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Islamic World News (16 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Remove 'Sindh' From National Anthem, We'll Sing It: Lucknow Madrasa




















Flag hosting at Darul Uloom Jamia Nadwatul Ulema on Independence Day

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Remove 'Sindh' From National Anthem, We'll Sing It: Lucknow Madrassa

Indonesian President Calls to Safeguard Pluralism from Extremist Threat

After Ansari, US Report Claims Muslims in India Feel Vulnerable

Defected Militant Commander Says Al-Shabab Not Serving Islam

Religious Freedom under Attack in Pakistan: US

 

India

Remove 'Sindh' From National Anthem, We'll Sing It: Lucknow Madrassa

I-Day Programmes in Madrasas: ‘We Have To Ensure That We Will Not Let Riots Take Place’

Madrassas in Mumbai send out a big freedom message

In Uttar Pradesh madarsa, teachers record Independence Day, just in case

Pakistan troops violate ceasefire, shells LoC areas in Poonch

Terror funding case: NIA conducts searches at 12 locations in J&K

Violence by Cow Vigilantes Increased In India In 2016: US Report

If sent back forcibly, we’ll be killed: Rohingya Muslims on deportation

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian President Calls to Safeguard Pluralism from Extremist Threat

‘Time for Muslims to Gain Independence from Scholars, Leaders’: Former Malay Minister

Don’t cause unease among Malaysians, IGP tells atheists

Indonesia clinic gives relief to Muslims with tattoo regrets

Biggest Muslim organisation in Indonesia rejects total alcohol ban

Indonesia says militants preparing chemical attacks nabbed

Scholars urge universities to promote moderate Islam

Thwarted Chemical Attack Points to Higher Sophistication of Terror Plots

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North America

After Ansari, US Report Claims Muslims in India Feel Vulnerable

ISIL Biggest Threat to Religious Freedom

Tillerson Raps Some US Allies for Religious Freedom Violations, Slams IS

US army sends Lebanon eight Bradley armored vehicles

Bahrain must stop discriminating against Shias: Tillerson

Canadian Muslims Abused By Their Government Have To Rely On The Law

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Africa

Defected Militant Commander Says Al-Shabab Not Serving Islam

Tunisian Islamic Scholars Support President’s Call for Gender Equality

Nigeria bombing kills 30, injures 80 in Borno state

Haftar: Army insists on extending its control over the entire Libyan territory

ICC issues arrest warrant for Libya commander

Somalia: Robow Speaks to Media in Mogadishu, Renounces Violence

Nine dead as UN bases come under twin attack in Mali

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Pakistan

Religious Freedom under Attack in Pakistan: US

Fewer Pakistanis Finding Work In Saudi Arabia

No good or bad terrorirts, Kabul tells Islamabad

Shariah Academy Holds Int’l Moot on Rights of Child in Islam

Pakistan Court Seeks To Amend Blasphemy Law

ECP reserves judgement on PTI's appeal to halt foreign funding case proceedings

Death toll from Harnai attack rises to eight

Two 'TTP men' killed during CTD operation in Karachi

Mufti Shakir group responsible for killing cops eliminated

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Mideast

Rouhani: Iran Could Revive Pre-JCPOA N. Capabilities in Only Hours

Hezbollah Victories Herald End of Daesh In Region: Iran Official

Working tirelessly for a political settlement in Yemen, says UK envoy

Israel arrests Islamic cleric for ‘incitement’

Saudi Crown Prince meets members of Yemeni House of Representatives

Saudi joint forces ambush Houthi militias near Jazan

Iran, Russia, Turkey mark a new turn with $7 billion drilling deal

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South Asia

Mass Graves Found After Afghan Forces Recapture Shia Village from Taliban

Three aid workers killed in Afghanistan: officials

Suspected Islamist militant killed in Bangladesh raid

Noor harshly criticizes Stanikzai and Atmar after clashes in Balkh airport

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Europe

MPs Slam Sun Over 'Muslim Problem' Opinion Piece

US Failed In Afghanistan Campaign, Must Withdraw Forces: Russia Official

Italy ambassador to return to Cairo after standoff over murdered student

Libya’s General Haftar meets Russian ministers, demands military help

Christian Hungary on Collision Course with European Union's Islamic 'Blackmail'

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Arab World

Deir Ezzur: ISIL Executes Non-Syrian Members on Charges of Fleeing Battlefield

Long Convoy of ISIL's Military Vehicles Destroyed in Syrian Armed Forces' Attack in Homs

Syrian Army Captures One More Strategic Hill in Eastern Hama

Syrian Air Force Dispatches More Warplanes to Kuweires Airbase in Aleppo

Iraqi Air Force Kicks off Heavy Raids on ISIL's Defense Lines in Tal Afar

Gunmen in More Regions End Battle with Syrian Army

Saudi Arabia affirms it has never requested Iranian mediation

Lebanese army makes gains against Daesh on Syrian border

Al-Musawara neighborhood totally destroyed, Saudi Arabia says

Lebanese army tightens noose around Daesh by advancing along Syrian border

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/remove--sindh--from-national-anthem,-we-ll-sing-it--lucknow-madrassa/d/112218


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Remove 'Sindh' from national anthem, we'll sing it: Lucknow madrassa

Urooj Khan

Aug 15, 2017

LUCKNOW: Clerics, teachers and students of world renowned Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema celebrated the Independence Day with enthusiasm. After hoisting of the national flag at the top of the old building of Nadwa, teachers and students sang 'Saare Jahan se Accha Hindostan Hamara' followed by special prayers for the safety and prosperity of the country.

"It has been a tradition since 1947 to offer special prayers for the country after hoisting flag on the Independence day. It was followed this year as well," said Nadwa Maulana Khalid Ghazipuri Nadwi, a cleric. When asked why national anthem was not sung, he said that 'Jan Gan Man..." has the word 'Sindh' which is now in Pakistan. We cannot pray for Pakistan. If government removes the word, we will sing it proudly," he added.

Nadwa is not affiliated with the UP Madrassa Board which directed all madrassas to celebrate Independence Day and videograph it as an evidence. "Though we have not received any directions from the Board, we read in newspaper that government wants madrassas to keep evidence, hence we conducting photography and video recording of the events," said Maulana Dr Saeedur Rehman Azmi, principal of of the institution.

"We celebrate Independence every year but it is the first time that media has come to record the event, said Mohammad Saqib a student pursuing Aalim course. "We have a group song team which practiced for months to sing Sare Jahan Se Achcha," said Mohammad Intekhab a student.

On the other hand, students and teachers of Maulana Azad Memorial Madrassa in Balaganj, affiliated to UP Madrassa Board, also celebrated Independence day with flag hoisting and national anthem. Principal Qari Sabir Husain said the madrassa has been doing this for years. Had media paid attention earlier, the myth that madrassas don't celebrate national days would have been busted long ago."

At Nadwa, the three-hour program started at 8.30 am with hoisting of flag by the principal. Sweets were distributed as everyone greeted each other "Azaadi ka din mubaraq ho". Some students were also seen recording events in their mobile phone cameras.

In their address, clerics spoke on the history of independence struggle and contribution of Muslim freedom fighters in the movement. It was followed rendering of patriotic poetry in Urdu by Maulana Raeesus Shakri.

Ghazipuri told students that Nawab Sirajuddaula and Tipu Sultan were among first freedom fighters. Prominent freedom fighters associated with Nadwa include Maulana Shibli Nomani, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Allama Iqbal and Maulana Hasrat Mohani.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/remove-sindh-from-national-anthem-well-sing-it-lucknow-madrassa/articleshow/60075208.cms

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Indonesian president calls to safeguard pluralism from extremist threat

16 Aug 2017

Indonesia's president said on Wednesday that the world's most populous Muslim-majority country needed to pull together to meet the threat of extremism and safeguard a constitution that enshrines religious freedom and diversity.

In an address to parliament ahead of Thursday's independence day, President Joko Widodo peppered his speech with references to the need to address inequality in Southeast Asia's biggest economy and tackle the threat of radicalism.

Indonesian police on Tuesday arrested five suspected Islamist militants and seized chemicals near the capital, Jakarta, that they said were being used to make bombs for attacks on the presidential palace at the end of August.

Religious tension in Indonesia has soared since late last year after Islamist-led rallies saw Jakarta's then governor, a member of a so-called double minority who is ethnic Chinese and Christian, put on trial during city elections over claims he insulted the Koran.

"We want to work together not only in creating an equitable economy, but also in ideological, political, social and cultural development," said Widodo.

"In the field of ideology, we have to strengthen our national consensus in safeguarding Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, the unity of the Republic of Indonesia and "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" (unity in diversity)," he said.

Pancasila is Indonesia's state ideology, which includes belief in god, the unity of the country, social justice and democracy, and which enshrines religious diversity in an officially secular system.

But there are worries about growing intolerance undermining a tradition of moderate Islam in a country where Muslims form about 85 percent of the population, alongside substantial Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other minorities.

In April, the then Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of Widodo, lost the bitterly fought city election to a Muslim rival and was later jailed for blasphemy, a sentence rights groups and international bodies condemned as unfair and politicised.

"Because the challenges we face now and will face in the future are not easy. We are still confronted with poverty and injustice; we are still facing global economic uncertainty, and we are also facing movements of extremism, radicalism and terrorism," said Widodo.

The president said the government needed to ensure that all state agencies "gain the highest trust of the people" and noted he had set up a presidential taskforce to oversee the teaching of the state ideology Pancasila, particularly to the young.

(This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-indonesian-president-calls-to-safeguard-pluralism-from-extremist-threat-2531329

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After Ansari, US report claims Muslims in India feel vulnerable

Aug 16, 2017

Washington : There was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups mostly against Muslims in India in the year 2016, an official US report on international religious freedom said on Tuesday, noting that authorities often “failed” to prosecute cow vigilantes.

The report, the first under the Trump administration, released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said members of the civil society expressed concerns that under the BJP government religious minority communities felt vulnerable due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and places of worship.

“There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize,” the US State Department said in its annual report, which does a country-wise review of the religious freedom in the year 2016.

The report said that there was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation.

Listing out some of the anti-minorities incidents by cow protection groups, the report said that the authorities often “failed” to prosecute the offenders.

In its report, the State Department notes that the Supreme Court was considering a case challenging the constitutionality of the Islamic practice of triple talaq, the federal government filed a brief in support of the challenge.

http://www.freepressjournal.in/india/after-ansari-us-report-claims-muslims-in-india-feel-vulnerable/1121945

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Defected militant commander says al-Shabab not serving Islam

Aug 15, 2017

The one-time deputy leader and a senior commander of Somalia’s al Shabab has called on for others to quit the Takfiri terrorist outfit following his defection to the government side in Mogadishu.

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, also known as Abu Mansur, who was also al-Shabab's spokesman, told reporters at a heavily guarded hotel in Mogadishu on Tuesday the militant group did not represent the interests of those it claimed to.

"I left al Shabab because of misunderstanding, and I disagreed with their creed which does not serve Islamic religion, people and the country," Sheikh Robow said, adding, "I urge the militants to leave al-Shabab."

The Somali government earlier announced that Sheikh Robow had finally defected to the country’s military.

Colonel Nur Mohamed, a Somali military officer, confirmed on Sunday that Sheikh Robow had defected to the government forces.

Sheikh Robow and his loyalists had been laying low in jungles of Bay and Bakool since the commander broke ties with Shabab four years ago.

He was target of several attacks by Shabab militants who tried to kill or capture him.

The government said in June that it had dispatched soldiers to protect the militant commander and that negotiations were underway to convince him to defect.

It was not immediately clear whether Sheikh Robow’s decision to defect was related to a move by the United States government two months ago to take off the notorious militant commander from a list of wanted terrorists. Washington removed a USD five-million reward for his capture and exonerated him from charges of sponsoring terrorism after five years.

The Somali government, which still grapples with Shabab-led militancy in some areas six years after the group was purged from the capital, hopes that recruiting Sheikh Robow could give the military more operational freedom in Bay and Bakool which could effectively slice Shabab's operational territory in two.

Some, however, have criticized the defection, saying Sheikh Robow should stand trial for the atrocities he has committed during years of insurgency.

The al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-aligned militant group, was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets seemingly at will in Mogadishu and regional towns.

The Takfiri militant group is just one of the challenges facing the new Somali government, which is still struggling to expand its authority beyond the capital and other selected areas.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531877/Somalia-Mukhtar-Robow-Abu-Mansur--alShabab-alQaeda-US

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Religious freedom under attack in Pakistan: US

16 Aug 2017

Religious freedom is under attack in Pakistan where minorities like Sikhs, Christians and Hindus remained concerned over government's "inadequate" action to address forced conversions to Islam.

Members of religious minority communities said that there continued to be inconsistent application of laws safeguarding minority rights and enforcement of protections of religious minorities at both the federal and provincial levels by the federal Ministry of Law, Justice, and Human Rights and its provincial counterparts, said the report released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"Religious minorities said they remained concerned that government action to address coerced conversions of religious minorities to Islam was inadequate," the report, first under the Trump administration, said.

"Religious freedom is under attack in Pakistan, where more than two dozen are on death row or serving a life imprisonment for blasphemy," Tillerson said in his speech as he released the 2016 International Religious Freedom report.

Religious minority community leaders continued to say that the government failed to take adequate action to protect minorities from bonded labour in the brick-making and agricultural sectors, an illegal practice in which victims were disproportionately Christians and Hindus, it said.

According to Hindu and Sikh leaders, the legal uncertainty surrounding the process of registering marriages for their communities continued to create difficulties for Hindu and Sikh women in obtaining their inheritances, accessing health services, voting, obtaining a passport, and buying or selling property, the report said.

"It is my hope that the new prime minister (Shahid Khaqan Abbasi) and his government will promote interfaith harmony and protect the rights of religious minorities," Tillerson said after releasing the Congressional mandated report.

The government marginalises Ahmadiyya Muslims and refuses to recognise them as Muslims, the report said.

In 2016, violence and abuses committed by armed sectarian groups connected to organisations banned by the government, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, as well as abuses by individuals and groups designated as terrorist organisations by the US and other governments, such as ISIL-K, continued, the report said.

Religious minority activists, however, said that they believed the Sindh Assembly's new law criminalising forced conversions, which passed in November but was under review by the Sindh Assembly at year's end, would be a step to restrict the practice and better protect minors belonging to religious minorities, it added.

http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world-religious-freedom-under-attack-in-pakistan-us-396650

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India

 

I-Day Programmes in Madrasas: ‘We have to ensure that we will not let riots take place’

by Aditi Vatsa

August 16, 2017

The students recited the national anthem as the Tricolour unfurled above them. No government official was present to oversee the celebrations at Darul-Uloom Sadia in Ghaziabad’s Muradnagar, but at least three mobile phones were recording the hour-long event. Two years ago, the madrasa was in the news for allegedly opting to sing Muhammad Iqbal’s ‘Sare jahan se achha’ instead of the national anthem on Independence Day — a charge rubbished by its management on Tuesday.

“Such a thing never happened. We have always celebrated Independence Day hoisting the national flag and singing the national anthem,” said Khalil Ahmad, manager of the madrasa. Before this Independence Day, the state government issued a circular to madrasas affiliated to Uttar Pradesh Madarsa Shiksha Parishad regarding flag hoisting and recitation of the national anthem at 8 am.

The madrasas were asked to pay tribute to martyrs, with students singing songs on nationalism and being told the history of the freedom struggle. Each madrasa was asked to record the events. The management of Darul-Uloom Sadia, however, said they did not receive the circular or any other directive.

Addressing the gathering of at least 100 students, Mehtab Alam, who is part of the management, said, “Many gave their lives for the country’s independence, we did not receive it as a gift. We have to conduct ourselves with caution and we should not get affected by communal forces… Now we have to ensure that we will not let riots take place in this country.”

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/i-day-programmes-in-madrasas-we-have-to-ensure-that-we-will-not-let-riots-take-place-4798676/

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Madrassas in Mumbai send out a big freedom message

Aug 16, 2017

Akash Sakaria

On Tuesday, as many as 75 madrassas and masjids hoisted the national flag and sang the national anthem to celebrate the 70th Independence Day of India.

Muslim clerics and Ulemas (scholars) unfurled the tricolour at various places in the city and followed it up with sermons and call for peace.

Bhendi Bazaar hosted the biggest flag-hoisting ceremony. More than 150 people sang the national anthem in unison. Anand Raj Ambedkar, grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar, was the chief guest.

“This was not our first Independence Day celebration and the numbers were also comparatively larger than last year. Some madrassas and masjids celebrated the day for the first time,” said Maulana Syed Moinuddin Ashraf, also known as Moin Miya, from Sunni Jama Masjid and founder of the Maharashtra Muslim Front.

“We wanted to send out a message that Muslims care for the country too. We played as much part in the country’s Independence as anyone else. Our patriotic feelings are unparalleled,” Maulana added.

Other madrassas organised events after the Tricolour was hoisted.

The Chishti Hindustani Masjid in Byculla has been celebrating the day for more than 50 years.

“There was a special taqreer (sermon) and the chief guests called for peace in the country. Our masjid has been hoisting the national flag ever since the country achieved independence. But there seems to be a sudden bout of patriotism among the community,” said Mohammed Irfan Aleemi, president of Aleemi Movement of India and member of All India Imam Tanzeem.

A meeting of Ulemas was held last week to discuss preparations for Independence Day celebrations. Religious leaders had urged the Ulemas to spread the message of patriotism among young Muslims.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/madrassas-in-mumbai-send-out-a-big-freedom-message/story-y30T0chjk3yMjz9A3PRhbM.html

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In Uttar Pradesh madarsa, teachers record Independence Day, just in case

by Sarah Hafeez

August 16, 2017

By half past seven, most of the 350 students had assembled at the 115-year-old Jamia Islamia madarsa in the town of Mau Aima, chatting while teachers taped Tricolour balloons on either side of classroom doors and stuck paper flags on table tops.

Microphones in place, the Tricolour secure atop a pole with rose petals sprinkled at the base, artificial flowers placed on tables for the guests of honour, the children, aged between three and sixteen, began falling into queues.

Teachers were dressed in their best, with a Tricolour badge on the chest, while students, wearing their blue-grey uniforms, added a touch of the Tricolour by sporting paper caps and satin ribbons. “Adil, why have you come in coloured clothes? Go back and change,” Saifullah, an assistant teacher rebuked a little boy who had sheepishly walked in wearing an orange shirt and jeans. Another boy was pulled up for rolling up his shirt sleeves.

As shy, giggling participants took their place before the flag post and teachers handed the last few scuffling children their flags, a young Zainab Manzoor, a post graduate in Arabic from Allahabad University who teaches the language at the madarsa, walked in, flashing a gold Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Some other teachers, including principal Mohammad Akmal, also began readying their phones for photographs.

“It’s a good phone. I have borrowed it from my family to record the programme,” said Manzoor, bestowed with the chief responsibility of ensuring that the celebrations were photographed and videographed as per the UP government notice to all madarsas.

Teachers at the madarsa said they have not been asked to formally submit photos and videos to the government but they are keeping the clips as a measure of precaution because of the August 3 notice.

Guest of honour Nadeem Intakhab said the madarsa had been one of the few pre-Independence era madarsas. President of the Jamia Islamia society which runs the co-ed Arabic-Persian medium madarsa, Intakhab said his ancestors had donated a plot to the madarsa in 1902. The madarsa which teaches children up to class 12 in the town of Mau Aima, roughly 40 km from Allahabad, is affiliated to the Uttar Pradesh Madarsa Education Board.

Once all the guests were in and the chatter died down, teachers took their positions on either side of the gathering and a group of senior girls huddled at the microphone to lead the programme. The Tricolour was hoisted at 8 am to the national anthem. The girls, all sporting Tricolour plastic cowboy hats over their pin-up hijabs, led with Iqbal’s ‘Saare Jahan se Achha’, the 350 strong-student body singing along.

Manzoor and her colleagues also sang, slightly distracted with having to hold up smartphones to record the event. “We have been celebrating Independence Day and Republic Day for years. This is a school. What else will we hold programmes on if not for this?”

Intakhab later said, looking around at the 8-room school with its unfinished second storey.

“The previous years we would begin at around 9 am,” Saifullah said. The Allahabad district minority officer, Prakash Tiwari, in charge for nearly 15 years, said all the 300 registered madarsas in the district have been celebrating Independence Day ever since.

“The madarsas always hold celebrations on August 15 and January 26. And no punitive action will be taken against those not celebrating it. The notice to videograph the event was for the purpose of maintaining archives, so that children can revisit them and enjoy them through the year. But we have been getting photos and videos on WhatsApp from madarsas across the district, though we have not formally asked for them,” Tiwari said.

Once all the children, mostly sent in by poor parents who work in the powerlooms and cracker factories of Mau Aima, seated themselves on the rug-mats around an old banyan tree, an hour-long programme followed.

“Kuch baat hai ki hasti mit-ti nahi hamari/Sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zaman hamara,” Meeraj Asif, one of the guests, recited Iqbal.

“When we say Indians were slaves under the British, it does not necessarily mean they all were in jail. Indians were slaves before Independence because they were under the watch of the British. When they were free from British rule and came unto themselves, they were then truly free. That is the meaning of freedom,” he said.

After teachers narrated events from the freedom struggle, Adil, a young student, was called on to recite a poem and Maryam a Na’at (religious poem). Intakhab then came up to the microphone and told the children that the true meaning of Azadi is the relentless pursuit of knowledge and education.

“We have come so far since Independence, but we have lagged behind in the sphere of education and employment. Instead of the pen and the schoolbag, there are weapons in the hands of the youth. That is why we have to pull up our socks and study hard,” another speaker said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/in-up-madarsa-teachers-record-independence-day-just-in-case-yogi-adityanath-forced-flag-hoisting-4798632/

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Pakistan troops violate ceasefire, shells LoC areas in Poonch

Aug 16, 2017

JAMMU: Pakistan on Wednesday resorted to firing and shelling on forward posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, prompting the Indian Army to give a befitting response.

"Pakistan army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars from 0534 hours today in Poonch sector along the Line of Control (LoC)," a defence spokesman said.

"Indian Army retaliating strongly and effectively", he added.

There had been reports of firing and shelling in Mankote sub-sector of Poonch too.

It may be recalled that Pakistan violated ceasefire 4 times on August 13 by resorting to firing and shelling in Krishnagati, Nowshera, Mankote and north Kashmir, resulting in injuries to three Jawans.

On July 12, Pakistan troops had heavily fired on forward posts and civilian areas in Krishnagati and Poonch sectors in which a junior commissioned officer (JCO) and a woman were killed.

Pak army's shells exploded near a house killing 40-year-old Raqia Bi of Gohlad Kalran on August 12. Naib Subedar Jagram Singh Tomar was also killed in Pakistan firing in Krishnagati sector on August 12.

On August 8, Pakistan troops resorted to firing and shelling in Krishnagati sector of Poonch district, in which Sepoy Pawan Singh Sugra was grievously injured and later succumbed to his injuries.

On August 7, an Army jawan was injured in a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Uri sector of Baramulla district.

On August 6, the Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire by firing at Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Baba Khori area of Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Prior to that, on July 30, Pakistani forces had resorted to firing from light weapons and medium machine guns in the Baba Khori belt of Naushera sector.

2017 has also seen a sharp increase in ceasefire violations at the LoC by Pakistan.

Till August 1, there had been 285 such violations by the Pakistan army while in 2016, the number was significantly less at 228 for the entire year, the figures said adding that last year, eight Army personnel were killed in the ceasefire violations.

Eleven people including nine soldiers, were killed and 18 injured in ceasefire violations by Pakistan army in the month of July.

There were 83 ceasefire violations, one BAT attack and two infiltration bids from the Pakistani side in June in which 4 people, including 3 jawans, were killed and 12 injured.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-troops-violate-ceasefire-shells-loc-areas-in-poonch/articleshow/60079947.cms

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Terror funding case: NIA conducts searches at 12 locations in J&K

Neeraj Chauhan

Aug 16, 2017

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency teams are carrying out raids at 12 places in Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla, Handwara and Srinagar in connection with its terror funding and civil unrest probe involving Hurriyat leaders.

Sources say that fresh raids have been carried out on those people who have financial links with the pro-Pakistani Hurriyat leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

The names of these persons have been disclosed by seven separatists, who were arrested by the agency last month for allegedly organising the funds and civil unrest in the valley.

NIA has already arrested Altaf Ahmad Shah "Funtoosh", Naeem Khan, Akbar Khandey, Raja Mehrajuddin, Farooq Dar, Shahid Ul Islam and Peer Saifullah during its probe while Syed Ali Shah Geelani's sons - Naeem and Naseem Geelani were last week questioned.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/terror-funding-case-nia-conducts-searches-at-12-locations-in-jk/articleshow/60080842.cms

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Violence by cow vigilantes increased in India in 2016: US report

August 16, 2017

There was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups mostly against Muslims in India in the year 2016, an official US report on international religious freedom said today, noting that authorities often “failed” to prosecute cow vigilantes. The report, the first under the Trump Administration, released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said members of the civil society expressed concerns that under the BJP government religious minority communities felt vulnerable due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and places of worship.

“There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize,” the State Department said in its annual report, which does a country wise review of the religious freedom in the year 2016.

It said that there was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation. “Hindus threatened and assaulted Muslims and Christians and destroyed their property,” said the Congressional-mandated 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

Listing out some of the anti-minorities incidents by cow protection groups, the report said that the authorities often “failed” to prosecute violence by cow protection groups against persons, mostly Muslims, suspected of slaughtering or illegally transporting cows or trading in or consuming beef.

In his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said violence in the name of faith is “not acceptable” and described casteism and communalism as “poison” for the country. His comments assume significance in the backdrop of incidents of lynchings by cow vigilantes.

Quoting the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), the US report said there were over 300 incidents of abuse targeting Christians during the year, compared with 177 in 2015. In its report, the State Department notes that the Supreme Court was considering a case challenging the constitutionality of the Islamic practice of instantaneous “triple talaq” divorce; the federal government filed a brief in support of the challenge.

“During his speech at Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh on October 24, Prime Minister Modi stated there should be no discrimination against women on the basis of religion and the government had the responsibility to protect Muslim women’s constitutional rights,” it said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/violence-by-cow-vigilantes-increased-in-india-in-2016-us-4798398/

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If sent back forcibly, we’ll be killed: Rohingya Muslims on deportation

Aug 15, 2017

The Centre’s decision to deport an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims to their native country Myanmar has triggered panic among 4,000-odd members of the ethnic group taking refuge in the old city of Hyderabad for the past six years.

Moulana Hameed-ul-Haq (50), a cleric at one of the Rohingya settlements in Balapur, says, “It will be better if we are killed in India than in our own country. We will anyway be killed if we are forcibly sent back.”

Moulana had fled Myanmar after 2011 violence in which thousands of Muslims were allegedly massacred by the Myanmar military and radical Buddhist monks. He reached Hyderabad through Bangladesh along with hundreds of other Rohingyas.

“The Indian government was kind enough to acknowledge us as refugees. The Telangnaa government has been looking after us really well and we feel safe and secure here. Now, suddenly the news about we being sent back has caused a lot of panic among us,” said Moulana .

Sultan Mohammad (70), who arrived in India three years ago after deserting his agricultural land at Rakhine state in Myanmar, works as a teacher in Hafiz Baba Nagar. “The military personnel attacked my house and destroyed all my property. I came to Hyderabad along with my wife and two sons. We are thankful to the Narendra Modi government for allowing us to stay here as refugees. I am nearing death and I want my family to survive,” said Sultan.

Though the government estimates say there are 40,000 Rohigya Muslims in India, Mazher Hussain, director of Confederation of Voluntary Associations, an NGO which has partnered with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), says the number is not more than 16,000. “They are not illegal migrants as claimed by the government, but are refugees as per the UN convention. In Hyderabad, all of them have been given identity cards by the UNHCR,” said Hussain.

The Rohingya Muslims have been living in subhuman conditions in the slums of Balapur, Hafeezbabanagar, Pahadishareef, Mir MominPahadi and Kishanbagh. Each family pays around ~600 as rent per month.

“Nearly 80% of the Rohigya Muslims living in these settlements are rag pickers or daily wage workers,” Mohammad Moosa Azmi, a registration officer working with UNHCR.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/if-sent-back-forcibly-we-ll-be-killed-rohingya-muslims-on-deportation/story-d87DUPOgiKyfRJPQH7HJWJ.html

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Southeast Asia

 

‘Time for Muslims to Gain Independence from Scholars, Leaders’: Former Malay Minister

August 16, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim has raised the bar in his criticism of some Muslim political leaders, religious leaders and Islamic scholars, calling for the people to be more independent from the control of such people.

In a blog posting entitled Merdeka 2017, the former minister said to mark the country’s Independence Day, all Muslims should also stop being led by the nose by these so-called Muslim leaders who offer nothing except promises and free lectures.

“Our country has now been independent for 60 years and it is high time that we follow suit. We too must be independent. We must think for ourselves,” he said.

Zaid also urged Muslims to question what these leaders and scholars are saying.

“If these leaders and scholars say they are doing something in the name of Islam, we must ask them probing questions to assess how true their words are.

“If they say they are an Islamic political party we must ask if their leaders keep stolen property. If they accept Umno now after dismissing the party as haram for decades we must ask them, what changed their mind?

“In this month of August, let us all ask a lot of questions so these hypocrites do not take advantage of our vote yet again,” he said.

Zaid also claimed that all these people of authority were either in denial or lacked interest on the issues facing Muslims in the country.

“Muslims here have a number of peculiar social problems, including incest, child marriage, premarital sex and children born out of wedlock, to name just a few.

“What these leaders and scholars have in common is a complete lack of interest in discovering the cause of these problems, or resolving the difficulties of the people who are affected by them,” Zaid said.

Zaid, who joined DAP earlier this year, chastised these Muslim leaders and politicians for their attitude.

“Passing laws and declaring fatwas is easy to do, but identifying the roots of social issues and giving real help to those affected by them is hard.

“That takes patience, compassion and yes, intelligence, qualities that we are hard-pressed to find among these leaders and scholars.

He added that these Muslim political leaders and so-called Islamic scholars instead only seem to argue among themselves over the appropriate hukum or punishment that must be meted out.

Taking particular aim at the Malaysian Islamic development department (Jakim), Zaid claimed that a lot of the large budget allocated by the government is spent on forums and roundtable discussions.

“However, they only hold these meetings to determine what sort of punishment they should dole out to ‘dastardly sinners’.

“But when it comes to providing help for those who suffer? Never. Why is that?” he said.

Calling these leaders and scholars “Talibans driving expensive cars”, Zaid went on to detail some of the problems that they refuse to acknowledge.

“They don’t want to admit to the world that Muslims are having serious drugs problems.

“They don’t want to admit that many Muslims are promiscuous.

“They don’t want to tell Muslims about universal morality that mankind has to live by, but only their limited understanding of Islam,” he said, adding that these people also talk as if Malays are so morally pure and do not commit any sin.

Touching on the recent issue on the naming of babies born out of wedlock, Zaid said the possibility of a child being given the generic “bin Abdullah” could result in someone inadvertently marrying someone who is actually related to them.

“When they decided on the bin Abdullah issue, they showed no interest in considering the effects of such a rule.

“Who would be responsible for the unwitting incest? Do these people weigh the pros and cons of their fatwa?”

Zaid also took a swipe at PKR saying that “some ambitious Malay opposition leaders are courting PAS, because they want to remain in power”.

“They are willing to go to bed with the people who have caused confusion and division among the Malays in the last 35 years,” he said, adding that he is throwing his support behind PAS-splinter Amanah.

“Let those opportunists do what they want, but Amanah must give hope to the millions of Muslims that Islam can be relevant and provide caring leadership to the country.”

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/08/16/time-for-muslims-to-gain-independence-from-scholars-leaders/

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Don’t cause unease among Malaysians, IGP tells atheists

August 16, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 ― Following public furore over a private atheist event, the police have warned non-believers today against causing any “unease” among Malaysians, especially the majority Muslims.

Malaysiakini quoted Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar as cautioning atheists to be mindful of the law.

“I wish to advise atheists to not cause unease among Malaysians, particularly Muslims who are against those who are irreligious,” he reportedly told the media in Bukit Aman.

“Their activities must not cause unease. I am warning them. Don't think you can do whatever you want. Be mindful of the law.”

Khalid however did not comment when asked whether the police have received reports from atheists over alleged violent and death threats from Muslims.

“If they receive threats, which is a violation of the law, we will investigate and take action,” he was quoted saying.

A photo of the gathering by the Kuala Lumpur chapter, or “consulate”, of the Atheist Republic has caused uproar from some in the Muslim community recently after it was highlighted by pro-Islamist blogs, leading to violent and death threats on social media.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/dont-cause-unease-among-malaysians-igp-tells-atheists#kvB2wEjMyJpuswjY.97

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Indonesia clinic gives relief to Muslims with tattoo regrets

August 16, 2017

TANGERANG, Indonesia - Each staccato rat-a-tat-tat of the laser firing an intense beam at the elaborate red, green and black dragon on Taufiq Hidayat's arm is, he prays, bringing him closer to God.

The shirtless, slender 30-year-old says he got his back, an arm and a leg tattooed to "look cool" back in the day when "I was a gang member, a thug at the market."

These days, Hidayat has a newfound zeal for Islam that includes the conviction that Muslims should not alter the body that God gave them. He became so desperate to remove the tattoos that he once applied caustic soda, scarring his arm.

Laser removal, which takes repeated treatment and may not be completely successful but is safer than other methods, was out of the question because it costs thousands of dollars for tattoos as extensive as Hidayat's.

Since his self-mutilation, Hidayat has chanced upon a clinic west of the capital, Jakarta, that is offering laser removal for free, on one condition: While being zapped, patients must read and learn by heart Surah Ar-Rahman, the 55th chapter of the Qur'an about God's gifts to man.

As a clinic worker aimed the white laser wand at Hidayat's skin, blasting the colour pigments with its penetrating light, he stared intently at his smartphone, reciting some of the 78 Ar-Rahman verses.

"Now I have a wife and a daughter. Sometimes she buys snacks that come with tattoo stickers that she applies to her skin. I said, 'Don't do it. It's not good for you.' And she replies, 'But you have a lot of tattoos. I wanna be like Daddy.' And in that moment I felt sad," said Hidayat, tears welling in his eyes.

He is among about 1,000 people who have signed up for free tattoo removal, say organizers of the program. About 200 people have finished or are still being treated and others are on a waiting list.

One of the instigators of the program, community activist Ahmad Zaki, first began offering tattoo removal several years ago to young punk rockers in Java who wanted to "berani hijrah" - dare to move closer to God.

Sometimes they had attempted to remove the tattoos in dangerous ways, with chemicals or slashing their skin with razors, he said.

The idea for the clinic in Tangerang grew from a discussion between Zaki and Rizki Sari, a physician who was a high school friend. Zaki said he and other activists collected about $8,000 in donations that helped Sari's clinic buy two lasers. News about the clinic has spread quickly, thanks in part to a "Dare to Hijrah" Instagram account.

"People with tattoos might think that it's art, culture or personal identity, but the community thinks otherwise," said Zaki, who also runs a religious charity sponsored by a local bank. "It's always false gods, satanic, sexual images, and that's not good."

Tattooing has lost much of its stigma in Western societies, becoming more or less mainstream, but in some Asian cultures it remains strongly associated with gangs and criminality. In addition to the religious prohibitions in Muslim-majority Indonesia, ideas about tattoos also reveal oppressive attitudes toward women, who if tattooed can be labeled as promiscuous or disreputable and not worth marrying.

Sri Novianti, who has a large red rose tattooed on one hand, Donald Duck drawings on her fingers and Powerpuff Girls and a ghostly tree on her arms, became a tattooist after graduating from high school because "for me tattoos are like art."

But the 19-year-old now wears a face-covering veil and all-encompassing clothing and wants her tattoos removed because she feels Indonesian men treat her with respect when she is fully covered.

"I saw the eyes of men and boys no longer looking at me in a disgusting way," she said. "Suddenly, for the first time I felt respected. I wanted to keep wearing the hijab, and I felt like I was a different person, an honourable woman."

The tattoos also caused difficulties at her mosque whenever she performed ablutions before praying.

"Many women seem shocked and cannot accept my presence because of my tattoos," Novianti said.

Sari, the doctor, said those accepted for laser treatment are ardent about getting their tattoos removed because the stigma and burden they experience prevents them from fully practicing their religion.

One participant, she said, had tried to iron his own skin in a misguided attempt to remove tattoos.

"Can you imagine the agonizing pain? That's how badly they want their tattoos removed," she said.

Fuad Ahmadi said he got his first tattoo - biomechanical images and his father's birth date - done by friends after he graduated from junior high school. Now 22, he said he's tried calcium hydroxide and other chemicals to remove that and five other tattoos.

Full report at:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/indonesia-clinic-gives-relief-to-muslims-with-tattoo-regrets-1.3547793

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Biggest Muslim organisation in Indonesia rejects total alcohol ban

Aug 16, 2017

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Fulled by growing concerns about the danger of bootleg liquor, the Jakarta branch of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organisation in the country, opposed on Tuesday (Aug 15) a total ban on alcohol in the capital.

Mr Abdul Wahid Hasyim, the head of the NU Jakarta research and development institute (Lakpesdam Jakarta), said that banning alcohol sales would result in an increased consumption of bootleg concoctions, which could lead to serious injuries or deaths.

According to a survey by Lakpesdam Jakarta of 327 teenagers across the city in February, 71.5 per cent of the respondents said they could easily get cheap oplosan, the local term for bootleg liquor, at herbal drink stalls.

The bootleg liquor, usually homemade, often causes poisoning as it is sometimes mixed with unsafe ingredients, such as mosquito repellent or paint thinners.

"No one has ever died from drinking beer, but our young people could die if they drink bootleg liquor," Mr Abdul said.

In September 2016, two residents of North Grogol, West Jakarta, died after consuming bootleg liquor made from alcohol and an energy drink.

Two months later, 10 men died in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, after consuming bootleg liquor from a producer in Kampung Rawa Badung, Cakung, East Jakarta.

A proposed alcohol ban has been a source of dispute in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country that has been recently gripped by a rise in Islamic conservatism.

In 2015, the Trade Ministry prohibited the sale of beer in minimarts. This has been cited as one of the reasons for the closure this year of 7-Eleven, a convenience store chain, that had earlier enjoyed popularity among young people hanging out over beer. Initiated by Islamist parties, the United Development Party (PPP) and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a controversial bill to prohibit alcohol is under deliberation at the House of Representatives.

The deliberation has been deadlocked as other parties have opposed a total ban, saying that there should only be controls on the distribution, sale and consumption of alcohol.

Support for regulated distribution of alcohol had earlier been voiced by Fatayat, the female wing of the NU, which argued that a total ban would go against the pluralistic nature of Indonesia.

"If a government policy leads to vastly increased distribution of and easier access to bootleg liquor, I think this would be the wrong step by the government," Mr Abdul said.

He said the total ban on alcohol sales in minimarts did not solve any problems, as it only increased the demand for bootleg liquor.

"As a Muslim, of course, alcohol is still haram (forbidden). But this is not about halal or haram, this is about saving our younger generation, this is about making an effective policy," he said.

Mr Ihsan Yunus, a member of House Commission VI overseeing trade, and a member of a special committee on the alcohol bill deliberation, said it was hard to combat the distribution of bootleg alcohol, making it safer to allow a limited distribution of legitimate alcohol.

"There has also been no research done on the correlation between alcohol consumption and crime," said the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker.

The Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) found that since 2010, there has been a significant increase in the consumption of illegal alcohol across Indonesia after several regions issued bans on alcohol sales.

According to a CIPS survey in several cities across Sumatra and Java, 38.7 per cent of respondents said they bought bootleg liquor because it was cheaper, while 20 per cent said it was because it was more accessible.

The CIPS said most bootleg liquor sellers sold liquor that contained dangerous ingredients such as methanol, and chemical ingredients such as insecticide.

According to media monitoring by the CIPS across Indonesia from 2013 to 2016, 487 people died as a result of illegal alcohol consumption; from 2008 to 2012 there were 149 such fatalities.

Mr Maksum Machfoedz, the deputy chairman of the NU, told The Jakarta Post that a ban on alcohol was still important, but it was not enough to curb alcohol consumption.

He said a ban would be pointless without character building so that young people would understand the dangers of alcohol.

Full report at:

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/biggest-muslim-organisation-in-indonesia-rejects-total-alcohol-ban

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Indonesia says militants preparing chemical attacks nabbed

Aug 15, 2017

Indonesian police said they arrested five suspected Islamic militants on Tuesday and seized chemicals that were to be used for attacks on several locations, including the presidential palace.

West Java police spokesman Yusri Yunus said the militants arrested in the city of Bandung were members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a network of about two dozen Indonesian extremist groups that formed in 2015 and pledges allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Yunus said among those arrested were a husband and wife who were deported about three years ago from Hong Kong on suspicion of spreading radical ideology.

The couple, a 20-year-old man and his 24-year-old wife, were arrested in Bandung's Kiaracondong neighborhood, not far from the rented house of a man believed to be the donor and bomb maker, Yunus said. He added that police discovered a chemical liquid in various containers at the house.

He identified the two other suspects as a 30-year-old from the East Java town of Kediri and a 28-year-old Bandung resident.

"They learn to make bombs from Bahrun Naim's blog," Yunus said, referring to an Indonesian fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria who has instigated several attacks by Jemaah Anshorut Daulah in Indonesia. "This arrest opened a new discovery linked to terror acts."

Yunus said the group planned to launch the attacks at the end of August, with targets including the presidential palace in Jakarta, as well as headquarters of the police's elite force in Jakarta and Bandung.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has carried out a sustained crackdown on Islamic militants since the 2002 bombings on the tourist island of Bali killed 202 people, mostly foreigners.

Full report at:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/indonesia-police-arrest-militants-preparing-chemical-attacks-49226341

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Scholars urge universities to promote moderate Islam

15 August 2017

JAKARTA: A conference of Islamic scholars from Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Malaysia on Monday explored the role of universities in strengthening moderate Islamic thought.

They urged Muslim communities to combat religious extremism and societal division by spreading knowledge about moderate Islam.

The conference was organized by the Muslim World League (MWL) and Al-Azhar Indonesia University in Jakarta.

The scholars said intensifying dialogue on moderate Islam will help veer young Muslims away from those who want to destroy the religion, its people and its civilization.

In his opening remarks, MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said a small faction of the roughly 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide has distorted understanding of Islam.

“The majority of Muslims around the world understand the right conception about Islam, except a minority few who have no idea about the core of Islamic teachings,” he said, adding that universities play an important role in rectifying misconceptions about Islam and terrorism.

Daesh “is just a small community in Islam, but it’s widespread due to the proliferation of the Internet. It’s our obligation, including universities, to set the record straight about the real Islamic teachings.”

Jakarta’s Governor-elect Anies Rasyid Baswedan, who was a panelist at the conference, said extremism flourishes when people do not think critically.

“It’s not just religious extremism but extremism in any field, any sector. University is the place to nurture critical thinking and creativity,” said the former rector of Paramadina University and education minister.

Indonesia has had to deal with rising extremism among its youths. A 2016 study by the Wahid Institute in Jakarta showed that more than 60 percent of 1,626 activists in Islamic study groups in schools and universities expressed willingness to wage what they believe is jihad in areas torn by religious conflict.

According to police data, some 600 Indonesians have gone to Syria to join Daesh. Some have returned in phases, most recently a group of 18 Indonesians who arrived in Jakarta on Saturday and are in police detention.

A Wahid Institute survey released in February showed that Indonesia saw an increase in violations of religious freedom from 190 in 2015 to 204 last year.

Institute Director Yenny Wahid said while the common perception is that lack of education is the main cause of radicalization, the survey found that economic inequality and feelings of alienation contributed the most to radicalization.

Speakers at the conference said it is important for the MWL and educational and social institutions in Indonesia to cooperate further to provide educational assistance to Muslims in Southeast Asia, roll out development programs in the region and address problems such as poverty.

Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said moderation is an Islamic characteristic that promotes fairness, respect for diversity and openness to various groups in society.

“One of the main principles of dialogue to maintain diversity and togetherness is not to look down on other people and insult other religions’ symbols, which could cause a backlash,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1145011/world

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Thwarted Chemical Attack Points to Higher Sophistication of Terror Plots

Aug 16, 2017

Jakarta. The arrests of five Islamic State-linked militants, including a woman, in West Java on Tuesday (15/08) show the increasing sophistication of planned terror plots in the country since last year's attack in Central Jakarta, which killed seven people.

Police said chemicals were seized at a house in Bandung, West Java, which were apparently being prepared for an attack on the Presidential Palace in Jakarta near the end of August.

Dozens of militants have been arrested in the West Java city in recent months after a pressure-cooker bomb was set off in a community park earlier in February.

"This time, they're not pressure-cooker bombs, but chemical bombs," Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus, spokesman for the West Java Police, told the Jakarta Globe.

"Through the air, people's skin can burn, and what if people inhale that? This is very dangerous."

Yusri said that five militants, arrested at three separate locations around Bandung, were planning to attack not only the Presidential Palace but also the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, West Java.

He added that the suspected militants, among them a married couple, were members of Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), a terror cell believed to be under the direction of Syria-based militant Bahrun Naim. JAD militants are believed to be operating in small, localized cells across the archipelago.

Police have alleged that JAD militants were also behind the twin suicide bombings in May at the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta, which killed three police officers.

"The [arrested militants] were within one Telegram group," he said, referring to the heavily-encrypted messaging service which the government previously limited access to over security concerns.

"They learned to make bombs from Bahrun Naim. Bomb-making manuals were obtained through his blog posts."

On Aug. 4, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) managed to disrupt two planned attacks by uncovering bomb components sent through postal services to Australia.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/thwarted-chemical-attack-points-higher-sophistication-terror-plots/

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North America

 

ISIL biggest threat to religious freedom

16 August 2017

ISIL is one the biggest threats to religious freedom around the world, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday in the State Department’s annual religious freedom report.

“ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled,” Tillerson wrote in the preface to the report. “ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other minorities.”

Tillerson added that ISIL continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death, saying the protection of the victims is a human rights priority for the Trump Administration.

"Where religious freedom is not protected, instability, human rights abuses and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root," the former Exxon CEO said. "No one should have to live in fear, worship in fear or face discrimination for his or her beliefs."

China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries were criticized for what the report said was failure to protect the rights of non-Muslim minorities.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/192982/isil-biggest-threat-to-religious-freedom

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Tillerson Raps Some US Allies for Religious Freedom Violations, Slams IS

Aug 16, 2017

Washington. United States allies including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain did not uphold principles of religious freedom in 2016, while Islamic State has carried out "genocide" against religious minorities, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday (15/08).

Tillerson made the comments at the State Department while introducing the agency's annual report on religious freedom, required by a 1998 act of Congress. The report is the first to be released during the Trump administration and covers 2016.

Saudi Arabia, Tillerson said, ought to "embrace greater degrees of religious freedom for all of its citizens." He cited criminal penalties for apostasy, atheism, blasphemy, and insulting the Saudi state's interpretation of Islam, as well as attacks and discrimination targeting Shi'ite Muslims.

The kingdom follows the strict Sunni Muslim Wahhabi school of Islam.

The report said Saudi Arabia has used counterterrorism laws to target atheists and Shiite Muslims. The United States and Saudi Arabia have long been close partners in counterterrorism efforts and the kingdom was the first stop on US President Donald Trump's maiden international visit.

Tillerson singled out another Gulf Arab state, Bahrain, saying it "must stop discriminating against the Shia communities."

In Turkey, a NATO ally, "authorities continued to limit the human rights of members of some religious minority groups," Tillerson said. American pastor Andrew Brunson has been jailed in Turkey since October on charges of being part of a terrorist organization, according to news reports.

Tillerson said religious freedom is "under attack" in Pakistan, citing the marginalization of Ahmadiyya Muslims, a minority sect which Pakistan considers non-Muslim.

Tillerson said IS, the Sunni extremist group that has controlled parts of Iraq and Syria, "is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled."

Tillerson said Iran targeted religious minorities including Baha'is and Christians, and in 2016 executed 20 people on charges including "waging war against God." He also called out China and Sudan in his remarks.

The Chinese government tortures and imprisons thousands for practicing their religious beliefs, Tillerson said, citing the targeting of Falun Gong members, Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. And in Sudan, the government arrests and intimidates clergy and blocks the construction of churches while tearing down existing ones, he said.

Tillerson's decision to introduce the report contrasted with how he handled the State Department's annual human rights report in March. He declined to unveil it in person, breaking with precedent, and drew criticism he was not giving rights issues adequate attention.

The report did not address Trump's attempt this year to temporarily suspend refugee admissions and his decision to impose a lower cap on the number of those admissions. The report states that resettlement is a "vital tool for providing refugees protection."

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/international/tillerson-raps-us-allies-religious-freedom-violations-slams/

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US army sends Lebanon eight Bradley armored vehicles

15 August 2017

In the presence of the Lebanese army commander representative and the American ambassador in Beirut, the Lebanese army received eight Bradley armored vehicles in a first batch of $100 million US military aid to Lebanon.

The vehicles are part of 32 others the Lebanese army is expected to receive from Washington in the coming months. This is part of a US investment, estimated at more than $100,000 which aims to supply the Lebanese army with new capabilities.

Washington had also supplied Beirut with defense equipment including guns, military vehicles, ammunitions, rockets and others last year.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/08/15/US-army-sends-Lebanon-eight-Bradley-armored-vehicles.html

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Bahrain must stop discriminating against Shias: Tillerson

Aug 15, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on the Bahraini regime to stop discriminating against Shias residing in the Persian Gulf country.

"In Bahrain, the government continue to question, detain and arrest Shia clerics, community members and opposition politicians," said the top diplomat Tuesday.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the tiny kingdom in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

"Members of the Shia community there continue to report ongoing discrimination in government employment, education, and the justice system," adding that "Bahrain must stop discriminating against the Shia communities," Tillerson (pictured above)  said.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on anti-regime activists.

Tillerson further asserted that “Bahrain must stop discriminating against the Shia communities," which compose the majority of the country’s population.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531891/Tillerson-defends-Shias-in-Bahrain

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Canadian Muslims Abused By Their Government Have To Rely On The Law

 08/15/2017

Canadian Muslims live in a country where citizens generally enjoy equality and freedom. But sometimes they are forced to turn to the courts in order to protect themselves from abuse from their own government. For this blessing they have to thank the country's judicial system and former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who left behind the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as his legacy for Canadians for all times to come.

The most recent example is that of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, whom the government has agreed to compensate and to whom it has apologized for violating his rights and for being complicit in his severe abuse by U.S. authorities. The government had to do so because the Supreme Court of Canada decreed that the government had violated Khadr's "most fundamental rights," acted "contrary to Canada's international human rights obligations" and offended "the most basic Canadian standards."

Khadr was 15 when he was taken to Afghanistan by his notorious father, Ahmed Khadr. Omar, a child soldier who had himself been injured, allegedly hurled a grenade in a battlefield against American forces. He was captured by U.S. forces and detained by U.S. authorities for 10 years in Guantanamo Bay where he was tortured. Canadian officials interviewed him there and passed on their findings to U.S. authorities.

On his return to Canada, Khadr sued the government. After the courts ruled in 2010 that Canadian officials violated his rights, the government decided to settle the matter by issuing a public apology and by paying him some $10 million in compensation last month.

This trend started in 2007 when the government paid Canadian citizen Maher Arar $10.5 million and another $1 million for his legal costs. This came after a Canadian judge blamed Canadian authorities for their role in the U.S. arresting Arar, when he was passing through the U.S., and shipping him to Syria where he was tortured. The judicial inquiry found that Arar had done no wrong and that the Canadian government was partly responsible for his plight. Arar sued the government on his return to Canada and the government settled out of court.

The government took the same action this year with three other Canadian Muslims, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin. They sued the government after an inquiry, led by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, declared that Canadian officials' actions had contributed to the torture of these Canadians in Syria and Egypt. They launched a $100-million suit against the government that had to apologize to them and pay compensation because of its role in their torture.

This year the government also settled out of court one of two lawsuits by Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, who was stranded in Sudan — sometimes in jail — because the Canadian government made his return to Canada impossible. A federal court judge intervened and the Conservative government had to relent in 2009.

Two years ago, the Conservative government also settled out of court with now-Canadian citizen Benamar Benatta. In 2001, Canadian authorities handed over Benatta, who was then a refugee claimant from Algeria, to the FBI as a terror suspect. The Americans kept him in jail for nearly five years before finding that he was not a terrorist. He then returned to Canada.

In all these cases the government settled out of court because the judiciary found Canada complicit in the mistreatment or torture of its own innocent citizens.

This year, the National Council of Canadian Muslims also settled the libel lawsuit that it had filed against the former Conservative government and Jason MacDonald, director of communications for former prime minister Stephen Harper.

MacDonald had made a statement in January 2014 implying a link between NCCM and terrorist organizations. The NCCM then sued MacDonald and the government.

This March, NCCM reached an agreement with MacDonald. It is not known what compensation was paid to NCCM. But a joint statement by MacDonald and NCCM was issued that said in part:

"Mr. MacDonald accepts that his statement in January of 2014 does not accurately reflect the activities of the NCCM, its Board of Directors or its employees....

Jason MacDonald accepts that the NCCM is a Canadian Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization committed to civic engagement and the promotion of human rights; that the NCCM is an important contributor to public discourse on issues that impact diverse Canadian communities; and that the NCCM categorically condemns terrorism, violent extremism, and all individuals and groups who espouse violent goals."

Full report at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/mohammed-azhar-ali-khan/canadian-muslims-abused-by-their-government-have-to-rely-on-the_a_23075580/

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Africa

 

Tunisian Islamic scholars support president’s call for gender equality

15 August 2017

Tunisian authorities on Islamic fatwas at Diwan al-Ifta announced their support for President Beji Caid Essebsi’s proposals granting women further equal rights.

In a speech on the occasion of the National Women’s Day, the Tunisian President announced the formation of a committee to study the issue of individual rights and to activate them further and to consider equality between men and women in all fields.

In a statement on Monday, the Islamic scholars said that Essebsi’s proposals support the status of women and guarantee the principle of equality between men and women in the rights and duties called for by Islam, as well as the international conventions ratified by the Tunisia as a whole.

He said that inheritance is not a religious matter, but rather a matter for human beings. “God and His Messenger have left the matter for human beings to act,” he said.

The Tunisian president also called on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice to review and change publication No. 73, which prohibits Tunisian woman from marrying a foreigner if his Islamic faith is not recognized by the Mufti, adding that the Tunisian Constitution recognizes freedom of belief and freedom of conscience in its sixth chapter and holds the state responsible for ensuring the protection of these freedoms.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2017/08/15/Tunisian-Islamic-scholars-support-president-s-call-for-equal-rights-for-women.html

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Nigeria bombing kills 30, injures 80 in Borno state

Aug 16, 2017

At least 30 people have been killed and some 80 more wounded in a bombing attack in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno.

According to a member of the local civilian defense forces, the attack was carried out in the town of Mandarari, located some 25 kilometers from the state capital Maiduguri.

“Three female bombers triggered their explosives outside of the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp... killing 28 people and wounding 82 others," said Baba Kura. “People were trying to close their shops when two other female bombers triggered their explosives, causing most of the casualties," he added.

A local medical source said that following the blasts a "huge number" of people were admitted to the Maiduguri hospital. Two of the wounded succumbed to their injuries in the hospital.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but such incidents are usually blamed on the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group, which is particularly active in the country’s northeast region.

In recent weeks, a number of bomb attacks by suspected members of Boko Haram have taken place in the capital of Borno state and its environs. Mosques, markets, camps for those displaced by the conflict in Nigeria and civilians have been targeted across the region.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/16/531897/nigeria-blast-borno-boko-haram

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Haftar: Army insists on extending its control over the entire Libyan territory

14 August 2017

The commander of the Libyan army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar confirmed the insistence of the Libyan troops to continue fighting “until the armed forces extends its control over the entire Libyan territory.”

On Monday morning and during a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Haftar asserted: “We have been involved in political settlements at the request of sister countries. I started with meeting the President of the Presidential Council Fayez Al-Siraj in Abu Dhabi and then in Paris, but he disregarded many of the agreed upon principles and conditions.”

He added that: “The whole world has been following the sacrifices of the army for three years in its fight against terrorism under an unjust siege represented by the prohibition of arming it in parallel with unlimited support for terrorism,” stressing that the army is determined to continue its mission in the fight against terrorism throughout the country.

International mediators called not to resort to what he called “ready-made solutions to resolve the Libyan crisis,” asserting that there will not be any support for any political settlement unless it is “ under the sponsorship of the United Nations, and that Moscow actively supports the political process and the restoration of the Libyan state structures.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2017/08/14/Haftar-Army-insists-on-extending-its-control-over-the-entire-Libyan-territory.html

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ICC issues arrest warrant for Libya commander

Aug 15, 2017

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, a senior Libyan military commander, over the death of 33 people in the war-torn city of Benghazi.

The Hague-based tribunal said in a statement Tuesday that Werfalli was “allegedly responsible for murder as a war crime in the context of the non-international armed conflict in Libya.”

Werfalli, 39, is loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar, a former general under long-time dictator Muammar Ghaddafi. Haftar heads the most powerful military in the chaotic Libya and his forces recently managed to retake Benghazi after a three-year campaign against other militant groups.

The ICC judges accuse Werfalli of personally shooting or ordering the execution of people who were either civilians or injured fighters in at least seven incidents in 2016 and 2017.

The judges said in statement that there was no evidence those killed by Werfalli and his forces had faced due trials.

“There is no information in the evidence to show that they have been afforded a trial by a legitimate court, whether military or otherwise, that would comport to any recognized standard of due process,” said the statement.

The judges counted as evidence on videos for bringing charges against the Libyan commander. One of the videos, that the judges said depicted an incident involving a total 20 executed persons and was posted on social media on 23 July 2017, showed Werfalli reading from a document before personally commanding a firing squad to shoot 15 people dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods. He then is seen personally executing three people with the help of two other men and then ordering the execution of two others.

In another video, Werfalli personally shoots a hooded and unarmed person.

“You have been misled by he who did you harm. You have been misled by Satan,” the Libyan commander is seen in the video telling the dead body afterwards.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531870/ICC-Libya-commander-prosecution

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Somalia: Robow Speaks to Media in Mogadishu, Renounces Violence

15 AUGUST 2017

Former Al shabaab deputy leader and spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali known as "Abu Mansur" has fir the first time faced the media in Mogadishu, to renounce violence.

Speaking at a press conference at Royal Palace in the capital, Robow has announced that he has defected from Al shabaab just five years and 5 years, and 7 months ago.

Continuing, Sheikh Mukhtar said he has deserted the militant group after a fall out with the top leader over an ideology that doesn't serve the interest of Islam, people and country.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201708150311.html

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Nine dead as UN bases come under twin attack in Mali

Aug 16, 2017

BAMAKO - Gunmen have attacked two United Nations bases in Mali, killing a peacekeeper, a contractor and seven Malians, the UN said, in the latest attacks on its presence in the country.

The Togolese peacekeeper and a Malian soldier were killed in an attack in the early morning in Douentza, in the central region of Mopti, according to a statement from the UN mission in the country, known by the acronym MINUSMA.

Hours later, six men toting guns and grenades drove up to the entrance of the UN mission’s camp in Timbuktu in northwestern Mali, the UN announced in a separate statement.

They opened fire on Malian UN security guards, killing five of them, as well as a policeman and a civilian contractor whose nationality was not specified, the UN said in a separate statement. A UN source told AFP six guards had been killed, but the statement said one was wounded but had not died.

Two suspected jihadists were killed in the Douentza attack and six in Timbuktu. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the violence in a statement, stressing that attacks targeting UN peacekeepers “may constitute war crimes under international law”.

The body’s 15-member Security Council urged Mali to investigate the incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The assault underlines the scale of the UN’s struggles to contain a death toll among its peacekeepers that has already earned its Mali mission the unwelcome title of the world’s deadliest active UN deployment.

Another peacekeeper was lightly wounded in Douentza and six others, as well as a Malian security guard, suffered injuries in Timbuktu, according to the UN statements.

“I don’t have enough words to condemn this cowardly and ignoble act a few hours after the terrorist attack we endured in Douentza,” said UN Special Representative for Mali, Mahamat Saleh Saleh Annadif, in a statement.

“We must combine all our efforts in order to identify and apprehend those responsible for these terrorist acts so that they can answer to their crimes in court,” Annadif added.

A Malian security source meanwhile told AFP that the Timbuktu security guards were “killed on the spot,” though the attack soon attracted the attention of Malian forces and French helicopters stationed in the area, who fired on the attackers.

On Monday night, reinforcements were deployed to both bases and in the city of Timbuktu itself.

Active in Mali since 2013, the UN mission, known as MINUSMA, is constantly targeted by jihadists that roam northern and central Mali, and has also been beset by operational difficulties including a lack of helicopters and allegations of abuse lodged by the population.

Last week, UN peacekeepers accused former rebel fighters and a rival pro-government militia in the north of the country of having used child soldiers in recent clashes.

In 2012, key cities in northern Mali fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda, who exploited an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, leading to a French-led military intervention and the eventual deployment of MINUSMA.

Although the Islamists were largely ousted, attacks have continued on UN and French forces, civilians and the Malian army.

Monday’s attacks in Mali came hours after an assault in Ouagadougou, the capital of the neighbouring Sahel state of Burkina Faso, where 18 people were gunned down at a restaurant popular with foreigners.

France is pushing for five countries in the western-central Sahara region to form a joint “G5” force to combat jihadism.

It would comprise 5,000 men drawn from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/16-Aug-2017/nine-dead-as-un-bases-come-under-twin-attack-in-mali

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Pakistan

 

Fewer Pakistanis finding work in Saudi Arabia

Shahid Iqbal

August 16, 2017

KARACHI: The export of manpower sharply dropped in the first half of the current calendar year, latest data from the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment shows.

In particular, the manpower export to Saudi Arabia in the first six months of 2017 was just 17 per cent of the total workers who went to the kingdom in entire 2016. Pakistan exported to Saudi Arabia 77,600 workers in January-June as opposed to 462,598 workers in entire 2016.

The drastic decrease can adversely impact remittances, which registered a year-on-year decline in 2016-17 after 13 years of growth. Inflows from Saudi Arabia during the last fiscal year dropped 8.3pc.

A major drop in the number of workers registered for overseas employment was witnessed mostly in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest source of remittances. Pakistani workers based in the kingdom sent home $5.4bn, which was more than 28pc of total remittances that the country received in 2016-17.

Job opportunities shrank in Arab countries after oil prices crashed. Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to meet the current account deficit, which amounted to $12.1bn in the last fiscal year. Remittances from the Middle East amount to about 63pc of total remittances that Pakistan receives every year.

This leaves little hope for the country to maintain its foreign exchange reserves to ensure at least three months of import cover.

It is unlikely that the Middle East will welcome more Pakistani workers in the near future as oil prices have not recovered yet. This is alarming for the country that is already engulfed in a political crisis while its exports have been declining for the last four years.

Overseas workers have started coming back to Pakistan after losing their jobs. With mounting economic pressure, the Gulf countries are trying to provide the maximum number of jobs to Arabs. No official data is available for returning overseas workers. But sources claim that about 260,000 Pakistani workers returned home during the last couple of years.

According to the bureau, the manpower export to Malaysia was 3,243 in January-June as opposed to 10,625 in entire 2016.

Despite pressure on foreign exchange reserves, the government has not made any strategy to increase the export of manpower that can help bridge the trade deficit.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1351745/fewer-pakistanis-finding-work-in-saudi-arabia

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No good or bad terrorirts, Kabul tells Islamabad

16-Aug-17

by Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday told a top Pakistani diplomat that there should be ‘no distinction between good and bad terrorists’.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, who was in Kabul for the first round of Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral political consultations, met President Ghani at the Presidential Palace and discussed bilateral issues.

She is the first senior Pakistani official to travel to Kabul after political change in Pakistan last month.

Afghan president, while referring to the terrorist threat in the region, said that there should be no distinction between good and bad terrorists as terrorism was a serious threat to the people of both countries, according to the Afghan presidential palace.

President Ghani raised Afghanistan’s security concerns and drew attention of the Pakistani official towards ‘rocket attacks along the Durand Line’, urging her to share his concerns with the new leadership in Islamabad.

He said that Pakistan should take substantive and practical measures based on discussions in the London meeting. He said that a third party should thoroughly and impartially monitor the process so that it could yield results.

The foreign secretary said that Pakistan was concerned at the security situation in the region and that she will convey Kabul’s concerns to the country’s new leadership, according to the statement.

Earlier Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Afghan Deputy Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai agreed to take steps to enhance mutual trust and confidence, Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Both the officials held the first round of Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral political consultations and agreed to work together through different mechanisms to bridge the trust gap.

In the bilateral consultations, a wide range of issues including the Afghan peace process, security along Durand Line and bilateral trade and transit were discussed.

The two sides expressed their interest to enhance bilateral trade which has been in a decreasing trajectory in the recent times, said the statement.

Both sides also agreed to provide sufficient facilities to the traders and eliminate the factors which hamper bilateral trade.

Karzai stressed the importance of recent bilateral political, security and economic engagements and fulfilling the commitments including those made in the format of Quadrilateral Coordination Group, the meeting of the leaders of the two countries in Astana, the agreements made during the visit of the foreign minister of China to Kabul and Islamabad and during the meetings of senior officials of Afghanistan and Pakistan on different occasions.

The second round of Afghanistan-Pakistan bilateral political consultations will be held in the first quarter of 2018.

Foreign affairs experts are upbeat at the Pak-Afghan bilateral ties at a time when the relationship is its lowest ebb.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/16-Aug-17/no-good-or-bad-terrorirts-kabul-tells-islamabad

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Shariah academy holds int’l moot on rights of child in Islam

Aug 16, 2017

A three day international conference on “Rights of the Child in Islam” organized by Shariah academy commenced on Tuesday, where academicians and experts, child rights activists,, judges, lawyers, journalists and religious scholars discussed obligations of parents, individuals and the state to protect the rights of the child, Right of the child within the family and many other salient topics and themes.

The Shariah Academy is holding this conference in collaboration with United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Pakistan which is focused to discuss and recommend future policy development for the strengthened realization of the rights of children living in Muslim-majority states.

The inaugural ceremony was chaired by the IIUI Rector, Dr. Masoom Yasinzai, while Chief Guest of the ceremony was Justice Retired Ali Nawaz Chowhan, Chairman NCHR Pakistan, whileit was also attended by IIUI President, Dr. Ahmed Yousif Al-Draiweesh, Ambassadors of various countries, UNICEFrepresentatives, Vice President AF&P, Dr. Muhammad Munir and IIUI faculty and students.

The conference’s recommendations can be a great source of help regarding the legislation in the bill on juvenile system, said Justice Chowhan. He added that rights of the child being violated by few negative elements who unfortunately use name of religion in this regard and plan destructive activities such as suicide bombings. He emphasized on the need that universities such as IIUI must be part of main stream to recommend ways and urge for the protection of child rights in the Muslim societies. Justice Chowhan called upon the Muslim world to devise well balanced curriculums to enlighten children.

http://pakobserver.net/shariah-academy-holds-intl-moot-rights-child-islam/

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Pakistan court seeks to amend blasphemy law

by Saba Aziz

Aug 16, 2017

Blasphemy and accusations of the crime have led to the deaths of dozens of people in Pakistan since 1990.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticised and called for the reform or repeal of the country's controversial blasphemy laws, which date back to the British empire.

The Islamabad High Court asked parliament on Friday to make changes to the current decree to prevent people from being falsely accused of the crime, which is punishable by death if the Prophet Muhammad is insulted.

Other punishments include a fine or prison term, depending on the specific offence.

In a lengthy 116-page order, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui suggested that parliament amend the law to require the same punishment of the death penalty for those who falsely allege blasphemy as for those who commit the crime.

"Currently, there is a very minor punishment for falsely accusing someone of blasphemy," the judgement said.

Under the existing law, the false accuser faces punishments ranging from two years in prison to life imprisonment.

Mehdi Hasan, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, welcomed the Islamabad court's move seeking amendment for the law.

"This law is being misused by people to take revenge against their opponents, and it is very easy to charge anyone for blasphemy," he told Al Jazeera from Lahore.

Exploitation of law

Friday's ruling noted that some critics are demanding the law be abolished but Siddiqui argued that it's better to stop the law's exploitation rather than get rid of it.

A majority vote in the provincial assemblies is required for the law to be amended. Backing of that vote by the federal government would likely be needed for the Senate to move.

Decrees in Pakistan are derived from the British common law, but the constitution holds that no laws shall be passed that are against the teachings of Islam.  

After previous unsuccessful attempts to amend the blasphemy laws, legal experts offered little optimism over the new recommendation.

"Blasphemy is a very difficult topic, and any small change will be opposed by the right when they feel like it's being watered down and by the left when they feel it's being made stronger," Angbeen Mirza, a lawyer based in Lahore, told Al Jazeera.

In late January, Pakistan's Senate officially took up the issue of the law's potential misuse for the first time in 24 years.

Analysts say previous attempts at reviewing the law have been thwarted by the pressure of religious parties who, along with most in society, see it as "equivalent to religion" in the country.

"The religious right is on the offensive in Pakistan and because of the apologetic attitude of all governments they do not take a stand," Hasan said.

Legal experts say instead of repealing the law, legislation to curb false accusations and hate speech is required to deter the decree's exploitation for personal gains.

"An accusation of blasphemy hardly ever results in legal process," Mirza said.

"When someone makes an accusation, the neighbours do the rest."

She added: "The justice system is slow and provides no protection, leaving the accused at the mercy of the people".

Aarafat Mazhar, an independent researcher of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, said there is a tendency in the country to resort to public accusations rather than formally registering a case. 

"Labelling a specific person or a community as being a blasphemer or just being anti-Islamic in general can be a death sentence and is a cause for disruption in public order," he said.

"Constitutionally speaking, such speech is not protected, and there is a definite need for legislation."

Culture of intolerance

Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, a religious cleric and chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, said while there can be no room for change in the existing law, a review to prevent its misuse should take place.

However, beyond legal parameters,it is thought that a culture of intolerance towards free speech and religion is at the root of problem.

"Other countries have survived without blasphemy provisions," Mirza said. "All they regulate is hate speech. By creating offences where there should probably be none, Pakistan is creating hatred."

In a December 2016 report, rights group Amnesty International condemned Pakistan's blasphemy laws for "violating human rights" and called for their abolition.

While not a single convict has ever been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, currently about 40 people are on death row or serving life sentences for the crime, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Increasingly, however, right-wing vigilantes and mobs have taken the law into their own hands, killing at least 69 people over alleged blasphemy since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

In April, a university student, Mashal Khan, was killed and two others wounded during a violent mob attack after being accused of committing blasphemy in the northern city of Mardan.

In two prominent cases in 2011, Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, minorities minister, were both assassinated within two months of each other for asking for the law to be reformed.

Taseer's killer and bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged in February 2016.

Ashrafi blamed the judiciary's failure to hand down timely judgements for the rise in public tensions.

"When the punishments are not given, or the judgements are not passed on time, then people get an opportunity to take the law in their own hands," he said.

Academic circles in Pakistan advocate more research and urge authorities to learn from the example of other Muslim countries.

"The point is to make sure that our laws are aligned with the fundamental rights promised in the constitution," Mazhar said.

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/pakistan-court-seeks-amend-blasphemy-law-170814120428595.html

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ECP reserves judgement on PTI's appeal to halt foreign funding case proceedings

Muhammad Bilal

August 16, 2017

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has reserved its judgement on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's (PTI) appeal to halt the election body's proceedings on the party's foreign funding case.

Following the arguments on Wednesday, the chief election commissioner, retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, said that the judgement will be announced today.

PTI's lawyer Anwar Mansoor asked the ECP to stop the proceedings in the foreign funding case as a similar case is also being heard at the Supreme Court against his client.

Mansoor submitted his client's reply before the five-member tribunal of the ECP, chaired by the chief election commissioner, which has been hearing a petition filed by Akbar S. Babar — a former PTI member.

Babar's petition also seeks party chairman Imran Khan's disqualification on the charges of collecting party funds from "prohibited" sources.

The submitted reply, however, did not contain any details of the party's funds.

When the petitioner's lawyer, Ahmed Hassan, pointed out that the details sought by the ECP were missing from the response, Mansoor told the court that the relevant documents had already been filed with the Supreme Court, adding that the ECP is a party to the case that is ongoing in the apex court.

Mansoor told the ECP tribunal that the SC had not asked for the party's entire funding history.

"Perhaps there is an element of prejudice in some corner of the ECP," the lawyer alleged.

Dismissing his claims, the commissioner said that seeking details does not mean that prejudice exists.

"As a party to the SC case, the ECP should not proceed with hearings on this case," Mansoor maintained.

The commissioner told the lawyer that it would have been better if he approached the SC with a request to halt the ECP proceedings.

The petitioner's lawyer, however, argued that the nature of the case being heard in the apex court is different from that of the ECP case.

Hassan added that if the PTI submitted the details of its funds, it would become clear if they were received from prohibited sources or not. He asked the ECP not to hear PTI's request, claiming that it was an attempt to avoid furnishing the financial details.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1351898/ecp-reserves-judgement-on-ptis-appeal-to-halt-foreign-funding-case-proceedings

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Death toll from Harnai attack rises to eight

August 16, 2017

QUETTA: The death toll from the Harnai bomb attack rose to eight on Tuesday as two more personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) succumbed to their injuries.

The banned Baloch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred in the Khost area, about 16km from the Harnai town.

Six FC personnel were martyred on Monday when their vehicle was hit by a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) while it was passing through Khost, about 150km northeast of Quetta.

The driver and a non-commissioned officer of the paramilitary force were also injured in the explosion. The IED was planted in the middle of the road linking Shahrag to Harnai. The injured were shifted to hospital where they succumbed to their injuries.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1351847/death-toll-from-harnai-attack-rises-to-eight

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Two 'TTP men' killed during CTD operation in Karachi

Imtiaz Ali

August 15, 2017

Two suspected terrorists belonging to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Mufti Shakir group were killed during an alleged encounter with the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Karachi on Tuesday.

According to a CTD press release, an operation was carried out in the Manghopir area to intercept the two 'TTP men' reportedly coming from Balochistan, based on information gathered from the 'terrorists' apprehended by the CTD in last week in Machhar Colony.

Information gathered from the arrested terrorists pointed to the fact that Mufti Shakir had instated one Abdul Jabbar alias Saleem alias Leghari as the ameer (leader) of the TTP splinter group's Karachi wing, the CTD said.

The CTD said that the 'terrorists' in custody claimed that the newly-appointed ameer was also in contact with Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, and had been provided trained suicide bombers and suicide jackets by Mufti Shakir.

According to the CTD, the apprehended terrorists also claimed that Abdul Jabbar was on his way to Karachi from Balochistan, with plans to attack jamaat khanas, imambargahs, shrines and police training centres and important officials of security agencies.

According to the CTD, the department assigned a team under Senior Superintendent of Police Intelligence CTD Omer Shahid Hamid to arrest the terrorists.

The team, with the use of the CTD's intelligence, was able to set up checkposts in the city. "As soon as the terrorists' vehicle reached Manghophir, the police signalled them to stop," the CTD said, "after which the terrorists began firing at the police". "The terrorists, namely Abdul Jabbar and Daniyal were killed on the spot by the police's retaliatory firing," the CTD handout read.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1351710/two-ttp-men-killed-during-ctd-operation-in-karachi

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Mufti Shakir group responsible for killing cops eliminated

August 16, 2017

KARACHI - Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have arrested at least six hardcore militants involved in the killing of policemen over the last two years or so while the group involved in the killing of 14 policemen recently still remains at large, The Nation learnt here on Tuesday.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that the Counterterrorism Department (CTD) had arrested six hardcore activists of Mufti Shakir group, involved in the killings of number of policemen killed in the last couple of years.

Sources disclosed to this scribe that some high-profile militants, operating in the city, had been arrested and remained in the custody of CTD for investigation.

They further divulged that those taken into custody had confessed to have killed scores of policemen in the last couple of years and that they would take orders from Mufti Shakir, who worked for different militants groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Jundullah and others. Shakir, however, who used to run a seminary, Madarassa Al-Karim Islamic Academy, in SITE area, still remains at large. The seminary has been sealed recently on the recommendations of CTD.

CTD has also picked up some seven students of the seminary for investigation and shifted them to unknown location for investigations. Sources said that the Mufti Shakir group had almost been eliminated, but another group, Ansar al Sharia, had recently emerged, and was using educated professionals having sharp minds.

Sources disclosed that the CTD teams had reached close to the arrests of militants hiding in the city after the fall of Mufti Shakir group. However, they also pointed out that militants hiding in the city could not be arrested without encounters. CTD chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, while talking to The Nation, expressed optimism that militant groups involved in the killings of police personnel would be busted in near future, as accomplices of Mufti Shakir had either been mostly arrested or killed in the last couple of months and the remaining would be arrested in near future.

He said that the newly established group Ansar al Sharia was a splinter group emerged with the help of old militant groups like Jundullah, Daesh, Lashker-e-Jhangvi, and was still out of the reach of law enforcement agencies.

Abbasi said that the activists of Ansar al Sharia were educated professionals, who operated cleverly and achieved their targets.

He said that TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar also facilitated the splinter groups operating in the city. He claimed that majority of high-profile cases had almost been resolved as the facilitators in Lal Shahbaz Qalander Shrine blast had also been arrested.

Abbasi also said that those who helped the inmates break the Central Jail had also been arrested, while both the militants who had escaped from the jail still remained at large.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/16-Aug-2017/mufti-shakir-group-responsible-for-killing-cops-eliminated

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Mideast

 

Rouhani: Iran Could Revive Pre-JCPOA N. Capabilities in Only Hours

Aug 15, 2017

"The new US statesmen should know that the failed experience of sanctions and force brought their previous administrations to the negotiating table and if they are inclined to get back to those experiences, Iran would certainly return in a short time -- not a week or a month but within hours -- to a situation more advanced than before the start of negotiations," President Rouhani said, addressing the parliament in Tehran on Tuesday.

"The world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the (nuclear deal), has broken its word on the Paris agreement, the Cuba accord, NAFTA and Transatlantic Accord and has shown to the world and even its allies that the United States is no good partner or reliable negotiator," he added.

He said Iran has scored success in restoring its rights after complying with its undertakings, while Washington has experienced defeat in seeing its excessive demands met, and that's why the US is seeking excuse and violates the deal.

President Rouhani underlined that Tehran is committed to its undertaking under the nuclear deal, but will pursue and give an appropriate response to any violation by others.

He said those in Washington who resort to the language of threat and sanction are only "inmates of their own illusions, depriving themselves from the merits of peace by fearmongering and making enemies".

President Rouhani pointed to Trump's remarks that the US will tear apart the nuclear deal, and said they have recently been informed by their advisors that such a measure will isolate the US in the world, and they are now resorting to allegations that Iran has violated the spirit of the nuclear deal. "This is while 7 reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have confirmed full implementation of the nuclear deal by Iran," he added.

In relevant remarks earlier this month, President Rouhani warned Washington to stop troubling implementation of the nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers, saying that his country would not keep calm to witness US violations.

Addressing Iranian state and military officials and foreign dignitaries during his inauguration ceremony here in Tehran, the Iranian president ensured that Tehran would not initiate withdrawing from the deal, but meantime, stressed that his country would reciprocate US violations.

"We declare publicly that Iran will not initiate withdrawing from the JCPOA, but it would not keep calm against the US actions," he said.

Rouhani, who was given a loud applause when he issued stern warnings to the US with regard to his treatment of the nuclear deal, further referred to the US president as a newcomer to the world of politics, and said, "I am not addressing newcomers to the world of politics, but we tell veterans of this world that those who intend to tear up the JCPOA will tear apart their political career with such an action."

Rouhani, who received a longer applause by all the state and military officials present at his inauguration ceremony for a second time, underlined that Iran expects respect for the deal by all signatories, reiterating that Iran shows respect only if it is respected by the opposite side.

"Today is not the time for displaying the mother of all bombs; today is not the time for unveiling mother of sanctions; lets unveil the mother of talks," the Iranian president said, and urged the world to pick up the nuclear talks as a role model for resolving global problems.

He also reiterated Iran's quest for weapons development, stressing that Tehran's arms development program is aimed at deterrence purposes. "We are after peace. Our weapons are meant for peace and our (quest for) peace relies on our arms."

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960524001549

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Hezbollah victories herald end of Daesh in region: Iran official

Aug 16, 2017

A senior Iranian official has hailed the recent gains made by Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement on the battlefield against Daesh, saying the victories herald the Takfiri terrorist group’s collapse in the entire region.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani told Lebanon’s al-Ahed news website on Tuesday that Hezbollah resistance fighters have dealt heavy blows to extremist terrorists, preventing their infiltration from neighboring Syria into Lebanon.

The SNSC head said Hezbollah’s victories herald the annihilation of Daesh and foil the plots being pursued by the West, Zionists and their Arab allies in the troubled region.

Last month, Hezbollah conducted a six-day joint offensive with the Syrian army in Arsal, which has been hardly hit by the spillover from the Syria crisis over the past few years. Lebanon’s army did not formally declare its role in the offensive, but shelled terrorist positions in the operation area.

The resistance movement later said it had accomplished the main objective of the Arsal campaign.

Referring to the Arsal operation, Shamkhani said the offensive demonstrated Hezbollah’s resolve to purge terrorists from the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Shamkhani also highlighted the resistance movement’s important role in defeating terrorists in Syria, noting, “The growing popularity of Hezbollah in the Islamic world and Arab countries has enraged the Zionist regime and its mercenaries.”

Iran throws its weight behind the resistance movement and all the countries that are battling terrorism on the frontline, he added.

Shamkhani further congratulated the Lebanese government, nation and Hezbollah on the 11th anniversary of the country’s victory against Israel in the 2006 war.

“Hezbollah’s victory during the 33-day war was a source of inspiration for the Palestinian nation and [anti-Israel] resistance groups, especially in Gaza,” Shamkhani said.

The win, he said, was “a mockery of Israel’s so-called invincible army” and proved that the Islamic Ummah could defeat the world’s strongest militaries whenever it wishes.

About 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, lost their lives during Israel’s 33-day war on Lebanon back in the summer of 2006.

Hezbollah fighters involved in defending Lebanon against the Israeli war defeated the enemy, forcing Tel Aviv to withdraw without having achieved any of its objectives, according to the Winograd Report by the Israeli regime itself.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/16/531907/Lebanon-Hezbollah-Daesh-Ali-Shamkhani

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Working tirelessly for a political settlement in Yemen, says UK envoy

15 August 2017

Simon Shercliff, the British Ambassador to Yemen, based in Saudi and criss-crossing the region, said that UK has been playing a vigorous role in trying to help achieve a political solution in Yemen.

Shercliff, who took over as Ambassador in February this year, told Al Arabiya: “We have never stopped working tirelessly for a political settlement in Yemen. The crisis is Yemeni-inspired, and the solution must, therefore, be Yemeni-inspired. Therefore, it is not for us or any of the international actors to prescribe exactly what the solution will be, but it is very much our role to encourage and coerce all of the different parties to come to the table with an open mind.”

“By definition it is very unhelpful for any party to escalate with further military attacks on the basis of a response to anything, so we, as our prime minister has said often, take Gulf security extremely seriously. Gulf security is our security, so we understand fully the impact on Saudi Arabia’s national security when missiles go over the border and we call upon all parties to deescalate as much as possible, as quickly as possible, so we can get back to the negotiating table.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/15/Working-tirelessly-for-a-political-settlement-in-Yemen-says-UK-envoy.html

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Israel arrests Islamic cleric for ‘incitement’

Aug 16, 2017

JERUSALEM - Israeli police arrested a firebrand Islamic cleric on Tuesday who has been repeatedly accused of inciting violence over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site where tensions again flared last month.

Raed Salah, released from prison in January after serving a nine-month sentence, is accused of inciting violence and terrorism as well as support for and participation in an illegal organisation, police said.

His group, the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was outlawed in 2015 after it was accused of inciting violence linked to Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Police said in Tuesday’s statement that Salah, an Arab Israeli, is accused of having publicly supported violent acts against the country on several occasions following the ban on his organisation.

It was not clear whether the accusations were linked to last month’s deadly unrest surrounding the holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

Violence erupted in and around the compound after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli policemen on July 14.

Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the complex, used as a staging point for the attack. For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets.

Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead, while three Israelis were fatally stabbed by a Palestinian assailant. The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.

Salah served a nine-month prison term after being convicted of fomenting violent protests over the holy site. He was convicted of having incited violence in a 2007 speech. He was convicted in 2014 and his appeals were later denied.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement following Salah’s Tuesday arrest that he hoped “this time justice will be done and he will be sent behind bars for a long time.”

The compound, central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.

It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/16-Aug-2017/israel-arrests-islamic-cleric-for-incitement

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Saudi Crown Prince meets members of Yemeni House of Representatives

16 August 2017

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, met with members of the Yemeni parliament at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.

The members of Yemen’s House of Representatives affirmed their support of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to restore stability to the country highlighting the efforts made with neighboring countries, the international community and the Arab Coalition.

At a consultative meeting held in Jeddah, the Yemeni parliamentarians called on the international community to stand by their call to restore legitimacy to the country.

The members also hailed the efforts of the popular resistance and the countries of the Arab coalition, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their role to provide all aspects of humanitarian support and assistance since the beginning of the crisis.

Saudi Shura Council Chairman, Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh praised the efforts of King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid in alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/16/Saudi-Crown-Prince-meets-members-of-Yemeni-House-of-Representatives-.html

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Saudi joint forces ambush Houthi militias near Jazan

15 August 2017

Joint Saudi forces, on Monday night, carried out a military operation on Houthi strongholds opposite the border region of Jazan, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi units struck Houthi militias as they were preparing to conduct a ground offensive on coalition forces' positions close to the al-Qarn village near Jazan.

Military sources told Al Arabiya that a military ambush took place besieging the militia.

Artillery units shelled Houthi missile platforms as well as militia units.

The source concluded that the military plan succeeded, and the Saudi forces were able to kill dozens of anti-government militants, and destroy supply lines and missile platforms.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/15/Saudi-units-ambush-Houthi-militas.html

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Iran, Russia, Turkey mark a new turn with $7 billion drilling deal

Aug 16, 2017

Turkey’s Unit International which signed a drilling deal last week with Russia's state-owned Zarubezhneft and Iran's Ghadir Investment Holding says the contract is worth $7 billion.

The drilling in Iran will take place at three oil fields estimated to hold 10 billion barrels of reserves and produce 100,000 barrels per day and a large natural gas field with a production capacity of 75 billion cubic meters per day, the company said on Tuesday.

Unit did not name the field but said its reserves are enough to meet Turkey's gas demands for the next 150 years, with the production equal to 1.5 times the 50 billion cubic meters of gas which Turkey imports annually.

Ghadir has already signed a cooperation agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for the study of the third phase of the Darkhovin (Darquin) as well as Sepehr and Jufair oil fields and Kish gas field.

According to the Unit’s statement, the consortium will also be able to drill in other parts of Iran.

Iran is Turkey's second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia and sells about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas under a 25-year supply deal to Turkey which it uses for electricity generation.

The deal is the first tripartite agreement of partnership and investment between Iranian and foreign companies. Ghadir will lead the consortium, but all three companies are equal partners where they will allocate equal investment shares in the jointly-financed projects.

Unit International is no stranger to Iran. Since 1982, the company has built five power plants with a total capacity of 3,200 megawatts in the country which owns the world’s largest gas reserves.

In March, South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction (SK E&C) signed an agreement with the Turkish company to build and operate five gas-fired power plants in Iran with $4.2 billion of investment.

The power stations would have a combined generation capacity of 5,000 megawatts, making them Iran's largest privately developed power plants, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted SK E&C officials as saying at the time.

Chemistry for alliance

The drilling agreement marks a new dawn in cooperation between Iranian, Russian and Turkish companies, reflecting on the rapidly changing geopolitical dynamics in the region.

Over the past two years, Turkey and Russia have climbed down from a collision course over the former’s downing of a Russian bomber in Syria to cooperate on implementing a ceasefire in the Arab country with the help of Iran.

Russia has lifted a trade ban on Turkey, while keeping sanctions on imports of most Western food and drink in place in retaliation for wide-ranging Western sanctions.

Moreover, the fallout in diplomatic relations is widening from the West’s support of Turkish dissidents and Washington’s backing for Kurdish militants in Syria which Ankara views as a security threat.

And with Iran also being under US sanctions, Tehran, Ankara and Moscow might be finding chemistry for an alliance of sorts which explains their first ever joint venture signed in Moscow last Tuesday.

Pro-government Daily Sabah paper said on Tuesday that a Turkish delegation from the National Intelligence Organization (MiT), the Turkish armed forces and the foreign ministry held talks in Tehran in mid-July with Iranian and Russian authorities.

Iran’s Chief of Staff General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri is currently in Ankara, with Daily Sabah quoting diplomatic sources as saying that the visit was a "milestone” and would not have been possible unless both sides were willing to draw to each other.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour said Tuesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Tehran “soon”, Mehr news agency reported.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/16/531912/Iran-Turkey-Russia-drilling-deal-sanctions

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South Asia

 

Mass graves found after Afghan forces recapture Shia village from Taliban

Aug 15, 2017

At least 40 bodies have been found in several mass graves in a Shia Hazara village in northern Afghanistan recently recaptured from the Taliban.

On August 5, dozens of people were killed when Taliban attacked the village of Mirza Olang in northern Sar-e Pul province. Local reports noted that members of the Daesh terrorist group were cooperating with the Taliban during the attack. The Taliban has denied such reports.

"We have so far discovered three mass graves in the village, containing the remains of a total of 42 people, including three children, some of them beheaded," said Zabihullah Amani, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

He noted that 23 of the bodies had been left in one grave, while 11 more in a second and eight in a third.

"The majority have been identified as civilians, while there might be a small number of uprising forces too among them. Search operations will continue tomorrow," he added.

The announcement was made after the country’s army announced that the village had been retaken from the insurgents following several days of severe clashes in which at least 50 of the terrorists were killed.

"The majority have been identified as civilians, while there might be a small number of uprising forces too among them. Search operations will continue tomorrow," said Nasratullah Jamshidi.

While occupying the village, the Taliban had taken some 235 people hostage, whom they freed after reaching an agreement with local officials.

Afghanistan is still grappling with violence well over a decade after the US and its allies invaded the country as part of the so-called war on terror. The invasion removed the Taliban from power, but has failed to stop the militancy.

Taking advantage of the chaos, the Daesh terror group, which is mainly based in the Middle East, has managed to establish a foothold in the eastern Province of Nangarhar.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, have fled the recent wave of violence fueled by Daesh terrorists in Nangarhar to take refuge in the provincial capital Jalalabad.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531890/afghanistan-hazara-shia-village-mass-grave

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Three aid workers killed in Afghanistan: officials

Aug 16, 2017

Three Afghan aid workers employed by Catholic Relief Services were gunned down and killed in central Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday.

The attack happened on Monday near the capital city of Ghor province, an area once relatively peaceful but now home to active Taliban and Islamic State militants.

The attack also wounded two employees, but the identity of the gunmen was unknown, said Iqbal Nezami, a spokesman for the provincial police.

Afghanistan, where the Taliban are seeking to restore Islamic rule after their 2001 ouster, is consistently considered one of the deadliest countries in the world for aid workers.

So far this year at least 12 have died in Afghanistan, compared to 15 in all of 2016, according to the United Nations.

"I call on all parties to ensure that those providing humanitarian assistance have safe access to the most vulnerable and can carry out their lifesaving work unhindered," UN humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan Richard Peeperkorn said in a statement about the CRS attack.

CRS, which could not immediately confirm the report, provides humanitarian aid to more than 200,000 Afghans, with a focus on agriculture, education, and disaster response, according to its website.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/15-Aug-2017/three-aid-workers-killed-in-afghanistan-officials

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Suspected Islamist militant killed in Bangladesh raid

August 15, 2017

By The Associated Press

The Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — A suspected Islamist militant was killed in an explosion inside a hotel in Bangladesh’s capital during a raid Tuesday on an alleged hideout.

Police chief A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque said that the man died in the explosion during the raid that began early Tuesday.

Police identified the man as Saiful Islam, a college student. Details of his allegiance to any Islamist groups were not immediately clear.

Some officials said a portion of the wall of the hotel fell from the force of the blasts.

It was not immediately clear if any other suspects were in the Hotel Olio International in downtown Dhaka.

The police chief said they would examine whether the suspect was a member of Jumatul Mujahedin Bangladesh, or JMB, a banned group responsible for many attacks in recent years.

Bangladesh has been experiencing a rise in Islamic militancy in recent years. Banned Islamist groups have targeted liberals, atheists and foreigners.

Hoque said it appeared the suspect had been planning an attack as the country was mourning the death anniversary of its independence leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was assassinated in a military coup in 1975 along with most of his family. The day is a national holiday in Bangladesh.

Hundreds of people placed wreaths at a portrait of Rahman in front of his home-turned-museum, where the assassination took place. The museum is close to the hotel where Tuesday’s raid occurred.

Last year, in a major attack, suspected JMB members killed 20 hostages, including 17 foreigners, in a restaurant in Dhaka. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack but authorities have rejected the claim and blamed the JMB.

Since the 2016 assault, authorities have reinforced a crackdown on militants and killed more than 50 suspects.

Full report at:

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/suspected-islamist-militant-killed-in-bangladesh-raid/

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Noor harshly criticizes Stanikzai and Atmar after clashes in Balkh airport

Aug 15 2017

The provincial governor of the northern Balkh province Ata Mohammad Noor harshly criticized the national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar and the national directorate of security chief Mohammad Stanikzai after clashes in Balkh airport on Monday night that left at least two people dead.

In a short statement posted on his official Facebook page, Noor accused the two top security officials of hatching conspiracies to destabilize the northern Balkh province.

Noor said Balkh has been among the relatively calm and peaceful provinces and conspiracies involving plans and projects to destabilize the province should be refrained from.

This comes as a clash broke out in Balkh airport in northern Afghanistan during the arrest of the provincial council member Asif Momand.

Momand was arrested late on Monday night in Balkh international airport days after he had accused Ata Mohammad Noor of being involved in massive corruption.

The Balkh security chief Syed Kamal Sadat confirmed that Momand was arrested on Monday night and at least two of security guards were killed while two security personnel were wounded.

Balkh governor spokesman Munir Farhad said Momand is accused of having role in the corruption and has been arrested on orders of the judicial institutions.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/noor-harshly-criticizes-stanikzai-and-atmar-after-clashes-in-balkh-airport-03365

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Europe

 

MPs slam Sun over 'Muslim Problem' opinion piece

16th Aug 2017

More than 100 cross-party politicians have signed an open letter demanding action over a column in The Sun for "using Nazi-like language" regarding the Muslim community in Britain, The Independent can reveal.

In a scathing letter MPs from Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Green party unite to say they "were truly outraged by the hate and bigotry" in a comment piece written by the paper's former political editor Trevor Kavanagh.

In the article Mr Kavanagh argues Islam constitutes the "one unspoken fear" which unites Britain and wider Europe but claims the phenomenon has been suppressed by political correctness.

"The common denominator, almost unsayable until last week's furore over Pakistani sex gangs, is Islam," he wrote after 18 people were convicted in a Newcastle grooming gang last week.

"Thanks to former equalities chief Trevor Phillips, and Labour MPs such as Rotherham's Sarah Champion, it is acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem."

He concludes his piece by asking: "What will we do about The Muslim Problem".

The letter to The Sun's editor - signed by 107 MPs - was organised by the Labour MP Naz Shah and includes prominent politicians, including former Cabinet ministers Baroness Warsi and Anna Soubry.

Labour frontbenchers, including the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott Shadow and Education Secretary Angela Rayner have also signed the letter, alongside Tory MPs Tim Loughton and Gary Sreeter.

Although not appearing in the list of signatories, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the contents of the letter, claiming the newspaper had "published statements that incite Islamophobia and stigmatise entire communities".

"That is wrong, dangerous and must be condemned, as Naz Shah's public letter does in the clearest possible terms," he added.

The letter is also published after Jewish and Muslim organisations issued a joint complaint over the article to the press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).

"The printing of the phrase 'The Muslim Problem' - particularly with the capitalisation and italics for emphasis - in a national newspaper sets a dangerous precedent," states the complaint by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Tell Mama and Faith Matters.

The politicians were particularly concerned with the use of "The Muslim Problem", adding: "There is little doubt (especially with the capitalisation of the three words) that Kavanagh was intentionally comparing Muslims to the "The Jewish Problem": a phrase used in the last century, to which the Nazis responded with the "Final Solution" - the Holocaust, as outlined by the Board of Deputies of British Jews in their compliant letter to Ipso".

The letter continued: "It is shocking that in the 21st century a columnist is using such Nazi-like terminology about a minority community.

"We are sure that you are aware how media reporting about Islam and Muslims has created an atmosphere of hostility against Muslims and that hate crime against Muslims is on the rise."

"Muslims currently face threats from far right and neo-Nazi groups in the UK and your publication of this article can therefore only be seen as an attempt to further stoke up hatred and hostility against Muslims.

"We implore you to not only retract this article but given the sacking of Mr Myers following his disgraceful anti-Semitic article in the The [Sunday] Times, strongly consider whether Mr Kavanagh's brand of bigotry fits with your vision for the paper."

Mr Corbyn added: "With hate crimes against Muslims on the rise in Britain and Neo-Nazis inciting violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, we must stand in solidarity and unity with all our communities and not let hate divide us."

But a spokesperson for The Sun said: "We strongly reject the allegation that Trevor Kavanagh is inciting Islamophobia. He is reflecting the links between immigration, religion and crime in the context of a trial of largely Pakistani sex gangs."

They added: "Indeed he quotes Trevor Phillips, former head of the EHRC: 'What the perpetrators have in common is their proclaimed faith. They are Muslims and many of them would claim to be practising. It is not Islamaphobic to point this out."

"Any suggestion that this article is promoting Islamophobia is a deliberate misreading of a very serious subject. Furthermore, it was never the intention that other elements of the column would be equated to Nazi-like terminology".

On Tuesday, a representative for Ipso told The Independent they had received a total of 150 complaints about the piece. "As you'll appreciate, Ispo does not comment on any complaints while they are being assessed," they said.

"However, I can confirm that we have had a total of 150 complaints about the piece to which you refer, mostly under Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors' Code of Practice."

https://www.chinchillanews.com.au/news/mps-slam-sun-over-muslim-problem-opinion-piece/3212875/

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US failed in Afghanistan campaign, must withdraw forces: Russia official

Aug 15, 2017

A senior Russian official has described the US military campaign in Afghanistan as a failure, calling for the withdrawal of American troops from the country, which has now become “an incubator of international terrorism.”

“The American campaign in Afghanistan has failed. Afghanistan risks becoming a global incubator of international terrorism. It has, in fact, already partially grown to become it,” said Russian Foreign Ministry’s Director of the Second Asian Department Zamir Kabulov, who also serves as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan.

Speaking in an interview on Monday with the Moscow-based Izvestia daily, Kabulov underlined that the Kremlin does not see the need for further presence of US military forces in the war-ravaged nation.

“Moscow never hastened the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. But since the US Army [campaign] there has come to nothing, let them leave Afghanistan.”

The Russian diplomat further emphasized that Moscow firmly opposes Washington’s idea of replacing its regular army troops in Afghanistan with military contractors saying, “The US is in despair, and [its] plans to replace the professional armed forces with mercenaries are stupid.”

“It will not lead to anything good: mercenaries will simply break into a run. They recruit them from around the world, offering cash. How are they going to fight against the Taliban?” he asked.

The development came after US President Donald Trump stated on Thursday that he is “very close” to announcing a new strategy on Afghanistan.

“It’s a very big decision for me,” he told reporters in Bedminster. “I took over a mess, and we’re going to make it a lot less messy.”

This is while Commander to US forces in Afghanistan Army General John Nicholson described the situation in Afghanistan as a “stalemate” during a hearing earlier this year before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He further stated that while he has enough troops for counterterrorism operations against the likes of local Taliban militants as well as al-Qaeda, and Daesh terrorists, he would like several thousand more in order to boost the capabilities of the Afghan security forces.

“I have adequate resourcing in my counter-terrorism mission,” Nicholson claimed in February. “But the train, advise and assist mission has a shortfall of a few thousand troops,” he added, noting that the extra troops could come from the United States and its allies, many of whom are fighting in Afghanistan.

The US commander further asserted that the new offensive capability would eventually “break the stalemate in Afghanistan,” but it would also require an upsurge of troops stationed in the terror-torn country in order to adequately train Afghan forces, specifically urging more funding for Afghanistan’s air force.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531806/Russia-Afghanistan-US-military-campaign-foreign-ministry-Zamir-Kabulov

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Italy ambassador to return to Cairo after standoff over murdered student

Aug 15, 2017

Italy said on Monday it would return its ambassador to Cairo more than a year after the murder of an Italian graduate student led the Rome government to recall its previous envoy.

Giulio Regeni was 28 when he vanished from the streets of Cairo in January 2016. His body was discovered in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on February 3, showing signs of extensive torture.

Italy recalled its ambassador in April 2016 as it sought to obtain evidence from Egypt to solve the murder. Magistrates in Rome and Cairo have met a half-dozen times over the past year, but no one has been charged.

“The Italian government’s commitment remains to clarify the tragic disappearance of Giulio,” Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement.

“Sending an authoritative liaison (ambassador) will help, through contacts with the Egyptian authorities, reinforce judicial cooperation and as a consequence the search for the truth,” Alfano said.

Regeni, who had been looking into Egypt’s independent unions for his doctorate thesis at Cambridge, attracted the suspicion of the Cairo government before his disappearance, sources told Reuters last year.

Security and intelligence sources told Reuters that Regeni had been arrested in Cairo on January 25, 2016, and taken into custody. Egyptian officials have denied any involvement to Regeni's death.

Regeni’s parents have strongly opposed Italy re-normalising relations with Egypt, saying this would remove pressure on Egypt to hold someone accountable for the murder.

Rome’s chief prosecutor said he spoke to his Egyptian counterpart earlier on Monday and the two agreed to meet again later this year after they recovered closed-circuit TV footage from the metro station near where Regeni had lived.

“Both sides agreed that the investigative activity and collaboration will continue until the truth about all of the circumstances that led to the kidnapping and death of Giulio Regeni is discovered,” Giuseppe Pignatone said in a statement.

The murder has strained ties between Italy and Egypt, traditional Mediterranean allies with strong economic ties.

Italians flock to Egypt’s beaches and ancient monuments every year, and in 2015 Italy’s state-owned oil giant Eni discovered the biggest natural gas field ever found off the Egyptian coast.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531809/Italy-Egypt-Student-stabdoff-Ambassador-Alfano-Regeni

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Libya’s General Haftar meets Russian ministers, demands military help

Aug 15, 2017

Powerful Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar has met Russian foreign and defense ministers during a visit to Moscow.

Haftar held separate talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday.

Following his meeting with Lavrov, the Libyan commander told reporters that he asked Russia for military aid.

“I am sure Russia remains a good friend of ours and will not refuse to help,” Haftar said, without disclosing what kind of assistance he had specifically asked for.

Haftar described the outcome of his meeting with Lavrov as “very positive.”

“We briefed [Lavrov] on our problems, described the picture in whole. Naturally, the Russian side considers how it can participate in the search for the required decisions. We’d be delighted if Russia continues to participate in this work,” he said, without explaining.

Reports said that Haftar referred to the role of his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in fighting terrorism in Libya during the meeting with the Russian foreign minister.

Lavrov reportedly told Haftar at the start of the meeting that, “The situation in Libya remains complicated, the extremism threat in your motherland is still not overcome.”

The top Russian diplomat also underlined the significance of seeking a political solution to the political and military conflicts in Libya.

“However, we are aware of the steps being undertaken and actively support the tendency… for political reconciliation, full restoration of statehood in your country,” Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement on the meeting that Russia had stressed the importance of inclusive dialog involving “all major political forces, tribes and regions” in the north African country.

“It was also confirmed that Russia is ready to provide further assistance in promoting the political process, in contact with all Libyan parties,” the ministry added.

Haftar also held a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu following his talks with Lavrov.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a brief statement that the “basic attention [of the meeting] was focused on the developments in North Africa with a focus on the situation in Libya,” adding that the two sides had stressed the importance of continued bilateral consultations.

Haftar’s visit to Russia, which started on Saturday, was his third. He had last visited the Russian capital in November 2016.

Libya has faced chaos since an uprising and a US-led military intervention resulted in the downfall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has been grappling with insecurity and the emergence of numerous militant groups, including Daesh, since then.

Libya now has two governments, the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli and is led by Fayez al-Sarraj, and the other being centered in the far east, in the city of Tobruk.

Haftar’s LNA is loyal to the government in Tobruk.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531789/Libya-Haftar-Russia-Lavrov-Shoigu

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Christian Hungary on Collision Course with European Union's Islamic 'Blackmail'

08-15-2017

BUDAPEST - In a time when most of Europe is in the grips of atheism, there is a nation where Christianity seems to not only be holding its own but some say is thriving. 

Imagine a government that is unabashedly Christian, that thinks Christian values are worth defending; that wants to protect and even nourish the family.

Welcome to Hungary.

A Christian Nation

Hungary's constitution is explicitly Christian, and says that marriage is between one man and one woman and that life begins at conception. It even includes the phrase, "God bless the Hungarians."

Hungary's Faith Church, with 300 branches, is one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Europe, with 70,000 attendees.

Help for Persecuted Christians

And the Hungarian government has taken on the role of protecting Christianity. It's even set up an office to help persecuted Christians worldwide.

When CBN News revealed the story of Sweden's threat to deport Iranian actress Aideen Strandsson back to certain prison and torture in Islamic Iran, only one nation stepped up and offered her asylum: Hungary.

The Hungarian government says, "Taking in persecuted Christians is our moral and constitutional duty."

Returning to Its Christian Roots

Hungarian policy analyst István Pócza says Hungary has only returned to its roots as a historic bastion of Christianity, dating back over a thousand years. 

"Hungary wants to protect the European values; European Christian Jewish values," he told CBN News.

Christianity in Hungary has survived almost 200 years of Muslim Ottoman rule and Soviet Communist domination.

Secretary of State Zoltán Kovács told us, "You have to stick to your traditions and legacies. Europe's legacy is a Christian legacy, not necessarily in a religious form but most definitely in a cultural form."

Resisting Islamization

And it's this belief that has Hungary locked in a battle with the European Union over migrants.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Mihály Orbán has accused the European Union of trying to Islamize Europe, and Hungary has infuriated Brussels by building a fence to keep illegal migrants out.

Orbán has essentially told the European Union to 'take a hike' when it comes to open borders. Hungary has seen the terrorism and chaos caused by migration in Western Europe and has said, "not here."

The European Union has even gone to court to force Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to take in migrants. Mr. Oban has accused Brussels of "blackmail."

"Securing the borders to stop illegal migration is indeed a solution, and this is actually the only way to reinstate law and order at the borders of the European union, and not the other way around," Kovács told CBN News.

Islam Matters

Kovács says it matters that most of the migrants trying to enter Hungary are Muslim. And he says Western European nations are paying a heavy price by pretending that Islam doesn't matter.

"We've been living with and close to Islam for centuries in the past and we know about it. So, that's why it does matter who has come in and in what manner people are coming," Kovács told CBN News.

Orbán Is No Putin, Or Is He?

Orbán is often portrayed in the western media as a version of Vladimir Putin; an undemocratic strongman. In fact, at an EU summit in 2015, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly greeted Orbán with the words, "Hello, dictator."

Hungary is most certainly not a dictatorship. But Orbán's critics accuse him of corruption and using the instruments of government against his political opponents, including the recent billboard campaign against billionaire George Soros.

Tamás Lattmann of the Institute of International Relations told us, "What we see in Hungary today is the shameless use of public money, of tax money to formulate pro-government messages."

Bulcsú Hunyadi of the Political Capital Policy Research and Consulting Institute said, "Since 2008 the Hungarian government headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been continuously weakening the system of checks and balances and weakening democratic institutions."

But Orbán, a man who even his critics concede is a skilled politician, doesn't seem to have a serious political rival, and he will probably remain in power, meaning Hungary's standoff with the European Union over migrants is likely to escalate. 

Full report at:

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2017/august/religious-persecution-u-s-calls-out-iran-saudi-arabia-and-china

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Arab World

 

Deir Ezzur: ISIL Executes Non-Syrian Members on Charges of Fleeing Battlefield

Aug 16, 2017

The sources said that ISIL has executed its own foreign-national members after they fled their positions in battle with the Syrian Army troops in Deir Ezzur's neighborhoods and in the town of Muhassan and in the villages of Bu Leil and Buqrus.

In the meantime, the army men, backed up by the Syrian Air Force, engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL near Deir Ezzur airbase and along the road to the village of al-Baqaliyeh, destroying their positions and killing several militants.

Meanwhile, the army aircraft bombed heavily ISIL's positions and movements in the villages of Ayyash, Hatleh, al-Hosseiniyeh, Huweija Sakar and al-Maqaber (cemetery) region, destroying several positions of terrorists.  

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army soldiers clashed fiercely with ISIL around Deir Ezzur airbase, destroying a drone equipped with camera and several bombs before reaching the pro-government forces' positions.

Also, the army units exchanged fire with ISIL in al-Roshdiyeh neighborhoods in Deir Ezzur city, destroying one of their positions and killing several militants.

In the meantime, the Syrian warplanes bombed heavily ISIL's positions in the villages of Shoula, al-Baqiliyeh, al-Maqaber region, Ayyash, Ein Bou Jom'ah and Panorama region, destroying terrorists' military equipment and killing a number of fighters.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960525000449

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Long Convoy of ISIL's Military Vehicles Destroyed in Syrian Armed Forces' Attack in Homs

Aug 16, 2017

The military convoy of ISIL terrorists with at least six large military vehicles was en route from Northeast of the town of Humeimeh in Eastern Homs to the depth of Badiyeh in Deir Ezzur.

The artillery and aircraft pounded the convoy and destroyed most of the vehicles, killing a number of their crew.

In the meantime, the artillery and missile unis opened heavy fire at ISIL's movements East of Jubb al-Jarrah, destroying two military vehicles and killing several terrorists. 

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army troops took control of the villages and towns of al-Koum, Vaha al-Koum, Jourah al-Jamal, Najiran, Ein Sabkha and Um Qabibeh after hours of non-stop battle with terrorists.

The army men also advanced against ISIL in T2 station in Eastern Homs and captured the strategic hill of Abu Fares Northwest of the town of Humeimeh.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960525000346

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Syrian Army Captures One More Strategic Hill in Eastern Hama

Aug 16, 2017

The army men continued their advances against ISIL in Eastern Hama and imposed control over Jubb al-Mazare'a hill overlooking the village of Salba.

A military source said that the army's siege on ISIL in Salba has been tightened and terrorists' supply line from the Western direction to the village has been cut off after the pro-government forces took control over Jubb al-Mazare'a.

ISIL suffered heavy casualties and its military hardware sustained major damage in the attack.

In the meantime, the army's artillery units shelled terrorists' positions in Southeastern Hama and repelled their attack on pro-government forces' positions in the small town of Tal Dareh West of the town of al-Salamiyah, killing and wounding a number of militants. 

Relevant reports said on Tuesday that the army men managed to advance almost 10km against ISIL near the town of Ithriya Southeast of Katfah and captured several hills and heights overlooking the region. The army soldiers also freed the village of Tweinat in Eastern Hama from ISIL.

In the meantime, the army units liberated several hills along the road connecting the town of Aqayrabat towards the Northwestern direction of Palmyra city in Eastern Homs.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960525000294

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Syrian Air Force Dispatches More Warplanes to Kuweires Airbase in Aleppo

Aug 15, 2017

The satellite images showed a clear build-up of Syrian Air Force attack aviation at the Kuweires Airbase in Aleppo province.

The aircraft in question are L-39 light attack jets, a staple asset of the air force tactical airpower.

Based on satellite pictures taken of the nearby al-Nayrab Airbase (also in Aleppo province), it appears that the build-up of military aircraft at the Kuweires Airbase came at the direct expense of al-Nayrab.

The images show that at least nine L-39s of twelve once present at al-Nayrab Airbase were relocated to the Kuweires Airbase at some point in the last six months.

The official reason for the transferal of attack aircraft from the al-Nayrab Airbase to the Kuweires Airbase is unknown at this time.

A military airport said on Thursday that Jarah military airbase in Aleppo came back into operation and Syrian and Russian warplanes carried out several anti-ISIL sorties from the airport.

The source said that Jarah airbase was being used again by Damascus and Moscow after four years of occupation by the terrorists.

He added that the Syrian and Russian fighter jets stationed in Jarah help the Syrian ground troops and their allies in their operations against the ISIL terrorist group in Eastern Hama and Southern Raqqa.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960524001295

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Iraqi Air Force Kicks off Heavy Raids on ISIL's Defense Lines in Tal Afar

Aug 15, 2017

Al-Khudari announced that the air force launched Tal Afar liberation operation by carrying out aerial attacks on ISIL's positions on Tuesday.

He stressed that the ground offensive to retake Tal Afar, located 70 kilometers West of Mosul, will start following the completion of those strikes.

Following the start of the offensive, a local source said that six large explosions rocked several areas in Tal Afar. One of the blasts reportedly hit a workshop used to manufacture explosives in West of the city.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the extent of damage inflicted on the terrorists.

A top Iraqi general said on Sunday that the Iraqi army was fully ready with a plan in its hands to attack ISIL in Tal Afar and recapture the strategic region.

The army was awaiting a command from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to move onto Tal Afar, Othman al-Ghanimi, said Iraqi army’s chief of staff.

Tal Afar has been under the control of ISIL since 2014 when vast territories in Northern Iraq fell into the hands of the militant group. Following the liberation of Mosul in July, Abadi vowed to soon dislodge the ISIL militants in Tal Afar, Hawija and other areas.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960524001371

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Gunmen in More Regions End Battle with Syrian Army

Aug 15, 2017

The ministry's report said that 2,168 regions have joined nationwide reconciliation plan after militants in more regions ended fight with the Damascus government.

Reconciliation talks between the Damascus official and militants are underway in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Quneitra.

The ministry said last week militants in more regions laid down weapons and joined peace agreement with the Syrian Army.

The Ministry said in its report that gunmen in more regions ended fight with Syrian government forces, adding, "The total number of regions, towns and villages that endorsed peace agreement with Damascus stands at 2,131."

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960524001206

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Saudi Arabia affirms it has never requested Iranian mediation

16 August 2017

A Saudi official on Wednesday said that the Kingdom has never requested Iranian mediation in its affairs.

Any news that says otherwise is false, he added.

According to an SPA report, the official said: “Saudi Arabia affirms its strong stance which rejects any association in any shape or form with the Iranian regime which spreads terrorism and extremism in the region and internationally, and interferes in other countries’ matters.”

Iran negotiations

He continued noting that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “sees that negotiations are not possible with current Iranian system after time has shown that it is one that doesn’t respect rules, diplomatic norms and the principles of diplomatic relations.”

“It is a system that continues to lie and distorts facts. The Kingdom affirms the dangers of the Iranian regime and its hostile tendencies towards international peace and stability, he added.”

The Kingdom, he said, “calls upon all countries of the world to work towards deterring the Iranian regime from its aggressive actions and to compel it to comply with international law, United Nations resolutions and diplomatic regulations and customs.”

False statements

Earlier, statements attributed to the Iraqi Minister of Interior, Qassem al-Aaragi, claimed that the Kingdom had asked the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haydar al-Aabadi, during his visit to Saudi Arabia to mediate with Iran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/08/16/Saudi-Arabia-affirms-it-has-never-requested-Iranian-mediation.html

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Lebanese army makes gains against Daesh on Syrian border

Aug 16, 2017

The Lebanese military has managed to wrest control of several areas near the Syrian border in its latest push against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group operating in the region.

The fresh army advances took place on the outskirts of Lebanon’s northeastern village of Ras Baalbek on Wednesday, the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV channel reported.

The gains came following missile and artillery attacks on Daesh positions in Ras Baalbek as well as the nearby town of al-Qaa and the village of al-Fakiha.

Over the past days, the Lebanese army has been targeting the Daesh hideouts along the Syrian border.

Recently, the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah concluded a joint campaign with the Syrian army at the highlands of Arsal to dislodge terrorists from the area.

The militants of al-Nusra Front, now known as Fateh al-Sham, withdrew following a series of consecutive defeats that forced them to agree to a ceasefire deal.

On Monday, the last remaining militants were evacuated to Syria under the truce agreement.

Arsal was hardly hit by the spillover of the Syria crisis in 2014, when militants managed to overrun the town for a brief period.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/16/531928/Lebanoan-Daesh-Syria

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Al-Musawara neighborhood totally destroyed, Saudi Arabia says

Aug 15, 2017

Saudi Arabia has completed the demolition of al-Musawara neighborhood in the Shia town of Awamiyah, says a local official.

According to Eastern Province’s secretariat on Tuesday, the demolition of the neighborhood has been fully completed in preparation for the commencement of removal work.

Local reports claim that some 60 bulldozers were engaged in the operations.

Since May, Riyadh has imposed a deadly crackdown on Awamiyah -- the hometown of late prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, whose execution by the Al Saud regime sparked condemnation and protests throughout the Middle East. Saudi authorities call the clampdown a “security campaign” against the gunmen there, and used it as a pretext to launch almost daily attacks against the town, destroying residential areas, setting fire to buildings, and reportedly threatening the residents to either leave or face potentially deadly swoops.

Last week, foreign journalists witnessed the destruction wrought by Saudi forces on the town after they were permitted entry for the first time. Since July 26, they said, Saudi authorities have prevented emergency services from reaching the wounded and failed to provide humanitarian assistance to trapped Awamiyah citizens.

The residents also noted that an order had never been issued for people to leave Awamiyah while their only chance out of the town had been short periods coordinated with local volunteers and activists.

Awamiyah, situated in Eastern Province, has long been a flashpoint between the Al Saud family and the inhabitants complaining of discrimination.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, recently said that the world body could not independently verify the reports coming out of Awamiyah, but all Riyadh’s actions should be in line with its commitments to human rights.

This is while multiple human rights groups have voiced concerns over the situation in Awamiyah, and criticized Western countries for keeping mum on Saudi Arabia’s atrocities there.

Last month, Ottawa expressed “deep concerns” over the Saudis' apparent use of Canadian military equipment in their growing crackdown against the minority Shia citizens in the restive Eastern Province. 

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531893/saudi-arabia-awamiyah-musawara-demolished

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Lebanese army tightens noose around Daesh by advancing along Syrian border

Aug 15, 2017

The Lebanese army says its forces have advanced along the Syrian border, tightening the noose on the areas controlled by Daesh Takfiri militants.

Militants left bombs and explosive belts behind in the areas captured by the Lebanese troops on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Tuesday, the army said in a statement.

The body of an unidentified man was also discovered in the areas, the statement said.

At present, only Daesh terrorists have remained in the area, as militants affiliated with the Levant People's Brigades and al-Qaeda have left the area.

The Lebanese army has been making preparations to launch massive offensive on Daesh positions along the Syrian border for weeks, massing reinforcements and bombing the area with artillery shells and rockets.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement and the Syrian army are preparing to launch a simultaneous attack on the Syrian side of the border.

On Monday, 3,000 Syrian refugees and 300 Saraya Ahl al-Sham militants started evacuating eastern Arsal after the defeat of Takfiri terrorists during a Hezbollah offensive.

The departure comes as part of an agreement that followed a July's offensive by the Lebanese resistance movement and the Syrian army to drive out militants from their last stronghold in the border area between Lebanon and Syria.

Earlier this month, the Lebanese resistance movement said its fighters had regained control over all areas in Arsal, which lies about 124 kilometers northeast of Beirut.

Former Al-Nusra Front terrorists, now known as Fateh al-Sham, withdrew following a series of consecutive defeats that forced them to agree to a ceasefire.

Under the truce deal, the Syrian government will shuttle the militants and their families to Idlib Province and some other areas.

Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon's border with Syria of “armed terrorists.” Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

On Friday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the next phase of the battle with terrorists would be aimed at eliminating the Daesh terrorists in the border areas between Lebanon and Syria. He also stressed that that the areas liberated from the control of the militants would be handed over to the Lebanese army.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/15/531876/Lebanon-Daesh-Syria

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