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Islamic World News (19 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Prince Habeebuddin Tucy, the Man Who Claims To Be Mughal Descendant Offers Gold Brick for Ram Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prince Habeebuddin Tucy, the Man Who Claims To Be Mughal Descendant Offers Gold Brick for Ram Temple

Custodian of Famous Sufi Shrine in India’s Ajmer Sharif, Urges Unity among Indian Muslims against Oppression

Man Waved Tricolour In Front Of Kabaa during Hajj

Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton May Skip Pakistan Visit Over Kashmir Tensions

Pakistan Approaches Facebook, Twitter over Suspension of Pro-Kashmir Accounts

Peace with Whom? After Blast, Enraged Afghans Question Talks

ISIS Releases Identity Of Kabul Wedding Hall Bomber As Abu Asim Al-Pakistani

Papuan Students on Java Face Increased Pressures from Islamist, Far-Right Groups

Would Be Unwise To Turn To Pakistan as Strategic Partner: US Expert

The UK Has An Islamophobia Problem. Muslims Want To Know What Boris Johnson Is Going To Do About It

 

India

Prince Habeebuddin Tucy, the Man Who Claims To Be Mughal Descendant Offers Gold Brick for Ram Temple

Custodian of Famous Sufi Shrine in India’s Ajmer Sharif, Urges Unity among Indian Muslims against Oppression

Man Waved Tricolour In Front Of Kabaa during Hajj

Millions of Muslims Risk Being Stripped Of Citizenship In India And Declared 'Foreign Migrants'

Nine more telephone exchanges restored in Kashmir, internet snapped in Jammu

J&K: 10-year-old injured in Pakistan firing along LoC

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Pakistan

Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton May Skip Pakistan Visit Over Kashmir Tensions

Pakistan Approaches Facebook, Twitter over Suspension of Pro-Kashmir Accounts

Islam religion of love and humanity: Buzdar

World must consider safety of nukes under Modi: Imran Khan

Pak body asks govt to allow distribution of Indian goods already reached at ports

Kashmir issue on top of today’s multiparty conference agenda

Qureshi challenges Modi to hold public referendum in occupied Kashmir

At least 3 killed in roadside IED blast in Upper Dir: police

Two soldiers martyred in N Wazirsitan IED blast

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South Asia

Peace with Whom? After Blast, Enraged Afghans Question Talks

ISIS Releases Identity Of Kabul Wedding Hall Bomber As Abu Asim Al-Pakistani

Rohingya repatriation can begin anytime: foreign secretary

Taliban’s shadow district chief, his deputy and other militants killed in Logar airstrike

Ghani lashes out at Taliban, calls for extraordinary security meeting after deadly Kabul bombing

Dozens of Taliban militants killed or wounded in latest clashes in Balkh: Shaheen Corps

100th I-Day celebrations in historic Dar-ul-Aman Palace postponed after deadly Kabul bombing

Afghanistan vows to crush ISIS havens after attack

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Southeast Asia

Papuan Students on Java Face Increased Pressures from Islamist, Far-Right Groups

Jokowi Says Growing Radicalism Threatens Pancasila

Penang mufti: Khat is not Islamic, strictly a form of calligraphic art

What Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation really wants

Head of Indian govt’s minorities body says Naik’s fears of unfair trial well grounded

Malaysia's ex-police chief urges government to rescind Muslim preacher Zakir Naik's PR status

Thai official dismisses Muslim insurgent demand on detainees

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North America

Would Be Unwise To Turn To Pakistan as Strategic Partner: US Expert

US envoy says Afghan peace process must speed up

Canada 'disappointed' by British decision on Jihadi Jack

Muslim group demands Trump pull court pick who defended Israel, 'ethnonationalism'

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Europe

The UK Has An Islamophobia Problem. Muslims Want To Know What Boris Johnson Is Going To Do About It

French Muslim Association to Forge Ahead With Imam Training Plans despite Macron Reticence

Former Al-Jazeera reporter Mohamed Fahmy warns of political Islam in France

Jihadi Jack: IS recruit Jack Letts loses UK citizenship

UN reacts to deadly wedding hall attack in Kabul which targeted a Shia wedding ceremony

UK watchdog raised concern over Qatar-linked charity

Turkish lawyers plan boycott over fears for judicial independence

Turkey considered condemnation of ISIL for terrorism in France to be criminal evidence

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Mideast

Turkish Lawyers Threaten Boycott of Erdogan’s Courts Ceremony

Jordan Reprimands Israeli Ambassador Over Temple Mount ‘Violations’

Iran says waiting for court order to release British tanker

Turkey replaces three pro-Kurdish party mayors over terror probes

Yemen’s Houthi militia says appointing ‘ambassador’ in Tehran

FM Zarif in Finland at first leg of Scandinavian tour

UN experts find British-made bomb parts at site of Saudi strike in Yemen

Leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement warns Saudi Arabia

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Africa

Sudan's Civilian Opposition Puts Forward Five Sovereign Council Nominees

Al-Shabaab releases new videos documenting terror attacks

Cameroon provides support to vigilante groups to fight against Boko Haram

Nigeria: Boko Haram - 35,000 Killed So Far in Nigeria - UN

Death toll from Tanzania fuel lorry blast rises to 95

2 al-Shabaab militants killed, 4 injured in southern Somalia

Chad declares emergency after dozens die in ethnic violence

Libyan navy rescues more than 300 migrants

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Arab World

Saudi Hajj Ministry Investigating How Gift To Pilgrims Was Wrongly Labelled ‘Anthrax’

Syrian forces battle rebels for key town, highway

Syrian Army Takes Full Control of Key Regions around Khan Sheikhoun

Saudi Crown Prince phones Sudan’s leadership after interim deal reached

Syrian troops close to western outskirts of opposition-held town

Amnesty calls on Bahraini regime to allow ailing ex-MP to travel

Syrian troops enter strategic town in Idlib after 5 years

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/prince-habeebuddin-tucy,-the-man-who-claims-to-be-mughal-descendant-offers-gold-brick-for-ram-temple/d/119505

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Prince Habeebuddin Tucy, the Man Who Claims To Be Mughal Descendant Offers Gold Brick for Ram Temple

August 19, 2019

Prince Habeebuddin Tucy, who claims to be a descendant of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, has offered to donate a gold brick for a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

He, however, wants the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi land to be handed over to him, insisting he is its rightful owner as a descendant of the first Mughal emperor, Babar, who was the ruler when the Babri Masjid was built in 1529.

Tucy said on Sunday that if the Supreme Court handed over the land to him, he would donate it for the construction of the Ram temple as he respected the sentiment of those who believed that a Ram temple stood at the place where Babri Masjid was built.

The mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992 by hundreds of 'kar sevaks' or activists.

The 50-year-old Tucy has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to include him in the title suit being heard by the top court. His petition is yet to be admitted for hearing.

Tucy argues that none of the parties to the case had documents to prove their claim but he did, as a descendant of Mughals. He said he had already decided to give the entire land for construction of the temple.

Tucy, who visited Ayodhya thrice and offered prayers at the makeshift temple, had pledged the land for the temple during his visit last year.

He also apologized to Hindus for the destruction of the Ram temple. He offered a symbolic apology by placing a 'charan-paduka' on his head.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/prince-habeebuddin-tucy-who-claims-to-be-mughal-descendant-offers-gold-brick-for-ram-temple-2086978

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Custodian of Famous Sufi Shrine in India’s Ajmer Sharif, Urges Unity among Indian Muslims against Oppression

August 19, 2019

AJMER SHARIF: Syed Sarwar Chishti, the custodian of famous Sufi shrine in India’s Ajmer Sharif has urged unity among Indian Muslims against atrocities being committed against them by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Enough is enough… wake up Muslims, what has happened to you? Our greatest strength is our faith and our religion Islam,” he said in a video message to the community. Chishti also urged Muslims to put aside their sectarian differences and stand united against tyranny. “Muslims are victims of injustice in India… we are heading towards another Karbala,” he remarked.

Muslim are being massacred for eating beef, said the Sufi cleric. “What kind of India this is? What is happening with Muslims in this country? What kind of Independence Day this is for us Muslims?”

The Ajmer Sharif’s Gaddinashin said all six convicts in Pehlu Khan lynching case have been acquitted despite clear evidence in video that went viral on social media two years back. “So who killed him then?” he said while raising questions on India’s judicial system.

His [Pehlu Khan’s] dying statement had not been signed by medical officer and magistrate as eminent lawyer Mr Tulsi said on a private TV channel,” said Chishti, adding that the victim’s two sons are still in custody on cattle smuggling accusations.

On Wednesday, an Indian court acquitted six men of the killing of Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old Muslim dairy farmer, citing lack of evidence, raising questions over the prosecution’s failure to make its case despite videos of a crowd beating him in the street.

Videos shot on mobile phones in 2017 showed Khan begging for mercy as the crowd set upon him after stopping his truck with cows in the back. He died but his sons survived.

The descendant of famous Sufi saint Khawaja Moeenuddin Chishti, in his video message, also condemned absurd remarks made by the ruling BJP leaders regarding Kashmiri women. Chishti said he respects all religions including Hinduism and does not need to be preached secularism.

Sunita Singh Gaur, a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party’s women wing was removed from her position last week after she encouraged “Hindu brothers” to gang rape Muslim women openly in the streets.

According to a report by the United Nations, violence against Muslims and Dalits is on the rise over the past five years under Modi’s rule. Hindu extremist groups have been carrying out mob violence against Muslims over rumours of slaughtering cows or eating beef amid other crimes of similar nature.

https://caravandaily.com/enough-is-enough-sufi-cleric-urges-unity-among-indian-muslims-against-oppression/

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Man Waved Tricolour In Front Of Kabaa during Hajj

August 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: Like every year, this year also Indians, irrespective of religion celebrated Independence day with full passion, whether they are living in or outside the country.

On the occasion of independence day, many Muslims this year was on the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Many Muslims outside the country celebrated 15th August. Among them is a resident of Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh who celebrated India’s independence day by waving the Indian Tricolour in front of Kaaba, the most sacred and holy place of Islam.

Tricolour waved in Makkah

Nayeemuddin Sheikh has gone to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj. He, along with necessary luggage also carried the Tricolour.

With legal regulation and following the rules, Sheik waved hoisted the Tricolour on 15th August to show his patriotism on independence day.

He, not only waved the national flag but also sang the National Anthem.

And also, at the same time raised “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Hindustan Zindabad” Slogans

Sheikh shared the photographs of him holding Tricolour on social media and is being praised for his patriotism.

–Not The First–

Noteworthy, Sheikh was not the first person to unfurled India’s Tricolour.

Hasan Khan, an employee in Municipal Corporation Baghalpur also hoisted the national flag and sang the national anthem. Slogans like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” “Vande Mataram” and “Hindustan Zindabad” were also raised.

https://www.siasat.com/man-waved-Tricolour-front-kaaba-during-hajj-1586848/

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Prince William And Duchess Of Cambridge Kate Middleton May Skip Pakistan Visit Over Kashmir Tensions

August 19, 2019

LONDON: Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s visit to Pakistan may be cancelled as tensions between Pakistan and India continue to soar over occupied Kashmir.

A statement issued by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that the couple may be forced to give up their visit in light of the security conditions emerging after India’s Narendra Modi revoked article 370 from occupied Kashmir.

In June this year, the British royal family shared that the couple will be visiting Pakistan this year. The news was shared on their Twitter and Instagram account.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will undertake an official visit to Pakistan at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” a statement from the palace had read. “The visit will take place in the autumn.”

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Mohammad Nafees Zakaria had also warmly welcomed the royal tweet and had replied with, “Upcoming Royal visit reflects the importance UK attaches to Pakistan. Both countries enjoy historical links and wish to strengthen further.”

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/18/royal-couple-may-skip-pakistan-visit-over-kashmir-tensions/

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Pakistan approaches Facebook, Twitter over suspension of pro-Kashmir accounts

August 19, 2019

Pakistan has taken up the issue of the suspension of social media accounts that were posting in favour of Kashmir by highlighting the Indian atrocities in the occupied region with Twitter and Facebook, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor in a Twitter post.

“Pakistan authorities have taken up the case with Twitter and Facebook against suspending Pakistani accounts for posting in support of Kashmir. Indian staff at their regional headquarters is the reason,” he said in a post on his personal account.

He encouraged social media users whose accounts have been suspended to come forward.

Over the last one week, several social media users from Pakistan took to Twitter to report that posting about Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir were being suspended.

Last week, the Twitter handle of a Pakistan journalist was suspended for responding to Indian defence minister’s tweet.

The suspension of these accounts, as alleged by Gen Ghafoor, has been linked to the Indian influence with the tech giants.

India hosts around 250 million Facebook users, besides having a partnership multiple Indian organizations, unlike Pakistan which has only one.

As Kashmir issue continues to heat up, Pakistan’s use of social media, smart diplomatic initiatives and protest gatherings from government and civil society to highlight Kashmir conflict amid recent events of Indian aggression has launched a successful quest to negate Indian propaganda on the issue.

Pakistan also observed Indian Independence Day (Aug 15) as a black day to give the world a message about actions of the Indian government.

The solidarity movement with Kashmir was augmented with an effective social media campaign with hashtags such as #KashmirBanegaPakistan and #15AugustBlackDay.

Various other hashtags like #RedForKashmir, #BleedForKashmir, #StandWithKashmir, and #ModiKillingKashmiris #KashmirUnderThreat had also trended on top since Aug 5.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/18/pakistan-approaches-facebook-twitter-over-suspension-of-pro-kashmir-accounts/

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Peace with whom? After blast, enraged Afghans question talks

Aug 19, 2019

KABUL: Outraged Afghans questioned on Sunday the point of negotiations with the Taliban aimed at getting US troops to leave and ending the war, after 63 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a wedding reception in the capital, Kabul.

A suicide bomber blew himself up late on Saturday in a packed wedding hall, bringing new carnage to a country plagued by decades of violence. Many women and children were among the dead and 182 wounded, officials said.

"Peace with whom? With those who bomb our weddings, schools, universities, offices and houses?" Twitter user Rada Akba wrote on the social media platform.

"Selling out this land and its people to those killers is sick and inhuman. History won't forget this," she wrote.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the blast at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighbourhood, and condemned it.

Islamic State militants also operate in Afghanistan and have carried out bloody attacks in towns and cities, some against Shi'ites.

Journalist Sana Safi said she doubted the Taliban denial.

"Who else is capable of carrying out such brutality?" she asked.

"So 'peace agreement' with the Taliban isn’t going to end the bloodshed for ordinary Afghans?"

Tawab Ghorzang, an adviser at the ministry of transport, said negotiations with the Taliban gave them legitimacy.

"If thousands of times the Taliban are given legitimacy on the platform of peace talks, their war crimes and crime against the humanity will go on," he wrote on Facebook.

The Taliban and the United States are trying to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's US-backed government.

Both sides have reported progress after eight rounds of talks since late last year.

Under the expected deal on a staggered withdrawal of US troops, the Taliban would guarantee Afghanistan would not be a sanctuary for militants to expand and plot new attacks, both sides have said.

The government has not been involved in the negotiations - the Taliban refuse to talk to administration they see as a US puppet - but the militants are expected to make a commitment to open power-sharing talks and agree to a ceasefire.

The government insists a ceasefire must be part of any deal.

Tabish Forugh, an Afghan journalist, also questioned the Taliban denial of responsibility for the Saturday's blast.

"They are responsible in the eyes of Afghans. They have turned a country of 30 million people into a slaughterhouse," Forugh wrote.

"We should not surrender to Taliban terror."

The European Union mission in Afghanistan condemned the blast saying those behind it were "enemies of humanity".

The Kabul blast followed a bomb attack on a mosque in Pakistan on Friday that killed four people, including a brother of Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, and wounded about 20. No group has claimed responsibility.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/peace-with-whom-after-blast-enraged-afghans-question-talks/articleshow/70731788.cms

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ISIS releases identity of Kabul wedding hall bomber as Abu Asim Al-Pakistani

18 Aug 2019

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing in West of Kabul city.

The group issued a statement in Arabic that the attack was carried out by ISIS suicide bomber Abu Asim Al-Pakistani.

The statement further added that the attack targeted a gathering of Mushrikeens, referring to victims as non-believers.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the explosion took place at around 10:40 pm local time on Saturday inside Hotel Shahr-e Dubai in 6th district of the city.

Rahimi further added that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the guests of a wedding.

According to security officials, the attack killed 63 people and wounded at least 182 others.

https://www.khaama.com/isis-releases-identity-of-kabul-wedding-hall-bomber-as-abu-asim-al-pakistani-03686/

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Papuan students on Java face increased pressures from Islamist, far-right groups

August 19, 2019

Papuan students on Java Island have repeatedly become the target of intimidation by Islamist and far-right groups as armed conflict between security forces and separatist groups in Papua escalates. In the latest incident on Friday afternoon, scores of security forces along with civil militias from hard-line group Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and youth organization Pemuda Pancasila (PP) reportedly went to a Papuan student dormitory on Jl. Kalasan in Surabaya, East Java, and launched physical and verbal attacks against the students, following the finding of an Indonesian flag discarded near the dorm. According to the Surabaya Legal Aid Institute, which cited the account of a student staying in the dormitory, Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers allegedly banged on the door of the dorm while uttering curse words such as “dogs” and “pigs” aimed at th...

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/08/19/papuan-students-on-java-face-increased-pressures-from-islamist-far-right-groups.html

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Would be unwise to turn to Pakistan as strategic partner: US expert

Aug 19, 2019

WASHINGTON: Amid an increased India-Pak tension on Kashmir and an ongoing Afghan peace talks, a top American foreign policy expert has cautioned the Trump Administration against any strategic tilt towards Pakistan and moving away from India.

"The US would be unwise to turn to Pakistan as a strategic partner," Richard N Hass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in an op-ed last week.

Pakistan sees a friendly government in Kabul as vital to its security and competition with arch-rival India, he wrote in his op-ed that was first published by Project Syndicate and thereafter, on the CFR website.

"There is little reason to believe that the military and intelligence services, which continue to run Pakistan, will rein in the Taliban or rule out terrorism," Hass said.

"Equally, the US would be unwise to alienate India. Yes, India has a tradition of protectionist trade policies and often frustrates US policymakers with its reluctance to cooperate fully on strategic issues," he wrote.

But democratic India, which will soon surpass China as the world's most populous country and will boast the world's fifth-largest economy, is a good long-term bet, he added.

"It is a natural partner to help balance China. India has rejected participation in China's Belt and Road Initiative, whereas Pakistan, struggling economically, has embraced it," Hass said.

According to the top American scholar, the US would also be unwise to race for the exits from Afghanistan.

Peace talks with the Taliban mostly look like a means to extract US forces from the country, he claimed, adding that the process is reminiscent of Vietnam, where a 1973 agreement between the US and North Vietnam provided a pretext for American withdrawal from the South but not a basis for peace.

The notion of a coalition government, with power shared by the current government and the Taliban, is optimistic at best, fanciful at worst, Hass observed.

"Instead of embracing fantasy, the US should continue to keep a modest number of troops in Afghanistan to ensure the government survives and the country does not again become a terrorist haven.

"What is required is an endurance strategy, not an exit strategy, based on local conditions, not political calendars. As has long been the case, south Asia is at best a region to be managed, not a problem to be solved," he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/would-be-unwise-to-turn-to-pakistan-as-strategic-partner-us-expert/articleshow/70731496.cms

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The UK has an Islamophobia problem. Muslims want to know what Boris Johnson is going to do about it

August 18, 2019

Birmingham, England (CNN)Haniya Aadams wasn't always a Muslim. She grew up in a Sikh household in central England and converted to Islam a decade ago, at the age of 25.

Since then, she has chosen to wear a niqab. So she knows about what it's like to be treated differently.

"If I compare my life to what it was before, yes, I think there is a prejudice against Muslims ... People are reluctant to speak to women like me, especially (wearing) a niqab, because of the stereotype that maybe we're extremist, that we're oppressed, that we can't speak English," Aadams told CNN.

Niqabs and burqas were at the center of a controversy that involved the UK's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year when he likened Muslim women who wear veils to "letter boxes" and "bank robbers" in his column for the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

When Johnson made that comparison, he had been trying to defend a woman's right to wear a veil, but his choice of language sparked widespread anger and condemnation, and led many across politics and public life to question Johnson's character and accuse him of worsening anti-Muslim sentiment.

He has since partially apologized, saying at the launch of his bid to become Prime Minister: "In so far as my words have given offense over the last twenty or thirty years when I've been a journalist and people have taken those words out of my articles and escalated them. Of course, I am sorry for the offense they have caused."

In July, he was confronted with renewed accusations of Islamophobia after a 2007 essay was unearthed in which he claimed Islam left Muslim countries "centuries behind" the Western world.

Johnson is now running a country where life for Muslims has become more hostile in recent years.

Shifting to the right

Aadams is a spokesperson for Green Lane Masjid and Community Center in Birmingham, a city that is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the UK.

Mosques like Green Lane Masjid often sit at the heart of the community. Parents come to pray while their children play downstairs. Posters on the walls advertise the new football team or the after-school Budding Believers Club. There's also a food bank, open to all regardless of faith.

In March, however, vandals targeted five mosques in a series of attacks, leaving Birmingham's Muslim community on edge. Behind the gated entrance at the Green Lane Masjid, there are noticeable signs of heightened security. Numerous cameras monitor every coming and going, while signs warn worshipers of what to do "in the rare event of a firearms or weapons attack."

Britain's Muslim community received hundreds of anonymous letters over a two-year period starting in June 2016 calling for violence and abuse against Muslims. Authorities subsequently arrested a man who pled guilty to the racist letter campaign.

Muslim worshipers were targeted in a June 2017 attack when a van plowed into a group of pedestrians who had attended late-night prayers at London's Finsbury Park Mosque, killing one man and injuring 11 people. Mosques nationally have been attacked and set on fire.

Official statistics back up anecdotal evidence. Despite accounting for less than 5% of the UK's 66 million-strong population, 52% of religious hate crime offenses committed in England and Wales between 2017 and 2018 targeted Muslims, the UK Home Office revealed in 2018.

This tallies with a growth in overall hate crimes. Between 2017 and 2018, there were 94,098 offences, up 17% from the year before. The Office for National Statistics has attributed some of the increase over the years to improvements in police recording of hate crimes.

Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon in the UK, but it has recently been exploited by far-right groups and activists. A 2019 report by anti-racism organization Hope Not Hate stated: "Anti-Muslim prejudice has replaced immigration as the key driver of far-right growth."

When anti-Muslim attitudes go mainstream

In this atmosphere, Aadams believes that media and politicians have a heavy responsibility for the continued growth in anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK. "It has a direct effect on Islamophobic attacks," she says. "You cannot make it legitimate (even if) you want to brush it off as a light-hearted comment."

Following Johnson's 2018 comments there was an increase in hate incidents The Times reported citing data collated by Tell MAMA, an independent NGO that monitors anti-Muslim attacks in England

Some academics agree that individuals like Johnson should take more care with their language.

"There's a low-level concern about the way in which Muslims in the community group are portrayed, discussed and understood by politicians and by the media," Abdul-Azim Ahmed, a research associate at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University, says.

"While Boris Johnson's incoming premiership does seem concerning given his history, it's also in many ways just a continuation of the policies of (previous Prime Minister) Theresa May (and) of a shift towards the right," Ahmed says, referring to May's hardline approach to immigration.

"It doesn't feel like a watershed moment in any way but it does definitely raise some ... concerning trends within government. I think the general sense on the ground is very apprehensive," he adds.

CNN reached out to the Prime Minister's office and was referred to the Cabinet Office for comment over the concerns and calls for him to engage with Muslim communities but did not receive a response by publication.

In Birmingham, around the corner from the Green Lane mosque, the high street is lined with halal butchers, restaurants and market stalls. Iqra Bashir, 20, is with her mother enjoying the British summer. She reveals she was "not happy" about Johnson becoming PM given his remarks.

"I think if somebody is saying that about Muslim women, I think 'What's the future going to be like for us?'" she explains.

"I think the government could stand up for us a bit and say 'Not all Muslims are terrorists.' Yeah you get one or two but that doesn't mean the whole of the community is bad."

Moments later, 34-year-old Salih Scully bounds over. He has been listening to the conversation and says that while he disagreed with Johnson's previous comments, he also wants to make it clear that his daily experiences of being a Muslim in Britain are "generally quite good."

"The government allows me to have free speech and to exercise my beliefs in a peaceful, amicable way.

"Every system is flawed, I'm flawed myself so if the government would like to approach the Muslims ... then we will be there with dialogue," he adds.

'We are part of the fabric of society'

At London's Baitul Fatuh mosque, one of the largest in Western Europe, a broad consensus of people also believes that Johnson's past remarks should not be a barometer for how he will perform in his new role.

People here remember Johnson -- who was Mayor of London between 2008 and 2016 -- as a friend of the mosque, someone who visited on multiple occasions and worked effectively with the community.

Syed Yusuf Ahmed, a medical student and volunteer at the mosque, recalls: "He came to Baitul three times ... He really did engage with the Muslim community -- we felt he was a good mayor for us."

"All the women felt offended by that comment but (with Johnson) you always like to give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he didn't mean it -- that it was a mistake," explains Mahmood Rafiq, head of external relations at the mosque. "If I look at his track record and that one comment, it did seem a bit of a blip."

Instead, like many in the Muslim community, Rafiq wants to leave the past where it is, saying that "we are looking towards the future."

"We want to work with the government and support them anyway we can -- against Islamophobia, against all hate crimes," he explains.

Dialogue is at the top of the list of things many in the Muslim community would like the new Prime Minister to now engage in.

"Johnson needs to sit down with people that are doing research -- that have got the facts and figures -- and see what he can do as Prime Minister to support the Muslim community," Aadams says.

"The most important thing is we're not different to anyone else in society," she concludes.

"We're not different to our neighbors. We're not different to the Christians, or the Jewish or those of no faith -- we're all the same. We're British people. We are part of the fabric of society."

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/18/uk/uk-islamophobia-boris-johnson-gbr-intl/index.html

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India

 

Millions Of Muslims Risk Being Stripped Of Citizenship In India And Declared 'Foreign Migrants'

August 19, 2019

More than 4 million people in India, mostly Muslims, are at risk of being declared foreign migrants as the government pushes a hardline Hindu nationalist agenda that has challenged the country’s pluralist traditions and aims to redefine what it means to be Indian.

The hunt for migrants is unfolding in Assam, a poor, hilly state near the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Many of the people whose citizenship is now being questioned were born in India and have enjoyed all the rights of citizens, such as voting in elections.

State authorities are rapidly expanding foreigner tribunals and planning to build huge new detention camps.

Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign migrant — including a Muslim veteran of the Indian army.

Local activists and lawyers say the pain of being left off a preliminary list of citizens and the prospect of being thrown into jail have driven dozens to suicide.

But the governing party of prime minister Narendra Modi is not backing down.

Instead, it is vowing to bring this campaign to force people to prove they are citizens to other parts of India, part of a far-reaching Hindu nationalist program fuelled by Mr Modi’s sweeping re-election victory in May and his stratospheric popularity.

Members of India’s Muslim minority are growing more fearful by the day.

Assam’s anxiously watched documentation of citizenship — a drive that began years ago and is scheduled to wrap up 31 August — coincides with another setback for Muslims, this one transpiring more than 1,000 miles away.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr Modi unilaterally wiped out the statehood of India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, removing its special autonomy and turning it into a federal territory without any consultation with local leaders — many of whom have since been arrested.

All of the 33 million residents of Assam have had to prove, with documentary evidence, that they or their ancestors were Indian citizens before early 1971, when Bangladesh was established after breaking away from Pakistan.

That is not easy. Many families are racing to get their hands on a decades-old property deed or fraying birth certificate with an ancestor’s name on it.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-muslim-residents-citizenship-assam-modi-hindu-nationalism-a9064096.html

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Nine more telephone exchanges restored in Kashmir, internet snapped in Jammu

Aug 19, 2019

Jammu and Kashmir authorities made 10 more telephone exchanges operational in Kashmir Valley on Sunday, but again snapped services of one of the 17 centres restored on Saturday, officials said.

The authorities closed one of the 17 exchanges after reports that landline phones were being used for spreading misinformation campaign, they said.

With these, around 28,000 fixed-line phones, out of around 50,000 in Kashmir Valley, were functional.

The exchanges that opened on Sunday were in areas around Dal Lake, Civil Secretariat and Nishat in Srinagar district; Pattan, Boniyar and Baramulla town in north Kashmir; Chaboora, Chrar-e-Shariff in Budgam district; and Aishmuqam in south Kashmir.

Landline and mobile phone services and Internet were suspended in Kashmir Valley in the early hours of August 5 before the Centre announced its move to abrogate provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divide the state into two Union Territories.

Low-speed Internet services in Jammu region, which were made operational on Saturday, were snapped again on Sunday after it was found that a video clip with the potential to trigger communal tension were being circulated. However, Inspector General of Police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh said the 2G network has “temporarily been disconnected due to some technical reasons which is being rectified and efforts are on to ensure restoration as soon as possible”.

Police said searches were being carried out for nabbing those behind the video clip.

Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh had warned that stern action would taken against anyone misusing Internet facility.

The government is planning to reopen only primary schools from Monday. Officials believe that there won’t be much attendance because of the restrictions.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had recently said that schools will reopen from Monday.

The officials said stone-pelting incidents took place in various parts of Srinagar city on Saturday and Sunday, leaving many people injured. Security forces took various measures to contain the protests locally. Majority of the injured were discharged from hospitals after first-aid and only two people were being treated for pellet injuries, they said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/services-of-one-of-10-telephone-exchange-in-kashmir-valley-internet-in-jammu-snapped/story-DvKuf9Zwx22dSitiCKabMN.html

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J&K: 10-year-old injured in Pakistan firing along LoC

August 18, 2019

A 10-year-old girl was injured after Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked mortar shelling and firing of small arms along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district.

The girl was identified as Saida Kousar. According to sources, the girl got injured Saturday night in the Mankote area of Poonch district. She was immediately taken to a hospital.

Meanwhile, ceasefire was also violated by the Pakistani troops in the adjoining Rajouri district’s Kalal and Keri Battal areas of Nowshera sector on Sunday evening.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-10-year-old-injured-in-pakistan-firing-along-loc-5915367/

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Pakistan

 

Islam religion of love and humanity: Buzdar

August 18, 2019

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has said that Islam is a religion of love and humanity and our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) sets an example of love and affection towards entire humanity which will always be remembered.

In his message on World Humanitarian Day, Usman Buzdar said that there is a dire need to promote the golden principles of love towards humanity for setting up of a peaceful society which will be free from colour, creed or race.

He said the greatness of humanity lies in serving and loving fellow human beings. He said that on the one side the world is celebrating “World Humanitarian Day” and on the other side, India has crossed all limits of the humiliation of humanity.

The Chief Minister said every eye and heart is saddened over Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir. Kashmiri people have been deprived of all their human rights on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day. The Modi government should look into its conscience on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, he added.

Usman Buzdar said that a peaceful society cannot be formed without the principles of love and humanity. It is a moral obligation of every individual of the society to help the ailing humanity, he concluded.

https://nation.com.pk/18-Aug-2019/islam-religion-of-love-with-humanity-buzdar

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World must consider safety of nukes under Modi: Imran Khan

Aug 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The world must seriously consider the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal in the control of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan said on Sunday.

Khan’s statement comes close on the heels of defence minister Rajnath Singh’s statement on the possible change in India’s long-standing “no first use” policy regarding nuclear weapons depending on future circumstances.

“The world must also seriously consider the safety & security of India’s nuclear arsenal in the control of the fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist Modi Govt. This is an issue that impacts not just the region but the world,” the Pakistan premier said in a tweet on Sunday.

Imran Khan

@ImranKhanPTI

• 21h

Replying to @ImranKhanPTI

Already 4m Indian Muslims face detention camps & cancellation of citizenship. World must take note as this genie is out of the bottle & the doctrine of hate & genocide, with RSS goons on the rampage, will spread unless the international community acts now to stop it.

Imran Khan

@ImranKhanPTI

The World must also seriously consider  the safety & security of India's nuclear arsenal in the control of the fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist Modi Govt. This is an issue that impacts not just the region but the world.

28.9K

1:18 PM - Aug 18, 2019

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Singh’s statement appeared to have rattled Pakistan, which has never adopted the “no first use” policy itself, despite most of the countries in the world, including China, abiding by it.

In a series of tweets, Imran repeated what he has been stating for the past two weeks: “India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology & leadership. This threatens 9 million Kashmiris under siege in IOK for over 2 weeks which should have sent alarm bells ringing across the world with UN Observers being sent there.”

Imran Khan

@ImranKhanPTI

India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology & leadership.This threatens 9m Kashmiris under siege in IOK for over 2 weeks which shd have sent alarm bells ringing across the world with UN Observers being sent there

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1:18 PM - Aug 18, 2019

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/world-must-consider-safety-of-nukes-under-modi-imran-khan/articleshow/70730239.cms

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Pak body asks govt to allow distribution of Indian goods already reached at ports

Aug 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A body representing Pakistani employers has appealed to the government to allow in local markets those Indian goods that have already arrived at the country's airports or seaports, according to a media report.

Pakistan suspended its trade relations with India in retaliation against New Delhi's decision to revoke Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Employers' Federation of Pakistan (EFP), while supporting the decision to suspend trade with India, has appealed to the government that Indian goods that have already reached airports or seaports should be allowed in local markets, Dawn newspaper reported.

The EFP also feared that life-saving drugs, which are imported from India as raw material or in finished form, may vanish from the market and requested to relax the rules until some alternative source for the import is arranged, the report said.

EFP vice president Zaki Ahmed Khan said in a statement on Saturday that the manufacturers of Pakistan fully supported the decision of the government to suspend all trade with India.

"This has sent a strong and favourable message to the business community to source their imports and exports from countries that are not inimical to the sovereignty of Pakistan," he said.

He said that APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients), imported from India to manufacture life-saving products by the pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan, should be allowed on the condition that the pharmaceutical companies would immediately develop alternative sources of these APIs within a reasonable and mutually agreed upon time with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan.

Pakistani importers also have sought clarity on the fate of shipments en route from India via the Wagah/Atari joint check post, the report said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-body-asks-govt-to-allow-distribution-of-indian-goods-already-reached-at-ports/articleshow/70723693.cms

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Kashmir issue on top of today’s multiparty conference agenda

August 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The opposition’s another multiparty conference (MPC) is being held on Monday (today) but Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will not attend it.

The agenda of the meeting focuses on latest development on Kashmir dispute, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s one-year performance and a “lopsided” accountability being carried out allegedly to crush opposition leaders.

It will be the second such MPC in three months. The convener, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), had called the first MPC aimed at finding ways to topple the government.

The fresh conference, to be held at 11am at a local hotel, has also been called by Maulana Fazl.

According to the PML-N, Shahbaz Sharif cannot attend the MPC due to some back injury that he received during a public meeting held on the occasion of Independence Day.

However, the party has announced a panel of its senior leaders to take part in the meeting. They are Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Ayaz Sadiq.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will not attend the MPC as he has to address a rally in Skardu. The rally was scheduled much before the MPC’s date was decided.

The PPP leaders who will attend the event include Yousuf Raza Gilani, Sherry Rehman, Farhatullah Babar and Nayyar Bukhari.

Maulana Fazl will chair the MPC.

The situation that arose after the failure of opposition parties’ no-trust move against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani will be reviewed by the MPC and a future course of action will be devised.

In a late night development, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman rushed to Zardari House and met PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, apparently to convince the latter to attend the MPC.

Maulana Fazl was accompanied by JUI-F leaders Ghafoor Haideri and Akram Khan Durrani. PPP leaders Farhatullah Babar and Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar were also present in the meeting.

After the meeting, Mr Khokhar told Dawn that the PPP chairman would be in Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday and thus he would not be able to attend the MPC. “We had already told the Maulana not to hold the meeting on such dates because Mr Bilawal will have several engagements in Gilgit-Baltistan,” he added.

He said the JUI-F chief discussed with Mr Bhutto-Zardari the agenda of the MPC and the decisions likely to be made in it.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1500359

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Qureshi challenges Modi to hold public referendum in occupied Kashmir

August 18, 2019

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday challenged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold a public referendum in occupied Kashmir "if he really wants feedback on the popularity of his decision" to strip the region of its autonomous status.

"I challenge Narendra Modi to lift the curfew and call the entire Kashmiri leadership — including those who have been in government with you, such as Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, also a CM, and the Hurriyat leadership: Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Ali Gilani, Yasin Malik — there are numerous individuals," said Qureshi, during a press conference in Multan.

"In Srinagar, or wherever you see fit, hold a public referendum today," he said, daring Modi to test which way the public opinion sways.

"You haven't fulfilled the United Nations promise but today if you wish to check the popularity of your decision, hold the referendum and all will be crystal clear," said the foreign minister.

Restrictions are continuing in much of occupied Kashmir, which entered the 13th day of an unprecedented lockdown on Sunday. India’s government claims it’s gradually restoring phone lines.

Soldiers on Sunday still manned nearly deserted streets and limited movement of the few pedestrians who came out of their homes in Srinagar.

Qureshi, in his media briefing, said that the United Nation's Secretary-General had said they consider the area to be a disputed region and that the solution to the dispute lies in the UN resolutions, UN charter and in accordance with international laws.

"This is a major diplomatic success for Pakistan," said the foreign minister. He, however, questioned the international community's insistence that talks between India and Pakistan be held.

"They say we should move forward and hold bilateral talks. I say, Pakistan was never opposed to a bilateral dialogue.

"There are three parties to the dispute: India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris. Two parties are completely uninvolved in your [United Nations Security Council] decisions, and the third, Kashmiris, are under arrest and a curfew has been imposed on them.

"They can scarcely breathe; we don't know if they have access to medicines, or food even. In which environment are they asking that we hold talks?" said Qureshi.

"The Security Council should consider with whom they are expecting that we hold a dialogue — with such a cruel government?" he asked.

Also read: A birth and a death amid occupied Kashmir's harsh lockdown

He said the restricting environment had stretched on for 13 days now when even Muharram has 10 days of mourning.

"People continue to be subjected to enormous suffering, with unarmed citizens bombarded with cluster bombs. There is constant firing across the LoC (Line of Control) and our soldiers have been martyred. Pakistan has exercised patience. But, Pakistan has also expressed its resolve (to stand with Kashmir) and we will continue to stand with Kashmir," he vowed.

The foreign minister lauded the international and Pakistani media for highlighting the Kashmir issue.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1500238/qureshi-challenges-modi-to-hold-public-referundum-in-occupied-kashmir

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At least 3 killed in roadside IED blast in Upper Dir: police

Ali Akbar | Sirajuddin

August 18, 2019

At least three people were killed after a bomb went off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Upper Dir district on Sunday.

The blast, which occurred in the Gumadand area of the Sheringal tehsil, left at least a dozen people injured, said police.

Upper Dir District Police Officer (DPO) Naseeb Jan confirmed the incident saying that three people had been killed while 19 others were injured, including two policemen.

According to the DPO, an improvised explosive device (IED) had been planted on the roadside which was detonated as a double-cabin vehicle was passing by.

"The victims have an old enmity with another family who fled the area and reportedly joined Taliban," the officer told DawnNewsTV, adding that the two families target each other whenever they get a chance.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1500236/at-least-3-killed-in-roadside-ied-blast-in-upper-dir-police

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Two soldiers martyred in N Wazirsitan IED blast

August 19, 2019

PESHAWAR: At least two security officials were martyred in Ladha tehsil of North Waziristan after an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded late Saturday night.

According to security sources, the last rituals of the slain soldiers were offered in Kanigram area of the tribal district.

Tribal elders of Mehsud and Barki tribes, as well as senior security officials, participated in the funeral prayers.

The attack came after the law enforcement agencies killed four suspected terrorists in an intelligence-based operation in Dera Ismail Khan in the wee hours of Saturday.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/08/18/two-soldiers-martyred-in-n-wazirsitan-ied-blast/

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South Asia

 

Rohingya repatriation can begin anytime: foreign secretary

August 19, 2019

Repatriation of Rohingya refugees -- who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar in August 2017 -- can begin anytime, foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said yesterday  at a discussion.

“Repatriation is always on the table. It can start anytime. It is a continual process,” Shahidul Haque said while responding to a journalist’s query on whether the repatriation of Rohingyas will start on August 22 as reported by an international news agency.

Reuters on Thursday reported that Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to start a fresh attempt to repatriate Rohingyas on August 22.

The Red and Green Research, an initiative of journalists, organised the discussion on ‘Rohingya crisis: way forward’ at the BIISS auditorium.

Nearly 7,50,000 Rohingyas fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown in August 2017. The United Nations said the perpetrators had “genocidal intent”.

Previous attempts at persuading Rohingyas to return to Rakhine failed due to the refugees’ unwillingness. An initiative to repatriate Rohingyas in November 2018 failed after the refugees protested.

Rohingyas at that time said they want to return to Myanmar, but seek guarantee of citizenship, UN-backed safe zone in Rakhine, recognition of their ethnicity as Rohingya and return to the place from where they were driven out.

“Repatriation [of Rohingays] has always been one of the priority issues for Bangladesh. We are always saying that the peaceful solution to the crisis is Rohingyas going back to their homeland. We have never suggested any alternatives,” Shahidul said.

He said that Bangladesh would try to encourage Rohingyas to return to their homeland in the next couple of weeks.  

“If they don’t go back, they will be deprived of all rights, not just land rights. For their own interest, I think they should volunteer to go back to their homeland,” he said.

“Going back to their own homeland does not mean that we are asking them to forget about the issues of justice and accountability. The process to ensure justice and accountability has already begun and it will continue irrespective of their return,” he added.

Taking part in the discussion, former chief of National Human Rights Commission Mizanur Rahman said he doubts whether the international community is sincere about resolving the Rohingya crisis.

“The initial response of Bangladesh to the Rohingya crisis was weak and disorientated,” he alleged.

“Bangladesh believed that Myanmar is a peace-loving neighbour and through bilateral talks and means with the assistance of big brother India and newly adopted big brother China, the problem will be resolved within a foreseeable future,” he said.

“But to our utter dismay, we found that we don’t have either India or China, or even Russia, on our side. And that was immensely frustrating for the foreign ministry, government and people of the country” he added.

In response, Shahidul said he does not feel they were ever frustrated by the response, because every country has its national interest.

“We have discussions both bilaterally and multilaterally. We are using all the tools that we have, including talking to our regional friends regarding the issue,” he added.

Munshi Faiz Ahmad, a former ambassador of Bangladesh to China, moderated the discussion where journalist and The Red and Green Research director Shahidul Islam Chowdhury presented keynote paper.

https://www.thedailystar.net/city/news/rohingya-repatriation-will-begin-anytime-foreign-secretary-1787065

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Taliban’s shadow district chief, his deputy and other militants killed in Logar airstrike

18 Aug 2019

An airstrike in central Logar province killed the shadow district chief of Taliban for Aza district of the province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps, citing the Defense Ministry sources reported late on Sunday that an airstriek in the provincial capital of Logar killed Mawlavi Mohamadullah Farooqi, the shadow district chief of Taliban for Azra district.

The source further added that the security forces conducted the airstrike at around 7 pm local tie on Saturday.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/talibans-shadow-district-chief-his-deputy-and-other-militants-killed-in-logar-airstrike-03692/

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Ghani lashes out at Taliban, calls for extraordinary security meeting after deadly Kabul bombing

18 Aug 2019

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani lashed out at Taliban and has called for an extraordinary security meeting after last night’s deadly wedding hall bombing in Kabul city.

Ghani said in a Twitter post “Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists. Today is the day of mourning, hence #StateBuilder have cancelled today’s gathering at the Loya Jirga tent.”

Furthermore, Ghani said “For those who are wounded, I pray for your speedy recovery. I have ordered the relevant authorities to urgently assist in managing the wounded.”

He also added “In response to this targeted attack I have called an extraordinary security meeting to review and prevent such security lapses.”

The Taliban group had earlier issued a statement condemning the attack.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the explosion took place at around 10:40 pm local time inside Hotel Shahr-e Dubai in 6th district of the city.

Rahimi further added that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the guests of a wedding.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/ghani-lashes-out-at-taliban-calls-for-extraordinary-security-meeting-after-deadly-kabul-bombing-03684/

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Dozens of Taliban militants killed or wounded in latest clashes in Balkh: Shaheen Corps

18 Aug 2019

The security forces killed or wounded dozens of Taliban militants during the latest clashes in northern Balkh province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement that the security forces conducted airstrikes in Qarsghigak village at around 11:00 am on Saturday.

The statement further added that a clash also broke out between the security forces and Taliban militants in Qala-e Barbar area of Dawlatabad district.

Furthermore, the 209th Shaheen Corps said the security forces killed 17 Taliban militants during the clash and airstrikes.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/dozens-of-taliban-militants-killed-or-wounded-in-latest-clashes-in-balkh-shaheen-corps-03690/

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100th I-Day celebrations in historic Dar-ul-Aman Palace postponed after deadly Kabul bombing

18 Aug 2019

The Afghan government has postponed celebrations to commemorate the 100th Independence Day of Afghanistan which was scheduled for Monday in the historic Dar-ul-Aman Palace.

Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said the Secretariat tasked to organize the 100th Independence Celebrations of Afghanistan has postponed the event as per President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s instructions in a bid to pay respect to families of last night attack’s victims in Kabul.

Sediqqi further added that that the President will deliver a speech and lay wreath in Independence Minaret to honor the 100th Independence Day of Afghanistan and pay tribute to the martyrs of the freedom.

This comes as a suicide bomber targeted a wedding ceremony in West of Kabul city late on Saturday night killing or wounding hundreds of people.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the explosion took place at around 10:40 pm local time inside Hotel Shahr-e Dubai in 6th district of the city.

Rahimi further added that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the guests of a wedding.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/100th-i-day-celebrations-in-historic-dar-ul-aman-palace-postponed-after-deadly-kabul-bombing-03688/

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Afghanistan vows to crush ISIS havens after attack

19 August 2019

Afghanistan’s president is vowing to eliminate all safe havens of ISIS as the country marks a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local ISIS affiliate.

President Ashraf Ghani’s comments Monday come as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people killed in the Kabul bombing.

Many outraged Afghans ask whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end nearly 18 years of fighting will bring peace to long-suffering civilians.

A sharply worded Taliban statement questions why the US failed to identify the attackers in advance. Another Taliban statement marking independence says to “leave Afghanistan to the Afghans.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/19/Afghanistan-vows-to-crush-ISIS-havens-after-attack.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Jokowi Says Growing Radicalism Threatens Pancasila

AUGUST 16, 2019

Jakarta. Rapidly advancing communications technologies are threatening Indonesia's official state ideology of Pancasila, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said in his annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives on Friday.

"The ease of communication and interaction also bring threats; threats to our ideology – Pancasila – to our culture of politeness; to our tradition and culture, as well as the local wisdom of our nation," Jokowi said, adding that while such technological advancements bring benefits, they also contribute to rising intolerance, radicalism and terrorism.

However, the president said that although cyberthreats require a quick response, Indonesia is not afraid of greater openness.

"We must face openness with awareness; awareness of ideologies that threaten our national ideology; awareness of everything that may threaten our sovereignty," he said.

Jokowi, who will commence the second term of his presidency on Oct. 20, also issued a stern warning to public servants and members of the military and police that he would not tolerate anyone who betrays the five principles of Pancasila.

"We will not compromise with members of the state apparatus who reject Pancasila," he said.

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu previously revealed that about 3 percent of the country's military may have been radicalized on religious grounds, according to a report by CNN Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), said in March that about 2 million employees of state-owned enterprises may become radicalized if the heads of the various institutions fail to take firm preventive action. 

A video on the official Indonesian Military (TNI) Instagram account, which had since gone viral, shows TNI commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto interviewing a cadet named Enzo, born of a French father and Indonesian mother. Netizens looking into the young man's background discovered that he and his mother support the establishment of an Islamic state or caliphate in Indonesia.

The TNI has promised to investigate the matter and Ryamizard has stressed that any personnel supporting radicalism and terrorism would be fired.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, chairwoman of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Jokowi is a member, unequivocally stated the party's opposition to a caliphate during its national congress in Bali on Aug. 12.

The former president said any political movement that seeks to implement a caliphate to replace Pancasila poses a grave threat to Indonesia.

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/jokowi-says-growing-radicalism-threatens-pancasila

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Penang mufti: Khat is not Islamic, strictly a form of calligraphic art

07 August 2019

BY OPALYN MOK

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 7 — Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Wan Salim Mohd Nor explained today that khat is a calligraphic style using the jawi script and is used purely for decorative and artistic purposes.

He added that while it was derived from the Arabic script, only writings in the latter were associated with Islam due to its use in the Quran, the Hadiths and religious texts.

Wan Salim said jawi also derived some of its characters from the Persian alphabet, such as the characters for “cha”, “nga” and “nya”.

“Khat is usually used as decoration on the walls of the mosques or on the covers of Islamic holy books,” he said to suggest why a connection was perceived.

“Khat is a form of calligraphy using jawi and there are actually several types of khat such as Nasakh, Raka’ah, Farsi, Dewan, Thulus and many more,” he said.

Not all forms of khat were comprehensible to those who knew jawi, he added when saying only the Nasakh style was easily understood by those familiar with the alphabet used for Bahasa Melayu before its romanisation.

The religious official pointed out that jawi was not unique to Malaysia and had been commonly used in South-east Asia and shared by then-Malaya, Indonesia, the Philippines, Southern Thailand and Cambodia.

“In the past, students in Malay schools were taught jawi until the early 1970s when the then education minister, the late Tan Sri Md Khir Johari, stopped the teaching of jawi in schools,” he said.

He said it was the British who introduced the Roman script to Malaya and replaced jawi.

Jawi was also used for everyday purposes not related to Islam, he added when recalling that Malay vernacular newspapers previously employed the script prior to the romanisation of Bahasa Melayu.

“Even Utusan Melayu, which used jawi at that time, was very popular among readers who went to Malay schools,” he said.

The Education Ministry recently announced the government’s decision to introduce khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Standard Four students starting next year.

This triggered objections, mostly by non-Malays, against the compulsory learning of khat as part of the national language subject, with many calling it an added burden to both teachers and students.

Political parties’ responses to the move has been mixed, with some supporting it and others telling the government to instead focus on teaching students more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/07/penang-mufti-khat-is-not-islamic-strictly-a-form-of-calligraphic-art/1778466

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What Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation really wants

By James Massola

August 19, 2019

Jakarta: Indonesia must be more self-confident about its position in the Islamic world and stare down the threat posed by radical Islam, according to one of the most senior leaders of the country's largest Muslim organisation.

The secretary-general of Nahdlatul Ulama, Yahya Cholil Staquf, has even suggested that allowing the Indonesian province of Aceh to adopt sharia, or religious law, as state law following the end to the armed insurgency in 2005 was a "big mistake".

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is the largest Muslim organisation in the world, with an estimated membership of up to 80 million people. Many of its leaders advocate for the practice of Islam Nusantara, a moderate, tolerant form of Islam, while some advocate a stricter interpretation of Islam.

President Joko Widodo selected Maruf Amin, until recently NU's supreme leader, as his vice-presidential running mate in the recent 2019 election in a decision that dismayed some supporters of the president. They feared the selection meant Joko would not address growing intolerance towards the country's sizeable Christian and Hindu minorities, or the trend towards more conservative Islamic practice among some Indonesians.

But Yahya said the election of Maruf as vice-president (he will be sworn in on October 21) meant the cleric could "lend his theological authority as an ulema, as a scholar, to put the red line [through] radicalism, and then to develop a decisive policy based upon that with real theological authority.

"Then people cannot accuse the government of moving against Islam, because it is [in] the government.

"Secondly, with Kyai [cleric] Maruf, I would hope that Indonesia can engage in a more decisive international effort to find solutions for the problems of Islam with more confidence - not just following in the steps of those Middle Eastern forces but more confidently speaking out about our own position, about what we think is better."

"From NU's perspective we know what we want, which is to contain the threat of radicalism."

Indonesian police agencies are already working to tackle violent extremism, and they run deradicalisation programs and cooperate closely with countries like Australia.

But Yahya said more work needed to be done to tackle both violent and non-violent extremism in Indonesia.

"You can see this movement, non-violent extremism, tends to be growing bigger here in Indonesia. If you have more of this then you have more fertile ground for violent extremism."

The decision to allow Aceh to introduce sharia as state law was a "great mistake", he said, because it meant the province had begun introducing local laws that conflicted with national laws.

"It is wrong to let them have their own laws against [that conflict with] national laws. This is constitutionally wrong," he said.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province with sharia law. In the past year it has debated the introduction of laws that would allow a man to have up to four wives. A district in the province has banned men and women from dining together unless a relative of the woman is present, and it regularly flogs people for a range of crimes - including being gay - even though homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim democracy and the state's guiding philosophy, Pancasila (five principles) enshrines religion, civilised humanity, social justice, democracy, and national unity in the preamble to the constitution.

Human Rights Watch Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono said Yahya and Maruf were at "opposite ends" of NU and it was reasonable to characterise Maruf as a proponent of more conservative Islamic practice. But both men would agree on the need to tackle extremism.

Harsono said that "sadly" Maruf’s was a "doer" and that meant the cleric would involve himself in choosing ministers, appointing chief executives of state-owned companies and more.

"A good politician has to be able to combine perspectives - human rights, the economy, politics, diplomacy -  to balance concerns. Maruf is someone whose knowledge is strictly limited to the Islamic interpretation of the world."

In recent years, conservative Islamic groups have played a more assertive role in the country's politics, strongly backing defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in 2019. The groups also led huge protests against the Christian, ethnically Chinese former governor of Jakarta Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, who was jailed for two years in 2017 for insulting Islam.

Full report at:

https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/what-indonesia-s-largest-muslim-organisation-really-wants-20190819-p52ihe.html

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Head of Indian govt’s minorities body says Naik’s fears of unfair trial well grounded

Abdar Rahman Koya

August 19, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The head of an Indian government agency tasked with protecting religious minorities agrees that Dr Zakir Naik’s speeches could be offensive to Hindus and questions his methods, but adds that the preacher has reasonable grounds to fear persecution and unfair trial under the Narendra Modi government.

Zafarul-Islam Khan, a prominent activist who chairs the federal-backed Delhi Minorities Commission – an agency which safeguards the rights of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis – also believes the recent money laundering charges are part of a larger campaign by extremist Hindu forces to silence Naik.

“The Hindutva forces have had unbridled power since Modi came to power in May 2014. They are misusing it against their opponents, real or imaginary,” Khan, who is the son of one of contemporary India’s most illustrious Muslim voices, told FMT.

Khan’s father is Wahiduddin Khan, who advocates Gandhian non-violence and has been bestowed with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour.

Wahiduddin had in the past criticised Naik’s Islamic missionary methods, a view Khan also holds to.

But he said while Naik’s approach has been combative, he would not accuse him of abusing other beliefs, particularly Hinduism.

“I think Zakir Naik may be blunt and offensive at times but he does not abuse other religions,” said Khan.

“I think he should be more cautious. He used to hold huge open-air televised conferences in parks and stadiums where Hindu leaders were invited and ‘insulted’ in their view. More offence was taken over Hindus standing up after his lectures and announcing their conversion to Islam. This offended Hindus,” he added.

Naik came under investigation in Malaysia following speeches critical of the non-Muslim communities here. He reportedly described ethnic Chinese as “guests” when responding to growing calls for him to be deported.

However, he has denied stoking racial sentiments, saying he is a victim of a vilification campaign by Modi’s supporters.

He previously said he would not return to India, believing he would not be accorded a fair trial under the BJP government.

Khan said Naik was probably naive about India’s commitment to free speech and “took for real the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and right to profess and propagate any faith”.

“In fact, these rights exist more on paper than in reality. Any conversion from Hinduism to another religion is considered a threat to Hindus and the country,” he added.

He said the problem is compounded by what he called the current leadership’s double standards when it comes to hurling accusations of threatening communal harmony.

“In addition, there are umpteen Hindu militias which take the law into their hands while the state apparatus looks the other way, to enforce these Hindutva objectives professed by RSS and supported by its political wing, the BJP which is now ruling India,” he said, referring to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing organisation linked to the ruling party that has been blamed for communal riots over the decades.

Khan said he does not consider Naik part of India’s who’s who of Muslim scholars.

“He is influential and has a huge following due to his televised debates and Peace TV appearances, but he is not a scholar as such,” he said, adding that Naik appeared to have followed the approach of the late South African missionary Ahmad Deedat, who famously debated with Christian theologians in the early 80s.

Despite his reservations about Naik’s approach to propagating Islam, Khan believes that Naik will not get justice under the “circumstances of witch-hunting and official vilification”.

“This is true. The Indian judiciary has been quite compromised under the current government which believes in bulldozing its decisions,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has a point in his criticism of the Indian judiciary in Naik’s context.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/08/19/head-of-indian-govts-minorities-body-says-naiks-fears-of-unfair-trial-well-grounded/

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Malaysia's ex-police chief urges government to rescind Muslim preacher Zakir Naik's PR status

August 19, 2019

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government should rescind controversial preacher Zakir Naik's Permanent Resident (PR) status and return him to India, said former police chief Rahim Noor.

The former Inspector-General of Police urged the Pakatan Harapan government to do so given what Dr Zakir has done in his home country as well as in Malaysia.

"Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had commented that the government will consider rescinding his PR status if it is proven that he has committed criminal offences.

"Based on this statement, it looks like we must wait for the outcome of the investigation. However, my personal view is he had touched on religion and other matters that hurt the feelings of non-Muslims in the country, especially the Hindus. We should not wait for the outcome of the investigation.

"With solid evidence of what he said in Kelantan and what he did in India, I urge the government to revoke Zakir's PR status and hand him over to the Indian government and let him face the laws there, " he said on Sunday (Aug 18).

Tan Sri Rahim said he is aware that certain parties might disagree with his view but they must ask themselves why there are many Islamic figures in India who are not facing legal problems except Dr Zakir.

"There must be something that he did in his home country that is against the law as he was put on the wanted list by Indian authorities.

"We don't need foreigners to come here and use religion to incite chaos and trouble.

"Do we need these type of people? To me, it is a big no, " he said.

Mr Rahim said he does not see any political ramifications on the part of the ruling government or opposition parties if the controversial speaker was sent back to India.

"(The government) should tell him to go back to India and face the laws there.

"He must be responsible for his actions and face it, as the Malay says, 'berani buat, berani tanggung" (reap what you sow).

"The country should not be a "pak sanggup" (to blindly accept) in taking him in as we have no shortage of Islamic experts or scholars in the country, " he said.

Mr Rahim said as a patriot, he felt deeply hurt that a foreigner, who was granted PR, had the nerve to utter comments that could incite trouble among Malaysians of different religion and race.

"It only shows that he does not respect our way of life. Malaysians live in peace while respecting each other's beliefs and ethnicity, " he said.

Mr Rahim also questioned why Dr Zakir was granted PR status in 2015, given that he was wanted by the Indian government as well as his history of touching on sensitive matters that offended worshipers of other religions.

"How can such a foreigner be granted PR in the blink of an eye. To my knowledge, it'll take years for someone to be given PR status, despite his or her contribution to the economy or social causes."I also wonder whether proper due diligence and thorough background checks were conducted by the authorities before the PR was approved. Zakir is wanted by the Indian authorities in connection with his activities that infringed on the laws there and yet why did our country easily accept him then?

Full report at:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysias-ex-police-chief-urges-government-to-rescind-muslim-preacher-zakir-naiks-pr

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Thai official dismisses Muslim insurgent demand on detainees

August 19, 2019

BANGKOK: A Thai deputy prime minister dismissed on Monday a demand made by a Malay Muslim group to free those detained over alleged links to the long-running insurgency in Thailand’s mainly Muslim south as a pre-condition for formal talks.

Officials of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) met a Thai delegation at an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia on Friday and demanded the release of detainees, a leader of the group told Reuters in a rare interview.

The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years and has flared on and off for decades.

“How can you say that? Everything must follow the justice procedure,” Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters on Monday when he was asked about the BRN’s demand.

The BRN also demanded that the Thai government conduct a transparent investigation into alleged abuses by security forces after allegations that a man from the south, Abdullah Isamusa, 32, fell into a coma after being interrogated by the military.

The army said authorities were investigating and that there was no proof so far of torture.

The BRN, the most active insurgent group in the south, has opted to stay out of peace talks between the Thai government and other insurgent groups, although it said it held two previous meetings in recent years.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1541991/world

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North America

 

US envoy says Afghan peace process must speed up

18 August 2019

The United States envoy who is negotiating with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan says the peace process needs to be accelerated in the wake of a deadly attack on a wedding in the capital, which was claimed by the local ISIS affiliate.

Zalmay Khalilzad said in a Twitter post on Sunday that success in the peace process — one that includes the Taliban talking with the Afghan government and other Afghans — will put the country in a “much stronger” position to defeat the ISIS affiliate.

The Taliban have refused to talk with the Afghan government, dismissing it as a US puppet.

Khalilzad also condemned the suicide bombing late Saturday that killed at least 63 and wounded nearly 200 others.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/18/US-envoy-says-Afghan-peace-process-must-speed-up.html

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Canada 'disappointed' by British decision on Jihadi Jack

Aug 19, 2019

Canada said on Sunday it is disappointed its close ally the United Kingdom has revoked the citizenship of a British-Canadian man imprisoned in Syria.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed in a statement that Jack Letts, dubbed Jihadi Jack by the media, has been stripped of his British citizenship.

“Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to off-load their responsibilities,” Mr Goodale said.

A statement from the British Home Office said revoking British citizenship is one way it counters terrorist threats. It said it does not comment on individual cases.

“Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information,” the statement said.

Letts, 23, has been behind bars in a Syrian Kurdish prison since 2017.

In 2015, he posted on Facebook that he would like to perform a “martyrdom operation” on a group of British soldiers. But by the end of that year, he was indicating he wanted to come home.

Letts’ parents, who live in Oxford, were found guilty earlier this year of sending him money. They received a suspended sentence.

Organic farmer John Letts, 58, and former Oxfam fundraiser Sally Lane, 56, said they were acting as any parents would have when they tried to send their son cash after he begged for help. They say they believed he was in mortal danger and trapped in Raqqa, Syria.

Police warned the family that “sending money to Jack is the same as sending money to ISIS”.

Mr Goodale said terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/canada-disappointed-by-british-decision-on-jihadi-jack-1.899837

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Muslim group demands Trump pull court pick who defended Israel, 'ethnonationalism'

August 18, 2019

A prominent Muslim group called for President Trump to withdraw an appeals court pick they deemed “racist” for defending Israel as a Jewish state in a law review article years ago.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also claimed Steven Menashi, Mr. Trump’s pick for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has referenced an “Islamophobic online myth” in the past about American soldiers in the Philippines executing Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood as a way of spreading terror among the Muslim guerrillas.

Mr. Menashi also drew fire from MSNBC for his 65-page article in 2010 for the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. He argued ethnonationalism is an accepted part of liberal democracies, defending Israel as “a Jewish state.”

“Identification with a particular national group is a common-place,” Mr. Menashi wrote.

Liberal advocates said the article is troubling for a nominee at a time when white supremacy is threatening America.

“American democracy is founded on the principle that our rich national diversity is to be celebrated and that we as a people are united by our shared experiences and principles, not by our race or ethnicity,” wrote Robert McCaw, director of government affairs with CAIR.

The group called for the president to withdraw Mr. Menashi’s nomination.

CAIR’s opposition came after MSNBC’s host Rachel Maddow aired a 13-minute segment Thursday, attacking Mr. Menashi’s article saying he argued a country won’t be successful if it’s filled with different people.

Conservative groups jumped to Mr. Menashi’s defense, saying Ms. Maddow cherry-picked and distorted the article.

Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judiciary Crisis Network which supports the president’s judicial nominees, said the MSNBC host “should be ashamed of herself for the anti-Semitic rant she just launched.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition called Ms. Maddow “a disgrace.”

Full report at:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/aug/18/steven-menashi-trump-judicial-nominee-opposed-cair/

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Europe

 

French Muslim association to forge ahead with imam training plans despite Macron reticence

Colin Randall

Aug 14, 2019

A new French Muslim association is pressing ahead with plans to finance the training and payment of imams despite silence from President Emmanuel Macron on his long-promised initiative for the organisation of Islam in France.

Analysts believe the president shelved his intervention because of the crisis provoked by the Gilets Jaunes, or yellow vest, protests that disrupted the country for seven months.

Even now, when Mr Macron appears to have worn down the protesters, there is no word from the Elysee Palace on when — or indeed whether — he will finally reveal his proposals.

The Muslim Association for a French Islam was launched in January by Hakim El Karoui, a French-Tunisian former banker, now an author and a nephew of a former Tunisian prime minister, Hamed Karoui. Its ambitious twin aims are to unite French Muslims where other supposedly representative bodies have failed and combat extremism.

Mr El Karoui wants the association to raise funds from small levies on halal purchases and the organisation of Hajj travel packages.

This autumn, he plans to visit the UAE, hoping to meet officials and persuade them they can help foster a modern, integrated practice of Islam in France.

“I believe that the Emirates have a major role to play,” Mr El Karoui told The National. “They have never sought to contribute to the spread of political Islam. Secondly, they are in the forefront of the fight against this ideology.”

He said one part of his mission would be to explain the “situation of Islam in France” and in particular the role of political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood, listed by the UAE and several other countries as a terrorist organisation.

He also believes the UAE could contribute to an ideological counter-offensive to extremism by working on a “theological renewal”.

And he will present UAE officials with his 700-page study, The Factory of Islamism, published last year by the Paris-based think tank Institut Montaigne, where he is a senior fellow. He describes this as his analysis of “the fabrication of the Islamist political ideology with its wheels, organisations, leaders, financing, media, social networks”.

Mr El Karoui estimates that France needs about 1,000 professional imams “entirely dedicated to their profession”. Among those practising now, he said, a clear majority had diplomas but only a minority possessed degrees in theology or religious sciences.

With an eventual annual budget of €50 million (Dh205m), he calculates that AMIF could ensure all were salaried.

But this level of funding would come from donations as AMIF’s influence grew. For now, he sees an opportunity to raise €5-7m, a year from halal and Hajj, while training the first batch of 60 to 80 students would probably cost €1m a year.

He said the training and qualification of imams could be structured to respect “diversity of belief”, aimed at building a network of high-quality imams rather than imposing a single interpretation of Islam. But it would guarantee that the teaching and the transmitted principles “respect French republican values”.

Mr El Karoui previously told The National his objective is to encourage a “serene integration of Islam in France”, countering a discourse propagated by “Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood”.

Yet his new association is not untouched by suspicion of Muslim Brotherhood influence.

Guy Milliere, a neoconservative French academic and author based partly in the United States, told The National the main leaders of AMIF are — or were until recently — its members.

Mr El Karoui dismissed his claims as “just a joke”. He said a handful of board members had historic ties to the Brotherhood or its offshoots but had no lingering connection and were fully committed to promoting an Islam compatible with secular French society.

Tareq Oubrou, a prominent imam from the south-western city of Bordeaux, is the head of AMIF’s religious sister body.

Dr Milliere says the imam belonged until May 2018 to Muslims of France, which has sought to distance itself from the Muslim Brotherhood since its creation in 2017, but has struggled to shake off the legacy of ties between the brotherhood and its predecessor, the Union of Islamic Organisations of France.

Today, Mr Oubrou is widely known in France to have developed from more conservative leanings to strong advocacy of a liberal interpretation of Islam and strong opposition to radicalisation. He has publicly repudiated the Brotherhood.

ISIS issued a fatwa against him in 2016, calling for his murder as an “apostate” who had betrayed the terrorists’ vision of Islam.

Mr El Karoui said it was absurd to dredge up long-discarded affiliations of theologians now known to support integration. He said the greater modern threat was from the minority of younger Muslims who rejected the moderate views of such preachers and promoted a separatist ideology.

According to Thomas Guenole, a left-wing academic and commentator, the so-called Islamist menace in France has been greatly overstated.

He said research had shown about half of French Muslims “don’t really care about religion on a daily basis”. About a quarter were practising worshippers but broadly put integration and acceptance of French values ahead of religious principles.

“The remaining quarter tends to be poorer, less educated and employed but disapproves of republican values,” he told The National. “But what it shows is that 75 per cent are either not really religious or are religious but also integrated.”

Mr Guenole said that for a French Muslim body to be truly representative and effective, it had to demonstrate independence from both the government and foreign countries that have traditionally funded mosque building. He sees positive aspects of AMIF but questions its long-term idea of a appointing or electing a grand imam.

Despite their differences, Mr El Karoui, Mr Guenole and Dr Milliere all agreed that Mr Macron’s plans to reveal his blueprint for Islam in France had been sidelined by more pressing domestic issues.

“Mr Macron did not want to go too fast,” said Dr Milliere, who has written at the right-wing Gatestone Institute of France being “a country adrift [where] unrest and lawlessness continue to gain ground and disorder has become part of daily life”.

“He knew reorganising Islam in France would be controversial.

“I heard he wanted to act and take decisions in November 2018, but the yellow vest uprising changed his plans. For more than six months the main aim of Macron was to crush the uprising and to win the European elections. He was able to crush the uprising. He did not win the European elections but he was not severely defeated, so he thinks he can go forward.”

Nineteen months after the initiative was first mentioned, Dr Milliere’s comment raises the question of whether it will ever be seen. Mr El Karoui suspects it will; “it would be bad for him campaigning [for re-election] in 2022 to have promised a major announcement and delivered nothing”.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/french-muslim-association-to-forge-ahead-with-imam-training-plans-despite-macron-reticence-1.898120

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Former Al-Jazeera reporter Mohamed Fahmy warns of political Islam in France

Gamal Essam El-Din

18 Aug 2019

Mohamed Fahmy, a former Al-Jazeera English journalist who was jailed in Egypt on terrorism charges in 2013, said in a statement on Sunday that political Islamist institutions in France are now operating like a Trojan horse, moving quickly and seriously to spread radical Islam in French cities, towns, and villages.

Fahmy's statement, released accompanying a report titled 'The Fight Against Islamist Radicalisation in France' in the London-based The Investigative Journal (TIJ), said the report aims to ring alarm bells about the proliferation of radical political Islamist movements, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, in France and the role they play in spreading extremist Islamist thoughts in France.

"The French government should wake up to the reality of what is going on inside French Islamic communities, since the radical Trojan horse has been able to infiltrate French villages, towns, and cities," said Fahmy.

"Unless French politicians, officials and legislators move very quickly, a new generation of home-grown terrorists will be able to commit new atrocities like the ones which shocked the world and broke the heart of the French people in the past few years." Fahmy said that French President Emmanuel Macron should take the initiative himself to stem the tide of political Islamist movements in France.

"The report issued by the TIJ shows that the Muslim Brotherhood has gone a long way in radicalising French society and that President Macron should move to fight this radical Islam in France before it is too late," said Fahmy, adding that "President Macron should also move to disseminate France's modern and moderate version of Islam which helps Muslims integrate into French society and heals the wounds of the past."

"But the first step to meet this objective is to rid France of Muslim Brotherhood institutions and expel its leaders from the country," said Fahmy.

Fahmy said the TIJ report is based on varied and important sources and that it was prepared by an international journalist who has won media awards for his investigative reports.

The 21-page report was written by Taha Siddiqui, an award-winning Pakistani journalist who fled to Paris, France after narrowly escaping an armed abduction in January 2018. Siddiqui has reported for The New York Times, The Guardian, France 24, Al-Jazeera, Christian Science Monitor, The Telegraph, Arte, among others, and won the Prix Albert Londres in 2014 for his documentary on polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to the TIJ report, the Muslim Brotherhood, a political Islamist movement designated as a terrorist organisation in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, is heavily involved in using NGOs licensed by the French government as cover to spread their version of extremist Islam inside France.

"The London-based International Office of the Muslim Brotherhood provides generous financial assistance to different French NGOs, and helps the leaders of this group take control of these NGOs," said the report.

"Topping the list of these NGOs that have close links to the Muslim Brotherhood are the Union des Oranisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), Musulmans de France (MDF), and Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM)," said the report, which also shows in detail how these NGOs have become the Muslim Brotherhood's arms in spreading radical Islam in France.

Siddiqui interviewed Mohamed Louizi, a former MDF associate who gives details on how the MDF is being used by the Muslim Brotherhood to spread its agenda of radical Islam in France.

Louizi believes that the organisations that have Brotherhood influence and similar radical ideologies include the grand mosques in Bordeaux, Mulhouse, Reims, Le Havre, Decines-Chrpieu, Grenoble and Marseille.

"They are everywhere in French towns and villages and are keen to spread their radical ideologies," said Louizi.

Zineb El-Rhazoui, a Moroccan-born advisor to President Macron on French Islamic organisations, also told Siddiqui that the Muslim Brotherhood is a major motivator of radical Islam in France and that they are operating through local affiliates including the MDF.

"Also in recent years, Turkey and Qatar have become two countries that are trying to get influence through different Islamic NGOs in France," said Siddiqui, adding that she and a team of volunteers have recently started collecting information on radical speeches by Islamic thinkers in France and are sharing this information with the government.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/343976/Egypt/Politics-/Former-AlJazeera-reporter-Mohamed-Fahmy-warns-of-p.aspx

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Jihadi Jack: IS recruit Jack Letts loses UK citizenship

18 August 2019

A Muslim convert who joined the Islamic State group as a teenager has had his British citizenship revoked.

Jack Letts - nicknamed Jihadi Jack in the press - was 18 when he left school in Oxfordshire in 2014 to join IS fighters in Raqqa, Syria.

Mr Letts, who is a dual UK-Canadian national, was jailed after being captured by Kurdish YPG forces while trying to flee to Turkey in May 2017.

The Canadian government said the UK had "off-loaded" its responsibilities.

The Home Office said it would not comment on individual cases.

Mr Letts's parents said they were "shocked" by the decision, which they said was made without their son being contacted.

"It's kind of like you're [being] kicked in the gut," John Letts told Channel 4 News.

'Unilateral action'

A statement on behalf of Canada's public safety minister Ralph Goodale's office said: "Terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe.

"Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to off-load their responsibilities."

Canada added that it was aware some Canadian citizens were being detained in Syria, but there was "no legal obligation to facilitate their return".

"We will not expose our consular officials to undue risk in this dangerous part of the world."

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood said removing the radicalised fighter's citizenship "shunts the responsibility elsewhere" when many fighters were "radicalised here in the UK".

He added that Britain "should be leading calls" on how "foreign fighters face justice and who is ultimately responsible for bringing them to justice".

While the Home Office would not comment on the issue, a spokesman said: "Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information.

"This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe."

Mr Letts, who converted to Islam when he was 16, dropped out of studying for his A-levels at a school in Oxford in 2014 before moving to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State.

The jihadist terror group became known worldwide for its brutal mass killings and beheadings.

In an interview with the BBC's Quentin Sommerville, Mr Letts said: "I know I was definitely an enemy of Britain."

After being pressed on why he left the UK to join the jihadist group, he said: "I thought I was leaving something behind and going to something better."

He told ITV News earlier this year that he wanted to return to the UK as he felt British - but understood it was unlikely he would be able to.

"I'm not going to say I'm innocent. I'm not innocent. I deserve what comes to me. But I just want it to be... appropriate... not just haphazard, freestyle punishment in Syria," he said, at the time. .

Mr Letts's parents, John, 58, and Sally Lane, 57, were convicted in June this year of funding terrorism after sending their son £223.

The couple were sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, following an Old Bailey trial.

Under international law, a person can only be stripped of their citizenship by a government if it does not leave them stateless.

The decision to revoke Jack Letts of his citizenship is thought to be one of the last decisions made by Theresa May's government.

It comes after then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Shamima Begum of her UK citizenship earlier this year.

She was one of three girls from east London who left the UK in February 2015 and travelled to Syria, where she married an Islamic State group fighter.

Full report at:

But Bangladesh has said she is not a citizen and would not be allowed into the country.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-49385376

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UN reacts to deadly wedding hall attack in Kabul which targeted a Shia wedding ceremony

18 Aug 2019

The United Nations condemned the deadly bombing which targeted a wedding hall in West of Kabul city leaving at least 63 people dead.

The United Nations Assistance Mission said in a statement “On the evening of 17 August, a suicide attacker detonated explosives in the Shahr-e-Dubai Wedding Hall in West Kabul where approximately 1,000 people were gathered for a Shia wedding ceremony.”

The statement further added that UNAMA’s human rights team is looking into the incident and working to establish facts.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan  said “An attack deliberately targeting civilians is an outrage, and deeply troubling, as it can only be described as a cowardly act of terror.”

Yamamoto further added “I condemn these deliberate attacks on civilians that signal a deliberate intent to spread fear among the population, which has already suffered too much.”

The wedding hall where the attack took place is situated in an area of the city heavily populated by Afghanistan’s Shia Muslim minority, UNAMA said, adding that it has documented several previous attacks deliberately carried out against this community.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/un-reacts-to-deadly-wedding-hall-attack-in-kabul-which-targeted-a-shia-wedding-ceremony-03689/

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UK watchdog raised concern over Qatar-linked charity

August 18, 2019

LONDON: The UK charities watchdog warned about the “independence” of a British organization over its links to a Qatari group blacklisted as a terror organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Charity Commission intervened in 2015 when it found Qatar Charity UK was receiving almost all its funding from the Qatar Charity Qatar (QCQ), The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Qatar Charity UK, which later changed its name to Nectar Trust, was also funding projects “identified by QCQ,” according to a compliance report.

QCQ has been linked with the Muslim Brotherhood and was listed as a supporter of terrorism by the group of Arab countries that boycotted Qatar in 2017 over its links and support for extremist groups.

An investigation by French journalists found the Nectar Trust was allegedly used to fund multimillion-pound Brotherhood-linked projects in Britain and France.

The UK organization received £28 million from QCQ in 2017.

In the 2015 report, the Charity Commission raised concerns that all the trustees were linked to QCQ. The report also said Israel had banned the QCQ over its support for an organization that backs Hamas.

Nectar Trust was formerly run by Yousef Al-Kuwari, a Qatari official who remains as chief executive of QCQ.

He founded Islamweb, a website that has posted edicts encouraging Muslims to hate Jews and Christians.

Nectar Trust describes itself as a charity that aims to relieve poverty and help those caught up in war or natural disasters.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1541716/middle-east

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Turkish lawyers plan boycott over fears for judicial independence

Aug 18, 2019

At least 19 bar associations representing lawyers from provinces across Turkey, including the three largest cities, have said they will boycott an annual ceremony for the judiciary because it will take place on the grounds of the presidential palace.

Many said holding the ceremony in a location related to the presidency signals a lack of separation of powers.

The independence of Turkey’s judiciary has been hotly debated in recent years, especially since a crackdown on the judiciary and other state bodies following the July 2016 coup attempt and after the country switched to an executive presidential system in June last year.

Critics say courts are under the influence of politics. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party have repeatedly said the judiciary is independent and makes its own decisions.

According to Reuters’ checks of tweets and statements by the individual bar associations and their heads, at least 19 said they would not attend the ceremony, organised by Turkey’s top appeals court, the Court of Cassation, for the start of the judicial year at the Presidential Congress and Culture Centre in Ankara on September 2.

The 19 bar associations boycotting the ceremony, including those for the cities of Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, represent roughly 77 per cent of lawyers registered in Turkey’s 79 provincial bar associations as of December 31, 2018, according to data from the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB).

Mehmet Durakoglu, head of the Istanbul Bar Association, said the executive presidential system was damaging the separation of powers.

“At a time when discussions [on the separation of powers] are ongoing with the utmost intensity ... the choice of location for the opening ceremony is not a simple matter,” he wrote in a letter posted on his association’s website.

“The choice is extremely important in that it states the position of ... the Court of Cassation in these discussions.”

The ceremony was held at the Presidential Congress and Culture Centre in 2016 and again in 2018.

The TBB, an umbrella body, said on Saturday its head, Metin Feyzioglu, would attend the ceremony and make a speech, as is customary.

State-owned Anadolu news agency quoted the presidency of the Court of Cassation on Saturday as saying that most of the bar association heads who were invited had said they will attend.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/turkish-lawyers-plan-boycott-over-fears-for-judicial-independence-1.899801

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Turkey considered condemnation of ISIL for terrorism in France to be criminal evidence

Abdullah Bozkurt

August 19, 2019

A Turkish prosecutor listed the statement of a US-based Turkish Muslim scholar who lambasted the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for terrorist attacks in the heart of France in 2015 as criminal evidence against the scholar.

According to court papers obtained by Nordic Monitor, the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court accepted prosecutor Serdar Coşkun’s indictment that described the statement of Fethullah Gülen, a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as evidence against him in what was seen as a political witch-hunt trial to punish opponents of Turkey’s authoritarian Islamist regime.

In a strongly worded statement, Gülen condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 131 people, calling on everyone to join in rejecting terrorism “without ifs and without buts.” “Once again, I strongly condemn all kinds of terrorist acts that are perpetrated by anyone and for whatever stated reason,” Gülen said, describing the attacks as an “inhuman massacre.”

Stressing that he was in deep grief over the reported news of the heinous attack on innocent civilians, Gülen said, “These terrorist acts have dealt the greatest blow to peace and tranquility and must be considered by everyone as unacceptable crimes that should be condemned without ‘buts,’ without ‘ifs’ and without hiding behind any excuse.”

Extending his condolences to the families of the victims of the ISIL terrorism, Gülen also offered his condolences to François Hollande, the then-French president, and the French people. He wished the injured a speedy recovery.

“Terrorism is the foremost threat to human life, which is the most sacred and most universal value,” the Islamic scholar emphasized, adding that no religion, no idea and no viewpoint can be so corrupt as to approve such acts.

“A true Muslim can never be a terrorist and a terrorist can never be a true Muslim,” he said, reiterating the famous remarks he made immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, by the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

This statement was used in a case launched against the Islamic scholar in the Turkish capital, and the indictment, under file No. 2016/24769, incorporated the statement as if it were criminal evidence against Gülen. The court, overseen by presiding judge Selfet Giray, and member judges Salih Ay and Erhan Karakaya, did not bother questioning the inclusion of the statement and in fact repeated the same argument in a decision rendered on June 8, 2018. The reasoned decision was issued in January 2019.

The indictment accused 75 people of terrorism based dubious evidence because of their affiliation with the Gülen movement. Only four people – former lawmaker and journalist İlhan İşbilen, journalist and TV network General Manager Hidayet Karaca, Gülen’s cousin Kazim Avcı and media owner Alaeddin Kaya — were convicted and sentenced to aggravated life. The rest of the defendants live outside Turkey and did not stand trial.

This was not the first time Gülen has been an outspoken critic of radical Islamist groups. In 2014, Gülen also placed ads in leading US and European newspapers, including in France, to condemn the atrocities of ISIL against the backdrop of the murders of Alan Henning, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Herve Gourdel by ISIL.

In the ads, which appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and Le Monde, Gülen said ISIL’s actions were a “disgrace to the faith they proclaim and crimes against humanity.”

Stating that religion provides a foundation upon which to establish peace, human rights, freedoms and the rule of law, Gülen emphasized that “any interpretations to the contrary, including the abuse of religion to fuel conflicts, are simply wrong and deceitful.”

Referring to other terrorist organizations that claim the name of Islam, Gülen said ISIL was not the first group to “use religious rhetoric to mask its cruelty” and mentioned al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, which have in common “a totalitarian mentality that denies human beings their dignity.”

Gülen, who is known for inspiring the grassroots Hizmet movement, also known as the Gülen movement, with his peaceful teachings, reiterated the incompatibility of Islam and violence. “Any form of violence against innocent civilians or persecution of minorities contradicts the principles of the Quran and the tradition of our Prophet (peace be upon him),” his message stated.

“Suicide bombers will go to hell forever and they will be called to account for the innocent people they killed,” he noted.

The scholar, a vocal critic of corruption in the government, became the target of a witch-hunt by the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in the aftermath of a major corruption investigation that implicated senior ministers as well as the family members of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan.

Right after the corruption investigation went public with a wave of detentions on December 17, 2013, Erdoğan accused police officers, judges and prosecutors of a “coup attempt” and claimed that they were linked to the Gülen movement, which he branded a “parallel state.” Gülen strongly denied his involvement in the investigation, and the government has so far failed to present any evidence to back up its claims. Erdoğan also accused Gülen of masterminding a failed coup bid in 2016 but failed to support his claim with convincing evidence. Gülen denied any role in the coup and called for an international probe into it, which Erdoğan refused to consider.

Since the corruption scandals in 2013, the Islamist government has been unsuccessfully trying to brand Gülen, who is also opposed to political Islam’s manipulation of religion for political goals and personal enrichment, as a terrorist.

Full report at:

https://www.nordicmonitor.com/2019/08/turkey-considered-gulens-condemnation-of-isil-for-terror-in-france-to-be-criminal-evidence/

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Mideast

 

Turkish lawyers threaten boycott of Erdogan’s courts ceremony

August 18, 2019

ISTANBUL: Dozens of Turkish bar associations are threatening to boycott President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s planned ceremony to open the judicial year at the presidential palace, saying it would be another violation of the judiciary’s independence.

The boycott protest would be a first by law associations against Erdogan, who has faced increasing criticism from Turkey’s Western allies and rights activists over media freedoms and interference in the courts.

The European Union says Turkey’s judicial independence and the principle of separation of powers have been eroded since 2014 and that judges and prosecutors have come under increasing political pressure.

At least 42 bar associations including those for Istanbul and the capital Ankara said they would not attend the event on September 2 because they believe the ceremony should take place at the Supreme Court building, not the presidential palace.

“These past years have seen judicial independence being seriously undermined... The judiciary is under pressure from the executive,” Mehmet Durakoglu, head of the Istanbul bar association, said on Sunday.

“Under these circumstances, we would expect the ceremony for the opening of the judicial year to take place at a venue that represents the separation of powers, rather than a political location.”

Erdogan’s supporters dismiss criticism he has undermined Turkish democracy, saying his government faces domestic threats especially since a failed 2016 coup against him.

For many of his more conservative backers, he has brought prosperity and defended Turkey’s interests in his decade and a half in power.

The opening ceremony for the new judicial year was first held at the presidential palace in 2016 after the failed coup.

Since then authorities have arrested tens of thousands of people for alleged ties to the coup plotters, in what rights groups say is an unprecedented crackdown.

Erdogan has dismissed criticism over the ceremony, describing the presidential palace on the outskirts of Ankara as “the place of the people.”

“The ceremony taking place in the place of the people would only strengthen judicial independence,” the Turkish leader has said.

But for attorneys, the boycott decision represents a “reaction against violation of freedom of expression, rule of law and judicial independence,” said Dogus Aygun, another lawyer from the Istanbul bar association.

Critics say Turkey’s courts have bowed to pressure, often making rulings that favor authorities since massive purges in the judiciary following a corruption scandal in 2013 and the 2016 coup bid.

Durakoglu said the bar associations would keep up with their campaign for more judicial independence in Turkey even “at the expense of paying a heavy price.”

“We have no fear nor hesitation,” he said. “We see no solution other than keep on fighting.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1541611/middle-east

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Jordan reprimands Israeli ambassador over Temple Mount ‘violations’

18 August 2019

Israel’s ambassador to Jordan was summoned on Sunday by the Jordanian foreign ministry for a dressing down amid tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In a statement, Jordan’s foreign ministry said it stressed to Amir Weissbrod its “condemnation and rejection of the Israeli violations” at the holy site, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews and is under Jordanian custodianship.

The compound was the site of clashes between Muslim worshipers and police last week over the entry of Jews during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which this year coincided with the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av mourning the destruction of the two Jewish temples at the site.

Amman called for an immediate end of “these provocative and absurd violations,” which it said were “inflaming the conflict” and were a violation of international law.

Sufian Qudah, the ministry spokesman, said Weissbrod was told to inform the Israeli government that Jordan rejects any efforts to change the status quo at the Temple Mount.

The spokesman also said Jordan strongly rejected comments by Public Security Ministry Gilad Erdan that Israel should work to change the arrangements in place at the flashpoint site in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“In the meeting, it was also affirmed that the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Noble Sanctuary… is a place for Muslims to pray and worship only,” the statement said, using the Islamic name for the Temple Mount.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Weissbrod held talks at the Jordanian ministry, without giving further details.

Shortly before the statement was issued, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said he met with ambassadors from European Union states to stress the need for international measures to stop “Israel’s violations” of holy sites in Jerusalem.

“These violations & others seeking to change status quo in Holy Sites violate Int’l law, deepen tensions,” he wrote on Twitter.

Neither Safadi nor the foreign ministry spokesman specified what the alleged Israeli violations were, but the statement said Jordan rejected any closure of the Temple Mount’s gates to worshipers.

Ayman Safadi

@AymanHsafadi

Met #EU ambassadors to stress urgency of effective Int’l steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied #Jerusalem. These violations & others seeking to change status quo in Holy Sites violate Int’l law, deepen tensions. Value #EU positions & proud of our partnership

View image on Twitter

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As part of an arrangement in place since the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan, non-Muslims are barred from praying at the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.

Under the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries, Israel recognizes Jordan as the custodian of the Temple Mount and Jerusalem holy sites.

Days after the clashes, Erdan, whose ministry oversees police responsible for security at the Temple Mount, voiced support for changing the existing arrangements there.

“I think there is in an injustice in the status quo that has existed since ’67,” he told Israel’s Radio 90. “We need to work to change it so in the future Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”

He clarified that he opposes introducing such a change unilaterally.

“This needs to be achieved by diplomatic agreements and not by force,” Erdan said.

In a statement carried by the official Petra news agency, a spokesman for Jordan’s foreign ministry said the country rejected Erdan’s comments and warned that any change to the status quo at the Temple Mount could have serious consequences.

The spokesman said Jordan sent a letter of protest over the public security minister’s remarks through diplomatic channels.

Responding to the Jordanian statement, Foreign Minister Israel Katz defended Erdan and said Israel was the sovereign over the holy site, though he noted Jordan’s role as the Islamic custodian there.

Talk or even rumors of changes to the status quo arrangement at the holy site are typically met with vociferous protest from the Muslim world, which has accused Israel of attempting to “judaize” the site or expand access for Jewish pilgrims.

Jordan’s condemnation of Erdan’s remarks came after it slammed Israel for using force against Muslim worshipers at the Temple Mount after clashes erupted there.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as the Palestinians, also condemned Israel over the clashes.

Full report at:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/jordan-reprimands-israeli-ambassador-over-temple-mount-violations/

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Iran says waiting for court order to release British tanker

19 August 2019

Iran warned the US against seizing an Iranian oil tanker in open seas, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday, adding that the republic is waiting for a court order on the possible release of a British tanker seized by Iran.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/19/Iran-says-warned-US-against-seizing-Iranian-oil-tanker-in-open-seas.html

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Yemen’s Houthi militia says appointing ‘ambassador’ in Tehran

18 August 2019

Yemen’s Iran-linked Houthi militia has appointed an “ambassador” in Tehran, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said on Sunday, a step condemned by the internationally recognized government as a breach of international laws.

The Islamic republic made no announcement about accepting the appointment of an ambassador for the Houthis, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Al-Masirah TV said late Saturday that a “presidential decree was issued appointing Ibrahim Mohammed Mohammed al-Dailami as an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for the republic of Yemen to the Islamic republic of Iran.”

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi severed diplomatic relations with Iran in October 2015, accusing Tehran of providing military aid to the militia.

Tehran has denied the accusation but publicly offers strong political backing to the militia.

The Yemeni government denounced the naming of a Houthi ambassador.

معمر الإرياني

@ERYANIM

1-Exchange of diplomatic relations between Tehran regime and its proxy in Yemen the #Houthi_Militias, is not a surprising issue, it moved its hidden relationship into public, it also confirms what we have said from the beginning about this relationship, its nature and objectives.

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“The exchange of diplomatic relations between Tehran regime and the Houthi militias breaches the international laws and norms and contravenes United Nations Security Council resolutions related to the Yemen crisis,” the government said in a statement on Twitter.

Yemen's Minister of Information Moammar al-Eryani said the step was “no surprise”, and has exposed the hidden relationship between the Houthis and Iran.

معمر الإرياني

@ERYANIM

• Aug 18, 2019

Replying to @ERYANIM

2-This step breaches the Int’l laws, norms&contravenes UNSC resolutions related to🇾🇪crisis.This announcement during the ongoing crisis of hijacking oil tankers&the security of navigation in Hormuz Strait confirms the state isolation experienced by🇮🇷regime&its attempts to break it

معمر الإرياني

@ERYANIM

3-We emphasis on the Gov rights to take the necessary measures,protest to UN regarding this dev/,which is a flagrant violation of Int’l laws& customs.We call on Intl community to stand firm against the continued🇮🇷 interference in🇾🇪,its destabilizing policies of security&stability

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The announcement comes after Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held talks in Tehran on Tuesday with a Houthi delegation headed by the militia’s spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/18/Yemen-s-Houthi-militia-says-appointing-ambassador-in-Tehran.html

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FM Zarif in Finland at first leg of Scandinavian tour

Aug 19, 2019

At the first leg of a three-nation Scandinavian tour, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has arrived in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for high-level talks with European officials on ways to ease tensions in the West Asia region.

Speaking to reporters upon arrival in Helsinki, Zarif said "it is necessary to hold broad consultations" on ongoing tensions in the West Asia given the "special situation" of the region.

"Today the situation in our region is special, and broad consultations are needed on this issue. Today (Sunday) I was in Kuwait. I'm now visiting Finland, and then will head to Sweden and Norway at this stage. In the next phase, I'll visit a number of Asian countries and continue the talks with them," Zarif said.

"Especially ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York, it is necessary to work for such coordination given the currently special situation we have."

"Finland, Sweden, and Norway are all active in our regional issues; Sweden was responsible for the first Yemen summit, and Norway seeks to organize a summit on Afghanistan. So it is necessary to hold dialogue with these countries on regional issues as well," the Iranian top diplomat said.

Zarif pointed to an initiative for dialogue in the Persian Gulf set forth in the past by Finland, and said it is almost similar to the plan Iran has earlier raised.

"A few years ago I came here, Helsinki, and raised the initiative of a regional dialogue forum in the Persian Gulf, and the Finnish have always been interested in these issues," he noted.

Zarif raised the idea of a Regional Dialogue Forum for the first time in an op-ed article in The New York Times on April 20, 2015, where he argued that "the establishment of a collective forum for dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, to facilitate engagement, is long overdue."

In May 2016, he further elaborated on the initiative in his address to the fifth meeting of the Helsinki Policy Forum in the Finnish capital. In the speech, the Iranian top diplomat stressed the importance of increasing opportunities for dialogue in the region, particularly between the countries of the Persian Gulf.

Later in October 2017 and January 2018, Zarif repeated the calls for the formation of the Forum in an attempt to restore peace and stability to the region.

Also in an address to the Valdai Club Conference in Moscow in February 2018, Zarif called on the Persian Gulf states to work for the realization of “a historic paradigm shift” in the region through confidence-building measures, which “could eventually lead to a regional non-aggression pact.”

He later repeated the call for the non-aggression pact in various meetings, including in his Sunday talks with Kuwaiti crown prince, where he said the regional non-aggression agreement “trumps reliance on extraneous actors”.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Good talks with Kuwaiti Crown Prince & FM. Praying for Emir's speedy recovery.

Stressed that Iran's proposal for Regional Dialogue Forum and non-aggression pact trumps reliance on extraneous actors.

After short stop in Tehran to brief President, embarking on Scandinavian tour.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

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Tensions have been running high in the region since early May this year, when the US ordered the accelerated deployment of a strike group to the Persian Gulf, citing an alleged threat from Iran.

A week later, four oil tankers were allegedly sabotaged in the Emirati port of Fujairah. In early June, two other oil tankers were damaged by explosions in the Gulf of Oman. The US blamed both incidents on Iran. Tehran denied any involvement and said the incidents were “suspicious,” an indication that it believed the US may have been staging a false flag.

On June 20, a US spy drone and another, crewed aircraft entered Iranian airspace. Iranian air defense forces shot the drone down but chose not to target the craft with the crew.

Later, the UK seized a supertanker carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar, alleging that it was violating unilateral European Union (EU) sanctions by carrying crude for Syria. While Iran denied that the ship was bound for Syria, it condemned the seizure.

Tehran later impounded a British-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz for failing to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of international maritime rules.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/19/603900/Zarif-deescalation-Finland-helsinki-norway-sweden

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UN experts find British-made bomb parts at site of Saudi strike in Yemen

Aug 18, 2019

A United Nations panel of experts has discovered parts of British-made weapons in Yemen, which has been the scene of a bloody Saudi-led military campaign.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper said in a report published on Sunday that a guidance unit for a “high explosive” bomb – stamped with the name of a Brighton based company, EDO MBM Technology Ltd – had been found at an air-raid site in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

The site had attacked by the Saudi-led coalition in September 2016, with the UN panel saying the strike had breached international humanitarian law.

The UN experts also found British-made missile fragments at an industrial site following a second strike in Sana’a, which came nine days after the first one.

The attacks were launched one month after the UK decided to allow the export of weapons systems to Saudi Arabia.

The UK — a major supporter of the Saudi-led war —has licensed at least 4.7 billion pounds of arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the country launched the military campaign in 2015 to reinstate a former Riyadh-friendly government in Yemen, according to UN reports.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have lost their lives in the war, which has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/18/603887/United-Nations-British-weapons-Yemen

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Leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement warns Saudi Arabia

Aug 18, 2019

Hours after launching wide-scale operations deep inside Saudi territories, the leader of the Houthi Ansarullah movement delivered a televised speech. Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said the attack sent a strong message to Saudi Arabia and the UAE not to be a tool in the hands of the US and its allies.

Houthi also urged the Saudi coalition to stop the devastating war on its southern neighbor or face the consequences.

Experts say that the Yemeni army is capable of reaching any targets in what they describe the invading countries.

The Saudi Oil Ministry admitted Saturday's drone attacks and accused Ansarullah fighters of attempting to disrupt the flow of international oil supply.

Since the beginning of the Saudi war on Yemen, most of the country's infrastructure has been leveled to the ground and tens of thousands of Yemenis, mostly civilians, have been killed in airstrikes and other attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/18/603835/Yemen-Ansarullah-Movement--Leader-Saudi-Arabia

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Africa

 

Sudan's civilian opposition puts forward five sovereign council nominees

Aug 19, 2019

Sudan’s opposition coalition has named its five members for the country’s ruling sovereign council, a member of the civilian group said.

The civilian coalition chose Aisha Mousa, Siddig Tower, Mohamed Suleiman, Hassan Idris and Taha Ishaq after a power-sharing agreement was signed with the military, Sateh Al Hajj told Sudan’s official news agency Suna.

It should lead to a transitional government and eventual elections.

Long-time ruler Omar Al Bashir was removed from power in April after violent country-wide protests.

The Transitional Military Council has already announced three of its five candidates. They are council leader Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, Gen Mohamed Dagalo and Lt Gen Yasser Al Atta.

Both sides will work together to choose a civilian as the 11th and final member of the sovereign council, which will be the highest authority in Sudan but will delegate executive powers to a Cabinet of ministers.

The military members will select the head of the council for the first 21 months of the transition period, which will last three years and three months.

Sudan’s opposition has nominated economist Abdalla Hamdok for prime minister and he could be appointed this week.

Following the signing of the power-sharing agreement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country would support a path to “free and fair elections”.

The UK’s Africa minister, Andrew Stephenson, said: “I welcome this historic moment for Sudan. This agreement responds to the demands of the Sudanese people who have tirelessly called for change and a better future.”

https://www.thenational.ae/world/africa/sudan-s-civilian-opposition-puts-forward-five-sovereign-council-nominees-1.899827

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Al-Shabaab releases new videos documenting terror attacks

August 19, 2019

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, commonly referred to as Al-Shabaab is a jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa and has been actively engaged in terror activities. Al-Shabaab continues to conduct attacks in Somalia to achieve its aims. It primarily targets Somali Government interests and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, using mortars, rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and firearms.

Al-Kataib Media Foundation, the external media-department of the Somali Islamist group has been releasing videos documenting its terror activities. Al-Kataib media operatives usually accompany Al-Shabaab forces during a range of different operations, from base attacks to ambushes and raids on checkpoints, in order to record footage for later use in the militant group’s propaganda campaign.

The Al-Kataib Media Foundation is currently running a film series “Punish Them Severely in Order to Disperse Those Behind Them”, which takes its title from part of Quran 8:57.

The first instalment of the series was released on 20 April, 2013, and documented attacks by Al-Shabaab on the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Somali regional state, and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces throughout the country. On 23rd July and 28th July, the Al-Kataib Media Foundation released the 13th and 14th instalments of the series.

The 13th instalment of the series primarily featured the targeted ambush on a Hirshabelle regional state convoy carrying two regional MPs on 5th June 2018. The two MPs in question were Ismail Mumin Hilowle and Moallim Dahir Mukhtar, the latter of whom was the deputy chair of the Rage Elle district in the Shabeellaha Dhexe region.

The 6 minute 41 second video showed a column of approximately 20 militants setting up a roadside ambush in broad daylight along the road that the MPs’ convoy was travelling down in the Balad district of Shabeellaha Dhexe.

Using automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), Al-Shabaab stopped the convoy of several vehicles and killed Hilowle and Mukhtar, along with 10 of their uniformed bodyguards. After looting the captured vehicles, the militants set them on fire before withdrawing. In the film’s footage of the ambush, the silhouette of an Al-Kataib cameraman can be seen as he recorded the attack.

The second part of the video showed Al-Shabaab storming and capturing an FGS checkpoint in the town of Qalimow in Shabeellaha Dhexe, located approximately 9 km from the Hirshabelle state capital of Jowhar in the same region, although the film misidentified Qalimow as being in the neighbouring Shabeellaha Hoose region.

In the daytime attack, an unclear number of militants overran FGS positions and were shown chasing survivors into the surrounding countryside.

The fourteenth instalment of the series was 6 minute 40 second in duration and showed an attack on FGS positions in the town of Diif in the Afmadow district of Jubbada Hoose region in the Jubaland regional state, near the Kenyan border.

The exact date of the attack was not mentioned but security analysts contend that this footage may be of last May when there was intense fighting between FGS, Jubaland state, and Al-Shabaab forces in that area.

The film showed at least two dozen Al-Shabaab militants, armed with automatic rifles and RPGs, storming Diif in broad daylight, using main roads to approach the town.

The target of the attack, according to the film, was an “apostate [government] centre” in the town, which was soon captured and the Jubaland flag torn down and replaced with the black-and-white flag used by Al-Shabaab.

The video ends with footage of daytime improvised-explosive device (IED) attacks by Al-Shabaab on FGS and Jubaland state forces and images of dead government soldiers and of the booty the militant group captured in Diif, including a Kenyan identity card in the name of Bishar Ahmed Sheikh, a member of the government forces in the town.

Full report at:

https://www.newdelhitimes.com/al-shabaab-releases-new-videos-documenting-terror-attacks/

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Cameroon provides support to vigilante groups to fight against Boko Haram

August 19, 2019

The Cameroonian government on Saturday provided material and financial support to community defense forces, otherwise known as vigilante groups, in the country’s Far North region to fight against Boko Haram.

“This is a period when children will be returning to school and most of the vigilante groups have to intensify their activities to focus their attention on the protection of the civilians and the national territory. That is why the head of state decided to assist them materially and financially,” the region’s governor, Midjiyawa Bakary told reporters during a ceremony held in Logone and Shari division to hand over the assistance.

“Vigilante groups have been very instrumental in our fight” against Boko Haram and this assistance will go a long way to encourage and enhance their activities, Bakary added.

The assistance includes motorcycles, torchlights, telephones, hand metal detectors, raincoats, boats and financial supports.

According to the Cameroon army, the vigilantes, totaling some 14,000 in the region, have since 2014 provided critical intelligence to Cameroonian forces and sometimes confronted jihadists directly.

Full report at:

https://africa.cgtn.com/2019/08/18/cameroon-provides-support-to-vigilante-groups-to-fight-against-boko-haram/

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Nigeria: Boko Haram - 35,000 Killed So Far in Nigeria - UN

17 AUGUST 2019

An estimated 35,000 persons have lost their lives in the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States and other parts of Nigeria since the beginning of the conflict in 2009, the United Nations has said.

"These are 35,000 too many deaths," it said in a statement.

The agency also said 37 aid workers lost their lives in the course of their duties in the region.

This was disclosed in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in commemoration of its humanitarian day.

"In total, 37 aid workers have lost their lives in service of humanity since the beginning of the conflict. We are here together to honour them and their grieving families, relatives, and children surviving them.

"As I stand before you today, my thoughts also go to the families of our colleagues who are still being held captive by armed groups. The UN and its humanitarian partners call for their immediate release and return to safety.

"My heart also goes out to the families of the thousands of civilians who have been similarly abducted and whose whereabouts are still unknown," it said.

"Today, we are here together to remind the world that the humanitarian crisis hitting Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states is far from over.

"The less attention we pay to the crisis in the North-east, the more risks face our colleagues who are working in extremely volatile areas struck by violence and devastation.

"As respect for the laws of war weakens, aid workers are increasingly vulnerable, though they are more needed than ever before," it added.

Honouring the dead

The UN also acknowledged the female humanitarian workers deployed in the North-east and the ones who died in the line of duty.

"Women are active in every aspect of humanitarian action: from negotiating access to people in need to addressing deadly diseases such as measles and cholera. From reuniting separated children to ensuring people uprooted by natural disasters and conflict have shelter, access to clean water, healthcare, food and education," it said.

"Women humanitarians bring a unique perspective to this work through their understanding of the specific needs and priority of girls and women.

"And women humanitarians extend our global humanitarian access in parts of the world by their ability to reach women and girls who might otherwise be out-of-reach and bring them the information, support and services they need.

"Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, Hauwa Mohammed Liman; they were midwives with ICRC and were executed after being held in captivity by non-state armed groups for more than six months. Both aid workers were abducted from Rann town, Borno State in March 2018 along with a nurse from UNICEF who is still held in captivity.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201908180028.html

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Death toll from Tanzania fuel lorry blast rises to 95

Aug 19, 2019

The death toll from a fuel lorry explosion in Tanzania has climbed to 95, a hospital spokesman said on Sunday.

A fireball engulfed a crowd gathered to collect petrol from an overturned tanker last Saturday near the town of Morogoro, about 200 kilometres west of Dar es Salaam, the financial capital.

The tanker overturned when it swerved to miss a motorcycle.

The explosion killed dozens and others were taken to hospital with burns and serious injuries in one of the deadliest oil tanker blasts in Africa in recent years.

“Another death took place last night. It was a man who succumbed to his injuries,” said Aminiel Aligaesha, a spokesman for the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

On Saturday, Tanzanian authorities reported there had been 94 deaths.

Officials said the explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the lorry’s battery, making sparks that ignited the fuel.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/africa/death-toll-from-tanzania-fuel-lorry-blast-rises-to-95-1.899832

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2 al-Shabaab militants killed, 4 injured in southern Somalia

2019-08-18

MOGADISHU, Aug. 18(Xinhua) -- Two al-Shabaab militants were killed and four were injuried during an intense fighting with government army in southern Somalia on Saturday , a military official told reporters.

A fierce battle broke out in Eel Sanini, a village 15 km from Number 50 Airstrip in Lower Shabelle region after the militants attempted to attack a military base, said Aden Ahmed Ali,Somali National Army ( SNA)' Unit one commander.

"We got a tip-off that al-Shabaab militants moved towards our base and we intercepted them, there was a confrontation, but we overpowered them," said Ali.

"We killed two of the attackers and injured four others. Our forces are now pursuing the rest who ran towards El Dhanane neighborhood, "he added.

Residents said the fighting caused panic in the area.

"As we were on our daily business, heavily armed forces passed by our village, and minutes later we heard the sound of gun fire exchanges by government army and the militants," Hirsi Elmi, a local resident told Xinhua.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/18/c_138318429.htm

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Chad declares emergency after dozens die in ethnic violence

Aug 18, 2019

Chad President Idriss Deby declared a state of emergency in two eastern provinces on Sunday after violent intercommunal clashes left dozens dead earlier this month.

The state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions where 50 people have died since August 9 in fighting between cattle herders and settled farmers, the president's office said.

"From now, we will deploy military forces who are going to ensure the security of the population in the region," Deby said while on a trip to Sila.

"We must disarm all the civilians who have weapons in their hands," he said.

Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders -- many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails -- and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community.

Drought and population growth have aggravated the conflict while an influx of weapons from conflict-stricken neighbors have made it even more deadly.

Deby in particular blamed the unrest in Sudan, describing it as the "principal cause" of the ethnic violence.

Speaking earlier this month, the president had described the violence as a "national concern," adding: "We are witnessing a terrible phenomenon."

"Those with guns are not hesitating to shoot the police. We must wage a total war against those who carry weapons and are killing people," he said at the time. Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/18/603879/Chad-violence-state-of-emergency-clash-civilians-police

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Libyan navy rescues more than 300 migrants

Aug 18, 2019

The Libyan navy said Sunday 335 migrants had been rescued and one body recovered in separate operations off the coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.

He said they were from Ethiopia and Egypt.

It came days after Libyan navy patrols on Tuesday "rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats northwest and northeast of Tripoli", Kacem added.

The operations took place off the coasts of the cities of Khoms, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli, and Sabratha, located 70 kilometers west of the capital.

According to the statement, 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea, including 35 women and 11 children.

One body was also recovered by the coastguard.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.

In general, migrants rescued at sea are first met by humanitarian agencies that provide medical care and food.

They are then taken into the charge of the body working to combat immigration at the interior ministry of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord.

On August 9, the Libyan navy accused the authorities of failing to manage migrants rescued at sea, claiming that it could be forced to let people go free once brought back to land.

Despite the risks, migrants continue to attempt to reach Europe by sea, preferring to take their chances than stay in Libya, where they are subject to abuse, extortion and torture, according to humanitarian organizations.

Turkey seizes 330 migrants attempting to cross to Greek island

Turkish authorities have seized a total of 330 migrants attempting to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos, officials said on Sunday.

The coastguard in the Kucukkuyu area of the western Canakkale province said it had conducted seven operations to pick up migrants trying to make the crossing since Saturday evening.

The migrants seized were Afghan, Syrian, and Iraqi nationals, it said, adding that the number attempting to cross to Lesbos had surged recently and that 699 people had been seized since Aug. 10.

Mediterranean arrivals into the European Union, including migrants making the longer and more perilous crossing from north Africa to Italy, totaled 172,301 in 2017, down from 362,753 in 2016 and over a million in 2015, according to UN data.

Numbers declined sharply since 2015 after Turkey, in exchange for 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in European Union aid and a promise to ease visa restrictions for Turks, began to exert more control on migrants trying to cross to the EU via its territory.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/18/603864/Libya-Turkey-Europe-Greece-migrants-children

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Arab World

 

Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’

August 18, 2019

RIYADH: The Hajj and Umrah Ministry is investigating the inaccurate translation of the word “jamarat” into “anthrax,” which led to Sheikh Yusuf Estes making a video warning pilgrims of the mistake and its possible repercussions.

The translation concerned a bag that was a gift to pilgrims, containing small pebbles to use for the “stoning of the devil” upon their return from Muzdalifah. The bag had the correct original Arabic description, which roughly translates as “jamarat pebble bag,” whereas the English version of “jamarat” was translated into “anthrax,” a dangerous infectious disease.

According to SPA, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah was notified and opened an investigation with the contractor and translator on August 10, before handing them to authorities to take the necessary disciplinary action.

“Anthrax, where did they get that? They get it from Google, it’s not Google’s fault. Google allows people to tell the meaning of the different languages of words,” Sheikh Yusuf said in the video.

Google Translate, the free multilingual machine translator, relies on comparing large quantities of content between pairs of languages to establish patterns and, in most cases, determine the probability that certain words in one language will correspond with a set of words in another.

Putting Google Translate to the test, Arab News used the platform to translate a name of a type of fish known in the region as “sha’oor” from Arabic to English. The scientific term for the fish is Lethrinus nebulosus, a type of emperor fish most commonly known as the green snapper or sand snapper. 

Google Translate’s translation was “thickness of feeling.”

Though it yields imperfect results, the service can be used at a pinch, though real human translators rather than artificial intelligence are far more likely to lead to more accurate translations. 

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Gisele Riachy, director of the Center for Languages and Translation at the Lebanese University in Beirut, explained how the mistranslation of “jamarat” could have happened.

“We have two possibilities, it was either translated by Google Translate or the translator was provided with a single sentence and therefore didn’t understand the meaning of “jamarat,” she said.

“The translator may have not taken into consideration the general context of the word, which has certain religious connotations, therefore it should have been borrowed, translated by the “Stoning of the Devil” or even left as it is.”

Dr. Riachy said that the word anthrax cannot be translated without an accompanying adjective for a better explanation of the term.

“What surprised me is that when translating the word “jamarat” from Arabic to English, the word should have been accompanied with the adjective “khabitha,” or malignant in Arabic, for it to be translated to “anthrax” in English. That is why I am confused and I do not think Google Translate would have translated it into “anthrax” if the Arabic version didn’t include the word “khabitha.”

Sheikh Yusuf Estes’ video was intended for those who would like to take the small bags home as a souvenir or gift, sending a message that the mistranslation could cause the traveler trouble with customs in their own countries.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1541776/saudi-arabia

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Syrian forces battle rebels for key town, highway

August 19, 2019

BEIRUT: Pro-regime forces were locked in heavy fighting with insurgents on Sunday near a rebel-run town in northwestern Syria, leaving several combatants dead, a war monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “fierce clashes” between loyalist forces, jihadists and allied rebels were taking place one kilometre west of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province.

The latest fighting broke out overnight Saturday to Sunday and has already killed at least 45 jihadists and allied rebels as well as 17 members of the pro-regime forces, the Britain-based monitor said.

The town of Khan Sheikhun lies on a key highway coveted by the regime.

The road runs through Idlib, connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which was retaken by loyalists from rebels in December 2016.

Pro-regime forces are deployed around three kilometres from the road and have been advancing over the past few days in a bid to encircle Khan Sheikhun from the north and the west and seize the highway.

On Sunday they retook the village of Tel al-Nar and nearby farmland northwest of Khan Sheikhun “and were moving close to the highway,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

But their advance from the east was being slowed down due to “a ferocious resistance” from jihadists and allied rebels.

Syria’s former Al Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of the neighbouring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.

A buffer zone deal brokered by Russia and Turkey last year was supposed to protect the Idlib region’s three million inhabitants from an all-out regime offensive, but it was never fully implemented.

Regime and Russian air strikes and shelling since late April have killed more than 860 civilians, according to the Observatory, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.

On Sunday air strikes by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia killed two people, including a child, in the south of Idlib, the Observatory said.

More than 1,400 insurgents and over 1,200 pro-regime forces have been killed since April, according to the monitor.

The violence has displaced more than 400,000 people, the United Nations says.

Khan Sheikhun was hit by a chemical attack that killed more than 80 people in April 2017, attributed to the Syrian regime by the UN and international experts.

In response, US President Donald Trump ordered strikes on the regime’s key Shayrat airbase.

Now almost emptied of inhabitants, Khan Sheikhun sheltered almost 100,000 people before the start of the current military escalation, the majority displaced from Hama province.

“Many of these people have been displaced up to five times,” the UN’s regional spokesman for the Syria crisis, David Swanson, said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1500388/syrian-forces-battle-rebels-for-key-town-highway

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Syrian Army Takes Full Control of Key Regions Around Khan Sheikhoun

Aug 18, 2019

The Syrian Army units backed by artillery units engaged in fierce clashes with Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in Northwestern Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib and managed to take control of Khan Sheikhoun Farms and the strategic hilltop Elnar near Khan Sheikhoun City.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency, meantime reported that the Syrian Air Forces in consecutive attacks hit the terrorists’ military positions in Khan Sheikhoun, Rakaya, Kafar Sajneh and Sheikh Mustafa in Southern Idlib, destroying a number of their centers and military vehicles as well as movements.

A military source, meantime, pointed to the killing of tens of terrorists in the Syrian Army’s military operations, and said that the government forces have taken full control of Khan Sheikhoun’s Western to Northern frams.

It, meantime, reiterated that the Syrian Army captured the strategic al-Nar hilltop and paralyzed terrorists in military terms in the city of al-Rakaya and took full control of the Western part of Kafar Sajneh city.

The terrorist groups are losing their militants in Syrian Army's continued advances near Khan Sheikhoun and sustaining heavy defeats.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Syrian Army continued its military operations in Southern Idlib, and took control of new military points in the surrounding areas of Khan Sheikhoun as it tightened its grip over the strategic city.

The Syrian Army troops, backed by artillery and missile units, engaged in fierce clashes with Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at terrorists in al-Hobait road in Southern Idlib and took control of the town of al-Horsh al-Tavileh and Tal al-Arji near Khan Sheikhoun city.

Meantime, a military source noted that the siege has been laid on Khan Sheikhoun from the Eastern and Western sides in the Syrian Army’s recent advances, and said that at least 47 terrorists, including foreign militants, have been killed in recent clashes.

The Syrian Army is very close now to the strategic city of Khan Sheikhoun which is a key stronghold of the terrorists in Idlib province.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980527000468

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Saudi Crown Prince phones Sudan’s leadership after interim deal reached

19 August 2019

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday spoke on phone with Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council and with Ahmad Rabie, the leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change protest alliance group.

The Saudi Crown Prince also spoke on phone with the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

According to a statement on the Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Crown Prince “conveyed his congratulations on the historic agreement reached by all Sudanese parties.”

“During the conversations, the two leaders affirmed the Kingdom’s stance with Sudan and its people in a way that enhances security and stability after the historic agreement signed yesterday, pointing out that the stability of Sudan is an important part of the stability of the region,” the statement on SPA read.

 Sudan’s opposition coalition on Sunday named five people as civilian members of the country’s sovereign council to be sworn in on Monday.

A power-sharing agreement signed on Saturday paves the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. It provides for a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country but largely delegates executive powers to the cabinet of ministers.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/19/Saudi-Crown-Prince-phones-Sudan-s-leadership-after-interim-deal-reached.html

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Syrian troops close to western outskirts of opposition-held town

18 August 2019

Syrian state media and an opposition war monitor say government forces have gained more ground in the country’s northwest, almost reaching the western outskirts of a major opposition-held town.

The state SANA news agency says government troops made advances on Sunday around the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun after intense fighting with militants.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war, said the troops are now about 1 kilometer, or half a mile, from Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, the last major opposition-held area in Syria.

The government offensive in the northwest began on April 30 and has displaced more than 450,000 people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/18/Syrian-troops-close-to-western-outskirts-of-opposition-held-town.html

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Amnesty calls on Bahraini regime to allow ailing ex-MP to travel

Aug 18, 2019

Amnesty International has called on Bahraini authorities to lift a travel ban on a former lawmaker as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

The London-based rights group expressed grave concern over restrictions on the freedom of movement of Osama Muhana al-Tamimi, demanding officials in Bahrain to “allow him to travel unhindered,” Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.

Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam al-Saegh wrote on her official Instagram page on Friday that Tamimi was stopped at Bahrain International Airport as he was trying to travel to the Omani capital city of Muscat on board an Oman Air fight.

The former Bahraini legislator recently suffered a stroke, and his doctor advised him to receive medical treatment abroad due to a blood clot in his brain.

Tamimi entered Bahrain’s Council of Representatives after the by-elections of October 2011. He became known as a harsh critic of the Manama regime while in parliament and as one of the few Sunni parliamentarians willing to speak out against repression of Shia citizens.

He called for the resignation of Prime Minister Khalifah bin Salman Al Khalifah in an April 2012 speech. Tamimi called for the release of prominent human rights activist and prisoner of conscience Nabeel Rajab in another parliamentary speech on February 11, 2014.

On May 20, 2014, the Council of Representatives removed Tamimi from parliament in a secret vote following deliberations that were closed to the press.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established. Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/18/603868/Amnesty-Bahrain-lawmaker-travel-

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Syrian troops enter strategic town in Idlib after 5 years

Aug 18, 2019

The Syrian Army forces have entered the key town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province for the first time since 2014 after heavy clashes with terrorists and anti-government militants, a UK-based war monitor said.

The Syrian troops "entered the town of Khan Shaykhun for the first since they lost control of it in 2014," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The town serves as a major bastion for Takfiri terrorists in northwestern Idlib province.

Reports say clashes are underway between the Syrian forces and Nusra Front terrorists. The army operations have focused on Nusra fortifications in Khan Shaykhun, leaving many terrorists dead or injured.

Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of foreign-backed terrorists after the Syrian army, backed by Iran and Russia, managed to wrest back control of almost all of the country's land, undoing militants’ gains.

The government forces have gained more ground against Takfiri militants in the southern edge of Idlib in their latest offensive that was launched last week.

On Sunday, Syrian army troops and their allies established full control over Kfaridoun and Sabbaghiyah farms, which lie in an area between the towns of Madaya and Kafrsajna.

Earlier in the day, Syrian soldiers managed to regain control over Tal Kfar Idoun area, which is located west of a key highway that connects the capital Damascus with the strategic northern city of Aleppo.

They also managed to retake the village of Tel al-Nar and nearby farmland northwest of Khan Shaykhun on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/18/603892/Syria-Khan-Shaykhun-idlib-terrorists-army

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