Muslims denounce Trump’s call for 'US ban'

Muslims denounce Trump’s call for 'US ban'
Updated 30 October 2016

Muslims denounce Trump’s call for 'US ban'

Muslims denounce Trump’s call for 'US ban'

ISLAMABAD/CAIRO/JAKARTA: Muslims all over the world on Tuesday denounced Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, dismissing the US Republican presidential front-runner as a bigot who promoted violence.
Trump’s statement on “preventing Muslim immigration” drew swift and fierce criticism from many directions at home, including from the White House and rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump, responding to last week’s California shooting spree by two Muslims who the Federal Bureau of Investigation said had been radicalized, called for a complete block on Muslims entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
“It’s so absurd a statement that I don’t even wish to react to it,” said Asma Jahangir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent human rights lawyers.
“This is the worst kind of bigotry mixed with ignorance. I would imagine that someone who is hoping to become president of the US doesn’t want to compete with an ignorant criminal-minded mullah of Pakistan who denounces people of other religions ... Although we are not as advanced as the US, we have never elected such people to power in Pakistan.”
Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa warned that Trump’s “extremist and racist” call could fuel hate and tensions in American societ.
“It is unfair to sanction all Muslims because of a group of extremists... we can’t accuse one religion or one country of being a source of extremism and terrorism,” it said in a statement.
Urging Americans to reject Trump’s call, Dar Al-Iftaa said his proposal “will lead to conflict... and increase hate, which will be a threat to social peace in the United States.
“This will give a chance to extremists from all parties to realize their criminals aims,” it said.
Tahir Ashrafi, the head of the Ulema Council, Pakistan’s biggest council of Muslim clerics, said Trump’s comments promoted violence.
“If some Muslim leader says there is a war between Christians and Muslims, we condemn him. So why should we not condemn an American if he says that?“
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said his government would not comment on election campaigns in other countries, while adding that his country had made know its position on terrorism.
“As the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia affirms that Islam teaches peace and tolerance,” he told Reuters. “Acts of terror do not have any relation with any religion or country or race.”
Din Syamsuddin, chief of Indonesia’s Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Muslim organization in the country, said Trump’s comments were a joke.
“It is laughable that there is a person in this modern, globalized era who is so narrow-minded as to ban some people from entering America,” he said.
Rizki Aulia, a white-collar worker in Jakarta, said there was no relation between Muslims and terrorism.
“I think terrorism is not about religion. Non-Muslims do it too, so why should Muslims be banned from entering the US?“

Under fire from own partymates
Trump’s comments at a rally on Monday in South Carolina followed last week’s attacks in San Bernardino, California, by a Muslim couple in which a Muslim couple killed 14 people:.
The husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, was US-born. The wife, Tashfeen Malik, was born in Pakistan and came to the United States from Saudi Arabia.
The comment prompted criticism from Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, who said Trump was “unhinged.”
Somchai Jewangma, an officer with Thailand’s Sheikhul Islam Office, which governs the country’s Muslims:
“I don’t think that can ever be done. The United States has economic ties with Islamic countries and there are millions of Muslim people in America. This is just a policy to please those who don’t like Muslims and to gain more support.
“It’s true that there are Muslim extremists, those who don’t have good intentions for Islam. But there are 1.7 billion Muslim people in the world. If we were all bad, then the world would be uninhabitable.”
Somchai also said entry rules already have become stricter: “When I applied for a US visa, I was inspected for months.”
Azra Khan, president of the Canberra Islamic Center in Australia, said Trump’s proposal is the wrong way to address last week’s attack in San Bernardino, California, in which a Muslim couple killed 14 people:
“Clearly Donald Trump is trying to inflame the situation. Clearly this tragedy is not about Muslims.
“He could better improve the situation if he were to say, ‘Let the US take guns more seriously and ban them.’ That one simple solution would be much more suitable and make the streets of America far safer.”

‘Clutching at straws’
Nur Jazlan Mohamad, Malaysian deputy home minister, said the proposal is not aligned with America’s image as tolerant and democratic, and could play into the Daesh group’s hands by alienating Muslims who are already in the US. “His proposal reflects the thinking of many people in America, and this is worrying,” he said.
Keysar Trad, the chairman of the Sydney-based Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said Trump’s statement reflected political desperation.
“Donald Trump’s statement is a desperate statement by a desperate man who knows that he’s clutching at straws and has no chance of winning the election. So he’s trying to win it off the back of the Islamophobia industry.”
Mahroof Khan, an Islamic scholar in the northern Indian city of Lucknow, said, “America calls itself the champion of human rights all over the world. I’m appalled that someone running for president in that country is publicly spreading such views. If he says he has made these comments in the context of terrorism, then he should know that the majority of the Muslim world condemns those who use Islam to spread terror.”
Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American business consultant who moved from Youngstown, Ohio, to Ramallah, West Bank, in the 1990s, called the comments “disgraceful” and “absurd.”
“The backlash is going to be against Muslims. The Muslim community understands the inherent racism in some pockets of US political life. This makes the melting pot not melt at the end of the day.”
Bahour said relatives in the US have been telling him “how they are hearing comments in the street, supermarkets, really racist comments. It’s not going to be the same being a Muslim in America, even once this passes.”

Racist
Aziza Yousef, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, “He’s racist... I think Trump is representing himself. I don’t think he represents Americans.”
“Why is it that when there are crazy people who happen to be Muslim, they blame all Muslims? I will not be responsible for someone who commits a crime who happens to be a Muslim. I will not defend myself or defend Islam because a guy or person who happens to be Muslim did something stupid.”
Yousef is traveling to her vacation home in Virginia this weekend with her children and grandchildren as she does every year. “I spend a lot of money there three to four months out of the year. Muslim tourists and those that live there as students help the economy of the United States.”
Manoon Hayeemohlor, a university student from Pattani, Thailand, said: “I feel so bad. Why would he say he will shut Muslims out? It’s not like all Muslims are bad. If this (shutdown of Muslims) ever goes through, I think the Middle East would close themselves from Americans as well. If they do that, it would affect the US as well. When Muslim people go to America, we actually contribute to the country’s GDP.”
Amidan Shaberah, the chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, said Trump’s comments were a “big, big mistake.”
“He should not turn a blind eye to the fact that most of Muslims in world strongly condemned any kind of extremism and radicalism in the name of Islam and our hearts and prayers go out to all victims of terrorism regardless of their faith. Trump’s statement clearly shows us that Western society has a phobia against Islam, that people cannot distinguish between Islam and terrorist acts that rejected by mainstream Muslims.”
Ikebal Patel, former president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, said: “He’s trying to alienate not only the Muslim population of the United States but all the Muslims around the world. Nobody in their right mind would in any way condone what has just happened with those two individuals in that town, but to condemn in one fell swoop all the Muslims and to try to suggest that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in America is quite ridiculous.”
Khalid Rashid, an imam in Lucknow, India, added: “This is an attack on religious freedom. Mr. Trump should know better than us that all over America there are thousands of mosques and Islamic centers. Muslims are a big minority that contributes to America’s economy.
“Most Muslims anywhere in the world do not hate any one country or city or its people. They may oppose the policies of some countries that they feel oppress Muslims. But they don’t hate any country, be it America or any other place.”


British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge
Updated 08 May 2021

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge

British-Muslim entrepreneur brings Ramadan to a close performing adhan over London’s Tower Bridge
  • “I am just an ordinary individual and for me to be blessed with such an opportunity is humbling,” Rahman said
  • Last year, he performed the adhan in Canary Wharf, the heart of London’s financial district

LONDON: A British-Muslim entrepreneur serenaded London’s Tower Bridge with the adhan as the sun set over the British landmark on the last Friday of Ramadan 2021. 
Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, 35, delivered the adhan in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin, Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla, wearing a white thobe and Saudi ghutra on Friday as part of an interfaith virtual iftar.
It is a style that he has perfected since childhood and has fueled the British-Bangladeshi’s passion for performing the adhan in public. 
Mulla has been a muezzin at the Grand Mosque since 1975 and his voice is recognized by Muslims worldwide regardless of whether they have visited Makkah.
The adhan at Tower Bridge marked the end of an iftar hosted by Tower Hamlets Homes, the East London Mosque & London Muslim Center and Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum.
Rahman spoke of the huge satisfaction he gets from delivering the adhan in public and how grateful he felt for being given the opportunity to deliver one from Tower Bridge.


“I am just an ordinary individual and for me to be blessed with such an opportunity is humbling,” he said.
Although Rahman has been performing the adhan in mosques and at events for more than two decades, this is the second time he had delivered it at an iconic London location.
Last year, he performed the adhan in the heart of London’s financial district, Canary Wharf, and the video of his performance was watched millions of times.
Rahman added he hopes to deliver the adhan at “other global iconic locations such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
“After delivering the adhan in Canary Wharf last year, I realized that the call to prayer is such a strong message and that I was sending it out across the world via social media,” Rahman said.  
“It had such a huge reach even on LinkedIn, and many non-Muslims said how mesmerizing they found the adhan, and were asking about what it actually was,” he added.
Rahman said he was initially shocked at the amount of traction the video of last year’s adhan received. “But then I realized that this is the word of God and the call to prayer and therefore it’s bound to reach that many people,” he said. 
“The impact of last year’s adhan was just unbelievable. The video reached millions of viewers.”
Ahead of performing the adhan at Tower Bridge, Rahman told Arab News he was nervous as he wanted to live up to last year’s performance. 
“I don’t want it to go wrong and I want to live up to expectations. However, I am also reminding myself to do this for the sake of God only. With social media, it’s easy to get sidetracked and think about the traction that this delivery of the adhan will get. But that shouldn’t be my intention. I keep reminding myself that I am doing it for the sake of God and for Him alone.”
London-based Rahman said he thanks God for giving him this opportunity and a melodious voice.  
“I am just an ordinary person but I feel like God has favored me with such a voice and such an opportunity, both of which I am grateful for. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that the adhan I am delivering is being appreciated all around the world. It makes me praise God even more.”


Libyan coastguard vessel that shot Italian fisherman was gift from Rome

The Libyan patrol boat Ubari approaches an Italian trawler. (Photo: Italian Navy)
The Libyan patrol boat Ubari approaches an Italian trawler. (Photo: Italian Navy)
Updated 08 May 2021

Libyan coastguard vessel that shot Italian fisherman was gift from Rome

The Libyan patrol boat Ubari approaches an Italian trawler. (Photo: Italian Navy)
  • Italy and Libya signed cooperation deal in 2017 to stem flow of migrants from North Africa
  • Italian navy intervened to escort fishing vessels, which were searching for red prawns, to safety

LONDON: A Libyan coastguard vessel involved in the shooting of a Sicilian fisherman on May 6 was given to Tripoli by Italy to stop the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean, it has emerged.

Col. Massoud Abdalsamad of the Libyan coastguard told Italian media that the ship “fired warning shots into the air against vessels which had allegedly trespassed into Libyan waters.” Three Italian fishing boats had entered its territorial waters without permission in search of red prawns.

Giuseppe Giacalone, captain of one of the fishing boats, told Italian news agency ANSA: “It is a miracle we are alive. We were shot at. The cabin of our boat is full of holes.

“It was 2 p.m. on Thursday when it happened. While we were sailing towards the northeast, a Libyan patrol boat caught up with us and started shooting. The shots hit us and the dashboard glass shattered.”

An Italian navy vessel intervened in the skirmish, escorting the fishermen to safety and rescuing one who had been shot in the arm. The Italian navy later confirmed that the ship involved in the shooting, formerly known as the Ubari, was given to Libya in 2018.

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The Libyan coast guard on Thursday fired on three Italian fishing boats, injuring the captain of one of the vessels, Italian authorities said. Click here for more.

In 2017 former Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti and the head of Libya’s UN-backed government, Fayez Al-Sarraj had signed a deal in which Italy agreed to train and equip Libyan authorities in an effort to prevent migrants and refugees traveling from North Africa to Europe.

But several agencies have warned many people who attempt to flee Libya face human-rights abuses — and have accused officials of complicity.

In April the Guardian revealed Abdalsamad had been wiretapped by Italian prosecutors investigating people-smuggling operations. In June 2017, he reportedly told Italian coastguard officials who called to ask for his help to rescue a group of migrants in distress: “It’s a day off. It’s a holiday here. But I can try to help. Perhaps, we can be there tomorrow.”

The International Organization for Migration said 126 people died in the waters of the Mediterranean that weekend.

And on April 22 this year, the Ubari allegedly ignored a distress call from a vessel before 130 asylum seekers died.

Skirmishes between Libyan authorities and Italian fishermen searching for prized red prawns have been common since the 1990s. They intensified after former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi unilaterally extended the boundary of his country’s territorial waters from 12 to 74 miles offshore in 2005.

According to the Distretto della Pesca fishing cooperative, more than 60 Italian boats have been seized or confiscated by Libya in the past 25 years, with at least 40 people detained and several injured.

In September 2020, two Sicilian fishing boats, the Antartide and the Medinea, were intercepted and escorted to Benghazi. The 18 crew members, including eight Italians, six Tunisians, two Indonesians and two Senegalese, were held for more 100 days, causing a major diplomatic incident.


Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship
This file photo taken on April 27, 2021 shows Philippine coastguard personnel aboard their ship BRP Cabra monitoring Chinese vessels (R) at Sabina Shoal west of the Philippine island of Palawan. (AFP)
Updated 07 May 2021

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship

Manila allows emergency entry to Filipino seafarers on virus-hit ship
  • Half of Philippine crew on board Panamanian-flagged ship test COVID-19 positive after 2-day stop in India
  • Philippine authorities allow transfer of 2 critically ill crew members to hospital despite country’s travel ban

MANILA: Philippine authorities are providing emergency assistance to 12 members of an all-Filipino-crewed container ship who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after making a two-day port stop in India.

According to a report by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), the Panamanian-flagged MV Athens Bridge departed from India on April 22 and arrived in Haiphong, Vietnam on May 1 where the ship’s crew took a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test.

The results showed that of the 21 crewmen, 12 were positive for the virus prompting Vietnamese authorities to refuse them entry.

The ship then sailed to Manila to seek refuge despite an existing travel ban being in place in the Philippines. After arriving in the capital on Thursday, two of the seafarers were evacuated to a hospital, both in a critical condition.

The rest of the crew have remained onboard the vessel off Sangley Point in Cavite but will be moved to a quarantine facility.

The exception was granted to the MV Athens Bridge by the country’s Department of Health after an emergency meeting with the Bureau of Quarantine, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Transportation.

Filipino Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said: “Considering the growing concern of this recent variant first detected in India, we were made aware that the vessel had travel history to the country.

“But in deciding our action steps, our guiding principle was that those were our hardworking countrymen aboard and we would never leave any Filipino behind.”

He pointed out that the rescue operation had been carried out in accordance with strict health protocols on handling COVID-19 cases.

“We recognize the risk that this act of compassion brings, but we assure Filipinos that we complied with the protocols in handling COVID-19 patients and have coordinated with other government agencies to deliver urgent assistance to our countrymen. We also thank everyone who assisted the crew of MV Athens Bridge,” Duque added.


In Pakistan’s largest date producing region, Middle Eastern varieties bear fruit

In Pakistan’s largest date producing region, Middle Eastern varieties bear fruit
Updated 07 May 2021

In Pakistan’s largest date producing region, Middle Eastern varieties bear fruit

In Pakistan’s largest date producing region, Middle Eastern varieties bear fruit
  • Experiment conducted by a 70-year-old date grower in Khairpur shows Arabian varieties of dates offer better yield
  • Growing Arabian dates could help farmers harvest their crops before seasonal monsoon rains destroy them

KHAIRPUR: Five years ago, 70-year-old Ghulam Qasim Jiskani, a farmer in Khairpur, Pakistan’s largest date-producing region, experimented with Middle Eastern varieties of the fruit to see if he could increase his yield.

Today, he is spearheading a successful campaign to produce Arabian dates at home.

Pakistan is one of the top date producers and exporters in the world, with annual date production of more than 535,000 tons, according to data from the Trade Development Authority.

The main region for date cultivation is Khairpur district in southern Sindh province, Jiskani’s hometown.

On his farmland in Kot Diji village, Jiskani has planted date palm varieties that are grown in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Morocco.

“It can be a game-changer for the area’s date production and export,” Jiskani told Arab News last week, saying by planting foreign varieties of the fruit, Pakistani farmers could earn up to 15 times more from their harvest.

“I brought 400 tissues of 15 date palm varieties from Dubai five years ago,” he said.

“These trees are now laden with fruit and I plan to market the yield in July when they are ready for harvest. My experiment has been successful.”

Jiskani’s plantation covers two acres of land, but as his Arabian varieties of dates have grown so well on the land, he now plans to dedicate three more acres to the fruit and hopes other growers will follow suit.

Jiskani believes that with the Arabian varieties, local growers would be able not only to tap into domestic demand but also boost Pakistan’s date exports.

“Pakistani date farmers also have a good chance to penetrate the international market with their yield,” he said.

“With that in mind, we are striving to replace local varieties with foreign ones.”

Local farmers have already developed interest in growing the foreign varieties.

“After Jiskani’s experiment, a significant number of Khairpur’s date farmers want the government to facilitate the procurement of foreign palm tissues at feasible rates,” Mushtaq Soomro, a senior official at the Sindh Agriculture Extension Department, told Arab News.

“If they start cultivating today, 40 percent of the region’s date cultivation will transform, and we will see the exotic varieties of the fruit covering much of this land.”

One of the reasons for the growing interest was climate.

“Monsoon in Pakistan arrives in June and persists for a few months,” Soomro said.

“This is also the harvesting season for locally produced dates. Rainfall on the ready-to-rip crops is destructive, however. To get away from possible losses, growers opt for dried dates, though they are comparatively less lucrative for them. By growing the Middle Eastern varieties, though, date famers are hoping for a more exotic early monsoon crop.”

One problem with dried dates from Kahirpur is that their main export destination is India.

“For the past four years or so, however, direct trade of dried dates between India and Pakistan is on a halt, which has resulted in significant losses for local farmers,” Jiskani said. He added that another advantage of the Arabian dates was their longer shelf life and the fact that with higher fiber component they were also healthier.

Rustam Phulpoto, a representative of Khairpur’s KHajjoor Market, said by sticking to its native date types, Pakistan was not focusing on the value addition that the foreign varieties bring.

“This lack of value addition not only makes us import more but also limits our exports as well,” he told Arab News.

Under the Sindh administration’s Agriculture Growth Project 2015-2020, the government was required to import 3,000 exotic date tissues and provide them to local farmers at 70 percent subsidized rates. But that did not happen.

Jiskani, who was the focal person for the project from the growers’ side, thinks the failure was due to internal departmental rifts.

“The government should establish a laboratory for plant tissue culture or facilitate the initiative through public-private partnership,” he said.

“The growers are interested in this, but they lack the required investment.”


Myanmar shadow government’s militia gains popular support to fight military junta

Myanmar shadow government’s militia gains popular support to fight military junta
This handout photo taken on May 7, 2021 shows protesters holding up signs supporting the "People's Defence Force" during a demonstration against the military coup in Dawei. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2021

Myanmar shadow government’s militia gains popular support to fight military junta

Myanmar shadow government’s militia gains popular support to fight military junta
  • People’s Defense Force is precursor to planned Federal Union Army aimed at bringing together armed anti-junta groups
  • Self-defense groups set up across country in wake of attacks, arrests, night raids by military

YANGON: A newly formed armed militia under Myanmar’s shadow government is gaining the support of community self-defense groups and ethnic armies against the military junta that seized control of the country more than three months ago.

Since the coup on Feb. 1, the junta has killed at least 772 civilians during nationwide protests against the army takeover and violence.

The National Unity Government (NUG), the shadow government of former lawmakers of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) who were ousted by the junta, announced on Wednesday the formation of the People’s Defense Force (PDF), a precursor to the planned Federal Union Army that would bring together all groups involved in armed resistance.

The move has already been welcomed by community self-defense groups which have emerged throughout the country in the wake of constant attacks, arrests, and night raids by the military.

Zayar Win, from one of the self-defense groups in Yangon, told Arab News that in Myanmar’s largest city alone, there would be many hundreds or even thousands of people ready to take up arms.

“They are linked with each other but require leadership. With PDF leadership, I think a strong force would quickly emerge. As long as the regime is in power, there will be endless suffering of people. So, taking the military dictatorship to an end is the first priority,” he said.

Working as a construction engineer in Yangon, he used to operate a philanthropic organization that helped vulnerable groups when the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic hit the country. In April, the organization stopped its charity work and focused on supporting and fundraising for the anti-junta resistance, including those that produced explosives to attack the military.

“Sadly, we have postponed helping poor people, and shifted our focus to supporting those who are fighting the military,” he added.

Many of the civilians engaged in self-defense groups have been trained by militants from the country’s ethnic groups which also oppose the junta regime.

Sadly, we have postponed helping poor people, and shifted our focus to supporting those who are fighting the military.

Zayar Win

The Karen National Union (KNU), the oldest insurgent group fighting for the greater autonomy of the eastern Karen State that borders Thailand, and the Kachin Independence Army in the northern Kachin State and northeastern Shan State that border China, have been active supporters of anti-junta resistance.

The KNU provides military training and shelter to hundreds of dissidents and protesters who have fled army persecution.

“There are many hundreds of people receiving combat training here,” a spokesperson for the KNU’s Brigade 5 told Arab News on Thursday. “There were also many people who finished training here and returned to their places of origin waiting for this moment. The PDF would be growing very fast.”

While ethnic groups support the formation of the PDF, it is not yet clear if all of them would be willing to fight under one banner, as although opposed to the current regime, ethnic minorities do not entirely trust the shadow government whose members had alienated them when they were in power.

The KNU, however, might be willing to join the fight against the common enemy, the Tatmadaw — the armed forces of Myanmar. Since late March, the group has killed more than 200 government troops in a series of clashes.

The spokesperson said: “I personally view the PDF as the armed group representing the country’s majority Bamar ethnic people. And I personally see no hurdle in unifying the armed groups of different ethnic people to fight against our common enemy, the Tatmadaw.”

But KNU secretary-general, Saw Kwe Htoo Win, on Friday told Arab News: “There are still many issues we have to make clear before making the decision.”

In one ethnic state the decision has already been taken.

Members of the Chinland Defense Force (CDF), who with home-made rifles recently killed dozens of military personnel in the mountainous Chin State bordering India, said they would join the PDF.

“We welcome the formation of the PDF, and we would cooperate with them in fighting against the regime’s forces,” a CDF spokesman told Arab News.

He said that they would also engage with the Federal Union Army when it was formed.

“We, Chin people, just want a peaceful life. Once the revolution is over, we will return to our farmland,” he added.