archaeological features show on its walls, which were built from ancient
limestone, giving it warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. (File
of Opinion Are a Blessing in Islam, says, PAS Sec-Gen
Is the Region’s Biggest Menace, ‘Rescue Muslim Countries from Conspiracies,
Turmoil ‘says Egypt’s Grand Mufti
30 Journos Attacked In Dhaka Ahead Of Polls
Do We Go Now, Ask Muslims Barred From Offering Prayers in Noida Public Park
Spirit Lights up Poor Christian ‘Colonies’ In Muslim-Majority Pakistan
Porphyrius: The Story behind Largest Church in Gaza
of Opinion Are a Blessing in Islam, says, PAS Sec-Gen, while Wishing Merry
VP Candidate Ma’ruf Amin Posts Rare Christmas Greeting
No place for fake news, messages that stoke religious hatred in New Malaysia
Is the Region’s Biggest Menace, ‘Rescue Muslim Countries from Conspiracies, Turmoil
‘says Egypt’s Grand Mufti
Grand Imam: We Support Saudi Arabia against US Senate Decision
details emerge about Saddam’s arrest, those who gave him up
Christians celebrate Christmas one year after Daesh defeat
dead, 11 wounded in car bomb in northern Iraqi city Tal Afar
establishes two new military bases in Anbar province: Iraqi official
1,000 Refugees Return Syria from Neighbouring Lebanon
Advancing against ISIL in Eastern Syria in Spite of US' Pullout
Bangladeshi Christians, a Long Road to Communal Harmony
Toll from Attack by Gunmen, Suicide Bomber in Afghan Capital Soars To 43
Taliban militants killed, wounded in Faryab clash and airstrikes
Taliban leader killed in Herat drone strike
Haqqani Network leader killed in Paktika airstrike
Rasheed Farangi Mahali against Namaz at Public Places sans Permission in Noida
Sufi Leaders Oppose Pakistan-Based Body Meet In Hyderabad
talaq bill to face Lok Sabha test on December 27, BJP issues whip to MPs
verdict should not be hurried, says Babri Masjid Action Committee
against stay of non-Muslim victims of religious persecution
withdrawal from Afghan will have implications in Kashmir: Former J&K DGP
Won’t Allow Govt to Abolish Blasphemy Punishment’
Joins Christian Community for Christmas Celebrations
times likely for Pakistan as global watchdog expands monitoring of terror
funding to state sponsors
MQM leader Ali Raza Abidi shot dead in Karachi's DHA
year sees terrorism rear its ugly head in Karachi again
Porphyrius: The Story behind Largest Church In Gaza
approves construction of some 1,300 new settler units
ambassador says kingdom protected Yemen from becoming ‘failed state’
raids target Iranian weapons depots near Damascus
Houthis are misusing military uniforms to ensure Hodeidah presence
will succeed Shahroudi, the Iranian cleric billed as Khamenei’s successor?
resolute in fighting terror, needs no permission from Israel: Ankara
warns France against supporting Kurdish YPG militants
Russia Do Not Oppose Role for Seif al-Islam Gaddafi in Libya’s Future
Bashir: Traitors took advantage of protests to vandalize
Algeria slam Turkey over arms shipment
dead in Libya’s foreign ministry attack in Tripoli
protesters killed by police in Sudan protests: Amnesty
army says 14 personnel killed in Boko Haram ambush
TV warns Muslim immigrants of Vitamin D deficiency
Assails Greed, Pilgrims Celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem
hopes for peace in Yemen, Syria and other flashpoints
Ahmadiyya Muslims launch food drive for winter
Academicians from US, Canada Visit Turkey
USA is in no position to attack Iran: Analyst
by New Age Islam News Bureau
JAYA: PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan has sent out festive greetings to
all Malaysians in conjunction with Christmas.
wish a Merry Christmas to all Malaysians who celebrate it, may we all be in
peace and harmony in our beloved country.
large number of my classmates at the Universiti Malaya law faculty are
non-Muslims, we are still friendly to this day as a family, and frequently
contact each other and meet for reunions.
of opinion are a blessing in Islam," Takiyuddin said in a statement on
Tuesday (Dec 25).
Sabah, I hope we can all celebrate the festival together, and for those who
have converted from Christianity to Islam, you should still visit, respect and
spend time with your parents and family,” he said in a statement here on Monday
said if everyone was aware of this, and respects one another, there would not
be chaos in society.
also urged everyone to visit one another during festive seasons or celebrations
to strengthen ties as a community.
and Mustaqim’s stance is in contrast to PAS Youth chief Muhammad Khalil Abdul
Hadi, who had warned Muslims not to celebrate Christmas as it is against the
teachings of Islam.
Harian had on Monday reported Muhammad Khalil as reminding Muslims not to be
part of the celebrations because it was an acknowledgement of the Christian
has an element of syirik (idolatry) which is against Islam’s teaching. They
claim that God had a child, which is against our beliefs as Muslims.
celebrate Christmas with such elements and claim that Prophet Isa (Jesus) is
the son of God,” he reportedly said during a lecture in Kuala Terrengganu on
Sunday (Dec 23) night.
Sectarianism is the region’s biggest menace, according to one of the most
senior Islamic scholars in the Muslim world.
Allam, Egypt’s grand mufti, made the statement at a two-day conference on
Islamic unity, which was organized by the Muslim World League (MWL) in Makkah
reiterated that Saudi Arabia remained the “heart of Islam” and commended the
MWL for holding the conference amid times of hardship in the Muslim world.
challenges and dangers engulfing us are too great to ignore,” he said. “We call
on scientists, thinkers and researchers from East to West to find ways to
rescue Muslim countries from the turmoil and conspiracies they are being
subjected to. Division, sectarian strife and conflict can be quelled through
our adherence to the tenets of the Holy Qur’an.”
emphasized that scripture abolishes all forms of discrimination, which includes
tribalism and racism, and warned against intolerance exacerbating an already
dire level of disunity.
and division have destroyed any sense of brotherhood, which is the essence of
Islam,” he said.
30 journos attacked in Dhaka ahead of polls
days ahead of the parliamentary elections, at least 10 journalists were wounded
in an attack in the Bangladeshi capital, according to the victims on Tuesday.
incident took place on Monday night when a group of mask-wearing attackers
raided a local hotel in capital Dhaka, which was hosting 30 journalists for the
to Anadolu Agency, Mizan Malik, investigation editor of the local daily
Jugantor, said that nearly 40 people -- wearing masks, wielding iron rods and
hockey sticks -- attacked the journalists at the hotel rooms.
the injured, Malik said the attackers also vandalized 16 vehicles of the
journalists, including of Jamuna tv, a private broadcaster of Bangladesh.
know for whom you come here. You instantly leave here,” an attacker shouted
when raided the hotel, said Malik.
of the media institutions are owned by the husband of Salma Islam, a parliament
member who runs for the elections as an independent candidate from Nawabganj
rival of Islam is Salman F Rahman, a candidate of ruling Awami League party.
Rahman is also the political advisor of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Alauddin, a Jamuna tv journalist, told Anadolu Agency that they informed the
local police against any undesirable incident when the ruling party candidate
set up an election tent at the ground floor of the hotel on Monday.
local police officer Golam Mostafa said they are investigating the incident.
candidate Islam called for immediate identification and exemplary punishment
for the attackers to create a convenient electoral environment.
elections will be held on Dec. 30 amid increasing violence across the country
and grave concerns from the political circles that the country's election
commission unable to ensure level playing field.
Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed told Anadolu Agency that they did not
receive any complaint yet about the attack on journalists.
receiving a complaint we will order local administration to take action,"
Alam, president of Bangladesh’s National Press Club, told Anadolu Agency that
it was a coward attack on media.
the formal electoral campaign began on Dec. 10, Bangladesh has witnessed gross
violence in different parts of the country.
left hundreds of supporters, mostly backing the opposition alliance, injured.
Dozens of opposition candidates were also attacked allegedly by ruling party
supporters backed by the police forces.
the military deployment across the country on Monday, the unrest prevails in
least two people were killed, over 50 sustained wounds in separate attacks
targeting election campaigns nationwide yesterday. Vehicles of some heavyweight
opposition candidates were also vandalized.
Nouman Akhtar, Adil Rashid and Ehsaan Alam just need a piece of ground where they
can gather as a community, spread their prayer mats and offer Friday
congregational prayers in peace.
had been doing the same every Friday for over five years at a public park in
Sector 58, Noida, until district authority and Noida police put a stop to it.
“We don’t want to fight with anyone; we just want to pray peacefully,” Akhtar
is the imam who has presided over Friday prayers at the park in question since
February 2013. But after the District Magistrate denied permission to offer
namaaz at the park earlier this month and the sector 58 police station
subsequently issued a directive prohibiting the practice on Monday, Muslims who
live and work in Sectors 57, 58, 59 and 60 are now left without a place to
is no mosque in a five-kilometre radius; the park was the only place for us.
Now where do we go?” asked Alam. He works at a garment factory in Sector 58 and
has been praying at the park for five years.
park is surrounded by tech firms and garment factories. All employees in nearby
factories and businesses get a half an hour break at 1 PM every day. Every
Friday, Muslim workers, most of whom are employed in garment export businesses
in nearby Sectors get an additional 15 minutes to offer Friday prayers.
58 police station sent a notice to these factories and other firms in Sector 58
and adjoining localities on Monday, advising them to deter their employees from
any religious activity at the District Authority park, including Muslim
employees praying at the park, or be held liable.
doesn’t know where the hundreds of Muslims who peacefully gathered at the park
must go now.
office mein bhi notice bhej di. Ab hum kya kahin bhi namaaz na padhein ( They
even sent a notice to our offices. Can we not pray anywhere now?” asked Alam.
started as a gathering of a half a dozen Muslims looking for a place to sit
together and offer namaaz, the congregation now has over a thousand Muslims who
meet every Friday at the park during their break from work. “We are all mostly
labourers from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Since
this park was the only available open space in the area, it became our place to
pray every Friday and the community grew,” Alam said.
to Rashid, the organiser of the prayer group christened as the Mohammadiya
Trust, even Muslim policemen from the area came and offered prayers with them.
Authority and police, however, insist that the group did not have requisite
permission to congregate and pray at the public park. The District Magistrate
and Senior Superintendent of Police addressed the matter at a press conference
at the DM residence in Sector 27 on Tuesday.
permission, you must first see whose land is it. The park is a Noida Authority
land and the request for permission did not have an NoC from the Noida
Authority,” DM Brajesh Narayan Singh said.
Magistrate’s office had denied the group permission to pray earlier this month.
Singh also sought to downplay the matter which is now under spotlight, with
many calling it a case of religious discrimination. “This is a small localised
incident related to law and order. We have only taken lawful steps in line with
previous Supreme Court judgment,” Singh said.
to a 2009 Supreme Court order that had prohibited religious activities without
the requisite go-ahead, Singh said the directive was not designed for one
community. “This is applicable for all religions. This is not a mala fide
directive; this is a bona fide process,” Singh said. “If they had permission
from police and authority, they would be allowed to continue such activity,” he
directive that was drafted by the SHO at Sector 58 police station has also left
businesses in a fix, the people from prayer group said. The notice had said if
the directive was flouted, the employers of Muslim workers would be held
liable. Ajay Pal Sharma, SSP, Noida Police, said the missive to companies was
just meant to inform. “The notice to companies is just for information so the
people can know that there is no permission at the park (to offer prayers),”
Sharma said at the press conference.
Singh also sought to clarify that the companies in the area did not have any
liability in the matter, and he would hold talks with the firms to allay any
fears about the notice. He, however, went on to say that the concerned officer,
Sector 58 SHO Pankaj Rai, had taken ‘appropriate action’.
the District Authority and local police have sprung into action only recently
after an unknown man had allegedly threatened Akhtar and others at the park,
demanding them to stop praying at the spot.
have been praying for over five years and there was no problem up till now,”
Akhtar, the Imam said.
started on December 7, a Friday, when a man came up to the prayer group in the
park and said they could not pray there any longer. “He started recording our
video on the phone and threatened us, saying that if we continued to pray at
the park, we would have problems,” Alam, who was present at the park at the time,
said. According to him and the imam, the person refused to identify himself and
only said he was a resident of Bishanpura in Noida.
to Rashid, the man claimed he had shut down Islamic activities in other areas
of Noida as well. “He said he had stopped namaaz in Sector 16 and he had gotten
the loudspeakers taken down from Medina Masjid in Khoda colony as well. He made
a video of us and said he would make it viral. He was trying to show us in a
bad light,” Rashid said.
Singh Dami, a security guard at Techcraft, an IT services firm across the road
from the park, said the man who objected to Muslims praying at place was from
the Bajrang Dal. “He told me he was from the Bajrang Dal. But he didn’t give
out his name,” Dami said.
the alleged incident, Rashid and Akhtar, wrote to the DM office and Noida
police seeking permission to pray and for security.
December 14, when they came to the park to pray, they saw police waiting for
them. “We thought they had come to provide us protection, but instead they told
us to stop praying,” Alam said.
allowed them to pray that day, but said they were not allowed to gather at the
park for namaaz henceforth. Akhtar and Rashid were also detained by Sector 58
police personnel after they were called for a discussion at the station on 18
disagreement between authorities and Rashid led to their arrest under Section
151 of the Indian Penal Code for continuing an assembly of five or more persons
after it has been commanded to disperse. They were later granted bail on
58 police and the Magistrate’s office said they had received complaints about
the Friday prayers from the area. The District Magistrate also said there was a
law and order aspect to the issue as well as the spot was a public park meant
for public purposes. “People want to use the park as a park,” Singh said.
SHO of Sector 58 police station, said that in addition to workers from nearby
companies, Muslims from other areas were coming to pray at the park as well.
“There were complaints from the area. If there was no complaint why would we go
and check?” Rai said. “The directive is for all religions. But since Namaaz was
going on, we mentioned it in the notice. If a Hindu group was gathering there,
we would stop them too,” Rai added.
however, believes it to be a case of discrimination and said there were
communal forces behind the move to stop them from praying. “This started when
that man came and threatened us. He had a big teeka on his forehead. With no
place to go for prayer, Rashid said he will prepare a new application for the
Magistrate’s office, requesting a space to offer prayers.
DM agreed that the absence of a mosque in the area poses an issue for the
community, but called it a separate problem that needed a separate solution.
“Everyone is free to practise their religion. If a new application comes it
will be considered,” he said.
spirit lights up poor Christian ‘colonies’ in Muslim-majority Pakistan
Pakistan — The floor was hard and the night was growing cold, but the magic of
the Christmas pageant — livened by comic scenes and peppy music — kept the
audience members spellbound as they huddled in an outdoor church tent.
craned their necks to see which preschool angel was theirs. People cheered the
exotic-looking wise men and booed the swaggering King Herod. They clapped along
with “Jingle Bells,” hushed in wait for the manger scene and burst into
applause when Mary held up her swaddled baby.
message of Christmas had special resonance this season among Pakistani
Christians, an old but often persecuted minority of about 3 million in a
country of 208 million that is 95 percent Muslim. Many labor at low-level jobs
and reside in self-contained “colonies” anchored by small churches.
Nativity drama Sunday evening was held in France Colony, one of a dozen poor
Christian neighborhoods in the capital. It was bustling with creativity.
Families set up miniature creches, and volunteers constructed elaborate
life-size tableaux of snowmen, shepherds and stars, illuminated by thousands of
tiny bulbs strung amid tree branches.
means everything to us,” said Asif Mushtak, 36, a government clerk, whose
children were decorating a tree on their roof. “People here have limited
resources. Mostly they bring each other cakes. What is important is the
message: Jesus taught love, so hatred should end, among all people and
perform the Christmas story in the Christian neighborhood of France Colony in
Islamabad. (Sarah Caron for The Washington Post)
months ago, the Pakistan Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman
imprisoned for nine years on charges of blasphemy. The verdict set off several
days of rioting by Muslim extremists. Their leaders demanded that Bibi be
hanged, called for the overthrow of the government and urged soldiers to
did little at first to quell the unrest, leaving Christian communities worried
for their safety. Bibi was put into protective custody, where she still
remains. But early this month, the extremist leaders were arrested and charged
with various offenses, belatedly signaling that religious minorities — and the
law — were to be respected.
is the first Christmas after the release of Asia. It is a matter of great joy
for Christians,” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, chairman of the All Pakistan
Minorities Alliance. He said the verdict “has strengthened the trust of
Christians and other minorities in this society. I only wish she could be
reunited with her family and celebrate Christmas with them.”
weeks ago, the State Department listed Pakistan as one of the world’s top three
abusers of religious rights, along with China and Saudi Arabia. The finding
cited Pakistan’s harsh laws that make blasphemy punishable by death and singled
out the Bibi case.
strongly rejected the U.S. action, but in a speech Saturday, Prime Minister
Imran Khan said the government must do more to “protect our minorities,”
reiterating that religious freedom was a central tenet of the country’s
founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
past years, churches across Pakistan have been periodically attacked by
Islamist militants, and Christians as well as other minority members often have
been falsely accused of blasphemy for insulting Islam or the prophet Muhammad,
which alone can lead to jailing or lynching.
Christians mingle outdoors. (Sarah Caron for The Washington Post)
tunnel of lights illuminates the entrance to a Christian community on Christmas
eve. (Sarah Caron for The Washington Post)
we celebrate Christmas, the foremost thing in our mind is peace for our society
and protection for Christians and other minorities,” Chaudhry said.
“Fortunately, the law and order situation is better now, so we are celebrating
this year with our minds more free of concern.”
France Colony and several other Christian communities, residents seemed
hesitant to speak about the Bibi case, but several said they felt that
Christians were being better respected and accepted now, as Pakistani Muslims
have become better educated about other beliefs.
I was growing up, we learned about the prophet Muhammad in school, but other
children didn’t learn much about us,” said Rafaqat Massih, 40, a chauffeur
whose family lives in a cheerfully decorated one-room flat. “Now, Muslim people
want to know more and discuss with us. We used to feel it was not safe to talk
about religious topics, but now we feel better.”
the past few years, competition has grown among Christian colonies to put on
the most spectacular outdoor displays, and more Muslim visitors and politicians
come to see them. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa,
attended Christmas services at a church in Rawalpindi city, where he spoke
about Christian contributions to Pakistan’s health care, education and defense.
France Colony, a labyrinth of steep, narrow alleys perched on the edge of a
trash-filled ravine, the bright holiday lights on Christmas Eve temporarily
masked the gritty reality of daily life.
Christmas Eve, the neighborhood was ablaze with color, and festive music blared
from loudspeakers. A grotto next to a culvert strewn with garbage had been
transformed into a winter wonderland, with white crystals covering the ground
and multicolor bulbs dangling from bamboo thickets.
midnight approached, families with small children thronged to marvel at the
scenes. TV crews reported live in front of snowmen and miniature volcanoes. At
one community entrance, a tunnel of lights welcomed visitors, while a police
detail patrolled on foot nearby.
addition to publicly showcasing their faith, celebrating Christmas also binds
and uplifts struggling Christian communities. Alcoholism is a common problem
among working-class men there, and many Pakistani Muslims, whose faith
prohibits drinking, view it as a Christian vice.
Massih, 40, and his wife, Sobia, 33, right, celebrate Christmas Eve with their
family at home. (Sarah Caron for The Washington Post)
people mingle after a prayer service on Christmas Eve. (Sarah Caron for The
the festive spirit grew more raucous on Christmas Eve, some young men wandered
through the alleys of France Colony, sipping from bottles. But others took
pride in pitching in on holiday projects, and groups of boys with badges were
assigned to guard every display and guide visitors through them.
want everyone to get involved and feel the spirit, and not to celebrate too
zealously by taking drugs or drinking too much,” said Daniel Kohkar, 15, who
gathered branches with friends to build an outdoor manger.
Nativity drama in the tent, put on by members of the United Prayer Fellowship
Church, took months of work and practice. The wise men and shepherds, who
dressed in colorful costumes and performed choreographed songs, were all local
men. The angel Gabriel, who had to make numerous speeches wearing enormous
wings, was 17.
play was accompanied by a keyboard player, a group of singers with harmoniums
and tablas playing traditional Pakistani qawwali music with a driving beat, and
recorded tapes of sheep bleating, flute solos and pounding drums. The stage
curtain was made of two bedsheets.
all encourage our brothers and sisters with applause,” the church pastor, the
Rev. Manuel Faiz, pleaded when the between-act arrangements took too long and
children began to fidget. “Please be patient. There’s only one more scene to
each time the curtain was pulled back, and the wise men pointed excitedly to a
new star or King Herod strode about waving his sword, the fidgeting stopped.
And when the baby Jesus finally made his appearance, amid a chorus of joyful
voices, every face in that frigid tent lit up with awe.
in Gaza celebrated Christmas in the Church of Saint Porphyrius this year, one
of the oldest and biggest churches in Gaza.
church’s archaeological features show on its walls, which were built from
ancient limestone, giving it warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer.
Porphyrius holds a special place in Christians’ hearts, especially Palestinian
ones, since he was the fighter of polytheistic religions that had followers all
over Gaza and the Levant.
finely educated saint was afflicted with a serious malady of the legs, which
drove him to leave his meditation spot in the Jordanian wilderness to go to
Jerusalem and pray for healing.
cheer at Jesus’s traditional birthplace of Bethlehem
his time in Jerusalem, it is said that he went into trance, where he saw Jesus
Christ and came out of trance to find himself healed.
the death of Gaza’s bishop in year 395, priest Porphyrius was summoned to take
the role to protect Christians there from pagan harassment.
Gaza there were only three Christian churches, but there were a great many
pagan temples and idols. However, with Saint Porphyrius’ presence, the city saw
the baptism of 237 men, 35 women, and 14 children.
good relations with the Roman Emperor and Empress, Saint Porphyrius was granted
an edict in 401 ordering the destruction of pagan temples in Gaza and the
restoration of privileges to Christians.
emperor also gave the saints money for the contruction of a new church in Gaza,
to be built on the site of the chief pagan temple; This church is what is known
today to be The Church of Saint Porphyrius.
VP candidate Ma’ruf Amin posts rare Christmas greeting
a rare event, the non-active chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI),
which is seen as the guardian of Islamic orthodoxy, has sent a Christmas
greeting to Christians throughout the country.
Amin, who is running alongside incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the
2019 presidential election, is seen wishing all the nation's Christians a
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” in a 22-second clip of what appears to be
a official campaign video. The video immediately sparked religious and
Muslims have long been divided over whether saying “Selamat Natal” (Merry
Christmas) is religiously permissible.
believe that doing so would compromise their strict monotheistic belief,
arguing that Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ as God Incarnate.
Others argue that Jesus is Islam's Prophet Isa so there is nothing wrong with
celebrating the birth of an Islamic prophet.
his active stint as chairman of the MUI, the Islamic body in charge of issuing
fatwas, Ma’ruf previously exercised caution in his response when asked if he
would wish Christians "Merry Christmas", given the ongoing and
issue is debated, [so] it’s better not to say it,” he said in December 2012 as
reported by tempo.co. He reiterated his stance in 2016 as reported by
tribunnews.com, that "I would rather not say ['Merry Christmas']” if
disagreements existed on the issue.
MUI has never declared Christmas greetings as haram, although it clearly stated
that Muslims were forbidden from taking part in Christmas Mass and donning
Christmas attire in the fatwas it issued in 1981 and 2016.
to questions about Ma’ruf’s Christmas well-wishes, MUI general secretary Anwar
Abbas said the council had yet to take a stance on the issue.
MUI has never issued a fatwa on it,” Anwar said.
Jokowi, who is facing negative campaigns attacking his Muslim credentials,
picked Ma’ruf as his running mate in August, shortly before officially
registering his 2019 candidacy.
JAYA: The government will not hesitate to take action against those who
threaten the unity of Malaysians of different religions, says Deputy Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
news, inflammatory messages that stoke religious hatred have no place in
Malaysia Baharu (New Malaysia).
government will not hesitate to take action against those who threaten the
peace and harmony in this country," said Wan Azizah in her Christmas
message on Tuesday (Dec 25).
Woman, Family and Community Development minister also said that in celebrating
other's religious festivals, there is unity.
of religion in this country has its best expression in people coming together
to share in the religious celebrations of each other," she said when
attending a Christmas celebration at the Luther Centre on Tuesday (Dec 25).
her were Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and Hannah Yeoh, who is Wan
Azizah’s deputy in the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.
a lighter note, Wan Azizah talked about how her convent education instilled in
her the values that she carries today, adding that she can also quote The
entered the convent at Primary 1 and as a seven year old, I was mesmerised by
the blue eyed Irish nuns," she said.
Azizah also quoted from the Quran, calling for dialogue to overcome problems.
Al-Quran encourages using the power of discussion and dialogue to solve
most important element in Islam, however, is to advise or deliver the message in a wise and prudent way,
according to the circumstances of the
moment,” she said.
Grand Imam: We support Saudi Arabia against US Senate decision
Grand Imam of al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb released a statement on Tuesday
confirming affirming that his institution, Arab and Islamic nations support the
Saudi Arabia against the decision issued recently by the US Senate against the
will never allow any penetration that could affect this strong and solid
relationship between the Kingdom and Egypt at any level,” he was quoted as
saying by the Saudi Press Agency.
extended thanks to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for the generosity
accorded to him during his recently-concluded official visit to Saudi Arabia.
pointed out that his meeting with the king affirmed the monarch’s great love
for Egypt and his keenness on permanent relations between the two sisterly
countries, noting that the continuous cooperation between them should be
increased to face the challenges against the Arab and Islamic nations,” the SPA
mark 12th anniversary of the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, the US magazine ESQUIRE published what it said were new details of the
operation known as Red Dawn, during which US forces found the late president
hiding in a farm near Tikrit in early December, 2003.
reported that two business men, one of them is known as Hadooshi, and the other
Mohammed Ibrahim al-Muslit, had revealed important information about Saddam
Hussein’s presidential security apparatus which eventually led to his arrest.
US forces bombed the Hadooshi Farm in Tikrit, they found “huge buried boxes” with
$10,000 bundles of hundred-dollar bills in Chase Manhattan Bank wrappers.
other buried treasure was huge amounts of jewelry belonging to Saddam’s wife,
Sajida Talfah, adding up to “about half a dozen garbage bags full of gems.”
forces bombed the farms of the businessmen, and a nine-year-old boy led them to
arrest Muslit, who finally surrendered and told them where Saddam Hussein was
hiding, ESQUIRE reported.
Iraqi Christians quietly celebrated Christmas on Tuesday amid improved
security, more than a year after the country declared victory over Daesh
militants who threatened to end their 2,000-year history in Iraq.
in Iraq dates back to the first century of the Christian era, when the apostles
Thomas and Thaddeus are believed to have preached the Gospel on the fertile
flood plains of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.
is home to many different eastern rite churches, both Catholic and Orthodox,
traditionally a sign of the country’s ethnic and religious diversity.
war and sectarian conflict shrank Iraq’s Christian population from 1.5 million
to about 400,000 after the US-led invasion in 2003. Following the onslaught of
Daesh in 2014 and the brutal three-year war that followed their numbers have
fallen further, though it is not known exactly by how much.
Baghdad, Christians celebrated mass on Tuesday morning — declared a national
holiday by government — in churches decorated for Christmas. Once fearful, they
said they were now hopeful, since conditions had improved.
course we can say the security situation is better than in previous years,”
said Father Basilius, leader of the St. George Chaldean Church in Baghdad where
more than a hundred congregants attended Christmas mass.
enjoy security and stability mainly in Baghdad. In addition, Daesh was beaten.”
declared victory over the militants more than a year ago, but the damage done
to Christian enclaves on the Nineveh Plains has been extensive.
Qaraqosh, a town also known as Hamdaniya which lies 15 km (10 miles) west of
Mosul, the damage is still visible.
the city’s Immaculate Church, which belongs to the Syrian Catholic denomination
and has not yet been rebuilt since the militants set it on fire in 2014,
Christians gathered for midnight mass on Monday, surrounded by blackened walls
still tagged with Daesh graffiti.
of worshippers prayed and received communion, and then gathered around the
traditional bonfire in the church’s courtyard.
the militant onslaught, Qaraqosh was the largest Christian settlement in Iraq,
with a population of more than 50,000. But today only a few hundred families
with a choice to convert, pay a tax or die, many Christians in the Nineveh
Plains fled to nearby towns and cities and some eventually moved abroad.
least two people were killed and 11 wounded on Tuesday by a car bomb in the
northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, a former ISIS stronghold, the military said.
Afar, about 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul, experienced cycles of sectarian
violence between Sunnis and Shiites after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003,
and produced some of ISIS’s most senior commanders.
city, which had about 200,000 residents, came under the militants’ control when
ISIS overran swathes of Iraq’s north in 2014.
fell to Iraqi Security Forces, backed by the US-led coalition, in August 2017,
the last area to be retaken in the north before fighting moved to the Syrian
border. A heavy security presence has remained since then and the city has been
US Army has set up two new military bases in Iraq’s western province of Anbar,
an Iraqi official says, days after Washington announced the pullout of American
forces from Syria.
US Army has established two new military facilities in uninhabited parts of the
province,” Turkey's official Anadolu news agency quoted Farhan al-Duleimi, a
member of Anbar’s provisional council, as saying on Tuesday.
move comes less than a week after US President Donald Trump announced his
unexpected decision to pull all the 2,000 American ground troops out of the
war-ravaged Syria. He said on Wednesday that the withdrawal would be slow and
gradual, without providing a timetable.
to al-Duleimi, the first base had been established in the northern Rumana
sub-district in al-Qaim district, in the vicinity of the Syrian border, some
360 kilometers west of the provincial capital Ramadi.
second base, he added, had been set up east of the city of al-Rutbah, about 310
kilometers west of Ramadi and less than 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.
official added that the American bases were purportedly intended to assist
Iraqi forces “secure the country’s borders and prevent infiltrations by the
Daesh terrorist group.”
of US soldiers are currently stationed at the two bases, along with drones and
other equipment,” added al-Duleimi, without providing further details.
central government in Baghdad and Washington have yet to comment on
al-Duleimi’s statement, but if confirmed, the total number of US bases in Anbar
will reach four.
5,000 American troops have remained in Iraq since Washington, leading a
military coalition, began its so-called anti-terror operations in the Arab
country in 2014 with the declared aim of defeating the Takfiri Daesh terrorist
group, which managed to overrun roughly two-thirds of Iraq, mainly in the
country’s north and west, in June that year.
last year, Baghdad declared that the military presence of Daesh in Iraq had
come to an end following a three-year conflict that ended with the fall of the
Daesh-held city of Mosul. The terror group lost all its urban strongholds in
the Arab country but its remnants launch sporadic terror attacks against
government troops and civilians alike.
official National News Agency reported that the return of refugees took place
in the Southern Lebanese cites and districts of Tripoli, Arsal, Tyre and
Nabatieh, and under the supervision of Lebanon's General Security in
cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
returned home using buses sent by Syrian authorities, and arrived at
al-Zamrani, Jdeidat Yabous, al-Dabbousiya border crossings from Lebanese
territories on Monday afternoon.
refugees underwent medical checks and anti-polio vaccines were administered to
children. They were then transferred to Syria’s Northern and central provinces
of Idlib and Homs in addition to other areas in the crisis-stricken Arab
December 16, over 1,000 Syrian refugees returned to their homeland from
different areas in Lebanon, including Nabatieh, Bekaa, Tripoli and Shabaa.
Elnashra online independent newspaper reported that the return of refugees took
place under the supervision of Lebanon's General Security in cooperation with
the Lebanese army.
General Security is keen on continuously securing a voluntary return of Syrian
refugees to their towns,” Colonel Khattar Nasreddine, head of the Public
Security Information Division in northern Lebanon, said.
said that the SDF managed to advance against ISIL near the small towns of
al-Sha'afah and al-Sousah in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.
further added that most of the ISIL gunmen had already left positions.
between the SDF and the remaining pockets of the ISIL are underway in the
the meantime, SDF Spokesman Rami Abdul Rahman said heavy fighting is underway
between his forces and the ISIL near al-Sah'afah and al-Sousah, adding that the
SDF managed to capture a key village in the region.
US president announced last week that his government in resolved to pull forces
out of Syria.
reported on Monday that tens of vehicles started relocating the fleeing people
from Eastern Deir Ezzur that was under the US-backed militias' control.
further said that it was the largest mass relocation of civilians from regions
that were near ISIL's positions on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
went on to say that the vehicles have thus far transferred almost 4,000
the meantime, people in the border town of Qamishli in Northern Hasaka poured
into the streets and demanded the Syrian Army to enter their town, local
Despite comprising just 0.5% of Bangladesh’s 160 million citizens, the
Christians of Bangladesh were rarely made to feel anxious about their identity.
The community’s contributions to the country’s history are noteworthy. Even
today, schools and hospitals run by Catholic missionaries provide a lifeline
for poor communities.
Dhiriti Rani Gomez, a 34-year-old housewife from Barisal, now feels like “a
Christian” in a predominantly Muslim land. “I never felt like a member of a
minority community in the country for the greater part of my life. But in the
last few years, that feeling has changed,” said Gomez.
country has a tradition of tolerating religious and other minorities. Peace and
harmony were aplenty. However, a string of brazen attacks on the Christian
community in the last few years has dented this reputation.
people like Gomez feel the “need” for peace and harmony.
notion of communal harmony prevailing among different faiths was punctured in
May 2016. A group of people backed by a large industrialist allegedly attacked
a Christian community in Barisal and took possession of their land illegally.
landless Christian families began living on 2.5 acres of land owned by the
Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha in 2000. Later, a colony was built there.
that attack, things have changed in Barisal among the Christians,” Gomez told
The Wire, “We now feel like a small community.”
fear of religious extremism
Barisal incident is not the only instance of violence that the community has
faced. In other places around the country, several killings of Christians have
been reported. Death threats from hardline Islamist groups have also been
reported over the past two years.
2016, Hossain Ali, 68, a Christian convert and Sunil Gomes, 72, a grocer, were
hacked to death by unidentified people in two separate incidents. They later
claimed to be members of the ISIS.
November 25, 2015, at least ten priests from different churches received death
threats, allegedly from people who wanted to establish Shariah law in
Bangladesh government, time and again, insists that the ISIS didn’t have a
foothold in Bangladesh. It said homegrown militants were behind the killings
first cardinal, Patrick D’ Rozario, said that as a predominantly Muslim population,
Bangladeshis are peace-loving as Islam teaches them to be so.
religion teaches you to be hostile towards any living being,” said the
Cardinal, “Hostility only comes if religion is used for political purpose.”
Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said about 30
threats were issued against churches and priests within a span of three months
beginning from December 2015.
was a scary time for us,” said Rozario, “But now the situation has improved.”
believes the Gulshan terror attack worked as a wakeup call for the government.
After the attack, the government cracked down on suspected militants, some of
whom were killed and hundreds more arrested.
want to live in peace. Both Islam and Christianity are religions of peace”,
Kamal Korayia, who acted as the coordinator for Pope Francis’s much talked
about visit to Bangladesh last year, told The Wire that Christians live in
complete harmony with other religions of Bangladesh.
don’t think there is a problem between any faiths now,” he said.
situation in the capital
living in the capital city of Dhaka, meanwhile, are safer than the ones living
in the countryside.
Mohakhali Christian Para – the largest Christian neighbourhood of Dhaka –
Christians and people from other religions live in communal harmony.
81 buildings of the para (neighbourhood), all owned by the Christian landlords,
there are Muslim and Hindu tenants. Tonmoy Lennard Cruz, a resident of the
para, told The Wire the area is peaceful and harmonious.
participate in Eid festivities and go to the pooja mondop set up by the Hindus.
They also celebrate Christmas,” said Tonmoy. “These have been long traditions.”
occasions, he said, tensions are rife among the residents when they hear news
about Christians being persecuted in the countryside.
our communal bonding here is well enough to overcome that tension,” he added.
toll from attack by gunmen, suicide bomber in Afghan capital soars to 43
death toll from a Christmas Eve attack in the Afghan capital has climbed to 43,
the Health Ministry said Tuesday, as police and rescue workers combed through
the smoldering public welfare building where the gunmen held out for eight
hours against security forces.
suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle outside the building
Monday before at least three gunmen stormed in, rampaging through the office
complex hunting for victims. Some employees managed to barricade themselves
inside offices while police quickly evacuated more than 350 people.
Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro says 40 people were killed and 29 were wounded.
An earlier, higher toll provided by the ministry included the attackers.
one immediately claimed the attack, but the Taliban and a local ISIS affiliate
have carried out a relentless wave of assaults on government targets in recent
Jalil, an employee who spoke to reporters Tuesday from his hospital bed, was on
the second floor when the gunmen entered.
came in and they were shooting at everyone. They were shooting at the closed
doors. If anyone was there they shot them,” he said.
said he jumped from a second-story window and broke his leg. He managed to
crawl 50 meters (yards) to a perimeter gate where security personnel helped him
to safety. Jalil said at least five of his co-workers jumped with him from the
window, and he saw his boss jump from a third-story window.
Rahman, who escaped unhurt, said “it was a massacre. We didn't know where to
told reporters outside the charred building that he still could hear the sounds
of the screaming.
was chaos. Everyone was running everywhere, trying to hide. Why would they kill
us? We are Muslims. We are not Russians or Americans,” Khalil said. He said he
worked for the same public welfare department during the five-year rule of the
Taliban, which ended with the 2001 US-led invasion.
least ten militants were killed during a clash and airstrikes in northern
Faryab province of Afghanistan, the Afghan Military said Saturday.
209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the
Afghan Air Force carried out airstrikes in Sari Hawz area of Pashtun Kot
district, leaving at least 2 militants dead.
statement further added that five militants also sustained injuries and four of
their motorcycles were destroyed.
clash also broke out between the Taliban militants and the security forces in
Jat Arkalik and Nawdri villages of Qaisar district, leaving 8 militants dead
and 16 others wounded, the 209th Shaheen Corps added.
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the report so far.
top local leader of Taliban was killed in a drone strike conducted in western
Herat province of Afghanistan, the local security authorities said Tuesday.
to a statement released by the provincial police commandment, at least four
people, including Javid alias Mawladad, the shadow military chief of Taliban
for Zawal district were killed in the airstrike.
statement further added that the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of
Azizabad area of the district.
vehicle operated by the militants was also totally destroyed in airstrike, the
provincial police commandment added.
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the killing of the group’s district military chief so far.
senior leader of the Haqqani terrorist network has been killed in an airstrike
in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Interior (MoI)
to a statement released by MoI, Saifullah, the military commission chief of
Haqqani terrorist network who was killed in Barmal district.
statement further added that Saifullah was also in charge of providing
logistics support to the fighters of the terrorist network.
was killed in the airstrike which was conducted on Monday in the vicinityfo
Margha Village, MoI added in its statement.
the military and logistic head of Haqqani Terrorist Network killed along with
six others after Air Forces struck a militants’ hideout in Margha village,
Barmal district, eastern Paktika province, yesterday,” the statement by MoI
to MoI, the group was involved in planning and coordinating suicide attacks in
Paktika and neighboring provinces.
Rasheed Farangi Mahali against Namaz At Public Places Sans Permission In Noida
Muslim cleric and member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board Khalid
Rasheed Farangi Mahali said on Tuesday that Muslims should avoid offering Namaz
at places where it inconveniences others. He was reacting to a police order
issued to companies and offices in Noida Sector 58, directing them to tell
their employees that they must not gather for prayers at a public park in the
must adhere to the directions of the local administration when it comes to
using public spaces for offering Namaz,” Maulana Khalid Rasheed said.
is best that one offers Namaz either inside one’s home or at a designated place
such as a mosque,” the Muslim scholar said.
Shia Waqf Board chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi also said that people must seek
permission before using public spaces for prayers. ”One cannot offer namaz at a
public space without seeking permission from the authorities concerned.
Offering namaz at public places without proper permission is not allowed in
Islam,” Rizvi said.
Shahabuddin, a prominent Barelvi cleric, said it is a matter of faith but
people should make sure that nobody is disturbed when they practice their
Sufi leaders oppose Pakistan-based body meet in Hyderabad
Local Sufi Muslim leaders have demanded that the police cancel permission for a
two-day congregation (Sunni Ijtema) here of the Dawat-e-Islami, a
Pakistan-headquartered religious organisation, because the organisation, they
allege, has terror links.
for the congregation at Mir Alam Idgah in Hyderabad, to start December 29, have
been going on at a brisk pace.
ulema and Sufi leaders said on Tuesday they would approach a court if
permission for the Sunni Ijtema was not withdrawn. According to them, the
Dawat-e-Islami holds views which are against the beliefs of majority Muslims in
Hyderabad and India. They said even the Pakistan government had restricted the
Dawat-e-Islami from preaching to soldiers in the Pakistan army.
Sufi leaders feared that the meeting would disturb peace in Hyderabad and
create a wedge between Sunnis and Shias.
of Dawat-e-Islami founder Maulana Mohammad Ilyas Attar Qadri against the
backdrop of the historic Charminar have been pasted at different places in the
Syed Auliya Hussaini Murtaza Pasha, founder-president of the Sunni United Forum
of India, told TOI that though Dawat-e-Islami of Pakistan follows the Barelvi
school of thought, the religious views its followers hold are different from
those of the mainstream Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam. “Hyderabad has been a
shining example of inter-faith harmony and permission to organisations like
Dawat-e-Islami, which are linked to terror activities, will vitiate the
peaceful atmosphere,” he said, demanding that the police stop the organisers
from holding the Sunni Ijtema.
that the views of Dawat-e-Islami on the Caliphate and the succession of the
Caliphate are contrary to majority Sunni belief, Maulana Syed Aale Mustafa
Quadri, president of the All-India Ulema and Mashaik Board, Telangana and AP,
said the proposed meeting would create differences among Sunnis and Shias.
“People influenced by Dawat-e-Islami teachings have been linked to terror
activities, including murderous assaults in Pakistan,” he said.
Mustafa Quadri, also an executive member of the World Sufi Forum, said India
has the world’s largest number of Islamic scholars. “Indian Muslims do not need
Pakistani religious scholars to preach to them,” he said.
Abdul Khayyum Attari, one of the organisers of the Sunni Ijtema, told TOI that
only Indian religious scholars would address the congregation. “We are a
peace-loving organisation. No Pakistani scholar has been invited,” he said.
ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday issued a whip to its Lok Sabha
members asking them to be present when Parliament’s winter session resumes two
days later. The whip followed Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s
announcement that the central government would push the Muslim Women
(Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, that seeks to criminalise the
practice of instant divorce among a section of Muslims.
whip indicated the government’s intent to pass the bill even as many Opposition
parties have serious reservations about it.
bill, which was tabled last week, provides for a three-year jail term for those
found guilty of following the practice. It would supersede an earlier bill that
the government had managed to get passed in Lok Sabha in December last year.
The previous bill sought to make instant divorce a punishable, cognisable and a
government was forced to issue an ordinance or executive order to criminalise
the practice in September 2018 after failing to have the earlier bill passed in
the Rajya Sabha. The revised bill includes bail provisions as part of attempts
to soften some aspects of the proposed law.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor last week opposed the fresh bill saying “it has
no procedural safeguards to prevent its misuse”.
added that the bill “conflates civil law with criminal law by criminalising a
wrong form of divorce and by criminalising an act which is already legally null
Supreme Court had banned the instant divorce, calling the practice
“unconstitutional” in August 2017.
called the proposed law “an attempt in creating a class-specific legislation on
the grounds of religion, instead of focusing on the larger issue of
mistreatment and desertion of wives and dependents”.
Congress, which has 47 members in the Lower House , is likely to aggressively
reiterate its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the
Rafale aircraft deal, days after the Supreme Court ruled out any
court-monitored probe into it. The Congress or other Opposition parties had not
issued any whip until Tuesday evening. A Congress functionary said, “It is not
our issue. We want a JPC on Rafale before anything else.”
of the next hearing in the Ram Janmbhumi-Babri Masjid title suit in the Supreme
Court on January 4, the Babri Masjid Action Committee (BMAC) has said the
verdict should be delivered only after examining all documents. It said no
urgency should be made on this issue.
committee has also passed a proposal that it will move the Supreme Court if the
government brings in a law in Parliament to facilitate construction of Ram
temple in Ayodhya.
a statement, BMAC mentioned that all members who participated in the meeting
were of the opinion that the verdict in this case should only be delivered
after all documents, evidences related to this case are properly examined and
arguments of all litigants are heard.
to India Today TV, BMAC convener and member of All India Muslim Personal Law
Board (AIMPLB) Zafaryab Jilani said, "The meeting was called in Lucknow on
Tuesday to discuss the development in the Ayodhya title suit case. The recent
statements made by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, VHP and RSS leaders on
this issue were also discussed. The committee has passed a proposal to approach
the Supreme Court immediately if the government decides to bring legislation in
Parliament for Ram temple construction."
think the heckling of top BJP leaders and pressure for Ram temple construction
is a well-planned strategy. It is only being done to polarise the Hindu votes
ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. If the BJP leaders want to expedite the
hearing in the SC, then the government has to move an application before the
court, which has not been done so far," added Jilani.
a meeting earlier this month, the AIMPLB has also decided to approach the
Supreme Court if the government attempts to bring legislation to facilitate
construction of Ram temple.
masjid litigant Iqbal Ansari, who was part of the meeting, said "It has
been decided in the meeting that the verdict of the top court in this case
should be accepted by everyone. The politics on this issue shouldn't take
meeting has come at a time when top BJP leaders, including Union minister
Prakash Javadekar, have said that the Centre wants the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri
Masjid title suit hearing to be heard on a day-to-day basis.
meeting was attended by 70 members from different parts of the state, including
AIMPLB members at the Islamia College in Lucknow.
PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s notification
regularising entry and stay of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and Parsi
victims of religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan
compelled to seek shelter in India.
by “Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill”, the PIL questioned the
validity of the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, the
Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015, and an order dated December 23, 2016,
issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The amendments violated right to
equality and went against secular character of the Constitution, it said.
rules exempted persons belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and
Pakistan i.e. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians forced to
come to India because of religious persecution on or before December 31, 2014,
from the application of provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946. Under the
amended rules, persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and
Christians may continue to stay in India without valid documents or with
expired documents, including passport or other travel documents.
PIL said the amended rules violated the basic structure of the Constitution. It
was against secularism as “illegal immigrants” were granted citizenship only on
the basis of religion pursuant to the impugned legislation.
subordinate legislation impugned herein are, however, unprecedented, in the
sense that never before has religion been specifically identified in the
citizenship law as the ground for distinguishing between citizens and
non-citizens. It has introduced religion as a new principle into the citizenship
law and can be conveniently branded as ‘communally motivated humanitarianism’,”
the petition read.
Asserting that India should adopt a "clear-cut roadmap" to tackle the
Kashmir issue, former DGP of Jammu & Kashmir K Rajendra Kumar has said the
US pulling out troops from Afghanistan will have implications in the Valley and
terrorist outfits may feel emboldened.
his speech, Kumar also said that there is a need to send a stern message to
Pakistan for its support to militancy.
stern message needs to be sent to Pakistan in terms of retaliation. We need to
make it more costly for Pakistan because today Pakistan is not feeling the
pinch it should feel," said Kumar.
said India should deal strongly with Pakistan as far as training camps and
terrorist launchpads are concerned.
USA is existing Afghanistan. It has its implications in Kashmir. It is a matter
of time that we will be feeling its implications in the Valley. After the US
withdrawal, the terrorists organisations would feel pumped up,
emboldened," he said.
America's withdrawal as a "sign of victory", terrorist outfits can
feel that New Delhi can also be defeated, so there is an urgent need for India
to adopt a "clear-cut roadmap" to deal with terrorism in Kashmir, he
US is planning to withdraw 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. The American troops
contribute to training and advising local forces fighting the Taliban and the
Islamic State group.
Pakistan's active role in spreading terrorism in the Valley, the former IPS
officer said Pakistan is not only sponsoring terrorism but also sending its
nationals to Kashmir in the garb of fighting jihad.
matter which government is in power, Pakistan continues to sponsor terrorism in
the Valley," he said.
said militancy in Kashmir started with local terrorist organisations but now it
is tilting towards Islamic extremism.
Valley has a rich history of Sufism but over the years it has moved towards
Wahabism," he said, adding that efforts should be made to take Kashmir
back to Sufism.
measures, he said the state needs stringent laws to deal with anti-national
forces, a concrete policy to encourage youths to give up militancy.
surrender policy must ensure that youth who give up militancy are gainfully
employed and discouraged from returning to the menace, he said. He also called
for political outreach and empowerment of the civil society.
won’t allow govt to abolish blasphemy punishment’
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F Senator Maulana Ataur Rehman has said the Pakistan
Tehreek-i-Insaf government wished to abolish the punishment of hanging on
blasphemy, but his party would not let it do so.
was addressing the ‘Sheikh ul Hind’ conference at Talash here on Sunday.
Tulba Islam (JTI), a student wing of JUI-F, arranged the event.
Rehman, who is brother of party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said Sheikh
Mehmood ul Hassan was a history maker who led the Muslims of India before
partition. He said countless Muslims sacrificed their lives during the 1857
freedom movement against the British rulers.
said the JUI-F followed the thought and philosophy of Sheikh Mehmood ul Hassan
and was committed to protecting the new generation from the western
Maulana insisted that the present government was following the Jewish agenda,
saying the PTI had introduced the culture of dancing, singing and disrespecting
opponents. He said despite attempts the government and its institutions had
failed to file anti-corruption cases against the JUI-F leadership.
VOTE: Unlike the past, women voters took active part in the recently held LG
by-elections in the Lower Dir district. An official of the election commission
said except one ward the percentage of women voters remained over 20pc.
Said Khan Khattak, the district election commissioner, said 17 per cent of
women exercised their right to vote in Rabat ward, 26pc in Toormang ward, 20pc
in Koto ward, 11pc in Haya Serai ward and 30pc in Munjai ward.
said percentage of women voters in Kotkay Maidan ward remained only 5.71pc, and
according to ECP rules, its result would be declared void. He said only 428
women out of 7,489 took part in the voting.
BAGS: A private educational institution in Talash arranged an awareness walk
against the use of polythene bags.
school’s students, teachers and citizens walked on the roads while carrying
banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the use of polythene bags.
tehsil nazim Riaz Mohammad led the walk.
the gathering, Riaz Mohammad, school’s principal Abdul Wakil, tehsil councillor
Manzoor Ahmad and others said polythene bags were dangerous for environment.
said use of polythene bags caused soil pollution and several diseases.
joins Christian community for Christmas celebrations
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday joined the
Christian community at Christ Church, Rawalpindi to participate in Christmas
celebrations, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported.
to the military’s media wing, Gen Bajwa wished a Merry Christmas to the entire
Christian community in Pakistan and acknowledged the role of Christians not
only towards the creation of the country but also for their contributions
towards its progress.
military chief also appreciated the role of various institutions in the fields
of education, health and public welfare being managed by Christian community
across the country, the communique stated further.
DELHI: The global watchdog on terrorism financing, financial action task force
(FATF), is expanding its monitoring jurisdiction from terror groups to states
who support terrorism, a development that will increase scrutiny of Pakistan
that has already attracted the body’s criticism.
public statement by the FATF after its recent October plenary said for the
first time that it would monitor states that fund terrorism, a move with implications
for Pakistan that was put on the organisation’s “Grey List” in June for failing
to act credibly against terror financing.
October, a public statement by FATF observed, “the funding of terrorism or the
resourcing of a terrorist entity by any State remains incompatible with the
FATF standards. The FATF will remain diligent in identifying new risks
associated with the financing of ISIL, Al Qaeda and their affiliates and will
continue to take robust measures to ensure that these terrorist financing risks
2018 too, FATF broadened its monitoring of terror financing with regard to
Islamic State (ISIL) to include Al Qaeda and its affiliates, which would
include terror groups that expressly target India such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and
Jaish-e-Mohammed as they are listed under the UN Security Council’s resolution
October, Pakistan submitted a 27-point action plan to be implemented in 15
months. After Pakistan was placed on the Grey List, Pakistan made a high-level
commitment to work with FATF “to address its strategic counter-terrorist
financing-related deficiencies.” Though Pakistan technically has over a year,
any progress it makes — or doesn’t — will be discussed in the AsiaPacific group
meetings in January and the plenary in February.
got a reprieve from China, which has blocked UNSC sanctions on the JEM chief
Maulana Masood Azhar from 2016.
was part of the terrorist-for-hostage swap that ended the Kandahar hijacking in
1999. That is a sore point between India and China and has also led Pakistani
authorities to relax curbs on terror leaders like LeT’s Hafiz Saeed who
continue to operate freely. As the US plans its exit from Afghanistan, Pakistan
can expect, according to diplomatic sources, to come under pressure regarding
its support to Taliban and other terror groups in Afghanistan like the Haqqani
to the FATF statement, its internal investigations found ISIL would use oil
revenues to fund its operations. But, after its defeat on the ground, ISIL is
moving to other means — “self-funding, crowd-funding, contributions from
family” to extortion, kidnapping and looting to funding small terror cells and
Al Qaeda, the FATF in its public statement notes the “resurgence” of AQ and
linked entities in some areas, who depend on financing by “sympathisers”. The
statement says, “in some regions Al Qaeda and affiliates are now moving from stable
funding to one-time payments for specific terror acts or military operations.”
According to sources, these would describe recent terror attacks in
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader and ex-MNA Syed Ali Raza Abidi was shot
dead in Karachi's DHA neighbourhood on Tuesday evening, Deputy Inspector
General (DIG) South Javed Alam Odho said. He was 46.
unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire on Abidi's car near his
residence on Khayaban-e-Ghazi street in DHA's Phase V, according to Station
House Office Gizri Asad Mangi.
was alone in his car when the attack took place and was taken to PNS Shifa
hospital by his father, Akhlaq Abidi.
former MQM leader succumbed to his injuries during treatment, SSP South Pir
Muhammad Shah said.
postmortem examination showed that Abidi sustained four bullet wounds — two on
his chest, one on his neck and as many on his arm.
and Rangers personnel cordoned off the site of the attack and are collecting
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Syed Kaleem Imam took notice of the
incident and sought a report from police authorities. Sindh Chief Minister
Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought an investigative
MQM-Pakistan chief Farooq Sattar while talking to reporters after Abidi's
demise said "[he] was like my children".
had raised him with our own hands, he was Pakistan's future. With what
cowardice and coldness he was targeted and martyred."
footage of the incident, seen by Dawn.com, shows Abidi's car approaching and
then stopping at his residence's gate. Just before the gate is opened, however,
two motorcycle-riding assailants stop by Abidi's car. One of the attackers,
wearing a cap, gets off the bike and opens fire from the driver's side.
attackers were expert in target killings," Raja Umar Khattab, a senior
official of Sindh Police's Counter-Terrorism Department, told Dawn. He noted
that the shooter had targeted Abidi within a span of just 10 seconds.
assailants had been closely following Abidi's car, Khattab added.
politician and restaurateur
was elected to the National Assembly in the 2013 general elections from
Karachi's NA-251 constituency on an MQM ticket.
November 2017, he had opposed Sattar and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman
Mustafa Kamal's short-lived alliance, and even announced that he was resigning
from his NA seat as "this is not what I believed in and stood for".
was one of the leaders who had stood with former convener Sattar in the buildup
to the 2018 elections when MQM-P was subject to an internal power battle.
contested the July 25 elections from Karachi's NA-243 constituency, but was
defeated by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
September this year, Abidi tendered in his resignation from the MQM-Pakistan's
"basic membership" citing "personal reasons".
studied marketing at Boston University in the United States and also attended
Iqra University in Karachi, according to his Facebook profile. He was the owner
of the famous Karachi eatery, 'Biryani of the Seas'.
was quite active on Twitter, with his last tweet coming just four hours before
the fatal attack on him.
is the second incident of violence aimed at political parties or personalities
in Karachi within a span of three days.
Sunday, two workers of the PSP — which is an MQM offshoot — were shot dead and
two others injured in an attack by armed pillion riders on the party’s office
in Rizvia Society.
Although terrorism and targeted killings committed by banned sectarian outfits
have been decreasing in the metropolis since 2013 because of a continuous
operation by the security forces, there have been three major acts of
terrorism, including the deadly attack on the Chinese consulate, during 2018
which were allegedly perpetrated by sub-nationalist groups, it emerged on
city also witnessed a ‘bomb attack’ on a gathering of a political party and
killing of workers of another political party, and the police apprehended that
‘political killings’ might emerge as another challenge for them in the near
policemen were also shot dead in the outgoing year, but the TTP claimed
responsibility for the killing of one policeman while the two other policemen
might have fallen victim to “sectarianism or revenge killing”, said police
on Chinese consulate
gun-cum-grenade attack by three militants linked to the banned Balochistan
Liberation Army on the Chinese consulate in Clifton was considered a major act
of terrorism in 2018, which claimed the lives of two policemen and two visa
applicants, father and son, before all attackers were eliminated.
Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officer-in-charge of the Transnational
Terrorism Intelligence Group (TTIG) Raja Umar Khattab told Dawn that
“significant progress” had been made in the case.
Khattab, who is investigating the case, recalled that the CCTV footage obtained
from outside the consulate showed that one of the attackers after being shot at
and wounded by policeman posted there crawled towards the wall of nearby house.
attacker opened a burst on himself from his Kalashnikov after being injured
apparently to avoid arrest by law enforcers who had arrived at the scene,” said
the CTD official while sharing the CCTV footage.
the two other attackers who proceeded to the reception room of the consulate,
one was killed at a “close range” as per the medical report, indicating the
possibility that he also committed suicide by shooting himself to death to
avoid arrest, opined Mr Khattab.
was a suicide mission,” added the official.
BLA claimed responsibility even when the operation was going under way. “The
attack on the Chinese consulate was RAW-inspired to target CPEC,” said the TTIG
claimed that they had “proofs” that the planning of the attack on the foreign
mission was carried out abroad and funds were also provided from abroad. “We
have evidences that the China consulate attackers were in contact with their
masters abroad,” he said.
also believed that the bomb attack under Quaidabad flyover, which claimed the
lives of two teenage vendors, and the car ‘bomb explosion’ in Defence were also
‘foreign-inspired’ terror acts.
Khattab suggested that the modus operandi and type of explosives used in the
Quaidabad incident indicated the involvement of Sindhi sub-nationalist groups.
“There was a link between Sindhi and Baloch sub-nationalist groups and they
were being operated from abroad.”
for the Defence explosion, he said the CCTV footage obtained from the area
showed that two suspects driving a car and a motorbike arrived there and parked
the car on a plot to carry out the explosion through gas cylinders. Later on,
they left the place on the motorbike.
was a lot of resemblance in all these three terror acts,” said the official.
recalled that around two and half years back, the Sindhi sub-nationalist group
had carried out an act of terrorism near the parking plaza in Saddar in which
the both attackers were killed when an improvised explosive device attached to
a motorbike exploded “accidentally”.
teams were working on these three terror acts and Mr Khattab was hopeful that
they would “eliminate” the threat posed by sub-nationalist groups in the city.
policemen, including a traffic police official, were shot dead in the city
banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in a video claimed the responsibility for the
killing of a Gulberg police official, Shakir Ali.
the killing of another policeman, Syed Ahmed Abbas Rizvi, in New Karachi, the
CTD official cited two possible motives. He might have fallen victim to
“sectarianism” as being member of the Shia community. In the same area, two
members of the banned Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat were shot dead by gunmen riding a
motorcycle and the policeman’s killing might have been carried out in
Mr Khattab recalled that Abbas Rizvi was also a “witness” in a criminal case
against two sectarian militants and he had been appearing in the case for the
previous three and half years owing to which the held accused could not get
TTIG head said the killing of traffic police official Mohammad Rafiq off the
Superhighway was also a terror act and they suspected the involvement of the
“sleeper cell” of banned militant outfits.
Umar Khattab, who has extensively investigated terror acts in the city for the
last several years, said the banned TTP and AQIS had been “weakened” due to the
continuous operation by the security forces while the Ansarul Sharia Pakistan
had been “almost wiped out”.
the recent past, these three militant groups openly targeted police mobiles and
carried out IED explosions, but their capacity to challenge the law enforcers
and carry out bomb blasts had been “significantly reduced”.
TTP or the AQIS now make “soft target” such as a lone policeman.
Mr Khattab apprehended that Afghanistan-based IS, or Daesh, still posed a
IS prefers specific targets such as shrines in Sindh and Balochistan,” said the
of killings on political grounds
city also witnessed a ‘low-intensity bomb’ attack during a function organised
by the MQM-P in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, which caused injuries to eight persons, and
the police suspected “internal rifts” behind the incident.
two workers of the Pak Sarzameen Party were shot dead and two others were
wounded in an attack on the party’s office in Rizvia Society on Dec 23.
Khattab apprehended that “political killings” might increase in the city in the
future. He said during interrogation of a suspect belonging to the ‘South
Africa network’ and others recently, it had transpired that certain elements
were allegedly planning “political killings” in the metropolis.
“differences” have been intensified among different groups, which might give
rise to targeted killings on political grounds.
personnel ‘counter-terror force’ established
CTD official said that to enhance the capacity of the police, the army had
trained 964 policemen who would be made members of the ‘counter-terror force’
recently established by the Sindh CTD to fight terrorism.
officials have approved plans for the construction of roughly 1,300 homes in
the West Bank, irrespective of the international outcry against the Tel Aviv
regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in the occupied
Tuesday, the High Planning Subcommittee of Israel's so-called Civil
Administration gave the green light for 1,289 units in 23 different projects.
total of 744 homes obtained final approval for construction, while 545 others
had their plans cleared ahead of being considered for a final okay.
authorities are slated to pass the construction of 418 homes on Wednesday, with
294 gaining final approval for construction and 192 clearing the earlier
than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations
Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and
completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian
territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.
600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967
Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East
want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East
Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major
sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement
expansion on Palestinian territories.
backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” earlier this
year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.
at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very
happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” the US
president said during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on February 15.
ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Said Al Jaber said Saudi Arabia’s help to Yemen’s
legitimate government on the military and diplomatic fronts has made the recent
negotiations feasible noting that if the Kingdom had done nothing, Yemen would
have become a “failed state, divided between an Iranian proxy force and other
terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS.”
in an op-ed entitled “The Saudis Want Peace in Yemen” published in The Wall
Street Journal on Sunday, Jaber said that “he found renewed hope” in the recent
negotiations in Sweden between the Houthis and the delegation of Yemen’s
legitimate government. However, he added: “As someone who has attended every
mediation effort, I see the agreements reached in Sweden as encouraging. But
words are not enough. The Houthis have repeatedly violated cease-fires and
ignored their negotiators’ promises.”
said the Kingdom wants Yemen to make the most from this new chance for peace,
noting that “this means no more rationalizing of Houthi violations, whether the
orders come from Sana’a or Tehran.”
added that the Kingdom’s aim in Yemen is restoring unity and stability under
Arabia’s goal in Yemen is the restoration of Yemen’s unity, independence,
sovereignty and stability, under a legitimate and recognized government that
can serve the Yemeni people. This month’s diplomatic progress, almost
unthinkable until recently, should inspire optimism in everyone. We must all
work together to bring peace to Yemen,” he added.
air defenses have responded to a number of air raids in the vicinity of
Damascus, Syrian media reported Tuesday night.
Arabiya’s correspondent said that the Israeli raids near Damascus were carried
out from Lebanon’s airspace.
director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Israeli raids
were targeting weapons storage areas of Iranian militias and Hezbollah
positions in the countryside of Damascus.
Abdulrahman told Al Arabiya’s sister channel Al Hadath that Israeli raids
targeted the western and southern suburbs of Damascus.
television Al-Ekhbariya carried a breaking ticker saying air defenses had
intercepted missiles. But it only referred to “hostile targets” in a later
state-run National News Agency said Israeli war planes performed mock raids
above southern Lebanon.
the start of his mission to monitor the ceasefire in Hodeidah, Retired Dutch
general Patrick Cammaert was seen sitting with a member of the Houthi militia
leader who was wearing a uniform belonging to the Yemeni army.
militant leader in question is Abu Ali al-Kahlani, who was photographed wearing
a Yemeni military uniform with the rank of colonel. He is currently on a wanted
list and has worked on the personal protection team of Houthi militia leader
is just another example of how the militants are presenting themselves to the
UN mission as the local authority charged with protecting the security in
to sources in Hodeidah, the militias have begun a series of early measures to
reinforce its presence by ordering their elements to wear the Central Security
and police uniforms, painting their vehicles and cars with the military colors,
deploying fighters with the military uniforms in police stations and Hodeidah
conflicting reports of his fate, Iranian authorities finally announced on
Monday the death of the Head of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Mahmoud
Hashemi Shahroudi, in a hospital in the capital Tehran after a struggle with
human rights groups accuse Shahroudi, who died at the age of 70, of overseeing
2,000 executions during his tenure as chief justice during a period of 10 years
(1999-2009). He was a close ally to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and
was considered a potential successor by observers.
cut off a visit to Germany for treatment in January when Iranian and German
activists filed a complaint against him for "crimes of murder and crimes
gathered in front of the International Center for Neurology in Hanover and protested
against Shahroudi and the Iranian regime. They accused him of carrying out
death sentences, arbitrary arrests, torture of critics and political prisoners,
and in some cases executions of young men under the age of 18 when he was chief
former German MP, Volker Beck, filed a complaint against Shahroudi, and called
on the judicial authorities in the state of Lower Saxony in Germany to arrest
him and try him on charges of murder, human rights violations and crimes
rights groups say he has contributed to arbitrary arrests of political
activists, banned dozens of newspapers, and many journalists and bloggers faced
long imprisonment sentences because of him.
addition to his positions is the judiciary and the Council of Expediency
Discernment, he was considered a Shiite reference in Iran and Iraq. He was born
in the Iraqi city of Najaf in 1948 and studied in its Houza. He moved to Iran
after the revolution in 19179 and joined the Association of Combatant Clergy.
was the head of Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq before it was led by Mohammad
Baqir al Hakim. The organization was the most powerful Shiite opposition group
loyal to Iran and he co-founded and supervised it throughout the 1980s until
the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003.
the death of Shahroudi, a number of prominent political and religious figures
are being named in the country as potential successors, namely Ebrahim Raisi,
the former presidential candidate.
says it is determined to continue its “fight” against terrorism, stressing that
Ankara does not need any “permission” from the Israeli regime to fight terror.
is out of the question for Turkey to get permission or consent from Israel” to
fight against terrorism, Turkey's English-language Hurriyet Daily News
newspaper on Tuesday quoted Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin as
telling reporters the day before.
said Ankara would equally need no permission from any “country” in the world to
carry out its anti-terror operations.
comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a Twitter
post on Sunday, attacked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Ankara’s
counterterror operations in northern Syria, calling him “the occupier of
Turkish leader hit back at Netanyahu in a tweet, saying the Israeli premier is
heading “state terror.”
“may have confused his language. Rather, he wanted to say that they are
invading Palestine and murdering women and children,” Erdogan added, calling
the Israeli prime minister as “the voice of the tyrants.”
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday likened Netanyahu to
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, which Ankara views as terrorists.
in his remarks, Kalin described as “historic” the December 14 “telephone call”
between Erdogan and President Donald Trump of the United States that “led” to
Washington’s decision to pull out its 2,000 ground troops from Syria.
spokesman added that Trump’s decision was made as a “result” of Erdogan’s
convincing argument over the phone with the US leader.
said that Erdogan told the US president “loud and clear” that Ankara and
Washington did not need the Syrian Kurdish militants of the People's Protection
Units (YPG) to fight against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, two groups in
war-ravaged Syria that Turkey lists as terrorist organizations.
last year, Washington infuriated Ankara by announcing a plan for the formation
of a Kurdish militant force in Syria near the Turkish border. The plan prompted
Turkey to launch a cross-border military operation code-named Operation Olive
Branch on January 20 inside the Arab country with the declared aim of
eliminating YPG from northern Syria, particularly the Afrin region.
US-backed YPG, which controls swathes of Syria's northern border region, forms
the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus
alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants supported by Washington.
views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since
which has long been exasperated by the US support of the YPG Kurdish militants
in Syria, warmly welcomed Trump’s abrupt decision and stressed that both Ankara
and Washington were coordinating to ensure there is no “authority vacuum” once
the American troops withdraw.
has given a degree of authority to the Kurdish regions to run their own
affairs. Washington, however, used the power vacuum to establish a foothold in
those regions with the help of militants.
Ankara is strongly against recognizing the territory on its border, fearing it
will stoke the separatist ambitions of Kurds in Turkey.
US-led military coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said
to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization
from Damascus or a United Nations mandate.
military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians.
It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying
has warned France against supporting US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG)
in northern Syria, in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision last
week to withdraw American troops from the war-ravaged Arab country.
France is staying to contribute to Syria's future, great, but if they are doing
this to protect the (militants), this will bring no benefit to anyone,”
Turkish-language Hurriyet daily newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Mevlut
Cavusoglu as saying on Tuesday.
considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous
region inside Turkey since 1984.
further noted that Ankara has “the power to neutralize Daesh alone” amid
speculations that the US exit from Syria would influence the military campaign
against the Takfiri terrorist group.
top Turkish diplomat then criticized French “support” of the YPG, which he said
was "no secret."
also slammed French officials' meetings with senior officials from the
political wing of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has YPG
as its backbone, in Paris last week.
said the US withdrawal “should not serve the YPG's separatist agenda.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that a Turkish
delegation would head to Moscow “today or tomorrow” to discuss the planned US
troops pullout from Syria.
added he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for
face-to-face talks about the issue.
preparation for operation in east of Euphrates going as planned’
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said preparations for a military operation
campaign in the eastern bank of the Euphrates River against Kurdish YPG
militants are proceeding as planned.
has been planned and programmed. Everything is going according to it [the plan]
and in line with the schedule,” Akar told reporters ahead of the ruling Justice
and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara
noted that talks will be held with US officials within the next few days on a
roadmap for Manbij.
on the Manbij roadmap is continuing intensively,” Akar pointed out.
said Turkish military officials are in contact with their US counterparts,
adding that further information on the roadmap’s timetable will be released
once it is finalized.
northern Syrian town of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the
Euphrates, has been a major bone of contention between Ankara and Washington.
has complained over the slow implementation of a deal reached with the United
States in June, which would see the YPG ousted from the town and moved back to
the eastern bank of the river.
the past few days, the Turkish military has been sending reinforcements to
frontline areas with YPG militants in northern Syria.
and Russia announced that they do not oppose a return to Libyan political life
by Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of later ruler Moammar.
in the Italian government had stated that Rome “cannot claim that Seif al-Islam
has no right to pursue a leadership role in his country.”
cannot oppose his return to politics if he enjoys popular support, he added.
“This is democracy.”
made his remarks in wake of a surprise visit paid to Libya by Italian Prime
Minister Giuseppe Conte over the weekend.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, meanwhile, said that Seif al-Islam
should play a role in Libya.
RIA news agency said that one of Seif al-Islam’s representatives had delivered
a letter from him to Moscow earlier this month in which he had set out ideas
for the political future of Libya and that he was in regular contact with
support everyone. We believe that nobody should be isolated or excluded from a
constructive political role,” RIA cited Bogdanov as saying.
why we are maintaining contacts with all groups who are based in the west, east
and south of the country ... Seif al-Islam has the backing of specific tribes
in specific areas of Libya and all this should be part of the overall political
process with the participation of other political forces.”
President Omar al-Bashir said on Tuesday that “some traitors, infiltrators and
agents have exploited the living hardship and conditions to vandalize” and that
“mercenaries are working to sabotage in service of the enemies of Sudan”.
statements come a day after he vowed to carry out broad economic reforms amid
days of protests that have gripped the country.
police deployed heavily around Sudan’s capital Tuesday as protesters threatened
to march on Bashir’s palace to call for his resignation following days of
is mired in economic difficulties including an acute foreign currency shortage
and soaring inflation.
crisis has worsened despite the lifting of an economic embargo by the United
States last October.
is running at close to 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value,
while shortages have been reported across several cities including Khartoum.
Turkish arms shipment that was delivered to Libya threatens the country and
region, charged an Algerian security official.
told the daily al-Watan newspaper that the purpose of such activity is to not
only destabilize Libya, but send such an arsenal to unstable regions, including
rockets and 48 million rounds of ammunition that were recently discovered on
the Algerian-Libyan border are “a real declaration of war against us,” he
military and security forces are on highest alert to confront any attempt to
undermine our security,” he stressed.
also quoted official sources as saying that a plot was underway to destabilize
the Maghreb countries, wondering whether the chaos plaguing the Middle East
will spread to Africa.
week, Libyan authorities at al-Khoms port announced the discovery of two
containers that were loaded with arms from Turkey.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had also arrived in Libya Saturday for a
surprise visit where he held talks with head of the Government of National
Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj.
media aide to the parliament speaker Fathi al-Mariami condemned Cavusoglu’s
visit, saying it aims at “covering up for the weapons shipment that was headed
to terrorist and outlawed groups.”
people were killed following suicide attackers hitting the headquarters of
Libya's foreign ministry in Tripoli on Tuesday, according to Libyan security
say a second suicide bomber was shot dead by guards before he could detonate
his explosive vest.
officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized
to brief the media, say at least seven other people were wounded in Tuesday’s
one immediately claimed the attack, which bore the hallmarks of ISIS.
has been a haven for extremists since a 2011 uprising toppled dictator Moammar
Gadhafi. The country is split between rival governments, each backed by an
array of local militias.
International says it has received "credible reports" that Sudan's
security forces have shot dead nearly 40 protesters in clashes during
anti-government demonstrations that erupted last week in many parts of the
international rights group said in a statement late Monday it "has
credible reports that 37 protesters have been shot dead by the security forces
in five days of anti-government demonstrations."
Jackson, Amnesty's director for East Africa, the Great Lakes and the Horn, said
the use of lethal force by security forces against unarmed protesters was
fact that the security forces are using lethal force so indiscriminately against
unarmed protesters is extremely troubling," she said. "With dozens
already dead, the government must rein in this deadly use of force and prevent
more unnecessary bloodshed."
have expanded to a dozen cities across the country since last week in the wake
of a move by the government to triple the price of a loaf of bread.
authorities say eight protesters have been killed so far. Sudan's main
opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi on Saturday put the death toll at 22.
Tuesday, police used tear gas and fired in the air to disperse thousands of
protesters attempting to march on the presidential palace.
clips purported to show crowds of several hundred people gathering on the
roadside, heading toward the palace on the bank of the Blue Nile in the heart
of Khartoum. Large numbers of security forces were deployed across much of
Khartoum Tuesday in anticipation of the march, with soldiers riding in
protest was called by an umbrella of independent professional unions and
supported by the country's largest political parties, Umma and Democratic
Unionist. The organizers want to submit a petition demanding that President
Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power since he seized power in a 1989 military
coup, step down.
march follows nearly a week of protests initially sparked by rising prices and
shortages of food and fuel. The public display of anger later escalated into
calls for Bashir to go.
many as 14 Nigerian military and police personnel have been killed in an ambush
by armed Boko Haram group, the army said in a statement.
to the army statement issued on Tuesday, security forces were on escort duty
when they were attacked on Monday just outside Damaturu town in Yobe state in
the north of Nigeria.
statement signed by army spokesman Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said efforts to
pursue and "eliminate" the Boko Haram group are ongoing.
the group launched its campaign in 2009, Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000
people and forced two million others to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria.
military has been fighting the group since then and despite the government's
insistence that it is near defeat, northern Nigeria is still beleaguered by
the years, Boko Haram, which wants to form a breakaway state, has kidnapped
thousands of adults and children.
Boko Haram continued threat is a major issue for President Muhammadu Buhari as
he seeks a second term in the upcoming election in February.
a latest attempt to dissuade migrants and refugees from settling in the
Scandinavian countries, a Swedish national broadcaster has raised the
challenges posed by frigid, dark weather conditions for dark-skinned people and
darkness of the Nordic countries during the winter can lead to Vitamin D
deficiencies for people with dark skin and "Muslim women who wear
all-covering clothing," according to national broadcaster STV, as reported
by the Sputnik International. The number of Muslims living in Sweden has been
estimated at around 800,000 or roughly 8 percent of the country's population.
At over 90,000, the Somalis are the largest population group from Africa living
one of Europe's most liberal countries, took in more asylum seekers than any
other European country per capita in 2015. Since then, worries over immigration
have grown in the country, as it explains some of the Sweden Democrat's gains
in the latest elections.
rising anti-immigrant hatred has boosted Swedish far-right for elections. The
Sweden Democrats, a party with white supremacist roots, won 17.6 percent, about
5 percentage points more than four years ago. It was the biggest gain made by
any party. The Sweden Democrats' success follows a rise in popularity of other
far-right parties in Europe amid growing anxiety over national identity, the
effects of globalization and fears over immigration boosted by conflicts in the
Middle East and Africa. Tough measures against immigrants go against the grain
for many in Sweden, a country of 10 million which once called itself "a
humanitarian superpower" that generously welcomed migrants fleeing
Sept. 9 election produced a hung parliament with the left-leaning side and the
center-right bloc each securing about 40 percent, leading to months of complex
coalition talks. Unless parties on the center-left and center-right break rank
with their blocs, it is likely to be impossible to form a stable government
without some kind of support from the Sweden Democrats, who want the country to
leave the EU and freeze immigration. All attempts at forming a government have
been without the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats. Other parties have refused to
cooperate with the party despite its increased vote in the election.
assails greed, pilgrims celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem
Francis assailed the “insatiable greed” of today’s consumerism at the Vatican
and pilgrims crowded into the church at the traditional site of Jesus’s birth
in Bethlehem on Tuesday as Christmas celebrations began worldwide.
attended mass on Monday night at the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Basilica, where
Pope Francis, the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, offered his
insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a
few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to
survive,” the 82-year-old pope said.
Francis will deliver his sixth “Urbi et Orbi” address on Tuesday, Christmas Day
— when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ — to pilgrims gathered in
Saint Peter’s Square.
from across the world gathered in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve ahead of midnight
mass, queueing to see the grotto where Jesus is believed to have been born and
taking in a festive parade.
the “little town” in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian scouts and a
bagpipe band paraded in Manger Square across from the Church of the Nativity,
built where Christians say Mary gave birth to Jesus.
some wearing Santa hats or holding balloons, looked on at the square decked out
with a giant Christmas tree and a manger as carols in Arabic played through
a great opportunity to be in such a symbolic location for Christmas,” said Lea
Gudel, a 21-year-old French student studying in Jerusalem, who was in Manger
Square on Monday morning.
in the day, musical groups took the stage at Manger Square in front of the
Christmas tree, illuminated as night fell, to sing Christmas carols.
year, visitors were also able to view the Church of the Nativity’s newly
restored mosaics dating to the Crusader era after they were recently cleaned
and repaired in a major project.
first church was built on the site in the fourth century, though it was
replaced after a fire in the sixth century.
newer and more spacious church, St. Catherine, is located next door to the
basilica and is where midnight mass is held.
of worshippers crowded into the stone church for the mass led by the Catholic
archbishop for the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
president Mahmud Abbas was among dignitaries in attendance.
in his homily spoke of a “responsibility of caring for the city and the land
where we live.”
to own or occupy it, but to transform it from a simple urban area of private
services and personal interests, to an area and place that provides the
experience of communion, peace, relationship and sharing.”
out in Washington
located near Jerusalem but cut off from the city by Israel’s separation
barrier, has seen an increase in visitors this season after several down years
due to unrest linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian tourism
officials and hotel operators have reported their strongest season in years.
year is much more calm, much better than last year,” said Abeer Nasser, a
Palestinian from the nearby town of Beit Sahour celebrating in Bethlehem with
her son and daughter.
year I feel more in the mood to celebrate despite the political situation,” the
37-year-old added, referring to the Israeli occupation.
Bethlehem, Christians worldwide were beginning to mark Christmas after a year
in which leaders warned over violence against fellow worshippers.
Friday, Pope Francis said “new extremist groups spring up and target churches,
places of worship, ministers and members of the faithful.”
year’s celebrations come after a year of tumult, much of which has come from
Washington, where the festive spirit was dampened when the national Christmas
tree went dark on the third day of a US government shutdown.
US National Park Service said that it would remain unlit and closed to the
public “until further notice,” with checks being made for damage following an
attempt by an intruder on Friday to climb the tree.
tree, whose spectacular lights were switched on at a ceremony attended by US
President Donald Trump earlier this month, became a forlorn symbol of the
dysfunction gripping Washington two years into his presidency.
Britain, Queen Elizabeth II will call for respect and civility in a Christmas
message delivered with the country badly divided over its impending exit from
Francis used his Christmas message Tuesday to appeal for peace in conflict
zones such as Syria and Yemen.
wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity. Fraternity among
individuals of every nation and culture. Fraternity among people with different
ideas... Fraternity among persons of different religions,” he said in his
traditional “Urbi and Orbi” (To the City and to the World) address in Saint
pontiff said he hoped a truce in conflict-ravaged Yemen would end the war.
thoughts turn to Yemen, in the hope that the truce brokered by the
international community may finally bring relief to all those children and
people,” he said.
Pope also evoked the war in Syria, from where US President Donald Trump has
decided to pull out some 2,000 troops in a controversial decision, arguing that
ISIS has been defeated.
the international community work decisively for a political solution... so that
the Syrian people, especially all those who were forced to leave their own
lands and seek refuge elsewhere, can return to live in peace in their own
country,” he said.
6.00pm on Friday evening, December 21, Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden is
domineering and still. The lights have been turned out in Britain's largest
Muslim place of worship, belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC), a
relatively new sect of the faith having been incepted just before the turn of
the 20th century.
the daunting structure, I'm led to another more lively wing of the complex,
where the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) are busily preparing drums
of food to package and haul into central London as part of a massive drive over
the winter period.
1,000 AMYA members across 148 chapters throughout the country are planning to
volunteer between December 15 and January 1 in order to help fight loneliness
and serve other vulnerable people, visiting hospitals and care homes, spending
time with the elderly, giving out flowers, gifts and cards and distributing
food to the homeless.
some places such as Yorkshire, AMYA taxi drivers are offering free taxi
services to help the elderly get to prayer services. Others are holding blood
drives and working with local charities to support tree planting sessions. The
campaign plans to end on New Year's Day with a massive cleaning initiative,
where volunteers will be picking up litter from the streets.
initiative not only comes at a season of heightened vulnerability, it's taking
place where the statistics in England, and Britain, are stark.
to Age UK, there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK,
over 2.2 million people aged 75 and over live alone in Great Britain, a figure
which has increased over the last 20 years. Last year, the age related charity
released research to show that nearly one million people feel lonelier at
it comes to homelessness, estimated numbers vary – charity Crisis estimate
20,000 in England and Shelter has said there are 320,000 homeless people in
Britain. In any case, organisations believe numbers to be a lot higher than the
government-estimated rough sleeping counts, which was last recorded to be 4,751
in England, according to the Office for National Statistics. Almost 600 people
living on the streets died in England and Wales last year.
Ahmedi, an AMC Imam, explains that what they're doing is linked to their faith:
"Islam teaches that loyalty to your nation is part of your faith. So
looking after those who are part of your nation, is part of Islam." He
adds that they do it on a weekly basis – Ahmedi speaks among the crowd of
volunteers that Friday evening, where children and adults between seven and 60
years' old had joined in the effort to help cook, pack and then go on to
distribute the food.
with Christmas being that time of year that's focused on family, those already
lonely could be hit harder, Ahmedi says by having a big holiday drive, those
people "can also feel they are part of something and belong
remember one gentleman saying that what some of the youth were doing was
actually 'saving our lives'," pipes up Qamar Zafar, one of a pair of twins
who also both graduated as Imams recently, by relieving some of the loneliness
admits some people are a little sceptical when they're seen approaching with
their beards and other hallmarks of the faith, that they're half expected to
start preaching. But he insists that's not what they do at all, although
"it serves a dual purpose," Zafar says because it dispels the
negative image people have about Muslims.
inadvertently there seems to be a third goal as well. As we await for the cars
to be loaded with food and donated clothes, Zafar points to some of the
members, making reference that they'd had a hard time lately.
some having lost loved ones or who were in need of medical attention, he says
the community acts as a support network for them and getting involved in the
charity work distracts them from their own personal challenges.
describes itself as a revival movement in Islam, started in 1889 and present in
over 200 countries with tens of millions of members. It's the only Islamic
organisation with a living Khalifa, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, and they believe the
Messiah has already come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who lived
quite big on charity and missionary work, the Imams who graduate, like Sabah
and Qamar, who at 24 represent the millennial contingent, go overseas to help
Ahmadiyya are also widely known to be persecuted, particularly in Pakistan and
India where they're not considered Muslims. While in the West, discrimination
is not so acute, Zafar says there have been some clerics who've written against
the community and when it comes to integration with mainstream Muslims, he
says, they don't seem to want to know.
reaching Charing Cross, the AMYA team park up and join a seemingly popular
spot, near adjacent to the main train station off the Strand.
Portilla is another volunteer who comes to the area every last Friday of the
month with her church. For Christmas they were front and centre among the
numerous other volunteers and those who they'd come to try and help, giving out
hot food and clothes.
rest of Portilla's group catches quite a bit of attention with the music
blaring, dancing in yellow high vis vests and Santa hats.
are celebrating Christmas, it's Jesus birthday," she explains.
"Everything we bring is homemade, we believe sharing is love."
Portilla and fellow church goers occupy the space every month she admits that
over the ten years they've been coming, they see a lot of groups at this time
fact, having been served up a number of offerings, some of those sleeping rough
on the streets politely decline AMC's food as they had received enough for the
something you'd never see at any other time of year," says Zafar.
are still pushing forward however. Kashif Khan, AMYA's Welfare Officer, says
their Christmas drive this year is the biggest they're attempting. Last year
they managed to feed around 4,000 people in December while this year their
target for distributing food is 7,000 – 1,500 on Christmas Day alone.
Ambitious, but Khan says they have more volunteers now too.
trying to get more of our younger volunteers involved," he says, giving
them first hand experience of how tough it is on the streets and a sense of
some may be overwhelmed by the effort, others are deeply appreciative, either as
their first meal of the night or something to save for later, and also for just
through the subways of Charing Cross station, where some have taken shelter
from the bite of a December chill in England, they meet a man and woman clearly
settled in for more than the night.
academicians from US, Canada visit Turkey
group of Muslim academicians teaching at universities in the U.S. and Canada
visited Turkey and attended a conference on Tuesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran also attended the conference, which
was jointly organized by Turkey's Center for Strategic Research (SAM) and
at the conference Kiran said Turkey is closely following the U.S.’s
investigation into Fetullah Terrorist Organization’s (FETO) activities.
and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July
15, 2016 in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state
through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military,
police, and judiciary.
hope that the investigations will reveal the evil and unlawful attempts of this
terror network," Yavuz Selim Kiran said at the conference.
added that the FETO is continuing to "spread its poison" in the U.S.
said Turkey encourages all Muslim organizations in the U.S. to act in
place utmost importance at increasing contacts between American Muslims and
Turkey," the deputy foreign minister said.
strongly believe that you will disseminate real message of Islam and its
universal values, which is a religion of peace," he added.
Chaplain Bridges" project of Turken Foundation aims to introduce Turkish
culture to Muslims in the universities of the U.S. and Canada.
part of the project which will continue till Jan. 2, 2019, the 40-member
delegation arrived in Turkey.
presence of a US destroyer in the Persian Gulf has been described as an
“insignificant” show of force to Iran by the United States.
US aircraft carrier accompanied by a fleet of warships entered the Persian Gulf
for the first time since 2001.
University Professor of political science, Hamed Mousavi, said in an interview
published by RT on Tuesday that the presence of the US fleet in the Persian
Gulf was considered a provocative move;
however, it lacked any real significance.
don’t think we are going to see a military confrontation. But bringing the
aircraft carrier, a nuclear armed aircraft carrier near Iranian waters is
trying to provoke Iran and also threaten Iran,” the faculty member said, adding
that, “The significance is, right now at least, more of a threat rather than
actual military confrontation.”
professor said that the presence of the fleet aimed to exert pressure on
think it is part of a larger strategy of the Trump administration trying to
pressure Iran. This administration, since taking to office nearly two years,
has been trying to pressure Iran via sanctions and via threats and now bringing
the aircraft carrier very near to the Iranian waters is very provocative,” he
downplayed the move as mere bluffs by the cash-strapped US government.
is discussion within Iran over whether the US, under the Trump administration,
is ever going to attack Iran. And I don’t think that is going to happen because
the US is essentially in no position to make any new major wars because the US
right now has a public debt of around $22 trillion. And public opinion in the
US is very much against starting a new war,” he argued.
has repeatedly warned US forces that trespassing in Iranian territorial waters
would be warded off with a strong response.
US 5th Fleet is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf with carriers, ships,
strike aircraft, sailors and marines and has been involved in occasional
confrontations with Iranian forces.
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