Muslims to have their own cemetery in Quebec after long wait

Quebec (IINA) – Finally the Muslims living in Quebec City, Canada will have their own cemetery after they have been looking for it for two decades but made a renewed push after they completed the payment for the city’s main mosque in 2011.Mayor Regis L…

Quebec (IINA) – Finally the Muslims living in Quebec City, Canada will have their own cemetery after they have been looking for it for two decades but made a renewed push after they completed the payment for the city’s main mosque in 2011.

Mayor Regis Labeaume and members of the Muslim community said at a news conference recently that the cemetery would be located on a parcel of land of about 6,000 square metres the city is selling for about $270,000 plus taxes, The News International reported.

According to CTV News, the cemetery was expected to be ready this fall. The news came just three weeks after a proposal aimed at setting up a Muslim cemetery in a town southwest of Quebec City was defeated in a referendum by a 19-16 margin.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

In Afghan Review, Trump’s Frustration Carries Echoes of Obama Years

WASHINGTON Since taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump has shown an affinity, and perhaps even a deference, to the generals he has surrounded himself with in his Cabinet and at the White House, save one exception: the war in Afghanistan.

More than a dozen interviews with current and former U.S. officials familiar with the discussions reveal a president deeply frustrated with the lack of options to win the 16-year-old war, described internally as “an eroding stalemate.”

The debate carries echoes of the same dilemma Barack Obama faced in 2009. Then, as now, odds are that Trump will ultimately send more troops, current and former officials say.

“It’s the least worst option,” one former U.S. official familiar with the discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity, while acknowledging that with Trump, a pullout cannot be completely ruled out.

Trump’s defense secretary, retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, has had the authority for nearly two months to add thousands more troops to the roughly 8,400 there now (down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2011). Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, requested the troops back in February.

But officials say Mattis won’t use his authority until he has buy-in from Trump for a strategic vision for America’s longest war. Beyond more troops for Afghanistan, the strategy would aim to address militant safe havens across the border in Pakistan.

That too has become a divisive issue, with several members of Trump’s inner circle split on how hard to press Islamabad.

Sources say that the discussions � which included a high-level White House meeting on Thursday � could drag out for the rest of the summer, blowing past a mid-July deadline to present a war strategy to an increasingly impatient Congress.

After Thursday’s meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, people familiar with the deliberations told Reuters that a final decision did not appear imminent.

Pentagon officials have declined to comment on internal deliberations. The White House has also declined to comment ahead of a decision on the strategy.

Commander under scrutiny

While U.S.-backed fighters are rolling back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the same cannot be said of the fight against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the conditions in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through next year, even with a modest increase in military assistance from America and its allies.

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump said Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might want to consider firing Nicholson, who was picked by Obama in 2016 to lead the war effort and has earned the respect of Afghan leaders.

“We aren’t winning,” Trump told them, according to accounts of the conversation.

But current and former officials say the frustration had been mounting for months.

At least as far back as February, one former U.S. official said the internal deliberations about Afghanistan were not aimed at creating a broad set of options for Trump.

Shortly before McMaster was due to present his plan to Trump for approval ahead of the May NATO summit, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to endorse it, saying Trump was not being presented with options, the former official and another current official said.

“The lack of options meant that the only recommendation that was originally to be put forward to the president was essentially the status quo,” the former official said, discounting the troop increase as any serious shift in strategy.

But in the months since, the possibility of a full pull-out has been repeatedly presented and refined along with a true “status-quo” option in which no new troops are sent to Afghanistan, but none are pulled out either.

Still, U.S. defense leaders are not believed to be favoring those options.

David Sedney, a former Pentagon policy advisor under the Obama administration, said failure to prioritize Afghanistan could replicate the mistakes by previous U.S. presidents.

“We’ve been ambivalent about Afghanistan for the last 17 years and when you have an ambivalent policy, it fails,” said Sedney, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank in Washington.

McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson, Dunford, Nicholson and some U.S. intelligence officials argue that refusing to commit more U.S. forces to train, equip and in some cases support the Afghan security forces would eventually result in the Taliban retaking most of the country from the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

Trump’s concerns about Afghanistan are shared by some senior officials close to the president, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, who, officials say, is skeptical about the need for an increase in troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan also divides team

Divisions have also emerged within Trump’s administration on how much to pressure Pakistan, and how quickly, in order to address militant safe havens blamed for helping prolong Afghanistan’s war.

Nicholson, McMaster and Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, favor taking a strong hand with Pakistan to deal with Taliban militants using that country as a base from which to plot attacks in Afghanistan, current and former officials say.

On the other side are State Department officials and others at the Pentagon, including Dunford, who take a broader view of Pakistan’s strategic importance and are less convinced that harsh actions will secure more cooperation from Islamabad, they said.

Pakistan fiercely denies allowing any militant safe havens on its territory.

The Trump administration is exploring a new approach towards Pakistan, Reuters has reported. Potential responses under discussion include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

Source: Voice of America

WASHINGTON Since taking office, U.S. President Donald Trump has shown an affinity, and perhaps even a deference, to the generals he has surrounded himself with in his Cabinet and at the White House, save one exception: the war in Afghanistan.

More than a dozen interviews with current and former U.S. officials familiar with the discussions reveal a president deeply frustrated with the lack of options to win the 16-year-old war, described internally as “an eroding stalemate.”

The debate carries echoes of the same dilemma Barack Obama faced in 2009. Then, as now, odds are that Trump will ultimately send more troops, current and former officials say.

“It’s the least worst option,” one former U.S. official familiar with the discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity, while acknowledging that with Trump, a pullout cannot be completely ruled out.

Trump’s defense secretary, retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, has had the authority for nearly two months to add thousands more troops to the roughly 8,400 there now (down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2011). Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, requested the troops back in February.

But officials say Mattis won’t use his authority until he has buy-in from Trump for a strategic vision for America’s longest war. Beyond more troops for Afghanistan, the strategy would aim to address militant safe havens across the border in Pakistan.

That too has become a divisive issue, with several members of Trump’s inner circle split on how hard to press Islamabad.

Sources say that the discussions � which included a high-level White House meeting on Thursday � could drag out for the rest of the summer, blowing past a mid-July deadline to present a war strategy to an increasingly impatient Congress.

After Thursday’s meeting, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, people familiar with the deliberations told Reuters that a final decision did not appear imminent.

Pentagon officials have declined to comment on internal deliberations. The White House has also declined to comment ahead of a decision on the strategy.

Commander under scrutiny

While U.S.-backed fighters are rolling back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the same cannot be said of the fight against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the conditions in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through next year, even with a modest increase in military assistance from America and its allies.

During a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump said Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, might want to consider firing Nicholson, who was picked by Obama in 2016 to lead the war effort and has earned the respect of Afghan leaders.

“We aren’t winning,” Trump told them, according to accounts of the conversation.

But current and former officials say the frustration had been mounting for months.

At least as far back as February, one former U.S. official said the internal deliberations about Afghanistan were not aimed at creating a broad set of options for Trump.

Shortly before McMaster was due to present his plan to Trump for approval ahead of the May NATO summit, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to endorse it, saying Trump was not being presented with options, the former official and another current official said.

“The lack of options meant that the only recommendation that was originally to be put forward to the president was essentially the status quo,” the former official said, discounting the troop increase as any serious shift in strategy.

But in the months since, the possibility of a full pull-out has been repeatedly presented and refined along with a true “status-quo” option in which no new troops are sent to Afghanistan, but none are pulled out either.

Still, U.S. defense leaders are not believed to be favoring those options.

David Sedney, a former Pentagon policy advisor under the Obama administration, said failure to prioritize Afghanistan could replicate the mistakes by previous U.S. presidents.

“We’ve been ambivalent about Afghanistan for the last 17 years and when you have an ambivalent policy, it fails,” said Sedney, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank in Washington.

McMaster, Mattis, Tillerson, Dunford, Nicholson and some U.S. intelligence officials argue that refusing to commit more U.S. forces to train, equip and in some cases support the Afghan security forces would eventually result in the Taliban retaking most of the country from the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

Trump’s concerns about Afghanistan are shared by some senior officials close to the president, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, who, officials say, is skeptical about the need for an increase in troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan also divides team

Divisions have also emerged within Trump’s administration on how much to pressure Pakistan, and how quickly, in order to address militant safe havens blamed for helping prolong Afghanistan’s war.

Nicholson, McMaster and Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, favor taking a strong hand with Pakistan to deal with Taliban militants using that country as a base from which to plot attacks in Afghanistan, current and former officials say.

On the other side are State Department officials and others at the Pentagon, including Dunford, who take a broader view of Pakistan’s strategic importance and are less convinced that harsh actions will secure more cooperation from Islamabad, they said.

Pakistan fiercely denies allowing any militant safe havens on its territory.

The Trump administration is exploring a new approach towards Pakistan, Reuters has reported. Potential responses under discussion include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

Source: Voice of America

Don’t politicize Hajj: Makkah Imam Bin Humaid

Makkah (IINA) – Sheikh Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid, imam and khateeb of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, has stressed that the pious ritual of Hajj should not be used to further the vested political interests of any group or any nation.The Kingdom’s stand…

Makkah (IINA) – Sheikh Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid, imam and khateeb of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, has stressed that the pious ritual of Hajj should not be used to further the vested political interests of any group or any nation.

The Kingdom’s stand on the issue, he said, is very unequivocal: It strictly forbids turning the pilgrimage into political activities where ideologies, parties, sects, schools of thought and systems of government compete with each other to gain some brownie points on any given issue. Delivering the Friday sermon to the thousands of pilgrims converging on the Grand Mosque from across the globe, Bin Humaid reiterated that engaging in such political activities, seriously compromises with the noble and high religious sanctity attached to the Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Sheikh Bin Humaid said the Kingdom does not allow exploitation of religion by any one in the holy sites for it diverts the pilgrims’ attention from their main goal which is to spend all their time and effort in worshiping Almighty Allah and carrying out their Hajj rites with devotion and sincerity of purpose. Politicization of Hajj rites, he said, will not bring any good to the Ummah which is already suffering from discord and differences.

The Kingdom is entrusted with providing all services to the pilgrims and caring for them. It is all responsible for taking strict and firm measures to safeguard the security of the country, people, citizens, expatriates, Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors, he said. The security of the country and the holy sites does not permit any action that butts this spiritual atmosphere, harms the public interest or causes disrespect to the general sensibilities of Muslims, he said.

The government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, state officials and Saudi people spare no effort to serve the Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors, just to gain Allah’s pleasure and expecting suitable reward from Him. The responsibility of providing best possible services and facilities to the pilgrims has been divinely entrusted on the Saudi government and its people and they are doing their best to perform this task diligently and sincerely, he said.

Sheikh Bin Humaid further said that the Kingdom has a constant policy. It does not prevent any Muslim from visiting the Grand Mosque in Makkah or the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah irrespective of his political stance or sectarian affiliations. On the contrary, it welcomes all and is hospitable to all. He stressed that the only slogan in Hajj is the slogan of monotheism Labbaika Allahumma labbaik (O God here I am! O God here I am!).

Meanwhile in his sermon, Sheikh Salah Al-Budair, imam and khateeb of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, focused on the merits of the Hereafter. He said that this worldly life is transitory; the real and eternal life is the life of the Hereafter, which is more important and everlasting. Therefore, he said, a Muslim must ensure that his aim is to please Allah Almighty, ask His forgiveness and earn an abode in paradise

Source: International Islamic News Agency

OIC condemns terrorist attack on African Union troops in Somalia

Jeddah (IINA) � The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned Sunday’s terrorist attack by al-Shabaab militants on a Ugandan convoy of African Union peacekeepers near Golweyn village, 120 kilometers south of Somali capital Mogadishu, which killed more than 18 soldiers.

OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen expressed his regret over the incident and the ongoing terrorist acts by al-Shabaab seeking to destabilize security and stability in Somalia.

The secretary general also expressed his sincere sympathy to the governments of Somalia and Uganda as well as the African Union. He further offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, and affirmed the OIC’s solidarity with Somalia and the provision of full support for the restoration of security and stability in the country.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

Jeddah (IINA) � The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned Sunday’s terrorist attack by al-Shabaab militants on a Ugandan convoy of African Union peacekeepers near Golweyn village, 120 kilometers south of Somali capital Mogadishu, which killed more than 18 soldiers.

OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen expressed his regret over the incident and the ongoing terrorist acts by al-Shabaab seeking to destabilize security and stability in Somalia.

The secretary general also expressed his sincere sympathy to the governments of Somalia and Uganda as well as the African Union. He further offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, and affirmed the OIC’s solidarity with Somalia and the provision of full support for the restoration of security and stability in the country.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

Pakistan, Maldives agree to further enhance bilateral ties

Male (IINA) � Pakistan and Maldives on Tuesday agreed to further enhance their bilateral relations in various fields, overcome common challenges and work jointly to make the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) a vibrant organization, Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported.

Speaking at a joint press conference here along with President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said they exchanged views and ideas to further expand and strengthen bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest, including trade, education, tourism, defense and people-to-people contacts.

Prime Minister Sharif is on a three-day official visit to the Republic of Maldives at the invitation of President Abdul Gayoom, and will be the chief guest at the 52nd Independence Day celebrations of the country on Wednesday, July 26.

Sharif said they had a complete meeting of minds on the need to overcome common challenges such as climate change and terrorism. He added that they also agreed to work together to make the SAARC a vibrant organization and a vehicle to realize their shared dreams for a peaceful and prosperous region.

For his part, President Abdul Gayoom said the bonds of goodwill and amity would endure and continue to manifest themselves in ever-closer cooperation between the two countries, not only bilaterally but at all the relevant international fora as well.

The president commended Pakistan’s tremendous contributions to Maldives in the field of education and thanked the prime minister for the establishment of a medical college for the people of Maldives. He said they also agreed to join their efforts for eradication of terrorism and extremism.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

Male (IINA) � Pakistan and Maldives on Tuesday agreed to further enhance their bilateral relations in various fields, overcome common challenges and work jointly to make the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) a vibrant organization, Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported.

Speaking at a joint press conference here along with President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said they exchanged views and ideas to further expand and strengthen bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest, including trade, education, tourism, defense and people-to-people contacts.

Prime Minister Sharif is on a three-day official visit to the Republic of Maldives at the invitation of President Abdul Gayoom, and will be the chief guest at the 52nd Independence Day celebrations of the country on Wednesday, July 26.

Sharif said they had a complete meeting of minds on the need to overcome common challenges such as climate change and terrorism. He added that they also agreed to work together to make the SAARC a vibrant organization and a vehicle to realize their shared dreams for a peaceful and prosperous region.

For his part, President Abdul Gayoom said the bonds of goodwill and amity would endure and continue to manifest themselves in ever-closer cooperation between the two countries, not only bilaterally but at all the relevant international fora as well.

The president commended Pakistan’s tremendous contributions to Maldives in the field of education and thanked the prime minister for the establishment of a medical college for the people of Maldives. He said they also agreed to join their efforts for eradication of terrorism and extremism.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

Muslim mother sues school in London for banning her from wearing face veil

London (IINA) – A Muslim mother has launched legal action against her daughter’s school in London after it was told that the mother was not allowed to wear a face veil on the premises.Rashida Serroukh, 37, a mother of three girls, was reportedly told b…

London (IINA) – A Muslim mother has launched legal action against her daughter’s school in London after it was told that the mother was not allowed to wear a face veil on the premises.

Rashida Serroukh, 37, a mother of three girls, was reportedly told by teachers during a parents evening at the prestigious Holland Park school in west London that it was the school’s policy not to allow face veils.

Serroukh, a devout Muslim who has worn a face veil for the past 14 years, told The Guardian, she was very shaken when a teacher at the school approached her and took her to a room to inform her of the unwritten policy, The Independent Newspaper reported.

I was very shaken and was in a state of shock about what had happened. I had never experienced anything like this before,” she said. I have experienced name calling in the street from strangers about my veil, but nothing like this had ever happened before. When I got home, I just broke down.

Serroukh, a qualified childcare assistant who used to study at the school herself wrote to the school for clarification on the face veil ban.

She received a reply from the deputy head teacher stating that it had not been necessary to date for the school to have this requirement stated in written policy”. It continued: Given the concerns you have raised, we are now considering a written amendment to our health and safety policy to include this specific requirement and will follow the normal protocol of seeking the approval of the governing body.

Guidance from the department for education states that it is up to individual schools to decide whether staff and pupils can wear face veils, but it says nothing about parents and other visitors.

In the second letter, the school wrote: We would wish to reiterate that no offence was intended when met with you to discuss the situation on the evening of the welcome interviews and it was the school’s intention to provide clarity and transparency.

However, Serroukh, who plans to return to work when her 11-year-old daughter is settled in school, said no policy had been mentioned before, and she had never had a problem with security at the school gate, adding: “I always lift my veil and show my photo ID when required to do so for security purposes.”

She said she thought at first that the teacher who raised the veil issue had misunderstood and thought her daughter would be attending school in a face veil. I explained clearly that my daughter wears a headscarf and would not be coming to school in a face veil. Then I realised she was talking about me not my daughter, she said.

Serroukh said the incident left her feeling like she doesn’t belong, even though she lives across the road and used to attend the school.

What has happened to me at Holland Park is discrimination. I hope we can resolve the matter amicably, she added. Education is very important to me, and I want to ensure that all my children get a good education. My daughter, who will be starting at Holland Park after the school holidays, did really well in her Year 6 SATs and was the top girl in her class.

The government constantly talks about British values. To me, those values include diversity and multiculturalism. If a school in London is doing this, what might be happening elsewhere?

Attiq Malik, of Liberty Law Solicitors, who is representing Serroukh in court, said the case was not just about one incident but a question of human rights of every citizen in the country.

The main question being raised is this woman’s freedom of expression and her freedom of the belief being infringed unduly, he told The Independent. Schools should be allowed to dictate to people what they can and cannot wear on the premises, but what we say is there can’t be unlimited power of that, it has to be subject to the rule of law and human rights in this country.

If people are not allowed to come to premises wearing a niqab, for example, does this not pave the way for a raster not to be allowed to wear dreadlocks, or a Sikh not being allowed to wear a turban? What are we opening the door to?”

He added: It’s a much bigger issue about human rights of every citizen in this country. And it’s become a bigger issue in recent years unfortunately due to the Islamophobic narrative that has been going on.

Today it might be a lot of Muslims being targeted, but hate sees no boundaries of race, colour or religion, so if you allow it to take place on one group today and it isn’t challenged tomorrow it could many other groups in society.

Holland Park school has not yet responded to repeated requests to comment.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

GOVT SPENDING OVER RS10B ON DEVELOPMENT, BEAUTIFICATION OF PESHAWAR

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, government is spending over ten billion rupees on the development and beautification of Peshawar city.Official sources told Radio Pakistan Peshawar correspondent that construction of six flyovers at different places in the city …

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, government is spending over ten billion rupees on the development and beautification of Peshawar city.

Official sources told Radio Pakistan Peshawar correspondent that construction of six flyovers at different places in the city has been planned to overcome traffic problem.

Besides construction of two toll plazas, Ring Road Peshawar will be improved.

The sources added that road and street lights in the city will also be converted to solar energy.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Policeman killed in Egypt attack

Cairo, (IINA) – Gunmen attacked a three-car Egyptian police convoy on the main Cairo-to-Fayoum road killing one policeman and injuring three others, Egypt’s state-run MENA reported.MENA quoted an Interior Ministry statement late Thursday as saying the …

Cairo, (IINA) – Gunmen attacked a three-car Egyptian police convoy on the main Cairo-to-Fayoum road killing one policeman and injuring three others, Egypt’s state-run MENA reported.

MENA quoted an Interior Ministry statement late Thursday as saying the gunmen fired at the last car from plantation land alongside the road.

Fayoum, an oasis province southwest of Cairo, is considered by security authorities as a traditional stronghold of the terrorist Islamic Brotherhood.

Insurgents have carried out a number of attacks in Egypt since the 2013 military ouster of an elected Islamist president. Most of the violence has been concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Source: International Islamic News Agency