Khamenei: Iran should spend on its people, not terrorists
I do not think CIA identified those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing
imposes new sanctions on entities, individuals for Syria oil sales
Pakistan ties plunge with new war of words
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The Jewish-Muslim 'Chicken Soup Challenge' Cooked Up By UK's Home Office?
Bill to recognize Palestine submitted to parliament
arms sold to Saudis must follow humanitarian law
and Iran angered by new US sanctions targeting Iranian oil exports to Syria
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Muslims Want Prophet Muhammad's Day National Holiday - Eid Miladun-Nabi
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Force’ Blogger Joins Forces with Malay Groups To ‘Destroy DAP’
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by New Age Islam News Bureau
world over as the monument of love, Taj Mahal is again in the throes of
controversy, with fringe elements clashing over their “right” to perform
‘Namaz’ on all days / ‘Aarti’ on its premises. Stakeholders in the city’s
tourism sector have raised an alarm over this spiralling conflict, which on one
side has some Muslims demanding ‘Namaz’ at Taj on days other than Friday, and
on the other has right wing activists stressing on organising ‘Aarti’ at the
monument they insist is in fact a Shiva temple.
video that went viral on Saturday showed some activists performing ‘Aarti’ at
the Taj, which opens up every Friday -- its weekly closure day -- for allowing
local Muslims to offer ‘Namaz’.
the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Central Industrial Security
Force (CISF) officials said they were verifying the contents of the video,
people have voiced concerns against the dangers of letting a communal
tug-of-war play out at the globally famed structure that draws numerous
tourists to India.
latest controversy began on November 3, said Ibrahim Zaidi, president of the
Taj Mahal Mosque Management Committee. “The ASI locked up the railing around
the ‘Wuhu’ tank (for performing ablution) near the mosque on the premises of
the monument,” he alleged.
was done on the pretext of security concerns although the central tank, which
is visited by tourists of all ages, also remains filled with water,” he said,
adding that it was a “planned design” to stop ‘namaz’ at the Taj mosque -- a
tradition older than the monument itself. “The mosque came into existence
before the Taj Mahal,” claimed Zaidi.
ASI officials said the step was taken after it was found that ‘namaz’ was being
offered at the Taj on days other than Friday. According to rules, ‘namaz’ can
be offered at the structure only on Fridays -- from 12 pm to 2 pm, they said.
ASI official placed a gazette notification at both the eastern and western
gates of the Taj Mahal, detailing the provisions for offering Friday ‘namaz’ at
the monument. The notification mentioned no permission for any other day. “We
are just complying with orders. The prevailing directives find no sanction for
‘namaz’ on any other day. We had asked those offering ‘namaz’ at the mosque
last week not to do so, but no heed was paid,” said Ankit Namdev, conservation
the other hand, Zaidi accused the ASI of pressuring the Imam Sayyad Sadiq Ali,
deputed at the mosque, to disallow ‘namaz’ at Taj on all days barring Friday.
“This is unacceptable. The forefathers of the present imam have been conducting
‘namaz’ here for 400 years without any hindrance regarding the day of the week.
There is no rule saying that ‘namaz’ can be offered here only on Friday -- an
assertion that ASI is making without proof or document,” said Zaidi.
said the recent act of performing ‘Aarti’ at the Taj was an “additional
complication” that had been introduced in a “planned manner” to stop the
Parashar, who is heading the Rashtriya Bajrang Dal (RBD) unit in Agra, said,
“Who started all this? Why are some people going unpunished despite offering
‘namaz’ at Taj on days other than Friday? I was sent to jail for seven months
when I gave the call to offer ‘aarti’ at the monument, which is in fact the
Shiva temple ‘Tejo Mahalaya’. A suit is pending in court regarding declaring
Taj a Shiva temple and banning ‘Namaz’ on its premises.”
are we alone being blamed for turning a tourism destination into a centre of
controversies? None can be above law. We did not raise the issue of ‘aarti’ for
a long time, but then they (Muslims) began offering ‘Namaz’ on weekdays and
more than a thousand turned up for the Friday ‘Namaz’ at Taj last week.
Earlier, only a handful used to come,” he added.
women’s wing district president Meena Diwakar said her group entered the Taj
Mahal with ‘dhoopbatti’ (incense sticks), Gangajal and a match box and
performed ‘aarti’ at the mosque there.
‘purified’ the location as it is our ‘Shiv Temple’, the sanctity of which was
damaged by ‘namaz’. The identity of the Taj Mahal is because of Tejo Mahalaya,
the Shiva Temple. Permission was granted for offering namaz once on Friday but
it has been offered on other days too. So we also offered ‘aarti’. We are
prepared to face action if those violating the norms by offering ‘Namaz’ on
weekdays are punished,” she said. Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad also
offered support to Diwakar for performing ‘Aarti’ at the Taj. Sunil Parashar,
Braj region vice president of the VHP called the move “justified”.
Raj Kishore Raje, who moved an application under the Right to Information Act
seeking clarity on the status of ‘Namaz’ being offered at the Taj mosque, said,
“The publication department of the ASI at Delhi and the Information Officer of
the ASI circle office in Agra deny there is any order or precedence for
offering ‘Namaz’ at the Taj mosque on any day other than Friday. Otherwise also
there are various mosques where ‘Namaz’ is not offered. These include the
Nagina Masjid, the Meena Masjid and the Moti Masjid on the premises of Agra
who has served as the head of a museum in Agra and has penned books on the
city’s history, added, “There seems to be no documentation of ‘namaz’ at the
Taj mosque during the Mughal regime or the British period or in free India. The
idea of ‘namaz’ on weekdays seems to be an afterthought. This has given rise to
demands for ‘aarti’ at the monument. Both ‘namaz’ and ‘aarti’ demands by fringe
groups are damaging for Taj.” He said Mughal emperor Shah Jahan bought the land
for building the Taj Mahal in exchange of land he offered to Maharaja Jai Singh
of Jaipur through a ‘Shahi Farman’ (royal order).
Dang, a veteran of tourism trade in Taj city and founder-patron, Tourism Guild
of Agra, said, “Taj Mahal’s popularity is fast becoming its curse. People are
looking at short-cuts to fame by using the monument for their vested
stands for ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tahzeeb’ (composite culture). Such controversies are
not only damaging for tourism, but also bring bad name to the city and the
country,” said Dang, adding that authorities needed to handle the “problem
causing elements” with toughness.
Taj be: tourists
tourists visiting the Taj Mahal said that “such issues” should be kept away
from the world-famous heritage site. “Taj is an epitome of beauty and
controversies on religious lines do not go with its ethos. No one should be
allowed to harm its reputation. Many in the west know our country because of
the Taj. So, the government should be sensible and sensitive while protecting
the sanctity of a key tourism destination,” said a tourist who was visiting the
monument with his family.
over a period of more than two decades, the 17th century monument stands on the
southern bank of Yamuna.
is widely believed that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan got the Taj Mahal constructed
it in the memory of his departed wife Mumtaz Mahal.
white marble mausoleum is flanked by a ‘mehmankhana’ on the east and a mosque
on the west, where ‘Namaz’ has traditionally been offered on Eid, Bakrid and
Fridays. Till the 1970s, the monument remained open throughout the week without
any entry charge.
changed with security threats emerging in the 80s. The gates of the Taj closed
at night and a ticket had to be bought to visit it during the day. However,
entry remained free on Fridays when ‘Namaz’ was offered at the mosque on the
the 90s, the Supreme Court said that the monument should be closed for a day in
the week for maintenance and conservation. Monday was chosen as the weekly
closure. But, about a decade later, it was moved to Friday -- the day when the
crowd of visitors swelled up, as there were no entry charges.
January 15, 2001, a government order stated that the Taj gates were to remain
open for ‘Namazis’ for two hours on Friday afternoon.
remained the issue
Muslim tourists making
on Friday, although entry was barred for non-Muslims. The matter reached the
Supreme Court that ordered in July this year that only local Muslims were to be
allowed inside Taj on Fridays for
‘Namaz’/ ‘Aarti’ controversy is the latest to dog the Taj Mahal. Earlier, right
wing activists had asserted that the monument should be recognised as ‘Tejo
Mahalaya’, a Shiva temple that was converted into a mausoleum.
issue of Taj Mahal building being harmed by pollutants is also a sensitive one.
Industries in Agra have faced closure, as the government took steps to check
the effect of pollution on the monument.
premises have also been a favourite destination of protesters, especially
lawyers seeking a high court bench in western UP who have gatecrashed the
monument to get a wide audience for their demand. The Supreme Court had to
intervene and ban all publicity seeking gatherings or protests on the Taj
premises and its vicinity.
Jamaat-e-Islami not an internal issue of Bangladesh, says India
insists the “communal” politics of Jamaat-e-Islami which sided with Pakistan in
1971 is not an internal issue of Bangladesh and that the “ideological battle
has not been fully resolved yet”.
is why today you have a situation where you are either for Bangladesh or
anti-Bangladesh,” said an Indian diplomat ahead of the general elections in
were directly involved in 1971. Our people shed blood. So we cannot just say it
does not matter. It’s not an internal issue (of Bangladesh). It’s a fundamental
issue that we cannot compromise.”
is the party (Jamaat) that has opposed the liberation of Bangladesh. They
represent those who collaborated with the government of Pakistan. They
represent those who oppose the very fundamental interest of Bangladesh,” the
diplomat who cannot be named in media told bdnews24.com.
High Commission in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla like other diplomats is meeting
political parties and their leaders ahead of the Dec 30 elections.
Jamaat-e-Islami, which was against Bangladesh’s birth in 1971, has lost its
registration to run as a political party and contest in elections.
its leaders are seen active with their ally BNP. Some of them are also going to
contest in the elections with the BNP symbol ‘paddy sheaf’.
about India’s position, the diplomat, who has knowledge about Bangladesh and
India’s policy regarding the country, said who is allying with whom is internal
are secular but work hand in hand with Jamaat. This is contradiction. But
that’s not for us to judge. It is the people of Bangladesh who will decide. Our
position is consistent that we cannot compromise with fundamental forces.”
them change their constitution first. They even don’t recognise the
constitution of Bangladesh. They oppose the independence of Bangladesh,"
troops came here to Bangladesh and fought and shed their blood. We were
directly involved in 1971. Many of our people have died and shed their blood on
the soil of Bangladesh. So it’s not a small thing for us.
whole idea was to ensure that you are liberated. This is your country. But we
cannot compromise with those who fought against the ideology. They believe in
caliphate, not in democracy," added the diplomat.
India-Bangladesh relations are termed “far beyond the strategic level” by the two
prime ministers – Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina.
two countries in the last three years signed a record number of 92 agreements
touching almost all areas of cooperation from high-tech to space technology.
has written to Hasina at least 24 letters on different occasions and both of
them jointly inaugurated at least 19 development projects through
has also extended $8 billion line of credit for Bangladesh’s development
want this momentum of cooperation continues,” the Indian diplomat said.
us Bangladesh, as our external affairs minister made it clear, is the top
priority country when it comes to 'neighbourhood first' policy of our prime
minister. We want a stable and peaceful Bangladesh which is good for both of
instability in Bangladesh will trigger instability in India. Our relation is
not zero-sum game,” explained the diplomat.
terror-struck Pakistan village, home is where the cave is
DELHI: Bomb-proof, earthquakeresistant and cheap: thousands of people in
Pakistan are choosing to hunker down in caves northwest of Islamabad, snapping
up the hobbit-like homes amid a nationwide housing shortage.
around 60km from Pakistan’s capital, nearly 3,000 people live in caves in the
village of Hasan Abdal, according to councilor Haji Abdul Rasheed — whose own
home is among the dwellings carved into the hillside embankments.
cave — or “buray” as it is locally known — consists of a few minimally furnished
rooms and a veranda.
caves are usually dug by hand, with residents using clay to plaster the walls —
a practice which serves as a bulwark against landslides, they say. “If you
build a mud house, it collapses during the rains. This does not collapse,” says
Rasheed. “It’s earthquakeproof and bomb-proof.”
locals have been living in caves for at least five centuries since the area was
settled, a surge in housing prices has renewed the appetite for these homes.
“We bought this because it’s cheaper,” says resident Ameer Ullah Khan.
also recommend the structures as suited to Pakistan’s weather — staying cool as
summertime temperature soar past 40°C and providing a warm cocoon during
winters. Life is not easy however: lacking sufficient natural light, the caves
rely on electricity cabled in from outside to power TV sets, while indoor
plumbing is a rare luxury.
with cave prices averaging around about Rs 40,000 ($300) compared to brick
homes that start around Rs 2,50,000, locals and property experts say they are
more affordable than other options.
her initiative to clean a church with the help of her Muslim girl students was
met with a lot of praise, the teacher Eng. Heba Saad Hashash revealed the
details and motivation for her action.
an interview with Al-Arabiya.net, the teacher disclosed that she had cleaned
the church, despite objections from some people, in order to promote a loving
and tolerant homeland where she and her daughters could feel safe, in addition
to her other 2,400 students in the city of Mallawi in Minya in southern Egypt,
whom she considers her children as well.
added that she did it for her country and for her fellow Copts who live in the
city and who were under difficult and harsh circumstances following the recent
terrorist incident on the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which resulted
in the deaths of seven people.
Hashash noted that it was her duty as an educator, teacher and school director,
to set a good example of peace and coexistence between religions and to educate
this generation and the future ones that for one to be a good Muslim he needs
to believe in Allah, his prophets and their messages, in accordance with the
words of God Almighty.
Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the
men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and
make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His messengers.”
they say: “We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to
Thee is the end of all journeys.”
Hashash said that she brought together a group of 15 students, all of whom
received the approval of their families, and went to the church.
herself cleaned the church with a broom as did her students. They also cleaned
the library and every inch of the church. She stated that she was surprised
that the images taken by some have been widely shared on social media sites.
Hashash said that she had received praise from the Muslims and Copts of the
city for what she had done, revealing her happiness and stressing that the
feelings of love and affection between Muslims and Copts in Egypt are real and
deep, not just a slogan expressed only
in front of the media.
said that she believed in her initiative because it was the embodiment of the
real religion and a reflection of her feelings as well as the feelings of all
the residents of the city who suffered from the destruction and burning of
houses of worship after the revolution of June 2013, adding that she will seek
to develop such actions in the hearts of her students because they will be
mothers in the future and they ought to raise and nurture the next generation
based on love and tolerance.
media sites in Egypt praised the photos of Muslim girls cleaning the church in
Mallawi. The initiative received praise which expressed the spirit of love,
tolerance and unity between Muslims and Copts in Egypt.
welcomed the initiative, stressing that the most prominent feature of it was
that it emerged from the heart of Minya province, which recently witnessed a
terror attack targeting the Copts during their visit to the monastery of Samuel
the confessor, killing seven people.
city of Mallawi was the theatre of many attacks orchestrated by the Brotherhood
and its members after the outbreak of the June 30 revolution of 2013 and the
overthrow of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi.
comments on the images and the initiative were positive, constructive and
supportive, stressing that the Muslims of Egypt and Copts are one fabric and
one people that cannot be divided or exploited to cause strife and sectarian
divisions and disrupt the stability of the country.
Muslim congresswomen by dropping ban on headwear
month, for the first time in history, Americans elected two Muslim women to the
Tlaib, a Democrat who will represent Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, is
the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress. Ilhan Omar, elected
to represent Minnesota’s 5th District, is the first Somali-American woman, the
first Minnesotan of color and the first refugee elected to Congress.
that Muslim women have been in the United States since before the nation’s
founding, we can cheer the progress represented by the breaking of these glass
ceilings, even if it’s upsetting that it has taken this long.
way to celebrate is to change rules and customs that implicitly marginalize or
exclude those who represent us. Omar is not even in office yet, but she is
already making this a priority. Omar, who wears hijab, is pushing to allow
religious headwear, such as Muslim hijabs, Jewish kippas and Sikh turbans.
of any kind has been banned from the House chamber since 1837. The rule,
designed to outlaw the wearing of hats, was written at a time and by people who
likely never imagined religious minorities rising up to help lead this nation.
At Omar’s urging, Democratic leaders have proposed in their draft rules for the
incoming Congress that religious headwear be permitted on the House floor.
many Americans, it will seem like a no-brainer to update the headwear policy
held by Congress and to uphold Omar’s constitutional right to practice her
sincerely held religious beliefs. Rules like this were not likely intended to
be malicious or exclusionary; it seems more likely that they were simply
written without certain people in mind.
the same time, policies like this — what we often refer to as structural
discrimination – are pervasive in this country. I know because I’ve personally
encountered them. Growing up in Texas, for instance, my brothers and I
encountered many situations where basketball referees and coaches told us we
couldn’t play with our turbans.
was only last year that the international governing body for basketball – FIBA
– updated its rules to allow players, who had been forced to choose between
their love for sport and faith, to hit the court with their heads covered. The
rule, the authorities had explained, was in place to ensure the safety of all competitors.
someone who has grown up playing basketball all his life, I promise you that
the cloth on my head poses no more of a threat than any other article of
clothing on my body.
Congress is guilty of maintaining outdated policies that infringe on religious
freedoms, how can Americans expect to change these discriminatory policies in
the House of Representatives, our most democratic institution, has rules in
place that discriminate against religious minorities, it sends the message that
it’s OK to discriminate everywhere against people based on how they look or
what they believe. It’s particularly ironic that a rule bars religious freedom
in the halls of Congress given that the First Amendment specifically states
that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof … ”
the other hand, Congress could send the opposite message by updating its
policies and showing that it will not tolerate wrongful discrimination anywhere
on the basis of religious identity.
adjusting a rule that never intended to discriminate, Congress could teach a
crucial less about discrimination: that intention is not the measure of
justice. Justice must also account for how our customs and routines affect
everyone. As we rid ourselves of rules that represent our blind mistreatment
and oppression of entire communities, we all become better citizens.
ascendance of leaders like Omar from historically marginalized communities
offers us a tremendous opportunity to learn, reflect, grow and do better. Let’s
make sure that we recognize this blessing and make the most of these
groups celebrating Prophet Mohammed's birth anniversary on Wednesday (November
21) in Agra were met with some resistance in Agra, causing tension in the city.
few localities in Agra objected to the processions brandishing weapons and
Nai Ki Mandi, Jama Masjid, Loha Mandi, Fulatti Bazar and Shahganj areas, these
groups were stopped and urged not to carry weapon. A few Muslims, too, joined
the others in asking the processions to not wield weapons. The tension doused
down with the efforts of some local Muslim leaders.
Jamiluddin Qureshi, president of Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee said that
he personally asked the groups passing through the Hospital Road area to desist
from carrying weapons. He said that this is a very dangerous precedent and
carrying weapons openly could spiral down into communal violence in case there
is a mishap.
also said that it is being seen that tolerance has been slipping away among
both the Hindu and the Muslim communities these days despite the fact that this
country has always thrived on the principle of tolerance.
observed that the literal meaning of tolerance is "to bear" and this
is the basic principle of Islam. It means accepting the fact that human beings,
naturally distinct in their appearance, situation, speech, behaviour and values
and have the right to live in peace. It also means that one's views are not to
be imposed on others. He said that we have to tolerate others and respect their
point of view.
Mudassar Qadri said that such processions are good and are a part of the
display of faith among Muslims for the Prophet. However, carrying weapons
should be avoided at any cost as it sends out a wrong message, making Islam
look like a martial religion, when it is in fact, a religion of peace.
Irfan Slim of the Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee, who took the initiative
to bring representatives of all religions on one stage in the city to welcome
these processions of devout Muslims, said that the religion of Islam revolves
around hope and fear of the one and only creator. So the believer is one who
has hope and fear.
said, "From the life of the Prophet we can learn many lessons of tolerance
as the Prophet did with all mankind whether it was a believer or non-believer.
He said that the whole personality of Prophet Mohammed demonstrates the
implication of tolerance towards other minorities."
Hindu seers and Muslim clerics held a peace meeting in Ayodhya on Tuesday
conveying the message of brotherhood and communal harmony ahead of VHP's Dharm
litigants in Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, Mahant Dharam Das and
Iqbal Ansari also attended the meeting. The speakers emphasised on maintaining
communal harmony and brotherhood in the city and nation.
Dharam Das said, "VHP has claimed that over one lakh devotees will attend
the Dharm Sabha in Ayodhya. Such a huge gathering must have created some
feeling of insecurity among Muslims, but they need not worry. It is our duty to
maintain peace in Ayodhya.
sadhus of Ayodhya will not let any one harm any Muslim citizen of
Yusuf Khan, a social activist, said, "Saffron forces are creating a hype
and giving an impression that Muslims are blocking the construction of Ram
temple, whereas the fact is that the matter is sub judice and the disputed site
as well as the adjoining land is in custody of the Supreme Court. Muslims are
not any where in the scene, and are not creating hurdles in way of the temple, we
want peace and harmony," he added.
Muslim leader Iqbal Mustafa said, "The gathering is taking place in the
name of construction of Ram temple at Ramjanmabhoomi. We have no objection to
Ram temple as we consider Lord Ram as Imam-e-Hind. Leaving the disputed area,
Jammu and Kashmir Governor dissolved the Assembly hours after the Peoples
Democratic Party staked claim saying it had the support of the National
Conference and Congress, the BJP, in series of tweets, called the alliance a
coming together of “terror-friendly parties”.
party, a partner of PDP until a few months ago, supported the Governor’s
decision and tweeted, “J&K needs a firm administration to deal with
terrorism and not a combination of terror-friendly parties.” In another tweet
it asked if “keeping the security scenario of J&K in mind, can it afford
horse-trading and instability?” Further, in one more tweet it commented, that
“the best option in such a scenario is to go in for a fresh election at the
earliest. This Assembly cannot produce a stable government.”
Jammu, the BJP unit saw Pakistan’s hand behind the Opposition’s moves to have
an alliance. Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta
said: “It had been on Pakistan’s instructions that the PDP and National
Conference earlier decided to boycott the local body elections…now, they are
making efforts to forge an alliance for government formation not on their own,
but again on directions of Pakistan.’’
BJP leader, who was also accompanied by BJP state vice president Yudvir Sethi
and general secretary Narinder Singh, claimed that some of these people, being
backed by Pakistan, recently had meetings in Dubai and London.
that people in Jammu and Ladakh will oppose these parties as 90 per cent of
their support base is only in Kashmir, Gupta said that this move will prove to
be “the last nail in their coffin.” Gupta said these parties, rattled by the
BJP’s gains in the recent urban local body elections, were coming together to
quell an ongoing rebellion in their ranks and to counter their dwindling mass
attack: Youth held, CM says Pakistan bid to disturb peace
in Punjab arrested a 26-year-old on Wednesday and searched for a registered
medical practitioner for allegedly carrying out a grenade attack on a Nirankari
congregation last Sunday that left three persons dead and over 20 injured at
Raja Sansi in Amritsar.
the arrest of Bikramjit Singh alias Bikram who hails from Dhariwal, Chief
Minister Amarinder Singh told reporters that the terror attack was carried out in
active collaboration with the Pakistani establishment and the ISI with a motive
to disturb the peace in Punjab.
said Bikram is an operative of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) and carried
out the attack for money. Bikram’s associate Avtar Singh Khalsa (32), from Chak
Mishri Khan village in Ajnala, is on the run.
to the Chief Minister, Bikram used his motorcycle in the attack with Avtar
riding pillion. It was Avtar who lobbed the grenade, Singh said. “It is just a
matter of time that we catch him.”
said Bikram told his interrogators that the grenade was provided by one Happy
in Pakistan. “Happy is suspected to be the Pak-based KLF chief Harmeet Singh
Happy alias PhD, also the mastermind behind the targeted killings of RSS, Shiv
Sena members, a pastor in Ludhiana and Dera Sacha Sauda workers Jalandhar in
out any communal angle to the attack, Singh said it is “purely a terror attack,
with people chosen as soft targets. In this case, women, children and those who
had come to be a part of the congregation were chosen as soft targets. A
disturbed border is Pakistan’s internal security.”
said preliminary investigations and examination of CCTV footage led to the
arrest of Bikram who identified his accomplice as Avtar Singh Khalsa.
a statement later, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora said Bikram was riding a TVS
motorcycle at the time of his arrest. Bikram’s black Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle,
which he used in the attack, had also been recovered.
Chief Minister showed reporters a photograph of a tree from where Bikram and
Avtar had retrieved the hand grenade, buried in a pit. He said attempts by the
Pakistan establishment and ISI to forge linkages between Punjab and Kashmir
terror groups is a matter of concern for Punjab. He said the state police is
working with central agencies to check the spread of such forces.
Chak Mishri Khan, over 20 km from the Nirankari Bhawan, is the home of Avtar
where he runs a clinic and is known as Dr Avtar. His house was deserted
ambush Afghan military convoy, 4 dead
Afghanistan: Afghan officials say a Taliban assault on a military convoy in
southwestern Badghis province left four Afghan soldiers dead.
Nasir Nazari, a member of the Badghis provincial council, says the ambush by
the Taliban insurgents on the convoy traveling early on Thursday through the
provincial capital of Qalay-e-Now, also wounded seven soldiers.
Afghan special forces called in a NATO airstrike during an operation late on
Wednesday against Taliban fighters in eastern Logar province.
council chief Mohammad Nasir Ghyrat says 10 died in that airstrike but that it
isn’t immediately how many civilians were among the dead.
Logar governor’s spokesman Khalid Safai says an investigation was underway.
did not immediately comment on the strike.
resurgent Taliban stage near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, leaving many
Taliban not serious about peace, says government chief
The Taliban in Afghanistan have not yet shown any sign they are serious about
ending their 17-year insurgency despite US efforts to push a fresh peace
process, the country’s de facto prime minister said.
Abdullah, who serves as “chief executive” of the unity government in Kabul, struck
a far more skeptical tone about the prospects of a deal than his political
rival, President Ashraf Ghani, and his Western counterparts.
said earlier this month it was “not a question of if, but when” an agreement
would be reached with the Taliban, while the US envoy to the country even
raised the possibility of a breakthrough before presidential elections in
there are renewed efforts in terms of the international community and
especially the US,” Abdullah said during a wide-ranging interview in Paris that
also covered his own political ambitions.
are not judging it too prematurely, but I would say that our experience as of
now has been that they (the Taliban) have not shown any intention to get
seriously engaged in the peace negotiations,” he added.
comment on Wednesday came after the latest atrocity targeting civilians in
Kabul when a bomber killed 55 people at a banquet hall at a ceremony to mark
the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.
a political veteran of the fight against Soviet forces in the 1980s and Taliban
rule in the 90s, called it “beyond comprehension.”
Afghan security forces are also suffering an unprecedented level of casualties
across the country where the Taliban and the Daesh group are stepping up
to Kabul on Thursday after a three-day trip to France, Abdullah said he
expected to be briefed fully about the latest round of talks between US envoy
Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban, which are believed to have taken place in Qatar
the outcome, he argued that Afghanistan should hold its presidential election
as scheduled next April despite a recent upsurge in violence and suggestions
from some that it should be delayed.
idea is to stick to the timing, make it work, because it’s part of the system
and legitimacy of the system depends on the elections,” he said. “At the same
time, continue the efforts on peace with full vigor.”
downplayed any suggestion of a pre-election breakthrough with the Taliban.
will be very surprising if that happens, but should it happen ... that would be
welcomed by the people of Afghanistan,” he added.
has kept up suspense about his own political ambitions after twice running for
president in 2009 and 2014 in campaigns that ended bitterly amid accusations of
being beaten in 2014 by Ghani, Abdullah agreed to become prime minister of the
unity government in a US-brokered deal — but the rivalry between the two men
will actively be involved one way or another, but I have not made that final
decision,” Abdullah said when asked if he would run in 2019.
ahead to next April’s vote, Abdullah was candid about the lack of progress made
in correcting the weaknesses in Afghanistan’s fraud-plagued electoral system.
said he was “disappointed” by parliamentary elections in October, which were
marred by a shambolic rollout of new biometric polling technology and missing
or incomplete voter lists.
expectations for the parliamentary elections and the conduct of them was much
higher, and the people’s expectations were much higher,” he said.
were thousands of complaints lodged against the Independent Electoral
Commission, although four million voters did defy the security worries to turn
out and cast a ballot.
unity government had pledged to tackle problems that have repeatedly undermined
faith in Afghan elections since the US-led invasion in 2001 overthrew the
Taliban government in Kabul.
Abdullah suggested that these efforts, like in other areas, have been hit by
the fractious nature of decision-making in the multi-party government.
was the commitment of the unity government in 2014... that we will start
implementing reforms. We started very late. Why did we do that?” he asked.
defeats in 2009 and then again in 2014 — when he won the first round but
slumped to a surprise defeat in the second — led to political crises which
threatened to unravel the country’s fragile political system.
observers fear another tainted poll?
High Court has ruled that two jailed Reuters reporters can appeal their
convictions on charges of violating the country's law that prohibits the
gathering of secret documents to help an enemy, defense lawyers said.
appeal cited evidence police framed the journalists and a lack of proof of a
advisor of the Norway-based Asian Human Rights Commission, U Min Lwin Oo, said
in an interview with VOA Burmese the journalists will attend another hearing at
which the judge will likely acquit them or reduce their sentences, which would
probably trigger another appeal.
attorney L. Khun Ring Pan said, "We hope that the high court will finally
provide justice for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and declare them innocent."
reporters were found guilty in September in a landmark case that has raised
questions about Myanmar's progress towards democracy and sparked complaints
from human rights proponents.
journalists were covering the massacre of 10 Muslim Rohingya men and boys by
security forces and local Buddhists in the western Rakhine state when they were
arrested in December.
massacre was part of the wider broader crackdown that began in August 2017, an
operation that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring
to Protect Journalists Director Steve Butler told VOA Burmese, "We are
pleased that the case is moving forward", but noted it is still "very
difficult to report from Myanmar."
government of Pakistan has condemned the deadly attack on religious scholars in
Kabul that left scores of people dead or wounded.
strongly condemns the terrorist attack on a wedding hall in Kabul that has
killed more than 40 people celebrating the birth anniversary of the Holy
Prophet peace be upon him,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan said in
statement further added “Perpetrators are condemnable for this heinous attack
by all religious and human standards. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and
fully stand with and share the grief of the people of Afghanistan at this sad
moment,” the statement said.
to the security and public health officials, more than 50 people have died and
at least 83 others have sustained injuries in the attack.
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said the recent bombing in Kabul has been carried out
by the circles which for the first time conducted suicide attack and explosion
his speech during a visit to Emergency Hospital in Kabul late on Wednesday
evening, President Ghani said such a ruthless and cowardly attack has never
been carried out in the history of Afghanistan to target the religious
scholars, Milad Nabi, and holy Quran, emphasizing that the enemies have
violated all moral and religious boundaries by attacking the political and
traditional setup and national identity of the country, vowing that the attack
would not remain unanswered.
towards the involved circles in the attack, President Ghani said the attack in
Kabul was carried out by those who for the first time conducted suicide attack
Ghani further added that the Taliban cannot free themselves from the burden of
responsibilities by condemning the attack only but should practically work for
peace to end the killing of humans, Afghans, and Muslims.
Bazar, Bangladesh. Bangladesh's plans to tackle the Rohingya refugee crisis are
set to be stalled until the new year with repatriation and relocation programs
only likely be revisited after year-end general elections, a top Bangladeshi
official said on Sunday.
Kalam, Bangladesh's refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told Reuters
"a new course of action" needed to be adopted on repatriation that
took into account refugees' key demands. He later clarified these were his own
personal views and not those of the government.
than 720,000 Rohingya fled a sweeping army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state
in 2017, according to UN agencies. The crackdown was launched in response to
insurgent Rohingya attacks on security forces.
refugees say soldiers and Buddhist civilians killed families, burned many
villages and carried out gang rapes. UN-mandated investigators have accused
Myanmar's army of "genocidal intent" and ethnic cleansing. Myanmar
has denied almost all the accusations, saying its forces engaged in a
counter-insurgency operation against "terrorists."
late October, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin to repatriate hundreds of
thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled, but the plan has been opposed
by the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the UN refugee agency and aid
groups, who fear for the safety of Rohingya in Myanmar.
repatriation of the first batch of 2,200 refugees was to begin officially on
Nov. 15, but it stalled amid protests at the refugee camps. None of those on
the list agreed to return if their demands for justice, citizenship and the
ability to go back to their original villages and lands were not met.
don't think anyone's agreeing to go back without these," said Kalam, who
last week called on the international community to pressure Myanmar to accept
certain "logical and acceptable" demands in order for any
repatriation to take place.
does not consider the Rohingya a native ethnic group and calls them
"Bengalis," suggesting they belong in Bangladesh. It has agreed to
take the Rohingya back and said they would need to accept the National
Verification Card, which it says would allow Rohingya to apply for citizenship.
The Rohingya reject the card, saying it brands them foreigners.
said he believed Myanmar needed to propose a "clearer path" to
citizenship for the Rohingya if any returns were to take place, adding he would
raise the matter at the next bilateral meeting on repatriation, likely to take
place next month.
government spokesman Zaw Htay was not reachable on Sunday for comment.
Bangladesh now set to go to the polls on Dec. 30, any decision either to
repatriate people, or relocate refugees from the crowded camps to Bangladesh's
Bhasan Char island will not proceed until 2019, Kalam said, adding later a
final decision had not been taken and it would be the government's call.
are coming up now, so the government will only finalize a future course of
action after the elections," said Kalam.
has vowed not to force anyone to return and has asked the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure those shortlisted to return really want to go
UNHCR spokesman said it was not clear when repatriations could begin. "At
this moment it's unclear, perhaps we can get clarity in the next few
Rohingya refugee leaders in Bangladesh said they were relieved Bangladesh had
not forced refugees to return and called for the repatriation plan to be
said construction work on alternative housing on Bhasan Char was "nearly
complete." He said he was hopeful some refugees would agree to move, given
the island's "livelihood opportunities" such as fishing and farming.
Aid agencies express caution as the island is prone to flooding.
to propose int’l convention on religious defamation
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government is intending to propose
an international convention on defamation of religions to protect the
sentiments of 1.25 billion Muslims across the world.
the opening session of a two-day conference titled ‘Finality of the Prophethood
and Responsibilities of Muslims in the light of teachings of the Holy Prophet
(Peace Be Upon Him)’ at the Convention Centre on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran
Khan said that the government would set up a ‘special chair’ at the country’s
three universities under High Education Commission (HEC) to study the life of
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). “There is a need to study how the State of Madina
converted into a super power in 11 years,” he said. He added that Ahmer Bilal
Sufi, an expert on international law, would be made PM’s special envoy to visit
various countries and seek their support for the proposed convention, adding
that Pakistan would spearhead this convention so that there was an
international law to deal with the sensitive issue.
prime minister spoke at length about the way of life and strong character of
Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said Almighty Allah, Who is ‘Rabbul Alamin’,
Himself described Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as Rehmatul-lil-Alamin (PBUH). He
said there was a need to study the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as to
how he made the poor Arabs to rule world and reach India and Central Asia from
Morocco in just 30 years.
has no example of a person except Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who created a state
which lasted for 700 years,” he maintained. He regretted that after every few
years there was a condemnable trend of blasphemous acts in the West under the
garb of freedom of expression, which causes strong protests in the Muslim
world, including Pakistan.
prime minister recalled that after such an incident in Holland, his government
took up the issue with the Holland authorities and succeeded in the
cancellation of a blasphemous cartoon competition. Later, Pakistan also raised
this issue at the OIC and the UN levels, which led to a declaration by the EU
Court of Human Rights forbidding religious defamation under the guise of
expression of freedom, he added.
first lady asks PM Imran if she could hold his hand
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Malaysia came to an end late Wednesday
night, the premier found his newest fan in the Malaysian first lady.
had unveiled his government’s four-pronged strategy to pull the country out of
its “quagmire of loans” in Malaysia but with all the talks regarding the
country’s failing economy, a lighter moment emerged when Malaysian first lady
Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali asked Khan during a photo op: “Prime minister, can I
hold your hand?”
Khan amusingly replied: “Sure!”, which drew laughter from the audience and a
hearty chuckle from his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad.
A powerful blast at a mosque in Pakistan's troubled Balochistan province's
Chaman area on Wednesday injured at least seven people, including the prayer
leader, according to police.
blast occurred at the time of evening prayers in the mosque, which is located
on Taj Road in Chaman, bordering Afghanistan.
least seven people, including the mosque's prayer leader, have been injured as
a result of the blast, which rocked the entire neighbourhood, Dawn reported.
injured were rushed to a nearby hospital where a state of emergency has been
video shared on Twitter appears to show the damage caused by the explosion in
have cordoned off the site of the explosion.
group has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.
is considered a sensitive town in Balochistan as it shares a border with Afghanistan's
volatile Kandahar province.
was tightened on Wednesday across the country to avert any tragedy on the
occasion of the Eid Milad-un Nabi, marking the birth anniversary of the
Over 3,000 Sikh pilgrims from India arrived in this Pakistani city on Wednesday
to take part in festivities ahead of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
their arrival in Lahore, the Sikh pilgrims left for Gurudwara Janamesthan in
Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, where the main function will be
held on Friday on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti.
Senator Anwar Lal, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) chairman Tahir Ehsan and
secretary Tariq Wazir, and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee
president Tara Singh were among the Pakistani officials who greeted the Sikh
'yatris' at the Wagah Railway station.
many as 3,080 Sikh pilgrims arrived here today on two special trains. The third
train is expected to arrive here to bring another 700 or so yatris," ETPB
spokesman Amir Hashmi told PTI. He said the Pakistan government had issued
3,800 visas to Indian Sikhs.
group leader Amerjeet Singh congratulated Pakistanis on the birth anniversary
of Prophet Muhammad on Eid Milad-un Nabi.
said Sikh pilgrims get love from Pakistanis and urged the Pakistan government
to issue at least 10,000 visas for Sikhs for next year's 550th birth
anniversary of Guru Nanak.
thanked the Pakistan government for the proposed opening of the Gurudwara
Kartarpur in Narowal for pilgrims. He hoped there would be no hurdles in its
opening for Indian Sikhs.
chairman Ehsan said the Pakistan government has made foolproof security
arrangements for the pilgrims.
and elite force personnel have been deployed along with police for the security
of the visiting pilgrims.
said the board has better boarding arrangements at the gurudwaras where the
pilgrims would stay during their visit.
Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday unveiled his government's four-pronged
strategy to pull Pakistan out of its "quagmire of loans".
prime minister, while addressing the Pakistani community in Malaysia where he
is currently on a two-day official visit, said that the government was
committed to uplift the living standard of poor and downtrodden segments of
society by improving governance and ending corruption.
premier said that the PTI-government was working on four areas on priority
first step towards ridding the country of its chronic loan cycle is to increase
exports, said Khan.
Malaysia, with a population of 30 million people, has exports worth $220
billion, and we, with a population of 201 million people have exports worth
$24bn, then clearly we are doing something wrong," Prime Minister Khan
said, adding that his team was working on a "programme to increase
remittances through legal channels
second step, the premier said, was to create legal channels for overseas
Pakistanis to send their remittances through. He said that the finance minister
was working on an incentive programme to make routing of remittances easier.
a look: PM Khan approves incentives to facilitate remittances from overseas
we receive $20bn in remittances," the premier said. "We (the
government) think that if all the money sent in remittances [is sent via legal
channels], then we will receive at least $10-12bn in addition.
now, we are facing a shortfall of $12bn. If we start receiving all our
remittances [through legal channels] then this problem will be solved."
prime minister also emphasised the importance of attracting investments,
particularly from foreign businesses. "We will continue to face a
shortfall of dollars if we do not attract foreign investments," he warned.
however, lauded "the overseas Pakistanis' craze" to invest in the
country and vowed to facilitate them by fixing the governance system in
Pakistan. He also promised to create an "ease of doing business" for
investors — both foreign and domestic.
will be a designated office within the PM Office and its sole purpose will be
to solve any problems being faced by investors," he said.
claimed that past authorities had impeded investors by stopping them from
earning profits. "Why would anyone invest in [the country] if they don't
earn profit?" he asked.
should help them (investors) to make money," the premier said, reminding
that wealth creation helps a country grow. "Mahathir Mohammad (Malaysian
prime minister) told me this 20 years ago, when I met him soon after entering
an end to money laundering
last of his quartet of measures to drag the country out of the economic mess
was ending the practice of money laundering. He said that Rs10bn was sent
abroad through money laundering every year but assured that every agency in
Pakistan is now working diligently to make it hard for people to move funds
have signed MoUs (Memorandums of Understanding) with different countries,"
he said. "And gradually, we are also getting details of the money that has
been sent abroad illegally."
Khan said that the recent aid packages acquired by his administration through
"friendly countries" was just a temporary solution to Pakistan's
have acquired loans from friendly countries in order to repay instalments of
loans that were borrowed earlier," he said. "Even now we are trying
that we have to borrow the least amount of money possible from the IMF
(International Monetary Fund), with whom we are in negotiations right now. But
this is temporary. This is like treating cancer with Disprin."
promises wide-ranging reforms: 'All policies for the people'
prime minister also took a jibe at opposition parties, claiming that they were
waiting to see the new government fail from the first day.
is what they are hoping for," he said. "They are scared because they
know that as long as I am in power, they will be in danger. They know that they
will have to go to jail in a few days.
is why everyone is coming together to save democracy. It is not democracy that
they are trying to save. They are uniting to save their thievery.
you will see, for the first time [in Pakistan history], the government will not
give anyone an NRO or make a deal in the name of Charter of Democracy. We will
throw each one of them in jail."
least two people were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle in
Bajaur tribal district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday evening, a district
improvised explosive device (IED) planted along the road by unidentified
miscreants went off as the vehicle passed through the Charmang area of Bajaur's
Nawagai tehsil, an official in the district's political administration told
people riding the vehicle, identified as Amanullah and Gul Badin, died as a
result of the explosion. Their vehicle was also totalled by the impact.
forces sealed the area — which lies close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border —
after the blast and started a search operation.
is the second reported incident of violence today, when Eid Miladun Nabi is
being celebrated across the country. An IED explosion at a mosque in
Balochistan's Chaman area left nine people injured, also in the evening.
blast in Bajaur comes days after a tribal elder was seriously wounded in a
roadside bomb blast in Nawagai tehsil.
of hundreds of kilometres of border areas along with Afghanistan’s Kunar
province has been underway in Bajaur to secure Pakistan from cross-border
least nine people were injured in an explosion inside a mosque in Balochistan's
Chaman area on Wednesday evening, DawnNewsTV reported.
prayer leader (khateeb) of the mosque was among those injured in the blast that
took place during maghrib prayers, police sources said. The mosque is located
on Taj Road in Chaman, which lies near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) hidden inside the
mosque, police sources told DawnNewsTV. The blast was so powerful that it was
heard far and wide.
injured were rushed to Civil Hospital Chaman for medical treatment where a
state of emergency was imposed to treat the injured.
footage following the blast showed smoke inside the mosque and shattered glass
lying on carpets.
Levies and Frontier Corps officials cordoned off the site of the explosion. No
group has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.
incident comes on a day when Eid Miladun Nabi is being celebrated across the
country. Strict security measures have been taken in connection with the
processions being carried out today.
is considered a sensitive town in Balochistan as it shares a border with
Afghanistan's volatile Kandahar province.
— The high demand for Islamic cultural centers in the conservative northern
Sinai Peninsula prompted the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf)
to open more centers to teach moderate Islam in this volatile governorate, a
high-level ministry official told Al-Monitor.
Taye, head of the religion sector in the Ministry of Religious Endowments, told
Al-Monitor that the opening of three Islamic cultural centers at the beginning
of the school year was “an unprecedented step in North Sinai,” a governorate
where the Egyptian army and security forces struggle to purge the area of the
Islamic State and its affiliates.
is also the first time that three Islamic cultural centers open in a single governorate.
The centers are located in the cities of el-Arish, Bir al-Abed and Hasna,” Taye
said, adding that the ministry had planned for 30 students for each center.
“But we have had [a total of ] 300 requests for enrollment in the governorate,”
Sinai is seen as a hub of violent religious extremist groups, which prompted
the Ministry of Religious Endowments to open the Islamic cultural centers —
also known as Awqaf centers — to offer a curriculum based on moderate Islamic
teachings. The centers opened on Sept. 22, at the beginning of the school year.
The opening of the three cultural centers — and promise of new ones — when
there is only one center in each governorate shows the government’s intensified
efforts to counter radicalism in northern Sinai. Classes at the centers are
free of charge and admission is easier compared to the cultural centers in
other governorates. The move comes at the same time as major development
projects in the region and an intensified military operation.against terrorism.
of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa confirmed that the centers for
Islamic culture in northern Sinai are in demand, underlining that this
demonstrates the locals' rejection of religious extremism. In an Oct. 23 press
statement, Gomaa said, “There has been a high turnout of people for the
cultural centers since day one, which is further proof that life is returning
back to normal in Sinai and that the residents renounce extremism, violence and
terrorism. Scholars and imams from the ministry will instruct the students on
the teachings of Islam.”
noted, “Admission to the centers usually requires high academic credentials but
we make an exception in northern Sinai where applicants with average grades are
admitted. The students’ attendance of classes should not be less than 60%.
Unlike centers in other governorates, people in northern Sinai are exempted
from tuition fees.”
said that the teachers are graduates from Al-Azhar University, the renowned
seat of Islamic education. “They were selected among many applicants after
taking different tests,” he noted.
added that the centers are local alternatives to Al-Azhar University, since
there are no branches of the university in northern Sinai. “It is a great
opportunity for citizens to learn the basics of Sharia, Islamic jurisprudence
and study the Al-Azhar curricula,” he said.
two years of study, the center’s students — both male and female — will obtain
a certificate, which would allow them to work as a religious leader in a
mosque. Alternatively, according to Taye, they could use their acquired
knowledge to educate family, friends and the younger generation.
also stressed the role of the cultural centers in combating extremism, creating
an open dialogue between students and teachers on Islam and reject
radicalization of Islamic principles. He noted, “This [teaching of moderate
Islam] is done through the curricula and direct contact with moderate Al-Azhar
scholars, as well as through intellectual discussions that help refute
terrorists’ ideas [that make use of Islam for their own means] and extremist
rhetoric that does not accept pluralism.”
idea of opening Islamic cultural centers was first introduced in 1989, with a
large cultural center in Cairo and affiliated centers all over Egypt. The goal
was to raise a new generation of imams and religious leaders who would address
the public on the principles of Islam and provide guidance on daily issues.
are presently 28 Islamic cultural centers in Egypt. The latest one opened Nov.
8 in Hurghada in the Red Sea governorate. Unlike the others, the center in
Hurghada also admits foreigners who would like to learn the Islamic teachings,
with courses taught in English, French and German.
Mohammed, a second-year student at the Islamic cultural center in Giza
governorate, told Al-Monitor that she is satisfied with the education and that
the teachers are “excellent.” She said, “It is the first time I study Islamic
studies.” Mohammed wants to work as a religious leader in the center, which has
a section for female preachers.
al-Zahraa, who graduated from the center in Cairo, told Al-Monitor that she
enrolled in classes because of her passion for the fundamentals of religion.
However, she believes that two years is not enough for her to become a good
preacher. She said that she does not want to preach, but instead would try to
educate and influence her family and friends.
Ministry of Religious Endowments has recently launched several other
initiatives to combat radicalism. On Nov. 9, “Messenger of Humanity” was
launched with the aim to spread the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad through
sermons and lessons via satellite TV channels, public forums, workshops and
book clubs. The project also aims to establish an international academy for
training imams and preachers from different countries.
initiative, launched Oct 28, aims to create working groups with adherents and
representatives of different religions in Egypt, who would discuss ways to
combat prejudices and teach tolerance in their respective communities.
ministry's "Homeland Without Addiction” campaign launched Oct. 6, which,
according to Gomaa, aims to fight drug addiction and shed light on the link
between the agriculture of substances used for drugs, terrorism and the
recruitment of the youth.
Fahmi, an Egyptian researcher at the European University Institute in Italy,
praised the Ministry of Endowment’s efforts in combating extremism. But,
speaking to Al-Monitor, he also underlined that the best way is not to wait for
citizens to join such centers. Direct communication with the people must be
ongoing, he said, stressing the need to use “local networks, in cooperation
with imams, preachers, educational institutions and tribal leaders.”
added, “This is why it is very important to train scholars and preachers in
every area in the country, given the mindset and tribal composition in the
so-called US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist
group has used white phosphorus bombs in a bombing raid against an area in Syria’s
eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.
sources, requesting not to be named, told Syria’s official news agency SANA
that US-led military aircraft carried out a bombing attack on the town of
Hajin, located some 110 kilometers east of the provincial capital city of Dayr
al-Zawr, on Wednesday afternoon, using the internationally-banned munitions.
last month, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja'afari
confirmed at a UN Security Council meeting that the US-led alliance had used
white phosphorus bombs against the same Syrian town.
October 13, SANA also reported that the US-led coalition had dropped
internationally-banned white phosphorus bombs on Hajin.
September 8, two F-15 warplanes of the US Air Force targeted the same Syrian town
with white phosphorous bombs.
June last year, Human Rights Watch warned that the US-led coalition was
deploying white phosphorous bombs in both Iraq and Syria.
US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be
Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from
the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing
civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of
November 13, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned a
recent airstrike by the US-led coalition against the eastern town of
al-Shaafah, which left more than 60 people dead and injured, arguing that the
massacre clearly pointed to the fact that members of the military alliance had
no respect for moral values, international rules and regulations besides the
lives of innocent civilians.
ministry, in two separate letters, addressed to United Nations Secretary
General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the UN Security Council
Ma Zhaoxu, called on the Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities and
stop US-led aerial assaults.
also asked the world body to propose an international, independent and
impartial mechanism to investigate the crimes being perpetrated by the US-led
letters noted that the coalition was deliberately targeting Syria civilians and
making use of internationally banned weapons, including white phosphorus bombs,
United States on Tuesday put a confidant of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi, on its terror blacklist.
is down but not out,” Nathan Sales, the State Department’s point man on
counterterrorism, said in announcing that Haji Abdel Nasir had been named a
“Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”
ISIS continues to lose ground on the battlefield, we must starve it of the
resources it uses to commit terrorism around the world,” Sales said in a
State Department said the decision was made in conjunction with the UN Security
Council, which on Monday put Abdel Nasir on its own sanctions list.
twin listings mean that Abdel Nasir is subject to an international asset
freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. US citizens and entities are prohibited
from doing business with him.
“has held several leadership positions in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,”
including heading the group’s “Delegated Committee,” which reports to Baghdadi
and “exercises administrative control of the terrorist organisation’s affairs,”
the State Department said.
said the committee Abdel Nasir chaired was “responsible for planning and
issuing orders related to ISIS’s military operations, tax collections,
religious police, and commercial and security operations.”
state-owned al-Watan daily quoted militant-affiliated sources as disclosing
that the Turkish authorities, including army generals, held a meeting with
commanders of Ankara-backed National Liberation Front, Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at
(the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and other terrorist groups in
Northern Idlib near the border with Turkey.
daily went on to say that the Turkish authorities have stated in the meeting
that there could be no further delay in the establishment of the demilitarized
zone mentioned in the Sochi Agreement.
further said that the Turkish authorities have demanded the terrorist groups to
halt attacking the army positons, especially from inside the demilitarized
daily said that Ankara's new warning to the terrorists might be linked to a
visit to Russia's Sochi by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Head of the
country's Intelligence Hakan Vidan and their meeting with the Russian Defense
Minister Sergei Shoigu.
said that the meeting was demanded by Russia to object at the Turkish side's
lack of pressure on Ankara-backed terrorists to implement the Sochi
terrorists' refusal to implement the Sochi Agreement is pushing the army to
initiate its long-waited assault on militants in Idlib that had been put on
hold due to the Sochi Agreement.
Mar'ei Hamdan, a Syrian military expert, was quoted by the Arabic-language
website of Sputnik news agency as saying earlier this month that Tahrir al-Sham
is in control of nearly 70% of towns and villages in Idlib province and makes
provocative moves against the Syrian army, adding that the army's commitment to
decrease tensions is not lasting forever.
added that the Syrian army has so far repelled all attacks by terrorists
against its positions and inflicted heavy damages on them, noting that the army
is now necessitated to come out of the defensive mood to retake control of
said that Tahrir al-Sham will resort to a full-scale military operation against
the Syrian and Russian armies soon, after rejecting the Sochi agreement last October,
which leaves no room for ceasefire or disarmament anymore, and underlined that
the Syrian army's battle against Tahrir al-Sham is inevitable.
the Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sham and National Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist
groups has also dismissed the Russian-Turkish Sochi agreement and is preparing
for military operations against the army in Northern Syria, calling for a
coalition with Tahrir al-Sham.
al-Sham and other allied terrorist groups have not left the demilitarized zone
two months after the Sochi agreement and have instead reinvigorated their
strongholds and targeted the army positions every day.
reports said last week that the Turkey-backed NLF had put its gunmen on alert
to launch a heavy offensive against the Syrian army in the demilitarized zone
in Idlib province.
sources said that one of the bases of the Turkey-backed Military Police in
Central Afrin came under attack by the Kurdish militias on Tuesday, adding that
3 members of the Police were killed and 6 more were wounded severely in the
Monday, an Ankara-backed militant group known as the National Army looted
civilians' assets in residential areas and trade centers in the occupied town
of Afrin as Turkish army troops and some of their allied militants exchanged
fire with Tajamo'a al-Sharqiyah, another Ankara-backed militant group that
recently was defying orders issued by the Turkish army.
local source said that people's assets were looted in al-Vilat and
al-Mahmoudiyah neighborhoods, where infighting is underway.
source further said that a number of people, including civilians, were killed
and injured in blasts and heavy exchange of fire between the two sides,
including a bomb-laden motorcycle explosion in Afrin.
number of young men from al-Jobour tribe, in a move to show their support for
uprising against the SDF in the town of al-Shadadi in Southern Hasaka, attacked
a patrol of the Kurdish militia in al-Aziziyah neighborhood in Hasaka city and
arrested 6 gunmen and their commander.
remaining pockets of the patrolling group of SDF escaped from the neighborhood.
the meantime, a field source reported that a number of people in al-Shadadi
have been killed or injured in clashes with the Kurdish militia, adding that
the US forces have embarked on laying siege on the small town of al-Sowarah
militant-affiliated website said on Tuesday that clashes were reported in
Southern Hasaka after protesters from various Arab tribes took to the streets
and called for the expulsion of the US army men and the SDF from Northeastern
news website reported that protesters, mainly from the Arab al-Mahasen tribe,
clashed with the US soldiers in al-Aam street in the town of al-Shadadi in
Southern Hasaka after the US artillery attack killed the entire members of a
family from the same tribe.
further said that a large number of civilians in al-Shadadi and in the villages
of al-Hana Sharqi, al-Sarab and Saleh al-Leil in Southern Hasaka took to the
streets, protesting against the US-backed SDF and SDF-affiliated security
forces of Asayesh.
the meantime, field sources reported that the protestors attacked 2 bases of Asayesh
and set fire at their flags and their leaders' photos, calling for their
expulsion from their region.
Congress urged to probe Trump, Kushner ties to Saudi after Khashoggi’s death
United States Congress has been urged to investigate President Donald Trump and
his son-in-law Jared Kushner for ties to Saudi Arabia in the wake of Jamal
Attiah, the editor for slain journalist, called on US lawmakers Wednesday to
take action over the president’s siding with the monarchy.
easy to get lost in the grief and outrage over Trump siding [with] Saudi regime
that thinks nothing of butchering peaceful journalists in consulates,"
Attiah wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "But hope is not all lost. Congress
must act, and the American people can still help."
threw his support behind the monarchy and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, who reportedly ordered the assassination of the former Washington Post
columnist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.
statement came despite the CIA’s reported conclusion that the prince ordered
called Trump's statement "full of lies and a blatant disregard for his own
intelligence agencies," adding that “It also shows an unforgivable
disregard for the lives of Saudis who dare criticize the regime. This is a new
president, who is in a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom, has been under
pressure from US lawmakers for his support for MbS.
lawmakers and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan maintain that the crown
prince and other top Saudi leaders should be held accountable for Khashoggi's
Arabia has acknowledged the murder, yet left many questions unanswered.
intelligence intercepts reportedly show that Khashoggi, who was last seen
entering the Saudi mission in Istanbul on October 2, was murdered on a direct
order from the Saudi de facto ruler.
had been there to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife.
prominent Senators are demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump specifically
determine whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for
the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
a letter Tuesday addressed to Trump, Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democratic
Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, respectively, asked for an investigation under the Global
Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
act requires the president to determine whether a foreign person is responsible
for an extrajudicial killing, torture or other gross violation of
internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising
freedom of expression.
also requires the president to report to the Committee within 120 days with a
determination and a decision on the imposition of sanctions on that foreign
person or persons.
a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after
entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
initially saying he left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration admitted
weeks later that he was killed there.
letter came after Trump's remarks that defended relations with Saudi Arabia
despite the killing of the journalist amid reports that the CIA concluded with
high confidence that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's murder.
the president said the U.S. may "never know all of the facts" and the
country will continue its relations with Saudi Arabia in order to pursue
intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very
well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did
and maybe he didn’t!" Trump said in the statement, which was released by
the White House.
senators lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday for his statement
on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying they disagree with the
decision not to punish Saudi Arabia.
statement came after the CIA released a report in which it concluded with high
confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's
the president said the U.S. may "never know all of the facts" and the
country will maintain its relations with Saudi Arabia in order to pursue
intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very
well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did
and maybe he didn’t!" Trump said in the statement, which was released by
the White House.
can’t just throw in some exclamations (!!!!), yell that the world is dangerous,
and call it a press release,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on
Twitter. “That's not how a U.S. President responds to the murder of a
journalist and American resident.”
Dianne Feinstein also voiced opposition to Trump's statement, saying the U.S.
should be “standing up and condemning a brazen murder by a foreign
government" and that all individuals involved should be held accountable.
spoke to reporters in front of the White House later Tuesday and defended his
statement by saying "It's America first for me".
not going to destroy the world economy and I'm not going to destroy the economy
for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
his statement, Trump also called the Kingdom an ally against Iran, who the U.S.
calls a sponsor of terrorism.
Senator Rand Paul took to Twitter to voice his disagreement, saying Saudi
Arabia should be punished.
President indicates that Saudi Arabia is the lesser of two evils compared to
Iran and so the US won’t punish Saudi Arabia for the brutal killing and
dismemberment of a dissident journalist in their consulate. I disagree.”
Mark Warner noted that Trump's failure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable shows
his retreat from leadership.
hard to imagine that the Saudis would have taken this action under a Reagan,
Bush, Clinton or Obama Administration without facing serious repercussions,” he
said in a statement.
again, our President proves that you can’t buy a moral compass,” Ilhan Omar,
one of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, said on Twitter.
Saudi Arabia proves that you can, on the other hand, buy a President," she
President Donald Trump on Wednesday ignored criticism that he gave Saudi Arabia
a free pass on the murder of a dissident journalist, instead praising the
Islamic kingdom for keeping oil prices low.
on holiday at his Florida Mar-a-Lago Club, doubled down on an unusually worded
statement from Tuesday that he was essentially ignoring the killing of Jamal
Khashoggi because of what he said were more important US strategic and
commercial interests. “Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for
America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82,” he tweeted. “Thank you to
Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”
fulsome praise for Saudi Arabia’s help in maintaining cheap oil built on
comments he made Tuesday at the White House, saying that “if we broke with
them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof.”
helped me keep them down,” he said.
focus on oil prices is one strand of Trump’s argument against punishing the US
ally for Khashoggi’s death, even though the CIA reportedly found strong
evidence that de facto Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was
a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been critical of Prince
Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, killed and
lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility and said 21 people
had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media
went further, reportedly pointing the finger at Prince Mohammed, who has
especially close contacts with the Trump White House.
a formal statement Tuesday — released just after nearly the entire White House
press corps had left to cover the lighthearted annual ritual of the president
sparing a turkey from the Thanksgiving table — Trump said the prince “could
very well be” in on the crime.
he then went on to flatly reject any suggestion of punishing the Saudi leader,
saying Washington “intends to remain a steadfast partner.”
reasoning was that Saudi Arabia and the United States are partners in opposing
Iran and the Saudis have committed to $450 billion in weapons contracts and
other investments, as well as being a major oil producer.
simply it is called America first!” Trump concluded.
was in contrast to previously stated positions where Trump promised a tough
response, warning in an October interview with The Wall Street Journal, for
example, that the US-Saudi relationship “would take a while to rebuild.”
posture has provoked rare dissension among the ranks of senior Republicans.
Lindsey Graham said on Fox News that Prince Mohammed is “crazy.”
not too much to ask an ally not to butcher a guy in a consulate,” he said.
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican leader of the foreign relations committee,
tweeted scathingly: “I never thought I’d see the day a White House would
moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
and the senior Democrat on the committee, Bob Menendez, demanded that the Trump
administration issue a clear statement on whether Prince Mohammed was involved.
prominent Republican, Senator Rand Paul, added “Let’s put America first, not
Saudi Arabia,” while Khashoggi’s old employer the Post said in an editorial
that Trump’s position meant “a world where dictators know they can murder their
critics and suffer no consequences.”
of State Mike Pompeo pushed back in a radio interview Wednesday, saying: “We
are going to make sure that America always stands for human rights. We’ve
watched the Saudis actually move in that direction during our time in office as
States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to twitter to directly challenge
Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei to spend on Iranian people, not terrorists.
should decide if spending the Iranian people’s money on the Iranian people is
more important than inventing schemes to fund Assad, Hezballah, Hamas, and
other terrorists,” Pompeo wrote.
response came after the US moved to disrupt an Iranian-Russian network that
sent millions of barrels of oil to Syria and hundreds of millions of dollars to
indirectly fund militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
US Treasury sends a clear message: There are grave consequences for anyone
shipping oil to Syria, or trying to evade US sanctions on the Islamic
Republic’s terrorist activities,” he added in another tweet.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said he does not think the CIA had identified
those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing and that his country looks
forward to turn this page.
to reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday, Mattis added, "I do not think they
have been fully identified either by the CIA or the Saudi government.”
Mattis says just as the U.S. should never apologize for “its support for human
rights, it should not have to apologize for working with Saudi Arabia for what
the good of innocent people.”
experts question anonymous sources, leaks in Khashoggi case
said that while believes the U.S. should hold accountable the individual Saudis
who were involved in killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he also thinks it
would be a mistake to cut ties with the Saudi government.
two primary thrust lines. One is accountability for anyone involved …on the
other hand, if we're going to stop a war in Yemen, we're going to have to deal
with Saudi Arabia. There's no way not to.”
expert: Leaks by Washington Post regarding Khashoggi case ‘not final say’
credited the Saudi government with making humanitarian gestures, including
allowing some wounded Houthi rebels to be moved to hospitals, and putting up
$500 million, along with the United Arab Emirates, to feed Yemeni’s starving
US has imposed new sanctions on Iranian and Russian companies for shipping oil
to Syria. Five individuals, including a Lebanese national, have also been
targeted with the new sanctions. Our correspondent Rana Aladdin reports from
President Donald Trump's recent comments and tweets against Pakistan have
renewed tensions between the two countries, analysts said.
bilateral relationship between U.S. and Pakistan is already a mess and what
Trump said didn't represent anything new, however his latest tirade will
further complicate efforts to restore much-needed trust in bilateral relations,"
Michael Kugelman, a Washington-based analysts and a senior program associate
for South Asia in The Wilson Centre, told Anadolu Agency in an email.
said the U.S. needs Pakistan all the more to pitch peace talks with the Afghan
process [peace talks with Taliban] can't succeed unless Pakistan is on
board," he added.
Monday, a war of words erupted between Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran
Khan on Twitter after the U.S. president’s recent statement saying Pakistan has
not done "a damn thing" for the U.S.
no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do
nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another.
They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without
giving anything in return. That's ENDING!" Trump tweeted.
to Trump, Khan said: "Trump's false assertions add insult to the injury
Pak has suffered in US WoT [War on Terror] in terms of lives lost &
destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt [about]
historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US's war. Now we will do
what is best for our people & our interests."
still wants to avoid complete breakdown'
Khan, an Islamabad-based analyst, said: "Exchange of these tweets show the
ties between Washington and Islamabad are worsening, however the statement
released by Pentagon a day after Trump's tweets calling Pakistan an ally means
U.S. still wants to avoid complete breakdown and wants Pakistan's cooperation
on Afghan issue."
new statement against Pakistan came a day after his top diplomat for
Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, reportedly met for the second
time during the last two months with Afghan Taliban leaders in Qatar.
defense analyst retired Brig. Said Nazeer said: “Trump's trying to pressurize
Pakistan to 'do more' but this policy could damage the cooperation between both
countries and Washington could lose existing Pakistani support.”
to Pakistani authorities, last month they released Mullah Baradar, a senior
Taliban leader along with two others on U.S. request.
Pakistan and U.S. relations have never remained exemplary.
after 9/11, Pakistan assumed an important position in Washington circles and
became the main ally in the U.S. war against terrorism in 2001.
to Pakistani authorities, the country suffered 75,000 casualties and over $123
billion in losses to their economy in the war against terror, but Washington
has never acknowledged their sacrifices.
racists beat up Italian barman because they thought he was Muslim
trio of drunken racists attacked an Italian barman and told him to "go
back to your own country" because they incorrectly assumed he was Muslim,
a court has heard.
"f***ing Muslim" and "Muslim go home" Joshua O'Leary, 23,
and Alfred Young, 19, set upon Dario Antonioni in the in Surrey Quays area of
east London on 10 June.
told Inner London crown court that he that he had a beard at the time.
to your prejudice and ignorance and because he had a small beard you all
thought he was a Muslim and shouted abuse at him,” Judge Benedict Kelleher said
as he sentenced the pair to community service and curfew instead of jail, the
Evening Standard reported. “He put up a spirited defence to your completely
unjustified attack late at night while under the influence of alcohol.”
added that a third man, who was not caught, appeared to be the leader in the
Antonioni said he started walking quickly to get away and began to run when a
bottle was thrown at him after he exited the Canada Water tube station.
said: “The three of them surrounded me. I fell to the ground and I was struck
everywhere by all three of them. I said: ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing
this?’ and I was speaking to them in Italian, but they increased the shouting.
They wanted to beat me up … All three of them hit me, kicks and punches, and
when I was on the floor there were more kicks and punches.”
escaped with bruises on his elbows and knees and grazes on his face.
denied taking part in the attack but was found guilty by a jury of religiously
aggravated assault. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 180 hours
of community services, 20 days rehabilitation and a night-time curfew for 12
admitted to the same charge and was handed a 12-month community order with 80
hours community service and a six-week night-time curfew.
were both ordered to pay compensation to the victim.
the Jewish-Muslim 'chicken soup challenge' cooked up by UK's Home Office?
Sunday, the East London Mosque hosted an event called "Chicken Soup
Challenge", in which members of Jewish and Muslim community groups came
together to cook chicken soup for the homeless.
and Muslims from youth groups, mosques and synagogues attempted to cook a
thousand portions of the traditional Jewish dish as part of a programme
organised by Mitzvah Day, a charity that promotes a day of social action led by
the Jewish community.
the Chicken Soup Challenge was also backed by the UK Home Office, through a
programme that provides funding and support for counter-extremism projects, a
detail that went unmentioned in reports produced by BBC News and The Guardian.
organisations supporting the event included Muslim Aid, one of the UK's best
known Islamic charities, and pro-Israel Jewish groups that organise and send
their members on controversial Birthright tours. These tours to Israel seek to
foster support for the state among young Jews in the diaspora, with critics
saying they legitimise Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.
Office support for Mitzvah Day is provided through "Building a Stronger
Britain Together", a counter-extremism programme that provides
"in-kind support and grant funding" to "civil society and
community organisations who work to create more resilient communities and stand
up to extremism in all its forms".
programme was set up as part of a counter-extremism strategy launched by the
Home Office in 2015 that aimed to counter "all forms of extremism, violent
and nonviolent, Islamist and the neo-Nazi”.
training style experience'
"in-kind support" referred to by the Home Office includes social
media training, technical assistance on building and improving websites, and
capacity building to help groups protect individuals considered vulnerable to
extremism. Organisations can apply for grants of up to £50,000, according to
guidance for applicants.
organisation involved in the event was BBYO, a Jewish youth organisation that
organises "Israel Journey" summer experiences in which participants
visit locations including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Galilee, the
occupied Golan Heights and the Negev desert.
trips aim to create a strengthened sense of Jewish identity and a lasting
connection to the state of Israel, according to the BBYO website.
trips have private transport and travel with security escorts. One of the
activities organised under the Israel Journey Plus programmes is done in
partnership with the Israeli Defence Forces and located on a specialised army
educational base, where attendees can take part in a “basic training style
says the trips are about “exploring what it means to be Jewish from an Israeli
point of view”. Its website also maintains a “commitment to Israel”, where
participants are challenged to consider different ways of interpreting the
contemporary meaning of Zionism and tie all debate and discussion to the
support of Israel and Israeli people.
will leave our Tour with the confidence to define their own sense of
Zionism," the website says.
Day and the BBYO are both also backed by the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA),
the London-based partner for the Birthright programme and the UK's biggest
pro-Israel charity. The UJIA seeks to build "meaningful connections
between the UK Jewish community and the people of Israel" and says it has
been doing this for "nearly 100 years".
this year, Michael Wegier, the UJIA's chief executive, criticised a group of
American participants in Birthright trips who had left the tours in protest at
Israel's treatment of Palestinians following the killing by Israel of scores of
people and injuring of thousands more in Gaza in May.
think people who leave a Birthright group are behaving like entitled
brats," Wegier said.
can’t promise it will never happen in the UK, but I hope it doesn’t. They are
offered a major opportunity, at the expense of the Israeli government and the
Jewish people, to go to Israel for a 10-day free trip."
London Mosque told Middle East Eye that they were not aware at the time of the
event that Mitzvah Day was backed by the Home Office, or that other
organisations involved organised youth trips to Israel and the occupied
Aid partnered with Mitzvah Day, we just hosted the event so were not aware of
all of the details,” a spokesperson said.
like to do our due diligence and do things that benefit our community. We work
with many Jewish groups, we see no harm in working together for a common good.
though Britain had a significant role in forming modern day Israel, I don’t
think we should have an isolationist approach or a boycotting attitude."
Malik, the chief executive of Muslim Aid, told MEE it was important for young
Muslim and Jewish people to know that they have more in common with each other
action is also a priority for the Muslim faith, Jews and Muslims have very
similar charitable values… it was very moving to see young people talking to
each other, working together, engaging with each other, from different walks of
life and different backgrounds”, he told MEE.
Aid did not respond to requests for comment about whether it was aware that
Mitzvah Day was supported by the Home Office, and the involvement of Jewish
organisations promoting Birthright tours.
May, the charity issued a press statement in which it called for the
"immediate end to the killing of innocent civilians" in Gaza. It said
that donations would pay for medical equipment that was being used to treat
hundreds of wounded people at al-Awda hospital in Jebaliya, northern Gaza.
fundraising effort this year aimed to raise money to support neonatal intensive
care in Gaza.
Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
bill to officially recognize Palestinian state has been submitted to the House
of Commons by the first British Palestinian MP on Wednesday.
Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP, said in a video she shared before submitting the
bill that she is very proud for being elected as the first Palestinian MP in
the U.K. “but it remains the fact that Britain has not officially recognized
the Palestinian as a state and I believe that is something that should change.”
I was elected I have been dismayed at the progress the Conservative Government
has made towards recognising the state of Palestine," Moran said in a
statement issued to Anadolu Agency.
am in favour of a two-state solution, but until the state of Palestine is
recognised, the two actors can’t come to the table as equal partners,” she
said: “Given the U.K.’s role in the Balfour declaration it is vital that
Britain recognises the role it has played and the role is has to play in
re-igniting the peace talks.
I appreciate that the U.K. recognizing the state of Palestine alone won’t be a
solution, doing it would go some way to reigniting the spark of hope that has
gone out in the heart of Palestinians across the world.”
bill will be published in the next few days or weeks and it will, if passed
into law, require the Government to formally recognise the state of Palestine
within 3 months of the Bill being passed, a statement from Moran’s
parliamentary office said.
don’t believe that we should be waiting some sort of fictitious moment in the
future with undefined goals where this is given as a reward for Palestine and
Palestinian leaders’ going back to negotiating table,” Moran said in the video
she shared earlier on YouTube.
encourage anyone who believes in peace between Israel and Palestine, who
believes in the two-state solution to back this bill and back Britain
recognizing Palestine as a state as soon as possible,” she said.
embarked on a strategy to seek international recognition as an independent
state in 1988 with its declaration of independence. Between 2009 and 2010, a
second phase began, during which many countries decided to recognize it as an
2012, the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine the status of
non-member observer state.
U.K. expects all arm sales to Saudi Arabia to comply with international
humanitarian law, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Wednesday.
remarks came during an urgent session on the situation in Yemen after a
question from Alison Thewliss, a Scottish National Party MP.
were “160 air raids” in Yemen only in October and “60 per cent of those raids
targeted civilian infrastructure including hospitals, food storage facilities,
water and electricity sites and civilian transport,” Thewliss said.
does he expect the Saudis used weapons sold to them this month?” she asked.
expect all arm sales to comply with international humanitarian law and we have
processes in place to make sure there are thorough investigations if we think
they have not,” Hunt responded.
said there is a strategic partnership between the U.K. and Saudi Arabia, but
“we are very clear that we are only able to supply them arms… if we are
confident that it is in compliance with the international humanitarian law.”
also said “the entire humanitarian situation in Yemen is totally
agree with the shadow foreign secretary [Emily Thornberry] that there needs to
be a full investigation for all crimes that had happened," Hunt said.
urgent question on Yemen was granted to Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily
Thornberry Wednesday afternoon.
U.K.’s arm sales to Saudi Arabia has been under scrutiny and has recently come
under focus again after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi
Arabia’s Istanbul consulate.
previously called the killing a “disgraceful murder” and said the Saudi crown
prince Mohammed bin Salman “takes his allies for fools,” mentioning some of the
alleged crimes attributed to him.
the U.K. government to use the Magnitsky powers for anyone involved in the
murder, including those who ordered it, Thornberry asked for financial
penalties on those responsible and the suspension of U.K.'s sales of arms to
had said the reports about Khashoggi’s death, if they prove true, “are not
compatible with our values".
to the United Nations, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As the
conflict enters its fourth year, around 14 million people in Yemen, or half the
total population of the country, are at risk of famine, the UN says.
and Tehran accused Washington on Wednesday of seeking to hamper reconstruction
efforts in war-torn Syria, following the announcement of new sanctions
targeting Russian companies and Syrian intermediaries which allegedly sent
millions of barrels of oil to Syria.
Tuesday, the US Treasury accused Russia of facilitating the shipment of Iranian
oil to Syria, alleging that a Syrian citizen used his Russia-based company to
ship Iranian oil to Syria with the aid of a Russian state-owned company.
announcement of sanctions comes less than a month after the director of Syria’s
state-owned petroleum company said that the oil ministry has a direct credit
line with Iran, which provides millions of barrels of oil to Syria every month.
Russian-Iranian network identified by the Treasury on Tuesday reveals one of
the ways “Russia and Iran cooperate tactically for the sake of the survival of
the Assad regime,” Anton Mardasov, an expert at the Russian International
Affairs Council (RIAC), told The National.
new sanctions also underscore how Russia and Iran are coming under increasing
pressure from US officials, who are seeking to curb Iranian influence in the
region and undermine Russia on the global stage.
targeted by Tuesday’s sanctions include Syrian Mohammad Amer Alchwiki and his
Russia-based company Global Vision Group, which were central to the delivery of
Iranian oil to Syria and the transfer of funds to the Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps' Quds Force's "lethal proxies", the Treasury Department
sanctioned include state-owned Russian company Promsyrioimport, a subsidiary of
the Russian Energy Ministry, which the US Treasury alleges facilitated
shipments of Iranian oil to Syria, as well as Mir Business Bank and Iran-based
Tadbir Kish Medical and Pharmaceutical Company.
targets include Syrian national Hajji Abd Al Nasir, Lebanese national Muhammad
Qasim Al Bazzal and Russian national Andrey Dogaev, as well as Iranian
nationals Rasoul Sajjad and Hossein Yaghoubi Miab. Messrs Sajjad and Yaghoubi,
both officials at the Central Bank of Iran, worked to facilitate Mr Alchwiki's
transfers, the Treasury said.
of State Mike Pompeo warned on Twitter that there were "grave consequences
for anyone shipping oil to Syria, or trying to evade US sanctions on the
Islamic Republic's terrorist activities."
Russian foreign ministry responded on Wednesday saying the move only served to
harm attempts to defeat “terrorists” in Syria, describing the step as a
concerning oil supplies to Syria – a country whose armed forces have been
fighting terrorist aggression for over seven years – look like a statement of
support for terrorists and also show a desire to prevent the reconstruction of
the war-torn country, where many people live without electricity and heating.
Is it what the United States really wants?" the Russian ministry asked.
in October, the director of Syria’s state-run oil company, Moustafa Haswiya,
said that Syria’s current oil production of 23,000 barrels of oil per day was
only enough to cover 10 per cent of market demand, with some of the deficit
imported from Iran. He said at least two shipments arrived monthly, carrying a
total of 2 million barrels of oil.
will continue supplying oil to Syria in line with its agreement with Damascus
despite pressure from the United States, RIA news agency quoted Oleg Morozov, a
member of the Russian Federation Council, as saying late on Tuesday.
political defeat in Syria apparently prompts the United States to return to the
idea of regime change in Damascus. Therefore, economic pressure through oil
supply shutdown becomes a tool of the new economic war with [Syrian President]
Bashar Al Assad and indirectly with Moscow and Iran," he said.
Morozov said Russia acts with "absolutely legally".
have an agreement with Syria and therefore it's up to us to decide what we
supply and to whom. This will be our answer, [it is] much more effective than
counter-sanctions," he added.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman called the sanctions "fruitless,
illogical and inefficient".
who designed and implemented these sanctions will understand sooner or later
that they will not achieve their goals,” Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by
state news agency IRNA on Wednesday.
oil ministry and state-run petroleum company were not immediately available for
City, Nov. 20, 2018: Speaking to a delegation from the Maronite Catholic
Church, Pope Francis thanks Lebanon for welcoming over a million refugees and
for maintaining a balance between Christians and Muslims.
Francis addressed the Maronite Foundation and a delegation of Authorities from
Lebanon on Nov.19.
brief remarks, Pope Francis jokingly compared the numerous group of people
visiting to the “multiplication of the loaves”, as they were more than he had
visit came on the same day as the Pope met with the bishops of the Maronite
Catholic Church, who are in Rome for their “ad Limina Apostolorum” visit.
Francis thanked the Lebanese people for two things.
the Pope thanked them for “maintaining a creative balance, as strong as the
cedar tree,” between Christians and Muslims.
he expressed his appreciation for their “generosity and welcoming hearts”,
referring to their attitude towards refugees.
Francis acknowledged that Lebanon has welcomed over one million refugees
rights group sues Abu Dhabi crown prince over war crimes in Yemen
rights group based in France has filed a lawsuit against Abu Dhabi Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan during his visit to Paris over his complicity in
war crimes committed in Yemen.
complaint filed by the International Alliance for the Defense of Rights and
Freedoms (AIDL) on Wednesday accused Prince Mohammed, who is Deputy Supreme
Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, of war crimes, complicity in torture and
inhumane treatment in Yemen.
is the supreme leader of the United Arab Emirates' armed forces, and with
(Saudi crown prince) Mohammed Bin Salman, he is also the instigator of the
whole war that is now taking place in Yemen and the methods used for this war,
meaning massive and indiscriminate bombardment," lawyer Joseph Breham, who
represents the AIDL in filing the suit, said.
added that a number of Yemenis have joined the lawsuit filed in a Paris court.
complaint cited a report by UN experts that said airstrikes conducted by a
military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Yemen may amount to war
crimes and that torture was carried out in two centers run by Emirati troops.
complaint made reference to aerial attacks that targeted a crowded funeral
ceremony in the capital Sana’a in October 2016 and killed more than 140 people.
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign
against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former
Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the
country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.
to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED),
a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far
claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
the Children, a UK-based charity, said on Tuesday that more than 84,700
children under the age of five may have starved to death in Yemen since the Saudi
regime and a coalition of its allies launched the brutal war on the
already-impoverished nation. AIDL also referenced documents from Human Rights
Watch, Amnesty International and Oxfam on arbitrary detentions and the use of
illegal cluster bombs in the lawsuit.
Mohammed arrived in Paris on Wednesday to meet President Emmanuel Macron and
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe amid calls for the suspension of France’s arms
sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
prosecutors are already studying a lawsuit filed in April against Saudi
Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on similar charges.
high school grooming students to become Iran spies
only high school teaching Farsi language is using the course to help the
regime's intelligence agencies train agents who can spy on Iran.
by retired Israeli general Pini Shmilovich, the “Iran, Security and
Intelligence” program at Ben Gurion High School in the central city of Petah
Tikva offers specialized courses in understanding Iranian culture and
government system, according to a report by Voice Of America (VOA).
course also indoctrinates the 16- and 17-year-old teens with propaganda about
how Iran is supporting groups that are "hostile" to Israel and the
Islamic Republic's role in sectarian conflicts across the Middle East region.
government-approved project began in 2014 and has so far trained some 50
certified Farsi-speaking students, 20 of whom have made it to the Israel's
military intelligence community after being handpicked during their mandatory
high schools usually only teach Arabic as their only optional foreign language
while English is mandatory for all students.
who served in Shin Beth — the Israeli regime's internal security agency
specializing in counter espionage — said the course helps Israeli spies to be
"proactive" with regards to Iran.
think it’s important that in Israel, there will be enough people who know what
Iran is, and who can influence and be pro-active in the issue of the
relationship between Iran and Israel,”
students told VOA Persian that they took the voluntary course because they
thought doing intelligence work, specially against Tehran, was prestigious.
have a better knowledge about languages, and I’m serious about what I’m doing,”
said a male student. “You have to be honest and know to keep a secret when you
are going into intelligence. And I think I am able to do it.”
Jahanforooz, an Iranian-born Israeli singer and educator who teaches the Farsi
course, said she thought "it's OK" that her work was being used to
groom spies who would go on to work against her own country of origin.
Mossad and other spying agencies are heavily invested in carrying out espionage
operations against Iran.
intelligence organizations have been increasingly foiling espionage and
terrorist operations inside the country over the past several years. Many of the
suspects detained in such operations admit to having received Israeli support
in form of money, arms or intelligence equipment.
the battle goes both ways as earlier this year, Israel arrested a cabinet
minister charged with high-profile spying for Iran.
to Shin Bet, Gonen Segev had been working for Iranian intelligence services
from 2012, handing over "dozens" of sensitive reports during meetings
in a number of countries.
response to the news, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said in
August that Tehran had "brought under our control a member of a cabinet of
a hostile country" without elaborating.
leader’s days are numbered, vows Israeli minister
senior Israeli Cabinet minister is threatening to kill the leader of the
militant Hamas movement ruling Gaza.
Gallant says Wednesday that “Yehiyeh Sinwar’s time is limited” and “he will not
end his life in an old folks’ home.”
at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Gallant vowed there would be
another Israeli campaign in Gaza and said Sinwar better “recalculate his
and Hamas recently stepped back from the brink of their fourth war in a decade,
thanks to an Egyptian cease-fire.
militants had fired 460 rockets and mortar shells into Israel, while the
Israeli military carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Fourteen
Palestinians, including 12 militants, were killed, while a Palestinian laborer
working in Israel was killed by a Gaza rocket.
Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman has said that
the recent actions taken by “the Houthi militias in Yemen are consistent with
their Iranian masters’ playbook”.
Iranian-backed Houthis announced a ceasefire in which they said they will halt
all missile attacks against Coalition countries and Yemeni forces. 13 hours
later, they launched a missile targeting Midi. This is consistent with their
pattern of lying and violating commitments,” Prince Khalid tweeted.
is after all consistent with their Iranian masters’ playbook. On Yemen, while
the Iranian Foreign Minister denies any involvement, the IRGC Deputy Commander
Hossein Salami boasts of ‘new bases from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea’,” he
militias broke an agreed-upon ceasefire on Tuesday after firing a missile
targeting Saudi territories just hours after saying that they were halting
drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their
has launched a demolition campaign in Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem
al-Quds, leaving about 20 businesses and petrol stations destroyed under the
pretext of lacking building permits.
Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported that 16 shops and three petrol stations
were demolished during the campaign on Wednesday.
excavators entered the camp early on Wednesday to destroy the structures amid
the presence of the regime’s police forces.
police said in a statement that "18 illegal businesses and three illegal
petrol stations" were demolished in the camp, which is surrounded by
Israel's controversial separation barrier and is the only refugee camp within
clashes erupted between the Israeli troops and Palestinian youths in the camp
after the demolition of the shops, according to the Palestinian Information
sources also said that Israeli forces arrested three Palestinian children.
demolitions drew condemnation from Palestinian officials.
Abu Holy, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization's refugee department,
said the demolitions were "under the illegal pretext of building without a
in East Jerusalem al-Quds and in parts of the West Bank say it is nearly
impossible for them to get approvals for buildings.
Dibs, an official from the camp, also denounced the demolitions, saying the
shops had been built in 2007.
occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six Day War in
1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem al-Quds in a move not recognized by the
600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967
Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East
court in Turkey has handed down aggravated life sentences to dozens of people
on charges of involvement in the failed July 2016 coup attempt against
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which the Ankara government accuses to have
been masterminded by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.
sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ankara's 20th High Criminal
Court passed the rulings against 74 defendants on Wednesday after they were
charged with “attempting to disrupt the constitutional order.”
the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had
seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in
charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.
has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure
is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the
government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army,
police and the judiciary.
has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.
against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated
slanders,” he said in a statement.
77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his
followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to
President Erdogan and his regime.”
officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen,
but their demands have not been taken heed of.
which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in
suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in
the failed coup.
of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having
links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including
military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended
from work over the same accusations.
there a parallel security ministry run by Islamists in Tunisia?
of the members of the Tunisian parliament destroyed fire detectors under the
dome a few days ago. However, they later brought ladders and climbed up to the
fire detectors, as they were afraid they might have been spotted by
surveillance cameras hidden in these detectors. This shows how scared the
members of parliaments are of the very idea that there were surveillance
cameras spying on them.
incident is linked to a controversy that broke out a few weeks ago. A left-wing
party claimed that there was a parallel security force operating within the
Ministry of the Interior and spoke about a “black room” operating from behind
powerful interior ministry
Tunisian interior ministry with its many departments had been a source of
terror for the Tunisian people for many decades. Traditionally, the ministry
has been linked to secret torture activities, spying on citizens as well as
monitoring their movements and their houses. While passing under the dense
trees on the pavement to the Interior Ministry building, in one of the
capital’s prominent Habib Bourguiba Street, one is confronted by the images of
the executioners, the stench of dark rooms emitting the smell of cigarette
smoke and blood, mostly of the many detainees to have officially disappeared.
Interior ministry has been a symbol of the power of the regime and its eventual
fall. It witnessed the largest demonstration on 14 January 2011, against former
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and demanded his departure.
presence of thousands of demonstrators in front of the Interior Ministry
building raising all the anti-regime slogans led to the fall of Ben Ali. The
event sent a powerful message to the palace in Carthage that the people were no
longer afraid of the oppression of the interior ministry. In fact, Ben Ali
initially “belonged to the Interior Ministry”. He was the security director
before getting promoted in the security services, until he became the president
in 1987 coup.
has been seven years since the departure of the former President Zine El
Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled Tunisia for a quarter of a century. However, the
torture cases are still under investigation, which were conducted by erstwhile
security services since 1956 independence. Even the elderly dug up records of
espionage by the Tunisian Information Department over its people for about 60 years,
and brought it to the Truth and Dignity Commission, that opened the files of
the human rights violations. However, the image of the interior ministry has
still not improved, even among members of parliament elected after the
16 November, the office manager of President of the Tunisian Parliament, Hamdi
Quzqez revealed that the PMs had deliberately destroyed fire detectors,
thinking that they were surveillance cameras, following a controversy raging
within the parliament over the existence of smaller security and spying
cameras. He stressed that the surveillance cameras are located only at the
entrances of the parliament building and not inside the hearing rooms, denying
the existence of eavesdropping devices.
“dark room” with hidden documents
the end of October this year, the Popular Front (a leftist party) confirmed the
presence of a “dark room” on a property located behind the Ministry of the
Interior on Avenue Bourguiba in the capital (in other words an officially
undeclared secret room) in which documents were hidden that relate to the 2013
assassinations which targeted left-wing opposition figures, including Chokri
Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi. This claim was a direct accusation against the
Ministry of Interior over their concealment of “dangerous" documents.
Popular Front’s claims related to the secret activities of the Ministry of the
Interior was looked into by the defense committee of the martyrs on Belaid and
Brahmi, but the Ministry denied the existence of any ‘dark room’ on two
Executive branch with its two poles: President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime
Minister Youssef Chahed , called upon the judicial system to investigate these
allegations in order to reassure the public. Essebsi declared that the judicial
branch alone is capable of unveiling the truth on this subject, but he also
stressed the necessity of not exploiting the demand to disclose the reality
around the “dark room” in order to put pressure on the “independent” judiciary.
turn, Prime Minister Youssed Chahed stated last Monday that the investigating
judge turned to the location, which the Popular Front had identified as the
‘dark room’ and had changed the locks, as if to tell the people, “We have
closed the dreaded cave”.
this talk in relation to the existence of a secret chamber allocated to the
Ministry of the Interior with the task of spying on Tunisians is not a recent
matter. In January 2017, the National Assembly had questioned former interior
minister Hadi Majdoub on this particular subject.
was then interrogated about a leaked security document in relation to the
wiretapping of a businessman in an apartment on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, which
dates back to 2014. The minister did not deny the document’s validity and
affirmed that the tenants of the apartment were being held for questioning by
the Public Prosecutor.
the time, Majdoub disclosed in a hearing at the National Assembly’s Security
and Defense Committee that the leaked security document was regarding the
wiretapping of a businessman in connection with the leader of the Libyan
National Party, Abdul Hakim Belhaj. There were reports concerning the intention
of the Libyan Party’s officials to come to Tunisia. This prompted a unit of the
Ministry of the Interior to track their calls.
that time the minister left office and was succeeded by a new one, but since
the reemergence of the story of the secret room in recent days, the Ministry
denied on two occasions the existence of bugging and spying devices on the
lawyer Ridha AlRadawi has confirmed the discovery of 33 bags and documents
related to the Brahmi case, cardboard boxes containing books as well as a box
with inoperative mobile phones, in the above mentioned property. He stated that
these documents represent clear evidence over the existence of a ‘secret room’
at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior.
months ago, on September 4th , Nidaa Tounis (President Beji's Party) declared
that a number of security officials in civilian uniform demanded of the guards
in charge of protecting a building, where members of the party were meeting
some ministerial figures, to provide them with the names of those present at
the meeting including the attending ministers. The party condemned this
behavior which recalled the former regime’s practices prior to the revolution.
party called on the Minister of the Interior to open an investigation into the
matter, but the Ministry defended the ‘operation’ carried out by the security apparatus
in civilian attire affirming that it was “within their tasks”.
Haram: 156 former insurgents declare allegiance to Nigeria
Ameh Comrade Godwin
fewer than 156 repentant and surrendered members of the Boko Haram on Wednesday
swore allegiance to the Nigerian government after undergoing a
De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, coded
Operation Safe Corridor.
repentant insurgents took the oath of allegiance before Justice Nehizena
Idemudia Afolabi of the Federal High Court, Gombe at the DDR rehabilitation
camp in Gombe.
former Boko Haram members dropped their weapons and surrendered to the Nigerian
Army, after which they were enlisted into the de-radicalisation programme of
the federal government.
Commandant of the DDR camp, Colonel Gurama Martins, said majority of the
repentant members of the sect were victims of circumstances who were forced
into the war.
coast guards have raided a cargo ship and forcibly evicted dozens of desperate
refugees from the vessel, which had rescued them off the Libyan coast ten days
guards used robber bullets and tear gas on Tuesday to remove 90 refugees from a
Panama-flagged “Nivin” vehicles carrier that had rescued them as their boat
began sinking and docked in the port of Misrata.
refugees, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, who sought to reach
Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, were refusing to leave the ship.
joint force raided the cargo ship and used rubber bullets and tear gas to force
[them off the ship],” Reuters quoted the commander of the central region
coastguards, Tawfiq Esskair, as saying on Tuesday.
commander said some of them had been wounded during the eviction but were now
“in good condition” after treatment in hospital.
have now been taken to a detention center in the city, according to Esskair.
groups had already warned against taking the refugees to detention centers,
where they are reportedly held in dire conditions.
on the cargo ship, refugees were pleading to be taken to Europe.
western coast is the main departure point for asylum seekers attempting to
reach Europe. Many refugees have crossed the central Mediterranean to Italy
over the past four years as human traffickers took advantage of a security
vacuum in Libya after the toppling of its long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
some of the refugees complained that they were tortured by human traffickers in
the North African country, others said they had been through serious abuses in
official detention centers.
come you want me to leave the ship and stay in Libya?” said a 17 year-old
Sudanese asylum seeker earlier this week, according to Reuters. “We agree to go
to any place but not Libya.”
said his brother and friend had both died at the hands of smugglers in a
smuggling center south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
United Nations (UN) condemned Libya’s forced eviction of the refugees, saying in
a statement, “The humanitarian community is saddened by the turn of events.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an investigation into whether “unlawful
force” had been used against asylum seekers.
is the worst possible conclusion to the desperate plea of the people on board
the Nivin to avoid inhuman detention in Libya,” said Judith Sunderland, acting
deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at HRW.
International had on Friday warned against forcing those rescued “to disembark
to be taken to a Libyan detention center where they could face torture and
rights organization further explained that “under international law, no-one
should be sent to a place where their life is at risk.”
has been this argument as to whether Nigeria is a secular or non-secular state,
religious or non-religious nation. A secular state is a state which purports to
be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor
irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally
regardless of religion and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen
from a particular religion/ non religion over other religions/ non religion.
Secular states do not have a state religion.
states become secular upon creation of the state, for example, the USA or upon
secularisation of the state (e.g. France and Nepal). Historically, the process
of secularizing states, typically involves granting religious freedoms,
disestablishing state religion, stopping public funds being used for religion,
freeing the legal system from religious control, freeing up educational system,
tolerating citizens who change religion or abstain from religion and allowing
political leadership to come to power, regardless of their religious beliefs.
secular means worldly, non religious or not spiritual while non-secular will
then refer to be spiritual or religious. But it does not always work out that
way in real practice. Some non-secular states actually do not subscribe to any
spirituality. Indeed some of the greatest atheist nations are regarded as
non-secular, such states as China, Japan, Czech Republic, France, Australia and
Iceland. But many non-secular states truly have state religions - that is they
recognize a special religion in their constitution. Some Christian nations
include Costa Rica, Malta, Monaco, Vatican City (Catholicism); England, Jersey
and Tuvalu (Anglicanism); Denmark, Norway, Greenland, Finland (Lutheranism).
is one of the few Christian states in Africa. Many of the predominantly
Muslim-dominated states have Islam as the official state religion, countries
such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran,
Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan and Morocco. Some other states have Buddhism or
Hinduism as their state religion. Some countries have transformed political
ideology into some kind of religion. China in the days of Mao Zedong and North
Korea even as at today adopt their political ideology as religion and very much
resist any true religious influence.
what is Nigeria - secular on non-secular? My answer is both. Secular because,
Nigerian constitution does not recognize any official religion yet some states
in Nigeria have adopted the Sharia legal system. It is also non-secular,
because Nigeria as a country invests in religious activities and is essentially
a religious nation. Every year the tax payers' money is spent to pay for or
subsidize religious trips to Israel and Mecca called pilgrimage. The government
of Nigeria funds the offices that organise the pilgrimages and governments at
all levels, donate money directly to religious bodies and for religious
purposes. Is Nigeria religious or non-religious.
answer as shown above is affirmative. The country is not only religious, it is
essentially multi-religious. It officially allows freedom of religion or
worship and often starts many official functions with prayers. The second verse
of the National Anthem is actually a prayer. But certain sects have developed
in Nigeria overtime that have tended to abridge the freedom or rights of other
religious adherents. The current Boko Haram insurgents first fought against the
Christian churches, claiming that western education was bad, which of course
has the Christian imprint, before turning full circle to fight those who they
believed did not practise their model of Islam.
Nigeria is a deeply religious country is well established and well expressed.
Truly I believe that Nigeria is among the most religious nations in the whole
world. It is believed that Nigeria has the highest number of church
denominations and highest the number of churches in the world. I may not speak
authoritatively for Islam but I can see mosques everywhere more that I see in
many of the nations that I have visited. I have not visited Saudi Arabia but I
am prepared to place a bet that there are more mosques in Nigeria than in Saudi
Arabia. Even in the traditional religious practices, every hamlet in Nigeria
has shrines and coves where traditional worship takes place. At some point,
especially in my part of the country, there was a time it looked like Christian
Religion was displacing traditional religion but there has a recent resurgence
in traditional worship centres and even some so called Christians who are
"tired" of waiting for God to act now take their matters to deities
my question is, has religion helped the growth and development of Nigeria?
Indeed has it helped the growth and development of other countries? One way to
begin to address this question is to see if there is any difference in the rate
of growth of religious nations - where religion is practised and those nations
that prohibit or limit freedom of worship. America, Israel, Germany, Norway,
Denmark and the UK are good examples of where liberal Christian religion is
fundamental to their way of life, though many now have growing populations of
Muslims and Asian religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism,
Confucianism and Shintoism. These countries represent the gold standard in
economic growth and development.
is ample evidence that their religious practices have been positive to their
economic growth and orderly development of their societies. You can say similar
things about Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Turkey, Egypt and a few of such
countries that have adopted Islam as state religion, even within the context of
belonging largely to developing nations' categorisation. countries with
restricted religious freedom like Russia, Japan and China have shown mixed
results. Japan had delayed economic growth but shot up in the 20th century with
massive technological breakthroughs. Russia has been mixed. It has not shown
forth like other countries of its age. Communism which was a political ideology
that more or less replaced religion for a long time in my opinion may have undermined
economic growth and development.
slow pace of economic development in North Korea as different from the
exceptionally rapid growth in South Korea (with one of the largest churches in
the world) may derive in some part from their opposing religious orientations.
One area of clear distinction in my view is that those countries that allowed
religious freedoms have a higher moral tone and overall better quality of life.
Though China has become a recent economic miracle, its economic liberalisation which
mimicked the western course of development, happened because of toning down of
communism and some better religious tolerance. The violence predominant in the
Middle East and the terror that have been exported from that axis - Osama Bin
Ladan's alqueda, and its metamorphosis - ISIS may be difficult to explain along
religious lines. But there is no gain saying that there is some impact of
religion, perhaps misguided extremist religious ideologies that say that God
would reward anyone who kills in His defence, such as has been exported to
Somalia's Elshabab and West Africa's Boko Haram.
Nigeria, there is certainly no gain saying that the multi-religious practices
in Nigeria have played more positive roles in its growth and development than
the negative consequences of some of the religious practices. That is to say
that in my view religion has helped the growth and development of Nigeria.
Early education in Nigeria was influenced by both Christian and Islamic
religions. Many of the Mission Schools and healthcare centers in Nigeria
established by the missionaries especially the Christian genre provided much of
the educational and healthcare needs of Nigerians in the years after
independence. And even today, they still represent the gold standards as Nigerian
governments with few exceptions over the years haven shown a chronic inability
to provide or manage efficiently public educational and health institutions.
major paradox in Nigeria is that it looks like the more religious institutions
we build in Nigeria, the more denominations and sects we create, the worse we
become morally. Corruption in Nigeria, for example, which is preached against
by most (if not all) religious groups, seems to be growing in tandem with our
religious expansion. And endemic corruption has severely compromised Nigeria's
growth and development. Violence and all forms of criminality have been growing
as our churches and mosques grow. Poor work-ethic and consequent low
productivity continue to doug our economic land space. Poor governance and
poverty have increased along the same scale as the growth in worship centres in
Nigeria. In fact, in Nigeria, people are now stealing and killing in the name
of their "gods". This development has led many to begin to query the
impact of religion on our moral tone and economic well being. They seem to be
pointing to atheistic nations as Japan, China and Australia as having better
moral tone and registering better growth and development than Nigeria where
most people practise one form of religion or another.
I was discussing this bewildering situation over this weekend with a friend of
mine, he raised two reasons why he thinks religion is not making as much
positive impact as it made in the colonial or immediate post colonial eras in
Nigeria. First is, that many false religions or false variants of true
religions have proliferated in Nigeria in the guise of freedom of worship. The
prayers and activities of these false religions are cancelling out or
neutralising the effect of the true religious groups.
second is that chronic poor governance in Nigeria has driven many Nigerians
into poverty and the only religion that interests many now is the religion of
" stomach infrastructure" and many Nigerians are now compelled to
worship any 'god' that will guarantee regular meals. So how do we deal with
these two problems? For the first one, he suggested vigilance and some form of
censorship by the major religious groups. Which is to say that CAN, for
example, should find ways to expose the false prophets and the lions in sheep's
clothing within the Christian religious groups while the JNI should do same for
Muslim religious groups. What of the traditional religious groups? He could
proffer no solution.
in the country wants government to declare birth of Holy Prophet Muhammed
(Peace Be Upon Him) on the third month (Rabiul Awal) of the Islamic lunar
calendar a public holiday as it is the case with other 51 countries in the
Muslims renewed their request on Tuesday during this year's Ziyarah Parade
which marks the birthday of Prophet Muhamma known as Miladun-nabi.
Mathew Kawinga asked government President to consider declaring this day a
national public holiday for the sake of about five million Muslims in Malawi.
should be given more time to pray and trasact their business without being
isturbed," he said.
of Muslims took to the streets of Blantyre, Malawi's second largest city and
the country's finance and commerce center, to celebrate the occasion.
director for Al-Traq Qadeia Sunni Association Faizal Aboo also made the request
during the previous Ziyarah Parade .
as a democratic country needs to consider us, Muslims, to celebrate this
birthday while at home and that those working should be given a full day of
celebrations," said Aboo.
working should be given a full day off for these celebrations," he added.
i is a national holiday in Muslim countries.
held in Muslim Malaysia over 'Christian pamphlets'
Finns have been arrested on a holiday island in Muslim-majority Malaysia for
allegedly distributing pamphlets about Christianity, police said Wednesday, and
may face up to five years in jail.
is a deeply sensitive issue in Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of the
populaton is Muslim, and critics say rising conservatism has chipped away at a
traditionally tolerant brand of Islam in recent years.
detained the two men and two women on Tuesday after receiving complaints from
members of the public that they were handing out Christian materials on the
popular resort island of Langkawi, said local police chief Mohamad Iqbal
have arrested four Finnish nationals in Langkawi for allegedly distributing
religious material in a public place," he told AFP.
were distributing pamphlets related to Christianity."
Finns, aged between 27 and 60, were arrested at a hotel and police seized pens,
notebooks and a bag.
are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious
harmony. If found guilty, they could be jailed for between two and five years.
suspects have been remanded in custody while police investigate.
a jungle-clad island in northwest Malaysia, attracts millions of tourists to
its palm-fringed beaches every year.
home to about 32 million people, has sizeable ethnic Chinese and Indian
communities who have long complained about rising Islamisation.
2010, three churches were attacked with firebombs, causing major damage to one,
as Muslims sought to prevent Christians from using the word "Allah".
related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia,
which witnessed deadly riots between members of the majority Malay community
and ethnic Chinese in 1969.
Force’ blogger joins forces with Malay groups to ‘destroy DAP’
Nov 21 — A new coalition, calling itself Gabungan 3, announced its formation
today, with the sole intention of “declaring war” on Pakatan Harapan (PH)
component, DAP, claiming the latter is the dominant voice in Putrajaya.
coalition is headed by Raggie Jessy, a blogger known for his controversial
Third Force blog. His deputy is Amran Ahmad Nor, reportedly a disgruntled
former DAP publicity unit employee.
adviser is Datuk Azwanddin Hamzah from Malay rights group Jaringan Melayu
Malaysia, who had most recently accused Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong
of wearing “Communist attire” when, in actual fact, he was wearing his
ministry’s formal corporate uniform.
want to give a stern warning to the ‘DAP nation’ and its ministers that they
cannot simply throw away the rights of other races.
would also like to warn them that they should not belittle the Federal
Constitution,” said Raggie in a press conference here, where coalition members
chanted “Hancur DAP” (“Destroy DAP”).
are also acting as the third force for those who are disenchanted with
political parties on both sides. We intend to fight DAP and anyone who seeks to
challenge the rights of the Malays, Islam and the Malay Rulers,” Raggie said.
said the coalition currently has 53 NGOs as its members, and intends to proceed
with a nationwide roadshow to gather more support.
LUMPUR: A defamation suit brought by Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusof Rawa against
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Kamarul Zaman Yusoff was settled
without a trial in the High Court.
a consent judgment, Mujahid, who is now Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department, withdrew his statement of claim while Kamarul retracted his
later read his statement of apology in open court before judge Nik Hasmat Nik
was also present in court today.
lecturer will also publish his expression of regret in his personal Facebook
Hasmat did not order costs to Mujahid, who was represented by Mohd Fitri
judge thanked both parties for settling the matter without having to go through
a protracted legal battle.
defendant has been sincere in expressing his apologies and this is a
significant development,” she said, adding that both had saved the court’s time
and resources in coming to an amicable solution.
year, Mujahid had filed the suit claiming Kamarul had defamed him through a
had also applied to the court for an injunction to stop Kamarul from
republishing the statement.
Amanah leader had sought RM5 million in general damages as well as
compensatory, aggravated and exemplary damages.
who is also the former director of UUM’s Institute for Political Studies, in
his Facebook post on May 25, accused Mujahid of being a “kuda tunggangan
terbaik parti DAP” (the best tool of DAP).
made the allegation after Mujahid was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini on May
24, 2017 as defending then Selangor state assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh against
attacks by Kamarul over her autobiography entitled “Becoming Hannah – A
claimed the book had tried to proselytise Muslims.
accusation against Mujahid was made with ill intention to damage his reputation
also jeopardised the image, standing and career of the plaintiff as a Muslim,
MP and leader in his party and community,” said Fitri.
PM to be at unveiling of Gandhi statue amidst Muslim boycott of meeting
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison shot off a series of tweets on
Wednesday criticising some leaders of the Muslim community for boycotting a
meeting that he called on Thursday to find ways of de-radicalising members of the
Muslim community. Morrison's strategic presence instead at the unveiling of the
Gandhi statue today is sure to make great optics. He met with President Ramnath
Kovind this morning which again was not the first engagement in the president's
initial schedule for the day. Morrison will accompany the Indian President at
three events today. Besides his first bilateral delegation level meeting,
Morrison will be in Paramatta, a Sydney suburb, for the unveiling of the statue
of Mahatma Gandhi and then in the evening he will attend the Australian
Financial Review India Business Summit.
Kovind's earlier schedule had him inaugurating the statue on Wednesday but with
Morrison deciding to participate as well, the unveiling was pushed to Thursday.
Coincidentally, perhaps, it was also to be the day that Morrison was to extend
the olive branch to the Muslim community whose leaders have been smarting after
Australian Prime Minister's blunt comments after the Melbourne terror attack.
visiting Pellegrini's cafe in Melbourne where the owner Sisto Malaspina was
stabbed to death last week allegedly by Islamic terrorists, Morrison called for
Imams and other members of the Muslim community to be better at identifying
radicalised people in their congregations and alerting the authorities.
won't cop the excuses," Morrison warned. "For those who want to stick
their head in the sand, for those who want to make excuses for those who stick
their head in the sand, you are not making Australia safer. You are giving people
an excuse to look the other way and not deal with things right in front of
you," he said.
there are people in a religious community, an Islamic community, that are
bringing in hateful, violent, extremist ideologies into your community, you've
got to call it out," the Australian Prime Minister added.
group of nine, including the Grand Mufti, have now told him they're deeply
disappointed by his comments and want the meeting deferred until their concerns
have been addressed.
Imams called for a boycott of the Thursday peace meeting, criticising
Morrison's comments. "These statements have achieved nothing to address
underlying issues, but rather, have alienated large segments of the Muslim
community," the group wrote.
the war of words continued late on Wednesday with the Prime Minister tweeting
such a charged atmosphere, Morrison's presence at the unveiling of a statue of
a man of peace and non-violence who dedicated his life to integrating people of
all faiths will send out a strong signal to his people that he is for
inclusiveness in Australian society and polity.
Australia unveiled a radical plan on Thursday to strip convicted terrorists of
their citizenship even if they are native-born Australians.
after a series of militant-inspired plots and attacks in the country, Prime
Minister Scott Morrison said his government needed expanded powers to withdraw
citizenship from anyone found guilty of terrorist activity.
who commit acts of terrorism have rejected absolutely everything that this
country stands for,” Morrison told a hastily organized press conference.
is something that can’t be tolerated, and for those who would engage in this
sort of activity, and they have citizenship elsewhere, or we have reason to
believe they do, they can go.”
current Citizenship Act allows authorities to revoke citizenship from people
jailed for six years or more for terrorist activities, but only if they are
already dual nationals.
called these limits “unrealistic” and said the law should be broadened so that
anyone convicted of a terrorist offense, even native-born Australians, could be
expelled if they could “reasonably” be expected to gain citizenship in another
country through their parents or grandparents.
conservative government will submit legislation to amend the Citizenship Act to
enshrine these new powers by the end of the year, he said.
legislation will also seek the power to impose “temporary exclusion orders” on
so-called “returned foreign fighters” — Australian citizens who travel to
conflict zones to fight alongside extremist groups.
on a British law, the provision would allow Australia to bar the return of a
citizen for up to two years, and to impose strict conditions on their
activities once they come home.
action came two days after police in Melbourne arrested three Australian-born
men of Turkish descent for allegedly plotting a mass shooting in the city.
than two weeks earlier, another man who was born in Somalia but came to Australia
with his family as a child, went on a stabbing rampage in Melbourne, killing
one man and wounding two others before being fatally shot by police.
said all four men were inspired by militant propaganda from the Daesh group,
even though none had any direct links to an extremist organization.
Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said there had been seven terror-related attacks
in Australia since 2014, while authorities had thwarted 15 other plots.
convicted terrorists have already had their citizenship revoked under existing
law, he added.
assess there are around 50 Australian dual citizens who may be eligible to lose
citizenship under the current provisions, and even more with the changes we are
announcing today,” Dutton said.
government’s proposed citizenship crackdown is certain to worsen tensions with
parts of Australia’s large Muslim community.
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