Amnesty warns of hate Communities celebrate Drone crime rise in London Warfare! Asian in Rugby
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East Africa are in the grip of an unprecedent and devastating food crisis. Famine has been declared in South Sudan, and is already likely happening in parts of in northern Nigeria, while Yemen and Somalia are on the brink. Across these regions, more than 20 y rtified b
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million people are facing starvation and 50 million are severely hungry, surviving only on what they can find to eat and coping with the physical pain of hunger on a daily basis. Malnutrition is having a disastrous impact and as ever, children are among the worst affected. follow us on fb
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Two consecutive dry seasons have resulted in lakes and wells drying-up, and once fertile lands becoming barren, drought has caused crops to fail and cattle to die in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya â€“ causing severe food and water shortages. Continued on page 3 follow us on You Tube
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By Islamic Human Rights Commission
European Court hijab ruling cements Muslims’ second-class status
The decision by the European Court of Justice that companies can ban employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf and other religious symbols sets an alarming precedent that cements the inferior legal status under which Muslims are expected to live in Europe. “An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination,” the court said in a statement. The decision came in a case brought by two employees in Belgium and France after being dismissed for refusing to remove their headscarves. The Belgian woman had been working as a receptionist for G4S Secure Solutions, which has a general ban on wearing visible religious or political symbols, while the French claimant is an IT consultant who was told to remove her headscarf after a client
complained. IHRC believes the ruling will likely set off a chain reaction with more bans instituted across the continent where politicians are riding a populist surge whipped up by an environment of hate targeting Muslims and other minorities. There is no saying where it will end. The ruling effectively means that employers can effectively impose bans on religiously mandated dress or looks, for example, Muslim men wearing beards and women wearing modest attire . The ruling adds to a growing list of prohibitions targeting the Muslim female practice of wearing the veil in public already in place in France, Belgium, Bulgaria and parts of Switzerland. In 2004, France passed a law banning the wearing of head scarves in French schools. It was couched as a general rule against ostensible signs of religion but was largely aimed at the Muslim
population. It will also have an adverse impact on the job prospects of a community already reeling from the double whammy of racial and religious discrimination by effectively preventing many practising Muslims from gaining employment. Last August a House of Commons committee report found that Muslims in the UK were more than twice as likely to be unemployed than the general population. In France the unemployment rate for all immigrants is 17.3% compared to 9.7% for the population at large. The figure rises to over 40% for young people living in Paris’ suburbs and other major metropolitan areas. This gives legal cover to what is essentially an ongoing hate campaign to make Muslims secondclass citizens in Europe. It will only increase feelings of marginalisation and disenfranchisement in Muslim communities.
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East Africa needs you
I April 2017
Continued from front page Brutal conflicts in South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria have driven millions of people from their homes and left millions more in need of emergency food. In Somalia, women and girls are walking as much as 50 kilometres in search for water. If the situation remains, many of them could be facing their second famine in less than a decade. This is the largest hunger emergency in the world. If these crises are left unresolved, malnutrition and deaths will increase exponentially in a catastrophic deterioration. In a press statement United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said “Some 22 million children are hungry, sick, displaced and out of school in the four countries, nearly 1.4 million are at imminent risk of death this year from severe malnutrition. “Millions of children are on the brink of starvation in the worst humanitarian crisis in decades, the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) urgently are calling for nearly $255 million to respond to immediate needs in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. “Time is running out,” UNICEF said. “We learned from Somalia in 2011 that by the time famine was announced, untold numbers of children had already died. That can’t happen again,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. Famine was declared a month ago in South Sudan, and will likely be declared soon in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen where fighting has pushed people off their farmland and droughts have destroyed their animals and what is left of crops. “Children can’t wait for yet another famine declaration before we take action,” Mr. Fontaine said. The UN agency is calling for close to $255 million to provide 22 million children with food, water, health, education and protection services for just the next few months, according
to a new funding update. The majority of that funding will go towards nutrition programmes to screen children and provide them with therapeutic food, as well as health services and water and sanitation. This request is part of a broader appeal for all of 2017 totalling $712 million, up 50 per cent from what was requested for these four countries at the same time last year. One of the Muslim charities working in East Africa is Ummah Welfare Trust they have been working through 2016 delivering food to drought-hit families in Ethiopia, North Somalia, Malawi and Sudan. In response to the now worsening situation, the charity has relaunched its appeal to assist even more of our hungry brothers and sisters. For £100, donors can provide a family with large food provisions and a supply of water (by trucking water to a local water point). Zakah, Sadaqah and Lillah can be given, so be generous and support as many as families as you can.
Court rules rendition case can be heard in secret
The High Court has ruled that a Blair-era renditions case should be heard in secret, following a request from the government under the controversial Justice and Security Act. In reaching his judgment, Mr Justice Leggatt warned that secret hearings are a “serious derogation from the fundamental principles of open justice and natural justice.” The case involves two Pakistani men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, who were detained by the UK in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US forces. The pair were then rendered to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where they were tortured and held
without charge or trial for a decade. The government’s application for secrecy was met with criticism by senior Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, who warned that “If this case is heard secretly, many people could well feel that the truth has never been exposed.” In documents presented to the court at a hearing, the government argued that that it would not be possible to discuss in open court “whether they [the two men] were illtreated (and if so, by whom) during that operation.” The judge’s decision means that the victims will not be able to hear key parts of the case, which will be shrouded in ‘closed material
procedures’ or CMPs. This marks the first use of CMPs in a civil case brought by rendition victims. The judgement follows a hearing behind closed doors at the Royal Courts of Justice, where lawyers and journalists were barred. The government is claiming that the men were members of the extremist group Lashkar-eTaiba (LeT). However, human rights organization Reprieve has demonstrated that Mr Ali, a rice trader, was detained on the basis of flawed intelligence that misidentified him as a LeT commander. Ministers have repeatedly told Parliament that Mr Ali was a LeT member, despite this flawed intelligence.
I UK NEWS
I April 2017
Two British universities halt pro-Palestinian events In Case You Missed It
Two British universities have been accused of undermining freedom of speech after cancelling an annual pro-Palestinian event aimed at raising awareness about human rights violations in the occupied territories. The accusation was leveled after the University of Exeter and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) announced the cancellation of a pro-Palestinian student-run event called Israel Apartheid Week. Students at Exeter were
barred from giving a street theater performance called Mock Checkpoint, in which some participants were to dress up as Israeli soldiers while others performed the roles of Palestinian victims. The event had been approved by the student union at the university but was banned for “safety and security reasons” less than 48 hours before commencement. An appeal against the decision was also refused. Members of Friends of Palestine
Society at Exeter accused the university of censoring students, saying, “They are not allowing freedom of speech – by cancelling an event that was in support of Palestinian activism and for Palestinian rights; they are directly censoring us.” The move prompted almost 250 academics, including 100 professors, to sign a letter denouncing attempts by university officials to silence campus discussion about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. These are outrageous interferences with free expression, and are direct attacks on academic freedom,” the letter noted. “As academics with positions at UK universities, we wish to express our dismay at this attempt to silence campus discussion about Israel, including its violation of the rights of Palestinians for over 50 years. “It is with disbelief that we witness explicit political interference in university affairs in the interests of Israel under the thin disguise of concern about antisemitism,” it added.
Founder of Islam Channel wins £140,000 libel damages
The businessman who founded the Islam Channel has won £140,000 libel damages over an article that said he was a terrorist. Mohamed Ali Harrath brought a High Court case in London over an article posted on a website operated by Stand For Peace Ltd, which is said to provide a platform for rational discussion of “the topics that drive the Muslim and Jewish community apart”. Mr Harrath was politically active in Tunisia before his arrival in the UK in 1995 where he was recognised as a refugee and granted indefinite leave to remain. He sued the company and a director Samuel Westrop over an October 2014 article, headed “Subway withdraws sponsorship of extremist charity fundraiser”, which remained until March last year.
It explained that a fundraising event was to be held in Manchester under the title Reviving Gaza, which had initially been sponsored by the fast food chain, but it had withdrawn its support once it became aware of “extremist links”. The article went on to identify some of those supposedly extremist links, referring specifically to the Islam Channel, a TV channel specialising in issues relating to Islam, and claiming that “its CEO, Mohammed Ali Harrath, is a convicted terrorist”. After a judge ordered last year that judgment be entered for Mr Harrath, Sir David Eady assessed the amount of compensation. He said there could be no doubt that the words meant that Mr Harrath was guilty of terrorism. He said: “I can safely proceed, in
the light of the evidence before me, on the basis that the claimant is not a terrorist. “There is thus no doubt as to his entitlement to compensation for the injury to his reputation, for embarrassment and hurt feelings and for the purpose of vindicating his reputation.” He added that an allegation of terrorism was likely to attract in most cases an award towards the upper end of the scale, since few if any allegations could be more serious. “Here, as almost always, they carry the imputation that the person so accused is prepared to take part in or to encourage indiscriminate murder.” He said that the appropriate award was £140,000. www.pi-media.co.uk
I April 2017
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www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2017
Amnesty warns of hate crime rise in London
I April 2017
Several rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have warned of a considerable rise in hate crimes in the British capital London over the past year following Brexit. In a report published in The Independent the organizations expressed alarm at “deeply worrying” figures recently presented by the Metropolitan Police regarding a sizable increase in hate-related crimes in London over the last year, particularly since Britons voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. According to the statistics, the number of incidents relating to religion and race has increased by almost 20 percent from 14,004 to 16,618 ever since, with the rights
groups saying the rise is definitely linked to Britain’s exit from the 28-member bloc and the “toxic language” that was used during the exit campaign. Reacting to the figures, prominent rights group Amnesty International said that the recent discriminatory language in Britain has been unprecedented in decades. “If accurate, these figures are deeply worrying, and they bear out our initial concerns that divisive political campaigning last summer gave license to the expression of discriminatory views in a way we haven’t seen for decades,” said Kerry Moscogiuri, the director of campaigns at Amnesty International UK. “We had witnessed negative and
sometimes toxic language being used in debates on refugees and migrant rights. The London Mayor election and the EU referendum brought some of this to the surface, but there has been an insidious narrative developing for much longer,” he added. “There needs to be a much stronger message from all quarters of the political establishment that racially charged and demonizing language is totally unacceptable in modern Britain,” Moscogiuri stressed. Another rights group, Stop Hate UK, attributing the rise in hate crimes to Brexit, said some forms of hate crimes were under-reported and called on those in positions of power to stand up against the crimes. “The time and the nature of these increases means that they are undeniably linked to EU referendum. It was the language of the Leave campaign, rather than the result, which gave license to those with prejudiced views to commit hate crimes,” said Mike Ainsworth, a director at Stop Hate UK. “We need very clear moral leadership from those in positions of power to stand up and say that crime is unacceptable. The Mayor of London has been exemplary in this regard so far,” he added.
AHDB Beef & Lamb has appointed a new halal sector manager to help the organisation focus on the needs of the halal industry. Awal, spoke at the recent AHDB Beef & Lamb halal seminar on alternative slaughter methods and the relationship with halal requirements. He is currently studying a PhD at the University of Bristol, funded by the Humane Slaughter Association, looking at the development of a new system of
electrical stunning of cattle. He holds a BSc in Agriculture from Cape Coast University, in Ghana, and an MSc in Meat Science and Technology, from Bristol University. Prior to his research at Bristol University, Awal was the Certification Manager of Halal Food Authority. Dr Phil Hadley, AHDB head of global supply chain development, said: “Awal joins with a great wealth of experience in the sector and will be key to increasing our activity in
the halal marketplace “This is a growing area that offers tremendous potential for our levy payers, particularly given the challenges to our products in traditional markets.” The creation of the halal sector manager role is part of a coordinated programme of activity organised by AHDB Beef & Lamb to improve understanding of the halal marketplace in the UK and targeted export markets.
AHDB appoints first Halal manager
I April 2017
I April 2017
UK urges access to users’ online encrypted messages
UK spy agencies should be able to access encrypted content in online messaging applications to prevent terrorist attacks, says British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, warning that terrorists are hiding behind some of the most popular apps. According to reports, Khalid Masood, the man behind the recent terror attack in London, had communicated with unknown parties through WhatsApp messenger two minutes before his assault that killed 4 people and wounded 50 others.
In an interview with BBC on Sunday, Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that terrorists have found a “place to hide” using these applications. “It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide,” she said. “We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” the secretary added.
Rudd said tech companies in charge of applications like the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which use end-to-end encryption, have a “responsibility” to hand over user messages upon government’s request. “We have to have a situation where we can have our security services get into the terrorists’ communications. That’s absolutely the case,” she argued. “These people have families, have children as well – they should be on our side,” Rudd further said of app developers, calling on Facebook, Google and Telegram owners to step up cooperation. In reaction to the remarks by Rudd and Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn raised concern over giving too much access to spying agencies. “I’ve been concerned about giving too much unaccountable power to anybody in our society, so could the security services go to court and make an application? I would have thought they probably could,” said the opposition leader, urging a balance between the “right to know” and “the right to privacy.”
UK sending Syrians back to abusive countries: Report
The UK government has been using the European Union’s faulty laws to send Syrian refugees back to Eastern European countries where they were abused, a new report shows. According to migrant right groups and legal advocates, refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to “police brutality, detention and beatings” after being sent there by the UK Foreign Office under the socalled Dublin law. The law requires the refugees and asylum seekers to apply in their
first EU country of entry. Nazek Ramadan, the director of the charity Migrant Voice, said testimonies collected by his organization show how some refugees are fighting their removal from the UK. Ramadan said there were “hundreds” of Syrian refugees in the UK, who refused to go to the Home Office “because they are afraid of being detained and deported away from their family in the UK.” Those who have been forcibly removed often end up destitute,”
he said. “These are people who were abused in their home country, sometimes jailed by the regime there. Then they were imprisoned again in Europe. They feel that they are still living in a war zone, moving from one arrest and detention to another.” Some of the victims of the cruel treatment have shared their plight with The Guardian, telling the paper about how they were held in “cages” in Hungary, waterboarded and handcuffed to beds by detention center guards in Romania and beaten in Bulgaria.
I April 2017
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UK anti-terror support for Kenya
I April 2017
British Secretary of State Boris Johnson has assured Kenya of the U.K.’s support in the fight against terrorism and also offered humanitarian aid to mitigate the impact of drought in the African country. Speaking at a joint press conference in the capital Nairobi, Johnson said: “We have talked about the drought in the region and I am able to announce that the U.K.
government is going to be putting another 4 million pounds ($4.95 million) into supporting Kenya to fight the drought, particularly to tackle malnutrition in children.” He also said a program will soon be rolled out to train Kenyan soldiers in combating terrorists at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) -- a British military training facility in Nanyuki in central Kenya. “We will provide training and
work together at the institution called BATUK and it’s absolutely fantastic; I was out in the bush with a joint exercise and they have been doing it [training] for more than three weeks together, that military partnership I can tell you here and now, we will certainly want to continue.” The U.K. also said it will support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in its fight against alShabaab terrorist group to bring peace to Somalia. Kenyan Foreign Minister Ambassador Amina Mohammed said the U.K. is the largest foreign investor in Kenya, which has promised more partnerships in untapped sectors such as security, education, trade and investment. She said that Kenya respects U.K.’s Brexit decision and has been assured it will not impact trade relations between the two countries. Currently, there are over 210 British companies based in Kenya valued at over £2.5 billion ($3.1 billion).
fears that bombs could be hidden in laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games. The list of countries includes Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. The list of airlines affected by the ban includes Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways. The airports affected are: Mohammed V International,
Casablanca, Morocco Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey Cairo International Airport, Egypt Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Kuwait International Airport Hamad International, Doha, Qatar Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates Dubai International, United Arab Emirates
UK slap electronics ban on flights from Muslim states
The United Kingdom has followed the United States in banning electronic devices on passenger flights from several Muslim-majority countries, reports say. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a ban on large electronic devices from cabin baggage on flights from nine airlines in eight countries across 10 airports in the Middle East. The measure came after the department claimed that terrorists are seeking “innovative methods” to bring down passenger planes amid
I UK / WORLD NEWS
I April 2017
Afghan families call for war crimes inquiry into NZ SAS
Lawyers for Afghan families affected by raids allegedly carried out by elite Kiwi soldiers in 2010 believe there may be a case against New Zealand for violations of international human rights law and war crimes. The families of 21 Afghan civilians killed and injured in the raids are touched their loved ones are being acknowledged, human rights lawyer Deborah Manning says. Ms Manning, Rodney Harrison QC and Richard McLeod have been instructed by the families to ask the government to investigate allegations in a book released on Tuesday that
the New Zealand SAS led raids that killed six and injured 15. Hit and Run, by war correspondent Jon Stephenson and investigative reporter Nicky Hager claim the raids were revenge for the death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell, killed by a roadside bomb less than three weeks earlier. Ms Manning said the families, including that of a three-year-old girl, asked Mr Stephenson to find a lawyer in New Zealand who could make a case for them and she accepted. “I spoke very recently to the villagers and spoke to them about
what has been occurring in New Zealand, the huge public discussion and concern that we’ve all seen and the villagers first of all would like to convey their thanks to the public,” she said. “They are very touched, in particular that little Fatima is being acknowledged, because she was a very beloved child in that village.” Mr McLeod said the lawyers had written to Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and Prime Minister Bill English “informing them that in our view the material that has been released to date established credible allegations that during the course of their attack on these villages in 2010 the New Zealand Defence Forces breached fundamental principles of both New Zealand law and international law, including war crimes and violations of the right to life”. They’re the latest group to call for an independent inquiry, following calls from the authors, Labour, the Green Party and NZ First. The government has so far resisted the calls but has not yet ruled out an inquiry.
code. These measures are expected to further lower bad loans and avoid potential banking crises. Laws for strengthening supervision on investments fund guarantying citizens savings were also part of the conditions as the World Bank stated a strong financial system is key to lower risks for the economy and support its growth. The Financial Sector Development Policy Loan (DPL) to Albania is a fixed spread IBRD loan with an eight-year grace period and repayment of 31 years, the World Bank said. The new loan builds on the work and results of previous
World Bank policy-based lending operations that have supported a wide range of reforms to restore the country’s macro-financial stability, rekindle economic growth, improve management of public finances, and reform pension and energy sectors. The loan operation envisages three key points: adopting policy measures to reduce NPLs and enhance the financial safety net; strengthening regulation, supervision, and resolution regime of banks and savings and credit associations (SCAs); and strengthening the regulation and supervision of investment funds.
World Bank approves $100mn loan for Albania The World Bank has given Albania a $100mn loan to support state budget, as a reward for fulfilling 10 conditions required to empower the country’s financial system. “These measures will provide the right environment for banking and non-banking institutions to expand crediting on the private sector thus giving a stimulus for an economic growth”, World Bank said in its press release. Approval for a new bankruptcy law was part of the 10 point list, as well as state extraordinary intervention on the banking sector and changes on civic procedure
I April 2017
Muslim organisation urges Armenia to leave Azeri land
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Yousef alOthaimeen called for the “immediate” and “unconditional” withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azeri territories. Al-Othaimeen made the assertion at a ceremony in the
occupation of Azeri territory,” he said. Al-Othaimeen called on OIC member-states to urge Armenia to end its occupation of Azeri land and “abide by international law and respect Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity”. The massacre, which took place on Feb. 25 and 26 of 1992, is regarded as one of the bloodiest episodes in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan (1988-1994) for control of the latter’s Upper Karabakh region, which remains occupied by Armenia. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojali in Upper Karabakh after battering it with artillery and tank fire. The two-hour offensive left 613 Saudi city of Jeddah to mark the Azeris dead, including 116 women 25th anniversary of the 1992 Khojali and 63 children, and left almost 500 massacre, in which hundreds of Azeri others critically injured, according civilians -- including children -- were to official Azeri figures. Roughly 150 killed by Armenian forces. of the 1,275 Azeris captured at the “The Khojali massacre was time by Armenian forces still remain the result of Armenia’s illegitimate missing.
Swiss parliamentarians reject bill to ban burqas The upper house of Switzerland’s parliament has rejected a controversial bill that would have banned Muslim women from wearing an Islamic face veil called burqa. The Council of State voted against the measure, which had been approved by the lower house of the parliament back in September last year. The initiative had been led by the far-right Swiss People’s Party and would have changed the constitution to ban face-covering clothing in public. The lawmaker behind the botched bill, Walter Wobmann, is collecting signatures to launch a referendum on the ban. He has claimed that
his campaign, called “Yes to a ban on face-covering,” has so far collected over two-thirds of the 100,000 signatures needed to force a referendum. Andrea Caroni, another lawmaker who has opposed the ban, praised the “very clear decision” by the upper house of the parliament but said a “real battle” loomed when a potential referendum was to be held. He said banning the burqa was “not relevant at all” in Switzerland, where about five percent of its population — about 8.2 million people — are Muslim. The supporters of the ban cite “security” concerns about the full-face covering. Opponents, however, say
that national legislators should try to stay out of “the clothing closet.” The Italian-speaking Ticino region in southern Switzerland has already imposed a ban on burqas. Several European countries have also adopted restrictions on the Islamic clothing since 2000. France became the first European Union country to ban the public wearing of burqa in April 2011. A law took effect in Belgium in July that year that banned any clothing that obscured the identity of the wearer in public. In the Netherlands, a proposed law banning burqas is awaiting approval by the senate. It was approved by the lower house of the Dutch parliament in November 2016.
Turkey to open its largest military base in Somalia 14
I WORLD NEWS
I April 2017
Turkey will open its largest military base in the world in Somalia in April. Soldiers from the Somalia National Army and soldiers from many African countries will be trained by the Turkish Army in the base that is being constructed in Mogadishu. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar are expected to attend
the official opening. Somalia’s Defense Minister, General Abdulkadir Ali Dini, visited the military base yesterday with a military delegation. Minister Dini, who visited the base near its completion, thanked the Turkish military and civilian authorities for preparing the base. Somali President Mohammad
Abdullah Muhammad ‘Farmajo’ tweeted from his official account and announced that the base would be opened very soon. “Turkey’s largest military base in the world is almost complete. Soon the Somali Army will return strongly,” President Farmajo said. The construction of the $50 million base began in March 2015. It will have the capacity to train 500 soldiers at the same time. The facility is located close to Mogadishu’s airport and three kilometers (1.8 miles) from Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital and the Port of Mogadishu. The base will occupy 400 hectares and house three military schools, dormitories and depots. Somalia and Turkey share multitiered cooperation. Turkey provides Somalia with military aid, education support, infrastructural development and skills training.
If Muslims in Okayama, Japan look for the Peach Mark logo, they can find facilities that cater for their special needs. The logo enables Muslim tourists to identify eateries that provide food that doesn’t contain pork and menus in English, as well as accommodation that has prayer mats stashed and ready for use. The Okayama health tourism association, which was jointly set up by the municipalities of Okayama, Maniwa and Kibichuo, as well as a regional tourist association, has started to grant the certification to accommodation facilities, restaurants, cafes and other places that Muslims can easily identify by grabbing a glimpse of the logo featuring pink and yellow peaches. The certified facilities include ones that have obtained halal certification that guarantees the food has been
prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. Obtaining halal certification is so difficult that only five facilities within the aforementioned three municipalities, including two eateries and a “kibidango” millet-cakes manufacturer, have been officially authorized. The difficulty in finding facilities that make efforts to cater to Muslim travelers, even if they don’t have halal certification, is the reason the association came up with the idea of the Peach Mark signs that Muslims can easily spot. The Peach Mark logos come in two types. Peach Mark I bearing a pink peach is for facilities providing food that contains nothing from a pig, while also boasting English menus for Muslims able to read that language. Peach Mark II, featuring a pink peach and one that is yellow, has all
the criteria from Peach Mark I but adds a written explanation about the raw ingredients in the products. Eateries that use meat certified as halal, or offer vegetarian meals, are more likely to be certified with Peach Mark II. Similar criteria is to be authorized by the association for cosmetics and processed foods. With accommodation facilities, the availability of prayer mats and compasses was taken into consideration, as well as toilets where Muslims have enough space for “wudu,” the Islamic purification ritual of washing face, hands, feet and other parts of the body prior to praying. Up to now, a total of 13 facilities, including seven eateries, three accommodation facilities and three manufacturers within the municipalities have been awarded the Peach Mark certification.
Peach logo points way for Muslim tourists in Japan
I April 2017
Senior U.N. official quits after anti-Israel report pulled
UN Under-Secretary-General Rima Khalaf resigned from her post after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres forced her to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid” regime.
A report commissioned by the UN’s Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) asserted that Israel had “established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to raise the number of visas for Afghans who have helped U.S. forces in the wartorn country. The additional 2,500 travel documents would supplement the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program the State Department warned is running low as the U.S. embassy in Kabul has reportedly halted interviews for the program. “The SIV program allows Afghans, including interpreters, who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service, to apply for refuge in the United States,” John McCain, Jeanne Shaheen, Jack Reed and Thom Tillis said in a statement that announced their
legislation. The four lawmakers sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee with McCain serving as chairman and Reed the ranking member. They warned last year that the defense authorization bill signed into law included an insufficient number of visas for Afghans assisting U.S. forces. “We simply cannot win this war without the assistance of the Afghan people who put their lives on the line to help American troops and diplomats serving in harm’s way,” McCain said. “Unfortunately in recent years, Congress has reneged on the promise we made to protect these brave individuals by failing to authorize the appropriate number of
a whole”. The report went on to point to “overwhelming evidence” that Israel had committed the “crime of apartheid”. On the same day as the report’s release, Khalaf -- who also serves as ESCWA’s executive secretary -- said the “ignorance of the international community” in recent decades had “encouraged Israel to continue its abuses of international law”. The ESCWA report was prepared by Richard Falk, an expert in international law and a former UN human rights rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, and Virginia Tilley, a political science professor and expert in Israeli affairs. Established in 1973 to promote economic and social development among member states, ESCWA is currently comprised of 18 Arab nations. wwww.pi-media.co.uk
US lawmakers introduce bill to increase Afghan visas
Special Immigrant Visas” The new legislation will ensure the viability of the SIV program “and send a clear message that America will not turn its back on those — who at great personal risk — stand with us in the fight against terror”, McCain added. The current visa allotment stands at 8,500, and would be increased to 11,000 under the new legislation. Afghanistan is not one of the countries temporarily blacklisted by President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from six Muslim-majority countries. But lawmakers have resisted calls for increasing the SIV program due to what they say are security concerns. www.pi-media.co.uk
I April 2017
German school bans Muslim pupils from publicly praying 16
A school in Germany’s western city of Wuppertal has ordered teachers to prevent Muslim pupils from publicly praying. “In recent weeks it has been increasingly observed that Muslim pupils in the school building are praying, clearly visible to others,
signaled by ritual washings in the toilets, the rolling out of prayer mats, and taking up certain postures,” the school of Gymnasium Johannes Rau said in a written internal note. “This is not permitted,” added the note. Der Westen newspaper initially
reported the news. The school also called on the staff to “identify the names” and “report” any cases of Muslim students praying in school to management, Press TV reported. The move by the German school has met both criticism and praise. Over the past months, Germany has witnessed a rise in hate crimes against refugees and Muslims, following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy regarding asylum seekers arriving in the country mainly from violence-torn states in the Middle East and Africa. Since the beginning of 2016, refugee shelters across Germany have reportedly come under 650 xenophobic attacks. Muslims make up nearly five percent of the total population of Germany, which is home to some four million Muslims.
Sudan and Yemen came a week after the United Nations launched an urgent appeal for $4.4 billion in aid by July to “avert a catastrophe” in the region. “It is a human tragedy that the situation has deteriorated to the
extent where we have over 20 million people facing starvation,” said international development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. “This assistance will be disbursed immediately to the most affected areas. We urge all actors in the affected countries to facilitate humanitarian access so that assistance can reach those most in need.” The UN has warned that the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II because of the food crisis, brought on by conflicts in northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, as well as a severe drought in Somalia. Canada said its funding would take into account the specific needs of women and children, and include the provision of food, healthcare services, clean water and sanitation facilities.
Canada gives $120 mn for famine-hit Africa, Yemen
Canada’s government pledged Can$120 million (US$90 million, 84 million euros) to help relieve food crises in four countries where 20 million people face starvation and famine. The funding for afflicted populations in Nigeria, Somalia, South
First halal certification office opens in Armenia www.pi-media.co.uk
I April 2017
The first certification office of the Halal World Organization opened in Armenia’s capital city Yerevan. It will be engaged in assessing the conformity of Armenia-made food products to the requirements of Iran, to contribute to the growth of demand for Armenia-made products,
and give a boost to tourist flow. Armenia’s minister of economic development and investments Suren Karayan noted that the Halal certificate will allow Armenian producers to export their products not only to Iran, but to all 57 member countries of the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “This is the result of our joint work. We took the initiative to give our businesses the opportunity to pass the Halal certification in Armenia to make this process more attractive and easies for them,” Karayan told reporters during the opening ceremony. He added that the opening of the office in Yerevan is just the beginning of the process, and there is an agreement that if necessary, such offices will open in the regions of Armenia, first of all in the southern regions of the country. In turn, the director of the office Abdul Hussein Farhari said that they have been working in Armenia for two years having provided Halal certificates to two slaughterhouses. “The purpose of opening the Halal office in Armenia is to meet the needs of Muslim tourists and help the Armenian farmers to export their products to Islamic countries,” he said.
Muslims Slam EU Court’s Headscarf Ban The Court of Justice of the European Union has sparked outrage among Muslim communities after it ruled that employers can prevent their workers from wearing religious symbols, including headscarves worn by certain Muslim women. In Germany, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany sharply criticized the ruling, saying it was in contradiction with the basic freedoms guaranteed under the major European conventions on human rights. “With their decision today the judges of the Court of Justice of the European Union have opened the door for further discrimination of Muslim women in Europe and they have further restricted the legal options for objecting such discriminatory measures,” the
council said in a press release. Bekir Altas, secretary general of the Islamic Community of Milli Gorus, one of the largest organizations of the Turkish-Muslim community in Germany has also condemned the court ruling. “The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union is a wrong decision. Moreover it is open to misuse,” he said. – ‘Unacceptable situation’ Altas warned that following this ruling, more Muslim women would be further excluded from the labor market and lose their opportunity to gain their economic independence. “This is an unacceptable situation. Politicians should immediately take necessary steps in the parliament to introduce measures to strengthen the struggle against discrimination,” he added.
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on Tuesday that employers can ban their workers from wearing any religious symbol, including headscarves worn by certain Muslim women. In a ruling on two separate appeals made by Belgium and France over the headscarf ban, the court said companies could bar staff from “visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign”. The EU court further said the decision to ban such symbols at workplaces was not discriminatory. Amel Yacef, European Network Against Racism (ENAR) Chair, criticized the decision describing it as “Muslim ban” Yacef said in Brussels the decision would “effectively” keep away all Muslim women wearing a headscarf from the workplace.
Zionist regime bans entry of BDS supporters
I WORLD NEWS
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The Zionist regime’s parliament passed a legislation barring the entry of supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. “The Knesset (parliament) passed on its second and third readings of the entry into Israel bill,” read a statement released.
It noted that visas and permanent residency of any manner will not be granted to foreigners if they or their organization which they are active in have issued public calls for the BDS or pledged to take part in it. “In recent years calls to boycott Israel have been growing… It seems this is a new front in the war against
Israel,” added the statement, Press TV reported. Critics of the bill say that its wording leaves it open to target Palestinians temporarily residing in the occupied territories. The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.” Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS to help promote the Palestinian cause, including scores of Palestinian and international trade unions, NGOs, initiatives, scores of academic societies, business societies, trade unions, and cultural figures. It has also gained support in countries such as the US, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Romania, South Africa, Australia, and Britain. Israel says the movement is a strategic threat and accuses it of antisemitism, a claim the BDS has denied on multiple occasions.
Young Muslims in Canada go door to door to answer questions about Islam A group of young Muslims have been knocking on their neighbors’ doors in towns across Canada to answer questions about Islam and counter misconceptions about the religion. The initiative was part of a nationwide education campaign called Islam Understood, which aims to shed light on who Muslims are and what they stand for. They sought to counter fears about their religion which they say is currently rising in the country, the Independent reported. Among those meeting people was Qasid Chaudhry who met people in Barrie, Ontario. “There’s a lot of misconceptions people have been getting about
Islam. We’re trying to give people the idea that Isis (Daesh) is not Islam. It is a religion of peace,” Mr Chaudhry told CTV News. Born in Canada, he added that he wanted his neighbors to understand that although he has Islamic values, he also shares their Canadian values. “It’s amazing because a lot of times people are afraid Islamophobia is becoming a really big problem. It makes us feel that people don’t fear Islam, they fear these extremist groups,” he told the Canadian broadcaster. The day of action, had reportedly been planned for some time, but it took place a day after rallies by both critics and supporters of a
Parliamentary motion condemning Islamophobia took over the streets of Montreal this weekend. A French-Canadian student, who was a supporter Donald Trump and far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, has been charged in connection with the shooting. Following the attack, Canadians raised more than £350,000 for those who had been affected by the shooting. In December, a poll by Forum Research carried out among 1,304 Canadians, found that four in 10 people said they had unfavorable feelings against identifiable racial groups - with Muslim being the group most likely to be a target with 28 per cent of unfavorable feelings.
UN agrees to investigate crimes against Rohingya
I April 2017
The top United Nations human rights body agreed to send an international fact-finding mission to investigate widespread allegations of killings, rape and torture by security forces against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. But Myanmar ambassador Htin Lynn, speaking before the decision was taken by consensus, rejected the move as “not acceptable”. Myanmar’s national commission had just interviewed alleged victims who fled to Bangladesh and would issue its findings by August, he said. The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution without a vote, brought by the European Union that called for “ensuring full accountability
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for perpetrators and justice for victims”. A UN report issued last month, based on interviews with 220 Rohingya among 75,000 who have fled to Bangladesh since October, said that Myanmar’s security forces have committed mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya in a campaign that “very likely” amounts to crimes against humanity and possibly ethnic cleansing. Myanmar’s Lynn, referring to the resolution, said: “Such kind of action is not acceptable to Myanmar as it not in harmony with the situation on the ground and our national circumstances. Let the Myanmar people choose the best and the most
effective course of action to address the challenges in Myanmar. “We will be doing what needs to be done and we will do it with great prudence and probity,” he added. China and India said they would “disassociate” themselves from the consensus, with China’s delegation saying the issue “cannot be solved overnight”. Activists welcomed what they called a “landmark decision” by the 47-member forum, while regretting that it was not a full international commission of inquiry, and called on the government to cooperate, Reuters reported. “It is unfortunate that the government of Burma/Myanmar has chosen to disassociate itself from this resolution,” John Samuel, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, said in a statement. “It is important for the National League for Democracy led government in Burma/Myanmar to see international human rights mechanisms as an ally in its arduous struggle with the military, which still maintains effective control in the country and stands implicated in allegations of gross violations. This resolution is a great opportunity for the government to move in the right direction. It should cooperate fully with the international fact finding mission.”
Quran Oasis to display 3,000 rare Quran manuscripts The Saudi government plans to establish a Quran Oasis - a worldclass, integrated cultural and knowledge hub on 50 acres of land in Madinah - City of The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), according to the local media reports. The Quran Oasis, which will serve both academic and recreational
purposes, will also display more than 3,000 rare manuscript copies of the Holy Book, according to the Saudi Gazette. The Quran Oasis will be an integrated world-class cultural and knowledge landmark that showcases everything pertaining to the holy book, an official said.
The City of The Prophet (Peace be upon him) Madinah already has a Quran Printing Complex that produces about 10 million copies of the Quran every year. It has published 55 different translations of the Quran in 39 languages. It also has a Digital Quran Research Centre.
Qatar seeks UK help to set up World Cup 2022 security unit
Organisers of the Qatar World Cup 2022 have signed agreements with Britain to work with security authorities to set up a unit to secure stadiums during the tournament. Two security agreements have been inked to take advantage of British security forces in establishing a national police unit, a statement
www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2017
said. Hassan Al Thawadi, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s secretary general, said: “The great experience of the British security forces in securing stadiums and major events is no secret. “Therefore, we are working with the British security authorities to take
advantage of their experience in establishing a national police unit for the security of stadiums.” He said Qatar is progressing rapidly with preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is continuing to look for long-term partners as it advances towards a legacy-orientated tournament of the future. Addressing delegates at the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum, he said: “This tournament will accelerate change and assist the country in achieving its goals, whether that is infrastructure, economic development goals, or even social and human development goals which are part of the Qatar National Vision 2030.” He added: “The approach we had is that we started with our legacy projects early on. So even when we talk about partnerships with companies, what we are looking for is not short-term partnerships.
Hijab designed for female Muslim athletes US-based company Nike has taken another step into the lucrative Islamic clothing market by unveiling a hijab designed for female Muslim athletes. The product, which has been in development for a year, was tested by athletes including figure skater Zahra Lari. The pull-on hijab is made of light, stretchy fabric that includes tiny holes for breathability and an elongated back so it will not come untucked. It will come in three colours: black, grey and obsidian and goes on sale in 2018. Lari, a hopeful for the Winter Olympics next year in Pyeongchang,
South Korea, posted photos of herself wearing the hijab on her Instagram page. Lari is from Abu Dhabi and represents the United Arab Emirates. “Can’t believe this is finally here!!” she wrote. Last summer, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad of New York became the first Muslim American woman to compete for the United States wearing a hijab at the Olympics. She earned a bronze medal at the Rio Games. The U-17 Women’s World Cup last October in Jordan marked the first time Muslim players wore
headscarves during a Fifa event. Football’s international governing body formally lifted a ban on head coverings in 2014, recognising Muslim and Sikh players. Meanwhile, the governing body for basketball, Fiba, has come under fire for banning headscarves during international competition. Nike has also been making a play for Muslim customers in the Middle East in recent years, opening stores in the region and launching a training app in Arabic. The Islamic market is projected to be worth more than $5tr by 2020. www.pi-media.co.uk
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I April 2017
Communities celebrate Asian participation in Rugby
Young people from Asian communities across Yorkshire came together last month to celebrate a Rugby League Cares project which has made the sport more accessible than ever before. Run in partnership with the Kirklees-based 20:20 Foundation and the Bradford Bulls Rugby Foundation, ‘Connecting Communities’ has given a first taste of Rugby League to hundreds of boys and girls as well as adults who the sport has traditionally found hard to reach. Over the last 12 months, Connecting Communities has taken
Rugby League into schools, youth groups and community centres across large parts of West Yorkshire and provided opportunities for participants to experience the thrill of watching Super League and international matches. Sport England funding for the project ends on Friday and to mark what is widely regarded as a sporting success story for both Rugby League and the diverse Asian communities that it has engaged, participants took part in a bumper participation session at The Zone in Huddersfield before attending the Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos fixture.
Rugby League Cares Programme Manager Chris Rankin-Wright said: “Friday was a great opportunity to bring together each of the three different geographical strands of Connecting Communities and celebrate what has been an extremely successful 12 months. “We’ve made huge strides in the last year and have learnt a significant amount about the various ways in which people can engage with Rugby League from those local communities engaged so far. “It’s been a sharp learning curve for everyone and, more importantly, hugely enjoyable for all. The communities we have reached have developed a rich understanding about Rugby League and we have been able to learn more about their needs and expectations. “The leaders involved in delivering the Connecting Communities programme will now begin writing up project reports for completion by early-May, when the process of evaluation will take place.” Rugby League Cares is now exploring future opportunities to sustain and grow the levels of participation developed so far so that many more people can continue to benefit from great Rugby League experiences.
which organizes the race. “Being on a team of all-female runners is pretty significant, and I feel like it speaks a lot about where [women] are and how far we’ve come,” Khatib told NBC News. “But I also want to prove people wrong, [and show them that] covered Muslim women can and do run marathons. I want to shatter those stereotypes. It’s my way of giving back to running and to humanity as a whole.” “I have wanted to run Boston
since the moment I realized what a big deal it is for runners,” Khatib told NBC News. “I always said that I would love to run the Boston Marathon and fundraise and my efforts would go directly to the refugees, but I never thought anything would materialize. When I got into Boston this year, I thought, ‘it was meant to be.’” Khatib, originally from Damascus, moved to US in the 1980s. She currently resides in Michigan with her husband and three kids.
Muslim to make history in Boston Marathon When Rahaf Khatib, the hijabwearing Muslim athlete, races in April’s Boston marathon, she will be making several records. Hijab-Wearing Muslim to Make History in Boston Marathon In this race, the 33-year-old will be participating as a member of a special all-female team to honor the 50th anniversary of Katherine Switzer’s 1967 race, the first time a woman ran in the Boston Marathon as a numbered entrant, according to the Boston Athletic Association,
www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2017
By Irfan Raja Independent Journalist
For a long time, the life as a tribal inhabitant on both sides of Pakistan and Afghanistan has been challenging and miserable. Since colonial rule, none of the governments whether political, dictatorships or other form of administrative rule have provided them basic necessities of life that one is accustomed to in other parts of PakistanFor decades, these deprived and neglected people are living victims of modern human slavery at the hands of powerful and privilege elites that often use them as a product to sell their political and economic commodity. This in reality translates as having little or no access to higher
education, health facilities and modern day communication facilities. For innocent people living in the of tribal areas of both countries, what is more shocking is that they had been treated like a kebab in a sandwich by those involved in a power struggle to take control of their natural resources. At worse, the American-led war on terror has brought them yet another unpleasant and troublesome newsThe Drones! The story of drone strikes reflect two significant points. Firstly, the value of human life is not the same as in the real world. Surely, if anyone has any doubt in this argument then happily follow the media coverage of
terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut. Secondly, the establishment on both sides have their own political and economic priorities and preferences in which ordinary civilians have a little value. The war on terror that has brought drone warfare to Pakistan has little to do with fighting terrorism and more to do with political game and power ambitions on both sides. A few leading critics and journalist including Mark Mazzetti had disclosed that in secret negotiations, the terms of the bargain were set...Both sides agreed that all drone flights in Pakistan would operate under the C.I. Aâ€™s covert action authority-meaning
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that the United States would never acknowledge the missile strikes and that Pakistan would either take credit for the individual killings or remain silent. It is a known fact that the Pakistani establishment has used a “fear factory” to frighten ordinary people that if we refuse or challenge the American viewpoint on the use of drones they will send us back to “the stone age” Former President of Pakistan and military hardman General Pervez Musharraf openly admitted in his book that he had offered assistance and authorisation to the American forces to carry on drone strikes in Pakistan by allowing them to use Shamsi Airbase, that is also known to public as ‘Bhandari Airstrip’ located in naturally rich Balochistan province in the South-West of Quetta. Even for democratically elected governments such as the Pakistan People’s Party the fate of the civilians in drone strikes showed no priority. In a TV talk show the former ISI Chief late General Hamid Gul disclosed how Pakistan’s former President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minster Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani had undermined the importance of Pakistani civilians. According to General Gul, Zardari stated as “it is not my worry that if civilians are dying in drone attacks” whilst Gillani assured Americans that “you continue your operations whilst we will continue to [phoney] protest”. The military and political leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistanh are complicit to a large extent in failing to safeguard innocent civilians that are victims of unlawful Drones attacks aimed at killing the bad guys or chasing bogymen? This is what our governments and their imbedded journalists have told us since the start of never ending war on terror that has taken thousands of lives whilst leaving hundreds of
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people permanently disabled. So far, the media has raised profiles of criminals and culprits to the point of dangerous and most wanted terrorists that had never existed in real life or exaggeratedwhy the media hardly ever showed their dead bodies- In a Russian State Television programme Cross Talk show aired on 20 March 2013, Judy Bello of ‘Upstate Drone Action’ in her comment said, “The real point is not controlling the Taliban, the real point is keeping the war going from the stand point of American government that is their objective”. She further said that, “Normally people don’t care about what happening and they don’t think what’s happening and its outside normal society” she argued that the real point is that drones keeps the war going and their use has been utterly counterproductive. A research study claimed “That US drone policy in the region has not helped Washington achieve its goal of curbing terrorism in the region”. A prominent defence consultant, Ehsan Ahrari, has raised a significant question that “What is the effects of Drone’s attack?” the effect of drone’s attacks is that the popularity of United States is rock-bottom in Pakistan” Evidence shows that Pakistan is capable of shooting down drones as it has already shot-down Indian drone- So what is that special in case of American one’s? Why can’t Pakistan down American illegal drones? Ordinary people often says that whilst in our neighbouring Iran military can shoot down spy American drone so what has stopped us from shooting down American drones that are openly sabotage our sovereignty? The reason is that the Pakistani Army has always been India centric which is fair enough but
is it wise to protect one set of people whilst the other half of the same nation are allowed to be victims? Like Americans are least interested to treat gun shootings their co-elite joint ventures in Pakistan and elsewhere are little enthralled in waging war on financial terrorist’s right at the heart of their country for instance in Karachi. Of course, no wise person has ever suggested to begin a war with America. There are peaceful options and ways to deal with drone attacks as Imran Khan had offered a third option that is to negotiate on our terms in a peaceful way. Back in October 2012, when Imran Khan organised a protest march against the American Drone Warfare in Pakistan he was joined by number of American peace activists. Diplomatic choices are available only if our government was capable enough to lobby and presented it in the case of drone strikes. Have the Americans invaded Turkey for disallowing them to use Turkey’s air space on number of occasions? Or have the Americans attacked Iran for downing their drone? Or have the Russians attacked Turkey and send it to “the stone age” over the controversial shooting-down of its fighter jet? The answer is simply a No! No wise government starts war nor could any living sovereign nation allow others to compromise its freedom- Iram Khalid is right to suggest that, “Pakistan should highlight its counter militancy measures in international community by media campaign, effective diplomacy at UN and speedy trial of militants in courts to give them a strong message” But of course the question remains that whether or not the Pakistani establishment could be in apposition to defend its civilians and present its case on international level.
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The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context
www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2017
‘If there had to be a prophet after me, it would have been ‘Umar’ (Tirmidhi 3686). This statement from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is demonstrative of the view that Umar Ibn al-Khattab possessed a high degree of wisdom and intellect coupled with exemplary leadership skills. The leadership shown by Umar Ibn al Khattab at the Saqifa stood him in good stead for the challenges that lay ahead for the fledging Islamic state. The Caliphate (Khilafah) of Umar Ibn al-Khattab sowed the seeds for a far-reaching ambitious programme being implemented that transformed the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. One of the most important achievements during the reign of Umar Ibn al-Khattab was in the field of irrigation. Some may ask why the expansion of the irrigation network be pivotal development, but the answer lies in the fact that the demands of urbanisation
brought with it the need to provide fresh water and a sustainable food supply chain. Guaranteeing a sustainable food supply chain and an abundance of water was by no means possible without heavy financial investment and manpower in developing and expanding canals being connected to the irrigation network grid. Primitive irrigation networks had been used by the Nabateans for centuries to provide water for communities in a highly sustainable and efficient manner. The Arabs also were known to have used the Saqiya (animal pot driven wheel) to irrigate the arid lands of the Arabian Peninsula. However, as discussed earlier the phenomenon of urbanisation led to a dramatic movement of people away from desert life to the towns and cities across the peninsula. Prosperity lay in the cities and towns and not the desert and areas around military encampments such
as Basra, Kufa and Fustat that later became huge megacities. Rapid urbanisation brought great pressure upon the authorities to spend money in building cities and to expand the irrigation network system. According to Tabari, Utba Ibn Ghazwan on the authority of Umar Ibn al-Khattab built the first canal linking the Tigris river to Basra ensuring the diversion of water from the north to south. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari also built canals linking Basra and the Ubulla and Ma’qil river which culminated in the Basra region (modern-day southern Iraq) having a sustainable supply of fresh drinking water. Another significant aspect of the irrigation policy initiated by Umar Ibn al-Khattab was that thousands of kilometres of arid land was suddenly brought to life which in turn facilitated the growth of a multitude of crops crucial to meeting the nutritional needs of an ever-growing population.
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