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President Pranab Mukherjee leaves for Delhi after southern sojourn

The Rashtrapati Nilayam is one of the Presidential Retreats in the country. Located at Bolarum, Secunderabad here, the Nilayam was built during the Nizam era and it was handed over to the Government of India after Independence. The single-storey building is located in a 90-acre estate.


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Tamil Nadu elections: BJP may claim DMDK is part of NDA, snubs Vijaykanth

While MDMK snapped ties with the BJP in December last, PMK asserted that its ties with the saffron party were only at the central level. On Saturday, Ramadoss-led party had offered the Deputy Chief Minister’s post to the BJP if elected to power, demanding that the saffron party should accept the leadership of their chief Anbumani Ramadoss.


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Pro-ISIS slogan at Rajasthan rally: BJP hits out at Congress

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Congress had uttered no word on the controversy although he expected the opposition party to make “maximum noise” as it had been raising the issue of intolerance.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

The BJP on Monday charged Congress workers with participating in a rally where protesters allegedly shouted pro-ISIS slogans in Rajasthan and sought to corner the party saying that the “champions of secularism” were silent over the issue.Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Congress had uttered no word on the controversy although he expected the opposition party to make “maximum noise” as it had been raising the issue of intolerance. “Slogans against RSS and in support of ISIS were made. But these political champions of secularism spoke no word.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They were silent. We thought they would demand sedition charges against people involved in this… “In fact, some were seen protecting the Congress leaders involved in this rally,” Naqvi alleged. “If by mistake, somebody associated with the BJP had made such comments, then they (opposition parties) would have raised a hue and cry today. This is a very dangerous and destructive mentality. And supporting such people directly or indirectly is more dangerous still,” he told a press conference.Four persons were arrested for allegedly shouting pro-ISIS slogans at a rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk district, which was held in protest against the reported “derogatory remarks” against Islam by a right-wing activist.

Arrested IOC manager was on ISIS recruitment spree

The agencies usually take the help of learned Maulvis who know Islam, parents, relatives and psychologists to de-radicalise such cases.

The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) marketing manager, Mohammad Sirajuddin, arrested from Jaipur on the alleged charges of ” working for the ISIS” had almost convinced three Maharashtra youth to joint the terror outfit in Syria.”The good part is that the Maharashtrian youths had not turned hardcore and are now being de-radicalised through some serious counseling,” said sources.Incidentally, Sirajuddin came under the radar of central agencies when he got in touch with a young woman from Hyderabad in Telangana some six months ago. The woman, in her early 20s, whose identity is being kept under wraps, was under constant watch of the agencies.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources said she was operating closed group on the Facebook and was still in the process of getting radicalised. The agencies with help of local police intervened to wean her away from the dangerous path and she currently is undergoing counseling, sources said.The agencies usually take the help of learned Maulvis who know Islam, parents, relatives and psychologists to de-radicalise such cases.According to agency officials who continuously tracked Sirajuddin for 6 months, the IOC manager is highly radicalised and though not a formal member of the ISIS was on a recruitment spree for the terror outfit.”He was in the process of recruiting some 25 fighters for the ISIS, including 15-20 from foreign countries. He was targeting 3 to four boys in Maharashtra,” said sources.For this purpose he had created several groups on Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and other social media platforms.Thirty-year-old Sirajuddin, hailing from M B Nagar in Gulbarga, Karnataka, was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Another Indian youth deserts Islamic State

Although, the agency officials are tight-lipped about the country where he came under the scanner of law enforcement agencies, sources pointed out that he was moved to a third country from where his deportation has been planned.

The craze to fight for Islamic State seems to be on the wane among Indian youths who in their zest to serve the terror organisation headed for Iraq and Syria taking enormous risk. The latest example is of a youth from Tamil Nadu. Suspected to have been in touch with IS recruiters and propagandists, he is set to be deported back to India on Friday, said sources in central intelligence agencies.Although, the agency officials are tight-lipped about the country where he came under the scanner of law enforcement agencies, sources pointed out that he was moved to a third country from where his deportation has been planned.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is good news for us as it shows that the youth are getting disenchanted and disillusioned from the ISIS after seeing its actual character from close quarters. They are also feeling the pain of extreme racism at the hands of their Arab handlers that goes totally against the egalitarian approach of Islam. We hope to see more such desertions,” said sources.Law enforcement agencies in India are not registering case against youths, who have been deported from abroad on charges of radicalisation. Instead, they are put under 24X7 surveillance and counselled by officials if they are not highly radicalised and could be de-radicalised and brought back into the mainstream society. But, before that any suspected radicalised youth is questioned at length to ascertain about the level of involvement with the IS recruiters and propagandists.So far 23 Indian youths have joined IS of which six have reportedly been killed in IS territory. They include Athif Vaseem Mohammad, 25, resident of Adilabad, Telangana, Mohammad Umar Subhan and Faiz Masood, 28, of Bangalore, Saheem Farooque Tanki from Kalyan (Thane) in Maharashtra and two Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorists Maulana Abdul Qadir Sultan Armar, 29, from Bhatkal in Karnataka and Mohammad Sajid, 30, from Azamgarh, UP.

Will help curb ISIS but stop anti-Muslim comment by BJP leaders, Shia body asks PM Modi

Raza said there is nothing Islamic about ISIS – the Islamic State – and their actions are evil and outside the boundaries set by Islam

A prominent body of Shias on Thursday said the community is prepared to give all support to the government to help curb ISIS activities in the country but asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rein in BJP MPs and leaders from making statements against Muslims.”We are with central government. We will support and give any information to curb ISIS and terrorist activities in India. “At the same time, we would like the Prime Minister to rein in his MPs and leaders from making any ugly statements against Muslims,” Anjuman-E-Imamia President Syed Zamin Raza told PTI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raza said there is nothing Islamic about ISIS – the Islamic State – and their actions are evil and outside the boundaries set by Islam. Speaking on the sidelines of the commemoration of martyrs of the Battle of Karbala, Raza said a provocative and an emotive speech against Muslims has the potential to spoil the good work done to check ISIS activities in India. “A minute’s speech against Muslims will spoil the good work of curbing ISIS activities in the country,” he said.Raza also accused USA and some sections of Wahabi cult in Saudi Arabia of supporting global terrorism. “It is the US and some section of Wahabi cult in Saudi, who are spreading terrorism. Sunnis, however, are not terrorists. Why does the US does not take any action against such cult but are out to dismantle kingdoms of other Muslim countries. Why this double standard?” he asked.Asked whether AEI has chalked out any strategy to stop Muslims from joining ISIS, Raza said an event will be held next month where all important leaders of Islamic communities will be present and discuss terrorism perpetrated by ISIS and other terrorist outfits including Taliban and Al-Qaeda.Raza said ISIS is a threat to humanity and it cannot be defeated unless all work together with the help of technology at people’s disposal. He said the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Turkey are against divine and human laws. “We the Shia Muslim community join the nation in calling for swift apprehension and stiff punishment of the perpetrators,” he said.

Firstpost Salon: India is in a unique position to broker world peace, stop Third World War, says Tarek Fatah

India should realise her potential, play global peacemaker and stop going after Aamir Khan, advised Tarek Fatah, who identifies himself as an Indian born in Pakistan; a Punjabi born in Islam; an immigrant in Canada with a Muslim consciousness.

The Canadian writer, broadcaster, and liberal activist was at his sharpest as a guest on Thursday evening at Firstpost Salon, educating and entertaining the audience with his erudition shorn of all political correctness.

Tarek Fatah during the Firstpost Salon. FirstpostTarek Fatah during the Firstpost Salon. Firstpost

Tarek Fatah during the Firstpost Salon. Firstpost

During the course of the conversation with former founder-CEO at Natgrid and senior fellow at Observer Research Foundation Raghu Raman, Fatah expressed surprise that no one in India seems to have registered the fact that a global crisis is at hand and India is uniquely placed as the only country to stop an imminent Third World War.

“It seems that no one in India knows that Turkey and Russia have a problem. First time since the Second World War, a Nato western aircraft has shot down a Russian jet. That’s not the end of it.

“Then, it’s inside Syria. Not just that, they sent jihadis in to kill the parachuting pilots. That’s a war crime. And then a helicopter sent there to rescue the pilots is shot down! India in the meantime is discussing what Aamir Khan has said and what Kiran has replied,” he said.

“Either the Indians are so introverted that they don’t know what’s happening around them or they are busy looking for coals in a goldmine.”

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Fatah said he should focus his energies in brokering world peace instead of going around the world speaking to fellow Indians.

“India is very close to Russia. Quite friendly with Turkey. India has no obligations, no ally. Nothing against any country. She is uniquely positioned. Instead of going to Singapore and talking about food and trains, Prime Minister Modi should call the ambassadors of both countries and hold a conference, asking them to cool it,” Fatah said.

“Remember these are nuclear powers in the Balkans and should anything go awry, millions of people in Europe would be affected.

“India is letting Turkey trigger a war between Russia and USA so that ISIS may stay alive!”

And in the bargain, India would legitimately stake a claim in the Security Council, felt Fatah.

“India should broker peace between the US and China. You need to create the claim where people say of course India should be at the Security Council. India has pulled millions out of poverty, moved ahead of famines which were a regular feature in 60s and 70s.

“So many people including cab drivers have mobile phones. In their own humble way, India should make its presence felt as global peacemaker,” felt Fatah.

On the question of rigidity in religion, Fatah opined that Hinduism is naturally pluralistic with its multiplicity of religious texts whereas Christianity or Islam are monolithic.

“If there is one book, and that’s the word of god, can you imagine someone criticising it and staying alive?”

“You can do a PK in India which becomes a multi-crore blockbuster due to Hindus’ tolerance and self-deprecating humour but it’s impossible to do such a movie in Pakistan.”

“If I were to attempt making even an ‘OK’ instead of ‘PK’ in Pakistan, I wouldn’t stay alive to watch that movie.”

On being a true Muslim, Fatah said: “A Muslim is essentially a Jew who has adapted Judaism to Arab pagan culture.”

Calling for a return to the Muslim ethos, Fatah said a “true Muslim cannot lie. And he doesn’t believe in hijab, naqab, jihad or other such un-Islamic practices.”

On ISIS gaining a foothold in the subcontinent, Fatah, true to his form, had an unconventional take:”ISIS mentality is already here. Wiping out an ethnicity (Hindus from Kashmir) is ISIS mentality. You have wiped out the original inhabitants of Kashmir and made them refugees in their own country.”

Fatah also weighed in on the ‘intolerance’ debate, saying “the present intolerance debate is political, but in India everything is.”

“Real intolerance is not religious intolerance but the fact that nobody would share their dinner on the same table with their driver or chauffer. That’s always been there in India.”

When it comes to calling spade a spade, there is no one better than Fatah.

Mumbai’s Mahim dargah develops app to fight ISIS influence among Muslim youth in India

The app will connect all Muslim youth, men and women via their social networking accounts of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from across the nation to create an anti-ISIS campaign.

Islamic scholars, leaders and representatives of various religious communities voice their opinions against ISIS at a presser outside the Mahim dargah, on Thursday.
Kunal Chonkar
To join the fight against terror propagated by ISIS, the Mahim Dargah trust has developed a first-of-a-kind application. In an attempt to stop indoctrination, radicalisation and recruitment of youths from India into the terrorist organisation, the Pir Makhdum Saheb Charitable Trust (PMSCT) has launched the app titled under its own name.Connecting over 10, 000 small and large Muslim communities across India, the app will ensure much-needed vigilance into the spreading menace of cyber-terror training and recruitment carried out by ISIS in the nation.Developed by a team of Information Technology (IT) students, associated with PMSCT, the app has already connected around 30, 000 youth from Mumbai, claimed Mufti Manzoor Ziyaee, Islamic advisor to the trust.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “The app features the correct teachings of Islam, articles and speeches by Islamic scholars. It also has an array of programmes related to anti-terror campaigns and community-connect initiatives,” Ziyaee told iamin. The news of four youths from Kalyan, including engineering student Areeb Majeed, having been recruited by ISIS last year was the reason behind the Dargah trust’s initiative to develop the app. They hope it will counter the social media sites used by the terror outfit to influence young men.”Nowadays, Islam can be preached via social networking sites. For betterment of the world and humanity, the right message and teachings will be upheld by the app and thus, all spiritual leaders of the community supported it,” Ziyaee added.The app will connect all Muslim youth, men and women via their social networking accounts of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from across the nation to create an anti-ISIS campaign. In the first phase of the campaign, the trust will also counsel youth from Kalyan, Thane, Mumbai, Pune and other cities in the state to stay away from any links or connections with any radical outfit. In the second phase, around 1, 000 more apps, twitter handles and Facebook accounts are going to be started to spread awareness against ISIS in India.
This article was first published on For more such hyperlocal stories, visit their website.

Kerala journalist attacked over her Facebook post on child sexual abuse in madrasas

She also states that her Facebook account was blocked for a while then deactivated and activated again.

VP Rajeena (Image courtesy: Facebook)

VP Rajeena, a journalist from Kerala, has become the victim of threats and abuses after she alleged that her classmates had faced sexual harassment in a madrasa years ago. A report by The News Minute reports that in a Facebook post, Rajeena wrote about a teacher at a Sunni madarasa in Kozhikode, who would apparently ‘feel up’ her male classmates’ private parts. She went on to add that the young boys were asked to unzip their pants by the ‘Ustad’ or teacher and would touch them inappropriately. Another teacher aged over 60, would also allegedly sexually abuse minor girls. Rajeena says that she was aware of such incidents throughout her six years at the madarasa.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>കൃത്യമായ അജണ്ടകളോടെയുള്ള അരാഷ്ട്രീയ വൽക്കരണം വ്യക്തികൾക്ക് അകത്തും പുറത്തും ശക്തമായി സംഭവിച്ചു കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. അത് ഏറ…
Posted by VP Rajeena on Friday, November 20, 2015As soon as Rajeena put up the post on Facebook, she started to receive innumerable threats and abuses on her page and in her message box. She refused to back down, saying she would remain fearless. Due to the overwhelming number of complaints filed against her, her Facebook account ended up being blocked for a while.ഒരു പത്തിരുപത് കൊല്ലം മുമ്പാണ് .പഠിച്ചത് സുന്നി മദ്രസയിലാണ്. അപ്പോ ഏത് സുന്നി എന്ന് ചോദിച്ച് അവിടെയും തർക്കിക്കാൻ ഓട്ട ന…
Posted by VP Rajeena on Saturday, November 21, 2015
Rajeena believes she is being targeted because people saw her as attacking her own religion of Islam. She told The Hindu, “In this case, their intolerance to my opinion is due to the fact that I am a woman from their community. They are scared of more women speaking out. Instead of targeting me, they should try to ensure that women from the community get justice. Being silent about issues is not the solution.”

Desertions may leave Islamic State high and dry

Corruption is one of the main reasons for desertion, foreign intelligence agencies input shared with India reveals. The deserters interrogation report clearly mentioned that oil business controlled by few commanders and senior ISIS officials called as ‘Emirs’ have resulted in widespread corruption in the ISIS held territory which it claims as perfect Islamic society in its propaganda videos.

All is not well within the Islamic State (IS) that apparently allows only hardened fanatic Muslims to join to further the aim of establishing and expanding the Islamic Caliphate in its purest form. As many as 58 fighters who had committed themselves to further the cause of Caliphate have deserted the IS from January 2014 to August 2015, claims Intelligence input collated by central security agencies in collaboration with the foreign intelligence agencies.The maximum desertions, 21, have taken among Syrians followed by 9 from Saudi Arabia, 4 each from Indonesia and Turkey. Two Indians are also among the 58 deserters, the report says. This is besides the figure of deserting fighters who killed by the ISIS. Their number runs close to 1000 fighters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is not a small figure if you look at what IS promised and why youth having Jihadists frame of mind joined it. It definitely indicates that those who went to join it and were even ready to die for it have found it corruption ridden, suffering from worst kind of racism, and far away from the purity of Islam. This is a telltale sign of ISIS imminent downfall in near future. The rot has set in,” said an intelligence official who monitors the ISIS closely.Corruption is one of the main reasons for desertion, foreign intelligence agencies input shared with India reveals. The deserters interrogation report clearly mentioned that oil business controlled by few commanders and senior ISIS officials called as ‘Emirs’ have resulted in widespread corruption in the ISIS held territory which it claims as perfect Islamic society in its propaganda videos.The deserters admitted that huge sums are paid to favourites of commanders. Syrians, who tops the chart in deserting the outfit, told the interrogators that privileges -attractive houses and money – is given to Westerners who have joined the outfit.Infighting ‘fitna’ is also a potent reason for them to abandon the ISIS and its ideology. Deserters during the questioning pointed out raging battle with Al-Qaeda affiliate ‘Jabhat al- Nusra’ was religiously illegitimate as fighting and killing a Sunni Muslim was against ISIS ideology and in violation of Islamic rules.”Many defectors argued that ISIS fight is focused on rebel groups and executing traitors from the same community. They felt disillusioned after witnessing random killing of civilians and public execution of fellow Muslims. This was not the Jihad they had imagined while joining the outfit,” the intelligence input stated.The disenchantment with ISIS among the deserters clearly shows that brutality and random killing of Muslims with corrupt commanders at the help of affairs has reduced the outfit to another bandit group which will eventually result in its quick downfall, the intelligence collected and collated by Indian security agencies further stated.

Saudi funding fans ultra-conservative Islam in India; the political, ideological response to it remains meek

By Sunil Raman

For years, the growing following and influence of ultra-conservative Islamist ideology in parts of Europe including Belgium, France and even Scandinavian countries has been talked and written about. Sometimes attacks on small scale were ignored as petty crimes or for reasons of political correctness, these were pushed under the carpet as Europe tried hard to project its image as a multi-cultural and multi-religious project where people of all faiths were free to follow and propagate their religious beliefs.

Until the 7 July, 2005 London attacks, Britain loved to show its openness to ideas and people even if they as UK residents preached hatred and opposition to Westminster style of democracy. A radical Egyptian cleric Abu Hamza was treated virtually as a state guest as he preached radical doctrine to Muslims in London and UK. Many in India will remember the freedom given to Khalistani Sikh organisations and Tamil Tigers by British authorities. Radical groups were allowed to spread hatred in the name of freedom and free speech.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

If the London attacks forced British authorities to wake up to the threat posed by such groups and the ideas they propagated, the November 2015 attacks in Paris seem to have woken up mainstream political parties in Europe to such a threat. Suddenly, Belgium is viewed as a weak link and liberal democracies have realised the danger of giving “unfettered” freedom to Islamic groups.

Flirtation with Saudi Arabia saw the rise of fancy mosques across the continent where many clerics preached a return to “pure Islamic ideals” as espoused in the Quran. Puritanical Wahabi ideology was and continues to be propagated from many of these mosques across the world, where clerics are not only sowing seeds of hatred against liberal democracies but also against Shia Muslims.

The last few years witnessed Salafis grow and spread with great speed across the globe as well. Their brand of Islam that considers all ideas and practices of Muslims that are not in conjunction with the Holy Book as heretical has taken root across the continent, among a growing population of young Muslims who are being told day in and day out that they must return to their roots.

Salafis are more conservative and do not accept many of the beliefs of Sunni Muslims, and they are more aggressively opposed to any cultural influence impacting Muslim practices. They are greater opponents of mysticism, and reject ideas of saints and their shrines as unacceptable. This makes South Asian Islam as nothing short of heretical. Men and women must not mix with non-Muslims, give up any form of worship such as visits to Sufi shrines and abjure any act that could be construed as un-Islamic.

Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam that it has successfully marketed to millions across Asia, Africa and now Europe through generous financial payoffs and donations, has impacted younger population of Muslims in parts of India for last few years.

India has also over the years seen more and more Muslims, particularly the younger population, get attracted to preachings of ultra-conservative clerics. This is not to say that they are supporters of radical groups like the Islamic State and Taliban. But, the change in the complexion of discourse within sections of Muslim population, their responses and growing assertion of some people that there is need to abandon centuries old brand of South Asian Islam are a natural consequence of years of government indifference, some complicity and failure to recognise what/how Saudi money was actually contributing to a change in the way many Muslims think.

A few months ago Oman flagged concern about growing radicalisation of thousands of Muslim workers from India in the Gulf country.

The growing pressure of Wahabis to push their conservative ideology has disturbed sections of Sunnis in India and a few months ago some of its leaders sought government intervention to check its spread.

The Sunni Wakf Board fears that Wahabis could take over a majority of shrines and ‘dargahs’ of Sunnis allowing terror groups like IS inroads into the country. Wahabi clerics and preachers have had little difficulty in getting visas to address and influence congregations across the country.

Salafis in Bengaluru

In the last few years Salafis have managed to take root in large parts of the country including Benguluru which boasts of 42-odd Salafi mosques that preach ideas that are repugnant to centuries-old Islamic traditions in India. That it was not easy to set up Salafi mosques due to opposition from existing Islamic groups in Bengaluru is well acknowledged by the Salafi trust on its official website. “There were physical fights, social boycott, warnings and torture for the above members for bringing the Salafi methodology in their locality” before they managed to build Salafi mosques, states its official website.

Initial opposition later dissolved and they managed to expand their influence in the city and among its young population,

I recall meeting a young Muslim in Benguluru some years ago who was forthright in his criticism of his mother and sister’s “un-Islamic” acts of visiting Sufi shrines and praying at mazars of saints. He also minced no words to state his opposition to Shias terming them as non-Muslims. This young educated man was a regular at a Salafi mosque in Koramangala area, home to wealthy people such as Infosys and Wipro chiefs.

Kerala has for many years seen a subtle shift in the way women dress up, use of headscarves, and even design for new mosques. In fact, preachers from Muslim Brotherhood have had access to Kerala in last several years where institutions like the Islamic Mission Trust have used foreign funding to set up educational and social institutions to widen their reach and influence.

Salafi organisations like Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen have been around since 1950s but post-1992’s Babri Masjid demolition and the turn of the new century, they have witnessed growth and radicalisation of minds that is a matter of concern.

Al-Jamiya Al-Islamia in Malappuram (north Kerala) with well-defined objectives to provide leadership for teaching, training and research in Arabic Language and Literature has emerged as a new institution that preaches conservative Islam. Saudi Arabia pledged millions of Saudi Riyals to them ostensibly for constructing an arts and science college building. In 2003, it became a university “and a dream come true” when a celebrated international scholar Sheikh Yusuful Qardawi declared it a university. Qardawi, now in exile in Qatar, belongs to Muslim Brotherhood. According to international websites he is known for his militant religious rulings and political commentary in support of acts of terrorism and repression of women.

It also pledged one million Saudi Riyal to the construction of a nursing college. A similar amount was also pledged to Palghat Mujahideen Arabic College Committee in Kerala for the purpose of extending an existing medical college and the Karuma hospital building.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, Saudi Riyals were donated to establish a madrasa building and a vocational centre for girls in Mirzapur and Siddharth Nagar. Schools and colleges with Arabic names prominently stick out across western UP today. Attempts to also link Muslim identity with Saudi Arabia, reminiscent of what happened in Pakistan, need to be addressed politically and ideologically.

UP, Kerala and Karnataka examples merely illustrate how ultra-conservative ideas alien to Muslims in India are now getting greater attention and following among sections of Muslims because of inadequate political understanding and response. Political parties in India that claim to be flag-bearers of secularism need to look beyond short term electoral gains to formulate a response to Wahabis and Salafis gaining mindspace among sections of world’s third largest Muslim population.

The writer is a former BBC journalist

Islam’s name misused for killing innocents: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind condemns Paris attacks

The organisation’s general secretary and former MP, Maulana Mahmood Madani also claimed that Muslims are being unnecessarily attacked and connected with terrorists.
File Image
Condemning the terror attack in Paris, Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind on Tuesday said that Islam’s name is being misused by killing innocent people in name of the religion.The organisation’s general secretary and former MP, Maulana Mahmood Madani also claimed that Muslims are being unnecessarily attacked and connected with terrorists. “It is unfortunate that certain ‘elements’, intentionally or unintentionally attribute these mindless act of violence with Islam and connect terrorists with jihadis. Waging jihad is a positive act intended to root out evils from the society not killing innocent people,” Madani said during a press conference here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is quite obvious that accusing Muslims and holding them responsible for these ghastly killings will no doubt strengthen the deviated radical forces, who in no way represent Islam,” he said. Condemning the terror strikes in Paris, Turkey and Lebanon, Madani said that Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and its affiliate organisations will stage protests tomorrow in various parts of the country.Disagreeing with UP Minister Azam Khan’s remarks that Paris terror attack could be a “reaction” to the “killing of innocents” in Arab countries by the “superpowers”, Madani said that no such “reactions” can be justified and there is not place for any reactions in Islam. The Muslim leader also asked powerful nations to stop providing patronage to terror groups.”Terrorists have spread a painful atmosphere for Muslims across the world and terror activities are being used as a pretext to attack Islam. “Till the time powerful nations stop providing patronage to terror groups, terrorism cannot be eliminated from the world,” he said.

Obama vows effort to eliminate Islamic State as G20 seeks common Syria strategy | Reuters

BELEK, Turkey U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Sunday to step up efforts to eliminate Islamic State in Syria and prevent it from carrying out attacks like those in Paris, while European leaders urged Russia to focus its military efforts on the radical Islamists.

Speaking at a G20 leaders summit in Turkey, Obama described the killings in Paris claimed by Islamic State as an attack on the civilised world and said the United States would work with France to hunt down those responsible.

The two-day summit brings Obama and fellow world leaders just 500 km (310 miles) from Syria, where a 4-1/2-year conflict has transformed Islamic State into a global security threat and spawned Europe’s largest migration flows since World War Two.

“Traditionally the G20 has been a forum primarily to discuss economic issues facing the globe … (but) the sky has been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in Paris just a day and a half ago,” Obama said in a statement after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“The United States and its allies will redouble efforts to find a peaceful solution in Syria and prevent Islamic State militants from perpetrating attacks like those in Paris.”

Obama and his Western allies now face the question of how the West should respond after Islamic State again demonstrated it posed a threat far beyond its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

Washington already expects France to retaliate by taking on a larger role in the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign against Islamic State.

But European Council President Donald Tusk said Russia too should focus its military operations on Islamic State, rather than on the Syrian opposition battling President Bashar al-Assad, urging cooperation between Washington and Moscow.

“It should be our common aim to coordinate our actions against Daesh (IS) and for sure the cooperation between the United States and Russia is a crucial one,” he said.


Russia joined the conflict a month and a half ago with air strikes in Syria, but has been targeting mainly areas controlled by the moderate Syrian opposition fighting Assad, its ally, rather than Islamic State, its critics say.

Turkey and Western allies, by contrast, want Assad out.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the renewed sense of urgency to find a solution to the war in Syria after the Paris attacks, adding the world had a “rare moment” of diplomatic opportunity to end the violence.

Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have no formal bilateral meeting planned. As the leaders moved into place for a group photo on Sunday, Putin approached Obama and they shook hands, exchanging words for only a few brief moments.

Obama is also seeking to coax other European and Middle Eastern countries into more tangible steps to show their military commitment and will hold a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, U.S. officials said. In a call late last month, the two leaders affirmed the need to cooperate in fighting Islamic State.

Obama said he had also discussed in his meeting with Erdogan the progress made by foreign ministers in Vienna, who on Saturday outlined a plan for a political process in Syria leading to elections within two years, although differences over Assad’s fate still remained.


The coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris on Friday puts Obama and other leaders of the world’s major economies under increased pressure to find common cause.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Washington itself has an appetite for much deeper involvement after already stepping up air strikes and committing small numbers of special operations troops to northern Syria to advise opposition forces in the fight against Islamic State.

The Paris carnage, in which 129 people were killed in attacks on a concert hall, restaurants, bars and a sports stadium, also poses a major challenge for Europe, with populist leaders rushing to demand an end to an influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

In a diplomatic coup for Europe and for Turkey, the G20 leaders will agree that migration is a global problem that must be addressed in a coordinated way, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters, although it has yet to be accepted by all and is due to be published only on Monday.

Europe and Turkey, the most heavily hit by the crisis, had been pushing for the G20 to recognise the issue as a global problem and help to deal with it financially, despite opposition from China, India and Russia. A million migrants from the Middle East and Africa are expected to come to Europe this year alone.

According to a separate statement due to be released later on Sunday, a draft of which was also seen by Reuters, they also agreed to step up border controls and aviation security in the wake of the Paris attacks, which they condemned as “heinous”.

The summit follows not only the Paris attacks but also comes two weeks after a suspected bomb attack on a Russian airliner killed 224 people in the Sinai Peninsula.

It also comes just over a month after two suspected Islamic State suicide bombers blew themselves up in Ankara, killing more than 100 people in Turkey’s worst such attack.

(Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly, Denis Dyomkin, Jan Strupczewski, Dasha Afanasieva, David Dolan, Humeya Pamuk, Orhan Coskun, Asli Kandemir; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Keith Weir)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Paris attacks brings back haunting memories to Mumbai’s 26/11 victims

Ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based militant organisation, had carried out a series of 12 coordinated attacks lasting four days across Mumbai in November 2008, killing 164 people and injuring over 300.
File Photo
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The deadly attacks in Paris claimed to be orchestrated by Islamic State group, that left 129 people dead and over 350 wounded, has brought back the haunting memories of horror, pain and fear to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage. Ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based militant organisation, had carried out a series of 12 coordinated attacks lasting four days across Mumbai in November 2008, killing 164 people and injuring over 300.Vinita Kamte, the wife of Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte who lost his life fighting the terrorists in Mumbai in 2008, said the members of ISIS, that has claimed responsibility for the attacks, should understand that instead of spreading their religion they are bringing a bad name to the followers of Islam who believe in non-violence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am shocked at the magnitude of the Paris attacks. It is all the more concerning that such kind of attacks are happening in a western country that has some of the best security measures in place,” she said.Incidents like these, where innocent, unarmed people are killed, only make one wonder when will all this end, she said.”You cannot spread your religion like this. On the contrary, these people are only causing harm because people who follow the religion but believe in non-violence also get labelled then,” she said.Kamte said though she has learnt to cope up with her loss, such incidents only bring back the bad memories, and the only solace is the good times spent with her husband.39-year-old Shamim Shaikh, who lost six of his kin on the night of November 26, 2008, says the Paris attack has only brought back memories of fear and the pain that his other family members had to go through.”There was a strange atmosphere that night. We were to go to our native place then, but, as soon as we entered the station, we saw that people were running helter-skelter. Till the time we understood what was happening, six persons from my family were already dead,” he told”As soon as we heard that such an attack has happened in Paris, our heartbeat almost stopped. We get this feeling again and again that we should not live in big cities. It is better to live in our village, eat once a day, but at least live safely,” Shaikh said. He said that those spreading terror in the name of Islam are not really Muslims, because the religion stands for peace.”Islam advocates peace. It never teaches us to be terrorists. Such people have no relation to Islam except that they bear our names. A Muslim can never be a terrorist,” he said.Santosh Singh, whose wife and seven-year-old son suffered serious bullet injuries at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 2008, said only those who have been through “hell” can understand the plight of the families whose members have been killed in Paris.”The Paris attack has made us relive those moments. Only we can feel what they are going through right now. People who have not gone through hell can never understand the pain of those who have lived through the carnage,” he said.”I fail to understand what do these terrorists get by killing innocent people? My wife and my son remained in the hospital for three months after the incident. Even today she is grappling with stomach complications. She cannot even go out on her own, someone has to assist her, lest she falls down,” Singh revealed.

Disbelief, panic as Paris struck a second time | Reuters

PARIS It should have been a Friday night like any other in central Paris, with locals and visitors alike watching a show, enjoying a meal or shrugging off the cares of the week over a drink.

But for the second time in less than a year, France and the world are asking how carnage could strike at the heart of this much-loved city, including at a concert hall barely a few hundred steps from January’s deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

“As we went to our car we saw dozens of people running out of the Bataclan,” local resident Caterina Giardino, an Italian national, said of the 19th century theatre-turned-music venue where gunman clad in black systematically killed nearly 100.

“Many of them were covered with blood, people were screaming,” she added, sitting on a bench with a friend as she recalled how one young man emerged from the concert hall with the bloody imprint of a hand on his shirt.

The exact sequence of gun and bomb assaults on the concert hall, a sports stadium and restaurants in the French capital that left at least 120 dead is still unclear.

The first blast was heard at 9.17 p.m. (2017 GMT) outside the Stade de France national sports stadium, where France and Germany were playing a friendly soccer international in the presence of President Francois Hollande. Spectators distinctly heard a second detonation about two minutes later.

No claim of responsibility has been made so far, but witnesses at the Bataclan music venue heard the killers shout Islamic slogans and condemn France’s role in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria.

Inside the hall, California-based rock band Eagles of Death Metal were on stage promoting their fourth album when the audience began to notice something was not right.

“I turned round and I saw one of these attackers, he was very young, barely 20, with a small beard,” Julien Pearce, a reporter for Europe 1 radio who was in the theatre said.

“At first we thought it was part of the show, pyrotechnics or whatever. But when I turned round and saw him with his assault rifle and saw flames coming from his barrel, I understood it was no joke,” he added.

As the gunman paused to reload, Pearce managed to sneak round the side of the stage and out through an exit. But witnesses described how others were not so lucky.

“People were falling like dominoes,” said a 22-year-old message-runner who gave his name as Toon. He had walked through the doors of the theatre just as three gunmen began shooting indiscriminately at those inside.

“One of the guys had a big hat. They were all dressed in black,” he said, adding that he turned on his heels and fled.

Early indications were that members of the band, formed in the late 1990s by lifelong friends Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, were safe. Hughes’ mother, Jo Ellen Hughes, told a Reuters reporter outside her home in Palm Desert, California, that she had spoken to her son by telephone after the attack and that he was unhurt but “very upset and shaken.”

Outside the venue, there was panic. Paris police chief Michel Cadot told local television the gunman had sprayed the terraces of several nearby cafes with bullets before entering the hall.

One witness saw a man racing down a street outside screaming “War’s broken out!” A young Parisian said he and 60 others hid for an hour in the cellar of a bar on a street behind the theatre.

Emergency services were by now in full swing. Dozens of ambulances were racing to the Bataclan. Soldiers in camouflage fatigues were gathering on the nearby Bastille Square.

Shortly after midnight Paris time, a handful of loud bangs were heard coming from the theatre, not long after Hollande had issued a statement saying operations were under way to free those still in the theatre.

“The police assault was extremely difficult. The terrorists who locked themselves in one of the floor had explosives belts which they detonated, and the four were killed during the assault,” said Cadot.

Hollande was quick to declare a state of emergency after what he called a terrorist attack of unprecedented scale on French soil. The Interior Ministry declined to say whether there were further gunmen on the loose.

For his government, as for the French, the coming days are likely to raise as many questions as answers.

If the attack was linked to France’s role in Syria, why was it yet again targeted above other members of the U.S.-led coalition?

Could the authorities, who already had the country on a heightened level of security and had promised improved surveillance after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, have done more to prevent this new assaults?

And will the French, who in January defiantly came out on the streets in their hundreds of thousands to mourn the Charlie Hebdo victims, have the courage to overcome their growing security fears and do the same a second time?

(Additional reporting by Bate-Felix Tabe-Tabi and Ingrid Melander in Paris; Omar Younis in Palm Desert and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; writing by Mark John; editing by Paul Taylor)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Fight over Tipu Sultan’s true legacy: Shiv Sena angry about Shivaji comparisons

“Tipu Sultan was a ruthless ruler who massacred Hindus and did not believe in the existence of any other religion except Islam. He had demolished temples and churches. And they say he was a good ruler?” Sawant told PTI.

File Photo

Joining the row over Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations, the Shiv Sena termed the 18th century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom as “ruthless” and accused the Congress government in Karnataka of following a “divisive policy”. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant also objected to parallels being drawn between Tipu Sultan and Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.”Tipu Sultan was a ruthless ruler who massacred Hindus and did not believe in the existence of any other religion except Islam. He had demolished temples and churches. And they say he was a good ruler?” Sawant told PTI.Sawant expressed surprise over Tipu Sultan being remembered “suddenly” so many years after Independence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government has surprisingly and suddenly remembered Tipu Sultan now after 67 years of India’s Independence. Today they remembered him? Why?” he asked. “This is a divisive policy (of the Karnataka government),” he alleged. “Governments in Karnataka, whether previous ones or current, are known for the Sultani reign. Look at the way they treat the Marathi people who are fighting in a democratic way for the last sixty years (over the border issue). So, naturally, they will adore the Sultan”, Sawant said.Sawant also came down heavily on those drawing parallels with Tipu Sultan and Maratha Warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji. “How can he be compared with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who never did any wrong, never violated the modesty of women and the sanctity of religious places. Shivaji was a judicious leader, while Tipu Sultan was not.” “Shivaji had compassion for the poor and the sons of the soil irrespective of their caste, creed, religion. All these qualities were not there in Tipu,” he said. Any person who is ready to sacrifice his life for the nation’s peace and development will be considered “our own man” irrespective of his religion, the Sena leader asserted. “It is not the question of Muslims or Hindus, but of patriotism. One who believes in this country and is ready to sacrifice his life for the country’s peace and development is our own man irrespective of his region, but Tipu Sultan did not believe in all this. Show me a single example which would prove he did,” Sawant said. Eminent writer Girish Karnad had recently said Tipu Sultan would have had enjoyed the same status as Shivaji if he was a Hindu and not a Muslim. Karnad and BJP MP Prathap Simha have allegedly received death threats on social media as a controversy rages in Karnataka over official birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. On Tuesday, a VHP leader had died and several others were injured when violence erupted over the celebrationsat Madikeri. Tipu Sultan is a sensitive issue in Kodagu district.Thousands of Kodavas (Coorgis), considered a martial race, were seized and held captive by Tipu Sultan. According to a version of history, the captured Kodavas were forcibly converted to Islam, tortured and killed, and their temples destroyed. However, this view is disputed by several historians who see Tipu Sultan as a secular and modern ruler who took on the the British.

Was Tipu Sultan a secular king or a murderer of Hindus? The answer isn’t very simple

Tipu Sultan’s “secular” or “religious” actions, while important from a historical perspective, should not be the reason for anyone’s death in this day and age.

Wikimedia Commons
On Tuesday, things in Karnataka turned ugly when a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist named DS Kuttappa was allegedly killed in Madikeri, after clashes broke out over the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. According to the police, Kuttappa suffered head injuries and died on the spot.The violence erupted after the ruling Congress government in the state announced statewide celebrations for Tipu Jayanti for the first time, which were boycotted by the BJP and their ideological brethren, who see Sultan as a religious bigot. However, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah defended the move, saying Tipu was a secular leader. “Tipu Sultan was a secular ruler. He was a model king in the entire country. A section of people criticise him out of prejudice,” he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tipu Sultan’s actions in history are up for debate, and it’s impossible to place him into comfortable modern brackets like ‘secular leader’ or ‘Hindu killer’ or ‘freedom fighter’.So was Tipu a secular king or a murderer of Hindus?While some consider Tipu a national hero, others paint him as a Hindu-killing king who forced people to convert to Islam. The latter was a view backed by the British, who he fought against after allying with the French.In a Guardian article, William Dalrymple says it was the British who painted Tipu as a tyrant. He writes: “There was no doubt who would be the first to be targeted: a Muslim dictator whose family had usurped power in a military coup. According to British sources, this chief of state was an “intolerant bigot”, a “furious fanatic” with a “rooted and inveterate hatred of Europeans”, who had “perpetually on his tongue the projects of jihad”. He was also deemed to be “oppressive and unjust … [a] sanguinary tyrant, [and a] perfidious negotiator”.”He adds that what worried the British was that Tipu was an able fighter who used ‘weapons of the West’ against their inventors, which at times were superior to the East India Company’s old matchlocks. He also claims that Tipu continued the Indo-Islamic tradition of syncretism, even though he did destroy Hindu temples conquered in war, while supporting temples which fell under his kingdom.Meanwhile, in a Firstpost article, MA Deviah talks about why celebrating Tipu Jayanti is insulting to various people in the region, particularly in places like Coorg, Mangalore and Kerala. He writes: “…(they) regard Tipu Sultan as a tyrant who destroyed temples, killed non-Muslims, and forcibly converted tens of thousands of conquered people. Various parties and organisations have already taken out protest processions and 10 November, is being observed across Coorg district as a black day.”The article claims that people in Coorg were circumcised and forced to eat beef and that Tipu is also said to have destroyed temples in Coorg. He also quotes a Portuguese missionary who wrote that Tipu ‘tied naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces.’There are several claims of other atrocities by Tipu Sultan, but then similar things could be said about any ruler, including Akbar or Aurangzeb or even king Ashoka, if we were to judge them by modern standards of governance. How long will we fight about history?To the cynical viewer, celebrating Tipu Jayanti was a move by the Congress to antagonise the right-wing, and they fell for it hook, line and sinker to further bolster the image that the BJP and their ideological brethren are anti-Islam, with communal elements waiting for a flare-up. It also gave Siddaramaiah the opportunity to accuse the RSS and “other communal forces” of making it a communal issue and opposing it. Tipu Sultan’s “secular” or “religious” actions, while important from a historical perspective, should not be the reason for anyone’s death in this day and age. How long will we keep fighting about what happened in the past, instead of dealing with the many, many issues that plague modern-day India?

PM Modi urged to engage rivals after Bihar drubbing | Reuters

NEW DELHIPrime Minister Narendra Modi will have to reverse course and engage with opposition leaders if he is to salvage his economic reform programme, senior aides said on Monday, after he suffered a humiliating Bihar defeat.

Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was hammered in Bihar by a regional alliance, even though the 65-year-old leader addressed more than 30 rallies across the poor eastern state of 104 million people.

The setback destroys any hopes Modi might have had of securing control of the Rajya Sabha in this five-year term, barely 18 months after he won India’s strongest national mandate in three decades.

“It’s going to make his life really difficult – he will struggle to form a majority in the upper house,” said Shilan Shah, an economist at Capital Economics. “The next step is to put aside some of the really polarising issues and form alliances.”

At a meeting after Sunday’s Bihar results, in which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s “grand alliance” won 178 seats to 58 for the BJP and its allies, close aides urged Modi to reach out to opposition heavyweights he has until now shunned.

“There is a realisation that he will have to negotiate,” one senior adviser said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

It remains to be seen whether Modi follows his aides’ advice. Since storming to power, he has made a point of trying to crush the ousted Congress party and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that leads it.

He has not met party president Sonia Gandhi, even though Congress successfully blocked legislation during the last parliamentary session and frustrated several of Modi’s key reforms. This is now likely to change, the adviser noted.

Signature policies, above all the biggest tax reform since independence in 1947, are at stake.

If Modi is to make headway, aides say he will have to wean himself off the company of friends from Gujarat, which he ran for over a decade, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu movement that is the BJP’s ideological parent and moulded him as a politician.

    “If they don’t manage to get that consensus, we won’t have sustained and stable reforms,” said M.R. Madhavan, president of PRS Legislative Research and a leading observer of parliamentary politics.


Also under critical scrutiny is the polarising campaign strategy of BJP president Amit Shah, who irked many by saying firecrackers would go off in Pakistan if the BJP lost in Bihar.

The jibe appeared to be intended to mobilise the party’s core Hindu support base against Muslim-majority Pakistan, India’s arch rival.

It was Shah, an old friend from Gujarat, who scripted the BJP’s Bihar strategy exclusively around Modi: the party did not put up a candidate for the post of chief minister.

“We should have projected a local face as our chief ministerial candidate,” one regional BJP leader told Reuters, adding that the party should have done a better job of pitching its message of development and steered clear of controversy.

Criticism has rained down on Modi and Shah for trying to turn Bihar into a referendum on the prime minister’s leadership, leaving him vulnerable to a strong campaign by Kumar and ally Lalu Prasad that addressed voter concerns in a state riven by complex divisions of caste and religion.

“The BJP will hopefully learn the lesson that communal politics does not yield returns in the long run. But it is not going to be easy,” political analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote in the Indian Express.

Two days before his party crashed to defeat, Modi hosted RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat for lunch at his residence.

One source familiar with their table talk said Bhagwat asked whether Modi wanted to carry on as a campaigning prime minister or instead focus single mindedly on running the country.


As Modi prepares to visit Britain, where he is due on Friday to address a sellout crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium, the gulf that has opened between expectation and achievement has widened.

On his return, Modi will be reminded that acquiring 15.9 million Twitter followers is easier than getting reforms through parliament, which convenes for its winter session on Nov. 26.

One senior leader of the Congress party, which also made gains in Bihar, said the opposition would not drop its blockade unless the BJP renounced its divisive policies.

These include bans in BJP-ruled states on eating beef and the slaughter of cows that are sacred to many Hindus, but whose meat is eaten by minority Muslims and others in multi-faith India.

“We will forcefully raise … Prime Minister Modi’s silence over issues of beef eating and growing intolerance,” said the Congress leader, a former cabinet minister.

(Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar and Mayank Bhardwaj; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

How two India-born brothers raised funds in the US for al Qaeda

Through the email group, Mohammad and Salim brothers were in touch with other men who had met and had inside knowledge on Awlaki’s activities and raised funds for the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen.

Anwar al-Awlaki

Wikimedia Commons
Two India-born brothers and naturalised American citizens, have been charged by a Federal Court in the US for financing al Qaeda and supporting ‘violent jihad against the United States, the US military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world’. Of the two brothers Yahya Farooq Mohammad (37) and Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad (36), Ibrahim was arrested in Texas on Thursday.The two brothers along with Asif Ahmed Salim, 35, and his brother Sultane Room Salim, 40, have been indicted for raising thousands of dollars and sending wire transfers over seven years to slain al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. The District court of Northern Ohio which announced the indictment on Thursday has also charged another pair of brothers Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Roome Salim for providing support to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All four men have been indicted with conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists, one count of providing material support and resources to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The Mohammad brothers face additional charges of conspiring to commit bank frauds in order to provide funds to Awlaki, leader of AQAP. Awlaki, who holds dual citizenship (American and Yemenese) was killed by US forces in a drone attack in Yemen in 2011. The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Ibrahim in Texas where he lived on Thursday, while Sultane was apprehended in Ohio.Yahya is a IT Project Manager in UAE while Ibrahim is a senior structural engineer in Dallas, US. Both the brothers are India-born and engineering students who completed their Bachelors in Electronics (Yahya 1995-99) and Civil Engineering (Ibrahim 1997-2001) from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Following which Yahya came to the US in 1999 for higher studies in engineering at the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College and later to Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004. He married a US citizen in 2008. His brother, Ibrahim also followed a similar path. Upon completing his engineering studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2001 -2005, he moved to Ohio, and married a US citizen. Both the brothers are lawful permanent resident of the US.According to the FBI investigations, which has details of the email communication between the four men, they supported Jihad through the dissemination of propaganda material between 2005 and 2008. Their radicalisation can be traced through discussions, forwarding of speeches, texts and blog entries of Islamic scholars including Awlaki, views and opinions on Jihad and Islamic laws.In one such email ‘RE: Is Nationalism a disease in view of Islam?’, sent by Yahya to Ibrahim on January 31, 2005, he said, “The Muslims there [in India] are our brothers. The non-Muslims our enemies. We do dawah [proselytize] to them in the best manner. But if they refuse, and when we have the capability, we offer them to live as dhimmis [non-Muslims under protection of Muslim law], or else face the sword. And we never have a subservient attitude towards them. There is a time for dawah and a time for [offensive] jihad, and … this is clearly explained.’’ In the following email, where they discussed on taking up nationality of a kafir (non-Islamic) nation, Yahya states that, “As far as which [country] is more evil, I think what is more important to look at is which country is most actively at war with Islam and that without doubt is the US.’’ Despite such beliefs, the brothers became permanent residents of America.The emails were circulated in a group including the Salim brothers and other unknown conspirators. In an email titled ‘Dawah [proselytizing] progress and methods used’, contained an interview of the Taliban commander who praised Osama Bin Laden and those individuals who perpetrated attacks in Mumbai, in November 2008.The communication also included light banter. In a paper called ‘Engineers of Jihad’ which states that “Graduates from subjects such as science, engineering, and medicine are strongly over-represented among Islamist movements in the Muslim world” Yahya commented, “The reason for educated people being over-represented is simply as Allah … says … : ‘Those who truly fear Allah, among His Servants, are those who have knowledge.’ As to why engineers particularly are the majority, I don’t know. But I do like that fact :).”The chit-chat on Jihad and Islam translated into providing funds to Awlaki around 2008, inspired by his blog entries like ’44 Ways of Supporting Jihad’ and ‘Establishing Khalifah’ in which he says that Jihad is an obligation of every Muslim and even if one does not believe in Jihad one must “Fight the disbelievers with your self, your wealth and your tongues”. In the same year, Yahya appears to confirm his decision to use his American credit cards for ‘hostile intent’.Yahya and Ibrahim applied to obtain new credit cards from American Express, Citibank, First National Bank of Omaha and Discover banks. They withdrew money with no intention of repaying the amounts obtained from the financial institutions, federal prosecutors alleged. Yahya who was living and working in the UAE fraudulently applied for these cards by providing Ibrahim’s address in Ohio.Through the email group, Mohammad and Salim brothers were in touch with other men who had met and had inside knowledge on Awlaki’s activities and raised funds for the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen. They raised funds from sympathisers within the US to support and fund Awlaki’s Jihad in Yemen. Several financial transactions were made within the group to transfer funds provided by individual donors by using Paypal accounts and bank checks. In addition, the four men talked extensively and discussed plans of making a trip to Sanaa,Yemen to meet Awlaki personally. Their trip only materialised in July 2009, as Yahya along with two others from the email group travelled to Yemen. Although they couldn’t meet the leader himself a sum of $22,000 was handed to an associate of Awlaki.The Mohammad and Salim brothers have not been convicted yet for these charges. Further proceedings will determine the sentencing. Indian security officials seemed unaware about the Mohammad brothers or whether they were part of any criminal activities during their time in India.The Mohammad brothers are not the first Indians to be indicted into financing global terrorism, particularly Al Qaeda. In the cache of documents found at bin Laden’s residence in Abbotabad, Pakistan at the time of his killing and released in May revealed that the al-Qaeda leader received multiple payments from an individual he identified as “the Indian brother in Medinah”, the person understood as Saudi national Mahmoud Muhammad Bahaziq (71 years old) born to an Indian mother in Hyderabad. He is charged as the main financier of Lashkar-e-Toiba operations—including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks—and is listed by the United Nations as a terror financier in 2008.In October, 41-year-old Haroon Aswat a Gujrati Muslim of Indian-origin British national was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a US Federal court for trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in the US on the orders of Islamist extremist preacher Abu Hamza. Last year, the FBI caught 31-year-old Gufran Ahmed Kauser Mohammed—an Indian-origin man and naturalised US citizen who relocated to Saudi Arabia in 2011— for providing thousands of dollars and facilitating recruits for Al Qaeda (core group), Jabhat al-Nusrah front in Syria, and al-Shabaab in Somalia. He is sentenced to a 15-year imprisonment.

BJP releases Nitish Kumar video allegedly supporting giving away Hindu reservations to minorities

BJP has been in a tight spot following Bhagwat’s comments over reservation where he had sought a review of the reservation policy.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

Rattled over the grand alliance’s campaign following RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks about reservations, the Bihar unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has released a video where Nitish Kumar allegedly supports giving Hindu reservations away to minority communities, especially Christians and Muslims.Nitish Kumar, speaking in the Lok Sabha in August 2005, supported the demand for reservations for minority communities, stating that “Dharm badalne se aadmi ki jaat nahi badalti, sabko malum hai. Buniyadi jaat badalti nahi hai.” (Religious conversion does not change your caste, everyone knows this. Your caste remains the same even if you have converted to Christianity or Islam).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Exposed: Nitish speaking on how he can give away Hindu reserva…
VIDEO: Exposed @NitishKumar speaking on how he can give away Hindu reservation to Muslim ..
Posted by BJP Bihar on Friday, 30 October 2015Nitish points out that while Hindus were converted to Islam or Christianity in India’s history, their castes did not change. Dalits who became Christians suffer from social challenges similar to those faced by ‘lower caste’ Hindus.BJP has been in a tight spot following Bhagwat’s comments over reservation where he had sought a review of the reservation policy. Pouncing upon the remarks, Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance turned it into an election plank in Bihar where caste based reservations and politics around it is core to the system.The grand alliance campaign gathered momentum as Nitish and Lalu Prasad Yadav claimed BJP was about to take away the benefits of reservation.Despite several clarifications to the contrary, BJP has been finding it difficult to counter the allegations. However, with the video shared by the Bihar unit of the party, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) hopes to turn the tide in its favour.Interestingly, while the video is from August 2005, the JD(U) and BJP contested the Bihar elections as an alliance that year, defeating the RJD and other regional parties to come to power.

Death toll in Saudi haj disaster at least 2,070 – Reuters tally | Reuters

DUBAI The deadly crush that occurred at the haj near Mecca last month killed at least 2,070 people, nearly triple the number accounted for in a death toll maintained by Saudi authorities, a Reuters tally indicated on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the disaster. Safety during the pilgrimage is a politically sensitive issue for the kingdom’s ruling Al Saud dynasty, which presents itself as the guardian of Islam and custodian of its holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.

The figure, based on information provided by the state and religious authorities and local media reports in the home countries of the victims, would make it the worst such catastrophe to befall the annual pilgrimage since 1,400 people were crushed to death in a tunnel in 1990.

Saudi officials have stood by their official counts of 769 dead and 934 injured, which have not been updated since two days after the crush. The healthy ministry has said any discrepancies in death tolls may stem from countries counting pilgrims who had died of natural causes.

The disaster triggered heavy criticism by arch-foe Iran, which lost the most pilgrims in the crush, but also from other Muslim countries which rarely, if ever, voice disapproval of the powerful and wealthy Saudi Arabia.

Anger was stoked by early Saudi comments that appeared to lay the blame on the pilgrims themselves.

In the wake of the crush, Saudi King Salman ordered an investigation into its causes. No date has been set to announce any results. Critics of the Saudi government challenge the independence of the probe.

Asked about the death toll compiled by Reuters, a Saudi health ministry spokesman said a high-level committee was running an investigation.

“All details related to this matter will soon be released following the completion of this committee’s investigation,” he said by email.

Some, including Iran, have suggested that the disaster may have been caused by authorities halting crowds to make way for a VIP, a charge Saudi officials strongly deny.

Iran reported 465 dead in the Mina crush. Other countries with large tolls included Indonesia with 127, India with 116 and Pakistan with 99.


(Compiled from reporting by Reuters bureaus across Africa, Asia and the Middle East; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

In Ballabhgarh, talk of Dalit mahapanchayat and religious conversion grow louder

Talking to dna, the speakers, most of them belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party, said that the Dalit community will debate the possibility of leaving Hinduism and choosing a religion ‘which does not believe in caste system’.

Dalit Community members shout slogans against Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar after his visit to Sunpedh village where a dalits house was set on fire allegedly by men belonging to the upper-caste community, in Ballabhgarh in Faridabad on Thursday.

Dalit leaders from Haryana on Thursday said that if investigation into the killing of two children is not conducted in a fair manner, a mahapanchayat will be convened in the coming days where ‘future course of action’ would be decided after consultations with the Dalit community. During a meeting with residents of Sunped village in Faridabad district, the leaders added that if ‘atrocities on Dalits continue to happen’, they would embrace Buddhism or Islam.Talking to dna, the speakers, most of them belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party, said that the Dalit community will debate the possibility of leaving Hinduism and choosing a religion ‘which does not believe in caste system’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Haryana police have arrested seven of the accused men while four are still absconding. Police told us that they will, eventually, arrest all the accused but if during police investigation we feel that a deliberate attempt is being made to shield the culprits, a mahapanchayat will be organised,” said Surinder Kardan of BSP.The meeting, which was attended by 30-40 villagers, took place merely a few feet away from Jitendar Kumar’s house which was set ablaze on Monday allegedly by upper caste men. Kumar’s two children, a nine-month-old daughter and a two-and-a-half-year-old son died of burn injuries and suffocation while his wife, Rekha, is undergoing treatment at the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi.”If Dalit samaj decides that we need to leave Hinduism, we will do that and if it is decided that we need to covert to Buddhism or Islam, we will do that as well,” Kardan added. In August nearly 100 Dalit families of Haryana’s Bhagana village converted to Islam in a ceremony at Jantar Mantar in Delhi “Let this be the last act of oppression that our community has witnessed. Let there be no more atrocities. We must stand united,” said Kamal Gautam. Another local leader from Haryana’s Meewat area spoke at the gathering, and said that they will march to the state secretariat as well as Jantar Mantar in Delhi irrespective of whether villagers from Sunped accompany them.”We will take our struggle to New Delhi and if anyone among you would like to join us your are welcome. We will not force anyone to come with us but we will ensure that death of these children is not forgotten,” he said.The meeting was also attended by people belonging to the adjoining villages. Among those listening to the rousing brief speeches by Dalit leaders were youth of the village. Both Pawan and Manish felt that culprits behind the killings must be punished but they were not sure if changing their religion would make a difference to what they called as ‘casteist mindset’.In the same meeting controversial remarks of BJP Union minister General VK Singh were brought up briefly but speakers changed the topic saying,” A tragedy has taken place in this village. We don’t need to discuss Mr VK Singh’s remarks. “Blaming a family feud for the burning alive of the two children, Singh had said, “If someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible. It was a feud between two families, the matter in under inquiry.”

Do not let intolerance arise between communities: HM Rajnath Singh to citizens

The Home Minister said that a day before Dusshera, he is appealing to all the citizens to remember that India is the only country that has propounded to the world the message of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’, or universal kinship.

Appealing against any “intolerance” arising between communities, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday disapproved of politics in the name of religion and said that nobody should be discriminated against on the basis of their faith, caste or creed.Singh said he was making the appeal on the eve of Dussehra following recent incidents that have sparked tensions among local communities in Dadri, Faridabad and Punjab.”The news of intolerance that we are getting from electronic and print media is very worrisome. For us, these are issues of concern,” he said after inaugurating a new think tank on policing subjects here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: ​ Dalit children burnt alive: Villagers refuse to cremate bodies; threaten to convert into IslamThe Home Minister said that a day before Dusshera, he is appealing to all the citizens to remember that India is the only country that has propounded to the world the message of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’, or universal kinship.”We should not be getting any complaints of intolerance on the basis of caste, creed, religion or sect,” he said.The Home Minister said there should be no “politics” in the name of religion or sect as he termed the latest incidents of violence in Faridabad (against a Dalit family) and in Punjab (over alleged desecration of a holy book) as “very unfortunate” and “condemnable”.Also read: Dalit children burnt alive: Rahul Gandhi blames PM, CM’s attitude; lashes out at media for calling it a photo-opHe said he has talked to the chief ministers of these states to ensure peace and law and order following these incidents.Noting that today was national police commemoration day, Singh said that as the police and paramilitary martyrs are on this day remembered for their sacrifice, everybody should take a pledge to ensure peace in the country for which numerous police personnel have laid down their lives.

Dalit children burnt alive: Villagers refuse to cremate bodies; threaten to convert into Islam

Staging protest and blocking the Ballabgarh-Faridabad highway, villagers have also threatened to convert into Islam if all the accused are not arrested and their demands are met.

Situation in Ballabhgarh became tense on Wednesday after the residents of Sunped village refused to cremate bodies of two Dalit children who were burnt alive after some persons from an upper caste set their house afire while they were sleeping.Staging protest and blocking the Ballabgarh-Faridabad highway, villagers have also threatened to convert into Islam if all the accused are not arrested and their demands are met.Vaibhav, a two-and-a-half years old, and his sister, 11-month-old Divya were burnt alive, while their mother Rekha suffered 70% burns and has been referred to Delhi for treatment. The bodies of Dalit children were brought from Delhi amid a large contingent of police deployed to avert law & order situation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, the Haryana Government has ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the incident of a Dalit family being burnt in Sunped, a village near Faridabad, and suspended the eight erring police officials
Also read: Dalit children burnt alive: Rahul Gandhi blames PM, CM’s attitude; lashes out at media for calling it a photo-opEarlier in the day, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi visited the family and accused the Prime Minister, Harayana Chief Minister, the BJP and RSS of practising “politics of crushing” those who are weak which results in such incidents.”This is an attitude shared by the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the state and the entire BJP and RSS. The attitude is if somebody is weak, he can be crushed. What you have seen is the result of this attitude,” Gandhi said.So far, four people have been arrested in connection with the case on the basis of the preliminary investigation.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s message still relevant, says Pranab Mukherjee

The President told journalists on board his special flight from Tel Aviv to New Delhi last night, “certain messages and principles have relevance for a very very long time

Pranab Mukherjee

Jawaharlal Nehru’s message of peaceful coexistence has eternal relevance and is not “bound in a timeframe,” President Pranab Mukherjee said in remarks coming in the backdrop of questions being raised about the legacy of the country’s first Prime Minister.The President told journalists on board his special flight from Tel Aviv to New Delhi last night, “certain messages and principles have relevance for a very very long time. Peaceful coexistence is one such message and it is not to be bound in a timeframe.” He was answering a question on the relevance of Nehru’s ideals, particularly peaceful coexistence, in today’s context.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He had underlined that principles of peaceful coexistence during his discussions with leaders of Jordan, Palestine and Israel during his six-day trip. Mukherjee was also asked about his remarks in Israel that religion should not be the basis of a state with a journalist pointing out that Israel and Pakistan were based on religion.He replied, “I said that religion cannot be the basis of a state. For instance in a large number of Arab countries, Islam is the religion. But on the basis of religion the Arab countries have not converged into one state.”Pakistan was created out of India on the basis of religion in 1947. A large chunk had come out of Pakistan and become an independent sovereign state within 25 years( Bangladesh),” he said, ading that this is the point he had made to Israeli parliamentarians.The President, who was in the region at the time of escalating tensions, was asked why he had not specifically commented on the Israel-Palestine conflict. He had been criticised in Israel for not denouncing “Palestinian terrorism”. He replied, “I know that different countries have different relations. It is not the job of another country to make any comment on that. This is international diplomacy and courtesy.”He pointed out that India had established full fledged diplomatic relations with Israel nearly 23 years ago but continued to maintain its “principled position” with regard to Palestine. The President said that in his discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders he had got a sense that both sides wanted to resolve the issues between them

The neglect of women: Why the Muslim community needs to introspect

At the peak of World War II, the British and the Germans faced a severe shortage of men to work in the factories because many of them were recruited for fighting.

The British found a simple solution to the problem: they recruited more women to run their factories and take care of non-combat jobs. But the Nazis kept their women at home, believing that their only job was procreation and only responsibilities were motherhood and housekeeping.

Representational image. Getty ImagesRepresentational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

The Nazis paid a huge price for their patriarchal and conservative approach towards women. The British soon caught up with them and started producing more material for their troops in spite of the Nazis having an early start.

Numerous other instances from history reveal how countries, civilisations and cultures suffered by treating half of their population as second-rate citizens. But, the lessons from history have not been learnt, especially by the Islamic world.

So, when the vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Lt Gen (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, says Muslims lagged behind in the development race because they kept their women enslaved, it is yet another call for introspection for the community.

“You have not utilised half of your population. Women remained enslaved. They remained inside home. Muslims have no one else to blame. You enslaved women and the result is you are enslaved,” Shah said during a felicitation function of AMU Old Boys at Lucknow on Sunday.

“I stayed in Saudi Arabia, the situation remains the same. Women are confined. Except Turkey and Iran, women remained enslaved in all Muslim world. That is the reason they are backward,” he added.

Shah is a liberal, well-travelled and an educated Muslim. But, it doesn’t require his calibre of erudition to state the obvious: Muslim women remain uneducated, illiterate and under-utilised in many countries.

They labour at home from behind the veil of poverty, ignorance and inequality and contribute very little outside their home.

Education and Muslims have historically shared an uneasy relation. Under the Ottoman Turks, even at the beginning of the 18th Century the literacy levels among Muslims were just around a percent. Historian Donald Quataeart noted a literacy rate of 2-3 percent at the start of the 19th century and perhaps just 15 per cent at its end.

Even today, out of the 1.4 billion Muslims, 800 million are illiterate. While the global literacy rate has risen to almost 84 percent, six out of every ten Muslims, who are around 22 percent of world population, can’t even read.

What chance then do Muslim women have in this bleak scenario? Even in India, where the number of schools, colleges and universities is much higher than anywhere in the Arab world, only 41 percent of Muslim women were literate, according to the 2001 Census. Compared to non-Muslim women, the figure was 15 percent less.

To blame local factors — lack of resources, access to education, poverty etc — would be misleading, simply because it is a world-wide trend, manifest even in developed counties. Obviously, culture and religion have something to do with it.

This is ironic because the Quran encourages learning. “Read in the name of your Lord who created, created man from a clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by means of the pen; taught man what he did not know. (96:1-5)”

And Prophet Mohammed’s own house had independent, enterprising and scholarly women. By many account’s his first wife Khadija bint Khuwaylid was the richest woman in Mecca, who employed several men in her business. His youngest wife Aisha Binte Abu Bakr was also a scholar. She is believed to have such a great memory that she narrated several thousand Hadith.

Obviously, the Quran emphasised on education and equality of women. It is for the intellectuals and reformists to find out what went wrong over the ages and lead to the current plight of Muslim women as illiterate, oppressed, second-rate citizens. Such is the complex web of problems that many Muslims do not want to get their girls educated simply because they are afraid of not finding equally educated grooms for them.

Cultural and religious barriers have been raised against women in various countries and civilisations. In India, they were not allowed to read Vedic literature, compared with drums, animals, Dalits and illiterates worthy of beating in religious texts, forced to die on the funeral pyres of their husbands and stopped from remarrying on becoming widows. But reforms from within gradually led to improvement.
Shah is not the first person to advocate self-analysis, introspection and reforms among Muslims. Many Muslim intellectuals have been brutal in their assessment of their community and its failures. Mohammed Iqbal had famously written, albeit in a different context:

Mohabbat ka junoon baqi nahin hai,
Musalmanon mein khun baqi nahin hai;
Ragon mein lahu baqi nahin hai
Wo dil, wo awaz baqi nahin hai;

Ye sab baqi hai, tu (God) baqi nahin hai.

Unless the Muslims listen to progressive voices and people like Shah and respond to calls for changes, much of what Iqbal lamented will continue to remain true even after centuries.

Dowry seekers, wife beaters to face social boycott in Kashmir

Muslim clergy have called upon all the harassed girls to register their complaints before local imams apart from police so that the family which tortures their daughters in law could be ostracized in the society.

Husbands and mothers-in-law beware! Demanding dowry or beating wife would invoke social boycott in the Kashmir valley.Muslim clergy have called upon all the harassed girls to register their complaints before local imams apart from police so that the family which tortures their daughters in law could be ostracized in the society.”For the last three there have been 1200 cases of domestic violence in Kashmir. And it is just 20 per cent of the actual number of cases. Eighty per cent of people do not register their cases due to social, family and other pressures. It is an alarming trend and we need to take this issue head on,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief cleric of Kashmir and chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, told dna.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the plan charted out by the clergy, the families found involved in the domestic violence and demanding dowry would face instant social boycott by the community in their localities in a last ditch effort to end the harassment of the brides.”Apart from the legal action there is a need to mount social pressure on these elements. First and foremost thing is that our sisters and daughters should muster courage and register their cases before the police. After that they should approach local imam so that he could involve the community. Mohalla and imam will then mount pressure and boycott these elements socially”, said Mirwaiz.Clergy has also decided to go full throttle and launch awareness campaign to educate people about the tenants of Islam so that the menace of domestic violence and dowry is put to an end.”There is no concept of dowry in Islam. In fact, it is the other way round. Groom’s family has to bear all expenses of the bride as well. Unfortunately, it has become cultural thing. Imams will be speaking on these issues on Fridays. I will be speaking myself on this issue for the next month in Jamia Masjid to create a religious awareness among the people,” said Mirwaiz.Waking up to the violence against women, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to start one-stop-crisis-center to help the women in distress.”We have got a go ahead for the centre. It will have office in Jammu and its lines will be opened in Kashmir. Distressed women could call us. on the number which we will be providing. We will provide all the legal and police protection to the women in distress. Besides we will also provide temporary shelter to such women,” Asiea Naqash, J&K minister of state for health and social welfare, told dna.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj puts Hajj stampede death toll at 1090

Her tweet came a day after Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih said the death toll from the stampede during Haj has risen to 769.

The stampede broke out on Thursday after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.
File Photo
AFP photo
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday put the death toll in the Haj stampede in Mina at 1090, including 35 Indians, much higher than the figure of 769 given by Saudi authorities.Her tweet came a day after Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih said the death toll from the stampede during Haj has risen to 769. He also told reporters the number of injured had risen to 934.According to sources, though the Saudi authorities had not changed the official death toll, their various agencies together had put out pictures of 1090 people killed in the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in 25 years.King Salman has ordered the formation of a committee to probe the incident during the five-day pilgrimage in which around two million people from more than 180 countries took part. From India, 1.5 lakh pilgrims performed Haj.Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable. The stampede broke out on Thursday after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing over 100 people, including many foreigners.

Mecca stampede: Death toll of Indians rises to 22, some bodies yet to be identified

The Hajj stampede is reported to be the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 25 years.

It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing 109 people, including many foreigners.
File Photo
AFP photo
The death toll of Indian pilgrims in Thursday’s Mecca stampede has risen to 22 and some bodies are yet to be identified, tweeted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The death toll reached 717 while over 800 are reportedly injured. The Hajj stampede is reported to be the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 25 years.Of the 22 Indian victims, nine hailed from Gujarat, three from Tamil Nadu and one each from Telangana and Kerala. Four others are yet to be identified. At least 13 Indians were also among the over 800 people injured in the tragedy.Leading the criticism against Saudi Arabia, its regional rival Iran expressed indignation at the deaths of 131 of its nationals at the world’s largest annual gathering of people and suggesting Riyadh was incapable of managing the event. As the blame game erupted, Saudi Arabia on its part suggested pilgrims ignoring crowd control rules bore some blame for the stampede.Also Read: Hajj ritual: Here is all you need to know about ‘Stoning of the DevilKing Salman ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incident during the five-day pilgrimage in which around two million people from more than 180 countries took part. The pilgrimage in which 1.5 lakh pilgrims from India also took part ends today.It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing 109 people, including many foreigners.

dna Must Read at 6 pm: Pakistan complains about LoC wall, blast in Kolkata, Make in India and more

dna Must Reads at 6 pm

dna webdesk
Here are 5 must read stories on at 6 pm:1) Pakistan complains to UNSC, alleges India mulling wall along LoC: Introducing a new irritant into bilateral ties, Pakistan has complained to UN Security Council alleging that India was building a wall along the Line of Control (LoC) in violation of the world body’s resolutions.​2) One dead, two injured in crude bomb blast in Kolkata: One person died and three others were injured in a minor crude bomb blast in a factory godown at Cossipore, Kolkata on Friday afternoon.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>3) All you need to know about the ritual ‘Stoning of the Devil’ at Hajj: Every year Islamic pilgrims visit Mecca to follow a mandatory religious duty which is considered as one of the five pillars of Islam. 4) PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ turns one: Make in India initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25th September last year was an initiative aimed at making India a global manufacturing hub.5) Fossils of 100-million-year-old dinosaur found in Australia: Fossils of a giant herbivorous dinosaur dating back more than 100 million years have been unearthed in Australia, scientists say.

Rahman ‘welcome’ to return to Hindu fold, says Yogi Adityanath after fatwa by Raza Academcy

Gorakhpur: Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath has said that A R Rahman is “welcome” to return to Hindu fold as he waded into the row over the fatwa against the music maestro, days after VHP said it was time for his ‘ghar wapsi’. Adityanath also dubbed the fatwa as “laughable”.

Objecting to an Iranian film ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’, Raza Academy, a Muslim group in Mumbai, recently issued a fatwa against all those involved in the project, including Rahman and the renowned Iranian director Majid Majidi.

“The fatwa issued against Rahman is in itself laughable and if anyone wants to come(to Hindu fold) we will welcome him,” Adityanath told reporters when asked to comment on the controversial fatwa.

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnliveFile photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Congress on Sunday condemned as “disgusting” Adityanath’s suggestion to Rahman while Union Culture Minister and senior BJP leader Mahesh Sharma declined to comment.

“I would say it is utterly, absolutely disgusting. Whatever religion you practice is your personal choice… The remark really shows the true colour of the BJP, which believes in divisive politics,” said Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee.

Shaina NC of BJP reacted cautiously to Adityanath’s remark, saying that in a country like India “we cannot be judgemental on Raza academy or, for that matter, a comment made by an individual MP.”

Kamal Farooqui, member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, regretted that some people in the BJP are allowed to speak whatever they feel like without realizing that they are spreading “venom” all around.

VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain on Wednesday said Hindus will “welcome” the noted composer with open arms and alleged that he had converted to Islam for commercial reasons.

“I will appeal to Rahman he should return, he should do ‘Ghar Wapsi’. The Hindu society is waiting for its son. We will not only welcome him with open arms but also ensure that no harm is done to him irrespective of how many fatwas are issued,” Jain had told reporters in Delhi.

A BJP MLA in Telangana on Thursday urged the VHP to reach out to more people like Rahman. “I request VHP functionaries to reach out to many more people like AR Rahman who are feelign suffocated after acacepting Islam,” said Raja Singh.

In a long statement, posted on his Facebook page, Rahman had quoted verses from the Quran to explain his point of view and the decision behind boarding Iranian director Majid Majidi’s movie, which is a planned trilogy on the life of Prophet Muhammad.

“I am not a scholar of Islam. I follow the middle path and am part traditionalist and part rationalist. I live in Western and Eastern worlds and try to love all people for what they are, without judging them,” Rahman wrote.


Fatwa row: Time for AR Rahman’s ‘ghar-wapsi’, says VHP

VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said Hindus will “welcome” the noted composer with open arms and alleged that he had converted to Islam for commercial reasons.
File Photo
Getty Images
Vishwa Hindu Parishad today asked A R Rahman, whose composition for a film on Prophet Muhammad has invited a fatwa against him, to re-convert to Hinduism, saying it was time for his “ghar-wapsi”.VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said Hindus will “welcome” the noted composer with open arms and alleged that he had converted to Islam for commercial reasons.”The fatwa against Rahman is very unfortunate and what is more unfortunate is the language of revenge in it…. He composed music for a film not on the basis of any religion. I will appeal to Rahman… he should return, he should do ‘ghar-wapsi’. The Hindu society is waiting for its son. We will not only welcome him with open arms but also ensure that no harm is done to him irrespective of how many fatwas are issued,” Jain told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ghar-wapsi has been a controversial programme run by certain Hindu groups aimed at converting Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism.Iranian director Majid Majidi has directed the film “Muhammad: Messenger of God”. Mumbai-based Raza Academy had objected to the film and issued a fatwa against Oscar-winner Rahman and Majidi, calling the movie against Islam. Rahman has said he composed the music “in good faith and with no intention to cause offence”.The VHP also supported Union Minister Mahesh Sharma over his assertion that Hindu scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gita should be made parts of school curriculum, saying teaching moral lessons was necessary to restore values in society and check heinous crimes.Asked about holy books of other religions, Jain said it should be shown if they also give the same primacy to values as Hindu books.

Need to expand caliphate for Indian Muslims: Woman ISIS recruiter

According to reports, Jabeen used to propagate Islam on her Facebook page and had attempted to lure Indian Muslim youth to join ISIS.

Afsha Jabeen
File Photo

The alleged woman ISIS recruiter from Hyderabad, Afsha Jabeen, has reportedly confessed to working with Salman Mohiuddin. According to reports, Jabeen used to propagate Islam on her Facebook page and had attempted to lure Indian Muslim youth to join ISIS. She, in her confession, told the police that she first met Salman through Facebook in 2010. Afsha said, “In an online post, I wrote Ali without a suffix RZ and Salman corrected me. I got introduced to Salman’s YouTube channel and started liking him. I shared my social media IDs with him and we regularly used to share our views on various issues related to Islamic State,” a leading daily reported. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On January 16 this year, Mohiuddin, 32, a US-returned Hyderabadi on his way to Turkey to join ISIS, was arrested by the Cyberabad police at the international airport for allegedly trying to leave the country to join the terror group, the police said.After his arrest, Afsha came under the lens of Indian security agencies since Salman confessed during questioning to have opened several Facebook accounts along with one ‘Nicky Joseph’, a British national living in Dubai. He had said that she had influenced and invited him to join her in Dubai in order to go to Syria. Both of them allegedly indoctrinated and motivated several youth via social media to support ISIS, the police had said.Afsha Jabeen alias ‘Nicky Joseph’ (37), who hails from Tolichowki area but portrayed herself as a British national while luring youth for ISIS through social media, was deported by the UAE after which she was arrested here on September 11. She was subsequentally produced before a court which sent her to 14-days judicial remand on September 12. She is lodged in the Chanchalguda prison.

J&K separatists slaughter bovines in public to defy beef ban

Kashmir valley was painted red on Friday when people brazenly defied the ban on the sale of beef by slaughtering the bovines in full public view.

Kashmir valley was painted red on Friday when people brazenly defied the ban on the sale of beef by slaughtering the bovines in full public view.From north to south to centre, Kashmir witnessed sacrifices of bovine animals on busy chowks and streets after the Friday prayers. People assembled at different streets and shouted slogans against the beef ban before sacrificing the bovines. The beef was later distributed among the people in different localities in defiance of the high court order.The bovines were slaughtered despite security clampdown on the separatists in Kashmir. Several separatists, including moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz south Kashmir Qazi Yasir, were placed under house arrest. Hurrriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani was already under house arrest.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“We sacrificed the bovines near Jamia Masjid Reshi Bazar in Anantnag district to protest the ban on beef. As you know our beloved leader and late Mirwaiz south Kashmir Qazi Nissar Ahmad has defied the ban in mid-eighties when he sacrificed the bovine in Lal Chowk Anantnag,” said a spokesman of Umat-e-Islami.What added another dimension to the whole saga was the defiance shown by the mainstream Awami Ithaad Party (AIP) led by sitting MLA from Langate Sheikh Abdul Rashid aka Engineer Rashid. “AIP workers carried out two separate processions at tehsil headquarters at Kralgund and Qalamabad and slaughtered two bovines in Langate,” said Engineer RashidReports reaching here said people slaughtered bovines at different places in Srinagar, Pulwama, Tral, and Kulgam to defy the ban on the sale of beef. Sources said people were also seen collecting money to buy the bovines for slaughter at different places in Srinagar.J&K Muslim Personal Law Board led by Grand Mufti of Kashmir Bashir-ud-din Ahmad Farooqi, who also heads the self-styled Supreme Court of Islamic Shariat, passed a resolution denouncing the ban on beef terming it an interference in the religious matters of Muslims.“Muslims can sacrifice any animal allowed in Islam. Nobody has right to stop or ban the sacrifice of any animal prescribed in Islam. Anyone trying to impose his diktat will be treated as interference in the religious matters of the Muslims,” said a spokesman of the Board.Violent clashes erupted in old Srinagar city after the Friday prayers prompting the police and paramilitary soldiers to fire tear smoke shells to quell the mob that was protesting against the beef ban order. Protesters waved Pakistani flags and hurled stones on the forces.Waking up to the situation, main opposition National Conference said the people of J&K acceded to a secular India and not to a theocratic State. “In a multi-religious country like India religious beliefs of every community have to be respected and protected. Certain choices are determined by religious beliefs and cannot and also should not be dictated by the state,” said Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, chief spokesperson of NC.NC chief spokesman said they are consulting legal and constitutional experts with a view to effect suitable amendments in relevant sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) in order to preempt such situations from arising again in the future.

At least 107 killed by falling crane at Grand Mosque in Mecca | Reuters

RIYADH At least 107 people were killed when a crane toppled over at Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence authority said, less than two weeks before Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage.

At least 238 people were wounded, Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence body said.

“All those who were wounded and the dead have been taken to hospital. There are no casualties left at the location,” General Suleiman al-Amr, director general of the Civil Defence Authority, told al-Ikhbariya television. Strong wind and rains had uprooted trees and rocked cranes in the area, he said.

A statement by a spokesman for the administration of the mosques in Mecca and Medina said the crane smashed into the part of the Grand Mosque where worshippers circle the Kaaba – the black-clad cube towards which the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims face to pray.

Pictures circulating on social media showed pilgrims in bloodied robes and debris from a part of the crane that appeared to have crashed through a ceiling.

Saudi authorities go to great lengths to prepare for the millions of Muslims who converge on Mecca to perform the sacred pilgrimage. Last year, they reduced the numbers permitted to make the haj pilgrimage on safety grounds because of construction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque.

The haj, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been prone to disasters in the past, mainly from stampedes as pilgrims rush to complete rituals and return home. Hundreds of pilgrims died in such a crush in 2006.

Saudi authorities have since spent vast sums to expand the main haj sites and improve Mecca’s transport system, in an effort to prevent more disasters.

Security services often ring Islam’s sacred city with checkpoints and other measures to prevent people arriving for the pilgrimage without authorisation.

Those procedures, aimed at reducing crowd pressure which can lead to stampedes, fires and other hazards, have been intensified in recent years as security threats grow throughout the Middle East.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Roche and Christian Plumb)

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Fatwa issued against AR Rahman and Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi

According to a report in The Indian Express, the fatwa is issued against Iranian filmmaker Majidi’s upcoming film titled ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’.

Majid Majidi and AR Rahman

A Mumbai-based Sunni Muslim group, Raza Academy, has reportedly issued a fatwa against filmmaker Majid Majidi and Oscar-winning music director AR Rahman. According to a report in The Indian Express, the fatwa is issued against Iranian filmmaker Majidi’s upcoming film titled ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’. The film will be the first of the trilogy on the life of Prophet Mohammad. The fatwa demands that Muslims shun the film as it makes a mockery of Islam. It also says that no visual or picture of Prophet be created in any way. The fatwa also claims that non-Muslim actors have been cast in key roles. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raza academy wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking ban on the film last week.The fatwa added that since Majidi and Rahman have committed sacrilege, they will have to read the kalma again and also solemnise their marriage again.

Quota cut: Most Indian Muslims looking to go for Hajj to miss out this year

The Hajj Committee of India said around 3.83 lakh people applied for Hajj 2015 but only 1.20 lakh pilgrims are travelling through the Hajj Committee to Saudi Arabia.

Representational Image

Saudi Arabia’s reduction in Hajj quota this year by 20% will make most Indian Muslims miss going out on the pilgrimage. Stats say that only one in four Indian Muslims wanting to perform Hajj will be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia.The saudi Arabia government permits only one in 1,000 Muslims in a particular country to go for the holy pilgrimage. As the recent census on minority population in India showed a significant rise in the Muslim population, Muslim leaders have asked for an increase in the pilgrimage quota. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 3.38 lakh people in India applied for Hajj 2015 however only 1.20 lakh pilgrims are travelling through the Hajj Committee to Saudi Arabia, according to the Hajj Commitee of India.Hajj Committee CEO Ataur Rahman said, “Since 2013, the Saudi government has cut 20% quota of pilgrims from every country as the expansion of the holy mosque in Mecca is underway and the administration wants fewer pilgrims there,” a leading daily reported. Former minority department minister and MLA Arif Naseem Khan said, “We have told the external affairs ministry to look into the issue for the last few years. Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and performing it is mandatory for Muslims who can afford it. The government should take up the issue with the Saudi authorities and get our quota increased.”

Nashik jailer grants furlough to two terror convicts, may face probe

Home dept awaiting CM’s clearance * Law doesn’t permit furlough to those jailed for terrorism-related acts

Amit Bandre
The home department has proposed a departmental inquiry against the superintendent and acting DIG of Nashik jail, J S Naik, for unlawfully allowing furlough to two convicts serving term under terrorism-related charges. Both the convicts escaped during the furlough period. As per law, a furlough is not allowed to convicts serving term for acts related to terrorism. What makes the case worse is that the second convict, Ravi Dhiren Ghosh, was released on furlough for eight months, when the first convict to be released, Nuruddin Islam, was already on the run.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> While Nuruddin, who was given furlough in June 2014, is still at large, Dhiren, who was let out on furlough in February this year, surrendered in August, within a few days of the accused jailer’s role coming under the scanner. Sources said the file proposing an inquiry against Naik has been sent to the chief minister’s office for sanction as Naik is a grade one officer. Once clearance is granted, the department will appoint an inquiry officer to unearth the truth. Till then, he has been transferred to a non-executive post. Sources claim that it is not yet clear if Naik did it out of ignorance or under influence. The matter came to the notice of the home department only when the National Investigation Agency (NIA), through a letter in June, raised an alarm. The department then called for a report from the Nashik prison. In the last week of August, it recommended an inquiry against Naik and a clerk, who were prime facie found responsible. Islam and Dhiren, along with four others, were convicted by a special NIA court in January 2014 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that defines printing and distribution of fake currency as a terror activity. This was the first case where Pakistan’s involvement in printing fake Indian currency notes (FICNs) was nailed by forensic evidence. It is also the first FICN case to be registered under UAPA. To nab these convicts, NIA had produced evidence through RBI experts and forensic tests by the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL). The tests revealed that the FICN features, paper and printing quality exactly matched Pakistan’s currency and could only have been printed at a Pakistan government press. Ghosh, Islam and the other four convicts – Mohd Samad, Mohd Aijul Shaikh, Mohd Asruddin Shaikh and Azraul Tamez Shaikh – were first arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in 2009, with FICNs worth Rs 3.45 lakh in Mumbai.The investigation was later transferred to NIA, which slapped Sections of UAPA dealing with terror activity and funding, apart from IPC Sections dealing with FICN. During the NIA investigation, it was revealed that FICNs of Rs 1,000 denomination of 2AQ series were seized. FICNs of the same series were also recovered from the Kochi currency chest of the RBI. The similar nature and series of notes found at two different places indicated that there was a wide network circulating FICNs and that the source of both these FICNs was the same.

A Muslim Radha on Krishna Janmasthami: Today’s India needs more such pictures

Recently, one Sarfraz Alam had a posted a picture on Facebook which was an important reminder to all of us that despite our religious beliefs we are all the same.

Image Courtesy:Sarfraz Alam (Facebook)
Recently, one Sarfraz Alam had uploaded a picture of himself with his daughter on the occasion of Janmasthami. He had dressed her up as Radha. The Facebook post has gone viral and has nearly 1000 shares and 2000 likes.While most people were supportive of the post, Sarfraz Alam responded to the negative comments quite amicably and reasonably. Check out some of his responses:Brother that what I wanted to make you understand That I am not doing wrong I just copied a character for time to teach my daughter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alhamdullilah Allah know our heart is pure and have fear of Allah. We respect all. Cause everyone created by Allah but this is other thing they believe to call things in different ways.We in Islam Believe: There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s prophet. But Same time Islam teach us to respect every ones Belief. So lets live the life by giving respect, Spread love and peace. Keep me remember in your DUA.Today on the Occasion of Janmastami – My Daughter performed as Radha.
Posted by Sarfraz Alam on Friday, 4 September 2015In many ways, Sarfraz Alam’s post reminds us of an India where despite our different religions or beliefs or lack thereof, we learn to respect each other and live peacefully .In fact, it’s quite common to see such pictures reminding us that we are all part of one country and culture. If only the various hardliners, in politics or religion, could realise that religion was a stick that the British used to divide the people of this great nation. Divide-and-rule was one of the most important sticks that the British used to rule over India for so long.Lord Elphinstone had reportedly said to a commission investigating the 1857 riots: “”Divide et impera (divide and rule) was the old Roman motto, and it should be ours”. In Political Thinkers of Modern India: Lala Lajpat Rai, Volume 15 By Verinder Grover, Sir John Maynard, a retired Senior Member of the Executive Council of Punjab says: “It is, of course, true that British authority could not have established and now could not now maintain itself but for a fissiparous tendency, of which the Hindu-Muslim antagonism is one manifestation. It’s also the true that the mass rivalry of the two communities began under British rule. Persecuting rulers made their appearance from time to time in the pre-British era, levying tribute on unbelievers or punishing with masses — before they had eaten of the tree of knowledge and became religion-conscious — worshipped peacefully side by side at the same shrines.” (Read: Three ways the British still rule us) Now the same tricks are used by people in power to divide society based on our religious or caste identities. It’s time we stop being blinded by those people who claim they have our best interests at hurt but continue to poison our mind against people of different religions.

No scope of change in triple talaq system, says All India Muslim Personal Law Board

The spokesman said though saying talaq thrice in one go was not considered good in Islam, the process is considered to be complete.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Thursday said there was no scope of change in the triple talaq system and rejected the suggestion by some community outfits for building a consensus on making a three-month period mandatory before finalisation of divorce.Though as per Quran and Hadith, “triple talaq” is a crime, but once said the process would be considered complete and cannot be changed, AIMPLB Spokesman Maulana Abdul Raheem Qureshi told PTI.He said through news reports he has come to know that the All India Sunni Ulema Council had written a letter to the Board along with Deobandi and Barelvi sects that if there was any scope in Islamic law then “talaq” said by a person thrice in one go, should be considered as said only once.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Though the AIMBLP has not received any such letter as yet, but we do not agree with the suggestion.We have nothing to do with what happens in other Islamic countries. What is happening in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Sudan and other countries. We do not look into it. What we follow is what Quran Sharif, Hadith and Sunnat has said,” he added.The spokesman said though saying talaq thrice in one go was not considered good in Islam, the process is considered to be complete.”There is no scope of change in the system,” he said.Qureshi said last week the AIMPLB had sent a questionnaire to Ulemas across the country in which it was asked whether any penalty could be imposed on a person giving triple talaq or not.”There is an old fatwa which states that triple talaq in one go is a crime, but the process will be considered to be complete. Earlier, such husbands were lashed, but now it cannot be done. The Ulemas were asked what can be done in the present situation. We will invite them and discuss the issue at length,” he said.General secretary of Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa, a religious and social unit of center of Barelvi sect, Maulana Shahabuddin said the demand to consider triple talaq in one go ineligible had been raised in the past as well.”But the religious leaders of Hanafi, Shaafai, Maliki and Hambli sects decided that once uttered thrice, talaq will be considered complete,” he said.Spokesman of All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Yasoob Abbas said there were many complexities involved in the issue.”A girl leaves her parents house for once and all after marriage and lives with her husband all through her life. In between if husband says talaq thrice in a fit of anger, her life is torn into pieces,” he observed.He said that at this juncture Ulemas should sit together and deliberate on the issue of triple talaq.Maintaining that the practice of triple talaq was causing immense problems in Muslim society, a body of clericsritten to the AIMPLB and Islamic scholars to build consensus on making a three-month period mandatory before finalisation of divorce.In letters to AIMPLB and clerics of Deoband and Barelvi sects, the Sunni Ulema Council claimed that in seven Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Sudan and Jordan, the mandatory condition of three months is in place and the community in India too should consider similar practice.It will lead to less divorces as couples will get time for reconciliation. If the husband has given triple talaq in a fit of rage or when he was in an inebriated condition, he can make amends which is not possible under the present practice of giving talaq in one go, said Haji Mohammed Salees, general secretary of the Council.

Govt won’t renew ordinance on land acquisition: PM Modi on ‘Mann ki Baat’

New Delhi: The government has decided to allow the land acquisition ordinance to lapse tomorrow and include 13 points in the rules to provide direct financial benefit to the farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

“We had brought in an ordinance (on land acquisition) which is lapsing on 31 August, and I have decided to let it lapse,” the Prime Minister said in his radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’.

File photo. PTI

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Observing that a lot of misinformation has been spread on the ordinance which has created a sense of fear and confusion in the minds of the farmers, he said the lapse of the ordinance would mean that the situation prevailing before his government came to power, would now prevail.

“However, there are some issues which have remained incomplete. This was that there were 13 points which needed to be completed in one year and were thus brought in the ordinance but got stuck in the controversy.

“Even though the ordinance is lapsing, these 13 points, which were meant to provide direct financial benefit to the farmers, are being brought under the rules effective from today so that the farmers do not face financial losses,” Modi said.

He said the suggestions to reform the land acquisition law had come from several quarters including the state governments.

Referring to various social security schemes, the Prime Minister said over 17.74 lakh new bank accounts have been opened under the Jan Dhan scheme, making it a big success. Under the scheme, the poor can open such a bank account with zero balance, but it is of significance that over Rs 22,000 crore have been deposited by the poor people through their hard-earned savings, he said.

“Apprehensions were being expressed whether what could not be done in the last 60 years, could be done within one year. This has been made possible by the hard work of several departments, ministries and banks, he said.

During his 25 minute radio address, the Prime Minister also touched upon several issues, including the importance of Sufism which, he said, could truly reflect the great teachings of Islam as its message was of love, liberalism and peace.

Here are some of the highlights from the 11th ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address:


Nearly all India’s Muslim women reject ‘triple talaq’, polygamy, survey finds | Reuters

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than 90 percent of Muslim women surveyed in India want the “triple talaq” divorce ritual and polygamy banned from family civil law in the country, a study by a women’s rights organisation said on Friday.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) said its survey also showed that three quarters of interviewees wanted a ban on child marriage, indicating a need for reforms in the Muslim personal law which governs family-related issues in India.

Activists say the current law discriminates against women and are calling for a well-defined Muslim law that criminalises polygamy, unilateral divorce, child custody and child marriage.

“It (the survey) suggests that Muslim women are aware of their legal rights and are determined to attain justice in family matters. An overwhelming number of women demand reforms in Muslim personal law as is prevalent in India today,” said a statement from the BMMA.

“They want an elaborate codified law based on the Koranic justice framework to cover matters such as age of marriage, divorce procedures, polygamy, maintenance and custody of children.”

Muslims are India’s largest religious minority, making up more than 13 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion population, yet government data shows they are among some of the most excluded and marginalised communities.

Social indicators amongst Muslim women in particular are lower than average in the country.

For example, the literacy rate for Muslim women is just 50 percent compared to nearly 68 percent for Muslim men, and below the national average for women of 53 percent, said the report.

Only one in 100 Muslim women are graduates, while an average of 37 percent of Indian women overall have had a tertiary education, it added.

The BMMA said that while there was an urgent need to improve Muslim women’s access to healthcare, education and employment, it was also essential to address their “legal marginalisation”.

The study, which surveyed 4,710 Muslim married women across 10 Indian states, found nearly 92 percent of respondents said a Muslim man should not be allowed to have another wife during the first marriage.

It also found that more than 88 percent of women interviewed wanted the legal divorce method to be the “talaq-e-ahsan” method — a practice spread over a period of 90 days and involving negotiation.

Many women surveyed had experienced triple talaq, under which a Muslim man can repeat the word “talaq” three times to divorce his wife.

The survey said some respondents were divorced orally, others by letters from their husbands, and some over the phone or by SMS. More than 78 percent had no say in the decision.

“The study has brought out a major injustice faced by Indian Muslim women through decades in the form of oral unilateral divorce or triple talaq,” said the report.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla, editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

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Blast kills Pakistani provincial minister in PM’s political heartland | Reuters

LAHORE, Pakistan A bomb killed one of Pakistan’s provincial ministers and at least eight others when it destroyed the minister’s home on Sunday in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s political heartland, rescue officials said.

Police said the blast appeared to be a suicide attack, and it had caused the roof to cave in as the home minister of Punjab province, Shuja Khanzada, held meetings with around 20 people in his hometown of Attock in northern Pakistan.

Salman Rafiq, provincial health adviser for Punjab, said Khanzada had died.

Punjab is Pakistan’s biggest and wealthiest province.

“There were between 20 and 30 people present when the blast took place,” district information officer Shahzad Niaz told Reuters. “The roof collapsed.”

Rescue workers at the scene said nine bodies had been recovered so far.

A Taliban-affiliated militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was retaliation for military operations against them.

“Such types of attacks will continue in the future,” Saluddin Ayubi told Reuters.

It was unclear if Lashkar-e-Islam, based mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, had actually carried out the attack or was just taking credit for it.

If the claim was true, the bombing would represent a significant development in the group’s ability to strike at high level targets. Such large attacks are more usually the hallmark of the Taliban or banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people, is plagued by a Taliban insurgency, criminal gangs and sectarian violence.

Punjab has traditionally been more peaceful than other parts of Pakistan. Sharif’s opponents have accused him of tolerating militancy in return for peace in his province, a charge he hotly denies.

Two weeks ago, Punjab police killed the leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, along with his two sons, deputy, and 10 other supporters.

Police described the incident as a shootout as he sought to escape from custody, but many insiders say the shooting had the hallmarks of an extrajudicial killing.

(Additional reporting by Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Islamic State claims Iraq car bomb that killed 40 – statement | Reuters

CAIRO Islamic State claimed a car bomb attack on Monday that killed at least 40 people and wounded 55 in a marketplace north of the eastern Iraqi city of Baquba.

The group, which controls large swathes of the country’s north and west, said in a statement circulated online by supporters that the target was “rejectionists”, as the radical Sunni militants refer to Shi’ite Muslims.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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50 Dalits in Haryana convert to Islam

Nearly 50 members of the Dalit community of Haryana’s Bhagana village on Saturday converted to Islam during protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar in the National Capital. The demonstration, organised by Bhagana Kand Sangarsh Samiti (BKSS) was against the alleged persecution faced by the Dalit community at the hands of upper caste Jats.

Nearly 50 members of the Dalit community of Haryana’s Bhagana village on Saturday converted to Islam during protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar in the National Capital. The demonstration, organised by Bhagana Kand Sangarsh Samiti (BKSS) was against the alleged persecution faced by the Dalit community at the hands of upper caste Jats. At the heart of the conflict in Haryana is the struggle over land and it’s use and ownership by the poor Dalits which has been grabbed by the dominant castes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Speaking to dna 45-year-old Ved Pal of the BKSS said that the movement to convert to Islam has been gaining pace ever since the brutal gang rape of four Dalit girls in Bhagana village in 2014.The girls were going out to fetch water in the evening and they saw a white colored car rushing towards them and grabbed them inside the car. The girls, aged between 13 and 18 years, belong to the landless Dhanuk caste, and worked for upper caste landowners. Ved Pal said the khap panchayat had imposed a social boycott against the caste group, forcing 250 families to leave their homes and flee the village. “The villagers had to leave our village facing total boycott. Barbers not cutting hair, kids being removed from schools and denying entry into temples is a common happening,” Pal said. On Saturday afternoon, around 50 people, all of them men, gathered for demonstration and after brief speeches of community leaders converted to Islam. The protesters recited verses of Quran and offered prayers as well. The development comes after almost a year of holding a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar. Previously, in a written statement, the victim families had said some of the victims have already converted to Islam in protest against the atrocities of upper caste Hindus. Satish Kajla, was among the men who converted to Islam on Saturday. While speaking to reporters said that by becoming Muslims he hopes that other Islamic nations would raise voice against the persecution the Dalit community faces.

UP madrassa starts course on "Islam and terrorism"

The move has been hailed by the UP Madrassa Shiksha Parishad or the state madrassa board which conducts examinations for the students of madrassas in UP, but there are apprehensions that it might not appeal equally to the Deobandi sect which has been traditionally opposed to the Barelvi school of thought.

A over 100-year-old madrassa in UP has tread into challenging territory by starting a course on “Islam and terrorism” for its ‘Faazil’ (graduation) students. The Jamia Rajvia Manzar-e-Islam madrassa, managed by the world renowned Ala Hazrat ‘dargah’ of Bareilly, has about 1,200 students, and is regarded as a prominent institution of the Barelvi sect.The move has been hailed by the UP Madrassa Shiksha Parishad or the state madrassa board which conducts examinations for the students of madrassas in UP, but there are apprehensions that it might not appeal equally to the Deobandi sect which has been traditionally opposed to the Barelvi school of thought.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The young Muslims of today need to be well informed in this area so that they are not misled by extremist elements claiming to be crusading for Islam,” says Maulana Shahabuddin, spokesperson for the madrassa. “There is no place for terrorism or mindless violence in Islam,” he said, speaking with mediapersons on Friday.The chairman of the UP madrassa board, Qazi Zainul Sazideen Mufti, has hailed the madrassa’s move as “revolutionary”. He said: “The Holy Quran and the Hadith (interpretation of the sacred book) preach peace and brotherhood. So, the madrassa has taken a step in the right direction. It is the need of the hour to educate our youth so that they don’t get carried away by terrorist outfits misusing Islam for their unholy designs.”The Barelvi sect of Islam was started towards the end of the 19th century by the much-revered Imam Ahmed Raza Khan, a Muslim scholar famous the world over as ‘Ala Hazrat’. This school of thought is known for its benevolent teachings regarding spreading peace and brotherhood throughout the world. It totally prohibits any kind of use of force or coercion to spread Islam. Its overly generous principles are often disputed by the Deobandi sect which holds more austere and stern views about the basic tenets of Islam.The Barelvi sect had recently made an equally path-breaking gambit when it declared that its imams would not perform the ‘namaz-e-janaaza’ (prayer at the time of death) for those killed due to their involvement in terrorist activities. The decision had created quite a storm in Mohammedan circles and sparked off a controversy over what detractors said was a denial of a basic religious right to a Muslim after his death.There are apprehensions that the latest move by this sect could also draw equally severe criticism from other quarters, especially the Deobandi sect.”Though this decision (of teaching Islam and terrorism) should not be faulted by anyone who swears by Islam, I am sure there will be severe opposition by some clerics for their vested interests and due to lack of a complete and wholesome understanding of the religion,” said a well-known Muslim cleric in Lucknow, insisting on anonymity. Path-breaking actThe Barelvi sect had recently made an equally path-breaking gambit when it declared that its imams would not perform the ‘namaz-e-janaaza’ (prayer at the time of death) for those killed due to their involvement in terrorist activities. The decision had created quite a storm in Mohammedan circles and sparked off a controversy over what detractors said was a denial of a basic religious right to a Muslim after his death.

Commander of dreaded Lashkar-e-Islam jumps into river, dies

Tariq Ahmad Mir alias Zahid Arif, divisional commander of Hizbul, and his associate had jumped into the river after security forces intercepted them near Sumbal on July 31.

Jammu and Kashmir police achieved a major success against Lashkar-e-Islam, a splinter group of Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen that had gone rogue, when they fished out a body of top commander involved in the enforcing of communication blockade in the apple rich township of Sopore.Tariq Ahmad Mir alias Zahid Arif, divisional commander of Hizbul, and his associate had jumped into the river after security forces intercepted them near Sumbal on July 31. His associate was able to swim across but Tariq could not cross the river and died of drowning.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Tariq along with another person was challenged by the Naka party of police and army but they ran away. They later jumped into the Ferozpur nullah. Tariq died of drowning while his associate managed to swim across,” Shabir Chaudhary, superintendent of police, Bandipora district, told dna.Tariq, police sources said was part of the group which killed telecom operators and former militants to enforce communication boycott in the north Kashmir especially in Sopore Township. Tariq, police said, was a close associate of Qayoom Najar, who is heading Lashkar-e-Islam.Hailing from Mawar-Handwara in Kupwara district, Tariq was involved in the killing of 55-year-old Ghulam Hassan Dar, who had rented out his land to service providers for setting up the mobile tower in Dooru village of Sopore in May.Police sources said he was also involved in the killing of Mehraj-ud-din Dar at Badam Bagh in Sopore in June. Operating since 2008, Tariq was also involved in the killing of four policemen in Haigam village of Sopore in 2013. He was also involved in the killing of Sarpanch at Bomai in Sopore.”He was involved in the attack on the Highway (Srinagar-Baramulla road) at Mirgund (in which four cops including SHO was injured). He was also involved in the killing of Sarpanch in Bomai. He has seven FIRs registered in Sopore and two in Handwara,” said Chaudhary. Attack on telecom operatorsTariq, police sources said was part of the group which killed telecom operators and former militants to enforce communication boycott in the north Kashmir especially in Sopore Township. Tariq, police said, was a close associate of Qayoom Najar, who is heading Lashkar-e-Islam.

Do not call it Hindu terrorism: Rajnath ko gussa kyon aaya?

He may be bland and boring but in the fire and brimstone culture of Sangh Parivar swarming with rabble-rousers, Rajnath Singh comes across as a sober figure with a cool head. Calm, unruffled, civil. The sort of person who, even if someone were to plant a smouldering firecracker under his seat, is likely to continue to stand there pretending that he is only warming his feet— and drone on.

Unlike many of his colleagues,who can’t open their mouth without putting their foot into it, he is always extremely measured in his utterances and likes to avoid controversies. But how long can a chip of the old (Parivar) block, hold his horses? So, on Friday, the mask slipped.

Singh turned up in the Lok Sabha in an uncharacteristically confrontational mood — all fired up as if on instructions from HQ, prompting a Hindi TV channel to ask: Rajnathkogussakyonaaya?

Well, he was upset, to put it mildly, over the description of acts of terrorism allegedly involving Hindus as “Hindu terrorism”. It was a term, he said, invented by the wily Congress to ingratiate itself with Muslims and give Hindus a bad name. It had damaged India’s image, “weakened” its fight against terror, and helped terrorists from across the border.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFPHome Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Wagging his finger at Congress benches, a visibly agitated Singh accused former home minister Sushil Kumar Shindeof “coining” the derogatory term which, he suggested, effectively tarred the entire Hindu community –indeed Hinduism itself.
“Terrorism has no religion , caste or colour.In this House in 2013, the then Home Minister had coined the new terminology ‘Hindu terrorism’ in order to change the direction of probe (into incidents of terrorism). It weakened our fight. As a consequence, Hafiz Sayeed (LeT founder) of Pakistan had congratulated the then Home Minister.Whatever is happening now is the result of the UPA’s policies. Our government will never allow such a shameful situation again,”he thundered as his party colleagues thumped their desks in approval.

Singh’s outburst, which followed a statement he made on the Gurdaspur incident, was completely unprovoked as his statement had been heard with “rapt’’ attention by Congress members, as ANI news agency reported pointing out that its MPs who had been protesting earlier “suspended their protests and return to their seats” to hear the minister.

“We all welcomed, clapped (over Singh’s statement)…because the country is one and there is no compromise on terrorism and unity and integrity of the country,” MallikarjunKharge, leader of the Congress in the House, said expressing his surprise over Singh’s attack.

Lest anyone missed the point of Singh’s overblown rhetoric, here’s a deconstruction. It was a classic case of setting up a strawman argument and then striking it down in order to score cheap political points. Nobody had suggested that terrorism has religion, caste or colour; nor indeed was there any mention of Hindu terrorism on this particular occasion.

So, what was it all about? Clearly, he was trying to milk the occasion to politicise a sensitive issue by digging up an old comment and quoting it out of context. His ill-tempered speech came from that old, time-tested playbook of right-wing Hindu nationalism: namely portraying the BJP as the sole custodian of national interests(“Our government will never allow such a shameful situation again”) and dismissing its liberal critics—in this case the Congress– as “anti-national” .

Singh’s rant (for that’s what it ultimately sounded like as he randomly brought in other issues like the Sharm-el-Sheikh statement on relations with Pakistan and the 1962 India-China war) was typical of the party’s double standards, its self-righteousness and its divisive agenda portraying Hindus as “victims” in the same way that the Muslim Right remains permanently in a grievance mode.

Which tempts me to ask him a question. Assuming that he genuinely believes that terrorism should not be equated with religion, why has he or his party never protested that the mad acts of some followers of Islam shouldn’t be called “Muslim” or ” Islamic”‘terrorism? Or that the sins of a few should not be visited on the entire community? How is that a party which gets so prickly at the mention of Hindu or saffron terrorism happily uses religious labels to describe acts of extremism committed by members of other communities?

Forget Muslims, what about Sikhs? Remember the Hindu Right’s angry denunciation of “Sikh terrorism” even though Sikhs themselves were suffering at the hands of Khalistani militants, just as Muslims are now suffering at the hands of Muslim extremists? And why didn’t the BJP object to LTTE’s violence being dubbed “Tamil terror” ?

Moreover, can Singh deny that Hindus –and individuals with RSS links—have been involved in terrorist activities? Their alleged role in the Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (initially pinned on Muslims as a default reaction) and terror incidents at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and the Malegaon mosque are a matter of record.

It was in the context of these incidents that while addressing an AICC session in 2013, Shinde referred to “Hindu terrorism’’ accusing Hindu extremist organisations of running terror training camps. Faced with the joint fury of the RSS and the BJP (RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya publicly accused the Congress of protecting Muslim terrorists while BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi darkly warned of “serious consequences” if Sonia Gandhi did not apologise for her minister’s remarks!) Shinde said he meant to call it “saffron” terrorism.

I hold no brief for Shinde. He was an utterly incompetent home minister and like some of Singh’s mates he also can’t help putting his foot in his mouth. But were his remarks off the wall? No. Because however much the BJP might protest, it cannot get away from the charge of Hindu terrorism.

The biggest act of terrorism its supporters committed in the name of “protecting” Hinduism was what they did in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when in full public view and in the presence of some of the party’s tallest leaders they brought down Babri Masjid after giving solemn assurance to the Supreme Court that it would not be touched.

Can Singh deny the bloody consequences and legacy of what self-avowed Hindu nationalists did that day in the name of their religion? Was it not a case of “Hindu terrorism” in the same way that acts of violence committed in the name of Islam are termed “Muslim terrorism”?

BJP’s eternal problem is that, for it, “hell is (always) other people”, as Sartre put it; and its sense of self-righteousness causes even otherwise sensible people like Rajnath Singh to protest too much. As he did on Friday.

‘We’re now human being with full human rights’: Crowds celebrate India-Bangladesh land exchange

Dashiar Chhara (Bangladesh): Jubilant crowds celebrated on Friday as Bangladesh and India swapped tiny islands of land, ending one of the world’s most intractable border disputes that has kept thousands in stateless limbo for nearly seven decades.

As the clock struck one minute past midnight, thousands of people who have been living without schools, clinics or power for a generation erupted in cheers in celebration at their newfound citizenship.

People of Mashal Danga Enclave celebrate with tricolor rangoli near India- Bangladesh border in Cooch Behar District. PTIPeople of Mashal Danga Enclave celebrate with tricolor rangoli near India- Bangladesh border in Cooch Behar District. PTI

People of Mashal Danga Enclave celebrate with tricolor rangoli near India- Bangladesh border in Cooch Behar District. PTI

“We have been in dark for 68 years,” said Russel Khandaker, 20, as he danced with friends in the Dashiar Chhara enclave, which belonged to India but has now became part of Bangladesh.

A total of 162 tiny enclaves — 111 in Bangladesh and 51 in India — were officially handed over to the countries surrounding them after Dhaka and New Delhi struck a border agreement in June.

The land-swap means some 50,000 people who have been living without a state to call their own since 1947 will now officially become part of the countries that surround their homes.

In Bangladesh, thousands of people defied monsoon rains to celebrate, staging patriotic marches and lighting 68 candles to mark the end of “68 years of endless pain and indignity”.

“We were Indian citizens in names but cut off from the mainland. With the transfer, we’ve now become Bangladeshi citizens and can now access all citizenship benefits,” said Khandaker. “We’ve finally seen the light,” he told AFP.

Maidul Islam, 18, added: “We’re now human being with full human rights.”


Obama says entrepreneurs in Africa can give hope, deliver growth | Reuters

NAIROBI U.S. President Barack Obama said in Kenya on Saturday that African entrepreneurs could help counter violent ideologies and make the continent a hub for global growth, helping create opportunities in Africa that offset any threat from terrorism.

Obama was speaking during the first U.S. presidential visit to Kenya, which is his father’s homeland and the biggest economy in east Africa but has also suffered from a spate of attacks by Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab.

President Uhuru Kenyatta called the United States a “very strong supporter of Kenya” and said his country needed help to tackle security threats. “No single country can deal with this problem,” he said in talks with Obama. “We need to partner.”

Before the two leaders held closed-door discussions, Obama told Kenyatta: “The challenges of terrorism are ones that have to be addressed, but the opportunities for growth and prosperity … are the things that the people of Africa are most hungry for.”Obama, who was welcomed at State House with a gun salute, said Kenya was an example of the opportunities Africa offered.

The talks at State House were attended by Deputy President William Ruto, who is facing charges at the International Criminal Court that he fomented ethnic killings after Kenya’s disputed 2007 election. He denies the charges. Kenyatta had faced similar charges, but these have since been dropped.

Earlier on Saturday, Obama spoke at a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a U.S.-sponsored initiative to boost business ties with Africa, where China overtook the United States as the continent’s biggest trade partner in 2009.

“Africa is on the move. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world,” Obama told the conference, where he was greeted by applause as he began with the words “Jambo”, the Swahili for “hello”. “It is wonderful to be back in Kenya.”

He continued: “Entrepreneurship offers a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division that can all too often fill the void when young people don’t see a future for themselves.”


He said government also needed to help by establishing the rule of law and curbing corruption, mentioning two issues often cited by businesses as major obstacles to investment.

An array of technology and other companies have started up in recent years in Africa in a bid to shift the continent away from a traditional focus of commodity exports, but entrepreneurs often complain they cannot find affordable capital to operate.

“Africa is open for business,” Kenyatta said in his speech to the entrepreneurship conference.

Kenya’s economy is expected to grow by about 6 percent this year. The economy of Ethiopia, Obama’s next stop, is forecast to expand by more than 10 percent, although right groups say Addis Ababa’s economic achievements are at the expense of free speech.

After attending the conference, Obama laid a wreath to victims of the 1998 bombing by Islamist militants of the U.S. Embassy. The site of the attack in central Nairobi is now a memorial park. The new mission is further from the centre.

Kenya has been hit by a spate of attacks in the past two years launched by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab. In 2013, al Shabaab gunmen assaulted Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall, leaving at least 67 people dead.

In April, al Shabaab attacked a university in Kenya’s northeast near the Somali border, killing 148 people.

Some Africans complain that Obama, whose father is buried in western Kenya, has not paid enough attention to the continent in his presidency. Obama has sought to change that perception, in part by hosting African leaders in Washington last year.

(Additional reporting by George Obulutsa; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Grenade attacks on telecom installations rattle Srinagar, police suspect Hizbul splinter group

Srinagar: A series of grenade attacks on mobile towers and telecom offices on Friday rattled Srinagar city, a day after the Hizbul Mujahideen expelled a “rogue” militant, who is believed to have planned similar attacks on mobile installations in north Kashmir.

Representational image. Image courtesy-ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy-Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy-Reuters

Four grenades were lobbed at telecom infrastructure in a span of a few hours by unknown assailants, who managed to escape from the disrupted areas, leaving the police clueless about their whereabouts. Two persons were hurt in the attacks.

Two telecom offices and a mobile tower were targeted in Karan Nagar, the commercial hub of Srinagar city, barely a kilometre away from the chief minister’s office. Another grenade was lobbed at a mobile tower in the Wazir Bagh locality.

The attacks, according to preliminary investigations, are believed to be the handiwork of a splinter group of the Hizbul Mujahideen led by Abdul Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandroo. The group is active in different parts of north Kashmir.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Syed Javed Mujtaba Gillani said there are around ten militants in Najar’s group who have been frequenting Srinagar. “As Najar was responsible for the Hizbul Mujahideen’s north Kashmir chapter, he may have also carried out the attacks in Srinagar to create panic and spread fear,” he said.

“It seems that the attacks in Srinagar were carried by the same group which had earlier carried out attacks in Sopore,” Gillani, told Firstpost.

Earlier, unidentified gunmen had killed six people in Sopore. The J&K police had blamed the killings on the Najar-led group. On Thursday, the Hizb chief, Syed Salahuddin, also blamed Najar for killing civilians and attacking the telecom infrastructure, including the local people associated with it, in Sopore town.

“During his address to the Hizb Command Council, Syed Salahuddin said that the basic membership of Najar has been suspended as he played a key role in murdering some innocent persons, indulged in the character assassination of Hurriyat leaders and attacked the telecommunication set up in Valley,” Hizb spokesperson Salim Hashmi said.

“The report submitted by an inquiry into the killings has proved that Qayoom Najar in utter disregard to the Hizb leadership violated the constitution of the outfit and carried out condemnable acts. Our constitution does not allow or permit such actions,” Salahuddin said.

But the relatives of the slain persons expressed suspicion that the security agencies carried out the killings, especially in the backdrop of the union defence minister Manohar Parrikar‘s “terrorist-for-terrorist” remarks.

Tufail Ahmad Reshi, whose brother was killed by two unidentified gunmen on June 15 outside his medical shop in Mundji of Sopore, doesn’t believe that militants are responsible for his brother’s murder.

“I don’t understand why any militant would kill my innocent brother. He was only 37 and had a family to take care of. I would like to believe this is not true,” he said, after being told that the Hizbul Mujahideen had accused Najar of being involved in the killing.

Whatever the truth may be, the attacks in the heart of Srinagar city have left security agencies in a tizzy with the traders associated with telecom companies fearing that it might bring back the environment of terror which prevailed in June and even lead to the closure of cellular services in the capital. Experts believe that it may also affect tourism in the state.

Telecom installations in the valley became a target in June when unknown gunmen, claiming to be associated with a lesser known outfit, Lashkar-i-Islam, killed two persons associated with the telecom sector in Sopore town. In subsequent attacks, four more people, including a Hurriyat activist, were gunned down.

The crisis sparked by the killings led to a shutdown of mobile services for over a week in north Kashmir with over 70 percent subscribers affected in the Valley. The wave of attacks came in the backdrop of threatening posters issued by “Lashkar-e-Islam”.

The printed posters, carrying the logo of the outfit, said that telecommunication was one of the “dirtiest conspiracies” of India that has led to the “martyrdom” and the arrest of many militant commanders and cadres.

“If the government can’t guarantee our security, why should people put their lives at risk? We will have to ultimately shut our shops. The absence of security will affect the entire society, not merely a particular group of people.” Rehaan Malik, who works at an Airtel franchise in Srinagar, said.

Since the attacks in June, mobile services in Sopore town continue to be in crisis with cable operators too shutting down their establishments. “The mobile phones are working, but there is not even a single shop in Sopore which sells recharge cards for prepaid connections. This has affected our business and daily life,” Rahi Mohiudin, a resident of downtown Sopore, said in a phone conversation.

PM Modi bats for stronger defence and security cooperation between India and Central Asia

Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday underlined the common Islamic heritage of both India and Central Asia which has always rejected the forces of extremism and strongly pitched for enhanced defence and security cooperation between the two to combat terrorism.

On his first visit to Central Asian countries, Modi, who flew to Kazakhstan’s capital from Uzbekistan earlier in the day, asserted that both India and Central Asia cannot achieve their full potential without each other and nor will the region be more stable without the cooperation between the two.

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Addressing a gathering at the Nazerbayev University, the Prime Minister said, “We live at the frontier of instability. We live close to the crucible of extremism and terrorism. We see terrorism spawned by nations and groups. Today, we also see cyber space become a platform without borders for terror to draw recruits to its cause.”

“So, during this visit, we will strengthen our defence and security cooperation in the region. But, we will also combat terrorism by the strength of our values and our commitment to humanism.”

Asserting that he has come to write a “new chapter in an ancient relationship”, Modi said, “the Islamic heritage of both India and Central Asia is defined by the highest ideals of Islam –- knowledge, piety, compassion and welfare. This is a heritage founded on the principle of love and devotion.”

“And, it has always rejected the forces of extremism. Today, this is an important source of strength that brings India and Central Asia together.”

He also noted that the confluence of Indian and Islamic civilisations took place in Central Asia and enriched each other not only in spiritual thought but also in medicine, science, mathematics and astronomy.

Immediately after his arrival, Modi held talks with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov on various key bilateral and regional issues. The Prime Minister will be holding extensive talks with the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev tomorrow after which the two countries are likely to ink a number of pacts including in the field of energy.

During his nearly half-an-hour speech, Modi touched upon other important issues including regional connectivity, establishment of a 21st century silk route and economic integration between India and Central Asian countries.


Shiv Sena support Maharashtra govt’s move to declassify madrasas, says it’s not anti-religious

Mumbai: Amid outrage over Maharashtra government’s decision to de-recognise madrasas which only educate students on Islam, the Shiv Sena on Sunday said the move should not be seen as one intended to strike a blow to religious education in the state.

Shiv Sena. IBNLiveShiv Sena. IBNLive

Shiv Sena. IBNLive

The Sena came down heavily on those opposing the state government’s decision and said that protests are being held only due to fears that if Muslims start thinking independently, parties, whose existence lies on playing vote-bank politics will be in danger.

“The government has taken a decision to treat madrasas that do not teach subjects like English, Science and Mathematics as non-schools. This move should not be seen as one which is pre-conceived or which is intended to strike a blow to religious education. On the contrary, this should be taken as a way to get Muslim children in the mainstream,” the Sena said in an edit in its mouthpiece Saamana.

It further sought to know what is wrong in bringing children who are studying in madrasas to the mainstream and where is the question of spreading communalism with the initiative.

“Muslims have been caught between Islam, Islamic education and extremism. Thus, while the world is progressing with each passing day, Muslims are only stuck between ignorance and illiteracy,” it said.

“If Muslims too start thinking independently, what will happen to the contractors of Islam and parties like the Congress that thrive on such vote bank politics? This is what is leading them to oppose the government’s decision,” it added.

The Sena said the government has made it clear that not only madrasas but even religious institutions of other faiths will be classified as non-schools and thus, the government’s move should not be seen as a revenge against the Muslim community.