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Mayor of London Backs NZ Rugby Ace Faith Over Coroner Does Umrah


The Islamic Caliphate


UK Surveillance Ruled Unlawful

Issue: 118

February 2018

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By Dr Abdul B Shaikh Political Analyst

Little to Inspire the Muslim community in Khan’s appointment

Last month, the government announced that Sara Khan of Inspire would be appointed as the first head of a new taskforce called the Commission for Countering Extremism. To all intents and purposes, the announcement made by Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government went down like a lead balloon as far as a crosssection of grassroots Muslim opinion was concerned. A cacophony of objections were lodged by prominent Muslims ranging from politicians such as Baroness Warsi, Naz Shah MP to Muslim organisations such as the MCB against the appointment seen at best a highly divisive move that would do little to repair the fractured relationship between the government and the Muslim community since 9/1 and 7/7. The title of the new organisation namely Commission for Countering Extremism that is going to be tasked with combating the scourge of extremism, terrorism and radicalisation raises more questions than it provides the answers stakeholders seek. One makes this point on the basis that the government has failed for numerous years to provide a legal definition of the term ‘extremism’. The very failure to agree on a common definition of ‘extremism’ has created a dangerous vacuum that has allowed individuals

and organisations associated with the neo-con lobby to set the agenda and disseminate a rather warped and crude view of what extremism actually entails. In fact, the very term ‘extremism’ has been used selectively by elements of the neocon lobby in the UK to smear many Muslim organisations and individuals as dangerous extremists and even in some cases agents of terror. These smear campaigns have done very little to endear the Muslim community into supporting the government’s efforts on combating the scourge of terrorism. Efforts that have been made to address this issue have run in to major difficulties due to objections being lodged by various groups and activists who are involved in lawful campaigns could find themselves being labelled as ‘extremists’. It is essential that if and when future legislation is drawn up that it has fundamental safeguards in place protecting people involved in genuine grassroots activism ranging from human rights to environmental issues so that they are not adversely affected in due course. This now gives rise to calls centring upon the premise that it would have been more productive to have an agreed consensus on the very definition of ‘extremism’ prior to announcing the formation of the Commission for

Countering Extremism’. If we analyse the decision to appoint Sara Khan as the first lead of the CCE, it raises more questions than provides definitive answers about how the new organisation will work with Muslim community in the days, weeks, months and years to come. It is said that Sara Khan has herself asked stakeholders in the Muslim community to give her a chance and has appealed to them to work with her in attempting to deal with the biggest challenges of our time. Only time will tell whether individuals and organisations in the Muslim community will be inclined to take that offer. In our view, Khan will only succeed in her work going forward in addressing the root problems of terrorism and extremism by first of all gaining the very trust and confidence of Muslims who have been alienated largely due to her unconditional support for the much maligned PREVENT strategy in recent years. Khan certainly has her work cut out especially as her past track record of sharing platforms with neo-conservative organisations and views expressed in relation to how Muslims conduct themselves has certainly not endeared her to the rank and file of the Muslim community. Furthermore, the wider Muslim community will require reassurances that Khan genuinely seeks to foster a harmonious relationship with the Muslim community free from confrontation and antagonism. The Muslim community will undoubtedly scrutinise every move Khan makes and quite rightly hold her to account if matters of contention arise connected to issues affecting the future of the Muslim community in the United Kingdom in the years to come. If Khan fails to gain the support, trust and confidence of the Muslim community then her tenure of being the lead for the CCE will be very short-lived indeed.

Email: Editor: info@pi-media.co.uk - www.pi-media.co.uk

UK mass surveillance ruled unlawful www.pi-media.co.uk

I February 2018

Judges at the Court of Appeal have ruled that the Government is breaking the law by collecting the nation’s internet activity and phone records and letting public bodies grant themselves access to these personal details with no suspicion of serious crime and no independent sign-off. The challenge came by MP Tom Watson, represented by Liberty, to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) – a previous law covering state surveillance. DRIPA expired at the end of 2016 – but the Government replicated and vastly expanded the same powers in the Investigatory Powers Act, which started to come into force in 2017. Liberty is challenging this latest law


in a major separate case, to be heard in the High Court later this year. In anticipation of this ruling, the Government has already conceded that the Investigatory Powers Act will need to change. But its halfbaked plans do not even fully comply with past court rulings requiring mandatory safeguards – and they continue to allow public bodies to indiscriminately retain and access personal data, including records of internet use, location tracking using mobile phones and records of who we communicate with and when. Martha Spurrier, Liberty’s Director, said: “Yet again a UK court has ruled the Government’s extreme mass surveillance regime unlawful. This judgment tells ministers in crystal


clear terms that they are breaching the public’s human rights. The latest incarnation of the Snoopers’ Charter, the Investigatory Powers Act, must be changed. “No politician is above the law. When will the Government stop bartering with judges and start drawing up a surveillance law that upholds our democratic freedoms?” Tom Watson MP said: “This legislation was flawed from the start. It was rushed through Parliament just before recess without proper parliamentary scrutiny. “The Government must now bring forward changes to the Investigatory Powers Act to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are innocent victims or witnesses to crime, are protected by a system of independent approval for access to communications data. I’m proud to have played my part in safeguarding citizen’s fundamental rights.” Court of Appeal judges ruled DRIPA breached British people’s rights because, among other things, it did not restrict access to this data, in the context of the investigation and prosecution of crime, to the purpose of fighting serious crime and let police and public bodies authorise their own access, instead of subjecting access requests to prior authorisation by a court or independent body. www.pi-media.co.uk


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Mayor of London backs faith community in coroner dispute 4


Sadiq Khan has backed the Board of Deputies in its clash with a senior coroner over delays in releasing bodies for burial, urging her to show “respect for families and faith communities”. Mary Hassell, the senior coroner for St Pancras Coroner’s Court, has provoked outrage by saying she would not prioritise any death for religious reasons. Ms Hassell’s north London jurisdiction covers Hackney, home to Europe’s biggest Strictly Orthodox community, as well as Camden, Islington and Tower Hamlets, the local authority with the UK’s largest Muslim population. Both Judaism and Islam requires the deceased to be buried as quickly as possible. Marie Van Der Zyl, the Board’s vice president, and Sidney Sinitsky,


a representative of the Adath Yisroel Burial Society (AYBS), held talks with Ms Hassell, which they described as “deeply disappointing”. Although he has no direct influence over coroners, Mr Khan, the Mayor of London, told the Jewish Cronicle he welcomed the Board’s decision to write to David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, who is partially responsible for disciplining and removing coroners from office. Mr Khan said: “If there’s no good reason to delay releasing a body, or if there’s no good reason to conduct an invasive post-mortem, a coroner should respect the wishes of families and communities. “I can’t explain the actions of this particular coroner. Most coroners around London and around the country are very respectful of the

Jewish faith and the Islamic faith. “The Board have done the right thing in writing to the Lord Chancellor – let’s see what he says.” In her letter to Mr Gauke, Ms Van Der Zyl wrote: “Ms Hassell’s insistence on what she terms a ‘cab rank’ rule on a strict first-come, firstserved basis without any discretion, and unwillingness to provide a contact number for burial societies to use out-of-hours services, has created a situation were the Jewish community of Inner North London is being failed by their coroner’s service. “With regret, we must inform you that we cannot see how the situation can be resolved while Ms Hassell is still in post. We therefore request that you relieve her of her duties.” The Muslim Council of Britain shared the concerns raised by the Mayor of London, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews in relation to delays in the release of bodies post mortem. “Many Muslims require the deceased to be buried as soon as is practicable after death, and that any delay can only be on the basis of legitimate post mortem investigations. The Senior Coroner at St Pancras Coroner’s Court, Mary Hassell’s indication that she would not prioritise release on religious grounds would run against the wishes of many Muslim and Jewish families.” www.pi-media.co.uk

H&M recall socks after pattern resembles God name in Arabic Socks with a pattern resembling Gods name in Arabic written in upside-down have been pulled from the shelves at H&M after a string of complaints. The high street clothing giant - which has a store across the UK - recalled the line but said any resemblance was “entirely a coincidence”.

The socks are designed to show a Lego workman holding a jackhammer. But the Swedish fashion chain was only recently criticised for an advert showing a black child in a hoody emblazoned with the words “coolest little monkey in the jungle”. The boy’s mother later said it was a fuss about nothing .

A spokesman said in a statement: “At H&M we always aim to offer products that we believe our customers will appreciate. “The print on this sock represents a Lego figurine, any other meaning is coincidental and we apologise if this motif has offended anyone.” www.pi-media.co.uk


I February 2018


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I February 2018



Lab says ‘it did not authorise’ use of name on Zam Zam Water being sold in UK stores

A company says it did not authorise the use of their name on bottles of Zam Zam water being sold to members of the UK public. Speaking to Asian Image Dr Wyndham Johnstone of LPD Lab Services disputed the use of their name on bottles of Makkah Pure Zam Zam Water. Makkah Pure Zam Zam Water meanwhile told they are now aware of the error and admitted the name LPD Lab Services should not have been written on the bottles. And the error was only on ‘some bottles’. Bottles are being sold in local

cash and carry’s and Asian stores with shopkeepers being shown a certificate of authenticity and sheets from a report which was carried by LPD Lab Services. A report on the water content was carried by LPD Services after a request by AG Wholesale Limited who are said to be suppliers of the water to the UK. Dr Johnstone said, “LPD Lab Services Ltd has not been asked for permission for its name to be used on the label of Makkah Zam Zam water and no permission has been given by LPD Lab Services Ltd for its

name to be used. Makkah Zam Zam Water said they were a social enterprise with offices in Jeddah and the UAE. They said AG Wholesale UK are the sole suppliers of the water in the UK and a laboratory test was conducted ‘before they started supplying to alleviate any concerns people in the UK may have when purchasing’. Something they didn’t think was necessary but did in good faith. A statement from the company read, “There has clearly been a misunderstanding on whether they were able to use LPD Lab services name on the labelling. Dr Wyndham Johnson has made it very clear now that this is not possible and all parties have agreed to respect this decision.” Dr Johnson said the values on the side of bottle did not match their analysis either. He added, “The LPD Lab Services Ltd results do not match the results printed on the label. The Well of Zamzam is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, Saudi Arabia which is said according to Islam, it is a miraculously generated source of water which sprang thousands of years ago. www.pi-media.co.uk

Survivors form anti-terror campaign group Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox has co-founded a new group to lobby the Government on counter-terror policies and improved support for victims. The Survivors Against Terror group is being founded by survivors and bereaved relatives of victims of Islamist bombings, IRA attacks and

far-right extremist murders. The group aims to campaign for more effective policies to combat terror and identify gaps in support for victims and the bereaved, as well as help the public tackle hate speech and the terror threat. Other founders of the organisation includes; Dan Hett and Figen Murray, the brother and

mother of Manchester bombing victim Martyn Hett, Paralympian and 7/7 survivor Martine Wiltshire, Mike Haines, whose brother David was beheaded on camera after being held captive by Islamic State in Syria, and Tunisia resort shooting victim Gina Van Dort. www.pi-media.co.uk





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Brexit bill will leave human rights deficit in UK: Report

The British government’s European Union withdrawal bill will create a human rights deficit in the country, leaving many different groups in society without adequate protection, UK rights organizations have warned. The rights groups, including Equality and Human Right Commission (EHRC) and Amnesty International, issued the warning in a joint letter published in The Observer. The organizations expressed profound concerns that a raft of rights will be discarded with no adequate

replacement once the bill becomes law and the UK leaves the EU. The Brexit bill “will not protect people’s rights in the UK as the government promised,” they say in the letter. “This is in large part because the bill removes the EU charter of fundamental rights from our law.” “The government has promised there will be no rowing back on people’s rights after Brexit. If we lose the charter protections, that promise will be broken. It will cause

legal confusion and there will be gaps in the law,” said David Isaac, the chair of the EHRC, the UK’s own independent human rights watchdog. “While securing trade deals is vital for our economy, equality and human rights are also essential. They must also be the focus for the type of country we want to be after Brexit. Current protections must not be jeopardized,” he added. British Prime Minister Theresa May is currently under pressure to provide a meaningful plan for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, something she has failed to do more than a year after 52 percent of Britons voted in favor of Brexit in a referendum. The House of Commons is set to vote on the Brexit bill amendments on Tuesday. The opposition Labour Party says it will propose retaining the EU rights charter during the debate. Britons remain divided over leaving the EU, with some, including Blair saying the decision should be overturned. A number of lawmakers are arguing for a second public vote on the terms of the Brexit deal.

East London primary school backs down over hijab ban A primary school that controversially banned pupils from wearing hijabs appears to have backed down after the chair of governors announced his resignation following complaints from parents. St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, east London, hit the headlines last month after the Sunday Times reported it had banned Muslim girls under the age of eight from wearing headscarves, to the delight of campaigners who argued it enforces religious

conformity on children. That decision, along with curbs on children fasting on school days during Ramadan, upset many parents, who said they had not been consulted. The school’s chair of governors, Arif Qawi, said he was stepping down, telling colleagues in an email: “I wish the school continued success and am truly sorry that my actions have caused any harm to the reputation of the fantastic school.”

Qawi’s comments regarding “Islamisation” posted on social media attracted sustained criticism, while parents complained that they first heard about the ban through the media rather than the school. The website for St Stephen’s posted a note, headlined as a uniform policy update, that read: “Having spoken to our school community we now have a deeper understanding of the matter and have decided to reverse our position with immediate effect.”




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UK Muslim body to launch new counter-terror initiative

Britain’s Muslims will start a new counter-terrorism initiative under the country’s biggest Muslim umbrella organization, according to a conference in North London. The plans for the new initiative by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was one of the key issues covered in the first “Our Mosques Our Future” conference. The new initiative by the council will be based on conversation with Muslim communities across the country and will be launched in the Spring, according to the MCB Secretary General Harun Khan. Khan told Anadolu Agency their new initiative would be a nationwide listening exercise. “This year, we’ve launched a project, it’s a national listening

exercise and we will be holding in 10 different cities across the UK. “We’ll be holding events listening to communities about the impact of the government’s counterterrorism legislation, including the Prevent…the impact it’s having on our communities, but also taking feedback from them on what is actually working.” Prevent is a government strategy which lays out additional responsibilities for educators in UK schools to report any suspected extremist activities. It says it “aims to stop people [from] becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”. It has been under constant criticism by British Muslims who say it does not work and in most of the cases, people with no extremism links are

questioned by authorities. Khan said they “have a duty as members of the society to keep our country safe as well as the security services; they have to keep us safe, but the way the policies are set out at the moment, it’s not been effective and we’re hearing a lot of that.” “We’ll be holding these events and by early 2019 we will then launch our report based on those findings. What we are looking for really is a community informed and evidence based strategy where its bottom-up, whereas up until now that’s strategy has been all top-down, and especially the Prevent itself is not evidence based and this has been going on for many years now, so we’ve embarked on this project to really inform the debate from a community perspective on where it should be going.” Asif Hussain, one of the key members for the MCB in the new initiative, said the new initiative would not be replacing the government’s Prevent strategy “but what we have been calling for is for the government to meaningfully engage with the communities most affected by the policies, what they haven’t done from the beginning is actually do a meaningful consultation with the Muslim community on what is extremism and what is the definition of extremism. www.pi-media.co.uk

UK urged to ban Muslim Brotherhood A former senior British military commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Barney White-Spunner, called for the British government to declare the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates in the United Kingdom illegal. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, White-Spunner recalled that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had said last month that the time had come to get tough with extremist

organisations. “It is all too clear,” he quoted Johnson as saying, “that Muslim Brotherhood parties are willing to turn a blind eye to terrorism or to condone it.” “The next step,” White-Spunner said, “must now be to follow the Foreign Secretary’s advice and proscribe the Muslim Brotherhood and its UK-based affiliates. There is little point in our Armed Forces

and security services fighting at such cost over the past decades to contain extremism when we permit its embodiment to operate so freely in the UK. “We are prepared to die to defend freedom of speech in this country — but we will die if we confuse that freedom with allowing extremism and hatred to continue unchecked.” www.pi-media.co.uk



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Gaza hospital suspends services due to fuel shortage


In Case You Missed It

A hospital in Gaza stopped services after it ran out of fuel, the health ministry said, in a further example of a severe electricity shortage facing the blockaded Palestinian enclave. He said some 60,000 people are usually served by the hospital, which had been treating dozens of patients in serious condition.

Other hospitals, including the Shifa Hospital which is Gaza’s largest, remain open. Gaza is suffering from crippling energy shortages, with residents receiving only a few hours of power per day. At current electricity rates, the hospital needs 500 litres of fuel a

day to operate a generator and keep services open, Qudra added. The cold weather in Gaza has led to a spike in demand for electricity and fuel used to power generators. The enclave needs 500 megawatts of electricity a day but receives less than half that. Israel has maintained a siege on Gaza for a decade which it says is necessary to limit Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the strip and with which it has fought three wars since 2008. Goods and supplies such as fuel not on Israel’s banned list are allowed to enter through one crossing from Israel into Gaza. The Palestinian Authority, based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, recently agreed to end cuts on electricity payments for Gaza. Egypt has also kept its border with Gaza largely closed in recent years, but has allowed some fuel to be imported. www.pi-media.co.uk

India ends subsidy for Hajj pilgrims

India’s Hindu nationalist government is ending a decades-long policy of offering discounted airfares to Muslims embarking on the hajj pilgrimage, it announced. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party has accused its opponents in the Congress party -- who introduced the hajj assistance scheme in the 1950s -- of trying to woo Muslim voters through handouts. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government wants to assist India’s roughly 175 million Muslims without resorting to political “appeasement” along religious lines. “Development with dignity is what we believe in,” he said in announcing the decision to scrap the travel subsidy.

He said the cash saved from the scheme would be channeled into economic opportunities and education for Muslims, who make up about 14 percent of India’s 1.25 billion people. Every year more than 100,000 pilgrims travel from India to the holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for a spiritual journey that every faithful Muslim strives to make at least once in their lifetime. Critics have long argued that India, a secular country, should not extend handouts to any religious community for their faith-based celebrations. India’s top court in 2012 said the scheme should be phased out, and that it contravened a fundamental tenet of Islam -- that only those who could afford to make the pilgrimage

do so. But the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi spends millions for Hindus undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar and Kumbh Mela, a sacred bathing ritual that draws millions of pilgrims over four weeks. Naqvi said 175,000 Indian Muslims would embark on hajj this year -- a record number - suggesting enthusiasm for the annual pilgrimage would not shrink without the government’s financial assistance. Muslim leaders in India have also urged the government to abolish the travel subsidy, saying state-run carrier Air India was the biggest beneficiary. www.pi-media.co.uk

Contact: Editorial Team on 07506 466385, email: info@pi-media.co.uk




I February 2018

One in four Iraqi children impacted by conflict and poverty

More than four million children have been impacted by extreme violence in Iraq, many robbed of their childhood and forced to fight on the frontlines, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Last year alone, 270 children were killed”, said UNICEF Regional Director Geert Cappelaere following a recent visit. “Some will bear the physical and psychological scars for life due to exposure to unprecedented brutality”, he added, pointing out that over one

million children were forced to leave their homes. Iraq hosts one of UNICEF’s largest operations in the world, responding with humanitarian and development assistance to the needs of the most vulnerable children across the country. Violence is not only killing and maiming children; it is destroying schools, hospitals, homes and roads. It is tearing apart the diverse social fabric and the culture of tolerance that hold communities together.

Islamic dress code should be accommodated in Irish schools A Muslim campaign group says school uniforms should accommodate Islamic dress codes by allowing girls to wear full-length skirts, long-sleeved shirts and headscarves. The Irish Muslim Board has also called for school uniforms which have crucifix symbols or images of saints to be made optional in the interests of creating greater inclusivity. The recommendations are contained in the board’s submission to a Department of Education consultation process over school admission policies. The group, chaired by Dr Ali Selim, was formed in 2016 to

encourage Muslims to become more politically active. While there are two Muslim primary schools in Dublin, the community does not have a secondary school. In its submission, the group says Muslim children can feel alienated at school, particularly in activities that revolve around Christmas such as nativity plays and carol services. It recommends that schools should take greater steps to include Muslims, such as accommodating the “Islamic religiously mandated code of dressing, deemed to be an essential component of their Muslim identity”. www.pi-media.co.uk

“In one of the schools that UNICEF recently rehabilitated in the western parts of Mosul, I joined 12-year-old Noor in class. She told me how her family stayed in the city even during the peak of the fighting. She spoke of her fear when she was taking shelter. She lost three years of schooling and is now working hard to catch up, learning English with other boys and girls”, Mr Cappelaere said. Over a quarter of all children in Iraq live in poverty, with children in southern and rural areas most affected over the past decades. “As Iraq prepares for elections and the International Summit for Iraq, there is no better moment to prioritise the interests of children, stop the violence and break the cycle of poverty and deprivation,” Mr Cappelaere emphasised. UNICEF appealed to authorities in Iraq and the international community to end all forms of violence so children and their families can live in safety and dignity; to continue providing humanitarian and recovery assistance, including to those in camps and informal settlements; and massively step up immediate and long-term investments in education. “The children of Iraq, like all children around, the world have the right to learn and aspire to a better tomorrow. The children of today are tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, engineers and scientists. Investing in them now is an investment in Iraq’s future”, Mr Cappelaere continued.“Member States and the private sector should turn financial pledges into concrete commitments for children. This is fundamental for rebuilding a peaceful and prosperous Iraq away from the vicious cycles of violence and intergenerational poverty”. The International Summit for Iraq, hosted by Kuwait from 12-14 February, offers an opportunity for Iraq and the international community to strengthen commitments to the country’s children – specifically by increasing budgets allocated to supporting children.


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Blow for Afghans as Norwegian parliament rejects asylum proposal

The Norwegian parliament’s decision to reject a proposal to place a temporary halt on returning people to Afghanistan demonstrates a disturbing disregard for the lives of people fleeing war and persecution, Amnesty International said. The parliament also rejected a proposal which would have made it more difficult to send asylum seekers back to the countries they fled from. This proposal would have brought Norwegian law closer in line with international standards. Afghanistan remains extremely dangerous, with civilian casualties reaching record highs in 2017. Less than a month ago, at least 40 people were killed by a bomb in Kabul, in an attack that appeared to deliberately

target students. Charmain Mohamed, Head of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty, said, “This is awful news for Afghans in Norway, and a sad indication that politicians in one of the wealthiest countries in the world have lost their compassion. “Life in Afghanistan is fraught with dangers including bombing, kidnapping, and persecution. It is cruel and immoral to send people there. “Not only is it deeply irresponsible to force people back to danger, it is illegal. With these proposals, Norway had a chance to prove itself as a leader in upholding human rights – it has now thrown away that chance and jeopardised the futures of

hundreds of Afghans.” More than 100,000 people worldwide have signed Amnesty’s petition calling on the Norwegian government to stop returning people to Afghanistan until the country is stable enough to ensure their safety and dignity. The proposal concerning a halt of forcible returns of people to Afghanistan was put forward by the Socialist Left Party, the Green Party and the Red Party, while the proposal on the reasonableness criteria was put forward by the Socialist Left Party. Norway appears to deport more Afghans than almost any other European country – not just in proportion to its population, but in sheer total numbers. According to the Afghan authorities, 32 per cent (97 out of 304 people) of forcible returns from Europe in the first four months of 2017 came from Norway.

Real News pi-media.co.uk

Sacramento Muslims and Latinos join together to promote unity Muslims and Latinos broke bread in Sacramento to promote love and unity in a time where people from both sides feel like targets. “Taco Trucks at Every Mosque” made a stop at the Salam Islamic Center to serve halal tacos in an effort to encourage Muslims and Latinos to embrace their identities. “Justice is not just about us,” said Rita Hamida. “So, when we’re


fighting justice we need to for all of our rights, especially our civil rights. We are fighting hate one halal taco at a time, tacos being the symbol of love and the symbol of service to our community.” The grassroots movement started three years ago to combat antiMuslim and anti-Latino campaign rhetoric, according to founder Rida Hamida. Hundreds joined the

movement. “We’re loving it,” said the movement’s co-founder, Benjamin Vazquez. “Three-hundred plus people tonight are enjoying everybody’s company.” The director of the Islamic center says they welcomed the taco truck to encourage people from other backgrounds to put differences aside and to get to know one another.

Editorial Team on twitter @pimedianews

Australia seeks to become one of world’s top arms 16



Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put forth a controversial plan to boost the military industry and make the country one of the world’s top arms exporters. The new “Defence Export Strategy” details a 10-year plan to guide Australia to become one of the


top 10 global arms exporters. The plan builds upon the country’s defense industry, bringing together all of the levers available to provide endto-end support for military exports. The Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and

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New Zealand have been targeted in the plan as areas where potential customers exist. “It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses,” Turnbull said in support of the controversial plan. “A strong, exporting defense industry in Australia will provide greater certainty of investment, support high-end manufacturing jobs and support the capability of the Australian defense force,” he added. The plan has been anticipated since mid-2017 when Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said he wanted to start selling far more Australian-made weapons overseas. However, the plan has faced strong opposition from peace advocates and human rights defenders. www.pi-media.co.uk

Muslim County in China bans children from religious events A mostly Muslim county in western China has banned children from attending religious events over a winter break, an education bureau said in a notice posted online, as authorities step up control of religious education. School students in Linxia county in Gansu province, home to many members of the Muslim Hui ethnic minority, are prohibited from entering religious buildings over their break, a district education bureau said, according to the notification, Reuters reported. Students must also not read scriptures in classes or in religious buildings, the bureau said, adding that all students and teachers should heed the notice and work to strengthen political ideology and propaganda. A man who answered the

telephone at the Linxia education bureau hung up when asked about the notice. A woman at the district education bureau declined to comment on the document’s authenticity. Xi Wuyi, a Marxist scholar at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Social Scientists and an outspoken critic of rising Islamic influence in China, shared the picture and welcomed the apparent move by the authorities. With the notice, the county was taking concrete action to keep religion and education separate and sticking strictly to education law, she said on the Weibo social media platform. New regulations on religious affairs released in October last year, and due to take effect in February, aim to increase oversight

of religious education, and provide for greater regulation of religious activities. Chinese law officially grants religious freedom for all but regulations on education and protection of minors also say religion cannot be used to hinder state education or to “coerce” children to believe. Authorities in troubled parts of China, such as the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslim minority, ban children from attending religious events. But religious communities elsewhere rarely face blanket restrictions. Islamophobia influence has grown in China in recent years, sparked in part by violence in Xinjiang.


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Parliamentary committee to Investigate Islamophobia in Europe In Case You Missed It

A Turkish parliamentary subcommittee has began to investigate Islamophobic attacks targeting Muslims in Western countries, which will later be compiled in a detailed report. The commission began to work to examine the countries where Islamophobic incidents are most prevalent, beginning with examining incidents in Germany, Austria, France and Belgium. The committee will ask for visits to these countries and meetings with the respective authorities. In the event that the countries grant permission to the committee

members, they will investigate the causes of Islamophobic attacks in these countries. The committee will also conduct interviews with those affected by Islamophobic attacks. The victims of attacks will be asked about how they coped with it and their expectations after the attack. The committee will consult with experts, public institutions, universities and international organizations on the issue until the completion of the report. There were more than 2,800 recorded Islamophobic attacks in Western countries in 2016. In 2017, it is estimated that they

exceeded 3,000. Up to now, 260 anti-Islamic acts have been carried out in Germany. A total of 664 asylum seekers were attacked and more than 60 mosques have been targeted. A recent report by the Ankarabased Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) says there is growing antiMuslim sentiment in Germany in education, media, law and the internet. According to another report by Alexandra Lewicki, an expert in political sociology, anti-Muslim tendencies in Germany have gradually increased since 2015. A variety of minorities have been affected, according to the report, as the number of attacks on Muslims and refugee shelters has quintupled in two years. Far-right extremism has been embodied in Germany after the Alternative for Germany (AfD) received more than 10 percent of the vote on Sept. 24. In Belgium, 60 percent of the population sees Muslims as a threat. Some 71 percent of Muslims think they are seen as terrorists. There have been more than 20 attacks in the country. France is one of the countries where opposition to Muslims is at a high. There have been more than 360 attacks.

Muslims to reach 29.7% of the world’s population by 2050

US-based think tank Pew Research Center (PRC) estimates that Muslims will reach 2.76 billions or 29.7 percent of the world’s population by 2050 - a rise of 1.161 billion. According to a 2015 and 2017 study by PRC, Sub-Saharan Africa will comprise 24.3 percent of Muslims worldwide in 2050, while Asia will host around 52.8 percent - a drop from 61.7 percent in 2010. The Middle East and North Africa will remain steady at 20 percent,

growing by just 0.2 percent from 2010 to 2050. Even though numbers of Islamophobic attacks are occurring at higher rates in the U.S., the community in the U.S. is expected to double from 0.9 percent to 2.1 percent. These figures are attributed to recent migration and demographic patterns. “Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries around

the world,” the 2017 report states. Indonesia currently hosts the largest Muslim community with 209 million people -87.2 percent of the country’s population - which will see a rise of 50 million by the year 2050. Coming in second is India, with roughly 176 million Muslims, or around 14.4 percent of its population. Globally, by 2050, India will take first place with 310 million Muslims. www.pi-media.co.uk



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

US withholds $65M aid to UN relief agency for Palestine refugees

The US will suspend $65 million in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, the State Department announced two weeks after President Donald Trump’s criticism about the funding. “It’s not being canceled. It’s just being held for future consideration,” State Department spokesperson

Heather Nauert told reporters at a press briefing. The US will still transfer $60 million of what was originally a $125 million tranche of funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) while withholding the remaining $65 million, Nauert said,

adding that without the $60 million tranche, the refugee agency was at risk of shuttering. She said additional US funding will depend on “some revisions” being made at the agency, which provides healthcare and social services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. US President Donald Trump previously threatened to cut aid to the Palestinians, including to UNRWA, in response to Palestinian fury over his decision to recognize Quds (Jerusalem) as Israel’s capital. Claiming the decision was not politically motivated or related to Trump’s Quds declaration, Nauert added that it was rooted in concern over how UNRWA is managed and spends the funds. She also said the US expected other countries to “step up to the plate” and provide more funding for the agency. UNRWA has been helping over 5 million Palestinian refugees displaced by the Israeli occupation since 1948.

Lawsuits filed against Belgium halal slaughter ban

The Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions in Belgium has filed a lawsuit against legislation that would see the production of halal and kosher meat banned in two Belgian regions, the Daily Mail reported. The practice of killing animals without first stunning them is due to come into effect in 2019 in the Walloon and Flanders regions, but Muslim and Jewish groups have filed lawsuits against the bans, claiming they violate EU laws guaranteeing freedom of religion, it was reported. In 2017, politicians in the Walloon region were first to pass their law, in May, followed by politicians in Flanders in July — and both now face lawsuits to stop planned changes to

slaughtering practices coming into effect. The Coordinating Council of Islamic Institutions in Belgium is joined by Belgium’s Jewish communities’ representatives — the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress — in filing lawsuits. The European Court of Human Rights has previously described kosher slaughter as “an essential aspect of practice of the Jewish religion,” legal think tank the Lawfare Project said in a statement. Yohan Benizri, the president of the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations, told media: “Legislators

have given Belgian Jews a worrisome political signal, by trumping their right to practice their faith, in violation of the crucial principle of separation of church and state. “That’s very sad, but it is also unlawful. It is a violation of European legal norms, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and we are hopeful it will be overturned as such. If this legislation ever comes into force it would be a dark day for freedom in Belgium.” Animals killed for the production of Muslim halal or Jewish kosher meat are required to be fully conscious at the time at which their throats are slit, in order for the blood to be drained. www.pi-media.co.uk


I February 2018




EU Foreign policy chief backs East Quds as Palestinian capital

The European Union has assured President Mahmoud Abbas that the 28-nation bloc supports Palestinians’ bid to have East Jerusalem al-Quds as capital of their future state. During a meeting with Abbas at the EU headquarters in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini rejected US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, Press TV reported. “I want to reassure President Abbas of the firm commitment of the European Union to the [so-called] two-state solution with Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the shared capital of the two states,” media outlets quoted

Mogherini as saying. Mogherini, in reference to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, also called on those involved in the process to speak and act “wisely,” with a sense of responsibility. Before Abbas’ arrival, she was more outspoken, saying: “Clearly there is a problem with Jerusalem [al-Quds]. That is a very diplomatic euphemism.” Abbas’ presence at the EU headquarters in Brussels was seized on by European officials and foreign ministers as a chance to restate opposition to Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to the

occupied al-Quds. Deputy German Foreign Minister Michael Roth said that Trump’s decision had made talks between Palestinians and Israelis harder. France’s Foreign Minister JeanYves Le Drian also said that Paris wanted to push the European Union to offer closer trade ties through a socalled EU association agreement, an EU treaty covering unfettered access to the bloc’s 500 million consumers, aid and closer political and cultural ties. “We want to say to Mahmoud Abbas that we want to move ... towards an association agreement and to start the process already.” The Palestinian president, for his part, urged EU governments to recognize a state of Palestine immediately. “We are keen on continuing the way of negotiations,” Abbas said, adding, “We are determined to reunite our people and our land.” Palestinians want East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state. At least nine EU governments, including Sweden and Poland, already recognize Palestine. Slovenia has also recently raised the possibility of recognizing the state of Palestine.

Far-Right German politician embraces Islam In Case You Missed It

A local politician from the far-right, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has converted to Islam, media reports said. Arthur Wagner, AfD’s vicepresident in the eastern Havelland district, declined to make a comment on his decision. “It is a private matter,” the 48-year-old politician told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper. The AfD adopted explicitly antiIslamic rhetoric and argued that Germany was under the threat of “Islamization”, especially after nearly

one million refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq, arrived in the country since 2015. Wagner confirmed that he recently resigned from the AfD’s board in the federal state of Brandenburg , but argued it was not because of his religious affiliation, Anadolu Agency reported. “There was no pressure. It has not changed anything,” he told the newspaper. AfD Brandenburg’s spokesman Daniel Friese said Wagner’s religious affiliation was not a problem for the

party. “Religion is a private matter. We support the constitutional right of religious freedom,” he said. AfD’s basic program, which was adopted last year, claimed that “Islam does not belong to Germany”. It argued that increasing the number of Muslims in the country was a danger to Germany’s state, society and values. The AfD has become the thirdlargest party in Germany, after winning 12.6 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections on Sept. 24.


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

Not safe yet for Rohingya Muslims’ return to Myanmar: UNICEF In Case You Missed It

Attacks on Rohingya Muslims appear to be continuing in Myanmar and it is not yet safe for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh to begin returning to their homes, a highranking United Nations official said. Many Rohingya want to return eventually to their villages in Myanmar, said Justin Forsyth, UNICEF deputy executive director, during a visit to the immense

Kutupalong refugee camp, AP reported. But they fear for their safety if they were to go back now. “The situation isn’t safe for the returns to begin,” he said. “I spoke to one young woman, who had been on the phone to her aunt, in Rakhine in Myanmar. And they were attacking villages even today.” More than 680,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state beginning in August, after

Myanmar security forces began attacking their villages in the wake of attacks by militants on police posts. Gradual repatriations of Rohingya were to begin Tuesday, under agreements signed by Myanmar and Bangladesh, but Bangladeshi officials delayed the returns at the last minute, saying more time was needed amid questions about safety and whether the refugees were returning voluntarily. Forsyth noted that international organizations do not have access to many areas affected by the crisis in Myanmar. “As well as security, we need to be able to provide humanitarian support for people when they return. And at the moment those conditions aren’t in place,” he said. Rohingya Muslims have long faced repression in Myanmar. They are widely dismissed as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and denied some of the most basic rights, including the freedom of movement. In 1982, nearly all Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship rights.. www.pi-media.co.uk

Human chain formed around Muslims praying during travel ban protest in NY More than 100 interfaith demonstrators gathered in New York City to mark the one-year anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s first executive order on immigration, which included a ban on travel for residents from several Muslimmajority countries. People gathered in the city’s Washington Square Park to voice their continued disapproval of the president’s order, which sparked nationwide protests, including at New York’s airports and public spaces. After listening to a leader sing out the Islamic call to prayer, interfaith allies linked hands to form a human chain of protection around Muslims

as they knelt down in the public space for prayers. The Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York, told HuffPost she hoped the action provided a feeling of safety and security for the worshippers, many of whom were students from nearby New York University. “It’s practically important and symbolically important to stand with people of different faith traditions,” Breyer said. “It’s what we should do as Americans.” Murad Awawdeh, vice president of advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition, one of the

groups that organized the rally, said that in the months that followed the ban, the Trump administration’s attacks on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and those with temporary protected status betrayed an anti-immigrant agenda. Although he said the initial fervor around protesting the travel ban has died down since last January, Awawdeh hopes Friday’s rally shows that there’s much work left to do. “The Trump administration didn’t just go after the Muslims. They were the first targets,” Awawdeh said. “This is going to continue to be a fight and a struggle.” www.pi-media.co.uk


I February 2018


Islamic scholars urge Muslim countries to sever ties with Israel

Muslim countries were urged to cut off any type of relations with the Zionist regime of Israel, particularly in terms of diplomatic and economic ties, to pressure the country to liberate Palestine and the city of Quds (Jerusalem). It was among the 14 resolutions adopted by over 100 renowned Islamic scholars from 30 countries participating in the World Islamic Scholars Round Table Conference on Quds in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The conference coordinator Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the call was made following the actions of several Arab states that normalized relations with Israel

by recognizing the country’s new embassy. “The road to liberate Al Aqsa Mosque is to sever any political, business, educational ties and so on with the Zionist regime. “If only one country does it, it will not give much impact.” he told a press conference after presenting the resolution. Mohd Khairuddin, who is also the PAS Institute of Strategic Studies director, said the resolutions were submitted to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and they will also be extended to all leaders of Muslim countries for follow-up action. He said the resolutions also

Quran reading app released in Madinah A new Quranic software program titled “Nakhtim” has been released in Arabic for iPhone and Android mobiles in the holy city of Madinah. According to masrawy.com, the app facilitates the reading of Quranic verses for users and helps them to get acquainted with the interpretation of the verses as well. It is also possible to select the verses and listen to the recitation of

the verses by one’s favorite Qari. Quran recitations by such prominent Qaris of the Muslim world as Mustafa Esmail, Minshawi, Husary, Abdul Basit Abdul Samad, and others are available in the app. The user can also keep track of the total number of the verses he has read in a day, week and month. The app can be download from Google Play Store.

emphasized that the issue of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque be included in the subjects taught at schools and at higher levels of education to raise awareness among young Muslims, as the Jewish community have planted the belief that Jerusalem was theirs from the very young age. Meanwhile, Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri said one of the resolutions passed in the conference was to designate 2018 as the year of Jerusalem, to inspire and motivate Muslims to liberate the city. “There are many ways for us to build the unity of the ummah to apply concrete pressure so that Jerusalem will then belong to the Muslims,” he said. Syrian Islamic Council chairman Syeikh Usamah al-Rifa’i said that if all the Islamic scholars and leaders could focus and implement follow-up action based on these resolutions, it would be the first step to liberate the Al Aqsa Mosque from Israeli clutches. The three-day conference, which began on Friday and held in conjunction with the MyAQSA Festival, was jointly organized by the MyAQSA Foundation, the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim), the Palestinian Diaspora Scholars Union and the World Union of Muslim Scholars.

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Sonny Bill Williams performs pilgrimage



Muslim revert Sonny Bill Williams travelled to a historic Islamic mosque in Saudi Arabia and performed his pilgrimage (Umrah) it has been reported. The 32-year-old rugby union star, who converted to Islam in 2009, was led by a Sheikh through Al-Masjid anNabawi, also known as the Mosque of the Prophet. The place of worship, in the city Medina, is one of the holiest sites

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

in Islam and the place of burial for Prophet Muhammad. Footage posted to social media shows Williams being led into an Islamic prayer by Sheikh Kamal Abu Mariam as they stand beside the grave. ‘What an amazing feeling visiting the prophets(as) holy masjid [mosque] in Madinah,’ he later wrote on Instagram. ‘Thanks to the Shiek’s for their

insightful knowledge today,’ he said in another post. According to the video’s caption, Williams will soon perform umrah – a pilgrimage to Mecca which can be undertaken at any time of the year, unlike the Hajj. ‘Dr. Sheikh Kamal Abu Mariam with one of our favourite NRL players Sonny Bill Williams at Masjid AlNabawi and soon to perform umrah,’ the caption reads. ‘May Allah accept from them both… Williams recently reverted to Islam… by the will of Allah.’ The cross-code superstar recently spoke to MailOnline about his faith. ‘I’m a proud Muslim. It’s given me a feeling of happiness and contentment I’ve always looked for. I see it as a responsibility,’ he said. ‘Before I became a Muslim, I lived up in a flash house in Toulon and would worry about where the pair of boots I’d ordered were or some rubbish like that. ‘Then I met a Tunisian family living in a one-bedroom apartment in the projects. They didn’t have much but they always had me round for breakfast and never asked for anything back. ‘They always asked Allah for guidance and it really struck a chord.’

Kuwait chief welcomes FIFA re-entry process The newly-elected head of the Kuwait Football Association has welcomed the appointment of a FIFA “normalisation” committee to oversee the county’s re-entry into the global body - after a 2015 suspension. “Kuwaitis were very happy when the ban was lifted,” said KFA chief Ahmad al-Yousuf al-Sabah on Saturday. “The general assembly (of local clubs) chose us ... but as I’ve previously mentioned, we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for the ban not to be imposed again,” Sabah said

- appearing to raise the possibility of his own resignation if required by the oversight committee. The appointment of the normalisation committee, announced follows the lifting of Kuwait’s suspension for political meddling in the sport on December 5. The committee mandate, according to a FIFA statement, is “to run the KFA’s daily affairs; to review the KFA statutes and ensure their compliance... [and] to organise and conduct elections of a new KFA board of directors on the basis

of the new, revised KFA statutes, which should take place no later than 20 May 2018”. World sports bodies led by FIFA and the International Olympic Committee suspended Kuwait in October 2015 for the second time since 2010 over alleged government meddling in sport. The suspensions meant Kuwait missed out on the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Asian Cup, and before that the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. www.pi-media.co.uk



I February 2018

Spanish clubs sign Saudi players in World Cup boost

Spanish top flight clubs Villarreal, Leganes and Levante all announced loan signings of Saudi Arabia internationals until the end of the season as part of an agreement between La Liga and the Arab state’s authorities. Second-tier sides Sporting Gijon, Numancia, Rayo Vallecano and Real Valladolid also participated in the deal, with a statement from the league’s organising body saying a total of nine players would move to Spain, including two academy players. Saudi Arabia will play the opening game of the 2018 World Cup against

hosts Russia after qualifying for the tournament for the first time since 2006. “The General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Football federation (SAFF) and La Liga, the internationally renowned Spanish football league, today announced key next steps in their partnership to grow the game of football in Saudi Arabia,” said a statement from La Liga. ”First announced in October, the multi-year partnership has multiple elements including an academy partnership and a talent scouting initiative for young footballers in

First Saudi women’s basketball tournament kicks off

Saudi Arabia. ”These loan agreements, for an initial period of six months, allow these players to further develop their skills training and playing in Spain. “The incorporation of players from Saudi Arabia in the Spanish clubs follows a rigorous scouting programme that spanned multiple months to identify the best talent.” Before the loan signings were announced, the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s international players competed in the country’s top flight. Only one player, Mukhtar Ali, plays abroad with Dutch top flight side Vitesse Arnhem. Villarreal, who are fifth in the Liga standings and in the last 32 of the Europa League, brought in midfielder Salem Al Dawsari, while Leganes signed forward Yahia Al-Shehri. Levante signed Fahad Al-Muwallad. “As part of this collaboration, our club in the past few months has worked alongside La Liga in scouting Saudi international footballers and youth prospects to determine the choice of our new signing,” said a statement from Levante. “With the arrival of Fahad AlMuwallad we sign a player that will help gain visibility in the Arab world, where La Liga is the most followed international league.” www.pi-media.co.uk

The first women’s basketball tournament in Riyadh kicked off last month between the Stallions and Riyadh Elite teams. The first match at the Leaders Preparation Institute’s stadium. Eight teams, AlAzem, Al-Tahhadi, Riyadh Eagles, Link, Stallions, Rebels, Riyadh Elite and Titanium, will participate in the tournament which is supported by the Saudi Mass Participation Federation. The tournament will end on March 10. Only women can attend the matches, and they can do so for free.

Last year in November, the first women’s basketball tournament was held in Jeddah at King Abdullah Sports City. Women’s basketball infrastructure lacks the presence of female members at the basketball federation and lack of women referees and trainers. Recently, however, Saudi Arabia has witnessed unprecedented leaps as women were allowed into stadiums while Shura Council female members have been demanding the establishment of women football clubs.

Iran in Crisis?


Protests broke out in Mashhad Iran’s second largest city on the 28th of December 2017 over economic hardship, corruption, and rising food and fuel prices. The initial protests were reportedly sparked by increases of up to 40 percent in staples in a country where the population is approximately 80 million people, and about 3.2 million Iranians are jobless. The protests marked the most intense domestic challenge to the Iranian government since the 12th of June 2009, following the announcement that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won nearly 63% of the vote despite several reported irregularities. However, all three opposition candidates claimed the votes were manipulated and the election was rigged, with Rezaee and Mousavi lodging official complaints. Mousavi announced he “won’t surrender to this manipulation”, before lodging an official appeal against the result to the Guardian Council on 14 June. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered an investigation into the claims of electoral fraud and irregularities, as requested by Green Movement leaders. Iran’s post-election political unrest claimed its first casualty confirmed after shots were fired at supporters of the defeated presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who had defied an official ban on a mass rally in central Tehran. According to the results, more than 500,000 people were involved in the protest against the election “theft”. On the 28th of December 2017, demonstrations spread to more cities in the northeastern cities of Neyshabour Rasht, Qom, Isfahan, Zahedan and Kermanshah. Mashhad Governor Mohammad Norouzian told Iranian media the protest was organized via social media by “counter-revolutionary elements.” Demonstrators also reportedly chanted “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the Dictator.” Police used water cannons to disperse the crowds and 52 people were arrested, according to BBC News. Furthermore, the protestors’ slogans criticized the regime’s foreign policy, including its financial support for allied movements outside Iran. Around 300 people gathered

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

at Freedom Square in the mainly Kurdish city of Kermanshah and chanted “Care for us and leave Palestine.” They also shouted, “Political prisoners should be freed,” “Death or freedom” and “Leave Syria, think about us!” The demonstrations turned violent in the western town of Dorud where two protestors were reportedly killed. Protestors hit government buildings and students at Tehran University and hurled rocks at police, chanting “Death to the dictator.” Iranian authorities blamed counter-revolutionaries and agents of foreign powers for the anti-government demonstrations. More than 200 people were arrested in Tehran and 80 in Arak. Brigadier General Esmail Kowsari said to the Iranian media “If people came into the streets over high prices, they should not have chanted those slogans and burned public property and cars.” and also “We are a free nation, and based on the Constitution and citizenship rights, people are completely free to express their criticism and even their protest,” Rouhani said, “But the procedure of expressing criticism and protest should be in such a way that would lead to the betterment of public life and country’s situation. On the 1st of January 2018, up to 10 people killed overnight during anti-government protests around Iran, and the government shootings were responsible for eight deaths. In the central city of Najafabad, a demonstrator opened fire on police, killing one officer and injuring three others. Demonstrations turned violent elsewhere, as police used tear gas to disperse protesters and more than 450 people had been arrested by the government. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared that the enemies of Iran had stirred unrest in the Islamic Republic and had procured various resources including weapons, politics and intelligence services. On the 3rd January, protests continued across the country, including Tehran and Ahvaz but they had generally died down to a great extent. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces were deployed to Hamadan, Isfahan and Lorestan provinces to deal with the anti-government demonstrations.

IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari claimed that a seditious plot had been foiled. “Our security system’s readiness and people’s vigilance made the enemy taste yet another defeat.” The largest gatherings “were a maximum of 1,500 people in each place, and the number of troublemakers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide,” Jafari added. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Iranians participated in state-sponsored rallies in several cities, including Kermanshah, Ilam, Ahvaz, Gorgan and Qom. Marchers chanted, “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader,” and “We will not leave our leader alone.” Who wants to destroy Iran? United States and Israel have worked in various forms that is part of a wider strategic partnership, with an implied acceptance of American hegemony over the region in the Middle East, The Islamic Republic’s rise in 1979 was during the latter stages of the Cold War and the wider region still to this day is feeling the effects of that period of history. The ever moving tectonic plates in the region post-1979, inevitably include the effective collapse of the traditional Arab Israeli peace process, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US invasion occupation of Iraq , the rise of Hezbollah and Hamas and the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq alHariri, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and subsequent Israeli military campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, the revolution in the Middle East started from Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Libya and structural changes in global energy markets and a tremendous transfer of wealth to major Middle Eastern energy producers. Shifting fortunes of the regional players can be defined against what is increasingly being perceived, in the Middle East and elsewhere, as a decline in America’s relative power and influence. After President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s initial election in 2005, the Islamic Republic was able to take advantage of these developments leading to a significant boost in its own regional standing. But notwithstanding these strategic gains, Iran continues to face serious


I February 2018

national security and foreign policy challenges, both regionally and internationally, because Iran wishes to create a hegemony over the Middle East. Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions There are several key issues. They include energy security (oil) which has been a main focus for the U.S. in the Middle East. The U.S. has also been the policeman looking after Middle East oil production. One of the most important factors has been that the U.S. is looking after the safety and security of Israel from neighboring countries. In 2015, the Iran nuclear deal was a preliminary framework agreement reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a group of world powers: (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China—plus Germany) and the European Union. Iran would redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities and accept the Additional Protocol. In order to lift all nuclear-related economical sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets. In addition to the joint statement, the United States and Iran issued fact sheets of their own Iran plans to destroy Israel. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been committed for the past 36 years to a doctrine aimed at wiping Israel off the map. President Hassan Rouhani has somewhat softened the official stance on Israel and stated that rival factions within the regime, and many outside too, agree that the destruction of the Jewish State constitutes an important tenet of their devotion to Islam, this reflecting a deep ideological conviction in the indispensability of annihilating the “Zionist entity’’ in the words of Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. At the same time, the Iranians present Israel to their audience as an aggressive, agile opponent that benefits from generous Western support. At the very least, the regime is signaling that a military effort would be essential to bring about a collapse in Israel. On the other hand, the speeches focused on much rhetoric is devoted to mobilizing popular support toward achieving this goal. “Death to Israel” is chanted at rallies all across the country, Iran put ways to destroy Israel by the policy has been continuous Iranian support for Palestinian “resistance” movements, the more radical the better. Iran thus presents itself as more dedicated to


this noble Arab cause than the Arabs themselves. Iran’s policy toward Israel transcends regional posturing and rhetorical ritual. Over the years Tehran’s hostile activities support the assessment that Iran is engaged in a sustained campaign to shape the regional landscape for an eventual effort to draw Israel into a doomsday war. This effort started in 1982 with the establishment of Hezbollah and evolved into the creation of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and a military alliance with Hamas. A year ago, Iran formed a new militia in Gaza, “al-Sabeerin” (HSN), and more recently it extended itself through attempts to operate proxy groups in Syria along its borders with both Israel and Jordan. Iran has made sure that missiles provided to its partners in the “Axis of Resistance” can reach every coordinate in Israel, and it has invested lavishly in developing and deploying hundreds of long-range missiles capable of hitting Israel from its own territory. Iran’s role has also been at the centre of Middle Eastern issues. Iran’s new significant role in shaping international politics of the Middle East focused on (Acting as a balancing political force in regional crises such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon; its geopolitical posture in the battle against global terrorism and being situated between, the two major bases of global terrorism i.e. Afghanistan and Iraq; and its influence among the Shiite factions who are currently at the centre of the Middle East’s shifting politics). Iran’s Relations with Iraq Relations with Iraq stared from the first Iran-Iraq war 1980-1988, but the situation has dramatically changed in the post-Saddam era and Iran’s Iraq policy is currently affected through Iranian society. There exists a kind of traditional threat perception regarding Iraq, and the new developments stemming from the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its aftermath have prompted Iran to become motivated to eliminate the traditional Iraqi threat by enhancing firm security and political cooperation with the new government. In this sense, from the standpoint of the Iranian elites, having a politicalstrategic relationship with a Shiite friendly government can help Iran to withdraw from its traditional threat perceptions of Iraq as a strategic military adversary. There are still some new threats which stem from Iraq’s domestic situation and the current power struggle (probable



fragmentation, civil war, factional rivalry, etc.) that could have a profound impact on Iranian foreign policy. Given its relations with the Arab world and other regional players such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with respect to Iraq. Iran-Syrian Relations Firstly, Syria was the only Arab country which sided with Iran in its eight-year war with Iraq and Syria has been a strategic ally with shared common interests. This perception is founded on the recent history of close relations and existing regional realities on the one hand, and the perceived threat stemming from the U.S. presence in the region on the other. Furthermore, the two governments are linked religiously, as the ruling classes of both countries are Shiite and the combined hostility of the supposedly secular leadership of the Sunni Arab countries. In addition, Syria and Iran have common strategic interests in the region, particularly with respect to Hezbollah in Lebanon. We can say the relations between the two nations will stay strong as long as they both believe that firm cooperative efforts can further influence important regional political-strategic issues (such as tensions with Israel and other general national security questions) in a positive way for both countries. To sum up, we can conclude from the article, the nature of Iranian foreign policy towards Iraq and Syria has been pragmatic and in accordance with geopolitical and political-cultural realities of the region especially after the 2003 Iraqi crisis. Furthermore, the Israel and USA efforts should be directed at curtailing Iran’s drive to broaden the “Resistance Wall” around Israel. This requires not only Israeli measures to insulate the West Bank from Iranian penetration and foil attempts to establish a new front on the Golan Heights, but also a determined U.S.-led effort, together with regional allies, to prevent an Iranian victory in Syria and curb Iranian predominance in Iraq. A direct connection exists between the battle for the Levant and the danger of a war between Iran and Israel. But there are anther scenarios about Arab Gulf States are in solidarity with Israel because of common interests. But we have to ask ourselves what about the citizens in the Middle East? What do they want? We need to surely energize the Islamic Republic’s oath to destroy Israel and liberate Palestine and restore stability in the Middle East.



I February 2018

The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context www.pi-media.co.uk

Part 21

Day by day disillusionment grew at the manner in which the Islamic state was being run. Protests had spread from Madinah to Iraq and Egypt. Some of the rebels in Egypt who were dissatisfied with the everyday governance of the province convinced them to travel to Madinah in order to seek assurances from Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan that their concerns would be appropriately dealt with in due course. The delegation from Egypt was satisfied with the mediation which involved representatives of the Muhajirun (emigrants) led by Ali, the delegates of the Ansar (helpers) led by Muhammad ibn Maslamah and Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan’s commitment that all contentious issues would be resolved. From this point onwards, the intensity of the rebellion subsided a great deal to all

intents and purposes. However, as the Egyptian rebel contingent headed back towards Egypt, a courier overtook them and discovered a letter containing instruction allegedly from Caliph Uthman with an official seal stating that once the delegation arrives in Egypt that they should be killed, and those orders were to be executed by the ruling governor. After much investigation, it has been established that the letter was not commissioned and approved by Caliph Uthman, but by his secretary Marwan Ibn Hakam. The contents of the letter enraged the Egyptian rebels and they automatically assumed that Caliph Uthman had engaged in an act of double-dealing in the process. The consequences of the letter were far reaching in that the

Egyptian rebels refused to go back to Egypt and headed towards Madinah and the siege that ultimately would claim the life of Caliph Uthman began in earnest. As the Egyptian rebels came back to Madinah, they demanded answers as to who wrote the letter and that the leaders be summarily punished. Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan denied all knowledge of the letter with Ali Ibn Abi Talib and Muhammad Ibn Maslamah attesting to this declaration. The Egyptian rebels who had felt very aggrieved demanded that Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan abdicate from the seat of caliph to allow for the election of a new successor. It is said that Ali Ibn Ali Talib left the proceedings primarily due to the hold Marwan Ibn Hakam had over the Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan.


I February 2018

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I 27

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PI Magazine Feb 2018  

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