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Islamic World News (25 May 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


The Establishment of Al-Azhar University in India to Promote the Movement of Ibn-e-Taymiyyah, the Founder of Wahhabism


















Canadians can now tack on stamps that celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid, alongside ones that mark Christmas and Chinese New Year.

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The Establishment of Al-Azhar University in India to Promote the Movement of Ibn-e-Taymiyyah, the Founder of Wahhabism

Twin Explosions in East Jakarta Part of Global Terrorist Attack: Police

Pope Urges Trump to Work for Peace As Smiles Replace Spats

Canada Post Eid Stamp Issued To Recognize 2 Important Muslim Holidays

Certain States Boosting Takfiri Firepower: Senior Iranian Official

 

India

The Establishment of Al-Azhar University in India to Promote the Movement of Ibn-e-Taymiyyah, the Founder of Wahhabism

Over 3000 Mosques in Tamil Nadu to Get 4900 Tonnes Rice During Ramzan

Babri Masjid case: Court to frame charges against Advani, Joshi, Uma tomorrow

J&K: PDP worker critical after terrorists fire shots at him

Pakistan's video of 'destroyed' Indian post is fake: Indian Army

Arrested IM man could spill the beans on terror network

Muslims to participate in Yoga Day event in UP

Assam: BJP leader, two others get life term for terror funding

2008 Ahmedabad Blasts: 80th arrest, Accused held in Kozhikode

Grenade attack at police camp in J&K's Shopian, one hurt

UN denies Pakistan's claim that India fired at a UN vehicle along LoC

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Southeast Asia

Twin Explosions in East Jakarta Part of Global Terrorist Attack: Police

Islamic State-Linked Militants Besiege Philippine City

Indonesia: Suspected suicide bomber, cop dead in explosion in capital Jakarta

Penang zakat officers accused of embezzlement transferred to state Islamic council

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Europe

Pope Urges Trump to Work for Peace As Smiles Replace Spats

UN Experts Slam Riyadh for Erasing 'Cultural Heritage' In Shia Town

Morocco reopens centuries-old religious schools to enrich cultural heritage

UK police hunt Manchester bomber's network, angered by U.S. leaks

Britain, Libya make terror arrests after Manchester attack

London 'irritated' by US leaks in Manchester attack

Troops deploy as Britain goes on top terror alert

Rodrigo Duterte counting on Russia's help to fight terrorism after IS-linked militants besiege city

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North America

Canada Post Eid Stamp Issued To Recognize 2 Important Muslim Holidays

US Says Pakistan Harbouring Terrorists; Hints at Reducing Military Aid to Islamabad

Trump delays decision on troops increase in Afghanistan: NYT Report

US intelligence leak 'undermines' UK bomb investigation

Canadian groups are lashing out about Muslim prayer in schools

Americans Criticize US Administration over Friendship with Saudi Arabia, Animosity toward Iran

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Mideast

Certain States Boosting Takfiri Firepower: Senior Iranian Official

Israelis Mark 50 Years since Capture of Jerusalem’s Old City

Yemen: New Massacre In Taiz As Houthis Shell Residential Areas

Rouhani, Erdogan seeking new chapter in Iran-Turkey ties

Several US Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Yemeni Tribal Fighters

Yemeni army controls the central bank in Taiz

Erdogan: We’ll wish Turkey-based German troops happy journey if they leave

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Africa

Islamic Radicalization in West Africa Worries the Church

IS Kills Five In First Suicide Attack in Somalia

3 Kenyan police killed in suspected al-Shabaab bombing

Combating an imported extremism

Tanzania: Muslims Asked to Avoid Evils in Holy Month

31 refugees die when overcrowded vessel capsizes off Libya

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South Asia

Portrait of Myanmar’s ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’ Chills Cannes

Sri Lanka Police ‘Failing to Stop Anti-Muslim Attacks’

Suu Kyi defends slow-moving peace process

Senior Afghan defense officials jailed over Kabul military hospital attack

Afghan and Indian officials meet in Moscow, hold talks on key issues

Karzai met Russian Ambassador to discuss ongoing current Afghan situation

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Arab World

Egypt Blocks 21 Websites, Including Al Jazeera: State News Agency

Saudi Man Performs Umrah for Trump

Syrian army says ISIS ‘minister of war’ killed

Arab tribes in Iraq’s Mosul demand Iran halt interferences

Bahraini clerics announce national mourning to honor Diraz victims

Syrian Army Starts Six Fronts in Badiyeh Region to Face Terrorists

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

Qatar probes 'shameful' hacking as Gulf split exposed

Turkey to Form 10,000-Fighter Army to Battle Kurdish Forces in Northern Syria

Bahrain authorities arrest 286 wanted terrorists

Saudi King conveys stance in support of UK against terrorism

Bahrainis continue protests in defiance of regime warning

Saudi Arabia defends Bahrain’s deadly crackdown

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Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif at Riyadh Summit: Pakistan Deeply Committed To Muslim World's Unity and Harmony

Monks visiting Pakistan laud hospitality

2 terrorists executed

US drone kills 3 militants in NWA

Disappointed by governor’s ‘inaction’, JI resumes protest against KE

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/the-establishment-of-al-azhar-university-in-india-to-promote-the-movement-of-ibn-e-taymiyyah,-the-founder-of-wahhabism/d/111284


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The Establishment of Al-Azhar University in India to Promote the Movement of Ibn-e-Taymiyyah, the Founder of Wahhabism

(Translated by New Age Islam Edit Bureau)

May 25, 2017

India has been the cradle of education; however, it is our misfortune that our country is lagging behind in the field of education.  I hope that after the establishment of Al-Azhar University in India, the golden age of education will return. While delivering the presidential remarks, the founding president of Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari expressed these views during the opening program of Al-Azhar University held at Hotel River View, Jamia Nagar New Delhi. He said “Al-Azhar University of India and its associates ought to adopt the path of Jamia Islamia Madina and the movement of Ibn Taymiyyah in order to reform their beliefs”.

During this program, majority of the participants were from among the followers of Wahhabism while some were from Deobandism. The most prominent of them were the principal of Jamia Islamia Sanabil, Maulana Nisar Ahmad Sanabli, Professor Doctor Sohrab, the president of All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat Naved Hadim, Professor Qazi Abdul Majid, Maulana Amanullah Madani, Maualana Abdur Rahman Salafi, Professor Akhtarul Wasey, Maulana Amir Abdur Rashid Bastawi, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Madani, the secretary of Jamat-e-Islami Hind  Maulana Muhammad Rafiq Qasmi, Maulana Sayed Athar Husain Dehlvi, Maulana Firoz Ahmad Nadwi, Maulana Shamim Ahmad Nadwi, Maulana Abdus Sattar Salafi, Doctor Zillur Rahmad Taimi, the Vice-president of Jamia Imam Ibn Taymiyyah Chandan Barah Doctor Muhammad Arshad Faheem Madani, Mufti of Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees Hind Maulana Jameel Ahmad Madani etc. (See: Roznama Hamara Samaj, May 22, 2017) 

A report published in Indian Express says “the Indian Government will pay all the cost of the project”.

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Twin Explosions in East Jakarta Part of Global Terrorist Attack: Police

May 25, 2017

Jakarta. Two suspected suicide bombers who killed three policemen and injured 10 other people near a bus station in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta on Wednesday (25/05) night, acted in what is purported to be a global terrorist attack, police said.

The police linked the blasts to recent attacks in Manchester, United Kingdom, and Marawi in the Philippines.

"We have actually been prepared, but we didn't know where exactly the attack will take place and when," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto told reporters.

"It's part of a global attack that connects several groups in several places. First the explosions in Manchester during the Ariana Grande show, then in the Philippines, where Islamic State-linked groups carried out an attack in Marawi," Setyo said.

 As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the Jakarta blasts.

http://jakartaglobe.id/news/twin-explosions-east-jakarta-part-global-terrorist-attack-police/

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Pope urges Trump to work for peace as smiles replace spats

May 25, 2017

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis urged Donald Trump to use his US presidency to promote peace around the world as the two leaders swapped sparring for smiles in their first face-to-face meeting, at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Trump's audience with the 80-year-old pontiff, a keenly-anticipated highlight of his first overseas tour, lasted just under half an hour and concluded with both men beaming, for the cameras at least.

"He is something," the president later said of his host. "We had a fantastic meeting."

The Vatican described the discussions as "cordial" and stressed the two men's joint opposition to abortion and shared concern for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. There was no mention from either side of the two men's profound differences on climate change, migration, the death penalty and other issues.

Trump told his host as he left: "Thank you. Thank you. I won't forget what you said."

The pope had presented Trump with a medallion engraved with an olive tree, the international symbol of peace.

"I give it to you so you can be an instrument of peace," he said in Spanish. "We can use peace," Trump replied.

In a lighter moment, Francis referred to Trump's imposing bulk by asking his wife Melania, "What do you feed him on? Potica?" - a reference to a calorie-laden cake from Slovenia, Melania's country of birth.

Trump presented the pope with several gifts, including a collection of first editions by Martin Luther King and a bronze sculpture.

Francis gave Trump copies of the three major texts he has published as pope, including one on the environment which urges the industrialised world to curb carbon emissions or risk catastrophic consequences for the planet. Trump, who has threatened to ignore the Paris accords on emissions and described global warming as a hoax, vowed to read them.

In the last year, the two men have swapped jibes and debated on subjects ranging from migration to unbridled capitalism, as well as the environment.

A Vatican statement highlighted "the joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience." Since his November election, Trump has pleased the Catholic hierarchy by axing rules protecting tax-funded financing of family planning clinics that offer abortions.

Melania, who is a Catholic, and daughter Ivanka were both dressed all in black with lace veils, in keeping with traditional protocol that is no longer obligatory for visiting female dignitaries. The audience took place in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, the lavish papal residence that Francis does not use, having opted instead for modest lodgings in a guesthouse for visiting clerics.

Afterwards, the Trumps were given a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica.

Melania meanwhile visited a children's hospital and Ivanka met women trafficked from Africa for the sex trade on a visit to the St Egidio religious community.

Francis and Trump's past spats include the pope describing plans for a border wall with Mexico as not Christian and Trump evoking a possible Islamist attack on the Vatican which would make the pontiff glad to have him as president.

But there have also been conciliatory moves. In 2013, Trump tweeted that "the new pope is a humble man, very much like me" while Francis had promised to judge the man not the image.

Wednesday's meeting nevertheless provided a reminder of their differences in style, Trump arriving at the Vatican in a jumbo-sized SUV that couldn't have been further removed from the modest Fiats and Fords Francis prefers.

http://nation.com.pk/national/25-May-2017/pope-urges-trump-to-work-for-peace-as-smiles-replace-spats

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Canada Post Eid Stamp Issued To Recognize 2 Important Muslim Holidays

05/24/2017

Canadians can now tack on stamps that celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid, alongside ones that mark Christmas and Chinese New Year.

Canada Post has issued a special one for Eid, two festivals meaningful to Muslims.

At an unveiling in Richmond Hill, Ont. Tuesday, the organization said it made sense to add a stamp commemorating the holidays.

"As Canada reaches its 150th birthday, our stamp committee reflected on some themes that need to reflect the Canada of today," Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra said, as quoted by IQRA.

The colourful new stamp, which features light and dark blue and orange with a yellow geometric pattern over top, was inspired by Islamic architecture, according to Canada Post.

The Arabic text inside the pointed arch, which symbolizes the importance of beauty, unity and light, reads "Eid Mubarak," which translates to "Have a happy Eid."

Eid al-Fitr falls at the end of June in Canada and signifies the end of Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, marks the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac to obey God. Both festivals can include special prayers, extravagant meals and visits with loved ones.

For more than 50 years, the postal service issued a Christmas stamp around the holidays. More recently, it started issuing two every year, one to celebrate the Christian celebration and the other a secular holiday one.

It has also issued a Chinese New Year stamp every year since 1997, according to the National Post, and those to mark Black History Month since 2003.

The Eid stamp isn’t the only new religious design you’ll see popping up at postal outlets this year.

The service will issue a Hanukkah stamp, as well as two stamps marking Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

The new designs will be available for the next three years, and may become permanent if they sell well, Canada Post’s director of stamp services Jim Phillips told the Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/05/24/canada-post-eid-stamp_n_16784664.html

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Certain States Boosting Takfiri Firepower: Senior Iranian Official

May 24, 2017

A senior Iranian official says a number of countries, either directly or indirectly, side with the Takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria, helping arm the outfits to devastating effects.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the remarks at a high-level international security summit underway in Russia’s northwestern city of Tver.

He further said that those countries would either directly transfer the weapons to the Takfiri terrorists or hand them over to the so-called “moderate” militants, whom they have propped up themselves before the arms are taken away by the terrorists.

This, he said, is the reason why the weapons, which are in the hands of the Takfiri terror groups of Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front), are more advanced than the ones possessed by the Syrian and Iraqi armies.

Shamkhani reiterated that Iran’s ongoing provision of military advisory support to the Iraqi and Syrian armies was taking place at their respective governments’ request.

Acting on Damascus’ plea, Iran has been cooperating with Russia to push back terrorists in Syria. This, he said, has helped inflict serious losses on terrorist camps, separated them from the ranks of the armed Syrian opposition, and eventually contributed to the conclusion of last year’s ceasefire with the opposition.

Had the United Nations acted more decisively in the face of the invasion by the US and some of its Middle Eastern and North African allies, the region would not be witnessing such conflagration today, the official asserted.

“Isn’t the time ripe for putting an end to these defeated and pernicious policies?” he asked, stressing that a failure to resolve the regional crises through political means would result in further warfare.

The official concluded his remarks by urging action against the terrorists’ attempts to establish their reign over the cyberspace.

The summit started on Tuesday and would last until Thursday, with issues of global information security and fight against international organized crime high on the agenda.

“Representatives of over 90 states arrived at the meeting… Within the conference, over 10 meetings between the representatives of the delegations have been held,” said Evgeny Anoshin, the spokesman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF). --------

Presidential aides, ministers and intelligence officials are among the summit attendees.

It is the eighth such event in Russia. The first security summit was held in the Russian resort of Sochi in 2010 with participants from 44 countries while the 2016 conference gathered representatives from 75 states in the city of Grozny.

SCRF Secretary Nikolai Patrushev hailed the increase in the number of participants over the past years, adding that 16 European states were present in the 2017 conference “despite EU officials not recommending participating, they (intelligence agency representatives) personally took the decision [to come].”

On the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday, Shamkhani, who is heading the Iranian delegation to the Tver summit, held a four-way meeting with Patrushev, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Falih Fayaz and head of Syria’s National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523017/Russia-Tver-Iran

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India

 

Over 3000 Mosques in Tamil Nadu to Get 4900 Tonnes Rice During Ramzan

May 24, 2017

Over 3,000 mosques in Tamil Nadu will get 4,900 tonnes of free rice for preparation of gruel during the fasting month of Ramzan starting later this month. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palniswami has given the approval for the supply of rice to the mosques for its use during the holy month.

The state government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 12.60 crore for this allocation, an official release said. The scheme was started by late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and has been well-received by the Muslim community, it said.

Subsequently, pleas were made from various quarters for supply of rice this year too. Palaniswami has directed that the necessary approvals for the supply of rice to various mosques be given and the district collectors have been asked to do the same after verifying documents, the release said.

The AIADMK’s mouthpiece ‘Dr Namadhu MGR’ in its edition in 2015 had said a Pakistani TV channel had welcomed the scheme during that year and suggested the same be implemented in its country.

“A Pakistan television channel ‘SAMAA’ has aired a news about chief minister Jayalalithaa’s scheme of free rice to make gruel during the holy month of Ramzan and it wanted its government to emulate it,” the party’s mouthpiece had said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/over-3000-mosques-in-tamil-nadu-to-get-4900-tonnes-rice-during-ramzan/

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Babri Masjid case: Court to frame charges against Advani, Joshi, Uma tomorrow

May 25, 2017

LUCKNOW: The special CBI court in Lucknow, which had started day-to-day hearing in the Babri Masjid demolition case last week, said on Wednesday that it would frame charges against former deputy PM LK Advani and 11 other BJP and RSS leaders on May 25 and 26 for their alleged role in conspiracy behind the razing of the structure on December 6, 1992.

While charges against Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Viany Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Vishnu Hari Dalmiya would be framed on May 26, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Dharma das and Dr Satish Pradhan would be charged a day before.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/babri-masjid-case-court-to-frame-charges-against-advani-joshi-uma-tomorrow/articleshow/58831952.cms

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J&K: PDP worker critical after terrorists fire shots at him

May 24, 2017

SRINAGAR: Terrorists shot and critically injured a worker of the ruling PDP in Barzullah area of the city on Wednesday evening, the police said.

Abdul Qayoom was shot at by terrorists at least three times from close range outside his home at around 8.10pm, a police official said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-pdp-worker-critical-after-terrorist-attack/articleshow/58828230.cms

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Pakistan's video of 'destroyed' Indian post is fake: Indian Army

May 24, 2017

NEW DELHI: A video Pakistan's army released yesterday, purportedly showing its army "destroying" an Indian post in Nowshera, is fake, said top Indian Army sources to ANI today.

"Video from Pakistan claiming to destroy Indian post is fake as Indian posts have walls thick enough to withhold fire of recoilless gun," said the sources.

Pakistan released this video yesterday, after the Indian Army said it recently destroyed Pakistani posts along the Line of Control (LoC) with "punitive fire assaults".

The Pakistani Army released the 87-second video on Twitter with a tweet saying "On 13 May 2017, India targeted innocent civilians. In befitting response Pak Army destroyed Indian posts in Nowshera."

This is what the official spokesperson of Pakistan's armed forces tweeted:

"The video is a fake", said the Indian army sources.

"The blast is from below the structure which usually happens in case of IED blasts and not explosion from artillery fire," they said.

The Indian Army Sources also pointed to what it called "editing marks" on Pakistan's video.

"Clear visibility of editing marks in the video," they said. : Army Sources say Pakistani video claiming Indian posts haven been destroyed is fake.

Indian army sources said yesterday that their "punitive" strikes recently were a message to Pakistan+ that the Army will take stronger action with increased frequency against any infiltration attempts from across the border.

The Indian Army said its strikes were along the Nowshera sector in Rajouri.

Read this story in Gujarati

"A recent action by our troops in the Naushera Sector has caused some damage to the Pak Army posts, which are supporting infiltrations. This is part of our overall strategy to counter terrorism," Additional Director General of Public Information Major Gen A K Narula told reporters today.

"With the mercury rising and snow-melting in the valley, the chances of infiltration increase from the Pakistani side. The Army is all geared up to counter such threats," Major General Ashok Narula told reporters in New Delhi.

"It was part of the plan to proactively dominate the LoC and counter-terrorism operations to curb infiltration," he added.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistans-video-of-destroyed-indian-post-is-fake-indian-army/articleshow/58825819.cms

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Arrested IM man could spill the beans on terror network

May 24, 2017

KOZHIKODE: The arrest of Shuhiab Pottanikkal, a key figure in the terror network of the Indian Mujahideen, is a major breakthrough for the investigating agencies as he could spill the beans on other fugitive terrorists.

Shuhiab was arrested from Karipur International Airport on Tuesday night after he was deported from Dubai where he has been living for the past nine years. Shuhaib hails from Kodinhi in Malappuram district and was a SIMI activist at the PSMO College, Thirurangadi.

His name first figured in the confession of E T Sainudheen alias Sathar Bhai, who was arrested in 2009 for his alleged connection with bomb blasts at various places in India. "We have issued look out circular on Shuhaib, who is the eighth accused in the case related to the recovery of pipe bombs from Koomankallu in Malappuram district in 1995," said a police officer. Sainudheen is the co-accused in the case.

Sainudheen had told the police that Shuhaib, who was in Dubai, used give financial help to him. It was Shuhaib who provided money to Sainudheen to set an electrical shop at Kondotty. In December 2007, Shuhaib called Sainudheen from Dubai and told that a person will come to meet him at Kuttippuram.

Sainudheen went to the railway station and received the person mentioned by Shuhaib. They held a meeting at a lodge in Kuttippuram and discussed various issues faced by Muslims in India. Later, Sainudheen realised the person sitting before him was Riyaz Bhatkal, the leader of the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen.

Riyaz wanted Sainudheen, who is an expert in electronics, to devise integrated chips (IC) to be used as timer devices in bombs. Riyaz said the IM wanted to avenge the killing of Muslims in Gujarat riots in 2002. It is alleged that the timer devices made by Sainudheen were used for the Ahmedabad blasts in 2008.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/arrested-im-man-could-spill-the-beans-on-terror-network/articleshow/58821617.cms

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Muslims to participate in Yoga Day event in UP

May 24, 2017

The International Yoga Day event in Lucknow on June 21 is likely to witness participation of Muslims in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “At least 300 Muslim men and women will participate in the International Yoga Day celebrations, which would be held in Lucknow’s Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan. The number of participants may go up,” Mahiraj Dhwaj Singh, national co-convener (organisation) of Muslim Rashtriya Manch for UP and Uttarakhand told said.

Spokesperson of All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Yasoob Abbas when contacted said, “We are open to the idea of participation in the International Yoga Day celebrations. We are exploiting all the options in this regard.” Syed Babar Ashraf, president of Sada-e-Sufiyaain Hind was of the view that if yoga is good for an individual’s health, then it must be practiced.

“We are all for yoga and will participate in the International Yoga Day festivities. Problem arises when religion is mixed with yoga. As far as we are concerned, there is no problem with yoga,” he said. On May 14, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reviewed the preparations for the event, which will be held on June 21. Prime Minister Modi along with 55,000 people are likely to participate in the event.

A UP government spokesperson said that Rajnath Singh met Adityanath to discuss and review the preparations of the International Yoga Day. Union Ayush minister Shripad Yesso Naik was present at the meeting. Adityanath said that for convenience of ordinary citizens, LED screens will be installed at different parks in the city, so that they could also participate simultaneously.

He also issued directions to hold a 28-day workshop for the participants prior to the International Yoga Day. The Union Ayush Ministry had proposed Lucknow as the venue for the main function for IDY celebrations this year. Earlier, the government was considering Bhopal, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Ranchi and Bengaluru as possible venues for the event.

The Union Ayush Ministry is also planning to organise a major yoga event in at least one city in each of the districts across the country.

The ministry zeroed in on Lucknow as the possible venue at a review meeting for the June 21 event. The official website of the Ayush ministry on its webpage pertaining to IDY also requests the people visiting the page to make the following pledge — “I pledge to make Yoga an integral part of my daily life.”

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/muslims-to-participate-in-yoga-day-event-in-up-modi-yogi-4672068/

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Assam: BJP leader, two others get life term for terror funding

by Samudra Gupta Kashyap

May 24, 2017

A SPECIAL court of the National Investigating Agency (NIA) here on Tuesday handed out life imprisonment to three people, including a militant-turned-BJP leader in Assam and government officials, as part of two cases of conniving to siphon off government money to fund a terrorist outfit in the state. On Monday, the court had convicted 15 people in the two cases — the first cases the NIA was entrusted with after it was formed in 2009.

The others were sentenced to jail terms of varying duration. Those sentenced for life term are Niranjan Hojai, a former self-styled commander-in-chief of the terror outfit DHD(J), who later surrendered, joined the BJP last year and got elected to the NC Hills Autonomous Council; Jewel Garlosa, a former self-styled chairman of DHD(J) and at present an independent member of the Hills Council; and Mohet Hojai, a former chief executive member of the Council.

The Assam BJP is examining the scope of moving Gauhati High Court to get Niranjan Hojai out of the tangle, state party spokesperson Bijan Mahajan said. Five people have been awarded separate jail terms of 10 years and 12 years under different Sections: R H Khan, deputy director in the state Social Welfare Department and OSD of the Hills Council; Phojendra Hojai, a contractor; DHD(J) member Ashringdao Warissa; Mizoram arms smuggler Vanlalchana; and Kolkata-based contractor Jayanta Kumar Ghosh.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/assam-bjp-leader-2-others-get-life-term-for-terror-funding-4670770/

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2008 Ahmedabad Blasts: 80th arrest, Accused held in Kozhikode

May 25, 2017

The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) late on Tuesday night arrested a person identified as Suhaib Pottanikkal from Kerala, who was wanted in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts cases. On Wednesday, he was produced before a metropolitan court which sent him to police custody till June 2. With the arrest of Pottanikkal, the DCB has arrested 80 accused over the years, while 18 are absconding. DCB officials said Potannikkal allegedly allegedly introduced Mohammed Ahmed Siddibapa alias Riyaz Bhatkal, a key accused in the cases, to Sainuddin and Sarfuddin who made electronic chips that were used in bombs planted in Surat. As many as 27 bombs were planted at various places in Surat, but they did not explode due to faulty chips. However, in Ahmedabad the series of blasts killed 56 people and left over 200 injured.

According to DCB officials, Pottanikkal left the country soon after the blasts. Following this, a red corner notice was issued against him. Officials said that they received information that he was returning via Kozhikode airport and arrested him on arrival.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/2008-ahmedabad-blasts-80th-arrest-accused-held-in-kozhikode-4672569/

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Grenade attack at police camp in J&K's Shopian, one hurt

May 24, 2017

SRINAGAR: Militants today targeted a police camp in Shopian district of Kashmir, lobbing a grenade in which a civilian was injured, police said.

The grenade was hurled towards the camp of the special operations group (SOG) of police at Imam Sahib in Shopian but the explosive missed the intended target and exploded on the roadside, a police official said.

He said a civilian, identified as Ishfaq Rashid, was injured in the grenade blast.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/grenade-attack-at-police-camp-in-jks-shopian-one-hurt/articleshow/58827267.cms

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UN denies Pakistan's claim that India fired at a UN vehicle along LoC

May 25, 2017

NEW DELHI: The United Nations (UN) has denied the Pakistani army's claim that Indian forces fired at a UN vehicle on the Line of Control (LoC) yesterday.

Press reports in Pakistan last night quoted the Pakistan army's media wing as saying that India targeted a UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) vehicle in the Khanjar Sector. The Pakistani army termed it a "ceasefire violation" by India and said it "effectively responded to silence Indian firing".

Not true, said the UN secretary general's spokesman at a press briefing late Wednesday night India time.

"I can say to you that this afternoon in Bhimber District ... UNMOGIP military observers accompanied by Pakistani army escorts heard gunshots in their vicinity. There is no evidence that the UNMOGIP military observers were targeted by the gunfire. No UN military observer was injured," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General.

Pakistan has been on the back foot since the Indian Army said on Tuesday it destroyed Pakistani posts on the LoC in "punitive strikes", in retaliation for infiltration attempts at the border.

Pakistan denied such assaults then released what the Indian Army called a "fake video" purportedly showing its army "destroying" an Indian post in Nowshera.

"Video from Pakistan claiming to destroy Indian post is fake as Indian posts have walls thick enough to withhold fire of recoilless gun," said the sources.

"The blast is from below the structure which usually happens in case of IED blasts and not explosion from artillery fire," they said.

The Indian Army Sources also pointed to what it called "editing marks" on Pakistan's video.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/un-denies-pakistans-claim-that-india-fired-at-a-un-vehicle-along-loc/articleshow/58835246.cms

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Southeast Asia

 

Islamic State-linked militants besiege Philippine city

MAY 24, 2017

Islamic State group-linked militants swept through a southern Philippine city, beheading a police chief, burning buildings, seizing a Catholic priest and his worshippers and raising the black flag of IS, authorities said Wednesday. President Rodrigo Duterte, who had declared martial law across the southern third of the nation, warned he may expand it nationwide.

As details of the attack in Marawi city emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia could be falling into a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

The violence erupted on Tuesday after the army raided the hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who has pledged allegiance to IS. He is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The militants called for reinforcements and around 100 gunmen entered Marawi, a mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people on the southern island of Mindanao, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday.

“We are in a state of emergency,” Mr. Duterte said Wednesday after he cut short a trip to Moscow and flew back to Manila. “I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere.”

Mr. Lorenzana, the defense secretary, said at least two soldiers and a police officer had been killed. But the numbers could change as more information comes out.

On Wednesday, Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.

The priest, Father Chito, and the others had no role in the conflict, said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

“He was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none,” Villegas said of Chito. “His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilized conflict.”

Villegas said the gunmen are demanding the government recall its forces.

On Tuesday evening, Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire Mindanao region home to 22 million people and vowed to be “harsh.”

“I warned everybody not to force my hand into it,” Duterte said on his plane en route to the Philippines. “I have to do it to preserve the republic.”

Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly. He has repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades—long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law. But human rights groups have expressed fears that martial law powers could further embolden Duterte, whom they have accused of allowing extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in a crackdown on illegal drugs.

Details from inside Marawi were sketchy because it appeared to be sealed off and without electricity.

Troops sealed off major entry and exit points to prevent Hapilon from escaping, military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press late Tuesday.

“We will conduct house—to—house clearing and do everything to remove the threat there. We can do that easily,” Ano said, but added it was more difficult in an urban setting because of the need to avoid civilian casualties.

Duterte met late Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he is counting on Russia to supply weapons for the Philippines to fight terrorism.

“Of course, our country needs modern weapons, we had orders in the United States, but now the situation there is not very smooth and in order to fight the Islamic State, with their units and factions, we need modern weapons,” he said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/islamic-state-linked-militants-besiege-philippine-city/article18572123.ece

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Indonesia: Suspected suicide bomber, cop dead in explosion in capital Jakarta

May 25, 2017

A suspected suicide bombing rocked a busy bus terminal in the Indonesian capital Jakarta Wednesday, killing one policeman in the latest terror attack to hit the Muslim-majority country.

Five police officers were also injured in the explosion at the bus station in the east of the city.

“There has been a bomb, for now we suspect it is a suicide bombing,” deputy national police chief Syafruddin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told TV station TVOne.

He said the bomber was killed along with one police officer, adding that five other policemen were injured.

“The police personnel had been providing security,” to people in the area, he added.

The terminal, Kampung Melayu, is a local hub served by minibuses and buses. It is a working class district of the city, not popular with foreigners or tourists.

Police and witnesses said earlier they had heard two blasts during the attack.

“At first I saw smoke and shattered glass, the earth was shaking, I was shocked. After a few minutes there was another blast,” a woman at the terminal, Rosmala, a shopkeeper who goes by only one name, told AFP.

Another eyewitness, Sultan Muhammad Firdaus, told local television station Kompas TV that he had heard two explosions.

“I was on a flyover and then I heard the first explosion... There was a 10 minute gap between the two explosions.”

“The explosions were quite loud, I could hear them clearly,” he said.

East Jakarta police chief Andry Wibowo said that the damage at the bus terminal indicated that the explosion had been “pretty big”.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, has long struggled with Islamic militancy and hundreds of radicals from the Southeast Asian state have flocked to fight with IS, sparking fears that weakened extremist outfits could get a new lease of life.

A gun and suicide attack in the capital Jakarta left four attackers and four civilians dead in January last year, and was the first assault claimed by the Islamic State group in Southeast Asia.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/indonesia-two-explosions-in-east-jakarta-near-bus-station-casualties-feared/story-mYe7Nz3mpJ0tGanqhEhRxH.html

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Penang zakat officers accused of embezzlement transferred to state Islamic council

May 24, 2017

GEORGE TOWN, May 24 — Five Penang Zakat Centre (ZPP) officers who have been released from remand in connection with the alleged embezzlement of tithe money in the state will be attached to Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) pending completion of the case.

State Islamic Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said all the officers were also told to go on leave before reporting for duty at MAINPP next week.

“The question on who among them will continue serving at the ZPP Office will be decided at the ZPP Board of Directors meeting next Monday,” he told a press conference here today.

Meanwhile, Abdul Malik said Penang Islamic Affairs Department director Datuk Sazali Hussain had been appointed as acting ZPP chief executive officer.

He said the ZPP had also set up a finance committee chaired by the state financial officer to conduct an investigation into the agency’s operations.

Abdul Malik said the committe comprised the ZPP’s audit committee, state’s internal chief auditor, state treasurer and MAINPP officer as the secretary.

“The committee has convened a meeting and will begin with their tasks as soon as possible,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-zakat-officers-accused-of-embezzlement-transferred-to-state-islamic

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Europe

 

UN experts slam Riyadh for erasing 'cultural heritage' in Shia town

May 24, 2017

United Nations experts have slammed the regime in Riyadh over razing an old part of a Shia Muslim-majority town in eastern Saudi Arabia, saying the move has erased cultural heritage and violated human rights.

Karima Bennoune, the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, said on Wednesday that Saudi authorities had moved ahead with razing old Awamiyah, known as al-Musawara, despite repeated calls by the United Nations to halt the demolition.

According to a statement issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bennoune accused Saudi security forces of "irreparably burning down" historic buildings and forcing residents to flee their homes.

"These destructions erase the traces of this historic and lived cultural heritage and are clear violations of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under international human rights law," the UN official said.

Some buildings in the area are more than 400 years old.

Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, also warned that the move in the Shia-populated region "constitutes a forced eviction under international human rights law."

On May 10, at least two people were killed when Saudi regime forces opened fire on local residents who were trying to block bulldozers from razing al-Musawara.

Security forces equipped with heavy weapons have been deployed in Eastern Province's Awamiyah since May 10, following fierce clashes between the regime forces and locals protesting against the destruction.

Photos and videos have been circulated on the net of bulldozers escorted by heavily armored military vehicles heading toward the demolition site.

A number of human rights groups and activists have expressed deep concern about the living conditions of people in Awamiyah who are suffering from a severe water shortage and are using private generators to produce electricity.

Eastern Province has been the scene of anti-regime protests since early 2011. Riyadh has stepped up security measures in the Shia-majority region. Protesters want freedom of speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination exercise by authorities.

Demonstrations intensified in the province after the January 2016 execution by the regime of respected Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523077/UN-Saudi-Arabia-Shia-cultural-heritage

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Morocco reopens centuries-old religious schools to enrich cultural heritage

017-05-25

RABAT, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Morocco has recently reopened a number of centuries-old religious schools after rehabilitation with the aim to enrich the tangible and intangible heritage of the North African kingdom.

Most of these schools, or Madrasas, were founded in the 13th century to teach Islamic studies, Arabic literature, logic and mathematics in a number of Moroccan old cities, particularly Fez, Marrakesh and Sale.

Funded by charitable endowments, Madrasas offered students from different parts of Morocco and neighbouring countries free tuition and dormitories.

For centuries, these Madrasas had been the kingdom's prestigious educational institutions, but with the establishment of modern universities, they have gradually lost their place and many of them were closed.

In recent years, Morocco has launched several programs to reopen a number of these educational institutions, especially in the city of Fez, Morocco's spiritual capital.

On Tuesday, three Madrasas in Fez, the Mohammedia, the Seffarine and the Bouaanania, were reopened after a year of restoration.

The three schools will be used to accommodate students of al-Qarawiyyin University, which is considered by UNESCO the oldest continuously operating degree-granting university in the world.

As part of the Madrasas rehabilitation program in Fez, three other schools, the Mesbahiya, the Sbaiyyine and the Sahrij Madrasa, are scheduled to be restored. They will provide dormitories to al-Qarawiyyin students. In addition, the Sahrij Madrasa will also be reserved for students enrolled in the Moroccan Calligraphy Department of Al Qarawiyyin.

The rehabilitation of Madrasas is an integral part of a large-scale rehabilitation program of the ancient medina of Fez founded in the 7th century.

Launched in 2013, the program involves restoring monuments and historical sites dating back to the period between the 10th and 13th century.

Among the monuments renovated are the al-Qarawiyyin library, which was opened last year and is considered one of the oldest libraries in the world, and Dar al Mouaqquit tower, which was recently reopened and is used to monitor the astronomical map.

Full report at:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-05/25/c_136312158.htm

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UK police hunt Manchester bomber's network, angered by U.S. leaks

May 25, 2017

Police scrambled to close down a network around the Manchester suicide bomber with arrests in Britain and Tripoli on Wednesday, as details about the investigation were leaked to U.S. media, infuriating authorities who fear a second attack is imminent.

British-born Salman Abedi, 22, who was known to security services, killed 22 people at a concert venue packed with children on Monday.

Authorities believe he had help in building the bomb, which photographs published by the New York Times showed was sophisticated and powerful, and that his accomplices could be ready to strike again.

Manchester police arrested five men and one woman on Wednesday, bringing the total held for questioning to seven, and searched multiple addresses in northern and central England.

Explosives were found at one site, the Independent reported, citing security service sources.

A source said British investigators were hunting for anyone who may have helped build the suicide bomb.

"I think it's very clear that this is a network that we are investigating," police chief Ian Hopkins said outside Manchester police headquarters.

"And as I've said, it continues at a pace. There's extensive investigations going on and activity taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak."

Abedi, who was born in Manchester in 1994 to Libyan parents, blew himself up on Monday night at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of a concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande attended by thousands of children and teenagers.

Police in Tripoli on Wednesday arrested Abedi's younger brother and his father, who said he did not expect the attack.

"I spoke to [Salman Abedi] about five days ago ... there was nothing wrong, everything was normal," Ramadan Abedi told Reuters, moments before he was arrested.

A spokesman for the local counter-terrorism force said his brother Hashem Abedi was arrested on suspicion of links with Islamic State and was suspected of planning to carry out an attack in the Libyan capital.

The first arrest made in Britain on Tuesday was reported by British and U.S. media to be Abedi's older brother.

Earlier, interior minister Amber Rudd said the bomber had recently returned from Libya. Her French counterpart Gerard Collomb said he had links with Islamic State and had probably visited Syria as well.

U.S. LEAKS

Authorities in Britain have become increasingly angered by U.S. leaks from the investigation, including the bomber's name on Tuesday and the photos of blood-stained fragments from the bomb on Wednesday.

British police chiefs said the breaches of trust between security service partners were undermining their efforts.

Rudd had earlier scolded U.S. officials for leaking details.

"The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources, and I have been very clear with our friends that should not happen again," she said.

But, hours after the warning, the New York Times published the detailed photographs.

A government source told the Guardian newspaper, "Protests have been lodged at every relevant level between the British authorities and our U.S. counterparts."

British Prime Minster Theresa May will meet U.S. President Donald Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, but officials said she would cut short the second leg of her trip to the G7 summit in Italy.

The Manchester bombing has raised concern across Europe.

Cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St. Petersburg, Berlin and London have suffered militant attacks in the last two years.

SOLDIERS ON THE STREETS

The 22 victims in Manchester included an eight-year-old girl, several teenage girls, a 28-year-old man and a Polish couple who had come to collect their daughters.

Britain's official terror threat level was raised to "critical", the highest level, late on Tuesday, meaning an attack was expected imminently.

But with just over two weeks to go until a national election, May's Conservatives and political parties said they would resume campaigning in the coming days.

The Manchester bombing was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London's transport network.

Rudd said up to 3,800 soldiers could be deployed on Britain's streets, taking on guard duties to free up police to focus on patrols and investigation. An initial deployment of 984 had been ordered, first in London and then elsewhere.

Soldiers were seen at the Houses of Parliament, May's Downing Street residence and at the London police headquarters at New Scotland Yard.

The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, a draw for tourists, was canceled because it requires support from police officers, which authorities decided was not a good use of resources given the threat level.

A source close to the bombing investigation told Reuters that the focus was on whether Abedi had received help in putting together the bomb and on where it had been done.

The bomb used in the attack appeared to contain carefully packed shrapnel and have a powerful, high velocity charge, according to leaked photographs from the investigation published by the New York Times.

The BBC reported that security services thought the bomb was too sophisticated for Abedi to have built by himself.

Police arrested three people in South Manchester, one woman in North Manchester, a man in the nearby town of Wigan, and another man in the central English town of Nuneaton.

CANCELED TOUR

Ariana Grande's representative said on Wednesday she was suspending her tour to assess the situation and to "pay our proper respects to those lost". The U.S. singer had been scheduled to perform two shows at London's O2 arena this week.

Chelsea soccer club said it had canceled a victory parade that had been set to take place on Sunday to celebrate its Premier League title.

Several high-profile sporting events are coming up in Britain, including the soccer FA Cup final at London's Wembley Stadium and the English rugby club competition final at Twickenham on Saturday and the UEFA Champions League final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on June 3.

Britain also has a national election scheduled for June 8.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/uk-police-hunt-manchester-bomber-s-network-angered-by-us-leaks

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Britain, Libya make terror arrests after Manchester attack

May 25, 2017

MANCHESTER -  Britain raced Wednesday to track down a militant network suspected of orchestrating the Manchester concert attack, as the suicide bomber’s father and brother were arrested in Libya and grisly information emerged of how he engineered the deaths of young pop fans.

British soldiers fanned out to guard key sites as investigators tried to piece together the last movements of bomber Salman Abedi, a Manchester-born university dropout who died at the scene of Monday’s explosion.

Images published by the New York Times showed a detonator that he was said to have carried in his left hand, shrapnel including nuts and screws, and the shredded remains of a blue backpack from low-cost British sportswear brand Karrimor.

Abedi’s bomb killed 22 people, including children as young as eight attending the performance by US pop star Ariana Grande. His upper torso was flung several metres beyond the immediate blast vicinity, the New York Times said, quoting experts as saying the device appeared to be fairly sophisticated.

A French minister said Abedi may have been radicalised in Syria. His parents had reportedly fled the now fallen regime of Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

His father and younger brother were detained in Libya, authorities there said, after the father reportedly insisted on Abedi’s innocence.

“It’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating,” Manchester police chief Ian Hopkins told reporters, with five people now under arrest.

A British minister said Wednesday it was “irritating” that details about the Manchester concert bombing had been leaked to US media before being released in Britain, saying she had spoken to US authorities.

“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity... the element of surprise,” Interior Minister Amber Rudd told BBC radio.

“So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”

Asked if the US authorities had compromised the investigation, she said: “I wouldn’t go that far. “But I can say that they are perfectly clear about the situation and that it shouldn’t happen again.”

North Korea has joined scores of other countries in sending condolences to Britain over the Manchester terror attack, state media said Wednesday.

Premier Pak Pong-Ju sent a message of sympathy to British Prime Minister Theresa May, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

“Noting the Korean people are sharing the pain of loss with the British people, the message hoped that the British government and people would eradicate the aftermath of the terrorist incident as early as possible,” it quoted the message as saying.

The British government announced a nationwide minute’s silence for Thursday morning in memory of those killed and the dozens wounded in Monday night’s bombing. A girl aged just eight was among the victims of the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group. It was the latest in a series of deadly incidents across Europe claimed by IS militants that have coincided with an offensive on the group’s redoubts in Syria and Iraq carried out by US, British and other Western forces.

Officials said the 22-year-old Abedi had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the massacre and warned another attack “may be imminent”. After arresting a 23-year-old man on Tuesday, police said they had taken three more men into custody on Wednesday in south Manchester, where Abedi lived.

A fifth man who was carrying a suspect package was then detained in Wigan, west of the city.

An armed raid was also carried out in Manchester city centre on Wednesday, during which police said a nearby railway line had to be “briefly closed”.

Elders at the mosque in the Manchester area that is believed to have been frequented by Abedi insisted that his actions were wholly alien to their preaching, and pointed the finger at online radicalisation.

“This act of cowardice has no place in our religion,” said Fawzi Haffar, a trustee at the Didsbury mosque, after he and other mosque leaders held their own minute’s silence.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Abedi had “likely” been to Syria after a trip to Libya, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris.

“In any case, the links with Daesh are proven,” he said, using a term for the Islamic State group, as Libyan authorities announced the arrest of one of Abedi’s two brothers in the country.

Hundreds of armed military personnel meanwhile fanned out to take up guard duties at the British parliament and Buckingham Palace - a highly unusual sight on the streets of Britain since the end of the Northern Ireland conflict in the 1990s.

In light of the Manchester attack, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance had to “step up and agree to do more in the fight against terrorism” at summit talks set for Thursday.

The summit is to be attended by US President Donald Trump, who has lambasted NATO for not doing more against extremism and who called those responsible for the Manchester bombing “evil losers”.

The NATO leaders are expected to formally sign up to the US-led coalition against Islamic State, according to one diplomatic source.

British Prime Minister Theresa May placed the country on its highest level of terror alert - “critical” - for the first time since June 2007, when it was sparked by an attack on Glasgow airport.

The Changing of the Guard, a military ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace popular with tourists, was cancelled on Wednesday and the Houses of Parliament suspended all public events.

Chelsea football club said they were cancelling their Premier League victory parade on Sunday saying it would be “inappropriate”. Manchester United players will wear black armbands at Wednesday evening’s Europa League final against Amsterdam club Ajax in Stockholm, where a minute’s silence will be held.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/britain-libya-make-terror-arrests-after-manchester-attack

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London 'irritated' by US leaks in Manchester attack

25 May 2017

Britain's powerful Home Secretary Amber Rudd scolded American counterparts Wednesday over the leaking of crucial details about the Manchester suicide bombing before they were released by British authorities.

Soon after her warning, the New York Times again scooped British authorities and other media by publishing photographs from the scene of remnants of the bomb, apparently taken by police investigators.

"The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity... the element of surprise," Rudd told BBC radio.

"So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again."

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/189982/czech-president-names-new-finance-chief-after-weeks-of-crisis

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Troops deploy as Britain goes on top terror alert

24 May 2017

Britain deployed soldiers to key sites Wednesday and raised its terror alert to the maximum after the Manchester suicide bombing by a local man of Libyan origin who may have been radicalised in Syria.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the massacre late Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

Investigators were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Manchester-born man of Libyan descent whose parents had reportedly fled the now fallen regime of Moamer Kadhafi.

After arresting a 23-year-old man on Tuesday, police said they had taken three more men into custody on Wednesday in south Manchester, where Abedi lived.

Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the bomber had "likely" been to Syria, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris.

Collomb told French television the suspect "grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalised and decided to carry out this attack".

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/189972/czech-president-names-new-finance-chief-after-weeks-of-crisis

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Rodrigo Duterte counting on Russia's help to fight terrorism after IS-linked militants besiege city

May 25, 2017

Islamic State group-linked militants swept through a southern Philippine city, beheading a police chief, burning buildings and seizing a Catholic priest and his worshippers.

President Rodrigo Duterte, declared martial law across a third of the nation as militants raised the IS flag.

The firebrand leader also warned he may expand it nationwide after 21 people died in clashes between militants and government forces in the southern city of Marawi.

Duterte met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and said he is counting on Russia to supply weapons to the Philippines to fight terrorism.

"Of course, our country needs modern weapons, we had orders in the United States, but now the situation there is not very smooth and in order to fight the Islamic State, with their units and factions, we need modern weapons," he said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Duterte has spoken highly of the Russian President who he has turned to help fight the Islamic State threat in his country.

However human rights groups have expressed concerns over Duterte declaring martial law fearing it will could lead to an abuse of power.

The President has already faced widespread criticism for his bloody crackdown on crime and drugs which has killed more than 7000 people.

His Russian counterpart has also faced mounting criticism from human rights groups on issues including gay rights and a government crackdown on dissidents.

As details of the attack in Marawi city emerged, fears grew that the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia could be falling into a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

The violence in Marawi erupted on Tuesday after the army raided the hide-out of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who has pledged allegiance to IS.

He is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The militants called for reinforcements and around 100 gunmen entered Marawi, a mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people on the southern island of Mindanao, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

"We are in a state of emergency," Duterte said after cutting short a trip to Moscow to fly back to Manila.

"I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere."

He declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire Mindanao region - home to 22 million people - and vowed to be "harsh."

"If I think that you should die, you will die," he said.

"If you fight us, you will die. If there is open defiance, you will die. And if it means many people dying, so be it."

But the President said he would not allow abuses and that law-abiding citizens had nothing to fear.

Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded, and added that he may declare martial law nationwide if he believes the group has taken a foothold.

Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a Catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.

The priest, Father Chito, and the others had no role in the conflict, said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

"He was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none," Villegas said of Chito.

"His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilised conflict." Villegas said the gunmen are demanding the government recall its forces.

Military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said 13 militants had been killed, and that five soldiers had died and 31 others were wounded.

Other officials said a security guard and two policemen were also killed, including the beheaded police chief.

Arevalo said troops had cleared militants from a hospital, the city hall and Mindanao State University. About 120 civilians were rescued from the hospital, the military said.

Thousands of people have fled the city, said Myrna Jo Henry, an emergency response official. She quoted another official as saying Marawi was like "a ghost town."

Broadcaster ABS-CBN showed people crammed inside and on top of public vehicles leaving the area, and some walking on foot with their belongings as they passed through a security checkpoint manned by soldiers.

Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.

He has repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law.

But human rights groups have expressed fears that martial law powers could further embolden Duterte, whom they have accused of allowing extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in his crackdown on illegal drugs.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise in commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

He is a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group and was wounded by a military air strike in January.

Troops sealed off major entry and exit points to prevent Hapilon from escaping, military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press late Tuesday.

"We will conduct house-to-house clearing and do everything to remove the threat there. We can do that easily," Ano said, but added it was more difficult in an urban setting because of the need to avoid civilian casualties.

He said the group erected Islamic State flags at several locations. Provincial Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong said late on Wednesday that more troops had arrived in the city, which was dark because 80 per cent was without electrical power.

"Hopefully, the military will be able to control the situation in Marawi city by tomorrow," he said.

While pursuing peace talks with two large Muslim rebel groups in the south, Duterte has ordered the military to destroy smaller extremist groups which have tried to align with the Islamic State group.

Full report at:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11863092

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North America

 

US says Pakistan harbouring terrorists; hints at reducing military aid to Islamabad

Chidanand Rajghatta

May 25, 2017

WASHINGTON: A top US intelligence official said on Tuesday that Pakistan is harbouring terrorists+ and using them as reserve in Afghanistan to counter India, even as the Trump administration has indicated it intends to cut down+ the dole and military freebies Islamabad has long thrived on.

"Pakistan views Afghanistan or desires for Afghanistan some of the same things we want: a safe, secure, stable Afghanistan. One addition, one that does not have heavy Indian influence in Afghanistan,'' Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats. Consequently, he said, ''they (Pakistan) hold in reserve terrorist organisations so that if Afghanistan leans towards India, they will no longer be supportive of an idea of a stable and secure Afghanistan that could undermine Pakistan interest."

"They view all of the challenges through the lens of an Indian threat to the state of Pakistan," Stewart explained, adding, "We've got to convince Pakistan that ... it is not in their interest to continue to host of Haqqani network, that we ought to be working together to go after those 20 terrorist organisations that undermine not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but all of the region.''

Stewart also informed lawmakers that "India has sought and continues to move to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive options to raise the cost to Islamabad for its alleged support to cross- border terrorism,'' while telling them that ''continued threat of high level terror attacks in India, violence in Kashmir and bilateral diplomatic recriminations will further strain India-Pakistan ties in 2017.''

The open hearing indictment of Pakistan as a terrorist state came even as the White House talked of ending freebies for a country that has bilked billions of dollars in foreign and military aid (more than $30 billion after 9/11, by some accounts) from the United States, but has continued to nurture and aid terror groups.

The Trump administration is now saying age of freebies is over and most US aid may now be converted to loans, part of its overall budget cuts and pay-for-yourself policy towards allies.

The White House move, being resisted by the State Department, calls for military aid to Pakistan being reduced from $ 265 million in 2018 to $ 100 million in 2018, in a total assistance of $344 million. This is drastic fall from the time the country belonged to the ''billion dollar club'' that includes Israel and Egypt, among the biggest recipients of US aid.

Aid to the latter two is not affected in the latest cuts, but the White House budget director Mick Mulvaney identified Pakistan as one of the countries for whom grants will be converted to loans.

"ur argument was instead of ... giving somebody US$100 million, we could give them a smaller number worth of loan guarantees and they could actually buy more stuff,'' Mulvaney said, adding that the State Department will have some flexibility to come up with a final plan, ''but we have proposed to move several countries from a direct grant program to a loan guarantee program.''

The move is seen as a big blow to a country that, for all its friendship with China, has thrived on billions in US dole for bulking itself up militarily against India, contributing to its bravado.

The US dialing down also comes on the heels of a perceived humiliation of Pakistan at the US-Islam summit in Riyadh that left many Pakistani commentators shrieking that the country's ''sacrifices'' in the war on terror and its self-proclaimed primacy in the Muslim world was not being recognized.

In hysterical outbursts on television, Pakistani anchors and talking heads have been fulminating that President Trump and his Saudi hosts insulted Pakistan by not allowing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to address the summit+ , even though Pakistan is the only Islamic nuclear power and is a ''front-line state in the war on terror'' that has suffered greatly from terrorism.

Many commentators are outraged that Trump specifically identified India among the victims of terror attacks and did not mention Pakistan (although the U.S President did mention broadly that most victims of terror were Muslims and Muslim nations).

The perceived slight, which included the US forsaking bilateral meeting with Pakistan even though Trump met with leaders of Afghanistan and Bangladesh, has caused a great deal of heartburn in the Pakistani commentariat, even as Washington has begun to talk more openly about Pakistan's backing of terror groups and the need to take punitive action.

Some moderate and progressive analysts, notably Rauf Klasra and Amir Mateen, argued that it is time Pakistan disabused itself of its fantasy of being a leader of the Muslim ummah on account of its nuclear arsenal, recognize that it was poor, broke, and disdained by rest of the world, and repaired ties with India to better its economy and its security.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-says-pakistan-harbouring-terrorists-hints-at-reducing-military-aid-to-islamabad/articleshow/58828656.cms

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Trump delays decision on troops increase in Afghanistan: NYT Report

May 25, 2017

ROME — According to New York Times, When President Trump landed in Saudi Arabia last Saturday on his first foreign trip, he brought with him a $110 billion arms deal. When he arrives at the NATO summit in Belgium on Thursday, he will bring mostly questions, many of them about the war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon is pushing to reinforce the Afghan army with up to 5,000 more American troops. Some administration officials expected Mr. Trump to make a decision on a deployment before the NATO meeting, which would have laid down a marker for the other alliance members.

But now the president’s decision has been delayed, officials said, after an intense debate erupted in the West Wing over the wisdom of pouring more soldiers into a 16-year-old conflict.

Mr. Trump, they said, wants to gauge what other NATO members are willing to contribute to the military effort before he makes any commitment. The United States is already spending $3.1 billion a month in Afghanistan — a number that aides say weighs on a president who has spoken about the need for greater burden-sharing from NATO allies.

The thornier question is how Mr. Trump will reconcile the split between his war cabinet — led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who both served in Afghanistan — and his political aides, among them his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who argue that a major deployment would be a slippery slope to nation building, something Mr. Trump has always shunned.

The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has not voiced an opinion on specific troop proposals, officials say. But he is critical of existing American policy in Afghanistan and views his role as making sure his father-in-law gets “credible options.”

Mr. Trump has given the military more leeway than his predecessor, President Barack Obama, signing off on aggressive early moves like commando raids in Yemen and the Tomahawk missile strike on Syria. But he has said little about Afghanistan, either as a candidate or as president, and his aides rarely include it on their list of foreign policy priorities.

“The questions they have to ask are: Is that additional force decisive? Are we going to win? Can we force a political settlement?” said Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff, who said he told Mr. Trump during the transition that the current policy in Afghanistan was failing.

“I don’t think it is unusual that they would be having a debate,” General Keane continued, “particularly given that we have a 16-year war. U.S. policies have largely driven us to a 16-year war.”

Senior Pentagon officials are broadly supportive of the American commanders’ request for several thousand additional troops in Afghanistan, but they acknowledge they face persistent questions, if not outright opposition, to the plans from certain corners of the White House.

In addition to the cost and the worries about nation building, critics doubt that President Ashraf Ghani will be any more effective than his predecessors in curbing the rampant corruption in his country that has siphoned off billions of dollars in American aid in the last decade.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump met Mr. Ghani in Saudi Arabia. A White House official said he commended the Afghan president’s “leadership in Afghanistan on fighting terrorism and implementing key reforms,” and praised the bravery of Afghan troops. But the statement said nothing about more American support.

National Security Council staff members are peppering their Pentagon colleagues with questions, expressing fears of costly, open-ended American troop commitments. Senior White House officials are demanding greater commitments from NATO allies before the United States sends more troops, officials said.

In what is perhaps a sign of this internal wrangling, Mr. Mattis told reporters on Friday that he had not yet sent a formal troop recommendation to the White House. “What I’ve done is I’ve gone to Afghanistan,” he said. “I’ve met President Ghani, I’ve met with the NATO representatives and I’ve met with our commanders in the field.”

With the NATO meeting this week, Mr. Mattis said the recommendations that he and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were putting together would be delivered “very, very soon.”

The international security force assisting the Afghan army has about 13,000 troops, of which about 8,400 are American soldiers. Pentagon officials said that 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces, could be sent.

Such a deployment would allow American advisers to train and assist a greater number of Afghan forces, and place American troops closer to the front lines at lower levels of in the chain of command. Those figures are broadly consistent with advice Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the top American commander in Afghanistan, gave Congress in February.

General Nicholson has warned lawmakers that the United States and its NATO allies faced a “stalemate” in Afghanistan, where the general has said he already faced a shortfall of a “few thousand” troops. Other commanders and experts on military planning say even that prognosis is too optimistic.

“The reality is that the Taliban have the initiative,” General Keane said. “They have the momentum. They attack when they want, where they want, and the outcome is usually successful for them.”

Deploying more troops would cost billions of dollars, and there is no guarantee of a clear victory over the Taliban, which controls much of the territory outside Afghan cities. The United States failed to force successful negotiations when it had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Yet without a strong American military role, the Taliban and more extreme groups like the Islamic State’s Afghan wing and the Haqqani Network would most likely gain ground, undermining Mr. Trump’s promise to destroy Islamic extremists, according to military officers and analysts.

“The Afghan army is taking the brunt of the fight against these transnational terrorists and the Taliban,” General McMaster said in a recent briefing. “And so we are working with our allies to figure out what more we can do to have a more effective strategy.”

As a commander in Afghanistan in 2010, General McMaster headed a task force that tried to root out endemic corruption in the government. That experience, former colleagues say, has persuaded him of the need for the United States to stay involved in the country. One of his current aides described his view of Afghanistan as “tempered optimism.”

Pulling back would put Mr. Trump at odds with generals he embraced and turned to for national security advice. It would also fly in the face of recommendations for more troops from the State Department, which is seeking to stabilize Mr. Ghani’s government, and the nation’s spy agencies, which rely on the military for security to carry out their covert missions inside Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan.

There are echoes, in the current debate, of the first year of the Obama administration, when Mr. Obama’s generals — led by David H. Petraeus and Stanley A. McChrystal — pushed for a large troop surge, rankling his political aides including Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, who complained that the generals were boxing in their commander in chief.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-May-2017/trump-delays-decision-on-troops-increase-in-afghanistan-nyt-report

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US intelligence leak 'undermines' UK bomb investigation

25 May 2017

British security officials on Wednesday slammed U.S intelligence services for leaking details of a major investigation launched in the U.K. into a deadly bombing in Manchester.

American officials passed to journalists fresh details of the probe into one of the worst terror attacks in the U.K. only hours after British Home Secretary Amber Rudd expressed frustration about the revelation of the main suspect’s identity.

The New York Times published eight photographs of what appeared to be evidence taken by British forensic after the suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the foyer area of Manchester Arena. The blast killed 22 people Monday night.

The newspaper described the photos as "law enforcement images" but did not explain how they were obtained.

The leak, however, "undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims," the U.K.'s National Police Chiefs' Council said in a statement Wednesday.

"This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation," it said.

It said it valued its relationships with "trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world", and this allowed "privileged and sensitive information" to be shared in the fight against terrorism.

"When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families,” it added.

On Tuesday, U.S. news outlets revealed the identity of Salman Abedi as the main suspect in the attack, despite British security services’ caution regarding the secrecy of the ongoing investigation.

British media reported Abedi’s identity only after it was shared by the Greater Manchester Police a few hours later.

Rudd described the leaks as irritating and said she had made it clear to the U.S. that it should not happen again. The New York Times, however, published forensic photos hours after her remarks.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the leaks were “arrogant, wrong and disrespectful to Greater Manchester” in a tweet in which he also said he previously “complained to acting US Ambassador about leaks,” and “he was assured they would stop but they haven’t”.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/189989/us-intelligence-leak-undermines-uk-bomb-investigation

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Canadian groups are lashing out about Muslim prayer in schools

May 24, 2017

By Kristina Jovanovski

Threats of burning down a mosque, a torn-up Quran, protests against supposed Muslim indoctrination — these are just some of the incidents in a community in Canada that make Shireen Ahmed fear for her children’s safety.

What started as a conversation about prayers last September flared into bitter arguments and protests among residents of the Peel region, just west of Toronto.

On one side, Muslim students want to be able to pray at school, which they’ve long been allowed to do under Ontario law. On the other, groups of residents say religion has no place in Canadian schools — but some activists are incensed about Islamic prayer, in particular.

During a Peel school board meeting in March, one person even tore up a Quran and reportedly stomped on it, while another man called Islamic text “poison” and told Muslims to “get out.”

These are of some of the latest instances that are testing the image of inclusion and harmony that Canada has projected lately. When Syrians fleeing war were turned away elsewhere, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted them at the airport with winter coats. When President Donald Trump banned refugees, Trudeau again said Canada would welcome them, tweeting, “Diversity is our strength.”

But lately, Ahmed, 40, a writer and sports activist, says the harmony is not so evident.

“Is there a heightened sense of anxiety among residents? I’d say yes, absolutely. Is there a tension, a nervousness of Muslims in the community? Absolutely,” she says.

Ahmed is especially concerned for her 15-year-old daughter. She took her to self-defense courses before her daughter started wearing a headscarf, a hijab, a couple of years ago.

Ahmed is less afraid for her tall and athletic 17-year-old son, but she still worries he could find unwanted attention.

“He has a scruffy beard, he has a name that is identifiably Muslim, he’s a brown kid, so immediately he’s racialized,” she says.

Right to pray in school

The mix of religion and public education has long been a prickly topic.

Ontario provincial law requires schools to accommodate students’ religion. “Education providers are responsible for accommodating creed-related needs to the point of undue hardship,” the Ontario Human Rights Commission said in a statement in March.

Schools in Peel have been providing Muslim students a space for Friday prayers for 20 years. The school board stresses that it is not promoting or teaching any religion.

But debate in Peel broke out this year over how to supervise student prayer time. When the school board tried to introduce tighter monitoring of prayer selection, some Muslim students complained of feeling under suspicion by education officials and said they want the freedom to use whatever verses they choose.

Some opponents of religious accomodation insist they are not targeting Islam.

Ram Subrahmanian, of the group Keep Religion Out Of Our Public Schools or KROOPS, says he is against all religious practice at schools.

“You cannot expect the public system to meet the requirements of your religion. As Canadians, we are secular, we are accepting and we are tolerant but that doesn’t mean that we will allow others to impose themselves on us,” says Subrahmanian, whose youngest child is in the last year of high school in Peel.

"As Canadians, we are secular, we are accepting and we are tolerant but that doesn’t mean that we will allow others to impose themselves on us."

He says his group will take the school board to court because he believes prayers at school are unconstitutional and the board can’t speak on matters of religion in schools.

Another group at the demonstrations, the Concerned Parents of Canada, echoed KROOPS sentiment in an emailed response, stating that religious practices segregate students.

In a statement, the school board said it is following Ontario’s religious accommodation rules and criticized the Islamophobic tones of the campaign.

“We are also appalled as a board by the anti-Muslim rhetoric and prejudice we have seen on social media, read in emails, and heard first-hand at our board meetings. It has caused some of our students to feel unsafe, to feel targeted,” the statement said.

One group that does say it is specifically against Islam is Rise Canada.

“We’re against any prayers, but of course it’s worse if it’s Islamic prayers … Islam is clearly a violent, misogynistic ideology,” says Ron Banerjee, an adviser to the group. Banerjee spoke at a Peel school board meeting even though he does not live in the area.

In April, an imam who supported students during the prayer debate posted on Facebook that he received death threats, as well as threats to burn down his mosque in Mississauga.

Such threats are especially worrisome considering that, just three months before, six people were shot dead at a mosque in Quebec, allegedly by an extremist who supported President Trump and French nationalist Marine Le Pen. A Go Fund Me page is now online raising money for more security at the Mississauga mosque.

Muslim leaders say Islamophobia has been a serious problem in Canada years before the debate over prayers at school — and is on the rise.

A map by the National Council of Canadian Muslims showing reported anti-Muslim incidents details 12 cases in 2013 and 29 in just the first four months of 2017, although it is hard to know whether the increase is partly due to more people reporting hate crimes.

Islamophobia and racism are not new in Canada, says Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, a PhD candidate at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who is researching the experiences of Muslims in Canada.

“The only new thing is that people are feeling a bit more comfortable” with public displays of hate, says Ghaffar-Siddiqui, who lives in Peel. “We’ve always had a level of political correctness in Canada where people tend not to say what they really feel.”

Although not the only factor, recent political discourse — by anyone from President Trump to Canadian nationalists, to far-right Islamophobes worldwide — is partly to blame for enabling people to go public with their prejudices, according to the researcher.

“They feel supported in their views. So now they are coming out and saying what they’ve been probably feeling for a while,” Ghaffar-Siddiqui says. “When you have people in positions of leadership” who single out minorities negatively, she adds, “You’ll get people following and it encourages them, it makes them feel emboldened, empowered.”

Tip line for 'barbaric cultural practices'

During Canada’s 2015 election, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper campaigned to force women to remove their face-covering niqabs during citizenship ceremonies, as well as to set up a tip line for “barbaric cultural practices.”

Conservative Party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has suggested immigrant applicants be screened for “anti-Canadian values.”

In March, Leitch attended a Keep Religion Out Of Our Public Schools event, where Banerjee spoke out about what he claimed was Islamic indoctrination and "Sharia-creep," moments before she entered. Leitch’s spokesperson said she did not know he would be there and that Leitch was supporting secularism at public schools.

“They’re really not even debates, they’re simply Islamophobia. It’s anti-Muslim sentiment … couched in a concern about religion in schools,” says Amira Elghawaby, the communications director for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Full report at:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-05-24/canadian-groups-are-lashing-out-about-muslim-prayer-schools

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Americans Criticize US Administration over Friendship with Saudi Arabia, Animosity toward Iran

May 24, 2017

The Los Angeles Times’ readership questioned Washington’s claims of supporting democracy and social freedoms worldwide, asking why the US opts for amity and economic reciprocity with Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, but antagonizes democratic Iran.

The reactions were published in the paper on Tuesday under the title, “Iran just held an election. So why is the theocratic monarchy Saudi Arabia our friend?”

A reader said Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, while Iran just held a presidential election. The Saudis ban the Bible, while Christians and Jews have reserved seats in the Iranian parliament. Saudi money financed the Sept. 11 attacks, while no terrorist attack in the US has been linked to Iran. More than half of all Iranian university students are women, and in Saudi Arabia, women are not even allowed to drive.

Another added that Trump urges a greater fight against terrorism, but he fails to point out that most of the Sept. 11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia. For another, he lashes out against extremism, but he ignores that Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS or Daesh) have derived much of their strength from Wahhabism, which is supported by the Saudi royals.

Some of the readers made mention of Al-Saud money and oil, while some other stressed that Riyadh is the friend of the US president, not the People of the United states.

Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia last week on the first leg of a nine-day tour, which then took him to Israel. According to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the $110 billion arms deal signed by Saudi King Salman and Trump on Saturday was a component of $350 billion in economic and military investments between the two countries over the next 10 years.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 14,100 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has driven the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster.

Besides Riyadh intervention in Yemen, the US and Saudi Arabia, along with a number of their regional allies, stand accused of providing weapons and funding various militant groups wreaking havoc in countries like Syria and Iraq.

Just the day that Washington and Riyadh signed an arm deal, President Hassan Rouhani was officially named as the winner of Iran's election to maintain power for another 4-year term in office.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960303001532

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Mideast

 

Israelis mark 50 years since capture of Jerusalem’s old city

25 May 2017

Thousands of Israelis marched through east Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday to commemorate 50 years since the Jewish state seized control of it in the Six-Day War.

More than 60,000 people were expected to take part in the Jerusalem Day event, culminating in celebrations at the Western Wall, police said, up from between 30,000 to 40,000 in previous years. The wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Singing, dancing and waving blue-and-white Israeli flags, crowds of mainly religious Jews marched through the lanes of Palestinian areas, while some crossed the walled Old City’s Jewish Quarter.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said “several hundred” police officers were deployed to keep the peace. A few hundred Israeli peace activists held a protest against what they branded the “March of Hatred”.

Ari Fuld, an Israeli participant in the anniversary celebrations, carrying a handgun, said it was a “miraculous day” for Jews. “Today we are celebrating the unification of Jerusalem. Before 1967, there was a wall and Jews could not enter any of the gates, let alone pray at the Western Wall.”

Clashes ahead of the march

Clashes broke out at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City ahead of the march as police dispersed Palestinian protesters demanding an end to the occupation of east Jerusalem.

Hossam, a Palestinian teenager who did not want to give his surname, said he wanted to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The site is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was seized from Jordan in the 1967 war. Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions, but Palestinians fear Israel will seek to assert further control over the site.

“We are here to protect Al-Aqsa. They want to storm Al-Aqsa and we must stop them,” Hossam said. Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely of the hardline Jewish Home party has called on Jews to go up to the flashpoint plateau as part of the celebrations.

Earlier on Wednesday around 10 Jews were arrested for attempting to pray there.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/25/Israelis-mark-50-years-since-capture-of-Jerusalem-s-old-city.html

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Yemen: New massacre in Taiz as Houthis shell residential areas

24 May 2017

Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen continue to shell residential neighborhoods in Taiz, for the third day in a row, killing and injuring dozens of civilians including women and children.

A detailed report by Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights revealed that victims of the shelling were as young as three-year-old.

The initial toll resulted from shelling from May 21 to 23, has escalated to more than 36 civilian victims, 14 killed and 22 injured, most of which have serious injuries.

“Houthi-Saleh coup militia continues its incriminated acts against unarmed citizens in the city,” the report said.

The human rights ministry condemned the shelling, stating that the targeting of houses and neighborhoods inhabited by citizens - the majority of which are women and children - shows how this militia “underestimates” the life of citizens.

“[Houthis are] always ready to make civilians a target for its military actions or as human shields in order to embody the spirit of killing and destruction practiced by the militia against all people of Yemen who rejected the illusion that it practices to impose itself by force,” the statement read.

While Taiz struggles with diseases such as cholera, soaring food prices and endless power cuts, a local resident, who only gave his name as Fahd, told Al Arabiya English that the Houthi targeting of neighborhoods has left civilians helpless.

“With all the serious injuries caused by the shelling, hospitals could barely tend to the wounded with minimal medical supplies,” Fahd said.

Meanwhile, the national army of Yemen was able to regain full control over the buildings of the central bank branch east of Taiz, in addition to other neighboring buildings near the People’s Palace after fierce fighting with the militias loyal to the Houthis and ousted Saleh.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/24/Yemen-New-massacre-in-Taiz-as-Houthis-shell-residential-areas.html

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Rouhani, Erdogan seeking new chapter in Iran-Turkey ties

May 24, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have expressed their countries’ readiness to shore up bilateral ties especially in the economic field.

During a telephone conversation on Wednesday, the two presidents said that Iran and Turkey were keen to open a new chapter in bilateral ties and take a leap in their economic cooperation.

“Over the past four years, big steps have been taken to develop and deepen Iran-Turkey ties, but a leap must be made … toward reaching an annual trade volume of $30 billion,” Rouhani told Erdogan.

The Iranian president also called for the further promotion of cooperation between the two neighboring countries in the banking sector.

He also underlined the need for an increase in interaction between Iran, Turkey and Russia on regional developments, including the reinforcement of the Astana talks between Syria’s warring sides, with the aim of contributing to peace and security in the region.   

For his part, Erdogan once again congratulated Rouhani on his re-election and voiced Turkey’s willingness to boost ties with Iran in all sectors.

Rouhani was re-elected as president with 57 percent of the votes in the country’s 12th presidential election, which was held on May 19.

Erdogan also reaffirmed Turkey’s determination to increase trade with Iran to $30 billion annually, saying Ankara saw no obstacle to the development of its cooperation with Tehran.

He also highlighted cooperation between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran to speed up the Astana talks aimed at facilitating a political solution to the Syrian crisis. 

Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by militancy it blames on some Western states and their regional allies.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523076/Iran-Turkey-Erdogan-Rouhani

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Several US Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Yemeni Tribal Fighters

May 24, 2017

At least 30 troops from the US and some Persian Gulf states were deployed in the rural area of Khathla and engaged in a gun battle with fighters from two prominent tribes in the village, Yemen's Khabar news agency reported.

It added that during the ensuing fierce battle at least seven of the invading troops were fatally injured, who had come there with the purported mission of gunning down militants of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Takfiri terrorist group.

The report, however, added that no militants of the terror group were in the area when three Apache choppers and two military transport aircraft of the US approached the village.

Earlier in the day, Centcom, the US military command in the Middle East, however, told a totally different story, saying the heliborne attack concluded with killing of seven AQAP militants, without mentioning any casualties from the American troops and the presence of soldiers from some Persian Gulf states.

However, Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis later said at a press conference that multiple American forces sustained injuries, but added that the wounds they had received were not serious enough to require medical evacuation.

According to Davis, the attack was the first US ground assault in Ma’rib and its deepest in the Yemeni territories to purportedly target AQAP militants.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960303001485

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Yemeni army controls the central bank in Taiz

25 May 2017

The National Army of Yemen was able to regain full control over the buildings of the central bank branch east of the city of Taiz, on Wednesday.

They also seized neighboring buildings near the People's Palace, after fierce fighting with the Houthi militias and supporters of ousted president Saleh.

Taiz media center reported that the army forces defeated the Houthi militias near al-Tashrifat military camp, the school of medicine and the central bank branch, and forced dozens of militia snipers to flee east while the army and resistance continue to progress towards the palace road leading to the main entrance of the city.

Houthi militias continued to target heavy artillery in the neighborhoods of Taiz for the third day in a row. The civilian casualties rose to 51 dead and wounded.

According to local sources, the militia bombed the neighborhoods of al-Daboua and al-Horeya square and neighboring areas with heavy artillery.

Several shells landed on the Bab al-Kabeer neighborhood and the eastern neighborhoods of the city.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/25/Yemeni-army-controls-the-central-bank-in-Taiz.html

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Erdogan: We’ll wish Turkey-based German troops happy journey if they leave

May 24, 2017

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says it would not be "a major issue" for Turkey if Germany decided to pull out its troops from the Anatolian country.

Erdogan made the remarks on Wednesday before flying to a NATO summit with European Union leaders in Brussels.

"We have not been officially notified by Germany that it is going to leave to Jordan from the Incirlik base... But if they do so, then for us it's not a problem. If they leave, we'll tell them happy journey," he added.

On Saturday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced that an airbase in Jordan shows potential as a replacement for Turkey's Incirlik base.

Last week, she announced that her country was seeking a new location to deploy its troops, who are part of the US-led coalition allegedly fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Germany has about 250 military personnel stationed in Turkey, flying Tornado surveillance missions over Syria and refueling flights for partner nations.

Earlier in the month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that German troops were welcome to leave Incirlik if they wanted to. "If they want to leave, let's just say goodbye."

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523103/turkey-erdogan-germany-airbase-goodbye

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Africa

 

Islamic radicalization in West Africa worries the Church

May 24, 2017

How to respond to the changes that are affecting Islam in West Africa?Two priests attempted to answer this question at a conference in Rome on Monday, May 22 at the French Saint Louis Institute, which was organized by Urbi & Orbi Africa and attended by diplomats and many religious leaders.“Islam is the majority religion throughout western Africa,” explained Fr Angelo Romano, an Italian priest who is international relations director for the Sant-Egidio Community.Fr Romano makes regular visits to the African continent where his community has taken part for several years in many peace mediation processes, including Central Africa, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast.According to Fr Romano, Islam in the countries of West Africa is changing significantly.“These movements to modernize a form of Islam that is traditionally very open have been particularly influenced by Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia,” said Fr Romano.This strict vision of Islam strongly impacts on the practice of the Muslim religion as it has been lived until now in several countries, such as Senegal, where the Sufi confraternities still play a very significant role.“In the face of these changes,” he continued, “African Muslim leaders are trying to resist by organizing their own training alternatives, as they do in Morocco.”Since the beginning of the 2010s, the kingdom has in fact implemented training for imams in which many religious leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa take part.This point of view is largely shared by Fr Jean-Paul Sagadou, superior of the Assumptionist Community in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.“We are moving from a moderate Islam to a more rigorous Islam,” he explained, speaking of a “rise in low noise intolerance".“In Nigeria last Christmas there was a social media campaign that encouraged Muslims not to shake the hands of Christians or wish them Merry Christmas by presenting the churches as agents of the West.” Disillusioned discourse“Many look on our continent as a region without a future and without hope. Among the young people whom I meet, this kind of disillusioned discourse is sometimes very common,” said Fr Sagadou.He added that the development of Pentecostalism in certain regions of the country “also creates a form of violence".Confronted with this situation, the Catholic Church is trying to continue to promote dialogue, as it did for example in Sokodé in central Togo, explained Fr Sagadou.In Sokodé, which is Togo’s second largest city, where more than 70% of the inhabitants are Muslim, his congregation has opened an interreligious cultural center.Each year, Fr Sagadou organizes a trip for young people whether Muslim, Protestant or Catholic to visit another African country in order to learn about interreligious initiatives. New actors“This involves understanding what kind of initiatives we want to base ourselves on so that interreligious conflicts do not block the development of the continent,” Fr Sagadou added. He emphasized the need to develop a “constructive dialogue” between local religious leaders in particular.“In several countries, one observes a mutual ignorance between Muslims and Catholics. Priests sum up Islam in violence while imams know nothing about Christianity."Fr Sagadou also highlighted the appearance of “new actors", who are active in the field of interreligious dialogue such as ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) or African intellectuals such as Albert Tévoédjre in Benin.“This is a quite recent phenomenon,” said Fr Sagadou. “Several years ago, institutions maintained quite a distance from religious issues, for example.”“These are the vital issues,” said Fr Romano. “The pope has shown us that encounter is the only alternative to barbarianism.”

https://international.la-croix.com/news/islamic-radicalization-in-west-africa-worries-the-church/5232

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IS kills five in first suicide attack in Somalia

May 25, 2017

MOGADISHU - The Islamic State group has claimed its first suicide attack in Somalia that left five dead as it steps up activities in a region dominated by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab.

The group’s self-styled news agency Amaq claimed the “martyrdom-seeking operation with an explosive vest” in a statement carried by the SITE Intelligence Group which noted it was the first suicide bombing by the militants in Somalia.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest at a checkpoint in the northeastern port city of Bosaso late Tuesday, situated in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

“Security forces stopped the suspect when he approached but he detonated himself leaving five people dead. One of the security officers and four civilians were killed in the blast,” said local police official Mohamed Dahir Adan. The blast occurred near a hotel often used as a meeting place for local officials, witnesses said.

“I think the bomber was trying to target the hotel but he was stopped at the checkpoint close to the hotel and he decided to detonate his explosives,” said witness Awke Mohamed.

Puntland set up its own government in 1998, but unlike neighbouring Somaliland, it has not declared full independence.

The region has often come under attack by Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants and is also home to a breakaway group of fighters who have declared allegiance to IS.

However the group has so far failed to gather much support while the Shabaab has taking pains to purge those expressing pro-IS sentiment from their ranks.

The militants are led by former Shabaab cleric Abdiqadir Mumin who switched allegiance from Al-Qaeda to IS in October 2015 and was named a “global terrorist” by the US State Department in August.

Aside from issuing occasional promotional videos, the group seized the small fishing town of Qandala before being ousted by Puntland forces in December.

Then in February IS claimed an attack by gunmen on a hotel in Bosaso which left four security guards dead.

Rashid Abdi of the International Crisis Group, said that while Mumin’s group was stepping up its activities, the Shabaab remained the biggest threat in the region.

“We should not overplay IS influence in that region,” he told AFP.

“There is clearly an IS threat in Puntland, and the Mumin group is escalating its activities and attacks, but Al-Shabaab remains a much bigger threat in Puntland than IS does.” He also warned that IS claims should be treated with caution as “they tend to claim everything”.

Mumin was born in Puntland and lived in Sweden before moving to the UK in the 2000s, where he was granted British citizenship.

In London and Leicester, he developed a reputation as a firebrand preacher at extremist mosques and in videos posted online.

Monitored by MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, Mumin is thought to have known Mohamed Emwazi, the IS executioner nicknamed ‘Jihadi John’, and Michael Adebolajo, one of two people convicted over the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in London.

In 2010, Mumin travelled to Somalia to join the Shabaab - which both Emwazi and Adebolajo had unsuccessfully tried to do.

He initially served as an imam and propagandist before taking control of the Puntland faction of the Shabaab and later defecting to IS with a handful of fighters - despite lacking battlefield experience.

Full report at:

The group called for a “genuine political initiative to address local clan grievances”.

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/is-kills-five-in-first-suicide-attack-in-somalia

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3 Kenyan police killed in suspected al-Shabaab bombing

24 May 2017

Three police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in northern Kenya on Wednesday, police said.

The officers’ Toyota Land Cruiser is believed to have hit a device planted by suspected al-Shabaab militants, a senior police officer based on the border told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Eight people were also injured in the incident in Liboi town, which lies around 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Somali border in Garissa county.

The officer who spoke to Anadolu Agency said the casualties had recently been posted to the area.

“The officers who were killed and those who were injured are part of a team sent here to heighten security after two similar attacks in the past weeks claimed the lives of Kenyan police officers,” the officer said.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet confirmed the details of the attack.

Hours earlier, police had issued a terror alert for northern Kenya and said al-Shabaab militants had to split into small groups to carry out bomb attacks along routes used by police patrols.

The attack takes the toll of police officers killed in similar border attacks in northern Kenya this month to 10.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/189966/3-kenyan-police-killed-in-suspected-al-shabaab-bombing

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Combating an imported extremism

by Abdisaid M. Ali

24 May 2017

The risk of Islamist extremism frequently focuses on Somalia and al-Shabaab. Yet adherents to extremist versions of Islam can now be found throughout East Africa. As a result, tensions within Muslim communities and between certain Islamist groups and the broader society have been growing.

The genesis of this is largely the externally driven diffusion of Salafist ideology from Gulf states. Buoyed by the global oil boom and a desire to spread the ultraconservative Wahhabi version of Islam throughout the Muslim world, funding for mosques, madrassas, and Muslim youth and cultural centers began flowing into the region at greater levels in the 1980s and 1990s. Opportunities for East African youth to study in the Arab world expanded. As these young people returned home, they brought with them more rigid and exclusivist interpretations of Islam. The expanding reach of Arab satellite television has reinforced and acculturated these interpretations to a wider audience.

The effect has been the emergence of an increasingly confrontational strain of Islam in East Africa. The number of Salafist mosques has risen rapidly. In turn, it became increasingly unacceptable to have an open dialogue on the tenets of Islam. Growing intolerance has fostered greater religious polarization.

Over time, these tensions have turned violent. Attacks by militant Islamists against civilians in East Africa (outside of Somalia) rose from just a few in 2010 to roughly 20 per year since then. The vast majority of these have been in Kenya.

Connections between the region and the global jihad movement also appear to be expanding. The rising violence of Islamist extremists has generated a strong response from security actors in East Africa. At times, these operations are conducted indiscriminately. The result may be more support for violent Islamist groups.

In short, Islamist extremist ideology has been spreading throughout East African communities — bringing with it greater societal polarization and violence. Further escalation is not inevitable, however. The region has a long tradition of interreligious harmony. It is vital for East African governments and citizens to understand the external and domestic drivers of these extremist ideologies, so that the process of radicalization can be interrupted before it cements itself within local communities and grows increasingly violent.

The Evolution Of Islam

Muslims have lived in East Africa for generations. Trade and cultural exchanges between East Africa and the Arab world are centuries old. Muslims seem to comprise 10 to 15 percent of the population in Kenya and Uganda and 35 to 40 percent of the Tanzanian population.

There has never been a uniform Islamic community in East Africa. Most East African Muslims subscribe to Sunni interpretations of Islam, though there are also Shia communities and members of the Ahmadiyya sect. Sufism, often described as a “mystical” interpretation of Islam that includes the veneration of saints, is also common. Some Muslim communities have absorbed practices and rituals from traditional African beliefs. Despite these differences, religious communities in the region have historically coexisted peacefully.

This has changed for some communities in recent decades as a result of the growing influence of Salafist ideology. A small but growing number of Muslims have adopted more exclusivist interpretations of their religion, thereby changing their relationship with other Muslims, with other faiths and with the state.

One channel by which this shift has occurred is through education. Lacking other opportunities for schooling, Muslim families in marginalized areas rely on madrassas, or Islamic schools. Over the past several decades, these madrassas have been the beneficiaries of growing streams of funding from Arab countries. In the process, students have been steadily exposed to the cultural and religious identity of their sponsors.

Opportunities for tertiary education have also expanded. While college degrees in the West continue to be viewed as most prestigious, after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, Western countries raised immigration hurdles. At the same time, scholarship opportunities in the Arab world were ramping up. This trend has been accelerating since 2010.

The expansion in the number and geographic reach of Arab satellite TV stations in the 1990s and 2000s brought Arab cultural norms to a wider audience in East Africa. This fostered more conservative interpretations of Islam.

The traction of such ideas is evident in the expanding popularity and influence of extremist clerics. Salafism, which had been a fringe offshoot of Islam in East Africa in the 1990s, has become common today.

In Tanzania, extremist clerics now aggressively challenge the authority of more moderate Islamic organizations and incite protests and clashes with government bodies.

External Influences

A major contributing factor to East Africa’s shift toward more militant interpretations of Islam is the influence of well-funded foreign Islamist groups in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other oil-rich Gulf states. Wahhabism is an extremely conservative interpretation of the Quran. It forbids most aspects of modern education, requires strict dress codes, abides by ancient traditions of social relations, and disregards many basic human rights, particularly for women. Many Wahhabi preachers do not tolerate other viewpoints.

Foreign-sponsored East African Muslim groups have had a presence in East Africa since the mid-20th century but have expanded significantly since the 1970s, according to East Africa-based journalist Ioannis Gatsiounis. The aims of the foreign funding are diffuse, going to social centers; madrassas; primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions; and to humanitarian and social programs.

Some activities supported by these foreign Islamic groups are laudable. They have sponsored medical care and provided aid during disasters. However, many of these groups will integrate proselytization into all their activities or will require that participants abide by strict, conservative customs to access funds or benefits, according to Humboldt University’s Chanfi Ahmed.

Educational institutions have obvious strategic value in shaping the beliefs of youth. Some of these schools provide valuable instruction in math, sciences and more. However, they also inculcate a rigid interpretation of Islam that is exclusionary and emphasizes da’wa, or the further proselytization of this brand of Islam.

This growing influence of extremist Islam in East Africa has mostly been limited to particular neighborhoods, cities or regions. But those effects have been cumulative and compounding, leading an increasing number of groups in the region to adopt progressively more aggressive and confrontational missions.

Socio-Economic Grievances

Although the extremist Islamist ideology taking hold in East Africa is imported from elsewhere, exacerbating factors play a role in how the ideology resonates. Socio-economic marginalization fuels the credibility and dispersal of extremist narratives. In East Africa, perceptions of unequal socio-economic status and some ill-advised state actions have nudged Muslims toward more conservative tendencies and enabled “us-versus-them” narratives to resonate.

East African Muslims do have legitimate grievances. Youth unemployment in Kenya’s Muslim-dominated Coast and North Eastern provinces are 40 to 50 percent higher than the national average, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Rates of primary and secondary school completion and attendance tend to be lower in Muslim counties. Similar patterns can be seen in Tanzania. The youth unemployment rate on the overwhelmingly Muslim island of Zanzibar has been about 17 percent in recent years, almost twice the national average of 9 percent, according to the Tanzania Daily News and the Tanzanian government.

Claims that Muslims are deliberately denied economic, educational and other opportunities relative to their non-Muslim compatriots have become common within the region’s Muslim communities, moderate and extremist alike. For many Muslims, particularly youth, such inequality validates the divisive messages of fundamentalist Islamic centers, madrassas and mosques.

Government Actions That Alienate

East African governments have pursued legal action against various Muslim leaders in recent years in an attempt to isolate suspected extremists. Unfortunately, many of these judicial efforts have failed, further reinforcing a sense that the government is unfairly persecuting Muslims.

Prominent Muslim leaders in Kenya and Tanzania have also been detained by security agents without charge. Some have been mysteriously assassinated. Allegations of police-sponsored death squads that target radical Muslim leaders have been circulating widely for years.

The lack of transparency and pattern of haphazard arrests, bail policies and prosecutions have made many Muslims suspicious of political leaders and state institutions. Combined with a sense that they have been economically marginalized, many are increasingly disinclined to work through existing governance structures in order to right perceived wrongs. As a result, extremist and exclusivist Islamic narratives can seem more compelling.

Reversing The Spread Of Extremism

The drivers of Islamist extremism in East Africa are external and internal. A framework for redressing this threat, therefore, will require actions on both levels.

Counter external influences and emphasize domestic traditions of tolerance: Governments and civil society groups need to counter destabilizing, exclusivist narratives by emphasizing the region’s much longer history of religious diversity and tolerance. This will take genuine and patient engagement on behalf of political leaders, as well as indirect efforts to support more interreligious dialogue that yields tangible benefits for participants.

As part of reinforcing indigenous, tolerant traditions, governments will have to address funding by foreign, fundamentalist Islamic entities. This will require adopting transparent and consistent means to regulate the funding sources, sectarian rhetoric and militant leanings of religious groups. Groups that promote violence or open confrontation should be banned and prosecuted. In addition, funding for social services should be separated from proselytization. However, blanket criminalization of conservative Islamic groups should be avoided because this will likely spur more support for violent movements.

Improve political inclusion of Muslim communities: Political leaders should acknowledge that Muslims have some legitimate complaints of marginalization. This alone will send a powerful message to Muslim constituencies and may spark a sense of trust in collaboration and reform. Leaders should also expand engagement with Muslim communities.

Invest in citizens economically and institutionally: Socio-economic inequalities must be addressed so they are minimized as legitimate grievances. Programs should target inequality of education, income and opportunity, regardless of whether the root cause is truly religious discrimination or a symptom of regional, urban or rural dynamics. Programs could aim to boost employment levels in Muslim-majority areas.

Strengthening and clarifying property codes and land rights would also help. Strengthened property rights may ease religious tensions and allow for the growth and political engagement of a successful Muslim middle class.

Education is also key. Muslim-dominated regions of East Africa lag behind in the number and quality of schools and teacher-to-student ratios. Politically, even small, quick improvements to facilities in these regions could build goodwill. Longer term, more Muslim youth should be targeted for scholarships to balance the effects from external ideological influences.

Full report at:

http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47942:combating-an-imported-extremism&catid=49:National%20Security&Itemid=115

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Tanzania: Muslims Asked to Avoid Evils in Holy Month

23 MAY 2017

By Hellen Nachilongo

Dar es Salaam — As the Holy Month of Ramadhan is approaching, Muslims across the country have been asked to take part in the long month of fasting by doing what is right.

The First Secretary of the Embassy of Kuwait to Tanzania, Mr Mohammed Alamiri, said on Tuesday when talking to journalists on the bilateral relations between Kuwait and Tanzania.

Mr Alamiri made the remarks on behalf of the Kuwait ambassador to Tanzania.

According to him, as the Holy Month is about to begin they expect to see people in the country to do what could be the best for the country and for themselves rather than disturbing peace of the country.

"Tanzania is a peaceful country, through Ramadhan, we expect to see the Holy Month to begin smoothly and end without leaving any harm to the community and the government," he said.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201705240175.html

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31 refugees die when overcrowded vessel capsizes off Libya

May 24, 2017

At least 31 refugees have died in an incident where they fell off an overcrowded vessel off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea.

Officials from an aid boat chartered by the Maltese NGO Moas said on Wednesday that the victims were among about 200 refugees who fell off the overloaded vessel just 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast.

"Current body count at 31," said Chris Catrambone, a co-founder of Moas who was on board the Phoenix aid boat and published photos showing white body bags lined up on the deck.

Catrambone said hundreds were still trapped in the locked hold on the wooden boat, which reportedly was transporting between 500 and 700 people in the Mediterranean when the accident happened.

"Not a scene from a horror movie... Real life tragedy unfolding on Europe's doorstep today!," he said, adding that rescuers were “frantically” trying to break open the locked hold and save those trapped.

The Italian coast guard and several commercial ships also contributed to the rescue. The Italians coordinate most of the operations in the Mediterranean. Also at the scene was a military aircraft, which dropped life-rafts while a helicopter was looking for survivors.

Reports said the capsizing came after a wave knocked the vessel off balance. Others said the refugees shifted to one side of the boat at a certain point and about 200 of them ended up in the water.

The rescue was part of a broader operation that started on Tuesday. Some 1,700 people have been rescued in 15 relief operations in the Mediterranean over the past day.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523052/Libya-refugees-Mediterranean-capsizing

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South Asia

 

Portrait of Myanmar’s ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’ Chills Cannes

May 25, 2017

CANNES: Barbet Schroeder spent months with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin at the height of his power, when corpses would wash up every morning on the shores of Lake Victoria and Kampala was rife with rumors that he was eating his opponents.

But in his decades of documenting evil, the veteran Swiss filmmaker said he has never been as scared by anyone as he was by a Burmese Buddhist monk named Wirathu.

“I am afraid to call him Wirathu because even his name scares me,” the highly acclaimed director told AFP. “I just call him W.”

“The Venerable W,” his chilling portrait of the monk who has been accused of preaching hate and inciting attacks on Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority, has been hailed by critics at the Cannes film festival as a “stirring documentary about ethnic cleansing in action.”

What dismays Schroeder is that Wirathu, whom Time magazine dubbed “The face of Buddhist terror” in a 2013 cover, is utterly unfazed by the chaos and suffering he has unleashed. But the hate speech and fake news that Wirathu spreads from his Mandalay monastery, accusing Muslims — barely four percent of the country’s population — of trying to outbreed the majority Burmese, made Schroeder’s head spin.

This month, Wirathu — who has been called the Buddhist bin Laden — stirred tension by touring Muslim areas in troubled Rakhine State despite Myanmar’s top Buddhist body banning him from preaching in March.

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/portrait-of-myanmar-s-buddhist-bin-laden-chills-cannes

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Sri Lanka police ‘failing to stop anti-Muslim attacks’

May 25, 2017

COLOMBO - Rights groups accused Sri Lankan police Wednesday of failing to stop a wave of hate crimes against Muslim businesses and mosques in the Buddhist-majority country.

Police are yet to make any arrests in connection with more than a dozen arson attacks against Muslims shops, mosques and a burial ground in the past month.

Prominent rights activist Victor Ivan said the inaction risked a repeat of anti-Muslim riots in 2014 that left four dead.

“Police are responsible for allowing this situation to continue by not taking action against the perpetrators,” Ivan told reporters in Colombo, adding that an extremist Buddhist group was believed to be behind the violence.

Only property has been damaged so far in the latest spate of attacks.

The government said Wednesday the violence had been addressed in a cabinet meeting and police and security forces had been instructed to maintain law and order. “The president directed the Inspector General of Police to instruct all officers in charge of police stations to be responsible for preventing such incidents,” the government said in a statement.

The riots in mid 2014 - led by a hardline Buddhist group - were widely seen as the catalyst that led to then president Mahinda Rajapakse’s downfall in January 2015.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/sri-lanka-police-failing-to-stop-anti-muslim-attacks

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Suu Kyi defends slow-moving peace process

May 25, 2017

NAYPYIDAW - Peace talks got underway in Myanmar on Wednesday, with de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi defending her government’s stuttering attempts to end decades of fighting between the military and ethnic rebel groups.

A sea of colour filled the vast conference hall in the capital Naypyidaw as ethnic delegates in traditional costumes mingled with stony-faced military officers in full regalia. The country has been scarred by some of the world’s longest-running civil wars as various ethnic groups have fought Myanmar’s military for greater autonomy.

Suu Kyi sought to dismiss criticism that little progress has been made on her flagship peace policy, more than a year after her party took power. “Our collective efforts have started to bear fruit,” she told the conference, according to an official translation of the speech. “We have now reached the stage where we are able to discuss the basic federal principles that are so important for our country and our people.”

Hopes had been high that Myanmar’s first freely elected government for generations would end the running conflicts that have claimed thousands of lives and kept the country mired in poverty. But many ethnic groups say Suu Kyi has not listened to their concerns and is working too closely with the military, which ruled the country with an iron fist for almost half a century.

This week’s gathering is the second round of peace talks since Suu Kyi’s civilian government came to power.

No rebels are expected to sign up to the National Ceasefire Agreement which she is pushing during the conference - a controversial deal first touted by the previous military-backed government.

But the agenda will cover what shape a federal union might take, and is expected to include the first discussions on whether states will be able to draft their own constitutions.

Allowing states to write their own charters would be an “historic milestone in the post-colonial history of Myanmar,” said Angshuman Choudhury from the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, adding it could “appease powerful ethnic constituencies and... prevent outright secessionism”.

Violence in Myanmar’s northeast has reached its worst point since the conflict-ridden 1980s.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee months of heavy fighting between the army and insurgent groups, many of them crossing into neighbouring China, which has sent delegates to the talks.

“We are hoping to be able to hold political discussions and talk directly about stopping the fighting and offensives by the Myanmar military,” Major Tar Pan La from the the Ta’ang National Liberation Army told AFP.

The violence has destroyed much of the fragile trust that minority voters placed in Suu Kyi in the 2015 vote, and her National League for Democracy suffered several losses in recent by-elections.

It has also strengthened the hand of the China-backed United Wa States Army (UWSA), Myanmar’s biggest ethnic armed group and one of the world’s top drug traffickers.

The 25,000-strong militia has brought together several groups still locked in combat with the military into a new negotiating bloc that is refusing to sign up to the government-backed ceasefire.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/suu-kyi-defends-slow-moving-peace-process

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Senior Afghan defense officials jailed over Kabul military hospital attack

May 25 2017

Several senior defense officials were jailed by a primary military court over a deadly attack on Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital that left scores of people dead.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri said Major General Abdul Razaq Siawash, the commander of the health division in the Office of the General Staff and General Abul Salam Nejrabi, the chief of the health division of the Office of the General Staff were jailed for one year each after they were found guilty of negligence.

Gen. Waziri further added that Gen. Abdul Kabar, the commander of the medical support division, Lieutenant Salahudin Salauddin, chief of the medical support division, Lieutenant Rasool Mohammad, deputy commander of the medical support division, Lieutenant Mir Ahmad, director of the counter-intelligence in medical division, Lieutenant Zafar Khan, director of the intelligence for medical studies academy were jailed for two years each.

He said another official Zainullah was jailed for one and half years along with two others including Sergeant Awal Khan and soldier Syed Noor.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/senior-afghan-defense-officials-jailed-over-kabul-military-hospital-attack-02825

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Afghan and Indian officials meet in Moscow, hold talks on key issues

May 24 2017

The Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar met his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on the sidelines of a summit in Moscow to hold talks on key issues.

The Office of the National Security Council in a statement said the two sides held on further expansion of bilateral political and security relations between the two countries.

The statement further added that the two sides also held talks on the establishment of a comprehensive plan to support and strengthen the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

Atmar also held talks with his Indian counterpart for the arrangement of a meeting between President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, the statement.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit is expected to be held on 8th June in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

The leaders of the two countries are expected to participate in a special meeting to be organized on the sidelines of the summit, the statement said, adding that Mr. Atmar and Mr. Doval agreed that the two countries will have special preparations for the meeting.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-and-indian-officials-meet-in-moscow-hold-talks-on-key-issues-02822

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Karzai met Russian Ambassador to discuss ongoing current Afghan situation

May 24 2017

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with the Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan to hold talks regarding the current situation in Afghanistan.

The Office of the former President in a statement said the meeting was organized in the office of the former President in Kabul.

The statement further added that the two sides discussed the current situation of Afghanistan and efforts to bring peace and stability in the country.

This comes as Karzai has long been favoring Russia’s role in Afghan reconciliation process, insisting that regional countries can play a vital role in achieving peace in Afghanistan.

Karzai also rejected allegations against Russia regarding the supply of weapons and support to the Taliban group.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency last month, Karzai said the American officials are accusing Moscow of supporting the Taliban and supply them with weapons but such allegations are not true.

The  top U.S. general in Europe said late in March this year that he had seen Russian influence on Afghan Taliban insurgents growing and raised the possibility that Moscow was helping supply the militants, whose reach is expanding in southern Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/karzai-met-russian-ambassador-to-discuss-ongoing-current-afghan-situation-02821

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Arab World

 

Egypt blocks 21 websites, including Al Jazeera: state news agency

May 25, 2017

Egypt has banned 21 websites, including the main website of Qatar-based al Jazeera television, for "supporting terrorism", state news agency MENA and security sources said on Wednesday.

Reuters tried to access five websites named by local Egyptian newspapers and broadcasters, including the Al Jazeera website, and found them all inaccessible.

There was no immediate official comment available. An official from the National Telecom Regulatory Authority could not confirm or deny the news, but said: "So what if it is true? It should not be a problem."

MENA cited a senior security source as saying the websites, which also included some Egypt-focused websites hosted abroad such as Masr Al Arabiya that the government says are financed by Qatar, were blocked because they supported terrorism.

"A senior security source said 21 websites have been blocked inside Egypt for having content that supports terrorism and extremism as well (as) publishing lies," MENA said.

The security source said legal action would be taken against the websites, MENA reported.

Two security sources told Reuters the websites were blocked for being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or for being funded by Qatar.

Cairo accuses Qatar of supporting the Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in Egypt in 2013 when the military removed elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi following mass protests against his rule.

However, Mada Masr, an Egyptian news website based inside the country which describes itself as progressive and has no Islamist or Qatari affiliations, was also inaccessible on Wednesday.

The Huffington Post's Arabic website also was inaccessible, although the international version was accessible.

Mada and the Huffington Post were not named by security sources - who said there were 21 websites but named only five - as part of the list of blocked websites.

The block follows similar actions taken earlier on Wednesday by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who got into a war of words with Qatar and blocked Al Jazeera and other websites.

Qatar said hackers had posted fake remarks by its emir against U.S. foreign policy but the Saudi and UAE state-run media reported the comments anyway.

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/egypt-blocks-21-websites-including-al-jazeera-state-news-agency

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Saudi man performs Umrah for Trump

May 25, 2017

A Saudi man has come under attack by social media users after he posted a video in which he declared he was completing Umrah, lesser pilgrimage, on behalf of US President Donald Trump yesterday, reported Middle East Monitor.

The man, who filmed himself making the declaration at Makkah, Saudi Arabia, metres from the Kabaa, said: “I dedicate this Umrah to President Donald Trump and invite him to Islam.”

Trump visited the Kingdom over the weekend on an official trip during which he attended the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh.

Earlier this month, a Saudi cleric posted a supplication on Twitter praying for Trump, saying: “O Allah, Trump is one of your servants, you control him and his fate. Command him – willingly or not – to serve the best interests of Muslims.”

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-May-2017/saudi-man-performs-umrah-for-trump

Those who challenge me, challenge God: Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said yesterday that a number of people have threatened him following his decision to reclaim state-owned land that had been illegally appropriated by private investors over the past few years, according to Middle East Monitor.

Al-Sisi’s remarks came in a speech that he gave in Damietta to mark the opening of a number of projects in the province.

He added that he will not allow anyone, no matter who they are, to acquire state-owned land, adding that illegal appropriation of state land is considered “theft”.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/24-May-2017/those-who-challenge-me-challenge-god-sisi

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Syrian army says ISIS ‘minister of war’ killed

24 May 2017

The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had killed ISIS military commander in Syria during operations in the north of the country, where the Russian-backed government forces are seizing more territory back from the militant group.

If confirmed, this would represent a major blow against ISIS ahead of an attack which the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters - are expected to launch against the militant in their stronghold of Raqqa city.

A Syrian military source told Reuters the ISIS commander, Abu Musab al-Masri, had been the group’s “minister of war” for Syria. Syrian state media had earlier cited a military source as saying he was the organization’s “minister of war”, suggesting he was the overall ISIS military commander.

He was named among 13 senior ISIS figures killed in Syrian army operations east of Aleppo, including men identified as Saudi and Iraqi nationals, according to the military source cited by state media.

Al-Masri was killed in the operations that got underway on May 10. The military source did not say where he was killed.

Baghdad-based ISIS expert Hisham al-Hashimi said the death of Masri, if confirmed, would be a “significant blow to the group ahead of the battle of Raqqa”. He said al-Masri was the fourth most senior figure in the organization.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/24/Syrian-army-says-ISIS-minister-of-war-killed-.html

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Arab tribes in Iraq’s Mosul demand Iran halt interferences

25 May 2017

Tribal leaders of Nineveh province called the international community to distance Popular Mobilization militias from Mosul and its suburbs and stop Iranian expansion in the region.

This statements came at a tribal conference held in a region of northwest of Mosul.

The tribes accused the popular mobilization militias of bulldozing houses and stealing properties in captured areas west of Mosul.

The Iranian-backed Shiite militias have been part of a coalition of forces that began the Battle for Mosul operations to retake the city from ISIS extremists last year.

Iraq’s Planning Minister Salman Al-Jumayli said on Wednesday that a plan has been formulated to rebuild the liberated areas from ISIS over the span of the next 10 years with $100 billion starting 2018.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/25/Arab-tribes-in-Iraq-s-Mosul-demand-Iran-halt-interferences.html

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Bahraini clerics announce national mourning to honor Diraz victims

May 24, 2017

Bahraini clerics have declared an open-ended national mourning in commemoration of the slain supporters of prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, who lost their lives after Al Khalifah regime forces opened fire at them.

The clerics, in a statement released on Wednesday, asked all Bahraini men and women to continue staging sit-ins in support of the 77-year-old cleric, who is the spiritual leader of the country’s dissolved opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in al-Fida Square of the northwestern village of Diraz and ramp up resistance against regime troops, Arabic-language Bahrain al-Yaum news agency reported.

The statement also urged shopkeepers and owners of commercial establishments to down their shutters on Wednesday and Thursday, and attend the demonstrations in honor of Diraz martyrs.

The clerics said Sheikh Qassim’s fate remains unknown a day after Manama regime forces broke into his residence, killing at least six people and wounding dozens more.

The soldiers fired birdshot and teargas to disperse supporters of the clergyman, and detained 286 of them. Reports said 19 policemen were also injured in the clashes.

Bahraini Shia clerics further noted that the nation will eventually turn the tables and prevail, warning that people from all walks of life will not tolerate the ruling Al Khalifah regime’s harm to Sheikh Qassim.

The statement also held King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, the ruler of the tiny Persian Gulf island country, fully responsible for the fate of the top cleric and those arrested during the Tuesday skirmishes in Diraz.

On May 21, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail suspended for three years.

It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines. The court ruling sparked widespread demonstrations across the kingdom.

Bahraini authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship on June 20, 2016. They later dissolved the Islamic Enlightenment Institution, founded by him, in addition to the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.

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

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

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523073/Bahrain-clerics-national-mourning-support-Sheikh-Qassim-honor-Diraz-martyrs

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Syrian Army Starts Six Fronts in Badiyeh Region to Face Terrorists

May 24, 2017

The sources said that the first front of the army is along the Palmyra road to al-Sukhnah and spreads towards Deir Ezzur to lift ISIL's siege on the city and airbase in the Eastern province.

In the second front the army soldiers are to move from Palmyra towards South to cut off ISIL's supply lines between Syria's Badiyeh and Eastern Qalamoun region.

The third front has been opened by the army from al-Seen airport towards al-Tanf border-crossing at the country's border with Iraq.

The fourth front stretches from Northern Sweida towards Syria's Badiyeh, while the fifth front expands from North of Palmyra towards East to end ISIL's presence along the road connecting the town of al-Salamiyah in Hama to the town of Khanasser in Aleppo. According to the same sources, the army men have also deployed in a sixth front and launched their operation from the town of al-Quaryatayn in Homs Eastwards.

The army's operations in all these six fronts are backed up by the Russian aerial support while a large number of Iraqi and Syrian popular forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah are also present in the army operations.

The sources also underlined that the army's main objective in all these fronts is mainly weakening ISIL's defense capability via engaging them in different battlefronts across the vast Badiyeh region to enable the army and its allies to take back control over larger areas.

Reports said on Tuesday that the army units continued their operation against terrorists in Eastern Sweida and managed to advance more towards al-Tanf border-crossing in Southern Homs to foil a US-led plan for occupying Southern Syria.

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorists in Eastern Sweida and took full control over a large part of al-Rahbeh region North of the newly-liberated al-Zalaf Dam.

The army units also engaged in clashes with terrorists in the Eastern direction of al-Zalaf dam and entered the administrative border regions with Damascus.

In the meantime, the army units that had previously entered the town of al-Zalfa managed to advance against terrorists in areas surrounding the town and seized control over several illegal the border-crossings in the border-triangle.

A military source said that the army troops were capable of advancing 30 kilometers further North to cut off the supply path to a large militant-held region in the Southeastern outskirts of Damascus.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960303001180

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16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

May 25, 2017

BEIRUT - At least 16 civilians were killed in bombing raids early Wednesday by the US-led coalition near the Islamic State group’s Syrian bastion Raqa, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the toll included a woman and her five children, as well as three couples.

“The coalition strikes hit Al-Baruda, a village about 15 kilometres (10 miles) west of Raqa city,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. “Most of those killed had fled eastern parts of the province of Homs,” he added. The US-led coalition is providing air cover for a major offensive to capture Raqa city, the heart of IS territory in Syria.

As of Wednesday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were only three kilometres (two miles) from Raqa at their closest point to the east. The strikes on Al-Baruda come after the Observatory reported the highest monthly civilian death toll for the coalition since it began bombing Syria on September 23, 2014.  Between April 23 and May 23 of this year, coalition strikes killed a total of 225 civilians in Syria, the Britain-based Observatory said.

Earlier this month, the US military said that coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria had “unintentionally” killed a total of 352 civilians since 2014.

More than 320,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since Syria’s conflict broke out in March 2011.  Meanwhile, dozens of young men gathered Tuesday in a school yard in northern Syria to take the oath at a police graduation ceremony after a week’s training supervised by the US-led coalition.

They were the first batch of policemen to be trained by the coalition to maintain law and order in Raqa, as a Kurdish-Arab alliance battles to expel the Islamic State group from the rest of the northern province. Police officers disappeared from Raqa after the province was taken over by rebels then IS after the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011. Dressed in green uniforms, the graduates stood to attention in the town of Ain Issa, a former IS stronghold around 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the city of Raqa, the militants’ de facto Syrian capital. On their arms, their wore light blue patches bearing the image of an eagle with its wings spread and the words “Raqa Internal Security Force”.

“I swear to God to be loyal to my nation, my people and my country and to fulfil my duty,” they said, right arms stretched out in front of them. They took the oath before members of a civilian council to administer Raqa city and the surrounding province after IS, before each receiving a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

“Fifty young men from the Raqa province followed a seven-day training course under the supervision of US and Jordanian officers,” said a spokesman for the nascent Raqa Civilian Council. “The second group will start training next week. The aim is to train 3,000 young men to guarantee security and stability in liberated areas of the Raqa province,” Omar Alloush said.

The coalition, which has been fighting IS in Syria and neighbouring Iraq since 2014, is in charge of training the policemen and providing them with equipment, he said. A Jordanian instructor, who asked to remain anonymous, said all the graduates had received “intensive training on how to conduct patrols, diffuse disputes, deal with car bombs and suicide bombers, and how to man a checkpoint”.

Backed by the coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched an offensive to capture Raqa city in November.

Last month, the SDF alliance announced the creation of the civilian council to administer the city after its capture.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/16-civilians-dead-in-coalition-strikes-near-raqa

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Qatar probes 'shameful' hacking as Gulf split exposed

May 25, 2017

Qatar launched an investigation and went into damage control mode on Wednesday after accusing hackers of putting what it called false remarks by the emir on state media.

The four-hour cyber attack, which hit the Qatar News Agency's website and Twitter account, caused ripples in the Gulf state and across the Middle East because of the content of the stories.

Among the topics supposedly addressed by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani were the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, strategic relations with Iran, and comments about Palestinian movement Hamas.

There were also remarks about alleged “tensions” between Qatar and the administration of US President Donald Trump.

The Twitter account carried a statement from Foreign Mnister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about Qatar withdrawing its ambassadors from several nearby countries.

His ministry denied the story.

Qatar said what occurred was a “shameful cybercrime” and that the reports were completely untrue. It added an investigation had been launched and the hackers would be “traced and prosecuted”.

“QNA's website was hacked at 12:14am on Wednesday morning, with hackers publishing false statements attributed to HH the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani,” said the foreign ministry.

“The official further said that it is clear this shameful cybercrime was instigated and perpetrated with malicious intent,” it said in a statement.

But it was unable to contain the fallout, with media outlets taking seriously the remarks attributed to the emir and attacks on social media accounts continuing.

The “false statement” was still being widely reported by broadcasters and newspapers across the region, including in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, many hours after Doha's denial.

'Anti-Qatar organisations'

One analyst on the Saudi state news channel, Al-Akhbariya, called Tamim's alleged remarks “political adolescence”.

Twitter users swapped insults and accusations.

Saudi media slammed the alleged statement describing Shiite-dominated Iran as a “stability guarantor” in the region.

A page on the Al-Arabiya English website had an article entitled: “Proof that Qatar News Agency was not hacked.” At the same time, Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera was unavailable for some time in the UAE, though it was unclear if it was blocked on purpose.

The Al-Jazeera Arabic website was also inaccessible in Saudi Arabia during Wednesday.

Qatar said it was “surprised by the stance of some media outlets and TV channels” in continuing to report the comments attributed to the emir.

Some in Qatar compared those responsible for reporting the contents of the hack to Nazi Germany's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.

The alleged cyber attack comes just days after Doha claimed it had been the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign over its alleged “support” for terrorism, and said it was being targeted by anti-Qatar organisations.

Doha has faced criticism for its support of rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and in recent weeks has been accused outright of funding terror in US media articles.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-May-2017/qatar-probes-shameful-hacking-as-gulf-split-exposed

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Turkey to Form 10,000-Fighter Army to Battle Kurdish Forces in Northern Syria

May 24, 2017

The sources were quoted by the Arabic desk of Sputnik as saying that Turkey has a plan to form a new 10,000-member army from the Ankara-backed FSA militants to use them in battles against the Kurdish forces in a vast region staring from Jarabulus in Northern Aleppo to Idlib.

The sources added that the FSA militants are due to go under a 3-month training course and a further 45-day training by the Turkish Special Forces.

Sputnik went on to say that the FSA members that are to go under training will receive $300 as their monthly salary, while the Turkish side will also provide the FSA fighters with food and housing.

The sources told Sputnik that the operations in the towns of Afrin, Manbij and Tal Abyadh is the main objective of this new army.

Meantime, the people in al-Bab city in the Northern parts of Aleppo rallied to protest at the Turkish army and its allies' deployment in the region.

Local sources in al-Bab reported on Monday that people held protest rallies in Sheikh Aqil district of al-Bab which was occupied by the Turkish army and Ankara-backed militants.

They added that tens of people in the region carried placards to protest at Ankara and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's policies.

They also chanted slogans including "Erdogan listen! We don’t obey your cruel army. This place belongs to us".

The rally was held after Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said the country was considering establishing a base near the Syrian city of al-Bab.

Kaynak said location of the base currently being considered by the Turkish General Staff was Aqil Hill, West of al-Bab.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960303000841

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Bahrain authorities arrest 286 wanted terrorists

24 May 2017

Bahrain on Wednesday announced the arrest of a large number of wanted criminals in terror incidents.

The head of Bahrain’s public security, Tariq al-Hassan, made the announcement at a press conference in Manama, and noted that the sit-in at Al Diraz was dispersed because it was illegal.

Hassan added that most of the detainees sought shelter at the house of Issa Qassim, pointing out that the 286 criminals wanted in terrorism cases were arrested.

He called on citizens and residents to abide by instructions from security authorities.

The head of the public security affirmed that they will firmly confront any illegal gatherings, stressing that the security operation was aimed at arresting wanted persons.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/24/Bahrain-authorities-arrest-286-wanted-terrorists-.html

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Saudi King conveys stance in support of UK against terrorism

24 May 2017

Saudi King Salman in a phone call with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday conveyed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of the terrorist attack at Manchester, confirming it being contrary to Islamic principles and moral values.

King Salman also expressed his sincerest condolences to the country and the victims of the attack, where he wished the injured a quick recovery.

He confirmed over the phone the kingdom’s stance in support of Britain in facing terrorism.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/24/Saudi-King-conveys-stance-in-support-of-UK-against-terrorism.html

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Bahrainis continue protests in defiance of regime warning

May 25, 2017

Bahraini protesters have defied Manama’s warning against holding more public gatherings and stayed on the streets in a show of anger against the regime’s bloody crackdown on Diraz, the home village of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim.

Several videos, released late Wednesday, show hundreds of Bahraini protesters, including women and children, holding peaceful protests against the ruling Al Khalifa regime.

Other footage shows protests turn violent after regime forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators.   

The escalation comes despite a Wednesday statement by the Bahraini Interior Ministry, which warned against “any gathering or incitement” to protest.

The ministry issued the warning a day after police stormed into the home of Sheikh Qassim, prompting clashes with the cleric’s supporters. During the raid, regime forces shot dead at least six demonstrators, wounded dozens and arrested over 280 people.

The fresh wave of ant-regime protests began on May 21, when a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal collection of funds and money laundering and sentenced him to one year in jail and ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines.

The cleric had been under house arrest for several months, but his fate has been unclear since Bahraini forces raided his house on Tuesday and arrested everyone there.

According to the Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV channel, the Bahraini regime was planning to force Sheikh Qassim into exile in Iraq, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected Manama’s request in a show of support for the Shia leader.

Human rights groups have condemned Bahrain for its deadly crackdown on people in Diraz that took place right after US President Donald Trump left Saudi Arabia, where he met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah.

Riyadh, whose forces have been helping the Bahraini military in suppressing anti-regime protests over the past years, came to Manama’s defense on Wednesday, saying the Bahraini kingdom is “an integral part” of Saudi Arabia’s security.

Amnesty International has called for an independent probe into Manama’s use of “excessive force” against “peaceful” protesters in Diraz, stressing that the village has been under siege for over 11 months.

‘Trump must speak out’

New York-based Human Rights First has also urged Trump’s administration to condemn the Bahraini military for the “deadly disturbing” raid on Diraz.

“It is especially alarming that the raid comes just two days after President Trump met the king of Bahrain and assured him that there would no longer be any strain on the US-Bahrain relationship,” said Human Rights First Director Brian Dooley.

“President Trump should immediately speak out against these attacks and make clear that the repression of peaceful civil society will damage the bilateral relationship with Bahrain,” he added.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/25/523117/Bahrain-protest-Qassim-Manama-Diraz-Trump

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Saudi Arabia defends Bahrain’s deadly crackdown

May 24, 2017

Human rights groups have condemned Bahrain for its deadly crackdown on people in the village of Diraz, but the Saudi regime has come to Manama’s defense, saying the Bahraini kingdom is "an integral part" of Saudi Arabia's security.

A source in the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the security of Bahrain "is an integral part" of Saudi security, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

"The source affirmed the support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the measures being taken," including in the northwestern village of Diraz, the official news agency said.

According to the source, the measures are allegedly to "address all terrorist attempts aimed at destabilizing and damaging" security and order.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the kingdom in early February 2011. They are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and a just system representing all Bahrainis be established.

The Manama regime has spared no effort to clamp down on dissent and rights activists. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist Manama in its crackdown.

Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others have been injured or arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown on anti-regime activists.

On Tuesday, Bahrain's Interior Ministry announced the death of five people in raids on protesters gathering in Diraz. Earlier in the day, Bahraini regime forces stormed the residence of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the country’s Shia majority in the village, arresting everyone inside the house.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/24/523091/Saudi-Arabia-Bahrain-Diraz

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Pakistan

 

Nawaz Sharif at Riyadh summit: Pakistan deeply committed to Muslim world's unity and harmony

May, 22 2017

Riyadh: Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that his country is deeply committed to the unity of the Muslim world and the promotion of interfaith harmony and dialogue.

Sharif's statement on Sunday came during his interaction with Saudi Arabian King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, US president Donald Trump and other leaders from the Arab and Islamic countries who gathered here for the first Arab-Islamic-American Summit, Dawn online reported.

Pakistan had rendered remarkable sacrifices in the global fight against terrorism, a Foreign Office statement quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Voicing his pleasure to be part of the summit, Sharif said the choice of Saudi Arabia as the venue for the first Arab-Islamic-American Summit was appropriate, given the reverence and respect that the entire Muslim world has for this land of the Holy Prophet.

He appreciated the leadership of Trump for making the summit his first overseas engagement, and said this initiative of his was of great significance.

"The rising tide of terrorism and extremism is the most daunting challenge that the world confronts today. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been in the forefront of this existential struggle, bearing a large burden," Sharif said.

Full report at:

http://www.firstpost.com/world/nawaz-sharif-at-riyadh-summit-pakistan-deeply-committed-to-muslim-worlds-unity-and-harmony-3467752.html

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Monks visiting Pakistan laud hospitality

May 25, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Buddhist monks, who were part of a delegation participating in Vesakh Mela celebrations arranged by National History and Literary Heritage (NH&LH) Division on Tuesday, said that the hospitality, love and respect they had received from Pakistani people added charm to their celebrations.

The preservation and maintenance of sacred places is evidence of the level of respect Pakistan has for Buddhist beliefs, they noted. A delegation of around 40 Buddhist monks and visitors from Sri Lanka, headed by Professor N Gnanaratana, had reached Pakistan on Sunday to attend the Vesakh Mela.

“Pakistan always stood with Sri Lanka in conflict situations, natural calamities and every hour of need, which the entire Sri Lankan nation acknowledges and admires,” Prof Gnanaratana said.

Women monks including P Dhammanande, M Seelapriga and A Summanaseeli said they were visiting Pakistan for the first time and excited about their journey to the sacred places of Taxila and Takht Bahi.

“We are impressed with the arrangements of this festival and hospitality of Pakistani people. It is just like we are at our second home,” Dhammanande said.

The Sri Lankan delegation of Buddhist monks visited the historical Buddhist spots and performed their religious rituals while accompanied by officials from the NH&LH Division.

The opening ceremony of Vesakh Mela was attended by NH&LH Division Federal Secretary Aamir Hasan, Joint Secretary Junaid Ikhlaq and High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Jayanath CP Lokuketagodage.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/25-May-2017/monks-visiting-pakistan-laud-hospitality

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2 terrorists executed

May 25, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Two hardcore terrorists who were tried by military courts for a number of charges including attack on the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar have been executed on Wednesday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

It said that those terrorists were involved in committing heinous offences relating to terrorism, including attack on APS Peshawar, killing of innocent civilians, attacking the Armed Forces of Pakistan and the law enforcement agencies personnel.

According to details, the convict Attaullah son of Muhammad Sultan was an active member of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

He was involved in attacking law enforcement agency personnel, which resulted in the death of several soldiers and injures to an officer and a soldier. Attaullah was also in possession of fire-arms and explosives. He admitted to his offences before the magistrate and the trial court, the statement said.  Attaullah was awarded death sentence.   Second convict Taj Muhammad son of Alaf Khan was also an active member of TTP.

Full report at:

He too was awarded death sentence.

http://nation.com.pk/national/25-May-2017/2-terrorists-executed

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US drone kills 3 militants in NWA

May 25, 2017

PESHAWAR - As many as three militants including a commander were killed in a US drone strike near the Pak-Afghan border in North Waziristan on Wednesday.

According to details, a US pilotless plane fired two-missile at a militant compound reportedly at Garvik area of Shawal tehsil of the agency, situated closed to the Pak-Afghan broader.

As a result, at least three militants including Abdullah Kashmiri, a local commander of militants died on the spot.

The political administration of the agency has also confirmed the drone strike. However, it said the attack had conducted from across the border.

This was the third drone strike inside Pakistan since Donald Trump’s becoming the US president in January last.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/25-May-2017/us-drone-kills-3-militants-in-nwa

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Disappointed by governor’s ‘inaction’, JI resumes protest against KE

May 25, 2017

KARACHI - Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Chapter on Wednesday resumed its protest against the private power company, Karachi Electric (KE) by staging at demonstration t Shahrah-e-Faisal.

Thousands of JI supporters and people belonging to various walks of life participated in the demonstration.

They were carrying placards and banners, inscribed with various slogans against the K-Electric, NEPRA and the government.

The participants reached the party’s central protest camp set up at Shahrah-e-Faisal in the evening.

They kept chanting slogans against the K-Electric, power regulatory authority, NEPRA and the government.

Many residents of Karachi also visited the JI`s protest camp to register their complaints against the K-Electric.

Addressing the participants, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rahman said that the government used the state machinery on March 31 in a bid to stop protests against the KE.

“The party’s leadership was detained and during shelling and firing many party workers and supporters got injured. Despite all this our protest against the KE did not stop, but it kept gathering momentum,” he added.

He said that JI was the only party that had unveiled ‘robbery’ of the KE. “Pervaiz Musharaf, with the assistance of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), privatized the KESC and put the entire city in darkness,” Naeem said, and added, “None of the political parties have raised voice against the ‘injustices’ of KE. It is only the JI that has been exposing the ‘corruption’ of KE from the day one.”

The JI leader further said that the party had staged a four-day sit-in outside the Governor House and after the assurance given by the governor that the issue would be resolved in 15 days, the sit-in was postponed. “However, after the passage of sometime it became apparent that the government did not mean what it had promised. In fact the governor’s silence over the subject proves that he is siding with the power company,” he added.

“Whatever you do, we are not going to withdraw our demands,” Naeem said categorically. He accused the governor of misleading the Karachiites by saying that JI`s leadership did not want negotiations over the issue. “Earlier, the party leadership negotiated with the governor in the presence of media and now it’s the duty of the governor to resolve the issue by putting pressure on K-Electric,” he demanded.

JI leaders Usama Razi, Mohammad Islam, Younus Barai, Abdul Jameel and others also spoke on the occasion.

It is worth mentioning here that JI is protesting against what it calls the ‘nexus’ between KE, NEPRA and the government.

The party alleges that KE has inflicted miseries on its consumers through excessive billing, tariff hike, loadshedding and ban on issuance of separate meters in multi-storey buildings.

Earlier, talking to media men on Wednesday, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rahman said that the party was protesting against loadshedding, overbilling and looting of billions of rupees from the citizens.

He said that JI’s protest was peaceful, but warned that if efforts were made to stop the demonstration then all the responsibility would lie on the government’s shoulders.

Naeem said that Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair had failed to resolve the issue.

“The party had called off the sit-in on the assurance given by the governor, but it seems that his writ is nowhere in the province,” said JI Karachi chief and invited Zubair to take part in the protest for the rights of Karachiites.

Meanwhile, in order to deal with any untoward situation at the protest site, heavy contingents of police were deployed along with the armored vehicles and water cannons.  The JI`s demonstration, on the other hand, also created massive traffic jams on major roads of the city in the evening.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/25-May-2017/disappointed-by-governor-s-inaction-ji-resumes-protest-against-ke

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   1


  • Too long, didn`t read google.com/">!</a>

    By Jerry - 5/25/2017 11:22:13 PM



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