Practicing Islam is forbidden
in parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or
wearing a hijab facing arrest [Thomas Peter/Reuters]
Chinese Decree Seeks To 'Guide Islam', As Crackdown against Muslims and Islamic
Bans Muslim and Jewish Religious Slaughtering Practices, Drawing Praise and
Decline In Muslim Birth Rate, Rise in Hindu; ISEC Cites These Reasons
FM in Hot Water after Remarks on Two-State Solution
of 9/11 Documents Will Have Devastating Consequences for US Deep State: Hackers
Fatah Closes All Its Offices in Gaza ‘In Anticipation Of Attack’
KSA Promoting Peace, Unity, Tolerance in Muslim Ummah
Chinese Decree Seeks To 'Guide Islam', As Crackdown against Muslims And Islamic
Kasim: Religious and race-based parties one step away from Nazism
Hadi gamed by Umno, now defending Tabung Haji scandal to save face
minister Mat Sabu says his son, nabbed in a drug raid, must face the law
Years after the Rushdie Fatwa, Europe Is Moving Backward
the Muslims on the Queen’s New Year Honours list
Debates Where to Teach Arabic: Public School or Local Mosque?
Mosque Cancels Event Honouring Muslims Who Saved Jews amid Backlash
120,000 attending, here are the details of Pope Francis’s mass in UAE
Modi’s Muslim PR Man Holds Hush-Hush Meet with Nadwa Rector
stand on mob lynching unfortunate; NIA terrorizing Muslims: Mufti Mukarram
IS module case: NIA arrests 21-year-old for supplying arms
corridor: Farmland needed for new road, minister urges NHAI to quicken up
7 Set To Be Public Holiday In Egypt Marking Coptic Christmas
Military Equipment Still Deployed in Northern Syria
Army Reinvigorates Positions in Aleppo
Al-Sham Takes Control of West Aleppo in Clashes with Rival Terrorist Group
warns Syria against use of chemical weapons
Kurds seek deal with government regardless of US pullout
State Department says Saudi version of Khashoggi murder 'not credible'
British soldiers injured in Syria Daesh missile attack
Syria pointman to also serve as anti-ISIS envoy
Russia, Iran cited by US govt as biggest 'national security threats'
says ready to give all documents to US probe team on Gulen
sentences Palestinian teen to 11 years in prison over alleged stabbing attack
attacks target warehouses storing Yemen food aid
days after abduction, Uzbek doctor dies in Houthi prison
Griffiths arrives in Yemen Sanaa to push Hodeidah truce
MP says corruption convicts ‘must be executed in public squares’
of elections, Turkish opposition angered at new electoral body amendment
supports peace process, democracy in Afghanistan: Deputy FM
president confirms Jerusalem al-Quds embassy move
Seeks Ex-Envoy Hussain Haqqani’s Extradition from US
Underscores Need To Promote Muslim Unity
injured in Peshawar IED blast
joint military exercise ‘Warrior-VI’ concludes in Kharian: ISPR
crown prince arrives in Islamabad on day-long visit
says he never received a warrant
leaders’ provocative remarks under political compulsions threat to regional
calls on Fazl, discusses political situation
termed bid to disrupt peace in Peshawar
Special Forces Rescue 12 People from a Taliban Prison in Helmand
forces kill 17 Taliban in Uruzgan, destroy tunnels and IED factory
border police soldiers, 16 Taliban killed in Kandahar clash
deputy shadow district chief killed in Faryab airstrike
security personnel wounded in Kabul magnetic bomb explosion
alleged Rohingya drug dealers found dead in Bangladesh
authorities release Al Arabiya correspondent after questioning
protesters plan March as Bashir sacks health minister
laments Israeli ties advice as unrest continues
authorities seeking 37 suspects over attacks on oil, military facilities
to appoint a new envoy to Somalia
by New Age Islam News Bureau
has passed a new law that seeks to "Sinicize" Islam within the next
five years, the latest move by Beijing to rewrite how the religion is
main English newspaper, Global Times, reported on Saturday that after a meeting
with representatives from eight Islamic associations, government officials
"agreed to guide Islam to be compatible with socialism and implement
measures to Sinicize the religion."
newspaper did not provide further details or the names of the associations that
agreed to the decree.
has embarked on an aggressive "Sinification" campaign in recent years
with faith groups that were largely tolerated in the past seeing their freedoms
shrink under Chinese President Xi Jinping, China's most powerful leader since
Islam has been made forbidden in parts of China, with individuals caught
praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab, a headscarf worn by many
Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion, facing the threat of
to the UN, more than one million Uighur Muslims are estimated to be held in
internment camps where they are forced to denounce the religion and pledge
allegiance to the officially atheist ruling Communist Party.
groups have accused China of engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. In
August, a Washington Post editorial said the world "can't ignore" the
campaign against Muslims.
crescents and domes have been stripped from mosques, and according to the
Associated Press news agency, religious schools and Arabic classes have been
banned and children barred from participating in Muslim activities.
has rejected the criticism, saying it protects the religion and culture of its
in the past week alone, authorities in China's Yunnan province, which borders
Mynamar, have closed three mosques established by the marginalised Hui Muslim
ethnic minority, the South China Morning Post has reported.
— A Belgian ban on the Muslim and Jewish ways of ritually slaughtering animals
went into effect on New Year’s Day, part of a clash across Europe over the
balance between animal welfare and religious freedom.
both animal rights advocates and right-wing nationalists pushing to ban ritual
slaughter, religious minorities in Belgium and other countries fear that they
are the targets of bigotry under the guise of animal protection.
is impossible to know the true intentions of people,” said Yaakov David
Schmahl, a senior rabbi in Antwerp. “Unless people state clearly what they have
in mind, but most anti-Semites don’t do that.”
across Europe and European Union regulations require that animals be rendered
insensible to pain before slaughter, to make the process more humane. For
larger animals, stunning before slaughter usually means using a “captive bolt”
device that fires a metal rod into the brain; for poultry it usually means an
electric shock. Animals can also be knocked out with gas.
slaughter by Muslim halal and Jewish kosher rules requires that an animal be in
perfect health — which religious authorities say rules out stunning it first —
and be killed with a single cut to the neck that severs critical blood vessels.
The animal loses consciousness in seconds, and advocates say it may cause less
suffering than other methods, not more.
countries and the European Union allow religious exceptions to the stunning
requirement, though in some places — like the Netherlands, where a new law took
effect last year, and Germany — the exceptions are very narrow. Belgium is
joining Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia among the nations that do
not provide for any exceptions.
De Greef, director of Global Action in the Interest of Animals, a Belgian
animal rights group, insisted that stunning does not conflict with kosher and
halal doctrine, and “they could still consider it ritual slaughtering,” but the
religious authorities refuse to accept that.
want to keep living in the Middle Ages and continue to slaughter without
stunning — as the technique didn’t yet exist back then — without having to
answer to the law,” she said. “Well, I’m sorry, in Belgium the law is above
religion and that will stay like that.”
with a population of about 11 million, is home to roughly 500,000 Muslims and
over 30,000 Jews. Those who adhere to their religious rules will soon be forced
to order their meat from abroad, which community members say will mean paying
more, and could even lead to food shortages.
of both groups say they hope that lawsuits they have filed in Belgium’s
Constitutional Court might still lift the ban on slaughtering without stunning
later this year.
government asked for our advice on the ban, we responded negatively, but the
advice wasn’t taken,” said Saatci Bayram, a leader of the Muslim community.
“This ban is presented as a revelation by animal rights activists, but the
debate on animal welfare in Islam has been going on for 1,500 years. Our way of
ritual slaughtering is painless.”
Roets, a lawyer representing an umbrella organization of Islamic institutions,
said that the ban was motivated more by stigmatizing certain groups than
concerns over animal welfare. The government could take other steps to reduce
animal suffering, he said, “without violating the Belgian freedom of religion
and the European regulation regarding this matter.”
law that took effect on Tuesday applies in the northern Belgian region of
Flanders; a similar one will take effect later this year in the southern region
idea for the ban was first proposed by Ben Weyts, a right-wing Flemish
nationalist and the minister in the Flanders government who is responsible for
animal welfare. Mr. Weyts was heavily criticized in 2014 for attending the 90th
birthday of Bob Maes, who had collaborated with the Nazi occupation of Belgium
in World War II and later became a far-right politician.
rights groups applauded the legislation. When it was approved by the Flemish
Parliament in June 2017, Mr. Weyts hailed the vote on Twitter, writing: “Proud
animal minister. Proud to be Flemish.”
politicians in several countries, particularly those opposed to the presence of
growing Muslim populations, have seized on the issue of religious slaughter as
an example of Western societies bending over backward to accommodate minority
truth is that this measure was an easy win, which had the backing of large
parts of the population concerned with animal rights,” said Mr. Bayram, aligning
them, at least momentarily, with the far right.
Schmahl cited another Belgian law that was recently enacted, to regulate home
schooling — a common practice in his community — as an example of a pattern of
laws in Europe making it increasingly difficult for observant Jews to live
according to their traditions.
definitely brings to mind similar situations before the Second World War, when
these laws were introduced in Germany,” he said.
Decline in Muslim birth rate, rise in Hindu; ISEC cites these reasons
Data released by the Registrar General of India stated that 9.3 lakh births
were registered in families of Hindus, 1.6 lakh in Muslims and 6,431 in
Christians in Karnataka in 2017.
report, reveals an increase of 0.2 per cent in Hindu child took birth in 2017,
compared to 2016 report. On the other hand, there has been a decrease of 5 per
cent in Muslim birth and 13 per cent in Christians in comparison to the
registered deliveries in 2016. In 2016, 9.3 lakh Hindu, 1.7 lakh Muslim and
7,369 Christian newborns were registered.
General of India compiled the data based on information submitted by the
reported by ToI, Prof CM Lakshmana, head of the Population Research Centre at
the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), has attributed the dip in
Muslim and Christian families to changing trends in education levels,
acceptance and family planning. He, however, said no particular reason could be
stated without an in-depth study.
FM in hot water after remarks on two-state solution
Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim angered his cabinet peers this week
after expressing support for the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian
believes in a two-state solution to end the Palestinian crisis with Israel,”
Hakim said, prompting some members of the Iraqi parliament to demand that he
not to take such sensitive stances without consulting the cabinet and the
Hassan Shaker of the Construction Alliance said that it was not the minister’s
place to make the statement.
does not represent Iraq officially, but represents his individual viewpoint,”
a parliamentary bloc named “the coalition of state law,” led by former Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki, called on the House of Representatives to take strict
measures against the foreign minister.
the uproar, the ministry released another statement reiterating Iraq’s support
for the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Iraqi ministry “confirms Iraq’s historic and fundamental stance on the
Palestinian cause and supporting the rights of the Palestinian people to
liberate their land and their people and to establish an independent state with
al-Quds as its capital,” the media office of the ministry said in a statement.
ministry also said that “Iraq supports Arab and international peace
initiatives, including the Arab Peace Initiative, which was presented at the
Beirut summit in 2002 and has become a permanent item on the agenda of
subsequent Arab summits,” it added.
of 9/11 documents will have devastating consequences for US deep state: Hackers
Dark Overlord hacker group has threatened with leaking thousands of secret
documents that it says will have devastating consequences for the US "deep
state," that collection of members of permanent employees of the
intelligence, security and diplomatic services who operate independently of
changes in the administration as, in essence, a permanent government.
group has already released decryption keys for 650 documents it says are related
to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but it is just a fraction of the 18,000 secret 9/11
documents probably stolen from insurers, law firms, and government agencies, RT
website reported on Friday.
hackers at the Dark Overlord have described the secret the September 11
documents as "the 9/11 Papers."
September 11 attacks were a series of strikes in the US which killed nearly
3,000 people and caused about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure
officials assert that the attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists
but many experts have raised questions about the official account.
believe that rogue elements within the US government, such as former Vice
President Dick Cheney, orchestrated or at least encouraged the 9/11 attacks in
order to accelerate the US war machine and advance the Zionist agenda.
Dark Overlord announced on Wednesday a "tiered compensation plan" in
which the people could make payments in bitcoins to unlock the troves of
documents related to 9/11.
the announcement, the Dark Overlord said that people paid them $12,000 in
bitcoin which are enough to unlock "layer 1" and several
according to the group, there are four more layers that are still encrypted and
"each layer contains more secrets, more damaging materials… and generally
just more truth."
the initial document dump, Twitter suspended the account of the Dark Overlord.
hackers have demanded $2 million in bitcoin for the public release of "the
Fatah closes all its offices in Gaza ‘in anticipation of attack’
spokesperson of Palestinian Fatah faction in Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Atef Abu
Saif said that Fatah decided to close all its offices in Gaza “In anticipation
of any attacks on them until further notice.”
Friday evening, armed men raided the headquarters of Palestinian Authority
media , causing damage to equipment.
one claimed responsibility for the attack on the media offices, but Palestinian
officials blamed Hamas for what happened.
is deeply involved in this conspiracy,” said Ahmed Assaf, chairman of the
Palestininan Broadcast Corporation (PBC), speaking to the channel in the West
Bank city of Ramallah, according to Reuters.
PBC issued a statement saying the attack was a “clear reflection of the
mentality of the Hamas movement and criminal gangs who believe only in their
voice, and who seek to suppress freedoms”.
Assaf nor the PBC offered any evidence for their accusations, and Hamas
officials swiftly condemned the incident.
happened is rejected, and we condemn it,” Eyad Al-Bozom said in a statement
issued by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza. He urged the station’s
officials to cooperate with investigators.
is noteworthy that PBC stopped working completely in the Gaza Strip following
the Hamas takeover of Gaza in the summer of 2007, but resumed work partially in
2011. Around 500 radio and television employees work in Gaza Strip.
has long been antipathy between Hamas, which won the last Palestinian
parliamentary elections in 2006 and is opposed to any peace negotiations with
Israel, and with Abbas’s more moderate and secular Fatah faction.
two Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas have failed to end the divisions since
has brokered a Palestinian reconciliation pact that provides for Hamas to cede
control of Gaza to Abbas, but a dispute over power-sharing has hindered
implementation of the deal.
KSA promoting peace, unity, tolerance in Muslim Ummah
Muslim Unity through endorsing true message of humanity and coexistence given
by Islam direly needed to establish peace and stability in the society and
counter violence, extremism and terrorism. This was underscored by speakers of
the seminar titled ‘Role of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Islamic Republic of
Pakistan in Promotion of Muslim Unity and Social Peace’ organized by Jamia
Salfia Faisalabad in collaboration with the Islamic Research Institute (IRI)
Islamabad on Saturday.
Islamic International University (IIUI) Dr Ahmad Yousuf Al Darwesh, who is
originally from Saudi Arabia, Islamic Research Institute Director General Prof
Dr Zia ul Haq, Prof Dr Humayun Abbas Shams from GC University Faisalabad and
Wafaq ul Madaris Salfia Faisalabad Secretary General Maulana Yasin Zafar spoke
on the occasion. A large number of ulema, academicians, intellectuals,
representatives of civil society and seminaries students attended the event.
on the occasion, the speakers highlighted the role being played by Saudi Arabia
and Pakistan in promotion of peace, unity, tolerance, coexistence and diversity
in the Muslim Ummah and discussed ways to support constructive dialogue among
different cultures and religions while emphasizing the importance of respecting
and upholding the basic principles of justice and human rights as preached by
said Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative of the government of Pakistan was the best
tool to deal with growing extremism and intolerance in the society and to
encourage the people belonging to different walks of life towards positive and
constructive activities in order to realize the dream of building a peaceful
society. Saudi Arabia is also focused on peaceful solutions to several conflicts
and is undertaking various mediation efforts, they said, adding that an
assembly of institutions has already been established by Saudi Arabia to
strengthen the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.
a separate event titled ‘Role of Ulema for Peace in Society in the Light of
Paigham-e-Pakistan’ held at the Deputy Commissioner Office Toba Tek Singh in
collaboration with Islamic Research Institute and the Government of Punjab, the
speakers said that Muslim unity was the need of the hour. They urged ulema to
play their role for the progress, prosperity and stability of the country by
forging unity and harmony.
on the occasion, IRI Director General Dr Zia ul Haq stressed that the people
should be educated according to the teachings of Islam, saying Islam preaches
peace, religious tolerance and equality. He stressed the need for strengthening
religious seminaries in the country with a view to promote peace and humanity.
The event also sensitized the religious scholars, seminaries students and civil
society about the horrific dangers and risks associated with the wave of
terrorism and extremism and briefed them vis-à-vis ways and methods to
safeguard the community from these threats.—INP
LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Prominent human rights lawyer Siti Kasim today called for the
removal of political parties in the country based on religion and race, which
she described as being “one step away from Nazism”.
outspoken proponent of equality said religious and race-based parties in the
country have chalked up a record of being divisive rather than inclusive and
reminded Malaysians to be critical and call politicians to be accountable.
political parties exist solely based on two of the most divisive premise in
human history, their contribution to society at large will be net negative.
This is because their objectives and implementation of their vision is
predicated on the bigotry of ‘my kind is the kind that matters’ premise.
of looking at what is best for society at large and then seeing how to
accommodate the special interests that need assistance for the overall good,
race and religious-based parties look at what is best for their kind first, at
the expense of society at large. Additionally, such racial and religious
parties not only heighten divisiveness but also easily hijacked by demagogues.
dare say all religious and race-based parties are just one step away from
Nazism,” she wrote in her column in The Sunday Star today under the title
“Governance and the maturity of Malaysian politics”.
noted that the concept of a herrenvolk or “master race” had been adopted by
Adolf Hitler's Nationalist Socialist Workers’ Party in Nazi Germany to exploit
and eventually eliminate those they deemed to be of an “inferior” race.
the Nazis thought they were the Herrenvolk — Master Race — and they considered
themselves to be pure Aryans, every other race was inferior, with some like
Slavs, Romany and Jews at the bottom of the ladder, and while the Aryans had to
be kept pure, the bottom could be exploited, hated and eventually liquidated.
Volksgemeinschaft was thus inherently racist and contributed greatly to the
Nazis’ attempts at mass extermination,” she said, referring to the systematic
mass murder of some six million Jews in Europe during World War Two.
also said religious-based parties are an “anachronism of time” and should have
no role in politics today.
will take one step further with respect to religious-based parties; they are an
anachronism of a time when societies were run by shamans, witch doctors and
spiritual advisers to despots and kings, rather than civilised logical
societies,” she said.
criticism against her as being anti-religion, Siti said she is calling for an
objective and “inclusive” civil discussion on the role of religion in politics
as she acknowledged it is “impossible” to separate the two in majority-Muslim
am not anti-religion, but religion shouldn’t have a place in political
decisions. This isn’t a slam on religion; it’s a call for inclusive political
debate. In a society where most people (politicians in particular) have some
sort of faith that guides their decisions, it’s impossible to have a true
separation of faith and state.
I am suggesting is we create and support a system where political decisions are
made based on arguments that stand on their own merits without a religious
crutch or, to put it another way, 'my holy book tells me so' is off limits as
an argument,” she said.
said critical Malaysians should base their arguments on logic rather than
taking the word of those purported to be learned in religion as is.
said Malaysians also still have a stereotyped perception of politicians.
society still looks at politicians as potential Municipal Councillors rather
than Legislators — unless they become Ministers. then they take an oversized
need a complete revamp in our societal-mindset. Our education system and the
media need to play a role in educating the public in this respect,” she said.
urged the public to be more critical of their elected representatives and
remind them of the power of their vote by demanding accountability.
need to demand from politicians and officials answers to tough questions. We
need to make them uncomfortable with the questions and the follow up to such
questions. Grilling politicians for truth and facts, instead of lobbing
softballs and backing off for fear of being disrespectful must be a Malaysian
are aspiring job seekers for public service. Elected and appointed politicians,
Councillors, State Assemblymen, Members of Parliaments, Ministers, and even the
Prime Minister, are all civil servants. They came to us for a job and now we
have to be respectful of them? No! They must be respectful to us. We are the
bosses,” she said.
Syed Jaymal Zahiid
LUMPUR, Jan 5 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had only wanted to
avert humiliation and save his own face by framing the Lembaga Tabung Haji
(LTH) financial scandal as the work of anti-Islam elements, Rafizi Ramli
PKR vice-president said Hadi is employing racial tactics to divert attention
from a backfired political strategy that intended to make then prime minister
Datuk Seri Najib Razak beholden to PAS.
claimed it was Najib that manipulated PAS instead by using the Islamists to
shield his administration from Malay backlash after details of the alleged
corruption at the pilgrimage fund began to surface, a mistake that Hadi is
trying to cover up now.
PAS entourage visited Tabung Haji, attended a briefing and the following moment
declared it was satisfied with the financial management,” the PKR leader said
in a statement.
indirectly made them the ‘kingmaker’ in the Tabung Haji issue, and they implied
that I had made the allegations [about the financial problems] up.
when evidence slowly emerged, PAS was entrapped. If they backpedalled and
agreed [to my exposés] it would have tainted the president’s image because
prior to that they became the panel that cleansed off the corruption,” he
was responding to a speech Hadi made before students in the United Kingdom last
week, where he claimed the LTH scandal detractors were only targeting the fund
as part of an attack on the Islamic faith.
said he had first exposed the fund’s dubious finances in 2013, and more had
last month, audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said in its report that LTH
failed to recognise a total of RM549 million in impairment losses of
investments in several associate companies and subsidiaries.
fund had also failed to report its fair value losses in investment properties
and impairment of investment in available-for-sale debt security totalling RM77
said LTH had intentionally excluded the impairment losses from its financial
submissions so it could prop up revenue in order to pay out dividends to
depositors. The dividends instead came from deposits by new depositors.
PKR leader then said Hadi may have been “confused” by the explanation given by
LTH officials loyal to the previous administration. He also chided the PAS president
as lacking the necessary knowledge to understand basic accounting.
Rafizi said Hadi was ultimately irresponsible for deflecting the scandal. The
PKR leader said the PAS as an Islamic party should have been the most vocal in
voicing their protest when the allegations surfaced since they affected Muslim
added Hadi instead opted to do defend what he called the indefensible.
there is no profit and losses are concealed, where did the money for dividend
came from? It came from new deposits,” he said.
kind of investment is no other than a get-rich-easy or pyramid scheme, which
gives the impression of huge profits to lure new money in and use that money to
pay the initial depositors. In time the pyramid will collapse.
LUMPUR - Malaysia's Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said on Saturday (Jan 5) that
his son was picked up by the police after testing positive for drugs.
he wants the 31-year old man to be dealt with by the law.
Mohamad, know widely in Malaysia as Mat Sabu, confirmed local media reports
that his son Ahmad Saiful Islam Mohamad was arrested in an anti-vice raid by
police early on Saturday.
this arrest, my family and I leave the matter entirely up to the authorities to
act in accordance with the process of the law," he said.
son, like the children of others, is also subject to the country's legal
processes," Mr Mohamad, 64, said in a Facebook post on Saturday evening.
was learnt that Ahmad Saiful was picked up by a combined team involving the
Dang Wangi Narcotics Crime Investigation Department and its Secret Society,
Gaming and Vice Division, The Star newspaper reported on its website.
raid was conducted early on Saturday along the Jalan Ampang area, one of Kuala
Lumpur's major thoroughfares that has many nightspots and restaurants.
close to the investigation confirmed that Ahmad Saiful tested positive for
was among the 101 people that were inspected during the anti-vice raid, The
was known that he was among two persons who were detained for testing positive
for the drug.
Sinar Harian newspaper reported that Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Deputy
Commissioner Zainuddin Yaacob had confirmed the incident.
case is being investigated under the penal code for drug abuse. Not much is
known about Ahmad Saiful.
father, on the other hand, is a popular politician in Malaysia.
Mohamad is president of Parti Amanah Negara, one of the four factions that made
up the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
is a moderate Islamic party, formed in 2015 after a group of leaders broke away
from conservative Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). Mr Mohamad was deputy president
Years After the Rushdie Fatwa, Europe Is Moving Backward
opening of 2019 marks two dark events in the recent history of free speech: the
fourth anniversary of the attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie
Hebdo and the 30th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling
for the killing of the British-Indian author Salman Rushdie. Both of these
events were immediately recognized as attacks against foundational European
values. Neither event, however, occasioned any concerted defense of the values
in question. Instead, Europe’s highest institutions are now as likely to affirm
laws against blasphemy and religious offense as they are to overturn them.
Charlie Hebdo murders on Jan. 7, 2015, were an especially instructive case in
point. On that day, the brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi burst into the
magazine’s offices and executed 12 people, including cartoonists and
journalists. Before fleeing, the brothers shouted, “We have avenged the Prophet
Mohammed!” whom Charlie Hebdo had lampooned in several disrespectful cartoons.
These executions might not have been too shocking to 18th-century Europeans.
(In 1766, Jean-François de la Barre was decapitated and then burned along with
a copy of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary for his “monstrous, execrable
blasphemies against God … and the Church.”)
European leaders, by contrast, were quick to condemn the attack and reassert
their commitment to free speech. European Council President Donald Tusk
expressed his shock at the “brutal attack against our fundamental values,
against freedom of expression which is a pillar of our democracy.”
despite the unanimous rhetorical support for free speech after Charlie Hebdo,
blasphemy bans have become more firmly anchored in some parts of the continent
in recent years. In a recent case, the European Court of Human Rights even
reaffirmed that European human rights law recognizes a right not to have one’s
religious feelings hurt. The court based its decision on the deeply flawed
assumption that religious peace and tolerance may require the policing rather
than the protection of “gratuitously offensive” speech. Accordingly, it found
that Austria had not violated freedom of expression by convicting a woman for
having called the Prophet Mohammed a “pedophile.”
have argued that the court’s decision was a necessary defense of an embattled
Muslim minority vulnerable to bigotry and religious hatred. But laws against
religious insult and blasphemy are generally different from hate speech
laws—which are problematic in themselves—that purportedly protect people rather
than abstract religious ideas and dogmas.
laws against blasphemy and religious insult frequently protect the majority
against minorities and dissenters. In Spain, the actor and activist Willy
Toledo was arrested and now faces prosecution for “offending religious
feelings” after being reported to the police by an association of Catholic
lawyers. Toledo had written a particularly salty Facebook post: “I shit on God
and have enough shit left over to shit on the dogma of the holiness and
virginity of the Virgin Mary.” Toledo’s Facebook rant was provoked by the
criminal investigation of three Spanish women’s rights activists who paraded a
giant effigy of a vagina through the streets of Seville, imitating popular
the court will have to consider the case of the Polish pop star Doda, convicted
of “religious insult” after giving an interview in which she was less than
respectful of Christianity: “[I]t is hard to believe in something that was
written by someone [the authors of the Bible] wasted from drinking wine and
smoking some weed.” In Russia—also subject to the jurisdiction of the court—a
2013 blasphemy law has been used to target social media users as well as
political protests, and those convicted may end up on a government list of
“extremists and terrorists.”
cases stand in stark contrast to how European democracies have approached the
question of blasphemy and free speech at the United Nations. For more than a
decade, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) attempted to introduce a
global blasphemy ban by passing annual resolutions against “defamation of
religions.” But in 2012, the OIC’s then-secretary-general, Ekmeleddin
Ihsanoglu, had to admit defeat under pressure from democracies, human rights
organizations, and activists, with the United States and European democracies
taking the lead. “We could not convince them,” Ihsanoglu said. “The European
countries don’t vote with us, the United States doesn’t vote with us.” This
crucial victory for free speech was followed by statements from U.N., European
Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Council of
Europe bodies and experts, all stressing the incompatibility of blasphemy bans
with free speech under international human rights law.
breaking with this consensus and failing to crystalize the protection of
blasphemy and religious insult into legally binding human rights norms, the
court has failed to offer an expansive protection of free speech for Europeans
affected by such laws. But the court’s reasoning and the continuous enforcement
of blasphemy bans in European democracies also help lend legitimacy to laws
punishing blasphemy and religious offense in states where blasphemy is a matter
of life and death.
2010, the OIC proposed a resolution based on the wording of Ireland’s blasphemy
ban (since repealed). Then U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or
belief encouraged European democracies to abolish blasphemy bans since they
provide cover for illiberal countries where such bans are used to persecute
minorities and stifle religious dissent. The consequences for those targeted
are often extreme.
Oct. 31, 2018, Pakistan’s Supreme Court surprisingly acquitted Asia Bibi, a
Christian woman who spent eight years on death row due to a blasphemy
conviction. Then in December, just weeks after Bibi’s acquittal, two brothers
were sentenced to death in Pakistan for posting “derogatory remarks in respect
of the Holy Prophet.” Saudi Arabia sentenced Ahmad al-Shamri to the death
penalty for blasphemy and atheism in 2017 after he had tweeted irreverently
about the Prophet Mohammed and Islam. And in 2018, Mauritania adopted a law
making the death penalty mandatory for “blasphemous speech.” In countries such
as Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Egypt, dozens of people convicted of
blasphemy languish in prison, many simply for belonging to religious minorities,
professing unorthodox religious opinions, or advocating secularism. But running
afoul of the law may not always be the worst consequence of violating blasphemy
norms. Several of the countries that punish blasphemy also experience vehement
mob violence aimed at religious dissenters.
acquittal of Bibi caused mass demonstrations in Pakistani cities, with
protesters demanding not only the killing of Bibi but also the deaths of
Supreme Court justices who applied secular principles of due process rather
than religious dogma. Bibi’s lawyer fled Pakistan out of fear that he might be
killed, as became the fate of the politician Salman Taseer, who criticized his
own country’s blasphemy laws after Bibi’s initial conviction. Bibi is currently
in hiding so as not to suffer the same fate as the Afghan woman Farkhunda
Malikzada, who was beaten, dragged behind a car, stoned, burned, and left as
human garbage by a mob after being accused of burning the Quran.
intolerant mob violence makes a mockery out of the court’s argument that it may
be necessary for democracies to punish religious offenses. The oppressive
history and practice of blasphemy laws cannot be washed away by insisting that
the protection of religious feelings pursues the interest of tolerance and
religious peace. Having your innermost convictions questioned, criticized, or
mocked does not threaten these crucial values—indeed, a tolerant society is one
that allows this questioning. The main threat to social peace comes not from
those who challenge religious dogma but from those willing to kill for it,
whether on the streets of Islamabad or Paris.
the past decade, a growing number of European countries have recognized that
laws against blasphemy and religious insult are neither compatible with their
commitment to freedom of expression nor defensible in a world where religious
minorities and dissidents face the death penalty, floggings, or lengthy prison
sentences for following their conscience. The United Kingdom, Iceland, the
Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Malta, and Ireland have all abolished blasphemy
bans. Still, around 20 percent of European countries formally criminalize
either blasphemy or religious insult.
no longer lives in hiding, but the fatwa still formally remains in force 30
years after it was issued. And while Charlie Hebdo continues to outrage right,
left, and center, its continued freedom to do so comes at the price of an
annual $1.7 million in security costs. Against this backdrop, there could be no
better occasion for European democracies to lay the crime of blasphemy to rest
the Muslims on the Queen’s New Year Honors list
A record number of Muslims have been named in the Queen’s New Year Honors list
for achievements ranging across technology, the arts, business and community
the 1,148 recipients recognized in the list are Aamer Naeem, CEO of the charity
Penny Appeal; Nasar Mahmood, chairman of the British Muslim Heritage Center;
and Supt. Umer Khan of Greater Manchester Police, who all received an Officer
of Order of the British Empire (OBE) for community work.
Malik Ramadhan, head of the accident and emergency unit at the Royal London
Hospital, who operated through the night on 12 victims of the London Bridge
terror attack in June 2017, also received an OBE.
Kalam Azad Choudhury, who founded the Azad Choudhury Academy and Welfare Trust,
received a Master of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to
education in Bangladesh, and immigration officer Jahaid Ahmad received the same
award for services to law and order.
Vaid, 34, executive director of the Muslim Women’s Network, who four years ago
helped to set up the charity’s helpline to assist women fleeing forced
marriages or at risk of so-called “honor” violence, was also appointed an MBE.
call myself a Muslim feminist,” said Vaid. “My faith tells me I need to stand
for equality and justice.”
entrepreneur Mustafa Suleyman, who co-founded the artificial intelligence lab
DeepMind, was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
for services to the UK technology industry.
people in their early 20s are still trying to decide what to do with their
lives. Not Saeed Atcha.
age 22, he is already CEO of his own magazine publishing venture, a trustee of
several charities, a trainer, mentor and motivational speaker. The British
government has also spotted his talent and, in November, he was appointed
social mobility commissioner.
Atcha has become the youngest person named in the Queen’s New Year Honours
list, receiving an MBE for services to young people in the Manchester region,
where he has lived all
is the custom, he was told about the award several weeks ago but was sworn to
secrecy until the official announcement. “I am the worst person at keeping a
secret, so I told my closest family and a couple of close friends — four people
in all — and then put it to the back of my mind,” Atcha told Arab News.
I got the letter asking me if I would accept it, I thought it might be a joke.
I didn’t realize you could refuse it. So I checked and realized this was real.
You really don’t expect an honor like this, especially at my age. I was quite
emotional about it.”
said that his faith had helped him through difficult times. The grandson of
Indians who emigrated from India in the 1950s and settled near Manchester in
northwest England, Atcha spent much of his childhood in foster care. His mother
has a neurological condition that meant she was not always able to look after
was only 2 when he first went into care. He was reunited with his mother when
he was 5, but six years later went back into foster care with relatives.
his own admission he was “a tearaway” as a teenager. “I didn’t have a criminal
record, but I was not the easiest child,” he said.
rebellious streak led him to start Xplode, a magazine for young people, after a
teacher reprimanded him for focusing too much on the school magazine instead of
studying for his GCSE exams.
of a school magazine, I decided I would produce a borough-wide magazine.”
approached the assistant director of the local council to ask for office space
and within a week was installed in an office in Bolton town center with support
to source funding. He was 15.
never been afraid to go to the top,” he said. Next he acquired funding and a
business mentor from O2, the mobile network company.
is produced entirely by teenagers and young people for their own peer group.
More than 7,500 copies are distributed to schools, colleges, supermarkets and
has since set up Employ, which has helped more than 5,000 young people improve
their chances of finding employment.
is also a trustee for three charitable organizations and is on the board of
governors for his old school. Somehow he fits it all around studying for a
master’s degree in public relations at Manchester Metropolitan University.
believes he carries a triple responsibility. “I’m young, I’m a Muslim and I
come from a disadvantaged background. Muslims sometimes marginalize themselves.
The idea that in one of the most advanced countries in the world, a young
person can’t escape the path of disadvantage because of their postcode or their
parents’ income or because they’ve been in care, offends me.”
Atcha attended the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh. “I’ve never been to a
conference attended by 6,000 young people. If only I could return to Saudi
Arabia more often. The government is really investing in young people there,
which is essential for our future, as my personal journey shows.”
those GCSE exams that his teacher was so worried about? Atcha passed them all.
With flying colors.
was 21 when he fell in love with dance, which is on the late side if you want
to make a career out of it. But he soon
made up for lost time. At 58, he can look back on a career as a performer and
manager that has taken him all over the world and culminated in an OBE for
services to dance and dance production.
are not generally seen to have a strong tradition of dance, unlike poetry and
literature. But Chaudhry said that his OBE is recognition of the wealth of
talent in the Muslim world.
wonderful. It is a testament to how, despite all the paranoia and the
negativity about the Muslim world and what it brings, it is such an important
source of talent and it is making a difference to how we live our lives. It’s a
big message because it shows that all the work on integration and celebrating
diversity is bearing fruit.”
was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and was 3 when he came to Britain with his
parents. His father had been a professor of mathematics in Pakistan, but had to
take a job as a security guard, while his mother, who was from a wealthy
family, worked on the assembly line at a bakery.
was 17 when he was first captivated by a contemporary dance performance at the
famous Sadler’s Wells theater in London. He had embarked on an English degree
at the University of Sussex, but abandoned his studies in favor of a career in
enrolled at the London Contemporary Dance School, graduating in 1986, “which
was quite late.” But he has worked consistently in opera and theater in Germany
and Belgium as well as the UK.
retiring from dancing in 1999, he completed a master’s degree in arts
management. Eighteen years ago, he sold his apartment to raise cash to found
the Akram Khan Company with dancer Akram Khan, a specialist in kathak, a north Indian dance style.
running the company, Chaudhry was also a creative producer for Chinese dancer
Yang Liping and for the English National Ballet for four years.
is delighted that so many Muslims have been honored. “It thrills me, actually.
Every single person I’ve seen on that list has earned it. There hasn’t been any
political correctness about wanting to ensure they get enough black and brown
and Muslim faces. It’s a testament to the breadth and scope of the awards, and
how they see value in a society.”
is one of a rare, but growing, breed — a Muslim woman who is also a qualified
51-year-old was the first, certainly in her locality if not the whole UK, when
she qualified in 1995. Since then she has inspired other Muslim women to
improve their health and reduce social isolation through exercise.
also fundraises for a children’s hospice in her home city, Leeds, and four
years ago established a charity, Give a Gift, to get British Asians involved in
charitable work. Her efforts have been recognized with an MBE.
who was born to Pakistani immigrants, had an inkling that something was afoot
when a letter arrived marked “Cabinet Office.” Her husband, Hanif, had received
a similar one in 2016, telling him that he had been nominated for an OBE.
Nevertheless, it still left her “shocked and overjoyed.”
honoring of so many British Muslims was gratifying, she said. “When something
appears in the media, it’s always related to extremism and we get linked with
that. It’s fantastic for Muslims to be recognized for the good work they are
faith is my first and foremost reason for what we’re doing. We do what we do to
help anybody and everybody.”
soon as she qualified as a fitness
instructor in October 1995, Malik was approached to start fitness classes for
Pakistani and Bangladeshi women in Leeds. Research showed they were at risk of
developing chronic health problems, but social isolation, poor language skills
and cultural tradition prevented them from taking exercise.
was given my first class within a week,” said Malik, who speaks Urdu and
Punjabi. The classes took off and she has now helped more than 40 women from
ethnic minorities go on to qualify as instructors.
charity work includes the Ramadan Toys Appeal. She has also raised more
£100,000 for Martin House Children’s Hospice, which is used by more than a
third of Muslims living in the West Yorkshire region of England.
France — Early on Sunday mornings, Habiba Hatem, 9, prepares her own breakfast,
grabs her flashy pink school bag and jumps into her father’s car — bound for
Arabic lessons at her local mosque in a suburb north of Paris.
sketches of how to perform ritual washings decorate the walls of the classroom,
along with drawings of butterflies, cars and carrots, with their Arabic names
we are going to do a dialogue about ‘duyuf’ coming for dinner,” the teacher
tells Habiba and a dozen other boys and girls ages 9 to 17, all born in France.
“Duyuf means guests,” she says, writing the word on the blackboard.
grandparents came from Tunisia in the 1960s, and her father believes it is
important that his child stays connected to her roots.
the public school she attends does not offer Arabic classes, so she makes the
weekly trip to the mosque in Romainville, a part of the Seine-Saint-Denis
department north of Paris, which is home to a large immigrant community.
Hatem family’s situation is a common one in France.
three million people use Arabic on a daily basis in France, making it the
country’s most spoken foreign language, according to the Culture Ministry. But
Arabic is barely taught in public schools, so mosques and private associations
have stepped in to address this educational gap.
the government is growing worried about an increasing number of students
learning Arabic outside the state’s oversight.
part of France’s fight against extremism, the Education Ministry announced in
September a plan to take back control of Arabic teaching “in order to provide a
secular curriculum rather than the one offered by associations, which can drift
toward radicalization,” the ministry’s spokeswoman said.
Blanquer, the education minister, says he wants to give Arabic “prestige,” as
it is “a great literary language.”
the ministry wants to promote the study of Arabic and make classes more readily
available, it has not provided many details about the plan, other than to say
that Arabic teaching will be strengthened alongside that of Russian and
most French schools will have to start their Arabic programs from scratch.
0.2 percent of students in public middle and high schools in France took Arabic
classes in the 2017-2018 school year, putting the language far behind the
widely taught English, Spanish and German.
addition to the pedagogical challenges of jump-starting Arabic programs in
public schools, there are social and political obstacles, as well.
Abdel Nabi, who teaches Arabic at two public high schools, as well as at
Sorbonne University in Paris, said public school principals were reluctant to
open classes, saying, “‘No, we don’t have enough Arabs here,” or “‘No, we don’t
want to attract Arabs.’”
ministry’s plans is causing particular alarm on the political right. Luc Ferry,
a former education minister, suggested that the measure was tantamount to
allowing Islamism in public schools.
Dupont-Aignan, a right-wing lawmaker who endorsed Marine Le Pen in the second
round of the 2017 presidential election, said, “With the pretext of fighting
against fundamentalism, Blanquer is paving the way to the Islamization of
many leaders in the Arabic community support the Education Ministry’s plan.
Benjemaa, the president of the Muslim association at the mosque where Habiba
attends classes, said the public school classes would be of higher quality than
religious ones. The Quran-based courses at the mosque, he said, can rely too
heavily on memorization rather than allowing students to express themselves.
professors have a lot of passion and good will, but they are not trained
teachers,” Mr. Benjemaa said. “They didn’t pass national exams.”
class at the mosque starts with a prayer. That is not how lessons begin at the
Claude Monet high school in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, one of the few
French public schools offering Arabic.
the teacher opens the lesson by using LinkedIn to show students how many jobs
are open to them if they speak Arabic. One student, Imène, 13, used to learn
Arabic at the Grand Mosque of Paris, but stopped going once she started taking
classes in her public middle school.
Cossé, the school’s principal, said that offering Arabic prevented families
with Arab origins from sending their children into the hands of people who
could “radicalize” them.
secular Arabic classes in public school prevents the language from becoming the
hostage of religion or extremism,” she said.
position is supported by a report on the spread of political Islam in France by
the Institut Montaigne, a policy research think tank. “Arabic classes have
become the best means for Islamists to attract young people into their mosques
and schools,” the report states.
many argue that the government’s rhetoric around the new policy sometimes
dangerously conflates the Arabic language, Islam, political Islam and religious
the education minister underlines that learning Arabic at school celebrates
Arabic culture and civilization, this decision is mainly taken in the name of
the fight against Islamist radicalization,” said Sarah Mazouz, a researcher at
the state-run National Center for Scientific Research.
Mazouz, who studies discrimination and naturalization, said that such an
approach confirmed an “anchored stereotype that Arabic is the language of
fanatics and obscurantists.”
has long been a popular and uncontroversial subject at public universities in
France, where the language is viewed as a valuable asset for careers in
business and diplomacy. At Sciences Po, an elite university in Paris, there are
37 teachers of Arabic, compared with 180 such teachers across all of France’s
at the primary- and secondary-school levels, the Education Ministry’s plan has
spurred resistance because of the role French schools are expected to play in
shaping a shared national identity, Ms. Mazouz said.
France there is a strong belief that it is the public school that forms the
French, that produces French citizens no matter their origin or their parents’
history,” Ms. Mazouz said.
university students who have been through the process of “becoming French” are
encouraged to learn Arabic, any attempt to teach it in public schools, she
added, has been perceived by some as a deviation from that path, one that will
promote a hyphenated identity of French-Arabs.
does Habiba, who speaks French at school, with her friends and at home think of
her own efforts to learn Arabic?
Mosque Cancels Event Honouring Muslims Who Saved Jews Amid Backlash
key point of contention was the collaboration between the mosque and Yad
Vashem, a Jewish organisation that focuses on preserving the memory of the
exhibition at the London mosque, which was devoted to Muslims who helped save
Jewish lives during the Holocaust, has been cancelled without an official
explanation, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported. The cancellation of
the event, held by the Centre for Islamic Understanding in Golders Green, was
preceded by Muslim protests that were largely fuelled by statements of Roshan
Salih, the editor of a Muslim media outlet called "5 Pillars".
man slammed the organisers of the exhibition for preparing it "in
conjunction with Israeli oppressors ", suggesting that the Centre
shouldn't have done it in collaboration with Yad Vashem, a Jewish holocaust
memorial organisation. Salih praised the mosque for "responding to
community concerns" and cancelling the event.
Jewish activist who helped the Centre for Islamic Understanding organise the
exhibition, Rabbi Natan Levy, stressed the importance of remembering how
"Jewish and Muslim communities have historically always supported each
other". Levy hopes that by spending time together and better understanding
their "commonalities and differences", Jews and Muslims will learn to
stand as "united front against hatred".
UAE is set to host the first mass held by Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi next month,
which will be attended by some 120,000 people, including some of the region’s
mass will take place on February 5 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu
distribution of invitation cards to attend the mass will take place across
churches in the Arabian peninsula,” The National quoted Paul Hinder, the
Catholic bishop of the southern Arabian Peninsula, as saying.
newspaper added, although 120,000 people will attend the mass, many others will
not be able to attend because of the difficulty of obtaining invitation cards
as they are limited, Hinder said, but he stressed that those unable to attend
will be able to see the mass through live broadcasts to be sent to all churches
Francis’s visit to the UAE is part of a campaign to promote tolerance among
people of different faiths, under the banner of “human brotherhood.”
the Vatican announced that the Pope’s visit comes at the invitation of the
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Catholic
Church in the UAE.
Vatican said the theme of the visit is “make me a channel of your peace,” words
taken from the prayer of St. Francis Assisi, whom the Pope chose as his
namesake when he was elected as the head of the Catholic Church.
Pope’s visit logo will be a dove shaped in the colors of the Emirates and the
Vatican with an olive branch, in reference to the Pope’s visit to the UAE as a
messenger of peace.
visiting the UAE directly, Pope Francis will visit Panama, where he will
participate in the International Youth Days from 22 to 28 January.
his visit to the UAE, the pope will visit Morocco from March 30 to March 31.
Modi’s Muslim PR man holds hush-hush meet with Nadwa rector
Zafar Sareshwala, former chancellor of Maulana Azad Urdu University, and better
known as PM Modi’s public relations man in Muslim circles, held a closed-door
meeting with the president of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Rabe
Hasan Nadvi in Lucknow late Friday.
two prominent Muslim scholars have learnt to have discussed the emerging
political scenario involving the community, including Ayodhya, triple talaq and
role of Muslims in 2019 elections.
the meeting, the two Muslims leaders expressed concern over lynching and
selective targeting of the community by the right-wing fringe.
meeting with Nadvi, rector of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema, assumes significance
in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
to TOI, Sareshwala, who is also viewed as Modi’s emissary by Muslims, said, he
told Nadvi that Muslims should not be provoked by rogue elements, but display
their prowess “at the time of casting their vote”.
once a bitter Modi critic during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, but later mended
fences with him, said Maulana Nadvi was satisfied with the way PM Modi
supported the Muslim demand of abiding by SC verdict on Ayodhya before bringing
an ordinance. “This is what the community sought,” he said, adding the PM also
supported minority community.
Delhi: Shahi Imam Masjid Fatehpuri Mufti Mohammed Mukarram Ahmed appealed
Muslims to pay attention towards education and training of children. He told
this during Friday sermon. He asked to engage children in some or other
activity so that their life is not ruined.
Imam said strict action is needed against mob lynching and mere condemnation is
not enough. He lamented that NIA is terrorizing Muslims by conducting raids in
Delhi and Amroha. It should not arrest innocent Muslims on the basis of mere
suspension and should not seize domestic items. He expressed hope that no one
could produce evidence against the Muslim youth in the court and they will be
National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday said it has arrested an arms
supplier in connection with its ongoing probe into the new Islamic State (IS)
senior NIA official in New Delhi said the agency has arrested 21-year-old Naeem
in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut on Thursday night.
official said that Naeem has been involved in the supply of weapons to the
accused persons in the case, who were allegedly planning to attack some
political personalities and security establishments as well as crowded places
in Delhi and the National Capital Region.
December 26, the NIA arrested 10 persons, including group leader Mufti Mohammad
Suhail, after the counter-terror probe agency carried out searches at 17 places
— six in east Delhi’s Jafarabad area, six in Amroha, two each in Lucknow and
Hapur and one in Meerut.
agency also seized a country-made rocket launcher, 12 pistols, 112 alarm
clocks, 100 mobile phones, 135 SIM cards, several laptops and various
electronic gadgets, besides 150 rounds of ammunition.
the arrest of the 10 persons, the NIA also carried out follow-up searches in
several cities of Uttar Pradesh to identify more suspects of the new IS module.
also rounded up many people for questioning.
NIA also seized 25 kg of explosive material, such as potassium nitrate, ammonium
nitrate, sulphur, sugar material paste, mobile phone circuits, batteries, 51
pipes, remote control car triggering switch, wireless digital doorbell for
remote switch, steel containers, electric wires, knife, sword, IS-related
literature and Rs 7.5 lakh in cash.
the arrested members of ‘Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam’ are in NIA custody.
Kamaldeep Singh Brar
NEW road will be constructed to link the Dera Baba Nanak-Kalanaur road with the
International border as part of Kartarpur Sahib corridor into Indian territory.
India and Pakistan had held ground-breaking ceremonies for Kartarpur corridor
in the last week of November. This corridor is to provide visa-free access to
Sikh devotees in India to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib around 4 kilometres inside
construction work on corridor has started in Pakistan but the National Highways
Authority of India (NHAI) is yet to start the work on the construction of
corridor in its area.
to The Sunday Express, Punjab Cabinet Minister and Dera Baba Nanak MLA
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said, “Now it has been decided in principle that a
new road will originate from the Dera Baba Nanak-Kalanaur road from a point
near Mann village. This road will directly touch with the only existing link
road between Dera Baba Nanak and zero line. We would need to acquire farming
land for this purpose.”
existing 1.5 km link road between Dera Baba Nanak and zero line ends at the
point exactly where a binocular has been installed for Sikh devotees to see
Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.
distance of BSF post on existing link road to zero line is 700 metres.
said, “We would need to acquire the land for the new road to link Dera Baba
Nanak-Kalanaur road with link road to zero line. Length of this new road could
be between 2.5 km to 3 km. The exact length of the road will come out only
after NHAI will do demarcation for this purpose. Some time will be consumed in
issuing notification for the acquisition of land and invite objections from the
farmers whose land would be required for the purpose. I have asked NHAI to
start the demarcation of the land as soon as possible. We are already late.”
said, “I also wrote a letter to the PM to develop Batala-Dera Baba Nanak road
as National Highway as it would be best available option for devotees to reach
Dera Baba Nanak from Amritsar. There already exists a highway between Amritsar
and Batala. Existing road between Batala and Dera Baba Nanak is not sufficient
for this purpose.
7 set to be public holiday in Egypt marking Coptic Christmas
will be a public holiday in Egypt to mark Coptic Orthodox Christmas, state news
agency MENA reported on Thursday.
Minister Mostafa Madbouly said 7 January will be a paid holiday for employees
of the country’s private and public sectors.
Orthodox Christians, who make up a substantial majority of all Christians in
the country, celebrate Christmas on 7 January, following the Julian calendar.
make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi extended on Friday his wishes to Egyptian
expatriates on the occasion of Christmas and the New Year.
a Facebook post, the Egyptian President said: “I am wishing you success and
happiness, and that the New Year will bring our beloved Egypt more security,
stability, progress and prosperity.”
Egypt’s security forces upped security measures around churches on the eve of
the Coptic Orthodox Christmas, according to Asharq al-Awsat.
the Shobra district north of Cairo, where many Copts reside, armed forces
blocked a main street near a large church and placed metal barricades to
prevent vehicles from parking in the area.
year, Copts will celebrate their Christmas mass on January 6 amid the opening
of the “The Nativity of the Christ Cathedral” in Egypt's New Administrative
Capital, which lies 60 kilometers east of Cairo.
mass will be attended by Sisi and Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II, the
Church said in a statement.
Arabic-language Xeber 24 news website affiliated to the Kurds reported on
Saturday that a large military convoy, consisting of 120 trucks carrying
weapons and military equipment have arrived at al-Shadadi base in Hasaka
added that despite US President Donald Trump's claims of withdrawing troops
from Syria, the American military men are still in their bases and no soldier
has left the region.
the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that
withdrawal of the US heavy military vehicles from Eastern Euphrates towards
Iraq has not yet been monitored officially.
SOHR reported that the Turkish media reports sating that the US has withdrawn
its forces from a base at the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border were related to the
US forces' traffic between Syria and Iraq.
SOHR had also reported on Sunday that a long convoy of almost 200 US army
trucks, carrying weapons, munitions and logistical equipment, left the US bases
in Iraq on Saturday and arrived in coalition bases in Raqqa, Manbij and Ein Issa
in Northeastern Syria.
the meantime, the Kurdish militia reported that the trucks arrived in the town
of Amouda and left then for the US-run bases in Northeastern Syria, adding that
the arms and ammunition cargo is to be delivered to the SDF.
sources reported on Saturday that the army has sent a convoy, consisting of
hundreds of forces and tens of vehicles and military equipment, to the contact
lines with the terrorists stationed in Western Aleppo.
added that the convoy has been dispatched to several regions, including
al-Rashedeen, adding that the army will soon start military operations to
cleanse the terrorists.
militants in Aleppo have increased attacks against the Syrian army positions
and residential areas alongside their internal tensions and infightings in the
al-Sham terrorists imposed full control over Qbtan al-Jabal, Hour, Basartoun,
al-Mansoureh, Qalioun, Babis, Ma'aret al-Artiq, Arab Fatoum and al-Houteh,
Anjareh and Kafar Natin regions in Western Aleppo which were previously
controlled by al-Zinki terrorists, the sources said.
noted that after the Nouraldeen al-Zinki terrorists' retreat to Afrin region,
Tahrir al-Sham took full control of all their military positions in Western
is while Tahrir al-Sham has dispatched tens of military vehicles and militants
to Saman castle in Western Aleppo to prevent any possible attack on the region.
Tahrir al-Sham also won control of Talman village in Southern Idlib.
battlefield sources said that many terrorists from both sides were killed or
wounded in recent clashes.
sources in Northern Syria reported on Thursday that Tahrir al-Sham terrorist
group in clashes with NLF-affiliated Nouralddeen al-Zinki took control of the
strategic town of Dar al-Izzah in Western Aleppo and Kafar Basin and Fadreh
villages in Northwestern Aleppo.
said that the infighting among terrorists spread to Idlib and Hama provinces,
reiterating that they NFL militants took control of Masaran, Babila and
al-Jaradeh villages to the North of Idlib, Ma'arat al-Numan and Ma'ar Shourin
to the South of Idlib and Tarmala to the Southwest.
Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at also took control of al-Faqi, Karsa'a, Arinbeh,
Sharnaz, Meydan Qazal, Shoulin, Shir Maqar, Qara Jarn, al-Deyrouneh, al-Jasem
Farm and Jab Soleyman to the South of Idlib and Western Hama.
National Security Advisor John Bolton warned the Syrian government that it
should not see the impending US military withdrawal from the country as an
invitation to use chemical weapons.
is absolutely no change in the US position against the use of chemical weapons
by the Syrian regime and absolutely no change in our position that any use of
chemical weapons would be met by a very strong response, as we’ve done twice
before,” Bolton told reporters on his plane shortly before landing in Tel Aviv,
the regime, the Assad regime should be under no illusions on that question.”
added: “As we elaborate how the withdrawal is going to occur and the
circumstances, we don’t want the Assad regime to see what we do as representing
any diminution in our opposition to the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
Kurdish leaders seek a Russian-mediated deal with President Bashar al-Assad's
government regardless of US plans to withdraw from their region, a senior
official has said.
deal would mark perhaps the most important milestone because the two biggest
chunks of Syria splintered by seven years of war would be rejoined, leaving
only a corner in the northwest in the hands of militants.
Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd told Reuters the Kurdish-led administration
that runs much of northern Syria presented a roadmap for an agreement with
Assad during recent meetings in Russia.
final decision is to reach an agreement with Damascus, we will work in this
direction regardless of the cost, even if the Americans object," Reuters
quoted Jia Kurd as saying in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli.
main aims of the roadmap, the report said, are to protect the Syrian border
with Turkey, to integrate the governing structures of northern Syria into the
constitution, and to ensure a fair distribution of resources.
week, residents in Manbij asked the Syrian government to retake the northern
city on the Turkish border after a US pledge to withdraw troops from the Arab
Kurd said the local Kurdish-led administration was ready to cooperate with the
government on ending Turkey's occupation of Syrian territories and defeating
the remaining terrorists in the north.
region is controlled by the US-backed YPG militia which Turkey views a
terrorist group but the fighters have mostly avoided confrontation with the
Syrian government during the war.
Kurd said the ball was in the court of Russia and Damascus, but much depends on
reconciling the regional demands with Syria's sovereignty.
leaders convened political talks in Damascus last year, but they broke down
without progress. The government has said it is determined to reunite Syria,
with Foreign Minister recently making it clear that a federal Syria is
month, US President Donald Trump ordered a quick withdrawal of all 2,000
American forces from Syria but then said troops would get out slowly “over a
period of time.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted as saying Friday that Washington
wanted to prevent Turkey from “slaughtering” Kurds.
remarks in an interview with Newsmax media outlet angered Turkey, with a
Foreign Ministry statement accusing Pompeo of displaying “a worrying lack of
information” for equating the YPG with
Syria’s Kurdish population.
initially a staunch supporter of a Western campaign to topple President Assad,
has moderated its stance over time and is currently working with Russia and
Iran to return stability to the country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that once the "terrorist
organizations" leave Manbij and other areas near its border in northern
Syria, "we will have nothing left to do there.”
is supporting several militant groups based in Idlib, but they are under
pressure from the Syrian army.
NFL militants are currently engaged in a fierce battle with al-Qaeda-linked
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which broke out on Tuesday.
reportedly initiated the fighting after NFL-affiliated Nour al-Din al-Zenki
militants killed five of members of the Takfiri group.
Friday, HTS terrorists reportedly captured more than 20 villages in the
northern Aleppo Province after four days of clashes with rival militants.
so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the fresh fighting had
killed 114 militants on both sides as well as eight civilians.
was able to take control of areas previously held by Nour al-Din al-Zenki in
the west of the Aleppo countryside," the UK-based monitoring group added.
reports also said the Turkish-backed militant outfit had announced its
dissolution after recent defeats.
missiles uncovered in Homs
another development on Friday, Syrian government forces discovered a sizable
cache of weapons and munitions, including US-built anti-tank missiles, during a
clean-up operation in the country’s central Homs Province.
United States says Saudi Arabia’s version of the murder of dissident journalist
Jamal Khashoggi is not credible and Riyadh must identify and punish the
perpetrators and planners of the killing.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will emphasize the need for accountability and
credibility in the investigation of Khashoggi’s death during a visit next week
to the Middle East, including to Riyadh, a senior US State Department official
said on Friday.
Secretary has been very consistent in engagements with Saudis ...to really push
the two points of accountability and credibility, which is that the Saudis
should have a credible narrative for what happened,” said the official, who
briefed reporters on Pompeo’s trip.
don’t think from our point of view that the narrative emerging from the Saudis
or the legal process has yet hit that threshold of credibility and
accountability,” the official said.
wants both the perpetrators and the planners of the killing to be identified by
the Saudis and appropriate punishments are meted out, the official added.
a US-based Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who had become a critic
of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi
consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2.
intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered an operation to kill
Khashoggi, whose body was dismembered and removed from the building to a
location still publicly unknown.
Turkish officials have also tied his death to the highest levels of Saudi
leadership. Riyadh has denied accusations that the prince ordered the murder.
President Donald Trump has cultivated a close relationship with the crown
prince and says he stands by the kingdom’s de facto ruler despite the CIA assessment
and pleas from US senators for Trump to condemn and punish the prince.
Saudi court on Thursday held its first hearing on Khashoggi’s case in which
Saudi Arabian prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of the 11
suspects in the case.
Two British soldiers were wounded Saturday in eastern Syria by a missile fired
by the Daesh group, an NGO said.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the pair were part of the the
international anti-jihadist coalition, led by the United States.
two British soldiers were transported by helicopter to receive medical care,”
the observatory’s director Rami Abdel told AFP.
Kurdish fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) died in the attack in
the village of Al-Shaafa in Deir Ezzor province, one of the last pockets of
territory still controlled by Daesh in the Euphrates River valley.
SDF, a coalition dominated by Kurdish fighters, has spearheaded the fight
against Daesh, supported by several Western countries including the United
international alliance seized the key Daesh holdout of Hajjin in December after
months of fighting that has seen the jihadists launch vicious counter-attacks.
which once controlled swathes of Syria and Iraq, has been pounded by multiple
September, more than 1,000 jihadists have been killed in the fighting compared
with just under 600 SDF members while 15,000 people have fled Hajjin, according
to the Observatory.
month US president Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of around 2,000
soldiers from Syria, deployed to support the SDF, claiming Daesh had been
Syria pointman James Jeffrey will also serve as the United States envoy to the
international coalition against ISIS extremist group, the State Department said
this additional responsibility, Ambassador Jeffrey will lead and coordinate US
Department of State relations with the Global Coalition to defeat (ISIS) and
Department efforts to implement President Trump’s announcement of a responsible
US troop withdrawal from Syria,” spokesman Robert Palladino said in a
a former US ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, will replace Brett McGurk as
anti-ISIS envoy, a post from which he resigned following US President Donald
Trump’s controversial decision in December to withdraw American forces from
say the move puts US-allied Kurdish forces at risk of attack by Turkish troops.
The US-allied Kurds have played a major role in the war against ISIS, the
extremist group that seized swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria but has since
suffered major defeats.
December 21 announcement of McGurk’s departure followed that of Jim Mattis, who
quit as defense chief over fundamental disagreements with Trump, including over
Russia and Iran have been identified as the biggest three “national security
threats” to the United States in an official US government report listing its
top 26 perceived security threats.
"Long-range emerging threats facing the United States," the report
was compiled by the Washington-based Government Accountability Office.
polled four US federal agencies to come up with the 26 worst threats as
identified by the US Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security as
well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), The National
Interest news outlet reported.
to “Chinese global expansion,” the report alleged: "China is marshalling
its diplomatic, economic, and military resources to facilitate its rise as a
regional and global power."
may challenge US access to air, space, cyberspace, and maritime domains,” it
further added, emphasizing: “China's use of cyberspace and electronic warfare
could impact various US systems and operations."
“Russian global expansion,” it then accused Moscow of “increasing its
capability to challenge the United States across multiple warfare domains,
including attempting to launch computer-based directed energy attacks against
US military assets.”
is also increasing its military and political presence in key locations across
the world," it further underlined, without noting that many of Russian
military moves come in response to similar measures by the US-led NATO military
alliance near its borders and elsewhere.
report then points to Iran as the third biggest threat to American interests,
accusing the Islamic Republic of “expanding the size and capabilities of its
military and intelligence forces, as well as developing technology that could
be used to build ICBMs and cyber warfare.”
is while Washington and its European allies have repeatedly resorted to hostile
political and economic measures to force Iran to give up its advanced,
home-grown missile technology developed as a purely defensive force following
the destructive Iraqi-imposed war on the country in the 1980s in which the
country faced an international weapons ban led by major powers such as the US,
Western Europe and the former Soviet Union.
report further named North Korea as the fourth major threat, citing its
development of ICBMs that can strike North America.
also identified unstable governments, terrorism, extremism and political
instability in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean as the fifth biggest
threat against American interests, claiming that they “could tax US resources
needed for counter-terrorism and humanitarian relief.”
was listed as the sixth major threat to the United states in the report,
saying: "Terrorists could advance their tactics, including building
nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, or increase their use of online
communications to reach new recruits and disseminate propaganda."
next 20 biggest threats to America were identified as follows:
adversaries and private corporations. New states could arise that threaten the
US Interestingly, the GAO report worries about "private corporations
obtaining resources that could grant them more influence than states."
operations. Adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran will take advantage of
social media, artificial intelligence and data crunching to wage information
intelligence. AI will allow adversaries to design better weapons.
communications. Quantum technology could result in communications that can't be
intercepted or decoded by US intelligence, while also making US communications
more vulnerable to interception.
of Things. Networks that control critical infrastructure, such as the power grid,
"Adversaries are developing autonomous capabilities that could recognize
faces, understand gestures, and match voices of US personnel, which could
compromise US operations," GAO said. "Unmanned ground, underwater,
air, and space vehicles may be used for combat and surveillance."
States, terrorists and criminals could use DNA modification to create
technologies. New technologies such as 3-D printing, which could allow
terrorists to manufacture weapons.
of mass destruction. More actors are developing them.
warfare. Other nations are developing technology that can disrupt US
communications, computers and satellite networks.
weapons. Russia and China are developing Mach-5-plus weapons that can penetrate
U.S. anti-missile defenses. Significantly, the report notes that "there
are no existing countermeasures" to these weapons.
weapons. In addition to Russian effort, "China is developing capabilities
to conduct large-scale anti-satellite strikes using novel physical, cyber, and
electronic warfare means."
Not just land- and sea-based missiles, but also "space-based missiles that
could orbit the earth."
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. Future advances in AI,
sensors, data analytics, and space-based platforms could create an environment
of "ubiquitous ISR," where people and equipment could be tracked
throughout the world in near-real time.
China and Russia are developing faster and longer-ranged aircraft, including
weapons. "Russia has made significant advancements in submarine technology
and tactics to escape detection by US forces. China is developing underwater
acoustic systems that could coordinate swarm attacks—the use of large
quantities of simple and expendable assets to overwhelm opponents—among
vehicles and provide greater undersea awareness."
weapons. In addition to Russia and China, Iran and North Korea are developing
cyber attack capabilities that could target a variety of systems, such as air
traffic control or health care.
diseases. Climate change, and increased global travel, could spread
change. More extreme weather, such as more frequent hurricanes and droughts,
and rising sea levels could disrupt food and energy supplies. Melting Arctic
ice is opening new sea routes in the north, "potentially increasing
Russian and Chinese access to the region and challenging the freedom of
navigation that the United States currently has."
justice minister says Ankara is ready to give all the necessary documents to an
American judiciary delegation currently in the country for its ongoing
investigation into the activities of the outlawed Fethullah Gulen movement,
which is branded by the Turkish government as the Fethullah Terrorist
delegation, comprising judiciary and law enforcement officials, arrived in
Turkey on January 3 as part of the probe.
opposition cleric based in Philadelphia, Fethullah Gulen is accused by the
Turkish government of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
to reports on Saturday, Abdulhamit Gul, the Turkish justice minister, said US officials
in Ankara had requested to see some digital data on FETO's link to the deadly
coup attempt, adding that Turkey had provided them with necessary evidence in
evidence we presented to the US, we have seen that they were on-point demands.
We will try to give all documents and information," the Turkish minister
said the visit by the US judicial authorities was “important.” He added that
the result of the investigation might affect the current extradition
proceedings of Gulen.
I think after what the US delegation witnessed, the US investigation [into
FETO] will give way to different developments," Gul said.
minister said that “political approaches are also effective in extradition
issues. But our approach is judicial."
also said the number of convicts and arrested suspects in trials and
investigations directed at the FETO movement is currently at 31,088, adding
that 241 out of 289 lawsuits had been concluded.
Turkish minister said Ankara had requested the extradition of 432 suspects from
83 countries, adding that some 97 suspects had been extradited to Turkey from
the 2016 coup attempt, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had
seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in
charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.
is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the
government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army,
police and judiciary.
US-based cleric has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he
had no role in it.
dissident cleric, now 77, has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of
his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal
to President Erdogan and his regime.”
has long been pressing on its NATO ally for the extradition of Gulen and has
already sent multiple extradition requests to Washington, but their demands
have not been taken heed of.
November, NBC News reported that the administration of US President Donald
Trump was looking for ways to extradite Gulen, as part of efforts to placate
Turkey and ease its pressure on Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi
journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was gruesomely murdered in the Saudi consulate
in Istanbul in early October.
Trump denied the report and stressed that he was not considering extraditing
premeditated murder of Khashoggi has escalated tensions in Ankara-Riyadh
relations, with President Erdogan accusing the highest-ranking Saudi officials
of ordering the assassination.
of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having
links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military
staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work
over the same accusations.
international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the
Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.
Israeli court has sentenced a Palestinian teenage boy to eleven years in prison
on the allegation of carrying out a stabbing attack in the southern sector of
the occupied West Bank.
Commission for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that the
Ofer military court passed the verdict on 19-year-old Daoud Manasra on Friday,
and demanded that he pay a compensation of 270,000 shekels ($73,000) or serve
three additional years of imprisonment in lieu of it.
the court ordered the Palestinian teenage boy to pay a fine of 10,000 shekels
committee condemned the sentence and the exorbitant financial compensation
imposed on Manasra and other political prisoners in Israeli detention centers.
proves the barbarity of the fake Israeli judiciary, which goes hand in hand
with the policies of the Israeli intelligence service, aiming to inflict the
greatest damage and sanctions on Palestinians,” it pointed out.
forces detained Manasra in mid-2015 after he had purportedly attacked and
injured an Israeli soldier at the Beit Einun crossroads in eastern al-Khalil,
located 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds.
December 16, 2018, the same Israeli court sentenced 18-year-old Ayham Bassem
Sabbah, a resident of the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem al-Quds, to
35 years in prison, and also ordered him to pay a fine of one million Israeli
militiamen on Saturday launched an attack on the UN’s World Food Program (WFP)
warehouses in the Kilo 7 area in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah.
residents confirmed that a huge fire broke out in the warehouses as a result of
Houthi artillery shelling from positions stationed east of the city.
residents said that the Houthi militias have continued to violate a previously
agreed upon ceasefire; attacking Yemeni army forces near the University of
Hodeidah and a number of neighborhoods east of the city in conjunction with the
arrival of UN envoy Martin Griffiths to Sanaa.
five civilians, including two children, were injured and three houses were
destroyed on Saturday following a Houthi artillery bombardment on a village in
the district of Hays in Hodeidah.
militias forced dozens of families to flee from the village towards the center
Uzbek orthopedic doctor died in a Houthi-run prison in Ibb governorate, south
of Yemen, according to a medical source.
source revealed that doctor Azzam (55 years) died in a prison in Yarim
district, while the circumstances of his death are still unclear.
Tuesday, the pro-Iranian Houthi militias kidnapped Dr. Azzam with another
doctor from Tajikistan and a Yemeni man, after their house was stormed by the
militias, during New Year Eve.
source suggested that the Uzbek doctor was subjected to physical and
psychological torture by the Houthis while in detention.
Thursday, Houthi media reported that its militants kidnapped the doctor and his
companions on charges of working in a liquor factory.
UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in the capital Sanaa, on Saturday,
for talks to shore up a ceasefire in the country's lifeline port city of
Hodeidah, an AFP photographer said.
the UN announced that Griffiths, will head to the capital Sanaa and later on will travel to Saudi Arabia
where he will be holding talks with President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
the meantime, obstacles hindering the implementation of the Sweden agreement
regarding the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah prompted the UN head of the truce
monitoring committee, retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, to travel to
Sanaa ahead of Griffiths’ arrival there in preparation for talks with the
pro-Iranian Houthi leaders.
meetings come ahead of the upcoming third meeting of the Joint Tripartite
Coordinating Committee for the redeployment in Hodeidah expected next Tuesday.
head of an Iranian parliament committee to combat economic corruption, Amir
Khojasteh, has called for the public execution of those found guilty of
one people have been identified as behind Iran’s economic corruption and must
be executed in public squares,” Khojasteh said, according to local news sites.
death penalty has been handed out to four of them and the rest must also
receive the same punishment,” Khojasteh said, not naming those who have been
accused or convicted of corruption.
recent months, Iran has executed three people found guilty of economic
of the executed men was Vahid Mazloumin, dubbed the “sultan of coins” by media,
a trader accused of manipulating the currency market, according to Mizan, the
news site of the Iranian judiciary.
was allegedly caught with two tons of gold coins, according to the Iranian Students’
News Agency (ISNA).
second man was part of Mazloumin’s network and had been involved in the sale of
gold coins, Mizan reported.
of them were convicted of “spreading corruption on earth”, a capital offence
under Iran’s Islamic laws.
analysts have pointed out that the Islamic Republic of Iran's penal code does
not include the death penalty for those convicted of economic corruption, but
that Iranian authorities are using it to control the diving currency market in
decision to extend the term in office of Supreme Board of Elections (YSK)
officials ahead of local elections caused an outcry by the opposition, Deutsche
to a translation by Ahvalnews, the
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) approved a legislative proposal
offering an extension on task duration of the YSK officials who were supposed
to be retired in January 2019. By a new amendment, the officials would be able
to serve for one more year. The decision was focused on by critics, legal experts
and opposition parties.
to DW, Erdinc Sagkan, the head of Ankara Bar Association, criticized the
legislative proposal and said it was inconvenient for the parliament to approve
2017's constitutional referendum, the YSK controversially announced that it
would accept unsealed ballot papers in the voting. Until then, citizens voted
ballots sealed by the YSK. The unsealed ballot papers were supposed to be
the YSK said that unless there was no proof that ballot papers and envelopes
were brought from outside, they would be accepted as valid.
YSK’s decision received harsh criticism from the opposition. The elections
faced a severe legitimacy problem because the YSK changed the rules after voting
to the Turkish constitution, legal amendments cannot be conducted to the
following year's elections. Thus, the recent legislative proposal is violating
the Turkish law, according to lawyer Sagkan.
parties also described the extension of duty terms of the YSK officials as
"violation of the constitution" ahead of the local elections, DW
said. The upcoming elections may not be "transparent" and
"legal", the opposition said.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi says the Islamic
Republic will continue to support the peace process and the promotion of
democracy in Afghanistan.
Islamic Republic of Iran supports the Afghan government and the peace talks
under the leadership of the Afghans," Araqchi said in a meeting with
Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul on Saturday.
also pointed to last month's negotiations between Iranian authorities and a
delegation from the Taliban in Tehran and said the meeting took place in
coordination with the Afghan government.
to reporters late in December, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram
Qassemi said Iran had hosted a delegation from the Taliban to discuss possible
ways to end hostilities in Afghanistan.
the Taliban are in control of more than 50 percent of Afghanistan, and given
the insecurity, instability and other issues that the country is dealing with,
they [the Taliban] were interested in talks with Iran,” Qassemi said.
than 17 years of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan at the top of a
military coalition have brought nothing but chaos and insecurity to the country
as a result of which all forms of organized crimes, especially production of
illicit drugs, have been skyrocketing. The country has also turned into a
hotbed of violent acts by major terror outfits, especially Daesh.
its defeat in Iraq and Syria, Daesh terrorists have been shifting attention to
Afghanistan during past months, making the country a new center of their
atrocious acts of terrorism in a bid to sow more insecurity across the whole
further stressed the importance of boosting trade and economic cooperation
between Tehran and Kabul and said talks were underway to finalize a
comprehensive document for joint cooperation.
for his part, said Iran and Afghanistan enjoyed cordial and strong relations
and added that his country supported efforts to finalize the document for joint
commended Iran's efforts to observe the principles of negotiations with
terrorist groups and to inform the Afghan government of Tehran's talks with the
said the Afghan government supported peace but stressed the establishment of
peace should not undermine the achievements made during recent years.
from the Taliban, the US, and regional countries met for the fourth time
earlier this month in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi for talks to end the war in
Afghanistan, but the militant group’s representatives refused to talk to the
Afghan negotiating team.
office said Kabul was aware of the whole process of peace talks and that
Washington sought to provide the condition for direct talks between the
government and the militant group.
United Arab Emirates reported tangible and positive results from the talks.
"US-Taliban reconciliation talks" produced "tangible results
that are positive for all parties concerned," UAE state news agency WAM
on Saturday, Araqchi held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his
counterpart Idrees Zaman.
senior Iranian official arrived in Kabul on Saturday at the head of a
delegation for a day-long visit.
trip came after Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC)
Ali Shamkhani also paid a one-day visit to Afghanistan at the head of a delegation
comprised of a number of high-ranking security, military and political
officials in December.
a meeting with Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan president’s national security
adviser, Shamkhani said Tehran had been holding a series of talks with the
Taliban group “with the knowledge of the Afghan government” and would continue
to do so in the future.
new President Jair Bolsonaro has reaffirmed his plan of relocating the
country’s embassy in the Israeli capital to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.
decision is taken, it’s only a matter of when it will be implemented,” said the
ultra-right-wing leader late Thursday during an interview with Brazil’s SBT
Television, confirming a reported statement by the Israeli regime’s Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremonies
on January 1.
large part of the Arab world is aligned or aligning itself with the United
States,” claimed the Brazilian president, who has widely been referred to as
“Trump of the Tropics” due to his radical approaches similar to US President
Donald Trump. “The Palestinian issue is already overloading people in the Arab
world for the most part.”
Iran as the major vocal opposition against the embassy move, Bolsonaro further
added that “the only weighty voice speaking out against me is Iran.”
has not been the only country firmly opposing the US-led embassy move to the
occupied al-Quds as many Muslim and non-Muslim countries have officially or
informally expressed opposition to the move amid many protest rallies in
different countries against Washington’s anti-Palestinian measure.
further underlined that he did not think that most Arab countries would take
retaliatory measures against Brasilia, noting, however, that “more radical”
Arab nations “might adopt some sort of sanction — I hope only economic ones —
did not elaborate in his pointed remarks which Arab countries he was referring
to as “more radical.”
had backtracked on the embassy move soon after declaring in early November that
he intended to go through with it.
an apparent response to fears of the farming businesses in the
agriculturally-rich country that an embassy move may threaten their $1 billion
in meat exports to Arab markets, the newly-elected leader rowed back his pledge
within days, insisting: “it is not yet decided.”
decision on the embassy move is highly controversial since the Israeli regime
claims all of occupied al-Quds as its capital while Palestinians view the
eastern part of the holy city as the capital of a future state.
countries across the globe hold that the status of al-Quds should only be
determined through negotiations, which have long stalled by Tel Aviv’s
continued violations of UN Security Council resolutions against further
expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian
far, only the US and its client Central American state of Guatemala have opened
embassies in occupied al-Quds. While Paraguay has backtracked on a similar
decision, Washington and Tel Aviv are reportedly pressuring US-backed
government of Honduras to move its Israeli embassy to al-Quds as well.
yet another controversial move, Bolsonaro also announced his readiness to
discuss the possibility of hosting a US military base in Brazil, pointing to a
major shift in the foreign policy of Latin America’s largest and most populous
63-year-old former Army captain represents a sharp break with Brazil’s recent
record of left of center policies, veering his nation sharply to the right and
towards the Trump administration in the US.
seeks ex-envoy Hussain Haqqani’s extradition from US
government has initiated a process of seeking extradition of its former
ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani on allegations of embezzlement following
its failure to get him through Interpol. Haqqani, who served as ambassador from
2008 to 2011 in US, was removed from office for his alleged role in the
controversy revolved around a memo seeking help from the Obama administration
in the wake of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden to avert a military
takeover in Pakistan. The FIA registered a case for embezzlement of $2 million
against Haqqani in March 2018 relating to his tenure as ambassador, expecting
that a criminal charge would result in Interpol acting against Haqqani.
Interpol turned down the FIA request to issue arrest warrants for Haqqani, who
is now based in Washington.
case is now being made the basis for seeking his extradition.
underscores need to promote Muslim unity
at a seminar on Saturday underscored the need to forge Muslim unity through
promotion of the true message of humanity and coexistence given by Islam in
order to establish peace and stability in the society and counter violence,
extremism and terrorism.
event titled ‘Role of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Islamic Republic of Pakistan
in Promotion of Muslim Unity and Social Peace’ was organized by Jamia Salfia
Faisalabad in collaboration with the Islamic Research Institute (IRI)
Islamabad. Islamic International University (IIUI) President Dr Ahmad Yousuf Al
Darwesh, who is originally from Saudi Arabia, Islamic Research Institute
Director General Prof Dr Zia ul Haq, Prof Dr Humayun Abbas Shams from GC
University Faisalabad and Wafaq ul Madaris Salfia Faisalabad Secretary General
Maulana Yasin Zafar spoke on the occasion. A large number of ulema,
academicians, intellectuals, representatives of civil society and madrassah
students attended the event.
said Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative of the government of Pakistan was the best
tool to deal with growing extremism and intolerance in the society and to
encourage the people belonging to different walks of life towards positive and
constructive activities in order to realise the dream of building a peaceful
society. Saudi Arabia is also focused on peaceful solutions to several
conflicts and is undertaking various mediation efforts, they said, adding that
an assembly of institutions has already been established by Saudi Arabia to
strengthen the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.
on the occasion, IRI Director General Dr Zia ul Haq stressed that the people
should be educated according to the teachings of Islam, saying Islam preaches
peace, religious tolerance and equality. He stressed the need for strengthening
religious seminaries in the country with a view to promote peace and humanity.
people, including two women, were injured on Saturday in a blast in Kala Bari
market located in the Saddar area of Peshawar, according to sources at the Lady
Reading Hospital, where the wounded were shifted.
six injured were in a stable condition, Capital City Police Officer (CCPO)
Peshawar Qazi Jamil said.
least three stores were damaged by the bomb’s impact. The area was cordoned off
by security forces after the explosion.
said that about eight to 10 kilogrammes of explosive material was used in the
blast. The material was planted in a car, he added.
was an IED (improvised explosive device) explosion and the explosive material
was fitted inside the vehicle,” he said. Bomb Disposal Unit chief Shafqat Malik
agreed that it was an IED explosion. “All of the vehicle had blown up and only
(its) engine part remained intact,” he added.
CCTV footage of the blast shows an unidentified man parking and exiting the
said vehicle before wrapping himself in a shawl. The explosion takes place as
he walks out of the frame.
Pak-China joint military exercise ‘Warrior -VI’ concluded near Kharian on
Saturday, said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). The troops of special
services groups from Pakistan Army and People Liberation Army China
participated in the four-week long military exercise. According to military’s
media wing, the both armies learnt from the expertise of each other during the
joint military exercise. The war games concluded with an august culmination
ceremony in Kharian, where IG Training Lieutenant General Sher Afgun was the
chief guest, said the ISPR. Defence Attaché from Embassy of Peoples Republic of
China Major General Chen Wenrong represented Chinese forces on the ceremony.
Earlier, a two-week long joint International Air Drill of Pakistan and China
‘Shaheen-VII’ concluded at an Operational Air Base of Pakistan Air Force on
Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan arrived in
Islamabad on Sunday for a day-long visit during which he will hold a one-on-one
meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, followed by delegation level talks.
Minister Khan received the crown prince personally upon his arrival. The
premier was driving the car that the crown prince travelled in.
crown prince is visiting Pakistan after nearly 12 years.
visit is aimed at building on the fresh momentum in ties injected by recent
contacts at the leadership level, the Foreign Office earlier said.
Minister Khan has visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) twice after assuming
office in August to seek economic assistance to ward off the country's foreign
and the UAE last week finalised the terms and conditions of a $6.2bn support
package for Islamabad, which the crown prince is expected to announce during
his visit today.
Husain Haqqani, a former ambassador to the United States, said on Saturday he
had not received any warrants about inquiries from Pakistani authorities over
the past seven years.
seems to be another gimmick aimed to gullible Pakistani media. New allegations
filed more than seven years after my forced resignation are obviously
manufactured,” Mr Haqqani said in a press statement. “I doubt that Pakistan
government will initiate extradition proceedings that are certain to fail and,
in the process, open up examination of their secret expenditures in the US.”
has initiated a process of seeking the extradition of Mr Haqqani through the
Foreign Office on embezzlement charges after it failed to get him through
Interpol. The Supreme Court had issued warrants to the Federal Investigation
Agency (FIA) to produce Mr Haqqani in the court in January last year, but the
Interpol did not issue a warrant for him. Mr Haqqani, 62, was Pakistan’s
Ambassador to the US from May 27, 2008 to Nov 22, 2011, one of the most
tumultuous periods of US-Pakistan relations.
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday criticised the Indian leadership and
warned that their “provocative and negative statements, given under domestic
political compulsions, can jeopardise regional peace”, Radio Pakistan reported.
to media in Islamabad, Qureshi said Pakistan is a peace-loving country having
no aggressive designs against anyone. We want “resolution of all outstanding
issues, including Kashmir through peaceful means”, the minister said.
foreign minister said that any “misadventure against Pakistan will be responded
in a befitting manner” and that “[our] desire for peace should not be taken as
urged the international community to ask the Indian leadership to refrain from
spewing negative propaganda. “Pakistan wants peace, stability, and progress of
the region, which is not possible in a hostile environment,” he added.
is focusing on peace efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan as per the
desire of the international community. Indian propaganda machine may force
Pakistan to divert its attention from Afghanistan, which can be disastrous for
peace in the region,” Qureshi maintained.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari called on Jamiat
Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence on Saturday
before leaving for Karachi.
was the second meeting between the two leaders in as many days as earlier they
had met at a wedding ceremony in Islamabad on Friday.
Fida Piracha, a spokesman for former president Zardari, said that the two
leaders “discussed the prevailing political situation” in the country.
rejected reports aired by some private TV channels that during the meeting
Maulana Fazl urged the PPP leader to have a meeting with former prime minister
Nawaz Sharif presently serving a sentence in the Kot Lakhpat jail.
spokesman claimed that the issue of a “meeting with Nawaz Sharif” did not come
under discussion in the meeting. He provided no further details of the meeting.
leader Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah had last month said that a meeting between Mr
Zardari and Mr Sharif in near future could not be ruled out. However, before
any such meeting, an accountability court convicted Mr Sharif in Al-Azizia case
on Dec 24.
banking court has extended interim bail of Mr Zardari and his sister Faryal
Talpur till Monday (tomorrow) in a case pertaining to alleged laundering of
Rs4.14 billion through 29 ‘fake’ bank accounts.
talking to reporters, the JUI-F chief claimed that his meeting with Mr Zardari
was not pre-decided and that he had been informed about Mr Zardari’s visit to
his residence just an hour ago.
was no agenda for the meeting. I have nothing to tell you or give you any
news,” the Maulana said. “Neither any plan of convening another multi-party
conference of the opposition came under discussion nor we discussed any
programme to hold joint public meetings,” he said, adding that they simply had
both the PPP and the JUI-F leaders are trying to downplay the meeting,
political experts are giving importance to it in the wake of the ongoing trial
of Mr Zardari and other opposition leaders.
is no option other than (the formation of) a grand opposition alliance,” the Maulana
said, hinting that he was still making efforts to form an alliance of the
we all meet when we all are in jails?” he said while criticising both the PPP
and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for not being able to forget the past and
failing his efforts to forge unity in the opposition’s ranks.
to a question, the JUI-F leader said he had conveyed his concerns to Mr Zardari
over the failure of the opposition parties to come out with a joint strategy.
He said that opposition parties needed courage to make a decision.
said the PML-N people were bearing the brunt whereas pressure was being exerted
on the PPP as well through different means.
said he had personally requested Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz
Sharif to consult all opposition parties and convene an MPC, but there had been
no progress in this regard. He said if PML-N and PPP continued with the same
attitude, it would be more damaging for the opposition and then there would be
talks about “deals”.
Leaders of various political parties on Saturday condemned the car bomb blast
in a busy commercial-cum-residential area of Peshawar cantonment and described
it conspiracy to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the provincial metropolis.
Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman visited Lady Reading Hospital and inquired
after the health of the wounded people. He directed the health department to
ensure provision of quality medical treatment to the injured. He condemned the
blast and said the anti-state elements had no religion, nationality.
Muslim League-N provincial joint secretary Israrullah Khan Advocate condemned
the bomb explosion and expressed the hope that security agencies would take
appropriate measures to foil the evil designs of terrorists.
a statement, he said it was duty of the government to protect lives and
properties of citizens. He prayed for early recovery of the injured.
National Party central general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain and provincial
president Amir Haider Khan Hoti, in separate statements condemned the car bomb
blast and claimed it had been carried out to create uncertainty and panic among
blast, they said proved terrorists’ presence in parts of the country but the
rules were unable to pay attention towards the ANP’s demand for hitting hard
ANP, they said had time and again raised the demand to implement the national
action plan in real sense to get rid of anti-state elements, but to no avail.
Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and the party’s provincial
chairman Sikandar Hayat Sherpao also condemned the terror incident and
expressed sympathies with the wounded people.
minister for information Shaukat Yousufzai said the terrorists by targeting the
people wanted to create panic among the citizens but they won’t be allowed to
achieve their nefarious designs through such cowardly acts.
said the government was committed to safeguarding the lives and properties of
Special Forces rescue 12 people from a Taliban prison in Helmand
Afghan Special Forces have rescued at least twelve people from a Taliban prison
in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.
to the local authorities, the operations were conducted by the Special Forces
of the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), on Thursday
provincial government media office confirmed in a statement that the NDS
Special Forces stormed the hideouts of top Taliban leaders in Nahr-e-Saraj
district and rescued 12 people kept as hostages.
statement further added that the operations were conducted in the hideouts of
Taliban’s shadow mayor, Mullah Jabar, and Shuja prison.
Afghan forces have also confiscated some weapons, equipment, and propaganda
letters belonging to Taliban group, the statement added.
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the operations and release of prisoners so far.
is among the relatively volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan where
Taliban militants are actively operating in some of its districts and often
attempt to carry out attacks against the government and security forces.
Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have killed at least 17 Taliban
militants during the operations in Tarinkot district, the provincial capital of
southern Uruzgan province.
sources privy of the development have said the militants were killed during the
operations which were conducted in the past 24 hours.
sources further added that the Afghan forces also destroyed six fighting
positions, 3 tunnels, 15 improvised explosive devices, and a bomb making
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the operations so far.
is among the relatively volatile provinces in South of Afghanistan where
Taliban militants are actively operating in its various districts.
least sixteen Taliban militants and seven soldiers of the Afghan border police
forces were killed during a clash with the Taliban militants in southern Kandahar
province of Afghanistan, the local authorities said Saturday.
to a statement released by the provincial government media office, at least
seven border police soldiers lost their lives during a clash with the Taliban
militants in Spin Boldak district.
statement further added that four border police soldiers also sustained
injuries during the clash.
the meantime, the provincial government claims that 16 Taliban militants were
also killed during the clash and at least 11 others sustained injuries.
reports indicate that 18 police soldiers have lost their lives during the
latest clash with Taliban in Spin Boldak district.
Taliban militants have not commented regarding the incident so far.
shadow district chief of Taliban has been killed in an airstrike conducted in
northern Faryab province of Afghanistan, the military sources said Saturday.
209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North, said Mullah
Hayatullah, the shadow district chief of Taliban for Pashtunkot district was
killed in an airstrike which was conducted on Saturday afternoon.
to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, the airstrike was carried out
at around 3:30pm local time in Pashtun Kot district, targeting two motorcycles
of the militants.
companion of Mullah Hayatullah who was believed to be his security guard was
killed in the airstrike, the statement by 209th Shaheen Corps added.
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the killing of Mullah Hayatullah so far.
comes as the security situation in northern Faryab province has deteriorated
during the recent months.
least three people were wounded in an explosion triggered by a magnetic bomb in
Kabul city earlier today, the security officials said.
Danish, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the incident took place
at around 7:30am in the vicinity of 16th police district of the city.
further added that the blast ripped through a Ford Ranger vehicle, leaving at
least three security personnel wounded.
said the wounded individuals have been shifted to hospital and are in a stable
individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.
Bangladesh police on Saturday found the bullet-ridden bodies of two alleged
Rohingya drug dealers in a southeastern coastal town notorious for its
connection with the Myanmar meth trade.
town police chief Prodip Kumar Das said the bodies were found lying next to a
highway beside the sea and some 10,000 meth pills were recovered from their
of these refugees were... notorious drug dealers in the region. We're suspecting
they were killed in a gang fight over sharing profits," he said.
police said they were investigating the deaths but did not provide further
information on the two men.
720,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's
northern Rakhine state since August 2017 and joined some 300,000 refugees
already living in squalid camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district.
authorities say local kingpins use the refugees -- trapped in poverty and
unlikely to return home any time soon -- to transport "yaba" pills
which are made in Myanmar meth labs.
is a methamphetamine-based, caffeine-cut stimulant that translates as
coastal town on the Naf river that divides the two neighbours is a key entry
point through which yaba enters the South Asian nation's multi-million dollar
May Bangladesh launched a violent anti-drug crackdown which saw the deaths of
at least 250 drug dealers, including 26 in Teknaf in the last three months.
authorities released Al Arabiya and Al Hadath correspondent Saad el-Din Hassan
after he was summoned for questioning following his reporting of the recent
protests in the country.
his release, Hassan said on his Twitter account that his personal phone was
confiscated as well as his press license. He added that security officials
ordered him to come back the following morning to complete the investigation.
also said that he was forced to wait about eight hours, without a charge or
going through a proper legal process, only to be questioned for about five
minutes where he was asked about his coverage of the protests.
police had fired tear gas on Friday to break up protests in the capital
Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, witnesses said, after Protests swept
over many Sudanese cities including the capital Khartoum following Friday’s
prayers, under the motto: “Freedom and Change”.
Thursday night, Sudanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters
who were trying to deliver an anti-government petition to the local
headquarters of President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling party in Port Sudan, a
protesters plan march as Bashir sacks health minister
Sudanese group organizing anti-government protests has called for a march on
the presidential palace as President Omar al-Bashir sacked the health minister
Saturday over rising costs of medicines.
anti-government rallies have rocked cities including Khartoum since December
19, when protests first broke out over a government decision to raise the price
say at least 19 people including two security personnel have been killed in
clashes during the demonstrations so far, but rights group Amnesty
International has put the death toll at 37.
call on our supporters to gather at four different places in Khartoum and then
begin a march on the palace” of the president on Sunday, the Sudanese
Professionals' Association said Saturday in a statement.
association, which includes teachers, doctors and engineers, has held similar
rallies in recent weeks but they have been swifty broken up by riot police.
forces were deployed in key squares across the capital on Saturday night.
on Saturday, Bashir sacked minister of health Mohamed Abuzaid Mustafa, the
official SUNA news agency reported.
has been replaced by Al-Khier Al-Nour, SUNA said without giving details.
drug prices and shortages have added to the anger of protestors already furious
over the cost of other key products.
pharmaceutical companies have been unable to import some medicines after a
years-long foreign currency shortage worsened last year.
even as protesters called for a new march on Sunday, Sudan's education ministry
ordered the reopening of schools in Khartoum from Tuesday.
and classes had been suspended “indefinitely” across the capital since December
23, when violence erupted during initial protests.
were also closed in other cities where protests have been held, but it was
still unclear whether they would reopen next week.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered Sudan his country's support during a
meeting in Cairo with a top aide of his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir,
the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
fully supports the security and stability of Sudan, which is integral to
Egypt's national security,” it quoted Sisi as saying.
authorities have launched a crackdown on opposition leaders, activists and
journalists since protests erupted last month.
country has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year.
cost of some commodities including medicines has more than doubled and
inflation has hit 70 percent.
anti-government protests have hit Sudan, with President Omar al-Bashir
lamenting that he had been advised to normalize ties with Israel in order to
ensure stability in his country.
have rocked cities across Sudan since December 19 when demonstrators took to
the streets against a government decision to raise the price of bread.
Friday, Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters as they took to the
streets after midday prayers to chant anti-government slogans in the capital's
twin city of Omdurman.
protests came after Bashir was quoted talking of improved ties with Israel and
the pledge that a normalization would help stabilize growing unrest sweeping
embattled president declined to specify who gave him the advice but said in a
meeting with the religious leaders in the capital Khartoum that he believed
“sustenance is in the hands of God.”
has forged close relations with Saudi Arabia in recent years, reportedly
sending troops to Yemen to help the kingdom's invasion of the impoverished
remarks come amid growing calls for his resignation in the wake of deadly
demonstrations against rising prices and food and fuel shortages in the country
over the past months.
International has said Sudan's security forces have shot dead at least 37
protesters during the anti-government rallies.
is also mired in economic woes, including an acute foreign currency shortage
and soaring inflation, which is running at close to 70 percent. Authorities
have declared curfews and a state of emergency in several states.
media reported in November that the Tel Aviv regime was actively working to
establish diplomatic ties with Sudan, as part of wider efforts to upgrade
relations with central African countries.
reports said Israeli and Sudanese representatives had held a secret meeting to
discuss diplomatic relations in exchange for financial Israeli aid to the
parties discussed “the warming of relations between the countries and possible
Israeli aid to Sudan in the fields of medicine, agriculture and the economy,”
The Times of Israel reported.
daily Haaretz reported that Israel had urged the US and other countries to
improve their relationship with Sudan in response.
2016, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said Khartoum was open to the
idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting 20-year-old US
is said to be seeking to take advantage of the Takfiri militancy gripping parts
of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states in the
Israeli push came almost two years after Sudan joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain
in cutting relations with Iran.
the New York Times reported last month that child soldiers from Sudan's Darfur
have been fighting on behalf of Saudi Arabia in the frontline of the war on
Yemen, with money being their only motive.
several Sudanese mercenaries and lawmakers, the report said that as many as
14,000 Sudanese militants have been fighting in Yemen alongside Saudi-backed
forces while at least hundreds of them have been killed so far.
Libyan authorities issued arrest warrants for 37 suspects over attacks on key
oil ports in the east of the country and a military base in the south, a source
in the attorney general’s office said on Friday.
source, who asked not to be named, confirmed the authenticity of the arrest
warrants, which were dated January 2 and were leaked on Facebook on Thursday.
warrants showed that 31 members of the Chadian and Sudanese opposition based in
Libya, along with six Libyan nationals, are wanted for attacks on the oil
‘crescent’ in the east of the country and on the Tamanhint military base as
well as for their participation in fighting between Libyan rivals.
the toppling of veteran Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising
in 2011, fighters from neighboring Chad and Sudan joined the ensuing turmoil.
Competing Libyan armed factions frequently accuse each other of deploying mercenaries
from sub-Saharan Africa.
Libyan suspects include Abdul Hakim Belhadj, a rebel leader who helped to
topple Qaddafi in 2011 and is now an Islamist political leader.
year Britain apologized to Belhadj and his wife over the role of British intelligence
officers in their 2004 rendition from Thailand to Libya.
Jadhran, who is accused of launching an attack last June on the oil crescent,
is also among those sought by the Libyan authorities.
forces controlled the oil crescent for years until it was taken over in 2016 by
the Libyan National Army, which is loyal to Commander Khalifa Haftar in eastern
closure of the oil crescent, where key oil ports are located, has led to
production losses of up to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a total national
output of little over one million bpd.
September, the UN Security Council added Jadhran to the list of individuals
subject to an assets freeze and a travel ban.
NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday agreed to appoint a
new UN envoy to Somalia after its president refused to reverse a decision to
expel a representative for raising human rights concerns.
spoke by phone with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Friday — his second
call to the Somali leader in three days — to once again urge him to change his
mind, according to diplomats.
the president dug in his heels and said UN envoy Nicholas Haysom would remain
persona non grata and would not be allowed to return to Somalia, diplomats told
“deeply regrets” Somalia’s decision, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq, adding that
the UN chief nevertheless intends to appoint a new UN envoy.
UN Security Council met behind closed doors to agree on a response to Somalia’s
during that meeting, China asked for more time to consider a draft statement
put forward by Britain that expressed regret at the decision, diplomats said.
The council reconsiders its response on Saturday.
the British-drafted text, the council would express its support for the UN
mission in Somalia and say it expects Somalia to fully cooperate with the UN.
a South African lawyer and experienced diplomat, was told to leave Somalia on
Tuesday after he questioned the government’s decision to arrest an Al-Shabab
defector who was running in elections.
Robow, who defected from Al-Shabab in 2017, was arrested last month and flown
to the capital Mogadishu after announcing his bid for the state presidency in
South West State.
arrest sparked protests in the southwestern town of Baidoa on Dec. 13-15 that
were violently suppressed by Somalia’s security forces, leaving at least 15
a letter sent to the government, Haysom requested an investigation of the
protest violence and information on the legal basis for arresting Robow.
who took up the post of UN envoy in October, warned the council during a
meeting on Thursday of a risk of conflict during elections in Somalia’s federal
states due to tensions with the central authorities.
arrest of Robow could discourage other Al-Shabab militants “who may be
considering exchanging violence for a political path,” said Haysom.
Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman told the council that the UN should not interfere
in his country’s national affairs.
Al-Shabab militants “cannot assume leadership positions without going through
stringent established rehabilitation programs,” he said, adding that a
terrorist should not be allowed to rebrand himself as an “ice cream
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