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Islamic World News (31 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

China Bans Beards and Burqas in Muslim Region as Part of ‘Anti-Extremist’ Crackdown

A Chinese Muslim couple walks by a mosque in Hami, in China’s farwest Xinjiang region on August 2, 2012. File photo: Stringer/AFP.


China Bans Beards and Burqas in Muslim Region as Part of ‘Anti-Extremist’ Crackdown

Militants Kill Themselves with Grenade in B’desh

Muslim Organisation Puts out Banners Supporting Ram Temple Construction in Ayodhya

Pakistan: 22 Killed In Explosion outside Imambargah in Parachinar Market



Southeast Asia

China Bans Beards and Burqas in Muslim Region as Part of ‘Anti-Extremist’ Crackdown

Indonesian Police Arrest Leader of Hardline Muslim Group Ahead Of Blasphemy Protest

Terror threats transform China's Uighur heartland into security state

Taipei gives its assurance to Muslim tourists

NU, Muhammadiyah call on members to avoid 313 rally

Indonesia's US-Dollar Sukuk Sale Attracts More Investors


South Asia

Militants Kill Themselves with Grenade in B’desh

27 ISIS Militants Killed In Afghan Commandos Operations and Airstrikes

10 militants killed in an airstrike in Uruzgan province of Afghanistan

Militants involved in major target killings arrested by Afghan forces



Muslim Organisation Puts out Banners Supporting Ram Temple Construction in Ayodhya

For Not Singing Vande Mataram, Muslim Councillors in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut Face Expulsion

Aimed To Improve Muslim Education, NCPCR Engages With Madrasas



Pakistan: 22 Killed In Explosion outside Imambargah in Parachinar Market

Gunmen Assassinate Prominent Minority Activist in Pakistan

Joining military alliance won’t hit Pakistan’s neutrality: FO

Five ‘terrorists’ gunned down in Gujrat operation

Complete religious freedom in Pakistan, US told

Govt to encourage cultural exchanges with Afghanistan: Marriyum

Pakistan offers to train Iraqi forces

JI all set to hold sit-in against KE, NEPRA and govt ‘nexus’


Arab World

Syrian Army Destroys 40 Main Military Sites of ISIL in Deir Ezzur

US-Led Coalition Claims ISIS Propaganda Team Killed In Iraq Air Strike

At least 14 dead in Baghdad checkpoint blast

Over 20 Villages, Towns Freed in Syrian Army Operations in Eastern Aleppo

Syrian Fighter Jets Launch Heavy Airstrikes on Terrorists' Positions in Lattakia Province

Terrorist Centres in Hama Receive Severe Blow in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks

Syrian Army, Russian Air Force Hit Terrorists' Positions Hard in Homs

Syrian Soldiers Readying to Carry out Large-Scale Anti-ISIL Offensive in Deir Ezzur

Gulf ministers condemn Iran’s support to Bahrain ‘terrorists’



Israeli Cabinet Approves First West Bank Settlement in 20 Years

Nine Yemeni civilians killed in separate Saudi airstrikes

Saudi general makes obscene gesture to Yemen war protester

US warns Iran over Houthi support, says militias threatening Red Sea

Iran to US: Stop harassing Persian Gulf states


North America

FBI Report Claims Teen Planned Paris-Style Attacks In New York

Trump Administration Appealing Halt of Revised Muslim Ban

Muslim Student Union Aims To Educate Students on Islam        

ACT for America is anything but a hate group

Muslim activist wows SRO crowd at library



Time to appoint Chief Imam for National Mosque Abuja

South Africa: Minister Pandor - Uncle Kathy Was Warm and Loving



Muslim community prays in fear since Quebec shooting, mosque president says

German official wants ‘Islam law’ to shed light on funding & teachings by ‘imported imams’

Multiple stabbings reported outside Turkish embassy in Brussels

Muslim mayor stresses diversity after London attack, but Britons still uneasy

US names Islamic State fighters, British cleric to ‘terror’ blacklist

French have become less xenophobic but still wary of Islam, study reveals

Discounting Muslim anti-Semitism, group says attacks on French Jews down

The UK’s ambivalent attitude toward Muslim terror

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/china-bans-beards-and-burqas-in-muslim-region-as-part-of-‘anti-extremist’-crackdown/d/110605



China bans beards and Burqas in Muslim region as part of ‘anti-extremist’ crackdown

31 March 2017

China has announced bans on beards and Burqas in its remote violence-wracked Xinjiang region as part of tighter ‘anti-extremism’ regulations that also prohibit refusing to watch government propaganda.

Xinjiang is the homeland of the Uighurs — a traditionally Muslim group, many of whom complain of cultural and religious repression and discrimination.

The area has been hit by a wave of deadly unrest, while authorities have stepped up already-strict controls and organised mass rallies of thousands of military police to indicate Chinese resolve in crushing security threats.

The new regulations, which will come into force on Saturday, outline prohibitions on growing “abnormal” facial hair or wearing robes that cover the whole body and face.

They also ban spreading “extremist ideas”, refusing to watch or listen to government propaganda on radio or TV, and preventing children from receiving “national education”, according to the text of regulations published on a government website.

China has for years blamed exiled Uighur “separatists’ for a series of violent attacks in Xinjiang and warned of the potential for militants to link up with global jihadist groups.

But many independent experts have doubted the strength of overseas Uighur groups, with some saying China exaggerates the threat to justify tough security measures.

Previously Chinese authorities have restricted granting passports to Uighurs and adopted measures limiting or banning prayer at home, religious education for children, and fasting during Ramadan, which rights groups say has fuelled anger in the region.

Strict controls on the observance of certain Muslim practises, such as growing beards and wearing headscarves have been irregularly enforced in the past, but the new regulations are more sweeping and formal.

A US think tank said in July that tough Chinese religious restrictions on Muslims may have driven more than 100 to join the Islamic State.

Earlier this month Islamic State militants of the Uighur minority released a video vowing to return home and “shed blood like rivers” in China, in what experts said marked the first IS threat against Chinese targets.

In the video, a Uighur fighter issued the threat against China just before executing an alleged informant.

It also featured images of Chinese riot police guarding mosques, patrolling Uighur markets, and arresting men in what appears to be western China. The Chinese flag is pictured engulfed in flames.

The video was released the same day that China held a mass rally of 10,000 officers the region’s capital Urumqi — the fourth such rally this year in Xinjiang.

In one violence-wracked corner of Xinjiang, authorities are offering rewards of up to 5 million yuan ($730,000) to those who expose terror plots or “struggle, kill, wound, or subdue” any attackers.




Militants kill themselves with grenade in B’desh

March 31, 2017

DHAKA - As many as eight militants blew themselves up with a grenade north of the Bangladeshi capital rather than surrender, police said on Thursday, the latest clash in the South Asian country that has seen a rise in violence.

Police urged the militants, holed up in their hideout in Nasirpur, northeast of the capital Dhaka, to give themselves up on Wednesday, but instead they detonated the grenade. “Up to eight militants, including a female, were killed,” Monirul Islam, the chief of police counter terrorism and transnational crime, told reporters.

On Monday, Bangladesh army commandos killed four militants in the northeastern city of Sylhet during a raid on a building where they were holed up.

On Saturday, six people, including two police, were killed and more than 40 wounded in two bomb blasts near the militant hideout in the Sylhet building.

Islamic State claimed responsibility “for a bombing on Bangladeshi forces in Sylhet”, the SITE monitoring service said, citing a report on the militant group’s news agency Amaq that appeared to refer to that incident.

Islamic State and al Qaeda have made competing claims over killings of foreigners, liberals and members of religious minorities in Bangladesh, a mostly Muslim country of 160 million people.

The government has consistently ruled out the presence of such groups, blaming domestic militants instead.




Muslim organisation puts out banners supporting Ram Temple construction in Ayodhya

31st March 2017

LUCKNOW: With the Supreme Court all set to pronounce its verdict on the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid issue today, a Muslim organization in Lucknow has issued banners supporting construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

The apex court had earlier this month said the Ayodhya dispute is a sensitive and sentimental issue, adding that the matter should be settled amicably.

The apex court while hearing the pla of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy’s seeking urgent hearing into the matter hadasked all parties concerned to sit together so as to arrive at a consensus.

The apex court had asked Swamy to consult the parties and inform it about the decision on March 31.

The apex court also suggested that a principal mediator can be chosen by it if required for settling the issue.

During the hearing, Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S. Khehar offered to serve as a mediator if negotiations break down.

However, asserting that the Muslim front in the Ram Mandir matter will have to choose a different spot to build a mosque, Swamy said that if nobody would compromise on the matter then the BJP will pass a legislation.

“We are not opposing the idea of building a Masjid but not on the same spot, as it was the same spot where Lord Ram was born. But if they want to argue in the court that is also fine. We otherwise have other options, the BJP by next year will have majority in Rajya Sabha and then we can pass a legislation. And then the Muslim community will not have any Masjid to show for it," Swamy said.




Pakistan: 22 Killed In Explosion outside Imambargah in Parachinar Market


A blast outside an imambargah at a market in Parachinar killed at least 22 people and wounded 50 others, hospital sources told DawnNews on Friday.

“We have 22 dead bodies here at the hospital and 57 injured, including women and children,” said Moeen Begum, a surgeon at the hospital.

Ikramullah Khan, the local political agent, confirmed the death toll of the blast that took place this morning in the crowded Noor market.

What we know so far

22 people killed, 50 injured in explosion

Parliamentarian says the blast could be a suicide attack: official

An imambargah appears to be the target

Jamat-ul-Ahrar claims responsibility for the attack

Who was the target?

A parliamentarian from Parachinar, Sajid Hussain, told Reuters it was a suicide attack and was preceded by gunfire. “The attack took place in a busy area and a women's mosque appears to be the target,” he said.

A banned outfit Jamat-ul-Ahrar through a video message claimed responsibility for the attack.

The marketplace is a busy area and has several shops. It is also near one of the main imambargahs. Firing was also reported in the area before the blast occurred.

Government administrator Zahid Hussain says authorities are transporting the dead and wounded to nearby hospitals.

Hussain said Shias are apparently the target of the attack.

Security forces have cordoned off the area. The political administration has declared emergency at all hospitals in the area. An Army medical evacuation helicopter has also been flown to Parachinar for evacuation of the injured, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

Mumtaz Hussain, a doctor at the local Agency Headquarters Hospital, told Reuters five bodies, including a woman and two children, and more than three dozen wounded had been brought to the hospital and an appeal had been issued for blood donors.

“Patients are being brought to us in private cars and ambulances and we have received over three dozen patients so far,” Hussain told Reuters.

The attack is reminiscent of a bombing at a market place early this year, which resulted in the death over at least 25 people.

The January attack was claimed by Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami along with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter Shehryar Mehsud.

The army had launched Operation Raddul Fasaad last month following a spate of terror attacks in the country, which claimed more than a hundred lives and left hundreds others injured. The operation seeks to eliminate the "residual/latent threat of terrorism", consolidating the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring the security of Pakistan's borders.

Hundreds of suspected terrorists have reportedly either been killed or arrested in raids carried out by security personnel since the start of the operation.

Parachinar is 250 kilometres west of Peshawar and has a population of 50,000. In the wake of sectarian clashes in 2007 army and paramilitary forces set up several checkpoints on roads leading to the town.

Kurram, the tribal region of which Parachinar is the main town, the only part of Pakistan's border region that has a significant Shia population, has been racked by sectarian violence.

Condemnations pour in

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said the government would keep up efforts to “eliminate the menace of terrorism”.

"The network of terrorists has already been broken and it is our national duty to continue this war until the complete annihilation of the scourge of terrorism from our soil," he said in a statement.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan took to twitter to condemn the blast. "(I) strongly condemn (the) blast in Parachinar, targeting innocent people," he said on twitter.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister must ensure availability of all medical facilities on emergency basis, he added.




Southeast Asia


Indonesian police arrest leader of hardline Muslim group ahead of blasphemy protest

31 March, 2017

Indonesian police arrested the leader of a hardline Muslim group and several other activists for suspected treason ahead of a blasphemy protest in the capital Jakarta on Friday.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said Muhammad Al Khathath, leader of the Muslim Peoples Forum umbrella group, was suspected of involvement in a conspiracy to commit treason and was arrested at a hotel early on Friday.

The forum, which includes the Islamic Defenders Front vigilante group, has been behind a series of huge protests against the minority Christian governor of Jakarta who is on trial for allegedly blaspheming the Koran.

The blasphemy case and the ease with which hard-liners attracted several hundred thousand to protest against Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama have undermined Indonesia’s reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam and shaken the secular government as well as mainstream Muslim groups.

Yuwono said four other Islamic activists were also arrested early on Friday. Local media said one of those men was the deputy coordinator for Friday’s protest.

Ahok will compete in a run-off election for governor next week against a former cabinet minister backed by conservative Muslim clerics. After Friday prayers, protesters planned to march from Istiqlal Mosque in central Jakarta to the nearby presidential palace.




Terror threats transform China's Uighur heartland into security state

March 31, 2017

Three times a day, alarms ring out through the streets of China's ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, and shopkeepers rush out of their stores swinging government-issued wooden clubs.

In mandatory anti-terror drills conducted under police supervision and witnessed by Reuters on a recent visit, they fight off imaginary knife-wielding assailants. Armored paramilitary and police vehicles circle with sirens blaring.

China says it faces a serious threat from Islamist extremists in this far Western Xinjiang region. Beijing accuses separatists among the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority there of stirring up tensions with the ethnic Han Chinese majority and plotting attacks elsewhere in China.

A historic trading post, Kashgar is also central to China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative, President Xi Jinping's signature foreign and economic policy involving massive infrastructure spending linking China to Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

China's worst fears are that a large-scale attack would blight this year's diplomatic setpiece, an OBOR summit attended by world leaders planned for Beijing in May.

State media say the drills, and other measures such as a network of thousands of new street-corner police posts, are aimed making everyone feel safer.

But many residents say the drills are just part of an oppressive security operation that has been ramped up in Kashgar and other cities in Xinjiang's Uighur heartland in recent months. (For a graphic on China's Xinjiang crackdown click tmsnrt.rs/2nQrQm4)

As well as taking part in drills, shopkeepers must, at their own expense, install password-activated security doors, "panic buttons" and cameras that film not just the street outside but also inside their stores, sending a direct video feed to police.

For Uighurs like the owner of an online multimedia company facing one of Kashgar's main streets it is not about security, but mass surveillance.

"We have no privacy," said the business owner who, like almost everyone Reuters spoke to in Kashgar, did not want to give his name. "They want to see what you're up to."

A Chinese security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the new security measures in Xinjiang were not politically motivated, but based on fresh developments and intelligence. He declined to elaborate.

The Xinjiang government and the State Council Information Office, which doubles as the Communist Party spokesman's office, did not respond to requests for comment.

China routinely denies pursuing repressive policies in Xinjiang, and points to the vast sums it spends on economic development in the resource-rich region. Xinjiang's gross domestic product last year rose 7.6 per cent, above the national average.


Since ethnic riots in the regional capital Urumqi in 2009, Xinjiang has been plagued by bouts of deadly violence.

The incidence of attacks reported in state media have actually declined markedly, both in frequency and scale, since a spate of bombings and mass stabbings in Xinjiang and southwestern Yunnan Province in 2014.

But Chinese state media say the threat remains high and the Communist Party has vowed to continue what it terms its own "war on terror" against spreading Islamist extremism.

In Xinjiang, this can also be seen at weekly flag-raising ceremonies that Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who formed the majority in Xinjiang before an influx of Han Chinese, are required to attend to denounce religious extremism and pledge fealty under the Chinese flag.

At one such event witnessed by Reuters in Hotan, a former Silk Road oasis town 500 km (300 miles) southeast of Kashgar, more than 1,000 people filed onto an open-air basketball court where Party officials checked their names against an attendance list and inspected their dress and appearance.

"Best you take this off or I'll send you to re-education," said one female official, pulling back the black hijab worn by a middle-aged Uighur woman to expose her forehead and hair.

Hotan authorities offer 2,000 yuan ($290) rewards for those who report "face coverings and robes, youth with long beards, or other popular religious customs that have been radicalized", as part of a wider incentive system that rewards actionable intelligence on imminent attacks.

Xinjiang lawmakers this week approved legislation extending a prohibition on "abnormal" beards and the wearing of veils in public places across the whole region. The new rules come into force on Saturday.

This month a video purportedly released by the Islamic State group showed Uighur fighters training in Iraq and vowing that blood would "flow in rivers" in China.


The architect of the anti-terror drills and other new measures in Xinjiang is Chen Quanguo, appointed Communist Party boss in the region in August in what analysts said was an implicit endorsement of his hard-line management of ethnic strife in neighboring Tibet.

Chen has made his mark swiftly, culminating last month in what state media described as mass "anti-terror" rallies across Xinjiang's four largest cities involving tens of thousands of paramilitary troops and police.

One of Chen's most visible initiatives has been to build thousands of what the authorities call "convenience police stations" across Xinjiang and hire some 30,000 new officers to man them.

They are present on almost every intersection in Kashgar, typically just hundreds of meters apart, in what Chen calls a "grid-style social management" system he pioneered in Tibet.

Local state media have praised the initiative as a new benchmark in community-based policing. Critics, including Uighur and rights groups, say the real purpose of the convenience police stations is to spy on the population.

Citizens are encouraged to use the stations to charge their mobile phones, have a cup of tea or shelter from the elements.

"I don't know anyone who has been in there," said one Han Chinese taxi driver, who only wanted to be identified by his surname Huang, suggesting few have taken up on the offer to huddle beside the riot police and soldiers that occupy the stations.

But Huang, reflecting the region's simmering ethnic tensions, added that the increased security made him feel safer.

"Some people think it's too much, that it's just a few Uighurs," he said. "But if they chop your family, then you'll know."

Full report at:




Taipei gives its assurance to Muslim tourists

March 31, 2017

MUSLIM travellers can now visit Taipei without worrying about halal facilities as the city is fast becoming a Muslim-friendly destination.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia representative James Chang Chi-Ping said necessary facilities are now easily accessible throughout the city.

“Over 100 hotels and restaurants in Taiwan have received halal certification, of which 45 are located in Taipei.

“Certain national scenic areas have facilities such as prayer rooms and Muslim-friendly toilets,” explained Chang at the Fun Taipei Travel Party press conference, adding that these measures were expected to provide Muslim visitors with a more comfortable and pleasant stay in Taiwan.

Also present at the event were actress Yana Samsudin and director Fadzil Zahari, who shared their fun experiences in Taipei during their honeymoon and filming of the television series Romantika two years ago.

“It is not hard to find halal restaurants, and there is even one at 101 Taipei, where we dined during our visit,” said Fadzil.

Yana strongly recommended Taipei as a travel destination for Muslim tourists, saying that Muslim-friendly restaurants and facilities were not a problem during her visit, and she was already planning to return with her family.

Taiwan is well known for its beautiful scenery, fine food as well as the people's warm hospitality and Taipei, the capital city, has been a preferred destination for tourists.

“In 2016, the number of Malaysians travelling to Taiwan was more than 474,000.

“This year, in January and February alone, it reached 74,000, which is an increase of 19.3% compared with the same period last year.

“With the upcoming 2017 Taipei Universiade happening from Aug 19 to 30, we are positive this outstanding sports event will attract more Malaysians to Taiwan,” added Chang.

Malaysians visiting Taipei during the Taipei Universiade period will receive one complimentary limited-edition EasyCard that comes with NT$100 (RM14.65) stored value, upon presenting passport and boarding pass.

Full report at:




NU, Muhammadiyah call on members to avoid 313 rally

March 31, 2017

Nahdlatul Ulama executive board chairman Marsudi Syuhud has called on members of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia to refrain from participating in Friday’s mass rally organized by Islamic group the Muslim People’s Forum (FUI).

“In a democratic country, holding a rally is permitted but it must comply with the law,” he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Marsudi said protesters must voice their concerns on a particular issue in a civilized way. “I personally want NU members to not participate in the rally,” he said.

Thousands of supporters of Islamic organizations are set to participate in a mass demonstration, called the 313 rally, on Friday. The rally is a follow up to similar protests held last year on Nov. 4 and Dec. 2 against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

Abdul Mu’ti, the secretary-general of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second largest Islamic organization, said the 313 rally must be conducted in a responsible manner.

“Conveying aspirations and opinions openly to the public via mass media, social media or other forms of media must be carried out in a responsible way through existing rules and laws,” he said as quoted by Antara on Thursday.

Mu’ti said legally, there was no problem with the 313 rally because it was in accordance with the 1945 Constitution, under which all Indonesians had the right to convey their grievances, verbally or in writing.

He said the rally had political content because the protesters were demanding that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo dismiss Ahok from his position.

Full report at:




Indonesia's US-Dollar Sukuk Sale Attracts More Investors

March 31, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia's latest issuance of US-dollar denominated Islamic bonds attracted greater investment from funds in the United States, an Indonesian government official said on Thursday (30/03).

Southeast Asia's largest economy raised $3 billion this week from a dual-tranche sukuk sale, the highest amount the country has ever raised, said Robert Pakpahan, finance ministry's director general of financing and risk management.

US investors bought a total of $790 million of the 5-year and 10-year Islamic bonds, which were priced at 3.4 percent and 4.15 percent, respectively.

In March last year, US investors only subscribed to about $277.5 million of the $2.5 billion sukuk sold by Indonesia, according to government data. The 5-year sukuk was also priced at 3.4 percent at the time, while the 10-year sukuk was priced at 4.55 percent.

The rising interest from American investors came despite Indonesia offering a smaller spread between its yield and that of the US treasury notes.

In the past 12 months, there have been two U.S. interest rate hikes and three rate cuts in Jakarta.

"American investors became more convinced that sukuk is an instrument they can trust with the same quality as the conventional ones," Pakpahan said.

The Indonesian sukuk is now eligible for JPMorgan's EMBI Global Diversified Index, Thomson Reuters' publication IFR reported earlier this week, saying the change had prompted some investors to buy in larger size and made it easier for others to decide to participate.

Pakpahan said Indonesia will sell two more foreign currency-denominated debts this year - in euro and yen. The timing of each issuance would depend on many aspects, including elections in a few European countries, he added.

Last month, Pakpahan told at an investor conference call that the Indonesian government expected to sell a total of $5.5 billion worth of bonds to global markets this year, including the U.S.-dollar sukuk.


Afghan President to Visit Indonesia Next Week, Strengthen Peace-Building Collaboration

Jakarta. Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to visit Indonesia next week, where he will meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to discuss peace-building efforts in Afghanistan, a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said on Thursday (30/03).

Ghani's first official visit to Indonesia on April 5-6 is expected to strengthen relations between the two countries, Ferdy Piay, director general for South and Central Asia at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said.

"The Afghan president wants to see Indonesia’s experience in conflict resolution as an example of 'best practice' that can be applied to current troubles in Afghanistan, in the hopes that our input might support reconciliation processes there," Ferdy said during a press briefing in Jakarta.

He added that Indonesia is eager to continue its ongoing support for peace-building processes in Afghanistan by enhancing programs meant to strengthen national institutions.

Ferdy cited collaboration in police and anti-money laundering training as essential to supporting peace-building in that country.

Ghani is also expected to learn about Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts and deradicalization programs in the hopes of applying new techniques to his own country's programs.

Full report at:




South Asia


27 ISIS militants killed in Afghan commandos operations and airstrikes

30 2017

At least twenty seven militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed during the operations of the Afghan Special Forces (Commandos) and airstrikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army in Eastern Afghanistan said the operations and airstrikes were conducted in the vicinity of Kot district.

The district was once one of the main strongholds of the loyalists of the terror group from where they launched their operations in Afghanistan.

In the meantime, the 201st Corps of the Afghan Army said the Afghan forces and the local residents did not suffer any casualties during the operations.

The provincial police commandment earlier reported that 24 Taliban insurgents including four senior leaders of the group were killed in an airstrike in Ghani Khel district last night.

This comes as the Afghan forces are busy conducting clearance operations under the name of Shaheen-25 operations which were launched more than one ago to suppress the growing insurgency of ISIS terrorist group in Nangarhar province.

Full report at:




10 militants killed in an airstrike in Uruzgan province of Afghanistan

31 2017

At least ten insurgents were killed in an airstrike conducted in the southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of the provincial capital Tarinkot targeting a group of insurgents.

MoD further added that twelve insurgents were also wounded and two vehicles along with a motorcycle in the custody of the militants were destroyed.

In the meantime, MoD said at least 18 militants were killed during a separate operation conducted in Nish district of Kandahar province.

According to MoD, a local leader of the group identified as Rahmatullah was also among those killed.

Full report at:




Militants involved in major target killings arrested by Afghan forces

30 2017

Two militants involved in major target killings have been arrested by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) personnel.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the two individuals were involved in the killing of three Special Forces of the Afghan National Police (ANP) forces.

MoI further added that the two individuals were also involved in at least twenty terrorist attacks in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan.

The ministry did not disclose further information regarding the exact location where the two individuals were arrested.

According to MoI, the two men were also involved in some other criminal activities, including kidnappings and roadside bombings.

This comes as the Afghan forces have been involved in the annual clearance operations conducted under name of Shafaq operations.

However, the Minister of Interior (MoI) Taj Mohammad Jahid said two days ago that another major operation will be launched under the name of Khalid to retake the lost areas.

Full report at:






For Not Singing Vande Mataram, Muslim Councillors In Uttar Pradesh's Meerut Face Expulsion

March 30, 2017

MEERUT:  Seven Muslim councillors in the civic body in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut face expulsion for refusing to sing national song "Vande Mataram".

On Tuesday, a group of Muslim councillors left the meeting hall of the Municipal Corporation House while Vande Mataram was being sung.

For years, those who do not want to sing along have been allowed to leave the hall and return after the song is over. For the first time, however, the councillors are facing tough action. As they were walking out, they were heckled and taunted by their colleagues.

The municipal board was meeting for the first time since a new BJP government led by Yogi Adityanath came to power 11 days ago.

In the row that erupted in the house, Mayor Shrikant Ahluwalia reportedly proposed that the singing of Vande Mataram must be mandatory for all members and those who refuse should be expelled.

The proposal was not allowed by the Municipal Commissioner.

Muslim members say they will move court if needed, as the song is against their religious beliefs. The Sharia law, they say, does not allow them to sing Vande Mataram because it glorifies the country as God.

"The seven Muslim councillors of the House had walked out on Tuesday when other members started singing the national song. They returned after some time, but I refused to let them in," Mr Ahluwalia was quoted as telling the Press Trust of India.

"We will not allow members who are against the singing of Vande Mataram to sit in the House. We will even go to jail, if required," he said.

One of the councillors facing action, Shaahid Abbasi, said: "We are being looked at with suspicion even when we ready to lay down our lives for our country."

Khalid Rasheed of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said, "If you stay and don't sing, it is fine. But if you leave the room, it seems like a walkout, so maybe the councillors should consider that."

In a house of 80, the BJP has the most members - 45. There are 25 Muslim councillors in the Meerut civic body.




Aimed to improve Muslim education, NCPCR engages with Madrasas

March 30, 2017

Atir Khan

A series of consultations initiated by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has initiated a massive exercise of introspection on the state of Muslim basic educational institutions much known as Madrasas of the country.

The NCPCR, which as per the provisions of CPCR Act 2005 is mandated to delve into issues pertaining to children education has been holding consultations in this regard in Delhi, Ranchi, Kaddapa, Bhopal and Nagpur. More than 500 Madrasas and thousands of madarsa- going children have been covered under this exercise.

Talking about the initiative, NCPCR member Priyank Kanoongo said, "During the consultations, there was a consensus over coming up with more madarsa boards and a need to introspect over slow progress of Muslim educational institutions when compared to other religious educational institutions. The need to impart both religious and modern education to madarsa going children was also discussed." 

Muslims though constitute a major component of minority community in India but their state of education has not been up to the mark. Over the last seventy years, the government's policy regarding Muslim education has been seen as a whole part of minority community, which includes Christians, Jains, Budhists and other communities also.

However, there is a view that the problems faced by Muslim community as far as education is concerned is unique and should be dealt with differently. Education to Muslim children is largely imparted through Madrasas and maktabas, which requires a different approach altogether.

Full report at:






Gunmen Assassinate Prominent Minority Activist in Pakistan

March 30, 2017


Unknown gunmen in central Pakistan have killed a prominent local leader of the minority Ahmadi community, a day after a new report spoke of increasing violence against what is referred to as the country’s most persecuted religious sect.

Police and community spokespeople said Malik Saleem Latif, a lawyer by profession, was on his way to a court with his son on their motorbike Thursday in the town of Nankana Sahib when attackers ambushed them and fired at them from behind.

The slain lawyer was the area head of the Ahmadi community and a relative of Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, Professor Abdus Salam, who fled the country in 1974 and lived in Britain to protest enactment of a new constitutional amendment declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims.

The violence came as the Ahmadi sect, in its annual report released Wednesday, documented an unprecedented increase in deadly attacks against its members and worship places across Pakistan in 2016.

“The year ended under great stress and strain for the beleaguered community. Most of the vicious acts took place in the Punjab [province],” the report said.

Thursday’s attack also occurred in the province, the country’s most populous and the political power base of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N.

Codified discrimination

Despite calls for canceling the discriminatory laws against the community, legislation was introduced in 1984 that banned Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims and building their mosques in the country.

The minority group in predominantly Sunni Muslim Pakistan, believes a prophet (Ghulam Ahmad) followed the Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam. But that view runs counter to the Muslim religion's central belief of Mohammad being the last of God's messengers.

Last December, thousands of Islamists stormed the only Ahmadi mosque in a village in Punjab and desecrated the sanctity of the worship place. The attack prompted authorities to call in troops and paramilitary soldiers to disperse the protesters.

Pakistani authorities later locked the worship place to deter more attacks and have since ignored calls from the Ahmadi community to reopen the mosque to allow its members to resume religious activities.

Pakistan’s other religious minorities, particularly Christians, also frequently complain of being targeted by radical Muslims and falsely accused of blasphemy, charges that carry the death penalty.

Full report at:




Joining military alliance won’t hit Pakistan’s neutrality: FO


March 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office believes that Pakistan’s participation in the Saudi-led 39-nation military alliance will not compromise its long-standing policy of neutrality in Middle Eastern affairs as the alliance is being built to fight terrorism.

“You are talking about two different things. The basic purpose of this force is (to) counter terrorism,” FO spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly briefing when asked if Isla­mabad had given up the policy of neutrality in the Middle East by joining the alliance.

However, he noted that the “terms of reference” guiding activities of the alliance were yet to be finalised.

One of the main objections to Pakistan’s involvement with the alliance pertains to the lack of clarity about the terms for the force’s employment and engagement.

‘Terms of reference’ guiding activities of Saudi-led alliance are yet to be finalised: spokesman

Clarifying ambiguity created by the government’s continuous vacillation in public on the question of whether or not Pakistan was part of the Saudi-led alliance formed in Dec 2015, the spokesman said: “We are already part of it.”

The government has recently allowed former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif to lead the alliance’s military force, which is yet to be formed, as its commander.

Mr Zakaria refused to comment on the development. “I have seen the statement made by the minister of defence. I don’t think after what has been said by him and the things which have been discussed in the parliament, I have anything to add,” he said.

Moscow meeting

Asked about Pakistan’s participation in the regional meeting for peace in Afghanistan, to be hosted by Russia on April 14, the spokesman said it was in “accordance with our policy of constructive engagement at all forums relating to Afghan peace”.

He, however, noted that the quadrilateral process involving the US, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan remained “an effective forum”.

t has been almost a year that the Quadrilateral Coor­dination Group members have not met following the killing of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a drone attack in Pakistan.

Mr Zakaria also emphasised the importance of bilateral contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan and referred to the recent meeting in London that helped ease the impasse in ties over terrorist sanctuaries and subsequent reopening of border crossings.

The London meeting between the adviser (to the prime minister on foreign affairs) and Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmer underscored the importance of a bilateral cooperation mechanism to address counterterrorism and border management issues in an amicable manner,” he said.

Full report at:




Five ‘terrorists’ gunned down in Gujrat operation


GUJRAT: At least five alleged terrorists have been gunned down during an operation by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Gujrat district. On a tip-off, the CTD personnel raided a hideout in Kunjah area. On seeing the police party, the alleged terrorists opened indiscriminate fire. The CTD retaliated and gunned down five men allegedly associated with al Qaeda and the TTP while three of their accomplices fled. Police claimed to have seized a huge quantity of weapons and explosives from the hideout. The police said that the killed 'terrorists' were planning to target important national installations located in Gujrat and Kharian areas.

In Jacobabad, police claimed to have foiled a terror attempt to target Kushhal Khan Khattak Express and rounded up a 'terrorist' while planting bomb on the railway track. Police also seized three kilogram of explosives, an IED device, wires, ball bearings and other bomb related material from him. In Punjab, police and Law enforcement agencies carried out search operations in different areas and apprehended 74 suspicious persons including some Afghan nationals.

Full report at:




Complete religious freedom in Pakistan, US told

March 31, 2017

In a meeting with Knox Thames, the US Department of State’s Special Adviser on Religious Minorities in the Near East and South and Central Asia, Fatemi said steps were taken by the government to ensure a more inclusive and progressive Pakistan.

He said that while the world was facing increasing xenophobia and hostility towards minorities, the policies of the government and it's across the board support has clearly shown that the nation has rejected the politics of hate and divisiveness.

Fatemi said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Holi message to the members of the Hindu community, address to religious scholars at Jamia Naeemia and his message on the occasion of Christmas, all serve to highlight the government’s unflinching resolve to fully protect the rights of the minorities, as guaranteed under the constitution of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday dispatched 10,000 MT rice to Sri Lanka in line with the prime minister’s directive to provide all necessary assistance in the wake of severe drought in that country.

Full report at:




Govt to encourage cultural exchanges with Afghanistan: Marriyum

March 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD - State Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb Thursday said the government will continue to encourage people to people contacts and cultural exchanges with Afghanistan in a bid to promote lasting regional peace.

Speaking at a Musical Evening with Pakistan and Afghan Artists with the theme "Celebrating Culture Beyond Boundaries", she said, "we need to speak language of love and music to promote relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Islamabad based Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and Women and Peace Studies Organization in Kabul organized the cultural event at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) here.

The minister said that Pakistan was celebrating 70th anniversary of its independence this year and it was commendable to foster dialogue through music and culture.

She said that Pakistan was grappling with terrorism for the last 35 to 40 years and its army, law enforcement agencies and people have waged a protracted battle to check terrorism in its tracks.

Since 2013, the government led by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have successfully tackled the menace of terrorism through institutional interventions, she continued.

The minister said people especially youth in Pakistan and Afghanistan can connect and work together by sharing their common culture and heritage. She observed, "Peace is the only path to bring prosperity and achieve progress in Pakistan and across the region."

She expressed the hope that dialogue among nations would take the region forward and create conditions for harmony and mutual understanding.

In this regard, she said, people to people contacts and cultural exchanges are very important for fomenting lasting peace in the region and reinforcing efforts for establishing peace.

Full report at:




Pakistan offers to train Iraqi forces

March 31, 2017

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday offered training and technical support to the armed forces of Iraq.

The offer was made by Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Zamir-Ul-Hassan Shah to Iraq ambassador to Pakistan Dr Ali Al-Rahmani during a meeting at the Ministry of Defence.

The defence secretary expressed Pakistan’s desire for peace and prosperity for the Iraqi people and its armed forces.

He offered assistance in developing training infrastructure and capacity-building of Iraqi armed forces by the Pakistan army.

He proposed the establishment of an institutional framework of staff talk’s forum between the two armed forces and suggested reciprocal visits by armed forces delegation for training and logistic establishments and defence production units.

Lt-Gen (retd) Shah also offered PAF services for the development of IT infrastructure and quality control programme for the Iraqi air force.

Full report at:




JI all set to hold sit-in against KE, NEPRA and govt ‘nexus’

March 31, 2017

KARACHI - Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi is going to hold a sit-in against what it calls the nexus between K-Electric (KE), NEPRA and the government on Friday evening on Shahrah-e-Faisal.

JI Karachi chief Engineer Naeem-ur-Rehman, in a statement issued here on Thursday said the demonstration was being held after a long peaceful campaign against the atrocities being carried out by KE against Karachiites.

“During the campaign, JI approached NEPRA and the government officials as well as judiciary for resolution of chronic problems being faced by the people of Karachi,” Naeem said, and added, “Furthermore, the party also held public courts in all parts of the city at which a large number of people showed their helplessness in the face of illegal tactics of the power supply company, besides criminal silence of regulatory authority.”

He said that arrangements for the sit-in had been finalised and a large number of Karachiites will be participating in the protest. “In this regard, review meetings have been held at grassroots level,” he informed. JI Karachi chief firmly said that ‘atrocities’ against Karachiites will not be tolerated anymore.

Full report at:




Arab World


Syrian Army Destroys 40 Main Military Sites of ISIL in Deir Ezzur

Mar 30, 2017

The Syrian and Iraqi military intelligence agencies worked together this week to destroy the ISIL's largest base in Deir Ezzur province, Iraqi military media reported.

According to the report, Iraq's military intelligence unit revealed to their Syrian counterpart this week details about a large ISIL base in the border-town of Albu Kamal.

Using information from their Iraqi allies, the Syrian warplanes bombed and destroyed the ISIL’s large base in Albu Kamal and inflicted a large number of casualties on the terrorists.

In addition to destroying the base, the warplanes also destroyed 39 other ISIL sites in Deir Ezzur province, thanks in large part to the Iraqi military intelligence.

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that the army troops struck ISIL's positions and gathering centers near the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur, destroying the terrorists' command post and military hardware.

A unit of the army engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL and destroyed a command post and two tanks near the regiment 137th region near the town of al-Jeneina.

In the meantime, the army soldiers clashed with ISIL in a power company near al-Taim oilfield South of Deir Ezzur, destroying two ISIL military vehicles and killing all the terrorists on board.




US-led coalition claims ISIS propaganda team killed in Iraq air strike

31 March 2017

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS militants said Thursday that it had killed a propaganda chief and associates in an air strike in the western Iraqi town of al-Qaim.

Ibrahim Al-Ansari was an “important ISIS leader,” said Colonel Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the Baghdad-based coalition. The propaganda official was a leader in propaganda efforts to recruit foreign fighters and encourage “terror attacks” in western countries, Scrocca told reporters.

Full report at:




At least 14 dead in Baghdad checkpoint blast

March 31, 2017

BAGHDAD: At least 14 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at an entrance to Baghdad, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group, officials said Thursday.

The blast, which hit the checkpoint at the main southern entrance to the city on Wednesday night, also wounded at least 36 people, the officials said.

ISIS issued a statement claiming the attack, saying it was carried out by a suicide bomber driving a truck “carrying several tonnes of explosive material.”

The militant group overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since regained much of the territory they lost.

Iraqi security forces are now battling ISIS in west Mosul, the last city in the country in which the militants hold significant ground.

Full report at:




Over 20 Villages, Towns Freed in Syrian Army Operations in Eastern Aleppo

 Mar 30, 2017

The sources said that the army soldiers continued their anti-ISIL operations in Eastern Aleppo and expanded their control over 27 towns and villages around the city of Deir Hafer, restoring security to over 24 km of the international Aleppo-Raqqa highway. The sources added that during the operations the Syrian army inflicted heavy casualties on the ISIL terrorists.

Dozens of armored and machinegun-equipped vehicles of the ISIL were badly destroyed in the attacks, they added.

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that the army men continued to break ISIL's defense lines in Eastern Aleppo and managed to seize back more villages and heights.

The army men continued the battle against the ISIL and took control of the Tal (hill) Mahdum, Al-Sharifah and Kaysumah East of Deir Hafer after intense battle with the terrorists.

Full report at:




Syrian Fighter Jets Launch Heavy Airstrikes on Terrorists' Positions in Lattakia Province

Mar 30, 2017

The warplanes targeted the terrorists' concentration centers in Kabani town and its surroundings in the Kurds Mountain, killing and wounding a number of militants.

The fighter jets also pounded terrorists' gathering centers during heavy night raids in the villages of Tafahia and Yunesiya located on an important supply route between Idlib and Lattakia near the Turkish border North of Lattakia.

The raids resulted in the destruction of a convoy of gunmen heading towards the Lattakia countryside near the Yunesiya crossing, destroying more than 10 SUVs with heavy machine guns loaded with weapons and ammunition.

In the meantime, unofficial reports said that the terrorist groups targeted the city of Jableh in Eastern Lattakia province with several Grad missiles that were intercepted by the air defense system at the Humeimim airbase and were destroyed in the sky near the city before hitting their targets.

Full report at:




Terrorist Centres in Hama Receive Severe Blow in Syrian Armed Forces' Attacks

Mar 30, 2017

The warplanes and artillery units hit the movements and concentration centers of Al-Nusra Front in the villages and towns of Atashan, Skeik, Latamina, Souran, Taybat al-Imam, Ma'ardes, al-Majdal, Khattab, Qatish, Heybat, Kafar Naboudeh, Tal Huvash and Jaberiyeh in Northern Hama and inflicted heavy losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the army troops continued their attacks on terrorists' positions in Northern Hama and regained a number of positions near Souran, expanding control in the vicinity of Ma'arzaf town and Northwest of the town of Qamhana towards the railway line South of Taybat al-Imam.

Sources close to the terrorist groups confirmed on Wednesday that a sum of 69 terrorists, including several top leaders and commanders, were killed and many more were wounded in the Syrian Army's ground and air assaults North of Hama province in the last week.

The coordination center of the terrorists confirmed that a sum of 69 militants, including 10 of their leaders, were killed and dozens more were wounded during the battle with the Syrian army in several villages North and North-East of Hama province from March 21 to 28, 2017.

Full report at:




Syrian Army, Russian Air Force Hit Terrorists' Positions Hard in Homs

Mar 30, 2017

The missile units opened heavy fire at terrorists' defense lines in the outskirt of Talbiseh town, leaving a number of militants dead or wounded.

Also the army's artillery units targeted the positions of terrorist groups in Tir Ma'ala.

The Syrian warplanes, meantime, targeted the military sites of the terrorists in the village of Za’aferaneh and Tir Ma'ala in Northern Homs, while the Russian bombers raided the positions of the terrorists near the town of Rastan.

Reports said on Friday that the Syrian army's special forces known as 'ISIL Hunters' thwarted an assault launched by the terrorist group on their positions to the North of the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province.

During the operations, the army forces, trained by the Russian military experts, killed 24 militants and wounded 12 others in al-Mazar Mountain and the nearby energy fields.

Full report at:




Syrian Soldiers Readying to Carry out Large-Scale Anti-ISIL Offensive in Deir Ezzur

Mar 30, 2017

The sources said that the army's 104th Airborne Brigade and Al-Qassem Group will lead the assault on ISIL's concentration centers, alongside the 123rd Brigade of the 3rd Division and 137th Artillery Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division.

They added that the army soldiers will attempt to recapture the Deir Ezzur provincial cemetery and al-Thardah mountain that overlook Deir Ezzur's strategic military airport.

Currently, a number of army soldiers are under seige at the Deir Ezzur Airport as ISIL maintains control over the main road leading from the provincial capital to the military installation.

Reports said on Tuesday that the army troops in a preemptive move targeted the gatherings and movements of the ISIL terrorists in the Western outskirts of Deir Ezzur, preventing their move towards the city's districts.

The army soldiers stormed ISIL's gathering centers and movements in al-Sonouf hill near 137th regiment region and foiled their attack on al-Tanmiyeh district in the Western outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, killing the entire members of the group and destroying their equipment and bulldozer.

Full report at:




Gulf ministers condemn Iran’s support to Bahrain ‘terrorists’

March 31, 2017

RIYADH  -  Gulf ministers meeting in Riyadh on Thursday condemned what they termed Iran’s support for “terrorist gangs” in Bahrain and urged Tehran to stop fueling “sectarian conflicts”.

In a statement issued at the end of a meeting in Riyadh, the ministers of the Arab states of the Gulf expressed “condemnation of the provocative and irresponsible statements, and acts of aggression by the Iranian regime towards the kingdom of Bahrain”.

They also deplored Tehran’s “support to terrorist gangs” and accused it of “fueling sectarian strife to harm national unity in the kingdom”. The ministerial council urged Iran to “abandon politics that lead to nourishing sectarian and confessional conflicts, and to stop forming and supporting groups and militias that fuel these conflicts in Arab states”.

Bahrain and fellow Gulf monarchies have repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in the kingdom’s internal affairs, a charge that Tehran categorically denies. Bahrain frequently claims busting terror cells formed by members of its majority Shia majority. Many have been tried and jailed over charges of belonging to such groups.

The tiny kingdom has seen sporadic protests and clashes since security forces quelled Shiite-led protests in 2011 that demanded political reforms. Bahrain is strongly backed by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the heavyweight and regional rival of Iran.

The two countries are at odds in the Syrian conflict, where Iran supports the regime of President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh backs the opposition.

Full report at:






Israeli cabinet approves first West Bank settlement in 20 years

March 31, 2017

Israel's security cabinet on Thursday approved the building of the first new settlement in the occupied West Bank in two decades, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu negotiates with Washington on a possible curb on settlement activity.

The unanimous vote in favor of construction of the new settlement in an area called Emek Shilo came after Netanyahu earlier told reporters: "I made a promise that we would establish a new settlement ... We will keep it today."

The result of the vote was announced in a government statement.

Palestinian officials swiftly condemned the move.

"Today's announcement once again proves that Israel is more committed to appeasing its illegal settler population than to abiding by the requirements for stability and a just peace," said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

There was no immediate reaction from U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, which is in discussions with Israel on limiting the construction of settlements on land Palestinians seek for a state.

Such settlements, in territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, are deemed illegal by most of the world. Israel cites biblical, historical and political links to the land, as well as security interests, to defend its actions.

Netanyahu first promised the new settlement at Emek Shilo in February, shortly before dozens of Israeli families were evicted from another West Bank settlement called Amona. Their houses were razed after Israel's Supreme Court said they were built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land.

Establishing a new settlement may be a way for Netanyahu to appease far-right members of his coalition government who are likely to object to any concessions to U.S. demands for restraints on building.

Israeli political sources, however, said the new construction would actually take place within the boundaries of an existing settlement. The new community would then be declared its own settlement, a nuance that might be enough to stave off possible U.S. opposition to the move.

Trump, who had been widely seen in Israel as sympathetic toward settlements, appeared to surprise Netanyahu during a White House visit last month when he urged him to "hold back on settlements for a little bit".

The two then agreed that their aides would try to work out a compromise on how much Israel can build and where.

Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, this week wrapped up a second trip to the region aimed at reviving Middle East peace talks that collapsed in 2014.

A new settlement would be the first built in the West Bank since 1999. About 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank which is also home to 2.8 million Palestinians. Another 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians want the West Bank and East Jerusalem for their own state, along with the Gaza Strip.




Nine Yemeni civilians killed in separate Saudi airstrikes

Mar 31, 2017

Nine Yemeni civilians have been killed during Saudi airstrikes on residential areas in the provinces of Sa’ada and Sana’a as the civilian casualties of Riyadh’s military campaign keeps growing.

According to Yemen’s al-Masirah television, a Saudi airstrike on a market in Sa’ada Province left four people dead and two others wounded on Thursday.

In another such attack on the Bani Hareth district of Sana’a Province, a woman lost her life and a child was injured. Saudi warplanes also pounded Yemeni homes in the Nihm district of Sana’a Province, killing three people and wounding two others.

Meanwhile, another woman was also killed in artillery attacks by pro-Saudi militias in Ta’izz Province.

In response, Yemeni armed forces ambushed Saudi troops in the mountainous areas of Saudi Arabia’s southern Jizan Province, killing four of them.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a brutal military campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The kingdom has also imposed an aerial and naval blockade on its impoverished southern neighbor.

The Saudi aggression, which seeks to restore Yemen’s ex-government to power, has killed over 12,000 Yemenis, according to the latest tallies.

Over the past two years, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, has been running state affairs and defending the nation against Saudi aggression, backed by the army and popular groups.

On Thursday, the Yemeni Foreign Ministry slammed the Arab League’s support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen in a declaration issued at the end of its annual summit in Jordan.

Full report at:




Saudi general makes obscene gesture to Yemen war protester

Mar 31, 2017

Saudi military spokesman Major General Ahmed Asiri has escaped a citizen’s arrest over the Arab kingdom’s war crimes in Yemen.

Video footage released on Thursday showed British activist Sam Walton confronting Asiri on a street in London, where he was due to deliver a speech at a think-tank forum.

In the video, the activist can be heard saying, “You’re interrupting a citizen’s arrest,” while Asiri’s bodyguards blocked the attempted arrest.

The Saudi general then made an offensive hand gesture towards Walton.

Asiri was also reportedly pelted with eggs thrown by protesters before he entered the venue for the European Council on Foreign Relations meeting. 

“Asiri represents a regime that has killed thousands in Yemen and shown a total contempt for international law. Asiri shouldn’t be welcomed and treated like a dignitary, he should be arrested and investigated for war crimes,” Walton said.

Full report at:




US warns Iran over Houthi support, says militias threatening Red Sea

30 March 2017

United States President Donald Trump’s administration has warned Iran again over its financial and material support of Houthis in Yemen and reiterated the danger the militias are posing to international waters over the control of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait. The warnings came Army General Joseph Votel told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the US does not want Yemen to be used as a sanctuary for attacks against the US.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, a strategic passage for world trade.

"I am extraordinarily concerned about another contested maritime chokepoint in the region," Votel said, referring to tensions with Iran over the Strait of Hormuz.

His warnings to Congress comes just days after White House officials confirmed that the Trump administration are mulling US actions in Yemen, specifically against Houthi militias to liberate the strategic al-Hudaydah port.

Full report at:




Iran to US: Stop harassing Persian Gulf states

Mar 30, 2017

Iran’s defense minister has called on the US to leave the Persian Gulf and stop harassing regional countries.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the remarks on Thursday in response to recent hostile comments by US officials against the Islamic Republic.

“What is the US doing in the Persian Gulf? They better leave this region and not harass the regional countries,” Dehqan said, adding, “Is it acceptable that an ignorant armed robber breaks into someone’s house and expects to get red carpet treatment? This is an instance of modern, 21st century barbarism.”

The remarks come at a time of increased belligerence shown against Iran by the administration of President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, US Army General Joseph Votel, who heads the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said Washington should consider using “military means” against Iran.

Votel described Tehran as “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the Middle East and accused Iran of “destabilizing” the region through “lethal aid facilitation,” using “surrogate forces” and cyber operations.

Earlier this month, the US Navy claimed that its aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush had been "harassed" and "threatened" by Iranian vessels while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Full report at:




North America


FBI report claims teen planned Paris-style attacks in New York


March 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD: A US citizen of Pakistani origin was planning to carry out Paris-style attacks on “heavily populated areas” in New York City, revealed a report shared by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with Pakistani authorities.

The FBI report, handed over to the interior ministry for extradition of the 18-year-old suspect Talha Haroon, says that he, along with his co-conspirator and an undercover FBI agent, “plotted to carry out deadly bombings in heavily populated areas of New York City in the name of the [IS]”.

The report claimed that Haroon was stationed in Pakistan in April of last year and planned attacks on the New York Subway, Times Square and a concert.

The report also claimed that Mr Haroon had been associated with the Taliban in the past and had later switched his allegiance to IS.

The FBI report mentioned that IS had claimed responsibility for the following terrorist attacks: “On or about November 13, and 14, 2015 a group of attackers carried out attacks in Paris, France which killed approximately 130 people; On or about March 22, 2016, a group of attackers carried out bombings in Brussels, Belgium, which killed at least 32 people; On or about June 12, 2016, an attacker carried out a mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing approximately 49 people”.

But the 64-page report did not disclose how the teenager was inducted into IS or how much funding the terrorist group had committed or provided to the suspects.

The report quoted a communication between Mr Haroon with the undercover agent: “While he (Haroon) did not presently have enough money to buy a plane ticket from Pakistan to New York City for [the] purpose of carrying out the attack, he would do everything in [his] power to get a ticket, including selling some of his personal property.”

The report also singled out “an unidentified co-conspirator… being associated with a certain overseas country, as a prospective contributor to funding for the attack on New York City”. The report claimed that the unidentified financier sent “several hundred dollars” for the operation.

The report claimed that the suspects wanted to carry out terrorist attacks between June and July 2016.

The investigators mainly relied upon communications between the co-conspirator, the undercover agent and Mr Haroon, who they believed wanted to kill scores of Americans.

Planned attacks

The FBI report quoted a communication between the co-conspirator and Mr Haroon from May 12, 2016: “We just walk in with guns in our hands. That’s how the Paris guys did it. You just walk in and shoot anyone who says anything.”

According to Special Agent Oscar M. Gifford of the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, who was a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force investigating the case: “I believe the co-conspirator’s reference to the ‘Paris guys’ was a reference to the IS supporters who planned and executed joint terrorist attacks at various locations, including a concert hall in Paris, France, on or about November 13 and 14, 2015. Based on my review of open source materials, I am aware that IS claimed responsibility for the Paris attack.”

The report claimed that Mr Haroon wanted to carry out an attack in NYC around June 2016. It said that the suspects “identified multiple potential targets of their plot to launch terrorist attacks in New York City”. One target was the New York subway, Times Square was another. The report claimed that the suspects “discussed plans to detonate a car bomb in Times Square”.


According to the report, on or about Sept 22, 2016, the FBI was advised that Mr Haroon had recently been taken into custody in Pakistan. On Sept 27, Mr Haroon was charged in a criminal complaint before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The complaint charged Mr Haroon on five counts of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit act of terrorism, conspiring to bomb a place of public use and public transportation, conspiring to provide material support or resources to terrorists and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation.

Each of the five charges count as a separate offence and each charged offence is punishable under US law with more than one year of imprisonment.

But even though the Islamabad district administration completed the process of Mr Haroon’s extradition at the request of US authorities, the Islamabad High Court stayed the extradition on March 27, 2017 with a direction to the federal government to respond to a petition filed by Mr Haroon’s father.

The petitioner had claimed that since Mr Haroon did not commit any offence in the US, the American government could not seek his custody.

Ayesha Haroon, the suspect’s sister who is also a US citizen, told Dawn that her brother had been in Pakistan for 14 months and could not have planned the series of attacks he was accused of plotting. She insisted that the case against her brother was baseless.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2017




Trump administration appealing halt of revised Muslim ban

Mar 30, 2017

The US Justice Department has submitted a notice to appeal a ruling from a Hawaii federal judge that indefinitely blocked President Donald Trump's travel restrictions on people from several Muslim-majority countries.

Two weeks ago, US District Judge Derrick Watson was the first to rule against the president’s revised executive order, saying that the state of Hawaii had established that the law could not be enforced because it was unconstitutional.

The ruling blocked the travel ban on the grounds that it violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by disfavoring Muslims.

But Watson's initial decision was designed to last only a couple of weeks.

On Wednesday night however, Watson agreed to convert that decision into a longer-term preliminary injunction, extending his previous temporary restraining order.

On Thursday, the Justice Department announced to file an appeal to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which had already ruled against the initial travel ban.

"The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the federal district court's ruling. The President's executive order fails squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation's security, and the department will continue to defend this executive order in the courts," a department spokesperson said in a statement.

Full report at:




Muslim Student Union aims to educate students on Islam         

March 29, 2017

Noha Ayoub, a sophomore majoring in law, history and culture, was surprised by the student body’s willingness to learn about Islam.

Ayoub helped plan the Muslim Student Union’s 10th annual Islam Awareness Week, which started on Monday and brought renowned keynote speakers such as scholars Dalia Mogahed and Ustadh Usama Canon to campus.

Ayoub, who serves as secretary of the MSU, is extremely passionate about educating others on the religion and said she hopes to create a sense of community and solidarity.

“My hope is to create conversation where there would not have been within the student body in particular,” Ayoub said. “For us, it’s about connecting to our student body, so that other students are aware that we’re here and that we contribute quite a bit to our community on campus.”

The Muslim population at USC has only grown over the past few years, and the USC Office of Religious life estimates that there are up to a 1,000 Muslim students on campus.

This means that the Muslim population makes up 2.3 percent of the student body; these Muslim students being both American-born and from Muslim-majority nations such as Indonesia.

Muslim Student Union President Aamna Asif, a junior majoring in health and human sciences, explained that the week is one of the most important events of the year for the organization, and that the central goal this year is to inform students on how to navigate and comprehend Islam.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about our religion and the events that we’re holding this week are aimed to clear up some of those misconceptions,” Asif said.

Through activities such as dinners with Muslim speakers, mosque sermon visits and calligraphy workshops, Asif hopes to continue developing a stronger Muslim community and to foster a diverse, yet unified identity in the larger USC community.

“I feel like there’s this whole other side to Islam, the actual side of Islam that no one knows about,” Asif said. “We’re trying to get those people that want to learn, that want to be informed, instead of formulating their opinions on what a select few people that don’t know anything about the religion have to say about it.”

In light of the current presidency and political climate, Ayoub explains that she hopes the event will raise support from other students.

Full report at:




ACT for America is anything but a hate group

Marshall Frank

March 31, 2017

A recent FLORIDA TODAY article by J.D. Gallop centered on an organization called ACT for America, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) allegation that the group is “anti-Muslim.”

ACT currently has over 1,000 neighborhood-based chapters in the United States that meet periodically to discuss and inform concerned Americans with updates about threats and acts of terrorism around the world. Locally, the Space Coast Chapter meets in Viera once a month, often inviting knowledgeable authorities as guest speakers including moderate Muslims, former Muslims, politicians and intelligence experts on terrorism worldwide.

According to the article, the SPLC broad-brushes the ACT chapter in the same breath with the Ku Klux Klan in Cocoa as “hate groups.” It’s not uncommon for contradictory folks to arbitrarily throw around labels such as “racists,” or “Islamaphobic,” categorizing everyone as bigots in the likes of Hitler or the KKK. Truth is, the ACT chapter in Viera, whose meetings I occasionally attend, opens all their meetings with an announcement that ACT does not discriminate nor condemn the Islamic religion or peaceful Muslims. They specifically focus on the extremist elements that pose a danger to civilization and to America. They merely inform.

How is that similar to the KKK?

According to thereligionofpeace.com, which tallies terrorism around the world, there have been over 30,000 acts of Islamist-based terror attacks in which innocent people were killed en masse since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. These brutal, senseless assaults have one common denominator: radical Islamic. In the month of February alone, Islamic murderers were responsible for 166 attacks, worldwide, in which 1008 innocents lost their lives, including many Muslims

These facts are not concocted from thin air. If anything, people of our community should be ever grateful that a number of dedicated Americans volunteer their time and effort to provide fellow citizens a wealth of knowledge about this murderous blight on society. What’s the alternative? Pretend it doesn’t exist?

Ignoring Islam in the 30,000-plus attacks since 9/11 would be like ignoring Germany, in general, during the rise of Nazism. Sure, most Germans were good people, but they didn’t matter in the scheme of things. The violent minority prevailed and 50 million people lost their lives in WWII. We cannot ignore the Islamic connection to terrorism when facts clearly tell the truth.

ACT is led by a brilliant Lebanese-born woman named Brigitte Gabriel, who is well known to news pundits, schools and lecture circuits around America. Ms. Gabriel grew up during the purge of Christians in Lebanon in the 1970s and eventually migrated to the United States to work as a freelance journalist. She is a high-energy phenom who has lived through terrorism in her lifetime, understands radical Islam from the inside, speaks several languages, has written several books and is now a passionate American whose primary goal is to inform people, and their representatives, of the dangers that lurk from Islamic extremism. I’ve heard her speak; I have read her books. She does not preach hatred or anything close to it. Rather, she identifies how and when Islamic radicalism is cloaked in legitimacy. Her books are powerful.

Full report at:




Muslim activist wows SRO crowd at library

Mar 31, 2017

Soraya Deen, a spiritual activist, lawyer and author, gave a 40-minute talk Thursday night to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

Here are some things the native of Sri Lanka offered to the appreciative Corvallis City Club audience about being a Muslim woman in America:

“These are challenging times. There is so much to say and some aren’t speaking. Hate has gone viral. It’s gone global. This is a defining moment, for American and for Muslims.”

On her father’s influence: “He always said 'what can I do today to help someone?’ All of us flow to the same sea. We are all diverse.”

Paraphrasing 19th-century black leader Frederick Douglass: “It’s hard to repair all the men, but you can raise strong kids.”

“My story is possible only in America. You make the time to come to listen to me. This is about you making time and being willing to come listen to something new.”

On the sixth anniversary of 9/11, when she picked up her 7-year-old at school: “He was sobbing. And when I asked him what was wrong he asked me ‘mommy, are we terrorists?’ The words he used are really very important. It made me take a fresh look at what is happening. It was a defining moment in my life.”

“What is damaging us is when we put all Muslims into one group and say all Muslims are extremists.”

“We are here to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. It is a beautiful document.”

While showing a slide of a chariot and its team of horses with the headline “be the change”: “I’m the driver. I am responsible for what I am saying and doing.”

On the media: ‘Imagine a world in which our leader says something so positive that we can open our newspaper and have a smile on our face. We can change the conversation. We can change the energy.”

Paraphrasing the Dalai Lama: “If peace is to come, it will be led by women.”

“I love this country. It has given me the space to spread my wings and let my voice be heard.”

On her change of career from attorney to activist: “My son had been born and I was staying at home with him. And I thought ... how can I leave a legacy? We have plenty of lawyers. We need more peace-making. It was a very profound feeling.”

“Terrorists are sick. They think it is necessary to kill for what they believe. It is a perverted vision of how to live.”

“We are all going through a journey. With social media, something happens 1,000 miles away and we see it in our living from. We didn’t used to see it.”

“How can we have a civil discourse? It’s hard to change ourselves. You don’t resolve it in one day ... and every enemy is someone you don’t know.”

Full report at:






Time to appoint Chief Imam for National Mosque Abuja

Mar 31 2017

The delay from controversies over the appointment of a Chief Imam for the National Mosque Abuja has become of concern to the Muslim Ummah. It is evident that the politics which has marred the selection process has nothing to do with Islam. In Islam, there is no vacuum in leadership. It is over two years that the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Ustaz Musa Muhammad, died at the age 68.

 Since then, it is very worrisome that the leadership of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) in consultation with the Muslim elite in Nigeria has been unable to appoint a Chief Imam to replace him. How much more of time is required to fill this very sensitive position for the benefit of the Muslim Ummah of Nigeria? However, it is discouraging that Muslims have been at loggerhead over the selection basically on personal interests, whims and caprices.

 The National Mosque even before the demise of Ustaz Muhammad, who was the pioneer Chief Imam, had three deputies, who conscientiously were appointed to strike a balance. They are all PhD holders appointed in July 2012 after thorough screenings for which the pioneer Chief Imam was also requested to undergo. They are Dr. Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari, Sheikh Ahmad Onilewura and Dr. Muhammad Adam Muhammad. The three have been leading the Friday prayers in turn for such a long time that the need for the appointment of one of them is ripe. However, it was Sheikh Maqari who led the first Jum’at service after the death of the Chief Imam. He also conducted the wedding of the daughter of President Muhammad Buhari, Zara.

 Sheikh Muhammad, from Jos, capital of Plateau State, had spent over 30 years as the Chief Imam having been appointed in 1985 when the Mosque was ready for use. The then President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari described him as an inspirational leader who preached love among men and women and fought hard to diminish cleavages and divisive tendencies in Nigeria.

 Since 2015, there have been insinuations that a new Chief Imam would be appointed. There was a time the news flickered that an Imam has been appointed which the Secretary General of NSCIA, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede dissipated, saying that the three deputy Imams would be acting on rotational basis till when the Abuja National Mosque management committee headed by Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Ibrahim, would meet and make recommendations to the NSCIA before a new and substantive Chief Imam would be appointed. It is believed that politics has taken over the process. It is quite possible that the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar has received the report from the Abuja National Mosque management committee.

 It is worrisome why the controversies have persisted while the method of choosing an Imam or leader in Islam is stated in the Qur’an, clearly exemplified by noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and adhered to by the companions and the guided salaf. The Imam can be chosen by consensus (ijma’), by consultation and the exchange of views among the prominent members of the Muslim community or by the Imam nominating his own successor as it happened in the case of Umar who was appointed by Abu Bakr without any objection being raised by the Muslims.

 In Fiqh as-Sunnah volume 2, page 56, the one who should be Imam is the one who is the most versed in the Qur’an. If two or more people are equal in this regard, then it is the one who has the most knowledge of the sunnah. If they are equal in that, then it is the one who performed the migration first. If they are equal in that, then it should be the eldest.

 Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The one who is most versed in Allah's Book should act as Imam for the people, but If they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who has most knowledge regarding Sunnah if they are equal regarding the Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate; it they emigrated at the same time, then the earliest one to embrace Islam. No man must lead another in prayer where (the latter) has authority, or sit in his place of honour in his house, without his permission.

 The Imam must possess all the qualities required of a believing Muslim. Apart from the moral and physical requirements, the Imam must be the most knowledgeable, most wise, most courageous, most generous, and most God-fearing. Having a PhD is not the issue. The three deputy Imams should undergo series of screenings to get one Chief Imam for the Nigerian Muslim Ummah. Merely as an observer and a worried Muslim on this lingering matter, I have monitored their sermons and Islamic activities and found them worthy. I think there is no need for an Imam from outside the three. But however, there are assurances that the recitation/knowledge of the Qur’an, composure during Friday activities and knowledge in the fiqh of prayer and sunnah cannot be equal. One should, therefore, be appointed and the two remain deputies. If there be the need for more deputies, the committee saddled with that responsibilities should do justice.

 Three of them, I repeat, are exceptionally qualified. But some things uncommon reveal of Sheikh Ibrahim Maqary. His Arabic accent is uncommon; why not for an associated professor of Arabic. His sermons often depict scholarly insights. He conducts the Friday sermons without papers, a style of best Imams in the home of knowledge - Egypt, where he graduated from Al-Azhar University, Cairo. No student of Islamic knowledge can undermine the position of Al-Azhar in the preservation of Islamic library. Students who studied well in Al-Azhar University are exceptionally and credibly wonderful. They are like the day and nothing can be more convincing and intellectually compelling to admit.

 Part of the controversies over the appointment of the chief Imam is resulting from the fundamentalism and Islamic sect each of the three deputies professes and belongs to. That is by the way. The seat of the Imam transcends sects. The appointed must be for all Muslims of Nigeria. Term and conditions for the position must be spelt out so that the chosen would sign to accept the offer. And peradventure the bond is violated, the law should apply.

 And we pray and yearn to have a Chief Imam for our National Mosque as soon as possible, an Imam who will be humble not pompous and arrogant; energetic and vibrant not weak, nationalistic not tribalistic, generous not selfish, humane not insensitive, forbearing not overbearing; and the one who is abreast with Nigerian and global politics not conservative and reserved.




South Africa: Minister Pandor - Uncle Kathy Was Warm and Loving

29 MARCH 2017

Johannesburg — Ahmed 'Kathy' Kathrada is remembered by most as a man of great integrity, for never being silent about what he stood for and his courage to speak truth to power.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor is one of those who gathered to pay tribute to Kathrada, who was laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Minister Pandor remembered Uncle Kathy, as he was affectionately known, as a warm and loving person.

The Minister spoke to SAnews just after the burial of the struggle stalwart.

"He was a very approachable person. Everyone could approach him, young or old," said the Minister.

She said Kathrada had no pride or vanity. "He had brilliant humour, by the way. People are not talking about that. He told brilliant jokes."

She said Kathrada was in the liberation movement with her parents, particularly her father, Joe Mathews.

"They would meet, even after they have retired, for tea just to reflect on the good old days and the struggle, but also what needs to be done.

She also remembers Kathrada as a fellow Member of Parliament. "He never gave us problems. When he had to be in Parliament, he was always there. I feel that he is a man who would always do his duty and go beyond it. He has always shown commitment in all that he has done, and he executed what needs to be done with discipline."

Kathrada's funeral was attended by people from all walks of life, including various faith based organisations. Muslim rites were observed at the Heroes Acre in Westpark Cemetery.

Two former Presidents of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, sat near Kathrada's coffin in a marquee that covered over a thousand mourners at the burial site.

Full report at:






Muslim community prays in fear since Quebec shooting, mosque president says


Mar. 30, 2017

The mosque president walked into court, and averted his eyes from the man handcuffed in the prisoners’ box who is accused of firing on worshippers after their evening prayers, killing six of them and leaving a community in turmoil.

Mohamed Yangui insisted on attending the court appearance on Thursday of Alexandre Bissonnette, the 27-year-old who faces six counts of first-degree murder in the January shooting at Quebec’s Grand Mosque. When Mr. Yangui entered the courtroom, the slightly built Mr. Bissonnette turned his head toward the door and followed Mr. Yangui with his eyes. Mr. Yangui did not return the gaze.

The Muslim community is still scarred from the attack, he said, unsettled by fears that people remain at physical risk in their house of worship.

“We are terrified,” Mr. Yangui said to reporters outside court. “When I go to the mosque these days, I can’t pray properly. I always have the feeling there’s somebody behind me who will shoot me.”

The court appearance by Mr. Bissonnette was brief – it lasted about six minutes – and took place after intense security procedures requiring visitors to empty their purses and pockets and pass through a metal detector. Mr. Bissonnette, who also faces five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm, changed lawyers and will be represented by a legal-aid team.

The former Laval University political-science student, dressed in a loose black sweatshirt, appeared alert and scanned the public-seating area several times from his glassed-in enclosure.

As the legal process slowly continues, the Muslim community struggles with the shooting’s aftermath. Mr. Yangui said one young girl insists on sleeping with the clothing of her father, who was killed in the assault. Worshippers at the mosque are careful to keep their sons close by when they attend prayer services.

The mosque has also formed groups to keep watch while others pray.

Members of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec have been in touch at least three times with provincial police, once to report a threatening letter and twice when suspicious men have shown up at the mosque. Mr. Yangui noted that mosque members had spotted Mr. Bissonnette several times before the Jan. 29 shooting.

“We have become more vigilant,” he said.

Mr. Yangui said he hopes the Crown will follow through with terrorism-related charges against Mr. Bissonnette.

“We’ve got six dead. We’ve got 17 orphans. We’ve got six widows. We’ve got 39 survivors who aren’t living their lives normally,” Mr. Yangui said. “We’ve got a very heavy toll.”

One man, Aymen Derbali, remains in intensive care with a bullet lodged in the back of his neck, and another man injured in the rampage was readmitted to hospital this week, the mosque president said.

While political figures called the mosque rampage a terrorist act, Mr. Bissonnette has not been charged with terrorism-related offences. Police continue their investigation.

Jean-Félix Charbonneau, a lawyer who is part of a team giving pro-bono legal support to the Muslim cultural centre, says prosecutors have to prove offences meet the legal definition of terrorism to lay such charges. That includes searching for clues from such things as Mr. Bissonnette’s computer as well as his social and family life that might offer evidence “related to his intentions,” Mr. Charbonneau said.

The next court date has been set for May 29 to allow the Crown to complete its disclosure of evidence. The Crown said Mr. Bissonnette will not need to be present for his next court date.




German official wants ‘Islam law’ to shed light on funding & teachings by ‘imported imams’

31 Mar, 2017

Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister has called for the introduction of an “Islam law” which should enable more transparency in the Muslim community's affairs by setting up an official mosque registry and encouraging imams to conduct services in German.

Jens Spahn, member of Chancellor Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) party, has called for significant changes in the way Islam is being practiced in Germany, the Funke Media Group reported on Thursday, according to Die Zeit.

The introduction of an “Islam law” the politician argued, would insure transparency into wider Muslim community practices, in a country whose imams often come from abroad and are financed from foreign sources.

In particular, Spahn called for language tests for the Islamic clerics, adding that it is important for imams to deliver teachings in German to help diminish prejudice against Muslims.

“Such imported imams lead to social disintegration,” he said, adding that Catholic sermons could be understood by everyone, unlike those held in Turkish or Arabic. German sermons, the politician said would also help the German authorities to know “what happens in mosques”.

Spahn also demanded that mosques in Germany be registered since at the moment authorities don’t know “how many mosques there are in Germany, where they are or who finances them.”

The deputy finance minister said currently, there is no central representative for Muslims living in Germany and that the current Islamic associations in the country only represent a very conservative form of religion.

“They speak only for a minority of Muslims. They are the wrong partners,” said Spahn.

To get the proposed law on the road, Spahn urged the federal government to allocate money for training imams, religion teachers and counsellors.

“That will be a hard debate, but I would rather we finance this than that the money comes from Turkey or Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that an additional “church tax” for Muslim communities could be imposed.

Full report at:




Multiple stabbings reported outside Turkish embassy in Brussels

30 March 2017

Sources say at least three people have been stabbed outside the Turkish embassy in Brussels stabbing leaves ‘three people injured’ outside, Al Arabiya’s news correspondent has reported.

Turkish nationals are currently taking part in a referendum that will decide whether to hand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power.

Full report at:




Muslim mayor stresses diversity after London attack, but Britons still uneasy

By Catherine Pepinster

 March 29, 2017

LONDON (RNS) A long mound of roses, bouquets and Union Jacks — arranged neatly on the sidewalk — stretches toward the gates of Parliament.

They’ve been brought there by Britons and visitors since the March 22 attack on Westminster Bridge, in which a terrorist drove a car into pedestrians, killing three and injuring dozens, and fatally stabbed a police officer.

The tribute outside Westminster Palace, the seat of Parliament, suggests that many Britons perceive the attack as an assault on democracy itself.

“We stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and our way of life,” Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, said in a video after the attack.

The mayor said that the atrocity highlighted through its victims what a diverse city Britain’s capital has become. The dead and injured included a British national of Spanish extraction, a tourist from Utah, as well as people from France, South Korea and Romania and schoolchildren from Liverpool.

Khan said “terrorists … hate the fact that here in London Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus — those who are part of organized faith and those who aren’t — don’t simply tolerate each other, we respect each other.”

Khan, a Muslim, represents the contemporary diversity of Britain and particularly its capital, and the extent to which people of faiths other than Christianity have become prominent, and accepted, figures in British society.

And yet Britain is not entirely a nation at ease with its diversity.

“Islamophobia is our last blind spot,” said Sayeeda Warsi, who was Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet minister.

Twenty-five years ago, it was race and nation of origin that was controversial in Britain.

In 1990, during the Thatcher era, Norman Tebbit, a prominent Thatcherite lieutenant, proposed a “cricket test” for immigrants — a suggestion that people coming from some Commonwealth nations supported their native countries’ cricket teams rather than the English team of the very English summer sport.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and then the July 7, 2005, bombings in London, all perpetrated by Islamic jihadists, religion became the issue for some in Britain.

Khan himself passes the cricket test, and then some. The son of a Pakistani bus driver, he grew up in the working-class London suburb of Tooting and then worked as a solicitor before running for office. He left the House of Commons to campaign for election as mayor in 2016.

The first Muslim mayor of a Western capital, he has been vocal about improving community relations and has suffered opprobrium from both extremists from his own faith and the British far-right. As well as being open about his Sunni Muslim identity, Khan also speaks regularly of his patriotism, appearing at a football match last weekend supporting the England team.

But memories are long. Ever since the London bombings, in which suicide bombers killed 52 people and injured 700 on three Tube trains and a bus, it is noticeable that the last empty seat in a carriage is always the one next to a Muslim carrying a rucksack.

Warsi, who served as minister for faith and communities under former Prime Minister David Cameron, said British Muslims suffer hostility all the time.

“Islamophobia is socially acceptable,” she said.

Warsi has just published a book, “The Enemy Within,” in which she recounts tales of anti-Muslim prejudice but is optimistic, given that previous enemies within, such as Roman Catholics, have now been assimilated into British society. The downside, though, is that assimilation took 300 years from the English Reformation to Catholic emancipation.

Warsi argues that the British government’s Prevent strategy, first introduced by Labour in 2003 and which orders all public-sector workers such as doctors and teachers to prevent people being drawn into terrorism, is counterproductive and alienates Muslims.

She told The Sunday Times in an interview a few days before the latest attack that the way Muslims are treated is “McCarthyistic.”

“What Muslims see is daily vilification. They’re sick to death of this giant LED spotlight following them around everywhere,” she said.

Rather than Islam causing terrorism, said Warsi, those who engage in it already have convictions, are alienated from their families or are confused about their sexuality.

Two of these at least were true of Khalid Masood, a convert to Islam who drove the car used in the Westminster attack and who was shot dead by a policeman after the attack.

Full report at:




US names Islamic State fighters, British cleric to ‘terror’ blacklist

March 31, 2017

WASHINGTON, United States — The US State Department named British radical Islamic cleric Anjem Choudary and the Islamic State group’s “Beatles” execution squad member El Shafee Elsheikh to its “designated terrorist” lists on Thursday.

The two were among seven backers and foreign fighters of jihadist groups added to the State and Treasury Department blacklists of “specially designated global terrorists,” which place them under global financial sanctions.

Others added to the lists include Mark John Taylor of New Zealand, who joined the Islamic State in 2014; Trinidadian Shane Dominic Crawford, another IS foreign fighter; and Tunisian-born Swede Sami Bouras, whom the State Department called a member of Al-Qaeda involved in planning suicide attacks.

Also included were Muhammad Bahrun Naim Anggih Tamtomo of Indonesia and Muhammad Wanndy Bin Mohamed Jedi of Malaysia.

Naim is a Syria-based planner and financier for Islamic State, while Jedi works with IS in Syria and Iraq to recruit new fighters from abroad.

Choudary is the only one of the seven not at liberty. The former lawyer of Pakistani descent was jailed in September 2016 for encouraging support for IS jihadists.

Elsheikh, also British, is a member of an Islamic State “execution cell” dubbed “The Beatles”, which is accused of multiple beheadings of captives, according to the State Department.

Full report at:




French have become less xenophobic but still wary of Islam, study reveals

30 March 2017

Despite jihadist terrorist attacks and the refugee crisis an annual survey measuring levels of racism in France has revealed the French are becoming more tolerant of minorities, and that there has been a drop in the number of racist and anti-Semitic incidents.

The survey, carried out by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), revealed on Thursday the French were more tolerant to minorities compared to previous years.

The annual survey by the rights commission linked to the government is carried out to get an idea of levels of racism, xenophobia and intolerance in the country.

After the studies of the last three years suggested levels of racist acts were on the rise, the 2017 survey has shown a decrease.

"Paradoxically, despite the extremely tense context of the tragic terror attacks, we can see the continuation of an appeasement and an openness," the report read.

"Despite what you may think, fear of terrorism has created more national cohesion than it has demolished."

"Racist comments and behaviour is being deemed to be more intolerable by the French."

Indeed, the stats show that the number of reported acts of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia dropped 45 percent in 2016, compared to the previous year - in which they'd skyrocketed by 22 percent.

The group said that there were 1,125 such incidents in 2016, compared to 2,034 in 2015, which was the highest number since the surveys began.

Islamophobic acts dropped 58 percent from 2015 to 2016, with 182 acts reported over the year.

Anti-Semitic acts dropped 58.5 percent over the same period, with 335 acts reported compared to 808 in 2015.

The report suggested that the drops were due, in part, to the decision taken after the Paris terror attack of January 2015, to station soldiers outside "sensitive" areas like mosques, synagogues Jewish schools.

Despite the drop in reported acts of racism, the president of the CNCDH, Christine Lazerges, noted that the stats only showed the tip of the iceberg.

"It's estimated that only 6 percent of racist abuse is actually reported to the authorities, and only 3 percent is registered as a complaint," she told the AFP.

The French, meanwhile, appear to becoming more tolerant towards people of different races for the fourth year in a row.

Indeed, the group's index of tolerance, which aims to provide an overall look at levels of racial tolerance via the survey responses, showed that France is currently at a near-record high level of acceptance since the surveys began in 2000.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of French people consider themselves "not racist at all", compared to 43 percent in 2014 - with the new score marking another record high since the survey began 17 years ago.

The survey also noted that immigration wasn't even a primary concern for the French, with just 3.8 percent of respondents saying it was their "main worry". It was unemployment that came out on top at 21 percent, followed by terrorism at 18 percent.

Despite the improvements, there are still divisions between whom the French are actually tolerant towards.

"Jewish people, the black community, and Asians are the minorities remain the minorities that are the best accepted," the report read.

"Apart from the ROma community, it is the Muslims who are the least accepted."

The study showed some 46 percent of French people thought Islam was a threat to French identity.

Certain Islamic religious practices also provoked negative attitudes with some 58 percent of respondents saying they were against the wearing of the headscarf. However that reflects a drop of 22 percent on the previous year.

There was also a drop in negative attitudes towards halal food and Ramadan and some 79 percent of French people believe Muslims should be able to practice their religion in "good conditions", albeit 59 percent opposed the idea of "facilitating the practice of Muslim worship in France".

Full report at:




Discounting Muslim anti-Semitism, group says attacks on French Jews down

March 30, 2017

French authorities recorded a 58 percent drop last year in anti-Semitic incidents, according to a report that identified only far-right perpetrators and questioned the existence of a new anti-Semitism by Muslims over Israel’s actions.

The annual report by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights published Thursday on its website counted 335 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 compared to 808 the previous year — the sharpest drop on record since 2001, when the SPCJ security group of the Jewish community documented a 71% decrease to 219 cases. Data by SPCJ, which has not published its annual report, usually correspond with those published by the commission.

The commission also reported a 57% drop in anti-Muslim attacks to a total of 182 incidents in 2016.

According to the report, the decrease in attacks of Jews “is primarily due to security measures applied by the authorities as part of the Vigipirate plan.” The plan, which involves the deployment of thousands of troops around Jewish institutions and heavily Jewish neighborhoods across the country, was initiated in 2015 following the slaying of four Jews at a kosher store near Paris by an Islamist.

The report questioned the “new anti-Semitism thesis” proffered by the National Bureau of Vigilance Against anti-Semitism, a nongovernmental watchdog group run by former policemen — that most anti-Semitic attacks in France since 2000 have been committed by people with an immigrant background from Muslim countries who target Jews over Israel’s actions.

Scholars of anti-Semitism have termed the phenomenon “new anti-Semitism,” describing a situation in which the ancient hatred of Jews is justified as a political act of opposition to Israel’s policies or existence.

Mohammed Merah, a jihadist who murdered four Jews in Toulouse in 2012, has said he was acting to avenge the deaths of children in Gaza, as did Amedy Coulibaly, the Paris kosher shop killer who shot four hostages in 2015.

The report, however, did not mention religiously motivated attacks on Jews by Muslims.

“A significant part of the anti-Semitic acts (actions and threats) pertain to neo-Nazi ideology, whereas in most other cases the perpetrators’ motivations are difficult to ascertain,” it said.

Full report at:




The UK’s ambivalent attitude toward Muslim terror


Once again the world witnessed British ambivalence toward Muslim terror. The United Kingdom looked on in shock when 52 year old Khalid Masood killed four people and wounded 29 on March 22 in front of the Parliament building.[1]

This wasn’t the first lethal attack motivated by the Islamic views of terrorists in the UK. In 2005, bombings in the London Metro and on buses killed 52 people and injured hundreds more.[2] In 2013,  British soldier Lee Rigby was 'mutilated, almost decapitated and murdered' by Michael Adebowale, 22, and Michael Adebolajo, 28, who ambushed him outside the military barracks in Woolwich, South East London.[3]

British ambivalence toward terror is apparent. Despite the horrific nature of earlier events, terrorist supporters are welcome at the House of Lords. On October 27, 2016, a meeting there was hosted by Baroness Tonge, a former Liberal Democrat MP and now an independent peer.

Despite the horrific nature of earlier events, terrorist supporters are welcome at the House of Lords.

The attendees of the meeting were members of the Palestinian PRC (Palestinian Return Centre).[4] The gathering launched a campaign for Britain to apologize on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration of 1917 in which Britain pledged support for a home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Without reproach or redress from Baroness Tonge, who chaired the meeting, Israel was compared to ISIS and it was claimed that Jews provoked their own genocide.[5]   

On March 15 House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, delivered a verdict that the Baroness acted on her honor despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.[6] A few weeks earlier Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote to the Commissioner drawing inter alia attention to a letter Tonge sent to the British Jewish defense organization, Community Security Trust. In this letter she claimed that Israel was the cause of anti-Semitism. Furthermore she wrote that the CST, an organization of British Jews, is obliged to condemn Israeli actions. Cooper had written an article about Tonge’s letter some time earlier.[7] Her statement implied that Jewish people who cannot vote in Israel are to be held responsible for its actions.

The Lords Commissioner should have taken yet another issue into account. The United Kingdom was the first country to accept the anti-Semitism definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) for domestic use.[8] If one applies its terms to various statements that Lady Tonge made over the years, one can identify a variety of anti-Semitic remarks.[9] One example of anti-Semitism from the IHRA definition is: “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.” Tonge’s letter to the CST comes down to that.

Another example: In 2004 Tonge said if she were Palestinian she would consider becoming a suicide bomber. This fits another example of anti-Semitism from the IHRA definition – “calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.”[10]

Tonge also used a contemporary anti-Israeli version of the old blood libel by calling for an inquiry into invented charges that Israeli medical teams harvested organs when they came to Haiti in 2010 to help people in the aftermath of the earthquake.[11]

Another aspect of the meeting chaired by Lady Tonge in the House of Lords concerns her invitees, the Palestinian Return Centre. Dutch veteran journalist Carel Brendel, has investigated the background of the PRC in detail.[12] He quotes the 2011 intelligence service report of the German Ministry of the Interior which writes that “Hamas does not operate openly in Europe. Instead it uses, for instance, the Palestinian Return Centre in London as a forum.”[13] Brendel also quotes intelligence reports of the federal states of Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia with similar conclusions. Brendel reports that two of the key figures of the conference identify with Hamas and are seen as loyal supporters by the organization.

The Daily Telegraph points out that the PRC in the UK is related to the Muslim Association of Britain, the Muslim Brotherhood’s main declared British affiliate. They also share directors. The PRC has regularly hosted Hamas leaders at its previous annual conferences.[14]

In 2011 the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a document about the PRC. It begins by stating: “The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is a Palestinian center for anti-Israeli propaganda, established in London in 1996. It is affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and some of its senior figures are Hamas activists who found refuge in Britain. Its foundation was based on rejection of the Oslo Accords and a strong denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist.”[15]

The UK is not the only country that looks away from the terror-supporting character of the PRC. The Dutch government also remains silent about the upcoming “Palestinians in Europe” conference led by the PRC in Rotterdam scheduled to take place on April 15.[16] That however requires another analysis.

Full report at:



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