Savage storm pummels Chinese province, kills 98

YANCHENG: People scrabbled through the rubble of their homes on Friday after hurricane-force winds and a tornado left at least 98 dead in China, with hundreds more injured.

Whole villages were levelled and huge trees felled when winds of up to 125 kilometres per hour struck around Yancheng city in the eastern province of Jiangsu on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In Shizhuang, scores gathered beside a large fishing pond where a male corpse floated in the water, as workers cleared up fallen electricity poles nearby.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2016

Religious tensions bristle in Myanmar village after mosque destroyed

YANGON: Scores of police have been deployed to guard a village in central Myanmar where religious tensions are running high after a Buddhist mob destroyed a mosque, authorities said Saturday.

It is the latest flare-up of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, which has seen sporadic bouts of religious bloodshed since 2012, with a surge of Buddhist nationalism presenting a key challenge for Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government.

A muslim man cries after a group of men destroyed a mosque in the village of Thayethamin outside Yangon, Myanmar.— Reuters
A muslim man cries after a group of men destroyed a mosque in the village of Thayethamin outside Yangon, Myanmar.— Reuters

The most recent violence erupted this week when an angry mob of around 200 Buddhists rampaged through a Muslim area of a village in Bago province following an argument between neighbours over the building of a Muslim school.

Own Lwin, the local police chief, said the atmosphere remained tense Saturday with around 100 police officers deployed to keep the peace.

“Last night, 50 police guarded the village to prepare for rumours that there might be more unrest. Now we have arranged a police force of up to 100 officers,” he told AFP, adding that no arrests have been made over the destruction of the mosque.

Win Shwe, the mosque’s secretary, told AFP that Muslim residents fear for their safety and are planning to move to a nearby town until the tension cools.

“Our situation is not safe and now we are planning to leave the village… We still feel afraid,” he told AFP.

Strident anti-Muslim sentiment has fomented across Myanmar in recent years, with outbreaks of violence threatening to unravel democratic gains since the former junta stepped down in 2011.

The worst religious violence struck central Myanmar and western Rakhine State, which is home to the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, tens of thousands of whom still languish in displacement camps after rioting.

The interior of the destroyed mosque is seen after the attack.— Reuters
The interior of the destroyed mosque is seen after the attack.— Reuters

Hardline monks and Buddhist nationalists fiercely oppose moves to recognise the Rohingya as an official minority and insist on calling them “Bengalis” — shorthand for illegal migrants from the border with Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi, a vocal champion for human rights, has been criticised for not taking a stronger stance on the Rohingya or the abuse they face.

This month the UN warned that violations against the group could amount to “crimes against humanity”. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, now leading Myanmar’s first civilian government in decades, has asked for “space” while her administration seeks to build trust between religious communities.

iRabwah| News Watch |
Source/Credit: Dawn News 

Cross-border attack repulsed

KHAR: Security forces claimed on Friday to have repulsed an attack on their checkposts in border areas of Nawagai tehsil in Bajaur Agency by militants from Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

“At least two militants were injured as security forces successfully repulsed the cross-border attack in several areas of Nawagai in the small hours of Friday,” security officials said.

They said the militants had fired rockets and mortar shells at several checkposts located along the Pak-Afghan border. However, no casualty was reported in the attack.

Security forces, with the help of volunteers of a local peace committee, retaliated the attack and later launched a search for the assailants.

Two of the militants were wounded while escaping after the attack.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2016

Blasphemy bulls-eye

In November 2014, Veena Malik along with her husband (and Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman) were sentenced to 26 years in prison by a Gilgit-Baltistan anti-terror court over blasphemy for reenacting their wedding, while a ‘contemptuous qawwali’ played in the background. The sentence wasn’t carried through because GB’s verdicts don’t have to be implemented elsewhere in Pakistan.

The ‘contemptuous qawwali’ entitled ‘Ali ke saath hai Zehra ki shaadi’, however, is actually a popular manqabat often played at, but not limited to, Shia weddings. And in the aftermath of the blasphemy accusations, where both Geo and ARY traced the nadir of journalism, the IHC issued a notice to – among others – Ghulam Amjad Sabri over the manqabat. It became evident that the blasphemy row that evolved into murderous mudslinging over TV ratings was also going to be used to target Sufi and Shia Islam, reiterating their manifestations of reverence as ‘blasphemy’.

On Wednesday Amjad Sabri, who had increasingly received death threats since that episode, was gunned down in Karachi with TTP’s Hakeemullah faction claiming responsibility. Later on Wednesday night news came in that noha khwan Farhan Ali Waris also survived a gun attack in Karachi.

Killing Amjad Sabri, the man who made a name for himself singing praises for the greatness and divinity of Prophet Muhammad, over blasphemy isn’t the extent of this inconceivable paradox. It is the fact that it is those very eulogies that are dubbed contemptuous, which delineates the wherewithal of blasphemy and correlated accusations. For, if a vociferous devotee of the Prophet can be accused of blasphemy, for expressing that very devotion, it’s evident that blasphemy – and all associated jurisprudence – is a homicidal sham, designed to maintain violent status quo and put a target on any deviant’s head.

The blasphemy bull-eye that was put on Amjad Sabri is the same one that was painted on Salmaan Taseer, Sabeen Mahmud, Khurram Zaki, the APS children, and every Ahmadi and Shia mosque attacked for their beliefs. The bulls-eye is most affective when it’s Muslims accusing other Muslims of not being Muslim enough. And hence, accusations of blasphemy, apostasy, heresy or any variation thereof, are quite evidently attempted murders.

Even so, the only reason why blasphemy accusation equals murder in our neck of the woods is because we’re one of the 13 states in the world – all Muslim majority – where blasphemy is punishable by death. And so, the only reason why people are murdered here over blasphemy allegations, in such a high number, is because the state’s Penal Code agrees that people should be killed for blasphemy.

On Tuesday, a day before Sabri’s murder, renowned media figure Orya Maqbool Jan dedicated an entire TV show to atheism, with screenshots of articles that he personally deemed ‘anti-Islam’. Not only did he equate secularism with insulting Islam in a country where people are being killed over allegations of doing precisely that, he also equated it with treason citing the sovereignty that has been granted to the Islamic deity. Before Orya Maqbool Jan it was Kokab Noorani who said on live television that anyone even raising the Ahmadiyya question should be shot on the spot.

In Pakistan, where allegations of being ‘anti-Islam’ are conjured at the drop of a hat, and these prophetic accusations are brought to fruition at an alarming rate, there’s a glaring lack of state action against deafening incitements to murder.

What exactly is the difference between these media figures issuing verdicts over what is and isn’t Islamic and the jihadists carrying out their self-fulfilling prophecies? More crucially, what is the ideological distinction between these jihadists and a takfiri state that not only decides who can be a Muslim in this country, but also gives legislative supremacy to Muslims?

As the sixth World Congress Against the Death Penalty is underway in Oslo, Pakistan still isn’t any closer to legislation against people not being killed over ‘offended sentiments’. Not only is blasphemy a victim-less crime, it is in fact the proclaimed offender who becomes the eventual victim carrying the irremovable burden of proof for innocence, which is completely out-shaded by the blasphemy bulls-eye painted on their back.

The legislative, and counter-terror, buck stops with the government to not only overhaul any law that contradicts universal human rights and hunt down jihadists, but to also make a statement of intent in the war against terror. When terror-mongers are given space in the media, educational institutes and the Parliament itself, the rehashed rhetoric of ‘fighting till the last terrorist’ is insulting to the over 70,000 terror victims in Pakistan. Every single one of these victims was killed because someone somewhere issued apostasy verdicts for individuals, communities, means of governance or the state itself, whether it was courtesy of jihadists leaders or their sympathisers.

This ‘fight against terrorism’ cannot be won even through an infinite number of military operations. It can only be won through a state-implemented ideological overhaul, starting with the Constitution and Penal Code and then sweeping through hate-mongering religious factories, which aren’t limited to mosques and madrassas.

A state can’t exercise excommunication and uphold punishments for blasphemy, while simultaneously claiming to fight against terror groups founded upon these very principles. If the state really wants to pay a tribute to one of its finest artists, it must take away the biggest weapon that his killers had: blasphemy accusation.

But as things stand Rs 300 million are being allocated to the ‘Godfather’ of the Taliban’s Darul Uloom Haqqania, which proudly flaunts jihadist alumni. This is at a time when radical Islamists are targeting the Sufi and pluralistic roots of the Indus Valley Civilisation. The government seems intent on continuing to sponsor the paint for the blasphemy bulls-eye.

iRabwah| News Watch |
Source/Credit: http://nation.com.pk

BRITISH LOSE RIGHT TO CLAIM THAT AMERICANS ARE DUMBER

LONDON (The Borowitz Report)—Across the United Kingdom on Friday, Britons mourned their long-cherished right to claim that Americans were significantly dumber than they are.

Luxuriating in the superiority of their intellect over Americans’ has long been a favorite pastime in Britain, surpassing in popularity such games as cricket, darts, and snooker.

But, according to Alistair Dorrinson, a pub owner in North London, British voters have done irreparable damage to the “most enjoyable sport this nation has ever known: namely, treating Americans like idiots.”

“When our countrymen cast their votes yesterday, they didn’t realize they were destroying the most precious leisure activity this nation has ever known,” he said. “Wankers.”

In the face of this startling display of national idiocy, Dorrinson still mustered some of the resilience for which the British people are known. “This is a dark day,” he said. “But I hold out hope that, come November, Americans could become dumber than us once more.”

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: http://www.newyorker.com/

When Qandeel Baloch met Mufti Qavi: A guideline on how NOT to learn Islam

Celebrities have been yearning to get closer to their religion lately with the help of popular religious scholars. While Hamza Ali Abbasi met with Junaid Jamshed to discuss Islam, social media sensation Qandeel Baloch turned to Mufti Abdul Qavi to learn more about her faith.

Qandeel and Mufti sahab’s interaction, however, wreaked havoc across all kinds of social media platforms after photos of the two of them meeting in a hotel room went viral online, begging the question: Why would a religious man privately meet with Qandeel in a hotel room if a discussion on Islam was on the agenda?

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: The Express Tribune

 

USA: Ahmadi Muslims Recognized by Fairfax County Board for True Islam Campaign

It was a great day for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as they were in for a real treat. Chairman Sharon Bulova and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recognized the Ahmadi Muslims with a Resolution for all their hard work on the True Islam campaign.

The True Islam campaign aims to educate Americans, be they Muslim or non Muslim, about the distinction between extremists and those who are true Muslims. The website www.trueislam.com shows 11 points, all accompanied by animated YouTube videos no more than two minutes long. It also shows those who have supported the campaign with signed endorsements, like from Chief Jarrod Burguan, who was serving as the San Bernardino Police Chief during the incident of the Muslim couple who carried out terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California in late 2015.

Chairman Bulova, before calling Imam Rizwan Khan to say a few words and accept the plaque, commented with her own memorable account of visiting Mubarak Mosque when it was vandalized during its construction phase. She was impressed with the way the surrounding community came together and supported the Ahmadi Muslims of Northern Virginia in their time of need. Chairman Bulova is no stranger to Mubarak Mosque. She has been invited on more than one occasion by the women’s auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and attended their interfaith events. It was not lost on the Board of the timing of how this Resolution coincided with recent events pertaining to extremist attacks resulting in a bad reputation for Muslims.

It was acknowledged that this event had been scheduled quite some time in advance. Additional comments were provided by Supervisor Gross, who was only too happy to second the vote on granting this Resolution, as well as Supervisor Storck who extended a warm invitation to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to visit Mount Vernon, and Supervisor Kathy Smith who lived close by to the mosque and had even attended one of their events. Chairman Bulova called to vote on granting this Resolution to which everyone agreed, and invited the Ahmadiyya representative, Imam Rizwan Khan to say a few words. Imam Rizwan thanked the board for granting the Ahmadi Muslims this honor and explained a little bit about what the campaign, True Islam was intended for, after which Chairman Bulova proceeded to invite the whole group to take a photo of the group accepting the plaque.

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: Eastern Virginia Muslim Examiner
By Seher Bhatti |

The Gambia: Tahir Ahmadiyya Muslim Senior Secondary School Graduates 128 Students

Tahir Ahmadiyya Muslim Senior Secondary School in Mansakonko recently held its speech and prize giving ceremony at a ceremony held at the school ground in Mansakonko, Lower River Region. The event saw the graduation of 128 students in the 2015/16 academic year.

Abubacarr Nyabally, the Principal of the School in his speech highlighted the 2015/16 academic year report as well as other developments undertaken by his school since its establishment in 1983.

“Our overall student performance in areas of studies especially in core subjects like English language and Commerce plus other academic discipline is on the increase and that we will continue to do our level best to make and ensure that our students’ performance in other areas like Mathematics and Chemistry subjects are also improved,” he said.

He advised the outgoing students to be law abiding and respect their parents as well as to seek for advice on their future career path.

Nyabally thanked the School’s Board of Governors, the communities and the Region Four Educational Directorate in Mansakonko for the trust and support given to his school.

He lauded the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education for donating computers as well as Humanity First for providing a water facility for the school.

The school principal also commended the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jaamat both in The Gambia and Pakistan for their immense support.

“I must acknowledge that all of them have in one way or the other contributed towards the development of the school both in terms of academics and other infrastructural development,” he added.

In his keynote address, Alhagie Momodou Jallow, a retired civil servant, who is the guest speaker of the occasion, underscored that without education and discipline the future could be challenging for any one.

“Education has the potential to make everyone with discipline to become productive and become useful members of society who will contribute immensely towards the socio-economic development of her country. Education is as old as humanity and that modern society cannot survive in the absent of an educated society,” he stated.

Jallow further described education as a process of acquiring knowledge, skill habits, values and attitude and that it can be obtained in schools and outside the classroom like the media and in libraries.

He reminded the outgoing students that they have just completed the first phase in their journey, noting that the next phase can be a challenge for them, but with dedication and hard work the future would be bright.

Amadou Jobarteh, an outgoing student, on behalf of his colleagues, expressed appreciation and thanks to the school administration for guiding them throughout their three-year stint as students of the school.

The event, which attracted parents, staff of the school and a cross-section of the community, was characterised with a presentation of awards to deserving outgoing students and teachers amongst others.

by Salifu M. Touray in LRR

 

 

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: Daily Observor 
By Salifu M. Touray |

Canada: Ahmadiyya Muslims hold interfaith session on fasting in Abbotsford

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada holds an event in Abbotsford on Saturday, June 25 called Fasting: A Divine Source of Spiritual and Physical Health.

The event takes place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Garden Park Tower, 2825 Clearbrook Rd.

Prominent Christian, Hindu, and Muslim scholars will present their viewpoints on the topic of fasting and whether it can improve spiritual and physical health.

Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will be donated to the local food bank.

Admission and dinner are free.

WRC-Abbs20

 

 

 

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: The Abby News
By The News |