Thousands of Indian Muslims signing up for Iraq

Updated 28 June 2014

Thousands of Indian Muslims signing up for Iraq

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Muslims in India have signed up to defend Iraq’s shrines and, if need be, fight militants in the country where the civilian death toll from the Sunni insurgents’ advance is estimated at least 1,300.
Denouncing the militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as terrorists, these Indian Muslims have filled out forms, complete with passport-size photographs and photocopied identification documents, to travel to Iraq.
Leaders of Anjuman E. Haideri, the religious organization spearheading the effort, said they might march to the Iraqi embassy in New Delhi on Friday to deliver the forms.
A Shia cleric is leading the effort and the volunteers want to protect shrines venerated by the sect in Iraq, but the group’s leaders say their cause is not sectarian.
Already at the group’s headquarters located off Karbala Road in a leafy New Delhi neighborhood, picket signs of “It’s not Shias vs Sunnis (it’s) Iraqis vs Terrorists” have been prepared.
“They aren’t Muslims. Jihad means to defend. Jihad doesn’t mean to kill,” said Syed Bilal Hussain Abidi, a senior member of the group as he showed graphic footage on his cellphone of beheadings and bombs exploding in Iraq.
“We could travel to Iraq to form a human chain to save people from being tortured. We could fetch water and donate blood and do anything to save our shrines,” he said, surrounded by brightly colored files stacked with volunteers’ forms.
Even though Muslims are a minority accounting for only 15 percent of Indians, they still number about 175 million, making them the third-largest Muslim population in the world.
Whether the volunteers will be granted visas and allowed to travel to Iraq is not clear. Officials at the Iraqi embassy were not immediately available to comment.
India’s foreign ministry has said it will not allow Indians to go to Iraq because of the security situation in a country where 40 Indian hostages are being held in an undisclosed location and 46 Indian nurses are stranded in Tikrit hospitals.
But Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, the group’s general secretary, said that since the Indian government does not plan to send forces to Iraq, the supporters have little choice but to head over there themselves.
So far, the volunteers, who range from engineers to students and police officers, have signed a form that says: “I firmly believe that terrorism of all kinds including the one which is being inflicted by known terror groups in Iraq is not only a serious threat to innocent Iraqis (irrespective of their religious beliefs) but is also a threat to the entire humanity.”
The group said it has 100,000 signatories from across India and has held several demonstrations “against terrorism” in Delhi and other cities.
The group wants to defend shrines spread across Iraq in the cities of Karbala, Najaf, Samarra and Kirkuk, but also stem the rise of crude oil prices that have shot up as a result of the crisis and could hit importer India hard.
“If they need help, we’re ready from Hindustan,” said Dilawar Abbas, a group member, using another name for India. If the ISIL is in Iraq right now, “tomorrow they can be in India.”


China accuses US of harassing Chinese students, researchers

Updated 03 August 2020

China accuses US of harassing Chinese students, researchers

BEIJING: China on Monday accused the United States of “monitoring, harassing and willfully detaining” Chinese students and researchers in the US
Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s comments follow the denial of a bail request in California for a university researcher accused of lying about her ties to China’s military and governing Communist Party to gain access to the United States.
Wang also criticized the Trump administration for imposing sanctions on a major paramilitary organization in the country’s western Xinjiang region and on two officials for alleged human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities.
Wang said China had no intention of helping Juan Tang escape from the United States, but did not otherwise comment directly on the accusations against her.
However, he said China urges the US to “handle the case fairly in accordance with the law and ensure the safety and legitimate rights and interests” due to Tang.
“For some time, the US, with ideological prejudice, keeps monitoring, harassing and willfully detaining Chinese students and researchers, and making presumptions of guilt against Chinese researchers,” Wang said.
“The US actions have seriously violated the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and severely disrupted the normal cultural and personnel exchanges between China and the US, which amounts to outright political persecution,” he said.
In denying bail, US Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes said Tang, 37, would have reason to leave the country if released. Tang has been held without bail since July 23 when she was arrested after she left the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to seek medical care for her asthma.
Tang, who has a doctorate in cellular biology, entered the United States on Dec. 27, 2019, to work at the University of California, Davis, as a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Alexandra Negin, an assistant federal public defender, said in her filing asking the court for her release on bail. The lab closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and Tang had been preparing to return to China, Negin said.
Tang and three other scientists living in the US face charges of lying about their status as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army, or PLA. All were charged with visa fraud, the Justice Department said.
Tang was the last of the four to be arrested after the Justice Department accused the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco of harboring a known fugitive.
Negin said Tang went to the consulate to seek help and remained there after FBI agents questioned her at her Davis apartment on June 20 and executed a search warrant, seizing her passport and visa.
Agents found photographs of Tang in a uniform of the civilian cadre of the PLA and also reviewed articles from China that identified her military affiliation. Negin argued that the evidence against Tang is based on old photographs from when she was a student at a medical school run by the military and documents that were translated on apps.
Wang said the US State and Treasury Department penalties targeting the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps “seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs and violated the basic norms of international relations.”
The sanctions hit the corps, its commander and former political commissar for alleged abuses against Uighur Muslims, including mass arbitrary detentions, forced labor and torture. They freeze any assets the targets may have in US jurisdictions, and perhaps more significantly, bar Americans from doing business with them,
Wang repeated China’s assertion that it has been acting against violence, terrorism and separatism and that “Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnic groups, or religions at all.”
China has used that in an attempt to deflect international condemnation of its internment of more than 1 million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in prison-like camps that it calls re-education and job training centers, along with other abuses.
The corps acts like a parallel government in the vast, resource-rich region, operating its own schools, courts and a large network of businesses.