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“Failure of Justice”
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British victims family slams Gujarat riots acquittal verdict
The acquittal of six people in a case related to the killing of three British nationals during the 2002 Gujarat riots was described as a “failure of justice” by the victims’ family. Citing lack of evidence, a special trial court in India acquitted all the six accused of killing three British nationals near Prantij town in Sabarkantha district of west Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. “The tragedy, something that the family has to live with on daily basis, is that the mob responsible for killing their loved ones are still loose on the streets. “The family will not rest until the Indian government fulfils its legal duty and responsibility of bringing the real culprits to justice,” said Suresh Grover, spokesperson for the Dawood Family Justice Campaign set up in the wake of the tragedy. On February 28, 2002, as riots engulfed Gujarat a day after the Godhra trainburning incident, Imran Dawood and his uncles Saeed Dawood, Shakeel Dawood d by Certifie
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Human Rights Group
Jihadi John: ‘Radicalised’ by Britain
Since 2001, the British authorities have systematically shifted the spotlight away from its foreign policy and its security agencies by placing blame for violence at home and abroad solely on Muslims. British security services have systematically engaged in the harassment of young Muslims, rendering their lives impossible and leaving them with no legal avenue to redress their situation. A Washington Post correspondent contacted CAGE regarding a story she was working on. CAGE Research Director, Asim Qureshi met with the journalist, where she inquired about the name Mohammed Emwazi. Qureshi went away with that information and checked CAGE’s files, revealing that Emwazi was a case that he had worked on due to security service harassment. The following day, the journalist revealed to Qureshi that she knew from her own sources, that the man known as Jihadi John was Mohammed Emwazi. The journalist showed Qureshi a video of Jihadi John in order to identify him. Qureshi clarified that while there were some striking similarities, that due to the hood, there was no way he could be 100% certain.
In 2010 Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton who, according to reports in the Washington Post, has been identified as ‘Jihadi John’, had been planning a trip back to the country of his birth, Kuwait. What ensued, was two years of communications with CAGE, highlighting interference by the UK security agencies as he sought to find redress within the system. He told CAGE at the time: “I never got onto the flight, what was the point, I said to myself; I’ll just get rejected. I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started. But now I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and my country, Kuwait.” Mr Emwazi went on to say: “I have been trying to find out the reason for my refused Visa issue from my home country Kuwait, and a way to solve the issue. So through my friends in Kuwait, it has been said to me that Kuwait has no problem with me entering, and the reason for my refusal is simply because the UK agents have told them to not let me in!!” Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE, said: “Like Michael
Adebolajo, suffocating domestic policies aimed at turning a person into an informant but which prevent a person from fulfilling their basic life needs would have left a lasting impression on Emwazi. He desperately wanted to use the system to change his situation, but the system ultimately rejected him.” The culture of abuse now runs so deep in the UK that there are virtually entire communities which, due to security services acting outside of the rule of law, no longer have access to due process. Individuals are prevented from travelling, placed under house arrest and in the worst cases tortured, rendered or killed, seemingly on the whim of security agents. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has also multiplied its military intervention in Muslim countries, only leading to more resentment and calls by fighting groups for retaliation. Groups such as IS did not express the will to strike British interests before the coalition’s bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. Asim Qureshi continued: “We now have evidence that there are several young Britons whose lives were not only ruined by security agencies, but who became disenfranchised and turned to violence because of British counter-terrorism policies coupled with long standing grievances over Western foreign policy. “This case should trigger thinking about British domestic and foreign policy. What risk assessments, if any, have been made about British counter-terrorism policy and the key part it plays in radicalising individuals? How have the security services been allowed to get away with abusing British citizens without redress? Why are the longstanding grievances over Western interventions in the Muslim world been ignored? “All parties genuinely interested in achieving peace and safety ought to realise that revising British foreign and domestic policy is the only way forward. Acting otherwise would be irresponsible.”
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I March 2015
British victims’ family slams Gujarat riots acquittal verdict www.pi-media.co.uk
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and Mohammad Aswat were attacked by a mob on the highway near Prantij. Saeed, Shakeel, Mohammad Aswat and their car driver Yusuf Piraghar, a local were burnt alive while Imran managed to save himself. The deaths of the British nationals
had prompted the UK government to take a policy decision not to have active engagement with Gujarat government. Britain resumed the engagement only in October 2012. The forum also hit out at India for failing to “hold rule of law” and taking
long duration to deliver legal verdicts. “How can a country continue to claim that it promotes rule of law when it can take 13 years to deliver a verdict in a case that should have been completed within 12 months, and, as importantly, fail to deliver justice for victims?” a statement said. It also criticised Gujarat’s police authority for their inability to “identify, interview and support crucial witnesses” in the wake of the incident. “Unfortunately and sadly the verdict does not come as a surprise. It is an established fact that the Gujarat police failed to investigate the murders properly and thoroughly. “This negligence was especially noticeable in two key aspects of the investigation: the police’s unwillingness to identify, interview and support crucial witnesses and their apparent inability to collect forensic evidence,”.
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
I March 2015
Half of British Muslims ‘discriminated against’ Poll Thousands protest against march of UK branch of German anti-Islam PEGIDA
Half of British Muslims say they discriminated against in the United Kingdom as it has become less tolerant towards Muslims, according to an opinion poll. While almost all Muslims in Britain -- 95 percent -- said they felt a loyalty to the country, 46 percent said prejudice against Islam made it difficult to be a Muslim in Britain, according to the ComRes polling and research consultancy published. Just six percent of 1,000 British Muslims polled by telephone from January 26 to February 20 said they felt disloyal towards the country, in a survey conducted after two attacks in Paris left 17 people dead in January. In reference to the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the French capital on Jan. 7, about two-thirds, or 68 percent, said acts of violence against those who published images of Prophet Muhammad could never be justified
while nearly a quarter, 24 percent, disagreed. Although 27 percent said they had some sympathy for the motives of those behind the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices, a total of 93 percent said they believed Muslims in Britain should always obey British laws. Eleven percent of British Muslims said they felt sympathetic towards people who wanted to fight against western interests, while 85 percent said they did not. Nearly half -- 49 percent -said they believed Muslim clerics preaching that violence against the West could be justified were out of touch with mainstream Muslim opinion, while 45 percent disagreed. It is estimated that there are more than 2.8 million Muslims in Great Britain -- about 4.4 percent of the population. www.pi-media.co.uk
Around 2,000 people protested in Newcastle, against a march held by the British branch of Germany’s anti-Islam group PEGIDA which drew up to 400 people. Northumbria police, which kept the two protests apart, said five people were arrested for alleged offences from assault to being drunk and disorderly, but that largely both demonstrations passed without any problems. The German organisation ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’ (PEGIDA), has for months been saying that Germany were to held marches. It has tried to spread to other cities and countries with limited success. Although in Britain the local branch has had little exposure in the national media. Fears that anti-Islam sentiment is growing in Britain have intensified. Some Islamic groups have criticised the British authorities’ response to the threat from militants, saying it has demonised Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims.
I March 2015
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LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
British MPs question legality of drone strikes in Iraq & Syria
A report published by the UK Parliament’s Defence Committee has questioned the legality of ‘targeted killings’ – carried out by drones and Special Forces – in Iraq and Syria. The Committee’s report on The situation in Iraq and Syria refers to the use of “Special Forces operations and remotely piloted air systems [drones] to kill or capture High Value targets,” and raises questions over whether “such operations…are in accordance
with the law.” It also asks whether such operations could potentially undermine political strategy in the area. The MPs also argue that “it is unacceptable for the United Kingdom simply to ‘sign-up’ to providing military support for a campaign plan entirely developed and owned by another coalition partner—in this case, apparently, the United States— without having any independent assessment or analysis of the
assumptions, detail and viability of that campaign plan.” Commenting on the report, Cori Crider, a director at legal charity Reprieve said: “The Committee is right to question the legality of Britain following the US’ lead on operations in Syria. The UK must think twice before it mires itself in yet another American misadventure in the Middle East, especially as US officials show every sign of repeating all the blunders of the recent ‘war on terror’. “Many in the US Government tout the ‘Yemen model’ as their plan for Syria. Yet in Yemen, intelligence failures and a short-sighted focus on targeted drone killings terrorised communities, destroyed innocent lives, and drove thousands of disaffected people into the arms of an insurgency. Yemen’s government has collapsed. It’s now crystal clear that the so-called ‘model’ was an abject failure. What makes anyone think taking the same approach in Syria will prove any better?”
Charity Commission calls for larger charities to complete fraud assessment questionnaire
The Charity Commission is urging larger charities to complete a free questionnaire designed to test how resilient they are against fraud and provide an estimate for how much it is costing the charity. The Self-Assessment Fraud Resilience Tool was designed by the accounting firm PKF Littlejohn and based on databases managed by it and the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth. It is an online tool that includes 29 questions designed to establish how well a charity understands the nature and cost of fraud, whether it has an effective counter-fraud strategy and the extent to which fraud is managed in the organisation. The commission has sent details
about the tool to the about 6,700 charities on its register that have annual incomes of more than £1m and hopes they will all complete it by the end of March. Organisations that complete the self-assessment will receive results that include a “fraud resilience” score out of 50, an estimate of how much they lose to fraud each year and an indication of how well the organisation compares with other charities. The commission said it would have no access to individual responses but would receive an overview of the results, which it said it would use to identify areas of weakness and improve its guidance. Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the Charity
Commission, said: “The public, grant funders and commissioners expect charities to be rigorous in their protection of charity assets – using this tool is one way for trustees to demonstrate that they take the risks seriously. “It is important that we gain a better understanding of the nature and extent of fraud in the charity sector, so I hope that as many larger charities as possible complete the self-assessment before the end of March. She said the tool was designed for larger organisations, but the regulator was working with developers to come up with a system that would suit smaller charities. www.pi-media.co.uk
I March 2015
Controversial ‘anti-terror’ bill gets royal assent in UK www.pi-media.co.uk
I March 2015
Britain’s controversial CounterTerrorism and Security Bill has received royal assent. The signing by Queen Elizabeth II of the bill -- which has been widely attacked by civil rights groups, experts and academics -- means the bill comes into force almost immediately. The legislation grants more powers to British intelligence and security agencies and places obligations on universities, schools, prisons and local councils to take measures to “prevent people being drawn into terrorism.” The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures also allow U.K. authorities to temporarily cancel the passports of suspects at the border Data on maritime and rail passengers will also be screened
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and shared with other “partner” states under the measures. Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled the bill in the Parliament last November, saying it was aimed at preventing the return to the UK of British citizens suspected of being involved in “terrorist activities” abroad. In text presented as a “news story” on a U.K. government website, Home Office officials wrote: “Tough new powers to seize passports at the border from those suspected of travelling to Syria or Iraq will come into force within 24 hours, as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill received Royal Assent. “The measure will bolster existing passport removal powers and allow police to temporarily disrupt individuals of concern who are attempting to leave the UK while
further investigations are carried out.” “The Home Secretary will also have the power to relocate those subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures and require them to attend meetings with probation staff and others as part of their ongoing case management,” it added. But the measures have met a storm of protest. In an open letter published by The Guardian on Feb. 2, more than 500 university professors urged the Home Secretary Theresa May to “urgently rethink her proposals” to curb campus “extremists” saying it placed “an unlawful and unenforceable duty on educational institutions and staff.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron also announced an additional £130 million ($200 million) of funding to “strengthen counterterrorism capabilities.” The moves comes after The Guardian reported a 1,500-strong force formed from British army units, based in Hermitage, Berkshire, would be launched in April, tasked with attempting to control narrative in online, social and other media platforms. The move has been seen as an attempt by the British government to copy heavy psychological operations currently in use by the Israeli and U.S. military.
14 London Mosques Raise £17,000 Kids Charity Fourteen East End mosques in Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest in London have joined forces to raise an incredible £17,000 for local children’s charity Richard House Children’s Hospice. The fundraising campaign took place in participating mosques on one of the busiest Friday prayers of the year. Mr Abdullah Dalal spokesperson for the fourteen mosques said:
“The Muslim community in East London has contributed to many charitable projects nationally and internationally. We decided to come together and raise money for a local charity, and selected Richard House due to its amazing work with children and young adults, and with its 15thyear anniversary being celebrated in 2015.” So far an astounding £17,000
has been raised, with money still coming in. Mary Meekings, Head of Community and Events at Richard House, said: “We are very grateful to everyone who donated money during Friday prayers. The fundraising total is incredibly generous and will make a huge difference to the families who use our services at Richard House.” www.pi-media.co.uk
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I March 2015
MPs’ torture statement based on ‘limited’ evidence
A statement published by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) on whether the UK requested redactions from the Senate torture report has admitted that it was only able to consider “limited” evidence. The ISC was considering whether the UK requested redactions in order to cover-up evidence that it had been involved in CIA rendition and torture operations. Although the Committee claims that those
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allegations are “unfounded,” it admits that it has in fact not seen many of the “specific redactions proposed.” This is because – as the ISC says – the redactions were proposed by the CIA in consultation with the UK agencies, rather than directly by the UK agencies themselves. The ISC says it has only been able to consider UK Agencies “internal file notes, but not the specific redactions proposed by the CIA” which “related to UK
intelligence material” and “which the UK Agencies agreed.” The Committee says it has questioned the UK Agency heads, but makes no reference to any verbal requests which may or may not have been made by the UK for redactions from the report. The ISC also emphasises that the statement has “no bearing on the more critical question of any complicity by the UK security and intelligence Agencies in the mistreatment of detainees.” Commenting, Donald Campbell from legal charity Reprieve said: “This statement raises more questions than it answers. The ISC clearly states that its conclusions are based only on ‘limited’ evidence. It appears that it has not even been able to see the bulk of the redactions proposed by the CIA in consultation with the UK. The ISC has had the wool pulled over its eyes in the past, and sadly it is hard to be sure this has not happened again.”
Protests against BBC lack of coverage Muslim hate crime
Scores of demonstrators have protested in front of the London headquarters of the British state broadcaster the BBC over its lack of coverage of the murders of three young Muslims in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The protest came after the three were shot dead in a residential complex in Chapel Hill. Protest organizer Sabby Dhalu criticized the BBC for its coverage, saying: “Muslims are being pictured always as assailants and not as the victims of terror.” The crowd chanted: “Stop showing all Muslims as terrorist” and “No Islamophobia”. An official from London-based group Unite Against Fascism, members of which also attended
the protest, said: “We have to be in solidarity with Muslim society.” Dhalu said the crime should be considered a hate-crime. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of murder over the killings, which happened close to the University of North Carolina campus. Dhalu said mainstream media in the west had widely covered the attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris in January in which 17 people died, pointing out: “Muslim lives are also important.” The BBC came under fierce criticism last year over its coverage of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza under “Operation Protective Edge” last July. Protests were held in London,
Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow with demonstrators accusing the UK state broadcaster of being biased in favor of Israel in its coverage of the conflict. An open letter to the management of the BBC was signed by 45,000 people including veteran journalist John Pilger, civil rights campaigner and intellectual Noam Chomsky and documentary maker and social commentator Ken Loach “reminding” the BBC that “Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege and Israel is bombing a refugee population”. The BBC defended its coverage as “balanced and impartial”. Israel pounded the Gaza Strip for almost a month from July 7, killing at least 1,904 Palestinians and injuring 9,817 others.
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UK embassy to probe Omani girls’ detention at Stansted airport in Britain
Officials at the British embassy in Oman have pledged to investigate the reported detention and deportation of four Omani girls in the UK, as the parent of one of the girls plans to approach mission offices in the UK and the Sultanate to get his daughter’s name cleared from any black list as she is innocent. “We are aware of the incident through newspaper and social networking sites. We are in touch with the UK office and are awaiting their response,” an official told Al Shabiba, the sister publication of Times of Oman.
Four Omani girls were allegedly handcuffed and deported by the UK immigration officials for arriving late at Stansted airport in Britain from The Netherlands on February 13 on a different flight after missing their scheduled flight. The UK embassy in Oman tweeted on its official Twitter account, that it was concerned about the incident and was investigating the case. “We are investigating. Omanis are welcome to the UK,” the tweet said. Meanwhile, talking to Times of Oman, the parent of one of the girls,
who was allegedly deported by the UK officials, said he was planning to approach mission offices in the UK and Oman to get their daughter’s name cleared from the list as she is innocent. “We want to know exactly what happened at the UK airport. If the girls’ visa papers were not clear, how could the Holland airport allow them to board a flight? Still now, we are confused. We are totally upset the way our children were treated at UK airport. They were detained, fingerprinted, photographed and were deported. We want first them to be proved innocent,” Naila Hamdoon, mother of Adhraa, told Times of Oman. “I talked to my daughter today. She is fine now. While they were at the airport, their phones were seized and so we were not able to get in touch with them. We came to know about the entire episode after they arrived in Holland,” Naila added. Adhraa is doing a course in software technology for the last four years in Holland and was on a vacation with her friends to the UK. Reportedly, the girls were not allowed to contact the Oman embassy in London despite repeated requests.
European Muslim bodies slam Austria’s ‘Islam law’
Muslim organizations in Europe have strongly criticized a recently approved controversial bill that redefines the status of Muslims in Austria. The Austrian parliament voted by majority to approve a bill which aims to revise a historic law on the status of Muslims in Austria. Humeyra Filiz, coordinator of the Strasbourg-based European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion, said that the new legislation was a part of an “Europeanization approach” that in practice would allegedly exclude Muslims from all areas of societies and socio-political arena.
The approved legislation contains provisions that will benefit the roughly 500,000 Muslims living in Austria, including the right for Muslims to take time off during Friday prayers and to go on holidays during certain religious festivals. In addition, schools and other public institutions, including hospitals, the army and prisons will have to offer halal food in line with Muslim dietary requirements. Islam has been an official religion in Austria since 1912. The Islam law, known as “Islam Gesetz,” was
introduced by Austria’s last emperor, Franz Josef, after the AustroHungarian Empire annexed BosniaHerzegovina.
French People Say Islamophobia on Rise www.pi-media.co.uk
I March 2015
leaders from Muslim countries and organizations have joined worldwide condemnation of the attack, saying the attackers should not be associated with Islam. Yet, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia said over hundreds of incidents have been reported to the police since then. The rise in attacks in recent weeks represents an increase of 110 percent over the same period in 2014.
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A poll conducted by Odoxa institute shows that 77 percent of the French feel Islamophobia has been on the rise in the country. The poll also shows a feeling of increasing anti-Jewish sentiments in France.
Islamophobia attacks have considerably increased in France since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January that left 17 people killed, including two Muslims. Seeing the Charlie Hebdo attack as a betrayal of Islamic faith,
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Emirates hires banks for UK guaranteed sukuk of up to $1bn Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, has hired banks to help it arrange a sukuk or Islamic bond of up to $1 billion, five sources familiar with the matter said, as the airline seeks to raise cash to finance its pipeline of aircraft orders. The issue will be backed by UK Export Finance (UKEF), the sources said, the first time Britain’s export credit agency has guaranteed an Islamic bond issue. Spokeswomen for Emirates and UK Export Finance declined comment. Export credit agencies aim to provide funding to companies outside their countries, on the proviso that the money is used to support home industries.
Emirates is the largest customer for the Airbus A380, for which the wings are assembled at the manufacturer’s plant in Broughton, Wales. UKEF expected to guarantee an Islamic bond in 2015 issued by a customer of Airbus, Britain’s finance ministry said in October. This came after the UK became the first Western nation to sell an Islamic bond, attracting bids worth more than 10 times the 200 million pounds ($322 million) on offer. It will not be the first time Emirates has issued bonds backed by export credit agencies as it seeks to diversify its sources of funding for the delivery of around $107.5 billion worth of aircraft from Boeing and
Airbus in coming years. Emirates in 2012 raised a bond which was guaranteed by U.S. Ex-Im Bank to help support the purchase of Boeing aircraft and in 2013 it refinanced two Airbus A380s through a bond backed by COFACE, the French export credit agency. It also sold a $1 billion sukuk in March 2013. Two of the sources said the upcoming U.K.-backed Emirates deal could close by the end of the first quarter. The transaction is likely to be worth up to $1 billion, according to three of the sources, with one adding that the lifespan would be between five and 10 years. www.pi-media.co.uk
New spate of barrel bomb attacks in Syria 14
The Syrian government has carried out hundreds of new indiscriminate attacks over the past year with air-delivered munitions, including improvised weapons such as barrel bombs. The attacks have had a devastating impact on civilians, killing or injuring thousands of people.
Human Rights Watch documented the attacks in Aleppo governorate in northern Syria and in Daraa governorate in the south based on witness statements, satellite imagery analysis, and video and photographic evidence. Although the United Nations Security Council condemned the attacks in a resolution adopted
Canadian Judge refuses to hear case of Muslim woman for hearing hijab A judge in the Canadian province of Quebec has reportedly refused to hear the case of a woman who wore a hijab to the courtroom. Rania El-Alloul, a Muslim single mother arrived in court to plead with a judge to get her car back. But before they could proceed, the judge told her the headscarf would not be allowed in her courtroom. “The same rules need to be applied to everyone. I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding,” Judge Eliana Marengo said according to an audio recording of the proceedings obtained by CBC News. “I will not hear you, I have to apply the same rules to everybody.” Marengo began by asking ElAlloul why she was wearing a headscarf. When she replied that it was because she was Muslim, the judge put the court in recess for a
half hour, and later returned to tell her that the hijab had to go or El-Alloul could hire a lawyer to postpone the hearing. “When she insisted I should remove my hijab, really I felt like she was talking with me as … not a human being,” El-Alloul told CBC. “I don’t want this thing to happen to any other lady. This is not the work of a judge. She doesn’t deserve to be a judge.” Because El-Alloul didn’t have the money to afford a lawyer, and didn’t want to postpone the case, the judge adjourned the hearing indefinitely, according to CBC In Quebec, this sort of intolerance of hijab-wearing women isn’t new. In 2013, the Parti Québécois tried to push through a secular charter of values that would prohibit public servants from wearing religious symbols, such as the hijab, kippas, turbans, burkas, or large crosses. The measure eventually died. But it left bad feelings and tensions in its wake.
I March 2015
a year ago, it has not responded directly to the new wave of attacks. “For a year, the Security Council has done nothing to stop Bashar al-Assad’s murderous air bombing campaign on rebel-held areas, which has terrorized, killed, and displaced civilians,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Amid talk of a possible temporary cessation of strikes on Aleppo, the question is whether Russia and China will finally allow the UN Security Council to impose sanctions to stop barrel bombs.”
Discrimination against Muslim students in Ghanaian Education Institution The Muslim Community in the Western Region of Ghana on demonstrated to express their displeasure over discrimination against their female students where the hijab, a traditional scarf worn by Muslim women to cover their hair and neck and sometimes their face. They insisted that Muslim students should not be forced to attend Sunday church services in schools. Government later warned that heads of institutions, including schools and work places, found to be contravening the basic constitutional rights of the Muslims will be sanctioned. But the Christian Council is of the view that the issue should be left with the National Peace Council, religious leaders and the Ghana Education Service to resolve it amicably. The Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) says the issue of discrimination of Muslim students in some education institutions in the country needs consensus to resolve it and not politics.
I March 2015
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US arming Israel with 14 warplanes
The United States is set to arm Israel with more fighter jets in a three-billion-dollar agreement signed between Washington and Tel Aviv. The deal includes 14 F-35 stealth fighters made by the US company, Lockheed Martin, at a cost of about $110 million each, Israeli officials announced. Other technological and training elements were also included in the
military package. Israel is expected to receive the fighter jets by the end of next year. The United States provides Israel with some $8.5 million in military aid per day, adding up to over $3 billion annually. In November, the Department of Defense announced plans to arm Israel with 3,000 smart bombs as part of Washington’s military aid to
Israel opens dams’ gates, floods Gaza Hundreds of Palestinians have been forced to evacuate their homes in the Gaza Strip because of a move by the Israeli regime to open the gates of several dams surrounding the besieged area. “The [Israeli] army opened the floodgates of a canal leading to central Gaza, which led to the removal of sand mounds along the border with Israel,” GAZA’s Civil Defense Directorate (CDD) said in a statement. “Opening the levees to the canal has led to the flooding of several Palestinian homes, and we had
to quickly evacuate the afflicted citizens,” the statement further read. The directorate also lashed out at Tel Aviv for opening the dams without giving prior notice to Gaza’s residents, saying the regime intentionally discharged a huge amount of water in the direction of the strip. Meanwhile, reports said the rescue teams from Gaza’s Ministry of Public Works managed to evacuate more than 80 Gazan families after the water levels hit three meters in the area. www.pi-media.co.uk
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Tel Aviv. In December, American lawmakers passed a bill to deepen Washington’s bonds with Tel Aviv, making Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States. The US House of Representatives approved the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, which reflects “the sense of Congress that Israel is a major strategic partner of the United States,” and declares Washington’s “unwavering support” for Israel. The US military aid to Israel has prompted several demonstrations across the country against such deals. American protesters argue that the US taxpayer money is used for more Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
Swedish reporter held in Syria freed
A Swedish freelance journalist who went missing close to areas controlled by ISIL militants told Swedish media he had been freed after a week being held by Syrian government forces. Joakim Medin, 30, said he had been captured at a roadblock in al-Qamishli, a Syrian town on the Turkish border. He said he was held in isolation but had not been treated violently. “I was taken by the regime,” he told Swedish daily Expressen by telephone from al-Qamishli. “I feel OK. I’m worn out both in mind and body but I’m OK.” Swedish Foreign Ministry spokewoman Ulla Jacobson declined to give further information, but said: “The Swedish citizen is free and feeling well.”
215 Muslim Brotherhood members to face trial www.pi-media.co.uk
I March 2015
Egypt’s public prosecutor said he had referred 215 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to trial on charges of forming a militant group, the latest move in a sustained crackdown by authorities on Islamic supporters. Egypt has mounted one of the biggest crackdowns in its
modern history on the Brotherhood following the army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, the country’s first freely-elected president, in 2013 after mass protests against his rule. The 215 defendants were charged with forming a militant group called “Helwan Brigades”, Hesham
Barakat, the public prosecutor, said in a statement. The prosecution’s investigation said that the group was responsible for killing at least six policemen and wounding several civilians and policemen in separate attacks in Cairo. The group also had possessed weapons and ammunition. Of the group, 125 members are in detention, and Barakat ordered the arrest of those at large. Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested and put on mass trials in a campaign which human rights groups say shows the government is systematically repressing opponents. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat. But the movement says it is committed to peaceful activism.
Australia vows tough citizenship law In Case You Missed It
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced plans to restrict his country’s citizenship laws, vowing to suspend the citizenship of the terrorism suspects who are dual nationals. Abbott said in a speech that native Australians could also lose certain liberties if they violated the country’s anti-terrorism laws, as officials warned that the country faces rising security threats from Takfiri militants tied to the ISIL terror group. “It has long been the case that people who fight against Australia forfeit their citizenship,” the Australian premier said during an address at the federal police headquarters in the capital, Canberra, as cited in a report by the state-funded BBC. “So Australians who take up arms
with terrorist groups, especially while Australian military personnel are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sided against our country. And should be treated accordingly,” he added. The development comes as dozens of Australian nationals are believed to be engaged in terror campaigns in Iraq and Syria along with Takfiri ISIL terrorists. Local experts, meanwhile, have expressed concerns about the impact on Australia’s security if such militants return home from battles in the Middle East and join other potential ISIL supporters in the country. Abbott said his government was also looking at measures targeting Australian-born citizens involved in
terrorism. “These could include restricting the ability to leave or return to Australia, and access to consular services overseas, as well as access to welfare payments,” he said. During the address Abbott also declared that he would soon appoint a new ‘security tsar’ for the county. Abbott’s remarks, however, were mildly challenged by the country’s opposition leader Bill Shorten, who while vowing to “engage constructively” with the government over the new measures, warned against rushing through the new regulations. “Haste and confusion is never the friend of good, sensible security in the future,” Shorten said as cited by a local broadcaster
New rules set on armed drone exports
I WORLD NEWS
The Obama administration issued new rules for the international export of armed drones, a move that seeks to preserve an American lead in a fast-growing market but one likely to speed the proliferation of a muchcriticised weapon in the battle against terrorism. The rules will make it easier to provide missile-armed Predator and Reaper drones to US allies facing off against militant groups, including Daesh and its offshoots, aviation experts said. The long-awaited policy shift will reduce the chance that friendly countries will turn for drones to Israel or China, which also manufacture unmanned military aircraft for export.
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The State Department said the new policy set strict standards for the sale of armed drones, including “enduse assurances” from the recipient countries that set out how they can be used. For drones capable of carrying large weapons, there will be a “strong presumption of denial” of an export licence. But exceptions will be allowed on “rare occasions,” the department said, citing language that also governs other weapons exports. The export rules will not permit buyers to use US drones “to conduct unlawful surveillance or use unlawful force against their domestic populations,” the State Department said. The new policy is a recognition
that unmanned aircraft are increasingly viewed around the globe as an indispensable weapon for counterterrorism and warfare. To date, experts said, the United States has sold armed drones only to Britain, though several Nato countries have bought unarmed models. Italy has sought approval to add missiles to its US-made drones, and Turkey has also sought to buy armed US unmanned craft. Human rights groups have expressed grave concern about drone proliferation because they say the ability to strike without risking a pilot’s life lowers the threshold for starting an armed conflict. In addition, though drones have a far greater capability to distinguish between civilians and combatants than fighter jets or cruise missiles, US drones in Pakistan and Yemen have killed hundreds of civilians. While the United States, Israel and China dominate the field, South Africa is now making armed drones, and Turkey and several other countries are in the early stages of developing military models. Since 2001, the United States has used drones for surveillance and strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and both military and CIA officials have praised their capabilities.
First Afghan operation against Taliban without NATO Over 300 suspected militants were killed and more than 200 others were wounded during a 10-day operation in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, Afghan authorities said. Afghan security forces have conducted their biggest, and first, independent operation against Taliban militants without NATO air or ground support in Helmand and adjacent provinces. “Over 300 militants killed and more than 200 others wounded while 42 of them were arrested,” said Gen. Dawlat Waziri, deputy spokesman
for the Ministry of Defense. “More than a dozen of Afghan security forces also were killed during the operation.” The Taliban insurgents have dismissed the number, saying it was part of Afghan government’s “propaganda.” This marks the first Afghan selfconducted operation after U.S.-led international coalition forces ended their combat mission at the end of 2014. In the advent of the cold winter in Afghanistan, Taliban militants
generally slow down their operations and move to their safe havens. “While in previous years, the Taliban moved to their sanctuaries beyond the borders, this year (they) have stayed on the battleground in Afghanistan,” Waziri declared. Since Jan. 1, 2015, the mission has evolved into training and advising the nascent Afghan security forces. The 13,000 foreign troops for the Resolute Support Mission come from 28 NATO allies and 14 other partner nations. www.pi-media.co.uk
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Turkey competes with Saudi Arabia over Cuba mosque In Case You Missed It
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled his ambitious plan to build a major Ottoman-style mosque in Cuba, saying it should be similar to a nineteenth century one on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the presidency said. Erdogan acknowledged after holding talks with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana that Cuban officials had appeared to have already made an agreement with Saudi Arabia for the construction of a mosque in Havana. But Erdogan, who caused
astonishment last year by claiming Muslims “discovered” the Americas before Columbus, said Turkey was pressing for an Ottoman-style mosque in another city in Cuba. “We have told them that we could build a similar one to Ortakoy Mosque in another city, if you have promised to others for Havana,” Erdogan said in the communist island, the second stop of his Latin America tour. The Ortakoy Mosque, designed by the Balyan family of Armenian architects, was built in 1853 during
the rule of the Ottoman sultan Abdulmecid I. The neo-Baroque edifice is a familiar sight on the shore near the Bosphorus Bridge. Erdogan said Turkey was not in search of a partner to build the mosque as “our architecture is different from that of Saudi Arabia.” “I have provided the Cuban officials with all the necessary information.... so far they have not taken a negative approach to it,” he was quoted as saying by the presidential website. Erdogan, a pious Muslim who has been in power for more than a decade, stirred controversy late last year by declaring that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic. Erdogan cited as evidence for his claim that “Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast” and offered to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer. The president has repeatedly been ridiculed by critics for harking back to Turkey’s past to even before the Ottoman Empire was established in the fourteenth century.
U.S. military arrive in Iraq Forty-five American officers and military personnel have arrived in Iraq for what local security sources claim are “consulting and training roles.” The contingent arrived at Ayn al-Asad Iraqi military base in Anbar province’s al-Baghdadi district in western Iraq, an anonymous Iraqi army source told The Anadolu Agency. Coming from a U.S. base in Kuwait, the group will provide training to Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters about countering terrorism to free Anbar province from ISIL
Military plans for further military operations against ISIL in areas located west of Ramadi city are also thought to be on the group’s agenda, the source said. Major General Kasem alMohammadi, Anbar province’s military operations chief, confirmed the fortification of Ayn al-Asad military base. “The Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters are almost completely securing al-Baghdadi district and ISIL is 2 kilometers from Ayn al-Asad but is no danger to the base,” alMohammadi said.
The Iraqi security forces repelled ISIL attacks on al-Baghdadi district according to al-Mohammadi. U.S. General John Allen – the U.S-led international coalition’s coordinator – announced that the Iraqi security forces would start a major offensive ground against ISIL. Clashes between Iraqi forces and ISIL have been ongoing since June 2014 when the armed group seized Mosul and other territories in Iraq. This prompted the U.S. to form an international coalition, which has launched numerous airstrikes against ISIL targets in both Iraq and Syria.
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EU provides €212 million to Palestinians
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WORLD NEWS I 21
In Case You Missed It
committed to the two-state solution and will therefore continue to support the Palestinian Authority in its statebuilding efforts and in delivering basic social services.” The €212 million consists of €130 million of direct financial support to Palestine and €82 million of financial support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The European Union has released €212 million to the Palestinian people - the first tranche of its financial support for 2015. The new funding will help provide education, healthcare and social services to Palestinians, the 28-nation-bloc’s executive body, European Commission, said in a statement. EU foreign policy chief Federica
Mogherini said: “An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for the Middle East peace process towards a two-state solution.” The Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said in a statement: “The EU remains
Mobile phone for Muslims in Russia A specially designed mobile phone for Muslims has pre-installed Quran software and a built-in navigator that automatically determines the users location. The mobile phone has been offered for sale in Russia. The chairwoman of Russia’s Female Muslims’ Union, Nailya Ziganshina, said that the phone has a preinstalled Quran in Arabic and its translation in Russian.
It has an automated system that reminds the owner about prayer times, the phone also includes a built-in navigator that automatically determines the user’s location and shows the direction to Mecca. The handset, made by Russian company BQ and assembled in China, costs 1,900 rubles ($31). It is available in three colors: green, black and crimson. www.pi-media.co.uk
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1st Ukrainian translation of Quran to be unveiled The first translation of Islam’s Holy Book in Ukrainian will be unveiled in Ukraine next month. Ukrainian scholar and history expert Mikhail Yakobevich has translated the Quran in five years, IINA reported. He says efforts have been made in the past to render the entire Quran into the Ukrainian language but they did not succeed. Yakobevich notes that he has studied about Islamic terms in order to choose the best equivalents for the terms on his translation. Osnova Publications has published the rendering, according to the report. Dana Pavekcheko, director of the publications, says Ukraine is a multi-cultural society and reading the Quran will help people of the country better understand one another. Ukrainian is an East Slavic language. It is the official state language of Ukraine and first of two principal languages of Ukrainians.
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China counterterror law strikes fear in foreign tech firms
China is weighing a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys and install security “backdoors”, a potential escalation of what some firms view as the increasingly onerous terms of doing business in the world’s second largest economy. A parliamentary body read a second draft of the country’s first anti-terrorism law this week and is expected to adopt the legislation in the coming weeks or months. The initial draft, published by the National People’s Congress late last year, requires companies to also keep servers and user data within
China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related internet content. Its scope reaches far beyond a recently adopted set of financial industry regulations that pushed Chinese banks to purchase from domestic technology vendors. The implications for Silicon Valley companies, ranging from Microsoft (MSFT.O) to Apple Inc (AAPL.O), have set the stage for yet another confrontation over cybersecurity and technology policy, a major irritant in U.S.-China relations. “It’s a disaster for anyone doing business in China,” said one industry
Graffiti vandalizes vienna mosque Ahead of first anti-Islam march in the Austrian capital, vandals sprayed several swastikas on a Vienna mosque, in the latest incident in a series of anti-Islam attacks across Europe. The graffiti, found was being “investigated by the national security agency,” a police spokesperson told Agence France Presse (AFP). The attack came ahead of the country’s first anti-Islam protest planned on Monday. The protest is organized by an offshoot of PEGIDA group, which has drawn thousands of supporters on the streets of the German city of Dresden is recent months.
Small “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” offshoots have also sprung up in other German cities and in European countries including Denmark, Switzerland and Spain. The Vienna march in the city center was expected to attract fewer than 300 people. A counter-demo was also planned, with 1,200 extra police on duty in case of trouble. The mosque attack is the last in a series which kicked off last December. In one attack, unknown culprits left a pig’s head and intestines in front of the door of another mosque in the capital.
source. “You are no longer allowed a VPN that’s secure, you are no longer able to transmit financials securely, or to have any corporate secrets. By law, nothing is secure.” The Obama administration has conveyed its concerns about the anti-terrorism draft law to China, according to a U.S. official. Although the counterterrorism provisions would apply to both domestic and foreign technologies, officials in Washington and Western business lobbies argue the law, combined with the new banking rules and a slew of anti-trust investigations, amount to unfair regulatory pressure targeting foreign companies. “The true test will come with implementation,” said Scott Kennedy, the Director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Given the recent spate of AMLrelated (anti-monopoly law) cases against foreign firms, the regulations about the banking sector, and the reduction of foreign firms’ products on government procurement lists, there is good reason for foreign firms to be highly concerned,” Kennedy said.
Turkish Airlines unveils new Azerbaijan flights
Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s national air carrier, has announced that it is starting flights between Istanbul and the Azeri capital Baku. THY flights will start on March 15 and will operate seven days a week between Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul and Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport. “With this launch, Turkish Airlines will be flying to Baku from Sabiha Gokcen after its already operated Tbilisi flights, in the Caucasus,” the statement said, adding introductory and all-inclusive round trip fares start from 275 euros ($310).
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Israeli PM orders demolition of 400 Palestinian homes
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the destruction of some 400 newly-built Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank, reports say. The move came after a British newspaper reported alleged that the European Union (EU) funded the construction of the residences, according to Israeli media.
The Israeli regime claims that the EU should have asked for its permit for the construction of the homes. A spokesman for the EU defended its funding for the homes for Palestinians. Shadi Othman, a communications officer at the Office of the European Union Representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip said “is part
Switzerland bans sale of aviation fuel to Syria
Switzerland has banned the sale of aviation fuel to Syria as part of an extension of sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The Swiss Economics Ministry said in a statement, the Swiss cabinet had ordered the prohibition of the sale of jet fuels and additives to the Syrian Air Force via Switzerland. The provision of financial resources, including insurance, connected with such transactions was also prohibited, the ministry said. The move means the Syrian Air Force can no longer received jet fuels directly or indirectly through Switzerland. Swiss sanctions against Syria were first approved in May 2011
after similar measures were taken by the European Union, as a response to the violent oppression the Syrian army and security forces had exercised against the civilian population. Bans on the import of oil and petroleum products, the delivery of precious metals, diamonds, the freezing of assets and economic resources belonging to certain individuals, businesses and organizations, and a prohibition on Swiss banks establishing relations with Syria are among the sanctions currently imposed by Switzerland. The near-four-year-old Syria conflict has claimed 220,000 lives, according to the UN.
of the work done to build the future Palestinian state.” “Palestinians have a right to live there, build schools there, have economic development,” Othman added. The development came amid widespread global condemnation of Israel’s land grab policies. Tel Aviv has approved a series of plans for new settler units in East Jerusalem al-Quds in recent months. The EU has often criticized Israel for building thousands of settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories. The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle in the way of efforts to establish peace in the Middle East. Upwards of half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East al-Quds, in 1967. The Israeli settlements are considered to be illegal by the United Nations and most countries because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are thus subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
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Sonny Bill Williams impresses in Super Rugby comeback
The Chiefs, who won back to back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013, opened up a 20-6 lead in the first half before the Blues came back strongly in the second term. Although they did not score a try, the Auckland-based Blues kept chipping away the lead by kicking six penalties, all from Ihaia West. “There were a lot of positives we can take out of this,” Blues captain Jerome Kaino sad. “The forwards went bout their work well and the backs did some good things too.”
Sonny Bill Williams has made a spectacular return to Super Rugby, leading the Chiefs to a 23-18 win over the Blues on the first all NewZealand clash of the new season. Williams had a hand in each of his team’s two first-half tries, which proved pivotal in the end when the Blues launched a strong second-half comeback.
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Returning to the Chiefs after spending the last two seasons playing rugby league in Australia, Williams helped set up tries for James Lowe and Bryce Heem. “It was a very tough game,” said Chief skipper Matt Symons. “It was good to get away with the win but there’s still plenty of things to work on.“
The 43-year-old Brit sparked outrage on social media during his game against Ronnie O’Sullivan. But far from supporting the Islamic group (also known as Islamic
State) as many viewers suspected, McLeod’s waistcoat was in fact merely bearing the logo of his longterm sponsors of 14 years, Isis Business Solutions. “Probably not the best name to have stitched on your coat on TV,” one snooker fan wrote on Twitter, while others called the branding an “unfortunate coincidence”. Some viewers have criticised those accusing McLeod of Isis connections, describing them as “idiots”. “Like he would wear an Islamic State badge,” one post read. McLeod’s unfortunate evening continued when he lost the secondround match at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena 4-2, despite having beaten Andrew Pagett with the same score in the first round.
Muslim Snooker player explains reason behind ISIS badge
Muslim snooker player Rory McLeod has been forced to defend himself after he was seen wearing a badge reading “Isis” in a Welsh Open match.
SPORT I 25
I March 2015
European clubs want compensation for Qatar winter World Cup
Muhammad Ali’s ‘phantom punch’ gloves sell for almost $1m
European clubs want to be compensated if FIFA follows the recommendation of its Task Force and stages the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November and December, they said. “For the football family, the rescheduling of the FIFA World Cup 2022 presents a difficult and challenging task,” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Clubs’ Association (ECA),
said in a statement. “All match calendars across the world will have to accommodate such tournament in 2022/23, which requires everyone’s willingness to compromise. “However, the European clubs and leagues cannot be expected to bear the costs for such rescheduling. We expect the clubs to be compensated for the damage that a final decision would cause.”
The gloves of boxing legend Mohammed Ali has been sold for almost $1 million at an auction in New York, The Independent reported. The gloves have apparently been used by the boxer during his fight against Sonny Liston in their controversial 1965 bout. The 1965 fight took place in Maine and ended when Ali threw what has since been called “the phantom punch.” The gloves were bought by an anonymous bidder for $956,000, the website reported.
Qatar to host 2015 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qatar has announced that it will host the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Asian Qualifiers this month. The competition will take place from 23-28 March at Katara Beach outside Doha, reports the Peninsula Times. Spectators will watch 15 nations battle it out for the three Asian Football Confederation berths available at the finals in Portugal this July. Beach soccer was born from Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach and is now played by 75 countries from six different federations. Teams have just five players on the pitch each.
Qatar last hosted the event in 2013 and this year’s competition is expected to attract more than 2,000 fans to Katara Beach, with a free-to-enter fan zone open for the first time. Nasser Al Khater, executive marketing director at Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which has been appointed as official organiser of the event,
said: “Hosting the qualifiers provides another opportunity to demonstrate Qatar’s ability to deliver events for the world’s elite athletes in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
I I FEATURED - EDUCATION FOCUS
Read Every Day In Early years, reading at least 20 minutes every day will drastically improve your child’s reading and writing performance by the age of 15, according to an OECD report. Do your best to dramatise reading with the special sound effects and don’t worry about sounding silly. Select a book your child will enjoy Let your child choose a book that is connected to your child’s interests such as football, jokes or space. This way, your child will be better engaged. Point Out Authors and Illustrators Allow your child to become familiar with the important features of the book by reading the title, the name of the author and illustrator. This will encourage your child to develop their personal favourite author and recognize their work immediately. Read the Same Books Don’t worry about rereading the same books, focussing one week on one aspect such as pictures, the following week on reading the story, weeks or months later focussing
on the vocabulary and later on punctuation and so on. Make Reading Engaging and Interactive When reading to pre-reception children, engage your child by staging questions about what you’ve read, how characters feel, and what might come next. Singing songs with your child will help develop language skills. Avoid sitting at the computer, checking your mobile, or doing household chores. Look directly at your child to encourage full engagement. Discuss Stories When you give your child the opportunity to discuss the story, its characters and settings, it establishes important foundation for the critical thinking skills that are vitally important during the child’s life. Read Non-fiction As well as stories, choose books that will fascinate your pre-kindergarten child by the world around them. Non-fiction books give opportunities to your child to learn about the world around them. Books about animals,
I March 2015
outer space, and cars, trucks and machines will entice them to love books. Establish Good Reading Habits Be a great role model. It’s important your child sees you read a variety of text. This will help your child view reading positively. Encourage Drawing Early writing and drawing using plenty of crayons and markers will instil the love of writing and drawing tools. Incorporate Toys Play dough and toys encourages the development of agility, nimbleness and dexterity in your child’s fingers that will be vitally important as your child learns to hold a pencil correctly. Gulam Dabhad is an Educational Expert, Educational Journalist, and CEO of Improve Tuition. Look out for the launch of our new website soon at www. improvetuition.org. Our New Website will have tips for parents, children and headteachers and plenty more.
I March 2015
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Published on Mar 1, 2015
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