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Islamic World News (03 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Muslim-Americans Offer to Stand Guard at Jewish Sites across US to Prevent Vandalism
















Promoting peace: Storyteller Aman Ali (right), the Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali and Deborah Robinson of the U.S. Consulate. K. Pichumani   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

 

Muslim-Americans Offer to Stand Guard at Jewish Sites across US to Prevent Vandalism

Kenya Forces Kill About 60 Shabab Militants in Somalia

Germany High School Bans Muslims Students from Praying

Oscars 2017: Pakistan UN representative criticised for withdrawing congratulations to Mahershala Ali over first Muslim win

 

India

Hafiz Saeed’s Son Hints at Dawood-Jihad Link

When Gandhi Supported an Islamic Caliphate

Full-body scanners at 2 cross-LoC points in Jammu and Kashmir

India-Bangladesh Border Gates close, bus to Kolkata stuck

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Pakistan

Oscars 2017: Pakistan UN representative criticised for withdrawing congratulations to Mahershala Ali over first Muslim win

Two soldiers, 5 terrorists killed in Bannu, Islamabad

Opposition in Pakistan over arms deal with Myanmar

Opposition parties want Fata merger before next polls

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South Asia

23 ISIS Militants Killed In Zabul and Nangarhar Provinces

‘New JMB spiritual leader’ Maulana Kashem arrested

Govt’s quick response to Afghan woman’s desperate plea widely hailed

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Southeast Asia

Islamists Bash Perlis Mufti for Demanding Shariah Bill Debate With Hadi

M'sian Chinese ManDidn’t Expect a Picture of Him Kissing Saudi King’s Forehead Would Go Viral

Saudi king urges fight against terrorism on Indonesia trip

Muslim lawyers: Zakir Naik suit attempt to check-and-balance Islam

Saudi king calls for moderate Islam

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Arab World

Palmyra To-And-Fro Is Like Watching ‘Tom And Jerry’: Syrian Opposition

Syria’s White Helmets, Trump, Pope Francis in Running For 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

Egypt acquits ex-president Hosni Mubarak on charges of killing protesters

Syrian Army Captures Ancient City of Palmyra

Several Euphrates Shield Operation Forces Killed by Army in Aleppo

Kurdish Forces to Surrender Villages in Western Manbij to Syrian Army

Army Continues to Advance in Eastern Damascus, Kills Al-Nusra Commander

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Mideast

Yemen: 40 Houthi Militants Killed and Injured In Al Jouf Province

Turkey Stands Against Agreement between SDF Kurds, Syrian Gov't

US pounds Qaeda in Yemen with over 20 strikes

Turkey ‘to strike Syrian Kurd militia’ unless it leaves Manbij

Witnesses: Aircraft launch attacks on suspected Qaeda targets in Yemen

Iran rejects 'delusional' Saudi-Malaysian statement

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Africa

Kenya Forces Kill About 60 Shabab Militants in Somalia

3 Mali Islamic Extremist Groups Merge, Pledge to Al-Qaida

Italy coastguard says almost 1,000 migrants rescued off Libya

US steps up in Somalia as al-Shabab proves a stubborn foe

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North America

Muslim-Americans Offer to Stand Guard at Jewish Sites across US to Prevent Vandalism

‘Each Mosque in U.S. Offers a Unique Experience’

2 US Mosques Get Hate Notes Calling for ‘Slaughter of Muslims’

University in Canada evacuated over anti-Muslim bomb threat

Anti-Muslim hate groups on the rise in the US

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Europe

Germany High School Bans Muslims Students from Praying

France’s Le Pen Loses EU Immunity over IS Tweets

Islam will be world’s largest religion by 2070

'Algeria's Orwell' urges writers to fight fundamentalism

Teenager jailed for seven years for attack on Jewish teacher in France

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-americans-offer-to-stand-guard-at-jewish-sites-across-us-to-prevent-vandalism/d/110274


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Muslim-Americans offer to stand guard at Jewish sites across US to prevent vandalism

March 3, 2017

Following a spate of attacks and threats on Jewish establishments, Muslim Americans have been offering to stand guard at sites across the US in a show of solidarity between people of Islamic and Jewish faiths.

In addition to documented vandalism – such as the desecration graves in Missouri and elsewhere – at least 100 bomb threats against Jewish sites across the country were reported by the religion’s JCC Association in January and February.

Outraged by the growing climate of anti-Semitism, former US Marine Tayyib Rashib tweeted: "If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it."

Mr Rashib, who refers to himself on social media as The Muslim Marine, added a series of comments which underpinned his stance.

“Our God reminds us that we can achieve peace & security ONLY when we wish for others what we wish for ourselves,” he said.

“If we care to establish peace and justice we must learn to see the world thru the eyes of the oppressed. I, Muslim Marine, stand with you.”

He also offered to meet in a coffee shop with members of the Jewish community and wider public to talk about their concerns.

Mr Rashib’s message quickly went viral and sparked a series of similar offers. 

Two Muslim American veterans, whose tweets are protected so not visible to all users, also expressed solidarity.

"I echo Muslim Marine - I’m a Muslim Veteran in Arizona and will readily stand guard at any Jewish Synagogue or Cemetery at ANY hour. #WeAreOne," said Nate Terani.

Khalid Whalid said: "Houston area Jewish community I spent ten years protecting our country and I will gladly protect Jewish places of worship if you need me!"

The JCC Association also tweeted a letter of support it received from the Valley Ranch Islamic Centre in Texas.

Muslim Americans have already been contributing to the effort to clean up vandalised Jewish cemeteries.

After an attack on a cemetery in Rochester, New York state, a group of local Muslims went directly to the site to help.

A fund set up by Islamic activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi to support the repair work quickly reached over $150,000, with donations still coming in.

In Florida, Muslim students showed solidarity with their Jewish peers by sending them flowers. 

Some critics have suggested the apparent rising atmosphere of anti-Semitism is connected to the rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

After a long period of silence regarding the attacks, the President appeared to suggest they may have been committed by members of the Jewish community themselves to undermine his administration.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/muslim-americans-jewish-sites-cemetery-us-vandalised-desecrated-a7608856.html

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Kenya Forces Kill About 60 Shabab Militants in Somalia

Mar 2, 2017

Kenyan troops have killed nearly 60 suspected members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group during a fierce fighting in southern Somalia, a Kenya’s military spokesman says.

Col. Joseph Owuoth said in a statement on Thursday that Kenyan soldiers under the African Union command used helicopter gunships and artillery against al-Shabab Takfiri militants in Afmadow, a town located about 100 kilometers inland from the port of Kismayo.

"In the onslaught, 57 al-Shabab militants were killed and unknown number injured," Owuoth said.

The spokesman added that at least five gun-mounted pickup trucks known as "technicals" were also destroyed in the offensive.

In January, al-Shabab militants targeted a Kenyan military base in the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow, near the Kenyan border.

Kenyan authorities said that nine soldiers lost their lives in the assault, while al-Shabab said it killed at least 66.

Last January, al-Shabab said it had killed over 100 Kenyan troops in El Adde, a Somali camp near the border with Kenya.

Suspected al-Shabab militants kidnap 3 teachers in Kenya

Meanwhile, Kenyan police said Thursday that gunmen had kidnapped at least three Kenyan teachers from Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

Three men with pistols abducted the teachers with the Udha Academy in the Hagadera section of the world's largest refugee camp, which hosts more than 300,000 Somali refugees.

Mohamud Saleh, the northeastern regional security coordinator, said security forces sealed the route into neighboring Somalia, where the gunmen are suspected to have come from.

Kenyan authorities say the camp has become a recruitment and training ground for al-Shabab.

Last January, al-Shabab said it had killed over 100 Kenyan troops in El Adde, a Somali camp near the border with Kenya.

Suspected al-Shabab militants kidnap 3 teachers in Kenya

Meanwhile, Kenyan police said Thursday that gunmen had kidnapped at least three Kenyan teachers from Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

Three men with pistols abducted the teachers with the Udha Academy in the Hagadera section of the world's largest refugee camp, which hosts more than 300,000 Somali refugees.

Mohamud Saleh, the northeastern regional security coordinator, said security forces sealed the route into neighboring Somalia, where the gunmen are suspected to have come from.

Kenyan authorities say the camp has become a recruitment and training ground for al-Shabab.

The government in Nairobi blamed al-Shabab for the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers from Dadaab camp in October 2011.

In June 2012, four international aid workers were kidnapped from Dadaab in an assault that saw a Kenyan driver killed.

The militant group has vowed revenge on Kenya for sending soldiers to Somalia to fight it.

Kenya says multiple cross-border attacks led to its decision to send troops to Somalia.

The al-Shabab militant group, which once had control over many parts of Somalia, including the capital city Mogadishu, aims to topple the central government and push out the African Union mission to Somalia, known as AMISOM, which is made up of soldiers from Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Ethiopia, and other African countries.

AMISOM and Somali troops driven al-Shabab out of all major urban strongholds and ports, but the group still stages attacks on targets in smaller, more remote areas, posing a threat to peace.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/02/512726/Kenya-Somalia-Afmadow-Shabab-Kulbiyow

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Germany high school bans Muslims students from praying

Mar 03, 2017

A high school in Germany’s western Wuppertal city has banned Muslim students from praying within the premises.

A circular was issued to teachers at the Gymnasium Johannes Rau school asking them to ‘identify names’ and report’ any cases of Muslim students praying in school to management.

The circular further read that the ban should be pointed out to students in a “friendly” manner.

“In recent weeks, it has been increasingly observed that Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others, signalled by ritual washings in the toilets, the rolling out of prayer mats and taking up certain postures. This is not permitted,” DW news quoted the document as saying.

This is not the first time a school has asked its Muslim students to stop from praying.

In 2011, a high-school student from Berlin-Wedding approached a court after he was not allowed to pray publicly.

Germany’s Administrative Court rejected his complaint on the grounds that his prayers would disturb the school peace.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/germany-high-school-bans-muslims-students-from-praying/story-BpHx3h6n5qUKFSX9gmPL8K.html

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Oscars 2017: Pakistan UN representative criticised for withdrawing congratulations to

March 3, 2017

The first Oscar win for a Muslim actor - Mahershala Ali for Moonlight - was applauded around the world on Sunday night, but caused controversy in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi deleted a tweet congratulating Ali, after other Twitter users started pointing out he is an Ahmadi - a member of an Islamic sect often persecuted for identifying as Muslim.

Article 260-3 of Pakistan’s Constitution declares Ahmadis “non-Muslims” and it is practically illegal to be one in the country.

Lodhi taking back her congratulations was fiercely criticised on social media.

“If Mahershala Ali identified as a Muslim in Pakistan, he’d be jailed for three years under the country’s anti-Ahmadi laws,” writer and activist Kashif N. Chaudry wrote.

“In Malaysia, Indonesia and much of the Arab world, he’d have to worship secretly in fear of attacks by mobs or arrest by State, and he’d be denied his right to enjoy religious freedom.

“Hence, it is very relevant to remember his #Ahmadiyya identity, and appreciate what layers of hate he had to cross to be the champ that he is.”

Ali discussed his conversion to Islam (“my ordained minister mother didn’t do backflips”) at the SAG Awards last month.

A first-time Oscar nominee, the 43-year-old beat Dev Patel, Jeff Bridges, Michael Shannon and Lucas Hedges to win the Supporting Actor award at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

“I want to thank my teachers, my professors,” Ali said during his acceptance speech. “One thing that they consistently told me… ‘It’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters’.” http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/oscars-2017-mahershala-ali-muslim-amahdi-pakistan-twitter-best-supporting-actor-award-moonlight-a7603366.html

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India

 

When Gandhi Supported an Islamic Caliphate

03rd March 2017

The Ottoman Caliphate was formally abolished on this day in 1924. Earlier, after a post-World War I treaty in 1920 envisaged a dismemberment of Turkey, the Congress under Gandhi struck an opportunistic alliance with the pan- Islamic Khilafat Movement

The Mahatma’s Khilafat folly why did Indian Muslims side with Turkey? The Ottoman Sultan was the titular head of the Muslim world. So when the Brits imposed the treaty on Turkey, they saw it as an attack on Islam. And Gandhi saw an opportunity to unite Hindus and Muslims. So, in an act of monumental folly, the pan-Islamic crusade became a part of the Non- Cooperation Movement

Malabar massacre of Hindus Inflamed by the preachings of the Khilafat Movement, the Mapillas of Kerala, “notorious for their fanaticism”, perpetrated large-scale murder and arson in the late summer of 1921, the violence directed as much against the Hindus as against the British, wrote Nirad C Chaudhuri

The only thing sincere in this Hindu-Muslim entente was the hatred of British rule, shared equally by both the communities. Its effervescence at the time made them overlook ... the danger of confirming the Indian Muslims in their Islamic group-consciousness

The Khilafat movement was a tragicomical mistake ... it was an intrinsically antinationalist movement pitting specifically Islamic interests against secular and non-Muslim interests ... By thinking he could reconcile Khilafatism and Indian nationalism, Gandhi also offended his Muslim allies (who didn’t share his commitment to non-violence) by calling off the agitation when it turned violent. The result was more violence Koenraad Elst, Indologist

http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2017/mar/03/when-gandhi-supported-an-islamic-caliphate-1576850.html

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Full-body scanners at 2 cross-LoC points in Jammu and Kashmir

Mar 2, 2017

NEW DELHI: Full-body scanners, capable of scanning the entire truck and its load, will soon be installed at two cross-LoC points along the Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote trading routes, with an aim to arresting smuggling of weapons, narcotics and other illegal items from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

According to sources in the home ministry, the negotiations for purchase of two full-body scanners are on the verge of finalisation and it may take six more months to install them at Salamabad and Chakan-da-Bagh trading posts in Uri and Poonch respectively. An Indian company will be supplying the full-body scanners, likely to cost Rs 60 crore each, possibly in tieup with a foreign partner.

The process for procuring the full body scanners started in 2015 but has been delayed due to multiple objections raised at the tender stage. "Such objections, alleging corruption in clearances relating to the tendering process, often hold up procurement deals. For instance, in the case of boats being procured by MHA on behalf of the states for coastal security, the deal had to be finally cancelled. However, the full-body scanner procurement, though delayed, may see light of the day," said a senior home ministry official.

The indication of clearance for installation of full-body scanners at Salamabad and Chakan da Bagh comes a day after J&K police recovered arms from a cross-LoC truck and arrested its driver. Reacting to the development, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted on Wednesday: "...full truck scanners flagged for acquisition...since Chidambaram was HM". "Every single meeting with them, this issue was flagged and followed up. Thus far there has been little or no progress with those scanners," he said in another tweet.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/full-body-scanners-at-2-cross-loc-points-in-jammu-and-kashmir/articleshow/57433594.cms

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India-Bangladesh Border Gates close, bus to Kolkata stuck

March 3, 2017

Around 51 bus passengers bound for Kolkata were stuck in the Bangladesh side of the border in Benapole on Thursday as they could not complete immigration formalities. The bus is a regular service that plies between the two countries. Passengers are required to have their papers cleared at certain counters at both sides before crossing the border.

On the day, however, the bus was delayed because of a protest en route to the border in Bangladesh, according to its driver Surojit Dey.

“We reached the Bangladesh gate at 5.30 pm and the formalities were completed by 5.55pm. However the gate in India had closed by then,” said Dey.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-bangladesh-border-gates-close-bus-to-kolkata-stuck-4551634/

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Pakistan

 

Two soldiers, 5 terrorists killed in Bannu, Islamabad

March 03, 2017

BANNU/Islamabad - Two Pakistan Army personnel, including an officer, were martyred in FR Bannu on Thursday, the day Army Chief promised to take on all fasaadis [miscreants] through Radd-ul Fasaad operation.

At least four militants were also killed in Bannu district in a gun fight sparked as security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation in Mullagano area of Jani Khel town, reported Geo News.

The terrorists hiding in the vicinity opened fire on security personnel. The military troops effectively retaliated to hostile gunfire, killing four terrorists. Lieutenant Khawar and Naik Shehzad were also martyred during the gunfight.

The Inter-Services Public Relations said on Thursday that security forces killed another terrorist and detained 22 suspects in different raids as part of Raddul Fasaad.

The Frontier Constabulary and intelligence agencies conducted a search operation in Andoor and Ketch areas of Balochistan.

“One terrorist was killed while 12 suspects were apprehended. A cache of arms and ammunition [was also] recovered,” the ISPR statement said, adding that one FC soldier was also injured in an exchange of fire with the militants.

In Punjab, Rangers conducted search operations in DG Khan, Rajanpur, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Attock and apprehended 10 suspects. The statement said that caches of ammunition and explosive material were recovered during the search operations.

Separately, Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa unit’s Orakzai Scouts carried out an intelligence-based combing operation in Darange and surrounding areas.

During the operation, nine suspected terrorists were apprehended and weapon and ammunition were recovered from their possession. A telephone exchange being used by the suspected terrorists was seized.

Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa yesterday visited Multan Garrison where he was given a briefing on operational preparedness of the Corps. The COAS also witnessed combat training exercise of troops at Muzaffargarh Field Firing Ranges, according to ISPR.

He complimented troops for displaying excellent training standards for conduct of both conventional and sub-conventional operations. He said that Pakistan Army by virtue of its combat experience over the years is second to none.

Talking to officers and troops, he also acknowledged their contributions towards internal security. He said that through the Operation Radd-ul Fasaad they will take on all ‘fasaadis’ and play their part in bringing back normalcy to the country.

Earlier, on arrival at Multan, the COAS was received by Commander Multan Corps Lieutenant General Sarfraz Sattar.

The Pakistan army launched the new operation following a series of terrorist attacks left over 100 people dead last month.

In an interview earlier this week, ISPR chief Asif Ghafoor said that Raddul Fasaad was aimed at countering the ‘mischievous’ elements whether they existed within the country or outside.

The elimination of residual terrorist threats, the consolidation of gains made during previous counterterrorism operations and tightening security on the borders have been described as the main objectives of the newly launched operation.

http://nation.com.pk/national/03-Mar-2017/two-soldiers-5-terrorists-killed

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Opposition in Pakistan over arms deal with Myanmar

March 3, 2017

As Myanmar and Islamabad are engaged in advanced negotiations to license-build the JF-17 Thunder, there is growing opposition within Pakistan regarding this agreement.

According to an article in Pakistan Today, the opposition over the agreement that could help markedly expand Myanmar's local defence industry comes in the light of alleged military force brutality against the Rohingya Muslims in Maynamar, according to an article in Pakistan Today.

The Rohingyas, migrated from neighbouring Bangladesh, belong to Myanmar's ethnically divided Rakhine State and the previous administration had stripped over 660,000 Muslims in the state of their "white card" IDs and the right to vote, thus, rendering them stateless.

Myanmar has struggled to contain bloodshed on the basis of religion in recent years, especially in Rakhine State where Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims are at loggerheads.

Rakhine State is home to about a million stateless Muslims who self-identify as Rohingyas and are reviled by Rakhine Buddhists. Most Rohingya live cut off from the Buddhist community in displacement camps or remote settlements since sectarian riots in 2012.

Myanmar State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has also drawn criticism from rights groups for not taking up the cause of Muslims.

The article said that the Rohingya issue has been substantiated by grainy videos in circulation on the internet, as well as international journalists and human rights organizations and that the JF-17 was developed in collaboration with China - a country tarnished by its own history of violations against the Uighur Muslims.

It adds that this move is beyond recognition as Pakistan is a state that has invested great effort into establishing its role as a political defender of oppressed Muslim brethren. This has been the foundational doctrine of all of Pakistan's military and diplomatic policies regarding Kashmir, as well as the primary reason why your Pakistani passport says that it is not valid for travel to Israel.

Full report at:

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/opposition-in-pakistan-over-arms-deal-with-myanmar-117030300119_1.html

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Opposition parties want Fata merger before next polls

March 3, 2017

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR/DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Almost all mainstream opposition parties have praised the federal cabinet’s approval of proposed merger of the Federally Admin­is­tered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but with a demand that the merger take place before the end of the incumbent government’s term in 2018, instead of five years.

However, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), a key ally of the government, opposed the cabinet decision.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) spokesman Fawwad Chaudhry said his party welcomed the decision but the merger (process) should be completed before 2018 general elections. “We want reforms in Fata but we were not expecting that the government will stretch the merger plan to five years,” he said.

“It seems that the government has deferred the merger of Fata with KP to the next government because this government does not want to take any decision,” he added.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said his party rejected the cabinet decision because it did not protect larger interests of the tribal people.

JUI-F opposes govt move

Talking to reporters at his residence in Dera Ismail Khan, he said the reforms committee had deceived the people of Fata, and added that his party would oppose every decision imposed on the tribal people.

Maulana Rehman said he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Sharif and Sartaj Aziz and they had agreed that the people of Fata would be brought into the mainstream but no decision would be taken without consulting them.

“The government has violated that commitment today,” he said, “I will protest with and remind [the prime minister] of his commitment that there will be no merger of Fata with KP.”

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Amir Sirajul Haq welcomed the decision of merger and demanded that it take place in one year.

Though the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) did not oppose the cabinet’s decision, it refrained from commenting on it.

“We have discussed the issue and made it an agenda item of a multi-party conference called by our party on revival of military courts on Saturday. We will give our considered opinion on the Fata reforms after the conference,” PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar said.

In Peshawar, the Qaumi Watan Party (QWM) and the PTI expressed displeasure over the federal cabinet’s decision to delay the merger of Fata with KP.

Speaking on a point of order in the KP Assembly, Sikandar Khan Sherpao, parliamentary leader of the QWP, criticised the federal cabinet for putting off the merger of Fata with KP for five years.

“The (federal cabinet’s) decision is an injustice to the people of Fata and an insult to the unanimous resolutions (passed by) the KP Assembly,” he said.

Mr Sherpao, whose party is a coalition partner of the PTI in the province, said the federal government had wasted a “golden opportunity” by postponing the merger for five years.

He said several political parties and the people of Fata had demanded a merger before the 2018 general elections.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1318097/opposition-parties-want-fata-merger-before-next-polls

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South Asia

 

Govt’s quick response to Afghan woman’s desperate plea widely hailed

Mar 02 2017

The immediate response by the government to a woman’s desperate plea for husband who became a victim of terror attack has been widely hailed and welcomed.

The woman, Roqia, hailing from a remote province in central Afghanistan sent an open letter to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, desperate making pleas for her husband who is in a critical condition after an attack in northern Baghlan province.

A presidential document instructing the relevant authorities to arrange the treatment of Roqia’s husband in India has gone viral, containing the approval of President Ghani in response to his health adviser’s recommendation.

In her letter to President Ghani, Roqia said she overwhelmed with the news regarding President Ghani’s assistance to the most deprived women, particularly pointing towards the government’s assistance to help resettle Sharbat Gula who was detained by Pakistani authorities.

Roqia’s husband was among several labors of a coal mine who were stopped and indiscriminately shot by armed men in Tala Barfak district of northern Baghlan province, according to the letter which further states that her husband survived the attack was severely wounded.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/govts-quick-response-to-afghan-womans-desperate-plea-widely-hailed-02712

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Southeast Asia

 

Islamists bash Perlis mufti for demanding Shariah Bill debate with Hadi

March 3, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — Several Islamists chastised Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin after he demanded that PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang join a debate on the latter’s plan to enhance the Shariah courts.

In several statements published since yesterday, they have expressed their fears that any debate on the matter will lead to the failure of Hadi’s private member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction ) Act 1965, also known as RUU355 in Malay.

“This answer does not show the morals of a Muslim, what more the morals of someone with the mufti post. It is full of arrogance, cockiness and pride of one’s knowledge,” said Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, the director of Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Institute for Malaysian Political Analysis.

Last month, Kamarul Zaman had invited Asri to debate PAS Ulama wing information chief Datuk Dr Khairuddin Aman Razali on the matter.

In a speech, Khairuddin had previously challenged anyone to debate him, after he slammed Asri for criticising PAS’ attempt to implement harsher Shariah punishments.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris lecturer Dr Rozaimi Ramle accepted the challenge but Khairuddin then declined, inviting mockery from International Islamic University of Malaysia lecturer Dr Maszlee Malik who said the latter risked being called a “village champion.”

Khairuddin, through his representative Nurul Islam Mohamed Yusoff of PAS Youth wing, has yesterday offered to have a discussion with Asri, together with Rozaimi.

Asri replied that he was willing, but only if Hadi is present, which then earned him the ire of PAS supporters.

PAS-affiliated pro-ulama group Geng Ustaz was among those who slammed Asri today, accusing him of insolence against Hadi and urged him against using his position to make callous remarks.

“A conference and healthy academic discussion should be the space to gain enlightenment and not a debate to defend the mufti’s argument that is able to thwart this good and pure effort,” the group’s deputy president Muhammad Najhan Halim said.

“The mufti’s open criticism towards Act 355 amendments will be taken as opportunity and a stepping stone for certain parties to fan the flames on this issue and the rights of Muslims themselves.”

Both Najhan and Kamarul Zaman pointed out that most other muftis from the Federal Territories, Kelantan, Perak, Pahang and Negri Sembilan had said that it is “obligatory” for Muslims to support RUU355, while opposing it is a sin.

PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan has since supported a suggestion for a conference between muftis to reach a consensus on the Bill set to be presented in Parliament next week.

“This issue is very important and muftis should make a final decision from the conference towards exalting Allah’s code on this blessed Earth,” said the Temerloh MP in a statement.

Despite vitriol against the mufti, the relationship between Asri and Khairuddin remains cordial, with the latter visiting the former at his Kangar residence this morning.

In a post on his official Facebook page, the mufti said Khairuddin came alone and they both chatted for about two hours before the Kuala Nerus MP returned to Terengganu.

The latest version of Hadi’s Bill aims to increase the punishments that Shariah courts can mete out from three years’ jail, six strokes of the cane and an RM5,000 fine to 30 years’ imprisonment, 100 strokes, and an RM100,000 fine.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/islamists-bash-perlis-mufti-for-demanding-shariah-bill-debate-with-hadi

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M'sian Chinese ManDidn’t Expect a Picture of Him Kissing Saudi King’s Forehead Would Go Viral

03 March 2017

Recently, a photograph of a man kissing the forehead of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud went viral on social media and has attracted a lot of attention from various parties.

People were curious about the identity of the man which was allowed to be in close proximity with the Saudi Arabian king, who was often pictured surrounded by tight security.

Quoting a report by Al Arabiya, that individual was recognized as Sheikh Hussain Yee, an Islamic preacher from Malaysia.

According to Hussain, a group of religious activists including several Malaysian muftis from various states including himself were invited by the Saudi Islamic Counselor office to an audience with King Salman during his four-day visit to Malaysia.

He was not aware that a photograph of him kissing the King’s forehead had gone viral, Sheikh Hussain told Al Arabiya.

He explained that was his first time meeting the King in person, after he had performed the Umrah thanks to an invitation by the Saudi royal two years ago.

When asked whether he managed to have a conversation with King Salman, Hussain said he only managed to introduce himself briefly to the monarch.

Hussain was meeting His Royal Highness in his capacity as the founder and president of Al-Khaadem, an organization dedicated to preaching and social efforts.

An earlier Al Arabiya news report statest that Sheikh Hussein, who is of Malaysian Chinese origin had converted to Islam at the age of 18, going on to study Islamic education at the University of Madinah from 1972 to 1978 to deepen his understanding of the Hadith, or Prophet Muhammad’s sayings.

He was under the tutelage of Sheikh Muhammad Nasiruddin Al-Albani who was a proponent of the Salafi teachings in accordance with the Sunnah Wal Jamaah council.

It was during his studies in Madinah, that the founder and president of Al-Khadeem Foundation at Malaysia had also developed close relations with the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Baaz.

Full report at:

http://malaysiandigest.com/frontpage/29-4-tile/661473-m-sian-chinese-man-didn-t-expect-a-picture-of-him-kissing-saudi-king-s-forehead-would-go-viral.html

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Saudi king urges fight against terrorism on Indonesia trip

March 3, 2017

JAKARTA - Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called Thursday for a united fight against terrorism in a speech to Indonesia’s parliament during a landmark state visit to the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The king is making the first visit by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia in almost 50 years as part of a tour of Asia, accompanied by a 1,000-strong delegation and hundreds of tons of luggage.

In a speech to hundreds of people at the legislature in the capital Jakarta, he called for an intensified fight against terrorism.

“The challenge we, especially Muslims, face now is terrorism,” he said. “We should close ranks in combating terrorism, radicalism and strive to bring world peace for the benefit of all of us.”

Saudi Arabia is part of a US-led coalition that has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) group and other militants in Syria.

IS is under pressure in Iraq and Syria, as government forces make a drive to retake areas held by the militants.

Saudi Arabia has witnessed a series of deadly attacks claimed by IS since late 2014, mostly targeting the Shiite minority and security forces, killing dozens of people.

However, some of the kingdom’s partners in the Middle East have urged the Sunni-majority country to do more to defeat IS, and even accused the kingdom of supporting the militants.

Indonesia, which has long struggled with militancy, is also facing a renewed threat due to the appeal of IS, with hundreds of its citizens heading to the Middle East to fight with the militants.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Mar-2017/saudi-king-urges-fight-against-terrorism-on-indonesia-trip

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Muslim lawyers: Zakir Naik suit attempt to check-and-balance Islam

March 3, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — A lawsuit by activists to get Indian televangelist Dr Zakir Naik arrested and deported shows an attempt to keep Islam in check, a group of Muslim lawyers said today.

iPeguam, the legal arm of Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia or Isma, said although Dr Zakir was labelled a “preacher of hate”, those who stoke the anger of Muslims and interfere in Islamic affairs should also be called the same and be brought to court.

“iPeguam stresses that the latest action does not only concern Dr Zakir Naik’s name. The public knows that there is a series of initiatives that seems as if planned to implement a ‘check and balance’ towards Islam in this country,” it said in a statement carried by Isma’s website.

The group listed opposition towards implementing harsher punishments in Shariah courts, an appeal against a religious decree declaring women’s group Sisters in Islam as “deviant”, the use of the word of “Allah” by Bumiputera Christians, and the challenge towards the prosecution of Negri Sembilan transgender women as part of the initiative.

It claimed that such incidents were provoking the sensitivities of Islam as alleged threats towards the position of Islam and the rights to worship by Muslims in Malaysia.

“The act of the 19 individuals is in fact representing an agenda that believes Islam is a barrier and threat towards the effort to secularise Malaysia, making the liberal ideology mainstream, and destroying the identity of Malaysians as a nation with dignity,” it said.

On Wednesday, a group of 19 human rights activists filed a civil suit against the Malaysian government, accusing it of failing to protect the country from Salafist preacher Dr Zakir.

The suit, among others, sought a government declaration that Dr Zakir was a threat to national security, called for a ban to prevent him from entering the country, and for him to be arrested and deported immediately.

The group, comprising plaintiffs from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, said Dr Zakir was an “undesirable person” and “a preacher of hate” who was currently roaming free in Malaysia.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/muslim-lawyers-zakir-naik-suit-attempt-to-check-and-balance-islam

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Saudi king calls for moderate Islam

March 3, 2017

For decades Wahhabism, the strict strain of Islam that promotes a literal interpretation of the Quran, has been Saudi Arabia’s predominant faith, and since the 1970s the oil-rich kingdom has been generous in sending funds to other Muslim countries to promote this conservative version of Islam.

Now that Wahhabism has been linked with radicalism and even terrorism, the Saudi government has stepped up its campaign to counter that perception and the state visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Indonesia, where religious conservatism has gained ground alongside frequent terrorist attacks, was part of the public relations campaign. After dealing with business on the first day of his visit, King Salman on Thursday kicked off his charm offensive in a speech during a 30-minute special session at the House of Representatives, calling for a united front to deal with what he termed “a clash of civilizations” and terrorism.

“The challenges that the Muslim community and the world in general faces, like terrorism and the clash of civilizations and the lack of respect for a country’s sovalso ereignty, require us to unite in dealing with these challenges,” the monarch said in his two-minute speech, which was interrupted by rounds of applause from members of the House and guests, including former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former vice president Try Sutrisno.

Later in his meetings with leaders of the country’s major Islamic organizations, the octogenarian king promoted a tolerant version of Islam as the key in the fight against terrorism and radicalism.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifudin, who had organized the meeting, said Indonesia and Saudi Arabia agreed to promote a moderate version of Islam.

“The two countries have come to an understanding that we would prioritize the promotion of Islam as rahmatan lil alamin [blessing for the universe]. What is needed to maintain the stability of global civilization is the moderation of Islam,” said Lukman, who joined the 30-minute session at the State Palace on Wednesday. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo attended.

During the session, three Muslim scholars were given the chance to speak directly to the monarch, including Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Maruf Amin, who issued an edict last year calling for the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahja Purnama for allegedly insulting the Quran.

Earlier on Wednesday, King Salman and President Jokowi witnessed the signing of 11 agreements, including one addressing the issue of transnational crimes and global extremism, radicalism and terrorism.

To further bolster its counterterrorism campaign, the Saudi government offered free haj trips for family members of personnel of the National Police’s counterterrorism squad Densus 88 who were killed while on duty.

To further burnish his credentials as a promoter of moderate Islam, King Salman is expected to hold an interfaith forum on Friday, shortly before departing for Brunei Darussalam.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/03/saudi-king-calls-for-moderate-islam.html

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Arab World

 

Palmyra to-and-fro is like watching ‘Tom and Jerry’: Syrian opposition

3 March 2017

Syria’s opposition refused Thursday to hail the Damascus regime’s recapture of Palmyra from ISIS militants, calling both sides terrorists and saying it was like watching cartoon characters Tom and Jerry.

The High Negotiating Committee (HNC), the main opposition group at UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, recalled that the historic city has now been seized from ISIS militants twice in the last year.

“As for congratulating (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad, if we do then we would also have to congratulate (Islamic State) in the future if they take over Palmyra,” HNC delegation chief Nasr al-Hariri told reporters.

“Both are terrorists. Bashar al-Assad is a terrorist in accordance with international law,” he added, when asked if he would hail the Damascus achievement. Noting that it was the second such “handover”, he said: “This is being obviously used for political reasons.

“You as expert professional journalists should be aware of it: if we want to follow the game of Assad and Palmyra it will be like watching Tom and Jerry,” the cartoon cat and mouse foes. He was speaking after Syrian troops backed by Russian jets completed the recapture of Palmyra, following a battle through the desert for weeks to reach the city.

Syrian regime and opposition negotiators have been in Geneva for the last week in the fourth round of UN-sponsored talks, but there has been little progress and no direct talks between the delegations themselves.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/03/Palmyra-to-and-fro-like-watching-Tom-and-Jerry-Syria-rebels.html

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Syria’s White Helmets, Trump, Pope Francis in running for 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

3 March 2017

A near-record 318 people and organizations are in the running for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Institute said on Thursday, a motley crew believed to include Syria’s White Helmets, Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

The names of the nominees are kept secret for 50 years, but those entitled to nominate candidates – including lawmakers and government ministers, former laureates and some university professors – are free to reveal the name of the person or group they have nominated.

As a result, the list is believed to include the White Helmets, jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, and Edward Snowden, who revealed the scope of America’s NSA electronic surveillance program.

The same goes for US President Donald Trump, nominated by an unidentified American who wants the US leader recognized for “his peace through strength ideology”. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is highly critical of some of Trump’s first acts as president, is also believed to have been nominated.

Also read: Syrian who worked on nominated film can't attend Oscars

Yet others include Pope Francis, nominated by a Norwegian member of parliament because “he is one of the rare ones to stand up to Donald Trump”, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and former French president Jacques Chirac.

The only tidbit the Nobel Institute would disclose was the breakdown of the nominations: 215 individuals and 103 organizations. This year’s number of candidates is the next-highest since the prize was first awarded in 1901, second only to 2016 when 376 names were in the running.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/03/Syria-s-White-Helmets-among-318-candidates-in-running-for-2017-Nobel-Peace-Prize-.html

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Egypt acquits ex-president Hosni Mubarak on charges of killing protesters

2 March 2017

A court in Cairo has announced that it has acquitted former president Hosni Mubarak on charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his nearly three-decade reign., Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent reported.

Mubarak, his interior minister and six aides were sentenced to life in prison in 2012, but another court overturned the verdict two years later, citing technical flaws in the prosecution.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/02/Cairo-court-acquits-Egyptian-ex-president-Hosni-Mubarak-.html

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Syrian Army Captures Ancient City of Palmyra

Mar 02, 2017

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated on Thursday that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has reported to the commander-in-chief, President Vladimir Putin, that the historic city of Palmyra in Homs province has been liberated.

Hours after Moscow declared the liberation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Homs province, the General Command of the Syrian Army also confirmed the report.

The Syrian army forces broke the ISIL defense lines in Palmyra on Wednesday night and entered the ancient city after liberating the Palmyra Triangle and Castle, cuting off the ISIL supply routes towards the historic city.

According to reports, the ISIL terrorists evacuated most parts of the city earlier today after planting bombs in its houses and roads.

ISIL kicked off a large-scale operation on December 8 with thousands of forces in Homs province to take control of Palmyra that was liberated by the Syrian Army in March 2016.

The ISIL took control over some energy fields and strategic heights and approached Palmyra.

The terrorist group finally entered the city of Palmyra on December 10, but the Russian and Syrian forces could repel their attacks, killing hundreds of them.

4,000 fighters of the ISIL carried out again a large-scale offensive against government positions in Palmyra from several flanks and finally managed to capture the city on December 11, while only 800 army soldiers were defending the city and there was no possibility for aerial coverage by the Russian and Syrian warplanes due to bad weather.

The Russia's center for Syrian reconciliation noted ISIL had moved considerable forces from their stronghold of Raqqa, while more forces and equipment were relocated from Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951212000776

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Several Euphrates Shield Operation Forces Killed by Army in Aleppo

Mar 02, 2017

The Arabic website of al-Masdar News quoted a military source as saying that the Syrian troops blocked the Euphrates Shield Operation forces's way to approach their positions in Za'aroureh town and set up a buffer zone to drive out the Ankara-backed forces from the town.

He also dismissed media reports claiming that the Euphrates Shield Operation forces have gained control over Sokriyah Kabirah and Sokriyah Saqirah towns.

Also al-Masdar quoted websites affiliated to the terrorists as reporting that a number of Euphrates Shield Operation forces who intended to enter al-Sokriyah Kabirah and al-Sokriyah Saqirah were killed in the Syrian army's artillery and missile attacks.

A top placed military source revealed on Wednesday that the Syrian Army plans to tighten security measures across the regions stretching from East Aleppo to the Kurdish populated territories in Afrin Canton to block any possible advance by either the ISIL or the Turkish soldiers and their allied militants fighting for the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951212000304

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Kurdish Forces to Surrender Villages in Western Manbij to Syrian Army

Mar 02, 2017

The statement said that based on an agreement with the Russian side, the control of these villages will be given to the Syrian government's border guards.

It added that the measure will be taken to maintain the security of civilians residing in Manbij and the surrounding areas as well as regions bordering al-Bab in the Western side of Manbij, and take on the greed of Turkey to occupy the Syrian territories. The statement was issued after sources in Tal Rifat Town's Military Council affiliated to the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group disclosed on Wednesday that the council forces will no more partner in the Euphrates Shield Operations against ISIL in Northeastern Aleppo as they are preparing to shift war to their Kurdish rivals within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operations is fought by various units of the SDF and backed up by the Turkish army. The SDF is comprised of a Kurdish majority and a minority of Arab fighters mostly from different units of FSA and defected members of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra that are all called as moderate militants by the US, Turkey and their allies.

The Kurdish units of the SDF have long been complaining that they are fighting on the frontline and, hence, sustain most casualties, and whenever they earn a victory, "the Turkish army sends them to other battle scenes and delivers control over conquered lands to the Arab FSA.

Now the militant-affiliated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported some sources in Tal Rifat Military Council as saying that the council will stop its mission under the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation to start battling the Kurdish members of the SDF in Northern Aleppo to capture the villages under their control.

The SOHR further added that the Tal Rifat Military Council that is operating under the FSA is getting back to the region (Northern Aleppo) with its forces and military equipment to start attacking the Kurdish forces in their positions.

Also on Wednesday, a top placed military source revealed that the Syrian army plans to tighten security measures across the regions stretching from East Aleppo to the Kurdish populated territories in Afrin Canton to block any possible advance by either the ISIL or the Turkish soldiers and their allied militants fighting for the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation.

The source said that the Syrian Army intends to carry out a clean-up operation in the towns of Jubb al-Sultan, al-Za'aroureh, Jubb al-Homam and Jubb al-Khafa and the villages South of Manbij to strengthen its lines of defense along the strip that stretches to the Kurdish-held region in Northeastern Aleppo in order to prevent any effort by the ISIL terrorists to bypass the government-held regions.

In February 2016, The Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city.

But months later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Kurdish fighters to leave all areas under their control in Northwestern Syria and move to the territories on the Eastern side of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates.

The Kurdish population lives in three regions, known as Cantons, in Northern Syria, with the Afrin Canton being located on the Western side of the Euphrates stretching over the Northern parts of Aleppo province with Manbij as its most important and most internationally known town.

The Kurdish fighters won back Manbij from ISIL in weeks of bloody war on August 8, 2016. A few months later, the Turkish president warned the Kurds to withdraw from the town and surrender it to the Turkish army or wait for a massive attack.

In mid-November 2016, Spokesman for the Manbij Military Council Sherfan Dervish voiced his forces' readiness to fight against the ISIL terrorists and Turkish army in Aleppo province in Northern Syria.

"The Manbij military council is ready to repel any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey," Dervish told FNA at the time.

He noted that the SDF's mission in Manbij ended as per an agreement signed by the two sides, adding that the SDF forces returned to their previous positions.

"The armed groups present in Manbij now are all under the auspices of the Manbij military council because the council can thwart any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey and combat aggressors to maintain stability and security in the city," Dervish added.

In early August, the SDF pushed ISIL back from the entire neighborhoods of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after over 70 days of non-stop bloody clashes with the terrorists.

Also in August, the Military Council of Manbij in Aleppo province announced that over 4,000 terrorists had been killed in tough battle with the SDF since the beginning of Manbij liberation operations.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951212000597

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Army Continues to Advance in Eastern Damascus, Kills Al-Nusra Commander

Mar 02, 2017

The Syrian army forces engaged in fierce clashes with the militants in Jobar and al-Qaboun, killing a number of terrorists, including al-Nusra Front's commander in al-Qaboun 'Abu Taha Ali'.

The Syrian soldiers also attacked the terrorists' centers in the farms between al-Qaboun and Barzeh and destroyed one of their ammunition depots.

Meantime, the Syrian army units could retake control of 4 farms in Barzeh after heavy clashes with the terrorists in Barzeh and Tishreen regions.

A military source said on Wednesday that the al-Nusra Front terrorist group is on the verge of a devastating defeat in Northeastern Damascus, adding that the army will capture vast lands in Eastern Ghouta in the next few days.

The source said that the Syrian Army troops' anti-terrorism operation in Eastern Damascus is intensifying while the ground has been prepared for those militants willing to join the nationwide reconciliation process and receive government amnesty in lieu of stopping armed clashes.

The military expert added that the Syrian army has been capable of seizing two long tunnels of al-Nusra connecting al-Qaboun region to its surrounding areas and farther regions in Eastern Ghouta.

He further said there are a number of tunnels in al-Qaboun region that are used by the al-Nusra, adding that the army soldiers have advanced deep into the Northwestern farms of al-Qaboun.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951212000323

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Mideast

 

Yemen: 40 Houthi militants killed and injured in al Jouf Province

2 March 2017

More than 40 Houthi-Saleh alliance militia were killed and injured during fierce clashes on various fronts at al-Mazweyiah and al Masloub Directorates Wednesday.

Militia attempts to attack posts for the Yemeni military in al Jaouf province were repelled after being met with ferocious resistance, according to a military source who said the Houthis incurred heavy casualties.

Additional15 militants were killed and injured when Arab coalition fighters hit Houthi targets in Camran island in al Haddidah province, west Yemen.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/02/Yemen-40-Houthi-militants-killed-and-injured-in-al-Jouf-Province.html

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Turkey Stands against Agreement between SDF Kurds, Syrian Gov't

Mar 02, 2017

Cavusoglu referred to the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Syria by the Turkey-backed militants, and told reporters that the Turkish forces have not yet moved towards Manbij but they will start operations in the region soon.

Noting that the Turkish military men are ready to attack the Kurds in Manbij, he said that Ankara doesn’t want Washington to continue support for the Kurds and it has several times warned the US that the Turkish forces will attack the Kurds soon.

Cavusoglu also said that Ankara and Moscow have agreed to prevent clashes between the Syrian government forces and the Turkey-backed opposition (the Free Syrian Army militants), claiming that both of them pursue the same goal of annihilating the ISIL.

Elsewhere, he stood up to an agreement between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Russia to surrender the villages controlled by the Kurds in Manbij to the Syrian government.

His remarks came as the military council of Manbij announced in a statement that the Kurdish forces will surrender the villages bordering the areas occupied by the Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operation militants to the Syrian army.

The statement said that based on an agreement with the Russian side, the control of these villages will be given to the Syrian government's border guards.

It added that the measure will be taken to maintain the security of civilians residing in Manbij and the surrounding areas as well as regions bordering al-Bab in the Western side of Manbij, and take on the greed of Turkey to occupy the Syrian territories. The statement was issued after sources in Tal Rifat Town's Military Council affiliated to the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group disclosed on Wednesday that the council forces will no more partner in the Euphrates Shield Operations against ISIL in Northeastern Aleppo as they are preparing to shift war to their Kurdish rivals within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operations is fought by various units of the SDF and backed up by the Turkish army. The SDF is comprised of a Kurdish majority and a minority of Arab fighters mostly from different units of FSA and defected members of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra that are all called as moderate militants by the US, Turkey and their allies.

The Kurdish units of the SDF have long been complaining that they are fighting on the frontline and, hence, sustain most casualties, and whenever they earn a victory, "the Turkish army sends them to other battle scenes and delivers control over conquered lands to the Arab FSA.

Cavusoglu's warning that the Turkish military men are readying to attack the Kurds in Manbij came after the militant-affiliated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Wednesday reported some sources in Tal Rifat Military Council as saying that the council would stop its mission under the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation to start battling the Kurdish members of the SDF in Northern Aleppo to capture the villages under their control.

The SOHR further added that the Tal Rifat Military Council that is operating under the FSA is getting back to the region (Northern Aleppo) with its forces and military equipment to start attacking the Kurdish forces in their positions.

In response to the militants' invasion plan, the Syrian army initiated plans to tighten security measures across the regions stretching from East Aleppo to the Kurdish populated territories in Afrin Canton to block any possible advance by either the ISIL or the Turkish soldiers and their allied militants fighting for the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation.

A top placed military source revealed that the Syrian Army intends to carry out a clean-up operation in the towns of Jubb al-Sultan, al-Za'aroureh, Jubb al-Homam and Jubb al-Khafa and the villages South of Manbij to strengthen its lines of defense along the strip that stretches to the Kurdish-held region in Northeastern Aleppo in order to prevent any effort by the ISIL terrorists to bypass the government-held regions.

Cavusoglu displayed his country's anger and opposition to the agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian army by denying it, claiming that "there are all sorts of news and speculation. This is all untrue. We are now seeing that the Syrian government forces are moving to the East".

But the Turkish foreign minister, meantime, stated that Moscow and Ankara agreed on the prevention of clashes between Turkey-backed opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government forces.

"We have agreed with Russia on the prevention of clashes between the [FSA] and the Syrian government forces in order to intensify the fight against ISIL," Cavusoglu said on Thursday.

But later reports by other world media confirmed FNA's Thursday report over the agreement.

The villages will be surrendered to the Syrian government in the coming days, an official in the Manbij Military Council told Reuters. An earlier statement by the council said the villages would be handed to Syrian border guards.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said this week Manbij was the next target of Ankara's campaign in northern Syria following the capture of nearby al-Bab from ISIL last week.

"We will move towards Manbij after the al-Bab operation is completed, but the operation has not started yet. We know that the US special forces are in that region, and we want the YPG to leave Manbij as soon as possible," Cavusoglu said.

In February 2016, The Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city. YPG constitutes the Kurdish section of the SDF that also includes the Turkey-backed Arab FSA militants.

But months later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Kurdish fighters to leave all areas under their control in Northwestern Syria and move to the territories on the Eastern side of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates.

The Kurdish population lives in three regions, known as Cantons, in Northern Syria, with the Afrin Canton being located on the Western side of the Euphrates stretching over the Northern parts of Aleppo province with Manbij as its most important and most internationally known town.

The Kurdish fighters won back Manbij from ISIL in weeks of bloody war on August 8, 2016. A few months later, the Turkish president warned the Kurds to withdraw from the town and surrender it to the Turkish army or wait for a massive attack.

In mid-November 2016, Spokesman for the Manbij Military Council Sherfan Dervish voiced his forces' readiness to fight against the ISIL terrorists and Turkish army in Aleppo province in Northern Syria.

"The Manbij military council is ready to repel any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey," Dervish told FNA at the time.

He noted that the SDF's mission in Manbij ended as per an agreement signed by the two sides, adding that the SDF forces returned to their previous positions.

"The armed groups present in Manbij now are all under the auspices of the Manbij military council because the council can thwart any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey and combat aggressors to maintain stability and security in the city," Dervish added.

In early August, the SDF pushed ISIL back from the entire neighborhoods of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after over 70 days of non-stop bloody clashes with the terrorists.

Also in August, the Military Council of Manbij in Aleppo province announced that over 4,000 terrorists had been killed in tough battle with the SDF since the beginning of Manbij liberation operations.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951212000657

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Witnesses: Aircraft launch attacks on suspected Qaeda targets in Yemen

3 March 2017

Military helicopters and drones launched a series of attacks on suspected al-Qaeda targets in southern Yemen early on Friday, witnesses said.

The unidentified aircraft, believed to be American, also deployed troops on the ground in the al-Saeed area in Shabwa province and engaged suspected al-Qaeda militants in a battle that lasted nearly half an hour.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/03/Witnesses-Aircraft-launch-attacks-on-suspected-Qaeda-targets-in-Yemen.html

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Iran rejects 'delusional' Saudi-Malaysian statement

Mar 2, 2017

Iran has strongly condemned new allegations leveled against the Islamic Republic in a joint statement released at the conclusion of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s visit to Malaysia.

Riyadh and Kuala Lumpur “expressed serious concerns over the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region," as the Saudi king wrapped up his lavish trip to Malaysia on the first leg of a month-long Asia journey. 

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Thursday rejected those accusations as "delusional," saying they are in line with Saudi Arabia's "improper, totally false, and targeted campaign, which is being waged at a very high cost" against the Islamic Republic.

“The cultural influence and presence of a country has roots in its history, culture and civilization and is an inherent, cultural and quite natural and popular issue, which is basically not achievable through any military, economic and even political leverage,” Qassemi said.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/02/512744/Iran-Saudi-Arabia-Malaysia

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Africa

 

Kenya forces kill about 60 Shabab militants in Somalia

Mar 2nd, 2017

Nairobi(ANN)-Kenyan troops have killed nearly 60 suspected members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group during a fierce fighting in southern Somalia, a Kenya’s military spokesman says.

Col. Joseph Owuoth said in a statement on Thursday that Kenyan soldiers under the African Union command used helicopter gunships and artillery against al-Shabab Takfiri militants in Afmadow, a town located about 100 kilometers inland from the port of Kismayo.

“In the onslaught, 57 al-Shabab militants were killed and unknown number injured,” Owuoth said.

The spokesman added that at least five gun-mounted pickup trucks known as “technicals” were also destroyed in the offensive.

In January, al-Shabab militants targeted a Kenyan military base in the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow, near the Kenyan border.

Kenyan authorities said that nine soldiers lost their lives in the assault, while al-Shabab said it killed at least 66.

Last January, al-Shabab said it had killed over 100 Kenyan troops in El Adde, a Somali camp near the border with Kenya.

Suspected al-Shabab militants kidnap 3 teachers in Kenya

Meanwhile, Kenyan police said Thursday that gunmen had kidnapped at least three Kenyan teachers from Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya.

Three men with pistols abducted the teachers with the Udha Academy in the Hagadera section of the world’s largest refugee camp, which hosts more than 300,000 Somali refugees.

Mohamud Saleh, the northeastern regional security coordinator, said security forces sealed the route into neighboring Somalia, where the gunmen are suspected to have come from.

Kenyan authorities say the camp has become a recruitment and training ground for al-Shabab.

The government in Nairobi blamed al-Shabab for the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers from Dadaab camp in October 2011.

In June 2012, four international aid workers were kidnapped from Dadaab in an assault that saw a Kenyan driver killed.

The militant group has vowed revenge on Kenya for sending soldiers to Somalia to fight it.

Kenya says multiple cross-border attacks led to its decision to send troops to Somalia.

The al-Shabab militant group, which once had control over many parts of Somalia, including the capital city Mogadishu, aims to topple the central government and push out the African Union mission to Somalia, known as AMISOM, which is made up of soldiers from Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Ethiopia, and other African countries.

AMISOM and Somali troops driven al-Shabab out of all major urban strongholds and ports, but the group still stages attacks on targets in smaller, more remote areas, posing a threat to peace.

http://www.araweelonews.com/kenya-forces-kill-about-60-shabab-militants-in-somalia/

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3 Mali Islamic extremist groups merge, pledge to al-Qaida

March 2, 2017

DAKAR, Senegal — Three Islamic extremist factions in Mali announced that they have merged into one group and pledged allegiance to al-Qaida's leader, according to a group that monitors jihadist websites.

Leaders from Ansar Dine, al-Mourabitoun and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb made the official declaration in a video distributed Thursday, according to SITE Intelligence Group. The merged group is now called "Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen," which in English translates to "Support of Islam and Muslims," the monitoring group said.

Iyad Ag Ghaly, the former leader of Ansar Dine who is a native of the Kidal region, is leading the combined group, SITE Intelligence Group said. Ag Ghaly said in the video that the three factions were inspired by the unification of factions in Syria.

Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaida took over northern Mali in 2012, exploiting a power vacuum after mutinous soldiers overthrew the president. French-backed forces pushed the extremists from strongholds the following year, but attacks have continued and progressed south.

Full report at:

http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/2.1198/3-mali-islamic-extremist-groups-merge-pledge-to-al-qaida-1.456794#.WLlMEIGGOzc

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US pounds Qaeda in Yemen with over 20 strikes

March 3, 2017

WASHINGTON/ADEN - The United States said it carried out more than 20 precision strikes in Yemen targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on Thursday, in what appeared to be the first major operations against the group since a January raid by US commandos.

The Pentagon said the strikes, which were first reported by Reuters, targeted al Qaeda militants, heavy weapons systems, equipment, infrastructure and fighting positions. They were carried out in the Yemeni governorates of Abyan, Al Bayda and Shabwah.

“The strikes will degrade the AQAP’s ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to use territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen as a safe space for terror plotting,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis said, using an acronym for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Jan. 29 raid, the first of its kind authorized by new President Donald Trump, was hailed as a success by the White House and other US officials. Still, critics questioned the value and effectiveness of an operation which killed women and children, as well as several militants and a Navy SEAL.

Trump, citing information from his defense secretary, told Congress on Tuesday that the raid yielded valuable intelligence that would “lead to many more victories in the future.” The US military did not estimate the number of militants killed in the strikes, but residents and local officials in southern Yemen said that at least nine suspected al Qaeda militants died in two separate incidents.

They said four men believed to belong to al Qaeda died in a strike on a building in al-Saeed, an area of Shabwa province home to the al-Awaleq, the extended clan of Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant and US citizen killed in by US drone in 2011.

Another five suspected al Qaeda fighters died when a missile fired by a drone struck a vehicle carrying weapons while traveling on a road between al-Wadie district and the area of Moujan, in Abyan province, some 40 km away, according to a local official.

In a separate incident, residents and local officials in the Gulf of Aden town of Shuqra in southern Yemen also reported air strikes in an adjacent mountain area where hundreds of al Qaeda militants are believed to be based.

They said they heard loud explosions early on Thursday morning in al-Maraqisha, a rugged mountainous area where al Qaeda militants took refuge last year after they were driven out of Yemeni cities they had captured earlier.

There were no immediate details available on damages or casualties caused by those strikes.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Mar-2017/us-pounds-qaeda-in-yemen-with-over-20-strikes

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Turkey ‘to strike Syrian Kurd militia’ unless it leaves Manbij

2 March 2017

Turkey on Thursday threatened to strike Syrian Kurdish militia forces if they don’t withdraw from Manbij, a former bastion of Islamic State extremists that has been taken over by predominantly-Kurdish forces.

“We will strike the YPG if they do not retreat,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists, referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units.

The YPG, which Ankara considers a “terrorist” organisation, is backed by Washington as the most effective fighting force on the ground in the battle against ISIS.

Turkey launched a military campaign inside Syria in August, backing opposition rebels who captured a number of towns from ISIS, including Al Bab near the Turkish border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week said the next target would be Manbij -- which is now controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a group dominated by Kurdish fighters that Ankara denounces as “terrorists”.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/02/Turkey-to-strike-Syrian-Kurd-militia-unless-it-leaves-Manbij.html

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U.S. ground troops battle al Qaeda in Yemen, residents say

Mar 3, 2017

Residents in Yemen said U.S. soldiers fought two separate gun battles with al Qaeda militants overnight on Friday, supported by heavy aerial bombardment.

If confirmed, it would be the first time Washington has deployed ground troops in the country since a Navy Seal was killed in a similar operation on Jan. 29, the first of its kind authorized by President Donald Trump.

A day after U.S. forces carried out more than 20 air strikes in the area, troops descended on the Wadi Yashbum village in the southern Shabwah province and engaged suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants for nearly half an hour, the residents said.

One of the targets in the raid, shortly after midnight, was the home of Saad Atef, an al Qaeda leader in the area.

The assault included about 10 to 15 air strikes, some of which hit civilian homes, and a number of civilians were among the wounded, residents said.

About three hours later, residents in the Jabal Mugan area of neighboring Abyan province reported air strikes and gun battles between suspected al Qaeda fighters and U.S. soldiers that also lasted about half an hour.

There was no immediate comment from Washington.

The Pentagon has confirmed it conducted Thursday's air strikes. Residents and local officials said at least nine suspected al Qaeda militants were killed.

The strikes come a month after U.S. commandos carried out a Jan. 29 raid against AQAP, an operation that resulted in the death of 14 militants and a Navy SEAL, as well as civilians.

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-idUSKBN16A0K0?il=0

 

North America

 

‘Each mosque in U.S. offers a unique experience’

MARCH 03, 2017

“A few years ago, I visited 30 different mosques in 30 days within New York City. Then, my friend and I thought how would it be to visit mosques across the U.S. What we saw and encountered was very different from what we see on television,” said Aman Ali, an Indian origin stand-up comic and storyteller from the United States. He spoke on ‘Growing up as a Muslim in the United States of America’ at Amir Mahal here on Thursday.

At the event organised by Mohammed Asif Ali, Dewan to Prince of Arcot and the U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, the award winning storyteller spoke about his experiences with Muslim communities across the U. S. in the 30 days during Ramzan in 2012.

Interspersing his travel story with anecdotes about growing up in a traditional Indian Muslim family, he said he was surprised to find so much diversity at every step.

“I visited a mosque in Ross in North Dakota of all places, where Muslims have been living since the 1700s. CNN aired a documentary on our trip and I came across a conservative Christian dad living in Nebraska who began talking to his son, who chose to convert to Islam, after about six months,” said Aman.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/each-mosque-in-us-offers-a-unique-experience/article17397887.ece

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2 Us Mosques Get Hate Notes Calling For ‘Slaughter Of Muslims’

March 2, 2017

Washington: Two mosques in the US state of Maryland have received threatening letters calling for the ‘slaughter of Muslims’, in apparent hate crime incidents.

Two Islamic centres in Silver Spring, Maryland, received violent threats by mail.

The president of the Islamic Education Society discovered an envelope inside a mailbox on Monday containing a threatening note, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.

Police said this incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The faithful at the mosque are still reeling after the terrifying message was dropped in their mailbox.

“It’s heartbreaking, but we can’t control anything. I don’t know what in their mind they want to do,” Taiyab Mohiudden, trustee of the Islamic Education Society of Maryland, was quoted as saying by CBS Baltimore.

Mohiudden found the note tucked in with the regular mail, and it read, “I will pay USD 100 to charity for every Muslim slaughtered.”

A note containing the same message was also found at a Muslim community centre just a few kilometres away, New York Daily News reported.

The message also came on an index card. Police said the envelope also had stamps from Europe.

Full report at:

http://www.siasat.com/news/2-us-mosques-get-hate-notes-calling-slaughter-muslims-1142634/

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University in Canada evacuated over anti-Muslim bomb threat

2 March 2017

A bomb threat targeting Muslim students forced an evacuation Wednesday of nearly 4,000 students from the downtown campus of Concordia University in Montreal.

In an email to school administrators and local media, a group identifying itself as the “underground” chapter of C4, or the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada, at the university directly warned “Muslim students” there it would detonate one homemade explosive a day through Friday to protest their activities.

“Now that President (Donald) Trump is in office south of the border, things have changed. We will not tolerate your behavior anymore,” the group said in its emailed letter, referring to the US president.

Also read: Canada to welcome 1,200 Yazidi refugees in $21m operation

“Until Concordia University stops religious activities of all kinds on campus, we decide the following action to show how far we are ready to go to fight Muslims,” the group vowed. Montreal police said they were investigating the “threatening email.” They swept the campus for explosives but found none.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/03/02/University-in-Canada-evacuated-over-anti-Muslim-bomb-threat-.html

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Anti-Muslim hate groups on the rise in the US

Rob Crilly

March 2, 2017

New York // A husband and wife team that sell bullets dipped in the blood of animals forbidden by Islam; websites devoted to expose what they call the "dark side" of the Islamic faith, and a militia accused of plotting to attack a Somali community in Kansas.

These anti-Muslim hate groups are detailed in a report by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), an American liberal leaning advocacy group that monitors extremism. Its annual census found that the number of such groups in the United States has almost tripled during the past year driven in part by president Donald Trump’s angry rhetoric.

More than 100 organisations are showing open hostility to Muslims — from Washington lobby groups pushing for limits on immigration to armed militias — at a time when Islamophobic attacks are on the increase, researchers said.

Mark Potok, the report’s author, said the total number of US hate groups had been growing steadily in recent years. In the past year alone, the number of anti-Muslim groups had shown a dramatic rise, from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016.

"On the one hand, people are reacting to real-life Islamist atrocities — attacks in Orlando, or Paris or Nice or any of those places, San Bernardino — there’s a very real reaction to real atrocities," he said.

"But I think probably the most important factor has been the Trump campaign.

"This is a man who spent his campaign describing Muslims as not fit to be in this country, as needing a national registry, who proposed surveilling mosques, and in other ways degraded and attacked Muslims around the world."

Among the groups identified is Bare Naked Islam, which collects what it claims are examples of Sharia creeping into daily life and declares on its website: "Most people are simply unaware that Islam is NOT just another religion but a totalitarian political cultlike ideology ..."

Pig Blood Bullets is an online business selling ammunition treated with slaughterhouse waste. The creators say it is based on the story of General Pershing in the Philippines who was supposed to have used bullets dipped in pig blood to execute Muslim rebels in 1913.

Historians dismiss the account as apocryphal but Mr Trump repeated it several times on the campaign trail.

One of the biggest groups identified by the SPLC is Act for America, 50 branches of which were added to the most recent census.

David White, Act for America’s communications director, said the group’s inclusion on the list was an attempt to delegitimize the views of its 400,00 members who were concerned about the spread of "radical Islam".

"This is a fight for the survival of western civilisation, and we will not allow radical fringe groups such as the SLPC to deter us from educating and uniting all patriotic Americans in this battle against radical Islam," he said.

Other groups on the list include several dedicated to closing refugee centres over fears of an influx of terrorists, or to campaigning against the entry of Syrian refugees at a national level.

"Another factor last year was the Syrian refugee crisis which caused a lot of reaction," Mr Potok said.

During his campaign, Mr Trump threatened to ban the entry of all foreign Muslims, before watering down the proposal to insist on "extreme vetting" of immigrants.

At the end of his first week in office he signed an executive order indefinitely halting the entry of Syrian refugees and suspending the arrival of travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries.

Full report at:

http://www.thenational.ae/world/americas/anti-muslim-hate-groups-on-the-rise-in-the-us

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Europe

 

 

Germany high school bans Muslims students from praying

Mar 03, 2017

A high school in Germany’s western Wuppertal city has banned Muslim students from praying within the premises.

A circular was issued to teachers at the Gymnasium Johannes Rau school asking them to ‘identify names’ and report’ any cases of Muslim students praying in school to management.

The circular further read that the ban should be pointed out to students in a “friendly” manner.

“In recent weeks, it has been increasingly observed that Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others, signalled by ritual washings in the toilets, the rolling out of prayer mats and taking up certain postures. This is not permitted,” DW news quoted the document as saying.

This is not the first time a school has asked its Muslim students to stop from praying.

In 2011, a high-school student from Berlin-Wedding approached a court after he was not allowed to pray publicly.

Germany’s Administrative Court rejected his complaint on the grounds that his prayers would disturb the school peace.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/germany-high-school-bans-muslims-students-from-praying/story-BpHx3h6n5qUKFSX9gmPL8K.html

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France's Marine Le Pen loses EU immunity over IS tweets

March 2, 2017

Brussels (AFP) - Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen was stripped of her European Parliament immunity Thursday after she tweeted images of Islamic State atrocities, paving the way for her prosecution by French authorities.

Prosecutors launched a probe in December, 2015 over the graphic pictures that the French National Front (FN) leader posted on social media, which included the decapitated body of US journalist James Foley.

"The result is clear, a big majority is in favour of the lifting of immunity," acting parliament speaker Dimitrios Papadimoulis said, after lawmakers in Brussels voted by a show of hands.

The ruling is effective immediately for Le Pen, a National Front MEP, European Parliament officials told AFP.

The decision concerns only the tweets, and not a separate probe into allegations that Le Pen misused public funds when hiring a parliamentary aide, they said.

The development is the latest twist in France's dramatic presidential election campaign, coming a day after rightwing candidate Francois Fillon vowed to continue his bid for power despite the fact he is to be charged over his own fake jobs scandal.

Le Pen addressed the tweets in 2015 to a French television journalist who had likened her party to the jihadist group.

The images were tweeted with the caption "This is Daesh" (an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group). They showed Foley's bloodied body with his decapitated head on his torso, as well as a man on fire in a cage, and a victim being driven over by a tank.

Police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre launched an investigation into "the dissemination of violent images".

An investigating judge summoned her for an interview in April 2016 but Le Pen has so far refused to attend, citing her European Parliament immunity.

- 'A political inquiry' -

"This lifting of immunity is absolutely ridiculous and problematic," one of Le Pen's top aides, Florian Philippot, told BFM television.

Le Pen herself has dismissed the inquiry as a "political" attempt to derail her presidential bid, in which she is predicted to win the election's first round in April but lose a run-off in May.

Full report at:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/frances-marine-le-pen-loses-eu-immunity-over-113239549.html

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Islam will be world’s largest religion by 2070

Gregg Zoroya

March 3, 2017

Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2070, ending two millenniums of Christian dominance going back to the birth of Jesus Christ, projections released Thursday by the Pew Research Center show.

Islam is projected to grow more than twice as fast as any other major religion over the next half century because of a higher fertility rate. While Christianity will remain a dominant global religion, it will lose majority religious status in countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Australia.

Such a dramatic change raises questions about whether global conflicts between radical groups and Western nations with Christian majorities will become more inflamed in the decades ahead.

“The very rapid growth of population, combined with limited opportunities even for the educated young people, but particularly for less educated ones, has created social and therefore political tensions and that has fueled things like immigration to Western countries, political upheaval,” says David Voas, professor of population studies at England’s Institute for Social and Economic Research..

The world’s two largest religions will be near parity by 2050. Christians are predicted to be 31.4% of the planet’s population vs. 29.7% who follow Islam, researchers say. Christians made up the same 31.4% in 2010; Muslims 23.2%.

“We can be quite confident that Muslims are going to grow rapidly in the decades ahead,” said Conrad Hackett, demographer and lead author of the report.

The engine of growth for both Christianity and Islam will be sub-Saharan Africa where high fertility and large Muslim and Christian populations will increase global numbers for both religions, Pew demographers say.

Christianity will remain the dominant religion for the United States but lose some of its share to the unaffiliated - those who claim no particular religion or who are atheists or agnostic. By 2050, one in four Americans will fall into this non-religious category, up from 16.4% in 2010, the analysis shows.

While the populations of nearly all the world’s religions will grow, youth and high fertility among Muslims will fuel a dramatic 73% jump in numbers in just over a generation. The number of Christians during that same period will increase by 35%, the study shows.

By midcentury, global population will swell by a third from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 9.3 billion.

Fertility rates are key to the growth rate of religions, according to the report. Populations remains static with a birthrate of 2.1 children per mother, and a few world religions during the next four decades fall below that mark. Buddhists, for example, have a rate of 1.6, so their numbers will remain largely unchanged by 2050, the report says.

Jews and Hindus have higher fertility rates, but still fall below the world average of 2.5. Christians surpass that average with a rate of 2.7, but Muslims soar beyond it with 3.1 children per mother.

For followers of Islam to outnumber Christians by 2070 would be a milestone for mankind, many scholars say.

Other findings in the study:

• India will surpass Indonesia as having more Muslims than any country by 2050. However, because of India’s explosive growth - it will house the world’s largest population by then - Muslims will remain outnumbered by Hindus.

• Muslims will make up 10.2% of Europe’s population by 2050, up from 5.9% in 2010. Their percentage within the US will more than double to 2.1% and they will for the first time outnumber Jews in America.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Mar-2017/islam-will-be-world-s-largest-religion-by-2070

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'Algeria's Orwell' urges writers to fight fundamentalism

March 3, 2017

Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, whose novel "2084" depicted a dystopian state governed by religious law, says writers and artists need to join the fight against Islamic extremism.

"Literature and the arts are not playing a big role in this struggle against barbarism," he said.

In an interview with AFP, the 67-year-old elder statesman of Algerian letters urged writers to use their freedom of speech and do more to fight "fundamentalism".

An avowed atheist, Sansal has long been a free thinker, criticising both religious fundamentalists and Algeria's government.

He has continued to live in Algeria despite being personally threatened.

The former high-ranking official and economics graduate began his literary career with a 1999 novel, "The Oath of the Barbarians", describing the rise of fundamentalists in Algeria.

The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had been poised to win a parliamentary election in 1991 when the army stepped in to cancel it, prompting many FIS members to take up arms. The ensuing "black decade" of violence left some 200,000 dead.

The success of Sansal's first novel launched him on a career that won him prizes in France and Germany.

His books, published in France, are sold freely in Algeria. But he is a controversial figure at home, especially since he visited Israel in 2014 -- a taboo in most of the Arab world.

His 2015 novel 2084 (subtitled "The End of the World") described a country, Abistan, governed under extreme laws set by a religion based loosely on Islam.

Citizens were required to pray nine times a day and the main activities were interminable pilgrimages and public punishments.

The book's title was a nod to George Orwell's dystopian classic "1984".

Sansal's work won praise from controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq, whose 2015 novel "Submission" imagined France ruled by a radical Muslim president.

- 'Threat' of fundamentalism -

Sansal said that nearly 20 years after publishing his first novel on Islamic fundamentalism, he still finds "high-level collective violence... an inexplicable mystery."

His fiction echoes his warnings of what he says is the threat of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe, particularly France, home to five million Muslims.

"I tell them to be careful because Islamism lurks around them, and grows under their feet," he said.

Full report at:

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/algerias-orwell-urges-writers-fight-fundamentalism-032203323.html

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Teenager jailed for seven years for attack on Jewish teacher in France

March 3, 2017

A teenager who attacked a Jewish teacher in France with a machete was sentenced to seven years in jail on Thursday by a French juvenile court, judicial sources said.

The 17-year-old was convicted at a closed-doors trial for slightly wounding the teacher who was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap, or yarmulke, while walking to school in January 2016 in the southern city of Marseille.

Prosecutor Brice Robin said shortly after the attack that the teenager, who has not been identified because of his age, said he had acted in the name of the Islamic State militant group.

The teenager, a Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin, was 15 at the time of the attack. He was charged with attempted murder in connection with a terrorist attack, with the aggravating factor of anti-semitism.

The head of the Jewish community in Marseille advised Jews in the city soon after the attack to avoid wearing the kippa (yarmulke) in the streets. "It really hurts to reach that point but I don't want anyone to die in Marseille because they have a kippa on their head," Zvi Ammar told La Provence daily.

France is home to both the largest Jewish and the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/03-Mar-2017/teenager-jailed-for-seven-years-for-attack-on-jewish-teacher-in-france

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