G25: ‘We’re Not Seeking to Reform Islam’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: A breakaway Muslim rebel group killed nine civilians in the southern Philippines in a series of attacks on Christmas eve, officials said on Saturday, in a reminder that the region remains volatile despite recent gains in the peace process.

 

Southeast Asia

G25: ‘We’re Not Seeking to Reform Islam’

Breakaway Muslim Rebels Kill Nine People in Southern Philippines

Christmas As Usual In Brunei despite Ban, Report Says

E-cigs declared ‘Haram’ for Muslims in Malaysia

Protesters ransack Muslim prayer hall on Corsica

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Arab World

Iraqi Forces Kill 54 Daesh Militants in Anbar

Scores of ISIL Terrorists Killed In Maheen

Iraqi forces in fierce battles with IS in Ramadi

ISIS Releases 25 Assyrian Christians in Syria

Syrian rebel leader killed in air strike in Damascus suburb

Nusra Terrorists Hit Hard in Syrian Air Raids

ISIL Retreating Forces From Around Maheen

Syrian Forces Hit ISIL Strongholds Heavily in Homs Province

Deadly raid hits leadership of key Syrian rebel group

Anglican leader warns of Christian ‘elimination’ in Middle East

Bahraini protesters stage fresh anti-government rallies

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Europe

French Extremists Ransack Muslim Prayer Hall, Burn Copies of Qur’an on Corsica

French Muslims Show Solidarity with Christians

Prevent programme ‘lacking referrals from Muslim community’

Muslim store owner spreads Christmas cheer by giving out toys to children

Corsica Muslim prayer hall damaged as violence continues

Pope slams destruction of cultural heritage

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Mideast

Iran blames U.S., Israel for displacement of Muslims

Western Diplomatic Sources: Saudi Leaders Split over Yemen War

Erdogan Warns Against Mideast Sectarian Divisions

Israeli state terrorism source of global chaos: Iran

ISIL ideology has nothing to do with Islam: Larijani

‘Terrorist list in Syria should be prepared without discrimination’

Rafsanjani sees unity week bolster Shia-Sunni solidarity

Russia says its strikes reduce oil smuggling to Turkey

Iran urges lasting ceasefire, end of blockade in Yemen

‘Stop fighters coming from Turkey, Jordan’

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India

Separatists Welcome PM Modi’s Surprise Visit To Lahore

Three Students, Allegedly Planning To Join ISIS, Detained At Nagpur Airport

Three Kerala youths tortured in Saudi Arabia back after harrowing experience

ISIS flags in Kashmir ‘more adventure and mischief than inspiration’

US-based AFMI to felicitate 105 meritorious Muslim students

To reciprocate Afghan gesture, PM should allow construction of Babri mosque: Azam

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South Asia

Suspected Suicide Bomber Attacks Bangladesh Mosque

18 Wounded As Bomb Blast Hits Afghan Mosque

1 killed, 10 injured in suicide bombing at Ahmadiyya place of worship in Bangladesh

Bomb blast kills community elder in Nangarhar

Bangladesh Christians celebrate Christmas, Muslims marks Eid-e-Miladunnabi in tight security

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North America

Relatives of ‘Disneyland Family’ Attended Same ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ Mosque as San Bernardino Terrorists

Democrats Find an Unlikely Ally on Muslims: George W Bush

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Pakistan

Two Militants Killed, Five Injured In Kurram Check Post Attack

COAS to Visit Kabul on Dec 27 To Discuss Taliban Talks

Islamabad’s largest Christian slum praying for survival on Christmas eve

Strong earthquake jolts Pakistan, Afghanistan

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Africa

Fears of New Islamist Threat Emerge In Nigeria

Cameroon Christmas Unites Christians, Muslims

South Sudan president issues decree creating 28 new states

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:

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Southeast Asia

 

G25: ‘We’re Not Seeking to Reform Islam’

BY BOO SU-LYN

December 26, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — G25, which has been accused of being deviant over its criticism of Khalwat laws, says it is not aiming to “reform Islam”, but only to review Shariah legislation that is unconstitutional and which violate Islamic legal principles.

Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, a former Sessions Court judge who represents the group of Malay retired senior civil servants, points out that fatwa (religious edicts), for example, are gazetted into binding rules in Malaysia, even though they are merely a voluntary and optional concept in Islam.

In an exclusive interview with Malay Mail Online here, Noor Farida talks about the support of the royalty for G25’s efforts in setting up a consultative committee to review unconstitutional laws on Shariah criminal offences, her fears for Malaysia amid extremism, and how she is weathering the storm of attacks.

  1. What do people say to you in their attacks?

“Mampus lah; murtad; you’re almost six feet underground, should not be making noise; repent” — I would advise them the same.

In Islam, although they want to call us ‘Murtad’, only God, that is ‘urusan Allah’; only God can do that. Unless a person himself renounces Islam, nobody else can call you an apostate.

It’s really shown me the ugly face of Muslims in the country. I am just shocked.

In my naivete, I never thought a simple call for reform of a law, which is a man-made law, which exists in no other Muslim country because they respect the Quranic injunction to respect people’s privacy and not to expose concealed wrongdoing…We’re the only country.

And my God, the storm it’s created, the abuses we’ve been subjected to, the filthy language used, the false allegations, it’s just — my God — mind-boggling.

If I’m not a strong woman, I would have collapsed under all this weight. But as I said, God is my protector because we believe in what we’re doing. We’re trying to create a better Malaysia.

We’re trying to salvage the image of our religion as good Muslims, which is being hijacked, tarnished by all these people claiming to be the champions of Islam.

  1. Do you think the government should endorse your call to reform unconstitutional Shariah laws?

Yes, to make sure that those which trespass on the Constitution, the criminal laws which trespass on the Constitution, that they be realigned, that they should be harmonised with the Constitution. We’re calling for harmonisation of Shariah with the Federal Constitution.

  1. What Shariah laws should be reviewed?

Provisions in Shariah Criminal Offences laws which overlap federal criminal offences, example, Section 7, 8, 18, 25, 26, 30, 32, 43, 46 of the Penang Shariah Crimes Enactment 1996, on matters such as insulting or bringing into contempt the religion of Islam, indecency, gambling, ‘liwat’ (sodomy) and ‘musahaqah’ (lesbian sex), giving false evidence, defiling a mosque, and abetment may well overlap similar provisions in the Penal Code and Gaming Tax Act.

Laws that trespass into federal jurisdiction: The Shariah Criminal Offence (Hudud and Qisas) Terengganu Enactment 2002, and the Shariah Criminal Code (II) Enactment 1993 of Kelantan seek to punish crimes of theft, robbery, carnal intercourse against the order of nature, homicide, causing death, injury, pain, harm, disease or injury. All the above are federal offences and therefore outside the powers of the State to legislate.

The right to restrict fundamental liberties is specifically prescribed under the Federal Constitution: Several provisions in the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act restrict citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression, example Sections 9 and 12, which have the effect of imposing a blanket ban on freedom of speech, is unconstitutional as the provisions make no reference to any of the eight grounds provided under Article 10(2)(a) [of the] Federal Constitution on which restrictions to freedom of speech may be imposed.

  1. Does Islam permit various interpretations?

In Islamic history, differing opinions have always been accepted. That is why in Sunni Islam, we have the four recognised schools — Shafi’i, Hanafi, Hanbali and Maliki, but it’s not on matters of faith, not on, say, the five pillars of Islam. That is inviolable.

We’re not seeking to reform Islam.

Those who accuse the G25 of being deviant are using the language of ISIS. That is why they attract the ISIS sympathiser to issue a death threat against me. I wonder whether our detractors are also ISIS sympathisers. Perhaps the police should look into this.

  1. The Selangor Islamic Religious Council issued a fatwa against Sisters of Islam calling them deviants. Are you afraid G25 may go the same way?

We don’t issue statements on religious matters. But whatever it is, it’s been challenged. They’re asking for judicial review. Whatever it is, people can take whatever action. Let the courts decide.

  1. You said in March that G25 has met several rulers. Were they supportive of your work?

Yeah, they were supportive. What we’re doing is to uphold the rights of Sultans as the head of religion in respective states. We don’t want any encroachment on their rights by the federal authorities.

  1. You said in March G25 was working with the government to set up this consultative committee, but at the recent forum, you said you’ll only involve civil society. So what happened?

We went to see the PM [in February or March]. He was supportive when we went to see him, but when we said “council”, he said it’ll be very difficult, so he suggested we form it on our own.

He said if it’s a council, you’ll need Cabinet decision and all that, it’ll be very protracted, it’ll be very bureaucratic, so he suggested that we form on our own.

Yet his own religious adviser said you’re deviant.

They use these words very loosely. They were diverted by this ‘khalwat’ (close proximity) issue, which was just an example. They have mixed up khalwat with ‘zina’ (adultery). We are not calling for the legalisation of zina, for heaven’s sake. What we’re objecting to is the snooping and spying.

  1. What does an ideal multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia look like?

Basically respect for each other’s cultures and religions.

There’s this story about the Prophet, a funeral procession passed by, non-Muslim, and he stood up out of respect. His companion asked, “Why do you stand up, he’s a non-Muslim?” He said, “He’s a human being, isn’t he?” That was the response of the Prophet. 9. How can G25 fight for decreased moral policing, seeing that Islamic departments like Jakim (Department of Islamic Development) get so much money and they may not want to give up their funds?

They have to ensure there’s no abuse and there’s no injustice, no targeting of political opponents. Do it in a just way.

  1. What are you afraid Malaysia will turn into if Islam is increasingly institutionalised?

We have no problems with institutionalisation, it’s already institutionalised, but when extreme views prevail… not so much institutionalisation, but because extremist views seem to be prevailing.

It’s how the Taliban started — the intolerance, the very narrow interpretation. Very narrow, intolerant, because the Talibans are Wahhabis, where — to them — non-Wahhabis are non-Muslims, and therefore, their blood is ‘halal’ (permissible), just like al-Qaeda, ISIS and whatnot.

Do we want to be like them? And you look at Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, anybody with a differing view, they kill them.

If we don’t watch it…I don’t want us to be heading in that direction, it’s scary. If it’s not arrested, this intolerance, it can get worse.

  1. Aside from the few conservatives and extreme groups who criticise you, Malay-Muslims in general don’t seem to say anything. How do you plan to engage them?

We have to work with other Muslim groups, with rural and semi-urban outreach to get our message across, message of tolerance. We need to engage, but we cannot do it alone.

  1. I understand four people have left G25 since it was set up?

We’re a loose group. People can come and go. We’re not registered, so calling for us to be banned and whatnot, what’s there to ban? We’re just a group with ideas.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/g25-were-not-seeking-to-reform-islam

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Breakaway Muslim rebels kill nine people in southern Philippines

December 26, 2015

MANILA: A breakaway Muslim rebel group killed nine civilians in the southern Philippines in a series of attacks on Christmas eve, officials said on Saturday, in a reminder that the region remains volatile despite recent gains in the peace process.

Army troops killed four members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a faction opposed to a peace deal between government and the mainstream Muslim rebel group, after they attacked a farming town in Sultan Kudarat province on the southern island of Mindanao.

Miriam Ferrer, the government’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said seven farmers were shot at close range while working in their rice paddies and two other civilians were killed in a grenade attack on a chapel in nearby North Cotabato province.

Ferrer said the rebels had also taken civilian hostage in the Sultan Kudarat attack and used them as human shields when soldiers pursued them, but the hostages were later freed.

The Bangsamoro group broke away from the main Muslim rebel group in 2011 to fight for the creation of an Islamic state in the south of the mainly Catholic country, a goal shared by another small militant group, Abu Sayyaf, which has gained notoriety for bombings, beheadings and kidnappings of foreigners in the western part of Mindanao.

The ceasefire with the main Moro Islamic Liberation Front is holding, however, while both the government and communist guerrillas declared a 12-day ceasefire from Dec. 23 nationwide to mark the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. On Saturday, the Maoist-led rebel group is also celebrating its 46th anniversary.

Security forces are on heightened alert around shopping malls, churches, bus stations and ferry terminals during the holidays to guard against possible attacks.

Police officials said the group behind the Christmas eve attacks in Mindanao had pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants in the Middle East in videos posted to YouTube but they had no evidence linking them directly to militants from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They also had no evidence that any Filipinos had traveled to the Middle East to fight with IS.

In March 2014, the Philippines signed a peace deal with the main Muslim rebels granting the minority Moro people autonomy in exchange for dismantling the 11,000-strong guerrilla army and turning over their weapons, ending a 45-year conflict that killed 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2015/12/26/breakaway-muslim-rebels-kill-nine-people-in-southern-philippines/

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Christmas as usual in Brunei despite ban, report says

December 26, 2015

KUCHING, Dec 26 — Christians in Brunei celebrated Christmas yesterday without a hitch as no new regulations were imposed to restrict the religious celebration, it was reported today.

Head of the Catholic Church in Brunei Bishop Cornelius Sim and Reverend Johnny Chin of an Anglican St Andrew’s Church told The Brunei Times that despite international media outlets reporting the blanket ban there on Christmas, there was no clampdown or any notice from the government on any new restrictions.

“To be quite honest there has been no change for us this year, no new restrictions have been laid down, although we fully respect and adhere to the existing regulations that our celebrations and worship be confined to the compounds of the church and private residences,” Bishop Sim said in the paper’s report.

In fact, it was also reported that Christmas day remained a public holiday for Brunei folk.

Thousands of Christians reportedly attended mass yesterday and on the eve of Christmas Day at the Church of Our Lady Assumption (COLA) in Brunei’s capital of Bandar Seri Begawan, Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria and St John’s Church in Kuala Belait.

Long-reigning Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced last year the introduction of Shariah penal code of hudud, which leads to tough penalties against crimes such as death by stoning or severed limbs.

The ban against any public celebration of Christmas was also announced, along with its punishment for violating the ban: a five-year jail sentence.

Shopping complexes and other businesses in the Sultanate were told to remove decorations including Christmas trees, banners and Santa Claus figures from their premises.

Churches and Christians were told to have their celebration held within their compounds or in their homes.

But Bishop Sim insisted, however, that Brunei was fortunate to still enjoy such unhindered peace and prosperity.

“In my experience, the authorities are respectful and considerate towards other religious communities. In comparison to what is seen elsewhere in the world, we are fortunate to have religious harmony,” he was quoted by the English daily as saying.

He said tolerance is part of the country’s constitution and that Christians have always been free to practise their religion.

Reverend Johnny Chin said relationships between the country’s Muslims and those from other faiths continue to be positive, with the restrictions on Christmas decorations in public which made headlines last year not diluting the true meaning of Christmas to Christians.

“I guess with regards to Christmas, we have reminded ourselves to remain focused on how Christmas is not just about the music, the decorations and the Santa hats – which have been emphasised – but that has never been what Christmas is about anyway,” he was quoted as saying.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/christmas-as-usual-in-brunei-despite-ban-report-says

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E-cigs declared ‘haram’ for Muslims in Malaysia

26 Dec, 2015

Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council has declared smoking electronic cigarettes ‘haram’, citing religious and ‘dangerous’ health concerns. Local e-smokers are incensed, calling on the council to reconsider its strict edict.

“From the syariah [the Malay spelling of ‘Sharia’] aspect, it is detrimental to health. Islam forbids its followers from using things that can harm them directly or indirectly; immediately or gradually that can lead to death, damage the body, result in dangerous illnesses or harm the mind,” the council’s chairman, Dr. Abdul Shukor Husin, stated, according to the New Straits Times.

“E-cigarettes and vapes are categorized as repulsive due to its harming effects and bad smell. They also have an element of wastage, which is by spending money on things that are harmful and non-beneficial,” he added.

“We are seeing women and school children showing interest in vape. The decision is made to prevent an unhealthy culture from spreading to future generations,” Husin said.

Electronic cigarettes are currently banned for Muslims in four Malaysian states. The Fatwa Council has called on the rest of the country to follow their example.

“Tonight’s decision is also in line with the opinions of several other Muslim countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,” Husin said.

The Malaysian E-Vaperisers and Tobacco Alternative Association (Mevta) has called on the National Fatwa Council to review its ruling, however.

According to Mevta President Rizani Zakaria, e-cigarettes should be rather viewed as a good alternative for nicotine.

“If you view vaping as similar to cigarettes and shisha, of course it would be considered haram.

“But vaping is a different thing altogether and has changed the habits of cigarette smokers as many of them have stopped smoking,” Zakaria told the Rakyat Post.

“I’m not saying that vaping is a very good thing, but it certainly has a more significant impact on smokers wanting to quit compared with other alternatives such as chewing gum and patches,” he added.

https://www.rt.com/news/327131-cigarettes-haram-forbidden-muslims/

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Protesters ransack Muslim prayer hall on Corsica

December 26, 2015

AJACCIO: Demonstrators ransacked a Muslim prayer hall and attempted to burn copies of the Koran on the French island of Corsica Friday, police said, following a night of violence that left two firefighters injured.

Tensions had mounted in Ajaccio on Christmas Day after two firefighters and a police officer were wounded overnight in Jardins de L’Empereur, a low-income neighbourhood of the city when they were “ambushed” by “several hooded youths”, authorities said.

On Friday afternoon around 150 people had gathered in front of police headquarters in the island’s capital in a show of support for the police and firefighters, officials said in a statement.

But some in that crowd broke away to join as many as 600 who headed for the housing estate where the violence took place the night before.

They shouted slogans in Corsican meaning “Arabs get out!” or “This is our home!”, an AFP correspondent reported.

Nearby was a Muslim prayer room and a small group smashed the glass door and entered the place of worship, ransacking it and partially burning books including copies of the Koran, said regional official Francois Lalanne.

“Fifty prayer books were thrown out on the street,” Lalanne said, adding that some of the pages were burnt.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2015/12/26/protesters-ransack-muslim-prayer-hall-on-corsica/

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Arab World

 

Iraqi forces kill 54 Daesh militants in Anbar

Dec 26, 2015

The Iraqi army says it has killed 54 militants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group during its ongoing anti-terror operations in areas south of Fallujah in the restive province of Anbar.

Baghdad Operations Command Spokesman Brigadier Saad Mo’en said on Friday that the Iraqi troops killed 33 Daesh Takfiris in Nuaimiya area located some five kilometers south of the city, Arabic-language al-Sumeria news website reported, adding that eight of their hideouts were also destroyed and at least 45 improvised explosive devices were dismantled.

During the cleansing operation, 14 other terrorists were also killed in Ma’ameer and al-Irawaiya areas, and 27 roadside bombs and four booby-trapped houses were also dismantled, he went on to say.

The army also killed seven Takfiris, deactivated 13 improvised explosive devices, and destroyed two military vehicles in the al-Tikriti and al-Anaz Bridge areas.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/26/443235/Iraq-Anbar-Fallujah-Ramadi-Daesh-Saad-Moen/

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Scores of ISIL Terrorists Killed in Maheen

Dec 26, 2015

“Syrian army destroyed ISIL positions and concentration centers near Maheen, killing and wounding at least 17 Takfiri terrorists and destroying their vehicles and weapons,” field sources said Saturday.

The Syrian airstrikes also hit against positions of militants in Maheen, leaving dozens of ISIL Takfiri terrorists dead.

Militants’ weaponry and vehicles were also destroyed.

On Friday, the Syrian Army and its allies’ operations near the town of Maheen forced the ISIL militants to retreat from more territories in Homs province, the army said.

“The Syrian army, the National Defense Forces and Lebanese Hezbollah continued to advance against the ISIL in the nearby areas of Maheen and took full control over Wadi Hasaan Al-Kabir, Wadi Hasaan Al-Saghir, Wadi Khadra, Talet Khadra and Najmet Khadra,” the army said.

“The pro-government forces are now advancing towards Maheen,” the army added.

“The ISIL has sustained a heavy death toll in the attacks and is pulling back its forces to evade more casualties,” the army added.

Earlier reports said that the Syrian army and the country’s popular forces drove back the ISIL militants from more Heights near the strategic town of Maheen after hours of fierce battle with the terrorists.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941005000465

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Iraqi forces in fierce battles with IS in Ramadi

AFP — 26  12 15

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces on Saturday clashed with diehard fighters from the militant Islamic State (IS) group defending the former government complex in the heart of the city of Ramadi.

After a major push on Tuesday that broke IS defences around the city centre, government forces have been slowed by snipers, booby traps, roadside bombs and suicide attackers.

While initial hopes of a quick victory have faded, Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) and the army have advanced steadily through the devastated capital of Anbar province.

They reached a key intersection in the Hoz neighbourhood home to the government complex, whose recapture would go a long way towards ensuring a full recapture of Ramadi.

“There are fierce battles pitting members of IS against the Iraqi forces there now,” said Ahmed al-Dulaimi, a police captain.

He said the latest fighting had left at least two members of the Iraqi security forces dead and nine wounded. At least three were killed on Friday, according to several senior officers and local officials.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228773/iraqi-forces-in-fierce-battles-with-is-in-ramadi

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ISIS releases 25 Assyrian Christians in Syria

25 December 2015

An Assyrian group says Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have released 25 more Assyrian Christian hostages they had held captive in Syria for 10 months.

The 25 Christians were part of about 230 Assyrian Christians that were captured by the extremist group after it overran Assyrian communities on the southern bank of the Khabur River in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassakeh.

The Stockholm-based Assyrian Human Rights Network said the 25 arrived in the Christian town of Tal Tamr on Friday. It said the released included 16 children and their mothers.

It says the release brings the number of Assyrian hostages that have so far been released to 148.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/25/Syrian-group-ISIS-releases-25-Assyrian-Christians-in-Syria.html

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Syrian rebel leader killed in air strike in Damascus suburb

Dec 26, 2015

BEIRUT: A top Syrian rebel leader and head of the most powerful insurgent group in the eastern suburbs of Damascus was killed in an aerial raid that targeted the group’s headquarters, rebel sources and the Syrian army said on Friday.

The death of Zahran Alloush, 44, head of Jaysh al-Islam, is a big blow to rebel control of the rural eastern suburban area of Damascus known as al Ghouta, the rebels said.

Defence experts say the disarray among the rebel forces could also consolidate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s control over the rest of the area.

Several rebel leaders have been killed since Russia began an aerial campaign on September 30 in support of its ally Assad, although Moscow has insisted that it is concentrating its attacks on Islamic State (IS).

The rebel sources said that in the raid Russian planes fired at least 10 missiles at a secret headquarters of the group, which is the largest rebel faction in the area and has about 15,000 to 20,000 fighters, according to Western intelligence.

The Syrian army said Alloush was killed as the result of intelligence on the ground. Rebels blamed Russian sophisticated spying planes which they say rarely leave their skies.

A rebel source said the group had chosen one of their top military commanders, Abu Hammam al Buwaidani, as their new head.

“Alloush’s martyrdom should be a turning point in the history of the revolution and rebel groups should realise they are facing an war of extermination and uprooting by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s regime,” said Labib al Nahhas, a senior figure in the main Ahrar al-Sham rebel group.

Jaysh al-Islam has effectively been running the administration of the Eastern Ghouta area since 2013, when the group was formed from an amalgamation of scores of rebel brigades.

The rebels said Alloush was killed while holding a meeting with other rebel leaders in the Marj area of al-Ghouta, which has been the target of a major Syrian assault in the last few weeks.

Jaysh al-Islam was one of the main rebel groups that attended a recent Saudi-backed opposition meeting in Riyadh and will be part of a negotiating team that is expected to hold talks with Assad’s government in Geneva.

Before setting up Jaysh al-Islam, Alloush had founded Liwa al-Islam, or the Brigade of Islam, with his father Abdallah, a Salafist Syrian cleric based in Saudi Arabia. He had a postgraduate degree in religious studies from a Saudi university.

Alloush, who was released by the Syrian authorities at the start of the conflict in 2011 when it let scores of Islamist detainees go free, had been criticised for a crackdown on dissidents in the areas he controlled.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228755/syrian-rebel-leader-killed-in-air-strike-in-damascus-suburb

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Nusra Terrorists Hit Hard in Syrian Air Raids

Dec 26, 2015

On Friday, Syrian fighter jets destroyed al-Nusra Front positions and gathering centers in al-Zaafaranyeh al-Sharqyeh, Teir Maala, Alkan Mount in the Northern part of Homs.

The Syrian warplanes also conducted airstrikes on al-Nusra positions in Wadi al-Khanazeir and Talbiseh in Homs.

Dozens of Takfiri terrorists were killed in the airstrikes. A number of militants’ machine gun-equipped vehicles were also destroyed.

Also on Friday, the Syrian warplanes launched massive airstrikes on ISIL strongholds in the Western part of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in the province of Homs, a source within the army ranks announced.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941005000499

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ISIL Retreating Forces From Around Maheen

Dec 26, 2015

“Significant advances of the Syrian Army and its allies near Maheen have forced the ISIL to pull back a large number of militants form their defense lines and positions near Maheen,” the sources told FNA.

The ISIL terrorists have been weakened by the continued attacks of the Syrian forces. The Russian and Syrian Air forces have also targeted their positions heavily in the last week.

Reports about the dispatch of fresh forces from across the country to Homs province to join the army’s operation near Maheen has been another cause of the ISIL withdrawal form nearby areas of the town.

Military analysts believe that the Syrian government forces’ tactic of carrying our large-scale operation and meantime conducting sporadic attack can significantly weaken the terrorists’ ability of defending and regrouping in the same time.

“We have witnessed the fruitfulness on this tactic in Aleppo, Lattakia and Homs provinces,” they added.

“The army has lessened its casualties in the battlefield with using this tactic,” the analysts went on to say.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941005000439

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Syrian Forces Hit ISIL Strongholds Heavily in Homs Province

Dec 26, 2015

The Syrian army troops, the National Defense Forces (NDF) and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters attacked the ISIL terrorists’ concentration centers and defense lines near al-Hadath and Um Kadoum hill and inflicted heavy losses on the terrorist group.

Military analysts believe that the Syrian government forces’ tactic of carrying large-scale operation and meantime conducting sporadic attacks can significantly weaken the terrorists’ ability of defending and regrouping in the same time.

“We have witnessed the fruitfulness of this tactic in Aleppo, Lattakia and Homs provinces,” they added.

“The army has lessened its casualties in the battlefield with using this tactic,” the analysts went on to say.

On Friday, the Syrian Army and its allies’ operations near the strategic town of Maheen forced the ISIL militants to retreat from more territories in the Central Homs province.

“The Syrian army, the National Defense Forces and Lebanese Hezbollah continued to advance against the ISIL in the nearby areas of Maheen and took full control over Wadi Hasaan Al-Kabir, Wadi Hasaan Al-Saghir, Wadi Khadra, Talet Khadra and Najmet Khadra,” the army said.

“The pro-government forces are now advancing towards Maheen,” the army added.

“The ISIL has sustained a heavy death toll in the attacks and is pulling back its forces to evade more casualties,” the army added.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941005000329

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Deadly raid hits leadership of key Syrian rebel group

25 December 2015

Zahran Aloush, head of the powerful Jaysh al-Islam Syrian rebel group, was killed on Friday east of Damascus, a monitoring group and Syria’s opposition said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said Aloush and five other commanders were killed “in an air strike that targeted one of their meetings in Eastern Ghouta.”

Aloush’s death was confirmed on Twitter by the head of Syria’s opposition National Coalition.

It was not immediately clear who had carried out the air strike.

However, Reuters reported that Aloush was killed in the aerial raid that targeted his group’s headquarters, citing two rebel sources as saying on Friday. They said a secret headquarters of the rebel group, which is the largest rebel faction in the area and has thousands of fighters, was targeted by what they described as Russian planes.

Activists also said the air strike killed Aloush’s deputy and his spokesman in southern Damascus, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Jaysh al Islam, with thousands of trained fighters, is the biggest and seen as the most organized rebel group. It has been effectively running the administration of Eastern Ghouta.

Before setting up Jaysh al Islam, Aloush had founded Liwa al-Islam, or the Brigade of Islam, with his father Abdallah, a Salafist Syrian cleric based in Saudi Arabia.

Aloush was ideologically at odds with ISIS and al-Qaeda, espousing a more moderate brand of Islam.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/25/Top-Syrian-rebel-leader-killed-in-air-strike-in-Damascus-suburb-.html

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Anglican leader warns of Christian ‘elimination’ in Middle East

25 December 2015

Anglican leader Justin Welby on Friday said Christians faced “elimination” in the Middle East by ISIS, labelling the group a modern-day version of the tyrannical biblical king Herod.

ISIS has attacked Christians, Yazidis, Shiites and other minorities across the region, killing thousands and uprooting ancient communities from ancestral lands.

“They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began,” the archbishop of Canterbury said in his Christmas Day sermon.

“This apocalypse is defined by themselves and heralded only by the angel of death.”

He likened ISIS to Herod, who according to historical accounts killed several members of his own family and in the Bible massacred Bethlehem’s male infants to prevent the prophesied rise of Jesus.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2015/12/25/Anglican-leader-warns-of-Christian-elimination-in-Middle-East-.html

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Bahraini protesters stage fresh anti-government rallies

Dec 26, 2015

Anti-government protesters in Bahrain have staged fresh rallies across the Persian Gulf kingdom, calling for freedom and democracy.

The demonstrations were held on Friday in several towns and villages, including Nuwaidrat, A’ali, Buri, Qadam, Abu Saiba, Ma’ameer, Shakhurah and Daih.

The protesters insisted on their demands for reforms and the release of all political prisoners. They also condemned the regime’s harsh crackdown on dissent.

Anti-regime protesters have been holding demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for the Al Khalifa ruling family to relinquish power.

Bahraini regime forces, backed by Saudi troops, have cracked down on the protesters, killing scores of them. A large number of Bahraini activists are also languishing behind bars.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/26/443237/Bahrain-protester-Al-Khalifa-Saudi-Arabia-Amnesty-International/

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Europe

 

French extremists ransack Muslim prayer hall, burn copies of Qur’an on Corsica

Dec 26, 2015

A mob of anti-Muslim extremists has ransacked a prayer hall on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica and set fire to copies of the Holy Qur’an.

A local police official said the crowd of people damaged the prayer room in the city of Ajaccio on Friday.

The violence came a day after two firefighters and a police official were wounded in a low-income neighborhood of the city when they were “ambushed” by “several hooded youths,” authorities said.

The protesters had gathered to show their support for the police officer and firefighters, but some in the crowd smashed the glass door of the nearby Muslim prayer hall and entered the place of worship, said regional official Francois Lalanne.

“Fifty prayer books were thrown out on the street,” AFP quoted Lalanne as saying, adding that some of the books were burnt.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls denounced the attack, calling it an unacceptable sacrilege of a Muslim place of prayer.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/26/443232/France-Muslim-Quran-Corsica-Paris–/

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French Muslims show solidarity with Christians

Dec 25, 2015

Muslims in France have made a show of solidarity with the country’s majority Christian population by gathering to protect a church during the Mass.

Dozens of Muslims in the city of Lens volunteered to guard the event at the Catholic Church Christmas in the early hours of Friday, French media reported.

The decision came reportedly after France’s Interior Ministry issued warnings that “particular vigilance” should be practiced during the Mass.

The head of the Union of Muslim Citizens of Pas-de-Calais, Abdelkader Aoussedj, said the move was a strong gesture showing that Muslims greatly respect other religions.

“We would have liked this to happen everywhere else, especially at a time when Muslims are stigmatized. That is the true Islam, it has nothing to do with these fools, these bad apples,” Aoussedj said, referring to a series of attacks in the capital, Paris, on November 13, where 130 people were killed. The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the shootings and explosions.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/25/443213/France-Muslims-Christmas-Mass/

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Prevent programme ‘lacking referrals from Muslim community’

25 December 2015

A fraction of referrals to a key government anti-terror scheme are being made from within the Muslim community, leading to widespread distrust and threats of a national boycott, a report has found. Less than 10% of the referrals to the Prevent programme, a central plank of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, come from within the Muslim community, according to figures obtained by The Times.

The collapse in referrals means that the bulk of tip-offs are originating from public services, such as schools or doctors. This in turn is breeding distrust and disillusionment among some Muslim communities, it is claimed.

The Times says that data released by the National Police Chiefs Council has revealed that of the 3,288 referrals to Prevent in the first half of the year, just 280 – or 8.6% – came from within the Muslim community, or from family, friends and faith leaders. Nearly 2,200 referrals were made by public bodies outside policing, such as social services and the health or education sectors. The rest were said to have come from within prisons or from police investigations.

One north London faith group that represents tens of thousand of Muslims is said to have called for a boycott of Prevent, while Muslim leaders in east London have also raised concerns that the programme is spying on youngsters. Both campaigns have urged mosques and Muslim groups across the country to join the boycott.

Prevent, part of the government’s overall counter-terrorism strategy, Contest, is designed to help police and security agencies identify individuals and groups at risk of radicalisation from all groups, such as Islamist extremists or the far right.

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/dec/25/prevent-programme-lacking-referrals-from-muslim-community

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Muslim store owner spreads Christmas cheer by giving out toys to children

Dec. 25, 2015

DAYTON — A Muslim business owner spread Christmas cheer by giving out toys to local children.

Mustafa Hussein, owner of Cornell Meat King Supermarket in the west side of Dayton, said he shared Christmas gifts to show the community how much he cares and that people should not be afraid of Muslims.

“We’re trying to show everybody that most Muslim people are good,” said Hussein, who has owned the business for almost three years. “This is my first time doing this. … It’s a poor neighbourhood and I’m trying to make the kids happy — whatever cost it costs — just showing support to the community.”

Full report at:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local/muslim-store-owner-spreads-christmas-cheer/nprc2/

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Corsica Muslim prayer hall damaged as violence continues

Dec 26, 2015

A crowd vandalized a Muslim prayer room in Corsica a day after an ambush left fire-fighters injured on the French island.

The region’s top police official was on the tense scene at a housing project Friday evening.

The violence began Thursday night, when fire-fighters responding to an emergency call were ambushed in Ajaccio, according to the local France 3 television. On Friday, a gathering that started as a show of support for the injured emergency officials turned violent, and some in the crowd vandalized a prayer room. France 3 reported new police reinforcements at other prayer rooms.

France’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, called Friday for respect for French law after “the intolerable aggression toward fire-fighters and unacceptable profanation of a Muslim place of prayer.”

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world/corsica-muslim-prayer-hall-damaged-as-violence-continues/story-cEgVqcdtmnYfsKhF5zXaVO.html

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Pope slams destruction of cultural heritage

26 December 2015

Pope Francis on Friday used his Christmas message to denounce the destruction of cultural heritage, in a clear reference to ISIS.

He said “atrocities” committed by ISIS “do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples.”

ISIS has launched a campaign of destruction against buildings and monuments that fall outside its harsh interpretation of Islam, ranging from Christian churches to Muslim graves, as well as ancient treasures like the temples of Palmyra.

Conflicts in Syria and Libya

The Pope also offered his full support for U.N. efforts to end the conflicts in Syria and Libya in his Christmas message.

“We pray… that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people,” he said.

“It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country.”

The U.N. Security Council last week unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing a proposed peace plan to bring the Syrian regime and opposition together for talks in January.

The plan followed nearly two months of strenuous efforts among top diplomats from 17 countries, including regime backers Russia and Iran.

Syria’s regime said Thursday it was ready to take part in new talks in Geneva aimed at ending the war, though it appeared to make its participation conditional on which opposition groups attend.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2015/12/26/Pope-slams-destruction-of-cultural-heritage.html

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Mideast

 

Iran blames U.S., Israel for displacement of Muslims

December 26, 2015

TEHRAN – Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has said that displacement of Muslims is the result of the U.S. and the Zionist regime of Israel’s “selfish” and “benefit-seeking” adventures.

“The world of oppression and tyranny seeks to cause problems for the world of Islam and to ruin the pure and bright Islam,” he said at a Sunni mosque in Zahedan, capital of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, on Thursday.

He added that certain Western countries have been seeking to establish “materialistic and liberal” systems and therefore they have failed to achieve justice due to their “materialistic goal”.

Full report at:

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=251768

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Western Diplomatic Sources: Saudi Leaders Split over Yemen War

Dec 26, 2015

“Such differences have now entangled them with the decision about ending or continuing war against Yemen,” a western diplomat revealed, referring to the widening gaps between the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz and his Deputy Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.

In response to the question how long Saudi Arabia will continue its war against Yemen, he said, “Which group in Saudi Arabia are you talking about? Are you talking about Mohammad bin Salman who is after continued war and finds capability in himself to annihilate the Houthis? Or Mohammad bin Naif who is a moderate person and views continued war as an opportunity to further grow terrorism?”

His remarks came after a Russian political analysis website said the monarchy in Saudi Arabia might come to an end in the coming years if it keeps on attacking the neighboring Yemen and its adventurism in the region.

“The collapse may well happen in the next 2 to 3 years, if the Al Saud continues its military adventures and also continues to be rude to Iran, Iraq and Yemen,” the Iran.ru analytical website wrote.

It said that although there has recently been a change in the Saudi leadership, where leadership positions were the representatives of the younger generation, and, in theory, the kingdom was to embark on the path of reform and modernization, Riyadh continues direct interference in the internal affairs of the neighboring countries, including the use of military and terrorist methods.

The Russian website noted that the Saudi regime is a forged and illegitimate regime, and said, “Saudi Arabia has been created artificially from different religious and ethnic groups, and the Al Saud government only tries to maintain a complex balance of interests among tribal heads.”

Also in June, sources in Saudi Arabia revealed that a group of princes have worked out a plan to stand up to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Jamal Bin, a prominent Saudi activist who writes about the events within the Saudi monarchy on his tweeter page, disclosed concerted efforts by a number of Saudi princes, including Tallal, Ahmed and Mota’b, to take an immediate and integrated position against the events happening in Saudi Arabia.

According to him, the Saudi princes are seeking to save their country from the adventurism of Mohammed bin Nayef and his deputy Mohammed bin Salman who are named by Jamal Bin as “teenagers who have perpetrated a coup”.

His remarks came after a source said in May that Saudi king’s younger half-brother Muqrin bin Abdulaziz is under house arrest after being relieved of his duties as crown prince.

Asa’ad Omabiya Abu Qalilah, an independent Libyan journalist and writer who has links within the Saudi monarchy, said that Muqrin cannot visit anyone or receive any guests at his palace.

On April 29, King Salman relieved Muqrin of his duties as crown prince and appointed his nephew, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as the new heir apparent.

It is the first time that a grandson of the founder of the country (Ibn Saud), rather than a son, has been appointed crown prince.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941005000351

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Erdogan warns against Mideast sectarian divisions

26 December 2015

The full interview with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by Al Arabiya News Channel presenter Mountaha al-Ramahi, will be aired on Sunday at 16:00 GMT (19:00 KSA).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Al Arabiya News Channel that the Middle East is suffering from sectarian plots to divide the region.

In a preview of the interview with the leader, to be aired fully on Sunday, Erdogan demanded that countries in the region come together to address this plot to stir sectarianism.

Al Arabiya News Channel presenter Mountaha al-Ramahi interviewing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

He said there were “disagreements” between Turkey and Iran over regional issues.

“There are disagreements between Turkey and Iran, but I do not want these disparities to affect good neighborly relations … sectarianism should not prompt us to become enemies, Islam must be our reference.

“There are intentions in the world to divide us and we need to join our efforts and come together. Look at what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Libya … we have to overcome these problems and if we manage to do so, the Islamic world will be more powerful,” Erdogan added.

Turkish presence in Iraq

On the Iraq crisis, the president said that Turkish forces currently training Iraqis in the Bashiqa Camp near Mosul, came at the request and knowledge of Iraqi authorities. However, he did not say whether these stationed forces will withdraw.

“Iraqi-Turkish relations are good. We tackled developments in Iraq during [Iraqi Prime Minister] Haidar al-Abadi’s visit to Turkey,” he said.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/26/Erdogan-warns-against-Mideast-sectarian-divisions-.html

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Israeli state terrorism source of global chaos: Iran

Dec 25, 2015

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman says world countries and international organizations should focus on the Israeli regime’s state terrorism as one of the root causes of chaos across the globe.

“As the world considers terrorism a common danger, both international organizations and regional and world countries need to concentrate on state terrorism by the Zionist regime [of Israel] as one of the main sources of chaos in West Asia and the entire world,” Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in an interview with the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, published on Friday.

He added that state terrorism is “one of the most dangerous types of terrorism.”

The Israeli regime, which has been created based on occupation and terrorism, has been pursuing these two means since its establishment, the Iranian spokesperson said.

The Iranian official pointed to the killing of Samir Qantar, a high-ranking member of the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, in Syria, saying two important points should be taken into consideration over the incident.

“One aspect is the violation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent government [and] a member of the United Nations by the Zionist regime,” Jaberi Ansari said, adding that organized and internalized state terrorism by the Israeli regime is the second important issue in this regard.

Qantar was killed during an Israeli raid which targeted his home near the Syrian capital, Damascus, on December 20. The airstrike also killed 10 Syrian nationals and injured a number of other civilians.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/25/443208/Iran-Israel-Jaberi-Ansari-Qantar-state-terrorism/

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ISIL ideology has nothing to do with Islam: Larijani

December 26, 2015

TEHRAN – Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said on Thursday that ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has nothing to do with Islam.

All Sunni sects reject the ISIL’s and the other terrorist groups’ ideologies, he said in his speech at a seminary school in Qom.

He also said the Western countries’ silence toward terrorism led to spread of terrorism in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=251771

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‘Terrorist list in Syria should be prepared without discrimination’

December 26, 2015

TEHRAN – Iran’s point man for Arab and African Affairs has said that the “Syrian national dialogue” should revolve around the agenda set by the UN, noting that a list of the terrorist groups in the country should be prepared without dividing the terrorists into good or bad.

In a phone conversation with UN Special Representative for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Friday, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said also said the crisis in Syria can be settled by respecting the country’s sovereignty, independence, national unity, territorial integrity and the people’s will.

Full report at:

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=251767

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Rafsanjani sees unity week bolster Shia-Sunni solidarity

December 26, 2015

TEHRAN – Chairman of the Expediency Council Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Thursday the Unity Week should be regarded as an invaluable initiative to reinforce solidarity between Shia and Sunni sects.

Full report at:

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=251766

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Russia says its strikes reduce oil smuggling to Turkey

25 December 2015

Russia said Friday that trucks loaded with oil continue to cross from Syria into Turkey but in lesser numbers thanks to its bombing campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists.

“Oil tank trucks are continuing to cross the Syrian-Turkish border,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Citing intelligence data, Moscow said the number of oil tankers moving along the so-called northern route towards a refinery in the Turkish city of Batman had gone down.

The same could be seen along the western route leading to Reyhanli and Iskenderun, the two Turkish cities on the Mediterranean coast, the ministry said.

“The number of oil tankers there went down to 265,” the statement said.

Moscow said jihadists had been looking for new ways to smuggle oil out of Syria to avoid Russian strikes.

Some of the trucks travelling from Syria are entering Turkey near the Iraqi city of Zakho on the Turkish border, the statement said.

“Despite a significant ‘detour’, Turkey remains the final point of the smuggling route,” the defence ministry said.

Oil tankers going through the so-called northern and western routes are mainly travelling at night, it added.

“Oil tankers are disguised as ordinary trucks and travel in small columns numbering a few dozen vehicles,” the ministry said.

Over the past week, Russian strikes destroyed 17 truck columns as well as 37 targets involved in the extraction and refining of oil.

Overall, around 2,000 oil tank trucks have been destroyed since Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria on September 30. Since its start, Russian armed forces have conducted 5,240 sorties in Syria, the ministry said.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/12/25/Russia-says-its-strikes-reduce-oil-smuggling-to-Turkey-.html

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Iran urges lasting ceasefire, end of blockade in Yemen

Dec 25, 2015

A senior Iranian official has called for a lasting ceasefire and an immediate end to human blockade in war-hit Yemen.

“The establishment of a sustainable and lasting ceasefire and removal of human blockade will be key factors to the conclusion of a comprehensive and complete agreement among Yemeni groups,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in a telephone conversation with the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, on Friday.

He added that Saudi Arabia’s military attack on Yemen has escalated insecurity in the Middle East and noted that “complex and dangerous” terrorist movements are currently boosting their forces in southern Yemen.

The Iranian diplomat hailed efforts by the UN envoy to mediate talks in Switzerland among warring sides in the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Members of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and representatives loyal to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, reached an agreement in Magglingen, northern Switzerland, on December 17 during UN-mediated talks on a full and immediate resumption of humanitarian assistance to conflict-stricken areas in the south of the impoverished country.

This handout picture released by UN Photo shows a general view of the Yemen talks in Magglingen, Switzerland, on December 15, 2015. © AFP

The deal will facilitate the delivery of a large UN convoy carrying essential humanitarian supply and destined for the most affected districts of Ta’izz.

Amir-Abdollahian once again reiterated Tehran’s stance on the importance of settling the crisis through political approaches and said Iran believes that the security of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and all countries in the region will be guaranteed provided that there is a genuine campaign against terrorism, the recent Yemeni-Yemeni agreement is implemented and the blockade on Yemen is removed.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/25/443212/Iran-UN-Yemen-AmirAbdollahian-Cheikh-Ahmed-Switzerland/

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‘Stop fighters coming from Turkey, Jordan’

Dec 26, 2015

Qatar against Opp. lists before peace talks; Russia says its strikes reduce oil smuggling

Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem said on Friday that international efforts to end the conflict in his country should focus on preventing insurgents coming in from neighbouring Turkey and Jordan.

Syrian state media, which reported the comments Mr Moualem made after meeting Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi during a visit to Beijing, quoted him as saying he stressed the need to “implement UN Security Council resolutions on fighting terror”.

The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad accuses Turkey of arming hardline Islamist rebels and allowing foreign jihadists into Syria and says US-backed Jordan arms and trains insurgents in southern Syria — allegations vehemently denied by those countries.

Mr Moualem said on Thursday Syria was ready to take part in the Geneva talks and hoped the dialogue would help it form a national unity government. State news agency SANA said Mr Moualem and the Chinese official had discussed the threat posed by hardline Islamist militant groups in Syria such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front.

Meanwhile, Qatari foreign minister Khaled al-Attiyah said on Friday he opposed the creation of lists of opposition before peace talks on Syria.

“We are against the absolute classification of groups. What is more important is to understand the logic behind why these groups took up arms, their aims and motives,” he said at a press conference with his Russian counterpart in Moscow.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it was crucial to ensure that the widest circle of Opposition members take part in future talks to end Syria’s civil war.

Also, Russia said Friday that trucks loaded with oil continue to cross from Syria into Turkey but in lesser numbers thanks to its bombing campaign against Islamic State jihadists.

“Oil tank trucks are continuing to cross the Syrian-Turkish border,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Full report at:

http://www.asianage.com/international/stop-fighters-coming-turkey-jordan-218

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India

 

Separatists welcome PM Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore

Dec 26, 2015

Separatists here welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore on Friday, with moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq terming it “a positive move” and hardline faction leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani saying they have no objection to improved relations between India and Pakistan.

“We do not have any issues with relations improving between India and Pakistan… No right thinking persons shall have any reservation on it. However, the two countries have to address the Kashmir issue as per wishes and aspirations of the people if these endeavours are to succeed,” Geelani told PTI.

Read| Opposition react to Modi’s Lahore visit: Congress criticises; Omar, CPI welcome gesture

Reacting to Modi’s surprise stopover in Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, who is celebrating his 66th birthday today, the hardline Hurriyat leader said, “We hope that Pakistan will also remain steadfast on its stand on Kashmir issue.” Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan is a positive move. People of Kashmir welcome any opportunity that bring India and Pakistan close.”

Click to view pictures |  Modi in Lahore: Nawaz welcomes birthday guest

The Mirwaiz further said, “Political will and vision is needed on all sides to address issues, specially Kashmir.”

Meanwhile, Abdul Gani Bhat, head of Muslim Conference, a constituent of the moderate Hurriyat faction, said his party supports the resumption of dialogue process between India and Pakistan.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/separatists-welcome-modis-surprise-visit-to-lahore/

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Three students, allegedly planning to join ISIS, detained at Nagpur airport

Dec 26, 2015

Three youths from Hyderabad were detained by anti-terror officials of Maharashtra at the Nagpur airport while they were about to board a flight to Srinagar. The information that the youths were missing from their homes was passed on by Telangana Police on Thursday to various agencies. The youths were believed to be planning to go to Syria to join ISIS via Srinagar. All of them were final-year engineering students.

“To avoid detection at Hyderabad airport where vigil is very high, they travelled by road to Nagpur and were to fly to Srinagar. We believe that from there they had plans to leave the country,’’ an Intelligence Bureau official said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/three-youths-allegedly-planning-to-join-islamic-state-detained-at-nagpur-airport/

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Three Kerala youths tortured in Saudi Arabia back after harrowing experience

Dec 26, 2015

Three Kerala youths, who were allegedly physically tortured by their Saudi employer, returned to their home state early on Saturday from Saudi Arabia.

The plight of the three came to light after a Whatsapp video of a Saudi employer allegedly beating them with a wooden plank surfaced. Kerala government and External Affairs Ministry had intervened to help them.

As the trio arrived at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram in the wee hours, their relatives and friends welcomed them. Baiju, Abilash and Vimal Kumar had been taken to Saudi Arabia by a placement agency a couple of months back after promising them job opportunities.

21-year-old Abilash told reporters that he had taken loan to build a house and had hoped that employment abroad will help him clear his loan fast. However, that was not to be. Their relatives said it was a relief seeing their near ones back safe.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/three-kerala-youths-tortured-in-saudi-arabia-back-after-harrowing-experience/

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ISIS flags in Kashmir ‘more adventure and mischief than inspiration’

Toufiq Rashid

Dec 26, 2015

Despite being condemned by the senior most separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, every Friday a bunch of boys display the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) flags near the Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar.

The youths have been doing it almost every week, ever since the flags first appeared during a protest a year ago, worrying many that the dreaded group should find a stronghold in the Valley. But the security forces are not worried at all.

Top police officials say there is hardly any presence of the IS on the ground in the Valley and that the youths hoist the flags “just to annoy the security forces”. “In the past one year, 9 or 10 boys were arrested for raising the IS flags, but during interrogation it was found that they were doing it just for adventure and there was no real connection,” says a senior police official on condition of anonymity.

The officer said the Pakistani flags thar are being raised have been a common sight ever since militancy began in the Valley in the early ‘90s, and are no longer getting the media attention they used to.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/isis-flags-in-kashmir-more-adventure-and-mischief-than-inspiration/story-ZfufsiXSszsYhNI7ZZfZxO.html

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US-based AFMI to felicitate 105 meritorious Muslim students

December 26, 2015

As many as 105 meritorious students from the minority community will be felicitated and awarded scholarships by a US-based American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) in a two-day conference here from Saturday.

The conference will be held on December 26-27 to honour the meritorious children of the Muslim community from India.

AMFI founder member and Trustee, Abdul Rehman S Nakadar told reporters here on Friday that the event will be inaugurated by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) Chancellor, Zafar Sareshwala will also be present on the occasion.

He informed that AFMI was actively promoting meritorious students of the community since last 24 years.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/usbased-afmi-to-felicitate-105-meritorious-muslim-students/article8030216.ece

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To reciprocate Afghan gesture, PM should allow construction of Babri mosque: Azam

Nazar Abbas

Dec 26, 2015

RAMPUR: On a day when PM Narendra Modi inaugurated Afghanistan parliament building, constructed by India at a cost of over $90 million, UP Cabinet minister Azam Khan said the PM should reciprocate Kabul’s gesture of naming a section of their parliament building as Atal Block by allowing construction of Babri mosque at Ayodhya.

Talking to reporters at his residence in Rampur, Azam said, “The Inauguration of Afghanistan parliament by PM Modi is an achievement. Now, the PM should also reciprocate by allowing the construction of Babri mosque at Ayodhya.”

“Instead of wasting time in touring foreign countries, PM Modi should first focus on his party’s internal issues involving Cabinet colleague Arun Jaitley and party MP Kirti Azad,” he said.

When asked about the steps the Samajwadi Party’s government in the state was taking to stop the VHP’s movement for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Azam said, “It’s not a good gesture to suppress any voice or movement in a democratically ruled state. This can be resolved through dialogues too.”

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/To-reciprocate-Afghan-gesture-PM-should-allow-construction-of-Babri-mosque-Azam/articleshow/50328719.cms

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South Asia

 

Suspected Suicide Bomber Attacks Bangladesh Mosque

Shaikh Azizur Rahman

December 25, 2015

KOLKATA, INDIA—

A suspected suicide bomber set off his explosives during Friday prayers at a mosque in northern Bangladesh, killing himself and leaving about a dozen people injured.

The bombing took place at the house of worship run by the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Bagmara, a town about 250 kilometers northwest of Dhaka, investigators said.  No one claimed responsibility for the attack at the Syedpur Chakpara Ahmadiyya Jame Masjid mosque.

“Our primary investigation reveals that the man who died there was carrying the bomb. Noticing the pattern of injury marks on his body, it appears that he was on a suicide mission,” Motiar Rahman, the officer in charge of the local police station in Bagmara, told reporters. He said three of the injured worshippers, including a 12-year-old boy, were taken to a hospital.

Abdus Samad, secretary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Bangladesh, a national body representing the country’s 100,000 Ahmadis, said the bomber was accompanied by a second attacker who escaped in the ensuing chaos.

“By speaking to the worshippers on the spot and the investigating police officials, we have come to know that the two attackers entered the mosque in the guise of worshippers,” Samad told VOA. “The IED [improvised explosive device] exploded when the two men were sitting in the row along with other worshippers and they all were prostrated during the prayer.”

He said police told him the dead bomber’s jacket contained additional explosive devices that had failed to detonate. “Several dozen worshippers would have surely died today if the attackers managed to carry out their terror operation the way they had engineered,” Samad said.

Islamist militancy rising

About 96 percent of Bangladesh’s 149 million Muslims are Sunni, and the rest are Shi’ites and Ahmadiyyas.

Friday’s explosion at the Ahmadiyya mosque came amid concerns about rising Islamist violence targeting non-Sunni sects and non-Muslims.

In October, a bomb attack on a Shi’ite religious procession killed two people in Dhaka. Last month, unidentified gunmen killed the muezzin of a Shi’ite mosque in Bogra. Earlier this month, bombs hurled by militants injured 10 devotees at a Hindu temple in the Dinajpur district.

More than three dozen church leaders have received death threats from Islamist militants in recent weeks. Four Christian leaders have narrowly escaped attempts on their lives.

The Islamic State terror group as well as the banned local militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, known as JMB, claimed responsibility for the attacks and threats, even as Bangladeshi authorities denied IS has a foothold in the country.

Police recently arrested more than a dozen JMB militants who authorities said had been involved in recent gun and bomb attacks.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/content/suspected-suicide-bomber-attacks-bangladesh-mosque/3119474.html

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18 wounded as bomb blast hits Afghan mosque

Dec 26, 2015

A bomb explosion has ripped through a mosque in Afghanistan’s northern province of Baghlan, leaving more than a dozen people injured.

The attack took place as people gathered for Friday prayers in the Ghorbandi area of the Puli Khumri district in Baghlan some 230 km (142 miles) north of the capital, Kabul.

Mohammad Laiq, a worshiper who escaped the bombing unscathed, said 18 people were injured in the blast.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

On October 30, at least six people were killed and four others injured in a mortar attack by members of the Takfiri Daesh militant group against a mosque in the troubled Nangarhar province.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/26/443247/Afghanistan-Baghlan-Mosque-Bomb-attack-/

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1 killed, 10 injured in suicide bombing at Ahmadiyya place of worship in Bangladesh

December 25, 2015

A suicide bomber blew himself up in an attack on an Ahmaddiya worship place in Rajshahi’s Bagmara Upazila during the Juma prayers, leaving 10 people injured, police say.

Bagmara Police Station OC Motiar Rahman told bdnews24.com the bombing at the worship place run by minority Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat at the Upazila’s Mochhmoil Bakparha took place on Friday afternoon.

He said the attacker died in the incident but could not confirm his identity.

According to locals, the youth exploded the bomb that he had kept concealed under the garments during the prayers at around 1:30pm.

The attack took place amid Eid-e-Miladunnabi programmes across Bangladesh.

Rahman said at least 10 people were injured in the explosion.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/25-Dec-2015/1-killed-10-injured-in-suicide-bombing-at-ahmadiyya-place-of-worship-in-bangladesh

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Bomb blast kills community elder in Nangarhar

Dec 26 2015

A roadside bomb explosion has killed a community elder in eastern Nangarhar province.

Spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province said the incident took place in Daman area of Behsood District on Friday afternoon.

Ataullah Khogyanai added that the community elder had been driving in vehicle on which a roadside bomb exploded.

According to Khogyani, the community elder who hailed from Dara-e-Noor District died on the spot and another person driving with him in the same vehicle sustained injuries.

The community elder had reportedly visited Behsood District to mediate a dispute.

Motive behind the attack is unknown. However, security agencies have launched investigation into the case.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/bomb-blast-kills-community-elder-in-nangarhar-4423

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Bangladesh Christians celebrate Christmas, Muslims marks Eid-e-Miladunnabi in tight security

Dec 25, 2015

DHAKA, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — The Christian community in Bangladesh on Friday celebrated the festival of Christmas while Muslims marked Eid-e-Miladunnabi with great fervor amid tight security across the country.

The Christmas festivities started with prayers and other rituals at midnight in all the churches and continued till morning in around 3,000 churches across this Muslim majority country, including 60 in the capital Dhaka.

In order to thwart any untoward situation, security forces were deployed in large numbers to guard programs of Muslims and Christians throughout the country, which resulted in no report of such unwanted problems so far.

Christmas Day, called “Baro Din (Big Day) in Bangla, is a national holiday in Bangladesh and people from all religions join their about half a million Christian friends to make the most of the joyous celebrations which begin on the eve of the Christmas with singing of carols in public places like lobbies, restaurants and lounges.

Like previous years tens of thousands of people have left Dhaka for their village homes to celebrate the festival with their near and dear ones.

Full report at:

http://www.globalpost.com/article/6711118/2015/12/25/bangladesh-christians-celebrate-christmas-muslims-marks-eid-e-miladunnabi

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North America

 

Relatives of ‘Disneyland Family’ Attended Same ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ Mosque as San Bernardino Terrorists

by RAHEEM KASSAM AND LIAM DEACON25

Dec 2015

On Tuesday, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, his brother and nine of their children were pulled from a queue at Gatwick airport by British Border Agency guards and barred from travelling to the U.S. on the instruction of the country’s Homeland Security agency.

He has claimed that they were stopped from travelling to California to visit family and Disneyland merely “because they were Muslim”.

It has now been revealed that his relative in California, Muhammad Mahmood, prayed at the same mosque as U.S.-born terrorist Syed Farook and his Pakistani born wife Tashfeen – believed to be the Tablighi Jamaat-run Dar Al Uloom Islamiyah mosque.

The mosque – linked to the “Army of Darkness” group Tablighi Jamaat which itself has historical, indirect links to multiple terrorism cases – became the centre of the investigation surrounding the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, with Breitbart News reported from the scene early in December, revealing an extraordinary refusal of the mosque’s elders to co-operate with journalists.

Mr. Mahmood (the relative) is a U.S. citizen who runs an auto repair shop in San Bernardino. He told the BBC that he “did not know him [Syed Farook] personally” and would not have recognised the terrorist and could not recall ever speaking to him.

A comment from a Mr. Muhammad Mahmood from the same mosque just days after the attack in the Sacramento Bee reads: “It’s a sad thing… There will be a backlash, of course… Guess why: I’m a brown-skinned guy with a beard who is named Muhammad.”

Tablighi Jamaat is a Deobandi revivalist movement whose mandate is, according to its leading advocate Ebrahim Rangooni, to save the Muslim world “from the culture and civilisation of the Jews and the Christians…”

To this end, he has suggested cultivating “such hatred for their ways as human beings have to urine and excrement.”

On Wednesday, a British, Labour Party Member of Parliament wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron accusing Homeland Security of widespread discrimination. A spokesman for the Prime Minister then confirmed he was considering the issues and would respond in due course.

However, it was reported yesterday how a Facebook account, set up at the London address of the family, in the name of Hamza Hussain, has listed job titles such as “supervisor at Taliban and leader at al-Qaeda”.

Furthermore, on Wednesday it was revealed that Mr. Mahmood’s brother, also travelling, had been denied entry into Israel and detained eight years ago on a “lads” trip to Middle East with a “group of older gentlemen.”

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2015/12/25/relatives-muslim-disneyland-family-attended-army-darkness-mosque-san-bernardino-terrorists/

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Democrats find an unlikely ally on Muslims: George W Bush

Dec 26, 2015

Democrats are turning to an unlikely ally, George W Bush, to respond to Republican pledges to declare war on “radical Islamic terrorism.

President Barack Obama, under pressure to be more aggressive on terrorism, regularly cites his predecessor’s refusal to demonize Muslims or play into the notion of a clash between Islam and the West.

It’s a striking endorsement from a president whose political rise was predicated on opposition to the Iraq war and Bush’s hawkish approach in the Middle East. As Hillary Clinton put it, “George W Bush was right.”

Laying out her plan to fight domestic terrorism, Clinton reminded voters in Minneapolis earlier this month of Bush’s visit to a Muslim center six days after the September 11 attacks. She even quoted his words from that day about those who intimidate Muslim-Americans, “They represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.”

Bush, of course, was not referring to the 2016 Republican presidential field. Clinton certainly was. Donald Trump has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US – then enjoyed a bump in the polls. Ben Carson deems traditional Muslims unfit for the presidency.

Marco Rubio warns of a “civilizational struggle against radical, apocalyptic Islam,” making a distinction, at least, between ordinary Muslims and extremists. Ted Cruz berates Clinton and Obama incessantly for refusing to declare war on “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Clinton and Obama argue that rhetoric just helps the Islamic State group and likeminded extremists, whose recruitment pitch is based on the narrative of an apocalyptic battle between Islam and the West. The Democrats warned that proposals like Trump’s Muslim ban jeopardize national security, drawing a contrast with Bush.

“I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam,” Obama said recently. His message to today’s Republican leaders: “They should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse.”

Sen Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s top challenger for the Democratic nomination, visited a mosque this month in a show of solidarity that evoked Bush’s after 9/11. And the Democratic National Committee released an ad contrasting comments by the 2016 GOP contenders with footage of Bush declaring that “Islam is peace.”

All of that marks a rare departure for a party that has spent the last decade slamming the former president – to much electoral success. After all, even many of the Republican candidates, even if in retrospect, have criticized the war in Iraq, where Islamic State militants now control part of the country and are seeking to export terrorism around the world.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/democrats-find-an-unlikely-ally-on-muslims-george-w-bush/

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Pakistan

 

Two Militants Killed, Five Injured In Kurram Check Post Attack

ALI AKBAR

Dec 26, 2015

PESHAWAR: At least two suspected militants were killed and five others injured as security forces repulsed a militant attack carried out in Kurram tribal region from across the border in Afghanistan on Saturday, security sources said.

Security sources said Afghanistan-based militants attacked on a Pakistani security checkpost in Kurram Agency.

The militants who were armed with sophisticated weapons opened fire on the checkpost, they said. The security forces responded to the attack with retaliatory firing killing at least two attackers and injuring five.

Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghan provinces and at one point was one of the key routes for militant movement across the border.

Also read: Mortar shells from Afghanistan land in Kurram Agency

The region was claimed by the military to have been cleared of insurgents during an operation a couple of years ago, however, militants still carry out sectarian attacks and also target security forces occasionally.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228762/two-militants-killed-five-injured-in-kurram-checkpost-attack

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COAS to visit Kabul on Dec 27 to discuss Taliban talks

Dec 26, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif will travel to Kabul on Sunday amid efforts to revive peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

In a statement released on Friday, the military says the COAS will meet with Afghanistan’s political and military leadership during the day-long visit.

Gen. Sharif was initially expected to visit Kabul before the Heart of Asia meeting in Islamabad on December 9, but tensions in the relationship prevented the visit from taking place.

Pakistan’s strategy for resumption of Afghan peace talks and the army chief’s upcoming visit to Kabul was discussed when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a meeting, which was attended by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif, National Security Adviser retired Gen. Nasser Khan Janjua, ISI Chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and other officials.

The move comes two weeks after a regional conference held in Islamabad called for the resumption of Afghan-Taliban peace negotiations.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and envoys from Washington and China also attended the conference.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228737/coas-to-visit-kabul-on-dec-27-to-discuss-taliban-talks

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Islamabad’s largest Christian slum praying for survival on Christmas eve

December 25, 2015

ISLAMABAD: As the winter sun sets on Pakistan’s leafy capital Islamabad, residents of the city’s largest Christian slum use bicycles, donkey carts and their backs to haul jerry cans filled with water to their homes.

Situated on the capital’s periphery, the neighbourhood that is home to around 10,000 people is now at the heart of a debate over the rights of Christians in this predominantly Muslim country of 200 million, with city authorities claiming such settlements threaten “the beauty of Islam”.

Local authorities, determined to put an end to what they call “illegal” settlements, have recently sealed the area’s three tube wells in what residents say is an effort to drive them out — despite a Supreme Court injunction temporarily barring their eviction.

With the matter now resting before Pakistan’s top judges, the slum-dwellers’ sense of insecurity remains and many say all they want for Christmas is for their neighbourhood to become legalised — and the taps turned back on.

“We are worried, we are under a lot of stress but what we can do? We are helpless,” sighed 33-year-old housewife Nargis Masih, who has been living in the neighbourhood since it was built two years ago.

Like many others, she said her main concern is a lack of water.

Masih said she would like her family to be able to celebrate Christmas Day without being forced to gather more water from the nearest tap, three kilometres away at a bus station.

Christians make up around 1.6 per cent of Pakistan’s overwhelmingly Muslim population, with large settlements across major cities and around 60,000 in Islamabad.

They often face discrimination at work and routinely fall victim to the country’s blasphemy laws, which rights groups say are often used to carry out personal vendettas.

Indeed, the Islamabad slum is named Rimsha Colony after Pakistani Christian teenager Rimsha Masih, not related to Nargis, who was arrested in 2012 for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran.

Though the charges were ultimately proven false, Rimsha and her family moved to Canada in the face of ongoing threats from neighbours.

Christians in her neighbourhood of Mehrabadi on the outskirts of Islamabad were also forced to leave their homes, and the government gave them the Rimsha plot of land closer to the city to rebuild their lives.

Despite lofty promises made by the former government to safeguard their rights, Rimsha Colony remains unconnected to the electric and sewage grids, though it was supplied with water by three wells until a few weeks ago.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/25-Dec-2015/islamabad-s-largest-christian-slum-praying-for-survival-on-christmas-eve

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Strong earthquake jolts Pakistan, Afghanistan

Dec 26, 2015

KABUL/ISLAMABAD: A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit northern Afghanistan and Pakistan late on Friday, two months after more than 300 people were killed by a quake in the same mountainous region.

Strong shocks were felt in the Afghan capital Kabul at 11:14pm local time (1914 GMT) and in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, waking sleeping people and driving them out of their houses.

Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, officials said. The quake was also felt in the Kashmir region.

Know more: Guide: What you should do when an earthquake strikes

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake, initially reported as magnitude 6.4, was at a depth of 126.5 miles (203 km) and centred 51 miles (82 km) southeast of the town of Feyzabad, capital of the Afghan province of Badakhshan.

In Pakistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government issued a red alert soon after the earthquake.

More than 30 people were injured as houses or walls collapsed in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, said emergency rescue service spokesman Bilal Ahmed Faizi.

A total of 41 people were taken to hospitals in the city, according to doctors and rescue officials.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228754/strong-earthquake-jolts-pakistan-afghanistan

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Africa

 

Fears of new Islamist threat emerge in Nigeria

DEC 25, 2015

Nigerian soldiers had opened fire on Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the northern city of Zaria the previous day, accusing them of stopping the convoy of the army chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.

A large number of Muslim Americans have held a demonstration in NY to condemn the Nigerian military’s massacre of Shia Muslims, Press TV reports. Hundreds of Shiites were reportedly killed in an army raid in Nigeri… The army claims it responded after the IMN tried to block the convoy of Nigeria’s army chief – a charge the Shias deny.

Nigeria’s military has routinely been accused of human rights abuses in its effort to bring Boko Haram under control, with Amnesty International claiming hundreds of people have been wrongfully killed in the fight against the jihadists.

Full report at:

http://newzy.net/2015/12/25/fears-of-new-islamist-threat-emerge-in-nigeria.html

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Cameroon Christmas Unites Christians, Muslims

December 25, 2015

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON—

To encourage tolerance in Cameroon, a country recently experiencing religious-based violence by the likes of the extremist group Boko Haram, several churches have sponsored interfaith gatherings for Christmas.

At the Evangelical Lutheran Church here in this capital city, Christians traditionally have invited Muslims to help celebrate Jesus’ birth with a feast. This year, Muslim cleric Ibrahima Toukour also got five minutes to preach.

Toukour said Muslims have joined Christians at Christmas to pray for peace, security and stability in Cameroon. He said participants also are praying for God’s protection from Boko Haram, which is preaching division and hatred. Its militants kill, steal and rape while pretending to be serving God, he added.

At the Cameroon Baptist Convention, one of the country’s oldest churches, Pastor Charlemagne Nditemen said everyone – Muslims and Christians alike – was invited to celebrate the day.

Some participated in a gift exchange, Nditemen said. “Some bring food even to the church and after service we have a common meal together…. The bottom line is that Christmas is a symbol [signifying] the love of God for humanity.”

Clementine Awanga, a Lutheran congregant, said the church’s pastor has asked members to live peacefully with Muslims and to open their doors to them, as well.

A Christian, Awanga said she has welcomed not only her Christian brethren but also Muslims to her home. She said she also has honored invitations by Muslims to attend their religious events, adding that Muslim dignitaries always respect her pastor’s invitations to church events.

Growing threats

Cameroon’s neighbors have been suffering rising religious intolerance. Nigeria is threatened by the Islamist group Boko Haram and Central African Republic grapples with violent conflicts between the Christian anti-Balaka and the Muslim Seleka.

Irene Nguinga, a refugee from CAR, said Cameroon should preserve the peaceful cohabitation among its religious denominations to stop the type of carnage that her country has witnessed. There, she said, Christians and Muslims are “at each other’s throats,” fighting and killing.

Nguinga praised the peaceful co-existence of religions in Cameroon, saying its people should do everything possible to preserve it.

Of Cameroon’s 23.7 million residents, 40 percent are Christian, 20 percent are Muslim and the rest hold indigenous beliefs.

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/content/cameroon-christmas-unites-christians-muslims/3118805.html

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South Sudan president issues decree creating 28 new states

Dec 25, 2015

South Sudan’s president has issued a Christmas decree creating 28 new states in a bid that may undermine a peace deal in the African country .

The 28 states make the previous 10 regions “defunct,” state radio announced late Thursday.

Seven of the 10 previous governors have been reappointed, according to media.

Critics say President Salva Kiir’s political move constitutes a threat to a peace deal signed in August to end the country’s two-year civil war.

The peace deal rests on a power-sharing scheme in the original 10 states between Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, who also served as the former vice president, as well as other political groups.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/12/25/443196/South-Sudan-Salva-Kiir-Riek-Machar-new-states/

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/g25–%E2%80%98we%E2%80%99re-not-seeking-to-reform-islam%E2%80%99/d/105743

 

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