to the conference, the pope was welcomed at the Presidential Palace in Abu
Dhabi where he stood between Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and
Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and was accorded full military honors,
including a 21-gun salute and fly-past leaving behind a trail of yellow smoke.
Education in India Be Modernised To Make It Sustainable: US-based Muslim
Philanthropist Frank Islam
Drivers, Christian Faithfuls Have Langar at Sikh Temple in Dubai
Francis Leaves Behind Trail of Hope, Unity Following Historic UAE Visit
Rejects Anti-rape Bill Because It Has ‘Liberal Perspective’
on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together Signed in Abu Dhabi by
Pope Francis and the Great Imam of Al Azhar: Full text
PM Imran Khan Orders Probe into Attack on Hindu Temple
Take Centre Stage as Kabul Left Out Of Peace Talks
Islamic Jihad Call For Formation of Palestinian National Unity Government
Education Be Modernised To Make It Sustainable: US-based Muslim Philanthropist Frank
Sends Pakistan Tough Message over Its Plan for Kashmir Event near LoC
may consider visiting Iraq barring 5 terror-hit provinces: MEA
to soon send draft of Kartarpur Sahib Agreement to Pakistan
Muslim’s Heartfelt Experience of Papal Mass
Groups in Northern Syria Seeking to Form United Force in Idlib
Population Asks Syrian Army to Free Idlib from Terrorists
bankers of Iran, Iraq sign deal on payment mechanism
determined to continue peaceful struggle for change: Al-Wefaq
general in Middle East: Daesh hold in Syria, Iraq on verge of collapse
Did PAS Cut Ties With DAP? For Being ‘Enemy of Islam’, Hadi Claims
My Daughter-In-Law, Many Foster Uncles Are Chinese
over mosque management defamatory, malicious, says MAIM
Round of Philippine Muslim Autonomy Poll Imminent
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anti-terror squad joins Philippines bomb probe
Francis: Abuse by Priests and Bishops Likely Still Ongoing
Francis reflects on his UAE visit: I saw a modern, welcoming country
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Muslim minority complain of ‘marginalisation’ in Komotini
Far-Right Leader Geert Wilders' Ex-Ally Converts To Islam
Arab League fail to release joint statement on Mideast conflicts
minister says ISIS hostage John Cantlie still alive
Tariq Jameel Reveals Why He Supports Imran Khan
Sends 92 TLP Workers on Judicial Remand
suspected terrorists killed in South Waziristan
sit-in: SC directs govt, LEAs, and intelligence agencies to operate within
Tourist Slams Pakistani Media for Portraying ‘Negative Image of Country’
planned covert operation against own nationals in Pakistan, claims plea in SC
Demand New Constitution for Afghanistan at Moscow Talks
Officials: Taliban Kill 11 Policemen, 10 Others
hold rare talks with senior Afghan politicians in Moscow
disasters, poverty drive rural poor into Dhaka
outlines demands for peace during intra-Afghan summit in Moscow
forces suffer casualties in Taliban attack in Baghlan province
scale Taliban attack repulsed in the outskirts of Kunduz city: MoD
Syria buffer zone, Turkey’s Erdogan slams US over delays
Syria will boost terror combat until its eradication: Shamkhani
calls on Yemen’s rival forces to leave Hudaydah
army liberate an important mountain chain in Kitaf, Saada province
head of UN observer mission lands in Yemen
No satisfactory plan yet with US on north Syria safe zone
Faso Forces Kill 146 Extremists after Civilian Attack
Faso: 5 Soldiers Killed In Terrorist Attack
kills 9 bandits in north-western Nigeria
of funding may prevent over half of Libya’s local elections
condemns deadly terror attack in Burkina Faso
Patrol Group Protecting Muslims Becomes Target of Smear Campaigns
talks with Taliban key part of endgame, says US commander
rebukes Trump over Syria, Afghanistan pullouts
paper: US interfering in polls to help Netanyahu?
Cubs owner under fire for Islamophobic emails
regrouping quicker in Iraq than Syria, says US-led coalition
Salvador elects a new president of Palestinian descent
by New Age Islam News Bureau
madrasas (Islamic seminaries) and the education imparted in them must be
modernised to make it sustainable, US-based Muslim philanthropist Frank Islam
said here on Tuesday.
clergy that resists the modern education has his own interests. (But) They must
understand that the education being given there cannot provide any jobs to
students," he said during an interaction with mediapersons here.
for funding higher education in India, Islam however said that he has no plans
to fund ay madrasas here.
if he has any plans to fund or establish a "model madrasa" where religious
education can be gelled with contemporary learning, he said: "As of now I
have not thought about it. But I think a few people here in India including Lt
Gen (retd) Zameeruddin Shah are working on this concept."
shared a few ideas regarding the educational empowerment of Muslims.
a strong focus on literacy development in the rural areas and for females,
develop technical and entrepreneurial skills, place an increased emphasis on
higher education, make connections and build coalitions both here in India and
with Muslims around the world," he said.
stressed on developing technical and entrepreneurial skills.
the world, we are finding that technological advances are occurring so rapidly
that basic education and literacy ... are insufficient for success in life.
This is true in India as well. To be fully empowered, Muslims must have the
technical and entrepreneurial skills to compete and also to create their own
opportunities in the 21st century workforce," Islam said.
building coalitions inside the country as well as with Muslims around the
world, Islam said that no government can alone achieve the goal of educating
all the people.
group can do it alone. But together we can. We need to reach out to others who
share our cause. If they are brought together, we will be able to create the
level and type of educational empowerment that we need," he said.
The Sikh Gurudwara Darbar Sahab in Jebel Ali, Dubai, was a picture of tolerance
and diversity as hundreds of Muslim bus drivers and the Catholic faithfuls they
were ferrying for the Papal mass in Abu Dhabi partook in the Langar or free
community meals from 4pm onwards on Monday.
Tuesday, Surinder Singh Khandari, chairman of the Gurdwara, told Gulf News,
“There were some 100 buses outside the Gurudwara as this area, which has seven
churches, was a pickup point for buses taking people to Abu Dhabi for the Papal
Mass. We noticed that many of the bus drivers were there by 4pm and had to wait
till 11pm for the trip to Abu Dhabi. So we opened our doors to them and served
them tea and even dinner well into the night.”
said as Catholic faithfuls started arriving to board the buses, many of them
also came to the Gurudwara and enjoyed the langar.
Nanak (the founder of Sikhism) always said, irrespective of the communities we
belong to, we are all one and the children of God. We must support each other,”
said an average of 1,500 people have langar at the Jebel Ali gurdwara every
day, with the number going up to 15,000 during the weekends and over 60,000
gurdwara volunteer Kulwant Singh said, “What a remarkable place the Gurudwara
Darbar Sahab is — it is a fine example of tolerance and diversity and everyone
is welcome here. It was wonderful seeing people from different religious faiths
— Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and others — coming together ahead of the papal
mass which was such a historic event. Being in the UAE is indeed a blessing as
it fosters a sense of oneness among people of the 200-plus nationalities that
call it their home.”
is a term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free
meal is served to all visitors, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender,
economic status or ethnicity. The free meal is always vegetarian.
Francis leaves behind trail of hope, unity following historic UAE visit
a cool Tuesday morning in Abu Dhabi, hundreds of thousands of people from far
and wide flocked towards Zayed Sports City to attend Pope Francis’s much
anticipated Mass- the first to be held in the Arabian Peninsula.
choir sang hymns as families excitedly hurried to the stadium’s entrance to
take their seats.
Mass-goer, Christine from the Philippines, limped her way through the crowds at
about 7:00 am using crutches.
worth it, to be in the presence of the pope means everything to me,” Christine
said. She is almost 80 years old.
UAE residents of the Christian faith planned their journey from early on to be
able to attend the first-of-its-kind event by the head of the Catholic Church.
Many started their journey the night before, where their churches organized
buses to take them from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Others flew in from across the
globe, slept in their cars in front of the stadium, or started their journey to
the historic Mass as early as 1:00 am. The Mass was scheduled to start at 10:30
are coming from Spain. Last night we arrived, then we came by bus to Abu Dhabi
at two in the morning. We are so excited. I’m very tired because we didn’t
sleep, nothing. We want to see him and kiss him!” said Mass-goer Estel.
woke up at 1:00 am to catch the bus and come here. This visit is a great
blessing to us as Christians. I was actually born in the UAE so I am the son of
this country, although I am originally Jordanian. So I am honored that the pope
is visiting this country, my country,” said Mass-goer Sammy.
arriving to the UAE on Sunday night, the head of the Catholic Church and the
sovereign of the Vatican was accorded a state welcome to the UAE at a grand
ceremony on Monday organized at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi. His visit
to the UAE is being billed as historic as he is the first pontiff to ever visit
the Arabian Peninsula.
unprecedented public celebration of Mass on Tuesday by Pope Francis gathered
more than 120,000 worshippers inside the stadium, and a reported whopping
300,000 people outside the stadium who gathered in a designated area equipped
with huge screens.
Pontiff is in the Gulf country to promote inter-faith dialogue, and to mark the
UAE’s Year of Tolerance, which was highly showcased throughout the visit.
being interviewed, Mary Arbash, who is originally from Syria, was handed a
Lebanese flag by an attendee who thought she was Lebanese. Laughingly, she
exclaimed that she is actually Syrian but swore that she would wear it in the
name of tolerance, and to showcase the essence of the pope’s visit.
Dhabi’s opulent Emirates Palace hotel also witnessed an unusual flurry of
activities on Monday.
in long black robes and sheikhs wearing turbans crowded in front of an
information desk to get their credentials to enter the Conference of
Fraternity, marking the rare visit of Pope Francis to the UAE.
religious leaders happily mingled together and attended a series of meetings
and lectures all themed around tolerance, marking the ‘Year of Tolerance’ in
Murray, the bishop of the diocese of Panama and the archbishop of the church in
Central America, who flew in from Panama, was immersed in conversation with an
Anglican priest who serves in Amman. The pair were even snapping some selfies
to share with their churches back home.
think this event is very important to make people aware that Christians and
Muslims, especially on the level of leadership, are working together and
listening to each other, respecting each other, receiving each other, and
accepting each other,” Reverend George Al Kopti said.
worry usually is that what we speak in public, in conferences, needs to be
implemented in the grassroots in our society. I need to go back to my church
and teach about what I learned here. And the same thing, Muslim sheikhs need to
go back and teach about what they learned. We need to unify our speech. We
can’t talk in public about something, and in private sessions a different
thing,” he added.
number of UAE ministers were at the event as well, including Sheikh Mansour bin
Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs,
and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Pontiff was accompanied by several bishops and cardinals as well, including
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness, and Cardinal
Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
official was announced on both sides, and walked up to the podium to greet the
usually run high in the pope’s presence, with many people considering it to be
a once-in-a-lifetime event. But Archbishop Murray was lucky enough to see him
twice, in the same month.
was a humbling experience. He’s a humble man. And what was so impacting for us
is his interest to reach out, not only to the people, but also to reach out to
the different expressions of religion and faith. And the moment of the peace,
during the celebration, he came from where he was and he walked straight over
to where I was and he made sure that we embrace each other,” Murray said.
his speech delivered at the Emirates’ Founders’ Memorial, where he and the
Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque signed a joint-agreement that focuses on
efforts to combat extremism, the Pontiff reaffirmed the need for unity, stating
that there will be “no future” without it.
will either build the future together or there will not be a future. The time
has come when religions should more actively exert themselves, with courage and
audacity, and without pretense, to help the human family deepen the capacity
for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace,” the
religious leaders in attendance became the prime example of this: “Exerting
themselves” for these noble purposes. But Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric said that
it wasn’t always easy. Based in Bosnia, he said that after the country went
through four years of siege, there were many initiatives coming from the
Christian side for the dialogue and peace, but that he could hardly find an
institution or individuals that he could share his concerns with.
was no major initiative from the Muslim countries or Muslim individuals, who
had this project in mind. We had some ideas in books and in conferences but we
didn’t have an organization that can carry out and mediate with others to reach
the kind of dialogue we have today,” Ceric said.
hope that after this visit (of the pope), the major Christian European
countries will invite Sheikh al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb to visit Christian
countries and to be given the same reception the pope is receiving here among
the Muslim-majority countries. He was received very well… I hope that this
Muslim reception of the pope will be a clear message to the whole world:
Muslims are seeking peace and security in the world,” Ceric added.
UAE hosts about half of the two million expatriate Catholics living in the
peninsula. The community includes large numbers of people from the Philippines
and India, many of which were seen at the Mass.
is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection
of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the
future," the pope said.
wearing white pope-branded caps, and excitedly raising Vatican flags in the air
as the Pontiff entered in a white open top Jeep, waving at the cheering crowds.
the service, the pope spoke in Italian and English, the latter being the most
common language used by residents of the UAE. The congregation prayed for
migrant workers and their families and for the ending of wars.
ceremony ended with a prayer, a thunderous round of applause from the crowd, as
well as organ music.
amazing, I’m super lucky I managed to get a ticket yesterday so I came down.
For me, I was raised in the region so to have the pope in the region is just
phenomenal. Seeing what these leaders have done in bringing us together, maybe
we could have peace in the world,” said Deborah Webster, who is half Finnish,
the Mass, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
accompanied the pontiff on the tarmac towards the plane, before bidding him
farewell, ending a historic three-day visit that united many under the banner
of ‘tolerance’ in the Arab world.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction at the House of Representatives has
rejected the passing of the long-awaited sexual violence bill, saying the bill
has a “liberal perspective” that is contradictory to Pancasila and religious
PKS is determined to reject the draft bill and will take constitutional steps
to drop the bill’s deliberation,” Jazuli Juwaini, chairman of the PKS faction
at the House, said as quoted by kompas.com on Tuesday.
said the party had tried to provide input but their suggestions were not
said the party objected to the definition and scope of sexual violence, which
it deemed to have a liberal perspective that is not in line with Pancasila
values, religious norms and Eastern culture.
even has the pretense to promote free sex and deviant sexual behavior,” he
a number of Islamic organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU) women
organization, Fatayat NU, have voiced their support for the bill, the more
conservative Islamic groups, like the PKS, have strongly expressed their
opposition to the bill.
to some Islamic groups, the main problem of the bill is that it fails to
include adultery as a sexual crime and therefore the bill, by omission, allows
consensual sex outside of marriage and at the same time potentially
criminalizes a husband just because the wife is reluctant to have sexual
Herawati, a Padjadjaran University lecturer, recently launched an online
petition calling on Muslims to reject the bill, which she said was pro-adultery
idea that women should be given the legal power to protect themselves is good,
but there is a gap that was deliberately made to allow [loopholes],” the
petition said. “There is no regulation on sexual crimes, such as sexual
relations that violate moral and religious norms.”
bill defines sexual violence as any “action that debases, insults, attacks […]
the body of someone, their sexual desire or/and their reproductive function,
forcefully, [or] against their will, [or] causing them to be unable to give
permission freely due to power and/or gender relations, which could lead to
physical, psychological, sexual suffering, and economic, social, cultural and
bill categorizes as sexual violence sexual harassment, sexual exploitation,
forced use of contraceptive, forced abortion, rape, forced marriage, forced
prostitution, sexual slavery and sexual torture.
sexual violence bill was first proposed in 2016 after the gang rape and murder
of a 14-year-old girl in Bengkulu and gained traction again at the end of last
year as the case of Baiq Nuril, a sexual harassment victim in West Nusa Nusa
Tenggara (NTB) who was convicted for defaming her alleged harasser, came to
National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), which helped
compose the bill, has said that critics did not understand the intention of the
hope that we can meet with them to discuss the bill, because I’m sure that no
woman would be against eradicating sexual violence,” commissioner Mariana
Amiruddin said recently. (vny)
leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and
loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all
human beings (equal on account of his mercy), believers are called to express
this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and
supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.
transcendental value served as the starting point for several meetings
characterized by a friendly and fraternal atmosphere where we shared the joys,
sorrows and problems of our contemporary world. We did this by considering
scientific and technical progress, therapeutic achievements, the digital era,
the mass media and communications. We reflected also on the level of poverty,
conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of
the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption,
inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other
our fraternal and open discussions, and from the meeting that expressed
profound hope in a bright future for all human beings, the idea of this
Document on Human Fraternity was conceived. It is a text that has been given
honest and serious thought so as to be a joint declaration of good and
heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that invites all persons who have faith
in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may
serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect
in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers
the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and
dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to
fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace;
the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that
whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that
whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity;
name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need whom
God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the
wealthy and of means;
the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and
their countries; in the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice;
in the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those
tortured in any part of the world, without distinction;
the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of
living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war;
the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and
renders them equal;
the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division,
by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that
manipulate the actions and the future of men and women;
the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings creating them free
and distinguishing them by this gift;
the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the
cornerstone of faith;
the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world;
the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the
Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the
Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue
as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding
as the method and standard.
who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the
basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document,
call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of
international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the
culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the
earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to
wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that
the world is presently experiencing.
call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media
professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to
rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and
coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of
salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.
Declaration, setting out from a profound consideration of our contemporary
reality, valuing its successes and in solidarity with its suffering, disasters
and calamities, believes firmly that among the most important causes of the
crises of the modern world are a desensitized human conscience, a distancing
from religious values and a prevailing individualism accompanied by
materialistic philosophies that deify the human person and introduce worldly
and material values in place of supreme and transcendental principles.
recognizing the positive steps taken by our modern civilization in the fields
of science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, especially in developed
countries, we wish to emphasize that, associated with such historic
advancements, great and valued as they are, there exists both a moral
deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual
values and responsibility. All this contributes to a general feeling of
frustration, isolation and desperation leading many to fall either into a
vortex of atheistic, agnostic or religious extremism, or into blind and fanatic
extremism, which ultimately encourage forms of dependency and individual or
shows that religious extremism, national extremism and also intolerance have
produced in the world, be it in the East or West, what might be referred to as
signs of a “third world war being fought piecemeal”. In several parts of the
world and in many tragic circumstances these signs have begun to be painfully
apparent, as in those situations where the precise number of victims, widows
and orphans is unknown. We see, in addition, other regions preparing to become
theatres of new conflicts, with outbreaks of tension and a build-up of arms and
ammunition, and all this in a global context overshadowed by uncertainty,
disillusionment, fear of the future, and controlled by narrow-minded economic
likewise affirm that major political crises, situations of injustice and lack
of equitable distribution of natural resources – which only a rich minority
benefit from, to the detriment of the majority of the peoples of the earth –
have generated, and continue to generate, vast numbers of poor, infirm and
deceased persons. This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have
fallen victim to despite their natural resources and the resourcefulness of
young people which characterize these nations. In the face of such crises that
result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and
hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level.
is clear in this context how the family as the fundamental nucleus of society
and humanity is essential in bringing children into the world, raising them,
educating them, and providing them with solid moral formation and domestic
security. To attack the institution of the family, to regard it with contempt
or to doubt its important role, is one of the most threatening evils of our
affirm also the importance of awakening religious awareness and the need to
revive this awareness in the hearts of new generations through sound education
and an adherence to moral values and upright religious teachings. In this way
we can confront tendencies that are individualistic, selfish, conflicting, and
also address radicalism and blind extremism in all its forms and expressions.
first and most important aim of religions is to believe in God, to honour Him
and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God
who governs it. He is the Creator who has formed us with His divine wisdom and
has granted us the gift of life to protect it. It is a gift that no one has the
right to take away, threaten or manipulate to suit oneself. Indeed, everyone
must safeguard this gift of life from its beginning up to its natural end. We
therefore condemn all those practices that are a threat to life such as
genocide, acts of terrorism, forced displacement, human trafficking, abortion
and euthanasia. We likewise condemn the policies that promote these practices.
we resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes,
hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of
blood. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious
teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from
interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have
taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and
women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth
of religion. This is done for the purpose of achieving objectives that are
political, economic, worldly and short-sighted. We thus call upon all concerned
to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism,
and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile,
terrorism and oppression. We ask this on the basis of our common belief in God
who did not create men and women to be killed or to fight one another, nor to
be tortured or humiliated in their lives and circumstances. God, the Almighty,
has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to
Document, in accordance with previous International Documents that have
emphasized the importance of the role of religions in the construction of world
peace, upholds the following:
• The firm conviction that authentic
teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace; to
defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious
coexistence; to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken
religious awareness among young people so that future generations may be
protected from the realm of materialistic thinking and from dangerous policies of
unbridled greed and indifference that are based on the law of force and not on
the force of law;
• Freedom is a right of every person:
each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action.
The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language
are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This
divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the
freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to
adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition
of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;
• Justice based on mercy is the path to
follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a
• Dialogue, understanding and the
widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of
living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many
economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on
a large part of humanity;
• Dialogue among believers means coming
together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and,
from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for. It
also means avoiding unproductive discussions;
• The protection of places of worship –
synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human
values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of
worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a
deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of
• Terrorism is deplorable and threatens
the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the
South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to
religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an
accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies
linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is
so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the
provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements
even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that
threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its
forms and expressions;
• The concept of citizenship is based on
the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is
therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship
and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders
feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility
and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil
rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against;
• Good relations between East and West
are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each
can be enriched by the other’s culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue.
The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious
maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in
the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict
and scientific, technical and cultural decline. It is important to pay
attention to religious, cultural and historical differences that are a vital
component in shaping the character, culture and civilization of the East. It is
likewise important to reinforce the bond of fundamental human rights in order
to help ensure a dignified life for all the men and women of East and West,
avoiding the politics of double standards;
• It is an essential requirement to
recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize
their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be
made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary
to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect
women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects
of pleasure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those
inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must
be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their
• The protection of the fundamental
rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition,
education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must
be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any
child in any part of the world. All those practices that violate the dignity
and rights of children must be denounced. It is equally important to be
vigilant against the dangers that they are exposed to, particularly in the
digital world, and to consider as a crime the trafficking of their innocence
and all violations of their youth;
• The protection of the rights of the elderly,
the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation
that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the
implementation of the relevant international agreements.
this end, by mutual cooperation, the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar announce and
pledge to convey this Document to authorities, influential leaders, persons of
religion all over the world, appropriate regional and international
organizations, organizations within civil society, religious institutions and
leading thinkers. They further pledge to make known the principles contained in
this Declaration at all regional and international levels, while requesting
that these principles be translated into policies, decisions, legislative
texts, courses of study and materials to be circulated.
and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research
and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, thus
helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others, and
to be defenders everywhere of the rights of the oppressed and of the least of
our brothers and sisters.
conclusion, our aspiration is that:
Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among
all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people
of good will;
Declaration may be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects
deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to those who cherish the
values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by
Declaration may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites
divided hearts and elevates the human soul;
Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North
and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand
one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who
love one another.
is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace
that all can enjoy in this life.
PM Imran Khan orders probe into attack on Hindu temple
Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an investigation into this week's attack
on a Hindu temple in the southern town of Kumb, where assailants set fire to
statues and holy books of the Hindu minority before fleeing.
went on Twitter on February 5 night, saying the government of southern Sindh
province "must take swift and decisive action against the
perpetrators" of the attack, which was against the teachings of Quran,
Islam's holy book.
to local police, they continued a hunt on February 6 to trace and arrest those
involved in the attack. No one has claimed responsibility for February 4
attack, which was condemned by Hindus as well as local Muslims.
are a tiny minority in predominantly Muslim Pakistan, and attacks on their
worship places are rare.
take centre stage as Kabul left out of peace talks
Ashraf Ghani is being pushed to the sidelines as the Taliban ignore his
overtures for peace and negotiate instead with his friends, and enemies, over
the future of Afghanistan.
Doha to Moscow, the insurgents are meeting an array of envoys with competing
interests in Afghanistan, from the United States eager to withdraw its troops
to politicians in Kabul jostling for power.
say regional powers -- including US foes Iran and Russia -- are angling for an
audience with the Taliban, who are already outlining their vision for Islamic
rule once foreign troops leave.
elephant in the room is Ghani, whose US-backed administration has not been
invited to the table despite a failed year-long effort to spark a dialogue with
sad irony is that Afghanistan's government is in danger of getting written out
of the script of its own peace process," analyst Michael Kugelman of the
Wilson Center in Washington told AFP.
allies in Washington insist Afghans should lead the peace process, and
ostensibly the months-long push by the US to engage the Taliban has been aimed
at convincing them to negotiate with Kabul.
efforts culminated in an unprecedented six days of talks between the US and the
Taliban in Doha in January.
marathon negotiations ended with both sides touting "progress" --
spurring Afghan fears the US could cut a deal with the militants to withdraw
its forces before a lasting peace with Kabul is reached.
a major snub because without the Americans, the government in Kabul cannot
survive," said Gilles Dorronsoro, a French researcher specialising in
the Taliban agreed a week later to a separate, almost unheard of sit-down in
Russia with some of Ghani's biggest rivals.
two-day talks, which started Tuesday, saw the Taliban lead prayers with
political heavyweights, some sworn enemies, and listen as Afghan women defended
Taliban promised an "inclusive Islamic system" and opened the door
for allowing women greater freedoms, but also demanded a new, Islam-based
out for a second time, a furious Ghani vowed he would not be an idle spectator
as his country's future was debated abroad.
meeting in Russia was "nothing more than a fantasy. No one can decide
without the consent of the Afghan people," Ghani told Afghan broadcaster
who have gathered in Moscow have no executive authority. They can say what they
later said on Twitter that he had spoken to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,
who had "underscored the central importance of ensuring the centrality of
the Afghan government in the peace process".
both agreed that words, rumors, and speculations cannot replace actions and
that our partnership and resolve will remain strong in the pursuit of
peace," Ghani wrote.
top US general later said that Kabul must be involved in talks if a push for a
peace deal is to be successful.
we need to get to a Taliban-Afghanistan discussion," General Joseph Votel,
the head of US Central Command, told US lawmakers Tuesday.
they will be able to resolve the key issues involved in the dispute."
frustration and sense of betrayal in Kabul was palpable.
Saleh, a Ghani ally, accused the Afghan leaders in Moscow -- including former
president Hamid Karzai -- of "begging... terrorists".
smile to the enemy is a blow to the national spirit," Saleh said.
Taliban, who brutally ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, have so far refused
to engage with the Kabul government, who they view as US stooges.
the insurgents are marching ahead with their diplomatic agenda.
has presented an opportunity for Ghani's rivals to undermine his leadership
ahead of presidential elections slated for July, analysts say.
Muhammad Noor, an influential former warlord present in Moscow who is backing a
Ghani contender in the polls, has called for the formation of an interim
government to include the Taliban.
Taliban outreach is also drawing a host of rival powers into its orbit, all
keen to ensure that any finale to the war suits their strategic ambitions.
of these present "a fundamental clash of vision and interests" for
Afghanistan, said Davood Moradian, director of the Kabul-based Afghan Institute
for Strategic Studies.
US, Afghanistan and India seek a stable democracy and a bulwark against
terrorism, he said, while the Taliban and Pakistan, conversely, seek an Islamic
government in Kabul.
broader second group of "legitimate stakeholders and opportunistic
spoilers" -- including regional powers like Russia, China and Iran -- have
their eyes on waning US influence in the region, Moradian added.
Moscow talks were officially hosted by an Afghan diaspora group but Russia's
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the conference as "useful" to
said the US-Taliban talks, which continue later this month, were an
"acknowledgement of defeat" by Washington of its military campaign
that would not be missed by rivals Russia and Iran, who have also engaged with
departure of US forces -- if achieved under a deal with the Taliban -- could
draw the region into a "new war" for dominance in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, Iran... everyone will choose sides. Today, nothing is clear. Everyone
is in the process of positioning themselves," Dorronsoro said.
Islamic Jihad call for formation of Palestinian national unity government
resistance movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad have demanded the quick formation
of a new national unity government, stressing the need for further cooperation
between the two groups in the face of challenges facing the Palestinian nation.
two movements, in a joint statement released following a lengthy meeting
between their representatives in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo on Tuesday,
emphasized that a national unity government must be established in a bid to
hold new parliamentary elections in Palestinian territories, and secure
President Mahmoud Abbas announced on January 30 that the Palestinian
legislative polls will be held in East Jerusalem al-Quds, the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip to enable the Palestinian citizens to elect their representatives
Palestinian leadership is keen to achieve the national Palestinian unity by
implementing what had been agreed upon in Cairo in 2017,” Abbas said, adding
that “the Palestinian leadership is committed to its implementation.”
December, Abbas announced that the Palestinian Constitutional Court had decided
to dissolve the Palestinian parliament, better known as the Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC).
court had also called for holding new parliamentary election in the Palestinian
territories after six months of dissolving the parliament.
last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah officially submitted
his resignation and that of his unity government to Abbas, casting doubt on the
prospects of reconciliation efforts with Hamas.
had been facing pressure from his ruling Fatah movement over the past few weeks
to remove Hamdallah from power, and establish a new government comprised of
representatives from PLO factions in addition to independent figures.
headed the Palestinian National Consensus Government, which was formed after
Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement in 2014.
leaders said there was no point in keeping the government in power in the wake
of the continued crisis between their faction and Hamas.
also argue that since their faction is the largest group in the PLO, it should
have a strong presence in any government.
and Islamic Jihad also stressed the need for closer interactions in various
fields in order to defend “the Palestinian nation, the resistance front and its
delegates praised Palestinian people for their spirited resistance,
particularly the armed struggle against the Occupation (Israeli regime),” they
two resistance movements then called for an immediate end to divisions among
Palestinian political factions to thwart US President Donald Trump’s so-called
“deal of the century.”
deal, a back channel plan to allegedly reach a peace settlement between the
Israelis and the Palestinians, was proposed by the US administration in
the plan has not been released, leaks signal it will consist of the same tried
and failed ideas. All Palestinian groups have already rejected Trump’s plan.
little is known about the controversial deal, leaks have suggested that it
regards East Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli territory, whereas Palestinians view
the eastern sector of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.
also believe that the US-drafted plan calls for keeping borders and security
under Israeli control, while it keeps Israeli settlements’ final borders to be
discussed in later negotiations.
sends Pakistan tough message over its plan for Kashmir event near LoC
of Pakistan-organised Kashmir solidarity day on Tuesday, the Pakistan Army
approached the Indian Army to inform about plans for a demonstration on the
occasion near the Line of Control, sources said.
the Indian Army responded that it will be seen as an “act of provocation” and
appropriate response will be undertaken, sources said. Following this, there
was a small-scale demonstration near the Line of Control in the
said that the conversation between the two sides took place through defence
Pakistan tried to attract international attention by organising an event in
UK’s parliament which was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi,
sources in Delhi said that the meeting was only attended by Pakistan-origin MPs
or those with some “Pakistan connection”. “All 11 British MPs who attended the
event have some Pakistan connection,” sources said.
of the cabinet ministers, including Pakistan-origin UK Home Secretary Sajid
Javid, attended the event, sources said.
fact that Qureshi did not get a meeting with his counterpart, the British
Foreign secretary, speaks for itself that the UK was not keen to give the event
or the visit any official legitimacy,” sources said.
also said that the Indian side took up the issue quite strongly with the
British counterparts. The event was organised by the Pakistani diaspora in the
UK. “The event was organised by Pakistan’s diaspora, many of whom are British
citizens. Since any British citizen can book a room through their MPs in the
British parliament and host an event, this event was organised on the
parliament premises,” sources said.
UK conveyed to India that it was treating Qureshi’s visit as “private” and did
not entertain any official meetings. “They had conveyed to us that the UK
government would not like to get drawn into what is a bilateral issue between
India and Pakistan. While the Kashmir solidarity day is an annual ritual, the
government had made efforts to make them understand that this was anti-India
propaganda,” sources said.
also said that Pakistan’s intention to internationalise the issue of Kashmir on
the occasion of the Kashmir solidarity day, which is held every year on
February 5, did not bear fruit. “We had told the British counterparts that they
should take into account our sensitivities. We can say with some confidence
that the events showed that there was acceptance of our position from the
British side,” sources said.
on Tuesday observed Kashmir Solidarity Day, with top leaders extending their
support to the people in the Valley and to find a peaceful resolution.
four-and-a-half years after New Delhi cautioned Indians against travelling to
Iraq, the NDA government Tuesday revised its travel advisory and said that
Indians may now consider travelling to Iraq but avoid five terror-affected
comes almost a year-and-a- half after the ISIS was defeated and less than 11
months after the government confirmed the death of 39 Indians, who were killed
in captivity by the terror outfit.
by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday, the updated advisory said
that “due to the improvement in the security situation”, Indians may now
consider travelling to the country except to five provinces which are still
affected by terrorism and violence. “With improvement in security situation in
Iraq, Indian nationals may now consider travelling to the country except to the
five Provinces of Iraq, namely Nineveh (capital Mosul), Salahuddin (capital
Tikrit), Diyala (capital Baquba), Anbar (capital Ramadi) and Kirkuk,” the MEA
are 19 provinces in Iraq, popularly known as governorates. And majority of them
are considered safe spaces by the UN agencies. “Our mission made a thorough
assessment of the security situation before we updated the travel advisory,” a
wishing to travel for employment to the safe areas must register on the
government’s e-migrate portal and inform the Indian Embassy in Baghdad or the
Consulate General of India in Erbil prior to travelling, the advisory said.
the Gulf war in 1991, there were more than 80,000 Indian nationals in Iraq.
Most of them left Iraq before the war.
the 2003 invasion, thousands of Indian workers were recruited by contractors to
provide various services to foreign military bases in Iraq. Many of them left
with the deteriorating security situation in the country.
the lifting of the government advisory against Indians travelling to Iraq which
was in vogue from 2004 till May 2010, the number of Indian workers had steadily
increased in the more stable Kurdistan region comprising Erbil, Sulaimaniya and
Dohuk governorates, with better salaries and working conditions in steel mills,
oil companies and construction projects.
the ISIS took over large parts of Iraq in 2014, the Indian government evacuated
thousands of Indian nationals from Iraq. India had also issued at least three
travel advisories in June 2014 itself, asking people to avoid Iraq.
present, the total number of Indians in Iraq is now estimated to be around
10,000-12,000, mostly in Kurdistan region, Basra, Najaf and Karbala. About
30,000-40,000 Indians visit Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf and Samarrah in Iraq for
to soon send draft of Kartarpur Sahib agreement to Pakistan
government will soon send a draft to Pakistan for finalisation of an agreement
between New Delhi and Islamabad on the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.
breezeway will facilitate easy passage of Sikh pilgrims to the historic
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, officials said.
decision was taken to fast-track implementation of the corridor project at a
meeting on Tuesday, officials said. The meeting was chaired by Union Home
Secretary Rajiv Gauba and attended, among others, by Indian High Commissioner
to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria and Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh.
will send within a month the draft of the agreement to be signed with Pakistan
for the Kartarpur corridor. We hope the modalities will be completed soon,”
Singh told the media after the hour-long meeting.
Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located on the banks of the Ravi river, about 3 or
4 km from the international border, in Pakistan. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of
Sikhism, had established the gurdwara in 1522; he had spent more than 18 years
in Kartarpur. India has already communicated to Pakistan the coordinates of
Zero Point for the corridor’s opening, a Home Ministry official said.
acquisition for the highway and the integrated check post (ICP) were discussed
in the meeting. It was informed that the preliminary notification for land
acquisition for the highway has already been issued, and the notification to
acquire land for the ICP will be issued on Wednesday.
Punjab government has assured that the land required will be made available for
both projects by mid-March, the MHA official said.
of land to begin preliminary work will be made available to the NHAI and the
Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI), and a detailed plan of the ICP is
expected to be finalised within the next few days, it was informed.
Punjab Chief Secretary said the process of land acquisition is at the second
President Venkaiah Naidu had laid the foundation stone of Dera Baba
Nanak-Kartarpur Sahib Corridor (up to the international border) at an event in
Mann village, in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, on November 26, 2018. Two days
later, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the
4-km corridor, expected to be completed by 2019.
Muslim’s heartfelt experience of Papal Mass
Dhabi: As a Muslim from the south Indian state of Kerala, the Papal Mass
attended by Christians, Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths revived fond
memories of my childhood. Growing up with Hindu and Christian friends and
sharing religious festivals and occasions were — and remain to this day — a
common experience in Kerala for a Muslim.
experience of growing up has remained largely unchanged despite the current
turbulent socio-political situation in many other parts of India.
away from my homeland, the Papal Mass was reminiscent of a harmonious life
where love, affection and support was showered on me by neighbours and friends
for whom religion was immaterial in relationships.
moment filled me with hope. Amidst every-day news of conflicts in the Muslim
world, mostly due to religious and sectarian differences, a leading Muslim
nation, my home away from home, has hosted a rare religious ceremony of another
prominent faith. It gives a ray of hope because the Papal Mass reminded me the
anecdotes I heard in religious sermons of hospitality extended by Prophet
Mohammad (PBUH) and Caliph Omar Bin Al Khattab to Christian and Jewish priests.
a nation tries to emulate such good examples from its own religious tradition
and history, it strengthens the hope of the people who believe in such harmony
thought of excitement and jubilation causes introspection in any sensible
person. During the mass on Tuesday, when I looked around, some fellow Muslims
were respectfully following the proceedings. One rightly said: “I did not
understand everything, but I realised that we all pray the same way and to the
words were the answers to my introspection on the validity of excitement and
sense of jubilation about a harmonious future. If it has aroused similar
thoughts and hope among some, I am sure this will spread to many throughout the
affiliated to the FSA reported on Tuesday that all terrorist factions in
Northern Syria, including Tahrir al-Sham and FSA, have been conducting hectic
moves and meetings to unite under single rule as the Damascus army is preparing
to wage a wide-scale assault on the terrorists in Idlib.
added that the terrorist groups have negotiated merging the so-called interim
and salvation governments and dissolving Tahrir al-Sham to start a new army.
the terrorists still continue cooperation with the Turkish army to send new
military convoys to allegedly stabilize conditions at the new military points
in Idlib to prevent the Syrian army's operations in the province.
reports said late last month that Ankara was integrating the terrorist groups
in regions occupied by them in Northern Syria, sources said, adding that the
move contradicts Turkey's undertakings under the Sochi agreement.
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the terrorists as
saying that the Turkish military and intelligence officials have promised the
ringleaders of Ahrar al-Sham, Nour al-Din Zinki and the so-called National
Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist groups that they would merge them along with
Tahrir al-Sham within the framework of a military organization.
added that Turkey had also promised them to set up a parliament and an
autonomous government after dissolution of Tahrir al-Sham in territories
occupied by the militants, adding that Faylaq al-Sham which has recently been
joined by 18 other terrorist groups in Northern Idlib and Western Aleppo was
due to be the political branch of the new organization and Tahrir al-Sham would
take the responsibility for its military wing.
military experts warned that Turkey's measures were against the Sochi agreement
to establish a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria and the Turkish president's
promises to his Russian counterpart in the last week meeting in Moscow, adding
that the move by Ankara has left the Syrian army with the only option of
cleansing Tahrir al-Sham from the demilitarized zone.
reports last month also said that the terrorists of Tahrir al-Sham were
pursuing the new scenario to establish a new integrated military organization
in Idlib after the terrorist group extended its presence in the province in
cooperation with Turkey.
terrorists of the National Liberation Front (NFL) affiliated to the Turkish
Army will soon be dissolved in Tahrir al-Sham as the militant groups have
agreed to form an integrated military structure," the Arabic-language Enab
Baladi affiliated to militants quoted a source close to Ankara-backed Free
Syrian Army (FSA) as saying.
source noted that the scenario started after Tahrir al-Sham's dominance over
most of Idlib's regions.
said that according to the plan, Idlib province will be divided into two
sections in political and military terms; the Ankara-backed Faylaq al-Sham
terrorists will take charge of the political affairs and Tahrir al-Sham will
represent the military wing.
Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted Governor-General of Idlib Fadi
Sa'adoun as saying on Tuesday that a large number of people have called for an
immediate Syrian army operation to liberate Idlib from terrorists' control.
referred to the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the province, and
regretted that the number of detained people, confiscation of properties and
lands and executions against the residents have increased after Tahrir
al-Sham's occupation of Idlib.
said insecurities, explosions, internal clashes among the terrorists have made
life even harder for the local population, noting that the militants have
prevented the civilians from leaving the region whenever the Syrian army
reopened Abu al-Zohour passageway.
field sources said that the terrorists' offensives from the demilitarized zone
against the army points have increased sharply in the past few days, adding
that the army is assessed to be readying to launch a full-scale military
operations to beat the terrorists in the Northwestern province.
reports said last Thursday that the Syrian and Russian armies sent new military
convoys to Northern Syria to launch military operations as they continue to
repel offensives of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at terrorist group and its allies in
Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.
sources in Northern Syria reported that the Syrian army had sent a large
military convoy, consisting of hundreds of forces and heavy military equipment,
from Southern Syria to its positions in Northern Hama.
added that the Russian military forces have also been sent to Southeastern
Idlib near Abu Zohour airbase, noting that Moscow and Damascus are preparing
for operations to cleanse Tahrir al-Sham militants from Northern Syria.
Russian fighter jets and reconnaissance planes are also permanently flying over
the regions occupied by terrorists in Northern Syria.
the Syrian army forces stationed near the town of Mahradah in Northern Hama
targeted the terrorists' moves from the town of Tal al-Sakhar to their military
positions with artillery and missile fire, inflicting heavy tolls on them and
repulsing their heavy attack.
of the central banks of Iran and Iraq on Tuesday signed an agreement on a
payment mechanism which is to facilitate the settlement of Baghdad’s debts to
deal, signed in Baghdad by Iran’s Abdolnasser Hemmati and Iraq’s Ali Mohsen
Al-Allaq, mainly focuses on a payment channel that is to facilitate the
settlement of the Arab country’s debts to Tehran over gas and electricity imports,
two sides inked the agreement following negotiations between members of their
delegations in Baghdad’s Al Rasheed Hotel.
arrival in the Iraqi capital Tuesday, Hemmati told IRNA that his trip was aimed
at removing the obstacles that hinder the settlement of Iraq’s debts to Iranian
we’re witnessing a considerable volume of exports [from Iran to Iraq] in both
public and private sectors, but there are shortcomings in banking and monetary
exchanges, which have created problems for [Iranian] exporters,” he said.
addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods
from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air
value of Iranian imports to Iraq was about $6 billion for the 12 months ending
March 2018, about 15 percent of Iraq’s total imports for 2017.
energy contracts between the two countries also contributed to a volume of
trade of $12 billion last year.
is currently Iraq's top trade partner, having sharply increased their trade
exchanges in recent months despite US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
US government in November re-imposed unilateral sanctions against the Islamic
Republic of Iran and urged all countries in the world to stop doing business
in a bid to meet its energy needs, Baghdad requested the US to exempt the Arab
country from its unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and was
finally granted a 45-day waiver, which was later extended for another
giving the waiver, the US said that Iraq could continue to import natural gas
and energy supplies from Iran as long as it did not pay Iran in US dollars.
the country officially removed the US dollar in trade with Iran, and started
working on the use of local currencies in its economic ties with Tehran.
Tuesday deal with Iraq on facilitating financial exchanges came a few days
after the European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal formally announced
the launch of a long-awaited direct payment mechanism meant to safeguard their
trade ties with Tehran in the face of the "toughest ever" American
months-long preparations, foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain
finally unveiled the mechanism -- officially called the Instrument in Support
of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) -- on Thursday following a summit in Bucharest.
Germany and the United Kingdom, in accordance with their resolute commitment
and continued efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA) endorsed by United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, announce
the creation of INSTEX SAS (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges), a
Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) aimed at facilitating legitimate trade between
European economic operators and Iran," the three foreign ministers said in
a joint statement," they said in a joint statement.
Germany and the UK are the initial shareholders of the INSTEX mechanism for
trade with Iran, which has been registered in the French capital, Paris, with a
capital of 3,000 euros, and will be governed by a German banking expert,
according to AFP and German media.
Bahraini people gear up to mark the eighth anniversary of their uprising
against the ruling Al Khalifah regime on February 14, the country’s main Shia
opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has reaffirmed its
determination to continue peaceful rallies until its demands for political
reforms are met.
which has been dissolved and banned from conducting any activity by the Al
Khalifah rulers, said in a statement on Tuesday that Bahrainis have
increasingly witnessed Manama’s “corruption, tyranny and recklessness” over the
years, Bahrain’s Lulu TV reported.
described the country’s deteriorating situation as “frightening,” and warned of
a bleak future.
years on, the Bahraini movement is still sticking to its demands for political
reforms, and is resolved to keep up its struggle for change, it added.
February 14, peaceful protest rallies have been held regularly, demanding that
the Al Khalifah family relinquish power and let a just system representing all
Bahrainis be established.
protesters have also been complaining against widespread discrimination against
the Shia majority in the kingdom.
has responded to the protests with lethal force, drawing international
criticism. In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
were also deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
authorities have also detained human rights campaigners, broken up major
opposition political parties and revoked the nationality of several activists.
the start of the popular protests, the Manama regime has dissolved key
opposition factions, including al-Wefaq and the National Democratic Action
Society (Wa’ad), arrested prominent opposition figures and rights activists,
and conducted mass trials of civilians at military courts.
activists have lashed out at Manama for the rampant torture and sexual abuse of
political prisoners as well as numerous death sentences, lengthy jail terms,
revocation of citizenships, enforced deportations and hefty financial penalties
against political activists and Shia scholars in the country.
argue that defendants in the mass trials, all Shia Muslims, are victims of
torture and denied access to any legal representation during the investigation
Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly expressed deep concern
over the deterioration of human rights in Bahrain, saying the situation reveals
the regime’s campaign to silence voices of dissent in the sheikhdom.
Qassim’s words ‘road map for future’
Bahrain’s top religious scholars have welcomed last week’s statement by
Bahrain’s top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim, describing it as a “road map” for
the country and its future.
the statement issued last Friday, the senior cleric hailed Bahraini people’s
relentless struggle for “rights, justice and freedom.”
scholars said in a statement on Monday that they had received “with great
passion and eagerness” Sheikh Qassim’s words that contained a “map, a strategy,
foundations…and a signal.”
also called on the people of Bahrain to be fully prepared to mark the
anniversary of the uprising.
authorities stripped the cleric of his citizenship on June 20, 2016. They later
dissolved the Islamic Enlightenment Institution founded by Sheikh Qassim as
well as the opposition al-Risala Islamic Association.
May 21 last year, a Bahraini court convicted Sheikh Qassim of illegal
collection of funds and money laundering, and sentenced him to one year in jail
suspended for three years. It also ordered him to pay $265,266 in fines in a
ruling which sparked widespread demonstrations across the kingdom.
house arrest since May 2017, the Bahraini cleric was flown to Britain in July
2018 for medical treatment.
Bahraini cleric Qassim re-hospitalized in UK
Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifah wrote on Twitter at the time that King
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah had allowed Sheikh Isa Qassim to travel to the United
Kingdom for medical care.
President Donald Trump is expected to declare near-total triumph over the Daesh
group in Syria in his State of the Union address, but US defense officials are
increasingly fearful that the militants are simply biding their time until the
Americans leave the battlefield as planned.
militants have lost territory since Trump’s surprise announcement in December
that he was pulling US forces out, but military officials warn the fighters
could regroup within six months to a year after the Americans leave.
Defense Department watchdog report released Monday warned of just such a
Daesh group “remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined
fighters that ‘could likely resurge in Syria’ absent continued counterterrorism
pressure,” the report from the inspector general said.
the top commander of US forces in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, told a
Senate committee on Tuesday that of the 34,000 square miles of territory that
Daesh once held, it now controls less than 20 square miles.
told the committee that it was important to understand that even though the
territory has been reclaimed, the fight against Daesh and "violent
extremists" was not over and that the "mission has not changed."
coalition's hard-won battlefield gains can only be secured by maintaining a
vigilant offensive against the now largely dispersed and disaggregated ISIS
that retains leaders, fighters, facilitators, resources and the profane
ideology that fuels their efforts," he said, using a term used to describe
said there are now between 1,000 and 1,500 Daesh fighters in the small area
they still control in the southern part of the Euphrates River Valley near the
Iraqi border. The remainder, he said, have "dispersed" and "gone
to ground," suggesting they retain the potential to return.
decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later
slowed down, shocked US allies led to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis and the top envoy to the anti- Daesh coalition, Brett McGurk.
withdrawal will fulfill Trump’s goal of bringing troops home from Syria, but
military leaders have pushed back for months, arguing that Daesh remains a
threat and could regroup. US policy has been to keep troops in place until the
extremists are eradicated.
that Daesh fighters are making strategic maneuvers ahead of a US pullout could
also fuel criticism that Trump is telegraphing his military plans — the same
thing he accused President Barack Obama of doing in Afghanistan.
officials in recent weeks say Daesh has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and
is holding on to fewer than 10 square kilometers of turf in Syria — an area
smaller than New York’s Central Park. In late November and December that figure
had been estimated at between 400 and 600 square kilometers, according to
officials briefed on the matter.
several defense officials said Monday that many fighters fled to ungoverned
spaces and other pockets in the north and in the west and are likely hiding out
until they can regroup.
said in a weekend interview that the caliphate is “almost knocked out.”
at 99 percent right now, we’ll be at 100,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
officials say that Daesh fighters hold only several villages in the Middle
Euphrates River Valley that amount to significantly less than 10 square
kilometers. But they say they don’t expect that area to be cleared of militants
for another several weeks, at best.
say that overall, there are about 2,000 Daesh militants in Syria.
Defense Department watchdog report warned that even with the Daesh forces on
the run, the group “is still able to coordinate offensives and
counter-offensives, as well as operate as a decentralized insurgency.”
report, which covers October through December 2018, also includes a classified
section that was provided to Congress and includes a more detailed Pentagon
assessment on the impact of the troops’ withdrawal and the status of Daesh
militants and other foreign fighters in Syria.
to the report, US Central Command believes that Daesh fighters will continue to
conduct “opportunistic attacks” on US troops as they withdraw. And it says, “If
Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately
addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria it is very
likely that Daesh will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence
and territorial control.”
Command said that the Daesh group is “regenerating key functions and
capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria,” but unless there is sustained
counterterrorism pressure, Daesh militants “could likely resurge in Syria
within six to twelve months and regain limited territory” in the Middle
Euphrates River Valley.
Trump’s order to withdraw, American officials maintain that the goal remains
the “enduring defeat” of the Daesh group and are moving ahead with a long-planned
meeting of top diplomats from the 79-member US-led anti- Daesh coalition this
week. The aim of the conference is to recommit the coalition to that aim and
ensure that the departure of US troops does not overly complicate that mission.
did PAS cut ties with DAP? For being ‘enemy of Islam’, Hadi claims
LUMPUR, Feb 6 — Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang today sought to explain why PAS
ended its alliance with DAP some years back, and in doing so accused the latter
party of being an “enemy of Islam.”
a Facebook post, the PAS president said this was also why the Islamist party
cut ties with its former members and leaders who have since left the party and
allowed “non-Muslims” to lead them.
cut off its relations with parties that showed it is an enemy of Islam and
challenged Islamic leadership like DAP and others.
same goes with PAS members and leaders who left the party because their cause
is lost and it is no longer in accordance with Islamic principles, they fled
from the Islamic cause and showed their attitude of allowing a non-Muslim, who
are clear enemies of Islam and its people, to lead them so they can obtain power
and position,” Abdul Hadi wrote.
said that PAS had made the decision according to its Ulama Syura Council which
was based on the Quran and sunnah but also took note that Islam recognises
other religion and the need to cooperate with non-believers.
Abdul Hadi also said that cooperation with non-believers are based on necessity
and things can change according to the situation and whether the conditions are
met or else it becomes prohibited.
and PAS were once allies in the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat, and before that
My daughter-in-law, many foster uncles are Chinese
LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang touted today several of his ethnic
Chinese relatives, as he explained his ties to the community in a Chinese New
Year address video.
president of Islamist party PAS pointed out that he has an ethnic Chinese
daughter-in-law, and many others from the community adopted by his grandfather
— whom he regards as his blood uncles.
of my children-in-law is an ethnic Chinese, and when New Year arrives and she
holds feasts, I would attend to celebrate one of my in-laws from the
community,” said Hadi.
daughter-in-law in question is Aisyah Lim, the wife of one of his sons, Yusuf
2016, then PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan had insisted that Hadi “cannot
be racist” as he has a daughter-in-law who is Chinese.
said his grandfather had not only fostered those from the Chinese community,
but had also given shelter to Chinese refugees during World War II by hiding
them in his farm.
grandfather had foster children from the Chinese community, whether they
practice Islam or not, who became part of my family. I see them as uncles, and
they see me as one of their children,” he said.
shows that our relationship with the Chinese is not new,” the Marang MP added.
the video, Hadi also stressed on the freedom of worship and said that it is
forbidden to force someone into converting into Islam.
also highlighted racial and religious harmony, but warned non-Muslims against
practising anything prohibited by Islam publicly.
things that are prohibited by our religion but permitted by theirs we cannot
interfere, provided that they care for our sensitivities. Don’t do it openly,
and must take care of the relationship between us,” he said.
Feb 5 — The Melaka Islamic Religious Council (MAIM) said today it regards the
allegation by the opposition pertaining to the issue of mosque management in
the state as defamatory with malicious intent to cast doubts on its credibility
as a religious institution.
deputy chairman, Datuk Mohd Sofi Abdul Wahab, said MAIM strongly dismissed the
allegation by state PAS commissioner Kamaruddin Sidek in his talk on
‘Cooperation of PAS and UMNO in defending Islam and Malays’ at Kampung Pulau,
Durian Tunggal here, on Feb 2, which was also aired ‘live’ on Facebook.
also refuted Kamaruddin’s claim that the institution of mosques in the state
was no longer ‘functioning’ and devoid of any activity after the Pakatan
Harapan government took over the state administration about nine months ago.
is a baseless allegation as all activities are still being carried out as usual
and the mosque committees were functioning until last Dec 31.
the process of appointing new mosque committee members is expected only to be
fully finalised at the latest by Feb 20, and, in the meantime, the Syarak
officers are taking over the task,” he told a press conference at the Melaka
International Trade Centre (MITC) in Ayer Keroh.
Sofi, who is also the State Public Works, Transport and Public Utilities
Committee chairman, stressed that no discussion had been held regarding the
claim that MAIM would take over the collection of mosques in the state.
matters should not be politicised ... as if MAIM is distrustful (fearing
irregularities) and wants to restrict the mosques from organising religious
want to set the record straight as the opposition seems to have raised a
negative perception deliberately and caused confusion among the people when the
state government has never held any discussion on the issue (of taking over),”
he said, six reports had been lodged for the police to investigate the
involvement of Kamaruddin and others in the politically-motivated statement.
freedom of speech allowed by the government today should not be abused by the
opposition to spread baseless allegations for the purpose of dividing the
community,” said Mohd Sofi, who is also the Durian Tunggal assemblyman.
round of Philippine Muslim autonomy poll imminent
second round of a plebiscite that granted the Philippines' Bangsamoro the
long-awaited comprehensive autonomy will take place on Wednesday for its
is a collective term for Filipino Muslims living on an island and archipelago
south of the Philippines.
of the Muslims in the region had for centuries was taken away from them by the
Spanish, who occupied and started to Christianize the Philippines in the 16th
century. After Spanish defeat at the hands of Americans in 1898, the Moros
became under U.S. invasion.
Bangsamoro people, who were already deprived of freedom during the U.S.
occupation, also faced harsh times due the Christian settlement policy of the
Manila government, when Americans left the region to the Philippine Christians
after managing it until 1946.
then numerous talks were held between the Philippine government and the Muslim
groups, yet they failed to yield any result.
the course of the issue had changed when Rodrigo Duterte became Philippine’s
president in 2016.
speed up the process that started in 2012, when then-President Benigno Aquino
III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim
signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).
FAB constituted a roadmap for a final settlement which allowed for an
autonomous region administered by minority Muslims in the south of the
predominantly Catholic country.
MILF and the Manila government also signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the
Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014, paving the way for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
2014 deal brought the 17-years of negotiations to a close and ended a
decades-old armed conflict in the country’s south.
Philippines' landmark BOL was officially ratified on Jan. 25 following the
first round of the plebiscite win on Jan. 21 on granting comprehensive autonomy
to Moro Muslims.
of the BOL means the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the
southern Philippines will be replaced with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
than 1.54 million people voted Yes, which corresponds to over 85 percent, to approve
the BOL, while some 190,000 voted down the law, according to the official
first voting included the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, and the
island provinces of Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Sulu as well as the cities of
Cotabato and Isabela.
second phase of the BOL will be held in six towns -- Tagoloan, Balo-i, Pantar,
Munai, Nunungan and Tangcal -- in northwestern Lanao del Norte and in 67
residential areas in North Cotabato.
will be asked whether they want to join the newly-formed BARMM.
second phase will ensure a larger BARMM area, and once the phase is completed,
an interim administration will be formed to take the region to the elections.
Bangsamoro Organic Law
the law, courts of Islamic law will open in the region, and the Philippines’
central government will transfer its administrative authorities in Mindanao to
the Bangsamoro government.
waters in the Bangsamoro region will be simultaneously managed by the national
government and Bangsamoro government.
autonomous government will be responsible for the management of energy
Muslims will be free in their internal affairs, while they will be bound to the
Philippines in foreign affairs, however they will have some flexibility.
corruption trial of suspended Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf began to unfold like
a soap opera after his close companion, Steffy Burase, was grilled on the stand
about allegedly receiving a portion of the money the former had allegedly
former leader of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) who had successfully
transitioned into a provincial leader, Irwandi fell from grace when the
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named him a graft suspect for allegedly
accepting Rp 500 million (US$35,848) in bribes related to an infrastructure
a former model, denied in a hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court on Monday
that she had used some of the money to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for umrah
(minor haj) with Irwandi prior to their planned wedding. She had just converted
to Islam at the time.
added that she had gone on umrah at the encouragement of Irwandi’s aide, Teuku
Saiful Bahri. She further conceded that she and the suspended governor were
close but doubted she would marry him as he was still married to Darwati A. Agani.
went on umrah with money I borrowed from Saiful, which had been transferred to
Fadhil. I don’t know where he got the money from,” Steffy told KPK
prosecutor Ali Fikri.
was referring to Teuku Fadhilatul Amri, Saiful’s nephew and who had given his
testimony prior to her.
and Saiful were present in the hearing. Another witness in the court included
non-active governor’s aide Yusrizal.
also claimed that she and Irwandi had called off their wedding because of
to the KPK’s indictment, Steffy and Irwandi are already married.
year, Aceh, the country’s only province that implements sharia, received Rp 8
trillion in special autonomy funds to be used for its development. About Rp 108
million was allocated to Bener Meriah regency.
and another Irwandi aide, Hendri Yuzal, allegedly directed Aceh’s procurement
unit to fund a number of projects in the regency with the special autonomy
stands accused of accepting Rp 500 million from Bener Meriah Regent Ahmadi —
who has also been named as a suspect — as part of a Rp 1.5 billion “commitment
fee” related to an infrastructure project in the regency.
to KPK’s indictment, some of the money transferred to Irwandi was allegedly
used to buy uniforms and medals for the 2018 Aceh Marathon, a program initiated
told the court she had only designed the program but had not handled purchases.
was not supposed to handle the event’s procurements. However, the sports agency
asked me to buy the clothes and medals as its officials were not familiar with
the items necessary for the event,” she said.
added that she had ended up asking for financial assistance from the governor.
on her relationship with Irwandi, she explained that she had met him in Moscow
in August 2017 during a Festival Indonesia event, where she was promoting the
country's traditional woven fabric.
the meeting, I told Irwandi that I was interested in promoting something from
Aceh abroad. He later asked me if I could help promote Sail Sabang 2017,” she
further asked her if she could create an event that would promote Aceh’s
tourism, she said.
that time, my mind was on the marathon,” she said, adding that Irwandi had told
her to propose the Rp 13 billion sport tourism event to the youth and sports
An Indonesian anti-terror squad has been sent to the Philippines to help
identify suicide bombers who attacked a Catholic church on Jolo island, killing
police spokesman Insp. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal told Arab News that three members of
the Detachment 88 anti-terror unit and three officials from the national
counterterrorism agency (BNPT), the Foreign Ministry and the national
intelligence agency (BIN) left for Manila on Tuesday.
Interior Minister Eduardo Ano had earlier claimed that two Indonesians, a man
identified only by his alias Abu Huda and his Indonesian wife, had carried out
the suicide bombings on Jan. 27.
Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister Wiranto on Monday cautioned the Philippines
against making hasty, “one-sided” claims while the investigation was underway.
are still determining who the attackers were. There are still a lot of
possibilities. So don’t rashly judge that they were Indonesians,” Wiranto said,
calling on authorities to wait for the results of the investigation.
Harry Sarundajang, Indonesia’s ambassador to the Philippines, said the embassy
had been told by the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command that the military
had been unable to identify the attackers.
have asked the Philippines national police for more information,” the envoy
said. “They haven’t released any DNA test results or CCTV footage from the
crime scene to back the claims that Indonesian nationals were the attackers.
can’t be certain that there were Indonesians involved in the bombing.”
Chaidar, a terrorism analyst from Universitas Malikussaleh in Aceh, told Arab
News that he is certain the attackers were Indonesians, despite the
government has been denying that suicide bomb attacks carried out by a group of
family members, such as the attacks in Surabaya last year, could be replicated
elsewhere,” he said, referring to the deadly strikes that targeted churches and
the East Java capital last May.
he said it is unclear if the bombers were part of the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah
(JAD), which was behind the Surabaya attacks. The JAD, a pro-Daesh Indonesian
militant group, also carried out a fatal bomb attack in central Jakarta in
is also still unclear where they were radicalized. But I believe they were not
from Poso and part of the eastern Indonesia mujahideen. It is not the group’s
signature style to carry out such an attack,” Chaidar said.
number of Indonesian militants are believed to have been involved in the Marawi
battle with Maute militants in 2017.
Francis: Abuse by priests and bishops likely still ongoing
two weeks before the Vatican hosts a summit to address abuses in the Catholic
church, Pope Francis has admitted sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy is an
to reporters on his flight back to Rome from Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis said the
Church was addressing the widespread problem, but that it was still going on.
is true… there have been priests and even bishops who have done this. I think
it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have
become aware of it,” he told reporters.
the church has been embroiled in child abuse scandals carried out by the
clergy, the widespread problem of abuse within the church has been less
February 21 and 24, the presidents of the episcopal conferences from over 100
countries will gather at the Vatican to discuss how to tackle abuse.
many hoped it would lead to a church-wide procedure for handing members of the
Church who fail to act on reports of wrongdoing, Pope Francis himself has
sought to taper aspirations.
expectations need to be deflated,” Pope Francis said as he was flying back from
Panama in late January.
January 1, Pope Francis sent a letter to the US Catholic Church in which he
spoke plainly about the issue.
well as causing untold pain to the victims and their families, he said “the
Church’s credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins
and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal them.
mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts,
enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of
relationships that today we are called to heal and restore,” he added.
said that combatting the “culture of abuse … urgently demands of us a renewed
and decisive approach to resolving conflicts”.
2018 cases of abuse against nuns were reported in South America, Europe, Africa
and Asia. At the time, the Vatican declined to comment. Women were reportedly
forced to bear children that their assaulters, usually priests, refused to
the pontiff was visibly taken aback by the question, he was candid about the
of inertia regarding this issue are being replaced by people coming forward.
November, the organisation representing women’s Catholic orders around the
world denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that helped cover up and
perpetuate abuse. The International Union of Superiors General urged nuns to
come forward and report incidents to the police.
2018, a nun who had been assaulted by a priest during confession said for years
she pretended the violent incident hadn’t taken place. For two decades she
opened a great wound,” she told the Associated Press.
week, Lucetta Scaraffia, editor in chief of Women Church World – the women’s
magazine of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano – wrote: “The abuse of
women results in procreation and so is at the origin of the scandal of imposed
abortions and children not recognised by priests.”
by the growing #MeToo movement, more nuns have spoken out against the abuses.
more be done? Yes,” the Pope said. “Do we have the will? Yes. But it is a path
that we have already begun.”
Sunday evening, under a rainy Emirati sky, the Alitalia Shepherd One landed in
Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the country’s leaders and religious elders, before
flying back to the Vatican on Tuesday.
was a brief trip, but long enough for the Pope to form a favourable impression
of the UAE. “I saw a modern country,” he said on the flight back to Rome. “It’s
modern and welcoming of so many people.”
his last day in the Gulf state, Pope Francis celebrated mass in front of
150,000 people. One young girl surprised the Pope and onlookers when she
breached security to approach the white Popemobile and deliver a letter to the
brave one!” Pope Francis exclaimed. “I liked it, you have to be a brave one to
the Zayed Sports City Stadium, against the backdrop of a towering cross and
statue of the Virgin Mary, the pontiff underscored his message of unity. “Take
care of each other, there are no first and second-class Christians,” he told
later he was escorted to the presidential airport to board the Etihad flight
UAE, he told reporters aboard, is a nation that looks to the future.
educate their children by looking forward," he said. "They’re always
looking for new things. I even heard someone say: ‘One day we’ll cease to have
oil, we’re readying ourselves for that day.’”
his advanced age and grueling schedule, Pope Francis entertained the press
corps for 45 minutes during the flight.
questions ranged from his ties to the Muslim community to the dangers of war.
extensive answers and trademark smile at times gave way to weariness, and the
satisfaction of a successful trip seemingly replaced by sporadic expressions of
years into his papacy, the 82-year-old pontiff has been relentlessly criticised
by conservative members of the Church for his liberal leanings and reformist
by his spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, Francis oscillated between humourous
remarks and serious analyses, including on the wars that have ravaged regional
countries like Yemen and Syria.
only one great danger at the moment – destruction, war, hate among us,” he
said. “And if we’re unable, among believers, to give each other a hand… our
faith will be defeated.”
Human Fraternity document signed by the Catholic leader and the Grand Imam of
Al Azhar Ahmed Al Tayeb on Monday night was a public and historic step toward
greater religious cooperation.
document, explained the Pope, was born from faith in God. “He is a father to
everyone, he is the father of peace and he condemns every destruction, every
guidelines to the document on peace and coexistence had been worked on for over
in an increasingly hostile world, critics of the Pope have viewed his trip to
Abu Dhabi with scepticism, accusing him of being manipulated by Muslim
not only by Muslims,” the Pope said. “They accuse me of being instrumentalised
by everyone. Even journalists!”
Pope was emphatic though that the guidelines drawn up by Dr Al Tayeb and
himself were faithful to the values of the Vatican Church. “The document was
made in the spirit of the Vatican,” he said.
his trip symbolised a step forward, 50 years in the making, progress towards
religious harmony would not end there, he said. “It must develop.”
Francis also recounted the private meeting held on Monday afternoon between
members of the Council of Elders and himself inside the Sheikh Zayed Grand
was very touching, he said. “They were of various cultures, this indicates the
openness of this country to dialogue.”
40 Norwegian children were born or taken to live inside ISIS’ so-called
‘Caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq, security services said.
30 Norwegian men and women remain in Syria, another 30 have died and 40 have
escaped according to officials. Only a handful of these have returned to
Norway, Martin Bernsen, senior advisor to the Norwegian Police Security Service
(PST), told Dagbladet. The fate of the 40 children, almost all who were born in
ISIS territory, is unclear Mr Bernsen added.
few of the 30 still active “foreign warriors” in the Levant region are expected
to make it back to Norway. However, of those that are alive, some remain in
contact with family members in Norway via social media. The primary threat from
the 30 “lies in the opportunity they have to encourage” sympathisers to carry
out attacks in Norway, a report released by the PST on Monday said.
added, the “most serious terrorist threat in 2019 will still come from extreme
officials expect any terrorist incident is likely to be carried out by only one
or two people using a vehicle, firearm or explosive device – as has been the
trend across Europe.
who travelled to Syria or Iraq did so in 2013 and were described as a mixture
of Norwegian converts and “multi-ethnic” people. The last time officials believe
a Norwegian tried to join ISIS was in autumn 2017 as the terror group’s
territory dwindled. The report warned, however, that extremist propaganda was
still accessible, mainly through encrypted means, and would therefore continue
to pose a lasting threat.
politicians are increasingly uneasy about the roughly 800 ISIS foreign fighters
held in the Syrian jails of US-backed forces. The announcement by president
Donald Trump of his intention to withdraw American forces from the county has
led to fears foreign extremists could escape and plot attacks against their
reports said that 130 French suspected ISIS members in Syria would be
repatriated to face trial after the US development.
Norway’s most famous ISIS recruits were the Norwegian-Somalian Juma sisters who
left for Syria in 2013. Their father, Sadiq, would track them down in ISIS
territory in a futile attempt to convince his daughters to return home with
has been largely spared the fate of its European neighbours, many of whom have
suffered from a devastating series of ISIS-inspired terror attacks. In January
a Russian man was arrested after allegedly trying to stab a woman at an Oslo
Komotini looks like other Greek cities, but there is a major difference: it has
nine mosques whereas there are none in Athens.
northeastern city has existed from the second century and was captured by
Ottoman-era Turkey in the 14th. It was an important hub connecting the capital
city of Constantinople, as Istanbul was then known, with the European part of
it is home to nearly 30,000 Muslims, many of whom complain of marginalisation.
has for centuries had a testy relationship with Turkey, with a slew of disputes
ranging from Aegean sea issues to the long-running Cyprus problem.
minority Muslims and their Greek compatriots cohabit but each side lives in its
own corner,” said Mustafa Mustafa, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Alexis
Tsipras’s party, speaking in this frontier city of some 60,000 people.
visits Turkey on Tuesday in a bid to improve relations.
deteriorated in the 1960s and until 1990 many villages in the area were ringed
by military barricades,” Mustafa, who is in his sixties, said.
could not access our properties or get a driving licence,” he said.
are being used’
would like to be a bridge of peace and friendship and not act as a brake.”
issue of the Muslim minority is one of the sensitive areas in ties between the
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a historic trip to Greece in 2017 — the
first by a Turkish leader in 65 years — visited the Thrace region and called
for the respect of the Muslim minority, railing against “discrimination” by the
sad that we are being used,” said a young Muslim woman, speaking on condition
are normal people like us who are paying the price of politics,” she said of
residents of Komotini, which lies about 100 kilometres from the border.
are up to 150,000 Muslims in Greece’s western Thrace region, who were given
minority status after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne following the end of a war
between Turkey and Greece which rang the death knell for the Ottoman empire.
treaty provided for the application of sharia law to settle family disputes and
the use of Turkish in educational institutions.
presence of a Turkish consulate in the region adds to tensions.
would be better for everyone if the consulate stops serving the interests of
the Turkish foreign ministry,” Komotini’s mayor Giorgos Petridis said.
characterises this population is a plural identity,” said Thalia Dragona from
the Athens National University.
new generation is educated and wants to break free from being slotted,” she
young Muslim recounted how her family was criticised for putting their children
in Greek schools, saying: “In their eyes, we had become traitors.”
Molla Sali, who is in her seventies, lived in Komotini before relocating to
Istanbul. She had inherited her husband’s house under Greek law but her
sisters-in-law contested the decision, evoking sharia.
European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour in December.
decision clarifies the situation since it makes it impossible to apply Muslim
law on European citizens,” her lawyer Yanis Ktistakis said.
far-right leader Geert Wilders' ex-ally converts to Islam
Dutch former far-right MP and right-hand man of anti-Islam politician Geert
Wilders has set tongues wagging in the Netherlands after revealing that he has
converted to Islam.
Party (PVV) leader Wilders compared the conversion of ex-ally Joram van
Klaveren to a "vegetarian working in a slaughterhouse", media reports
said on Tuesday.
years, Joram van Klaveren fought a relentless campaign in the Lower House
against Islam in the Netherlands as a legislator for Wilders' party.
the time, the "hardliner pleaded for banning the burqa and minarets,
saying 'we don't want any Islam, or at least as little as possible in the
Netherlands'," the daily tabloid Algemeen Dagblad (AD) said.
the 40-year-old Van Klaveren said he had changed his mind halfway through
writing an anti-Islam book.
work "became a refutation of objections non-Muslims have" against the
religion, he told the respected NRC daily on Tuesday.
everything I wrote up to that point is true, and I believe that, then I am a de
facto Muslim," he told the NRC.
Klaveren converted to Islam on October 26 last year, the NRC added in the
interview piece ahead of the release of Van Klaveren's book titled Apostate:
From Christianity to Islam in the Time of Secular Terror.
former politician, who grew up in a Protestant Christian environment, said of
his conversion that he "has been searching for a long time."
feels a bit like a religious homecoming for me," he told Dutch newspapers.
Klaveren could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.
in a slaughterhouse'
a story... it's like a vegetarian going to work in a slaughterhouse. I have no
words," Wilders told RTL television news.
expect a lot but I didn't see this coming."
Klaveren split with Wilders in 2014 after the PVV leader's controversial
comments asking supporters whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in
your city and the Netherlands".
was found guilty on discrimination charges in 2016. The sentence is currently
Klaveren went on to form his own far-right party, called "For
Netherlands" (VNL) but left politics after failing to win a single seat in
the 2017 elections.
this really isn't a PR stunt to promote his book, then it really is an
extraordinary choice for somebody who had a lot to say about Islam,"
former VNL cofounder Jan Roos told the AD.
Bouharrou, who serves on the Board of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands,
praised Van Klaveren.
is great when somebody who has been so critical of Islam... realises that it is
not so bad or perverse," he told the AD.
is brave that he's prepared to do it in public," Bouharrou said.
five percent of the Dutch population of 17 million people, or some 850,000, are
Muslim, according to the Dutch Central Statistics Bureau.
Wilders' objections, the religion is growing, with experts expecting the number
to double by 2050.
European Union and the Arab League have held a ministerial meeting, but failed
to release a joint statement amid a lack of consensus on ongoing conflicts and
issues in the Middle East region.
meeting took place in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Monday, with the aim of
making preparations for the first ever summit between the EU and the Arab
League due in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh on February 24-25.
at a press conference following the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Federica
Mogherini said “common ground was there on 90-95 percent of issues.”
also noted that the two sides shared the same positions regarding the support
for a political transition in Syria, the so-called two-state solution to the
Middle East conflict, the recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of
both Israel and Palestine, and finding solutions to the crises gripping Yemen
EU and the Arab League ministers further discussed ways to strengthen economic
cooperation, trade and investments as well as opportunities for young people
League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, for his part, stressed that there
were “more complications on the European side rather than the Arab side.”
Mogherini disagreed with him, saying, “I would say rather the contrary.”
during the ministerial meeting, Aboul Gheit urged European countries to
recognize the state of Palestine within the pre-1967 boundaries with its
capital in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
further praised Europe for its humanitarian and financial assistance to
Palestinians provided through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
security minister has revealed that the ISIS hostage John Cantlie is alive and
remains in the terror group’s custody, the first confirmation of the status of
the photographer who was kidnapped in 2012.
Wallace, the Home Office minister, told a briefing that he would not go into
details about Mr Cantlie’s whereabouts, more than six years after the 48-year
old was captured in Syria.
Wallace named Mr Cantlie as one of an unspecified number hostages as he
reiterated official British policy that the UK does not negotiate or pay
ransoms in kidnapping situations.
the statement was impromptu it is likely that it is based on credible
intelligence available to the UK authorities. The news of the minister’s
comments led the Free John Cantlie campaign to express its hope that the
journalist’s ordeal would be resolved.
are aware of the current news circulating that John Cantlie is alive, whilst
this is not substantiated at present, we continue to hope and pray that this
turns out to be true,” it said on Twitter. “Thank you for your continued
Cantlie’s fate has occupied minds as the footprint of ISIS territory has shrank
inexorable. Patrick Shanahan, the acting US Defence Secretary, has said the
total collapse of ISIS territorial control could be just weeks away and other
western officials have said it has lost almost all the land it once held.
have been reported sightings of Mr Cantlie within the past year emerging from
coalition allies and others. Most recently the Syrian Democratic Forces
militia, said Mr Cantlie had been spotted in eastern Syria according to news
alongside the American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by his captors
in 2014, Mr Cantlie was forced into ISIS propaganda videos. In these he
appeared on camera wearing orange jumpsuits. In one of the videos he appeared
in Mosul, Iraq, standing in the rubble of the bomb-damaged city.
most recent appearance came in 2016 in a video thought to have been shot in
long disappearance has seen the Cantlie family appeal to his captors to return
the correspondent to his native country. Mr Cantlie’s elderly father Paul made
an emotional plea for his son’s welfare in 2014, just weeks before he died.
Tariq Jameel reveals why he supports Imran Khan
Renowned religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel has finally revealed why he
supports Prime Minister Imran Khan so much.
a student asked Maulana Tariq Jameel about this, he said that Imran Khan is the
only leader in the history of Pakistan who wants to make the country a
Medina-like welfare state. Nobody had the vision this for Pakistan and this is
why he won my heart, he said.
further said that although he has been close to former prime minister Nawaz
Sharif as well, he never saw somebody so concerned for the country like Imran
lot of things used to come under discussion whenever he called me for a meeting
but Imran Khan was the first person who called me to talk about Pakistan, he
said. The religious scholar shared that he saw pure enthusiasm for Pakistan in
said that Imran Khan gave him his personal number to call him whenever he finds
him doing something wrong. When Maulana was asked about the opposition he is
facing over his statement, he said that they are all my people and I pray for
of expression is a right in every healthy society and I respect it,” he added.
a special video message to the nation, Maulana Tariq Jameel had said that Imran
Khan is the first prime minister in the history of Pakistan wishing to
transform Pakistan into Medina-like welfare state. Therefore, I appeal the
entire nation to fully extend support to PM Khan, Maulana Tariq Jameel had
sends 92 TLP workers on judicial remand
local court here on Tuesday sent 92 workers of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan
(TLP) to jail on judicial remand, a private TV channel reported.
workers had been arrested a day earlier for trying to block an armoured vehicle
carrying party chief Khadim Rizvi following his appearance before an
anti-terrorism court (ATC).
had been brought a day earlier to the ATC for the hearing of a case registered
against him and five other party leaders for damaging public property during
violent protests against a Supreme Court verdict that acquitted Asia Bibi in a
high-profile blasphemy case last year.
Magistrate Ahmed Nadeem Niazi heard the case regarding the 92 workers at Cantt
Kachhery as the ATC was shut due to the public holiday on account of Kashmir
case was registered against the 92 workers at the Race Course Police Station
under sections 290, 291, 147, 149, 186, 353 and 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code
(PPC), Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Section 16 of the Maintenance of
Public Order (MPO) and Section 6 of the Punjab Sound Systems Regulation Act,
Three terrorists have been killed in an intelligence-based operation in the
Gulkuch area of South Waziristan district, Inter-Services Public Relations
(ISPR) announced on Tuesday.
to an ISPR statement, “Sub-machine guns, hand-grenades, communication equipment
and local currency was also recovered in the operation.”
one terrorist was killed by the security forces during an intelligence-based
operation in the Spinwam tehsil of North Waziristan.
grenades, SMGs, magazines, and communication equipment were recovered during
the operation, the military’s media wing had said.
the ISPR said that terrorist activity was foiled in Balochistan’s Qilla
Saifullah and Kahan districts. Weapons and ammunition were also recovered from
the suspected terrorists.
another incident, the Frontier Corps conducted an operation in the suburbs of
Qila Saifullah and Kahan and foiled terrorist activities aimed to “sabotage
peace” in Balochistan. Arms and ammunition were recovered during the operation.
four security officials were martyred and many others were wounded while
staving off a terrorist attack on a training centre of a paramilitary force in
Supreme Court on Wednesday wrapped up a suo motu case of the 2017 Faizabad
sit-in staged by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and directed the
government, law enforcers, intelligence agencies and the army's media wing to
operate within their mandate.
Nov 22, 2018 a two-judge SC bench comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice
Musheer Alam had reserved its judgement and closed the hearing of the case that
was initiated on a suo motu on Nov 21, 2017 ─ after dishing out severe criticism to the
attorney general, media regulator and other
bench today did not read out the verdict in court and told reporters that a
written copy of it would be uploaded onto the Supreme Court website.
parties' rights subject to 'reasonable' legal restrictions
judgement states that any person who issues an edict or fatwa that "harms
another or puts another in harm's way must be criminally prosecuted under the
Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and/or the Prevention of
Electronic Crimes Act, 2016."
court notes that citizens have the right to form and be members of political
parties, subject to "reasonable restrictions" imposed by the law.
citizen and political party retains the right to peaceful assembly and protest,
as long as it complies with the "reasonable" legal restrictions
"in the interest of public order".
right to assembly and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it
infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free
movement and to hold and enjoy property."
court asserted that "protesters who obstruct people's right to use roads
and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the
law and held accountable".
judgement notes that the responsibilities of the Election Commission of
Pakistan (ECP) ─
as laid out in the Constitution ─
must be fulfilled.
The court stated that the ECP must proceed in accordance with law against
political parties violating the law.
law is most certainly not cosmetic as contended on behalf of the ECP," the
order said, adding: "All political parties have to account for the source
of their funds in accordance with the law."
must be impartial, fair
judgement noted that the state's failure to "prosecute those at the
highest echelons of the government who were responsible for the murder and
attempted murder of peaceful citizens on the streets" of Karachi during the
May 2007 lawyers' protests "set a bad precedent and encouraged others to
resort to violence to achieve their agendas".
state must always act impartially and fairly. The law is applicable to all,
including those who are in government and institutions must act independently
of those in government," the court asserted.
court also directed the federal and provincial governments "to monitor
those advocating hate, extremism and terrorism and prosecute the perpetrators
in accordance with law".
agencies, ISPR must not exceed mandates
judgement said that Inter-Services Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau,
Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Public Relations "must not
exceed their respective mandates".
cannot curtail freedom of speech and expression and do not have the authority
to interfere with broadcasts and publications, in the management of
broadcasters/publishers and in the distribution of newspapers."
judgement said that intelligence agencies "should monitor activities of
all those who threaten the territorial integrity of the country, and all those
who undermine the security of the people and the State by resorting to or
added that it would be appropriate to enact laws "which clearly stipulate
the respective mandates of the intelligence agencies" in order to
"best ensure transparency and the rule of law".
Constitution emphatically prohibits members of the armed forces from engaging
in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a political party,
faction or individual. The Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of
Defence and the respective chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are
directed to initiate action against the personnel under their command who are found
to have violated their oath," the court said.
court directed the police and other law enforcement agencies to develop
standard operating procedures and plans on "how best to handle rallies,
protests and dharnas, and ensure that such plans/procedures are flexible enough
to attend to different situations".
is clarified that, though the making of such plans/procedures is not within the
jurisdiction of this court, we expect that in the maintenance of law and order
every effort will be taken to avoid causing injury and loss of life," the
broadcasts and regulation
judgement stated that cable operators who had stopped or interrupted the
broadcasts of licensed broadcasters "must be proceeded against by the
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) in accordance with the
it added, "If this was done on the behest of others then Pemra should
report those so directing the cable operators to the concerned
the court said that broadcasters who broadcast "messages advocating or
inciting the commission of an offence" are in violation of the Pemra
Ordinance and the terms of their licenses, and must be proceeded against by the
watchdog "in accordance with law".
judgement also warns those "spreading messages through electronic
means" that statements that "advocate or incite the commission of an
offence are liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes
court took up the case after taking notice of the traffic congestion arising
out of the sit-in and summoned a report from the ministries of interior and
defence, Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
initiating the case, the court regretted the use of abusive, filthy and
provocative language by the leaders of the sit-in and held that this tended to
pictures: Islamabad standoff intensifies as security forces, protesters clash
legal observers believe that in its judgement the bench may come up with
certain guidelines for ensuring that normal life of citizens was not disrupted
due to such protests and about the role of the law enforcement agencies and the
issue cropped up when, during the hearing of a case in 2017, the same bench
noticed an application seeking adjournment on behalf of senior counsel Mohammad
Ibrahim Satti, who was representing petitioner Sher Jamal.
application for adjournment was moved by Advocate on Record Syed Rifaqat
Hussain Shah on the grounds that the counsel could not reach the courthouse
because he lived in the area that had been blocked off due to the sit-in.
more: How ordinary citizens make their way through Faizabad during the sit-in
this, the court sought the assistance of Deputy Attorney General Sohail
Mehmood, who was in attendance, and asked him whether highways and roads could
replied that he himself was facing tremendous difficulties in reaching the
court. He had left his home early in the morning (at about 6.30am) to reach the
court in time, he added.
the order that followed, the apex court regretted that Islamabad and Rawalpindi
were being held hostage by a few ‘miscreants’ while the state functionaries
appeared to be negotiating with them rather than clearing the way for the
public who were being denied access to courts, schools, and places of work,
court said that people taking part in the sit-in and their leaders were
ostensibly advocating a religious cause but had not moved the courts, including
the Federal Shariat Court. They were taking the law into their hands and were
sowing divisions (‘tafarruqu’) and differences (‘ikhtalafu’) against the clear
proclamations by Almighty Allah in Surah Ash-Shura (42) ayat 13 and Surah
Al-Imran (3) ayat 103 and ayat 105.
reserving its ruling for a final judgement, the Supreme Court had also asked
Attorney General Anwar Mansoor to furnish a report on behalf of the federal
government about the mandate of ISI.
directives were issued when a sealed envelope was produced before the court,
the contents of which were not even shared with DAG Mehmood.
Isa then regretted that the premier spying agency had only enclosed a copy of
one of the apex court’s orders in the sealed envelope.
attorney general, however, said he would furnish the reply in writing, which
should be treated as classified. That report was later submitted to the court.
leaders of the TLP were taken into custody by the authorities after they
launched another sit-in, this time against the backdrop of Oct 31, 2018,
Supreme Court judgement of acquitting blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi.
anti-terrorism court in Lahore has already extended till Feb 8 the judicial
remand of TLP leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who is facing several charges for damaging
public property and vandalism during violent protests staged after the apex
court’s judgement in the blasphemy case.
life in Islamabad was disrupted for 20 days (from Oct 2 to Nov 27, 2017) when
protesters belonging to religiopolitical parties ─ including the TLP, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya
Rasool Allah (TLYRA), the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, and the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek ─ occupied the Faizabad Interchange which
connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree
Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.
agitators believe that during the passage of Elections Act 2017, the
Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath was deliberately modified as part of a larger conspiracy.
The amendment to the oath was deemed a 'clerical error' by the government and
was subsequently rectified through an Act of Parliament.
tourist slams Pakistani media for portraying ‘negative image of country’
a video that is making rounds on social media, an American tourist who is
currently in Pakistan criticised the local media for portraying a “negative
image of the country” to the outsiders.
tourist who was seen speaking to the media appreciated the beauty of the
country and said that “not a lot people from the United States of America would
come to Pakistan as tourists as they think it is a dangerous place”.
problem with that is what the media is portraying,” he said, adding that Mexico
is more dangerous than Pakistan.
further urged the authorities to put more emphasis and effort into promoting
tourism as it would “do a great deal of good for this country”.
further said that this step would help change the perception of the country to
the outsiders and might also help in bringing foreign investment along with
am a champion of increasing tourism of this country as a US citizen and I just
challenge everyone to do the same. You are missing out,” he concluded.
restarting tourism has been one of the most talked about parts of new Prime
Minister Imran Khan’s push to create an Islamic welfare state in Pakistan, but
visitors to the country often complain of an arduous visa process.
was last a prominent tourist destination in the 1970s when the “hippie trail”
brought Western travellers through the apricot and walnut orchards of the Swat
Valley and Kashmir on their way to India and Nepal.
then, a deteriorating security situation chipped away at the number of
Pakistan’s participation in the US-led war in Afghanistan after the September
11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, the country was rocked by a decade
of regular large-scale attacks.
Pak-Turk Education Foundation (PTEF), in its review petition filed in the
Supreme Court, has claimed that the Ministry of Interior in 2017 had refused to
allow a plane carrying Turkish intelligence officers, who were planning to
conduct an operation against Turkish nationals in Pakistan, to land in the
PTEF made the comments in a review petition against the top court’s decision in
December last year to declare PTEF a “proscribed organisation”. The apex court
in its verdict had also handed Turkiye Maarif Foundation (TMF) the custody of
the schools under PTEF.
informed the Supreme Court that the political conflict between the Turkish
government and its political rivals should not be fought in Pakistan.
a sovereign state with longstanding relationship of friendship and brotherhood
with the Turkish people, Pakistan ought not to become a battleground for
settling domestic political scores of the ruling Turkish government with its
political rivals,” it argued in the petition.
this backdrop, it was essential to err on the side of caution and not slap PTEF
with the label of terror thereby implicating and stigmatising the Pakistani
citizens who have committed themselves to serve the cause of education under
the banner of Pak-Turk Schools and Colleges,” it added.
a matter of fact, the Government of Turkey has been pressurising the government
of Pakistan to declare PTEF as terrorist organisation since 2015 without
providing any documentary evidence or involvement of officials related to the
PTEF in any alleged terrorist activities.”
petition, filed through PTEF’s lawyer Babar Sattar, argued that Ministry of
Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), owing to the lack of
evidence, did not accept Turkey’s demands.
petition claimed that National Crisis Management Cell of the Ministry of
Interior via a letter dated 10.07.2017 directed all chief secretaries not to
allow a special Boeing 777 aircraft to land at Islamabad or Lahore airports.
The petition further claimed that two senior Turkish intelligence officials and
20 national police guards were arriving in the country on the aircraft to
conduct intelligence-based operations against Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s
rivals in Pakistan. Further, the interior ministry then requested MoFA to issue
a warning to Turkey.
July 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a “diplomatic warning” to the
Turkish ambassador in the country, explaining that Pakistan was given “fake reports” regarding threats posed by
Turkish nationals residing in Pakistan associated with Turkish cleric Fethullah
Gulen or other opposition leaders.
review petition disclosed that in the warning letter, Turkey was informed that
further submission of such “fake reports” would be regarded as dishonesty on
part of the Turkish government.
demand new constitution for Afghanistan at Moscow talks
Taliban demanded a new constitution for Afghanistan and promised an ‘inclusive
Islamic system’ to govern the war-torn country at a rare gathering with senior
Afghan politicians in Russia on Tuesday that excluded the Kabul government.
Taliban’s manifesto, outlined in Moscow before some of Afghanistan’s most
influential leaders, comes a week after the Taliban held unprecedented six-day
talks with US negotiators in Doha about ending the 17-year war.
Doha and Moscow discussions, though entirely separate, both excluded the
government in Kabul, where President Ashraf Ghani is seen as increasingly
sidelined from key negotiations for peace in his country.
Moscow meeting – the Taliban’s most significant with Afghan politicians in
recent memory – saw them praying together with sworn enemies including former
president Hamid Karzai as they discussed their vision for the future.
Kabul government constitution is invalid. It has been imported from the West
and is an obstacle to peace,” Sher Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban
delegation, told attendees at a central Moscow hotel. “It is conflicted. We
want an Islamic constitution,” he said, adding that the new charter would be
drafted by Islamic scholars.
chief negotiator said they do not intend to monopolize power after an end to
foreign invasion but want to establish an Afghan inclusive Islamic system with
the consent of all Afghans. He said the Taliban and the US will form two joint
committees to finalize drafts for the withdrawal of foreign troops and to
prevent Afghanistan from being used against other countries. The committees
will start work in the coming days, he said.
is responsibility of all the Afghans to end foreign invasion,” Stanekzai said,
adding, “War has been imposed on the Afghan nation and the Islamic Emirate as
their country has been invaded and the invaders have toppled an Islamic
sovereign system. All causes for war should first be removed.”
Taliban spokesman also released Pashto version of Stanekzai’s speech to the
and other Afghan leaders were confident that the Moscow siting will pave the
way for start of an intra-Afghan dialogue.
10-member Taliban delegation is attending the conference which will continue
also on Wednesday. Karzai’s list includes 38 delegates while several other
prominent leaders are also among the participants.
called for some preliminary steps that he said are essential for peace and are
parts of confidence building measures. He demanded removal of the UN Security
Council’s sanctions list, arguing that peace negotiations and sanctions list
are two contradictory concepts and can’t go side by side. “It is therefore
required that these baseless sanctions and reward lists, which are used as a
pressure tool for their interests, should be finished so that representatives
of the Islamic Emirate are able to participate in peace talks in different
places without any hurdle,” he said.
called for the release of Taliban detainees and claimed that US and its
protectorate regime have detained tens of thousands of Afghans and Taliban in
their secret and open prisons. He also demanded formal opening of the Taliban
political office, which was closed days after its opening in 2013 when former
president Karzai raised objections. “Venue for negotiations and a communication
site in the shape of an office is necessary for peace,” he said, adding at
present the Taliban have no open and formal address as a venue for negotiations
which is a preliminary requirement.
Taliban leader also called for guarantors as he argued peace process needs
guarantees, as without this, the provisions of the peace agreements could not
be properly implemented. “Therefore, the United Nations, major powers, members
of the Islamic Conference and facilitating countries must guarantee
implementations of the agreements,” he said.
also promised to stamp out Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation and take steps to
prevent civilian casualties in a conflict that has killed and wounded hundreds
delegates urged the Taliban to start talks with the Afghan government as
intra-Afghan dialogue is the best option to end the conflict. Former president
Hamid Karzai threw weight behind the ongoing talks between the Taliban and US
envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. He said Afghanistan wants good relations with all
countries but will not allow anyone to interfere in Afghan affairs.
vice president Yunus Qanooni told the conference that the current Islamic
Republic system in Afghanistan is at the request of all Afghans and that it has
been established on the back of sacrifices of millions of Afghans, according to
Tolo News. He said the system in Afghanistan was established based on the will
of the Afghan people and the constitution is one of the best in the region and
that amendments to the constitution can be done only through legal channels.
the meeting, Hizb-e-Wahdat leader Mohammad Mohaqiq called on the Taliban to
show ‘flexibility’ in holding face-to-face talks with Afghan government
representatives, according to Afghan media.
delegates urged the Taliban to start talks with the government and also declare
ceasefire in view of the peace talks in Qatar.
think all sides are ready for a compromise. It is a good start,” said Ghulam
Jalal, the head of an Afghan diaspora group who hosted the meeting. Two women
also attended the roundtable conference.
out for a second time, a furious Ghani, however, vowed he would not be an idle
spectator as his country’s future was debated abroad. “Even if I have one drop
of blood in my body, I am not going to surrender to a temporary peace deal,” he
railed in a speech Sunday.
Saleh, a Ghani ally, accused those Afghan leaders travelling to Moscow for the
Taliban talks – including former president Hamid Karzai – of ‘begging to
terrorists’. “A smile to the enemy is a blow to the national spirit,” Saleh
appreciate the efforts, but any peace talks about Afghanistan should be under
the umbrella of the Afghan government,” Afghanistan’s de facto prime minister
Abdullah Abdullah said after the Doha talks. The Taliban have always refused to
break bread with Ghani and Kabul, who they view as US stooges. “The talks in
Moscow would see an opening of channels to reaching an understanding with
Afghan leaders outside government,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Such a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians – including Karzai,
who was appointed by the US – is almost unheard of. Ghani’s rivals could see an
opportunity in these various Taliban talks to undermine his leadership,
analysts say, ahead of presidential elections slated for July. The Taliban
outreach is also drawing a host of rival powers into its orbit, all keen that
any finale to the war suits their strategic ambitions.
officials: Taliban kill 11 policemen, 10 others
Taliban killed at least 21 people in their latest attacks in Afghanistan,
including 11 policemen who were slain when the insurgents stormed a checkpoint
in northern Baghlan province, provincial officials said Tuesday.
attacks were reported as representatives of the Taliban were to hold meetings
in Moscow with prominent Afghan figures, including former President Hamid
Karzai, opposition leaders and tribal elders - but not Kabul government
the checkpoint attack, the Taliban targeted the local police force in the
province’s Baghlani Markazi district on Monday night, triggering a firefight
that lasted for almost two hours, said Safder Mohsini, head of the provincial
policemen were also wounded and the Taliban seized all the weapons and
ammunition from the security before reinforcements arrived, he said.
arrived there late, fought back and managed to get the checkpoint under
control,” he added.
on Monday, the Taliban targeted a local pro-government militia in a village in
northern Samangan province, killing 10 people there, including a woman, said
Sediq Azizi, spokesman for the provincial governor.
people were also wounded in that attack, in Samangan’s Dara-I Suf district, he
to Azizi, the Taliban targeted local villagers, including women and children.
As the area is very remote, the villagers have their own militia to provide
security for their area and defend their homes from the insurgents.
Taliban claimed both attacks in statements to the media.
two-day meeting in the Russian capital between the Taliban and Afghan figures,
which starts Tuesday, is seen as another step in a process aimed at resolving
Afghanistan’s 17-year war, one that has accelerated since the appointment last
September of US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
the meeting has sidelined Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which has
criticized the gathering.
Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, said Monday that the Afghan government
should be at the center of any peace talks, adding that Kabul “would prefer the
Moscow meeting had a different shape.”
said that Taliban were the biggest obstacle to peace, but that if the Moscow
meeting creates “an opening for real peace talks, it would still be a step
from the Taliban militant group have attended a meeting with high-ranking
Afghan politicians in the Russian capital city of Moscow, where the
participants called for an interim government as they negotiated without
delegates from the incumbent administration in attendance.
rare intra-Afghan gathering on Tuesday saw the Taliban elaborating on their
vision for Afghanistan, among them rules around women and replacement of the
country’s Constitution with one drawn up by Islamic scholars.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who led the Asian country from December 2001 to
September 2014, described the talks as “very, very satisfactory.”
understand that the government needs to be part of these negotiations. We wish
they could have been here today,” he told reporters in Moscow.
Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban delegation, said the
initiative is the first step toward peace in Afghanistan.
said the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan had also been discussed at
Kabul government constitution is invalid. It has been imported from the West
and is an obstacle to peace,” the Taliban representative commented.
Koofi, one of two women invited to Moscow, said Taliban militants would “have
to adapt to a modern Afghanistan.”
they were in power, they would not even let women leave their homes,” Koofi,
the head of Afghanistan's parliamentary Committee on Women and Human Rights,
now we're hearing women could be prime minister or a minister. It's a change I
think. It's a positive step but not enough,” she said.
peace deal between the Taliban & the United States without Afghan govt.’
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has highlighted that no peace deal between the
Taliban and the United States could be finalized without involving his government
as “the decision-maker.”
the end of any peace deal, the decision-maker will be the government of
Afghanistan,” Ghani told private TOLO News television network.
power in the country can dissolve the government,” he said, adding that he was
ready to “stand and defend our country.”
assured that no-one can push us aside,” Ghani pointed out.
Afghan president further noted that the meeting in Russia is “nothing more than
a fantasy. No one can decide without the consent of the Afghan people.”
who have gathered in Moscow have no executive authority. They can say what they
want,” he said.
two-day Afghan peace talks in Moscow will conclude on Wednesday. It came a week
after Taliban militants held talks with US negotiators in the Qatari capital
city of Doha about ending their 17-year militancy.
life full of struggles has not deterred 60-year-old Nurjahan, a Muslim widow
and slum dweller in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
her neighbors, Nurjahan is popularly known as the kolawali (banana seller).
Every day she collects ripe bananas from a nearby market and sells them to
customers in the slum to make ends meet.
traders at the wholesale market know that I am poor and helpless, so they don’t
take money when I buy bananas from them. I return them the amount when I finish
selling the bananas,” Nurjahan told ucanews.com at the Duaripara slum in the
40 years ago, Nurjahan and her husband left their village in Banaripara in
Barishal district and moved to Dhaka.
erosion had swallowed our home and arable land. We decided to migrate to Dhaka
for a better life and have lived in slums since then,” she recalled.
Dhaka, her husband became a rickshaw puller and an occasional banana seller to
take care of the family of four including two daughters.
husband died four years ago and her daughters live with their husbands’
families, meaning Nurjahan has to fend for herself.
state-run social safety net schemes exist for vulnerable and poor women like
Nurjahan, including elderly and widow allowances, she gets none of them. “I
don’t know how to avail these benefits — no one has ever helped me,” she said.
2016, she learned about the Support Assisting Improved Living (SAIL) project
run by Catholic charity Caritas Dhaka that seeks to improve the living conditions
of people in the city’s three major slums.
support helped her set up a better house made of corrugated iron sheets, bamboo
and cement that cost 40,000 taka (US$471).
project also enables her to get free medical check-ups, medicines, water,
sanitation and hygiene tools every month.
I feel I should go back to my village but then I think again. We have no
property left there and the relatives of my husband’s family are not positive.
It means I have to stay here as long as I live,” Nurjahan said.
Nurjahan, Nipa Begum hails from Barishal district and lives in the Duaripara
saw our home washed away and rebuilt nine times due to river erosion. I decided
to move to Dhaka about 10 years ago,” said 24-year-old Nipa, a mother of a
getting a job as a sewing operator in a garment factory, she married a
colleague about eight years ago.
the birth of my son I had some complications in my ovary. I have not been able
to work since then. My husband is the only breadwinner for the family,” she
2017, Nipa has also benefited from the SAIL project, getting free treatment and
medicines every month. Her son attends a day-care center run by Caritas, where
he gets free basic education and entertainment.
Bangladesh’s largest city and one of the world’s most densely populated places,
is home to more than 15 million residents crammed into about 306 square
60 percent of the capital’s residents live in shantytowns, according to the
Dhaka-based Association for Realization of Basic Needs, a development group
focused on urban slum dwellers.
slum dwellers are climate refugees from the southern and northern parts of
change-induced natural disasters like cyclones, flooding and river erosion
spark the migration of millions from rural areas to urban areas after losing
their homes and livelihoods. They dream of a better life in the cities but in
fact they live in extreme poverty without any guarantee of basic needs,” Prof.
Tasneem Siddiqui, founding chairwoman of the refugee and migratory movement
unit at Dhaka University, told ucanews.com.
year Dhaka receives about 70 percent of the inbound migration flow from rural
areas while Chittagong, a port city in the southeast, takes about 10 percent.
Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan in 1971, development and prosperity
have been limited to a handful of cities that have constantly attracted people
seeking better prospects in life, Siddiqui said.
from climate change, poverty is a major driving factor behind internal
migration. There are few livelihood opportunities in rural areas apart from
traditional farming, fishing and small businesses. If development was
decentralized, I think the situation in Dhaka could never be like this,” she
is a Muslim-majority nation of more than 160 million in an area of 147,570
square kilometers, making it the world’s eighth most populous country. About 75
percent of the population live in rural areas.
to the World Bank, about a quarter of the population earn less than US$2 per
day and live in extreme poverty, making it one of the poorest countries in the
is located on the flood plains of world’s largest river delta system and
crisscrossed by more than 300 rivers that empty into the Bay of Bengal, making
it vulnerable to natural disasters. Most of the country lies on flat land only
a few meters above sea level.
to the International Migration Monitoring Center, over the last decade 700,000
people have been displaced every year on average in Bangladesh due to natural
analysts fear that by 2050 vast areas of Bangladesh’s coastline will vanish as
sea levels rise and some 20 million will be displaced — one of the commonly
predicted consequences of a warming planet.
Taliban group outlined its demands for peace as an intra-Afghan dialogue kicked
off in Moscow the capital of Russia this afternoon.
former chief of the political office of Taliban in Qatar Sher Mohammad Abbas
Stanikzai said the group believes that the current stalemate of the country has
a political solution.
further added that the Taliban group seeks the establishment of an Islamic
system in the country but ruled out plans to monopolize the power, claiming
that Taliban fights a holy war as the war has been imposed by the United States
on the group.
also demanded the removal of the names of Taliban leaders from the blacklists
to enable them to take forward peace negotiations from various addresses.
other parts of his speech, Stanikzai said the ongoing propaganda against the
group must end, claiming that Taliban has never been involved in detonating
bridges, poisoning of school girls, and killing of civilians in roadside
the existing national constitution as illegitimate which depicts the western
constitution, Stanikzai said work should be done on a system which is
acceptable to Afghans, insisting that the current constitution is a major
barrier on the way to reach to a peace deal.
local officials in northern Baghlan province confirm that a number of Afghan
Local Police (ALP) forces have lost their lives in an attack by Taliban
militants late on Monday night.
security source confirmed that 10 Afghan Local Police personnel lost their
lives in the attack which triggered clashes that continued for two hours.
source further added that the attack was carried out in Baghlan Markzai
district and as a result five Afghan Local Police personnel also sustained
injuries during the clash.
to the official, at least four Taliban militants were also killed and five
others were wounded during the clash with the Afghan Local Police forces.
the meantime, a member of the provincial has said that the attack left 11
Afghan Local Police personnel dead including one of their commanders.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the clash so far.
Ministry of Defense (MoD) says a large scale Taliban attack has been repulsed
in the outskirts of Kunduz city in North of Afghanistan.
to a statement released by the Ministry of Defense, the Taliban militants
launched a large scale attack on security posts at around 1:00 am local time
which was repulsed by the security forces.
statement further added that the clash left at least 22 militants dead and 18
Ministry of Defense also added that the security personnel have also suffered
casualties during the clash but did not elaborate further regarding the exact
number of the security forces who have lost their lives.
the meantime, the local sources and provincial council officials have said that
more than 25 Afghan soldiers have also lost their lives in the attack.
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the clash so far.
president criticized the US on Tuesday over delays in establishing a buffer
zone in Syria, saying that if Washington won’t contribute to the effort, Ankara
will do it alone.
Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump last month discussed setting up a
safe zone east of the Euphrates River in Syria. Turkey has demanded Syrian
Kurdish militia withdraw from there and Erdogan has been seeking logistical and
financial assistance from Washington for that.
main Kurdish parties have rejected the Turkish proposal for a “safe zone,”
saying Ankara’s control of a 32-kilometer border area would endanger the Kurds.
addressing his ruling party’s legislators in Parliament, said that if the US
“does not keep to its promise to cleanse the region of terrorists and does not
contribute to the creation of a safe zone under Turkey’s control, then we will
take care of our own business.”
warned that Ankara’s patience is waning over delays in the withdrawal of
Kurdish fighters from the US-patrolled northern Syrian town of Manbij.
patience is not without its limits. If the terrorists in Manbij are not removed
within weeks our waiting time will come to an end,” he warned.
the same way, if at the east of the Euphrates, the people of the region are not
allowed to establish self-rule with Turkey’s support, then our waiting time
will come to an end,” Erdogan said.
other words, we will have the right to bring about our own plans. ... No threat
can deter us from our path, including (being placed on) a sanction list,” he
senior Iranian security official says the joint fight with Syria against
terrorism has contributed to regional and international security, emphasizing
that the two nations will continue their cooperation until the eradication of
the scourge in the Arab country.
between Iran and Syria in the fight against Takfiri terrorism has resulted in
undeniable achievements for the region and international security and this
trend will be continued until the end of the security crisis in this [Arab]
country,” Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali
Shamkhani said in a meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in
Tehran on Tuesday.
further said certain Western countries’ “excessive demands” and “acts of
sabotage” targeting the political process in Syria indicate that their
“illogical positions and pretexts” are merely aimed at prolonging the crisis
gripping the Middle Eastern country.
further urged Muslim countries to reinforce their convergence and strengthen
cooperation to solve their common problems.
enemies of the Muslim world, particularly the US and the Zionist regime
(Israel), are trying to destroy great interests of Muslim countries such as
security and economic progress by creating and intensifying conflicts and
discord,” the SNSC secretary said.
top Iranian security official also censured as “unacceptable” the Israeli
regime’s continued acts of aggression against Syrian soil and violations of its
these actions continue, some calculated strategies will be activated for
deterrence and as a firm and appropriate response in a way to teach a lesson to
the criminal and lying rulers of Israel.”
frequently strikes the Syrian territory, attacking military targets belonging
to Syria and its allies, which have been assisting Damascus’ war on foreign-backed
terrorist groups. Observers view the attacks as a means of propping up the
Takfiri terror groups that have suffered crushing defeat recently.
January, Syria once again wrote protest letters to the United Nations, urging
the world body to take a decisive step and put an end to Israel’s acts of
aggression against its territory, which it said were an attempt to raise the
“morale” of the remaining terrorist hotbeds that are “subservient” to Tel Aviv.
in the meeting, Shamkhani stressed the importance of improving relations
between Tehran and Damascus in various fields, particularly in trade and
economic sectors, emphasizing that Iran would stand by Syria in the
reconstruction plans of the war-ravaged country.
duty-bound to protect Iranian military advisors’
for his part, hailed Iran’s extensive support for the Syrian government and
said Iranian military advisers are present in Syria to strengthen its national
army in the fight against terrorism, stressing that Damascus is duty-bound to
Syrian foreign minister added that sustainable peace and security will be
established in the region if some countries change their approaches and launch
a real fight against the remaining Takfiri terror groups in Syria such as the
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
in January, the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)
vowed to protect Iranian military advisors in Syria, dismissing as “ridiculous
and funny” Israeli threats to attack them.
will protect all of the military advisors as well as weapons and equipment that
we have deployed to Syria in order to reinforce the Islamic resistance fighters
and support the people of this Islamic country,” Major General Mohammad Ali
doesn’t want peace in Syria, Mideast: Zarif
Tehran, the Syrian foreign minister also sat down for talks with his Iranian
counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
the meeting, Zarif said the Tel Aviv regime does not favor the establishment of
peace and security in Syria and the entire Middle East.
further called on regional countries to boost their convergence and cooperation
to counter any plots against them.
top Iranian and Syrian diplomats discussed ways to improve relations and the
latest developments unfolding in Syria.
resistance foiled enemies’ adventurism: Larijani
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also held a meeting with Muallem, during which
he said the Syrian people’s resistance has neutralized the enemies’
top Iranian parliamentarian told the visiting Syrian foreign minister that
Tehran and Damascus should boost their trade ties in 2019.
United Nations Security Council has called on Yemen’s warring parties to pull
their forces out of the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah and two other ports
“without further delays” under a recent UN-brokered ceasefire deal.
a statement on Monday, the 15-member UN body expressed concern over alleged
violations of the Hudaydah ceasefire agreement, which was reached last December
in Rimbo, a town near the Swedish capital Stockholm, between Yemen’s Houthi
Ansarullah movement and the former Saudi-backed regime.
members of the Security Council called on the parties to seize this opportunity
to move towards sustainable peace by exercising restraint, de-escalating tensions,
honoring their commitment to the Stockholm Agreement and moving forward with
swift implementation,” the council said.
council further asked the UN’s Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths “to continue to
keep them closely informed of developments so that they may consider further
action as necessary in support of a political settlement.”
Houthi movement and forces loyal to the Riyadh-backed regime of ex-president
Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have, over the past weeks, traded accusations of truce
violations in Hudaydah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.
two sides missed a January 7 target to withdraw their forces from Hudaydah as
they disagree on who should control the city and ports.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said representatives from both parties met for a
second day on a ship in the Red Sea on Monday and “reiterated their commitment
to implementing the Hudaydah aspects of the Stockholm agreement.”
to host fresh UN-mediated talks’
Jordan is preparing to host a new round of talks between Yemen’s warring sides
under the auspices of the United Nations.
UN said in a statement that the Ansarullah movement and the Saudi-backed
delegation will hold negotiations over prisoner swap on Tuesday.
two warring sides have already agreed to exchange 16,000 detainees and
submitted lists of prisoners’ names to UN mediators. The details are yet to be
prisoner swap deal was signed as a confidence-building measure ahead of the
Sweden peace talks.
UN added that the two sides will meet again in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on
Wednesday for “technical” talks to “finalize the list of prisoners.”
and Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC), which is overseeing the prisoner exchange process between the warring
sides, “are scheduled to take part in the first day” of the talks, the UN
statement said, without specifying how many days the meetings would last.
deal hangs in balance’
ICRC’s director of operations Dominik Stillhart said the agreement on the
prisoner exchange was “hanging in the balance,” with trust among the parties
said that each party had presented a list of up to 8,000 detainees to be
released, but that many names could not be accounted for, and hence the
prisoner exchange would realistically involve a significantly lower number.
is a lot of disappointment on both sides,” said Stillhart. “What we now see on
both sides (is that) they don’t have them all because a lot of them, they
probably died during the conflict.”
whole discussion now is who will finally be on the lists,” he said.
also noted that distrust was running high between the two warring sides.
are expectations that some people on both sides should appear on the list and
if they are not, immediately the question is: are you hiding them?” he said.
Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched the Hudaydah offensive in June
2018, but faced strong resistance from Yemeni armed forces — led by the Houthis
— as well as the city’s residents.
offensive was part of a broader Saudi-led military campaign, which has been
underway against Yemen since March 2015.
Yemen’s army liberated a strategic mountain range in the Kitaf district of
Saada province, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.
to a statement issued by the Yemeni Ministry of Defense, the Arab Coalition
backed the Yemeni army forces during the operation, and bombed Iran-supported
Houthi militia positions and their reinforcements.
operation resulted in several deaths and injuries among the militia, the
destruction of military vehicles belonging to them and the capture of a number
Retired Danish general Michael Lollesgaard arrived Tuesday in Sanaa to head the
UN observer mission in war-wracked Yemen and replace his predecessor whose ties
with the rebels were reportedly strained.
replaces Patrick Cammaert, the Dutch general who had been tapped a little over
a month ago to lead the mission deployed in the lifeline Red Sea port city of
new mission head made no comments upon his arrival in Sanaa, an AFP
correspondent said, and it was not clear when exactly he would begin his
mission in Hodeida.
will oversee a team of 75 unarmed observers to monitor a fragile ceasefire deal
for Hodeida agreed in December between the Huthis and the Yemeni government at
UN-brokered talks in Sweden.
say relations have been strained between Cammaert and the Iran-linked Huthi
rebels battling the Saudi-backed government, and with the UN envoy to Yemen,
Huthis have accused him of running his own agenda, a claim disputed by the
United Nations which said his only mission was to improve the lives of the
embattled Yemeni people.
January 17, his convoy came under fire in the flashpoint city of Hodeida but he
and his team escaped unhurt and the UN said the source of the shooting was
port is the entry point for the bulk of Yemen's supplies of imported goods and
humanitarian aid, providing a lifeline to millions on the brink of starvation.
born in 1960, commanded the UN peacekeeping force in Mali (MINUSMA) from 2015
to 2016, and he then became Denmark's military representative to NATO and the
European Union in 2017.
was also military adviser to Denmark's UN mission in New York and served in
peace support operations in Iraq and Bosnia
new appointment was endorsed at the end of January by the UN Security Council.
rebels have been mired in a war with government forces backed since 2015 by a
Saudi-led military coalition.
conflict has triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis,
with millions of people at risk of starvation.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he had not yet seen an acceptable plan
for the creation of a safe zone in northeastern Syria, three weeks after US
President Donald Trump suggested establishing the zone.
is no satisfactory plan that is put before us concretely yet,” Erdogan told a
parliamentary meeting of his AK Party. “Of course, we are loyal to our
agreements, our promise is a promise. But our patience is not limitless.”
wants the zone to be cleared of the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia which Ankara
considers a terrorist group. Erdogan also said that if terrorists are not
removed from the northern town of Manbij in a few weeks, Turkey’s waiting time
Faso forces kill 146 extremists after civilian attack
Burkina Faso: Burkina Faso’s commander general says armed forces have killed
146 extremists in three counterattack operations in the northwest near its
border with Mali.
Moise Minoungou spoke on National Television late Monday saying armed men
entered Kain village early Monday and killed 14 men and women. He said Burkina
Faso’s army responded by fighting in Kain, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from
Ouahigouya in the north Yatenga province. With air support it also fought in
Bahn in the north region and Bomboro in the Boucle du Mouhon region.
said the combined operations killed 146 extremists fleeing to Mali.
have increased attacks in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region, also shifting to the
forested east near the Niger border.
Faso is part of the G5 Sahel regional counterterror force.
Faso: 5 soldiers killed in terrorist attack
soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in a terrorist attack in
northern Burkina Faso, the country’s military said Tuesday.
a statement, the military said one of the terrorist groups in the region where
the country’s armed forces were conducting operations on Monday attacked a
military unit in Oudalan province.
forces conducted an operation following the attack and "neutralized"
security forces "neutralized" 146 terrorists Monday in land and air
operations in the country’s northwest.
General Staff announced that the operations will continue until the country’s
lands and the lives of its citizens are secured.
Faso has been threatened by terrorist attacks since 2015.
Dec. 27 last year, a terrorist attack on security forces in Sourou State in
northwestern Burkina Faso left 10 gendarmes dead.
kills 9 bandits in northwestern Nigeria
Nigerian soldiers killed nine armed bandits in the northwest of the country, an
army official said on Tuesday.
part of operations ramped up to rid the area of attacks on civilians, the
military also arrested five armed bandits in the northwestern Zamfara state.
of Operation Sharan Daji have neutralized nine suspected bandits, apprehended
five others and burned down their camp,” army spokesman Clement Abiade said in
also said troops also freed two persons who were kidnapped and held hostage in
the bandits’ camp.
is conducting clearance operations in forests across Zamfara and Katsina states
where the armed bandits have bases, the spokesman added.
also said six people were arrested in a separate operation for colluding with
At least 69 municipal councils out of 120 in Libya may not hold elections in
March due to a lack of funding by the UN-backed government, the head of the
elections committee said.
authorities allowed municipal elections in 2013 in a bid to end a decades-long
legacy of centralization of administration and help communities manage their
the degradation of security conditions after the toppling of long-ruling
Muammar Qaddafi and irregular funding hindered the process.
elections to renew the municipal councils requires at least 50 million Libyan
dinars ($36 million), Salem Bentahia, head of the Central Committee for
Municipal Councils Elections told Reuters in an interview. For now, the
committee has only received 30 percent of that budget, he said.
government funds the committee is unable to launch awareness-raising programs
on the importance of municipal elections, Bentahia said.
at the internationally recognized government in Tripoli were not immediately
available for comment.
on Tuesday condemned Sunday’s deadly terror attack in Burkina Faso.
a statement, the Foreign Ministry said: “We are saddened by the terrorist
attack which took place in the Yatenta province in northern Burkina Faso,
claiming many lives.”
strongly condemn this heinous attack and offer our condolences to the brotherly
people and Government of Burkina Faso,” the statement added.
Faso’s military said that at least 14 civilians were killed on Sunday night in
the terrorist attack in Yatenta province bordering Mali.
patrol group protecting Muslims becomes target of smear campaigns
York’s Muslim patrollers, who are in preparation to operate in the neighborhood
of Brooklyn, have become a target of racist online hate speech campaigns that
include far-right supporters in the U.S., the Independent reported on Tuesday.
all-volunteer Muslim Community Patrol & Services will offer translation
services, explain cultural nuances, report suspicious activity, respond to
traffic accidents and even help in searches for the missing.
hostility escalated after a far-right Canadian website, Rebel Media, spread
inaccurate stories about New York City Muslims on YouTube, saying, “If there
are feminists in New York, they should be concerned”.
volunteers plan to work in shifts, watching over arrival and dismissal times at
three Islamic schools in Brooklyn and conducting patrols from 5 p.m. to 11
p.m., mostly near mosques, busses and subway stops in the region, where there
are large Muslim populations.
leaders said the group is self-funded and used donations to purchase cars and
navy blue uniforms for its members.
patrols work in coordination with the police but are not sanctioned or
regulated by the police department.
least 14 anti-Muslim bias cases were reported in 2017 in the city, according to
the police department’s annual report.
Top US commander in Afghanistan said on Tuesday that political talks with the
Taliban were a key part of the US endgame in Afghanistan.
an interview to ABC News, General Scott Miller also said that neither the US
nor the Taliban were in a position to win the war and that’s why it was
important to look for a political settlement.
political talks, I do think are, are positive,” said General Miller who served
in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 as a young officer and was now back as the
commander of all US and Nato forces.
side will win it militarily, and if neither side will win it militarily you
have to move into a ... towards a political settlement here,” he told it ABC
if he believed the Taliban were key part of the US endgame in Afghanistan, he
Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay
Khalilzad, has held several rounds of talks with Taliban insurgents in Doha,
Qatar, and UAE and hopes to hold more talks soon.
the last round in January, he told reporters that US and Taliban delegates had
agreed on a draft agreement and were now working on some key issues.
14,000 US troops are still serving in Afghanistan and President Donald Trump
plans to withdraw half of them soon.
if he had received orders to start sending his troops home, General Miller
have the authorities of the capabilities that I need from the US and the
coalition standpoint to work with our Afghan partners. At the same time, as a
commander, I’m always trying to bring the footprint down, bring our force
structure down,” he said.
Miller made clear that there was no endgame in Afghanistan that provided a safe
haven for terrorists.
US Senate approved by a large majority Monday an amendment critical of
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and
Afghanistan, in a sign of the deep discontent caused by the policies within his
own Republican ranks.
resolution was sponsored by the Republican leader of the Senate Mitch
McConnell, who said last week the measure “would acknowledge the plain fact
that al-Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to
pose a serious threat to our nation.”
passed by a majority of 70 to 26 -- opposed by only three of the 53 Senate
Republicans. The amendment will eventually be incorporated into a broader
security law on the Middle East.
to the text, the “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces” from either
country “could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.”
December, Trump tweeted plans to remove America’s 2,000 troops out of Syria,
arguing that ISIS had been defeated, even though his intelligence chiefs
testified last week that the extremists remain a potent threat and are seeking
Israeli paper speculates that the administration of US President Donald Trump
could be meddling in Israel’s elections to help secure a win for Prime Minister
a report on Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post raised the suspicion after Trump shared
a photo directly from Netanyahu’s Instagram account, which showed an election
poster made by Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party of the two shaking hands and
advertisement captioned “Netanyahu: In a different league” prompted similar
criticism after first showing up in Tel Aviv.
has now turned up elsewhere across streets in the Israeli-occupied territories,
said Arutz Sheva on its website.
Jerusalem Post further pointed to the large numbers of likes and comments under
Trump’s share, saying this raised “concerns about election interference.”
network went as far as saying Likud had “recruited” Trump to promote its
last month, it was reported that the party had released a promotional video
glorifying the two politicians’ relationship by boasting about Trump’s
relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy occupied city of
Jerusalem al-Quds last May.
embassy relocation flew in the face of internationally-recognized Palestinian
demands that the occupied city’s eastern part serve as the capital of their
also circumvented a United Nations General Assembly resolution that had called
on Trump to retract its recognition of al-Quds as Israel’s “capital,” which he
had announced in late 2017.
video begins with a text on the screen stating, “They said it’s impossible,”
referring to the embassy transfer.
also features Trump’s announcement of the relocation and Netanyahu’s statement
that “the US embassy needs to be here, in Jerusalem (al-Quds).”
began contributing to Netanyahu’s political powerbase in 2013, when he appeared
in a video made by a Likud promoter, voicing all-out verbal support for the
vote for Benjamin, terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel,” Trump had
said in the footage.
faces four corruption cases, and reports say Israeli Attorney General Avichai
Mandelblit has reached a decision to indict him prior to April’s elections on
bribery charges. He has been the target of regular protests, including in front
of Mandelblit’s residence in northern Israel, in favor of his resignation.
coalition announced snap polls last December after Likud failed to garner the
necessary support to pass contested legislation aimed at drafting
ultra-Orthodox Israelis into the military.
Lapid, who chairs the opposition Yesh Atid party, has warned that if Netanyahu
emerged victorious, he would immediately pass a bill that would help him evade
prosecution, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.
said the premier would use an election victory as a mandate to justify closing
owner of a Major League Baseball team faced criticism Tuesday after emails were
leaked in which he said Muslims are the enemy and Islam is a cult.
and published by Splinter News, chains of emails revealed Chicago Cubs owner
Joe Ricketts, 77, peddled Islamophobic rhetoric while also pushing conspiracies
that former President Barack Obama is a Muslim and laughing at racially charged
and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society. As
you know, Islam cannot do that. Therefore we cannot ever let Islam become a
large part of our society," Rickett said in an email sent in 2012.
"Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy due to their deep antagonism and
bias against non-Muslims."
think Islam is a cult and not a religion. Christianity and Judaism are based on
love whereas Islam is based on 'kill the infidel' a thing of evil," the
businessman said in an email to his son, Pete, who is the current governor of
forwarded another email which alleged Obama was actually a Muslim, and he had
in his past worked as a drug mule to haul heroine to America.
grew up in Nebraska, and made his fortune founding the brokerage firm TD
Ameritrade, which currently boasts client assets totaling nearly $1.3 trillion.
Ricketts family went on to purchase a 95 percent stake in the Chicago Cubs for
$700 million in 2009.
also have a prominent name in conservative politics, with Ricketts' other son,
Todd, being named finance chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump's re-election
the emails were leaked, the elder Ricketts released a statement apologizing.
deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails.
Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said
things that don't reflect my value system. I strongly believe that bigoted
ideas are wrong," he said.
rhetoric has been pushed by influential Americans in recent years, and
anti-Muslim hate crimes have been on the rise over the past few years.
year, Rep. Steve King of Iowa came under scrutiny after he said in an interview
he did not want Muslims working in meat-packing facilities.
is actively regrouping and is regenerating more quickly in Iraq than in Syria,
the US-led operation against the insurgent group has warned in a new report.
as US-backed forces battle for the last pockets of ISIS-controlled territory in
Syria, the Operation Inherent Resolve quarterly report on the campaign says
that the group could start regaining territory again within six to 12 months
without continued pressure.
President Donald Trump announced just weeks ago that ISIS had been defeated and
that he was withdrawing American forces from Syria. The report, coupled with a
Senate vote on Monday criticising the surprise withdrawal, is yet another blow
to the president who has received severe backlash from allies as well as his
own officials over the move.
remains an active insurgent group in both Iraq and Syria,” the report said,
adding that by their estimates there are still some 2,000 fighters in east
Syria where American forces operate.
ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than
in Syria, but absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure ISIS could likely
resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory in
the [Middle Euphrates River Valley],” it added.
the 88,000 square kilometres of territory that ISIS once held, it now controls
less than 50 square kilometres, the top commander of US forces in the Middle
East, General Joseph Votel, told a Senate committee on Tuesday.
is important to understand that even though this territory has been reclaimed,
the fight against ISIS and violent extremists is not over and our mission has
not changed," Gen Votel said.
Iraq, there are still ISIS attacks in rural areas even though overall security
has improved in recent months. In Baghdad, the once heavily fortified Green
Zone enclave for government bodies, international organisations and embassies
has been opened up for the first time in years.
the security situation is improved, the report warns that more needs to be done
to improve the quality of life for Iraq's Sunni population.
Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately
addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria it is very
likely that ISIS will have the opportunity to set conditions for future
resurgence and territorial control,” the report said.
have warned that the ongoing post-battle crackdown on accused ISIS supporters
has become a form of Sunni collective punishment. Hundreds have been sentenced
to death for belonging to the extremist group at trials lasting mere minutes
and often based on confessions rights groups say were extracted under torture
or from witnesses they say could be unreliable.
inclusion of Iran-backed and Shiite-majority Popular Mobilisation Forces into
the Iraqi security forces has also led to warnings that government-sanctioned
sectarian militias are exacerbating tensions.
Trump’s December announcement about withdrawing troops from Syria came as a
shock to both US allies and his own officials. It led both Defence Secretary
Jim Mattis and the US’s top envoy to OIR Brett McGurk to resign. The withdrawal
was later delayed but as Monday’s report pointed out, it is now an ongoing
also says that it is likely ISIS will continue to carry out opportunistic
hit-and-run attacks on US forces and use them to claim “victory” in the media.
US troops were killed in an ISIS claimed suicide attack in northern Syria in
mid-January. The bomber struck a restaurant in Manbij, killing at least 16
this week the US will host the foreign ministers from the 79-member
American-led OIR to discuss next steps as the US insists they are still aiming
for the “enduring defeat” of ISIS. How the operation will shift and change as
the militants lose their last territory but endure as a lingering insurgency is
a major question the OIR now faces.
almost the same time the report was released, the US Senate was approving an
amendment critical of Mr Trump’s Syrian and Afghanistan withdrawal. Sponsored
by Republican leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, the amendment sailed
through 70 votes to 26 (of which only three were Republicans).
article warns that the "precipitous withdrawal of United States
forces" from either country "could put at risk hard-won gains and United
States national security."
bill and its easy passage show the deep discontent caused by the policies
within the president’s own Republican ranks.
Sunday, Salvadorans discovered that it was not only Europe and North America
where political outsiders were causing upsets to their national establishments.
Cast aside from El Salvador’s ruling party, a businessman, former mayor and
figure of Palestinian descent surged to a decisive victory by carving an
uncustomary path to the top.
Bukele, a 37-year-old who was dubbed the “millennial mayor” of San Salvador,
won around 54 per cent in the election to secure the presidency of this small
Central American nation, representing the right-wing party known as Grand
Alliance for National Unity. That was after being expelled from the Farabundo
Marti National Liberation Front party and then prevented from forming his own
victory was not only notable in that he became the first ruler to end a
two-party system that had presided over the country since the end of its civil
war in 1992, but he became its second-ever leader of Palestinian descent after
Tony Sacca, who led from 2004 to 2009.
100,000 Salvadorans with Palestinian ancestry live in the country out of a
population of 6.5 million, ranking it as the second highest population of Palestinian
descendants in Central America behind Honduras.
former mayor traces his Palestinians roots to the early 20th century, when many
left the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem to find a new home in El Salvador.
Some left for a better life while others were escaping from conscription under
Ottoman rule at the time.
Bukele’s grandparents, who moved to the country as children, hail from
Jerusalem – the holy city where Palestinians seek the eastern districts as the
capital of their future state – and Bethlehem, the West Bank town under Israeli
occupation that is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. The Church of the
Nativity, the alleged site of his birth, is located in the town.
many Palestinians who travelled to El Salvador, his grandparents were both
Christians. His father Armando converted to Islam and has become a prominent
imam in San Salvador.
have for decades had close ties to Latin America. Chile hosts the largest
Palestinian Christian community outside of the holy land and a Palestinian
football team even plays in its top division, based out of Santiago. The
majority of Latin American nations recognise the Palestinian right to a
sovereign state despite Israel's occupation.
Bukele is not alone in becoming a leader of a Latin American country with
Palestinian ancestry. Carlos Robert Flores, the president of Honduras from 1998
to 2002, is of Palestinian descent. Salvador Nasralla, a Honduran with
Palestinian parents, just missed out of the Honduran presidency in 2017 as incumbent
Juan Orlando Hernandez was sworn in for a second term.
youthful Salvadoran leader became the favourite to win the election after
running on an anti-corruption campaign and appealing to the country’s youth. He
called out his older opponents for being outdated and corrupt.
also made a use of a wardrobe, which included jeans, baseball caps and leather
jackets, that made him appear a more appealing candidate to younger voters.
political outsider also harnessed his social media platforms to his advantage,
as many political outsiders have done in recent years to garner support through
untraditional means. He used his profiles to ask ordinary Salvadorans how they
would challenge corruption in the country.
was a popular mayor of the Salvadoran capital from 2015 to 2018, giving away
his salary for scholarships and promoting a fairer society.
he has been engulfed in his own allegations of wrongdoing. Despite winning the
election, he remains under investigation for laundering public funds and committing
fraud while mayor. He refutes the charge of fraud but has remained silent on
the money-laundering accusation.
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