Whistle-Blower Reveals MbS' Plots against Father
Whistle-Blower Reveals MbS' Plots against Father, the Saudi King
Subcontinent Religious Leaders Hail Pope Francis and Shaikh Al Azhar Meeting
Lawmaker from Far-Right Dutch Party PVV Becomes Muslim After Writing Anti-Islam
Mosque Desecrated In Apparent Hate Crime in West Bank
Muslims Hold 'Unity Walks' In Wake Of Attacks
Terrorists 'Neutralized' In Burkina Faso
Imam of Al Azhar Calls for Religious Leaders to Set an Example of Peace
Francis makes history with Muslim dialogue in UAE
1,100 Truckload of Military Equipment Sent to Eastern Euphrates since US
New Lebanese govt. not controlled by Hezbollah, belongs to all factions
Francis brings a message of love to UAE
in UAE: Religious leaders commit to fighting Islamophobia
Francis meets Muslim leaders in Abu Dhabi on historic UAE visit
Francis and Al-Azhar’s Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb sign declaration of fraternity in
Pope Visit overcomes the challenge posed by extremism in all religions
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Hind to introduce course for brides and bridegrooms
Muslim minority complain of ‘marginalization’ in Komotini
Jewish College Presidents Focus on Common Goals with Christian Educators
church cancels anti-Israel film event under ‘pressure from powerful Jews’
issues stark warning to Iran on missiles and human rights
left-wing party refuses to participate in new government
triumphant return and Islamic Revolution
says Turkey has maintained contacts with Damascus
president: Trump did not ask for permission to ‘watch Iran’
forces shoot Palestinian boy in head with live round
of Palestine: Orphaned kids condemn Israel's 12-year siege of Gaza
Houthi militia using human shields
army liberate an important mountain chain in Kitaf, Saada province
In Rohingya Camps Feared Rising As Crisis Rolls On
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Hindu man's daughter forced to join Islamic Studies class
Troops Battle Muslim Militants after Church Blast
port boss killed, car bomb leaves 11 dead
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Senate Breaks With Trump over Syria, Afghanistan Withdrawal Plans
patrol group in New York faces backlash including far-right conspiracy theories
transferring US weapons to Qaeda in Yemen, report reveals
Trump’s Syria withdrawal plans loom large over anti-ISIS coalition meeting
Says Rejected Review Plea in Aasia Bibi Case Due To Contradictions in Evidence,
extends Khadim Rizvi, TLP leaders' judicial remand until Feb 8
for improved coordination between Centre, provinces
negotiating from position of strength, says Ahmed Rashid
to announce verdict in Faizabad sit-in case on Wednesday
of Foreign Forces ‘Not the End of the World’ For Afghanistan: Abdullah
Peace Talks: Revisiting the Indian and Pakistani Stakes In Afghanistan
sees Taliban-Afghan opposition talks in Moscow as betrayal
Rector Boosts Pilgrimage at Bangladeshi Catholic Shrine
than 10 Taliban, ISIS-K militants killed in Afghan, Coalition Forces operations
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Whistle-Blower Reveals MbS' Plots against Father, the Saudi King
(bin Salman) has made his father busy with gambling and debauchery and has
ordered his medical team to increase dozes of King Salman's drugs so that he
can ascend to the throne after his father's death due to overdose of medicine,"
Mujtahid wrote on his twitter page on Monday.
whistle-blower added that he will inform people of the Saudi king's health
conditions as promised before.
Saudi dissident figure had also last year revealed plots by the MbS to oust his
father from ruling Saudi Arabia.
Salman intends to treat his father the same way he did in the case of former
crown prince and his cousin Mohamed bin Nayef," Sultan al-Abdoli al-Qamedi
added that King Salman had grown weak and incapable of resisting against his
son's plans to take control of the royal palace and change the old guards.
Salman will not wait for his father to resign and will make him leave power
anytime that he thinks is proper," al-Qamedi said.
in 2018, sources close to the Saudi royal palace had revealed that the Saudi
king had said in a private gathering that he did not feel any necessity for
transition of power to the crown prince as he was still able to fulfill his
added that the medical tests had, meantime, diagnosed King Salman with severe
fatigue and respiratory problems.
subcontinent religious leaders hail Pope Francis and Shaikh Al Azhar meeting
Dhabi: Religious leaders from the Indian subcontinent have said that the Global
Conference of Human Fraternity is a big success in bringing all religions
together at a single platform and that it will relay “a good message” to the
world against extremism and terrorism.
His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, is here and Islamic
scholars are also here, this will give a message to the whole world that
religions do not have any link with terrorism and extremism,” Allama Mohammad
Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, told the Emirates News
Agency, WAM, in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.
described the conference as a big success because it has brought together
Muslims and Christians religious leaders from all over the world to show to the
world that “we are united against extremism and terrorism.”
must open the dialogue among the religions,” he added, saying that Islam is a
religion of peace, love and brotherhood. Quoting a verse (Aya) from the Quran’s
chapter 109, which reads: “To you your religion and to me mine”, he added “come
sit together and make efforts for mankind”.
two-day conference at Emirates Palace has brought together more than 600
religious figures from across the world, to discuss and promote tolerance and
world needs clean water, education, children are suffering from malnutrition
and there are health issues as well,” Ashrafi pointed out, adding, “we must be
united and make efforts to serve the humanity.”
think the big terrorism is when anyone uses the name of Islam,” he explained.
he added, does not belong to any religion.
also spoke about the role of media in this context, saying that today it is
very important that all religious leaders should come out and tell the real
message, which he said is that of peaceful coexistence. He quoted an example
when the Prophet Mohammed gave a place to Christians to worship in the
Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. “This,” he said, “ is the real message from Islam.”
said that the teachings of Islam advocate a dialogue with others for the cause
of humanity, describing the conference as an excellent forum for holding
inter-faith dialogue. The governments in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have devoted
a lot of effort to encouraging peace and dialogue, he said, as well as Egypt’s
Al Azhar Al Sharif and the Pakistan Ulema Council.
said that his message to the Pontiff is “come together to serve the humanity,
so we relay a message to the whole world, that as a Muslim we respect all
Prophets, all religious books, and holy things.”
Abubakr Ahmad, general secretary of the Muslim Scholars Organisation of India
and president of the Islamic Education Board of India, told WAM that the
meeting between Pope Francis and Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar
Al Sharif, at the invitation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al
Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed
Forces, and gathering of religious leaders, would be successful and would yield
said that the conference has brought together different religions to have a
dialogue and reject conflict as “confrontation does not lead to any good”.
lawmaker from far-right Dutch party PVV becomes Muslim after writing anti-Islam
former far-right Dutch politician announced on Monday that he has converted to
a book on Islam changed the views of Joram van Klaveren, 39, on the religion,
and he converted last October, local media reported.
Klaveren served as a member of parliament for the far-right and anti-Muslim
Freedom Party (PVV) from 2010 to 2014.
resigned after PVV leader Geert Wilders' racist remarks about Moroccans and set
up his own party, but failed to win a seat in the 2017 national elections, and
Klaveren's about-face follows in the footsteps of Arnoud Van Doorn, another
former PVV member who converted to Islam.
Doorn praised van Klaveren on Twitter, saying he never thought that he would
see so many converts from his former party.
mosque desecrated in apparent hate crime in West Bank
extremist Jewish settlers have desecrated a mosque in the central part of the
occupied West Bank, spraying racist slogans and Hebrew graffiti messages on the
walls of the sacred place.
Mansour, the mayor of the city of Dayr Dibwan, located east of Ramallah, told
Palestine’s official WAFA news agency that settlers stormed the city early on
Monday, and spray-painted anti-Palestinian slogans on the walls and asphalt of
the mosque and several vehicles there.
the slogans spray-painted on the walls of the mosque were “Here people incite
to murder Jews” and “The Jewish nation lives.”
sources also reported that settlers poured flammable material on the shoe rack
placed at the entrance of the mosque, but apparently didn’t light it.
Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Youssef Idais denounced the act, saying,
“There are no longer safe places of worship in light of Israeli forces’ and
settlers’ attacks and crimes [against Palestinian people].”
racist attack is a new [act of] provocation added to the list of Israeli crimes
against the holy sites,” he added.
highlighted that Israeli violations and attacks against places of worship,
including their closure, and Tel Aviv’s prohibition of the Muslim call to
prayer attest to the magnitude of barbarism being enforced by the Israeli
then urged Arab and Muslim countries in addition to the international community
to intervene and protect holy places in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Tuesday, Israeli police opened an investigation after eight cars were
vandalized overnight in the northern West Bank Palestinian village of Lubban
said Israeli settlers raided the village, slashing the tires of
Palestinian-owned vehicles and spray-painting Hebrew slogans on them, in
another “price tag” attack.
so-called price tag attacks are acts of vandalism and violence against
Palestinians and their property as well as Muslim holy sites by Israeli
than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s
occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank in 1967. This is
while much of the international community considers the settler units illegal
and subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied
Muslims hold 'unity walks' in wake of attacks
and Muslims in the Philippines held "unity walks" to call for peace
following deadly blasts that rocked the south of the country last week.
Manila, hundreds of people gathered for a prayer rally on Feb. 3 to show
"the world that Filipino Muslims and Christians are one."
condemned the bombing of a Catholic cathedral in Jolo province that killed at
least 22 people on Jan. 27 and a grenade explosion in a mosque in Zamboanga
City that killed two on Jan. 30.
Mindanao, an interfaith prayer rally was also held in Cagayan de Oro City on
Feb. 2 to mark the start of the observance of "World Interfaith Harmony
Rey Monsanto admitted that there was "a sense of fear" among Catholic
clergy in Mindanao and that the bomb explosions in Jolo and Zamboanga could
spark further violence.
are worried that Christians and Muslims will begin blaming each other,"
said the priest, adding that they might use religion as an excuse to wage war.
Masorong, director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said the
violence "has caused harm to the entire nation in a divisive effort to
further widen the gap between Muslims and Christians."
Mohammad, a Muslim religious leader in Cagayan de Oro, however, said the
violence "will not break the spirit of the long-standing
relationship" among Mindanao’s peoples.
Zamboanga City, Muslim religious leaders appealed for calm, saying any attack
on a place of worship "can never be justified by rhyme or reason."
Manila, Monsignor Albert Songco, vicar-general of the Military Ordinariate of
the Philippines, urged people during the "unity walk" to
"activate the forces of goodness, justice, love, and peace in our
Feb. 3, prayer intentions during Sunday Masses in Manila Archdiocese included
the victims of the bombings in Jolo and Zamboanga.
the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Manila, has beefed up security
following the Jolo incident.
dogs and security personnel have been deployed to patrol the church, also known
as Quiapo Church, and the surrounding area.
Archdiocese of Davao earlier prohibited backpacks and boxes inside churches as
a security measure.
terrorists 'neutralized' in Burkina Faso
forces in Burkina Faso have "neutralized" 146 terrorists in land and air
operations in the country’s northwest.
a statement, the military said Monday that armed forces conducted operations in
the Boucle du Mouhoun region in response to an attack by terrorists Sunday that
killed 14 civilians.
General Staff announced that the operations will continue until the country’s
lands and the lives of its citizens are secured.
Faso has been threatened by terrorist attacks since 2015.
Dec. 27, a terrorist attack on security forces in Sourou State in northwestern
Burkina Faso left 10 gendarmes dead.
the incident, a state of emergency was declared in seven of the country’s 13
Imam of Al Azhar calls for religious leaders to set an example of peace
leaders must set an example if peace and love are to be embraced by their
followers, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar told the Global
Conference of Human Fraternity on Monday.
means confronting extremists with courage, including both those who claim to
base their actions on religious teachings and those who seek to drive faith
completely from public life, he said.
conference, at the Emirates Palace, was essential to begin opening doors that
would achieve peace, coexistence and tolerance for all people, regardless of
their faith, Dr Al Tayab said.
it was taking place in the UAE was a demonstration of the commitment of the country
and its rulers to promote what Dr Al Tayeb called the eternal values of
tolerance and coexistence.
two-day Global Conference of Human Fraternity was organised by the Muslim
Council of Elders and coincided with the visit to Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis,
the leader of the Roman Catholic faith.
its reach has gone far beyond dialogue between just Muslims and Christians.
Among those also invited to take part were Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jewish
have expressed a desire to actively work for better relations between different
religions. And many will have made new connections not just by listening to the
speeches and presentations, but also in the informal interactions over lunch or
a coffee break.
scale of their task was underlined by a survey released during the conference
that examined global attitude to religion across the West and the Middle East
several countries, especially in Europe, it showed a widespread belief that
Islam was incompatible with the values of their society.
France and Germany this represented nearly half of those polled, while in the
USA and Britain well over one in three said they agreed with the statement
that: “There is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of society in
a minority in the YouGov poll said they felt the reverse was true - that there
was no conflict with Islam.
Britain, this was one in four, while the percentage fell to just one in five in
Germany and 17 per cent in the US.
if they were worried about the rise of extremism linked to Islam, the numbers
were even higher, rising to 72 per cent in France and Germany, 66 per cent in
Britain and just over half of Americans.
a stark contrast, the numbers were more than reversed in the Middle East, where
an overwhelming majority said they did not feel Christianity posed any threat
to Islamic values.
the UAE only 13 per cent said they supported the view of a fundamental clash
with Christianity, while the number fell to just three per cent in Egypt, where
over half felt Christian and Muslim values were compatible.
concept of a “clash of civilisations” was challenged by one of the main
speakers on Monday, who said such conflicts were not based on ideas but
Bokova is the former Director General of Unesco and now honorary president of
the Alliance for Hope International, a global organisation seeking to end
violence and abuse against women and children through social change.
and prejudice were due to a lack of education rather supposed differing values,
Dr Bokova said.
added that she believed peaceful coexistence could be achieved by “dialogue and
creativity in all its forms through exploring new opportunities for creating
connections between people that we can prove that diversity is our
destruction of religious sites as the result of extremism that had been
witnessed by Unesco was a tragedy for all faiths, she said. “We all suffer. We
are all diminished.”
need understand and knowledge about each other,” Dr Bokava added. “Many of the
answers come through education. We can combat stereotypes and prejudice.”
Francis, the first leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics to visit the
Arabian Peninsula, will attend an interfaith meeting in the UAE on Monday as
part of his outreach to Muslims.
pontiff arrived in a modest black Kia at Abu Dhabi's presidential palace, where
he was welcomed with a lavish military parade.
fired 21 shots in the air, while jets flew overhead leaving white and yellow
trails -- the colours of the Vatican City flag.
pope's highly publicised 48-hour visit to the United Arab Emirates will also
include an open-air mass on Tuesday for 135,000 of the Muslim country's million
Catholic residents, set to be the largest public gathering in the country's history.
pope was expected to raise the issue of Yemen, devastated by a war in which the
UAE is a key player, in talks with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
is the scene of what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, triggered
by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies in a war between
the government and Huthi rebels.
than 10 million Yemenis now risk imminent starvation.
to welcome pope
Mohammed said on Monday that UAE rulers were "delighted" to meet the
pontiff "in our homeland of tolerance".
discussed enhancing cooperation, consolidating dialogue, tolerance, human
coexistence and important initiatives to achieve peace, stability and
development for peoples and societies," he tweeted.
Francis, who made history when he touched down in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night,
said he came "as a brother, in order to write a page of dialogue together,
and to travel paths of peace together".
mark the occasion, the pontiff offered the crown prince a framed medallion of
the meeting between St. Francis Assisi -- the pope's namesake -- and the Sultan
of Egypt Malek al-Kamel, in 1219.
Mohammed, in turn, offered a deed for the plot of land on which the first
church in the UAE was built.
pope was set to meet with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb -- imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar,
Sunni Islam's prestigious seat of learning -- later Monday.
Ahmed greeted the pope personally with an embrace on Sunday night as the
pontiff arrived in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
emirate's crown prince was also at the airport to greet the pontiff, who has
made strengthening ties between Christianity and Islam a cornerstone of his
before he flies back to Rome on Tuesday, the pope will lead a mass at a stadium
in the capital.
Pope addresses Yemen war -
UAE has dubbed 2019 its "year of tolerance", but rights groups have
criticised the country for its role in Yemen, where an estimated 10,000 people
have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance including the UAE joined the
government's fight against the Huthis in 2015.
groups, which have slammed the UAE over its intolerance of dissent, have also
urged the pope to raise the issue of Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati activist serving
a 10-year prison term.
heading to the Gulf on Sunday, Pope Francis urged warring parties in Yemen to
respect a truce agreement and allow deliveries of food aid.
population is exhausted by the lengthy conflict and a great many children are
suffering from hunger, but cannot access food depots," he said.
cry of these children and their parents rises up to God."
UAE, which prides itself on its religious diversity in the Gulf, is a member of
the US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group in both Syria and Iraq.
UAE has eight Catholic churches. Oman, Kuwait and Yemen each have four.
and Bahrain have one each, while ultra-conservative Sunni powerhouse Saudi
Arabia bans all non-Muslim places of worship.
make up nearly four fifths of the UAE's population, but the country is also
home to nearly a million Catholics, according to the Apostolic Vicariate of
London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Sunday that
despite US President Donald Trump's announcement on December 19 to evacuate
forces from Syria, the US army continues sending military convoys to Eastern
added that over 1,130 convoys, carrying military and logistic equipment have
been dispatched to the US-occupied bases in Eastern Euphrates since Trump's
a relevant development in late January, the US Army sent over 250 Military
Trucks to Raqqa, Hasaka, Aleppo to reinforce its military bases there.
SOHR reported that US military convoys comprising of 250 military trucks had
entered the provinces of Aleppo, Raqqa and Hasaka.
SOHR noted that the trucks carried ammunition and logistical supplies for the
US troops in Syria, and said that the trucks were unloaded in Ain al-Arab, Ain
al-Arab Airport, Ain Issa, Raqqa and Tal Tamr as well as several other military
bases in Raqqa, Hasaka and Aleppo.
on January 14, the SOHR had reported that a US military convoy comprising of
tens of military vehicles had arrived in Deir Ezzur province via roads linking
Eastern Euphrates in Syria to Iraq's Kurdistan Region.
on January 11, a US military convoy comprising 150 armored vehicles, military
hardware and logistics supplies entered al-Jabalieh military base in Northern
part of Raqqa city and Ain al-Arab in Aleppo countryside.
analysts believe that even if the US decision for pullout would take place it
would not mean end of Washington's presence in Syria.
say that the US failure in Syria and Iraq has made Washington to face two
options of whether to leave the region without any achievement or continue to
maintain its political and military presence in Syria through its proxies.
general of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement has strongly dismissed latest
allegations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the movement is
in control of the Lebanese government, stressing the new administration belongs
to all political factions participating in it.
Israeli premier is “provoking the United States, European countries and the
[Persian] Gulf states against the Lebanese government, claiming that it is
controlled by Hezbollah. Such false claims have serious international
repercussions,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said as he addressed his supporters via
a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital Beirut on Monday
underscored that the new Lebanese government consists of various political
parties, and that Hezbollah is just one of them.
response to certain media reports that the new health minister is a member of
Hezbollah, Nasrallah pointed out that Jamil Jabak, who is a doctor by
profession, is solely close to the resistance movement, but not a member of it.
remarks echoed that of Hezbollah’s deputy chief, Sheikh Naim Qassem, who had
said a day earlier that only three of Lebanon's new government ministers were
members of Hezbollah, adding, “We are only 10 percent [in the Lebanese
in his speech, the Hezbollah chief emphasized that the Health Ministry in the
new national unity government must strive to supply medicine and health care to
people from all walks of life.
called on the new government to be transparent, advising Lebanese politicians
to make decisions, which would best serve the interests of the Arab country and
Hezbollah secretary general also urged Lebanese political figures to stick to
political calm after the formation of the new national unity government, asking
them to resolve their differences through dialog and negotiations.
the very first moments of his elevation as spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2
billion Roman Catholics, Pope Francis has chosen to live in the footsteps of
the saint who inspired him and after whom the new pontiff took his papal name.
For Pope Francis, his leadership is based on simplicity. And his spirituality
is based on this simplicity too — we are all equal. And the essence is that we
share our love for one another in our thoughts, prayers and daily actions.
this historic visit to the UAE, that is a message that His Holiness brings. And
it is also a message shared with the Muslim Council of Elders, headed by the
Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayyeb. Both Islam and Christianity share a
common link to the sacrifice of Ebrahim, or Abraham as he is called in the
western tradition. Together, both share a common message, that respect and love
for fellowmen is pivotal, and that eternal happiness is assured by our
following this most basic tenet. Here in the UAE, much has been written about
the people from more than 200 nations that live under this green, red, black
and white tent, sharing our values of tolerance and respect for all. The
message brought by Pope Francis, and the gospel that he preaches, sit easy too
in this tent of tolerance.
he visited the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi yesterday — by its very
definition an occasion of great ceremony, honour and circumstance — Pope
Francis chose to arrive in a simple vehicle. This gesture is in keeping with
walking in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, a man who dedicated his
life to helping others, tending to the sick, feeding and clothing the poor. It
also serves to remind us all that while the material possessions of this world
are indeed to be welcomed, there is much greater work that needs to be done.
And certainly, here in the UAE, that is a message too that has been taken to
heart from the very first days that the founders of this nation laid the
foundation stones for growth. Pope Francis’ visit here is a reminder that we
all have a duty to reach out to those in need, to provide shelter and succour
for those afflicted by humanitarian crises, natural disasters or social unrest.
Dhabi: Fighting Islamophobia along with his Muslim brothers is his commitment
and responsibility, said a Jewish religious leader.
on the sidelines of the two-day Global Conference on Human Fraternity that
concluded yesterday, Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of Foundation for Ethnic
Understanding in New York told Gulf News: “As a Jewish leader, I see it as my
responsibility to the Islamic community to be at the forefront of battling
Islamophobia and any attack or form of bigotry against the Islamic faith and
Muslims. I also expect Muslim leaders to engage with their responsibilities
when it comes to speaking out against anti-Semitism and against holocaust
conference was attended by more than 700 scholars from across the globe
representing all religions to mark the historic three-day visit of the Pope to
added that the UAE’s invitation to Jewish community to the conference will help
strengthen Islam-Judaism relations. “The conference represents a benchmark in
terms of the transition of the Gulf in developing interfaith relations. There
is a tremendous momentum in interfaith dialogue as the UAE has even named 2019
as the Year of Tolerance,” he said
participation of the Jewish community in the conference is being recognised as
a faith community in the UAE and that makes him proud, said Schneier. “This
official recognition not only resonates with the Jewish community in the UAE,
it also has a great significance for the Jewish people around the world,” he
appreciated the UAE’s genuine intention to strengthen relations between Islam
and Judaism. “The conference, with the participation of so many Muslim
scholars, shows their sincere intention and the progress of interfaith dialogue
in the Islamic world today. The UAE is not simply talking but walking the talk,
and recognising the importance of connecting Islam with other faith traditions
by reaching out to them. This presents a new face of Islam to the world,”
religious scholars told Gulf News that the discussions at the conference would
lead to tangible results.
Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the World Muslim Communities Council, said he
was optimistic about participants in the conference translating the ideas of
harmony and fraternity into action in their respective communities: “We will have
so many initiatives in different parts of the world [by] taking forward the
ideas discussed here.”
Nuaimi said all religious representatives gave a loud and clear message to the
world to create a better future for all. “We all human beings are brothers and
we share so many things in common. That is the real achievement of this
conference,” Al Nuaimi said.
Amaranada, director, Vedantic Centre, Geneva, established by Rama Krishna
Order, said achieving human fraternity is not an easy task. “You may talk about
fraternity. But if you don’t have divinity in you, it is not possible.
Otherwise, it will be a mere talk.”
UAE, he said, has proved its commitment to this goal with its Ministry of
Tolerance and related initiatives.
Mohinder Singh, Director, National Institute of Sikh Studies in New Delhi, said
that when he attended an interfaith conference in Milan a decade ago, he had
commented on the absence of women in it. “Here [at this conference], there are
said the conference reinforced the message of Guru Nanak, the founder of the
Sikh religion, who said that good action is more important than carrying labels
DHABI: Pope Francis met with Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the imam of Al-Azhar, and
Emirati leaders on Monday during his historic visit to the United Arab
a trip laden with interfaith symbolism and messages of religious tolerance, the
Pope began his day at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi and ended with the
signing of an agreement pledging to make efforts to strive for peace.
day’s tour of key locations in Abu Dhabi, both religious and political, marked
the end of a two-day conference – the Human Fraternity Meeting – in which
religious leaders from many faiths, both Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic discussed
the importance of tolerance.
the end of the day - giving thanks to his hosts, Pope Francis said: “I have
welcomed the opportunity to come here as a believer thirsting for peace, as a
brother seeking peace with the brethren.
are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace.”
Francis also urged religious leaders to work together to reject war and
strongly denounced violence committed in God's name.
Human Fraternity Meeting was also attended by Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam
of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and university, and he called on Muslims in the
Middle East to "embrace" local Christian communities.
addressed Muslims saying: "Continue to embrace your brothers the Christian
citizens everywhere, for they are our partners in our nation," he said
during the televised speech from the ceremony in the United Arab Emirates
capital Abu Dhabi.
he addressed Christians saying: "You are part of this nation. You are
citizens, you are not a minority.. You are citizens with full rights and
Tayeb also called on Muslims in the west to integrate in their host nations and
respect local laws.
Francis and Sheikh Tayeb signed the Human Fraternity Document during the
ceremony, and they were presented with the inaugural Human Fraternity Award for
their efforts to spread international peace.
at the Presidential Palace he was met by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown
Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum vice president and prime minister of the
marched to the square inside the presidential palace grounds, led by a military
fly past saw jet planes leaving a trail of white and yellow smoke – the colors
of the Vatican’s flag - and in the background the thundering noise of a 21-gun
salute could be heard echoing from behind the palace buildings.
stood for the national anthems and then the Pope was introduced to members of
the UAE government.
it was the turn of members of the Vatican to shake hands with the two Emirati
leaders. The Pontiff was then taken in a simple Kia car to the Sheikh Zayed
Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi where he and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb met the Muslim
Council of Elders.
was a short visit and within an hour the convoy of Emirati and Vatican staff
and security drove to the final and most significant part of the day which was
at the Founder’s Memorial, a tribute to the UAE's founding father, Sheikh Zayed
bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Mohammed said on Monday that UAE rulers were “delighted” to meet the pontiff
“in our homeland of tolerance.”
discussed enhancing cooperation, consolidating dialogue, tolerance, human
coexistence and important initiatives to achieve peace, stability and development
for peoples and societies,” he tweeted.
Francis, who touched down in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, said he came “as a
brother, in order to write a page of dialogue together, and to travel paths of
DHABI: The first day of the historic visit by Pope Francis to the Arabian
Peninsula ended with the signing of a “Human Fraternity Document” by the leader
of the Roman Catholic Church and one of the highest authorities in Islam,
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar Mosque.
declaration of fraternity — which pledges the religious leaders to work
together in perpetuity and to reject violence and radicalism — was also signed
by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, prime minister of the UAE, which
hosted the ceremony in its capital Abu Dhabi.
pope told an audience: “Fraternity is established here at the roots of our
common humanity, as a vocation contained in God’s plan of creation.”
address centered on the themes of fraternity, education, justice, and human
development built on inclusion.
is no alternative,” he added. “We either build the future together, or there
will not be a future. Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task
of building bridges between peoples and cultures.” The speech was delivered in
Italian translated into Arabic for most in the audience.
said: “The document is historic, and it calls for policymakers to stop
bloodshed and conflict. Muslims must protect their Christian brothers. I will
work with my brother and friend Pope Francis to protect all communities.”
grand imam added: “It is encouraging to see the UAE investing in human
resources, and especially the youth. Far-sightedness and wisdom transformed the
UAE into a bright country that hosts such a meeting.”
said: “Muslims in Western countries must follow and respect the rules and regulations
of the countries in which they reside.”
Western media “exploited” the 9/11 attacks in the US “to show Islam negatively
as a bloodthirsty religion, and to show Muslims as savage barbarians who pose a
danger and threat to modern societies,” he added, quoting numerous Qur’anic
verses about the value of life.
pope aimed a slanted barb at modern economic inequality, saying: “The world’s
religions also have the task of reminding us that greed for profit renders the
heart lifeless, and that the laws of the current market, demanding everything
immediately, do not benefit encounter, dialogue and family … Religions should
be the voice of the least, who are not statistics but brothers and sisters.”
added: “Here, in the desert, a way of fruitful development has been opened
which, beginning from the creation of jobs, offers hope to many persons from a
variety of nations, cultures and beliefs.”
continued: “Religious freedom is not limited to freedom of worship, but to
others as brothers in humanity … We must have the courage to accept and
recognize freedom of the other.”
pope also held out the promise of further visits to Islamic countries, saying:
“It is in this spirit that I look forward to concrete opportunities for
meeting, not only here but in the entire beloved region, a focal point of the
Pope visit overcomes the challenge posed by extremism in all religions
Francis’ historic visit to Abu Dhabi is a significant step toward breaking the
barriers of extremism and is in line with the country’s message of promoting
co-existence and tolerance, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar
Gargash, said on Monday.
is no doubt that the visit is historic. It is his first visit to the Arabian
Peninsula. It particularly overcomes the challenge posed by extremism in all
religions, not just in a specific one,” Gargash told Al Arabiya.
head of Catholic Church and the sovereign of the Vatican, was accorded a state
welcome to the UAE at a grand ceremony organized at the Presidential Palace in
Abu Dhabi on Monday. The Pope’s visit coincides with the Year of Tolerance
being marked by the UAE in 2019.
pope’s three-day visit, which began on Sunday, has also brought Dr. Ahmad
al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar al-Sharif to the country. Gargash called
this an important event in the path of promoting interfaith dialogue.
presence of someone like Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in one
place is significant in sending out the message of interfaith dialogue, which
the UAE is eager to promote. This also marks breaking of the scourge of
extremism during the past few decades,” Gargash said.
order to compete on a global level, every country has to break the barriers of
extremism, which only divides us instead of uniting,” he said. Later on Monday,
al-Tayyeb is scheduled to take part in the International Conference for Human
Fraternity alongside Pope Francis.
conference brings together 700 multi-faith representatives from around the
world. They will visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque together and the Pontiff
and will also meet the Muslim Council of Elders.
talaq made punishable offence as practice continued, Centre tells HC
Centre has informed the Madras High Court that it was forced to promulgate an
ordinance making Talaq-e-biddat (the practice of Muslim men divorcing their
wives by pronouncing the word ‘talaq’ thrice) a criminal offence because the
practice continued unabated across the country despite the Supreme Court
holding it as unconstitutional.
a counter affidavit filed before a Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and
Subramonium Prasad, the Union Law Ministry stated that the government in its
wisdom had thought it fit to promulgate the ordinance also because the police
officers were helpless and could not initiate any punitive action whenever
victims of Talaq-e-biddat lodged complaints.
Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan submitted the counter affidavit in reply to a
public interest litigation petition filed by advocate S. Hussain Afroze who had
challenged the constitutional validity of the ordinance.
counter recalled that the Supreme Court had declared triple Talaq
unconstitutional in Shayara Bano’s case in August 2017.
the course of the hearing of the case, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board
too had assured the court that it would prescribe guidelines to be followed in
matters of divorce and urge Muslims to avoid Talaq-e-biddat. Despite such an
undertaking and court ruling against the practice, the “menace” continued to be
reported from various parts of the country.
was also reported in various news channels and dailies that even educated
persons are resorting to divorce their wives by adopting instantaneous and
irrevocable Talaq... In the absence of any punitive provisions in the extant
laws, the police were helpless and no action could be taken against the errant
husbands,” the counter read.
the victimscould seek relief under the Protection of Women from Domestic
Violence Act of 2005, “the reliefs under the said Act are ineffective against
Triple Talaq... Therefore, it is considered necessary to have a standalone
legislation and hence there is no unconstitutionality as averred by the
petitioner,” it added.
was also brought to the notice of the court that the ordinance was promulgated
even as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill of 2017 was
passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017, and was pending in the Rajya
Sabha. The Ministry also said that few other High Courts in the country had
already dismissed cases challenging the ordinance.
ASG told the court that the present writ petitioner would have to amend his
prayer since he had filed the case last year challenging the 2018 ordinance,
which the Centre replaced with a fresh ordinance on the same subject on January
News: National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday claimed to have arrested a
JeM operative for his alleged involvement in a terror attack on CRPF Group
Centre in Lethpora village in Pulwama district.
arrested JeM operative has been identified as Fayaz Ahmad Magray. “Accused
Fayaz will be produced in the Special NIA Court, Jammu, and will seek his
custody for further investigation and unearthing of the larger conspiracy,”
said NIA in a statement on Monday.
on Monday arrested accused Fayaz Ahmad Magray, son of late Jalalludin Magray,
resident of village Lethpora, Police Station Awantipora, District Pulwama,
Jammu & Kashmir, in case RC No. 10/2018/NIA/DLI (attack on CRPF Group
Centre, Lethpora),” said the investigation agency.
terrorist attack on CRPF Group Centre, Lethpora, was carried out in the
intervening night of December 30-31, 2017 by three terrorists of proscribed
terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
investigation by NIA, the three terrorists were identified as Fardeen Ahmad
Khandey, son of Ghulam Mohideen Khandey, resident of Nazeempora, Tral, Pulwama
district, Manzoor Baba, son of Ali Mohammad Baba, resident of Drubgam, Pulwama,
and a Pakistani terrorist, namely, Abdul Shakoor, resident of Rawalakot area of
the three terrorists were killed in the encounter. In this attack, five CRPF
personnel were martyred and three were grievously injured.
said that arrested accused Fayaz Ahmad Magray is an active over ground worker
(OGW) of proscribed terrorist organisation JeM. “He is a key conspirator who
provided logistical support such as providing shelter to the terrorists and
conducting reconnaissance of the CRPF Group centre, Lethpora before the
terrorist attack,” said the central agency.
they say, is a great equaliser. In downtown Srinagar’s Mazar-e-Shuhada, or the
martyrs’ graveyard, assassinated Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Farooq Shah lies
buried close to Hizbul Mujahideen’s Abdullah Bangroo, the man believed to have
plotted his murder.
their death, both Shah and Bangroo have been declared martyrs. The lines
between the conspirator and his victim blur in this graveyard, illustrating the
contradictions in the Kashmiri separatist movement.
killing of Shah at the hands of his own is an open secret most in the Valley
dare not talk about, not even his son and the current Mirwaiz, Umar Farooq, who
inherited his father’s title as well as his politics.
of 17, Farooq, a Class 11 student, was a youthful face among the separatist
politicians. Showing maturity beyond his years, he brought together disparate
leaders under the banner of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in 1993 and was
elected its first chairperson. He was 19 and the new hope of the separatist
years ago, he was central to the dialogue between India and Pakistan. Former
Indian spy chief and a Kashmir expert Amarjit Singh Dulat in his book Kashmir:
The Vajpayee Years, says the Mirwaiz was “rated very high by everybody, the
Pakistanis, the Americans, the British, other foreigners, and by us”.
to 2019, a lot has changed for the Hurriyat as well as the Mirwaiz, who turns
46 on 23 March. The Mirwaiz is battling to stay relevant in a Kashmir hit by a
new generation of Islamists.
inception, the Hurriyat has battled internal rifts — over the methods and
direction the separatist movement should take. The Hurriyat leaders have ridden
the popular wave rather than steer the discourse in the Valley.
the Hurriyat fragmented, the faction led by the Mirwaiz came to be seen as
moderate and often faced criticism from hardliners led by Syed Ali Shah
Mirwaiz was called a political novice backed by India and the “innocent and
ignorant rulers” of Pakistan by Masarat Alam, a leading member of the Geelani
faction, in a 2007 speech. The hardliners were unhappy with the Mirwaiz camp
facilitating talks between the BJP-led government and Pakistan, whose president
Parvez Musharraf was said to have sidelined Geelani.
Hurriyat’s representative character helped it tide over the crisis and stay
relevant. The following year when Kashmir erupted over an order to transfer
forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, New Delhi’s only hope was the
Hurriyat. Chants of “Kaun karega tarjumani? Syed Ali Shah Geelani. (Who will
plead our case? Syed Ali Shah Geelani)” were met with: "Choice! choice!
Mirwaiz’s Hurriyat was again but quietly talking to New Delhi in 2009. A
‘secret meeting’ between the Mirwaiz and home minister P Chidambaram made the
top news in The Hindu. The backlash was swift. A member of the moderate
Hurriyat was injured in an attack and the talks derailed. Today, the Hurriyat
makes careful calls for dialogue – terming Pakistan an important party to the
the hardliners have kept at it.
April 2014, Geelani alleged that the Mirwaiz had met “emissaries” of Narendra
Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate who was accused of inaction during
the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. The Mirwaiz called out Geelani’s
supporters for their “holier than thou approach”.
several occasions since 1990 they (Geelani-led Hurriyat) have behaved as such
with every (other) separatist party,” he said. Such “irresponsible” statements
created confusion and led to the fatal targeting of Hurriyat leaders, the
Mirwaiz said. “Who does Geelani want to see dead today?”
may not have been kind to the Mirwaiz but his place in Kashmir’s politics was
not lost on others. Dulat notes in his book, published in 2014, that Umar
Farooq was “among the Hurriyat, a big player”.
there was any chance of getting the Hurriyat to the talking table, “The Mirwaiz
was key to that, because Geelani would never come around”, says Dulat. The
Mirwaiz has done so, at considerable risk.
a free fall
goalposts and acrimony among its constituents, compounded by the Hurriyat’s
failure to come up with a concrete roadmap or secure any concessions from New
Delhi, or even Islamabad, has disillusioned many.
years after the 2010 unrest, the Hurriyat was nowhere in the picture when the
streets were again taken over by angry youth who ignored its diktats.
just the boys on the streets but also those wielding guns were moving away,
from both the United Jihad Council and the Hurriyat.
reality hit home hard when in 2015 a north Kashmir module of the Hizb, led by
jihadist Abdul Qayoom Najar, rebelled against the leadership. The group
rechristened itself the Lashkar-e-Islam and targeted cellphone towers and
service providers, killing at least six people, including Hurriyat activists.
The Hurriyat took the easy way out and blamed intelligence services.
UJC claimed that Najar was expelled from the Hizb and in 2017, the Hurriyat
paid tributes after the jihadist was killed in a gunfight. Najar was claimed by
a self-avowed al Qaeda affiliate headed by Zakir Musa, another Hizb rebel who
denounced the Hurriyat and nationalism.
was also claimed by a self-styled Islamic State chapter. Police believe these
are largely modules of outfits such as the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen. Others see it
as an intelligence ploy to further fracture the separatist movement.
of the theories, pan-Islamism has found traction among the stone-pelting
protesters of downtown Srinagar, who have repeatedly denounced the Hurriyat in
the Mirwaiz’s bastion of the Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta.
the Islamic State flags were waved from the mosque’s pulpit from where the
Mirwaiz delivers his Friday sermon. He urged the youth to come forward with
their grievances instead of playing into the hands of “the enemy”.
Hurriyat’s track record, however, indicates it is “repulsive to the idea of
accommodation”, says Aijaz Ashraf Wani, an associate professor at the Kashmir
University. “They seem to go with the flow rather than being able to create and
direct the flow decisively.”
DELHI: The National Investigation Agency on Monday arrested a Jaish-e-Mohammad
terrorist in connection with the attack on a CRPF camp in J&K's Lethpora in
accused, Fayaz Ahmad Magray, is an active OGW (over ground worker) of
proscribed terrorist organisation JeM, said NIA in a statement. Magray, NIA
said, is a key conspirator who provided logistical support such as providing
shelter to the terrorists and conducting reconnaissance of the CRPF group
centre in Lethpora before the terrorist attack, the NIA said in the statement.
The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is working with the All India Muslim Personal Law
Board and other organisations to introduce a course for the would be brides and
bridegrooms. The intention is to enable them to know their responsibilities.
Jamaat took a cue from other countries such as certificate course in Malaysia
and Indonesia where it is mandatory to complete the course. “We are planning to
bring in the system in India to enlighten young generation on the responsibilities
of men and women after the marriage,” said JIH City President Hafiz Mohammed
Jamaat is working to include topics such as Muslim Personal Law, rights of
women, responsibilities to society and their family, etc in Friday sermons. The
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Greater Hyderabad launched a 10 day campaign to “restore
and reinstate family values” in the society and Muslim community in particular.
biggest crisis in the world is the disappearing joint family system, it is one
of the key roots of all societal problems,” said Hamed Mohammed Khan, president
Jamaat-e-Islami, Telangana and Odisha.
Greece: Outwardly, Komotini looks like other Greek cities, but there is a major
difference: it has nine mosques whereas there are none in Athens.
northeastern city has existed from the second century and was captured by
Ottoman-era Turkey in the 14th. It was an important hub connecting the capital
city of Constantinople, as Istanbul was then known, with the European part of
it is home to nearly 30,000 Muslims, many of whom complain of marginalization.
has for centuries had a testy relationship with Turkey, with a slew of disputes
ranging from Aegean sea issues to the long-running Cyprus problem.
minority Muslims and their Greek compatriots cohabit but each side lives in its
own corner,” said Mustafa Mustafa, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras’s party, speaking in this frontier city of some 60,000 people.
visits Turkey on Tuesday in a bid to improve relations.
deteriorated in the 1960s and until 1990 many villages in the area were ringed
by military barricades,” Mustafa, who is in his sixties, said.
could not access our properties or get a driving license,” he said.
would like to be a bridge of peace and friendship and not act as a brake.”
issue of the Muslim minority is one of the sensitive areas in ties between the
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a historic trip to Greece in 2017 — the
first by a Turkish leader in 65 years — visited the Thrace region and called
for the respect of the Muslim minority, railing against “discrimination” by the
sad that we are being used,” said a young Muslim woman, speaking on condition
are normal people like us who are paying the price of politics,” she said of
residents of Komotini, which lies about 100 kilometers from the border.
are up to 150,000 Muslims in Greece’s western Thrace region, who were given
minority status after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne following the end of a war
between Turkey and Greece which rang the death knell for the Ottoman empire.
treaty provided for the application of sharia law to settle family disputes and
the use of Turkish in educational institutions.
presence of a Turkish consulate in the region adds to tensions.
would be better for everyone if the consulate stops serving the interests of
the Turkish foreign ministry,” Komotini’s mayor Giorgos Petridis said.
characterises this population is a plural identity,” said Thalia Dragona from
the Athens National University.
new generation is educated and wants to break free from being slotted,” she
young Muslim recounted how her family was criticized for putting their children
in Greek schools, saying: “In their eyes, we had become traitors.”
Molla Sali, who is in her seventies, lived in Komotini before relocating to
Istanbul. She had inherited her husband’s house under Greek law but her
sisters-in-law contested the decision, evoking sharia.
European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favor in December.
decision clarifies the situation since it makes it impossible to apply Muslim
law on European citizens,” her lawyer Yanis Ktistakis said.
a deeply orthodox society where 76 percent of Greeks see Christianity as a
central part of their identity, according to the Pew Research Center, “many
people associate Islam with Turkey,” said Giorgos Kalantzis, the general
secretary of religious affairs.
country has suffered at the hands of Turkey and this still brings up painful
memories,” he said.
Jewish college presidents focus on common goals with Christian educators
(RNS) — Like most college presidents,
Ari Berman and Hamza Yusuf care about giving their students the best education
possible in the classroom.
also want to support their students’ rights as people of faith.
schools help students “to contextualize our lives in a greater mission, to have
a sense of holiness about everything that we do,” Berman, president of Yeshiva
University in New York, told a gathering of Christian college presidents in the
nation’s capital last week (Feb. 1).
Yeshiva University president’s comments prompted an “Amen” from an audience
and Yusuf, president of Zaytuna College in California, took part in an
interfaith panel focused on what faith-based schools from diverse backgrounds
have in common. The panel, which also included presidents of Mormon, Catholic
and Protestant schools, took place at the end of the Presidents Conference of
the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an evangelical consortium
of more than 180 schools.
their counterparts, both Zaytuna College and Yeshiva University aim to
reinforce their religious traditions to a younger generation as they educate
them in fields of study ranging from liberal arts to law, their presidents
defended their institutions as alternatives for students of faith who may be
met with hostility from college professors at secular schools who consider
their religion to be superstition or fellow students who don’t understand their
me, just having safe places where people that actually are devotional can come
to and not be offended,” said Yusuf, “I think that’s extremely important.”
Young University President Kevin J. Worthen also spoke of the connection
between faith and learning.
goal at Brigham Young University is not simply to prepare students for their
first job — though that is not unimportant to them or us,” he said. “And it’s
not even to prepare them for their last job. It’s to prepare them for their
attendees hailed the unusual gathering as historic, more than one panelist
noted that connections between great thinkers across faiths dates to medieval
University President John Fitzgibbons, the leader of a Catholic school in
Denver, and Yusuf noted that Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas benefited from
the teachings of Muslim philosophers Averroes and Avicenna, who interpreted
provided a fresher example of academicians making connections across faiths.
after he became president of Yeshiva in 2017, he sought out Worthen — as well
as the presidents of Fordham University and Catholic University of America — to
compare notes with colleagues of other faith-based institutions.
why I’m here,” he said at a media lunch after the discussion of his acceptance
of CCCU’s invitation. “It was from those conversations that, when I was
invited, I thought this is the kind of room that I want to be in.”
told RNS that he has attended religious freedom events sponsored by evangelical
under siege right now, and religious liberty is being challenged,” he said in
an interview. “I think Christian colleges and Christian institutions are
realizing the necessity for alliances.”
welcomed Yusuf’s description of religion-related colleges being needed as safe spaces
for people of faith. But he added that he believes they also should be places
where all questions are allowed, including debates related to LGBTQ rights.
are all created in the image and likeness of our God — all of us. So how do we
get there?’’ he asked. “If that conversation doesn’t happen in the university,
then that university should not exist. I say that humbly, but I really mean
Mullen, president of Houghton College, a Wesleyan Church-sponsored school in
western New York state, said she thinks all of the presidents should work to
affirm the value of faith-based education within the overall offerings in
of us today in our own ways have spoken about this kind of education that does
not require students to leave behind their fundamental moral and spiritual
conviction as they deepen their intellectual understanding,” she said.
college presidents — on the panel and off — said that, in a polarized country,
it was beneficial to focus on where people leading faith-based colleges and
universities can agree despite their different theologies.
Spanish priest says his church canceled the projection of an award-winning
documentary on the plight of Palestinians in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip
due to threats and pressure from “powerful Jews” in the European country.
El Pais newspaper ran an interview with Pastor Javier Baeza, in which the
priest criticized “powerful Jews” for exerting pressure, issuing threats, and
launching an intimidation campaign against his church over its plan to screen
“Gaza, a look into the eyes of barbarism,” Israeli media reported Sunday.
said, “There were pressures from the Jewish community” to cancel the screening
of the film, which has won the “Best Documentary” category of Spain’s main
national annual film festival, the Goya Awards.
heart-rending film is about the Israeli atrocities and human rights violations
against the downtrodden Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, which has
been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.
documentary was scheduled to be screened on Friday at the Pastoral Center of
San Carlos Borrome in southeastern Madrid.
Osoro, the archbishop of Madrid, however, said the church was “obligated” to
suspend the projection indefinitely due to security concerns “because of the
threats we’ve received in the last few days.”
Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain said in a statement that the film was
being promoted by organizations supporting the pro-Palestinian Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which he said “seeks to
delegitimize Israel and Israelis.”
BDS movement is an international campaign launched more than a decade ago with
the aim of ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
EU has warned Iran over the progression of ballistic missile testing and its
behaviour in the wider region.
a 12-point statement issued on Monday the bloc, which remains part of the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, said it is
“gravely concerned” over the state’s missile activity.
continues to undertake efforts to increase the range and precision of its
missiles, together with increasing the number of tests and operational launches
… These activities deepen mistrust and contribute to regional instability,” the
statement read. A UN Security Council resolution that enshrined Iran’s 2015
nuclear deal with world powers called upon Tehran to refrain for up to eight
years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.
says its missile tests are not in violation of the resolution and denies its
missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
statement comes less than a week after the UK, German and France created a
mechanism for non-dollar trade between Iran and the bloc, enabling the trade of
medicines and food without running afoul of US sanctions on Iran.
EU Council also took issue with Iran’s growing role in the Middle East,
particularly the presence of Iranian troops in Syria, calling on the state to
support UN efforts to broker peace and use its leverage with Bashar Al Assad to
encourage a conclusion to the bloody almost eight year conflict.
27-member bloc also encouraged Iran to adhere to the UN’s arms embargo in Yemen
and international human rights legislation.
left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) says it will not
take part in any new Palestinian unity government, which is expected to be
formed in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
PFLP, which is the second-largest of the groups forming the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO), announced in a statement that it had officially
notified the Fatah movement led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of its
position over the weekend.
crisis that the Palestinian political arena is passing through on various
levels amid [a] deepened internal split urges all of us to stop carrying out
any measures that will complicate the situation, including the formation of a
government,” the statement read.
then warned that the formation of a new government “would bring more obstacles
that would block any opportunity for achieving reconciliation and ending the
PFLP called for an alternative to the formation of a new government by holding
an emergency meeting for activating the PLO, and reaching an agreement on a
joint political platform.
Hamas resistance movement has hailed a firm refusal by PLO-affiliated political
factions to join the next Palestinian government.
fact that senior PLO factions refused to strike political partnership with the
Fatah government is a step in the right direction” to stop the policy of
singularity, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote in a post published on his
official Tweeter page.
a reaction is a proof that Palestinians have no option other than joining
forces in favor of national unity,” he added.
last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah officially submitted
his resignation and that of his unity government to Abbas, casting doubt on the
prospects of reconciliation efforts with Hamas.
had been facing pressure from his ruling Fatah movement over the past few weeks
to remove Hamdallah from power, and establish a new government comprised of
representatives from PLO factions in addition to independent figures.
headed the Palestinian National Consensus Government, which was formed after
Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement in 2014.
leaders said there was no point in keeping the government in power in the wake
of the continued crisis between their faction and Hamas.
also argue that since their faction is the largest group in the PLO, it should
have a strong presence in any government.
Imam's reception, we have arranged an elaborate program. Tell Imam that we will
roll carpet at the airport, decorate it with lights, and the parade will pass
from Mehrabad Airport to Behesht-e-Zahra by helicopter,” he told Firdousi Pur,
who was in charge of Imam's office in Paris.
Firdousi Pur informed Imam about it, he listened carefully and with a
characteristic grin said: “Go and tell the men that they are not welcoming
Cyrus to Iran. This is not necessary at all! A student has left Iran and the
same student is returning to Iran. I want to be among my people and go with
them, even if I get trampled upon.”
flight back home after 14 years in exile was unarguably the most important
journey undertaken by the founder of the Islamic revolution. All eyes were on
him and his arrival in Tehran, even as nationwide protests against the Pahlavi
regime and confrontation between protestors and military forces raged on.
heading home, Imam issued a brief statement thanking the French government. “I
leave your country to go and serve my country,” read the note.
weeks prior to Imam’s triumphant homecoming, West-backed despotic ruler Reza
Shah Pahlavi had fled the country, appointing his lackey Shahpour Bakhtiar as
the head of caretaker regime. The popular uprising in Iran against the Pahlavi
regime had forced Pahlavi to escape.
board a chartered Air France Boeing 747, Imam sat quietly, surrounded by his
close aides, a bunch of journalists and younger son Ahmad Khomeini.
Jennings, a Canadian-American journalist who anchored a prime time show on ABC
World News, asked him: “What do you feel?” Imam answered: “Nothing!” He asked
again, the answer was same.
that “nothing”, Imam said everything. That one-word answer reflected his
extraordinary strength of character. Lack of emotions at that important moment
signified that Imam sought nearness to Allah rather than nearness to the
grandeur of world, power and fiefdom. He detached ‘self’ from his endeavors and
sought pleasure of the ‘ultimate power’ above all powers.
February 1, 1979, Imam touched down at the Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, ending
his long exile. The packed airport reverberated with ‘Allah is great’ and
‘Khomeini is our leader’ slogans.
are succeeding, but this is only the first stage,” Imam told his ecstatic
supporters who had turned up at the airport to welcome him. “The movement will
be successful only when the roots of colonialism are pulled out,” he added,
referring to the Pahlavi regime backed by the U.S.
success of the revolution, he said, was the result of the unity of all
Iranians, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Among those who had come to
welcome Imam at the airport were representatives of the Armenian and Assyrian
the flight from Paris to Tehran, Imam had told journalists accompanying him
that he would announce his own provisional government and the nationwide
protests would be called off if Bakhtair agrees to resign.
morning Imam arrived, millions of people poured into streets across the country
to welcome him. They chanted vociferous slogans in support of the Islamic
revolution and against the Pahlavi monarchy.
landing in Tehran, Imam drove straight to Behesht e Zahra (sa) cemetery in
south Tehran to pay his respects to the martyrs of revolution. The visibly
jubilant followers lined the one mile stretch from the airport to the city’s
his first address, he offered his condolences to the parents of martyrs and
vowed to uphold the principles of resistance and resilience against the forces
of evil. He denounced the interim government led by Bakhtiar and asked him to
abdicate power immediately.
must tell you that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, that evil traitor, has gone. This
man, his government, his Majlis are all illegal. If they were to continue to
stay in power, we would treat them as criminals and would try them as
criminals,” Imam declared.
soon announced formation of a new government with Mahdi Bazargan as the prime
minister, forcing Pahlavi’s lackey Bakhtiar to escape. His regime collapsed on
February 11, ten days after the arrival of Imam.
the West-backed Pahlavi monarchy crumbled and the Islamic revolution became a
great success story. The overthrow of Pahlavi regime was followed by the
takeover of U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Pahlavi's disgraceful downfall, Americans lost an important ally in the region
and they lost their grip over Iran. They continue to hold that grudge. Hence
the bullying, saber-rattling and sanctions. Iranians stood unfazed then, they
stand unfazed now. Imam’s legacy continues to guide the proud Iranian nation
and his worthy predecessor Imam Khamenei has followed on the same path,
refusing to surrender before the so-called ‘superpowers’ of the world despite enormous
socio-political ideology was deeply rooted in Islam. In Kashaf-ul-Asrar, he
said religion is the “only thing that dissuades mankind from treachery and
has maintained low-level contact with the Syrian government, President Tayyip
Erdogan said on Sunday, even though Ankara has supported rebels who fought for
years to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
has described Assad as a terrorist and said several times during Syria’s
eight-year conflict that the Syrian leader must go. But with support from
Russia and Iran, Assad has recaptured large parts of Syria from rebel fighters,
driving them from most of their former strongholds.
Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in December Turkey and other countries would
consider working with Assad if he won a democratic election, and last month
said Ankara was in indirect contact with Damascus via Russia and Iran.
suggested on Sunday that Turkey also had direct contacts with the Syrian
policy with Syria continues at a lower level,” he told broadcaster TRT in an
interview, adding that intelligence services operated differently to political
may be cut out. But intelligence units can communicate for their interests,”
Erdogan said. “Even if you have an enemy, you should not break the ties. You
may need that later.”
Turkish president also said that a proposed safe zone in northeastern Syria,
which President Donald Trump has said should be established as US forces
withdraw from the area, could not be set up by Western coalition forces without
can provide the security in the area. We can manage the region together with
you,” Erdogan said. “No problem there. But we can’t leave the region for
has said the proposed safe zone should address Turkish concerns about
preventing any cross-border threat from Kurdish YPG militia fighters in north
Syria, while also preventing Turkish military operations against the YPG.
abruptly announced his intention in December to withdraw the 2,000-strong US
forces from Syria, over the objections of top advisers including Defense
Secretary Jim Mattis who quit in protest.
of the main concerns of critics of Trump’s decision is the fate of the YPG if
US forces leave. The group has been the main ally of US forces battling ISIS in
Syria. Turkey, however, considers the YPG to be a terrorist group
indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has
fought an insurgency in mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.
President Barham Salih said on Monday that US President Donald Trump did not
ask Iraq’s permission for US troops stationed there to “watch Iran.”
at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump’s
comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to “watch”
troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with
a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should
stick to that.
said it was important to keep a US military presence in Iraq so that Washington
can keep a close eye on Iran “because Iran is a real problem,” according to a
CBS interview broadcast on Sunday.
overburden Iraq with your own issues,” Salih said. “The US is a major power ...
but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here.”
is in a difficult position as tensions between its two biggest allies, the
United States and Iran, increase.
forces have killed a Palestinian teen and wounded another in the occupied West
Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson, Mahmoud al-Saadi, said the Israeli
forces fired at the two teenagers who happened to pass by on a motorbike by the
Jalameh checkpoint Monday.
two men were rushed to the hospital in the Northern city of Jenin.
young man, who is identified as 19 year-old Abdullah Tawalba, did not survive
the shot to his head.
companion, who remains unidentified, is reported to be in stable condition.
an expected turn of events, the Israeli army shifted the blame onto the
victims, stating they had opened fire at "two assailants who hurled an
explosive device" near the aforementioned checkpoint.
orphaned children of the Gaza Strip released balloons carrying their cries for
help as they pleaded to the international community to help end the 12-year
blockade of Gaza, near Beit Hanoun's 'Erez' crossing, on Sunday.
protest which was organized by Hamas, saw children of parents killed by Israeli
forces marching with banners and messages tied to their colorful balloons
before they released them into the sky.
charity institutions have become unable to provide aid to this important group
of people [children]," said spokesperson of charity institutions in Gaza
The Iranian-backed Houthi militia is using human shields and continues to
violate a cease-fire in Yemen, a spokesman for the Arab coalition told a weekly
press briefing in Riyadh on Monday.
Turki Al-Maliki showed the media videos featuring examples of the violations.
showed fighters threatening people and forcing them out of their homes, turning
their properties into barracks and using them for military purposes.
cease-fire, brokered in Stockholm between Yemen’s warring parties, went into
effect on Dec. 13, 2018, in the strategic port city of Hodeidah.
were the first direct talks in more than two years between representatives of
Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Iranian-aligned Houthis.
besieged Houthi-held city is an entry point for 70 percent of foreign
humanitarian aid into the country, according to the UN, which has described
Hodeidah as a “lifeline” for Yemen’s war-ravaged population.
have been 1,080 violations since the cease-fire came into effect, including the
Houthis setting up military camps in different provinces, Al-Maliki said.
raids killed more than 270 Houthi fighters at a training site in Al- Mahwit on
Jan. 23, he added.
showed photographs of Iranian-made drones that had been destroyed by the
coalition, which was targeting drone warehouses near Sanaa. The Royal Saudi Air
Force had intercepted and destroyed anti-civilian drones in Abha and the
militia were hiding in pipes, digging trenches to store weapons and planting
mines that threatened global maritime and commercial lines in the southern Red
have been 216 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis toward Saudi Arabia
between March 26, 2015, and Feb. 4, 2019, according to the coalition.
Yemen’s army liberated a strategic mountain range in the Kitaf district of
Saada province, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.
to a statement issued by the Yemeni Ministry of Defense, the Arab Coalition
backed the Yemeni army forces during the operation, and bombed Iran-supported
Houthi militia positions and their reinforcements.
operation resulted in several deaths and injuries among the militia, the
destruction of military vehicles belonging to them and the capture of a number
in Rohingya camps feared rising as crisis rolls on
BAZAR (Bangladesh), Feb 5 ? In a shelter made of plastic sheets and bamboo next
to a reeking stream in the world's largest refugee settlement, Rohingya Nazma
Akter recalled how her daughter was trafficked seven months ago.
17, was picked up next to a health clinic in a camp in southeast Bangladesh by
a man who had been courting her by phone for sometime while her mother visited
man, however, turned out to be a trafficker.
days later Rashida was rescued by the police at Jashore, a regional hub for sex
trafficking about 500km north of the camps near to Bangladesh's border with
has been 18 months since more than 730,000 mainly Muslim Rohingya fled
persecution in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar and set up camps across the border in
a coastal district about 40km south of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh's top tourist
camps, sprawled over about 6,000 acres ? just under half the size of Manhattan
? have become more organised but recent police activity suggested the risk of
being trafficked has increased due to the promise of work and better lives.
there are no signs the Rohingya will be able to leave the camps any time soon.
Plans for repatriation were put on hold by the Bangladesh government last
November amid protests in the camp with a vow no one will be sent back against
the middle there were talks about repatriation. Once that slowed down, we
noticed an increase in trafficking,” said Major Mehedi Hasan, company commander
of Bangladesh's elite police force Rapid Action Batallion (RAB).
police records showed that on Jan. 30, police at Jashore rescued five Rohingya
girls and one boy, all teenagers, from being trafficked into India.
days earlier RAB officers rescued 11 Rohingya Muslims from Chittagong, a major
coastal city and financial centre in southeast Bangladesh about 170 km from the
November, law enforcement agencies rescued 57 Rohingya refugees from
Malaysia-bound boats on three different occasions.
groups fear the human trafficking routes to southeast Asia through the Bay of
Bengal, which became active around 2010, are now being used to smuggle
increasingly desperate Rohingya refugees out of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh government has not released an official figure of the number of
Rohingya who have been trafficked but aid agencies have come up with various
numbers which highlight the severity of the issue.
Barua, programme coordinator for Young Power in Social Action, a non-profit
group that deals with trafficking, said an analysis of local papers suggested
at least 200 Rohingya had been rescued here in the last three months.
numbers have increased. We are telling everyone in the camps to be more
careful. We are spreading awareness through different events, such as street
dramas and courtyard briefings,” Barua told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) has identified
about 204 cases of trafficking so far.
this is just a fraction of what we believe is happening,” said IOM spokeswoman
Fiona MacGregor, adding that young girls were particularly vulnerable to being
taken as domestic workers both locally and within Bangladesh.
are cases where people don't know what is going on and then others that do take
the risk because they feel there is no other choice.”
government view is that improving people's livelihood at the camps was the only
way to curb human trafficking from the area that was known to be at the heart
of a people smuggling business long before the Rohingya influx.
bars the Rohingya from leaving the camps, or holding jobs other than
participating in small-scale cash-for-work programs run by humanitarian
the past, traffickers misled hundreds of people who wanted to go to Malaysia
and trapped them in camps in the border areas of Thailand and Malaysia,
torturing them until their families agreed to pay up to US$1,800 (RM7,357), a
fortune for impoverished migrants.
came to light in 2015 with the discovery of scores of mass graves believed to
contain the bodies of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants.
was present in the past and it is present today as well,” said Shamimul Huq
Pavel, a government officer with the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation
Commission (RRRC), a government organisation created to deal with the Rohingya
are trying to improve the situation in the camps here. Once that happens, the
situation will improve.”
trafficking on the rise, Bangladesh law enforcers have also stepped up
activities to crack down on trafficking, as has Malaysia, which announced last
month it would set up an official inquiry to investigate human trafficking
camps in border areas.
have increased our surveillance near the boat areas,” said RAB's Hasan.
Akter was relieved to get her daughter back, she knew she would have to keep
her story quiet. The names of both were changed in this story to protect their
people knew her story, no one would marry her,” said Akter, stressing that the
Rohingya were a conservative community in which men and women were largely
segregated in Myanmar.
she was foolish and she was trapped. But we live in a problematic area. It can
happen to anyone. We have heard many (stories) of children disappearing in the
her return, Rashida has married and lives near her mother in Balukhali camp,
one of 34 camps in the settlement ? but her husband does not know about the
is happy today. Let her be. There's no need to bring these issues up again,”
said Akter, who lives with her husband and two younger daughters in the camp.
Rashida escaped public stigma on her return, 28-year-old Ramida Khatun ? who
also requested anonymity for her security ? from the largest camp, Kutupalong,
was not so lucky.
May, Khatun was forced by her husband to travel to Sylhet, a city 500 km from
the camps, along with a trafficker to get a Bangladeshi passport so the couple
could go to Malaysia.
to Khatun's uncle, she went to Sylhet with two other Rohingya women and stayed
at a hotel with the trafficker for nine days before the police rescued her.
she returned to the camp, she faced public insults from the leader of her block
for days and those memories haunt her.
insults have stopped. No one troubles me now. But whenever I think about those
days, my head begins to hurt a lot,” Khatun told the Thomson Reuters Foundation
via an interpreter at the Kutupalong camp. ? Thomson Reuters Foundation
Groups Seek U.N. Inquiry Into China’s Mass Detention of Muslims
— Human rights groups called on Monday for a United Nations investigation into
China’s mass detention of Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang, seeking to
galvanize an international response to allegations of widespread abuses.
rights organizations, presenting the issue as a test of the United Nations
Human Rights Council’s credibility, urged it to set up an international
fact-finding mission during its session that starts at the end of February.
magnitude of abuses allegedly occurring in Xinjiang demand uncompromising
scrutiny,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a
statement released at a news conference in Geneva.
Human Rights Council’s integrity demands that states not allow China to hide
behind its membership or economic might to escape accountability,” he said.
Rights Watch was joined by Amnesty International, the Geneva-based
International Service for Human Rights and the World Uyghur Congress, a
Munich-based group representing the Uighur ethnic group, sometimes spelled
by academics and journalists over the past year have exposed a campaign that
has swept around a million people, mostly Uighur Muslims, into indefinite
detention in an expanding network of secretive re-education camps across
Chinese authorities, invoking what they called the threat of terrorism, have
also carried out a draconian crackdown on Muslims that has targeted religious
practice and customs. Officials have banned beards, religious instruction of
children and even the granting of names with religious connotations to
is an effort to change the religious and ethnic identity of an important
minority,” Mr. Roth said, and “absolutely demands an international response.”
the campaign has been a surveillance program involving widespread installation
of facial recognition technology, collection of DNA samples and deployment of
thousands of additional security personnel.
has become an open-air prison — a place where Orwellian high-tech surveillance,
political indoctrination, forced cultural assimilation, arbitrary arrests and
disappearances have turned ethnic minorities into strangers in their own land,”
Kumi Naidoo, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said in a video
mission to the United Nations in Geneva could not immediately be contacted for
comment. Many Chinese government offices have closed in celebration of the Lunar
initially responded to reports of mass incarceration of Muslims by issuing
blanket denials, but its position changed after a United Nations panel
monitoring religious equality expressed its alarm in August.
its record at the Human Rights Council in November, China brushed aside
allegations of mass detentions and abuses as politically motivated, presenting
its camps as vocational training centers designed to improve the economic
prospects and living standards of China’s minorities.
has sought to reinforce the official narrative this year by taking small groups
of diplomats and journalists on carefully arranged visits to Xinjiang, but
journalists trying to make independent visits have faced obstacles.
European Union said last week that a visit by three of its diplomats to sites
carefully selected by the Chinese authorities had provided insight into China’s
official thinking, “but does not invalidate the E.U.’s view of the human rights
situation in Xinjiang, including in relation to mass detention, political
re-education, religious freedom and sinicization policies.”
their call for an international investigation on Monday, the human rights
groups sought to ratchet up pressure for action not only by the United Nations
but also by its member states, including members of the Organization of Islamic
Cooperation, which remained conspicuously silent during November’s review of
year, European states and members of the group of Muslim nations had combined
in the Human Rights Council to step up investigation of Myanmar’s atrocities
against Rohingya Muslims. “In our view, Xinjiang demands a similar response,”
Mr. Roth said.
LUMPUR, Feb 4 — A Hindu father has filed a complaint with the Education
Department that his "Hindu" daughter is being forced to take Islamic
Studies in school even though the child's mother is born a Hindu and is seeking
an appeal to renounce Islam. Online portal Malaysiakini reported that the
father identified as 50-year-old Grab driver P. Manivanan had requested the
Education Ministry's intervention to resolve the dispute faced by his nine year
old child M. Luganeshvari.
the man's wife was born a Hindu but her parents had converted into Islam
together with her when she was three years old and given the name Siti Fatimah
when Paramaswari was 18, she married Manivanan and had applied to the Shah Alam
Syariah Court to have her Muslim status annulled.
and his wife were married according to Hindu rites and they also hold a valid
marriage certificate issued by a commissioner of oaths.
issue now is that the National Registration Department (NRD) has declared my
daughter as a Muslim,” Manivanan reportedly said.
she was born, we told the NRD officer on duty that my wife has applied to
revert to being a Hindu, and the said officer registered the child (then) as a
Hindu. However, when the birth certificate came out, my daughter's religion was
stated as Islam. "Worse still, my name was not included in the certificate
at all. In the column where the father's name is supposed to be, it is stated
'information not obtained'."
complained that Tamil schools refused to accept Luganeshvari due to the dispute
over her birth certificate and he was forced to register his daughter into a
national school where she was forced to take Islamic studies.
explained that Lugeshnvari had never practiced Islam and his wife had already
renounced the religion but they hold Islam and Muslims with respect.
NRD in Putrajaya on the other hand said his daughter was registered as a Muslim
due to Paramaswari's religion.
right does NRD have to decide on my behalf? And why was my name excluded? I
challenge the NRD to explain the exclusion of my name, when I have a valid
marriage certificate. They should have waited until my wife's case is resolved,
and not make hasty decisions," he told Malaysia Kini.
had lodged a police report against the NRD for allegedly falsifying the details
in Luganeshvari's birth certificate.
Troops Battle Muslim Militants After Church Blast
troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf gunmen in fierce jungle fighting that left five
soldiers and three militants dead, as the military pushed forward with a fresh
offensive following a deadly church bombing last weekend.
Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government forces to destroy the Abu Sayyaf after
the bombing last Sunday of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in the Sulu
provincial capital of Jolo that killed 22 people and wounded more than 100. The
attack has renewed terrorism fears across the Philippines, where the national
police went on full alert and security has been strengthened in churches,
shopping malls and other public areas.
military spokesman Col. Gerry Besana said another five soldiers and 15
militants were wounded in nearly two hours of fighting Saturday between the
army and about 150 Islamic State group-linked fighters in the jungles near
militants were led by Abu Sayyaf commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who is
suspected of helping plot the bombing. The Abu Sayyaf, which has about 300 to
400 armed fighters, has been blacklisted by the United States and the
Philippines as a terrorist organization because of years of bombings,
kidnappings and beheadings in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.
forces have over the years pressed on sporadic offensives to crush the group,
including in Jolo, a poverty-wracked island of more than 700,000 people where
Muslims are the majority. A few thousand Catholics live mostly in the
the church attack, the air force has launched airstrikes on suspected militant
bases near Patikul and police killed a suspected militant on a raid in the
told reporters earlier this week that the church bombing was a suicide attack
carried out by a militant couple.
Secretary Eduardo Ano said Friday that an Indonesian couple was responsible for
the bombing aimed at fomenting sectarian conflict in the south. The Indonesian
man reportedly used the nom de guerre Abu Huda and Philippine authorities said
they would coordinate with their Indonesian counterparts to try to validate the
identities of the two.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the government had not been
able to confirm the involvement of Indonesian nationals in the attack.
has been speculation that the bombing may be a diversionary move by Muslim
militants after troops recently carried out an offensive that killed a number
of IS-linked extremists in an encampment in the hinterlands of Lanao del Sur
province, also in the south. The area is near Marawi, a Muslim city that was
besieged for five months in 2017 by hundreds of IS-aligned militants, including
quelled the insurrection, which left more 1,100 people dead, mostly militants,
and the heart of the mosque-studded city in ruins.
Somalia’s Al-Shabab terrorists on Monday shot dead the Maltese manager of a
port, while detonating a car bomb in the capital which killed 11 people and
wounded several others.
a deadly day for the restive nation, a gunman shot Maltese national Paul
Anthony Formosa, manager of the port of Bossasso in semi-autonomous Puntland
state for P&O Ports, a subsidiary of the Dubai-based DP World.
thereafter a powerful explosion from a car bomb rocked the busy Hamarweyne
market in the capital Mogadishu, killing 11 people in the latest attack from
the Al-Qaeda affiliate plaguing the country.
armed man shot and killed Paul Anthony Formosa who was the construction project
manager for DP World. He was killed inside the port and the security forces
also shot the killer on the spot,” said local security official, Mohamed Dahir.
Dubai government confirmed the death in a statement on Twitter and said the
circumstances of the incident were being investigated. “Three other employees
have been injured in this morning’s incident, and all are currently receiving
medical treatment,” read the statement.
attack was claimed by Al-Shabab, which said in a statement it was “part of
broader operations targeting the mercenary companies that loot the Somali
DP World subsidiary in 2017 signed a 30-year concession contract for the
management and development of the port, strategically located on the Gulf of
Aden, between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, more than 1,300 km north of
Dubai-based ports company has sparked friction with Mogadishu over its development
of ports in Berbera in breakaway Somaliland — whose independence is not
recognized — as well as Puntland.
also claimed responsibility for the car bomb in Mogadishu, via a statement on a
blast occurred close to Mogadishu mall and it has caused death and
destruction,” police officer Ahmed Moalin Ali said.
terrorists parked a vehicle loaded with explosives in the vicinity of the mall
to kill the innocent civilians.”
said some of the victims died in a building that collapsed as a result of the
blast in the Hamarweyne market.
saw the dead bodies of four people recovered from the debris of a collapsed
building and three others were strewn dead outside after the blast had blown
them,” said shopper Munira Abdukadir.
was not far away from the blast location, but I was lucky to have survived,
several people were wounded and some were screaming before the ambulances
arrived,” said another witness, Abdulahi Mohammed.
has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of
President Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of chaos —
including an insurrection by Al-Shabab since 2006.
group once held sway over large swathes of countryside and the capital, however
they were chased out of Mogadishu by the 22,000-strong African Union
peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM in 2011, and have since abandoned many
nevertheless control vast rural areas and remain a key threat to peace in
Somalia and the region, with the capacity to stage significant attacks.
October 2017, a truck bombing in a busy neighborhood of Mogadishu killed over
500 people in the deadliest attack in Somalia to date.
Jan. 15, Al-Shabab gunmen — and the first-ever suicide bomber in Kenya —
attacked the Dusit hotel and office complex in Nairobi, leaving 21 dead and
prompting police and the US Embassy to urge caution in public spaces.
on Tuesday strongly condemned a car bomb attack that targeted a busy shopping
mall in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
a statement, the Foreign Ministry said: “We strongly condemn this heinous
ministry added: “We wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives, wish a
speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey our condolences to the brotherly
people and government of Somalia.”
least seven people were killed and nine others were injured when a bomb-laden
car blasted near a busy shopping mall in Mogadishu on Monday.
Senate breaks with Trump over Syria, Afghanistan withdrawal plans
Republican-led US Senate has backed an amendment opposing President Donald
Trump’s plans for quick withdrawal of American troops from Syria and
Afghanistan, citing concerns that such moves will benefit Russia and Iran.
senators voted 70-26 in favor of the non-binding and largely symbolic amendment
on Monday, which disputed Trump’s claims about defeating Daesh and said the
terrorist group still posed a “serious threat” to the US mainland.
announcing his plans to evacuate Syria and drastically reduce troop levels in
Afghanistan in December, Trump said he was returning American soldiers home in
a few months because Daesh was no longer a threat.
the new amendment, drafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, argued that
while there had been progress in the fight against Daesh in both Syria and
Afghanistan, the Trump administration had more to do in order to ensure the
terror outfit’s “enduring defeat.”
further warned that “a precipitous withdrawal” from the two countries could
cause instability in the region and leave behind a vacuum that Iran and Russia
announcement has been met with heavy backlash from both sides of the aisle. It
also led retired General Jim Mattis to hand in his resignation as Defense
the vote on Monday, McConnell said he brought the bill to let senators “speak
clearly and directly about the importance of the” missions in Afghanistan and
week, after senators pushed the amendment through, he told reporters:
“Withdrawal of the United States forces from the ongoing fight against these
groups . . . could allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions,
and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia, to the detriment of
United States’ interests and those of our allies.”
defeated all Republicans, people agree with me: Trump
an interview aired by CBS on Sunday, Trump made it clear that he was not going
to halt the withdrawal and retract one of his main campaign promises just
because Senate Republican’s said it was being done “precipitously.”
We've been there for 19 years. I want to fight. I want to win, and we want to
bring our great troops back home,” Trump said.
ran against 17 Republicans. This was a big part of what I was saying, and I won
very easily. I think the people out in the world- I think people in our country
agree,” he said, referring to 2016 presidential primaries, where he defeated
over a dozen of Republican candidates to win party nomination.
claimed that even Taliban were weary of war and had agreed to peace talks to
end the conflict.
we'll see what happens with the Taliban. They want peace. They're tired.
Everybody's tired. We'd like to have- I don't like endless wars. This war. What
we're doing is got to stop at some point,” he said.
unites Republicans, Democrats: Rand Paul
vote drew an angry response from Senator Rand Paul, who accused both parties of
forming a "war caucus."
is the one thing that brings Republicans and Democrats together?” Paul asked.
“War. They love it, the more, the better. Forever war, perpetual war.”
Kentucky lawmaker hailed Trump for being “bold enough and strong enough” to
bring the war in Afghanistan to an end.
do you leave precipitously after 17 years?” Paul asked. “We are no longer
fighting anyone who attacked us on 9/11.”
US invasion of Afghanistan began after the September 11, 2001 attacks against
World trade Center in New York City.
East bill moves forward
vote on Monday added the new amendment to a broader Middle East security bill
which is currently moving through Congress and addresses a range of issues
involving America’s regional interests
Senate voted 72-24 in a procedural vote later on Monday to advance the bill.
become law, the Middle East bill needs to pass the Democratic-controlled House
of Representatives, which is unlikely due to concerns about a provision that
aims to curb the “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” movement against Israel and its
violent treatment of Palestinian people.
Ali remembers the worry he felt when he first spotted the “Punish a Muslim Day”
letter, mailed last spring throughout England, encouraged violence that ranged
from pulling off a woman’s head scarf to bombing mosques. Each attack, the
letter instructed, would be rewarded with points. The hate campaign prompted
the police in New York and other big cities to expand patrols around mosques
and Islamic centres on the specified day.
Ali, who lives in downtown Brooklyn, said he was consumed by thoughts of his
four children’s safety.
just boiled inside of me,” said Mr Ali, who moved to the United States from
Yemen in 1990. “That’s when I said to myself that it was really important to
come out and protect Muslims in the community.”
added, “I have to stand up.”
it turns out, he will spend most of his time sitting – in a white Ford Taurus
that is detailed to look like a police squad car with red and white emergency
Ali is among the first 30 members of the all-volunteer Muslim Community Patrol
& Services that is preparing to operate in neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, with
a goal of growing its fleet of two cars to five by the end of the month and
eventually expanding citywide. The group recently held a training led by
off-duty officers from the police department’s 72nd precinct.
like a neighbourhood watch but on steroids,” said Noor Rabah, the group’s
31-year-old vice president who lives in Sunset Park.
word of the new patrol has begun to spread, the backlash has been swift, even
among some members of the Muslim community who have criticised the lack of
information, and questioned the need for the patrol.
the Shomrim that patrols largely Hasidic neighbourhoods in Brooklyn and the
Brooklyn Asian Safety Patrol that operates mainly in Sunset Park, the new group
– believed to be the first of its kind in the country – hopes to function as
extra sets of eyes and ears for the police.
unarmed civilian patrol will offer translation services – its members are
fluent in any of seven languages – explain cultural nuances, report suspicious
activity, respond to traffic accidents and even help in searches for the
missing. The patrol has the support of Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric L
Adams, and assistant chief Brian J Conroy, the commanding officer of patrol
borough Brooklyn South.
than buildings went down in 9/11. Trust between communities went down,” Mr
Adams said. “We are building it back one brick at a time, and this patrol is
one of those bricks.”
said the group is self-funded and used donations to purchase the cars and navy
blue uniforms for its members, many of whom are involved with the Muslim
Community Centre in Sunset Park.
plan to work in shifts, watching over arrival and dismissal times at three
Islamic schools in Brooklyn and conducting patrols from 5pm to 11pm, mostly
near mosques and bus and subway stops in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, where there
are large Muslim populations. It will also link residents to food pantries,
mentorship programs and counselling services. It aims to serve anyone who needs
help, Mr Rabah said, not just Muslims.
is prevention,” Mr Rabah said. “Just us being around should deter the average
criminal mind of doing something to harm another person.”
in a world where far-right conspiracy theories have inspired terror plots
against an Islamic enclave in upstate New York, and a travel ban has blocked
residents of predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States,
nothing, it seems, is that simple.
said they were prepared for sceptics.
they did not expect the vitriol unleashed when a photo of their new,
double-parked patrol cars on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge turned up 21 December on
Facebook, and later on Instagram. The hostility spread after a far-right
Canadian website, Rebel Media, posted a snippet on YouTube. The ugly online
comments included accusations that the group was a stalking horse for sharia
law, and worse.
expected some sort of, ‘Wait, what is that?’ but not, ‘Wait, what the hell is
that?’ Mr Rabah said. “There’s a big difference.”
in the Muslim community were equally startled, but for a different reason: the
cars’ resemblance to New York City police cruisers stoked anxieties rather than
Elrowmeim, the adult education and women’s empowerment manager at the Arab
American Association of New York, based in Bay Ridge, said a single misstep
from the patrol could reflect poorly on the city’s entire Muslim community. She
said more outreach to community leaders was essential before patrols began
then, Ms Elrowmeim offered this message: “We don’t want you near our
patrols work in concert with the police, but are not sanctioned or regulated by
the police department. “Safety is a shared responsibility with the community,
so this is an opportunity for the community to help out and work together with
the police,” Mr Conroy said in an interview.
Rabah, a funeral organiser for the Janazah Project, said the Muslim Community
Patrol had been a long-held dream of his and others. A series of sensational
2016 attacks, including the murder of an imam and his assistant in Queens and
an arson attack on a Muslim woman dressed in traditional garb in Manhattan,
gave energy to their cause, he said.
York City is home to an estimated 769,000 Muslims. They make up about 9 per
cent of the city’s population, but represent 22 per cent of all Muslims living
in the United States, according to Muslims for American Progress.
2017 in the city, there were 14 reported anti-Muslim bias incidents, according to
the police department’s annual report. Last year, there were 14 bias-crime
incidents recorded against Muslims during the first three quarters of the year,
the most recent data available.
Quhshi, the owner of Le’Jemalik Salon & Boutique in Bay Ridge, said she
felt a “spark of happiness” when she saw a video of the patrol car on
Instagram. The extra protection is welcome, she said, especially for women who
wear hijabs – “walking billboards of a Muslim” – and are particularly
vulnerable to harassment.
Arabia is “transferring” American weapons to al-Qaeda terrorists and Salafi
militias in Yemen, a report reveals.
and its main accomplice in the war on Yemen, the UAE, “have used the
US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias
or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political
landscape,” CNN said in a report Monday, citing local commanders on the ground
report added that Houthi Ansarullah fighters have also managed to gain access
to the weapons “exposing some of America's sensitive military technology to
his maiden state visit, US President Donald Trump went to Saudi Arabia where he
signed a massive $110 billion arms deal with the oil-rich kingdom.
to the Department of Defense, the monarchy is breaking the terms of its arms
deal with Washington.
Monday report further suggested that Trump “has lost control over” the royal
family, questioning whether it is “responsible enough to be allowed to continue
buying the sophisticated arms and fighting hardware.”
Arabia has been pounding Yemen for over two years and killing thousands of
civilians there, while receiving full logistic and intelligence support from
has thrown his support behind the monarchy and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, who reportedly ordered the assassination of former Washington Post
columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
anti-ISIS Coalition is gathering in Washington on Wednesday for its first
meeting since last summer, aiming to stave off any ISIS resurgence following
territorial defeat of the group.
meeting of the 79 member states will start on Wednesday by discussing Syria and
Iraq, ahead of remarks by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo will also chair a meeting for the Small Group of the Global Coalition.
Its members besides the US are France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Egypt and
foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir is expected to represent Riyadh in the meetings
and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has confirmed his attendance, even
as talks over a Turkish safe zone in Syria appear to have hit a snag. National
security advisers and defence ministers from other regional countries will also
be in attendance.
officials on Monday said the summit will focus on four themes: recognising the
liberation of territory and ensuring permanent defeat, supporting the Iraqi
government, renewing the coalition’s commitment, and holding ISIS members
accountable. However, the recently-declared US withdrawal of troops from the
area is casting a shadow over proceedings before they have even begun and
raising questions from within the administration over risks of ISIS resurgence.
is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in
Syria, but absent sustained pressure, ISIS could likely re-surge in Syria
within six to twelve months and regain limited territory” a report by the
Pentagon released this week said. The terrorist group “may conduct
opportunistic attacks on US personnel as they withdraw but will leverage the
event as a 'victory' in its media” the US defence officials warned.
remains a "potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters
that could likely re-surge in Syria absent continued counter-terrorism
pressure” it added.
ministerial meet-up has been in the planning since last September, before US
President Donald Trump declared his intention to withdraw from Syria on
December 19, one official explained. “We will discuss the next phase of the
campaign in Iraq and Syria, which will focus on protecting against a resurgence
of ISIS through stabilisation and security assistance" he added.
US official insisted that the goals in Syria remain unchanged despite Mr
Trump’s plan to pull out at least 2000 US troops in the country. “One of our
overarching goals in Syria is the exit of all Iranian commanders from Syria”
the official said.
Trump’s planned withdrawal pushed his Secretary of Defence James Mattis and his
anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk to resign in protest.
an effort to reassure allies about US commitment, Mr Trump said on Sunday that
American troops will stay in Iraq. “We’re going to keep watching and we’re
going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear
weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do,” Mr Trump told
CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “I want to be able to watch Iran” he said.
in Syria, US officials say the withdrawal plans are still on track albeit no
timetable being announced. On Monday, the State Department called upon other
nations to repatriate hundreds of ISIS foreign fighters in custody by the
Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria. “The United States calls upon other nations
to repatriate and prosecute their citizens detained by the SDF and commends the
continued efforts of the SDF to return these foreign terrorist fighters to
their countries of origin” the statement read.
Trump’s withdrawal plan from Syria and Afghanistan (7000 troops) is also being
challenged by Congress as the US Senate passed a non-binding amendment last
week that warns against any precipitous pullout from those countries.
Itani, a fellow with the Atlantic Council who studies Syria, said “there is no
argument that ISIS has been defeated if we were to measure success by the
square miles it controls.” But he warned that in a holistic conversation about
ISIS as an insurgency group, sleeper cells or its ability to carry operations,
then the debate gets more complicated, and the group is far from being
Itani said one misconception about this US administration “was assuming it
spoke with one voice (and that its members all spoke for the US president).”
says rejected review plea in Aasia Bibi case due to contradictions in evidence,
The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday said that there were clear contradictions in
pieces of evidence and depositions in the petition to review Aasia Bibi’s
there are no new pieces of evidence in the review petition, therefore it is
rejected,” read the detailed verdict.
bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa and
comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, had rejected
the appeal after hearing arguments from the appellant’s lawyer and said that
the appellant “failed to prove flaws in the announced judgement”.
court ruling said, “The petitioner had requested to form a larger bench but
there was no such need for it.”
Khosa had also noted that the witnesses were oblivious to the real facts of the
incident and made misstatements in court.
Tuesday, the top court had rejected the review petition and had said the
petitioner was unable to pinpoint any mistake in the October 31, 2018, verdict
that acquitted Aasia Bibi.
Khosa had asked the complainant counsel’s to assist in deciding what should be
punishment for those witnesses who made the false statement. The chief justice
had said that under the law, the false witnesses in such cases should be
awarded life imprisonment after a summary trial.
Khosa had then announced that “the review petition is dismissed on merit”.
October 31, 2018, the apex court had acquitted Aasia Bibi, who was facing a
death sentence for blasphemy and ordered to release her from prison
immediately. The acquittal had led to countrywide protests by the TLP headed by
Khadim Rizvi and other radical Islamist parties.
three days of the massive demonstrations, the government and Labbaik reached an
agreement, with the government vowing not to oppose review plea in the case.
Subsequently, a review petition was filed on November 1, 2018, at the Lahore
Registry of the apex court, urging the SC to reconsider its decision.
petitioner had also sought the placement of Aasia’s name on the Exit Control
List (ECL) till the judgement is reviewed.
the petition, it was argued that the SC’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi did not meet
the standards of jurisprudence as well as Islamic provisions and the “normal
principle of justice with reference to application in blasphemy laws”.
blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009. She was working in a
field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women labourers objected,
saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.
few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy
on Monday arrested dozens of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) workers after
they tried to block an armoured vehicle carrying the party chief Khadim Hussain
Rizvi, who was produced by the law enforcement agencies before an
anti-terrorism court (ATC).
workers had gathered outside an ATC in Lahore where Rizvi had been brought for
the hearing of a case registered against him and five other party leaders — who
were also produced before the court today — for damaging property and vandalism
during violent protests that the TLP held following a Supreme Court verdict
that acquitted Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case last year.
TLP leaders, including Afzal Qadri, Pir Ejaz Ashrafi, Farooqul Hasan, Shafqat Jamil
and Waheed Noor, appeared amid heavy security before ATC admin judge Sheikh
Sajjad today after the expiration of their 14-day judicial remand. The court
extended their judicial remand until Feb 8.
the hearing was over, TLP workers tried to block an armoured vehicle carrying
Rizvi away from the ATC, leading the police to launch a crackdown and arrest
was taken into 'protective custody' by the police on Nov 23, 2018 in a massive
crackdown against TLP workers.
The Centre has asked the provinces to ensure complete coordination for
improvement in health, education, agriculture, tourism and industrial sectors.
Centre sought the coordination of the provinces at a meeting presided over by
Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman
Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Governor Shah Farman
and provincial ministers of the two provinces.
prime minister stressed the need for better coordination between the Centre and
the provinces to overcome the problems confronting people. He also called for
inter-provincial coordination. “After completing the first phase of six months,
the government is stepping into its next phase which requires better
coordination between the Centre and provinces,” he added.
Khan said there was a need to highlight the measures taken by the government
for the betterment of people and the country so that the people could know that
in what circumstances former rulers had left the nation. “We have come into
power in a difficult situation and we know that people are in trouble due to
devaluation of rupee. But the government is striving hard to bring prosperity
to the country,” he added.
for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar briefed the meeting on future
priorities of the government.
meeting reviewed the steps being taken for establishing the proposed Regional
Equalisation Development Fund to provide equal opportunities for development of
remote areas of the country. In this connection development activities will be launched
in 50 cities under the World Bank and Asian Development Bank programmes.
prime minister emphasised the need for preparing a roadmap for tapping
potential of tourism in the country. “We can generate $40 billion annually only
through tourism,” he said.
provincial ministers of Punjab and KP briefed the meeting on health, education,
agriculture, tourism and other sectors. On this, working groups comprising
federal and provincial ministers were formed.
meeting was informed that a summary for establishment of seven industrial zones
in Punjab had been sent to the Board of Investment (BoI). Finance Minister Asad
Umer told the meeting that the BoI had been directed to prepare a special
economic zones framework for tourism in 30 days. The meeting was informed that
Rashakai Economic Zone would become operational soon.
the agriculture sector, the prime minister was informed that due to the
government’s efforts the farmers of Punjab had for the first time received
actual price of their sugarcane yield. In addition to this, subsidy is being
given to the farmers for increasing canola and sunflower oil production.
Minister Khan said improvement in the agriculture sector would help rid people
directed the authorities concerned to upgrade health facilities in all
government hospitals and ensure cleanliness there. “Administrations of
hospitals must be directed that no leniency will be tolerated in cleanliness of
the hospitals and for that purpose the ministers concerned will pay frequent
prime minister was informed that arrangements had been made to provide Health
Insaf Cards to over 800,000 people in Punjab from Feb 20. In the first phase,
the cards will be issued to the people in Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh
and Multan, and later the people in 36 districts of Punjab will get the
Minister Khan also chaired a meeting of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and
reviewed the measures being taken by the government to come out of the prevailing
finance minister informed the meeting about improvement in economic indicators
in January and the steps being taken for digitalisation of the economy.
sharing his views about the ongoing negotiations between the United States and
the Taliban, renowned foreign policy author Ahmed Rashid has said the Taliban
were talking from a position of strength as they controlled more territory than
the Afghan government.
I think is crucial is that the Taliban have now found an America that is
willing to talk. Even the initiative taken by Richard Holbrooke and other
American diplomats in the past – never had the full backing of the President or
the US establishment. Now the Taliban are finding that Trump is determined to
pull out and this was his promise to his own voter base in the US,” said Mr
Rashid on the concluding day of Adab Festival, which was held at the Governor
the session titled ‘In conversation with Ahmed Rashid’, being moderated by
journalist Zahid Hussain, the author was asked about his take on Afghan peace
want to know what has made the Trump administration take this more seriously?
And as reports are coming in from Afghanistan that the Taliban are much more
powerful than ever and more than 55 per cent of Afghan territory is supposed to
be under their control. What has led the Taliban to negotiate, they have always
talked about talking to the Americans and refused to have any interaction with
the Kabul government, do you think now the Taliban are talking from a position
of strength?” asked Mr Hussain.
said: “Now the Taliban are finding that Trump is determined to pull out and
this was his promise to his own voter base in the United States. He wants to
fulfil this promise before the next election so he can point to them and say,
‘look I promised you troops out of Afghanistan…’ and this whole Trump
philosophy is all about internalising economy, abandoning trade and
international alliances while concentrating on strengthening the US.
course, you can argue that this is ridiculous because you need interaction with
your allies and trading partners. So I think the whole American ideology has
shifted dramatically by Trump. I’m sure Zalmay Khalilzad (a US diplomat and
special representative for Afghanistan) wakes up every morning fearing that
Trump has tweeted something overnight saying that all American forces are
coming out tomorrow morning. And Trump won’t even wait for a settlement.”
said that, Rashid added there had however been remarkable progress in the past
three to four months but it still needed time to change people’s mind and
next round [of talks] between the Taliban and Khalilzad is at the end of this
month. And we don’t know what is going to happen. Trump is facing huge threat
from the Muller investigation and it is very unpredictable. But at the moment I
think he is determined to take US troops out of Afghanistan.
other thing is that the Taliban are not going to have a ceasefire immediately
until they probably gain more territory. They also realize that all these
regional countries are wooing them. They’ve been to Japan, Indonesia, Russia…so
all the regional countries are taking the Taliban very seriously and of course
this is a big blow to President Ashraf Ghani.”
The Supreme Court (SC) will announce its verdict on a suo motu notice of the
2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on
apex court has issued notices to the attorney general, Islamabad police
inspector general, and secretaries of interior, defence and Election Commission
verdict is expected to be announced at 9am.
verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP’s infamous sit-in,
including its party registration, its violent protest as well as the role of
government institutions and regulators in the buildup, on the day and in the
aftermath of the protest.
November 22, a two-member bench of the top court comprising Justice Qazi Faez
Isa and Justice Musheer Alam had reserved its verdict in the case after dishing
out severe criticism to the attorney general, media regulator and other
November 2017, the TLP had held a weeks-long protest at Islamabad’s Faizabad
Interchange which virtually paralysed Islamabad and saw several people losing
their lives. The court had taken suo motu notice soon after.
of foreign forces ‘not the end of the world’ for Afghanistan: Abdullah
Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah has said
the partial withdrawal of the foreign forces will not be the end of the world
with a group of reporters in Kabul on Monday, Abdullah said the presence of
U.S. forces in Afghanistan and their cooperation with Afghanistan has become
one of the main topics locally, regionally, and internationally.
further added that Washington’s South Asia policy regarding the presence of
U.S. forces, circumstances surrounding their cooperation and support are based
also added that no negotiation has been made regarding the permanent U.S. bases
in Afghanistan and no such agreement exist but commitments exist based
resulting to cooperation to cope with the joint threats against peace, regional
affairs and countries.
that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are in charge of the
majority of security related issues, Abdullah said the partial withdrawal of
the foreign would not mean an end to international community’s commitments to
Afghanistan, insisting that even such discussions have not been made.
Abdullah said there is a possibility that the number of foreign forces would
decline but no such instructions have been given so far.
Chief Executive of the Unity Government also added that the foreign forces will
one day leave Afghanistan and it is up to the Afghans to prepare themselves for
such a scenario and the government should stand on its own feet with the
support of the Afghan people.
Abdullah said cooperation should continue to exist since it will be in the
interest of the United States, international community and regional peace and
Peace Talks: Revisiting the Indian and Pakistani Stakes in Afghanistan
the first time in the last seventeen years of war in Afghanistan, peace
agreement looks possible. After the six days of continuous deliberations in
Doha, both sides, Taliban leaders and Zalmay Khalilzad (US Special
representative and the chief American negotiator) seemed hopeful regarding the
peace deal. But we should not be so optimistic regarding the same yet, as
Khalilzad said, “Meetings here were more productive than they have been in the
past. We made significant progress on vital issues”. He rightly added, “nothing
is agreed until everything is agreed”. Negotiators are still miles to go, as
different challenges are still hovering over the same because Afghanistan is no
longer an intra-state conflict, it has long ago taken the shape of inter-state
conflict involving multiple international actors.
peace deal with the Taliban seems an agreed only option by the global powers,
after it clearly seemed to the United States that the Afghan war can’t be
solved with bombs and guns, what this peace deal with the Taliban means to
India and Pakistan, will be interesting to see.
the fall of the Taliban, India has heavily invested in Afghanistan and has also
given $3 billion in Aid to Afghanistan. India is not the part of the peace
process with the Taliban as India still doesn’t consider them the legitimate
stakeholders of the Afghan people/society. Although, in November 2018, India
participated in the peace talks in Moscow, changing the decade’s old policy,
but India isn’t part of the peace process between the US and the Taliban.
Moscow led peace process isn’t so much important because Russia isn’t the
direct party of the current Afghan conflict. The US and the Taliban are still
Head-to-Head in Afghanistan, so the peace process between these two matter the
most, of which India is far away (emphasis added), because of multiple reasons,
first, Pakistan doesn’t want India to be the part of the talks, the US respects
the Pakistani view most, at least in this matter, and does not want to annoy
Pakistan, if they do that, they understand that the talks will not go anywhere,
second, India does not recognize the Taliban as a legitimate force.
the question arises what will happen to the Indian involvement, investment, and
aid to Afghanistan. Will it all be in vain once the peace deal with the Taliban
is reached? Will India still maintain its diplomatic ties with the new Afghan
government, which will include the Taliban forces in near future? Will India
immediately lose a neighbour to Pakistan, which it never wants. Nobody is
having the absolute answers for these questions, only time will tell.
has been at odds in Afghanistan at least since the Soviet intervention in
Afghanistan. Pakistan vehemently supported the Afghan guerillas with the help
of Saudi Arabia and the United States against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan
and was successful in getting the ‘Strategic Depth’ they wanted in their
immediate neighbourhood. Since then the relations between the two took a new
turn. Pakistan favoured the rise of the Taliban after the civil war broke out
in Afghanistan, as the war-torn country needed a stable force/government. Since
then Taliban has been the favourite of every Pakistani government.
recently it was an open secret that the Taliban had good relations with the
Pakistani government and they did whatever way they were directed from
Islamabad. But a new story emerged very recently. Pakistan released Abdul Ghani
Baradar, Afghanistan’s Taliban leader, also the co-founder of the Taliban
movement, who was jailed in Pakistan since 2010. This is, without doubt, a step
by Pakistan towards the peace, but this also indicates something different and
otherwise. Pakistan, a key component of the peace talks will now have to talk
to the person they had jailed, as Baradar is now going to lead the talks for
the peace process, as suggested by the recent reports. How much comfortable
Pakistan will be with him, and how challenging it will be for Pakistan, is open
the fresh and the most successful round had started in Doha, Pakistani media
had reported that the fresh round of peace talks will take place in Islamabad,
the claim rigorously rejected by the Afghan Taliban, “We wanted to make it
clear that we will not hold any meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad,”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement, Reuters reported. This
statement vindicates two things, first, Pakistan is no longer enjoying their
control on the Afghan Taliban, as they had previously, second, the Afghan
Taliban is capable enough now to reject a Pakistani demand, and to survive.
Whether Pakistani government had requested for this or not isn’t of much
importance here, but the statement from the Taliban spokesperson regarding and
rejecting the same is very important, and the two conclusions which I drew out
of it, both are challenges and the worrisome for the Pakistani establishment.
every passing day, the contours of the Afghan conflict are changing. Taliban is
getting international recognition, the US has already lost their longest war,
Pakistan is no longer enjoying their control on the Afghan Taliban as they were
enjoying historically, India is already out of the scene of peace process, an
end to the conflict seems possible. But the dominant question which needs to be
answered is, WHAT NEXT, for both India and Pakistan.
Senior Afghan officials warned on Monday that talks this week between Taliban
militants and opposition politicians, including former president Hamid Karzai,
betrayed the principles of democracy and Afghanistan’s best interests.
talks, starting on Tuesday (today) in Moscow, come 10 days after peace
negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar ended with
signs of progress towards the withdrawal of thousands of foreign troops from
Afghanistan and an end to more than 17 years of war.
had decided to snub Afghan government officials, sources said, to ensure the
participation of the Taliban who refuse to hold talks with representatives of
Western-backed President Ashraf Ghani, branding them puppets of the United
Fazly, chief adviser to Ghani, expressed “regret” that politicians who
previously led Afghanistan’s democratic transition were to meet the Taliban.
“[They] are ready to bypass these principles and move towards [the principles’]
destruction due to differences and being away from power,” Fazly said in a
Abdullah, the government’s chief executive, said the Taliban would have
achieved their objective once foreign troops withdrew, ending the need for
Russian officials are expected to remain in the background, the Moscow talks
highlight the growing role Russia is playing in Afghanistan.
confirmed his attendance at the talks, saying in a tweet he would carry a
message of “peace, unity sovereignty and progress for all of us”.
delegate to the Moscow sessions, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, an influential former
national security adviser to Ghani, said they would emphasise the need to
include the government in future intra-Afghan discussions.
he urged the government not to look at the peace process from a “narrow
recent appointment of a resident spiritual rector at Bangladesh’s most popular
Catholic shrine, dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, sparked a surge in pilgrims
for its annual feast day.
80,000 pilgrims, mostly Catholics but also non-Christians from all around
Bangladesh flocked to pray and honour St. Anthony at Panjora village in Gazipur
district on Feb. 1.
Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka presided over a Mass for devotees. Thousands waited
in long queues to pay respect to the saint by touching and kissing his statue.
Many offered St. Anthony manots (gifts for fulfilling a wish) in the form of
candles, ornaments, money, pigeons and rabbits.
to the feast day, the shrine held nine-day novena prayers and Masses that drew
thousands of devotees.
officials say the increased number of pilgrims resulted from better management
including expansion of the pilgrimage site, added security and low-cost food as
well as the appointment of a first resident spiritual rector.
Archdiocese of Dhaka appointed diocesan Father Leonard Poresh Rozario, 72, to
offer spiritual care to the shrine and pilgrims all year round in response to
long-standing demands from devotees. The priest joined the shrine on Jan. 18.
am happy to join St. Anthony’s shrine to assist individual and group pilgrims
who come here to pray and pay honor to the great saint. I am able to help them
in taking part in confessions, meditation, reflection and to offer spiritual
solace for various kinds of problems and petitions they have,” said Father
a long time, I have preferred a monastic life, a life in seclusion. I believe
the new role suits me best.”
Begum, 40, a Muslim mother of two, traveled from Munshiganj district to the
shrine to thank the saint for “incredible blessings” she received.
five years after my marriage, I failed to conceive. I came here to pray and promised
to offer the saint a manot if my wish was fulfilled. Today I am a proud mother
of two and I try to attend the pilgrimage every year,” she told ucanews.com.
mother Rosaline Gomes, 56, traveled from Rajshahi district with five pairs of
pigeons but declined to disclose her secret wish.
had my wish fulfilled through the intervention of St. Anthony. Anyone who seeks
favor from the saint with great faith will never go empty-handed,” she told
pilgrimage is the largest annual Christian gathering in Muslim-majority
Bangladesh, where Christians account for less than half a percent of the
population of more than 160 million.
historians believe devotion to St. Anthony at Panjora dates back centuries.
Legend has is that a small statue of St. Anthony appeared and reappeared
several times in the place where the shrine is now located, and people started
going there to pray. It is believed Dom Antonio, a Bengali Catholic preacher,
also helped popularize the shrine.
Antonio was a son of a Hindu king kidnapped by pirates and sold to a Portuguese
Catholic missionary who converted him. Antonio learned catechism, language
skills, music and dance and became a prolific preacher. He is credited with
converting thousands of lower-class Hindus in the Bhawal area of Dhaka, a
Catholic stronghold that covers the shrine.
Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal, on Aug. 15, 1195. He was ordained a
priest and later became a Franciscan friar. He was widely acclaimed for his
outstanding preaching, undying love for the poor and sick and expert knowledge
than ten militants affiliated with the Taliban and ISIS Khurasan groups have
been killed during the operations of the Afghan and Coalition Forces in various
provinces of the country.
201st Silab Corps in a statement said two ISIS Khurasan militants were killed
in an airstrike of the Coalition Forces in Khogyani district of Nangarhar
209th Shaheen Corps in the North said two anti-government armed militants were
killed and two others were wounded during the operations of the Afghan National
Defense and Security Forces in Yaka Pista and Qara Qol areas of Qaisar district
the meantime, another Taliban militant identified as Talib Shah surrendered to
the Afghan forces in Sayad district of Sar-e-Pul province, the 209th Shaheen
the other hand, the 205th Atal Corps in the South said the Afghan forces
carried out artillery strikes against the hideouts of militants in Mizan
district of Zabul, leaving 8 militants dead and 2 others wounded.
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