Life Insurance, a government-owned life insurance company that is the largest
insurance provider nationally, has employed all cultural stereotypes in an
advertisement for their Child Education and Marriage Plan.
Sufi to Salafi: Spirit of Kashmiriyat in Danger'
Life Insurance of Pakistan Draws Ire after Endorsing Education for Boys,
Marriage for Girls
Establishes A Supreme Council to Combat Sectarian Strife
Activists Accuse Houthis of Detaining, Torturing Women over Made-Up Charges
Transition to Islamic Rule Was Gradual for Majority of Population’
Imposes Partial Ban on UK Islamophobe Robinson
Congresswoman Omar Defends Tweet Criticizing Israel
Tallest Durga Idol Was Made in Assam by a Muslim Artisan
HC Grants Bail to Right-Wing Group Leader in Muslim Techie's Murder
Pradesh: Altaf Rizvi appointed treasurer of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaath
module’: NIA raids in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, four detained
between India and Pakistan imperative for peace: Farooq Abdullah
Pakistan soldiers dead as India retaliates to border attacks
Pakistanis Take Their Rights to Nation’s Islamic Courts
has 'no role' in Afghanistan: Pak foreign office
steps up efforts to salvage stalled US-Taliban talks
approves draft Gilgit-Baltistan governance order
police asked to give 18 missing children’s details to FIA for investigation
peace process a ‘shared responsibility’: Pakistan, US
Arabia Pumps Money into Restive Shi'ite Quarter It Once Flattened
Pope in Abu Dhabi will build on relations with Muslims
MbS Puts Younger Brother under House Arrest
MP Warns of US-Saudi-Israeli Plot against Hashd Al-Shaabi
SDF Commander Killed in Eastern Deir Ezzur as Tensions Heighten
Receive Severe Blow in Failed Attacks on Demilitarized Zone in Hama, Idlib
coalition hits mosque used by ISIS in Syria
kidnap Christian in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
‘deal of century’ doomed to hit dead end: Palestine
unveils Iran-funded homes for former Israel prisoners
Turkish Muslim foundation ‘forced to sell properties’
of Activists Ask Europe to Boycott US Anti-Iran Conference in Poland
commander behind missile attacks killed in intelligence operation
regime responsible for many conflicts in Middle East: Hezbollah
trying to drag Gaza into new war with Israel: Hamas co-founder
killed in attack on 2 Touareg villages in Mali
child killed in Sudan anti-government protests
set for first-ever visit by Israeli PM to Chad
geologist kidnapped in Burkina Faso found dead
march on presidential palace as protests linger
Tilting Law against Syrian Asylum-Seekers
Holds Protest, Screens Islam-Insulting Movie In Front Of Utrecht Mosque
risks ‘revolution’ over basic rights: UK MP
to impose sanctions for Syrian chemical attack
new 'anti-Muslim' appointee, Charles M Kupperman, worries civil rights groups
TV’s Hashemi due in US court on Friday
Army to acquire Israeli Iron Dome missile systems
trained UAE troops for air combat in Yemen: Report
Four US personnel killed in ISIS attack on Syria’s Manbij
Bans Film About 2016 Islamist Cafe Siege Fatal To 22, Cites Damage To
Mohib, Intelligence Chief Stanikzai met Ambassadors of 5 countries in Kabul
Taliban, ISIS-K militants surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar
march in cities to call for pullout of US troops
of Rohingya families flee India for fear of deportation, persecution
for Private Sector to Allow Muslim Staff To Perform Prayers
religious teacher and student placed on Restriction Order under ISA
calls Malaysian ban on its athletes 'shameful'
Goldman paints former star banker as promiscuous Muslim convert, ‘master con
Prabowo Turn Up Heat in First Debate, Steer Clear of Past Human Rights Cases
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Sufi to Salafi: Spirit of Kashmiriyat in danger'
DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir is going through a phase of radicalisation where
traditions like Sufism have been eroded and there is a threat of Kashmir being
lost to fanatical Islam with no space to other religious beliefs, a senior BSF
officer has said in an article mean’t for internal circulation.
backed by Pakistan has sounded the death knell of ‘Kashmiriyat’. “We are losing
Kashmir to fanatic Islam where there is no place for other religions and
religious sects other than Sunnis,” S S Guleria, posted as DIG intelligence in
Kashmir, has said in BSF’s annual magazine ‘Borderman’.
has warned that the tentacles of radicalism have struck deep roots in Kashmir
with teachers prompting students to hate non-Muslims and same is the case in
colleges. He has written of Wahabi preachers systematically visiting villages
on Fridays and weekends to propagate exclusivist Salafi ideology among youth.
the solutions that he has suggested, Guleria has batted for opening cinema
halls, liquor shops in the Valley as well as organising concerts and IPL
matches there. He has also called for stronger laws against radicalisation,
de-ligitamising madrasas and introduction of textbooks that reflect moral
points of all religions.
officer has said Hurriyat, Jamaat-e-Islami, Ahle-Hadith and other such
organisations have facilitated the spread of extremist thought and that
Pakistan has been “fully backed by China” in its efforts to destabilise the
influence of Wahhabis, according to the officer, has changed the nature of
insurgency in Kashmir from calls for “freedom” to that of terrorists fighting
in what they say is the cause of Islam. He warns that the “signs of alienation
and growing anti-India sentiments may look familiar, but a churn is taking
place beneath the surface”, which is threatening Kashmiri co-existence.
presidential medal winning officer writes that in south Kashmir particularly,
about 5-6 preachers visit villages and go to a pre-selected house where a group
of 20-25 youth in the age group of 15-30 are in attendance with tea and snacks
being served. The preachers espouse Salafi ideology, preach hatred and
intolerance against other communities and advocate secession.
brainwashing is done in a very systematic way. Those radicalised are encouraged
by separatists to threaten the members of minority community (mainly Sikhs) to
leave Kashmir so that they can convert it into a singular monolithic society,
an antithesis of Kashmiriyat”, Guleria writes.
mosques controlled by Wahhabis, including Ahle-Hadith, according to the
officer, have doubled from around 1,000 in the last decade with most of the
youth opting for them rather than the traditional Kashmiri Sufi shrines.
factors that have deepened radicalisation, according to Guleria, include
free-flow of Wahhabi literature through print, electronic and social media as
well as money from the Gulf and narco-terrorism. Organisations like
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), according to him, have
managed to convince even educated Kashmiri youth that Sufism portrays an image
of tolerance, meekness and pacifism. This has attracted a sizeable number of
educated youths from well off families to terrorist ranks.
Kashmiris are subscribing to jihadi ideology propagated by Islamic State, Al
Qaeda, and the online propaganda of IS, AQIS and Hizbul Mujahideen among others
is appealing to the young generation. There are currently 365 militants in the
Valley including 172 Pakistanis, he adds.
China’s role, Guleria says in his write-up that its economic support has
emboldened Pakistan’s confidence to meddle in Jammu and Kashmir due to which
Islamabad is sponsoring radicalisation financially, militarily and with
that merely killing of militants, or providing material support to Kashmiris or
blocking the internet will not help, Guleria asks government to deal with the
problem of radicalisation “surgically”.
recommends a dynamic counter-radicalisation policy for Kashmir as current
endevaours of Indian government in this regard are “miniscule” as compared to
the ISI of Pakistan. Government, Guleria recommends, should open large number
of educational institutions where nationalism and secularism should find due
place. He asks government to establish and sponsor government newspapers in the
Kashmir Valley as most dailies there currently indirectly support militancy.
advertisement portrays a boy in an Oxford cap while a female child is shown
wearing a bridal dupatta, essentially endorsing education for the boy and
marriage for the daughter.
the ad was first published in 2015, however, it has recently been making rounds
on social media. Senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman
tweeted that the insurance agency needed to stop publishing such adverts.
promotion of child marriage for girls and studies for only boys is not the role
modelling we need in society. The bill for banning child marriage meets with
social barriers like this, making laws hard to implement,” she added.
user pointed out that the insurance provider seems to define ‘roshan mustaqbil’
differently for male and female children. “Pakistan – in 2019 – for you all,”
user condemned the cultural message in the advertisement: “State Life Insurance
had the audacity to publish their pathetic mindset on their posters and get
them posted around. It is pathetic and gross how they are promoting this
stereotype and making people believe that it is okay how things work right
okay to worry about your son’s education and all a daughter deserves is to get
married. Gross, smh!”, he added.
602/2018, issued by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi on 30 December, establishes
a Supreme Council to Combat Sectarian Strife.
to the official gazette, the council will be mandated to formulate a general
strategy to prevent and contain sectarian violence, developing “new mechanisms
to contain such incidents and issuing periodical reports” on their success.
council will be headed by Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, President Al-Sisi’s
counter-terrorism advisor and a former interior minister, and include
representatives from the Armed Forces, national security and intelligence
agencies. It will be authorised to invite ministers and other concerned
officials to attend its meetings.
decree was issued just a few days ahead of Coptic Christmas celebrations and
before the president opened a major mosque and the largest cathedral in the
Middle East in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital.
opening of the mosque and cathedral on 7 January came two days after a police
officer was killed while defusing a bomb near a church in Nasr City.
jihadists have long sought to target churches at Christmas time and during
other Coptic feasts. Heavy security measures were in place during this year’s
celebrations with roadblocks and police deployed en masse around churches to
prevent car bombs and other attacks.
April 2017 terrorists attacked two churches, one in Alexandria, the second in
Gharbiya governorate, killing 49 and injuring more than 140. At the time US
President Donald Trump tweeted that the “bloodletting of Christians in the
Middle East must stop”. In November, an armed group targeted a bus carrying
Christians in the governorate of Minya, killing nine and wounding others. The
Interior Ministry said it was able to pursue the group and kill its members.
initiative to confront sectarian violence was welcomed in religious and
Grand Mufti Shawki Allam described it as a “qualitative shift towards
citizenship”. Coptic Orthodox Church official Kamal Zakher said it was a
“positive step in confronting sectarian and terrorist incidents”.
council’s level of representation is a sign the authorities are willing “to
address the problem’s root causes”, says Al-Ahram political analyst Nabil
added that the decree establishing the council comes parallel to the
president’s order in July 2017 to form a National Council to Combat Terrorism
Amer, head of parliament’s Defence and National Security Council, says the
council could be an important vehicle in fighting sectarian incidents that seek
to divide Egypt’s Muslims and Christians.
issuing this decree,” intoned Abdel-Fattah, “President Al-Sisi is acknowledging
that simple security solutions are not enough to resolve sectarian problems.”
need a cultural and social revolution to change people’s mindset, particularly
in Upper Egypt and rural areas.”
December two Christians were shot dead in Minya by a Muslim church security
guard following a verbal squabble.
many Upper Egypt governorates, and particularly in Minya, sectarian violence is
common. Most often, it is an extension of personal disputes or clashes over
places of worship,” said Abdel-Fattah.
elements exploit petty disputes and turn them into bloody clashes.
heads national tables in terms of incidents of sectarian strife. For decades
the governorate has been a haven for terrorist movements and extremist Islamist
clerics who preach hatred and perverted interpretations of Islam.
groups exploited the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood between 2011 and 2013 to
spread their venomous ideology on a grand scale among villagers and school
students. The lack of public services, development projects and employment
opportunities helped create fertile ground for the spread of sectarian
to Abdel-Fattah, the government’s traditional approach to containing sectarian
strife fuelled the situation.
sectarian incidents take place reconciliation councils are convened to contain
the situation rather than address its root causes,” he says.
hopes that the new council will develop a radical new strategy to tackle the
need to stand up to Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood clerics who preach hatred
against Christians and issue discriminatory fatwas,” says Abdel-Fattah.
expert Fouad Abdel-Moneim Riad wrote in Al-Ahram on 12 January that President
Al-Sisi’s decree should be followed by other measures to help contain sectarian
should be removed from national ID cards, the niqab banned, control on
extremist fatwas issued by Salafi clerics tightened and an anti-discrimination
commission established,” wrote Riad.
who chaired the committee charged with investigating sectarian incidents
following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, said the majority of attacks against
Christians were triggered by the provocative preaching of extremist clerics
affiliated with Salafi groups and the Muslim Brotherhood.
saw how these clerics pushed members of their congregations to torch churches
following the removal of the Brotherhood regime,” said Riad.
Khattab, a former minister of population and family planning, said in an
article also published on 12 January, that Article 53 of the constitution which
prohibits discrimination urgently needs to be put into effect.
is a pressing need for a national anti-discrimination commission to tackle all
forms of discrimination based on religion, colour, gender and sex, promote a
culture of diversity and tolerance and ensure educational curricula do not
contain any discriminatory content,” she said.
Activists Accuse Houthis Of Detaining, Torturing Women Over Made-Up Charges
Yemen’s Houthi militias hold dozens of women without bringing them to trial or
charging them with a crime, often torturing the detainees and blackmailing
their families, activists said on Thursday.
allegations were first raised over the weekend by the Yemen Organization for
Combating Human Trafficking, based in the capital, Sanaa.
group’s founder, Nabil Fadel, said he received information from families,
former female detainees, and other sources showing that over the past months,
the Houthis have been rounding up women over allegations of prostitution and
collaboration with the Saudi-led coalition.
Yemeni rights lawyer on Thursday said the women were rounded up from cafes and
parks in the past months. Speaking on condition of anonymity for fears for
personal safety, he said their families are searching for their missing daughters.
Yemeni anti-trafficking group said it obtained new information showing that the
militias were carrying out atrocities such as “abuse, torture, and forced
disappearances of women and girls in secret and illegal prisons.”
AP investigation last month showed that thousands of Yemenis have been
imprisoned by the Houthi militia during the four years of Yemen’s grinding
of them suffered extreme torture — being smashed in their faces with batons,
hung from chains by their wrists or genitals for weeks at a time, and scorched
transition to Islamic rule was gradual for majority of population’
— The transition from the Byzantine to Early Islamic period was drastic when
looks at only historical literary sources, claimed a French scholar from the
University of Paris-Panthéon-Sorbonne.
a short-lived Sassanid occupation of the Levant from 614-628AD, the conquest by
Islamic armies remained a shock for savants. For instance, a handful of
chroniclers interpreted the failure of the Byzantine Empire to control their
territory as the waning of their golden age,” Apolline Vernet said.
added that from a top-down viewpoint, the battle of Yarmouk was a significant
moment in breaking Byzantine dominion over the Levant.
the gradual establishment of the new Islamic ruling-system is a tangled and
complex narrative, she continued, noting that the first decades of the Islamic state
in the Near East are punctuated by both back-and-forth battles along the
frontier areas of the empire and civil war.
the reign of Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan, he tried to calm tensions between ruling
factions to some degree, but the new administrative shift is mostly attributed
to the Caliph Abdel Malik Ibn Marwan,” Vernet said.
who ruled between 685 and 705 AD, introduced reforms that standardised Islamic
administrative practices and solidified Arabic as the official administrative
language. He also ordered inscribed milestones to be placed on the main roads
within the territory.
the bottom-up viewpoint, recent studies have emphasised the resilience of local
inhabitants — or their ability to compromise with the new socioeconomic and political
realities, the scholar explained.
governor of a province had military, administrative and fiscal duties, but he
was also responsible for the inhabitants’ environment by maintaining and
improving civil works and public facilities, she underlined.
relationship between the governor and the local population would have been
quite close, as suggested by contemporary Egyptian papyri and recent studies”,
Vernet pointed out.
general, the shift from Byzantine to Islamic rule was a step-by-step process
over the course of the 7th-8th centuries AD — rather than one explosive event.
“It echoes in the archaeological remains that show no evidence of societal
collapse or destruction of sites in the Near East.”
it came to the established sites in the area such as the Decapolis, they did
not face abrupt change following the Islamic conquest, Vernet explained.
the integration of the new Muslim population and practices can be discerned by
archaeology through different means.”
claimed that the congregational mosque was the focal point for urban Muslim
communities and would have been constructed in most of cities during the
scholar added that the most remarkable one in Jordan is the mosque located in
the ancient city centre of Jerash.
aspect to the city’s transformation during the first years of Islam was the
increase of pottery workshops and kilns within the city,” Vernet said, noting
that the ceramics produced were sold locally in the various shops near the
mosque, but were also sent abroad to marketplaces in other regional cities.
in the case of Pella, in north-western Jordan, the scholar said that “no mosque
from the Umayyad period has been recorded yet — not even a palatial centre”.
several houses discovered on the hill can attest to the continuity of daily
life during the transition from Byzantine to Umayyad rule, she underlined.
study of Pella’s artefacts, some of which, along with their owners, were sealed
away by an earthquake in 750AD, showed that new decorations and shapes were
used for tableware after the conquest.
said there is no indication Pella’s inhabitants converted to Islam, and instead
seemed to be wealthy merchants living under Umayyad rule.
in 634 or 635, the ancient city of Amman kept its former status as a prominent
city during the Umayyad period, she said, adding that the only evidence for
this period in the lower city is a mosque, which is no longer visible.
contrast, the citadel was renovated to accommodate the regional administration
of the province," the French researcher said, adding that in addition to a
palace, cistern, market and a mosque, archaeologists also uncovered a
three cities show the wide range of both continuity and transformation that
affected Byzantine cities after the Islamic conquest. Even if the preexisting
structures are still standing, new trends appeared in economic, administrative
and everyday life.
“the oriental house”, or “central courtyard house” is a type of structure that
dates back to prehistoric times, and was constructed for centuries from
northern Syria through Arabian Peninsula, Vernet said.
suits the requirements of the warm climate with a simple but effective plan:
the living rooms surround the courtyard, where shade can be easily made with a
piece of fabric in a corner, a tree or a peristyle,” she noted, saying that the
“central courtyard house” was very common during Byzantine and Islamic rule.
one has to note that this type of plan was widely constructed in the
aristocratic castles and newly-founded cities during the Umayyad period, Vernet
plan would serve as a dwelling unit in the aristocratic complex... and it could
be used as an apartment to house the family of an official,” the archaeologist
the Islamic period introduced a systematic room pattern, which could be
extended from the small “proto-bayt” (a central room leading to two side
rooms), to the large “Syrian-bayt” (a rectangular central room leading to two
sets of side rooms), Vernet said.
examples are found at the citadel of Amman... Those rooms could have been used
for banqueting purposes or to welcome special guests into the house,” she
said that even though the Islamic period in the region was embedded with an
ancient foundation, “the study of housing practices highlights new living
habits and customs introduced by newcomers following the Islamic conquest”.
imposes partial ban on UK Islamophobe Robinson
far-right activist and Islamophobe Tommy Robinson has been banned from making
money on YouTube because he allegedly spread hate on the platform.
YouTube spokesperson said on Thursday that the video-sharing website has
suspended advertisements on Robinson’s account.
have suspended ads on Tommy Robinson’s YouTube channel as it breaches our
advertising policies,” said the spokesperson.
ban comes a day after the American video-sharing platform removed adverts from
videos on Robinson’s page, saying they promoted “hatred, intolerance or
decision to “demonetize” Robinson’s account came following complaints and
reports by other users.
move would be a serious blow to the Islamophobe figure whose channel has over
270,000 subscribers and enjoys high earnings from far-right viewers in Britain
slammed the move and said it was “continued censorship”. He also claimed that
Google, which owns YouTube, was planning to close down his account and ban him
page on YouTube has already been flagged fro allegedly violating rules on “hate
speech or content that promotes or incites violence”. Among the videos spotted
on the page is one from last year that includes footage of Robinson punching a
migrant on a street in Italy.
has several criminal convictions in the UK and is free pending a ruling by the
country’s attorney general on contempt of court charges. He has openly promoted
hate against Muslims and other minority groups in Britain since he founded the
English Defense League some 10 years ago.
has already been banned from major social media websites like Twitter while
payment platform PayPal has also removed him from online transactions over his
violation of rules on hate speech.
Congresswoman Omar defends tweet criticizing Israel
Ilhan Omar on Thursday defended a comment in which she criticized Israel years
before and said she hoped people would see the country's "evil
2012, Omar posted a tweet regarding the Gaza War, where the Israeli Defense
Force launched a week-long offensive on the Gaza Strip, leaving 174
Palestinians dead, according to the United Nations.
has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the
evil doings of Israel," said Omar.
tweet resurfaced in an on-air interview with CNN, where she defended her
don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans," Omar
told CNN. "My comments precisely are addressing what was happening during
the Gaza war, and I am clearly speaking about the way the Israeli regime was
conducting itself in that war."
alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib, are the first two Muslim women to serve in U.S.
representatives have been outspoken about their criticism of Israel, and have
expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement which
demands a boycott of Israeli companies involved in human rights violations,
until the situation for Palestinians improves.
serving in the Minnesota legislature, Omar also reportedly voted against a bill
trying to prohibit companies from doing business with entities engaging in a
boycott of Israeli products.
tallest Durga idol was made in Assam by a Muslim artisan
day before Xilpi Diwas — or what is celebrated as “artiste’s day” in Assam —
61-year-old Nuruddin Ahmed officially became the man who made the world’s
tallest idol of Hindu goddess Durga, endorsed by the Limca Book of Records.
who hails from Guwahati’s Kahilipara area, had built a 98-feet-tall idol out of
bamboo during Durga Puja in September 2017 at a pandal in Bishnupur, Guwahati —
a feat that had grabbed plenty of attention even then. “While most people
appreciated my work and did not disturb me, some would often ask me if my
‘dharma’ conflicted with my work,” says Ahmed. “But where does religion come
into the picture? Xilpi’r kunu dharma nai (Artistes do not have any religion).”
people — of various faiths, including Hindus and Muslims — worked together in
September 2017 to build the gargantuan idol that nearly a lakh flocked to
Bishnupur to see. Made completely out of baah (bamboo), a material found in
abundance through Assam, Ahmed’s Durga idol was built in seven days flat.
had actually taken forty days to build it — it was ready by September 17.
However, a big storm destroyed it a week before Durga Puja and we had to
rebuild from scratch,” says Ahmed. The five-day festival is one of the most
important in eastern India, especially in West Bengal, Assam, Orissa and
Tripura and marked by elaborate pandals made under artistic supervision.
is also involved in the art direction of the biggest pandals in Guwahati
including the ones at the Rehabari and Bharalamukh localities. “I used bamboo
for the idol because the material is intrinsic to Assam and the Assamese people
— I wanted to promote it,” he says.
received the letter from the Limca authorities last month but went public with
the news on his Facebook account only on Wednesday, once he had received the
hardbound copy of the Limca Book Records 2019. In the book, under the section,
“Statues and Idols”, Ahmed’s Durga idol shares space with the largest Nandi,
Shivalinga, Hanuman statue, Buddha statue etc. “We used cotton only for the
ropes — rest of it was all bamboo,” says Ahmed, who has also been involved with
the Bhramyaman (mobile or travelling) theatre groups of Assam as an art
director for the last 29 years.
do work for mandirs and pujas, xattras (monastic orders of 16th centure
poet-saint Sankardeva) and naamghars, as well as masjids,” says Ahmed, who also
happened to turn 61 today. As is the norm, the pandal in Bishnupur was
dismantled on the last day of Durga Puja in September 2017 — however, because
of “public demand”, Ahmed’s idol was up for an extended week.
HC Grants Bail To Right-Wing Group Leader In Muslim Techie's Murder
Bombay High Court Thursday granted bail to Dhananjay Desai, an accused in a
case related to the killing of IT professional Mohsin Shaikh in Pune in 2014.
to police, Shaikh was killed by three men after they were "provoked"
by an inflammatory speech delivered by Desai.
Sadhana Jadhav granted bail to Desai against a bail bond and surety of Rs
lawyer Abhijeet Desai said a detailed order giving reasons for the grant of
bail will be available Monday.
per the prosecution, on June 2, 2014, Desai-led Hindu Rashtra Sena had organised
a meeting in Hadaspar area of Pune following the circulation of morphed
pictures of King Shivaji, former Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and some Hindu
police alleged that Desai had given a provocative speech instigating the
audience at the meeting. Afterwards, some of the attendees had gine on a
of them spotted two men on a motorbike, one of them spotting a beard, and
attacked them. The victims, Mohsin and Riyaz, were both IT professionals.
managed to escape but Mohsin died in the attack. Desai was subsequently
had sought bail arguing that he had no role to play in the incident and was not
even present at the spot.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) state president Altaf Rizvi was elected
as treasurer of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaath, a religious organization of
new executive of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamath was elected during the two-day long
congression of the Jamaath held at Kondapalli Sha Bukhari Karbala grounds in
Kondapalli near Vijayawada on Thursday. Mufti Mohammed Abdul Khader Rizwi of
Vijayawada has been elected as new state president of the Jamaath.
that members of the recently-busted outfit, which has been accused of being an
Islamic State module, were planning to form a separate group to carry out
terror activities, the NIA Thursday raided seven locations across Uttar Pradesh
and Punjab. NIA sources said that four people have been detained and are being
questioned. The key among them, sources said, is a Maulvi from a mosque in
Ludhiana. The Maulvi hails from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and was an associate of
arrested accused Saqib Iftekhar, also a Maulvi from Hapur, said the sources.
is alleged to have helped the group procure weapons and had travelled to Jammu
and Kashmir thrice to arrange weapons and to meet militants in the Valley. The
NIA now suspects that Iftekhar’s visits to the Valley were not to arrange
weapons for the group he was associated with, but to start a new group, the
December 26, NIA arrested 10 people from Delhi’s Jaffarabad and Uttar Pradesh’s
Amroha for allegedly being part of a group called Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam. The
agency alleged that the group owed allegiance to the IS and was being handled
by an online entity by the name of Abu Malik Peshawari.
its raids, NIA had claimed to have seized arms and explosives. Officially, NIA
has maintained that the group had plans to target “vital installations and
important personalities which included politicians”.
to NIA, the group was led by Delhi preacher Mufti Sohail with civil engineering
student Mohammed Anas, Zubair and Zaid — all of them under arrest — being part
of the core group. “We are examining why Iftekhar wanted to form a separate
group,” an NIA officer said.
said raids were conducted at Rampur, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Hapur, Amroha and
Ludhiana Thursday and several suspects were questioned. Some of these suspects
are being brought to Delhi, sources said. During the searches, NIA seized mobile
phones, laptops and “incriminating literature”, sources said.
has so far arrested 12 people in the case. The last arrest was made on January
12, when one Mohammed Absar Ahmed was nabbed from Meerut. A theology teacher at
Jamia Husania Abul Hassan in Hapur, Absar was a close friend of Iftekhar and
had travelled with him to Kashmir thrice to procure weapons and meet militants,
according to NIA.
interrogation revealed that Iftekhar wanted to start a new group and it was in
this connection that they had gone to Kashmir and met a Maulvi in Tral. The
Maulvi helped them meet another person for contacts with militants who Iftekhar
wanted to meet for training of his men. All these people have been questioned.
It is from here that the clue about Ludhiana Maulvi being part of the group
came,” an NIA officer said.
NIA team comprising about 50 members and personnel of Crime Investigation
Agency of Ludhiana Police raided the Madani Jama Masjid on Rahon Road and
detained the Maulana, a native of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. Sources said the
Maulana had come to Ludhiana from Uttar Pradesh four months ago.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference president Farooq
Abdullah on Thursday said that talks between India and Pakistan were imperative
party workers at a function in Sher-i-Kashmir Bhawan, the NC chief recalled the
words of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that one can change
friends, but not the neighbours.
his public address at Tangdhar along the Line of Control in Kashmir’s Kupwara
district, Vajpayee had said that both India and Pakistan will progress together
if they remain friends, otherwise both will have to suffer, the NC leader
situation is the same today, he said, apparently referring to continued
incidents of ceasefire violation along the border.
asked Pakistan to improve its relations with India in better interests of its
people. Today, it is visiting Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE with a begging bowl
so as to arrange funds for running the country, he said, adding that countries
are, however, not run like this.
what may, today neither we can take that part of Kashmir, nor it cannot wrest
Kashmir from us,’’ he said, adding that “we have to find a way out’’. “It is
possible if they (Pakistan) stop aiding and abetting militancy,’’ he pointed
out, adding that “our problems will come to an end if we come closer to each
NC leader slammed BJP government at the Centre for making false promises to the
people. Today, they have kept 10 per cent reservaion (economically weaker among
upper caste) without identifying the categories of people and their percentage
to be benefited out of it, he added.
have also been assuring Kashmiri Pandits of their return to the Valley. He
asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce during his February 3 visit to
Jammu as to when he would be taking them back home in the Valley.
NC leader also alleged attempts being made in Jammu to spread hatred between
communities. They talk of separating Jammu, he said, without naming BJP or the
Sangh Parivar and dared them to do so pointing out that it was their government
least four Pakistani soldiers were killed between Tuesday and Thursday after
the Indian Army launched a strong retaliation to ceasefire violations that mark
the most significant escalation of tensions along the Line of Control in Jammu
and Kashmir this year.
action comes less than a week after an Indian Army officer and a soldier
patrolling the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir were killed in targeted
explosions, and a Border Security Force (BSF) assistant commandant was shot
dead by Pakistani snipers on the International Border in Jammu.
least four regular soldiers of the Pakistan Army were killed in the last 48
hours when the Indian Army retaliated along the LoC,” said a senior officer of
the Indian Army, who asked not to be named.
second official, posted with BSF, too, said the Indian retaliation had led to
deaths on the other side, but put the number at five.
casualties [on the Pakistan side] were mainly in the Rajouri sector and we have
been able to confirm it,” the first officer added.
in the day, Northern Army commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said Indian forces were
“giving a befitting reply to every single ceasefire violation by the
neighbouring country”. The officer did not confirm or deny when asked if the
retaliation had led to deaths on the Pakistani side.
Gen Singh added that “2018 has been a great year for security forces, more than
250 terrorists were killed, 54 were caught alive, and four surrendered before
the security forces”, ostensibly referring to actions in the Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah criticised the statement.
beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join
militancy, no terrorists would be killed and no security personnel would lose
their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists
shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” he wrote on Twitter.
said Pakistan’s ceasefire violations continued on Thursday and a civilian was
injured by mortar shelling along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri
Pakistani side was reported to have engaged in heavy firing in Jhangar, Laam,
Pukherni and Peer Badeswar areas of Rajouri district.
2,936, the year 2018 recorded the highest number of ceasefire violations by
Pakistan troops in the past 15 years along the Indo-Pakistan border, according
to official data.
Pakistani transgender activist brought the rights of fellow transgender people in
the country to a court in Lahore on Wednesday seeking police enforcement of
laws against beating and torturing transgender people, a regular occurrence in
the Islamic country.
constitution establishes the country as explicitly Islamic; its preamble begins
with the words “in the name of Allah, the most Beneficient, the most Merciful.”
Congress cannot enact laws that run afoul of Sharia, the Islamic legal code.
nonetheless passed laws protecting transgender people from harm, the Transgender
Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, in May, allowing citizens to legally choose
their gender, run for office despite identifying as transgender, and remain
free of discrimination or violence. Transgender people also enjoy a higher
profile in public life in the country. In December, Lahore hosted its first
Trans Pride Parade.
legally recognizes three genders: male, female, and khawaja sira, an ancient
third gender believed to possess magical powers. Khawaja sira have complained
that the transgender movement is detracting from their struggles and represents
a modern, intrusive cultural phenomenon. Despite being seen as magical, many
khawaja sira are ostracized and suffer ridicule and discrimination.
government is notoriously weak in the face of Islamic radicals in the country,
however, routinely failing to enforce its own laws protecting Christians and
other religious minorities in addition to transgender people and women
generally. Transgender people frequently suffer extreme attacks – from beatings
to being burned alive – with little police action.
Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported Thursday that a transgender activist, Hina
Shahzadi, has appealed to the local sessions court in Lahore calling for police
to enforce anti-violence laws against the community.
contended that trans people are teased and subjected to torture without any
reason. She alleged that a prime suspect, along with others, subjected trans
people to sexual harassment and torture,” the newspaper noted, adding that
among the “teasing” were routine death threats from locals who disapproved of
their identities. Shahzahi received support from a transgender support group
that “staged a silent protest” that day, Dawn added.
law is explicit about punishing homosexuality, but gender identity is murkier
territory, thus the existence of the Transgender Persons Act. Pakistanis can go
to prison for “acts of sodomy;” sharia demands a death sentence for
homosexuality. Similarly, Pakistani law requires prison sentences for most acts
of “blasphemy,” save for insulting Muhammad personally, which carries a death
contrast, the law allows transgender people to legally marry, so long as they
marry a member of the other biological sex. Notably, intersex people, who are
not born physically possessing distinct male or female genitalia, cannot marry
because they are considered neither men nor women.
law notwithstanding, violence against transgender people is common in the
country. In one particularly gruesome case in 2017, a man set a transgender
person on fire after extorting the individual, who refused to pay the money
demanded. Police did nothing to stop the attack. Similarly, crimes like gang
rape of transgender individuals often go unpunished, and those transgender
individuals who, disowned by family, end up working as dancers or sex workers
are often killed with little retribution when they run out of money and their
services stop being seen as lucrative to exploiters.
fate of transgender people is akin to the suffering of religious minorities,
particularly Christians, who routinely face mob attacks and lynching when
falsely accused of “blasphemy” by Muslim neighbors. The government typically
does not arrest those involved in killing Christians for fear of offending the
Islamic supremacist factions in the country.
appeasement of extremist groups by successive Pakistani governments has led to
a climate of fear for religious minorities and for those who question the use
of the blasphemy law,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in
a report on the country by the NGO published Thursday.
the most egregious recent case of the Pakistani government allowing Islamic
radicals to threaten and attack Christians, authorities throughout the country
failed to stop violent riots in November protesting the acquittal of Asia Bibi,
a Christian woman sentenced to death on false charges of blasphemy. Muslim men
burned cars, attacked businesses, formed checkpoints to target and beat
Christians in their neighborhoods, and forced the shutdown of much of the
activity in major cities like Islamabad and Lahore. To stop the riots, the
Pakistani government placed Bibi on a no-fly list, despite her status of no
longer being charged with a crime. Bibi remains hidden in an undisclosed
location to prevent a Muslim mob from killing her.
India has no role in Afghanistan, the Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said
Thursday, asserting that Islamabad played a key role in arranging direct talks
between the Taliban and the US to find a peaceful solution to the longstanding
at the weekly briefing, Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan always maintained that
the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan
owned peace process.
pursuance of that (policy), we have facilitated direct talks between the US and
the Taliban," he said.
said Pakistan was convinced that an intra-Afghan dialogue will lead to peace
and stability in the war-torn country.
our view, intra-Afghan dialogue is crucial for success and sustainability of
peace process in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to support and facilitate
Afghan peace process in good faith and as part of a shared
responsibility," he said.
to a question on India's role in the country, Faisal said "India has no
role in Afghanistan".
remarks contradict Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's earlier
statement in which he acknowledged that India had stakes in Afghanistan and its
cooperation was necessary for the peace process.
meetings have taken place (among key stakeholders) for establishment of peace
in Afghanistan. India also has stakes in Afghanistan and its cooperation will
also be needed," Qureshi said last month.
has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in
Afghanistan and has committed aid worth USD 3 billion to the war-ravaged
said Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Qatar on an official invitation on
January 21 and will meet the Amir and Prime Minister of Qatar.
of mutual interest will be discussed during the visit. The Prime Minister will
discuss the import of manpower by Qatar from Pakistan," he said.
said President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espionosa will visit
Pakistan from January 18 to 22, which is her first to any country in the
Asia-Pacific region after her election.
her visit, Espionosa will call on the President and the Prime Minister. The
foreign minister will also hold a meeting with the visiting dignitary, he said.
Pakistan on Thursday affirmed its continued support for the Afghan peace and
reconciliation process as it stepped up efforts for salvaging the stalled talks
between the United States and Taliban.
assurance was extended by the country’s highest political and military offices
against the backdrop of breakdown in the US contacts with the Taliban, which
were being facilitated by Pakistan, due to the militant group’s persistent
refusal to engage with the Afghan government.
Minister Imran Khan, in a telephonic conversation with Afghan President Ashraf
Ghani, reassured the latter that Pakistan was making “sincere efforts” for a
politically negotiated settlement of the Afghan war.
Prime Minister Office in a statement said that President Ghani had called PM
Khan to discuss recent developments relating to the reconciliation process and
thanked him for “Pakistan’s sincere facilitation”. The two leaders agreed “to
remain engaged and create an environment for resolving all outstanding issues”,
it further said.
had last month facilitated a meeting between the US and Taliban to pave the way
for an intra-Afghan dialogue. The meeting was also attended by representatives
of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Despite the Abu Dhabi meeting,
which was said to have ended on a positive note, the Taliban have continued to
refuse to talk to the Afghan government. Their refusal has now become a major
roadblock for the continuation of the engagement.
Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal in his media briefing recalled that direct
talks between the US and Taliban were facilitated by Pakistan in pursuance of
its long-held position that the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in
an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. “Intra-Afghan dialogue is crucial
for success and sustainability of peace process in Afghanistan,” he emphasised.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa told US Special Envoy for Afghan
Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad during a meeting at the General Headquarters
that Pakistan would continue “efforts for bringing peace and stability in the
Khalilzad, who was initially scheduled to visit Islamabad on Tuesday, was
accompanied at the meeting by Commander Resolute Support Mission Gen Austin
Scott Miller, senior US presidential aide Lisa Curtis and other officials.
US special envoy and his delegation earlier held talks with Foreign Secretary
Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office.
Janjua reiterated that Pakistan was facilitating the process for peace and
stability in the region. She underlined that taking the Afghan peace process
forward was a shared responsibility.
sides agreed that ultimately the intra-Afghan dialogue would be vital to agree
upon the contours of a future Afghan polity where Afghanistan becomes a stable
and prosperous country and at peace with its neighbours,” an FO statement said.
Khalilzad had on completion of his meetings in Kabul on Wednesday adopted a
tough tone on the lingering stalemate in the process, suggesting that the US
was ready for both fighting and talking. Talking to journalists in Kabul, he
stressed that the Taliban should negotiate with the Afghan government. “If
Taliban want to talk, we can talk. If they want to fight, we can fight,” he
a tweet, he later said that it was agreed in his meetings with Afghan leaders
that “military pressure is essential while we prepare to engage in negotiations
while quoting unnamed sources, reported that Pakistani authorities were making
efforts to arrange a meeting between Ambassador Khalilzad and Taliban representatives
to break the logjam. The VoA report said Pakistani officials appeared confident
about bringing the two sides to the table.
The Supreme Court on Thursday accorded approval to a freshly proposed
presidential order enshrining framework for governance of Gilgit-Baltistan,
directing immediate promulgation of the order.
a landmark judgement announced in the open court, the SC asked the president to
promulgate the order on the advice of the federal government in any case within
amendment shall be made to the Order as so promulgated except in terms of the
procedure provided in Article 124 of the same, nor shall it be repealed or
substituted, without the instrument amending, repealing or substituting (as the
case may be) the same being placed before this Court by the Federation through
an application that will be treated as a petition under Article 184(3) of the
Constitution. Nothing in this judgement shall be construed to limit the
jurisdiction conferred on this Court by the Proposed Order itself; and Const.P.
No.50/2018 etc. -: 29 :- iii. If the Order so promulgated is repealed or
substituted by an Act of Parliament the validity thereof, if challenged, shall
be examined on the touchstone of the Constitution,” reads the order.
seven-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had on Jan 7
reserved its judgement on a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan
Order, 2018 and the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order,
2009, besides raising several issues linked with governance in GB and powers of
courts in the region.
federal government had constituted a committee, shepherded by the attorney
general, to review the entire matter and place before the apex court the draft
of a fresh order for the governance of GB.
our view, that draft, as modified …… does provide a suitable framework in the
hue of constitutional nature for the governance of GB,” the verdict says.
order, while dealing with the question of jurisdiction, points out that Article
187 of the Constitution confers a special jurisdiction on the apex court.
the text of Article 184(3) supra indicates”, this court can give “such
directions to any person or authority including any Government… as may be
appropriate for the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights conferred by
Chapter 1 of Part II” of the Constitution. It is now well settled that this
constitutional power, within the scope of the grant, is not just plenary; it is
also dynamic and flexible.
these provisions in mind, and the special nature of the issue before us — the
settling of a framework, of a constitutional nature, for the governance of GB —
we are of the view that our jurisdiction extends to the giving of suitable
directions to the Federation, both to promulgate the Proposed Order and also
for ensuring its continuity. It is only in this way that fundamental rights can
be granted to the people of GB in the meaningful and realistic manner envisaged
by this Court in the case of Al-Jehad Trust”, reads the judgement.
order also says it was a matter of some concern that although the apex court
had articulated the basic position with regard to the status and rights of the
people of GB in Al-Jehad Trust case two decades ago, the actual realisation by
the executive of that expression has remained fitful at best.
is not acceptable. This Court has not hesitated in the past to give legal
recognition to the aspirations of people who have unhesitatingly,
enthusiastically (and, if we may put it like that, joyously) cast their lot
with Pakistan right from the beginning. We do not hesitate now to take the
matter further. Therefore, we do not just provide judicial imprimatur to the
proposed framework: we also give it permanence, so that the people of GB have
unassailable confidence that their rights, and the enjoyment thereof, is not
subject to the whims and caprice of every passing majority, but are firmly
grounded in the Constitution itself. And let it be clearly understood: we will
not hesitate in future, should the need and occasion arise, to take, within our
constitutional mandate, all such steps as may be required, it reads.
The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed a deputy inspector general of police
to provide details of 18 missing children to the Federal Investigation Agency
to check their travel history.
two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, who was
hearing a petition about missing children, also directed DIG CIA Amin Yusufzai
and assistant director of FIA anti-human trafficking cell Abdul Hameed Bhutto
to come up with progress reports on Feb 21.
bench also asked the DIG to specify in the progress report the steps taken to
recover each individual missing child and the locations from where the children
the bench had summoned the provincial chief of FIA after a question raised
about the possibility of using these children in human trafficking. On
Thursday, director FIA Sindh Munir Ahmed Shaikh appeared and informed the bench
that Mr Bhutto had been tasked with investigating the issue of the missing
DIG CIA, who is heading a committee to make efforts for recovery of the missing
children, through a progress report submitted that a meeting was held with the
FIA officials and they sought details of Form-B of the missing children in
order to find if they were taken out of the country.
report further contended that the DIG directed the SSP AVCC to make efforts to
compile a list of missing children, including Form-B, adding that the
investigating officers had also visited the interior part of Sindh and
Balochistan to locate the children. The DIG contended that he provided the
required details to the FIA.
the bench directed the DIG to provide complete details of Form-B of the 18
missing children to the FIA for check their travel history.
the directive of the SHC, the police had registered 23 FIRs regarding missing
children at various city police stations. Later, five of them returned home.
bench of the SHC on Thursday directed the secretaries of the health and works
departments to appear on Friday (today) after the Pakistan Medical and Dental
Council (PMDC) highlighted some deficiencies in the under-construction Shaheed
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College and Lyari General Hospital.
and visiting US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday agreed that
ultimately the intra-Afghan dialogue would be vital to agree upon the contours
of a future Afghan polity where Afghanistan becomes a stable and prosperous
country and at peace with its neighbours.
Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
held a delegation-level meeting with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua to
discuss developments in the Afghan reconciliation process. He was accompanied
by an interagency delegation representing departments of defence, state and the
National Security Council. The foreign secretary was assisted by senior
officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs And Defence.
was noted during the meeting that taking the Afghan peace process forward
remained a shared responsibility. Ambassador Khalilzad briefed the Pakistan
side on his recent engagements in the region. He lauded Pakistan’s efforts in
facilitating direct talks between Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi last month.
The foreign secretary reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to facilitate Afghan
reconciliation process to realize the shared goal of peace and stability in the
is Ambassador Khalilzad’s fifth trip to the region. He is set to call on
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday (today).
a delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad and including US Commander for Afghanistan
General Austin Scott Miller met Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa
at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, according to a statement issued by
the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
pertaining to regional security and the Afghan peace and reconciliation process
were discussed between the two sides. The US delegation appreciated Pakistan’s
efforts towards the peace process, said the military’s media wing.
Bajwa reiterated the importance Pakistan gives to peace in Afghanistan and
provided assurances that efforts to bring peace and stability in the region
will continue on the part of Pakistan.
Arabia Pumps Money Into Restive Shi'ite Quarter It Once Flattened
Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - The old quarter of Awamiya, a town on Saudi Arabia's
oil-producing eastern shore that was once the center of Shi'ite protests, was
leveled in 2017 following a security campaign against gunmen the authorities
accuse of having links to Iran.
district's maze of mud brick homes and narrow alleyways, which militants used
for years to launch surprise attacks against police, have now been replaced by
a shopping complex, events hall and expansive plazas dotted with palm trees.
Riyadh government, supportive of a puritanical strain of Sunni Islam that
considers Shi'ite Muslims heretics, hopes investing in the broader area of
Qatif after decades of alleged neglect will finally snuff out the violence.
efforts are a test for the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who
has struck a conciliatory tone toward the kingdom's Shi'ite minority while
confronting arch-rival Iran in a decades-long struggle for influence across the
have long complained of discrimination they say keeps them from senior
government jobs, reduces state investment in their areas and leads to closures
of centers of worship.
forces have repeatedly quashed mass protests in Qatif, starting with a 1979
uprising inspired by the Iranian revolution of the same year. At the time,
another district in Awamiya was destroyed and turned into a parking lot.
2011, Arab Spring uprisings in other Arab countries sparked more fighting,
drawing Qatif deeper into Saudi Arabia's regional contest with Iran and
ultimately leading to the demolition of a district in Awamiya known as
government has spent more than $60 million to rebuild the 18-hectare (45-acre)
al-Musawara and another $230 million to compensate residents for hundreds of
razed homes. More money is being pumped in to rehabilitate schools, hospitals
and malls as well as beaches, a fish market, and an old fort.
Mohammed, known as MbS, won Western plaudits for social and economic reforms
that include committing the country to a more moderate form of Islam than the
semi-official Wahhabi school, which has often been criticized as the ideology
of radical Islamists worldwide.
the reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent and a purge of top
princes and businessmen on corruption charges. The murder of journalist Jamal
Khashoggi at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate last October has further raised
doubts about whether MbS is serious about real change.
decades of repression, any attempt to improve sectarian relations will take
time. And it is likely to face suspicion from Shi'ites, say Western diplomats
the government is going after people like Khashoggi and the business elite in
that harsh way, then just imagine how they would go after some Shia who makes
trouble," said Toby Matthiesen, a research fellow of Islamic and Middle
Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge.
becoming defense minister in 2015, the crown prince has taken a more assertive
stance against Tehran, launching a war against Yemen's Iranian-aligned Houthis
and cutting ties with Qatar in part over accusations it is cozying up to Iran.
has tried to distance that from domestic unrest, telling an American magazine
last year that Riyadh's problem was with the ideology of the Iranian regime,
not Shi'ites. But critics say the government's heavy-handed tactics have not
human rights activists from Qatif, including a woman, are facing the death
penalty in a trial condemned by rights groups and the United Nations.
military vehicle sitting at the edge of al-Musawara, now rebranded Wasat
(Central) Awamiya, is a reminder of street battles that left buildings
pockmarked with bullet holes.
day before Reuters visited the quarter on a government media tour last week,
six people were killed in a security operation in another part of Qatif,
raising concerns that militants quashed in one area will pop up in others.
Jubeir, mayor of Eastern Province, said he is confident that residents will
embrace the government initiative.
expect it will have the magical effect of changing the area from a shelter for
terrorists into a beacon of civilization," Jubeir said, voicing hope that
all traces of violence would disappear "very soon".
project manager said designers consulted with locals to faithfully replicate
historical architecture amid concerns over the demolition of centuries-old
buildings in a region where heritage is rarely preserved.
are the covered passageways too tight for vehicles to pass, replaced by more
than 5.5 hectares of green spaces.
the scholar who has written a book about sectarianism in the Gulf, said even if
residents are unsatisfied they are unlikely to resist amid growing repression.
doesn't mean that it's somehow going well or that it's a new approach to the
Shi'a. There's just a general sense of frustration and fatigue," he said.
Pope Francis visits Abu Dhabi Feb. 3-5, he will visit a land where
interreligious tolerance is mandated by law; while Catholics in the United Arab
Emirates count their blessings for that, the pope is expected to nudge for
is praiseworthy, and Catholics in the Emirates do not take it for granted. But
for Pope Francis, the next step -- and often a big one -- is mutual knowledge,
respect and cooperation.
the pope said in Bangladesh in late 2017, "respect and shaping a culture
of encounter, dialogue and cooperation in the service of our human family"
requires "more than mere tolerance. It challenges us to reach out to
others in mutual trust and understanding, and so to build a unity that sees diversity
not as a threat, but as a potential source of enrichment and growth."
Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia cares for the almost 1 million Catholics
living in the Emirates, Oman and Yemen. The faithful belong to 16 parishes --
with Mass offered in a dozen languages in churches, chapels and meeting rooms,
the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates on the southeast edge
of the Arabian Peninsula, the ruling families have donated land for Catholic
and other Christian churches. But no bells call the faithful to prayer and no
crosses can be visible from the street.
is the state religion and the faith of almost all of its citizens. But citizens
account for less than 20 percent of the Emirates' population; most of the rest
are foreign workers from almost every country in the world and include
significant numbers of Catholics from India and the Philippines.
have experienced great benevolence from the leaders of the Emirates to be able
to worship in the churches that have been built on land generously donated by
them," said Bishop Paul Hinder, head of the apostolic vicariate.
"These gestures and the continuous efforts by the state to create an
environment of tolerance and harmony in the community are very encouraging."
Catholic parishes run busy Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults programs, but
only for foreigners. "Most of our RCIA candidates come from other
Christian denominations or did not have a life in faith at all. Some are
Hindu," said Marcus Khoury, who assists with the program at St. Joseph's
Cathedral in Abu Dhabi.
adults into the Catholic faith is "a delicate matter where we have to be
careful at all times," Khoury said. "We are not allowed to
proselytize among Muslims, and therefore have to make sure that our RCIA
candidates were not originally Muslim."
Khoury, who worked for a year in neighboring Saudi Arabia, where Christianity
can be practiced only in private homes, "Abu Dhabi is fortunately very
open and relaxed when it comes to practicing other religions."
works as in-house legal counsel specializing in construction and arbitration
law. Many Muslims, he said, know just by his name that he is Christian, or at
least from a Christian family. But "my Muslim co-workers rarely talk about
religion with me. To a certain extent it still is a touchy subject, as one may
risk being misunderstood as proselytizing and trying to convert Muslims when
talking to them about Christianity."
work and at school, Bishop Hinder said, Catholics interact with their Muslim
sisters and brothers and people of other faiths, so friendships are formed and
the visit of the pope, which will include "the first ever public Mass in
the country," will bring even more attention to the Catholic community,
the bishop said, so Catholics want "to put our best foot forward to shine
during this time."
Hamza is a Dubai-based professor and Islamic historian who has participated in
high-level Christian-Muslim dialogue programs. He told Catholic News Service,
"The lived reality of day-to-day interaction, co-existence and social
exchange -- economic, cultural or otherwise -- is itself a form of continuous
dialogue" and one that best describes "the state of Christian-Muslim
relations in the UAE."
and Muslims in the UAE do not need to discuss their scriptures to demonstrate
'dialogue,'" he said. "'Religion' cannot be singled out from what
anthropologists would call 'culture,'" and people's "values may be
anchored in and shaped by religious traditions, but they ultimately have life
and meaning only in communal exchange and in the everyday."
sign of how seriously the UAE takes tolerance, he said, is the appointment of a
Cabinet "minister of state for tolerance" and the proclamation by
Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed, the UAE president, of 2019 as the "Year of
addition to focusing on dialogue with his Muslim hosts, Pope Francis will
devote time to the international community of Catholics living in the Emirates.
Those Catholics include lawyers like Khoury and financiers, doctors, nurses,
teachers and tens of thousands of maids and construction workers.
many of the domestic and blue-collar workers, a job in the Emirates is a great
opportunity to work and send money home to their families. But policing their
working conditions has not been easy; the government continues to enact
protections, such as making it illegal for an employer to confiscate the
worker's passport, regulating the fees employers can withhold from paychecks,
mandating a maximum 12-hour work day for domestics and guaranteeing one day off
Catholic parishes are one of the few places in the Emirates where foreign
workers of all countries and categories come together.
the lawyer, said his French-language community at St. Joseph's includes people
from France, Belgium, Lebanon, Iraq, Cameroon and Egypt. It lets him
"break through the otherwise typical expat bubble in which
expatriates-foreigners largely stick to their own nationality and social class."
of the migrants are unmarried. Bishop Hinder said that through their
involvement in parish communities "they end up becoming each other's
support system for spiritual growth and in personal relations."
while the government has made strides in protecting workers, "there are
sometimes unfortunate situations where migrant workers find themselves in dire
straits if companies close down or salaries are not paid," the bishop
said. "All parishes have set up community-service initiatives to help in
this type of case," with volunteers providing legal assistance,
parishioners collecting food and clothing and sponsors coming forward to pay
for a stranded worker's plane ticket back home.
guests in a foreign land, Bishop Hinder said, Catholics know their actions
speak louder than words, and "living in peace and harmony becomes a
have told us that Mohammed bin Salman has detained his brother Bandar bin
Salman and sent to the place where his mother Fahda Al Hathleen has also been
kept under house arrest for a long time in the palace of Prince Sultan in
Abha," the Arabic-language al-Ahd al-Jadid wrote on its twitter page on
report was re-tweeted by Mujtahid, the well-known source and whistle-blower in
the Saudi royal family.
officials believe, based on several years of intelligence, that MbS took action
against his mother, because he was concerned that she opposed his plans for a
power grab that could divide the royal family and might use her influence with
the king to prevent it.
officials added that MbS has placed his mother under house arrest at least for
some time at a palace in Saudi Arabia, without the king's knowledge.
US intelligence assessment of the Crown Prince's actions against his mother,
which American officials said has long been concealed from both the King and
the public, is an example of MbS's willingness to remove any perceived
impediment to solidifying his position as Saudi Arabia's next king, the current
and former officials said.
added that the assessment of the dynamic between MbS and his mother, which has
not been previously reported, is based on a combination of human intelligence,
intercepts and information shared with the US from other countries.
US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive
nature of the intelligence, stressed that the 82-year-old King has at times
been told his third wife is out of the country receiving medical treatment.
They stated that the king has told people around him that he misses her and
apparently does not know her true location or status.
Aliwi told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news agency on Thursday that the
US is hatching a big plot in the Middle-East which will be centered in Iraq.
cautioned of the US attempts to paralyze Hashd al-Shaabi and annihilate it, and
said certain Arab states, specially Saudi Arabia, which cooperate with Israel
against Hashd al-Shaabi and the resistance forces will accompany Washington in
the execution of its plots.
also said that the US is attempting to legalize its presence in Iraq and
establish permanent bases in the country after blacklisting Hashd al-Shaabi and
the resistance forces.
relevant remarks on Wednesday, Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai
al-Youm newspaper, underlined that Washington's hostile stance towards Hashd
al-Shaabi and its quest for dismantling popular groups in the Arab state
derives from their opposition to the US forces' occupation of Iraq.
US administration in an unprecedented demand called on the Iraqi government on
Tuesday to dissolve 67 groups operating in the framework of the Iraqi popular
forces, while all these groups were welcomed by Washington when they were
fighting against the ISIL alongside the US forces. Then what has changed
now," Atwan wrote.
that Iraq's security and national identity is gradually reviving, he said that
Hashd al-Shaabi forces or their leaders have demanded withdrawal of all the
5,500 US military troops from Iraq and are opposed to the US use of military
bases in Iraq for possible attacks against Syria and Iran.
added that Hashd al-Shaabi is also hostile to Israel and is in clear solidarity
with Syria, which is another reason for the US enmity.
sources in Eastern Syria reported on Thursday that a bomb was detonated on the
way of an SDF vehicle in the village of al-Tawamiyeh near the town of
al-Basireh in Eastern Deir Ezzur, killing a senior commander of Deir Ezzur
military council namely Abu Ishaq al-Ahwaz.
also said that infightings between the Kurdish and Arab forces under the
command of the SDF have increased in Deir Ezzur.
local sources in Hasaka also reported that the Assayesh Kurdish security forces
in the town of al-Shadadi in Southern Hasaka have engaged in heavy internal
clashes, adding that at least 10 of them were killed and wounded.
to the sources, the clashes erupted after a member of Assayesh security forces
was killed in Tal al-Shadadi region.
reports from the region said on Wednesday that differences had intensified
between the militant groups backed by the US and civilians in Eastern Syria as
massive military operations by Turkish Army are imminent.
Syrian media activists reported that the SDF have arrested a large number of
people in areas under their control in Hasaka, Raqqa and Deir Ezzur provinces
with the aim of forced recruiting of conscripts.
activists said the SDF move has angered the local population, intensifying
unrests in the region. "In one of such cases, civilians torched an SDF
military base in the town of al-Qahtanieh in Northeastern Hasaka," they
Syrian army units in Northern Hama launched heavy artillery and missile attacks
on Jeish al-Izza terrorists in regions near the town of Hasraya who intended to
infiltrate into the army-controlled regions, destroying militants' strongholds
and killing and wounding several of them.
the army troops stationed in areas near the village of Zalin in Northern Hama
targeted terrorists' positions in the town of al-Latamineh in response to their
attacks, inflicting heavy damages and casualties on them.
Syrian army forces also repelled an offensive by Tahrir al-Sham from al-Katibeh
al-Mahjoureh region against military points in Eastern Idlib, killing and
wounding several militants.
the artillery units of the army targeted the positions and moves of terrorists
in Sakik, Sahal, al-Baraj, Mas'adah and Tal Khatarah in Southern and
Southeastern Idlib, destroying several of their military vehicles and equipment
and killing a number of terrorists.
a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army warded off continued
attacks of the terrorists on their military positions by pounding and
destroying militants' movements in Northern Hama and Southeastern Idlib.
Syrian Army's artillery and missile units pounded the movements and military
positions of Jeish al-Izza terrorists who were trying to penetrate into Syrian
Army positions in Northern Hama and Southeastern Idlib from al-Lahaya and
al-Latamanieh towns, destroying several military positions and inflicting heavy
losses and casualties on the militants.
Syrian Army's artillery units pounded militants' movements in the villages of
al-Zayareh, al-Zaka and Lahaya in Northern and Northwestern Hama, killing a
large number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment and weapons.
US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria destroyed a command center in a mosque
in the war-torn country on Thursday, officials said.
strike is another indication that ISIS has not been “defeated” in Syria, as
Trump claimed last month when he ordered the withdrawal of US forces from the
aircraft “destroyed an ISIS command and control facility in a mosque in
Safafiyah,” a coalition statement read.
continues to violate Law of Armed Conflict and misuse protected structures like
hospitals and mosques, which cause a facility to lose its protected status,”
the statement added.
holdouts in Syria are mainly in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.
Americans, including two US soldiers, were killed Wednesday in a suicide blast
claimed by ISIS in the northern city of Manbij.
Extremist militants on Thursday kidnapped a Christian man traveling in a taxi
in the turbulent north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to security
officials, an incident that raises the specter of renewed attacks on minority
Christians in the region after a two-year lull.
officials did not identify the man, but said police pursued the kidnappers into
the desert to which they fled after the incident, killing one of them and
wounding two others in a firefight, but could not free the hostage. Two
policemen were also wounded in the firefight, said the officials.
was no word on whether any of the other passengers traveling in the taxi, a
minibus, were harmed, suggesting that the kidnapping of the Christian man could
have been planned.
attack took place about 30 km west of El-Arish, northern Sinai’s largest city,
said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to brief the media.
spate of attacks on Christians in northern Sinai in late 2016 and early 2017
forced nearly 300 families to flee their homes there and find refuge elsewhere in
killed included a cleric, workers, a doctor and a merchant. The last Christian
to be killed in Sinai was in January 2018, when militants gunned him down as he
walked on the street in El-Arish.
militants, now led by Daesh, say they are punishing the Christians for their
support of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christians, whose ancient church is
the country’s predominant Christian denomination, is a close ally of El-Sisi,
who has made sectarian harmony a cornerstone of his domestic policy.
patronage of the community has given Christians a measure of protection but did
little to protect them from radicals, particularly in regions south of Cairo
where Christians are a sizable minority.
2016, Daesh militants have killed more than 100 Christians in attacks targeting
churches and buses carrying pilgrims to remote desert monasteries.
on Thursday, according to the officials, suspected militants sneaked into the
parking lot of the main hospital in the city of Rafah on the Sinai border with
the Gaza Strip and torched two vehicles before escaping.
incident was the latest in a recent spate of violent incidents in Rafah, most
of whose residents have been evicted and compensated over the past year to deny
the militants hiding places.
a year ago, the government threw into the battle against the Sinai militants
thousands of troops, heavy armor, helicopter gunships and jet fighters in a bid
to end the insurgency.
Palestinian Authority (PA) says US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled
proposal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will hit a “dead end” after an
Israeli TV report released what it called details of the so-called “deal of the
spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh stressed on Wednesday that any imitative short of
a sovereign Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 boundaries with the entire
East Jerusalem al Quds as its capital would fail.
and leaks about the deal of the century, as well as ongoing attempts to find
regional and international parties that would cooperate with this plan, are
failed attempts that will reach a dead end,” he said.
peace plan that does not include an independent Palestinian state - with all of
East Jerusalem as its capital - on the 1967 borders, is destined to fail,” he
a source who took part in a briefing in Washington on the so-called peace plan
by a senior American official, Israeli Channel 13 TV reported that the bid
provides for a Palestinian state in 85-90 percent of the West Bank, with the
capital in “most of the Arab neighborhoods” of East Jerusalem al-Quds.
plan also endorses the Israeli grip over parts of East Jerusalem al-Quds and
the Holy Basin, which includes the Old City and its adjacent territories,
according to the report.
the initiative stipulates various land swaps and Israel's annexation of major
the Israeli settlements, defined as isolated, would not be evacuated and
expanded, but “dried out.”
White House rejected the Channel 13 report as mere “speculations.”
in the past, speculations regarding the peace plan are inaccurate. We have no
further reaction,” it said in a statement.
in his remarks, Abu Rudeineh said that any proposal meant to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict should have "international legitimacy."
address for achieving a just and lasting peace is the Palestinian leadership,
which affirms that any proposals regarding the political process must be based
on international legitimacy and the principle of the two-state solution,” he
have already rejected Trump’s plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling it
“the slap of the century.”
month, eight European Union member states warned that Trump’s initiative would
not be successful if it fails to take into account internationally-agreed parameters
United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden – which are all
member states to the UN Security Council - as well as Belgium, Germany and
Italy said in a joint statement that the so-called Middle East peace plan
should support the Palestinian statehood and end the Israeli occupation.
occupied the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War
in 1967. It later annexed the Palestinian city in a move not recognized by the
lays claim to the whole city, but the Palestinians view its eastern sector as
the capital of their future sovereign state.
recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” in December 2017 and
moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city in May 2018,
sparking global condemnations.
CITY: Hamas said Thursday it had allocated new homes funded by Iran in Gaza to
former Palestinian prisoners who had been held in Israeli jails.
prisoners ministry said 26 apartments in a new building in southern Gaza had
been given out in a lottery between 125 former Palestinian prisoners.
from Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, said the program
was the first of its kind funded by Iran.
second building will be constructed in northern Gaza, the ministry said, adding
the project aimed to “reduce the suffering of our freed prisoners.”
has long been a strong backer of Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad, providing
them with funds, weapons and training.
has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.
properties of a Turkish Muslim foundation on the Greek island of Kos (İstanköy)
have been put up for sale under pressure by the Greek government. The Education
and Culture Association of Kos Muslims, another foundation, has condemned both
the sale and the donation, expressing its expectation that the decisions be
and Culture Association of Kos Muslims President Kadir Memiş condemned the move
and sent a letter to the board of the Charitable Muslim Foundations, asking
them to halt the sale.
his letter, Memiş said the board could find other resources in a bid to prevent
the sale of foundation properties. The board should apply to the Greek
government for tax exemption which has been the main reason behind the group
being left cash-strapped, he noted.
board of the administration for Charitable Muslim Foundations in Kos put a
34,000-square-meter land up for sale upon the instructions of Greek
authorities, Mustafa Kaymakçı, the chair of the İzmir-based Rhodes, Kos and
Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association, told Hürriyet Daily News.
same board members also decided to donate a 38,000-square-meter land for a
symbolic price for the construction of a hospital, upon the request of the
Greek government. The auction is slated for Jan. 31 and non-Greek citizens
cannot purchase these properties, he said.
decisions were imposed by the Greek authorities, Kaymakçı said, noting that
this move was just the latest of such pressure imposed by the Greek government
on Turkish Muslim foundation properties in Rhodes and Kos for many years.
Several real estates were “sold or donated by force since 1947 in order to erase
our identity,” Kaymakçı added. Last year, Turkish associations prevented the
destruction of the Sulaymaniyah Madrasah, but the property was later handed
over for a university compound, he said.
members of the board are appointed by the Greek administration and the Muslim
population has no say over the affairs of the charitable foundations, he
board members justify the sale to pay off the debts of the foundations, which
have been derived from the tax burden imposed on the Muslim foundations and for
astronomical personnel costs, according to Kaymakçı.
religious foundations in Greece are exempted from tax according to the Greek
constitution, Turkish foundations in Kos and Rhodes are subjected to 0.6
percent property tax.
said they believe there are 2,000 Muslim Turks living in Kos, while the number
is 7,000 in Rhodes. Greek authorities have shut down Turkish schools
unilaterally, leaving youngsters unable to learn Turkish, he noted.
February 13-14, the US will host a summit on the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland.
The aim of the conference will be to set the stage for an unnecessary conflict
with Iran," the anti-war activists wrote in a petition released on
of a summit to confront Iran, we need the world to pressure the United States
to reenter the Iran nuclear deal after Trump’s unilateral withdrawal and to
lift the devastating sanctions it has imposed on Iran. Sign our letter asking
EU countries to skip Pompeo’s belligerent conference in Warsaw next month and
instead host a gathering on Middle East peace with all Middle Eastern nations
including Iran," the petition already signed by over 3,000 activists said.
also addressed the EU in a letter which urges its members not to participate in
the Poland meeting against Iran.
Representatives of the European Union, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
recently announced that the United States and Poland will jointly host a
ministerial meeting on the Middle East in Warsaw on February 13-14. This
meeting aims to set the stage for an unnecessary conflict with Iran. We urge
you NOT to attend the meeting and instead host an alternative one with all
nations of the region, including Iran," it said.
Pompeo says the summit will bring together representatives from 70 countries
from Asia, Africa, the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the Middle East. While
the meeting will address issues of peace, stability, freedom and security, a
major part of the agenda is, according to Secretary Pompeo, to make sure that
Iran is not a destabilizing force. This meeting is part of the US campaign
against Iran that includes withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and
re-imposing sanctions that the US had lifted as part of the deal," the
major step forward for peace and security in the Middle East was precisely the
Iran nuclear agreement, which was negotiated by the US, Iran, France, the UK,
Germany, Russia and China, and was approved by the European Union and the UN
Security Council. The other signatories have remained in the agreement and have
been looking for ways to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. It is the Trump
administration’s withdrawal from the long-negotiated agreement and its
increased hostility towards Iran that have added to the instability of the
region and are threatening to unleash another devastating war in the Middle
East," it said.
that the US is fanning the flames of conflict, it said, "Since European
countries are still a party to the Iran nuclear agreement and want to improve
relations with Iran, it would not make sense for Europe to participate in a
conference hostile to Iran. Your non-participation would send a critical
message to other countries to follow your lead."
urge all nations to skip this conference and instead pressure the US
administration to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement. We urge you to host an
alternative gathering with all Middle Eastern nations, including Iran, to stop
terrorism and end wars, including the catastrophic war in Yemen," it
list below shows a number of signatories of the petition:
Benjamin, Co-Director, CODEPINK for Peace
German, Stop the War Coalition UK
Nineham, Stop the War Coalition UK
Kauff, Veterans for Peace
Hartsough, Director, Peaceworkers
El-Tayyab, Co-Director at Just Foreign Policy
Evans, Co-Director, CODEPINK for Peace
Fletcher Jr., former President of TransAmerica Forum
Wright, retired US Army Colonel
Vilkomerson, Executive Director, Jewish Voice for Peace
Slater, Coordinating Committee Member, World Beyond War
Zeese, co-director, Popular Resistance
Flowers, co-director, Popular Resistance
Carl Gerson, President, Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security
De Brabander, spokesperson, Vrede vzw, Belgium
Bennis, fellow, Institute for Policy Studies
Martin, President, Peace Action
Smith, co-founder and director, Environmentalists Against War
Cabasso, National Co-convener, United for Peace and Justice
Awad, President, Nonviolence International
Beer, Executive Director, Nonviolence International
Hallam, UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner, People for Nuclear Disarmament,
Abe, representative, Nuclear Free Ehime, Japan
Gagnon, coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in
Pelletti Clark, co-president, International Peace Bureau, Italy
Kresse, coordinator, International Peace Bureau, Germany
Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War
Valdez-Fabros, Vice President, International Peace Bureau, Philippines
Tahmasebi, Executive Director, FEMENA
Weisbrot, Executive Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Plitnick, researcher, Lobe Log
Scarry, professor, Harvard University
Shannon, committee member, American Friends Service Committee
Keshavarz, professor, University of Maryland
Barker, Peace Corps Iran Association
Solomon, former co-chair, United States Peace Council
Eisenberg, professor, Hofstra University
McLaughlin, interim chair, California Progressive Alliance
Sevre-Duszynska, media rep, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Izadi, professor, University of Tehran
Abdi, president, National Iranian American Council
Condon, president, Veterans for Peace
Ghiradi, communications director, The National Network Opposing the
Militarization of Youth
Farhi, professor, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Richard Mayson, New Zealand
Morrison, Jewish Voice for Peace
Suleiman, Palestinian Christians Acting for Peace
Moezzi Esq., author, attorney, activist
Rev. Fr. George Makhlouf, Chaplain - Spiritual Adviser, Palestinian Christians
Acting for Peace
G. Gottlieb, president, Peace Corps Iran Association
Catherine Alder, retired pastor and counselor, United Church of Christ
Yale, board member, Peace Corps Iran Association
Webb, chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, United Kingdom
Muedeking, mission elder, Albuquerque Mennonite Church
Wirl, co-chair, No to War-No to NATO, Germany
L. Marder, president, US Peace Council
number of signatories of the conference is increasing every moment.
told Fox News earlier this month that Washington would jointly host a global
summit focused on Iran and the Middle East next month in Poland.
international gathering will take place in Warsaw from February 13 to 14, the
US State Department said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at the anti-Iran conference,
describing it as a “desperate circus” that will disgrace the participants.
to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last US
anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized. And Iran is
stronger than ever,” Zarif said in a Friday tweet.
also strongly criticized the Polish government for hosting the conference,
reminding Warsaw of thousands of Polish refugees saved by Iran during the
Second World War.
Govt. can't wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts
desperate anti-Iran circus,” he went on to say.
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani
underlined that the anti-Tehran conference indicated that the US sanctions
against Iran had yielded no results.
coalition sources said on Thursday that an intelligence operation by the
coalition led to the killing of former Yemeni air force commander, who defected
to the Houthi militias, Major General Ibrahim Ali al-Shami.
to the sources, al-Shami, who was responsible for several ballistic missile
attacks, was killed in Sanaa.
was number 19 on the Arab coalition’s most wanted list with a reward of $10
million for information that could lead to his capture.
the Houthis alleged that al-Shami died from a heart attack.
former major general in the Yemeni national army had facilitated the theft of
ballistic missiles on behalf of the Houthi militias.
high-ranking member of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has accused
the Tel Aviv regime of being behind most crises in the Middle East region.
Israeli occupation [regime] is the biggest problem in our region. It intervenes
in world's issues… [while] the Unites States and Europe help it to normalize
relations with some Arab countries, so that the regime is accepted
internationally and regionally in particular,” Hezbollah Deputy Secretary
General Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with Arabic-language al-Manar
added, “Israel is the main problem in the region as it is behind many existing
crises. This region will continue to suffer from successive and cumulative
crises as long as the Israeli occupation [regime] exists and acts in such an
aggressive manner under American supervision.”
must always bear in mind that Israel is a great danger; and that Arab and
Muslim countries should reach an understanding with each other and work out
appropriate means of cooperation. I am warning those countries seeking
normalization of ties with the Israeli enemy that your bids will destroy your
nations. Protect the independence of your countries against Israel rather than
facilitating such a scheme!” Qassem pointed out.
senior Hezbollah official then noted that the US has failed miserably in Syria,
describing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tour of the Middle East as an
attempt by the White House to raise the morale of its frustrated regional
then scoffed at the recent visit by US Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs David Hale to Beirut, stating that the solution to Lebanon’s government
formation deadlock is “domestic.”
knows very well that he is not in a position to dictate things on Lebanon and
its officials. He who does not see daily Israeli violations against Lebanon as
an aggression is not eligible to give advice about citizenship and Lebanon’s
future,” Qassem underlined.
high-ranking leader of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has accused
the West Bank-based Fatah movement of attempts to provoke the Israeli army to
launch a new military campaign against the impoverished Gaza Strip.
people are trying to force the Gaza Strip into a fresh battle with Israel by
launching rockets during this sensitive time,” Mahmoud al-Zahar said in an
exclusive interview with Arabic-language Palestine Today television network.
added, “Some of these people are linked to Israel and are commissioned to get
on with the task. These people are well-known to us. Fatah stands behind them.
We have talked with their field leaders about their dangerous acts. Sometimes,
they are arrested.”
Hamas leader noted that Gaza-based resistance movements are closely monitoring
Israel’s acts of aggression against the coastal enclave, stressing that they
would never wait too long to respond to such moves.
remarks came after Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum warned in a statement on
Sunday that the movement “will intensify the confrontation with Israel” in the
coastal sliver if the Israeli military launches new attacks against the
Israeli occupation [regime] bears the consequences of continuing to commit its
follies against peaceful protesters and deliberately killing them in cold blood
as well as bombing sites of resistance,” he stated.
Palestinian official further noted that the escalation of situation in Gaza and
"playing with fire" will never led to security for Israel and its
statement came after Israeli military aircraft carried out several airstrikes
against multiple locations across the besieged Gaza Strip late on Saturday.
Ma'an news agency reported that Israeli warplanes fired at least one missile
towards a military site belonging to Hamas east of Gaza City. Two other sites
were targeted in the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip and in the
city of Khan Yunis south of the enclave. The Israeli airstrikes caused fires to
erupt in several targeted sites; however, there were no reports of human
Israeli military frequently bombs the Gaza Strip, with civilians being the main
target of such attacks.
has also launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of
which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August
26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also
wounded in the war.
Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has
caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of
unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
least 34 people were killed on Thursday when armed men, believed to be on
motorcycles, raided two Touareg villages in eastern Mali, a governor said.
Governor Nanout Kotia said many more were injured in the attack and clashes
between rival tribes in the Western African nation resulted in the deaths of 40
people within the last month.
latest attack near the province of Menaka is only a continuation of ongoing
conflicts among hostile tribes.
than 200 people died in clashes between hunters and members of the largely
nomadic Touareg and Fula ethnic groups last year.
is one of the oldest and largest tribes in Africa whose roots are believed to
go back to Amazighs (Berbers) and Tariq ibn Ziyad, the conqueror of Andalusia,
and predominantly live in Libya, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
terror groups are also active in northern Mali, where French, Malian and UN
peacekeepers are conducting counterterrorism operations.
erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Touareg rebellion that
ultimately allowed al-Qaeda-linked militant groups to take over the northern
half of the country. In 2015, a peace deal was signed between the government
and some insurgent groups.
and community disputes continue to fuel tensions in northern Mali, thus
undermining the implementation of the peace agreement.
doctor and a child were killed in Sudan protests on Thursday, according to
Reuters citing Doctor's committee linked to opposition.
protesters clashed with Sudanese security forces in the capital Khartoum on
Thursday in the latest round of demonstrations against President Omar
al-Bashir’s rule that erupted a month ago.
also erupted in three other cities as part of a four-week long unrest that
poses the most persistent challenge to Bashir’s grip since he took power in a
coup in 1989.
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will embark upon the first-ever visit by an Israeli
premier to Chad in the coming days as the two countries move to renew
diplomatic ties, his office said Thursday.
trip to the Muslim-majority central African nation on Sunday comes after
Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno visited Israel in November.
prime minister's office had not yet provided further details on the trip,
though it was expected to be only a one-day visit.
media said it would be the first by a premier.
said during Deby's November visit that he intended to announce the resumption
of diplomatic ties during an upcoming trip to Chad.
two leaders at the time declined to comment on whether their talks have
included arms deals.
security sources say the country has acquired Israeli equipment to help battle
rebels in the country's north.
is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations
against Boko Haram and ISIS group.
recent years, Israel has held out the prospect of cooperation in fields ranging
from security to technology to agriculture, to improve ties on the African
relations between Israel and Chad, a country of some 15 million people, were
severed in 1972.
is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders.
A Canadian geologist kidnapped at a remote gold mine in northeast Burkina Faso
by suspected jihadists has been found dead, the ministry of security told AFP
body found with gunshot wounds late Wednesday is that of Kirk Woodman, “the
Canadian who was kidnapped the day before yesterday,” ministerial spokesman
Jean-Paul Badoum said.
a security official said the body of a “white man with gunshot wounds” had been
found in Siega in Soum province.
body “is being taken to Dori for identification,” the source said. Another
security source said the remains would then be flown by helicopter to
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said her country was “appalled and deeply
saddened” by the killing.
condemns those responsible for this terrible crime. We are working with the
government of Burkina Faso and other international partners to pursue those
responsible and bring them to justice,” she said.
is one of two Canadians who have gone missing in Burkina Faso, an impoverished
country in the front line of a jihadist rebellion in the Sahel.
was vice president of a Canadian company, Progress Minerals, which owns a gold
mine at Tiabangou, located in Yagha, a volatile province near the Niger and
was at the mine when the site came under attack from about 10 armed men,
Security Minister Clement Sawadogo said on Wednesday.
assailants “rounded up the staff. They searched the base camp and made off with
some equipment. They took the expatriate with them,” he said.
had arrived in the country just on January 10, Sawadogo added.
mid-December, 34-year-old Canadian aid worker Edith Blais was reported missing
with an Italian friend, Lucas Tacchetto, 30, as they were travelling between
the western town of Bobo-Dioulasso and the capital Ouagadougou.
vast region on the southern rim of the Sahara is struggling with a bloody Islamist
insurgency and a wave of lawlessness.
chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, an Islamist insurgency gained ground in northern
Mali, Burkina’s neighbour, while Boko Haram rose in northern Nigeria.
raids began in northern Burkina Faso in 2015 before spreading to the east, near
the border with Togo and Benin.
of the attacks have been attributed to Ansarul Islam and the Group to Support
Islam and Muslims (JNIM).
groups are also active, with the overall number of fighters estimated to be in
the hundreds, according to security sources.
groups are believed to be responsible for more than 270 deaths since 2015.
Ouagadougou has been hit three times and almost 60 people have died there.
foreigners have been abducted in the last four years, according to an AFP
them is 84-year-old Australian doctor worker, Kenneth Elliott, who was
kidnapped with his wife Jocelyn in April 2015 in Djibo, where the pair ran a
clinic for the poor.
Elliott was released after a year. Her husband, whose whereabouts remain
unknown, has been declared a citizen of Burkina Faso, under a decree issued
police have fired tear gas at protesters marching towards the presidential
palace in the capital during a demonstration against the 29-year rule of
President Omar al-Bashir.
organizers had called for a march on the presidential palace in the capital
Khartoum on Thursday, along with simultaneous demonstrations in several other
said that hundreds of demonstrators gathered in central Khartoum and began
their march but riot police quickly confronted them with tear gas.
protesters held anti-government placards and chanted slogans such as
"Peace, justice, freedom" and "Revolution is the choice of the
also demanded the resignation of President al-Bashir, who took power in a coup
had reinforced security forces in the capital's key areas ahead of the planned
army vehicles mounted with machine guns were stationed outside the palace.
Security personnel, many in plainclothes, were stationed across the downtown
area of Khartoum and along the expected route of Thursday's march.
has been gripped by mass protests triggered by rising prices and shortages of
food and fuel since December 19. The public display of anger later escalated
into calls for Bashir to go.
Khartoum, authorities say 24 people have died in the protests, but human rights
group have put the death toll higher.
have been calls by human rights groups for authorities in Sudan to investigate
the use of lethal force by security forces against protesters.
week, UK-based rights group Amnesty International said that more than 40 people
had been killed and more than 1,000 arrested. The New York-based Human Rights
Watch (HRW) said the dead included children and medical staff.
rights chief decries use of 'excessive force'
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in a statement on
Thursday, strongly denounced Sudan's "repressive response" to
demonstrations, including the use of live ammunition against protesters.
am very concerned about reports of excessive use of force, including live
ammunition, by Sudanese State Security Forces during large-scale demonstrations
in various parts of the country since December 19," the statement read.
UN rights chief also called on Sudan's government to protect the protesters'
right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, regardless of their
political affiliations. She warned that “a repressive response can only worsen
government needs to ensure that security forces handle protests in line with
the country's international human rights obligations by facilitating and
protecting the right to peaceful assembly," Bachelet said.
called on the government to ensure the immediate release of all those who had
been arbitrarily detained. "I urge the authorities to work to resolve this
tense situation through dialogue, and call on all sides to refrain from the use
also urged the fact-finding committees created by the government and Sudan's
National Commission of Human Rights to conduct their investigations "in a
prompt, thorough and transparent manner, with a view to accountability."
she said her office remained ready to deploy a team to Sudan to help advise the
authorities on how to ensure they act in accordance with the country's
international human rights obligations.
UN rights office has also decried reports that security forces had followed
some protesters into the Omdurman Hospital and "fired tear gas and live
ammunition inside the premises of the hospital."
protests come as Sudan’s economy has stagnated for most of Bashir’s rule. He
has also failed to keep peace in the religiously and ethnically diverse
country, losing three-quarters of Sudan’s oil wealth when South Sudan seceded
in 2011 following a referendum.
tilting law against Syrian asylum-seekers
Austrian government is seemingly determined to make it easier to expel Syrian
Minister Herbert Kickl said Thursday that he believes a readmission agreement
with the Syrian regime will be very effective.
to Kronen daily, Kickl claimed an increase in the crime rate due to foreigners
has been seen in the past year and so the government is set to take emergency
on Austria’s widely-criticized asylum law that allows the deportation of
asylum-seekers whose requests are denied as well as those who have committed
major crimes, Kickl said that the readmission agreement with the Syrian regime
may take some time and the option to deport to a third country will be
considered in the meantime.
will keep asylum-seekers who are convicted or prone to violence at transit
zones such as airports where they will have only one option ahead, to go back
to their countries," said Kickl.
also recently told the media that his government is working to legislate
tougher asylum laws which won't forgive even petty crimes.
to the UN Refugee Convention, host countries can only deport migrants who have
been convicted of "a particularly serious crime" such as murder, rape
or armed robbery, but not lesser crimes.
holds protest, screens Islam-insulting movie in front of Utrecht mosque
of the far-right Islamophobic group Pegida staged an anti-Islam demonstration
in front of a mosque in the Netherlands late Wednesday.
demonstration was held outside the Abi Bakr Issidik Mosque, frequented by
members of the Moroccan community, in Utrecht, the central Netherlands.
the demonstration, members of Pegida made speeches and showed a movie insulting
security measures were taken around the mosque, including the installation of
high barricades, and extra police were dispatched to the area.
the Pegida demonstration, some local residents behind the barricades clashed
with security forces.
detained two people.
Houri, press secretary for the mosque, told Anadolu Agency that Pegida tries to
be deliberately provocative.
though the area they chose for the demonstration was provocative, the mosque
administration and community decided not to follow their provocation and
ignored them completely," Houri said.
Arabia will eventually face a “revolution” unless it decides to introduce
reforms and stop abusing people’s freedom of expression, a British lawmaker has
warned the kingdom.
Blunt, a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and chair of a parliamentary
panel on detained Saudi women activists, advised Riyadh leaders to realize that
a civil society was a necessity to save their monarchy system of government.
alternative to a consultative monarchy is an absolute monarchy and down that
route lies disaster and eventually revolution,” the MP wrote in an op-ed for
The Independent published on Thursday.
lawmaker (pictured below) leads a detention review panel (DRP) of British MPs
who have called on Riyadh to let them meet with women’s rights activists the
kingdom has arrested as part of its longstanding crackdown against proponents of
civil rights reforms.
hopes that his good ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other
royals help him get access to the women, who have allegedly been subjected to
torture and sexual assault in Dhahban Prison, where they are being held in
security officials detained over a dozen activists in May last year, shortly
before Riyadh decided to lift a years-long ban on women driving. Ironically,
many of the arrested activists played a key role in the campaign that led to
removing the ban.
crackdown on women activists has been widely seen as a message to other rights
advocates that reforms in the country always come from the top. It has also
been as an attempt by the Saudi monarchy to discourage similar campaigns on
Saudi authorities released some of the women without charge later on, at least
eight more along with a number of male supporters of the movement for basic
rights remain in custody.
International, Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have warned that at
least three of the women have been subjected to torture and sexual assault
while all have been denied access to lawyers.
Arabia has denied the “baseless” allegations.
am offering myself to the Saudi government to enable progress, and in today’s
crisis conditions, to help rescue its tarnished reputation for justice,” Blunt
European Union will reportedly impose sanctions on Syrian officials suspected
of orchestrating the regime’s chemical weapons attacks in a major widening of
the punishments handed out for violating the ban on the weapons.
ambassadors have also reportedly agreed to add five Syrian citizens to the
listing under the new chemical weapons sanctions’ regime. A separate report
said that 11 people would be added to the list for a range of human rights violations.
spokeswoman for the EU’s diplomatic service confirmed to The National that EU
ambassadors had agreed to submit to the Council the first listings for the new
sanctions regime to address the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.
ministers who meet in Brussels on Monday will also target four Russian military
intelligence officers accused of carrying out chemical weapons attacks,
including the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent in
Salisbury last year.
of the officers who will be sanctioned are the men British authorities believe
carried out the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, according to
Radio Free Europe citing unnamed EU diplomats.
two suspects, who claimed on Russian state television that their trip to
Salisbury on the day that the Skripals were poisoned was to see the cathedral,
have been named by investigators Bellingcat as Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly
Chepiga. Bellingcat said the pair worked for the GRU, Russia’s highly secretive
military intelligence unit.
is believed the sanctions will be adopted on Monday when EU foreign ministers
meet in Brussels for the EU foreign affairs council.
DC - American civil rights groups have condemned the appointment of a new
deputy national security advisor who served on the board of an anti-Muslim
group for nearly a decade.
President Donald Trump appointed Charles M Kupperman last week to assist
National Security Advisor John Bolton, saying in a press release that Kupperman
"brings to the role more than four decades of national security policy and
served on the board of directors for the Center for Security Policy (CSP)
between 2001 and 2010, according to tax records.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based hate monitor, designates
the CSP as an anti-Muslim hate group, pointing to the group's promotion of
conspiracy theories claiming that Muslims have infiltrated the US government
and seek to establish Islamic law in the country.
Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on the Trump
administration to revoke Kupperman's appointment.
again this is an example of Trump elevating foxes into the hen house, where
Islamophobes are well placed to direct our nation's national security
priorities," Robert McCaw, director of CAIR's government affairs
department, told Al Jazeera.
argued that Kupperman's appointment "should absolutely be rescinded"
and that he "has no place in the US government".
the White House press release, John Bolton was quoted as saying that Kupperman
"has been an advisor to me for more than 30 years, including during my
tenure as National Security Advisor to President Trump".
extensive expertise in defence, arms control and aerospace will help further
President Trump's national security agenda."
has held senior positions in defence contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing,
and served in the administration of former President Ronald Reagan in the
his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called for a "complete and total
shutdown" of Muslims entering the US.
coming to office in January 2017, he has issued a slew of executive orders,
some of which have been challenged in courts, seeking to bar entry for travellers
from several Muslim-majority countries.
October, during the midterm elections, the Muslim Advocates group released a
report documenting 80 instances of political candidates using "clear
anti-Muslim" rhetoric in 2017 and 2018.
the time of publication, the White House had not replied to Al Jazeera's
request for a comment.
in 1988, the Washington, DC-based Center for Security Policy is headed by Frank
Gaffney Jr, and has promoted the false claim that the Muslim Brotherhood has
infiltrated the US government and American society at large.
who also served in the Reagan administration, has falsely claimed that former
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, said
former President Barack Obama was a covert Muslim, and claimed Hillary Clinton
adviser Huma Abedin was a Muslim Brotherhood operative.
2011, Gaffney called on Congress to create an updated version of the House
Un-American Activities Committee, which was established in 1938 to seek out
Americans with communist ties or sympathies. In his version, however, the
committee would root out Muslims supposedly seeking to undermine US
to the SPLC, Kupperman is one of several people with ties to the CSP to join
the Trump administration.
include Kellyanne Conway, whose firm produced a dubious poll for the CSP. It
claimed that more than half of American Muslims advocate replacing US law with
who appointed Kupperman, also appeared on Gaffney's radio programme often, as
did US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the SPLC noted.
Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry, said that it is not "an
accident that people with clear connections to anti-Muslim hate groups are
being elevated in the Trump world".
fact, with John Bolton at the helm of National Security, such an eventuality
would be absolutely expected," he told Al Jazeera.
associations with Frank Gaffney are enough to disqualify him from any
government post, let alone one in which he is advising a man who is arguably in
the president's ear on a daily basis regarding matters of national
TV news presenter Marzieh Hashemi, who has been imprisoned by the FBI on
unspecified charges, is due to appear in a Washington, DC, court on Friday.
59-year-old US citizen, who is based in Iran, was detained as a “material
witness” to a criminal case and no charges were pressed against her, according
to Hossein Hashemi, her elder son.
US law defines a material witness as a person who is presumed to have
information about the subject matter of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution,
which is critical to the outcome of the case or trial.
Hashemi was taken into custody on Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri, where she had
filmed a Black Lives Matter documentary.
agents apprehended the Press TV journalist upon arrival at St Louis Lambert
International Airport, before she boarded a flight to Denver, her son said.
Nossel, CEO of the PEN America group promoting literature and free expression,
says she is concerned Hashemi might have been targeted for her documentary work
on the Black Lives Matter movement or for political reasons.
there are other grounds for Hashemi's detention they must be made clear,
otherwise she should be released immediately," Nossel added.
son had told Press TV that he and his siblings had also received subpoenas to
appear before a grand jury in DC.
Muslim convert who has been living in Iran for years, Hashemi had traveled to
the US to visit her ill brother and other family members.
told her daughter that she was handcuffed and shackled and was being treated
like a criminal.
journalist also said that she had her hijab forcibly removed, and was
photographed without her headscarf upon arrival at the prison.
US Army is in the process of acquiring two batteries of the Israeli-made Iron
Dome missile system, a new report suggests.
army would use the missile systems to protect US ground forces overseas against
unmanned air vehicles, mortars, rockets, artillery and cruise missiles, Inside
Defense reported Wednesday.
batteries will include 12 launchers, two sensors, two command centers and 240
interceptor missiles, the report said.
Pentagon is said to be rushing the deal due to its “urgency” and plans to
acquire the system’s Israeli-made radar as well because adjusting the system to
American radars means its deployment would face delays.
US military has already tested the system. In September 2017, Israel loaned the
US an Iron Dome battery, which was flown to the missile range in White Sands,
report suggested that Iron Dome was also significantly cheaper than similar
American missile systems.
example, a system based on the AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles cost the Pentagon around
$12 million for each launcher and $800,000 for each interceptor missile while
the Iron Dome would only cost $1.37 million for each launcher and$150,000 for
each interceptor missile.
US Army has been working with Israeli weapons maker Rafael to develop an
American version of the interceptor system since 2017.
order to integrate the missile system, the US military was going to invest
$289.7 million in the missile system in the current fiscal year and another
$83.8 million for the next fiscal year, Israeli media reported, citing US
total, the US Army would spend $1.6 billion for Iron Dome's full integration
until 2024, the report added.
effective is the system?
Iron Dome was originally developed to counter small rockets that Hamas and
other Palestinian resistance groups fired into Israeli occupied territories in
retaliation for the regime's crimes against Palestinians.
system has proven largely ineffective in serving that purpose, an issue that
became clear during the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza Strip.
military confrontation lasted only a day after Hamas fired hundreds of
domestically built missiles into Israel. Iron Dome’s failure to intercept much
of the missiles forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call for
truce, a move that prompted his war minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to resign.
U.S. Air Force has been training Saudi-led coalition personnel from the United
Arab Emirates for aerial combat in Yemen, Yahoo News reported late Wednesday,
citing newly obtained official documents.
spokesman and an official from U.S. Central Command told Yahoo News the
military did not "conduct exercises with members of the [coalition] to
prepare for combat operations in Yemen".
remarks were made last month by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, stressing that the U.S. is "not a participant in the
civil war in Yemen, nor are we supporting one side or the other".
the documents, which were obtained by Yahoo News through the Freedom of
Information Act, tell another story.
to one of the documents from U.S. Air Forces Central Command from December
2017, the U.S. “escorted 6 UAE F-16s to RED FLAG; assisted 150 airmen in
challenging exercise to prepare for combat ops in Yemen".
from the U.S. Air Force’s Air Warfare Center at al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu
Dhabi also helped advance the Gulf state's F-16 fighter jet program.
fighter personnel advanced the UAE’s F-16 fighter pilot training program; 3
pilots flew 243 instructor sorties/323 hrs that created 4 new instructors &
29 combat wingmen who immediately deployed for combat operations in
Yemen," the document said.
2015, a Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, launched a campaign into Yemen
after Houthi rebels overran much of the country and took over the capital,
Sanaa. With U.S. support, the coalition launched a devastating air campaign
aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
violence has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including its health and
sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of the
worst humanitarian disasters of modern times.
US personnel were killed in a suicide attack claimed by ISIS in the northern
Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday, the Pentagon has confirmed.
said, "two US service members, one Department of Defence (DoD) civilian
and one contractor supporting DoD were killed and three service members were
injured while conducting a local engagement in Manbij".
reports indicate an explosion caused the casualties, and the incident is under
investigation," it added.
is the largest death toll incurred by US forces in Syria since a global
coalition to fight ISIS was formed in 2014.
UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast also killed at
least five US-backed fighters as well as nine civilians.
Kurdish-run Hawar news agency said two US-backed local fighters and 13
civilians were killed in the attack.
– ISIS's media wing – claimed that the attacker used a suicide vest to strike
at coalition forces near a restaurant in the flashpoint Kurdish-held city.
is the first major attack that explicitly targets US forces since US President
Donald Trump announced last month that he would be withdrawing troops from the
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday said he did not believe the attack
would impact Mr Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria.
said the American president won’t halt the withdrawal because it would mean
American Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday maintained the view that ISIS
had been defeated, despite the attack on coalition forces.
caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated," he told a gathering of
US ambassadors in Washington, without referencing the attack that took place
only hours earlier.
also said that Washington was pressing ahead with plans to pull out its troops.
to the leadership of this commander-in-chief and the courage and sacrifice of
our coalition partners, we're now actually able to hand off the fight against
ISIS in Syria to our coalition partners and we are bringing our troops
home," he said.
US-backed Manbij Military Council, which is linked to the Kurdish People’s
Protection Units (YPG), has controlled Manbij since they seized the city from
ISIS in 2016.
US-led coalition conducts regular patrols inside Manbij and on the outskirts of
military police recently deployed to areas outside Manbij, where they are
conducting patrols in a zone adjacent to rebel-held territory in Aleppo
incident was not the first time that forces of the US-led coalition were
subjected to attacks in the area, although they have been rare.
bans film about 2016 Islamist cafe siege fatal to 22, cites damage to
- Bangladesh has banned a film based on a 2016 cafe attack claimed by the Islamic
State group that left 22 people dead, saying it would damage the country’s
Film Censor Board denied the theatrical release of “Shonibar Bikele,” a
decision the movie’s director criticised as “unhealthy for artistic expression.
title of the film translates to “Saturday Afternoon” and dramatises the July
2016 attack on an upmarket cafe by Islamist militants who killed 22 of their
hostages, including 18 foreigners.
state’s censor board said the film—- a Bangladesh-German co-production — could
incite religious fervour in the Muslim-majority nation of 165 million.
board did not sanction permission for the movie’s exhibition, both at home or
abroad, as it would disrupt internal security and also tarnish the country’s
global image,” the censor board’s vice chairman, Nizamul Kabir, told AFP on
has suffered from homegrown extremism for decades, but the Holey Artisan Cafe
attack was the worst in years and seen as a major blow to the country’s image
as a moderate Muslim nation.
government has always denied the five young men who seized the cafe for hours
before killing many hostages and dying themselves were linked to the Islamic
Mostofa Sarwar Farooki criticized the decision to ban his film.
should feel free to take inspiration from any incident that happens around
them,” the eminent Bangladeshi director said.
don’t tarnish an image. They only interpret events. It’s real world actions
that can damage an image,” he told AFP.
said they would appeal against the decision in the hope of gaining a theatrical
mastermind of the cafe attack was killed in a subsequent crackdown on homegrown
militancy that has left at least 100 alleged homegrown fighters dead.
National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib and Intelligence Chief Mohammad
Masoom Stanikzai met with the Ambassadors of five countries in Kabul.
Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) in a statement said NSA Mohib
and the Director of the National Directorate of Security Mohammad Masoom
Stanikzai met with the Ambassadors of China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan in Dilgosha Palace this morning.
statement further added that the meeting focused on joint fight against terrorism
and strengthening of regional cooperation.
Afghan side presented a report regarding the recent achievements in the fight
against terrorism particularly in suppressing the ISIS group in Afghanistan and
reiterated that Afghanistan is in the frontline of the fight against terrorism
and regional mobilization of coordination is needed in this regard, the
militants affiliated with the Taliban and ISIS Khurasan surrendered to the
Afghan forces in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said three
Taliban militants and a member of ISIS Khurasan surrendered to the Afghan
forces in Bati Kot district on Wednesday.
statement further added that the militants were previously involved in
destructive activities but the surrendered to Afghan forces after renouncing
antig-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the surrender of their militants so far.
hundred protesters have marched in three cities in southern and eastern
Afghanistan to call for a ceasefire and an end to the US-led war in the
Thursday marches took place in Kandahar, the southern cradle of the Taliban,
and in the eastern cities of Khost and Jalalabad.
participants held placards and chanted slogans such as "No War",
"We want ceasefire" and "We want Peace."
Watandost, a member of the People for Peace Movement, urged the Taliban to
respond to a truce offer proposed by the Afghan government last year.
want an absolute ceasefire as soon as possible. The government had agreed a
one-year ceasefire and the Taliban must accept their demand."
Farhad, a protester in Jalalabad, said that people of Afghanistan had been fed
up with the ongoing war and violence.
call on the Taliban to come to the peace talks with the Afghan government and
have mercy on the Afghan people. Our men, women, children and widows want
peace. We are tired of war."
recent months, the war-weary grassroots peace movement in Afghanistan has
organized a series of sit-ins and a hunger strike demanding that both the
government and the Taliban implement a ceasefire.
May 2018, the peace marches began when a handful of civilians traveled 700
kilometers from Lashkar Gah in the southern province of Helmand to end their
journey in the capital Kabul.
then, many others have been organized, including a wheelchair peace march by
amputees between the western city of Herat and Kabul.
developments come as the Kabul government has stepped up efforts to convince
the Taliban to end more than 17 years of militancy amid Washington’s failures
on the battleground.
US, too, has been holding talks with the Taliban. The US State Department's
special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, has said that he had held
"productive" meetings in Abu Dhabi with Afghan and international
partners "to promote intra-Afghan dialogue towards ending the
said the Taliban seek an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces, while
the US wants assurances from the militant group that its forces would not be
is currently in Pakistan on the last leg of his regional tour aimed at finding
a negotiated end to Washington's longest military engagement.
said in the Afghan capital Wednesday that he hoped for fresh talks with the
Taliban "very soon" after meetings with them in late 2018 in Doha and
talks are the latest in a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at putting an end
to the war in Afghanistan, which began with the US-led invasion in 2001.
President Donald Trump has ordered the start of withdrawing some 7,000 troops
from Afghanistan, about half of the total number of American boots on the
ground in the war-torn country.
2,000 Rohingya Muslims, who had fled to India from death and violence in
Myanmar, have reportedly left the South Asian country too, fearing continued
harassment there and possible deportation.
Arfaat, a Rohingya youth leader residing in Bangladesh, said on Thursday that
the Muslims had left India for Bangladesh over the past months.
renewed exodus started after an incident in October, which saw seven Rohingya
men being deported to Myanmar. Another family comprising five people were sent
back to Myanmar by India earlier in January.
families were preparing to make their way out of India, fearing a crackdown,
according to Arfaat and another leader of the Muslim community.
Rohingya, the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority, have been attacked and
driven out of their native Rakhine State in Myanmar in what the United Nations investigators as well as international rights
groups have denounced as “an ongoing genocide.”
estimates that 40,000 Rohingya Muslims live in camps across the country, mainly
in the city of Jammu in the north, the south-central city of Hyderabad, and the
capital New Delhi.
‘identification and murder’
Hindu nationalist government regards the Rohingya as illegal and a security
risk. It has ordered that tens of thousands of them be identified and
said, "We already faced so many problems in our country and we needed
freedom to live elsewhere. But, if like in Myanmar, you are fearful again, why
would you live there?"
even cited a call by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce & Industry for an
"identify and kill movement" against the Rohingya.
16,500 of Rohingya Muslims have identity cards issued by the UN refugee agency.
The UNHCR says the documents help "prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests,
detention and deportation."
Indian government, however, does not recognize the cards either and rejects a
UN position that deporting the Rohingya violates the principle of refoulement –
sending refugees back to a place where they would face danger.
violent military campaign in 2017 forced more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims
across the border to Bangladesh. The Muslims faced mass killings, rape and
arson in the Buddhist-majority country.
August, a UN report accused the Myanmar military of mass killings and rapes of
Rohingya with “genocidal intent” in 2017.
its final report released on August 27, 2018, a UN fact-finding mission on
Myanmar said the country’s army, led by Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min
Aung Hlaing, had carried out the “gravest crimes” against the Rohingya with
for private sector to allow Muslim staff to perform prayers
GAJAH: The Human Resources Ministry has released guidelines for private sector
employers which would allow Muslim staff members to spend at least 20 minutes
daily to perform their prayers.
guidelines, published by the Labour Department and Jabatan Kemajuan Islam
Malaysia (Jakim), also recommend that Muslim staff be given an hour-and-a-half
off for Friday prayers.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Mahfuz Omar (pic) said the guidelines were
produced after considering the views and opinions of muftis at a meeting of
initiative to produce the guidelines began in 2017 when the department received
complaints from workers who found it impossible to perform their prayers
because they weren't given time off.
we thought it best to take proper measures to restore harmony in the workplace
by publishing these guidelines so that employers would give their staff some
time off for them to perform their prayers," he said.
said this when launching the guidelines at the Camfill Malaysia Sdn Bhd plant
year, the department received about 4,468 complaints, 0.3% of which had to do
with Muslim workers not being given enough time to perform their prayers on a
said the guidelines were in line with Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution
which states that Islam is the official religion of the country and therefore
Muslims should be allowed to perform their prayers at the appropriate times.
said other than giving employees time off to pray, employers also must ensure
that clean prayer rooms, complete with prayer mats and a place for ablutions,
were available for men and women.
"kiblat" (the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays)
should also be clearly marked once identified by the state mufti.
also reminded workers not to abuse the time off, and use it for its intended
said the ministry plans to publish the guidelines for Muslim female staff
is aimed at clearing any confusion between employers and workers on the
appropriate dress code in any given field, especially in the private
sectors," he said.
- A Singaporean former religious teacher and student pair who held radical
beliefs promoting violence and views detrimental to Singapore's cohesion has
each been issued a Restriction Order (RO) under the Internal Security Act.
Mohd Said, 46, was placed on an RO on Dec 5 last year while his student,
56-year-old technician Razali Abas, was arrested in September last year and
placed on an RO in October.
was a freelance religious teacher until he was struck off from the Asatizah
Recognition Scheme (ARS) in May last year for his segregationist ideologies
that contravened the ARS Code of Ethics.
a statement on Wednesday (Jan 16), the Ministry of Home Affairs said Murad was
issued with an RO because he propagated beliefs promoting violence and views
detrimental to the cohesion of Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious
said he had taught his students that it was compulsory to kill apostates, who
he defined broadly as those who did not believe in Islam, Sufis, Shi'ites and
those who had renounced the religion.
had also taught them that Muslims were allowed to defend themselves by waging
"armed jihad" against "infidels who persecuted them".
also encouraged his students to withdraw from Singapore's secular society,
disregard secular laws and adhere to the rulings of Syariah law instead,"
ministry added that even after his ARS accreditation was cancelled by the
Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Murad continued to spread his
divisive views online.
binary 'us versus them' worldview and violent teachings, which he propagated to
his students and followers, could have led them to develop extremist views, as
well as lead to inter-and intra-faith tensions," said the MHA.
statements on the primacy of Syariah law over secular laws also undermines
Singapore's secular nation-state system."
Straits Times understands that Murad was the principal of Madrasah Al-Arabiah
Al-Islamiah (MAI) from 2004 to 2006.
was introduced to Murad's teachings in 2012 and attended his classes, said MHA.
"exclusivist religious teachings" in the lessons made Razali more
susceptible to other radical and violent influences that he later found on
time, Razali became convinced it was legitimate to kill those who he felt were
oppressors of Islam, including non-Muslims, said MHA.
added that he began to seek out people with "militant-looking"
profiles on Facebook, viewing them as heroes who made sacrifices that he could
not make himself.
said Razali was issued with an RO "to prevent him from continuing his
downward spiral into extremism".
person on an RO may not change his residence, employment or travel out of
Singapore without official approval. He also cannot issue public statements or
join organisations without approval.
usually continues to undergo rehabilitation, likecounselling, to steer him away
from radical ideology and extremism.
ministry also said, in an update, that the RO issued against Singaporean
Jauhari Abdullah was allowed to lapse on Sept 14 last year.
Israel condemned on Thursday Malaysia's ban on Israeli participation in
international sporting events it hosts and said the decision was inspired by
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's "rabid anti-Semitism".
a majority-Muslim country that does not maintain diplomatic relations with
Israel, announced it would bar Israelis from any event in the Southeast Asia
nation after banning Israeli athletes from the World Para Swimming
championships this coming July.
a statement, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called on the
International Paralympic Committee, which is organising the competition, to
change the venue if it cannot persuade Malaysia to lift the edict.
is shameful and totally opposes the Olympic spirit," the statement said.
"Israel condemns the decision, inspired no doubt by Malaysia PM Mahathir's
93, has for decades been accused of anti-Semitism for his attacks against Jews.
In a BBC interview in October, he described Jews as "hook-nosed" and
blamed them for the troubles in the Middle East.
from some 70 countries are expected to compete in the July 29-Aug. 4
championships in the eastern state of Sarawak. The event is an important
milestone towards next year's Tokyo Paralympics.
International Paralympic Committee said in a statement that it was
"bitterly disappointed at the stance of the Malaysian government" and
the IPC governing board would discuss the matter at a meeting in London next
in Malaysia and neighbouring Indonesia took to the streets last December to
protest against Washington's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's
capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967
Middle East war, as the capital of a state they seek to establish.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Wednesday that Malaysia would
continue to take a strong position on the plight of the Palestinians. "It
is about fighting on behalf of the oppressed," he said.
athletes have been banned in the past by countries that do not recognise
Israel. They have also competed at events in Arab countries without national
symbols, typically under the flag of the sports federation running the event.
LUMPUR, Jan 17 — Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs has used “scorched-earth tactics”
to smear its former top investment banker, Tim Leissner, in an attempt to
minimise its role in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.
paper New York Times (NYT) reported that Goldman executives and their lawyers
have, in their presentations to US regulators and law enforcement authorities,
painted Leissner as a “master con man” who was so sneaky that even retired
military intelligence officers working for the bank could not detect his
allegedly fraudulent behaviour.
a meeting with US federal prosecutors last November in Washington, Goldman
reportedly delivered a PowerPoint presentation that claimed Leissner may have
been married to two women briefly at the same time.
slide reportedly showed a photo of Leissner praying with other men as well as
images of a government-issued ID card which showed Leissner describing himself
as Muslim. Goldman officials reportedly used that slide to allege that Leissner
converted to Islam twice to impress rich Muslim women he was dating.
reported that the presentation also accused Leissner of having had sexual
relations with at least one Goldman client and of getting a mail-order
doctorate from a now-defunct university.
paper reported that Goldman was using the presentation to argue that the bank’s
compliance system should not be faulted for failing to discover Leissner’s
schemes, given his alleged slipperiness. The US investment bank reportedly
delivered similar hours-long presentations to bank regulators, besides the
is facing criminal charges filed by Malaysia that alleged US$2.7 billion (RM11
billion) was stolen from the proceeds of three bonds worth US$6.5 billion that
the bank had arranged for Malaysian state investment firm 1MDB.
pleaded guilty last year to US criminal charges of bribery and money laundering
in the 1MDB scandal. But the 48-year-old reportedly told a federal judge that
hiding his actions from Goldman’s compliance department was “very much in line”
with the bank’s wider culture, especially in Asia.
who was Goldman’s South-east Asia chairman, resigned from the bank in 2016
after allegedly breaking company rules.
current and former Goldman bankers told NYT that they knew of Leissner’s
hard-partying reputation and seduction of rich women, including several
executives at companies that were clients of the bank.
lot of the people that worked for me would tell me the stories about Tim being
a wild man,” Joe Ravitch, a former Goldman partner who helped hire Leissner,
was quoted saying.
Goldman official reportedly said the bank had investigated Leissner’s
relationship with a top female executive at a Malaysian media company, but no
action was taken.
Goldman reportedly said that in the fourth quarter last year, it set aside an
additional US$516 million to cover possible legal and regulatory penalties,
including 1MDB-related ones.
Incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was not shy to throw a few jabs in the
first presidential debate on Thursday, pushing his challenger, Prabowo Subianto,
to make some serious blunders as the candidates debated human rights, law and
Jokowi and Prabowo both refrained from going into the specifics of
long-unresolved human rights cases, which may directly implicate the latter and
several former generals currently among the president's ranks.
debates began calmly with candidates taking turns to answer prepared questions
– which were made known to them beforehand. Jokowi spent almost all the time
allocated for his opening statement to greet his opponents and members of the
Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno employed every trick in the book to
pivot their answers to the questions on the law, human rights and security
toward the economy and employment matters – the focus of their campaign so far.
heat was turned up when the candidates were allowed to question each other,
with Prabowo quick to bring up claims that law enforcement under the Jokowi
administration has been unfair and one-sided, mainly at the expense of
deflected the claim, saying that Indonesia upholds the rule of law and that the
country's legal mechanisms are functioning well. He challenged his opponent by
saying that anything illegal should be reported to the relevant authorities
instead of using it to stir controversy.
cheekily made reference to the infamous deception by theatrical producer,
actress and writer Ratna Sarumpaet, an avid Prabowo supporter.
not rush into conclusions. Mr. Prabowo's campaign team member, for example, was
said to have been assaulted, with her face battered. But then we found out that
she underwent plastic surgery," Jokowi said.
is currently in police detention, awaiting trial. She is accused of having
created the deception to allow Prabowo's campaign to discredit his opponent.
lively debates often go, neither side managed to engage in any meaningful
discussion on ways they would resolve the many cases of gross human rights
violations that have been unresolved over the past five decades.
International has pointed out that the Jokowi administration has failed to show
seriousness in resolving cases of gross human rights violations, including the
abductions of pro-democracy activists and the Semanggi I and II incidents in
1998 and 1999, when the armed forces opened fire on protesting students.
attorney general, who was appointed by Jokowi, recently refused to, accept the
findings of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on the cases
and several others, saying that there were not enough facts to bring the cases
candidates appeared to be aware that it would be detrimental to their
respective election campaigns to highlight these cases, and seemed to be
careful not to mention any specifics.
was dishonorably discharged from his position as commander of the Army
Strategic Command (Kostrad) after he was found to have overstepped his
authority in ordering the kidnappings of civilians.
case involving the student shootings, however, has never gone to trial.
Observers have long said it may implicate Wiranto, one of Jokowi's key allies,
who was the chief the military at the time.
acknowledged the "burden of past human rights abuses" during Thursday
evening's debate and said their resolution has been pending due to a lack of
evidence and the length of time that has passed since the incidents took place.
we are still committed to resolving this human rights issue, which will be
supported by a fair legal system and good law enforcement," Jokowi said.
Small Corruption Is O.K.
said corruption in Indonesia was caused by the low wages civil servants
receive. Therefore, he intends to increase taxes to provide government workers
with a better standard of living.
I lead this country, I will realistically improve the quality of life for all
bureaucrats. The question is where I will get the money. I will increase the
tax rate, which currently stands at 10 percent, or even lower. I will return
[the tax rate] to a minimum of 16 percent, so we will get at least $60
billion," he said.
the other hand, Jokowi said the focus should be on bureaucratic reform,
especially in terms of recruitment. He emphasized the importance of recruitment
based on merit and competence, as well as strong internal monitoring.
not much we want to say. We fully understand the issues facing this country and
what we must do. We don't lean toward dictatorship or authoritarianism, and we
don't have a record of past human rights abuses, nor issues surrounding
corruption," Jokowi said.
his turn to ask his opponent a question, Jokowi raised the issue of
ex-corruptors on the list of legislative candidates from Prabowo's Great
Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), as published by Indonesia Corruption
Watch. Prabowo responded by saying that those cases had been resolved and that
the people involved were duly punished.
think that this is a democracy ... if the law allows it, and the candidate is
capable and the people want it, and maybe he didn't corrupt by that much… It is
those who have stolen trillions or rupiah that we should go after,"
the debate, Prabowo's take on terrorism in Indonesia focused heavily on the
source of it being rooted in other countries.
know very well terrorists were sent from other countries. The terrorists are
controlled by non-Muslims. I reject the notion that Muslims are
terrorists," he said.
it comes to homegrown terrorists, Prabowo claimed that most of them were a
product of economic inequality and despair.
terrorism comes from despair and economic inequality. They were hurt and
influenced by radical teachings. I support a deradicalization program. When I
am president, I will also invest in health and education," he said, adding
that he would strengthen the country's military, police and intelligence
running mate Ma'ruf Amin, meanwhile, proposed a focus on preventative efforts
to suppress radicalism and intolerance, which would involve mass organizations
and religious groups. This would be paired with a human rights approach, which
Jokowi emphasized by saying that law enforcement officers would be trained to
be mindful of human rights when conducting operations.
deradicalization, Jokowi and Ma'ruf said this process would heavily depend on
the root causes.
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