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Islamic World News (02 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Thousands Defy Rally Ban to Celebrate Pakistani Blasphemy Murderer










Men attend a gathering to mark the anniversary of Mumtaz Qadri death next to the shrine built over his grave outside Islamabad, Pakistan, March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Thousands Defy Rally Ban to Celebrate Pakistani Blasphemy Murderer

ISIS Now Asking Bangladeshi Jihadists to Fight for Rohingyas

Police Investigating After 2 Muslim Men, Copies of Qur'an, Sprayed With Urine

Pakistan Created Terror Outfits, the ‘Monster’ Now Devouring Its Creator: India to UN 

 

Pakistan

Thousands Defy Rally Ban to Celebrate Pakistani Blasphemy Murderer

Urdu and Hindi Are One Language, Says Pakistani Scholar

Sindh High Court Orders Closure Of Wine Shops Across The Province

Islamic State Takes Root, Grows Along Afghan-Pakistan Border

Nacta warns of potential terror attack on Karachi shrines

Amir reiterates no linkage between MQM-P, MQM-L

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South Asia

ISIS Now Asking Bangladeshi Jihadists to Fight for Rohingyas

Kabul Attacks Casualties Toll Rise to 22 Dead, 120 Wounded

Afghanistan urges Pakistan to open border crossings

At least 160 killed in clashes on Myanmar-China border: army

Afghan-based Islamic State a wild card as Trump ponders U.S. commitment

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North America

Police Investigating After 2 Muslim Men, Copies of Qur'an, Sprayed With Urine

Canada University Evacuated Over Anti-Muslim Bomb Threat

US Seeks End to U.N. Rights Council's 'Obsession' With Israel’

Muslim athletes running Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon carry flag to show their love for America

Army puts Muslim in charge of 14,000 US soldiers’ spiritual needs

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India

Pakistan Created Terror Outfits, the ‘Monster’ Now Devouring Its Creator: India to UN 

PIL for Change in Muslim Inheritance Law: HC Seeks Govt Reply

Indian Muslim Community Wages War against Dowry

Investigate 26/11 Mumbai Terror Attacks Again, Put Hafiz Saeed on Trial: India Tells Pak

India repatriates 39 Pakistani prisoners

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Europe

UNHRC Witness Pakistan, India Clash during Meeting Held in Geneva

UN Urged To Blacklist Saudi Arabia, Israel as Children Rights Violators

Pope paints a picture of Sweden at odds with Trump’s

Putin says new Syria sanctions would hamper peace talks

Syria talks should focus on unity govt. during transition period: Russia

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Mideast

Turkey Restoring Tomb of Abyssinian Christian King, Who Sheltered Prophet Muhammad’s Companions

Yemen's First Home-Made Drone Brings Over 100 Saudi Towns, Vital Centres within Striking Range

French Foreign Ministry condemns the use of children by Houthis

Rouhani urges respect for states’ sovereignty in meeting with Erdogan

Israeli soldier appeals jail sentence for killing helpless Palestinian

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Arab World

Syria: Rifts Widening among Terrorists over Peace with Gov't

FSA Vows to Shift Fight from ISIL to Syrian Kurds in Northern Aleppo

Up to 15,000 ISIS militants remain in Iraq and Syria

Syrian opposition refuses to discuss terrorism at UN talks

Daesh pulls back from much of Syrian ancient city: Report

Iraqi forces discover underground Daesh boot camp near Mosul

Syrian forces enter Daesh-controlled Palmyra

ISIL's Long Convoy of Military Vehicles Destroyed in Syrian Airstrike in Deir Ezzur

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Southeast Asia

PAS: Those Opposing Zakir Naik Are the True Extremists

Have Courage To Reject Hadi’s Bill, Muslim Mps Told

Amanah not convinced by PAS assurance to Muslim MPs

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Africa

Somalia: Somaliland Deports Two Danish Humanitarian Agency Staff for Disrespecting Islam

Nigeria: Nearly 8,000 taken from Boko Haram lairs

Jordanian immigrant in Michigan elated over release from detention

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/thousands-defy-rally-ban-to-celebrate-pakistani-blasphemy-murderer/d/110259

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Thousands Defy Rally Ban to Celebrate Pakistani Blasphemy Murderer

Mar 2, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Thou­sands of people here on Wednesday defied a ban on demonstrations to observe the death anniversary of Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted murderer of former governor of Punjab Salman Taseer.

Qadri was executed on Feb 29 last year for killing Mr Taseer. He had been assigned as one of Mr Taseer’s bodyguards after the governor enraged religious right by calling for reform to the blasphemy laws in support of a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death.

After his arrest, Qadri became a hero to many for his action.

Despite the increased security on Wednesday, with police shutting down entire roads, people thronged to Qadri’s grave on the outskirts of Islamabad.

The crowd chanted slogans exalting Qadri and proclaiming Pakistan an Islamic state.

Islamabad police confirmed that the crowd was somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 people.

“The protests were peaceful and the crowd dispersed after the speakers were done,” a police official said.

On Tuesday, the Punjab government had said that protests would not be allowed to take place in the city due to a spate of bombings and attacks that have killed more than 130 people nationwide.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2017

https://www.dawn.com/news/1317911/thousands-defy-rally-ban-to-observe-mumtaz-qadris-death-anniversary

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ISIS Now Asking Bangladeshi Jihadists To Fight For Rohingyas

March 01, 2017

The discussion on 'LM' channel, acronym for 'Lone Mujahid,' was launched on February 28 with a series of English posts from a pro-IS Malaysian Telegram channel

Members of a pro-Islamic State Telegram channel have urged jihadists in Bangladesh to spearhead a military support campaign for Rohingya Muslims.

They have advised local IS supporters to smuggle weapons, train Rohingyas and form a jihadist group to pledge allegiance to the IS chief and fight in Myanmar until establishing Wilayah Arakan, according to US-based watchdog SITE Intelligence Group.

During this time, the Muslims in Malaysia have been asked to manage some land and build houses for the Rohingyas “everywhere in Malaysia,” and bring in Rohingyas from Rakhine State and those living in registered camps in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh.

They made the suggestion considering that Malaysia has “accepted Rohingya refugees for now.”

The discussion on “LM” channel, acronym for “Lone Mujahid,” was launched on February 28 with a series of English posts from a pro-IS Malaysian Telegram channel. They were discussing the Malaysian government’s sending an aid flotilla with food and other relief for the Rohingyas in Myanmar.

The ship, barred allegedly by Myanmar hardliner Buddhists, reached Chittagong last month with nearly 2,000 tonnes of aid materials.

The Malaysian government came down heavily on the Myanmar government for the atrocities against the minority Rohingya people launched in the name of clearance operations after the October 9 attacks on its border outposts.

Since then, some 75,000 Rohingya Muslims have taken shelter in Bangladesh, and many of them have shared horrifying stories of mass killings, rape, torture, abduction and arson attacks by the Myanmar security forces.

There are over 30,000 registered Rohingya refugees living in two camps of Cox’s Bazar while the number of undocumented Rohingyas would be more than 300,000.

Saudi-backed Rohingya militant group, Harakah al-Yakin, claimed responsibility for the attacks while talking to the Dhaka Tribune. The outfit, formed after the 2012 sectarian violence, carried out more attacks in the next two months on the Myanmar security forces.

After the attacks, international militant groups including IS and al-Qaeda extended support to HaY, and urged the Rohingyas in Bangladesh and Myanmar to launch armed jihad and avenge the atrocities. Moreover, local banned outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir asked Bangladesh Army to take stand against Myanmar to avenge the persecution of the Rohingyas.

The supporters of IS and al-Qaeda in Bangladesh have killed more than 60 people and injured scores of others in the last couple of years, with a view to establishing a Shariah state in the country with parts of Myanmar and India.

The latest IS call urges Bangladeshi jihadists to gather weapons and deploy to Myanmar, and employ guerrilla warfare and defence techniques against the Buddhists in Rakhine State and the Myanmar government, and training the Rohingyas to fight, as well.

One of the members of the channel added: “Take heed from the ones who slapped amerika [sic] in her face (Vietnamese) they created a system of smuggling from the north to the south and vice versa by a network of underground tunnels transporting weapons/food and SOLDIERS.”

The IS jihadists have asked the Malaysian Muslims to pledge to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, and then posted its own idea on the channel.

Earlier in November, a pro-IS Telegram channel suggested that Muslims in the United Kingdom who cannot go to Myanmar help their brethren can attack the country’s embassy and ambassador at home.

Also Read: ‘We will fight until the last drop of blood’

On November 30, jihadist activity monitoring website SITE Intelligence Group said that the Afghan Taliban had reiterated its call to Muslims as well as Islamic charitable organisations to take action in support of their brethren in Myanmar, and condemned what it sees as global silence to the ongoing “genocide.”

On the other hand, al-Qaeda’s Bangladesh offshoot Ansar al-Islam asked the Rohingyas and the Muslim youths of Bangladesh to join the fight in a public statement issued on December 15.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/south-asia/2017/03/01/supporters-urge-bangladesh-malaysian-jihadists-fight-rohingyas/

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Police Investigating After 2 Muslim Men, Copies of Qur'an, Sprayed With Urine

Mar 01, 2017

Toronto police are investigating after two Toronto men who hand out copies of the Qur'an and books on Islam to passers-by every weekend at St. Lawrence Market say they were sprayed with urine last Saturday.

"I didn't see who sprayed it but I smelled it and came to my table, and [I saw] the whole table, table-cloth and Qur'an ... was sprayed and smelled," Quazi Islam told CBC Toronto. "I came home and took a shower but my jacket and everything smelled."

Islam said it happened around 11 a.m. and caused them to put away their damaged flyers and Qur'an in plastic bags.

He filed a police report the next day alongside his friend, Gerges Hamad, who was also there at the time of the incident.

The two men say they have been talking about Islam to passers-by from the same spot at St. Lawrence Market for just under two years and though they've been on the receiving end of many abusive comments, nothing like this has ever happened before.

"We experienced similar things a couple of times ... Someone has spit on our face and the floor. From time to time people comment, very few people, stuff like, 'Don't bring this garbage into our country.'" said Islam.

"Generally, if something big happens, such as when [the attack in] Paris happened last year, then we experience these things."

Toronto Police investigating

Toronto police have confirmed they are investigating the incident but are not classifying it as a hate crime until they have more evidence.

Islam and Hamad are not affiliated with any Islamic organization or mosque. They say they're simply there to dispel misconceptions about Islam and point out what the religion has in common with Christianity and Judaism.

"We are not there to convince people to change their beliefs," said Hamad. "We are educating people on Islam. We are not there to make any problems."

Both men said they are afraid that the perpetrator, who approached their table from behind, may return and that something more violent could happen.

"We're really scared about our life and after what happened in Quebec ... it can escalate to a more violent thing. That's why we reported to the police," Hamad said.

'People stand up for us'

Islam says the incident is not representative of the wider community. Despite the odd comment here and there, people usually regard them with respect even if they don't agree with their message.

"Many people stand up ... Couple of people stand up for us and say they're helping us. People are saying, 'I don't believe in your religion but I am supporting you and what you're doing,'" he said.

"People say, 'We don't believe your religion, we don't practise, but we want your voice to be heard.' Those are the things that keep us going."

The two men say they debated going home early that day because they weren't feeling safe but decided to continue.

"This incident ... is not keeping us away. We're scared ... but we are not violent people. We don't have anything to fight back," Hamad said.

"We'll just leave it to the police to give us safety."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/st-lawrence-incident-1.4004869

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Pakistan created terror outfits, the ‘monster’ now devouring its creator: India to UN 

Mar 01, 2017

The main reason for disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir is cross-border terrorism aided and abetted by Pakistan, India said on Wednesday, as the two countries clashed again on the issue at the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Responding to the Pakistan representative’s allegations of rights violations in the militancy-hit state, India’s permanent representative, Ajit Kumar, said it was ironic that a country which had earned a reputation as the global epicentre of terrorism was holding forth on the issue.

“For the last two decades, the most wanted terrorists of the world have found succour and sustenance in Pakistan…For many years now, Pakistan carried out an intense campaign to destabilise the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir by promoting infiltration and cross-border terrorism, inciting, promoting and glorifying violence and unrest in the Indian state, and raking up the matter through baseless allegations,” he said.

Earlier, Zahid Hamid, the Pakistani law and justice minister, alleged the "Indian claim" that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was about terrorism was a false narrative and a "desperate attempt" to divert attention from alleged rights violations.

"The Indian claim that the deteriorating human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir is an internal affair of India is factually incorrect, legally untenable and in violation of the UN Security Council resolution," Hamid said.

He called India an “occupying power” and said Pakistan was a “recognised party to this internationally recognised issue” under UN resolutions.

Kumar responded: “I would…like to point out that Pakistan’s unwarranted references to UN Security Council resolutions are grossly misleading as Pakistan was required to vacate the parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal and forced occupation.

“Pakistan has created terrorist outfits against India.  This monster is now devouring its own creator,” he added.

Kumar said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the situation there is an internal matter.  The central government and the democratically elected state government, he said, had led a system-wide effort last year to restore normalcy in the wake of Pakistan-supported violent unrest.

“The robust and mature Indian democracy proved once again that it has sufficiently strong and adequate mechanisms to redress any internal difficulties even if they are incited from outside.  Prime Minister of India had announced a $12 billion package which is being fast tracked.  Normalcy has returned as 99% of the students of Jammu and Kashmir had taken their high school examinations and schools have reopened,” Kumar said.

The 34th session of the Human Rights Council runs from February 27 to March 24.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/india-pakistan-clash-over-kashmir-again-at-unhrc/story-0YGImdoSo5AviN7PVgT8fJ.html

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Pakistan

 

Urdu and Hindi Are One Language, Says Pakistani Scholar

Mar 2, 2017

The 17th Hamza Wahid Memorial Lecture organised by Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences at PMA House on Wednesday had scholar and award-winning author Dr Fahmida Hussain Memon looking at the ‘Globalisation of cultures and importance of mother tongues’.

“After Partition the people of Sindh started speaking Urdu just to help the migrants coming here feel welcome. But the favour was never returned by the Urdu-speaking migrants. And today, even if there are 10 Sindhi people in a room conversing in their language and there is only one Urdu-speaking individual among them, he would ask them to speak in Urdu as he can’t understand them otherwise,” said Dr Memon.

She added that the British believed in a ‘divide and rule’ policy. Thus they divided one language into two — Urdu and Hindi. “But it is basically the same language as proven by Bollywood films, which both the Urdu-speaking and Hindi-speaking people can understand very well,” she said.

Coming back to the Partition of India, she said that Urdu was seen as the language of Muslims while Hindi became the language of the Hindu community. The issue of language became highly politicised with it becoming a religious issue as well with slogans such as ‘Ik Allah, Ik Quran, Ik Nasl, Ik Zubaan ...’

“But associating oneself with Urdu to be known as Muslims,” she said, “was a kind of false pride. That is also one of the issues on the basis of which later East Pakistan separated from West Pakistan to become Bangladesh. Then the Urdu-speaking West Pakistan looked at Bangla as a regional language just as it sees other regional languages such as Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi, Pashto, Hindko, etc. Now promoting the Sindhi language by the Sindhi people is viewed as a kind of rebellious thing,” she said.

“But tyranny of the Urdu language is not good even for the Urdu language,” Dr Memon said. “And now the same is going on with the English language here. There is linguistic genocide, where one language is killing another. There is linguistic suicide, too, as people have themselves stopped speaking their own language. And there is transformation where the language is changing itself,” she said.

Explaining this further she said that just as the Muslims of India thought Urdu was a richer language than Hindi by adding many Arabic words to it, now English was seen as a prestigious language, a great medium of education, while Urdu was seen as the language of the illiterate folk. “English is the language you speak to get ahead. But where do the regional languages such as Sindhi stand in all this?” she said.

“India has 22 of their regional languages, which have been given the status of national languages in which they also impart education in their schools with English being the second language,” she said.

“But,” she added, “in Pakistan, we have Urdu as our national language, as the regional languages are ignored,” she said.

“Since the world is changing into a global village, the communication mediums have put in danger linguistic and cultural diversity, which is being done away with to bring in a monoculture, and kill cultural identities, too,” said Dr Memon.

She asked if globalisation should be fought against or should it be befriended? The answer, she said, then was in an integrated national cultural strategy. “We should research our cultures and embrace them in order to save our identity or sooner or later we are going to lose our true identities. Own your languages and be proud of them,” she concluded.

https://images.dawn.com/news/1177185/urdu-and-hindi-are-one-language-says-scholar

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Sindh High Court Orders Closure Of Wine Shops Across The Province

Karachi (March 2, 2017):

Chief Justice of Sindh High Court Sajjad Ali Shah has ordered the provincial government to shut all liquor shops and prepare a strategy according to law to regulate the sale of alcohol.

The order came during the hearing of a petition filed by patron of Pakistan Hindu Council and member of the National Assembly Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who argued before the honorable court that alcohol was being wrongfully sold in the name of Non-Muslims. He urged that the sale of alcohol beverages without regulation is violation of Article 37(h) and Hudood Ordinance, under the Constitution of Pakistan. Dr Ramesh Vankwani also proposed to adopt the biometric verification process in this regard.  He was of the view that alcohol is forbidden in all religions and nowadays various Non-Muslim community are observing religious fasting and thus, respect to all religions, just like respect of holy month of Ramadan, must be ensured in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

"A bill has already been presented to the National Assembly for the amendment of Article 37(h), so that sale of alcohol in the name of Non-Muslims could be restricted," he informed.

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1343758/shc-orders-closure-liquor-shops-across-province-month/

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Islamic State Takes Root, Grows Along Afghan-Pakistan Border

March 01, 2017

KABUL/DERA ISMAIL KHAN, PAKISTAN —

An Islamic State offshoot based near the Afghan-Pakistan border is expanding to new areas, recruiting fighters and widening the reach of attacks in the region, members of the movement and Afghan officials said.

Some members of the so-called “Khorasan Province” of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the recent attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan that killed 90 people, and IS gunmen were blamed for the deaths of six local aid workers in the north of the country, far from their stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

Any expansion would pose a new challenge for U.S. President Donald Trump, as he considers how many American troops to keep in Afghanistan where the main security threat remains the Taliban insurgency.

Trump has vowed to “totally destroy” the Middle East-based Islamic State, yet has spoken little of Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been posted for 15 years.

Now he has not only the stubborn Taliban to consider, but also militants swearing allegiance to IS, although U.S. officials are generally less alarmed about its presence in Afghanistan than local officials.

“Daesh is not only a threat for Afghanistan but for the region and the whole world,” said Shah Hussain Mortazawi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani’s office, using a common Arabic name for the group.

The extent of direct operational links between IS in Afghanistan and the Middle East remains unclear, although most fighters in the “Khorasan Province” are Afghans, Pakistanis or Central Asians.

Still, three members of the group told Reuters a handful of Arab advisers helped direct propaganda, recruiting and identifying targets for attack.

Shifting loyalties

IS is suspected of carrying out several attacks on minority Shi’ite Muslim targets in Afghanistan, and the February suicide bombing at the Pakistani shrine bore some of the hallmarks of the sectarian group.

That atrocity, the worst militant assault in Pakistan for two years, indicated that a group based in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar could strike deep into Pakistan territory.

“Islamic State has no proper base in Pakistan, but it has sympathizers and links in Pakistan,” said one member of the group, based in Afghanistan. “Mostly the attackers and suicide bombers enter from Afghanistan to Pakistan.”

Western and Afghan security officials believe fighters frequently switch allegiances between militant groups, making it difficult to know who is to blame for violence.

“Sometimes the Taliban commanders defect to Daesh and sometimes the other way around,” said Mohammad Zahir Wahdat, governor of the northern Afghan province of Sar-i-Pul, where IS and Taliban fighters are believed to be active. “The situation is very unclear.”

Even within the group, claims are contested.

The AMAQ news agency, affiliated to IS in the Middle East, said the movement was responsible for the shrine bombing, but Abu Omar Khorasani, a senior member of the Afghan chapter who sometimes speaks for IS there, denied involvement.

He did say IS was recruiting and expanding beyond Nangarhar to northern Afghanistan.

Pakistani counter-terrorism official Raja Umar Khattab said IS carried out attacks from Afghanistan, and his department was investigating whether the shrine bomber came from there.

“We are also working on an angle that a local militant group could have facilitated IS to carry out the ... blast,” said Khattab, a senior officer in Sindh province.

‘Umbrella organization’

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said U.S. drone strikes and special forces operations had killed about a third of IS fighters in Afghanistan and cut their territory by two-thirds.

U.S. officials say intelligence suggests IS is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.

They are skeptical about reports of an increased IS presence in the northwest, where gunmen may claim a connection to the group to boost their standing.

“Certainly if you’re a local official who’s looking for more resources, by saying that ISIS is in your area, you’re going to get more attention,” said Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the main U.S. military spokesman in Kabul.

Nicholson, who has asked for thousands more troops in Afghanistan, said counter-terrorism forces planned a series of operations in 2017 to defeat IS in Afghanistan “and preclude the migration of terrorists from Iraq and Syria into Afghanistan.”

Still, bolstered by fighters from Pakistani and other militant groups and an active social media presence, some Afghan officials said it had become an “umbrella organization” for disparate movements.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/a/islamic-state-afghan-pakistan-border/3746402.html

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Islamic State Takes Root, Grows Along Afghan-Pakistan Border

Mar 2, 2017

An Islamic State offshoot based near the Afghan-Pakistan border is expanding to new areas, recruiting fighters and widening the reach of attacks in the region, members of the movement and Afghan officials said.

Some members of the so-called "Khorasan Province" of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the recent attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan that killed 90 people, and IS gunmen were blamed for the deaths of six local aid workers in the north of the country, far from their stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

Any expansion would pose a new challenge for U.S. President Donald Trump, as he considers how many American troops to keep in Afghanistan where the main security threat remains the Taliban insurgency.

Trump has vowed to "totally destroy" the Middle East-based Islamic State, yet has spoken little of Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been posted for 15 years.

Now he has not only the stubborn Taliban to consider, but also militants swearing allegiance to IS, although U.S. officials are generally less alarmed about its presence in Afghanistan than local officials.

"Daesh is not only a threat for Afghanistan but for the region and the whole world," said Shah Hussain Mortazawi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani's office, using a common Arabic name for the group.

The extent of direct operational links between IS in Afghanistan and the Middle East remains unclear, although most fighters in the "Khorasan Province" are Afghans, Pakistanis or Central Asians.

Still, three members of the group told Reuters a handful of Arab advisers helped direct propaganda, recruiting and identifying targets for attack.

SHIFTING LOYALTIES

IS is suspected of carrying out several attacks on minority Shi'ite Muslim targets in Afghanistan, and the February suicide bombing at the Pakistani shrine bore some of the hallmarks of the sectarian group.

That atrocity, the worst militant assault in Pakistan for two years, indicated that a group based in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar could strike deep into Pakistan territory.

"Islamic State has no proper base in Pakistan, but it has sympathizers and links in Pakistan," said one member of the group, based in Afghanistan. "Mostly the attackers and suicide bombers enter from Afghanistan to Pakistan."

Western and Afghan security officials believe fighters frequently switch allegiances between militant groups, making it difficult to know who is to blame for violence.

"Sometimes the Taliban commanders defect to Daesh and sometimes the other way around," said Mohammad Zahir Wahdat, governor of the northern Afghan province of Sar-i-Pul, where IS and Taliban fighters are believed to be active.

"The situation is very unclear."

Even within the group, claims are contested.

The AMAQ news agency, affiliated to IS in the Middle East, said the movement was responsible for the shrine bombing, but Abu Omar Khorasani, a senior member of the Afghan chapter who sometimes speaks for IS there, denied involvement.

He did, however, say IS was recruiting and expanding beyond Nangarhar to northern Afghanistan.

Pakistani counter-terrorism official Raja Umar Khattab said IS carried out attacks from Afghanistan, and his department was investigating whether the shrine bomber came from there.

"We are also working on an angle that a local militant group could have facilitated IS to carry out the ... blast," said Khattab, a senior officer in Sindh province.

"UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION"

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said U.S. drone strikes and special forces operations had killed about a third of IS fighters in Afghanistan and cut their territory by two thirds.

U.S. officials say intelligence suggests IS is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province. They are skeptical about reports of an increased IS presence in the northwest, where gunmen may claim a connection to the group to boost their standing.

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"Certainly if you're a local official who's looking for more resources, by saying that ISIS is in your area, you're going to get more attention," said Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the main U.S. military spokesman in Kabul.

Nicholson, who has asked for thousands more troops in Afghanistan, said counter-terrorism forces planned a series of operations in 2017 to defeat IS in Afghanistan "and preclude the migration of terrorists from Iraq and Syria into Afghanistan".

Still, bolstered by fighters from Pakistani and other militant groups and an active social media presence, some Afghan officials said it had become an "umbrella organization" for disparate movements.

The Afghan Taliban, waging war to overthrow the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, are fiercely opposed to IS, and the two have clashed as they seek to expand territory and influence.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/02-Mar-2017/afghan-based-islamic-state-a-wild-card-as-trump-ponders-us-commitment

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Nacta warns of potential terror attack on Karachi shrines

March 02, 2017

KARACHI - Passing on to the security agencies terrorists’ plan to target shrines in Karachi, the National Counter Terrorism Department (NACTA) has stressed the need for making foolproof security arrangements at public places, particularly at shrines located in the port city, The Nation learnt here on Wednesday.

According to details, NACTA’s warning is based on credible information, and reveals that the terrorist groups have planned to target the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Shrine in Sea View, Clifton and Clifton Police station situated behind it.

The communiqué dispatched to the concerned security departments points out risks to the security of all vital installations, including hospitals and schools, and therefore, counsels exercising strict vigilance.

It’s worth mentioning here that the threat alert does not reveal the identities of the groups and their modus operandi.

In the wake of recent surge in terrorist activities across the country, security agencies remain on high alert and keep monitoring all sorts of public places, particularly close to sensitive installations.

Besides that suspicious activities are also being monitored at schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, parks, shopping malls and the places which the terrorists may target to achieve their illegitimate goals.

Strict vigilance and security arrangements have already been witnessed at all shrines located in the metropolis where volunteers along with the security personnel frisk the devotees visiting the shrines.

A security official, wishing to remain anonymous, told this scribe that the risk of an incident of terrorism could not be ruled out in any part of the country.

He informed that security agencies were hunting down those terrorists, which were operating from abroad and recruiting locals for their swift operations.

He said that the suicide blast at Lal Shahbaz Qalander Shrine, Sehwan, which claimed hundreds of lives pointed towards the presence of a strong network of militants within the province. He divulged that an extremely resourceful organisation, Daesh, had established a nexus among different terrorist groups and planned to hit highly valued targets.

Keeping in view the presence of this nexus, law-enforcement agencies have beefed up security at all entry and exit points of the city and thoroughly check each and every vehicle moving in or out of the city.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/02-Mar-2017/nacta-warns-of-potential-terror-attack-on-karachi-shrines

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Amir reiterates no linkage between MQM-P, MQM-L

March 02, 2017

KARACHI - Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Senior Deputy Convener Amir Khan reiterated on Wednesday that MQM-Pakistan had nothing to do with the London-based setup of MQM founder Altaf Hussain.

He said it was unfortunate that even during Pervez Musharraf’s regime, the party did not demand abolition of the quota system and failed to fulfill the aspirations of people. Amir was addressing the workers, who had gathered at MQM-P temporary headquarters, PIB Colony, to mark 30th foundation day of MQM’s Labour Division.

MQM leader said that the movement was initiated in 1978 to unite Mohajir community on one platform and to counter the discriminate policies of the ruling elite. “So far a number of party workers have sacrificed their lives for this cause, and I assure all the workers that MQM would not change its agenda at any cost,” Amir vowed. He regretted that the party’s objective to unite all the deprived people on one platform was still far from achieved, and it was the responsibility of the workers to unite as MQM-P was going through a tough phase.

“We do have political differences with Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), but that doesn’t mean that we turn these differences into an enmity,” he said, and added, “The workers should avoid developing enmity with those of PSP,” directed Amir.

Reiterating the stance that MQM-P had no connection with MQM-London, Amir asked the workers to show tolerance and avoid awarding certificates of traitors or loyalists to each other.

Speaking on the occasion, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that Labour Wing of the MQM was considered as the backbone of party and during tough time workers of the party stood united.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/02-Mar-2017/amir-reiterates-no-linkage-between-mqm-p-mqm-l

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South Asia

 

Kabul attacks casualties toll rise to 22 dead, 120 wounded

Mar 02 2017

The casualties toll from coordinated suicide attacks in capital Kabul has climbed to at least 22 dead while nearly 120 others have sustained injuries.

The officials in the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan (MoPH) have said ordinary civilians are also among those killed or wounded.

MoPH spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kawoosi confirmed Thursday that 22 people lost their lives in the two attacks.

He said around 120 others sustained injuries including civilians.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility behind the attacks which was widely condemned with the Afghan government saying the group is attempting to boost the morale of its fighters by conducting attacks in crowded places.

The attack was initially launched in the vicinity of the 6th police district of the city after a car bomb was detonated to allow the remaining insurgents infiltrate inside the PD#6 compound.

The gun battle between the Afghan security forces and the assailants continued for several hours before the compound was cleared of the militants.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/kabul-attacks-casualties-toll-rise-to-22-dead-120-wounded-02311

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Afghanistan urges Pakistan to open border crossings

02-Mar-17

ISLAMABAD: Landlocked Afghanistan has used a regional summit to call on Pakistan to reopen formal border crossings between the two countries, saying barriers on trade, transit and the movement of people defy the stated objectives of promoting economic cooperation among participating nations.

Islamabad, which hosted Wednesday's summit of the 10-nation Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), sealed all border crossings two weeks ago, saying militants planned and executed recent terrorist attacks across the country from Afghan soil.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the meeting where the presidents of Iran and Turkey, as well as several Central Asian states, were in attendance.

Afghanistan's Ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal, who represented his government at the conference, underscored the need for separating economics from politics to promote the ECO mission of regional connectivity for economic prosperity.

"They [border crossings with Pakistan] have now been closed for about two weeks, causing enormous hardship to ordinary people and damage to traders on both sides. We cannot be for regional connectivity if at the same time, we continue to implement barriers to trade, transit, and the movement of people between us," he said.

Zakhil attended the conference as a special envoy of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"Honourable prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in the spirit of today's summit..., it will be the right message if your excellency instructs the opening of our formal trade and transit routes between our two brotherly countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Zakhilwal.

Kabul rejects charges that anti-Pakistan militants are using Afghan soil for staging attacks in the neighbouring country. The Afghan government in turn has reiterated its long running allegations that Islamabad harbours sanctuaries and leaders of the Taliban waging a deadly insurgency in Afghanistan; charges Islamabad denies as baseless.

Mutual terrorism allegations have lately prevented the two neighbours from engaging in official talks to ease tensions. Pakistan Army Spokesman, Major-General Asif Ghafoor, on Tuesday called on Afghan authorities to enhance security on their side of the border to prevent terrorists from infiltrating into Pakistan, insisting the border closure is not an "indefinite" measure.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/02-Mar-17/afghanistan-urges-pakistan-to-open-border-crossings

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At least 160 killed in clashes on Myanmar-China border: army

Mar 2, 2017

At least 160 people have died in three months of clashes between the military and ethnic armed groups in Myanmar s Shan state, a senior army official said Tuesday, amid efforts to revive flagging peace talks.

More than 20,000 people have been displaced since fighting between the army and several armed ethnic groups erupted near the border with China in late November.

The unrest has rippled across the northern state of Shan and into neighbouring Kachin, hampering a push by Aung San Suu Kyi's government to end the country s decades-long borderland conflicts.

Military offensives that had been rumbling since mid-2016 intensified after several armed groups, together known as the Northern Alliance, launched a major attack in northern Shan. The army responded with heavy artillery and air strikes.

Experts say the fighting in the frontier areas is at its most intense since the 1980s.

That has prompted the UN to warn of a humanitarian crisis building in conflict areas, particularly in Kachin where some 100,000 people have been displaced since 2011.

Giving the army s first comprehensive toll from the clashes, the chief of the general staff said 74 soldiers, 15 police, 13 government militia fighters and 13 civilians have been killed.

"We have 45 dead bodies of enemies and arrested four," General Mya Tun Oo told reporters in the capital, Naypyidaw, speculating hundreds more rebels may have died in the violence.

The toll comes as Myanmar s government prepares for a second round of peace talks, currently slated for March. The negotiations have repeatedly been pushed back because of political deadlock with armed groups.

Suu Kyi wants to broaden a ceasefire signed with some of Myanmar s myriad ethnic insurgent groups in 2015 and known as the NCA.

The most recent negotiations were delayed after the powerful China-backed United Wa State Army (UWSA) militia held its own summit with non-signatories to the deal.

After that meeting attendees signed a statement rejecting the NCA.

Instead they called for an immediate halt to military offensives in ethnic areas and for the UN and China to be involved in the new talks.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/02-Mar-2017/at-least-160-killed-in-clashes-on-myanmar-china-border-army

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Afghan-based Islamic State a wild card as Trump ponders U.S. commitment

Mar 1, 2017

An Islamic State offshoot based near the Afghan-Pakistan border is expanding to new areas, recruiting fighters and widening the reach of attacks in the region, members of the movement and Afghan officials said.

Some members of the so-called "Khorasan Province" of Islamic State claimed responsibility for the recent attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan that killed 90 people, and IS gunmen were blamed for the deaths of six local aid workers in the north of the country, far from their stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

Any expansion would pose a new challenge for U.S. President Donald Trump, as he considers how many American troops to keep in Afghanistan where the main security threat remains the Taliban insurgency.

Trump has vowed to "totally destroy" the Middle East-based Islamic State, yet has spoken little of Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been posted for 15 years.

Now he has not only the stubborn Taliban to consider, but also militants swearing allegiance to IS, although U.S. officials are generally less alarmed about its presence in Afghanistan than local officials.

"Daesh is not only a threat for Afghanistan but for the region and the whole world," said Shah Hussain Mortazawi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani's office, using a common Arabic name for the group.

The extent of direct operational links between IS in Afghanistan and the Middle East remains unclear, although most fighters in the "Khorasan Province" are Afghans, Pakistanis or Central Asians.

Still, three members of the group told Reuters a handful of Arab advisers helped direct propaganda, recruiting and identifying targets for attack.

SHIFTING LOYALTIES

IS is suspected of carrying out several attacks on minority Shi'ite Muslim targets in Afghanistan, and the February suicide bombing at the Pakistani shrine bore some of the hallmarks of the sectarian group.

That atrocity, the worst militant assault in Pakistan for two years, indicated that a group based in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar could strike deep into Pakistan territory.

"Islamic State has no proper base in Pakistan, but it has sympathizers and links in Pakistan," said one member of the group, based in Afghanistan. "Mostly the attackers and suicide bombers enter from Afghanistan to Pakistan."

Western and Afghan security officials believe fighters frequently switch allegiances between militant groups, making it difficult to know who is to blame for violence.

"Sometimes the Taliban commanders defect to Daesh and sometimes the other way around," said Mohammad Zahir Wahdat, governor of the northern Afghan province of Sar-i-Pul, where IS and Taliban fighters are believed to be active.

"The situation is very unclear."

Even within the group, claims are contested.

The AMAQ news agency, affiliated to IS in the Middle East, said the movement was responsible for the shrine bombing, but Abu Omar Khorasani, a senior member of the Afghan chapter who sometimes speaks for IS there, denied involvement.

He did, however, say IS was recruiting and expanding beyond Nangarhar to northern Afghanistan.

Pakistani counter-terrorism official Raja Umar Khattab said IS carried out attacks from Afghanistan, and his department was investigating whether the shrine bomber came from there.

"We are also working on an angle that a local militant group could have facilitated IS to carry out the ... blast," said Khattab, a senior officer in Sindh province.

"UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION"

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said U.S. drone strikes and special forces operations had killed about a third of IS fighters in Afghanistan and cut their territory by two thirds.

U.S. officials say intelligence suggests IS is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province. They are skeptical about reports of an increased IS presence in the northwest, where gunmen may claim a connection to the group to boost their standing.

"Certainly if you're a local official who's looking for more resources, by saying that ISIS is in your area, you're going to get more attention," said Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, the main U.S. military spokesman in Kabul.

Nicholson, who has asked for thousands more troops in Afghanistan, said counter-terrorism forces planned a series of operations in 2017 to defeat IS in Afghanistan "and preclude the migration of terrorists from Iraq and Syria into Afghanistan".

Still, bolstered by fighters from Pakistani and other militant groups and an active social media presence, some Afghan officials said it had become an "umbrella organization" for disparate movements.

The Afghan Taliban, waging war to overthrow the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, are fiercely opposed to IS, and the two have clashed as they seek to expand territory and influence.

"We have almost eliminated Daesh in Afghanistan," said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-pakistan-islamic-state-idUSKBN1685TA

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North America

 

Canada university evacuated over anti-Muslim bomb threat

March 2, 2017

Montreal, Mar 2 (AFP) A bomb threat targeting Muslim students forced an evacuation of nearly 4,000 students from the downtown campus of Concordia University in Montreal.

In an email to school administrators and local media, a group identifying itself as the “underground” chapter of C4, or the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada, at the university directly warned “Muslim students” there it would detonate one homemade explosive a day through Friday to protest their activities.

“Now that President (Donald) Trump is in office south of the border, things have changed. We will not tolerate your behaviour anymore,” the group said in its emailed letter, referring to the US president.

“Until Concordia University stops religious activities of all kinds on campus, we decide the following action to show how far we are ready to go to fight Muslims,” the group vowed.

Montreal police said they were investigating the “threatening email.” They swept the campus for explosives but found none.

A similar threatening letter was also sent to nearby McGill University, which was put on heightened alert, but it did not specify a time or place of a possible attack.

Three Concordia University buildings were evacuated just before midday, and would remain closed until around 6:00 pm (local time), Concordia spokeswoman Christine Mota said.

One of the sites was hosting an “Islam awareness week.” Quebec Universities Minister Helene David, speaking to reporters at the scene, called the threat against Muslim students “deplorable.”

“We strongly denounce these attacks against a university which is a model of living together,” she said.

“Quebec is an inclusive place,” the minister added. “We want to live together. We will not tolerate this kind of situation.”

There has been an escalation of hate crimes in the country in recent months.

In January, a white supremacist student shot dead six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City. (AFP) AJR

http://www.india.com/news/agencies/canada-university-evacuated-over-anti-muslim-bomb-threat-1885004/

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US seeks end to U.N. rights council's 'obsession' with Israel’

Mar 2, 2017

US President Donald Trump's administration is reviewing its participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council, seeking reform of its agenda and an end to its "obsession with Israel", a senior US official said on Wednesday.

Washington has long argued that the Geneva forum unfairly focuses on Israel's alleged violations of human rights, including war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The United States "remains deeply troubled by the Council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel", Erin Barclay, US deputy assistant secretary of state, told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Barclay said that no other nation had a whole agenda item devoted to it and that "this obsession with Israel" threatened the council's credibility.

Barclay questioned whether focusing on Israel was a sensible priority, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was bombing hospitals while North Korea and Iran deny millions of their people of freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly and expression.

"In order for this Council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions," Barclay said.

"As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the Council's actions with an eye toward reform to more fully achieve the Council's mission to protect and promote human rights."

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/02-Mar-2017/us-seeks-end-to-un-rights-council-s-obsession-with-israel

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U.S. seeks end to U.N. rights council's 'obsession' with Israel

Mar 1, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is reviewing its participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council, seeking reform of its agenda and an end to its "obsession with Israel", a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Washington has long argued that the Geneva forum unfairly focuses on Israel's alleged violations of human rights, including war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The United States "remains deeply troubled by the Council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel", Erin Barclay, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Barclay said that no other nation had a whole agenda item devoted to it and that "this obsession with Israel" threatened the council's credibility.

Barclay questioned whether focusing on Israel was a sensible priority, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was bombing hospitals while North Korea and Iran deny millions of their people of freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly and expression.

"In order for this Council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions," Barclay said.

"As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the Council's actions with an eye toward reform to more fully achieve the Council's mission to protect and promote human rights."

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-rights-usa-idUSKBN1683V7

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Muslim athletes running Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon carry flag to show their love for America

March 1, 2017

WASHINGTON — A group of six Muslim-American runners will participate in the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Washington, DC, on March 11, with a simple message: "We are Americans and we love America too."

They plan to carry an American flag the entire length of the race and will wear jerseys proclaiming their love for America.

"We love America as much as any other American. Nobody should doubt our love for our homeland," said Agha Hasnain, the 50-state finisher.

There has been a 40% increase in hate crimes against Muslims since the Presidential elections, says Corey Saylor who is Director of the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a key Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

Mudasar Haidat, who won the National Tennessee half-marathon in 2005, hopes that participation in the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon will also send a message to American-Muslims.

"We want the American Muslim community to feel that the overwhelming majority in this country reciprocate their love," said Haidat.

The group of six Muslims aren't novice runners; some have been running marathons since the 1990s. Hasnain has completed marathons in all the 50 states and another runner, Zafar Shahbaz has run full marathons on all seven continents.

But this time, they are not running the course that races just two blocks from the White House for their passion alone. They realize that as American-Muslims, they need to reassure the larger American community that like all other citizens, they too are proud of America.

Full report at:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/03/01/muslim-athletes-running-rock-n-roll-marathon-to-show-their-love-for-america/98522856/

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Army puts Muslim in charge of 14,000 US soldiers’ spiritual needs

March 02, 2017

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — In January, Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz received the call every Army chaplain dreams of, the call that validates years of intense study and hard work toward keeping the U.S. military in good spiritual health.

He was offered the job of chaplain for an entire division, an honor for anyone in his field but a milestone in his case. After a ceremony this summer, Shabazz will become the first Muslim division-level chaplain in the history of the U.S. military — a Muslim spiritual leader for more than 14,000 mostly Christian soldiers.

Shabazz, who’s dedicated his life to working across religious lines, found it hard to keep calm as he received the news at his desk on Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.

“I’m on the phone saying, ‘Thank you, I appreciate it. I’ll serve honorably,’ and then I hang up the phone and I’m jumping all around like a little kid,” Shabazz, 48, recalled in interviews in February. “I was running around the office saying, al hamdulillah, al hamdulillah, praise be to God!”

To get a sense of what a long shot this might’ve seemed like to Shabazz, consider the numbers: He’s one of only 10 Muslim chaplains in the entire U.S. military; of the Army’s 1,400 or so chaplains, just five are Muslim.

“When you get the call saying you have been bestowed a division, the news is kind of like, unearthly,” Shabazz said. “The list is so small and it’s such a tough cut.”

With four months until the ceremony that will make him chaplain of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division at Lewis-McChord, Shabazz has plenty of time to think about taking on such a visible role in an age of open anti-Muslim hostility. He’d like to think his transition will be as smooth as those of his Christian peers, but he knows that not everyone will welcome him as warmly as the senior officers who gave him a standing ovation when the news was announced at a meeting on base.

“For me, a regular old guy from Louisiana, I look to the heavens and say, ‘Why me?’ “ Shabazz said. “As the day gets closer, I’m sure I’ll have more anxiety and think about it more. I’m extremely proud to have been on this journey for 20 years and never would’ve imagined that I’d be chosen to be the first.”

“Islamic guy in a leadership position?” he said. “If I think about it too much, it’ll get overwhelming.”

———

Shabazz came into the world as Michael Barnes, born into a large Lutheran family in Alexandria, La., about three hours from New Orleans.

Faith was at the center of the household. His mother took the family to church three times a week and recited prayers with her children each night. Shabazz, a lifelong athlete with a 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pound frame, had to study catechism before he could play football and basketball on Saturdays.

Other kids might’ve grumbled about such a rigorous worship schedule, but Shabazz said he didn’t mind — from an early age, he was taken with the spirit of friendship and service.

“I like people who have a commonality of purpose,” Shabazz said. “We loved each other. If people had rent problems or other problems, the church pulled us together to take care of those problems.”

After high school, Shabazz headed to Jarvis Christian College, a historically black college in the small town of Hawkins in eastern Texas. Upon graduation, he returned to Louisiana and began teaching biology to fifth-graders at an elementary school in his hometown. He said he wasn’t prepared for how despondent he became at seeing so many children whose growth was stymied by poverty or poor parenting; he struggled to accept that he couldn’t help them all.

After just six months, he quit. At age 23, he decided to join the Army, thinking that it would help him mature and make him a better, stronger teacher afterward.

“I thought, ‘I’ll do 20 years in the military and then I’ll teach and coach,’” Shabazz said. “But I fell in love with the idea and the paradigm of the military.”

While stationed in Baumholder, Germany, Shabazz worked the motor pool with a Muslim soldier who annoyed other troops with his boasts about the virtues of Islam. Shabazz, who back then was still Christian, grew fed up and decided “to cut him down to size.” He challenged the Muslim to a public debate on the merits of their respective religions.

On the afternoon of the showdown, Shabazz recalled, about 30 soldiers filled a meeting room on base. Shabazz was ready to pounce, but the Muslim opponent “kind of blindsided me with some facts,” launching into a powerful, persuasive defense of his faith that put Islam in a whole new light.

Shabazz, stunned, was down for the count.

“It was all-out cognitive dissonance, depression and shame, honestly,” Shabazz said, recalling his feelings at that moment. “I thought I had a stronghold on the truth. And, for the first time, my confidence was shaken in who I was as a human being and what I believed.”

———

Shabazz began studying Islam on his own, determined to correct the lack of knowledge revealed in his debate with the Muslim soldier. He’d work all day and then stay up well past midnight paging through the Bible and the Quran. He described it as going into a “cubbyhole.”

After two years, Michael Barnes, the devout Christian reared in a Louisiana church, decided to convert to Islam, taking the name Khallid Shabazz to complete his transformation. He said that there had been no single tipping point in his thinking, just a deep identification with Islamic tenets, such as the lack of a clerical hierarchy and the emphasis on charity.

“One of my favorite passages in the Quran asks if the man who thinks and the man who does are the same,” Shabazz said. “It’s the thinking component in Islam that really intrigued me. I am in control of my grace, and I don’t have to answer to the imam. I tell my congregation, ‘Listen, you have to do your own research.’”

Unsurprisingly, Shabazz’s conversion did not play well with his family in Louisiana, where he’s still known as “Michael.” He said it took years for them to accept the change, but now they tease him about praying on time and make him a special gumbo minus the pork sausage. Such conciliatory gestures, Shabazz said, must go both ways.

“I do still go to church with my family — that’s an important part of reaching across the aisle,” he said. “It would be improper for me to disrespect something that instilled in me so much of who I am.”

Shabazz’s switch in faiths didn’t exactly go smoothly with the military, either. He had to write memos for even the smallest religious accommodation, such as time to perform the traditional Friday prayers. He’d fast during the holy month of Ramadan, though his schedule called for grueling work in the field. Ravenous by the end of the day, he’d come to the mess hall only to find pork chops. He’d raise concerns with his superiors from time to time, but made little headway.

“When you have an unknown there, sometimes the leadership kind of treats you unfairly because they’re not educated into what you’re doing,” Shabazz said. “In defense of them, I didn’t explain it very well, either. I was growing. There were some tough days.”

On one of the toughest days, Shabazz was exhausted from a series of 12-hour shifts and hungry because of the lack of pork-free meals. Sitting outside on an M109 howitzer, he felt his frustration spill out in tears. Nobody’s here for me, he thought. Maybe this organization is not for me.

A passing chaplain noticed Shabazz’s distress and stopped. In an hourlong impromptu ministry session, the chaplain let Shabazz pour his heart out about his struggle to carve a space for himself in the military. After listening, Shabazz said, the chaplain mentioned that the Army had recently received its first active-duty Muslim chaplain: Would that kind of path interest Shabazz?

“I’m telling you, it was like a revelation from God,” Shabazz recalled. “Once it came out of his mouth, I said, ‘That is my calling. That is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”

———

The chaplain Shabazz encountered that day wrote him a letter of recommendation for the Chaplain Corps. When he was commissioned, Shabazz said, his mentor pulled him aside for a talk.

“He said, ‘Promise me you will be an advocate for our corps no matter what the faith or the background of the person is,’” Shabazz recalled. “It moved me to the very essence of my core. Here you have a devout Christian who’s taken the time to care for a young Muslim soldier and make sure I got to be a chaplain. I don’t want to help just Muslims. I don’t want to help just Christians. I want to help people who are in distress.”

Shabazz has now been in the Army for 26 years, 18 years as a chaplain. He’s been deployed seven times — including Iraq, Kosovo and a stint at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was sent to advise commanders on religious issues after a string of scandals.

He’s also dispatched to far-flung U.S. installations to minister to Muslim soldiers who are wrestling with some of the same issues he faced as a young Muslim in the service.

The Department of Defense counts more than 6,000 self-identified Muslims currently serving, from a total of 1.3 million active-duty and more than 800,000 guard and reserve members. The real number of Muslims is thought to be higher because many troops choose not to list a religion, especially if they’re worried about backlash.

Iraq, where U.S. troops fought insurgents near some of Islam’s most sacred sites, was a particularly hard deployment for Muslim soldiers. Shabazz said he counseled anguished soldiers to remember the centrality of intention in Islam — what were their intentions for serving? He’d remind them that they were there because they’d enlisted and that the Quran honors contracts. He offered reassuring passages, words to lift the heavy weight of the war from their shoulders.

“In combat, it was tough. You’re trying to establish Muslim service and you’re in a Muslim country fighting against Muslims,” Shabazz said. “The young Muslim soldiers could come in and do jumaa (prayers) and be assured that somebody is listening to them. You hold guys in your arms and they’re crying and saying, ‘Thank you.’”

The concerns Shabazz hears these days are much different, but just as fraught.

The bulk of his work at Joint Base Lewis-McChord isn’t even religious counseling, he said, but hearing out soldiers suffering from alcoholism or troubled relationships. More than sermons, Shabazz said, they want to know the secret to his 27 years of marriage to his college sweetheart, Rhonda, with whom he has three adult children and four grandchildren.

Others turn to Shabazz for advice on personal and career growth; among his most cherished achievements is helping 61 young soldiers find the confidence to apply for officer school.

Over the years, a handful of people have refused to work with Shabazz because he’s Muslim. That doesn’t bother him — he lives by the chaplain’s motto of “perform or provide,” so if he can’t minister himself, he’ll recommend a chaplain of a different faith. But Christians who do agree to be seen by Shabazz are often surprised by his fluency in the Bible’s teachings, a vestige of his many years in the church.

“Because I have the language from my days as a Christian, I can give them Scriptures from the Bible, and that doesn’t violate my religion,” Shabazz said. “My job is not to convert anybody to Islam. God guides people. My only goal is to have people leave my office stronger than when they came in.”

Sometimes, though, soldiers do convert and turn to Shabazz for guidance as they enter Islam. One of the most unusual conversions came just three months ago, Shabazz said. A master sergeant in the Special Forces — a man who’d come to no Friday prayers or study groups — showed up, crying, to meet with Shabazz. He told the imam he was ready to take shahada, the modest ritual to officially accept Islam.

“He said, ‘I heard you’re a good chaplain. I’ve been thinking about Islam for about three years,’” Shabazz recalled. “I took him down to the mosque, he took shahada and I’ve never seen him again.”

Much of Shabazz’s workload involves the rejection of Islam rather than the embrace of it. He writes a newsletter that goes to all the commanders on base and he offers cultural awareness classes in hopes of “getting out ahead,” staving off the anti-Muslim incidents that have made headlines at other bases. He writes memos in support of soldiers seeking halal meals or prayer breaks, hoping to bridge the communication gap with officers that existed when he was a young enlisted Muslim.

Shabazz and Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough, another Muslim officer at Fort Lewis, have known each other since 2009 and have become close friends in the past couple of years. That coincided with a period of rising hostility toward Islam in America. Hough said his friend’s teachings had offered solace to him and to others hurting from the deep divisions in the country.

“I think what he does is extremely tough because of the times we live in, and the fact that he still can reach everyone and be able to articulate a message of unity, inclusion and love is exceptional,” Hough said.

Full report at:

http://okinawa.stripes.com/news/army-puts-muslim-charge-14000-us-soldiers%E2%80%99-spiritual-needs#sthash.0ZUdwGa0.dpbs

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India

 

PIL for change in Muslim inheritance law: HC seeks govt reply

Mar 01, 2017

The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought the government’s response on a plea to amend the Muslim personal law on inheritance alleging that Muslim women were discriminated on issues relating to sharing of property.

A bench of chief justice G Rohini and justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notice to the government and directed it to examine the issue regarding alleged discriminatory practice in the Muslim law with regard to inheritance.

The court asked the government to submit its response before May 15, the next date of hearing.

The court was hearing a plea by a social organisation -- Sahara Kalyan Samiti-- which has sought equal inheritance rights for Muslim women.

The petition, filed by advocates Raghav Awasthi and Shoumendu Mukherji, alleged that Muslim women in India have been discriminated as far their rights of inheritance are concerned, in comparison to their male counterparts.

It said that the discrimination based on customary law as well the present statutory law was violative of their fundamental right to equality enshrined under Articles 14, 19, 21 and other relevant provisions of the Constitution.

The plea contended that Article 13 of the Constitution includes personal laws, including Muslim personal laws. “It is erroneous to assume that personal laws are excluded from the ambit of judicial examination,” it said.

The plea states that a bare perusal of the law shows that a wife shall receive 1/8th of the property of her husband on his death if they have children. In case there are no children borne out of the marriage, she is entitled to 1/4th of the property. A daughter shall receive half of the share of a son.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pil-for-change-in-muslim-inheritance-law-hc-seeks-govt-reply/story-k6Ncy8Wgc1BOrBOYsRuJBM.html

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Indian Muslim community wages war against dowry

March 1, 2017

The Muslim community in Jharkhand’s Palamu region, in India, is slowly and silently adopting a new custom: not accepting dowry.

The campaign against dowry was launched last year in April when Mumtaz Ali – a Pokhari village resident spoke out against the custom and garnered support from community elders who collectively waged a war against dowry exchange. The drive has been endorsed by local Muftis who refuse to solemnise ‘nikkah’ if the families practice the tradition.

Dowry revolution

Approximately 800 families have returned dowry money to the bride’s family, with an accumulating total of over US$900, 000 in the last one year alone.

“The war against dowry will eat up poor families like cancer till it is completely wiped out. There are still a few families who are yet to give up the evil practice. Earlier, the Muslim community did not pay dowry, but of late, dowry has become a part of marriages, in the process badly hampering the sanctity of this sacred bond,” Ali said. “We will also devise a strategy during the next meeting to tackle such families.”

Anti dowry campaign: Constant effort against gender violence called for

Full report at:

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1342568/indian-muslim-community-wages-war-dowry/

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Investigate 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks again, put Hafiz Saeed on trial: India tells Pak

Mar 01, 2017

India has asked Pakistan to re-investigate the 2008 Mumbai terror attack case and put on trial Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed who is currently under house arrest in Lahore under the anti-terrorism law.

India has made a fresh demand in response to Pakistan’s request to send 24 Indian witnesses for recording their statements in the case, an interior ministry official told PTI today.

“We have received a reply from Indian government in response to our letter regarding sending 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements in the Mumbai terror attack case.”

“But instead of entertaining our request, India has sought re-investigation of the case and also demanded trial of Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operation commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Pakistan,” the official said.

The Pakistan government on January 30 had put Saeed and the four leaders of JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat under house arrest in Lahore under the country’s anti-terrorism act.

Saeed, who carries a reward of $10 million, was also put under house arrest after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.

The official said Indian witnesses statement are needed to conclude the case, which has been pending for the last seven years.

He said Pakistan has no issue to try any suspect of Mumbai case provided it has evidence against him.

“If India provides some strong evidence against Hafiz Saeed in Mumbai case, we will try him,” he said, adding that Lakhvi was too released on bail because of lack of solid evidence against him.

India has been urging Pakistan to complete the trial at the earliest. It has said that enough evidence has been shared with Pakistan to prosecute the accused.

The hearing in the Mumbai case was not held on Wednesday.

This was 17th consecutive hearing of the case in which no progress has been made primarily because the anti-terrorism court was awaiting reply from India regarding sending of 24 Indian witnesses to record their statements.

The trial court has already completed recording of the statements of all witnesses in Lahore and their cross examination and other relevant record has also been presented before it.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/investigate-26-11-mumbai-terror-attacks-again-put-hafiz-saeed-on-trial-india-tells-pakistan/story-SD6snTnfLwK4raNO13pNCO.html

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India repatriates 39 Pakistani prisoners

Mar 2, 2017

NEW DELHI: As many as 39 Pakistani prisoners, comprising 21 civil prisoners and 18 fishermen, whose nationality has been confirmed by Pakistani authorities, were repatriated to Pakistan via Attari-Wagah border on Wednesday.

TOI had first reported on Tuesday that India was going to release the prisoners, who had served out their sentences, and fishermen and repatriate them to Pakistan as a goodwill gesture."The government of India attaches highest importance to addressing all humanitarian matters, including early release and repatriation of all eligible Indian civil prisoners and fishermen," the foreign ministry said in a press release.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's recent gestures, including the release of Indian soldier Babulal Chavan and more than 200 Indian fishermen, led to the "reciprocal action" by India. Pakistan, was looking for a "small beginning" from India in the form of release of its 33 prisoners, who, it said, have completed their sentence in India.

Prisoners are only released after they meet three conditions--completion of prison sentence, no pending case and confirmation of nationality -officials here said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-repatriates-39-pakistani-prisoners/articleshow/57421687.cms

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Europe

 

UNHRC witness Pakistan, India clash during meeting held in Geneva

March 02, 2017

GENEVA:  Pakistan and India clashed at the ongoing session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on rights violations by Indian occupation forces and the government in Indian held Kashmir.

Law and justice minister Zahid Hamid said the Indian government claim that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir about terrorism was a false narrative and a "desperate attempt" to divert attention from rights violations.

"The Indian claim that the deteriorating human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir is an internal affair of India is factually incorrect, legally untenable and in violation of the UN Security Council resolution," Zahid Hamid said.

He called India an “occupying power” and said Pakistan was a “recognised party to this internationally recognised issue” under UN resolutions.

The Pakistani delegate accused India of massive human rights violations in  IHK while  India’s permanent representative, Ajit Kumar, said it was ironic that a country which had earned a reputation as the global epicentre of terrorism was holding forth on the issue.

“For the last two decades, the most wanted terrorists of the world have found succour and sustenance in Pakistan…For many years now, Pakistan carried out an intense campaign to destabilise the situation in Jammu and Kashmir by promoting infiltration and cross-border terrorism, inciting, promoting and glorifying violence and unrest in the state, and raking up the matter through baseless allegations,” he said.

Kumar said Pakistan’s unwarranted references to UN Security Council resolutions are grossly misleading as Pakistan was required to vacate the parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal and forced occupation.

“Pakistan has created terrorist outfits against India.  This monster is now devouring its own creator,” he taunted Pakistani Minister.

http://nation.com.pk/national/02-Mar-2017/unhrc-witness-pakistan-india-clash-during-meeting-held-in-geneva

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UN urged to blacklist Saudi Arabia, Israel as children rights violators

Mar 2, 2017

A global network aimed at defending children during armed conflicts has called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to blacklist Saudi Arabia and Israel as grave violators of children's rights.

The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict made the call in its 2017 report released on Wednesday, in which it reminded that Saudi Arabia was removed from last year’s list by former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after the Riyadh threatened to halt funding several UN programs.

Saudi Arabia has been incessantly attacking Yemen since March 2015 in a bid to bring the former government back to power and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

“In 2015, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces carried out numerous incidents of killing and maiming of children and attacks against schools and hospitals that were documented in the secretary general’s 2016 annual report on children and armed conflict,” read the report.

Yemeni rescue workers search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building following Saudi airstrikes on the capital Sana’a on October 8, 2016.

It added that in order to remain off the 2017 list, Saudi Arabia was required to demonstrate a sustained commitment towards refraining from violations against children.

“It is clear the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has failed to do so,” stressed the report before presenting a lengthy list of the kingdom’s atrocities in 2016.

The Saudi military campaign has claimed the lives of over 12,000 Yemeni civilians, according to the latest tally provided by Yemen’s Legal Center for Rights and Development, an independent monitoring group.

The report also lists a multitude of violations carried out by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, noting that the Israeli troops were only kept off the list after lobbying by the US.   

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/02/512641/saudi-arabia-israeli-un-blacklist

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Pope paints a picture of Sweden at odds with Trump’s

By Josephine McKenna

February 28, 2017

VATICAN CITY (RNS) In an interview with a magazine that supports the homeless, Pope Francis suggested wealthy nations are partly to blame for the migrant crisis and urged Europeans and others to stand “in the shoes” of those arriving at their borders. 

“Those who arrive in Europe are escaping war and famine. We are in some way responsible because we exploit their land but we don’t make any kind of investment for which they can benefit,” the pope said.

“They have the right to emigrate and the right to be welcomed and helped.”

Also in the interview with the Catholic-backed monthly Scarp de Tenis — which means “sneakers” — the pope specifically praised Sweden for welcoming and integrating foreigners.

According to the Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics, around 17 percent of the country’s population of 10 million were born in another country.

Francis singled out Sweden’s culture minister, Alice Bah Kuhnke, the daughter of a Swedish mother and a Gambian father, as a “beautiful example” of integration.

And he recalled that back in the 1970s and ’80s, a significant portion of the refugees Sweden took in were from Latin American dictatorships.

“During the military dictatorship in Buenos Aires we used to look at Sweden as a positive example,” he said, adding though that recently it hasn’t been so easy.

“Certainly now Sweden is also encountering difficulty; there have been many requests and they are trying to work out what to do because there are not enough positions for everyone.”

Full report at:

http://religionnews.com/2017/02/28/pope-paints-picture-of-sweden-that-is-at-odds-with-trumps/

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Putin says new Syria sanctions would hamper peace talks

Mar 2, 2017

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Russian President Vladimir Putin, yesterday, said Moscow opposed any new sanctions against the Syrian leadership as they would undermine peace efforts to end the country s protracted war.

Russia and the United States are headed for a clash at the UN Security Council as Moscow prepares to veto a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on its ally Damascus.

"In terms of sanctions against the Syrian leadership, I think that now they are completely inappropriate," Putin said at a press conference in Kyrgyzstan.

"This would not help the negotiation process but would only interfere or undermine confidence," Putin said, adding that Russia "will not support any new sanctions in relation to Syria".

The UN Security Council will vote Tuesday on the text drafted by the United States, Britain and France that would punish 11 Syrians and 10 entities linked to chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015.

Russia has vowed to use its veto to block the measure, which would be the seventh time that Moscow has resorted to its veto power to shield the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

A fresh round of UN-led peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict are currently struggling to get off the ground in Geneva.

Putin -- whose military intervention in Syria helped turn the tables in favour of Assad -- lamented that the negotiations in Switzerland are "not going as smoothly as hoped".

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/02-Mar-2017/putin-says-new-syria-sanctions-would-hamper-peace-talks

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Syria talks should focus on unity govt. during transition period: Russia

Mar 1, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has underlined the need for the Syria peace talks underway in the Swiss city of Geneva to focus on warring sides reaching a consensus on how the war-torn country will be governed during the transition period.

Lavrov made the remarks during a joint press conference with his Nigerien counterpart Ibrahim Yacouba in Moscow on Wednesday.

“This agenda (of Geneva talks) in how it relates to the political process is based on the need to form a unified view of how Syria will be governed during the transition period. Or if you would like we can say to agree on some kind of national unity government for the transition period,” Lavrov said on Wednesday.

However, the unity government should be formed based on a mutual agreement between the government and the entire opposition spectrum as stipulated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, he added. The measure was unanimously adopted in December 2015 in a bid to help bring an end to the conflict in Syria.

“Then according to decisions by the United Nations, the political process should focus on work on Syria's new constitution and after that, on organizing early general elections based on the grounds of this new constitution,” Lavrov further said.

Elsewhere in his comments, the top Russian diplomat stressed that fighting terrorism and separating terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition are critical in the implementation of the UN resolution.

Stressing that extremists should be banned from the Syria negotiations, he said, “We cannot allow for extremist circles from organizations banned by the Security Council to leak into this political process.”

Lavrov further expressed hope that the Geneva talks “will not be disrupted and that it will continue to play an important role in achieving a Syrian settlement.”

Separately on Wednesday, the Syrian opposition said that they had been told by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura that government negotiators were ready to discuss a political transition at the Geneva talks.

Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main Saudi-backed opposition group, also said they discussed political transition and related issues with the UN envoy for the first time.

However, the Damascus government is yet to comment on the remarks.

HNC refuses to add terrorism to talks' agenda

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the HNC, which serves as an umbrella group for militants and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said that it would not allow terrorism to be added to the agenda of the UN-mediated Geneva discussions, which began on February 23.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/01/512635/Syria-Geneva-Russia-Lavrov-transition-Assad

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Mideast

 

Turkey Restoring Tomb of Abyssinian Christian King, Who Sheltered Prophet Muhammad’s Companions

02/27/2017

The Daily Sabah notes: “King Najashi, also known as Armah, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum from 614-631. The Empire was a trading nation situated in modern-day Eritrea and Ethiopia, existing from approximately 100-940 AD… King Najashi gave shelter to early Muslims from Mecca who were seeking refuge from Quraysh persecution by traveling to Aksum, which was at time a Christian kingdom. In Islamic history, the journey is known as the first hijra.”

When the people of Quraysh intensified their harsh treatment of Prophet Muhammad and the first Muslim community, Muhammad ordered his people to migrate to Abyssinia, a Christian land. He called Abyssinia “the land of the just Christian king where no man is wronged.” When Islam was properly explained to King Najashi, he famously stated that the difference between Muslims and Christians was like a line in the sand.

This story is significant for several reasons. It reminds us that Prophet Muhammad was not averse to Christians. The Prophet did not judge King Najashi on the basis of his religious beliefs, but rather by his character and conduct. He was a Christian, but he was still worthy of admiration and respect based on his stance on equality and justice.

Shortly after the first hijra, in Medina, the Muslim community echoed the King of Abyssinia by extending equal rights to religious minorities such as the Jews and Pagans.

Full report at:

https://craigconsidinetcd.com/2017/02/27/turkey-restoring-tomb-of-abyssinian-christian-king-who-sheltered-prophet-muhammads-companions/

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Yemen's First Home-Made Drone Brings Over 100 Saudi Towns, Vital Centres within Striking Range

Mar 01, 2017

"The suicide drone, Qasef-1, has a flight range of 150km, meaning that if it takes off from bordering areas between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, it can hit targets in nearly 100 Saudi towns and 8 vital centers," a Yemeni military source said on Wednesday.

Qasef-1 which has a wingspan of three meters and a hull length of 2.5 meters was unveiled earlier this week by the Yemeni army.

The drone has a flight endurance of 120 minutes, and is capable of carrying a payload of 30 kilograms.

The most important point about the drone is its warhead with the capability of carrying 30kg of explosives which can be used in suicide attacks against the Saudi targets.

Another remote-controlled aircraft, dubbed Hudhud-1 (Hoopoe-1), which was unveiled this week by the Yemeni army has a flight endurance of 90 minutes, and an operational radius of up to 30 kilometers. It has a wingspan of 1.9 meters and a hull length of 1.5 meters.

The Raqib (Rival) drone can fly as far as 15 kilometers for 90 minutes. It is used in reconnaissance missions and is capable of either storing information or transferring data via online connections.

The Rased (Surveyor) unmanned aerial vehicle, which can perform a variety of functions, including aerial reconnaissance and surveillance as well as monitoring battlefield besides geophysical surveying, has a wingspan of 2.2 meters and a hull length of one meter.

The drone has a flight endurance of 120 minutes plus an operational radius of up to 35 kilometers.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951211000947

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French Foreign Ministry condemns the use of children by Houthis

1 March 2017

France condemns the use of child soldiers by the Houthi militia, a practice documented by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

France urges the parties involved in the conflict in Yemen to abide by international law, which prohibits the use of children in armed conflicts. In the frame of the 10th anniversary of the Paris Principles and Commitments, we cooperated with UNICEF, on February 21, in hosting the international conference on “Protecting Children from War,” on the fate of children in armed conflicts.

France emphasizes the urgent need to find a political solution, which is the only guarantee that can prevent further deterioration in Yemen’s security and humanitarian situation and combat terrorism.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/01/French-Foreign-Ministry-condemns-the-use-of-children-by-Houthis.html

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Rouhani urges respect for states’ sovereignty in meeting with Erdogan

Mar 1, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has urged respect for the territorial integrity of regional countries, including Iraq and Syria.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran stresses respect for the territorial integrity of regional countries and is against any violation of territorial integrity in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq,” Rouhani said during a Wednesday meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)’s 13th plenary session in Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

The Iranian president reaffirmed Tehran’s support for dialogue and mutual respect to settle differences, adding, “We should make efforts to immediately put an end to war, bloodshed and foreign interference in the region.”

Last December, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by about two dozen tanks, to the outskirts of the Daesh-held Iraqi city of Mosul.

Ankara claimed the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish forces in the fight against Daesh. Baghdad denounced the move as a breach of its sovereignty.

In January, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that an agreement had been reached with Turkey over Baghdad’s demand that Turkish forces withdraw from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul.

Back in August 2016, Turkey also launched an incursion into Syria, claiming that it was meant to engage both Daesh terrorists in the Syrian-Turkish border area and Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh. Damascus condemned Turkey’s military intervention as a breach of its sovereignty.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani described Iran and Turkey as two instrumental countries of the region and called for further Tehran-Ankara cooperation in all sectors, which he said would benefit the two states as well as regional peace and stability.

He said that the two countries could expand ties in the sectors of energy, transportation and banking, and welcomed setting up joint ventures by investors from the two states.

Erdogan, for his part, said that Tehran-Ankara cooperation was essential to the settlement of regional woes and anti-terror fight.

He also said that Turkey embraced the promotion of ties with Iran.

On the sidelines of the ECO meeting, the Iranian president also held a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during which the two officials discussed a variety of issues, including the promotion of bilateral ties.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L) and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (R) meet on the sidelines of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)’s 13th plenary session in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 1, 2017. (Photo by president.ir)

Rouhani said that Iran was ready to fulfill the energy needs of Pakistan, including Islamabad’s growing demand for electricity.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/01/512616/Iran-Rouhani-Turkey-Erdogan-ECO-Pakistan-Sharif

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Israeli soldier appeals jail sentence for killing helpless Palestinian

Mar 2, 2017

An Israeli soldier, sentenced to 18 months in prison for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank last year, has filed an appeal against his manslaughter conviction and already-lenient jail term.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Yoram Sheftel representing Sergeant Elor Azaria lodged the appeal to the military court.

In the petition to the court, the lawyer asked that the date his client is due to arrive to serve his time, slated for March 5, be deferred until the end of legal proceedings.

Earlier in the day, three other lawyers that represented Azaria from the initial stages of his arrest – Ilan Katz, Eyal Besserglick, and Carmit Shchiver – announced that they were resigning from the case.

The trio announced in a statement that they believed avenues other than an appeal would be preferable.

Azaria was sentenced by a military court on February 21 to 18 months in prison plus a 12-month probation on top of his jail term. He was demoted to the rank of private as well.

Murder charges were brought against Azaria after video footage, recorded by a Palestinian rights activist, emerged showing him killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil on March 24, 2016.

The 21-year-old Palestinian lay on the ground unable to move after Israeli military forces had initially shot and wounded him over an alleged stabbing attack.

Azaria arrived at the scene approximately 11 minutes after the purported assault, cocked his rifle and shot Sharif in the head, killing him.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, Palestinian resistance movements, the victim’s family and the United Nations human rights office have strongly criticized the sentence given to Azaria as “too lenient.”

Rights activists in Israel have also argued that the man should have been prosecuted for murder and face time of up to 20 years in prison.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/02/512663/Israeli-soldier-Elor-Azaria-murder-conviction-killing-Palestinian-Abdel-Fattah-alSharif-West-Bank-alKhalil

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Arab World

 

Syria: Rifts Widening among Terrorists over Peace with Gov't

Mar 01, 2017

Local sources in Eastern Ghouta reported that a large number of militants in Barzeh region have displayed intention to join the nationwide peace agreement with the Syrian Army and receive government amnesty in return.

"That is why the Syrian Army has struck off Barzeh from the list of militant-held regions that are under military attack as its targets," they added.

The sources said that Al-Nusra's disagreement with the militants' decision to join the peace plan has sparked fierce clashes between the two groups of militants in Barzeh region.

Well-placed military sources said on Tuesday that the Syrian Army troops was resolved to accomplish stretching a security ring around the capital, Damascus, by forcing terrorists out of Eastern Ghouta.

The sources said that the army was planning to take back the town of al-Qaboun to cut it off from the Barzeh region to reinvigorate security of Damascus city and its outskirts.

The source underlined that the army's control over al-Qaboun region blocked terrorists' movements between al-Qaboun and Barzeh, tightening noose on terrorists in Jobar districts in the Eastern outskirts of Damascus.

He further added that security was restored to several regions adjacent to al-Qaboun region, including al-Abbaseen and al-Tejarah that were previously being targeted by terrorists repeatedly.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951211000978

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FSA Vows to Shift Fight from ISIL to Syrian Kurds in Northern Aleppo

Mar 01, 2017

The Turkey-backed Euphrates Shield Operations is fought by various units of the SDF and backed up by the Turkish army. The SDF is comprised of a Kurdish majority and a minority of Arab fighters mostly from different units of FSA and defected members of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra that are all called as moderate militants by the US, Turkey and their allies.

The Kurdish units of the SDF have long been complaining that they are fighting on the frontline and, hence, sustain most casualties, and whenever they earn a victory, "the Turkish army sends them to other battle scenes and delivers control over conquered lands to the Arab FSA.

Now the militant-affiliated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported some sources in Tal Rifat Military Council as saying that the council will stop its mission under the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation to start battling the Kurdish members of the SDF in Northern Aleppo to capture the villages under their control.

The SOHR further added that the Tal Rifat Military Council that is operating under the FSA is getting back to the region (Northern Aleppo) with its forces and military equipment to start attacking the Kurdish forces in their positions.

In February 2016, The Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tal Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city.

But months later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Kurdish fighters to leave all areas under their control in Northwestern Syria and move to the territories on the Eastern side of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates.

The Kurdish population lives in three regions, known as Cantons, in Northern Syria, with the Afrin Canton being located on the Western side of the Euphrates stretching over the Northern parts of Aleppo province with Manbij as its most important and most internationally known town.

The Kurdish fighters won back Manbij from ISIL in weeks of bloody war on August 8, 2016. A few months later, the Turkish president warned the Kurds to withdraw from the town and surrender it to the Turkish army or wait for a massive attack.

In mid-November 2016, Spokesman for the Manbij Military Council Sherfan Dervish voiced his forces' readiness to fight against the ISIL terrorists and Turkish army in Aleppo province in Northern Syria.

"The Manbij military council is ready to repel any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey," Dervish told FNA at the time.

He noted that the SDF's mission in Manbij ended as per an agreement signed by the two sides, adding that the SDF forces returned to their previous positions.

"The armed groups present in Manbij now are all under the auspices of the Manbij military council because the council can thwart any possible attack by the ISIL and Turkey and combat aggressors to maintain stability and security in the city," Dervish added.

In early August, the SDF pushed ISIL back from the entire neighborhoods of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo after over 70 days of non-stop bloody clashes with the terrorists.

Also in August, the Military Council of Manbij in Aleppo province announced that over 4,000 terrorists had been killed in tough battle with the SDF since the beginning of Manbij liberation operations.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951211001249

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Up to 15,000 ISIS militants remain in Iraq and Syria

2 March 2017

Between 12,000 and 15,000 ISIS militants remain in Iraq and Syria, a top US general said Wednesday, an indication of a significant dwindling of the militants’ forces.

The US military only provides periodic updates on estimates of ISIS fighters but in 2015 and 2016, the Pentagon put the number at between 20,000 and 30,000 in the two countries.

Some months saw the militants being killed in the thousands, though initially at least they were able to replenish their ranks through a porous border with Turkey that now is effectively sealed.

Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told reporters that among the many fighters killed in recent months are an “extraordinary number” of ISIS leaders, including many close to the group’s elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“We have a specific campaign to hunt them and kill them,” Townsend said in a video call from Baghdad.

“Almost all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s inner circle has been killed in the last six months.”

Still, he said about 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in and around western Mosul, defending the last portions of their former Iraqi bastion.

When the Mosul campaign began in October, officials estimated there to have been 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS militants in and around the city.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/02/Up-to-15-000-ISIS-fighters-remain-in-Iraq-and-Syria.html

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Syrian opposition refuses to discuss terrorism at UN talks

2 March 2017

Syria’s main opposition group said Wednesday that terrorism can’t be added to the agenda of sputtering UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva, as sought by Damascus.

The High Negotiating Committee (HNC) announced the refusal after an unprecedented meeting with a Russian minister, whose country is a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad.

“We will not deal with it, and if (UN mediator Staffan de Mistura) adds it in any time we will not deal with it or discuss it,” HNC delegation chief Yehya Kodmani told reporters.

The issue has overshadowed the Geneva talks, in particular after a suicide assault in Syria’s third-largest city of Homs last weekend which killed dozens of people.

On Tuesday, Russia called for terrorism to be added to the agenda of the talks, which have until now focussed on three “baskets,” or areas for discussion: governance, constitution and elections.

According to Syria’s SANA news agency, citing sources close to the regime, UN envoy de Mistura has agreed that the talks broach four areas: the three previously agreed plus terrorism.

The veteran UN mediator, arriving at the same Geneva hotel as Kodmani a short time later, declined to comment, saying he would speak at the end of the current round of talks.

Russian deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov was cautious after Wednesday’s meeting with the HNC delegation.

“This was a sound meeting, constructive discussion about the Syrian negotiation round. There is a common understanding that we must move toward political regulation of the Syrian crisis,” he said, quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

“What is new about these Geneva talks is that the sides agreed with the suggestion of de Mistura to discuss all issues in a parallel mode, so that there are several tracks.”

He added: “Of course we would like to see direct talks between (the) Syrian government delegation and a united opposition delegation, but we must admit that this is not attainable right now.

The Syrian regime’s chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari demanded at the weekend that all factions at the Geneva talks condemn the Homs attack or be deemed “accomplices of terrorism.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/02/Syrian-opposition-refuses-to-discuss-terrorism-at-UN-talks-.html

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Daesh pulls back from much of Syrian ancient city: Report

Mar 2, 2017

Daesh Takfiri militants reportedly withdrew from much of Palmyra overnight amid a major push by the Syrian army to rid the ancient city of the terrorists.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Daesh had pulled back to residential areas in the east of Palmyra by Thursday morning.

The terror group “withdrew from most of Palmyra after laying mines across the city,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, adding that there are still Daesh bombers in the city’s eastern neighborhoods.

“Government forces have not yet been able to enter the heart of the city or the eastern parts,” he noted.

Syrian forces, backed by the Russian air force, pushed into a western neighborhood of the city late on Wednesday after heavy clashes with Daesh.

The Syrian troops also managed to retake a palace complex to the city’s southwest.

Earlier in the day, an unnamed Syrian military source told Reuters that the Syrian troops, backed by Russia’s air cover, had advanced to the outskirts of Palmyra, also known in Arabic as Tadmur, in the last few days and their “entry to the city will begin very soon.”

The developments came on the same day as the Syrian military announced the recapture of an area called the “Palmyra triangle” a few kilometers west of the city.

Meanwhile, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that the gain followed fierce clashes between Daesh militants and the Syrian army and its allied fighters, leaving scores of the terrorists dead or injured.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/02/512677/Syria-Palmyra-Daesh-withdraw

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Iraqi forces discover underground Daesh boot camp near Mosul

Mar 2, 2017

Iraqi forces have uncovered a training base for the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group on the southern outskirts of Mosul as they are making major achievements in their military operations to fully liberate the city.

The fortified base, which was found 9.7 meters beneath the village of Albu Seif south of Mosul, could only be entered by crawling through a tunnel.

Daesh terrorists were using the site to train foreign nationals to perpetrate various acts of terror.

“The trainees, as part of their programs, should crawl onto these barrels and get themselves in the mud to pass this phase of training. As you see power has been extended to lighten this base,” an unnamed Iraqi army commander told Kurdish-language Rudaw television network.

“They have fully equipped it without any shortcomings. The majority of those who used to undergo training here were foreigners,” he added.

Pictures from the training base show a Daesh flag hung on a wall and remnants of military equipment left behind by members of the terror outfit.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/02/512676/Iraqi-forces-discover-Daesh-training-camp-Albu-Seif-Takfiri-militants

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Syrian forces enter Daesh-controlled Palmyra

Mar 1, 2017

Syrian army forces have reportedly entered the ancient city of Palmyra, which fell to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group for a second time a few months ago.

"The army has entered a western neighborhood of Palmyra and has seized control of part of it," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, a Hezbollah media report said the Syrian army forces and their allied fighters had recaptured the Palmyra Citadel, situated on the city's western outskirts.

The Syrian troops also managed to retake a palace complex to the city's southwest, the report added.

Earlier in the day, an unnamed Syrian military source told Reuters that the Syrian troops, backed by Russia’s air cover, had advanced to the outskirts of Palmyra, also known in Arabic as Tadmur, in the last few days and their “entry to the city will begin very soon."

The developments came on the same day as the Syrian military announced the recapture of an area called the "Palmyra triangle" a few kilometers west of the city.

This image posted online by Daesh sympathizers on December 10, 2016, purports to show a tank operated by the terrorists firing at Syrian troops east of Palmyra, Homs province, Syria. (Photo by AP)

Meanwhile, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that the gain followed fierce clashes between Daesh militants and the Syrian army and its allied fighters, leaving scores of the terrorists dead or injured.

Additionally, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that the government forces were expected to storm Palmyra at "any moment.”

Russia has also expressed its readiness to deploy aircraft in support of the Palmyra operation.

The Syrian army, backed by Russia’s counter-terrorism airstrikes, liberated Palmyra in March 2016 after Daesh held the city for 10 months.

However, Daesh managed to seize the historic city once again in December 2016 after days of intense fighting as the Syrian military focused mainly on defeating terrorist groups in eastern Aleppo.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/01/512585/Syria-Palmyra-Daesh-Russia

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ISIL's Long Convoy of Military Vehicles Destroyed in Syrian Airstrike in Deir Ezzur

Mar 01, 2017

The fighter jets struck a military column of ISIL's vehicles on the road from Raqqa to Deir Ezzur, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their vehicles.

Army reports said some of the vehicles were equipped with heavy machineguns and others were transporting terrorists and weapons.

In the meantime, the Syrian army forces stormed ISIL's positions near Tamin Brigade in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, dealing a lethal blow to the terrorists, according to the report.

The fighter jets also targeted ISIL's hotbeds and positions in al-Hamidiyeh neighborhood, al-Thardah Mountain, al-Mohandeseen area in the surrounding of Deir Ezzur Airport, inflicting heavy losses on terrorists.

The Syrian bomber also attacked a convoy of vehicles of ISIL moving to the Southwest of the Hatla village, destroying a number of vehicles.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951211000730

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Southeast Asia

 

PAS: Those opposing Zakir Naik are the true extremists

March 1, 2017

PETALING JAYA: PAS has slammed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and lawyer Siti Kasim who today initiated legal action against the government for allegedly offering protection to controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.

PAS information chief Khairuddin Aman Razali today called Hindraf and Siti “extreme” for their rejection of “knowledgeable discourse”.

“We know he brings harmonious and scientific discourse. Dr Zakir does not attack any particular party or religion.

“The ones who are extreme are those who oppose this kind of discourse.

“The actions of Hindraf and Siti Kasim are misplaced. They should allow space for knowledgeable discourse without emotion. Rejection of such discourse offered by Dr Zakir is what leads to disharmony.

“I suggest that those who are unhappy meet Dr Zakir face to face to express their views instead of staging an emotional protest,” he told FMT.

Khairuddin was commenting on the lawsuit filed by 19 people, including Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy and Siti, against the government today at the High Court registry in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

They claim the government is protecting a person who threatens the safety and harmony of the country. As such, they are applying to the court for an injunction to stop Zakir from entering the country.

The lawsuit named Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Immigration Department director-general, the National Registration Department director-general, the police chief and the Malaysian government as respondents.

Meanwhile, Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said it was strange that Siti, a Muslim, should wish to have Zakir arrested.

“It would not be strange if they (those opposing Zakir) were non-Muslims or kafir who did not like his preaching,” said Asri on Facebook today.

“Where is the evidence that Dr Zakir is a threat? Is it because there were Hindus who converted to Islam (after listening to him preach) that they are so sensitive, or are there other reasons?”

Waythamoorthy last month sent a letter to Zahid to ask whether it was true that Zakir had been granted permanent resident status in Malaysia.

Waythamoorthy vowed that Hindraf would take legal action if the government failed to reply to his question.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/03/01/pas-those-opposing-zakir-naik-are-the-true-extremists/

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Have courage to reject Hadi’s bill, Muslim MPs told

March 2, 2017

PETALING JAYA: A movement to mobilise Muslim opposition to PAS’s plan for heavier punishments under shariah has urged Muslim MPs to take a clear stand, saying state or religious authorities should not be given “license to discriminate, marginalise or inflict religious tyranny”.

“Not taking a stand or voting ‘yes’ means that Members of Parliament are betraying the trust that Malaysians have given to them to retain Malaysia’s multicultural and moderate identity,” said Azrul Mohd Khalib of Bebas, the group which organised a protest to counter PAS’s recent pro-shariah rally in Kuala Lumpur.

Azrul urged Malaysians to contact their MPs to know their position on the bill, set for debate during the new Parliament session which begins next week.

The bill, first tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang last year, seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, seen as precursor to PAS’s efforts to introduce hudud, the Islamic criminal punishment, in Kelantan.

The bill, when passed, would allow an increase in the current jail term from three to 30 years, a fine of up to RM100,000 and up to 100 strokes of the cane.

PAS leaders have in the past said it was Muslims’ right to be governed by God’s laws.

A PAS leader recently denied Muslim MPs were being intimidated or forced into supporting the bill.

“They should actually vote in favour of (the bill). But we cannot force them,” PAS central working committee member Mohamed Fadzli Hassan told FMT recently, adding that Muslims must support hudud, the Islamic criminal punishment, “because it is a law from God”.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/03/02/have-courage-to-reject-hadis-bill-muslim-mps-told/

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Amanah not convinced by PAS assurance to Muslim MPs

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

March 2, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Amanah has questioned an assurance by a PAS leader that the Islamist party would not intimidate or stigmatise Muslim MPs who do not support its bill to allow stiffer punishments on shariah offenders.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said PAS was already using the fear tactic by questioning the faith of Muslims who were against the private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang late last year.

“If you say that it is compulsory for Muslims to support the proposed amendments and say that we are not real Muslims if we don’t, then that is a form of intimidation for us Muslims, regardless of whether we are MPs or not,” said the former PAS leader, now the Amanah communication chief.

PAS central working committee member Mohamed Fadzli Hassan recently denied Muslim MPs were being intimidated or forced into voting the bill to increase the punitive powers of shariah courts.

“They should actually vote in favour of (the bill). But we cannot force them,” he said. “We have democracy, Parliament, freedom of choice and so on. We respect that.”

Fadzli added Muslims must support hudud, the Islamic criminal punishment, “because it is a law from God”.

“But if they don’t support, what can we do?”

Hadi had on April 7, 2015, reportedly said that Muslims from all political affiliations have an obligation to support the bill.

The bill seeks to give wider powers to shariah courts on punishing Muslim offenders, including an increase in the current jail term from three to 30 years, a fine of up to RM100,000 and up to 100 strokes of the cane.

Khalid said it was important that the shariah system’s legal process be improved before any attempt to increase punishments.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/03/02/khalid-samad-warns-of-trigger-happy-judges/

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Africa

 

Somalia: Somaliland Deports Two Danish Humanitarian Agency Staff for Disrespecting Islam

1 MARCH 2017

Somaliland authorities on Wednesday deported two Danish Humanitarian Agency Staff for alleged blasphemy and disrespecting Islamic.

The two were David Selby, American by nationality, she was the DDG Somaliland Area Manager since Jan 2015, and Nicola Naidu, British by nationality, who has been serving as the DDG Country Director.

According to Radio Dalsan reporter on Hargeisa the Somaliland Parliament approved the deportation of David and Nekloy.

"They disrespected Islam. Somaliland cannot negotiate with matters Islam" Mohamed Kabo Somaliland Planning Minister said in a press conference.

David is accused of disrespecting the Islamic call for prayers known as the adhaan on one occasion.

Nekloy allegedly got into trouble with her driver when she protested when took a break to perform prayers. She had just been picked at the airport.

DDG is a Danish company involved in demining in Somalia and DRC is involved in assisting internally displaced people.

The Ulama Council which brings together the religious clerics of Somaliland had pushed Parliament to have the two deported.

This is the first time foreigners have been deported from the breakaway region in relation to religion.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201703020143.html

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Nigeria: Nearly 8,000 taken from Boko Haram lairs

02 March 2017

Nearly 8,000 civilians were taken from Boko Haram hideouts in Nigeria’s insurgency-wracked northeastern region during the month of February, an army commander said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Leo Irabor, commander of the country's counterinsurgency operation in the region, told a news briefing that some 7,898 persons were "rescued or arrested" between Feb. 2 and March 1 and are being investigated to determine their identities.

He added that eight foreign fighters -- four Chadians, three Nigeriens, and one Cameroonian working for Boko Haram -- were also arrested over the month, while dozens of militants were killed.

"On Feb. 24, 2017, some Boko Haram elements in gun trucks and on motorcycles attacked our troops location at Gajiram. Sadly, one officer and 10 soldiers were killed in action and one other soldier was wounded in action," he said.

Irabor said another Boko Haram ambush on Feb. 9 also claimed eight soldiers, while 18 others were injured. Three other soldiers are still missing, he added.

He also said several incidents of suicide bombing were reported during the month, often claiming the lives of just the bombers.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/185624/african-countries-urged-to-give-to-icc-victims-fund

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Jordanian immigrant in Michigan elated over release from detention

2 March 2017

A Jordanian immigrant who resided legally in the United States for 18 years rejoiced on Wednesday at being able to return home after a month in detention that might have ended in his deportation.

“I’m happy to be back with my family,” said Yousef Ajin, a 48-year-old Uber driver who was released on Tuesday from a detention center in Battle Creek, Michigan, after a federal judge ruled he could remain in the country despite a criminal record because his wife and four children – all US citizens – face hardship without him.

Speaking outside his home in Ann Arbor and flanked by his family, Ajin – a Muslim who was born in Kuwait and immigrated legally to the United States from Jordan in 1999 – expressed gratitude to the judge who ruled he may remain indefinitely, saying: “I’m so happy I can stay.”

Ajin holds a US green card, making him a legal and permanent US resident, but was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Jan. 30 during a visit to their offices in Detroit for his biweekly residency check-in, only days after President Donald Trump signed a controversial executive order restricting immigration.

Also read: US couple who terrorized black child’s party sentenced to decades in jail

The testimony in court on Tuesday also focused entirely on Ajin’s two prior criminal convictions – credit card fraud in 2001 and shoplifting in 2003. Ajin, who expressed remorse during his testimony on Tuesday, had served probation and paid fines for those incidents.

Federal immigration Judge David Paruch, an Obama appointee, ruled Tuesday Ajin be allowed to remain in the country because his expulsion would cause “extreme hardship” for his family. Ajin’s 15-year-old son has severe physical disabilities that require 24-hour care, making it nearly impossible for Ajin’s wife, Sihem Omar, to work.

The Department of Justice attorney handling the case waived the government’s right to appeal Paruch’s decision, so Ajin was released late Tuesday. ICE had no comment as to why Ajin’s long-ago convictions had become significant now, but activists were not shy in seeing his release as a rebuke of the president’s hard line on immigration.

“I believe President Trump has given the green light to people in the field to be more aggressive to arrest immigrants,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/02/Jordanian-immigrant-in-Michigan-elated-over-release-from-detention.html

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/thousands-defy-rally-ban-to-celebrate-pakistani-blasphemy-murderer/d/110259

 

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