Sameru, a freshman at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, tidied up last month after
a Friday Prayer service. Credit Bridget Bennett for The New York Times
Bangladesh to Drop Islam as State Religion 'When Time
Two Islamic Sects, Deobandi and Sufi Muslims, Become
'One' In Ajmer
Difa-e-Pakistan Council: A Pack of ISI Supported Radicals
Seeking Halal Condoms and Other Contraceptives in Kenya's
Daesh Uses Wooden Tanks and Bearded Mannequins in Decoy
Dozens Killed In Weekend of Fresh Violence in Myanmar's
Plot to target Friday prayers with car bomb foiled in
Deadly car bombing foiled in Lashkargah city in South of
One of German consulate attackers arrested by Afghan
Those Who Attempt Change In Personal Will Burn Their
Hands – Muslim Shabban’s Conference
Shariat Protection Conference to Cooperate With AIMPLB
Muslims disappointed with CMs of twin states
Ceasefire agreement redundant: 286 violations by Pakistan
post surgical strike
Creating “Muslim as the enemy” is the RSS-BJP mantra:
As Battle in Mosul Unfolds, ISIS Looks To Pakistan for
Islamic State's Pakistan Attack Highlights Changing
Injured of Shah Noorani shrine blast narrate horror of
At Pakistan mortuary, unclaimed bodies and frantic
Enemies of Islam, Pakistan are going for soft targets: CM
can’t be swept under the carpet’
Hazara varsity teacher arrested for defrauding colleagues
QWP calls for boosting friendly relations with
War on terror suffering due to govt’s ‘compromising
Somalia: Allied Forces Retake Town from Al Shabaab
Dozens of Boko Haram militants surrender to Chadian
Muslim leaders demand 'apostasy' blogger's death sentence
West African Leader Expects Trump to Moderate His Most
Minnesota men to be sentenced in plot to join Islamic
Daesh uses wooden tanks and bearded mannequins in decoy
Clashes in Aleppo after Syrian Army Tells Rebels to Leave
Iraqi Forces Recapture Ancient City of Nimrud
Violence in Syria kills 23, including 11 children
Syrian Army Scores More Victories against Terrorists in
ISIL's Notorious Tajik Commander Killed in Mosul
Army, Air Force Inflict Heavy Losses on Terrorists in
Syrian Army to Start Operation in Aleppo City, Outskirts
in Coming Hours
Iraq troops aim to tighten noose on Islamic State in
Iraqi forces recapture ancient city of Nimrud
OIC to discuss Houthi targeting of Makkah
British 'Sharia Courts' Under Scrutiny
As many as 5,000 ISIS recruits to return to Europe –
Suspects Plotted 'Paris-Style' Attacks In Russia: Reports
Afghan attack won't change US policy: Kerry
France marks one year since Paris attacks
Turkey Sends 4 Trucks of Arms to Terrorists in Idlib,
Erdogan Hints At Referendum on Joining EU
Israeli PM backs bill to limit Azan
Israel PM backs bill to limit noise from mosques
British ambassador to Yemen writes to Al Arabiya: ‘Time
EU must play more active role in regional, global issues:
Iran seeks secure, stable Iraq: Parliament speaker
Yemeni casualties of Saudi war revised up
Penang Mufti Slammed For Saying ‘Damia’ Name Means
Parties fear backlash over Ahok’s blasphemy case
Samarinda Church Bomber Is a Former Terror Convict:
Muslim College Chaplains Extend a Hand across Religious
Will strongly oppose Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric:
Will a Muslim lead the Democratic Party of the United
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Bangladesh to Drop Islam As State Religion 'When Time
November 14, 2016
Dhaka: Muslim-majority Bangladesh will drop Islam as the
country's state religion "when the time comes", a media report on
Monday quoted a senior ruling Awami Leage leader as saying.
"Islam has been kept as the state religion for
strategic reasons," the party's Presidium Member and former minister Abdur
Razzaq told a roundtable here on Sunday.
"I have said it abroad and now I am saying it again
that Islam will be dropped (as state religion) from Bangladesh's Constitution
when the time comes," the former food minister was quoted as saying by
The ruling party leader made the statement while speaking
about Bangladesh's secular tradition at the roundtable organised by SAARC
Cultural Society at the national Press Club.
Politicians and journalists from India also took part in
the discussion titled 'Strong Unity of Masses of Bangladesh and India to
Prevent Terrorism', held with the recent attacks on Hindus in Brahmanbarhia in
Indian participants included Congress leader Preetam
Ghosh, social worker Ajoy Kumar Dutta and Bharatiya Janata Party leader
Highlighting secularism Mr Razzaq said: "The force
of secularism is in the people of Bangladesh. There is nothing called
'minority' in our country."
Secularism was included in the Constitution as one of the
four basic principles when it was written in 1972 as people from all religions
joined the struggle for independence and snatched it from Pakistan.
After the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975,
Bangladesh's course of direction was reversed, and Zia-ur- Rahman, capturing
the power, replaced 'secularism' with 'Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty
Another military dictator, HM Ershad, later included
Islam as the state religion in the Constitution.
After Mr Ershad's ouster, the demand to drop Islam as
state religion from the Constitution was raised several times, but even Awami
League, the party that led the struggle for independence, has not made the
Through the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 2011,
the four basic principles of the 1972 Constitution - nationalism, socialism,
democracy and secularism - were restored, but Islam remained the state
The Awami League leader's comment came at a time when
there are protests on the street against the attacks on Hindus and tribal
Santal minorities in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said as
a Muslim majority country it is the moral responsibility of the Bangladeshi
citizens to take care of minorities.
"Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony which
should be maintained at any cost for development and brighten the country's
image," Ms Hasina said at a video conference. "As a Muslim majority
country it is the moral responsibility of all of us to take care of the
minorities," she said.
The prime minister added: "You have to remain
careful so that no such incidents, which are taking place sporadically in
different parts of the country, take place anywhere in the country."
Nov 14, 2016
JAIPUR: Two Islamic sects with contrasting
interpretations of the religion came together to share the stage in Ajmer on
Jamiat Ulema- I- Hind (JUH), a social organ of Deobandi
Muslims who don't believe in shrine worship visited the Dargah in Ajmer which
represents Sufi Muslims. The implications of this 'union' might impact the
followers of both schools in the Indian subcontinent--Pakistan, Bangladesh and
Afghanistan, which are known for sectarian clashes.
"Let's keep our differences to ourselves so that our
daily lives are not affected," said JUH general secretary Maulana Mahmood
Madni, adding that Sufi values are antidote to the extremism and radicalization
that has overtaken conservative Muslims.
The 'union' happened on the side-lines of the three-day
33 General Session of JUH meeting when JUH leaders, including general secretary
Maulana Mahmood Madni visited the shrine of Khawaja Moinduddin Chishty in a bid
to bridge the gap between the two opposing sects. Later Sufi Muslim leaders
participated in the annual meet of JUH which was attended by over 50,000 people
from across the country.
Explaining the effects of the union, Abdul Wahid Khatri,
general secretary of the JUH Rajasthan chapter, said, "The headquarters of
both sects are in India---Deoband and Ajmer. This union will pass the message
of brotherhood across the globe."
Reacting on the development, Syed Wahid Angarahshah,
secretary of Anjuman Syed Zadgan of Dargah Ajmer, said, "Burying the
differences is a much needed step for the unification of Muslims of India. Now,
we can have deliberations on issues, problems and solutions which are common to
all of us."
Difa-e-Pakistan Council: A Pack Of ISI Supported Radicals
13 November, 2016
Pakistan's democratic system has strange ways of
functioning. It is based on undemocratic and biased perceptions towards
democratic elements and favorable to jihadists and anti-Indian Islamic groups
like Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) or the Defense of Pakistan Council.
While a national level democratic party, Pakistan
Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was not
allowed to hold an anti-government protest rally (November 2, 2016) in
Islamabad demanding resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over corruption
charges, on the same day DPC, an alliance of 40 various religious, political,
banned and defunct terrorist groups was allowed to hold a large scale rally in Islamabad against
alleged Indian atrocities in Kashmir, despite the imposition of Section 144 in
the capital city.
On the same day, DPC held similar anti-Indian rallies on
the Kashmir issue in other major cities of Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied
Kashmir (POK). Chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and grand master of terrorism Hafiz
Saeed who is most active member of the DPC was at the forefront accusing India
of atrocities on Kashmiris and he called upon Pakistani nation to support
Pakistan Army against Indian occupation of Kashmir. His most recent anti Indian
slogan was "Kashmir: Now or Never."
Primarily, DPC is an alliance of some banned and defunct
terrorist groups, right-wing political religious and pro-army political parties
and Ulema (Islamic scholars) against USA and India, which is intensely involved
in spreading hatred and spewing venom against USA for its presence in
Afghanistan and against India for its alleged atrocities in Kashmir and denying
the so-called right of self-determination to Kashmiris.
DPC was formed in October, 2011, a few days before 24
Pakistani soldiers were killed (November
26, 2011) in an air strike by USA led NATO forces at two Pakistani
military check posts at Salala in the Baizel subdivision of Mohammad Agency
along the Afghanistan–Pakistan border, about 2.5 km inside Pakistan. DPC
encashed this anti-USA development in Pakistan and demanded that the Pakistan
government close NATO supply routes to Afghanistan as well as not to give India
the status of 'Most-Favored Nation'(MFN).
DPC, an alliance of Islamist groups, advocates for
snapping Pakistan's ties with USA and against Pakistani government's any
overture to improve relations with India ignoring the Kashmir issue. It is mainly consists of radical Islamic political
parties like Jammat-e-Islami, Pakistan(JIP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F)(JUI-F),
Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan(JUP), Majlis-e Ahrar-e-Islam, pro-Kashmiris the All
Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference (AJKM), pro
late Gen. Zia party the Muslim League- Zia, Pakistan Army supporter
parties the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and Awami Muslim League; terrorist
groups like Hafeez Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and an anti-Shia terrorist group Sipah-e-Sahaba
Pakistan, which now operates under the name of Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ).
Some Islamic clerics and legal scholars and religio-political parties are
represented by the All Pakistan Ulema Council, Tanzeem-e-Islami and Jamiat Ahle
Hadith in DPC. Minority groups of Pakistani Hindus, Sikh and Christians, led by
Manohar Chand and Ramesh Lal, Sardar and Advocate Yousuf, respectively are also
members of the DPC.
DPC is led by Maulana Sami ul Haq, Chief of Jamiat Ulema
Islam(S). He is a religious scholar and Chancellor of Darul Uloom Haqqani,
Pakistan's most prestigious Islamic religious seminary, located at Akora
Khattak in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Many leading Taliban
leaders, including former Taliban chief Mullah Omar had studied in Darul Uloom
Haqqani. Maulana Sami ul Haq is known to be 'Father of Taliban' and has close
ties with Taliban. He supports the re-take of Afghanistan by the Taliban. He
had also twice served as member of the Pakistan Senate in 1985 and 2003. A staunch
supporter of establishment of Sharia rule in Pakistan, Maulana Sami ul Haq
along with Hafiz Saeed had played a major role in reviving DPC in May, 2016 as
since late 2012, DPC had virtually remained inactive.
After killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO forces
(November 26, 2011) inside Pakistan on Afghanistan border, DPC had held
nationwide well attended and large scale anti-US rallies around the country's
big and small cities and could successfully generate anti-US sentiments in
Pakistan over the incident. Following which, the then Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani ordered the suspension of NATO supply routes into Afghanistan.
killings of Pakistani soldiers by US-led NATO troops not only put
President Obama's administration in an embarrassing situation but it also gave
a plausible reason to DPC to launch an
aggressive agitation against USA in Pakistan. It is rare in international
relations that a country had apologized for its "misdeeds" committed
in a foreign country. However, it was Hillary Clinton, who had apologized (July
3, 2012) in her capacity as US Secretary of State to the Pakistan government
over killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO attack and finally on the same
day Pakistan lifted the ban on NATO's supply routes from Pakistan to
DPS is accused of being the brainchild of ISI. The former
ISI late Chief Hamid Gul (29 March, 1987 – 4 October, 1989), who was also one
of the brains behind the creation of Taliban and known to be an ardent
supporter of anti-Indian Kashmiri radicals and terrorist groups, was also
founder active member of the DPC after
his retirement from the service. He had since died on August 15, 2015. In 1988,
Gen. Gul, being chief of ISI, had facilitated formation of Islami Jamhuri
Ittehad-Islamic democratic front (IJI), a similar group of religious
organization against Pakistan Peoples Party as well as against USA when the
latter had stopped funding ISI. Gen. Gul, known to be an architect of
insurgency in Kashmir was removed from his position as ISI chief by Benazir
Bhutto in the year 1989.
ISI, in the past had also supported formation of Islamist
and right wing parties against USA. In 2002, ISI had supported the formation of
Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal (MMA), the conglomeration of six distinct Islamist
parties (2003), which opposed President Parvez Musharaff's pro-American
policies on war in Afghanistan and MMA also successfully formed a government in
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after general elections of 2002. MMA was then led by Maulana
Sami ul Haq, now chief of DPC.
General Zia-ul-Haq was the only ruler of Pakistan who had
backed and supported Pakistani Islamic groups and radicals' agenda to rule the
country according to Shariat (Islamic law). Pakistani radicals were supported
by the army, particularly by the ISI to the extent that they had virtually
become stakeholders in the nation's internal affairs and foreign affairs of the
country. However, presence of Americans and NATO forces in Afghanistan remained
a bone of contention between ruling governments and radicals of Pakistan after
Gen. Zia's death. Gen. Parvez Musharrrf's support to the USA after September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks and his banning some indigenous leading terrorists
groups further fueled Pakistani radical's anti-USA sentiments.
DPC is not only known to be an ISI-sponsored
Jihadi-sectarian project, it is also accused of influencing the ruling Pakistan
Muslim League (N) in the Punjab (Pakistan) province. DPC reportedly had support
of Punjab (Pakistan) Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif, who is accused of providing full support to the DPC in organizing
and holding conferences and meetings in the Punjab (Pakistan) province.
Cricketer-turned-politician Irman Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)
has also been criticized for supporting DPC's anti-USA stance and supporting
the Pakistan Army's interference in the internal affairs of the country. Since
two major jihadi groups, the JuD and SSP are integral parts of the DPC, this
organization is also criticized for spearing sectarian haltered against other
religious sects such as Shias, Christians, Ahemdis and Barelvis.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army and the ISI ,who are over dependent on country's Islamic and
right wing radical parties to diminish and weaken Pakistan's secular political
forces are criticized for allowing the
re-emergence of DPC as well as against the active role being played by Jihadis
like Hafiz Saeed in undermining General
Sharif's anti-terrorism master plan.
However, DPC is used by the Pakistan Army to put pressure
on USA for its role in Afghanistan and the civilian government of the country
against its any effort for friendlier relations with India. Meanwhile, since
ISI's support to the DPC is a part of its consistent policy of supporting country's
Islamists, DPC would be invariably used by the Pakistan Army against USA and
India in future also.
Seeking halal condoms and other contraceptives in Kenya's
Kenya: Swaddled in colourful hijabs the women exchange
puzzled looks and suppress embarrassed giggles. "You're sure it's
halal?" asks one, peering at a collection of birth control pills, condoms
Such everyday forms of contraception are little known and
rarely seen in Kenya's arid and neglected northeast, an overwhelmingly poor,
conservative and Muslim part of the country where most people are pastoralist
A study of early marriage by the charity Save the
Children found that just two percent of the population of Wajir county uses
contraception -- compared with a national Kenyan average of 58 percent -- due
to modern contraceptive methods being seen as a breach of Islamic principles.
But Deka Ibrahim, a female Islamic teacher, explains that
contraception is halal, permissible, as she talks to a group of 40 newly-weds
and mothers sitting on the dusty concrete floor of a dark room that is the
village's tiny maternity centre.
One woman feeds her child while others absentmindedly
fidget with the long sleeves of their austere outfits, revealing intricately
painted henna tattoos and fake diamond bracelets.
"The Muslim religion allows the use of these methods
in certain circumstances, especially if the health of the baby and mother are
at the heart of the thought process," says Ibrahim.
She adds however that according to this interpretation of
Islam there are conditions for using contraceptives: they must be temporary,
spousal approval is required, and, she reminds them, abortion is illegal in
Islam as well as in Kenyan law.
As a government nurse goes on to explain how to use the
different devices, Halima, 16, the mother of a nine-month-old girl listens
"I want to have more children, but not now. I want
to wait until my child has grown up a bit and I'm sure she is healthy,"
Tradition vs health
Here, maternity and tradition are issues that burn as hot
as the sun beating down on the sandy soil and dry thorn bushes outside, issues
that sideline women and can endanger their lives and those of their children.
More than four in 10 women in northeast Kenya are married
before their 18th birthday, their youth leading to increased problems in
pregnancy, labour and birth.
Making the situation worse is that most deliveries are
home births, unsanitary and without qualified midwives.
On top of that, the average woman has eight children, a
large brood -- like a herd of livestock -- seen as a symbol of wealth in Somali
"When an adolescent girl becomes pregnant or there
is not enough space between pregnancies, the risk of complications is
high," says Sulekha Mohamed of Save the Children, adding that 98 percent
of women in northeast Kenya are circumcised, heaping further risk on giving
"If you are pregnant four months after giving birth,
your body has not had time to recover," she says.
Religion to the rescue
A 2014 demographic study showed perinatal deaths in
Kenya's northeast were more than 50 percent higher than the national average.
Since then religious leaders have been co-opted into battling the statistics.
"Historically, in our culture, men take many wives
and women have many children, so family
planning is seen as a foreign idea, a colonial Western idea to limit the
population," says Mursal Abdiwahab, the khadi of Wajir in charge of the
Muslim family court, who ruled that contraception is halal.
"Our role as religious leaders and learned people is
to explain what Islam allows or not."
The message seems to be getting through. In the first
three months of this year, 3,177 women joined the family planning programme, a
major increase from the 1,382 participants in the same period the year before.
Safiya, a 28-year-old mother of four, says she wants
"more children, because that is what my religion dictates," but after
learning that contraception is permitted in Islam she is now spacing out her
"Before, I was very sick, very bad in the first
months of pregnancy, but this is no longer the case."
Back at the maternity clinic, Fatuma, 25, lies on a bed.
After several weeks of reflection, and with her husband's blessing, she readies
herself for the insertion of a contraceptive device.
"Since my religion accepts family planning, I'll use
it for the good of my health," she says, and with that the nurse slides a
blue curtain in front of the bed.
She turns to the male journalist with a benevolent smile
saying, "This, it stays among the women."
14 November 2016
BAWIZA, Iraq: Daesh is using wooden replicas of tanks and
Humvees in a bid to subvert an air campaign by the US-led military coalition
supporting Iraqi forces in the Mosul operations, even using bearded mannequins
to simulate jihadist fighters.
The Iraqi army captured a handful of the mockups last
week at a training site it retook from the group north of Mosul, the last major
stronghold of Daesh (Islamic State) in the country, which government forces
have almost surrounded but only breached so far from one direction.
When seen close up, the models resemble toys but from a
long distance they might be mistaken for real vehicles.
“As our troops advanced toward the areas we were charged
with liberating, Daesh used tanks and vehicles made of wood to divert the
military planes,” Lt. Col. Abbas Al-Azaji said on Sunday.
It is not clear how effective the mockups have been at
thwarting aerial bombardment, which has been essential to the Iraqi forces’
ground campaign to roll back Daesh from large swathes of territory it seized in
Baghdad-based spokesman US Air Force Col. John Dorrian
said the coalition had been tracking Daesh’s use of such decoy vehicles for a
“We call it tactical deception. Daesh has been doing it
and that’s certainly a tactic that enemies like to use,” he said.
“It is actually not as troubling as a lot of the other
things we’ve seen,” he said, like setting fire to a sulfur plant and igniting
oil wells south of Mosul.
Also found at the training site were two large armored
vehicles the militants had used for assaulting enemy positions, and the blown
out remains of more than a dozen vehicle-borne explosive devices which Iraqi
forces had disabled.
Dozens killed in weekend of fresh violence in Myanmar's
YANGON - Myanmar's Rakhine state was hit by fresh waves
of violence over the weekend with more than 30 insurgents killed over two-days
of fighting, the military said, as fears soar for the strife-torn region.
Northern Rakhine, which is home to the Muslim Rohingya
minority and borders Bangladesh, has been under military lockdown ever since
surprise raids on border posts left nine police dead last month.
Soldiers have killed scores and arrested many more in
their hunt for the attackers, who the government says are radicalised Rohingya
militants with links to overseas Islamists. The crisis and reports of grave
rights abuses being carried out in tandem with the security crackdown have
piled international pressure on Myanmar's new civilian government and raised
questions about its ability to control the military.
Days of apparent calm were shattered on Saturday when the
army said six attackers and two soldiers were killed during a series of
coordinated ambushes that were only beaten back with the help of helicopter
gunships. The toll then jumped on Sunday following further clashes.
In a statement Myanmar's military said 22 attackers armed
with swords were killed near Dar Gyi Zar village on Sunday morning after they
charged at soldiers. Six other insurgents were killed during clashes elsewhere
in the state on Sunday, the statement added. Authorities have heavily
restricted access to the area, making it difficult to independently verify
government reports or accusations of army abuse. On Saturday evening, Rohingya
activists uploaded a graphic video showing the corpses of eight people dressed
in civilian clothes, including a small baby. The video's shooter, speaking in
Rohingya, said the victims died that day near Dar Gyi Zar village, with some
showing bullet wounds.
It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the
footage. The resurgence of violence in western Rakhine has deepened and
complicated a crisis that already posed a critical challenge to the new
administration led by democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
The state has sizzled with religious tension ever since
waves of violence between the majority Buddhist population and the Muslim
Rohingya left more than 200 dead in 2012. More than 100,000 people, mostly
Rohingya, were pushed into displacement camps by the bloodshed and have
languished there ever since.
Rights groups say they face apartheid-like restrictions
on movement and have repeatedly called on Suu Kyi to carve out a solution. But
Buddhist nationalists at home viciously oppose any move to grant them
citizenship, claiming the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh
despite their long roots in the country.
The latest surge in fighting came as new satellite images
released by Human Rights Watch on Sunday showed what the group said was
evidence of mass arson attacks against Rohingya villages. Their analysis showed
more than 400 buildings torched in three Rohingya villages where the fighting
has been taking place.
The group said active fires and burn scars showed that
most of the destruction was caused by arson. The latest images were taken on 10
November. Brad Adams, the group's Asia director, said the new photos showed
"widespread destruction" that was "greater than we first
"Burmese authorities should promptly establish a
UN-assisted investigation as a first step toward ensuring justice and security
for the victims," he said in a statement. The military and government have
rejected allegations that troops have burned Rohingya villages, accusing
insurgents of lighting the fires.
Nov 14 2016
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF)
foiled a plot by the Taliban group to target the Friday prayers with a car bomb
in Ghazni city in Southeast of Afghanistan.
The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security
(NDS), said the Taliban commander Mullah Agha was looking to detonate the
Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in Mustafa mosque in Ghazni
NDS further added that the VBIED was confiscated before
the militants manage to use for the attack and was defused and destroyed by the
Full report at:
A deadly car bombing plot by the anti-government armed
militant groups was foiled by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces
(ANDSF) in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.
According to the local government officials, a
Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) was confiscated from the
vicinity of Lashkargah city, the provincial capital of Helmand.
The officials further added that the militants had
planted around 150 kg of explosives in the vehicle.
According to the officials, the VBIED was discovered and
seized in the 2nd police district of the city.
By GHANIZADA - Mon Nov 14 2016
The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF)
arrested one of the attackers of German consulate who was at large, the
security officials said Sunday.
The officials further added that the arrested suspect was
among the three suicide bombers who had launched a coordinated attack on German
consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif city, the provincial capital of Balkh province.
A photograph of the attacker was released by the security
forces but no further details have been given regarding the would-be suicide
Shortly before midnight on 10 November, a vehicle laden
with heavy explosives detonated in the vicinity of the German Consulate in
Mazar, killing four civilians and injuring 128, including 19 women and 38
Those who attempt change in Personal will burn their
hands – Muslim Shabban’s conference
Hyeraad: Even if changes take place in every religion of
the world, Muslim Personal Law cannot be changed till Doom’s Day since they are
based on Quran and Hadith. Any attempt to change Muslim Personal Law will be in
vain. Those who attempt this will burn their hands. These thoughts were
expressed by Mr. Mohammed Mahmood Ali, Dy. CM of Telangana State while
addressing Protection of Shariat Conference organized by Muslim Shabban of
Hyderabad at Exhibition Ground yesterday. The confecence was held under the
chairmanship of Mr. Mushtaq Malik, President of Muslim Shabban.
Mr. Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Opposition Leader of Congress
in Telangana Legislative Council, Mr. Naveed Ahmed, President, Muslim
Majlis-e-Mushawarath, Dr. Nazar Abbas, former President of AMU Students’ Union,
Mr. Danish Ali, General Secretary, Janata Dal (S), Mr. Syed Aziz Pasha, former
CPI MP of Rajya Sabha, Mufti Sadiq Mohiudding, Maulana Hamid Mohammed Khan, Mr.
B. Narayan Rao, Dalit leader of Karnataka and others attended the conference.
Maulana Syed Tariq Qadri presented a resolution for the
cancellation of Article 44 of Constitution of India which was unanimously
approved by the audience.
Mr. Mahmood Ali told that Mr. KCR has already clarified
the stand taken by Govt. of Telangana and said that instead of eradication of
poverty, Central Govt. has raised the issue of Uniform Civil Code which divides
society. He made a reference to his meeting with Mr. Rajnath Singh in which he
was advised to refrain from interference in Muslim Personal Law. He further
said that Islam has given special status to women. The issue of Triple Talaq is
meant eradicate evils. Mr. Mohammed Ali Shabbir slammed TRS Govt. that it is
dancing to the tunes of RSS. Mr. Mushtaq Malik appealed to the Muslims to get
unifted to oppose Uniform Civil Code. Mr. Syed Aziz Pasha told that after the
defeat of Delhi and Bihar, Modi took the shelter of Uniform Civil Code. He
further told that all the efforts to impose Uniform Civil Code will be foiled
Tirunelveli (TN): A ‘Shariat protection conference’ held
at a nearby town today decided to fully co-operate with All India Muslim
Personal Law Board to ‘safeguard’ the Shariat act.
Various resolutions were passed, one among which said the
constitutionally approved Shariat act for Muslims in matters like marriage,
divorce, property rights and Wakf Board administration will be strictly
followed and ‘safeguarded’.
Another said it would oppose the Uniform Civil Code at
all costs, a press release from the Shariat Protection conference, held at
nearby Palyamkottai, said.
November 12, 2016
Hyderabad: Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra
Pradesh who made lofty claims of having sympathy with minorities have
disappointed Minorities on Friday on the occasion of Minority Welfare Day,
which marks the birth anniversary of first education Minister Maulana Abul
It was customary that the chief ministers attended the
function in united Andhra but sadly after the bifurcation of the state both the
chief minister kept themselves at bay from the celebrations. Interestingly both
the chief ministers vie with each other to boast about minority welfare and
development, but their absence in the Minority Welfare Day celebrations
disappointed Muslims. Both the Chief Ministers remained absent in the function.
November 13, 2016
New Delhi :The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement
has virtually become redundant with a whopping 286 incidents of firing and
shelling along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops that
resulted in death of 26 people, including 14 security personnel, since the
surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in PoK.
There have been 186 ceasefire violations by Pakistani
troops along the over 190 km International Border (IB) in Jammu frontier, while
104 violations of the agreement took place along the over 500 km Line of
Control (LoC). “There has been 182 ceasefire violation by Pak Rangers along IB
targeting civilian areas and BoPs in Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts since
the surgical strike on the intervening night September 28 and 29,” a senior BSF
officer said on Sunday.
They also resorted to firing of 120 mortar bombs and from
automatic weapons very heavily in which civilians and security personnel were
killed and a large number of people including women and children suffered
injuries, he said, adding that a large number of cattle perished in the
shelling and huge damage was caused to houses.
A large population was forced out of their homes,
harvesting of paddy crops halted and marriage season was badly affected in the
border areas due to heavy shelling and firing. The officer said there have been
85 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu region falling under
16 Corps area and 19 ceasefire violations have been recorded along the LoC in
Kashmir region falling under 15 Corps area.
India and Pakistan entered into no-firing agreement along
Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2003. On November 25, 2003, the
Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan agreed to
observe a ceasefire along the International Border, Line of Control and Actual
Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir.
The worst-ever Pakistani shelling targeting civil
population took place on November 1 when eight persons, including two children
and four women, were killed and 22 others injured along the IB and the LoC in
five sectors of J&K, forcing Indian troops to give befitting reply by
destroying 14 Pakistani posts and killing two of their troopers.
A total of 26 people, including 12 civilians, were killed
and more than 85 suffered injuries in Pakistani shelling and firing along IB
and LoC in Jammu. The state government had closed over 400 schools along the
border in Jammu region in the wake of the ongoing heavy cross-border firing.
New Delhi: Creating “Muslim as the enemy” to mobilize the
Hindus and manufacture a conflict between the two, is the primary aim of the
RSS-BJP government in the country, a meet organized by people’s movement
‘Satyagarh Abhiyan’ here on Saturday.
It demanded a SC monitored probe into the October 31
Bhopal encounter in which one police constable and eight other under-trials
The meet was attended by Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh
Mewani and Shamshad Pathan, and expressed concern over politics of “fake
encounter” in India.
“The politics of fake encounter propelled the prime
ministership of Narendra Modi. We all know how Sadiq Jamal, Ishrat Jahan,
Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati were eliminated by police after terming
them as Lashkar affiliates. This politics of fake encounter is now being
replicated by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan,” Pathan
said, adding that he may throw his hat in the ring for the position of prime
minister soon ahead of the next general elections.
The Satyagrah Abhiyan has stepped up effort for
mobilization of people from November 13 at Jantar Mantar to spearhead the cause
for justice for nine people, including the police constable killed in Madhya
Pradesh. The police claim that alleged ‘SIMI activists’ had killed the
constable, before escaping from jail.
Calling for a wider pan-India Dalit-Muslim OBC alliance,
Jignesh Mewani said, that these communities need to come on one platform to
fight the RSS led forces in the country.
Punching hole in the Gujarat model of development,
Jignesh Mewani pointed out that Modi created fake aura of the Gujarat model by
hosting vibrant Gujarat summits, while actual investments never came.
“The CAG kept on exposing scams after scams in the state.
Modi was rattled by economic challenges and thus resorted to the politics of
encounter killings to save his face. The Patidar and Dalit movements are
shining example of failure of Gujarat model.
Political activist Comrade Ameeque Jamei termed the
Bhopal encounter as an attack on the Constitution of India, in which eight
under-trials allegedly affiliated with alleged SIMI activist were killed in
cold blood while a constable was murdered. He demanded a Supreme Court
monitored probe into the incident.
“There is no rule of Constitution in Madhya Pradesh,
where police cannot register a case against RSS cadres, who are involved in
criminal incidents,” he said.
Jamia Nagar based Congress Political activist Parwez Alam
Khan said that BJP-RSS government is playing the politics of perception, and
attempting to create a conflict between both the communities.
As battle in Mosul unfolds, ISIS looks to Pakistan for
13 November 2016
ISIS is increasing its presence in Pakistan, recruiting
Uzbek militants, attracting disgruntled Taliban fighters and partnering with
one of Pakistan’s most violent sectarian groups, according to police officers,
Taliban officials and analysts.
Its latest atrocity was an attack Saturday on a Sufi
shrine in southwestern Pakistan that killed at least 50 people and wounded 100
others. The group said in a statement that a suicide bomber attacked the shrine
with the intent of killing Shiite Muslims and issued a picture of the attacker.
When ISIS circulated a photograph of one of the attackers
in last month’s deadly assault on a police academy in southwestern Baluchistan
province, two Taliban officials told The Associated Press that the attacker was
an Uzbek, most likely a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
Islamic State's Pakistan attack highlights changing
Nov 13, 2016
By Asad Hashim and Gul Yousafzai
The second deadly attack in Pakistan claimed by Islamic
State's leadership in a month shows a swift rise of the movement by partnering
with local sectarian groups, analysts say, even as an official on Sunday denied
IS has a Pakistan presence.
Islamic State's Arabic-language news service in the
Middle East claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Muslim shrine on
Saturday, which killed 52 people and wounded scores more in the southwestern
Pakistani province of Baluchistan.
The blast at Shah Noorani shrine, in a remote area about
100 km (62 miles) north of the port city of Karachi, happened while hundreds of
people were inside. It followed an attack on a police academy on Oct 24 in the
same province that was jointly claimed by IS and a Pakistani sectarian faction,
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami.
The Al Alami faction did not claim direct involvement in
the latest attack, but a spokesman repeated that the group cooperates with IS's
leadership and other jihadist movements.
"Right now, in Pakistan, and especially in the
cities, wherever there are attacks taking place, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami is
cooperating with them either directly or indirectly," spokesman Ali bin
Sufyan told Reuters via instant messaging.
The use of local proxies among established militants has
been a singular aspect of Islamic State's entry into Pakistan.
In neighboring Afghanistan, by contrast, members of the
Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have switched allegiances and rebranded themselves
as IS fighters.
In Pakistan, however, Islamic State appears happy to let
their local allies operate under their own identities in exchange for allowing
IS to claim responsibility for high-profile attacks.
"IS may not have a formal structure in Pakistan, but
certainly they have support among some of the banned militant groups,
particularly Sunni sectarian groups" like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami
(LeJ-AA), said Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani security analyst.
"It's a kind of nexus that we are seeing between global
jihadi groups and local sectarian groups."
Pakistani officials, however, continue to deny Islamic
State has developed any meaningful operations in the country, which is home to
a host of other Islamist militants including the Taliban, LeJ, Lashkar-e-Taiba
and al Qaeda.
"There is no presence of (Islamic State) in
Baluchistan. The claim IS made is false," Baluchistan Home Minister
Sarfaraz Bugti told Reuters on Sunday.
Bugti said that recent attacks claimed by IS were carried
out by Lashkar-e-Jangvi Al Alami, but the group gave information to IS on the
attackers in order to harm Pakistan's reputation.
"Claims through IS are a conspiracy to isolate
Pakistan in the international community," he said.
He added that he believes the LeJ Al Alami faction was
acting on orders of Pakistan's arch-foe and neighbor, India, though he did not
explain how India would facilitate contact with Islamic State. Pakistan
officials often say India is connected to militant attacks in Baluchistan.
The Baluchistan attacks came mere months after Pakistan's
chief military spokesman told a press briefing that Islamic State's plans to
expand into the country had been thwarted.
Analyst Hussain, however, said there are now clear signs
that Pakistani militants are in direct contact with Islamic State's central
leadership and with the movement's hundreds of loyalist fighters in eastern
KARACHI: Desperate people ran helter-skelter with printed
photographs or digital pictures of their loved ones as they tried to gather
information about them at the Civil Hospital Karachi throughout the night
following Saturday evening’s suicide attack at the Shah Noorani shrine in
Khuzdar. All the injured and dead were being brought to Karachi via road while
their relatives here braced themselves for the worst.
The major hospitals of Karachi, including Civil, Jinnah
Postgraduate Medical Centre and Abbasi Shaheed, had declared an emergency as
they remained ready to receive the casualties. The number of dead rose to 54
with over 103 wounded. Most of them arrived at the Civil Hospital. Dr Abdul Qadir,
additional medical superintendent general and coordinator for the SMBB Trauma
Centre and Civil Hospital, said they had by Sunday afternoon discharged some 17
patients while 28 were still under treatment at the hospital.
“Six of them were operated upon and are recuperating now;
one is on a ventilator in the ICU,” he said, adding that soon after the attack
they had appealed for O Negative, B Negative and A Negative blood types, and
their appeals were answered promptly. About the type of injuries, he said that
were orthopaedic mostly with some head and abdominal injuries due to
penetration of the pellets and bearing balls.
Dr Qadir also said that his hospital received 34 bodies,
three of which had not yet been identified.
It was a long and painful journey back during which many
of the injured died.
Sameer Ahmed, a resident of Memon Goth here, said he was
at the shrine with his cousin Ahsan. “We were watching the dhamal at the mela
when there was this loud explosion and everything shook making me lose my balance,
too. I think I was thrown a few feet away from the pressure of the blast,” he
recalled. “I called my cousin’s name many times but he didn’t answer. I felt I
couldn’t move much. I dragged myself trying to find him. I couldn’t,” Sameer,
now being treated for his wounds at the SMBB Trauma Centre, Civil Hospital,
shared with Dawn on Sunday.
“We learnt about the attack from television,” said
Sameer’s maternal uncle, Allah Bachaya. “Sameer’s is the son of one of my
sisters and Ahsan the son of another, who lives in Khokhrapar. I joined both my
sisters after watching the news. We were going out of our minds trying to reach
the boys but it was no use because there is an issue with mobile phone signals
where they were. We came to the Civil Hospital because it was being said that
the injured were being brought here. It was many hours before they could reach
here though. And then we only found Sameer,” the uncle said. “Ahsan was
identified later, among the dead,” he added quietly.
“Our family members have always travelled to the shrine
because we feel our prayers there are always answered. I ask the Almighty now,
what did we do wrong this time,” he said.
There were a couple of little children, too, in the ward.
“Their injuries aren’t life-threatening but their parents are not doing so
well,” said Dr Abdul Qadir. “We thought it better to keep children close to
The children’s father, Mohammad Rashid Sabri, a qawwal,
said he was at the shrine with his wife and three children, two of whom,
eight-year-old Malaika and four-year-old Afzal, were with him in the ward. “My
wife, Afroze, and two-year-old son Akbar are somewhere on the upper floors of
this hospital. I am told my wife got bearing balls in her head and needs to be
operated for that. My youngest is also somewhere with her,” he said with his
brother Qazi Abid Ali watching him as he stood next to his bed.
November 13, 2016
KARACHI, Pakistan –
In Karachi's largest mortuary, the body of an infant not more than nine
months old sits waiting to be claimed.
He was the youngest victim of a suicide attack at a
shrine in southwest Pakistan Saturday that killed 52 people. Mortuary worker
Latafatullah Hassan said he fears the infant's parents were also among the
The mortuary is cold. The child's body is uncovered. He
looks as if he could be sleeping, with no visible wounds from the suicide
bombing of a crowded Sufi shrine in the midst of a crowded religious
The Islamic State group's local affiliate, calling itself
the Khorasan Province, claimed responsibility — saying that a suicide bomber
had attacked "Shiites" at the Shah Noorani shrine in the remote
Khuzdar district of Baluchistan province. The bomber struck amid diverse crowds
full of women and children during the traditional Sufi dhammal dance. The
shrine is frequented by both Pakistan's majority Sunni and minority Shiite
Gulam Rasool arrived frantically at the mortuary, waving
the identity card of his cousin — an elderly looking man with a long white
beard. "I've been everywhere, to every hospital but I can't find him. They
told me to come here."
An ambulance with a body inside screamed to the gate.
Rasool shoved past people to reach the vehicle. But it wasn't his cousin.
Inside the ambulance was the corpse of 16-year-old Bilal,
accompanied by his father, Sabir. The older man's brown shalwar kameez was soaked
with sweat and tears covered his cheeks. Sabir, who didn't give his family
name, said his only son had been on his first-ever visit to the shrine with a
group of friends. Now he was bringing his body to be washed and wrapped in a
white shroud in keeping with Islamic burial custom.
Senior police official Azad Khan said the area around the
shrine is a known hotbed for sectarian militants. It is the home turf of
Shafique Mengal, who was once a leader in the virulently anti-Shiite Muslim
group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Two years ago Mengal declared allegiance to the
Islamic State group.
Khan said that Mengal and his followers have found safe
havens across the border in Afghanistan. He also said that both local and
foreign militants, including Uzbek nationals, have begun carrying out attacks
on behalf of IS.
In Karachi, paramilitary rangers and police have raided
dozens of madrassas, or Islamic religious schools, in recent days in search of
militants aligned with militant sectarian groups. Meanwhile the frequent Sunni
militant attacks on Shiites, who make up about 25 percent of Pakistan's 180
million people, have resulted in retaliatory attacks on Sunnis from a Shiite
militant group known as the TNFJ.
The Sindh chief minister said on Sunday that terrorists
were enemies of Pakistan and Islam, and their attacks on Muslims were evidence
of their nefarious designs.
Murad Ali Shah was talking to reporters at the Civil
Hospital Karachi’s trauma centre where he went to inquire the health of the
people injured in the bomb blast at Shah Noorani shrine on Saturday night.
He said shrines, mosques and such other such places were
soft targets and that was why terrorists targeted them.
Conceding the fact that the Sindh government lacked the
ample resources to deal with such incidents and disasters, he said steps were
being taken to improve the capacity.
The chief minister said he would appoint 6,000 doctors to
meet the shortage at the CHK trauma centre and the hospitals in the rural areas
of the province.
The Sindh CM said he had ordered the purchase of a new
helicopter for disaster management, but the Supreme Court had stayed the move.
‘Newsleak issue can’t be swept under the carpet’
LAHORE: Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Senator Sirajul Haq
says the government has not taken the news leak issue seriously and warns that
the matter cannot be swept under the carpet.
In a press release issued on Sunday, he said the interior
minister’s explanation had given the impression as if it was an insignificant
matter that was being raised unnecessarily. He said had the government been
sincere in this respect, it would have taken the parliament and the opposition
into confidence and set up an independent inquiry commission. He said the
institution of a controversial commission had further aggravated the situation.
Mr Haq said that after allegations of corruption, the
prime minister should have stepped down till his position was cleared but he
was trying to save himself, adding to the doubts.
Meanwhile, JI secretary general Liaqat Baloch condemned
the terrorist attack at the shrine of Shah Noorani in Balochistan and termed it
an attempt to plunge the county into a sectarian strife.
NISAR AHMAD KHAN
MANSEHRA: Police have arrested a professor of Hazara
University for defrauding his colleagues in the name of allotment of plots at a
Police said that Prof Fazal Akbar with the help of his
accomplice Prof Khan Afsar deprived employees of Hazara University of Rs280
“We arrested the suspect, who fraudulently received money
from professors and teaching staff of Hazara University to allot them plots in
a colony, which did not exist.
He had disappeared at time of allotments of plots earlier
this year,” DSP Zulfiqar Khan Jadoon told journalists here on Sunday.
Prof Arshad Siddique has lodged FIR against the suspects.
He told police that Prof Fazal Akbar, a resident of
Mardan, and his accomplice Prof Khan Afsar received the amount from scores of
their colleagues for establishment of a professors’ colony at bypass road in Mansehra
but both disappeared after receiving the money.
Prof Siddique said that he along with other colleagues
made several attempts for recovery of their money but could not succeed.
He said that that they were told by land revenue
department that nobody had acquired land for establishment of such colony in
Police raided the residences of both the suspects and
arrested Prof Fazal Akabr while Prof Khan Afsar managed to flee.
PESHAWAR: The Qaumi Watan Party Chairman, Aftab Ahmed
Khan Sherpao, has called for brotherly relations with neighbouring Afghanistan,
adding that both the countries had religious, social and cultural affinities
that could not be ignored.
While addressing a large gathering of party workers at a
joining ceremony in Takhtbhai, Mardan, the chairman emphasised that brotherly
relations with Afghanistan would ensure peace and stability in the entire
region with enduring and sustainable prospects for development.
Aftab Sherpao clarified that certain enemies of Pakistan
were trying to sabotage the relations between both the countries and that the
federal government should take measures for ensuring the peaceful and dignified
return of the Afghan refugees to their country.
"We have served our Afghan brothers for decades and
now we are at the risk of turning decades of hospitality into enmity. We cannot
allow the foes of Pakistan to succeed in their nefarious designs by isolating
Pakistan in the region." he added
Aftab Sherpao also criticised the federal government for
its indifference towards the rights and needs of the smaller federating units
adding that such an attitude was promoting consternation among the people of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The chairman clarified that in order to ensure a strong and
stable federation; the federal government should provide put an end to the
exploitation of resources in the smaller provinces.
KARACHI - Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) leader Allama
Raja Nasir Abbas has said the government has failed to take action against
terrorists in the country and the war against terrorism is suffering due to
government’s “compromising approach”.
Speaking at a condolence reference for the victims of a
terrorist attack on the shrine of Hazrat Shah Noorani on Sunday, Allama Abbas
said that terrorists had once again proved their brutal mindset by murdering
peaceful and innocent people. He said that people who considered everyone a
heathen except themselves were behind the attack on the shrine of Hazrat Shah
He said the MWM condemned this barbarism and announced
three-day mourning. He said that saints and their devotees had always spread
the message of love, peace and tolerance. “We will not let this message of
peace and tolerance die. Blood of the people who were martyred at the shrine of
Hazrat Shah Noorani will not go waste; it will ultimately lead to elimination
of the terrorist ideology from the country,” he added.
He said that same people were responsible for the killing
of innocent people in Sindh, Balochistan and Karachi. He said the plague of
terrorism would not end unless abettors and political patrons of terrorists are
not identified and taken to task.
Somalia: Allied Forces Retake Town From Al Shabaab
13 NOVEMBER 2016
South West state forces backed by AMISOM soldiers wrested
control of a small town in Bakool region from the Al Qaeda-linked Al shabaab
fighters on Sunday, residents said.
The forces recaptured El Garas village, near Tiyeglow
town in Bakool region, without encountering a resistance from the militants who
are reportedly fled the area upon the advance of the allied troops.
The militant group Al shabaab has regained El Garas and
other key towns in the region, including Tiyeglow district in Bakool region
from Somali troops, after Ethiopian troops surprise withdrawal.
Somali federal government said it will liberate all towns
retaken by Al shabaab in recent weeks, after Ethiopian troops who are not
serving with AMISOM began pulling out key areas in south of the country.
Al Shabaab has intensified its attacks in Somalia in the
past few months, as the nation is holding crucial parliamentary and
presidential election which kick started across the country early this month.
Nov 12, 2016
A large group of militants belonging to the Boko Haram
Takfiri terrorist group along with their families have surrendered themselves
to the army troops in Chad since September.
“They surrendered to our troops on the front line in Lake
Chad,” said Colonel Mohammad Dole, the Chief Military Public Information
Officer for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headquartered in Chad's
capital N'Djamena, on Saturday.
Dole further said all these militants, some 240, mostly Chadian
nationals, had been held in two detention centers along with their families in
the remote town of Baga Solo.
"The surrenders are taking place because of the
firepower of our operations. The groups, many of them armed, have been arriving
since September and their number keeps increasing," he added.
The MNJTF is a joint force consisting of troops from
Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin, tasked with ending the Boko Haram
militancy in the Lake Chad region. It launched a regional operation in July against
the group, which has pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
14 November 2016
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania - Muslim leaders in deeply
conservative Mauritania have demanded the government carries out the execution
of a blogger originally sentenced to death for apostasy, his lawyer said on
Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir was initially sentenced
to death for apostasy in 2014, although the crime was downgraded to being an
"infidel", without the death sentence being lifted.
Mkheitir has been in custody since January 2, 2014 over
an article he wrote, allegedly challenging decisions taken by Islam's prophet
Mohammad and his companions during holy wars in the seventh century.
Defence lawyer Fatimata Mbaye told AFP on Sunday that the
supreme court would re-examine the case on Tuesday as Mkheitir, a Muslim in his
30s who has also been named as Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, has repented.
But in a statement published on Sunday, the Forum of
ulemas and imams for the defence of the prophet of Islam, called for the
sentence to be upheld.
"With regard to the existing scriptures, we give our
fatwa (religious opinion) that Ould Mkheitir should be killed for infidelity
and apostasy, without accepting his repentance," the body of Islamic
leaders created in 2014 said.
Mbaye told AFP the supreme court could pardon Mkheitir but
must first "determine the sincerity of his repentance".
A criminal court in Nouadhibou in the north of the west
African country -- an Islamic Republic that adheres to a strict interpretation
of shariah, Islamic law -- had sentenced Mkheitir to death in December last
The verdict was met with shouts of acclaim from the
court's public gallery, while on the streets there were jubilant scenes as cars
sounded their horns.
An appeal court in the same town downgraded the charge in
April but maintained the death sentence.
By FELICIA SCHWARTZ
Nov. 13, 2016
WASHINGTON—Senegalese President Macky Sall said on a
visit to the U.S. that he does not believe President-elect Donald Trump will
follow through on some of his most controversial campaign pledges, including a
ban on Muslim immigrants, that raised alarm bells for world leaders.
“I do believe that what he said as a candidate will be
very different than what he will do as president because president is
president,” Mr. Sall said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Sall, elected in 2012, heads a Muslim-majority
African country that is a key contributor to counterterror operations and a
signatory to the landmark Paris climate agreement that caps emissions and aims
to curb the global rise in temperatures.
One of the first foreign leaders to visit the U.S. in the
aftermath of the election, Mr. Sall did not meet either Mr. Trump or President
Barack Obama, but was attending meetings at the International Monetary Fund and
the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Mr. Trump had called on the campaign trail last year for
a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. He later shifted on that proposal,
saying he would pause immigration from countries affected by terrorism. He has
also pledged to pull the U.S. out of last year’s international agreement
reached in Paris that commits more than 190 countries to curtailing greenhouse
Mr. Sall said he and other leaders have no idea what the
president-elect actually will do.
“We want to continue our cooperation with the United
States and I think the U.S. needs not just Senegal but all of Africa,” he said.
“I’m sure that President Trump will see the reality of the relationship between
the U.S. and the rest of the world.”
The West African leader, who hosted a visit from Mr.
Obama in 2013, struck a hopeful tone about his country’s direction and its
ability to work with Mr. Trump. He will next week head to Morocco where climate
negotiators are discussing the next steps for the Paris agreement.
Mr. Sall dismissed concerns that the U.S. under Mr. Trump
might not follow through on its commitments on the agreement, which could
discourage Senegal and other “least developed countries” from abiding.
“America cannot go back after the Paris agreement because
it is for our common interests in the entire world,” Mr. Sall said. “If we
continue on this way, definitely we will lose our planet.”
Mr. Trump said almost nothing about Africa on the
campaign trail, and it remains to be seen what priorities, if any, he has for
The U.S. currently spends billions in Africa on aid and
investment and Mr. Trump’s predecessors both launched personal projects there.
Mr. Obama started the “Power Africa” project, which aims to double the number
of people who have electricity on the continent, and also has encouraged
businesses to invest there. President George W. Bush started the President’s
Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, which provided drugs for millions of HIV
Senegal, a tolerant and cosmopolitan West African
democracy, has been a long time supporter of the International Criminal Court.
South Africa last month dealt a blow to the court when it said it had begun
initiating steps to leave the tribunal.
Nine Minnesota men who have been convicted of plotting to
join the Islamic State group in Syria are scheduled to be sentenced this week,
capping a long court case that shined a light on terrorism recruitment. The men
are expected to receive various sentences during separate hearings on Monday,
Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are some key issues:
WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?
Prosecutors say that starting in the spring of 2014, a
group of friends in Minnesota’s large Somali community began inspiring and
recruiting each other to travel to Syria to join IS. Some succeeded in making
the trip, but others didn’t.
Nine men were prosecuted. Six of them pleaded guilty to
conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization,
which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The other three went to
trial, where they were also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder outside
the U.S., which carries a possible life sentence.
When the trial ended, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger called it
“one of the most important” trials in Minnesota in years because it put a
spotlight on ongoing terrorism recruitment in the state.
The FBI has said about a dozen people have left Minnesota
to join militant groups in Syria in recent years. Since 2007, more than 22 men
have joined al-Shabab in Somalia. The overall investigation into terror
recruitment is ongoing.
HOW LONG WILL THE MEN GO TO PRISON?
That’s up to the judge. Prosecutors are asking for
lengthy sentences, citing the violence of the Islamic State group and some of
the men’s persistent attempts to join. But defense attorneys are seeking
leniency, saying their clients were young men who felt alienated and caught
between two worlds.
Prosecutors are recommending the stiffest sentence — 40
years in prison and supervision for life — for Guled Ali Omar, who was once
considered a leader of the group. Omar’s attorney, Glenn Bruder, is asking for
15 years or less, saying Omar and his co-defendants were the “Three-Stooges of
international terrorism. Their efforts to abandon the United States were naive,
ill-considered and bumbling.”
Prosecutors are seeking 30 years in prison for Omar’s
co-defendants, and 15 years for four others who pleaded guilty. They are
recommending four-and-a-half years and three-and-a-half years for two men who
cooperated. Defense attorneys are seeking less time in each case.
FACTORS IN SENTENCING
In addition to standard presentence investigation
reports, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis will consider evaluations done on
some of the men to assess their risk for re-engaging in terroristic activities.
Clashes in Aleppo after Syrian army tells rebels to leave
ALEPPO: Syrian government forces clashed with rebels on
the outskirts of eastern Aleppo city on Sunday, a monitor said, after residents
received messages from the army giving opposition fighters 24 hours to leave.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based
monitor, reported clashes in the Karam al Turab neighbourhood and the village
of Al Aziza, just outside the city.
The fighting could be heard in much of the rebel-held
east, which is surrounded by government forces and has come under repeated
assault since the army announced an operation to recapture it in September.
The fighting came as residents in east Aleppo received
text messages warning rebels to leave within 24 hours.
“Gunmen in east Aleppo, you have 24 hours only to take
the decision to leave,” the message said.
“Those who want to save their lives must put down their
weapons and their safety will be guaranteed. After the end of this period, the
planned strategic offensive will begin,” it added.
Syria’s government and army have regularly sent rebels
and residents in eastern Aleppo text messages warning them to leave the
Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, the city has been
divided into a government-held west and rebel-held east since mid-2012.
In September, the army announced an operation to
recapture the east, unleashing a massive assault backed by Russian warplanes.
The initial phase of the assault killed hundreds of civilians
and destroyed infrastructure including hospitals.
But in recent weeks, Russia has declared a series of
brief truces, intended to encourage people to leave the east, although so far
few have done so.
Rebels, meanwhile, have sought to break through government
lines to end the siege on the east that began in July, so far without success.
They have fired barrages of rockets into western Aleppo,
killing dozens of civilians, including four people in the Halab al-Jadida
district on Sunday.
State news agency SANA said the dead included a child and
Seven people were killed in regime rocket fire into
Salhine district in east Aleppo, the Observatory said.
It said they died when a rocket hit the minibus they were
in, and that the toll could rise because of the number of seriously wounded.
Another person was killed in artillery fire on Sukari
district in the east.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria since
the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2016
MOSUL: Iraqi forces said on Sunday they had recaptured
the site of an ancient Assyrian city blown up by the militant Islamic State
group, as they battled the jihadists south of Mosul.
The troops pushed towards Nimrud last week as they
pressed an offensive begun on Oct 17 to recapture Iraq’s second city, which the
jihadists seized along with swathes of Iraq and Syria in mid-2014.
A Kurdish-Arab alliance is pursuing a twin offensive
against the other major city still under IS control, Raqa in Syria, and a
US-led coalition is backing both assaults with air strikes.
“The villages of Al-Nomaniyah and Al-Nimrud and the ruins
of Nimrud were recaptured,” Staff Brigadier General Saad Ibrahim of the 9th
Armoured Division said.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command had announced earlier in
the day that the entire Nimrud area was retaken, but later said that this was
incorrect. The village of Nimrud and the archaeological site have however been
recaptured, the JOC said.
Nimrud was the one of the great centres of the ancient
Middle East. Founded in the 13th century BC, it became the capital of the
Assyrian empire, whose rulers built vast palaces and monuments that have drawn
archaeologists for more than 150 years.
In April last year, IS posted a video on the internet of
its fighters smashing monuments before planting explosives around the site and blowing
At least 11 children were among 23 people killed Sunday
in northern Syria as pro-government forces kept up their campaign against
opposition areas in the country's north, while rebels shelled a government-held
district in Aleppo city.
At least eight more people were killed in a suspected
airstrike on a crossing point connecting Kurdish-held areas with rebel areas in
northern Aleppo province, the Kurdish security force said.
The violence Sunday comes a day after government troops
repelled a rebel offensive on western parts of Aleppo city launched in late
October. State news agency SANA said the shelling of a western Aleppo district
killed four people, including two women and a child.
Residents of eastern Aleppo said Sunday that for days
they have received text messages urging them to leave in the next 24 hours. It
was not possible to immediately verify the authenticity of the messages or who
sent them. Government aircraft had previously dropped fliers on the eastern
districts also urging residents to leave and make use of the Russian-declared
passageways to evacuate the besieged district.
Three residents said they received the messages Friday
and Sunday throughout the day, denouncing the opposition and threatening
residents with an attack.
As of Sunday evening, Syrian Civil Defense's Ibrahim
al-Haj said government artillery shelling in the al-Salheen neighborhood of
besieged eastern Aleppo killed a mother, her four children and her husband
traveling in a car. Other shelling killed a child, a woman and three men in two
different neighborhoods of the besieged territory, al-Haj said.
Following their advances in Southwestern Aleppo and
cleansing Zahiyeh al-Assad and Menyan quarters from militants, pro-government
forces expanded their rule over more lands in Southern Aleppo.
Army soldiers and popular forces, who captured the
village of Khirbet al-Zawari in Southern Aleppo, engaged in more clashes with
the militants and took control over lands stretching towards the strategic
hills near the village.
In the meantime, a large number of terrorists were killed
and tens of them fled the battlefield following an army offensive on militants'
positions near the newly-captured village of Kafr Hadad.
Sources in Northern Syria revealed on Sunday that
government troops were about to start a massive operation to hit Jeish
al-Fatah's positions in the Southern, Western and Southwestern parts of Aleppo.
"As the army's ultimatum to the terrorists deployed
in the Eastern parts of Aleppo city is nearing its end, pro-government troops
are readying to launch the next phase of their operation in the Western part of
the city," a field commander said.
"With the liberation of several strategic districts
in the West and Southwest, the army now has the upper hand in the battlefield
and intends to extend the security ring around the Western parts of the
city," he said.
Radio Freedom quoted sources close to the ISIL as saying
that Abu Abdullah was one of the Tajik militants who had fought for the
terrorist group in Mosul.
Other sources also said that another Tajik fighter named
Hamza Tajiki was among those killed in clashes with the Iraqi army in Mosul.
Tajik officials had earlier expressed deep concerns over
the large number of the country's citizens who have joined the ISIL terrorist
group in Syria.
They said that the Tajik youths' tendency towards
extremism is concerning.
In September, former Tajikistan Special Forces colonel
Gulmurod Halimov was appointed as the top ISIL battlefield commander in Iraq
after defecting last year and joining the terrorist group.
Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army, Air Force Inflict Heavy
Losses on Terrorists in Western Damascus
The terrorists sustained heavy losses in the Syrian
army's attacks and air raids by the country's warplanes.
The Syrian army also continued its advances in other key
provinces across Syria.
Syrian Army troops and Air Force started striking
terrorist groups' positions in Western Ghouta after militants continued to
attack government positions irrespective of the peace talks in the town of Khan
Syrian fighter jets launched combat sorties over
terrorists' positions in Khan al-Sheih, while the army soldiers, backed up by
the artillery fire and military helicopters, engaged in fierce clashes with
militants in Khan al-Sheih farms and advanced against them.
The artillery units of the army also opened fire at the
terrorists' centers, including a command base, in the farms East of Khan
Army soldiers also fended off terrorists' attack on their
positions along a road connecting the town of Deir al-Khabiyeh to the village
of Albuyizeh, killing or wounding ten of militants and capturing five.
Heisam Hasoun, a retired officer of the Syrian army, said
that Syrian soldiers' operation in Khan al-Sheih was aimed at separating
Quneitra from Southwestern Damascus. Separation of Damascus form Dara'a is also
another objective of the operation against al-Nusra Front in Khan al-Sheikh.
He further added that terrorists only have the two
options of "either facing a massive attack of the army or join the
reconciliation talks as the army is resolved to continue the battle in Khan
al-Sheih to the end.
Peace talks between the government and militants under
siege in the town of Khan al-Sheih in Southwestern Damascus are ending up in
failure after continued attacks by the terrorists on army positions, sources
privy to the talks said on Sunday.
The terrorist groups' heavy attacks to lift the army
siege in Khan al-Shieh are pushing the peace negotiations into failure while
talks for relocation or surrendering of the militants in return for amnesty
were in a last stage, according to the source.
The government offered the entrapped Nusra (Fatah al-Sham)
terrorists a deal to relocate to Idlib or surrender to the army in return for
amnesty after laying siege on the suburban Damascus town nearly two weeks ago.
Talks have been underway between the two sides all throughout the last 12.
"While a number of militants sought to escape the
region, the Nusra command center in expectation of reinforcements from comrades
in other parts of Western Ghouta in Khan al-Sheih ordered intensifying attack
on government troops to close escape paths and meantime win the upper hand in
the talks," according to the source.
The terrorists initially requested relocation to Dara'a,
but were forced to voice consent to a transition plan to Idlib in later stages
of the talks.
The source said the militants sustained "a heavy
death toll in their failed attacks as the town is still under the siege of the
"Following intensified attacks by the terrorists,
the Syrian air force and artillery units pounded their positions in Khan
al-Sheih in retaliation," he went on to say.
"Damascus is still insisting on ending clashes in
Khan al-Sheih just like similar peace agreements in other towns of Western
Ghouta, while the Nusra command center in Northern Syria that rejected hosting
its units from Khan al-Sheih has ordered its units in the town to continue the
fight as Khan al-Sheih is their last major stronghold in Western Ghouta,"
Khan al-Sheih is one of the most important bases of the
terrorists that connect Damascus, Quneitra and Dara'a provinces to each other.
"Army soldiers also took control over the villages
of Kafr Hadad and Khirbet al-Zawari in Southern Aleppo. This region is the
entrance to the Southern countryside of Aleppo city and the last stronghold of
the terrorists before al-Zerbeh, al-Eis and Khan Touman," he added.
"The Syrian army now has a number of choices for the
rest of its anti-terrorism operation. It can further expand its rule towards
Idlib province in order to lift the siege of the two towns of Fuaa and Kefraya
or restore security to the old Sham road to Aleppo up to ICARDA and North of
al-Zerbeh," the commander said.
"Another choice could be launching an operation
towards the town of Khan al-Asal, the village of al-Mansoureh and the
neighborhood of al-Rashedeen up to al-Zahra, Kafr Hamra, Abdrabeh and Yaqat
al-Adas in the Northern countryside of Aleppo."
BASHIQA, IRAQ : Iraqi soldiers fighting just north of
Mosul, within sight of city neighborhoods, said on Sunday they were ready to
tighten the noose around Islamic State militants waging a brutal defense of
their Iraqi stronghold.
Four weeks into the campaign to crush Islamic State in
Mosul, the city is almost surrounded but the jihadists' defenses have so far
been breached only to the east, where they have battled elite troops for
control of around a dozen districts.
The battle for Mosul, the biggest city held by the
ultra-hardline Sunni Islamist group in Iraq and Syria, is the largest military
operation in Iraq in a decade of turmoil unleashed by the 2003 U.S. invasion which
toppled Saddam Hussein.
Iraq's Shi'ite-led government, which has assembled a
100,000-strong coalition of troops, security forces, Kurdish peshmerga fighters
and mainly Shi'ite militias, backed by U.S. air power, says it will mark the
end of Islamic State in Iraq.
But it says the fight will be a long one.
An army special forces officer on the northern front line
said his men aimed to target Hadba, the first neighborhood ahead of them within
city limits. The district was visible from his position in the village of
Brigadier Ali Abdulla said Islamic State fighters had
been pushed out of Bawiza and another village, Saada, although progress had
been slowed by the presence of civilians he said were being used by the
militants as human shields.
"Our approach (to Hadba) will be very slow and
cautious so that we can reach the families and free them from Daesh's (Islamic
State's) grip," Abdulla said.
One man who escaped from Saada to Bawiza with his young
son and daughter said they had to move from house to house and hide among sheep
to avoid being caught by Islamic State fighters.
The timing of the decision to move on Hadba would depend
on progress on other fronts, Abdulla said. Security forces are advancing to the
south of Mosul, targeting the city's airport on the west bank of the Tigris
Abdulla said Islamic State was using suicide car bombs,
roadside bombs, snipers and long range mortars to try to hold back the army
advance in the north - all tactics it has used to lethal effect on the eastern
front as well.
Another officer, Captain Oqba Nafaa, said the militants
were still fighting in Saada, using a network of tunnels to carry out surprise
strikes on the attacking forces.
The urban warfare tactics were similar to those they have
deployed to lethal effect in the east of the city against elite Counter
Terrorism Service (CTS) forces and an armored division.
In some districts, control has changed hands three or
four times as the militants, using tunnels and exploiting the presence of
civilians as cover, have launched night-time attacks and reversed military
gains of the previous day.
One resident of al-Qadisiya al-Thaniya district, which
the CTS entered on Friday, said the special forces later pulled back and
Islamic State fighters returned.
"They came back to us again, and this is what we
feared. At night there were fierce clashes and we heard powerful
explosions," she told Reuters.
A military statement later said that CTS forces had
cleared all militants from two districts of eastern Mosul, Arbajiya and
Karkukli, and were still clearing three others.
TROOPS TAKE NIMRUD
About 30 km (20 miles) south of Mosul, troops recaptured
the 3,000-year-old Assyrian city of Nimrud which was overrun by Islamic State
militants two years ago, a military source said.
Nimrud, once the capital of an empire stretching across
the ancient Middle East, is one of several historic sites looted and ransacked
by the militants, who deem the country's pre-Islamic religious heritage
MOSUL - Iraqi forces said on Sunday they had recaptured
the site of an ancient Assyrian city blown up by the Islamic State group, as
they battled the jihadists south of Mosul.
The troops pushed towards Nimrud last week as they
pressed an offensive begun on October 17 to recapture Iraq's second city, which
the jihadists seized along with swathes of Iraq and Syria in mid-2014.
A Kurdish-Arab alliance is pursuing a twin offensive
against the other major city still under IS control, Raqa in Syria, and a
US-led coalition is backing both assaults with air strikes. "The villages
of Al-Nomaniyah and Al-Nimrud and the ruins of Nimrud were recaptured,"
Staff Brigadier General Saad Ibrahim of the 9th Armoured Division told AFP.
Iraq's Joint Operations Command had announced earlier in
the day that the entire Nimrud area was retaken, but later said that this was
incorrect. The village of Nimrud and the archaeological site have however been
recaptured, the JOC said.
In April last year, IS posted a video on the internet of
its fighters smashing monuments before planting explosives around the site and
blowing it up. It was part of a campaign of destruction against heritage sites
under jihadist control that also took in Hatra in the desert south of Mosul and
Palmyra in neighbouring Syria.
IS says the ancient monuments are idols that violate the
teachings of its extreme form of Sunni Islam, but it has still sold artefacts
to fund its operations. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization welcomed the news of Nimrud's recapture.
"We welcome the news that Nimrod, a UNESCO world
heritage site, is back under the control of the Iraqi government," said
spokesman George Papagiannis. "We look forward to coordinating with the
relevant authorities in Baghdad on providing support for any assessments that
need to be done of the site, once the area has been stabilised."
The Iraqi offensive has seen federal forces and Kurdish
peshmerga fighters advance on Mosul from the east, south and north. The elite
Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) force has pushed into the eastern outskirts of
Mosul, with heavy fighting in recent days.
CTS Staff Lieutenant Colonel Muntadhar Salem told AFP on
Sunday that its forces were looking to move into a new eastern neighbourhood.
"Our goal today is to clear out IS from the western part of
Karkukli," he said.
North of Karkukli in the neighbourhood of Arbajiyah, CTS
forces were facing sniper fire as they moved street-to-street clearing houses.
On the edge of Mosul, dozens of civilians could be seen
walking towards a gathering point from where they would be taken to a camp for
the displaced. A dozen men swarmed around a barber shop for a shave.
In neighbouring Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic
Forces (SDF) militia alliance has moved to about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from
Raqa since launching its offensive a week ago. Commanders have said the SDF is
close to completing a first phase of the operation to surround and isolate Raqa
before launching an assault on the city itself. The jihadists are putting up
fierce resistance in both Mosul and Raqa, and military commanders have warned
of long and difficult battles ahead.
Turkey has launched its own operation against IS just south of its
border in Syria, and a monitor said Sunday that Ankara-backed rebels had neared
the IS stronghold of Al-Bab.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold a
ministerial meeting Thursday to discuss Houthi militias’ targeting of the holy
city of Makkah with a ballistic missile last month.
The meeting of the foreign ministers of the OIC follows
an emergency meeting held by the executive committee last week discussed any
developments on the case, Al Arabiya.Net reported.
The OIC has condemned the failed attack on Makkah in
Saudi Arabia after Houthi militias sent a ballistic missile across the border,
shocking and angered both Saudis and Muslims worldwide late last month.
The previous meeting denounced the militias and those who
provide them with arms including rockets and missiles to target Makkah.
British 'sharia courts' under scrutiny
Maureen Cofflard - For more than 30 years, sharia courts
enforcing Islamic law have been operating quietly across Britain. But two
official inquiries have put them in the spotlight amid accusations that they
discriminate against women.
Very little is known about them, even their number, which
one study by the University of Reading puts at 30, while the British think tank
Civitas estimates there are 85. Sharia courts or councils, as they prefer to be
called, mainly pronounce on Islamic divorces, which today constitute 90 percent
of the cases they handle.
They range from groups of Muslim scholars attached to a
mosque, to informal organisations or even a single imam. But while they are
aimed at helping resolve family and sometimes commercial conflicts within the
Muslim community, some stand accused of undermining women's rights.
Campaigners cite instances where courts have refused to
grant religious divorces to women who are victims of domestic abuse, and accuse
them of legitimising violence, including marital rape.
The government and MPs on parliament's home affairs
committee both opened inquiries this year into whether the councils are
actually compatible with British law.
They are looking into the function and possible discriminatory practices
of the courts.
'Rise of the Islamist movement'
The first sharia court appeared in London in 1982 under
the government of Margaret Thatcher, who rolled back state intervention in many
areas, including mediation in family conflicts, which was delegated to faith
But religious courts have existed for hundreds of years
in Britain, whether in the Catholic Church or in the Jewish community -- the
Beth Din -- notes Amin Al-Astewani, lecturer in law at Lancaster University. As
with sharia councils, the decisions of those bodies are not legally binding,
but they represent a strong moral and social constraint for those who use them,
he wrote in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.
For Shaista Gohir, the chairwoman of Muslim Women's
Network UK who gave evidence to the parliamentary inquiry, sharia councils are
useful for Muslims but should be framed by a "strong code of
conduct". She also urged the government to make civil marriage obligatory
for couples marrying under Islamic law, to ensure women are legally protected,
saying that 40 percent of women who contact her organisation only had religious
But for other Muslim feminists, the courts constitute a
"parallel legal system" and should be banned altogether. An open
letter to this effect was signed by more than 200 national and international
women's organisations, while legislation which would limit the scope of sharia
councils has been put forward by a member of the House of Lords.
"They are discriminatory, they are abusive, they endorse
and legitimise violence," in particular marital rape, Maryam Namazie,
spokeswoman for the One Law for All campaign, told AFP. She added: "These
courts are linked to the rise of the Islamist movement. They are now saying
that to be a good Muslim you have to go to these courts to get a divorce. It's
not the case."
13 Nov, 2016
Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon estimates between
3,000 and 5,000 surviving Europeans among Islamic State’s dwindling ranks, but
admits that the continent's intelligence agencies can only watch and wait to
see how many of them return.
“Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] is under pressure
in Mosul and Raqqa. Belgian fighters are helping defend the strongholds, but we
must be aware that there are not only 200 of our countrymen there, but between
3,000 and 5,000 Europeans,” Jambon told state broadcaster RTBF on Sunday.
“All the intelligence agencies are trying to monitor the
situation and exchange information. If the wave comes, we must be ready.”
With its previously under-powered security services,
location in the heart of the EU, and a large contingent of Muslim immigrants
concentrated in neighborhoods like Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium is considered
a hotbed of European Islamism.
“117 Islamic State recruits have returned to Belgium.
About half are in prison, the others under surveillance. There are also several
dozen who made failed attempts to get to Syria, and we are observing them,”
said the center-right Flemish politician.
Last year’s Paris attacks, and the bombing of a train
station and an airport in Brussels in March, were both plotted in Belgium,
which the UN says has a higher number of Islamist militant recruits per capita
than any other European country.
Over 30,000 people have travelled to the Middle East to
help Islamic State and other Islamist militias over the past half-decade. With
its dream of building a supranational Islamic Caliphate, IS purposefully
cultivated an international appeal, attracting thousands of fighters from
Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Russia’s Islamic regions, and the immigrant communities
Suspects detained by Russian authorities were plotting simultaneous
"Paris-style" attacks on Moscow and Saint Petersburg, local media
reported on Sunday, the first anniversary of the massacre in the French
The FSB security service, the KGB's successor, announced
Saturday it had detained 10 citizens of Central Asian states who planned
"high-profile acts of sabotage and terror" in the two Russian cities.
Saint Petersburg's Fontanka.ru news site reported Sunday
that the seven people taken into custody in the city were suspected of planning
attacks on two large shopping centres, citing official sources.
Government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported late
Saturday, citing security service sources, that the detainees "were
planning terror attacks according to the Paris scenario" referring to ISIS
group attacks a year ago that killed 130 people.
France was holding sombre commemorations Sunday for the
victims of the November 13, 2015 assaults by gunmen and suicide bombers on
night spots, the Bataclan concert hall and outside the national stadium.
"Several explosive devices were supposed to trigger
simultaneously in busy places. At the same time in different parts of the
cities some of the terrorists... were going to open fire with machine guns on
crowds," the paper reported, referring to the Russian plot.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta called the attackers "a professional
The FSB said it confiscated four homemade bombs as well
as trigger devices, guns, ammunition and communications equipment.
Authorities did not say when the attack plot was to take
Tip led to arrests
The security service released video footage of its
black-clad officers in balaclavas holding two suspects facedown on the street.
Another video shows a stash of Kalashnikovs in a flat and
detainees lying facedown on mattresses on the floor.
The FSB said the raids were carried out in cooperation
with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan's law enforcement authorities.
WELLINGTON - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday
condemned an "abhorrent and cowardly" suicide bombing which killed
four Americans at a military base in Afghanistan. "Our mission in
Afghanistan will not be deterred by these individual acts, it's that
simple," he told reporters during a visit to New Zealand. "So the
sooner people realise there's a better way to resolve differences, the sooner
the world will be able to move more effectively in a better direction."
PARIS - France on Sunday marked the first anniversary of
the Paris attacks with sombre ceremonies and painful memories for the relatives
of the 130 people killed. President Francois Hollande unveiled plaques at sites
across the city that were attacked by the Islamic State jihadist group.
The first was at the Stade de France to commemorate
Manuel Dias, 63, who was killed by a suicide bomber outside the national
stadium as France were playing Germany in a football match, starting a series
of coordinated attacks on the evening of November 13, 2015.
Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo then unveiled
plaques outside bars and restaurants in the trendy neighbourhood where gunmen
sprayed bullets at people enjoying a Friday evening out. The final ceremony
took place outside the Bataclan, the concert hall where 90 people were killed
by three attackers during a rock gig.
The names of those killed at the concert were read out as
hundreds of people gathered under rainy skies watched in silence. Rock star
Sting reopened the refurbished Bataclan with an emotionally charged show held
amid tight security on Saturday.
"We will not forget them," the British singer
told the crowd in French after a minute's silence for the victims.
Many in the crowd wept during the first song,
"Fragile". The Bataclan management said they had prevented two
members of the US group Eagles of Death Metal -- who were on stage when the
bloodshed started -- from entering the Sting concert over controversial remarks
by their lead singer Jesse Hughes.
"They came, I threw them out -- there are things you
can't forgive," said the venue's co-director Jules Frutos. However the
band's manager denied members of the group had tried to enter the concert hall
at all. Hughes, who caused outrage in France by suggesting Muslim staff at the
Bataclan might have cooperated with the attackers, was however in the crowd for
Sunday's ceremony at the venue.
Olivier, 28, who was injured during the rampage, fought
back the tears as he attended the unveiling of the plaque in front of the
Carillon bar and the Petit Cambodge restaurant, where 13 people were killed. He
was hit in the arm by a bullet while his friend was killed by the gunmen and on
Sunday he accompanied his friend's mother to the ceremony. "I had to be
here to support her," he told AFP. "But I won't come to any more
He said he believed it was not enough to just remember
the dead, "we must try to understand how this happened". Islamic
State said it had struck at France because it was bombing its militants in Iraq
and Syria. Hollande responded at the time that France was "at war"
and French jets continue to launch air strikes on the group, which is fighting
an Iraqi-led assault to take back the city of Mosul.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday the state of
emergency declared after the attacks would likely be extended as France gears
up for presidential elections in six months' time.
"This state of emergency device allows us to make
arrests, administrative checks which are effective... So yes, we are probably
going to live a few months more with this state of emergency," Valls told
"I have received information from the dissident
media in Turkey, mostly internet websites, that 4 trucks full of arms supplies
have entered Syria's Idlib province from Turkey to be sent to the terrorists in
Aleppo," Sarkis Qasarjian said on Sunday.
The Turkish Army has supplied a large volume of arms and
ammunition to Jeish al-Fatah terrorist coalition to use them in their Great
Epic Operation to lift army's siege on militants in Eastern part of Aleppo
Hawar news quoted the sources as saying last week that
the Turkish army opened a new border crossing in Northern Idlib to send fresh
forces, army and munitions to the Ankara-backed terrorist groups.
The sources added that the Turkish army established the
new border crossing near the village of Aqayrabat in Dana region in order to
back up transfer of supplies through the Atmeh border crossing.
The Turkish army dispatched at least 20 tanks and
ammunition trucks to Idlib via this border crossing.
The Turkish military forces sent these cargos of arms and
ammunition simultaneous with preparation of Jeish al-Fatah terrorist to storm
government positions in Aleppo.
In the meantime, four buses transferred tens of militants
to Idlib via Atmeh border crossing last week. Fresh forces were dispatched to
Senior member of the Syrian Democratic Council Rizan Hado
disclosed on Thursday that a Turkish helicopter landed near a check point at
the bordering village of Atmeh in the Northern province of Idlib.
"The helicopter was carrying a number of Turkish
officers and several boxes whose contents are not known, but sources said that
they were full of advanced weapons which were unloaded," Hado said.
Also, Kurdish sources reported that the Turkish army
fighter jets are flew over the villages near al-Qahtaniyeh town in the
Northeastern parts of Hasaka and are firing flares over the entire region.
This is while the Turkish army forces on board military
vehicles have been deployed at Syria-Turkey bordering areas.
Reports said late last month that Ankara has sent several
trucks of ammunition to the Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra) Front
and Ahrar al-Sham terrorists stationed at a base near Atme border region in the
Northern province of Idlib.
According to al-Ahd news website, the Turkish army sent
20 trucks loaded with ammunition for the terrorist groups in Northern Syria in
The trucks entered Atme on October 23 through Bukulmez
region which borders Deir Balut village in the Northwestern parts of Aleppo,
al-Ahd reported two days later.
Relevant reports said in October that the terrorists of
Fatah al-Sham Front had acknowledged that they recently received military
training in camps in Turkish territories.
Syrian soldiers and popular in an ambush operation in
Sheikh Saeed districts in the Southern part of Aleppo city captured a number of
Fatah al-Sham terrorists recently.
The army said that the captured terrorists confessed that
they had received advanced military training in a camp in Turkey.
Reports said in June that over 160 members of Fatah
al-Sham terrorist group crossed the Turkish borders to join their comrades in
According to the Russian Center for Syrian
reconciliation, at least 160 Fatah al-Sham Front militants crossed the border
with Turkey in the North of Idlib province in June.
They were heading towards Aleppo to reinforce Takfiri
terrorists fighting in the region, the Center added.
Since June, over 4,000 terrorists from various groups,
including Fatah Al-Sham, have crossed the Turkish border into Syria, specially
to help the militants entrapped in Aleppo.
Erdogan hints at referendum on joining EU
ISTANBUL - Accusing Brussels of wanting Turkey to abandon
its bid to join the EU, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted in an
interview published Sunday he might put the question to a referendum. "The
European Union is trying to compel us to withdraw from this (accession)
process. If they don't want us they should be clear about this, they should
make a decision," Erdogan told the leading daily Hurriyet. "Our patience
is not endless. If need be, later, we could also consult our people," he
said, alluding to the UK's Brexit referendum in June. Turkey's bid to join the
EU dates back to the 1960s with formal talks starting in 2005. But the process
has been mired in problems, which current tensions have done nothing to help.
Rocky relations between Ankara and the EU became even more strained in the wake
of the failed coup in Turkey in July.
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
on Sunday he backed a bill limiting the number of calls to prayer from mosques,
a proposal government watchdogs have called a threat to religious freedom.
Netanyahu, who spoke as a ministerial committee was to
discuss the draft bill, said he would support a move that some have labelled
Israeli media reported that the bill would stop the use
of public address systems for calls to prayer.
“I cannot count the times — they are simply too numerous
— that citizens have turned to me from all parts of Israeli society, from all
religions, with complaints about the noise and suffering caused to them by the
excessive noise coming to them from the public address systems of houses of
prayer,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
While the draft bill applies to all houses of worship, it
is seen as specifically targeting mosques.
JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said Sunday he backed a bill limiting the volume of calls to prayer from mosques,
a proposal government watchdogs have called a threat to religious freedom.
Netanyahu, who spoke as a ministerial committee was to discuss the draft bill
later in the day, said he would support such a move that some have labelled
unnecessarily divisive. Israeli media reported that the bill would stop the use
of public address systems for calls to prayer.
13 November 2016
Last week UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed
handed over his roadmap for peace to the warring parties in Yemen. It is a
product of months of negotiations between the Yemeni parties that have taken
place under the eye of the UN during the past year. It is designed to reflect
the concerns and aspirations of both sides and facilitate a lasting solution to
a conflict which has raged for more than two years since the Houthis and forces
loyal to former President Saleh took Sanaa by force from the legitimate
Of course, this roadmap is not intended to be a final
version of the agreement. It is a tool designed to bridge the gap between the
parties. Both sides will need to engage constructively with the UN Envoy to
negotiate the details and reach a settlement. No conflict is resolved easily,
and all parties will need to make some difficult compromises.
But they must do so for the sake of all Yemenis. The UN
estimates that the conflict has resulted in up to 10,000 Yemeni deaths. There
are over 21 million in need of humanitarian assistance with 7 million facing
severe food shortages. Differences must be put aside to end this horror and
guarantee a better future for the people of Yemen.
The roadmap is based on the UN Security Council
Resolution 2216, the internationally agreed framework for a negotiated
solution. The Resolution was never intended to relieve the Hadi government of
its responsibility to negotiate, or to provide for the surrender of one side to
The terms of the roadmap would see the Houthi militia and
Saleh loyalists withdraw from areas they have occupied, including the capital
Sana’a and the cities of Taiz and Hodeidah. They would also be required to hand
over their heavy weaponry.
In return, a new Vice-President enjoying extensive
national acceptability and credibility will be appointed who assumes full
Presidential authority and oversees the formation of a new Government of
National Unity. And it will be this Government which takes forward the
political transition envisaged for Yemen back in 2012, leading to democratic
elections and a new Constitution chosen by the Yemeni people. But this
political transition can only occur if the Houthi militia and Saleh loyalists commit
to the security measures mentioned above and show a willingness to negotiate
credible and verifiable withdrawal and disarmament measures as part of an
agreement. Efforts to impose a government at the barrel of a gun will lead to
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the
European Union plays a crucial role in regional and international issues but
can be more active in this regard.
In a meeting with the Speaker of the Hungarian National
Assembly Laszlo Kover in Tehran on Sunday, Zarif stressed the importance of
showing initiative on regional and international affairs.
“The policy of patience and wait and see will not provide
an answer to global issues,” he added.
He further expressed Iran’s keenness to develop
cooperation with the member states of the European Union, including Hungary,
and stressed the importance of Budapest pursuing a balanced policy on regional
and international issues.
The top Iranian diplomat further noted that Tehran and
Budapest enjoy growing relations in various fields and called for banking
transaction and visa facilitation in an effort to further strengthen
Nothing should stop JCPOA implementation: Kover
The speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, for his
part, said his country believes that the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of
countries in July 2015, is beneficial to all states and nothing must hinder its
As the Islamic Republic has remained committed to the
nuclear deal, other sides must also fulfill their obligations under the JCPOA,
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has stressed the
importance of bolstering cordial relations among Muslim and Arab countries,
saying the Islamic Republic seeks a stable and secure Iraq.
“The existence of a secure and stable Iraq with full
prosperity for all the country’s people…has always been sought by the
authorities and nation of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Larijani said in a
meeting with former Iraqi vice president, Khazir al-Khazaei, in Tehran on
He added that Iran is prudently working toward
reinforcing amicable relations among Muslim and Arab countries “but some
countries in the region must behave constructively.”
The top Iranian parliamentarian emphasized that unity
among all Iraqi groups to counter the country’s political, economic and
security crises is a “fundamental necessity.”
Larijani expressed hope that prosperity and peace would
be established in Iraq through unity and consensus among various political
groups and said Tehran is prepared to share its experience with Baghdad in this
The Iraqi official, for his part, said the two countries
have various religious, cultural and geographical commonalities and enjoy
strong relations based on mutual respect and observance of common interests.
Khazaei further added that Iraqi army soldiers and
pro-government fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units are engaged in a
serious and all-out fight against Daesh terrorists inside the country,
particularly in and around the strategic city of Mosul, and hoped terrorism
would be eliminated in Iraq soon.
He also commended Iran’s effective role in restoring
stability and peace in Iraq.
After months of preparation, Iraqi army soldiers, backed
by pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units and Kurdish
Peshmerga forces, launched an operation on October 17 to retake the strategic
city of Mosul from the Daesh terrorists.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed that
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, will be fully recaptured by year-end.
Nov 14, 2016
At least eight civilians have been killed in Yemen in two
new Saudi airstrikes that targeted the country’s province of Ibb.
Yemen’s al-Masirah news website said that nine civilians
were also injured in the Saudi airstrikes, which targeted Ibb at dawn on
A local source said the airstrikes targeted two oil
tankers in Ibb’s Yarim district, adding that rescue and recovery operations
were still ongoing and that casualties could rise.
Also in the early hours of Monday, Saudi warplanes
targeted Nihm district, northwest of the capital, Sana’a, with internationally-banned
cluster bombs. However, no immediate reports of possible casualties were made
Riyadh has been consistently using the banned weapons in
its military aggression against Yemen.
In August, the United Nations (UN)’s human rights office
called for an independent international investigation of cases of human rights
violations in the Saudi war on Yemen, confirming the use of banned cluster
bombs by Saudi Arabia against Yemen’s residential areas.
Prominent human rights organizations have also denounced
Saudi Arabia’s allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for
procuring such weapons for the regime.
Saudi Arabia has been engaged in the deadly war against
Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to forcefully bring back a former Yemeni
government to power.
New casualty tolls released
Meanwhile, al-Masirah on Monday cited a report released
by a Yemeni non-governmental monitoring group as saying that the civilian death
toll from the Saudi war had now risen to 11,403 people.
Penang mufti slammed for saying ‘Damia’ name means
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Penang Mufti Datuk Wan Salim Wan
Mohd Noor has been publicly criticised after warning Muslim parents against
naming their children with words that purportedly have unpleasant meanings in
Among the names Wan Salim had warned against was “Damia”,
which he claimed means “source of blood flow”, but Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd
Asri Zainul Abidin was among those who suggested that the name might not even
“Damia’s origin is not from an Arabic word. It might be
from the Greek language,” Asri wrote on his official Facebook page.
He explained that in Arabic, the root word “dam” that
means “blood” is not usually made into a noun.
“Therefore, I conclude that the name ‘Damia’ used
worldwide is not from the Arabic root word. Assuming ‘Damia’ means filthy blood
is just inaccurate.”
Asri explained that while parents should be aware of the
meaning of names given to children, they should also refer to the original
“Do not assume other people’s name as bad in the language
that we understand when they would probably be referring to other languages,”
Malay daily Sinar Harian also reported that Wan Salim was
ridiculed by several parents after making his remark, with the backlash
criticised by some Muslim scholars who defended the mufti.
“Religious institutions must be respected including those
who helm them. Their role is to ensure that Islam is not defiled and polluted.
“In the same time, the pious are the inheritors of the
Prophet. So respect their views,” said Shahrul Azalan Mohamed Zamri,
representing the Council on Unofficial Meetings of Religious Ministers of
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Previously, a copy of a letter dated November 7, 2016
from Wan Salim’s office became viral on social media after he advised the
National Registration Department on a parent’s request to change their
daughter’s name from “Nur Damiya Safiyya” to “Putri Nur Safiyya”.
Wan Salim explained himself to Sinar Harian in an earlier
report that many parents give names with unpleasant meanings to their children,
such as “Bahimah” which allegedly means “animal”, “Zani” (fornicator), and
“Syarrul Bariyyah” (the most evil of creatures).
Nurul Fitri Ramadhani
“Where is Pak Ahok? Please come again with Pak Ahok,”
said residents of Cakung in East Jakarta to the surprise of Djarot Saiful
Hidayat, Jakarta’s deputy governor and gubernatorial candidate, while he was
campaigning in the densely-populated area on Sunday.
They were referring to Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok”
“Oh, is Pak Ahok allowed to come?” asked the candidate.
“Of course!” said the excited residents.
Both Ahok and Djarot have confronted animosity from people
during their campaign stops in several areas due to the governor’s
controversial remarks in reference to a Quranic verse that Islamic hard-liners
have deemed blasphemous.
As the electability of the Ahok-Djarot ticket continues
to be threatened, their political backers have begun to worry. Two of four
political parties supporting the ticket may distance themselves from the
beleaguered incumbent should he be charged with blasphemy.
As pressure on the National Police to charge Ahok
intensifies, party elites in the Golkar Party and the NasDem Party have voiced
concerns over a possible electoral backlash if they keep supporting the
governor, who has vowed to stay in the race despite his present legal quagmire.
Last Friday, NasDem chairman Surya Paloh, an influential
figure within President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration, said his party
would evaluate its support for Ahok.
“If [Ahok] is named a suspect then we will carry out two
kinds of evaluations, a legal and moral evaluation. [We need to consider] our
morality as a party that supports [him],” Paloh told reporters.
A day earlier, Golkar patron Aburizal Bakrie warned his
party’s rank and file that the party could lose public support if it failed to
address Ahok’s blasphemy case accordingly.
“I know our party supports Ahok [in the Jakarta election]
and that is its final decision. But we have to show firmly that the person we
are supporting is also not allowed to insult religion — any religion, not only
Islam. Religious blasphemy is a serious matter,” he added.
Golkar and NasDem are not able to formally withdraw their
support for Ahok though, as such a move would be considered illegal.
The 2016 Regional Election Law stipulates that leaders of
political parties that withdraw their support for a candidate whose candidacy
has been validated by the General Elections Commission (KPU) may be criminally
charged. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to two years in prison and
ordered to pay a fine of between Rp 25 billion (US$1.8 million) and Rp 50
“We still support Ahok because the Regional Election Law
does not allow us to back out from our support,” NasDem executive Irma Suryani
Chaniago told The Jakarta Post.
Nevertheless, losing Golkar’s and NasDem’s political
backing would still deal a blow to Ahok, who needs all the help he can get to
weather the political storm he is now facing. The former Belitung regent, who
claims to have been pressured by certain parties to drop out of the
gubernatorial race, has said he would rather go to jail than quit.
Jokowi has ordered the National Police to follow up on
the blasphemy allegations against Ahok, his former deputy when he served as
Jakarta governor, and has promised Muslim leaders that he will not protect him.
Jakarta. The suspect in the Samarinda church bomb attack
is a former terror convict who was released from jail in July 2014, police said
on Sunday (13/11).
A Molotov cocktail exploded in front of the Ecumenical
Christian Church, located in Jalan Cipto Mangunkkusumo in Loa Janan Ilir
village in Samarinda Seberang subdistrict, Samarinda, East Kalimantan, at around
10.30 a.m. local time.
Police arrested the alleged attacker, only identified by
the initial J., less than three hours after the incident.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Agus Rianto said the
32-year-old suspect was also involved in bomb attack on a gas pipeline in
Tangerang, Banten, in March 2011.
In the same period, he was also involved in a series of
parcel bomb attacks in Jakarta, targeting several public figures – including
Liberal Islam Network founder Ulil Abshar Abdalla; Pemuda Pancasila chairman
Yapto Suryo Soemarno; former National Narcotics Agency (BNN) chief Comr. Gen.
Gories Mere; and rock star Ahmad Dhani.
The suspect was sentenced to three years and six months'
imprisonment in February 2012 for his involvement in the attacks.
Muslim College Chaplains Extend a Hand Across Religious
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
NOV. 13, 2016
MINNEAPOLIS — Emma Blom grew up in the Scandinavian
heartland of rural Minnesota, reliably attending her small town’s Lutheran
church. She spent each childhood summer in vacation Bible school and played the
piano for Sunday worship services. “Borning Cry” was her grandmother’s favorite
Catholics were a scattered minority on the Minnesota
prairie, Jews even rarer. As for Muslims, Ms. Blom had never met one. “I knew
the women wore stuff on their head,” she recalled. “I didn’t even know it was
called a hijab.”
Then, as a sophomore at Augsburg College here in 2014,
Ms. Blom felt her faith wavering. She had been shaken by her grandmother’s
death, and drew no solace from her church’s rituals. One of her classes
scrutinized the Bible for sexism and misogyny. Was she a Christian anymore? Was
she even a believer? She didn’t dare to ask any of her Lutheran friends, for
fear of being judged and found wanting.
Still struggling this fall, Ms. Blom turned to perhaps
the most unexpected counselor and confessor of all: Augsburg’s Muslim chaplain,
Fardosa Hassan. And from Ms. Hassan, 26, a Somali refugee who had never seen
snow until arriving in Minnesota as a 9-year-old entering fifth grade, Ms. Blom
heard words that sustained her.
Doubt was the necessary companion of belief, Ms. Hassan
assured her, not its irreversible solvent. Divine texts can be interpreted by
human hands and in modern ways. One devout person’s truth is not necessarily
Two months after the conversation, Ms. Blom is attending
church again, feeling more settled in her soul.
In this encounter across chasms of difference, Ms. Hassan
embodied the vital role that dozens of Muslim chaplains like her are playing at
colleges and universities throughout the nation. These chaplains serve as doors
that open two ways — welcoming and integrating Muslim students who fear
hostility at a time of rising Islamophobia, and normalizing Islam to non-Muslim
students who have absorbed a narrative of it as an oppressive and violent
“My role is to help students negotiate this multifaith,
diverse environment,” said Ms. Hassan. “I’m going to give them a tool for when
they go out of this institution, so they know how to be respectful of others. A
lot of times, people are afraid even to ask the questions of people who are
different. So I say, begin with friendship. Start by saying hello.”
Across the United States, nearly 40 Muslim chaplains
serve private universities, according to Abdullah Antepli, the chaplain at Duke
University and a leader in the national association of Muslim chaplains, which
also includes those serving in hospitals, the military, prisons and various
community settings. (For reasons of church and state separation, public
universities cannot pay for clergy of any kind, although a Muslim chaplain at
the University of Michigan is supported by private donations.)
Virtually all these chaplains have been hired since the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In their polarizing aftermath, the
chaplains both chose and were compelled to become cultural and religious
interlocutors. For non-Muslims, each one of those chaplains provided a face, if
not the face, of the “ummah,” or global community of Islam.
“If you have a Muslim among the Jews and Christians and
Buddhists and humanists, you get better integrated into the life of the school,”
said Heidi Hadsell, the president of Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, which
has a program to train Muslim chaplains. “They act as advocates for Muslim
students, but also a bridge to other communities. And that’s critically
important. It’s a way of people on campus knowing a Muslim.”
There is probably no college that stands more astride the
religious divide than Augsburg. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran
Church of America and has traditionally attracted the vast majority of its
students from white Protestant denominations. Yet its campus directly abuts the
Cedar-Riverside neighborhood that is the epicenter of Minnesota’s population of
31,500 Somali Muslims. Perhaps nowhere else in the United States does a hockey
rink sit so close to a halal meat market.
With the growth of Minnesota’s Somali population over the
past quarter-century, the most common national news from the area has concerned
the dozens of young men who joined the Islamic State or the Shabab militant
group — or were apprehended trying. In September, a Somali man shouting “Allahu
akbar” stabbed 10 people at a shopping mall in St. Cloud, 65 miles from
Minneapolis, heightening fears of homegrown terrorism.
Such explosive events, though, obscure the less dramatic
assimilation of Somali immigrants here. One serves on the Minneapolis City
Council. Another won a seat in the state legislature on Election Day. As of
2006, Somalis in Minnesota owned 600 businesses and had $164 million in buying
power, according to a report by the American Immigration Council, and those
numbers have certainly increased in the subsequent decade.
So when Paul C. Pribbenow became president of Augsburg in
2006, he looked to the Somali community for prospective students. Having
written his doctoral dissertation about Hull House, Jane Addams’s landmark
settlement house in Chicago, Dr. Pribbenow conceived of Augsburg as the
“21st-century equivalent.” As he recently put it: “What does a settlement house
do? It listens to neighbors and learns how to be a neighbor.”
With a student body of about 2,500, Augsburg’s Muslim
enrollment increased to 101 in 2016 from 11 in 2007. Ms. Hassan, in the
graduating class of 2012, was one of those students. Her family fled Somalia’s
civil war in 1991 and lived in Ethiopia and Kenya for several years before she
came to Minneapolis in the care of her grandmother. Equipped with a bachelor’s
degree in sociology and international relations, Ms. Hassan went to work for an
interfaith community-organizing group in St. Paul.
Augsburg, meanwhile, got a harrowing reminder of its
lingering gaps in meeting the needs of Muslim students when one was shot and
killed near campus in 2008. The college pastor, the Rev. Sonja Hagander,
realized to her shame that there was no Muslim religious figure on campus to
help students grieve. As a Lutheran, she felt almost an impostor in the role.
So when Augsburg created a position of Muslim student
program associate, Ms. Hassan applied and was hired in August 2015. In the
role, she addresses classes, organizes service projects, leads field trips to
local mosques and started a service for Friday Prayers, known as jummah, on
campus. She also makes sure there are plenty of Doritos when members of the
Muslim Student Association turn up for their meetings.
For Ms. Hassan, such efforts are necessarily
person-to-person. If a Christian student like Ms. Blom represented one vector
of her outreach, then Mohamud Mohamed typifies the other. The son of Somali
refugees, he memorized the Quran by age 13 and began teaching in a weekend
madrasa a year later. His default position before he went to college was to
assume that the most rigorous version of Islam was the most genuine.
At Augsburg, Ms. Hassan utilized Mr. Mohamed’s religious
training to have him, rather than an outside imam, lead Friday Prayer. She also
nudged him to move the sermons away from fire and brimstone and toward issues
of social justice, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. As a result, the
prayer service has begun to attract some Christian and atheist students for its
political message. And in at least one small way on one campus, Islam itself
has been demystified and defanged.
“They feel like there’s no more mystery about it,” Mr.
Mohamed, 19, said of non-Muslim students. “It’s not some secret ritual. It’s a
way for us to be ambassadors for Muslims.”
Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American woman to be
elected to the US House of Representatives, has asserted she would strongly
oppose any effort by President-elect Donald Trump to enforce his rhetoric
against Muslims and threat to deport 11 million illegal immigrants. 51-year-old
Jayapal said she is ready to stand up and fight for the rights of all Americans
against attacks from the incoming Republican Congress and President.
“If any part of Trump’s Presidency involves some of the
things he talked about on his campaign, whether it’s punishing women for
exercising their right to make their own decisions or subjecting Muslims to
additional scrutiny and discrimination, or deporting 11 million immigrants, we
are going to have to stand up and defend these rights and values that are so
important to this country,” she said.
“We cannot step back, and I intend to fight for what I’ve
been fighting for my whole life,” she told People magazine in an interview.
After her election, Jayapal, who ran her elections on a progressive agenda and
was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders in the run up to her campaign, described
the Trump’s victory as shocking.
“We hold out the greatest hope for Donald Trump as the
President, but we also prepare for what could well be a tax on some of the
things that are so important and so dear to us,” Jayapal. “I do think there are
some interesting things that we can work on together that he has said that he’s
interested in. One of those things is an infrastructure package — he said that
he’s open to that — investing in real jobs and real and true economic gains for
people working across the country of every colour and race is going to be a
place of unity,” she said.
Chennai-born Jayapal is the first person of colour
elected to the Washington State Democratic Delegation, and the first South
Asian woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives. She said her
victory is a bitter sweet moment for her. She is one of the four
Indian-Americans to have won the Congressional elections this year.
Others being Kamala Harris for US Senate, and Ro Khanna
and Raja Krishnamoorthi for the US House of Representatives. They might be
joined by Ami Bera who is currently engaged in recounting of votes.
Former 2016 presidential Democratic contender Bernie
Sanders said he would be backing Keith Ellison – the first Muslim to be elected
to the US Congress – for party’s leadership position.
The Democratic Party has been reeling since its loss in
the US elections last week that saw its candidate Hillary Clinton lose out to
President-Elect Donald Trump.
“I don't think the political establishment and the
billionaires would like Keith Ellison as the DNC chair. Good! Join me in
supporting Keith,” Sanders wrote.
According to the Washington Post, Ellison would represent
a highly likely choice to be elected to the party’s chair position given his
broad appeal to both sides of the party.
“Ellison appeals to both of the party’s grassroots wings:
the economic progressives who supported Bernie Sanders (whom Ellison endorsed)
and social minority groups (Ellison was the first Muslim in Congress),” the
Washington post reported.
The Muslim congressman was also endorsed on Thursday by
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another strong progressive voice inside the party.
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