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Palestinians protesters denounce Trump’s plan Issue: 142

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Tens of thousands of worshippers descended on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first Friday prayers after US President Donald Trump announced his Middle East plan to resolve the decades-old PalestinianIsraeli conflict.

Despite the cold weather made worse by rain and strong winds, men, women and children responded to the call for prayer from the 14-hectare (35acre) compound in Jerusalem, where the Dome of the Rock and the adjacent silver-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque are

located. People promised to show a strong presence at the holy site following Trump’s announcement that the city, where the al-Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary is located, would remain the “undivided capital” of Israel. Continued on page 3

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By Bill Frelick

Refugee Rights Director Human Rights Watch

It is time to change the definition of refugee

Despite recent and increasing efforts by the United States and other governments to narrow their interpretations of the refugee definition and to shirk their protection responsibilities, the need to expand the grounds for asylum is becoming increasingly urgent as the consequences of climate change become more pronounced. A desperate appeal for asylum by a family from a Pacific island may have far-reaching implications for protecting people forcibly displaced by the effects of climate change. It could cause countries around the world to reconsider their laws and policies concerning refugees. The case involves the Teitiota family, who fled the island of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati in 2007 and sought asylum in New Zealand in 2013. Ms Teitiota told the New Zealand court that she feared for her children’s health and wellbeing, that crops and coconut trees on the island were dying. She explained that because of rising sea levels, people were moving from neighbouring atols to Tarawa which led to overcrowding, frequent conflicts between residents and the spread of disease. She shared stories about children getting diarrhoea and even dying because their already scarce drinking water had become contaminated. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of New Zealand dismissed the case, saying the family did not meet the standards required by the Refugee Convention and deported them in 2015. That same year, the father of the family filed a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Committee, an independent expert body that monitors government compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He claimed that New Zealand had violated his right to life under the covenant because the sea level rise had shrunk habitable

space in Kiribati, resulting in violent land disputes and environmental degradation. On January 7, the Committee issued its views, finding the threats to life posed by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change necessitate a broadening of refugee law. “The obligation not to extradite, deport or otherwise transfer pursuant to article 6 of the Covenant,” the committee said, citing its provision on the right to life, “may be broader than the scope of non-refoulement under international refugee law, since it may also require the protection of aliens not entitled to refugee status.” The principle of non-refoulement is a cornerstone of international refugee law, barring the return of refugees defined as people with a well-founded fear of being persecuted - to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened. The committee noted that Kiribati will become uninhabitable within the next 10 to 15 years because of rising sea levels. Both sudden events, like storms, and slow processes, like salinisation and land degradation, the committee said, “can propel cross-border movement of individuals seeking protection from climatechange related harm thereby triggering the non-refoulement obligations of sending states.” Under a “moderate future scenario”, scientists project that sea level rise in the next 30 years will put about 150 million people permanently below the high tide line. Although most of this displacement will not compel people to cross international borders, people living in countries like Kiribati, which are likely to become completely inundated, will have no choice but to seek asylum outside their country. But Pacific islands are not alone in facing such threats. In landlocked countries like Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe, where populations are heavily reliant on agriculture and livestock, rising

temperatures have contributed to flooding, drought, famine and disease that erode not only arable land but also the resilience of populations that have suffered armed conflict and human rights violations. Whether environmental disasters are the direct cause of displacement or an aggravating factor in combination with violence, inequality, and poor governance, millions of people on the African continent have already been displaced internally or forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries because they consider staying at their homes a threat to their lives. Because the committee held out hope that the government of Kiribati still has time to intervene to protect its citizens through relocation and other measures, it did not accept the family’s claim that their rights had been violated, saying the risk to their lives was not imminent. One of the dissenting committee members who ruled on this case, however, wrote that the family would “have no access to safe drinking water, which poses an imminent threat to their lives,” while another said, “It would indeed be counterintuitive to the protection of life, to wait for deaths to be very frequent and considerable; in order to consider the threshold of risk as met.” While there still may be room to argue whether life-threatening threats are imminent in particular cases, the Human Rights Committee has recognised that fundamental refugeeprotection principles need to be broadened now. This means not only that our common understanding of what it means to be a refugee needs to change, but also that the 173 countries that are party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should ensure their asylum standards and procedures are adapted to protect all who face existential threats if returned to home countries that have become unlivable.

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Continued from front page

“The deal is humiliating and unacceptable. Trump wants to deny us access to our Al-Aqsa. This holy site is ours. We will never give it up,” said Um Khaled al-Jawabri, who lives in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. “Even if it requires sacrificing all our blood, Palestine’s capital will always be Jerusalem,” he said. Under Trump’s plan, the eighthcentury site, regarded by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and important for all three Abrahamic faiths, would be under Israeli control. In 1947, the United Nations drew up a plan to divide Palestine between Jews and Palestinians, leading to the creation of Israel. Since then, the AlAqsa compound has been under UN administration.

Palestinians decry the increasing Israeli encroachment over the site, which intensified after the 1967 war, which resulted in an Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, where the Old City and the Mosque are located. Trump’s 181-page document says Jerusalem’s holy sites “should remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths”. “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors,” it said. The document elicited strong

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reactions from Palestinian worshippers who said they were worried that if implemented, the deal would deny freedom of access to the compound and prayer rights. For Ahmad Hamad, a 25-yearold resident of the Old City and volunteer paramedic at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century was an offensive plan to “take away Al-Aqsa from us [Palestinians]”. “We reject this deal, especially since it impacts our right to Al-Aqsa,” said Hamad. “As Palestinians, we will never give up a single inch of this land, or of our holy sites whether it’s the al-Haram al-Sharif or the Church of Holy Sepulchre,” he added. Hamad said a large crowd that gathered for the morning prayers at the Mosque was hurried away by Israeli security forces. “Ten worshippers were injured after Israeli forces used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd,” he said. A statement by the Islamic Waqf organisation confirmed 11 people were wounded, without giving further details. Videos from the holy site on Friday showed a heavy Israeli security presence at the compound, with forces motioning worshippers to leave after the prayers. www.pi-media.co.uk


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I February 2020

Muslims launch ‘guardian’ group after far-right threats

Members of the Muslim community in Rotherham are launching a neighbourhood protection group with more than 100 volunteers after three mosques were targeted by the far-right. The new body, which will be styled on the Shomrim group in Jewish communities, said it would aim to provide reassurance and possibly self-defence training for imams in light of the security concerns. The far-right group Britain First has carried out what it described as a “major operation” in the South

Yorkshire town over last month, distributing leaflets and visiting mosques, taxi ranks and hotels to warn about grooming of young girls for sex. The attempt to inflame tensions followed a newspaper report this month about a police watchdog investigation into an unidentified officer who apparently told a grooming victim’s father that the police could do nothing about the abuse “because of racial tensions” if it became public. A damning report in 2014 found that failures in political and police

leadership had contributed to the abuse of more than 1,400 children, largely by men of Pakistani heritage, over a 16-year period. Similar patterns of abuse – and failures in civic leadership – have since emerged in towns and cities across England but the issue remains particularly sensitive in Rotherham. There were 14 far-right demonstrations and an 81-year-old Muslim man was killed in a racially motivated attack in the year after the report. Muhbeen Hussain, the Rotherham-born founder of British Muslim Youth who is setting up the new group, with the Rotherham Muslim Community Forum, said members of the Muslim community were fearful that Britain First could reignite tensions with its latest campaign. He said more than 100 people had already volunteered for the new body, which will be called Muhafiz (“guardian”), and that its first priority would be coordinating between mosques and South Yorkshire police. Britain First “were able to visit three mosques and nobody was aware, there was no coordination”, he said.

UK Govt to introduce new counter-terrorism bill in March

Freshly invigorated by their resounding success in last month’s general election, the hard right Tory government is pressing ahead with its plans to radicalise Britain’s security environment even further. According to the Home Office a new terror and security bill will be introduced in Parliament in midMarch. A central feature of the new bill is the imposition of harsher custodial sentences on convicted terrorists and stricter monitoring by the authorities once they are released.

The Home Office plans to scrap automatic early release for terrorism convicts, in addition to imposing a minimum prison term of 14 years for serious terrorism-related offences. The hardline Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has used the terror attack in London Bridge in late November 2019 – in which two people were killed – to justify the new measures. The Home Secretary claimed that the “senseless terror attack” has “confronted us with some hard truths about how we deal with terrorist offenders”.

Apart from imposing harsher prison sentences and more stringent monitoring post-release, the new Home Office measures include a 10 percent increase in terror funding to the value of £90 million. More broadly, the new counterterrorism bill envisages the doubling of counter-terrorism probation officers, as well as increasing the number of specialist “psychologists” and “imams” (religious scholars) to help “de-radicalise” terror offenders. www.pi-media.co.uk


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UK police pull ‘outrageous’ pamphlet on extremism

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Britain’s anti-terror police were forced to withdraw a document that said believing Muslims were oppressed was a sign of extremism after uproar from rights groups, local media reported. The Metro, a British daily, reported a 12-page document released by counter terrorism police in southeast England was intended to give examples of behavior to look out for that could be considered “extremist.” The document was called “Safeguarding young people and adults from ideological extremism,” and listed several extremist groups.

Chief amongst them was Al Muhajiroun group. The organization has already been banned for supporting terrorist groups, but controversy arose over what police considered to be their other extreme views. The document read: “Al Muhajiroun promotes the view that Muslims are persecuted in the UK by the government and media. You may hear someone state this view or voice concern for ‘oppressed Muslims’ in other countries.” It was this kind of wide-ranging accusation that lead several Muslim and rights groups to voice concern

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that freedom of speech could be undermined. With protests in India over a controversial citizenship law perceived to discriminate against Muslims, and increasing global alarm over Chinese treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority, the fear was that Muslims could be shut out of debates, already widely reported by mainstream media, for fear of being seen as extremist. The document did not just include groups like Al Muhajiroun and neoNazis. It is also included Extinction Rebellion, an activist environmental group that engage in disruptive civil disobedience to raise awareness about climate change. A police spokesperson said the document was designed “for a very specific audience” who understood the “complexities” of the environment they work in. “We are in the process of confirming who it has been shared with and recalling it,” the spokesperson said. “We as Counter Terrorism Policing, along with our partners, have a responsibility to protect vulnerable people. Officers are trained to spot those who may be vulnerable. www.pi-media.co.uk

Grenfell inquiry at risk of turning into whitewash The second phase of the Grenfell Tower inquiry is at risk of descending into a whitewash as the firms involved in the refurbishment of the building have requested immunity from prosecution as a condition for their cooperation. The request is believed to have been communicated to the inquiry chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, effectively asking him to secure an immunity guarantee from the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox. In reaction to the request, MooreBick said: “What they are asking me to do is to apply to the attorney general for an undertaking that nothing said by a witness in answer

to questions asked in the inquiry will be used in furtherance of a prosecution against them”. There were reportedly “gasps” in the inquiry hearing room when Moore-Bick announced the news to the people present. The firms seeking immunity from prosecution are cladding company Harley Facades and the building contractor Rydon. In addition, the Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation and “some others” (according to Moore-Bick) are requesting immunity from the attorney general. The Grenfell Tower inquiry’s second phase began on January 27

and is examining how the building was covered in flammable cladding during its refurbishment between 2012 and 2016. Harley Facades, Rydon and the Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation are expected to attend the hearing in London tomorrow. It is believed their requests for immunity will be discussed at the hearing ahead of witness testimonies beginning on February 03. The Grenfell Tower block fire disaster of June 14, 2017, was the worst UK residential fire since the Second World War, as it claimed 72 lives. www.pi-media.co.uk


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Muslim association of Britain elects first female president

The Shura Council of the Muslim Association of Britain elected Raghad Altikriti as its new President. Altikriti previously served as the Vice President and Head of Media, having been involved with the organisation since its inception. The MAB said her “historic election and incredible dedication to the organization has long served as inspiration for many and has continued to pave the way for many to get involved.”

Upon her appointment, Altikriti said: “It is an honor to be elected as the first female President of the Muslim Association of Britain, to represent and serve our members from all across the country. “I look forward to working with our branches and departments to strengthen our ties to civil society and continue pushing for the betterment of society. As our country continues to face increased division and distrust, I hope that with this

new leadership we can bring and promote continued unity and mutual understanding.” She added: “While we’re proud of this moment, there’s so much more work that needs to be done. We hope this will pave the way to support more female participation and bridge the gender disparity across the different levels, acknowledging that the years ahead will be defining in its challenges for British Muslims. “I will continue to ensure that we successfully celebrate and elevate the contributions of British Muslims across the country to civil society and beyond.” The Muslim Association of Britain was founded in 1997 with the aim of encouraging Muslims to participate proactively in the British society, to make the most of the avenues available and to function positively to become fruitful citizens of the UK. It says it cooperates with others to address complex issues affecting society: rising crime and prison populations, failure in education, spread of racism, rise in antiIslam hatred – Islamophobia, drug addiction, violence and the growing disconnect of youth from society.

UK Treasury orders freeze on Hezbollah assets In Case Y o Missed It u

Sajid Javid, the British Chancellor, has ordered a freeze on assets of the political wing of Hezbollah amid the fallout over the killing of the Iranian military general Qassem Suleimani. In February Mr Javid, then Home Secretary, made the move to ban the Lebanon-based group in its entirety alongside Ansaroul Islam and JNIM who operate in the Sahel region in Africa. A Treasury notice reminded banks and financial institutions that accounts linked to Hezbollah must be closed. “Failure to comply with financial sanctions legislation is a criminal offence or to seek to circumvent its provisions is a

criminal offence,” it said. “Following the annual review of the existing designation against Hezbollah Military Wing, the decision was taken to designate the entire organisation under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act etc 2010 (TAFA),” a Treasury spokesperson told The National. “This brings the designation in line with the Home Office proscription of the organisation in 2019. The existing listing of Hezbollah Military Wing is an EUwide listing. This remains in place and still applies in the UK.” “The UK remains committed to the stability of Lebanon and the region, and we continue to work

closely with our Lebanese partners,” the spokesperson added. The Iran-linked organisation’s military group has already been outlawed by Britain and the country deems it a terrorist organisation. It leads some of Iran’s proxy militias in the Middle East, that hold sway in parts of eastern and southern Syria and northwest, as well as several suburbs around the capital Damascus. The opposition Labour party criticised the proscription when it came into effect in February last year, saying that it was motivated at the time by the leadership campaign then underway in the ruling Conservatives.


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148 Bangladeshi migrants return from Libya via UN help

A total of 148 migrants who had left for Libya from Bangladesh in search of better employment opportunities, returned to Dhaka via voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) by the UN migration agency. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) charted a flight carrying the migrants, the National Communication Officer for the IOM in Dhaka, Md. Sariful Islam, confirmed to Anadolu Agency. The flight included people who were wounded in conflict, survivors of failed sea crossings to Europe and former detainees. It left from Misrata Airport in

Libya and arrived in Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, he said. Md. Tuhin, 26, went to Libya nine years ago through a middleman in the Faridpur district of Dhaka. He worked as cleaner. In 2014, he wanted to return to Bangladesh but could not afford the price of a airline ticket and stayed in war-torn Libya. “I passed awful days there, I could not go for work often because of a strike as the country was in a war mood. I failed to make any savings for my family even after years of staying in Libya to support after my return to Bangladesh,” he told the

State-owned food certifier AsureQuality is stepping into halal audit and accreditation. Late last year, the company acquired an 80% stake in New Zealand Islamic Development Trust (NZIDT Ltd), NZ’s top provider of halal audit and certification services to food exporters. NZ meat and dairy exporters require NZIDT certification to make halal claims and to gain market access for exports to Muslim

communities around the world. AsureQuality chief executive John McKay told Rural News that the acquisition is a natural extension of the halal training services his company provides. McKay says the halal business is huge for NZ red meat and dairy exporters: in 2018 NZ exported $3.5 billion of halal products. He says NZIDT certification is crucial for existing food exporters to have market access.

Anadolu Agency, adding that there are more Bangladeshis in Libya who want to go back home. Md Akbor, another returnee, narrated to the IOM he got a job in a factory but the salary was not enough to survive. One day an airstrike hit his factor. Thirteen people, including four Bangladeshis, died in the strike. “It was a horrible experience. I saw people dying. Fortunately, I was alive,” he said. Md Tuhind and Md Akbor, among others, communicated with the IOM in Libya through the Bangladesh Embassy and finally returned to home. “As hostilities continue in Libya, we spare no effort in protecting and assisting the most vulnerable Bangladeshi migrants who find themselves stranded in most precarious conditions. We also make sure that there is a support system available for them upon return home to address the immediate humanitarian and longer-term reintegration needs,” said IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri Since 2015, more than 1,400 Bangladeshi migrants have returned through the VHR program.troops have also been missing. www.pi-media.co.uk

New Zealand: Government moves into Halal Accreditation

“AsureQuality has been actively engaged in the halal market for some time through the training services we provide,” he said. “This investment further builds on that offering and will enable us to further build on the skills and expertise of NZIDT and support the organisation to focus on do what they do best.”ebut in the competition.eligious scholars) to help “de-radicalise” terror offenders. www.pi-media.co.uk


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Malaysia PM doubles down on his criticism of India

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saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government was seeking to target Malaysia after Mahathir’s recent criticism of India. Last year, Mahathir said India invaded and occupied Kashmir following a military crackdown on the Muslim majority region. In December, Mahathir hit out at the BJP government over a new citizenship law seen as discriminating against Muslim migrants. Mahathir said events in India were causing a lot of unhappiness among its people. “And the whole world feels that it’s wrong to discriminate,” he said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has again defended voicing out against New Delhi’s policies on Kashmir and its controversial citizenship law, at the same time expressing concerns over reports of plans in India to restrict imports of Malaysian palm oil. “We’re concerned of course because we sell a lot of palm oil

to India. But on the other hand, we need to be frank and say when something goes wrong,” he told reporters. “If we allow things to go wrong and think only about the money, then a lot of things will go wrong,” the Malaysian premier said at an event in Kuala Lumpur. Reuters had quoted sources as

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FRC slams Myanmar panel’s denial of Rohingya genocide A Rohingya advocacy group hit out at a Myanmar government-backed commission report that denied there was any genocide of the persecuted community. In a statement, Europe-based Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) slammed the findings of Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry that there is “no” or “insufficient” evidence to establish the genocidal intent behind Myanmar’s destruction of the Rohingya community. Nay San Lwin, the co-founder of the group, said: “This is yet another Myanmar commission set up to deny and dismiss credible findings of the decades-long and ongoing genocide of our Rohingya people.” The so-called independent

commission is headed by a Rosario Manalo, a former deputy foreign minister of the Philippines. “The commission has not established facts, but merely handed over a thick pack of lies, distortions and denial for Myanmar’s use at various international tribunals,” Nay said, Anadolu Agency reported. The findings of the commission were released just as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to announce on Thursday its ruling on a case filed by Gambia against Myanmar on the persecution of the Rohingya. Gambia last November filed a genocide lawsuit against Myanmar at the UN’s highest court, a

move described as a “historic achievement” by the Rohingya community. The statement said that the findings of the government-backed commission “play into the hands of the perpetrators who are fully aware that prosecuting them for war crimes and crimes against humanity will not fall within the jurisdiction of the court”. It added that the commission’s admission of Myanmar’s wrongdoing -- that war crimes, serious human rights violations, and breaking of domestic law took place during the security operations between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5 2017 “merely reiterates Myanmar’s legal argument”.


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I February 2020

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Trump’s ‘Peace Plan’ aimed at legitimizing Israel’s Occupation: Erdogan In Case You Missed It

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasted a so-called Middle East plan unveiled by US counterpart Donald Trump as “absolutely unacceptable” in comments published. “Jerusalem al-Quds is sacred for Muslims. The plan to give Jerusalem to Israel is absolutely unacceptable. This plan ignores Palestinians’ rights and is aimed at legitimizing Israel’s occupation,” Erdogan said, quoted by CNN Turk broadcaster. Erdogan also said that Russia was not abiding by the Sochi or Astana agreements regarding Syria’s

northwestern Idlib province, the Daly Star reported. After months of running a vast propaganda machine to drum up support for his self-proclaimed ‘Deal of the Century’, Trump has finally unveiled what he believes can serve as a final antidote to the bitter and brutal Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has dragged on for seven decades. Within just hours since its launch, Trump’s proposed deal has aroused a storm of indignation and opposition among Middle East people and politicians as well as international organizations, earning

descriptions such as ‘the treason of the century, nightmare, conspiracy, catastrophe, new Balfour Declaration, an annexation plan, a stillborn agreement, a handbook for more suffering, and a deal for the garbage can of history’ among others. Contrary to Trump’s claim who sought to sell his proposal as a win-win opportunity for both sides, political leaders and activists view it as being hugely skewed in favor of Israel and totally ignoring the rights and demands of up to 15 million Palestinians around the world, leaving them out of a process that is expected to decide their fate and their future. Opponents argue that the highly pro-Israel scheme offers no prescription for peace because it blatantly violates international law and strips Palestinians of their basic rights on a number of sensitive issues, including the state of Jerusalem al-Quds, the future borders of a sovereign Palestinian state, the return of Palestinian refugees driven from their homeland, security responsibility, as well as Israeli settlements built on occupied land. www.pi-media.co.uk

‘Free Palestine’ hashtag becomes top world trend on Twitter In Case You Missed It

“Free Palestine” hashtag became the top world trend on Twitter, soon after the U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his oft-delayed controversial plan to end the IsraelPalestine conflict. In a short period of time, there were around 60,000 Tweets shared having the hashtag “Free Palestine”. Among the details of Trump’s plan, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s “undivided capital, said Trump, making light of tensions caused

by his decision to recognize the contested city as Israel’s territory in December 2017. The plan does not appear to meet even the most basic Palestinian demands for comprehensive peace with Israel, including the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes as a result of conflict. Thousands of Palestinian protesters reportedly took to the

streets ahead of Trump’s formal announcement in opposition to the proposal. Palestinian officials have cut off communications with their U.S. counterparts since Trump decided to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, undercutting a key pillar of peace talks which held the status of the contested city was to be determined through negotiations. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Record 7,423 US bombs dropped in Afghanistan in 2019: Report

US forces in Afghanistan dropped a record number of bombs last year, more than at any other time in at least 10 years, according to the US Air Force. The US has dropped 7,423 bombs on targets in Afghanistan in 2019, marking a rise from the 7,362 munitions dropped in 2018, US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a report released. The figure represents a dramatic increase in bombings in Afghanistan in contrast to 2009 when 4,147 bombs were dropped under former President Barack Obama. The US has now ramped up air bombings since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 as

Washington removed a requirement that said the targets should be “proximate” to US or Afghan forces in order to prevent civilian casualties. The United Nations and rights groups have repeatedly expressed concerns over the increase in air raids across the country by US and Afghan forces that have resulted in a dramatic rise in civilian casualties. Last week, at least seven civilians, including three children were killed in government air raids in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province that triggered protests from residents. Last month, more than 60 civilians were killed or wounded in a US drone attack targeting a top

Taliban splinter-group commander in the western Afghanistan province of Herat. Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement that it launched “a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces”, with a spokesman confirming US participation in the operation. In October, UN said it had credible reports of US air attacks on alleged Taliban drug laboratories resulting in the death of at least 30 civilians, including children. The USled mission in Afghanistan quickly disputed the claim. The raids targeted 60 sites in Farah Province and neighboring Nimruz Province. In the first half of 2019, 717 civilians were killed by government forces, including US, representing a dramatic increase of 31 percent from a year earlier, the UN reported last year. The spike in hostilities comes as the US and the Taliban continue to push for a possible agreement that would see US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan in return for security guarantees. Multiple sources close to the talks said the Taliban had agreed to scale down attacks against US forces and Afghan government forces. The US demands a ceasefire from the group before any agreement could be finalised.

Jordan slams Israeli aggression at Al-Aqsa Mosque In Case You Missed It

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates strongly condemned the Israeli aggression on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. In a press brief, the ministry’s spokesman described the aggression on the worshippers as a “condemned and provocative practice”, Quds Press reported.

The spokesman also stressed that such Israeli practices violate the Tel Aviv regime’s obligations under international law, stating that Israel is the occupying power in Jerusalem al-Quds. He emphasized that Israel must respect the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the historical and legal

status quo and the freedom of worshippers and their safety. Israeli forces injured a number of Palestinians in an attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem al-Quds aimed at preventing worshipers from performing Friday prayers. www.pi-media.co.uk


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I February 2020

‘Most alarming reports’ coming from Idlib: UN official 16

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A senior UN official voiced his concern over “the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Syria’s northwestern Idlib. Mark Lowcock, under-secretarygeneral for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in his briefing to the UN Security Council that “the most alarming reports” are coming from southern Idlib, “where hundreds of airstrikes by the government of Syria and its allies have been concentrated.” “The hostilities have escalated in recent days in the Idlib area, especially around Ma’arat al-Numan, Saraqeb and western Aleppo,”

Lowcock said, adding: “The fighting in these areas appears to be more intense than anything we have seen in the last year.” Citing the data of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he said that at least 81 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed as a result of airstrikes and ground-based strikes in the week of Jan. 15-23. “This total is in addition to the more than 1,500 civilian deaths that OHCHR has verified since the escalation began in late April,” he said. Lowcock also briefed the Security

Islamophobic attacks rise sharply in France Islamophobic attacks in France rose by 54% in 2019, the president of the National Observatory of Islamophobia said. In a written statement, Abdallah Zekri said there were 100 attacks against Muslims in France in 2018 and this rose to 154 in 2019. The attacks mostly occurred in the Ile-de-France, Rhones-Alpes and

Council about the people fleeing the attacks. Approximately 541,000 civilians have been displaced from the settlements of Idlib’s southern, southeastern, and Aleppo’s western and southern rural areas since Nov. 2019. Due to the rising displaced population, the tent camps in Idlib fail to meet the needs of war-weary Syrians as there is not enough space to set up more tents. Thousands of families are currently in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Some displaced people arrived in tent camps along Turkey’s borderline and some fled to areas of Peace Spring and Olive Branch operations which the Turkish army cleared of terrorists. Turkey announced on Jan. 10 that a new cease-fire in Idlib would start just after midnight on Jan. 12. However, the regime and Iranbacked terrorist groups continued their ground attacks. More than 1 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year. Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

Paca regions of the country, Zekri said, Anadolu Agency reported. He said there are no links between Islam and terrorism and Muslims in France should be able to practice their religion freely like members of other religions. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe at around five million, mostly from North Africa.

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Indian MP: Mosques on Govt land to be razed if BJP wins in Delhi

India’s hardline Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said government land in Delhi encroached by religious structures will be freed if the BJP comes to power in the city. The West Delhi MP had earlier this week said mosques constructed

on encroached government land in Delhi are certain to be demolished. The Delhi Assembly elections will be held on February 8 and results for the 70 Assembly seats declared on February 11. “The government land on which religious places are constructed will be vacated after BJP forms

government in Delhi. Complaints have come regarding more than 54 mosques and madrassas on government land in Delhi. The list has already been given to the Lt governor,” Verma tweeted in Hindi. He had said if anyone complains to him about encroachment of government land in Delhi by any temple or gurudwara, he will take up the matter with authorities. “But no temple or gurudwara are found on government land, only mosques are found on government land,” he had said at a press conference. In June last year, Verma had written to Lt Governor Anil Baijal seeking action against mosques and graveyards allegedly constructed on government land. He had also furnished a list of 50 such encroachments to the LG for action. Taking note of Verma’s claim, the Delhi Minorities Commission formed a fact-finding committee that termed his claim as “false” after probing records of 68 mosques, graveyards, madrassas and Imambargahs in the city.

Iraqi MP vows to continue legal process for expelling US forces An Iraqi parliamentarian vowed that the legal process for expelling US forces from the Arab country will continue. Mahdi Taqi Amerli, a member of the Fatah Alliance in Iraq’s parliament, said those who have hidden behind the Americans should know that “we will continue the legal process to expel the American occupiers from the Iraqi land.” He reminded those who claim that the US came to Iraq to fight terrorism and Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) that it was the US that bring Daesh into Iraq in 2014. Amerli underlined that it was

Iraqis who defeated Daesh not the US or the so-called international coalition. “The presence of US troops and aliens in Iraq is not needed and we have the capability to protect our country,” he went on to say. Last month, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country following the assassination of Iran’s top military commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The legislators used an extraordinary parliamentary session to vote on a resolution requiring the government to press Washington and its allies to withdraw their troops from Iraq. General Soleimani, al-Muhandis, and a number of their entourage were killed in a strike by American drones near Baghdad International Airport in the early hours of January 3. The White House and the Pentagon claimed responsibility for the assassination of General Soleimani in Iraq, saying the attack was carried out at the direction of US President Donald Trump.

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Saudi Arabia’s PIF in talks to purchase Newcastle United football club: Report

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is in talks to buy UK Premier League football team Newcastle United for around $445 million, the Wall Street Journal reported people familiar with the matter as saying. The PIF is the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ambitious Vision 2030 program which seeks to change the fund into a giant investment vehicle to support the Kingdom’s economic diversification away from oil. The PIF and a group of investors organized by British financier Amanda Stavely are in talks to buy Newcastle United, according to the Wall Street Journal’s sources. A final

deal might not be reached for days or weeks and could still breakdown, they added. The deal would mean a large cash injection into the football club, which could play a major role in improving the team’s performance. Newcastle fans have long bemoaned the lack of investment in a club which is known for its large and passionate support base. “I can tell you that, historically (since 1990) the thing that has prevented Newcastle from becoming a bigger club has been the gulf in wealth between themselves and the top teams of the day,” said Brian Liddle, a fan of Newcastle United. A Saudi takeover of Newcastle United could be compared with the

purchase of Manchester City team by Abu Dhabi-owned City Football Group in 2008. City were transformed from a football club with a large fan base but mediocre team to one of Europe’s best sides who have since won the Premier League four times. Staveley, who is leading the talks according to people familiar with the matter, was involved in the Manchester City deal. Staveley’s company will buy a 10 percent stake in Newcastle with her private wealth, British billionaires David and Simon Reuben will buy another 10 percent, and the PIF will buy the remainder, reported the Wall Street Journal. Newcastle United is currently owned by British businessman, and CEO of sporting goods company Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, who bought the team in 2007 for $175 million. Ashley has not been a popular owner with fans since his ownership began. Newcastle fans have protested against Ashley’s lack of investment in the club with some fan groups boycotting home games. “The Mike Ashley era has been frustrating to say the least … The new owners, whoever they may be, I hope are willing to think long term, invest in the academy, and keep hold of standout players. I would love it if we could even compete with the top six teams,” said Mark Watts, a Newcastle United fan.ncreasing the number of specialist “psychologists” and “imams” (religious scholars) to help “de-radicalise” terror offenders.

Saudi Arabia seals Tokyo Olympics football qualification South Korea and Saudi Arabia sealed qualification for the 2020 Olympic men’s football tournament when they reached the final of the Asian under-23 Championship in Thailand. The competition acts as the Asian Football Confederation’s Olympic qualifiers, with places in Japan going to the top three teams. The top two were confirmed as South Korea defeated Australia 2-0, while Saudi Arabia beat Uzbekistan 1-0. Kim Dae-won’s 56th-minute strike put the Koreans ahead

at Thammasat Stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok. Lee Dongkyeong added a second 14 minutes from time to earn a deserved victory over Australia. South Korea’s reward is a spot at their ninth consecutive Olympics – a run that includes a bronze medal at London 2012. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia took until the 87th minute to find the goal that saw off the challenge of defending champions Uzbekistan at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium. Substitute Nasser Al Omran’s shot from the edge of the box was

deflected into the Uzbek goal by Abdullah Al-Hamdan, sparking wild celebrations as the Saudis ended a 24-year wait since their last appearance at an Olympic Games. Olympic hosts Japan – who were eliminated at the group stage of this competition - qualify automatically for the 2020 Games. The Aussies are seeking a first Olympic appearance since 2008, while Uzbekistan would be making their debut in the competition. eligious scholars) to help “deradicalise” terror offenders. www.pi-media.co.uk


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SPORT I19

Mum makes hijabs for daughter so more Muslim girls take up sports

When Nazira Bemath’s daughter told her that some of her friends didn’t want to play sports because their normal hijabs were not suitable, she decided to do something about it. The PR manager felt the current headscarves available were not safe, as they can require safety pins to hold them in place, and as most girls wear the same hijab during lessons as they do in P.E classes, they became sweaty and unhygienic. So she came up with Hijab Active – a new line of headscarves for women to wear during sports. The mum-of-three tells Metro. co.uk: ‘My daughter Malaika is

a keen athlete and is the sports ambassador and identified that many of her Muslim peers who observe hijab were not participating enough or putting any effort into sports at school. ‘It’s crazy that there is not a sports hijab that is part of the P.E kit to date. If girls have to wear specific sportswear for P.E why is the hijab not part of this?’ ‘She came home to discuss it with me and said so many of her friends were really good at sport but not participating properly because they wear their normal school hijabs in P.E lessons.’ While it started as a personal

Sadio Mane has been named the 2019 African Player of the Year after winning the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League with his club Liverpool and leading Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final. Mane won the award for the first time last month, after finishing runner-up to his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah of Egypt in 2017 and 2018.

The third nominee, Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Manchester City, won the award in 2016. Mane is only the second Senegalese to win the award after El Hadji Diouf, who was the winner in 2001 and 2002. The Confederation of African Football ceremony was held in the city of Hurghada in Egypt. Both Salah and Mane were integral parts of Liverpool, helping

project for her own daughters, Nazira now wants other Muslim girls to have the option of a light-wear scarf that works for them. She added: ‘My girls are very sporty – that’s why it came to light in the first place. ‘More importantly, I am trying to encourage Muslim girls to get into sports as it is not encouraged. ‘I started Hijab Active because there is a need for a sports hijab to be added to PE kit within schools.’ She got help from a friend who is a fashion designer, Rozeena Baureek, to create a properly functioning piece of sportswear. What they came up with is supposed to be breathable, antiodour and light enough for people to wear during strenuous activity. It also comes in three different colours; black, navy and grey. At the moment, Nazira is trialling the line at her daughter’s school in Walthamstow, London but she hopes that soon it will be rolled out across other schools in the UK at an affordable price. Nike currently has a highperformance hijab option but it costs £24.95, which is a lot more what you would pay for most headscarves. Some Muslims also worry about the ethical production of these offers, says Nazira.

Sadio Mane has been named the 2019 African player of the year the Reds win the 2019 UEFA Champions League. Last season, Mane scored 34 goals and produced 12 assists in 61 matches. Salah scored 26 goals and produced 10 assists in 55 appearances. Meanwhile, Mahrez tallied 14 goals and 18 assists in 48 appearances last year.a pass because there was not enough locker room space for men.

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Islam & Muslim Culture What is Islam? Who is Muhammad? Why do Muslims pray five times a day? Why is Islam the fastest growing religion in the world? This course will look how Islam came to Arabian Pennisula and its relationship with Judaism and Christianity. We shall also examine key Islamic doctrines such as monotheism, prophethood and eschatology. The Sunni-Shia sectarian dynamic shall be explored in light of the current developments in the modern age. Furthermore, the course shall explore the significance of the Qur’an as the sacred text and what impact it has on Muslims today. The evolution of the Shariah shall be explored along with its connection to the Prophetic tradition. This introductory course on Islam will be of particular interest to professional practitioners who wish to gain a better understanding of this much talked about faith.

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Pain Killers Kill More Than Pain

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By Moulana Khalid Dhorat

Bodily pain, no matter how excruciating and uncomfortable, is actually our friend … not our enemy. Once you understand this, you will realize that most types of pain are actually beneficial for us. They signal that the body is either lacking in some nutrients, needs some relaxation, water or sleep, has been injured at a certain place and indicates the rate of recovery, or some muscle or organ needs healing. Bodily pain indicates life, whilst it’s absence denotes loss of life or limb. It’s very similar to the red light found on ones electric kettle at home. When the water is boiling, the

switch indicates danger, likewise, when the body is ailing, pain signals danger. Will anyone disconnect the red light on their kettle when the water boils? No, similarly we should not be rushing to pop pills when experiencing any type of pain without addressing its root cause. This is simple logic, but many have not paid heed to it – with disastrous consequences to their health. Many people simply pull out their “red light”, and abuse their bodies by continuously popping pills until they become hopelessly addicted to them. Those who eventually overcome their addiction, suddenly find that

they have an additional problem: they cannot sleep without them and their liver has been poisoned. There are some people who pop up to 100 pills a day! They spend more money on pain management than on their entire family’s monthly grocery bills. For such people, their jobs or their busy businesses schedules is more important than their health. What they fail to realize is that no amount of doctors, hospitals or money will be able to reverse the long-term damage upon their health when they eventually decide to address the issue. Their only solution would be even more pills, expensive


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I February 2020

rehabilitation, and maybe even surgery. Unlike banned substances, many people do not intentionally become addicted to legal pain killers. They are victims of unfortunate circumstances who do not take the trouble of finding out of the various safer options of pain management and elimination. Let’s take the case of Nadeem*: “I got a prescription for Iboprofen* when I hurt my back in an accident. I was supposed to take two pills twice a day, but I was worried that it wouldn’t be enough. So I took a few more, just to make sure it worked. Iboprofen did more than just dull the pain. I really enjoyed how it made me feel. I could relax and worry less about my family and business. I also got really tired, though. I had to drag myself around some days. When my prescription ran out, I became very sick. Even though it was winter, I sweated like it was summer. And my whole body was in pain, much worse than my back pain. I knew that there was another problem and I was scared. I started going to many different doctors to get more prescriptions. I’d lie and say that I was in terrible pain—worse than what I actually felt. I needed more and more pills to feel OK—more than one doctor would ever prescribe. Many doctors and pharmacists were greedy, so they willingly helped me out for cash. I’d fill the different prescriptions at different pharmacies. Sometimes I’d drive for hours to find a store where they didn’t know me. At home, my wife was upset because I was ignoring our business. Then one day I was at a pharmacy with my wife, and the pharmacist said she wouldn’t fill my prescription. The computer records showed I had already bought a ton of painkillers in a short time at several different stores, and she would get into trouble. I was embarrassed as my wife witnessed all this, but I was even more scared of getting sick like I did the last time I ran out of pills. The pharmacist knew what I was thinking. She gave my wife the name of a medicine I could take to get over my addiction. If I had been alone, I would have thrown her advice out of the

window and just tried to get another prescription filled somewhere else. My wife is a tough woman, and she loves me, so she assisted me on my road to recovery.” So how did Nadeem end up as a drug junky for just wanting to eliminate his pain? Many people suffering from arthritis, menstrual cramps, headaches, post-surgery pain management, and chronic back pain are just like Nadeem. An innocent pill has made them addicts and created dozens of other illnesses for them for which Western medicine has no solution. To answer this question, Ohio State University researchers did some digging and found that a popular ingredient found in most pain killers – acetaminophen – destroys positive emotions. It alters their emotional and evaluative processing, turning compassionate people into cold emotionless zombies. Prescription drugs containing aspirin have been known to increase one’s risk of heart failure, upper gastrointestinal complications, and easy bruising – leading to slow healing, poor blood circulation and maybe even gangrene. In South Africa, nearly 45 percent of people seeking treatment for prescription medicine dependence reported the use of opioid-containing painkillers. “Much is said about the illegal opiate heroin, but dependency on over-the-counter medicines (including cough medicines) containing opiates like codeine is actually overtaking heroin,” says Dr Hash Ramjee, a specialist in substance abuse who works for the Houghton House group of treatment centres. Codeine causes depressed breathing, which can be lethal in cases of overdose or combinations with other drugs. Combinations of codeine with other pills can also do serious damage to kidneys, liver and/or stomach. “Opioids slow down intestinal and bowel movements, creating a blockage,” explains Ramjee. As per the enclosed leaflet contained in most painkillers, they should not be taken for more than 10 days. Howevver, one of the first signs

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of addiction is becoming preoccupied with two things: when can you take your next dose and whether your supply is enough. You then start increasing the amounts your doctor prescribed. When your doctor refuses to prescribe more, you my even forge prescriptions and even seriously hurt yourself so you can be admitted to hospital just to get a new prescription! Very little difference then remains between you and an abuser of hard drugs. But there is hope for victims. Remember that every time you pop a pill, it clogs up your liver for 60 days, and this makes the road to recovery more difficult. You need to realize that you have to STOP this habit, and gradually decrease the amount of pills over a period of time. There are many safer and more permanent measures of pain elimination, which will enable you to improve the quality of your life and your worship (ibaadat). One of the best pain relievers is to do regular Cupping (Hijaamah) with a qualified therapist. Cupping is not only a Sunnah, but it rids the body of toxic blood in which pain and inflammation reside. Herbal mixtures, drinks and ointments made from natural capsaicin, ginger or turmeric help stop inflammation with no side effects at all. These herbs work by depleting substance P – a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system. Holy Basil and Kava Kava are also excellent pain relievers. Then essential fish oils such as Cod Liver Oil and Omega 3 Fatty Acids breaks down into hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins in the body, which also reduce inflammation. These alternatives may take a little longer to produce results, but the results would be permanent. Have patience and go through with it. If not, your pain will be nothing but a source of continuing agony for you, and a source of easy income for the pharmaceutical companies. Remember, pain killers kill more than pain. They kill your spirit too. wwww.pi-media.co.uk

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PI Magazine February 2020  

Latest news from Passion Islam magazine (PI) on Muslim news February 2020 edition includes Trump Al Aqsa plan rejected by Palestinians - #s...

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Latest news from Passion Islam magazine (PI) on Muslim news February 2020 edition includes Trump Al Aqsa plan rejected by Palestinians - #s...

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