Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

Malaysia Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the country will not host any events in future involving Israel. (AP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

  • Malaysia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian plight
  • The government said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in July that serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel.
Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, is among the predominantly Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The government has said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in eastern Sarawak state in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the Cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue,” Saifuddin said after meeting a coalition of Muslim groups. The groups submitted a memorandum urging the government to stick to the ban and not to repeat mistakes in the past of allowing Israel delegates into the country.
Saifuddin said the Palestinian cause was not just a religious issue but also a human right violation.
“It’s about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,” he said.
Israel’s Paralympic Committee did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment on Malaysia’s move.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the International Paralympic Committee can withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the July 29-Aug 4 championship involving athletes from some 70 countries if they wish to do so. The committee has said it was disappointed with Mahathir’s comments but hopes to find a solution to the issue.
This isn’t the first time Malaysia has stopped Israeli athletes from competing in a sports event. In 2015, two Israeli windsurfers had to withdraw from a competition on the resort island of Langkawi after they were refused visas to enter. The following year, Malaysia decided not to host a 2017 conference of the world football governing body FIFA because an Israeli delegation was scheduled to participate.
But earlier this year, the government allowed a high-level Israeli delegation to attend a UN conference in Kuala Lumpur, sparking widespread anger among Muslim groups.
Some 60 percent of Malaysia’s 32 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. Many have taken to the streets in the past to support the Palestinian cause.


Pakistan arrests Hafiz Saeed, accused mastermind of Mumbai attacks

Updated 6 min 42 sec ago
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Pakistan arrests Hafiz Saeed, accused mastermind of Mumbai attacks

  • Counter-terrorism officials arrested Hafiz Saeed while he was on his way to the central Pakistan town of Gujranwala

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan authorities on Wednesday arrested Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of a four-day militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, on terror finance charges, a spokesman for the chief minister of Punjab said.

The move came days before a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has vowed to crack down on militant groups operating in Pakistan.

Saeed, designated a terrorist by the United States, is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or Army of the Pure, the militant group blamed by the United States and India for the Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 160 people.

He has denied any involvement and said his network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services, has no ties to militant groups.

A spokesman for Punjab Governor Shahbaz Gill said Saeed was arrested near the town of Gujranwala in central Pakistan.

“The main charge is that he is gathering funds for banned outfits, which is illegal,” the spokesman said.

Pakistan, which is included on the so-called “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force, a money laundering and terror finance watchdog, has been under increasing pressure to stop the financing of militant groups.

The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed’s conviction over the Mumbai attacks.