West Java's Young Ulema to Be Sent To Campaign for Peaceful Islam
Moderate Islam in Indonesia Counters the Religious Intolerance of Islamist
Kisses Feet of South Sudan Leaders, Urging Them to Keep the Peace
Commander: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Sheltered in Turkey-Occupied Regions in Syria
Omar Sparks Controversy over Comments on 9/11, Muslim Civil Rights
Taliban? UNSC Lifts Sanctions against Taliban Peace Negotiators
Man Admits Abusing Muslims At Christchurch Mosque
Has Run Out’: LHC Withdraws Amnesty Offered To TLP’s Rizvi
Arabia Never Funds Extremist Madrasas or Mosques: Saudi Ambassador to India
Minister Sanjeev Baliyan Tells Muslim Women to Remove Veil
Balakot Madrasa Struck By India: Pakistan Not Ready To Give up Secrets
Gets Ultimatum to Lift 'Technical' Hold On Masood Azhar
election: in Prabowo versus Widodo, it’s Islamic statehood versus tolerance
forum calls for peace, fraternity during election
Indonesia's president has tried to claw back voter support in Muslim heartland
Security Service Announces Release of Political Prisoners
Army Warns It Will Enforce Night-Time Curfew: State Media
suspends talks with Sudan after military ousts Bashir
Europeans call for UN Security Council talks on Sudan
chief urges ceasefire to avert ‘bloody battle’ for Tripoli
13 protesters killed in clashes with police
killed in weeklong Libya clashes: UN health agency
Al-Sham Attempting to Take Full Control of Demilitarized Zone
Grave of Several ISIL Victims Found in Eastern Syria
Army Terrorists Killed, Wounded in Suicide Blast in Hasaka
States, US Footprints Found in Terrorists' Strongholds in Syria
Iraqis To Return Home Under Syrian Deal
Keeps Watchful Eye On Al-Azhar's Growing Role Abroad
slaps sanctions on Lebanese ‘money laundering’ group
army takes over amid growing calls for civilian rule
bars entry to Palestinian co-founder of BDS movement
Omar attacked by Trump's son for 9/11 comments
sanctions 16 Saudis for Khashoggi killing
Announce Launch of Spring Offensive amid Peace Talks
children's school dreams hit stony ground
forces storm major Taliban hideout, prison in Nangarhar province
commander among 7 killed in U.S. drone strike in Kunar province
ban WHO, Red Cross in Afghanistan, citing 'suspicious' activity
asks Haftar to stop offensive in Libya
calls on parties in Sudan to refrain violence
crisis highlights Libya policy rift between France and Italy
police raid 90 properties over suspected Hamas support
Hints At Bar On Banned Outfits’ Leaders from Contesting Polls
needs to be changed towards gender-based violence: minister
government to file fresh corruption cases against Nawaz Sharif's family
people killed in Quetta blast; CM condemns attack
defence minister lauds Pakistan Army’s efforts towards regional stability
to skip upcoming US-Taliban talks in Doha
Agriculture Minister, Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Occupied
welcomes Egypt’s ‘withdrawal' from NATO-style Arab alliance
will be no starting point for action against neighbours, Salih assures Iran
looks to form right-wing government after victory
party slams Turkey ban on elected mayors taking office
the Kurdish factor had a boomerang effect in Erdogan's election defeat
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Ambassador to India HE Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saty is in Mumbai on an official
visit. Yogesh Pawar speaks to him about watching the world’s biggest election,
gender rights in KSA, the emergent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) — Qatar
dynamic, the Khashoggi case and LGBTQIA rights
embarking on the world’s biggest election. How keenly are these being watched
I took charge in 2012, this is the second election I am seeing. There is
considerable interest in the Indian elections in the KSA. After all, India is
the world’s largest democracy.
of Saudi money funding import of extreme Wahabbi Islam to India are often
thrown around during campaigning...
will be inappropriate to react to individual comments made during election
campaigning. We are with India on its concerns about security. Irrespective of
the dispensation in power we work closely with the governments before donating
any money to anybody. It is a complete falsehood KSA funds extremist
Madrasas/mosques. Individuals too are banned from giving to any charity outside
letting women drive/opening movie theatres, the KSA is seeing sweeping changes?
a special decree, women are now permitted to get licences and hence drive.
Overall there are efforts at improving work opportunities for women across sectors.
Saudi women are in-charge at immigration desks, airline counters, hotels,
shopping centres and so on. Both our stock market and our largest bank are
currently headed by women. We have a woman Minister of Labour and a new woman
deputy minister in the Ministry of Commerce was also appointed last week. The
world's largest women's university - Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman
University, Riyadh - is totally managed and run by women. In fact KSA has
appointed its first woman ambassador to the US. Princess Reema bint Bandar two
women still have to be accompanied by a male 'guardian' or have their
authorisation to board a flight.
changing. Many women are being able to travel abroad and pursue education and
careers abroad. We would like to see that grow. Only day before yesterday I met
three Saudi women who are living here in Mumbai which they feel is their home.
Of course, we are a traditionally conservative society just like you are.
Family values and tradition are very dear to us. We respect our customs, our
faith and our way of life. But we have to acknowledge women and their need for
change. Today they are not only demanding it but often driving change too.
a big focus on infrastructure...
Upgrading of existing airports, the creation of new ones is on the anvil. A
whole new tourist-cross border city Neom is being built in the far north-west
Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. This massive $500
billion, 26,500 sq km world-class city will extend 460 km along the Red Sea
coast. A huge network of state-of-the-art roads connecting not only major
cities but within them is being laid and several have become operational. We
are also looking at exploring renewable energy sources in a big way and are
making big investments in solar and nuclear energy. KSA wants its coming
generations to continue enjoying a sustainable and prosperous future.
does the current dynamic unfolding between KSA and Qatar say about the future
of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)?
GCC was formed as a body to help all the Gulf states to work with each other in
a spirit of solidairty and cooperation. But how can we countenance a member of
GCC working against the interest of others? The KSA has been in touch with
Qatari authorities since early 2012. On two occasions, both in 2013 and 2015
the rulers of Qatar gave written assurances and committed to prevent allowing
its soil to be used by extremist groups inimical to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt
and Bahrain. We told them to stop fomenting trouble using the Al-Jazeera tv
channel to create unrest in our countries with unwelcome interference in our
internal matters. Providing refuge to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood which
want to attack Saudi Arabia cannot be acceptable. Instead of handing over the
terrorists to us like we asked they continue to sponsor terrorism against us.
They are neighbours and we share a legacy of close societal and tribal ties
that go back to hundreds of years. We want to resolve this problem but the
Qataris have to do their bit too.
happening between KSA and Qatar sounds exactly like India's charges against
are completely different and I don't think we should mix the two. We only hope
both India and Pakistan engage in a dialogue to resolve differences. Since we
enjoy a good rapport with both we will be happy to facilitate any such talks if
both the countries feel it will help.
and Qatar are not your friends. Will India have to choose between them and you?
don't go around telling other countries about what choices they should make. As
sovereign states they should decide for themselves what is in their interest.
Our focus is the Indo-Saudi relationship.
has a huge presence of expat workers in both KSA and Qatar who are concerned
how heightened tensions will affect jobs and lives?
we appreciate the concern, there's nothing on ground to suggest shrinkage/loss
of jobs. On the contrary given the huge investments in infrastructure I spoke
about, I think there is growing and sustained demand for human resources
particularly specialised, trained professionals to build and maintain these.
India has always been an integral part of KSA's growth story and will continue
to do so. On the other side India's economy is also expanding and its fuel and petrochemical
needs will proportionally rise. We look forward to make use that to collaborate
more closely. The Saudi market is also the largest in North Africa where
socio-cultural ties make Indian products more attractive. In both the near
future and long term I see, stability, growth and expansion marking Indo-Saudi
are plans to further easen the Saudi visa process...
working to make the process entirely digital. By the end of this year people
going for Haj will be able to apply for visas online without going to the
embassy/consulate. We understand this is inconvenient for elderly, little
children and women so we're making it easier. Eventually we want to expand this
to all visas.
US on Monday barred the entry of 16 Saudi nationals over their alleged
involvement in the Jamal Khashoggi murder. Is the US-KSA equation changing?
ties with with US are really strong and that is not changing. As for the Jamal
Khashoggi murder, our courts are seized of the matter and we are confident we will
get to the bottom of the case.
been widespread condemnation of Brunei for introducing laws to stone
homosexuals to death under Sharia. Isn't this a practice in KSA too?
not concerned about what Brunei is doing and can't comment on that but in the
KSA we have the Sharia law and we go by what is prescribed.
you see a full-fledged democracy like say Tunisia coming to KSA?
have our own traditions, systems and our own challenges. We also have our own
way of meeting these challenges while developing our country and keeping it
safe, stable and prosperous. And we do this keeping the interests of our
country and people above everything else. We don't do things to make us appear
different to others in the world.
West Java (ANTARA) - A total of 30 young ulemas from different parts of West
Java Province passed the English Program for Ulemas, and they would be sent to
campaign for a peaceful and moderate Islam at international forums in the
future, West Java Governor M Ridwan Kamil said.
were selected from 265 ulemas who registered for the program. In the first
batch, 30 young ulemas passed the program, co-organized by the West Java
provincial government and the United Kingdom Embassy in Jakarta, he said here
at the program's closing ceremony, Kamil said he would motivate the alumni of
the English Program for Ulemas to use their improved proficiency in English to
help their colleagues in their respective cities and towns.
purpose of this program is to help the ulemas in West Java become messengers of
peaceful Islam to the world," he said, adding that the program was aimed
at improving the English proficiency of the ulemas before sending them to
overseas inter-religious forums.
UK Embassy in Jakarta and the West Java provincial government have been
studying that within three to six months from now, the alumni of this English
program would be sent to the United Kingdom.
a process for building a dialogue on peaceful Islam, as well as portraying the
image of a peaceful Islam in Indonesia and West Java to those in Europe through
the United Kingdom, will begin," Ridwan Kamil said.
addition to the English Program for Ulemas, the West Java provincial government
would continue its collaborative programs with the UK Embassy in the future,
including the English Program for Bureaucrats.
British Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik highlighted the significance of
this English Program for Ulemas, especially now that the world is digitally
was expected to play a global role in promoting interreligious peace, he said,
adding that Indonesia could become a good example for both Muslims and
non-Muslims all over the world in meeting the rights of minorities.
moderate Islam in Indonesia counters the religious intolerance of Islamist
massacre of 50 Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand last month sparked an international
outpouring of condemnation and grief. The horrifying demonstration of
21st-century terrorism, by an Australian national whom media have described as
a white supremacist, live-streamed the attacks on Facebook, illustrating how
easy it is to use social media to spread hatred.
extremists were quick to respond, taking to cyberspace to provoke Muslims into
“defending” their religion. Groups known to profess their sympathies to IS
declared that adherents would wreak violent revenge in the name of victims of
the Christchurch slaughter. Going a step further, however, they also expressed
disdain for the “peaceful actions” of Muslims offering condolences through
prayer and tolerance.
calls for hayya alal jihad [holy war], not just prayers like millah kuffar
[teachings of the infidel],” one member of an extremist WhatsApp group
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, there is a real fear that
such discourse could once again escalate into violence against peace loving
fellow Muslims. In May 2018 in the city of Surabaya, 10 people were killed in
multiple attacks on churches claimed by the Islamist group Jamaah Ansharut
Daulah, a local affiliate of IS.
there are signs that religious intolerance is on the rise in Indonesia, and its
tradition of religious plurality is looking shaky, moderate Muslims are forming
networks to fight back against bigotry.
organisations Gusdurian Network, Islamic site Islami.co, and Srikandi Lintas
Iman are among the groups working to stem the tide of intolerance being pushed
in the public domain – both online and offline.
social conflict caused by intolerance is no less dangerous than terrorism,”
says Alissa Wahid, founder and national coordinator of Gusdurian Network.
threatens democracy and can sow the seeds of violent extremism,” says Wahid,
daughter of late Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid.
operates in more than 100 cities across Indonesia, conducting research with the
aim of bringing together different religious groups through outreach projects.
The network has a growing social media footprint, including 153,000 followers
on Twitter, and produces content to share on its online platforms.
shows that such moderate groups have their work cut out. The NGO Forum on
Indonesian Development last year found that extremism is being widely
perpetrated in the country via campaigns on the internet and social media.
Another study, in 2016, found that at least 90,000 social media accounts were being
used to spread extremist messages, based on keywords formulated by The
International Centre for Counter Terrorism.
Saidi, a researcher for the government-run Indonesian Institute of Sciences,
says that Islamist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir began to spread from the
Middle East to Indonesia in the 1980s, infiltrating university campuses,
mosques and Islamic schools. Hizb ut-Tahrir and similar organisations preach
radical interpretations of Islam, such as Wahhabism, an ultraconservative Sunni
doctrine widely considered to have inspired the ideology of IS.
says this growing support for extremism views in Indonesia is a result of such
puritanical groups infiltrating schools, Madrasas and colleges, and
indoctrinating vulnerable students. On leaving college, such graduates may
enter the state apparatus, where they exert their influence over mosques and
(who requests that her real name be withheld to protect her privacy) joined one
such movement in 2008 while at college, out of a desire simply to study Islam.
joining the group, I became increasingly religious, from starting to dress more
conservatively to avoiding friends outside my group,” she says. Hamidah was
indoctrinated to trust only her murabbi – an Islamic teacher-cum-guardian.
Questioning the murabbi’s teachings was not permitted.
study groups she took part in, one message often repeated was an aspiration to
establish an Islamic state, “because the government had failed to manage the
country,” Hamidah, now 32, recalls. “Everything was black and white. They would
say people outside the group would go to hell,” she says. “More and more, I
found myself judging others.”
by her experience, Hamidah distanced herself from the group in 2011 – though it
was not easy.
friends called me an apostate [one who renounces a religious belief]. I wasn’t.
I just wanted to find a way to follow my religion that suited me,” she says.
made a clean break from the group, and has since completed a master’s degree in
England. She now researches Islamist radicalism, which she plans to make the
subject of a postgraduate degree.
vast majority of Indonesia’s population of 264 million citizens are Muslim and,
as moderates point out, the country was founded on the principle of inclusion.
The country’s pluralist motto is “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”, meaning “unity in
is a diverse country, designed from the beginning to be an inclusive state,”
Wahid says. “If it becomes a religious state, there will be only one religion,
considered higher than all others.”
father, the country’s president from October 1999 to July 2001, was not only a
political figure. During the 1980s he was the leader of Indonesia’s largest
Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.
it is a traditionalist Islamic movement, Nahdlatul Ulama was founded in 1926 to
counter the emergence of more extreme doctrines, including Wahhabism.
his incumbency, Wahid revoked discriminatory laws imposed during the repressive
era of dictator Suharto against Chinese Indonesians, such as celebrations of
the Lunar New Year.
Wahid set up the Gusdurian Network after her father’s death in 2009, in that
same spirit of tolerance.
the spread of extremist groups increasing, it is urgent that we promote
tolerance, democracy and justice,” says Wahid, who has spent more than 10 years
campaigning on behalf of marginalised groups including the Ahmadiyya minority,
a Muslim sect that has for decades faced persecution for their belief that
Muhammad may not be the last prophet.
Gusdurian was awarded the 2018 Asia Democracy and Human Rights prize by The
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy in December last year, Wahid acknowledged that
Indonesia faces many challenges. Quoting her father, she said: “God needs no
defence … But now we see how God and religion are [used] to gain political
power, to discriminate against others and to cause injustice.”
moderate voice is that of website Islami.co. “Since the 2000s,
ultraconservative Islamic websites have risen in popularity across the
country,” says Savic Ali, who started the website in 2017. “This hampers
harmonious relations between communities in Indonesia.”
into a moderate Muslim family in Pati, Central Java province, Savic became an
activist during the 1998 reform era following the ousting of Suharto, when he
developed a passion for multiculturalism and plurality.
Gusdurian, Islami.co campaigns for “peaceful Islam” by posting videos on social
media promoting religious harmony.
site attracts about 900,000 unique users per month, and has climbed to number
16 in a ranking of Indonesia’s top 20 most popular Islamic websites, of which
only four – nu.or.id, dalamislam.com, rumahfiqih.com, and islami.co itself –
are pro-democracy or moderate.
hopes the site will soon surpass radical websites such as Nahimunkar (ranked
12th) and Voa-islam (ranked 15th).
will take hard work and persistence to ensure the mainstream discourse on the
internet becomes increasingly moderate, inclusive and progressive,” Savic says.
is also networking with Islamic schools and writers that share the group’s
are encouraging our network to create similar websites and actively counter
intolerant content via social media,” he says, acknowledging that it will take
hard work to raise the profile of websites with inclusive and progressive
believes most Indonesians are moderate and tolerant, but that extremists have a
far louder voice.
and bullying based on religious sentiment are increasing. If people don’t speak
out, the violence will become normalised. We don’t want that,” he says.
kisses feet of South Sudan leaders, urging them to keep the peace
Francis, in a dramatic gesture after an unprecedented retreat at the Vatican,
knelt to kiss the feet of South Sudan’s previously warring leaders on Thursday
as he urged them to not return to a civil war.
appealed to President Salva Kiir, his former deputy turned rebel leader Riek
Machar, and three other vice presidents to respect an armistice they signed and
commit to forming a unity government next month.
am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let
us go forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us.
Resolve your problems,” Francis said in improvised remarks.
leaders appeared to be stunned as the 82-year-old pope, who suffers from
chronic leg pain, was helped by aides as he knelt with difficulty to kiss the
shoes of the two main opposing leaders and several other people in the room.
appeal was made even more pressing as anxiety grew in South Sudan that
Thursday’s coup in neighboring Sudan might put at risk the fragile peace deal
that ended South Sudan’s brutal five-year civil war.
Vatican brought together South Sudanese leaders for 24 hours of prayer and
preaching inside the pope’s residence in an attempt to heal bitter divisions
before the country is due to set up a unity government.
will be struggles, disagreements among you but keep them within you, inside the
office, so to speak,” Francis said in Italian as an aide translated into
English. “But in front of the people, hold hands united. So, as simple
citizens, you will become fathers of the nation.”
which is predominantly Muslim, and the mainly Christian south fought for
decades before South Sudan became independent in 2011. South Sudan plunged into
civil war two years later after Kiir, a Dinka, fired Machar, from the Nuer
ethnic group, from the vice presidency.
400,000 people died and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people
were uprooted, sparking Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan
two sides signed a power-sharing deal in September calling on the main rival
factions to assemble, screen and train their respective forces to create a
national army before the formation of a unity government next month.
prepared address earlier on Thursday, Francis said South Sudan’s people were
exhausted by war and the leaders had a duty to build their young nation in
justice. He also repeated his wish to visit the country along with other
religious leaders to solidify the peace.
who attended the retreat were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who
is spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican community, members of the South
Sudan Council of Churches, and other Catholic and Presbyterian Church leaders from
Africa. Welby had proposed the idea of the retreat to the pope.
Arabic-language service of RT quoted Spokesman and Commander of the Syrian
Democratic Forces (SDF) Mostafa Bali as saying on Thursday that al-Baghdadi is
living in the Ankara-occupied regions in Idlib province.
claimed on his twitter page that the ISIL's so-called oil minister has
confessed that the terrorist group has transferred nearly 40 tons of gold and a
large number of valuable goods from Iraq to Syria and other places when it had
occupied certain regions in Northern Iraq.
sources claimed in February that al-Baghdadi was alive and hiding in Syria
behind the borders with Iraq amid contradictory reports about his whereabouts.
Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive and is in Syria," RT quoted an Iraqi
intelligence source as saying on condition of anonymity.
source said that al-Baghdadi had moved along Iraq-Syria border while disguising
and in the absence of his armed men or security convoys.
in March, a Turkish-language newspaper claimed that Washington was helping ISIL
commanders to flee Syria by providing them fake documents, and said the
terrorist group's ringleader was under the control of the US.
Shafaq published a picture of al-Baghdadi in a US armored vehicle, disclosing
that the CIA spy agency is monitoring the presence of al-Baghdadi and his
Omar Sparks Controversy over Comments On 9/11, Muslim Civil Rights
Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., finds herself embroiled in another controversy after a
comment she made about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Muslim civil
last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Los
Angeles chapter, Omar mistakenly said the organization was founded in response
to the terrorist attacks, adding "because they recognized that some people
did something" — a phrasing that conservative media have interpreted as a
too-flippant reference to the attack.
was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something
and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,"
is unclear what Omar meant by the wording of her comment.
remark was scorned by some on the right, including "Fox and Friends"
co-host Brian Kilmeade and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas.
questioned Omar's loyalty to the United States on a "Fox &
Friends" segment about the freshman Democrat, saying "you have to
wonder if she's an American first."
called Omar's remark "unbelievable" on Twitter.
who has been subjected to death threats over her past controversial comments
she has made about Israel, responded to Kilmeade on Twitter, saying he was
guilty of a "dangerous incitement" for questioning her loyalty to
News had no immediate comment about Kilmeade, the second Fox personality in a
month to attract attention for comments about Omar. Fox condemned and suspended
Saturday host Jeanine Pirro for two weeks after she wondered aloud whether
Omar's use of a Muslim head covering indicated she was a follower of Islamic
love and commitment to our country and that of my colleagues should never be
questioned," Omar said via Twitter on Wednesday. "We are ALL
along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., are the first Muslim women to serve in
taliban? UNSC lifts sanctions against Taliban peace negotiators
United Nations Security Council committee overseeing sanctions has removed
Taliban negotiators from an international blacklist as part of a bid to press
for reconciliation in war-torn Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah
Mujahid said late Thursday.
of the Taliban leaders, including 14-member negotiation team, had been under UN
sanctions and lifting of sanctions was one of the Taliban’s longstanding
demands. They had also raised the issue during talks with the US.
UN decision came at a time when the Taliban and the US are involved in peace
talks in Qatar. “This is true,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Daily
Times when a question was posted on his WhatsApp that if the UN has removed
sanctions from the Taliban leaders. “I do not have more details but I can
confirm removal of the names of the negotiation team from the UN black list,”
Mujahid further said.
was no word from the UN and the permanent members on the issue.
officials used social media to congratulate each other on the development.
sources said the names of the negotiators have been removed ‘temporarily’ and
that they have also been assured of lifting of sanctions permanently.
and Russia had earlier agreed to a flexible approach to remove certain Taliban
figures from the UN sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a dialogue
between Kabul and the Taliban.
political commission head Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is among the leaders whose
names have been cleared by the UN, the sources said.
members of the negotiation team include: Sher Abbas Stanikzai, Mullah Amir Khan
Mutaqi, Mullah Fazil Mazloom, Mullah Khairullah Khair Khwa, Mullah Noorullah
Noor, Mullah Abdul Haq Waseeq, Maulvi Ziaul Rahman Madani, Maulvi Abdul Salam
Hanafi, Sheikh Shahabuddin Dilawar and Abdul Latif Mansoor.
Kabul administration raised objections at the participation of the Taliban
negotiators in the intra-Afghan meeting in Moscow early February on the plea
that they cannot travel due to sanctions. The Afghan government also formally
complained to the UN when the Taliban announced that their political envoys
would meet US envoy Khalilzad and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad in
mid-February. Imran Khan later cancelled the meeting in view of opposition by
the Afghan government.
UN move is seen as a major confidence building measure at a time when the
Taliban and the US are holding talks and a new round is expected most likely
later this month. The decision will enable Taliban leaders to travel out of
sides had made progress on the issues of withdrawal of foreign troops and to
prevent Afghan soil from terrorism during their last round on Feb 25-March 12.
However, they could not strike any deal.
man admits abusing Muslims at Christchurch mosque
33-year-old New Zealand man pleaded guilty Friday to harassing Muslims outside
one of the Christchurch mosques where dozens were gunned down in a massacre
last month, but said he can't remember anything about it.
Nicholas Tuapawa was said to have been shocked and did not realise what he had
done until police showed him a video in which he was yelling abusive comments
including "all Muslims are terrorists".
Tuapawa appeared in court charged with disorderly behaviour that was
"likely to cause violence," his lawyer said his client was ashamed of
his actions and could not explain how or why it happened, local media reported.
was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the name of US President Donald Trump when
he shouted abuse at Muslims outside the Al Noor mosque on Wednesday. He was
arrested on Thursday.
was remanded on bail to be sentenced on July 31.
Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-avowed white supremacist, has been charged with 50
counts of murder and 39 of attempted murder after opening fire at Al Noor and a
second Christchurch mosque on March 15.
has run out’: LHC withdraws amnesty offered to TLP’s Rizvi
Lahore High Court on Thursday withdrew an amnesty it had earlier been willing
to grant to Khadim Hussain Rizvi, saying the time to provide a written
guarantee promising that Rizvi will not disrupt law and order if provided bail
has now ‘passed’, a private TV channel reported.
a hearing on Monday, the LHC had hinted at releasing Rizvi if he provided a
written affidavit saying he would not create unrest in the society if released
the hearing started on Thursday, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Qasim Khan
asked Rizvi’s counsels if they had managed to procure a written guarantee from
the TLP leader that would help his application for bail. The court was told
that the lawyers had so far not been able to meet their client as the day set
for meetings was Friday. “Is Rizvi ready to provide a written guarantee?” asked
Justice Qasim Khan. “He should state that he will never again give any such
instructions [encouraging them to cause a law and order situation] to his
this point, the lawyer representing Rizvi seemed to resist the demands being
placed on his client. “The government arrested Rizvi despite the [Faizabad]
agreement,” he contended. To which Justice Khan asked, “Where is it written in
the agreement that people who take the law in their own hands will not be
arrested? Or are you saying that the government deceived Rizvi?” “Yes, the
government deceived Rizvi. He was leading a peaceful protest,” the lawyer
line of argument did not seem to go down well with the court. Though the lawyer
then said he will present a guarantee from Rizvi, the court said the time for
such a guarantee had passed and the bail plea will now be decided on its
hearing was subsequently adjourned for a week.
was taken into ‘protective custody’ by police in Lahore on November 23, 2018,
after law enforcement agencies launched a massive crackdown against workers of
TLP and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA).
crackdown came following Rizvi’s call to party members to observe ‘martyr’s
day’ on November 25, the anniversary of the Faizabad sit-in. Rizvi had asked
workers and supporters to gather at the Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad – the
same venue where his party had staged a weeks-long sit-in in November 2017
virtually paralysing the federal capital and leading to several people losing
arrest also came weeks after the TLP led three-day protests across the country
against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi – a Christian woman whose blasphemy
conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court at the end of last month.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P)
have filed petitions in the Supreme Court, urging it to review its Feb 6
verdict in the case.
PTI plea urged the court to review its order, especially its paragraph 22.
PTI in its plea said that apex court should review its verdict as it has
mentioned the party’s 2014 sit-in in the decision. While MQM-P adopted a stance
that paragraph 22 of Faizabad sit-in verdict has compared the sit-in with May
12 massacre, which should be reviewed.
the parties have requested the apex court to review its decision.
minister Sanjeev Baliyan was on Thursday accused of “insulting” Muslim women by
asking them to remove their veils at a Muzaffarnagar polling station, causing a
standoff that prevented them from voting for over two hours.
said the women refused the directive from the BJP minister, the sitting
Muzaffarnagar MP and an accused in the 2013 communal riots that left more than
60 people dead and 50,000 families homeless.
the presiding officer rushed to the spot, Baliyan asked him to have the women’s
veils removed to check for “fake voters”.
wearing the burqa can be asked to reveal their faces, but inside polling
stations and only by women officials, sources said.
said there were no women police constables. But Uttar Pradesh chief electoral
officer L. Venkateshwarlu told PTI that “wherever there are burqa-clad voters,
women poll officials are posted to ascertain their identity”.
incident happened at Booth 225 in village Sujdu in the Kotwali area of
Muzaffarnagar. Eyewitnesses said Baliyan’s supporters gathered at the gates of
the polling station and prevented the voters from entering.
eventually left after officials assured the water resources minister that his
complaint would be communicated to the poll panel.
have confirmed information that fake voters are active in the constituency. The
burqas of the women must be removed to identify them before they are allowed to
vote,” Baliyan told reporters after leaving the booth. “Since the officers have
ignored my demand, I shall write to the Election Commission for re-polling in
faces a challenge with large sections of sugarcane farmers and Muslims
apparently leaning towards Ajit Singh, an ally of the Samajwadi Party and the
Bahujan Samaj Party.
Balakot Madrasa Struck By India: Pakistan Not Ready To Give Up Secrets
A madrasa, or Islamic school, on a remote hilltop in north-eastern Pakistan
that was the target of the Indian air strike just over six weeks ago is still
not ready to give up its secrets.
the first time since the Indian Air Force jets targeted a Jaish-eMuhammed
terrorist camp in Balakot, Pakistani authorities on Wednesday allowed a group
of journalists working for foreign news organisations, and foreign diplomats
based in Islamabad, access to the site.
to BBC Urdu, the group was flown from Islamabad in a helicopter to Jabba in
Balakot. The visitors trekked for about one-and-ahalf hour to reach the Madrasa
on the top of a mountain surrounded by lush green trees.
expectation among some of the visitors was that it might help settle a number
of mysteries about the attack.
the journalists and diplomats, most of whom spent well over an hour climbing
steep slopes to get to the madrasa in the Jaba village area near the town of
Balakot, didn’t get enough time to make any kind of informed assessment.
were mostly restricted to looking around the Madrasa’s main building. They were
hurried away by the Pakistani army, which organised the trip, after less than
half an hour. Those arriving by vehicle had even less time.
interactions with teachers and about 100 children at the Madrasa - from the
very young to older teenagers - were also limited.
visitors were shown a group of children learning passages from the Quran partly
by rocking their heads back and forward in rhythm. One teacher said he had worked
at the Madrasa for six years.
little, too late
least three of the diplomats, who were mainly from Western countries and the
Middle East and included some military attaches, said it was very difficult to
draw any firm conclusions because of the six-week delay in gaining access and
the restricted time allowed to look around.
the trek up to the compound, past small sheep and goat farms and through
pastoral scenery on a beautiful spring day, journalists and diplomats were
shown craters that the allegedly wayward missiles had created on the
had flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of
Pakistan-based JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on
gets ultimatum to lift 'technical' hold on Masood Azhar
DELHI: The campaign for an international ban on Masood Azhar, the Pakistan
based leader of UN-designated terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), is gaining
steam at the UN Security Council.
proposers of the resolution to ban Azhar - US, UK and France – have asked China
to lift its "technical" hold on the ban proposed in the UNSC+1267
sanctions committee in the next couple of weeks or face another resolution for
the same in the Council.
as negotiations continue, a western diplomatic source said Beijing had been provided
time tentatively until April 23 to lift the hold before a proposal for
proscribing Azhar is officially and
directly introduced in the Council, bypassing the 1267 committee.
parallel resolution in the Council had been circulated informally among the 15
member states but not tabled officially, allowing for informal discussions to
see if China could be persuaded to review its position on Azhar.
far though, there has been no indication of Beijing considering lifting its
hold on the ban which is necessary for imposing travel restrictions on Azhar
and freezing his assets.
for a ban on Azhar were renewed by the US and France after the February 14
Pulwama attack carried out by JeM. China though for the 4th time sought to
block his listing by the 1267 committee by putting the proposed ban on what it
describes as a technical hold. Frustrated by Beijing's hold, the US informally
circulated another draft resolution for consideration of the members in the
described the US move as not constructive and as setting a bad example. This
was the first time a draft resolution had been moved directly in the Council
for a ban on a terrorist of interest to India.
on how China responds, a decision will be taken in the 4th week of April on
whether or not the draft resolution should be put formally on the table, TOI
the resolution is tabled, another round of consultations is likely on the
specifics of the document. The resolution can then be put to vote. The US and
others including India will hope that China will abstain allowing the ban to go
the consultations, the Council members can also call for a public debate on the
issue, forcing China to explain before the world why it continued to support a
dreaded terrorist like Azhar.
has indicated to India that it is willing to have constructive discussions on
the issue of Azhar. "On the issue of listing in the 1267 Committee of the
UN Security Council, China attaches importance to and understands India’s
concerns and is willing to strengthen communication with India to find a proper
solution," said Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui in a newspaper article recently.
the issue of Azhar's ban can't also be prolonged indefinitely at the UNSC.
China's hold can last for 9 months and it's perhaps in everybody's interest
that the issue is resolved, either way, much earlier.
Indonesians head to the polls next Wednesday for what is expected to be the
world’s biggest direct presidential election, 70 per cent of its 193 million registered
voters are expected to cast their ballots in a single day.
the world’s fourth most populous country, wears its hard-fought democracy with
ease. I witnessed this during each of its previous three presidential elections
– in 2004, 2009 and 2014 – and again in recent weeks as I journeyed across
rural and urban Java – the country’s main island – to speak to voters,
understand their views, and gauge what their choices might be, come election
presidential elections were first held in 2004, six years after student
protests and mass riots in several cities ended the 32-year rule of Indonesia’s
authoritarian leader Suharto.
this year, polling for local councils, regional assemblies and the national
parliament were held three months before the presidential election.
I have emerged largely optimistic from my on-the-ground, straw-poll research
expeditions. Indonesians cherish the opportunity to vote; it’s something they
would not readily sacrifice. Whether in east, central or west Java, an island
with a population of more than 140 million, I have met people eager to discuss
the merits or failings of their leaders, and conscious of the responsibility
they have to register their hopes and concerns at the ballot box.
over time, I have noticed that competitive politics increasingly divides the
country socially, though not so obviously along class lines, as in Europe. In
Indonesia the electoral divide is, alarmingly, along religious lines – between
Muslims and non-Muslims.
story of Indonesia’s 2019 election is one of two countries. In one, an
aspiring, mostly urban middle class worries about the erosion of tolerance and
diversity; in the other, growing numbers of pious and conservative Muslims,
many of them educated in rural religious schools, want laws that put Indonesia
on the road to Islamic statehood.
divergent visions sit uneasily alongside each other, and when Indonesians go to
the polls this time round, those fearing the erosion of tolerance will largely
vote for the incumbent Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, a former city
mayor with a common touch and an unthreatening manner; those who want the
country to veer towards Islamic statehood will vote for Prabowo Subianto, a
gruff former special forces commander who fought and almost won the election
against Jokowi in 2014.
saw these two Indonesias two weeks before the election in the west Java capital
of Bandung, where a gathering of nervous middle-class millennials at a modern
sculpture park worried about the decay of diversity; and at an Islamic teaching
complex not far away, where the conviction of disciplined faith had thousands
of devotees hanging on to every word of charismatic preacher Abdullah
Gymnastiar. After the preaching was over, AA Gym, as he is known, sat patiently
on an elevated office chair while the faithful lined up for selfies or to kiss
an unquestioning and disciplined following presents an obvious opportunity to
politicians in search of votes. Prabowo doesn’t come from a devout Muslim
background: his mother was a Catholic, his brother, Hasyim Djojohadikusumo,
established a charismatic Protestant church. Yet Prabowo presents himself as a
champion of conservative Islam.
call me a radical,” Prabowo told thousands of supporters at a rally in the west
Java town of Ciamis on April 6. “Yet I believe in Islam as a religion of peace
that tolerates other religions.”
that’s not what the conservative Islamic lobby supporting him wants.
a religious school on the outskirts of the west Java town of Purwakarta, the
head of security punched the air and claimed himself to be the only person with
the guts to support the incumbent president.
around here supports Prabowo because they believe he’ll promote their religious
agenda of a caliphate,” said Asep, a wiry man who practises a Sundanese martial
a large poster for the Prabowo campaign portrayed the candidate and his running
mate, Sandiaga Uno, against the image of hardline Islamist Rizieq Shihab who
lives in exile in Saudi Arabia to avoid facing criminal charges under the
Anti-Pornography Act (Rizieq is accused of sending explicit WhatsApp messages
to a woman who is not his wife).
enhance his appeal to the conservative Islamic groups, Prabowo promises to
bring Rizieq home, and presumably the charges will go away too.
believe Prabowo will bring [Rizieq] back, but they don’t understand the law in
the country,” said Asep waving towards Al Artoq school, which he claims has
4,000 followers from around the area.
alarming is President Widodo’s response, which has been to try to win support
from the conservative Muslim quarters by choosing a conservative Muslim cleric
as his running mate.
findings in west Java suggest this strategy has not worked. Prabowo still draws
strong support from the devout Muslim population of west Java, where he won
over 40 per cent more votes than Jokowi in 2014.
is worrying, though, since Jokowi is likely to win the election at the national
level, is how much leverage the Muslim lobby will now have on the president
during his second term.
makes many Indonesians who support Jokowi feel uneasy.
do state schools and offices need to have mosques?” asked a Muslim mother who
claims that her Buddhist son was denied promotion because he wasn’t a Muslim.
She was attending a discussion for millennials led by the Minister of Religion
Lukman Hakim at a modern sculpture gallery in a swanky north Bandung
neighbourhood. Lukman’s response, to explain that the constitution and a
battery of laws guarantee religious freedom, did not sound convincing.
about the recent incident in Bantul? Where Muslim residents refused to accept
that non-Muslims could live among them?” asked another member of the audience.
flustered minister shrugged off the incident, arguing that dialogue helped to
repair these “misunderstandings”.
is hard to misunderstand the signals that Prabowo’s supporters are sending. At
the rally in Ciamis, a group of young men mounted the stage shortly before the
candidate arrived. “We are the ‘Two-One-Two mujahideen’,” one of them cried.
“Under our command, God willing, we will pursue our goal of the caliphate,” one
of the young men shouted. Two-One-Two refers to the broad coalition of conservative
Islamic groups who mounted mass rallies at the end of 2017, forcing Jokowi’s
concession to demands to prosecute his former deputy on a charge of blasphemy.
what many Indonesians consider a turning point for the country’s respect for
religious diversity, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was
accused of blasphemy after a doctored video was submitted as evidence that he
was insulting the Koran. A court later sentenced him to two years in jail.
crucible of this vision of Indonesia under Islamic law can be found a few
kilometres down the road from Ciamis. Set in verdant rice fields, the Miftahul
Huda school is the largest of its kind in west Java. More than 4,000 students
come here to study the Koran. After surrendering my ID I was permitted to drive
up to the executive office, where after a while a pair of surly youths dressed
in black invited me to sit on the floor.
are you and where are you from?” the younger man asked suspiciously.
conversation was sparse. No, they do not engage in politics; students are not
even allowed outside the school perimeter without special permission. Yet it
was from here in 2017 that the first march on Jakarta was organised to demand
in Bandung, I caught up with Jalaluddin Rakhmat, a member of parliament for
Jokowi’s main party platform, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle
Prabowo and his Muslim supporters suffer from delusions,” he said in his humble
home situated just north of the regional capital. “Prabowo thinks if he wins he
can dump the Muslims. The Muslims in turn are using Prabowo to come to power.”
a bit like the way Christian evangelicals think they are using US President
who is from the small Shiite minority, is among those who fear the erosion of
tolerance for diversity. “We Muslims who are with Jokowi stand for a different
Islam: we don’t want to take Islam as the basis of the state.” For people like
us, he said, “if we go to Prabowo we will find monsters”.
problem for Jalaluddin, and like-minded Indonesians anxious to shore up
pluralism, is that Jokowi is widely regarded as having failed to deliver as a
moderate. He has been soft on human rights and has pandered to the Islamic
right. Many young people living in the Indonesia of tolerance and pluralism are
too scared to vote for Prabowo but dislike Jokowi. They might spoil their
ballots, or not vote at all.
there a way to reconcile these two Indonesias? While canvassing views I came
across an interesting experiment in social development. A group of Muslim
activists at Salman Mosque, which sits next door to Bandung’s Institute of
Technology, were looking for ways to harness Islamic teaching to progressive
looking for local champions,” said Salim Rusli, who runs Al Wakaf, an NGO
attached to the mosque, which has a long history of student activism. These can
be local ulama who use Islamic teaching to promote innovative thinking about
mundane issues such as marketing vegetables or who foster constructive
communication with local government.
of next week’s general election, a number of prominent religious figures have
called on all Indonesians, voters and candidates alike, to uphold humanity
above all other interests. At the discussion Forum Titik Temu (Meeting Point
Forum), held in Jakarta on Wednesday, speakers representing all six recognized
religions in Indonesia took turns expressing their take on faith, nationalism
and peace. The forum was held in response to heightened tensions during the
campaign period, sparked by political, religious and ethnic differences and the
prospect of conflicts after the elections. Among those who spoke at the forum
were former first lady and women rights activist Shinta Nuriyah Wahid, Muslim
intellectual Ahmad Syafi’i Ma’arif and the wife of late Muslim scholar
Nurcholis Madjid, Omi Komariah. “Within a week, we will have a celebration of
Indonesia (Reuters) - When Wawan Setiawan, a volunteer for Indonesian President
Joko Widodo’s re-election campaign, goes door-to-door in this conservative part
of Java, his opening line is: “If you hear he is anti-Islam or a communist,
remember, it’s all lies.”
41-year-old is one of thousands of volunteers - armed with T-shirts, stickers,
pins, and other giveaways - seeking to bolster support for Widodo in the
teeming villages of West Java, the most populous province and a key
battleground in the April 17 vote in the world’s largest Muslim-majority
aides say such mobilising of grassroots support and canvassing of thousands of
Islamic boarding schools in this and other conservative provinces is crucial to
prevent a repeat of 2014, when a smear campaign accusing Widodo of being a bad
Muslim beholden to Chinese interests nearly cost him the presidency, with the heaviest
losses in West Java.
in 2014, Widodo is running against retired general Prabowo Subianto, whose
military background and strong ties with hardline Islamist groups make him a
popular choice in West Java, with a voting population of 32.5 million, or about
17 percent of the electorate.
a national level most opinion surveys give Widodo a double-digit lead, but he
trails in West Java, which is known to be among the country’s most conservative
conservative Islam gains greater traction in Indonesia, many politicians
including Widodo have taken pains to appear “more Islamic” to appeal to Muslim
voters. The worry for many investors is whether this appeal for conservative
votes will translate into populist policy.
the hilly city of Garut, which favoured Prabowo in 2014, gigantic banners show
the president dressed in a peci cap and sarong - traditional garb worn in
Islamic boarding schools - saying, “let’s pray”.
the disappointment of some of his more moderate and progressive supporters,
Widodo also picked 76-year-old Islamic cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate -
part of a deliberate strategy to enhance his ticket’s appeal among Muslims.
one thing that I really like about the Jokowi campaign is that they understand
where they failed in 2014,” said Achmad Sukarsono, a senior analyst at Control
Risks in Singapore, using the president’s nickname.
made a mathematical calculation that Jokowi lost in areas where the Muslim
population was above 97 percent,” he said.
leaders say Widodo’s most effective strategy has been forging closer ties with
Islamic boarding schools - which hold huge cultural and social sway in many
parts of Indonesia - and his decision to choose Amin as running mate, a
respected Islamic scholar from the country’s biggest moderate Muslim
organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.
key difference now is Jokowi has systematically shown his appreciation for
pesantrens and santri,” said a young cleric, Hilman Uman Basori, using the
Indonesian words for Islamic boarding schools and their students.
who runs nine pesantrens in Garut, said Widodo has visited regularly,
channelled funding, and introduced much-needed vocational training programs to
complement religious education and allow graduates to find jobs.
Ma’ruf Amin as vice presidential nominee made the choice final for us...We have
mobilised all the resources in our pesantrens to make sure they win,” Basori
say Widodo has also sought to appeal to more voters in opposition strongholds
by making public appearances with his family and subtly drawing a contrast with
his rival Prabowo, who is divorced.
not everyone is convinced. West Java, which has a history of bloodshed between
Muslims and leftists, remains a stronghold for conservative Islamists who
harbour suspicions about Widodo, a moderate Muslim hailing from Central Java
whose government has sought to crack down on some hardline groups.
has criminalised clerics and that has been very hurtful for the Muslim public,”
said cleric Cecep Abdul Halim.Authorities have launched investigations into
prominent Muslim figures on charges of violating pornography laws or
defamation. The government also banned the hardline Hizb-ut Tahrir Indonesia
group, which advocates a caliphate to replace Indonesia’s secular ideology.
says he also suspects that Widodo, who is the first leader to come from outside
Indonesia’s military and political elite, may have links to communist groups -
which are illegal in Indonesia - and is allowing “millions” of Chinese workers
into the country.
president has repeatedly denied such claims and urged voters not to be taken in
by such falsehoods.
late 2016, Widodo scrambled to distance himself from a one-time ally, the
popular ethnic Chinese, Christian governor of Jakarta who was accused by
hardline groups of insulting Islam. As hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to
the streets to oust the governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Widodo sought to
reassure Islamists and the broader public that his government was not
eventually lost the next election for governorship, was jailed for blasphemy
and released earlier this year.
provincial campaign team say voter dissatisfaction over these issues and
Widodo’s performance on the economy are swaying voters.
not just optimistic, we are sure we will win,” said Yusuf Supriadi, at a
campaign post piled high with banners and t-shirts, as well as a poster of
Prabowo calling to “Make Indonesia Great Again”.
show that although Widodo trails in West Java, his focused campaign has
narrowed a gap that in 2014 stood at 20 points. His support rose from 39
percent at the start of the campaign in September to 42 percent last month,
while Prabowo’s numbers have slipped from 50 to 47 percent.
hardest part has been changing public perception of Jokowi at the very
grassroots level,” said Yuda Puja Turnawan, a member of Widodo’s party, the
Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle. “Our volunteers spend most of their
time countering hoaxes.”
to his national campaign manager, Erick Thohir, the president’s choice to
reside in the presidential palace in the West Java city of Bogor, rather than
in Jakarta, had also boosted his visibility in the region.
taking office, Widodo has also made efforts to bring religious parties into his
coalition - something analysts say has provided more “tools in his arsenal to
approach voters not reached in 2014”.
supporters of Widodo have criticised him for pandering to conservatives,
raising concerns over the erosion of Indonesia’s reputation for religious
tolerance and pluralism.
say Widodo’s overtures to Islamic groups and voters point to a potential
populist turn in policymaking if he wins a second term.
a space opening for Islamic identity politics,” political analyst Sukarsono
security service announces release of political prisoners
National Intelligence and Security Service has announced the release of all
political prisoners across the country, state news agency SUNA reported on
after the announcement, Twitter users circulated photos showing former
detainees being welcomed by protesters as they joined demonstrations against
have been waiting for a statement from Sudan’s military, as sources said Bashir
had been forced to step down from the presidency after three decades in power
and moves were under way to form a transitional council.
of those released was Mohammed Naji Elasam, a spokesman for the Sudanese
Professionals Association (SPA), the main organiser of protests being held
across Sudan since December, witnesses said. Elasam had been detained for more
than three months.
Sudanese army issued a televised statement following reports that president
Omar al-Bashir is stepping down.
army warns it will enforce night-time curfew: state media
army warned on Thursday it would enforce a night-time curfew, state media
reported, as protesters vowed to continue demonstrating against a military
council set up after the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir.
curfew runs “from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am, and all must adhere to it for their own
safety,” the army said in a statement carried by the official SUNA news agency,
adding that it was “doing its duty to keep them and their properties secure.”
United States on Thursday suspended discussions with Sudan on normalizing
relations between the two countries after the military ousted President Omar
al-Bashir and said it would run the country for two years.
State Department, while declining to declare the takeover a coup, said it
supported a peaceful and democratic Sudan and believed the Sudanese people
should be allowed a peaceful transition sooner than only in two years.
Sudanese people should determine who leads them in their future,” spokesman
Robert Palladino said at a news briefing. “The Sudanese people have been clear
that they have been demanding a civilian-led transition. They should be allowed
to do so sooner than two years from now.”
leaders in Sudan said presidential elections would take place after a two-year
period of military rule following the ouster of Bashir.
so-called “Phase II” talks between the United States and Sudan were initiated
after the Obama administration moved to lift a 20-year-old trade embargo
against Khartoum in recognition of the country’s help in fighting ISIS and
progress in improving its human rights record.
United States first imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, including a trade
embargo and blocking the government’s assets, for human rights violations and
terrorism concerns. It laid on more sanctions in 2006 for what it said was
complicity in the violence in Darfur.
whether the United States supported Bashir being put on trial before the
International Criminal Court for Darfur atrocities, Palladino said: “We believe
that the victims of Darfur deserve justice, that accountability is essential
for achieving lasting peace in Darfur.”
United States and five European countries on Thursday called for a UN Security
Council meeting on Sudan after president Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the army,
council is expected to discuss the situation in Sudan during a closed-door
meeting on Friday that was also requested by France, Britain, Germany, Belgium
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a transition in Sudan that will
meet the “democratic aspirations” of the people, his spokesman said.
appealed for “calm and utmost restraint by all.”
expressed its “complete support” on Thursday for the Sudanese people and their
army in the political transition to come, following the ouster of al-Bashir.
voiced its full belief in “the ability of the brotherly Sudanese people and
their loyal national army to overcome the challenges of this critical stage...
in order to achieve stability, prosperity and development,” a foreign ministry
statement said. The foreign ministry stressed that Egypt respects Sudan’s
sovereignty and its national decisions, reiterating its backing of the
country’s march towards “stability and prosperity”.
Arabia to host Sudanese Umrah performers
accordance with the directives of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the
Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammed Saleh bin Taher Benten, has directed
all Umrah companies and institutions to host Sudanese Umrah performers and
provide them with all services until the return of flights to Sudan.
came following the closure of Sudanese airspace for 24 hours.
Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah stressed
in a circular issued by its Minister Dr. Benten that the companies and
institutions of Umrah are committed to continuing to provide services and
accommodation to all Sudanese Umrah performers.
Union criticizes ouster
the African Union on Thursday criticized the military ouster of Sudan’s veteran
president al-Bashir and called for calm and restraint.
military takeover is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing
Sudan and the aspirations of its people,” said a statement from Moussa Faki,
chairman of the AU Commission, in Addis Ababa.
calls for national reconciliation
Ankara, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Thursday for national
reconciliation in Sudan.
who has deepened Turkey’s investments in Sudan recently, said the two countries
had deep relations that Ankara wanted to maintain.
wish is that Sudan should succeed in this calmly ... and I believe it should
start operating the normal democratic process,” he told a news conference in
is my most important wish that Sudan gets over this process on the basis of
national reconciliation and in peace.”
The UN chief warned Libya is on the brink of “a very dangerous situation” as
forces loyal to the internationally recognized government and a rival strongman
battle for control of the capital.
of people have fled heavy fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli that has left
dozens dead and prompted mounting global alarm.
chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday appealed for a halt to hostilities to
prevent the situation spiralling out of control.
still time to stop,” he told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council
in a closed session in New York.
still time for a cease-fire to take place, for a cessation of hostilities to
take place, and to avoid the worst, which would be a dramatic, bloody battle
a week of fighting on the city’s doorstep has already killed 56 people and
wounded 266, the World Health Organization said.
of people have fled their homes, while others are trapped in conflict areas.
Hospitals inside and outside (Tripoli) are receiving daily casualties,” it
UN chief was in Libya when forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Hafta
last week launched an offensive to capture the capital, which is controlled by
a UN-backed government and an array of militias.
backs a rival administration based in eastern Libya that refuses to recognize
the authority of the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez
said Libya was facing a “very dangerous situation” and urged a halt to the
fighting to allow political negotiations to start anew.
is very clear for me that we need to restart a serious political dialogue and a
serious political negotiation but it is obvious that cannot take place without
a full stop to the hostilities,” he said.
council met for more than two hours behind closed doors to consider how to
address the fresh fighting that has derailed efforts to end instability that
has been exploited by jihadists and people-smugglers.
United Nations postponed a national conference that was to open on Sunday to
draw up a roadmap to elections, meant to turn the page on years of turmoil
since the NATO-backed overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
clashes shook Ain Zara, a town dotted with farms on the southeastern outskirts of
Tripoli where pro-GNA fighters managed to reverse an advance by Haftar’s
the town’s main street, lined with shops and houses, a sand barrier erected by
pro-GNA forces separated the two camps.
the criminals of Haftar’s group have advanced, but we destroyed a tank and two
armored vehicles,” said a pro-GNA fighter who gave his name as Youssef.
situation is good now,” he said.
him, artillery fire stirred up a cloud of sand as the sound of machine guns and
anti-aircraft guns rang out.
a shell sliced through the air and hit a nearby house.
see, he (Haftar) wants to destroy our houses and all of Tripoli,” one of the
self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls swathes of the country’s
east, said on Wednesday it had seized a barracks in the Aziziya area around 50
kilometers (31 miles) south of Tripoli after “ferocious clashes.”
said several fighters loyal to the UN-backed government had been detained and
their weapons seized.
the moment, it’s still a game of cat and mouse,” said a commander from a
still organizing ourselves. The war hasn’t truly started,” he told AFP in Ain
arms fire was heard from the front line about 10 kilometers (six miles) away
where the city’s disused international airport has changed hands several times
over the past week.
forces appear to be advancing on two fronts, from the south and southeast of
Tripoli, while coast roads to the east and west of the city are defended by
fighters loyal to the GNA.
strongman, whose key allies are the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia
and Russia, is a former Qaddafi military chief who has emerged as a major
player in Libya’s political struggle.
chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was “deeply concerned by the situation
current military operation and advance on Tripoli are increasing the suffering
of the Libyan people and putting civilian lives at risk,” he said.
UN children’s agency (UNICEF) said “nearly half a million children in Tripoli
and tens of thousands more in the western areas are at a direct risk due to the
intensification of fighting.”
casualties remain limited so far, the International Crisis Group warned further
escalation “could precipitate a humanitarian disaster.”
least 13 people were killed Thursday in Sudan when security forces intervened
in protests, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.
included two demonstrators in the capital Khartoum, it said in a statement
committee said one person died outside army headquarters in the capital, where
hundreds of protesters staged a sit-in for the sixth day in a row.
Saturday, at least 35 people have been killed in clashes with security forces,
which have repeatedly tried to disperse the sit-in by force, it added.
Thursday, the Sudanese military announced the removal of President Omar
al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since 1989, and the imposition of a
two-year "transitional phase".
a televised statement, Defense Minister Awad ibn Auf announced the imposition
of a one-month curfew along with a three-month nationwide state of emergency.
also announced the suspension of Sudan’s 2005 Constitution and the dissolution
of the Sudanese presidency, parliament and council of ministers.
said a military council would be established to run the country’s affairs
during the post-Bashir interim phase.
opposition parties and professional associations voiced their total rejection
of what they called a "military coup".
near Libyan capital Tripoli have left 56 people dead and scores more injured
since they began late last week, according to the World Health Organization
a Thursday tweet, the WHO put the total number of casualties at 56 dead
(including six civilians) and 275 injured (including nine civilians).
those killed, the health agency said, were two doctors and an ambulance driver.
WHO is currently “rushing medical aid to the wounded [and] sending supplies and
medical teams to hospitals receiving casualties”, the agency tweeted.
Thursday, military commander Khalifa Haftar, who is affiliated with a
government based in the country’s east, launched a campaign to capture Tripoli,
where Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is headquartered.
the past six days, Haftar’s forces have continued to trade blows with pro-GNA
forces on the capital’s outskirts.
has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising
led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in
sources were quoted by the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper as saying on
Thursday that Tahrir al-Sham has sent a large number of military equipment to
regions occupied by Ahrar al-Sham in the towns of Ariha, Ma'arat al-No'aman and
Qalat al-Maziq with the aim of taking full control of Idlib province.
added that Tahrir al-Sham is now in control of 90% of Idlib province and
adjacent areas in Hama and Lattakia, saying that it will likely take full
control of the demilitarized zone designated by the Sochi Agreement between
Russia and Turkey.
the Syrian army targeted the militants' movements from the town of al-Janabareh
in Northern Hama and al-Tamane'ah in Southern Idlib with artillery and missile
attacks after their continued offensives from the demilitarized zone, fully
annihilating two terrorist groups.
reports also said that the terrorist groups in Northern Aleppo launched missile
strikes on the residential areas in the town of al-Zahra in Western Aleppo.
late February, Arab media reports said that the Turkish intelligence officials
and commanders of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at had been meeting on protecting and
keeping the terrorist group in Idlib province.
newspaper quoted sources close to the militants as saying that Ankara had set
conditions for supporting Tahrir al-Sham and its continued control over Idlib,
saying that they should follow Ikhwan al-Muslimoun (Muslim Brotherhood)
added that the two sides have reached an agreement that includes a shift of
approach by Tahrir al-Sham. "In return Turkey has promised the terrorist
group that it will prolong the demilitarized zone agreement as long as
possible, will not participate in any joint military operations against Tahrir
al-Sham and will try to prevent such operations."
paper also referred to the Syrian army's airstrikes against the terrorists in
Northern and Northwestern Hama and Southeastern Idlib in response to their
attacks, raising the possibility that military operations in Idlib would soon
Turkish army has in recent days sent over 20 vehicles, carrying soldiers,
military equipment and prefabricated houses to Northern Hama and Southern Idlib
to strengthen its occupied points in Northern Syria in regions near the areas
occupied by Tahrir al-Sham terrorists.
sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported on Thursday that the Syrian army has
found the mass grave in the Southeastern parts of the town of al-Mayadeen in
Eastern Deir Ezzur.
added that corpses of 23 civilians, including a number of women, were found
from the mass grave, noting that they had been executed by the ISIL when the
town was under the terrorist group's occupation.
of civilians killed by the ISIL or the US airstrikes are found in the two
Eastern provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzur nearly on a daily basis.
reports said last week that the dead bodies of over 60 victims killed in US-led
coalition airstrikes and ISIL attacks had been discovered under the rubble and
mass-graves in Raqqa.
activists in Raqqa reported that the civil teams in the city found the corpses
of 13 people from a mass-grave in al-Fakhikheh region in Southern Raqqa and 4
others from the debris of al-Ta'aminat district who had been killed in the US airstrikes.
Kurdish-language Hawar News reported that a bomb-laden car was detonated near
the US military convoy in al-Shadadi region in Southern Hasaka on Tuesday
afternoon, killing the suicide bomber.
other reports, including the Arabic-language Bass News, affiliated to the
Kurds, reported on Wednesday that one of the US forces has also been wounded in
MENA quoted unconfirmed reports as saying that a US soldier was killed and
another was wounded during the suicide blast.
source said that concurrent with the attack, the Kurdish fighters arrested a
number of civilians in the village of al-Aziziyeh in the Western parts of Ra'as
al-Ain in Northern Hasaka after creating horror among people by firing bullets.
US army is no more welcomed in the region and attacks against them have
this week, three US army terrorists and a civilian contractor were killed in
the explosion of an improvised explosive device near Bagram Air Force Base in
other service members were wounded and evacuated for treatment, according to a
statement by Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.
attack comes as Washington is in the process of negotiating a military exit
from the Central Asian country with the Taliban, the primary military and
political antagonist to the Washington-backed government in Kabul. Two rounds
of negotiations have taken place so far this year and a third is expected this
neighboring Iran, the top security body labeled the US CENTCOM and all the US
army soldiers operating under the US Central Command in the Middle-East and
Central Asia as a terrorist entity in response to a similar move by the White
House against Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
United States on Monday designated the IRGC as a "foreign terrorist
organization", marking the first time Washington has formally labelled
another country's military a "terrorist group".
to Washington's move, Iran immediately declared the US as "state sponsor
of terrorism" and American forces in the region "terrorist
top security body, the Supreme Nationsl Security Council (SNSC), in a statement
issued on Monday evening declared the United States a “terrorist government”,
and blacklisted the "CENTCOM and all its affiliates a terrorist group”.
engineering units of the Syrian army on Thursday found weapons and equipment,
including machine-guns, RPGs, missiles, different types of guns, West-made
grenades and US-made anti-tank missiles in purging operations in the town of
Arabayn and al-Zamir region in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus.
a field source in Eastern Syria reported that the Syrian army purged the ISIL
terrorists during operations from Panaroma square at the Southern entrance of
Deir Ezzur city to Talat Um Aboud region near the international Deir
added that the Syrian army forces defused and detonated a large number of
anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, including the US-made ones, left behind by
the ISIL terrorists.
US, Israel and other western states have helped the terrorist groups in Syria
logistically and financially.
is not the first time that the West's footprints are found in the terrorists'
strongholds in Syria.
a relevant development earlier this month, The Syrian army discovered a cache
of weapons and military equipment, including West-made arms, during cleansing
operations in regions freed from terrorists' hands in Northern Dara'a.
engineering units of the Syrian army last Monday found a large number of
different types of weapons, machine-guns, RPGs, guns and ammunition left behind
by the terrorists who had earlier occupied the town of Ankhal in Northern
Iraqis to return home under Syrian deal
Syrian Kurds have announced a deal with Baghdad for 31,000 displaced Iraqis,
mostly women and children, to return from camps in northeastern Syria to Iraq.
of thousands of people live in the camps, which swelled during the months-long
battle by a Kurdish-led force against the last vestige of Daesh’s “caliphate.”
delegation from the Iraqi Cabinet visited the autonomous administration to
discuss the return to Iraq of displaced Iraqis, estimated to number 31,000, and
an agreement was reached,” said Kurdish official Mahmud Kero.
far 4,000 people have signed up and we are waiting for the Iraqi government to
open up the Iraqi border” to begin the returns, he said. Kero said many of the
displaced, including children born on Syrian soil, did not have Iraqi identity
have asked the Iraqi government to find a solution,” he said.
expected to return do not include suspected Daesh fighters who surrendered or
were caught fleeing the terror group’s last redoubt and are now held at
have asked for the return of all Iraqis including those accused of belonging to
Daesh,” Kero said.
said they had called for “the trial of those accused of belonging to Daesh on
Iraqi official said on Tuesday that Baghdad had made preparations for the
return of tens of thousands of citizens, most of them “women and children.”
were mostly displaced from Nineveh and Salaheddin, two provinces north of
Baghdad that were once Daesh bastions, said Ali Abbas, an official at the
ministry of displacement and migration.
keeps watchful eye on Al-Azhar's growing role abroad
— Egypt’s Al-Azhar has had a significant presence abroad in recent years,
especially in its efforts to counter the effects of the Islamic State's rise in
several countries. The Sunni religious and educational institution has
undertaken joint programs to support Islamic countries' fight against extremism
and participated in conferences held by international organizations.
this activity, however, apparently has made President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a
bit suspicious of the motives behind it. He and Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed
el-Tayeb have been known to vie for influence.
April 2, Al-Azhar International Academy, which Tayeb established last year, began
offering courses to train imams and preachers from 20 countries, including
Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria. On its website, the academy says it shares with
participants Al-Azhar's expertise in Islamic studies, "refining their
skills and giving them modern experiences and methods that raise their
scientific level and help them to deal with intellectual, jurisprudential and
January, the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) inaugurated the
International Awqaf Academy, a training institute distinct from Tayeb's for
imams and preachers in 6th of October City with the goal of drawing Egyptian
and international figures together to renew Islamic discourse.
are many branches of Al-Azhar-affiliated associations that work to strengthen
its role of spreading moderate Islamic views.
2015, Tayeb established the Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism. Its
website offers information in English, French, German, Spanish, Urdu, Swahili
and Persian. Through its representatives, the observatory also participates in
international forums on Muslim relations with non-Muslims.
Shaaban, head of the observatory, told Al-Monitor by phone, “We have forged
several protocols of cooperation with governments of European countries and
international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union
on the issue of terrorist groups and how they manage to attract and mobilize
young people. We are also working to pinpoint the reasons behind the growing
Islamophobia in Europe."
said many collaboration protocols are in place between the observatory and
Jordan’s Royal Institute For Inter-Faith Studies.
on Al-Azhar’s motives for collaborating with international agencies, Shaaban
said, “Al-Azhar believes that this role is its national duty amid external
circumstances and the noticeable rise of terrorist organizations. This,
therefore, requires a greater presence of the most important and oldest Islamic
institution to confront these fundamentalist ideas.”
stressed that international agencies such as the UN and EU and the governments
of most African and Arab countries, are keen to consider the views of Al-Azhar
in this regard and benefit from its long history and the confidence of millions
of Muslims in it.
al-Safti, a member of the World Organization for Al-Azhar Graduates, told
Al-Monitor that the group has been working to establish 10 new branches in
addition to the existing 18 branches around the world, which include ones in
Chad, Libya and Kenya. The organization is a non-governmental institution
headed by Tayeb.
explained that in the past year, the graduates association has organized
training courses for imams in Libya, Russia, Nigeria and other African
countries. These efforts come within the framework of renewing religious
discourse and honing imams' and preachers’ skills to help them rectify
misconceptions about Islam. Safti was part of a delegation that visited Russia.
have also held debate sessions in coordination with the security authorities in
several Arab countries, where people who espouse IS ideologies were invited to
share their opinion. The goal was to try to dispel their misconception of Islam
and provide them with correct Sharia material,” Safti said.
researcher Islam Barakat at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an
independent think tank, has a different view of Al-Azhar's recent efforts.
believe all this action abroad is part of Al-Azhar’s vision of itself as the
guardian of Islam around the world and as a partner — rather than an affiliated
institution — to the Egyptian state,” Barakat told Al-Monitor. “All these
activities abroad immunize the institution to criticism from the Egyptian
political authorities or efforts to isolate the grand imam, especially in light
of the dispute between Tayeb and Sisi,” he added.
undisclosed government source told independent Egyptian newspaper Mada Masr,
“Sisi is not comfortable with the extent of independence that Al-Azhar is
wielding, nor its role abroad. [The] grand imam is acting as though the
institution does not operate under the umbrella of the Egyptian government.
This is obviously an issue of discomfort for the president.”
officials on Thursday announced it has sanctioned a Lebanese network accused of
laundering millions of dollars for “drug kingpins” and helping finance
Hezbollah, the Iran-backed group that Washington labels a terrorist
US Treasury Department said it has added Lebanese national Kassem Chams to its
blacklist, along with two related entities: the “Chams Money Laundering Organization”
and Chams Exchange, a money service business in Lebanon.
Chams and his international money laundering network move tens of millions of
dollars a month in illicit narcotics proceeds on behalf of drug kingpins and
facilitate money movements for Hezbollah,” Treasury said in a statement.
Chams network moves money to and from multiple countries including Australia,
Brazil, Colombia, France, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, the United
States and Venezuela, according to the department.
sanctions are part of the administration’s “unprecedented campaign to prevent
Hezbollah and its global terror affiliates from profiting off violence,
corruption, and the drug trade,” Treasury under secretary Sigal Mandelker said.
department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Chams Exchange operates
under license and supervision of the Central Bank of Lebanon (BdL) “despite US
authorities long suspecting it” of significant money laundering.
said it remains committed to working with BdL “to eliminate access to the
Lebanese financial system by narcotics traffickers, money launderers, and
terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.”
Donald Trump’s administration has accused Iran of taking provocative measures
to destabilize the Middle East.
has increased sanctions on the Islamic republic in order to undercut its
revenues and to financially squeeze regional allies like the Lebanese
this week Washington designated Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
as a terrorist organization.
Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf has been sworn in as the chief of
the new military council that has replaced Omar al-Bashir, the country’s ousted
president, amid growing calls for a civilian government.
took the oath to become the head of the council on Thursday night hours after
announcing the news of Bashir’s ouster and his detainment by the army on
Thursday, state media reported.
Sundanese army's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Kamal Abdel Marouf al-Mahi,
was appointed as Auf’s deputy.
television made the announcement while also sharing images of both officers
taking the oath in the presence of the chief of the country's judiciary.
declared a three-month state of emergency and imposed a one-month curfew from
10 p.m. to 4 a.m. He said the country's airspace would be also closed for 24
hours and border crossings sealed until further notice.
military council has also declared a nationwide ceasefire, which includes the
war-torn regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where Bashir's
government had long been battling ethnic minority rebels, Auf said.
of people, who had packed the streets of Khartoum to celebrate Bashir’s removal
after months of demonstrations, returned to the streets this time to demand a
of people rallied outside army headquarters late on Thursday despite a
night-time curfew imposed by the military. Protesters were chanting
"Peace! Justice! Freedom!" as they thronged the sprawling Khartoum
complex for the sixth night in a row.
US urge power transition to civilians
in the day, European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini called on the
army to quickly hand over power to a civilian government.
a credible and inclusive political process can meet the aspirations of the
Sudanese people and lead to the political and economic reforms the country
needs," she said in a statement.
can only be achieved through a swift handover to a civilian transitional
government," Mogherini added.
US also took sides with the protesters and urged Sudan's army to bring
civilians into government, saying the planned two-year transition timeline was
simply too long.
calls "on transitional authorities to exercise restraint and to allow
space for civilian participation within the government," US State
Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.
Sudanese people should determine who leads them and their future and the
Sudanese people have been clear and are demanding a civilian-led transition,"
U.S. has denied entry to the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS) movement, Washington-based advocacy group the Arab American
Institute (AAI) said Thursday.
said Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian activist, was barred from taking a flight to
New York on Wednesday. He was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel,
according to the institute, which had been coordinating his trip to the U.S.
the co-founder of the BDS movement, had a valid U.S. visa as well as the proper
travel documents, AAI said.
Barghouti is a leading Palestinian voice on human rights. Omar’s denial of
entry into the U.S. is the latest example of the Trump administration’s
disregard for those rights," James Zogby, president of AAI, said in a
also released a statement, which was posted online, saying the denial of entry
is part of Israel's repression of the Palestinian people.
U.S. entry ban against me, which is ideologically and politically motivated, is
part of Israel’s escalating repression against Palestinian, Israeli and
international human rights defenders in the BDS movement for freedom, justice
and equality," Barghouti said, according to the statement, which was
posted on the BDS movement's Twitter account.
of Israeli apartheid in the U.S. are desperately trying to deny U.S. lawmakers,
media, diverse audiences at universities, a bookstore and a synagogue their
right to listen, first-hand, to a Palestinian human rights advocate calling for
ending U.S. complicity in Israel’s crimes against our people," he added.
all my talks will go ahead, with me speaking online."
BDS movement was formed in 2005 by 170 Palestinian civil society and rights
groups and calls for a boycott of Israeli companies involved in violating
Palestinian human rights and for institutions to withdraw their investments in
those companies as a form of non-violent pressure on Israel.
also calls for sanctions campaigns to pressure governments to fulfill their
legal obligation to hold Israel to account.
movement works to end international support for Israel's oppression of
Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law, according to
its official website.
Ilhan Omar faced further attacks Thursday for comments she made about the Sept.
11, 2001 terrorist attacks, this time from U.S. President Donald Trump's son.
younger Trump criticized the Muslim lawmaker after comments surfaced of her
talking about the Islamophobia Muslims faced in the post-Sept. 11 era.
too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class
citizen," Omar said at an event for the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR). "And frankly, I’m tired of it. And every single Muslim
in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they
recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to
lose access to our civil liberties."
Jr. called out Omar, taking the wording "some people did something"
and using it to call her an "anti-Semite" and a "disgrace".
a disgrace that this anti-Semite is in Congress and actually gets to make
decisions for Americans," Trump Jr. said in an Instagram post. "As an
American and a New Yorker I couldn’t be more offended by this
the front page of the New York Post, a right-wing newspaper, was a response to
Omar's comments saying "Here's your something. 2,977 people dead from
terrorism." Behind the headline was a photo of the Twin Towers exploding.
Wednesday, "Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade apologized after
making similar comments that questioned Omar's loyalty to the U.S.
members of Congress came to Omar's defense, saying that she was speaking truth
take our words out of context because they’re afraid because we speak truth, we
speak truth to power," Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said in an
interview with MSNBC about the Post's front cover.
sees what terrorism can do, she sees what violence can do to a whole country, a
whole people. Taking it out of context, this is just a pure racist act,"
a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th district, is one of the first two
Muslim lawmakers to be elected into U.S. Congress, alongside Tlaib of Michigan.
has faced a slew of attacks and death threats in recent weeks, along with
ongoing criticisms since she made scathing comments against Israel, and now
with comments she made on the Sept. 11 attacks.
Friday, a man in New York was charged with threatening to assault and kill
Omar, after he reportedly said "she's a [expletive] terrorist. I'll put a
bullet in her [obscenity] skull."
U.S. State Department sanctioned and issued a travel ban for 16 Saudi citizens
for their alleged involvement in Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder in
Istanbul last fall.
sanctioned Saudis include those with close links to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Mohammad bin Salman, who is widely held responsible for the killing, therefore
they are called the “prince's men”.
of murder: Al-Qahtani
first name is Saud al-Qahtani, the former advisor to the crown prince.
would conduct smear campaigns on social media to target institutions or people
opposing the new administration of Saudi Arabia, led by bin Salman.
was also serving as a minister in the Saudi royal court.
army of social media trolls threatened opponents, including Jamal Khashoggi.
he is known have played a significant role in Lebanese Prime Minister Saad
Hariri’s detention in Saudi Arabia and forced resignation in late 2017.
head the propaganda campaigns against Qatar following the embargo led by the
United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
also interrogated dissident Saudi royal family members and businessmen, after
bin Salman became the de facto leader of the country.
media outlets repeatedly produced stories regarding Al-Qahtani's alleged
communication with the hit-squad sent to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi.
Saudi administration was forced to dismiss Al-Qahtani after Khashoggi's murder
scandal came to light, he was banned from traveling abroad.
line with the Khashoggi investigation in Istanbul, Turkish prosecutors issued
an arrest warrant for Al-Qahtani, who was accused of "deliberately killing
the Saudi authorities continue to make contradictory statements regarding what
happened to Al-Qahtani.
of hit-squad: Mutreb
prominent figure highlighted in Washington's sanction list is Maher Mutreb, who
joined bin Salman's team after serving the intelligence service of Saudi
who became a colonel in the Royal Guards, has got a number of photos with the
allegedly received spyware training in various countries such as Italy and the
was claimed he met Khashoggi in 2017 when he was operating as a security
attaché in Saudi Arabia's Embassy in London.
as the head of the hit-squad who killed Khashoggi, Mutreb entered Saudi
Arabia’s Istanbul Consulate on Oct. 2, an hour before Khashoggi was brutally
allegedly called Riyadh right after Khashoggi was killed and said: “Tell your
boss, the deed is done."
Tubaigy left Saudi Arabia for the U.K. in 2004 to pursue a master's degree in
Glasgow University's medical school.
the next five years, Tubaigy operated as a forensic pathologist in Saudi
Arabia's Riyadh and Dammam provinces; he got some articles published regarding
murders in Saudi Arabia.
operated as head of Forensic Medicine Institute of Saudi Arabia's Interior
Ministry, he was regarded as one of the prominent figures of forensic studies
in the country.
was among the hit-squad of 15 people sent to kill Khashoggi, his mission was to
"spoil evidence". He is also known to have dismembered Khashoggi's
body double: Mustafa al-Madani
al-Madani has also been named in Washington's sanction list. His mission in
Istanbul was to be the body double of Khashoggi to mislead investigators.
is a petroleum engineer. He is known to be an advisor to bin Salman and has
accompanied him to some important meetings.
Khashoggi was killed, al-Madani left the consulate in Khashoggi's clothes.
However, he forgot to wear Khashoggi's shoes, giving himself away.
sought to give the impression that Khashoggi left the consulate by moving
around the diplomatic building. He also allegedly shared intelligence within
other names included in the U.S. sanction list are as follows: Meshal
al-Albostani, Naif Alarifi, Mohammed al-Alzahrani, Mansour Abahussain, Khalid
al-Otaibi, Abdulaziz al-Hawsawi, Waleed al-Sehri, Thaar al-Harbi, Fahad al-Balawi,
Badr al-Utaibi, Saif al-Qahtani and Turki al-Sehri.
Arabia has yet to make a statement regarding the fate of these people who were
responsible for logistics, communications and intelligence of the hit-squad.
general and deputy intelligence chief missing
Mohammad al-Otaibi, Saudi Arabia's consul general in Istanbul, was not included
in the sanction list.
drew global outrage after he opened the consulate doors to journalists to prove
that Khashoggi was not in the building; he even opened closets and electrical
panels, triggering the global community with his slapdash attitude.
addition, Ahmad al-Asiri, the former deputy intelligence chief who directed the
murder along with al-Qahtani, was not included in the sanction list either.
been educated in Saudi Arabia's Armed Forces Command, Asiri was recognized as
the spokesman of a coalition established in 2015 for military action in Yemen.
announce launch of spring offensive amid peace talks
Afghanistan: The Taliban have announced the start of their spring offensive
even as they talk peace with the United States and prepare for a significant
gathering to find an end to the protracted war and an eventual withdrawal of US
troops from Afghanistan.
a lengthy missive distributed in five languages, including English, the Taliban
say the fighting would continue while foreign fighters are in Afghanistan and
supported by Afghan security forces.
announcement says, “mujahedeen brothers are requested to launch the jihadi
operation with complete sincerity and pure intentions.”
was written to Taliban fighters on the ground. It calls for coordination,
strict adherence to the Taliban’s military command structure and exhorts
fighters to avoid civilian casualties.
preparations are underway for Afghan-to-Afghan talks to begin April 19.
Noor, 16, was jubilant at being accepted by Leda High School in Teknaf of
Southeast Bangladesh's now world-famous Cox's Bazar, home to hundreds of
thousands of Rohingya refugees living in makeshift camps."None of my
brothers got past primary school," said Noor, the youngest of five sons of
a Rohingya couple who fled persecution by the military and radical Buddhists in
Maungdaw town of Myanmar's Rakhine state in 1992."But I made it to
secondary school, so now I can dream of a better life than my parents and
siblings," added the teenager, who was born and grew up in a refugee camp
in the district, which is experiencing a growing backlash against the Rohingya
as their numbers swell.However, his dream hit hard a rocky patch in March after
local authorities issued a directive to officials and schools in the district
barring children without Bangladeshi citizenship from attending state schools
there."During class about a month ago, our headmaster summoned six
Rohingya students, including me, to his office and informed us that we should
not come to school anymore," Noor recalled."He said the government
had ordered schools not to admit Rohingya children. Since then, I had no choice
but to stop going."Jamal Uddin, the headmaster of Leda High School, said
his hands were also tied."At the end of February, we received a letter
stating that Rohingya children should go to 'their own schools' in the camps,
not Bangladeshi schools," he told ucanews.com."We identified 60
Rohingya students in various classes and asked them not to come to school
anymore, but they were not officially expelled as we didn't issue a transfer
certificate [TC]," added Uddin, who is also a Muslim."We have to
follow the government's order," he said. "So we won't be accepting
any more Rohingya students until that directive is revoked."Anandamoy
Bhowmick, an education officer in Teknaf, said there had not been any official
order to expel Rohingya students but admitted there was a policy of
"discouraging" them from pursuing a secondary education "as they
are not citizens of this country.""However, we know some local
government officials have been helping Rohingya parents get fake Bangladeshi
documents so they can still enroll their kids in local schools," Bhowmick
and deprived of an education Noor's parents settled in Leda camp as
undocumented refugees after failing to enlist as official refugees in two other
camps in Kutupalong and Nayapara of Cox's Bazar, both of which are
co-administered by the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the local government.In
1992, the UNHCR granted official refugee status to some 30,000 Rohingya who
refused to return to home fearing persecution, allowing them to receive aid for
their daily needs and survival.Thousands more settled in informal camps with
notoriously squalid conditions that sprang up near the official camps.They are
among the more than 200,000 Rohingya Muslims who moved to Bangladesh to escape
abuse and violence in Myanmar in recent decades.This is in addition to the
estimated 740,000 Rohingya who flocked to the country amid renewed military
crackdowns in neighboring Myanmar in 2016 and 2017.An informal primary-level
education is available at the government-sanctioned refugee camps, but it is
scarce at unregistered ones like in Leda.As a result, most parents send their
children to madrasas either in or near the camps to receive a religious
education.The fortunate few, like Noor, get to attend schools run by aid
groups, largely against the will of the authorities, that offer a more rounded
education.Due to their stateless nature, the Rohingya have been a thorn in the
side of Bangladesh and Myanmar for decades.This Muslim sub-sect lived in the
Arakan Kingdom, an independent territory, for centuries before it was annexed
by Burma (since renamed Myanmar) following an invasion by the Burmese in
1784.The British colonized the country in 1824, and what was formerly known as
Arakan is now Rakhine state — a long sliver of land that occupies most of the
coastline on Myanmar's western edge on the Bay of Bengal.Since the 1970s,
successive military governments started branding the Rohingya as illegal
Bengali interlopers from Bangladesh.The group officially became stateless in
1982, when Myanmar's military amended the citizenship law and excluded them
from a list of about 135 ethnic groups in the country.This denied the Rohingya
access to all kinds of basic rights including food, health, education, and
employment.In the decades that followed, they have trickled into Bangladesh,
where many see them as unwelcome guests.Prior to the massive influx of refugees
to Cox's Bazar in 2017, both the official stance from Dhaka and public opinion
were against the Rohingya. They were billed as a security threat and a
financial and resource-gobbling burden for this overpopulated and impoverished
South Asian country.
Rohingya were often denied entry to the country, where they faced harassment
and the prospect of jail. With the exception of registered refugees, the
government discouraged aid groups from operating at the non-sanctioned Rohingya
camps that started springing up.Their fortunes have since reversed, at least to
some degree, as international sympathy has been showered on their plight and
Bangladesh cast in the role of savior, fending off a brutal Myanmar military
and providing them with shelter.For the last two years, the country has been
working on a plan to relocate the refugees on a voluntary basis to a remote
island about a nine-hour drive from the camps.However, critics of the plan say
Thengar Char near Hatiya Island in the Bay of Bengal is uninhabited and flood
prone, and that sending them there is merely an attempt to prevent them from
"intermingling with Bangladeshi citizens." Expulsion triggers
criticismThe recent decision to expel Rohingya students has sparked an outcry
from rights activists. On April 1, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)
issued a statement slamming the move."The Bangladeshi government's policy
of tracking down and expelling Rohingya refugee students instead of ensuring
their right to education is misguided, tragic, and unlawful," said Bill
Van Esveld, a senior researcher of children's rights."Education is a basic
human right. The solution to children feeling compelled to falsify their
identities to go to secondary school isn't to expel them, but to let them get
the education they deserve."Bangladesh is a party to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (CESCR), which guarantee children's rights to free primary
education, available and accessible secondary education, and higher education
on the basis of capacity, regardless of their immigration or refugee status,
HRW noted.Jyoti F. Gomes, secretary of the Bangladesh Catholic Education Board,
has voiced similar concerns."On humanitarian grounds, it is saddening and
inhumane to deprive Rohingya children of an education. Bangladesh is a
signatory to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, so this move goes against
state policy," Gomes told ucanews.com.Moreover, barring them from schools
leaves them more vulnerable to engaging in criminal activity, which would
produce worse results for society and the government, he added.
Afghan armed forces have stormed a major hideout of Taliban which was used as
headquarters by group’s militants and commanders to conducted terrorist related
activities in Lalpur district of Nangarhar province.
provincial government media office in a statement said a prison along with
several other small and medium hideouts of the group were also discovered and
destroyed during the same operation and some heavy and light weapons and
munitions were confiscated.
statement further added that Taliban militants were keeping innocent civilians
as hostages inside the prison besides using the hideouts to carry out attacks
in Nangarhar province.
least ten villages have also been cleared the operations so far and new
security outposts have been established, the provincial government added in its
least seven militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan
(ISIS-K) were killed in a U.S. drone strike in eastern Kunar province of
201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in a statement said the airstrike was
carried out on Wednesday in Noor Gul district.
statement further added that a commander of ISIS-K identified as Mawlavi Khyber
was killed along with six other militants in the airstrike.
anti-government armed militants including ISIS-K loyalists have not commented
regarding the airstrike so far.
Taliban have banned the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from operating in Afghanistan, citing
spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was cited by Reuters as saying on Thursday that
the militant group was no longer guaranteeing the security of the workers
enlisted with some organizations, including the United Nations health body and
the Red Cross.
claimed the organizations had stopped complying with their agreements with the
militants, while he alleged irregularities during the vaccination processes
carried out by them.
are acting suspiciously during vaccination campaigns," he said.
across Afghanistan has created a "complex situation" and some
charitable organizations are not operating in accordance with the situation,
the spokesman vaguely explained.
spokesman Robin Waudo acknowledged the announcement and said they had suspended
their activities in the country “due to the withdrawal of security
we are now in the process of contacting the [Taliban] to initiate a bilateral
and confidential dialog in view of the statement," he told AFP.
Ni, a WHO spokeswoman in Afghanistan, told the agency that officials
"acknowledge the reports and are working on better understanding the
Taliban had banned the ICRC from operating on the Afghan soil last August, but
the aid group resumed its activity in October after talks.
is one of the few countries in the world, where easily-preventable polio is on
Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an
end following the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. But 18 years on,
Washington is still entangled in the war and is now seeking a truce with the
on Thursday called on Libya’s pro-Khalifa Haftar forces to immediately stop
military offensive on the capital city of Tripoli.
spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor has condemned Haftar’s
military offensive on Thursday in a phone call with Fayez al-Sarraj, chairman
of the Presidential Council and prime minister of the UN-backed Government of
federal government asks General Haftar and his supporters to immediately stop
all military operations,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
Chancellor has reaffirmed her conviction that there can be no military solution
in Libya,” he said, adding that Germany would continue to support UN’s efforts
for a peaceful solution in the country.
Thursday, commander Haftar announced that his forces are launching a military
campaign to capture Tripoli from the UN-backed government.
then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of
power: one in eastern Libya, with which strongman Khalifa Haftar is associated,
and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN support.
European Union on Thursday called on all the parties in Sudan to refrain from
violence following President Omar al-Bashir’s reported resignation.
Thursday, al-Bashir stepped down in the wake of continued calls for his
resignation, according to military sources.
the Sudanese army has yet to release an official announcement regarding
al-Bashir's reported resignation.
are closely monitoring the situation and following the developments on the
ground and call on all parties, first of all, refrain from any violence,” the
EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a news
briefing in Brussels.
EU calls for a “peaceful, credible, legitimate and inclusive political
process,” in the country, Kocijancic said.
are currently in contact with the member states, with our partners to follow
the situation. Our delegation on the ground continues to do its work,” she
of thousands of people flooded the streets of Khartoum and other Sudanese
cities to express their joy following reports of Omar al-Bashir’s resignation
after 30 years in power.
rift between France and Italy over Libya policy burst into the open on Thursday
as an offensive by commander Khalifa Haftar to capture the capital Tripoli
stalled amid fierce fighting.
said France, which has in the past deployed special forces to aid Field Marshal
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) had blocked a planned European Union
resolution that would have condemned the Tripoli attack.
Tripoli itself there were signs that the LNA offensive against forces of the
UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) had stalled, with battles across
a fluid frontline south of the city. LNA units are now 11 kilometres from the
city centre, where both sides have blocked roads with earth ramparts.
diplomatic sources told Reuters news agency that they did not object to calling
on the LNA to cease its offensive, but wanted a EU statement expanded to
include reference to the plight of migrants trapped in the fighting, and to the
presence, among anti-LNA forces, of militant groups.
a strong supporter of the GNA, accused France of jeopardising Libya’s security.
would be very serious if France for economic or commercial reasons had blocked
an EU initiative to bring peace to Libya and would support a party that is
fighting,” said Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. “As minister of
the interior I will not stand by and watch.”
and Italy have been at loggerheads over Libya, and several other issues
including the distribution of migrants in Europe, for some time. Mr Salvini
accused Paris of putting business ahead of humanity, saying: “Some think that
the [2011 Nato-led military intervention] in Libya promoted by [former French
President Nicolas] Sarkozy was triggered more by economic and commercial
interests than by humanitarian concerns. I hope we are not seeing the same film
all over again.”
and Italy had previously been at the forefront of international efforts to end
Libya’s four-year civil war, each holding a high-profile peace conference last
year to encourage Libyan parties to hold elections.
support for Field Marshal Haftar reflects sentiment in Paris that he is a
bulwark against militancy in Libya and the wider North African region. Italian
support for the GNA is motivated in part by agreements it has made with GNA
forces to intercept people-smugglers, an initiative that has sharply cut the
number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Italy. France’s Total and
Italy’s ENI both have substantial oil interests in Libya, but there are no
reports of either suffering production shortfalls as a result of the conflict.
Paris-Rome fall-out has triggered fears among some diplomats that there will be
no common front among external powers to persuade Libya’s combatants to agree a
ceasefire. The UN on Wednesday postponed planned Libya peace talks, the
National Conference, which had been scheduled for April 14. The UN insists it
will hold the conference at a later date, but diplomats know they will need
international unity to make it succeed.
New York late on Wednesday night, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who
was visiting Libya on April 4 when the fighting first broke out, repeated calls
said his appeals while he was in Libya for a ceasefire had failed. “It is
obvious that my appeal for an offensive not to take place and for the
hostilities to stop was not heard,” said Mr Guterres. “We need to restart a
serious political dialogue and a serious political negotiation, but it is
obvious that that cannot take place without fully stopping hostilities.”
World Health Organisation said 56 people have died since fighting began, with
8,075 people fleeing their homes. The LNA said that in addition, 28 of its
soldiers had been killed and 92 wounded.
police have raided the offices of several non-governmental organisations,
alleging that they provided financial and propaganda support to the Palestinian
militant group Hamas, which is on the European Union's terrorism blacklist.
Minister Horst Seehofer said Germany will not allow charities to provide
support to the Gaza-based group. "Whoever supports Hamas under the guise
of humanitarian aid disregards fundamental values of our constitution and
discredits the commitment of many aid organisations," he said on
main targets of the raids, WorldWide Resistance-Help and Ansaar International,
are believed to have collected funds for the blacklisted organisation.
Dusseldorf-based Ansaar International, which has been active since 2012,
describes itself on its website as an aid organization carrying out projects
"for the good of Allah." By its own count, it has 600 members in
Germany and around 2,000 around the globe.
states it provides health services, water and sanitation, orphanages and
education in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Americas. In Gaza, it
provides emergency food aid, water, electricity and schooling.
Help claims to provide humanitarian services in Gaza and collect donations for
German police believes these claims to be a cover-up for illicit funding of
what the US, Israel and the EU consider a terrorist organisation. At least 90
properties across Germany were searched by the police as part of the crackdown.
German government has been a strong supporter of Israel and often underlines
its “special responsibility” for the Israeli state due to the Holocaust, which
killed six million Jews.
which has an armed and a political wing, took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007
after defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party in Palestinian elections.
hints at bar on banned outfits’ leaders from contesting polls
Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi has hinted at developing an
effective mechanism to bar leaders of proscribed organisations from taking part
has been happening in the past will not be allowed to continue,” he said on
Thursday while talking to reporters after addressing the closing ceremony of a
spring festival at the Kohat garrison.
was responding to a query about whether a mechanism was being evolved to
prevent leaders of banned outfits from taking part in electoral politics and to
stop fourth schedulers from travelling for Haj and Umrah.
schedulers are individuals who are members of proscribed organisations and have
been placed on the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
minister reiterated that the ongoing crackdown against outlawed organisations
had not been initiated under any external pressure. He said the government was
committed to transforming Pakistan so that nobody could point a finger at it.
government has taken over all religious seminaries, ambulances, dispensaries,
hospitals and other assets linked to the proscribed organisations. The
government has also released funds to run these assets,” he added.
to a report to be submitted by Pakistan to the Financial Action Task Force
(FATF) next week, he ruled out the possibility of Pakistan’s placement on
FATF’s black list.
minister said in its last report submitted to the FATF, the federal government
had pleaded its case in such a professional manner that all member states
except India had lauded Pakistan’s efforts, noting a reasonable improvement.
Afridi said in the past, whenever the FATF delegation arrived in the country,
Pakistan’s case was weak because all state institutions were sending different
vibes. However, this is not the case now, he added.
minister said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other agencies had
taken exemplary measures to curb human trafficking and money laundering.
“Airport Security Force, Customs, FIA, Coast Guards, Rangers, FCs and Army have
created effective set-ups to curb illegal movement of money, humans and drugs.
are erecting fences along borders with our neighbouring countries. Our message
to the world is that Pakistan won’t allow its soil to be used against any
country. Both prime minister and army chief are monitoring these operations,”
he said. He also hoped for early signing of extradition treaties with the UK
ambassadors’ of Pakistan
also described the holding of the spring festival in Kohat as a significant
development, as previously the area had been a hot spot for militancy. He
pointed out that the event had been attended by over a dozen foreign diplomats.
these diplomats will act as peace ambassadors on behalf of Pakistan telling the
world about peace and development taking place in this part of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa which was previously known as threat to world peace,” said the
said the path towards peace was not easy and Pakistan had to pay a heavy price.
Mr Afridi said thousands of Pakistanis from civil and military backgrounds have
laid down their lives to defeat the scourge of terrorism and now the world
needs to honour their sacrifices.
achieving durable peace, the development process has started. By launching deep
institutional reforms and a vibrant visa regime, we have opened Pakistan to the
world. Now investors and tourists are welcome and all state institutions are
standing ready and united to welcome investors who would enjoy maximum profits
in Pakistan. We have rich reserves of oil, gas and minerals. We have a lot to
offer to the world. Just come and explore Pakistan,” the minister said.
Law enforcement and the judiciary need to be sensitised and society’s mindset
needs to be changed towards gender-based violence, Minister for Human Rights Dr
Shireen Mazari said on Thursday.
a seminar, she said the government is committed to ensuring an equal
environment for all and to ending gender-based violence.
said that in addition to effective implementation of existing laws, new
legislation to protect the rights of every citizen – women and children in
particular – from domestic violence is on the cards as well.
minister also claimed the state of human rights in Pakistan is far better than
many other countries.
Mazari was speaking at an event titled ‘Striving to Protect and Uphold Equal
Rights for All: A Public-Private Drive to End Gender Based Violence’ organised
by the Islamabad police and Rozan.
of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi was also present.
seminar aimed to generate discourse on action required to end gender-based
violence and to share steps taken by the police to deal with the issue.
Mazari told participants that the government is committed to providing all
possible support to survivors of violence.
implementing laws, there is a need to change the society’s mindset to end the
gender based violence. Our ministry is working on creating awareness about the
laws, especially for sensitization of public,” she said.
said gender-based violence in a central issue and needs to be tackled as a
priority. She added that increasing violence against marginalised groups
requires a sensitised and professional police force, and praised the Islamabad
police for professionalism and for their performance.
said the police perform their duties for the public’s safety and security and
urged people to respect them.
Mazari said minorities are being given their own personal laws, saying that the
Hindu divorce and marriage law already exists and a Christian divorce bill will
be presented in parliament soon.
added that steps are being taken for the welfare of the transgender community
and to ensure the implementation of the transgender law.
separate ward has been set up for transgender patients at the Pakistan
Institute of Medical Sciences, she said, and they are receiving treatment free
of charge and without any inconvenience.
Pakistan government would file fresh corruption cases against jailed former
prime minister Nawaz Sharif's family members after proof of money laundering
was found against them, according to media reports.
Minister Imran Khan gave approval of filing cases against the Sharifs during a
parliamentary meeting here on Wednesday.
federal and provincial departments have collected data regarding the alleged
corruption by the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party,
is the (PML-N) supremo, while his brother Shehbaz is the party's president.
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed three corruption cases against
Sharif on the orders of the Supreme Court following the publication of the Panama
his daughter and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar were granted bail
in September last year in the Avenfield properties case that involved buying of
four luxury flats in London through fraudulent means.
was acquitted in December last year in the Flagship Investments corruption case
in the high-profile Panama Papers scandal.
least 16 people were killed and over two dozen others injured in a blast
believed to be targeting members of the Hazara community in Quetta's Hazarganji
area on Friday morning.
Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema confirmed the death toll and told
DawnNewsTV that the blast was targeting members of the Hazara community.
of those killed were Hazara, while at least one Frontier Corps soldier was
martyred in the attack, DIG Cheema said. Others who lost their lives in the
attack were shopkeepers, businessmen and citizens in the area.
wounded were shifted to Bolan Medical Complex for medical treatment.
a repeat target
Hazarganji area in Quetta has been targeted by such attacks in the past. Hazara
shopkeepers are known to purchase vegetables and fruits at the bazaar and sell
them at their own shops. They are to be provided security escorts to and from
Hazarganji since they are constantly under threat of attack.
Cheema, while speaking to DawnNewsTV, explained that "people from the
Hazara community come here daily in convoy form from Hazara Town to buy
vegetables. They are escorted by police and FC, and then they return there. It
was the same today," he said.
were 11 cars and 55 people. Police and FC were in front of them and behind
them. They brought them to Hazarganji. When they entered sabzi mandi, the
police expanded their perimeter to the gates so that no one could enter, while
the FC took their positions," he continued.
7:30am, they were loading at a shop during which the blast happened."
security forces are here, police are here. What more can we do? We secure them
and travel back and forth with them. But if something is hidden in a shop, then
shopkeepers will need to be probed."
explained that the last time there had been an attack in the area, he had
written to the administration and asked them to keep the area clean so that
there weren't any hiding places for bombs. He added that the Safe City project
for Quetta had also run into some delays, so there was a shortage of CCTV
cameras in the area.
PM condemn attack
Chief Minister Jam Kamal strongly condemned the attack. He assured that the
elements involved in the attack and their heads would be proceeded against and
directed the provision of the best medical treatment to those wounded.
who have an extremist mindset are a menace to society," the chief minister
asserted. "We must foil the conspiracy to disrupt peace."
Minister Imran Khan also condemned the blast and sought an inquiry report into
the attack, Radio Pakistan reported.
are disproportionately targeted by sectarian violence as they are easily
identifiable due to their distinctive physical appearance. Nearly half a
million Hazaras have settled here since fleeing Afghanistan to escape violence
in their homeland during the past four decades.
report released by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) last year
stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in
various incidents of terrorism in Quetta from January 2012 to Dec 2017.
official Fazeela Alyani had earlier said that all these lives were lost in
Quetta. According to the NCHR, targeted killings, suicide attacks, and bomb
blasts have inflicted harm to daily life, education, and business activities of
ethnic Hazara community members in Balochistan's largest city.
had also explained that the fear and intimidation forced Hazaras to migrate to
foreign countries, while target killings forced Hazara students to abandon
has seen at least three others blasts in different areas over the last month,
with varying targets.
policemen were targeted in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in
Quetta, while an IED blast targeting a passenger train in Balochistan's Dera
Murad Jamali killed four people.
least two people were killed and 11 others injured in a bomb blast in a Panjgur
Defence Minister of Tajikistan General Sherali Mirzo on Thursday called on
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and expressed his
appreciation for Pakistan Army’s efforts towards regional stability, said a
statement released by the military’s media wing.
Tajik defence minister also praised the army’s professionalism as both senior
defense officials discussed the regional security situation and matters of
mutual interest including enhancement of bilateral defence and security
said that Tajikistan is a brotherly country and cooperation between both
countries will help improve peace and stability in the region, added the ISPR
will not be a part of the upcoming round of peace talks between Taliban and the
United States in Doha this month, the Foreign Office said on Thursday.
has always supported peace talks in the past and believes that an Afghan-led,
Afghan-owned government is the only solution to the Afghan issue,” Foreign
Office spokesperson Dr Faisal told a weekly press briefing in Islamabad. He
said Islamabad will continue to play its facilitative role for durable peace in
Afghanistan. “Dialogue is a good way of resolving all outstanding conflicts,”
spokesperson said Pakistan is still waiting for an actionable intelligence from
the Indian side regarding Pulwama incident that took place in February in
Indian-held Kashmir. He said a set of questions regarding the Pulwama incident
has been handed over to the Indian high commission earlier in the day and their
response is awaited.
Faisal confirmed that Pakistan has effective intelligence about Indian likely
attack in mid-April that is why it was stated by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood
Qureshi publicly. “Pakistan retaliated Indian aggression with its own strength
and without involving any other force on Pulwama incident and any future
threats from India will be dealt with the same intensity by Pakistan,” he
Faisal said Pakistan doesn’t want to affect Indian general election in any
sense. “India has always been reluctant to come to the dialogue table because
of the reasons only known to Indian side,” he added.
spokesperson said Pakistan has repeatedly raised Kashmir issue on every
international forum including the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). “We
impressed upon the international community to urge India, by all means
possible, to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IHK and seek their
help in resolving the Jammu & Kashmir dispute,” he added.
another question, he said that the status of the occupied valley under Article
370 of the Indian constitution can’t be tempered with as Kashmir is a disputed
territory between India and Pakistan.
said Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting Iran soon to discuss bilateral
relations with the Iranian leadership.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Thursday told the Senate Standing
Committee on Foreign Affairs that Pakistan is following the policy of
de-escalation while at the same time, it stands vigilant to any possible
aggression from the Indian side.
committee was told in a chronological order how the incident and India’s
immediate allegation on Pakistan was dealt with by the Foreign Office. The
foreign minister observed that the world has now seen the reality of Indian
claims of killing 300 terrorists and shooting down our F-16 jet.
questions regarding release of Abhinandan and the claims of a second pilot,
Qureshi said there should be no misconception about who decided the release of
the Indian pilot as it was the prime minister’s decision himself. He said the
initial reports of a second pilot were not true. “Pakistan captured only one
Indian pilot, and speculations in the media about capture of an Israeli pilot
are fake,” he maintained.
also told the committee that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement
regarding the outcome of the ongoing elections in India was ‘taken out of
committee unanimously passed a resolution regarding the proposed amendments in
Indian constitution aimed at changing the demographics of the Indian-held
committee also discussed matters of providing relief to Pakistani people in
jails in UAE and other countries. The committee referred the matters of
disrespectful behaviour with members of parliament to the privileges committee
and at the same time asked the Foreign Office to draft standard operating
procedures for dealing with international visits.
agriculture minister, settlers storm al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied
Israeli minister of agriculture and rural development, Uri Ariel, together with
a group of extremist settlers, has stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the
occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds amid an escalation of violence by
Israeli forces and settlers against Palestinian people.
al-Dibs, spokesperson of the Islamic Waqf (Endowment) organization, which
manages the compound’s affairs, said the 66-year-old right-wing politician and
a number of settlers forced their way into the holy site through the Moroccan
Gate under tight protection of several groups of Israeli soldiers and special
pointed out that Israeli security forces escorted Ariel and the settlers as
they toured the compound.
July 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to allow Israeli
lawmakers, or Knesset members, to visit the compound once every three months
and announced that ministers could also go to the site. A restriction of access
to the site had been imposed since October 2015 in the wake of tensions in the
number of Israeli lawmakers who have stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound has
increased in the past few months since Netanyahu’s announcement.
of the Knesset members are right-wing extremists, who support the demolition of
the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead.
al-Aqsa Mosque compound sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both
the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque.
have repeatedly warned of Israeli attempts to change the status quo of the
al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam.
occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since US
President Donald Trump announced his decision on December 6, 2017 to recognize
Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel
from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
December 21, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in
favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial
recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”
an attempt to prevent the passing of the resolution, Trump threatened reprisals
against countries that backed the measure, which had earlier faced a US veto at
the UN Security Council.
however, rejected the world body’s resolution while thanking Trump for his
decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds.
has greeted with optimism reports that Egypt has refused to join a US-led
initiative for formation of a NATO-like Arab alliance primarily focusing on
opposing the Islamic Republic.
is one of the important and powerful countries of the Arab and Muslim world,
which can play a notable role in creation of peace, stability, and security in
the West Asia region,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on
added that the Iranian Foreign Ministry is examining the credibility of reports
about withdrawal of Egypt from the so-called Arab NATO meeting, and would
welcome them if verified.
in the day, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Cairo had
informed the United States and other participants in the proposed Middle East
Strategic Alliance (MESA) of its plan for the withdrawal.
Arab source stressed that Egypt had pulled out of the so-called “Arab
NATO" because of its doubts about the seriousness of the proposal as well
as fears that such an Arab front would increase tensions with Tehran.
two other sources emphasized that the remaining MESA members were moving ahead
with the initiative and would press Egypt diplomatically to revoke its
all want them back,” said one of the sources. The Arab source, however, said
Cairo could not be convinced to return.
Egyptian embassy in Washington and the White House did not respond immediately
to requests for comment.
move could be seen as a blow to US President Donald Trump administration’s
anti-Iran strategy, analysts say.
in his remarks, Qassemi said, “Egypt can play an effective and proper role in
[contributing to] convergence and unity in the Muslim world through realism and
understanding the sensitive situation of the present time.”
finally expressed hope that as an “undeniable Arab power,” the North African
country strives to perform “its historical responsibility on a realistic and
rightful path” at the current critical juncture.
a veiled warning to the US, President Barham Salih of Iraq says his country's
soil will not be a "starting point" for any action against its
neighbors, two days after Washington blacklisted an elite Iranian military
force, which greatly contributed to the collapse of the Takfiri Daesh terror
group in the Arab country.
made the remarks in a meeting on Thursday with Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj
Masjedi in Baghdad, where the two sides exchanged views on bilateral ties and
other issues of mutual interest, according to a statement by Iraq's
the talks, Salih praised Iran for backing Iraqi armed forces in their
counter-terrorism battles, which led to the fall of Daesh in the Arab country
in late 2017.
Iraqi president also "stressed that Iraq would not accept to be a starting
point for any action that would harm its neighbors or strain the regional
situation," underlining the need for mitigating tensions in the
further expressed "Iraq’s keenness to be an arena for convergence of
interests of the countries and peoples of the region."
Iranian envoy, in turn, said the Islamic Republic wants close Tehran-Baghdad
cooperation and continues to stand by the Iraqi nation in all arenas, according
to the statement.
also briefed Salih on US President Donald Trump's hostile decision on April 8
to label Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a "foreign
a swift tit-for-tat move, Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC)
slammed the US government as supporter of terrorism, and designated American
forces in West Asia, known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), as a
unprecedented move sparked criticism from several countries around the world,
which say blacklisting another country's military runs counter to international
regulations and could lead to further instability in the restive Middle East
region. Inside Iraq, a number of political factions as well as the Popular
Mobilization Forces, which had received advisory assistance from Iran's IRGC in
the course of their fight against Daesh, denounced the designation.
to talks with Masjedi, Salih had sat down with Kenneth McKenzie, CENTCOM's
commander, at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad on Wednesday, where he called
for efforts to reduce tensions in the region.
advisors with the IRGC's Quds Force -- led by Major General Qassem Soleimani --
rushed to the help of Iraqi army forces and allied volunteer fighters at
Baghdad's request in 2014, when Daesh first unleashed its campaign of terror in
the Arab country and made sweeping territorial gains there.
by Iran, Iraqi forces managed to undo Daesh's gains and liberate the entire
country from the clutches of the world's most notorious terror group three
al-Ameri, the head of Iraq’s Badr Organization -- a part of the Popular
Mobilization Forces -- once credited Tehran and Soleimani with saving the
Baghdad government when Daesh emerged in Iraq.
had delivered similar warnings to the US earlier this year after Trump angered
Iraqis by announcing that American forces must remain in Iraq despite the
defeat of Daesh so Washington can keep a close eye on Iran.
'told of Iran's expectation from friends'
Salih, Masjedi also met with Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq
Ammar Hakim and ex-president Fuad Masum.
on his discussions with Iraqi officials on Thursday, Masjedi told reporters
that he took the opportunity to convey Tehran's stance on Washington's
"unwise" and "stupid" move against the IRGC.
is "surprised that the fate of a country like the United States has fallen
into the hands of an individual who is committed to no policies or
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to form a right-wing governing
coalition on Thursday after securing victory in a high-stakes Israeli election
despite a strong challenge from a centrist alliance.
results from Tuesday’s vote came despite corruption allegations against the
69-year-old premier and kept him on course to become Israel’s longest-serving
prime minister later this year.
allegations are likely to play an important role in coalition negotiations as
many analysts expect Netanyahu to demand pledges from potential partners to
agree to remain in his government if he is indicted.
will rely in part on politicians of the nationalist right opposed to a
Palestinian state to put together his government.
current government is already seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history,
and his next is expected to be similar if not even further to the right.
himself, in a campaign pledge just three days before polling day, pledged to
begin annexing settlements in the occupied West Bank.
sovereignty in the West Bank on a large scale could effectively end remaining
hopes for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
pledge was widely seen as an appeal to the far right, and it appears to have
worked: He boosted the number of parliamentary seats for his Likud, while
smaller, far-right parties struggled.
Likud said late on Wednesday that Netanyahu “will form a right-wing government
and he is already in advanced negotiations with the national camp partners.”
the campaign, Netanyahu highlighted his bond with US President Donald Trump,
who has swung US policy sharply in Israel’s favor and openly backed the prime
Wednesday, Trump said the incumbent’s election to a fifth term gives the White
House’s long-awaited peace plan, expected to be released in the coming weeks, a
was not clear what he meant.
also tweeted a picture of a Netanyahu supporter waving a Trump flag and
telephoned the premier to offer congratulations.
election was seen as a referendum on the veteran prime minister, who has built
a reputation as guarantor of Israel’s security and economic growth, but whose
divisive right-wing populism and alleged corruption led to calls for change.
results reflected his deft political skills, Israel’s shift to the right and
wide satisfaction with Netanyahu’s achievements, but also the fact that many
voters are fed up with him.
new centrist Blue and White alliance put together by ex-military chief Benny
Gantz will finish with a similar number of seats to the Likud even though it
came together less than two months before the polls.
alliance, which conceded defeat on Wednesday night, however could not peel away
enough right-wing votes to unseat Netanyahu.
results showed that the Likud together with other right-wing parties allied to
the prime minister would hold around 65 seats in the 120-seat parliament.
official results are expected to be announced by Friday.
leave President Reuven Rivlin, who must ask one of the candidates to form a
government, with little choice but to pick Netanyahu.
coalition negotiations could drag on for days or even weeks.
said he would begin consultations with party leaders next week ahead of making
office said the consultations would be broadcast live in their entirety for the
a 59-year-old former paratrooper, mounted a strong challenge by brandishing his
security credentials while pledging to undo damage he says Netanyahu has
inflicted on the country with divisive politics.
respect the decision of the people,” Gantz said on Wednesday night.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who co-led Blue and White, vowed to “make life
bitter for the Netanyahu government.”
close race between the two main parties had led to uncertainty after polls
closed Tuesday night and exit surveys were released.
Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory after the initial exit polls, though even
then it appeared Netanyahu was best placed to form a coalition.
in the early hours of Wednesday at the Likud’s post-election party in Tel Aviv,
Netanyahu called it a “magnificent victory.”
vote had been expected to be close as Netanyahu faced potential corruption
for his political life, he spent the weeks ahead of the vote campaigning
furiously to energise his right-wing base.
has been premier for a total of more than 13 years, but now faces the prospect
of becoming the first sitting prime minister to be indicted.
Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party on Thursday hit out at electoral authorities
for blocking some of its successful candidates from taking office after a March
31 local vote.
Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) on Wednesday ordered that individuals sacked by
an emergency decree during purges after a 2016 failed coup could not take up
their posts despite being elected, DHA news agency reported.
candidate who came second would be able to serve in the post instead, DHA said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has often accused the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic
Party (HDP) of ties with PKK Kurdish militants, a charge the party denies.
HDP said the YSK decision affects many candidates who had already been
authorized to stand in the ballot by the same electoral council.
step taken by the YSK is part of a deliberate political conspiracy, nothing
else” by the ruling AKP and its coalition nationalist MHP partner, HDP
spokesman Saruhan Oluc told reporters in Ankara.
HDP cannot challenge the YSK’s move or even take the council to court, Oluc
said, but urged the YSK to reverse the decision.
respect to the people’s will,” he said.
of HDP members and around 40 of its mayors are currently in detention, accused
by authorities of ties to PKK militants who are fighting a decades-long
insurgency in Turkey.
HDP official who asked not to be identified told AFP that eight of the party’s
candidates elected in the Kurdish-majority southeast were affected by YSK’s
of those was the HDP candidate for the Baglar district of Diyarbakir, who won
with more than 70 percent of the vote.
candidate who came second was from Erdogan’s AKP, with 25 percent. In most of
the areas affected, the second candidate is from the AKP.
than 140,000 people were sacked or suspended from the civil service or public
institutions after the 2016 failed overthrow of Erdogan, blamed by Turkey on
US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies Ankara’s accusations.
majority of those sacked including teachers are accused of links to Gulen but
several thousand are suspected of Kurdish militant links.
the failed coup, the government installed local administrators to replace 95 of
the 102 municipalities held by pro-Kurdish mayors elected in 2014.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey — which has a predominantly Kurdish
base and has suffered heavy government oppression since 2015 — played a
decisive role in the government’s loss of the big cities, including the crucial
Istanbul, in the March 31 local elections. As part of its political strategy in
the country’s west, the HDP sat out the mayoral races in big cities such as
Istanbul, Izmir, Adana and the capital city of Ankara. Paradoxically, the HDP
absence from the ballots became the party’s way of proving its political
presence and weight.
HDP’s no-show in big cities aimed to precipitate the defeat of President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan’s party, but to achieve this, the HDP had to do another thing:
Get its supporters out to the polls to cast strategic votes for the Nation
Alliance, comprised of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and
the right-wing Good Party. The election results show that the party pulled it
to the vote count that emerged in Istanbul on the morning of April 1, the CHP’s
candidate for metropolitan mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, placed first with 48.8% of
the vote — or some 4,171,000 votes out of the total of 8,860,000 valid votes.
He had a lead of some 21,000 votes over Binali Yildirim of the Justice and
Development Party (AKP), who got some 4,149,000 votes or 48.55%.
number and share of Imamoglu’s votes correspond to the combined totals the CHP,
the Good Party and the HDP mustered in Istanbul in the parliamentary elections
nine months ago. The three parties collected 46% of the vote — or some
4,340,000 votes out of the total of 9,438,000 valid votes in the June 24 polls.
In terms of shares, the CHP had 26% and the Good Party 7.8%. The HDP’s share
was 12%, corresponding to some 1,146,000 votes.
to last year’s elections, the Good Party contested the local polls under the
umbrella of the Nation Alliance. It forfeited fielding a mayoral candidate in
Istanbul to help the CHP, the senior partner of the alliance, win. Therefore,
one could easily observe that the only factor that changed the situation for
the three parties this time and made Imamoglu win was the HDP sitting out the
race and managing to mobilize its voters to back the CHP candidate.
major driver behind the Kurdish turnout that tipped the balance against the AKP
was the HDP’s former co-chair, Selahattin Demirtas, who remains highly
influential despite being behind bars for two and a half years now. In a
Twitter message sent via visitors March 29, Demirtas appealed to HDP supporters
to vote strategically. “You are the direct kingmakers of these elections,” he
said. He added, “We have a historic opportunity at hand to show our decisive
clout not only in the [southeastern] cities that we shall take back from the
trustees but all around the country. The strategic votes we cast in the cities
where we have not nominated candidates will demonstrate our strength.”
trustees Demirtas referred to were another key factor that drove HDP voters to
the polls to punish the government. During the state of emergency that followed
the 2016 coup attempt, Ankara appointed trustees to 94 local administrations in
the country’s east and southeast, removing their Kurdish mayors — elected on
the ticket of what was then the Peace and Democracy Party — over alleged links
to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a designated terrorist group. The
municipalities of 10 provincial capitals, including three metropolitan ones,
were among the seized administrations.
of the ousted mayors, all of whom had headed local administrations in
provincial capitals, districts and smaller localities, ended up in jail on the
same terror-related charges. As of December, 50 of them remained in prison. The
emergency rule saw the arrest also of thousands of HDP members as well as 16
HDP lawmakers, nine of whom are still behind bars.
sum, a deep sense of victimization spurred HDP voters as they went to the polls
in the municipal elections. The HDP won the local administrations in 50 of the
73 provincial capitals and districts that had been handed over to trustees. The
others were taken by the AKP, barring Tunceli, where the Communist Party’s
Fatih Mehmet Macoglu clinched the victory.
March 31 polls marked a significant power loss for Erdogan in big cities as a
result of the concord among opposition voters, in which the HDP’s political
initiative was highly influential. The government failed to escape this
critical blow despite its high-pitch campaign rhetoric repeated day after the
day by its members and media that the Nation Alliance was hand in hand with the
PKK. This was due to two main reasons.
the issue of terrorism had fallen to the bottom of Turkey’s agenda in 2018 as a
result of a lull in PKK activities since 2017. While the PKK and terrorism
dwindled on the public’s problem-perception radar, mounting unemployment and
soaring prices — the result of a bruising economic crisis — climbed to the top
of concerns, outstripping other issues by far.
things going upside down like this, the government’s propaganda that the
opposition was collaborating with terrorists had little effect. By failing to
create a perception of threat, the government failed to convince its
disgruntled voters to go to the polls and dissuade right-wing opposition voters
from backing CHP candidates. Its narrative that the elections were “a matter of
survival” proved a flop.
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