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Humanity at the Crossroads

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By Bella Sankey

Director of Policy @ Liberty

How to exit the EU without leaving behind your human rights

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union wasn’t a vote to abandon our fundamental rights and liberties – but we worry ministers may treat it as such. Many specific rights protections we currently enjoy are guaranteed by our membership of the EU. These rights must be protected when we leave. As the Government embarks on two years of negotiations, Liberty has set out five things ministers must do to secure our rights.

Maintain EU citizens’ rights The legal rights of EU citizens must be protected – they must not be treated as bargaining chips. British citizens should be given equal rights to have family members from abroad join them here.

Independent review of EU rights laws Hundreds of pieces of EU legislation relate to our rights and liberties. The Government must commission an independent review of every rights law introduced by the EU, as well as case law from the EU Court of Justice, to make sure they are directly incorporated into UK law after Brexit.

Tackle hate crime Since the referendum, the UK has seen a sharp rise in hate crime, particularly based on nationality and immigration status. Ministers should immediately commit to overcoming hate crime and make sure it is effectively monitored, investigated and prosecuted. The Government’s hate crime action plan failed to treat hate crime

Protect refugees’ and asylum seekers’ rights The Government should make a firm commitment to maintaining EU law protections for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

against migrants and refugees with the seriousness and concern it requires – this must be changed. Safeguard the Human Rights Act After Brexit, the Human Rights Act will be more important than ever. This Government continues to call for the repeal of the most important rights protections we have. As part of leaving the EU, the Government must commit to safeguarding the Human Rights Act – a crucial tool for holding it to account after Brexit. Negotiating our way out of the EU is an immense task for the Government – but ministers must make safeguarding human rights central to post-Brexit Britain. Liberty is carrying out detailed research into the implications of Brexit for our rights and freedoms – and we’ll be doing everything we can in the months and years ahead to make sure they’re protected.

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Syria: Humanity at the Crossroads

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I January 2017

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Continued from front page

Syria continues to be the millstone around the necks of the international community which sits back watching the carnage unfold destroying a once proud nation in the process. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, 500,000 or more Syrians have been killed with over 4 million displaced and scattered around the globe. This unfolding tragedy played out in front of our very own eyes on the television screens provides us a reminder that humans are their own worst enemy when it comes to dealing with one another on a personal level. A conflict that started as a peaceful protest in search of freedom from the autocratic rule of the Syrian president Bashar AlAssad has now developed into a fully-fledged brutal civil war that has brought out the worst in humanity. We need to ask ourselves that

how have we become passive bystanders immune to mass slaughter and bloodshed? Are we at the stage where vile acts no longer provoke any response? Does the term humanity even exist today when we examine inter-personal relationships with communities and societies around the globe? These are profound questions that humanity needs to address through the process of reflection and at the same time examine our consciences when attempting to understand how we have failed the Syrian people when they need us more than ever. The whole world has failed Syria and let a once proud country die a terrible death. Aleppo was described by some commentators as ‘hell on earth’ where 300,000 innocent civilians were trapped in the Eastern part of the city.

Despite the evacuation of civilians from the city after its fall to the Syrian government, another 4 million tragedies continue to unfold in the country each with its own story of suffering and unimaginable loss. All sides in the conflict need to examine how they have failed the people they claim to defend. It is imperative that the respective parties concerned engage in a positive manner to bring an end to the untold suffering ravaging Syria in 2017 and make it a definitive year for peace. Let us make this year 2017 a time where we can become better people and reduce enmity and hatred for one another. Let us come together and unite in order to create a better world by reducing the suffering that is around us. Let us put humanity back in humanity once again.

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I UK NEWS

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I January 2017

Halal consumption increasingly crucial to UK sheep industry Halal lamb and mutton sales will be increasingly important to the UK sheep market as the country’s Muslim AHDB-beef-lamb population rises. Sheepmeat retail sales have fallen by a third in 10 years according to a report by AHDB Beef & Lamb. Muslims account for more than 20% of UK sheepmeat consumption (24% of lamb and 16% of mutton) despite making up just 4.6% of the population. While the UK population has increased 3% since 2011, conservative estimates indicate the Muslim population has risen 5.6% in the same period to more than three million people, helping to slow the decline in sheepmeat sales.

Muslim Council of Britain calls for political leadership on Islamophobia The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has written to politicial leaders, urging them to stand in solidarity with Muslim communities following recent public attacks targeting Muslims. Writing to the leaders of all national political parties, the letter highlights three recent incidents: In London, a knife-wielding man shouted “I want to kill a Muslim” before stabbing a Muslim in the head, twice in the chest and three times in the back In London, a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf was pushed to the ground and dragged along the pavement in a “sickening” attack. She was left unassisted for almost 20 minutes before being able to dial 999 In Scotland, a mosque in

Cumbernauld was sprayed with racist graffiti. Growing hate crime against Muslims as recorded by national police forces (despite significant under-reporting) goes hand-in-hand with hostility towards Muslims, says the MCB, citing an incident which took place on a train before Christmas when a man refused to sit next to the winner of last year’s Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain, saying “I ain’t sitting near a Muslim”. The letter signed by Harun Khan, the Secretary General of the MCB, said: “Standing up against the spread of hate is not a party-political issue and we are writing to political leaders from all parties requesting they all stand in solidarity with Muslim communities to tackle this scourge

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of Islamophobia that divides our society.” It also covered concerns about the media: “We also hope that newspapers will act responsibly and stop spreading hate with headlines like ‘Here’s what terrorists look like’ and instead report on the fantastic work done by Muslim communities across the country. In recent weeks, many newspapers have been forced to correct a number of articles after being found to be making false claims about Muslims.” It concluded: “Whilst the scale of Islamophobia in the UK has not yet reached that faced within many parts of Europe, we cannot be complacent and hope we can count on your support in retaining the values of our nation that we hold dear.”


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6I UK NEWS

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UK councils abused laws to spy on Brits for 5 years: Report

Councils across the UK have abused a law to carry out an extensive spying program on unsuspecting citizens for a period of five years, a new report shows. According to a mass freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrats party, at least 186 local authorities have used secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives to spy on Britons under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), The Guardian reported. The freedom of information request was sent to 283 local authorities but nearly 100 of them

decided not to reply. The paper said it was in possession of evidence that showed local authorities were given permission to conduct 55,000 days of covert surveillance. The report noted that the councils had launched 2,800 separate surveillance operations, some of them stretching over 90 days each. Midlothian council, for example, used the law to monitor dog barking and Allerdale borough council tried to find out who was feeding pigeons. Lancaster city council, meanwhile, used the act for “targeted dog fouling enforcement” in two hotspots over 11

days in 2012. RIPA’s critics argue that the government has failed to keep its promise on using the spying law only when it is absolutely necessary. “It is absurd that local authorities are using measures primarily intended for combating terrorism for issues as trivial as a dog barking or the sale of theatre tickets. Spying on the public should be a last resort not an everyday tool,” said Brian Paddick, the Lib Dem who represents the party on home affairs. The report comes as the British government is already under fire for its plans to conduct an indiscriminate mass gathering of data on British citizens by introducing a bill called the Investigatory Powers Act (IP Act). Approved by the parliament last month, the law gave far-reaching mass surveillance powers to police and intelligence services. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled last week that the legislation was illegal because it “prescribes general and indiscriminate retention of data.” The ruling means London cannot implement the legislation as long as it remains a member of the European Union (EU).

Scottish mosque defaced with hateful graffiti A mosque in Scotland’s North Lanarkshire council area has been spray painted with racist remarks, marking yet another instance of hate crime against Muslims living in the UK. The Islamic Education Trust mosque, located in the city of Cumbernauld, was defaced with the words “Saracen Go Home” and the term “Deus Vult,” translated from Latin as “God Willing,” British media outlets reported. The terms were originally used by Christian soldiers and writers during the Crusades. However, anti-Islam groups have brought them back to life over the past years. The Scottish police said they were treating the case as a hate

crime. “This matter is being treated as a hate crime. Hate crime remains a priority for Police Scotland and we are working closely with our criminal justice partners to do everything in our power to protect all communities and eradicate all forms of hatred,” a Police Scotland spokesperson said. According to Azhar Din, a trustee of the Islamic Education Trust Cumbernauld, which runs the mosque said police were examining footage from the mosque’s surveillance cameras. “The graffiti has been sprayed on two of the walls. It was discovered when the first people arrived for morning prayers at about half past seven,” he said.

“It has been reported to the police. It is very unusual to have this kind of thing in Cumbernauld and people are very worried by it,” headed. In September, a mosque in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh was damaged in an attempted arson attack. The attack caused no injuries but burned parts of the garden area surrounding the place of worship. According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), hate crime rates in the UK-- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- have surged by 500 percent following the June vote by 52 percent of Britons to leave the European Union (EU). www.pi-media.co.uk


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I January 2017

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Activists resist Tories’ Islamophobic Prevent strategy and racism In Case Y o Missed It u

Some 60 children a week were referred under the Tories’ Islamophobic “Prevent” strategy between March 2015 and March 2016. Of the 7,500 referrals, 3,100 were children under the age of 18 and 610 were under the age of 10. Tony Blair’s New Labour brought in Prevent in 2005. Now the Tories’ Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 forces public sector workers to spy on Muslims for

signs of “radicalisation”. New government figures show the scale of this racist assault. But the state wants to bolster it. On 27 December Simon Cole, chief constable of Leicestershire police, lashed out against “hysterical” criticism of Prevent as a “spy programme”. He claimed it was “absolutely fundamental” to fighting terrorism in Britain. But growing opposition has forced the authorities to try to hide

their blatant Islamophobia. So Cole claimed that the Prevent programme was about “putting an arm around” people at risk of radicalisation. But Prevent has racism and oppression built into it. The figures showed that of the 7,500 people referred under Prevent some 54 percent related to “Islamic extremism”. Anti-racists and Muslims are beginning to join forces to resist Prevent. Around 100 people joined a meeting last month on fighting the scheme in Bethnal Green, east London, organised by detainee rights campaign Cage. Muslim school and college students are at the sharp end of Prevent. Some local authorities and schools take a softer approach to implementing the strategy. But the Tories are determined to enforce it and hope to use schools inspectorate Ofsted to bear down on schools and teachers.

Muslim woman dragged on sidewalk in London

A British Muslim woman has been dragged by her hijab along the sidewalk in what is said to be a “sickening” hate crime. The 27-year-old woman was grabbed from behind and knocked down by two white males in a busy high street last month, police said. The woman just finished a driving lesson in Old Church Road in Chingford and was on her way to a hair salon when the two men attacked her at around 8 am. The attackers wanted to rip her hijab off, witnesses said, noting they dragged her for several meters before fleeing the scene. A waiter, who works at a nearby Turkish restaurant, said he saw the

woman struggling into a chair outside on the restaurant’s terrace. “We thought she was a customer so went out to ask what she would like, but she was shaking and crying she said she was attacked,” he said. “They tried to take off her headscarf and she was dragged down and along the floor. We had to help her to walk to get her inside.” “I’ve never heard of anything like this around here,” he added. “Whoever attacked her might have other connections with other people, we don’t know.” The woman was later treated by paramedics at the restaurant, but was taken to hospital for back injuries.

“She had back surgery last month and was really worried it was damaged again as she couldn’t walk by herself,” said Hussan Bukhari, another witness. A study by the Institute of Race Relations shows there has been a spike in hate crimes following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). According to the study released earlier this month, 134 racist incidents were reported in the month after the Brexit referendum on June 23, when nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU. Muslims were targeted in 30 incidents, making up the largest group of victims, the report showed.


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Ireland’s Muslims more educated than general population In Case You Missed It

Muslims in Ireland are better educated on average than nonMuslims, according to new research. Ireland was one of few exceptions in Europe with Muslims completing an average of 11.8 years of schooling, or a year more than nonMuslims, the Religion and Education Around the World report by the Washington-based Pew Research

Centre found. It attributes the relatively high education levels among Muslims in Ireland, Britain, Lithuania, Slovakia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Hungary to the countries having “immigration policies favorable to highly educated migrants,” The Irish Times reported. Regarding Ireland, the study says

“for example, Ireland’s economic boom of the late 1990s drew highly skilled Pakistani and African migrants and refugees. Partly as a result of this, Muslims in Ireland have an average of 11.8 years of schooling – one more year, on average, than non-Muslims in that country.” It is estimated that Ireland’s Muslim population currently stands at approximatly 70,000, of whom 2,000 are said to be doctors. In other European countries Muslims tended “to have less education, ranging from an average of 10.8 years of schooling in Georgia to a continent-wide low of 5.8 years in Spain,” the study found. The biggest gap, the report says, is in Germany, where Muslims, on average, have 4.2 fewer years of schooling than non-Muslims (9.5 years v 13.7 years, respectively). In France, Muslims had 2.9 fewer years schooling less than nonMuslims while in Spain it was 3.2 years less. Many such European countries, the study found, had “experienced large inflows of Muslim refugees or guest workers in recent decades”.

Britain made situation in Syria worse: Ex-UK ambassador The former UK ambassador to Syria says British policy has worsened the situation in the war-torn country. Britain’s policy on Syria has been “wrong every step of the way” and has led to hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, which could have been foreseen, said Peter Ford, who was the ambassador in Damascus from 2003 to 2006. Speaking on the BBC’s Today program, Ford said the UK had made matters worse by not putting troops on the ground and instead encouraging militants to launch a doomed campaign. Ford criticized the UK Foreign Office for lying that President Bashar

al-Assad’s demise was imminent at the beginning of the conflict and for predicting he would lose power quickly. “Now they are telling us another big lie, that Assad can’t control the rest of the country,” he said. “Well, I’ve got news for them; he is well on the way to doing so.” The former British diplomat said the Foreign Office also claimed the militant groups were dominated by “these so-called moderates, that proved not to be the case.” Syrian government forces regained full control of Aleppo, a key battleground in the conflict between the Syrian army and terrorist groups.

Ford said President Assad should be given “a little credit” for a “relatively peaceful” end to the siege in Aleppo. Since March 2011, the United States and its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been conducting a proxy war against Syria. US officials often describe the militants fighting against the Syrian government and people as “moderate opposition” forces. The years-long conflict has left more than 470,000 Syrians dead and half of the country’s population of about 23 million displaced within or beyond the Arab country’s borders.


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Call for a Muslim school in Scotland

Scotland should establish a state-funded Muslim school to acknowledge the country’s multicultural landscape, according to a new study. A report by academics at the University of Edinburgh says that a significant proportion of children in Scotland are Muslim and a state school for them would show the government’s “commitment to parity”. The study, led by Khadijah Elshayyal, states that Urdu should be taught “more explicitly” in schools as it is the fourth most widely spoken language in Scottish homes. A Muslim school could welcome children from all backgrounds and represent an opportunity for

successful community engagement. The report said there were state-funded Roman Catholic, Episcopalian and Jewish schools but none for Muslims. Given the number of Muslims in parts of Glasgow and Dundee, there was an opportunity for the government to redress the balance by funding one. “If such a school were open to children from all backgrounds, it would serve as an acknowledgment of Scotland’s multifaith and multicultural landscape and could represent an opportunity for successful community engagement with the education system, as well as for inter-faith integration, interaction and learning,” the report stated.

About 2.5 per cent of children aged 5-14 in Scotland are Muslim but in some areas of Glasgow the figure is as high as 48 per cent. Muslims are among the most highly educated in Scotland, with 38 per cent studying to degree level compared with 27 per cent overall. The report comes after the UKgovernment commissioned Casey review found segregation and social exclusion in Britain were at “worrying levels”. Gordon MacRae, the chief executive of Humanist Society Scotland, said that rather than embodying a “single religious character”, state schools should be a “beacon of integration”. “Muslim children are doing well when learning with children of different or no faith,” he said. A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Scotland said: “This is something the government should look at, as faith-based schools are operating across the UK, but it is not something the Muslim Council of Scotland are directly engaged in. It is up to individual communities to decide if it is something they feel would be beneficial.”

EU’s top court rules UK’s mass snooping of Brits illegal The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled as illegal the UK government’s plan to conduct an indiscriminate mass gathering of data on British citizens. “EU law precludes national legislation that prescribes general and indiscriminate retention of data,” the court said in response to London’s appeal to a similar ruling by the ECJ’s Advocate General in July last year. The British parliament approved a controversial bill that gave farreaching mass surveillance powers to police and intelligence services. Dubbed the Investigatory Powers Act (IP Act), the law requires communication firms to record the web browsing history of their customers and keep it for a year. The European top court did

not approve of retaining data from telephone calls and email, arguing that it “is liable to allow very precise conclusions to be drawn concerning the private lives of the persons whose data has been retained.” According to the court, such snooping measures were only justifiable in “fighting serious crime.” The ruling means London cannot implement the legislation as long as it remains a member of the European Union (EU). The case was initially brought to the European Court by MPs David Davis and Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson, after they achieved another victory against the law in the UK High Court. “This ruling shows it’s counterproductive to rush new laws through

Parliament without a proper scrutiny,” Watson said. “At a time when we face a real and ever-present terrorist threat, the security forces may require access to personal information none of us would normally hand over,” he added. “That’s why it’s absolutely vital that proper safeguards are put in place to ensure this power is not abused, as it has been in the recent past. Davis withdrew from the case after Prime Minister Theresa May picked him as the Brexit Secretary, tasking him with taking the UK out of the EU following a June referendum. Ironically, the ECJ’s ruling could prove inconsequential once Davis completes the process, which according to May, may take two years. www.pi-media.co.uk


Xinjiang residents must turn in passports

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All residents in China’s restive region of Xinjiang must hand in their passports to local police stations for “examination and management”, the Global Times newspaper said. “Anyone who needs the passport must apply to the police station,” an anonymous police officer in Aksu prefecture told the paper, adding that the policy had been implemented throughout Xinjiang.

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Many members of the more than 10 million-strong Muslim Uighur minority in the region complain of discrimination -- including denials of passport applications -- as well as controls on their culture and religion. The Global Times article followed numerous reports from cities across the region of tightened passport controls. In mid-October, the public security

I January 2017

bureau of Shihezi city posted a directive on a verified social media account asking residents to hand in their passports to police, stating: “Those who refuse to hand them in will bear the responsibility themselves should there be consequences such as being forbidden to go abroad.” The post was later deleted. Photos of other notices posted on social media showed police stations in various counties and in the regional capital Urumqi requesting citizens hand in passports or stating that new documents would no longer be issued. Angry questions about the new restrictions abounded on Chinese social media. But many independent experts doubt the strength of overseas Uighur groups and their links to global terrorism, with some saying China exaggerates the threat to justify tough security measures in the resource-rich region.

50,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar Some 50,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, the foreign ministry in Dhaka said seeking shelter from a bloody crackdown by the army. Bangladesh has stepped up patrols to try to stem the tide of refugees crossing the border since an eruption of unrest in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine in early October. The foreign ministry summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to express “deep concern at the continued influx” of tens of thousands of members of the stateless ethnic minority into its territory. “(We) mentioned that around

50,000 Myanmar citizens took shelter into Bangladesh since 09 October 2016,” the ministry said in a statement. Rakhine borders Bangladesh and is home to the Rohingya -- a Muslim minority group loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority. Dhaka also demanded early repatriation of all Burmese citizens who have been living in the Muslimmajority nation for years, including some 300,000 Rohingya -- most of them illegally. Many of those interviewed by AFP told horrific stories of gang-rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar security forces.

Myanmar has denied allegations of abuse but has banned foreign journalists and independent investigators from accessing the area. Bangladesh’s government has been under pressure to open its border to the fleeing refugees, in a crisis which has been described as a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. But it has reinforced its border posts and deployed coastguard ships to prevent fresh arrivals. In the past three months, its border guards have prevented hundreds of boats packed with thousands of Rohingya women and children from entering the country.


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I January 2017

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UAE moves up global list for expats who want successful career

The UAE has moved up a global list of the best destinations for expats to enjoy a successful career while Bahrain is also in the world’s top 10 places to move to. The UAE now ranks as the fourth best destination after moving up two places on 2015 in the new data released by HSBC. Bahrain, ranked 10th, fell three places compared to last year’s list, while the ranking was topped by Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. The new data examines the views of people towards their host

countries across eight categories - chances to acquire new skills; worklife balance; work culture; career progression; fulfilling work; benefits packages; and earnings prospects. The UAE improved across all eight indicators in comparison to the views of expats in 2015, indicating the continually improving work environment for people in the country, HSBC said. Among the primary reasons expats highlighted the UAE as one of the top international career destinations was for its earnings

prospects (ranked 3rd), and the benefits packages offered by employers (5th). The former, in particular, is an area that the UAE is consistently recognised for, with average salaries being 14 percent higher than the global average. Nearly two-thirds of expats in the country (65 percent) said that they earn more than in their home country - only Switzerland (75 percent) and Qatar (66 percent) had a higher proportion of people that associated with this view. HSBC added that the Middle East and Africa region led the way for employee benefits with Saudi Arabia (95 percent), Egypt (94 percent), Oman (94 percent), Kenya (93 percent), and the UAE (93 percent) making up the top five countries where the highest proportion of expats say they receive benefits as part of their employment packages. The UAE also ranked among the top ten (8th) in terms of career progression, with over half (54 percent) of expats recognising this to be the case since they moved from their home countries. The HSBC report said that while the UAE was much closer to the global average when it came to work-life balance (24th), it rated highly for work culture (11th).

World Bank approves $1.5 bn in aid for war-torn Iraq The World Bank announced an additional $1.5 billion aid package for Iraq, to help the war-torn country implement reforms, improve public services and boost its economy. The package includes loan guarantees from the UK for about $372 million, and from Canada for about $72 million. “Despite an ongoing war and low

oil prices, Iraq is undertaking bold transformational reforms that will safeguard economic stability and lay the foundations for longer term private sector development and inclusive growth for all Iraqis,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank director for the Middle East. The reforms also will help to expand social safety nets “to reach

the most vulnerable segments of the population,” he said in a statement. With the new package, the World Bank engagement in Iraq rises to nearly $3.4 billion, including support for reconstruction of areas recently recovered by government forces and a transport corridor investment. www.pi-media.co.uk

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European commission allocates €300,000 in aid for Rohingya refugees

More than 30,000 Rohingya Muslims have already fled and thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims are trying to reach Bangladesh amid reports of abuse by the Burmese army. The charges against the Burmese army are very serious – rape, mass slaughter, burning entire villages and loot, all extremely serious human rights violations. However Bangladesh has not labelled the Rohingyas as refugees and the Bangladeshi establishment is drafting policies to stop the Rohingyas from entering their borders. This has given rise to

refugee crisis in Bangladesh. A United Nations official was recently quoted as saying that Myanmar’s western Rakhine (formerly Arakan) State has been witness to Burmese authorities carrying out a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims with military atrocities continuing in the garb of combating militants in the region. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing the country and entering into Bangladesh to save their clan from getting extinct. The European Commission is allocating €300,000 to provide emergency humanitarian assistance

Canadian Muslim community partners in fight against radicalization

A new survey with regard to Canadian attitudes toward the Muslim community shows that a slight majority sees them as partners in the fight against radicalization, and not part of the problem. The survey was conducted by the Angus Reid Institute for Postmedia and the Laurier Institution (think tank) and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. When Canadians were asked how they view the Muslim community and its leaders in light of those tragedies, 58 percent said the community and

leaders were partners in fighting radicalization, while 42 percent felt the community was part of the problem. However, the survey also shows a distinct desire for the Muslim leaders in Canada to do more to denounce acts of terrorism. Two domestic attacks, the Parliament Hill shooting, and a hitand-run vehicle killing of a soldier were identified by police as being motivated by violent political ideology related to extremism. www.pi-media.co.uk

to Rohingya refugees, who have recently fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, according to Eurasia Review. “Most of the Rohingya families who have recently crossed the Naaf River have arrived with nothing, and are therefore in critical need of humanitarian assistance,” said Roman Majcher, Head of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) office in Bangladesh. “The support from the European Commission will not only ensure that their urgent needs are addressed, but will also contribute to help them cope with what they have just gone through by providing them with psychological support.” The EU-funded financial assistance will focus on immediate relief and assistance to Rohingya refugees in terms of food and nutrition support, as well as the provision of non-food relief items such as sleeping kits, hygiene parcels and warm clothes etc. The 1.1 million Rohingyas are viewed as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

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Highest number of Israeli incursions into Al-Aqsa in 2016

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The year 2016 saw the highest number of incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by right-wing Israelis than previous recorded years, according to a statement released Saturday by the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) that manages the holy site. Head of the religious trust’s public relations department, Firas al-Dibs said in the statement that a total

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of 14,806 Israeli settler incursions occurred on the compound in 2016 via the Old City’s Moroccan Gate. Al-Dibs added that the highest number of Israeli settler incursions on the Al-Aqsa compound occurred in October, with 2,856 such visits recorded by the trust, as the month marks several Jewish holidays that typically coincide with Jewish visits to the site, according to Ma’an news

agency. Al-Dibs pointed out that these incursions included assaults on employees of the Islamic Waqf, with Israeli forces routinely banning them from entering the holy site. Hussam Sidr, a guard at Al-Aqsa, was the latest to be banned by Israeli authorities from entering the compound for six months, while another guard, Fadi Bakir, was also detained. Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are also typically implemented at the holy site by Israeli authorities for alleged security purposes, particularly during Jewish holidays. Tensions around Al-Aqsa Mosque were a main contributor to increasing unrest that began in October 2015, after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during the Jewish high holiday season. The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Romania rejects nomination of first female Muslim premier Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis rejected a proposal by the PSD party to name the first female and first Muslim prime minister, sparking outcry in the country already reeling from years of political and economic woes. Iohannis said that he could not endorse the proposal by the Social Democrats to introduce Sevil Shhaideh as prime minister, urging the party to name another candidate, Press TV reported. “I have properly analyzed the arguments for and against and I have decided not to accept this proposal,” Iohannis said in a televised statement, adding, “I call on the PSD coalition to make another proposal.” The president gave no reasons for his rejection, although reports

said the female politician’s alleged support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, could have been an issue. Shhaideh is also married to a Syrian man. He is from Romania’s small and long-established Turkish minority, with many saying that her Muslim faith could not have been a problem for Iohannis. Iohannis had been expected to name the new premier before Christmas, but he delayed the nomination, saying he needed more time for deliberation of “two proposals” for the post. The delay came after the PSD nominated Shhaideh following the party’s victory on December 11 in Romania’s

general elections. The PSD now leads Romania’s new coalition government alongside the smaller Alliance of Liberals and Democrats. Romania’s opposition had challenged Shhaideh’s nomination by saying she would be the effective mouthpiece of the PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea. Dragnea withdrew his bid to become prime minister before Christmas as Romania’s law bars him from office over a two-year suspended sentence he has been given for electoral fraud. The PSD chairman has said, however, that the law could be tweaked, showing that he still hopes to become prime minister. Romania is the second poorest country in the European Union.


New Zealand rises as key exporter of Halal meat 16

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WORLD NEWS

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I January 2017

New Zealand is known for an economy dependent on agriculture, but it is also a leading exporter of halal meat to Muslim countries including Indonesia. However, the growing demand for halal-compliant foods surpasses New Zealand’s supply capability, and the country is looking to partner up with others to promote the business. Most meat processing facilities in New Zealand have already been granted halal certification, an endorsement for food produced and processed in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. Silver Fern Farms, for example, is a meat exporters’ cooperative consisting of some

16,000 producers of beef, mutton and venison, and 14 out of 16 of its domestic facilities have already been certified. Anzco Foods, a subsidiary of Itoham Foods, a Japanese meat producer and processor, has acquired certification for all seven of its processing locations in New Zealand. Once known as Britain’s South Pacific farm, New Zealand lost its key export destination when Britain joined the European Community. In the 1980s, New Zealand increasingly acquired halal certifications in a bid to expand into the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

New Zealand exports about 90% of its agricultural products -- a significant achievement for a country with a population of 4.7 million. Its food self-sufficiency rate is 185%. Japan, another small island nation, only manages 39%. According to Silver Fern Farms, focusing on halal was the rational choice for its entire organization. Currently, the entire production of mutton and beef in New Zealand, as well as 90% of chicken, is halalcertified, said Bruce Baillie, alliance leader for food supply and services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a recent interview with The Nikkei. The foodsupply market specialist participated in a joint meeting of the Japan New Zealand Business Council held in Wellington in late November. Baillie stressed that Japan has the potential to be a major supplier of halal products. Japan, like New Zealand, is a small country and exporting high-value-added added products will be crucial to grow its economy. With halal consumers accounting for a third of the world’s population, Baillie said New Zealand cannot satisfy growing demand. He suggested that New Zealand could provide know-how to Japan.

While many still wonder about the future of the disabled and turn away from their needs, there are some who are working hard to create an inclusive society where those who cannot hear can express themselves just like those who can speak. Given that there aren’t any comprehensive sign language books on Islamic teachings, JS Academy for the Deaf, a project of Noor-e-Ali Trust in Pakistan, has paved the way for others by launching Farhang-eIsharati Islami, an Islamic dictionary in sign language. Laila Dossa, the trust’s chairperson, told the audience at

the launching ceremony that their 12-year journey had started off with just a couple of teachers and now 25 teachers, nine of them deaf, were imparting knowledge to students with special needs. “We have 180 students who are enrolled in classes from kindergarten to BA. We do not differentiate between them on the basis of their financial stature or their age; rather, we try to offer them an affordable fee structure so no child is left behind.” She said the school had produced remarkable results over time and the students were not only taught basic subjects but were also equipped for

the fields of arts, science and culture. Speaking about the book, she said it took them three years to finally come up with a comprehensive text that could cater to those who understand sign language. HM Zaigham, editor of Zaman newspaper, added that the book comprised around 612 words with translations closest to the original meaning. “We made sure to achieve precision in this regard and I want to congratulate the team for doing a marvelous job. We hope to increase the vocabulary to 1,000 words in the next edition to make it all-inclusive.”

Islamic dictionary in sign language launched in Pakistan


UNSC passes resolution to end Israeli settlements

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I January 2017

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution censuring Israel for its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories after the US refused to veto it, reversing its longstanding policy of shielding the Israeli regime from condemnatory resolutions at the world body. The Egyptian-drafted resolution was passed with 14 votes in favour and one abstention. Egypt had withdrawn the measure after the Israeli regime asked US President-elect Donald Trump to pressure the North African country to delay voting on the draft resolution. Israel, wary of indications that the US might veto the resolution,

WORLD NEWS

turned to Trump for support , who has defended Israel against condemnation for the settlement construction, and slammed the Obama administration for the “shameful move” against Tel Aviv. It is the first resolution on Israel and the Palestinians that the 15member bodyhas passed in about eight years. However, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela put forward the draft again, which called on the Zionist regime of Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds. It also said the construction of

Nearly 200 Mosques built in Morocco in 2016

The Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ministry of Morocco said as many as 195 new mosques were built in the north African country in 2016. The ministry in an announcement made on the occasion of Unity Week said the number of mosques constructed in different parts of the country during the current year reached 195, noorpress website reported. They were mostly built by the ministry under a national plan for improving the conditions of places of worship in Morocco, the statement said, adding that some of the

mosques were funded by benevolent donors. According to the plan, a 90million Moroccan dirham fund has also been allocated for maintaining and renovating mosques in the country, it added. Morocco is a country located in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Islam is the largest religion in the country, with more than 99 percent of the population adhering to it. The vast majority of Muslims in Morocco are Sunni belonging to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Israeli settlements has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law,”, Press TV reported The vote possibly marks a shortlived turning point in US policy vis-àvis the Israeli regime. Outgoing US President Barack Obama has said that the Israeli settlements pose an obstacle to the so-called Middle East peace process. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power told the council that the vote reflected the country’s complaints about Israel’s settlement construction. “Our vote today is fully in line with the bipartisan history of how American presidents have approached both the issue and the role of this body,” she said, adding that settlement activity “harms the viability of a negotiated two-state outcome and erodes prospects for peace and stability in the region.”

Prayer room opened in Hanover jail

A prayer room has been launched in the main prison in Hanover, Germany to serve Muslim inmates. According to islamiq.de website, it is the first penitentiary in the West European country where a prayer room has been built for Muslims. The prayer room is 60 square meters in area and can accommodate 50 Muslim worshippers. According to prison officials, the city’s Muslim community has cooperated in opening the facility. A number of Muslim psychiatrists also work in Hanover jail to provide psychiatric services to the inmates who follow Islam. Hanover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Germany is home to about 5 million Muslims, one of the largest Muslim minorities in Europe.


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Kenya wins first Emirates Cricket Board UAE International Women’s tournament

Emirates Cricket Board, ECB, launched the first ever nine-day UAE International Women’s T20 tournament. Seven countries, including the host UAE, took part in the inaugural event with the tournament’s first pool games played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on December 14th.

Kenya came out the winners by defeating UAE in the final with a brilliant all-round show from Mary Wambui. Wambui destroyed UAE hopes of lifting the cup and also their batting line up with a spell of four for 10. She then opened the innings and scored 18 runs taking Kenya to the

Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi joins Barcelona FC in Doha

Prior to Barcelona’s friendly game against Al Ahli there was a touching meeting between Leo Messi and Murtaza Ahmadi, the young Afghan boy who became an internet sensation after being photographed in a homemade replica of Messi’s famous football.

In the video that was released by Barcelona Football Club, the boy shows excitement and enthusiasm to be with his idol. Messi walked out with Ahmadi by his side on the football pitch before the start of the game. www.pi-media.co.uk

brink of victory. She got run out when Kenya needed only 17 more runs. Wambui was adjudged the player of the tournament. UAE had defeated Kenya in the group match but failed to repeat their form in the final. UAE were bowled out for 65 in 17.4 overs due to Wambui’s spell — well supported by her skipper Daisy Wairimu and Sarah Bhakita with two wickets each. UAE skipper Humaira Tasneem, who bagged the best bowler of the tournament, told Gulf News that the experience of reaching a final would take her team a long way. “It was a learning experience. If our batswoman would have put on a few more runs we could have won the event. We hope to play in more tournaments and learn more in the future.” Zayed Abbas, Executive Member of ECB, who presented the prizes in the presence of David East, the chief executive of the ECB and Mazhar Khan, administrator of ECB, announced that this tournament will be an annual event.

Cristiano Ronaldo tweets heartwarming message to Syrian children Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted a heartwarming video message to Syrian children on Friday, calling on them not to ‘lose hope’ and claiming that they are the ‘real heroes.’ The 4-time Ballon d’Or winner said in the video tweeted on his official twitter account “I am a famous player, but you are the real heroes.” This isn’t the first time the former Manchester United winger called for support in the Middle East. In 2012, he donated his golden boot – worth more than $1.5 million – to support children of Gaza.


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Azerbaijan to host Islamic solidarity games 2017 www.pi-media.co.uk

I January 2017

Preparation for the Islamic Solidarity Games to be held in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2017 is carried out in accordance with the plan, the country’s Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said. He made the remarks on Dec. 27 in Baku at the press conference dedicated to the results of 2016.

“There are no delays in the preparatory work, and we will be ready for the Islamic Solidarity Games on time,” he said. “These competitions will be held at a high level.” He noted that the operating company has been fully formed, and all the necessary experts have been

invited. “The preparation process involves about 60 specialists invited from abroad,” said Rahimov. “However, the majority of the experts involved in the process are local.” The minister went on to add that the planning of work in connection with holding of the games has been already completed. “Execution of work has already started,” he noted. “One of the main issues is the erection of fences around transport, sports facilities. The work is also underway regarding the opening and closing ceremonies, cultural programs are being prepared for foreign athletes to familiarize themselves with the culture of Azerbaijan.” Rahimov added that 57 countries have already confirmed their participation in the Games. The 4th Islamic Solidarity Games will be held in Baku May 12-22, 2017.

Greek football club banned from refugee shirt protest

Greek top flight football club Larissa said hat they have been banned from wearing shirts bearing a slogan highlighting Europe’s refugee crisis. Players were planning to have ‘The refugee children are our children’ splashed across the front of their shirts but Greek officials rejected their idea as a “highly political message.” “In order to maintain our dignity and complete independence, we decided not to succumb to petty financial proposals in relation to sponsoring our jerseys,” said a Larissa statement. “Instead, we decided to send a strong message for one of the major social and humanitarian issues of our time, reflecting the phrase ‘The refugee children are our children’.” Larissa is one of many Greek

cities where thousands of refugees arriving from Africa and the Middle

East have been housed during the recent migrant crisis.


The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context

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Part 10

‘If there was to be prophet after me it would have been Umar Ibn alKhattab’ (The Prophet Muhammad PBUH). Umar Ibn al-Khattab graces the annals of Islamic history like none other with the exception of the best of creation the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Umar Ibn al-Khattab hailed from the Adiy clan of the Qur’aysh and was renowned for his wisdom and god-fearing qualities that were to serve him well for the rest of his life. Umar Ibn al-Khattab from a very young age displayed notable qualities, such as compassion, honour, justice and equality. His passion for fairness stems from a famous event that took place when he was on a trading expedition to Byzantium when a trader proposed both parties taking a cut from a financial transaction that would have deprived the other party. Umar Ibn al-Khataab responded angrily and refused to engage in cheating or indeed depriving other parties out of what was due to them. Such was the character of Umar Ibn al-Khattab in that fairness and justice followed where Umar went throughout his life. History reminds us that prior to Umar embracing Islam, he was

one of the fiercest and staunchest opponents of Islam. Umar Ibn al-Khattab was at the forefront supporting the tribal elders of the most powerful tribe of the Arabian Peninsula in attempting to curtail the influence of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his early followers namely the Muslims. It can be said that Umar Ibn alKhattab showed leadership qualities during his formative years and used his infinite wisdom, especially when attempting to rein in the tribal elders who were threatening violence and incitement to murder towards the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Umar Ibn al-Khattab saw that Islam and the call to monotheism (Tawhid) was growing louder day by day in Makkah, but despite this he showed great pragmatism and only made a calculated move if it was required. However, one day, an enraged Umar Ibn al-Khattab in the sixth year of revelation of the Qur’an set out to kill the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as the tide was turning against the Qur’aysh in that Islam threatened to sweep away the power and authority enjoyed by the elders and their forefathers going back several centuries. On his way to confront and kill the Prophet

Muhammad (PBUH), he was informed by a friend that he should focus on what is happening in his own family rather than target others outside it. Unbeknown to Umar Ibn al-Khattab, his sister Fatema and her husband had embraced Islam. Umar Ibn al-Khattab was heavily shaken by this development and confronted his brother in law Khabbab bin Araat and beat him up and struck his sister after she tried to stop him in the process. Fatema bravely told Umar Ibn al-Khattab that he can do as he pleases but they were not for the turning. It is at this point that Umar Ibn al-Khattab wilted and his heart softened as a direct result of the strength of defiance shown by his sister Fatema. Umar asked to see the portion of the Qur’an Fatema was reciting in order to see the words of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Fatema asked her brother to cleanse himself and only then allowed him to recite the Qur’an. The verses of Surah-Ta-Ha (Q20: 1-16) had a profound and overwhelming influence on Umar Ibn al-Khattab so much so that he wanted to see the Prophet Muhammad not to kill him but to embrace Islam.


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I January 2017

VERBAL ABUSE

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