Smoke rises from an area where explosions and gunshots were heard, in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan July 28, 2018 Reuters
Muslim Clerics in Bihar Insist On Prenuptial Dowry Vows
Banned Extremist Groups, Including Hafiz Saeed's Party, Draws a Blank in Pak Elections
Egyptian Court Sentences Top Muslim Brotherhood Figures To Death
Militants Storm Afghan Midwife Training Centre in Ongoing Attack
Al Shabaab Returnees Claim They Were Fed Up In Somalia
Top US official meets Afghan Taliban in Qatar
India Says Hopes New Pakistan Govt Will Work for Terror-Free South Asia
Imran Is Nothing But Pakistan's Kejriwal, Will Fizzle Out Soon: UP Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee Chairman
Muslims Take Part In Annual Kanwar Yatra From UP Village To Baba Dham In Jharkhand
Haryana's Only Muslim-Run 'Gaushala' Shuts Due To Lack of Funds
Indian Official Deplores Presence of Israeli Firms in Hajj Affairs
PDP MP Warns Of ‘Another Partition’ If Lynchings of Muslim Aren't Stopped
SPO abducted in Kashmir, kin appeal to militants
Mufti to Modi: React positively to Imran’s gesture of friendship
Pakistan Polls: India's Ex-CEC Gives Clean Chit, But Fellow Observers Find Flaws
PPP activists blame own leaders for defeat in KP
US expresses concern over elections, willing to work with new govt
Pakistanis are ultimate winners of peaceful elections: Ali Zafar
PTI’s Ali Amin offers Fazlur Rehman a re-election or vote recounting in NA-38
New Pakistani Pm Was Victim Of Anti-Semitic Conspiracies For Years
ISIL's German Education Minister Killed in Iraqi Forces Operation
Ansarullah: UAE Understands Danger of Yemeni Missiles against Dubai
Egyptian court seeks Grand Mufti's ruling on 75 possible death sentences
Militants hand over medium, heavy weapons in southwestern Syria
Kurds reach deal with Damascus to end Syria conflict
Lebanon’s Berri shuns UN officials for pro-Israel bias
Kurds Agree to Give Control of Key Syrian Cities to Damascus
Hasaka: US Conducts another Heliborne Operations to Rescue ISIL Terrorists
Syrian Army Keeps Rolling on Terrorists' Centers in Southwestern Dara'a
Syrian Army Uncovers Large Weapons Cache in Darayya
Syrian Democratic Council agrees with Assad regime to ‘chart a roadmap’
Muslim World League Opens Rohingya Relief Centre in Bangladesh
2 ISIS group members surrender to Afghan forces in Kunar
Blasts, gunshots reported in eastern Afghan city
People suffer as Tablig, Hefajat men hold rally in Mohammadpur
Mali Goes To Polls after Five Years of Jihad, Insecurity
Iran Releases Karroubi, Mousavi in Attempt to Face down Rising US Pressure
Muslim Summer Camp Director Describes Being Turned Away From Public Pool: 'We're portrayed as Troublemakers'
Tehran Supplying Taliban with Iranian-Made Weapons, Says Afghan MP
Houthis Target Populated Areas In Retaliation As Saudi-Led Forces Push Forward
Yemeni army advances in al-Jawf as Houthis suffer significant losses
Israeli Arab lawmaker quits ‘racist’ parliament over law
Netanyahu-led initiative on Gaza in ‘advanced stage of negotiations’
Yemeni army sends more military reinforcements to Hodeidah
Saudi ambassador to UN: Security Council inaction allowed Iran to arm Houthis
Activists expect Israeli raid as freedom flotilla nears Gaza
Palestinian MP quits over racist Knesset's nation-state law
As Europe's Prisons Fill With ISIS Fighters, Officials Work To Defuse Future 'Human Bombs'
HHS Official Who Made Anti-Muslim Comments and Spread Conspiracy Theories Resigns
In memory of a founding father of the Irish Muslim community – Dr Yusuf Viazie
Labour anti-Semitism row serves Israel supporters: Analyst
UK terrorist jailed over murder plot on Prince George stabbed in jail
Najib Incensed Kit Siang 'Equates' Islam With Kleptocracy
Malaysia condemns attacks on worshippers in Al-Aqsa mosque: Wan Azizah
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
July 28, 2018
Patna: Muslim clerics from Bihar, in a rare joint move, have asked would-be grooms to visit local mosques and make formal declarations that they would not accept dowry as a condition for performing their “Nikah” (wedding). The move, which has received huge praise from various quarters, sets a noteworthy example in a state that is notorious for dowry deaths.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Islahul Muslimeen Muslim Samaj, an organisation of Muslims, held in the Valmiki Nagar locality of West Champaran district on Friday. The meeting, attended by a large number of Muslim religious leaders, announced a social boycott of persons seeking dowry stating that Islam strictly prohibits the practice.
“A groom will have to make a declaration in the mosque stating he has not sought for dowry nor he will accept dowry. No clergy would perform his ‘nikah’ if he fails to do that,” Mufti Mohammad Gyasudeen told the media on Saturday. “This is not a warning or fatwa [diktat] but a declaration by the Muslim community,” he said.
He said the social evil of dowry had been felt in the Muslim community as well, leading to broken marriages. “It’s time for the Muslims to launch a campaign against dowry,” he added.
A similar meeting was earlier held at Tarwan village in southern Bihar’s Gaya district at which Muslim representatives from 94 villages took part. “From today onward, no maulana [cleric] will be there to read out ‘nikahnama’ or administer ‘kabulnama’ under the circumstances,” said a unanimous resolution adopted at the meeting, adding that those seeking dowry would instantly face a social boycott.
The meeting, held under the chairmanship of Mufti Mohammad Muzaffar Hussain, also formed a committee to keep track of all marriages being solemnised in the community and also decided to push ahead with the idea of dowry-less weddings beyond the state as well.
Similar campaigns against dowry are on the anvil in neighbouring state Jharkhand where more than 1,000 Muslim families have so far returned dowry payments they received from families of brides. This follows a massive campaign against dowry launched by social activist Haji Mumtaz Ali.
Such is the success of the campaign that villages after villages have been joining the campaign on a daily basis and openly taking a vow not to give dowry. Initially the campaign was limited to Palamu district of Jharkhand but it has since caught on in a number of neighbouring districts in the state.
Banned extremist groups, including Hafiz Saeed's party, draws a blank in Pak elections
Jul 29, 2018
Extremist and banned groups, including Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-backed Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, have been rejected outright by the Pakistani voters in the just-concluded general elections whose final results were announced today by the election commission.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), not a single candidate of the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek party, supported by the banned Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief, could win a seat.The ECP results show the party candidates got just 171,441 votes, just a drop in the ocean when compared with more than 100 million registered voters and more than 50 per cent turnout in the polls.
Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the general elections, winning 116 National Assembly seats out of the contested 270 parliamentary constituencies, the ECP said.The little-known Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek party name was adopted after the ECP rejected Saeed's bid to register Mili Muslim League. Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), another party with clear sectarian mindset, had fielded more than 150 candidate at the National Assembly seats and hundreds more on provincial assemblies.
The party got 2,191,679 votes and just two of its candidates were elected for the Sindh provincial assembly, the ECP results showed.
The TLP is representative of Sunni Brailvi sect, the largest in Pakistan, and also believes in Sufi Islam.
The party lately exhibited signs of aggression when the its supporters laid siege to the capital Islamabad last year.
The party, however, has not been involved in any kind of terrorism in Pakistan or beyond its borders.
The parties propagating moderate Islam had contested the polls from the platform of Muttahida Majlis-e-Aml Paistan (MMAP).
They got 13 seats while getting 2,530,452 total votes. MMAP is the fifth biggest party in term of total votes, while TLP followed it at number six, according to the results.Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami (JUI-S) got only 24,559 votes, it added.
Rejection of JUI-S' candidates is significant as its head is Maulana Samiul Haq, known as godfather of Taliban and his seminary is called as 'University of Jihad'.
There were other religious parties contesting the polls and they also fared poorly.
While Tehreek-i-Laibak Islam got just 68,022 votes, Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Pakistan of Shiites received 9,606 votes. Sunni Ittehad Council got 5,939, the ECP said.
Pakistan faced a great deal of criticism both from the international and local media and human rights groups as well as political leaders for having hundreds of individuals with clear links to extremists openly campaigning in the election.
The voters of Pakistan have rejected the candidates with ties to extremist or banned groups and scuttled their move to join mainstream politics.
Egyptian court sentences top Muslim Brotherhood figures to death
An Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death on Saturday, including top figures of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, for their involvement in a 2013 sit-in, state media reported.
The Cairo Criminal Court referred the sentences to the Grand Mufti - the country's top theological authority - for his non-binding opinion as is the norm in capital cases. Though non-binding, the formality gives a window of opportunity for a judge to reverse an initial sentence.
The sentences are subject to appeal.
Sentencing for more than 660 others involved in the case was scheduled for Sept. 8, the Al-Ahram news website reported. Those sentences, too, are subject to appeal.
Of the 75 defendants referred to the Mufti, 44 are jailed and 31 are at large. The court normally hands down the maximum sentence for fugitives but a re-retrial is typically held after they are caught.
The case involves a total 739 defendants, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid. The charges range from murder to damaging public property. Neither Badie nor Abu Zeid were sentenced to death in this case.
The 2013 sit-in, in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo, supported former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi who was militarily ousted following mass protests against his divisive one-year rule. Morsi hailed from the Brotherhood.
The sit-in was violently dispersed on Aug. 14, 2013. More than 600 people were killed. Months later, Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Egyptian authorities have since launched a severe crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters, arresting many and trying them on terror-related charges.
Egyptian courts have held mass trials and handed down death sentences for hundreds of people, drawing international condemnation.
In 2014, an Egyptian judge sentenced 529 Morsi supporters to death before 492 were later commuted to life in prison. Death sentences were upheld for the remaining 37.
Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.
International rights groups also denounced the mass trial of the 2013 sit-in. Amnesty International described it in a statement last month as a "grotesque parody of justice" and called on authorities to drop all charges against those arrested for protesting peacefully.
Militants storm Afghan midwife training centre in ongoing attack
Gunmen raided a midwife training centre in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in an ongoing attack that has left at least three people wounded and sparked fierce fighting with security forces, officials and witnesses said.
At least 67 people, including students and teachers, were inside the centre in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, at the time of the attack, provincial governor spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.
So far, 57 had escaped to a "safe area" but 10 were still missing, he said.
Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the centre and gunfire could be heard from inside, more than four hours after the assault began.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack, but most of the recent assaults in the city have been carried out by the Islamic State group, which has a stronghold in Nangarhar.
The Taliban denied involvement in a WhatsApp message sent to reporters.
"The Afghan security forces have cordoned off the area and... launched an operation to gun down the attackers," Khogyani said earlier.
Three wounded civilians have been taken to hospital.
Provincial health department spokesman Inamullah Miakhil said 48 women from remote districts of the province were enrolled in the two-year midwifery course.
The training facility, which is near the centre of Jalalabad in an area where several international organisations and consulates have offices, is funded by the Ministry of Public Health.
"We don't know why the midwife centre came under attack," Miakhil told AFP, adding all NGOs and government bodies in Jalalabad were at risk.
A witness in a nearby department told AFP he heard several explosions and then saw three gunmen enter the street where the midwife centre is located.
Some of the security forces earlier appeared to dismantle improvised explosive devices apparently planted in the street by the militants, a witness told AFP.
Jalalabad has been the scene of several attacks in recent months that have killed dozens, as US and Afghan forces continue offensive operations against IS and Taliban militants.
Health workers a target
Government buildings are a common target for insurgents, including hospitals and medical facilities.
While it is not known why the gunmen targeted the midwife training centre, midwives have been attacked in the past for providing reproductive health services to women.
Islamist groups -- and many ordinary Afghans -- also oppose women working outside the home.
While thousands of women have been trained as midwives since the 2001 US-led invasion, Afghanistan still has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world.
The last major attack in Jalalabad happened on July 11 when gunmen raided an education department compound in the city, sparking an hours-long battle with security forces.
At least 11 people were killed in the attack. All were employees of the education department branch and included the director.
A suicide bomb attack claimed by IS on a crowd of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Jalalabad on July 1 killed at least 19 people and wounded 21.
The Taliban is Afghanistan's largest militant group and IS has a relatively small but potent presence, mainly in the east and north of the country.
It first emerged in Afghanistan in 2014 and quickly established a stronghold in Nangarhar.
Intensified aerial and ground operations against the militants have failed to dislodge them.
An unprecedented three-day ceasefire involving Afghan security forces and the Taliban last month did not include IS.
The first formal nationwide truce since 2001 was marred by two IS suicide attacks in Nangarhar.
While the Afghan government and its foreign backers are seeking to strike a peace deal with the Taliban, US forces have repeatedly said they plan to annihilate IS.
Al Shabaab returnees claim they were fed up in Somalia
July 29th 2018
Some foreign fighters within Al Shabaab ranks are returning home in droves citing poor living conditions and mistreatment, according to intelligence reports. Ten Al Shabaab returnees recently surrendered to Kenya Defence Force (KDF) in Amisom’s Sector II. One of the returnees, Omar Said Omar, from Lamu told security agents that poor living conditions, mistreatment by indigenous Somalis within Al Shabaab ranks and lack of salaries had forced most foreign fighters to flee. “The miserable conditions we have been living in are the same that made me leave my home. They are the same conditions I have to live through everyday,” Omar said. He told security agents that he was recruited into Al Shabaab by his uncle, a madrassa teacher in Hindi, after their father disappeared from home. The Class Eight drop out was offered employment after sitting exams in 2014 to enable him take care of his five siblings. His uncle lived a very comfortable life, a reason he suspects his mother never inquired much about the job.
“I know we were poor back home but it was better to go back home or even die. No matter how hard things were back home, I never went for three days without food or a week without showering,” another returnee Sheikh Abdul from Panda Nguo said. The two admitted that none of the returneeshave anything financial or material gain to show for their time with the terrorists, contrary to the promises by their recruiters when they joined. Unlike Omar and Abdul, Rama Mohammed from Mombasa joined Al Shabaab in pursuit of religious ideology and quest to fight for Jihad. He, however, realised Al Shabaab was not engaged in Jihad.
“I know I did everything to escape and come back home, but I’m afraid to face my mother. How do I tell her I killed other people’s mothers? She would never forgive me,” Rama said. The man is desperate for his mother’s forgiveness because she has been unwell since he left. “Janaa is at her feet, that is the only Jihad I now seek,” a sobbing Rama added. The returnees say that Al Shabaab support looting and pillaging the local population for wealth which is usually a reserve of the leaders while leftovers are given to the local Somali fighters. This leaves the foreign fighters desperate and frustrated. Aerial bombardment on the terrorists positions by Kenya Defence Force (KDF) and US Forces has further forced foreign fighters to return home. Omar, Abdul and Rama are among the 10 militants who surrendered to the KDF troops in the Southern sector last month and are currently undergoing rehabilitation, psychological support and security debriefs at a secluded area before re-integration back into the society.
July 29, 2018
WASHINGTON: Taliban officials told several US media outlets on Saturday that they have held face-to-face meetings with American diplomats in Doha last week.
The New York Times (NYT), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Voice of America (VOA) reported that Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia, led the US team in these talks.
The NBC News television channel reported last week that five US diplomats participated in these talks with Taliban representatives and that some meetings were also held in Afghanistan and UAE.
NYT described the meetings as “a reversal of a longstanding US policy” of not holding direct talks with the Taliban.
WSJ reported that the meeting between Ms Wells and Taliban political leaders in Qatar earlier this week was “an effort to lay the groundwork for peace talks.” But the optimism about potential talks “is tempered by a recognition that any number of unexpected developments could quickly derail any proposed talks,” the report.
General Joseph Votel, who oversees the war in Afghanistan as head of US Central Command, told WSJ that the United States was focusing on both military and diplomatic means for resolving the Afghan conflict.
“If we only focus on objective aspects, you will miss something. There is something to the fact that people are tired and saw something in the ceasefire that got them excited,” he said.
NYT noted that the Taliban have long maintained an informal “political office” in Doha for the purpose of restarting the long-dormant peace process.
This week’s meeting involved several members of the Taliban political commission, Ms Wells and other unidentified American diplomats, the report added.
NBC News reported that both sides had decided not to publicise the meetings.
NYT, WSJ and VOA reported that the State Department refused to comment when contacted by their correspondents but did not deny the Taliban claim that senior US diplomats had met their representatives.
Last week, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed that Ms Wells was in Qatar last week where she met the deputy prime minister and other Qatari officials to “talk about their contributions to the situation in Afghanistan.”
Ms Nauert also praised Qatar’s efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, adding that Ms Wells went there to “commend the government for their ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan.”
Earlier, a State Department official told Dawn that Washington was exploring “all avenues” to advance the Afghan peace process, and was doing so “in close consultation” with the Afghan government.
The United States and Afghanistan are also trying to arrange a second ceasefire with the Taliban over Eidul Azha. They were doing so because they believed that the Eidul Fitr ceasefire had brought the Taliban closer to the Afghan peace process.
“If you can get a ceasefire that lasts a few days, perhaps you could get another one that lasts a little bit longer, and that gives the people of Afghanistan hope,” Ms Nauert said.
India says hopes new Pakistan govt will work for terror-free South Asia
28 July 2018
India on Saturday said it hoped the new government of Pakistan would “work constructively” to end militancy in South Asia, in its first comments following this week’s general election in Pakistan.
Cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, who won the disputed election, has called for better ties with India.
“We hope that the new government of Pakistan will work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed South Asia free of terror and violence,” India’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.
India accuses Pakistan of backing several anti-India militant groups and helping them to infiltrate the divided Kashmir region to stoke violence. Pakistan denies the charge.
On Thursday, as he declared victory in the election, Khan said India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir dispute through talks.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part. Clashes between their forces in Kashmir largely stopped after a 2003 ceasefire but exchanges of fire have been more common in more recent years.
India’s foreign affairs ministry did not directly comment on Khan’s call for talks, but said it welcomed that “the people of Pakistan have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections”.
“India desires a prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbors,” the statement said.
Imran is nothing but Pakistan's Kejriwal, will fizzle out soon: UP Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee chairman
As former cricketer Imran Khan ascends to the PM's throne in Pakistan, apprehensions are strong in India about the cricketer-turned-politician's anti-India and pro-Kashmir-liberation stance.
The first press conference called by Khan has given a hint of his plans for the future, which will most probably coincide with the jingoistic attitude of the Pakistan army towards India.
Although Imran's statement was centered around bringing back the glory of Pakistan which he claimed was lost during decades of corruption, he also gave veiled hints that Pakistan plans to assume a dominant position in the subcontinent and is no longer ready to play the underdog.
However, the Indian Muslims have a different outlook towards Imran Khan, whom they know more as an ace cricketer who bowled some nasty fast deliveries to Indian batsmen.
SYED IRFAN SALIM ON IMRAN KHAN
Talking to India Today following the Friday Namaz, UP Sarvdaleey Muslim Action Committee chairman Syed Irfan Salim said that Imran Khan is a brilliant strategist which he has proved while he was playing cricket. But since then, Imran has always been on the sidelines in the political arena of Pakistan while heavyweights like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari battled on the turf.
Now, with both these champions of Pakistani politics out of the scene, Imran Khan got the chance to become 'Pakistan's Kejriwal', riding an anti-corruption wave.
It remains to be seen whether he also fizzles out like Kejriwal in the face of the corrupt behemoth called Pakistan Army, or he makes his mark as he did in the cricketing world.
SAMI AGHAI ON IMRAN KHAN
Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad chairman Sami Aghai said that although earlier all the Muslims in India were praying for Narendra Modi's defeat in the 2019 elections, now they feel that only Narendra Modi has the caliber to push Imran back inside his own territory.
He said that Imran Khan's ideas about Pakistan's active involvement in Kashmir are well-known and he will go to any extent to secure his place in the lap of the Pakistani Army by giving it a free rein on the Kashmir front.
According to Aghai, at this time, India needs a strong leader like Narendra Modi, heading a full majority government that can take tough decisions. A rag-tag coalition headed by a weakling prime minister is not what the country needs at this time.
Full report at:
Muslims take part in annual Kanwar Yatra from UP village to Baba Dham in Jharkhand
Presenting an example of communal harmony, a group of 70 kanwariyas, which include 15 Muslims, from Kushahari village in neighbouring Deoria district began their journey for Baba Dham in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district.
Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage undertaken by Lord Shiva’s devotees, also known as kanwariyas. The devotees from Kushahari village will reach Sultanganj in Bihar, from where they would collect water of the Ganga river and walk around 104 km to Baba Dham, to offer the water to the deity at Baidyanath Jyotirlinga temple.
Village head Nizam Ansari, who initiated the unique programme, and some others of his faith wore saffron clothes and joined the yatra on their own expense.
Flagging off the yatra yesterday, Sanjiv Shukla, a leading social worker of the area said, “This is the real example of Ganga-Jamuni culture of India. We should all take lesson from it and give preference to love and peace over hatred.”
Haryana's only Muslim-run 'gaushala' shuts due to lack of funds
Mohammadpur Jeev Raksha Gaushala, the only gaushala in the state run by a Muslim, which was inaugurated by CM Manohar Lal Khattar and presented as token of "bovine tolerance and secularism" in 2015, has shut down for want of funds.
According to Aabid Hussain, the civil engineer who spearheaded the initiative, he did not get funds from government for fodder and after running it for almost two years with his own money he had to shut it sending all 35 cows to nearby Gaushala.
What according to Aabid had added to the irony is fact that while all help and funds were being provided to Hindu-run centres, he was being singled out.
"In 2015 not just CM Manohar Lal Khattar but even RSS leaders like Indresh Kumar had attended the inauguration and lauded the initiative. Nearly 80 per cent of Meos are full time or part time dairy farmers who have lived with cows for centuries and I had thought that this Gaushala would get this relationship some respect, but after garnering initial publicity we never got a penny to feed these cows while other Gaushalas run by by non-Muslims got their due regularly. There was no space in other centres but they would overcrowd them and would not send animals to us suspecting we smuggled them," Aabid said.
"The turmoil made me realise that even though rearing them is our ancestral work but cows are copyright of other communities and its biggest crime for a Muslim to even think about them," he added.
As per reports of Gau Seva Aayog, 11 Gaushalas of the district were given a grant of around Rs 12 lakh in last finanacial year and this one was left out.
Expressing surprise at the closure of the gaushala Bhani Ram Mangla, chairman, Gau Seva AAyog, said, "We were not informed about the closure. What has he done with 35 cows? As per norms, they have to send monthly reports of movement of cattle but we have not been getting any information from them and while there were reports of cattle being shifted they maintained initial number of 35 cows, which raises suspicion. We will investigate the matter. There were grave irregularities in the centre."
Speaking at the India Cultural-Islamic Center in New Delhi, he said he could not disclose any names but that he is certain about involvement of Israeli firms in Hajj.
Cooperation with the Zionist regime is a grave mistake because it is an illegal regime and murderer of hundreds of innocent Palestinian women and children, he said.
The official further criticized the rise in the costs of Hajj pilgrimage for Indian pilgrims, saying both the Saudi and Indian officials should be accountable for this.
This year, more than 175,000 Indian Muslims will take part in Hajj.
Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city in Islam.
It is regarded as one of the pillars of Islam and the largest act of mass pilgrimage in the world.
The holy pilgrimage is also a demonstration of Muslims’ unity and their submission to Allah.
PDP MP warns of ‘another partition’ if lynchings of Muslim aren't stopped
di that he should put an end to the killing of Muslims in the name of cow slaughter. This country has once been partitioned into two, and there can be more partitions if killings of Muslims are not stopped immediately."
Baig was addressing a rally to mark the PDP's 19th foundation day in Srinagar.
Until last month, the PDP had an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was in power in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the PDP had allied with the BJP not for power but to ensure that justice was done to Muslims across the country and to the Kashmiri people.
"We allied with the BJP so that they can trust Muslims. We allied with the BJP so that justice is done to Muslims and Kashmiris and talks with Pakistan can take place," he added.
Responding to his comments, BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kholi said in 1947, Pakistan was created because there were those who wanted the country to run based on religion.
"If today someone wants to do so, he must realize that Pakistan still exists. He can go there and live," he said.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad asked Baig was he and his party silent on cases of mob lynching and worsening ties with Pakistan during the PDP-BJP rule in Jammu and Kashmir.
"When you were in power, did you not see things? You remained silent then, Bow that the BJP has separated from you, you are blaming each other," Azad said.
On the other hand, speaking to India Today TV, Baig said he used the term "division" and not "partition". "Unlike Partition (of 1947) which was geographical, this division will be emotional (between Hindus and Muslims)," he said.
Baig said he did not make any irresponsible comment and that he will not retract his comments. (However, in contrast to Baig's claims, the video of his speech does not mention the word "division".)
July 29, 2018
A Special Police Officer (SPO) was abducted from his home by suspected militants at Tral in south Kashmir early Saturday morning. While police were silent on the matter, the family of the police officer appealed to militants for his release. SPO Mudasir Ahmad Lone was abducted from Chan Kitar area of Tral in Pulwama. He was posted as a cook in Awantipore. Police officials only confirmed that the SPO was missing.
Soon after the abduction, Lone’s family made an appeal to militants. “I seek your forgiveness on behalf of my son, and he won’t commit any mistake in future. If he has committed any mistake, please forgive him,” the SPO’s mother said in a video message. “You are my children. I request you to release him safely. If there is any complaint in the future, then kill of us.”
Lone is possibly the third police personnel to be abducted by militants from his home while on leave. Last month, militants abducted Javeed Ahmad from his village of Vehil in south Kashmir’s Shopian. His body was found a day later.
Last week, Mohammad Saleem Shah, an SPO who was recently promoted as constable, was abducted by militants from his home at Wutalhama in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. He was killed by militants a day later.
by Bashaarat Masood
FORMER JAMMU and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respond positively to Pakistan’s Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan’s gesture of peace. Addressing party workers at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Park, Mufti also asked regional parties in the state to join hands and defend Article 35(A). Article 35(A) is a constitutional provision that allows the state Assembly to define permanent residents of J&K.
“I want to make an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-ji: a new government is coming up in Pakistan, a new Prime minister is taking charge. He has stretched his hand of friendship (toward India). He has talked about dialogue. You should respond positively to that.”
Stating that polls come and go, and pointing out that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had agreed to a ceasefire before 2004 General Election, Mufti said, “A big leader doesn’t think about elections — he thinks about the people.”
Saturday’s rally was to commemorate the party’s 19th foundation day, and was attended by more than 4,000 workers from different parts of the Valley. Barring the seven rebel legislators, all key PDP leaders attended the rally. Former Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu was also absent.
Mufti urged mainstream regional parties and the separatists to come together to defend Article 35A, which had been challenged in a batch of petitions before the Supreme Court.
“All parties — there are separatists, there is the National Conference…I would have asked the Congress as well, but it is a national party and it has national interests (that are) separate from the interest of Jammu and Kashmir. We have a challenge before us: Article 35(A),” she said. “Let’s keep aside our differences and join hands to defend Article 35(A).”
Terming her two-year term as chief minister as period akin to sitting on thorns, Mufti said the government would have lasted its full six-year year if she had “compromised”. Stating that she had not smiled once during her tenure as CM, Mufti compared taking oath as chief minister to “drinking a cup of poison”.
She said: “I was not ready to form the government — I took three months. (But) workers, legislators and senior leaders (of PDP) told me that it was the decision of Mufti-sahib (her father), and that ‘you have to drink this cup of poison’.”
Omar stresses need to uphold Article 35(A)
Pakistan polls: India's ex-CEC gives clean chit, but fellow observers find flaws
Jul 28, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India SY Quraishi kicked up a controversy on Saturday when he, as one of the observers from European Union and Commonwealth, gave a clean chit to the general elections in Pakistan even as other members of the same team held that the exercise was flawed.
“I think it was a very free, fair and transparent election,” Quraishi told NDTV. However, while Quraishi confined himself to the events on the polling day to come to the conclusion that the polls were transparent and fair, the chief of the EU’s election observation mission, Michael Gahler, dwelt at length at a press conference here on the political environment before the polling which had negatively influenced the vote.
"The entire process was not as good as in 2013 (when elections were last held),” said Gahler in an observation which contrasted with Qureshi's assessment.
Gahler said his team observed no rigging on the polling day. However, he expressed serious reservations over pressure on the media, “far stronger” efforts than usual to encourage switching parties and “judicial conduct”, all of which negatively influenced the vote - a reference to the disqualification of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam on controversial grounds and their resourceful colleagues crossing over from PML-N to Imran Khan's PTI on the eve of polling.
“We have concluded there was a lack of equality of opportunity. The overall process was not as good as in 2013,” Gahler remarked. The EU had sent 120 observers to monitor elections.
PML-N had complained that its election chances were badly hurt months before the polling due to the role of “Khalai Maqhluq” or extra-terrestrials - a euphemism for the spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). According to PML-N stalwarts, more than 30 candidates had left their party due to ISI’s pressure.
Elaborating on the tense political environment before the polling, Gahler-led mission’s report said: “A number of violent attacks, targeting political parties, party leaders, candidates and election officials, affected the campaign environment. Most interlocutors acknowledged a systematic effort to undermine the former ruling party through cases of corruption, contempt of court and terrorist charges against its leaders and candidates. The electorally sensitive timing, as well as the content of decisions of courts investigating or adjudicating on matters related to high-profile PML-N candidates, were perceived by several stakeholders as an indication of the politicisation of the judiciary. These cases reshaped the political environment ahead of the elections.”
Without taking the name of Milli Muslim League - the political face of 2008 Mumbai terror attack accused Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Taiba which fielded over 150 candidates - the report noted with concern “the emergence of extremist parties with affiliations either to terrorist groups, or individuals linked to organisations that have used, incited or advocated violence”.
Quraishi, who shared his experience of monitoring polls in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, said observers spoke to polling agents of different parties who were present inside the polling booths. “All of them, about 200 that we spoke to, were satisfied with the election process, saying that everything was fine, free and fair. Despite our probing, they did not make a single complaint,” the former Indian CEC stated.
However, Quraishi said the international observers, including him, had raised concern to the CEC of Pakistan over the presence of army personnel inside polling stations.
“He (Pakistan’s CEC) told us that during 2013 elections, the troops were deployed outside polling booths and there were a lot of complaints of rigging. He said the presence of one soldier inside the polling booth, this time, was for the purpose to control rigging,” Quraishi said.
Quraishi said the observers were particularly focusing on the military’s presence anywhere they went “but we found that their presence was just innocuous. They were just hanging around with one man inside the booth and one outside checking identity cards of the voters and it was all going on very smooth”.
Efforts to contact Quraishi were not successful as his mobile was switched off.
Ali Hazrat Bacha
PESHAWAR: Pakistan Peoples Party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seems satisfied with its present position where the number of its MPAs has further decreased, but it has been pondering over revival of all basic organisational units with a renewed pledge to prepare the party for competing in the 2023 general elections in a vigorous manner.
In the backdrop of PPP defeat in July 25 general elections, some of its ideological people told Dawn that its provincial cabinet proved to be inefficient because its members hardly attended the routine monthly meetings. In such a situation, one could not expect them to play a vital role in decision making, they say.
However, former federal minister Lal Mohammad Khan, who remained one of the close aides of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said that the provincial president was responsible for the crushing defeat of the party, adding that fielding PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from NA-8, Malakand, was a childish decision.
“In my view, the provincial president is no less than cancer for the party as he brought the party chief just for his own benefit to generate revenue. Most of the workers were prepared to raise the slogan ‘go Humayun go’ before Mr Bilawal on his visit to Batkhela for replacement of the provincial chief, but they were not given the opportunity,” the senior leader disclosed. He suggested intra-party election and replacement of the provincial president to streamline the party affairs.
Lal Khan said that PPP’s ideological people were going to move a no-confidence motion against Malakand district nazim Ahmed Ali Shah, who is brother of PK-19 Malakand candidate Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha. “Workers are sure that Humayun and Bacha brothers divided the party in groups and they should be sidelined immediately,” he said.
He said that Bilawal wanted to address a public meeting in Batkhela as part of his election campaign, but the provincial president convinced him to cancel the idea due to security concerns. He said that he did not want the party chief to know about internal differences and thus saw him off immediately.
A number of PPP candidates said on condition of anonymity that the party leadership did not support them in the campaign and even the copies of PPP manifesto were not provided for distribution to woo voters. “There was no coordination of the leaders with the candidates and election material was also not provided to the contenders who had to arrange everything at their own,” a defeated senior party leader said and added that the provincial president’s cell phone was always found off during the campaign.
“We had got the party ticket and nothing else to attract the voters,” Dr Afsarul Mulk, president of Malakand divison, said briefly when contacted for his comments.
Tahir Abbas, another ideological leader and brother of deceased Qamar Abbas, expressed his satisfaction over the decision taken by PPP leadership to play a positive role in the assemblies. He said that the strategy of election campaign of Mr Bilawal was satisfactory, but the provincial council should be revived on solid footings to supervise party’s activities in the light of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto’s vision.
The party should bring forward youngsters, but the services and suggestions of seniors should not be neglected. He said that the last meeting of the provincial council was held in 2007 and since then it failed to play any significant role in strengthening the party. “We are here to work if any steps are taken for strengthening of the party,” he said.
Provincial secretary information Gohar Ali Inqilabi suggested that the district level units should be empowered to run party affairs otherwise all the members of provincial cabinet should accept the responsibility to have regular contact with workers for sorting out routine matters.
Peshawar district’s former nazim Azam Afridi, who was focal person of Bilawal’s election campaign, said that the PPP’s defeat was artificial and it had still roots in masses.
PPP had awarded 51 tickets to the National Assembly candidates and 99 to the KP Assembly candidates. Of the NA candidates, only Sajid Hussain Turi won the election from NA-46, Kurram tribal district.
Of the 99 provincial candidates, only four succeeded who include Sahibzada Sanaullah PK-11, Upper Dir-II; Malik Badshah Saleh PK-10, Upper Dir-I; Sher Azam Wazir PK-87, Bannu-I; and Ahmad Karim Kundi PK-96, DI Khan-II. In 2013, the party had six MPAs, including one woman member on reserved seat.
JULY 29, 2018
The United States has expressed concerns about irregularities in Pakistan’s pre-voting electoral process, as reported by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), including ‘constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association during the campaign period’.
These concerns were expressed by the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, in a statement on Friday. However, Nauert agreed with the European Union Election Observation Mission’s statement that there had been ‘positive changes to the legal framework for elections in Pakistan’.
At a news conference on Friday, European Union (EU) monitoring chief Michael Gahler said that the team gave a passing grade to Election Day balloting in Pakistan. However, it failed the pre-polling campaigning – marred by harassment and intimidation of the media including unfair targeting of the former ruling party – that overshadowed the successes of the day. “Our overall assessment of the election process is that it is not as good as in 2013,” said Gahler. Despite his criticism, he said the election results were credible.
In her statement, Heather Nauert condemned the violent attacks in Quetta leading up to the balloting. “We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” she said.
Nauert continued, the U.S. “commends the courage of the Pakistani people” highlighting, “the many women, who turned out to vote and showed resolve to determine their country’s future.”
She stressed that despite its deep reservations over the participation of individuals affiliated with terrorist outfits in the elections, the U.S. praised Pakistani voters for fully rejecting these candidates at the ballot box.
Interim Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National Heritage and Law Affairs, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar Saturday congratulated the nation on holding of “free, fair and transparent general elections”.
In a message broadcast on state-run television channel, the minister said that the ultimate winners of the whole electoral process of general election 2018 were the people of Pakistan. He said the sessions of national and provincial assemblies would be summoned immediately after the issuance of a notification of successful candidates by the Elections Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The caretaker government would be absolved from its responsibilities immediately after formation of federal and provincial governments.
He said that the process of formation of new federal as well as provincial governments has already been started in the light of the verdict given by the people. The new governments would represent each citizen of the country and enjoy people’s confidence, he added.
He said that the main aim of ordering the re-polling in some constituencies, where female turn out remained below 10 percent, was to ensure the participation of women in the electoral process.
Congratulating the nation on behalf of caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk and his cabinet for holding free, fair and transparent elections, he said that elected representatives should now ensure progress and prosperity of the country.
The minister also congratulated the loosing contestants and appreciated their participation and playing their role in strengthening the democratic process.
He said that July 25th was surely a historic day in the country’s history as the general public exercised their right to franchise and electing their representatives as per their aspirations.
He lauded the determination, discipline and commitment of voters for questioning their representatives of different constituencies during their respective election campaigns.
He said the 2018 general election had many important features, including the overwhelming participation of female voters in many areas of the country where their participation was not encouraged. He said that overall atmosphere of elections remained peaceful as the whole nation participated in the electoral process considering it their national duty.
The minister also expressed dismay and dejection over the loss of innocent lives in terrorist attacks in Peshawar, Mastung, Bannu and Dera Ismael Khan during election campaigns, adding that despite all these cowardly attempts, terrorists could not deter nation’s determination.
He hailed the contribution of law enforcement agencies, including Pakistan Army, Frontier Constabulary and police, for extending their services to organize the general elections in a free, fair and peaceful atmosphere. The whole nation is dejected and condemned the cowardly acts of terrorism. Terrorists have miserably failed to foil nation’s commitment to democracy.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Ali Amin Gandapur on Saturday offered Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman a re-election or recounting of votes in NA-38, a constituency of Dera Ismail Khan-I.
Reportedly, in a statement issued by Gandapur, he suggested that Fazlur Rehman can inspect the election result either way.
“I will contest, even if Maulana makes his own arrangements,” he said, asserting that he had pledged to ‘bury’ Fazlur Rehman’s politics of wickedness and iniquity.
He further said that Maulana was well aware of the defeat margin for the second time, and so he would not re-contest.
“If he has enough guts, then he should face me in the field,” Gandapur said.
The defeats by ‘rookie’ candidates of PTI in both constituencies hit the cleric like a thunderbolt in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He contested the general elections as a strong candidate of MMA.
By Seth J. Frantzman
JULY 28, 2018
Imran Khan, the former cricket star set to be the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, was once married to Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of billionaire James Goldsmith. Although Jemima converted to Islam for her 1995 marriage to Khan in 1995, “she was constantly attacked as an insincere Muslim, part because of her Jewish grandfather,” according to a 2004 account in The Guardian. Khan and Jemima have two children, Qasim and Sulaiman.
Jemima is also the sister of Zac Goldsmith who ran for mayor of London in 2016 and lost to Sadiq Khan. Imran Khan reportedly endorsed Goldsmith in the mayoral election. In 2016 The Independent noted that “that candidate Zac Goldsmith, and his alliance with Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, his former brother-in-law, should raise serious questions.”
Jemima Goldsmith was born in 1974, the daughter of Sir James Goldsmith and Lady Annabel Vane Tempest Stewart. Sir James was the son of a luxury hotel magnate and parliamentarian named Frank Goldsmith. Frank Goldsmith had been born in Frankfurt in 1878 and his family, like that of the Rothschilds who lived in the same city, were well known. James Goldsmith was brought up Catholic according to The Telegraph and Jemima was Christian until she converted to Islam.
When Jemima converted to marry Khan, who had refashioned himself as a devout Pakistani nationalist and seeking a political career, she was 20 years younger than the cricket star. “Since they had married in 1995, Jemima had made huge efforts to adapt to life in Pakistan,” The Guardian noted. Khan was elected to parliament and had a single-minded devotion to becoming Prime Minister. “Imran stubbornly subscribes to the idea that it is his destiny to become Pakistan’s prime minister,” a 2004 article noted.
Jemima, who wanted to be a journalist, was openly pro-Palestinian and had studied Islam and the Middle East, wrote an article in The Guardian that was criticized for being anti-Semitic. “The Israeli lobby in the US rich and influential,” she wrote after the Mohammed al-Dura killing in Gaza. ‘The media is largely controlled by the Jews, as is Hollywood, and they account for more than half the top policy-making jobs in the Clinton administration.” She defended the article, saying that “it is outrageous to suggest that I am anti-Semitic, not least because I have family who are practicing Jews. I was raised with a strong sense of our Jewish roots.” She also wrote that “many of my friends are Jewish.” The article was pilloried as being connected to Imran’s political career. “Imran did not write the piece and in no way influenced it,” she said.
The Arabic-language al-Sumeriyeh news quoted Iraqi security sources as reporting that Reza Sayam was killed in the Iraqi forces operations in Mosul last year.
It went on to say that Sayam nom de guerre Zolqarnein left Germany for Syria in 2012 and joined the ISIL and later was appointed as the terrorist group's Education Minister.
Sayam was accused of involvement in the 2002 blast in Indonesia that left 202 dead and 240 injured.
On July 10, 2017, Iraqi Prim Minister Haydar al-Abadi formally declared victory over ISIL extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.
In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi Army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against ISIL.
The Iraqi forces took control of Eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the West on February 19 last year.
ISIL began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.
"Today, closure of the hostile countries' airports and ports is accessible and given the Saudis' crimes against the Yemeni people, we are entitled to target all their ships but we have not yet reached that stage," Mohammad al-Bakhiti, a member of Ansarullah's political bureau, told the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel on Saturday.
"The countries which have attacked Yemen should review their calculations and the UAE understands the danger of Dubai's being targeted (by the Yemeni missiles)," he added.
Al-Bakhiti said that security of Bab al-Mandab benefits everyone, hence the aggressive countries should stop attacks against Yemen.
In relevant remarks on Friday, a commentator said that Yemen’s recent drone strike against Abu Dhabi International Airport is giving a flavor of attacks that the Saudi-led coalition has been conducting on Yemen.
“The Yemeni people are now giving (the UAE) a taste of the attacks they themselves suffered," Scott Bennett, a former US army psychological warfare officer, said, referring to the damage that the Saudi-led attacks have caused on Yemen's infrastructure.
“The Yemenis are now able to unleash (retaliatory attacks) in form of drone weaponry, which are fantastic weapons for guerrilla warfare,” Bennett said.
According to the analyst, this is “a payback” for the inhumane acts of the UAE and Saudi Arabia which have caused civilian death and destruction in Yemen since March 2015.
A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday that Yemen’s army had attacked Abu Dhabi International Airport by a domestically-built long-endurance Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) unmanned aerial vehicle.
Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 17,000 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.
Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.
Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with more than 22 million people in need and is seeing a spike in needs, fuelled by ongoing conflict, a collapsing economy and diminished social services and livelihoods.
Jul 28, 2018
An Egyptian criminal court has referred the cases of 75 people, including senior outlawed Muslim Brotherhood figures, who have already received death sentences over allegedly committing security-related offences to the country’s top religious authority for final consultation.
The people are among 739 defendants in total, including Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, who are accused of taking part in an illegal protest and being involved in alleged murders during a sit-in held at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in the capital Cairo in August 2013 in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
The peaceful protest ended in the death of some 600 Brotherhood supporters and dozens of police officers when security forces violently dispersed the crowd. The accused face a range of sentences, including execution and life in prison.
The court announced the news on Saturday, stating that it had set September 8 as the date of the final verdict for all the defendants involved.
Grand Mufti Shawqi Allamis is normally expected to announce his non-binding opinion in cases of capital punishment, according to Egypt's penal code. Due to the non-binding nature of the mufti’s decision, the defendants hold the right to appeal the verdict at Egypt's Court of Cassation.
Among the 75 cases referred to the Grand Mufti on Saturday are those of leading Brotherhood members such as Essam El-Erian, Mohamed Beltagy and Wagdy Ghoneim.
According to the court, the defendants are accused of attacking citizens, resisting authorities, destroying public property, and possessing firearms and Molotov cocktails.
Rights groups in Egypt and across the world have recorded cases of irregularities in the trials of political prisoners in the country. They say the army’s clampdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the death of some 1,500 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.
The administration of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has outlawed the Brotherhood organization, which is Egypt’s oldest opposition movement. The group operated under strict measures during the rule of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was himself removed from power following an uprising in 2011.
Foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants have handed over a considerable amount of their medium and heavy munitions to government forces in Syria’s strategic southwestern province of Quneitra as army troops continue to make territorial gains and inflict stinging blows on the extremists.
Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that Syrian army forces had received a battle tank, a rocket launcher, two armored vehicles, three sport utility vehicles equipped with 14.5mm machine guns, a ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" Soviet-built anti-aircraft weapon system, a 122mm cannon, tank shells and mortars of various calibers from extremists in Jubata al-Khashab town.
‘Syrian army preparing operation to liberate Idlib’
Meanwhile, an unnamed Syrian military source has told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency that government forces are dispatching military equipment and personnel to the borders of the country’s militant-controlled northwestern province of Idlib, and are preparing for a large-scale operation to clear the area of terrorists.
“Military units are being deployed north of Hama province. The next stage will be to launch an offensive on the position of the so-called Jaysh al-Izza (the Army of Glory) terrorists in the villages of Kafr Zita, al-Lataminah, Latmin, Zakat Arbaen, al-Lahaya and Maarkabah,” the source said.
The source added, “The army is receiving information that militants in the northern part of the country are preparing to launch a broad offensive on the positions of the Syrian army. All necessary measures have been taken to strengthen our positions, which will enable the army to thwart possible assaults.”
A great proportion of Idlib province is currently under the control of foreign-backed Takfiri militant groups.
The territory has witnessed cases of bitter clashes between members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and al-Qaeda-linked Ahrar al-Sham militants in recent months.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.
On May 21, the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces announced in a statement that complete security was restored to Damascus and its countryside after al-Hajar al-Aswad district and al-Yarmouk camp were totally purged of Daesh terrorists.
An alliance of Kurdish and Arab militants in Syria says it has come to an agreement with the Syrian government to develop negotiations to end violence in Syria.
The announcement was made after the so-called Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), sent a delegation to Damascus for talks with Syrian officials earlier this week. The SDF, itself, is a US-backed coalition of mainly Kurdish militants.
The SDC said in a statement Saturday that it had agreed with the government of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to form committees that would "chart a roadmap to a democratic, decentralized Syria.”
The SDC delegation visited Damascus for the first time after President Assad said that he was “opening doors” for negotiations with Syrian Kurds that he said had "apparently become wary" of their unpredictable ally - the United States.
The Kurds then expressed readiness to hand over control of the Eastern Euphrates to the government after Washington withheld its support for the Kurdish militants in the northern Syrian cities of Manbij and Afrin.
The SDC's co-chair Riad Darar said on Friday the talks with Damascus were aimed at "working towards a settlement for northern Syria," as it was time to "solve our problems ourselves."
The group, which is being supported by Washington, has already managed to form an autonomous administration in northern Syria during the country’s seven-year conflict.
Washington’s conflicting plans in Syria, however, have now prompted the Kurdish militants to turn to the government in Damascus.
Their presence in the area near the Turkish border has been a source of tension between the US and Turkey.
Ankara, which considers the Syrian Kurdish militants as an extension of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists, has even threatened to “destroy all terror nests,” near the Syrian border.
It has vowed not to allow Kurdish groups to dominate Turkish border with Syria.
Refugees gather in Shebaa for return to Syria
On Saturday, hundreds of Syrian refugees residing in Hasbaya’s Shebaa and western Bekaa gathered in a schoolyard in Shebaa, waiting for buses departing to Syria, provided by the Syrian government.
The state-run National News Agency estimated that nearly 900 refugees assembled at Shebaa High School at 9 a.m., while General Security was present on site checking the names of the departees.
The buses are set to stop at the Masnaa border point before crossing into Syria. The group marks the fourth to depart from Lebanon.
Lebanon’s top legislator has refused to meet with the United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon, and the commander of the world body’s peacekeepers, decrying their pro-Israeli bias.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said the UN representative Pernille Dahler Kardel “had crossed the line in her conduct” and was leaning more toward Israeli politics, speaking to local daily al-Joumhouria.
“When I met her a while back, I felt that she is more [in favor of] Israeli policy at the expense of our rights and borders. I brought it to her attention that she had committed to continue the policy of Sigrid Kaag, who held the position before her,” Berri said in the interview published on Friday.
“But she denied it, saying there was no audio recording to prove what I said,” said the head of the parliament and noted that he would likely not meet her ever again.
Berri said he had considered calling on the UN to remove the official from her post, but decided against the move in order not to pit Beirut against the international community. The official, however, has once been summoned over the country’s complaints about her conduct.
Separately, he declined to receive the outgoing UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, saying the latter had partaken in Israel’s “National Day” celebrations, and even congratulated Tel Aviv on the occasion.
Berri said the participation alone “did not suffice for Beary; he [also] tweeted, congratulating Israel on this occasion and disregarding that he is the head of UNIFIL in Lebanon,” the paper wrote.
Israel launched full-scale wars against Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. In both, the regime was forced to withdraw amid steadfast defense put up by the country’s Hezbollah resistance movement.
The countries are technically at war as Israel has kept Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms occupied since 1967.
The Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper quoted informed Syrian sources as saying that the SDF has agreed to give control of Raqqa city and a large number of districts in Hasaka city, including those near the government and security centers, to the Syrian government.
Based on the report, the meetings were held in the presence of the Kurds close to the Syrian government, adding that they have told the SDF officials that regaining control of the occupied areas is possible but Damascus prefers to retake them through political ways and negotiations.
It added that the executive council of the SDF has also informed Damascus that the US intends to withdraw its forces and evacuate its military bases from the Syrian territories.
The SDF announced in a statement earlier on Saturday that it has agreed with the Syrian government on formation of committees at different levels to continue talks with the aim of ending the war and violence.
A delegation of the SDF was sent to Damascus to hold talks on the future of regions occupied by the Kurds in Northern Syria.
Relevant reports said on Friday that an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militants in Syria sent a delegation to the Syrian capital for talks with Syrian government officials.
The so-called Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which is linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — a US-backed coalition of mainly Kurdish militants holding a grip on northeastern Syria — sent the delegation to Damascus, according to SDC co-chair Riad Darar.
The delegation, led by executive head of SDC Ilham Ahmed, was expected to discuss matters of service provision in the areas controlled by the Kurdish group, but “the talks might widen to political and security matters," Darar said on Friday.
"This is certainly the first visit that happened," he added.
The militants are allied with the United States and French troops deployed to Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIL.
Chief among their demands is having an autonomous region within the Syrian borders. Darar, however, said that the outcome of the meetings is not yet clear, and that he did not know which Syrian officials will be meeting with the Kurdish delegation.
Hasaka: US Conducts Another Heliborne Operations to Rescue ISIL Terrorists
The sources said that an American military helicopter, accompanied by several military vehicles of the Washington-backed Kurdish militias, conducted a heliborne operation between the villages of Tal Mashhan and Tal Dowayem in al-Ya'arabiyeh region in Eastern Hasaka near the border with Iraq.
The soruces further said that three ISIL members, including an Iraqi terrorist, were rescued in the US heliborne operation and were transferred to an unknown destination.
Similar operations have been underway on a regular basis in the region in spite of the US' claims of war on ISIL in Syria.
In May, the US forces conducted four more airborne operations in Southeastern Hasaka to rescue a number of entrapped ISIL terrorists, a move done repeatedly by the American forces to provide back up for the terrorist group in Eastern Syria.
Four American military helicopters conducted four sorties of heliborne operations in the villages of al-Qeirawan, Haresat Sinjar, al-Ta'ef and aAbu Kabra, evacuating a group of ISIL terrorists to an unknown location.
The US military forces are carrying out airborne operation in ISIL-held regions once in a while.
In the same month, Russia's airbase in Lattakia province, known as Humeimim, complained that Washington supported the ISIL terrorists through the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, as the SDF continues pressures against civilians in Deir Ezzur.
Humeimim announced that it gained field reports disclosing that Washington is indirectly supporting and equipping the ISIL terrorists.
It added that Washington supports the ISIL through its illegally created allies, the SDF forces, who pursued disintegration of Syria.
The army men drove ISIL out of Tal Qitar and the small but key towns of Nafe'a and al-Jomlah after taking control over Wadi al-Seisoun region in Hawz Yarmouk in Southwestern Dara'a.
In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at terrorists' positions in the regions that are still under ISIL's control in Hawz Yarmouk, inflicting major losses on the militants.
A military source said that the army has gained control of over half of ISIL-held territories in Hawz Yarmouk and only a few villages and settlements are still under terrorists' control.
Other sources reported earlier today that the army men stormed ISIL's strongholds in Hawz Yarmouk region in Southwestern Dara'a and captured Saham al-Joulan Dam and Wadi al-Seisoun region.
In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units and aircraft pounded ISIL's positions in the small towns of al-Shajarah, Jomlah, Kowiya and several villages at the borders with Jordan and Israeli-occupied Golan, the sources went on to say.
Al-Ikhbariya TV reported on Saturday that the Syrian security forces uncovered the weapons cache of terrorists while combing through some of the destroyed buildings inside Darayya yesterday.
The Al-Ikhbariya TV report showed the basement of one of the destroyed buildings that included the weapons cache.
A large amount of mortar shells, RPG launchers, RPG rounds, assault rifles and IED materials were in the depot.
28 July 2018
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) announced that it has agreed with the Syrian regime to form joint committees and negotiate “ending the war and creating a road map leading to a democratic, decentralized Syria.”
This announcement comes on the heel of a visit by the SDC to the Syrian capital Damascus to seek a deal with President Bashar al-Assad to preserve their autonomy..
Salih Muslim a leading official in the US-backed SDC forces considered the visit of the council to Damascus as a test of the Syrian regime's intentions.
Muslim warned that any agreement reached should have international guarantees, as the Syrian regime wants to manipulate and impose a surrender similar to what happened in Syria’s Daraa and other regions, he said.
He stressed that what happened in Daraa "will never happen with the Kurds as they are tough and rely on a huge experience".
Meanwhile the SDC's co-chair Riad Darar said in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the delegation is in Damascus to discuss the provision of services, like water and electricity, then will move on to other important issues.
The next phase of negotiations is expected to deal with the future of Syria and the political system and the abandonment of centralism in favor of certain parties, to a federalist model in accordance with the vision of the SDC.
The meeting was at the invitation of the Syrian government, the SDC's statement said. Assad, who - backed by Russia and Iran - has recently taken back most rebel-held areas after seven years of conflict, has sworn to regain “every inch” of Syria. He has also described the Kurdish administration in the northeast as “temporary structures.”
However, negotiations with Damascus raise new questions for US policy in Syria, where the US military has deployed into SDF-held territory during the campaign against ISIS.
JEDDAH: Muslim World League Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa inaugurated the Integrated Services Center for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Saturday.
Al-Issa stressed the importance of the completion of the center as soon as possible in line with the MWL’s commitment to the best standards according to the conditions available for each environment, as well as the best practices in comprehensive humanitarian action, which represent a qualitative leap in relief work for Rohingya refugees who live in difficult conditions.
He said that the center will provide a small community for Rohingya refugees with social facilities offering basic education, vocational training and primary health care.
Al-Issa praised the efforts of the International Islamic Relief Organization in preparing and planning for the establishment of the Bangladesh center.
In a previous statement, the MWL addressed the international community, noting that the atrocities suffered by the Rohingya in Myanmar from brutal attacks and genocide in full view of the whole world is stain on the face of humanity and its international system.
“This disturbing historical chapter in the humanitarian and international record will be a witness to the magnitude of the failure to stop certain massacres and crimes of hatred,” Al-Issa said.
“These crimes represent one of the worst brutal and bloody terrorist images, which is no less than the terrorism and crimes of terrorist organizations around the world, such as Daesh.”
Al-Issa said that the MWL is focusing on the economic empowerment of refugees to help them be productive and self-sufficient in their own environments, and thus achieve sustainable development — the main aim of the humanitarian work of the MWL.
The secretary-general highlighted the importance of raising the health awareness of the Rohingya by focusing on and addressing the personal needs of women and their psychological and health requirements, in addition to providing personal health requirements for the rest of the family.
At the same time, these efforts should help mitigate the impact of physical and psychological violence suffered by Rohingya refugees, through specialized psychological and reunion programs, the care of orphans, widows, and other specialized programs, he said.
Al-Issa pointed out that the efforts of the MWL support its international presence as a world organization with great weight and influence, by harnessing all the potential to be present wherever required, on a purely humanitarian basis that does not carry any discrimination, based on the teachings of Islam.
Jul 29 2018
Two members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group have surrendered to the Afghan security forces in eastern Kunar province.
The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East said two ISIS group members identified as Khalid and Abdullah surrendered to the public order police forces in Kunar.
The source further added that the two militants were involved in destructive activities in Chambarak area of Chapa Dara district.
According to Silab, the two militants also handed over two Ak-47 assault rifles, 9 Ak-47 magazines, 270 munitions, 1 radio set, and two hand grenades.
The anti-government armed militant groups including ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.
The security situation in eastern Kunar province has started to deteriorate sharply during the recent months amid growing insurgency activities by the Taliban and ISIS militants.
The anti-government armed militants continuously attempt to expand their foothold in this province amid ongoing military operations and airstrikes.
Muslim summer camp director describes being turned away from public pool: 'we're portrayed as troublemakers'
Tahsiyn Ismaa’eel was determined to get her campers a full day in the pool.
The director of Darul Amaanah Academy in Wilmington, Delaware, can see the closest city pool, Foster Brown, from the school’s back door. It is where she has taken children attending the school’s summer Arabic literacy program for the past three years, usually three times a week.
But this summer was different. Since late June, the group was harassed on at least six occasions because of the children’s attire or barred from entering the pool, Ms Ismaa’eel said. Staff members had begun citing an unposted rule prohibiting cotton clothing in the pool, she said, seemingly targeting her campers, a majority of whom are observant Muslims who dress modestly and wore long shorts or tights, T-shirts and headscarves to go swimming.
On 16 July, she tried one more time. The group arrived and was told the pool was at capacity, Ms Ismaa’eel said. She and the children waited until a family left and they were allowed to enter, but the facility closed shortly after, and everyone was forced to leave.
She now takes her students to another pool, Eden Park, 10 minutes away, where their attire has not been questioned.
“There’s no point in going back,” Ms Ismaa’eel said. “We’re portrayed as troublemakers when in fact, there was never a policy in writing.”
She said she was focusing on keeping her campers busy so they don’t dwell on what happened. “They definitely feel like there’s something wrong with them being Muslim,” she said.
Parents of some of the children said they have struggled to explain to them why their clothes were being questioned.
“My children literally sat on the side of the pool each time and cried,” said Mia Miller, whose two daughters, ages five and six, have special needs and were at the pool during some of the encounters.
Muslim Advocates, a national advocacy group, sent the city a cease-and-desist letter last week on the school’s behalf, saying that state and federal anti-discrimination laws had been violated and calling for an investigation.
Mayor Mike Purzycki of Wilmington has apologised to the children. John Rago, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, confirmed that the rules and regulations posted at city pools only prohibit cut-off jeans and that there is no mention of cotton clothing. (He also said the temporary pool closure on July 16 was because of a medical emergency involving a lifeguard.)
Mr Rago said the city was taking the allegations seriously and investigating. He added that the city’s Muslim community has been invited to help review and update the pool policies, and that staff members will receive training “so there is nothing left to individual interpretation.”
For the remainder of the city’s pool season, which runs until August 18, there will be a “very liberal policy in place regarding proper swimwear without restrictions on the types of fabrics worn,” Mr Rago said.
The pool manager at Foster Brown who confronted Ms Ismaa’eel has been reassigned to administrative duties, Mr Rago said.
Ms Ismaa’eel said she and more than a dozen campers arrived at the pool around 3pm on 25 June, the first day city pools were open. The pool staff began to ask her and her daughter when they planned to leave and they became uncomfortable, she said.
The pool manager, Glenda Pinkett, confronted her and told her the pool had a “no cotton” policy and the children could no longer swim there. Ms Pinkett also called some of the children derogatory names, according to the cease-and-desist letter.
They left within the hour, Ms Ismaa’eel said.
“It’s never been an issue,” said Ms Ismaa’eel, who grew up in Wilmington and swam in T-shirts and shorts as a child.
Ms Pinkett could not be reached for comment. She previously told The News Journal of Wilmington that she believed cotton clothes could clog pool filters, but admitted there was no written policy. “Nobody was discriminated,” she told the publication. “As I did with all our patrons, we asked them to not wear cotton.”
In a statement this month, Mr Purzycki said the city used poor judgment in asking the children to leave because of their clothing. “We also referred to vaguely worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgment, and that was also wrong,” he said.
Nadirah Salaam said she was angry when she found out her 10-year-old daughter had been part of the group whose clothes were questioned.
Mali goes to polls after five years of jihad, insecurity
BAMAKO: Malian voters were due to decide on Sunday on whether or not to give President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a second term, despite widespread ethnic and jihadist violence that has dramatically worsened since he came to power five years ago.
Two dozen other candidates are contesting the presidency in a largely Saharan desert nation that has been fractured by a Tuareg rebellion and Islamist militancy across its north and central zones since the last poll in 2013.
Insecurity is such that in some parts of the country the vote will simply not happen, and the European Union observer mission urged the government on Saturday to publish a list of places that will be unable to vote, so as to quell suspicions by candidates of “fictitious polling stations.”
“These are polling stations in which we know insecurity ... won’t make the vote possible there,” EU mission head Cecile Kyenge told journalists on Saturday.
Eight million voters are enrolled. Polls open at 8 a.m. (0800 GMT) and close at 6 p.m. (1800 GMT). Opposition candidates include businessmen, an astrophysicist, and just one woman.
Addressing supporters at a final rally late on Friday, Keita’s main rival Soumaila Cisse, 68 — seen as having the strongest chance of ousting him — pledged a fresh start.
“People want change. This government was an accident that we are going to forget,” he said.
Keita, 73, in a rival rally along the leafy banks of Niger River in the capital Bamako, suggested that peace had already been restored, saying he had toured all over Mali and “nowhere did I feel afraid.”
But in the past three years, jihadist attacks have tripled and violent deaths have doubled, according to civil society website Malilink. Islamists have spread from the north to the center and even targeted Bamako — as in 2015, when gunmen killed 20 people in a raid on the Radisson Blu hotel — as well as Mali’s neighbors.
Last month a suicide bomber drove a vehicle laden with explosives into the headquarters of the regional G5 Sahel anti-terrorist force in Severe, central Mali, killing three people.
Growth has averaged 5 percent under Keita, and Mali’s key exports of gold and cotton have flourished, as have agricultural staples like rice, but insecurity has taken the shine off.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission to Mali has suffered more fatalities than any throughout history, with some 170 peacekeepers killed, and human rights groups have raised the alarm over alleged executions by security forces.
The Defense Ministry promised to investigate evidence linking them to mass graves.
In contrast to this litany of bloodshed, Malian polls have always been peaceful, and judged free and fair by observers.
Yet there are fears this one will be closer and more contested than in the past. Opposition candidates have cried foul over the electoral list, and Cisse told his supporters on Friday that the government was planning to steal the election.
“We have discovered ... massive fraud, This is a government that cheats,” said Cisse, who hails from a village near the fabled medieval Islamic city of Timbuktu, once a popular tourist spot until it became beset by Islamist militancy in 2012.
Western countries such as France, and the United Nations, both of which have invested heavily in troop deployments and money to try to stabilize Mali, are heaping pressure on all sides not to allow any dispute to boil over into violence.
In a statement on Saturday a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged “all political actors in Mali to commit to making this poll a peaceful, free and transparent process, and to resolve any possible dispute ... in accordance with the law.”
Meeting with opposition candidates to hear their complaints about the electoral list, Mali Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga urged them to trust in the process on Saturday.
“I think we are all ... agreed on the fact that we can’t hold a perfect election, but we can have an election which is accepted by everyone,” he said.
Iran releases Karroubi, Mousavi in attempt to face down rising US pressure
29 July 2018
Iran’s top security body has approved the release of opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who were placed under house arrest for seven years for leading mass protests in 2009, a family member told local media.
“I have heard that the decision to lift the house arrest was approved by the Supreme National Security Council,” said Hossein Karroubi, son of the jailed reformist, according to the Kalameh news website which is close to the family.
“This decision will be presented to the (supreme) leader so that this case can be concluded,” he said, adding that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would have 10 days to veto the decision.
There was no official confirmation of the decision, but the reports come at a time when Iran’s leaders are keen to unite conservative and reformist factions to face down increasing pressure from the US and a worsening economic crisis.
Mousavi, 76, and Karroubi, 80, were reformist candidates in the controversial election of 2009, which was won by hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
They claimed the vote was rigged, triggering months of mass protests, particularly in Tehran. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the biggest challenge to the system since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
The pair were placed under house arrest without trial in February 2011, along with Mousavi’s high-profile wife, 66-year-old Zahra Rahnavard.
Hossein Karroubi said the security council had also agreed to lift restrictions on reformist figurehead Mohammad Khatami, who was Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005.
The media had been banned from showing Khatami’s face and strict limits were placed on his movements.
President Hassan Rowhani repeatedly vowed to seek the release of Mousavi and Karroubi -- a major plank of his election in 2013 and re-election last year, with their names frequently chanted at his rallies.
But despite Rowhani chairing the Supreme National Security Council, which is made up of government and military figures appointed by the president and supreme leader, there had been no sign of progress on their release.
Tehran supplying Taliban with Iranian-made weapons, says Afghan MP
The Afghan Taliban have been accused of using Iranian weapons in the war against the authorities in Afghanistan, preventing the establishment of security and peace in the country, which has been through many wars in the last four decades.
This new accusation was carried by Afghani media on Saturday, quoting Member of Parliament Karameldinne Rida Zadah, a representative for Ghor province.
The lawmaker said that the Taliban movement uses Iranian weapons in its war in Ghor province located in central Afghanistan.
According to Al Arabiya news channel correspondent, who was quoting Afghani media, the MP said “a popular people's force” in Ghor province found Iranian-made weapons with a captured Taliban member.
For the last two weeks, Taliban intensified its attack against government troops in the western areas of Firozkoh, the capital city of the province.
Previous similar accusations to Iran
The Afghan police department revealed during a press conference held in mid-May of this year, that the Iranian regime supplied the Taliban movement with weapons in Farah province on the western Afghani border with the Islamic Republic.
At that time, the Afghan government declared that the battles ended in Farah province defeating the Taliban and regaining total control of the region.
The head of the Police department in Farah, Alfazel Ahmed Shirzad, said: “Iran supplys and arms Taliban in order to spread chaos in the province,” adding that Iranian-made-weapons were found in the area when the Taliban militants fled following their defeat.
Also, the Afghani Authorities had revealed previously that Afghan security forces found Iranian-made-weapons in Paktia province.
In April this year, the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, made a statement in the capital Kabul that the Iranian government, through its Revolutionary Guards Corps is providing the Taliban with logistics support.
IRGC’ members joining Taliban movement
Despite the religious differences between Taliban and Iran, the Afghan local authorities in Farah province said in late December 2016, that members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps have joined the armed insurgents of Taliban in the province.
Last year, reports said that Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, was killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan on May 21, when he was coming back from Iran.
At that time, the Pakistani foreign ministry announced that it found, at the site of the attack, a passport with an Iranian valid visa, for a Pakistani male under the name Wali Mohammed.
Houthis target populated areas in retaliation as Saudi-led forces push forward
JEDDAH: At least 30 Houthi militants were killed in an offensive carried out by the Yemeni army in an attempt to liberate the remaining parts of the Al-Bayda Governate in central Yemen that are stilled held by the militia.
A Yemeni army source said troops and members of the resistance backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s jet fighters, continued in their progress in Al-Malgim District and were on the outskirts of Al-Bayda Governate.
The spokesman added that the army continued to make progress amid major collapses in the Houthi ranks.
He said that units from the army and the resistance targeted a number of the militants’ positions in the Na’man and Al-Malagim Districts.
But Houthi militia responded by randomly bombarding populated areas.
The Yemeni army has liberated new sites in Bart, north of Al-Jawf governorate, after heavy battles in the past week during which the Houthi militias suffered significant human and material losses, Al Arabiya English reports.
Staff Officer Maj. Gen. Col. Hazm Kharssan has asserted that the army managed to liberate areas where the Houthi militias were centered from Dahra to al-Qaeif in the Bart Anan Directorate, including al-Nabeia, al-Ashash and Rah.
Col. Kharssan said that the fighting that initially broke out at dawn on Saturday was still going amid steady progress of the armed forces with a large collapse within the Houthi militias’ ranks.
On the other hand, a Yemeni military source said on Saturday that there has been continuous advances from the military reinforcements on the Western coast, on land and sea, to the fighting locations in the southern coastline of Hodeidah.
The source confirmed the resumption of the operations focused on liberating Hodeidah and its ports from the Houthi militias.
29 July 2018
An Israeli Arab lawmaker resigned on Saturday and branded the parliament “racist” after it passed a controversial new law which declares Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.
The new legislation speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and says they have a “unique” right to self-determination there. It also revokes the longstanding status of Arabic as an official language alongside Hebrew.
Zouheir Bahloul, of the opposition Zionist Union party, said he could not face telling his grandson that he remained part of the same chamber which passed the law.
“I am resigning from the Knesset,” he said on Reshet TV, in reference to Israel’s parliament.
“The nation state law officially, constitutionally, removes the Arab population from the path of equality in Israel,” he said in Hebrew.
“Should I sit on the fence? Should I give legitimacy to this destructive, racist, extremist parliament?”
Bahloul said that his resignation would officially take effect when parliament returns from its summer recess in September, but he pledged not to reconsider in the meantime.
“I faithfully promise that I shall not go back,” he said.
After the law was approved earlier this month Arab members of parliament branded the legislation “racist” and ripped up copies of the bill in the Knesset chamber.
Arab citizens make up some 17.5 percent of Israel’s more than eight million population.
The law makes no mention of equality and Israel’s democratic character, implying the country’s Jewish identity takes precedence.
Israeli media announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed his cabinet that he will be putting forward a political initiative on Gaza, the coastal enclave under the control of Hamas.
According to sources, this political initiative is in an advanced stage of negotiations with the UN, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the militant group Hamas.
Local media also revealed that this initiative is based on the “rehabilitation of Gaza”, its return under the Palestinian Authority's rule and achieving a full ceasefire.
Since last March, at least 140 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli armed forces in weekly border demonstrations as part of “The Great March of Return” which culminated on May 15 to mark what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, a reference to the forced removal of their homes and land in 1948 when the Hebrew state was established that year.
Israel says that Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, is using the protests as a cover for cross-border attacks. Hamas denies this.
Palestinian militants have in recent weeks fired hundreds of rockets into Israel from Gaza and have opened fire at Israeli troops across the border, killing one soldier and drawing fatal Israeli air and tank strikes.
Palestinians want to establish a state in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that Israel took control of in the 1967 Middle East war.
A senior Yemeni military source revealed on Saturday that military reinforcements continued to flow into the battlefronts through land and sea at the southern coast of the port city of Hodeidah.
The source confirmed the resumption of military operations to liberate Hodeidah and its port from the Houthi militias’ control.
The military source attributed the resumption of fighting between the coalition and the Houthis to the militias’ refusal to withdraw from Hodeidah and for escalating its attacks against international navigation in the Red Sea.
UN special envoy Martin Griffiths, meanwhile, is set to announce on Thursday the launch of settlement talks in Yemen, revealed western sources to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi expressed concern on over the UN Security Council’s inaction in Yemen, which he said helped Iran arm the Houthi militias.
Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Mouallimi expressed concern on Friday, over the UN Security Council’s inaction in Yemen, which he said helped Iran arm the Houthi militias.
Mouallimi condemned the Houthis’ ongoing attacks against international navigation trade routes, the latest of which was the targeting of two Saudi oil tankers in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea, according to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
He said that it was unfortunate that the Security Council was not confronting the blatant violations of its resolutions.
The Houthi attack on Wednesday prompted Saudi Arabia to temporarily suspend oil shipments through Bab al-Mandeb.
The European Union on Friday expressed its understanding of the Saudi decision, saying it is closely monitoring the development of events in the wake of the Houthi attack.
The French foreign ministry condemned that assault, underlining the importance of ensuring safety of marine navigation and security in the region.
In separate letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the president of the Security Council in July, Mouallimi said that the kingdom strongly condemns the Houthi militias for their ongoing Iran-backed terrorist attacks against international navigation trade routes.
“Saudi Arabia notes with regret the Security Council’s inaction …. which has allowed Iran to arm the terrorist Houthi militias with several ballistic missiles, drones and sea mines,” he continued.
“The Houthis have used and will continue to use these weapons, which they acquired through illegal means, to threaten Saudi borders, Middle Eastern stability and the safety of international navigation in the Red Sea and Mandeb Strait.”
Moreover, he voiced Saudi Arabia’s demand that all relevant Security Council resolutions be implemented to prevent the Houthis from using Yemen’s western Hodeidah port as a launchpad for their numerous terrorist attacks.
Such attacks are undermining the efforts of UN special envoy Martin Griffiths to reach a political solution in Yemen, Mouallimi warned.
He demanded that the Security Council take urgent measures to address the stockpile Houthi arms to “avert an escalation in their attacks that are stoking regional tensions and raising the risk of a broader regional confrontation.”
Jul 29, 2018
An international flotilla, meant to draw the world's attention to the suffering of Palestinians under an inhumane Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, is nearing the coastal enclave's waters.
Pierre Stambul, co-president of the French Jewish Union for Peace, told AFP that one of the three vessels in the "Freedom Flotilla," called al-Awda in Arabic (the return), may arrive off Gaza shores as early as Sunday.
About 40 activists from 15 countries are on board the vessels, which left the Italian city of Palermo on July 21.
The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007 and has witnessed three wars. The Israeli regime also carries out regular air raids on the coastal enclave under the pretext of hitting positions belonging to the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.
Egypt closely cooperates with Israel in maintaining the siege by keeping Rafah, Gaza’s only land terminal that bypasses Israel, closed most of the time.
Zaher Birawi, head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, confirmed that the flotilla had crossed into Egyptian waters and was expected to reach Gaza’s territorial waters on Sunday.
Press TV's correspondent Richard Sudan, who is on board the flotilla, said in a video posted online that one of the vessels had dropped out with an unspecified "problem" and that two boats were now making their way toward Gaza.
European activists and a Jordanian lawmaker are on board al-Awda, which is also carrying medical aid for Gaza residents, he added.
However, the Israeli navy is expected to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza shores as was the case with previous attempts by pro-Palestine activists.
The activists stressed that they will resist Israel's expected takeover of the boats in non-violent ways, reports said.
Back in May 2010, an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, called Mavi Marmara, killed 10 Turkish activists in high seas and sent Ankara-Tel Aviv ties into a tailspin.
The two sides normalized relations in June 2016, but their ties sank to a fresh low in May 2018 after the expelling of envoys amid growing tensions over the killing of dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Israeli forces.
Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.
A Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament has resigned over the recent adoption of a controversial law that claims Jewish supremacy over Arabs.
Zouheir Bahloul, of the opposition Zionist Union party on Saturday announced his resignation, noting that he would no longer be able to face his family if he remained.
"I am resigning from the Knesset," he said during a televised interview.
"The nation state law officially, constitutionally, removes the Arab population from the path of equality in Israel..."Should I sit on the fence? Should I give legitimacy to this destructive, racist, extremist parliament?," he further noted.
He added that his resignation would be effective when parliament returns from its summer recess in September, but he vowed not to reconsider his move until then.
"I faithfully promise that I shall not go back," he said.
Earlier in the month, Israel’s parliament (Knesset) adopted a controversial bill that declares the occupying entity “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” in what is widely criticized as an apartheid measure that could lead to discrimination against its own Arab population.
Besides officially designating Israel as a “state” exclusively for the Jews, the law defines occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel, downgrades the status of the Arabic language and encourages the promotion of the regime’s settlements — which have been built on occupied land and thus viewed as unlawful by the world community.
All Palestinian groups in the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip -- along with the UN and the EU -- have blasted the racist law, which has sparked mass protests in the Israeli-occupied territories.
Last week, A senior Iranian diplomat said Israel’s adoption of a law that defines the occupied territories as an exclusively “Jewish state” is further proof of the regime’s apartheid nature, urging international pressure on Tel Aviv to cancel the law.
Mass funeral held for killed Palestinian teenager
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in the besieged Gaza Strip to bury an 11-year-old boy shot in the head by Israeli snipers.
Majdi al-Satari was shot by Israeli forces in east Rafah on Friday during weekly anti-Israel protests.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the child died from a bullet in the head. He was one of three Palestinians killed.
"There were two gunshots from a sniper. One hit one of those cutting the wire in the leg and the other gunshot hit the boy in his head," said a witness.
"He is a child. He had no bullets or weapons," said the deceased's grandmother, "He was standing like all children watching. They shot him from afar. Isn't he a child? Why are they targeting children?," she added.
Earlier in the day, another Palestinian teenager died less than a day after being shot by Israeli military forces during clashes between a group of Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the besieged Gaza Strip.
His death brings to 155 the number of Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30.
As Europe's prisons fill with ISIS fighters, officials work to defuse future 'human bombs'
A few months before his killing rampage, convicted robber and prison inmate Benjamin Herman had a jailhouse conversion of a sort. A white suburban teen and a nominal Catholic when he was first incarcerated, he emerged in late May as an avowed Islamist who would murder three people within hours of gaining freedom on a work-release program.
Herman fatally stabbed two female police officers during his hour-long attack in the Belgian city of Liege, and then used one of their pistols to kill a passing motorist. Shouting "Allahu akbar," he seized a hostage and wounded two more officers before being shot dead in a gun battle with police.
Afterward, as the facts about the killings came to light, one biographical detail stood out: Herman, a product of Belgium's French-speaking middle class, had come under the sway of a group of radical Islamist inmates in prison.
In a country that has acted aggressively to put extremists behind bars as a means of preventing terrorism, the attack stoked fears that Belgium's policy could be having the opposite effect, creating hotbeds of radicalism and sprouting new generations of would-be terrorists.
"Never have so many people been arrested on charges related to terrorism, and never have we seen so many of these guys in prison together," said Thomas Renard, a Belgian terrorism expert and researcher at the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels. "In bringing them together, we are facilitating their ability to recruit. And that is something that will stay with us for a long time."
Across Europe, prisons are the latest battleground in the evolving fight against Islamist-inspired terrorism. Beginning five years ago, Western countries saw thousands of their citizens migrate to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State or other Islamist groups. Since 2016, hundreds have returned, but the mood at home has changed. Traumatized by terrorist attacks and a swelling refugee crisis, European countries since 2016 have taken a hard line on returnees, enacting tough laws that require criminal charges and incarceration for anyone who traveled to the Middle East or sought to support Islamists groups abroad. Until 2016, many returnees were simply allowed to go home if there was no proof they had been fighters or involved in terrorist acts.
Europe has seen fewer deaths from terrorist attacks since the policies went into effect. But now European officials are grappling with a new problem: how to prevent prisons from becoming training and recruitment centers for future terrorists. From Belgium and the Netherlands to Germany and France, law enforcement officials are experimenting with markedly different approaches to the problem, including reeducation programs and the near-total isolation of the most radicalized inmates. The efforts are a race against time, as many of the jailed returnees will regain their freedom in less than two years.
"They come to the end of their sentence, and we have no choice but to release them," said a Belgian official who helps supervise the treatment of Islamist inmates in that country's largest prisons. The official, like several others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern that former inmates might target them.
"Some of them," the official said, "could be human bombs."
Ittre Prison, a walled, high-security complex southwest of Brussels, is one of Belgium's most notorious, one-time home to convicted child molester and murderer Marc Dutroux and a host of organized crime figures. In 2007, it was the site of a spectacular escape by Nordin Benallal, Belgium's "jailbreak king," who used a helicopter crash on the prison's grounds as a diversion that allowed him to escape.
Today, Ittre is known as one of two Belgian prisons with special isolation units for dealing with the most radical of the country's jailed Islamists. Called DeRadex, the unit is home to men regarded by Belgian officials as particularly dangerous. As of last month, Ittre's DeRadex section held 13.
The inmates in the section are allowed to socialize with others within the isolation unit only during certain hours and under close supervision. Isolation is, in fact, the essential ingredient in Belgium's new approach for dealing with radicalized prisoners: Although they may not be able to separate inmates from their extremist ideas, prison officials can at least prevent them from contaminating others.
Not all of DeRadex's inhabitants have been convicted on terrorism charges or even have a history of violence. But they are known and feared for their charismatic personalities and ability to draw others to the radical Islamist cause.
"Every time we put them with the rest of the detainees, they engage in recruitment activities," said Valérie Lebrun, a 49-year-old Belgian criminologist who is the head of Ittre. "They become the imam. They push others to pray and change behavior."
During a recent tour of the facility, the DeRadex prisoners sat in solitary cells or carried blue yoga mats to the exercise yard as makeshift prayer rugs. Some wore their prison pants cuffed above the ankle, in the jihadist style. In several cells, inmates had scratched Islamist graffiti onto walls and cell windows, including the name "Bel Kacem," a reference to Fouad Belkacem, founder of the extremist organization Sharia4Belgium. Belkacem is serving a 12-year sentence in another Belgium prison. Many of his recruits traveled to Syria and joined the Islamic State.
The inmates are allowed to go to the gym and exercise yard, and they practice their religion as they choose. But most of their time is spent in small cells equipped with a wooden bunk, toilet and sink. The cells include wall brackets for mounting a television, if the inmates want one and can afford to pay a monthly fee.
Ittre officials offer counseling on nonviolence, but they make no effort to change the prisoners' extremist views about religion. While controversial within criminal justice circles, the lack of emphasis on "deradicalization," as the tactic is called, reflects a deliberate choice, explained Valérie Lebrun, a 49-year-old Belgian criminologist who is the head of Ittre.
Within the regular prison populations, officials watch for changes in behavior that suggest radicalization is underway, such as when inmates modify their prison uniforms in jihadist style, or insist on wearing underwear when taking a shower, a reflection of conservative Islamist views about covering the body. In such cases, officials encourage inmates to meet with moderate imams and counselors who work with the prisons on a voluntary basis.
But nonviolence, not deradicalization, remains the primary goal, Lebrun said. The reality is, prisons are ill-equipped to offer religious instruction, she said, and when they try, the efforts don't often work.
"It's extremely difficult to change someone's ideas," she said. "However, trying to convince them not to resort to weapons in order to defend their ideas is much more attainable."
Some in Belgium argue that the prison officials simply aren't trying hard enough.
"The prisons are trying to quarantine the virus, but they don't really address the problem," said Ilyas Zarhoni, a Brussels imam who runs community programs that seek to counter extremist ideology. "We need experts in ideology, experts in psychology. The costs will be high, but it's nothing compared to what we could be dealing with when these people get out."
Already, Zarhoni said, juvenile detainees who spent time in Iraq or Syria are being released to schools and neighborhoods while still loyal to the radical Islamist cause. Among their peers, they are more likely to be viewed with admiration than with reproach.
"They're seen as heroes," Zarhoni said. "They've used weapons - how cool is that?"
A few hours' drive to the southeast, prison officials in the central German state of Hesse are trying a different approach, a kind of experiment in behavior modification that is playing out in real time.
At the JVA Frankfurt prison, there are no isolation units where extremist inmates are kept together. Instead, all prisoners share the same space, under a regimen of unusually close surveillance and intervention by a cadre of guards newly trained in spotting signs of radicalization. German officials, blessed with bigger budgets and larger professional staffs compared with their smaller neighbors, are seeking to neutralize the radicalization threat one inmate at a time, with intense - and occasionally aggressive - management of each individual case.
Visitors to the prison in June observed as a manager demonstrated how guards are taught to look for warning signs in inmates' appearance, behavior and personal belongings.
Poking through one prisoner's duffel bag, the officer set aside a strand of prayer beads and a mat - both regarded as acceptable items for a practicing Muslim - but then paused to examine a copy of the Quran.
"Here we have a Quran, which is normally not an issue at all," said the official, who requested anonymity as a condition of the interview. "However, this is a Lies Stiftung edition, which has been banned and we can therefore not allow it." Lies Stiftung qurans contain commentary associated with Salafism, a conservative form of Sunni Islam.
As the visitors watched, the problematic Quran was removed and replaced with a plain one.
A CD was also confiscated, because, as the official explained, it contained sermons by a cleric regarded by the prison staff as radical.
A green Saudi flag in the prisoner's belongings was seen as a problem. Prison officials worry that nationalist symbols could trigger conflicts. Because of its religious symbolism, a Saudi flag in the possession of a non-Saudi also could suggest ties to the Salafist movement. Followers of the Islamic State adhere to an extreme variation of Salafism.
"This suggests that the prisoner may have been radicalized," the officer said. "We have to observe him carefully - his contacts, what he reads - and try and get as much information on him as possible."
The Hessian program, called Network for Deradicalization in the Penal System, or NeDiS, seeks to change inmates' thinking. Those who are labeled as radical - whether they are Islamists or members of right-wing extremist groups - find themselves under intensive scrutiny. They are offered different kinds of counseling or therapy, including meetings with an imam or chaplain while in prison, and outreach programs after their release.
"Every radical Islamist convict will be released from the correctional facilities some day," Eva Kühne-Hörmann, the Hessian minister of justice, said in an interview. "If we do not use the terms of imprisonment to influence this group of persons by taking the corresponding actions for deradicalization, we run the risk of releasing radical Islamists, who are devoid of any personal perspective, into German society."
Inmates can still choose to either accept or reject the moderate messages they are given, and some Islamist inmates no doubt will leave prison with the same views, or perhaps with even more extreme ones, officials acknowledged.
Among inmates, there is grumbling about the newly intense scrutiny and skepticism about its effectiveness. One Hesse inmate, an avowed admirer of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, said he was harassed by prison officials after leading a prayer group inside the prison. The inmate, who identified himself by his nom de guerre Abu Shaheed, was convicted of robbery in 2014, a crime he acknowledges was part of a foiled attempt to obtain money for a move to Syria to join the Islamic State. The inmate was interviewed with permission of prison authorities.
"My mistake was not asking the officer beforehand," he said about the prayer group. "Then an officer arrived and said I should stop. I was almost done, and others said to him that he should wait. But he'd already pressed the alarm buzzer. Beep, beep, beep."
Several officers then scuffled with him in a corridor, injuring his shoulder, he said.
Abu Shaheed said he opposes violence and thinks his decision to join the Islamic State was a mistake. But he clings to the same ideology, now infused with anger about what happened to him after the prayer meeting.
"They put me in the special lockup, the entire night and the next day," he said. "For what? Because I wanted to pray?"
Will either of the approaches make a difference? Across Europe, criminal justice officials acknowledge that they are seeking to engineer solutions to a problem for which there is scant scientific data, and no guarantees of success. What is known is that previous approaches failed, disastrously. And the scale of the problem in recent years has only gotten worse.
Since the founding of the Islamic State in 2014, several of Europe's biggest terrorist attacks were led by former prison inmates, some of whom became radicalized while behind bars. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the leader of the deadly attacks on Paris in November 2015, grew up in an immigrant neighborhood in central Brussels and was jailed multiple times for assault, burglary and receiving stolen goods. In prison, the onetime street hustler and partyer became an acolyte of an older inmate, an Islamist who the prisoners dubbed "Papa Noel" because of his bushy gray beard. Abaaoud adopted the older man's religious dogma and, after his release from prison, left for Syria to join the terrorists.
Months later, some of Abaaoud's Belgian friends and former prison mates would participate in the March 2016 attack on the Brussels airport, the act that awakened Belgians to the scale of the country's Islamist problem. It was that event that prompted Belgium to join Germany and other European countries in adopting stricter laws that made it a crime to travel to Islamic State territory or offer support to Islamist militant groups.
Since then, returnees from Iraq and Syria have been systematically arrested and put behind bars. Thus, while the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate no longer exists, the number of arrests related to "jihadist terrorism" continues to climb, from 395 in 2014, to 705 last year, according to statics released in June by Europol.
But many who are now in prison will be soon be free. According to last month's Europol report, the average prison sentence in Belgium for inmates convicted of supporting terrorist groups is five years.
"We had a problem: Young people were going to the caliphate. And now we have a different problem: They are coming back," said Brahim Laytouss, an Antwerp, Belgium, imam and director of the Islamic Development and Research Academy, a nonprofit group that seeks to reeducate radicalized inmates. "There are hundreds in our prisons here in Belgium, and probably 150 that could be considered dangerous. And my organization only has the resources to deal with 10 at a time."
HHS official who made anti-Muslim comments and spread conspiracy theories resigns
Ximena Barreto, a far-right political pundit who was appointed in December to a communications post at the Department of Health and Human Services, resigned on Friday, an HHS official confirmed to CNN.
Barreto was placed on leave in April following reports from CNN and Media Matters that she spread conspiracies and made anti-Muslim comments. After issuing a public apology, she returned to work but was moved from her job as a deputy director of communications.
Barreto's resignation was first reported by Politico.
Last month, Mediaite reported additional inflammatory tweets from Barreto including that she tweeted in June, after her public apology, that CNN's story on her tweets was "a smear."
Liberal watchdog Media Matters has reported that Barreto called Islam "a cult" and pushed the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which alleged that Hillary Clinton was part of a child-sex ring based in part at a Washington, DC, pizza restaurant.
A subsequent KFile review of her Twitter account "RepublicanChick" found that Barreto also repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam and twice shared conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Barreto also shared a conspiracy theory that French President Emmanuel Macron was controlled by the Rothschild family and that Clinton and former President Barack Obama were controlled by investor and Democratic mega-donor George Soros. Both the Rothschilds and Soros are frequent targets of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Before joining HHS Barreto did work for Donald Trump's campaign in California during the 2016 election.
These were the minutes of the first ever formal meeting of Muslims in the history of the Republic of Ireland.1 33 students, mainly from South Africa, formally gathered for what would be the beginning of the Irish Muslim community.1 Students from South Africa came to Ireland from as far back as the early 1950s due to the horrendous apartheid government which systematically crippled any window of opportunity for people of colour to study or work in any top tier profession, to mainly study medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (RCSI).1 The South Africans predominantly lived in a Protestant hostel called Koinonia House where initial congregations were organised to observe some of the five daily prayers within the main sitting room of the accommodation and then subsequently in the basement when the numbers of participants grew larger, which eventually led to the inauguration of the Dublin Islamic Society (DIS) in 1959.2 Amongst those who participated and partook in this blessed gathering was Dr. Yusuf Viazie. Born in Durban, South Africa, he was a renowned personality across the Irish Muslim community for his continuous meritorious commitments across a myriad of different projects.
During Dr. Viazie’s student days, the RCSI previously forbade any performance of religious activities until the DIS with the help of the RCSI Registrar at the time Dr. Harry O’Flanaghan obtained permission for preforming Eid prayers in the College hall.2 With the passage of time Jummʿah (Friday congregational prayers) and Eid prayers were observed in a Ballet school (now the RCSI Pharmacy York House).2 The first Eid dinner for the community was held in place formerly called Molesworth hall and the first recorded Tarawīḥ (special night prayers during Ramaḍān) were held in the British Council Meeting on Leeson Street.2 In 1963, the DIS established a collaboration with FOSIS UK which later came to be known as FOSIS Ireland (although FOSIS Ireland was established as an organisational entity in the 21st century).12
Dr. Viazie was an active member of the DIS as a volunteer and an executive member taking on the role as chairman in 1968. He helped organise communal events and would actively remind Muslim students towards acts of goodness such as attending Jummʿah prayers. To do so he would sometimes even go to the local dance hall to remind the Muslims who used to indulge in vice at the cost of 1 shilling! He collaborated alongside Muslim students from diverse nationalities to establish the first mosque in Ireland by working on necessary documentation and raising some initial funding.1 In 1976, the dream became a reality when successive members of the DIS under the leadership of Br. Ahmed Goolam Mohamed Adam opened the Mosque in No. 7 Harrington Street.1
Dr. Viazie possessed stalwart characteristics such passion, determination and a no-nonsense attitude to anything other than perfection in refined manners. He would often mitigate any improper usage of formal language especially in dialogue, as he was from a generation raised with concepts such as chivalry, courtesy and decorum. The existence of these noble qualities is in peril in a decadent generation preoccupied with the self and its immediate gratification.
Years after graduating as a dentist from RCSI, Dr. Viazie collaborated with Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf and Dr. Rashid Ibrahim to found the first ever Qur’ān school in Harrington Street, which subsequently moved to IFI Dublin mosque after the establishment of the latter.1 He further established a Qur’ān school in Naas. Although he was neither a speaker of the Arabic language nor had received any formal education in Islamic studies, he strove to enrich the lives of others by whatever portion of knowledge he possessed.
The imperativeness of inaugurating these indispensable Qur’ān schools was to allow future generations of Muslim youth to spiritually connect to Divine revelation, to learn the basic axioms of Islamic practices, to harness ethical values and instill virtuous principles as per mainstream Islamic ethos. There are numerous reports of the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) emphasizing the stature of the Qur’ān such as:
‘The similitude of a believer who recites the Qur’ān is that of a citron which tastes succulent and has an aesthetic smell. The similitude of the believer who does not recite the Qur’ān is like a date which tastes succulent but has no aroma. The similitude of a hypocrite who recites the Quran is that of basil which smells pleasant but has a bitter taste. The similitude of a hypocrite who does not recite the Qur’ān is that of a colocynth (desert gourd) which tastes bitter and has no odour.’3
‘The Best of you are those who learn the Qur’ān and teach it to others’.3
‘Certainty Allāh The Exalted elevates nations with this book (The Qur’ān) and diminishes others with it.’3
The great scholar Al-Hafidh Ibnu Hajr comments on the brilliant rhetoric employed by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in his speech in juxtaposing and comparing four different types of fruit with four types of people in respect to their relationship with the Quran.4 Most fascinating the citron which has distinctive features which are metaphorically comparable to a believing Muslim who observes their faith in sincerity and God consciousness.4 A citron has white coated seeds and the heart of a believer who sincerely worships Allah is pure.4 A citron has numerous traits such a delicious taste, softness in texture and other pleasant organoleptic properties just as a believer tries to sincerely adopt exemplary traits in all aspects of life4 such as compassion, mercy, confidence, honor, generosity clemency truthfulness, love, responsibility, justice et al.
The great polymath & reformer Imam Al-Ghazzali describes 10 actions that are pivotal in order for one to truly internalize and conceptualize the true message of the Quran.5 He postulates that understanding the significance of this lofty speech, magnifying The One (i.e. Allah The Sublime) whose speech it is, keeping one’s heart vigilant during recitation, contemplating solely on the recitation, grasping all the various concepts of what’s being recited, contextualizing and individualizing what’s being recited to the self, being conscious of different emotions experienced in different contexts, progressive self-development as if the reciter is hearing the speech from Allah The All-High directly and finally disavowal of one’s self from self-praise and vainglorious.5
The impact of such endeavor on both an intellectual and spiritual basis was the reason for the early success of the golden generations of Muslims. The 20th century Islamic thinker Sayyid Qutb remarks:
‘…The messenger of Allah (Upon whom be peace) intended to prepare a generation pure in heart, pure in mind and pure in understanding…This generation (The companions of the Prophet) drank solely from this spring and thus attained a unique distinction in history.’6
The famous traveler and thinker Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss) articulated:
‘What I saw in the pages of the Koran was not a ‘crudely materialistic’ world view but, on contrary, an intense God-consciousness that expressed itself in a rational acceptance of all God-created nature: a harmonious side-by-side of intellect and sensual urge, spiritual need and social demand. It was obvious to me that the decline of Muslims was not due to any shortcomings in Islam but rather to their own failure to live up to it. For, indeed, it was Islam that had carried the early Muslims to tremendous cultural heights by directing all their energies toward conscious thought as the only means to understanding the nature of God’s creation and, thus of His will.’7
In light of this, the great Chaliph Umar ibnul Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) facilitated opportunities for easy accessibility for all citiznes in the Islamic empire in studying the Quran by instructing teachers to educate the masses in Quranic recitation, comprehension of its meanings and embodying the divine instructions.8 The renowned British Orientalist Sir Thomas Walker Arnold (University of London, UK) argued:
‘Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically…The Quran has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting-point, and the dogma of the unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam.’8
Dr. Viazie was involved in teaching the Qur’ān within the community since the 1970’s up until recently when his illness due to old age prevented him from continuing further. He persisted in working for the Irish Muslim community ever since that blessed Friday night gathering almost 60 years ago up until his final breath on the 4th July 2018.
His story reminds us all of the early cohort of companions (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhum) such as Khadījah, Zaid, ʿAlī and Abu-Bakr, to name a few, who believed in and supported the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) during his early days in Makkah. His story resembles those of great leaders, thinkers and callers of this faith who left their comfort zones in order to serve, teach and preserve the Islamic tradition. The profound historian and ḥadīth expert Imām Ad-Dhahabi states in his historical magnum opus that the Spanish polymath Ibnu Rushd (also known as Averroes) engrossed his entire lifetime in seeking knowledge except for two nights: his wedding night and the night his father passed away. According to Professor David Levering Lewis in his book God’s Crucible-Islam and the making of Europe, 570-1215, it was scholars like Ibnu Rushd who sowed the seeds for the intellectual enlightenment of Europe which resulted in the Renaissance. Sayyid Abdul Aziz was a Yemeni merchant who, through his meritorious character and conduct, inspired the King and founder of Melaka (Malaysia) Parameswara to embrace Islām and subsequently the rest of the population.10
These legends and many more have carved their legacies in the golden pages of history by their continuous endeavors, refined focus, steadfastness and sincerity. The initial meeting in Koinonia house in 1959 paved the way for a myriad of different community facilities and initiatives such as mosques, Islamic cultural centers, Muslim Student Associations, youth projects, charity organisations and community volunteering. As the pioneers in their community, they will, inshāAllāh, share the reward in all the good that comes after them. Just as the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
‘The one who directs towards goodness will receive a similar reward as the doer of the (righteous) action’.11
The question now arises for the remainder of us within the Muslim community of our roles and responsibilities towards our fellow Muslim brethren and citizens. Will we walk in the footsteps of the titans before us in order to reap the benefits in the hereafter or remain as bystanders? With a plethora of predicaments that stand before us whether it be social, fiscal, political or international; whether it be the challenge of raising our children and youth to the best of their potential; mitigating the rise of homelessness; addressing the depreciation in mental health; attending to the elderly; standing up to the rise of extremism from all spectrums of political thought and countering the constant vilification of Islām and Muslims. It is upon us to reevaluate our current situation and work selflessly in serving and contributing to the wider community.
A row over UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his party’s definition of anti-Semitism only serves those supporting Israel as they insist the party should ban any criticism of the regime and its actions, says a political analyst.
Chris Bambery, a UK-based journalist and author, told Press TV on Saturday that pro-Israeli advocates were desperate to force Corbyn and Labour to accept a special international anti-Semitism code or face their political pressure.
“It stems from an attempt to portray Jeremy Corbyn and the opposition Labour party as ant-Semitic despite Corbyn’s own records of opposition to all forms of racism including anti-Semitism,” said Bambery.
The expert said “the Labour has not agreed to and is not in the process of agreeing to” demands for adopting a definition of anti-Semitism which includes the fact that it is anti-Semitic to criticize Israel.
He said Corbyn and Labour resist the pressure because if they adopt the definition, it would violate the rights of many Jewish people who are critical of Israel and its actions like those who support a campaign to boycott Israeli products produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Those behind the campaign are pressuring the Labour to accept their demands or they will label Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party as anti-Semitic,” said Bambery.
He said the pressure against Corbyn comes as he has repeatedly reiterated that he has a record in fighting anti-Semitism and his family fought against the fascists in the 1930s to defend the Jewish community.
“Any attempt to portray him as anti-Semitic is ridiculous,” said the expert.
On Thursday, three Jewish newspapers in Britain with strong connections to Israel launched an unprecedented and coordinated attack on Corbyn, claiming a government led by him would pose an “existential threat” to Jewish life in the UK.
The Jewish News, The Jewish Chronicle and The Jewish Telegraph produced similar front pages attacking the Labour Party’s decision not to fully adopt a controversial working definition of anti-Semitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which claims describing “Israel is a racist endeavor” as an example of anti-Semitism.
The three publications also attacked the Labour Party’s alleged “terrible record” on anti-Semitism since Corbyn became leader in 2015. They claimed that the party under Corbyn entertains “contempt for Jews and Israel” and that the Labour Party is now confronted by the very real possibility of being seen as “institutionally racist.”
They then justified the joint editorial attack on Corbyn “because of the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.”
British authorities have revealed that a man who had called for the assassination of Prince George has been stabbed in prison, without any information available on who stabbed him and what the motives were.
The Daily Star said Saturday that Husnain Rashid, who had been jailed earlier this month for offering advices to supporters on how to kill the young member of the British royal family, was found in his cell in Manchester’s Strangeways jail while having his face slashed with a makeshift knife.
Rashid’s body was discovered in the early hours of Wednesday with a huge gash from his right ear while blood was everywhere around the cell.
He was stabbed with a toothbrush that had a blade attached to it, authorities said, without elaborating how the attack happened and who was behind it.
A source in the prison claimed Rashid was disliked by other inmates, saying that everyone wanted to kill him due to his threats on the five-year-old Prince George.
“We don’t tolerate that kind of thing in Strangeways,” said the source, adding, “Nobody likes him or what he did, like threatening that young royal lad...”
Prison authorities said they had launched an investigation, without offering other details.
Authorities had earlier linked Rashid, 32, to the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group. However, there was no clear evidence suggesting the man was a terrorist other than his phone calls with a friend in Syria, which has yet to be verified.
The unemployed web designer from Nelson, Lancashire, was given 25 years behind bars for encouraging supporters to kill George, the oldest child of Prince William and his wife, Kate.
Rashid used Telegram, a messenger application to communicate with his supporters until he was arrested on November 22 last year. He has openly admitted to the charge.
Najib Incensed Kit Siang 'Equates' Islam with Kleptocracy
28 Jul 2018
Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is incensed with DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang for allegedly equating Islam with kleptocracy should BN win the Sungai Kandis by-election.
This is in relation to a statement issued by Lim today on Najib's campaigning in the polls.
"I don't understand Lim's obsession until he has to issue a statement every day to attack me personally even when I'm not prime minister or Umno and BN chief.
"But, his statement today about me, where he equated Islam with kleptocracy if BN wins Sungai Kandis has crossed the line.
"I can't stop his obsession towards me, but Lim should not belittle my religion and make it campaign material," Najib said in a Facebook posting.
In his statement earlier today, the DAP lawmaker said the Sungai Kandis by-election would be a crucial test of whether Najib had "succeeded in equating Islam with kleptocracy in Malaysia."
The Iskandar Puteri MP did not explain what he meant by this, but said in the 14th general election, Najib and BN had relied on a strategy of demonising DAP and Pakatan Harapan as anti-Islam.
Lim claimed BN was employing the same strategy in Sungai Kandis, and now had support from Islamist party PAS.
He said the results of GE14 showed that the people, however, rejected Najib's "toxic politics".
"They do not want, in particular, to equate Malays and Islam with kleptocracy," he said.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia strongly condemns the Israeli attack on worshippers in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque during Friday prayers after youths threw rocks and fireworks at Israeli security personnel outside the mosque, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (pix).
She also urged the international community to stand united in stopping such actions on places of worship.
"Is using tear gas and stun grenades the appropriate retaliation to rock throwing and firecrackers?
"Is action like this justified in a place of worship? Such actions should and will not be tolerated by the world community," she tweeted, today.
Media reported Israeli security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades yesterday at Muslim worshipers in Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest shrine in Islam, in pursuit of the youths who had thrown rocks and fireworks at them.
About 50 policemen subsequently raided the mosque, attacking worshipers and arresting 20 others while a total of 15 Palestinians were injured, including three mosque guards.
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