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Islamic World News (19 May 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Triple Talaq Case: Muslim Judge on Multi-Faith Bench Kept Mum All Through















The public stoning happened in Taghlit, in the Kidal region CREDIT: AFP

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Triple Talaq Case: Muslim Judge on Multi-Faith Bench Kept Mum All Through

In Indonesia, Moderate Muslims Call For Blasphemy Law to Be Repealed

Unmarried Mali Couple Stoned To Death for Violating 'Islamic Law' by "Islamists"

Saudi Arabia: Summit with US to Open ‘New Page’ With Muslim World

Trump’s Speech on Islam Being Drafted by Muslim Ban Architect Miller

 

India

Triple Talaq Case: Muslim Judge on Multi-Faith Bench Kept Mum All Through

Qazis to Take Brides’ View on Triple Talaq: Muslim Law Board

Babri Masjid demolition: Earlier dropped from case, 6 get notice from special court

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Southeast Asia

In Indonesia, Moderate Muslims Call For Blasphemy Law to Be Repealed

Indonesian Ulema Council Member Rejects Caliphate

Islam Experience to Share between Australia and Indonesia

Christian leads protest against Indonesian vice president at Islamic Centre praised by Prince Charles

Malcolm Turnbull for praising Indonesia as a moderate Islamic nation and 'a great example to the world'

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Africa

Unmarried Mali Couple Stoned To Death for Violating 'Islamic Law' by "Islamists"

How Has Senegal Shielded Itself from West Africa’s Islamist Extremists?

10,000 refugees from Cameroon arrive back in Nigeria

Zambia's 'substandard prisons violate human rights'

At 25, Message of Islam Ahmadiyya Goes Global

AP Explains: Why France's new president is visiting Mali

‘Muslim scholars should promote unity during Ramadan’

Monarchs have no business in selection of Imams – Shekih Bello

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia: Summit with US to Open ‘New Page’ With Muslim World

Daesh Executes Over 50 People in Northern Syrian Villages: Group

Iraqi volunteer forces recapture 2 airbases from Daesh terrorists

Saudi regime offensive on Shia town enters 2nd week

Syria: Army Continues Operations in Eastern Homs to Lift ISIL Siege on Deir Ezzur

ISIL Replaces Deir Ezzur Emir with Saudi Member

Army Wards Off Massive Al-Nusra Offensive in Dara'a

Syrian Free Army delegation pulls out from Geneva talks

Saudi to launch international centre to combat terrorism during Trump’s visit

Saudi Arabia seeks to become major global arms supplier

US jets bomb pro-government Syria forces advancing on militant base

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North America

Trump’s Speech on Islam Being Drafted by Muslim Ban Architect Miller

No Links to ‘Terrorism’ After Car Plows Into NY Crowd

US strikes Syrian regime-allied forces

Global Faiths: Islamic schools claim to produce good American citizens

As arsonist jailed, local Muslim leaders open doors, stress forgiveness

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South Asia

Bangladesh Ready to Send Military to Save Holy Places of Saudi Arabia

45 rockets fired on Nangarhar from other side of Durand Line: Khogyani

US seeks allied input ahead of new Afghan plan

Bangladesh PM, Officials from 55 Muslim States Heading to Saudi Summit

NATO Chiefs of Defence vow to help fulfill 4-year roadmap of Afghan forces

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Pakistan

After Army's Clean-Up of North Waziristan, Locals Want Civilian Govt to Get In Action

Electoral reforms important for transparent elections: Ch Sarwar

Gen Bajwa for arresting extremist tendencies

Two anti-tank landmines recovered in Dera Bugti

Cowardly acts can’t shake JUI-F resolve: Haideri

Bizenjo fears militants leaving Syria may pose threat to CPEC

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Mideast

Turkey Says Will ‘Not Beg’ Germany to Stay At NATO Base

US sticking by Iran N-deal is good news for Rouhani before election

Hamas winds up trial of military leader’s alleged killers

Turkey calls for ouster of US envoy for anti-IS coalition

Palestinian killed by Israeli settler in West Bank clashes

King Salman orders urgent relief to contain cholera outbreak in Yemen

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Europe

NATO Not To Join Combat Role against Daesh: Stoltenberg

2,300 refugees rescued by Italian coast guard

Islamist-Linked Muslim Council of Britain Calls on Imams to Use Friday Prayers To Mobilise Voters

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/triple-talaq-case--muslim-judge-on-multi-faith-bench-kept-mum-all-through/d/111211

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Triple talaq case: Muslim judge on multi-faith bench kept mum all through

May 19, 2017

NEW DELHI: A unique, multi-faith five-judge bench of the Supreme Court, with a Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu and Muslim on it, concluded hearings on the challenge to the triple talaq practice on Thursday but Justice Abdul Nazeer did not utter a single word during the six-day hearing.

CJI J S Khehar and Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman and U U Lalit freely engaged the counsel seeking clarifications on doubts over religious practices and customs of the Muslim community, but Justice Nazeer had no question to ask. Probably, he was well aware of the origin, practice and prevalence of triple talaq+ among Muslims in India and abroad.

No hearing in any court in India on any Muslim custom, practice or personal law can be complete without referring to Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla's monumental work on interpretation of Mohamedan law.

When Mulla was referred to by senior advocate Salman Khurshid on Thursday, Justice Nariman said, "Mulla was not only a great scholar on Muslim law but also a qualified priest like me in the Parsi community." Justice Joseph, who had absented himself from the Chief Justices Conference in 2015 protesting at the event being scheduled on Good Friday and shooting off a letter to the PM reminding him that equal importance must be shown to sacred days of all religions, was the most vociferous. He asked simple and intricate questions about the connection between religion and social practices. He also made the counsel feel at ease before the bench.

While AIMPLB was adamant that Muslim personal law practices could not be tested for its validity by courts, the petitioners were adamant that triple talaq was a blot on the Muslim community for denying right to equality to women. With the division getting sharper as the conclusion of hearing neared, senior advocate Indira Jaising said, "The SC has to walk the razor's edge.

There is no escaping this." CJI Khehar replied in a lighter vein, "If we walk the razor's edge, we will be cut into two." Another advocate, Ashwini Upadhyay, attempted to ridicule AIMPLB's stand saying tomorrow there would be a Hindu Personal Law Board to take a rigid stand on Hindu practices. The bench stopped him and said, "You are a lawyer, don't argue this."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/triple-talaq-case-muslim-judge-on-multi-faith-bench-kept-mum-all-through/articleshow/58741926.cms

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In Indonesia, moderate Muslims call for blasphemy law to be repealed

John McBeth

May 18, 2017

JAKARTA // Moderate Muslim leaders and human rights activists have renewed calls for the repealing of Indonesia’s 1965 blasphemy law after the ethnic-Chinese Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama was convicted and jailed for misusing a verse in the Quran.

They say the growing use of the law, enshrined in Indonesia’s criminal code, inhibits free speech and has left Christians and other minorities feeling marginalised in a Muslim-majority nation whose secular constitution is meant to protect religious freedom.

There were only eight cases of blasphemy during authoritarian leader Suharto’s 32-year rule, including one in which a tabloid editor was jailed for five years for publishing a popularity poll that put the Prophet Mohammad in eleventh place.

But Human Rights Watch records 106 cases alone during the decade-long presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose efforts to curry favour with conservative religious leaders is now widely blamed for the growing intolerance in Indonesian society.

Even now, blasphemy remains in the government-proposed draft of the revised criminal code. It is still being deliberated in parliament, although it has now been moved from "crimes against public order" to "crimes against religion".

Critics want it abolished altogether.

"No question the blasphemy article was used as a political tool," Indonesia’s Tempo magazine said in an editorial this week. "It can be used by anyone to throw a person in jail who dares question religious definitions."

The North Jakarta district court sentenced Purnama to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy, killing his chances of a second term in office.

He was jailed despite prosecutors reducing the charge to hate speech a day after the governor’s resounding defeat in the May 9 gubernatorial election.

That alone is strong grounds for an appeal, but the court’s surprise decision to order Purnama’s immediate arrest means he will remain in jail during that process and unable to serve out his remaining six months in office.

Analysts blame Purnama’s surprisingly heavy election loss on his drawn-out trial and a coordinated campaign by Islamic hardliners and self-serving politicians determined to prevent the election of Jakarta’s first Christian governor.

But disturbing for legal experts was the lack of a dissenting opinion among the five judges. The single Christian judge was replaced by a Muslim when he died during the four-month trial, leaving only a Balinese Hindu among the other four Muslim jurors.

The verdict creates the perception that the judiciary – or some of it – has become part of the rising intolerance in the world’s largest Muslim nation.

"It instantly sent a signal that non-Muslims are lesser citizens," Indonesia expert Sidney Jones wrote in a recent commentary. "It underscored the rot at the core of the legal system, the lack of progress made in judicial reform, and the weakness of constitutional guarantees of equality under the law."

The way political elites seem oblivious to the potential harm to national unity by exploiting religious sentiments and racism ahead of the 2019 legislative and presidential elections when president Joko Widodo is expected to seek a second term.

A violent May 13 protest against a visit to Christian-dominated North Sulawesi by deputy parliamentary speaker Fahri Hamzah, a member of the Sharia-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), showed the potential for widening polarisation.

In addition to having a remarkably intolerant religious affairs minister, one of Mr Yudhoyono’s key advisers was Ma’ruf Amin, the director of the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), which issued edicts against secularism, pluralism and liberalism.

In turning MUI into a quasi-state institution, the president effectively handed control of religion and its impacts on public life to a conservative lobby that went on to demonstrate its dislike of the trappings of secular Indonesia, including the celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Indonesians facing charges of blasphemy have all been convicted without exception. And all have been members of minority religious communities, including Shia, Sufi and Gafatar, a tiny Kalimantan community whose three leaders were given harsh five-year jail terms for blasphemy last March.

Most of the blasphemy cases have been brought in Aceh, the only province permitted to practise Sharia, and in West Sumatra, West Java and Madura where Islamists, politicians and police have joined forces to target minorities in the name of maintaining public order.

Mr Widodo has done little to reverse the discriminatory policies and practices, instead seeking the help of the two Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, to counter the rise of the conservatives.

That has clearly failed, in large part because neither of the organisations have widely respected leaders of the calibre of the late Muslim intellectual Nurholish Majid and ex-president Abdurrahman Wahid who both led the campaign for a democratic Islam.

http://www.thenational.ae/in-indonesia-moderate-muslims-call-for-blasphemy-law-to-be-repealed

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Unmarried Mali Couple Stoned To Death for Violating 'Islamic Law' by "Islamists"

May 19, 2017

An unmarried couple were stoned to death in public in northeast Mali by "Islamists", local officials revealed, the first such incident since jihadist groups were driven out of the region.

Jihadists seized key northern cities in March 2012, and though they were driven out by a French-led military intervention in 2013, Islamist groups continue to make their presence felt with frequent attacks on domestic and foreign forces.

"The Islamists dug two holes where they put the man and the woman who lived maritally without being married," said a local official. "They were stoned to death."

The stoning happened in Taghlit on Tuesday, close to Aguelhok in the Kidal region, and the same source told AFP that members of the public were invited to take part.

"Four people threw stones at them until they died," they said.

Another local official said the Islamists had accused the unmarried couple of violating "Islamic law", which requires punishment by stoning.

During their brief control of key towns in the vast north, jihadist groups imposed a version of Sharia law which forced women to wear veils and set whipping, stoning and mutilation as punishment for transgressions.

In July 2012, the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group stoned a couple in public in Aguelhok who they accused of having children outside marriage.

The stoning comes on the eve of an expected visit to Mali by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is due to meet French troops stationed there on Thursday or Friday.

The Malian Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AMDH) described the stoning as "cowardly murder".

This is barbaric. The people who did this should be arrested and put on trial," said Oumar Diakite, an AMDH official.

A 2015 peace deal signed by Tuareg-led rebels, the government and pro-Bamako militias aimed to quell separatist uprisings in the north and isolate jihadist groups.

But its implementation has been piecemeal and the jihadists, who did not sign up to the accord, continue to mount attacks on civilians and the army, as well as French and UN forces.

The new UN peacekeeping chief said a rapid intervention force of Senegalese troops would soon be deployed in central Mali, which has seen an increase in attacks and communal violence since 2015.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, on his first visit to Mali since becoming under secretary-general for UN peacekeeping operations, said the UN mission lacked capacity.

"We are hopeful that, soon, a number of reinforcements will arrive, which will make up for these shortcomings," he said.

The UN mission, known by its acronym MINUSMA, has been stationed in the west African country since 2013 and is considered the world body's most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment.

The opposition Parena party meanwhile noted that 309 people had been killed since the beginning of the year by armed groups, describing "alarm at the deterioration of the security situation" two years after the signing of the peace deal.

http://nation.com.pk/international/18-May-2017/unmarried-mali-couple-stoned-to-death-for-violating-islamic-law

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Saudi Arabia: Summit with US to Open ‘New Page’ With Muslim World

18 May 2017

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir praised on Thursday Riyadh’s “historic” ties with Washington and “expected” commercial and political deals to be signed during Donald Trump’s imminent visit to the kingdom, the leader’s first foreign trip as US president.

Trump’s visit will “reinforce historic partnership” between Saudi Arabia and the United States, Jubeir said during a press conference he held Thursday.

The Arab-Islamic-American Summit, which will be attended by 37 leaders, will focus on combating terrorism, bolstering trade, investment, youth and technology, Jubeir said.

Jubeir also said this summit with US is going to “open a new page” in terms of dialogue with the Muslim world.

He also said that Saudi Arabia wants to send a message to the West that the Muslim world is “not an enemy,” adding the Riyadh comes second after the United States in the fight against ISIS.

The foreign minister said both US and Saudi agree on eliminating terror groups such as ISIS.

He also said: “We will also look at terror financing initiative, increasing cooperation between Islamic Military Alliance and the [US-led] coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.”

Saudi Arabia, a longtime US ally, caries a major influence in the Muslim world, especially after it formed the 34-member Islamic Military Alliance (IMA) against terrorism and extremism.

The minister said there were already several thousand people, who have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for “either recruiting or participating in attacks for ISIS.”

At end of the summit, leaders are going to launch global counter-extremism center in Riyadh, which will fight an “ideological battle”, he added.

Iran

Jubeir, meanwhile, lent his full weight to Trump’s policies, saying “differences in opinion” with the United States only arose during Obama’s administration.

Ex-President Barack Obama used diplomacy - symbolized in the famous nuclear deal signed with Iran - to stave off any potential for the Islamic republic to create a nuclear bomb, an allegation Tehran had always rejected. However, the nuclear deal made some neighboring countries such as the Gulf states uncomfortable as it lifted economic sanctions against Iran, giving it more power.

“We will work with our allies, particularly US, to see that Iran is made to act like a normal country,” Jubeir said. “As long as Iran threatens with terrorism, it is impossible to have normal relations with them.”

While reiterating Riyadh’s rejection for Iran’s interference in the region, Jubeir dubbed the presidential Iranian election as an “internal matter.”

“We will judge Iran by its actions not by its words,” he added.

Trump ‘unconventional,’ ‘pragmatic’

While Trump said that he will not move US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem during his visit, Jubeir said the US leader’s “unconventional abut pragmatic approach” can pave the way to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We believe resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict would change regional landscape, requires courage, fresh approach and thinking outside the box,” he added.

Trump spoke repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign about moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but the debate on the controversial issue has apparently been postponed since he took power. Eastern Jerusalem is considered to be Palestinian territory under international law.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/18/Saudi-FM-Summit-with-US-will-open-a-new-page-with-Washington-.html

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Trump’s speech on Islam being drafted by Muslim ban architect Miller

May 19, 2017

Miller, who is senior adviser to the President, played a key role in drafting the Trump administration’s ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries

Donald Trump’s speech on Islam is being drafted by Stephen Miller, who previously drafted the administration’s failed travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.

The speech on combating radical Islam is to be given to around 50 Muslim leaders during the President’s first official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Miller, who is senior adviser to the President, played a key role in drafting the Trump administration’s ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, which was denounced as a ban on Muslims.

He also reportedly wrote Trump’s inauguration speech.

While he was a student at Duke University, Miller co-founded the Terrorism Awareness Project, an initiative run by the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, which has been accused of ties to anti-Muslim hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

At the time, Miller said the project was aimed at educating students about the risk of “Islamofascism”.

Trump’s speech will also have input from his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, McMaster and his deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/world/2017/05/19/trumps-speech-islam-drafted-muslim-ban-architect-miller/

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India

 

Qazis to take brides’ view on triple talaq: Muslim law board

Amit Anand Choudhary & Dhananjay Mahapatra

May 19, 2017

NEW DELHI: Making a desperate attempt to dissuade the Supreme Court from testing the validity of triple talaq, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) agreed on Thursday to pass a resolution advising qazis to include the bride's view on triple talaq in the nikahnama.

AIMPLB, through Kapil Sibal, responded to a query from the court about a woman being given the option to incorporate in the nikahnama whether she agreed to give her would-be husband the right of triple talaq. The court reserved its order on seven petitions which have questioned the validity of triple talaq.

On the sixth and final day of hearing before a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and Abdul Nazeer, Kapil Sibal, representing AIMPLB, said, "I have spoken to the board and they have agreed to pass a resolution advising qazis to specify in the nikahnama whether the bride intended to give her would-be husband the right to divorce her through triple talaq."

Sibal's final spin gelled with his argument that marriages among Muslims were a contract and others should not complain if the contracting parties were agreeable to triple talaq, which has been in practice for the last 1,400 years and an overwhelming majority of 160 million Indian Muslims held this as a valid mode of ending marital relations. But the bench persisted with its doubt, "How will one determine whether the to-be bride's views in the nikahnama were expressed in exercise of her free will?"

The bench said, "All are unanimous that triple talaq finds no mention in the Quran but it is certainly inferable that it is a sinful practice. Even if one does not test its constitutional validity, how could a theologically sinful custom be enforced as a practice? What is morally wrong cannot be legally right."

Sibal said, "A lot of sinful things happen in society and are protected by personal law. The Supreme Court is not there to get into testing the legality of every sinful practice and correct it. If the government wants to correct it, it can do so by enacting legislation. If the SC starts interpreting Hadith, then it chooses to travel down a slippery slope.

"AIMPLB does not want the SC to get a foothold in the doors leading to scrutiny of customs. Once it gets a foothold, the doors to personal practices and customs will be ajar and the court will not know where to stop. It is a very slippery slope and the court must be very careful." This was met with vociferous disapproval from women lawyers even as the SC said it understood Sibal's argument that courts must adopt a hands-off approach.

The bench asked Sibal, "If the courts were to have a handsoff approach, how did the Bombay high court order women's entry in the Shani Shingnapur temple and Haji Ali dargah?" Sibal said women's groups had protested against the ban on their entry into Shani Shingnapur temple despite enactment of the Maharashtra Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956. "This is what I am arguing. Enact a law and then regulate. But let the courts not test the validity of a custom or practice of a community," he said.

Appearing for the Muslim Women Personal Law Board, which has no male member in its governing body as compared to 30 women members in AIMPLB's 251-strong governing body, advocate Arif Mohammed Khan said, "Kapil Sibal is one of the finest legal minds in the country. When the facts do not support him — the Quran does not mention anything about triple talaq and majority regards it as a sinful practice — he muddies the water by bringing in customs and faith."

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, assisting the court, said he did not agree with Sibal's argument that the legislature could interfere in regulating and banning customs and practices of a community but their validity could not be tested by the courts. The SC said it per se did not agree with Sibal's argument. Senior advocate Indira Jaising said in a lighter vein, "If the court agrees with him on this, I will seek hearing before an even larger bench which includes at least one woman judge."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/qazis-to-take-brides-view-on-triple-talaq-muslim-law-board/articleshow/58741880.cms

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Babri Masjid demolition: Earlier dropped from case, 6 get notice from special court

May 19, 2017

A special court in Lucknow hearing the Babri Masjid demoliation case issued notices to six persons on Thursday asking them to appear before it on May 20.

Special Counsel for CBI in the case Lalit Kumar Singh said, “The six persons are those who were earlier dropped from the case by the High Court. Special Judge (Ayodhya Prakaran) SK Yadav today issued notices to them for their appearance on May 20 as per Supreme Court order passed on April 19 .”

He named the six to be BL Sharma, Nitya Gopal Das, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Dharam Das, Satish Pradhan and Champat Rai Bansal.

The court is hearing a case against the accused alleged to having been involved in demolition of the mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.

A separate case, for allegedly instigating the mob, was being heard in Rae Bareli. The Supreme Court, on April 19, ordered that the case in Rae Bareli be transferred and heard on a day-to-day basis in Lucknow and a verdict be delivered within two years.

The court while reviving the criminal conspiracy charges against the senior leaders of the BJP and shifting their trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow, also ordered restoration of charges against Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and others. The court exempted Kalyan Singh from prosecution on account of the constitutional immunity he enjoys as Governor.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/babri-masjid-demolition-earlier-dropped-from-case-6-get-notice-from-special-court-4663040/

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian Ulema Council member rejects caliphate

May 18, 2017

A member of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the nation's top Islamic clerical body, has said that people who want to replace the country’s political system with khilafah (an Islamic caliphate) are betraying the consensus agreed upon by the nation’s founding fathers.

“Establishing a caliphate in Indonesia is a religious deviation and a political betrayal,” M Cholis Nafis, who chairs the MUI's Islamic propagation commission, said as quoted by Tribunnews.com.

Cholis said a caliphate, in which a caliph leads a global Islamic government under Islamic rule, is merely an ijtihad, or an interpretation of the teachings of Islam. It is not the only interpretation found in the Islamic world, he added.

He argued that even the Prophet Muhammad promoted governance based on pluralistic values when he established Madina as the first Islamic polity.

“Therefore, we agree with the government’s policy of cracking down on any movement that threatens the nation’s unity,” he said.

The government is currently preparing to ban Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). HTI declares that the values of democracy contravene the fundamental vision of Islam. The organization has called for the creation of a global Islamic caliphate. (ary/af)

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/05/18/indonesian-ulema-council-member-rejects-caliphate.html

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Islam Experience to Share between Australia and Indonesia

19 May 2017

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - A group of Muslim Exchange Program (MEP) participants will share their experience of Islam in both countries through a collection of writings, according to the Australian Embassy here on its official website on Thursday.

They will share their experience through writings entitled "Hidup Damai di Negeri Multikultur: Pengalaman Peserta Pertukaran Tokoh Muda Muslim Australia-Indonesia."

This publication reflects the success of the MEP program that has been running for fifteen years and captures the life-changing experiences the participants gained through this program.

Since the MEP program was established in 2002 by the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII) under the Department of Foreign Affairs, nearly 200 young Muslim leaders from both countries have participated, experiencing Islam and diversity in each other's country.

This month, a group of five young Australian Muslims are in Indonesia to participate in the fifteenth year of the MEP. During the two-week program (May 7-20) they have travelled to Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Makassar to meet interfaith organisations, community leaders, leading academics, artists and other parts of the community.

A reciprocal visit to Australia by ten Indonesian Muslim delegates also took place earlier this year as part of the MEP program. Australian Deputy Head of Mission to Indonesia Justin Lee said this program has successfully created enduring bonds between young Muslim leaders in both countries, providing them with life-changing experiences.

Full report at:

http://www.en.netralnews.com/news/currentnews/read/5989/islam.experience.to.share.between.australia.and.indonesia

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Christian leads protest against Indonesian vice president at Islamic Centre praised by Prince Charles

18 May 2017

A passionate protest is taking place this afternoon outside the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, where the Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla is due to deliver a lecture.

The protest in favour of Christians and other minorities and against Islamic extremism comes just a day after the Prince of Wales spoke at the inauguration of the new home for the centre, appealing for better 'cultural connectivity' in society and praising the centre's goals of 'dialogue, understanding and connection'.

The peaceful demonstration is aimed at highlighting the 'ongoing persecution of minorities,' and comes after the jailing earlier this month of the Christian former governor of Jakarta, Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, on blasphemy charges.

One demonstrator claimed that eight security men from the embassy could be seen taking photographs of the protesters.

Mariella Djorghi, a Catholic from Indonesia and a trained lawyer who helped organise the protest, told Christian Today: 'My main point is to ask questions to Jusuf Kalla – how he would envisage a moderate Islam in Indonesia. Because at the moment what we have seen is a Christian governor who has lost a re-election because Muslims went onto the streets with placards quoting a Koran verse – al Ma'ida 51.'

The verse reads: 'O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you - then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.'

Djorghi said: 'Because of that, my belief was that the vote was switched. He is a governor who has proven to be highly competent, and he lost to an Islamist who was openly supported by Jusef Kalla, who should have remained neutral.'

'So what message is this sending to non-Muslims like me? It means that you are not welcome in this country.

'I would not be risking standing here being registered by the intelligence of the embassy so I cannot go home, or whatever they might have in store for me, if I did not feel passionately about this. Many people are scared because they have families back home. If you can do that to a governor, you can do anything to anyone else. Why is the governor behind bars and not them?

'I have been standing here for two hours appealing to the embassy officials' humanity – and they are saying they are neutral: surely you are not human if you can't take sides.'

Djorghi added: 'When I found out that Prince Charles was the patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, I thought: "Please resign from that post. This is not good news for you." It beggars belief.

Full report at:

https://www.christiantoday.com/article/christian.leads.protest.against.indonesian.vice.president.at.islamic.centre.praised.by.prince.charles/109301.htm

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Malcolm Turnbull for praising Indonesia as a moderate Islamic nation and 'a great example to the world'

19 May 2017

Pauline Hanson has slammed Malcolm Turnbull for praising Indonesia as a moderate Islamic nation and 'a great example to the world'.

One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson took to Twitter on Friday to savage the prime minister for claiming Indonesia, the largest majority Muslim country in the world, lived in harmony.

'In Indonesia, politicians are jailed for insulting Islam and gays are flogged. Yet Turnbull praised it as a moderate Islamic nation,' she said.

Speaking to media on Friday, Mr Turnbull said Indonesia served as 'proof that Islam democracy and moderation are compatible'.

'A quarter of a billion Muslims live in Indonesia and it is a nation where democracy and moderation, tolerance, mutual respect operate hand in hand,' he said.

Mr Turnbull said it was something Australia should aspire to.

'It's a great example to the world,' he said.

Ms Hanson, who previously said Islam was a disease and called for a complete Muslim ban in Australia, disagreed with Mr Turnbull's sentiment.

She highlighted Indonesia's punishment of two men who were sentenced to 85 lashes May this year after they were found guilty of gay sex.

The men, both in their early 20s, were charged with homosexuality in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province.

The punishment was imposed under Sharia law.

Ms Hanson also mentioned Indonesia's punishment of a man who was found guilty of sex outside of marriage.

The 27-year-old man was caned eight times in front of a crowd in Aceh in February this year.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4521324/Pauline-Hanson-Malcolm-Turnbull-Islam-Indonesia-Muslims.html

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Africa

 

How Has Senegal Shielded Itself From West Africa’s Islamist Extremists?

Ryan Cummings

May 18, 2017

Islamist extremist groups that were once confined to slivers of territory in the most marginalized areas of West Africa are increasingly expanding their operational footprint in the region. Whether it is Boko Haram, which has rebranded itself as the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s West African affiliate, or the myriad al-Qaida offshoots that occupied northern Mali following a coup in 2012, insurgent operations are no longer confined by these groups’ countries of origin.

The Islamic State’s West Africa Province, as Boko Haram now calls itself, has spread beyond its base in northeastern Nigeria into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, which all have borders near the dwindling waters of Lake Chad. Al-Qaida’s various branches in Mali, meanwhile, first expanded their presence from the country’s desert north into its more populous center, before encroaching last year on neighboring Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, which had been relatively free of attacks from Islamist extremists. ...

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/22195/how-has-senegal-shielded-itself-from-west-africa-s-islamist-extremists

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10,000 refugees from Cameroon arrive back in Nigeria

18 May 2017

Over 10,000 Nigerian refugees forced to leave shelter in Cameroon have arrived back in their own country, officials confirmed on Thursday.

The governor of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State, epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency, Kashim Shettima, said 10,500 people had arrived back in Nigerian territory.

"Right now 3,500 people have arrived in Pulka while 7,000 people are now in Banki out of the 79,000 people the Cameroon authorities ordered to leave their soil," Shettima said at a meeting with the head of Nigeria’s national emergency management agency.

Over 2.5 million people fled their homes in the volatile northeast in the wake of violence by Boko Haram insurgents between 2012 and 2015.

Some fled to neighboring communities in Cameroon for refuge.

Shettima accused the authorities in Cameroon of failing to honor an agreement with the Nigerian government and the UN on the presence of the refugees.

Borno State shares borders with Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/189702/10000-refugees-from-cameroon-arrive-back-in-nigeria

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Zambia's 'substandard prisons violate human rights'

18 May 2017

Zambian prisons do not comply with internationally accepted human rights standards, thus violating the rights of inmates, both convicted and awaiting trial, including "circumstantial children" living in prisons, according to the chairman of the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday.

Mudford Mwandanga told journalists at an EU-sponsored media training workshop that the prisons in the southern African country were so overcrowded that it was undermining the inmates' right to health.

The chairman said that the total population of prisoners in Zambia was over 25,000, almost three times the holding capacity, which stands at 8,250.

"Of the 25,000, 7,000 are remandees, while the population of circumstantial children aged between 6 months to 1 year is 250," he said.

Circumstantial children are those who were either born in prison to convicted mothers, or living in prison with their mothers who were convicted of some criminal offense.

Mwadanga also noted the lack of physical separation between convicted prisoners and remandees waiting for their cases to be heard and determined in a court of law.

"In some cases, convicted juvenile offenders and those young people still undergoing trial, including prohibited immigrants are grouped together with convicted hard-core criminals," he said.

Besides torture which is widespread in Zambian prisons, inmates are also either denied food in terms of quality and quantity or are only fed once a day, Mwadanga added.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/189700/10000-refugees-from-cameroon-arrive-back-in-nigeria

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At 25, Message of Islam Ahmadiyya Goes Global

MAY 19, 2017

Dr Qasim Akinreti, London The Tahir hall Baitul Futuh mosque London the largest mosque in Western Europe was filled to the brim. The event was the celebration of 25 progressive years of satellite broadcast of the true Islam from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, owner of the Muslim Television Ahmadiyya MTA International. The world head of the Ahmadiyya community Hazrat Masroor Ahmad Khalifatul Masih V walked in at 6.30pm local time for the commencement of the celebration. Ali Munhanda Sahib read from the glorious Qur’an Suratul Al- Fatih chapter 26 verse 29-30.Brother Shamir Coordinator MTA Mauritius translated the passage. Sonorous poem in Urdu followed and the entire hall was spiritually moved to ecstasy for another journey of international broadcast in the coming years. MTA which started broadcast in 1994 at the Morden mosque with a mobile studio now transmit across 10 satellites around the world on Galaxy19, SES 2 in the Americas , Astra 2G, Hotbird 13A, Astra2F, Hotbird 13B , SES -5 , EUtelsat 70B and Asia sat 7 to Africa, Asia, Middle East and the Far East. The last satellite Hispasat 1E is directed to the Oceania and the pacific region. This satellite model of broadcast is instructive as Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, Masroor Ahmad remarked” unquestionably, MTA is playing a great role in spreading the true teachings of Islam to all parts of the world”, 16 languages of broadcast notably Arabic, English, French, and Urdu among others make the MTA brand unique in international broadcast from London, the headquarters, Germany in Europe, Ghana in West Africa and Mauritius off the African coast , Pakistan , Qadian and Bangladesh in the Far East , Kababir Middle East, USA and Canada for the Americas as well as Australia. Hausa, Yoruba and Chiwi local languages are expected to come on from the Ghana studio for MTA International Africa Channel. The stations coverage span through great events including the k Friday sermons of the Khalifatul Masih V, special speeches transmitted live from the Baitul Futuh mosque or other locations around the world where the Huzur (Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community) visited. In the last few years , the Huzur has visited the British House of Commons, U.K. Parliament, the meeting with the Mayor of London, the tour of Canada in 2016, the European Parliament, the German military headquarters, Dutch parliament, official visit Mauritius, Fiji , Singapore, India, Nigeria , Benin Republic and Ghana among others. MTA International global broadcast has been enhanced with the establishment of MTA 3 Al – Arabia in 2007, and MTA International Africa in 2016 for 24 hours . With this 24 hours global broadcast, the Chinese news agency,XHINUA came visiting and rebroadcast programmes agreement were reached with national and private television stations across the world. Ghana television, Sierra Leone TV, Uganda TV and MITV in Nigeria offer their services. MITV in Nigeria broadcast 90 minutes programmes on Friday 4.30pm – 5.00pm, 11.30am-12noon and 7.30am- 8.00am local time. 18 hours of live telecast of the U.K. Jalsa Salana were broadcast since 2015. The station’s range of quality news and programmes were divided into Tabligh (preaching), Taleem (Islamic education) and secular – documentaries, feature and discussions programmes. The Taleem programmes included Tilawat and Tarjmatul – Quran classes, admonitions to children and women, discussions on faith matters. Specifically, the following programmes were delights for viewers – Faith Matters, Journey To Islam, Contemplation, Inspirational Africans, The secular programmes are documentaries on Islam, Huzur tours, homeopathy (alternative health) classes to mention a few. According to the Managing Director, MTA International, Munir ul Din Sham , these quality programming were made possible by dedicated staff and pool of volunteers, motivated by the unique guidance of the Khilafah and service to humanity. He enthused “Each year has unique experiences with an outstanding milestone achieved by young and old “. The dead colleagues were duelly acknowledged, names reeled out and solemn prayers made for the repose of their souls. Munir recalled with nostalgia that Huzur had predicted that it will be a unique history for the International Islamic station in the later years. At 25 the prediction has come to pass as the Television station now boost of five channels with latest equipment for global broadcast. In appreciation for the spiritual guidance and moral assistance to the MTA International as it turns 25, a special gift was presented to the Huzur and a short documentary on the glorious years of an enviable international broadcast to millions of viewers was broadcast to spice the occasion. The documentary was an elixir for the keynote address of the spiritual leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community Hazrat Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V. His speech centred on the prophesy of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and promised messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad about the technological advancement in media industry including TV, radio as well as the social media towards the propagation of true Islam. He stated that MTA International has come to fulfilled the prophesy in its unique role of spreading the true teaching of Islam.

Full report at:

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/05/25-message-islam-ahmadiyya-goes-global/

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AP Explains: Why France's new president is visiting Mali

May 18, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — France's new president has chosen the West African nation of Mali for his first official visit outside Europe. Why? Here's a look at Emmanuel Macron's trip on Friday to France's largest overseas military operation — in a country where multiple extremist groups pose a growing danger to the region.

WHAT'S THE THREAT?

Several jihadist groups remain in northern Mali after occupying the vast region south of the Sahara in 2012, and they have been blamed for deadly attacks in neighboring countries that have alarmed the international community. A French-led military intervention pushed the extremists from their strongholds in 2013, but the fighters continue to target Malian and other military assets with suicide bombings, improvised explosives and kidnappings. In January, a suicide attack on a Mali army camp killed more than 75 people. The U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali has become the deadliest of the U.N.'s current missions worldwide. Most of the extremist groups in the region trace their origins to al-Qaida's North Africa branch.

WHAT IS FRANCE'S MILITARY DOING THERE?

France has led international counter-terrorism efforts in largely francophone West Africa, a role that the U.S. military has recognized and supported. "I have no doubt that the French will continue to make their own decisions in their own best interest and that the terrorists will not enjoy these decisions," U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said during a stop in the East African nation of Djibouti last month.

France's new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is best known globally for leading the successful military campaign in Mali as French defense minister. France now has more than 4,000 soldiers in the West African nations of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as part of Operation Barkhane, which former French President Francois Hollande said is meant to "wipe out armed terrorist groups" in the Sahel region. The operation, France's largest overseas, began in 2014.

In his first visit after his inauguration, Macron acknowledged the toll on the operation's French forces when he went to a military hospital in a Paris suburb and met with two soldiers injured in Mali last year. At least 19 French soldiers have died in the Sahel region since 2013, the French ambassador to the United Nations said in April.

Full report at:

http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/news/world/ap-explains-france-new-president-visiting-mali-article-1.3176172

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‘Muslim scholars should promote unity during Ramadan’

19 May 2017

As Muslim faithful across the country prepare for the 2017 Ramadan fasting, the Ummah has been urged to promote unity among Nigerians during the holy month.

The Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) made this call in its resolution after the third yearly general assembly of the group in Ibadan.

MUSWEN, in a communiqué signed by its President, Alhaji Sakariyau Olayiwola Babalola, insisted that Muslim scholars and preachers should not use the holy month of Ramadan for hate preaching, rather to promote unity.

“Ramadan presents a golden opportunity for the masses of Muslims to learn about and practice Islam in the best way possible; Muslim scholars and preachers, therefore, have an obligation to use their knowledge to unite and not divide the Ummah,” it stated. MUSWEN, an umbrella body for all State Muslim Councils/Communities and organisations in the South West region of Nigeria had over 300 delegates and invited dignitaries who attended the General Assembly.

Given the economic, political and social situations in Nigeria today, the group observed that the root cause of the myriad of problems confronting Nigeria as a nation is the lack of good governance.

The Muslim leaders therefore urged Nigerian political class to deploy their strengths and endowments more into good governance than politics.

Noting that there have been some modest improvements in the state of the nation under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the group said he deserves the support and prayers of all citizens for sound health to enhance effective governance.

MUSWEN also observed that many Nigerian youths, including those in the South West, the majority of who possess qualitative education credentials, are currently unemployed.

It therefore urged the Federal Government to do more to diversify the economy of the nation, stressing the needs to intensify efforts on its social investment programme which, if well managed, would help improve the economic wellbeing of the citizens and empower the youths.

Full report at:

https://guardian.ng/features/muslim-scholars-should-promote-unity-during-ramadan/

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Monarchs have no business in selection of Imams – Shekih Bello

May 19, 2017

By Haroon Balogun

Renowned International preacher, Sheikh Muyideen Bello has said that the process of selecting Imams in any community does not involve the  contribution of the traditional rulers adding that the process is strictly Islamic and must be so respected.

Sheikh Bello made this known while delivering a lecture at the turbaning ceremony of Alhaji Shafihiyu Awosanya as the  new Chief Imam of Aiyepe held at  Aiyepe Central Mosque, Aiyepe, Ogun State, last Sunday.

The event  attracted eminent Muslims including the Vice President, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, NSCIA and President of Muslim Ummah of South West, Nigeria, MUSWEN, Alhaji, Sakariyah Babalola, Executive Secretary, MUSWEN, Prof Dawud Noibi, Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Akinola Garuba (OON); traditional rulers,  politicians; captians of Industries  among others.

Sheikh Bello stated that Imams are the representatives of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and they should not be subjected under the control of any traditional ruler no matter how highly placed. “Imams are the representative of Allah and Prophet Muhammad on earth, they are the ones Allah will ask about other Muslims.

No Imam should take orders from any traditional ruler, he is in the position to deliver allah’s message and what the Prophet said about any issue and correct the ill of the society. So, the process of selecting Imams does not concern any traditional ruler.  The Muslim leaders, Scholars, Alfas and others who are fit to be in Shurrah committee are saddle with the responsibility of selecting Imam and it is based on knowledge and competency considering the role Imams play in the society.”

He however advised other contenders to sheathe their sword and accept the leadership of Imam Shafihiyu Awosanya as their leader.

Full report at:

https://www.nigeriatoday.ng/2017/05/monarchs-have-no-business-in-selection-of-imams-shekih-bello/

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Arab World

 

Daesh executes over 50 people in northern Syrian villages: Group

May 18, 2017

Members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have executed more than 50 people in Syria’s central province of Hama as they continue to lose more ground in battles against government forces and allied popular fighters.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 15 civilians and 27 pro-government fighters were killed when Daesh terrorists launched attacks against the villages of Aqarib al-Safi and al-Mabujeh on Thursday.

Most of the civilians had been beheaded and mutilated, the Britain-based group said, noting that another 10 bodies were yet to be identified as pro-government fighters or local residents.

It added that 15 Daesh militants were also killed in the dawn attack on the two villages.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that Syrian army forces and allied fighters had managed to repulse the attack on Aqarib al-Safi village and drive Daesh extremists away.

In March 2015, Daesh executed at least 37 civilians and kidnapped 50 others, half of them women, during an assault on the village.

Syria has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/18/522382/Syria-Daesh-Aqarib-Safi-Mabujeh-Hama

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Iraqi volunteer forces recapture 2 airbases from Daesh terrorists

May 18, 2017

Iraqi fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units have established complete control over two airbases on the western outskirts of Mosul.

Sami Masoudi, a commander of the pro-government forces -- commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi -- said in a statement on Thursday that his fellow fighters had liberated Washington military airport west of Mosul, Arabic-language al-Sumaria satellite television network reported.

Masoudi said the recapture of the airbase was strategically important as the site would play a major role in supplying weapons and military equipment to Iraqi army soldiers.

He further noted that Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had retaken six villages, including Khalaf Idris, al-Khamisah, al-Madinah and Ayn Fathi, west of Mosul.

The developments came shortly after Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters reclaimed control over Sahl Sinjar airbase south of al-Qairawan district.

Separately, Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat said security personnel have retaken 291 square kilometers of land in the western flank of Mosul.

The United Nations also said that another 200,000 people might flee their homes as fighting escalates in Mosul.

UN humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande said nearly 700,000 people have already been displaced from Mosul ever since Iraqi army troopers and their allies launched a major operation on October 17, 2016 to retake the city from Daesh Takfiri terrorists.

“The numbers of people fleeing their homes in western Mosul are overwhelming. They are fleeing under very difficult circumstances. Many are food insecure and haven't had access to safe drinking water and medicines for weeks or months,” Grande said in a statement.

She noted that Iraqi government and humanitarian aid agencies are rushing in supplies, but because of the large number of displaced “it's becoming more and more difficult to ensure civilians receive the assistance and protection they need.”

Bomb attack claims nine civilian lives in northern Iraq

Meanwhile, at least nine people have been killed in a bomb explosion that ripped through a popular market in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, situated 25 kilometers south of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deadly incident took place when a bomber detonated his explosive-laden belt amongst the crowd. Eleven people sustained injuries in the attack.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the act of violence. However, Iraqi authorities usually blame such attacks on the Daesh group Takfiri.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) says a total of 317 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 403 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in April.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/18/522369/Iraq-Hashd-alShaabi--airbases-Daesh-Mosul

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Saudi regime offensive on Shia town enters 2nd week

May 18, 2017

Saudi regime forces have launched a fresh wave of shelling attacks against a besieged town in Saudi Arabia’s Shia-populated Eastern Province, as a fierce crackdown on protesters there enters its second week.

Saudi troops, equipped with heavy weapons, carried out an offensive against Awamiyah, located some 390 kilometers northeast of the capital, Riyadh, late on Wednesday, firing a full array of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), at different residential areas in the flashpoint town, London-based and Arabic-language Nabaa television news network reported.

Other reports said that Saudi armored vehicles stormed the al-Jamimah and al-Shokrollah neighborhoods of the town and rained down heavy fire on residential buildings, destroying civilian cars.

Earlier on Wednesday, regime forces had used incendiary bombs, filled with highly combustible chemicals, in the al-Mosara neighborhood.

A number of human rights groups and activists have expressed deep concern regarding the use of violent methods to deal with political dissent in the area, warning about high civilian casualties. They also say locals in Awamiyah are suffering from a severe water shortage and are using private generators to produce electricity.

There has been no precise figure of casualties among the civilians.

According to local sources, the Saudi troops killed a young man, identified as Wahab Fakri al-Ma’yuf, earlier in the day. Last week, Saudi regime forces also shot dead a two-and-a-half-year-old child and a young man in Awamiyah. Lebanon’s al-Ahed news website reported that the child’s mother was also critically injured in the Thursday attack.

Saudi regime forces have been attacking Awamiyah since May 10, after putting the town under a siege, in the wake of fierce clashes with local residents protesting the demolition of the historic al-Mosara neighborhood for a planned development project.

Pictures and videos of bulldozers, escorted by heavily armored military vehicles and heading toward the site, have gone viral.

Since February 2011, Saudi Arabia has stepped up security measures in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which has been rocked by anti-regime demonstrations, with protesters demanding free speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/18/522334/Saudi-Arabia-Awamiyah-Shia-Qatif-Eastern-Province-crackdown

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Syria: Army Continues Operations in Eastern Homs to Lift ISIL Siege on Deir Ezzur

May 18, 2017

The Syrian army troops, backed by the airstrikes launched by the Syrian and Russian warplanes, hit ISIL’s positions near the Arak Gas Fields, inflicting heavy losses on the Takfiri terrorist group.

A military source said the pro-gov't forces managed to reach the outskirts of the Gas Fields in Eastern Palmyra.

He added that the liberation of the Arak Gas Fields is paramount in lifting the siege on Deir Ezzur, as the site is located along the highway to the provincial capital.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army troops, backed up by the country's Air Force, repelled several offensives of ISIL in Deir Ezzur's military airports, killing and wounding a number of terrorists and destroying their equipment.

The army soldiers engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL in areas surrounding Jonayd division base Southwest of Tamin brigade base and in the Southern direction of Deir Ezzur airbase and managed to fend off their attacks, killing or wounding a number of terrorists.

The army men also targeted and destroyed a bomb-laden suicide vehicle of ISIL before reaching their positions in al-Makbat region.

The Army's artillery and missile units, meantime, shelled ISIL's position heavily in al-Ma'amel region, killing and wounding the entire terrorists in the position.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960228000541

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ISIL Replaces Deir Ezzur Emir with Saudi Member

May 18, 2017

Field reports said that Abu Khatab Araqi, the Emir of Velayat al-Khayr (including Deir Ezzur province except Bu Kamal and certain parts of Eastern Raqqa), was dismissed and one of the Saudi ISIL members named Abu Khalid al-Jazrawi was replaced with him.

Media sources reported the development came after Araqi stopped execution of his soldiers.

Field sources believe that the execution operations will resume again in the region soon.

The ISIL is also executing its forces in Bu Kamal city, despite the fact that it is outside Velayat al-Khayr. Recent reports said that after the recent airstrikes in Deir Ezzur, the ISIL beheaded 8 members.

Reports from Deir Ezzur said on Wednesday that the Syrian army troops warded off ISIL's heavy offensive on their positions in the Southern outskirts of the city, killing and wounding almost 60 terrorists.

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in al-Maqaber (cemetery) region and al-Mowazafin neighborhood in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city and managed to repel their attack, killing 28 militants and wounding 30 others.

In the meantime, two military vehicles and a bomb-laden tank of ISIL were destroyed by the army men before reaching the pro-government forces' positions.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960228000308

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Army Wards Off Massive Al-Nusra Offensive in Dara'a

May 18, 2017

The Syrian soldiers repulsed the terrorists' attacks against their positions in al-Manshiyeh and Sajneh in Dara'a city in Southern Syria after heavy clashes with the militants.

The clashes left a large number of terrorists dead and wounded and destroyed one of their tanks.

Several al-Nusra commanders, including Bilal Abu Zaid nom de guerre Abu Islam Da'el and Saudi national Abu Hashem al-Tabuki, as well as commander of Kata'eb al-Da'wa terrorist group Malik al-Amri and commander of Kata'eb Saif al-Haq named Mo'taz al-Nabwan were killed.

The Syrian fighter jets also pounded the terrorists' positions and bases in Dara'a.

Field sources said on Saturday that a number of commanders of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board) have been recently dispatched to Dara'a with millions of US dollars to reinvigorate the terrorist front and slow down the group's collapse in Southern Syria.

The sources said that almost 30 senior members of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at have recently left Northern Syria with several millions US dollars for Dara'a and Quneitra provinces to rebuild the terrorist group's structure in Southern Syria.

The sources further pointed out that these commanders have started spending millions of US dollars to buy heavy arms, ammunition and employing fresh recruits.

They further identified Abu Dajane al-Sheikh that had earlier been to Idlib along with Abu Mariyeh Qahtani as to be among the same notorious commanders.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960228000218

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Syrian Free Army delegation pulls out from Geneva talks

19 May 2017

The Syrian Free Army delegation suspended their participation in Geneva 6 talks, attributing the suspension to the lack of clarity regarding the strategic vision of the negotiations, reported Al Arabiya.

The delegation of the Syrian regime and representatives from the opposition agreed to the Geneva talks on its sixth round, on Thursday, in order to discuss a proposal to form a mechanism for drafting the constitution, presented by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Al-Arabiya correspondent said that the approval of the two parties for further talks was a positive step. However, after it was reported that de Mistura withdrew his proposal on the constitution, there were expectations of modifications of the same under the supervision of international law experts.

The proposal forms a practical step that could pave the way for a solution or make some progress in the negotiating arena. The delegation of the Syrian regime met with legal experts to study how to form a joint committee with both parties and international experts on the other to draft a new constitution or constitutional mechanism.

Formation of a joint committee

In spite of the criticism De Mistura faced over the proposal, the opposition parties and the regime have returned to the UN envoy through a meeting of international experts to discuss the mechanism of forming a committee to draft the Syrian constitution and to overcome the objections and concerns of both parties.

The joint committee suggested by de Mistura will include members of the opposition and the Syrian regime, legal members from Cairo and Moscow platforms, with the rest of the seats from the UN negotiating team.

Officials in the opposition delegation in Geneva said on Wednesday that de Mistura's proposal was not on the agenda, and that they had many reservations about it, especially as it diverted attention from the main opposition demands.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/19/Geneva-6-Free-Army-delegation-suspend-their-participation-in-Syria-talks.html

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Saudi to launch international centre to combat terrorism during Trump’s visit

18 May 2017

An international center to combat terrorism is going to be launched at the end of the “Islamic-American Summit,” which will take place during US president Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at a press conference.

Jubeir said the United States will play a major role in the would-be announced counter terrorism center.

Trump also told a group of journalists on Thursday including Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent in Washington that the US will be encouraging the creation of NATO-style organization to combat terrorism in the Middle East.

So far Riyadh will host on Saturday and Sunday three anticipated summits during Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia with 37 leaders, mainly from the Muslim world will be attending.

“We want to convey a message to the West and the world that the Muslim world is not an enemy.”

Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia wants to send a message to the West that the Muslim world is “not an enemy,” adding the Riyadh comes second after the United States in the fight against ISIS.

The foreign minister said both US and Saudi agree on eliminating terror groups such as ISIS.

He added: “We are the second army after the US military in the international coalition against terrorism.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/18/An-international-center-to-combat-terrorism-to-be-launched-at-the-Riyadh-summit.html

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Saudi Arabia seeks to become major global arms supplier

May 19, 2017

Saudi Arabia says it is set to create a new military industries firm as part of its plan to become a major global arms supplier and gradually wean itself off oil revenues.

The state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) “aims to become one of the world’s top 25 defense companies by 2030,” a Thursday statement from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) said.

The announcement came two days ahead of the planned trip of US President Donald Trump to the kingdom.

According to the PIF, SAMI will be both a manufacturer and service provider and it will be involved in maintenance and repair of fixed-wing aircraft and production of drones, military vehicle, missiles, radars and other electronic military equipment.

The firm is set to contribute nearly $3.7 billion to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic production and invest more than $1.6 billion in research and development by 2030, creating over 40,000 jobs, the PIF noted.

According to an April report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia spent $63.7 billion in its military sector in 2016, making it the world’s fourth largest military spender.

Riyadh says it currently produces only two percent of its security and military needs domestically, but it plans to reach the target of 50 percent by 2030.

“SAMI will establish companies through joint ventures with global original equipment manufacturers, as well as cooperating with local military companies,” the PIF said.

Saudi Arabia, which is widely considered a key sponsor of extremist terrorist groups across the world, is now leading a deadly war on Yemen which has claimed the lives of over 12,000 so far.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/19/522419/Saudi-Arabia-military-spending

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US jets bomb pro-government Syria forces advancing on militant base

May 18, 2017

US military aircraft have carried out an airstrike on a convoy of pro-Syrian government fighters advancing toward the positions of foreign-backed militants in the south of the Arab country.

AFP quoted unnamed US military officials as saying that the American jets struck a convoy of 27 tanks heading towards a garrison in al-Tanf near the Jordanian border on Thursday.

"A convoy going down the road didn't respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in al-Tanf," said one of the officials, adding that British and US commandoes have been training anti-Damascus militants at the base in Homs province.

"Then there was finally a strike against the lead portion of” the convoy, which was “significant” in size, the official stated.

There have been no immediate reports on possible casualties as a result of the air raid.

Another US official said the jets carried out “shows of force” in the skies above the tank convoy and fired warning shots before bombing the lead vehicles, which were moving to within 27 kilometers of the garrison.

Reports also said the US-led coalition purportedly fighting militants in Syria unsuccessfully tried to contact Russia to ask the pro-government convoy to stop advancing further south.

Citing a source with the US-backed Maghawir al Thawra militant group, Reuters reported that the militants initially clashed with the advancing pro-government forces prior to the airstrike. The report added that at least one tank and a bulldozer were destroyed in the US attack.

Meanwhile, Yehya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the foreign-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee holding talks with a Syrian government delegation in Geneva, “welcomed” the US strike as a “robust action” against pro-government fighters in the war-torn country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/18/522397/Syria-US-jets-alTanf-bomb-airstrike

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North America

 

No links to ‘terrorism’ after car plows into NY crowd

18 May 2017

A US Navy veteran plowed his car into pedestrians in New York City’s packed Times Square on Thursday, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring 22 people. The city’s mayor said there was no indication it was an act of terrorism.

Witnesses said the motorist mounted the sidewalk in a burgundy Honda sedan and sped along for more than three city blocks, knocking people over before the car hit a pole and came to rest at 45th Street and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan.

Police who took the driver into custody identified him as Richard Rojas, 26, of the New York City borough of the Bronx. They said he had been arrested twice for drunken driving in 2008 and 2015, and once earlier this month on a charge of menacing.

There was no indication it was an act of terrorism, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the scene.

Initial reports of the incident brought to mind vehicle attacks on pedestrians in recent months in Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Sweden.

The White House later said that US President Donald Trump has been made aware of the incident and will continue to receive updates.

Security camera footage showed the car slam into pedestrians who moments earlier were ambling along, some carrying shopping bags and others pushing baby strollers.

The incident took place close to noon ET (1600 GMT) on a bright, sunny day.

“People were being hit and rolling off the car,” said Josh Duboff, who works at the nearby Thomson Reuters headquarters. He leaped out of the way to avoid being struck.

Shoes were scattered on the sidewalk. A woman’s body lay covered with a bloodstained blanket. A police officer kept vigil nearby, sadly shaking his head.

The dead woman was named by police as Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old who was on vacation with her family from Michigan.

Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them tourists from around the world, pass daily through Times Square, the heart of the Broadway theater district.

The bustling streets are heavily patrolled by police, some on horseback. Many, but not all, sidewalks are lined with barricades and planters for fear of vehicle attacks.

A bouncer from the Planet Hollywood restaurant and a ticket agent were among onlookers who helped police subdue the suspect when he tried to flee the scene, media reports said.

Broadway shows would go ahead as planned on Thursday evening in the many theaters in the area, organizers said in a statement.

‘Mowed everyone down’

Navy records show that Rojas enlisted in September 2011 and was based in Illinois and Florida, working as an electrician’s mate fireman apprentice.

He was arrested a year later at a naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, where officials said he attacked a cab driver, shouted “my life is over,” and threatened to kill police, according to court records. Rojas was charged with misdemeanor battery and resisting an officer without violence, but it was unclear how the case was resolved.

Navy records show he spent two months in a military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, in the summer of 2013, but did not say why. He left the Navy in May 2014.

Quoting unnamed police sources, ABC News said Rojas had apparently been high on synthetic marijuana when he crashed into his victims on Thursday. Initial tests came back negative for alcohol, the law enforcement sources told ABC News.

After the incident, authorities cordoned off an area from 41st to 47th streets and from Sixth to Eighth avenues for several hours, effectively shutting down one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest cities in the world.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/05/18/Speeding-vehicle-strikes-pedestrians-in-NY-s-Times-Square.html

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US strikes Syrian regime-allied forces

19 May 2017

The U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition on Thursday struck forces allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that "posed a threat to U.S. and partner forces" in the southeastern city of al-Tanf, the American military said.

The coalition carried out the strike after Russian attempts to halt the advance on the town apparently failed to stop the troops from moving south into an agreed upon deconfliction zone where the U.S. and its allies were operating.

At the time, the Assad-allied forces "were advancing well inside" the deconfliction area, the coalition said.

Prior to launching the strike, the coalition said in a statement it carried out an aerial "show of force", and fired warning shots.

"Coalition forces have been operating in the At Tanf area for many months training and advising vetted partner forces engaged in the fight against ISIS," the coalition said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another name for ISIL.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/189724/us-strikes-syrian-regime-allied-forces

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Global Faiths: Islamic schools claim to produce good American citizens

By MARLIN JESCHKE

May 19, 2017

The Goshen News occasionally reports activities of St. John the Evangelist Catholic School and Bethany Christian Schools, two parochial schools in Goshen. Muslims in America have also established parochial schools, 235 of them according to one website. These may provide kindergarten through 12th-grade education. Many of them are part of the Islamic School League of America (ISLA, almost ISLAM). One estimate says these schools enroll up to 46,000 students.

Islamic parents send their children to these school for the same reason Christian parents send their children to Christian schools — for their children to get an education under their religion’s auspices, an education that reflects their religious values and that offers instruction in the basics of their faith.

In the case of Islamic schools, it almost always includes classes to teach the Arabic language and classes about the Qur’an. These schools may also teach classes on the prophets, about the Crusades and about scientific discoveries of the Ottoman Empire.

At the same time, reports on these schools note that more than 100 of them teach the curriculum of their state. As one scholar says, “There is absolutely no difference in the content of social studies, history, geography, math and science. The only difference is they have one period a day when they study Islam” (Yvonne Haddad, Islamic history professor at Georgetown University, who wrote “Educating the Muslims of America.”) These schools also observe the stated times of prayer.

Though following a state curriculum, an Islamic school might still have an Islamic slant. Thus, one school displayed a conventional world map, but where most maps would have the name Israel, this map had the name Palestine.

Muslims also may prefer their schools to shelter them from what they might encounter in a public school, perhaps to be taunted about Osama bin Laden or other Muslim terrorists. And parents would not want their children exposed to coed swimming classes or even mixed seating in the classroom, not to mention teasing Muslim girls could encounter because of a headscarf.

In the typical Islamic school, boys and girls would sit on opposite sides of a classroom and girls might be expected to wear a headscarf after fifth grade. Girls could not wear skinny jeans and certainly boys and girls would not be “making out” at some locker.

Critics of Muslim schools sometimes fault them for fostering an “Islamic separatism,” and these ardent supporters of public schools would level a similar charge against Christian parochial schools. Some critics say Islamic schools create a “ghettoized society” or even promote a belief in Islamic supremacy.

To this defenders of Islamic schools say they don’t want their students to be in a cocoon. One school banned the use of the term “kafir” (meaning “unbeliever”) to refer to a non-Muslim. Again and again, in fact, defenders of Islamic schools claimed their aim was to produce good American citizens.

Charles Glenn, a former director at the Boston University Department of Education, has said that “kids who attend faith-based schools (and this would include both Christian and Islamic parochial schools) are less alienated from their society than kids who attend public schools, where they feel part of a singled out minority.”

Readers of these lines may remember the story of Ahmed Mohammed, age 14 at the time (2015), who brought an electric clock he had made to school to show his teacher, who thought it might be a bomb and turned him in. Police handcuffed and fingerprinted him. He was eventually cleared, but his family left the United States. It is this kind of thing that encourages Islamic schools.

Full report at:

http://www.goshennews.com/news/lifestyles/global-faiths-islamic-schools-claim-to-produce-good-american-citizens/article_6d22994e-2dba-5ff5-81f5-5c17f1e4ec4e.html

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As arsonist jailed, local Muslim leaders open doors, stress forgiveness

May 18, 2017

Hamilton Muslim leaders stress they were not seeking jail time for Keith Frederick, the man who deliberately set fire to a mosque last September, and hope that he "gets the help he needs to overcome his anger and hate."

"We believe that if Frederick and others who may harbor enmity spent more time with their Muslim neighbours, mutual understanding and respect would develop," said the statement from the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton, issued following Frederick's sentence on Wednesday.

"Canada would be better off."

The leaders are using the conclusion of the case as a time to make an appeal to the broader community to do just that — get to know their Muslim neighbours and build relationships.

The statement includes an invitation to visit local mosques and participate in some of the observances that take place during the holy month of Ramadan.

"We invite Hamiltonians to attend local Mosques during the coming month of Ramadan and take part in the iftar dinners at sunset, when Muslims break their day-long fast, so we can learn from and about one another and solidify relationships," said the statement.

Frederick was sentenced Wednesday to 25 months in jail, three years of probation and a lifetime ban on owning weapons and on possessing incendiary devices outside his home.

Physical damage from the arson was minimal but it has had a much deeper chilling effect on the community, says the council, and has hurt attendance at the mosque and deepened fears for many.

Despite that impact, and noting that "his intention was to harm and destroy," they said they would have been happy if the sentence was to provide community service at the mosque.

"While it is understandable why the court wants to send a clear message that crimes motivated by hate will be punished, the Muslim community wants to make it clear that we do not wish jail time for Frederick," the statement said.

"We believe that he has been filled with ignorance of and hatred for the Muslim community.

"The best way to deal with those consumed by hate is to provide education and friendship."

The leaders noted his remorse and "willingness to learn" as encouraging factors.

Arson caused 'people who should feel safe in their place of worship to feel unsafe'

The arson was prevented from being more serious when Syrian refugees who live nearby saw the small fire Frederick had started, put it out and helped police catch the suspect.

In court, Crown attorney Todd Norman noted that members of Hamilton's Muslim community and members of the specific mosque attacked said the incident has left them fearful, apprehensive and anxious. Elders who wear traditional dress have been wearing different clothing. There's been a decrease in the number of attendants, and children telling their parents they "don't want to be burned alive."

The event has caused "people who should feel safe in their place of worship to feel unsafe," Norman said.?

Sayed Hasemi, who keeps the accounting records for the mosque, said after the court hearing that students who once attended the mosque's evening classes three times a week, about 60 to 80 students at a time, have completely stopped coming. That has led to a drop of about $4,000 a month in donations and book fees not being received, he said.

And he said the mosque is installing new security measures like extra cameras and an electronic gate that will cost $20,000. It is are hoping for some government help to mitigate that cost, but it is still hefty for a small congregation.

The arson at the mosque happened 15 years after another hate crime in Hamilton, when the Hindu Samaj was burned to the ground, and there was a fire also set at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque.

Full report at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/as-arsonist-jailed-local-muslim-leaders-open-doors-stress-forgiveness-1.4121373

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh ready to send military to save holy places of Saudi Arabia

May 18, 2017

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said this is not an alliance. It is at a premature stage.

Bangladesh is prepared to send its military forces to Saudi Arabia if its holy places come under threat.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali made this statement at a press conference in the Foreign Ministry office on Thursday about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia from May 20-23.

“We believe that the ongoing violent extremism, which is taking place in the Muslim world, should be brought to an end.”

In response to a reporter’s query on whether the alliance with Saudi Arabian forces would be seen as Bangladesh’s stance against Iran, the foreign minister said that this is not an alliance. There are no written documents of such a military alliance.

“It is at a premature stage. It is just evolving. It is in the discussion stage,” he said.

Sheikh Hasina will attend the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Earlier on May 9, Information and Cultural Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia Dr Awwad Saleh al-Awwad handed over the invitation card to her.

Heads of Arab states, member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and other Islamic countries will attend the summit on May 21.

US President Donald Trump, who is undertaking the first ever visit to Saudi Arabia after taking office, will also join the summit.

The Riyadh summit aims to establish a partnership in the Islamic world to combat extremism and terrorism, strengthen safety and sustainability, and expand values of coexistence and patience.

Various issues, including counter-terrorism, the Palestine crisis, and ongoing geopolitical issues are expected to be under discussion.

Hasina will offer prayers at the Rawza Mubarak of Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) in Madina and perform Umrah in Makkah on May 22.

She will leave Jeddah for Dhaka on the morning of May 23.

The prime minister last paid a state visit in June 2016.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2017/05/18/bangladesh-ready-to-send-military-to-save-holy-places-of-ksa/

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45 rockets fired on Nangarhar from other side of Durand Line: Khogyani

May 18 2017

At least forty five rockets fired from the other side of Durand Line landed in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the local officials said Thursday.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said the rockets were fired on Wednesday and landed in Lalpur district.

Khogyani further added that the rockets landed in Rina Parcha areas but the attack did not incur any casualties to the local residents.

The eastern provinces of Afghanistan including Kunar, Nuristan, and Nangarhar provinces have been subject to indiscriminate artillery shelling from the other side of Durand Line during the past several years.

The persistent rocket attacks have incurred casualties to the residents of the three provinces besides hundreds of families have been forced to flee the area.

This comes as tensions between Kabul and Islamabad persist mainly due to issues along the Durand Line.

The Afghan and Pakistani forces exchanged fire two weeks ago in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar located near the Durand Line which lasted for several hours and inflicted casualties to the both sides.

The Afghan officials are saying that the incident took place after the Pakistani troops were stopped to conduct surveys in villages belonging to Afghanistan but the Pakistani officials reject the allegations and claim that census work was being done in the areas belonging to Pakistan.

At least forty five rockets fired from the other side of Durand Line landed in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the local officials said Thursday.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Ataullah Khogyani said the rockets were fired on Wednesday and landed in Lalpur district.

Khogyani further added that the rockets landed in Rina Parcha areas but the attack did not incur any casualties to the local residents.

The eastern provinces of Afghanistan including Kunar, Nuristan, and Nangarhar provinces have been subject to indiscriminate artillery shelling from the other side of Durand Line during the past several years.

The persistent rocket attacks have incurred casualties to the residents of the three provinces besides hundreds of families have been forced to flee the area.

This comes as tensions between Kabul and Islamabad persist mainly due to issues along the Durand Line.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/45-rockets-fired-on-nangarhar-from-other-side-of-durand-line-khogyani-02774

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US seeks allied input ahead of new Afghan plan

May 19, 2017

WASHINGTON - US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday he is finalising recommendations for a new military plan for Afghanistan, but he still needs input from NATO allies.

The Pentagon is expected to request thousands of additional troops for Afghanistan in a bid to end chronic instability and snap a protracted stalemate against the Taliban. Any such proposal would ultimately need a green light from President Donald Trump.

"We are working on it and we will obviously engage quietly with our allies as we come to final decisions," Mattis said. "It's more important to get it right than do it hastily," he added, speaking briefly to reporters at a meeting with Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide. Mattis's remarks may tamp down expectations that an Afghanistan announcement is imminent.

Theresa Whelan, the acting assistant secretary of defence for special operations, said on May 4 that she expected a Pentagon recommendation to go to Mattis "within the next week." US media have reported the Pentagon is weighing around 3,000 to 5,000 additional troops. US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, serving in an advisory capacity for Afghan forces.

Soreide suggested Norway might be willing to increase its own small-but-longstanding commitment to Afghanistan.

"We have always consistently said that we went in with our allies and we are going to leave with our allies. So depending on what NATO takes as their next step we will follow that discussion very closely," she said.  "Some time through the summer we will see that NATO also makes some decision on what to do next with the Resolute Support mission," she added, referring to the NATO operation in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/19-May-2017/us-seeks-allied-input-ahead-of-new-afghan-plan

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Bangladesh PM, Officials from 55 Muslim States Heading to Saudi Summit

2017-05-18

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will join leaders from Indonesia, Malaysia and other Muslim-majority countries at a summit this weekend in Saudi Arabia, where multi-lateral cooperation against terrorism and radicalism extremism will be high on the agenda.

Hosted by the Saudi government, the two-day Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh will consist of three meetings spread over May 20-21. Leaders and other delegates from 55 Muslim nations, including Hasina, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, are scheduled to meet there with U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday.

The participants will “address ways of building more robust and effective security partnerships” to counter violent extremism worldwide by religious promoting tolerance and moderation, according to program information posted on the summit’s official website.

President Trump will be on his first foreign trip since taking office in January. On May 21, he and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud are expected to inaugurate the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh.

Among other countries represented at the summit, Bangladesh, along with Malaysia and Indonesia – the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim nation – have been grappling in recent years with threats from growing extremism and terrorism linked with the Islamic State or other militant groups.

During the summit Prime Minister Hasina will “likely make some proposals” on international joint efforts in combating terrorism, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali told reporters in Dhaka on Thursday.

“We expect that the … Prime Minister will present Bangladesh’s latest success in combating terrorism and countering violent extremism,” Ali said but without detailing proposals that Hasina would articulate in Riyadh.

Since IS-linked terrorists killed 20 hostages during an overnight siege at a café in Dhaka in July 2016, Bangladesh has waged a brutal crackdown on suspected militants. At least 70 suspects have been killed during raids carried out by Bangladeshi security forces since then.

“The main objective of the summit is to establish a new partnership to face the challenges of global terrorism and militancy, expand values of tolerance and co-existence and strengthen efforts for ensuring peace and stability,” Ali added.

‘We must dispatch our troops’

Both Bangladesh and Malaysia have joined a Saudi-led coalition against terrorism, which is made up of predominantly Sunni Muslim countries. Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the Middle East, will be conspicuously absent from the upcoming meetings in Riyadh. Tehran has been waging a proxy war against Riyadh in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is also backing efforts to topple the Syrian government, which is aligned with Iran.

While Malaysia and Bangladesh have not officially deployed combat troops in support of the coalition, Malaysia’s government has faced criticism at home over reports that Malaysian troops have been sent to Yemen. Officials have said the troops are serving there in a humanitarian role.

At Thursday’s news conference in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi foreign minister told reporters that the government would send troops to Saudi Arabia if Islam’s two holiest sites, located in Mecca and Medina, were ever threatened by terrorists. This was the first time that a Bangladeshi official had spoken about deploying troops in support of the Saudi-led coalition.

“If our help is sought, if Saudi Arabia seeks our assistance, we must dispatch our troops there,” Ali said.

He also fielded a question touching on a denial made by Saudi Arabia in response to claims by Bangladeshi government officials that the kingdom had agreed to provide Bangladesh with about U.S. $1 billion in aid in order to build 560 mosques.

Last week, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Salleh Al-Awwad told BenarNews in a statement that the kingdom had “never committed to pay Bangladesh one billion dollars for the construction of mosques.”

Echoing claims made by Bangladeshi Planning Minister A.H.M. Mustafa Kamal, Foreign Minister Ali said Thursday that he was also present at a meeting between Prime Minister Hasina and the Saudi king where the issue of the large-scale mosque construction project in Bangladesh was discussed.

“The Saudi commitment was there – no doubt about it,” Ali told reporters.

Indonesian, Malaysian participation

During his trip to Riyadh, Indonesian President Jokowi will attend back-to-back high-level meetings with government leaders during the summit, Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Abdullah Al Shuaibi told The Jakarta Post.

“Our country has the largest Muslim population, and so our voice is important,” said Arrmanatha Nasir, spokesman for Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the state-run Antara news agency.

“Indonesia will demonstrate how Islam, moderation and democracy can co-exist here.”

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib accepted an invitation to attend the Riyadh summit during a courtesy call in Putrajaya from the Saudi culture and information minister on May 11, according to Bernama, the Malaysian state news agency.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Najib would participate during his stay in Saudi Arabia in discussions about security and terrorism, among other issues.

Earlier this year, both Indonesia and Malaysia hosted a visit by King Salman, during which the Saudis signed counter-terrorist cooperation agreements with both countries. Among these deals, the kingdom agreed to launch The King Salman Center for International Peace in Malaysia, which will focus on combating terrorism globally.

Full report at:

http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/bengali/Saudi-summit-05182017183540.html

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NATO Chiefs of Defence vow to help fulfill 4-year roadmap of Afghan forces

May 18 2017

The Chiefs of Defense of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have reaffirmed support to help the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) fulfill their four year roadmap.

The Allied Chiefs of Defence gathered in Brussels on 17th May 2017 for their second meeting of the year, ahead of the Heads of State and Government meeting on 25th May 2017, according to a statement by the alliance.

“On Afghanistan, the Chiefs of Defence reiterated their long term commitment to the RESOLUTE SUPPORT Mission building the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), including by assisting the ANDSF to fulfil their four year Roadmap,” the statement said.

The statement further added “They recommended the RESOLUTE SUPPORT Mission remain conditions-based and flexible taking into account the challenging security environment.”

“The Chiefs of Defence also developed recommendations on capability development and resource requirements to continue to underpin NATO’s current and future tasks, operations, missions and activities relating to both Defence and Deterrence and Projecting Stability,” the statement added.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/nato-chiefs-of-defense-vow-to-help-fulfill-4-year-roadmap-of-afghan-forces-02775

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Pakistan

 

After Army's clean-up of North Waziristan, locals want civilian govt to get in action

May 19, 2017

The situation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) is reportedly returning to normalcy as the internally displaced persons are returning to their homes and peace has prevailed, but life remains difficult for them due to the lack of basic facilities.

According to the NWA General Officer Commanding Maj Gen Hassan Azhar Hayat, who hosted journalists for a briefing on the area's overall situation on Thursday, all no-go areas have been cleared by the Army and 80 per cent of the people displaced from the areas have now been resettled.

He said that around 80 per cent of the displaced people from the area had returned and were "contributing to the development of the agency".

Major Gen Hayat told reporters that the era of operations has come to an end and an era of development has started in the agency with the launching of new projects.

Sharing the details of these projects, he informed reporters that four army public schools have been established in NWA. A model town is also in final stages in main Miranshah city.

However, a resident of Miranshah was of the view that while the Army's contributions were commendable, the civilian government did not seem serious about addressing the issues and problems of the tribal people.

“No doubt that we are in a new and peaceful Waziristan -- but it is one without basic facilities,” Malik Noor Khan, a local tribal elder, told DawnNews.

Tribal elder Noor Khan said: “We have no basic facilities like electricity, clean drinking water, schools and hospitals etc. We need schools with teachers and hospitals with doctors."

“If you build a school or hospital or a hydropower project in Miranshah, it does not mean you have changed the whole of Waziristan,” one other local asserted, requesting not to be named.

He admitted that development work was underway, but said it was being carried out only in areas near government installations.

Another resident of NWA, Malik Irfan, 25, said: “The administration has made the agency a paradise just in pictures for their presentations? and slides for government high-ups.”

Almost 80 per cent of the 944 government schools are non-functioning due to lack of staff and other facilities, he explained, adding that the same situation prevails in the health sector.

“It seems that we are living in the stone ages, as there is no light, mobile or telephone service,” Malik Irfan remarked. It is because of this lack of basic facilities in North Waziristan that the internally displaced persons prefer to stay in Peshawar and other cities, he claimed.

“Our shops, market, houses and livestock were destroyed and most of them are still waiting completion,” he said, complaining that the government was not paying heed to address their problems.

“The political agent is the ‘king’ of the agency and meeting him to convey our issues or problems is very difficult job, as people are not allowed to see him,” a local, Rehamullah Khan, complained.

‘The success of operation Zarb-i-Azb’

Recounting the success of operation Zarb-i-Azb, the GOC recalled that 207 security personnel had been martyred and more than two thousand injured, whereas forces had reportedly killed 2,872 terrorists.

He continued that more than 1,177 terrorists had been arrested and more than 1,500 others surrendered to security forces.

"During the operation, 310 tonnes of explosives and ammunition was recovered," he said, adding that there had been factories manufacturing ammunition and IEDs operating openly in the agency.

"Now the area is completely cleared and no one is allowed to keep gun or pistols," he claimed.

Maj Gen Hayat said, “We are changing the mentality of the people and have established a deradicalisation centre in Mir Ali.”

Hundreds of previously 'brainwashed' people have been deradicalised so far in the centre, he added.

‘Recent security situation’

The GOC also talked about cross-border attacks, the current security situation, and recent threats.

“Cross-border attacks and hideouts of militants in Afghanistan pose a threat to peace, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.

He said that cross-border movement is completely banned and security has been enhanced along the Pak-Afghan border, adding that 1,113 security posts have been established at a visible distance.

Hayat revealed that Afghan mobile networks are working inside the Pakistani area and the issue has been taken up with the Afghan officials.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1333941/after-armys-clean-up-of-north-waziristan-locals-want-civilian-govt-to-get-in-action

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Electoral reforms important for transparent elections: Ch Sarwar

May 19, 2017

Punjab’s former governor and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s leader Chaudary Sarwar said that electoral reforms were very important for the upcoming general elections.

Earlier, convener of the sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms Law Minister Zahid Hamid said that to remove the differences of the stakeholders on contentious issues was a painstaking and time-consuming task but work on it has been initiated and would take up each and every issue to resolve the differences of the stakeholders on it.

Chaudary Sarwar Tweeted saying,

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/19-May-2017/for-transparent-elections-electoral-reforms-important-ch-sarwar

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Gen Bajwa for arresting extremist tendencies

May 19, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said that Pakistan was passing through the most critical phase in the war on terror.

Addressing a seminar on “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” in Rawalpindi, the army chief said that operation Raadul Fasaad was just the beginning of a new phase in the war against terrorism and extremism.

Bajwa said security threats have been diluted resulting in a congenial environment for development activities and the fight from here onwards has to be carried on by all state organs and its people.

He said the youth was Pakistan’s investment in the future and “the faceless and nameless hostile forces are polluting the mind of our youth through the social media”.

Gen Bajwa’s statement also draws a parallel to the statement of Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, who a few days ago, warned against the misuse of social media.

“Those, who are using social media for slanderous and negative propaganda against the constitutional state institutions, are warned to desist from this undesirable activity,” the state minister had said in her statement.

Gen Bajwa said that Pakistan Army was the only army in the world that has defeated terrorism of this scale.

While referring to the sacrifices rendered by the armed forces and the nation against terrorism, the army chief said that Pakistan stands at the most critical phase in the war on terror.

He said as the targeted operations under Raddul Fassad continue, there was a need for finding ways to ensure that the causes of terrorism were addressed and the National Action Plan was actualised.

The army chief said that it was unfair and dangerous to associate the extremism with Islam.

While referring to the rising extremism in India, Gen Bajwa said that India has given in to the extremism and hate has been mainstreamed.

He said the Hindutva extremism of the RSS, deprivation of Palestinians, the burning and desecration of mosques or gurdwaras in western capitals, the rise of hyper-nationalists and the monster of racism, are all manifestations of extremism.

The army chief said that despite the incessant propaganda, the fact was that Pakistan has rejected terrorism which speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values.

He said that “our youth besides taking part in political discourse in unprecedented numbers and they are active in the social arena are also winning accolades for academic achievements abroad”.

Gen Bajwa said: “Pakistan’s enemies were actively pursuing divisive tendencies in the society and were waging the biggest and most sustained hybrid war against us from multiple directions and using multiple ways.”

He said that the Indian leadership has made no secret of its active involvement in the proxy struggle in East Pakistan and now in Balochistan.

He said Pakistan was cognizant of these threats and was actively countering them with the support of the entire nation.

He said that “our homes, educational institutions and media houses are the first lines of defence against extremism in the society”.

“We have defeated terrorism together and we will go after extremism too and root it with our values, mental faculties and physical energies”, Gen Bajwa said.

Earlier addressing the seminar, ISPR Director Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said that the “nature and character” of extremism has changed.

“I stand very privileged here today as your host to welcome you on this seminar as part of our ongoing operation Raddul Fasaad,” he said.

“Raddul Fasaad is aimed at consolidating gains of all military operations earlier concluded in the kinetic domain and to bring about an enduring peace and stability,” the ISPR DG said.

He pointed out that one of operation Raddul Fassad’s strands was to eliminate extremism from our society.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/19-May-2017/gen-bajwa-for-arresting-extremist-tendencies

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Two anti-tank landmines recovered in Dera Bugti

May 19, 2017

QUETTA - The law-enforcement agencies thwarted a major terror bid on Thursday and seized arms and ammunition. The forces conducted raid in Dera Bugti’s Loopserni area and recovered two anti-tank landmines which were planted on roadside for subversive act. In another raid in Sohbatpur, the security forces also defused a fixed landmine. The timely action of security forces foiled two terror attacks in Balochistan.

http://nation.com.pk/national/19-May-2017/two-anti-tank-landmines-recovered-in-dera-bugti

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Cowardly acts can’t shake JUI-F resolve: Haideri

May 19, 2017

islamabad - Deputy Chairman Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri on Thursday said that he had requested for a bulletproof vehicle but was not provided by the Balochistan government.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Deputy Chairman Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said this while talking to media at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) where he has been admitted for medical treatment.

The Deputy Chairman Senate survived a suicide attack in Mustung area of Balochistan in which 27 people lost their lives while 30 others, including Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, sustained injuries.

The Deputy Chairman Senate reached PIMS with tight security and held a short media talk wherein he expressed dissatisfaction over security provided to him during his visit to Balochistan. “Security was not up to the standard keeping in the view the law and order situation in Balochistan,” he said.  The senator said that he had demanded of the provincial government to provide a bulletproof vehicle but was not denied.

He also said that the JUI-F fully knows the culprits behind this attack but will not bow before them at any cost. “Forces against Pakistan, Islam and CPEC have executed the attack but such cowardly acts cannot deter the determination of JUI-F workers,” he said.

He also termed the attack a conspiracy against ‘Mosque and Madrassahs.

“India has not accepted Pakistan since 1947 but I will give the message that we are atomic power and no effort to destabilise the country will be successful,” he said.

The Deputy Chairman also said that some forces are not comfortable with the JUI-F chief’s stance on protecting sanctity of the holy places ‘Makkah and Madinah’. He said that the ideology of Pakistan and Mardrassahs will exist till the doomsday.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/19-May-2017/cowardly-acts-can-t-shake-jui-f-resolve-haideri

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Bizenjo fears militants leaving Syria may pose threat to CPEC

MOHAMMAD HUSSAIN KHAN

May 19, 2017

HYDERABAD: Federal Minister for Ports and Ship­ping Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, who heads the Nat­ional Party (NP), has said that political forces should sit together and come up with a strategy on how to extricate Pakistan from terrorism, sectarianism and religious extremism.

He was speaking at the ‘Meet the Press’ programme in the local press club on Thurs­day. His party colleague Ramzan Memon, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice president Shah Mohammad Shah and some other senior politi­cal activists also atten­ded the programme.

Sen Bizenjo started off the discussion with condemnation of the May 13 killings of Sindhi labourers in Gwadar. “We stand with the Sindhi nation and slain workers, and not with terrorists,” he said.

He said Balochistan had been facing disturbances and was practically pushed into a civil war since the past decade. Even NP leaders like Maula Bukhsh Dasti and Habib Jalib were assassinated.

They were not killed by the government. Some 50 other party leaders and activists had been gunned down by ‘these people’, he said and described such people as militants.

Answering a question, he dismissed reports that the Sindhi labourers were building a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC) or a road related to the Frontier Works Organi­sation (FWO).

“It was a local road and its contractor belongs to my party”, he said.

The culprits had claimed that they were killed for working with the FWO.

“Labourers and contractors didn’t have anything to do with the FWO. Militants have killed 2,000 to 3,000 Baloch people besides those from other communities branding the victims as informers. We are killed for talking about federation,” he said.

Sen Bizenjo referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that Baloch were looking to him, and said that no doubt was left now that ‘these people’ were playing the game of outsiders, especially India. “These elements include Sindhis and we know them personally,” he added.

He claimed that most parts of Balochistan were free of militancy now.

“Militants are now confined to Panjgur, Kech, Dera Bugti and Awaran ... they will be eliminated in the next four-five years,” he said.

Sen Bizenjo warned of threat to CPEC from those “who are getting free in Syria”, referring to militants fleeing the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

He said that such people might move to Pakistan and increase the problems with regard to CPEC. “Many countries/regions may not accept it [the situation arising out of such a scenario],” he said, adding that they [the countries/regions] thought that China was expanding itself.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1333964/bizenjo-fears-militants-leaving-syria-may-pose-threat-to-cpec

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Mideast

 

Turkey says will ‘not beg’ Germany to stay at Nato base

May 19, 2017

ANKARA - Turkey on Thursday hit back at German threats to pull its troops out of a key NATO base on its soil, saying it would “not beg” them to stay.

Ankara and Berlin are locked in another spat over Turkey’s refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit the Incirlik base near Syria, which is used by the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

Germany warned earlier this week that it could move its troops elsewhere, with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accusing Turkey of “blackmail”. “It is up to them, we will not beg them,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told NTV, saying Ankara was not blackmailing Germany. Germany has about 250 military personnel stationed at the base in southern Turkey, flying Tornado surveillance missions over Syria and refuelling flights for partner nations battling IS jihadists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday described Turkey’s position as “unfortunate”, saying that Germany, while continuing talks to resolve the issue, would also look for alternatives, including in Jordan.

Gabriel accused Ankara on Wednesday of “looking to blackmail” the German parliament.

“If it is not possible to work normally at Incirlik - and this includes visits by German parliament lawmakers - then we will have to look for alternatives,” he told German newspaper Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung.

“I can only hope that the Turkish government will change its mind in the coming days. Otherwise, the parliament will no longer let our soldiers go to Turkey.”

Cavusoglu said if Gabriel made such remarks, it was “disrespectful”, as Turkish and German officials were working to improve relations.

He said Gabriel had made different remarks in private, suggesting the minister was using the dispute for political gain ahead of September elections in Germany.

Ties between the NATO allies have been strained since the failed coup in Turkey last year, but have worsened over multiple issues including the referendum campaign to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Relations plunged further after Turkey imprisoned Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist with Die Welt, on terror charges earlier this year while Germany granted political asylum to some Turkish military officers accused of involvement in the attempted putsch.

Last year, another row over Incirlik saw Turkey deny German lawmakers the right to visit for many months after the German parliament voted to recognise the Ottoman Empire’s World War I-era massacre of Armenians as a genocide.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the row was a “bilateral issue” and had no effect on NATO activities.

“We had a similar situation (before)... then it was solved. I hope that this dispute will also be solved this time.”

http://nation.com.pk/international/19-May-2017/turkey-says-will-not-beg-germany-to-stay-at-nato-base

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US sticking by Iran N-deal is good news for Rouhani before election

May 19, 2017

TEHRAN - The US decision to stick by the nuclear deal with Iran, despite new sanctions on its missile programme, provided welcome news for President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, a day before his bid for re-election.

The administration of US President Donald Trump chose to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions on Wednesday despite its criticism of the agreement.

That was a relief to Rouhani, who made the 2015 nuclear deal the centrepiece of his efforts to end Iran’s isolation and rebuild its economy with foreign investment. He faces a tough battle for re-election on Friday against hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has called for a much tougher stance against the West and says the nuclear deal has not improved the lives of the poor.

But the Trump administration, dominated by fiercely anti-Iran sentiment, balanced the sanctions waivers with new measures against Iranian defence officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran’s ballistic missile programme. The US says the programme is a breach of international law because the missiles could carry nuclear warheads in the future.

Iran denies ever seeking nuclear weapons and foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Thursday its missile programme is part of its “absolute and legal right to build up the country’s defensive capabilities”. “Iran condemns the US administration’s ill will in its effort to reduce the positive results of the country’s implementation of JCPOA (nuclear deal) commitments by adding individuals to the list of unilateral and illegal extraterritorial sanctions,” Ghasemi said on his Telegram channel.

He said Iran would retaliate by adding nine US individuals and companies to its own sanctions list, accusing them of “clear violations of human rights” in relation to their support for Israel or “terrorist groups” in the Middle East.

Under review

Trump threatened to tear up the nuclear deal during his campaign and has launched a review of its terms, but until then the deal requires him to renew sanctions relief at regular intervals.

His first deadline fell this week, related to sanctions on oil purchases through the Iranian central bank - part of a 2012 law called the National Defence Authorisation Act - that must be waived every 120 days. The Trump administration will have to waive more sanctions next month if it wants to stick by the nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in April that Iran was complying with its side of the bargain, but has described the country as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Washington has maintained a raft of other sanctions related to human rights and the missile programme that continue to stifle Iran’s efforts to rebuild its foreign trade. This has been a major issue in the Iranian election, with hardliner Raisi accusing Rouhani of making too many concessions without gaining any economic benefits.

Although oil sales have rebounded since the deal came into effect in January 2016, Iran’s continued exclusion from the international banking system has prevented it from signing much-needed trade and investment deals with Europe and Asia.  Rouhani, who is still seen as the frontrunner in unofficial polls, has vowed to work towards the removal of remaining sanctions and called for more time to allow the benefits of the deal to reach ordinary Iranians.

Tehran condemns new

US missile sanctions

Iran criticised new US sanctions on its missile programme on Thursday, saying they would undermine a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Iran condemns the US administration’s ill will in its effort to reduce the positive results of the country’s implementation of JCPOA (nuclear deal) commitments by adding individuals to the list of unilateral and illegal extraterritorial sanctions,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on his Telegram channel.

China protests ‘unhelpful’

US curbs

China lodged an official protest with the United States on Thursday over new US sanctions on Iran that target a Chinese business tied to Tehran’s ballistic missile programme. “The Chinese side is always opposed to unilateral sanctions, to the frequent implementation of unilateral sanctions, especially when it hurts interests of third parties,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The administration of US President Donald Trump chose to stick by a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on Wednesday and continue waiving sanctions related to its atomic activities.

But it balanced the decision with new measures against Iranian defence officials and a Chinese business linked to Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

Saudi Arabia says Iran vote

‘internal’ matter

Iran’s election on Friday is its own concern, regional rival Saudi Arabia said ahead of an “unprecedented” summit between US President Donald Trump and dozens of Muslim nations excluding Iran.

“That’s an internal Iranian matter,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told journalists when asked his expectations for Friday’s presidential vote in Iran.

“When we look at Iran’s policy, we don’t look at personalities. We look at actions,” said Jubeir, repeating allegations about Iran’s “aggressive” behaviour in the Middle East.

President Hassan Rouhani faces a tough battle for re-election against hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has called for a much tougher stance against the West and says a 2015 nuclear deal has not improved the lives of the poor.

It lifted international sanctions in exchange for guarantees that Tehran will not pursue a nuclear weapons capability.

The agreement, between the US under former president Barack Obama, five other world powers, and Tehran, was viewed with suspicion by Riyadh.

Rouhani made the deal a centrepiece of his efforts to end Iran’s isolation and rebuild its economy with foreign investment.

“We have seen Iran’s record of aggression increase not decrease” since the nuclear pact, Jubeir said, citing the country’s support for “terrorism” and efforts to destabilise other countries.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/19-May-2017/us-sticking-by-iran-n-deal-is-good-news-for-rouhani-before-election

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Hamas winds up trial of military leader’s alleged killers

19 May 2017

A military court in Gaza on Thursday concluded the trial of three men accused of assassinating a Hamas military leader and will deliver its verdict at the weekend, an official said.

The trial of the alleged killers of Mazen Faqha opened on Monday and the court held its fourth and final session on Thursday.

The chief suspect, Ashraf Abu Leila, 38, and two accomplices are charged with shooting dead Faqha, a senior Hamas official, next to his home on March 24.

“The verdict will be delivered on Sunday,” Hamas-run interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum told AFP. “It will be final and under Palestinian law the accused have no right of appeal.”  

Death penalty

“The sentence will be the death penalty and execution will be carried out as quickly as possible,” said a source close to the military court system.

Hamas has accused the men of colluding with Israel to set up and commit the murder.

In the wake of the killing it launched a large-scale campaign against all “collaborators” in which it said it made 45 arrests.

Hamas hanged three men on April 6, convicted by the military court of past acts of “treason and collaborating” unconnected to Faqha’s slaying.

The assassination in the middle of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip shocked the Islamist movement.

Hamas immediately blamed its arch-enemy Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, and implemented strict border restrictions on those seeking to leave the Palestinian enclave.

Abu Leila was arrested about two weeks after the assassination and his detention was publicly announced by Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniya last Thursday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/19/Hamas-winds-up-trial-of-military-leader-s-alleged-killers-.html

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Turkey calls for ouster of US envoy for anti-IS coalition

May 19, 2017

ISTANBUL - Turkey called Thursday for the removal of the US diplomat coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, accusing him of backing Syrian Kurdish militias.

Washington and Ankara are bitterly at odds over US support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, which Turkey considers a front for banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatists.

“Brett McGurk is definitely giving support to PKK and YPG. It would be useful if this person was replaced,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told NTV television. Last year, McGurk visited YPG members who controlled the Syrian town of Kobane and was awarded a plaque, which drew Turkey’s wrath.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angrily told Washington at the time to choose between Ankara and “terrorists”.

But Ankara is now upbeat about the future of relations with Washington under President Donald Trump, with Cavusoglu praising the new administration as “more sincere” after Erdogan’s talks with the US leader this week.

Erdogan met Trump at the White House on Tuesday, with the two leaders pledging to improve ties between the NATO allies - even as Erdogan gave a stern warning about Washington’s arming of Kurdish militia in Syria.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to take the YPG-PYD into consideration as partners in the region, and it’s going against a global agreement we reached,” Erdogan said in Washington, referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, whose armed wing is the YPG.

The United States sees the YPG as the most effective force on the ground in the fight against Islamic State militants.

Turkey is keen to join a future battle to recapture the de facto IS capital of Raqa in Syria, but only if Kurdish militia forces do not participate.

US officials told Ankara that the YPG would not constitute a threat for Turkey and that arms supplied by Washington would be used in Raqa and in the south, not against Turkey, Cavusoglu said.

Speaking to reporters at the Turkish embassy in Washington, Erdogan said he told Trump that if there were a YPG attack, Ankara would act unilaterally.

“We clearly told them if there is any attack by the YPG against Turkey, we will apply the rules of engagement without asking anyone,” he was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet newspaper Thursday.

Erdogan also said that the US had made up its mind on Raqa, which meant Turkey could not join the operation “under the current circumstances,” referring to the YPG’s involvement.

But Erdogan said he believed Washington “will knock our door on the issue of Syria.”

McGurk was in northern Syria Tuesday and Wednesday for talks with the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, and the YPG, according to a source in the nascent Raqa city civilian council.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/19-May-2017/turkey-calls-for-ouster-of-us-envoy-for-anti-is-coalition

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Palestinian killed by Israeli settler in West Bank clashes

18 May 2017

A Palestinian was killed by an Israeli settler on Thursday during clashes near the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry and security sources said.

The clashes near a military post erupted when an Israeli settler in a car attempted to cross a crowd of Palestinian protesters, with the settler and Israeli soldiers opening fire, Palestinian security sources said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/05/18/Palestinian-killed-by-Israeli-settler-in-West-Bank-clashes.html

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King Salman orders urgent relief to contain cholera outbreak in Yemen

19 May 2017

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz initiated urgent relief to combat and contain the cholera outbreak in Yemen via King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief (KSRelief).

This was an urgent response to contain the crisis, which began to take a serious curve in Yemen after the outbreak spread in the past few days.

The priority of this aid campaign is to increase the support of laboratory equipment that helps with the early detection, diagnosis and the provision of necessary treatment.

Saudi efforts to support the Yemeni people in the face of this disease have been praised by Yemeni authorities.

The outbreak of the disease is due to the accumulation of waste. The absence of waste disposal in the capital Sanaa is among the main reasons that contributed to the outbreak of the disease and the high number of cases.

King thanked

Advisor at the Royal Court, General Supervisor of King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief, Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, thanked King Salman for his directives to eliminate cholera epidemic in Yemen, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

In a press statement on Thursday, Al-Rabiah said that the Center has set up an urgent response team to develop rapid intervention programs, diagnosis of the epidemic, treatment and control and work on prevention, cooperating with UAE Ministry of Health.

The center has an ongoing contact with the rest of the GCC countries, through the GCC Aid Coordination Office, as well as the rest of the Arab coalition countries to implement urgent programs and develop a plan to contain the epidemic and to protect the Yemeni people from the risks and consequences.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/05/19/King-Salman-orders-urgent-relief-to-contain-cholera-outbreak-in-Yemen.html

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Europe

 

NATO not to join combat role against Daesh: Stoltenberg

May 18, 2017

The secretary general of the NATO has ruled out the possibility that the Western military alliance would help combat missions against Daesh if it joins the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that NATO members were discussing whether the organization should join the US-led coalition, but he insisted that the alliance would not participate in combat missions even if it agrees to be part of the drive.

Stoltenberg, who was briefing reporters in Brussels, said it was "absolutely out of the question for NATO to go into combat operations.”

He also noted that NATO members had yet to really reach an agreement to allow the alliance to join the coalition against Daesh even though all are individual members of the US-led campaign.

“No decision has been taken. The discussion is going on,” Stoltenberg said, reiterating that NATO would not bow to pressure by US President Donald Trump, who is seeking a greater role for NATO in the campaign against militants in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump is expected to hold a meeting with allied counterparts in Brussels on May 25.

NATO currently provides training and aerial surveillance support to the so-called US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, while maintaining its military presence in Afghanistan nearly 16 years after it joined the invasion of the country.

Reports on Wednesday suggested that a top NATO general had recommended that the members accept Washington’s demand for joining the US-led coalition.

The coalition began carrying out airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq in 2014, after the terror group seized swathes of land in west and north of the Arab country. The US claims the coalition targets Daesh terrorists. However, the raids, which have done little to dislodge the terror group, have on numerous occasions claimed many civilian lives and inflicted damage on the country’s infrastructure.

The air campaign and ground operations were later expanded to cover Syria’s northeast, where Daesh holds territories and claims its self-styled rule, with Raqqah as its self-proclaimed capital.

Syria has repeatedly protested against the US-led intervention, saying it violates its sovereignty.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/18/522351/NATO-Daesh-US-coalition

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2,300 refugees rescued by Italian coast guard

19 May 2017

Some 2,300 refugees were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, Italian coast guard said in a statement on Thursday.

The Italian coast guard carried out 22 rescue operations and intercepted 2,300 refugees in 12 dinghies and 10 vessels off the Libyan coast en route to Italy.

 The operations were backed by the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean and nongovernmental organizations, the statement said.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/189717/2300-refugees-rescued-by-italian-coast-guard

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Islamist-Linked Muslim Council of Britain Calls on Imams to Use Friday Prayers To Mobilise Voters

18 May 2017

The Islamist-linked Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is calling on imams to mobilise their congregations and for British Muslims to vote in the general election to promote Islamic interests.

The MCB, the largest Muslim umbrella group in the country, has published a “list of 8 key issues affecting Muslim communities” to consider when voting and a draft sermon for imams to give in mosques.

“Muslims need to be more politically active”, declares the sermon, to be read at Friday prayers across the country. IpsosMORI research suggests that 53 per cent of eligible Muslims did not vote at the 2010 general election.

The ‘Fairness Not Favours: British Muslim Perspectives at the 2015 General Election’ list covers issues such as: “Defend the right of Muslims – and people of all faiths – to live their faith be that in religious clothing, food and reasonable accommodation of religious observance.”

In 2015, the MCB even produced a website cross-referencing issues Muslims are interested in, allowing voters to compare political parties’ stances on topics such as Palestine, tackling crime and terrorism, and “action to combat Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and all forms of racism”.

Voting can be a contentious issue within some Muslim communities, as more hard-line interpretations of the faith only recognise sharia law rather than “man-made laws” made in democratic states.

The MCB sermon seeks to justify voting by referencing sayings and stories from the Quran. In one story mentioned Mohammed ordered early Muslims to “actively contribute in constructing the Madinian society, which was quickly changing with the arrival of the new migrants”.

The sermon also claims that “many things threaten this for us now, whether the rise of the Right Wing in Europe, bans of hijab and niqab in neighbouring countries, a constant threat to halal food, the demonizing of our Islamic practice, and so much more”. Adding: “If we do not vote carefully in our local areas and ensure that those who are not suitable to govern or be MPs are removed from power, then we will suffer even more harm. Voting is our key tool to safeguard our rights.”

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, called on British Muslims to engage with their local prospective parliamentary candidates, saying:

“As the election approaches, we hope that all the main parties engage with Muslim communities and Muslim communities themselves engage in the democratic process.

“We have seen many arrange hustings, Q&A sessions and even go out campaigning for their local candidate – it is an important election – make your voice heard.”

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/05/18/islamist-linked-muslim-council-of-britain-calls-on-imams-to-mobilise-congregations-to-vote-at-friday-prayers/

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