Sunday, May 22, 2016

Coming To Avenge Babri, Kashmir, Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar: ISIS Video


By Praveen Swami
May 21, 2016









Thane engineering student Fahad Sheikh
The Islamic State has released a new 22-minute Arabic-language documentary on purported Indian jihadists in its ranks, providing the first interviews with five fugitive jihadists known to have joined the ranks of fighters in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
The video, released online early on Friday, is the first propaganda the Islamic State has produced with content focused on India and South Asia.
Thane engineering student Fahad Tanvir Sheikh who travelled to Syria in 2014 along with three other men from the city, as first reported in The Indian Express, is the only individual conclusively identified in the video, in which he uses the pseudonym Abu Amr’ al-Hindi.
 “We will return,” Sheikh vows, “but with a sword in hand, to avenge the Babri Masjid, and the killings of Muslims in Kashmir, in Gujarat, and in Muzaffarnagar.”
Sheikh also pays homage to his friend from Thane, Shahim Tanki, who is said to have been killed in a bomb attack in Raqqa last year.
The third member of the group, Areeb Majid, is now being prosecuted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The video also features several still-to-be-identified members, suspected to be once of the Indian Mujahideen, whose members are known to have been serving with Islamic State forces after breaking with their Pakistan-based leadership.
“To those in the Indian state who wish to understand our actions”, says an unidentified jihadist, “I say you have only three options: to accept Islam, to pay Jizya, or to prepare to be slaughtered”.
Families of the surviving Thane men, as well as members of the Indian Mujahideen known to have left Pakistan for Syria, are being contacted to identify the individuals featured in the video, a government source said.
“The last photographs we have of many of these people we have are from before 2008, when many of them were just adolescents”, the source said. “It’s hard to be certain just who is who in the video, though it is possible to make informed guesses”.
Large parts of the video, narrated in Arabic, seek to provide context to the presence of Indian jihadists in the Islamic State – men it describes as jihadists from “Hind wal’Sindh”, a usage for India and Pakistan. The video begins with medieval warlord Muhammad Bin Qasim’s conquest of the region, saying it laid the foundations for Islamic rule.
The British, the narrator states, then handed over control of India to Hindus – people it describes as “cow-worshippers” who have been responsible for violence against Muslims in many places, including Mumbai, Gujarat, Assam and Moradabad.
“Hindus are striving to convert you Muslims to their faith, O’ sons of Bin Qasim”, one recruit says, recounting a string of communal riots. “Is there any other humiliation that you still need to suffer before you will give up chanting that Islam is a religion of peace, and learn from the Prophet, who fought with the sword?”
 







An unidentified IS fighter in stills from the newly released video
For the most part, the video consists of interviews, mainly conducted at an unidentified coastal location. There is no combat footage of Indians, bar one sequence involving several men in two boats, first released by the Islamic State’s Indian affiliate, Junood Khilafat-al-Hind, last year.
The video does, however, include one sequence where six men sit together, singing a jihadist anthem, promising that a new dawn lies ahead.
Explaining his personal journey, one jihadist says he was forced to leave Mumbai for the Khorasan region, or the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands, after the 2008 shootout at Batla House in which Indian Mujahideen Commander Atif Amin was killed.
This first Hijrat, or religious migration, was followed by a second one to Syria, the man recounts.
“In India”, the man who says he fled Mumbai says, “we see that it is that it is the cow, the trees, the sun, the moon…that is worshipped. Instead of fighting these things, the Muslims of India trade and maintain social relations with these infidels”.
He vows, though, to return to avenge atrocities against Muslims in India. “Have you forgotten the train bombings in Mumbai or the bombings in Ahmedabad, and Surat, and Jaipur and Delhi”, he asks.
The video assails mainstream Muslim politicians and clerics for compromising with what the narrator describes as a tyrannical system responsible for massacring Muslims. Images of the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Assaduddin Owaisi and All India United Democratic Front politician Badruddin Ajmal are juxtaposed with dead bodies of victims of communal riots. Indian Muslim politicians are attacked for associating with non-Muslim leaders: one image shows the Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyar embracing a Hindu priest and Muslim cleric.
The most acid invective, though, is reserved for Indian clerics who, the video says, are supporting the forces of Kufr against the Mujahideen of the Islamic State.







A screen grab from the video shows a group of purported jihadists threatening attacks in India.
Insisting that armed jihad “in the way of Allah” is an individual religious obligation incumbent on every individual Muslim, the video warns clerics that they will soon meet their reckoning.
“Do not listen to those who tell you that Islam is a religion of peace”, one jihadist says, his face digitally masked over. “Islam was never a religion of peace for even one day. Islam is a religion of war. The Prophet commanded us to remain at war until the day the rule of Allah is established”. The video mocks Muslims protesting against the Islamic State.
The jihadists interviewed also praised the quality of life in the Islamic State. “Here there is Shari’a”, one says. “Here the hands of thieves are cut off. Here, our religion is safe”.
Indian Mujahideen cadre are known to have travelled to Islamic State-held territory from 2014, after rejecting the leadership of their Karnataka-born chief Riyaz Ahmad Shahbandri, also known as Riyaz Bhatkal.
The men include one-time Mumbai hospital employee Abu Rashid; Shahnawaz Ahmad, a Unani doctor and the son of a local Samajwadi Party politician in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh; and students Mohamma‘ ‘Bada’ Sajid, Mirza Shadab Beig. Karnataka Muhammad Shafi Armar, one of the Indian Mujahideen fugitives, has been named by the NIA as a key suspect in several recent arrests related to Islamic State.
Source: indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/avenge-babri-isis-video-islamic-state-indian-mujahideen
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/islam,terrorism-and-jihad/praveen-swami/coming-to-avenge-babri,-kashmir,-gujarat,-muzaffarnagar--isis-video/d/107367#sthash.SuDPOzWT.dpuf

Iranian Women Cut Off Their Hair and Dress As Men to Avoid Morality Police












Photo: I am an Iranian girl. In order to avoid the morality police, I decided to cut my hair short and wear men's clothes so that I can freely walk in the streets in Iran(Facebook)

Iranian models arrested for posing on Instagram with hair on show
Women Panel Issues Notice To Aligarh Muslim University over Charges of Gender Bias
Women Deliver Hope in Ridding Pakistan Of Polio
Great Western Debate: What’s Cooking under the Muslim Headscarf?
Biden: Diverse Military of Women, Gays Strengthens U.S. Forces
Twisted rape tale hands women power – ‘Salesman’ an Iranian revenge film
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau


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Iranian women cut off their hair and dress as men to avoid morality police
21st May 2016
Rules on 'Islamic dress' for women are enforced by police in Iran. In this picture, two policewomen warn a woman (centre) about her hair and clothing during a crackdown on skirting of the law in 2007. Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Women in Iran are cutting their hair short and dressing as men in a bid to bypass state 'morality' police who rigorously enforce penalties for not wearing a hijab.
A number of women have shared photos of themselves in public with their hair uncovered on Instagram and other social media.
The women have cut their hair short in some images and in others are dressed in clothes more typically associated with men.
The hijab is becoming an increasingly contentious issue in Iran as women step up their campaign against it and other oppressive, gendered laws. In recent months, women have been filmed walking through Tehran with their hair uncovered and activists have urged Western tourists to violate laws by refusing to wear the hijab during their visits to the Islamic republic.
But the response from authorities to this resistance has been severe.
A politician was disqualified from Iranian parliament after photos purporting to show her in public without a headscarf emerged, despite her insistence they were fake.
This week, eight models were reportedly detained for posting "vulgar" pictures on social media with their hair uncovered. One was pictured apparently making a public apology on state TV.
Fearing similar repercussions, many women have now made their profiles private.
In a photo that provoked a particularly strong reaction on Instagram, a woman took a selfie while driving in her car with short hair, without a hijab on, as a man on a scooter rode past.
In another, a girl appears with short hair and wearing a shirt and jeans. The caption next to the picture reads: “I am an Iranian girl. In order to avoid the morality police, I decided to cut my hair short and wear men's clothes so that I can freely walk in the streets in Iran.”
The issue of compulsory hijab is also being raised by men.
On 14 May, Pejman Rahbar, an Iranian sports journalist, shared a picture of a girl who had dressed up as a man to attend a football match alongside a picture of a male coach.
In a translation obtained by The Independent, he wrote: “Abdollah Veysi trains a team in one of the least developed areas in Iran's Khuzestan province and he has managed to lead his team to championship through his tireless efforts.
"I am peeking at the tears of joy coming from this instructor as well as the determined-looking girl that I see, browsing through her phone.
"These two people are actually very akin to one another. The two are champions and have both celebrated their victory in their own way.
"These two different people have encouraged their team the same way and shown the same enthusiasm for their own victory. The efforts of the girl, who had hidden her gender by donning the colours of her team, were very much worth seeing though."
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist, has shared some of the images on her My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page.
Now based in New York, she launched her campaign against compulsory hijab-wearing two years ago. It has almost a million followers.
Highlighting the image of the woman driving, she said it summed up the defiance demonstrated by many women who are fighting to live their lives freely.
“Some girls in Iran would rather secretly dress as men to avoid the compulsory hijab and the morality police,” she said. “So that is why they make their hair short in order to look like a boy and dress like a boy.
“It shows that although the Government arrests women who post their photos without headscarves, women are not afraid and they are following their own lifestyle.
“The Government wants to create fear but women have found their own way to freely walk in the streets of Iran or drive without covering their heads. It is a serious cultural war between two lifestyles. For women, their hair is their identity and making it short to just avoid the morality police is really heartbreaking, but in a way, it is brave.
“The head scarf issue often features prominently in the constant tug of war between hard-liners and Iran’s youth society. Iran’s laws require that all women, from the age of seven when they start school, cover their hair out of a traditional respect for culture and morality. But so far, Iranian women are brave to break this discriminatory law.”
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken a more progressive stance than his predecessors on the hijab, which has been compulsory for women since 1979.
But he has little power to stop those enforcing dress codes and when confronted with pictures from Ms Alinejad’s website last year, he would only say those living in Iran “should abide by the laws of the country”.
independent.co.uk/news/people/iranian-women-cut-hair-off-and-dress-as-men-to-avoid-morality-police-a7041236.html
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Iranian models arrested for posing on Instagram with hair on show
21st May 2016
A famous Iranian model has been arrested for posing on Instagram with her hair on show in a sting under which Kim Kardashian has been accused of being a spy.
Elham Arab is one of various models who have been detained in an effort by police to stop “un-Islamic acts” such as showing their hair.
Arab was named among the ‘Spider II’ sting, which has named as many as 170 Instagram pages.
Among those named in the sting were models, photographers, make-up artists and designers.
Kim Kardashian was accused of a secret conspiracy backed by Instagram aiming to corrupt women in the Middle East.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom was accused of conspiring with the Kardashian to corrupt women.
Arab was interrogated on camera at the Iranian Revolutionary Court. Appearing in the court she had her hair covered with a black chador.
She said: “All people love beauty and fame… They would like to be seen, but it is important to know what price they will pay to be seen.”
The model is known for her long blonde hair and for posing in bridal fashion shoots on social media, was charged by the court with “promoting western promiscuity”.
She apologised for the photos which she posted to Instagram in which she did not have her hair covered.
Her interrogation was aired on Iranian television.
Others, including couple Elnaz Golrokh and Hamid Fadaei, who have 850,000 followers have fled Iran and are now living in Dubai.
Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said: “This kind of stifling and intimidation will only deprive Iranians of the cultural and artistic vitality that is rightfully theirs and further alienate the country’s youth.”
Elham
“The Revolutionary Guards’ assault on Iran’s fashion industry testifies to the fear of hardliners who try to control every aspect of people’s lives and squash any visible challenge to their narrow world view.”
Wearing of the hijab by all women has been compulsory in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution when strict Islamic law was introduced.
pinknews.co.uk/2016/05/21/iranian-models-arrested-for-posing-on-instagram-with-hair-on-show/
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Women Panel Issues Notice To Aligarh Muslim University over Charges of Gender Bias
22 May, 2016
Last week The Hindu had reported that some professional UG courses apart, women were barred from enrolling in undergraduate courses in the main campus of AMU.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has written to Aligarh Muslim University about alleged discrimination against girls in the university, asking them for an explanation.
Last week The Hindu had reported that some professional UG courses apart, women were barred from enrolling in undergraduate courses in the main campus of AMU. Instead, they went to the Women's College, which has very limited resources, seats and other educational facilities.
Several women faculty members of Women’s College and renowned historian Prof. Irfan Habib had told The Hindu about “AMU’s discriminatory policies” and said that different cut-off lists for girls and boys with fewer seats for girls leading to high cutoffs for them was one of the issues of concern.
In a letter to the AMU Vice Chancellor Lt. Gn. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah, NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam condemned “such form of gender bias in access to educational opportunities”, and said: “The National Commission for Women is deeply perturbed by the report that appeared in The Hindu, dated May 9, titled ‘AMU charged with bias'.”
Ms. Kumaramangalam's letter said the “ban” against girls from taking admission in UG courses in the main campus was a “clear case of gender discrimination” and is against the spirit of the Constitution which under articles 15, 16, 17, 38 and 48 guarantees that the State shall not discriminate between persons on the basis of their gender.
“AMU’s prejudiced educational policy is in sharp contradiction to the National Policy on Education, 1986 which envisaged…that in order to neutralize the accumulated distortions of the past, there will be a well-conceived edge in favour of women," said the letter, a copy of which is in possession of The Hindu.
Instead of providing "positive edge" in favour of women, the AMU’s educational policies are taking “retrograde steps”, pointed out the letter.
In the letter, Ms. Kumaramangalam asked the university to “provide a satisfactory explanation before the Commission on framing of such prejudiced educational policies against women and also furnish detailed information pertaining to University’s admission process, the percentage of male and female students in each course and facilities available for female students with respect to the to the main campus within 5 days.”
thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/women-panel-issues-notice-to-amu-over-charges-of-gender-bias/article8630435.ece
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Women deliver hope in ridding Pakistan of polio
By Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
KARACHI, Pakistan — Her slender hand sheathed in a black glove, Saira Nizamuddin gathered the fabric of her abaya as she stepped across an alley strewn with rocks and trash.
The 19-year-old health worker walked alone, the mid-morning sun pressing down on the dirt streets and soaking into the black fabric covering her from head to toe. It was better this way, she thought. In the past, for security reasons, police officers had followed her as she visited houses to administer the polio vaccine to children.
Now, she and 10 vaccinators, all local women, were working unguarded. The low-profile approach was meant to assuage fears in their community that the vaccine was unsafe, forbidden by Islam or a cover for Western espionage — rumors that have given the crippling virus, eradicated nearly everywhere else in the world, a footholdin conservative Pakistan.
“This is my neighborhood,” Nizamuddin said. “We’re fine without the police.”
On the third day of a weeklong anti-polio drive last month in Karachi, Nizamuddin turned left down an unmarked road. Two colleagues were waiting outside a residence. A metal gate opened slightly, and the women slipped inside.
Two hours later, however, the campaign was suspended across the city. Nizamuddin and her team were instructed to go home immediately. A few miles away, in a rough-and-tumble district called Orangi Town, seven police officers providing security for a polio team had been shot to death by gunmen riding motorcycles.
Pakistan’s long struggle against the disease was interrupted once again.
The militant violence that has claimed tens of thousands of Pakistani lives in the past decade also has stood in the way of a multibillion-dollar global campaign to wipe out what once was among the world’s most feared afflictions.
From 1988, when the world reported more than 350,000 new polio cases, the number dropped to just 74 last year: 54 in Pakistan, the rest in Afghanistan. Those are the only countries where the virus hangs on, finding sanctuary in the remote, mountainous border region and in the open sewers of hot, crowded neighborhoods in Karachi, a melting pot of 22 million-plus inhabitants.
India was declared polio-free in 2014, five years after it accounted for half the cases in the world. Nigeria, formerly a reservoir for the disease in Africa, hasn’t reported a new case in nearly two years.
“It feels like all the fingers are pointing at us,” said Aziz Memon, chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign in Pakistan.
Polio invades the central nervous system, can trigger life-threatening paralysis and is easily transmitted between humans in places with poor sanitation. There is no cure, but the virus can be eliminated from a population through mass immunizations. In the United States, that has meant injecting young children with the vaccine introduced by Jonas Salk in the 1950s.
But in countries like Pakistan, where children are more vulnerable to infections and there are fewer trained health workers, community-wide resistance to the disease has been improved with a less-expensive oral vaccine — a couple of drops on a child’s tongue, administered multiple times before age 5.
Workers go door-to-door throughout the year in an effort to reach every child, a painstaking mission underwritten by international donors at a cost of $1 billion every year. The U.S. has spent more than $1.3 billion on global anti-polio efforts since 2009.
But health officials and international experts think Pakistan could finally stop the spread of the disease this year. One of their reasons for optimism is people like Nizamuddin, who is part of a new strategy to employ local women to administer the vaccine and make regular house visits in some of the highest risk areas.
That includes her neighborhood in Gulshan, a warren of low-slung concrete blocks in eastern Karachi that is home to a large population of migrants from the Afghan border region, and the remote province of Baluchistan, both polio hotbeds. A 17-month-old boy was diagnosed with the virus here in December, the seventh case in the city last year.
Reports said the boy’s family had refused the vaccine. For years, Pakistani Taliban militants waged a propaganda war against the immunizations, describing them as a Western plot to sterilize Muslims and issuing a fatwa, or religious decree, against female health workers.
In 2012, militant leaders in the border area banned vaccinations in protest of U.S. drone strikes, leaving half a million children out of reach. The same year, immunization teams came under attack after it emerged that the CIA previously had enlisted a Pakistani doctor to snoop on Osama bin Laden’s hideout using the cover of a fake anti-hepatitis campaign.
Attacks blamed on extremists since have killed more than 100 health workers and security forces assigned to protect them. Male vaccinators in particular were suspected as spies, making them reluctant to travel without escort.
“People would ask me, ‘Are you a real health worker or a fake one?’ ” said Nizamuddin, who has worked on polio drives for four years. “Or parents would refuse on religious grounds.”
From 2012, when Pakistan recorded just 58 new polio cases — and none in Karachi — the number jumped to 306 in 2014, by far the most of any country.
Over the past two years, a security crackdown against militants in the border area and inside Karachi has allowed polio workers back into many former no-go zones. By late 2015, only about 30,000 children remained inaccessible, and transmission had slowed considerably: In the first four months of this year, Pakistan had eight new polio cases, down from 22 over the comparable period last year.
But the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Independent Monitoring Board warned that without successful vaccination campaigns this spring, the disease would reemerge in the heat of summer.
“We were very close in the last decade,” said Memon, the PolioPlus campaign chairman in Pakistan. “This time, we hope we’re not going to miss the opportunity.”
From the parking lot of a government health clinic in Gulshan, pairs of female health workers, covered from head to toe in headscarves and black abayas, set off into the neighborhood carrying vials of polio vaccines in unmarked thermos bottles.
Three paramilitary Rangers in drab uniforms watched from a parked pickup, then drove off to patrol the periphery of the neighborhood. The women didn’t see them again for hours.
“There’s no need for security,” said Sikander Ali, a local health department official, who added that the presence of gun-toting police often scared residents. “People view the female health workers as locals.”
In the monochrome crowd, Nizamuddin, a team leader, stood out with a glittery blue headband, oversized purple watch and yellow trousers peeking out from under her abaya.
She comes from a family of polio workers. Her two elder sisters volunteered until they got married; her mother worked for eight years until she had to drop out this year because she couldn’t read, and the World Health Organization sought to recruit more educated women.
“She feels bad,” Nizamuddin said of her mother. “But she is happy that I can still help the cause.”
The WHO increased funding for female health workers, who earn full-time salaries of $150 a month. Attendance and morale have improved over the earlier system, which employed part-timers, including men, whose $5 daily wages were paid by the government, and often delayed.
“The men weren’t as dedicated,” Nizamuddin said. “And families used to refuse male workers. The interaction we have is totally different.”
One of her team members, Nagma, a mother of four, said few families reject the immunizations now. In one case, she persuaded a reluctant mother to allow the vaccine to be given by showing her cellphone pictures of her own children, who had been vaccinated multiple times.
In more difficult cases, the women called on Surat Khan Osman, a genial local cleric with a black beard that shone like lacquer and a battered cellphone that flashed with text messages notifying him of families who declined vaccinations.
Officials say clerics have become key partners. That morning, Osman and a team of female vaccinators visited two houses where parents claimed the vaccine would cause infertility. He won them over with a copy of a 2014 fatwa from religious scholars that said the vaccine was “fully permissible” under Islamic law and that parents were obligated to protect their children from polio.
“We are part of the community,” Osman said, “so people cannot refuse us.”
The morning after last month’s shooting death of the officers, shaken health workers resumed the drive across the city. Rangers beefed up their presence in some areas; plainclothes security forces shadowed teams in others.
In Nizamuddin’s neighborhood of Sachal Goth, the women opted for an even lower profile. They avoided being seen in groups and varied their schedules. For the rest of the week, they tried to complete their rounds before lunch.
By week’s end, the teams in Sachal Goth inoculated 2,117 children — two dozen more than had been counted in a pre-campaign survey days earlier. One of Nizamuddin’s teams found a child whose family was visiting from outside the city and wasn’t on their list, but took the opportunity to administer the polio drops because he was scheduled to be vaccinated.
The female teams are now covering nearly 40 percent of Karachi’s 2.2 million children younger than 5, and the initiative soon could be expanded further. International officials describe its success as part of an overall improvement in Pakistan’s management of the crisis.
“The results are very promising,” said Huma Khan, a UNICEF polio specialist who has worked in the field for seven years. “It looks like we’re getting close to eradication. I’ve never been so hopeful that this can be done.”
gosanangelo.com/news/women-deliver-hope-in-ridding-pakistan-of-polio-3336e12c-bbbc-6c9e-e053-0100007ff7db--380375661.html
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Great Western debate: What’s cooking under the Muslim headscarf?
Catherine Shakdam
Published time: 22 May, 2016
'Lord forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing' … I wonder if this famous quote could apply to our modern-day great freak out over Muslim women and the headscarf. The audacity really! Why cover up when you could be free?
Free, however, is actually the point. If we are in fact living in the free and liberal societies that Western officials have been boasting about, then why hold a bit of clothing in such utter contempt?
Technically, a scarf actually qualifies as an accessory, so whether one prefers to wrap it around one’s head, neck, shoulders or ankle, I don’t quite see how one is making a political statement - never mind affirming the objectification of women.
Before liberals and secular-crazy Frenchmen come at me with their forks and their pikes, screaming republican apostasy, let me clear a few misconceptions (Yes, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, my sarcasm is directed at you, and your grand-standing bias). Why do women wear the headscarf? I’m referring here to the actual headscarf (also known as a hijab), not the face veil.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret: Muslim women wear the headscarf because they want to! I know what a shocker! Can you imagine? Muslim women being actually capable of making decisions for themselves… this is down-right revolutionary.
In all seriousness though, the overwhelming majority of Muslim women who do happen to cover their hair have chosen to do so because they feel it stands as a manifestation to both their faith, Islam, and the covenant they made with God – to abide by His rules on modesty. There is no hidden agenda, only a woman’s desire to live her faith the way she best sees fit, in accordance with the religious traditions which she identifies.
Before anyone remarks on the relevance of this religious rule, let me kindly remind you that whether or not you agree with what Islam commands is not the point. The point is that communities should be free to exercise their religious rights.
Now, although Muslim women are encouraged to cover their hair, and dress modestly, the headscarf is NOT, I repeat is NOT compulsory – not in the sense that it should ever be imposed. See, there is this crazy concept in Islam that in religion there could never be compulsion – in other words, men and women are inherently free to choose for themselves how they want to live their faith … or not for that matter.
If you look closely you will note that within the same Muslim family, some women will adorn the headscarf, while others will prefer to play it “liberal”. And who cares; I can tell you that the last thing Muslim women think about, or talk about, are their headscarves – or lack of. A scarf is just a scarf … so unless you are Mellissa Rivers hosting Fashion Police, let it be already!
Can we please gather our wits and once and for all leave the French to their psychosis? Scarves are not weapons, and they certainly are not signs of dangerous indoctrination. How exactly would that work anyway? Are Western officials suggesting that headscarves prevent blood flow to the brain, and thus could prompt psychotic episodes? Would a radical stop being a radical depending on his or her fashion of clothing?
What was it that the French Prime Minister said this April? “France should protect Muslims from extremism”, and that “a headscarf oppresses women and is not an object of fashion or consumption like any other." Valls’ reference to fashion was made to echo, and anchor Minister Laurence Rossignol’s statement on how headscarves are a mark of slavery which should be abolished and banned at once.
Certain French officials and many bigots around the world have systematically exploited the same argument - that the headscarf represents not only the enslavement of women, but asserts their inferiority and affirms their objectification. I’d like to know how! Are we actually linking a woman’s freedom, sense of worth, and status to the amount of clothing she chooses to wear? Is Prime Minister Valls suggesting then that a bikini-clad woman stands the epitome of emancipation? I hope not because that would be chauvinistic. Chauvinism is exactly what Muslim women face today – chauvinism and neo-colonial bias.
Now, I will grant you that Muslim women across the world have suffered, and continue to suffer great many injustices, but none of which are remotely linked to the headscarf. Forget Saudi Arabia, the Taliban or ISIL militants’ insane demands that women be made to disappear altogether under a black shroud, so they could deny their humanity. There is an entire universe in between a headscarf and a burka.
While a headscarf represents a Muslim woman’s declaration of faith to the world – just like a cross would for a Christian, a burka screams abuse and oppression. If you want to get angry at something, get angry at that. Millions of women today cower under the yoke of brutal men … and still we argue fashion correctness.
While Western officials will hold grand debates on the veil, arguing constitutional changes and bans, they have no qualms sitting across a table with those powers, which seek the factual enslavement of women.
In early January, Saudi Arabia aired a program on national television entitled: ‘How to properly beat your wife.’ I am not being funny here … a certified psychologist looked straight at the camera as he went about schooling men on how to “discipline” their wives.
So if you want to discuss radicalization, indoctrination and overall lunacy, look not at Muslim women and their preferred fashion, but those who still wield religion (Wahhabism) as a tool to enslave body and mind in order to raise tyrants over men.
rt.com/op-edge/343985-western-debate-muslim-headscarf/
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Biden: Diverse Military of Women, Gays Strengthens U.S. Forces
May. 21, 2016         
WEST POINT, N.Y. (TheBlaze/AP) — Vice President Joe Biden told the U.S. Military Academy’s class of 2016 on Saturday that greater diversity, including more women and openly gay soldiers, will strengthen the country’s armed forces.
“Having men and women together in the battlefield is an incredible asset, particularly when they’re asked to lead teams in parts of the world with fundamentally different expectations and norms,” Biden said in his speech at a graduation ceremony at Michie Stadium on the West Point grounds along the Hudson River.
More than 950 cadets received their degrees and commissions as second lieutenants. Among them were the first seven women to be commissioned into combat divisions since combat restrictions for them were lifted.
The vice president saluted class president Eugene “E.J.” Coleman for publicly coming out as gay.
Before the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2010, “E.J. would have been discharged from the Army, and we would have lost an incredible talent,” he said. “Thanks for your courage, E.J., and I expect we’re going to hear big things from you, pal.”
Biden also warned the graduating class that it’s facing a vast range of complex challenges, including battling Islamic State extremists, containing outbreaks of contagious diseases and defending against cyberattacks.
“Whenever the stakes are highest, we turn to the United States Army,” he said. “Whether it’s fighting terrorism, training our partners, reassuring our allies or providing humanitarian relief, we call on you,” he said. “And right now, the stakes could not be higher.”
Biden singled out cyberattacks as a growing threat that could allow American enemies to knock out the nation’s power grid or disable satellite systems.
“The bad thing about advanced technology is that it gives immense powers to stateless actors,” Biden said.
He added: “You’ll need to dominate the cyber realm as you do the physical one.”
Biden also was West Point’s commencement speaker in 2012.
theblaze.com/stories/2016/05/21/biden-diverse-military-of-women-gays-strengthens-u-s-forces/
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Twisted rape tale hands women power – ‘Salesman’ an Iranian revenge film
May. 21, 2016
CANNES, France, May 21, (Agencies): A twisted rape thriller by “Basic Instinct” director Paul Verhoeven drew rave reviews Saturday in Cannes, where it was one of two films about a woman trying to prise back control from her attacker. As a psychological rape comedy-thriller, the Dutch director’s latest work “Elle” had everything to set critics on edge before the screening.
But the story of a powerful woman played by French actress Isabelle Huppert who is assaulted and embarks on a dangerous game with her attacker, was a surprise hit for its portrayal of a woman taking vengeance in her own, unexpected way. Huppert, 63, who some critics said had delivered the performance of her career, told journalists that it was the fact that her character “does not react in a predictable manner that creates the tension.”
“There is a suspense in the character herself because you don’t know exactly what she thinks.” French website L’Express hailed the film and its “perverse ambiguity”, which drew plenty of laughs from the audience. “One can already hear screams of bloody murder about the unacceptable link between rape and pleasure. It has nothing to do with that,” wrote its critic.
Hilarious
The Guardian’s Nigel Smith tweeted that the film was “perverse, hilarious and insanely pleasurable”. The movie is based on the book “Oh …” by Philippe Dijan, who dismissed views that Huppert’s character had fallen in love with her attacker. “She is someone who tries not to obey all the codes of society. She feels this is really her own personal freedom, and that is a bit frightening because she is a woman and people don’t want women to be free,” he said.
Huppert said she was not worried about people’s reaction to her bizarre relationship with her rapist, who she continues to draw into her life. “It’s not a statement about a woman being raped and accepting it. It doesn’t mean it happens to all women in the world. It happens to that woman in particular as an individual,” said Huppert.
The question of how a woman reacts to her attacker was also raised in the latest film by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, “The Salesman”, which also premieres Saturday. A couple is thrown into turmoil after an attack on the wife (Taraneh Alidoosti) in their home — the full nature of which is never clear — sends her husband on a revenge mission.
However she does not want him to exact the retribution he plans, and presents him with an ultimatum that she will leave him if he goes ahead with it, handing power back to her traumatised character. “I think both men and women are capable of violence, and a violence they think is legitimate,” Farhadi told AFP in an interview.
“Around the world one of our main challenges is violence that appears legitimate to those who carry it out.” Now that the dust is settling on Cannes 2016, it’s very possible that not a single movie that screened here will snag a best picture Oscar nod.
The project that came to Cannes with the loudest awards buzz was Jeff Nichols’ “Loving,” and it leaves the festival with its Oscars hopes intact — even if it didn’t earn the same raves as “Carol”. The story of a interracial couple (played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), whose fight against anti-miscegenation laws led to a groundbreaking 1967 Supreme Court ruling, “Loving” is timely after the backlash from two consecutive years of #OscarsSoWhite. But it feels too quiet at times, at others, too “made-for-TV”. That restraint was nevertheless a goal. “It’s a very quiet civil rights film”, Nichols told Variety in an interview earlier this year. “Bombs aren’t exploding. Crosses aren’t burning. But the tension is all there”.
Focus Features acquired “Loving” out of the Berlin Film Festival in February, and like the distributor’s 2015 hopeful “The Danish Girl”, it might just miss out on a best pic nod. But its acclaimed lead performances will factor into the acting categories. Edgerton’s challenge will be that his work on screen is so understated, with the anger simmering beneath the surface of his character’s skin, whereas Academy voters tend to favor performances that explode. But by next January, bet on Negga as being one of the five women in the best actress race (particularly after voters get a load of her range on TV’s ultra-violent “Preacher” this summer).
The movie that generated the most excitement on the Croisette was Andrea Arnold’s dazzling “American Honey”, about a group of kids hustling for money on a cross-country road trip. At nearly three hours long, this favorite to win the Palme d’Or has the opposite problem as “Loving”: It’s probably too daring for most Oscar voters’ tastes. “American Honey” follows in the tradition of “Kids” or “Thirteen”, but it’s unlike any movie that I’ve ever seen.
It would be hysterical (in the best possible way) if lead actor Shia LaBeouf, after a string of bizarre performance art stunts, somehow found himself at the Dolby Theater with the likes of Meryl Streep and Matt Damon. He certainly delivers a tour-de-force, career-defining performance as the film’s male anti-hero, Jake. More likely, though, if enough voters see “American Honey”, Arnold could become the first woman nominated for best director since Kathryn Bigelow won the category in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker”. The fact that the director’s branch of the Academy has more indie-skewing tastes will work in her favor, if A24 spends enough money to properly campaign for the film.
In Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper”, Kristen Stewart delivers one of her strongest turns — a raw and eerie portrait of a woman dealing with her twin brother’s unexpected death. But the IFC Films release may not open in the United States until 2017, and Oscar voters aren’t fans of spooky stories (just ask Nicole Kidman about 2001’s “The Others”).
CANNES, France: Solveig Anspach’s “The Together Project” (L’Effet Aquatique) got a long standing ovation at a Cannes Film Festival “Directors Fortnight” showing, described by her co-writer as cathartic after the director’s death last year.
The cast and crew — most of them also involved in Anspach’s two previous films: “Lulu Femme Nue” and “Queen of Montreuil” — burst into tears after the screening.
Jean-Luc Gaget, a long-time collaborator of the American-Icelandic director, took over the editing process after Anspach died of cancer aged 54 before she could finish the film.
“It was solace to see that the film was here (in Cannes), that she was here with us. It was a cathartic moment that we’d been waiting for a long time because it was tough to finish this movie without her”, Gaget told Reuters.
“We were all very proud that this movie was here”.
arabtimesonline.com/news/twisted-rape-tale-hands-women-power-salesman-iranian-revenge-film/


- See more at: http://newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/iranian-women-cut-off-their-hair-and-dress-as-men-to-avoid-morality-police/d/107381#sthash.JdZJNNNZ.dpuf

What ISIS Does Is Un-Islamic, Inhuman: Muslim’s Leaders of India












Photo: Local residents gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike in which Mansoor was believed to be travelling. Photograph: AFP/Getty

CEO Abdullah Confirms Mullah Mansoor Killed In Drone Strike in Quetta
Isis Video Shows Indonesian Children Training With Ak-47s
Balochistan Govt to Register All Madrasas with Education Department
Islamic State's Lasting Grip Is A New Hurdle for Europe, US
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India
What ISIS Does Is Un-Islamic, Inhuman: Muslim’s Leaders of India
Kalyan Youth's Kin Junk IS Video, Say Muslims Safe Here
5 militants killed in encounter in Kupwara, 2 soldiers injured
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South Asia
CEO Abdullah Confirms Mullah Mansoor Killed In Drone Strike In Quetta
Some Taliban Leaders May Join Peace with Confirmation of Mansoor’s Death: Abdullah
23 Dead, 500,000 Flee As Cyclone Roanu Hits Bangladesh
Heavy explosions reported near governor’s office in Herat city
Expanded trade ties tops agenda as Ghani meets Emir and PM of Qatar
China to start building houses for govt employees later this year: Abdullah
Mansoor’s relations reportedly became strained with Pakistan recently
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Southeast Asia
Isis Video Shows Indonesian Children Training With Ak-47s
Perkasa Wants New Islamic Council to Fix Muslim Disunity
Petraeus: Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists
Six Malaysian Muslim Fashion Brands To Showcase Collections At MUFFEST In Jakarta
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Pakistan
Balochistan Govt to Register All Madrasas with Education Department
Pakistan Seeks 'Clarification' Of US Strike on Taliban Chief Mullah Mansour
Al-Qaida country head killed in Pakistan
Pakistan applies for NSG membership
Pak PM breaks ground for Pak-China Optical Fibre Cable project in PoK
Why drone blowback in Pakistan is a myth
Pakistan hands over border crossing facility at Angoor Ada to Afghan forces
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Europe
Islamic State's Lasting Grip Is A New Hurdle for Europe, US
Pope Hails Election of Sadiq Khan, Celebrates Mass Muslim Migration into Europe
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North America
Trump Supporter Calls Sikh-American Councilman A 'Terrorist'
House of Representatives votes to block $450 million US aid to Pakistan
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Arab World
High-Ranking ISIL Leaders Seeking to Leave Syria with Fake Identity
Syrian Army, Allies Ready to Join Large-Scale Operations to Liberate Raqqa
Four killed, 90 injured in Baghdad’s Green Zone riots
UN Secretary General urges talks to end Syria 'nightmare'
Iran calls for 'more concrete' US action to encourage investors
Lebanese Source: US, French Intelligence Officers Captured by Hezbollah in Aleppo
Al-Nusra Terrorists Continue to Cross Turkish Border into Northern Syria
Syrian Army Continues to Push ISIL back from more Lands East of Homs
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Mideast
Turkey Deploys More Military Equipment at Borders with Syria
AKP extraordinary congress to name Yıldırım as new chairman, PM begins
EU expresses serious concern over Turkish parliament decision to lift immunities
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Africa
Algeria Refused to Hear Rape Complaint Because Victim Wasn't Muslim
West Africa: Evolving jihadist strategy increases threat to regional capitals
Muslim Student Holds Head Scarf High, Graduates with Honours, Goals
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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What ISIS Does Is Un-Islamic, Inhuman: Muslim’s Leaders of India
Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN | May 22, 2016
MUMBAI: Muslim leaders have dismissed Islamic State's latest propaganda video focused on India as a can of lies aimed at disrupting social harmony in India.
"If you have friends like Islamic State, who needs enemies?" said senior community leader Ghulam Peshimam, elaborating that Islamic State is the worst enemy of Muslims."They can't win over Indian Muslims till India has vibrant democracy, secularism and a fair justice system. Yes, polarization of Indian society may create a fertile ground for IS to find some traction here," he said.
Muslim leaders unequivocally denounced the IS which, through the video, attacks some Muslim politicians and clerics for creating an alliance with "kafirs (infidels)". "Indian Muslims reject terrorism of Islamic State. We don't need any advocacy from a violent group like Daesh or ISIS," said All India United Democratic Front leader Badruddin Ajmal whose photograph has been juxtaposed with picture of riot victims in the video. "The fact that we have voting rights here and enjoy religious freedom speaks volumes. Indian Muslims will not get attracted by ISIS propaganda. "
Pervez Lakdawala of Indian Union Muslim League said IS cannot be sympathetic to Muslims as it represents a medieval mindset.
Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan said, "Islam is a religion of peace. What ISIS does is unIslamic and inhuman. Indian Muslim youths will not fall in their trap. The video is perhaps issued to lure more youths from India that fortunately has not provided them many recruits."
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/What-IS-does-is-un-Islamic-inhuman-Muslims-leaders/articleshow/52380907.cms
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CEO Abdullah confirms Mullah Mansoor killed in drone strike in Quetta
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has confirmed the supreme leader of the Taliban group Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a drone strike in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province of Pakistan.
CEO Abdullah confirmed the death of Mullah Mansoor in an online statement, saying “Taliban leader Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a drone strike in Quetta, Pakistan at 4:30 pm yesterday.”
Abdulllah further added that Mansoor’s car was attacked in Dahl Bandin area of Quetta.
The confirmation by CEO Abdullah followed shortly after the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), confirmed the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan.
The US Department of Defense first confirmed on Saturday that the Taliban supreme leader was targeted in a drone strike.
“Today, the Department of Defense conducted an airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansur in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region,” a statement by Department of Defense said.
The Afghan government also confirmed that the vehicle of Mullah Mansoor was targeted in an airstrike in the southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal.
However, the Afghan government said an investigation is underway to confirm that death of Mansoor which would be announced as soon as they receive final information confirming his death.
khaama.com/ceo-abdullah-confirms-mullah-mansoor-killed-in-drone-strike-in-quetta-01029
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Isis video shows Indonesian children training with Ak-47s
May 21, 2016
JAKARTA: A video posted by the Islamic State shows some Indonesian children practicing shooting hand guns and AK-47 rifles, before setting fire to their passports. The boys, all aged 8 to 12 years, are being trained by Abu Faiz al Indunesy: the militiaman is sought by Jakarta and operates as a sniper in Syria for terrorists.
The video lasts about 20 minutes. It shows 23 children (called "Caliphate puppies"), some of whom are from Malaysia and the Philippines. The film also contains phrases that are direct threats to States in Southeast Asia, which "will not be able to defeat" IS.
According Ridlwan Habib, intelligence and terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia, the good quality of the images and the sound indicates that the video is original. The presence of children of different nationalities proves that it was shot in Syria. "The Tourist Office - he said - should make a serious assessment of why so many Indonesian children have managed to enter Syria."
The authorities are concerned that the video is trending on the internet and the influence it may have on the younger generation: "It is a serious matter and we are sorry," said Brig Amar Joey Boy, head of police public relations. "Now everything can be shared, and anyone can make propaganda online." Jakarta is planning to close the border to arrivals from Syria, in order to block the return of trained militiamen.
IS has been already operating in the country for some time. An IS terrorist who wants to prevail over other South-east Asian terrorist groups, has been blamed for the attacks on 14 January in Jakarta.
Indonesian authorities estimate that IS has about a thousand active supporters, a very small number considering that the country it is the most populous Islamic nation in the world with 250 million people (87 per cent Muslim). So far, some 600 Indonesians have reportedly gone to Syria to join the caliphate. Fifty are said to have died. Instead the BNPT anti-terrorism agency says at least 149 have returned from the Middle East.--Asia News
heraldmalaysia.com/news/isis-video-shows-indonesian-children-training-with-ak-47s/29359/2
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Balochistan govt to register all madrasas with education department
May 22nd, 2016
QUETTA: As part of the National Action Plan (NAP), Balochistan government has decided to register all seminaries in the province with the education department, it has been learnt.
The provincial government has constituted a four member high level committee to review the registration process and perform legislation for the proposed amendment in the Societies Registration Act.
The members of the committee include Balochistan education secretary, secretary home and tribal affairs, secretary industries and secretary social welfare, an official in the education department told DawnNews.
Know more: Seminary registration in Balochistan made compulsory
The education department has prepared a form to collect details about the location, name, teachers and students studying in the religious schools across Balochistan.
"This way we will get to know about the exact number of teachers and students in seminaries," he said.
Around 3,000 seminaries have already been registered with the provincial industries department under the Societies Registration Act in Balochistan. However, sources said the number of registered and non-registered seminaries across the province was still around 10,000.
The Societies Registration Act would be amended thus enabling the education department to register the seminaries instead of the industries department, the official said.
The education department has already launched registration of privately-run schools in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan, Secretary Education Saboor Kakar told DawnNews.
“After registration of schools, subsequently the seminaries would also be registered.”
dawn.com/news/1259791/balochistan-govt-to-register-all-madrasas-with-education-department
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Islamic State's lasting grip is a new hurdle for Europe, US
May 22, 2016
PARIS (AP) — The girl, speaking in the lilting accent of southern France, appeared in government ads describing how she was recruited by Islamic State extremists during her quest for religion, then encouraged to quit school and go to Syria, and finally to plot a suicide attack against a synagogue at home.
"I have a hard time even admitting now that I was indoctrinated," she says to the camera in the ad before breaking down, describing how she tried to recruit others.
The teen, known as Lea, was meant to be the poster child of a nascent program in France aimed at de-radicalizing young people to stem their flow to Syria. But the jihadi rehab didn't work. Six times she reconnected with the extremists, and six times she called her counselor in tears to apologize.
The seventh time, late in 2015, landed her in jail.
France's effort is one of many around the world trying to break the hold Muslim radicals have on their recruits by figuring out what drew them to the groups in the first place. The United States has launched its first formal effort in Minnesota, on the orders of a federal judge. But it's not clear how effective the programs can be in the long term. France alone has nearly 2,000 people like Lea — about 600 who have left for Syria, but far more who are involved in jihadi networks at home.
Across Europe, an estimated 5,000 people have joined extremist fighters in Syria, and about a third of them have returned. Most, experts and government officials say, will cause no harm.
Dounia Bouzar, who runs France's jihadi rehab program, works with more than 1,000 young people flagged as potential extremists. Lea's story, she said, is more the rule than the exception. Islamic State and al-Qaida extremists don't break off contact just because someone is caught — and the young people themselves have a hard time pulling away from what she described as their "online tribe."
"A young person who reconnects, that's normal," she said. "Monday, they come to bear witness and save others. Wednesday, they denounce someone who wants to leave and say, 'save him.' And Friday, they re-connect and threaten your life."
There is no reasoning with someone in the thrall of a jihadi group, those who run the program say, so the recruits have to experience tangible doubts about the jihadi promises they once believed. Bouzar said that can mean countering a message of anti-materialism by showing them the videos of fighters lounging in fancy villas or sporting watches with an Islamic State logo. Or finding someone who has returned from Syria to explain that instead of offering humanitarian aid, the extremists are taking over entire villages, sometimes lacing them with explosives.
Only once doubts are seeded can young would-be jihadis themselves reason their way back to their former selves, she said.
In the United States, a young Minnesota man who admitted he planned to go Syria to join the Islamic State group is among the first to take part in Minnesota's de-radicalization program, the first of its kind in the United States.
In early 2014, just after turning 18, Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf applied for a fast-track passport with a vague plan to go to Istanbul. He was stopped at the airport in May 2014, but remained free. He enrolled in community college, got a job, then was arrested in November that year on two terrorism charges for trying to join Islamic State. Yusuf, now 20, stayed in a halfway house while his case was pending and remained there after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He went back to jail after a box cutter was found beneath his bed. His lawyer says his client did not know anything about it.
sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/22/islamic-states-lasting-grip-is-a-new-hurdle-for/
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India
What ISIS Does Is Un-Islamic, Inhuman: Muslim’s Leaders of India
Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN | May 22, 2016
MUMBAI: Muslim leaders have dismissed Islamic State's latest propaganda video focused on India as a can of lies aimed at disrupting social harmony in India.
"If you have friends like Islamic State, who needs enemies?" said senior community leader Ghulam Peshimam, elaborating that Islamic State is the worst enemy of Muslims."They can't win over Indian Muslims till India has vibrant democracy, secularism and a fair justice system. Yes, polarization of Indian society may create a fertile ground for IS to find some traction here," he said.
Muslim leaders unequivocally denounced the IS which, through the video, attacks some Muslim politicians and clerics for creating an alliance with "kafirs (infidels)". "Indian Muslims reject terrorism of Islamic State. We don't need any advocacy from a violent group like Daesh or ISIS," said All India United Democratic Front leader Badruddin Ajmal whose photograph has been juxtaposed with picture of riot victims in the video. "The fact that we have voting rights here and enjoy religious freedom speaks volumes. Indian Muslims will not get attracted by ISIS propaganda. "
Pervez Lakdawala of Indian Union Muslim League said IS cannot be sympathetic to Muslims as it represents a medieval mindset.
Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan said, "Islam is a religion of peace. What ISIS does is unIslamic and inhuman. Indian Muslim youths will not fall in their trap. The video is perhaps issued to lure more youths from India that fortunately has not provided them many recruits."
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/What-IS-does-is-un-Islamic-inhuman-Muslims-leaders/articleshow/52380907.cms
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Kalyan youth's kin junk IS video, say Muslims safe here
Pradeep Gupta | TNN | May 22, 2016
KALYAN: The family of Fahad Shaikh and Amaan Tandel, who have allegedly joined the Islamic State (IS), on Saturday asked the terror group not to interfere in our country's internal issues a day after a purported video of the two emerged.
The video shows them with some people in which they claim that Muslims are not safe in India and that if the two of them return to India, they will come with a sword to seek revenge for the demolition of the Babri Masjid and for killings of Muslims in Kashmir and Gujarat.
The family members of the youths, however, said on Saturday that IS should not indulge in our country's affairs. The uncle of Fahad Shaikh, Iftiqar Khan, said he had learnt about such a video. "I would like to tell them not to interfere in our country's internal issues. Every family has its share of disputes but it is for the family members to sort them out. So, we as Indians will sort out our problems internally. There is no need for IS or any other outsider to teach us what we should do."
Khan said Muslims are "safe" in India. "In our country, if something happens to us, our Hindu brethren have come to our aid," he said, adding that Fahad had not contacted his parents or any other family member for the last six months.
The IS released a new 22-minute video in which another youth from Kalyan, Amaan Tandel, is also seen claiming that "here (he is believed to be in Syria]), we (Muslims) are happy with IS."
Besides Fahad and Amaan - Areeb Majeed and Shaheem Tanki - had allegedly gone to Syria to join IS. While Areeb returned to India in 2014, after fighting for the self-declared caliphate for a few months and was arrested, Shaeem was said to have died there. There had been no news of Fahad and Amaan. and his parents slowly even has started forgetting him but whenever any news or video comes about them their pain gets fresh.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kalyan-youths-kin-junk-IS-video-say-Muslims-safe-here/articleshow/52381803.cms
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5 militants killed in encounter in Kupwara, 2 soldiers injured
PTI | May 21, 2016
SRINAGAR: Five militants were killed in an encounter with security forces on Saturday in north Kashmir's Kupwara district that also left two soldiers injured.
Acting on specific information about the presence of militants in Drugmulla village of Kupwara, 81 km from Srinagar, a joint team of police and army cordoned-off the area, an army official said.
He said as the security forces were conducting a search operation, the holed-up militants fired at them, triggering a gunbattle.
During the encounter, five militants were killed, the official said, adding two soldiers also received injuries and they have been shifted to a hospital for treatment. Their condition is stable, the official said.
The identity of the slain militants is being ascertained, the official said, adding five weapons have been recovered from the encounter site.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/5-militants-killed-in-encounter-in-Kupwara-2-soldiers-injured/articleshow/52377225.cms
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South Asia
CEO Abdullah confirms Mullah Mansoor killed in drone strike in Quetta
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has confirmed the supreme leader of the Taliban group Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a drone strike in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province of Pakistan.
CEO Abdullah confirmed the death of Mullah Mansoor in an online statement, saying “Taliban leader Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a drone strike in Quetta, Pakistan at 4:30 pm yesterday.”
Abdulllah further added that Mansoor’s car was attacked in Dahl Bandin area of Quetta.
The confirmation by CEO Abdullah followed shortly after the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), confirmed the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in an airstrike in Pakistan.
The US Department of Defense first confirmed on Saturday that the Taliban supreme leader was targeted in a drone strike.
“Today, the Department of Defense conducted an airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansur in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region,” a statement by Department of Defense said.
The Afghan government also confirmed that the vehicle of Mullah Mansoor was targeted in an airstrike in the southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal.
However, the Afghan government said an investigation is underway to confirm that death of Mansoor which would be announced as soon as they receive final information confirming his death.
khaama.com/ceo-abdullah-confirms-mullah-mansoor-killed-in-drone-strike-in-quetta-01029
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Some Taliban leaders may join peace with confirmation of Mansoor’s death: Abdullah
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has said some Taliban leaders will likely join peace process with the confirmation of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor’s death.
Abdullah further added an investigation is underway by the government of Afghanistan to ascertain the fate of Mullah Mansoor.
The Chief Executive Officer said Mansoor has most probably been killed in the airstrike by the US forces which targeted his vehicle.
He also added that the government will announce the death of Mansoor once they have received accurate information regarding his fate.
Abdullah said Mansoor assumed charge of the Taliban leadership following the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar and spared no efforts to kill the Afghan people.
According to Abdullah, Mullah Mansoor was a major barrier on the way of the Afghan reconciliation efforts and his death will be a major blow to the Taliban group.
The US Department of Defense confirmed Saturday “Today, the Department of Defense conducted an airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansur in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.”
Calling Mansoor an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the Afghan government and Taliban, DOD said Mansoor as actively involved with planning attacks against facilities in Kabul and across Afghanistan, presenting a threat to Afghan civilians and security forces, our personnel, and coalition partners.
“Since the death of Mullah Omar and Mansur’s assumption of leadership, the Taliban have conducted many attacks that have resulted in the death of tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and Afghan security forces as well as numerous U.S. and coalition personnel. We are still assessing the results of the strike and will provide more information as it becomes available,” the statement added.
khaama.com/some-taliban-leaders-may-join-peace-with-confirmation-of-mansoors-death-abdullah-01022
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23 dead, 500,000 flee as Cyclone Roanu hits Bangladesh
AFP | May 22, 2016
CHITTAGONG: Cyclone Roanu battered the coast of southern Bangladesh on Saturday, forcing half a million people to flee their homes and leaving 23 people dead in floods and rain-triggered landslides.
The cyclone damaged tens of thousands of mud-and-tin houses in the impoverished southern districts, with many low-lying villages inundated by a storm surge that swelled up to seven feet (two metres) high.
Authorities took more than 500,000 people into shelters as the cyclone made landfall just after midday local time (0600 GMT), packing winds as strong as 88 kilometres (54 miles) per hour.
At least 23 people are known to have died including 11 who were killed in the Chittagong district, which bore the brunt of the devastation, police and officials said.
"Seven people drowned at Banshkhali after the storm surge breached dykes at two places, inundating coastal villages," Shah Alam, a police inspector in Chittagong, told AFP.
Some 250,000 people were marooned on the Chittagong coast as sea water ripped through dykes, flooding dozens of villages, government administrator of the district Mesbah Uddin told AFP.
Three people, including a mother and her daughter, drowned on Hatiya island after sea water flooded their village, and another three people died in Kutubdia Island.
By early evening Saturday conditions appeared to be improving, paving the way for people to return to their homes, officials said.
"Up to 20 villages were flooded (in the area)," Hatiya police chief Anisul Haq told AFP.
"The flood water is now receding," he said.
Peripheral winds and heavy downpours brought on by the impending cyclone struck coastal areas early Saturday morning, causing widespread devastation before the storm had even made landfall.
A mother and her young child were killed after rains triggered a landslide which buried their hillside home at Sitakundu in Chittagong District, a police inspector said.
Others died on Bhola island and in coastal districts of Feni, Laxmipur and Patuakhali, officials said.
"So far we have moved more than 500,000 people to cyclone shelters," Reaz Ahmed, the head of Bangladesh's Disaster Management Department, told AFP.
He said a full picture of the damage would be clear on Sunday when authorities send relief officials to remote parts of the coastal region.
Disaster authorities shut down sea and river ports on Saturday and ordered fishing trawlers and other boats not to go out on the water.
The government's meteorological department has warned of the risk of further landslides in the country's southeastern hill districts.
Officials told AFP Friday night that they were prepared to move more than two million people to nearly 4,000 cyclone shelters in the country's south.
It comes as a week of extreme weather wreaked havoc across South Asia with Sri Lanka battered by the heaviest rains in a quarter of a century, triggering severe floods and landslides.
Earlier this month lightning strikes killed an unprecedented 59 people in Bangladesh in three days as tropical thunderstorms hit the country before the annual monsoon, which runs from June to September.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/23-dead-500000-flee-as-Cyclone-Roanu-hits-Bangladesh/articleshow/52382361.cms
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Heavy explosions reported near governor’s office in Herat city
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
A heavy explosion rocked Herat city earlier this afternoon with reports suggesting the incident took place near the governor’s compound.
There are also reports that the city was rocked with at least two other blasts following the first explosion.
The first blast rocked the city around 1:15 pm local time with the eyewitnesses saying a rickshaw packed with explosives was detonated around half kilometer away from the governor’s office.
The other blasts reportedly shocked the city afterwards with reports suggesting at least two rockets impacted the governor compound.
There are no reports regarding the casualties as a result of the attack and no group has claimed responsibility behind the incident.
khaama.com/heavy-explosions-reported-near-governors-office-in-herat-city-01028
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Expanded trade ties tops agenda as Ghani meets Emir and PM of Qatar
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani met with the Emir and Prime Minister of Qatar during his official visit to Doha, the Office of the President said Sunday.
President Ghani met with the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the two sides discussed boosting bilateral ties and cooperation between the two nations, specifically expanding trading ties.
The two sides also emphasized on expediting efforts to attract more investments besides expanding cooperation among the governmens of the two nations.
Meanwhile, the leaders of Qatar emphasized on the importance of peace and its impact on the region and beyond the region, reaffirming the country’s support for a peaceful and developed Afghanistan.
President Ghani arrived to Doha at the official invitation of Emir of Qatar on Saturday to meet with the country’s officials during his two-day state visit.
The National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Minister of Urban Development Affairs Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, Minister of Agriculture Asadullah Zamir, Senior Presidential Adviser Dr. Humayun Qayumi and Abdul Salam Rahimi, head of the administrative office of the President are accompanying President Ghani during the visit.
khaama.com/expanded-trade-ties-tops-agenda-as-ghani-meets-emir-and-pm-of-qatar-01026
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China to start building houses for govt employees later this year: Abdullah
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
The Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has said China has committed to build houses for the government employees in Kabul and other provinces.
In his speech during the cabinet meeting, Abdullah said the construction work of houses for the government employees will start at the end of the year.
Abdullah concluded an official visit to China last week where he met with the top Chinese officials to boost bilateral ties between the two nations.
Afghanistan and China signed six documents on bilateral cooperation during his visit to China, including an agreement to start survey for the construction of cost-effective houses for the government employees.
The Chinese President during his meeting CEO Abdullah reaffirmed military aid as well as supporting Afghanistan in development and rehabilitation projects.
The Ministry of Urban Development of Afghanistan announced late last year that China will fund construction of 10,000 apartments in Kabul under affordable housing scheme which would be provided to government officials on long-term installments.
The Ministry said the project will be executed by Ministry of Urban Development Affairs of Afghanistan and will be the second biggest housing project in Afghanistan after the assistance of former Soviet Union.
khaama.com/china-to-start-building-houses-for-govt-employees-later-this-year-abdullah-01025
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Mansoor’s relations reportedly became strained with Pakistan recently
By Khaama Press - Sun May 22 2016
The Taliban supreme leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor’s relations had deteriorated with Pakistan since he assumed the charge of Taliban leadership, succeeding the group’s founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.
According to the diplomatic sources quoted in a report by a local newspaper in Pakistan, Mullah Mansoor’s death would not cause any major concerns in Pakistan’s power circles.
The sources claimed that Mullah Mansour had some ties with the Pakistanis in the past but relations became strained after he became leader of the Afghan Taliban, Dawn newspaper reported.
According to the report, Pakistan made several attempts in the recent past to persuade him to join the reconciliation talks but he refused.
Meanwhile, diplomatic observers said that Mullah Mansour’s death would further fragment the Taliban movement, which split into several factions after Mullah Omar’s death.
“His death will have both negative and positive consequences,” said one diplomatic source. “Sometimes, it is easier to deal with a unified leadership and sometimes a weakened leadership is better. We have to wait and see how this unfolds.”
Mullah Mansoor has likely been killed in a drone strike carried out by the US forces, targeting his vehicle in southwest of the town of Ahmad Wal.
The appointment of Mullah Mansoor as the new Supreme Leader of Taliban led to widening rift among the Taliban ranks which resulted into deadly clashes on numerous occassions among his supporters and the dissident Taliban leaders.
Mansoor was however supported by the notorious Haqqani terrorist network which is also believed to be based in Pakistan as the network’s leader was appointed as the deputy chief of the Taliban group.
khaama.com/mansoors-relations-reportedly-became-strained-with-pakistan-recently-01023
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Southeast Asia
Isis video shows Indonesian children training with Ak-47s
May 21, 2016
JAKARTA: A video posted by the Islamic State shows some Indonesian children practicing shooting hand guns and AK-47 rifles, before setting fire to their passports. The boys, all aged 8 to 12 years, are being trained by Abu Faiz al Indunesy: the militiaman is sought by Jakarta and operates as a sniper in Syria for terrorists.
The video lasts about 20 minutes. It shows 23 children (called "Caliphate puppies"), some of whom are from Malaysia and the Philippines. The film also contains phrases that are direct threats to States in Southeast Asia, which "will not be able to defeat" IS.
According Ridlwan Habib, intelligence and terrorism expert at the University of Indonesia, the good quality of the images and the sound indicates that the video is original. The presence of children of different nationalities proves that it was shot in Syria. "The Tourist Office - he said - should make a serious assessment of why so many Indonesian children have managed to enter Syria."
The authorities are concerned that the video is trending on the internet and the influence it may have on the younger generation: "It is a serious matter and we are sorry," said Brig Amar Joey Boy, head of police public relations. "Now everything can be shared, and anyone can make propaganda online." Jakarta is planning to close the border to arrivals from Syria, in order to block the return of trained militiamen.
IS has been already operating in the country for some time. An IS terrorist who wants to prevail over other South-east Asian terrorist groups, has been blamed for the attacks on 14 January in Jakarta.
Indonesian authorities estimate that IS has about a thousand active supporters, a very small number considering that the country it is the most populous Islamic nation in the world with 250 million people (87 per cent Muslim). So far, some 600 Indonesians have reportedly gone to Syria to join the caliphate. Fifty are said to have died. Instead the BNPT anti-terrorism agency says at least 149 have returned from the Middle East.--Asia News
heraldmalaysia.com/news/isis-video-shows-indonesian-children-training-with-ak-47s/29359/2
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Perkasa wants new Islamic council to fix Muslim disunity
May 21, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: Malay NGO Perkasa today suggested the Council of Rulers order for the setting up of a National Ukhwah Islamiyah Council (MUIN) to act as a consultative body and platform to enhance unity among segregated Islamic communities and bodies in the country.
Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali told FMT that the idea was so each Malay- or Muslim-based political party and NGO could be at the same table as Islamic matters are beyond their political ties and agenda.
Ibrahim, or Tok Him, said the council should be under the purview of the Council of Rulers as the latter is responsible for Islamic affairs.
This suggestion is more practical he said, as MUIN could be used as an idea platform not just to foster relationship between the groups but also as a force in protecting Islam from threats.
“If Perkasa ourselves took the initiative to create MUIN, it won’t work as all political parties and NGOs have their own egos,” he told FMT at Kampung Baru here today.
Yesterday, about 200 representatives from Malay and Muslim political parties, academicians and NGOs gathered in Bangi for an inaugural Ummah Unity Multaqa (gathering) organised by the Malaysian Dakwah Council and Malaysia Islamic Dakwah Foundation (Yadim).
The gathering approved several suggestions to find solutions in improving the ties and relations between Muslim communities, which has become segregated by politics.
Among the suggestions were visits to prominent political leaders and chief ministers from various backgrounds to find a solution for the disunity.
This suggestion was dubbed “idealistic” by Ibrahim as he deemed it was troublesome seeing that all the parties were just trying to get more support and influence for their own benefit.
“Here, all political parties have agendas. The ones in power are using theirs to increase their influence and gather support while those who are not in power will badmouth and criticise them.
“In MUIN, all NGOs who represent Muslims will have representatives. Umno and PAS must have representatives. They will meet once every three or four months to discuss matters and all the results will be brought straight to the Council of Rulers by the MUIN secretariat,” he said.
Ibrahim also suggested that all state Muftis be given the ex-officio rank at MUIN to enhance the council’s role and effectiveness.
“We are detailing the working paper and will present it to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Council of Rulers after the Hari Raya celebrations,’ he said.
freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/05/21/perkasa-wants-new-islamic-council-to-fix-muslim-disunity/
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Petraeus: Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists
May 22, 2016
Almost 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, and five years since the killing of the chief architect of those attacks, the United States and the world face a resurgent threat from terrorism. This stark reality should inform the national debate as we prepare to elect our next commander in chief.
As states across the Middle East have collapsed into civil war, Islamist extremist groups such as the Islamic State have exploited the upheaval to seize vast swaths of territory, which they have used to rally recruits, impose totalitarian rule over the people trapped in these areas and plot attacks against the rest of the world.
Few responsibilities that our next president inherits will be more urgent, important or complex than thwarting these terrorist plans, reversing the conditions that have enabled their rise and combating the broader Islamist extremist ideology that animates them.
It would be a mistake to minimize the continuing risk posed by these groups. Although al-Qaida's senior leadership ranks have been dramatically reduced, and while encouraging progress is being made against the Islamic State in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, Syria, these remain resilient and adaptive organizations. While Islamist extremist networks do not pose an "existential" threat to the United States in the way that Soviet nuclear weapons once did, their bloodlust and their ambition to inflict genocidal violence make them uniquely malevolent actors on the world stage.
Nor can they be "contained." On the contrary, from Afghanistan before 9/11 to Syria and Libya today, history shows that, once these groups are allowed to establish a safe haven, they will inevitably use it to project instability and violence.
Moreover, the fact is that free and open societies such as ours depend on a sense of basic security to function. If terrorism succeeds in puncturing that, it can threaten the very fabric of our democracy - which is, indeed, a central element of the terrorist strategy.
For that reason, I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that has become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion.
Some justify these measures as necessary to keep us safe - dismissing any criticism as "political correctness." Others play down such divisive rhetoric as the excesses of political campaigns here and in Europe, which will fade away after the elections are over.
I fear that neither is true; in fact, the ramifications of such rhetoric could be very harmful - and lasting.
As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive: Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable - a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.
milforddailynews.com/opinion/20160521/petraeus-anti-muslim-bigotry-aids-islamist-terrorists
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Six Malaysian Muslim Fashion Brands To Showcase Collections At MUFFEST In Jakarta
May 22, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 (Bernama) -- In a move to promote Malaysian Muslimah fashion designers on the international stage, particularly in ASEAN markets,six local fashion brands will showcase their collections at the Muslim Fashion Festival (MUFFEST) in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Their participation in the five-day event from May 25 is made possible by the organisers of the Malaysia Fashion Week (MFW), the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and STYLO International.
The six brands are Ainibakker by Nor Aini Bakker, Yan's Creations by Yani Bakhtiar, Iluvwirdah by Virdah Adnan, Azura Couture by Azura Mazaruddin, Durrah Jewellery by Durrah Khalil and Sara J by Sara Jamaludin.
"Throughout the MUFFEST exhibition, these brands will get to highlight their designs to thousands of local and international visitors including trade buyers, representatives of fashion houses, international media, as well as members of the public.
"The initiative is part of MFW's main highlight called MODESTyle. MFW, a project by International Trade Exhibition (INTRADE), which will take place at the Matrade Exhibition & Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur in November this year," said President and Chief Executive Officer of STYLO International and Co-Chairman of MFW 2016, Datuk Nancy Yeoh.
She also said the designers will be incorporating the unique Malaysian elements inspired by the people and culture of Malaysia in their collections.
"Muslimah fashion is fast becoming a prominent segment in the global fashion industry today.
"So much so, international designer brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta, Tommy Hilfiger, clothing labels and retailers like Mango, Uniqlo and H&M are beginning to embrace Muslimah-oriented fashion designs in their collections," Yeoh said.
Meanwhile, Matrade Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dzulkifli Mahmud said the Malaysian fashion industry has a lot to offer to the world.
"Our modest wear is modern and trendy without compromising the religious obligations of the Muslimah.
"This reflects the Malaysian Muslimah community that is progressive in nature and in tune with fashion styles out there.
"Together with STYLO International, it is hoped the partnership with MUFFEST can push to the fore, talented Malaysian designers and further grow the local fashion industry overseas," he added.
He said the partnership is expected to be a catalyst to stronger intra-ASEAN fashion trade, especially with Indonesia, that is home to over 200 million Muslims.
Malaysia's exports of lifestyle products reached RM31.36 billion in 2015, up by 12 per cent as compared to RM28 billion in 2014.
The main industries categorised under the lifestyle sector include textiles, apparels and footwear, furniture, jewelry, cosmetics and toiletries.
Exports of this sector was mainly to the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, Turkey, Indonesia, India and Thailand.
bernama.com.my/bernama/v8/bu/newsbusiness.php?id=1248001
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Pakistan
Balochistan govt to register all madrasas with education department
May 22nd, 2016
QUETTA: As part of the National Action Plan (NAP), Balochistan government has decided to register all seminaries in the province with the education department, it has been learnt.
The provincial government has constituted a four member high level committee to review the registration process and perform legislation for the proposed amendment in the Societies Registration Act.
The members of the committee include Balochistan education secretary, secretary home and tribal affairs, secretary industries and secretary social welfare, an official in the education department told DawnNews.
Know more: Seminary registration in Balochistan made compulsory
The education department has prepared a form to collect details about the location, name, teachers and students studying in the religious schools across Balochistan.
"This way we will get to know about the exact number of teachers and students in seminaries," he said.
Around 3,000 seminaries have already been registered with the provincial industries department under the Societies Registration Act in Balochistan. However, sources said the number of registered and non-registered seminaries across the province was still around 10,000.
The Societies Registration Act would be amended thus enabling the education department to register the seminaries instead of the industries department, the official said.
The education department has already launched registration of privately-run schools in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan, Secretary Education Saboor Kakar told DawnNews.
“After registration of schools, subsequently the seminaries would also be registered.”
dawn.com/news/1259791/balochistan-govt-to-register-all-madrasas-with-education-department
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Pakistan seeks 'clarification' of US strike on Taliban chief Mullah Mansour
AFP | AP | Reuters | Ali Akbar — Updated 22 minutes ago
NAYPYITAW/KABUL/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is "seeking clarification" about a United States (US) drone strike against Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said on Sunday, after US officials said Mansour was likely killed in an air strike on Pakistani soil.
"I have seen the reports. We are seeking clarification," Zakaria said in a statement.
He added that Pakistan wanted the Taliban to return to the negotiating table to end the long war in Afghanistan. "Military action is not a solution," he added.
Zakaria's statement comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier on Sunday said that he notified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by telephone of a US drone strike that 'likely killed' Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.
Know more: Afghan Taliban chief Mansour killed in air strike: US
Afghan leadership was also apprised of the air strike ordered by US President Barack Obama, Kerry said, declining to elaborate on the timing of the notifications.
US officials in Washington said on Saturday that US missile-firing drones had conducted strikes targeting Mansour and probably killed him in a strike in Balochistan near the Afghan border.
"Yesterday, the US conducted a precision air strike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Mansour posed a continuing, imminent threat", Kerry told a news conference in the Myanmar capital.
The drone attack comes just days after representatives from the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan held another round of negotiations in Islamabad aimed at reviving long-stalled direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
"This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan," Kerry said.
"Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort and to bringing an end to the violence and suffering people of Afghanistan have endured for so many years now. He was also directly opposed to the peace negotiation and to the reconciliation process," he said.
A senior commander with the Afghan Taliban said the militant group's leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a US drone strike. Mullah Abdul Rauf told The Associated Press Sunday that Mansour died in the strike late Friday night. He said the strike took place "in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area".
Afghan authorities are scrambling to confirm Mansour's fate. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office on Sunday confirmed the strike, adding that they were investigating whether Mansour had in fact been killed.
"The Afghan government is trying to gather details regarding the fate of Mullah Mansour," the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement. "This drone strike shows that terrorists fuelling conflict will not be safe anywhere."
"Mansour was the target and was likely killed" in the remote town of Ahmad Wal by multiple unmanned aircraft operated by US special operations forces, an American official said Saturday.
Pakistan intelligence sources, however, cannot confirm whether Mansour was killed or not.
Former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand weighing in on the matter told DawnNews that it is "quite likely" Mansour is dead.
Pakistan's role as mediator in the peace talks will come under question, since Kerry said Nawaz was informed about the drone strike, he said.
The apparent elimination of Mansour, who swiftly consolidated power following a bitter Taliban leadership struggle after the death of Mullah Omar was revealed last year, could spark new succession battles within the fractious movement.
It is possible there may be infighting in the Taliban regarding succession after Mansour's death, particularly between Mullah Omar's brother Mullah Abdul Manan and son Mullah Yaqub, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Haqqani network chief, Rustam Shah Mohmand said, as Haqqani was Mansour's deputy and operational commander.
The deaths of Taliban leaders have often been falsely reported, and Mansour himself was rumoured to have been killed last December.
Mansour was formally appointed head of the Afghan Taliban in July last year following the revelation that the group's founder Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.
The group saw a resurgence under the firebrand supremo with striking military victories, helping to cement his authority by burnishing his credentials as a commander.
They briefly captured the strategic northern city of Kunduz in September in their most spectacular victory in 14 years. Southern opium-rich Helmand province is almost entirely under insurgent control.
dawn.com/news/1259979/pakistan-seeks-clarification-of-us-strike-on-taliban-chief-mullah-mansour
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Al-Qaida country head killed in Pakistan
IANS | May 21, 2016
Pakistani police commandos stand guard outside a morgue of a hospital in Multan, on May 19, 2016, where eight bodies of suspected Al-Qaeda militants were brought following an operation by security forces. (AFP photo)Pakistani police commandos stand guard outside a morgue of a hospital in Multan, on May 19, 2016, where eight ... Read More
ISLAMABAD: The country head of al-Qaida in Pakistan, Tayyab Nawaz alias Hafiz Abdul Mateen, was killed during an armed offensive by police in the country's east Multan city.
Al-Qaida commander was gunned down with his seven other accomplices on Thursday night when police raided a hideout of suspected militants at the river bank of Multan, a main district in the country's east Punjab province, Xinhua quoted Dawn News as saying.
Police said that the militants were holding a meeting to carry out an attack at a prominent university in the city, when the cops conducted the raid by acting on an intelligence tip-off.
The bodies of the killed militants were shifted to Nishtar Hospital of Multan for investigations and autopsy where Mateen was identified.
The resident of northwest Dera Ismail Khan area, the commander was wanted in pertaining to murder of a senior army officer and attack on Parade Lane bombing in the country's east Punjab province on December 4, 2009 in which 36 people were killed.
Police in Multan region issued a threat, following the killing of the militants, saying that the al-Qaida could target educational institutes in Punjab where security needed to be beefed up.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Al-Qaida-country-head-killed-in-Pakistan/articleshow/52371952.cms
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Pakistan applies for NSG membership
PTI | May 20, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said that it has formally applied for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, after China blocked India's entry into the 48-member elite group.
The Foreign Office (FO) said that Pakistan's ambassador in Vienna on Thursday applied for the membership through a letter addressed to the NSG chairman.
In the letter, Pakistan said the decision to seek participation in the export-control regime reflects Pakistan's strong support for international efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
"Pakistan has the expertise, manpower, infrastructure, as well as the ability to supply NSG controlled items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses," the Foreign Office said.
It said Pakistan attaches high priority to nuclear safety and security. It has taken legal, regulatory and administrative measures to bring nuclear safety and security at par with international standards.
"Pakistan's export-control regime is underpinned by strong legislation, regulatory and enforcement mechanisms. The national export control lists are harmonized with the control lists of NSG, MTCR and Australia Group," it said.
The development comes as China harps on the need for consensus in the NSG, where it is reportedly pushing for Pakistan's entry despite US' strong backing for India to join the elite body that seeks reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials.
Pakistan has stressed the need for NSG to adopt a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach for NSG membership of the countries, which have never been party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan were the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
The Foreign Office said Pakistan's NSG membership will further NSG non-proliferation objectives by the inclusion of a state with nuclear supply capabilities and its adherence to NSG Guidelines and best practices on supply of controlled items, goods, materials, technologies and services.
Through an official note, Pakistan has informed the IAEA Director-General of its adherence to the objectives of NSG and its decision to act in accordance with NSG Guidelines with regard to transfer of nuclear material, equipment and related technology, including related dual-use equipment, materials, software and related technology.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-applies-for-NSG-membership/articleshow/52364256.cms
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Pak PM breaks ground for Pak-China Optical Fibre Cable project in PoK
PTI | May 19, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today broke ground for the USD 44 million Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable project in PoK's Gilgit-Baltistan region which will provide an alternate telecommunication route between the two countries.
The project is part of the ambitious USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), linking western China to the strategic Gawadar port in southern Pakistan via a network of roads, railways and communication systems.
The Optical Fibre Cable project will be completed in two years and Special Communication Organisation will lay 820-kilometre-long cable from Rawalpindi to Khunjrab, Radio Pakistan reported.
On completion, the project will provide an alternate telecommunication route between Pakistan and China.
Sharif also inaugurated the CPEC patrolling police headquarters in the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The force comprising 300 personnel and 25 vehicles, gifted by China, will ensure safe and smooth flow of traffic on the 439-kilometre chunk of the 3,000-kilometre CPEC project.
The CPEC passes through the restive Balochistan province.
Pakistan is readying a special force of 4,000 security personnel to protect Chinese nationals working at various projects in Punjab province, including the CPEC project.
Already more than 17,000 security personnel from the army and other security forces have been engaged to ensure fool-proof security to Chinese nationals.
Its importance has increased since the launch of the CPEC project in 2015.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-PM-breaks-ground-for-Pak-China-Optical-Fibre-Cable-project-in-PoK/articleshow/52343704.cms
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Why drone blowback in Pakistan is a myth
May 22nd, 2016
HUMAN rights organisations and even some former US military commanders argue that drone strikes inadvertently increase terrorism by exerting a “blowback” effect. Their logic is simple. Drone strikes kill more innocent civilians than terrorists, which radicalises affected populations and motivates them to join terrorist groups to retaliate against the United States.
The perfect case for testing the blowback effect is Pakistan, where, since 2004, the CIA has launched an estimated 423 strikes, constituting 75 per cent of the agency’s drone strikes worldwide.
The strikes were carried out in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) bordering Afgha­nistan, where Al Qaeda and Taliban militants found a safe haven after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Opinion polls, such as those carried out by the Pew Research Centre, indicate widespread Pakistani anger at drone strikes. Pew’s latest (2014) survey showed that 67 per cent of respondents opposed drone attacks because they kill “too many innocent people”. However, Pew data on drones is deeply misleading as the organisation draws its samples mostly from urban areas not directly impacted by drone strikes.
Nonetheless, in a 2011 survey conducted by a local NGO in Fata, 63 per cent of the respondents thought drone strikes “are never justified”. But when the results are disaggregated, support for drone strikes is the highest in North Waziristan, the Fata agency where the CIA has carried out most of its lethal drone operations, compared to the other six.
Except for a 2012 Associated Press analysis of casualties from 10 of the deadliest drone strikes in North Waziristan, the voice of the local population most affected by drone strikes is often neglected in this contentious debate.
To assess local perceptions of drone strikes, I conducted 147 interviews with adult residents of North Waziristan in the summer and winter of 2015. The study constitutes the largest set of in-depth interviews with people from the district, including maliks, reporters, lawyers, businessmen, rights activists, and heads and members of the local chapters of seven political parties, including the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).
Broadly speaking, the interview data do not support the blowback thesis. More specifically, the data contradict the presumed local radicalisation effects of drones. In fact, 79 per cent of the respondents endorsed drones.
In sharp contrast to claims about the significant civilian death toll from drone strikes, 64 per cent, including several living in villages close to strike locations, believed that drone strikes accurately targeted militants. And 56 per cent believed drones seldom killed non-militants.
As the Crisis Group and Georgetown’s Christine Fair have noted, most locals prefer drones to the military’s ground and aerial offensives that cause more extensive damage to civilian life and property.
Even local members of the JI and the vehemently anti-drone Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf disputed their national leadership’s claims about the heavy loss of innocent lives as a result of drone strikes. More than two-thirds of respondents said that most of the non-militant civilians who died in drone attacks were known militant sympathisers or collaborators who might already be radicalised. More strikingly, most interviewees believed that the drone campaign decisively broke the back of the Taliban.
Recent studies have also posited a link between drone fatalities and revenge in Fata. When someone dies in a drone strike, the argument goes, their family members are obligated to take revenge in accordance with their ethical code of Pashtunwali. But less than 15 per cent of the respondents supported the revenge thesis.
As many tribal elders stressed to me, militants were motivated by a violent jihadi creed, not Pashtun customs predating Islam. The Taliban have assassinated hundreds of tribal leaders and others on the mere suspicion of spying for the US or the Pakistan military. If anything, the revenge motive should drive people to target the Taliban to avenge the deaths of their loved ones.
The US drone strategy in Pakistan raises serious ethical, legal and mental health concerns. While the Obama administration justifies the use of armed drones as lawful self-defence against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, many legal experts believe that lethal drone strikes in non-traditional battlefields, such as Fata, are impermissible under international law.
And as emphasised in the well-known 2012 Stanford-NYU Law School Clinics study, “Living Under Drones”, and other reports, the traumatising impact of constant drone surveillance on Fata residents cannot be ignored either. Almost one-fourth of the respondents affirmed drones’ negative psychological effects on locals.
Drone warfare in Fata has many problems. But as my interview data clearly suggest, blowback is not one of them. In fact, the data show the opposite: Most respondents support drone strikes.
By arrangement with the Washington Post
The writer is an assistant professor in the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma
dawn.com/news/1259933/why-drone-blowback-in-pakistan-is-a-myth
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Pakistan hands over border crossing facility at Angoor Ada to Afghan forces
May 22nd, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army on Saturday handed over a purpose-built border crossing facility at Angoor Ada to Afghan authorities, the military’s media wing said.
“With aim to strengthen brotherly relations with Afghanistan besides strategic intent to improve border management, the border-crossing facility was handed over to Afghan authorities at Angoor Ada, a buffering town,” the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, tweeted.
The military’s spokesperson said “this gesture will act as a catalyst and is envisioned to bring momentum for establishing peace and stability along Pak-Afghan border”.
It was reiterated during the process that all border related issues will be amicably resolved through mutual consultations, he added.
Earlier this month the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Omer Zakhilwal, met Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and agreed to resolve the Torkham border issue and resume the routine cross border traffic.
Tension had escalated between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the two countries deployed tanks and armoured personnel carriers along the tense Torkham border besides sending more troops after their negotiating teams failed to resolve the border fencing dispute.
dawn.com/news/1259793/pakistan-hands-over-border-crossing-facility-at-angoor-ada-to-afghan-forces
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Europe
Islamic State's lasting grip is a new hurdle for Europe, US
May 22, 2016
PARIS (AP) — The girl, speaking in the lilting accent of southern France, appeared in government ads describing how she was recruited by Islamic State extremists during her quest for religion, then encouraged to quit school and go to Syria, and finally to plot a suicide attack against a synagogue at home.
"I have a hard time even admitting now that I was indoctrinated," she says to the camera in the ad before breaking down, describing how she tried to recruit others.
The teen, known as Lea, was meant to be the poster child of a nascent program in France aimed at de-radicalizing young people to stem their flow to Syria. But the jihadi rehab didn't work. Six times she reconnected with the extremists, and six times she called her counselor in tears to apologize.
The seventh time, late in 2015, landed her in jail.
France's effort is one of many around the world trying to break the hold Muslim radicals have on their recruits by figuring out what drew them to the groups in the first place. The United States has launched its first formal effort in Minnesota, on the orders of a federal judge. But it's not clear how effective the programs can be in the long term. France alone has nearly 2,000 people like Lea — about 600 who have left for Syria, but far more who are involved in jihadi networks at home.
Across Europe, an estimated 5,000 people have joined extremist fighters in Syria, and about a third of them have returned. Most, experts and government officials say, will cause no harm.
Dounia Bouzar, who runs France's jihadi rehab program, works with more than 1,000 young people flagged as potential extremists. Lea's story, she said, is more the rule than the exception. Islamic State and al-Qaida extremists don't break off contact just because someone is caught — and the young people themselves have a hard time pulling away from what she described as their "online tribe."
"A young person who reconnects, that's normal," she said. "Monday, they come to bear witness and save others. Wednesday, they denounce someone who wants to leave and say, 'save him.' And Friday, they re-connect and threaten your life."
There is no reasoning with someone in the thrall of a jihadi group, those who run the program say, so the recruits have to experience tangible doubts about the jihadi promises they once believed. Bouzar said that can mean countering a message of anti-materialism by showing them the videos of fighters lounging in fancy villas or sporting watches with an Islamic State logo. Or finding someone who has returned from Syria to explain that instead of offering humanitarian aid, the extremists are taking over entire villages, sometimes lacing them with explosives.
Only once doubts are seeded can young would-be jihadis themselves reason their way back to their former selves, she said.
In the United States, a young Minnesota man who admitted he planned to go Syria to join the Islamic State group is among the first to take part in Minnesota's de-radicalization program, the first of its kind in the United States.
In early 2014, just after turning 18, Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf applied for a fast-track passport with a vague plan to go to Istanbul. He was stopped at the airport in May 2014, but remained free. He enrolled in community college, got a job, then was arrested in November that year on two terrorism charges for trying to join Islamic State. Yusuf, now 20, stayed in a halfway house while his case was pending and remained there after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He went back to jail after a box cutter was found beneath his bed. His lawyer says his client did not know anything about it.
sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/22/islamic-states-lasting-grip-is-a-new-hurdle-for/
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Pope Hails Election of Sadiq Khan, Celebrates Mass Muslim Migration Into Europe
May 22, 2016
The Pope has hailed the election of Sadiq Khan as “Muslim” mayor of London, claimed mass Muslim migration is “necessary” for Europe, and blamed Paris and Brussels for the attacks on European soil.
In an interview with French newspaper  La Croix, Pope Francis strongly implied that the terrorists who attacked Paris and Brussels did so because they “grew up in a ghetto.”
He also applauded the election of Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stating it “illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate,” evoking “Pope Gregory the Great, who negotiated with the people known as barbarians who were subsequently integrated.”
However, the situation of mass Muslim migration that Europe now faces is distinctly different: the “barbarians” (the term referring in this case to Franks, Lombards and Visigoths) were Europeans, and did not follow a religion which historically, violently, conquered dozens of countries and preached supremacy.
Even today, the Muslim country Indonesia is currently committing what has been widely described as a genocide against Christian West Papuans with mass migration, violence and the banning of Papuan nationalism.
Pope Francis also claimed Europe’s declining birth rate is a “grave problem” that makes mass Muslim migration “necessary.” He described this “demographic emptiness” as a result of “a selfish search for well-being.”
The Pope stated that Muslims and Christians need to learn to live peacefully together, citing Lebanon as a good example of this. Though Lebanon is perhaps not the best illustration for the Pontiff to draw upon.
Lebanon was a majority Christian country up until the 1960s.  In the 1970s, after an influx of Muslim refugees, tens of thousands of Christians were ethnically cleansed from the country.
Since 2005 there have been as many as 14 terrorist attacks a year in Lebanon, and the UK government’s travel advice on Lebanon advises against traveling to certain parts of the country as there is a “high threat from terrorism.”
Pope Francis criticised France’s “exaggeration” of the separation of church and state, expressing disapproval of the country’s ban on the niqab in public places. This type of veil has been banned in Muslim-majority countries Azerbaijan and Chad.  Polls show the vast majority of people in Islamic countries, apart from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, widely disapprove of the garment.
Suggesting that the fear of migration in Europe is partly based on a fear of Islam,  Pope Francis was asked whether he felt that such fears are justified. He said he didn’t think that “there is a fear of Islam as such but of [Islamic State] and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam.”
“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” the Pope said.
breitbart.com/london/2016/05/22/pope-celebrates-mass-muslim-migration/
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Arab World
High-Ranking ISIL Leaders Seeking to Leave Syria with Fake Identity
May 22nd, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- One of the senior tribal leaders in Eastern Syria disclosed that the ISIL security forces and senior leaders seize civilians' identity documents in Raqqa to use them for leaving Syria.
"The ISIL forces, under different pretexts, order the civilians in Raqqa to deliver their identity documents to the groups' officials and tell them that the Hasaba (the ISIL monitoring system) will call them later to give their identity cards back," Sheikh Mohammad al-Daham said, adding, "But this is a big lie and Hasaba gives the documents to the senior officials of the terrorist group to use them while leaving Syria to find a safer place in other countries."
"A large number of the ISIL officials and commander have sold their expensive cars and trying to issue fake passport to flee Raqqa and find shelter in Turkey or Iraq," al-Daham said.
"The ISIL forces are aware that al-Tanf border crossing to Jordan and Iraq will be closed in the coming weeks as a results of the pro-government forces' advances against the terrorists and only a small group of the ISIL will remain in Central deserts of Syria," he went on to say.
Reports said earlier today that the Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) are preparing to launch a large-scale operations in coming hours to end the ISIL terrorists' rule over the Northeastern province of Raqqa.
"The Syrian Democratic Forces that are mainly comprised of Kurdish fighters are ready to storm the ISIL terrorists' positions in the capital of self-proclaimed Caliphate," the sources said.
"In the meantime, the US warplanes dropped leaflets over the city of Raqqa on Thursday and demanded civilians to leave the city as soon as possible," they added.   
en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950301000972
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Syrian Army, Allies Ready to Join Large-Scale Operations to Liberate Raqqa
May 22nd, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- Informed sources announced on Saturday that the Syrian Army, popular forces and Russian and Syrian warplanes are ready to storm the ISIL positions in Raqqa from Aleppo and Hama provinces.
"The Syrian military forces and popular fighters deployed in the Eastern territories of Aleppo province and the Northeastern part of Hama province mainly in Ithriya are ready to launch their joint operation against the ISIL terrorists in the capital of the self-proclaimed Caliphate," the sources said.
"The Syrian and Russian Air Forces are to carry out a large number of combat flights over the ISIL centers in Raqqa to weaken the group's defense abilities and pave the ground for the easier advances of the ground forces in the battlefield," they added.
"The Syrian government forces have been coordinating the process of such large-scale operations in the last two months and they could carry out the operations earlier but the attacks of al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham on the government forces' positions in parts of Hama, Homs and Aleppo delayed the operations," the sources underlined.
Reports said earlier today that the Syrian Democratic Forces are preparing to launch a large-scale operations in coming hours to end the ISIL terrorists' rule over the Northeastern province of Raqqa.
"The Syrian Democratic Forces that are mainly comprised of Kurdish fighters are ready to storm the ISIL terrorists' positions in the capital of self-proclaimed Caliphate," the sources said.
"In the meantime, the US warplanes dropped leaflets over the city of Raqqa on Thursday and demanded civilians to leave the city as soon as possible," they added.
More reports said earlier today that ISIL terrorists have forbidden Raqqa residents from leaving the militants’ self-declared capital in Syria and have started evacuating their own families.
ISIL has forbidden Raqqa residents from leaving the militants’ self-declared capital in Syria and have started evacuating their own families in the direction of Deir Ezzur, eye witnesses and local sources said.
The families of foreign mercenaries were the first ones to leave the city on Friday afternoon. Inmates have also been let free from Raqqa prisons.
Meanwhile Kurdish forces have established a stronghold about 37 kilometers North of Raqqa.
en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950301001081
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Four killed, 90 injured in Baghdad’s Green Zone riots
May 22nd, 2016
BAGHDAD: At least four anti-government protesters were killed and 90 injured when security forces ejected them from Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, hospital sources said on Saturday.
Iraqi security forces used live ammunition, rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas on Friday to dislodge the demonstrators from the central district which houses government buildings, parliament and many foreign embassies.
The toll, compiled from four hospitals where casualties were taken and Baghdad’s central morgue, accounts only for gunshot wounds and does not include cases of suffocation caused by tear gas.
Civilians have breached the Green Zone twice in three weeks, raising questions about the government’s ability to secure the capital which has also seen a spike in bombings this month claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
Protesters on Friday included supporters of powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and people from other groups upset with the government’s failure to approve anti-corruption reforms and maintain security in the city.
Jaafar al-Moussawi, deputy leader of Sadr’s political movement, condemned the government for using what he called “excessive force”.
dawn.com/news/1259851/four-killed-90-injured-in-baghdads-green-zone-riots
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UN Secretary General urges talks to end Syria 'nightmare'
May 22nd, 2016
DOHA: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged regional and international powers to push Syrian warring parties to engage in talks on a political transition to end their country's “nightmare”.
“United Nations special envoy (Staffan de Mistura) continues to work intently with the parties towards meaningful talks. We need a full and immediate cessation of hostilities. Just as important we need to begin discussions on the transition ,” Ban told the Doha forum for democracy and development in the Qatari capital.
“I feel that without such a political horizon, a further escalation is all too likely. Yet again, I call on all regional and international actors to use their influence on the parties and to persuade them to negotiate... on the transitional arrangement,” he said.
“Is there anything more urgent than resolving that nightmare,” he added.
On Wednesday, de Mistura expressed optimism that the stalled peace talks could resume, but stressed that it must happen soon to avoid losing momentum.
His comments came a day after talks between world powers on ending the five-year conflict failed to make a clear breakthrough in Vienna.
At the end of the meeting, the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) — co-chaired by the US and Russia — vowed to bolster the ravaged nation's shaky ceasefire and send humanitarian relief.
Syria's war has killed at least 270,000 people, displaced millions and devastated the country since it erupted with anti-government protests in March 2011.
dawn.com/news/1259883/un-secretary-general-urges-talks-to-end-syria-nightmare
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Iran calls for 'more concrete' US action to encourage investors
May 22nd, 2016
TEHRAN: Iran's foreign minister said the United States must take concrete steps to encourage investors to engage with Tehran, a day after Western powers said they back legal business with Iran.
“More serious and concrete actions must be taken by the US in this regard, “Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news conference with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully on Saturday.
“Obstacles in the past decade on economic cooperations between Iran and other countries were created due to hostile American policies and sanctions, “he said, according to the website of state television.
International sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme were lifted under the nuclear deal signed last year and implemented in January.
But the United States has maintained its sanctions targeting Tehran's alleged sponsorship of armed movements in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme.
European banks, which often have subsidiaries on US soil, have therefore been slow to resume business with Iran, fearing prosecution in the United States.
On Friday, a joint statement by the United States, the European Union, France, Britain and Germany said foreign banks and businesses should not hold back from conducting legal business with Iran.
“We will not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran, “the said in the statement released after talks in Brussels.
“And we will not stand in the way of international firms or financial institutions engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws, “they added.
The governor of Iran's central bank, Valiollah Seif, has also called on Western powers to comply with the terms of the nuclear deal, in an interview published Thursday by the British daily the Guardian.
“Some movement and Western officials have made some positive pronouncements, but banks need tangible reassurances that they would be immune from baseless allegations (of sanctions breaches),” he said.
He also said that restricted access to the dollar system had created many obstacles for Iranian businesses.
“If we want to change Omani rials to euros, we don't need dollars, but the system is designed in a way that it has to be changed to dollars first, then euros. They should find a way to resolve this issue,” he said.
dawn.com/news/1259800/iran-calls-for-more-concrete-us-action-to-encourage-investors
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Lebanese Source: US, French Intelligence Officers Captured by Hezbollah in Aleppo
May 22nd, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- Hezbollah has captured an American and a French spies in its operations in Aleppo, a prominent Lebanese media source revealed on Saturday, adding that the US, Israeli and Saudi intelligence agents helped Al-Nusra Front to find the place of Hezbollah's martyred military chief, Mustafah Badreddin, and kill him in retaliation.
"Hezbollah special forces took captive a senior field commander of the terrorists affiliated to Riyadh and two US and French intelligence officers working in the newly-founded joint operations room of Jeish al-Fatah (a coalition of several terrorist groups) in Aleppo in one of the regions controlled by al-Nusra Front in Aleppo," Majeda al-Haj, a prominent Lebanese journalist, wrote on al-Sabat news website today.
Al-Haj said that the joint operations room was set up so that the French and US intelligence agents can directly command Jeish al-Fatah terrorist attacks in Aleppo and nearby regions.
She said the US imagined that the captured spies would be taken to Lebanon and alerted Tel Aviv to bomb the convoy that was supposedly taking the captive American and French officers, "but the convoy that came under the Israeli airstrike was not carrying the captured spies".
She said the US, Israeli and Saudi spy agents in Syria later helped a special team of Al-Nusra terrorists - who received their trainings from Israel's Mossad secret service in 2012 - to find the place of Hezbollah Commander Badreddin in retaliation for the capture of these officers.
Al-Haj said the Al-Nusra team is tasked with finding senior Hezbollah commanders in Syria to assassinate them.
She also pointed out that the death of several Iranian advisors in Khan Touman was not the result of clashes with Al-Nusra terrorists, adding that the senior officers were killed in an air raid by the US planes that took off from Turkey's Incerlik airbase and bombed their operation room in Southern Aleppo.
The Lebanese resistance movement's senior military commander, Mustafah Badreddin, was killed near Damascus military airport in a terrorist attack last week.
After his death, a senior politician disclosed that the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement is planning to launch massive military operations against the Takfiri terrorists in Syria in retaliation for his martyrdom.
"Unique military operations by Hezbollah against Syria's Takfiri terrorists will be conducted very soon," Wahib Wahibi told FNA on Tuesday.
He reiterated that Hezbollah's response to the Takfiri terrorists' crimes will come within the framework of its counterterrorism operations.
en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950301000881
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Al-Nusra Terrorists Continue to Cross Turkish Border into Northern Syria
May 22nd, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- Informed sources disclosed that the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front continues to use the Turkish borders to send fresh fighters to Syria's Northern province of Aleppo to join their comrades in the battlefields.
"The terrorists, who enter Syria via Turkish Southern border, stay several days in al-Nusra military training camps to be trained by the experienced terrorists of the group," the sources said, adding, "As soon as getting ready, the fresh recruits will be dispatched to the battlefields."
"Most of the fresh recruits do not have any war experience and need more military training in order to be a real fighter," the sources added.
Since escalation of crisis in Syria, Turkish borders have been the main sources of infiltration of terrorists into Syria.
Sources said in May that a large number of terrorists crossed the Turkish border with Syria's Northern province of Aleppo to join al-Nusra Front.
"A 70-member-group of terrorists, trained and supplied in Turkey, have entered Anadan in the territories of Northern Aleppo in groups to join the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front," Syria's Peace Coordination Center in Hmeimim said, adding, "The fresh terrorists have brought with themselves three vehicles loaded with ammunition and weapons."
en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950301000703
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Syrian Army Continues to Push ISIL back from more Lands East of Homs
May 22nd, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- ISIL has withdrawn from more positions and lost several more key hilltops to the Syrian army in Eastern Homs province, military sources said.
"The Syrian army men continued to drive the ISIL terrorists back from their strongholds in the Central province of Homs and captured al-Khadhariyat hills towards Qasr al-Hayer al-Gharbi-Bardeh, which ended in the killing or wounding of dozens of the militants," the sources said, adding, "The ISIL left behind its military equipment and fled the battlefield."
In relevant developments on Friday, the Syrian Army and its allies stormed the ISIL positions in the Western entrance of al-Sha'er oilfield and drove the terrorists back from the battlefield after inflicting heavy casualties on them.
The Syrian soldiers, the Russian Marines, National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Iraqi popular forces liberated a large swathe of territory from the ISIL and reached at the Western gates of the al-Sha’er energy-rich region.
Meanwhile, South of the al-Sha’er, the Syrian army men made a push Northward in order to cutoff ISIL's supply road and expel them from the region.
en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950301000470
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Mideast
Turkey Deploys More Military Equipment at Borders with Syria
May/22/2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Turkish government has stationed 10 new self-propelled artillery systems at its borders with Syria under the pretext of fighting the ISIL terrorist group.
According to the Anadolu news agency, Ankara has sent 10 self-propelled Firtina artilleries to Islahia town in the Turkish city of Gaziantep near the Syrian borders.
Ankara had earlier this month announced that its artillery units had bombed the ISIL positions in Aleppo.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also claimed that Ankara has provided the ground for cleansing the terrorists at common borders with Syria but Ankara's allies didn’t support this idea.
This is while a Turkish newspaper disclosed last Tuesday that at least 200 injured members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front were admitted and received medical treatment in a militant-owned hospital in Turkey near border with Syria in the years 2013 and 2014.
"The Dar al-Towhid hospital that is located in Gaziantep and is managed by the extremist groups, had been admitting only the wounded terrorists of Syria war during 2013 and 2014," Birgoun newspaper reported.
"The Turkish authorities were well award about the activities of the medical center, actually the hospital in the neighborhood where the security chief of Gaziantep lives," the paper added.
"A prescription of Turkish physicians for a wounded terrorist proves that the Turkish health ministry's officials knew about the treatment of anti-Syria militants in Dar al-Towhid medical center," the newspaper said.
A report said last Saturday that four injured ISIL Takfiri terrorists received treatment at the Ersin Arslan regional hospital in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.
Four wounded ISIL Takfiri terrorists were treated at the Ersin Arslan regional hospital, located in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, an unnamed source told Sputnik. They were admitted on May 5, the medical worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.
One of them, named Bagur Ferhad, is an Afghan national born in 1993, the source said.
"I examined the ISIL fighters. They had gunshot wounds. None of them received life-threatening injuries," the medical worker detailed.
Earlier, Turkish forces opened fire when a group of foreign fighters tried to cross into Syria near Oğuzeli, a city in the Gaziantep province. Three militants were killed, 11 were injured. Four of them were brought to the Ersin Arslan regional hospital. No record of their stay has been made.
"I think that the hospital's authorities don't want the public to find out that these people received medical treatment here. Doctors and health workers working here don't want to treat the ISIL fighters. Some of the doctors come from Kilis, a town that is daily shelled from Syrian territories under ISIL control," the source explained.
The Gaziantep province shares a 50-kilometer-long border with Syria. Its capital city, located less than 100 kilometers North of Aleppo, has long served as a staging post for those, who wanted to fight in the war-torn Arab country.
en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950301001063
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AKP extraordinary congress to name Yıldırım as new chairman, PM begins
May/22/2016
Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım will be officially appointed as the chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and as the new prime minister on May 22, in the party’s second extraordinary congress.
Around 1,470 delegates are expected to elect the party’s third chairman in a vote starting at 4 p.m., in which Yıldırım is the only candidate.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called for an extraordinary congress on May 5, announcing that he would not run for the leadership. Elected as the AKP leader in August 2014, Davutoğlu left his position after a series of disagreements with Erdoğan, who is deemed to be the real leader of the AKP.
On May 19, the AKP announced Yıldırım as its candidate as the party’s third chairman.
A mandate to form the new government will be given to Yıldırım immediately after his election as chairman.
Some 6,000 invitations were sent to all ambassadors in Turkey except those of Egypt, Israel, Bangladesh, Syria and Russia, along with a number of non-governmental organizations, trade unions and political parties, with the exception of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).       
Yıldırım entered politics in the early 2000s as one of the founders of the AKP along with Erdoğan, Abdullah Gül, and Bülent Arınç. He joined the cabinet as the transport minister when the AKP rose to power in 2002 and served in three consecutive governments.
hurriyetdailynews.com/akp-extraordinary-congress-to-name-yildirim-as-new-chairman-pm-begins.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99484&NewsCatID=338
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EU expresses serious concern over Turkish parliament decision to lift immunities
May/21/2016
EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini is seen with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (C) and Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır in a file photo. AFP photo
EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini is seen with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (C) and Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır in a file photo. AFP photo
The European Union has said the bloc was seriously concerned over the lifting of parliamentary immunity of dozens of Turkish lawmakers, expressing its worries that the move would pose a risk to the freedom of expression of democratically elected members of the parliament.
“Today's decision by the Turkish Parliament to permit the lifting of parliamentary immunity of a large number of Members of Parliament is a matter of serious concern,” read a joint statement issued by EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on late May 20.
“In line with relevant international recommendations, immunity must apply to all on a non-discriminatory basis and decisions on lifting immunity must be based on the merits of each specific case, according to transparent criteria and not subject to any political considerations,” read the statement.
A constitutional amendment submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been endorsed by 376 of 550 lawmakers on May 20 to lift the immunities of 148 lawmakers having more than 700 pending cases against them, mostly those from the Kurdish-question focused People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
Mogherini and Hahn stressed that the framework for parliamentary immunity should include specific and objective criteria for taking decisions on lifting immunity, adding “A restrictive interpretation of the legal framework and the Constitution in particular continue to pose a risk to the freedom of expression of Members of Parliament in Turkey.”
“The right to a fair trial is fundamental to the rule of law, and key to ensure public confidence in the judiciary. Any alleged wrongdoing or crime committed by members of parliament should be subject to due process,” read the joint statement.
hurriyetdailynews.com/eu-expresses-serious-concern-over-turkish-parliament-decision-to-lift-immunities.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99482&NewsCatID=510
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Africa
Algeria Refused to Hear Rape Complaint Because Victim Wasn't Muslim
May 21, 2016
Muslims constantly complain how much they're discriminated against in Europe. Here's a reminder of how they treat non-Muslims in their own countries.
In October a Cameroonian woman was gang-raped in Oran by a group of men that threatened her with a dog. When she tried to file a complaint with the authorities, she was rejected on two main grounds: She had no papers, and she wasn’t a Muslim.
The Marie-Simone case became a cause célèbre, and the victim, with the support of some Algerians, eventually obtained justice. But it remains an exception.
The author points out that Muslims in Algeria treat non-Muslims as subhuman even while condemning Europe.
Many black migrants, including those who are not Muslim, are deploying symbols of Islam to appeal to Algerians’ sense of charity. Why? Because poverty helps decode culture better than reflection does, and migrants, lacking shelter and food, are quick to realize that in Algeria there often is no empathy between human beings, only empathy between people of the same religion...
In Europe, migrants can try to play on the humanitarianism and guilty consciences of their hosts, but in Algeria these days, the Other is visible only through the prism of faith...
On the one hand, there are virulent articles about racism in Europe describing the “Jungle,” a migrant detention center in Calais, France, as something of a concentration camp, or presenting fallacious analyses: “No Work in France if You’re Arab or African,” said one headline in an Islamist newspaper in February. On the other hand, there is no shortage of Ku Klux Klan-worthy arguments about the threat posed by blacks, their perceived lack of civic-mindedness and the crimes and diseases they purportedly bring with them...
On the occasion of a soccer match between Algeria and Mali in November 2014, the Islamist daily Echourouk published a photograph of some of the Malian club’s black fans under the caption, “No greetings, no welcome. AIDS behind you,Ebola ahead of you.” But the prejudices of fundamentalists lead them to a different conclusion, simple and monstrous: Either the Other is a Muslim, or he is not at all.
Religious conservatives, like the secular elites, see blacks as victims of injustices perpetrated by white colonizers, but for them redress can only come through Allah. Their propaganda often refers to a precedent from the mythology of Islam’s early days: Bilal, the black Abyssinian slave whose religious conversion led to his emancipation.
Except that for every Bilal there are millions of other blacks, including converts to Islam, who have stayed trapped in servitude for generations. The very subject of slavery in Arab societies is still taboo today, or it is eclipsed by condemnation of Western slavery.
The fact remains that for blacks, embracing Islam is no guarantee of safety...
But these are subjects that largely can't be discussed. The Western left has embraced some mythological solidarity of "brown people" that doesn't actually exist. But it has no interest in addressing subjects like the Arab slave trade or ongoing racism in the Muslim world.
frontpagemag.com/point/262776/algeria-refused-hear-rape-complaint-because-victim-daniel-greenfield
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West Africa: Evolving jihadist strategy increases threat to regional capitals
May/22/2016
An upsurge in attacks on hotels and tourist sites in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast since late 2015 is indicative of the growing reach of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliates in West Africa. The first of these new wave of attacks was reported in November 2015, when gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako. Although militants have long been active in Mali’s volatile northeast, the incident was the first time a major attack took place in the capital. This was followed by further shooting raids on a hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 15 January 2016, and the beach resort of Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast on 13 March 2016. In the two latter cases, the incidents represented the first major Islamist attacks in those countries, while the Ivory Coast incident marked the furthest south Sahel-based militants have carried out an attack. More recently, on 21 March 2016, gunmen struck an EU training mission base at the Nord-Sud hotel in Bamako, before being quickly repelled by guards.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for each attack alongside multiple other independent groups, raising suspicions that more than one militant network helped facilitate the attacks. The Bamako and Ouagadougou attacks were also claimed by the Sahel-based group al-Mourabitoun, led by Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, in what the group described as its first “joint act” with AQIM. Belmokhtar has long had a tense relationship with AQIM, but the Bamako attack appears to be a sign of growing coordination between the groups and was followed by al-Mourabitoun declaring a pledge of allegiance to AQIM in December 2015. Since its formation in 2013, al-Mourabitoun has persistently targeted French interests and its closer cooperation with AQIM partly explains the shift in focus to locations and countries with large French populations.
The Massina Liberation Front (MLF) and Ansar Dine also claimed responsibility for the November 2015 attack in Bamako in what could support claims made by Malian authorities that AQIM was aided by local accomplices in the attack. The MLF is based in south-central Mali near the border with Burkina Faso, while Ansar Dine maintains a faction based in southern Mali that claimed responsibility for attacks on the southern towns of Misseni and Fakola in June and July 2015 near the border with Ivory Coast. The MLF draws many of its recruits from the Fulani ethnic-linguistic group that spans much of the Sahel and West Africa and which AQIM has been reportedly attempting to recruit from in a bid to tap into widespread grievances of marginalisation. Fulani fighters were allegedly used in the attacks in Ouagadougou and the utilisation of these independent militant networks likely provided AQIM with the logistical and reconnaissance capability to expand its operations further south. Since the attacks, Malian security forces have also arrested several high-profile Ansar Dine figures responsible for facilitating cross-border operations. These include the southern faction’s leader, Souleymane Keita, in March 2016, and in May 2016 his deputy and the faction’s logistics chief, Yacouba Toure, who is alleged to have been channelling weapons into Burkina Faso.
The growing cooperation between the Islamist militant groups in the Sahel and their desire to conduct more “spectacular” attacks in West Africa is also likely driven by growing regional rivalry with Islamic State (IS). The emergence of IS in Libya and its increasing influence among jihadist networks in the Sahel have intensified regional competition between IS and AQIM, prompting the latter to seek closer cooperation with other autonomous militant groups and expand the countries in which it operates. In carrying out attacks in new geographies that result in mass fatalities of foreign – particularly Western – nationals, AQIM and its affiliates are likely hoping to both mimic and compete with the international attention drawn from recent IS attacks in Paris and Brussels.
The spread of terrorism in West Africa
The shift in AQIM’s regional strategy represents a growing threat to the wider West African region, including countries that have hitherto had limited experience of Islamic extremism. In recent months, governments in Ghana, Senegal and Togo have all increased security measures in response to reports of expanding jihadist networks, including Islamic State, in their countries. Although none of these countries has any precedent for Islamist militant attacks, the expansion of fundraising and recruitment activities and their large expatriate populations make them potential targets:
Senegal
Senegal’s role in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has long made it a potential target for jihadist attacks. In January 2016, French intelligence services revealed that they had warned both Senegal and Ivory Coast of the possibility of an attack, based on intercepted communications between militants. Senegal has traditionally enjoyed relatively peaceful Christian-Muslim relations compared to many countries in the region, but in recent years there have been reports of young Senegalese men travelling overseas to join IS. These reports coincide with the spread of the hardline Salafist forms of Islam that IS and AQIM subscribe to, which many fear may be promoting extremist ideas among the population.
Despite efforts by the government to expand its counter-terrorism capability – for instance, Senegal participated in the US’s annual Operation Flintlock exercises in February 2016 – training standards remain a concern, while the country’s porous borders with Mauritania and Mali make it vulnerable to infiltration. The concentration of international hotels in the Corniche area of Dakar offers an obvious target for future attacks, while beach resorts south of the capital could present softer, less secured targets, as in the case of Grand Bassam.
Ghana
There are growing concerns within the government that Ghana could be targeted in an attack. A leaked official memo in April 2016 cited intelligence from the National Security Council Secretariat warning both Ghana and Togo of the “real” threat of a terrorist attack and calling on immigration authorities to profile people from Mali, Niger and Libya. Like Senegal, Ghana has relatively peaceful Muslim-Christian relations, though the predominantly Muslim north is the least developed area of the country, giving rise to complaints of marginalisation. In January 2016, the government warned of a number of cases in which Ghanaians had been recruited by IS, indicating the spread of extremist ideologies in Ghana and raising the prospect of these individuals returning to the country to carry out attacks.
Togo
There is no record of a jihadist presence in Togo, although a previously unknown group called Ansar al-Nour in February threatened to launch attacks against Muslim leaders and the Togolese government. There is scant evidence that Ansar al-Nour represents a serious threat and little has been heard of the group since its initial declaration. Nonetheless, the announcement comes at a time of growing Islamist militant activity in the wider region and reports in neighbouring Ghana of a direct threat to Togo. The development of the group and the spread of jihadist ideas in Togo will, however, be an indicator of the evolving threat in the country.
Outlook
The hotel industry in West African capitals will remain a prime target for future attacks, due to its association with Western interests and the high number of foreign nationals who typically congregate in international hotels. This will place pressure on international hotels to invest in boosting security, resulting in increased checks of vehicles and guests. Armed police have already been deployed around major hotels in Senegal, Mali, Ghana and Ivory Coast, while a state of emergency imposed in Mali since late 2015 has been repeatedly renewed. False alarms and mass security deployments around sensitive dates, such as national and religious holidays, will become more common, resulting in road closures and diversions.
Increased intelligence and training support from foreign governments, particularly from France and the EU, will partially mitigate the threat. Recent arrests of high-profile militants in Mali indicate improving counter-terrorism capability, which is highly likely to benefit from greater intelligence-sharing with foreign powers. Nonetheless, porous borders and poor security standards in many West African cities mean that the potential for future attacks remains. AQIM’s ongoing efforts to exploit grievances among Fulani groups and marginalised Muslim communities across West Africa will be a key determinant of its ability to broaden its campaign and reports of recruitment should be monitored closely.
As jihadist groups face growing difficulties in attacking large international hotels, they may seek to expand their targets to include other civilian locations that have weaker security measures in place, such as remote tourist destinations, markets and bus stations. In the case of Ivory Coast, security had been significantly increased in Abidjan following the attacks on Ouagadougou and Bamako, leading to speculation that the militants had chosen Grand Bassam due to the weaker security provisions and underscoring their ability to adapt to changing conditions. More indiscriminate attacks on bus stations, bars and markets are less common among Mali-based groups than IS or Nigeria’s Boko Haram, but could become more frequent as militant groups adapt to improving counter-terrorism capabilities around expatriate hubs.
maravipost.com/2016/05/22/west-africa-evolving-jihadist-strategy-increases-threat-regional-capitals/
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Muslim Student Holds Head Scarf High, Graduates with Honours, Goals
May 21, 2016 -
Fatimata Deme (right), a first-generation Muslim African American Memphian and Whitehaven Tiger, jokes with classmate Darriell Smith as they get ready for graduation at the Cook Convention Center. Before the ceremony, Deme put her yellow mortarboard over her hijab and graduated second in her class with a 4.4. grade-point average. (Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal)
She was born here. She grew up here. She went to school here.
Saturday, she put her gold mortarboard over her hijab and graduated second in her class at Whitehaven High, proud if just slightly disappointed.
"My goal was to be valedictorian," said Fatimata Deme, a first-generation Muslim African American Memphian and Whitehaven Tiger.
She came up a tenth of a point short. She completed her studies with a 4.4. grade-point average, good enough to give her the honor of being class salutatorian.
She took seven Advanced Placement classes. She made the National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society. She received more than $4 million in academic scholarship offers.
Still, people stare.
They make judgments about her because of what she wears, how she always covers her head and neck with a colorful scarf or hijab, her arms and legs with a long gown or abaya.
They make judgments about her based on what others have done, people she doesn't know, never met, never in a million years would agree with or support, no matter what they claimed was their motivation.
It used to bother her a lot — the stares, the questions, the negative assumptions. It made her feel like she wasn't welcome, like she didn't belong in her own country, her own hometown.
She got over it. So did they when they got to know her. They stopped staring and started asking better questions.
"I used to hate all of the questions," Fatimata said. "Now I welcome them. People are curious. They want to know more."
So she explains.
Her parents are from Senegal, one of Africa's model democracies and most stable countries.
They came to America in 1996 and to Memphis in 1997 seeking — like so many immigrants before them — a better life and more opportunities for their children.
"We are very proud of Fatimata and her education," said her father, Baba Deme, the imam at Masjid Taqwa, the mosque on Winchester.
You think being a preacher's kid is a challenge? Try being the American teenage daughter of a clergy leader whose faith tradition discourages or disallows teen dating.
Fatimata is proud of that tradition.
"When boys ask me out, I just say no," she says without a trace of resentment or regret.
She believes modesty is a virtue. She believes she should be judged for what's in her mind and heart and soul, not for what's on her body.
She believes in praying five times a day and regular fasting, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
"When I get into test mode, I don't even notice that I'm fasting," she said.
It helps that she isn't entirely alone.
There are as many as 20 other students at Whitehaven High who are African immigrants or first-generation Africans. Several other girls cover their heads.
There are four Muslim teachers, including a Muslim woman whose hair no one at school has ever seen. Arabic is one of the foreign languages offered.
"I thought I would be tormented or teased when I started going to Whitehaven, but I haven't been at all," she said. "Everyone makes me feel welcome. It makes me feel good."
It also helps that she has attended a school run by Dr. Vincent Hunter, the Whitehaven principal, who runs a tight ship and sets a tone of inclusion and respect.
"Fatimata is a tremendous young lady who has helped our children learn to respect another culture," Hunter said.
Fatimata wanted to be valedictorian, but she has other goals. She loves science, especially biology and chemistry. She loves to view the world at the micro level.
"In medicine there is only one race, the human race," the New England Journal of Medicine declared three years after she was born.
"All God's creatures are His family," the Prophet Muhammad declared centuries ago. "And he or she is the most beloved of God who tries to do the most good to God's creatures."
Fatimata is a form of the name Fatima, who was a daughter of the Prophet.
Fatimata, the daughter of an imam, plans to go to Rhodes College, then to medical school.
Someday she hopes to go to Senegal and help people who don't have access to advanced medical care.
"I want to show that a Muslim woman can do anything," she said.
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