Friday, April 24, 2015

Shah Waliullah’s Islamic Reformation in 18th Century India: Sufi or Wahhabi?  

Shah Waliullah’s Islamic Reformation in 18th Century India: Sufi or Wahhabi?


By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
24 April 2015
Islam was facing baffling internal problems in 18th century India. Corrupt understanding of the Qur’an and Hadith, complete oblivion to the egalitarian values of Islam, sectarian conflict, moral depravity, caste-based prejudices and many more social vices were creeping into the Muslim society. Besides, there was gradual political decline and collapse in India’s Muslim sultanate. Muslim rulers, jurists and the clergy had also fallen in the pit of the moral and ethical decay. They became completely oblivious to the Qur’anic moral trajectories and Prophetic traditions. Muslim scholars and Ulema had literally done the “closing of the gate of Ijtihad” or independent reasoning. Muslim emirs and elites were busy with the enjoyment of their luxurious life. The situation of common Muslim youths was worse. They had set all value upon fulfilling their selfish whims and desires. In this situation, Shah Waliullah launched a project of Islamic reformation in India and concentrated his efforts on the moral, religious and ethical revival of Indian Muslim society and polity. Therefore, Islamic reformation in India in the eighteenth century is mainly attributed to Shah Waliullah Dehlvi.
Notable Reformation Works of Shah Waliullah
Shah Waliullah’s work can be divided into three major categories: (1) intellectual (2) ideological reformation and (3) political. Although Shah Waliullah concerned himself with politics of his era and had a vision to see a strong Muslim government, he is remembered primarily for his contribution to the religious reformation of Indian Muslims. Among notable reformation work of Shah Waliullah was his translation of the holy Qur’an into Persian. He was the first Indian scholar who translated the Quran into the literary language of the subcontinent of his time. He believed that the purpose of reading the Qur’an is to reform human nature and correct erroneous beliefs and practices. For his rendering the Qur’anic texts into Persian, he was severely criticised by the orthodox and ultra-conservative Muslim clergy of his time.
Being an outstanding Muhaddith (Traditionalist), he also left behind several seminal works on Hadith sciences, particularly his commentaries on "Mu'atta", a collection of the Prophetic traditions compiled by Imam Malik, in both Arabic and Persian. Most notably, Shah Waliullah owns the credit of being the first Islamic scholar in India who stressed the need for Ijtihad (rethinking) to find ways to solve the most intricate problems of his time from a theological perspective.
It was due to Shah Waliullah’s emphasis on Ittehad and independent reasoning that eminent Ulema and theologians of almost all Indian Muslim sects claimed to be his intellectual heirs and true followers. Each of them quoted him, rightly or wrongly, to substantiate their own theological stands. Surprisingly enough, from the orthodox Ulema of the Deoband and the Ahle Hadis to the Muslim modernists such as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-98), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1876-1938), nearly all Ulema and Muslim intellectuals laid a strong claim on him. However, their approaches to link with him were diametrically different. While Muslim modernists such as Sir Sayyid and Maulana Azad focused on his originality of thought, rejection of blind faith and endorsement of Ijtihad (individual reasoning), the Deobandi-Salafi Ulema stressed Shah Waliullah’s emphasis on Hadith scholarship, stricter adherence to the Shari’ah and Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh). It is interesting to glance through the views of many modernist Muslim scholars in India, like Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, who held rationalist and reformist ideas, and yet followed the tradition of Shah Waliullah.
As for the Sunni-Sufi Ulema, they were more inspired by Shah Waliullah’s spiritual inclinations and particularly his affiliation to the Naqshbandi Sufi order. Therefore, they continue to look up to him as a source of spiritual inspiration. Not to speak of Sunnis, even many Shias appreciate his work of reformation. His efforts at bridge-building and reducing the sectarian tensions between the Shias and Sunnis is considered a form of Islamic reformation in India. At a time when Shia-Sunni rift was acute, his writings on the subject, particularly “Izalatul Khifa” (removal of darkness) were a great help in reducing the Shia-Sunni tensions in his time. Moreover, he tried to reconcile the most ravaging sectarian tensions amongst different groups of the Muslims and considered the government as an essential agency for regeneration of the community.
In the jurisprudential issues (Fiqhi Masai’l), Shah Waliullah advocated the path of moderation. He gave preference to the Qur’anic verses rather than the Hadith reports in the contentious jurisprudential matters. His approach to interpret the Qur’an and Sunnah was balanced and opposed to the blind imitation (Taqlid-e-Jamid) of the medieval imams as well as the blind faith in Hadith reporters. However, while Shah Waliullah ostensibly criticised blind imitation in faith andFiqh and objected on “the closing of the door of Ijtihad”, he maintained that the door of Ijtihad was not open to all and sundry. Rather, he opined that only those well-versed in the Islamic sciences with the required abilities can engage in Ijtihad. Shah Waliullah’s emphasis on Ijtihad was also demonstrated in his efforts of renewal of the Shariah or Islamic law in tune with the modern times.
Shah Waliullah is also known as a social reformer in the Muslim community. Some of his writings are aimed at reorienting the Muslim society with the concepts of basic social justice, removing social inequality and balancing the distribution of wealth. In his book, Hujjat-ullahil Balighah, he mentioned the causes and remedies for degeneration and disintegration of Muslim society.
Pointing out to Shahi Waliullah’s social and political reform works, S. M. Ikram Chaghatai writes: “there were valid reasons for fearing that political disintegration would be accompanied by religious collapse. But that did not happen, due to more than anything else but the services of one man.”  (Shah Waliullah: His Religious and Political Thought by M. Ikram Chaghatai)
Was Shah Waliullah Sufi or Wahhabi?
There is much hype over the theological orientation of Shah Waliullah. From most of his thoughts, it appears that he was imbued with the teachings of Sufism as he belonged to a Sufi family. But some of his writings, as produced and criticised in modern researches, underpin that he was influenced by Wahhabism..... This is perhaps why his thoughts and writings are considered as precursors for radicalism in the Indian subcontinent.  For instance, Dr Farhan Zahid, wrote in his PhD thesis titled “Roots of Radical Islamist Ideologies in South Asia: “Shah Waliullah was inspired from Wahhabi Movement of Arabia. In fact he was a contemporary of Ibn-al-Wahhab, the leader of 18th century radical Arabian Islamist movement. Waliullah had personally come across Wahhab while on pilgrimage to Arabia. Wahhab's writings and thoughts greatly inspired him. " He further writes that “Waliullah's writings are precursors for providing sources for radicalism. He gave a distinct political thought previously absent in Muslim political thought prevailing during the times of semi-secular Mughal dominated India.”
Jamil Ahmad writes in his book titled “Hundred Great Muslims" under the subtitle “Shah Waliullah”: “in his early age, Shah Saheb came under the influence of Ibn-e-Taimiya, a great religious reformer. During his stay in Hejaz, he came into contact with scholars who were influenced by Wahhabism. This provided a check to his blind following of Sufism. But like Wahhabis, he did not totally discard Sufism. He was aware of the services rendered by Sufis in popularising Islam in the subcontinent and the spiritual self developed by the truly Islamic form of Sufism. But he was highly critical of the decadent and traditional form of Sufism which borders on the verge of asceticism and is, therefore, averse to true Islam. In his Wasiyat Nama (Will) he observes: “And the next advice (Wasiyat) is that one should not entrust one's affairs to and become a disciple of the saints of this period who are given to a number of irregularities”.
 Dr Farhan Zahid wrote in his PhD thesis titled “Roots of Radical Islamist Ideologies in South Asia: “Waliullah's writings are precursors for providing sources for radicalism. He gave a distinct political thought previously absent in Muslim political thought prevailing during the times of semi-secular Mughal dominated India.”
According to Ayesha Jalal, “hailed as being at once a Muslim modernist and the architect of Sunni orthodoxy, Shah Waliullah left an intellectual legacy that casts a long shadow over all subsequent explications of jihad in theory and attempts to translate it into practice”. (Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia", Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore, pages 15-16)
R. Upadhyay writes in his book "Shah Wali Ullah's Political Thought: Still a Major Obstacle against Modernization of Indian Muslims" (South Asia Analysis Group, Paper no. 629) that "On principle Waliullah had no difference with his contemporary Islamic thinker Abd-al-Wahhab (1703-1787) of Saudi Arabia, who had also launched an Islamic revivalist movement. Wahhab, who is regarded as one of the most radical Islamists had a wide range of followers in India”.
However, Shah Waliullah is known as a Sufi scholar among many Muslim circles of the Indian subcontinent. Most of the Sunni Sufi Muslims of India (also known as Ahl-e-Sunnat wa Jam’at) believe that Shah Waliullah was a reformist Sufi. They appreciate his contributions to major issues in Sufism, for instance, the theory of the unity of being (Wahdat al-Wujud) versus the unity of witness (Wahdat Al-Shuhud). The fact is that Shah Waliullah tried to strike a balance between the orthodoxy in Islam introduced by Ibn Taimiya and the Islamic heterodoxy championed by Sufis. He believed that Islam had two vital aspects. Its exoteric side was concerned with the protection of the public good but its esoteric aspect involved the purification of the heart through virtuous deeds.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar. He has graduated from a leading Islamic seminary of India, Jamia Amjadia Rizvia (Mau, U.P.), acquired Diploma in Qur'anic Arabic from Al-Jamiat ul Islamia, Faizabad, U.P., and Certificate in Uloom ul Hadith from Al-Azhar Institute of Islamic Studies, Badaun, U.P. He has also graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M. A. in Comparative Religion from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

The Spectre of History: Thoughts on an Islamic Reformation

The Spectre of History: Thoughts on an Islamic Reformation

By Ali Minai
April 13, 2015
The call for an "Islamic reformation" is ringing out across the world in response to the rise of Jihadi militant groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, asking "Where is the Muslim Luther"? In the many opinion pieces and outright prescriptions gracing the pages of magazines, newspapers and blogs, one hears a clear message of "reform or die!" Given the menace posed by Muslim militant groups, this is neither surprising nor unreasonable. But is it really useful to think in terms of reforming the religion of Islam?
This article argues that seeking a religious reformation in Islam is neither feasible nor especially useful as a strategy for countering the current rise of Islamic militancy. While this militancy undoubtedly draws upon Islamic beliefs, groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda are emergent products of an underlying societal attitude, and until that attitude changes, such groups will continue to arise. Of course, it is critical to fight today's particular militants with every available tactic, but it is even more important to understand why such groups emerge and persist in Muslim societies today, and how this dynamic can be changed.
Proponents of "Islamic reformation" have often invoked the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe as an example of the radical change that's needed in Islam today. But as perceptive commentators have pointed out, this argument is fatally flawed: An illiberal and puritanical movement directed at a specific institution – the Roman Catholic Church – is a poor model for reforming an illiberal and puritanical system with no institutionalized clergy. Ultimately, the possibilities for change in Islam are constrained by its historical nature. More than an organized religion, it is a normative ideology defined implicitly by the attitudes of believers towards sacred texts and personages. Unlike Christianity, which is mainly about doctrine, Islam is mostly about history – past and future, personal and universal.
Through its first three centuries, Christianity was a faith without temporal power. This is reflected in the New Testament, which focuses almost entirely on spiritual, ethical and doctrinal matters. When Christianity finally achieved power under Constantine, it necessarily institutionalized a distinction, though not yet a separation, between Church and State – a recognition that God had His domain and Caesar had his, albeit with God's sanction. Notwithstanding the active participation of the Church in politics for centuries thereafter, the formal aim of Christianity has always been to shape souls, with personal Redemption and Salvation as core ideas. In contrast, Islam acquired temporal power during its earliest period, and developed a strong vision of itself, not only as the basis of individual piety, but also as the shaper of history and an organizer of societies.
This is reflected in the Qur'an, which includes extensive legal and political prescriptions in addition to doctrinal ones. Almost from its inception, serious thinkers in Islam worked to develop an integrated framework of doctrinal, personal, legal and political rules that came to be known as the shari'a – the Islamic code – and aspired to make this the organizing principle of humanity as a whole. Most of the issues vexing the world today in the name of Islam arise from this universalist vision of Islamic law as exclusively "right" for all people and all times at all levels of societal organization.
Draconian laws against blasphemy and apostasy, the suppression of free expression, the relegation of non-Muslim minorities to secondary status, the "House of Islam" vs. "House of War" view of the world that foments jihad, the preference of loyalty to God over loyalty to the state – all follow from this inherently transcendental and supremacist attitude. It means that the "separation of church and state" is conceptually more alien to Muslims than it ever was to Christians. And though the ideal of an "Islamic state" ruled by the shari'a has never truly been implemented, its allure has been a powerful cultural toxin throughout Muslim history – especially today when centuries of being powerless have removed most constraints of reality from zealous imaginations.
It has been asserted that the current surge of Muslim militancy is a modern phenomenon, rooted in an a historical response to modernity by those with revivalist or apocalyptic visions of Islam. That is true enough, but it is certainly not the whole truth: One also has to explain why these revivalist and apocalyptic visions are emerging today, and where their roots lie. In fact, these visions represent the atavistic re-emergence of an early tendency in Islam. A vision born in 7th century Arab garrison towns and gradually ground into dust by a thousand years of history has been resurrected by ideologues taking advantage of circumstances such as intellectual decline, colonial occupation and the geography of oil. In a real sense, it is history that today is repeating itself a historically – as both tragedy and farce!
The intense desire for a righteous Islamic polity arose early in the history of Islam. Even as Umayyad rulers assimilated the norms of Byzantine culture and the Abbasid caliphs self-consciously adopted the Sassanian "Great King" model for themselves, significant groups of what Marshall Hodgson calls "piety-minded" Muslims arose in both the Shi'a and Sunni sects of Islam, seeking to implement a state modeled strictly on Islamic principles derived from the Qur'an and the Prophet's life. Over time, Shi'a and Sunni Muslims developed two distinct models for achieving this. The Shi'a model, based on the concept of a charismatic leader – an imām – allowed greater institutionalization of the shari'a, and ultimately proved to be more successful politically. The Sunni model was based on the consensus of the larger community around the shari'a, which was a more challenging approach. Neither was ever able to achieve full implementation, but most of the piety-minded Sunnis accepted an accommodation with the Abbasid rulers based on infusion of the shari'a into the legal and social fabric. For some among them, however, this was a betrayal of principle, and the history of Islam from the 7th century through the 10th is one of smoldering religious rebellions throughout the realm by both Shi'a and Sunni groups seeking to establish their visions of a purer Islamic order. The Sunni rebels of that era, typically called the Khawārij (the excluded), are the true conceptual ancestors of today's Jihadi groups.
In time, Islam's view of itself as the universal organizing force of history and society was diluted by human nature. Piety took on a much more mystical and personal aspect, leaving the shaping of history to rulers with largely secular ambitions. The few notable exceptions – such as the Zaydis in Yemen, the Fatimids in Egypt, and the Safavids in Iran – occurred in the more organized Shi'a tradition. Most of the successful Sunni dynasties that arose after the dissolution of the Abbasid Empire in the mid-10th century – Samanids, Ghaznavids, Seljuks, Mamlukes, Mongols, the Delhi Sultans, Ottomans, Mughals, and others  – were rather non-religious in their exercise of power, using religious trappings mainly as symbols or as instruments of their ambitions. It is interesting to note that this occurred just as the ruling classes shifted from being Arab to becoming more Turkic, Iranian or Mongol. Though it had claimed universality and involved participation from all ethnic groups, the vision of the shari'a was always rooted in an Arab ethos. The Turks and Mongols brought forth a very different model of the state – one based on absolute rule, concrete geopolitics and a worldly culture rather than on religious abstractions. The model found its final great expression in the Ottoman and Mughal empires, which were not very different than their European counterparts in giving religion mainly a ceremonial place in governance.
The ruler in these empires was absolute – the "shadow of God on Earth", the "emperor of the land and the sea", the "commander of the faithful", etc. The Indian emperor, Jalāl-ud-Dīn Akbar, even used a pun on his name to appropriate the honorific "jalla-jalaluhu" – "may his glory be exalted" – a phrase hitherto reserved for God alone. By then, the vast majority of Muslims had already come to accept this model that was replicated at scales ranging from empires to city states for centuries. All authority rested with the ruler, including the authority to prescribe religious norms through appropriate officials. Of course, most of these rulers were still cruel despots – and especially merciless in their persecution of non-Muslims – but this was almost always a political rather than a religious choice, as shown by their willingness to make close alliances with the same groups against other Muslims when needed.                                     
Evidence of this gradual change in Muslim societies can be seen in the high culture that emerged during the Abbasid period and reached spectacular heights in later eras nearly up until colonial times. This was a culture – or rather, a constellation of cultures – of great diversity, intellectual vigor, and a decidedly unorthodox, cosmopolitan outlook exemplified in the Muslim heartland by figures such as Abu Nuwas, Al-Jahiz, Ibn Sina and Al-Ma'arri, but also manifesting itself in all its variety from Spain to India in geniuses such as Albiruni, Ferdowsi, Omar Khayyam, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Khaldun, Rashid-al-Din Hamdani, Jelaluddin Rumi, Sa'di Shirazi, Hafez Shirazi, Amir Khusro Dehlavi, and many others – not all of them Muslim. This diverse intellectual tradition was paralleled by – and often intermingled with – an equally vigorous and diverse tradition of Sufi mysticism that spread its message of individual enlightenment and humanism in Muslim lands from Spain to India, amalgamating ideas from Hinduism, Buddhism and Iranian religions with the Semitic heritage of Islam to create a trans-civilizational culture of remarkable complexity. Though occasionally set back by eruptions of puritanism – as under the Abbasid Caliph Al-Qadir or the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir – the cultures of Muslim lands became remarkably rich and eclectic between the 8th and 17th centuries.
It is difficult to say whether, left to itself, this system would ultimately have moved towards greater modernization and democracy, as occurred in Europe, or if it would have evolved in some other direction. Progressive or not, it is unlikely that any such process could have avoided the challenges that modern ideas presented to the organization of societies. Something new – despotic or democratic, but grounded in real history – would have emerged if the process of political evolution had not been interrupted.                                                     
It has become fashionable to blame the decline of intellectual vigor in Islamicate culture on the Mongol invasion, the Plague, or on orthodox scholars such as Al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyyah, and Shaykh Ahmad Sarhindi in India. These may all have been factors in the decline of science and philosophy among Muslims after the 13th century, but art and literature prospered for centuries after. More importantly, so did the tradition of non-theocratic rule. What truly arrested the development of Muslim societies was their disconnection from the historic process by the weakening of Muslim rulers through internal factors (e.g., the consequences of Aurangzeb Alamgir's catastrophic policies in India) and the subsequent advent of colonial powers. All secular innovation stopped – including innovation needed to develop a more modern social and political order. After all, practical models of statecraft evolve in sovereign states with real power, not in subject populations or subservient societies. The powerless, freed from the responsibility of consequences, can wallow in their misery, create imaginary histories, and nurture delusions of promised grandeur. In imposing their new order, the European powers took away both the capacity of governance from Muslim rulers and the possibility of challenges to this governance from reformers, leaving a vacuum in political thinking. In time, this vacuum was filled by the detritus of history - revivalist ideologies and fantasies in the quest to reclaim a mythical lost state of purity and virtue – leading directly to the situation before us today.
All this is not to imply that colonialism created the modern Islamic militancy – that the Europeans "did this" to the Muslims. As discussed earlier, the seeds of this problem were inherent in the Islamic worldview, but had largely lain dormant for centuries. This was already beginning to change as the gunpowder empires weakened, but colonization certainly amplified this by creating an ungoverned intellectual space in many Muslim societies where the seeds of radical ideologies could re-germinate and take root without significant notice. In the language of evolutionary biology, a "neutral space" was provided for the intellectual "genotype" to change without being reflected much in the "phenotype" of actual action. It is interesting to note that the modern corpus of revivalist ideologies in Islam developed mainly, though not exclusively, in opposition to Western ideas such as nationalism, democracy, capitalism and communism. The one significant region that retained its historical continuity – Ottoman Turkey – was also the one most ready to modernize, though obviously not for this reason alone. Today, what was at best an undercurrent of originalist thought embodied in figures such as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahhab has come to pervade large parts of the Muslim population – even in regions such as South Asia, which was dominated by the mystical strain of Islam prior to the early 18th century. And interestingly, this has coincided with the re-emergence of peninsular Arabia as a major force in the Muslim world thanks to oil wealth. Perhaps it should not be surprising then that the spirit of 7th century Arab garrison towns should be stalking the world again.
For all their visible depredations, groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda are not the core problem today; they are symptoms of a deeper crisis in the community of Islam. Muslim societies, put to sleep and disconnected from their history, have dreamt themselves an ancient dream. Waking up in a new world, and having lost the realistic balance developed over many centuries, all they can imagine today is either to recreate that lost 7th century vision or to impose modernity by diktat. The organic historical process that could, over time, have brought them naturally into modernity is completely disrupted. Reigniting that process must be the primary aim of any reform in the Muslim world.
In the absence of any institutional religious authority, it has been suggested that changing Muslim societies today requires top-down imposition of modern ideas by governments – that only a Sisi can counter an ISIS. Indeed, this has been the preferred post-colonial model of Western powers for the Muslim world for decades – essentially re-creating, in an almost farcical way, the situation of Islam's early days, when ultra-puritanical groups fought absolute rulers whom they saw as corrupt and ungodly. Today, there are many such rulers and many such groups, but, embedded in the modern context, both the powerful and the rebellious are mere simulacra of their historical models. The fact is that true change across a diverse set of societies encompassing more than a billion people can occur neither through the edicts of scholars nor the concerted actions of dictators. It is even less likely to occur as a result of lectures by Western intellectuals. The space for militant ideologies will disappear only when a sufficient number of individuals professing the Islamic faith develop an attitude that celebrates humanity, seeks to engage with the universe on rational terms, and comes to value life in service of Man more than death for the glory of God. And these things will not occur through reformist fatwa’s, but by modern education, political participation, cultural renewal, reconnection with actual history, a change in economic incentives, and – as happened in Europe – by courageous individuals within the Muslim community reimagining the roles of Faith, Justice and Reason in society. The Muslim world does not need a Reformation; it needs a Renaissance – leading, perhaps, to an Enlightenment. Ultimately, it isn't "Islam" that needs to change, it is Muslims.
It is by no means certain that this change can happen. The triumph of the European Renaissance was to shift the framework for understanding the Universe and Man’s place in it from a theocentric one to a rational, materialistic one. That shift – and the explosion of scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs it generated – was critical both to the development of a materialistic human-centered philosophy, i.e., secular humanism, and to the rise of the West as the shaper of the modern world. Regardless of politically correct assertions to the contrary, it is not possible to truly adopt liberal humanist values without also buying into a fundamentally secular, human-centered and at least provisionally materialistic world-view - to believe that material things matter and that the universe can be understood in material terms. This tension is a problem not only for Muslims but also for Christians and others, and the inability to reconcile faith with modernity still generates conflict in Western societies. However, most people in these societies have learned the “mind trick” of following secular laws and accepting materialistic science while keeping faith alive at an individual level. Mechanisms for this are available within the Muslim intellectual tradition too, but the recent tendency in most Muslim societies has been to move away from these towards greater literalism. How, and whether, this trend can be reversed should be the question on the minds of all would-be reformers of Islam.
If history is any guide, the various militant groups of today will never be able to coordinate sufficiently to become a truly global territorial threat. The very lack of institutionalization that makes Sunni Islam hard to reform may also have made it incapable of supporting coordinated movements on a large scale. However, in a complex system, it is always dangerous to predict the impossibility of a phenomenon – especially in today's globalized communication environment. At the same time, the distributed but highly connected nature of the system also makes it susceptible to rapid global transformation under certain conditions – a phase transition, so to speak – for better or worse.
That last possibility is especially ominous today as the world faces imminent demographic and environmental crises. The stresses generated by these crises cannot but fan greater conflict – and not just in the Muslim world. One consequence is likely to be a sharp increase in nationalism and intolerance across the world, which will only strengthen the current militancy. It is easy to imagine, in fifty years, a world beset by conflict everywhere, divided between governed and ungoverned spaces, which has been the natural state of the world through most of human history. Indeed, ungoverned spaces are on the rise even today – in Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Central America and elsewhere. As oceans rise, water runs out, droughts grow and catastrophes multiply, a time could come when today's troubled world looks like a quaintly peaceful place. And perhaps the change needed to solve today's crises will emerge only after these crises have inflicted the full measure of their violence on humanity, and created a truly new world. Hope springs eternal!
Source: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2015/04/the-spectre-of-history.html#more

Is Universal Animal Sacrifice on Eid ul Azha A Bid’at (Innovation)? Animal Sacrifice Is Not a Pillar of Islam like Tauheed, Namaz, Roza, Haj and Zakat

Is Universal Animal Sacrifice on Eid ul Azha A Bid’at (Innovation)? Animal Sacrifice Is Not a Pillar of Islam like Tauheed, Namaz, Roza, Haj and Zakat

By Ziaur Rahman, New Age Islam
24 April 2015
 The Islamic festival of Eidul Azha, the second major festival after Eid is marked by animal sacrifice by Muslims all over the world. For this purpose Muslims buy animals –goats, sheep, camel and cows. Before the sacrifice, the animals are also paraded in the streets to show the pride of the owners. The business of sacrificial animals runs into billions of rupees all over the world. In a multi-religious society like India, this season also marks heightened communal tension and non-Muslims express their displeasure over the huge traffic of animal-laden carriages through non-Muslim majority areas.
Muslims believe that the animal sacrifice wins them reward and is a means for the atonement of their sins. Owners dedicate the reward for the sacrifice to their dead ones so that their sins are removed through this sacrifice. They have also the rule that seven Muslims can share the reward of sacrifice of a buffalo, bull or a cow. Thus a big animal becomes the means for the atonement of sins of seven Muslim, though this is not mentioned in the Quran.
The rite of animal sacrifice has its origin in a dream envisioned by Prophet Abraham. He saw that he was slashing the throat of his son Ishmail. He took the dream as a commandment from God to sacrifice his son. He told his son about the dream. His son Ismail showed his readiness to be sacrificed if it would please God. He made his son prostrate on the ground and put his knife on his neck. But when after slaying his son, he opened his eyes, he found a sheep lying in place of his son and his son was standing beside him.
This incident is narrated in the Quran in the following words:
Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!" So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him "O Abraham! Thou hast already fulfilled the vision! - thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial-And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice: And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times: (As-Safat 37: 102-107)
So, according to God, it was a trial for Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and he emerged successful in this trial of faith.
This sacrifice of Abraham has become a religious rite of the Muslims all over the world and is observed in the month of Haj pilgrimage.
Islamic traditions say that after Prophet Abraham slayed his son and opened his eyes, he found a sheep lying slashed and his son was standing intact beside him. But the Quran does not say this. It only says that when he laid his son prostrate on his forehead and was about to slaughter him, God called out and said it was only a trial and he did not have to slay him.
God says that animal sacrifice had been prescribed in every ummah. And so it was mandated to the followers of Islam as well.
However, we do not find the mention of animal sacrifice as a universal commandment for all Muslims as is generally believed.
God says in the Quran:
And complete the Hajj or 'umra in the service of Allah. But if ye are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as ye may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the 'umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that Allah Is strict in punishment. (2:196) ((Abdullah Yusuf Ali)
The verse is specifically addressed to those going to Hajj pilgrimage. Only those who go on Hajj or Umra are asked to offer animal sacrifice.
Surah Al Kauthar also asks Muslims to offer nahr (slaughter or zib’h).
“So pray to your Lord and make sacrifice.”
From this verse it is not clear whether it is a general commandment for offering animal sacrifice or a specific (for those offering Hajj).
One verse makes it clear:
“In the end their place of sacrifice is near the Ancient House (Kaaba).”(Al-Hajj 22: 33)
The animal sacrifice should be made only near the Ancient House (Kaaba). It suggests that animal sacrifice is prescribed only for those who go to Hajj pilgrimage.  Otherwise, the verse would not specify the place of sacrifice.
While narrating the incident involving Abraham and his son, it does not say that God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham had a vision seeing himself slaying his son. So he interpreted it as a dream or commandment from God. God says in the Quran that when Abraham was going to slay his son, He called out to Abraham and prevented him from doing that. He appreciated his spirit of sacrificing his dearest possession for the pleasure of God. God will never ask a father to kill his son for no fault of his. It was only a trial for his faith.
Animal sacrifice is not a pillar of Islam like Tauheed, namaz, roza, haj and Zakat. Animal sacrifice is only a part of Hajj pilgrimage. But Muslims seem to have turned this specific commandment into a universal commandment like namaz, roza, haj and zakat. Muslims need to reinterpret the Quranic verses about animal sacrifice and reach at a consensus on this topic.
Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice his most valuable possession, his son, to express his devotion to God. This practice gave birth to the sacrifice of animals in the primitive eras when the cattle were the most valuable possession after human beings. So, sacrificing animals or cattle meant sacrificing the most valuable economic possession in the path of God. Cattle formed the basis of their economy. In those days people were rewarded for good deeds or achievements with cattle and were punished for their crime with penalty with cattle.
In the modern times, cattle are not the backbone of economy. They are not the valuable possessions of Muslims. People domesticate them only for some benefits like milk, meat, fur etc. Only a section of Muslims have animal slaughter as their profession or means of living, not all the Muslims. If they make animal sacrifice, it may be justified only to some extent. So sacrificing animals does not meaning sacrificing their valuable possession. What they spend or sacrifice is money (gold or silver) and for sacrificing this money, they buy animals from the market. These animals are not their valuable possessions or part of their wealth. So it turns into a mechanical rite rather than a spiritual practice. One wants to sacrifice Rs 20, 000 this year, so he goes to the cattle market and buys an animal worth that amount and then slays him on Eidul Azha. So what he sacrifices is his money and not an animal he loved.
Therefore, this concept of animal sacrifice needs to be rethought in the context of modern social and economic milieu as animal sacrifice is not specific. Even the verses of the Quran say that if a person who intended and made all the preparation for Hajj but cannot go or is prevented or has some illness, he should make recompense by fasting for ten days. That is, animal sacrifice can under circumstances be replaced with other acts of charity like fasting or feeding the poor or helping them monetarily. God Himself says,
“It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you that ye may glorify Allah for His guidance to you: And proclaim the Good News to all who do right.” (Al-Hajj 22: 37)

The ‘Siddiq Spirit’

The ‘Siddiq Spirit’



By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
23 April, 2015
The Prophet of Islam died in 632 CE. After him, Abu Bakr Siddiq became the first Caliph. His Caliphate lasted around 2 ½ years. During his Caliphate, Islam was faced with a serious challenge. Expressing his determination to face this challenge, Abu Bakr Siddiq declared, “Should there be erosion in religion while I am still alive?”
This is the ‘Siddiq spirit’. Whenever the divine religion is faced with a serious problem, a true believer will be shaken up. Relying solely on God, he will stand up for the sake of the faith.
Such a development has emerged for Islam in the 21st century. And so, once again the need has emerged for some believers to stand up, inspired by the ‘Siddiq spirit’ and for the sake of the faith.
The greatest problem today is that the very image of Islam has been badly disfigured. The divine religion is completely a religion of peace. But because of the wrong actions of Muslims themselves, its image has been transformed into that of a religion of violence. This situation is such as to shake every believer to the very roots.
Given the extremely serious scenario that prevails today in this regard, every believer must get fully engaged in once again turning God’s religion into a religion of peace. For this purpose, they can arrange for translations of the Quran in every language to be given to people and for literature on Islam’s message of peace to be made readily available, so that every person comes to know that God’s religion is a religion of peace and that it has nothing to do with violence.
The Quran tells us at the very outset that God is the Sustainer of the worlds, that He is merciful towards all mankind. God and God’s religion have nothing at all to do with hatred and violence. The time has now come for true believers to declare, “Will God’s religion be falsely portrayed as a religion of violence even though we are still alive?”
This is the ‘Siddiq spirit’, and this is the task that is most desirable and necessary today.

Ansarullah: Halt of Saudi Aggression Done at US Order

Ansarullah: Halt of Saudi Aggression Done at US Order




Photo: Crowds Protest against Saudi Bombing of Yemen









Mideast
Ansarullah: Halt of Saudi Aggression Done at US Order
Crowds Protest against Saudi Bombing of Yemen
Erdogan: ISIS seeks to destroy Muslim world
New ‘Green Brigade’ of Isis claims Yemen attack
Turkish PM says deportation is crime against humanity
Saudi-led coalition launches airstrikes on Houthis

Arab World
At Least 42 Dead in Rebel-ISIS Clashes near Damascus: Monitor
Arab Top Brass to Set up Panel on Preparing Regional Force
Syrian Army Continues Hunting Takfiri Terrorists in Lattakia Province
10 Killed in Two Bomb Blasts in Iraq
US, Israel and Saudi Arabia Declare ‘Victory’
Syrian Army Pushes Back Al-Nusra Terrorists from Villages, Towns in Al-Quneitra
Rise of Jordan's Salafi Fighters Puts Country at Risk
Saudi envoy: Yemen strikes show Arab resolve to act alone

Pakistan
20 Militants Killed In Air Strikes in Northwest Pakistan
Pakistan Leaders in Saudi Arabia to Press Yemen Negotiations
Two prisoners hanged in Sahiwal, Sargodha
Nearly 100 death row convicts executed since December
Mechanism devised for early implementation of Chinese MoUs: FO
Education for all: For Pakistan, still a long road ahead
Security Advisor to PM Urges for Right to Self Determination for Kashmiris, Palestinians

South Asia
Three Soldiers Martyred, 19 Militants Killed In Military Operations
President Ghani to terrorists: If you have courage “Face our soldiers, not kids”
Roadside bomb kills eight civilians in Afghanistan
Verdict in Mahidur-Afsar’s war crimes case any day

India
'26/11 Accused Have Set Up Karachi-Style Control Room in Jail'
For Peace in Mid-East, India Urges Political Settlement, Action on Terror
Pakistani Hindus Can Apply For Long-Term Indian Visa Online
Tipu Sultan's Arms Collection Sold For Over 6 Million Pounds
India-Pakistan maritime boundary may be a major drug transit route
Beef ban: Bombay HC reserves its order in petitions challenging law
Hardline Separatist Masrat Alam Booked Under Public Safety Act

Europe
IS Group Is 'Russia's Greatest Enemy', Not US: Lavrov
India Must Intervene In Maldives: Amnesty
Taking Jihad to School – French Programs Emphasize Secularism
EU summit to consider military action over migrant crisis
Iran, world powers seek to finalise nuclear deal
PM says five terror attacks 'foiled' in France

Africa
South African President Calls for Efforts to Fight Xenophobia
Algeria Army Kills Three Armed Islamists
Libyan journalist shot dead in Benghazi
Nigerian forces invade last known stronghold of Boko Haram

North America
Play Positive Role, US Tells Iran
U.S. Teen ‘Seduced’ By ISIS Ideology, Convicted On Gun Charge
New Pentagon Strategy Warns of Cyber war Capabilities
Carter concerned Iran ships may carry arms for Yemen rebels
In Jail Memoir, Headley Recalls 26/11, LeT Training, Polygamy

Southeast Asia
Indonesia and Iran Call for Terror Cooperation
Asking government to change leader not seditious, says Dr M
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Mideast

Ansarullah: Halt of Saudi Aggression Done at US Order
April 23, 2015
A senior member of Yemen's popular Ansarullah movement blasted Saudi Arabia for its month-long airstrikes on his country, and said that the Al Saud dynasty stopped its aggression at the US order.
"This action has been taken at the US order and Ansarullah has not signed any agreement with the aggressors (in this regard)," Ahmad Hamed said on Wednesday. 
He also explained that the US wanted the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen to come to a halt because the war could not materialize their political objectives.
Saudi-led coalition warplanes conducted fresh air strikes on the Yemeni city of Taiz on Wednesday, despite a last night declaration that the coalition would end its "Decisive Strom" military operation.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia declared that it would stop bombing Yemen's cities on Tuesday night after 27 days of airstrikes on Yemeni cities that have resulted in the death of around 2,900 people, mostly women and children.
The senior Saudi officials said they would stop their attacks, stating that they have obtained their goals, including elimination of threats through a destruction of Yemen's ballistic missiles, a claim already rejected by senior Ansarullah leader Habib Zuhair al-Muslim.
In his interview with FNA earlier Tuesday, Muslim denied the claims made by Ahmed al-Assiri, the spokesman of Saudi-led coalition's 'Decisive Storm' military operation, about the destruction of 80% of the arms and ammunition of the Ansarullah movement in the Saudi-led airstrikes.
Muslim told FNA that Ansarullah revolutionaries' arms, armoured vehicles and rockets are stored in secret and safe depots, and Saudi Arabia may not find their whereabouts.
Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes on March 26 and kept them in place for 27 days in a move to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression claimed the lives of around 2,900 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children. The attacks have also left thousands of people injured.
Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.
Despite Riyadh's claims that it was bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes were flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
Five Persian Gulf States -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait -- and Egypt that are also assisted by Israel and backed by the US declared war on Yemen in a joint statement issued on March 26.
Riyadh officials said the Saudi-led coalition operations in Yemen are now entering a political phase, but the latest reports from different Yemeni cities say that the Saudi airstrikes are still underway.
The Saudi warplanes hit the central prison in Taiz city on Wednesday, while reports from Sana'a and Saada report heavy bombings by the Saudi-led coalition.
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940202000547
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Crowds Protest against Saudi Bombing of Yemen
April 23, 2015
Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni people took to the streets of the capital Sana'a on Wednesday to protest against the Saudi-led airstrikes that have left thousands killed and injured.
The Yemeni protesters demonstrated against the Saudi-led coalition air raids on their country, chanting slogans against US, Israel and the Al Saud royal family.
The also said that Saudi Arabia is a tool and agent of US and Israel.
The revolutionary committee had earlier called on the people to take to the streets of the capital Sana'a and other governorates on Wednesday afternoon to condemn the crimes of the Saudi aggression and Faj Attan massacre.
Ansarullah revolutionaries urged Yemeni people to stage protests across Yemen in condemnation of the Saudi aggression that has claimed the lives of around 2900 civilians.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia declared that it stopped bombing Yemen after 27 days of airstrikes that have resulted in the death of around 2,900 people, mostly women and children.
Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes on March 26 and kept them in place for 27 days in a move to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression claimed the lives of around 2,900 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children. The attacks have also left thousands of people injured.
Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.
Despite Riyadh's claims that it was bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes were flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.
Riyadh officials said the Saudi-led coalition operations in Yemen are now entering a political phase, but the latest reports from different Yemeni cities said that the Saudi airstrikes are still underway.
The Saudi warplanes hit the central prison in Taiz city on Wednesday, while reports from Sana'a and Saada said heavy bombings by the Saudi-led coalition continued since this morning.
The Saudi warplanes also hit the Faj Attan district in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition conducted heavy air raids on Saada governorate, bombing al-Manarzaleh and al-Malahiz areas.
Also, witnesses said warships of the Saudi-coalition forces are firing rockets and missiles at several areas in the Yemeni city of Aden despite Riyadh's last night declaration that military operation against Yemen has stopped.
Eye-witnesses said they have seen American warships firing at Aden, but an army officer deployed in the city said the vessels are "Egyptian navy".
The Saudi fighter jets also hit many areas in al-Waht town Northwest of Aden.
Saudi air strikes were also reported in the Yemeni city of Lahij.
According to FNA dispatches, tens of people have been killed and many more wounded in the Saudis' continued airstrikes across the war-stricken country on Wednesday.
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940202001429
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Erdogan: ISIS seeks to destroy Muslim world
April 23, 2015
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched one of his strongest attacks yet against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, saying the group was a “virus” working to destroy the Muslim community.
Ankara has been repeatedly criticized in recent months for not doing enough to halt the advance of ISIS to its borders, but Erdogan said after meeting Iraqi President Fuad Masum that the group had to be confronted.
The ISIS group “is an important virus that is working to divide and destroy the ummah”, Erdogan told reporters in televised comments, using the term for the community of Muslims.
He said other groups had followed the same path but that ISIS had proved more adept and serious in using its resources.
“An international strategy is essential to drain this swamp. Even if Daesh is destroyed something will emerge under a different name,” said Erdogan, using a pejorative Arabic acronym to refer to ISIS.
“Where do its weapons and financing come from? We need to focus on this,” Erdogan said.
Turkey had itself been accused of aiding ISIS in the early stages of its existence as a useful ally in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Erdogan wants to see ousted.
But Ankara has vehemently denied the charges.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/04/22/IS-virus-seeks-to-destroy-Muslim-world-Erdogan.html
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New ‘Green Brigade’ of Isis claims Yemen attack
April 23, 2015
A newly announced division of the Isis group calling itself the "Green Brigade" on Thursday claimed a bombing in Yemen that it said had killed five Shiite rebels.
In a message on Twitter, the group said it had struck a vehicle of the Huthi rebels in Yarim in the central province of Ibb on Wednesday.
Al-Qaeda has traditionally been the dominant jihadist group in Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition has carried out a month of air strikes against the Huthis and their allies.
Isis claimed its first attack in Yemen on March 20 – multiple suicide bombings targeting Huthis at Shiite mosques in Sanaa that killed 142 people and wounded more than 350.
Al-Qaeda and Isis, both Sunni extremist groups, consider Shiites to be heretics.
The Yarim attack is the first claimed by IS militants in Ibb province, where residents on Thursday also reported fresh bombing by the Saudi-led coalition.
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/world/article/new-green-brigade-of-isis-claims-yemen-attack
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Turkish PM says deportation is crime against humanity
April 23, 2015
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said he has already highlighted that deportation is a crime against humanity, less than a day earlier his former interior minister, Efkan Ala, said that what the Ottoman Empire did to the Armenians a century ago was not “genocide” but deportation.
“I am not comparing the pain [of the people],” Davutoğlu said during a televised interview on TV 24 late on April 21.
“I have made open-hearted remarks on the issue. I said deportation is a crime against humanity, wherever it is,” he said, adding that he expressed his views to the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, before a vote at parliament, which decided to recognize the killing of Armenians 100 years ago in Anatolia as a “genocide.” 
Schulz told Davutoğlu on April 17 that he “understands” Ankara’s reaction to the motion approved on April 15.
Full report at:
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-says-deportation-is-crime-against-humanity.aspx?pageID=238&nID=81445&NewsCatID=510
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Saudi-led coalition launches airstrikes on Houthis
23 April 2015
The Saudi-led coalition launched on Thursday airstrikes against Yemeni rebels and militias belonging to former President Ali Abdulllah Saleh for the second day after it announced the stopping of a previous campaign on Tuesday.
The airstrikes targeted the militias in Ibb city, around 200 kilometers south of the capital Sanaa.
Warplanes from the coalition also struck Houthi targets in villages north of Yemen’s southern city of Aden early on Thursday, residents in the area said.
Targets included tanks of the Iranian-allied Houthi movement, the residents told Reuters.
The coalition ended Operation Decisive Storm and heralded the start of Operation Restoring Hope, signaling a fresh space for diplomatic and political efforts to solve the crisis between warring parties in Yemen.
However, the coalition said it would continue some airstrikes to enforce an air and sea blockade to prevent weapons shipments reaching the Iranian-backed Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/04/23/Saudi-led-coalition-launches-airstrikes-on-Houthis-.html
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Arab World

At least 42 dead in rebel-IS clashes near Damascus: Monitor
April 23, 2015
At least 42 fighters were killed in 24 hours of fierce fighting between Islamist rebels and the Islamic State group in Syria's Damascus province, a monitoring group said Wednesday.
"At least 30 Islamist rebels and 12 fighters from IS were killed in fighting since Tuesday" in the hilly region of Qalamun, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Qalamun is divided into a western portion, which borders Lebanon and is mostly controlled by the regime and its ally, the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah.
The eastern sector has seen intense clashes between rebels and IS, and is strategic because it borders the "badiya," the Syrian steppe.
These plains are used by rebels to transport weapons from the Turkish border to the north and the Jordanian frontier in the south.
According to the Britain-based Observatory, IS has already cut off one of these routes and aims to take more to "suffocate" the rebels.
Meanwhile, at least 11 people were killed in regime bombardment of two towns in Damascus province.
Full report at:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/128395/World/Region/At-least--dead-in-rebelIS-clashes-near-Damascus-Mo.aspx
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Arab Top Brass to Set up Panel on Preparing Regional Force
April 23, 2015
Arab League military chiefs decided Wednesday to form a panel to examine all aspects of building a region-wide military force aimed at combating jihadists, including the Islamic State (IS) group.
The bloc agreed in March to set up the force, with members given four months to decide on its composition, precise rules of engagement and budget.
Top brass gathered at League headquarters in Cairo decided "to set up a high-ranking committee under the supervision of army chiefs to examine all aspects of this issue," said a statement at the end of their meeting.
"The panel will examine the mechanisms and budget needed to set up the joint Arab military force, and also the legal framework."
Full report at:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/128402/World/Region/Arab-top-brass-to-set-up-panel-on-preparing-region.aspx
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Syrian Army Continues Hunting Takfiri Terrorists in Lattakia Province
April 23, 2015
A military source said that the Syrian Army's advances against the foreign-backed terrorists in the costal province of Lattakia have been eye-catching, and added that scores of antigovernment fighters have been killed in army's recent operations.
The source said that scores of al-Nusra Front's terrorists in al-Zaitouna, Rwaisa and Rwaiset al-Ballata in the Northern countryside of the province were killed, wounded and arrested in the Syrian army's operations. 
The Terrorists' strongholds in the villages of Arafit, al-Rashwan and Kitf al-Ghanama were also targeted by the army men who pushed back the fighters and restored tranquility to the region.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are reportedly supporting the militants operating in Syria.
Full report at:
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940202001268
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10 Killed in Two Bomb Blasts in Iraq
April 23, 2015
Baghdad: At least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded in two bomb blasts in central Iraq on Wednesday, a police source said.
A suicide bomber blew himself up near a bus stop in the city of Samarra, about 120 km north of Baghdad, leaving at least eight people killed and 17 others wounded, according to a Xinhua report.
The source said that the victims were pilgrims at the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi.
Earlier, a booby-trapped car detonated near a restaurant in the Talbiyah district in eastern Baghdad, leaving two people dead and 18 wounded, the source added.
Iraq has been witnessing some of the worst violence in many years. Terrorism-related violence has killed 5,576 civilians and injured 11,666 in Iraq this year, according to a UN report.
The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group had taken control of large territories in the country and in June last year, had declared a “caliphate” in the areas it controls in Iraq and the neighbouring Syria under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/10-Killed-in-Two-Bomb-Blasts-in-Iraq/2015/04/23/article2778976.ece
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US, Israel and Saudi Arabia Declare ‘Victory’
April 23, 2015
Saudi Arabia’s declaration of ‘victory’ in the 27-day war on Yemen is ridiculous yet hardly surprising.
Their military objectives of “Operation Decisive Storm” haven’t been achieved. Their desperate attempt to rebrand the unprovoked war is ridiculous too. They failed to defeat the resistance movement of Ansarullah and/or reinstall their former authoritarian president Hadi. They just killed and wounded thousands of defenseless civilians while destroying Yemen’s critical civilian infrastructure.
For those keeping track, what happened to Yemen is exactly what happened to Gaza during last year’s Israeli war, known as “Operation Protective Edge”. Clearly those who branded that conflict are also the ones that came up with almost an identical name for the Saudi-led aggression. Which means the axis of evil - Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States – is one and the same. This unholy alliance is behind many other regional conflicts and ‘victories’ too, as the stated aims are all but the same: State demolition.
Full report at:
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940202001598
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Syrian Army Pushes Back Al-Nusra Terrorists from Villages, Towns in Al-Quneitra
April 23, 2015
Scores of al-Nusra Front fighters were killed and the rest of them were pushed back by the Syrian Army in the rural areas in the Southwestern province of al-Quneitra.
The strongholds of al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group of al-Nusra Front were stormed by the Syrian forces near the village of Um Batena in the Western countryside of the province, which resulted in the killing and wounding of dozens of the antigovernment fighters.
The same story happened for the al-Nusra Front' members in Mas-hara town in the province, and apart from killing and wounding scores of terrorists, the army arrested some others.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fuelled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 210,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.
Over 3.8 million Syrians have left their country since the beginning of the crisis. According to reports, more than seven million Syrians have become internally displaced.
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940202001122
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Rise of Jordan's Salafi Fighters Puts Country at Risk
April 23, 2015
Experts said that the Salafi movement is making considerable headway in Jordan, whose adherents are increasingly crossing the border with Syria to carry out jihad.
Rising numbers of Jordanian youth are joining Salafi movement are increasingly inclined to show support for the ISIL in Syria, with Jordanian authorities, like their European counterparts, worried about the threat posed by the Salafi fighters on their eventual return to Jordan, Sputnik reported.
At least 400 would-be Salafi fighters have been arrested by Jordanian authorities for trying to join radical organizations in Syria. Attempts by the Jordanian intelligence services to infiltrate radical groups have met with mixed success due to the ISIL's effective intelligence service, managed by Abu Ali al-Anbari, a former Iraqi Army Major General under Saddam Hussein.
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940202000933
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Saudi envoy: Yemen strikes show Arab resolve to act alone
April 23, 2015
LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen shows that the Kingdom will stand up to Iran and that Arab states can protect their interests without US leadership, the Saudi ambassador to Britain said.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf also said that the Saudi-led coalition that has waged four weeks of air strikes against Houthis in Yemen had met its goals and could be a model for future joint Arab action.
The coalition announced a halt to its aerial campaign on Tuesday, but said it would continue to act as needed against Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and have been fighting to take over the southern port of Aden.
The Kingdom says it launched the air strikes because its regional rival Iran had been training, arming and financing the Houthis, extending Tehran’s influence in the Arab world to Saudi Arabia’s southern border.
Full report at:
http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/736251
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Pakistan

20 militants killed in air strikes in northwest Pakistan
April 23, 2015
At least 20 militants, including three suicide bombers, were killed on Thursday in a series of air strikes by Pakistani jets in the troubled Khyber Agency.
Army said that “20 terrorists including three suicide bombers were killed” in precise aerial strikes in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency.
The jets struck hideouts of terrorists and destroyed their ammunition and ration dumps. The strikes were conducted as part of the ongoing military operation in the tribal area.
The losses suffered by militants may increase as the details of attack are still coming.
The strikes came a day after army said that jet strikes killed 22 militants in North Waziristan district.
http://indianexpress.com/article/world/asia/20-militants-killed-in-air-strikes-in-northwest-pakistan/
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Pakistan leaders in Saudi Arabia to press Yemen negotiations
April 23, 2015
Pakistan’s top leaders are in Saudi Arabia to push for negotiations in the Yemen conflict.
In Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesman Tasnim Aslam says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif will meet King Salman on Thursday to discuss the crisis.
Pakistan welcomed the kingdom’s decision to halt the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels.
But hours after Saudi Arabia declared an end to its nearly monthlong air campaign in Yemen, new airstrikes hit the Iran-backed rebels and their allies on Wednesday - suggesting the U.S.-backed offensive will be scaled back but not halted completely.
Both predominantly Sunni majority countries, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are close allies.
Pakistan supported the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes but declined to send troops, warplanes and warships to join the coalition.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2015/04/22/Pakistan-s-Sharif-heads-to-Saudi-to-discuss-Yemen-war.html
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Two prisoners hanged in Sahiwal, Sargodha
April 23, 2015
SAHIWAL/SARGODHA: Two death row convicts were sent to the gallows in Sahiwal and Sargodha on Thursday morning.
Convict Muhammad Hanif, belonging to Okara District, was hanged in Sahiwal Central Jail for the murder of Assistant Sub-Inspector Ehsanullah during a police combat in 2006. Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) 4 sentenced Hanif to death in 2007. The convict's appeals in the Lahore High Court (LHC) and Supreme Court were dismissed in 2009. His appeal to the president of Pakistan this year was also dismissed and Hanif was hanged today.
In Sargodha District Jail, convict Gul Muhammad was sent to the gallows for murdering his brother-in-law Shahbaz in Khushab District in 1999 over personal disputes. the convict was sentenced to death in 2000 by Additional Sessions Judge Manzoor Hussain in Khushab.
Pakistan lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases on March 10.
Initially executions were resumed for terrorism offences only in the wake of a Taliban massacre at an army-run school in Peshawar which had claimed the lives of more than 150 persons, mostly schoolchildren, on December 16, 2014.
The United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to re-impose its moratorium on the death penalty.
http://www.dawn.com/news/1177733/two-prisoners-hanged-in-sahiwal-sargodha
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Nearly 100 death row convicts executed since December
April 23, 2015
LAHORE: Pakistan has hanged 19 prisoners in the past two days, officials said Wednesday, bringing the total number put to death since executions resumed in December to nearly 100.
A total of 15 went to the gallows on Tuesday, the most in a single day since executions restarted in the wake of a Taliban massacre at a school, and a further four on Thursday, officials said,
One execution took place in the southwestern province of Baluchistan and the rest in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.
Punjab prisons chief Farooq Nazir said he did not have details of individual cases and charges, but most of the 18 executed in the province had been convicted of murder and had been on death row for between eight and 10 years.
Full report at:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/874021/nearly-100-death-row-convicts-executed-since-december/
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Mechanism devised for early implementation of Chinese MoUs: FO
April 23, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam during a weekly briefing on Thursday, said that a mechanism has been devised for early implementation of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements signed by China and Pakistan during the Chinese president's visit to Pakistan.
"PM Nawaz chaired a meeting soon after the Chinese president's visit, and it was decided that there would be regular monitoring of these projects," she said.
In response to a question, Aslam said that other countries in the region should also realise that early completion of the Pak-China Economic Corridor (PCEC) would be in their interest as well.
Full report at:
http://www.dawn.com/news/1177736/mechanism-devised-for-early-implementation-of-chinese-mous-fo
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Education for all: For Pakistan, still a long road ahead
April 23, 2015
ISLAMABAD: A review of the six ‘Education For All’ goals from 2000 to 2015 has been disappointing on many ends and encouraging on a few notes, with Pakistan only being able to reduce the gender gap.
According to the EFA Development Index, Pakistan ranks 106 out of 113 countries only above Eritrea, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. Similarly, despite Pakistan’s annual economic growth being 4.1 per cent, growth in expenditure on education is less than 2.5 per cent.
The staggering figures released on Wednesday in Islamabad in a Global Monitoring Report 2015 by Unesco suggested that Pakistan has moved slightly ahead particularly in the early years after the goals were set — there were 68 girls enrolled for 100 boys then but by 2007 the girls’ figure reached 83, and then 87 by 2012.
“There is a need to focus on what needs to be done urgently to make sure we reach the goals as fast as possible,” Unesco Country Head Vibeke Jensen said while shared the report findings.
Full report at:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/874440/education-for-all-for-pakistan-still-a-long-road-ahead/
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Security Advisor to PM Urges for Right to Self Determination for Kashmiris, Palestinians
April 23, 2015
ISLAMABAD – Adviser on National and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has called for fulfilment of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir and Palestine.
Addressing the Asian-African Summit 2015 in Jakarta today, he said that it was tragic and unacceptable that people of Palestine and Kashmir were still awaiting the fulfilment of their inalienable right to self-determination. The adviser recalled that a major focus of the 1955 Bandung Conference was respect for fundamental human rights, including the right to self-determination.
The Asian-African Summit 2015 is being held in Jakarta in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference held in Bandung in 1955. Pakistan was one of the co-sponsors of the 1955 conference. The Adviser emphasized the need for Asian and African countries to strengthen cooperation and collective efforts to overcome the continuing challenges of peace and development.
Full report at:
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/23-Apr-2015/sartaj-urges-for-right-to-self-determination-for-kashmiris-palestinians
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South Asia

Three soldiers martyred, 19 militants killed in military operations
April 23, 2015
Three soldiers embraced martyrdom and 19 militants were killed in separate military operations across the country in past 24 hours, General Zahir Azimi spokesman for the Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday morning.
General Zahir Azimi in a statement says that three soldiers embraced martyrdom due to a blast and enemy fire.
He has not written the exact location of the enemy actions in the statement issued.
General Azimi further says that 19 militants were killed during separate military operations in two provinces in past 24 hours.
According to General Azimi’s statement 16 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were also discovered and defused by the military in past 24 hours.
According to a UN report published recently IEDs are the second biggest cause of increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
Seven civilians including four children lost their lives when their Rickshaw vehicle ran over a landmine in Khashroad District of southwestern Nimroz province yesterday.
http://www.khaama.com/three-soldiers-martyred-19-militants-killed-in-military-operations-3213
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President Ghani to terrorists: If you have courage “Face our soldiers, not kids”
April 23, 2015
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Thursday morning arrived in Jalalabad to condole with the families of the victims of recent Jalalabad which left 37 people killed and more than 130 others wounded.
He said that the terrorist attacks cannot weaken our morals and we won’t bow down in front of terrorism.
President Ghani in his speech sent a direct message to terrorists to come and fight with Afghan soldiers on the ground than harming civilians in attacks.
He said “If you have courage, face our soldiers, not kids”.
Several kids were among the victims of the suicide attack in Jalalabad city on Saturday.
A mother even hasn’t yet found the body of her son who was selling yogurt at the explosion site.
Full report at:
http://www.khaama.com/president-ghani-to-terrorists-if-you-have-courage-face-our-soldiers-not-kids-3208
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Roadside bomb kills eight civilians in Afghanistan
April 23, 2015
A roadside bomb killed eight members of an Afghan family, including children, just hours after the Taliban claimed their upcoming spring offensive would "safeguard" civilian lives, officials said Thursday.
The blast ripped through the family's vehicle in Khash Rod district of southwestern Nimroz province late Wednesday as they were travelling home.
"The roadside bomb hit a vehicle carrying a family, killing two men, one woman and four children," Ahmad Arab, spokesman for the provincial authorities, told AFP.
"Another family member who was wounded and taken to the hospital died later."
Amir Mohammad Akhundzada, the governor of the province, blamed the Taliban for the incident.
Full report at:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/128430/World/International/Roadside-bomb-kills-eight-civilians-in-Afghanistan.aspx
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Verdict in Mahidur-Afsar’s war crimes case any day
April 23, 2015
The International Crimes Tribunal 1 yesterday concluded arguments in the case against Muslim League leaders Mahidur Rahman and Afsar Hossain alias Chhutu of Chapainawabganj.
The tribunal led by its Chairman Justice Obaidul Hassan kept the case for verdict, after recording the closing arguments placed by both the prosecution and the defence lawyers.
The prosecution claimed that they had been able to prove two out of the three charges pressed against the duo, while the defence denied that claim.
The accused, who were arrested on September 16 last year in a criminal case, were later shown in the war crimes case. The charges brought against the duo include mass killing, arson, looting, abduction, torture, confinement, and murder committed in the district in 1971.
http://www.dhakatribune.com/law-rights/2015/apr/23/verdict-mahidur-afsars-war-crimes-case-any-day#sthash.g4MmRa17.dpuf
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India

'26/11 Accused Have Set Up Karachi-Style Control Room in Jail'
PTI | Apr 23, 2015
NEW YORK: Pakistan-based terror group LeT's technology chief Zarrar Shah and his fellow militants continue to direct terrorist activity from behind bars under ISI's watch, setting up in jail a control room like the one in Karachi to oversee the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, a report said.
A report in Frontline titled 'The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns behind the Mumbai Attacks' says six years after the 26/11 attacks that brought Mumbai and India to a standstill, the masterminds are still "at large in Pakistan protected by the ISI, an intelligence service that is nominally a US ally."
"Even the defendants behind bars are still a threat. Shah, Lashkar's technology and communications chief, and his fellow militants continue to direct terrorist activity from the prison," the report quoted current and former Western and Indian counter terror officials as saying.
Full report at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/26/11-accused-have-set-up-Karachi-style-control-room-in-jail/articleshow/47021818.cms
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For peace in Mid-East, India urges political settlement, action on terror
April 23, 2015
New York: To bring peace to the Middle East, India has called for political dialogue to find solutions to the hostilities wracking the region while urging strong action against extremist groups whose deadly violence "strikes at our common humanity."
In a Security Council debate Tuesday on the Middle East, Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji touched on the Palestine, Yemeni and Syrian crises, saying: "India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option" to solve the problems.
During the current conflict in Yemen that has pitched the Houthi rebels against the government of exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Mukerji said India has evacuated till last week 1,947 people from 48 countries, besides 4,741 Indians. The rescue effort was guided by the spirit of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakkam," meaning "World is one family," and helped citizens of four of the five permanent of the Security Council, he said.
Full report at:
http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/for-peace-in-mid-east-india-urges-political-settlement-action-on-terror_1582891.html
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Pakistani Hindus Can Apply For Long-Term Indian Visa Online
April 23, 2015
NEW DELHI: In yet another relief to Pakistani citizens belonging to the minority community, the government of India has enabled them to apply online for their long-term visa (LTV) and track the status of their application. The online system, which will also cover processing of the LTV visa application by various agencies, replaces the manual system of accepting such applications.
The online application system will help Pakistani nationals belonging to minority community, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, who seek refuge in India for fear of religious persecution back home. These minority nationals come to India with the intention to settle permanently. The government, sympathetic to their cause, has been taking steps to streamline the procedures to facilitate their stay in India.
While the manual system of submission of LTV application by eligible Pakistani citizens will continue along with the online system for a period of three months, with effect from August 1, 2015, all applications for LTV will be received and processed only in online mode.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistani-Hindus-can-apply-for-long-term-Indian-visa-online/articleshow/47019017.cms
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Tipu Sultan's Arms Collection Sold For Over 6 Million Pounds in London
PTI | Apr 23, 2015
NEW DELHI: A collection of arms and armour once owned by Tipu Sultan was sold for a total of over 6 million pounds in a London auction by Bonhams.
The 30 items in the 'Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art Sale' held on April 21 come from a single collection.
The top lot was a rare gem-set sword with tiger's head pommel from Tipu Sultan's royal regalia went under the hammer for 2,154,500 pounds. It was estimated at to fetch between 60,000 pounds to 80,000 pounds.
Tipu Sultan, the last king of Mysore adorned both objects of art and instruments of war with images of the tiger and with the tiger-stripe design, earning the nickname of "Tiger of Mysore".
Full report at:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Tipu-Sultans-arms-collection-sold-for-over-6-million-pounds/articleshow/47025424.cms
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India-Pakistan martime boundary may be a major drug transit route
TNN | Apr 23, 2015
NEW DELHI: Several similarities exist between the seizure of over Rs 600 crore worth of heroin from Pakistani smugglers on Monday and the controversial sinking of a suspected Pakistani terror boat in January. All of it point towards possibility of the 'disputed' maritime boundary between India and Pakistan being a major drug transit route, according to several evidences and some officials.
Sources said evidence surrounding the seizure of drugs from a boat operated by eight Pakistani crew members on Monday showed that the consignment was to be delivered on Arabian Sea. The Coast Guard has not apprehended the possible recipients, who could have thrown more light on the drug racket.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-Pakistan-martime-boundary-may-be-a-major-drug-transit-route/articleshow/47021901.cms
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Beef ban: Bombay HC reserves its order in petitions challenging law
Shibu Thomas,TNN | Apr 23, 2015
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday reserved its orders on the plea for an interim stay on provisions of the beef ban law that make its possession and in turn consumption a crime. A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M S Sonak said that they would pass deliver the order on April 27 or 28, 2015.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the legal validity of provisions of Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act that bans the slaughter of bulls and bullocks along with cows. Th petitioners that include a senior advocate Haresh Jagtiani, Jogeshwari resident Arif Kapadia and a Hindu-Muslim-Christian coalition of 29 Mumbaikars - have sought an interim stay on section 5 D of the MAPA Act. This provision makes it a criminal and cognisable offence to possess beef, even if the animal is slaughtered outside Maharashtra where it is legally permissible. Senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, advocates Mihir Desai, E P Bharucha and Pratap Nimbalkar, who represented the various petitioners argued that the law is a violation of the fundamental right to life and personal liberty, which includes the right to eat food of ones choice.
Maharashtra advocate general Sunil Manohar, defended the law and said that 5 D was essential to implement the law properly and prevent illegal slaughter of cow and its progeny. The state also contended that it was a reasonable restriction and the state could bring in a law to regulate a fundamental right.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Beef-ban-Bombay-HC-reserves-its-order-in-petitions-challenging-law/articleshow/47026294.cms
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Hardline Separatist Masrat Alam Booked Under Public Safety Act
April 23, 2015
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday booked hardline separatist Masrat Alam under the Public safety Act (PSA) and shifted him to a jail outside the Valley.
"Yes, PSA warrants were issued against Masrat Alam yesterday (Wednesday) and the warrants were executed today (Thursday). He is being shifted for detention to a jail outside the Valley," a senior police officer told IANS in summer capital Srinagar.
Masrat Alam was released on March 7 by the PDP-BJP coalition government, triggering a huge controversy over the separatist's release who had been arrested during the 2010 summer unrest in the Valley.
The Mufti Muhammad Sayeed led coalition government had said that Alam's period of detention under the PSA had already expired and there had been no fresh grounds for his detention.
Full report at:
http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Hardline-Separatist-Masrat-Alam-Booked-Under-Public-Safety-Act/2015/04/23/article2779088.ece
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Europe

IS group is 'Russia's greatest enemy', not US: Lavrov
April 23, 2015
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the Islamic State group was Moscow's greatest enemy, notwithstanding the strained relations with the United States over the Ukraine conflict.
"I believe IS is our greatest enemy right now," Lavrov said in an interview with Russian radio stations when asked whether he considers China, IS or NATO Russia's greatest threat.
Lavrov said "hundreds of Russian citizens, hundreds of Europeans, hundreds of Americans are fighting for IS, along with CIS (former Soviet) countries."
"They are already returning home. They come here to rest after fighting and can get up to dirty tricks at home," he said.
"As far as (relations with the) United States are concerned, these are state issues, these are issues of the world order, which have to be resolved through talks."
Russia's relations with the West, particularly with the United States, have plummeted to a post-Cold War low over the war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed over Moscow's role in supporting pro-Russian militants.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/128368/World/Region/IS-group-is-Russias-greatest-enemy,-not-US-Lavrov.aspx
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India must intervene in Maldives: Amnesty
April 23, 2015
Amnesty claims human rights situation in the Maldives is deteriorating alarmingly.
Citing instances of human rights violations in Maldives and the clamp down on peaceful protests, Amnesty International wants India as a large, thriving democracy with a prominent role to play in the region to intervene.
Armed with the report of a fact finding mission that was carried out in the island nation between April 17 and 22 April, Amnesty claims human rights situation in the Maldives is deteriorating alarmingly and has accused the authorities of “muzzling peaceful protesters, silencing critical media and civil society, while abusing the judicial system to imprison opposition politicians”.
Amnesty said the civil society in Maldives too is looking at the world community, especially India to engage with the Maldivian authorities to improve and protect human rights.
Speaking to media here on Thursday, Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives researcher said while the principles of a fair trial were not followed in the case of former President Mohammed Nasheed, former defence minister Mohammed Nazim and MP Ahmed Nazim, as many as 140 “peaceful protesters” who were arrested since February, have been released on conditions that severely limited their rights to take part in further demonstrations.
Full report at:
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-must-intervene-in-maldives-amnesty/article7134294.ece
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Taking Jihad to School – French Programs Emphasize Secularism
April 23, 2015
On a street in Paris’s popular 6th Arrondissement, men in camouflage wielding Famas assault rifles patiently stand guard throughout the day. It is an unexpected sight amidst the chic designer boutiques and crowded restaurants, but one a hotel attendant nearby explains with a knowing glance: the building they guard houses an organization for Jews.
This is life now in Paris after the terrorist attacks that took 17 lives in January – including four Jews, massacred at the kosher Hyper Cacher market in the hours before the Sabbath.
And it isn’t only here: in the Marais, long known for its Jewish population, a heavily-armed military presence has become commonplace, as France’s government struggles to protect its Jews – and the rest of its population – from the murderous violence of Islamic terrorism in its streets.
Full report at:
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/04/22/taking-jihad-to-school-french-programs-emphasize-secularism/
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EU summit to consider military action over migrant crisis
April 23, 2015
EU leaders gathering in Brussels on Thursday will consider launching a military operation against human traffickers in Libya, in a bold effort to halt the deadly flow of refugees trying to reach Europe by sea.
As survivors laid bare the full horror of last weekend's catastrophic shipwreck near Libya, a draft statement for the summit seen by AFP committed leaders to "undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers".
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini "is invited to immediately begin preparations for a possible security and defence policy operation to this effect, in accordance with international law," the draft added.
A diplomatic source said EU members were preparing to approve the statement, reflecting the union's readiness to take more decisive action against smugglers, who pack rickety boats to overflowing with people fleeing conflict and misery in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
European leaders have been accused of callous disregard for the lives of migrants after 800 were feared to have died in Sunday's boat sinking, the worst disaster of its kind in the Mediterranean.
Full report at:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/128429/World/International/EU-summit-to-consider-military-action-over-migrant.aspx
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Iran, world powers seek to finalise nuclear deal
April 23, 2015
Iran and major powers held a second day of talks April 23 seeking to finalise a historic deal that would make any attempt by Tehran to make a nuclear weapon extremely difficult and easily detectable
Meeting in Vienna, Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany want to turn a framework accord reached in Switzerland on April 2 into a full agreement by June 30.
Iran, which denies wanting the atomic bomb, is set to scale down its nuclear programme for 10 to 15 years or more, depending on the area of activity, and allow closer UN inspections.
The exact details of how this will work in practice, and in particular the scale and timeframe under which the powers will lift painful sanctions, still need to be nailed down, and experts warn it will be a difficult process.
Full report at:
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/iran-world-powers-seek-to-finalise-nuclear-deal-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=81452&NewsCatID=359
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PM says five terror attacks 'foiled' in France
April 23, 2015
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls revealed April 23 that five terror attacks had been "foiled" in France in recent months.
He told radio station France Inter that "numerous attacks had already been foiled -- five if you take into account the attack which happily did not take place at Villejuif" on the outskirts of Paris
A 24-year-old Franco-Algerian IT student is being held by police investigating an alleged plot to attack a church near the French capital.
His plans were exposed after he accidentally shot himself and police uncovered a stash of weapons and detailed plans to attack the church.
Full report at:
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/pm-says-five-terror-attacks-foiled-in-france-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=81453&NewsCatID=351
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Africa

South African President Calls for Efforts to Fight Xenophobia
April 23, 2015
Pretoria: South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday urged all sectors of the society, including business, religious and civic organisations, to work towards eradicating xenophobia in the country.
"So the issue we're dealing with today, was what is it that we are all going to do as a country, as citizens, as different sectors, to ensure that it will never happen again," Zuma said after a meeting here on how various sectors can work with the government to promote orderly migration and good relations between citizens and foreign nationals, according to a Xinhua report.
He added, "We have immigration laws that are unique in a sense because the way we handle refugees is not by creating camps, but by integrating them into society."
Zuma said that the government had in the past ruled out the possibility of setting up refugee camps.
Full report at:
http://www.newindianexpress.com/top_news/South-African-President-Calls-for-Efforts-to-Fight-Xenophobia/2015/04/23/article2778975.ece
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Algeria army kills three armed Islamists
April 23, 2015
Algerian troops killed three armed Islamists and recovered weapons and ammunition west of Algiers on Wednesday, the defence ministry said.
The three were killed at around 1:00 am (0200 GMT) in an ambush close to the town of Hamman Righa, around 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the capital, said a statement on the ministry website.
The operation seized three automatic rifles, ammunition and several hand grenades, as well as binoculars and mobile phones, it added.
Violence involving Islamists in Algeria has fallen considerably since the civil war of the 1990s, but groups linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb still carry out some attacks, mostly on security forces.
The army says more than 100 armed Islamists were killed in 2014.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/128385/World/Region/Algeria-army-kills-three-armed-Islamists.aspx
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Libyan journalist shot dead in Benghazi
23 April 2015
A Libyan television journalist involved in coverage of fighting between Islamist militias and pro-government forces in the second city of Benghazi has been assassinated, officials and witnesses said Thursday.
Muftah al-Qatrani, director of the private production company Al-Anwar, was killed by a gunshot to the head on Wednesday, an interior ministry official told AFP.
“Friends who visited his office found him dead on a chair, covered in blood,” the official said, adding that an inquiry had been launched into the killing.
A witness, who declined to be named, said the producer’s office was in the center of Benghazi.
“No neighbors or surrounding businesses had any idea what had happened and no weapon was found near the body,” the witness said.
Libya’s descent into chaos since its 2011 uprising has seen the formation of rival parliaments and governments, and allowed the Islamic State extremist group to gain a foothold in the oil-rich North African state.
Militias have battled forces in Benghazi loyal to Libyan army chief Khalifa Haftar, who launched an assault last May aimed at recapturing the eastern city from Islamists.
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/media/television-and-radio/2015/04/23/Libyan-journalist-shot-dead-in-Benghazi-.html
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Nigerian forces invade last known stronghold of Boko Haram
April 23, 2015
Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded Islamist group Boko Haram's last known stronghold, the Sambisa forest, on Wednesday, in an effort to finally defeat their six-year-old insurgency, two military sources said.
Armies from Nigeria and neighbors Chad, Niger and Cameroon have in the past two months launched a concerted push to try to crush the insurgents, who have killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds in their battle to establish an Islamic state.
The Sambisa forest in northeast Nigeria is about 100 km (60 miles) from the village of Chibok from where Boko Haram abducted more than 200 secondary school girls a year ago. Intelligence officials had believed that this was where they were being held, although U.S. reconnaissance drones failed to find them.
A spokesman for the military was not immediately available for comment.
An official in the Chadian army said allied Chadian and Cameroonian troops were ready to attack Sambisa, which lies on the Cameroon border, from the other side and would move in soon.
Full report at:
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/africa/2015/04/22/Nigerian-forces-invade-last-known-stronghold-of-Boko-Haram.html
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North America

Play positive role, US tells Iran
April 23, 2015
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama called on Iran to help find a political solution in Yemen, accusing the Islamic republic of contributing to the conflict there.
In an interview with MSNBC, Obama expressed hope “that we can settle down the situation in Yemen.”
“What we need to do is bring all the parties together and find a political arrangement. It is not solved by having another proxy war in Yemen,” he said. “We've indicated to the Iranians that they need to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem,” he said.
The US has sent an aircraft carrier to monitor the movements of Iranian ships. “Right now their ships are in international waters,” Obama said.
“There's a reason why we keep some of our ships in the Gulf region and that is to make sure we maintain freedom of navigation,” he said.
“And what we've said to them is if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that's a problem.”
Meanwhile, Houthi militias took over a military brigade in the central Yemeni city of Taiz early on Wednesday, triggering the Saudi-led coalition to carry out an airstrike shortly after the takeover. The headquarters of the 35th Armored Brigade on the Taiz’s northern outskirts fell after heavy fighting which left “dozens dead and wounded,” an officer said from inside the captured base.
The brigade had resisted a nearly weeklong siege by the Houthis and their allies.
http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/736561
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U.S. teen ‘seduced’ by ISIS ideology, convicted on gun charge
23 April 2015
A 16-year-old American accused of planning to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm in South Carolina, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
The teenager, who has not been identified because he is a minor, conspired with another person to travel to the Middle East with the intention of joining ISIS and “perhaps cause trouble in the United States,” prosecutor Kevin Brackett alleged.
Because South Carolina does not have anti-terrorism laws, the youth was convicted on Tuesday of illegal possession of a handgun, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison, Brackett said.
“He was seduced by the ideology of ISIS,” the prosecutor told AFP.
“I don’t know specifically that ISIS reached out to him personally. But he was in contact with people in North Carolina who shared his views and he had embraced this sort of radical Islamic ideology and he wanted to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS and join that cause,” he said.
Full report at:
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/04/23/US-TEEN-SEDUCED-BY-IS-IDEOLOGY-CONVICTED-ON-GUN-CHARGE-.html
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New Pentagon Strategy Warns of Cyberwar Capabilities
April 23, 2015
REDWOOD CITY, California: A new Pentagon cybersecurity strategy lays out for the first time publicly that the U.S. military plans to use cyberwarfare as an option in conflicts with enemies.
The 33-page strategy says the Defense Department "should be able to use cyber operations to disrupt an adversary's command and control networks, military-related critical infrastructure and weapons capabilities."
The cybersecurity strategy is the second done by the Pentagon and is slated for release Thursday, but it was obtained early by The Associated Press. The previous strategy, which was publicly released in 2011, made little reference to the Pentagon's offensive cyber capabilities, although U.S. officials have spoken quietly about the issue.
The new document takes a more open approach in part because officials said the Pentagon wants more transparency in its cyber mission — and because it could provide some deterrence to adversaries.
Full report at:
http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/New-Pentagon-Strategy-Warns-of-Cyberwar-Capabilities/2015/04/23/article2778966.ece
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Carter concerned Iran ships may carry arms for Yemen rebels
April 23, 2015
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said April 22he is concerned that Iranian ships heading toward Yemen may be carrying advanced weapons for the Houthi rebels, and moving a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region gives the president options.
Making his first public remarks on the Iranian cargo ships, Carter told reporters traveling with him that he is not prepared to say whether the U.S. would be willing to forcibly stop and board one of the Iranian ships if it tries to cross into Yemen.
"We have options," he said when asked about the boardings. "We're not at that point. We're at the point of trying to get the parties back to the table."
Still, he said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that "obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us."
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is moving into the waters off Yemen, joining eight other U.S. warships, including some carrying teams capable of boarding and searching other vessels. The move comes amid reports that nine Iranian ships are heading that way, possibly carrying arms for the Shiite Houthi rebels. Such shipments would be in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Full report at:
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/carter-concerned-iran-ships-may-carry-arms-for-yemen-rebels.aspx?pageID=238&nID=81455&NewsCatID=359
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In jail memoir, Headley recalls 26/11, LeT training, polygamy
April 23, 2015
Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley, serving 35 years in jail for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has written a memoir in prison detailing how Lashkar’s “dedication” to the cause of “liberation of Kashmir” inspired him to join the terror group.
American public affairs TV programme Frontline was given access to a draft of the memoir Headley, 54, wrote in jail. Excerpts from the draft offer a window into Headley’s move towards extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and his preparations for the attack on the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants. “On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with LeT, quite by accident. I attended their annual convention… I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation,” Headley writes.
Full report at:
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/in-jail-memoir-headley-recalls-2611-let-training-polygamy/99/
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Southeast Asia

Indonesia and Iran Call for Terror Cooperation
April 23, 2015
Jakarta. President Joko Widodo and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a joint condemnation of terrorism at the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta on Thursday.
“Violent acts committed by terrorist groups in the name of religion must be eradicated through close cooperation between countries,” Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said on Thursday.
Joko and Rouhani said both countries should work toward eradicating radicalization.
Rouhani said the rule of law and non-discrimination should be at the front of the battle against terror, together with anti-radicalization programs and government intelligence efforts.
http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/indonesia-iran-call-terror-cooperation/
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Asking government to change leader not seditious, says Dr M
April 23, 2015
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said Putrajaya's use of the Sedition Act to maintain Barisan Nasional's hold on power was not a good move, following criticism over recent amendments to the colonial-era law that made it more draconian.
The former prime minister said the act should not be used against those who were critical of the government, and even those who called for a change of government.
"If the law is used for you to stay in power, then I think it's bad.
"But unfortunately, the Sedition Act is used for the wrong purpose. The Sedition Act is to prevent people from incidents of hatred such as civil war, and to overthrow the government.
"But if you say the government is not doing well and should change the leader, that is not seditious," Dr Mahathir during a question and answer session at the Malaysia Social Media Week event in Kuala Lumpur today.
Full report at:
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/asking-government-to-change-leader-not-seditious-says-dr-m#sthash.d4RIKaix.dpuf
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