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Organized violence Muslims in Europe



The Islamic Muslim women campaign Basketball Caliphate

Enough is Enough! News and Sport

Issue: 120


April 2018

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Since 9/11 and 7/7, hatred of Muslims coupled with the spectre of Islamophobia has become the norm rather than the exception. Anti-Muslim bigotry has to all intents and purposes has become so casual and widespread that it has been normalised and is now indeed an inherent part of British culture. We can safely say that to call a Muslim woman wearing a hijab as being’ oppressed’ or a Muslim male sporting a beard ‘a terrorist’ is considered to be ‘cool’ in many sections of British society. Indeed, Baroness Warsi quite rightly pointed out a few years ago that ‘Islamophobia’ had passed the dinner table test within the upper echelons of society. The Runnymede Trust in its seminal work argued that ‘religious literacy’ is lacking at all institutional levels and sectors in the United Kingdom and failure to engage in this work will only fuel Islamophobia in the coming decades. We need to ask ourselves the question how we have got to this stage in 2018 nearly seventeen years on from 9/11 and thirteen years on from 7/7. The d by Certifie


answer to this question is quite complex and needs further examination. The conveyor belt of attacks upon Muslims ranging from accusations of failing to follow us on fb


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integrate to the ideology of the Islamic tradition being the incubator of so called Jihadist terror sweeping the world has created a toxic environment that has now

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By Islamic Human Rights Commission

Govt new integration plans are doomed from the outset

The announcement by the government that it is to launch a £50m fund to support integration and bring together “divided” communities is an act of dog-whistle politics and a distraction from the real everyday problems faced by ethnic minority communities. The government says that money will go towards English language classes, special programmes to help women into the workforce and plans to promote ‘British values’ in schools in a bid to improve “integration” between “divided communities”. IHRC views the collapsing of so-called British values with key life skills as another example of the government’s obsession with dragging what it sees as a conservative Muslim community down the path of liberalism. It is an act of social engineering no less and a nod to the rising clamour from a resurgent right and elements of the left for a further rolling back of multiculturalism, We should not forget that the Fundamental British Values the government talks about are part of a wider securitisation discourse which posits the conservatism of Muslims

as a reason for poor integration and by extension a potential threat to national security. In so much as they are based on racial and religious tropes the implementation of FBV’s will face the same resistance that they did when they were introduced on the back of the Prevent anti-terror programme. What is abundantly clear from the research is that Muslims consistently feel a stronger sense of belonging to Britain than other groups. Citizenship surveys by the IHRC since 2004 have consistently shown that British Muslims cherish the same universal values as everyone else. IHRC’s British Muslims’ Expectations of Government research series show that an overwhelming majority of British Muslims respect the law and see little or no contradiction between being a good British citizen and being a practising Muslim, with many citing their faith as a reason for their loyalty. In a BBC survey in February 2016, 95% percent of Muslims stated they felt a loyalty to Britain and 93% agreed that Muslims should obey British laws. Yet nearly half of them (46%) felt that it was difficult being a Muslim in Britain because of

prejudice against Islam. Instead of pandering to bigots the government should start to address the exclusion caused by Islamophobia, discrimination and media demonisation, all of which have the effect of ‘otherising’ Muslims leading to higher rates of unemployment and causing some to withdraw to the relative sanctuary of their own close-knit communities. This was also the conclusion reached by a survey last year of Muslim integration in Europe. Based on interviews with 10,000 respondents in Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK, the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation in Germany found that none of these countries offer consistently good opportunities for participation, and Muslims encounter open rejection from about one fifth of the population.

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Continued from front page

left every Muslim fearing for their safety in this country. Politicians and political parties have never really understood Islam or Muslims and one fears they never will or probably do not want to. The Conservatives for example did not even care about the Muslim vote in the last two elections because they felt that they were going to take their vote elsewhere. David Cameron was seen going out of his way to court the Hindu and Sikh vote in 2015 but refused to be seen with Muslims. Zak Goldsmith was given the green light to conduct one of the nastiest and vindictive election campaigns ever seen in this country against Sadiq Khan in the London Mayoral campaign by Cameron and his entourage. Last month, the Prime Minster Theresa May said Russia and ’Islamic terrorism’ were the biggest threats the world face. Reckless use of words does more damage to Muslims coming from the Prime Minister than the likes of Paul Golding, Jayda Fransen and Tommy Robinson. Islam is not synonymous with terrorism first and foremost and will never be. Islam does not condone or promotes the killing of innocent people anywhere under any circumstances. Therefore, the actions of certain Muslims or groups such as ISIS/Daesh are not in any way shape or form sanctioned by the Islamic creed. Labour under Tony Blair were the architects of the toxic environment that Muslims find themselves through the creation of the PREVENT strategy. PREVENT has been a spectacular and abject failure over the last 13 years in that the programme has ended up being less about combating radicalization and rather focuses on criminalising and policing thought in Muslim communities under the pretext of safeguarding. Anyone who opposes PREVENT is by default accused of failing to prioritise the safety of children which is an insult to those who have

genuine and legitimate concerns about the direction the government’s counter-terror strategy is heading in. Certain local authorities in recent years have given public space to far -right groups such as Britain First and EDL to hold demonstrations that have damaged community relations and the local economy in the long run. The very presence of these groups has fuelled anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry in towns and cities across the country and in turn some local authorities having manufactured a previously non-existent problem have appealed to government for counterterror funding to preserve jobs that have been under threat due to the ideological austerity mission which started in 2010 designed to make the state smaller. The Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group set by the government has been nothing but a damp squib and sop to the Muslim community. The group was given the remit of tackling anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred and providing guidance to government ministers. The group has achieved very little in recent years primarily because a raft of Home Secretaries have not bothered to attend the meetings held in London and actually listen to what the members of the working group have to say. Furthermore, the group has attempted to force the agenda on Islamophobia only to be told to concentrate on planning event to mark the festival of Eid!!!!! (see Dr Chris Allen article Why I Quit the Government’s Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group www. huffingtonpost. co.uk/dr-chrisallen/anti-muslimhatred-workinggroup_b_6064866. html The media also is culpable in fuelling Islamophobia

and anti-Muslim bigotry through its reporting of news. Unfortunately, the media has a lack of diversity and does not possess the right quality and calibre of people who can provide a fresh insight into what Islam is and what the faith represents as far as British Muslims are concerned in Britain today. Just last week, Channel 4 Dispatches programme ‘Who speaks for British Muslims’ was the tip of the iceberg of the problem facing British Muslims. The programme was poorly researched and failed to provide an objective view in terms of who actually does speak for British Muslims let alone deal with the question in the first place! The programme instead turned into a diatribe against two Muslim organisations namely CAGE and MEND and the strategy used by the programme makers was very much contrary to fair and unbiased reporting. This now brings us to present which is that life for many Muslims in the United Kingdom has become worse and is getting worse day by day. Many Muslims are now fearful of going about their daily lives now as they are faced with threats of intimidation and violence. Muslims are now looking over their shoulder now waiting for the next news headline to break or new government policy announcement that targets them. The situation is now at breaking point which begs the question which direction we are now heading in going into the next decade.





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Organized violence against Muslims in Europe alarming: Euro-Med In Case You Missed It

The widespread practices of organized violence against Muslims in Europe are deeply distressful and alarming, says the EuroMediterranean Human Rights Monitor. In a statement, Euro-Med said it is especially alarming because random attacks against Muslims have turned into organized crime, with populist groups and bodies stroking up hatred and promising rewards for crimes directed against the Muslim minority. Here is the reset of the statement: If European governments do not take an immediate decisive and unified position regarding these crimes, catastrophic results are likely to impact societal peace across the continent, Euro-Med Monitor warned in a press statement. Following reports of hate letters titled “Punish a Muslim Day,” received across the UK, which incites Islamophobic acts of violence against Muslims, the human rights nonprofit group warned of possible hate crimes, stressing that such letters will only further harm Muslims residing in the country and elsewhere. The letter has been circulated in mosques, outside institutions and public places, and randomly emailed to hundreds of people, calling for hostilities against Muslims everywhere, with 3 April as the day for carrying out these attacks. Those who wrote the letter proposed a points-based system for

acts of violence against Muslims, for each point scored a certain reward was promised. Taking a woman’s hijab off accounts for 25 points, the letter said, 50 points for acid attacks, and 1000 points for burning or blowing up a mosque. The Metropolitan Police and Bradford Police reported that they had received several communications from persons receiving messages of incitement and violence against Muslims. EuroMed Monitor calls on the British police to act firmly regarding these letters, especially that it is highly possible to obtain an address for the anonymous sender/senders. Reportedly, hate crimes against Muslims have escalated in recent years in the UK and Europe in general. London City recorded a remarkable increase in the number of crimes during 2017 by 40%, while the German Interior Ministry announced that the number of assaults against Muslims and mosques during the same year amounted to about 950. A member of an Italian rightwing racist party fired six bullets at a 54-year-old Senegalese salesman and instantly killed him in Florence a few days ago. A month earlier, a young man of the same right-wing party fired live ammunition killing six foreigners of African descent in Macerata City. The situation of Muslim in Europe is taking a more alarming turn,

while Muslims only make up about 5% of the total population. They are under constant Islamophobic threats, stated the Geneva-based organization, which will only instill fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims, with such practices instigating an endless cycle of violence. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on the European Union to come to a unified and firm stance regarding these practices and to exert more efforts to ensure respect and protection of the rights and religious beliefs of migrants and minority groups. Euro-Med Monitor further calls for holding those responsible for incitement and violence accountable.

Haribo includes Halal candies in first UK retail store

Gummy manufacturer Haribo has opened its first UK-based retail store in the UK at London Designer Outlet (LDO) in Wembley Park, London. Shoppers can purchase exclusive merchandise as well as Haribo products from other parts of the world including halal and vegetarian sweets. Haribo is the largest gummy player in the UK market followed by Nestlé’s Rowntree’s brand and Mondelez-owned Maynard’s, according to Euromonitor. It currently operates two manufacturing facilities in West Yorkshire in the UK, which employs more than 700 people.


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I April 2018



Britain’s first purpose-built Mosque given highest conservation status

A mosque has been granted the highest protected building status for the first time after a reappraisal of the historic importance of Britain’s Muslim places of worship. The Shah Jahan mosque, which became Britain’s first purpose-built mosque when it opened in 1889 in Woking, Surrey, has been elevated to Grade I listed status – putting it on a par with buildings such as the Brighton Pavilion and Buckingham Palace. The mosque is one of five to be given new or upgraded listings

as part of work by conservation watchdog Historic England to record and protect places of worship. Also given protected status for the first time is London’s Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, built in 1970s – some seven decades after a fund was established for its construction. The mosque is given the second highest listing category of grade II*. The Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “I’m proud to be shining a light on these exceptional places of worship established by Muslim communities

in England. Through listing we are celebrating some of our most significant examples of Islamic heritage, from the stunning Shah Jahan [mosque] in Woking to the landmark London Central Mosque.” Britain has some 1,500 mosques and the diverse nature of the Muslim community results in a wide variety of buildings – from terraced houses to purpose-built structures – being used to worship. Fewer than 20 per cent of the UK’s mosques are purpose-built. Situated in a wealthy corner of the Home Counties, the Shah Jahan mosque was commissioned by one of the more unusual figures from Britain’s Muslim history. Gottlieb Leitner was born to a Jewish family in Hungary before converting to Islam while working as a linguist in British India. He returned to Britain in the 1880s with the aim of establishing a center for the study of oriental languages and the mosque was built initially to host visiting students rather than the public. Built by an English architect, William Chambers, in the Orientalist style and partly funded by the Indian female ruler of Bhopal, the mosque is still used for daily prayer.

Muslim man’s £2,000 compensation after Belfast hostel asked him to leave A man who feels he was asked to leave a Belfast youth hostel because he’s a Muslim has received £2,000 compensation. The French national, of Algerian descent, took a case alleging racial and religious discrimination against the Youth Hostel Association of Northern Ireland Limited, with the help of the Equality Commission. Samir Chefai who had lived in Belfast for 16 years visited his family in Paris, but left the keys to his Belfast home at his mother’s house in Paris by mistake. While he was waiting for the keys to be sent back to him, he checked into the Belfast Youth

Hostel for two nights and paid in advance, the Commission added. They said: “On the second day of his stay he was in the lobby of the hostel, speaking on his mobile phone in French. A staff member approached him and asked him who he was. “Mr Chefai replied that he was a guest, but when the staff member looked up his check-in details, and saw that he had an address in Belfast, he said that he did not need to stay in the hostel. The staff member told him he should leave and contacted the police. Mr Chefai felt he had no option but to leave.”

Mr Chefai says he was shocked, humiliated and embarrassed. He added: “I was asked to leave the hostel, even though I had paid for a second night’s stay. It felt to me as though assumptions were being made about my race and religion - that I was a Muslim of middle-eastern origin - and I was being asked to leave because of someone’s opinion about me. “Other people in the lobby could hear everything that was said which I found very embarrassing. I did eventually find another place to stay that night but only after some hours walking through Belfast. The whole experience was very unpleasant.”





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Founder of Anti-Islam group Pegida barred from entry to UK

The founder of far right anti-Islam group Pegida has been barred from entry to the UK and deported from Stansted airport. Lutz Bachmann, who has led anti-immigration marches of tens of thousands of people was detained and subsequently expelled from the UK last month. The Home Office said Bachmann was refused entry on grounds his presence in Britain was not in the interest of the public good. “Border Force has the power to refuse entry to an individual if it is

considered that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good,” said a spokesperson. Supporters say Bachmann was due to speak alongside Tommy Robinson – the former English Defence League leader who founded a subsidiary branch of Pegida in the UK – at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. The 45-year-old founded Pegida, which stands for “Patriotic Europeans against Islamization of the West”, in October 2014 to demonstrate opposition to plans for 14 refugee

centers in Dresden, Germany. Branded “Nazis in pinstripes”, the group has been widely accused of racism, fascism and xenophobia. Bachmann stepped down from his official role as leader in January 2015 after a picture of him dressed as Hitler surfaced on Facebook – something he dismissed as a “joke”. However, he then capitalized on a resurgence of concerns around a migration influx and returned to his post after the outcry had subsided a few months later. According to the Sachsische Zeitung newspaper, Bachmann has several criminal convictions – 16 burglaries, driving drunk or without a license and dealing cocaine. In 1998, after Bachmann was sentenced to a number of years in prison, he fled to South Africa but was deported back to Germany. The decision to bar Bachmann comes after Canadian far-right activist Lauren Southern was detained in Calais and banned from entering the UK earlier in the week. Ms Southern, who worked for far-right Canadian site The Rebel Media, was held by Border Force in Coquelles.

Man jailed for life after running over Muslim woman in Leicester A man has been jailed for life for ramming his car into one woman and trying to hit a schoolgirl in a series of Islamophobic hate crimes he intended as a retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out by Islamist extremists in the UK. Paul Moore had shown no remorse over the attacks, the judge said, as he sentenced him to a 20year minimum term for attempted murder, attempted grievous bodily harm with intent and dangerous driving at Nottingham crown court. Zaynab Hussein, 47, sustained serious fractures to her leg, arm, pelvis and spine during the assault, in which Moore drove a car on to the

pavement and hit her from behind, before turning it around and driving over her again. Shortly afterwards, he drove the car at his second victim, a 12-yearold Muslim girl walking to school, knocking her bag out of her hand. Both were targeted because they were wearing Islamic clothing, the judge said. The court also heard that, after the incident, the 21-year-old from Leicester told friends the attacks were in retaliation for terrorist attacks in the UK. He also told a relative he intended to target Muslims and was seen laughing during the attack. In carrying

it out, Moore saw himself as doing “the country a favour”, the court heard. “The courage of your victims, and the compassion and courage of all those who came to the aid of Mrs Hussein in different ways – and who notably come from across the diverse range of this local community – stand in stark contrast to your wickedness that morning,” Mr Justice Soole told Moore . In a victim impact statement, Hussein said she remained incapacitated since the incident. “I don’t understand why someone would want to hurt me, especially somebody I have never met.”




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Human Rights group call on Trump to publish drones policy

Thirteen leading human rights organisations have called on President Trump to urgently publish his policy on the use of lethal force abroad, after he reportedly changed the rules to reduce oversight and roll back safeguards. The Trump Administration has refused to publicly clarify whether the Presidential Policy Guidance, issued under President Obama, is still in effect. Leaks suggest President Trump has rolled back the safeguards contained within the PPG, replacing them with guidance that gives both the Pentagon and the

CIA much greater freedom to carry out strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Niger and elsewhere. In a joint statement, the thirteen organisations raise concerns that the new unpublished policy could be leading to illegal targeting of individuals outside of armed conflict, an increased number of civilian deaths, and a heightened role for the CIA in carrying out drone strikes which lack accountability and oversight. The statement calls on President Trump to urgently publish his updated policy guidance, ensure

that all lethal operations are in line with international law and implement effective investigations after drone strikes to ensure accountability. The statement also calls on allies of the United States to withhold support for US operations that might be illegal. Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, Head of the Assassinations Programme at Reprieve said, “An area of policy as crucial as where the President can kill, should not remain hidden in the shadows. Last year alone, President Trump carried out more than three times as many strikes as Obama in Yemen and authorised two raids that killed almost a dozen children and a Navy SEAL. Congress has been clear – President Trump needs to disclose his new guidance and he needs to do so by this Monday. Only then can they, and the American public, ensure this policy is making us more, rather than less, safe.” The thirteen organisations are: American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Center for Constitutional Rights, Coalition for Peace Action, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Human Rights Clinic – Columbia Law School, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare, National, Religious Campaign Against Torture, Open Society Foundations, and Reprieve.

Two imams fired over Bitcoin dealings in Turkey

Two imams caught trading in a virtual currency in the Turkish Black Sea province of Zonguldak have lost their jobs, news site Gazete Manifesto said . Mecit K., an imam at a mosque at Zonguldak city centre, and Satılmış B., an imam working in one

of the surrounding villages, had both begun using Bitcoin on the internet and were caught as part of an investigation by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). The Diyanet issued a fatwa against the use of cryptocurrencies in late 2017, declaring them “not

compatible with Islam”. Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not illegal in Turkey, but the deputy minister in charge of the economy has warned Turks against using the currency.



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UN decries desperate state of right to health in Occupied Palestinian Territory

Israel has failed to uphold its obligations under international law to ensure the health and welfare of the Palestinian population under its control, said an independent expert mandated by the United Nations to monitor human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, stated in a report delivered to the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the healthcare system for Palestinians living in Gaza was on the edge of collapse. “The right to health is one of the most fundamental and widely recognised of human rights, touching

upon everything that we do as humans, and its robust promotion is one of the most effective tools available to reduce the scourges of social and economic inequalities, gender disparities, discrimination and poverty,” he said. “Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory – with characteristics such as the expanding settlement enterprise, the annexation of territory, the confiscation of private and public lands, the pillaging of resources, the publicly-stated ambitions for permanent control over all or part of the Territory, as well as the Territory’s fragmentation – has had a highly disruptive impact upon health care and the broader social determinants

for health for Palestinians in the occupied territory.” Lynk noted with great concern increasing delays or denials in exit permits for those seeking needed medical treatment outside of Gaza, concluding that “Israel’s byzantine and opaque exit permit system imposed upon patients who require treatment outside of Gaza is but one element which demonstrates that Israel’s obligations as occupying power to the residents of Gaza remain far from fulfilled”. The Special Rapporteur also drew attention to the impact of occupation, and associated violence, uncertainty, and regular violations of human rights, on the mental health of Palestinians, describing a mental health system that is increasingly illequipped to provide greatly needed support and resources. The Special Rapporteur recommended that Israel “ensure regular and reliable access, at all times, for all Palestinian patients who require specialised health care outside of their jurisdictions, consistent with genuine Israeli security concerns” and to “comply fully with its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law with respect to fulfilling the health needs of the protected population”, among other recommendations.

Gina Haspel is not fit to lead the CIA, says Reprieve

President Trump has announced that he will nominate Gina Haspel as the new Director of the CIA, as part of a reshuffle of jobs after Rex Tillerson’s departure as Secretary of State. The human rights organisation Reprieve says Gina Haspel previously oversaw a notoriously brutal CIA ‘black site’ in Thailand in 2002, where men, including Palestinian Abu Zubaydah, were waterboarded and used as a ‘guinea pig’ for torture techniques. She subsequently helped destroy video

evidence of the abuse. Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve said, “Is this back to the future, or forward to the past? Gina Haspel was one of President Bush’s torturers-in-chief and she is simply not fit to hold an office that requires, at its very heart, a commitment to uphold the values of the Constitution. “This is another example of Donald Trump’s backward-looking reliance on people and methods that have failed. The bright ideas of the

CIA during the ‘War on Terror’ – from Guantánamo and black sites to torture and rendition – did nothing to make America safer. Promoting the people responsible for that failure of strategy shows weakness and not strength from the President. “This appointment should be a warning to allies of the US in the UK, Europe and around the world to rethink their cooperation with an administration which has refused again and again to show respect for the values we all share.”


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Indonesia’s parliament bans critical coverage of its members 14

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling on Indonesia’s constitutional court to overturn an article in a new law under which anyone, including journalists, could be prosecuted and jailed if they “disrespect” the country’s parliamentarians, and which therefore clearly violates press freedom. Known as the MD3 Law, the new law regulating Indonesia’s legislative bodies took effect on 15 March 2018, one month after President Jokowi refused to sign it on the grounds that it was a source of public disquiet.


The president’s refusal did not, however, have the effect of vetoing the law. It is article 122 of the law that is a source of great concern to journalists and those who defend the freedom to inform, because it opens the way to criminal proceedings for any “criticism” or “disrespect” for parliament or its members. “Ill considered and poorly worded, this article makes it impossible for the fourth estate to cover parliamentary issues in an independent manner and represents a grave violation

of the country’s constitution and the principle of the separation of powers”, said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We call on the constitutional court to lose no time in striking down this article, which poses a real threat to press freedom in Indonesia.” RSF supports the initiative taken by Indonesian civil society organisations, which referred the law to the constitutional court on the day it took effect. The law is all the more worrying because its vague wording does not define ‘disrespect’ and sets no limit on the penalties for violations, allowing parliamentarians to interpret any critical media coverage as ‘disrespect’ and to impose punishments in a completely arbitrary manner. The law has taken effect against a backdrop of legislation which is becoming more and more hostile towards press freedom, although this freedom is guaranteed in the Indonesian constitution, as amended in 2002. Amendments currently being drafted to the criminal code could also criminalise media criticism of the president and vice-president. Indonesia is ranked 124th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. www.pi-media.co.uk

Egypt creates hotline to report ‘fake news’ Egypt have set up telephone hotlines for the public to report “mendacious” information in the media. The department of prosecutions announced on 12 March 2018 that hotlines have been created in every region for members of the public to call or leave text messages reporting fake news in either traditional or social media that

endangers state security. “After arresting journalists, blocking online media and bringing traditional media outlets under its control, President Sisi’s regime is now inciting the public to be on the watch for supposedly fake news”, Egypt’s chief prosecutor accused the “forces of evil” of “trying to undermine the security and safety of the nation through the broadcast

and publication of lies and false news” in the media and on social networks. And he ordered all Egyptian prosecutors to scrutinise the media for “false news.” Most of the independent media have been stifled, either by the blocking of their websites or by being brought under direct control. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Facebook complicit with Israel: Gaza journalists


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Dozens of Palestinian journalists staged a demonstration outside the UN office in Gaza City to protest Facebook’s practice of blocking Palestinian Facebook accounts. Demonstrators held banners saying “Facebook is complicit in [Israel’s] crimes” and “Facebook favors the [Israeli] occupation.” Speaking at the demonstration, organized by the Journalists Support Committee, a Palestinian NGO, Salama Maarouf, a spokesman for Hamas, described the popular social media platform as “a major violator of freedom of opinion and expression. “Facebook blocked roughly 200 Palestinian accounts last year - and 100 more since the start of 2018 - on phony pretexts.”


He asserted that some 20 percent of Israeli Facebook accounts “openly incite violence against Palestinians” without facing any threat of closure. In late 2016, Facebook signed an agreement with the Israeli regime’s justice ministry in which it promised to “monitor” content on Palestinian accounts. In March 2017, Facebook briefly shut down the page of Fatah, the party which dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA), after it published an old photograph of late leader Yasser Arafat holding a rifle. A political satire page, Mish Eek, critical of both Israel and the PA, has been shut down and reopened several times. Social media platforms do not

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take down content for overtly political reasons, but they do take down what they consider “hate speech” or incitement to violence, and other forms of online abuse that anyone reports to the administrators. But Palestinian journalists and activists say there is a double standard regarding the enforcement of the platform’s policies. Palestinians journalists and activists have created their own social media watch group, called Sada Social. Sada Social was launched in September 2017 by three Palestinian journalists, with the aim of documenting “violations against Palestinian content” on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, and to liaise with their executives to restore some of the pages and accounts that have been shut down. Iyad Alrefaie, cofounder of Sada Social, earlier this year told Al Jazeera “there is a very big gap between Palestinians and Israelis. “[Nothing happens] to Israelis who publish a status calling for killing Palestinians,” he said. “But if Palestinians post any news about something happening on the ground or done by an Israeli soldier, Facebook [may] close the account or the page, or delete the post.” www.pi-media.co.uk

Almost 1,000 attacks on Muslims reported in Germany in 2017

German authorities registered at least 950 attacks on Muslims and their institutions, including 60 against mosques, in 2017, the Neue Osnabrueckner Zeitung reported, citing data provided to lawmakers by the Interior Ministry. The ministry said 33 people were injured in the attacks, some of which involved pig’s blood, the newspaper

reported. No data were available for comparisons because the ministry only began separately collecting data about anti-Islamic attacks - as opposed to anti-migrant attacks - in 2017. Nearly all those responsible for the attacks were right-wing activists, the data showed, according to the

newspaper. Aiman Mazyek, who heads the Central Council of Muslims, told the paper the number of attacks on Muslims and Muslim facilities was likely much higher given that many authorities were not yet monitoring anti-Islamic incidents specifically and victims often failed to make police reports.

Israel to legalize holding bodies of slain Palestinians 16



The Zionist regime of Israel’s parliament (Knesset) is expected to approve a controversial bill that allows police to hold bodies of the Palestinians killed by the regime’s forces and not hand them over to their families for burial. The bill, co-sponsored by rightwing Israeli lawmakers Anat Berko and Bezalel Smotrich, has passed its first reading, and will be put to vote in two more readings later. If approved, the law authorizes the Israeli police to determine the



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conditions under which the funerals for the Palestinian victims will be held. It applies to the slain Palestinians from the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, but not from the West Bank. Under the law, Israeli police could issue an order to postpone the handing over of the Palestinians’ bodies until those organizing the funeral promise to meet certain conditions. The conditions include a limit

on the number of participants at the funeral and a ban on some individuals’ participation as well as a specified time, site and route for the procession, Press TV reported. In special cases, the Israeli police could even demand the posting of a bond to guarantee that certain conditions are carried out during the burial. The police would also be permitted to delay transferring the bodies if it deems that the funeral could lead to a loss of life or injury. Back in January, Israeli lawmker Jamal Zahalka described the act of preventing someone’s burial as shameful. “All cultures see burying the dead as a commandment, and preventing a burial is an act of villainy. You are giving Jews a bad name,” he said. Israel dramatically increased holding bodies of the slain Palestinians since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian lands in October 2015. In July 2017, however, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the police do not have the legal authority to delay returning bodies to their families.

decree, teams of experts and halal inspectors from Muslim religious [groups],” Thora said. “If we can implement it effectively, we will receive a lot of benefit from Muslim tourism.” Sim Mohddaud, a member of the Highest Council for Islamic Religious Affairs of Cambodia, said the involvement of religious leaders would boost confidence in the government’s measures. “Muslim people will trust on the implementation of sub-decree from Commerce Ministry because this . . . has cooperation from the highest council for Islamic Religious Affairs

Cambodia,” he said. “We will work closely with ministry to control the quality of the certificates.” Mohddaud noted that there were no regulations prior to the newly announced rules, and many restaurants bearing halal logos were not engaging in proper practices. He said he thought the new sub-decree was necessary in order to ensure a higher quality and trustworthy product. “Before, it was a bit challenging for Muslim people or Muslim tourists to trust the Cambodian market” regarding halal criteria, he said. www.pi-media.co.uk

Halal food regulations in Cambodia moves closer Cambodia’s Commerce Ministry announced a standardized certification process for halal food in the country, a move that was praised by Muslim religious leaders and food producers. At a workshop held to promote awareness about the new regulation, Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Mao Thora said that the rules would boost the confidence of Muslim visitors and residents in the Kingdom who wished to ensure their food was halal, or allowed under Islamic dietary laws. “We are now ready to implement this, since we already have the sub-

UN condemns anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka www.pi-media.co.uk

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In Case You Missed It

The United Nations condemned a string of anti-Muslim attacks in Sri Lanka including the burning of mosques and businesses. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Sri Lankan government the people behind the violence should be brought to justice. During his visit Feltman “condemned the breakdown in law

and order and the attacks against Muslims and their property”, a UN statement said. Feltman, who met with local Muslim leaders to show solidarity, “urged swift and full implementation of the government’s commitment to bring the perpetrators of the violence and hate speech to justice, to take measures to prevent recurrence, and to enforce non-discriminatory rule of

law”. Violent attacks against Muslims swept the central district of Kand. The violence, triggered by the death of a Sinhalese Buddhist man after being beaten by a group of Muslim men over a traffic dispute, left at least two dead with and mosques, dozens of homes, and businesses torched or destroyed. Several dozen people were wounded in the riots. Authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in an attempt to curtail the violence, but Sri Lankan Muslims told Al Jazeera they were concerned the attacks would continue. Police have arrested the suspected instigators of the riots. President Maithripala Sirisena announced a three-member panel will be appointed to investigate and lifted the curfew. However, soldiers remained in the streets. The violence has raised fears of instability in Sri Lanka, a South Asian island nation still struggling to recover from nearly three decades of ethnic civil war.

court is expected to further delay the long going Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case verdict. The court will next hear the case on April 6. The top court is hearing 13 appeals filed against the 2010 judgment of the Allahabad High Court that that had ruled on a three-way division of the disputed 2.77-acre area at Ayodhya among the parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Lord Ram Lalla. It had dismissed all 32 intervention petitions in the case, including of filmmaker Shyam Benegal, actress Aparna Sen,

social activist Teesta Setalvad and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy. The bench had also directed the registry not to entertain any intervention application in the Ayodhya case. The Babri Masjid, a centuriesold point of tussle between the Hindus and the Muslims, was built by Mughal emperor Babur in Ayodhya in 1528. On December 6, 1992, the mosque was demolished by Hindu Karsevaks, claiming that the Ram temple that originally stood there and had been demolished to construct the mosque.

Supreme Court to decide on Babri Masjid The Supreme court of India will examine whether the mosque is an integral part of Islam or not while adjudicating the Ayodhya Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. A bench, comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer, would also examine whether a five-judge bench is needed to go into the question. However, the top court declined the demand by a senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan that dispute should also be referred to a larger bench. The question posed by the



www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2018

UN blames Facebook for spreading hatred of Rohingya Muslims In Case You Missed It

Facebook has been blamed by UN investigators for playing a leading role in possible genocide in Myanmar by spreading hate speech. Facebook had no immediate comment on the criticism, although in the past the company has said that it was working to remove hate speech in Myanmar and ban the people spreading it. More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh since insurgent attacks sparked a security crackdown last August. Many have provided harrowing testimonies of murders and rapes by Myanmar

security forces. The UN human rights chief said last week he strongly suspected acts of genocide had taken place. Myanmar’s national security adviser demanded “clear evidence”. Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, told reporters that social media had played a “determining role” in Myanmar. “It has … substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public. Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that.

As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media,” he said. The UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said Facebook was a huge part of public, civil and private life, and the government used it to disseminate information to the public. “Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar,” she told reporters, adding that Facebook had helped the impoverished country but had also been used to spread hate speech. “It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities,” she said. “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended.” The most prominent of Myanmar’s hardline nationalist monks, Wirathu, emerged from a one-year preaching ban and said his anti-Muslim rhetoric had nothing to do with violence in Rakhine state. Facebook suspends and sometimes removes anyone that “consistently shares content promoting hate”, the company said last month in response to a question about Wirathu’s account.

Stockholm Mosque vandalized A mosque in Stockholm, Sweden, was vandalized with racist words and symbols, according to mosque officials. In a statement, the mosque management said a big swastika symbol was spray painted at the mosque’s door. The management strongly condemned the incident, saying the mosque had been facing such racist attacks for years, the Daily Sabah

reported. “Our mosque members and our community are extremely disturbed by such attacks. Unfortunately, despite many racist attacks, the government could not do anything against Islamophobia and hate speech,” it said. According to the Swedish state television SVT, 22 racist attacks were registered on the Stockholm mosque in 2017 while another 23 attacks were

registered since the beginning of 2018. Last September, a mosque in the southern Swedish city of Orebro was burned to the ground in an arson attack. In December, an Islamic Cultural Center in the southern city of Saffle was the target of a homemade bomb attack. Sweden is a strong draw for many migrants and about 15 percent of its population was born abroad.

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I April 2018




Mosque finally approved in US city after Muslim group sues


A US city finally gave approval for the construction of a mosque in the state of New Jersey, ending a saga that started last year when the local government rejected the effort and a group of Muslims sued in response. The approval came after the twoyear effort to convert an abandoned warehouse into a mosque and Islamic community center in

Bayonne, a working-class city across the harbor from New York City. According to the lawsuit, the effort for the mosque was met by virulent attacks against the Muslim religion and was then unfairly voted down by the city’s zoning board. “We are very pleased to have received a unanimous approval from the zoning board and look forward to

welcoming Bayonne residents of all faiths to the city’s first mosque,” said Adeel Mangi, a lawyer for the Muslim group, told The Jersey Journal. Attacks against the mosque effort included flyers calling for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses with references to the September 11 attacks, and anti-Muslim graffiti on the walls of the church the Muslim community rented for prayer services. Signs saying “Save Bayonne” and “Stop the mosque” were displayed around the town. At one zoning board hearing, a person argued the mosque should be denied because people would become “radicalized” and kill others, the lawsuit said. Before the zoning board unanimously approved the mosque on Monday, opponents called again for its rejection. “I do not believe our city should bend to the threat of a lawsuit,” said Joseph Basile, a local pastor. City officials noted a lengthy legal battle could have cost Bayonne millions of dollars.

Gaza ‘electronic Quranic centre’ attracts Quran learners from 47 countries Some 1,200 individuals are currently learning the Quran, taking the courses offered by the Gaza “Electronic Quranic Center”. According to Palestine Online website, the center was launched in May 2015 by the Gaza Dar-ol-Quran and Sunnah. Now, people from all over the world, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Germany, the US, and Britain log on to the website of the center to learn the Quran. Mahmoud Shubaki, a senior Palestinian Qari, has been working with the center for a year. He helps the learners, mostly non-Arabs, to correct their recitation and improve their Quranic skills. He says the center aims to teach

the Quran online to those who live outside of Palestine. According to Shubaki, a large number of girls and boys have already completed the courses offered by the center. When one starts learning the Quran with the center, the first thing taught to them is Surah Fateha, the first Surah of the Holy Book, he says, adding that some may even have to spend up to four months to fully learn to recite the Surah correctly. Gaza ‘Electronic Quranic Center’ Attracts Quran Learners from 47 Countries Nonetheless, all the Quran learners are enthusiastic and keep working to improve their Quranic skills, he adds.

Huna Nisar is among the women who learned the Quran with the center and is now a Quran teacher herself. She says the center’s courses include lessons on Quran recitation, Tajweed, Qara’at (recitation styles), etc. She says the number of those willing to take the courses is well beyond the capacity of the center. When it began offering Quranic courses in May 2015, the center had 11 Quran learners, including five from Palestine, four from other Arab countries, and two from the US, she notes. Now it has some 1,200 Quran learners from 47 countries, she goes on to say.

Belgium retakes Saudi-run Mosque over extremism 20I WORLD NEWS

Belgium said it is retaking control of the Grand Mosque of Brussels by breaking Saudi Arabia’s lease of the building due to fears that the center is promoting extremism and segregationist attitudes. “The concession will be terminated immediately... in order to put an end to foreign interference in the way Islam is taught in Belgium,” the Belgian government said in a statement. This is the first official confirmation of the move announced by Brussels following months of behind-thescenes diplomacy to prevent any fall-out with Saudi Arabia, as reported by Reuters back in February. Concerns over the mosque, situated in the vicinity of the

www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2018

European Union’s headquarters, surfaced after Takfiri terrorists, who plotted their attack in the Belgium capital, killed 130 people in Paris in 2015 and 32 others in Brussels in 2016. Brussels said its Friday decision terminated Riyadh’s unusual 99-year rent-free use of the Grand Mosque, Press TV reported. Belgium leased the building to Saudi Arabia in 1969, providing Saudi-backed preachers with access to a growing Muslim immigrant community, mostly from Morocco and Turkey, in exchange for cheaper oil for its industry, according to Reuters. “In this way we are tackling Salafist, violent extremist influences,” Belgium Interior Minister Jan Jambon

tweeted. The mosque has been run by the Mecca-based Muslim World League (MWL), a missionary society largely funded by the Arab kingdom. However, the MWL denies it espouses violence. “From now on, the mosque will have to establish a lasting relation with the Belgian authorities, while respecting the laws and the traditions of our country, which convey a tolerant vision of Islam,” Belgium Justice Minister Koen Geens said. According to officials, Belgium has the highest amount of extremists leaving the country and joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq in proportion to its population.

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Rare Quran manuscripts to be put on display at Islamabad Mosque A hundred rare manuscripts of the Holy Quran have been gifted to Faisal Masjid in Islamabad, Pakistan. The copies, some dating back to the 14th century, are displayed for the public. These sets of Holy Quran copies have been donated by Professor Zahid Butt for Faisal Masjid on the special request of Capital

Development (CDA) Member Administration Yasir Pirzada. The manuscripts of the Holy Quran are unique in nature and some are 200 to 700 years old. Pirzada said that these copies of the Holy Quran would be available for public view. The Faisal Masjid administration has made arrangements to exhibit

these copies. In addition of these rare copies of the Holy Quran, samples of calligraphy would also be placed at the Faisal Masjid for general public, the Express Tribune reported. Pirzada has declared these copies of Holy Quran as the best gift for residents of Islamabad. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Muslim World League to supply Halal meals for Japan


In Case You Missed It

The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, who is also the president of the International Islamic Halal Organization, made an exclusive distribution agreement with Japan. Under the agreement, MWL will be the exclusive provider in Japan, generally, and in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, particularly, of halal-certified meals, the Arab News reported. The signing ceremony was attended by Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, special adviser to the Japanese prime

minister, and Prince Hiroyoshi, the cousin of the Emperor, along with a number of representatives of Islamic centers, Japanese authorities and major companies. The agreement grants MWL the right to regulate, in cooperation with the Japanese government, halal foods and services to the highest standards. It will also certify the products and services in accordance with the halal and hygienic standards before they reach the consumers. MWL will also issue halal certification for products designated to Muslim communities

in Japan or those to be exported abroad, especially to Arab and Muslim countries. Japan is a new but sharply growing halal market as the country’s producers are seeking fresh opportunity in the halal sector and striving to seek new local and international markets, especially now that Japan is the officially designated venue for the 2020 Olympics, attracting Muslim tourists from all around the world. In his address, Al-Issa stressed the importance of this cooperation between MWL and Japan. He hailed the highest levels of coexistence, national integration and harmony pervasive across all religions, sects, and races, away from extremism, as well as the human values and ethics deeply instilled within the Japanese people. Meanwhile, Dr. Noka Miyagima, CEO of the NGOs, regarded the signing of this agreement as a historic and empowering event for Japan. He also expressed thanks and appreciation to the numerous social contributions of MWL, wishing further cooperation in the future through the halal project.

Hindus clash with Muslims in West Bengal

Clashes in India between supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party and those of an opposition party snowballed into Hindu-Muslim rioting, with three people killed and dozens injured over two days of violence, police said. The trouble in the eastern state of West Bengal began with rival processions by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress marking the birth of the Hindu god Rama. Anuj Sharma, a top police official in the state, said officials had held an emergency meeting and security had been increased, with riot police deployed, and about 100 people detained to snuff out the violence. “Large scale arrests are underway,” Sharma told Reuters. The danger of communal

violence is a constant worry in the world’s biggest democracy. Tension between Muslims and Hindus has increased in some places since Modi and his Hindunationalist BJP came to power in 2014. Babul Supriyo, a BJP federal government minister from West Bengal, blamed Muslims for the violence. “Goons from the minority community” had torched shops and “pulled Hindus out from their houses and assaulted/injured them brutally with choppers & swords”, he claimed on Twitter. Police declined to comment on Supriyo’s assertion while a Trinamool Congress leader denounced it as “highly regrettable”. Muslim community leaders were

not available for comment. State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said at least half a dozen senior BJP members had been named in police complaints for causing disharmony between communities and illegally carrying weapons, but the party denied wrongdoing. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who heads the Trinamool Congress and is one of Modi’s biggest critics, ordered strict police action against all troublemakers. Modi’s party has been trying hard to gain ground in West Bengal, one of the few states it has never ruled. The party is in power in 21 of India’s 29 states, propelled by Modi’s popularity as well as by religious polarization in some places.



www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2018

Muslim women lead inclusivity campaign for British basketball

British basketball’s drive towards inclusivity was bolstered by the revival of the British Muslim Women’s Basketball squad. Endorsed by the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, the ‘all-star’ squad will seek to play teams across various UK leagues, acting as role models to inspire Muslim women from all backgrounds to participate in the sport. The idea behind the squad is to bridge the gap between communities

not currently engaged in basketball to higher level mainstream competitions in the sports industry, showcasing how these parties can work together for good. “The MWSF began with the British Muslim women’s teams,” said MWSF chair Rimla Akhtar. “After developing a platform for Muslim women and girls in grassroots sport over the past 12 years, we are now reviving the British teams, beginning with basketball,

as we move to the next stage of our work. “These women will undoubtedly inspire and motivate those from the Muslim community and beyond. “We are extremely excited to launch the British Muslim women’s basketball team later this year and we are proud to be doing so through this close partnership with British Basketball.” Trials will be held by MWSF from which they will be looking to select a squad of ten players. The northern trials will be held at Dinnington High School in Sheffield on Saturday 21 April and the southern on Sunday 29 April at Isaac Newton Academy in Ilford. “We are proud to support the MWSF with this unique initiative,” said Lisa Wainwright, CEO of British Basketball. “Following FIBA’s decision last year to allow religious headgear to be worn during matches this is another positive step in continuing to drive forwards inclusivity in basketball. “We wish the MWSF every success with their upcoming trials and future activity.”

Pakistan’s international ban lifted by FIFA In Case You Missed It

Pakistan’s ban from international soccer has been lifted by FIFA following the end of “undue thirdparty interference” in the country’s football federation (PFF), the world governing body said. The ban, in force since October, had barred Pakistan’s teams, including the senior national side, from playing in international competition while the PFF was denied access to FIFA development

and training programs. FIFA said it lifted the ban after an administrator appointed by the Lahore High Court was directed to hand control back to the PFF. FIFA said the PFF had “successfully taken back control of the PFF offices along with the PFF accounts on March 1” and added that it was still closely following the situation at the federation. According to FIFA records,

Pakistan, 203rd of 211 teams in the world rankings, have not played a full international since a 0-0 draw with Yemen in a World Cup qualifier in March 2015. Pakistan have never qualified for the World Cup. FIFA’s statutes rule that all member federations must be free of any government and judicial interference in their respective countries.

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Afghanistan qualifies for 2019 Cricket World Cup www.pi-media.co.uk


I April 2018

Afghanistan qualified for its second Cricket World Cup after beating Ireland by five wickets in Harare. The Afghans made their Cricket World Cup debut in 2015, and join fellow qualifier the West Indies at the tournament next year in England and Wales. Afghanistan benefited when tournament host Zimbabwe, the favorite with the West Indies to advance, choked when it lost to associate side the United Arab

Emirates. In the decider for the last qualifying berth, Afghanistan restricted fellow new test side Ireland to 209-7 in 50 overs. Legspinner Rashid Khan claimed 3-40 to become the fastest bowler to reach 100 one-day international wickets. In pursuit, Afghanistan opener and man-of-the-match Mohammad Shahzad (54) and Gulbafin Naib (45) made a solid start.

Morocco says it will need to spend almost $16 billion to prepare to host the 2026 World Cup, with every proposed stadium and training ground built from scratch or renovated. With less than few months until the FIFA vote, the north African nation presented details of its proposal to take on the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The North American bid plans to rely on existing infrastructure, including large NFL stadiums

already hosting events. When FIFA insiders score the bids, infrastructure - of which half relates to stadiums - will account for 70 percent of the panel’s mark. The remaining 30 percent is based on projected costs and revenues. A high-risk bid can be disqualified before the FIFA Congress votes on June 13. Morocco says for $3 billion it can build nine stadiums, refurbish five others and build or renovate 130 training grounds. That is part of the $12.6 billion in

Despite a middle-order scare, captain Asghar Stanikzai (39 not out) and Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) guided Afghanistan home on the first ball of the final over. “You can see the jubilation. They deserve it,’ Stanikzai said through an interpreter. Afghanistan was fortunate to make the Super Six round-robin. In the pool stages, it beat only Nepal and lost to Zimbabwe, Scotland, and Hong Kong. But it advanced on net run rate. In the Super Six, an opening three-wicket win over the West Indies brought the Afghans’ campaign on track. The second lifeline was Zimbabwe’s stunning loss to the UAE, which left the winner of the Afghanistan-Ireland game with a clear path to the Cricket World Cup. ‘Not a lot of people believed we could qualify from the first round,’ Stanikzai said. ‘After the support we received back home, social media messages and all, the dream was kept alive. It was not just the dream of us the team, it was the dream of Afghanistan. I can’t even explain the joy. We want to present this gift to everyone back home.’

Morocco bid: $16bn for 2026 World Cup venues, infrastructure

public investment that also requires hospital services being upgraded in 20 cities and transport networks improved for the first 48-team World Cup. The bid says another $3.2 billion of private investment is required to build hotels. Morocco’s bid team told The Associated Press that the projections had been “carefully costed” but could not provide a breakdown on how the figures were reached. www.pi-media.co.uk


www.pi-media.co.uk I April 2018

Afrin: The Kurdish Question in War torn Syria

The situation of Afrin prior to and at the beginning of the uprising The region of Afrin is located in the northwest corner of Syria. To the north and the west, Afrin borders the territory of the Turkish state. The area encompasses the region Çiyayê Kurmanca (in Arabic “Jabal al-Akrad“, in English “The Mountain of the Kurds’’. When the Ottomans incorporated the Kurdish areas after their victory in the Battle of Chaldiran (1514), they preserved Kurdish autonomous political structures as border military forces against the Safavids and Qajars of Iran. Secondly, Sultan Abdul Hamid rearmed Kurdish tribes in what was called the Hamidiye Cavalry for homeland defence against the Russians even after the 1908 Young Turk revolution. Since the foundation of modern Turkey in 1923 with Ataturk as its president, the Turkish Government has insisted that only Turks live in the country. Since then, the most significant non-Turkish minority, the Kurds (14.5 million), have practically had to

make the choice of either renouncing their identity or calling themselves “Mountain Turks’’. In 1946, the Syrian Republic came into existence and this led to not only Kurdish villages, communities, and provinces, but also families and tribes being divided into two along the new border. The Arabization project (“Arab Belt “) of the Syrian Ba’ath regime, which began in 1965, aimed to distort the ethnic demography of the Kurdish areas in favour of the Arabs, and as a result, unemployment and displacement heavily affected Afrin. In the last few decades, many Kurds from Afrin fled to the metropolises of Aleppo and Damascus. Nevertheless, Kurds even today still constitute the majority population of Afrin. With an estimated population of 1 million. Secondly, Kurdish nationalism is a new phenomenon, the majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but other religious groups also exist, such as Shiite Kurds. Tribal and regional differences are equally important, and linguistic diversity often reflects

ethnic and geographic specificities. Therefore, any expectation of uniform Kurdish political behaviour under an imagined Kurdish nationalist myth is potentially misleading. These tensions in a modernizing Middle East led to the emergence of a series of Kurdish guerrilla groups in Iraq, Iran, the spark of the Syrian uprising burst into flame on 14 March 2011 in Daraa, a city in the south of the country. The revolution in Rojava started a year later, when the city of Kobane liberated itself from the Ba’ath regime on 19 July 2012. Two days after Kobane, the people of Afrin expelled the regime from their city and took over the duties of administration and provision. In January 2013, the parties to the conflict declared yet another ceasefire. Both Turkey and the PKK were busy with developments inside Syria and were contemplating a possible alliance. If Ankara had given basic rights to the Kurds and allowed them to participate in the internal Turkish political processes, then Turkey


I April 2018

could have succeeded in creating an alliance with the PKK–PYD in north Syria. when the ISIS attack on Kobani began in September 2014, creating 300,000 refugees and great anxiety among Kurds everywhere including in Turkey, the ambiguous Turkish position came as a shock to many Kurds. Then the situation become critical when a pro-Kurdish party achieved such success. This Kurdish triumph was at the expense of the AKP, which failed to get a parliamentary majority to pass Erdogan’s constitutional reforms. The Kurdish factor in internal Turkish politics was not acceptable to the AKP, nor to the majority of Turkish voters. What kind of a Dangerous Undertaking has been Launched in Afrin The Erdoğan regime has openly announced that the aim of its military aggression against Afrin. On the 3rd of April 2017, the Turkish army and its jihadist allies attacked Rojava with canons and rockets. The cantons of Afrin and Kobanê especially are said to have been the most heavily targeted areas. The YPG and YPJ claim to have retaliated 27 times in response to the Turkish attacks. On the 28th of November 2017, the National Security Council of Turkey convened, with Erdogan as the chairman. Following the session, a military operation against Afrin was hinted at. The statement states that the Turkish armed forces would “successfully continue their observation mission in the de-escalation zone” and that this “mission” was to be pursued in western Aleppo and Afrin as well. Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on the 20th of January 2018 against fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the northwest Syrian area of Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group classed as terrorists in Turkey that has been embroiled in conflict with Turkish armed forces since it launched a separatist insurgency in the 1980’s. The conflict in Afrin according to political analysts is part of a RussianWestern competition with the aim of maintaining good relations with


Turkey. Russia has an interest in prizing Turkey out of the Western bloc, and into the its sphere of influence. The West wants to keep Turkey a member of the NATO family, hence its strategic rapprochement with Russia, which Erdoğan repeatedly references, does not sit well with the United States. The world is silent The European Union (EU) is silent due to the arms deals it has signed with Erdogan, vast investments in Turkey and the refugee deal. And as for Russia, it has already made a secret agreement with Turkey in Syria, also the airspace of Afrin is under the control of Russia and Idlib is under the control of Jihadist groups that are supported by Turkey. Washington also does not want to spoil its already tense relations with Ankara. Most importantly though, Washington wants to see the SDF being taught a lesson for ideological reasons and the United States has seized a unique opportunity to take a stand against the ideology of Rojava. By that, they indirectly give the SDF a message which can be understood as something along the lines of the following: “we appreciate your efforts in the fight against IS; however, there is one thing we hate more than radical Islamism, and it is socialism. So, either abandon your leader and ideology or we “might” forget that we are allies. “Surrendering Afrin to the Syrian regime, that’s impossible,” he said, adding however that the government has yet to give a formal reply. Massoud Akko Kurdish journalist



said, “ there is a word for such a strategy It’s called “terrorism”. Erdogan who is spreading terrorism in the Middle East. The Kurdish conflict is the result of a complex and controversial series of developments, where local political events have been strongly influenced and driven by exogenous factors. Turkey is fighting the Kurdish people and not a particular party. It is a shameless justification for the destruction of Kurdish cities and the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which Erdogan has held more than one agreement and started peace talks with them in previous years. By Miral AlAshry Assistant professor at school of Mass Communication -department of journalism Canadian international college ( CIC) Egypt, Media Advisor at International Federation of African Women & Media Advisor at World Federation of United Nations in Cairo - Egypt . Views expressed in this article or any articles in PI magazine do not represent the view or opinion of PI

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The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context




I April 2018

Part 23

On the first Friday of the siege. Uthman Ibn Affan attempted to stamp his authority upon his subjects and reminded them that he was the caliph and that they had to obey him in all matters. Furthermore, Uthman Ibn Affan stressed the point that he wanted to resolve matters of contention via consultation (shura) and that this was the preferred method of resolving disputes as opposed to the shedding of unnecessary blood. The congregation were reminded that many of the allegations against him and other officials has been found to be unsubstantiated rumours designed to cause turmoil within the Ummah (Muslim community). Uthman Ibn Affan made the point that old foreign adversaries who has been soundly defeated by the Muslims sought to destroy the Islamic state. In the congregation, a number of individuals offered their support to Uthman but fud themselves overpowered by the rebel contingent from Egypt who were in no mood to compromise with Uthman Ibn Affan despite his appeal for calm and dialogue.

The siege that had begun in earnest now took a turn for the worst as the rebels decided to take action against Uthman Ibn Affan before the end of the pilgrimage (Hajj). It has been argued that the rebels made their move during the days of pilgrimage to avoid large number of pilgrims from giving their allegiance to the caliph when gathered in Makkah prior to the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) period. A companion Nayyar bin Ayyad Aslami called upon his colleagues to enter the house of the caliph and assassinate Uthman. When the rebels under the leadership of Nayyar bin Ayyad advanced to rush into the house, Kathir bin Salat Kundi, a supporter of Uthman, shot an arrow which killed Nayyar. The rebels demanded that Kathir bin Salat Kundi should be handed over to them. Uthman Ibn Affan refused to hand over a man who had gallantly defended his leader under difficult circumstances. Uthman had the gates of the house shut. The gate was guarded by Hasan, Hussain, Abdullah bin Az-Zubair, Abdullah ibn Umar, Muhammad ibn Talha and Marwan.

It is at this point that fighting began between the rebels and the supporters of Uthman. Both parties suffered injuries and casualties due to the intense situation that had now developed between the two parties. The rebels push towards the house of the caliph intensified and despite the pressure managed to reach their destination and set fire to the door. Some rebels climbed the houses of the neighbours and then jumped into the house of Uthman. It was July 17, 656 C.E. and Uthman was fasting that day. The previous night he had seen Muhammad in a dream. Muhammad had said,”If you wish help can be sent to you and if you want you can break your fast with us this evening. We will welcome you. Uthman opted for the second. That made Uthman know that it was his last day of life. He was assassinated while reciting the Quran, ‘’So if they believe in the like of that which you believe, then they are rightly guided, but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So, Allah will suffice you against them. And He is the AllHearer, the All-Knower”. (Q2:137).


I April 2018

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PI Magazine April 2018  

Latest issue from PI Magazine April 2018 issue #racism #news #islam #muslim #charity #2018 #muslimbasketball #mosalah #cricket #caliphate #i...

PI Magazine April 2018  

Latest issue from PI Magazine April 2018 issue #racism #news #islam #muslim #charity #2018 #muslimbasketball #mosalah #cricket #caliphate #i...